Weekend highlights

Lots happened this weekend and I’ve been way too busy/preoccupied with thoughts to make a really coherent post so here goes.

Women’s conference. Amazing doesn’t really begin to explain it but it was. It was just me and Kim which was nice too. The speakers both had gone through so much in their lives (PTSD, depression, anxiety, eating disorder, abuse, etc.) and I could really relate to it. Their stories were inspiring. I’m still processing so much of it but I know that hearing it will be nothing but good for my recovery. God did huge things in their lives despite everything and He can do it for me too. After the conference I talked with Kim and a counselor from the school she works at about my ED. It was hard to tell another person but I know its a good thing she knows. Kim can have someone to go to and also if I do go to the school next year someone already knows my story. We also chatted with the speakers and they had great advice and input to how I can overcome this. Kim and I are actually going to go through a book Shelly wrote together and I’m pretty excited to see how God works through that.

Lunch out with Kim. I was so nervous going into Saturday. Despite all the good the conference was, I knew that would mean eating out for lunch. We went to Applebee’s and I just shut down. I have such a hard time picking out food from a menu so I turned that over to Kim. She ordered an oriental chicken salad with fried (total freakout here!) chicken for us to share . When the plate got to our table I couldn’t even think but she ended up putting some on my plate for me since I don’t really know how to portion out food anymore. It started out so extremely hard to even try the chicken but somehow about the third bite my anxiety went away. I enjoyed the rest of the meal. Honestly I can’t remember enjoying a new food. Most memories of food in general are so muddled and lost anyways, so having that lunch as a positive experience is huge for me.

Snack after lunch. Kim asked me if I was still hungry on the way home because she was. I told her the truth that I was but Ed says it’s a good thing. We decided to stop at the mall and get blizzards from DQ. I ate the whole thing and I didn’t die from it. I didn’t gain ten pounds. That fact blows my mind.

Church/Sunday school. I really enjoyed church. The president of the bible college I am hopefully going to was there with a quartet of students as well. It was amazing to hear all of their experiences after being at the school the day before. Every time I hear more about that school it solidifies more how much I want to go there. Its small and everyone is close and Christian. Plus Mama Joyce and Kim work there. My parents aren’t really sold yet but I know that’s where I want to end up.

Youth group. We had another great activity last night. I showed the girls “Who you are a message to all women” which is a video by the anima series. Its such an inspiring clip about what it really means to be a daughter of God. There’s also one geared toward men that Rick showed the guys. For the activity part, we wrote “I am” on a paper then different statements about ourselves, both positive and negative. Then we shared 3 good and 3 bad with the group. After this we watched the video and then wrote more “I am” statements on the back that all had to be positive and agree with the message of the video. I think it really puts into perspective how God sees us and who we really are verses what we think of ourselves. The girls really liked this activity and I want to do more along the lines of this and the last one in the future too. I love planning all of these awesome things for them.

I’ve left out all the negative events that happened this weekend. Mostly it has to do with overwhelming Ed thoughts and way more restriction than normal. Also I downloaded some not so great apps I deleted last year that track calories/weight loss… I know that I need to change if I ever expect to have a future but it’s so so hard. I can’t do it for me right now. I can barely do it for others to be honest. This week I want to try and combine some different ideas like recovering for those who love me, taking it one meal at a time, distractions for meal time, holding myself accountable, thinking of Kim and Lily who are going through similar issues, and leaning on God. I want to have a better week. I’m sick of being stuck here.


Amazing youth activity

Tonight, I wanted to do something a little different for small group with my girls. Kim stayed in with us because I knew that she needed to be here for it too.

I started off by handing out marker and a piece of notebook paper. My first instructions were to write down anything negative that you have thought about yourself or anything someone has said to you. We talked a little about how we felt reading it. Then I shared some scripture that talked about how beauty is on the inside, God’s love for us, and that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Once I was done reading I asked how they felt about that list now and explained that in God’s eyes we are beautiful and just right. Since all of these things we wrote were so against what the bible teaches we crumpled those up and threw them away.

Next came the amazing part. We each got big white pieces of paper and wrote our names down and then “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” I then had us pass it one to the right and write down anything/everything we love about that person, with special instructions not to use any comments about outward appearance. We spent a good half hour passing each paper around until everyone had comments from each person. The girls LOVED doing this but reading what other people thought made me cry. I love these girls so much already. I love being a youth leader and everything they had to say about each other and me is just.. wow. That’s honestly all I can say. I feel so loved and so worthy of it too.

Mine 🙂

I want to do more activities like this one in the future for sure and I know the girls agree.

A prayer for my youth girls

Dear Lord,

Protect them. Keep them safe in this crazy world. When they do have troubles, show them You will always be there. I know that they will feel hurt but please allow them to always see Your plan even through the hardships.

Let them always believe that they are enough. There is so much pressure to find fault in themselves. They will have to battle these thoughts often, maybe even everyday. That is not how You see them though. They were all created in Your image. They are beautiful, inside and out. In the moments of self-doubt or even self loathing may they remember how perfect they already are and how much You love them.

Keep them safe from the terrors of mental illness and eating disorders. One of my hugest fear is that any of them will have to go through the things I have. Allow me to be a support if any of them are on those paths now and show them that there is hope and freedom in You.

If and when they experience heartbreak, remind them that they are already loved by the only man who truly matters, You. You already know who their match will be. Let them overcome any pain that boys may cause. In times where love feels hopeless, let Your love shine on them.

If they ever stray away from You, help guide them back. It can be so hard to have faith, especially in times of hardship. Allow them to seek Your guidance in these times and grow close to You again.

Lastly, help me to let Your light shine as I am with them these next few years. I pray that I will continue to grow as I am a positive role model and influence on them. I know that You have given me this opportunity for a reason. Allow me to be whatever they need.


Telling the girls

I was planning on posting about this yesterday and then today and now even though Ed has me in a sour mood I won’t let him ruin my happiness from yesterday.

Moving on, yesterday started out pretty good but I woke up after barely any sleep and with tons of anxiety. I went to church alone but joined a few other “orphans” so I didn’t have to sit by myself. I immediately found Kim after church and flipped out had her reassure me it would be okay and finalized a time for our outing. I helped with Sunday school  then headed home until the outing.

Kim is amazing. I may say this about 27  times this post but seriously, it’s true. She’s very insightful and could tell I was still anxious. Her daughter Jamie*, Amber*, and Claire* were the only girls who showed up (out of 7 total). This actually was a huge blessing and I know God planned it that way. Jamie came up with the idea to go to Starbucks and Amber announced that it was adoption day at Petco so Kim quickly decided we had to do both. This gave me an extra hour or so until we went to the beach and I truly appreciate her for that.

We headed out to Starbucks and got our drinks, then went off to Petco. I think we  probably spent close to 45 minutes there. It was so so fun! There were tons of kittens and we stopped to pet each one of course. Having that extra time to just relax calmed my nerves a ton.


It was the perfect day for going to the park and beach. We had a nice walk through the woods that took quite a while since Kim stopped us for pictures a ton :). The whole time was lighthearted and all of us were laughing and smiling. Once we reached the beach we spent some time soaking in the sun and scenery. Something about the waves and beachy air calmed my nerves more. After we got a few more pictures, Kim kind of nudged me to say it was time to tell them. Thankfully, a picnic table up on the walkway was free so we took camp up there.

Kim started us off in a lovely prayer and then explained that I would be sharing my story. I was a little shaky and fumbled words, but I got through nearly all of what I wrote. Ed was screaming at me the whole time. That on top of the uncomfortable feeling that being so vulnerable gives you made it tough. I wanted to discredit myself afterwards but Kim wouldn’t let me. She kept gong on about how proud she was of me and how well i did.

After I was done the girls didn’t have too much to ask so we headed back. I chatted with Kim on the walk back while the girls stayed behind and talked together. We all jumped back in the car and went to my house.

Originally they were just dropping me off but it turned into a half hour ordeal because I had to show them Mr. Milo :). It was a great way to end. We needed something a little more lighthearted after all of the negativity an eating disorder involves.

The true highlight of yesterday was when Claire commented/texted me about the afternoon. She thanked me again and again for sharing my story, told me she loved getting to know me, that I was part of their little family now, and said that all of the girls would be helping me on Friday when there’s food at the lock in. That made me cry and I still am so happy thinking about it. I know this was the right thing to do.

Overall, I am glad I did this. It needed to come out and the girls reacted so well. I still will have to share with the remaining four girls but I’m not scared fr it. I pray that God can use this struggle as a way for the girls to connect with me or open discussion in our small groups. I am not letting Satan destroy me through this disorder anymore and now I have even more support behind me to fight it.

*I am using pseudonyms for the girls to protect their identities

Three days

In three days I will be sharing my story with my high school girls. It seems like forever since I initially decided to do this. I have spent hours reading through Bible verses, praying, and planning out exactly how I will share in a way that will be beneficial to the girls but myself as well. I have learned more about myself. I can see that the eating disorder is not all bad, even thought it has caused a ton of havoc in my life. Last Sunday I gave my outline to both Kim and Rick. Yesterday I told all of the girls what time to be at the church and how we are having a girls outing. This is really happening and I am so ready.

I messaged Kim today to make sure everything was okay with how I wrote it out and her response made me cry. I love her.

Screenshot_2014-10-09-13-03-12-1Receiving her approval has inspired me to post the outline here. I feel confident in what I have written. I hope and pray that the words I speak and scriptures I share will reach these girls in the most positive way possible.

I have been a Christian since I was very young, but also from a young age I never really loved myself or thought I was worthwhile

  • Bad self esteem/self acceptance
  • Led to self harm off and on for years and mentally beating myself up all the time
  • Didn’t believe the “I am fearfully and wonderfully made” concept

Decided to stop self harm/realize I have a problem and talk about it at NTS 2013

  • Quitting was hard but I have been SH free for nearly a year

Fall 2013 I began developing an eating disorder (anorexia) as I got better with SH

  • Skipping lunch occasionally led to an extreme fear of eating with others, later eating anything other than a few specific foods/amounts
  • Couldn’t focus on anything other than food, weight, exercise, etc
  • Continued to try and deny how bad the problem was as the year went on
  • Went to therapy but it didn’t help much
  • My relationship with God was strained badly
  • Summer 2014 it got so bad that I had to go to PHP treatment at Forest View
    • hardest thing I’ve ever done but it saved my life

Recovery hasn’t been easy at all but now I am learning to live again

  • I am so much closer to God now
  • He is showing me:
    • He will use my struggle
    • I am worthy of love
    • I am not broken
    • I am strong (feel stronger than in the worst part of my sickness)

Recovery is:

  • Learning to be patient with myself
  • Not having to be perfect
  • Learning to see myself as God and others do
  • Seeing how bad the ED truly is. It has made me separate from God, lie, hurt others who love me, close off emotionally, isolate, hate myself the way God designed me
  • Healing spiritually
  • Wanting to fight the thoughts that have hurt me for so long
  • Fully trusting in God
  • Believing I have a purpose and future
  • Beginning to really love myself

In the beginning of my recovery I had times where I asked “Why God?” I didn’t understand why I had to change at first. I didn’t get why God would let me suffer like this. I didn’t think any good could ever come from this disorder.

  • Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
  • 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 – Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
    • Paul saw his own weaknesses as areas where strength through God could come
    • Ephesians 3:13 – I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.

Learning that the ED was a bad thing and a way Satan controlled my life was hard.

  • John 10:10 – The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life; and have it to the full.
  • Galatians 5:1 – It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

I’m still learning that it doesn’t matter what I look like on the outside, but who I am. Satan’s view of beauty is all what’s on the outside, and this is also the ED’s view of beauty. God doesn’t see beauty this way.

  • 1 Samuel 16:7 – But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
  • 1 Peter 3:3-4 – Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.

The eating disorder always caused tons of anxiety – what I would eat, how to get away with skipping meals, would I be forced to eat in front of others, did I gain weight last night. I spent so much of my life the past year or two with thoughts like these. In recovery, I have worked hard to reduce my worrying. God doesn’t want me to be stuck in this worry, especially not about things like this.

  • Matthew 6:25-27 – “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
    • 34 – Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

As I leaned more on God in recovery I felt better. He was there for me through it all. I didn’t have to be perfect. God will help me even in my imperfection.

  • Psalm 34:17-18 – The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
  • Ephesians 2:10 – For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
  • 1 Corinthians talks about our bodies being temples and this has helped thinking of it that way versus the ED thoughts.

I am not perfect but I am getting better. I am not recovered but in recovery still and this is OKAY. God is showing me new things each day and He is making me stronger and more full of life. Even though I have gained weight it doesn’t make me weak or a bad person. I am healthier now. I am happier. I am able to do all these wonderful things I couldn’t be doing if I was really sick.

I don’t believe I would be where I am today if I had never gotten sick. This disorder has had all kinds of negative consequences but it also is a part of my story and who I have become. I won’t let it define me but I am letting it make me stronger, closer to God, and a better person overall.

So in approximately 72 hours I will be reading this to the girls. I’m not really nervous anymore. I am still continually praying and practicing until then, but I know that God will take care of my fears and it will go fine.

Ed is on a loudspeaker

The week so far has been… challenging. I don’t know why but Ed thoughts have been so overpowering. I can’t remember having thoughts this strong since before treatment. I have freaked out over gaining weight from water and restricted more. I don’t get why this is happening now. I wish it would go away.

Despite Ed being loud, I am trying to move forward as much as I can. Youth group on Sunday was hard because we had ice cream and donuts for a snack. Rick gave me the option to just stand off to the side or not have any but I did a small scoop and sat with my girls. I couldn’t have that chance of them watching what I do and follow my bad example. I handed out an article on Christian dating and also “Emily’s Dating Tips” during small group and they loved it. At the end of the night I decided I need to tell the girls about my struggle ASAP. We’re going apple picking next Sunday so this gives me two weeks to prepare. I am going to have Kim in there with me for support and also plan it out beforehand. I am so thankful to have her to talk to and I am praying for the right words to share this with the girls. I want there to be honesty between us and for them to be comfortable talking with me about things in their lives. I also hope to help prevent them from dealing with the struggles I have.

Yesterday I met with Paul for the first time in over two months. We talked a lot about getting more support. I know that home isn’t ever going to be a great support system for me. My parents just don’t understand eating disorders the way I need them to. I’m thinking maybe I could talk to Kim and Rick more about it when I’m struggling but I really haven’t decided anything concrete. I just feel stuck. Therapy today reiterated some of what Paul said and we discussed ways to try and tone down the ED thoughts. I want to try hard this next week to try to at least stop my slipping deeper into the ED. I don’t want to go to the hospital. I really don’t have that choice anyways with my parents and school but I can’t have that become reality.

I really want this heightened anxiety and depression and Ed thoughts to go away. I can’t do school and youth group and everything else if I keep slipping. I am at a point where I’m not functioning all that well anyways so I absolutely need to work hard to stop Ed. I don’t know what I’ll do if I can’t.

I love what I do

A month ago, I never could have imagined my life would change so much from being a youth leader. I have only done a handful of youth events, but every time I get closer to these kids and feel better about myself in the process.

Take yesterday’s overnight event, for example. It was a pretty emotional message and as the only female leader it was my job to talk with any girls who needed guidance. I was able to heavily impact one girl who has so much going on in her life. She spoke of tragedies and situations that make it hard to have faith in anything. She was angry at God. I connected with her on that and spoke briefly of my own experiences. I’ve always been nervous of praying for others but I was able to find the words she needed. Her outlook on life and God was different after because of me.

After talking with her, I also spoke with a few girls about friendships and other issues middle school girls tend to have. They all view me as a huge positive influence in their life. They don’t care if I’m not perfect. I have knowledge and love and compassion for them and I am always there to talk. When I told them these things they looked so grateful and it made me cry.

Struggling with an eating disorder makes it almost impossible to believe any part of you is good. I can’t remember a time when I thought positively about myself. In the few short weeks I’ve been helping with these groups, I feel useful. They need someone in their lives like me. I have a positive impact on them. I can help them. I am doing something so good. I have a purpose. I have a reason to recover.

In order for them to learn from me as much as I can, I want to share my story. Not the one that you see from the outside. But the truth that includes struggle and heartache as well as strength. I haven’t decided about telling the middle school about my eating disorder but I am absolutely certain I am sharing it with the high school girls. I talked with Kim (youth pastor’s wife) and she agrees. It’s a way for me to connect with them and help prevent even a few girls from having some of these issues I’ve dealt with. I also want to make them feel safe talking to me about any subject similar to that. I don’t want them to be alone like I was.

I really can’t stop smiling. I think this is going to be one of the best decisions I’ve made. I am lucky and blessed to be a youth leader. God is so good. He is going to use these things I’ve gone through to help others, I see it already.