Water’s Women’s Work

Posted by on Monday, Feb 27, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

Steve ran across this talk he gave at the UN a few years back on “Women and Water in South Sudan.” Thought you might enjoy hearing it.  “Distinguished Attendees – What is the greatest invention of the 20th century? Before the invention of the washing machine, WOMEN gathered water from a pipe, lake, river, well – it required 8-10 trips per day, then the water had to be heated, poured into a tub with soap, and then the real work started. The washing machine, piped gas, running water and all these mundane household technologies enabled women to enter the labor market, which then meant that they had fewer children, had them later, invested more in each of them, especially female children. That changed their bargaining positions within the household and in wider society, giving women votes and endless changes. It has transformed the way we live. Ha-Joon Chang, a South Korean Economist, suggests that simple labor-saving inventions, the kind we pay little attention to, have reduced household labor from 60 hours/week to 3-4. Is he right? I have no idea but I do know this…if women in the developed west were still spending 6,8,10,12, 15 hours per day managing the home, collecting water, cleaning clothes, gathering food items and then cooking them and then cleaning up afterward and then getting the clothes around for the next day and then… and then… and then… We would not see more women in college today than men.  There would be no women at this UN gathering.  In Sub-Saharan Africa 200,000,000 hours are spent each day collecting water 40,000,000,000 hours/year I hear that 71% of water gathering is done by women in Africa, I don’t know how that number was arrived at because I have rarely seen a man collecting water. Given that women raise 75% of the crops, 50% of the livestock and yet collect only 10% of the income and own a mere 1% of the assets in Africa… There is a great deal of talk these days about slavery as well there should be… But I suggest: Unless we free women from the slavery of daily household chores, how will they ever change the statistics I just gave? Unless women occupy key decision-making positions, who will free them? In 2012 only 6% of ministerial positions within government environment and natural resource departments were held by women.  Unless women are seen as partners rather than competitors in the labor marketplace, we will not see their many hours of toil for the waste that it is.  As Lakshmi Puri said at this very United Nations, ‘Development is neither sustainable nor inclusive if it does not free women and girls from the burden of carrying heavy buckets of...

Read More

What Men Should Know About Catcalling

Posted by on Thursday, Jan 26, 2017 in Blog | 3 comments

This American Life podcast. It’s about a woman named Eleanor who tries to persuade men not to catcall or accost women in the streets. She ends up having a long, open, and honest conversation with one guy – Zack. As you listen, note this: Zack thinks he’s flattering women by singling them out among their friends. Listen carefully to what he’s saying about his own desires. Human beings long to be wanted, known, chosen. I am not sure why this man expresses that normal human desire in unhealthy ways but… It got me thinking, “What if a woman came up to him and did to him what he does to women?” What would be different? What would be the same? The objectification is the same, but the sense of vulnerability is not. Zach, and I suspect many other men as well, are unaware that we feel vulnerable. Over Christmas break I found myself working out at a gym with only one other person – a guy – a very big guy. As I laid on the floor doing crunches I became extremely aware of my small frame. I felt every short inch of my 5’2″ body, and it crossed my mind that this guy could harm me in seconds. I’m not a fearful person nor do I consider myself a wimp; however, there’s a reality to being female. I count on men being good. Zach doesn’t get that. I’m not sure most men do. Or can. But maybe it’s time we helped them. Podcasts like this help. Zach was surprised to learn that women don’t like men catcalling at them. “They chuckle,” he responded. Eleanor explained it wasn’t a chuckle of approval but rather a means of getting out of an uncomfortable situation safely. How many of us have chuckled at sexual statements or inappropriate touches in hopes of “getting out of an uncomfortable situation?” How many men have misread that chuckle? I love Zach’s willingness to engage Eleanor in this conversation. It seems he truly never wanted to offend women or make us feel unsafe. He was shocked and sincere. What would happen if we had more Eleanor and Zach conversations in the home and workplace? I would love to hear your thoughts. As we share, let’s not degrade men. Rather, let’s discuss what’s informative and how we can help others rethink what they have been doing. (Listen to Act One -13 ½...

Read More

The Best Conversations Are At A Bar

Posted by on Wednesday, Jan 11, 2017 in Blog | 1 comment

 I came across this while cleaning my desktop. It’s one of my favorite pictures because it speaks volumes about Jesus. As most of you know, I didn’t grow up a Christian, going to church or around other Christians. I was a pagan, in the Biblical sense. Several months back I met up with an old high school friend. She described my younger years as “powerful and wild, wild in the good sense, edgy.” She was being polite. I was wild – sex, drugs and rock and roll – really a bit of a train wreck waiting to happen. I’ve often thought if I had continued down that road I’d be dead. Back when I was in high school the drinking age was 18, but at 14 we looked 18 and we all had fake I.D.s. My hometown had more bars per capita than any other city in NY.  Going to the bars was a social event for most of my school friends. “We all did it.” We drank like crazy, played foosball, danced, and at times “hooked” up… When I see this picture I’m reminded of the work of Jesus in my life. There’s so much I could say but a picture speaks a thousand words. Shalom Twenty years later, after a masters and doctorate degree and over a decade of church work, I find myself back at the bars. The cheap beer has been replaced by a lovely glass of white wine, and the only cute guy we’re “checking out” is Jesus. But what’s been most surprising is it’s there, more so than in the church and seminary, where I’ve encountered some of the most authentic, salty, questioning, thinking conversations about Jesus. For some reason, and there are several, the venue is safe. Safe for women to be real about their life and faith. It’s evident that the Holy Spirit swirls among and within these conversations. Recently a female educator shared with my husband that she couldn’t have me come speak to her classroom because “I was too edgy” (there’s that descriptor again) for her theological world. After all, “I taught the Bible in a bar.” Yes, after all, I teach in a bar. After all those years of drinking, dancing, and carousing – I teach the Word of God in a bar. I haven’t missed Jesus’ humor in all of this. Jesus is funny. No, seriously, you’ve got to lighten up; sometimes he’s really funny! That young girl who lived an “edgy life” at the bars now lives an “edgy life” at the bars. What was – wasn’t annihilated – but repurposed. That’s what we see of the items in the Temple and it’s what Jesus does with us – he repurposes...

Read More


Posted by on Saturday, Jan 7, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

Our New Year’s Day started at the table eating Steve’s delicious omelets in our pj’s while reflecting on 2016 and dreaming about 2017. As we sipped on mimosas, each of our friends shared a word that summarized 2016 and a word that expressed our longings for 2017. Words like Live, Hope, Unhurried, and Healthy popcorned around the table. I started with, “2016 was a good year!” My friend Kelly, who recently lost her sister to a long battle with multiple myeloma, couldn’t grasp how 2016 could have been a “good year.” After all, our group of friends had not only lost her sister but other loved ones, too. But it was a good year for me because I was able to be with those loved ones – really be with them – during their loss. I also had quality time with my three adult children and a great year with my husband. I spent time with my extended family, and I developed new meaningful friendships. 2016 was a good year for me because my longing, my word for 2015 was Relationality. Through the good, bad, and ugly, I was present – really present. That’s a win! I recently read Sarah Bessey’s blog; her word for one year was Survive, and the next years was Holdfast. Sarah is in the middle of the hourglass of life. I was there, too. Raising a family of three, working full time, getting a doctorate, engaging in ministry life – well,  she describes it as exhausting and like her, I too often felt like I merely survived and found myself “limping into December.” I recognize there are seasons in life, and the middle of the hourglass (my mom’s term) is a time of hurriedness, spreading thin, holding multiple balls in the air all while trying to look great. For that season, Sarah’s word Holdfast fits, a time of embracing the stage and recognizing there will be a time in the future where life slows. During that harried season of life, my mom would provide encouragement, “Holdfast Jackie, there will come a time when life slows.” (She called that season the bottom of the hourglass.)   Mom was right, life does slow down. I’m over 50 and grateful for the education and experience of my younger years, but also keenly aware my time is running out. No, I’m not dying today; I’m just saying I’m on the other side of the hourglass. It’s a time in life when you ask some serious questions about where you’ve been and where you’re going. For me the questions have revolved around who and what will get my time. Where will I expend myself? On whom? For what? The answers...

Read More

Man Enough

Posted by on Thursday, Jan 5, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

Over the holidays I’ve been reading “Man Enough: How Jesus Redefines Manhood,” by Nate Pyle. Here are a few quotes that are not only informative but challenging. I want to ask us, women, “How are we doing with allowing our men to be vulnerable (human)?” Men, like women, are full of emotions. The difference is women are told their emotions are natural, and it’s okay for them to feel and talk about them. Men are told they shouldn’t have emotions, and if they do, they should hide them so they don’t look like women. Because we don’t want our men to appear weak, we fail to teach them how to be emotionally intelligent, thus leaving boys and men to a solitary struggle of hiding their emotions. The constant pressure to be strong causes many men to ignore their emotions. Emotions that display weakness – vulnerability, dependence, compassion, insecurity, joy, and tenderness – are replaced by a strong, hypermasculine, unemotional pose. There are really only two emotions that are socially acceptable for a man to exhibit: anger and jealousy, and of these two, anger has become the dominant go to emotion for men. Accepting our weakness begins by allowing ourselves to be vulnerable. The dictionary defines vulnerability as “capable of being physically and emotionally wounded; open to attack or damage.” That’s every man I know. Not every man will admit it, but every man is. If a guy goes up to a woman and ask her for a date, he is being vulnerable and opening himself up to emotional wounding and rejection. If a man courageously stands up for what is right at work, he runs the risk of being fired. (By the way, along with having high authority God also exhibited vulnerability in creation; God was willing to be open to wounding by the very creation he created. – Jackie statement) Here’s the dirty secret, though: If men are unable to be weak, they will be unable to be vulnerable. And if they are unable to be vulnerable, their relationships will lack intimacy. And if their relationships lack intimacy, men will suffer from chronic loneliness. Women, if you want your husbands, friends, and sons to be healthy, you have to allow them space to be vulnerable, and when they are, you must avoid looking at them as less than men. Women say they want their men to be vulnerable, but many men experience rejection from women when they are vulnerable. Men will only learn to be vulnerable when they have a safe place free of judgment and condemnation. Courageous vulnerability is how Jesus depicted God’s love for humanity. If you’re intrigued with this blog then you’ll love attending our...

Read More

Church, Election & Rooftop Party

Posted by on Wednesday, Nov 16, 2016 in Blog, Gender | 0 comments

This year’s presidential election has vividly demonstrated a divide, but it is not the political one I am talking about. I’m referring to the divide within the conservative faith community. It was evident on social media and proven by the Pew Research Center. “The 2016 presidential exit polling reveals little change in the political alignments of U.S. religious groups. Those who supported Republican candidates in recent elections, such as white born-again or evangelical Christians and white Catholics, strongly supported Donald Trump as well. Groups that traditionally backed Democratic candidates, including religious “nones,” Hispanic Catholics and Jews, were firmly in Hillary Clinton’s corner.” I recently blogged about how many, women of faith, are deeply disappointed and even disturbed by the radio silence of our male leadership pertaining to the misogynistic and sexual objectification of women during the election season. For me, the disappointment wasn’t about whether or not the winner was red or blue; it was about how we winked at the Imago Dei woman – she was once again marginalized by the Church. I want my brothers to care as much about my whole body as they do about my womb. After the election, my husband and I hosted a party for both red and blue –democrats, republicans, and independents welcomed. It was a “Thank God It’s Over, Politics Free” party. About a 100 of us gathered at a rooftop bar. We listened to great music and heard a spoken word piece premiered which was then followed up by singing “God Bless America”. We devoured good food, drank wine, and chit chatted. The only thing not at the party was politics. It was a politics-free party. In fact, if someone overheard you talking politics, you had to buy them a drink. “God Bless America” at Thank God It’s Over from The Marcella Project on Vimeo. It’s been encouraging to reflect upon that evening. I knew almost everyone there. I also had a general idea who each person voted for – almost. There were Trump supporters, Hillary supporters, Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. There were even visitors from other countries who had no “dog in the fight” at all. Regardless of how each voted, it was inspiring that every one of them has devoted their lives to helping the marginalized. By the bar was a businessman who helps plants churches in predominately Islamic countries. Over on the side of the room was a retired CFO that gives her time to helping non-profits focus on ennobling women. With her was a businesswoman who started companies in Afghanistan to help rebuild that country. There were mentors of underprivileged kids, authors who write about hope, counselors who heal, policy wonks who better others’ lives,...

Read More