It’s here again!  A new installment of our “Beautiful Friday” series.  My LIFE group went onto campus on a nice day and asked various women the question: why do you love being a woman?  The wide array of answers was a testament to women’s diversity/values/interests. 

Admittedly, I’m not the “girliest” of girls.  Until this post, I hadn’t seriously thought about what it would look like to value my identity as a woman as opposed to a general “human being”.  Day by day I’m learning to appreciate myself as God made me: my strengths, weaknesses, my quirks, and even the things about myself that even I don’t understand.  While we are all so different, there’s much that we can share in celebrating our roles as women and empowering one another to be MORE than what we are now.  And I think that’s why I love being a woman.  Although we can be SO complex/complicated/layered/etc it allows us to relate to so many others in profound ways.

In the spirit of interaction, why do YOU love being a woman?  Are there any answers given below that you agree with?

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I’m not going to feel sorry for myself anymore.

Just this morning I was sharing with two of my friends how I wish I was “better” – I wish I had more skills, had more going for me, had an “x factor”.  And I was honestly really upset about it.  I felt like the Queen of average: not considerably smart or stupid, not considerably funny, not exceptional, not pretty etc.  Honestly, even writing out these insecurities makes me cringe because it’s such wayward thinking.  Long pitiful story short, I truly believed that God didn’t have much in store for me because I wasn’t much – destined to be average. Hence the pity party.

This evening I watched “Nefarious” a documentary about sex slavery.  It followed a team of people who were discovering how sordid the sex trafficking industry was and how far it extended. Towards the end of the film, there was a gripping portion where two women who were prostituted for 10-30 years shared about their encounters with God.  The two shared how they were convinced that they were hopeless: utterly defeated and ashamed by the laundry list of their acts as prostitutes.  At points close to death, they each encountered God.  They both described this feeling of being completely seen by God (all of their past deeds) and being completely loved and accepted.  God did not condemn them and He set for them a life of freedom and purpose.  After decades of being convinced that they were nothing and “too far gone” – God found them, saved them and showed them the worth they had always had.

God makes no mistake.  He makes His sons and daughters with love, hope and purpose.  One of Satan’s greatest feats is to convince us that we are unloved, hopeless and without a purpose.  We’re captive to the lies that we are not enough.  And in the sea of our self-pity, we spend an inordinate amount of time on ourselves and miss out on the call to love our neighbors, to  “look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (James 1:27)

There is far too much going on in the world that is against God’s heart for His sons and daughters.  We need to stand in the gap, pray for God’s justice and rule to come and heal our land, and do whatever it is He calls us to do.

I’m not going to feel sorry for myself anymore.

I have a confession: I drive drunk frequently.  

Okay, it’s not alcohol that I’m drunk on, but it’s emails, text messages, and sports scores.  

I just saw in the local news that a mother of four kids in the Ann Arbor area died in a car accident; she was texting while driving.  My first reaction was, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s so dangerous, didn’t she know better?”  But that was quickly squelched by the realization that I am just as guilty of driving distracted: I often check my emails, text messages, and sports scores, usually at stoplights, but I often make phone calls while in motion.

There was actually an article in CNN this week about distracted driving and the dangers that it poses.  Apparently the risk of a crash increases by 4xs when we drive while using a cell phone.  There are other stats in the article that are very compelling and make me think twice about my driving habits.

As I reflected on these two articles and my own habits, I realized that it comes down to living a hurried life and an artificial sense of urgency. Reading that new email is ‘urgent’; sending that text message is ‘urgent’; checking that sports score…okay it isn’t urgent, but my curiosity gets the better of me.  Whenever that little envelope icon appears on my screen, it begs and taunts me to check it, no matter what I was doing at that moment.  

We live in a culture of instant gratification and impatience, both of which I doubt are very Christ-like. (If patience is a ‘fruit of the spirit’ [Galatians 5:22] then I guess that makes impatience an anti-fruit?) Don’t get me wrong: I love technology and I’m not trading in my cell phone for a landline, but I definitely need to grow in patience and delayed gratification. Perhaps driving and red lights can be moments to sit still, quiet my frantic mind and just enjoy the day.

Here are the articles mentioned above:
http://www.mlive.com/news/index.ssf/2012/03/ann_arbor_mother_charmaine_dau.html
http://www.cnn.com/2012/03/28/us/distracted-driving-dangers/index.html?iref=allsearch

One of my favorite SaturdayNightLive sketches was the Debbie Downer sketch.  There’d be normal, jovial scenes of people hanging out and at every turn “Debbie Downer” would insert a random tragic fact that would completely kill the atmosphere. Her friends would try to bounce back from her buzzkilling comments but to no avail – Debbie Downer always wins.

You think I’m going to ask you to prayerfully consider if you’re a Debbie Downer or not. But i’m not. I’m going to tell you that you probably are one…at least to yourself.  How many times have you found yourself in a good/ok situation only to start wondering “how long will this last?” or “something bad is probably going to happen” or “God is going to break me soon…” or “this can’t be real”? Suddenly our good moment turns sour. Is that surprising?  Debbie’s a ninja.

Instead of fully thanking God for our present moment, we start anguishing over the future. The thought of “let tomorrow worry about itself” is thrown to the curb right alongside “charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting” and “this semester, i will NOT procrastinate”.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice always, pray continually,  give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  We’re not given the option to give thanks always, we’re commanded to do it.  What better way to fight the temptation to complain than to actively give thanks?

In my difficult times, this hymn has helped me to fight my downer tendencies and to remember God’s goodness:

It Is Well With My Soul

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,

When sorrows like sea billows roll;

Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,

It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,

It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,

Let this blest assurance control,

That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,

And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

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My son’s current favorite toys are kid-sized vehicles: scooters, walkers, cars. He received an array of vehicles for his birthday, so he’s been pushing them around the house, laughing gleefully as he whizzes around.  The problem with this, however, is that he doesn’t want to walk on his own because he is afraid to let go of the vehicles. So, it was a heart-wrenching decision, but my husband and I decided to hide all the toy vehicles so that he can learn to take steps without them. 

 
The funny thing is, I feel really really bad now. I wonder if he’s thinking to himself, ‘Where did all my favorite toys go?” The most sad part to me is that I know how much joy it brings him when he can push the vehicles around, so it breaks my heart that he can’t experience that joy now.  I know it sounds overly dramatic, but I really do feel that bad!
 
As I thought about this, it suddenly hit me – this is how it must feel when God has to take things away from us, for our own good.  Sometimes there are things in our lives that are not inherently bad, but they may be inhibiting our spiritual development, so He needs to strip them from us for a period of time. Once our son starts walking, my husband and I will bring the vehicles back because he’ll have learned to walk without them.  We’ve only taken them away temporarily, but we had to in order to help him grow the courage to walk without them.
 
For the first time, it really hit me how much it must sadden God when He has to take things away from us, even temporarily, because it delights Him when we enjoy His gifts.  I’m learning about God’s father heart for his children, and perhaps next time He has to remove things from my life, I’ll remember the words from Matt Redman song: ‘You give and take away / my heart will choose to say / Lord blessed be Your name.”

During this 40 day period leading up to Easter (or Resurrection Sunday as I like to call it), I’ve committed to several things that will help me focus on Jesus. Aren’t we supposed to focus on Jesus all the time? Well, yes. The truth of the matter is, I need all the help I can get when it comes to following through on my spiritual disciplines. I’m thankful that the tradition of lent can be redeemed to help me draw even nearer to Him.

Though I believe everyone can struggle with these things to some degree, it seems that women are more susceptible to: busyness masked as closeness w/ God, and the lies of the enemy. Typing this as I’m battling the nth cold/sickness of the season, I understand that I am fragile and weak. Satan loves to kick me when I’m down, shoveling in lies upon lies between my coughs and sniffles. In light of all of this, I decided to come up with some commitments to be spiritually/physically/mentally/emotionally healthy.

1) Spending time in solitude for 1 hour before going to sleep (at a set time), spending that time in reflection/journaling/prayer.
2) Memorizing at least one verse from that day’s BRP.

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

   41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but only one thing is needed.Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Luke 10:38-42

To my fellow Marthas- let’s not lose ourselves in the worry and upset of many things. Let’s lose ourselves in the intimacy of our Savior! When Jesus beckons us to come and rest, it’s not a friendly suggestion. It is an imperative choice we need to make, especially in light of the crazy, chaotic, frantic world that we live in. Here we go!

Hello all!

A friend and I set out on campus one day to tell women they were beautiful and ask them, “what makes you beautiful?”.  It was a great chance to see how people are made so differently and wonderfully.  Check it out!

What is beautiful about you?