Would a Proverbs 31 Woman Have Time for the Gym?

Would a Proverbs 31 woman have time to go to the gym?

If you’d posed that question several years ago, I’d have popped my headphones back into my ears and continued repping to my favorite worship music, or pounding the pavement to the lively voice of a good preacher. I certainly would not have wanted to answer you. I didn’t have a problem; I had a healthy addiction to being “healthy”.

I accepted Christ as the one true God and my personal savior at the age of seven. Since then, growing in a godly home, I was taught to aspire after the mysterious Proverbs 31 Woman. But through the tangled years of adolescence, a different god warped my thinking and I began to pursue the idols of beauty, strength and thinness, all the while professing the risen Christ and devoting (my spare time) to Him. Let me share the short list of what it cost, or almost cost me …

Finish reading this post at: Proverbs31Woman

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Free Audible Copy of “The Predatory Lies of Anorexia”

Guess What? My first book, “The Predatory Lies of Anorexia: A Survivor’s Story” is now out in audible format! It’s available as such on Amazon, Audible.com and iTunes.

I’m giving away a few free copies of the audio version through Audible.com. Want a chance to listen to my book?

Comment here and share this post on Facebook for a chance to win! I’ll announce the winner on Sunday!

My book on Audible!

Who is the Proverbs 31 Woman?

Who Is the Proverbs 31 Woman?

“Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.”
Proverbs 31:30

I have a love-hate relationship with Proverbs 31. It is part of God’s inherent Word, and as such, I will spend the rest of my life mining it to understand God’s love for me, His desires for me and His plans for me. However, the woman of Proverbs 31 makes me feel a little guilty; she kind of rubs my failures in my face. Admittedly, I’ve avoided this chapter before. But that was until I recognized her. The Proverbs 31 woman isn’t who you think she is!

Proverbs 1:20, 8:1, 7:4 and 14:1, refer to wisdom as a woman. The woman of Proverbs 31 is wisdom, not a perfect person. However, we are to develop these traits. Proverbs 4:7 says, “The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom.” And, Proverbs 9:10 says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.” But how do we lay claim to wisdom? How do we learn to fear the Lord and by this grow in wisdom and begin to live out the characteristics described in Proverbs 31?

Christ is our wisdom. “And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,”1 Corinthians 1:30. To fear the Lord and embody wisdom in all aspects of our life, we must seek first Christ and Christ alone.

Abby Kelly’s book, The Predatory Lies of Anorexia: A Survivor’s Story is available on Amazon. She blogs at http://www.predatory-lies.com.

Was, Is and Will Be

moving-forward-1445758-mIn March of last year, my parents threw a big party. It was a special event to show off their grandkids who live out of state and to celebrate the publication of my first book, The Predatory Lies of Anorexia: A Survivor’s Story. When they chose the date, no one realized that it would land neatly on top of the same weekend they began moving from the house they’ve lived in for seventeen years.

It was a bit maddening for my mother! Half of her life had already migrated to a new address, while she was expecting up to 80 guests at the old house! But, the dynamics created by the convoluted schedule were magical; it was in the chaos that I found redemption.

Part of moving is inevitably going through piles of old “stuff”—letters buried at the back of the desk and forgotten five years before, stuffed animals loved right out of their fur, photo albums lovingly created and abandoned on book shelves, paperbacks enjoyed once but not worth reading again, dusty silk flower arrangements, school year books, gymnastics trophies…but, among the mundane, we found precious things like blankets crocheted by Grandma and handmade baby dresses.

I plucked a photo album from the stack and flipped through the first several pages. My own face, barely recognizable stared back at me. There I was, sitting in this same room, ten Christmases past, a shell of myself, a skeleton of a woman. My eyes were haunted by dark gray shadows and ringed with fatigue. Though I must have been watching someone open a gift, there was no light in my eyes. I remember now, calculating how many calories were in that cinnamon roll my mother made me eat and wondering if anyone would notice if I left and went for a run.

God says He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Praise Him that I am not so! Because He is, my was, is not my is. And my will be is even better.

One reason for the party was to celebrate the publication of my book. As I wrote the book, I effectively closed my “was” chapter, and stepped bravely into “is”. That weekend, plowing through my parents’ closets brought the differences between was and is into distinct contrast. I can see clearly what God has done to redeem my past.

Some things that marked this final stay in my parents’ old home as the dawning of a glorious is:

Every morning, I sat and sipped coffee with my Dad instead of leaving the house to go for a 20 mile run.

I took cat naps with my mother instead of fearing how many pounds I would accumulate while resting.

I looked at my baby pictures and thought, “I was adorable!” instead of despising my appearance.

I walked my mom’s dog and stopped to smell her neighbor’s flowers instead of trying to turn it into a power walk.

I ate some of my grandmother’s chocolate chip cookies.

I didn’t fall asleep in church because my brain was starved for energy. Instead I relished the pastor’s sermon and lifted my hands in worship.

I didn’t overhear my parents discussing my illness in anxious, hushed tones.

All of these observances culminated on the Saturday afternoon of the party. Almost 80 of my parents’ friends poured through the house. These were people who had prayed for me and held my parents’ hands when I went to college, and when they received worried phone calls from my dorm supervisor. These people prayed for me even though they didn’t know me. These people knew my story, knew my family’s pain in the middle of my eating disorder and held us before the throne. These people are part of the reason I am here today.

Today is new. I am fuller, happier. I am free from fear of food and compulsory exercise. Today, I see the world as so much bigger than myself. Thank God that I am not the same as I was.

And even more glorious? I’m the not same as I will be. God has promised that I cannot conceive of the good things He has planned for me. He has promised that one day I will behold the face of my Savior and I will be like Him (2 Corinthians 3:18). He has promised me a future and hope.

Last year, I recognized redemption. One weekend was a microcosm of the span of my life and I can see clearly how God redeemed me. It is in that context that I am more excited than ever, more grateful than ever that God has redeemed my soul. I love is and new, I am joyful now, but I am ever so excited about what will be.

Questions:

What is one evidence that Christ has made your life new? How is your “is” different than your “was”? Can you use this to share the Gospel with others?
2. Are you still struggling with the guilt and fears of “was”? What do you think you need to truly feel new?
3. If you let your imagination run, what do you think “will be” will look like?

 

Where’s Waldo in the Land of ED?

[This was initially written for a non-profit publication ministering to girls with eating disorders in the UK. I wrote it very early this year as they promoted Eating Disorder Awareness Month.
While we’re headed into the holidays and February 2015 seems a million years away, those who deal with eating disorders find this time of year particularly agonizing. I hope this increases your alertness during this emotionally-charged season. Without going on a “witch hunt” pay compassionate attention to the young girls in your life and be willing and ready to help them if you see them struggling with food and body image issues.]

Remember that game we used play—Where’s Waldo? In a sea of colors and confusion, one nerdy little guy hides. But he’s just doing what everyone else is doing. His disguise is ordinary, his activities similar to the crowd’s. But he’s still so hard to find!

How much harder would it be if you didn’t know that Waldo always wears a red and white striped shirt? The search would take so much longer if you didn’t know about his blue jeans and signature glasses.

February is Eating Disorder Awareness Month and the theme for 2014 is/was “I Had No Idea”.

It’s a common lament among the loved ones of those dealing with eating disorders. I think the difficulty in recognizing eating disorders quickly enough to treat them effectively is two-fold.

First, many people don’t know what an eating disorder looks like. And if they do recognize the symptoms, they are often afraid to acknowledge them.

But the second reason is more insidious. Sadly, eating disorders are becoming so prevalent that they’re difficult to spot. A lesser-known category of eating disorders is called Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS). It’s as if everyone in Waldo’s picture were wearing a red and white striped shirt, or as if all the tiny characters wore glasses.

But here is where the example breaks down. We cannot go peering into every person’s pantry, spying on their exercise habits or telling them to smash their scale. Unlike Waldo, the point is not to hold everyone in suspicion. It’s not fair to assume that everyone with a dietary restriction, or exceptionally large appetite is anorexic or suffers from binge eating disorder, respectively. Not everyone who gets sick after dinner is bulimic.

The solution to avoid the sad, too late, “I had no idea” is to be educated about the symptoms of eating disorders, to be involved in the lives of loved ones and to be assertive enough to speak up when we notice a problem. And perhaps to change our “clothes” so eating disorders can’t blend in so easily.

Truthfully, I believe there are many, many eating disordered individuals that slip by unnoticed because more and more people are engaging in eating disordered behaviors long before they exhibit the dramatic health consequences. Our culture as a whole, not only accepts but encourages food fears, extreme exercise, fad diets, dangerous weight-loss pills, and stoic self-discipline.

How many headlines did you count at the supermarket yesterday proclaiming the virtues of a new weight-loss trend? Just last month, how many of your conversations with friends centered around your intent to “get skinny” in 2014? We want to wear “skinny” jeans, not just jeans that fit well. Our special diets makes us feel unique and strong. We applaud people who run 12 marathons a year, and brag about getting up at 4 a.m. to squeeze in an “insane” workout.

Speaking for myself, “I had no idea” about my eating disorder for a good while. And even once it had been identified by doctors and my parents, it was difficult for me to see my behaviors as dangerous. After all, many people marveled and praised me for my commitment to working out. Others told me that they envied my self-control around food. A few even said, “I wish I could be anorexic for a day.”

These are the trends that blur the lines. These are the habits and conversations that dress eating disorders up in innocuous clothing and let them walk unhindered down the street, or sleep innocently in your daughter’s bedroom down the hall. Maybe, an eating disorder even lurks in your bathroom, huddled near the scale. You know, the one that tells you details about your body composition that you don’t even understand? That’s another trend—not only are we obsessed with a low weight, but now that weight must be composed of just the right percentages of fat, water and muscle mass.

Where does it stop? How can we clear the image, sweep away the confusion and rightly recognize disordered eating in ourselves and loved ones before it’s too late?

We need to “change our clothes”. Not literally, but in the way that Waldo’s peers might. If a few more of us dropped our eating disordered behaviors and quit acting like this obsession with bodies and food was normal, perhaps the real problems would stand out.

Mine is the Story

After six years of full-blown anorexia, six years of tremulous recovery, three years of painful relapse and three years of telling God that I didn’t want to write a book—I started writing my story.

It was difficult to argue with God when He brought me an agent. It was even more difficult to argue when He brought us a publisher. They believed in my story and believed it had the potential to help others affected by eating disorders. So, I started writing.

I wrote the true story of this girl who decided at age fourteen that she would define herself by being thin. She would establish her identity as the one with the most self-restraint, physical discipline and iron will, to the destruction of her body. Mine is the story of this girl who spent her sixteenth, then eighteenth birthdays and a total of six years at an inpatient treatment facility in Arizona. I married at age 22 and then discovered my husband’s addiction to pornography; suffered a relapse and nearly lost my marriage.

The best part of the story was the most difficult to write. How to explain the way God rescued this miserable, dying woman? How to explain the way He finally made the truth make sense? How to write about that day when I walked through an open air farmers’ market on Percival Point in Olympia, Washington—the day the world sprung back to life and I could suddenly see apples and glossy, red cherries and fresh caught salmon as glorious, delicious gifts from God?

It was hard to express the excitement and profundity of that day. For so many years I saw food as the enemy, my hunger as something to be fought against and my body as a foe to be buffeted. But on that sunny afternoon, God revealed food to me the same way that He did to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, the way He intended us to view food.

“Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.” Genesis 9:3

The final steps toward the process of publishing have been difficult. On several occasions it felt like I was up against Satan himself. I wondered why? My story seems insignificant. My testimony is small and it doesn’t seem world-changing. But when I shared this discouragement with a friend, she validated my story.

She pointed out, “John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

Then she said, “If anorexia’s purpose isn’t to steal, kill and destroy God’s plan, then I don’t know what is! God WILL use your story to open blind eyes and set the captives free. That’s why Satan is trying to sabotage your, no His, story.”

And so, I share my story. It’s not different, no more profound or world-changing than yours. Our lives are uniquely part of God’s purpose and His plans for them are powerful.

If you’d like to read my ebook, or buy the paperback, visit these links on Amazon: Surviving the Predatory Lies of Anorexia (ebook) The Predatory Lies of Anorexia: A Survivor’s Story (paperback)

*Update: The Predatory Lies of Anorexia: A Survivor’s Story, was successfully published in March of 2014. To God the glory! Now, I have embarked on the next journey with Jesus, I’m writing a Bible study. I’ll keep you posted on the process and publication. I can’t wait to share it with you!

My Book Reviewed by The Eating Disorder Referral and Information Center

Last month, I was greatly honored to have my book reviewed in the Eating Disorder Referral and Information Center’s monthly newsletter. I’m excited to share it here with you all. If you would like a copy of my book, it’s available on Amazon through the links on the left of this page or you can contact me for a signed copy.

BOOK REVIEW: The Predatory Lies of Anorexia: A Survivor’s Story
By Abby Kelly (Bettie Youngs Books, 2014)

This past August, Robin Williams killed himself; his depression and past struggles with substance abuse defeated him. Phillip Seymour Hoffman also succumbed to a drug overdose this year. These sad losses highlight how possible it is to die from addiction, and how recovery is not simple or automatic just because you say you want it. Therefore, we need to pay careful attention to recovery stories of people like Abby Kelly to learn as fully as possible what the ingredients are that pulls someone out of the brink of despair and makes them choose recovery. In her memoir, The Predatory Lies of Anorexia: A Survivor’s Story, Ms. Kelly recounts her exhausting fifteen year ordeal with “my addiction to the disease of anorexia.” The author’s compulsive appetite for approval, appreciation, and acceptance fueled her anorexia which became her attempt to feel special, unique, and in control. Ms. Kelly recounts her three inpatient hospitalizations, extensive counseling, and thoughts of suicide. Gradually she chooses recovery through her growing belief in God. “God broke the chains of my disease,” she declares. “I am loved by God and my family. I’m beautiful just the way I am. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” There is no “one size fits all” for recovery from addiction. Every person’s recovery is as unique as a fingerprint. In her book, Abby Kelly, now free from anorexia for five years, tells her unique story of her commitment to prayer, Jesus, and religious transformation which led her eventually to embrace the beauty of her body and her soul and to turn her back on the false and “predatory lies” of anorexia.

Book review submitted by Mary Anne Cohen, Director of The New York Center for Eating Disorders, author of French Toast for Breakfast: Declaring Peace with Emotional Eating and Lasagna for Lunch: Declaring Peace with Emotional Eating. http://www.EmotionalEating.Org. Mary Anne Cohen’s book, Lasagna for Lunch: Declaring Peace with Emotional Eating, is now available as an e-book from Amazon.

An Article to Explain (and warn) your ‘tweens about eating disorders

How many magazines do you have on your bedside table? How many in your backpack? Okay, once you’ve done that homework, I need you to do a bit more investigation. Look at the covers. How many headlines promise to make you more beautiful? How about more popular? I bet at least two of them mention a “get-fit” plan or promise to tell you a little secret about which foods are good and bad for you.

One the surface, there’s nothing wrong with these magazines. The quizzes can be fun to take with a friend. And I’m the first to admit I’ve discovered some cute ways to style my hair. But underneath the glitter and glossy pages, did you know that your magazines are telling you little white lies?

Studies say that more than half of 13-year-old girls in the United States don’t like their bodies. And most admit that they get their ideas about health, fashion and what they should look like from magazines. The pictures of celebrities tell them what they should wear, what will make boys like them and how their bodies should look. But it’s scary what can happen to a girl when she chooses to believe these little lies about her appearance and her value.

When I was fourteen-years-old I began a long battle with anorexia. Never heard of it?

Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder. Someone with anorexia stops eating or severely limits what they eat. They might start to exercise too much and to other things to lose weight. And even when they lose too much weight and are dangerously skinny, they still believe they are too fat.

My battle with anorexia lasted more than 14 years. During that time, I lost a lot of friends who worried about me and didn’t know how to help me. My little sisters were scared that I was going to die. My parents cried and worried all the time because actually being too thin is even more dangerous than being a little too heavy.

My hair started to fall out. I grew lots of little-bitty, soft hairs all over my body. Because I didn’t have any body fat, my body was trying to stay warm. I cried a lot. When your mind doesn’t get enough nutrition, it doesn’t think clearly and many girls with anorexia get depressed, too. I fell asleep in school because my body didn’t have enough energy from food to stay awake. I even passed out a couple times, but I don’t remember it.

My family took really good care of me. When they understood how sick I was, they sent me to a hospital for eating disorders in Arizona. I spent three months there, away from my family and friends. I missed school and church; I even spent my 16th birthday at the hospital. Sometimes, I was so tired and scared and sad that I even wanted to die.

Getting well from anorexia often takes a really long time. It was hard for me to try to gain weight. I was scared that I might get too fat. In fact, even after I got well, I started to worry so much about being fat that I got sick again and had to return to the hospital when I was eighteen.

Jesus is the one who saved my life. Knowing how much He loves me is what gave me the courage to keep trying to get well and helped me make it through the loneliness when I was in the hospital. I read the Bible, not magazines, and learned what Jesus says about my beautiful body that He created.

In Genesis, God tells us that He made us in His own image. How can we not be perfectly wonderful if God made us to look like Him?

In Psalm 139, David writes that our bodies are marvelously made. And, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 reminds us that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. We belong to Him! We need to take care of out bodies the way God wants us to and not worry about the world’s ideas of perfect.

 

This article was first published in ‘Tween Girls and God.