Walking towards the light

I remember when the realisation first dawned.  It was several years ago…I was on tour with my Bible college Chorale over Spring Break and as a treat, I had inter-library-loaned several fiction books to read over the break.  One of them was Feeling for Bones by Bethany Pierce.  I don’t remember how I first heard of it (maybe Amazon mentioned it in relation to another excellent book from the same publisher, My Hands Came Away Red by Lisa McKay), but I’m very glad I did.  It’s a Christian novel about a girl who struggles with anorexia…a subject not many Christian writers would take on (or even do justice to, in my opinion).  But Bethany Pierce did an amazing job…the book is very raw and very real, something that’s not surprising when you find out that she struggled with an eating disorder as well.

For me, reading Feeling for Bones was very sobering as I could relate to many of the main character’s thoughts and feelings and the realisation hit me that I had struggled with anorexia as well.  That may sound silly to a lot of people…that I could deal with something like that and not know it.  But for me, that was because it never progressed to the physical level that it does for most girls.  Though I tried, I never could deprive myself of food…both because my parents would never let me and due to having an incredibly high metabolism in my teen years, I would faint if I went without food for a number of hours.  I had just thought of myself as a health freak in my younger teen years, one who was obsessed about her weight (even though I literally looked like a stick!).  But as I read this book, I realised that during that time in my life (early teens), I had definitely had the mind of an anorexic.

Contrary to what many people think, anorexia (anorexia nervosa) is essentially a mental illness.  The person’s mind distorts their body image from what it truly is.  I would look at my stick-thin body in the mirror and think that I was fat…I was delusional.  But until I read Feeling for Bones, I didn’t realise that was anorexia…I thought I was just concerned about how I looked.  But it was more than just concern.

Granted, putting a label on something doesn’t change it much, but for me it made me realise that the thoughts and mindset that I struggled with then were more than just the average teenage girl’s focus with how she looked.  And it would explain why those same thoughts occasionally would come back to plague me now.

And as I was thinking about this more, I realised eating disorders and other such mental illnesses (such as depression, etc.) have in essence almost become taboo subjects among Christians.  We’re recognise that Christians can struggle with illnesses like diabetes and cancer, but eating disorders and depression are viewed as ailments that the person brings upon themselves and therefore no “good” Christian should struggle with them.  Granted, each person does have to take the responsibility of taking their thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:5) and work on renewing and transforming their mind (Romans 12:2).  But doing that doesn’t “fix” those illnesses any more than taking insulin immediately “fixes” diabetes.  It still is a daily struggle and one that Christians shouldn’t be afraid to confront.

A couple months after my realisation, I heard a song by Superchic[k], entitled “Courage”.  It also is about a girl who struggles with an eating disorder and the first time I read the words and heard it, I almost cried.  The chorus is very honest:

”I need you to know
I’m not through the night
Some days I’m still fighting to walk towards the light
I need you to know
That we’ll be okay
Together we can make it through another day”

It was not surprising to find out that that song was also written out of the real-life experience of dealing with anorexia.  It’s real in recognising that an eating disorder (or any mental illness) is not just something that you “get over”.  It takes a long time…for many people, it’s something that they struggle with for the rest of their lives. “Some days I’m still fighting to walk towards the light.”  And that doesn’t mean that they’re “back-sliding” or sinning because of it…it’s an illness, the same as diabetes.  Christians need to know that…and they need to be willing to step up and walk with their brothers and sisters who are dealing with these things.  The bridge to the song “Courage” says:

“You should know you’re not on your own
These secrets are walls that keep us alone
I don’t know when but I know now
Together we’ll make it through somehow
Together we’ll make it through somehow”

It has been said that Christians are the only tribe of people who shoot their wounded and that is so true.  Of anyone, why would we leave those who are hurting alone?  Why do we snub them and look down on them because they struggle with something we don’t understand?  Christians make a point to minister to and be with those who are dealing with physical illnesses, why should it be any different for those who are dealing with mental illnesses?

I mentioned earlier that the anorexic thoughts of my teenage years still occasionally plague me now.  It’s true though they don’t control me nearly as much as they used to.  I’ll still have the random day where I look at myself and think I’m fat when I know I’m not…and sometimes those thoughts can keep barraging you even if you know they’re not true. In regards to this, I’m in a much better place than years ago, but having been further away has given me empathy for those who are still “fighting to walk towards the light”.  They need us to walk with them.


Eggplant melts

This recipe is the result of trying to come up with something that uses the super abundance of eggplant and tomatoes in our garden.  It’s basically a lighter, fresher version of eggplant parmesan…one of the favourite dishes of both my men!   So enjoy…and if you have any yummy eggplant recipes, please share them…I need more eggplant ideas!  Thank you…

Eggplant Melts

Cut ends off eggplant and slice into thin strips.  Layer strips in a bowl with generous amounts of kosher salt and let sit for an hour or so (this is to draw the bitter juices out).  Rinse thoroughly.  Bread both sides of eggplant slices in a mixture of all-purpose (plain) flour, lots of garlic powder, a good amount of fine sea salt, and pepper.  Fry slices in olive oil until golden and drain on a plate.  Arrange on a baking sheet and top with chopped cherry tomatoes and grated mozzarella cheese.  Bake at 400F until cheese is bubbly.  Remove from oven and let sit for a couple minutes…then dig in!

September ramblings

I keep thinking to myself that I’ve just blogged a couple days ago, but when I look at actual dates, I realise that it’s been over two weeks since my last post…this month has just flown by!   September has been the month of guests, guests and more guests.  Due to living in a 28-foot-long travel trailer last year, our hospitality was much hindered and so we’ve been greatly enjoying the ability to “have people over” now.  This morning, as I (with much help from my amazing husband due to my uneasy tummy) covered egg-soaked bread with cheese, sausage, tomatoes and mushrooms, we joked that I must be a “real hostess” now since I’m making strata for breakfast.  My mother-in-law is a wonderful hostess (and I know it full well from living in their house for several months before Aaron and I were married) and she often makes strata for guests’ morning repast…so therefore I decided that must be the pass into “real” hostess-dom.

With all that’s been going on during the past several weeks, I’ve been so incredibly thankful that (so far), my morning sickness has not been nearly as severe as it was when I was pregnant with Cedar.  I’ve had some morning or afternoon or evening queasiness, and the thought of certain random foods turns my stomach…but I haven’t even thrown up yet!  I know that’s not exactly typical blog news, but considering how things were with Cedar, that’s big for me.  Tomorrow I’ll be nine weeks along…already over a fifth of the way there!  Amazing…  It’s also very different being pregnant the second time around…especially this early in the pregnany (i.e. before you have a huge belly to remind you), I often find myself forgetting that I’m pregnant since I’m busy with Cedar instead of lying in bed, dreaming about my coming little one.  I still definitely do dream, but there’s not nearly as much time for it as there was with Cedar.  And that’s fine…I love this season of my life!

Tomorrow marks a year since we left for our trip to the UK…it’s crazy to think it’s already been that long!  Some of my most beautiful memories are from that trip and in remembering, I’ve found myself missing England and Ireland much in the last several weeks.  I had dreamed for years of seeing the hills of England and the cliffs of Ireland, and to be able to experience it all with my husband was more incredible than I had ever dreamed.  I can’t even begin to find the words to describe it all, but my fellow England-loving friend, Lanier, just posted a beautiful piece about her time there last year and I could relate to every word.  Lanier and her husband, Philip, were in England at the  same time Aaron and I were, and we were able to meet (more times than originally planned!) and get to know them…it was such a joy!  I hope to one day be able to go back and show my children the beauties of the islands, but we’ll see what the Lord decides to do…

From the archives: The curse of politeness

Occasionally (i.e. when I’m too tired or busy to come up with something new) I’m planning on posting different posts from my old blog…thus the “from the archives”.  A lot of my old posts I wouldn’t really want to repost (!!), but there are a couple that I like enough to share again.  This one in particular is one of my favourites since honesty and being real with each other are very important things to me.  So enjoy…and I’d love to hear your thoughts!)

originally posted September 28th, 2007

After personal experience and much thought about some of the things the Lord has been teaching me lately, I’ve come to a conclusion…politeness is a great destroyer of true fellowship and close friendships.

That may seem like a ridiculous thing to say…I mean, aren’t we supposed to be polite to each other?! Well, actually, according to the Bible, we are supposed to love each other…Jesus tells us that by this the world will know that we follow Him…“By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35). And before anyone argues that being polite to each other IS loving each other…it’s not. According to my trusty Oxford Desk Dictionary and Thesaurus, “polite” is defined as “having good manners, courteous…cultivated, cultured…refined, elegant”. Those are all nice things, but loving someone goes much deeper than just being courteous to them.

But back to my original statement about politeness destroying true fellowship and close friendships. Ephesians 4:25 says “Therefore, putting away lying, ‘Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,’ for we are members of one another.” If you look at it honestly, much of politeness is just lying. Someone asks you if it would bother you if they do something in particular…it really does bother you, but in order to “be polite” you tell them you don’t mind. That is a lie. And to make it worse, usually in a situation like that, if you told them it doesn’t bother you just out of politeness, you’ll probably end up slightly resenting them because they are doing something that bothers you. It really is quite ridiculous when you think about it!

Lest this all be taken wrongly, please know that I am not saying we should all be selfish and make everyone do what we want because it’s “just being polite” to say otherwise. Or that you go around offending people just for the sake of not being polite. But what I am saying is that we should “speak truth” to each other because “we are members of one another”. Speak truth…the whole truth. Not just most of the truth covered with a polite veneer. For…and this I know from personal experience…not speaking the whole truth with each other prevents true fellowship (we are “members of one another”) from happening. How can you be of the same Body with someone else when you aren’t ever sure if they are telling the whole truth?

Both of the scenarios mentioned at the beginning of the previous paragraph could easily happen if someone decided to just stop being polite. But the point of this isn’t to just stop being polite. As believers, the point is to replace politeness with something that goes much deeper…loving one another as Jesus desires us to because we are all members of His Body. And to really love one another, we can’t let any untruth (no matter how “small” it may seem) keep us from being members of one another. Society would tell us that it definitely is not polite to confront someone about their sin. However, as brothers and sisters in Christ, it is our responsibility to confront each other about sin (Matthew 18:15-20; Galatians 6:1). And if we truly love each other, we would want to confront each other about anything that is keeping the other from drawing closer to Jesus or that is detracting from giving glory to the Lord.

As these thoughts have been running through my head lately, and trying to form themselves into something coherent, a couple days ago I was talking about this all with one of my dearest friends. And I told her that I wanted her to not be polite to me and I wouldn’t be polite to her. And despite my recently formed convictions regarding all this (though the seedling forms of those convictions have been there for awhile), I know that statement will be hard to always follow through with. After it has been ingrained in you since day one that you need to be polite to everyone, etc., it’s hard to break out of that and go past it to speaking the whole truth, in love, to each other about all things. But I know and can trust that the Lord will continue to keep working in me, because ultimately, this all is for His glory.

“…but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head – Christ…”
~Eph. 4:15

Expecting and trusting

Recently we found out some very exciting news…we’re going to have a new member of our little family, arriving sometime in late April or early May.  Needless to say, we’re quite delighted and feel incredibly thankful to the Lord for this coming blessing.

However, amidst the excitement and happiness, there have already come numerous opportunities to place this little one and the pregnancy in the Lord’s hands.  While in some ways being pregnant again feels familiar, in some ways, this time around there are more unknowns.  And with unknowns come chances to trust.

When I was pregnant with Cedar, the first several months found me dealing with really bad all-day sickness and exhaustion.  I spent many of my days lying in bed or on the couch, reading away the slow hours, having so little energy that I sometimes felt faint just from trying to wash the dishes.  Now, I don’t  really have the luxury to lay around all the time, as there’s a very active little boy who will soon be crawling and then walking. Also, while the aforementioned little boy loves eating solid foods (a favourite being steak), he is still getting much of his sustenance from nursing and he loves it. I would like to continue nursing him until he’s at least a year, but I’m not really sure how it will all work out if I end up being so sick again. In it I’m learning to trust the Lord that He will indeed work it all together for the good.

According to my midwife, Cedar’s premature birth was the result of me having an irritable uterus (a condition we were unaware of until afterward).  We’re not sure how this will play out in this and other future pregnancies, but it could mean several weeks to a couple months of bedrest in the third trimester and other measures.  But we just won’t know until it happens and so comes the lesson to again (and again and again…) entrust it all to the Lord’s good and perfect hands.  Amazingly, He already knows my little one and sees their tiny body and knows every one of their days and…loves my little one more than I ever could (though that’s hard to imagine).  And…above it all, He is good.  And I am learning to rest myself and my babies in that.