war on women

Women, Voices and a Bit of Bible

Creative Commons  Duncan Hull

Creative Commons Duncan Hull

“The Lord announces the word, and the women who proclaim it are a mighty throng:” Psalm 68:11

I read yesterday’s post to my daughter.  All I wanted to know was a) Is it too long? and b) Is it boring?

I did not like the grin on her face when I looked up from reading.

“What?  Too long and too boring?”

“No.”

“Then why the grin?”

“I don’t know, I guess I always chuckle when I hear ‘blogger voice'”.

“Blogger voice?  I don’t have blogger voice!  Are you saying my writing is prosaic?”

“You used too many adverbs.  My Hemingway app always tells me to remove the adverbs.”

“Your Hemingway app is for college papers, I was telling a story.   Without adverbs a story is just a laundry list of facts.”

Stinking kid.  Now I’m all self-conscious about sounding bloggery.

So today I’m just going to post an excerpt from the Bible study I wrote; try to get my voice back and hope you learn something:

You have probably heard that a woman uses about 20,000 words per day while a man uses about 7,000.  That claim became widely quoted after it was mentioned in a 2006 book entitled The Female Brain. The following year, a group of University of Arizona researchers published the results of their study of 396 college students.  They found that women spoke 16,215 words per day, while men spoke 15,669 – a  difference which is not statistically significant.

The quote has stuck, even though it has since been removed from the book, because it seems to ring true.  Perhaps it rings true because we instinctively know that there are differences in the way men and women communicate.  Matthias R. Mehl, a psychology professor at the University of Arizona and the study’s lead author, found that the difference is not in the quantity of words, it’s in the type of words. Women use more pronouns, men use more numbers.  Women tend to talk about relationships; men talk about sports, technology and gadgets.

A perfect example played out at a small group meeting I attended one night.  One of the men shared that his tenant seems depressed lately.  During a recent visit to the property his tenant lamented that life really had him down and then he relayed the details of his shipwrecked health, finances and relationships.  The group member paused and said, “He doesn’t talk anymore.  He used to talk all the time.  I’d come in and he’d say, ‘How about those Tigers?’ or we’d talk about the Giants.”   I wonder whether I am the only woman in the group who chuckled inwardly.

I ran that last paragraph by my husband and asked whether it made sense.

He said it did.  Then I asked, “Do you know why I chuckled?”  “Nope.”  Later I ran it past my daughter.  It took her a second and then she grinned as she caught the irony.

I think I’ll do my own mini research here.  Do you know why I chuckled?

Now for a little bit of Bible:

The Hebrew word for Eve is Chavvah (pronounced khav-vaw’).  It is a proper name which has been defined as “life” or “living”.  The Septuagint translates it into Greek as “Zoe”.  Chavvah is derived from the Hebrew root word chavah (pronounced khaw-vah’), which means “to tell, declare, show, make known” and from the Aramaic root word chava’ (pronounced khav-aw’), which means “to show, interpret, explain, inform, tell, declare”.

If the 20,000/7,000 statistic had proved to be true, I would say Eve’s name indicates that woman is the verbal side of God.  But since men and women are equally verbal, we can glean from the root of her name that hers is a wise and life-giving opinion.

So speak up in church, woman, show, explain, declare, make stuff known with whatever voice you have because your voice contains the wisdom of  God.

 

 

© The Reluctant Baptist, 2014

 

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faith, life, restoration, Stories from the Island

Crossing the Water

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I was planning to tell you about June today.  But then my daughter shared her blog post with me, and she did a wonderful job of introducing Brenda.  So Brenda it is.  I would love to just reblog her post except that it would give away my identity.

So, with her permission, I am pasting it here, minus any identifying information:

Shelby and Lesley and I weren’t the only ones on the island this past weekend. We brought women with us. Women who deserved to be blessed. Women who needed to know how God felt about them and who He created them to be. Women who had stories to tell, stories that would allow us to learn from each other.

We brought former prostitutes and addicts. We brought women who used to work the streets, and women who currently go out and minister to those who still do.

Really, my mom brought them. She planned the whole retreat and listened when God told her who to invite. Perhaps I don’t know all the factors that were taken into consideration when she chose the hotel on the island as our location, but I don’t think any of us thought about the significance of crossing over water to get to an island until Brenda did.

Brenda was one of the women who came with us. When she shared her story last night, we found out she had been gang-raped at the age of fourteen, an incident that propelled her into prostitution, promiscuity, and drug use until she eventually surrendered her life to Jesus.

During introductions on the first morning Brenda said “I know that God brought us across the water to cleanse us from everything that happened over there. When we go back, it’s going to be over.”

I got chills. And I am just so thankful for everything that this weekend was, and a God who brings His children across the water.

Amen.

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faith, life

Perspective & Percentages

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My small non-profit was given a large grant.  Everyone says it is a blessing, and it is, but it is also a burden.  A heavy burden.  It is a huge responsibility to spend it wisely and well.  That is why so much disappointment oozed into yesterday’s post.

I was disappointed because we did not capture the stories of the women we invited with cinematic greatness.  Stories that could have reached beyond the confines of time and space to bless and warn and heal others.

But the mission was not just about the stories, it was also about blessing the storytellers.  In planning the retreat I had given equal weight to blessing the women with a special weekend and to capturing their stories.  But God weighted it differently.  His mission was much more about blessing the women, and even the videographer, with a memorable experience.  To Him it was all about blessing the now.

Maybe it’s because I have been sick and achy and weak since I’ve been home, maybe it’s because my expectations are always high, but I was looking at the trip as a 50% failure.

But today my daughter reminded me why we decided to hold the retreat: On that day she said “No one else is doing this.  No one is blessing these women in this way.  I think we should do it.”  So we did.  Today she said, “How many people have the means to bless these women the way we did?”  When I look at it that way, the mission was a 100% success.

We set out to bless them and they were blessed.  We wanted them to come and enjoy and they did!  They enjoyed themselves and the island and the fabulous hotel and the food 100%.  There was not a single complaint about the damp, chilly weather.  Just joy.

We wanted them to be open to learning, and they were.  They were very willing to learn and to share.  They shared stories that I never would have guessed would come from their strong, joyful mouths.

Our guests did not let me down at all.

My disappointed perspective had me feeling I had wasted the ministry’s money by inviting “helpers” who did not seem to add anything of value, who seemed to just be along for the luxurious ride.  But I am going to let go of that and trust that God did things in those people that I know nothing about.  Too much prayer went into the planning to believe otherwise.

I was thinking I had to leverage the event to reach many in order to justify using the grant money.  But God will leverage it in ways I cannot even image.  Monday morning I ran into June.  Bright, beautiful, joyful, sunny June.  She was leaving the dining room as I was going in.  She gave me a big, warm, generous good-bye hug and said, “I am going home to retrain my daughters.  I taught them wrong and now I am going to teach them right.”  Seeds were planted and they will grow.  Look what Jesus did with His twelve.

I made some rookie mistakes in the execution of our first annual retreat, but I’ve made note of them.  Next year will be better.

In the meantime, videos or not, I’ve got stories of redemption to tell.

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life, Stories from the Island

Working Like a Maniac

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Dear Blogging Buddies,

In my very first post I mentioned that I would be taking 20 women to a big hotel on a small island for a weekend of teaching and refreshment.

The event is now one week away.

Needless to say, I will be working like a maniac between now and then and I expect to have no time for blogging.  But don’t despair, I will catch up with you as soon as I return.

Our group of fifty-something-year-old hens and twenty-something-year-old chicks will be stepping onto the Island Friday afternoon and departing Monday morning.  About half of my guests are women who have left a life of drugs and prostitution. They have been clean for at least three years.  They need to know some stuff.

Here’s a bit of what I will tell them:

  • Contrary to popular belief, man was not created first. God created men and women at the same time, with a joint purpose.   In this first session I am going to tell them a lot of things that will bring dignity to their lives.  I want to know how the truth resonates with them.  I want to know how they saw themselves growing up.  I want to know whether the Truth would have made any difference in their lives.  A woman who completed my Bible study a few years ago said it would have made a difference in her life.  A life that went like this:

I was molested as a child between the ages of eight and twelve years old, so at an early age I learned to equate love with men using my body for their sexual needs.  Add to that the fact that that I grew up in a world where the women were judged by the men in their life, by how many boyfriends they had and how sexually desirable men found them…

When I was about nine my adoptive mom and her new husband started going to church at a very fundamentalist church and were saved.  My mother would lock herself in her room for hours communing with God and leaving me alone with my step dad.   Most of the time, she wouldn’t even go to church.  My step dad would take me without her.  It was on the way to church or coming back that he would pull over and pull me onto his lap and “you know”….

I have allowed myself to be used and abused for as long as I can remember…

…My third son’s dad was charming and charismatic. The first time he hit me he actually convinced me that I smacked my own self upside the head with the phone receiver.

He was a child molesting meth addict who enjoyed beating the snot out of me and then having sex with me.

I spent a year and a half living one moment at a time trying to stay alive and keep my children alive.   I didn’t know that he was molesting my oldest son. I always assumed that boys were safe from that sort of thing.  My mother always told me that boys were blessings from God.   Surely God’s blessings were safe, right? I found out what he was when it was too late.

I have been hit, bit, kicked, dragged through the house by my hair, spit on and held at knife point while he tried to decide whether he wanted to slit my throat, cut the baby I was six months pregnant with or kill himself.  He is now in prison serving a sentence of 15-35 years for child molestation.  But it cost me my 2 oldest children.  Ironically, they went to live with my biological mother when the state took them from me for failure to protect…

As she handed me her typed story she said, “My mother always told me that boys were blessings from God.  My whole life I thought only boys were blessings.  I didn’t know until now that girls are blessings, too.”

I wonder whether the women I will meet next weekend know that girls are blessings, too.

  • Next I am going to show them when and how the whole man, woman, sex thing went awry.  And, as I showed you in this post, I am going show them that Adam was booted from the garden, not Eve.  Eve’s big mistake was making man her king.  I expect we’ll be talking a lot about that.
  • Because all of the women who came out of “the life” have been raped, I am going to tell them about Tamar and Dinah.  And I am going to tell them the story of my own poor heart.
  • Sunday night I am going to listen to their stories.  I am bringing a videographer to tape them.  With their permission, I will likely share them with you.

If you are the praying sort, I would love your prayers – for all the last minute preparations, for safe travel, for God’s blessing on each woman.

Keep blogging ’til I get back.  I’ll have a lot to read and I’ll have a lot to tell.

-trb

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