my baby sister.

each of my sisters hold a special place in my heart.

carolyn made me a big sister for the very first time.

amanda and I share similar personalities, so we just “get” each other.

brooke is a sister I gained when I thought i’d only have three!

but lydia will always be “the baby,” and today she became a teenager!

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I will never forget (or be allowed to forget) my little 10-year old self running around the neighborhood telling everyone “my little sister is born and she’s FOUR POUNDS FOURTEEN OUNCES!”

This misinformation was the result of evesdropping on our babysitter’s conversation with my dad. Lydia was born at 4:14 PM on October 11, 2001, and I had no concept of normal baby weight.

I remember my parents bringing sweet baby Lydia home from the hospital, and me immediately going into mommy mode.

“Don’t touch her, she’s tired.”

“I’ll get her, she just wants her sister.”

“She’s crying because she doesn’t like you Carolyn.”

I was the loyal protector of Lydia Hope when Amanda came hating on her. I gently stroked the soft spot on her head, and felt super proud that I could change a diaper all by myself. She was perfect for my babysitting resume, and I was old enough to love every minute of her little babyness.

Lydia truly was a little ray of hope exactly one month after September 11th. And she engrained in me the heart of a mother, and the dream that I wanted to be one.

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Today, on her 13th birthday we shared the evening shopping, and talking, and drinking caffiene after 8 PM (sorry mom). I was so amazed at who she is grown to be. How we both love rainy days for the thought of curling up with a good book. And we both talk a mile a minute when given the chance, and ask too many questions. How smart she is, and the dry sense of humor she pulls off so well. How grown up my baby sister is.

Happy 13th birthday LYDIA! I love you. I love that I got to hold you tight when I was 10, and I get to be your friend now. You are beautiful, you are kind, and I am proud of you.

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my story {restoration}.

 

everyone has a “hard thing.” a hurdle they jump through, whether big or small, that defines them. it is in these hurdles that we learn to jump. high and long, we leap as we run, and we not only imagine-but bring to reality the conquering of things we never knew possible. 

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As I entered 11th grade I specifically remember health class. I remember watching a documentary about the detrimental effects of a certain fast food chain (think Supersize Me and Mickey D’s). I remember that tennis is the said-best sport for a good cardio work out, right up there with running. I remember eating snacks.

One specific lesson I’ll never forget was on eating habits. We learned about healthy eating, overeating and disordered eating. I remember my health teacher discussing bullimia and anorexia as “teenage girls looking in the mirror and thinking they’re fat” and consequently starving or purging over it. I specifically remember thinking to myself-

I could never do that. I love food too

See. I was a normal high schooler. I loved my friends, my school activities, my cute clothes and the way I was percieved by others was extremely important to me. However, in the area of my weight I was relatively confident. I mean, my favorite meal was mashed potatoes and ham. The healthy aspect? Lima beans drowned in brown butter. Yum. 

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My junior year was major. I was taking SATs, choosing colleges, practically determing my future (or trying to). On top of all that I had just started “talking to” a new guy (my husband), and I was struggling with digestive issues and awful stomach pain. We prayed, we visited doctors, I had so many tests done I can’t even remember them all, but nothing seemed to give me answers for my pain. It was distracting, and seemed mostly caused my stress (which there was a lot of).

In January 2009 I started being “more careful” with what I ate…and I started feeling better. I had discovered a cure, the way that I could control what doctors seemingly could have. On a diet of salads I started to “feel better.” 

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It didn’t take long for my new eating habits to begin catching up with me. My weight loss was slight at first, and initially I got comments like “Have you been working out? You look great!” and “How do you keep that body? What’s your secret?” I ate this up, what had started in a seemingly harmless way was suddenly becoming my latest obession. I had always enjoyed running (short distances), but suddenly I couldn’t live without it. I began to pay attention to calories, a whole new world to me. I had a little notebook and a website I used. Each day was like a math problem- 5 mile run ( burning ____ calories) + eating hardly anything ( ______ calories) equals NEGATIVE _____ calories. That’s right, at the end of my day the goal was to go negative in caloric intake. I was a mess.

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Every story has a hero. My mom is the hero in this one. You never want to admit that you have a problem, much less that your own child does. But if my mom hadn’t admitted I had a problem, if she hadn’t taken me to that first doctor’s appointment, the one where my pediatrician said “you’re on the verge of an eating disorder,” who knows where I’d be. 

In two months I had gone from a happy and healthy 145 lb high school girl, to a sickly and depressed, awful and mean 119 lbs. At 5′ 8” I could not afford this. 

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By June of 2009 I had both dated and broke up with my (now) amazing husband. I had become an anti-social nightmare child. The summer of 2009 I don’t think I hung out with one friend. I was mean to my sisters, angry toward my parents and completely rude to my doctor, dietician and counseler. My mom didn’t waste any time getting me into treatement. We made countless trips to the eating disorder clinic at Hershey Med Center, my hero of a dietician here in Lancaster City and my amazing counseler on Lititz Pike. 

 

I remember my mom sending Carolyn out with me on my long runs, for fear that I’d pass out from lack of nutrition (or heat stroke considering I ran mid-day).

I remember when I was told I had to stop exercising for a time, I threatened to go out in the middle of the night, and I did sit-ups in the shower.

I remember Carolyn making me cookies, and writing me a note “I know you aren’t hungry very much, but here’s something I thought you might like.”

I remember my dad taking me to get my cartilidge pierced, in hopes that I would feel pretty.

 

Nothing worked. 

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There are SO many facets to my story. Obviously there is that “what happened with you and Brent?” (Maybe I’ll write a sequel). There is the me almost dropping out of Living Word and switching schools my senior year. There is the me finding value in anything and everything but the Lord.

BUT.

First I had to realize something. 

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There are moments of my journey that are just engrained in my mind. 

I was standing in my bedroom, looking in the mirror. I remember what I was wearing, a small white beater and my sister Amanda’s shorts. I was 17, Amanda was 10. I was staring at a family portrait hanging on my mirror. The picture had been taken for a church directory the summer before Junior year. We were so happy, I lookedhappy. I hadn’t seen a truly happy Me in a very long time. 

I looked in the mirror. I was sick. I was skin and bones, I was not pretty, I was sunken in and pale. There was no going up if I stayed on this path. I either get help or die. It was truly at that point. In that moment I made choice. I went to my mom bawling my eyes out. I needed help, I longed for help and I had been “recieving help” but not truly recieving. 

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Eating disorders are serious stuff. Anorexia is serious. There is so much more to it than just “a girl looking in the mirror and thinking she’s fat.” This Spring will mark four years since I was at my worst, lowest point. I cannot tell you that I don’t still struggle. Moments in life bring up fear in me. The thought of a wedding brought anxiety which brought control which ended with me in a too-big wedding dress four days before. That is not ok. 

 

SO many parts of my heart have been healed. SO many parts of my mind have been healed. But I am learning. I am on a journey, and I can’t give up. I can’t just give in and decide that I will let running get the best of me, or that I will stop eating out of control. Anorexia is complex, but it can no longer define me. We all have struggles, it’s part of that whole fallen world thing. But I want you, whoever “you” may be, to know that there is hope. I’m still on the journey. 

 

It’s a choice.

 

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my wedding was not the best day of my life.

here it is-

the once promised and long-time-coming post: wedding version.

I have to admit, the thought of trying to describe to you all the details of this solitary yet packed-full-of-emotion day is rather daunting. And I decided I don’t have to. Pictures speak for themselves, and I have a whole load of those coming from my sweet friend Amber and Jeremy Hess Photographers (so I just gave away the topic of my next post 🙂 ).

BUT.

I wanted to share some of the photos my friends took, AND say a few things.

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First- I loved my wedding (you are probably thinking, who doesn’t love their wedding? or else your feeling a sense of relief after seeing the blog title). But really, I just adored my wedding.

I will admit that there were points when the weather made me want to pull all of my perfectly done hair OUT, the rain held off and our wedding was outside! (Better late than never is my new motto).

My #1 tip to future brides with the image of an outdoor wedding- Add to it an image of an indoor wedding, do not rely on the iPhone weather for anything, ever, and stop checking the weather the week before your wedding. Let your future husband and stressed out dad handle that. (just kidding Dad). 

But really, what I LOVED about my wedding was the heart and soul behind it. How cliche can I possibly be is maybe what you are thinking, but if I could only communicate the amount of people who pulled this thing off. Without friends and family I would have said let’s walk to the courthouse and get ourselves a judge. (That came up a few times anyway).

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I love a good party. And (in my opinion) my wedding was a pretty good party.

Let’s just be honest. My wedding was not the best day of my life.

Don’t get me wrong, my wedding was beautiful, it was fun, I was the center of attention which (I will admit) I always enjoy. My dress was everything i’d dreamed of, my flowers were the exact look I was aiming for and my husband was so handsome.

But all that is gone in a fleeting moment. That day is simply a memory now, and it’s only been one month! That day you anticipate flys by so quickly that you hardly get to grasp all of its moments.

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The best days of my life, for me, have been the days after my wedding.

The mornings of waking up next to my husband and knowing he’s here. The days of keeping my home and folding our laundry and anxiously awaiting his return with a meal on the table. The evenings of togetherness, whether at home or away. And the nights of falling asleep knowing that I am not alone, of feeling safe.

I’m not saying that cleaning the bathroom is no longer a chore, or that doing laundry is my new favorite activity…that my meals always turn out as planned OR that Brent always loves them…but there is something to be said about having purpose.

And I honestly believe that I’m living my dream, to be a wife, to keep a home, to love and care for my husband and to throw my all into it.

Yea, I think that these are the best days.

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