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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Girl Talk: Where is our women of strength?

I sometimes watch The Wendy Show in the mornings. And I have to say, the way Wendy is talking about women scares me, especially the way she is talking about her own gender. As a feminist who believes that women should have every chance in life to do something positive for this world, I think that some have taken the idea of freedom of women and taken it far from what it should be. Scrolling through social media and seeing my fellow women treating themselves and each other with disrespect, cheapening themselves and their own sex, has me concerned. So I would like to address a few things.

What is a woman of strength?

Here are some definitions by other people:
Proverbs 31
A woman who can handle herself and doesn't need a man.
A woman of God.
Strong enough to bend, but not break.
A Zena warrior princess.
Secure in her faith.

Ladies, are we being women of strength?
So many women think of Proverbs 31 but few actually apply it to their lives. And that is because a woman of strength that this book of the bible speaks about is "more precious than rubies"; essentially- rare. Reading through Proverbs 31, these are some questions that face me because this is exactly what the good book says: In our relationships, are we bringing good, not harm? Are we bringing all we have to where God has put us? Are we energetic and happy about life to show God's strength despite our weaknesses? Do we laugh without fear of the future? Do we speak only wise words? Do we give instructions with kindness? Do we withhold from laziness? Are we God-fearing women who live our lives for His glory, not ours?
I see a lack of strength in our gender today. And today I would like to point out a few things that I see my generation of women struggling with.

Your worth is not determined by the presence of a significant other. 

I've been there. Seeing happy people in love can be a slap in the face when you want something like that to make you happy as well. However, having a man does not affect the amount of happiness that YOU can control. In fact, waiting for someone else to make you happy is the best way to be sad. 

I also see women who cannot function without being in a relationship. And the only thing that I can think about that is: How do you know who you truly are if you only know yourself in the context of another person?
For my ladies who have been in 2 or more different relationships in the past year, give it a rest. 
Take some time to put up a boundary to dating and date yourself for awhile. It might be interesting what you learn and in time could help you be the better person for your future mate.

Your body is a temple.

It is a problem in today's culture for women to give it up to the first man who offers to take it. And I'm begging my sisters-- hold off. There's a quote from Charlie Chaplin that I quite adore: "Your naked body should belong only to those who fall in love with your naked soul."

There is a problem when women wear little to nothing and then complain about being a sex item. I have seen this topic debated-- some disagree with this statement because they believe it promotes a rape-culture, saying that it is completely the man's fault in a situation where a woman is used for sex. While in an action of rape, it is that man's fault for doing something so horrendous--- BUT, there is a matter of common sense and protection that women should keep in mind just because there are predators out there and there are men who see sexually appealing women and use them for sex. Heres the thing- if you don't want to be used for sex, then don't portray yourself as if you want to be used for sex. And for you ladies struggling with the idea that the only way you can get a man is through sex, know that Cinderella did not have to take off her dress to get her prince, and neither do you.
Cover up the ta-ta's, wear a longer skirt, walk with your head held high like you are sexy because you ARE sexy and you will be sexy for a man who thinks YOUR HEART AND SOUL is sexy, not just your body. In the same way you want a man to treat your body with respect, treat YOUR OWN body with respect because it IS a temple.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says 19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

Respecting your own body includes eating the right things, taking care of your body, saving intimacy for the man who will see you naked for the rest of your life, and acting like your body is a sacred thing because guess what? It is.

Stop being a victim.

Continuing from my last subject, it is not cute to act like a victim, a casualty, a loser, a fool. 
We complain, we whine, we cry about stupid stuff. I mean, it is. Stupid stuff. We play the role of the victim in every slightly difficult situation we are placed in and get angry when someone finds us unworthy, unwanted, ill-prepared, undeserving, or unqualified because we allowed ourselves to become prey.
I haven't heard it much better than this:
"Stop crying about being a doormat and get the heck off the floor."

If you're in a bad situation, find a way to get out of it.
If you're in a bad mood, find a way to be put in a good one.
If you're in a bad relationship, LEAVE.
You are not a victim, you are a woman with power.
Pick yourself up and get back onto the road of success.

Social media is not the place to display your womanly inner struggles.

Sadly, social media has become a place where a lot of us women outwardly display our self-victimized thoughts.
Look, I'm an advocate for positive words. I know we all have hard times and just want to let everyone know how bad life sucks but social media simply is not the place for that. Complaining about our problems, grumbling about that person that we don't like, laying out the dirty wash of what that person did-- that is not meant for social media. It was not meant to come out of your mouth at all.
You want to be honest with people, you say? Show your true self?
Honesty is NOT an emotional spewing. Your honest feelings may not be truthful assessments of the situation. You can be honest with how you feel and still misinterpret what is true.
REAL HONESTY is asking the Holy Spirit to show you the real truth.
So don't be so-called "honest" with your Facebook followers before consulting your Savior.
James 3:17 says 17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.
Lets be peace-loving and considerate on social media, eh? And not so negative nancy. Nobody likes those.

You're feeling ugly today? So lets take a picture and complain about your looks?

Here's what I'm seeing: too many girls want attention, not enough want respect.
Beauty is respecting yourself.
Beauty is respecting a creation of God.
There is humility in beauty.
There is acceptance in beauty.
There is contentment in beauty.
Before posting a selfie and leaving a commentary about what you think of yourself, think about how you want to be seen- by primarily God, then by the population who needs a Godly woman.
You are beautiful when you know what real beauty is. And thats something you have to learn on your own time.

Saying you love yourself and acting like you love yourself are two completely different things. And acting like you love yourself often has a negative connotation. Something is seriously wrong with this.

Some people believe that loving yourself means you can look in the mirror and think "Wow, look how hot I am" and while having an acceptance and respect of self-image is important, there is simply more to loving yourself.
Sometimes I get up and go buy myself some thing that I can't afford so that I can say that I "love myself" enough to spoil myself and I've come to realize that its wrong.
Loving myself is not spoiling myself. Loving myself is not telling myself that I'm hotter than everybody else or taking the time to make myself look better.
There is an action involved in loving yourself.

And there is 7 letters that go along with that:

You speak like you love yourself.
You eat like you love yourself.
You move like you love yourself.
You post on Facebook like you love yourself.
You update your Snapchat story like you love yourself.

Respect goes two ways- you respect yourself, you respect others.
If you respect yourself, you will speak in a respectful manner.
If you respect yourself, you will eat food that respects your body.
If you respect yourself, you will walk in a respectful manner, head held high, not defeated.
If you respect yourself, you will post respectful things on Facebook.
If you respect yourself, the same goes for Snapchat or Twitter or Instagram.

Loving yourself comes when you learn what it means to respect yourself.

We have a problem of making everything more complicated than it should be. 

Females are known for it.
Example A) Angela told Charlene that she heard Joan cheated on her husband, now Charlene doesn't like Joan because she took Angela's word for it. Joan wonders why Charlene doesn't talk to her and asks Angela and Angela accuses Joan of immorality, Joan assumes Charlene told Angela something and harbors bad feelings towards Charlene, Angela now believes Charlene twisted her words to make Joan angry at her so Angela harbors bad feelings toward Charlene. Joan never cheated on her husband, Charlene never twisted Angela's words, and Angela's words were twisted from the get-go.

This is obviously an exaggerated situation that makes absolutely no sense but can I get an AMEN when I say us women speak absolutely no sense half the time???
I'm just going to simply say: Lets stop complicating uncomplicated situations.

And so, I will end with this:

Here is some "Girl Talk" from a good man's point of view, ladies:

"They treat themselves as a piece of meat with no self respect. In my opinion, being content with who you are, skinny or fat, is attractive. Knowing your self worth is attractive. God made everyone beautiful in His image. He is perfect and He makes perfect creations in their own perfectly imperfect way."

You are a perfect creation with imperfect tendencies and while our lives will never be perfect, we are called to a high standard. For those of us who yearn to be that Proverbs 31 woman, we have a few things to change.

We are women.
Women who are conquerors, not victims.
Women who are pure, not dirty.
Women who are positive, not defeated.
Women who are beautiful despite outward appearances.

Lets rise up as women of strength.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

People, better than places.

I've always been fascinated by new places. Old places. Places I get to see once in a blue moon.
I've always imagined my future as a tangible place. A future centered around that place and me. Nobody else really included in the equation.
I'll live in a townhouse on my own, work as a counselor on my own, make my own food, make my own way, go see France on my own, travel on my own...
Recently I've figured out that not only is it impossible to be who I want to be on my own, but I also just don't want to be that self centered anymore. Being alone is wonderful for an introvert like me but as a human being, I am nothing without people.

Poetry of the wonderful Christopher Poindexter whom I love dearly if only for his beautiful mind.
He's another one of those strangers that thinks completely different from me,
but thats what makes him lovely.

My friends, my family, my teachers, my preachers, the people I've never met but see everyday- this is what shapes me. People. Psychologically, we are made into who we are by our social experiences. It's a true fact that we would be nothing without other people.
I could list a thousand individuals who I would be nothing without but here are a few people who I find better than places:

My boyfriend.
Never have I had a friend so willing to listen and so ready to give feedback that is truly thought-out and given in a loving and mindful manner.
Laughter is so often the cure to sorrow and this man makes me laugh until I cry or laugh while I'm bawling my eyes out. And sometimes when I'm bawling my eyes out he bawls with me.
I have to say finding my man was a new experience to me because I never knew what it felt like to be loved so selflessly. And experiencing a love that is truly and wholly Christ-like completely gave me a new perspective on life and how to love people. Not only that, but I've learned that tangible places are worth so much less than a heart you can rest in. I've found a heart that is my home.

My brother.
I grew up as the big sister who was very protective of her little brother. Still kinda am. My brother is another person who is home to me. He's too old to call me "sissy" now and too manly and independent to be the little fellow attached to my hip but I sure do feel love and pride for my little brother. He's got a bright future ahead of him for the love he has for his Savior and the passion he has for using art and music to spread the love of Jesus. Carefree, yet burdened with a heavy longing to give people freedom from bondage, he is a one of a kind kid. I don't know many 16 year olds like him. He has taught me a thing or two about faith.

When I'm back in Statesville, I like to walk in Mac Anderson park. The primary reason is normally to get some exercise but another large reason is I love talking to strangers or even just smiling at strangers walking by. It's a place with an eclectic mix of individuals in this park at Statesville- you see people of all kinds of backgrounds, young and old. Some you can read like an open book and the faces that show a worn-down spirit are ones that I like to pray for and learn from. I don't have to speak to them to learn from them. Their stories are in their skin, the way they walk, the heads held high, the eyes focused on the ground... You learn a thing or two about people by observing them. And you learn to love the different things about them. Its a whole new kind of experience to be able to befriend a complete stranger. Or even better, to be able to get to know someone you never would have imagined speaking to before. Strangers are sometimes my favorite people because "strange" is in the name-- something that you find strange may in fact be something you can learn to understand and receive a valuable lesson from. The strange things in other people that are different from you is what makes them that much more lovely.
So often I find myself looking at someone and making a judgement before I can really know them.
And it gets me to thinking...What did Christ see when He first looked at me? 
He saw me as worth dying for. Before we even knew His name. Before we were even breathed into creation, he chose to acknowledge us as something worth giving up his life for.
Wouldn't it be nice if instead of making judgements of people, no matter their differences, we saw them as worth dying for as well?
Don't you think we should be able to give up our comfort zone for strangers since Christ gave up the ULTIMATE comfort zone for us?

As time passes, I am being taught what it means to love with the love of Christ. 

Loving people.
That's what it's all about.
People, better than places.
Better than things.
Better than your political stance.
Better than your personal beliefs.
Better than your preconceived notions.
Better than yourself.

While you can love a place and you can love a person, there is a difference.
People need love. People need the love of Jesus.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Joy to the World

Christmas is just around the corner...
lets all sing along "Joy to the world! The Lord is come! Let Earth receive her King!"

The cold weather is slowly invading the days. While I am in such a happy place in life, I would be lying if I didn't say the weather scares me.

Raise your hand if any of you are with me on this one... Winter = Depression.

It never fails. The cold comes in and its like it invades my brain and my heart. According to some reliable sources (aka my roommate), this is a real psychological thing.
Seasonal Affective Disorder... SAD. Which is exactly normally how I feel during the cold season. And once spring comes in, it's like the blooming flowers cause my emotions to bloom into happiness.

So I dread winter. Every year I ask myself: How am I going to keep my joy when all of me wants to go cry in a corner for no reason?

This is not the only time that I have to ask myself how I can keep my joy amidst my circumstances or mindset. It happens daily. Its so easy for one small thing to go wrong and I quickly give away my joy.

God has called me to dwell in joy, not in sorrow, not in aggravation, not in anger...
When I have lost grasp of my joy, I know what I need to do to find it again. I challenge you to work with me to hold onto joy. Heres a few things we should probably do...

1. Its okay to cry. 

Crying does not mean that you have completely lost it. In most cases, crying lets you release some of that tension that's causing you to lose your joy.

Psalm 126:5- Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.
Let it out. Get it out. Scream if you have to. Just cry until you run out of tears. Let someone rub your back if it helps. Or let them cry with you.
But-- do not go sit in a corner and cry with the mindset of "WHYYY MEEEE" or "MY LIFE SUCKSSSSS" or "SO UNFAIRRRR".
Don't think. Just cry.
Tears help cleanse the mind.

2. Turn off the playlist named "Sad Songs" or "Winter Blues" or "Adele's Album". Stop wallowing.

Thats right. Instead of saying "Oh I'm sad, lets turn on some sad music" lets instead go to "Oh I'm sad, lets put on some bumping Jesus music." Or just Jesus music in general. Your best bet is to find something that encourages you. Yes, I know misery loves company. But Joy does not let misery have company. Proverbs 15:13- A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.

Throw the misery out the window after your good cry and put a smile on your face, put on the encouragement, and find a way out.

Faithful God by Carl Cartee always gets me bumping.

Psalm 95:1-2
Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.

"You turned my mourning into dancing and celebration
You took my sadness and You gave me Your Joy."

Hello, perfect lyrics!

3. Prayer. Its a given. C'mon. 

I can't do it on my own. Its by only the power of Christ that I can look past my circumstances and see His joy. The minute we begin to lose our joy, we should be asking for the strength to get it back.
With this in mind, prayer should be hand-in-hand with #1 and #2.
During your good cry, it's okay to say "God. I can't do this anymore." or "God. Help me."
During your bumping Jesus music sesh, turn it around. "God, I have a reason to praise You. I have a reason to keep my Joy"

And when all else fails, find a new perspective.
Whenever I'm feeling lost in my own misery, I need to go out by myself, drive around and pray, and try to see the world in a different way. I might go to a new town or a new store. I typically like to talk to strangers because they brighten my day. But its different for every person :)

I know for a lot of people, Christmas is a stress.
Presents, weird family situations, missing passed loved ones, old memories, cold weather...
The time when we sing "Joy to the world" can also be a time of a lack of joy for a lot of people.
God has planted joy in your heart.
Find it, grasp it, and sing it like you mean it this season.