Thursday, March 8, 2012

the true beauty of women...

{source unknown}

Today is International Women’s Day! I’m so glad, thanks I’m sure in part to the www, that America is finally acknowledging this day a little more. (although we still have a long way to go) As a proud feminist (before ant Christians get into a tizzy about that word…there are several different kinds of feminists…and I am not remotely ashamed to stand for equal rights for my gender), I believe we should have a day in which we are honored and remembered…considering all the nonsense we put up with on a daily basis.

Since almost the beginning…women have been oppressed...labeled more easily deceived…been silenced...been exploited...declared less than.

Why? The Garden. It aaaalllllll goes back to the garden. Sadly, that most beautiful yet heartbreaking story has been twisted, from our Sunday School flannel graphs all the way to the pulpit, to put the blame where it did not belong. Eve has been the false bearer of the entire blame for too many generations. Yet, have you noticed no where in the Bible does Eve ever get blamed? Have you noticed that it was, in fact, Adam who gets blamed? (Job 31:33, Hosea 6:7, Rom 5:14) AND…if you go back and read the story without your pre-conceived traditional glasses on…you’ll see why.  

Now the subject of The Fall is big…GIANT…EnOrMoUs. And I just can't fully go into it here. Although I can at a later date…or I can point you in the direction of a GREAT teaching on it…(info in the comment section)

But this is what I will say, for the context of this day…

When Eve and the Serpent were having their infamous convo…most of our lovely little flannel graph’s show Adam to be no where in sight. We allude that after she takes a bite of ‘the apple’…she runs off and finds him and manipulates him into eating it too. Nope. Read it again…(Gen 3:6) Adam was there, right. there. beside her. In fact, the Hebrew literally says he was there, “at her elbow”. He heard the whole thing. He participated in the whole thing. He never stepped out and stopped her from being deceived.
(*note- things were already breaking down long before this point. This just happened to be the final straw. And I’m not saying it was ONLY Adam’s fault either. Don't swing the other way. There was equal blame for The Fall.)

So here’s where the story gets really interesting…God comes back to confront them…and asks Adam, “Dude, what the heck?” (Jenn's paraphrased version) And what does Adam do? He freaks out…and has the audacity to turn and blame God for the whole thing. Bad call, Adam. Bad call.
Gen 3:11 And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.” 

Obviously that wasn’t the wisest move. 

BUT...when God asks goes like this... Gen 3:13 And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”  Eve's words are simple but powerful: "The serpent deceived me, and I ate." And the way this is worded in the Hebrew, she is speaking in a very repentant way. 

Now remember, (despite the flannel graphs) the people involved here were God, Adam, Eve,…and the Serpent. So even though the root of all this is right in front of them, Adam chose to blame God for his sin. But Eve? She owns up. BUT most importantly…and here’s the key in all of this…SHE EXPOSES THE ENEMY. She put the blame where the blame lied. She went to the root of the problem and pointed it out for all to see.

And that’s when the most beautiful thing happened. By doing this, Eve opened the door for redemption…and God created the path…
Gen 3:15   And I will put enmity 
                 Between you and the woman, 
                 And between your seed and her seed; 
                 He shall bruise you on the head, 
                 And you shall bruise him on the heel.” 

The door was opened, and down that precious path, a Messiah would come, thousands of years later…who was destined to be born of a women, according to God’s promise, yet not of a man, through who iniquity (sin) would be passed down. And His life, death, and glorious resurrection would bring Salvation…and take us back to the intimacy of relationship with our Creator and the gift of a New Birth that restores what was lost in the Garden.

I flippin love that.

But...because of this exposure, the enemy obviously became angry. It was a woman who exposed him. It was a promise of purpose that it would be the woman who would crush his head. And a war was waged.

Do you see? It was established in our foundation as women, that part of our forever purpose is to expose the enemy...and to point to the direction of redemption and salvation. And from that moment in the garden…the enemy has been on overdrive to shut us up. We are oppressed in almost every country in the world. (interesting that the oppression is strongest in the region where the Garden once was) We are 2nd class citizens in every major religion. Our own God-breathed scriptures have been twisted and taken far out of context to try to silence us in our very own places of worship. Even the traditional story of Eve has been twisted and mixed and mingled with the Greek myth of Pandora...a story of a woman who was made responsible for allowing evil to be released into the world, all because she made a poor choice. 

The Enemy wants us silent. But we will not be silent. Despite the oppression, we will rise up and take our places in this world. We will grab hold of our purposes and callings. We will stand as one mighty army. We will continue down with the same path that was opened with Eve. We will not be silent...we will pray, declare, sing, and publish the Good News that is within us. We will live out the prophetic words of Psalm 68. Psalm 68:11 The Lord gives the word [of power]; the women who bear and publish [the news] are a great host.

My office in my home is filled with WWII posters of women joining the fight. And it’s soon to be filled wall to wall with world changing women, past and present, who are rising up and making a difference. The ones who have gone before us…facing unspeakable odds to bring freedom and equality. Ones who have loved the unlovable, ones who have brought comfort, ones who stood for justice, ones who have fought for change. I love seeing this constant reminder of the army of which I am proud to be a part. 

So celebrate today. Celebrate the women around you. Pause and reflect on the true beauty of our gender. Honor the world changers among us. Love on those who have made a difference in your own life. And ask God to show you your place in this beautiful army of warriors.  

I loved this article I saw earlier on some ways to celebrate... (and if it's too late can start planning for next year!) International Women’s Day: 10 ways to celebrate

Sunday, March 4, 2012

the treasure of a simple miracle...

So in my last post I got to announce the exciting news that I finally have a job again. And as much as it was an amazing answer to prayer…there was a more profound miracle that took place, in the natural...and in my heart. One that stemmed from a deep issue I have rooted in my soul. In a vulnerable confession, I'll tell you that I have a deep fear of being disappointment by God. Although I do my best to stand on the Truth of His character...even with weak, shaking is something in which my Spirit and soul are in constant battle. ("Because feelings & circumstances are real...but they are not Truth." ~Tamara Winslow) 

Ok, so you know that saying Christians love to declare…“God’s never late…it may not be in your timing…but God’s ALWAYS on time.” 

Blah blah blahblahblah.
Give. Me. A. Break. I wanna push people down when they say that. I’ve always hated that phrase. First, is that even Biblical? If so…PLEASE show me. Cause I personally haven’t seen that theology stated anywhere in the Bible. I just think it's something we like to say.

But the facts are…He is often…actually, mostly…late in my life. And it. is. agony. There’s always those great stories of people needing an answer or miracle and at the very literal last minute, God comes through. Who doesn’t love those stories? We all do. But those are seldom my stories. My stories are those that when I need a miracle…the literal last minute happens…and nothing. Hours...days…after chaos and messes abound from the lack of a miracle…when I’m heartbroken and confused and an unfunctional mess because I think I’ve missed God…suddenly…SURPRISE…He shows up. And sometimes it’s with an even bigger miracle than I originally needed to cover the mess that was caused because it was late. And sometimes it’s not bigger, and I’m left running to catch up and clean up the pieces from the mess…as I sit and wonder why? Why was it late? Did I miss God? Was I doing something wrong? Is this my lot in life? Did God forget I was here…and so didn’t come through until He suddenly remembered me? 

I sometimes think I just live a Lazarus kind of life…that God constantly wanted the sitch dead and rotting before saving it. But why was He always working this way? And don’t you just assume God went ahead and fully healed Lazarus’ grody decomposing flesh? God didn’t just raise him…He brought wholeness to the situation. So then why was I sometimes left with the horrible aftermath of the late miracle to take care of by myself??? Every new situation I'd hope and pray it would be different. And almost every time, I was devastatingly disappointed. 

Because this has been the painful reoccurring theme in my life, I tend to want to throw stuff at people who say God is never late. I was even fine to live a Lazarus kind of life if that’s what God was needing me to do…but I was never ok when the healed rotting flesh wasn’t part of the gig.

So I had one main prayer during this whole last season of unemployment. I wanted to be done with the government before they were done with me. All I asked was that the next steps be shown and my next job be there before my unemployment ran out. I begged God from the beginning that this would be different…that for once in my life the bigger miracle wasn’t needed…that there was no rotting flesh that even needed to be healed…that for once, I didn’t have to hold my breath waiting to see if God would come though this time. I didn’t want to go weeks, or for goodness sakes, months…with zero income. Little income was bad enough. And I’m pretty anti-living off the government, so I really wanted to be done with them as soon as possible.

So the talks with the company I now work for began just before I started my last tier of unemployment. I knew I was getting close to the end. I knew God was saying this was the job…they just had too much going on, and aren’t really the fastest moving people when it comes to hiring new employees. But I thought for a while I might have my miracle WAY early. Silly me.

As the talks got more serious and close together, I started my last section of unemployment-that was actually through the state of CO. I was still feeling ok about the timing maybe working out (even though the process was getting more complicated)…but I was desperately trying not to get my hopes up out of my deep fear of disappointment. Because I had started State Emergency Benefits I had to go to an orientation about this new process. It was all so crazy to me. Even on the way to the orientation I was exchanging emails with my future boss…yet, it still wasn’t becoming ‘official’. Then at the orientation…my heart sank as I learned the horrid news… Because of legislation, all…aaaallllll, no matter where you’re at in the process, all state benefits would stop the second week of March. I was shocked. This was only a couple weeks away. I still had the glimmer of hope for a job (although I was stressed for the people in the room with me)…but they were still far from a hurry to move forward…my hope for a NON-Lazarus miracle was slipping further and further away. I prayed and begged God for my miracle. I kept reminding Him it had been my only request throughout the last season. In the midst of the silence…in the midst of my confusion…in the midst of the wilderness...the only thing I had asked was that I would be done with the government before they were done with me.

And my one prayer was answered.

He wasn’t early…but this time, He fact, right. on. time.

I requested my last payment of unemployment this week…the money may have run out from the government (although further legislation could change this and I could have been approved for back pay)…but irregardless…it was my last request because He came through, and I am officially on a company’s payroll.

It wasn’t a Lazarus miracle this time. There wasn't a need to ask for a miracle to cover a stressful rotting flesh mess. But it was a miracle...of epic proportions. And for once, I get to just easily and gracefully maneuver through...

...and my soul sighs in relief. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

FINALLY...into the new...

“Who is this coming up from the wilderness…
Leaning on her beloved?” Song of Solomon 8:5

Finally...after a year and a half…I am employed again! I can’t even begin to explain all my emotions in all of this. (in fact, I already know this has to be split up into different posts)

This last season was long. Loooooong…at least a year and a half long. I don’t exactly know how to explain it, but it was a hard, dry, weary, refreshing, uncomfortable, restful, agonizing, wrestling, blessed season. I wouldn't ever trade it or ever wish for anything different.

When I lost my job, I began praying about what I would possibly do. All God said, was ‘Wait’. When I probed for more…He only said, ‘Rest.”  I truly thought this was just figurative. You know, learn to be at rest, in your spirit, while you’re moving 90 miles an hour in life. But nope, that’s not what He meant. He meant- nothing. And that’s what happened. (despite my best efforts to get around it) And it was good.

And then, many months later, (more than I had ever imagined) He announced that the rest was over. And I naively thought that meant a job was around the corner…and then days…weeks…more months went by. And this part was tough. Really tough. God would speak to me about any and every issue in the world…except about what was coming for my life. Anytime I would ask about this season, or what the season to come would look like…I’d hear nothing. Just that eerie silence with only the crickets chirping. I was confused. I was apprehensive and fearful I was missing something. I was a mess on the inside…all while I became very busy in my schedule…constantly doing something, going somewhere, connecting with someone. I loved the freedom I had during the day…and tried to savor the moments, knowing that as soon as a job appeared, I’d have to let go of that freedom. So while I was loving life in the natural…I felt like I was in a barren, confused wilderness in the spiritual.

Throughout this time I’d dread the inevitable questions from everyone around me... “Any job prospects?” “What’s your plan?” “What do you think God is saying?” On and on they went. Oh, how I hated these moments. At least with people who knew God, I could give somewhat of an answer too…explaining that I was waiting on Him…but didn’t know what His plan was yet. But to my non-God-loving people…it was excruciating to come up with acceptable answers. To very few, did I ever feel like I could be 100% honest…I knew that I knew that I knew that God would just hand me a job…I just didn’t know when…or how. But He always had before, in unconventional ways, and even though I knew very little about this season…I knew that. I just didn’t know how to explain it. I was applying, half heartedly to jobs, because that’s “what I was supposed to do”…but I knew nothing would come from them. It just kept the government happy…and made it easier to give answers to everyone’s questions as to what I was doing.

It’s funny, in the beginning of this process…I heard this comment, “I don’t know about you, but I’ve never had a job just handed to me…I’ve always had to go out and search it out, work for finding it.” Everyone in the room agreed. I just smiled on the inside. Why? Because 97% of my jobs have just been handed to me. They've all come from a connection of some sort. The only exceptions were my very first 2 jobs…and then one that as I was searching the want ads in the paper, God pointed to one and said- “There, go apply there. That’s where you're going to work.” So I did. Imagine the momentary awkwardness during that interview when I was asked why I had applied…and I decided to truthfully share. But hey, if you can’t do that at an interview to work at a church, where can you? (and yes, I did get that job)

And so, it happened this time too. Through the organization my best friend works with…I am now employed. I knew for sure that was the plan of God around the end of last year...but had to push through to make it happen. It’s with an exchange student program. I’ll be working with the National Office…helping track and organize the happenings of the company. The pay is more than I’ve ever made (which, unfortunately isn’t that much to brag about), I get to travel, I get to do things I’m good at and will enjoy, and the bestest bestest part…is that I get to work from home! I. know! So everything that I most enjoyed in this last season…the freedom, the connections, etc…I won’t lose. That is beyond an answered prayer…because I was refusing to get my hopes up about that…and would barely allow myself to pray for it. Course now, I feel kinda obligated to start popping out some babies…cause momma’s everywhere are sure to be envious of my work from home position.

So there’s the news! There’s a specific aspect to this amazing timing that I’ll write about next...a hugely massive miracle that took place in my life. And then I’ll tell about the day this all happened…when Heaven was working overtime…

It's been a long time coming...but my new season has finally begun...