January 22, 2013

Eshet Chayil! ("A Year of Biblical Womanhood" Review)

A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans may seem like a strange experiment making a mockery of the so called "biblical woman," but I assure you, it is nothing of the sort.

As she dedicates each month to a different discipline (gentleness, domesticity, obedience, valor, beauty, modesty, purity, fertility, submission, justice, silence, and grace), she takes you on her thought provoking, challenging, and even humorous spiritual journey of literal interpretations on what it means to be a "biblical woman."  Her time spent hosting dinner parties, sleeping in a tent, wearing head coverings, calling her husband "master," and spending time with monks and Quakers is enough to keep you turning pages.

And though what she decided to take part in for a year was interesting, it was what she learned about herself, about being a woman, and, most importantly, about God that was truly inspiring.

As I was reading about a woman facing her Susie Homemaker fears and shattering her once held judgments of women living out God callings different than her own, I began to feel a Holy prompting to face some fears and judgements of my own.  And although our fears and judgments may be very different, I was resonating with her earnestness to let God take her out of the shoes she had been wearing, and by doing so, taking her down her road less traveled.  For her, that road was pots and pans, babies, and needle and thread. For me, that road is my new job, a masters degree, and independence.

Through other women, God can show us more of His grace, His goodness, His Truth, and how the notion that we can keep Him all for ourselves, wrapped in our pretty little boxes, is ridiculous. I think if we're honest with ourselves, we all have roads God yearns to lead us down, and maybe not even for our own benefit. Maybe trusting God to take us down our "road less traveled" is for the sake of other women. For the sake of understanding those who are different and realizing in the end, we are all the same to Him.  When it comes right down to it, He calls us all to be, as Evans would say, "Eshet Chayil," A Woman of Valor.
"The Proverbs 31 woman is a star not because of what she does but how she does it--with valor. So do your thing. If it's refurbishing old furniture--do it with valor. If it's keeping up with your two-year-old--do it with valor. If it's fighting against human trafficking...leading a company...or getting other people to do your work for you--do it with valor."
And may I suggest getting your hands on a copy of A Year of Biblical Womanhood and reading it?...
...With valor, of course! ;-)

January 15, 2013

A People Pleaser's Plea

I am convinced I came out of my mother's womb wanting to please people. Somehow my little, baby brain knew if I entered this world sucking my thumb, it would generate exaggerated awes and sappy tears. Unfortunately, almost 24 years later, sticking my thumb in my mouth just doesn't have the same effect.

People pleasing became a lot more difficult. Constantly striving to do so became exhausting.

However, I think I speak for most "people pleasers" when I say that the coined term is a bit of an understatement. It's more than just not wanting to displease someone, it's about not wanting to hurt them. The inner turmoil I experience when deciding if I should tell someone my honest opinion about what I think of their outfit is the same inner turmoil I experience when deciding if I should tell someone my honest opinion about what I think of their life choices. The first is of less importance than the other in the grand scheme of things (unless you're Barbie), but in either situation, I am capable of hurting someone.

Who really wants to hurt people they care about deeply? Why wouldn't I want to avoid doing so, if I can? These are questions I am constantly bombarded with in pretty much every situation involving my opinion and others, yet, I admire people who freely give their opinions. I'm not saying people who voice their opinions are inconsiderate of other people's feelings, but they seem to have a balance I am only beginning to find. I've wrestled with this before God, asking for discernment on how to find the balance of being considerate without losing my own self in the process.

However, as much as I need to work on finding a balance, I believe those who know me as a people pleaser need to find it, as well.

As many times as I've heard statements like, "you will never be able to please everyone," "you're not perfect, so you will hurt others," and "you need to do what's best for you," I've realized very few people actually mean what they say. People get used to the people pleasers in their lives, and they appreciate them more than they realize. So when the advice they give involves their people pleasing friends applying it to situations leaving them displeased or hurt, they either respond negatively or don't know how to respond at all. In return the people pleasers who finally feel like they've gotten a hold on their people pleasing ways are left feeling guilty from the ones who gave them the advice in the first place.

Confused? You're telling me!

I realize how frustrating we people pleasers can be, but here is my plea:

If we are expected to stop "worrying so much" and stop "trying so hard to please everyone," we need the people in our lives to start letting us live this way. If we are to accept the fact that we may hurt people now and again, we need the people in our lives to accept the fact that we may end up hurting them now and again.

I realize I may have made people pleasing sound like some disease. Though it's not that serious, this part of me does play a huge role in my daily decisions and interactions, and I consider this post a step in the right direction for myself.

And yes, the people pleaser inside is telling me to delete this...just in case you were wondering.

January 2, 2013

2013 Reading List: Fiction Edition

As if the temptation to be glued to the social media world wasn't strong enough, I now have an iPhone. Don't get me wrong, I'm in love! However, the few short weeks of ownership has proved the necessity for balance in my life. And so, in the spirit of 2013, I vow to read one book a month. Not only will this goal benefit my reading habits, but it will also ensure more blogging (you better believe I'll be writing reviews)!

So without further ado, my 2013 Reading List-Fiction Edition:

The Hobbit (J. R. R. Tolkien)

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (J.R.R. Tolkien)

The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)

Gone with the Wind (Margaret Mitchell)

The Catcher in the Rye (J. D. Salinger)

Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)

The Chronicles of Narnia (C. S. Lewis)

These are just some classics that come to mind, but I'm open to suggestions. Happy New Year. Happy reading.

I think I'll start with...
"In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit."

2013 Reading List-Non-Fiction Edition

If you read my last post, you would have discovered that 2013 will be filed with reading. I am currently toying with the idea of graduate school and realize if that does happen, I'll have plenty of reading to do there. Until then, however, I intend to fill my free time with good, thought provoking reads.

Here it is, my small list of non-fiction books I've either been meaning to read or that have recently caught my interest:

Knowledge of the Holy (A. W. Tozer)

A Year of Biblical Womanhood (Rachel Held Evans)

Evolving in Monkey Town (Rachel Held Evans)

Walking on Water (Madeleine L'Engle)

Kisses from Katie (Katie Davis)

The Irresistible Revolution (Shane Claiborne)

God's Politics (Jim Wallis)

I would really love for this list to grow and gain some variety. Any suggestions?