Why I couldn’t get undressed on my wedding night (and Mom in the Mirror giveaway!)

We borrowed my aunt’s cabin, by the water.

We arrived late with a bottle of wine and I stepped on the back of my wedding dress as we crossed the threshold.

I didn’t see anything but the bed, with its nicely folded corners and my new husband already in his boxers and grabbing us glasses from the kitchen cupboard.

I leaned against the wall, drinking the white, in white, and we were 23-year-old virgins who’d never seen each other naked, had only felt each other’s skin and I couldn’t unzip my dress.

I stalled, pulling out my bobby pins and he helped me, and we made a nice little pile of pins and then he asked if he could help me with my zipper.

And I asked him if he wanted another glass of wine.

It wasn’t that I didn’t want to make love with him.

It’s that I didn’t want him to see me. All of me.

(For the rest of this post, and for the LAUNCH of Mom in the Mirror, which we’re giving away, join me over HERE at Prodigal, friends? Thank you!!)

Today’s giveaway:

(this will be the last post that will run on this blog; you can keep up with me at my personal blog HERE. thank you)


A Dare to Love Yourself

We sat across the table from each other, and there were thin girls walking in and out, and the smell of coffee and the young girl was twisting her hands.

She was telling me she enjoyed food. That she was looking forward to being released from the Eating Disorder Unit because she liked to cook food at home, and this isn’t uncommon for girls with eating disorders. When you have an eating disorder, food is all you think about. You write about it, dream about it, and prepare it for others. You just don’t let yourself eat it. Or, you do, but then you purge.

“So, I know you like food,” I said to her. “But what about your self? Do you like yourself?”

She stopped; sought the ceiling. Then looked back at me. “I’ve never really thought about it,” she said.

“Because until you like you, it doesn’t matter how much you like food,” I said. “Until you believe YOU are worth eating for, healing won’t be possible. It’s all about how you view yourself.”

Self-love is not a sin. Vanity is (excessive pride in one’s appearance or accomplishments), but self-love is not. Self-love is being willing to die to sin so that you might live. FULLY live. Self-love is being willing to die to society’s expectations and believe in who God says you are: Loved. Redeemed. Forgiven. Accepted. 

It doesn’t matter how well we take care of our kids, or our husband, or our dog. It doesn’t matter how nutritious the meals we cook, nor how much we exercise, nor the number of hours of sleep we get. One could say, “Without love of self, a healthy lifestyle is but a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.”

Until you learn to like the way your left ear hangs lower than your right; the way you limp a little when you walk, or the way you snort out laughter; until you learn to say “Thank you” to your body for bearing your babies and for carrying you through life and for pumping oxygen through your veins, you’ll never be able to truly love another person.

“The art of gentleness toward ourselves leads to being gentle with others,” writes Brennan Manning in Abba’s Child…

(to continue this post, please follow me over to my personal blog, HERE. thank you friends.)

real beauty: you are not fat (guest post by Rachel Haas)

i have a formspring. you know, one of those places where people you know and people you don’t can ask you any number of questions about any topic they wish.
and today there was a question sitting there in my inbox from that coward, anonymous. innocent words strung together to form something so much more painful.
so you’ve used pregnancy as an excuse to let yourself go, then?
and my blood ran cold. because in my mind’s eye, i saw fifteen-year-old me crying in the dressing room because i felt so fat every time i tried on anything. and my sister could fit into clothes that i never could, because i was curvy. 
and then i saw another little girl.
a little girl whose face i couldn’t see clearly, but that i knew better than my own all the same. and she sat there in the mall food court picking at the pile of lettuce with the dressing on the side that she called lunch and sipped at her water while she smelled the burgers and watched the other girls drinking their smoothies.
i saw my daughter’s face.
and the blood turned to ice in my veins, and some strange mother-bear anger stirred in my stomach right next to the little rolling flutters that mark my daughter’s current home.
this anger was not for me. i’m growing stronger now. words, yes, they still hurt. but this anger was not for me.
with hand on stomach and face curved toward the sky, my soul screamed
don’t you dare call my beautiful little girl fat. 
don’t teach my little one to count calories instead of the stars. because she has my genes, the curvy genes with rounder hips and fuller breasts. the ones that might not fit into the teenage carrot stick world into which she is being born.
{via pinterest}
and maybe there will come a day when you come to me with big eyes and slender limbs and say words like carbs and calories…too soon, too young, too early.
and i will pray for grace and i will pray to not break down until i am behind a closed door where i can weep for this world where little girls starve themselves and big girls stare in mirrors and whisper i hate you. 
and this is the letter i will read to her even before she understands the world, in which i have promised to not call myself fat anymore, and i pray that she will see her mama living in truth and not on the scale.
beauty is not size 2 defined.
beauty is health, not break-ability. beauty is dressing on your salad and chocolate for desert. beauty is forgiving eyes and kind smiles and a soft heart, and chins lifted with so much peace and warrioress pride.
because there is a Lion in Heaven that roars with rage when people talk bad about His daughters, and when people whisper lies into little girl ears that are too innocent to know better. there are millstones for people like that, and He has them in a line and waiting with rope for tying.
don’t you dare call My little girl fat.
(By Rachel Haas at Dramatic Elegance)

on the scale (guest post by kendall privette)

on the scale (full well)

me on the left, friend in the center and my twin on the right
c. 1978 (an era of confidence)

i liked myself as a child
you know,
before adolescence and an awareness
it was maybe fourth grade when
i began building this
ramshackle self-image
on the shoddy foundation
of the world’s eye
that saw
stringy hair, ruddy complexion,
spectacles and old clothes
in my thirties
i befriended
the scale, the world’s voice
fluent in lies as well as numbers
she interprets weights and assigns blame
she dictates our days and strips us of self-worth
she is power
(if we allow it)
and i fell for it
the husband, moms, sisters, doctors wanted me to know
what david-god’s-beloved knew….
he had a heart tuned to
god’s eye
god’s voice
and he sang
i praise you because i am 
fearfully and wonderfully 
your works are wonderful, 
i know that full well
this breath-taking verse revisited yesterday

and i retucked it into memory
for when the world tries to speak
and i need her to

so, what is your relationship to the scale?

(guest post by Kendall Privette at A Spacious Place)

Holidays tough for those with eating disorders

(article by Shawn Loughlin, The Citizen)

The holidays can be a time of excess. For many there are a large number of gifts under the tree and many are welcomed into countless feasts featuring dozens of different options.

For someone with an eating disorder, however, the holidays can be the most challenging time of the year.

Emily Wierenga, author of several books and daughter of Blyth’s Ernest Dow, pastor at Living Water Christian Fellowship, has had her struggles with eating disorders (anorexia nervosa) and she confirms that the holidays were a tough time for her, but there are ways to handle the temptation and not give in to symptoms of an eating disorder.

Wierenga says the reason the holidays are such a hard time for those with eating disorders is simple. It is a very emotional time of year, coupled with the fact that there is always plenty of food around during the holidays.

“There is always a lot of food combined with a lot of emotion,” Wierenga said in an interview with The Citizen from her Alberta home. “The holidays can be joyous times, but they can also be very lonely times for some people.”

With large feasts around every corner during the holidays, Wierenga says, someone who has struggled with food before has many pitfalls they have to be aware of. She says that portion control can be a particular concern to some people, while others can go the complete other way and binge eat and purge later.

“Portion size is easy for most people to figure out,” Wierenga said, “I still struggle with it, so in buffet lines I don’t know what to put on my plate so I’ll often copy the person in front of me.”

Wierenga says that someone with an eating disorder approaches food differently, and therefore their concept of food is warped.

She says that while most people look at food as something to enjoy, those with eating disorders approach food as something that needs to be controlled.

“You’re constantly evaluating how what you eat is going to affect your body,” Wierenga said. “That’s something you need to combat and remember that food is something to enjoy.”

She says that it’s a constant mental battle that is ongoing for those with eating disorders.

She says it’s also important to remember the social aspect of eating, especially during the holidays.

She said that often meals are served with family members and friends as a way to connect and communicate with one another, so not running from the table as soon as the meal is done is important for someone who has struggled with food in the past to remember as well.

“You need to remember to stay at the table after the main course,” she said. “Meals are about conversation, they’re not about food.

“Food is a vessel for celebration and for community. You have to remember and allow yourself to enjoy the time, remember that it’s not a threat and that it helps you to build relationships.”

Wierenga says that often those struggling with eating disorders use food as a means of self-abuse. She said the way to combat those thoughts, that can come naturally to some people, is to remember that you’re valuable and that you deserve happiness.

“You need to keep telling yourself that you’re worth eating for,” she said.

When approaching the holidays, Wierenga says the best thing for someone struggling with food to do is to be aware of their own personal triggers. She said you have to go into meals having a game plan and keep your positivity high.

She says one way to stay positive and to not sink into an emotional hole is to think positive thoughts, listen to some positive music and, if you’re spiritual, to pray.

Wierenga’s recently released book Chasing Silhouettes deals with helping a loved on through an eating disorder. It includes several personal stories of her struggle, interviews with members of her family and friends and a guide to help those through the dangerous world of eating disorders. It can be found on http://www.amazon.ca.

Her new book The Mom in the Mirror: Body Image, Beauty, and Life After Pregnancy will be released on Mother’s Day (Sunday, May 12, 2013). It deals with, among many other things, struggling with body image and eating disorders during and after pregnancy.

Wierenga has four children and currently in Alberta lives with her husband and family.

Here are 12 ideas to help people with eating disorders negotiate the holidays – courtesy of The Centre for Change compiled by Michael E. Berrett, PhD.

• Eat regularly and in some kind of reasonable pattern. Avoid “preparing for the last supper.” Don’t skip meals and starve in attempt to make up for what you recently ate or are about to eat. Keep a regular and moderate pattern.
Worry more about the size of your heart than the size of your hips! It is the holiday season, a great time to reflect, enjoy relationships with loved ones and most importantly a time to feel gratitude for blessings received and a time to give back through loving service to others.
• Discuss your anticipations of the holidays with your therapist, physician, dietitian or other members of your treatment team so that they can help you predict, prepare for and get through any uncomfortable family interactions without self-destructive coping attempts.
• Have a well-thought-out game plan before you go home or invite others into your home. Know “where the exits are,” where your support persons are and how you’ll know when it’s time to make a brief exit and get connected with needed support.
• Talk with loved ones about important issues: decisions, victories, challenges, fears, concerns, dreams, goals, special moments, spirituality, relationships and your feelings about them. Allow important themes to be present and allow yourself to have fun rather than rigidly focusing on food or body concerns.
• Choose, ahead of time, someone to call if you are struggling with addictive behaviours, or with negative thoughts, or difficult emotions. Call them ahead of time and let them know of your concerns, needs and the possibility of them receiving a call from you.
• If it would be a support or help to you, consider choosing one loved one to be your “reality check” with food, to either help plate up food for you or to give you a reality check on the food portions which you dish up for yourself.
• Write down your vision of where you would like your mind and heart to be during this holiday time with loved ones. Take time, several times per day, to find a quiet place to become in tune again with your vision, to remember, to nurture, and to centre yourself into those thoughts, feelings, and actions which are congruent with your vision for yourself.
• If you have personal goals for your time with loved ones during the holidays, focus the goals around what you would like to do. Make your goals about “doing something” rather than about trying to prevent something. If you have food goals, then make sure you also add personal emotional, spiritual, and relationship goals as well.
• Work on being flexible in your thoughts. Learn to be flexible in guidelines for yourself, and in expectations of yourself and others. Strive to be flexible in what you can eat during the holidays. Take a holiday from self imposed criticism, rigidity, and perfectionism.
• Stay active in your support group, or begin activity if you are currently not involved. Many support groups can be helpful. 12-step group, co-dependency group, eating disorder therapy group, neighborhood “Bunco” game group, and religious or spiritually oriented groups are examples of groups which may give real support. Isolation and withdrawal from positive support is not the right answer for getting through trying times.
• Avoid “overstressing” and “overbooking” yourself and avoid the temptation and pattern of becoming “too busy.” A lower sense of stress can decrease a felt need to go to eating disorder behaviors or other unhelpful coping strategies. Cut down on unnecessary events and obligations and leave time for relaxation, contemplation, reflection, spiritual renewal, simple service, and enjoying the small yet most important things in life. This will help you experience and enjoy a sense of gratitude and peace.

Chasing Silhouettes Webinar with mental health expert Gregory Jantz, Ph.D., and the founder of FINDINGbalance, Constance Rhodes


In this webinar, Chasing Silhouettes author Emily Wierenga is joined by bestselling author and mental health expert Gregory Jantz, Ph.D., along with author and founder of FindingBalance.com, Constance Rhodes, as they discuss how you can help a loved one struggling with an eating disorder. From simple steps that help identify if someone you know has an eating disorder to ways to intervene to tips on how to help someone begin the road to recovery, this webinar is full of practical information for those who want to help a friend or loved one.

To learn more, visit Emily’s website at www.emilywierenga.com.

Other Web Resources:

To purchase a copy of Chasing Silhouettes, click HERE.