Monthly Archives: July 2013

Tribute to Katie Reid

I was driving from NC to VA when I got the call. My husband and I were in the process of moving back to our hometown for the summer. He was driving the moving truck and I was singing along to the radio at the top of my lungs in the car behind him. We had spent the last week cramming through final exams, packing up our NC apartment, attending our graduations and celebrating his Air Force commissioning ceremony. We had less than 24 hours to get to VA and settle in before I started summer school. So singing obnoxiously loud was just one of my many attempts to stay awake behind the wheel.

Half-way through the drive my phone started ringing. I looked down to discover it was one of my best friends, Katie. Earlier that day, Katie had sent me a text to let me know she had some news to tell me. I thought for sure she was calling to tell me that she was pregnant or that she had bought a house. Nothing could have prepared for me for what she actually said.

“I have cancer,” Katie quickly informed me. My heart sank to the pit of my stomach and I struggled to find my breath. With tears quietly streaming down my face, I tried (probably unsuccessfully) to keep my voice composed for my sweet friend on the other end of the phone.

She was eerily calm as she told me what little information she had at the time and kept saying, “But I’m fine. Really, I’m fine. Don’t worry.”

Within a couple short weeks, the seriousness of Katie’s diagnosis became devastatingly apparent. For the sake of Katie’s privacy, I will not share the details. That is Katie’s story to tell. My focus in this post is not to reveal the gritty details of her diagnosis or to start a gossip chain about her condition. My goal is simply to honor the remarkable woman I am privileged to call one of my most precious friends.

Katie is only 25 years old, but she has handled her situation with the grace and faith of someone wise beyond her years. Katie’s cancer is not her identity. Before cancer ever became part of her life, Katie was already a strong, resilient woman who remained unwavering in her faith no matter what storms she encountered. Katie’s battle with cancer is only one more example of how her remarkable spirit has fearlessly risen to the challenge, refused to give up, and heroically taken on the impossible.

I first had the honor of getting to know Katie on a church retreat in high school. Within a matter of hours, I found myself amazed at the challenges this young teenager had already overcome. As a high school student, she had already faced what many would consider the worst of the worst. But without hearing her story, you would never have known she had walked through such difficult times. Her faith in God, her love for others, and her abundant joy were the things everyone noticed about her (and still are to this day).

With all she had been through, you might imagine that Katie would have turned into a bitter, rebellious teen who hated God and everyone around her. But Katie was the total opposite. This teenager loved God and loved others at a level many of us could only hope of one day reaching. She dreamed of traveling to war-torn, impoverished, disease-stricken countries and sharing the love of Jesus with hurting people.

After graduating from high school and mastering the skills of nursing, Katie ventured off to Sudan eager to love and encourage people in need. She sacrificed the security and luxuries of home, stepped outside of her comfort zone, and selflessly put the needs of others before her own. Several months later, Katie returned home and continued sacrificing for the benefit of those around her. She stepped back into her role as nurse, big sister, daughter, granddaughter, friend and eventually wife.

But in each of these roles, Katie has always gone above and beyond what anyone would expect of her. For as long as I have known Katie, she has stepped up as a leader in her family and been an incredible role model to her four younger siblings. She has taught them what being a godly woman truly means, supported them in every possible way, and made certain they never forgot how to laugh in the midst of hard times. When her grandfather was sick, she did everything in her power to love, encourage and comfort him and his sweet wife. When her friends have been in need, Katie has always rushed to their side. Whenever I have gone through struggles of my own, Katie has always showered me with cards and prayers, regardless of her own crises. The list goes on…

Katie is the real deal, y’all. Her raw and genuine love is a true gift. She calls things out the way she sees it and is not afraid to acknowledge the truth, even if it’s painful. She takes on challenges like they’re nothing and hates it when people pity her. Although her voice may be quiet, her words are powerful when she speaks. She refuses to worry. Instead, she insists on trusting God regardless of how dark the present situation might seem. She does not look at the outcome of situations and then decide to trust God because everything turned out alright. Instead, she stares into the deadliest of battles and chooses to rely on God, no matter the outcome.

A few weeks ago, Katie suffered a rupture in her abdomen that sent her to the ICU. Family and friends flooded the ER waiting room terrified of what this could mean for our sweet girl. But hours later, when the hospital finally let us see her, Katie was sitting up in her bed, making faces at us, sporting her breathtakingly gorgeous smile, and lovingly fussing at all of us for worrying about her.

Thankfully, Katie is out of the hospital now and continuing to fight with the utmost bravery. Those of us who love her so dearly are pleading with God for a miracle and are trying our best to follow her example of faith, rather than fearing the worst. But no matter what happens in our sweet girl’s life, I know her character will continue to amaze us all. Katie is incredible, inspirational and irreplaceable.

Thank you, Katie, for being an example for us all. Thank you for going above and beyond in your relationships. Thank you for never giving up. Thank you for teaching me how to laugh in the midst of despair, how to hope in the face of the impossible, and how to have faith in the face of the unknown. I love you, sweet friend, more than you will ever know.

May we all learn from Katie’s example and may we too never give up, no matter what comes our way.

Please share this post & join me in praying for Katie as she continues fighting the good fight!

Katie & Me

Katie & Me

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

The Untold Story behind Our Little Miracle

I’ve told you my husband and I are expecting our first child; what I have not told you is the story behind this miracle of ours.

On Sunday June 2, 2013 I found out I was pregnant. Excitement rushed over me and joy overflowed from my face. Despite my best attempts to keep it secret, a couple close friends and family members started guessing within hours because I was so completely happy. We had 24 hours of total happiness and celebration. But the next day, everything changed.

Due to some odd symptoms in April and a minor procedure that I had in May, we were unsure how far along I was in the pregnancy. I could have been a couple weeks or a couple months along. Since I was unsure how long I had been pregnant and was experiencing cramping, my doctor decided to see me the next day.

Monday afternoon I went to have an ultrasound and meet with my doctor. As my husband and I sat waiting for the moment when we would first see our little one on the ultrasound screen, our hearts were racing with anticipation. Within minutes, however, our hearts sunk and confusion set in… They could not find our sweet baby.

Blood work had verified that I was indeed pregnant. But the ultrasound tech found zero evidence of pregnancy. Her words were something along the lines of, “As far as I can see, you’re not pregnant.” Words no expecting mother wants to hear.

The nurse escorted us into the doctor’s personal office. We sat on his couch and tears streamed down my face. He began discussing with us his concerns about an ectopic pregnancy. He reassured us that it could have just been too early to see anything on the ultrasound, but said he wanted to run more tests to find out more. He told us all about HCG levels and how monitoring my blood work over 48 hours would help him to determine whether it was a healthy pregnancy or not, as well as give him a feel for how far along I actually was in the pregnancy.

We left his office and went to a nearby lab to have the first round of blood work drawn. After that, we had to go home and wait. I went home, took a midterm (did I mention this was in the middle of summer school?), and tried to stay calm.

The next day the phone rang. A nurse from my doctor’s office was on the other end. She asked how I was feeling, whether I was experiencing any bleeding, and informed me that my blood work suggested I was 6 or 7 weeks pregnant. “This means we should have been able to see something on the ultrasound yesterday,” she added. She instructed me to return to the lab first thing the next morning to have more blood taken and told me to be prepared to go to the ER if I started feeling worse.

My mom, who was with me at the time and knows my doctor and nurse personally, spoke with the nurse on the phone and asked the question I was too scared to ask: Does this mean you really think this is an ectopic pregnancy? The nurse said it was looking more and more that way, but that they would know more information after my next round of blood work.

My mom hung up the phone and prepared me for what would happen if it was an ectopic pregnancy. She was the rock and support that I needed so desperately in that moment. She cried with me but also assured me that, no matter the outcome, God would get me through it.

I walked upstairs and fell apart. Somewhere inside my body was our sweet baby. But I had no way of knowing whether I would ever have the privilege of meeting this precious child here on earth. In the hours and days that followed, I began writing letters to our sweet baby, singing to him/her, and soaking up whatever time I could connecting with our child.

Below are some excerpts from letters I wrote to our baby during those few days:

My precious child,

I don’t know how much more time we have together. The doctor is having trouble finding you. Wherever you are, please know that your mommy and daddy love you so very much. You brought us so much joy when we found out about you on Sunday. Whether it’s in this life or in heaven, I can’t wait to hold you in my arms and look into your precious eyes. I have always wanted you and that will never change. You are a blessing and a joy. You have changed me for the better and I will never be the same. Thank you for coming into my life. I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, no matter what happens, my baby you’ll be…

All my love,

Mommy

 

Hello my sweet angel,

I am so excited to be your mommy. I have wanted you my entire life. Your life is so meaningful. Your story matters so much to me. I will do everything I can to love you, encourage you, and support you no matter what challenges you face in life. Nothing you could ever do would make me love you less. You are my child and I am so grateful to be your mother.

You know what’s even better than my love though? God’s love for you is everything you could ever need. He cherishes you so much. You were his baby before you were ever mine. And no matter what happens in this life, he is going to be the most wonderful father to you. He created your life and he knows exactly what is best for you, my sweet baby. He is holding you in his hand and he will never let you go.

Guess what else…Your daddy here on earth is pretty fantastic too. He wants you just as much as I do. You are going to love him. He’s going to teach you all about airplanes, so I hope you like them. Before I ever married him, I knew he was going to be the most amazing dad. He is so great with kids and he lights up when we talk about you and your future siblings. He will be there for you no matter what. That’s the kind of man your daddy is…loyal, trustworthy, and incredible. I can’t wait for you to meet him.

I know we’ve had a bit of a rocky start here. But nothing will ever change the fact that you are my baby, I am your mother, and my love for you will never go away. I pray that I will get to see you on the ultrasound today and that you will be right where you are supposed to be, healthy and growing. But if for any reason you are being called home to heaven, everything will still be OK. I would miss you more than anything and would be so sad. But I know that whenever your time comes for you to go to heaven, you are going to love it there. You won’t have to worry about pain or fear because you will be spending every day with the God who formed you and calls you his beloved child. So no matter what happens today, don’t be afraid my sweet one. Everything is going to be just fine. You have all the love in the world. So fear nothing, but look forward with excitement because God has great plans for you.

Love Always,

Mommy

 

I returned to lab on Wednesday for more blood work.

At 8:30 Thursday morning the nurse called. She said my HCG levels had gone up and they should definitely be able to see something on the ultrasound so to come back and they would look one more time.

By this point, I had a few of my closest friends praying fervently on our sweet baby’s behalf. One of my dear friends, Gwen Seiler (founder of Northfield Ministries), sent me this text before I went in for my appointment:

“If it is the case, do not despair. God is in total control. Keep telling Him you trust Him to do what is best…what will bring Him glory and honor.” She also sent her love and promised to be praying alongside us.

Before going back for my ultrasound, I spent the morning on my knees, crying before God, begging him to work a miracle, but also surrendering our unborn child into his hands. My floor was soaked with tears but I couldn’t stop praying. I knew there was absolutely no way I could walk through this without Him. I could have stayed in that posture of prayer all day. It was the only time I felt total peace. When I was completely leaning on Him and surrendering the outcome and my child into His hands, that was the only time I could totally breathe. His peace washed over me and I began feeling stronger. I sang hymns for our sweet baby to hear and talked to him/her all about God, prayer, and heaven.

Lyrics from Matt Redman’s song 10,000 Reasons became my mantra for the day:

“The sun comes up, it’s a new day dawning. It’s time to sing your song again. Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me, help me be singing when the evening comes. Bless the Lord, oh my soul. Worship his holy name.”

I replayed these lyrics in my mind whenever I felt anxious.

At 2:00, I returned for the ultrasound. My eyes swelled with tears as I waited for the ultrasound to begin. Minutes later, the screen turned on and right before my very eyes was our precious little baby. Right where an empty uterus had been seen on Monday, we now saw the most beautiful sight in the world. I exclaimed, “Is that my baby?!” The ultrasound tech assured me that everything was right where it was supposed to be and there was nothing to worry about.

1010516_207991462683507_948140632_n

Several weeks have passed since then and they now think the pregnancy was just too early those first couple days to be able to see anything. They are still trying to lock in a more accurate due date, but now it’s looking like I’ll reach my 11th week in a couple days.

Despite being a terrifying start to my first pregnancy, those few days taught me some valuable lessons.

For one, this experience reminded the importance of staying calm and not jumping to the worst conclusions before receiving all the information.

It also reminded me that nothing can compare to God’s peace. Even when the rest of life is unstable and feels like it’s falling apart, He remains steady and is the one thing that can never be taken away.

Mostly, it showed me how very much I already love this little baby and reminded me that every day is a gift. None of us are guaranteed tomorrow. I still have until February until this little angel is due and I am well aware that complications could still arise, although I am praying constantly for a smooth and healthy pregnancy. But life is full of unknowns. What I do know is that right now, today I have a precious miraculous baby growing inside me and I am going to soak up every minute I have with this little angel. Life is a gift and even if our baby is only 10 ½ weeks old, his/her life matters greatly to me and that will never change.

14 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

10,000 Reasons (Matt Redman)

Leave a comment

July 17, 2013 · 12:27 pm

My Little Miracle

1010034_207991292683524_1093435103_n

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve mentioned before how one of the things that motivated me to keep fighting during the hardest days was thinking about my desire to be a mother one day. I knew staying in the eating disorder would make that dream next to impossible. For one, being malnourished would significantly decrease my chances of ever becoming pregnant. But if a miracle occurred and I somehow became pregnant or had the privilege of adopting a child, I still would not be fully present for that sweet little one. I summed it up in an old post with the following words:

“I have always longed to be a mother, ever since I was a kid myself. If I stayed in my e.d., would I be able to be a healthy mom to my future kids? Not completely… Even if I constantly spoke words of affirmation to them, they would see the way I treated myself (and we all know actions speak louder than words). They would pick up on my insecurities, my self-hatred, my shame about my body, my eating habits, my unhealthy weight, etc…and they would begin holding themselves to those same standards. They would sense my anxiety at meal times and begin feeling anxious themselves. They would learn to suppress their emotions and ignore the beautiful voices God gave them, just as they’d see me do every day. I would not be able to teach them to hold their head high with confidence because I would be unable to do that myself. Sure, I could try to put on an act. But kids are much more intuitive than people often realize. They pick up on the subtle cues that parents think they’re hiding. As hard as I might try to act like I’m fine, they would see through that charade and would absolutely be affected.” (You can read more of this here).

So years ago, when the struggle felt impossible and I would contemplate giving up, I would think about this dream of mine. I knew that was something I had always wanted. And I knew I would be heartbroken if I let the eating disorder steal that away from me. So I chose to press on through another meal, another hour, another day. I knew if I wanted to be a mother, the cycle of unhealthy body image and negative self-esteem needed to end with me.

Now I am standing on the other side of the battle. I am free from the e.d. and what I used to only dream of experiencing is now becoming my reality. My husband and I found out recently that we are expecting our first child, praise the Lord!

988628_207991289350191_1692244779_n

 

 

 

 

 

 

So there you have it… one more reason why I am incredibly thankful that the eating disorder is no longer part of my life.

To all of you who are weary from the struggle, keep on taking it one step at a time and remember…no matter what happens…Never.Give.Up.

 

Much love to all,

Kimberly

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Thankful I Never Gave Up

I apologize for my absence from the blog these last several weeks. For those of you who read my A Season of Bittersweet Days post a couple months ago, you know that a lot has been happening this summer. Throughout the next few blog posts, I hope to update you a bit and to encourage some of you to never give up, no matter what life brings your way. So stay tuned. More posts are on the way!

For now, here is one reason why I am thankful I never gave up. It’s also a big part of what consumed all my time these last several months…

I finally graduated from UNC Chapel Hill! As of a couple weeks ago, I completed summer school and am officially a graduated Tar Heel.

DSC_0288

I have told you before that during my darkest days in the eating disorder, one of the ways I found the motivation to keep fighting for recovery was by thinking about my life goals, thinking about all of the things the eating disorder would strip away from me if I did not break free, and thinking about the legacy I wanted to one day leave behind. One of these goals that motivated me to keep pressing forward was graduating from college.

You see, six years ago I took time off from school to focus on recovery and getting well. When I stepped back from school, some doubted whether I would ever graduate, including myself. My perfectionistic mindset hated the idea of getting off the time table that society had set out for me. I wanted so desperately to be “normal” and to not stand out as the girl who would graduate later than everyone else. In my eyes, stepping back would mean I was a failure. I inaccurately assumed that needing time to focus on recovery and self-care would mean I was weak. I shuddered at the thought.

Thankfully, however, my family and treatment team helped me realize that pushing forward with school would do me very little good if I was killing myself along the way. If at the end of four years I had received a degree but was too sick to use it, what good would that have done? So with their love and support, I stepped back and placed my focus 100% on regaining my life back from the eating disorder. I fixed my eyes on God’s promises and dove into my treatment plan head first. Everything else came second.

Looking back, I am so thankful I took that time away. Not only did I find a complete recovery, but I also rediscovered my passions in life, found out what I actually wanted to pursue in college, and learned to start letting go of the perfectionistic mindset that had been tearing me down for so long. Once I had reached a healthy place, I had the strength to be able to transfer to UNC, take 16-18 credit hour semesters, work on the side and invest in my marriage. I never would have been able to keep up with that sort of life if I had still been sick. That chaos would have been a recipe for total disaster and my body would have given out on me. But because I was healthy and had gained the tools to cope with a stressful life, I was able to take on the challenge and love every minute.

So why am I sharing this with you?

If I had given up, if I had stayed in the eating disorder, I never would have been able to reach this milestone. If you are holding onto your eating disorder and are terrified of letting it go, I hope my story can encourage you to remember that life is so much better on the other side. Whether it steals your relationships, your career, your dreams or your entire life, the eating disorder will only lead to destruction. It will not empower you. Instead, it will destroy you. So, as scary as it can be, take a deep breath and start letting go.

Also, don’t be afraid to place recovery first. It can be really easy to make excuses and convince ourselves and others that we don’t have time to focus on recovery. It is a choice. You have to choose to make the time. If you wait for life to just open up a gap of time for you to conveniently focus on recovery, you will wait forever. Your life is too valuable for you take such a passive approach at recovery. Take hold of your life and actively pursue recovery.  Set up a solid treatment team and be willing to do whatever is necessary to embrace a full recovery. School can wait. Work can wait. Your health cannot.

Ask Yourself: Will continuing to place your health on the back burner really make you the best person you can be? Will you really be able to reach your full potential in life if you are dying from an eating disorder? Will you really be fully present in your relationships if you are constantly thinking about how to please the eating disorder? Will you really be able to have authentic relationships if you are constantly contemplating how to keep others at a distance so they don’t suspect you are sick? Despite the lies that the eating disorder might try to tell you, the answer to all these questions is “No.” (To see how I dealt with these questions, visit my Motivation post)

Maybe it’s not an eating disorder. Maybe you have something else in your life that has become a stronghold, something else that has become an addiction, something else that is stealing your life away. Make the choice. Be present. Show up for yourself and for those who love you. None of us are guaranteed tomorrow. So make the most of today and embrace a life of freedom from bondage while you still have the chance.

DSC_0275

As I wave goodbye to my time at UNC and thank God for my education at this school, I thought I’d share my old admissions essay with those of you who are interested. Not only did it help me receive an acceptance letter from UNC, it also inspired the title of this blog. You can read the essay by visiting my old post, Reason Behind the Title: Never.Give.Up.

Leave a comment

Filed under Reflections on Recovery, Uncategorized