Living the Blessed Life

Posted by on Monday, Apr 10, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

I never heard it growing up. It just wasn’t a saying. I heard it when I moved to Dallas. You’ve heard it, too – Blessed. We Christians use it often. “They have a blessed life.” “I’ve lived a blessed life.” I googled images of “blessed life.” Here’s a sample of what pops up. I’ve been noodling on the birth of Jesus in Luke. There I tripped over Mary’s words in the Magnificat, specifically the ones where she proclaims that she’s blessed and that God has done great things for her. And I’m wondering, as I noodle over the meaning of her life if I’ve minimized the meaning of blessed. What exactly are we referring to when we say “our life is blessed?” That we are financially ok…that our relationships are in a good place…that our health is holding up? The more and more I read Scripture the more I realize how unsanitized it is, how what we say or think isn’t what’s being said through the lives of those of whom the Scriptures speak. Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. (Luke 1:46-49) I’ve spent the week noodling on Mary’s life. The events that Scripture reveals about her. As I’ve pondered I’ve increasingly wondered how she could say, “God did great things for her?” Mary got pregnant by the Holy Spirit. (That’s freaky!) She could have faced death by stoning for the pregnancy. (That’s scary!) There was a time of tension over it with Joseph. (How awkward was that conversation?) She lived in a shame/honor culture. Where her parents ashamed? What about the community? Did they mock her? Leave her out? Say mean things to her? Her reputation, the most valuable possession a woman had, was on the line. While very pregnant she traveled on a donkey. (Ouch.) She gave birth in a cave with animals. (Smells. Need I say more?) She had no other woman present for the delivery. No mother, sister, or aunt to look her in the eye and help her navigate this painful experience. Herod’s threat forced her to go on the run. She left her home and friends. Some of those friends she left behind lost their sons on account of hers. Don’t blow past that. When I had my 2-year-old son Hunter, we had playdates with other 2-year-olds. And us moms would make them PB&Js and chat while the kids played. What was it like to leave...

Read More

Water’s Women’s Work

Posted by on Monday, Feb 27, 2017 in Blog | 1 comment

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

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

On Her Behalf

Posted by on Wednesday, Nov 9, 2016 in Blog | 10 comments

This morning I woke to a flood of texts and emails from women around the country. These women should be heard. So I will speak, not as an authority but as one of them. First, let me say, this isn’t about Donald Trump – it’s about my brothers and the message you have sent to your sisters. It’s not about whom you voted for; it’s about the fact that you let it slide. It hurts. We women are disturbed that we elected a man who called his daughter “a nice piece of _____“ to be our next president. We are deeply disturbed because we just winked at sexism. We’re not shocked, we’ve lived it our whole lives, but we are deeply disturbed. To be honest, it hurts. We are deeply disturbed by our brothers. The white evangelical vote heavily contributed to our electing a sexist president into office. Our male leaders, the shepherds of our flocks – James Dobson, Robert Jeffress, and Jerry Falwell Jr. backed Trump and in doing so stated that we women aren’t that important. Our brothers spoke against abortion but not misogyny. It hurts. We women who have tirelessly served in your churches, tithed, and helped with your building campaigns, have been told sexism isn’t that big of a deal. We aren’t shocked, we’ve heard it our whole lives, but we expected more from you, our deacons, our elders, and our pastors. We are deeply disturbed that too many of our brothers simply went “radio silent.” You didn’t stand with sexism, but you didn’t fight against it either. Radio silence to 60% of your congregation. We’re not shocked, we’ve lived it our whole life, but we are disappointed – deeply disappointed. It makes us want to ask you, “At what point will you stand up for us, your other half, the Imago Dei?” You missed the chance this time around, but you will get that chance again. For those men of faith who did step up, stand up, and speak up – Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. It mattered to us. I’m writing this for those of us who are grieving today, not about politics whether we’re red or blue – but about the message we’ve just sent to women and girls around the globe. We’re not shocked, we’ve lived it our whole lives. We know locker room talk exists – we just never expected our brothers to go along. On behalf of my sisters, I say to our Christian leaders, shame on you. “As surely as I live, says the Lord, you have abandoned my flock and left them to be attacked by every wild animal.” (Ezekiel 34:8) To my sisters – I...

Read More