Working Women: Facts and Figures

Working Women

The Aim of Kindness

KindnessA kind person is an expert marksman! They hit the center of the heart every time. Their eyes know exactly where to aim because their heart loves the target they are aiming at. Kindness is an attribute of love, and love never fails. This is the clear-cut difference between nice and kind. Anyone can do a nice thing.  It doesn’t require love, but a kind thing ALWAYS hits the heart because it is directed by love.  Even Hitler did nice things every now and then. We must never confuse niceness with kindness.  The two are miles apart.  Niceness is appreciated; kindness brings you to your knees and exposes intimate parts of you that you’ve kept hidden all your life. This is why we would rather have people be nice to us than kind.  Niceness keeps its distance, but kindness invades our personal space. Niceness makes us smile, but kindness can make us cry. Niceness pats us on the back, but kindness reaches into our heart and massages it. Niceness asks: How are you doing? but kindness really wants to know the answer and usually already does. -Darrin Hufford

Emotional Economics

Leave it to me to reduce the emotions of the right brain to a left brain mathematical equation. I presume this is my attempt to control the uncontrollable. But, the reality is that I didn’t think of it first. No. I believe it was Steven Covey who introduced relationships in terms of a bank account. I like the analogy. And, my over-reaction to the dryer full of wet clothes this morning (attributed to my oldest son) is an indicator that something is wrong.

Too many withdrawals. Not enough deposits. 

So, I don’t have Covey’s book in front of me and I haven’t read it in over a decade. (Could it be two?) But, it goes a little something like this in my personal paraphrase:

  • Relationships are made up of emotional economics.
  • You make deposits.
  • You make withdrawals.
  • Some deposits are big (or small).
  • Some withdrawals are small (or big).
  • Depending on the size and frequency of the emotional deposits and withdrawals determines whether your emotional bank account is balanced.

And, these bullet points apply to ALL relationships. 

Yesterday, my husband blew up over a food wrapper on the floor. This morning, I blew up over a dryer full of wet clothes. He exploded. I imploded. Not a good couple of days. But, do you really thing it’s about a food wrapper or wet clothes? No.

We’re depleted. Our emotional bank accounts are drained. 

But, here’s the good news: We are in choice as to how we choose to respond to this new level of awareness. Sometimes it takes an explosion (or implosion) to get a reality check. And, if there is one thing I know about my husband: He’s willing to do the work. And, so am I.

A few weeks ago, we made a decision about something; a decision that has cost us. 

We knew it would cost us. We counted it before we made it. But, it’s still difficult. It goes against the ideal. We decided to take the road less traveled on something and it’s narrowing in on us. (I seem to remember something in the Bible about the narrow road.) And, the events of the last couple of days are revealing our limps as we walk this road.

I don’t like walking with a limp.

So, I recognize the blessing this morning in the remembrance of Covey’s teaching on emotional economics.

It’s time to make some deposits. 

And, purchase a pair of crutches with the interest.

How To Pray For Your Children

Children

Guilty By Association

When my son was in middle school, I got a call from the principal. He was being accused of vandalizing a class project; a WWII poster featuring inappropriate graffiti of the male body part. How did they know that he was the culprit? The truth-telling orange marker decided his fate. He was using the orange marker and body part was drawn in orange. Not to mention, he was a known practical joker and ran with such a crowd.

He was guilty by association.

In this case, the association with the orange marker, the association with his past pranks, and the association with his chosen friends. A marked young man, he was. And, the principal had every intention of making an example of him beginning by requesting a meeting with my husband and me.

But, here’s the thing: I didn’t believe it. 

Not because he wasn’t capable of such a thing. He was. Not because I had my head in the sand regarding his past pranks. I didn’t. Not because I wasn’t aware of the silliness of the choices he and his friends has previously made. I was. I didn’t believe it because of the recent memory of a handful of conversations I had had with son regarding WWII and their treatment of the Jews. He was wrecked over it.

It was the first (and perhaps only) time that I ever witnessed a subject in school deeply impact my son. 

His awareness of the concentration camps wounded my son. The conversations I had with him were rich and deep as he asked me the un-answerable questions. His eyes were so expressive in these talks and his voice cracked. He was haunted by the images of the dead. He was wrestling with the injustice. He came home from school very grim and told me of the situation before I asked.

He emphatically stated that he had been wrongly accused. And, I believed him.

Yesterday, I was watching an episode of 60 Minutes featuring Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO. She was speaking about her book Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead. And, I was deeply connected to her words regarding women and work. I observed a somewhat gentle countenance by this corporate powerhouse. Almost an insecurity of sorts in her message as the interviewer asked her the tough questions. Quite frankly, I was surprised but I found her to be refreshing so I traveled to her website. Once there, I began to see her *associations* and they made me nervous.

I have been warned multiple times to be cautious regarding with whom I associate. 

But, as I perused her Lean In community, I found myself wanting to get involved in the conversation. I downloaded some of the content, read it over. I was impressed. It’s a dialogue of which I want to be a part. Yet, her connections with the feminist movement and leaders of this movement put up red flags. Not because I don’t believe in certain tenants of the movement. I do. But, because of how ugly it’s become. I’ve typically shied away from such groups.

Not to mention, to be a voice in this arena could be professional suicide for a woman in  ministry. 

But, why? Well, I have but one phrase to offer you:

Guilty by association. 

As I ponder these thoughts this morning, I sense a division between soul and spirit along with the recognition of one important thing:

Jesus wasn’t concerned about his reputation regarding His associations. 

As the matter of fact, He bucked the system altogether. And, the religious folks of the days didn’t like it. Obviously, He wasn’t swayed by their judgments. Bless the Lord, o my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name. I want to be like Jesus. I don’t want to be swayed by the judgment of others. Oh, to be that woman of courage, that woman who moves through the fear of to add her voice in the midst of the controversy. Yes, Lord. Yes.

I remember telling my son to beware of associations, telling him that he would assume *guilt* by them. 

Perhaps, I was wrong. Perhaps, not. We can find the wisdom in each admonition. But, I will say this: I am so glad Jesus didn’t listen. If He did, my guilt would remain.

Instead, I am innocent by association. 

The Questions of Eternity in the Human Heart

Ecclesiastes 3.11He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

The book of Ecclesiastes teaches us that God has placed eternity in the human heart. And, following this statement, there is a word of knowledge: so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. Interestingly, the prelude to this statement focuses on the reality that he has made everything beautiful in its time. Eternity. Beginning. End. Beauty. Please allow me a little latitude as I share what’s on my heart and mind as I ponder these words.

For some time now, I have been meditating on the Biblical concept of speaking the truth in love. And, this morning, I was reading a blog post from Practical Theology for Women and she said something that caused me to pause:

…being a jerk for Jesus is a sin. 

I’ve observed a couple of interesting phenomenons on opposite ends of the spectrum in this truth in love thing:

1) The Christian who has assumed a voice for *truth* without any regard for love. 

2) The non-Christian (though quite *spiritual) who has assumed a voice for *love* without any regard for Truth. 

Perhaps, we could say that the first is being a jerk for Jesus and the second being a jerk against Jesus. Okay, okay, okay. Perhaps you think the word jerk to be too harsh. Actually, I don’t like it either but it does pack a punch, I suppose. Let’s replace it with one word: deception.

For I believe both to be deceived. So, how then will we choose to respond to deception?

Perhaps, the answer lies in this passage of scripture in Ecclesiastes.

What if we recognized that God has placed eternity in the human heart?

What if we responded to the questions of eternity in the human heart?

What if we recognized the questions of eternity in the human heart as a thing of beauty?

A thing of beauty from our God?

The wooing of the human spirit by the Holy Spirit?

Yes…what if? Let me give you an example:

Last year, one of my Facebook friends posted a link on The Goddess Within. She is not a believer though many believers post similar links. I love this woman. She is kind. She is loving. She is compassionate. Quite frankly, she is easy to love. There is an inclusiveness to all she posts. She loves people. She wants to encourage. She is positive. Nonetheless, she is deceived.

But, rather than attacking her for her deception, I chose something else. 

I chose to speak to the questions of eternity in her heart, as a thing of beauty, as a wooing of her human heart by the Holy Spirit. What might these questions be? Discern with me. Remember…she was posting on The Goddess Within.

As a woman, what place do I take in the heart of God? (If there is a God.)

As a woman, why do I feel less than? (After all, I live in a patriarchal society.)

As a woman, who am I and why am I here? (I cannot and will not live my life in submission to man or God.)

Now, to be fair, I had some insight into the possible questions of her heart based on several conversations with this woman the previous year or two. I had heard her struggle with Christianity, the ache of her heart (and anger) regarding being viewed as less than in the Christian culture. She wanted no part of it. And, to some degree, I understood. Because if our framework of Christ and Christianity is under an umbrella of deception, why would we buy into it?

So, how then would the Spirit of God prompt me to respond? 

He prompted me to respond to the questions of eternity in her heart. In this case, He prompted me to respond by painting a Biblical picture of the bride of Christ for her. The BRIDE of Christ. She wasn’t aware of this picture. Nor was she aware that Jesus was the greatest liberator of women of all time.

Answering the questions of eternity in her heart allowed a safe space for a conversation of Truth. 

So, what is my ultimate purpose of this post? A plea for you (and I) to dare to go deeper. How?

Look for the questions of eternity in the hearts of those deceived.

Speak to the questions from a Biblical framework; gently, kindly, truthfully.

Use I statements rather than YOU statements. (And *confession* is good to bring down the walls.)

Ask questions. Again. And, again and again.

Before you speak, wait on the Lord.

A blessing for you:

May you seek to understand the questions of eternity in the human heart. May you find beauty in the questions. May you see the heart of the Lord in the heart of these questions. May you sense His wooing of him or her before you speak. May you speak the truth in love. Always.

May I do the same.

Autobiography in 5 Short Chapters

Chapter 1

I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I fall in. I am lost. I am hopeless. It isn’t my fault. It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter 2

I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I pretend I don’t see it. I fall in again. I can’t believe I am in the same place. But, it isn’t my fault. It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter 3

I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I see it is there. I still fall in. It’s a habit. My eyes are wide open. I know where I am. It is my fault. I get out immediately.

Chapter 4

I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole. I walk around it.

Chapter 5

I walk down another street.

Source: Portia Nelson

6 Ways To Increase Engage-Ability On Facebook

The 6 Traditions

I read a book recently entitled Streams of Living Water by Richard Foster identifying 6 major traditions through which the people of God have express their discipleship over the ages. I found the book to be quite fascinating. Though I was familiar with each of the traditions, I had not seen them presented together until now. And, I find my mind and heart pondering them in those spare moments of thought and feeling. I don’t seem to have the time now to develop what is fluttering in my spirit but I trust that when the time is right, God will impress upon me the *now* moment, I will dedicate the time to study them in detail. In the meantime, a brief synopsis.

So, what are the 6 traditions?

1. The Contemplative Tradition

This tradition is marked by the prayer-filled life. And, the visible fruit of such a life: love, peace, delight, passion, wisdom, transformation as we dwell in the presence of God. A supportive piece to the book adds that this tradition is defined as the steady gaze of the soul upon the God who love us. (Oh, how I would like to expand on this one now but let me stay focused.)

2. The Holiness Tradition

This tradition is marked by the virtuous life. Perhaps, we could define the visible fruit as an inward reformation of the heart expressing itself externally. It’s the discipline of holy habits in one’s life as part of the sanctification process. In my assessment, it’s the alignment of position and practice. We receive Christ and we are instantly sanctified through Him yet there is also the period of sanctification called life.

3. The Charismatic Tradition

This tradition is marked by the Spirit-empowered life. It focuses on the empowering gifts of the Spirit along with nurturing the fruit of the Spirit. We give special attention to our life in and through the Spirit of God recognizing that we do not operate by our own power but by the very power of our God.

4. The Social Justice Tradition

This tradition is marked by the compassionate life. It highlights the need for justice in all human relationships and social structures. It is the outworking of God’s justice, God’s love, God’s peace through the people of God for the sake of God’s world. As we connect to the heart of God, we begin to see the glimpses of the co-existence of justice and mercy and we are moved to action.

5. The Evangelical Tradition

This tradition is marked by the Word-centered life. It focuses on the proclamation of the Gospel as we address the crying need for people to see the good news lived and hear the good news proclaimed. The Word of God is central to the evangelical tradition though it is not limited to the missionary in the field nor the preacher in the pulpit but to all in the body of Christ as we go forth to make disciples among the nations…including our neighborhoods.

6. The Incarnational Tradition

This tradition is marked by the sacramental life. It recognizes God as truly manifest in everyday life. We affirm the reality of God’s presence in our material existence. My mind goes to Brother Lawrence communing with God through the washing of a dish. It’s the recognition of God in everything; a God who is not abstract but tangible. There is no separation, no compartmentalization. God is.

When I begin an in-depth study in any area, one of the first questions I asked myself (and God) is: Why bother? In other words, why is this study important for myself or others? So often God gives me the answer to the *why* and it fuels me with passion to go deep and wide.

So, I pose the question to you. Why bother?

After reading the overview of these 6 traditions, do you see the work of God in your life through any particular tradition(s)? What about your community? Is your church defined particularly by a certain tradition? Do you see the value of all the traditions? Do you see the hand of God in them?

Good questions, right? Now…talk to me.

A Poem by John Piper