Why I'm not participating in A Day Without a Woman
I come from a long line of strong women. Women who run businesses, travel, volunteer, march and donate. Women who advocate and educate. When I think about their impact on my life though, smaller things stand out.
My Grandma Lorenia poured out love in crystal goblets filled with root beer and hours of card games. She believed that every person was valuable. She served through cancer and poverty and unending demands. Her laughter was contagious. Her legacy was joy.
My Grandma Viola sewed love into packages and prayers. She saved, she served, she perservered. She loved tight hugs, warm cookies and weddings. Her legacy was faithfulness.
My mother-in-law Carleen ran courage into everyone she met. She was fully supportive and passionate about art and flowers and children. She made everyone she met feel welcome. Her legacy is kindness.
My mother Sue is a bright and fierce force of a person. She's got a twinkle in her eye and she has the ability to make me laugh better than any one. This photo is an excerpt of a letter she wrote me when I turned two years old.
I have letters from aunties and cousins. Sisters and friends. Beautiful women who wrote on my soul and call me to be present. To be faithful.
Walking out to prove a point seems dishonest to their steadfast love.
Earlier today I had to make a tough decision. I've been working long hours lobbying for a bill in the upcoming legislaive session. Couple of trips to the state capitol to meet with various governmental types. I received news today that I'd been invited to a dinner with a senator. Great opportunity for professional development. Problem is the dinner is on the same night as my daughter's choir concert. I'd already promised her I'd go.
As I sat and mulled my options I thought about the Day without a Woman. I am quite certain I'm not necessary at the dinner meeting. My colleagues can handle it without me. But my daughter? I don't want her to figure out what it looks like when mom bails. I want her memories to be full of a steadfast mom who showed up when the call was hard. A mom who delivered on promises even when she wasn't being appreciated. A mom who thanked God because He allowed me to be her mother. So I declined the invitation with the Senator and circled my plans for a night with the elementary school choir.
So today I'll wake up my babies. I'll help pick out their clothes and play my part in the daily taxi. I'll go to work. Not because I'm special or different or better than the hundreds of thousands of women who do the same thing every day. But because this investment in our future has more potential to affect change than any strike, any meeting, any lobbying effort. The legacy is love. And the power of love has nothing to do with protests or demands but everything to do with gratitude, service, peace and patience. Should we ignore injustice? Of course not. But love is the only weapon strong enough to win.
Today I'd like to invite you to write on someone else's heart. Those words have eternal weight. Rather than making someone notice you are gone, how about making someone else feel seen? Those are not small actions.
ENTER TO WIN
I've got a new set of note cards, envelopes and gel pens to get you started on your legacy notes. Write your kids, your friends, your parents, your spouse. Tell them you love them. I'll be giving this set to a winner randomly drawn from anyone who comments on this post or shares the post. Winner will be drawn Friday March 10, 2017. No purchase necessary. Prize mailed in the contenintal US only.
That's the Book: Daniel
Oh girls! It's story time again. The book of Daniel is full of dreams and visions and powerful men made humble by God. There are stories of kings who listen and are saved. Stories of kings who ignore and are judged. There are visions of days we have seen and days yet to come. Cuddle in and I'll tell you one of my favorites. Grab a teddy bear to hold onto tightly because this one has some scary moments.
This story starts in a land long ago. God's people have been conquored and dragged off to be servents to a king they do not trust. It is not safe for anyone who loves the one true God. And yet there are four mighty men who love the Lord. Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego and their dear friend Daniel.
It's obvious to everyone that our four heros are smart, handsome and talented. So they are chosen to go work for the king. La Ti Da! People in service of the king get to live in fancy houses and eat fancy food and live fancy lives. Only problem is they have to ignore the rules they know God wants them to follow.
Oh! But this is why Mommy loves the stories in Daniel. Our heroes choose to follow God anyway. Anyway is a powerful word.
"But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. Now God had cause the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel," Danial 1: 8-9a
Don't ever forget my girls that our God is powerful. He goes before you and causes favor and compassion. He will be there as you stand for what you know is right.
So the young men hold to the commands of God. This makes God very proud.
"To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds". Daniel 1:17
Here is where the plot thickens. The king in the land had a dream. A big scary and confusing dream. So the King calls all his smartest guys together and tells them he wants to know what the dream means. But he's not gonna tell them what he dreamed! He wants the smarties to figure out what it means without even knowing what it was. And if they can't....he's gonna kill them all. Yikes!
The smartest people are all shocked. Speechless. Terrified.
"What the king asks is too difficult. No one can reveal it to the king except the gods, and they do not live among humans." Daniel 2:11
Well the king got furious and ordered for the all the wise men in the land to be executed. Daniel hears the verdict and hustles to his friend's house. He urges them to pray.
Listen girls. Sometimes a problem is huge and dark and you can't see a way forward. The best first step is to pray. For we serve a God who does live among humans and He listens when we pray.
So during the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel and before he goes to tell the king he first pauses to praise and thank God. Told you he was a smart guy.
Daniel tells the king "No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries." Daniel 2:25
Daniel tells the king the meaning of his dream. The king is so impressed he gives Daniel wealth and a brand new job ruling the province and he made him leader of all the wise men. Wowsa girls. Dreams are powerful when God is involved.
The next step of the king is not a good one. He's a proud man with too much power. He has a giant golden statue of himself made and passes a law that everyone must bow and worship to the statue. Yucko. Girls, don't ever worship prideful and powerful people. Anyone drunk with themselves is not going to lead you well.
The king finds out that Shadrach, Meschad and Abednego are not bowing or worshiping. The king again becomes furious and orders the young men to come explain themselves. He threatens to throw them into a fiery furnace if they refuse to bow.
"Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego replied to him, "King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you on this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from your majesty's hand But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." Daniel 3:18
Our God is able. Even if he does not. If you could memorize these seven words and write them on your hearts it will guide you through any dark days. God is able to rescue us from anything. Courage is Even If.
The angry King orders furnace to be heated seven times hotter and the heros are bound and thrown into the fire. The king sits back to watch the result. Soon he leaps to his feet in amazement.
"He said, 'Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods." Daniel 3:25
See there?! When God saves he does it by joining the fire with us. Whom God saves, come away unbound and unharmed. His timing is perfect. His salvation is complete.
Another night I'll tuck you in with the story of how one of these kings became like a wild beast in a field, or how God's hand wrote on the wall, and how Daniel escaped from the lions. This is a wild ride of a book. Daniel remained faithful through it all. Near the end of his life, God gives Daniel a beautiful promise to hold onto.
"Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever." Daniel 12:3
Sometimes I look at the world we live in and I feel fear for your future. I worry the days ahead will carry lions, prideful rulers, laws we can not obey, fear and concern. But then I read this promise and I remember. In the darkness light shines brightest. So as I tuck you into bed I pray for wisdom, for righteousness, for you to shine. The promises of God are much better to hold onto than a teddy bear.
You stand in the fire beside me. Gorgeous truth from this powerful book. Take a minute and listen to Chris Tomlin's song Jesus.
Sunday School wouldn't be complete without the fiery furnace or the lion's den. See how they fit into the full book through The Bible Project's walkthrough.
Beth Moore is much smarter than I am. She could be on Daniel's wise person team. If you want to see this powerful book more clearly may I suggest you work through her book?
Since I moved out of my parents house over 10 years ago, I've secretly wanted my own Kitchen Aid stand mixer. But the sticker shock kept me from officially putting one on a wish list. After all, I had a handheld mixer that worked just fine. And since I want to be able to continue wearing my jeans, I really don't need to make baking cakes an easier process. And who has time to bake bread anyway? I rationalized like this for years, never mentioning I really wanted one to grace my counter top.
My family pooled their money and bought me one for my birthday. I was shocked and thrilled! My favorite feature is the dough hook. During a recent snowstorm I made cookies, homemade pizza, a loaf of bread and God taught me a few things in the process.
Our culture is quite taken with this practice. It has recently made the cover of magazines. Public schools are teaching it. And even politicians are holding mediation sessions before meetings in Washington DC. The benefits touted include reduced stress and a sense of awareness. It's participants are often encouraged to empty their minds.
Meditation is a biblical practice. But instead of emptying our minds, we are told to focus our minds on God's truth. We need to do it over and over and over again. Just like the hook hits the dough over and over and over again.
I will meditate on Your precepts And regard Your ways. I shall delight in Your statutes; I shall not forget Your word. Psalm 119:15-16
On the glorious splendor of Your majesty And on Your wonderful works, I will meditate. Psalm 145:5
Our Children are Watching
My kid is just as fascinated with the new machine as I am. He has been warned to look with his eyes and not his hands. He watches the machine churn and churn and whirl and whirl. He watches me do the same.
You see, the day I made this particular loaf of bread I wasn't meditating on God's truth. I was angry and I was churning my judgmental thoughts over and over again. I was meditating on my anger. Yeast is tiny...and powerful. It has a strong smell that stays on your hands days after the bread was baked. Jesus warned that a tiny bit contaminates a whole loaf. What started off as a smattering of little irritants grew into something ugly and hard in my heart.
In the book of Matthew Jesus asked, "Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?"
I told myself I was baking my son a loaf of bread, but inwardly I was building a jagged rock. I don't want to give my son a stone when he asks for bread. Anger hardens hearts. Bread is life giving. It is soft and smells heavenly.
I had a serious "come to Jesus moment" while my bread baked. Hot cross buns are traditionally baked at Easter. They are a picture of what Christ did for us. Jesus went to the cross and suffered so we don't have to go to the ovens of hell. He took our place. His body was pierced and broken for us. He is the bread of life and He offers this bread for free. The price of my Kitchen Aid mixer seemed steep- the price Christ paid you and me is unfathomable. While I didn't ask for my mixer, I begged for His forgiveness.
"Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh." Ezekiel 36:26
Preventative Maintenance Matters
My new machine has a few rules for keeping it running smoothly for years to come. Hand wash certain parts. Turn certain notches before others. Keep it clean... This machine taught me that my heart and mind does too.
I wrote a serious of apology notes and confessed my issue to some trusted friends and I prayed. I also learned I need to watch what I meditate. Here are a few verses I'm intentionally churning over and over and over again...just like my dough hook. I hope you'll join me:
May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
Jesus answered, "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"
What are your favorite verses? Do you have any you repeat to yourself to keep God's truth in mind?
I love Jesus. I think my two daughters can change the world. I think you can too.
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