Sunday, January 31, 2016

31 Days: What More Shall I Say?

Well, here we are at January 31st. How do I wind this thing down to a close? As usual, at the end of a month on the same subject, I am pretty much completely over this discussion now! This year's schedule of posting every other day wasn't nearly as stressful. I had been jotting down ideas for months, and was able to have most of my posts written out ahead, then edit and adjust as the day came along. I didn't get into the subject nearly as deep or personal with only half as many posts but that was easier on my emotions and maybe yours, as well. :)

I'll stick a word in here for you fellow bloggers - if you've considered doing some sort of series, take up the challenge! I promise you it will be a learning, growing, stretching experience and I don't think you'll be sorry. I recommend it, in other words.

I told several people throughout this month that I don't want to be just writing words, I want this 31 days to change me. A lot of the time I've felt like a hypocrite, writing things I know to be true in my head but have barely experienced in my heart. I've clung to the hope that because one has to start somewhere, hopefully writing it all out is at least a beginning.

It should probably be no surprise to me that the most stressful post of the month brought the biggest eye opener to my heart. My confession, two posts back, to my 20 year old feelings of choosing a lesser path by choosing marriage was not a light one. That simple admittance was a big one for me and I cried as I asked the Lord to forgive me for all the ways my refusal to accept and delight in the beauty of His plan has affected my role as wife and mother.

I guess if there is one thing I want to take away from this study, it would be this: I want to learn to accept my assignment of 'cleaning the ball closet' as the top priority on my list. With that acceptance I hope to find delight in keeping that 'ball closet' in tip top shape!  I want to allow the gifts God has given me to shine through in the accomplishment of my top assignment, regardless of whether that makes my 'ball closet' look like the lady next door or not. Should the Lord bring along opportunities to use 'my many other gifts', I want to be ready and willing. But if 'cleaning the ball closet' remains my only assignment in this life, may He say, "Well done thou good and faithful servant," upon reaching the other side.

That's a pretty tall goal, and well I know it, but that is the seed that this 31 Days has sown.

Thank you to all of you for reading along this month. I've enjoyed your comments and input so much...yes, every last bit of it. :) You bless my life!

"Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised." Proverbs 31:30

Friday, January 29, 2016

31 Days: What Do I Do With All These Gifts?

Let’s pretend we’ve all gathered for the annual church house cleaning. We receive our assignments, and you discover you’ve been assigned the ball closet. Now the ball closet is a very small closet in a dark, out of the way corner of the basement. It’s cluttered with balls and bats and gloves and all manor of other game playing equipment. The closet has a door on it that remains shut so that no one can see the mess inside. How are you feeling? Are you thrilled about your assignment?

Let’s suppose you are a very out going person and you love interaction with other people. Maybe you are not at all scared of heights and would love to climb the ladder and wash the ceiling fans in the auditorium. Perhaps you enjoy painting and would be delighted to help with the nursery renovation project. Lets say you love nothing more than making windows sparkling clean; in fact, you brought your Norwex rags along so you could get the windows done right! It could be you are good with cantankerous old church house vacuum sweepers and wouldn’t mind a bit taking over the sweeping job and figuring out what the problem is. Or, how about you especially enjoy working with children and would be delighted to oversee the project of getting the children involved in scrubbing all the chairs.

Ball closet? Humph.

Blame it on our society or whatever you wish, I think a lot of us women secretly have the same feeling about being a wife and mother that you are having about cleaning that ball closet. “Here I am with all these gifts; these talents. And just because I’m a woman I am supposed to sit at home where nobody even sees me and clean, cook, wash, wipe noses, feed babies, change diapers, discipline children… Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. What about all these gifts I have??”

I love the comment my friend, Karen, made on the post ‘Why Are We Discontent?’ She said, “People are only discontent when there is something else they would rather be doing.” I’m afraid that kind of hit’s the nail on the head for me sometimes! To often, over there in the corner of my heart where the rebellion towards the woman God created hides, is the resentment towards being assigned to “just cleaning the ball closet”.

I’m not suggesting that a wife/mother can never invest in any activities other than raising children and keeping house. Every husband and wife have to make those kinds of decisions between themselves and what is ok for another mother to do on the side might not be ok for me. There are also seasons in the life of a mother. When my children were ages 7, 5, 17 months and newborn would probably not have been a good time to be writing blog posts for 31 days! Doing something different, that we enjoy, can be a refreshing change of pace from the daily grind of life. I enjoy scrap booking and sewing and making something creative with my hands can sometimes be that “needed break from motherhood that will actually make me a better mother”.

So how do I know if I’m being resentful of ‘just cleaning the ball closet’ or if it’s ok to do some other things on the side? I think for me it’s important to accept that ‘cleaning the ball closet’ is my first priority. I think Jesus’ admonition in Matthew 6:24 holds a principle that applies to us women, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other…” ESV Accepting that being wife and mother is first on my list is my best cure for being discontent - then there will be nothing else I would rather be doing! :)

Another thing to consider has to do with a comment made on the post ‘Have the Men Changed Too?’ Rosina said, “One way I believe men have changed is in their involvement in church. Since many churches tend to be geared toward and run by women, men just aren’t as interested anymore.” I think this is true, and there are other areas besides church that it could apply to.

Some of us women are gifted in leadership and public speaking and other talents that, if we are not careful, can snuff the life out of our men. Men are not like women. If someone tries to take over one of my responsibilities, I’m likely to get defensive and say, “Hey, wait a minute. That’s my job!” My husband, on the other hand, will probably sit back and say, “You wanna take over that job? Knock yourself out!” If we want the men to do their job of leading, we are going to have to be careful how we use our gifts. I think there are places for those gifts to be used but this is something we need to keep in mind.

I don’t feel like I’ve covered this very well and I’m sure there’s more that could be said. I’m trying desperately to get this thing done today yet and being a hypocrite in the very things I am preaching….. I would love to have your input. What am I missing? What else should be added? For now, my ball closet is in dire need of some attention…..

Thursday, January 28, 2016

31 Days: Follow up on "Should We All Be Married?"

“When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.”  
                          -- A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

The “feelings oriented’ part of me would like to run and hide under a rock and shed tears over the fact that the much prayed over and carefully thought out words that I posted yesterday were misunderstood by some. The fact is, though, that without other people’s input I will never learn anything more than I already know, and learning is, after all, what I have been trying to do through this writing project. So, thank you to those who have given their input. Now that I have stirred the hornets nest, let me attempt to clarify some of the Things that seemed Thingish before they got out into the open. (If you haven't read the comments on yesterday's post you might find them interesting.)

My post yesterday was not intended to be a Marriage vs. Singles article but a Today’s Society vs. God’s Plan article. My whole premise for this writing project has been, “What was God’s plan when He created woman and how does that compare with the society we find ourselves in today?” What I have found in my search for what God intended, is that God created Eve for Adam; He created us to be a helpmeet. What I have seen in the society we live in is that women do not need to accept this truth; they can be whoever and whatever they want to be, however they want to.

By saying that, I do not mean that marriage is the only thing a woman can be fulfilled in. But I do believe it is important that we teach our girls what God’s plan was in creating woman, that He made us to be a helpmeet; for relationships - to nurture, to love, to care for, to feel. Why? So that if they do everything just right they will meet Prince Charming and live happily ever after? No. So that whether they end up married or single, they can live happy and fulfilled lives and be soft and open to what the Lord brings their way.

We live in a society that does not encourage women to embrace God’s plan. When I was asked to date at the age of 20, I admit to you that I felt a bit of embarrassment/shame in saying yes. There were more singles around me at that time who were doing notable things with their lives than there were married couples, and at that young age, there was a part of me that felt like I was choosing a lesser path by choosing the one that would lead to marriage. I don’t think I’ve ever admitted that to myself until now. That twisted view of God’s plan for me as a woman has affected my marriage in more ways than I will probably ever realize.

So, again, I think it is so important for us as women to be able to accept and embrace the role that God created us for. It will allow us to be happy, fulfilled women whether we find ourselves in the married or single category.

As far as the idea of our society forcing single women to ‘man up’ and make their own living? I wasn’t saying by that that I think single women should be able to shut down their lives and sit around waiting to get married. I think our society has forced single women into a role God never created them for: being the breadwinner. I know of single women who keep jobs they dislike simply because they are good paying jobs and they need the money to pay bills and take care of themselves. I think it is sad if there are single women who would love to be involved in ministry type of work and they are unable to because the pay would be too small. That’s where I think it would be beautiful to see fathers or the church stepping in and helping single women be able to fulfill that God given desire to love and nurture and care for others, rather than just making money to pay the bills and support themselves down the road.

In closing… I don’t believe there is one perfect way that all of this must look. We live in a fallen world and misunderstanding and judgement flow both ways. Single women and married women’s lives are different and that means we won’t always see things the same. But we were both created by God for a special purpose! Let’s embrace our womanhood and be soft and open to what God has in store for our lives.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

31 Days: Should We All Be Married?

I can almost hear the rumbles already, and I started writing this weeks before anyone is reading it. “So are you implying that God’s perfect plan is marriage and anyone single is less than the woman He intended them to be?”

I’ve dodged this post for days; worked on every other post but this one. I’ve had arguments about this thing and this, right here, was one of the reasons I rebelled when God came tapping on my shoulder to write about the subject of women. This feels like a hurtful subject, and I don’t like hurting anybody. It would be easier to tiptoe around the thing, to give vague answers and explanations and leave it all in the grey but I can’t do that. So, now that I’ve made everyone tense up and prepare for battle with all my disclaimers, here’s the truth: I cannot find in the Bible any support for the idea that women should seek anything except marriage. God made woman specifically to be a wife; that’s what woman was created for. He could have created Eve to just be Adam’s friend but He didn’t.

I know there will always be single women. It’s a proven fact there are more men on this earth than women, so just for that reason alone there will always be some unmarried ladies; it is not a sin. But, I don’t think the large number of single women these days is due to the eligible men deficit being that high. I think it is primarily because our society has completely switched the role of women from “created for man” to “created for themselves” and the church has fallen into their footsteps. Marriage is looked at as this necessary evil that we all want, yes…..eventually. But to be married at 21 is to have missed out on the best years of your life!

I’m throwing my hand up here and saying, “Hold on just a minute. Let me finish!”

I know what my single woman audience (if I have one) is saying, “So what do we do? Start asking men? Sit on our chairs waiting for Prince Charming to appear? Take the man on the street because he’ll have us??”

I’m not advocating that you do anything ridiculous, no. What I am suggesting is that you have a good long talk with the Lord and find out a couple of things about yourself. 1) Do you want to be married? 2) Do you act like you want to be married? I know, I know, that’s called Hard Up and people who are Hard Up are looked at as the lowest of low but this isn’t between you and the world, this is between you and the Lord. Are you open to being married?

See, here’s my little theory. I think, as a society we have taught women to believe they don’t need the men. Women can be whoever and whatever, however they want to and marriage is down there somewhere on the list of things we’ll do someday after we’ve done all the exciting things to prove who we really are. 

To complicate matters, once a woman reaches age 21, they’re expected to support themselves. What’s a woman to do, after all? We’ve essentially forced single women to ‘man up’ and earn a living and they sure aren’t going to be able to support themselves forever on Missionary and School Teaching wages, so what do they do? Start looking for better paying jobs. Who can blame them? 

Then the single men come along, and what do they see? They see women who are independent, settled into their well paying jobs, on the road to success…why would they bother to ask for their friendship when all the vibes these women are sending out are “I’m perfectly fine on my own.” “I don’t need a man.” “I have a career to pursue.”
That’s why I’m suggesting you sit down with the Lord and ask yourself and Him some honest questions.

Does that mean Prince Charming will magically show up by your side tomorrow? I doubt it. But it might mean that your heart will end up being a little softer, a little more open, a little more accepting of what God has called us women to be. 

This is my own opinion here: If you do find yourself in the position of single woman, I think it is important that you do the kinds of things God created you for. He created women for relationships; to nurture, to love, to care for, to feel. If you are a single woman, find something to do that allows you to fulfill the God given role He created you for. Don’t try to be a man; be a woman!

I know you think I don’t understand what it’s like to be a single woman and you’re right, I’ve never been in your shoes. I realize you have to take care of yourselves; pay the bills, get the car fixed, worry about the future. I’d love to see a world where parents or siblings or the church supported their single women so they could be free to do the kind of things God created them for rather than forcing them to support themselves. Can you imagine how that would change the world?! It doesn’t seem fair to me that a widow is surrounded with support just because she had a husband but a single woman is expected to care for herself. So you see, I am not against you - I am really for you! :)

But do check your hearts. Do consider the vibes you are sending and do have that honest conversation with the Lord.

Thank you for listening…now it’s your turn…

Monday, January 25, 2016

31 Days: Can I Accept The Beauty?

While I think it is important for us as women to be aware of our makeup and how living out of feelings can trip us up and make our lives miserable, I don’t think becoming ‘un-feeling’ is the answer to our problems. I think a better idea is to begin accepting the facts of what God has to say to us and work on changing our feelings about those facts. Without realizing it, a little beginning of that process for me was the day I looked up the verses about what God says to women.

The day I sat down and looked up all those verses about what God says to women, I also looked up verses about what God says to men. Then, I decided to compare the two lists. I tried to match up verses on the men’s side with verses on the women’s side that went together. I found this to be very, very interesting. Let me share my lists with you (again, in no particular order):

To Men To Women

Eph 5:22-25 You must be the head of your home; you must love your wife
* Col 3:18 You are to be subject to your husband

Prov 22:29 If you are skillful in your work it will earn you respect in the land
* Prov 11:16 If you are gracious you will attain honor

* Ps 112:1-10 If you fear the Lord your offspring will be mighty in the land
* Prov 14:1 If you are wise you will build up your house

* Matt 19:5 You must become one with your wife
* Gen 2:24 You are to become one with your husband

* I Cor 13:11 You must give up childish things
* Prov 19:13 No one wants to live with a contentious woman

* Js 5:12 You must have honesty and integrity
* I Tim 3:11 You must be dignified; not a malicious gossiper

* Col 3:19 Love your wives and don’t be harsh with them
* I Pet 3:12 You must be submissive and respectful

* Ps 119:9-16 It is important for you to be pure
* I Cor 11:8-9; Gen 2:18 You are a helper suitable for man; you were made for man

* I Tim 4:8 Godliness is much more valuable than bodily training
* I Tim 2:9-10 What you do is more important than outward adornment

* I Tim 6:11 You should not go after riches but pursue godliness
* Prov 31:30 Fearing the Lord brings praise; charm or beauty won’t

* I Cor 16:13; I Tim 4:12 You must stand firm in the faith; you must be an example
* I Tim 2:11-15 You need to learn to keep your mouth shut and accept instruction

* Prov 6:20-29 Lusting after women is a snare to be avoided at all cost
* Prov 12:4 Shaming your husband must be avoided at all cost

* Eph 6:4; Col 3:21 You must not provoke your children to anger
* Titus 2:3-5 You are to love your husband & children; be pure, be kind; your first priority is keeping house

* I Tim 5:8 You must provide for your household
* Prov 31:26-31 You are to care for your household and not be idle or lazy

Do you begin to see the beauty in this woman God created?

He created male and female to compliment each other; to walk hand in hand together; to accomplish His purposes in a more beautiful way. Sure, a man can keep house and a woman can run a business and sometimes circumstances make either of those scenarios necessary. But in comparing the two lists of verses against each other, it seems so obvious to me that God created man and woman for specific roles - He is to provide for his family, She is to care for them; He must stand firm, She is to accept instruction; He is to be the head, She is to be in subjection. You can even see the difference in make up come through - He is admonished about bodily training; She is admonished about outward adornment; His vices are purity and riches, Hers are trust/giving herself to her man and beauty

I think a key to finding contentment and fulfillment as a woman might be found in choosing to accept the beauty in the role God created me for.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

31 Days: Why Are We Discontent?

The rebellion we women feel seems to go hand in hand with a lot of discontent and unfulfillment amongst us. I am part of a mommy group on face book. One day a mom shared her struggles with feeling unfulfilled at home. She shared how she would like to finish her schooling and do something extra besides being a mom and wondered what others would advise? Another time a woman expecting her first child asked advice on whether to keep a cleaning job or two after her baby was born?

In both instances I took note of the outpouring of understanding from a lot of women. There was a lot of encouragement to do classes from home for the first mom and to try to keep a cleaning job or two for the second one. A common thread was the idea that you need a break from motherhood; it will actually make you a better mother to do some other things on the side. There was also quite a bit of encouragement that there is no higher calling than motherhood and that you will never regret the time spent with your children but nearly every mother who commented gave assurance that they could identify with those feelings of discontent and unfulfillment.

I pondered this for a long while. I wondered if Ma Ingalls would have identified with those feelings? I wondered about my own grandmother? Somehow I couldn't imagine them entertaining those sentiments. But I knew if I was honest that I could identify! What was the deal anyway? What about this whole idea that we will actually be better mothers if we have some outside interests to give us a break from our mothering duties? That seems a little strange in some ways. Like a friend of mine wrote once, “That would be the greatest irony: to neglect my children so that I can write about motherhood!”

Is this ‘need’ of outside interests tied into our rebellion against the woman God created? Don't we tend to look at Ma Ingalls with a condescending look that says, "Well, that was then..."? The world around us has definitely lowered the position of a stay at home mom, have we as Christians lowered it too? I think it’s safe to say we’ve swung pretty far towards discouraging marriage in our little girl’s minds, rather than encouraging it. I heard someone suggest recently that even in our Christian circles, if a young girl were asked in a school assignment to write about what she wanted to be when she grew up and she wrote that she wanted to be a mother, it would probably be looked at as amusing rather than praiseworthy. Is it some of this idea that is affecting Christian women and causing the feelings of discontent and unfulfillment? What would happen if the words of Felicity’s mother would become engraved on every young lady’s heart - "Caring for a family is a responsibility and a pleasure. It will be your most important task, and one that you must learn to do well. I want you to be a notable housewife when you are grown."?

Thursday, January 21, 2016

31 Days: Did God Create A Dummy?

I have to admit, I have struggled a lot the past months as I’ve mulled over this subject. Not so much with the facts vs. feelings idea itself; I’m way past arguing whether it’s true that men live out of facts and women out of feelings. What I’ve struggled with is, why? Why in the world did God make women to live out of their feelings? It seems like such a dumb way to be!

I can’t remember what the occasion was, probably something had happened to emphasize this quote as true, but one day Chris sent me this: “Wherever you find a woman dealing with the difficulties of life, somewhere a man is quietly picking up the pieces.” That text annoyed me to no end. 

We had several conversations about it later. C: “Men intuitively know they can’t control life, so they don’t fall apart when things don’t work out.“ Right. I knew it was true that women are always trying to control things and then falling apart when their efforts fail. Still, I tried for a comeback. Me: “But don’t you think that’s because women feel so much more vulnerable because there’s so much they can’t do? I can’t even reach the top cupboard shelf!” (I’d just asked him to put something away on the top shelf.) C: “No. It’s a difference in attitude. A man would never say they can’t reach the top shelf, they would just get a chair/ladder and reach it themselves.” Ah. The whole facts vs. feelings thing.

Ok, fine. So we’re the unstable ones with pieces flying and men are the smart ones who come along and pick them up. C, sensing my irritation: “I don’t mean that the way women are is bad and men are good. Men want women to let them pick up the pieces. They don’t want the women to be able to build the house…” Hmmmm. Was that the answer to my question? God made us that way so men would have a place to use their gift of picking up pieces? Yay. Congratulations. Somehow that didn’t seem like the answer.

I remember sitting in preparatory service with all the ladies from our church. As we went around the circle and each shared what was on our hearts I just marveled how every last one of us was such a woman! So many feelings. Over and over there were expressions of fear, loneliness, depression, frustrations with feeling emotionally up and down. It seemed so obvious to me that most of the feelings were a result of, a) trying to control and b) not living out of facts. Again, I felt so frustrated with the fact that we were created by God to be that way. Why?? If living out of feelings was not a good way to live and something that we women needed to work on and change, why did He create us that way? It seemed so stupid! But I knew God doesn’t create stupid things, so where was the answer?

The light finally dawned one night as Chris and I again hashed this subject. I remember the feeling that washed over me as we talked and things began to click into place. “You were created that way because that’s what you need for your job - being a mother. Children live out of their feelings and they need that understanding from a mom. You were made for relationships - to comfort, love, nourish, feel… Men’s makeup of primarily living out of facts is often looked at as hard heartedness. Women see that as a weakness and think men should infuse some feeling into their responses. Why is it not just as natural that a woman’s makeup of living out of feelings has a weak side (the side I had been looking at as stupid) and needs some ‘facts based-ness’ infused into their responses?”

And suddenly, there it was! God created women to live out of their feelings for a specific purpose; a special calling. Yes, those feelings can take over my life and become a stumbling block rather than an asset but He created me this way for a reason. God did not create a dummy.

I think I shed some tears that night.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

31 Days: Why Don't I Like This Woman God Created?

After looking up verses and reading what God says to women, it seems logical to me to admit that the ‘Woman of Yesterday’ is a lot closer to the woman God had in mind then the ‘Woman of Today’ is. Look at some of the words that are used - helper, gracious, dignified, submissive, pure, under authority, discrete… do they sound like the ‘Woman of Today’? It seems pretty obvious to me that the ‘Woman of Today’ is not who God created woman to be.

So, what is it that has made women rebel against the ‘Woman of Yesterday’ and, ultimately, against what God says to women? And it’s not just “out there”. If I’m honest, when I read that list of words I just gave above, I feel some rebellion rise up within me! Why? I’ve just seen clearly what God says to me as a woman and I say that I’m a Christian and I want to please my Creator; why then do I feel this rebellion inside?

Here’s my idea, see what you think of it. I think the reason I rebel is because, as a woman, I live primarily out of feelings. When I read that list of words, it does not feel good to me at all! That list of words feels vulnerable, less then, squashed, looked down on, a door mat, weak, helpless, not fair. It is really hard, especially for women, to accept something that doesn’t feel good. I’m not sure what we think we can do about it - discover some Greek definitions that will make the Bible say something different because surely God didn’t mean it that way? Come up with our own ideas because we think it will make us feel better? But we definitely do seem to have a problem with liking the woman God created. Could it be we need to just accept the facts and work on changing our feelings?

Back to the flip side. Why, as a general rule, aren’t men rebelling? Why don’t men rebel against the “women and children first” idea? Why do we still, for the most part, see men paying alimony and child support and for first dates? Why aren’t they rising up in rebellion and saying, “This doesn’t feel fair at all! If the women want to be equal, why should they go first and why should I pay the money??”

I think it’s a lot because men primarily live out of facts. They look at the facts and say, “I’m bigger and stronger; I make more money than most women.” For the most part, it doesn’t matter how it feels to them; facts are facts and that’s just the way it is. They might look at the irony of the words coming out of both sides of the women’s mouths and roll their eyes and laugh but it’s not making them try to change their world. They’re more apt to shrug and say, “They wanna be that way? Let them!”

But back to the women, where do we go from here?

Sunday, January 17, 2016

31 Days: What Does God Say To Women?

Following is a list of verses I found in my search to discover what God says to women (in no particular order):

* Gen 2:18; I Cor 11:8-9 You are a helper suitable for a man; you were made for man

* Prov 31 You are worth more than jewels

* Col 3:18 You are to be subject to your husband

* Prov 11:16 If you are gracious, you will attain honor

* Prov 14:1 If you are wise, you will build your house

* Gen 2:24 You are to become one with your husband

* Prov 19:13; Prov 21:9, 19 If you are contentious it is like constant dripping; a contentious person is not fun to live with

* I Tim 3:11 You must be dignified, not malicious gossipers

* I Pet 3:12 You must be submissive/ respectful

* I Tim 2:9-10 If you want to be godly, what you do is more important than outward adornment

* Prov 31:30 Fearing the Lord brings praise, charm or beauty won’t

* I Tim 2:11-15 You need to learn to keep your mouth shut and receive instruction

* Prov 12:4 Shaming your husband is horrible

* Titus 2:3-5 You are to love your husband and children; be pure, be kind; your first priority is keeping your home

* Prov 31:26-31 You are to care for your household and not be idle or lazy

* Prov 11:22 Discretion is much more important than beauty

* Matt 19:26 With people this is impossible but with God all things are possible :)

Here is also a very interesting commentary I found on Titus 2:3-5. 3. The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; 4. That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, 5. To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

“KEEPERS AT HOME: minding their own family affairs, not gadding abroad; and inspecting into, and busying themselves about other people’s matters. This is said in opposition to what women are prone unto. It is reckoned among the properties of women, by the Jews, that they are (twynauwy), “gadders abroad” F24: they have some rules about women’s keeping at home; they say F25, a woman may go to her father’s house to visit him, and to the house of mourning, and to the house of feasting, to return a kindness to her friends, or to her relations--but it is a reproach to a woman to go out daily; now she is without, now she is in the streets; and a husband ought to restrain his wife from it, and not suffer her to go abroad but about once a month, or twice a month, upon necessity; for there is nothing more beautiful for a woman, than to abide in the corner of her house; for so it is written, (Psalms 45:13) “The king’s daughter is all glorious within.” And this they say F26 is what is meant by the woman’s being an helpmeet for man, that while he is abroad about his business, she is (tybb tbvwy), “sitting at home”, and keeping his house; and this they observe is the glory and honour of woman. The passage in (Isaiah 44:13) concerning an image being made “after the figure of a man, according to the beauty of a man, that it may remain in the house” is by the Targum thus paraphrased: according to the likeness of a man, according to the praise of a woman, to abide in the house.” Upon which Kimchi has this note: “it is the glory of a woman to continue at home, and not go abroad.” The tortoise, which carries its house upon its back, and very rarely shows its head, or looks out of it, was, with the ancients, an emblem of a good housewife.” (Italics, mine.)

Friday, January 15, 2016

31 Days: Do I Get to Choose?

So here I am, a woman in today‘s world. I see the woman of yesterday, the woman of today, and all the women in between. And I wonder - as a Christian, do I get to choose?

Is there anything morally wrong with wanting to be a woman who builds houses? Or drives a semi? Or runs a business? Not really. There is no commandment from God against those things. Does that give me the freedom, then, to choose what kind of a woman I am?

After all, God did give us the freedom of choice. He didn’t create us as puppets to only do the things He makes us do. Is the fact that I am uncomfortable with the idea of The Woman of Today just the result of generations of training in a conservative Mennonite setting? Is it just because all I have ever known in my world is women who do ‘women jobs’?

Maybe I need to ask myself a couple more questions. First, what lies at the end of this ‘I get to choose’ line of thought? If, as a woman, I may choose to be whoever and whatever, however I want to, where does that track lead? Is it a much bigger step to say I can be whatever gender I want to be; marry whatever gender I want to marry? Second, if I am a Christian, what is my goal in life? To be whoever I want to be or to please the One to whom I belong?

This brings me then to the question: Who did God create me to be? When God created woman, what was His plan for her? How do I please the One to whom I belong?

I like to think it would be so nice if God would just spell out exactly what He created me to be. Don’t you wish you could have been there at creation? Wouldn’t it have been amazing to see the first woman He created? Sure seems like she should have come with a detailed instruction manual; something we could run to to look up all the exact details on how He intended this creature to function! We do have the Bible with little snippets throughout to give us some pointers and guidance, so that’s where I went searching…..

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

31 Days: Have the Men Changed Too?

We’ve considered the difference between the Woman of Today, and the Woman of Yesterday. What about the men? Is the Man of Yesterday different than the Man of Today?
Correct me if I’m wrong but to me it doesn’t seem like men have changed much. Yes, there are probably more “stay at home” men than ever before; more gays, more men switching genders. But as a whole, men are still doing the same thing they have done for centuries: working to make a living. According to statistics, the percentage of unemployed men in the USA is up right now but that seems to be due to the recent recession, rather than men deciding they want to be something different. Why?

Why have men, as a whole, not taken up the women’s ‘I can be whatever I want to be, however I want to’ mantra? Why don’t we see hosts of men choosing babysitting over truck driving or working as a seamstress over construction? Why is it that a far larger majority of people would see those choices for a man as ‘sick’ but on the flip side, for a woman, they see them as liberating?

There seems to be something about the inborn nature of male and female that runs deeper than anything we as people can ever change with all the women’s liberation movements in the world. Women are all about being strong and independent...until the furniture needs to be moved, right? And no matter how much women’s rights are preached, if the ship is sinking, who goes first? Somehow all the equality speeches vanish and it’s still “Women and children first!” is it not?

There are other things that feminism has been unable to change and men (for the most part) seem to accept as normal. The old "never hit a woman even if she hits you first" rule hasn't changed. There are still more men paying for first dates, alimony and  child support than probably think of other examples.

There are exceptions to these, of course, but by and large they are the accepted norm. Why? Why aren’t the men chafing at the unfairness and trying to change their world?

What is it that is driving us women to be the unhappy and unfulfilled ones? And yes, I am saying ‘us women’. I hear a lot of unhappiness and unfulfillment and discontent among women in Christian circles and in myself!

Monday, January 11, 2016

31 Days: What Was The Woman of Yesterday?

If we're looking at snapshots, it seems only natural to look at The Woman of Yesterday too, while we're at it. It doesn’t take much research to discover that the woman of yesterday was quite different than the woman of today. Stories of pioneer women like Ma Ingalls and, for a lot of us, even stories of our own mothers or grandmothers paint a stark contrast to what is the accepted norm in today’s world.

Sometime during the past year, my 7 year old got started on the American Girls Collection books. I found the stories of the changing culture in the history of America rather fascinating. I thought the following excerpt painted the woman of yesterday very well:

“(9 year old) Felicity stirred the apples with a long wooden spoon. Round and round, again and again, she stirred the apple mush till her arms ached. It was tiresome work, and dull. Her hair stuck to her sweaty neck. Her hands were sore, and her back was stiff. As soon as one batch of apples was cooked soft, Rose took it away and put another pot on the fire. Felicity tried to hide her impatience. But after a while, she could not help asking, "Isn't that enough? Haven't we made hundreds of pounds of apple butter by now?"

"Goodness, no," said her mother. "A whole pound of apples makes only one pint of apple butter." Pints were very small.

Felicity sighed. "It seems to be a great deal of work for a little bit of butter. I don't think it's worthwhile," she said. "And once the apple butter's eaten, there's nothing to show for all the hard work. You are left with nothing at all."

Mrs. Merriman laughed. "I remember thinking just the same thing when I was your age," she said. "And 'tis true, there's nothing left that anyone can see. But I know that I've provided for my family, and that pleases me." She looked kindly at Felicity. "Caring for a family is a responsibility and a pleasure. It will be your most important task, and one that you must learn to do well. I want you to be a notable housewife when you are grown."

"Notable?" asked Felicity.

"Yes," said Mrs. Merriman. "A notable housewife runs her household smoothly, so that everyone in it is happy and healthy. Her life is private and quiet. She is content doing things for her family."

"Things nobody ever sees," said Felicity.

"Aye," agreed her mother. "But many lovely things are private and hidden." She picked up one of the apples. "Look," she said. She sliced the apple in half across its fat middle, instead of top to bottom. She held the halves up to Felicity. "Have you ever seen the flower that is hidden inside every apple?" she asked. "It's there for those who know how to find it. See?"

Felicity grinned at her mother. There was indeed a flower inside the apple.”

 -- Excerpt from The American Girls Collection book ‘Felicity Learns A Lesson’

Saturday, January 9, 2016

31 Days: What Is A Woman Today?

If I were to take a snapshot of The Woman of Today, and hold it in front of us so we could see what is acceptable or expected of a woman in today's world, I wonder what it would look like? I was curious what other people would say, so I asked this question on face book one day: In today‘s world, what is a woman? Some of the responses I got were:

“Some females are a woman and others a lady.” :)

“The current gender identity crisis. If biology doesn’t make you a woman, what does?”

“The strange way ‘feminism’ seems to throw femininity out the window in preference for masculine traits.”

“My doctor (a woman) asked if I was planning to work away from home…I said I was planning to stay home with my child. She looked at me and said, ‘Are you okay with that??’” 

“There is pressure now days to feel like you’re ‘nothing’ or ‘just a mom’ if you’re not working a 9-5 job.” 

“It’s discouraging how often I get the feeling, even from Christian women, that taking care of ‘just’ your children is not enough.”

I have concluded that basically, in today’s world, we have decided that women can be whoever they want to be. They don’t have to be anything specific; they can choose whatever they like! You want to be a mother? Okay, that’s fine. You want to be a business woman? No problem. You want to build houses? Go for it! You want to drive a semi? Why not? You want to be on television and talk about sports? Cool! You want to be any of these and be a mother at the same time? Great idea! You don’t want to be a mother, ever? You can do whatever you want, baby. Who’s stopping you?

This is the world we live in today. This is what it means to be a woman. We can be anything we decide to be - in whatever way, shape or form we choose. There are no limitations, no boundaries, no questions asked. If questions are asked, you can expect an uproarious protest against the ones posing them!

This, is The Woman of Today.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

31 Days: Facts or Feelings?

In Dr. Emmerson Eggerich’s book ‘Love and Respect’, he uses an example to illustrate how a man and a woman can say the same thing but mean something completely different. The example is this: A woman is getting ready to go away. She opens her closet and studies the contents then says, “I have nothing to wear!” (What she means is, she has nothing new.) A man is getting ready to go away. He opens his closet door and studies the contents then says, “I have nothing to wear!” (What he means is, he has nothing clean.) Same words; completely different meanings.

To me, this example also illustrates so vividly the difference in the way men and women view life. A man’s whole life…brain, thought process; whatever you want to call it…is centered around facts. Fact #1. He is going away. Fact #2. He needs clean clothes. Fact #3. Clean clothes are found in the closet. Fact #4. There are no clean clothes in the closet. Conclusion: “I have nothing to wear!”

A woman’s whole life…brain, thought process; whatever you want to call it…is centered around feelings. In the first place, she probably has some feelings about going away. Maybe she’s not in the mood to go away for the evening but she has to get ready so she checks out her closet; she needs to find something nice to wear to make her feel better! Or, maybe she is excited about going away. At any rate, she checks out her closet - “Not that dress, it makes me feel fat. Not that one either, I wear it every time I go away. That dress always makes me feel like an old duffer. I never liked the color of that one, I don’t know why I made it…...” Conclusion: “I have nothing to wear!”

We laugh at that picture, and it is rather funny and maybe a little stretched but there’s a lot of truth to it, too. As a rule, men live their whole life out of a 'facts' view point - fact 1, fact 2, fact 3: Conclusion. And women, as a rule, live their whole life out of a 'feelings' view point - How will that make me feel? How will that make him feel? How will that make them feel? Conclusion: I don’t even know how I feel!

Okay, okay, I’ll stop :) But seriously, take notice. It really is the way men and women come at life and realizing it will make a difference in this discussion!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

31 Days: Who Did God Create?

I’ve had a hard time deciding where to start this series. I think I’ll start with a very basic concept: We all know that God not only created woman, He also created man. We also know quite well that He created man and woman very distinctly different from each other. For one thing, we are physically different. I found this article by Dr. James Dobson very interesting. In brief, these are the 12 physical differences he mentions:

1. In the United States, women normally outlive men by three or four years.

2. Men have a higher incidence of death from almost every disease except three.

3. Men have a higher rate of basal metabolism than women.

4. The sexes differ in skeletal structure.

5. Women have a larger stomach, kidneys, liver, and appendix, and smaller lungs than men.

6. Women have three very important physiological functions totally absent in men -- menstruation, pregnancy and lactation. Female hormone patterns are more complex and varied.

7. Women’s blood contain more water (20 percent fewer red cells). Since red cells supply oxygen to the body, she tires more easily and is more prone to faint.

8. Men are 50 percent stronger than women in brute strength.

9. Women’s hearts beat more rapidly than those of men.

10. Female lung capacity is about 30 percent less than in males.

11. Women can withstand high temperatures better than men.

12. Men and women differ in every cell of their bodies because they carry a differing chromosomal pattern.

With such explicit distinction between male and female in just the physical sense, it seems safe to assume that those differences carry over into pretty much every other area of life. It would be interesting to know how many books have been written about the differences between men and women! It seems to be a subject we as humans will never quite understand.

There are so many things we could talk about when it comes to the differences in men and women and I don’t plan to go into that too much, it’s a little dangerous! But there is one major difference that, to me, seems very important in untangling this whole question of “What did God have in mind for women, and what are we missing?”

Sunday, January 3, 2016

31 Days: Introduction

Nearly six months ago, I wrote this post, 'What Have We Done to Our Men?' When I crawled in bed that night after writing, I laid there for quite awhile with my mind going around and around on the subject. “Why do we ridicule the men?” I wondered. “What is it that has caused this ‘throwing the men under the bus and raising women up’ mentality?” “What did God have in mind when He created women, actually? What are we missing?” That’s when I heard the words, “There’s your next 31 Days topic.” I shuddered.

But you can’t very well argue with the Lord, especially when you have promised to listen. And you can’t very well ignore His voice when everywhere you turn in the next several weeks this subject of women is constantly thrown in front of your face. I’d told Him if He wanted me to write on the subject, He would have to bring understanding, so what did I expect?

But why, I wondered, do I always have to write about the touchiest subjects? Why couldn’t I write about… oh, I don’t know… ‘31 Tips For Mothers’? or ‘31 Meal Ideas’? or anything that isn’t controversial, for pity’s sake??

One day a thought startled me and I confronted Chris, “Why is it that I always have to write about your pet subjects?!” He just grinned. “No, seriously. Almost every 31 Days of writing project has been on your pet subjects, that’s not even fair!” He just kept grinning, and said that was the Lord’s deal, not his.

I feel deceived. I did not agree in the marriage vows to be my husband’s mouth piece. Did I?

I actually know full well why God taps me on the shoulder for these subjects. It is because they are areas in my life that I am not sure what I really believe and He wants me to dig and process and understand and He knows the only way to get me to do that is to say “Write” and so He comes tapping.

So, here we are. In the month of January I am going to try to share with you what God is teaching me about the woman He created. I haven't decided on a title, as such, but I'm taking Proverbs 31:30 as my theme verse, "Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised."

Please keep in mind as we go along, I don’t pretend to know it all; I have only begun to scratch the surface. I would love to have your input, so please feel free to share your thoughts!

Friday, January 1, 2016

January 1

Well, it's January. Time for this much talked about 31 days series, right?

For those of you who are new here, I have, on three occasions, chosen a subject and written about it every day for 31 days. You can find my first series on 'Learning to Lean' here, my second series on 'Submission' here, and my third series 'What Makes a Mennonite a Mennonite?' here.

These writing experiences have been good ones for me. They have pushed me to dig deep and discover what I really believe. They have taught me to stick to a big project and see it through to the end. They have forced me to, not only discover what I believe, but know it well enough to string it together with words coherent enough for an audience to read. They have also been interesting times of interacting with my readers and I have so enjoyed your input!

Those months of writing have also tended to be stressful ones. It takes a lot of physical time and energy to write every day for 31 days! I've found it also takes a lot of emotional energy. I don't enjoy talking about controversial subjects nor do I enjoy putting myself in the middle of conflicting opinions.

I would have to say though that the benefits have probably been greater than the stress. So here I am again, getting ready to go on another writing adventure.

This time I am planning to take a less stressful approach. I am not promising to write every single day in January. I am going to aim for every other day and if I get done saying what I have to say, we'll quit. If I'm still going strong on January 31, we'll keep going! Deal? ☺

I'm looking forward to sharing and I'm looking forward even more to hearing your input...