Wednesday, October 15, 2014

International Day of the Girl Child

Kev and I had an amazing weekend in Maryland with Grace Community Church Young Adults—seeing so many men and women stand and declare their freedom in shame from Christ—I can’t even begin to express my gratitude to God. His presence was powerful. Thank you so much for praying.  

I’ll be out of touch for a bit as I'm sprinting to my book deadline…but I wanted to leave you with this speech by our dear friend, Lawrence Temfwe, director of Jubilee Centre, Zambia. 

Kevin and I spent about a year in Zambia, Africa with Jubilee Centre and the Temfwes. We love the country dearly. Last weekend was “International Day of the Girl Child” because, yes, boy children are still favored in that nation, as in many nations. 

Pastor Lawrence delivered the following speech on the Day…and I thought it might encourage you. 

Many girls, across the globe, still live under shame…keep praying…keep fighting…keep living shamelessly.

Talk to you in November!   
photo by Megan Cody

Go Girl Child

“As we celebrate the International Day of Girl Child I would like to remind you that October 11 is not just a day; it’s a movement. The Day of the Girl is bigger than one issue and even the day itself. 

The day gives us an opportunity to reflect on what we are doing to fully achieve gender equality everywhere. Today ought to be a time of celebration because the Girl Child is living her life to the full (John 10:10). Today we must celebrate that we rescued girls from early marriages; thank families that have come forward to provide shelter for the orphaned girls; recognize individuals that are paying school fees for the vulnerable girl child. Today we should be talking about the importance of foster parenting and adoption systems. Can we really say we are improving the living standard of the girl child?

Also, let us remind ourselves that in few days our country will be commemorating 50 years of independence. It is important for you girls to understand the sacrifices made by our leaders to free us from the slavery of the British rule and that of Arabs and Portuguese. Missionary, David Livingstone the first white person to open our country to the colonialist went as far as saying that Africans, ‘would only be persuaded to accept the Christian gospel if their social conditions were improved.’

Remember this Girl Child—the entrance of the gospel and the end of the Arab-Portuguese slave trade were the major objectives that sprang from the missionaries’ Christian faith. Our chiefs did not want our people to be sold into slavery. Out of fear they sought British protection with the help of missionaries. In this agreement the colonialists also got most of our land that was fertile, mining rights, governing rights and taxes and other privileges.

Sadly though, some missionaries actively participated in the political, economic, cultural and mental exploitation of the African people. As Africans Christians who were at missions stations become more politically conscious they found themselves confronting the combination of government and missionary power. Christianity and faith was the driving force in making Zambia, shaping its destiny as a beacon of peace and friendliness to the world. Girl Child— you are the reason why our forefathers fought for independence.

Lastly, United Nations started this annual event because it saw that in many cultures the Girl Child is undervalued. I am here to tell you that God values the girl child as much as boys, women and men. I am here to tell you that before God instituted marriage, He created a girl child and boy child in His image and told both of them to subdue the earth.
Girl Child, I am here to tell you that God has blessed you with leadership gifts to help make this world better. You’re creative, you’re clever, and you’re courageous. You must never wait for life to get easier, but you must stir yourself up with that brave spirit in you and face the challenges ahead of you. 
Listen to what Malala, a Pakistan girl, said at the UN after overcoming the challenges of a system that did not want her to go to school: 
‘The terrorists thought that they would change our aims and stop our ambitions but nothing changed in my life except this: Weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born.’ 
Go Girl Child! The Lord your God is with you. He will never leave you alone or forsake you.
Girl Child, may power and courage be born in your life today. Amen and Amen.”
Speech by Lawrence Temfwe at the Commemoration of the UN International Day of Girl at Christian Bible Church Ndola 11 October 2014

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Refuse to Do Nothing, a FREE Bible Study Resource

Just wanted to point your lovely faces to a lovely resource from IVP this week-- you can download a free bible study on fighting against injustice--and learn how to become a modern day abolitionist-- written by my dear friend, Catherine McNiel

A companion piece to the book Refuse to Do Nothing, by Shayne Moore and Kimberly McOwen Kim, here's what Catherine writes in the intro:

"How do you think of Christianity? Do you think of it as an individual gift for you--bought by Jesus, given by God--of divine blessing and eternal life? Or do you think of it as the long process of Christ's body bringing his kingdom, justice, and righteousness to earth? The truth is that Christianity is both these things--requiring and offering new life to our individual spirits as well as our communities. As followers of Christ, we have no choice but to harness the life-changing power of his love and forgiveness, letting it empower us with courage to confront injustice and build God's kingdom." 

So, along with Catherine, consider confronting injustice and fighting against shame this week by downloading this free resource. 

In other news, I'm gearing up to head to Maryland to be the keynote speaker at Grace Community Church's young adult retreat, on the topic of overcoming shame. I'd value your prayers as I finalize my preparations, and even more so, for the hearts of the attenders--that God would move powerfully in their lives. 

I can't wait to update you. 

May you live shamelessly this week!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

10 Things Every Wife Wants to Hear From Her Husband

My friend Kenny, author of Redefined, sent me and Kev a link to this article at Belief Net:
10 Things Every Husband Wants to Hear.

I'm not sure if any of the words from the article would actually come out of my mouth (at least how they're written in the article. It uses some strange verbage.) However, it was a great reminder; hubby's love to feel respected by their wives. (They also love being called "hubby," in case you were wondering.) Check out the article and consider verbalizing some respect to your man, in your own words, of course.

In response, some girlfriends and I came up with our own list.

Here are 10 Things Every Wife Wants To Hear From Her Husband:

(And just so I don't get in trouble later, you can all tell Kevin I made the following statement:
"My husband is the model of perfection in all of these, except probably number four,
because he's well...a guy...and he's terrible at back massages, which he knows. Could someone out there teach the guy how to give a decent back massage already?!")

10.  You look so beautiful/great/pretty/etc. Husbands, we wives want to know you think we've still got it after all these years--especially on the days we work hard to get ourselves dressed. ('Cause we all know it doesn't come as naturally as it used to.)

9. Thanks so much for ________. Husbands, fill in the blank with something mundane. Wives want you to verbalize your appreciation for the little things they do -- like the laundry being done, the dinner being cooked, the library books being returned on time.

8. I love this specific and unique thing about you. Again, you need to fill this out with something unique and specific you see in your wife. Is she a wonderful singer? Gifted at organization? A good listener? An armchair theologian? Let her know you admire that in her. Women want to be seen and known by their men.

7. I planned a date night (and I hired a sitter!) You'll earn some major bonus points because you: A) want to take your wife out for a one-on-one adult date; and B) actually thought about it in advance and took the initiative/leadership to organize it.

6. Your bosom looks so supple. Okay maybe not that exactly. But, along with number one, wives still want to know they can turn their husband's eyes (and by "eyes," I mean "bedroom eyes").

5. I respect you. Yes, I know men need respect and women need love. It's true. But the two aren't mutually exclusive. Your wife wants to feel respected too. It shows her honor and makes her feel loved.

4. I would love to give you a snuggle/back rub/foot massage without the expectation that it will lead anywhere...and I'll watch your favorite tv show while doing so. Trust me, we want more too (see number six), but we're complicated women. We also want to put our defenses down every once in a while and just enjoy some physical time with you that doesn't lead to sex. We give so much all day long, it's nice to experience an altruistic act of kindness now and then.

3. Take the day off.  This would result in the opposite of number four. After the gift of a day off--not running errands, not working, just the freedom to go and do whatever she wants, without kids, for the whole day--I don't know a wife who wouldn't rush home in the evening for some fun (and by "fun," I mean "bedroom eyes" again).

2. Let's pray together. Wives want their husbands to take the initiative for the spiritual things--not in every case--but in a lot of cases, wives would give up anything to have a husband who takes the lead on praying, reading the bible as a couple, or going through a devotional book together.

1. Can I tell you my innermost thoughts? Okay, I'm sure you're rolling your eyes on this one. But, wives feel so loved by their husbands when they are connecting emotionally. We want to hear your deepest thoughts about your struggles, the lies you believe, the victories you want to win, your goals in life, your hopes for marriage. You don't need to be the same as our girlfriends, but we want a soul-friend. That emotional connection will help us feel intimate (and by "intimate," I mean we'll want to have sex with you).

What about you? What things do you want to hear from your spouse? 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Karate-Chopping Shame


Oh, haven't I mentioned I began mother-son Karate with my oldest child? That's right.

I had a friend tell me about it, and now the two of us are rocking the roundhouse kicks with our kiddos.

It's actually much harder than I imagined, and most of the time I'm worried the Sensei (yes, he's a sensei) will be able to tell I'm sweating in the nether-regions. I'm looking forward to getting  my gi (those karate outfits) in order to hide the aforementioned sweat.

What does this have to do with shame?

Well, you can imagine that I, getting up there in my thirties, look pretty hilarious as I snap kicks and punch pads. Especially while the other kids' parents, who are not taking the class, but are watching the class, are watching me. (Not that they care what I do.)

But, you know, it's definitely out of my comfort zone.

I'm trying to do one new thing each week to either fight against shame for myself or on behalf of another person-locally or globally.

So, for me -- I'm stepping out of my comfort zone and karate-chopping my shame in half.

For others -- I'm tweeting "at" the people who can make some noise about fighting against human trafficking--"putting on the pressure in order to make some change," as my friend Shayne Moore, author of Refuse to Do Nothing, suggests. 

Join with me and tweet some journalists and politicians this week. Such as @NickKristof @StateDept @Ariannahuff @CNNFreedom. You can direct them to smaller, but awesome, organizations such as Free the Girls and Women at Risk, International.

Also, if you've been following the NFL's recent situations, here's an interesting article by Dottie Lamm at the Denver Post, Why does it take shame to make violence against women an issue? 

How are you fighting shame this week?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Chicago Half Marathon and Fighting Shame

On Sunday Kevin and his grandpa, along with some other friends and family, ran the Chicago Half Marathon in honor of Kevin's cousin Mitch, who died tragically in 2004.

Kevin's grandpa is 87 and won his age bracket in the race!
(He also happened to be the only one in his age bracket!)

Recently my pastor talked about Lance Armstrong, who as we all know, "won" the Tour De France for seven consecutive years, only to be retroactively disqualified and banned from the race for life.

Can you imagine getting to the end of your race just to admit you'd been a fraud the whole time?

Shame wants us to believe our brokenness disqualifies us from helping others, from being used by God, from ministry. The truth is, it is IN our weakness--not in spite of it--when God is most strong.

We fight against shame by being vulnerable; by showing the world who we really are-- brokenness and all--rather than hiding behind a false self.

We also fight against shame by choosing to stay in the race, fight the good fight, and live the grateful, worshipful life, even if we're the last ones standing.  

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Miss Maria Marcello, 10 Things The Internet Told Me About My Rape...and Some Things I Believe. (Warning: this post may trigger some readers, so please read with caution.)

If you've been following the story of Maria Marcello, the pseudonymous blogger who recently wrote about her rape at Oxford, you've watched as the internet offered her great support, while simultaneously ripping her to shreds. 

I reached out to Miss Marcello today and she's allowed me to republish her blog post on 10 Things The Internet Told Me When I Wrote About My Rape. You can read some below and you can find both complete stories here.  

I don't know Maria. I imagine we are very different in many ways. But, I stand with her as a sister. I am so tired of and outraged by this rhetoric which blames the victim. 

There is a war against women.
It's as old as Adam in the garden blaming Eve for his own sin. 
It's as old as Aristotle, who believed women were "deformed men." 

It's ancient but also very modern. 

It's a war that is local and global and real. 

I know I might sound like a wierdo here, but as Chris Caine said recently, "The things we Christians believe are weird anyway, so why not believe all the weird things?"

Here's what I believe: the devil knows the impact, influence, and inspiration women can be and have in this world. Therefore, he is doing whatever he can to stop us. 

Did you know that one-in-every-four women is the victim of attempted or completed sexual assault? I've sat in rooms where I've wondered if it's not closer to one in two women. 

Did you know that every two minutes an American is sexually assaulted? 

Did you know that 60 percent of sexual assaults go unreported and 97 perfect of rapists never go to jail? 97 percent! 

Did you know that only one in 100,000 sex traffickers in Europe are ever convicted? 

There is an absolute evil happening to women and girls all over the world. 

But, here's the other thing I believe: This war will be won.  

We have a shame-remover, champion, and victor in Jesus. 

Isaiah 54, says, "Do not be afraid; you will not suffer shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated...For your Maker is your husband--the Lord Almighty is his name."

No matter what has been done to us, in Christ our fear, shame, and humiliation are removed. They are replaced with His dignity, love, and courage. 

Let's join together in his name, under his banner, and fight like hell. 

How can you fight? 

-Join with others and pray for Maria. Pray for the victims of rape, assault, and trafficking all over the world. Pray for justice. 

-Join The A21 compaign and find out how you can support victims of trafficking. You can even send care packages to them through A21. 

-Share this post. Social Media Awareness makes a difference. Spread the word.

-Show Maria your support by sending her an encouraging tweet. (Even if you don't agree with everything I'm saying or she says), at least make sure voices of hope speak louder than the negativity she is hearing. Show her the love of God through your support @missmarcello.  

-If you need help, or if you could use guidance sorting out some confusion you may have about your own or someone else's sexual assault, please call the National Sexual Assault hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE.

Here's a bit from Maria's post: 

"On Friday I wrote about my rape. I can’t believe the response I got.Thank you so much to everyone who has read, liked and shared it. In just three days, it has had over 18,000 hits — not including those on sites which have republished it.
There are a few things I would like to clarify.
1) My case is in no way related to Ben Sullivan’s, in spite of the impressions of some readers.

2) To those who blamed my “upper class, Oxford educated” background: I went to a state school in a deprived area.
3) Some people said if I was drunk, I couldn’t identify my attacker. The guy was a friend of a friend. I had previously been aware of his existence, but had never had a conversation with him until hours before he raped me.
Although the majority of responses to the piece were very positive, many weren’t.
Rapists have a defective gene, [so] keep your wits about you” was definitely high up there; others I could make little sense of. I am still trying, to no avail, to understand one user’s recommendation I should sue myself because I was drunk when attacked.
Some commenters informed me I should expect no less at a mixed sex university. “It’s so obvious what the outcome of going to a co-ed college [is] that I don’t even know why people are calling this rape”, said one. “She shouldn’t have gone to college with men if she didn’t want to get raped” said another. Yes, that’s verbatim. These are as offensive to men as to me.
The rest focused on themes like my age, my university and what I should be allowed to do as a woman. I have compiled a list of them below.
My favourite remains one person’s statement that being “full of the upper crust”, I felt I was “entitled to everything” (not being raped, for example).
I’m not sure what “full of the upper crust” means, but I love it. Perhaps it could be Oxford University’s new motto....
The implication women should be encouraged to behave a certain way and that rape is a form of teaching them how is disgusting. Being raped is not a mistake the victim makes, and it is not something they need to learn from. That suggests whatever they were doing previously was the wrong way to behave and that the rapist has taught them the right way.
Nor is rape a natural hazard women should be wary of. Rapists are responsible for their actions and capable of changing them.
Women in this situation should not blame themselves. They should blame the rapist..."
You can read the rest of Maria's post here

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

While I was Away...and a question for book research, would love your help!

Happy Start of School/Fall Madness (even though it is eerily humid in Chi-town this week)! 
I've spent the summer doing some mad-writing and will continue to, but wanted to rejoin the blog world once more. I've missed you! 

While I was away, here are some things which have been on my heart: 

1) This wonderful article by Trillia Newbell, Ferguson and My White-Looking Son 

"I find myself mourning the loss of a young man I’ve never known, grieving over the police and the looting and the racist undertones of comments found throughout social media, and thanking God that in time he will make all things new.  And I’m processing this issue for young black boys and my young white-looking boy." 

How have you been responding to/with Ferguson?

2) Reading Christine Caine's book, Can I Have (and do) It All Please?  in which she addresses that elusive phrase, "Calling." She writes, "You'll find your purpose is normally aligned with your gifts, talents, and heart's desire." Pretty simple. 

I wonder if that's been true in your life? Do you feel a sense of "calling?" 

3) Not sure where to rank this in things I've been excited about this summer, but it is definitely up there:

4) Finally, I need your help for the book-- I've been thinking a lot about our "false-selves"-- those roles we play because we feel we need to, or because we learned at an early age we were more accepted when we played them. (You know...all those ways in which women "should" all over ourselves.) 

Here's an example: I'm a pastor's wife, but I panic whenever someone at church has a new baby. I'm thrilled for them, but I feel intense pressure in my role as pastor's wife to prepare a home-cooked and hand-delivered meal. I'm just terrible at it. I'm sooo not a domestic goddess. So, I learned to let go of that self-expectation. I began purchasing restaurant gift cards or healthy takeout for new parents. It's a small thing, but I've let go of that pressure and haven't lost any pastor's wife street cred (that I know of.) 

Do you have an example of  a role you've felt you had to fill in a certain way? Tips on how you shed that skin? I'd love to hear your story. 

As always, may you live shamelessly!