We Wash Feet

I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.

Archive for the category “Women’s Ministry”

Where Are All the Heroes?

I enjoy reading and posting updates on Facebook.  With a modest number of friends most of my posts receive a few likes by friends and a comment or two now and then. My more popular posts having 20-30 likes, so when I have a post that skyrockets over that 30 ceiling, I tend to take a second look.

I recently posted this:

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Why did this post about my husband repairing our central heat and air receive 124 likes or reactions?  I didn’t attach a picture or meme. I didn’t tag anyone.  What was it about cheering on my husband that resonated with my FB friends more than the things I normally share? Why don’t I see more of “I have an awesome man for a husband” type posts in my newsfeed? Men have taken a tough blow over this last decade or two. Just think about it, you can honestly not watch a single commercial or television show without a man being portrayed as weak, ignorant, deadbeat, or unable to control their thoughts or actions. Why am I, like so many others, silent at this onslaught of negative and demeaning characterizations of today’s man? There is something wrong happening here. The men I know are not like this. My husband, sons, dad, uncles, nephews, and various male friends are none of those things. They are strong, intelligent, involved, and self-controlled. So why are men generalized to be less than? What has happened to our heroes, brave warriors, our white hats who ride in and save the day?

Before I go a step forward with these thoughts, you need to know I am a self-confident, educated, and driven Christian woman. I know who I am and where I am going. I make my own choices and live with the consequences, successes and failures.  I’m all for equality and women’s rights and it breaks my heart when I hear of the mistreatment of my sisters.  It turns my stomach when I read about women and children forced into slave sex trafficking. I get angry when I hear about the victims of female genital mutilation, domestic abuse, rape and worse. These things are evil.  These things are not part of God’s plan for His girls.  God has a beautiful plan and design for His girls, just read Proverbs 31 if you doubt God doesn’t want His girls to be self-confident, driven and successful.

I hear so much about breaking through the infamous glass ceiling, rising above past discriminations, and propelling forward for our sisterhood everywhere. I read about women’s rights, equality and liberation. I was born in the seventies so women’s liberation was noticeable, part of classroom discussions, common. As a young women in my junior year at university, I took a class entitled “Spirituality for Women.” Naively, I was expecting a class focused on our Christian walk, after all I was at a private Catholic university, but instead the agenda was more of a recruitment to embrace feminism.  A blessed sister of the Catholic church, hell bent on proving that the female was superior to the male, not to mention her right to enter the priesthood, gave me my first sampling of feminism. It was bitter water. It didn’t take long to realize the misguided direction of her anger. Please don’t misunderstand me here, I believe women should have every opportunity afforded to men but here is where I differ. I do not need to climb over, step on or dismember manhood because I was born female.  Trust me!  I sing my own version of the old commercial’s jingle just fine! I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan!  And I make sure, my husband doesn’t forget he’s a man!

For the sake of saving my husband from embarrassment, let’s get back to the point:

In our pursuit of women’s liberation, we began to shout, “I don’t need to be rescued, I’m not a damsel in distress, I’ve got this.” We empowered little girls everywhere to dress up like princesses and save themselves, their kingdoms, and their subjects! Go Girls!  And that isn’t a bad thing in itself but with those same cries we began to hush the boisterous, loud excitement of competitive games of tag, kickball and foot races, we broke apart the friendly wrestling matches on the school playground and in our backyards. We began to strip away the toy weapons, tiny soldiers and masked heroes from our sons. We awarded participation ribbons and declared them all winners! When our young boys didn’t comply, we diagnosed them, medicated them and wondered why our sons are so, so, so…… them.

Why is it so difficult to embrace the beauty in both the feminine and the masculine?  We are made to be different. To look different, to feel different, to react different. Differences that should be celebrated and nurtured.  Let the little girl dream of her hero rescuing her from the clutches of the vile villain. Let the little boy dream of defending his princess with his sword and shield.  That doesn’t mean she can’t dream of saving the day too or that he can’t dream about being rescued. We do not have to rip one gender apart, stripping it of any fragment of decency to promote another.

Why must we exchange our knights in shining armor for court jesters?
Contrary to what today’s television programming may portray, men are not morons, nitwits, imbeciles or any other expletive.  I am not married to nor am I raising bumbling idiots. My boys, my three incredible sons are being raised as the royalty they are.  Yes all three of my boys are being groomed to be Knights in Shining Armor, White Hat Wearing, door opening, yes ma’am and no ma’am addressing young men.  They are prayed over continuously. They know Mama is their greatest cheerleader and a ready advocate when necessary. They know how to say I’m sorry, excuse me, and use proper table manners.  They can change a tire, check the oil, and move heavy furniture when requested. They can cook, clean, and do laundry.  They are being trained to be strong and fierce, to be gentle and kind. To work hard and provide for their families, to love their wives like Jesus loves them and to raise their children to know God and make Him known. They are becoming mighty men of God. Men who won’t hesitate to defend your honor, stand up for you, fight for you, rescue you, carry you, protect you, provide for you and love you. They are preparing to serve you in the humblest of ways. They are becoming heroes.

I’m for sure playing my part in seeing this happen but in actuality, my role, although significant, pales next to the example they see in their Daddy.  All this day to day training is alongside a father who also lifts them up in prayer, rivals my cheerleading and advocacy and holds them accountable for their actions and words. I didn’t teach them to check my oil or fill my gas or even help me to carry in the groceries. Daddy did that.  They can cook, clean and do laundry because they had a dad to show them through his example and teaching.  This fierceness, strength, gentleness and kindness I’m referring to, they get a front row seat. All this chivalry mentioned, it’s played out before their very eyes every single day. My hero, their daddy, makes me swoon. He’s the hero Bonnie Tyler sang about!  I need him and he needs me.  We are partners, lovers, best friends. He is my husband and I am his wife. We are living the dream.

I want my sons, my grandsons, even my great grandsons to live in and pass down this legacy.  Is it too much to ask for men to be portrayed accurately? Our boys need heroes and examples to follow.  They deserve to see honorable, respected leaders who are motivated and empowered to live life with integrity and courage. They need to see men who are willing to weather the storms of life and take on the difficult responsibilities that come their way. Let’s stop elevating the men who neglect their responsibilities, shirk their duties, and abandon their families.  That kind of man isn’t a man at all and he is definitely no hero.

The Fast God Chooses

I started 2017 with worship as my word of the year.  While others were choosing balance, intentional, trust, focus, and other words worthy of this one word honor, I chose Worship.  It’s not that that was a bad choice.  It’s just something I truly felt I had a handle on.  I understood.

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You see I love to worship.  I can’t wait to get to church on Sunday mornings and abandon the week’s weights and enter into His presence, thanking Him for the grace He’s afforded to me.  Worship music is my favorite genre. It’s what you will hear if you are in my home or minivan. It’s the songs I sing in the shower.  So to choose worship as the word for 2017 really didn’t make sense to me.  What can I learn about worship? What does He want to teach me about worship?

I wrote the word in big bold lettering in the center of the first page of my new green bullet journal, and then began filling in the things I knew about worship. Prayerfully I considered what I should do with this word: Worship.

My prayer went something like this:

I’m pretty sure you whispered Worship to me, so what do You want me to do with this word?  When you said Community, I started spaghetti nights. When you said hospitality, I readied my guest room and opened my home to friends and family. You know I’m kind of a concrete thinker here, Lord.  Are you wanting me to get out of my pew? Is this a leadership word, just lead the way into worship? Should I join the choir?

I didn’t join the choir or leave my seat on the pew to be front and center, but I dare say, this already has become one of the most personal and intimate journeys of my lifetime.  In continuing to pray for His direction and guidance, wanting a deeper understanding of worship I find myself in depths new to my spiritual walk.

Worship has always been something I enjoy.  It’s fun to clap, raise my hands, feel that emotional high.  It’s therapeutic. When the tears flow, I release the cares and worries of my week with abandonment.  And of course, worship is how we thank God for His blessings and presence in our life.  There’s no better place to be than in worship. Give me the old hymns of generations before me, the modern day choruses that simply repeat a single word or anything in between.  I am a worshiper!  created_to_worship_graphicYes I know that worship is so much more than the choruses we sing on Sunday. But most recently I’ve come to know worship as prayer in its most intimate form. Prayer that connects my heart and soul to my heavenly Father and His heart to mine. True worship changes what we see, what we feel, what we desire, it changes everything.  It’s a life lived with gratitude to Him who gives us life. It’s shown through all we do and say. It’s allowing the Holy Spirit to live in you and through you.  Every second of everyday, to live and breathe Him, the only one worthy of our worship.

Today I chose a chapter in Stormie OMartian’s book The Prayer That Changes Everything.  (Imagine that, I’m reading a book on Worship!) This chapter was specifically on praising Him when you are sick, weak or injured.  We read and prayed through scriptures devoted to healing. We worshiped the God who heals because that is who He is. It was a good devotion time with my pencil barely able to keep up with my thoughts. (Yes, I still journal on paper!) Then the question in the study portion took us to Isaiah 58 and ask us what will happen when we observe the fast God has chosen.

First this chapter is on fasting. We just finished a 21 day fast as a church family. Participating in this fast is what brought me to the word Worship in the first place. Then through my prayer group I read in Chronicles about how King Jehoshaphat called a fast for the entire land in the face of serious defeat. Their fast brought them to worship!

So here I am back at a fast while studying worship, reading about a true fast. One that, if I allow it, can alter the very core of me.  Not a fast because my church has called one, or because I need to lose weight, or because I want to “please myself.” But an honest evaluation of heart, motives, attitudes, and actions. The type of fast that moves me past me. God’s Word calls it a True Fast.

In the beginning of Isaiah 58 God reveals that His people are walking through the motions of religion. When he doesn’t respond favorably, they ask Him the infamous “why?”, as if He can’t see their heart, He can see right through them. They make their list of all the “I’ve done this and I’ve done that” items and approach Him with attitude. I know how I react when my kids approach me with an attitude, an attitude that reeks.

“It’s because you are fasting to please yourselves. Even while you fast, you keep oppressing your workers. What good is fasting when you keep on fighting and quarreling? This kind of fasting will never get you anywhere with me. You humble yourselves by going through the motions of penance, bowing your heads like reeds bending in the wind. You dress in burlap and cover yourselves with ashes. Is this what you call fasting? Do you really think this will please the Lord? NLT

Wow! I can relate. It’s hard to admit but I’ve ask the “whys”, I’ve spewed my list of been there’s and done that’s, I’ve reminded God of what’s fair, and I have showed plenty of “attitude.” This could be the reason the Bible refers to us as Children! Thankfully, God is Father. A good father who has good things for His children. He called them out on the attitude and the motive behind their actions! He let them know that what they are doing is all on the outside.  What about the inside? He values relationship! He values our relationship with Him! He will call you out when your motive is self-serving. God wants every part of you, to be your one and only true love, and when given His proper place in our lives He works miracles on the outside and the inside!

Just as you would expect a good Father to do, He doesn’t leave them without direction.  Starting in verse 6 he explains his True Fast and its result:

“No, this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help. Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind. Then when you call, the Lord will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply.  Remove the heavy yoke of oppression. Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors! Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon. The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring. Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities. Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls and a restorer of homes.” NLT

What will happen when you embrace His true fast? When you give all of yourself? When you give Him your devotion and worship? When your heart’s desire is for Him, to know Him and make Him known? It’s in this posture of worship, surrendered to His will and His way – it changes us. His fast places our focus firmly on Him. With our eyes on him, He illuminates everything in His presence. And guess what? He inhabits the praises of His people. When we are in His presence darkness scatters. Light has that property.  He is The Light of the World.  When we offer Him all we have, all we are, all we hope. When we put our words into actions.  When we feed the hungry and help those in trouble He promises water when you are dry, strength when you are weak. He says you will be like a well-watered garden, an ever-flowing spring – fruitful, full of His Spirit, so full that He spills out onto everyone around you.  footwashing2

 

 

 

Serving Others at Breakfast

For weeks the women’s ministry team has been meeting and preparing to host our annual local church ladies for a special Christmas breakfast.  This year we decided to cater it instead of meeting together in a nearby restaurant.   Our women’s ministry director chose the theme, The Best Gift, and then began to work on our program.  I began to recruit the twenty ladies necessary to hostess the tables.

As ladies agreed to hostess a table, they received a complimentary ticket and a letter explaining the details.  This kept everyone on the same page. The letter simply said thank you and listed what their responsibilities and my responsibilities would be.

Round tables with traditional white tablecloths were placed around the room.  Each table hostess brought her dishes, glass and flatware, a centerpiece, and most often a small gift for ladies who sit around her table. Lots of details went into making this morning a successful respite from the busyness of the holidays.

Didn’t the hard work of our hostesses pay off?

DSC_0188For this centerpiece, beautiful prancing reindeer danced around a silver cylinder candle holder and red tulle netting gave it an extra punch of color. These lovely sisters used dishes passed down from their mother with red chargers under each plate to accent the centerpiece.  A Christmas bookmark and chocolates awaited each of their table guests.

DSC_0218This beautiful table decorated by my friend and beautician showed creativity worth noticing – scattered snowflakes, embellished blue ornaments surrounding a cobalt blue pitcher for the centerpiece, blue bandannas for napkins,  and silver makeup bags with beauty samples placed on each plate.

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This table’s snowman stood beside Christmas cones of bright red, green and candy stripes. The beautiful Christmas China was accented by chargers in red, green and gold. This hostess placed a candy filled plush snowman on each chair.

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This experienced hostess must throw amazing dinner parties as her table setting was elegant and sophisticated.  Beautiful fine china circled around a Santa tea pot and a Christmas home with a tiny train of sleighs that moved around the scene.  Napkin rings held paper napkins, a small notebook propped against the stemware and Andes mints sat in the saucer.  Elegance was an understatement.

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Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer 

This Hostess and her daughter (kindergarten age) set this table together.  I stood back  watching mother instruct daughter on how and where to place each piece.  It was quite moving for this mother of all boys.  The centerpiece was unique and so very creative.  The antlers were adorned with battery operated Christmas lights.  I wish I had gotten a picture of it lit up but you will have to imagine that.

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One of Our Mother Daughter Duos

This table can only be described as cozy and warm.  I wanted to just pull up to it and start chatting.  Our hostess used two table runners and criss-crossed them. I will definitely use this idea in the future.  This centerpiece stayed tall and thin as to not block conversation between guests.  The top hat flanked one side of the tall vase and a snowman on the other.  The vase, topped with a huge white snowflake and red Christmas balls was wrapped in silver fabric making this tablescape spectacular.  Each guest felt welcomed as she sat before her plate and cup.  Did you notice the packaged cocoa stick snowman peeking over the rim? So adorable.  Every plate held red tipped flatware wrapped in a white napkin and tied with a pretty red and white checkered bow!

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Another one of our Mother Daughter Duos – We are blessed! 

This table used a green runner underneath red taper candles, a small decorated Christmas tree and an adorable snowman.  The snowman dishes held a Christmas jingle bell necklace for each guest.  We have some very creative ladies at our church!

This was just a sampling of the beautifully decorated tables from this morning. Every table was just as unique and special as the ladies who decorated them.  Some of these tables told stories of rich heritage, others were whimsical and festive but all were gifts of time and love for the ladies they would host.  This added such a personal touch to our morning and I am beyond grateful for their assistance.

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The buffet tables were clad with red cloth runners across the middle and laden with individual sized quiches, sausage cream cheese stuffed croissants, yogurt and fruit parfaits, and miniature pancakes with butter and syrup.  Talk about delicious.  I want the recipes!

Throughout the morning, everyone sang Christmas carols, ate their fill, listened to the guest speakers, and gave generously to the missionary family we chose to bless.   We were blessed.  I felt accomplished and ready to put my feet up and relax after a long morning of work.  My heart is full.  I love my sisters.  I love our church.

 

Your Story Isn’t Written

Many, many years ago, a man named Joshua sent two spies into a hostile enemy nation.  They cautiously made their way into the ancient city of Jericho, doing their best to remain inconspicuous.  They chose to lay low in the home of a well known prostitute, Rahab. Quickly, the King’s informants sent word of their whereabouts and Rahab was ordered to surrender these men to the authority of the king.

Courageously, she chose to hide and assist in the men’s escape. She chose treason, a crime punishable by not only your death but the death of your entire family, rather than release these men to the Canaanite King.  A bold move, but one that paid off for her and her family.

Rahab was a woman of the night. A woman paid to have sex with men.  A woman concreted in to a life where men used her and women avoided her. A woman whose poor life choices found herself in an unacceptable occupation, with no way out.

As a teenager staying with friends overseas, I well remember walking through the red light district of one European city. Although my friend did his best to prepare me, I still expected an  American television version of the hooker on the street corner. What I saw instead were rows of curtained store front windows with women waiting to sell their bodies to the highest bidder. After recovering from the initial shock, I looked into the eyes of a couple of these women. The tears began to well up inside me. Posed in the window for men to choose from a list of options, their empty, hollow eyes sent shudders down my spine. I cried for hours afterwards. I still cry when I think about them.

I’ve looked into the eyes of girls closer to home, who are trapped in lives they never wanted, seeing no way out. Some of these girls made poor choices, some were handed a raw deal in life. Either way, their story seems set in stone. Like Rahab, “the prostitute” this is how you are to be known. The failure. The addict.  The victim.  Easy, cheap, worthless, stupid, the list goes on infinitely. Convinced this is your life, convinced there is no other way…..

But then God…. The actual author of our story. 

Rahab the Prostitute listened to their stories of water dividing and people crossing on dry land, of victorious battles won against fierce armies thought to be unconquerable, of land promised by the One True God and his people moving in to possess it. She listened to the miracles and followed the movement of a God, foreign to her, belonging to a different sort of people.

She believed. With that truth taking root in her heart she hid two strangers and changed the course of her history.

When the battle came to Jericho, she knew the scarlet cord hanging in her window meant protection for her and her family. She gathered them into her home and as sure as God’s word is true, her household was spared.

Oftentimes the story of Rahab wraps up with the walls of Jericho.  The prostitute who saved the spies was saved in return but Rahab’s story does not end in the second chapter of the book of Joshua. Your story doesn’t end with the hurt, despair and consequences of your past. God has, can and will stamp rescued and redeemed across your heart when you choose Him and his ways.

So what happened to her? Scriptures proceed to tell us, Rahab goes on to live with the Israelites and marry a man named Salmon. She becomes a mother who teaches her children to see past culture, to protect those weaker and more vulnerable than yourself, to love fiercely, and live with integrity.  All of which is evident as her son’s story unfolds in the pages of one of the greatest love stories in scripture.  Yes Rahab, the mother of Boaz, the kinsman redeemer of a Moabite widow named Ruth.

Her story wasn’t over.  Rahab, who is listed in the genealogy of Jesus Christ is recorded in Hebrews as being found faithful.  A mother who believed, trusted, repented, and rose above her circumstances with faith in a God she wanted to know better.

Never believe your mistakes are too many, your poor choices have been too frequent, your lifestyle is too far removed, or your story is complete. You are His Story. Loved more fiercely, lavishly, extravagantly than conceivably possible. God wants to be the author of our story and the finisher of our faith.

Rahab, the mother. Rahab, the grandmother. Rahab, the faithful. Rahab chose HIS ending to her story and like her, you can choose HIS ending to YOUR story.  Leave a mark on history, a legacy beyond your greatest expectations simply by allowing Christ to write your story.

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