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Archive for the ‘women’ Category

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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Screen Shot 2018-04-17 at 6.53.50 AMEver wonder if someone is cursed? Maybe even yourself.

The story might go something like this: a person is born into a bad situation, lives their childhood with a parent or parents who do not care for or model love and care. They might end up homeless, abused and neglected.

How on Earth can they ever turn their situation, their life around, when it seems that everything and everyone in their life has gone wrong and they have been done wrong by people. One would think that this person has been cursed from the beginning.

Such might seem to be the case of Ieshia Champs.

This young woman, whose dad was deceased, and mom drug addicted dreamed a dream that was so far from her reality. She has experienced homelessness, teen pregnancy, dropped out of high school, experienced loss of a job, loss of her children’s dad to cancer, her home to fire and was near to the point of giving up on life itself.

Anyone who knew her, she herself, must have wondered if she was cursed.

Then a woman stepped in, her pastor, who told her to go back to school (that meant starting with her, unfinished, high school diploma), and study to become the lawyer she had dreamed of becoming when she was just a child.

And now she is set to graduate from law school.

There is so much more to this story.

This story is one of a woman being prompted, encouraged to fulfill what God had whispered into her heart, as a child, by one who did not just see possibility in her, but spoke it.

This story is one of a woman who has worked so hard, been determined, to reach her goal.

This story is one of a family of five young children, who helped their mamma with flash cards, being a mock jury, and her oldest son who would look after his little siblings needs, as his momma would cry tears of struggle for the process. (you’ve gotta see the beautiful images of her grad photos with her five children … please click and watch the video).

This story is also of faith, for Ieshia would seem to have a strong faith in God.

On her Facebook page is Jeremiah 1:5:

“The Lord who formed us,
knows for what particular services and purposes
he intended for us!”

This verse, part of the commissioning of young Jeremiah, by God, Ieshia has lived, herself. She understands that God has had his hand on her life and a plan for her life, even before she was born. She knows God, and she is purposing to follow him through it all.

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194510_10150155497290789_6484144_oHappy belated International Women’s Day.

I admit, I only knew that because the Google search bar told me. When I read that it was, sarcasm and cynicism crept into my mind.

“If we need an International day to celebrate it, to make us ‘special’, then we haven’t accepted equality in our own hearts, minds and souls.” (me)

Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that both genders are equal, should be paid equally for equal work, should be treated equally in society, should have opportunities equally, should be valued equally in terms of rights, in terms of value.

I just struggle when any group of individuals wants to be the headline of the day. Even if it is a group I belong to.

I believe that equality was modelled for us by Jesus himself (John 8:1-11), when a woman caught in the act of adultery (presumably with a man … but he wasn’t brought to Jesus).

The Pharisees, who brought her to him, said, “hey Jesus” (I hear baiting in their voices). Then they proceed  to remind Jesus that the Law of Moses (their law, his Law) says that such ‘persons’ should be stoned, and ask him what he says (they were trying to incriminate him in disobeying the Law).

Then Jesus goes all … silent, and writes in the sand … (AND NO ONE THOUGHT TO TAKE NOTE OF WHAT HE WROTE!) He stood up and said, “whoever here has never sinned, take the first shot at her.”

And they scatter, like all of them.

So, it’s just the woman caught in adultery and Jesus left.

He says to her, “where are they? Is there no one ready to throw stones at you?”

And she says, “no one, Master” (you could say this was her conversion experience).

 

So Jesus (probably shrugging) says, “neither do I. Go on your way.” (ahh, love it). 

Now the modern version might end there, but the story is incomplete with what he said after that …

 ” From now on, don’t sin.”

He didn’t patronize her with “poor you” talk. He didn’t bring up her tough upbringing, or difficult economic situation. What he did do was he called a spade a spade, to the ill-intended religious leaders, and to the woman before him. He treated them equally.

Actually, he didn’t. What Jesus did for this woman was more. He gave her a new and improved trajectory for her life. He led her to acknowledge that she had to accept responsibility for her own actions (something he didn’t bother doing with the son of a guns who used her … in more ways than one).

What Jesus did for this woman was to empower her to not be a victim of her circumstances. His attention and care for her empowered her right to freedom. He acknowledged her ability to choose a better future than her past.

To move away from the circumstances we are dealt with, to choose to live differently, to accept responsibility for the wrongs we, ourselves, have done … that is woman power!

 

 

 

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It started as a gift, IMG_1770

No …

it started as a surprise,

No …

it started as a wish,

No …

it started as a dream that I failed to have the imagination to dream.

As I boarded the Europe-bound airliner, I was steeping off of North American soil for the first time. My final destination, Florence, Italy, for La Dolce Vita Creative (Women’s) Retreat.

IMG_1157

Hubby had surprised me, at Christmas, with this amazing trip, but he was not alone, for the brilliant mind behind La Dolce Vita Creative Lifestyle Retreats also happens to be my sweet friend, Carolyn Peeler.

Carolyn is a most humble, capable and creative woman, with a confident gentleness that warms the cockles of ones heart, when in her presence.

So, in May of this year, I landed in Florence, checked into my accommodation, and entered into the most delightful adventure of my life.

What followed was beauty, the freshest of food flavours, welcoming people, history to see and touch and walk upon, unique items to purchase, classes to attend, and the most beautiful group of creative, welcoming, helpful and unforgettable women.

We were taught, nourished, entertained and our cups were ever-full (in every way).

We shopped at the market in Lucca, walked the streets of Siena, were given a cooking class and meal prepared by a Michelin chef, in the castle of a Count, we slept in the estate of a Renaissance-era home, with family ties to a Catholic Cardinal of the past. We toured churches, aged streets, arched alleyways, and met gifted artisans.

But, it was the individuals who attended the retreat which made it truly memorable.

It is just our unique and beautiful group who shared life in Tuscany for that week. We awoke each morning and complimented each other’s outfit for the day. Were enjoyed entertainment by our California-duo, who made us laugh ’til tears flowed down our cheeks. We shared in affection for the animals that lived on the estate. We worried for our friend who lost her purse, with many offering practical helps. We struggled to find the grid on our camera phones, create floral arrangements, and pick glass that broke in the swimming pool. We slowed our pace when walking with some, or availed our shoulder when a bus ride was long. We took pictures of each other, with each other. We shared bottles of local wine, and rushed excitedly to our rooms to see what treasures were left on our beds while we dined on local foods over a leisurely dinner. We supported each other when our back hurt, our head hurt or our heart ached. We hung our undies on the same clotheslines and saw that, in Italy, if you want to take a donkey home, there is no delay in it’s creation.

Returning home we were happy to reunite with those we love, but, like the finish of a dear novel, when it was over a part of us longed for the characters who we had so grown to care for, to love.

It was a divine appointment that we would all be there, together, for a week of wonder.

 

As the plane began to rise toward the sky, leaving Florence behind me, my eyes began to overflow, with longing for more, with longing to return to this place, and the magic that was created by Carolyn Peeler:

“I was dreaming about organizing and hosting my own international retreat. Each week has been different from the one before because of how attendees interact with each other, the special guests, and the experiences I have organized. It has been a blessing to meet women from around the world who show up with their hearts wide open to accept new friends, opportunities and challenges in the most wonderful way. This is what makes La Dolce Vita special… the women who set out on an adventure ready to embrace all that it is. For this, I am thankful – together we have made some lifelong memories!”

Today, at 9am PST, registration for La Dolce Vita Creative Lifestyle Retreat opens. May I recommend this retreat to you, from one creative soul to another. May I let you know that you will be so well cared for, so well loved.

But, may I warn you, it will change you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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IMG_1935

I sat in my vehicle, fatigued and elated, after the graduation ceremony for my son and his peers, and opened the envelope that was addressed … to me.

As I opened the card (to the left) I read the unexpected, encouraging words, from one mom to another. And the floodgates opened.

Although this day had been one of joy, pride and celebration, the week had been one of self doubt, regrets, and feelings of parental failure. And we all have those times, don’t we?

The words in this note card fed my momma heart. They nurtured my soul. They gave me reason to lift my head.

Really what they did was remind me that I am human. Sometimes I blow it, as a parent. Sometimes I get it right. Don’t we all live with this reality?

1 Thessalonians 5:11 reminds us,

encourage each other and build each other up,
just as you are already doing.” 

This little card, written by another momma, did that for me. This small token, it’s greatest value is not only in the words, but the fact that she made the effort to encourage.

Not only did it encourage me, but it also reminded me that I need to encourage others. Don’t we all need that?

So, thank-you friend, fellow mom who is travelling this unpredictable, windy road called parenting. You have encouraged me and your kind act fed my momma soul.

 

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iron-sharpens-iron

A coffee date to discuss ‘mom stuff’ left me feeling … sharpened.

Proverbs 27:17 tells us,

“as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” 

As I sat and listened to her speak, I heard the words, the voice, the language of my heart.

We talked about the wild and wonderful realities of parenthood, and life. We discussed our greatest struggles and our blessings. We laughed, agonized and were very real with each other.

It was that, being very real with each other, that sharpened my focus.

It is hard to make and create relationships that are real, that any topic can be discussed, and that it can be discussed honestly. To listen to someone speak, and know that you do not have to be guarded with your response is a most fulfilling experience.

To know that there is no elephant standing in the room … that is intimacy.

Did I mention that we had never spoken, beyond common greetings?

As I drove away from the coffee shop, I felt that I had been sharpened, that what is most important in my heart had been polished off, made more visible to my own eyes.

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Dear Moms …

It’s been a rough week.

You are tired … tired from the inside out. Tired from the pressures at work, tired because of the lessons, the practises, the hours in the minivan. You are tired because of the mountain of laundry, tired because you have so much you want to do as a mom, but there is so little time.

You are discouraged … discouraged by the world you see your kids growing up in. Discouraged by the instabilities, the lack of morals, the inconsistent lives of those in our world who we call leaders (both those on the big stage, and those who parent the peers of our kids).

It is Friday, Moms,

and the weekend is still looking … tiring … discouraging.

It is Friday, Moms,

but,

Sunday IS coming.

That old sermon, popularized by LM Lockridge and Tony Campelo, is based on the Easter story. The story of the darkness of the Friday we call Good, followed by the Sunday when we celebrate Christ’s victory over death.

Moms, let me tell you a secret,

it’s   not   just   an   Easter   story.

Christ did not overcome the one-way road to hell and death, for one day of celebration. He came, he died, he rose again so that everyday might be like Easter Sunday.

He redeemed death, through death, to life everlasting … every day.

Moms,

Do not be discouraged!

“Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged,
for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Joshua 1:9

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”
Isaiah 41:10

“Do not be afraid or discouraged,
for the LORD will personally go ahead of you.
He will be with you;
he will neither fail you nor abandon you.”
Deuteronomy 31:8

Moms,

He can give you the rest your need!

“Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him”
Psalm 37:7a

“”Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest.”
Matthew 11:28

It us Friday, Moms,

but,

Sunday IS coming!

“Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart
and with the full assurance that faith brings,
having our hearts sprinkled
to cleanse us from a guilty conscience
and having our bodies washed with pure water.

Hebrews 10:22

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