When the Hospital Gown Doesn’t Fit

Has it ever happened to you? You’re in the doctor’s office or getting an x-ray and you can’t find a gown that fits right?

One day I was at a doctor’s appointment with my two year old daughter. The doctor ordered a knee x-ray, but I had jeans on. A nurse came in with some XL shorts to put on so I could walk down the hallway to the x-ray room. Seems simple enough, right?

The fact is, for some people, XL simply won’t work. For many years I have struggled with my weight. This isn’t a measly 30 pounds or so. Think “top-of-the-BMI” charts super morbid obesity. No matter how much I tugged, the shorts would not fit.

hospitalgown

We try again

I’ll go find a gown instead,” the nurse said as she left the room.

When she walked in with a regular gown a few minutes later, I sent her out again to look for a large sized one.

She was gone for what felt like a long time. In reality, it was probably 5 minutes. But it was long enough for my mind to track down it’s familiar paths of self-hatred. While nothing was spoken out loud, my head was filled with,

I am so embarrassed. This is ridiculous. How can I be so stupid to let myself get this fat again? I hate this. I’m so gross.”

Finally, the nurse returned. After a thorough search, she had not been able to find a large gown. Instead, she returned with another regular sized gown and suggested that I put one on front and one on my back. It was hot and stuffy in the office. I managed to get both gowns on, but they were painfully pinching my upper arms, and my rear STILL wasn’t covered!

Third attempt

Feeling terribly uncomfortable and annoyed, I rigged up a solution. I put the first gown (barely) on the normal way, leaving several snaps undone. I put my t-shirt back on over that, and then tied the other gown around my waist, so it covered my lower half. At last there was a way to walk down the hallway without improper exposure.

By this time I was red-faced, irritable, and the inner thoughts, rambled on full of self-loathing and disgust.

Ugh. I’m so gross. I’m so fat and ugly. This is hopeless.”

Initially, my two year old curly-haired daughter had been quietly looking at board books. I was so absorbed in trying to get covered, that I nearly forgot she was in the room. Turning around once more to make sure I was fully covered, I was startled to see her big blue eyes looking up at me in awe.

MOMMY?” she squealed.

Mommy!” she said again, in a hushed, serious tone,

You wook wike a pwincess!”

Tears filled my eyes. Her words were such a contrast to what had been going on in my mind. The room was quiet and suddenly my thoughts were halted. It was a gift from God, her speaking to me that day.

Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn you and continued My faithfulness to you. 1

I no longer cared that the hospital gown didn’t fit. I only knew I was loved. Yes, loved by this darling toddler. But also loved by my heavenly Father, who didn’t want me to keep talking to myself negatively.

It’s true that I am overweight. I have sinned so many times with overeating the food God has blessed me with. But the reality is that I also have a loving, amazing, forgiving Heavenly Father who calls me His child. My 2-year old was correct.

Royal Daughters Come in All Sizes

I am a princess. His princess. He looks at me through the blood of Christ, who suffered and died on my behalf. ALL of those sins have been forgiven. Even the many, many times I have run to food instead of Him.

My ambition is to feast on the love that He has for me. His grace is the only motivation that will make me long to eat and drink and do all things for His glory.2

Four years have passed since that episode with my daughter. Occasionally those thoughts still crop up in my mind, but it has become less and less. I am staking all my hopes in Christ; I am basking in the love He has for me. My weight struggles continue but I have hope that I will be able to win this battle. Thankfully, the war has already been won.

This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles.3

By His grace progress has been made, and will continue.

1Jeremiah 31:3b (AMP)

2I Corinthians 10:31

3Psalm 34:6 (ESV)

Your comments are always welcomed and appreciated.

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Things I’ve Learned in 2014

1.  Manufactured outrage and the news.  I was taken aback this summer when a fellow Word Weaver blogger used the term “manufactured outrage” and said she wasn’t “taking the bait” anymore.  I was allowing the news stories to take away my peace. Dwelling on them tainted my thoughts with fears and negativity.

Bowe Bergdahl

The Bowe Bergdahl story was a turning point.  Bowe is a beloved son and brother who was raised by a conservative Christian family.  The family attended a church in a denomination that I once attended.  I was baffled at the feeds I was seeing from conservative outlets and the accusations against his parents.  I came across this post which describes in better words how I was looking at the story and processing it.  Seeing the memes and headlines caused me to step back from all the news, the outrage, and the craziness. I won’t “fall for the bait” with the big headlines. I feel more compassion, realizing a situation is usually more complex than anyone can realize from one news story or Facebook page blurb.  (Not that I blindly trusted everything prior to this!)  While still interested in politics and current events, I’m holding the news at arms-length and feeling more peaceful inside; less stirred up.

2.  Consistent homeschooling produces results.  When I didn’t think there was any progress, it was still happening.  My seven year old suddenly took off with reading!  We had serious concerns about learning disorders  when he was reading backwards, mixing up words and switching letters around.  We kept at our phonics workbooks day after day, week after week (seemingly mundane at times), and all of a sudden—it clicked! He apparently reached a developmental milestone and there was rapid change. Now he is reading beyond where we were with our phonics lessons.  I’m amazed how far both children have come in a year, and it gives courage and incentive to stay the course.

3. Life is precious and there is a time for mourning.  We were shocked/delighted to find out we were expecting a baby in February. There were several weeks of hopeful anticipation, followed by a concerning ultrasound, followed by a confirming ultrasound that our baby was gone.  My heart has been grieving that baby all year.  The grief has finally eased up since getting past our “should have been” due date in late October.  That baby was real, that baby was wanted, and that baby was not insignificant in the kingdom of God.  That was the lesson learned.  There isn’t a shortcut for grieving.  Heaven will be all the sweeter to meet my little ones.

4.  In researching family history,  I learned of my rich Christian heritage.  My great-grandparents were common, every day people. They were poor immigrants who were rich in faith. They came to America in hopes of a better life.

On both sides of my family, great-grandparents, grandparents and parents prayed for their offspring to believe in God, to have faith in His Son. God has heard their prayers and answered them by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is my most important inheritance (not based on relationship with my relatives, but because it is now my own through the grace of Christ).  My prayer is that my children will also have this faith.

Deuteronomy 7:9 (ESV)

Four generations – 2007

Your thoughts and feedback are always welcome in the comments section below!

The Faith of Eda Stek

Back then, they called her a mongoloid.  This is now considered a derogatory term, but Eda Stek was born in 1903, one of eleven children.  Her parents were John and Henrietta (De Wild) Stek.  She was a considered a special member of the family, having what we would now call Down’s Syndrome.

Eda was short, sturdy and round.  She always wore a dress (with corset) and sturdy black old lady shoes.  She didn’t speak very clearly but her family could understand her.  It took longer than others, but she learned to write.  She would write Bible verses or short, simple letters.  When Eda’s mother was on her death bed, she made her other children promise to take care of their sister, and they kept their promise.   In those days, the only alternative would have been a poorhouse.

Eda Stek

Eda Stek

When she stayed with her sister Nellie, she always had  her own room in the large farmhouse.  Eda was given the room above the stove, to help keep her warm.  The many children in that family had to share rooms, but Eda had her own spot.  She could be heard at night calling out for another sister, Marie who was a favorite of Eda.  But when she was at Marie’s, she would call out for Nellie.

Eda was terrified of storms.  Sometimes her nephews would tease her about that.

Mainly, Eda helped.  She fed chickens and helped her sister Nellie with  many household chores to her ability.

A great-niece recalled how much Eda loved children.  One day when her great-nieces arrived for a visit, Eda (by then in her fifties) was waiting.  She was so excited to see them, that she jumped up and down, cheering “Goody! Goody! Goody!”.  She filled her scrap books with magazine and calender pictures of children, animals and nature, and she would give the scrapbooks as gifts.

A scrapbook for Mary and Joanne, made by Eda.

A scrapbook for Mary and Joanne, made by Eda.

  

A page from Eda's scrapbook

A page from Eda’s scrapbook

Eda moved around frequently. Census records show that in 1930 she was living with her sister, Jennie and in 1940, she was staying with her brother, William and his family.  She might spend a couple of years with one family, and perhaps 6 months with another, but her siblings kept their promise.

Eda Stek (far right) with family.

Eda Stek (far right) with family.

 

When asked what she remembered about Eda, an  acquaintance from  church remarked,

I remember her most for her child-like faith.

A page from Eda's scrapbook.

A page from Eda’s scrapbook.

All these family stories tell us a little bit about Eda.  But there is one  special story my grandma told me about her when I was seven years old.  I have never forgotten it.   This story has encouraged my faith in God, and my hope of heaven for many, many years.

For the last five years of her life, Eda resided in  the Pleasant  Park Nursing Home of Oskaloosa, Iowa.  She became increasingly unresponsive.  A minister who visited Eda  before she passed away told me that he read the Bible and prayed for her, but she did not respond.

On December 20, 1979,  after weeks of being bed-ridden and not speaking, Eda miraculously sat up in her bed.  Looking up, seeing something nobody else in the room could see, she exclaimed with delight,

MAMA!  PAPA!  Pretty Pretty Pretty!  

Eda sunk back into her pillow and died.

Child-like faith

Child-like faith

Special thanks to Rev. Carl Klompien, Mrs. Delmar VanKooten, Mr. Leo Nikkel, Mary Vlietstra, Joanne Vlietstra, Esther Uramkin, April Hoeksema and Ava Davidson (Pella Chronicle).

******************

This is a post that was published previously, but I did a little editing.  Of all the posts I have written  I would say this is my favorite.  I really enjoyed researching and talking to people who had met  Eda.  Before this post, the only thing I knew about Eda was the story of her passing.  She was my great-grandmother’s sister.

My Greatest Insecurity is….Insecurity (link up with The Loft)

The Loft

The Loft

Recently I joined up with The Loft after hearing about it through one of my favorite bloggers, Arabah Joy.  The topic for writing this week is “Your greatest insecurity”.

I’ve been pondering this one for a few days–trying to pick just one–and realized that insecurity itself is my greatest insecurity!  I simply want my loved ones to be safe, and I want to feel safe.  This is a basic concern for most people, but I have a particular knack for thinking of the worst case scenario in every situation, especially at night when it’s time to sleep.

Painful insecurity comes from having a marriage dissolve after eight years.   A vow I took and intended to last until death was grievously dissolved in a court room one day as if it never happened.  At that time, every aspect of life felt insecure.

Some insecurity relates to health issues and fear of accidents.   I worked as a respiratory therapist in various areas at the hospital and witnessed the effects of numerous diseases, as well witnessing injuries from accidents, violence and mishaps.  Every symptom experienced by myself or my family is a potential cause to run to Dr. Google.  Talk about finding worse case scenarios!

How about the security of living in a long term home? Since leaving my parent’s home 25 years ago at the age of 18, I haven’t lived consecutively in the same home/apartment/trailer for longer than three years.  The moving has often gone hand-in-hand with financial insecurity related to unemployment or job changes.

Natural disasters?  I’ve been in the direct path of two tornadoes.  Violence? I’ve lived within 2 blocks of a man who drove through areas that surrounded our normally peaceful neighborhood one afternoon, randomly shooting as he went to kill others intentionally.  I’ve had a person I trusted threaten to kill me and prevent me from calling for help. Wild animals? I hit a deer with my car 3 times.  No! Let me correct it for the record: The deer have hit ME!  

I’ve had one of those most dreaded phone calls one Sunday morning, hearing that a dear  friend/cousin died suddenly, unexpectedly in the heart of her mothering years.  We waited for several weeks to hear results from the autopsy report that she had a rare heart condition. Life itself is fragile, and it is shattering to lose someone my age.

Being a mom brings up all sorts of insecurity and fears for my children.  When my children were babies, I rarely slept at night, feeling I should be on alert and reassuring myself that they were breathing.  As they grow older, new fears develop. Like a Mama bear, I want to protect them, physically, emotionally and spiritually. The fears and worries about my pregnancy this spring did nothing to stop another miscarriage from happening. I have had two babies in my womb that I simply could not protect.

Last week our pastor preached from Luke 12, the classic passage where Jesus tells his disciples “Do not worry.”  I copied something pastor said in my notes:

We can’t change even the smallest things by worrying.

Confession:  In my head, I get this crazy idea that by anticipating tragedy, perhaps I can prevent it!  Worrying makes me somehow feel more secure, as if I can prevent things from happening by preparing for the worst outcome.

Can I stop another deer from crossing my path?  Can I stop another tornado from forming near my family?  Can I keep my husband safe on his drive home from work? Stop a terrorist attack?

The symptoms of post traumatic stress have affected me over the years, and I have found that counseling and medical help have been beneficial for processing events and managing physical symptoms.

However, when it boils down, the only antidotes to my every day insecurities are two things:  Prayer and thankfulness.

Philippians 4:6-7

 

Prayer

Only the hope of the gospel allows me to cry out to God for freedom from my insecurities, when I am weary of my sin.  I start to feel ashamed, and then don’t want to pray.   If I cannot come to Him to begin with, how do I place all my insecurities in His mighty hand?  How can I pour my heart out to someone that I am afraid of?   The gospel (GOOD NEWS!) reality is that He has forgiven, justified, redeemed me from any insecurity I might have that prevents me from approaching him. Approaching him humbly, confessing my sin, and bravely trusting that I am forgiven enables me to pour my insecurities and worries out to Him in prayer.  Talk about stress relief! (Praise God that we can have mustard seed faith, right?) People!  I have not mastered this yet.  I am preaching the gospel to myself.

Thanksgiving

Just a few weeks ago, Ann Voskamp (guru of gratitude) posted a blog about her daughter asking “Why is there all this loveliness?”  I’ve been pondering that thought.  Aren’t we  also commanded to think about whatever is lovely, good, pure, etc.?  My thoughts naturally tend to mull about the evil, the bad, sickness, death, sin and bad news of the day.  But how about the good? In the midst of insecurity, there is much reason to give thanks. I cannot even tell (it would take pages and pages) all the kindness, friendship, prayers, love and support I have received from the family of God, my family, and my husband.  The comfort and healing from God Himself through the Psalms soothes me without fail, whenever I seek it out.  Then there is the soothing beauty of music and Lake Michigan sunsets and falling stars. Why is there all this loveliness?   A heart focused on gratitude to God builds a fortress against insecurity.

 

 The Lord is righteous in all his ways
    and kind in all his works.
 The Lord is near to all who call on him,
    to all who call on him in truth.
 He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
    he also hears their cry and saves them. (Psalm 145:17-19)

 

 

 

Me and my 1.9 children

The post below called “Why Most Families have 2 Children”, though written 3 years ago circulated through my news feed several times recently:

http://mychildiloveyou.blogspot.com/2010/02/why-most-families-have-2-children.html

As of this writing, there have been nearly 700 comments on that post.  It struck a nerve with people. Many saw it as positive and others found it upsetting. I’ve read it a few times in the past weeks since it came to my attention.  Let me say, first off, that I think that the author has a good heart.  It is apparent that she meant well and wanted to be an encouragement.  Based on reading several of her other posts, she is a loving, caring and devout mother.  I think she wanted to encourage moms to see their children as a blessing, and to embrace their fertility, and to not be afraid to have a large family if that is possible in their situation.

At the same time, for me, it stung.  This was perhaps the part that hurt the most:

Do not misunderstand my words that mothers of two children have nothing to teach us. That is not what I am saying. What I am saying that with any job, usually the person whom has been there the longest and has the most experience is pretty wise. 

I hate to use this trite, overused phrase, but….I feel judged.  Me, with my  1.9 children.  Me, the girl who boldly proclaimed in high school, “I want to get married and have 10 kids”.  The same girl who went through eight years of infertility in my first marriage.  Who went on to re-marry, was blessed with  two children in her late thirties, and then lost our third baby in a miscarriage.  The same person who is now in her forties with  health issues that make pregnancy a little scary.

When you are in a church and/or home school community such as I live in, children are generally considered a tremendous blessing and “the more the merrier”.    Indeed, the mamas with large families are often wise and revered, and they often have good counsel for those of us with younger children, or who are just getting started.

Sometimes I’ve wondered:  How does this community look upon a mama like me, who has “only 2”?  As my great aunt said sweetly after our second was born “Now you have a millionaire family!”  I wondered about that expression until I looked it up. It meant that we had what is considered “the perfect family”, a boy and a girl.

When I go to home schooling events  or a new church and meet people for the first time, we inevitably have those “How many kids do you have/what ages, etc.?” conversations.  You will likely see my cheeks blush when I reply “two”, and sometimes I say “only two”, in an apologetic manner.  While nothing further is usually said, I always  long to explain to people that we didn’t stop there intentionally.

My husband’s favorite verse to quote to me is this:

Proverbs 29:25

Proverbs 29:25

Really, when it boils down, this is a pride issue for me.  I’m worrying too much about what other people think (even strangers!). At the same time, I consider myself immensely blessed by God to have this millionaire family.   Having  two children makes me feel rich in life. There were many years when I thought that I would never have babies. I treasure the gift of motherhood, perhaps in a way that I never would have if I had been granted my “dream” family of ten, right out of high school.   The years of my adulthood that I spent childless were full of  growing, learning and life circumstances that I carry into mothering now. I am utterly grateful to God that I have the opportunity to raise a son and a daughter.

My 1.9 children

My 1.9 children

It is most likely that I will never be a mother to ten children.  God is Sovereign.  His will is good and right and perfect.  He worked my crazy life according to His plan and used infertility, divorce,  circumstances, and even my own sin to draw me closer to Him, to humble me and help me to rely on His grace for everything.  No need to blush or apologize for my 1.9.

The faith of Eda Stek

Back then, they called her a mongoloid.  This is now considered a derogatory term, but it was the norm when Eda was a child growing up in Iowa.  Eda Stek  was one of eleven children, born in 1903.  Her parents were John and Henrietta (De Wild) Stek.  She was a considered a special member of the family, having what  we would now call Down’s Syndrome.

Eda Stek

Eda was short, sturdy and round.  She always wore a dress (with corset) and sturdy black old lady shoes.  She didn’t speak very clearly but her family could understand her.  It took Eda a long time, but she learned to write.  She would write Bible verses or short, simple letters.  When Eda’s mother was on her death bed, she made her other children promise to take care of their sister, and they kept their promise.   In those days, the only alternative for Eda in Iowa would have been a poorhouse.

When she stayed with her sister Nellie’s family, she  had her own room in the large farmhouse full of children.  Eda was given the room above the stove to help keep her warm.  She could be heard at night calling out for another sister, Marie who was a favorite of Eda.  But when she was at Marie’s, she would call out for Nellie.

Eda was terrified of storms.  Sometimes her nephews would tease her about that.

Mainly, Eda helped.  She fed chickens and helped her sister Nellie with  many household chores to her ability.

A great-niece recalled how much Eda loved children.  One day when her great-nieces arrived for a visit, Eda (by then in her fifties) was waiting.  She was so excited to see them, that she jumped up and down, cheering “Goody! Goody! Goody!”.  She filled her scrap books with magazine and calender pictures of children, animals and nature, and she would give the scrapbooks as gifts.

A scrapbook for Mary and Joanne, made by Eda.

A scrapbook for Mary and Joanne, made by Eda.

  

A page from Eda's scrapbook

A page from Eda’s scrapbook

Eda moved around frequently. Census records show that in 1930 she was living with her sister, Jennie and in 1940, she was staying with her brother, William and his family.  She might spend a couple of years with one family, and perhaps 6 months with another, but her siblings kept their promise to their mother, and Eda was spared having to live her life in a poorhouse.

When asked what she remembered about Eda, an  acquaintance from  church remarked,

I remember her most for her child-like faith.

A page from Eda's scrapbook.

A page from Eda’s scrapbook.

All these family stories tell us a little bit about Eda.  But there is one  special story my grandma told me about her when I was seven years old.  I have never forgotten it.   This story has encouraged my faith in God, and my hope of heaven for many, many years.

For the last five years of her life, Eda resided in  the Pleasant  Park Nursing Home of Oskaloosa, Iowa.  She became more and more unresponsive.  A minister who visited Eda  before she passed away told me that he read the Bible and prayed for her, but she did not respond very well.  Eda’s days were drawing to a close.

On December 20, 1979,  after weeks of being bed-ridden and not speaking, Eda suddenly, amazingly sat up in her bed.  Looking up, seeing something nobody else in the room could see, she exclaimed with delight, loudly and clearly,

MAMA!  PAPA!  Pretty Pretty Pretty!  

Eda sunk back into her pillow and died, moments later.

Child-like faith

Child-like faith

Special thanks to Rev. Carl Klompien, Mrs. Delmar VanKooten, Mr. Leo Nikkel, Mary Vlietstra, Joanne Vlietstra, Esther Uramkin, April Hoeksema and Ava Davidson (Pella Chronicle).

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