Diana and Jenna Wood


By Christmas of 2010, Diana had to spoon feed her emaciated 12-year-old daughter.  Jenna’s anorexia began as a slow, gradual decline.  Hardly noticeable at first, she seemed so active and busy with friends and school.  She often wouldn’t eat when she came home and told her mom that she had already eaten.  The fact was that Jenna was eating hardly at all, and preferred to escape tensions at home by spending time at a friend’s house.   

When her vivacious daughter’s mind began to lose focus, her movements slowed and her voice spoke in monotone, her thin frame sallow and frail, Diana took her to doctors looking for help.  She was hurt by accusations that she wasn’t feeding her child, admonished by doctors and others to just “make her eat.” But Jenna couldn’t swallow.  A deep sadness had so overcome her that her young body was shutting down. 

 

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February 2011, Jenna’s admittance into the hospital came when she was days away from death. Diana had to beg Jenna to sign an agreement to eat and drink what the hospital provided, and if she refused, she would be force-fed by a feeding tube.  If Jenna didn’t sign, she would not be admitted.  She was resisting despite her mother’s pleas, but finally gave in. Though she was uncertain whether she wanted to live or die, Jenna knew that she did not want to have a tube put down her throat, so she decided to cooperate right away. The staff at the hospital gave Jenna encouragement, so that even when she was hit with a stomach virus, she forced herself to eat through it.  While enduring intense stomach cramps, she cried out that she didn’t want to die.  That was a turning point when Jenna decided that she wanted to live. 

“I felt like Jenna’s life was slipping away as time passed. No one seemed to have an answer. I’d try to motivate Jenna to fight, to try harder to eat and get healthy.  ‘Jenna, you’re going to die,’ I’d say.  ‘I want to die,’ she’d reply.”

 

Jenna wasn’t trying to be rebellious or defiant, she had just given up.  “Food was the one thing in my life I could control,” says Jenna. “My family and my future seemed so uncertain, and refusing food made me feel like I had some sort of control even if it killed me. At that time, even though I knew it didn’t really make sense, my perfectionistic mindset along with pressures from an image-conscious world, had me convinced it was what I needed to do.”

 

Diana was praying, asking God for help, wanting to confide in someone who could give her the spiritual strength she needed.  Both she and Jenna were being tormented with fears, and Jenna was experiencing nightmares.  The only comfort came from friends who just said, “We’re praying for you.”  People around them seemed at a loss for words.

 

Diana discovered that Texas Children’s Hospital had a program for those suffering with eating disorders, but she would need a doctor’s referral for Jenna to be seen by a specialist there.  Once again, Diana faced judgment from a doctor, but got her referral.  There were many obstacles to getting Jenna admitted, from the red tape and paperwork to an ice storm that caused delays. With each day, Jenna’s heartbeat was slowing.  She had dropped to 68 lbs.  She looked like a skeleton. Her hair and nails fell off, she had pale, purple circles under her eyes, a sunken face and was constantly cold.

Jenna spent her 13th birthday

in the hospital.

Jenna's last meal before going home.

Diana said, “That was when I began to pray even more earnestly than before and believe that God was hearing me.  I had been at the end of

my rope.  It seemed as though I had no one to lean on, with no extended family in Texas. I felt that I was really alone.  But I found that God was there for me, and my faith had really grown.  I was learning how to be bold, how to trust against all hope, and I didn’t realize at the time how much more God was going to change us both.”

 

In April, a few days after her 13th birthday, Jenna was discharged, just at the low end of the scale of healthy weight for her age and height.  There was still much more to work on.  Jenna still struggled to eat and swallow.  She dealt with “food fears” by putting limits on her food choices, and it took her a long time to finish a meal.  Diana was determined to delve more into the Bible, to seek God and to find healing.  Jenna’s interest in her artwork began to flourish, and she had a new desire to know God like never before.   

 

“I just wanted us to be normal,” said Diana. “To be able to go out to eat as a typical family, to grab some food on the go, and not have to plan out trips with specially prepared food in a cooler just for Jenna, who still took 2 hours to eat dinner.  I wanted to see her enjoy eating the way she used to when she was younger – healthy meals, but also pizza and cake once in-awhile.  Jenna was better, but she wasn’t yet healed.  We had both made progress, but we had come up against a wall and I felt sapped of all my energy.”

 

Last November a flyer from the Succeed in Life Center came in the mail about changing your life in 40 Days.  Diana knew this was the answer they had prayed for.  Both she and Jenna registered and came.  What they discovered was a new way to approach their problems, a new way to see God, to deal with negativity and oppression and most of all, how to fight.  It was all based on truths she had known from the Bible, but had never seen them put into practice in such a real and useable manner.  From that day on, Diana and Jenna have faithfully dedicated their lives to changing by practicing these principles.

Turning point on Jenna’s recovery, summer 2012.

August 2013, nature lover.

Today Jenna is a healthy, happy and active 15-year-old. Unlike many young girls who suffer repeated bouts of anorexia, the cycle has ended for Jenna.  She enjoys Mediterranean foods, pizza, pasta, burritos and ice cream, as well as art, swimming, long walks, homecoming dances, and spending time with friends and family - but more than that, she loves the life of authority over evil that God has given her.

 

“Now even if others around me are negative, I have such a strong faith inside of me that negativity doesn’t affect my thinking any more. God healed me when I was in a really dark place in my life.  He taught me how to fight back, and not to just accept problems.  I’m not passive anymore – I’m finally a warrior, all because of Him!”

Jenna looking forward to her future.

Enjoying pizza, September 2013

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