Chronicling 40: Day 88 of 365 #MeToo

#MeToo
It was just a few years ago, that this exchange happened:
 
Neighborhood boy knocks on our door to ask the girls to play. The girls head out to talk to him, I’m just on the other side of the door listening.
 
Boy: You guys want to play?
Girls: No, we are going to hang out here today, just us girls.
Boy: “I’m going to tell your mom that you are being mean to me, and get you in trouble, unless you play with me.”
 
At that point, I had to have a “no means no” conversation with a 9yo boy.
 
No. Is a complete sentence.
No. Is an acceptable answer.
 
The foundation of what led to the current ” #MeToo ” movement flowing through social media begins when girls feel as if they have no voice, no power, no choice. When they feel threatened to comply. Manipulated to comply. Coerced to comply. When others feel they can wield words and actions against them, without any repercussion.
 
The more people who are willing to share their #MeToo, the more we realize how widespread this is. But there are those who can’t post their “Me Too” story because their safety is priority, because they are still healing, because for whatever reason they can’t. They are still brave and strong, and survivors.
 
For those of us who say “Me Too” , we are not just speaking it for ourselves… but for those who can’t speak up yet.
I’ve shared some of my “Me Too” on Twitter.  It wasn’t easy.  And as I addressed the first, another came to mind, then another, then another.  Oddly enough no matter how many situations and groups of people I have removed myself from, it still happens.  For every one I shared, there were probably 2 more that I just couldn’t bring myself to bit “submit”.
Lord, that we would bring up our daughters with voices of strength, conviction, and resolve.   That we would bring up our sons with compassion, mercy, and seeing women with such value that they would never mar her with words or actions.
A few days ago an image rolled through my Facebook memories, in essence it was a screen shot of a conversation that stated:
There should be some sort of unwritten code among women, that if a guy is making you feel uncomfortable that you can approach a group of women and whisper that a creepy guy is bugging you, and ask if they mind you pretending like you belong to their group.
1.  No matter what ladies, if you are near me, there is always an empty seat with your name on it.  We’ll laugh and pretend we’ve been besties since the womb.  If you need a ride out of that place, I’ll make room.
2.  We shouldn’t need such a rule.
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Chronicling 40: Day 87 of 365

quit

My daughter quit her job, is unemployed, and we’re not even one bit upset about it. 

My eldest daughter is 18.  Around 13/14 she began working as a mother’s helper during weekends and summers.  By 15, she was baby sitting on her own and even on retainer during the summer by a particular family.  By 17, she was working at the mall and at 18 she began working as a waitress. 

We never asked her to get a job, and honestly we’d have been happier if she hadn’t.  But, we also understood that teenage need for money.  We had hoped that by making an agreement with her to cover her expenses (car insurance, gas, etc.) that she would forgo working during college.  We agreed that we felt her primary responsibility should be her education.  We have the means to cover those costs and her educational expenses, at this time, and wanted to lift that burden of having to balance work, school, and social life.   In the end, we followed her lead.

Yesterday, she quit her job.  And we are not even a little bit upset about it, and happy to afford her an opportunity that many kids are not given.  We know how incredibly lucky we are to be doing this for her, and trust me we are not rolling in the dough financially.  We have made sacrifices to ensure this is possible (thanks Dave Ramsey).

Adulthood isn’t easy, and for some reason we as a society are really pushing our kids there faster and faster.  My daughter has shared how many of her friends were basically told to get a job and move out at 18 years old.  Now, they are coming out of high school and having to look for apartments, find roommates, and pay bills that most 18 year olds can not afford even if they have a full time job.  If you have had a teenager looking for a job recently, you’ll know what I mean.  The picking are slim, and the money isn’t great.  I know several girls who are carrying multiple jobs and trying to focus on college, at 18.

I understand that not everyone is in the same financial space we are, that can offer their college age students the same deal we did.  But goodness, can they not just keep their bedroom a few more years?  Do they need to understand the weight of carrying two jobs to make ends meet when they are barely out of high school? 

Lest you think me judgemental, let me establish my own history.  My mother was a single mom, my dad barely paid child support and there was no alimony ever.  In fact, he didn’t start paying his arrears until I was married (I’m the youngest of 3).  My mother worked multiple jobs, during many of these years.  I busted my butt for scholarships, and family members had paid into a college fund for me.  My mom never required me to work, or to move out.  So, I understand that even when circumstances seem tight, we still have an option to support our kids the best we can and give them the best hope at a good start.

Chronicling 40: Day 86 of 365

arrogance

I couldn’t sleep, so I began poking around on Instagram.  I came across several images that had the phrase “A Queen walks in Confidence not Arrogance.”  I stopped to pause.  This phrase took me back to my recent series “Don’t Confuse a Deborah with a Jezebel”.  I would definitely describe Deborah as confident, and Jezebel as arrogant.  What is the difference between Confidence and Arrogance and why does that matter?

The first thing I mulled over was that historically Kings and Queens believed their ruling appointments were by divine authority.  Yes, over time they understood that they held the position because of royal lineage… but that lineage was established by God.  Therefore they led their countries in confidence because they believed the Lord had placed them there to do so, that the Lord was on their side.  Interestingly enough the Scriptures talk about many Kings and leaders who didn’t have the Lord’s favor, although He allowed them to be in rule to serve HIS purposes not the other way around.  What began to happen over time was that confidence would become arrogance.

This last sentence is imperative to consider, and any of us walk forward in the confidence of our faith, that we do not allow it to become arrogance.  Look at King David, a man after God’s own heart… and the poor decisions he made from his own arrogance.  Whereas, Queen Ester was presenting herself before the King, not due to her own arrogance but instead through a confidence in God sovereignty.  She was willing to do what He required of her, even in her own fleshy uncertainty and risk.

Scott Burken, an author of several leadership books, defines the difference as this:

An arrogant person only feels smart if someone else feels stupid. Their sense of themselves depends on thinking less of someone else. They insist on correcting other people’s grammar or showing them their flaws, as it’s the only way they can feel an approximation of confidence. Arrogance is about intent: its when ability (or perceived ability) is used to look down on others.

A confident person feels competent from the inside out. They use their talents to genuinely try to be of use, or to succeed at the task at hand. They might seek external validation, but they don’t depend on it to define their sense of their ability or nature.

In some cases an arrogant person may have more skill than a confident person, but the confident person will tend to wield whatever abilities they have with more calm control than an arrogant person can.

By his definition, arrogance means that I define my value based on making others smaller than me.  My intentions are all about making myself look better, stronger, more attractive, etc.  I validate myself.  It is selfish, self serving, and ego-centric.  However, the confident person doesn’t need any validation. As my friend Faith James says, “you know, what you know, what you know.”  The use of our gifts and talents are not to elevate ourselves, but to genuinely help others or improve circumstances.

What all of this point to, for me, is the issue of the heart.  What are my intentions in how I present myself to this world.  Am I walking in confidence, that the Lord has given me gifts and talents to use for His Kingdom purposes?  Or, am I walking in arrogance, as if I am God’s gift to right this planet of His?

I was recently speaking to my friend Aimee Nelson, and we were discussing iron sharpening iron, and lifting one another up.  Aimee shared that in her community women helping other women toward success is not common.  It’s very competitive, everyone concerned about themselves, and it’s unusual to see someone enter that space with a genuine desire to help others more than themselves.  (Aimee, I hope I did justice to your words here.)

When ever Aimee introduces me to people, something she almost always includes is my heart for helping other women above myself.  Listen, this isn’t a pat on the back moment for me.  But I share this because it is truth.  When I speak to someone about their ministry, I come from a place of “we are all in this together”.  How can I help you get to where you want to be.  And, I mean it genuinely.  I believe when one rises up, we take the rest of us too.  Your success is my success, even when you are more successful than me.

Because of this belief, I have a confidence in how I present myself, my skills, and my knowledge to others.  I am genuinely trying to be of use or help the task at hand, as Scott Burken defines it.  But, even I have moments where I want to scream out.. “why won’t you listen to me, I know what I am talking about!”.  Is that arrogance?  I don’t know, maybe.  Frustration, more likely.  But this question certainly has me asking the Lord to search my heart, and show me my iniquities. If arrogance is starting to take over confidence, I want to know and I want to put a stop to that immediately.

Perhaps there is a very fine line between the two, and it may be easy to walk that line dipping your toes into either side with minimal effort.  I rather swim in the confidence of the Lord, than wade in the shallow waters of arrogance. 

Chronicling 40: Day 83 of 365

Today, I was ever thankful when my friend sent me a message that she had to cancel our lunch.  I had been debating it all morning, as I wasn’t feeling my best.  And, while I’d like to believe I resembled the picture on the left… the right is probably not only more accurate but in fact it may be a bit generous as well.

It was a good thing that she cancelled because things spiraled pretty quickly.  (I’m ok now, but it was a very rough day).  All this to bring me to the point of the post today…

We’ve heard people talk about “divine appointments”, those moments where the unexpected happens and the Lord seemingly works something out right before you eyes.  You are introduced to just the right person. A new resource seems to just fall right into your lap.  A chance encounter becomes a life long relationship.  Or even a moment where the person who had something to give crossed the path of the person who needed to receive.

What about “divine interruptions”?  When we think of interruptions, we often look at them very negatively.  They are those things that get in the way of our agenda.  The person who keeps interrupting our phone call, gets on our last nerve.  Or, the phone ringing off the hook as we are trying to get out the door.  It’s the illness that drops us to our knees for the day, or keeps our child home from school.  Perhaps even the miscommunication of schedules in the home which means things are about to awry.

The first time I embraced the positive side of these interruptions was not that long ago at all.  We, the family, had somewhere to be and we were already behind.  I couldn’t find my keys.  One of the girls was dragging her feet in getting ready.  It was just one thing after another.  Not to mention, it was storming… which meant that our travel time would be slowed down.  We finally got in the car, and as we drove down our usual route… we saw the damage.  I’m not certain if it was the result of an accident or a small tornado, but something had occurred and the damage was fresh.  Had we been on time that morning, we would have most likely been right in the fray.

When I think of today, I am thankful that my friend cancelled our lunch date… because I didn’t realize at the time how much I was going to need the rest today to recoup.  Moms can’t get sick during the school week… we just can’t. Ha.  Had I reached out first, and cancelled, she too would have appreciated this interruption to our plans.  She had a deadline to meet, and needed the extra time.

What if we saw interruptions in a different light?  Instead of negatively, what if we viewed them as an opportunity.  Here’s what I mean:

You already carved out 1 hour for a lunch date, and it is cancelled.  Use that time to connect with God, through a Bible Study, Devotional, or pull up a Sermon on Youtube.  Take your Bible to the beach and read it.  Or, stop into that Women’s Prayer group you have been considering attending.  Call a family member.  Finish that project.  Take a nap and rest.

You planned a day at the beach with a bunch of families, and the rain cancels your plans.  Still gather at someone’s home and have fellowship inside.  Or, instead of going back to your normal day for the family… line up some movies, order pizza, and veg out as a family instead.  Or, even spend the day taking some one on one time with each of your children in a small project around the house.

You worked all night preparing for your presentation in the morning, the meeting is cancelled. Use this as an opportunity to review your presentation one more time and polish it up.  If the space is still available, ask a coworker to sit in on a run through of your presentation and critique it.  Did you work on it as a team?  Since you had the morning cleared for the meeting, take the team out to breakfast.

These are just a few ways we can spin an interruption into a positive thing.  Now, for that toddler who keep sticking their fingers under the bathroom door… wanting to know if you are done yet…

… I’ve got nothing for you.  Maybe pray a blessing over those little fingers every time they pass in and thank God for the gift of being a mother.  I feel like that is the kind of thing I should say right now… this will pass.  I assure you of that.  One day, they won’t stick their fingers under the door.  They’ll just barge on in.  (My 18 year old still does this sometimes.)  Maybe once they move out it stops… I don’t know.  #JesusBeNear

Chronicling 40: Day 82 of 365

bodyoumom

Last night, I sat in on my first Board of Directors meeting with YouMoms.org.   I’m very excited to be serving this organization, and my home town.  Let’s walk through a time line of events….

I met Jenny Andrews, through volunteering with Authentic Intimacy a few years ago.  Through that encounter, she learned about my ministry the Women’s Ministry Council.  She’s become a vital participant in that ministry and brought with her Aimee Nelson to some of the meetings.  Aimee would also become a gift to my ministry work.

Aimee asked me to pray about serving on the Board of her ministry YouMoms.org .  In all honestly, I just wasn’t sure.  I don’t live in that city any more, how valuable would I be to the organization? Yes, I have gifts of administration but I don’t have any connections in that community any more.  Would I be taking up a seat that would be better filled by someone else?

It was during this time that I began attending Branding over Lunch events with Personal Branding Coach, Faith James (FaithJames.com); which eventually led me to her all day seminar.  Prior to the seminar, we were given a survey to complete so that we had a better view of our brand (company, ministry, organization).  As I progressed through the assessment I stopped cold in my tracks at these two questions:

Do you take an active role in a professional organization (e.g. sit on a board, volunteer)?

Do you actively participate in a philanthropic organization?

I wrote down Aimee’s name, and “YouMoms.org” with a big question mark.  Was this an affirmation from the Lord, that this was something He wanted me to do?  I came home that afternoon, pondering that thought… praying over it.  By the time the weekend was over, a text came in from Aimee and she brought it up again.

All of this to say, that as I look back … I can see the finger prints of God all over the place.  Positioning people, connecting people, building relationships.  I think of Esther who spent all that time preparing to be presented to the King, how crazy that must have seemed to her.  But, all of that preparation was in order to get the favor before King, to then become Queen, to then be in the position to address the King.  There were many things that prepared her for “such a time as this”.

You may find yourself in a season that doesn’t seem to make any sense.   Consider, that you may be in the preparation phrase.  And, your “such a time as this” is yet to come.  Then lean into God, praying over this time period, opening your heart to the preparation before the calling, or before the blessing.

Chronicling 40: Day 81 of 365

words

Words matter.  So much.  Not just what we say, but what we don’t.  There are some memories of words that were so endearing and encouraging, and some where they cut deep.  There are words that have been thrown casually without considering their impact (I’ve received, and thrown).  There are also times when I desperately needed someone to speak up for me, advocate for me, be my voice when I felt silenced.

I remember a time where I was being accused of something, and someone else knew the full truth.  She could have spoken up in my defense, saved my character being put into question, but instead chose to stay quiet because she didn’t want to “get in the middle of it”.  She allowed my character to be assassinated versus sharing the truth. 

I remember words spoken to me peers throughout my childhood that occasionally pop into my mind.  Some bring me such joy, and others pain.

I remember a phrase my husband spoke to me, in the heat of an argument.  He didn’t mean it how it came out (truly he didn’t, he does not have a way with words), but it stung none the less.

I recall overhearing friends talking about a great trip they had planned, and feeling pangs of rejection because I wasn’t included.

I’m thinking of all the conversations I have had in my own head, that I regret not speaking in real life.  The things I’ve needed to say, should have said.

Recently a friend bought her daughter a type writer as a gift, this child has an old soul.  I commented to her that we are far more cautious with our words when we have to pay for the paper, typewriter ribbon, and correction fluid.  I began to think about social media and the struggle of communicating there.

Twitter allots us just a few characters to make our point, so we become far more direct and to the point.  As we began to access our facebook accounts through our smart phones.. we began typing less and using abbreviations because hitting those tiny keys isn’t easy.  I can type for days at my regular keyboard, but on the phone?  I’m keeping it brief. 

Even more so, we can allow the words to just flow out of our mouths without fulling thinking it through.  We may be to direct and curt.  We may be too long winded and revealing.  We may not speak up when we should. 

Words matter.  If we had to pay a fee for every word we spoke, we may be more judicious with them.  We don’t always realize it, but this already exists.  Words do come at a price.  Perhaps we should consider the cost.

 

Chronicling 40: Day 79 of 365

henna.jpg

Now that I have your attention, I have to share a decision I made today.  I was going to color my hair, nothing crazy but instead a more vibrant/healthy version of my own natural color.  Red heads don’t always go gray… some times we go strawberry blonde, to blonde, to white.  We can skip gray completely.  I had been noticing that my hair was heading more strawberry blonde and frankly when you are already pale skinned… it’s nice to frame the face with some color.

Now, let me preface that I have in fact attempted this via a local salon for a few months.  I spent a LOT of money (my hair is not easy to color) and many hours in that chair only to not be happy with the finished product.  The dye on my roots would be so dark that it just looked fake.  If I want fake, I’ll go bold and pick something crazy.  I just want to enhance what the good Lord gave me.

I also wanted to avoid chemicals and go with something very natural.  So, I picked a henna based hair coloring.  Let me tell you, today was an adventure.

Here was the review I left on amazon today:

I selected this product because I wanted to give my natural color a bit of a pick me up, spice up the do a bit and yet avoid harsh chemicals. My hair is tough to color and it always ends up taking more product/chemical/time and thus money. This seemed like an affordable alternative and I had high hopes based on the reviews that this could be exactly what I was looking for.

I followed the package directions, and liked the suggestions of adding tea/coffee and olive oil to help the products vibrancy and conditioning. I chose roobios tea, since the recommendations suggested it would add a punch to the red color I selected (Sherry). The outcome of the whole process was a wonderful color that looks like an enhanced version of my natural color. Not too bold, gentle fade at the hairline vs. a stark line of new color. I’ve paid hundreds of dollars and spent hours in a salon to achieve this look before. It’s a more vibrant version of my natural color. I’m sold on your product.

Down points, frankly it looks like baby poop. And not the I’m still on milk baby poop, that is tight and compact yellowish green. But the full diet, I just exploded a diaper, baby poop. My trash can and bathtub looked like a bad weekend of the stomach flu. It also smells like death. Not an easy death either, but a long drawn out one. Once I washed the henna out with shampoo, the tub looked like a crime scene or what I imagine the sinks the Red Lobster look like after deveining shrimp for an all you can eat shrimp extravaganza. My hair still smells of death, but a clean death vs. a dirty scandalous one.

Would I buy this again? You’betcha.

My hair is soft, and bouncy. I hope the color holds as the packaging states, not sure I could do this to myself willingly on a regular basis. Will update about the color hold and how long it took for the smell of death to wane.

Additionally, I’ve noticed that the cat is far more interested in being in my presence then ever before… perhaps due to the smell. The jury is still out on whether this is a pro/con to the product.

Selling Points: The smell may give you the night off from sexy time. If you leave the contents of trash can and residue from the shower in tact… you could probably feign illness and get your husband to buy take out for dinner. Maybe even clean the bathroom for you, while you netflix in bed to “recover”.

Absolutely would buy it again, the results thus far sell me on the ends justifying the means.