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January 12, 2019

During my talk with Bridgette this afternoon I discovered that this week is NEDA’s awareness week. NEDA stands for National Eating Disorders Association. For several years, I knew almost instinctually when it was NEDA awareness week. I discovered it during conversations at the hospital, or one of Bridgette’s providers might have mentioned it, or because I was reading an article on eating disorders, or maybe like a dog has a nose for a bone, I was in tuned to anything eating disorder related. That’s no longer the case. I’m glad we can celebrate that we are free from the world in which we dwelled much longer than we’d hoped, but today I felt a little guilty that I was unaware of NEDA’s week of recognition.

I recall visions of one day helping the world of eating disorders if we ever had the opportunity. It was a time that consumed us and defined so much of our lives that I was eager to be a resource should anyone ever want one. That is, if we ever got to a place where someone would consider me a worthy resource; as in, recovered. And we are. I’m still eager to be a resource, but our lives have moved beyond eating disorders and knowing the date of NEDA’s awareness week couldn’t have been further from my mind. Praise God. I don’t say that as an ordinary salutation, but with sincere praise and gratitude for the minutes, hours, days, months, and years that He held our hearts in his hands. Seven of them, to be exact. Not that he isn’t now, but I’m happy to say I’ve released my grip a bit.

There are many things that help a person walk the road of eating disorders (or any mental health). I am convinced of a couple of key elements to overcoming an eating disorder, but even with those two factors, I know I could not have succeeded without the Holy Spirit in me.

Below is a photo that God revealed to Bridgette and me on a day I was feeling desperate for relief. Relief from the lies my child told me, relief from the trust she had broken, relief from the meal plans I monitored, relief from the meals I prepared without her seeing me prepare them, relief from the meals I was forced to prepare to her satisfaction, relief from having to alter my cooking habits, relief from altering my own eating habits, relief from driving her to and from day treatments, relief from her volatility, relief from the dr. appointments, relief from the eating disorder circle up meals. If only relief could have been given from an Alka Seltzer. But God gave me much more than a pop pop fizz fizz. He gave us himself, Mary, and Joseph. One day, exhausted on every level and after pleading with Him, he appeared on a wall in the hospital in the form of Plaster of Paris. It was enough to get me through the remaining years, because even if he wasn’t showing up on a wall, through tears, anger, and disappointments, I clung to the day he appeared on the wall and peace that surpasses all understanding guarded my heart and mind. We continued to find relief in the form of an amazing dietician in Corvallis and her therapist in Portland. Two professionals that were integral in her recovery and for whom I have the highest respect and gratitude.

At St. Vincent’s Hospital, just for us.

Bridgette had the great satisfaction this afternoon of being a guest speaker at the St. Vincent’s Eating Disorder program. After years of in and out, we got to know the staff there well. At least 3 of the staff are still there. Working with a team is a very intimate vulnerable experience for the patient and the involved family, so they know the victory as well as we do. She was invited to come talk with both the adolescent and adult programs, sharing the details of the ugliness of her journey with the victory of where she is today. So many people believe that one never truly overcomes an eating disorder, but Bridgette was there to tell them differently.

Just like our behaviors and mind forms patterns of thought when we’re unhealthy, so do our behaviors and mind form patterns when we’re healthy. If one can get themselves to a place of recovery, and live in that space long enough to form new patterns, then overcoming an eating disorder is possible. Do I believe it can return? Yes, I do. Will I live in fear of that? No, I won’t.

As a mom of a now married young woman, I no longer have the same opportunities to observe Bridgette’s behaviors. I have to trust and continue to pray that this behavior is here to stay. One of the two factors I believe are critical (and pivotal) for patient recovery is the involvement of a parent. Some people might call this parent support, but it’s much more than that. It’s not a cheerleader telling your child they can do it. The parent who is involved, scrutinizing the food intake, the meal plans, eating the meals with the child, receiving the blows of the struggling child, etc. is the scenario that will be most helpful to the patient. I pray I will never go through that again. But as her mom, I will always be aware and will risk a harsh reply by checking in with her if I see something concerning. I love her too much not to.

So, we celebrate with NEDA a day of awareness. Eating disorders are serious. It’s not just a really skinny kid who won’t eat. It’s a really skinny kid who won’t eat and is being held captive by lies they can’t overcome. And those lies can kill them. Eating disorders aren’t just anorexia. It includes over eating, binge eating, and more. If you know someone who might need help, contact NEDA, or your local doctor immediately.

Like the first doctor said when I first took Bridgette, completely unaware of what the problem could be, “We’re not playing in the sand. Get help now.” That doctor knew the signs well. Bridgette went in for an evaluation, was admitted to the hospital and didn’t come home for over two weeks.

St. Vincent’s Hospital – A welcomed visit today.

Bridgette took this picture at the hospital today. It was a place she hated and yet the staff there saved her life.

Praise God. He is the bread of life, but we have to eat bread, too!

Bridgette has her own blog about her eating disorder journey. You can find it at:

Bridgette and Goliath

 

We’ve had a lot of special recognition days at work lately: National Professional Administrative Day, National Classified Employee Week, Teacher Appreciation Week, Nurses Day; the list is extensive. I wonder though if maybe we need these days because we treat each other crappy by our lack of kindness or show of appreciation on all the other days. I’m still practicing my efforts of kindness that I learned by The Kindness Challenge that I wrote about a couple of months ago. This could possibly replace all these special recognition days. Nah, then I would’t have gotten that awesome gift certificate for a pedicure.

I’ve never been a big fan of Valentine’s Day. I like it better when make up calls occur before a date on the calendar appears. St. Patrick’s Day puts a tiny skip in my walk because I look forward to pinching people. But Mother’s Day is a little different, because mothers do feel a lack of appreciation and hallelujah, this is a day that warrants the make up call that is owed.

I am one of those moms who could talk about my kids and probably your kids for hours, especially when it comes to sports or health, being well versed in those two areas. One of my favorite memories is when our days were scheduled around playdates and rec center classes. Our days were filled with other things, but these are the things I recall with fondness, but didn’t appreciate at the time. When my son was two or three, he had a small spot in the middle back of his neck that I loved to snuggle and kiss. I’d grab his little body, wrestle it into mine, pull him tight and say, “Where’s my “favorite spot? I love my favorite spot!“ One day while on a playdate with close friends I overheard him say, “My mom loves to kiss my private spot.” EEEKS!

While some moms are looking forward to make up calls, for others this day might open wounds. You might not be a mom who takes your children’s love for granted, with a predictability of being honored on this day. You may not receive a tender word of gratitude, or have a spouse who will ensure that your child doesn’t overlook this opportunity to show his or her love. Your throat might tighten as you see proud postings on social media, suddenly wondering what the heck you’re doing staring at these expressions of love that are causing you sadness or even anger. Maybe you scoffed at the NBC report that an average of $80 is spent per person on Mother’s Day.

If you are that mother, I hope you’ll let some tears flow and ask God to restore brokenness and calm your heart. Ask for contentment when your family isn’t what you’d hoped. Remember that God says, “…In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Know that this day isn’t the end of your story, and neither is this world. Ask God to fill in the gaps where you fail. Ask that your children’s hearts continue to mend and that by His strength they will be overcomers. Know that in spite of the circumstances, and in your grief, there is one who loves our children more than we do, and in that obedience of lifting our hearts before God we will find success in the mess.

Last weekend I got to spend Mom’s Weekend with my daughter at her school. It’s her senior year in college. I’m reminded of how fast the time has gone (or tardy I am) by the photo journal I’d promised for her high school graduation that is not yet completed (it is close!). The previous eight years seemed painfully slow at times as we navigated a divorce and the loss of our foundation as we knew it, and then Bridgette’s eating disorder. Bridgette’s final year in college is one to celebrate as she’s returned to a healthy thriving young woman enjoying what most college students enjoy: independence.

While I longed for her to be independent and fully who God designed her to be, I hadn’t yet known what that looked like, and really, neither did she. Even though I desired her independence as much for her as for me, I was surprised to learn that I had grown to depend on her dependency. I was in constant contact with her, both a prescription advised by her medical team and simply by instinct; it was my mission to help her overcome this. Evidence of all our hard work revealed itself at the beginning of this last fall, and I continued to cheer her on. But my words that were once nourishment became more like excess water that she didn’t need. Our conversations were changing. Her need for my input, coaching and encouragement was decreasing. While her mind and spirit were beautifully developing, my heart was confused that it (I) wasn’t needed like I once was.

Unlike any other relationship I know, a mother’s love will navigate the path of a child with one thing in mind: to do all we can to maintain the relationship. As I navigate the course, I talk with friends, I read, I consider, and make adjustments along the way. Moving forward and pulling back, staying true to myself and honoring them, refocusing when things get wobbly, with an eye on this relationship that God granted me.

Along the way, always praying. I began praying for them daily about 10 years ago with a group called Moms in Prayer. The dedication to this weekly event created a lifelong behavior for which I am grateful. In my prayers I am humbled, I am reminded, and as in 2 Chronicles 7:14, we are promised that when we seek God’s face, he is faithful to answer us.

I never turn down a lovely gift, my favorites being a manicure or a gift card to a favorite gardening store I might add. But the joy of this gift of prayer to my children has been the gift that keeps on giving (sorry; I’m a Christmas Vacation fanatic). It’s the gift that gives back to me, bringing me reassurance and a contented heart. It’s success in the mess.

May you be filled this year with the same, and with a hopeful heart on Mother’s Day.

Arch Cape Weekend

I’ve been a little out of commission in the writing world, violating the advice I’ve been reading on the disciplines of writing. I went on a weekend Women’s retreat with a group from my church called THRIVE. I’ve mentioned this group before, commenting that at one point that was my mission: to thrive, not just survive. But then Kaiser stole it, so I backed off from proclaiming it to avoid any eye rolling when my back is turned. Thriving is still preferred over just surviving, and we definitely thrived at our retreat on the Oregon coast in Arch Cape. I haven’t been a women’s weekend gal and I’d never been to Arch Cape, but both were things I’d do again. Our group has incredibly gifted leaders who can calm a storm with a tempering word of God and send Satan’s spirits running like a bolt of lightening. We spent hours worshiping and digesting God’s word as much as we did listening and sharing with each other, without interruptions and distractions of the demands at home. The ocean spanned broad and deep, threatening, like our lives, while demonstrating God’s hand. Leaving this sanctuary for home was an adjustment for a few, and I hoped the weekend gave them respite that allowed for a new perspective and energy.

I Had a Birthday…that lasted a few days.

I had an unexpected wonderful birthday. The forecast was for rain (lots of it), it was a Monday, and I was working. At least I didn’t have a dental appointment. And it was the day after the Thrive weekend. God’s Spirit was plentiful but I was low on steam. And while I don’t detest my birthday, as I age I’m not a fan of it either. It’s not so much that I mind adding rings to my tree, but I fret about running out of time. Time to do so many things that I haven’t done. Things to do with ministry, writing, vacations with my kids, or finishing my daughter’s high school graduation gift: a photo journal of her life.

So, I wasn’t giving my birthday a lot of thought, yet there was a bit of a skip in my step when I left for work. I figured that the day would be mostly uneventful. Both of my kids were away at school, so I knew they wouldn’t be celebrating with me. I’d made plans with a friend to have dinner that night, and I’d hoped my heart would be content with that. But almost immediately surprises of birthday wishes, cards, and small gifts greeted me when I arrived to work. First of all, Bradley called and sang Happy Birthday to me. Then I was met with one of our family home made boxed chocolate cakes with canned frosting that we’ve been eating for our birthdays since the kids’ first birthdays. Bridgette had made it and brought it in the Friday before.

Tradition: Boxed chocolate cake with canned frosting.

A friend surprised me with another birthday cake, and throughout the day I received enough food to meet our staff calorie requirements for a couple of days. When I got home that night there was more love left for me at the door step and another friend came over briefly. It was wonderful and exhausting, and not once did I consider my age, what was missing in my life, or the possibility that I’m running out of time to accomplish some goals.

So in the end, thank you to my friends; fifty eight is great.

 

Such a Good Man

Last week-end I attended the memorial service of a good man. He was the dad of a dear friend, who is also a good woman. But this post isn’t about her. Yet her good dad produced many good things, and she (and her sister) are two of those good things.

Being good sounds like it might be easy because being great seems like a higher achievement. Like being good is where you are while you inch your way up (or catapult for some) to being great. But it’s not easy to be good, because the person who is good usually doesn’t set out to be good, and that’s what’s great. They make sacrifices, they take the higher road, and they humble themselves even when they’re right. Those basic acts prove to be the most difficult for most of us; they distinguish one person from the next. A person who sets out to be great emphasizes his own needs over others, which often gets in the way of being good, and that’s not so great.

Jerry wasn’t on a mission or inching himself up to achieve greatness. He went to work every day where his customers could count on his shoot it straight fashion advice. Like clockwork, his girls looked out their bay window as their eyes searched the road, anticipating his car driving toward home. On Halloweens he made costumes that surpassed his young girls’ expectations and trick or treaters returned each October to Cherryhill Drive for the man who made them giggle. He made biscuits and took them to the neighbors, and he created patterns in his lawn when he mowed, not to be great, but because he gave everything his best effort.

What else rounds off a good man? A sense of humor. He passed that on to his daughters, but my dear friend in particular can make anyone laugh, including at her daddy’s memorial service. Contrary to what most people know, Hollywood didn’t invent the red nose day, my friend did. However, no “day” is needed for her to don her red nose anywhere and anytime she’s inspired. I half expected it at the service.

Jerry was such a good man. There’s nothing greater than that.

Painting my House

Not quite there.

Have you done this? Have you searched the paint stores, the Internet, Pinterest, the home décor magazines for the right paint colors and combinations for your exterior house color? Have you driven slowly past homes taking pictures, probably mistaken for a private eye, or worse, a potential burglar? Have you painted samples on your house, thinking you’ve got the right color, then painted it on another portion of your house to discover you like it in one light, but not another? Then to decide you really do like it after all, or maybe, you still don’t? Then, which colors will best camouflage the dents in the gutters: light or dark?

This project has kept me up and kept me from doing things like, well, writing. It’s expensive and I’ll have to live with it for a very long time. Choosing a wedding dress is easier than this! Last week my painter informed me that there was a window of dry weather forecasted so we’d need to pick the colors so he could get the paint. After I aborted my weekend plans (kind of), and multiple trips to the paint store, I set to trying samples on the house that might have passed for a patchwork SOS from high up into sky. I was finally able to find peace with a decision. I was so grateful for the input of a friend who I trust with these kinds of things.

On Thursday the base color got painted and some of the trim. I like the color, but I still have some decisions to make. I’ve decided the trim is like the accessories of an outfit; it can make or break the curb appeal of my house with one wrong stroke. I came home from work and started working on the garage paint decisions, trying every combination. I don’t want an obnoxiously loud contrast, but I’d like a bold contrast. Oh my goodness, how can this be so difficult?!

I was hoping to post a solid before and after picture, but this thing is still in the works so you just get a before and middle picture. An “after” is a little ways out because our record breaking sun has turned to April showers.

The good news about this? My contractor isn’t leaving me quite yet, which makes me happy. My crush (have I mentioned this?) hasn’t waned .

I’ll keep you posted (on the painting).

Bridgette posted a new blog on her site the other day that I’m so excited to share. I will let her post speak for itself, but above all, it gives hope to anyone who is suffering from an eating disorder, and encourages anyone who suffers with mental illness.

Bridgette and Goliath

There aren’t many opportunities for me to write about eating disorders these days. The day-to-day pre-occupation that clouded my days are gone. There was a time that I didn’t even fantasize about a time like this. I hoped and worked toward Bridgette’s full recovery, but I discovered early on that there were no quick fixes. Most days we plodded along in a trance, obedient to the treatment plan, Bridgette as the patient, me as the mom who helped keep her accountable. Some days we plowed through the junk that suffocated us, grasping for fresh air.

Her healthy body giving life to someone else.

While the memories are solidly imprinted in my mind, I don’t linger there. But still, I don’t take anything for granted. The most ordinary developmental behaviors and experiences of a teenage or college age child were elusive for a long time. This year I am celebrating Bridgette’s senior year of college and her experiences. And today, we had a first. Bridgette was able to give blood.

Bridgette has been interested in giving blood since her early years in high school. But since her eating disorder started at 15 and lasted until this last year (with intermissions), her weight never qualified her. In high school she managed the school wide blood drive twice and thrived at managing the event. She was invigorated at the concept of the Red Cross and what they accomplished for so many people.

Today she saw a blood drive being promoted on a street corner, and then saw a couple of friends who were working at it fulfilling volunteer hours. As she made pleasant conversation with them she settled into the old mentality of which she’d become accustom. She didn’t consider she could donate. But suddenly the light bulb went off and she realized that, yes, she could donate blood! Her schedule has been stretched as of late with school and work.

But for this she adjusted her schedule for the 1 1/2 hour appointment and did what she hadn’t yet ever done. She gave blood, and saved 3 lives, as she pointed out.

I would never wish that another parent walk the road of an eating disorder. But it’s true that when something is elusive we appreciate it more. Oh what a bloody good day. Sorry to use my weird sense of humor on this!