How God is Turning My Biggest Embarrassment into My Strongest Testimony

I remember the first time I prayed for my future spouse. I was 11.

I am pretty sure I got the idea from either my older sisters or a chastity talk I had been to in middle school. I wouldn’t be able to tell you exactly where the idea came from… I just did it.

At 11 years old I didn’t know the woman that I would be when I would fall in love with my future spouse. I didn’t know who I would have become in those years or how my relationship with Our Lord would have transformed. I didn’t know who this man was or where he would come from. I didn’t know how he would smile or what sound his laugh would make. I didn’t know much of anything…Except I knew he was out there and he was worth waiting for.

As an 11 year old I also didn’t know the brokenness that I would be carrying into this relationship years down the road, the battles we would have to fight, or the struggles we would have to overcome.

In the [amazing] book called “Woman in Love”, Katie Hartfiel asked this question,

What is your brokenness? Name it. 

This brought me back to last April where I had  to finally name the brokenness that was tearing apart my relationship with God.

This can be summed up into two words…eating disorder.

I struggle everyday with the simplest action of sitting down and having a meal. Yes, that basic human need. Trust me it is as ridiculous as it sounds.

It was only last April, through the grace of confession, that I put a name to the brokenness that was keeping me from God.  My spiritual director sat me down many times throughout the year to ask, “Kileen, are you eating?”. I would reply all offended “Father, of course I am eating! Gosh. Can everyone stop asking me that?”

Yet… that question came up person, after person, after person. My family and friends were growing increasingly concerned over the rapid amount of weight I had lost from my Freshman year of college to my sophomore year. But I refused to listen.

Then I woke up one day last April with the intense desire of wanting to go to confession. This was so weird for me! Although I love the Sacrament it usually takes me days to prepare myself to go to the confessional because I get such bad anxiety beforehand. For some odd reason, this day was different.

In the confessional Father asked me for the millionth time, “Kileen I have to ask because I am your spiritual Father, I care about you…. Are you eating?”

I broke down into tears. I couldn’t lie anymore, I couldn’t fake it.

Throughout the past 2 years I had gotten pretty good at putting on a fake smile and answering the question as if there was no guilty conscious ringing off in my head. I had become used to saying, “Oh no… I walk everywhere so that has really helped me drop a few pounds.”

I was recycling an old lie that was used on me when someone close to me had revealed her eating disorder.

See… the devil knew exactly where to place the sin that I would be too ashamed to share. I didn’t wake up one morning and decide that I wasn’t going to eat anymore. No. It started with my busy life not lending me time to eat breakfast. Then it turned into ‘I’m getting too busy to eat lunch but I’ll have a big dinner’, all up to the point that I was having a smoothie or a few spinach leaves a day. As I stopped eating meal after meal I noticed a change in my body. Sadly, I liked it.

There was still a deep shame inside. After all, my entire reversion was built on ‘rediscovering’ my beauty. In the past I had enjoyed explaining to other woman that they were dignified beautiful creations of God! Yet, here I was. Feeling “satisfied” with the growling of an empty stomach as if it was some victory. While a voice inside said, ” You are a disappointment. You are a failure. You are broken.”

I kept the secret. I isolated the voice of Christ telling me to give Him this brokenness. I felt that if I just shut His voice out, I wouldn’t have to feel guilty or ashamed. It actually increased both.

I wasn’t willing to give up everything for Christ. I was still holding onto a “vision” of my body and along the way I was hurting so many people close to me. They felt lied to… And rightly so.

Why am I telling you this story? 

Well. The man who I began praying for as that 11 year old girl was the same man who helped me heal my own brokenness.

On the day of this same confession, Father continued his spiritual guidance and asked this question, “Do you want to have kids?” My response was a loud and proud yes! He explained gently that if I were to continue denying my body its most basic necessity, I could lose my chance at motherhood.

My heart dropped.

How selfish of me.

Christ was opening up a desire in my heart that was far deeper and held more meaning to me than the size of jeans I wear. I had always desired to be a faithful wife and loving mother, but for some odd reason I didn’t connect my own eating habits with my future marriage and family. One thing I really want to stress is that if I were to have tried to heal purely for me, I would have never started my recovery. In thinking of myself I was led only to self harm and isolation. It was in thinking of the man who God had created with me in mind, the man who Our Lord knew would lead me safely back to Him, that I was able to step outside of my selfishness and name the sin that was keeping me tucked away in darkness.

It was love, namely love Himself, who brought me back into the light.

I was praying daily again. I opened up my first prayer in a little while for my future husband. I prayed that he would forgive my failures. I prayed that I could be the wife he deserved. I prayed for the ability to still be able to have children in the future and if God allows that, I prayed that my children would learn from my mistakes.

It was prayers for my Husband-to-be that began a slow and steady ‘yes’ from God… He was telling me over and over again, “You are enough”.

Months later I still look at the front cover of the journal I bought while beginning my road to recovery, and on it says;

“To You Lord, I am enough”.

I still carry the scar of my own self harm. I still struggle with eating. Sometimes I still even cringe at the feeling of being full. And no… This disorder isn’t glamorous like the store Urban Outfitters would have you think. They would like to de-sensitize it to make you buy a fashion tee that says “eat less”.

But there’s hope…

For me it began with Christ. He brought me back into the light to name the very sin that was leaving me crippled. It was painful and the first few months were exhausting, some days still are. But as Saint Paul wrote in Romans 8:18, “The pain you’ve been feeling, can’t compare to the joy that’s coming.”

The joy of a fruitful and holy marriage that will lead me back to my Heavenly Father is the joy I pray will come. To my future husband, thank you. Your existence alone gave me inspiration to live not just for myself, but for what may come.

This struggle will not become my identity. Because even the tragedy of the cross, Christ turned into His greatest victory.

This is my cross.

“And he said to all, if any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23

Please pray for me, know I am praying for you as well.

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Veiled: For my Beloved

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As I walk into the sanctuary on a beautiful Sunday I automatically feel the glances and sense the stares. Part of me doesn’t want to look up and awkwardly catch eyes with the person looking at me, so I continue to walk in and make my way to the pew.

Then I see Him.

I kneel down and genuflect in front of the first love of my life. My heart lifts and I forget the people staring. It’s just me and sweet Jesus.

Yes I am one of many young women who are revitalizing an old tradition of wearing a veil (mantilla) in the presence of Our Lord. And yes, you can do this and not be 80 years old. I remember seeing the older generation at my home parish wear the veil and thought to myself, “Wow they STILL do that?” Not even fully realizing how beautiful of a tradition it was. Of course Our Lord brought me to that understanding about a year ago and deepened this calling for veiling. I ignored it. “That would be awkward! Women don’t do that anymore! They would stare at me and judge me!” All of these thoughts were based on fear, not love. Veiling in front of Our Lord is founded purely on love of Him. And boy was I in love! So of course I stepped up and obeyed the calling. Fortunately, haven’t looked back since. 

Now that I have been wearing the veil for a while, I realize the beauty and the depth to this calling and it isn’t just about modesty and obedience in front of my Lord. No.

The veil represents my total gift of self to my beloved.

As I walk down the aisle towards the Eucharist… I am meeting my beloved. I am walking towards the first love of my life and I ready my heart to be one with His. To receive His body, soul, and divinity. When you veil you are recognizing that something beautiful and sacred is in front of you. Women were created as the most beautiful creation, therefore; when we veil, we humble ourselves and point to something even more beautiful… Which is God Himself.

Now…Fast forward a few years….

I walk with my Dad making our way towards the altar in the church.  

I fix my veil, perfecting it to make sure that I feel and look my best.

My nerves rise as I get closer towards the entrance of the sanctuary, everyone is looking at me, everyone is staring….

Then I see him.

My groom standing at the front of the altar. Waiting patiently for me and symbolizing perfectly the patience that came along with living out a chaste relationship so that on my wedding day I could wear white, and mean it.

I am veiled representing my total gift of self to him and Our Lord. I walk down the aisle toward my beloved, the man that I will be united with through the sacraments and who also fulfills what Our Lord says in scripture that, “Then the two shall become one flesh…”

.Let’s come back to today…

When I walk into the sanctuary on a normal Sunday I meet my first Beloved in the tabernacle, one who I walk down the aisle time and time again to receive on my tongue in the Holy Eucharist. I wear the veil symbolizing my gift of self and submission to Our Lord, a gentle reminder of Our Lady and how she modeled this so perfectly. Mary gave herself as a gift to God. We all as women are gifts to humanity! This is what we need to remember! The reason we were created last is because we are the crown of God’s creation!

See, it is no coincidence that brides wear a veil on the day of their wedding. This tradition, much like the tradition of wearing the chapel veil, has now been accustomed to taste. We need to re-educate that the veil isn’t an accessory but rather a symbol of submission, humility, dignity, and the gift of ones self to another. As a bride I will walk down the aisle veiled for the Beloved that God made for me. The man who I will vow to live my life t’ll death to Heaven and all while fulfilling the ultimate goal… “Kileen, let’s be Saints”. 

Although the stares and glances from some of the parishioners may be uncomfortable, the reality I have found is that I don’t wear the veil because of them! No, I wear the veil for my beloved. The veil was never about myself and the parishioners, but rather it is about symbolizing my own dignity, obedience, faithfulness, and total gift of self to not only my beloved Lord but also my beloved [future] husband.

30 Day Modesty Challenge Final Lessons & Favorite Outfits

Here it is! My final week of the challenge.

Here are a few lessons I took from the 30 days:

1. I am not perfect

Sometimes the problem we get ourselves into is thinking that we are supposed to be perfect all the time, but if we continue this thinking it can be dangerous. This extends even to our health, which is what happened to me earlier this year. My body is never going to look as the world will see it “perfect”. But to God? I am a slab of gold which is purified through fire, and has to be continuously purified until the reflection the goldsmith sees in the gold…is Himself. I am imperfect, God is not. That’s the lesson.

2. Prayer, Prayer, then more Prayer

The most important part of the challenge was growing in my prayer life. Those conversations with God, and Him opening up my heart to see what’s truly in there, showed me the reality of why I felt called to join the challenge. It wasn’t because I needed a fashion makeover, although that was definitely needed, but because I needed to remember my own dignity.
“It is not fancy hair, gold jewelry, or fine clothes that make you beautiful. No, your beauty should come from within you- the beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit. This beauty will never disappear, and it is worth very much to God. -1 Peter 3:3
My clothes needed to reflect the dignity that I found in Christ.

3. Modest doesn’t mean frumpy- It never did

Shortly after my blog was shared on Chastity Project’s site, there were numerous articles week after week detailing issues about modesty. This was really awesome to see because by my observation it was the modesty challenge which opened up communication on the subject. One blog talked about their problem with the “M” word. Modesty means frumpy clothes that doesn’t give you any shape, isn’t cute, but outwardly portrays your holiness. The challenge was meant to breakdown these stereotypical walls for modesty! For me, it was to make the clothes I love both modest and fashionable. Guess what? You can totally do it! Modesty doesn’t mean wearing turtlenecks or dresses that make you look like a box. No way! You can wear cute clothes! It just has to be a mindset that “What I’m wearing will honor My Lord.” Or a question of, “Would I wear this in front of My God?”. Our Lord wants you to look beautiful! He created you that way! Don’t be afraid of the “M” word, it doesn’t mean you can’t be yourself in your own fashionable way! Challenge yourself to be creative when it comes to modest outfits! Don’t be afraid to show your beautiful femininity!

4. Modesty strengthens us in Chastity

Modesty and chastity are two sides of the same coin. My desire to live out my promise of purity for my husband means that I want to be representing myself in a dignified way. A quote I really love that speaks to this says, “Dress how you want other women dressing around your husband”. For me? As my prayer life increased, my positivity about chastity increased as well. Modesty isn’t just meant for me to understand that my dignity is from God, and not in the clothes I wear. It is also for my future spouse. I wear clothes that, although still show my femininity, will provide mystery for my husband to unravel. On my wedding day I want to wear white, and mean it. I want to be the gift he has to unwrap.

5. It starts with just ONE

Changing a lifestyle doesn’t happen over night. But all it takes is one person, one day of courage, or one moment of surrender. That’s where it begins. God filled Mary’s heart because of one word… Fiat.

What is your ONE moment going to be? Will you say yes?

My Top 10 Outfits in the 30 Days

1.  Date Night Out

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2. Yes, you can still wear that shorty short dress- just as a shirt.

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3. No more uncomfortable yanking! Strapless dress win.

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4.  Modest at 14,000 Feet

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5. Sunday Best

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6. Can’t go wrong with a jean shirt and maxi skirt

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7. Colors of Summer

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8. Accessorize & Simple Style

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9. Sunday Best Part II

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10. It isn’t how you start, it’s how you finish.

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Thank you for your prayers! I am still praying for all the women participating in the challenge and those who will eventually join!

Although this challenge may be over for me, doesn’t mean my journey is anywhere near over! Another challenge begins for me. Please pray for me and trust I will be praying for you as well!

30 Day Modesty Challenge

Challenge time beautiful ladies of the Lord! In our culture now a days it seems that it is much easier for us to dress immodestly than modestly. So here’s my challenge…

Dress modestly for 30 days.

Instagram it with the hashtag #30daymodestychallenge . (Yes… take some selfies. No judgement)

Pray about it and see what happens!

Question time… Why did I decide to take this challenge on?

A. During the hot months of summer I have noticed my desire to wear clothing that is not as modest because of convenience, but I want to change that thinking around! For me… I want to not only respect myself but I want to respect those around me! This is what modest dressing does… allows men to feel safe and women to allow the men to see their dignity within. Jason Evert said, “Women, modesty means you have beauty and power. And you use that to teach men how to love you for the right reasons”. THIS is why I am doing this challenge! And why I would like you to join me!! Modesty reveals the inner beauty while also allowing for the women to still cling to her femininity. How great is that!

What are some modesty guidelines?

A. Layering is always good! Make sure that your most private parts of your body are veiled. Shirts too low or shorts too high could be avoided. Shorts that are right above the knee are usually best, but trust me I know how hard it is to find some that fit “modest” standards. It may take some digging but I’m sure you can find some that work! If all else fails? Make some skirts or shorts yourself! Its really fun and cost efficient. Another suggestion, as women our stomach area is sacred and will eventually contain life, therefore it’d be best to cover it up!

Kileen, I’ve seen some modest clothing… It’s not cute. What can I do to style it up?

A. If you need some ideas check out my Pinterest profile! I’ll be updating it with my 30 Day Modesty Challenge board! Also the Instagrams will help give some ideas!!

I’ll be posting every week through the duration of the challenge! Let’s bring back a culture of modesty!

I’ll be praying for you, please pray for me!

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