Rebuilding a Nation

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I have a friend who posted an article from Psychology Today on social media titled Politics and the Catastrophe of Us and Them. I’m giving you the link to the article but that wasn’t what caught my eye. This comment did: This is going to need to start at the top, with our leadership, as the article points out. I hope we can find a leader who sets a tone of unity in 2020.

I agree with the need for unity (or at the very least kindness in our differences). I disagree that it needs to start at the top or that we should have to wait until the next election that is almost two years away. Can you imagine what this nation will be like if everyone waits to see who the next president will be before we treat each other with some manner of dignity? Can you imagine if we all lived our lives based solely on the behavior of those in government? God help us.

So if not from the top, then where?

Got a mirror? Look in it. Right there is where it starts.

Do Your Part

Nehemiah shows us a little about how to rebuild a nation that was in great trouble and disgrace, a nation that was broken down. (Nehemiah 1:3NIV) After weeping, praying and fasting for the city of Jerusalem (there’s a whole lesson just in that) he travels there to help them get back on their feet. In fact, not only did he help them rebuild the entire wall around Jerusalem, he did it in 52 days. (Nehemiah 6:15) What a monumental task to perform and in such a short order!

How did he do it? He had people be responsible to repair the rubble that was immediately in front of them, everyone doing their small part. (Nehemiah 3) While the task of repairing a whole nation in ruins may seem insurmountable, what if we focused on repairing what was in our reach, our scope of vision?

What if we had conversations instead of arguments? Even if we don’t agree. What if we put aside that feud we’ve had with a church member, family member, coworker or friend for the greater good? Even if we think we’re right. What if we truly treated our neighbor as ourselves? Even if our neighbor isn’t like us.

You may not be able to vote on a bill on Capital Hill but you can treat Bill with kindness and respect. Right?

The Blame Game

Finger pointing is the oldest game in the Book, going all the way back to the garden of Eden when God asked Adam if he’d eaten the only tree that was forbidden and his reply was yeah but the woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree and I ate it. To which Eve responded, yeah but the serpent deceived me and I ate. (Genesis 3).

Yeah but…seems to be our mantra as well.

Maybe we should take a lesson from Rep-elect Dan Crenshaw when he took the high road after being on the butt end of a bad Saturday Night Live joke because of an eye patch he wears due to an injury sustained while in combat. He could have easily started a different kind of war; one no one would win in the end. Yeah but could have been his ammo if questioned about his battle tactic. Instead he accepted an apology from SNL and wants to work towards restoring civility.

I’d say he helped build up what was torn down directly in front of him. He did his part in responding with grace.

What about you? If you find yourself saying yeah but, maybe you are part of the problem.

Worry About Yourself

This leads right into a great story found in John 21:15-23 where Jesus is talking with Peter about the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. (v19). It was going to be a brutal one (v18). Peter, in turn, looks around, spots John and asks, what about him? (v21) Jesus replies, what is that to you? (v22, 23)

In essence, worry ‘bout yo-self!

At the end of the day we are responsible for our own selves. Our actions. Our words. Our responses. Our reparations. Our part in unifying. When we meet our Maker He will not ask us about somebody else’s choices. Only our own.

I don’t know about you but I want to be found on my part of the wall, not in 2020, not waiting for the next election cycle but today, right now, repairing and rebuilding, connecting and correcting, balancing and bettering not just for the good of this nation but for the glory of the God I serve.

Brick by brick.

kw

 

 

Election Hangover Elixir

It’s the day after Election Day. My phone has not blown up with texts and voicemails telling me who to vote for. My mailbox has normal mail in it…I’ve never been so happy to see junk mail that was fliers from stores and not a politician. Anybody else ready to see a couple sitting in bathtubs on a beach talking about ED rather than all the politicians bashing each other?

Some of you went to bed last night with a renewed spirit and some of you woke up this morning thinking Jesus was going to be coming back today because surely this is it.

I spent half the day at the salon doing something new….

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I am no longer a “foil virgin”…whoa Nellie was this a process!

The timing was unplanned perfection and it gave me time to start reading The Ministry of Ordinary Places by Shannan Martin. Oh man! I was only eleven pages in and she said this one sentence that wrapped up my million thoughts…

The loudest revolutions often begin so quietly, so unassumingly near the ground that most don’t bother to notice. I won’t speak for you, but surrounded by cynics, worrywarts, doomsday prophets, and Facebook apologists with their lofty solutions, I’d rather be a hope-holder with mud on my shoes.

 All day long, you guys. All the dang day long.

I don’t want to be a cynical, worrier who walks around with Eyore as her closest compadre and who thinks she has simple answers to complex issues. Nope. But as a believer I am never without hope. It’s my election hangover elixir.

As I was covered in tin foil and cooking in some new color, I thought about what a holder of hope looks like. I came up with this little acronym…

Heart. As in check it before you wreck it. This election cycle has done much to plant seeds of bitterness and hatred. Make sure your heart hasn’t become fertile ground to grow both. Harvesters of hope start with their own hearts first, tiling the ground, weeding the unwanted and planting seeds of grace and goodness.

Opportunities are everywhere! Don’t hold back doling out doses to everyone you meet! You don’t have to look far to see someone without hope or who is discouraged, down, and distraught. Let’s be known as the cocktail doctor of all things good and kind and patient and loving and…well, you get the picture.

Pray. For those who agree with us. And those who do not. For those who are our friends. And those who are not. For those we voted for. And those we did not.  If for every time we felt the need to put someone down, trash talk or say awful things about people, what if we lifted them in prayer? Instead of searching for a mean meme, what if we bend the knee? Whoa. Game changing stuff right there.

Encourage each other. Our words matter. Both written and verbal. The next time you post something or say something ask yourself: does it lift up or tear down. Does it heal or hurt? Does it mend or maim? Am I posting on social media to simply start a fire or to soothe a soul? Is it helpful to a cause or cause a fight? Am I hearing what you’re saying or preparing my retort?

Holders of hope don’t hoard. They don’t stand with fists clinched. Their hands and hearts are open wide offering optimism in the face of pessimism, faith in the face of fear, love in the face of hate, light in the face of darkness. Because as believers….

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. (Hebrews 6:19)

Maybe it’s the tin foil talking or the heat of the dryer but I want to be a hope-holder with mud on my shoes.

 How about you?

Thank you Shannan Martin for that one little sentence on page eleven and thank you Dawn for my new do…

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Back to my original color. 🙂

kw

I Loathe Blanket Statements

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When my kiddos were younger we had a rule that we weren’t to use the words never or always. As in you never let me do anything or you always take his side. While it may seem that way sometimes, very rarely are never/always statements true. In fact they can be suffocating, taking the oxygen right out of a conversation.

A close cousin to always and never is “all.” It is precarious to make blanket statements using the word all like an umbrella that neatly fits everyone under one space. Here are a couple I’ve seen floating around…

All Women Should Automatically Be Believed

Before your panties get all wadded up, hear me out. I am an advocate for women. I want to see women succeed. I want to see women heard. I want no woman to be abused or neglected or made to feel unloved, incompetent or undeserving.

But it’s a dangerous thing to say that someone should be believed simply based on her gender alone. As if women are not capable of lying. That’s a slippery slope on a road to no good. Every single one of us (male and female) has within them the ability to lie.

It’s a tale as old as time. Potiphar’s wife lied when Joseph refused to sleep with her. (Genesis 39) Moses’ family did it to keep him alive. (Exodus 2) Corrie Ten Boom hid Jews in her home to keep them from being sent to horrific concentration camps. There have been court cases that have made national news of women who have lied about being assaulted (think Duke lacrosse.) I have seen firsthand the destruction caused by fabricated stories.

Whatever the reason (either for the saving of some or the destruction of others) the point here is that women had and will continue to have the capability to lie. We are broken people living in a fallen world. So to say women are to be believed simply because they are women is unhealthy and unwise.

All Men are Pigs

I get it. I really do. We are bombarded with news of more women coming forward with stories of abuse. It’s horrendous and I hate it. I have my own story that I’ve shared bits and pieces of as well. That’s why I understand how easy it is for the pendulum to swing towards this blanket statement.

It took me many years to not see a white man with a God awful tight perm and assume he was a child molester. For a very long time cigar smoke made me go into fight or flightmode. But not every man who smokes a cigar abuses women.

There are kind men in the world. Decent men, who respect women and who are just as abhorred at the thought of women being abused, neglected and treated unfairly. They just don’t usually make the evening news because kindness doesn’t get ratings.

I’ve seen much name calling on social media feeds. Women who hate being called names but who in turn name call. Doesn’t that make you the very thing you are shouting out against…a name caller?

My grandsons play that game. One calls one a bozo so the other one shouts back that they are not a bozo and proceeds to call the original name caller a poopy-faced bozo. Take that why don’t ya! Things quickly spiral out of control and they both get in trouble while continuing to finger point and name call all the way to time out.

Are we not more mature than four and five year olds?

Sigh…

What are we to do?

First, avoid using blanket statements. Nothing snuffs out a conversation like using the words always, never and all. It will put defenses up and walls built. (We don’t need a president to build the walls, we are doing a great job at building them ourselves and keeping each other out.)

Second, be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves. (Matthew 10:16NLT) That is to say be prudent yet straightforward. Jesus prefaced that with, Stay alert. This is hazardous work I’m assigning you. You’re going to be like sheep running through the wolf pack…(Matthew 10:16 MSG) Man did he know what he was talking about!

Third, stop with the tit for tat. Choose to rise above the noise and go do something for someone who needs hope in humanity. Show someone love and respect and kindness.

Want to really hurt your (perceived) enemy? Feed him if he’s hungry. Give him a drink if he’s thirsty. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head and the Lord will reward you. (Proverbs 25:21-22)

Today. Do it today.

(Is that the smell of singed hair from burning coals of kindness? Yes and amen!!)

kw

 

 

Not Your Standard Measure

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When I was just a little bitty girl I would sit at the kitchen table and watch my Granny whip up all kinds of goodies. Cookies, cakes, crust for pies, noodles, potpie, apple turnovers, bread, rolls…you name it, she could bake it.

When I got above knee high she would let me practice by giving me some of the left over pie dough to which I kneaded and balled up and rolled out with the fervor of a young Julia Childs. Add some melted butter with a sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar, roll that up, slice into pinwheels and bake it for a delicious treat. (That is if I hadn’t played with the dough too much….Granny still ate it like it was blue-ribbon-at-the-county-fair quality. Bless.)

Fast-forward a couple of decades and I wished I’d paid more attention as a teenager. Instead of dishing out a cup of sass, I should have written a few things down step-by-step. There’s something about having a hankering for one of Granny’s desserts and not remembering exactly how she did it.

Several years ago, on a fall day much like we’re having here in the Midwest, I was in the mood for her sweet potato pie so I called her. She was now in a nursing home, her days of baking long past because arteritis had taken her sight except for seeing some shadows. I wasn’t sure if she’d remember the recipe from decades ago but much to my delight she did!

There was one problem…she didn’t use a standard measuring cup to measure out anything. She used a coffee mug. And even then never filled it past full, never careful to tap the side and get the air out,  didn’t scrape the excess off the top with a butter knife. How did she know how much she used? She measured by “cup and feel”; I needed rocket science precision.

I was afraid if I didn’t use the standard way of measuring, my pie would be a disaster; I would be a failure because I didn’t measure the right way.

Sounds dramatic, doesn’t it?

I’ve been thinking a lot about that conversation lately and Granny using her own method to measure. There’s a deeper lesson to be learned. It’s easy to use the world’s standard of measure to determine whether we are winners or losers, whether we have worth or are worthless, whether we are a favorite or a failure.

Take for instance the scales….groan…I know, I know! The scale is a measurement in pounds of what your body weighs. It is a guideline for health. It is NOT a measure of your value. Do we want to be healthy? Absolutely! But don’t confuse your weight with your worth.

Being single doesn’t mean you aren’t seen. Marriage doesn’t make you greater. Divorce doesn’t mean you’re less than.  All three can be or are hard. None of them makes us any more or less worthy of love and acceptance.

I’ve been both a working and a stay-at-home Mom. Both have pros and cons. Both are hard in different ways. Neither should be my plumb line for purpose. Nor yours. Why? Jobs/careers can change on a dime. Pink slips can be given without warning. Kids grow up, become adults, and venture out into the world on their own (as they should!) If the measure of who I am is based on the above then my value is one fifth of what it once was because I’m down to one kid living at home and I haven’t worked a paying job for 15 years. No. My value isn’t based on my career outside or inside the home.

Speaking of kids, we should never measure the quota of our competency based solely on their successes or failures. I know kids who come from terrible situations but are determined to beat the odds and succeed. Others who come from beautiful families that do everything they can to be great parents, but have kids who choose to take a destructive path.  If the measure of who I am is based off of my own kids’ wins and losses then there would be times when my value was through the roof and others when it was in the tank.

Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram and a host of other social media outlets are not benchmarks for our own beauty, brains or bravery. Scroll through on any given day and see picture perfect, then look around and see how it makes you feel. I have many Pinterest attempts that were a bust. Others that were helpful. Some days/seasons I’m fine, others I watch how much screen time I allow myself because it is very easy to compare my movie reel to someone’s snapshot. Our “real” to someone’s carefully construed contortion can often leave us feeling lonely, left out and lacking.

The measure of who I am and who you are is not based on the world’s standard of measure. No. We are each created in the image of the One who sees us, hears us and loves us right where we are. Today. No matter the number on the scale. In your successes and failures. No matter if you have Miss, Mrs. or Ms. in front of your name. No matter if your kids are angels, prodigals or in juvenile detention. Whether your movie is a mess or picture perfect. You are his beloved and he delights in you!

My Granny may have been on to something. Grab a mug and offer the world a better standard.

kw

Taking Care of You During High Trigger Times

 

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I was turning into the last quarter of a six-mile walk when I spotted two construction trucks lining the road. They were parked in front of a house that sat a bit further than midway down a cul-de-sac. I stopped dead in my tracks as I watched the men go back and forth from their trucks to the outdoor project they were working on.

Do I dare keep walking my usual route?

I’ve walked this particular neighborhood many times, know several people who live in it and lovingly call it the ‘hood because it’s anything but with its beautiful homes on spacious, large lots. I always feel safe walking there, even when I’m alone.

Not today.

My thoughts were all over the place. From: I will not let them dictate where I will and will not walk. It’s the middle of the day for Pete’s sake. To: don’t be stupid, be safe. Turn around and walk away. Back to: you give them the power if you walk away. You can always scream you’re on your period if they try something. (side note: this was something a cop told a group of ladies to say at a defense class many years ago.) To: if something were to happen you know people will blame you. After all, why would you walk down a road by yourself knowing there are men there?

All those thoughts in a matter of seconds. I looked around at the houses on the rest of the street and there was not a neighbor or dog outside so I turned and walked away disappointed, angry, confused.

I finished the six-miles (except for that one little bit) but not without realizing we aren’t as far as we’d like to think in this world. Maybe we haven’t come a long way baby. I’d like to tell you this was many years ago instead of this past summer but I can’t.

For the rest of the walk I had flashes of things that I had put to rest long ago…

Like being disappointed in myself for letting them/him “win”.

Like berating myself for not having my phone with me at all times. Just in case. Just because. There may be a man. In the middle of the day. In a safe neighborhood. Or in my childhood home so I could swim.

Like telling myself I deserved what I got for having a bathing suit on when I was molested as a young teen. Never mind the fact that I had just come in from swimming. I was told that if I hadn’t been dressed like that…

So I exchanged the swimsuit for a cloak of shame that I wore until my early 30’s when a therapist told me it didn’t matter what I was wearing, what happened to me was wrong. He had no right to violate me. Period.

I should be able to swim in a bathing suit just like I should be able to walk down a cul-de-sac where construction workers are working without fear of being hurt. Without men justifying bad behavior or others excusing it because I’m the one who should know better.

I’m sharing this with you because this triggering, these thoughts, happened on a bright sunny day as I was doing something I love to do in a safe neighborhood. It caught me by surprise. But that’s what triggers do sometimes even after years of therapy.

I can only imagine what the news and social media outlets are doing to trigger some of you who are reading this. You can’t scroll through Facebook or watch the news lately without seeing loud opinions on both sides….I Believe Her. Confirm Kavanaugh Now. She’s a liar. He’s a rapist pig.…have brought out emotions, finger pointing and a marathon blame game of he-said, she-said played under the big top of Barnum and Bailey’s circus.

This post isn’t about that or even them.  It’s about you who may be tempted to put that cloak back on, blame or berate yourself or send yourself down a spiral of no good.

Take care of you. The counselor I see off and on now will ask at the beginning of each session how I’m doing in three areas: mind, body and spirit because all three make up the whole you and all three are important.

Here are some things I’ve been doing in each area to keep myself healthy during this high trigger time:

Mind. Turn off the news and put your phone down. I like to stay informed and want to know what’s going on too but I can watch for ten minutes and find out what I need to know. Social media was nothing but exhausting and had me so worked up mentally with all the name calling so I stopped scrolling. Watch a movie, read a book, meditate, pray, make affirmation cards, take a nap, take a class, look at recipes, have coffee/lunch/dinner with a friend…anything to engage the mind in a positive way.

Body. Get up and move. Get the positive endorphins going. Did you know you can’t be angry/depressed while you exercise? Ask a friend to take a walk in the park. Get outside. Breathe in some fresh air. Get your hands in the dirt. Take your shoes off and walk in the grass. (There is scientific evidence that this grounds you and there are microbials in the dirt that helps combat depression!) Eat healthy. It’s so easy to eat junk while mindlessly watching the news circus or scrolling through social media. Watch your alcohol intake. By watch I mean limit. Get the right amount of sleep for you and your body.

Spirit. Be still. Light a candle. Drink some tea. Read through the Psalms or Proverbs. Start a Bible study. Go to church. Connect with a small group. Serve others in some way…a nursing home, preschool, animal shelter or hospital. Volunteer somewhere. Write your favorite scriptures on a note card. Fresh sheets and new jammies are always a good thing.

Last but not least ask for help if you need it. Talk to someone, a friend, pastor or counselor.

You matter.

kw

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sticky Notes of Goodness

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You are good and the source of good; train me in your goodness. (Psalm 119:68MSG)

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect as I walked into the home of a couple that had been given dire news. He had recently been diagnosed with a brain tumor and given a poor prognosis. We were all reeling from the shock of it ourselves as just a few weeks prior he was teaching our Sunday school class with the depth of a scholar and the passion of one who knew what it was to be forgiven.

His study desk had been replaced with a hospital bed, an IV pole stood where his lampstand once did, medicine bottles lined a side table and there he lay. She told me he wanted to be in the same room where he met the Lord each morning to read, pray and study, knowing he would soon meet him face to face.

As I was walking from the study, down the hall, through the living room to the kitchen to put away the food I had brought, I noticed something…sticky notes….on the walls, the furniture, the countertops, the cabinets, in the bathroom…they were everywhere. Some had just a word or two; others were completely filled.

She and I sat down to have some coffee and conversation and I asked her about the sticky notes. She shared with me that this had been the hardest thing she had ever had to face and yet God was showing his goodness in all sorts of ways. She started writing them down on sticky notes as reminders when she was feeling extra sad or overwhelmed.

I walked out of there having learned something that would remain with me through some of my own difficulties and disasters, headaches and heartbreaks, faults and fears, turbulence and tears.

The goodness of God is immutable which is a fancy pants word meaning unchanging over time.

God is good even when…

I am not. I used to think God was only good to me when I was good. That somehow my behavior determined his goodness towards me. And yet, while I was still a sinner, Christ died for me. (Romans 5:8)

God is good even when…

Others are not. People can be mean. We can feel unwelcome, uninvited and unseen. God doesn’t pick sides. In his goodness, he welcomes, invites and sees each one of us. Look for the goodness. It’s there. He’s there.

God is good even when…

Our prayers aren’t answered the way we think they should be or in the time frame we wish they were. God is good. And God is good at being God. I am a work in progress but I’m learning to sticky note his goodness along the way of waiting.

God is good even when…

Life is not. There have been so many things that have happened since that day in Shirl’s living room 20 some years ago. Hard things. Long periods of time where I wasn’t sure what the outcome would be. Loss, sickness, devastation, marriage stuff, kid stuff, family stuff, health scares, you name it.

God’s goodness remains steadfast through it all. We can experience peace and joy no matter what, not because life is always good but because God is.

I’m not sure what made me think about this time with Shirl and Bud. Maybe I need to get my sticky notes back out. Maybe you’re going through some stuff right now and need to get some sticky notes of your own.

God is good.

Always.

kw

 

Two F Words and a Book Review (Part 2)

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When sleeping women wake, mountains move. (Chinese Proverb)

There was a special section in the Cincinnati Enquirer Sunday paper last week titled 1968 The Year That Transformed the Nation which intrigued me so I read through it. One part in particular caught my eye: “Radical Women” find their voice, which is about a young woman tired of the patriarchy and feeling silenced so she decided once and for all to put the “act” in “activist.”

My first thought was, why should it be considered “radical” for a woman to want to be heard? Doesn’t everyone? My second was, have we made much progress in the past 50 years?

My friend Barb, who has lived a lot of life, made this comment with regard to part one of this two part series, So many of us have walked this path much of our lives. At less movement than a snail’s pace, this culture is beginning to change but you have to really search to see any of those minuscule changes. 

Because three of our five kids are strong, independent thinking women, I was a teensy bit taken aback at my man’s (their father’s) reaction of Oh, Lord, when I was talking about the book by Sarah Bessey called Jesus Feminist.

I get it. The word feminist conjures up all manner of images with the most recent being a handful (in the scope of the whole) of women marching for equal rights wearing vee-jay-jay costumes and hoo-ha hats on top of their heads.

Or maybe you envision a group of women sitting around a bon fire, smoking cigars, drinking bourbon, bashing the boys and burning their bras like a bunch of angry hussies.

To each their own but I don’t care for bourbon and I certainly don’t want to burn my bra. What I would like is to trade the ill-fitting, uncomfortable underwire that pierces in places it shouldn’t for a sports variety that will help me run my race well.

Feminism at its core simply consists of the radical notion that women are people, too. Feminism only means we champion the dignity, rights, responsibilities, and glories of women as equal in importance—not greater than, but certainly not less than—to those of men, and we refuse discrimination against women. (Jesus Feminist page 13 Kindle edition)

Don’t give this word away my church going gals. It’s meant for us too. Jesus leveled the playing field by treating us with dignity and respect. He listened to, loved on, taught, honored, walked beside, challenged, wept for, worked with, defended, talked directly to, met and included us. Women, just like you and me, in a culture that did not value females

If you look at the essence of the meaning, Jesus was and is a feminist. He is for women. Talk about radical.

What about this snail pace culture and in particular within the church? I don’t think there’s one pat answer. As people of faith, we sift our theology through Scripture, Church history and tradition, our reason and our own experience. (Jesus Feminist page 57 Kindle edition) We need to keep having conversations where we can. That snail will eventually get to where she needs to go.

In the meantime, we live out our calling by using the gifts and talents God gave us. I ended part one with this: Something I’ve learned (and I’m still learning) through the years, I kept waiting for an invitation to sit at the table when really the Table has been waiting for me to take my seat. I didn’t need a man to help me fulfill my calling because I answer to the call of one Man….Jesus.

I lost several years sitting in a pew being angry, hurt and confused thinking I couldn’t do kingdom work because I had tunnel vision that it was synonymous with church work. There’s a whole lot of kingdom outside the walls. The same God who gave you those gifts and talents will open the doors for you to use them, if you look for opportunities.

I got this text from a good friend of mine who works as a court advocate for abused women: The table (outside of the church) is so long & wide. I would not have found my seat here if my main focus was “church ministry.”

We don’t have to be a pastor to be a minister. We can choose to minister each and every day. To our families. To our neighbors. To the sick. To the shut-ins. To the Mom who is struggling. To the wife whose husband left. To the one whose diagnosis is scary. Maybe you’re the CEO of a major corporation or you may be in a season of ministry where those you are ministering to has jelly on their face and sticky fingers. Do it with all the gusto!

We don’t have to be behind a pulpit to preach the good news. We can choose to “preach” by clothing the naked, offering a drink, visiting the one imprisoned (oh these can mean so many things!), working in a homeless shelter, giving out of our abundance to those who have nothing, tutoring kids, and being kind (for goodness sake!). The world is dying for some Good News!

We have to stop waiting to get the nod when God has given the green light to go. You matter! You have worth and value and a voice and a place where you are called beloved by God.

I am surrounded by strong women. Women who are entrepreneurs, pilots, stay-at-home Moms, working Moms, foster Moms, nurses, doctors, advocates, law-enforcement, business owners, students, communicators, administrators, clerks, clergy, teachers and more! Do it Soli Deo gloria! For the Glory of God alone!

I swiped the last page of this book being proud to be a woman, an image bearer of the One who sees me! This book made me shout a few hallelujahs and hell-yeahs. I don’t want to burn my bra. I want to blaze a trail!

I am a Jesus Feminist.

kw

Two F Words and a Book Review (Part 1)

 

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It takes courage to grow up and turn out to be who you really are. (E.E. Cummings)

I don’t even know where to begin. I’m having all the feels this month after reading two books with differing points of view. So I guess I’ll just dive right in. They both have to do with women; how God sees them and the roles they play.

The first one I read was Women of God by Kathleen Nielson. Her view is a (whole) lot more conservative and one in which I cut my spiritual teeth on. While there are some parts and pieces I agree with, there is just something about the overall theme that doesn’t sit well. I didn’t turn the last page basking in the joy of being a woman or feel encouraged to exercise my gifts. In fact, her words brought back memories…

I don’t remember the exact year but it’s been at least 15 years ago. I was sitting in the evening service (because we went Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night so as not “to miss a blessing”) and felt the need to go forward and let my church know that I felt a call into full time ministry, something I had been feeling for several weeks.

When the men in the church would go forward to announce this, the pastor would have the deacons come up and lay hands on the man, pray over him, ask for God’s anointing and for the church to pray for and congratulate him on his decision to do kingdom work. I was expecting the same. So I went forward and it went something like this…

What is it you’re coming forward for this evening?

 I feel called into full-time ministry.

 You what?

 I feel called into full-time ministry. I don’t know exactly what it looks like. I just know I can’t ignore it anymore.

 He grabbed my hands and we bowed our heads but instead of praying he said…

Call the office and set up a meeting with me this week. We need to talk this through because I’m not exactly sure what God would be calling you to do.

I turned around and walked back to my seat looking like I simply needed an answer to prayer instead of answering a call. On the way back down the aisle, I passed people peeking at me with pity instead of proud that I was fulfilling a purpose.

No acknowledgment. No laying on of hands. No celebration of someone wanting to do God’s work.

I did meet with him the following week and he was ready to offer up several ideas of what fulfilling this call may look like. He listened as I shared that I wanted to write and teach Bible studies, to do some speaking and encourage people, especially women, to be all that God had gifted them to be. I wanted every woman to understand her value and worth comes from a heavenly Father who is crazy about them. To his credit, he did let me share my desire to use my gifts of teaching and shepherding before letting me know the preschool department could use some volunteers. I could also help out in the office a couple days a week. Would I be willing to start there and see where God leads?

After all, if I’m truly called, I will do whatever needs done.

I’m not above doing any job. In fact I had been volunteering in several areas. But I felt called to do something more, something different…to teach and dare I say preach the good news. The problem was, I’m not quite sure he knew what to do with me because I was female and women didn’t have leadership/teaching roles outside of the children’s area.

So I signed up for more slots in the preschool department. I was faithful to come whenever the doors were open helping where I could. I sat in the seat Sunday after Sunday but instead of fulfilling my call, I felt forgotten. I knew in my heart God was calling me to something more but it didn’t fit inside the box of what was allowed….at least not there. My round peg didn’t fit that square hole. Was I wrong? Would God call me to do something outside of the parameters of scripture? I didn’t think so. So why did I feel like I was the one who had done something bad?

While we still love the people who attend this church, we found it just wasn’t a good fit for us any more. It’s been at least 15+ years but those feelings bubbled to the surface the more I read Women & God. I closed the book feeling like a heavy cloak had been thrown over me.

I want to be like the once blind man when the Jews were questioning him and arguing about whether or not Jesus was a fake. He replied, I know nothing about that one way or the other. But I know one thing for sure: I was blind…I now see. (John 9:25 MSG) 

There are arguments on both sides of this coin. The thing of it is, I don’t want to argue. I just want to have the freedom to work side by side, doing great stuff for God, with everyone (male and female) walking in his or her giftedness….

…not feeling forgotten because forgotten is no way to feel.

Something I’ve learned (and I’m still learning) through the years, I kept waiting for an invitation to sit at the table when really the Table has been waiting for me to take my seat. I didn’t need a man to help me fulfill my calling because I answer to the call of one Man….Jesus. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

kw

 

 

When Life Throws You Zingers

I had to chuck a chicken this morning. My man warned me one wasn’t doing well so I wasn’t surprised when I went out to feed them today and she was laying face first in the mud. But I hate it, nonetheless. I grabbed my shovel, scooped her up and walked out as far into the field as I could and hurled her with all my might. Sigh.

I walked back around the corner by the beehives and noticed minimal to no activity. They were just buzzing beautifully last week. I opened up the side window to see what was going on….silence…that’s what was going on…absolutely nothing.

My garden is experiencing what I call summer time sadness. Weeds have taken over, the green bean plants are half bunny eaten, the cucumbers are drying up, the zucchinis are pitiful, the corn stalks look ready for fall décor, the lima plants need pulled. Winter is coming.

My neck of the woods is feeling a little decapitated this morning. Maybe you know the feeling.

Then I noticed something as I was turning around to head towards the garden gate, a spot of hope, a ray of light…

The Zinnias are still blooming. 

I had a choice. I could focus on all the things that have gone wrong today (already). Or I could look for the zinnias. I could let a million things get me down. Or I could see the beauty before me in the midst of the million.

Interestingly, I had to look up to see it. The zinnias were standing head and shoulders above the sad surroundings of the rest of the garden.

I know, I know. I’m not trying to be a perky Pollyanna who’s blowing heart shaped happy out of her hookah pipe. Life can be hard. Way harder than a dead chicken, bees and plants.

When life zaps you with zingers, look for the zinnias. They are everywhere if we would only look up, beyond our circumstance, above the noise, shining bright and offering a hand.

As a woman of faith, sometimes my Zinnias look like…

Prayer. Because God knows I enter that closet not because I’m super spiritual and strong but because I’m just the opposite.

Scripture. His word is powerful. Don’t discount it. Read it. Do it. Memorize it. Meditate on it.

Meditation. Stilling the mind is a practice that must be perfected so when life sends a colony of stinger zingers, I can quiet the buzzing. (Don’t give this away as some Eastern voodoo kind of thing.)

Zinnias can also look like… 

Coffee with a friend who is safe for you. There is something about being heard and validated that gives you the strength to keep going.

Being a friend. Sometimes when we ourselves are struggling it helps to help someone else. It gets us out of our own funk.

A counselor or pastor. It’s okay to say you’re not okay. It’s okay to seek professional help because sometimes the venom from stings just gets in too deep.

A note given or a note received. Ever gotten a letter, text, card, shout out, word, encouragement (whatever form of communication you choose) at the exact moment you needed one? Ever sent one having no idea how badly the recipient needed to hear it?

A meal, a visit, a smile, a hug, a pat, an understanding, a reassurance, a laugh, a cry, a kindness.

These are all Zinnias.

Then there’s this little thing called gratitude. It sure sounds lame as you’re looking at that stinger pulsating its venom. But there’s something about having an attitude of gratitude.

Renowned cognitive neuroscientist and brain expert, Dr. Caroline Leaf says, when you are thankful your brain releases nerve growth factors that help change the brain (neuroplasticity.)

 Thankfulness is like plastic surgery for your attitude and it’s free!

 Research expert and author, Dr. Brene’ Brown says, There is no joy without gratitude and joy collected over time fuels resilience.

 While your circumstances may not change right away, your way of thinking can. Who doesn’t want to build resilience (that bounce back ability) to zingers? One of the ways we do this is by finding something (anything) to be grateful for in whatever our circumstance.

When life throws you zingers, look up! There’s a zinnia close by.

kw

 

 

What We Have Here…

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It’s Monday morning and I just read the Sunday paper. It’s not something I typically do. We get the paper for the coupons and I like to do the crossword puzzles. Keeps the mind active. As I was looking for the section that always has the puzzles, a headline caught my eye, so I read it, which led me to the second one.

The first, titled Life Becomes Tabloid Nightmare for Family was about a high school senior who gave birth two days after her prom and proceeded to bury the newborn in her backyard, spring of 2017. There are speculations and the investigation is still going on. Some say the baby was alive. Some say it was stillborn. Some say she buried the infant to protect her reputation. The parents deny knowing she was pregnant. Reports say the body was dismembered. The whole thing is disturbing.

What kind of person does this?

The second article was 4:28 of Terror and Heroism, which gave a play-by-play account of a shooting that happened in downtown Cincinnati just last week. It was just a regular workday until a random guy decides to walk into a lobby and start shooting. One woman was hit as she was walking into work, already on a conference call, clueless to what was going on. The shooter kept firing at her. She was shot twelve times in all. She survived but three others did not.

What kind of person does that?

God help us.

I went about the rest of the day with these stories laying heavy on my heart and images that cannot be unseen in my mind. Both stories are vexing. Why didn’t I stick with coupons and crosswords?

How have we come to care so little about the sanctity and sacredness of human life, no matter the age, race or gender? How have we come to a place where our reputations become more important than the life we carry inside us? How can we be so angry and harbor such hate that we can walk into a lobby (or gay bar or anywhere for that matter) and gun people down? How do you look into the face of another person and shoot them twelve times total?

The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful, a puzzle that no one can figure out. (Jeremiah 17:9 MSG)

I know there are complex answers to the why. There’s all manner of details we won’t (and may never) know. Background, history, evidence, truth. I don’t begin to understand it all or know the right answer. People will argue every angle. Then argue some more.

Politicians and lawmakers will carpe diem(!)and make you believe they are fighting for you. But if we think they, who ooze corruption, hold the answers, we are sorely mistaken. I’m on your side, said the spider to the fly.

I’m not here to argue gun control and freedom of rights. I’m not here to have a row about Roe v. Wade. Though I think we should be able to have commonsense conversations about these things….

What if what we have here is an issue of the heart?

A lobbyist could not change the dark heart of the man in the lobby that day. Only God could. A lawmaker cannot change the heart of a deceived young woman who hid, had then buried her newborn. Only God can.

What about you and me? We, too, have hearts that are easily deceived, capable of all manner of things. Oh, we may not shoot someone in the literal sense but we shoot people down if their opinions differ from us. We use words as weapons and the argument about who’s right keeps the pot stirred and anger brewing.

And Satan has an absolute cackle over it.

What if I asked the Lord to  help me care more about sharing the good news of the gospel then to lobby for my leanings? What if you did too?

What if I asked the Lord to spotlight any darkness in my own heart? What if you did too?

What if I asked the Lord to see others as He sees them? What if you did too?

What if I asked the Lord to create in me a clean heart and steadfast Spirit (Psalm 51:10)? What if you did too?

God help us, he will. As only God can.

kw

Shout out to the law enforcement officers who were there in Cincinnati. You’re bravery and quick action saved many people that day.