Thursday, March 26, 2009

A New Name and More

Last week, I received my "Captivating" heart to heart DVD curriculum in the mail. I had bought this after getting a CBD catalog which offered a special code to get the entire curriculum for about 75% off. It was too awesome to pass up on.

So yesterday, I was sitting down to one of the discussions with these lovely women on the DVD. They were sharing their own stories of how God showed each of them His heart toward them, as opposed to the lies the enemy had thrown at them as little girls and even now. One beautiful woman shared how a friend prayed for her one day and felt that God was calling her His sunshine and His delight. These words from God moved her because she had always loved light and the way it reflected on things. Well, not long after this lady's friend gave her that word, her co-worker began calling her "sunshine". He had no idea that God had called her that first. As time went on, God just kept reinforcing to her in a myriad of ways that she was His sunshine, until she finally believed it. Since her childhood, she had felt there was something dark about her. But God broke the lies of the enemy with the truth of how He saw her. He gave her a new name.

Another woman shared how one weekend she went to a retreat and the speakers were encouraging everyone to ask God what His name for them was. The woman sharing this story did so but never "heard" anything from God. Disappointed, she told her friends that she had not heard anything and they prayed for her. She and her friends discussed her struggles with fear and so they prayed over that fear. The character of "Much-Afraid" from the book Hinds Feet on High Places came to this woman's mind, and she thought to herself- that is who I am, Much Afraid. She was thinking about what the enemy called her. But when she got home from her retreat that weekend, she sat down and opened the book mentioned above. Without any intention on her part, she opened it to the very page in which the Shepherd told Much Afraid that she would no longer be called that, but her new name would be Grace and Glory.

I just teared up when I heard these stories. And it made me think of my story.

I will not go into details, but basically I often felt "alone", "neglected", "unwanted", and "undesired". In a way, those were the "names" the enemy would place in my heart. I just did not feel many people were interested in me or delighted in me.

Well, last night God brought a scripture to my mind, and as I went to read it, I realized that there was so much more to it than I had known. I knew it spoke of God giving us a new name, one showing that He delights in us. But I had not known the extent to what else that scripture was saying. As I read it, I knew that God was speaking to me and giving me a new name, or actually two new names (as He did with the "Much Afraid" to "Grace and Glory" woman).

God spoke these names to me: "Hephzibah" (which means my delight is in her) and "Sought Out".

"You shall no more be termed Forsaken...But you shall be called Hephzibah [My delight is in her]... for the Lord delights in the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you...Behold, the Lord has proclaimed to the end of the earth: Say to the Daughter of Zion, Behold, your salvation comes [in the person of the Lord]...and you shall be called Sought Out...not Forsaken." (Isaiah 62 Amplified)

Forsaken. That word means neglected and left alone. That is the opposite of delighting in someone. To delight in someone means to take pleasure in them and desire them; which is the opposite of being unwanted.

Wow. God has not forsaken me. He wants me. He takes pleasure in me. He delights in me. He calls me Hephzibah, because His delight is in me. He rejoices over me. Not only that, but He does the opposite of leaving me alone: He calls me "Sought Out". Do you know what that means? It means "to seek with care". I am not forsaken; I am sought out. I am pursued. I am romanced.

God spoke this to me in such a personal way. But it is true for you also.

I will leave you all with these quotes from the book Captivating. We are sought; God does seek us and delight in us.

"Why do our days seem so unimportant, filled not with romance and adventure but with duties and demands? We feel unseen, even by those who are closest to us. We feel unsought- that no one has the passion or the courage to pursue us."

"Most of our addictions as women flare up when we feel that we are not loved or sought after...every woman wants to be seen, wanted, and pursued...We desire to possess a beauty that is worth pursuing."

"We have all heard it said that a woman is most beautiful when she is in love. It's true. When a woman knows that she is loved, she glows from the inside. This radiance stems from a heart that has had its deepest questions answered. "Am I lovely? Am I worth fighting for? Have I been and will I continue to be romanced?" When these questions are answered, yes, a restful, quiet spirit settles in a woman's heart."

"You have been and you will continue to be romanced all your life...every memory you cherish, every moment that has moved you to holy tears, all have been given to you from the One who has been pursuing you from your first breath in order to win your heart. God's version of flowers and chocolates and candlelight dinners comes in the form of sunsets and falling stars, moonlight on the lakes and cricket symphonies; warm wind, swaying trees, lush gardens and fierce devotion...He knows what takes your breath away, knows what makes your heart beat faster."

"God has been wooing you ever since you were a little girl...What romanced your heart as a girl? Horses in a field? The fragrance of the air after a summer rain? Was it a favorite book like the Secret Garden? The first snowfall in winter?...These were all whispers from your Lover, notes sent to awaken your heart's longings."

"We have missed many of his love notes simply because we shut down our hearts in order to endure the pain of life. Now, we must open our hearts that we can hear his whispers, receive his kisses...If we listen, a Sacred Romance calls to us through our whispers to us in the wind...reaches out to us through the touch of someone we love...we've sensed it at the birth of our first child, been drawn to it while watching the shimmer of a sunset on the ocean...Something calls to us through experiences like these and rouses an inconsolable longing, deep within our heart, wakening in us a yearning for intimacy, beauty and adventure."

"God has written the romance not only on our hearts but all over the world around us. What we need is for him to open our eyes, to open our ears that we might recognize his voice calling to us, see his hand wooing us in the beauty that quickens our heart."

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Making Reading Fun

I have begun to incorporate more of Charlotte Mason's ideas in my reading lessons. The purpose is to learn the elements of our English language through reading real and interesting material, and not just a list of words. It is also combining sight reading with phonics. I am choosing poems that I would like Sarah to read, and from those poems I am creating her phonics lessons.

For example, here is the poem we began today:

A Kite

I often sit and wish that I

Could be a kite up in the sky
And ride upon the breeze and go

Whichever way I chance to blow

Today Sarah read the first two lines to me. I allowed her to pronounce the word "often" incorrectly, with the normal short o sound. I asked her if that was a word, and then explained to her how in some words the o makes a different sound. I told her the word and she continued to read. The next word I knew she would need to learn is "could". Again, I told her the word and she continued up to the word "sky" which also needed an explanation since she has not yet learned the sounds "y" makes.

Next I wrote a list on our little whiteboard of other words in which o makes the same sound as in "often", such as: off, soft, dog, cloth, etc. I asked her to read those words to me and she did splendidly!

Next I showed her a flash card that had the letter combination of "ould" on it. I told her the sound those letters made together and wrote "ould" on the whiteboard three times. Then I put three different letters or letter combinations in front of each "ould": could, would and should. She read those words to me and now we will need to drill the "ould" flashcard daily as she becomes familiar with that odd letter combination.

Tomorrow I will have her read those two sentences again, review what we learned today and then explain that "y" at the end of "sky" is the long i sound. I'll make a list of other words such as cry, shy, and even longer ones like dragonfly. The next day Sarah will read the last two lines of the poem, and through doing so, she will learn the sound "er" makes (Whichever...under, after, number, person, government, sister, verse, thunder...just to name a few) and then she'll learn "ay" (Way...clay, May, tray, etc) and "ow" (Blow...grow, snow, bowl, window, yellow, elbow, etc). That is how the lessons work.

Eventually she will not only be able to read the words in the poem, but also words that are in the same "word family" whenever they come up. And she will probably have the poem memorized by then, naturally, just by reading it so much! This is just an example of how Charlotte Mason's ideas can be incorporated into reading lessons.

This is a great combination of creativity and imagination ( in the poetry), but also phonics and drill (as we will drill "ow", "ay", "er", etc. with our flashcards daily). This is the approach I will be taking with the rest of Sarah's reading lessons. It makes it a bit more interesting both for her and myself:)

Take Action Today to Help the Helpless

Please take a few moments of your time to let your voice be heard...the most helpless and defenseless need us.

"When we consider that women are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit." - Elizabeth Cady Stanton, an early American feminist

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you..." (GOD)


Stop the Abortion Bailout

Abortion groups have submitted their 50 page proposal to the Obama-Biden transition team. At the top of the list? More taxpayer dollars for abortion organizations like Planned Parenthood. How much more? Over 1.5 billion dollars more!

The Abortion Bailout Package:

  • $1 BILLION dollars in taxpayer funding for International Abortion Groups
  • $700 million in taxpayer funding for “Title X” Health Clinics (aka your local Planned Parenthood affiliate)
  • $65 million for the UNFPA, an international aid organization connected to coercive abortion as part of China’s coercive one-child policy
  • Repeal the Hyde Amendment – Vastly expanding federal taxpayer funding for abortions
  • Include Abortion coverage in any taxpayer-subsidized national health care program
  • Expand taxpayer-funded abortions on military bases
  • Expand taxpayer-funded abortions through the Peace Corps program
  • Expand taxpayer-funded abortions for federal prisoners
Send a letter to your Senators today demanding that they keep your tax dollars out of the pockets of abortion providers.

Take Action Here



Comment on Obama's Attack on Conscience Rights

On January 20, 2009, President Bush implemented regulations that would protect health care workers who refuse to participate in abortion-related activities from discrimination. President Obama and his Department of Health and Human Services have published their intent to overturn these regulations. The regulations are intended to educate health care professionals, as well as the general public, about the rights of medical personnel to treat their patients in accordance with their conscience, free from discrimination or intimidation. They also give health care professionals a way to press charges in the event that they experience discrimination. By law the Obama Administration must leave a 30 day period open for the public to comment on his repeal of the right of conscience. Please write into the Department of Health and Human Service today and tell them that you oppose discrimination on account of conscience!

Take Action Here



Stop Pro-Abortion Lawyer Dawn Johnsen's Nomination!

Dawn Johnsen has been appointed by President Obama to serve as Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel in the Department of Justice. The Office of Legal Counsel advises the federal government on how to interpret policy, law, and regulations in light of the Constitution. Dawn Johnsen will determine the legal course of the entire Administration, deciding what is or isn’t Constitutional. Here is just a brief summary of Dawn Johnsen's pro-abortion creditentials: Dawn Johnsen has worked for the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project and she was the legal director for the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL). Johnsen has compared pregnancy to slavery. In 1989, she wrote that abortion restrictions such as the partial-birth abortion ban and parental notification laws result in “forced pregnancies”, which she claimed amounts to “involuntary servitude”. She has argued that the government should strip the Catholic Church and other religious denominations of their tax exempt status because of their pro-life advocacy. She believes that a pre-born child has no separate existence apart from the mother and a women’s right to bodily autonomy always overrides the pre-born child’s development and health. She has compared pro-life protesters to the Ku Klux Klan. She was heavily involved in the authorship of the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), which would repeal every state and federal restriction on abortion and further enshrine abortion as the law of the land. In a paper given to mark the 35th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision she said the first priority of the progressive agenda was to “focus on the courts as the vehicle of desired change”. Johnsen has a long track record of intolerance to positions conflicting with her own pro-abortion agenda. Write your Senators today and stop Dawn Johnsen’s nomination to the Office of Legal Counsel.

Take Action Here

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Made In God's Image, as a Female Part 5: Interdependent Ezers

This will be my last entry regarding how women uniquely bear the image of their Creator. That is, until God reveals more to me, which I think He will:)

Let's recall the creation of the first man and the first woman together. Genesis 1 reveals to us how God, being a Trinity of Father, Son and Spirit, said: Let us make man in our image...and let them rule...over all the earth. So God created man in his own image...male and female He created them. God blessed them and said to them, Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and subdue it. When we read on to Genesis 2, we learn a more detailed account of creation: There was no man to work the earth God made until He formed Adam out of the dust of the ground. He put Adam in the garden to care for it. Then God said that it is not good for the man to be alone, and He would make an "Ezer" for the man. So He formed all sorts of animals out of the ground and brought them to the man. Adam named them, but none of them met his needs. None of the animals was the Ezer for Adam. So God caused Adam to sleep, and removed one of his ribs while he slept. That rib God fashioned into a woman, and brought her to the man. Adam finally had what he so desired and called Eve bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh.

In your Bible, the Hebrew word "Ezer" is probably translated as "helper". And I think that translation is fine, as long as we understand just what it means to be a "helper". As women, God made us to be helpers, yes. But what do you think of when you picture your design as a helper? What kind of help are we speaking of?

Did you know that a woman is a helper the same way God is our helper? It is true. Here is another aspect in which God and women share characteristics. Here is another way we bear the image of God. Just as He is an "Ezer", we are an "Ezer". "The word ezer is used only twenty other places in the entire Old Testament. And in every other instance the person being described is God Himself, when you need him to come through for you desperately." (Captivating) Here are some scriptures in which God is said to be our help, or our ezer:

"He is your shield and helper and your glorious sword." (Deut. 33:29b)

"I lift up my eyes to the hills- where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth." (Ps. 121:1-2)

"We wait in hope for the Lord, He is our help and our shield." (Ps. 33:20)

The following revelations are from the book Ruby Slippers:

An Ezer delivers: "The God of my father was my help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh." (Exodus 18:4)

An Ezer is a warrior: "Hear, O Lord, the voice of Judah, And bring him to his people; Let his hands be sufficient for him, And may you be a help against his enemies." (Deut. 33:7)

An Ezer supports: "May He send you help from the sanctuary and support you from Zion." (Psalm 20:2)

Ezer delivers the afflicted and needy: "But I am afflicted and needy; Hasten to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer, O Lord, do not delay." (Psalm 40:5)

Ezer gives hope: "How blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God." (Psalm 146:5)

"Woman is Man's Ezer- she is a delivering, warring, supporting, shielding, capable, and vibrant female image bearer of God. What about putting those words in our Bible's margin to refresh our understanding of helper?" (Ruby Slippers)

Now I hope all my readers have a better understanding of a woman's "helper" design. It is a powerful, vital part of her soul. Eve was right there with Adam when God told them to "rule" the earth and "subdue" it. Both man and woman are made for dominion.

"Have you ever wondered why the Cinderella story keeps haunting us?...Why is this notion of a hidden princess (and a prince who comes to find her) so enduring? Is there something in our hearts that is trying to speak to us? Is it just a fantasy, escapism? Or is it something more?...We are reminded of Pascal's metaphor, that our unmet longings and unrequited desires are in fact 'the miseries of a dethroned monarch.' Mankind is like a king or queen in exile, and we cannot be happy until we have recovered our true state. What would you expect the Queen of a kingdom and the beauty of a realm to feel when she wakes to find herself a lundress in a foreign land? A woman's struggle with her sense of worth points to something glorious she was designed to be. The great emptiness we feel points to the great place we were created for. It's true. All those legends and fairy tales of the undiscovered princess and the beauty hidden as a maid are more accurate than we thought. There's a reason girls resonate with them so." (Captivating)

We were created as Ezers, and an Ezer is vital. She is needed.

And we not only are needed, but we like the fact that we are needed. We want to be needed. Somewhere deep down, we know that we were created to fill a need. And thus, most women are very relational, or what can be termed "interdependent" (term taken from Ruby Slippers).

"Because I am interdependent...I desire to be needed by others. Relationships provide the means for me to understand my past, my goals, my character, my work, and my methods, and I emotionally want that." (Ruby Slippers)

Think about the beginning of creation again. Eve was created because it was not good for the man to be alone. She was not only created for another, but she was created from another. All else was created out of the dust of the ground, but not Eve. She was created from another human, the man. This alone reveals something amazing.

"Her first experience and environment was with another. She glided from life with God (he made her while man was asleep, bringing her to him) into a comradeship with Adam. She experienced human interaction soon after her creation. She exists and immediately is known. The first words Eve hears is the language of another loving her back. She awakens to be needed and loved. She lives and is quickly united to another. There are no long hours of naming and waiting and feeling alone." (Ruby Slippers)

Is it no wonder that women are such relational humans then?

"Man's love is of man's life a thing apart; 'Tis a woman's whole existence." (Byron)

"The interdependence that colors our souls is when our identity emerges from within our intimacy, when we see ourselves as 'me in a relationship' rather than 'me as autonomous'." (Ruby Slippers)

So women tend to be interdependent, relational to their core humans. Looking at the creation of Eve, we can understand why. But is there more to this? Do we reveal something of the character of God through our interdependence? Is this another way we are made in His image?

Remember the Trinity.

God has always been three persons- Father, Son and Holy Spirit. They always had each other. Neither was ever one alone. And their identity was always connected with the others in the Godhead.

"Eve is like God in that she knew life in relationship and love; she was never a lone human. Like God, Eve experienced identity with another who was equal to her." (Ruby Slippers)

"As echoes of the Trinity, we are relational to the core..." (Captivating)

"Christianity dignifies interdependence. It is the only religion that offers interdependence in the very nature of God...His identity is forged from his intimacy more than the most interdependent...woman....When women depend on each other, we are smaller pictures of the Trinity...If we ever wonder if our interdependence is essentially weakness, we need only look to God...We are like God when we engage in identity making relationships." (Ruby Slippers)

How else does a woman's relational nature speak to us something of God? What does it reveal?

"Most women define themselves in terms of their relationships, and the quality they deem those relationships have. This is not a weakness in women- it is a glory. A glory that reflects the heart of God. The vast desire and capacity a woman has for intimate relationships tells us of God's vast desire and capacity for intimate relationships." (Captivating)

"We are just small souls compared to God and can only handle a small portion of His soul characteristics. God is 'bigger', so He can handle more good, more love, more intimacy, more choices, more emotions." (Ruby Slippers)

"So God endows woman with certain qualities that are essential to relationship, qualities that speak of God. She is inviting. She is vulnerable. She is tender. She embodies mercy. She is also fierce and fiercely devoted...Our God is a tenderhearted God who yearns for relationship with us. If you have any doubt about that, simply look at the message he sent us in woman." (Captivating)

A woman reveals something of God's nature on earth through her relational gifts. She reveals that God desires relationships with us. God is relational to His core. She also reveals that God has an amazing capacity for relationships, one we cannot fully understand. But through woman, we can get a better picture of it. A woman's soul is often able to enjoy vast relationships- she desires them and has the capacity for vast intimacy. Now, if her soul is just a small picture of God's soul...then, wow. His soul can handle so much more love and intimacy than hers. His desire for relationships is much greater than hers. His capacity for intimacy is much deeper than hers. We cannot even fathom his soul's capacities! But Woman gives us an idea of how God's soul can be with all of us, always, and how He loves us all intimately, not just as "the world".

Here is a wonderful sentence to sum up an Ezer: "We were made to be a part of a great adventure. An adventure that is shared. We do not want the adventure merely for adventure's sake but for what it requires of us for others. We don't want to be alone in it; we want to be in it with others." (Captivating)

Monday, March 9, 2009

Made In God's Image, as a Female Part 4: Vulnerability

In previous blogs, I shared with my readers insights that I have myself learned, regarding how a woman is made in the image of God, uniquely as a female. This entry will be about another aspect women and God share: their vulnerability.

Could a woman's vulnerability reveal God's vulnerability to us? Hmmm....let's look at a few scriptures:

~"Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered. " (1 Peter 3:7)

A woman is the weaker vessel? What does the word weaker mean? Is that the best word to translate this passage?

The word "weaker" is the Greek word "asthenes"....and that same word is used to describe God Himself!

~"Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men and the weakness of God is stronger than men." (1 Corinthians 1:25)

The weakness of God?? Yup, it is the same word used to describe a woman's "weakness": asthenes. A woman has "weakness" just as does the God who made her. But is God weak? What does the word "weak" really mean?

We see it used here again:

~"For though He was crucified in weakness, yet He lives by the power of God." (2 Corinthians 13:4)

~"And he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." (2 Corinthians 12:9)

"Theologian Dr. Sarah Sumner notes that 'weakness' or asthenes must mean something other than 'inherent inferiority' since God cannot be inferior. She has translated the Greek word asthenes into a more helpful word: 'vulnerability, or a willingness to be responsive'. See how well it works: The vulnerability of God is stronger than men. Jesus was crucified because of vulnerability. Live with your the more vulnerable vessel...This word connects God with women." (Ruby Slippers by Jonalyn Grace Fincher p. 110)

It is pretty obvious that a woman is physically more vulnerable. She is not as strong as a man. In her book, Jonalyn Fincher raises the question of whether or not the first woman, Eve, was just as strong as Adam before the Fall. Well, this is just my opinion- but I don't think Eve was. I don't think a woman's physical vulnerability is a negative aspect of the Fall. I am of the opnion that God specifically made Eve weaker so that Adam could protect her and sacrifice for her, thereby showing us how God is stronger than us and takes care of and protects us:) I enjoy being physically weaker. I love to see masculine strength in action. I like when men open a door for me, or offer to carry something heavy, etc. It is not that I cannot open my own door, but it is a way to honor me as the "weaker vessel"....a way to show a woman that you intend to be caring and respectful, and not take advantage of her physical vulnerability.

But our physical vulnerability is not how we bear God's image. First off, God does not have a body. Secondly, if He did, He would not by vulnerable in it. Our body symbolizes how our souls are vulnerable though. "German religious philosopher Hanna-Barbara Gerl-Falkovitz did research on the anthropology of the sexes, and found that 'our body is the bearer and expression of something interior....the observation of the body serves as a principle of the female soul and mind." (Ruby Slippers)

So a woman's body is an outward representation of her soul. And it is in her soul where she bears God's image. Two poems just came to my mind, and here are a few words from each:

Angel: And she is much softer. Her body, her hair... God: Aaahhh, the softness is part of the fascination. Angel: Her body dents in and out! God: I call these curves. They are part of the softness. Angel: Can she feel? God: Oh yes! She feels deeply: joy, love, sorrow.
A different poem:

The angel moved closer and touched the woman. "But you have made her so soft Lord." "She is soft", the Lord agreed, "But I have also made her tough. You have no idea what she can endure or accomplish."
The angel then noticed something, and reaching out, touched the woman's cheek. "Oops, it looks like you have a leak in this model..." "That's not a leak," the Lord corrected, "That's a tear!" "What's the tear for?" the angel asked. The Lord said, "The tear is her way of expressing her joy, her sorrow, her pain, her disappointment, her love, her lonliness, her grief and her pride."

These beautiful poems reveal how a woman's outer softness symbolizes her inner softness- her vulnerability.

"God made a woman's body, not out of a clay mold, but out of a piece of living flesh. Woman's original material was more vulnerable than man's; she was made out of living cells. Vulnerability requires that we have places that are tender, places we can be affected, touched..." (Ruby Slippers, p. 112)

"Dr. Jerry Root, a...friend...shared how he saw his wife's tears as an emotional act of vulnerability, no less sexy than her breasts and no less alluring than her invitation to bed." (Ruby Slippers, p. 115)

"The root of 'vulnerable' means 'to wound'...God "made the woman with an open wound in her body" the most vulnerable parts of us into the tools for recreation, delight, pleasure, beginnings. It is a picture of what we want to do with our souls...the way a woman opens herself to a man, proving that her physical vulnerability is also strength...When a woman is vulnerable, she glorifies God in sharing her weaknesses. She marries honesty and transparency in her soul, and in doing so, images God. Vulnerable women are Godlike." (Ruby Slippers)

"Softness is key to a woman. Not weakness-softenss. Tenderness." (Captivating)

"A woman who is full of tender mercy and soft vulnerability is a powerful, lovely woman." (Captivating)

So in our vulnerability we image God. That is powerful. Those tender places, the tears, the openess all were given to us by our Maker as a way to show the world what He is like.

"Offering a tender vulnerability can only be done by an incredibly strong woman, a woman rooted in Christ Jesus who knows whose she is and therefore knows who she is." (Captivating)

Lastly, I want to comment on this scripture: 1 Cor. 12:22-23a

22 No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. 23 And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor..."

Again, the word weaker in the above scripture is the same word we discussed earlier.

A woman's vulnerability is necessary. God put femininity in this world because it was needed. The world needs a woman's vulnerability. Husbands are told to "dwell with their wives with understanding, giving honor to them as the weaker vessels". God wants men to understand their wives' vulnerability, and not treat them harshly or belittle them for their sensitive souls, but rather honor them as a more vulnerable vessel should be honored, treated tenderly and cared for gently.

"When we feel criticized or hurt, it doesn't help to hear people say, 'Stop being so sensitive.' You might as well tell me to turn off my soul, to deaden part of my natural femininity...To tell a woman to toughen like clipping the wings of a bird. You never get to see the full plummage in her wingspan or watch her soar and plummet in freedom. A woman's sensitivity can be a mark of vulnerable strength." (Ruby Slippers)

God is vulnerable and has therefore put this trait in Woman. She reveals God's softness to the world and that should be honored.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Made In God's Image, as a Female Part 3: A Life Giver

In my two previous blog entries regarding how women bear the image of God on earth, I spoke of their beauty, mystery and desire to be pursued. In this post I will share a few other insights that I have been given, mainly through the books Captivating and Ruby Slippers (see in the side bar). Let's look at the first woman ever created- Eve- to better understand our feminine design and purpose on earth.

Women as Life-Givers

The first woman was named Eve, which means "life-giver". What do you think of when you consider a woman giving life? Probably the first thought that comes to your mind is giving birth. Indeed, women have been blessed with such beautiful and powerful abilities to foster life. A woman conceives and nurtures the life within her own body. She is then the one to actually birth a new soul into this world. Think of the word woman- womb man. She has something no man does: a womb. Not only that but she also has breasts with which to continue to nurture the life she has birthed, both through nourishing the body of the babe and comforting the infant's soul.

It is amazing that God describes Himself to be like a mother:

"You deserted the Rock, who fathered you; you forgot the God who gave you birth." (Deut. 32:18)

"He will say, 'I have long been silent; yes, I have restrained myself. But now, like a woman in labor, I will cry and groan and pant." (Isa. 42:14)

"For you will nurse and be satisfied at her comforting breasts; you will drink deeply and delight in her overflowing a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you..." (Isa. 66:11-13)

"Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you!" (Isa. 49:15)

"But we proved gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children." (1 Thess. 2:7)

Through the book, Ruby Slippers, I learned that the first time God promised to make Abram fruitful, he identified Himself as El Shaddai. Also, Isaac blessed Jacob with El Shaddai's blessing to make him fruitful. If you look at the word "Shaddai", the root of it- "shad"- means "female breast" or "the breasted one".

Looking at all the above scriptures, we can see how God compares Himself to a woman laboring, birthing and nursing a babe. Through that comparison, we learn how God cares for us spiritually, but also how a woman bears God's image- and not just in the physical aspects of birthing and nursing, since God does not have a body. No, a woman's soul is made to offer life, that is why Eve means "life-giver".

"We are life-givers by design. God Himself fashioned us to be life-givers. It is a great urge within each one of us to nourish and nurture life around us...Radical feminist Gloria Steinem called the impulse in nurture and care for- a "compassion disease"...As life-giving women, we are uniquely designed to to enrich the lives of those around us. We can bring warmth, love, nurture, and grace...Women committed to developing and expressing the life-giving aspect of their natures- who embrace the value of their drive to nurture and nourish life around them- are compassionate, caring, thoughtful and creative." (Lifegiving: Discovering Secrets to a Beautiful Life)

A woman is a life-giver to her core, not just in her ability to nurture, birth and nourish humans. Women who do not have children still have the life-giving trait of God stamped upon their souls. There are many ways in which women nurture others around them...many ways in which women promote life in others. Jonalyn Fincher, in her book Ruby Slippers, termed this life-giving characteristic of many women "cultivation". She shares that women cultivate in various ways- caring for, feeding, warming, comforting people, beautifying a space. A woman may reveal her cultivating, life-giving, nature through hospitality. But the point is to build other people up. She quoted Edith Stein: "The woman's soul is...fashioned as a shelter in which other souls may unfold." We tend to people. Actually, that root "tend" shows up in other aspects of femininity, such as attention and tenderness. In Ephesians 6, husbands are admonished to cherish their wives. The word "cherish" means to foster with tender care, to treat with tenderness, to treat in a manner to encourage growth-by protection and attendance. Women are generally naturally inclined to give tenderness and attention to others, and that is precisely what they desire to be given back.

Here is one last thought to meditate on: Adam was formed out of the dust of the ground, and then put in the garden. But Eve was fashioned in the garden. She awoke in a place full of beauty and life.

In my next entries, I will continue showing how women uniquely bear the image of God through their vulnerability, interdependence, and "ezer" purpose on earth.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

God's Amazing Love

I just have to share what my God did for me today. I will not share the depth of just how special this gift is and what He is speaking to me, because it is very personal between myself and God.

As I was leaving church today I noticed an envelope sticking out of my pocketbook. Inside I discovered gift certificates to a restaurant and a gift card to a salon/spa called "Whole" Aveda Salonspa. It says on the card that the gift is intended to use for "a massage and more". I don't know who put the envelope in my pocketbook, but they labeled the gift as being from "Jesus." And although I am SO thankful to whomever obeyed God's leading in giving me this gift, I am also so much aware that it truly is from Jesus. He spoke to a certain person's heart, and they obeyed.

I am awestruck and just teary eyed at the love of God. First off, just yesterday He began speaking to me about being whole. I was actually worshipping Him, singing a few songs written and sung by Brooke Fraser. In one, the lyrics are "Your love endures forever, Your love changes me, Your loves makes me whole, makes me better...". I was on my knees and in tears singing this song to God. Then later, I was reading from the last chapter in my current book, and it was about how Eve was made perfect- nothing missing and nothing broken. It was about how the curse spoken over Eve no longer has power over Christians.

Well, today my pastor spoke of that very topic: how we are redeemed from the curse. Sometime during the church service, the words "nothing missing" and "whole" were spoken. God was touching my heart and telling me of how He sees me. And then this- this gift card to the "Whole" spa and salon. The name of the place alone made me tear up. But there is more.

I have always wanted a message. I am extremely touch oriented. I love hugs, caresses, kisses...any sort of touching. I love when my hubby messages me also. But I have never received a professional message. It seems such a luxury...the thought of it makes me feel guilty that I'd just be lying there, soaking in the indulgence.

Yesterday I was also singing the song "Indelible" to God, and cried out these lyrics: "Hold me and love me and touch me again, and show me why I believe..." The other night, I had again, asked God to touch me somehow. I woke up in the middle of that night with another song in my I had not sung in a looooong time: "You see the real me, Hiding in my skin, Broken from within. Unveil Me, Completely. I'm loosening my grasp, there's no need to mask, my frailty. Wonderful, Beautiful, is what you see, when you look at me." I had been feeling vulnerable that night...frail even. So God woke me up with this song. With God...ohhh...I can loosen my grasp. I don't have to hide my frailty. I can be vulnerable and unveiled- completely. I did not feel His physical touch that night, but I was touched by Him.

Yet today. Today I am understanding that this massage He wants me to is His way of touching His daughter...physically. I know that when I lie down there, every touch, every sensation, will speak to me of God's love. I will see the whole situation as my God "loving on me". I will sing my songs to Him as I bask in His expression of love.

And to top it off- there is enough money for me to also get a pedicure, which I have wanted for SO long and desparately need! Last Sunday another lady at my church gave me jewelry. These are all desires I have had...and God is lovingly meeting one by one, without me speaking a word to anyone about them:)

Have any of my dear readers ever had a professional massage before? I'd love to hear about yours, so that I can mentally prepare myself. I am not sure *what* to expect LOL!

**Adding this to my blog: I just read the following sentence in one of my books: "Jesus wants to redeem the feminine resemblances in each of us...We bring ourselves to him, and each time, the triune God moves his hands over our brokenness, re-glues, realigns, and seals us in himself, so that we as women hold his image, again."

Wow. How timely and fitting is that- God moves his hands over our brokenness. God is so loving to continue to speak to me and reveal to me the mystery of what He is doing within and without me.


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