Struggle of Proverbs 31

I’m a pinner… Sometimes, it can be a problem.

During a recent pinning session, I came across a pin that outlines the “10 virtues of the Proverbs 31 Woman” and the second virtue:

“Marriage”

Now, yes, in proverbs 31, she is married;
but my heart grew angry.
         So, marriage is my only option to be virtuous? No, it’s not!

I’ve written on the Proverbs 31 Woman before. I’ve also written in the context of waiting for that partner, becoming that woman in the waiting.

Yet, this is the idea: in order to be a good Christian woman, we have to be married. We each have that pressure around us at all times.

I have two sisters younger than me, and both seem closer to the alter than I am (& one of them is still in high school)…

So, now, we single women (especially as we get older), are left to feel convicted.
I’m somehow not living up to potential, because there hasn’t been anyone in my life who can be that Godly leader in my life & home, who have been ready for a relationship or commitment.

Does that really mean I can’t be the virtuous woman?
Absolutely not…

As a matter of fact, it conflicts with what Paul says about the gift of a life of singleness:

“Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried as I do. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.” – 1 Corinthians 7:8-9

So, as a single woman, striving to live out God’s plan, what do I do?
Which verse do I follow?
Do I patiently remain single; or seek to marry, so that I can be virtuous?

Yes. Both.

I get to decide to serve God where I am, with what I have.

And, I pray.
I pray for myself in the waiting. And, I pray for whoever God may bring into my life.
I pray for wisdom & strength in the temptation about my passions & desires. And, I pray that I would be of use in the time of waiting.

In the waiting, I become that virtuous woman. (Which, by the way, means “force” “valiant” & “valor”). I can bring good to those I love and those who love me. I develop my work ethic & my service for the Kingdom. I can strengthen myself, and in Christ be bold & powerful.

In Christ, my character develops, and from there my beauty comes through.

And, in this way, I bring good to my husband, even before I meet him.

Thus, I am that virtuous woman…
Even if I am single for another 5 years…
Even if this man comes into my life near the end…
Even if God never brings a husband into my life…
Even if I am called to a life of single service…

So, lets stop shaming the single woman, making her feel as if she must have a man to serve God; instead teaching and encouraging one another to be that virtuous woman even before he comes along. (How much better would that make our marriage when/if God does bless us that way?)

So, my friends, single or married: Go forth & Be a virtuous force!


With this week’s Five Minute Friday

#WorkitWednesday – Defining Moment

I know it’s the wee hours of Thursday morning, I just didn’t have the chance to write this on yesterday. I was hoping to be able to combine it with the theme of Tuesday @ 10, and I think it works well:

Defining Moment

See, I’ve recently been really ill.

(Aside from getting over a nasty cold) for about the past month, I have been pretty sure my body was falling apart – somedays, I was almost certain death was immanent…

Ok, so it wasn’t quite so drastic, but some drastic things were happening in my body, including pain so bad in my mouth (think: razor blades & fire) I could barely eat. That among other symptoms led to me dropping weight – drastically.

[I’d like to point out here, as miserable as it made me, I did force myself to eat whenever I possibly could].

During this illness, I did what any respectable American with Google would do: I took to the interwebs!

I was pretty sure I found my answer – Candida, yeast. It was a problem before in my life, and looked like it was posing even greater problems now. (For those that don’t know, this is a case where bad bacteria outgrow the good bacteria in your digestive tract. Overgrowth can lead to all sorts of issues – cue my body falling apart from head to toe).

(In case you’re wondering, it is as gross as it all sounds – especially the mouth stuff).

Fear not, dear friends, I did go to the doctor & his verdict was similar:

bad bacteria
&
stress

The scariest part for me is that in the course of 3 weeks I’ve lost almost 10 pounds, and the first 4 lbs of that happened in the span of 5 days.

Now, while this means I have decimated my first two mini goals (minus the date…), it also means my body is losing too quickly, and with it, many important nutrients.

This isn’t the first time I have seen the effect of yeast in my life, but this time, it’s serious to me. It’s an issue that has been exacerbated by other illnesses in my life, and it plays into certain illnesses I get now.

Combating this, getting it and keeping it under control, is going to take some serious lifestyle restructuring.

So, I’m doing it.

Slowly

But, I’m doing it.

I have other big, stressful changes coming up – a move & job hunt halfway across the country – so I know this one will move slowly.

This isn’t an overnight problem with an overnight solution, but I am ready to make these changes. To become the healthiest me I can be. (changes I undoubtedly should have made long ago…)

So, this illness, if nothing else, has jumpstarted the next phase of my life; and inadvertently, the next phase of my weight-loss experience.

Now, I have the motivation to finally keep it up:

I don’t want to be miserable &
I don’t want to die…

#ProHealth


 Keep a look out for further posts on my cross country move, my transition to a more natural, healthy lifestyle, and how I’ve managed to keep it up all at once. After all:
Life is about the journey, not the destination.

I am #ProHealth

A broken mind cannot produce a healthy body…and likely will destroy it…

Give…

That’s what this week’s Tuesday @ 10 prompt is over at Finding the Grace Within.

Mine will be quite a bit different, different than what I’m used to posting & different from what many are expecting to read when they see the prompt.

In 2015, I will give support; I will give inspiration; I will give encouragement. I.Will.Give.Hope.

A broken mind cannot produce a healthy body… and likely will destroy it.

Whether those of us who eat too much (& likely move too little…), or those who eat nothing at all; a need to be beautiful, loved, & accepted drives us to the darkness. Ana & Mia (or a false “body positive” attitude) whispers in our ears. And, it truly is but a whisper  – at first. Some of us refuse, defying their directive by shoveling food in. Still others give in, each day, as the whispers become louder, until Ana or Mia (or both) have taken over – completely.

And then, we feel not ourselves. But rather:
AM Ana
I AM Mia
I AM Fat

There is no longer a distinction – only the identity. 

But we are broken. Not in body, at least not at first. 
We are broken in mind. 

And, a broken mind cannot produce a healthy body…

       ——————————————————————————————————————-

I know I need to lose weight. I may be healthy now, but if I continue to keep carrying close to 200 lbs on my 5’5″ frame, I won’t be healthy long.

I refuse to give in to the whispers Ana or Mia sends my way. I refuse to even acknowledge the temptation to do this any other way than the healthy way. I will not limit my intake to an unhealthy intake simply for the sake of a better looking figure, an unattainable figure, an unhealthy figure.

On the flip side, I refuse to give into the “fat acceptance” movement. I refuse to lean on the excuses of heredity & metabolism. I refuse even the strong temptation to simply “love myself at any size”, because, honestly, I do love myself. But, I also cannot be blind to the fact that “at any size” would one day become a truly unhealthy size, because if we are honest, not all sizes are healthy – on either end of the spectrum.

I refuse to allow my mind to be hijacked by any trend or lie. I refuse to allow it to be tricked in the midst of my refusal to continue to hide behind my body fat.

Most of all: I will rely on Christ to keep my mind & body strong.

And, I will always be #prohealth #prorecovery #antiana #antimia #bodypositive #faster #smaller #stronger #fitspo #notthynspo #healthier #profitness #antibrokenness #prowholeness

In 2015, I will use my story to inspire those, on either side, who want to find a way back to the healthy spot… and I will always remind them it starts at the cross.

His scars cover mine.

You see, one of my goals in the Psych field is to research, shed light on, and treat adolescents with Eating Disorders (both over & under). Also, focusing on the big role Social Media plays today in promoting not only these Disorders, but many others, as well as other extra-societal rituals & practices among teens. These would include today’s #Ana, #Mia, & #Recovery communities, as well as the other side of the coin #bodypositive & #fatacceptance.

All of these young people need love, support, & prayer in the positive direction, the healthy direction; not in favor of their eating disorder.

I’d also like to be in a place of educating & alerting parents, loved ones, & educators on what they may be blind to, may be unaware of, or may be overwhelmed by.

I’ve shared the struggle these kids feel. I have an actual weight problem that has come from too much of the wrong stuff & too little of the right stuff. I have hated myself, hated my body, and hid the scars. I have battled the demons & heard the whispers.

But, my mind says, “you can change this – in a balanced, healthy way.” My confidence is high, where their’s is not. My mind is strong enough, my family supportive enough.

I know immediately that Ana is a fool, and Mia is a liar. I know immediately, also, that “at any size” will one day kill me, if I let it.

So, starting with my story, before I even get my degree, I will begin to give help to those who can’t seem to know this, or who won’t accept it, or who already find themselves slaves to Ana & Mia. Because,

A broken mind cannot produce a healthy body, and likely will destroy it…


If you have questions regarding these hashtags, or eating disorders, or if you have a story to share, feel free to let me know. You can reach me in the comment section or by email at candice@angelinkilluminations.com
We can make a difference if we are willing to stop hiding and start conversing.

 

Proverbs 31- Enoughness.

So, we appear to be in a time in my life where this whole blogging thing is occasional at best… Between grad school, practicum, work, friendships, family, church, and a budding relationship, I haven’t really had time for the other things that keep me – uh, me?

I get so tired from everything that I find myself vegging out in front of my television rather than doing something that actually keeps me centered and brings me peace.

And, it’s begun to take a toll on my well-being.

I have recently been feeling extremely inadequate and insecure, feeling overwhelmed by the idea that I simply am just not enough. Not only that, but that I am not even capable of being enough… And this has been a big struggle through out my life, this

not enoughness.

It began with my job. Little thoughts:

I’m not good at this. I am so slow. Why do they keep me here? I never get enough hours, and that’s probably partially because I am not good at it…

An on and on.
Because I wasn’t keeping guard over my thoughts, the enemy used this as an opening. Speaking things aloud, he realized my life-long weakness was being revealed in an area that had as recently been untouched. So, he used that – he stepped in and began pulling the string.

From work, it went to school, from school to my practicum, from practicum to family relationships, from there to finances… Eventually, I was even feeling these insecurities creep into my new relationship.

Obviously, it’s a pattern in my life. God and I have been working on it for years. I have many blog posts about it, including two of my favorites (Letter to MeSpeak). 

But, I didn’t seek refuge from them, I let them take over, believing once again the lies I have heard since childhood:

You are not enough…

Then, last week, as I was at one of my worst days, I came to the end of my reading of Proverbs. Proverbs 31. Do you know it? It’s the chapter that describes the perfect woman… I mean, that’s what I always get out of it. An ideal that I can’t possibly live up to in my entire lifetime, here as an example of how God wants me to be (not to mention, what my future husband probably expects from me…) A vivid magnification of my not enoghness right in Scripture.

So, I began to break down this woman, looking into the meaning behind some of the words.

She is “noble” in the NIV or “virtuous” in the KJV. In their essence? She is valiant & strong. A warrior. This word is actually masculine and used to describe  a worthy force.

She has a high “price” – her value is beyond anything. Her husband has full confidence in her at the core of his being. Because she is in his life, he knows he lacks nothing. (interestingly, the word for lacking nothing of value literally means “spoil” or “booty”…so, basically, she’s a pirate :))

She literally does no harm to him in any time in her life: she never does anything that is evil or malicious, only what is beautiful or best or in fair favor. All.The.Days.Of.Her.Life… (I’m not sure if he’s in my life yet, and I’m sure I’ve already failed here…)

Then, she works…She cooks, she cleans, she takes care of the home & needs, she has a business, she makes sure her family runs smoothly. She gives to the needy and makes sure those around her are prepared for winter. But, the words used tell me she doesn’t just work: she is active in her work & it brings her pleasure.

This woman is confident; she knows what she wants, she makes it happen, & it brings her pleasure. This brings her husband confidence and makes others take note. She is a worthy force (no wonder she’s a rare find).

But, you know what I have missed all these years? Verse 17.

“She girds herself with strength, and strengthens her arms.” (NKJV)

It seems at first glance that she is just doing more work, but when I looked into the meaning, I found it this verse tells us something important. The key to why she can do everything else: The Proverbs 31 Woman takes care of herself, body & soul.

That’s the key to my enoughness.

By letting the thoughts take control & infiltrate every part of my life. By not taking the time to do what refreshes me mind, body, and soul. By letting the insecurities spread. By not turning to Christ in my weakness. By not taking care of my body.

I cannot become what I want to be if I am not attending to myself. I cannot take care of those around me if I do not take care of myself. I cannot pour into others if I am empty.

And, the answer was right there, in the chapter that brought me so much distress a week ago. I find my hope, my relief, and my inspiration.

I am already enough, because I was Crafted by God’s hand in His image for His purpose (Gen 1:27, Psalm 139, Eph 2:10).

In this chapter, I find the key is not to become enough, but to finally step into the enoughness that I already am.

Paint & Healing

It’s friday… As a matter of fact, it’s really only Friday for another 15 minutes. Today has been a long day, one that began hours before I am used to (who knew there was a 5:45 in the A.M.?)

Friday’s mean Five Minute Friday.  I got the prompt last night before bed & had it in my mind all day through.

Being at work so early meant I got off work early. Getting off work so early, though, gave me the opportunity to plan something for Friday night. What was intended to be a shopping trip, turned into an opportunity to experience God & witness Him working in a powerful way.

During the worship time at this event, I wrote my piece for Five Minute Friday.
This week’s theme is  PAINT:

Broken Pieces…
That’s all I feel I am these days.
Allowing secret sins to take over my life
Adding to anxiety and depression.
They Have taken up residence in my spirit
Separating me from my life-force.
Shattering my very existence.
Fragmented…
Broken…
Near Death.
I gasp for breath.
I cry out in desperation.
No air.
God, fill my lungs
Wash my heart.
Restore my broken pieces
Exert your healing power in my soul.
Redeem my shattered life.
Bring Your name Glory
From the new picture that 
You paint of my mess.

STOP

Now, let me tell you about how a shopping trip turned into such a wonderful time in God’s house…

I recently reconnected with a college friend, and he invited me to a healing conference at his church. In light of my Barns & Noble experience, I knew I could not turn down the opportunity be in God’s presence.

However, saying yes is always easier said than done. You think, “yes, a night in God’s presence with His people. Sounds great. And, the possibility of seeing an old friend, just makes it even better.”

But, going there, was not as easy.

There is still a war going on. You’re not wanted there. The whispers start. You won’t get anything out of it. The selfishness begins. You don’t deserve to be there. You’re still in the “wrong” place. The condemnation takes over.

YOU’RE ALL ALONE! The anxiety screams.

When I left work after an 8 hour shift, my entire body ached and a migraine was beginning to form. I was tired, and then suddenly overwhelmed by the realization that I would be going into this unknown situation ALONE.

Because the shopping center & the conference were both so far from my house, I almost turned around several times, nearly foregoing the event & even the shopping that had been my original draw (and my shopping was successful, if I do say so myself :).

But, that church was exactly where I needed to be tonight.

A song played during worship reminded me that I wasn’t there alone at all. That God was listening to me. Yes, me. Though the room had hundreds of people in it, He heard my heart.

As a matter of fact, I was feeling so disengaged & somewhat anxious, I was contemplating leaving, when the band began the song “Oceans” (by Hillsong).

Lately, this has become one of those songs that God uses to remind me that He is with me; it’s a song that helps me feel wrapped in His love & covered in His grace. It’s currently “Our Song”, if you will.

And, it was during this song that something happened: peace filled me. My body no longer ached. The anxiety fled, and I was able to engage.

They had an artist on stage who was allowing God to use her gift to create a painting, an art piece of worship to Him while the worship portion of the evening was happening.

And, it was during this time that I got my piece for Five Minute Friday (above).

After worship, the service was focused on healing. It’s always an incredible thing to see people healed. To feel God’s presence. To experience Him moving.

To allow God to heal me, even through the resistance of the flesh & the enemy.

To know that the reason the enemy keeps attacking is because I keep getting up & won’t stay down.

To know that His Kingdom is still strong on this earth, even though we often allow ourselves to get detached or apathetic about it, in light of the pressures of this world.

When we say no to opportunities like this, we cut ourselves off from His life-giving power. We limit what He can do in our lives and what we will do for him.

It is in saying yes to these opportunities that we really open ourselves up to Him working in our lives, to use us to reach others, and to Glorify His name.

It is in saying yes to these opportunities that we find freedom, wholeness, and relationship.