Thanks Before Giving

On Wednesday we talked about holidays perspectives. I also told you early this month about my commitment to join the Advent Acts of Kindness. 

I got an early start on this simply because Thanksgiving opened itself wide 0pen to me as we didn’t travel, visit or have company this year. Truthfully, it was one of the most fun Thanksgivings I’ve ever had.

Brave and I went up to The Medical Center to visit with patients on Thanksgiving afternoon. Honestly, the staff had made a concerted effort to discharge as many patients as possible before the special day. But when we got to the 7th floor, one of our favorite ladies was still patiently enduring the drip, drip, drip of an 80-hour chemo treatment.

Funny, I don’t even know her name, but it was the third time we’d seen her. Somehow, the formality of introductions never comes up, so quickly do we always launch into light hearted conversation. This time, she knew we were coming, because I’d promised her on Tuesday afternoon. Her father was sitting with her. As soon as we breached the doorway, she burst with happy tidings.

“Guess what, Brave,” she announced. “Papa brought you treats!”

Sure enough, the gentleman stretched, shook my hand and handed his daughter a plastic baggie full of dog biscuits. We stood and talked to them for nearly half an hour.

Brave and I enjoyed our visit so much and I dearly hope we brightened their holiday afternoon. But I was stymied by the joy and peace that emanated from that dreary hospital room even before we arrived. Obviously, this precious woman did not require much to experience gratitude.

Oh Father, let me know the impenetrable gratitude of a rescued heart. Let me overflow with thanksgiving despite all circumstances. Father, this Advent season, let my thankfulness begin with awe and appreciation for my Savior. 

When we left the hospital, Brave and I broke one of our holiday “codes”. We did go shopping – just briefly. While he waited in the car, I darted into Walgreens and stuffed a red gift bag with candy, granola bars, cookies, hand lotion and peppermint gum. On the drive home we stopped at our favorite Starbucks and delivered the goodies to the most energetic and kind baristas we know.

When I was growing up, they told me, “It’s better to give than to receive”. Perhaps Thanksgiving is the perfect evidence of that. Watching gratitude blossom in a sick, tired or stranger’s face is the most exquisite feeling I have ever had.

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Unplugged

Trusting in God’s sovereign timing of everything, I can only assume that my computer got “sick” because I’m headed to visit my family for the holidays and if my computer was feeling up to it, I would take him with me. That usually leads to lost moments, wasted time and a preasure to go write. As it is, my computer will be visitng the Apple doctor until at least next Monday.

I’m borrowing my husband’s computer at the moment and will soon be relegated to digital Siberia (only my iPhone for connection.) In the meantime, I hope you enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving and do everything possible to be competely present with those you love.

When I return, I will be writing a review of the book, Church Behind the Wire, by Barnabas Mam. Also, I have some continued thoughts on mercy, injustice and justice. I’m excited to digest these things with you.

Until then, a teaser:

Worn and weary, though mere years old,

His scars and hope the story told.

Of grit and grim and heart and grace,

As life moved on at tortured pace.

To call on Jesus amidst such pain,

Is life to lose and life to gain.

 

 

Shut Up or Shut Down

I am not an activist. I wish I were. I wish I knew what to do. Have you heard of “Thinspiration?” “PrettyThin?” and “ProAna” sites? As I was researching the article posted on Monday, I stumbled or “tumbled” across mentions of such websites. My ambition was to read these and write a commentary. I desperately want to illuminate the viscous lies associated with each of these sites. But I can’t do it. I can’t read them. I can’t make it past the first few pictures before I feel literally sick. I am crying. 

Let me promise you, NO ONE enjoys an eating disorder. You cannot promote an eating disorder or be “pro-ana” with a clear conscience. It’s called a disorder for a reason. One cannot pretend anorexia is an acceptable lifestyle anymore than one would normalize any other disorder: schizophrenia, agoraphobia, social phobia or panic disorder. Would you want to live with, even “improve” and practice such conditions? Seriously?

We live in a fallen, sinful world. To simply facilitate chatter about such topics does NOT lead to healing. One of the sites I mentioned above is run by a man who professes to have no eating disorder, but firmly believes he would be doing society a disservice not to run his website. He believes he is “doing what no one else would do and what needs to be done.” What exactly is that? He offers no opinion or personal stance on the issue, stating only that he is creating community and establishing communication and support. Support for what?

“When words are many, transgression is not lacking, whoever restrains his lips is prudent.” Proverbs 10:19

I don’t have the magic words to repel these lies. I don’t have the perfect words to offer healing and comfort to those caught in the middle of an eating disorder or watching a loved one die. I offer one resource that has  reached the places of my heart that no counselor or book or well-meaning friend has ever done. Please visit Music for the Soul. If you would like a copy of this CD, please let me know. I will see that you get one.

If Only it Were that Simple

Monday, I began reviewing the website, Simple Steps.

If only recovering from an eating disorder was as simple as two steps. It’s a grand promise, a glorious assumption, a wonderful wish.

Background:

Been there… Done that. I developed anorexia when I was 14 years old. I fought for my life, gave up on my life, cried in misery, sought expensive help, was prayed over, cast-out, pleaded with, coached, counseled, recovered, relapsed, fed, fed too much, and more. The first round of this multi-approach therapy lasted about six years. In that time I was inpatient twice for separate three-month stints.

At age 20, God finally shook my world a little, just enough to rattle the loose marbles in my head; they fell loosely into place. I married at age 22, but then my husband deployed for a year. I balanced on the edge of a healthy weight, with moderately healthy behaviors until the next move.

Suddenly, all of the simple techniques I had finally mastered in order to teeter on the recovery balance beam, weren’t so simple anymore. In spite of every best intention, I slid quickly back down the slope toward hours of exercise and the  well-proved, food-fear diet.

So, my first qualm with Simple Steps, is the premise. It’s not easy. Personally, from years of experience and in-depth observation of multiple case studies, a website is insufficient to address even the deadly symptoms of an eating disorder, much less the deeper roots and causes.

I read a few of the success stories on Simple Steps. Rachel seemed to agree with me about the difficulty of overcoming an eating disorder.

“You would think such a scare is enough to kick start action but trying to recover at home without real support and guidance is difficult for not only a sufferer but family as well. I felt powerless and hopeless, as did my parents and little brother. In fact we felt lonelier than ever as though we had been sent into battle blind.”

You have to read Rachel’s story, because she ultimately comes to a very different conclusion.

But here’s the clincher of my first day’s review of Simple Steps. It’s not simple. Recovery is much more than gaining lean muscle mass and beginning to follow a regimen. For an anorexic, that prescribed meal plan may seem like a savior, but it’s simply stepping out of one cage and into another.

Readers, Meet Simple Steps…

Welcome to January! I don’t feel any different, do you?

As promised, this first week, Predatory Lies, will be reviewing a website called Simple Steps. Simple Steps is based in the UK. Self-described:

Simple Steps, is a range of products, from nutritional drinks, vitamin supplements for the mind and body, as well as emphasising the power of relaxation, hypnosis and sleep therapy and aids. An eating disorder is such a complex illness and therefore we have thought of every possible need for your recovery. In fact you can find it right here!

Before you swallow that hook, line and sinker, read Wednesday’s post. But today is an introduction. Simple Steps offers therapy, nutritional guidelines and resources targeted at three manifestations of an eating disorder: Compulsive eating, Bulimia and Anorexia.

 Compulsive eating.  Under this tab you will find a general description of the disorder, a description of the assistance that Simple Steps offers and a link to the products they prescribe to address this illness. The products include a stack of minerals, enzymes, amino acids and vitamins for appetite control and general health. There is also a special protein powder and a nifty shaker cup.

Anorexia:  The information here is quite similar to the information described above. There is an overview of the eating disorder, a list of indications for a quick self-diagnosis, a list of products and a downloadable meal plan. The main difference is the supplements suggested. These include vitamins and minerals and EFAs.

Bulimia: ditto the above. However, the stack of supplements is much smaller here, including only chromium and magnesium.

For each of the disorders, Simple Steps suggests hypnotherapy CDs to combat anxiety and to reprogram positive thinking.

Simple Steps is divided into 2 Simple Steps. Step 1 focuses on healthy weight gain for the underweight (typically the anorexic) and Step 2 focuses on achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. Whether you start at Step 1 or 2 depends on your current BMI.

At the bottom of the homepage there is a list of additional resources. An online nutritionist and a list of health topics.

So, welcome to January and welcome to Simple Steps. Don’t miss Wednesday’s post for my personal opinion about the potential effectiveness of this program.

P.S. If you are interested in a Biblical approach to eating disorder recovery I highly suggest you visit Finding Balance.