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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

As I watch my daughter dance

 Eden’s shy.  She rarely leaves me, even to go to a friend’s house to play.  All her friends graciously oblige to playing at our house. 

Eden has many reflections of me in her little life; we both have a love of art, babies and Jesus.  Her room is a Barbie shrine and yes, she inherited that from me too.  When I watch Eden play or interact with her brothers, I marvel at her beautiful personality.  Like a little angel, she’s gentle, soft spoken and smart.  When I was a little girl, I was self-conscious and didn’t feel like I fit in, but Eden seems to have so much figured out.  She did not inherit that from me.

Eden is shy, but she is not without opinion.  Most days, as long as she’s within earshot distance from me, she gets along just fine, but then she started dance.

When dance class is called Princess Camp, you think your girlie-girl daughter who literally sleeps on a sheet of Disney princesses will love it, right?  Nope.  On the first day of class she wrapped herself around me and in a ball of tears, we politely excused ourselves.

I’m not sure what changed since that Princess Camp debacle, but with a little encouragement Eden decided to give dance another try.  I think her decision had something to do with make up, glitter and twirls.

As I walked her backstage the day of her first recital, again her tears came for a visit, but she was able to push aside her shyness and smile on stage.  Her determination came alive and a little star was born.

This year, she was like a pro.  “I’m alright, Mom,” she said when I dropped her off backstage.  She was with her friends and having fun coloring before their big number.

It’s not that I miss my little shy girl (although I do), and believe me, there’s still plenty of moments I wonder if she’ll come out of her shell, but I hope I nurtured her through that phase.  I hope she knows its ok to be shy.  I know it’s a fine line between pushing my daughter to take dance or taking her out instead for frozen yogurt with all the toppings, but luckily, we have enough time for both.  

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

My appetite had been exploited

Many of you who have followed my path with intermittent fasting know it’s healing my negative body image and food addiction issues. 
What have I learned?  Somewhere on my path of life, my appetite grew too big.  I know this isn’t rocket science, but I had to ask myself why?    I’m not exactly sure, but I think in an attempt to protect myself from pain; any pain be it emotional or physical, hunger became a feeling I would fill with food before it took hold of me.  There was already too much pain in my life.  I wasn’t going to let anymore enter, especially if I could suppress it with chocolate chip cookie dough. 
Intermittent fasting helped me realize when I’m hungry, I don’t have to turn to food.  My appetite had taken its toll on me and would hold me prisoner as long as I tolerated it.  Obesity had instigated my foot neuropathy, back pain and insomnia.  In other words, I had to understand my relationship with food and hunger or I would spend the rest of my life a victim to it.   

In my previous decades full of attempts to lose weight, I’d quit when hunger entered.  Hunger didn’t feel natural.  Food had a much stronger pull than my own will-power and like a rivaled opponent, I’d give into hunger before it took hold.  If I was truly hungry, that would be fine, but I’d adapted to a place where emotionally I was hungry all the time.  I wanted food to feel and fill all the voids in my life.  Intermittent fasting taught me a simple truth; sometimes, I needed to feel hungry.
Don’t get me wrong.  My primitive relationship with hunger didn’t change overnight, but after a few weeks of intermittent fasting I recognized hunger came at very meaningful times.  Hunger came when I emotionally wanted to slouch or weaken my posture, but if I allowed it, hunger could be a gentle teacher.  Hunger humbled my physical body and awoke my mind to become more alert and creative.  When every impulse and craving of my body was not satisfied, my confidence became stronger and I became more present in life.  Food was no longer a dysfunctional tool, but something to be grateful for.  When I was hungry, I was teachable.  My appetite was no longer destructive and my love for self has grown.

Mayer with his poetry award.
Once I understood my indulgent lifestyle of food created a world of ingratitude, obesity and procrastination, I could look hunger in the eye and not blame it anymore for my problems.  My appetite needed to change.  Intermittent fasting was an open invitation to hunger.  Surprisingly, hunger brought me the best gifts, but only by remembering those who do not celebrate it.  In most instances, hunger does not come by invitation like I had allowed it, but by famine, poverty or war.  It is reserved for the desolate and hopeless, sprinkled with fatigue and fear.  I had to remember those who truly suffered with hunger.  In a house full of food, I was not starving during my intermittent fast; I was practicing self-control.  Hunger became a teacher of reality holding me to a high standard of reverence and awareness.  I increased my financial donations to the poor and prayed for them throughout the day.  I learned food is a gift, not an indulgence.   

Monday, May 9, 2016

My Tribe - Teaching Kids to Write

Writing in my journal – a favorite past time for me since I was a kid.  My mom, the gifted writer that she is, gave me my first journal when I was five and I’ve been writing in it ever since.

Eden on Mother's day

While practicing intermittent fasting, I’ve become more present in my life; more aware of beautiful tiny things especially in my children.  Because I no longer live in a state of rush or procrastination, time has presented itself a bit more accommodating.  I kept a detailed journal the first 30 days of my intermittent fast, so I wondered “Why have I not taught my kids to keep a journal of their own?”  I knew the answer – I never had enough time.

On a quest to help my children learn to listen better to each other (and their parents), I came to the realization they first needed to learn how to listen to themselves.  Hence, journaling – the ultimate experience to understanding and listening to your own needs, feelings and emotions. 

I’ve been working with my kids on journaling now for several months and have seen huge breakthroughs in how they feel about themselves and treat each other.  Not only do we have scheduled one-on-one time, but I’ve learned more about them than if I just kissed them goodnight and tucked them into bed.  My boys aren’t big talkers to begin with, so at first I asked questions and they answered.  Of course, Eden was all into it from day one and it was almost impossible to turn her ideas off.  
Eden with Canyon on his 1st birthday

Anyway, with the boys we worked on gratitude, goals and funny experiences they had.  It didn’t take long before they decided the things they wanted to talk about and write.  Now, it’s almost a necessary bedtime routine.  With me as his scribe, my 8 year-old loves telling me funny stories while I write them down.  Mayer likes to write poetry and play on words.  He entered a writing contest at school and his poem won.  He now identifies with himself as a writer and I think this made me more emotional than anything.

Each of my children is a gifted writer, but more importantly they know I’m making them a priority in this time-starved world.  As their mother, this was a skill I needed to manage better and somehow, fasting helped me to it. 

I was asked to teach creative writing at a charter school here in Mesa for 2nd and 3rd graders.  Of course, I was thrilled.  I did some research to develop a curriculum, when I decided to use some of the techniques I’d stumbled upon while teaching my boys to journal. 

Let me tell you, I love working with kids.  After the first day, I was hooked.  They are the most loving, beautiful, talented little people.  

Our writing experiences open the door for them to put into words their ideas and feelings, their dreams and hopes.  They have so much to say and they say it so creatively.  

I tell you, my kids and these kids are my tribe.  This little audience is precious.   

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Impending Joy

Most days before I break my intermittent fast, I go outside and start walking. I take the baby in the stroller and we enjoy the beautiful weather. Canyon is my most easy-going baby and his little personality makes long walks uneventful. He either chills, eats or sleeps.

I put my headphones on and google author lectures. Since I’m working on my memoir Starving Girl, I want to hear how best-selling authors do it; how they stay motivated and what advice they have for upcoming writers. I’ve been introduced to sensational authors and every day it’s like I meet a new friend, one imparticular is shame researcher Dr. Brene Brown. I’m sure many of you have heard of her and if you haven’t, she’s worth getting to know.

So, she researches shame, but her work started out when she wanted to research connection. She gathered research and what she found when asking people about connection was they wanted to talk about disconnection. Her researcher pointed to two groups – those who lived with shame and those who lived with their whole heart. The only difference between the two groups was those who lived whole-hearted and experienced true connection believed they were worthy of love.

Isn’t that amazing?

I’ve been thinking a lot about this. Every since I was a little girl, I’ve been taught I’m a child of God. With that belief, we are all worthy of love, but I still have a difficult time manifesting it. 

Do we really believe we are worthy of love?  It's not easy.  

Brene Brown touches on many beautiful angles of human connection, but one pretty much summed me up. I had to listen to her describe it a few times before I really understood. It’s called impending joy.

Let me explain.

Dr. Brown says the only emotion more uncomfortable then shame is joy.

Wait, what?

She says “If you ask me what’s the most terrifying, difficult emotion we feel as humans, I would say joy.”  Why?  Because as soon as we experience it, we’re afraid it’s going to be taken away. She continues by saying, “It’s when we lose our tolerance for vulnerability. Joy becomes foreboding: ‘I’m scared it’s going to be taken away. The other shoe’s going to drop…’ What we do in moments of joyfulness is, we try to beat vulnerability to the punch.”

The way she articulates this hit me at the heart. I’ve noticed this tendency in my own life. My family and I might have just arrived at a beautiful vacation spot, and instead of feeling full-on joy, I rush into unpacking. The counselor and the kids might be checking out the view, while I’m upset it’s past bedtime. I’ve forgotten to look at the view.

I tend to use busy-ness and many times, joy is overlooked. With so many kids, I know the shoe (sometimes literary) is going to fall at any time. In an attempt to prevent further chaos, I try to predict my next move and miss the little and sometimes giant joyful things.

I started wondering “When was the last time I allowed myself to feel joy?” Because let me tell you, I’m surrounded by happy joyful moments all the time in my life, but I don’t think I’m letting many of them fall whole-heartedly into my lap. I see them, I see others experience them, but I’m too busy. I think joy will take up too much time.

I think because I've been practicing and actively seeking joy, yesterday it found me and completely caught me off guard. Full on, belly laughing, out-of-breath joy! 

I was a kid again, no responsibilities and I felt so alive. I was playing with my daughter singing ring-around-the- rosie, “We all fall down,” and she and I laughed, rolling around on the trampoline. We'd run, she would catch me and asked to be hugged. Oh, the gift of a child asking to be hugged was completely exhilarating.  I’d spin her around and look in those gorgeous eyes and I marveled she was mine.

After listening to Dr. Brown, I’ve been actively seeking joy in my life. I’m forcing myself open, being vulnerable to the risks of living in the moment. It’s taken some practice, a little here and a little there like these beautiful moments.

Everyday, Eden brings home little gifts from school.  They might be feathers, rocks, flowers or leaves.  She brings them home for me and they are an expression of her creativity and love.  

At night, I help Reef write in his journal.  I've taken the time to watch how he thinks, how his eyes light up when a creative idea enters his mind.  I'm watching a writer be born and it's amazing.

And how Canyon likes the baby he sees in the mirror.  I found this adorable and pray he always loves himself this way.  He's getting to know himself. 

The joy of those moments made time stand still. My baby, my husband, my kids, there is so much goodness in them. I’m on a mission to find joy wherever it present's itself and Dr. Brown says it starts with gratitude. 

Check out her TED talk. Dr. Brown’s a life changer, for sure.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Meet The Castaways

When I was a teenager I was introduced to the view of abortion through the media.  Choice sounded empowering.  According to outspoken celebrities and talk shows, women’s rights and feminism seemed a popular stance.  Sure, I would never have an abortion, but it wasn’t my right to tell another woman she couldn’t.  It was my generation’s way of looking at women and their rights.  Who wouldn’t support anything that helped women? 

Even after having my first child Chandler, I didn’t think it was my place to tell another woman what she should or shouldn’t do with her own body.  Other than that, I didn’t think about abortion until one spring day in 2000 my mom author and researcher Sarah Hinze came over with a stapled paper copy of her new manuscript The Castaways.  20 years of research was compiled into this book.  By the end of the first chapter, I was enthralled.  The book took on life, pulsing knowledge and understanding into my mind.  

Who were these aborted children?  

The Castaways tempted to answer that question. 

I learned about announcing dreams, a universal phenomenon many cultures celebrated.  Unborn children were alive as spirits or angels before they were born.  They lived with God and prepared for their time to come to earth.  These stories, my mom coined prebirth experiences, documented how unborn children communicated with those they loved.  When a mother had a dream, vision or other encounter with her unborn child it served as an unbreakable bond.  The mother knew her child who her child was even before he or she was born.  Such experiences were not shared in defense of abortion; however, they did support the reality a developing unborn baby was not just alive physically, but spiritually.  When their attempt to come to earth was block through abortion and their physical body was destroyed, their soul experienced devastating rejection.  

At the time, Chandler was only a year old.  

I always believed Chandler lived with God before he was born, but this understanding was now on an entirely different level.  I knew I was assigned to be his mother.  Out of all the millions of people who lived on the planet, my son was supposed to be mine.  I knew it to be true and my relationship with my baby took on new love and meaning. 

Although his body was smaller than mine, I knew his soul was exactly like mine; mighty in stature and purpose. 

This understanding filled me with love, respect and I would never look at babies the same.  The Castaways introduced me to the soul of an unborn child and I started struggling with my understanding of the abortion movement.  Never had I considered the child’s pain or predicament before, but it was more than that.  My role in protecting them was urgent.  Not only as a mother, but as a woman it was my role to protect children.  The pro-choice argument stated a child was not a child until he or she was born, but when I understood the purpose of my child abortion took on a whole new meaning.

        My mom’s ongoing research of now 30 years continues to open doors where she can share her message and be a voice for the unborn.  Recently, she was a keynote speaker at the annual meeting of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women event Meet Women Who Are Changing the World where she had the opportunity to speak out for children and motherhood.  Her lecture titled The Powerful Bond between Parents and their Children shared how women have powerful intuitive and spiritual capacities and that the caring and nurturing of their children is an inherently divine quality.

      Along the same agenda, my mom has made it her mission to help women who have had an abortion.  She states, “I have received a personal witness, and I speak it to those I counsel who have had abortions--there is spiritual healing from abortion through Jesus Christ.  Jesus wants women to heal who have experienced the trauma of abortion.  Jesus is amazing and full of love. He is the Great Physician and if we come unto Him, we can repent and He will wash away our sins that they man be white as snow”.

I'm so proud of my mom and her research.  I think history will show her as a Schindler, making it her life’s purpose to help those who are oppressed and forgotten.  One of the most beautiful experiences is when someone comes forward with a child, thanking my mom for her research; for without it their child would have been aborted.  Here is the 15th anniversary edition of The Castaways with new stories and updated research supporting our children live before they are born, available on Amazon and Kindle. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

We can’t let abortion destroy the relationships we as women cherish.

Shortly after Canyon was born a scandal erupted between The Center for Medical Progress and the giant abortion provider Planned Parenthood.  Through undercover video obtained by The Center for Medical Progress, evidence was found the little organs from the bodies of babies being aborted were sold for money to a medical research company called StemExpress.  Some abortions were being altered to acquire intact organs.  There were stories surfacing of some babies being born alive.

Such a practice left a part of me dead inside.

I became consumed with abortion research and came across other evidence claiming the brutality of abortion, including such from an abortion doctor named Kermit Gosnell.  His abortion practice offered late-term abortions where even babies in the third trimester could be aborted.  These were babies that could live outside the womb.  Dr. Gosnell was convicted of murder, not only for the babies born alive who were “snipped” (the cutting of their spinal cord) to ensure fetal demise, but for the murder of his patient 41 year-old Karnamaya Mongar. 

I thought abortions were performed on young women, but apparently I was wrong.  Because I’d had a baby after 40, I had to know who Karnamaya Mongar was.

Karnamaya Mongar had survived nearly 20 years in a refugee camp in Nepal, but was unable to survive a visit to an American abortion clinic.  What happened to her during the abortion?  Mongar was given Cytotec, a drug used to induce labor.  Because of the pain she was experiencing, anesthesia was administered and she was left in a room with an office employee.  Still, she complained of pain and after the fourth dose of anesthesia was given, Mongar's breathing slowed and her skin turned gray in color.  Gosnell continued to perform the abortion, and once the procedure was over, he started CPR and told his employee to call 911.  Mongar died. 

My heart ached for this woman.

I could relate to the overwhelming feeling of pregnancy, especially after 40, but why did she feel abortion was the only option for her?  Was Karnamaya worried about her pregnancy, certain it would be too difficult?  Did another baby seem impossible?  Like me, did she have debilitating morning sickness?  Was she worried about finances and managing her household with other children to feed?  Was she like I had been during my pregnancy; worried my baby might have birth defects?  Was her usual loving marriage not so joyful, but in distress with daily arguments like mine had been?  Did she know in her heart a baby was a blessing, but that she needed to live in reality?  My heart ached for Karnamaya and what she suffered.  She had heard the overbearing shouts of the pro-choice movement and it cost her and her baby’s life. 

Many in the world believe a baby isn’t worth the price?  That women shouldn’t have to do hard things for their children? 

My baby is a survivor in a world offering abortion to those who don't feel up for the challenge.  

Since when did having a baby prevent a woman from accomplishing her dreams or living her life?  In this feminist era, we’re told a woman can do anything.  She can go to the moon and become president of the United States of America, but she can’t have her baby.  It just wouldn’t fit into the schedule.  The irony makes me crazy.  My baby made me realize how strong I really am.  My baby has became my anchor and fight song.  Abortion simply confirms a woman can’t do both – love a child and fulfill her life.  That is one of the biggest lies in the world!

The timing of the Planned Parenthood scandal made it almost impossible for me to go a day without considering the miracle my baby was alive.  The beauty of my baby and the desperate realization babies just as precious are aborted left me with post-traumatic stress. 

I was especially upset about the procedure called dismemberment abortion.  When I first heard of the term dismemberment, Canyon was only a few weeks old.  Each time I picked him up I felt the tender ligaments holding his arms and legs onto his body.  A new mother is taught the necessity of gentleness with her newborn and how important it was to support her baby’s head.  I couldn’t imagine the deliberate violence of dismemberment abortion.  When I held my baby, I felt the sorrow of those who do not make it.  I felt like babies were in a war where few survived.  I felt frustrated by the political arena around abortion.  I was sick of the media having conversations about abortion that I felt women needed to have heart to heart, in private and with love.

During the Planned Parenthood scandal and while researching abortion, I knew it wasn’t a mistake I held a newborn baby at that very moment in time.  

The very presence of his fragile body has been a heart-wrenching lesson on the violence of abortion.  More, the feelings I’d had while pregnant, the verdict I couldn’t handle another baby; that it would be too much, that I would never survive, that verdict had been overturned.  My internal courtroom drama had not resulted in prison, restraint and lost opportunities, but freedom, liberation and love at a level I’d never understood.  In other words, my sacrifice of having my baby had significant purpose.  It was the purpose.  Delivering a child brought me to a plateau I wouldn’t have reached without him.  My son is the key to the growth I’m experiencing.

We can’t let abortion destroy the relationships we as women cherish. We are not blood-thirsty men at battle but women wrapped up in feeling of body and soul. Women have never fought battles with weapons and violence but with words and tears. It doesn't mean you have to abandon choice, just put it down for a moment in the back of your mind.  Cry with me for the babies; consider them.  If we cry it means we will instinctively hold each other up and that's exactly what we need.  It’s not me against you but the eternal battle of agency against love. Every generation has their battles to fight.  The lucky ones still have a beating heart. My son’s heart never belonged to me.  It was created for me.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Food, stop lying to me.

Dear food,

I appreciate you, I really do.  I know I can’t live without you.  I know you have a purpose in my life and I acknowledge you feed every pulse in my body, that without you I wouldn’t grow and heal and survive.  Thank you.  I live a very comfortable life and have you in excess.  You influence is everywhere.  Problem is, you’ve over stepped your bounds.

I let it happen.  I invited you in when I was lonely and you definitely filled the void.  For much of my life I’ve had a great need to have you near.  You’ve satisfied the artist in me, the bored child in me and the irrational starving girl.  Your beauty, in all your textures, smells and colors, mesmerized me.  Truly, you satisfy like nothing else.

You’ve been the life of my party for decades.  You throw the best parties, even when no one else is there but you and me.  Without saying a word, you speak of desire, passion and hunger.  You are more powerful then I realized, making me realize you may not be the best influence in my life.

The problem is you’re a control freak.  You want to be present in every aspect of my life and although I appreciate you, I really do, I need to take a step back.  You’re the nagging know-it-all who thinks you have all the answers.  Once you came over, you never left and you’ve been grazing uncontrollably in my life ever since  You beautiful in small quantities, but the way you insist on getting bigger and bigger is unhealthy and quite honestly, rude.  

More people then I can count go without you and they suffer.  Why don’t you go spend some time with them?  I’m not the only person on the planet, you know.  So many other people need you more then I do.

Food, please go back to your roots.  Remember where you came from.  You were born out of necessity from the rich soils of the earth.  You feed animals, plants and little biddy insects.  Organically, you are at your best. Covered in preservatives and hormones, you’ve become the equivalent to an aging super-model who’s had too much plastic surgery.  You’re beautiful as you are; pure and nutritious.  I don’t need you to change to appeal to me. 

Stop lying to me.  I trust you, especially when I’m hungry.  Stop trying to sell yourself as a single-serving size when you’re not.  Please stop asking me if I want you super-sized.  Your constant badgering sets me up for failure.  If you’d stop screaming for even a single second, I’d be able to hear my own guttural survival instincts.  Stop shouting you’re sugar-free when what you really are is full of aspartame, solidified corn syrup or some other unpronounceable concoction.  If you can’t read your own ingredients, do not try to pass yourself off as food. 

It’s one thing to take advantage of me, but now that you have my kid’s attention I’m ticked. 
Stop singing to them, appealing to them through sprinkles, Disney characters and pop-culture.  Your tactics are sick and I see right through your money-hungry paws.  You're brainwashing them into believing eating the worst of you is better then eating the best of you.  Get your greedy hands away from my kids.

There are so many things I love about you, but no longer can you control me.  It’s just not healthy.  I don't need you like I once did.  I have so many beautiful things in my life. I no longer need you to find purpose.  I will invite you in when necessary.  When you are good and whole, you have a place at my table, otherwise, go away and don’t come back.  I don’t need to pay for your dysfunctional habits anymore.


Laura Lofgreen

Do not think you can sneak up on me and sweet talk your way back into my life.  I have a grapefruit tree and I’m not afraid to use it.

I'm disgusted your influence kept me swollen and fat.  90-days of intermittent fasting and I have the privilege of putting my wedding ring back on again.  Nothing tastes as good as that.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

A Scene I'm Not Sure How to Write

I want to be light-hearted about this, I really do.
I want to be funny and courageous. 
Losing weight can be fun, right.
Going without food for 18 hours a day is insightful, yes. 
I can have ah-ha moments.  
I can think deep and marvel at the body God created for me.

Or, I can clean out my refrigerator.

That’s what I did yesterday. 

I lost my mind in moldy zucchini sitting in a puddle of juice in the bottom drawer of my refrigerator. 

I let the moments tick by while I watched the baby crawl towards his toys.  Inch by inch he moves his little body, lifting his knee and then pushing off with his other foot.  

Now that’s cute.  

Cute is what you get when you watch a baby crawl. 

I used to be funny and I know I’m still fun, but first, there’s something I’ve got to do.

I’m working on my memoir Starving Girl 

and I have to write a scene that’s eating me alive.

How’s that for a pun.  A starving girl has something eating her alive.  Funny, huh.

Writing this memoir, it’s now necessary to explore the path of a girl who realizes she is so much more than a victim to a gray-haired man double her age who walks with a limp and smells like cigarette smoke. 

At the ice cream store she works at, he doesn’t act much like her boss, even though he is.  

With not much experience, this girl is good at making ice cream cakes. 

The first time her boss touches her she's standing next to the back counter mixing purple frosting.  His boldness shocks the girl and she's not even certain what just happened.

“What do you think you’re doing?’ she tries to say boldly, but all she  can do is whisper.
“Whatever I want,” he says with steady eyes. 

The girl places the frosting tube down on the counter, walks to the bathroom with the cement floor and locks the door.  She looks in the mirror and her pale face stares back at her like a ghost.

For months, her boss double her age continues his game of cat and mouse; teasing, pulling, reaching, tormenting, bullying, threatening, accusing, abusing all while she earns minimum wage.

So naive is the girl, so very trusting and curious she doesn’t see the writing on the wall.  Yes, she’s frightened.  She knows what he’s doing is wrong.  She knows he’s married.  She’s told several people who are close to her of the dilemma she’s in, but no one offers help.  Do they even believe her?
Besides his demands, she’s all alone.

Only when the boss man’s wife is killed, hit by a drunk driver and decapitated, does he leave the girl at the ice cream shop alone.  The girl comes uninvited to the funeral, crying like a fool, wanting someone to touch her so she can feel alive but he acts like he doesn’t know her.  She becomes indivisible.  Problem is, the girl is now addicted to the horrible games of cat and mouse he’s introduced her to.  Why doesn’t her boss want her now?  Why does he abandon her?

They say "time heals all wounds."  I think the saying might be better off “time helps forget deep-rooted rotten wounds.” 

And time did help.  I did move on, but with the scars of abuse I became trapped in another and yet another scenario, almost replaying the same games over and over again with men until one day I found my voice.  I said enough.  I broke free, went on a 18-month mission for my church and returned a new girl. 

I was a woman who understood the power of Jesus Christ can heal and empower.  You see, my love for my Savior is my anchor.  He understood my pain; He healed my heart and set me free.

I was flying, finding my way and dreaming big when I found out my boss from the ice cream shop committed suicide.  Nobody knew my relationship with him, that as a young girl I had given my heart to a man who stole it from me first so when I was asked if I would be attending his funeral I numbly said “Yes.”

And this my friends is the scene I have to write for Starving Girl.

How I shook as I approached his coffin.  My skin was ice cold.

How even through all my healing; even though he was dead, I was still afraid of him.

How I looked for any evidence I could find that he did in fact shoot himself in the head.

And most importantly, how I found the strength through Jesus Christ to forgive him.

Because this journey is not about being a victim, it's about overcoming.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Since fasting, I’ve become more aware, even alert that people all throughout the world go without food every single day.

So, what got me through my first true day of fasting?
Here I am November 2015, six weeks before I started my experience with intermittent fasting.
Desperate, the answer surprised me. 

After sending the kids off to school, I cleaned up the breakfast dishes when the first wave of hunger hit.  The hunger was an earth-moving force and I gripped onto the side of my kitchen counter.  My stomach felt like a black hole and there was soreness.  The actual muscle of my stomach ached, but nothing about the hunger made me crave food. 
Soon after, the first hunger pains subsided and I carried on with my day.  Dishes, laundry, and of course taking care of the most adorable baby ever when at 2:00pm I became hungry again; hunger like I’d never felt before.  The hunger felt like a monster growling from the inside out.  The sensation frightened me.  What was I doing?  Going without food didn't seem healthy.  Something was wrong with me when in my mind I cried out to God.
“Please, I need to eat.  I can’t do this, it’s too hard.”
“Not yet,” a voice in my mind said. 
“Then when can I eat,” I asked. 
“4:00pm,” the voice answered back.  
Two more hours without food? It didn’t seem possible.  I started to feel the weight of what I was doing.  Was this even safe?  The uninvited guest of self-doubt barged into my mind, reminding me of past failures.  Was this just another time to commit myself to something regarding food only to fail later?  Something inside me nudged back, something that was battling my self-doubt and I recognized it as the spirit of God.  
It said loud and clear:
“Do not be afraid of hunger.  You need to feel this.”

I knew I needed to fast, but the commitment felt like sugar running through my fingers.  In theory, fasting was a nice concept but actually playing it out wasn’t something I could do.  I couldn’t do it in the moment, let alone for 30 days.  I was in a kitchen full of food but there was nothing I could eat.  I had every food imaginable yet there I stood starving. 
“I’m starving,” I shouted in my mind when I felt the influence of someone.  It was a girl; a hungry girl.
I searched out this painting and the era of this beautiful girl somewhat resembled what I saw in my mind.
1800 Louis Leopold Boily (French painter, 1761-1845) Young Woman Ironing
Her presence came upon me quickly and there was an urgency to her arrival.  So insistent was she on gaining my attention, I spoke out loud to her.  “I know you’re here,” I said, startled I was speaking to a spirit.  So real was she, so very present was her influence I could see every detail.  In my mind I saw a tall blonde English girl with a light blue apron tied to her thin waist and a kerchief wrapped around her mousy blonde hair.  She was poor and desperate.  She was starving and through her expression and physical appearance, I could see her pain.
She needed to tell me something, but could only do it through prayer.  “Yes, I’m going,” I said kindly to her as I rushed in my room and fell to my knees.  She wanted me on my knees.  I understood and started crying because I knew she was hungry.  She’d been hungry for a long time and my own hunger became insignificant. 
“I’m sorry,” I said to her.  “I didn’t understand what it meant to be hungry.  I didn’t understand what you went through; what you suffered for me, for my mother and grandmothers.” 
            In my mind, she was holding a bucket and stood by a well.  She was worried and weak.  There was no other option for her and in my heart; I felt she knew her fate.  She wouldn’t make it.  She’d seen loved ones die; her pain had been real and great.  I imagined for a second what it must have been like to be literally starving when in my mind I saw myself attending a wedding reception.  Wearing a tight dress, I was uncomfortable because I’d eaten too much food.  Although I was too full to eat, I’d helped myself to a second piece of wedding cake.  Using my finger, I slopped a glob of frosting onto my tongue and quickly forced it down.  I didn’t take the time to taste it and wasn’t present enough to appreciate it, but I went and took another bite anyway.  Another smudge of frosting with another subconscious swallow and I had downed the entire cake.  With the presence of this starving ancestor watching me in her desperate condition, I felt sick. 
I’d been so selfish.  I was a selfish person who for years ate food without a thought to those who went without.  I thought I understood the poor, but I didn't.  Food, no matter the quantity, time of day, or needs of others was to be put in my mouth as fast as I could get it there?  When had that happened?  Why was I stuffing myself with food when others had little or none?  I felt like a drunken king with a greasy turkey leg and a dripping glass of wine all the while demanding more food.  How many plates had I filled with food only to later throw away?  Hundreds?  Thousands?  Such a pitiful act was not right.  I had no idea how hurtful this might be to someone who was starving.  There had to be some validation for those who went without. 
I needed to feel how my ancestors felt when they were starving. They were not able to self indulge every time they had a craving.  They had to work for what they ate and they had to feel hunger pains when there wasn’t any food. The experience made me so sick at myself, the very thought of food made me dry heave.  Never had the feeling of hunger screamed so loudly at me.
The message came clear as sunlight breaking through a rain cloud.  I needed to feel hunger.  I needed to feel comfortable being hungry.  Hunger need not rule me.  I was to rule hunger.  I had more power than hunger.  More importantly, I was to deeply feel the physical symptoms of hunger; the rumbling of the stomach, the fizz in the brain, the fatigue in the bones, the mental awareness that food was not an option – I needed to feel this for those who lived with hunger, those who died hungry – even starved to death.  I could feel them all around me.  I had ancestors in my genealogical line that had lived with hunger and had died because of it. They were with me.
  A starving girl in a house full of food knows she’s not really starving, she just thinks she is.  Through fasting, the suffering of others has become very real to me.  I fast for 16 – 18 hours and then get to eat, but some people go without food and are uncertain where their next meal will come from.  
Starving sisters sitting on the pavement in the Warsaw ghetto, Poland. The small girl died after one week
The picture was taken by Heinz ., a German soldier (Wehrmacht) posted in the Warsaw area in 1941.
Going without food is a humbling experience and for me, it’s a necessary reminder to pray for the poor, give a generous fast offering (money to help feed the poor) and be humble in the blessings I’ve been given.  
No longer do I say "I'm starving."  It's sacrilegious to those who truly are suffering.  Instead I say, "I'm hungry" or "I'm ready to eat." 

Intermittent fasting and prayer is the first time in my life eating has nothing to do with losing weight or body image.  It is about praying for others and having gratitude for the blessings in my life.  It is absolutely glorious.  I sing praises to the creator of the fast, it truly is inspiring.  
Easter 2016 and I've been practicing intermittent fasting for 80+ days.