Tuesday, September 16, 2014

What I learned from #50women, Giveaway & Review

There are many books about Martyrs or men who have been giants for the faith, but not many are dedicated to women of the faith. And why is that, I wonder?

Enter 50 Women Every Christian Should Know.

As I read this book, I was reminded of the women who surrounded Jesus and how their faith is documented in the Gospels. And 'though some of these women in #50Women & the Gospels lived long ago, I was also reminded that we are not separate and isolated cases.  We are one in Christ and for that we are connected. For "there is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to the promise." (Galatians 3:28, 29).

This is our history, my history, as women, as Christians. Despite where we fall on doctrines or theologies, these women stood up for what they believed. This is not about the 5-points of Calvinism or the tenets of one doctrine over another. Instead, this about the appreciation of the trials and tribulations of those who went before us. They believed what they believed, and they were persecuted for it. How can we not learn from history? These #50Women stood by their convictions, even when they struggled for their faith.   

Tale upon tale is told of how they persevered, even to the point of  isolation, ex-communication, exile, and torture. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to try and imagine how devastating it would have been. But these women lived normal lives, some of them were married with children. They were daughters, Mom's and wives, sisters, and Aunts. They were like us. And they had a passion for Jesus, for God, much in the same way many women I know today, do.  

If there's one thing we can learn, it'd be--standing for our faith isn't easy. As I read about these women, I found that courage and faith comes from the most unlikely of sources. And if it came from these, then it still comes today. This also reveals that we are still, in the present day and age, surrounded by unlikely sources, even among our peers, friends, or communities.  

From #50Women, two women's lives stayed with me the most and they shared the same name too, Anne.


Anne Askew (1521-1546) was a daughter of a knighted member of Parliament whose wealthy family afforded her a leisurely life. But her strong believes in Protestant reform and Jesus as her only salvation, kept her from enjoying such wealth. Parts of her history that intrigued me most were these quotes from Michelle's book 50 Women Every Christian Should Know:

After stating, on trial, that she was able to learn about God, through scriptures and that she believed as the scripture informed her. "She angered her prosecutors when she challenged them to find any dishonesty in her, claiming that there were many who claimed to read and know Scripture but who did not live out Jesus' teachings as well as she did."

Anne defended her right to discuss scriptures. But "her male interrogators, who included the Bishop of London and other powerful state and church officials, charged that Anne blatantly disregarded Saint Paul's proclamation that women should remain silent in the churches." (And yet, she continued to proclaim the simple gospel of Jesus to the courts.)

"She emphatically denied the charge of heresy and declared that she would confess her sins not to a priest but to God directly, fully confident that she would be forgiven."


Anne Hutchinson (1591-1643) married her childhood friend, had many children, and took care of her mother-in-law. Plus she was a midwife. But it was the gospel of grace that saved her. Her family moved to Boston just to hear more about this Gospel which was far less confined then her English religion. She discovered the revelation of scripture through the Holy Spirit. But this is also what got her in trouble. Anne's "theology suggested that one could receive the word of God directly from the Holy Spirit, an idea that the colonial leaders found not only threatening but also heretical."

This eventually lead to her being put on trial. In one of the court sessions, "as she went on to cite how the Holy Spirit was revealed to her through verses in Isaiah and Daniel, Anne gathered steam, concluding her testimonial with this emphatic declaration: 'Therefore, take heed how you proceed against me, for you have no power over my body. Neither can you do me harm, for I am in the hands of the eternal Jehovah my Savior. I am at his appointment.'"


***I'd love for you to have one of these books for your library. It is a great resource! Leave a comment below and I'll pick a winner on Sunday, Sept 21st.

***Also, Michelle Derusha is giving away some gifts as well. So make the rounds by clicking on her name.

Shared at Michelle's #50Women book launching post. Yay!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

So Maybe I Was A Wrong & The Seaon I Can't Shake

He said there would be times that we'd desire to see The Day, and yet we "will not see it." We are the ones, the people group, who desire after a sign because we want justice already and who is able to bring it but God, Himself? And I've read and re-read, because surely I've had it right (or wrong in this case)? That I am to know, that we will know, the times and the seasons? In my furious word search, I only found things like: take heed, watch, and pray. But as for the seasons, I found that it is not for me to know.

So I walked away, empty-handed from what I once believed this meant to me. These days there is a river of peace and hope that endures beyond my feeble understanding, beyond the media frenzy, beyond what the world is offering both in blessings and persecutions. I have been carried away by these two themes and for the life of me, I haven't been able to shake them.

This leaves me to watch the crimson red in our Autumn Blaze, or the fading gold's from an October Glory, and the chilly finger of dropping temps crawling up my arm from my favorite patio chair. I will keep my eye out for the leaf to fall, one after another, until I have a pile of them blowing away, to God knows where.

It'd seem the season keeps telling me what time it is and there are days my soul may cry for a little bit of heaven but, Oh!, the maples which ignite with life right here in front of me. And then there is the news which borough's like burned cigarette stains inside my aching soul for all the pain out there, that is more than one person can bear.

So I will heed, watch, and pray. And maybe my prayers will resemble groans and heartache, rather than intelligible words. But I will look for the rain that is surely to come as the Live Oaks, the Post Oaks, the Winged Elm, and the Chinese Pistachio trees begin to slip off their garments in praise. 

I believe where evil increases, Good increases even more.

All in all, each season is a co-laboring one where there are no separations when people are
one in Christ.

And if I peeled the layers back, took my French-English-Germanic-American Indian roots out of the equation, if I removed any identifying markers, and peered into the roots of each and every season, the ministry of reconciliation would look all the same. I need God and I need to be reconciled even if I'm swimming upstream against my angst and my own personal cynic.
"He has committed to us the message of reconciliation." 2 Corinthians 5:19 NKJ

We are called to be salty and we may have our ideas of how that looks when played out, but it too ends with peace for one another. I firmly believe that each of us was designed so uniquely that no two gifts will look the same, even though God says that there are many.

That has been like marrow to my soul.  I know the world can not offer true peace, for that is as fruitless as the rumors surrounding its wars. But rather there is a peace, the kind Jesus gives, the kind that continues to baffle me, the kind which holds hands with the salty ones, the kind that seasons me. And that right there is the season of hope for me and a season I have come to know.
"Salt is good, but if the salt loses its flavor, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another.” Mark 9:58


Monday, August 11, 2014

I'm A White Girl in the Deep South And I'm "Going There"

As a child, I remember passing swampy trees with large trunks in water with moss hanging from limbs in haunted fashion. I liked the windows rolled down with the Arkansas wind loudly roaring in my ears with a "Rhinestone Cowboy." Down large dirt roads, for miles, I remember driving out to my cousin's cotton farm. I remember long days of playing near the chicken's coop, running along a muddy creek, or climbing the old tractor in the barn, and flat horizon's of rows and rows of cotton stretching as far as my small eye could see.

There were nights spent on the screened-in porch, playing cards after midnight. And running between dusty lanes of low-lying white balls stuck inside twiggy branches. And chasing a dirt devil as if we could catch a tornado. Or standing on the edge of the freshly picked cotton piled high in a red metal trailer about 12 feet up and me falling backwards, laughing, into a puff of white. Some of the blackest things I knew back then were my bare feet.

My young southern-brewed days were full of 8-tracks and vinyl records with the likes of Neil Diamond, John Denver, Frankie Valli, and Barry Manilow. I caught toads as large as my hand and ran from yellow jackets and red wasps.

But when we moved into our country home near brown lakes and hot springs the neighbor girl, Carmen, soon became one of my closest friends. She was black. I remember being at her house, how kind her family was to me, and how I wished they could be my cousins too. I did not think of color or differences, back then. And I was not color blind. It just was.

It wasn't until we moved to Georgia that color became bigger than me. And if I wanted to be color-"blind", after living there, I no longer could.

As a teenager, I drove my white Ford pinto, with my snazzy tape player and my ultra-cool sunroof popped open, down the long strip where we cruised. And when I entered the Bojangle's restaurant on the south side I got a taste of segregation. I chatted distractedly with my friend as we pushed through the tinted glass door to order my favorite biscuit. It was then, I looked around. It was then I noticed color. It was then I noticed I was the whitest thing in there. It felt like the whole restaurant was looking at us, black eyes mostly. I didn't know there were "white" areas and "black" areas.

And when I took my guy, black friend home from work, I entered "small harlem." When some black girls hollered at me, to this day, I do not know why. But I can guess. And when my friend told me he could not walk in my white neighborhood at night because he might not live to tell about it, I hardly believed him. I didn't want to believe him.

I went to high school in the deep south. One of those schools being my favorite school of all the schools I ever attended. And I attended many. But this one was special. It was mixed, black and white. I felt the least amount of cliquish-ness among the class.

But there were also invisible lines, I soon found out. I didn't understand why the cute dark-haired white boy was shunned by my white friends until I found out it was because he dated a pretty black girl. They called him names behind their hands but if looks could kill, he'd be too dead to care. White circles and black circles were distinct even if we talked freely between them. But dating? That was a whole other level. So forget about the nice looking black boy on the football team who flirted with me in economics class. I was too scared to "go there."

So when I entered the military in my 20's, the multi-cultural life was a relief. One of my white best friends was in a "mixed" marriage and we talked about race and how these things were new to her. Being raised in the northwest and in a small white town, color was not something she knew much about. But when my friend lived in the south, well, these things became acutely a part of their life.

I despised what I saw. But I am white. Pale, milky white who lived among her white family with her Def Leopard and Motley Crue. And being white, I could sometimes feel the tension which was thick enough to cut my peppered steak at the local Golden Corral.

And it is not just the blacks. After living in Asia, it was another class of Asians who were so poor they were dragged off by their father. From their small hut where monkeys played near the outdoor shower deep in the jungle, young women were taken to work in brothels and strip joints. Beaten as a virgin, a girl is taken from her idyllic home, so she can "better herself" {or their families} to work in back alley clubs or red-light districts. Some American-born women looked down on them because of their seedy beginnings with our American culture which financed it. I know of their stories because they were my friends too. They, who loved their family and would invite me to their big parties with their cousins, neighbors, and people group from their culture. And I cautiously ate weird food I could barely pronounce much less spell.

This is a heart issue that is not exclusive to America or to black and white. Over seas, in places like Africa and the Middle East, ethnic cleansing continues to cycle through history. This is a spiritual issue. Bigger than me. Bigger than my white-ness. But not bigger than God. This is why I listen. Why I strain to learn from other's stories. I don't know how to give them happy endings. But I can listen anyway.

And for me, it was through friendships where color or ethnicity became background issues. I see a friend. Not an ethnic group. Not a particular color group. Not a pat-on-my-back-congratulatory gesture of mixing cultures. But just a friend. A person who's personality endears me, as an individual.

People change when they are in relationship with each other.

Jesus talked to a Samaritan woman, one who was married 5 times, who was living with someone even then, and his own disciples questioned his ethics and boundaries. But then He talked anyway. Because it was in her story, in their stories, that when I listen, I learn to cross lines. But even better, I learn to make friends.


At Kelli's Unforced Rhythm's.

And joining these conversations about "Going there" started by Deidra at Jumping Tandem.

**Jennifer Lee's "I'm a White Girl From Rural Iowa....and I'm 'Going There'".

**Lisa-Jo's "I'm a white girl from South Africa and I'm 'going there'".

**Lori Harris' words about moving her white family into a black
neighborhood here.

**Alia Boston's "On Coming Together" here.

Monday, August 4, 2014

When You Wanted To Quit This Week & Rumors of Wars

Like a faded distant mountaintop standing behind a haze of miles, the headlines scrolled on my computer screen, barely registering in my foggy mind. After traveling from a writer's Retreat and in direct contrast to trivial things, war. Conflict and death and strive and so much information, more than a person can bear. Far removed, by bodies of water and dead bodies of children and languages and cultures I don't understand, how does one comprehend the depths of it?

Exhaustion is real and tangible. This week I've fought heaviness which pulled my eye-lids down. My skin tingled in weariness like a small vibration throughout my body, only stilled by my bones laying in a quiet, soft place. An ache for the heavy mink blanket at the foot of my bed, beckoned a lost battle and so I caved to recalibrate. It is then, I enter an old song and dance of quitting. Everything. I want to stop my ears, my mouth, my heart. Stop everything, dead in it's tracks. Because who can take it all in? Or better yet, who can dish it all out?

So I force myself. I force rest, angry and frustrated that my body needs so much of it.  Back to the patio I went, where Hummingbirds routinely suckle our Red Sage's and wasps flit around from one sweet smell to another. I watched our orange tabby stalk a Fork-Tailed Katydid among the red droppings of our pesky Crape Myrtles in full bloom weighing down the heavy limbs in awkward droops.

A large green sandstone from the front pasture of ankle-high Bermuda was found near one of our many gates. My hubby dug it up, lugged it around with his leather gloves, so we could place it among our white landscaped rocks much in contrast in both size and color. Large enough to bust a gut, this one required a front-end loader to transport past a tin-of-a-shack-dilapidated-abandoned mobile home, down the white-graveled drive, past the old house that was moved on the property over twenty years ago, and past hole-y metal shells of former, commercial chicken houses. With a thud and a few grunts, it was given prominence for a daily viewing directly in line with my favorite lounge chair.

Because I have a life to live and digging up boulders happens to be one of them. And how am I to turn over every stone in this world and live?

How does one carry the weight of the world, much less the weight of words?

And if writing is our way of unloading the weight, then how can we quit?

And maybe my words don't make big thugs and need man-handlers to push them around for me. But I need my words moved, to be re-moved. In some small way, if they're pent up they become boulders. Green hulking sandstones creating lumbering mountains insurmountable for me to climb. If I'm honest, I need to be moved. There are all the things happening, even if nothing new is under the sun, but they are new-to-me in this lifetime. Not new to God, but every beating heart lives them as if they were. Because who could live with such wars, rumors of wars, of fighting and in-fighting, over and over again, forever and forever, until the end? What mortal soul could survive such travesties?

This world needs less of many things, so much so that I could say it needs less of me too. That is, until once again, I am filled with such a word that I'm pregnant with the gestation of more. And I need to be moved and re-moved for a clear view of something I can only see when I put my hand to a proverbial pen. Even as wars rage and death seems as common as it is horrible, I feel the need to push, the need to deliver myself beyond myself to see myself different, to see the world different, to find the Hope in any of it.

I have a life to live. And maybe if I'm noticing it and it hurts like Hades, then maybe that's the best way to live it. The whole world is in birth pangs, so I will not escape the labor. But in-between the hard breaths and gut-belting boulders of the world's news, I will fill up. Then I will feel up this one life I've been given any way that is humanly possible because within me, He holds the key. And one day, rumors and wars will be locked away.

But that day is not today. So I watch my youngest son in his dark blue bathrobe with his ginger hair flapping like a bird-wing as he jumps on the trampoline. And I watch another sunset cast long shadows from a three-year old Red Maple while our yellow lab, Sammy, softly snores from his man cave. And despite the odds, for right now, I let them be children.

And I'll write what I see. Because this life is fragile and hard and sweet and birthing. And who wants to live it as a blind mute?



**Joining Kelli's community of Unforced Rhythms and at Laura's Playdates with God.

"All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us." The Message 8:22-25   

"Don’t fear: I am First, I am Last, I’m Alive. I died, but I came to life, and my life is now forever. See these keys in my hand? They open and lock Death’s doors, they open and lock Hell’s gates. Now write down everything you see..." Revelation 1:17-20

Friday, July 11, 2014

Despite The Pain of It #fmf

Talking on the back porch when the skies are turning their shades of brilliant evening paints has become a marital past time verging on tradition. Many "unpublished" snaps clutter my i-phone and computer.
Lounging on the red and beige-stripped chairs I bought last year at Wal-Mart, my husband pauses as I grab my i-phone for another shot. Shaking his head {perhaps only in his thoughts}, in the usual fashion, because I am known by my distractions of such displays.
A pink cross is hanging over my house which I only notice, just now, as I include it here for this post. And how perfect.
At the end of my daily battles, my tears of failure and fears on being a {homeschooling} teacher, Mom, wife, writer, and keeper of things near and dear to my heart, this is where I belong. More than this family, these kids {near and far}, more than these parents who live down the graveled road and past our cattle guard. More than the sister who is the best-est friend a girl can have, who's willing to expand our circle and "adopt" more sisters along our merry way. More than the hardships endured and the small victories of accomplishing math without whine and grind. More than the anxiety building as my boys near high school. More than the laughter of good friends and sitting on cool leather couches visiting on a hot July day. More than the pleasure of meeting writing friends and finding ones coming out of the woodwork within my own circle, locally.
Bigger than a Dugger household, we belong to One who writes love letters in the sky. We belong, you and I, despite the pain of it some days. 
We belong.
Five Minute Friday is over here at Crystal Stine's today. Join us by linking your own post on "Belong."
Also at Diane Baileys, Photo Friday, join her debut link up today!