In Her Eyes

Ever since I was a little girl, giving gifts has always been my favorite part of Christmas.

And, not to toot my own horn, or rather — ring my own jingle bell —

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But I’m pretty darn good at it.

Let’s just say I’d give the elves a run for their money.

And I’m not talking about some coupon book for free hugs and foot rubs. Nah. That’s amateur. I’m talking about turning a paper grocery bag into a “juke box” as a youngin’ and then giving each member of my family a “record” to play.

And then there was the year during the Michelle Kwan era that I choreographed a *roller* skating masterpiece to My Heart Will Go On, and rolled the rug back and performed it in the foyer. Complete with a Ribbon Dancer and a twirling skirt.

I may not have had cash money to spend as a kid, but damn, could I give a heartfelt gift.


And I’ll let you in on a secret of how the magic happens. How I come up with the perfect gift.

And I promise there’s a point to this.

I find a quiet time, and I just sit and look at a picture of each person I’m giving a gift to. I just look at them. For about 5 minutes or so. Until it just…I don’t know…comes to me.

And well, here it is December 19, and I am just now getting around to shopping.

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So this weekend, I found myself sitting and looking at photos of all the members of my family. And I finally came to my little three year old niece. We’ll call her A.

This kid. I mean, I wish I could put a picture of her on here, because she is the most beautiful little girl you’ve ever seen. White blond hair. Crystal blue eyes. I mean, my brother better stay fit because he’s going to be beating the boys away with sticks when she gets older.

But I digress.

I was sitting, looking at the photo of my niece, and it was this hauntingly beautiful photo where she’s kneeling down in a creek by some rocks, and just looking up at the camera, and her eyes, so wide and innocent, just piercing my heart.

And as I write this, a lump is swelling up in my throat because I miss her so incredibly much, and wish I could be more present in her life…

But I just couldn’t shake those eyes.

The way my little niece looks at me…I’m her Aunt Dooga. (Don’t ask.) I’m the fun aunt that comes around sometimes that makes her laugh and has crazy dance parties and has a weird affinity for butternut squash ice cream.


In her eyes, right now, she sees only good. Only positive things. I am blameless to her.

And then it hit me. One day, when she gets older, I’m going to have to tell her about my history of anorexia. She’s going to look at her parent’s wedding photos and want to know what’s going on with Dooga? Why does she look so scary? Why was her skin so grey? Why didn’t she have any hair?

And that’s when it will happen. When that only-good, positive image she has of me in her sweet little mind is going to come crashing down. And I will disappoint her. Deeply.

Dooga’s not the put together aunt from NYC that is fun and happy and silly. But the girl with the secret past. The broken past. The past that scares her.

And it’s at that moment that I will forever be different in her beautiful blue eyes.

Will she forgive me? Will she ever trust me again?

I’m still looking at her picture. So unknowingly looking up at me. Seeing me. Those eyes that piece to my soul, but don’t really know. Not yet.

And I pray in that moment that she never has to go though what I went through. That she never experience the veiled torture of an eating disorder.

And it got me thinking…if I could tell her one thing, what would it be? Because it seems that I’m a lot better at dishing out advice than taking my own to heart.

And it’s this…

Never forget how greatly loved and treasured you are. If you win scholarships or prizes, or fall short or mess up…you are precious no matter what. And you are worth joy. And love. And peace. The world can be mean – people can say things that hurt, and people may disappoint you – and you may even disappoint yourself – but there is a goodness and beauty in you that cannot be tarnished. Because it is from God. So never forget…you are enough.

There will come a day when I share with her my past. And I trust that God will use that opportunity as a way to exemplify His forgiveness and mercy and glory. And even though I’m giving myself a hernia thinking about how that conversation is going to go, I trust that God will give me the words in that moment.

But that day, is not today. And now, it’s time for bed.

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200 thoughts on “In Her Eyes

      1. I had another thought, Caralyn…

        One of the best things that ever happened to me was two of my high school classmates, guys who were popular and spiritual in school (and are pastors now), revealing their sins to me years later. I was taken aback. “You struggle with the same thing? You feel some days like you don’t have a friend in the world?” Seriously, the thought was confounding. These were the most well-liked, admired, good-looking guys in the class of ’01. Different family circumstances, totally on the other end of the spectrum. And they were dealing with the same stuff I was.

        It didn’t reduce my respect for them. It increased my respect for God’s grace – and my love for myself. To know that I was not alone but that others were having to fight as well, instead of coasting on performance? A wonderful, holy relief. Suddenly, I was no longer alone. Suddenly, I was a candidate for grace.

        Live your life honestly before God and I am sure he will use the same tactic to teach your little A to love herself.

      2. What profound insight. Thank you for this. You’re right- there’s something about sharing vulnerabilities and being open about things with people that really brings you together and takes your relationship to a deep place, both with them and with God. So glad you had hat experience:) so awesome. And thanks for sharing that with me 🙂 xox

  1. Hi Carolyn…when I read your latest post, my heart hurt when I read how you thought that precious little one would be “let down” by the picture of your past. I hope she is not and….maybe…. even that image of you…the one that says we have struggles…we don’t have to be perfect…will actually bring her hope when she faces her own adult challenges…maybe even open a door to have an honest talk with “Dooga” (honestly that is a hilarious name…my youngest son used to call his gramma “Bugga”…we have no idea why) about allowing the King who created us, define our worth. You rock Carolyn! Have a blessed and joyful Christmas!!
    Tom

    1. Hey Tom! Oh thank you so much for this. What a powerful perspective. I hope that she does feel that. Haha yeah, dooga’s a gem of a name. There will be a lot of laughs over that when she’s older! Thanks for stopping by. Merry Christmas! Xox

  2. I’ve had to realise this lately too having just had my first daughter. It’s terrifying to know that one day I’ll have to tell her about my eating disorder and the abuse and neglect that led to it. I can only pray that God’s grace covers both her and I in that moment and she can see that she is so beautiful and treasured and loved in ways that I never knew I was. Thank you for this post!

    1. Hi there, thanks for sharing a bit of your story. Yes, and I know He will. Just remember, she’s known her whole life how much you love and treasure her, and that fact won’t change that:) I think it’ll make her love you all the more. 🙂 glad you stopped by! Hugs and love xox

  3. Just let your niece read this post at that time. Honestly, there’s nothing but beauty in these words. Who could ask for a better gift from someone they love? No one.

  4. Lord!! You got me crying with this post! I literally felt your raw emotions right through this post. Want to know what I think? This little girl will LOVE you so completely that when you do tell her, she will look at you with those huge and innocent eyes and run to you to HUG you. All your fears will be for naught. LOVE makes all things right. And because God truly does LOVE you, He will make sure that the LOVE between the two of you shall remain your whole life through. Much Love and many Blessings!! <3

    1. Hi Amy! Aw you’ve made ME cry with this beautiful comment! Seriously, I’m walking down 5th Avenue right now just bawling like a baby! What a kind note of encouragement. So grateful for this. And so grateful for you. Hugs and love xox

  5. I’d sit with my friend with ED in the forests of Washington. I was working double shifts so I’d hang out on my lunch break. Her fiance was my friend. They were going to get married when she got better. Her ED damaged her heart so we would do quiet stuff like stare into the woods. She could not cross the floor without oxygen. You give your niece the lessons you learned when she needs them.

    1. Hey Kenzie! Wow, what a gift your friendship was to that woman. This just breaks my heart to hear how her life was impacted by ED. so tragic. You’re a good friend. Praise God that she made it through though. Sadly, that is not always the case. But she is here. And her life will speak to those who cross her path. Thanks for stopping by. hope your week is off to a good start. massive hugs xox

      1. I would have hoped she would have done those things. She was on Medicare and a very long list for an operation. I remember her though. As for me, it’s never a dull moment. I always tell myself, “If this is the worst thing that happens today I’m doing pretty good.” haha

      2. I got it! Ok, last one. In this week’s “This American Life,” a researcher mentioned babies as little scientists. Maybe, your niece will also teach you about your past and still think you’re great, after.

      3. It’s a great show I didn’t realize there’s a podcast, haha. I always waited for the radio. What you wrote here seems to follow a theme of your previous posts about the relation between belief and culture. If faith is a house then belief is a door and culture is a view from a window. Our house has an unlimited number of rooms but what appears in the windows will always change.

      4. You can have it. Find me a window. 🙂 Faith gives us reasons to feel special but it is also the reason to not blindly follow. Culture cannot invade us because its outside of our house. Culture leans itself on you asking for much and giving little. While faith grows and asks for nothing. Hope you get better.

  6. Another amazing post, Caralyn. Thank you for continuing to share what’s on your heart. My thought is because of the special bond you share with your niece, she won’t see you in a negative light when you do talk about your struggle in the future. We’re our own worst critics, and in the words of Kevin Malone from The Office, “I’m a textbook over-thinker.” 🙂

    Over the past few months I’ve been getting an amazing revelation on God’s grace, and while I know it’s easier said than done, we can choose to keep thinking about what we’ve struggled with in our past, or walk forward in the grace and the freedom He’s given us. It’s part of our identity and it’s amazing. Yes, I may struggle with realizing that sometimes, but while there may be scars, they don’t define who we are! <- I love that. I hope this encourages you!

    – Joe

    1. Thank you so much 🙂 I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. That’s my prayer. And I do think that when that time comes, it will be filled with grace on all sides of the conversation. 🙂 haha leave it to the office to show us the way! So glad you’ve experienced that of late! God is good! hugs xox

  7. I agree with the previous comments, A will love you more when that talk takes place one day. I appreciate honesty no matter what the outcome is. We all have struggles and you overcame a life-threating one for sure. She can learn from you.
    – Larry

  8. This is so sweet and cute and makes me think of my own little niece. And I have absolutely no doubt Caralyn, your niece has the best Dooga in the world (: and you have the opportunity to speak into her life as she grows up and show her what it looks like to live in Father’s identity (: I mean look at you, the thing is, I’m willing to bet her Dooga is more you than you realize, you can’t fool kids nearly as easily as you can fool yourself, they don’t look at those wrinkles in ourselves we always magnify. I don’t think you’ll have anything to worry about when that day comes.

    But I just have to add, there’s no way your niece is cuter than mine 😉

    Happy Tuesday! (:

    1. Aw, thanks so much Carson. haha, that is a pretty ridiculous name, isn’t it 🙂 hehe That’s my deepest prayer. You’re right, kids see the heart – that’s one of the most refreshing things about kids. haha, I don’t know! i bet it’s pretty close! haha hugs to you xox

      1. I think it’s an awesome name! I myself was Captain Uncle Carson for a while (‘aye-aye Captain Carson!’) but nothing’s stuck yet 😉
        You’re right, the perspective of kids is so special, no wonder Jesus put so much value on being child-like (:
        Heh, as I said to someone else, my niece and nephews are more adorable than anyone else’s ever will be so there. ;D

  9. Your posts are honest, raw, and so full of introspect. Your niece will benefit from you sharing your journey. It is a success story that exemplifiesa God’s mercy and healing power. Remember to love yourself as He does because your niece will not love Dooga any less 💗💜💗.

    1. Aw, thank you so much 🙂 I’m so glad they resonate with you! I hope so. That is my deepest prayer. Because God can and will use broken vessels for His glory. And hopefully that will be a moment where He does just that 🙂 thanks for stopping by! big hugs xox

  10. She will love you even more for your honesty and bravery and she will know that she can talk to you about her problems because you are one adult that will really know what she may be feeling. She will also know because of you that she will be able to overcome any battle and come out stronger and live her life with dignity and have respect for herself because of your example xx

    1. Thank you Sam, for this beautiful encouragement. You’re right, I pray that she’ll receive that information like that. I appreciate your kind words. Glad you stopped by! hugs xox

  11. Absolutely beautiful story/post Caralyn. Or shall I call you Dooga? Haha 😉 such a funny nickname.

    The part in Italic, where you give advice, could really apply to anyone’s life. It’s good advice, sincere and heart-felt. I loved it.

    As for your niece, if she grows up to have a heart which is even 1/10th as good as yours (which is very likely given your description of her), then I’m confident that she’ll be able to make the best out of the situation when/if you decide to tell her your “story”.

    In the meantime, since that day is like miles away, wish you a great Christmas holiday and have fun with the psychic gift giving/creation process. 😉 xo

    1. Hey Psy! haha, yes call me Dooga! Please! 🙂 I know – we’ll have a good laugh about that when she’s older. Thanks so much. Glad it resonated with you 🙂 And awww, what a kind thing to say. She’s a great great kid. Heart of gold. Big hugs to you xox

  12. Kids loves those people who loves them, play with them, eat with them and spends some happy moments with them. For kids it doesn’t matter how that person looks and what problems they are facing. Kids are born with lots of positive energy. That’s why it is said that an smile ☺ of children is natural cure of all stress, worries and negativity. So be happy keep happy your angel 😇 and rest left it to the future. Tc

  13. Oh I wish I could see both of you together the soon.
    You remind me of my niece, Divya. She is so innocent and like you do with her, I was also the Fun Uncle for her. My heart says that everything will go sound with you and A. After all she got that innocent and goodness seeking mind that she will accept is very positively and believe me this Christmas is going to be the best Christmas of both of yours lives. Love you A. 🙂

  14. Reblogged this on Frick Writes: A Mind Body Soul Journey and commented:
    I don’t think there is a single posting this amazing young lady doesn’t move me!
    If I could ever sit and have tea with her I would share with her God really will provide the right time and the openness….and by that time if and when her niece knows….it will all be okay!

    Just recently God pressed it upon my heart to share with my daughter some of my past….my past scattered and broken with sexual abuses…but also mingled with not so great choices because of those abuses…

    I felt unsure of sharing with my daughter! Would it change the amazing relationship we have?!

    You know what….it strengthened it!!!!

    So sweet Beauty Beyond Bones…keep trusting our amazing Lord…he won’t let you down!!!

  15. I think you sell yourself short. Hopefully her image of you will deepen rather than be irrevocably shattered when you’re able and ready to tell her about your past.

  16. Eyes speak a lot, even the eyes of those who can’t see also speak. And you are gonna do good. Get to a water front, close your eyes and reminiscence and there will be your niece with you. My Best.

    1. Thank you so much. Wow, what a beautiful message. You’re right- there’s something powerful by the water. Thank you for sharing your wisdom. It sounds like you have a pretty incredible perspective. Thanks for stopping by. Hugs and love xox

      1. Thank you for your words. I don’t know about my perspective but what I do know is that everything is already there around us and yet we keep on searching. Enjoy your Christmas…

  17. Maybe your past will shock and disappoint her, but maybe it won’t. Maybe she’ll see the person you were and the person you are now and think, “Wow. Aunt Dooga is one amazingly tough chick to make it through all of that and be the happy, crazy dance party aunt that she is now.” She might even think of you as her donkey-kicking warrior aunt. 😀

      1. Not a problem. I’ve had my fair share of what were my fingers thinking? Like, I need to be careful when I type the word Aww. For some reason, my fingers want the ww to be ss. And I don’t even know why. I don’t even use those kind of words.

  18. Matthew 6:34
    34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

    My dear friend, how I continue to appreciate your honesty about life, your life. I believe that the Aunt Dooga your niece has known and loved all her life, is the same Aunt Dooga she will continue to love, and want to be around, have enjoyable times together, and look up to. Your honesty about your life will be a model for her, as will the Grace of God in your life, knowing she can have that same Grace, and give grace to others.
    That time is still a few years down the road, so continue enjoying your dance parties and eating butternut squash ice cream together.
    God Bless you Caralyn. Big hugs,
    George

    1. Hi George! Oh wow thank you for sharing that verse. So powerful. And I am so touched by your kind words. Thank you. And yay for butternut squash ice cream 🙂 haha have a great night xox

  19. Caralyn part of what I do for a living is write, and edit. I’m much better at editing others than I am editing myself. The point of the work, and the height of being a good editor is to help the work of the person to sound more like who they are, rather than the person of the editor. My editor is one of the good ones. It’s beautiful to experience, and be part of.
    Children are the best at showing the truth. The built in edit feature is slowly developing as they experience life. All of it the great joys of dancing with their favorite aunt, the lows of being hurt, the pain of self-loathing, and how we as human beings can be loving, and loathing, hurting, and giving. All in the very same person.
    Her piercing gaze seemed to bring up a sense of shame. More to the point it brought out a moment of your humanity that the Great Editor won’t delete, edit out, or change. The Great Editor will, in his love and mercy, shape the words and life He’s given you into the beauty beyond bones story, meant for the right people to read, in His time.

    Teri

    1. Hi Teri! Thank you so much for this thoughtful reflection. You’re so right-kids are the ultimate “baloney”-detectors. They can sense the truth. They tell the truth. And they show the truth. And wow what a powerful image of God as the Great Editor. So cool. Never thought of it like that before but it’s so true! Pretty cool that your job let you see that! Thanks for stopping by and for your encouragement. Hugs and love xox

  20. Beautiful! The best thing my seminary teacher ever taught me was this: you are worth more than rubies, more than anything–not because of anything you have done or anything you have not done. You are worth that much because that’s what Christ was willing to pay for you. Thank you for the reminder! Merry Christmas!

  21. Every post is like an emotional rollercoaster! But I really wanted to say, I’m sure that the time when you have to tell the child, God will use it show His glory to her. I know what it’s like to have little kids absolutely adore you and I also have no idea how I’m going to tell them what I’ve been through. We can only trust in the Lord for that, trust that He will do what is right and give us the right words and actions. I find Isaiah 41:13 so comforting when I worry about things in life 🙂 Goodnight and have a great week ahead! 😀

    1. Thanks so much tom! That is my deepest prayer-that it be an opportunity to share His mercy and love. You’re right, we can trust that He will give us the words. Love that verse. Thanks for sharing 🙂 Hugs and love xox

  22. Dear BBB the comments tell me you have touched so many as always. But today I want to touch you with something.

    If everything that happens to us is a gift given by one (who holds us in His eyes for longer than five minutes), then your anorexia, your grey skin, your pink skin, your blossoming is a wondrous gift for someone somewhere. And your little perfect A is simply you and me – any of us.

    And your gift may be for her or not – but your gifts are never going to crash her opinion of you (unless you allow). You are you. There is nothing to crash and burn any longer. You have made your past your present – seamlessly. And THAT in my humble opinion is your gift for so many – including A when the time is right.

    Walk without fear always – it leaves more room for love!

    ((hug))

    1. Hey Paul! Oh, thank you so much 🙂 Seriously, what a kind note of encouragement. I am so touched and humbled. thank you. And amen to that — leaving fear behind allows more room for love 🙂 so glad you stopped by. big hugs xox

  23. Your niece is going to love you unreservedly for who you are – and you will be the best role model she could ever hope for. Thanks Carolyn for another inspiring post

    1. Oh my gosh, thank you Robyn. This made me choke up. I’m serious. What a powerful thought. I had never thought of sharing that with her as a gift, but you know what? I think it categorizes as just that. big hugs xox

  24. I see children that way too. They were created in God’s image and have a closer connection to God as they develop I believe. With regards to your past, I believe it won’t matter to her, and as I’ve mentioned before I know the current you I really don’t need to know more than I do now the past you I don’t recognise as you but I will always be proud of how far you come even if I don’t know the full story and the current and most important you is and always Auntie Dooga, and be honest it won’t be her father doing the beating off boys 😂 it will be Auntie Dooga for most of it. And I agree with you Niece Butternut squash ice cream is rather odd 😂 but if it makes you happy then I am happy x. As for Christmas I haven’t started yet because I was too busy looking forward to

    1. Hi Benjamin! So true — I think God really does have a special connection with little ones. Thanks for the encouragement. You’re right, I’ll be the one shooing away the boys! hahaha Seriously though, I really appreciate your kind words. Big big hugs xox

  25. And when she experiences brokenness and failure in her own life, which sadly she inevitably will, she will remember her aunt and how she overcame through the power of Christ, and may find inspiration and strength to do the same.

  26. I often feel my past will disappoint those I love now too. Especially as they grow older and learn about me and the world.

    Yet, I also know that Love (true love) rises above all and as long as you have been a loving and positive influence in your loved one’s life, they will learn to forgive your past and look to the person you have been for them and love you even more for who you are Today and not before!

    1. Hi There friend, thanks for this encouragement. You’re right – I have faith that she will love and embrace me, knowing where I “came from” too. glad you stopped by! hugs xox

  27. She will understand. She will listen, cry and love you because you are sharing with her. What are you getting her? I mean that Michelle Kwan routine must have been amazing!

  28. I read your posts and love them but don’t comment often. However, I love seeing life through your eyes. I have one adult kid and one on the edge of adult and a 9 yr old. As they grow and we become more friends I love conversations with them that give me their view of the world – much like your blog. I love it because a lot of people in my world like to down “millennial’s” and I see your generation as so much more, (you may be older than I think but you are of the same fresh outlook I love from my own millennial’s) I believe your generation will be an awesome force for good in this world and you are already on it! 🙂

    Anyway – I know others have said this but I believe when the time comes for you to tell your sweet niece about your past, it will be the exact right moment for her and she will love you all the more for it. Maybe it will be when she reaches adolescence and is insecure about her own appearance and needs your insight to keep her off the slippery path most young girls face. Or maybe it will be the challenging teen years and someone makes her think she needs to alter her looks to be accepted. Whenever it is, she will hear you and be so grateful her Aunt Dooga was there to help her through that murky swamp.

    God bless and keep shining!

    1. Oh my gosh, thank you so much for this beautiful note. I am seriously so touched and encouraged. I hadn’t thought of that yet, but you’re right — it could be a great way to reach her one day, if God forbid, she is going through some insecurities or facing bullies or whatever. That’s so true. It could be an way to feel not alone. Thanks for that perspective. So glad you enjoy my posts! thanks for reading, and have a beautiful christmas! hugs xox

  29. I think this is my favorite of your posts yet! You’re so open and real with your thoughts and feelings. Incredible and beautiful! Really quite captivating!

    “I find a quiet time, and I just sit and look at a picture of each person I’m giving a gift to. I just look at them. For about 5 minutes or so. Until it just…I don’t know…comes to me.”

    When I read this it made me go wow, this girl is deep, with a beautiful heart!

    With the one thing you would say to her being a message full of love, acceptance, hope and encouragement. You don’t need to worry at all about when she finds out about this chapter of your life. Or when she gets to know you a little bit better.

    It’s you.

    It’s part of your beauty, outwardly and inwardly, and your love.

    Maybe, if it works out as planned ,with perfect timing, not like life. You can read this to yourself before you talk to her about how you and God beat anorexia.

    Read it as a reminder of how God loves and sees you. 🙂

    Never forget how greatly loved and treasured you are. If you win scholarships or prizes, or fall short or mess up…you are precious no matter what. And you are worth joy. And love. And peace. The world can be mean – people can say things that hurt, and people may disappoint you – and you may even disappoint yourself – but there is a goodness and beauty in you that cannot be tarnished. Because it is from God. So never forget…you are enough.

    You seem real and I know she is going to really love you and appreciate you for that!

    Thanks for writing and sharing!

    1. Oh my gosh, Joshua, thank you so much for this beautiful note of encouragement. seriously, I am so touched. I pray for that too – that it can be an opportunity to showcase God’s mercy and love and forgives and grace 🙂 Thanks for the kindness. you rock, my friend. hugs xox

  30. That is beautiful advice for anyone.
    My daughter recently turned 13 and the surrounding culture based on outward appearance is very pervasive. She has yet to notice it too much, but I am wise enough to know that doesn’t last.
    And while I don’t think there is anything wrong with wanting to feel beautiful on the outside, we should make sure we spend as much time on the inside 🙂 That’s the beauty that always shines through.

    1. Thank you so much! Aw, happy belated to your daughter! You’re right, it’s hard to be a kid growing up in today’s world. Amen to that! the beauty on the inside is what makes the outside shine 🙂 hugs to you xox

  31. Caralyn,
    I just love your openness, compassion, passion, and love of life and of others.
    In my life, I have thought about my kids and others finding out things from my past. Will they look differently at me? Do I keep hiding behind walls and masks to protect them? To protect myself? To protect the way I think that they may admire me right now?
    Your posts always effect me but this one I really connected to.
    Thank you again Caralyn.
    God bless you and Merry Christmas.

    1. Hi Jenn, thank you so much for this kind note of encouragement. I’m so glad that this struck a chord with you personally. I think you’re right, kids have a way of loving the person in front of them no matter their past. no matter what. It’s one of the most beautiful things about children. So glad you stopped by. Have a very merry Christmas!

  32. That’s a wonderful way to think of gifts, and reflect on what each person means to you. I’m absolutely going to use that in the future! You also write very well, I’m looking forward to reading this blog for a while. Thank you for your words.

    You’ve made me think on how others see the past as well. Your niece may be disappointed or sad when she learns of your battle with anorexia, for a few seconds… but she’ll quickly remember how you’ve made her feel, and thereby see what Christ has changed in your life. That encourages me to not get bogged down in my own (forgiven!) faults, and just let others see Christ now. Thank you!

    1. Thanks Colin:) aw I’m so glad you enjoyed this piece! Amen to that – there is that goodness in everyone. And no matter what our past, nothing can change that inherent goodness. Glad you stopped by. Hugs and love xox

  33. You’re right, the essence of all this is love. When you love someone like your niece loves you and they hear from you of tragedy or lose or brokenness on your life, they’ll hurt for you and love you none the less. That’s relationship. That’s love. That’s the way God loves us. Good post. Thanks for sharing.

  34. Honestly, having gone through that struggle, recovered, and then being a shining example of redemption shouldnt be something that crushes her image of you. If anything, it should teach her that mistakes are normal and they dont define who you are. What defines you is what you do with those mistakes. You are gloriously victorious through Christ and by God’s grace, your niece will see that and become a better woman for it.

    1. Haha oh gosh, long story. Basically she associates me with Frogs because of a role I played that had to do with frogs. Saying “Caralyn” is tough – “frog” is easier. But still not the easiest – •F• is a tough sound, so frog = Doog. Which then became Dooga, which then stuck. I still don’t think that completely makes sense but that’s how it began:) kids 🙂

  35. Thank you for sharing your stories and allowing your blogs &each story to be a constant reminder of God’s sovereignty. The words and humor in the blogs I read bring me joy:)

  36. Beautiful post. I love your heart for your niece. I can’t wait for you to experience that overwhelming acceptance that comes when I child hears your story and still thinks you are every bit as awesome & someday, the uninhibited forgiveness that comes for ones who are innocent. And I have a feeling your are just that cool. We have so much to learn from children, so much to return to.

  37. I think your little niece will understand when the time comes. I had a lot of inner turmoil as a kid so I don’t expect kids to be judgy…I think that’s something I worry more about when it comes to adults (even though I shouldn’t worry at all). This post was so sweet. I think I found a kindred spirit in you. I thought that I was the only one who poured my heart into gift giving…you’ve got me beat :). I love the idea of meditating on the photos and really thinking about the person you’re gifting too. so sweet <3 I hope you come up with some lovely ideas this year.

    1. Thanks Brie! You’re right, kids have a way of forgiving and choosing to only see the good. It’s such a beautiful characteristic. Thanks for the encouragement! Hugs and love xox

  38. Well, that brought moisture to my eyes. I”m unfortunately at the point where all I can relate to is the sense of disappointment. Of not being good enough. Of not being worth looking at the same way again.
    I hope you get the opportunity to share with her that she is always loved in God’s eyes, and in yours.

    May you have a wonderful merry Christmas and a happy new year!

    1. Thanks Jeff. I’m glad it hit home with you. I can definitely relate to that feeling. But then I just have to remember that Jesus said I was enough. He proclaimed that through His actions on the cross and nothing I do or don’t do will effect that. Have a merry merry Christmas my friend! Hugs and love xox

  39. I look forward to hearing the gifts you come up with this year …

    As for your niece, don’t underestimate the amount of compassion a child has … I doubt she will be disappointed. She might want to comfort you more than feel that you have let her down in any way. It is the past, let it continue to shape you into a beautiful person and let it be the only purpose that it happened.

    Have a Merry Christmas with all who love you… 🙂

  40. I love the sincerity you place into choosing your gifts for loved ones. I’ve not started shopping yet myself and is the 21st! Not to worry though, some of the best gifts are the spontaneous ones, the ones God just drops into your heart that are so perfect. Blessings to you this Christmas. Additionally, I’ve found the areas in which I’ve struggled to be the ones from which I minister to others in like situations. God will redeem your experience for his glory as you share your story and point others to him.

  41. Thank you for visiting my blog! I absolutely love the way you write. I too, have struggled with anorexia in my teenage years and as an adult I struggle with negative self-image. On a positive note I really love the way you would come up with meaningful gifts for your loved ones. I am on disability and don’t have much left after living expenses. This post has really spoken to me in a way that made me realize that I can make more meaningful gifts from the heart! I will definitely be whipping out the photo album tonight! Thank you!

    1. Hi there friend! I’m sorry to hear that we have that in our pasts that connect us, but I’m so glad to know we’re on the journey of recovery together! Know that im cheering you on! Have fun with the gift planning! Big hugs xox

  42. Well, I believe you’re going to get the right words to say to her flowing right out of your mouth when the time comes😄 and she’s going to see you for the beautiful and great person you’ve emerged and transformed into, and not your past.

    She’s got you for an aunt Caralyn 😄, so, let’s say she’ll grow up with the same abilities to see the good in people while focusing on the present and the future, not the past.

    By the way, left you a message in your mail. Do check it out…
    – Kizo Daniels

  43. Your niece will still see you as this Amazing aunts who overcome everything. Through your eyes she will learn about strength, not giving up. She will
    Learn what forgiveness is through you and the LOVE of God ❤.

  44. She will never judge you for that I am sure. Don’t make situations where there are none. Fretting your valuable life away predicting your future and assuming something like that is not where you need to be. You need to now, for today, for the time that you have. Tomorrow is not a promise and failing yourself in the now is cheating God and yourself!! Look no further than past your nose and cherish what you have, not what you think you’re going to lose. Sorry, I’ll get off my soapbox now lol.

  45. I read this and it reminds me of my dad and his horrendous scar just below his collarbone. One day he told us he got it from a car accident while drunk driving. He’s lucky he didn’t get himself killed. He did have a drinking problem and he has long since overcome it but like you he was afraid to tell us that story. He was afraid to be seen as less than or worse, lead us down the same path. I’m glad he shared that story with us. I’m glad I’ve seen the scar. Any time I’ve ever had a drink since, someone else gets my keys before my first sip. I learned a long time ago to watch and stick to my limits too. Now it’s only one drink thanks to my meds, but that’s my limit. Just one and I’m ready for sleep. lol Good enough for me. The point is I don’t think you will lose anything but I think your niece will gain a wealth of wisdom that she will not have to walk through hellfire on her own to earn. That is a profound gift to give her so don’t let doubt or shame tell you otherwise. <3

    1. Wow thank you so much for sharing this with me. What a powerful testimony. You’re right- looking at it with that perspective, I really can use it as a learning and growing opportunity for her. So glad you stopped by. Big hugs xox

  46. The beauty of kids is that they really have a pure kind of love! Your little niece will look at those pictures and see an aunt dooga who has faced adversity and is overcoming it! She will see a strong Aunty who we be an example that with Christ all things are possible and even the darkest of tunnels have light at the end of them! You are the perfect example of grace! Many blessings to you my friend!

  47. Being an Aunt (or Uncle) is great. We can sometimes give life lessons that children will not hear from parents. The point is not that we have been perfect in our niece’s or nephew’s eye, but that we have continued on with life with our errors and imperfections.
    Oscar
    P.S. my Christmas stocking at work had at least a dozen lumps of (chocolate) coal. I think the elves really like me.

  48. Seeing who you were will not change who you are. You may have been in that struggle in those pictures then, but that doesn’t erase who you’ve been to her. That’s who she knows. Your past can’t undo that in her heart. I also want to say something I hope you know today. You are a stunner. You are incredibly beautiful. Really. Seriously. You may have looked one way in those wedding pictures, but it will be impossible for A’s eyes not to see that beauty that is present that you fought for beyond physical beauty.

    1. Thanks Tory. What a kind thing to say. I really appreciate the encouragement. You’re right, kids can be quick to forgive and accept the person in front of them. How refreshing. wow, i am so touched by your kind words. Have a beautiful afternoon! and happy holidays! xox

  49. I really like your Christmas present ideas! Thank you for explaining how you come up with them-I’ve been trying to choose my presents really carefully this year and make sure that it fits the person that I am giving it to.
    I know what you mean about your niece-I feel the same way when I see my little sister growing up. I never want her to know about the times when I messed up or went through difficult things or even just didn’t conform to society’s expectations. But I guess everyone has to learn what the world is really like one day-the good parts and the bad.

    1. Thanks Lilly! You’re so right. And I think the great thing about kids too is that they are quick to forgive and tend to only see the person in front of them. Thanks for stopping by! Merry Christmas! Hugs and love xox

  50. The good thing about being an aunt is they will sometimes listen to you when they don’t want to listen to their parents. As well as fun to dispense you will also have some wisdom to impart when the time is right.

  51. So, a couple of days ago I mentioned that at Christmas Eve, my goddaughter wanted me to hold her all through mass. She just turned 2 in September. Her dad likes to tell her about the time that Auntie Laura lived with her when she was a baby, and how special that time was, but what he doesn’t tell her is that the reason I was living with them was because I was in treatment for my eating disorder. For her 3rd and 4th month of life, I lived in the guest bedroom upstairs. It happened to be late November through January – I spent all the holidays there. In the day, I was in partial hospitalization, and the rest of the time, I got to be part of this amazing family. I sometimes wonder how she will discover all of this history. Will I tell her? Will her parents? How will that conversation go? But, I don’t dread that day. I am actually looking forward to her knowing about my broken past. Maybe, when she knows that I am not perfect, that I am crazy and messed up and went through some really bad stuff, it will bring us closer. That is what I hope, at least. I hope that she will be able to come to me when she feels insecure, or afraid, or invalidated, or uncertain, or alone. I hope that she will know that I’ve been there, and that I will listen, and that I will always love her, no matter what. It sounds like you have a great relationship with your niece. I am imagining a future like this for you both, too.

    1. Wow, thank you so much for sharing this, Lulu. It sounds like you really have a special relationship with your niece. that’s so wonderful. And you know what? I think you’re right — I think that she will love you all the more when the conversation happens. And i think that it will give her an even great love and admiration for you 🙂 thanks for all your sweet words tonight. big hugs xox

      1. Thank you so much, my friend! I hope that your relationship with your niece will be deepened and strengthened as she comes to know you more and more authentically. I was thinking about what St Paul wrote when he talked about praying for the thorn to be removed from his side and receiving the reply from the Lord, “My grace is sufficient for you.” I often meditate on just those words, but tonight, I was thinking about the rest of that passage. “Therefore, that I might not become too elated, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times, I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor 12:7-10). Just from reading your blog, I can see how much strength you draw from what you have been through, and God is working great things in you. In our weakness and brokenness, He manifests the fullness of His strength. I can definitely see His light shining in your life, and I pray that your niece and everyone you love will see that, too. ❤ Hugs back!

  52. This post about brought me to tears. I hope one day once she gets old enough that you gift this post to her in some way. Beautifully written and so heartfelt.

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