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Archive for the ‘women’ Category

This little light of mine …
I’m gonna let it shine …

My faith in the future of followers of Christ (of all genders) has been recently bouyed from an unexpected situation that initially brought darkness like a sucker punch to the gut.

So, a situation occurred where one Christian leader (who happens to be male) made a comment about another Christian leader (who happens to be female), that she should “go home”.

It was a sad, unfortunate, unnecessary and head shaking comment that made the souls of many mourn for the darkness that fell with the words.

In my mind, I kept hearing these Jesus words:

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

  • life as we know it is not fair … to expect anything else is to be living in a false reality
  • Jesus has already won the battle of good vs. evil, of love vs. hate, of joy vs. sadness, of light vs. darkness

We cannot forget …
life is not fair and
Jesus has won the battle

… then the responses began … responses of support for the woman (for all women), responses of a call to action, but also responses of a theme of victimization and hate.

My stomach lurched, my head shook, the darkness grew.

Christians were posting, and blogging, and preaching …
anger, and frustration, and defeatism, and victimization.

But …

Christ was not one to cry out poor me for the injustice he was experiencing, he was not a whiner, he was not a hater. When he was arrested and his follower Simon Peter retaliated and sliced the ear of a high priest … and how did Jesus respond?

“Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” (John 18:11)

Jesus went to the cross, because that is what he had to do to save the souls of his people … that was his calling, handed down by his own father.

And our calling is to follow in his footsteps … and guess what it’s gonna be messy, it’s going to hurt, we are going to be victimized, we are going to have trouble … that we are guaranteed in his word and in his practise.

BUT, we are also
more than conquers.

While other Christians have now spoken about the pointless words and of her gender-related victimization, she (the one who the comment was directed toward) has responded in confidence of her calling and in grace, remembering that our calling is to “honor God, (and) let’s move on.”

“The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overpowered it.” John 1:9

She just kept doing what she does, focusing on the goal, focusing on the calling, focusing on the prize … as is our example in Christ as women and men who follow his leadership.

“The enemy taunts us with whispers like, ‘You’ll never be free. You’ve tried a hundred times. You go back every time. You’re hopeless. You’re weak. You’re a failure. You don’t have what it takes.’ Every one of these statements about you is a lie if you are a believer in Christ. You do have what it takes. You have Jesus – the Way, the truth, and the Life. But you can’t just believe in Him to be free from your stronghold. You must believe Him. Believe He can do what He says He can do. Believe you can do what He says you can do. Believe He is who He says He is. And believe you are who He says you are.” (from Beth Moore’s book, Praying God’s Prayer).

Let it shine,
Let it shine,
Let it shine

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I read a blog the other day about mothering in the middle, when one feels a bit like a taxi driver, fast food cook supply manager, academic assistant, nutritionist, administrative assistant and cheerleader. I found myself reminiscing through that non-stop stage.

It happened to be on a day I was utterly bored.

You see, I am at the mothering young adults stage, the hands-off mothering stage.

The movement from mom in the middle to mom of young adults is similar to a hairpin turn driving down a steep mountainside … you’re moving at speeds you didn’t know possible, then, all of a sudden, you make a sharp turn facing the opposite direction … and the sun is obscuring your view, making it hard to see where you are going.

Our kids are all finished with high school and in varying levels of study and work. Two of our three are still living at home, one in another community. To be honest, I vacillate between wanting them to all be out and independent and wanting them all under one roof (mine).

This is the stage of hands-off mothering … unless they need me … RIGHT NOW! I am talking drop everything and help them right now.

This is where, I guess, boundaries should be developing … but I so need to be needed, and really, no one needs me as much as I desire to be needed anymore. So, I am struggling to draw those boundaries … wanting to be available if someone might have need of me (the struggle is real).

Then there is the I am gonna sever my tongue, from biting it so frequently part of this hands-off mothering stage. They need to be making their own decisions about their faith, their schooling, their work, their income and relationships … I just SO want to offer my opinions … all of the time.

As I was writing this post, hubby let me know what time one of our kids got in last ‘night’ (aka this morning) … gotta say, I really didn’t want to know … that ostrich with it’s head in the sand? I am getting to know him (or is it her) quite well.

I am learning that they need to make mistakes … their own. Live with their own consequences. It was a freedom I was graciously offered by own parents and I believe that I need to regift this freedom to them.

Then there are the heartbreaks … they are so real, so lasting at this young adult stage (though many can come to them earlier). Their relationship struggles, loneliness, uncertainty in their abilities, in their future, their jobs. Life for a young adult is not what it was thirty years ago, when I was twenty. There is little in society today, for a twenty-something that is typical … other than nightlife. And if they are not heartbroken for what is (or is not) going on in their own lives, they live vicariously through the hurts of their friends.

These heartbreaks ripple into my own heart … stories that include suicide, health struggles, drug addiction, sexual assault, homelessness and single parenting get processed with mom on SOS … and I have no answers when I am invited into these conversations … but I pray … how I pray.

At this stage, their friends are not necessarily ones that I know, have met, have made cookies with and carpooled to various events. Their friends are often faceless names that remind me that their life is their own.

Then there is the attempt to get everyone together for one meal … Oh my lanta! I think world peace might be easier to attain!

But …

They are learning, they are seeking, they are even thriving. They do good work, love deeply, seek justice, care for each other …

and they ask me to pray.

When they or their friend is in a tough place, they still ask me to pray.

And if that is the common thread of their need of me, at this hands-off mothering stage … then I will pray.

There is a video that I would return to (over and over) in those mom in the middle years, called The Invisible Woman (below). I realized, the other day, that it still has something to offer me at this hands-off stage of mothering:

“At times my invisibility has felt like an infliction to me,
but it is not a disease that is erasing my life.
It is the cure for the disease of self-centeredness.
It is the antidote to my own pride.
It’s okay that they don’t see,
we don’t work for them,
we work for Him.
We sacrifice for Him.
They will never see,
not if we do it right,
if we do it well.
Lets pray that our work will stand as a monument to an even greater God.”
Nicole Johnson

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As I was watching a trailer for a movie, a conversation onscreen caught my attention.

A young man, new to Nunavut, asked of an elder, “you lived up here a long time?” The elder replied, “six thousand years.”

Like an oak tree that began with an acorn from another oak tree, or a salmon from the fertilization process of two salmon, we humans carry not just the DNA and physical characteristics, but the history of our family of origin.

A number of months ago, while collecting and organizing photos for a framed family history, I was intrigued by the photos collected on my maternal side of the family.

The same squinty eyes, over and over, in each image. As though the gene has just taken over generations of women (my own daughters included).

The quote from the movie made me wonder about those whose DNA I share … what else has been handed down? Not the seen, through our squinty eyes, but the unseen?

Are there strengths within their physical bodies that I have benefitted from? Weaknesses? Were my struggles with self control and downtime shared by these previous generations of women? Did my great, great, great grandmother stand at her clothesline in the Scottish countryside and see wonder in the mundane of daily life, too? Did it connect them to their Creator, as well?

Like trees, those who came before us have seeded within us the first fruits of our lives … not something that we have any control.

I look at my mother, a woman who persevered through a childhood of abuse and terror. She is my squinty-eyed model of an overcomer … one who took the generational curses of her paternal side and slammed the door on them … choosing to end that chapter of inheritance of abuse and alcoholism. She chose to be grafted into a new tree, one that grows better roots, sweeter fruit.

What did I inherit from these women who I knew not at all, or knew so little about?

Their images contain frowns … furrowed brows. I know my family tree was not seeded in the cultivated gardens of palaces, but in the countryside where work was hard and never-ending. I know that there were families full of love and closeness, as well as struggle and heartache.

Yet, in their furrowed brows and squinty eyes there is also a ready smile … strength in the midst of struggle, joy during the trial, hearts full … even when they were broken.

You ask: “Have I lived here long?”

To which I reply: “Thousands of years.”

“Family faces are magic mirrors.
Looking at people who belong to us,
we see the past,
present and future.
We make discoveries about ourselves.”

Gail Lumet Buckley

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Prince Harry said it best, “how any woman does what they do is beyond comprehension” in his response, after witnessing the birth of his son.

Today, in North America, is Mother’s Day. A day when mothers (biological or adopted) and mother-figures are celebrated for … just being mum (mom, ma, mommy, mother, etc.).

It is a lovely day for so many, who have done so much.

For others it is not so lovely. If that is you, stop reading this and click on my post, written just for you, for I understand When Mums Day Hurts.

What Prince Harry didn’t know, when his wife pushed their son into their shared world, what he will not know for many years to come, is that his wife has just begun the hardest work of motherhood. As the umbilical cord was cut, the real work of motherhood begins … that of letting go.

Motherhood is the most awe-inspiring, heart-swelling, prayer motivating, faith-building, white knuckle determination, rip your heart out and squeeze every last drop of life from you experiences.

It is the indescribable experience of a lifetime, that lasts a lifetime. It is a constant push-pull, constant drawing in and letting go.

The job of a mother is, from the beginning of conception, to grow and build and prepare a child for independence … from herself.

Our intuitive desire to hold tight, over-written by our biological inclination to prepare our children for life apart from us.

As a child of a mother, I am keenly aware that in no way can I ever out-love my mother. Nor can I need her as she does me. And it is her fault (being blamed is also part of motherhood 😉 )! For it was my mother who taught me to grow up, that I can do it myself, that I can do anything.

As my own children have grown into adults, I have grown to understand that my letting go of my children continues as I step back and allow them to be independent of me … my advice, my plans, my choices (so much more easily said than done … do I hear an amen?). It is this independence of body and mind that can bring some of the sweetest reunions, when they bring their life back into closeness with mine, sharing what they have learned with me.

Letting go is hard for us moms. For we love our children so much more deeply than words can express. Yet, letting go is the mantra of mums. It is the daily cutting of the umbilical cord, the daily waving good bye, the daily whisper you can do it. And they move forward from where we are, watching them go.

When my days of life and living are done, when my kids sit around a table looking at photos, laughing at silliness, recounting memories that only they share, I don’t care if they think my giving birth was monumental, that my brownies were the best or that I transported them like a full time taxi driver when they were kids.

I hope they are able to say
I struggled to point them to Christ,
I loved deeply,
hugged tightly
and that I let them go.

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When the calendar turns to May, grieving begins afresh for many.

There are numerous variations on this grief, but the reason is the same … it is the month when Mother’s Day is celebrated.

As valid and deserving as the celebrations and accolades are for most people, it is valid and deserving to equally acknowledge the white elephant of grief for so many especially this month.

My own first Mother’s Day was sorrowful. Four months earlier, at eighteen weeks gestation, our first pregnancy, our first child, ceased to live and grow within me. I remember that following Mother’s Day … I remember soldiering on, tight upper lip, continuing on as always … aching from the depths of my being, wanting to just be home, mourning alone and openly with hubby.

For others it will be the inability to conceive, the struggles toward adoption, living the solo life when you would rather create another human with a life-long partner. All of these sorrows originating in two opposing realities … you desire a child more than anything else and there seems to be no way around your present reality that it just isn’t happening.

It is a grief that is present every time you menstruate, see another who is pregnant, hear an announcement of a child born, get invited to a baby shower, hear moms complaining about their kids, see a child who looks like your child could look. It is a grief akin to constantly having a scab ripped off, blood gushing as though a new wound. It does not completely heal.

For others it will be the loss of a child. Though our losses (five of them) were in utero, I have no idea what it is like to lose your child, to have him or her die and be buried. At any age, we humans believe it is just not right for a parent to bury their child … it just goes against the lifeline … it is not how things should happen. Mother’s Day would be that reminder of what has been lost, again it would be that injury that never fully heals.

Then there are those whose child was adopted (with or against their will) and this has left a gapping void in their heart and life. Mother’s Day being the reminder of what could have been. To be a mother yet never a mom … to know that a part of your heart is out there, somewhere.

There are those whose relationship with their mother is strained. Of course this can go both ways, and it may be the mother who is isolated from her child by choices of one or the other. When apologies cannot be listened to (or even heard) there is loss, grief … thoughts of what if? why? and where did I go wrong haunting every day.

For many, Mother’s Day is the grief of the mental loss of their mom. Disease may have seemingly stolen their mom from them and a visit is no longer greeted with acknowledgement that mom remembers you. Each visit contains a wish to be known again. Longing for what was is deep and sorrowful.

For others, there is no longer any earthly means of communicating, of laughing together, of that warm mother-child embrace … for death has separated them. Photos can reignite memories and feelings, but

opportunities
to love, laugh and
inhale the scent of love

are gone forever … and it just hurts.

Like David we cry out:

How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
    and day after day have sorrow in my heart?

Psalm:13:2

The mother’s heart is an endless one … and it even exists for those who have never had a child address you as such.

To those who are grieving this Mother’s Day, it is okay to grieve. Like David, it is okay to lament, to say what we really mean (God knows it already). It is okay to mourn what is not, what will never be, what is gone. Then, like David, “trust in his unfailing love” (v. 5), for he is acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53:5).

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I am getting old. I know this because when I look at magazine cover, I see youthful actresses in movies, I see lovely ladies advertise (usually their online ‘chat’ business) on television, and I turn away. And I turn away because I am past the ability to look as they do (and I do not have access to the air brushing that they do). I have come to the conclusion that even if I lost fifty (or eighty) pounds, even if my body was worked into a state of rock hard, even if I did everything possible (short of plastic surgery) I am beyond the ability to be the definition of what the world says is beautiful. Because I do not have the most important defining feature of beauty … youth.

As I am starting to get cozy with being in my forties, I am starting to see the world so differently. I am starting to see, and expand the definition of beauty differently.

Oh, I can walk down the street and have my eyes drawn to a beautiful young woman. Often though it is not her outward beauty that is what draws my eye. A physically beautiful woman can not even catch more than a passing glance if she does not walk confidently, shoulders back with her head high. There has to be something in that woman that says, ‘I am approachable’. There has to be something in her appearance that communicates to all around, that she is comfortable in her own skin, for those around to look at her and say, ‘she is beautiful’.

Or is it better put another way? Is it in her inner beauty coming out that her outer beauty can shine? When we pass a beautiful woman on the street, in the mall, at the market, do we see her outer beauty first, or do we see her confident head held high, that she is approachable, and that she is comfortable in her skin and something within us says ‘she is a beauty?’

I love to look on beauty … I love the eye candy that is pleasing to my visual senses. I love to see a beautifully decorated home (but I love more to know that it is indeed a home, and not just a house), I love to see the awesomeness of nature (but it is in the Creator that I am most impressed), I love to see family photos taken by a talented photographer (but it is in knowing that the family share the beauty of love that makes their eyes sparkle brightly). I believe that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and what the discriminating beholder sees most clearly is not the passing glance beauty, but the inner qualities of grace and confidence and openness.

It is also in a life lived fully that beauty emerges from the frame, from the pores, from the eyes and from the lips of a woman of real, genuine beauty. When a woman comes to the end of her years on planet Earth, when she has used up every day given to her, when she loves others beyond her own capacity to love … it is then that her beauty comes to surface.

I am no longer a youthful woman, with flawless physical beauty on my side (I do not think I ever had that). And yet, I feel more determined now than ever to live fully, to live passionately, to love beautifully. And my goal is that in forty or fifty years from now, my face is littered with the beauty marks of of something beautiful emerging from within … then I will be truly beautiful.

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I am getting old. I know this because when I look at magazine cover, I see youthful actresses in movies, I see lovely ladies advertise (usually their online ‘chat’ business) on television, and I turn away. And I turn away because I am past the ability to look as they do (and I do not have access to the air brushing that they do). I have come to the conclusion that even if I lost fifty (or eighty) pounds, even if my body was worked into a state of rock hard, even if I did everything possible (short of plastic surgery) I am beyond the ability to be the definition of what the world says is beautiful. Because I do not have the most important defining feature of beauty … youth.

As I am starting to get cozy with being in my forties, I am starting to see the world so differently. I am starting to see, and expand the definition of beauty differently.

Oh, I can walk down the street and have my eyes drawn to a beautiful young woman. Often though it is not her outward beauty that is what draws my eye. A physically beautiful woman can not even catch more than a passing glance if she does not walk confidently, shoulders back with her head high. There has to be something in that woman that says, ‘I am approachable’. There has to be something in her appearance that communicates to all around, that she is comfortable in her own skin, for those around to look at her and say, ‘she is beautiful’.

Or is it better put another way? Is it in her inner beauty coming out that her outer beauty can shine? When we pass a beautiful woman on the street, in the mall, at the market, do we see her outer beauty first, or do we see her confident head held high, that she is approachable, and that she is comfortable in her skin and something within us says ‘she is a beauty?’

I love to look on beauty … I love the eye candy that is pleasing to my visual senses. I love to see a beautifully decorated home (but I love more to know that it is indeed a home, and not just a house), I love to see the awesomeness of nature (but it is in the Creator that I am most impressed), I love to see family photos taken by a talented photographer (but it is in knowing that the family share the beauty of love that makes their eyes sparkle brightly). I believe that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and what the discriminating beholder sees most clearly is not the passing glance beauty, but the inner qualities of grace and confidence and openness.

It is also in a life lived fully that beauty emerges from the frame, from the pores, from the eyes and from the lips of a woman of real, genuine beauty. When a woman comes to the end of her years on planet Earth, when she has used up every day given to her, when she loves others beyond her own capacity to love … it is then that her beauty comes to surface.

I am no longer a youthful woman, with flawless physical beauty on my side (I do not think I ever had that). And yet, I feel more determined now than ever to live fully, to live passionately, to love beautifully. And my goal is that in forty or fifty years from now, my face is littered with the beauty marks of of something beautiful emerging from within … then I will be truly beautiful.

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