The Gift of a Teacher

Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life
Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life

This amazing woman was just inducted into the Thespian Hall of Fame, and is now retiring. What a gift she has been to all of us who were in her class.

***

I am the mother of three. And what I hope and pray for my children, is that other people would speak into their lives.

I was lucky enough to have an influencer in my own life. (Click HERE to read a recent article written about her.)

Her name was Ms. Davis, my theater teacher in high school.

Ms. Davis 2

With her kind eyes and warm hugs, those of us who were blessed to know her, felt as if she was a mother figure to us.

A mentor. A guide.

You could go to her desk in the corner and whisper your secrets. You could tell her your pain and you could even tell her the jokes that most teachers would discipline you for. She was a friend to all of us and as I remember back, really embodied the ability to love unconditionally. I would try to work for her praise or adoration as this was the way love worked in my own family system, but I didn’t have to strive or perform for her kind words or for a gentle glance. It just was.

Yes, those of us involved in theater in 1986-1990 were a passionate and chaotic group, a bit of a brat pack, and I have no doubt we pushed her limits.

Yet, she always offered us grace.

I can’t remember my lines from the plays, I can’t remember the choreography, but I can remember that every day after school I could walk down the long hall, through the side door of the theatre into a world where people were accepted for who they were. A world where creativity was accepted and cherished. A place where you were free to be yourself. This doesn’t happen just because someone is cast in a play, nor do I believe it happened at every school.

0f926f7c579a648053f8b3864a2cef60

Those of us at Shawnee Mission North, were blessed, because of Ms. Davis. Because of her passion for teenagers. Because of her passion for the arts. And because she believed every single one of us mattered.

Grease

I can only pray and hope that my children are blessed enough to be given a gift like the gifts Ms. Davis gave all of us as to usher them into adulthood feeling like, yes, there is one person out there who believes in me. One person who cares about me just as I am.

Now in my 40,’s I still carry around that gift that she gave us, the gift of love and acceptance, and hope that I as well can offer that gift to others. My time under her wing has helped me to do the writing and speaking that I do now.

Thank you Ms. Davis. You changed hundreds of lives, including mine, through your commitment to teenagers. I am so honored and blessed by your presence in my life.

xo

Lee

Are You Grappling With the “Why” of Depression?

Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life
Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life

A well loved man, a Principal, recently took his own life in our Minnesota community.

Read the story here.

Family, the Wayzata community, and the tender hearted children at his school are left with more questions than answers. My children heard the story on the news as well.

They asked, as we all ask…Why?

My heart aches for those asking “the why” and my mind knows where he was. In the dark suffocating arms of depression.

I have been there, and not only have I been there, but I have gone back to the edges of it its grip many times. It makes no sense to those on the outside looking in. Why would someone who appears so successful, so happy, so normal, be depressed? Why?

Because depression is a disease. And if you struggle or have struggled with it, you understand.

images

If you haven’t I would encourage you to think of it more like a cancer that has no source, except a body that produces it. A diagnosable depression is not fixed by a better relationship, a full bank account, or a happy job.

It is like a cloak that you can’t get off.

Like a heavy blanket that you want to rid yourself of; because you are sweating and it is hundred degress outside, and it itches, but you can’t squirm out of it. You can feel it behind the smile, you can feel it in your toes, it creeps on the edges of your mind whenever you are awake. The only place where it goes away is during sleep. If you can go to sleep. And when you do, you find relief. There is no heaviness, there is not palpable pain that is tapping incessantly on your heart. There is no wakeful wonder of asking why you can’t step out of this heaviness. And when you can’t crawl out it, when the itching and the pain becomes too much, depression whispers in your ear with sweet tender words, that it will be better to end it all. And the person in depression, the person who can’t push through another day belives it’s lies and succumbs.

And a community, a family, a city, is left in shock. In terrible horrible pain of asking, “why?”

I have been there and have written about my struggle through depression in my book, Table In The Darkness – A Healing Journey Through an Eating Disorder. Not only have I been there, but depression pokes it’s bony finger at me still when I least expect it. It ebbs and flows, but there are times when it tries to cover me. Times when despite my circumstances, it is there, in my mind, in my soul and in my bones. I know it’s tricks now, I know it well enough to scream out for help when it gets close. But, it isn’t easy.

Why?

Because people don’t understand it like they do cancer. There is a stigma that says it is a way of thinking, or you just need to pull yourself up by your bootstraps, or you just need to look around and be grateful. Don’t say that to someone struggling ok? (I wrote more on this here, or check out this great article here.)

Do you know someone struggling with depression?

Be a listener. Be a friend who sits with them.

imgres

Then encourage them to get professional help. Encourage them as you would if they broke their arm, to see someone who can help. When the brain isn’t working, and the mood is sending a warning light to the body saying something is wrong, we need to get help.

Asking for help isn’t weakness, it is courage, and it is strength.

And we need each other to have the courage to do so, we need community to help us feel safe, vulnerable, and to share our pain.

There can be no vulnerability without risk; there can be no community without vulnerability; there can be no peace, and ultimately no life, without community.” - M. Scott Peck 

Yes, it takes courage. Going to see someone and tell them you are depressed takes courage. It is scary, but it is worth it. It allows someone else to help you get that wool and itchy cloak off of you. It is the hand pulling you out of the pit. You can’t think your way out of it. You can’t pray your way out of it, ask for help.

Another teacher who knew this man, wrote this on Facebook, and I agree.

I would like to propose that instead of saying “s/he killed himself” we instead name the disease that killed someone. So the answer to “how did they die?” would become “depression” or “mental illness”. – Stacy Sullwold

He died of depression. Not of suicide. But, by the disease of depression. Which is real.

If you or someone is struggling, please get help. Please.

imgres

Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into the places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human.” ― Henri J.M. Nouwen

Xo

Lee

There Is Nothing Mundane about Mundane Faithfulness

Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life
Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life

You never know what God has in store for you around the next corner or the next curve.

When you open your eyes in a patient expectation, in an openness and with your palms held open, He can fill them.

I try to live my life like this in an open expectation.

This is the opposite of how I lived most of my earlier years.

Perfectionism and my eating disorder made me rigid and very unbendable. I don’t like that old me, because she misses the wonder and the whimsy of God when she is stuck in her own plan.

Oh and what God lets us see when we actually open our eyes and when we wait in patient expectation!

What I have found from this posture is He usually responds by placing people and relationships in our lives.

I have been blessed so tremendously by the most unexpected of relationships. A few years ago I went to a writer’s conference in Colorado and sat next to a woman named Jill, who I felt as if I had known my whole life. We immediately connected and proceeded to hang together, encourage each other, and giggle like old friends through the conference. Over the years we have watched each other go from aspiring writers to published authors. What a joy it has been to be blessed by the most random of friendships.

But, it wasn’t only this relationship, but another.

A woman named Kara Tippett. And if you haven’t heard about her. You should. Stop what you are doing. Take some time to read her story.

imgres

Read her story at her blog Mundane Faithfulness.

Buy her book, The Hardest Peace: Expecting Grace in the Midst of Life’s Hard.

I don’t know her you see, I only know her through my writer friend Jill’s Facebook page. But this woman, this woman has impacted not only my life, but millions of others. On days when I swear I will quit Facebook as it makes me feel so inadequate, I scroll to see her light filled eyes staring back at me.

I stop what I am doing, read her story and take a breath.

She might not have another breath, her days are being cut too short, but her grace and her faith …her ability to encourage others when she is suffering is beyond what I can imagine, that is heroic.

While I grumble and complain about pieces of my life falling apart, I read her story and am reminded (not shamed for my experience), but reminded of a God that is bigger than I can ever fathom.

I cry for her children, I cry for the ache of her husband watching this beautiful woman fade, but I watch her faith and her encouragement and I am spurred on. Spurred on to stop and live the moment I have right now, and to praise God for each breath.

Today I wanted to share with you in hopes you too will be encouraged.

You too will find perspective in this woman’s story. And that you too will open your palms in wild surrender and say, “Yes, God.” And then you will hug your children, your spouse, and your friend. That you will throw off the things that hinder you and celebrate the gift of life today.

Thank you Kara for being such a good and faithful servant!

Here are some other articles on her:

In Dying, Kara Tippetts Shows Us God Is Present In Pain 

Kara Tippetts Documentary Trailer

Xo

Lee

When You Feel Like You Are Falling Apart…

Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life
Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life

“Slow down. You are going too fast. Can’t you just slow down!”

Yeah yeah yeah. I have heard these words my entire life. Too much energy, too much talking, going too fast. Words that meant to slow me down to someone else’s pace and words that shamed me.

I don’t do well being told to slow down. In fact, if you tell me to do that…I often do the opposite. If you tell me not to do something, it makes me want to do it more. Remember those tests they gave you in grade school that tell you not to turn the page until the teacher asks? I mean really…they expected me to wait to turn the page?

As an adult I know better than to be defiant like that, yet in my own life I tend to not take the cues. Even when I know I am being Martha-ish. The cues telling me it is time to slow down. Until my body does it for me. Until my body says, “Enough. I need a break. You are going too fast for me, I want to rest.”

images

“Aww come on,” I say, “there is so much to do, we will rest later! I want to write another book, I need to answer this email, I need to call this friend. There is so much to do!”

Have you said this before?

Until life stops you in your tracks. Maybe through a job loss, or an illness, or a death in the family. Life forces you to take a step out of the arena and take a rest. This is so hard to do, at least it is for me.

This happened to me this week when I toppled down the stairs like a ragdoll and tore things that aren’t supposed to be torn in my ankle. Well actually it has been happening the past two weeks, this was just the final straw that broke it all down for me.

My plans out the window. My life slowed down to a screeching halt.

“Oh this is good. This is so good!” My massage therapist said with an almost gleeful-high-pitched-joy in her voice.

She said this as I lay on her table balling my eyes out. I don’t ever cry in front of her, she was happy to see me opening up, breaking open like cracked egg, the yellow goop seeping out.

She is right. I know she is right, but oh do I not want to hear it.

Every year I pick a word of the year. I meditate on this word, pray about this word, and write it everywhere. This year I picked the word, RESTORE.

Restoring my soul, my family, and myself.

What I didn’t expect? That in order to come back together, to be whole and restored, I have to fall apart.

“I have already fallen apart,” I said to her in my defense. “I have already had my breakdown, haven’t you read my book?”

“Yes, but your body is doing it for you, your body is allowing you to break so that you can be put back together. Not put back together the same way, but different, better. Whole and restored.” She said gently.

And here is the deal, it isn’t just my ankle that fell apart. Some other things are too. Things like beliefs, old thought patterns, and old habits. They are breaking too.

imgres

I loathe every moment of it. It tastes like green beans, so awful it makes you shiver and almost gag.

But in the process, a process I hate, I know in my soul that God is piecing me back together better.

He is sanding off the rough edges, he is pruning away the parts that don’t work anymore, and making me new.

He does that doesn’t he? Makes all things new.

Oh but friends, it is uncomfortable. This season, this season of pruning. It hurts.

Physically. Emotionally. Mentally.

I don’t even want to write about it. I don’t want anyone to know. I want to be tough. I want to be strong. Yet, holding on only delays the process.

So I open my hands, I wait to turn the page, I surrender so I can become more of the person He created me to be and less of the person I think I should be.

When life is heavey and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions. Wait for hope to appear.” (Lamentations 3:28-29 MSG)

I trust in his promises. I trust he knows what he is doing.

I whine the entire way, but I surrender.

I surrender as I know that what he has for me is always better than what I have for myself.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, planst to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

So how about you? Are you being pruned, slowed down, changing? I know it is hard. It is uncomfortable. But we can do it.

I love how Glennon Melton says, “We can do hard things.” I would add that “We can do hard things with a God who loves us AND who has the steering wheel.”

So I will rest in his arms. Rest in the knowing that he has this all under control and I will fall apart and be all messy and broken, so I can come back together RESTORED.

Won’t you?

Xo

Lee

Are You A Slave To Your Scale?

Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life
Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life

Imagine you were born in another country, let’s say a country that trained you from a young age to believe that a certain population was evil.

Imagine they placed guns in your hands from the moment you could walk and you believed that killing yourself for your country and your family, would lead you to eternal life.

images

It is hard for us in America to imagine this because we know that is crazy. We know it creates children who grow up to be terrorists. We know rationally that it doesn’t make sense and that it is wrong. What we can’t fathom is their inability to see the truth that murder and suicide are wrong. How can they not know?

We scratch our heads in utter disbelief.

But, if you look deeper into your own life, into our own society, we do it too. Not the murdering and the suicide bombings, but the belief in a mirage.

The belief that something will bring us transcendence, happiness, power, and control.

Belief that if we weigh just the right weight, we will be happy. Belief that a certain size, a certain number on the scale will make it all better.

Then our life will begin. Then we will be happy. Then we will feel in control.

Am I stretching this comparison? No. I see women, men, and even little boys buy into this mirage. This vision of a shining light that says, come to me. I will make it all better. You will see. They sacrifice their lives, their relationships, and their health for control and a semblance of peace in a chaotic world.

Holding on to a target that is always moving and continues to demand more and more until you whither into nothing but a servant to its demands.

I bought into this game in my early twenties and barely escaped from the grip it had on my life. I almost lost it all, almost sacrificed myself for the number on a scale. And it was so much more than the number on the scale I was wanting.  I was wanting to not feel and to control, because my life was so out of control. If I could control my body, then everything would be ok.

I believed in a lie.

It doesn’t make sense, it isn’t rational is it? No. It doesn’t.

But, what I know for sure, now having escaped the torture of the eating disorder and the game…I know that it is a lie.

I know that it does not satisfy in the least bit. I know that you get on that scale every day, hoping the number will offer you something, hoping it will determine your day.

Hoping it will make your life better. And it doesn’t.

It kills. It destroys. It controls you and berates you and makes you miserable.

Don’t buy into the lie. Don’t buy into what the world is selling, what our culture is selling. Control and perfection are not something to be attained, they are not within our reach.

images

Everyone wants to be perfect, but no one wants to be with perfect. That isn’t fun.

Today, go out and be you. Be the hot mess you and I are! Be real. And if you have a scale and are using it to control your life, throw that thing out your window! Now!

If it is controlling you, tell someone, get some help! I promise you, life on the other side of being controlled like a little soldier by something that will never satisfy, life on the other side of that is FREEDOM!!

Xo

Lee

One of my favorite artists, JJHeller captures this so poignantly in this video.

 

Are You Missing The REAL Story?

Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life
Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life

The Theory of Everything is a compelling movie with fantastic acting. The story though, based on a true story, was all tied up in a nice little bow. One story reduced to a Hollywood plot line; two people, they fall in love, he is diagnosed with a life threatening illness, they struggle, and they overcome. Tied up and sweet.

After I watched it, I went on-line and researched the REAL story. I found a different story that detailed his complex and demanding personality, their explosive fights, how they really met, the difficulties with the in-laws, and the intrusive nurse who he had an affair with. Some of this was subtly hinted in the film, but most of it was removed from the movie. Hollywood knows that audiences want the plotline to make sense.

But, when we reduce stories and people to the ideas of how we WANT them to be, we miss the full messy, complicated, and often unlikeable truth.

images

We do that in life. All of us.

Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” 
― Brené BrownThe Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

We can’t be authentic if we have these labels covering us.

We see someone and we assume we know the story. Or we look at Facebook and create a story from what is shown to us.

imgres

Or we create a story that fits our paradigm. I did this for many years when writing my book, told only part of the story. Because what did it mean to put on paper all the stuff I didn’t like? It meant I was telling the truth, and the truth was scary. The truth made me and others look bad, or gave others an opportunity to label me. But, I knew I had to tell the true story. The real story. Not one that fit all pretty on the shelves of a Christian bookstore, but the real ugly, messy, unflattering and hopeful story.

Often times we do this out of fear, because what if we were like those we are criticizing, and what if there is something I see in that person that I might also see in myself? Yikes!

So we categorize and put people in nice tidy boxes. We all do it.

But when it is done to us and we know it is done to us, we often end up in the murky pool of shame.

I am not who I want to be in shame. And neither are you. But when I am in shame, when I am in the place of never good enough, a place where my stomach turns and the thoughts in my head berate me, when I am in that place I can be perceived with unwanted identities.

I reduce myself to these unwanted identities and sometimes you do it for me.

And then we miss the story. You and I both. Brene Brown explains it like this; If you reduce me to ____you will miss the fact that I am_____.

Here are some examples of how we do it to others:

     They are thin, they must be successful.

     They are fat, they must be lazy.

     They are rich, they must be happy.

     They are beautiful, their life must be wonderful.

Here is how I do it to myself:

     I made that same mistake again, I must be a failure.

     I yelled at my kids again, I am such a bad parent.

     I write such stupid things, I am not really an author.

When we do that to ourselves and others we are no longer curious, we are no longer exploring and open to life.

We miss the story. The entirety of it.

When I do it to myself, I land in the pit of shame.

Stupid Shame. Shame, in my experience, reduces me to unwanted identities. Then I miss the fact that God has something in store for me, something around the next corner, because my eyes are clouded in grey and my mind peppered with negative labels.

When we reduce ourselves and others to a label, or a diagnosis, or even a judgment we miss the story.

We miss the adventure.

I would prefer the movie would have told more of the real story. But what I really would prefer… that the rest of us walking in our lives would authentically tell our real story, either to ourselves or in a safe relationship with others. It is a risk for sure, but it is how we connect, how we grow, change and live.

I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.” 
― Brené Brown

I am working on this. It isn’t easy, I find I am most critical of myself and most forgiving of others.

I am working on it. Won’t you try too?

images

Xo

Lee

Great books to help with this:

The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are,  by Brene Brown

The Me I Want to Be: Becoming God’s Best Version of You, by John Ortberg

I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t): Making the Journey from “What Will People Think?” to “I Am Enough”, by Brene Brown

A Million MIles in a Thousand Years: How I Learned to Live a Better Story, by Donald Miller

 

 

 

To My Sixteen-Year-Old Body…#SpeakBeautiful #NEDAwareness

Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life
Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life

My Minnesota white skin was hot from the gorgeous Arizona sun and I closed my eyes trying to absorb every molecule of vitamin D.

Happy. I was so happy to be warm to be with friends and to be relaxing by the pool. The three of us, we have known each other since we were twelve. Through puberty; break-ups, college, marriages, divorces, births, deaths, and aging. We are like sisters the three of us. Bickering and rolling our eyes at each other, laughing until our sides ache and crying over each other’s pain. We are real and honest with each other.

We sat at the pool happy to be relaxing in the sun, until a group of teenagers strutted past us in their miniature bikinis.

file0001575727267

They were not strutting around all proud, they were just walking as if every day they walk around in barely nothing covering their skin. It wasn’t the bikinis we noticed. It was their bodies. All three of them, with their undamaged skin and perky everything.

We stared at them. Ok, were gawking.

I can’t believe they didn’t throw something at us while we gazed at them with our mouths dropping on the floor.

Why?

Because their bodies, so young and so round and curvy were exactly right. Not perfect. Just right.

And most likely, they had no idea. No idea in their youth and innocence they were just right. Because we had been there, and we had no idea.

We began remembering all of our summers together in the hot Kansas sun, how much we hated our bodies then. Never right.

And all three of us thought we were fat then. Not right. Needed fixing. Never good enough, always trying to change the skin we were in. And one of us, me, took the body hatred to abusing my body. To harming it and almost lost my life to an eating disorder.

We continued to stare at these girls and talk about what it was like to be a teenager and to feel all awkward and uncomfortable in your changing body, but as we watched these girls we were dying to tell them what we know now.

You are just right. Just as you are. And you are beautiful. Just as you are.

Body Imag 2

I almost marched right up to them to tell them to do it differently than I did.

Girls. Don’t you see how adorable you are? And my guess is you think you are fat. You think you don’t measure up. You think that you need to change and be like the other girl or the fashion model or the girl your crush likes. But, hear us in saying this, you will be chasing something that will never be found. The perfect body. The perfect shape. The perfect you. And then you will be 42 like us, and your body will be stretched from babies and surgeries and sun. Your muffin top will fall over your suit and you will need extra wire to hold up your saggy boobs. And even then, after all these years you will want it to be different. But it doesn’t have to be this way. You could love your body just as it is right now. You could enjoy it in its youth. You could celebrate the curves and the perkiness. Please, won’t you?

Because look at these statistics! This is so heartbreaking!

Body Image STats

Then my girlfriend, after tiring of watching these little fawns in all their beauty, turned to us and said, “Ok, each one of us is going to say something we love about our own bodies.” We stared at her. What? Really?

“Yes!”

“Not what we loved about each other’s bodies, but what we love about our own.” She said.

Trying to do now, what we wish we would have done then, in our sixteen-year-old skin.

What we wish we would have celebrated then, learning finally to celebrate now. That all six of us were beautiful. Not just the young girls, but us in our aging and sagging, we are beautiful too.

And so are you.

It does none of us any good to constantly be picking out our flaws and our bodies that don’t measure up.

Instead, let us celebrate the bodies we have been given.

Let us fuel them so they are strong and healthy and then let us use them to go out and love and care for one another.

Dove is promoting a campaign called #SPEAKBEAUTIFUL

I love it!

I am working on speaking beautiful to myself and others. I wasted so many years speaking harmful words to myself and I know many of you do as well. Let’s stop it.

Let’s spread this message of loving our own bodies and loving others as well.

Won’t you go out in the world today and #SPEAKBEAUTIFUL?

my body

I will.

XO

Lee

To My Teenage Son,

Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life
Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life

I will never forget the day I watched your little legs climb those stairs, onto that bus that seemed to swallow you up, into the world.

Me standing there in the driveway coffee in hand, smile covering my ache, hands waving frantically.

I didn’t want you to get on that bus.

I didn’t want your tiny little hand to ever leave my grip.

In fact, I would have gone on the bus with you, would have held your hand the entire way through kindergarten and back home, into the safety of my arms. Protecting you from the pain, heartache, and difficulties of this world.

But then…I would also be keeping you from the joy, the growth, and the maturity that is necessary in life.

Now you are fourteen, and you no longer want to hold my hand or even sit next to me on the couch. It is ok, I know this is normal growing up, I know you are trying to find your way.

matt 3

You left for school today, your long tall body bounding up the bus stairs, and I yelled out, “I love you!”

You didn’t turn around, you ignored me.

I heard a whisper as I stood at the door longingly, another voice, “See that. I feel that way too Lee.”

I have always been unable to grasp the understanding that God gave his one and only son. As the mother of three boys I can’t even go there, it hurts too much.

Today, my heart breaking again as it does every time you turn your head or roll your eyes at me, I wonder if God feels the same?

He would also sit on the couch for hours, waiting and hoping that I would just talk to him, as I do you. For you to tell me about your day, to talk to me about your worries, and to just confide in me, I would give anything for that. And as I mourned the little boy now growing, I heard God whisper again, how he feels exactly the same way. About me.

That he would love to just be able to sit and talk with me.

That he waits and waits for me to sit and tell him about my worries, my fears, or just to hold my hand.

Instead I rush around, I don’t listen when he yells out, “I love you!”  because I am in a hurry. Yesterday I was reading a book that had “Jesus” in the title and I hid the cover, just like you hide or walk away from me in embarassment.

And God loves me anyway.

I love you anyway.

And in this realization I get the unexplainable love that God has for me and that I have for you.

I love you not because of the way you act or because of your grades or because of how you look.

I love you because you are mine.

I love you because you are worthy just by being you. You don’t have to prove and strive or work for my love. It is there deep in every fiber of my being. I think about you all day long, I worry and pray for you, and I would drop everything for you when you need me.

God feels the same about me. I don’t have to earn his love. He loves because I am his.

You in your teenage angst are teaching me about God’s love.

Again.

I am reminded of his love, only through my pain in missing you. He tells me, I get it Lee. I gave my son so you could get it. I am with you. I am for you.

I am for you my sweet boy, I am so for you.

So I stop, and I listen to him talk to me. And I talk back, and let him hold my hand.

Someday, when you are done with these raging hormones and done trying to be cool, you will hold my hand too. I know you will.

I will wait patiently for you.

I won’t force you, I will sit. I will wait for you. Just as God does for me. And for you.

images

I love you my son.

Xo

Mom

 

The Non-Casserole Disease

Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life
Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life

No one brings your family a casserole when you are diagnosed with mental illness or addiction.

You don’t say, “Hey honey, I heard Susie’s husband went to rehab, we should bring them dinner!” (Or in Minnesota it is called a hot dish).

You don’t say that, and often you don’t say anything. Or you whisper to a friend, “Did you hear about Susie’s husband? Did you hear about that family’s daughter, she has anorexia?”  Maybe you don’t.

But many do.

You also don’t hear the pastor at church during prayer time say, “Pray for Bob. He was just diagnosed with bipolar disorder.”

Bob won’t tell the pastor. Bob won’t tell his work, and many times he might not even tell his family.

One in four Americans suffers from some kind of mental illness in any given year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Many look to their church for spiritual guidance in times of distress. But they’re unlikely to find much help on Sunday mornings.” – Lifeway Research 

Many churches won’t address the issue because they don’t feel they have the right tools to help, continuing to keep it hidden, modeling for us to keep it concealed.

Our research found people who suffer from mental illness often turn to pastors for help,” said Ed Stetzer, executive director of LifeWay Research.

But pastors need more guidance and preparation for dealing with mental health crises. They often don’t have a plan to help individuals or families affected by mental illness, and miss opportunities to be the church.”

Shame and stigma keep us from sharing these things.

images

A stigma our society continues to perpetuate sometimes. Read here for an interesting piece on Robin Williams, who actually danced around the issue of mental illness in his own life.

So why would you bring a hot dish or send a card?

Maybe you are afraid, afraid that if you get too close to it, you might catch it? As if it is catchable.

Others believe those struggling should be able to pull themselves up by the boot straps.

Just eat. Just stop drinking. Just pray and it will all be ok. I can do it, so shouldn’t you?

No. It isn’t that simple.

It isn’t that easy and to simplify it, to deny it, is only perpetuating this issue.

When I was diagnosed with anorexia and depression in my twenties, I am pretty sure my parents didn’t call friends and say, “We got some difficult news.”

They didn’t receive flowers or cards or meals.

In fact, I am not sure they shared it with anyone. Because the lack of education back then (and sometimes still today) left people pointing fingers, as if it was something they did. Something that they should have helped, a daughter who wouldn’t eat? Something must be wrong with them, people might have said.

One of our local newscasters broke his silence in 2012 about his own mental illness and struggles. When he was diagnosed he didn’t tell anyone for fear of losing his job. For five years he kept it a secret, until he finally shared his own secret shame, freeing others to do the same.

What tremendous courage it took for him to share his secret with the world.

I thought as I was on that stage two weeks ago, I’m not going to do this anymore, I’m not going to be ashamed. Two million people have this in the country, and millions of others deal with depression and other forms of mental illness. I’m not alone.”

Barlow, 50, revealed to the crowd he had bipolar disorder — more specifically bipolar I, which is associated with severe mood swings that can range from manic highs to depressive lows. While he found out about his condition five years ago and shared the diagnosis only with his immediate family, it’s something many of his family members and friends didn’t know about until recently” - Ken Barlow KSTP-TV meteorologist.

I get it, maybe you think it is different. Maybe you don’t see it as a disease and you can’t comprehend how I can call mental illness a disease.

But it is.

Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. (18.6%)—43.7 million—experiences mental illness in a given year.Approximately 1 in 5 youth aged 13–18 (21.4%) experience a severe a mental disorder in a given year.” National Alliance for Mental Illness 

Every day I see people whose minds are tortured and lives are ravaged by an eating disorder, an addiction, or depression, but they hide and wade through shame. Can they tell their pastor? Can they tell their friend? Their neighbor?

I did the same thing.

When I was in treatment I demanded my parents not tell anyone who called where I was. What was wrong with me, what happened to me? What a failure I was? The shame would berate me.

Obviously, now over eighteen years later I know differently.

I admit, I was terrified when my book was published, just as I was when I was in treatment. Terrified of the judgment, the lack of understanding, the sideway glances of…is she crazy.

But by not talking about it, by hiding the truth of it, I am only allowing it to be a secret.

It isn’t.

Let’s stop doing that, ok?

imgres

I am not ashamed that my brain broke, just as I wouldn’t be ashamed if I broke my arm.

Do you know someone who is struggling? Reach out, encourage them, listen to them, they need you!

And maybe even bring them a casserole, or a hot dish.

xo

Lee

P.S. If you live in Minnesota I hope you will consider attending the NEDA walk where my husband and I will be speaking.! 

When You Feel Small Inside

Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life
Lee Wolfe Blum - Helping Women Develop a Hunger for Life

I drove into my driveway after a discouraging day, and I saw the walls, the enormous walls staring down on me. On every side. And I began to cry. The walls being built around me are too big, too invading, too suffocating.

I live in a neighborhood where homes are being torn down and rebuilt at every turn. They call them “McMansions”. We live in a cottage compared to the size of these homes. Now they are on every side of us, a new one being built next door to enclose us in. When we sit on our back deck, everyone can look down from their large massive bedrooms to hear even our whispers. Encroaching homes overtaking our open space.

When I drove into my driveway noticing walls hemming me in I realized, it isn’t the homes that are bothering me, it is the representation of exactly how I felt on this day.

I felt small.

imgres

Do you ever feel that way?  Not small in size or weight, small in the sense of inside.

What does it feel like? It feels like a curling in. A rolling in of the shoulders a tucking of the head with a crossing of the arms for a false sense of protection.

This world, sometimes can make me feel so small. I don’t know if everyone else experiences this shrinking, this shame induced feeling of smallness, but I do sometimes. It hurts. It aches and the fencing in of the encroaching largeness of people with power, status and pride who throw around words so carelessly, sticking right to the heart and shrinking me.

When I sat down to write this today I remembered, oh yes, this small feeling is an old feeling, like an old shirt that I refuse to discard.

An old lashing that reverberated throughout my life.

A feeling that caused me many times to act big. To puff up and to try harder.

If I just tried harder and stopped making mistakes I would stop feeling so small.

It didn’t work. I know it didn’t work. So when I drove into my driveway, my heart aching with soreness from the bruise of shame, I wasn’t sure what to do.

“What do I do now?” I asked God through tears, “When I feel this way? When the other ways didn’t work.? When every turn, every image, every conversation on this day reinforces this unworthy feeling.” I spun, not knowing how to make it go away.

That is the thing, making it go away was not the answer.

Running from it was not the answer.

I sat in it, in all its dirty grimy shame and let it wash over me.

I curled under my covers and whispered the pain to God. Told him everything. Let him wrap me in his arms, not solving, but allowing me to be and to have my hurt.

The next morning I awoke early and went straight to my Bible. I turned to this verse in Psalms…

Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord. Each morning I bring my requests to you and you wait expectantly.” Psalm 5:3

Nice, I thought.

Then I opened my journal to a page from two years ago where the exact verse was written in my journal. Yes, yes.

The balm to my wound. Not a fixing of it, but in the pouring out of it from the Grace Giver.

There it was, and there it went.

When we let feelings and emotions have their time, their space, they will move on. “Run away little friend!” I said to it when I woke up today as it started to poke at me gain.

Run away little pain slayer.

I don’t need to be big. I don’t need to be small. I will just be me in the messy place of life where I get hurt and confused and feel stuck. Where I say and do things that I don’t like and where others do the same.

I will be here resting in the arms of the Perfect One.

I don’t have to fix and strive and change, I can live in it, walk through it, and walk out of it.

It is a different posture than before. It is just being. Riding the wave and not letting it drown me.

images

I don’t feel small today. I don’t feel big. I just feel like me. Not perfect. Not disastrously flawed, but just stumbling along trying to make it through.

That is all.

Xo

Lee