It’s Still Okay to be Feminine

I’m going to open my veins here and let them bleed a little on a topic dear to my heart.

I love being a woman.

I love it so much that I have no problem owning the fact that men possess attributes I do not. The same is true of women—we can do things men cannot do. But hear me out just a little here……….

It took me forever to burn things from my marriage, but I finally did, carrying a pile out to burn up in flames because my marriage was so far gone. I even sold my bed and all the pillows, then slept on the floor as I cried some deep tears.

In some ways it was merciful for things to get as bad as they did, or I would have hung on forever. But I finally knew I had to be done.

God met me there and told me, “Sara, you are still fully woman and fully feminine, with or without a man.”

Those words from Jesus have been my saving grace. No man can rob me of the gift of being fully woman. Since then, I’ve been able to enjoy, even more, all the things I did before.

God has this ironic way of redeeming everything for those who love Him, and the gift of being able to appreciate goodness even more, as a result of the ugly I’ve been through, has been part of my redemption in it all.

I still dress up, wear make-up, and purchase an occasional new piece of simple jewelry. I still love fashion even though most days I’m knee deep in cleaning supplies at the job. Every once in awhile I still take out the curling iron, and I still love an elegant glass of wine.

If anything, those things mean more to me now because I’m joining the work force each morning and filling my car with gas along with a gazillion men who are all building houses, maintaining lawns, and pouring concrete. They make the mess; I clean the mess.

But recently, as I praised my ten year old son for his masculine protection over our home and family when someone ransacked our car in the night, I was bombarded with upset women because I dared imply that men are more protective than women, that we should all be content with our gender and simply live it up.

I even dared speak against transgender lifestyles. I’m not into the pop-Christian culture where sin is blatantly condoned. And I’m not afraid to mention Jen Hatmaker or her false interpretation of love.

But that’s another topic in itself. Back to daring to mention that men are protective.

I was blown away. Surely most of those women would happily take a protected place should war break out and the men around us rushed to the front lines to protect their homes and families. (I’d honestly love to see a line of feminists when the call to bear arms comes along. I dare say that at that moment, they’d love to let men be men.)

Of course there are female soldiers, too. But I’m talking majority here. There is simply no doubt that most men have a protective instinct and most women have a desire to be protected.

My little boy’s eyes lit right up as he planned how to scare a thief away from our car. And I, as his mother, could only stare at this tiny ten year old and wonder why he wasn’t afraid.

Say that on face book though, and you’ll get all kinds of “Women are definitely the strongest gender” kinds of comments.

I’m not sure what we have to prove here. Do women really feel obligated to do and be everything a man does and is?

For crying aloud, men can’t grow a human in their own bodies, give birth, or even care for a baby as instinctively as women can. We are just as strong, yes, but in a different way. There’s a (God-given) reason most little boys play guns and most little girls play dress-up.

Of course some girls are naturally “tomboy-ish”–and I happen to love scary adventures, mountain climbing, and such as well. We’re not making cookie-cutter descriptions here, but calling appreciation to the fact that genders are different and families need BOTH to function well.

We are just as important, yes, but we are not the same. If God wanted females to be as good at everything men are, He would have just created all of us male.

I’m weary of the twenty-first century where femininity is looked down on rather than appreciated. Have women forgotten they are bearers of beauty, kindness, and love? The world needs us—and every real man knows it.

When women release their femininity for something they think they should be, instead, something difficult comes in its place.

Insecure women bring control, unrest, and ugliness into this world. I’d say this universe needs the opposite—and I’m frankly honored that God created us for the task.

The other day I was cleaning a bath tub for a client when suddenly a massive something with a million legs came speeding up an unused drain. I screamed just a little, stepped back, and wondered what to do.

I could be the bravest ever and say with millions of other women, “Who needs men?” I could squash that creature with a wad of toilet paper. I could overcome every fear I’ve ever had of crawling creatures, and just do it.

Or, I could be okay with my fear, walk out to the garage, and ask the gentleman to please help me with this mini-animal scrambling around his tub.

I chose the latter and stayed far away until he walked out with a smile, a dead creature, and an apology. I thanked him, re-entered his bathroom, and made it cleaner than it’s ever been.

See this—I wasn’t weak for wanting help with a crawling creature speeding about with a million legs in the bath tub I was cleaning. And he wasn’t less of a man for not wanting to clean his house.

I own a cleaning business because I’m good at cleaning and I love organizing. Most days we clean three homes, some of which are obviously bachelor’s pads. Now, some guys are cleaner than women, but there’s a reason we often use extra soap on man caves.

See that term, man cave?

A woman will most likely call her home a nest. She’ll have plant rooms, dining rooms, a sitting room—all geared to love, nurture, and create a haven.

Both genders are strong, yet in opposite ways because we are meant to compliment each other and bring to this world what the other does not. When we both do our part, we create a beautiful balance. When we compare, fret, and feel less than, we create void by default, because when someone isn’t filling a spot, the spot is empty.

If women try to be men, what is left for real men to be attracted to? Who is there to care for, to love, to be hero for?

Before you bristle, ladies, remember that a man is biologically created to be a hero. Even Disney knows this. There’s a reason Cinderella wears the glass slippers and her real man rescues her.

Real men need real women, even in the twenty-first century.

Before you go haywire on me with all kinds of hormonal reactions, may I remind you that I write this as a single woman making my own way in the world?

I know how to start, own, and grow a business, hire employees, and manage a thriving company.

I know how to pay my bills, do my own yard work, use a weed trimmer, fill the lawn mower with gas, and check the tank for oil.

I know how to use a chain saw and I’ve spent hours cutting up fire wood with my children.

I can manage my website and work with people from one end of the spectrum to the other.

But, I’m still fully woman and it’s totally okay to have a man get that crawling whatever out of the bathtub while I stand there shaking.

We have nothing to prove, but everything to be.

Do what you need to do in life, but nurture those around you, bring beauty to every place you go, and find full satisfaction in being a woman. Appreciate and acknowledge what men do and are for you. Only an insecure woman has something else to prove.

You are so needed. Not half of you, but all of you.

Let every real man keep right on opening doors for women, and let every real woman thank him with a smile.

The attributes we do not possess are meant to be fully met in the other. Goodness calls to goodness as we both live fully in this world.

Single women, this is for you, too. You are every bit as much of a woman, and the world needs you. Remember to stay kind and bring both internal and external beauty to those around you.

Way of a Woman, Part 111

KNOWING OUR WORTH, Guest post by Kate Kenaston

So if every boy is born with a question, what questions is a girl born with? Some people say, “Am I beautiful?”

I disagree.

I believe it’s, “Am I accepted?”

When God went to form Eve, He could have used dirt just like man. But he chose to instead open Adam’s side and remove a rib. Adam was human.

There was blood and sacrifice involved.

Eve lived because Adam sacrificed his body.

When she was brought to Adam, the man verbally proclaimed her identity over her. His approval was not based on how well she performed her role. At that moment she had not done anything.

He approved of her, because she was HIS. She was taken out of him…and the man celebrated his sacrifice.

When Jesus came to earth, He left His acknowledged identity. He left His honor, His comforts, His dignity and His preferences. Laying down his life was much more than the cross. And when His life culminated on Golgotha and He died on the cross, His side was pierced and out flowed both blood and water.

His side was opened.

There was blood and sacrifice involved.

The church lives because Jesus sacrificed His body.

And Jesus verbally proclaims her identity. His approval is not based on how well she performs her role. We are approved of before we have done anything. He approves of us because we are HIS. We live because of Him and Jesus CELEBRATES His sacrifice.

There is a REASON for everything God says and does.

Women were created to be a physical representation of the church.

  • We are worth sacrifice.
  • We are valuable.
  • We are vital.

We desire to be loved, approved of, accepted, chosen and seen as blameless in our husband’s eyes, even IN our unacceptable state, because that is how Jesus sees His church. Innately we desire what we were created to receive.

And THAT is why men are called to love their wives as Christ loved the church.

He chooses her above his own reputation, comfort, conveniences and preferences. Put that with a woman who gives back to him all the honor, respect and admiration she can muster …you have something unstoppable.

You see, what most men don’t realize is when they truly forsake all others and cleave only to his wife and LAY DOWN THEIR LIVES, the honor, respect and submission they crave will be a spontaneous outflow of gratitude. Just like the church’s worship, respect, love, praise and celebration and the church’s spontaneous overflow to JESUS for what He has done.

Satan’s goal isn’t only to keep men isolated.

He is also out to keep women from feeling loved, because he knows that if he can keep us from feeling loved, we will have a hard time to truly honor.

There are many men who refuse to forsake all. Instead they cling to their identities, reputations and entitlements. If Jesus had done that, there would be no church.

But I don’t believe fulfilling our role depends on the other’s performance.

We have no excuses. And we will get into that later on.

We need to understand GRACE.

You love him with his imperfections, just as Jesus loves YOU.

John 15:12 “This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.”

In order to GIVE this kind of GRACE, we have got to have experienced it ourselves. We cannot give what we do not have.

We have got to understand the grace God pours out on the church. We have got to be able to see ourselves in God’s eyes. Our identity has got to come from GOD…not our husband.

When our HEARTS are turned towards the FATHER, no matter what our actions are, He loves and accepts us. He accepts us when we are unacceptable, because our position is TOWARDS HIM.

It’s when we turn our back to Him, no longer willing to receive HIS input into our lives, that creates the void between us. And I believe that is what sinning against the Holy Spirit really means. It’s repeatedly choosing to block out His voice and refusing to listen. It’s hardening your heart. God doesn’t turn His face away. WE are the ones who turn.

Grace is being accepted when we are not acceptable.

It is trusting the identity that JESUS spoke over your life. That never fluctuates by your performance. The approval of God on your life is not dependent on the approval of your husband.

And when we can live in unshaken grace, we can extend unshaken grace.

You cannot extend what you don’t possess.

Pt. V: LIVING OUT EZER

Every military establishes a strategy BEFORE the conflict.

OUR STRATEGY: RESPECT & HONOR

Matthew 10:16 “Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves.

Let’s back up and review.

  • God believes in male and female equality (Gal 3:28 There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.)
  • God strategized, by establishing order and divvying out strengths/weaknesses.
  • We are not to look at our roles as “greater and lesser”. Jesus is “under” God, but we all know He isn’t lesser.
  • Women are a physical representation of the Bride of Christ and we relate to our husbands the way the church relates to Jesus.
  • every boy is born with a question: “Do I have what it takes?”

We know Satan wants to answer this question. His agenda is to prove to the man that he is as insignificant and incapable as his deepest fear whispers he might be.

Respect isn’t something we do because it’s the “right” thing to do. Remember, God doesn’t get bright ideas just for the thing of it. He does everything with a purpose. Showing respect is for a certain RESULT. It’s to accomplish something.

Have you ever asked the question, “Why should I honor, respect and submit?”

Unlike many authorities, God is never threatened by our questions. Acts 17:11 Paul commends the Bereans for questioning and studying. His reasons are big enough for questions.

Ephesians 5:22-33 ESV

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

To understand the meaning of a word, we need to back up and look at two things.

  • The etymology (original definition) of a word
  • And the context

So let’s do that here.

The Greek word “submit.” hupo-tasso-mai

The Greek word “submit” is a combination of a verb with a prefix. The verb “tasso” could be translated as “set, arrange, order.” What we miss right away in English is that this verb was a military term for arranging soldiers in ordered formation to confront an enemy. It was primarily military language for “designating, commissioning, appointing or deploying. Or “assign, appoint, arrange.” The ending of the word tells us we’re in the passive/middle voice.

Literally, we could read the verse, “deploy yourself under”.

Now we could read the verb as it appears in Ephesians 5:22 as “place yourselves under your husband” and you might be technically correct, and then you might look, as past translators have, for something like “be subject to” in order to render the verse in better, quicker English.

But…you lose the military context of hupotassomai, which is about forming up for battle and about deploying or stationing yourself to support.

Should we even be surprised? If God chose the military word Ezer to define woman’s role, doesn’t it make sense that He would chose another military term when assigning her the strategy?

What we are talking about is not an ancient Greek word for abstract obedience, but a concrete metaphor of military support!

Context of its use:

This translated word, “submit/deploy” is embedded within a passage that provides an extended military metaphor.

Eph 1, God’s power and plan:

  • 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,. (He just gave us the end goal.)
  • We celebrate the fact that we are adopted into God’s own family.
  • Vs 9 “God has now revealed to us his mysterious will regarding Christ–which is to fulfill his own good plan. And this is the plan: At the right time He will bring everything together under the authority of Christ.”

This is why He does the things He does. Think of this next part as his strategy, equipping us so we can help him accomplish this. This is going through Ephesians and giving a basic overview of subjects covered.

  • We are reminded how we are made alive again.
  • Importance of peace and unity among believers.
  • Explains how we are a temple of God.
  • The giftings to each believer. Your giftings are to forward the Kingdom of God, NOT to make you feel good about yourself.
  • Living as Children of light in a practical way.
  • Living by the Spirit’s power
  • Chap 5 Spirit-guided relationships Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (He talks about how we should walk as children o light…and then goes on to specific instructions to relationship: wives, hubands, children, servants…)

And THEN it goes into:

  • Putting on the Whole Armor of God

At the time, these letters were being written to challenge hierarchy, not support it.

Numerous times Paul talks about how men and women are “one body, fellow heirs, and husbands to love their wives as their own body.”

1 Cor 11:11-12 But among the Lord’s people, women are not independent of men, and men are not independent of women. For although the first woman came from man, every other man was born from a woman, and everything comes from God.

Lots of women cringe a little bit when reading 1 Cor 11. But I’m pretty confident that in Paul’s day, it was the MEN who were doing the cringing.

Eph 6:10-18 (Read this with your relationship with your husband in mind.)

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.”

Now, I want to explore the meaning of the word, “head” used in Ephesians. I believe in God’s order of authority. We see that authority order lived out in Father God-Jesus-Church. Take a moment and dwell on how that order is lived out. I know a lot of us have experienced negative church experiences, where we haven’t experienced the Church living as a beloved Bride. But she is. And as we go into this, let’s mirror the God-Jesus-Church order and line it up with God (3-in-one)-man-woman order.

FATHER GOD-JESUS-CHURCH

GOD (3 in 1) – MAN – WOMAN

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.”

  • The meaning of the world translated as “head.”

The Greek word used here has two meanings. “Head” and “Origin.”

A “source. Like the head of a spring or a head of a river. ”

We don’t respect or submit because the man has better ideas. We don’t respect and submit to him because he is always right. We don’t respect or submit because it’s wrong to disagree.

And let’s think again. WHY does the church submit?

If we need to submit like that, we need to understand this.

It’s not to gain approval–we are approved of because of what JESUS did for us…not our own works. It comes from a genuine feeling of THANKFULNESS that spontaneously outflows. And that is how it should be in submitting to our husbands.

We respect him because we are accomplishing a goal.

We are strategizing WITH GOD.

We have a point to prove.

We have a question to answer.

We have a man to help.

And we are given the tools to accomplish that.

And this leads into something else. This is why I don’t believe in excuses. We aren’t victims–even if you find it impossible to submit with the same attitude that the church does. Remember that God is using military language, and war is never easy.


1 Peter 3:1-22

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.

1 Timothy 2:11-12 Women should learn quietly and submissively. I do not let women teach men or have authority over them.

WHY? God did not intend these verses to be a three point plan on how to have the least conflict in marriage. He’s not afraid of conflict. God actually values tension.

I want you to remember that you are strategizing with God. Remember, God is the one who created man….and He knows how to teach you the language of a man’s heart.

And it goes right back to the question haunting your man’s every day. “Do I have what it takes?” To a man respect, honor and submission means, “I value you. You got what it takes. Your mistakes do not change the way I perceive you and YOU are more important to me than being right.”

It allows him to put his guard down, as he has nothing to prove.

It creates a safe space.

It opens his ears so he will listen to you.

It gives us a platform to speak into his life.

It is so much BIGGER than just doing what he says.

Like everything else, it’s your heart and what motivates you.

There are a lot of women going about the motions of respect and submission. They never dispute or challenge. They agree and comply. But all these motions are just for “doings sake.”

The purpose is forgotten, and just like a church loses life when religion sets in, so honor loses its power when it is no longer done on purpose.

2 Timothy 3:5 Having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

The goal is not to “do the right thing.” We need to know what we are doing. WE need to be aware and active. We women have the Spirit of God inside us. We host power in that Spirit. And with the power invested in us, we can come against the devil and his agendas.

There is devastating damage when a church embraces religion. When the outward actions are put before the inward heart. When DOING is more important than BEING.

And God created us to exemplify the church.

Remember the ditch of Deadly Compliance? That passive control? Putting on a form of godliness for our OWN benefit. So we can feel good about ourselves. There are many women who submit just like that. To feel good about themselves. And it destroys their home, their husband, their children and their own lives.

Proverbs 31:10-12 Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is more precious than rubies. Her husband can trust her,and she will greatly enrich his life. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.

We often think of finances when we talk about your husband trusting us. But can you prove to him that he can trust you with his failures, or does he always have to prove to you that he was right? Can he trust you with the painful parts of his past, or is he afraid that you will think less of him? Do you know RIGHT NOW what his present struggles are? Does he know you are co-laborers TOGETHER, with Christ, or does he feel like he is slogging up the path by himself?

So we build trust and believe in him.

We create safe spaces.

We have patience.

We do not fight for a place. We PREPARE a place.

Now some people stop at honor and respect, but Ezer isn’t just about making a man feel like he is capable of going out to battle, it’s about being willing to go out with him and fighting FOR him.

DOING BATTLE:

1 Corinthians 7:13 “If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he is consent to live with her, she should not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband.”

I know. Most of us are married to really decent guys who love God and go to church.

And as women, we desire the approval and acceptance of our spouse more than anything. And what holds us back the most from being Ezer is fear. Fear of criticism, fear of rejection, fear of conflict. Fear of vulnerability. Exactly what Sapphira was afraid of.

Do you remember what Peter said about Sarah?

We are her daughters if we aren’t afraid.

If your actions are motivated by fear, they are the wrong actions.

So what do we do?

  1. Stop and renounce fear. Refuse to participate.

Fear will not only affect any decision you make, but it will make your husband react as well. When a woman is afraid it makes a man go on the defensive. He will feel like you don’t trust him and he will tend to want to control or else he will give up and stop trying. Neither stance is the response needed for healing.

When you allow yourself to see what is really going on, If all you can do is stand against fear, know that that in itself does a lot. There is power in recognizing a hurt area in your husband’s life, seeing for what it is, and standing against fear in your heart.

Why? Because standing against fear takes the power of God. You engage the darkness with light. You are willing to accept the tension it brings. And what is the opposite of fear? Yes, it’s faith. Faith, knowing that God is there. It’s not you and your words and your suggestions. Standing there, allowing yourself to see what is going on, and standing silently in faith before the Throne of God. Your husband doesn’t even have to know you are doing it. He’s feeling your love and respect. He is aware of your honor. Your presence means safety and warmth.

PRAYER IS WARFARE!

2 Corinthians 10:4 “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.”

Luke 10:19 “Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.”

Matthew 18:18 “Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

We do not have authority over the man, but we definitely DO have authority over the spirit world!

Using your authority:

First we need to understand where it comes from.

Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore….”

God himself is the power behind our authority!

We need to understand it belongs to us.

The Bible says that you are the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27). Jesus is the Head, we are the Body — and His authority is perpetuated through the Body. When Jesus rose from the dead, He transferred His authority on earth to His Body, the Church. In God’s mind, when Christ was raised, we were raised.

Ephesians 2:6 “ the God raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.”

Both the Head and the Body are seated there, next to God, in the place of power and authority.

That means YOU are seated there! You are seated in the power position, and you are His heir (Romans 8:17). That means that everything that’s His — including His authority — now belongs to you.

Using it:

You have got to understand your true position of power in order to use it. Remember the verse that I read “Having a form of godliness but denying the power”? Meditate on your position in Christ until you fully grasp the revelation that you are seated with Him, and YOU ARE the one He moves through.

Then use your authority by speaking out what His Word says, using the Name of Jesus.

Think about that! When you use the Name of Jesus, believing that you’re seated with Him at the right hand of God, you are backed by all the power in heaven! Every knee must bow to that Name (Philippians 2:10).

Jesus made it very clear that His Name is the key to all authority:

“Whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it” (John 13:13-14).

How does this work out?

You know your husband’s weaknesses as well as satan does.

You can identify the vulnerable areas and approach the areas satan is destroying in your husband’s life and come against them in Jesus’ name.

If it’s a relationship with a child, you can pray over that area. Even while an encounter is going on, you can pray against satan’s agendas. You can barr him from entering into the relationship.

You can pray that Holy Spirit will enlighten your husband to lies he believes. And you can ask Him to strategize WITH you by giving you thoughts, questions and words you can speak into his life.

All this can be (and I believe should be) done without your husband knowing it. All he is aware of right now is your honor, your trust, and a new confidence and strength that radiates out of you.

Remember, it’s not your husband you are taking authority over. It’s darkness.

SPEAK:

For some of us, this is the hardest part of all. It feels super vulnerable to allow the Spirit to flow out of us to our man. And honestly I have no formula to give you, except love.

When Holy Spirit speaks, the motivation is ALWAYS love and empowerment.

If you are not motivated by love, it’s not the Spirit of God.

And the right words spoken in the wrong spirit are NEVER right.

  • Have you ever prayed outloud over your man?
  • Have you put your hands on him and blessed him?
  • Have you looked him in the face and told him, “

Holy Spirit is in you. I believe in you. I see Jesus in you. I really love the way you related with that child. I’m so thankful for you. May your spirit rule over your mind and body today. Thank you for all your do for us.

Are you intimidated or afraid by these suggestions?

If so, I ask you why? It’s worth exploring.

And I remind you that just like Sarah, you should not allow fear in your life.

I am not sure when He will tell you speak life into the man in your life, or what words God will give you, but if you allow your heart to overflow in honor. If you stand against darkness. If you pray in the spirit. I know that in the moment you need them, God will give you in the exact moment you need them, the words he needs to hear.

So what would have happened, if Sapphira would have been willing to be Ezer?

What if she would have made herself a safe place where Ananias could have voiced his insecurities? Showing honor, voicing appreciation, refusing to cower, refusing to bow to the spirit of fear…and yet asking nudging questions, little by little to guide him into exploring the places in his heart he’s afraid to go.

And once she was a safe place and Ananias opened up, sharing his insecurities, she held his heart and PROVED her trustworthiness. What if instead a lecture or silence, she spoke words of faith and love. All bathed in respect and honor. Proving to him that he wasn’t a “lesser” man in her eyes. Proving to him that he isn’t his worst fears.

And yet, when the time came. If he still decided to go ahead and pretend religious righteousness, she could have stood for what is right. She wouldn’t have lied to Peter.

She wouldn’t have been afraid.

Believe me, you are up to this task!

God has equipped you with every skill needed to be Ezer.

  • He gave you an identity to represent in physical form the most treasured part of His life. His bride. His church.
  • He has given to physical characteristics to see past the physical day-to-day.
  • He gave you the tools and strategy you need to reach your husband’s heart.
  • He gives you grace–seeing you as accepted even when you are unacceptable.
  • He gave you all authority to resist darkness.

And He has given you the strength to see it through, because He promises that you can do ALL things through Him.

Matthew 16 the disciples start worrying if they have enough food because they forgot to bring any. Jesus reminds them of all the miracles He worked, providing for their needs.

And then in verse 13 He asked a question:

“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

I believe that we can take that verse literally.

Jesus will provide not only the daily bread you need, but He also has given you the keys. When we know who Jesus is and thus know who we are in Him, any lie, stronghold or struggle the man in your life faces, cannot withstand an Ezer. The gates of hell cannot withstand us.

“Whatever you give a woman, she will make greater. If you give her sperm, she’ll give you a baby. If you give her a house, she’ll give you a home. If you give her groceries, she’ll give you a meal. If you give her a smile, she’ll give you her heart. She multiplies and enlarges what is given to her.”― Erick S. Gray

Way of a Woman, Part II

Guest post by Kate Kenaston

Pt II: THE DEFINITION

The Hebrew word for “help suitable” is pronounced, Ezer Kenegdo

Ezer is the word God chose to use when defining woman’s role. It’s a very difficult word to translate into English, as the word “Help” has a very broad usage, everything from acting as someone’s assistant to rescuing someone. Generally ezer and related words are used in a military context where someone is actively receiving help against an enemy. When this word is read in it’s Biblical context, there is a strong sense of coming to someone’s defense. Proactively coming to help someone in their need. Some people had said that “rescue” would have been a better word, but though the context of the word is often used in rescue situations, Hebrew had a word specifically for “rescue”….and God could have used it if He had wanted to.

In the Old Testament the word Ezer is used 21 times. Only two of those times does it apply to the woman. Three of those times Ezer is used for nations to whom Israel appealed for military aid and sixteen times God uses the word Ezer to apply to Himself when God is talked about at Israel’s helper.

And because we know that God does all things perfectly, let’s explore those verses:

Ezer used for God as Israel’s helper.

““O Lord, …give (Judah) strength to defend their cause; help them against their enemies.”

‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭33:7‬ ‭ESV‬‬

““There is none like God, who rides through the heavens to your help, through the skies in his majesty.”

‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭33:26‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“May he send you help from the sanctuary and give you support from Zion!” ‭‭Psalm‬ ‭20:2‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.”

‭‭Psalm‬ ‭33:20‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“But I am poor and needy; hasten to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O Lord, do not delay!”

‭‭Psalm‬ ‭70:5‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“O Israel, trust in the Lord! He is their help and their shield.”

‭‭Psalm‬ ‭115:9‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”

‭‭Psalm‬ ‭1211-:2‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“He destroys you, O Israel, for you are against me, against your helper.” ‭‭Hosea‬ ‭13:9‬ ‭ESV‬‬

What these verses have in common is that Ezer is used consistently in military context.

The Ezer is undoubtedly a warrior.

Kenegdu. This is sort of a mix of three words. The ke part means “according to” and the negd part means “in front” or “opposite” and the u part means “of him.” If you stick these together in English and translate them literally, it doesn’t really make any sense, which is why translations vary a fair amount. The central idea seems to be that God is making someone a helper that is the “opposite of Adam” in some way. In English “opposite” sounds more negative, which is why it isn’t translated that way. This probably means that she is “opposite” like “corresponding to.” A very loose (and more interpretive) translation might read that God made Eve to be the mirror image of Adam, that they aren’t the same, they aren’t copies of each other, but they do fit each other. Expounding the idea a bit, I think it would be implying that their differences are made to be complementary. She is strong where he is weak and he is strong where she is weak, and that would be why she could be such a necessary help to him.

We’ve all heard the comparison that mens’ brains are waffles and womens are spaghetti.

Men in general like to compartmentalize things and for a woman, everything is connected to EVERYTHING!

God never does anything on a whim.

Neither is He like us and makes a decision and then has to make another to compensate for missing a vital piece of information.

That means that men, with their common thought patterns, traits, instincts and tendencies are just as they should be.

  • That means men are SUPPOSED to be less communicative than women.
  • They are naturally less emotionally driven.
  • They are driven to conquer.
  • They were created to fix things.
  • They also were created with a co-partner in mind! (That means they are SUPPOSED TO need your help at remembering and finding things. Women, don’t complain about something that is our JOB.)
  • They were made to doggedly put one foot in front of the other. Day after day, shouldering responsibility and persistently doing life.

Their life is a life of doggedly doing.That is one of their greatest strengths as well as being one of their greatest weaknesses.

And that means that women, with their common thought patterns, traits, instincts and tendencies are just as they should be.

  • That means we are suppose to need to use words.
  • We are created to be emotionally driven.
  • We were designed to desire to love and be loved.
  • We were designed to be ATMOSPHERE CREATORS.
  • It’s our job to help him find the mayonnaise, the words, and the strength to keep going.
  • We were created to have a desire to be seen and heard.
  • We were created to be valued, honored and cherished.

It is said that every man is born with a question on his tongue and it haunts him the rest of his life: “Do I have what it takes?”

Remember the “opposite, mirror image” male and females are to each other? Satan wants to answer that question, but I believe our differences were created to answer it. (And in case you are wondering, women were also created with a question…but we will get to that later.)

Instead of our differences working together, satan has everything geared towards division. Movies, media are classic for this. Emotional damage is sustained by both genders and both men and women’s coping patterns of avoidance and protection are being used to divide and isolate.

  • Women stuff their emotional tendencies and try to toughen up. They feel like they need to prove that they don’t need or desire the security a healthy man brings.
  • Men are mocked for not seeing the ketchup in the fridge and pretend they don’t care.They feel inadequate, so they have a constant sense of needing to prove something. A lot of domination we see today comes as a result of being threatened and insecure.

Now, God has a sense of humor absolutely, so while it’s okay to laugh at jokes, take a moment to search your heart. Do you secretly despise him for something he was created with?

Satan’s tactics are two-fold.

  • Keep women from recognizing what Ezer is, and by default, men are isolated.
  • And to keep people threatened, shamed and insecure to ensure that humans will try to dominate humans.

God gave man dominion over the earth and the things in it, but He never gave humans permission to control humans.

We were created to be different. We process things differently. But we are designed and equipped to fulfill our role well.

I get the mental image of two warriors trekking down a jungle trail.

The man keeps to the trail.

He goes at a steady pace.

His determination and desire to conquer keeps him focused.

He keeps his head and bearings.

He has the physical strength to overcome obstacles.

He is focused on reaching the destination.

The woman is right in step next to him.

She is intune to the surroundings.

Alert to danger, the sound of water or sensitive to approaching enemies.

She veers in and out of the jungle around them.

She is a keen strategizer.

BOTH are equipped in weaponry.

Both are secure in the other’s knowledge and skills.

Both cover for each other in an attack. They have learned to work with each other, covering for each other’s weaknesses, and trusting each other’s strengths. They aren’t threatened by the other’s gifts, instead they are thankful for them and they count on using them. There is nothing to prove. They are one unit with one mission.Because survival depends on BOTH being strong.

Now, with this in mind, let’s read over the verses where Ezer is used for the woman…

“Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” ‭‭Genesis‬ ‭2:18‬ ‭ESV‬‬

And to give a picture of what God was envisioning when He said that…

“Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord, the shield of your help, and the sword of your triumph! Your enemies shall come fawning to you, and you shall tread upon their backs.””‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭33:29‬ ‭ESV‬‬

What do people call when being attacked by a dog?

“Help!”

What about if a person is drowning?

“Help!”

At that moment, they are not asking for an indecisive person offering them tea on a tray.

They are begging for active relief and assistance!

That, my friends, is what we are.

We are “Help.”

We are the answer to that cry.

We are a partner to work as a team.

We know our spouse’s weaknesses and they know ours and we cover for eachother.

We are a co-strategizer to defeat the odds.

We are perfectly fitted together so our differences lock together to make a formidable force.

We are Ezer.

God never does something on a whim. He is intentional. There is a reason God chose the military term “ezer” instead of a cozy and comfortable word that would translate as “companion or encourager.” Lack of good company wasn’t the reason why man shouldn’t be alone.

Pt. III: WORKING IT OUT

I don’t believe that “Ezer” only applies only to married men and women. “Ezer Kenegdo” explains the reason why women are in the world. It applies to your relation to all men you come in contact with. Why? Because Jesus was single and totally and completely fulfilled His mission. It was HE that coined the phrase “life abundantly”. In Matthew 19 He gives logical reasons for remaining single. Paul defended and even encouraged singlehood.

  • Marriage is a physical representation of what Jesus did for His Church
  • Singlehood is a physical representation of Jesus WAITING for His church.

Jesus is still human, He is still single and He is still waiting.

Marriage is a lot like having kids. Complicated. Worth it? ABSOLUTELY!

But it can complicate healing in the individuals involved. Soul ties and dependence are created, and though absolutely God-ordained within the confines of marriage, satan has come in with sin and wrecked havoc. Remember that whatever God states as “good” satan singles out to destroy.

This next part may seem like I am speaking to wives, but I’m not. If you are single, listen with an open mind and evaluate what you have been taught in the past, your reactions, your preconceived notions, and your relationships with the men in your life. And who knows…you might someday need this. 🙂

Ephesians 6:12

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

2nd Corinthians 2:11

“So that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are familiar with his evil schemes.”

Whatever God wants, we know that the devil works towards the opposite end. But the cool thing is that we can recognize the devil’s tactics.

If God says, “It isn’t good for a man to be alone,” we can be assured that the devils goal is to isolate men. Like every road we have ever seen, there are two ditches. And both were created to isolate the man.

The Ditch of Feminism

Because satan plays two sides of the coin, you can be sure that he is trying to raise up controlling, domineering men. It is a definite spirit with an agenda of control in an unhealthy manner. I do believe though, that the most domineering men are the most insecure as they are trying to prove their competence by domination. But I’m not speaking to men. I’m speaking to women.

We have a job, regardless of what is going on on the other side.

But nevertheless, there is also a Spirit of Feminism. Jezebel, we sometimes call her. One of her goals is to persistently show men that they are inconsequential. Movies are classic for this. Men are portrayed as the oafs who can’t find their shoes, can’t find the mayonnaise and who can’t manage the kids. Men are no longer heroes, instead we are led to wonder how they manage without women. Again, Satan turns what was a God-ordained, intentional gift of needing women into a shame which incites a negative reaction.

“If a man can do it, women can do it too…if not better.”

When we are in this ditch, we feel like we have something to prove.

We fight for the man’s place.

We want their titles.

Their platforms.

We use our influence to silence their opinion.

We feel threatened.

We secretly despise him for who he is.

The end goal of feminism is to show men they aren’t needed. That they aren’t leaders.

It makes sure that a man knows that he is incapable, and never gives him a chance to prove otherwise.

And I ask you, is this not the very spirit that makes men want to dominate? It doesn’t matter which gender this spirit lives in, it’s wrong. What is in us that compels us to prove our worth?

When a woman allows feminism to live out of her heart, men are alone.

This ditch shouldn’t surprise us, because though feminism wasn’t created by God, it is a direct result of the fall.

“And you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you.” Genesis 3:16

So the power struggle was born.

God is holy and good. He doesn’t create evil to punish us. Yet He is omniscient, so He knows all things. And just like we know that a room gets dark when we turn off the light, He knew the result when sin entered the world, and so He did what He could. He warned us.

But it’s good for us to remember again, that Ezer was created before the fall.

Our place is not a punishment.

The Ditch of Deadly Compliance

This stance of wordless obedience is actually a form of passive control. It is intentionally blinding yourself and accepting decisions regardless of the consequences. It is exactly what Adam did to Eve. He stood with her, received the fruit and (seemingly) unquestioningly ate it. THEN, when God called him out, he did what? He blamed Eve, washing his hands of all guilt and playing the victim. And ever since then, we women like to play the same game right back.

The heart of it is so ugly. Deep down in the center of it is, “It’s his decision. If he wants to do this, the outcome is his fault.” We wash our hands and submit. And it’s so sneaky because it looks so good.

It even looks “Biblical”.

BOTH of those ditches gives the devil what he wants. Neither empower the man to fulfill his God-given role because in both of them he is isolated.

Jezebel either smashes masculine worth or incites male dominance.

Deadly Compliance never questions. It mindlessly and mechanically goes about seemingly doing the right things, but with no purpose and power.

And satan has a hayday. He can feed men lies all day long. A man can live out and rule over his family, all the while completely isolated in himself and out of line of the partnership God intended. All the while never being questioned.

And he is exactly where satan wants him.

Let’s explore a situation where a woman walked in this ditch…

Acts 5:1-2

Ananias and Sapphira

NKJV: “But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession. And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles’ feet.”

NLT: “But there was a certain man named Ananias who, with his wife, Sapphira, sold some property. He brought part of the money to the apostles, claiming it was the full amount.

With his wife’s consent, he kept the rest.

Amplified: “Now a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and with his wife’s full knowledge [and complicity] he kept back some of the proceeds, bringing only a portion of it, and set it at the apostles’ feet.”

ESV: “But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet.”

I’m going to start reading between the lines here…

We don’t know the full conversation between them, but we know that historically at this time, men didn’t normally ask for their wives opinions when conducting business matters. It’s very unlikely that Ananias would have thought to ask Sapphira’s opinion before deciding. Also take note of the word usage: “Aware of it. Consent. Full knowledge.” It’s not like the scene painted in Esther when Haman’s wife actively planned the gallows that was to hang Mordecai. It does not say, “Plan with. Decide together. Conspired to.”

Ananias made a decision and Sapphira knew what he had decided. And she chose to go along with it rather than risk conflict. She remained silent.

She wasn’t willing to be Ezer.

She left Ananias alone.

Before we are too hard on her, let’s just think for a moment. She probably also was used to not sharing opinions. Just the fact that Ananias felt like he had to pretend to gain acceptance shows that he was a deeply insecure man…and insecure men often take even suggestions as a threat, let alone an outright question. There’s a good chance he had anger issues, rejection issues or perhaps he had a silver tongue that made her feel stupid.

When Peter called her and asked her if they had sold the piece of property for the amount stated, she didn’t know her husband was dead. She couldn’t hide behind his decision and play the victim. But she stood there and was afraid. I am certain she had a flashback of what would happen if she spoke the truth and Ananais found out. So she chose her husband over what she knew was right. And she paid the price.

What should she have done? Let’s explore it.

1 Peter 3:4-6

“But let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord.

… And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.”

And this is the catch.

Women were created to want to be desirable to men.

We crave their admiration.

We crave their approval.

We crave acceptance.

We want to make them proud of us.

To stand up and speak up risks all of that.

But I believed that God instilled in us the gift of foresight and He gave it to us for a reason.

There is a REASON why “everything is connected to everything.”

We know.

We know when our husband is losing his children’s hearts.

We know when he is coping with childhood wounds.

We see when he is driven by insecurities or threatened by authority.

We can list the lies he believes.

We often understand his motives better than he does.

We see the future and where it is leading.

All these are part of our calling! We were designed to see all these things!

For many of us, the “submit and respect” commands have gone so deep we feel guilty for seeing our husbands weaknesses. .It feels easier to just ignore and agree than to engage our concerns. Or, we allow our panic to force us into nagging him prematurely.

You might see rejection ruining your husband’s relationships.

You might see how fear makes him control his family.

You might recognize how he uses humor as a protection against vulnerability.

You might recognize how hurts make him harsh with the children.

Or you may see how insecurity keeps him from living his potential.

We were created to see past the outward, and into the reason behind the action.

But so often, we are afraid.

  • We are afraid to acknowledge our husband’s weakness because we haven’t experienced healing ourselves so we aren’t sure there is healing for him.
  • We don’t know what it’s like to experience unconditional acceptance, so we don’t know how to give it.
  • We feel like recognizing his failings is somehow disrespectful.
  • We don’t trust ourselves to respond rightly to them.
  • There is hurt inside of us that will be exposed by being honest with how we feel, and so it’s easier to just ignore it than risk vulnerability.
  • We don’t know how to be okay in imperfection.
  • We aren’t patient enough to prepare a safe place.

And this is the main reason why Peter tells us, “do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.

Remember how we talked about how men’s instinctive responses are God-given? Men are destination oriented. They don’t see the mayonnaise in the fridge because their eyes were created to see the big picture. They are well aware the fridge is full…it’s the mayonnaise they can’t find.

Men don’t like being told what to do.

In a healthy man, it makes them decisive, level headed and confident.

In a healthy man, we women admire those traits. They make us feel safe and protected.

But remember, just as God created men with their characteristic tendencies,

God also created US women “Kenegdo.” We are “opposite: as pertaining to.”

EVERY strength has a weakness.

Men are do-ers. They find it easier to “do” than to analyze uncomfortable feelings.

Women tend to be feelers. We know everything has a reason behind it.

Men are leaders.

They doggedly stick to the trail.

They were created to be competent, and can be threatened by too many suggestions, because suggestions can sound like they aren’t perceived as being capable.

All these things make them the leaders God sees them to be. These characteristics are not our enemy. I find it remarkable that our perfect God is so okay with imperfection that he created human beings with strengths and thus weaknesses on PURPOSE.

So if men don’t like receiving directions, how can we help them?

Do you remember how every boy is born with an unanswered question burning on his heart.“Do I have what it takes?”

Satan’s goal is to make sure that question destroys him. And though it is said that a little boy’s father should be the one to answer that question, I believe that women’s job is to answer it again and again and again.

Respect and honor is meant to do just that.

Inside you is the map to help guide your husband into wholeness into the places in his life that he will never go on his own. Holy Spirit is there to help to navigate it–all without him knowing. This is where “respecting and submitting” comes in.

But first, we have to know a few things ourselves, because this next part is what makes respect and honor powerful….

Way of a Woman, Part 1

Guest Post By: Kate Kenaston


Pt I:  THE HELP

The sun rose.

The moon shone.

The earth revolved.

The grass grew.

Trees bore fruit.

Animals walked silently through the trees.

…and everything was good.

So God created a perfect world,  then placed two ignorant humans inside it who had the capacity to ruin everything.

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Genesis 1:27

Ephesians 1:4

“ Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes.”

Even before He first called light into being God saw His Son welcoming His bride and as He formed man and woman, all the decisions He made and pieces He put into place was to that end.

So let’s dive in…

What is it that makes us who we really are? We all know we aren’t our appearance.

If we get past our preferences, insecurities, personalities and thought patterns, we realize that the part of us that only really matters is the part of us that will live forever. 

Now, let’s read the Genesis account and take note of the nouns and pronouns.

Genesis 1:27 “God created man (singular) in his own image. 

Photo by Any Lane on Pexels.com

In the image of God He created him (singular)

male and female He created THEM. (plural)

Genesis 5:1-2 “When God created man, (singular) he made him in the likeness of God. Male and female he created them,(plural)  and he blessed them (plural) and named them Man (singular) when they were created.” 

In John 4:24 Jesus says, “God is a Spirit and those who worship Him must worship in Spirit and truth.” He made our spirit like his own. Eternal.

God created the human spirit. In His own image he made it. 

Then He created male and female bodies and put that human spirit inside. 

Matthew 22:30 “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.”

Angels are gender neutral.

Our spirits are also gender neutral.

And it’s the same Spirit in both genders.

A complete human being is made up of our spirit, soul and body. 

Our soul and body are intertwined with our gender while our spirit is not defined by it. 

Genesis 2:18, 21-25 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him….So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

 The man said,

“This is now bone of my bones

    and flesh of my flesh;

she shall be called ‘woman,’

    for she was taken out of man.”

Photo by Skylar Kang on Pexels.com

I want you to take note of how Adam spoke the woman’s identity over her as soon as he saw her.

He placed his stamp of complete approval over her life.

She was accepted.

She was his pride and joy.

  • We know that man and woman were BOTH created in the image of God.
  • Both man and woman are partakers of the same name and nature before the fall.

 The “man” made in the image of God is in Hebrew  “Ish” and “Ish-shah.” 

The word “woman” literally means “man-ess.” 

  • Both man and woman were created to rule together and have dominion over the earth. 
  • Both man and woman were blessed by God to live in partnership. There was no hierarchy in the relationship God created. Male and female completed and complemented each other perfectly.
  • Both man and woman were equally responsible and accountable to God for their deeds.
  • It is only AFTER the fall that Eve is named, and thereby the woman comes to have a separate identity from the man.

So with all that clarified, lets go back to God’s reason for creating Eve. I think it’s important to realize that she wasn’t an afterthought. God intended to create her all along–and His biggest obstacle was making man aware that he NEEDED her. God created Eve to be VALUED, and He knew Adam would never truly value her unless he experienced life WITHOUT her. I also think it’s important to realize that OUR CALLING is NOT a result of the fall. Because it was BEFORE the fall that God stated that her role was necessary.

 And so God states, “It is not good for a man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.”  

The Hebrew language specifies the woman to be a “helper corresponding/mirroring” the man.

“So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman and brought her to the man.’ Genesis 2:22 

So what is a “help suitable”?

Because in order that we fulfill our calling, we need to know what we are called to. 

(to be continued, guest post by Kate Kenaston)

Connection During Covid

I always wonder which latte to try when I walk into this sweet little place here in the south, because truth be told, I no longer laugh at coffee snobs.

I’ve kinda sorta joined them, instead. Just a little.

Today, it’s a Creme Brulee’ with my friend from back west. Seeing her is laughter, love, and goodness all wrapped up in one human package. She sings her heart out and cries over the goodness of God, makes fun of my food, prays with me, and shares wine over heart to heart talks.

For crying aloud, why did I leave so many good people to rebuild community in a brand new place?

Many of us move for various reasons, but the important thing is that we all recognize our need for community and are available to be community as well.

Check out @julieannariemusic on Instagram!

The addict on the street corner likely started using out of a soul lack for connection, first with God, then with others.

The depressed friend you have needs connection more than she needs someone to quote one more verse on joy. Connection with God, then with others.

The teen who is constantly on his phone isn’t wanting to be lethargic or lazy–he’s wanting connection, too, and doesn’t realize that his phone will drive him to loneliness and keep him from the kind of human interaction he needs most of all.

Even God has relationship. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are in constant, uninterrupted communion with each other. Even Jesus had twelve disciples with Him during His time on earth. He calls us to love each other, cover each other, and be here for each other.

Today is a new day with old problems we’ve long wished away. Covid-19 convinces people to isolate, shut down gatherings, and stay alone, more afraid of possible germs than of suicide rates that are increasing, homes that are breaking, and children who are showing up in increasing numbers with bruises covering their bodies.

Along with concern on how to handle this virus, we need to raise just as much concern on how to handle the loneliness a lockdown brings. I don’t want to hear of one more suicide, ten more addictions, or another divorce.

As Jerry Flowers says, “Don’t be so afraid of the fire that you die from the smoke.”

Friends, people are dying in increasing numbers, and not just from Covid.

I call on all of us to raise awareness on the affects of loneliness (which is one of the most unhealthy things a human can experience), and to be a cause, a channel for connection.

Who can you connect today? Who will you love today, and how will you do it practically?

Rather than saying, “Call me if you need anything”, let’s just show up at a doorstep with flowers or food. Let’s send a gift or write a note. Let’s take a friend out to coffee.

Let’s even ask God to lead us to complete strangers who may need something only God knows about. Because what if YOU could be the one to keep someone from contemplating a dark death?

If suicide rates are going up, love should be rising even higher.

If child abuse is sky rocketing (and it is), so should the amount of adults who are there for neighborhood children, children at school, and children from broken homes who want to medicate pain with more pain.

Let all of them encounter LOVE, instead.

God’s No is His Better Yes

“Would you do anything God asked you to do?” I asked a teen who happened to be at my house during Bible time.

He grinned, then joked, “I wouldn’t do anything like Abraham did because I’m not as crazy as he is.”

We all laughed, but I dared disagree with his youthful joke.

Go figure—the Father of faith obeyed when God told him to take his only son and sacrifice him on the altar. We know the full story, how God stopped him at the testing point and told him to offer a lamb, instead.

Abraham didn’t know how the end would turn out, yet he obeyed.

The entire universe grapples with God in a quest for his grace without his Lordship. Sometimes God asks hard things of us—really, really hard things—and it is entirely more convenient to do what seems fun, then beg God to help us when life gets rough.

But back to Abraham. He could only say yes to that order because He knew the character of God. Complete faith in Who God is led Abraham to complete obedience to God’s commands.

Cheap grace calls people to claim Christ verbally without a change of lifestyle. Non-Christians look on and see the mockery of it all. Satan himself looks on and laughs.

“You believe that God is one, you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?” (James 2:20, ESV)

Abraham understood that he could not claim God while refusing to obey God. The Father of faith had an understanding of real grace, that the Lord of the universe is interested in a relationship with us that changes us.

Truly walking with God means he is with you. He cannot be with you without affecting you in every possible way. You can believe He exists and claim that as your salvation, but scripture teaches that demons do the same thing.

Your kind of faith has to be an intimate relationship with His presence rather than head knowledge of His existence. The Presence changes everything.

This is not some die hard, works based religion. Never! Religion suffocates a soul, and good works will never redeem your soul. But a relationship based on trust so sweet, personal, and deep that it will permeate your soul and cause it to change because that’s the only thing the presence of Christ can do—this is the faith God is looking for.

Like a caterpillar resting in its chrysalis, your soul will merge into sanctification when it knows the presence of Jesus Christ. In Christ, you can both rest and grow. It seems contradictory, but Kingdom ways are often opposed to human reasoning.

Nothing else will ever do Christ the credit He deserves. How could we think it possible for someone to know Him without being changed by Him?

Obedience can only happen when we see that God’s no always leads to His better yes. The character of God is all goodness; therefore, He can only ask good of us.

Abraham knew, as he trudged the mountain side with his only son, that God was all goodness. Though told to offer Isaac, Abraham told Isaac that God would provide a lamb for the offering. Abraham’s faith simply knew that all would turn out well.

Still, God tested him to the point of a drawn blade raised over his son’s heart. Abraham was still pushing through in obedience when the Spirit of God said, “Enough.”

In your situation, God knows exactly when to say, “Enough.” You can trust Him to come through with a better yes.

God was not depriving Abraham of his only son; He was inviting him to be the father of many nations through faith.

See this again—God’s no is never deprivation, but always an invitation to a better yes.

Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness, and he was called a friend of God.” (James 2: 23, ESV)

Why 2020 was a Great Year/Mourning and Joy, Part 2

While I’m wrapping gifts this morning in my pajamas, grateful for a day off work, I’m remembering a lot about this crazy year.

Many people think of 2020 as a horrible year—and while I agree that it was difficult, I also have to say it was one of the best years of my life.

“Peace on earth, and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled.”

I got to watch God do a lot this year.

2020 had my children and I leaving our home, friends, church, schools, and community for a place we’d never lived before, all the way on the east coast. But it also had us getting to know new friends, find a beautiful church, and see God provide for a good school.

2020 had me as a single mom without a job. But it also showed me how God could help me build a growing business, learn about marketing, and hire employees to help me accomplish more than one person can do.

2020 had Covid-19 hit the country soon after we moved. But it also had me even more grateful for the continuing health of my children.

2020 spun us into loneliness as the virus hit hard. But it also taught us endurance, that better days come, and that, if we’re patient, life brings the people and places we need.

2020 had me unsure of how to manage a growing business. But it also showed me (again) that I could trust God for all my needs as He let me meet a girl at my favorite coffee shop who needed a job and ended up being a fantastic employee.

2020 brought opportunity for my children to learn that they are not victims; they are responsible for all life choices—and what they choose really matters. I got to watch them struggle, then do massive turn arounds for the better. I got to watch life lessons go deep—really, really deep.

2020 brought opportunity for my children not to compare with others, but to get to work to build the life they want.

I could go on about all that God has brought us through. What I want us to see is that there will always be trials and God doesn’t always remove them. Sometimes they even get worse. People die, people betray you, Covid hits hard—but just as light always dispels darkness, so God’s goodness is much more powerful than anything bad that can happen in this world.

When we open our hearts to receive eternal Goodness, no earthly evil (or the affects of it) have actual power over us. Difficult circumstances will bring us to tears but they will not bring us to despair.

Supernatural joy is a free gift and is very different than circumstantial happiness. One is contingent on everything going “right”; the other is a constant gift from the God of heaven even when things don’t go right.

Remember that sorrow is not in opposition to joy. Rather, God gives peace and supernatural joy in the midst of sorrow. Sorrow is nothing to be afraid of—Jesus Himself was called “ a man of Sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” (Isaiah 53:3)

When you know the God of heaven, He will deliver you from hopelessness and despair. He will lift you up and allow you to grow from things that would otherwise damage you permanently.

He is God.

He rules and reigns. Because of Jesus, love, joy, and peace reign over despair, hopelessness, and pain.

Someday, all sin and the affects of it will be overtaken with the glorious return of our risen Savior, Who first came to this earth as a babe, born in the manger in Bethlehem. He who was God came to be human so we could learn from Him how to navigate life.

2020 may have been a season of mourning for many of us, but if we keep our eyes on Jesus, 2020 can lead us deeper into a life of joy.

For the Christ of Christmas,

Sara

How a Season of Mourning Can Lead to a Life of Joy (Part 1)

Most people naturally shy away from pain and gravitate towards happiness.

No baby is born into this world asking for grief. What child doesn’t hope for the best and happiest life? And what little girl doesn’t long for Cinderella’s glass slippers leading her to the Prince of her future?

We watch Hallmark movies because we long for relationship.

We eat chocolate because our taste buds crave tasty.

White Chocolate Cranberry Bliss bars

We like hanging out with kind people because our hearts were designed to receive love.

We were created in the image of God with a high capacity for the things of God. Love, joy, and peace are meant to be central to our lives and when the opposite hits hard, we cringe.

Some fight, some take flight. Which one are you?

I have to admit that most of the time, I’m in the flight category. People who love to argue will be frustrated with me because I hate fighting and often walk away if I feel one pending. Those who love to control every detail of life might be dumbfounded that I simply don’t care about getting my way in every single thing.

I’d rather have peace than have it my way. This can be good but it can also be dangerous, and in the life I’ve had to live, I’ve learned to pick up my sword and wield it carefully when needed.

Whether you naturally attack the grief/pain in your life with anger and lashing back to fight for what you crave, or whether you run into internal oblivion too afraid to move, our negative responses to pain show that we were created for something better.

A human created in the image of God for the glory of God is of necessity born with the need to receive things that line up with the heart of God.

A baby develops better when held and snuggled lots.

By nature, women respond to love and tenderness.

Men naturally gravitate toward those who call out the manhood in them.

But the question remains: How to respond when we get the opposite of what we were created for?

I know what it’s like to put reality to the back of my mind so I could try to function in the reality I wished I had.

I know what it’s like for something so troubling to happen that the only way forward was to go into denial.

I know what it’s like to reach out for help, but feel false quilt while doing so.

See this—hitting denial mode on pain only prolongs the effects of it. Like a poisonous labyrinth, denial mode causes the branches of pain to spread. When you shut up something that exists in an effort to create something that doesn’t exist, you shoot ugly streams of poison into many areas of your life.

Many times the church is great at spiritualizing pain by calling people to “rise above it” and “find peace”. It often pushes people into denial and a false sense “happiness” which can cause unreleased emotions to surface many years later.

Christian friends, you don’t need to tack God onto every explanation of your feelings. “This is hard but God is with me” while tacking on a (fake) brave smile.

How about honestly saying, “This is so hard I don’t have energy for anything but just to make it through. Thanks for being here for me.”

And for those who use the flight mechanism, consider that staying quiet so you don’t ruin someone’s reputation can cause your own soul so much unrest that your life becomes marked with internal anxiety and depression. Please know that God cares more about your healing than He does about anyone’s reputation.

Reach out to others for help and council even if (and especially when), the one hurting you doesn’t want to be exposed. The latter fact alone should cause you to run for help. You are not meant to walk alone.

The only way to handle grief is to face it head on. Whether this is the death of a loved one or the knowledge of a cheating spouse, owning up to your painful reality will help you navigate it in the best possible way.

This will look differently for different people because there is no stream-lined way through grief and there is no certain finish line.

Say it to yourself, “My spouse cheated on me and I feel like I’m going to DIE.”

Or, “My brother passed away and I feel like I’m not going to survive unless we find his body in the lake.”

Give yourself permission to grieve. If you need to crawl into bed for the day, just get right in there and pull the covers up over your face.

If you need a movie to distract your mind, watch your favorite show for awhile.

And if chocolate comforts you, eat away at it and chuck that raw broccoli for a few days.

If you’re too tired to pray, simply know that at that very moment the Spirit Himself is praying to the Father for you. You are not forgotten by an all-knowing God simply because you have no words to utter. Know this—the throne room specializes with needs too great for you to handle.

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” (Romans 8:26&27, ESV)

By allowing yourself to consume your grief, you will rise above it before it consumes you. Sooner or later God will reach down and begin to walk you toward healing. Bit by bit, if you know and love Jesus Christ, you will see the sun shine again.

“The Son of Man will rise with healing in His wings.”

The most exquisite glories of the mountain top can only be experienced if you first walk the valley of grief.

Denial mode takes you to an alternate route into a barren dessert where you function as a robot because you never embraced your humanity.

Photo by Julia Volk on Pexels.com

Jesus wept first, then he rose Lazarus from the dead.

Supernatural strength is most realized by those who face catastrophic dilemmas beyond their control.

Today, if you’re faced with a trial too great to handle, look up into the face of Jesus as you walk the valley of pain. Ask Jesus to go with you, and He will. Every step of the way, He will comfort your soul as you whisper to Him of your need.

Your soul is not meant to have sadness as a permanent companion. But that’s a story to write for another time—for now, embrace your pain with the end goal of being delivered from the grip of it.

In 2020, hope is still rising for every soul!

All is grace.

Love from my bone marrow into yours,

Sara

Why I Can’t be Silent

An almost other-worldly shroud hovered over the room as the lifeless form of a baby girl lay on a table surrounded with monks and the eyes of a little boy stood dazed in shock of what he saw and experienced.

It was evil to its core. But the irony of it all was clear—these monks didn’t begin their journey with the intent to turn into debauched human beings; they thought they had embarked on a journey of holiness.

The vibe in that room many years ago was anything but holy. In it’s place was silence in the name of holiness.

Today I’m aware that millions of conservative Christians are silent on voting day. But it’s not just christians on voting day—somehow, silence has been the go-to answer for far too many.

I receive messages from women suffering under abuse, wondering if they should be silent or if they should speak up. Some of them are afraid of displeasing their husbands by reaching out for help. Some are afraid they “haven’t forgiven” if they speak up.

Some of them pose opinions as questions because they will be perceived as dishonoring if they share a strong opinion.

You’d think silence by those two parties are very different things, but they have similarities. Christians aren’t voting because they believe in “separation of church and state”. The result is that the unborn have less voices to speak for them, that freedom of religion is more liable to be taken from us, and we are less likely to be able to put our children into schools of our own choice (schools where they can actually pray and be taught Christian ethics).

Women aren’t speaking up because they believe in “submission and honor”. The result is weighed down, suppressed women who survive marriage rather than thrive in it. The result is a woman who is more difficult to connect with because she has forced herself to be out of connection with her own heart (and with God’s heart), all in the name of holiness.

And monks are remaining unmarried because they believe in “holy celibacy”. Silent about their true needs, they become full of desperate need. The result is a room full of debauched men who are so intent on living a “holy” life style in opposition to all human desire that they end up in a realm of evil few of us can comprehend (ask Bobby Eaton, and read his book here).https://www.amazon.com/Boy-Window-Mennonite-Memoir-ebook/dp/B0868BVTS9/ref=sr_1_1?crid=9RIMIZHM77C4&dchild=1&keywords=bobby+eaton&qid=1604422880&sprefix=bobby+eaton%2Caps%2C171&sr=8-1

Anytime you shut up voices of truth you open up doorways of darkness.

Satan comes as an angel of light to silence voices of life.

The teaching of “life” I was promised if I “submitted to” my ex-husband was so opposed to true honor that it brought death. Had I known the truth I would have been unafraid to reach out for help much sooner than I did. I would have protected my mind and soul from despair and mental apathy.

Women have a voice to use. So does the church.

Teaching Christians that it takes silence on voting day to separate church and state doesn’t actually separate the church from the state; rather, it invites the state right into the church to control and inhibit it from all it should be. You may not want to be a politician but you do have a voice for the unborn and future generations.

We all need to ponder HOW we speak more than IF we speak.

Did you know you can speak to an opposing party with as much honor and dignity as you speak with a friend?

Women, did you know you can speak up about the wrong in your marriage with both strength and grace? That God wants you to use your voice because He loves you and hates what’s going on inside the walls of your home? That using your voice doesn’t have to mean losing your femininity?

Silence on election day doesn’t keep the church out of the state; it invites the state right into the church.

Silence in your marriage (when you really need to speak) doesn’t maintain “submission”; it strips you of real honor.

We may not be extreme like the monks mentioned in the above page, but I ask all of us:

“Why are we silent, and how have we perverted God’s original intentions for holiness into something that breeds the opposite?”

How I Found Wholeness in the Breaking of Divorce

Divorce is an epidemic in our twenty-first century culture.

I remember my children being in public school and realizing that most of their friends no longer had both sets of parents in the house. It blew me away.

Divorce was not a word in my vocabulary. When my marriage hit the rocks, I refused to sign the papers he wanted because I knew divorce was not the answer. When reality forced me to agree with the divorce and even to want it (because of his teen-aged girlfriend living in our house with him),I knew I no longer lived in the world I wanted to live in. I had joined the club.

A few years earlier, my heart had fallen to my toes when I greeted him at the door with a smile, looked down, and saw books in his bag on how to do divorce well. Then and there, my world was never the same.

He wanted to be friends and have a friendly divorce. But to me, there was nothing friendly about divorce and betrayal.

That was almost three years ago and our divorce is just now being finalized.

I had to see the girl a few weeks ago, had to be in the same court room as my now ex-husband and I sat for trial over things we never should have needed to decide.

Then, it was over. I joined my friends for brunch, started crying, and couldn’t stop for a few days. Every ounce of strength I had gathered for the past three years flew out the window and I cried ugly in my father’s arms.

I’m a single woman. Not just a single woman, but a christian single woman intent on staying faithful to the God I know, intent on finding out more of His true heart for women, and determined to continue healing.

Many years ago when the first huge ugly in my marriage started rocking my inner world, God taught me that He not only came for the sin of this world, He also came for the pain of this world. I found Him in ways I had only heard of before.

I found Him greater, stronger, and more powerful than what was rocking my boat.

If Jesus Christ died to SAVE, that not only means my sins are forgiven; it also means that sins committed against me are forgiven and have no real power over me.

If Jesus Christ is the Giver of Life, that means nothing deadly on this passing earth can take eternal life out of me.

And if He cares for me as He says He does, that means the past three years of tears will be redeemed because He weeps with me, then offers life to me.

I can sink or swim. I happen to believe that we were not meant to go down in the storm, we were meant to ride the waves.

It sounds cliche`. The honest truth is that riding waves often looks like swimming in tears.

Let the tears roll. They will purify your soul and cleanse you from pain so you can be washed in life. Let them roll for three years, if need be.

Jesus weeps with you but He doesn’t merely commiserate with you; in the end, He liberates you.

I want to walk with you, not ahead of you or behind you, but beside you. I want us to be community and that means sharing the good, bad, and ugly for each other and with each other.

We are human and life is real.

But God is also God and He is eternally alive. He is Victor over all, through all, and in all. Allow Him to walk with you, then lead you.

Beauty for ashes may not mean your circumstance becomes beautiful, but it does mean your soul will merge into beauty in ways you’ve never known before.

Your pain has led you to glory because even though pain speaks, it cannot have the final say.

Friends, don’t be afraid of the thing you don’t know how to survive. Just make one good choice after another even when you don’t know which is the best one. Trust God to make up for your mistakes as you do the best you know and ask Him to lead you. I promise, He will.

My heart is healing from the inside out. I trust yours will, too. And in the process, I am here for you.

All is grace.

Love, Sara