Parenting through an eating disorder

*Statistics say that 3 out of 4 women struggle with an unhealthy relationship with food.

Ever ask yourself if that might be you? Or your daughter… wife, best friend?

Might be time to consider expanding your circle of trust and risk sharing that struggle. What about taking the step to engage with someone or something that has helped thousands get free? It takes courage and humility to admit our need for help, and it takes the support of someone who walked before us.

Let me introduce a friend and expert on the subject, Constance Rhodes – she’s the founder and CEO of “Finding Balance” and she can help.  Her help saved my daughter’s life six years ago and it might do the same  for you or someone you know. Someone who’s fighting in despair and feels all alone and about to give up.

Eating disorders and poor self-esteem related to body image are arguably the most common and painful struggle any parent with teens will ever face. 

I’ve done it. It’s rough. Seriously dark stuff to wrestle with by yourself.  No one wants to over-react, to provoke things further, but if you’re noticing a pattern… a trend, then its very likely real.

You may wonder if this important enough to risk the anger and resentment? It is.

First step... admit there might be a problem. 

Second… ask for help. 

Third… listen to the Brilliantly Brave Parenting podcast and reach out to Finding Balance and get some honest and tested advice. 

With all my heart…

Pastor Brad.

*FindingBalance interview – BBP Podcast.

Spoken Word

At the recent Hungry for Hope conference with Finding Balance, I was asked to write and share a “spoken word” for the Saturday evening celebration night. My wife and daughter were going to be there and I was scared.

I was was asked to represent the emotional journey of a father living with a daughter battling an eating disorder. Something I was intimately familiar with. My 19 year old has been struggling to overcome Anorexia for 2.5 years, a crisis unlike any other for a dad to walk through. After some thought and prayer, I agreed to step out and do my best.

This is what God gave me to share that night and it’s for any parent who finds themselves in the dark night of despair for their child.

My Bethany Rose

My Bethany Rose

These words are hard won, real… and raw… and true. They were formed from genuine stuff. A dads love and the fierce commitment of a father, fighting for His daughter! They reflect just a small fraction of the heart your Abba Father has for you!

YOU CAN and WE WILL … the journey of a Rose

 

 

BEAUTY
Hidden…
From YOUR EYES, but obvious to me.
Elusive and fleeting…
I capture and hold it for you, time after time.
Broken by countless mirrored reflections…
I long for you to see how much of you is fading.
I cringe as I sit – sidelined by isolation…
Seeing your glory, the beauty of life.
Radiant perfection; regardless of your shadows size
Saying it over and over…
My infinitely special, uniquely perfect, Beautiful… little girl

TRUTH

Starved… A buffet of lies have rushed ahead.

Line upon line of half buried assumptions… crowd it out.

Visions of happiness…
Blurred with modern mythology…, photo-shopped counterfeits.
My dearest can’t you see?
The power of this drug, a masquerade; growing in the shadow of shame.
I hate your sadness, cruel and desperate; it sneaks and steals…
Hope fades into familiar rivers of anxious tears.
God can’t you help me explain…, help her to see?
Change this tragic tale…, swing your sword. Set her free!

DESPAIR
Clouded eyes…
Lowered gaze, she looks below.
I want to shout and shake your shoulders
It’s time to fight and forget, to remember how to live once more!
Frantic whispered prayers… sleepless.
Lost in the deepest darkness…, drowning in a fog of fear.
Compass broken, I’m out of answers…falling…, exhausted.
Looking for some purpose in my beloved’s pain,
A fathers strength, Fades…
Helpless…. I let her go.
Echoes of guilt shatter me… I am undone.

HOPE
Flickering…
Refuge from the storm.
Fingers fight to unclench…. shallow first breath
Maybe it’s true? …Maybe…?
Inspired by the company of the courageous,
Faith finds its way back to a shrunken heart.
Life glow. Colors come again… pulsing …just under the surface.
Brilliant and blue… your eyes spread new warmth!
More becomes less… and your story shifts.
Skies lose their grey as a new season breaks.
We choose…, time to leave the past behind.

ED
A brute.
Fullness of fear.
Relentlessly whispers his self- hate
A liar, cruel and harsh…
A dictator…, self-proclaimed king.
Revolution brewing…, restless in your heart
Time to overthrow this tyrant, time to risk it all!
Pick up your head, my fair beauty,
Struggle deep, push back, break away… freedom waits.
Daughter, your courage inspires.
Today, and with each step… its strength fails, while you grow strong

FORWARD
Teetering…
Leaning into the slope.
Scrambling, desperate not to slip.
Slowly, the small miracles arrive…we find our way.
Truth and grace, re-paint their presence on your life.
Beauty recovers… grows within
Love in the mirror… fights for its right to be heard.
Shaky and weak…, each day a test
In awe and wonder, you trust and we believe.
Out of the dark valley and breaking the dawn…
We move.

YOU CAN and WE WILL.

To find out more or to get help, check out Bethany’s blog !

http://accordingtotheblueeyedgirl.wordpress.com/2014/06/24/you-can-and-we-will/

 

 

How A Horse named “Raven” changed my life….

 

Raven is spectacular. A rather large girl, well over 1200 lbs. and covered in a shaggy long black winter coat of hair, tapering to huge hooves. A Percheron she is, complete with elegant thundering gait and a graceful black flowing mane. Her gentle eyes hide the most remarkable intuition I’ve ever experienced, with a gaze that gently probes into one’s very soul, if you let her.

Raven

Raven

I met Raven in Anderson IN, at a very special place (Selah House) for young women struggling with eating disorders. (ED) My youngest daughter was finishing up a two month visit there and in the final stages of her recovery the entire family was asked to come for several days of group discussion and therapy. Part of their care included “equine therapy” ?

I had no idea what that was, but dedicated as I am to doing “whatever it takes” to help my daughter, I jumped right in …. so to speak. 🙂

Dr. Don Zimmerman and his amazing wife Linda met my daughter and I on a frosty cold February morning and led us into the barn. When I asked what to expect in our three hour session.. they smiled with their eyes, a kind -patient- warmth deep within them, and said…. “you’ll just have to experience it for yourself.”

So we did.

The next three hours were magical.

Raven was introduced to us and stood patiently by my side, at first uncomfortably close. Her bottom was at least six inches higher than my head (I’m pretty big at 6’4 and 230 lbs) and her head was easily the size of my waist. She quietly listened to Dr. Don and Linda as they explained what we were to do and then the “professionals” left the indoor corral and watched expectantly for us to start our therapy.

It was a bit intimidating to stand alone that close to a draft horse as massive as Raven, but we did. The goal of the session was simple, but odd at the same time. “We want you to lead Raven through a series of activities without touching her or feeding her. You can talk to her and walk around her, but you can’t touch”, Diane said smiling.

 Those ‘activiites’ were simple enough… have her walk through a series of cones, stand still for a minute between two boards on the ground…walk her through a small obstacle course and over a small gate. All in 3 hours. Without touching her….? right 🙂

We were told a horse instinctively “knows” if someone is trustworthy and authentic. Thankfully… we passed that test, as Raven seemed to trust us and we could safely walk her around the corral without being trampled. The Zimmerman’s explained we would need to be very clear and confident with her if we were to succeed. We needed to be obvious about what we wanted her to do for/with us. IF we were, she would do it. IF we acted uncertainly or confused or acted out of sync with each other, she would balk. Seemed simple enough…

Dr. Don and Linda.

Dr. Don and Linda.

An hour later I was convinced I was an idiot .

Raven had snorted, stomped and shuffled, but not actually in any of the places I wanted her to go or be. My daughter and I had begged, pleaded and walked her around the entire corral without any of our objectives being met. Desperation was growing, it seemed we wouldn’t get this figured out.

Dr. Don stepped into the corral with some gentle words of guidance and Raven came right up to him as we talked. She nuzzled us and when we talked about our family and the patterns of communication and dysfunction we experienced… Raven got even closer until it was clear she was gently touching my daughters arm in affection. (How a 1200lb animal can be so gentle, delicate and careful with a 100lb girl is amazing to watch)

Dr. Don explained, we needed to be clearer and more confident in our actions. To walk side by side with Raven walking in between us – to be together in sync, walking in the same pace and stride and she would do whatever we wanted her to. But not if we stood in front of her, behind her or at an angle. Raven was more than happy to follow once we sorted it all out and we soon finished up our assignments.

Raven never left our side and as we stopped to discuss what we had learned… tears flowed and Raven bent to nuzzle my daughter. Like she could understand her… feel her pain, her frustration with life. That horse was touching a very intimate and tender spot in my girl and the spectacular truth of it hit me. Here was this amazingly huge draft horse, carefully and lovingly comforting a tiny young woman without any words. Equine Therapy indeed!

I left the barn knowing a whole lot more about myself and how I should be leading my family than time permits me to share. Crazy I know, but seriously….that  horse “got us”. She could sense the struggles my daughter and I were having. The ways we didn’t trust each other and the uncertainty of how to move forward from where we were in life to being open and clear with each other as a dad and daughter should be.

The mystery and beauty of that afternoon will be a treasure for life. That beautiful girl Raven, was kind, sensitive and patient enough to teach us some profound lessons on how to be a family. How to be a team and how horses can sense our deepest fears, feel our pain and release our tension by us taking the time to simply “be” with them.

Raven is a an amazing example of the power of beauty and gentle strength to unravel some of the tougher emotional knots that tie families up for a lifetime. Equine Therapy provides deep insights to many families in crisis. If your family is struggling with an eating disorder situation… I highly recommend looking up Dr. Don and Linda to see for yourself what I’m talking about.

And to Dr. Don, Linda and Raven… “thank you” from the bottom on my heart !

Peace and Grace,

Pastor B.

 

 

The Gospel according to A&F

I’m re posting excerpts from a tired story, but it’s important. Abercrombie and Fitch (A&F) has a history of sexuality as a status symbol for fashion and their provocative ads leave nothing to the imagination. It’s no big deal unless you  have kids… then it’s a BIG deal.

 World • Sean Levinson • May 3, 12:14pm

World • Sean Levinson • May 3, 12:14pm

In the recent online article from Elite Daily, A&F CEO Mike Jeffries makes things extra clear for consumers,…

In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids,” he told the site. “Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely. Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny. But then you become totally vanilla. You don’t alienate anybody, but you don’t excite anybody, either,” he told Salon.

He is transparent about his desire to sell the A&F brand as social status and a pay to play – popularity – for sale! His words make it clear, that he tries to intentionally and blatantly exclude anyone who doesn’t live up to his ideal physical size and appearance standards…, all to protect his brand image.

That’s pretty seriously messed up morality and explains a lot about the rise in eating disorders, teen plastic surgery and anxiety our kids are experiencing in their tween and teen years. Brands like A&F are preaching to this generation to accept the fact that if they are not able to wear A&F, then they are “deficient” and less valuable.

A&F CEO Mike Jeffries

A&F CEO Mike Jeffries

I saw this story debated on a Christian FB thread last night and it really bothered me… here is what one of the comments on the threads said. (my paraphrase) …“I think it’s really effective, excellently designed to reach a specific demographic, regardless of what it’s message is, I think A&F is being wise in their marketing strategy… it’s not realistic for Christians to expect secular companies to have a moral compass“.

I’m convinced that who-ever that FB commentator is… He definitely doesn’t have any children of his own.  Moral compass or not, I’m voting with my wallet, and won’t be buying any A&F products for any of my three teens.

Here’s the reality check for Parents;

Our society is actively and intentionally speaking to our kids about what they should look like, act like and be like. Retailers like A&F are not just trying to be hip…they are actively seeking to preach their own gospel of life to our kids, and it goes something like this…. “IF YOU DON’T LOOK LIKE US, YOUR LIFE IS DEFICIENT

That’s marginally okay to recover from, IF you’re an adult with decent self-esteem and some perspective on life and the effects of age and gravity on one’s waistline.  However for a kid who has little self-esteem,  this “gospel of A&F” can become a very dark road of personal despair that can’t be ignored for long without tragic results.  trash

As parents, we must be consistent and persistent in refuting the “lies” our culture tells our kids. We must regularly remind our kids about their created and unique personal beauty, of how much they are valued and priceless in worth.

Our teens and tweens must look beyond A&F to find their self-esteem and value and identities. If we don’t actively make an effort to deny the  deceptions that attack our kids hearts and minds… we are by default letting someone like a Mike Jeffries; teach our kids what’s really valuable and what’s really trash.

I’m committed to taking out my trash…I do it every Tuesday night. How about you ?

Peace out, Pastor B.