Category Archives: Emily Wierenga

When We Don’t Like What’s Reflected In Glass {An Abstraction on the Frame}

I pass by and catch a reflection of myself and don’t like what I see. I jerk head away quickly.

Others tell me I’m beautiful but I only believe it if I’m dressed up, face made-up, all my flaws hidden, or at least I think they are.

In the glass, while little ones run around and slam doors in the background, I stand on the pine floor and look. I see ragged skin, age spots, and a scarred face from too much acne in older age.

I see worry in my brow, stress in my sagging cheeks, lines that go down around my mouth.

Why don’t I see what everyone else sees? The thing is, we don’t see ourselves rightly. We are looking at ourselves with a biased opinion, with a closed mind, we’ve already judged ourselves before we even take a look in the mirror.

I walk in a room, in my jeans and cowboy boots, my blonde hair straight, and I dressed nicely, wore pearls so I would make a great first impression, but I look down, don’t engage others’ eyes, for fear of having to make conversation, extend my hand too many times. I could have stayed in my hotel room and that would have been easier.

The first thing I see upon driving up are the horses and small gated arenas at the bottom of the hill, the antiquish looking buildings that seemed fun to explore. I think of touching the horses’ silky noses, rubbing my hand along their shiny, smooth coats, standing up on the iron gate, walking around in dirt.

But I don’t get to walk down there, and the frame shifts uneasy and I can’t catch my balance. Others stand around in their nice outfits and scarves, crowded together, they talk candidly and communicate effective words that carry across short, warm wavelengths. They are socially ept, graceful. They give off vibes that make others feel comfortable around them. They laugh that I totally get you laugh. But I hold back, fearful to say much, because I’ve been accused of being too bold and forthright, too brash and opinionated, obnoxious.

When I saw myself through someone else’s lens for the first time, it was like being born backwards or being thrown into an unquenchable fire. I peeled my skin back and exposed it to freezing air.

Those years ago, I was thrown into an arena where people saw me through a negative lens. They thought their mission in God was to be sure others around them were rid of all pride.

And so I was sanded down, harshly, rubbed fiercely. I was acutely aware of myself for the first time. My face blushed a profane shade of red, and I was in the center, in the light, all hot and slithering with no way out.

I was too aware and in hell. But here I am in this new place, with new people of grace that make me see I’m someone of worth, that there is indeed something good there in my heart and they call it out,

call it real,

call it me.

I still struggle, after all these years, after all the bullying in school years, when I perceive someone is judging me or intentionally hurting me, slam goes the door of my heart. The mean side of me says they should be careful not to get their fingers caught in the door.

But then I remember grace. The frame shifts again, turns, spins, a kaleidoscope of pain and I want to be free.

And I’m ready to shirk that devil off my back.

After all, we should take into account that when others insult us or point out negative things about ourselves–as if we didn’t already know–those hurtful stings are coming from depraved, flawed people, not from God, but He uses it to weed the ugly out of our hearts, the black selfishness that we harbor there.

When the frame shifts back, off-kilter, falls off the shelf of that dark corner of my humanity, and God holds it just right, crooked, not at all the way I would have seen–

I can see what He sees–a beautiful daughter of grace. Only grace and always grace, the only thing holding me and you and this world gone awry, gone distorted.

I walk over in old jeans that fit just right, wisps of hair fall on my cheeks as I set the frame back on the shelf, my heart open to what God wants to show me next.

Okay, I’m sharing this pic for two reasons: to show you I’m brave enough to just be me, and to celebrate the launching of Emily Wierenga’s book, Mom In the Mirror, coming out today!

Gratitude {1095-1108}: for lovely spring :: blue jays and red cardinals swooping in my yard, from tree to fence and back again :: for days in the sun with my girls :: for moments they remind me to be a kid again :: my sister and her friend coming to visit from Colorado :: having a beautiful, clean, shiny home :: speckles and sloshes of paint smattered across the floor :: buckets of mop water :: rugs fresh out of the washer :: sunlight in my little’s hair :: spending time with sister and her friend, drinking beers and eating homemade salsa :: a fun evening with family at a restaurant for my birthday :: a glorious mother’s day with a 2 hour long nap

“Brave” photo courtesy of Jennifer Camp {Thanks, friend!!} {This post shared with Ann, Laura, Michelle, Jen Heather for the EO, Emily for A Love Dare

 *************

***Dear readers, I had a conversation with the ever-sweet Amber Haines, and her handing over Concrete Words to me is meant to be a permanent deal. sixinthesticks will now be it’s home for good. Amber has a lot of commitments and will no longer be doing it on her blog. She has asked me to take it and run with it, change it up, make it my own. I hope those of you who have been with Amber the whole time will be along for this wild, fun ride! I’ve never had so much fun with writing!! ***


What this link-up is about: We “write out spirit” by practicing writing about the invisible using concrete words. In case you are going “what in the world is a concrete word?!“–this just means (using the prompt to inspire) write out what’s around us–concrete words make the senses come alive, gives place. In every story, there is always an above and beneath, a beside, something tucked away, aromas in the air, something calling in the trees or from the street, notes in our pocket, rocks in our shoes, sand between our toes. Go here to see Amber’s take on this. It was very helpful to me–I think it will be beneficial for you, too. When you share this post on twitter, be sure to use the hashtag #concretewords.

A few simple guidelines:       1. Be sure you link up the URL to your Concrete Words
                                             post and not just your blog home page URL.
                                         2. Put a link to this post on your blog so that others
                                             can find their way back here.
                                         3. Try to visit one or two others and encourage their efforts
                                         4. Please write along with us, using concrete words–
                                             Please no entries with how-to’s, advertising, or
                                             sponsored posts
                                         5. Consider sharing via social media to help get word out!
                                     
**Today’s prompt is the Frame

Next week, our Concrete Words Guest Writer is Kelli Woodford and the prompt is The Cup.{I’ll highlight a beautiful post on Friday (and announce it on social media), so come back here to see whose post is highlighted and encourage them!}


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Silence–When You Fear What’s Not Normal {Day 11}



We go to speech therapy, and she won’t look at the lady making exaggerated O’s with her lips.

She won’t even look at me, my baby girl who is almost three and doesn’t say “Mama”.

I watch my hopes fall apart right in front of me as she refuses to acknowledge anyone in the room, pretends she can’t hear, frowns, focuses on the farm animals, whooshes them up in the air, silently, back down without a word, a sound.

Everything crumbles and I feel so empty. I hear not the sound the room is filled with–children coaxing, playing with their sister, the therapist talking and engaging Lilly, little farm gates opening and shutting, cows bumping up ladders–I hear the sheer volume of voicelessness. It feels the room and crushes me under the weight of it.

I really thought she would walk in, be pleased to meet her therapist, like normal children who engage their world do, and we would begin learning words.

This mama-heart aches as I watch my baby silently refuse the world all around her. I’m just a spectator in her
speechless world.

Somewhere along the way– between sitting on the foam mat, playing with horses and cows, and displaying sounds like candy in a jar we hope she’ll stick her hand in, and picking her up and carrying her out, soundlessly kicking my belly and thighs with her feet– it stuns like a tazer, that something is wrong. Horribly, can’t grasp air, mouth moving but no sound coming out nightmare wrong.

In my nightmare, I am mute, and in this real world, she is the one with the restraints on her mouth like a corset too tight, cutting off oxygen. And I can’t figure out what I did wrong, but I know it’s something I did very, very wrong along the way.

My heart thuds in my chest like a heavy gong and begins to move into my throat, to reverberate loudly, the beating of a drum in the dark, in the deep, that dread coming for me. It moves up, closer, tighter and squeezes, slowly cinching, until tiny bones bend and snap.

That dread, thudding, as I say it to myself: Is she autistic? Dear God. Has she just decided out of pure stubborness to be mute? Has something traumatic caused her to not articulate, to back far away into a corner, the musical notes of her voice disappearing? 

Because the ma-ma’s and waving, her calling bye-bye–it’s all disappeared, blown away somewhere on  the wind of all things in life that are lost, un-cared for, suppressed, inhibited, carelessly pushed down.

And what have I done to cause this? 

Was it the hours and hours spent isolating myself, shutting myself away from my family when I was sick? 

Was it all the times I let her go to bed without a story? Should I have read to her more? Loved her more? Held her, rocked her, talked to her more, looked straight in her eyes every. single. day, said I love you? 

Have I let her get lost in a sea of siblings, feeling she doesn’t have a place, a voice?

As she lies in my arms, I hold her, and I pray.

I weep as I pray, and it comes out in broken whispers. Tears stream and I come to Him completely broken and in need.

Oh Jesus, let my baby talk.
Let her begin to talk.
Father, wrap us up in your love.
Restore what has been lost.
Restore what has been stolen.
Take this illness that has plagued her and I, and with those stripes you took for her and for me,
I pray healing over us.
Touch my little Lilly, Father, with your healing hands, those scarred hands.
Loose her mouth, Lord, set her free.

It’s broken hallelujahs around here, and as I wrap my arms around her in the dark, in this dreaded deep, I feel God wrap ’round us and hold us right where we are.

Forgive me for being sappy, friends, but two beautiful songs I’d like to share with you, would you like to listen and worship for a minute, in this quiet, in this deep, in this dread, in this place of broken hallelujah, worship anyway with me?……
And humbly asking for prayer, to be guarded with angels and His blood here on the doorpost, as the prowling lion seeks to devour. I feel His teeth sinking in as illness tries to suck me back down, as my Lilly struggles to talk, as she vomits off and on for the past few months and we can’t figure out why, as Husband and I walk through the hard places and ask God for healing in relationship….

This I found through Ms. Holly: Gorgeous, friends….

Linking up with The Nester, and all the other 31-Dayers.…This ought to be one wild, brave ride…

Do you struggle with fear of what doesn’t feel normal, when your life is turned upside down, friend? Please tell me your story? Have you seen God redeem these doubts, these concerns? Have you found grace? Your comments so encourage me. I draw strength from your kind words and knowing you were here. My faith walk is seasoned with the right ingredients when you hang around…


This is one post in a series of 31 days of Fear. You can find the entire 31 Day collective here.  I have chosen to do this one on FEAR, because it seems to be something I keep wrestling with over and over, something that keeps me in chains, pins me down, won’t let me free. I hope you will come with me on this journey–to get a taste of glorious redemption as I soul-search and look for Jesus smack-dab in the middle of my fears. And Jesus sits with sinners. I won’t have to look very far.

Couldn’t we all use some freedom from those fear-chains that bind? I pray God gives me the strength and the courage to complete 31 days–y’all, it’s going to be hard on this ‘ol gal to write every.single.day. Pray for me?   

Some other 31 Day collectives I’m loving: Shelly @ Redemptions BeautyAmber Haines , and Lisa-Jo

And also linking up with Ann, Emily, Duane, Jennifer 

So I Stopped Eating: Guest Post by Emily Wierenga {And Book Giveaway & Gratitude!}

Welcome, lovely readers–all of you–friends–yes, beautiful you–to a guest post by my friend Emily Wierenga, one of the most loving, gracious, generous writers and bloggers I have met in this blogging realm. She asked me to write on anorexia for her over at her Chasing Silhouettes site, coaxed me through the process–a process which was difficult as it brought up old wounds from the past–and cheered me on–being Jesus’ hands, pulling my talent to the surface, bringing glory to God. She probably didn’t realize she was doing all of that–Emily just loves because it’s in her heart–not because of any notion of “Christian duty”–I love the soul that is Emily. Can you tell? You will like her, too. I promise. It’s because of writers like her that I have had the courage to strip naked of fear and wear brave fierce. Please take a moment to read her story, to browse the links and consider buying (or pre-ordering) her book, and don’t forget to leave a comment telling me about a loved one who is dealing with an eating disorder, or your own battle with an eating disorder and why you would like to win the book–or why or how you would like to win to use it as a resource–in your church, in your school, etc! I am excited to share her book with you! The release date is September 25th, 2012. Won’t you join me in celebrating with her and getting the message out? Share on facebook, twitter–use the links at the bottom of this post! Thanks!

So I stopped eating
By Emily Wierenga


We were moving, for the tenth time in seven years, and I’d seen a bad word on the side of the grocery store wall (but had no one to ask about it) and Mum didn’t tell me I was beautiful and I couldn’t go to public school and Dad was never home, so I stopped eating.

I chewed pencil, tasting lead. Our heads were bent over textbooks, together at the kitchen table, and Mum’s back was turned, while she rolled dough on the counter, and I wanted her to look at me, tell me she loved me, over and over, give me a mirror and trace my cheeks and help me believe I was worth something, but she didn’t know how, having never known it herself, and so I broke my pencil pressing it into prose and tried to find myself in the lines of the page.

I heard the sounds of girls going to school, ran to the door, and saw they were wearing pink backpacks and I wanted to run with them, but my legs were too fat; no one likes a fat preacher’s kid. Besides, we were home-schooled in case we should move again. Also, I had cried when I’d gone to kindergarten, so Mum had brought me home, ordered books, and vowed to teach me. That kind of thing was supposed to tell me she loved me, but I didn’t feel it. Because, to me, love was words and gifts. So I sat down to do my math and tried to forget.

I tried to forget the way Dad laughed with strangers in their pews, listened to them, as if their stories were more important than mine. And the way he closed the door to his study and sighed when I knocked, timid to ask him a question. I tried to forget the way he spanked me not knowing what I’d done wrong, only that Mum told him to because she was too angry to do it herself, and scared of that anger. It didn’t hurt me anymore, not even when he used his belt, because I refused to let it.

A neighbor saw me on the carpet, toy-playing, seven-year-old oblivion, and said, “What a big girl,” and I carried those words around like a bird in a cage, until one day the bird got loose and I stopped eating. Soon I would run on thin legs with the girls next-door.

It was a slow-stop, one that began with saying “No,” and the “No” felt good. I refused dessert. I refused the meals Mom dished up for me. I refused the spreads on my bread and then the margarine and then the bread itself. And it felt good, like the ribs on my fingers, as I practiced my counting.
I was nine and I felt 109. Mom let me go to school again, but I wasn’t allowed to do English class, because the books were too risqué, and she still didn’t say I was beautiful. The days were long and I was tired and no one could hear me, so I starved harder and the teachers couldn’t see me, so I shrunk my words making them smaller, smaller, until the teachers were forced to pull down their glasses and study the prose I’d made, the winning prose, and I aced class and I flunked recess.


 At night, I dreamt of food. Mum found me, hunting for chocolates in my bedspread. I wanted her to hug me and make the fear go away, but then I was worried I’d eat real chocolates, because my guard would be let down with the soft of her touch, so I stopped hugging her for two years. My legs were getting thin, and that was what mattered, but I dreamt about her arms, and woke up hugging myself.

God didn’t care. He made me recite names each night before bed and I couldn’t go to sleep without reciting, because then people would die, and I wanted to die but I didn’t know it until the day everyone tried to force me to eat and I refused it all, and now it was clear to the world and maybe to God too: I was in control.

It was supper and we were seated and Mum was dishing, dishing, dishing and the macaroni and cheese piled orange and white as she handed them, plates plunking against old wood table, and I’d already decided, it tasted like straw, even before I took a bite.

Tonight, I would eat only half, and she’d threaten me with no dessert and I’d tell her point blank, that’s fine. Maybe it would make her worn sweaters unravel and her straight-lined school schedule smear and maybe then she’d take me into her arms and tell me she was sorry.

Sorry for praying that prayer when I was in her womb, the one I learned of later on, the one she said with good intentions not knowing how it would hurt me, the prayer which uttered God, don’t make my baby beautiful, in case she becomes vain. (I can see Mum’s hands trembling on her abdomen in the night as she offered her baby like Hannah did with Samuel, and it makes me love her, yet, despise).

In my own dark nights I worked to reverse that prayer. I’d train as though for war, to see food as nothing but a trap. I’d lie there feeling ribs, measuring wrists, planning the next day’s meals. And if there was to be a party somewhere, soon, I’d eat less in preparation, allowing myself the freedom to snack for then no one would know the difference.

By day, I’d peer into the mirror as if into my soul and imagine myself skinnier, beautiful. I’d creak onto the toilet seat after bath, spend half an hour turning this way and that, analyzing naked bones. Sucking in and pulling skin and strategizing how to become invisible.
Salvation came through imagination.

 The apple grew a face which mocked me, and so I didn’t finish it, for every time I defeated the food, I gained points against Mum, and maybe God, and I was winning. The food had nothing on me. Sometimes I’d trick it, making the piece of bread think it would fill me up then rip it into halves and eat only one, and there was a thrill in leaving food on the plate, as though I could disappoint it. Even the raisins in the tapioca seemed to stare holes, and I would push it away, feigning fullness.

But food was everywhere, and it never slept. It would beat me in my dreams—the cakes, the pies, the sandwiches. In my mind there would be a buffet, high-calorie. I’d gorge, drool, and crumbs would spill over into daytime and I’d wake feeling bloated, spend the next day getting back at food by eating less.

I’d suck in my cheeks in the mirror; I’d suck them in for photos and I’d try not to talk so I could suck them in day-long. It was tiring, this looking like a model, but I was determined to be beautiful. I would weigh myself every time I ate, every time I went to the bathroom; I’d take off my shoes, my socks, my pants, just to see the numbers drop.

And I wept through the pain, wept behind closed doors with my arms wrapped tight, but I couldn’t stop.

                                             


                      (Repost; originally appeared at The High Calling, November 2010)
                                                                                       (**photo added) 


                                                                                                                                        





Emily Wierenga is a wife, mother or four boys (two of whom are hers), artist, and author of ‘ChasingSilhouettes: How to Help a Loved One Battling an Eating Disorder’ (Ampelon, 2012) available hereFor more info, please visit www.emilywierenga.com.. 

you can:
Pre-Order
here.
View Endorsements
here.
Read Sample Chapters
here.

and i’m wondering… will you help me?

i know many of you have not struggled with eating disorders, but there are 8 million Americans that do… and many of them are young girls, in families that are desperate for solutions… there is only one solution, and that is Christ, and this book points to Him. would you help me get the word out about this?

will you pre-order a copy for your church library? your school library? for the family down the street?

and will you share about this book on fB and twitter? and pray? yes, please pray.

i am also happy to do guest posts/ profile pieces for your blogs to help get word out, too.

(thank you)

Purchase Emily Wierenga’s new book Chasing Silhouettes: How to help a loved one battling an eating disorder within the first four weeks after its September 25, 2012 release date and receive a special invitation to watch an online forum on eating disorders with bestselling author Dr. Gregory L. JantzFindingBalance CEO Constance Rhodes and author Emily Wierenga. Readers must email a scanned receipt, a picture of them with the book or tell us when and where they purchased the book to events@ampelonpublishing.com, and they will be logged in to receive a special invitation to watch the event. They may also submit questions for the panel to answer, some of which will be selected and answered during the forum.



Thank you, sweet Emily, for gracing my blog today with your story and your heart. Friends, I am on a blogging and social-media break this week–sometimes I must pull back–a short hiatus–I always know when it’s time. {You can read here to find out more about this and why most of the time I quietly write here at the blog and the comment box stays hushed.} I am thankful that Emily was willing to help me out with a guest-post today and I’m so *grateful* she put voice to the feelings, thoughts, and actions I had as a young girl dealing with anorexia-bulemia–things I was trapped in and didn’t know how to speak of, she has made palpable here, helped me find my voice after all these years, and she will help so many others find their’s through her book. Even though I can’t answer every comment, we want to hear your story–we want to hear your voice. Speak. We hear you.  *If you don’t want to be entered into the giveaway, just let me know in your comment–but still feel free to tell us your story or your thoughts! 


 


Friends, please watch this beautiful video; you will be blessed! I promise–such redemption!! 


**Don’t forget to comment for the book giveaway! **The giveaway is over on Friday, September 28 @ midnight. I will email the winner this weekend! If you don’t want to be entered into the giveaway, just tell me in the comments–but please feel free to tell us your thoughts, to tell your story, or to just give Emily encouragement! 


Still counting gifts from a merciful God…….{Gratitude # 977-996}

3 gifts ugly-beautiful…
…Not getting to run, but being able to take my girls to Swim Awards Ceremony…
Having to miss CC because two children are sick–one with a fever; all of us taking a break…
…Bella’s fever so high; her sweetness as I take care of her…

A gift folded, fixed, freckled…
…Lorna making quinoa and beans for everyone for lunch…
…my daughter folded into me in the dark, all this exhaling…
…a lone, freckled orange-red butterfly fluttering happily by…

3 gifts in conversations…
…Husband listening to my heart…
…Lilly finally going to speech therapy and signing more words…
…my girls’ whispered ‘i love you’s’…

3 gifts in salvation…
…unmerited grace…
…unmerited favor–I’m a daughter of the King! I’m beloved!…
….the security of the believer…I’m sealed with the Holy Spirit until the day of redemption and nothing can take that away…

A gift rattling, receding, reclaiming…
…spiritual sickness rattling against these cages…
…all the unnecessary, all the “fluff”, all the “should’s” and “should-not’s” being pushed back into wide-open grace…
…seeing by faith God’s faithfulness, goodness, and fruitfulness in my life–looking for it intentionally…

3 gifts quiet…
…the moon glowing over tree line in the black of night…
…my soul, watching the fullness of everything, not partaking in debates so easily sparked around me, quietly observing and seeing His truth in everything…
…soft worship lullabies and sweet, quiet children that work as I get my classroom ready…

the grace for another week…

for these migraines and this anxiety I know He will heal…






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