Archive | May 2019

That Proverbs 31 Woman Did WHAT?!

prov 31 woman

“She goes out….” (Proverbs 31:16a)

“When she speaks, her words are wise…she gives instructions.” (Proverbs 31:26)

“Her husband praises her….” (Proverbs 31: 28b)

For some of you, I could stop and sign off right here, and you’d know exactly why I was here and what I just did. It depends, probably, on what you were taught by your particular religious organization, if you subscribe to one.

Today I simply want to say what I see in the Proverbs’ “Wife of Noble Character” passage with fair warning that I’m fired up about how narrowly some religious folks have defined what women should do and be. But to loosely quote Joshua, my household and I will follow the Word, and it couldn’t seem more clear to me.

In Proverbs 31:10–31, I see a woman who’s cherished and never looked upon as a burden. She’s categorized as an asset, inside and out—a very precious one. (She isn’t looked upon as a possession that needs to be controlled, fixed or condescended to, but rather she is elevated to the status of a rare jewel to be held out to the world in broad daylight, shown off and highlighted. The ones who get to benefit from her sparkle appear to see themselves as highly lucky.)

She is a businesswoman–a bold self-starter. And she effectively manages hired help to run the parts of her household she can’t while she’s out. (She makes business and management decisions both at work and at home.)

She has a job outside the home. (Please don’t hear me say this is mandatory. I’m trying to convey that there isn’t only one Biblically-sanctioned place women should work or job they’re limited to—namely, home, husband and kids. I’m not flipping the script to legalistically say all women must work outside the home. My dears, you have the God given freedom to be whoever He created you to be, is all.)

She’s a bit of a foodie, it seems, not necessarily buying the cheapest and most convenient food. (Is this a nod to caring about health or just having a hobby or interest in keeping life tasty?)

She is thrifty and frugal, always making sure to do her part in preparing for the future. (She can be trusted with money management and long-term planning. She isn’t wasteful. She understands delayed gratification.)

She is generous to people in need. (She’s a philanthropist and donor.)

And then she goes right ahead and dresses like royalty in expensive cloth. (She is going to enjoy all of God’s gifts and creation. She isn’t afraid, out of false humility or guilt, of some extravagance or looking beautiful. She doesn’t think that only others deserve dignity and self-worth.)

She manufactures products to sell. (So we see yet more entrepreneurship. It doesn’t say whether she does so at home or not.)

She is strong, dignified and brave as she looks ahead. (There’s not child-likeness or mental and emotional weakness to be talked down to or corrected by another.)

She is kind when instructing others. (But she does instruct others.)

She watches over all the important things in her life simultaneously and makes sure nothing goes downhill from laziness and passivity. (She doesn’t do it all herself either. With intelligent delegation, she effectively oversees all the many different types of projects and necessities of life. She bears responsibilities well, inside and outside the home.)

Her children and husband praise her, comparing her to others of lesser character and accomplishments, saying she comes out ahead. (They’re somewhat in awe of her capabilities and character and let her know it.)

She accomplishes this by having values and stability. She’s not superficial and doesn’t care overly much for temporal things while simultaneously not being afraid to enjoy the finer things when God grants blessings. She knows God intimately as Master, and in submitting to and learning His values, lives an admirable and capable and creative life. And she’s rewarded publicly for all of who she is and what she does by those who know her best at home. (She’s not viewed solely as a body, a servant for other-promotion, one to be hidden away or kept to self. She is lauded for all to see for her value as a separate, bright and unique individual, not a chameleon camouflaged to disappear behind the dreams of those around her.)

Believe me, I know a woman’s first impulse can be to hate this Bible super lady. But, if we can sneak around that initial insecurity—the feeling that we can’t or don’t measure up–to see the freedom and adoration we’re given in this passage, we can quickly get over the inferiority complex, I believe.

This Scripture expands our horizons as women–the sky’s the limit. It’s telling us of our intense, immense value and potential. It’s saying we can have a direct relationship with God just like the next person and that He applauds, validates and promotes our skills, passions, interests, capabilities and beauty, gladly helping us to be all of ourselves. It lifts any heavy burden of religiosity and legalism that wrong theology would try to place on us, instead telling us we’re created to be strong, brilliant and shiny, inside and out, unafraid and unashamed. And furthermore, it shows we can expect to be praised and treasured for our femininity by anyone with any sense, not criticized or stifled or put down or held back. This woman isn’t the brunt of jealously or domination from her family, as though there’s a conflict between her XX chromosomes and her achievement or reasonable independence. Instead they seem to say, Wow, you love and do for us so well, and we’re going to support and enthusiastically praise you for living out all of your strengths and dreams, just as you help us do the same.

Please don’t hear me say men and women aren’t different. I’m familiar enough with religious mindsets to hear some panic coming at me as I write today. I’m not saying women have no unique role for children and home. You can’t read Proverbs 31 without hearing plainly that she adores and works hard for her family, taking the responsibility very seriously when she gets married and brings little people into this world who need Mommy. Clearly, just by looking at biology and the brain, women have a role only they can fill in family life in many ways. But does this passage solely define this wife by her work at home or subservience to the goals of her family members? No. Nor does it assign all the responsibility of home to her or imply she should apply all of her individuality and strength only to her household.

However, it appears that large portions of the Christian church (other religions, too, but my wheelhouse is Protestantism) still haven’t given up teaching or implying that women are limited to 1) ministering to or managing other women and children, 2) staying at home, 3) serving their family’s goals without any of their own, 4) looking plain and/or 5) being directed, decided for or managed as one less valuable, less capable, less mentally or emotionally strong, less spiritual or less intelligent. Let’s just stop, now then, shall we? We can stop it.

If the Bible says we can look at women another way—the way God created us to live and breathe and be–then it’s possible to do so. As always, if it’s good enough for God, it’s more than good enough for me.

With Hope and Heart in Hand,


Presented by Writer’s Block Prose, LLC

This entry was posted on May 20, 2019. 1 Comment

Endometriosis…There, I Said It

Endometriosis Fighter

I haven’t ever written about this part of my illness and chronic pain journey before, partly because I wasn’t sure it was socially acceptable to do so. I’m still not sure it is, but where the Spirit leads…. I’ve openly written here at my blog about many a debilitation and catastrophe: The Suicide Disease (Trigeminal Neuralgia), infertility, a neck injury forcing prolonged muteness, my home getting totaled four times by natural disasters. But, this one is different. Just tossing a term that references female reproductive organs out into the open air like this, well, it feels risky—out of the accepted ordinary, at least. But, you only live once, so…ENDOMETRIOSIS. There, I said it.

My emotional constitution was created to be (overly so for many a person not created this way I’m sure) naturally comfortable with extreme vulnerability. So, it’s not so much embarrassment that’s held me back. I suppose I’ve hesitated for two main reasons. First, when you write a blog you actually want people to read it. And second, if I’m honest, I’m not 100% sure I can effectively encourage women suffering with endometriosis despite having it myself. And per chance I can’t, then what’s the point here? I’ve felt many a day that I failed to conquer it myself (although my very gracious doctor argues with me over that point, expressing that facing it head on and achieving a high quality of life in the midst of it is a job well done). I don’t want to write a blog that leaves anyone saying, well that didn’t help me a cotton-pickin’ lick.

In other venues of writing I’ve done, I’ve championed alternative and holistic medicine. I haven’t written much about that type of thing in this blog yet (wait for it…I can’t have a conversation for five minutes without dovetailing into it, like I probably am right now…). Normally I come out of my bouts with “uncurable” chronic illnesses and injuries with rather absurd but thank-God true stories of healing using unconventional means and therapies. For example, to my surprise and delight, one session of cranio-sacral therapy freed me from a decade of migraines. And with a good, long focus on lifestyle tricks and food-as-medicine techniques, my holistic heroes won my also decade-long battle with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Fibromyalgia (stemming from a chronic infection, adrenal exhaustion and a damaged gall bladder meridian, but I believe the possible causes are many and varied for that diagnosis).

I have no such story today. I had endometriosis for a significant chunk of time—fourteen to 29 years, depending how you label it (29 makes most sense to me in hindsight). In the end, I simply had to surrender and remove the offending organs and tissues. That didn’t feel like a victory to me.

I’m not exactly sure why I saw this as a failure. Someone who removes an appendix or gallbladder doesn’t tend to cry, “I failed!” I suppose after all the healing I’ve experienced when I purportedly shouldn’t have (according to mainstream medicine) I’m an all out, sold out believer in the body’s ability to fix itself given the right tools. And given my all out, sold out belief in a God who heals, I viewed a release from the debilitation of endometriosis without extreme measures as entirely possible.

I’m not going to describe the details of endo. I still see refraining as considerate in a mixed company audience. (There’s actually no person, man or woman, who’s heard every detail of my endo journey, and I guarantee that’s true for every endo sufferer. It’s the nature of the beast.) I do think we best leave some aspects of life to private and rare conversations. But if you have endometriosis, you don’t need the excruciation and utter desperation explained to you. It’s good enough to talk about the effects, not the cause. You know what this illness controls; you know intimately what it steals and how, the times you couldn’t show up or be fully present but couldn’t say, “It’s because I’m hurting SO badly.” You know that even when it lets up, it’s going to be back around again more days of the month than not and the dread that has to be fought every day. And my heart is broken wide open in compassion for you.

I also guarantee that if you don’t have it or even know what it is that you do know at least several ladies debilitated by it. But you likely don’t know that they are or that it absolutely runs their lives. These ladies manage the same life you do without being in control of what days their bodies allow them to live—the truth about most all chronic illnesses, which you know if you have one of the many shades and varieties of them.

It’s the anonymity of the endo struggle that adds to the uber pain already being suffered. I’ve had two utterly overwhelming situations in my life that I couldn’t appropriately speak about openly, because they just weren’t for public, or even semi-intimate, consumption. Only a person or two could rightly know (or handle it responsibly). A favor you can do for the ladies you care about who suffer this is just to understand that gagged suffering (because it’s not a socially acceptable or understood topic of conversation) is the worst type. It leaves the patient engaging the challenge without the support of those they love most—or at least to the degree they’d have it if they had cancer or diabetes or…or…or something readily discussed out loud, NOT that those are things to be wished for either.

So, what can I say directly to these ladies? Can I legitimately tell you to forward this to them, claiming I can provide some comfort or insight? Is there any balm I can apply when the only way out of endo is a painful road with possible side effects, as well? What kind of encouragement is it to say that even when you try to remove this insidious intruder you’re a patient for life, because it doesn’t always work, or work indefinitely, even when you try the most effective solution known?

I find I’m then left with two trains of thought for you or the loved ones you might be thinking of right now. I pray supernatural power into these words to compensate for that which doesn’t feel like enough:

  • I see you, dear women and girls. I see you. When you’re in a fight that must remain invisible to most, there’s such a natural longing to be seen, to have your cries heard, to be embraced and upheld when you’re so bone-weary tired. Of course, I’m not the omnipotent Upholder. I’m not the ultimate, omniscient Embracer. I’m not the omnipresent Hearer or Seer. I pray for each endometriosis sufferer out there that they know Him—intimately know—so He can get them through the lonely times and the times they don’t feel they’ll survive the physical pain one second longer. But, if it helps at all to hear a random blog from a random endometriosis survivor saying, Your pain is important, and you can make it, and you are enough as a woman no matter what body parts you get to keep or which you lose, then I’ll scream it from the mountaintops of Pennsylvania today. God formed you in your mother’s womb (although even that can be a painful phrase during this illness, apologies). He isn’t abandoning you today, like you might feel, and He hasn’t ever. Ever. Ask for His answers, because He has promised to give them. And take them, however he sends them, whenever He does. You are able to endure until His time comes, precious ladies. And though the world knows not fully of your strength today, they will someday.
  • Sometimes the white flag of surrender does work. I tossed it, at a relatively young age. I didn’t want to. Like I said, submitting to serious drugs for a time and, ultimately, permanent and unchangeable surgery felt horrid at first in many ways. I worried it would be all for naught if it resolved nothing (or God forbid, made everything worse). And I personally suffered severe complications for the better part of a year that nearly broke me and so thought I’d made a mistake. (I will say, find the right surgeon. Study, get referrals, ask around, pray. Right surgeon crucial!) But it wasn’t a mistake. It was respite, eventually—beautiful respite. I didn’t fail. I’m human, and I accepted the only help left at the time after trying everything else under the sun at unbelievable personal expense and endurance.

There isn’t failure in faintly whispering in exhaustion, I can’t do this this way anymore. I let go of what I thought could be (biological kids, a female body as it would have been in Eden, avoiding the side-effects of the solution…). I’m not letting anybody down. I’m letting myself down if I go on indefinitely sacrificing myself to this. There are no guarantees, but I have to gamble that a more severe procedure can bring peace, like the threshing floor of wheat is the only way to bring a harvest. It’s a final step in turning an inedible, useless kernel into sustenance for many. You, and only you, will intuitively know the right time to cry uncle.

I’ve never let you know when I’ve cried writing different parts of my story. But, I willingly say that I am right now per chance a dear, suffering heart may benefit. If no one else has known or is able to say to you with a tear in their eye, I know your pain, and I’m sorry, then please hear me now. I do. You are seen. You are heard. You are able. You are strong. Let’s be in this one together, quietly unsilent. Until your healing, I hear, and He hears. I see, and He sees.

With Hope and Heart in Hand,


Presented by Writer’s Block Prose, LLC

This entry was posted on May 2, 2019. 1 Comment