I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar {Five Minute Friday}

Woman_1

Here is my Five Minute attempt to empower you. This is my way of saying, “You, woman, You are beautiful, you are strong, you are capable, you are accepted, you are worthy, and you are created with purpose.”

/ / / / / / / / / /

Can I just say you’re fabulous? Yes, I’m talking to you! I’m talking to the mom, the sister, the daughter, the friend. You, my lady are MIGHTY.

I learned something recently- God created us, women, in His image, yes. But you know what else? He gave us a special name. His name. Helper. I’m not a scholar and I’m still working on learning English, so I won’t attempt to explain literal meanings and translations, but here is what I think I know and I kindof found it profound- God made us mighty and marvelous and passed down His very name to us.

So it’s not the cooking and the cleaning that makes you Mighty Mom. It’s not even being a Mom, bearing a baby, or the bringing forth of life that makes you so Marvelous.

You are Mighty because He is the Almighty.

You see, our God, He counts the hairs on your head. Your head. He numbers your days and gathers your tears. Yours! He created a beautiful woman, because Adam just couldn’t do without, and He called her Helper.

As in “I will send them a Helper” kind of helper. Yes, as in the Holy Spirit kind of helper.

So as women, stepping up to the plate with bats that are far too heavy, we are swinging anyway. And sometimes we hit a homerun and sometimes we barely make it to first base. Sometimes we even strike out. The point is we are trying. We are women in the church and we are stepping up to do our parts.

And I’m not just referring to changing diapers and sweeping floors, or prepping meals and teaching Sunday School. I’m referring to all of those things, and more. I’m referring to women who work long, hard hours and come home to an empty nest. Women who are world changers, lovers of people, and passionate advocates. I’m looking at you, woman, and I’m hoping you can see how Mighty you are simply because you are you, God created you complete, and knit you to His satisfaction.

/ / / / / / / / / /

And if that’s not empowering enough for you, please go here, and preorder Lisa-Jo’s book- surprised by motherhood: Everything I Never Expected About Being A Mom. And if you’re impatient like I am, go here and read the first three chapters for free!

surprisedbymotherhood-book-banner-zoe2

I’m linking up with Mighty Women and writing for Five Minutes on this week’s prompt- MIGHTY. Would you join us?

Five Minute Fridays with Lisa-Jo Baker, author of Surprised by Motherhood

Five Minute Fridays with Lisa-Jo Baker, author of Surprised by Motherhood

Finding Hope in Starfish and a Cramped Sports Car

5

Where I live, in Southern Oregon, the nights are cold and the days are not much warmer. Winter seems endless, and Summer- well we long for it all year. And when it finally arrives, all ten weeks of it, we let off fireworks, fill too-small pools, and slow cook hot dogs on underused BBQ grills.

I’m a summer-kind-of-girl and I always joke that I wasn’t made for Oregon, but rather Arizona, or Mexico, or somewhere in the tropics. Surely the Lord needs missionaries in say, the Bahamas? I prefer flip flops, sunglasses, and pony tails. I want to read my Bible and talk to Jesus surrounded by white sand. Even just once?

4

This past weekend was the start of our Spring Break. The sun came out and we all smiled. I insisted we go to the beach, and seriously, when it’s just an hour-and-a-half away (yes, we measure distance by time in these parts), you can never touch the sand too much. So we packed up the cooler, loaded the trunk of my ever shrinking mustang, and forced the teenagers into the back seat. Let’s go chase the sun, kids!

It felt urgent- now or never!

The forecast called for rain the next day. No, the forecast screamed rain for the next month! So this was our chance. But there’s this small voice within, the one trying to rationalize and assure a practical decision is made. It reminded me that this weather was just a tease, because April showers bring May flowers you know, and are you sure you want to put all that effort into a short day trip to the beach? When you’ll spend just as much time in the car as you would on the sand, and you know how windy our beaches are. Plus, the gas is expensive and your kids really aren’t into building sand castles or digging for China anymore.

It’s the same voice that questions so many other things, like why I bother planting daffodils or tulip bulbs when they last such a short time. Or why give the car a bath, you know it will rain tomorrow. Why do I bother dusting the wood stove soot blanketed walls, end tables, and electronics when it will all settle again in just a few short hours? Are you going to trouble yourself cleaning the dog slobber from the sliding glass door when he waits not even ten minutes to leave his mark again? And the kitty litter box- don’t even get me started.

Why bother?

My only answer is because the briefest moment of hope is found here. And we need hope. We need to see tulips bright in purple, red, and yellow shouting spring and reminding us of change. Even if next week we are clipping their dead stalks and wondering why it ends so quickly, we need the brief moment of expectation. We need to see crisp clear glass and feel rays of warmth break through, uninterrupted by dog drool and paw prints. Even for just ten short minutes.

Because hope deferred makes the heart grow sick.

And I’m learning to appreciate how fleeting it all is. My infatuation with the sun- would that longing be so intense if the sun weren’t so sparse? I don’t think so.

Bandon Oregon

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. In some cases I find that to be true. I have an aunt who lived at the beach and rarely set foot on the sand. When you hear the waves from your kitchen window and smell the ocean in your sleep, what longing is left? In a land where tulips bloom year round and the sun never melts away the bitter cold of winter, is there a need for expectation?

When you’re birthed into the fertile green of Oregon, it takes five long months of dusty Mexican dirt to adjust your eyes and heart- to really see the lushness of your home.

Where would the wonder of Christmas morning be if we opened packages every day?

So we went to the beach. We drove the twisted highway snacking on Cheetos and licorice. We talked through family hopes and dreams,  past decisions, present obstacles, and future what-ifs. We debated over a controversial book my husband and I are reading. We were scrunched in tight and for a day I was grateful for that too-small sports car. I was grateful we were all so close and headed in the same direction, even just for a short day.

6

And that day was incredibly fulfilling. How often can we say that? How often do we live and breathe and parent and not end it all with- if only, or I wish I would have… This day left none of that. This day was perfect. I’ve lived over twelve thousand days in my life, and very few of them ended in complete contentment. So I cherish the ones that do.

We heard the crashing waves, were surprised by the cold ocean between our toes, saw what must have been the most grotesque vitamin D lacking starfish worldwide, touched sea anemones, and watched baby fish go to battle over the remaining leg of a crab.

2

 

3

In it all, we saw hope. And somehow that increased our faith because faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. We saw the substance of life under water. We saw evidence of things grander than books or documentaries can express.

This substance and evidence of things we can’t see by observing the things we can- that restores our hope. And hope, even brief hope makes the heart grow merry.

Joy Without Pretense or Imagined Perfectionism {Five Minute Friday}

Ugly Beautiful copy

Like you, I wonder about that thing called joy. That little word some describe as an acronym- Jesus, Others, Yourself.

I wonder how to find it and how to share it.

I think it’s in the big house, the clean toilet, the fancy car, the stable bank account.

But I know I’ve seen it and it wasn’t in those places.

I saw it in a dry, dusty land where they swept their dirt and lived in metal structures no larger than my storage shed. I saw it when they flipped hot tortillas and served all they had. I saw it when my children made friends with darker skinned babies that spoke a foreign tongue, but laughed and played and understood one another anyway. I saw it when they shared who they were and what they had without any pretense or imagined perfectionism.

Not only have I seen joy, I’ve also felt it be sucked right out of a room. Right out of me, this temple of His. Like a nail piercing the rubber of a worn out and over traveled tire, and that air just spills out. Its left flat and useless.

Sometimes I feel like that tire. Sometimes I feel deflated and undone.* Sometimes I ask myself what is the point and what am I doing? Where am I going and who am I pleasing?

I shared a verse on social media yesterday, and then I received a private message. The version I chose to share was questionable. I knew it, and I shared it. Deliberate. I share lots of things on social media. And some of those things should be left in my own head, as quiet thoughts hidden and safe. But the problem is- sometimes I share them anyway.

And maybe the problem also is I don’t want to hide. I don’t want to play safe.

I want to write in a way that my ugly makes you more beautiful. And by keeping my thoughts veiled, by sharing only what is safe and accepted, I pull on a false beauty- like a stretched out wet suit, keeping all that ugly inside, and protecting myself from whatever you might spill out.

So I take risks. Too many of them, and still not enough. All wrong. But I’m learning. I’m learning what I can share- what I should share. What it is I have to give that might make you a little more brave and a lot more stunning. Because I want to think that when you peek into my messy efforts, you feel a little less alone in yours.

And when that happens, when you’re lying beside me all punctured and deflated, useless and used, I have the opportunity to blow a little bit of life back into your drained self. And what you probably don’t even realize is that you’re doing the same for me.

I think this is Joy.

Seeing one another all burnt up and worn bald. Held together by one tired thread. Recognizing ourselves in each other’s struggles, and coming together as one. Relating. Resonating. Identifying. Connecting. And Restoring.

Stripping that protection off, and jumping headfirst into the unknown. This letting the inside out and the outside in- Somehow joy is found there.

Paul said to fulfill his joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind, esteeming others better than ourselves. So I’m looking to your interests as I examine my own. And it’s a funny thing to find joy here.

To love you the way that Christ has loved me, this is where joy is found.- He loves me before I’ve put on make-up or brushed away the tangled knots. Before I remember Him in prayer or turn the pages of His perfect Word. When I neglect Him for a whole day, or week, or longer. When I yell at my kids and refuse to submit to my husband. When I misunderstand scripture and offer unsound wisdom. When I share a word on social media from the uninspired version. When I quote that author whose doctrine might not always hold true.

Jesus isn’t so quick to label me a heretic. Rather than pierce me so hard I’m deflated useless, He was pierced for me. Rather than accuse and belittle, He hears the allegations and all too true claims against me. Endless. Day after day. Night after night. (Revelation 12:10) He is my defender. He justifies and covers me because that’s what Love does. Love covers sin.

So I’m here with you. I’m making mistakes. I’m receiving criticism while striving to believe the corrections are motivated by love. I’m failing daily and hoping you’ll be gentle about it. And I’m looking at you, asking if you’ll be unbound, take that shield off, and risk being yourself. Risk letting it out and letting us in. That is where our joy becomes full. Full Joy.

*This is where my five minutes stopped, but I’ve had a lot on my mind lately and I hope you don’t mind me letting it loose, and spilling it out onto you.

Five Minute Fridays with Lisa-Jo Baker, author of Surprised by Motherhood

Five Minute Fridays with Lisa-Jo Baker, author of Surprised by Motherhood

Although I wrote longer than five minutes, I’ve joined Lisa-Jo and written on this week’s prompt- JOY.

Crowd {Five Minute Friday}

Crowd

Reflections on John 9 in Five Minutes. GO-

From the time he was just a babe, they noticed something just wasn’t right. They made assumptions and judged the reasons and decided the blindness was because of sin. “His sin or his parents?” The disciples inquired.

But Jesus isn’t one to mess around with long explanations and how-comes. He just says it plain out. “It wasn’t this man’s sin or his parent’s. This is all for the glory of God.”

But the crowd would push in and press judgment, because the leaders knew what this all meant and they said it’s his own fault, so he was left alone to listen and watch the dark.

Jesus is the one who steps out of the crowd though, swims against the stream.

He took mere dust, and His own saliva, and blew that crowd away. There weren’t any detailed instructions, just go to the pool and wash.

He made the blind to see and those seeing blind because His kingdom is backwards and upside-down. They decided He must be a sinner, but never realized He would actually become sin Himself.

None of it is logical, but this man didn’t need logic-

“Whether He is a sinner or not I do not know. One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see.”

Linking up with Lisa Jo’s #FMFPartyThis week’s prompt- CROWD

Five-minute-friday

Visiting Family and Working Through Alzheimer’s

IMG_0139 copy

It had been years since I’d seen them last, and even that was just for a brief visit. I was nervous to go then, and wondered what this family of mine would think. Would I look too old or too round? Would I be too quiet and withdrawn? Would I bring too much me? Would I bear Him at all?

Then the opportunity came again, three years later, and this time I was ready- driven. My grandma was forgetting things more and more, and my aunt was tired of the battle. Lonely. Misunderstood. Mad.

Climbing the stairs to the second story apartment, I quietly wondered, “how difficult is it for them to leave the house?” We found the door, and hesitantly knocked. “What would they say? Would my aunt be upset? Would my grandma remember me at all?”

She threw open the white etched door, and greeted me with a smile and a hug.

It was an exhausted smile, but a smile no less. We were welcomed warmly and the weight began to lift. I could breathe, and yes, I would treasure this moment. I would cherish my family.

“Mom, do you know who this is?” My aunt began.

The blank stare gave away her confusion.

“This is Marlin’s daughter, Stephanie, your granddaughter. And this is Korrie, your great-granddaughter.”

And that’s when the world stopped spinning. For a fleeting moment the confusion seemed to fade and recognition set in. She gasped and she sobbed and I thought my heart would burst. Instead I hugged her and cried, and then I had to step away. I didn’t know what to say or do, or how I should feel.

“I’m sorry it’s been so long.”  “I wish I could rewind time.” “I’m sorry you have this disease and you can’t remember, but I’m so thankful you remember right now, even for just a moment.”

Maybe any of those statements would have been the right statement, but I said none of them. I brushed away the tears and pushed aside the what-ifs and how-comes. Perhaps it’s easier for her this way-  pushing it away and forgetting what is hard is easier than remembering and living it over and over day in and day out. Because that’s what moms do. They dwell on it, and fix it in their minds, but real life says you can’t fix those who are already broken. So she just forgets.

Some people might think it’s cruel. Some may say that only a ruthless God would leave a woman so confused and all mixed-up. But I have a different opinion on that. I wonder if it’s just the opposite. I wonder if this is God’s mercy- His way of rescuing her from her own nightmares and guilt. His way of liberating her from the ache no woman can carry. His way of protecting the tenderest of daughters in their most bruised spaces.

I think I saw God there, and it wasn’t in radiant glory, or abundant joy. At least not the kind you’d expect. I think I saw Him in those bewildered eyes and hesitant questions.

We curled up on sofas and chairs and began casual conversations. I learned about my cousins and about their struggles and was reminded of life.

Life– there’s so much in that one small syllable. Life speaks of radiance and joy and newness. Like watching a baby come into the world and life miraculously is. No one can explain it. It just happens. Or when winter melts to spring and boldly reminds us that things once dead give to new life- full of luscious beauty and vibrant color. But then there’s Life– the kind that is the mundane and the day by day dreariness. Like when you wander in the wilderness and struggle through difficulty and pass it off as life.

I heard the smallest parts of their stories and I hurt for every one of them.

And I hurt for myself.

I know circumstances wouldn’t have ended any different had I been there. But I would have turned out different, better, with them in my life, and maybe they would have come out a little different if I had been in theirs?

So we shared our stories and tried to wrap years into an hour and a half. We knew we couldn’t package it all up nicely and pass it on to one another, and we didn’t try. This package had no shiny bow. There was no pretending, no hateful words, no should haves or would haves. Just life. Acceptance.

And after so many minutes, my grandma would start questioning-

“Who are these people?”

she’d ask all confused and curious.

“I’m Marlin’s daughter, Stephanie, and this is my daughter Korrie”

I’d remind her. Over and over again. And I didn’t mind at all. It was like reliving that moment again and again. I was reminded of the guilt, but each time it got a little easier.

And every time she’d respond with such emotion and surprise- “Marlin?!” she’d gasp. And I could hear the ache for her son. But she got a little less upset and maybe a little more familiar with the strangers in her living-room. Just maybe. She didn’t cry again, and I began to hope that we’d leave some sort of a whisper in her life. A mark of some sort that we’d been there and she’d remember, somewhere deep and hidden, somewhere safe and secure, that we were her family.

My daughter learned some things that day- family is precious, it’s never too late to connect, and “people struggling with that disease aren’t stupid, they just forget.”

There’s one thing my grandma didn’t forget though, and that’s the power of prayer. Because as we shared hard-to-speak-of-secrets and spoke of Jesus and prayer, she sat up straight and asked right out,

“What do you need prayer for? How can I pray?”

Just pray for life, Grandma, and we’ll praise God for yours.