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Spring/Summer 2014

Shame


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editor’s letter

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For Shame! {PUBLISHER} Elisa Morgan, M.Div. {MANAGING EDITOR} Mary Byers, B.A., CAE {ART DIRECTOR/DESIGNER} Cynthia Young

I’m captivated by how God shows up in each issue of FullFill. Though we start the process by prayerfully considering possible themes, once we’ve picked one we honestly have no idea how an issue will pull together. Yet it always does. Sure, we contact potential authors and consider the unsolicited submissions that cross my desk. We wrestle with images (our amazing designer, Cindy Young, leads this part of the process). And we challenge each other’s thinking, doing our best to put a fresh spin on sometimes-difficult topics. But even with this teamwork and due diligence, there’s always a level of uncertainty. How will the articles complement each other? Will there be duplication in submissions? Will what we write mean anything to anyone? I’m amazed at how God takes a disparate group of writers and brings us together under the masthead of FullFill, so far without duplication but with fresh thinking and new twists. I know it sounds like I’m bragging. And I guess I am—on God. (And on the writers and staff members I’m privileged to work with.) This issue is no exception. You can imagine the herculean task in addressing something as difficult and universal as shame. Though we all experience it, how we experience it is unique to each of us. By its very definition shame is not something easy to share. The irony is that we’re often too ashamed to talk about when we’ve felt shame or acted shamefully. And since shame is a painful emotion, we

don’t want to think about it or remember it. Sometimes, frankly, we can’t even admit it to ourselves, let alone anyone else. Yet in this issue you’ll read all about shame. Facebook shame. Bathroom and bedroom shame. Childhood shame. Shame that lingers. Shame that comes and goes. Shame you’re responsible for and shame you’re not. Most importantly, you’ll learn about canceling the shamefest—the ridiculous and not-so-ridiculous ways in which we acknowledge shame’s presence in our lives and therefore keep it alive and active. You’ll also read a compelling story about Helen Hayes, a woman who survived both a plane crash and a financial market crash—and how she spoke to God and heard back from him— during both. On a decidedly lighter note, we have a piece from Debbie Blue about what we can learn from birds in the Bible. And finally, you’ll be encouraged to use a fourletter word this month: nope. (In addressing both over-striving and to shame.) Ultimately, we’re loved by a forgiving God. Gratefully, there’s no shame in that!

{BLOG MANAGER} Carla Foote, M.A. {WEB MANAGER} Gretchen Pfeifer {ALLIANCE MANAGER} Heather Shore {ADVISORS}

Tracey Bianchi, M.Div. SPEAKER AND AUTHOR

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Carla Foote, M.A. FINE PRINT EDITORIAL

Phyllis H. Hendry PRESIDENT, LEAD LIKE JESUS

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Laurie McIntyre, M.A.C.E. PASTOR OF WOMEN2DAY, ELMBROOK CHURCH

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Constance Rhodes AUTHOR, SPEAKER, FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT OF FINDINGBALANCE

Halee Gray Scott, M.A. Ph.D. FACULTY, A.W. TOZER THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY & WESLEY SEMINARY AT INDIANA WESLEY SEMINARY

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Sincerely,

Faith position statement and writer’s guidelines available at FullFill.org.

Mary Byers

FullFill is a ministry of Mission: Momentum. The purpose of FullFill magazine is to equip women to recognize, utilize and maximize their influence in all the spheres of their lives. All opinions expressed are those of the writers and are not necessarily those of FullFill™ magazine or Mission: Momentum. The magazine promotes thoughtful dialogue and appropriate action as women use their gifts and abilities for kingdom purposes.

MANAGING EDITOR, FullFill writer@FullFill.org

Copyright 2014 Mission: Momentum.

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Shame by Aubrey Sampson

“Our shame can point to our need for, and God’s provision of, a Savior—in whom we are never shrouded in shame. Instead, he dresses us in restorative radiance.”

voices 10

Facebook, Hiding & Shame by Tracey Solomon

11

Living on the Other Side of Shame by Donna Thurston

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Eve’s Daughter by Suzanne Burden She Said, He Said by Karen Booker Schelhaas

Spring/ Summer

2014

columns 34

38

Think by Carolyn Custis James

AIRBRUSHED!

16

Worldly Women by Jenny Rae Armstrong

Spiritual Formation

REWRITING CINDERELLA 42

contents

Male Box by Brad Meuli

CONSIDER THE BIRDS by Debbie Blue

HOPE 43

My Fill by Elisa Morgan

24

CANCELLING THE SHAMEFEST

Woman of Influence

regulars 32

Resting Place

36

Overflow

LEARN TO BE STILL by Nicole Johnson

THE SOURCE OF ABUNDANT JOY by Oswald Chambers

40

Quick Fill

41

Four-Letter Word NOPE

CRASH: AN INTERVIEW WITH HELEN YOUNG HAYES by Carla Foote

30 WAITING TO BE FILLED by Stasi Eldredge

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hame I am not good enough. I do not belong.

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ECENTLY, I ATTENDED a week-long

leadership assessment boot camp. Thrown into group projects, late-night brainstorming sessions, and performance evaluations while being appraised by clip-boarded assessors, I began to feel like one of Veronica Roth’s characters in Divergent—ranked according to her usefulness in the world and afraid of being excommunicated if she cannot excel. This fishbowl of analysis was disconcerting to say the least, and it brought out my well-worn shameful thoughts: What makes me think I am capable of leading anything? Am I relevant anymore? Why am I even here? On my second night there, I dreamt I signed a million-dollar contract, only to blow the money on a boob-job. My own assessment of the dream: I’m an overachiever overwrought with insecurity. THE WORD shame is derived from

the phrase to cover. Shame elbowed its way into our world as an irrevocable consequence of sin. Adam and Eve hid from God that day, covering their first shame (among other things) with leaves. We still instinctually follow their lead. Let’s take my fun little meltdown at boot camp, for example. Before I’d even done anything, I convinced myself I wasn’t measuring up to some elusive wow-factor. Attempting to cover my feelings of inadequacy, I shut down emotionally. I disengaged from the process. I hid. Toxic shame led to withdrawal which led to increased feelings of shame. Before I realized what was happening, I was caught in a downward shame spiral, with little hope for a way out.

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Thankfully, God found me. He tenderly reminded me of Mrs. Henshaw. The first Sunday School teacher I ever had, the woman was a hard-of-hearing widow with white nose hairs so long and thick I’d sit in the back of the classroom and daydream about swinging from them. While other cool teachers brought in boomboxes with the latest DC Talk CD, Mrs. Henshaw would lug a portable record player from home and play the class some old hymns or a Billy Graham sermon. There was nothing attractive, persuasive, or culturally savvy about her. She was so boring even she’d fall asleep in the middle of a lesson. But, long before we learned about David and Goliath or even David and Bathsheba, Mrs. Henshaw made it a priority to teach us about David and Samuel. She was the first person to tell me that when anointing the new king of Israel, God instructed Samuel not to judge him by his appearance, for that is what the world values. Mrs. Henshaw taught me that God values the heart. As a grown woman, I see now that both Mrs. Henshaw and the future king of Israel were imperfect leaders in so many ways, and yet they were defined not by their failures and the resulting shame. They were defined by the God who loved them. One of my favorite stories about David is from 1 Samuel. A fugitive, on the run from Saul, David barely escaped

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in focus } capture in the city of Gath. Eluding the guards by disguising himself as a drooling lunatic, David eventually found sanctuary in the Cave of Adullam. There, we are told, David became a leader to over 400 cave dwellers; people the Bible describes as being “in debt, in distress, and discontent.” In the cave, God simultaneously provided protection for David while also supplying this ragtag group, each member experiencing some version of shame, with a faithful leader. And, inspired by that tumultuous season of life, David wrote Psalm 34, declaring in verse five, “Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.” The Hebrew word for radiant, “nāhar,” is sometimes translated to beam with radiant joy. Just as God replaced Adam and Eve’s leaf-coverings with garments of grace, he transformed David’s misery into ministry, and continually exchanges our shame for beaming joy. If we allow him to, God can also transform shame itself into a kind of guidepost. Our shame can point to our need for, and God’s provision of, a Savior—in whom we are never shrouded in shame. Instead, he dresses us in restorative radiance.

By Aubrey Sampson

Shame is at the grocery store when you’re praying to God no one sees you in your sweat pants because you didn’t have the emotional wherewithal to get dressed that day. Shame is in the checkout line, when your child won’t stay buckled and your meager budget doesn’t allow for the products you wish you could be purchasing. There’s living room shame, when you laugh uncomfortably and apologize to your guests because your house isn’t sparkling clean. There’s bedroom shame or, as I like to call it, “should” shame. I should enjoy sex more than I do. He should be responding differently. I should look more like Jennifer Aniston. I should not be haunted by my past right now. I should have more freedom and confidence. We’re all painfully familiar with bathroom shame: when the mirror exposes the belly fat, loose and wrinkly. When stepping on the scale might break you. When you’re alone, crying in the shower. There’s the woman-in-a-man’sworld shame, the bad-mommy-day shame, the broken dream shame. My personal favorite is the “I drive a minivan” shame. And, don’t forget the “Would anyone notice if I got BOTOX?” shame. Shame is at the dentist, dermatologist, and the doctor’s office. Feeling ashamed is often triggered by our past, by the dark and heavy secrets. A few weeks ago, I spoke on the topic of overcoming shame for a ministry event. Afterwards, a female college student pulled me aside. She was leading a small group of thirteen-year-old girls, each one already lacking self-confidence. “I want to give them courage,” she said. “But, I’m in my twenties and I fight body image issues and

… God replaced Adam and Eve’s leafcoverings with garments of grace …

THE DIFFICULTY IN OVERCOMING SHAME, however, is

that it isn’t always crouching in the dark corner waiting to sucker punch you in the gut. Sometimes shame is a ballerina, deftly dancing through the mundane.

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insecurity every day. I feel like I have nothing to offer them. Will they ever stop battling shame? Will I?” she asked. I told her I hoped she never would. “Victory from shame is found in waging war on a daily basis,” I told her. While I hesitate to sell anyone a prescriptive approach to overcoming shame—You too can conquer shame in just three magical steps!—I will share the battle plans I gave her: Share your story. At my leadership assessment, I finally pulled a female friend aside and whimpered, “I don’t know about you, but I am freaking out.” Thankfully, she got it: “Oh, totally. This morning I didn’t put any sugar in my coffee because I was paranoid I was being watched…and judged. The worst part is— my coffee is terrible.” We giggled like little girls, relieved by our shared experience and newly empowered to reengage in the process. Invite a safe friend or trusted counselor in to your shame-experiences, no matter how large or small they seem. Grieve with them. Laugh with them. The process will help normalize your fear and give you courage. Develop a “shameless” script. Any time I feel pressure to perform perfectly, I have learned to speak ten words aloud: “It is okay, Aubrey. You win some. You lose some.” There’s nothing earth-shattering about the phrase. It’s a total cliché and I’m pretty sure I look like a crazy woman talking to herself. But, I also know that shame and grace cannot coexist. The point is simple: when you experience shame, be kind to yourself. Perhaps you find encouragement from a Bible verse or line from your favorite song. Maybe you resonate with a phrase like, “I am not a mistake. I am beautiful.” Or even, “I forgive myself.” Whatever words speak grace to you, develop a shame-free script based on them. Type it into your phone. Stick it to your mirror. Tattoo it on

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your arm. Be prepared to respond when shame wants to brawl. Pray. Arm yourself with a sisterhood of prayer warriors and meet together regularly. Pray for one another. Pray for women and girls all around the world who are suffering from shame. Pray that God would set you free. “The truth is,” I said, wrapping up my conversation with that college student, “shame may change its form during seasons of life, but it will continue to creep in. Every time you hear the shame voice, ask Jesus to speak louder. Ask him to surround you and those precious girls in nāhar-armor.” As I drove home after our conversation, I thought of a million other things I wished I’d said to her. In fact, I practiced a little speech aloud in my car, with hand motions and everything. (There I go talking to myself again.) If you’ll permit me, it would have gone something like this: There will be bad days. There will always be moments when you want to believe you aren’t enough. But, God will gently whisper that he is. He will give you courage. He will jog the memory of an old Sunday school teacher, reminding you that he uses the most unpolished of us to do his will. He will regularly remove your self-imposed clipboards and replace them with his immeasurable, radiant love. The Garden of Eden, the Cave of Adullam, and the boot camps of life reenacted time and time again. n Aubrey Sampson is a pastor’s wife and stay-at-home mom to three sons, which is to say she drinks way too much coffee and stays in her pajamas all day long. On the days she manages to get dressed, Aubrey writes and speaks about overcoming shame in Jesus. She is a member of the Redbud Writer’s Guild and is working on her first book on living shamelessly. You can find her at aubreysampson.com or follower her @aubsamp.

Click here to link to resources to help you think deeper and take the next step. For this article, you’ll find questions to help you THINK IT THRU. Watch Aubrey sharing a devotional in a PLAY IT OUT video. And check the BONUS section on the Get More page for links to Dr. Brené Brown discussing the destructive nature of shame.

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Finding, ­understanding and using your unique voice is a lifelong process.

Facebook, Hiding & Shame By Tracey Solomon Confession: I click “ignore” when I receive Facebook friend requests from people who knew me “back then.” When I was skinny. When I was dating. When I wasn’t a Christian. When I was a pushy, new Christian. When I was a jerk. (Yesterday.) When I was judgmental. (See also: yesterday and maybe today.) When I left that church, and it didn’t end well. When I’ve disappointed friends, family and co-workers. You know. “Back then.” I ignore people in daily life, too. When I see someone who knew me “back then,” (usually at Target.) I hide in the feminine hygiene aisle. People from “back then” aren’t the problem. Shame is. Shame of who I am, of who I’ve been, of things I’ve done and of things I wish I’d done. Shame makes me hide.

I’m not the first person to hide because of shame. I think that began in the garden with Adam and Eve scouring Pinterest for fig leaf outfit inspiration while hiding from God. Years ago, a friend told me: “Shame is like mold. It grows in the dark. The way to be rid of shame is to let truth shine in.” Hiding isn’t the answer. Paul said it like this: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12:9). It’s time to stop hiding and start boasting (in my weaknesses). Truthfully? That scares me. However, I choose to trust his Word. I trust that what was my shame can be filled with his power. Besides, hiding in the feminine hygiene aisle? Target does a security sweep before closing time. You cannot hide there forever. n

Tracey Solomon serves on the MOPS International Board of Directors and is a writer and public speaker. She’s been married to Kyle for 25 years and is the mother of two college students and a sixth grader. You can find her online at traceysolomon.wordpress.com.

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Read as these women share their voices and then consider your own.

Living on the Other Side of Shame

Click here to link writer’s websites and watch related videos.

By Donna Thurston

“Shame grows best in darkness.”

THe THree-YeAr olD WAs DroPPeD by the side of the road by her angry mother. Suzanne* didn’t know where she was. Her young brain registered, “I made mommy mad. I am bad.” Bobby was seven when he cleaned the garage for his father. He hoped Dad would be proud. Furious, his father beat Bobby with his fists, leaving bruises inside and out. Bobby recorded, “I should’ve known better. I am wrong.” Megan was 16 when her father began sexually abusing her. In her innocence she believed it was her fault. “I am responsible. I did something awful.” What started in the Garden with disobedience and fig leaves, allows sin and shame to run rampant. Isolation and fear prevail. Therapists often describe guilt and shame this way: Guilt says, “I did something wrong.” Shame says, “I am wrong.” Shame becomes toxic when it is locked in secrecy. Things we are ashamed we did, even ways we were victims, are held onto tightly. Shame grows best in darkness. As adults we fear rejection. We are haunted by thoughts like, “If they really knew me, they wouldn’t like me, I am

not lovable, I can’t do anything right.” Shame creates perfectionism, and continuous striving. We fear a judgment— unworthy of love. Our relationships with coworkers, friends, spouses and children are impacted. Getting to the other side of shame requires courage. Shame is reduced by finding a safe person: a professional counselor, pastor, or Christian friend to share with. Freedom from shame comes by facing secrets, not keeping them. When we allow others inside, we are released to love others and ourselves more. Another blessing that comes when we share parts of our pain is that others are freed to do the same. John 10:10, tells us Jesus came to give us abundant life. Living without shame produces a life more abundant and joyful. n

Donna Thurston has been practicing faithbased counseling with adults and adolescents for over 25 years. She recently relocated with her husband to northern Virginia where she is enjoying a short sabbatical from work.

*The names and details in the above cases were changed in order to maintain their confidentiality.

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Eve’s Daughter By Suzanne Burden I HAVE BEEN TAUGHT that I am easily deceived and dangerous with a tendency to cause grown men to stumble into sin in one fell swoop. It was the woman who was deceived, I’ve heard a million times. Now women try to manipulate men. And deep down in my little girl psyche I absorbed the lie. You will always be deficient. You will always be subordinate to every man you meet. You will always be ashamed of your gender. This gender? The one that God himself crafted? My soul-DNA says that I am an image-bearer of the living God, an ezer or strong power meant to resemble my Creator (Genesis 2:18). I am specifically designed for life-giving, interdependent relationships with the other image-bearers God has created. It’s time to tell the truth. I am one made for the purpose of building the kingdom of God on this earth. I am commissioned to do so alongside and with my brothers. And so are you. “What is the biggest obstacle,” a friend recently asked, “to women taking their place alongside their brothers in the Church?” My answer: “We continue to see women primarily as fallen. Until we see them as redeemed and set free through the power of the gospel, we will not allow them to fully participate.” I have been taught that I am easily deceived and dangerous. But the truth is this: I am no longer defined by the deception of Eve but as a redeemed and restored disciple of the living God. n Suzanne Burden holds an MA in Theological Studies and can be found blogging at the intersection of beauty and theology at suzanneburden.com. She writes and edits for a variety of organizations and coauthored the book Reclaiming Eve: the Identity and Calling of Women in the Kingdom of God.

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By Karen Booker Schelhaas

She Said,

S

HE’S PERSUASIVE, PUSHY EVEN. I keep thinking I can unfriend her, but she insists I keep her around. She speaks in ways that are familiar to me. I listen. She says I’m a mediocre spouse, that the sum of my failures is a giant slap in the face of Christian marriage. This is a hole I’ve dug, and there is no new, higher ground. He says, “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert, and streams in the wasteland” (Isaiah 43:19). He takes broken, hard things and makes them soft, even new. She says if my kids or friends act out or lose control, I should back away, especially in public. She whispers that my good name is all I’ve got.


He says, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). Love is messy, embarrassing, and complicated. I am to dive in, head first, unashamed. The swellings from four babies, the zippered abdomen riddled with scars covering what’s left of my angry intestines, the National Geographic breasts. She says I’m disfigured, grotesque even. I must hide myself. He says, “They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor” (Isaiah 61:3). I am a beautifully scarred tree, still swaying for His glory. She says to clamp down my mouth, to keep words of wisdom birthed from heartache and struggle concealed, because nobody really wants to hear them. My experiences yield little; my failures mar my credibility. ALOHA_17/ISTOCK

He says, “For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” Pearls of wisdom don’t come cheap, and when unveiled can be exquisite jewels of hope for others. She is shame, and He… is not. May I have the courage to pry her out of my life and instead receive God’s voice, trusting that He makes beauty from ashes. I have a choice. n Karen Booker Schelhaas lives in Highlands Ranch, Colorado with her husband and five children ranging from ages 8 to 16. When she’s not substitute teaching, cooking, jogging, cleaning, gardening, entertaining, chauffeuring or volunteering, she can be found at her kitchen table with coffee in her veins, slowly putting her stories into words.

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Grow your faith as you grow your family. The NIV Mom’s Devotional Bible is a year-long devotional journey through the blessings and challenges of motherhood. Find purpose and perspective from the notes of Elisa Morgan, President Emerita of MOPS International, as you discover the mother God intended you to be. For more information please visit zondervan.com or everywhere books are sold.


In the gospels Jesus asks his followers to ‌

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Consider


spiritual formation By Debbie Blue By Debbie Blue

the Birds

Debbie Blue is the author of Consider the Birds: A Provocative Guide to Birds of the Bible. She is one of the founding pastors of House of Mercy in St. Paul, Minnesota. Blue’s sermon podcasts are listened to by subscribers around the world, and her essays, sermons, blogs and reflections on Scripture have appeared in a wide variety of publications. Debbie and her family live with friends on a farm near Milaca, Minnesota. For more, see debbieblue.com. TOLTEK/iSTOCK

I

t may simply be his way of saying—stop, breathe, trust. But I believe he points us in the direction of birds because there is much to learn from them. I often feel I am too busy to get out my binoculars and trudge through the fields, but I admire people who get up early in the morning to wait quietly for small colorful (or drab) gifts to appear in the bushes. I’m convinced that there is something about the sort of consciousness necessary for birding that is very much like the practice of faith. It comes and goes. It requires waiting. You must use both your body and your mind. Attention is paramount. Once you start looking for birds, you will find them everywhere—in your backyard of course, but also in poetry, songs, alleys, beneath the underpass—wherever you go. Birds are all over the Bible. They bring bread to the prophets. They are food for the wanderers. Abraham has to shoo them away from his offering, and a pigeon goes with Jesus on his first visit to the temple. As a preacher, I am always looking for the rich layers of meaning in Scripture. I thought taking Jesus seriously— considering the birds of the Bible, might lead to some new ways of seeing. So, I decided to read everything I could on ten birds mentioned in the Bible—consider their mating, eating, and, social habits—what they meant symbolically across cultures, throughout time, in Christian iconography. I took them seriously in the Biblical stories in which they appear. If I couldn’t see them on my farm or where I traveled, I watched videos on the Internet. Of all the birds I explored, some of the most striking revelations came from the vulture and the dove. CONTINUED ON PAGE 18

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On Vulture’s Wings

In Minnesota,

where I live, the only vultures I see are turkey vultures. They have bald red heads. They are not pretty in any conventional sense. I thought of them as violent, dark and dreadful. In fact, vultures (unlike most creatures) rarely hurt a living thing. Vultures are remarkable purifying machines. They take care of rotting remains that could otherwise spread diseases. They have uniquely strong digestive juices that kill bacteria and nasty pathogens. The Mayans revered the vulture, referring to them as death eaters. This struck them as a good, godlike thing. It makes sense. We need something to eat death (digest it, rid it of its toxicity). Vultures stare death in the face and fear it not at all. It goes through their bodies and comes out harmless. The Hebrew word “nesher” is often translated in our English version of the Bible as eagle, but most scholars agree that “griffon vulture” is at least an alternative, if not a more fitting translation. This changes the feel of some popular verses (to put it mildly). It is very different to think of being “lifted up on vultures wings” or that they who wait on the Lord shall mount up with wings like vultures (not eagles)—to think of a vulture as a metaphor for God. It began to seem like a rich one—a God that can take everything in and make it clean—a God that can make even death nontoxic. There is a breathtaking range of vulture species across the world—some are conventionally handsome, some are oddly beautiful. When I started looking around, I realized pretty quickly that my ideas about vultures were extremely narrow—confined by my limited experience. It was an important lesson—discovering beauty where I hadn’t seen it before. CONTINUED ON PAGE 20

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Click here to link to resources to help you think deeper or take the next step. For this article, you’ll find questions to help THINK IT THRU.

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The Spirit of God—like a Pigeon

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The dove,

unlike the vulture, is almost universally loved. In each of the four gospels, the Spirit of God shows up at Jesus’ baptism in the form of a dove. In the popular imagination this Holy Spirit Dove is snow white. The bird at the baptism, however, was very likely a rock dove, which is prevalent in Palestine. Rock doves are grey with an iridescent green and violet neck. They are more commonly known as pigeons. Though most of us have separated categories for pigeons (dirty) and doves (pure), ornithologists will tell you, the names are interchangeable. The rock dove is the ancestor of our domestic pigeon— the kind that gather in our parks, nest in our eaves, leave droppings all over our buildings and sidewalks. Pigeons are often considered pests who “infest” urban areas. Cities have tried countless ways of exterminating them, usually unsuccessfully. How strange that the symbol for the Holy Spirit is just a hair’s breadth away from the symbol of urban trashiness. Contemplating this seems to me to be a prospect rich with possibility. Pigeons are ubiquitous, on the streets. They are wherever we are—in some of the worst places we have made (our neglected projects and abandoned buildings) and some of the best (art museums, parks, Rome’s piazzas.) They won’t leave us alone. What if the Spirit of God descends like a pigeon, somehow—always underfoot, routinely ignored, often disdained? Maybe the Spirit of God is so common—wherever life is—that we don’t recognize it or necessarily respect it. This does not seem entirely unlikely to me. This might explain why we are often unkind, ungenerous, ungrateful and destructive. The Spirit of God is among us and we often don’t even notice it because we are looking for something pure and white, but the Spirit of God is more complicated than that—fuller and richer and everywhere. Once you start paying attention you will find birds everywhere. You do not need binoculars—you don’t even need to tromp through the woods—though it may help to step outside. I believe it is the same way with the grace of God—when you start paying attention, you’ll discover it in many places you hadn’t noticed it before. n SPRING/SUMMER 2014

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2014 Webinars Experts speaking to the practical needs of women in ministry.

FEBRUARY 19

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Measuring Success

Dare Mighty Things

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BOTH PERSONAL & PROFESSIONAL

MAPPING THE CHALLENGES OF LEADERSHIP FOR CHRISTIAN WOMEN

LET YOUR FIRST STOP BE GOD

THE IDENTITY & CALLING OF WOMEN IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD

Janis Kugler (BS, MBA) President, Facet Consulting Group

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Halee Gray Scott (MA, PhD) Scholar, Author of Dare Mighty Things

Judy Douglass (BS) Leadership team member with husband Steve, CEO of CRU (Campus Crusade for Christ)

Suzanne Burden (BA, MA) Author of Reclaiming Eve

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Healing Prayer

Answering God’s Call

Helping Those Who Hurt

Jacky Gatliff

Vivian Mabuni (BS)

Women as Ministry Entrepreneurs

Lindsay Waymire (BA, MA) Director of Women’s Ministry at First Presbyterian Church, Boulder, CO

Allison Bollegar (BS, MDiv Candidate) Founder and Director of Grace and Gift Ministries, and Prayer Ministry Leader

(MATS, DMin Candidate) Associate Pastor of Stanwich Church, CT

Staff Member with CRU (Campus Crusade for Christ), Speaker, Author of Warrior in Pink

MOVING FROM DREAM TO REALITY Patti Garibay (BS) Executive Director of American Heritage Girls

Lori Rhodes (BA) Founder of Chicktime

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woman

of influence

Crash

A failed airplane engine. A failed stock market. A silent God.

An Interview with

Helen Young Hayes by Carla Foote

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Helen Young Hayes lives in Denver, Colorado with her husband, Matt. They have five children, ages 11–20. Recently, Carla Foote, FullFill blog manager, sat down with Helen to talk about her life journey, including both moments of God’s miraculous intervention and periods of his silence.

Twenty-five years ago, you were on a routine business trip headed to Chicago when a chilling announcement came over the intercom. I was sound asleep when there was a loud explosion. It sounded like a bomb had gone off and the plane dropped in the air. Then the plane lifted up again, as if regaining power. The pilot announced, “We’ve just lost our #2 engine. We still have plenty of power to get us to Chicago; we will just be a little late.” My heart was racing, but the flight attendants seemed calm, so I pulled out my briefcase to do some reading for my meetings. I started feeling airsick so I gave up my work and put my briefcase back overhead. I looked out the window and could tell from the sun that we were heading due west. We obviously weren’t going from Denver to Chicago anymore. Something was wrong. The pilot came on again and said we had sustained tail damage. He said, “We will be making an emergency

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landing in Sioux City, Iowa in 35 minutes, and I’m not going to kid you, folks, it’s going to be rough.” The flight attendants took us through emergency procedures. They showed us how to brace, which seemed pretty useless to me, but I practiced as they instructed. Then they left us in silence for 30 minutes. I closed my eyes and immediately started praying. I prayed for three things. I prayed for the pilots. I had a picture in my mind of their hands on the throttles. I asked God to guide them, to show them what to do, to guide their hands. I prayed that we would have a good landing. I asked him to put his angels around us. Then I prayed for myself. I asked God to save me. I knew that he absolutely could; I believed that he would. But, even if he didn’t save me that day, I knew that, because of Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross, it would simply be the beginning of my life with him in paradise. I felt calm assurance and focus. It was as if I was in his throne room talking to him. That time passed peacefully. Then came the landing—although the pilots were able to keep the plane fairly level, we were coming in fast and on landing, one wing touched the ground, which caused us to cartwheel. No one can imagine how terrifying and violent a plane crash is—the impact, the noise, the fireball, literally feeling the plane rip apart. It truly was a miracle that 185 of the 296 people on the plane survived as the plane broke into four parts and started burning. The explosion in the rear engine had disabled the hydraulic system. There had never been a safe landing without

hydraulics, which help regulate both the speed and steering. In thousands of attempted simulations, pilots have not been able to make it to Sioux City and land the plane, as our pilots did. I was taken to St. Luke’s Regional Hospital, where I was treated for second and third degree burns on my face and my legs. As I lay in the hospital that night, when everything had quieted down, I felt that I had survived for a reason. I was scheduled on 2 different planes that day. I had pushed to be on that plane, flight 232. One of the reasons I was on that plane was to pray the very prayer that needed to be answered to help the pilots land that plane. God answered all three of my prayers —for the pilots, the landing and for me. Fast forward: you were a pioneer—a woman in charge of a major mutual fund. Who were your mentors or role models? In the world of stock analysts in the 1980’s and 1990’s there were few women and few minorities. My mentors were all men. But they always believed that I could accomplish even more than I thought I could. It may sound cliché, but my mother has always been my role model and still is today. Both of my parents emigrated from China to the US in the early 1950’s. My mom earned a PhD in chemical physics. She worked full time while she raised five children. She is literally a rocket scientist who just retired two years ago at the age of 75. She is one of the most competent, calm and cheerful people I have ever known. Unflappable. Tireless. A woman of strong faith.


Helen celebrating a milestone birthday with her five children.

Both of my parents firmly believed that their four daughters could contribute in the same way that their son could. So I believed that I could use my gifts and abilities without limit from the time I was very young. What was it like being a Christian in a very visible position in the financial industry? I started with Janus Funds in 1987. I was good at picking stocks for the fund, so as I had success, I was promoted. Eventually I became the portfolio manager for the Janus Worldwide and Janus Overseas funds, the managing director of investments and was on the Board.

I managed over $50 billion in assets. Given my visibility, I was careful to not use my position as a personal platform. When my colleagues and I gave interviews, we kept our public personas strictly professional. We were representing our company, not ourselves. I feel like my whole career can be summarized in three words: Loaves and fishes. I believe that just as Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes, he took the abilities that I had and made them so much more than what I could have attained on my own. Every day I would ask God to help me and give me inspiration. I think my success was by the grace of God.

What about when the market crashed? The bear market of 2000–2002 was a crushing time in my career. Nothing protected us from the avalanche of selling that went on for three years. The old formulas of analyze, evaluate, model and invest didn’t work. We were working harder than ever but our efforts felt as effective as an umbrella during Noah’s flood. I felt completely useless. During that time—I redoubled my requests for help from God for inspiration, guidance, and wisdom. I didn’t get any answers. God was silent. CONTINUED ON PAGE 28

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I started questioning if I should be at Janus or if I should retire. I still wasn’t hearing anything. I would re-phrase my prayers, in case God hadn’t understood my question. Silence. This led to a lot of tension at home. I had insomnia for those three years. My husband thought I should retire. I felt responsibility to the organization, with the team looking to me for guidance

Helen with husband Matt

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and reassurance. I also cared about my shareholders—I knew many of them personally; they had entrusted their money to me and I had lost it. Mixed up in this were my feelings of wanting to vindicate myself and salvage my reputation. It was like being buried in a hole where I kept shoveling as hard as I could and every day I was buried deeper. One morning—it was like turning a light switch on—I knew it was time to go, just like that. Matt and I had started the same old argument. He said, “Tell me one reason why you need to be there.” I opened my mouth and thought I was going to give ten reasons, but I couldn’t say one word. In hindsight, my departure was perfectly timed. Three months after I left, my husband was struck with a life-threatening illness and was on ventilator. That’s another story of God’s hand in our lives that we don’t have time for here. If I had been still working, I would have had to leave in a day, rather than having time to make an orderly transition. How was your faith impacted by the market crash and God’s silence? During that time of professional agony, I never doubted God’s goodness but I did get frustrated with his silence. I was screaming for clarity and I wasn’t getting it. Later, I realized that that’s where my

faith became more real, walking through silence and the unknown and still trusting. I survived a plane crash—but that was over in an instant. Then there were three years of seeking certainty and not getting an answer. Since you left the mutual fund industry, you have been involved in philanthropic work. What are you working on? I am launching Haitian Celebration Hot Sauce. The peppers are grown in Haiti, providing local employment. All the proceeds support the ministry of Mercy & Sharing which is a 20-year-old nonprofit in Haiti with an orphanage and 3 schools for 1100 children, a clean water program, adult literacy and vocational training. I have been involved with the organization for about fifteen years. It’s exciting and scary—leaping into the unknown—at the age of 51. I am learning about sales and marketing, social media, manufacturing and the whole process. I have a great team of advisors. We have had innumerable delays and roadblocks, but our sauce will be available online this summer (haitiancelebration.com). This project will generate sustainable revenues and also raise awareness for Mercy & Sharing. ■ Carla Foote, fineprinteditorial.com, is blog manager for FullFill.

Click here to link to resources to help you think deeper or take the next step. For this article, you’ll find a PLAY IT OUT video about Helen’s crash ordeal and learn more about the ministry of Mercy & Sharing.

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Occasionally, just a drop creates a lasting change. For only $1, you can provide FullFill and The Weekly ReFill to one woman for an entire year. Please consider sponsoring a number of women to live out their influence. Go to FullFill.org and click GIVE HERE.

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Waiting to be Filled by Stasi Eldredge

I

am a hungry woman. There I said it. I’m guessing, since you are reading this, that you are a hungry woman too. So let me say right off the bat, there is no shame in that. There is no shame in being hungry, feeling empty or wanting more. In fact, it is one of the gifts of the human condition. When we are aware of our hunger, or simply of feeling empty, it is difficult to stay that way, isn’t it? It’s hard to be aware of our emptiness and feel it without trying to fix it, fill it or believe that something is wrong with us. It’s especially hard to remain feeling empty while living in a frenetic world that confuses busy, fast and full with meaning and goodness. Are you aware of the places where you are feeling empty? When you feel empty, what do you do with that? Where are you needing, hoping, and asking God to come? Jesus does not want us to run from our hunger and emptiness but to be present to it. It is into the emptiness that he came. God filled the void with light and life, but first there had to be a void to fill. He comes to us when and where there is the space for him to come. When you come home from a vacation, a sadness comes, doesn’t it? It’s more than simply a let down. Finishing a book, a season of life, a vacation, a holiday, an event, a project, an anything leaves an emptiness that begs the question—now what? What will occupy my mind, my dreams, my energy and my “have to” list? It’s easier to push into a new project rather than to sit with God in unoccupied space and simply feel it. Just be present to it. Be present to him. Ask. Listen. Join him in knowing emptiness and wait for him to come. Presence alone creates a sort of emptiness which allows for the space to notice, to be aware, to be attentive to God, to others and to your own soul.

When we are thirsty, aching or empty, rather than running from the uncomfortable feeling, the invitation from God is to wait for his breath to fill us. Breathe. Deeply. Yes, even now. In. Out. We empty our lungs of breath and then we need to be filled. Again and again. It is the rhythm of life. He is a good God who creates us in such a way that we are reminded that we need him each and every moment of our lives. Oswald Chambers said the most important thing the Christian is to do is “Maintain vital union with Christ.” It is our #1 task. It is from union with God that everything we need flows: the strength to live, the courage to endure and the joy to be present in relationships. All the life, the healing, the clarity, the counsel, the wisdom, the hope - everything we need flows from our oneness with Jesus. We are dependent creatures. He is our Daily Bread. He is our breath. He is the vine and we, the branches. We don’t have to be ashamed of that fact but embrace the truth that we are desperate creatures who are not meant to live away from the ongoing filling of our God. Doesn’t it help you stay in the hunger when you know that a feast is coming? The waiting is still hard but you know it won’t last. Our waiting will not last. There is no shame in being hungry. There is a day coming when we are going to be completely filled. A fabulous hors d’oeuvre is meant to serve as an awakener to the appetite not to quench it. An appetizer is meant to cultivate hunger by a hint of what is coming. There’s a taste, a promise. We get that. Jesus loves to awaken our longing and he does it with all kinds of things. He does it through pain, through suffering and through emptiness. He deepens our hunger through friendship, connection, joy and delight! He deepens our awareness of our need through his Word, through the love and concern and laughter of others, through the beauty of creation, and through encounters with his Presence. Don’t be afraid of your hunger. Let it lead you to the banqueting table. Let your thirst drive you to the Living Water. Your hunger, your ache, and the places where you know emptiness are actually gifts from your God to draw your heart to him, the only one who satisfies. n

Stasi Eldredge, author of Becoming Myself: Embracing God’s Dream of You and co-author with her husband John of Captivating which has sold over 1 million copies in the U.S. alone, is the director of the women’s ministry at Ransomed Heart. Stasi leads Captivating retreats in Colorado and her passion is to see lives transformed by the beauty of the Gospel and an intimate romance with Jesus Christ.

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Click here to link to resources to help you think deeper and take the next step. For this article, you’ll find Stasi talking about what it means to become yourself in a PLAY IT OUT video and in her book (purchase at the FullFill STORE to support this ministry).

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KNITTING ELEMENTS © 2014 ANN WILLEY | EYEKONS


{

resting place

}

Someone wrote, “The principal part of faith is patience,” and this applies, too, to art of all disciplines. We must work every day, whether we feel like it or not, otherwise when it comes time to get out of the way and listen to the work, we will not be able to heed it. — Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water

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Airbrushed!

I

n my Internet meanderings, I came across a Huffington Post link to “Airbrushed Celebrities.” In all but a couple of cases, those before and after photos— flaws removed, waists and thighs shrunk—created an enviable image. But there is another kind of airbrushing that happens in the church.

Some years ago I was asked to speak to a gathering of conservative Presbyterian clergy about the experiences of women. My hosts tripped over themselves to reassure those present that I wasn’t doing anything “official.” It felt like being airbrushed out of the room. In an effort to put a fine point on the matter, a couple of clergy turned their backs toward me while I was speaking (a gesture that seemed pointless to me, since they still heard every word I spoke). Instead of withering under their rudeness, I felt inspired to paint myself back into the moment. My how times have changed!

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JOHNNYMAD / iSTOCK


A feature inviting you to think through your theology. By Carolyn Custis James

I am heartened by the surge of serious female voices in evangelical circles. The publishing world, speaking circuit, academics, and the Internet are opening powerful new platforms for women. These are not just outlets for our creative energies and dreams, but strategic opportunities to participate in God’s mission for the world and for the female voice (so often missing) to engage the whole church on serious issues. This is no time for self-indulgence, but requires taking ourselves seriously and wisely stewarding these open doors. Despite the claim that the writers of Scripture were all men, the Bible hasn’t airbrushed the female voice off its pages. I still hang onto the theory that Priscilla wrote Hebrews. But that hope aside, some of the weightiest theological passages in the Bible were authored by women. Miriam and Deborah were both prophetesses with high profile leadership roles in Israel. Hannah and Mary of Nazareth lived largely behind the scenes in the private domestic sphere. All four faced frightening David and Goliath crises. Their words shape the theology of God’s people. Although we are not sure if Miriam helped compose the victory song about God’s defeat of the Egyptians (Exodus 15:1-18), Deborah, Hannah, and Mary deserve recognition as poets and writers. Miriam belonged to the company of emancipated Israelite slaves whose freedom from Egypt was shortlived. With the Egyptian army bearing down on them and the Red Sea ahead, the Israelites walked into the perfect trap. Miriam led the celebration of God’s astonishing deliverance with, “Sing to the LORD, for he is highly exalted. The horse and its rider he has hurled into the sea!”

{ think }

Deborah’s poetry (Judges 5), sung with Barak, puts God’s power on display for defeating a ruthless armed-to-the-teeth enemy with only Barak’s rag-tag volunteer army and a female civilian. Hannah’s theology deepened during years of infertility and suffering the taunts of wife number two who was bearing sons for their husband. Her psalm (1 Samuel 2:1-10) is a theological masterpiece revealing profound insight into God’s sovereignty over the ups and downs of life—from the womb to the throne. God called Mary to a perilous out-of-wedlock pregnancy. Honor killings happen. She sings her Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55) recounting God’s power and faithfulness to his people before learning how Joseph will react. These women were not writing fluff. They saw their lives in theological terms. They lived in a world where God is sovereign, stubbornly committed to his people, and powerfully advancing his purposes, even when things look their darkest. They owned their voices and spoke out of their stories. Their words stand as monuments to God’s power and faithfulness. They leave a legacy that raises the bar for all of us. We need to airbrush these women back into our own stories and draw courage from their examples to airbrush ourselves into the work God is calling us to do. n

Carolyn Custis James is involved in mobilizing women through WhitbyForum. Carolyn is the author of Half the Church: Recapturing God’s Global Vision for Women. Click here to link to Carolyn’s website or preview her book at the FullFill Shop.

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CONTEMPORARY REFLECTION By Nicole Johnson

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Learn to be Still Almost twenty years ago I saw the Eagles Reunion Tour. I was in my late twenties when I heard Don Henley sing, “Learn To Be Still.” I liked it then and I like it now. But wow, there is a vast difference in the way it speaks to me in my forties than the way it did back then. Now I hear in Henley’s voice the echo of Blaise Pascal who observed the great problem of man as not knowing how to sit quietly in his own room. Now I hear in the song not only the restlessness of the world but the restlessness in the church and even deeper, my own refusal at times to be still and quiet my soul. It seems that we will not be led by still waters, that only the rushing, thrilling ones will do—especially when it comes to ministry. I find our church culture awash in “hip” activities and “community” promising outings, but little or no intentionality toward stillness or contemplation. My children don’t like to be still either. But unless they can (even for just a few minutes) they cannot have their cups refilled, “hold it still please,” or their hurts tended to, “sweetie, be still while I put on the Band-Aid,” or even be listened to: “take a deep breath, be still, and tell me again.” As a result, God’s children have empty cups, unhealed wounds and a great fear that no one is listening to us—and are they? Is it really possible that being still and learning to sit quietly in our own rooms might be the very key to ministry? Let the shepherd lead his sheep by still waters. Let’s learn to be still. ■ Nicole Johnson is a dramatist and author. After a decade of touring with Women of Faith, Nicole founded Seasons Weekends— a place for those heavy laden to find rest for their souls (SeasonsWeekend.com). She lives in Santa Monica with her husband and two children.

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CLASSIC THOUGHT By Oswald Chambers

overflow

The Source of Abundant Joy “In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).

Paul was speaking here of the things that might seem likely to separate a saint from the love of God. But the remarkable thing is that nothing can come between the love of God and a saint. The things Paul mentioned in this passage can and do disrupt the close fellowship of our soul with God and separate our natural life from Him. But none of them is able to come between the love of God and the soul of a saint on the spiritual level. The under-

lying foundation of the Christian faith is the undeserved, limitless miracle of the love of God that was exhibited on the Cross of Calvary; a love that is not earned and can never be. Paul said this is the reason that “in all these things we are more than conquerors.” We are super-victors with a joy that comes from experiencing the very things which look as if they are going to overwhelm us. Huge waves that would frighten an ordinary swimmer produce a tremendous thrill for the surfer who has ridden them. Let’s apply that to our own circumstances. The things we try to avoid and fight against—tribulation, suffering, and persecution—are the

very things that produce abundant joy in us. “We are more than conquerors through Him” “in all these things”; not in spite of them, but in the midst of them. A saint doesn’t know the joy of the Lord in spite of tribulation, but because of it. Paul said, “I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation” (2 Corinthians 7:4). The undiminished radiance, which is the result of abundant joy, is not built on anything passing, but on the love of God that nothing can change. And the experiences of life, whether they are everyday events or terrifying ones, are powerless to “separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39). n

Taken from My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers, edited by James Reimann, © 1992 by Oswald Chambers Publications Assn., Ltd., and used by permission of Discovery House Publishers, Grand Rapids MI 49501. All rights reserved. Order My Utmost for His Highest at 800-653-8333 or dhp.org. PAUL GO IMAGES/LIGHTSTOCK

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JESSICA LEE GARDNER/LIGHTSTOCK


An invitation to find your place in this world. By Jenny Rae Armstrong

(worldly) women

Rewriting Cinderella WE ALL KNOW THE STORY. The sweet

young woman, bursting with potential, is forced to slave for her family, scrubbing potatoes while they take strolls, mending their clothes while they prepare for their futures, and curling up on the hearth to sleep, while they sleep in comfortable beds. What we may not realize is that there are millions of modern-day Cinderellas growing up in the developing world, and most of them won’t be whisked away to a castle in the clouds. I was in Western Kenya recently, speaking at a conference for local educators and church leaders committed to helping girls thrive. At lunchtime, I joined a group of high school teachers who told me about the challenges their female students face. “In our culture, people laugh if a man does domestic work. So even if a girl can go to school, she is collecting firewood on the way home while her brothers are playing with their friends. She is cooking dinner while her brothers study for exams. It puts them at a disadvantage.” Another teacher explained that in their tribe, it is taboo for girls to sleep in the same house as their father once they begin menstruating. This meant that most teenage girls were forced to sleep in the cooking hut year-round, and would come to school sore and under-slept. Worse, the girls were so eager to escape this arrangement that they were easy targets for opportunistic “Prince Charmings” who were often anything but.

Educating women and girls is considered the silver bullet of international development, and for good reason. Girls who stay in school marry later, have fewer children, and are more likely to put off childbearing until their bodies are fully mature, drastically lowering maternal and infant death rates. Studies from the World Bank show that each year of primary school a girl attends boosts her eventual wages by ten to twenty percent, and each year of high school increases her wages by fifteen to twenty-five percent, most of which she will reinvest in her family. In Sub-Saharan Africa, girls between the ages of fifteen and nineteen who attend school are five times less likely to be infected with HIV than their out-of-school peers. You can see why my teacher friends were so concerned about their students being lured away by sweet talking men with real beds. The good news is that given the chance, these girls can write their own happy endings. We can offer practical support through a variety of great organizations, but perhaps what’s needed most is for the women of the world to stand up and start telling our daughters a new kind of story; one where the invitation to the ball looks like an admissions letter, a ball gown looks like a school uniform, and Prince Charming is a hard-working, respectful young man instead of a beautiful stranger. Then, by God’s grace, we could start building a real happily ever after. n

Get More! Click here to link to programs that support education for girls.

…perhaps what’s needed most is for the women of the world to stand up and start telling our daughters a new kind of story…

Jenny Rae Armstrong is passionate about building up the body of Christ by building up women. An award-winning writer and author of Called Out: Kingdom Living for Missional Teens, she lives in Northern Wisconsin with her husband and four sons. Find her online at jennyraearmstrong.com.

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Nearly

11 billion: The amount spent by Americans on cosmetic procedures in 2012.

The percentage of people who consider a FLEXIBLE SCHEDULE

a top priority when looking for a new job, as reported in a 2013 study by Moms Corps.

45 Percent of working adults who say they would be willing to relinquish some of their salary for BETTER WORK-LIFE

quick

fill

Share the Love

If your kids’ rooms are filled with practically

BALANCE.

Everything is to be celebrated because you

new stuffed animals, consider donating them to Loving Hugs, which

never know

offers children in war zones, refugee camps, and orphanages a cuddly

when a little

new friend. Another option is to send them to Stuffed Animals for Emergencies, which donates gently used stuffed animals to homeless shelters, hospitals, and emergency aid workers—paramedics often give the soft toys to kids they meet on their calls.

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thing will be your last thing.

WOMAN BY JULIA LINGERTAT / PHOTOCASE.COM // STUFFED ANIMAL BY QN/iSTOCK

73


FOUR-LETTER WORDS are words constructed of four letters. They are perfectly good, usually innocent words. Some four-letter words come with baggage that weighs down their meaning. Often there is negativity, discomfort or stigma assigned to such otherwise interesting and usable words. As we reconsider these words and address them openly, perhaps we can reclaim these words for their contribution to our lives.

four-letter word

“In mathematics, when you add and add and add without stopping it’s called infinity. In life, when you add and add and add without stopping it’s called insanity. Something’s gotta go.” —Mary LoVerde

N PE

“Yes” equals insanity? Maybe so! Think of what your life would look like if every time you were asked to commit, volunteer or buy—you said yes. Your closets would overflow, your schedule would be out of control and there’s a chance that you’d be working both for and against something simultaneously. Insanity, to be sure. Enter “nope.” There is power in the word. It sets boundaries, conserves energy, provides prioritization. It allows us to guide children, corral commitments, limit involvement, and focus on what’s important. Yet saying nope can be scary. We’re afraid we’ll miss out, hurt feelings, or be perceived as unhelpful or disinterested. We’re concerned our boss won’t promote us, our family won’t love us and our friends won’t think highly of us. We believe the more we do the more we matter. We define our self-worth by the number of e-mails, voicemails and texts we receive each day. Our self-esteem is buoyed by the number of things on our “To Do” list and heightened by the quantity we cross off. We face choices every day. We let deadlines—and our ability to meet them—define us. We wake early and stay up late to get everything done. And sometimes, in the weary, bleary wee hours of the morning, we realize that somewhere along the way we lost ourselves. The girls who dreamt of going places and doing great things. The girls who refused to see obstacles or be discouraged. The girls who studied, and hiked and climbed without understanding the potential limitations of gender and how it affects us in adulthood. IURIIKRYVENKO/iSTOCK

As adults, we continue to strive. We fail to ask, “How much is enough?” We’re too busy to count the cost of always being on the go and looking ahead. But what if we began to use “nope,” the four-letter word that allows us to tuck a child in bed when we say no to chairing an event? That enables us to sit in front of a fireplace and stare at the flames instead of missing the sight as we make a grocery list? That lets us take a “talk around the block” with our teen or spouse who needs advice and counsel. Here’s to the relief of “nope.” Sleeping in, breakfast in bed, lazy weekend days. Here’s to taking care of an ailing family member (or maybe our own health), refusing to work evenings and weekends without an end in sight, and launching something new that makes our heart go pitter-patter with possibility. Here’s to laundry piling up a bit, leaving the dishes and procrastinating occasionally. Here’s to good books, long walks and even longer baths. Here’s to channel surfing, goofy YouTube videos and taking up a new hobby. Here’s to the challenge of “nope:” diving deeper in one chapter in the Bible, to keeping one commitment and keeping it well rather than distractedly taking on more. Here’s to turning away from temptation and toward faithfulness. In short, here’s to the word “nope.” In saying it, we may shut old doors and start new habits or open new doors and stop old habits. And we even might change the future. Ours—and those around us. n

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male box

As President/CEO of the Denver Rescue Mission, a Christian homeless shelter, Brad Meuli works with people who have hit bottom and then dug a little deeper. The shelter provides 600,000 meals and 280,000 nights of shelter annually and has also have over 200 men in its New Life Rehabilitation Program.

By Brad

Let’s face it: no one wants to end up in a homeless shelter. If you are at the Denver Rescue Mission (where I serve as president) something is wrong with your life. What is it that drives people there? I know it can be a multiple of things that cause people to be addicts but I think it is significant that 90% of the men in our New Life Program did not have a father or the father figure they did have abused them physically or emotionally. If this is the case, who raised these men? Who had to step up and take responsibility in these families? Who had to carry the load? These men’s moms and sometimes grandmothers. Before we pass any judgment on these women who have often done their very best to overcome the problems created by absent or poor male role models, let me share a story I often like to tell.  Twice a year we have a graduation from our New Life Program to celebrate someone who has been free from drugs and alcohol for the last 13 months, who has been able to get a job, find a place to live, and is entering society as a pro-

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ductive self-sufficient citizen. We call this Changing Lives in the Name of Christ. At this particular graduation, Robert, a young man graduating our program, was sitting next to me. He whispered to me, “Brad, my mom is here. Would you like to meet her?” Now I knew this was a big deal for Robert as he had been alienated from family for some time. He had done horrible things to his family, lied, cheated, and stole. In the end they had to say “no” to his destructive ways, practicing some tough love. As it turned out Robert’s sister knew about the graduation and brought his Meuli mother, without Robert’s knowledge. As the graduation ended, I descended the stage to meet her, but I did not get very far. Robert’s mom came running up the aisle and threw her hands around him. She was crying and in between her sobs she said, “I knew you were a good boy Robert. I knew you were going to make it.” At that point, I thought, “It does not get any better than this.” Yet it did. Robert turned and said, “I want you to meet Brad, he runs the Mission.” Then this little 5'2" woman hugged me tightly and begin to weep on my shoulder. She whispered words I will never forget: “Thank you for giving me my son back.” This woman, like so many others I have had the pleasure to know, never quit praying, never stopped thinking about her son, never quit thinking about how she could get him the help he needed. She did not give up because she always believed in him and knew that he was going to make it. Never underestimate the power of a woman’s impact or a woman’s love, no matter how bleak the future may be. There is always hope, as long as someone keeps hoping. n

Click here to link to resources to help you think deeper and take the next step. For this article, watch a PLAY IT OUT video of Krystol’s road to recovery from addiction.

SPRING/SUMMER 2014

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walked into the women’s restroom, finding it yawningly empty. Nice. My feet crossed the eightiesversion lumpy rosy tile and I raised my hand to push open the matching pink stall door. Why did they use this color so much? Like old-lady flesh. My movements halted as suddenly I realized I wasn’t alone after all. The stall wasn’t empty. Hunched back next to the toilet, about the height of the flushing handle, a little girl crouched with her bone-thin arms raised above her head, her hands covering her face. Her blue-gray dress was stained. White socks had lost their grip on her ankles and hung messily above her scuffed black patent leather shoes. I wondered if she needed my help. Her fine brown hair hung about her shoulders in stringy tangles. Dirty fingernails dug into her cheeks before she lowered them to reveal a Dalmatian coat of grime across her face. She looked up and locked eyes with me and I sucked in my breath under the penetration of her gaze. There was an immediate familiarity between us. Though she stayed stiffly in place, her eyes galloped to me, devouring the distance and diving into my presence. I felt a push-pull. An attraction and also a need to turn and run. My body stiffened to escape while simultaneously folding to the ground to form a tuffet for her hug. In the seeing and being seen, I realized I did know this little girl. I knew her well, though I’d never seen her in this state of need—up close and personal. She was me. Dirty. Skinny. Bruised. Needy. Broken. While this moment never actually happened in real life, the envisioning of it came real enough. During a season of multiple layers of therapy for my mind and soul, “Little Elisa” began to appear to me, bringing me the gift of my own brokenness in rainbow brite color, leaving an indentation on my try-so-hard-to-be-happy-heart. Even with all the energy I invested in therapy to heal the mess of my first broken family, broken through alcoholism

Cancelling the Shamefest and divorce and then through distance and loneliness—I never once discovered that I was incested or beaten or truly abandoned. Why did “Little Elisa” appear to me in this form? Dirty. Skinny. Bruised. Needy. Broken. BAD. Many of us—most of us?—wear the garb of shame like a second skin. In a church service, we go forward to freedom and shed the scales only to watch them literally reappear the second we shut our car door for the drive home. Like the perpetual “eye bugger” that Rosanne-Rosanna-Dan can’t shake off her finger, shame sticks and resticks to us no matter how far away we fling it. And yet, there is no place for such toxicity in the life of a follower of Christ. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 7:10: “Godly sorrow leads to repentance which leads to salvation and leaves no regret but worldly sorrow leads to death.” Unlike the “godly sorrow” that prods us to confess—and receive—our need for help from Jesus, worldly sorrow—which is shame—kills. Us. Relationships. Hopes and dreams. Potential. Jesus came to cancel the shamefest. Squeezing his godly essence into the body of a baby. Born in a dirty manger to regular human folks. Walking the dusty paths and touching the unclean with his divinity. Bending under the disrespect of religious leaders. And finally enduring the humiliating scourge of sin for our sakes. Jesus died and then conquered death in order that shame itself might be killed. So that shame can kill us no more. I’m tearing down the decorations, popping the balloons around my personal shame party. Jesus ended it and stamped CANCELLED once and for all. Instead, he looks me in the eye and smiles, inviting me to a new kind of celebration: new life. I want to join him. I think I’ll invite Little Elisa along.

Elisa Morgan PUBLISHER

SPRING/SUMMER 2014

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Spring/Summer 2014 Issue of FullFill Magazine

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