Mugs & Muffins Saturdays
Our Mugs & Muffins Meet-up for March was a celebration of International Women's Day, which is observed on March 8th, and we selected the theme #PressForProgress as our focus.
Many groups or countries select their own theme for the day, including the UN, Canada, and the InternationalWomensDay.com organization, the latter's theme as the one we've selected (which is not to be taken as an endorsement of the organization).
For information purposes, the themes chosen this year by Canada’s Status of Women is #MyFeminism, and by the UN, it's: "Time is Now: Rural and Urban Activists Transforming Women’s Lives".
Why should we, as Christian women, be involved in any activities or celebrations for International Women's Day?
To quote Crosswalk, a Christian online magazine, “As Christians though, Women’s History Month is a time to celebrate the women who came before us, defying tradition and sometimes risking their lives to impact Christianity today.“1
Furthermore, the Bible has something to say about equality & justice. Read what the prophet, Isaiah had to say in Isaiah 58:6-7.
Our discussion at Mugs & Muffins focused on six Christian women who have #PressedForProgress long before it was a hashtag or slang. Here they are:
Cher Wang came from a wealthy Taiwanese family and is the Co-founder and Chair of HTC, a consumer electronics, high-tech company. Her company is one of the top three smart-phone and tablet providers in the world, besides Samsung and Apple.
Growing up in a wealthy and well-known family, Wang has never hid under the umbrella of the family business; she started a legendary new page in Taiwanese high-tech world with her partners and claims that her success is all God's grace; known by the world to be "the wealthiest woman in Taiwan" who is always in simple athletic attire, she does not chase after brand names, and is very content in being simple and free.
She is very vocal about her faith, never afraid to discuss the ups and downs and struggles of living out her faith, "I followed my family in my belief in God and attended Sunday school and Sunday services. I got baptized at 13 years old, because I was touched during a retreat, but did not continue in the pursuit of faith. I left alone to the United States for education when I was 15 or 16 years old, and you could say that I gradually left God." She said bashfully, "I might have gone to church on Sundays, but I was mostly late, or left early, and I mostly made up stories. I knew that I needed to pray before bed, that it was important to study the scriptures, but I never seriously read the Bible through even once. You could say that my life was not really transformed."
"In this path of faith, He has let me experience a little bit of blessings at first, then gave me some trials and tribulations, and then let me experience His miraculous guidance and works; in these ups and downs/gives and takes, my faith has gradually grown. And on this day, the bigger the trials, the stronger my faith becomes and the greater the joy that comes after experiencing God. I know how intricate His intentions are and feel that I need to grasp onto His words every day," she said firmly.
Gladys Aylward (1902-1970) was a simple British woman who wanted to go to China as a missionary, but she was told that women could only serve as teachers or nurses—and she was neither. So, without official backing she used her life savings to buy a one-way ticket to China. She knew about an elderly missionary woman in China who was looking for someone to replace her but when Gladys finally did arrive in China, she was told that the missionary had moved to another village, a two-day mule ride into the mountains. So, Gladys hired a mule driver to take her there.
In China, Gladys worked first as a “foot inspector” removing bandages from the feet of Chinese girls as they used to believe it would keep their feet from growing big. After doing such a good job as the foot inspector, she was asked to calm down some prisoners who were rioting. After successfully doing that, they referred to her as the “Virtuous One”. Gladys went on to work with orphans where she rescued over 100 girls. Her work was captured in the 1958 film The Inn of the Sixth Happiness—a film that Aylward hated because it glamorized her very simple life.
Jennifer Wiseman was a senior project scientist for the Hubble Space Telescope and became the director of the Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion for the American Association of the Advancement of Science. This organization encourages communication She is active in the science and faith dialogue, and enjoys giving talks to congregations, youth groups, civic groups, and science enthusiasts on the excitement of science.
“My scientific education did not cause me to doubt what the Bible says regarding God’s authoritative involvement in creation, but I started reading a lot more, particularly books by scientists who were Christians about how they reconciled their understanding of Scripture with what they had learned scientifically about the details of nature. Some of these scientists also came to our Christian fellowship groups on campus, and it was a terrific help to me as a student to see these models of excellent scientists who were followers of Jesus Christ. I saw their reverence for Scripture and God along with their love for studying the natural world fitting together in a beautiful mosaic.
Even though I don’t experience an ultimate conflict between science and my Christian faith, I still have many unanswered questions. . . What was God doing in all those ages before these familiar parts of our world existed? . . . Was God just waiting for humans to come around? Why didn’t he create all of this instantly and just get to the point?”
Mae Jemison was the first African-American woman to be admitted into the NASA astronaut training program and the first African-American woman in space. During her eight days in space, Jemison conducted experiments on weightlessness and motion sickness on the crew and herself. In all, she spent more than 190 hours in space before returning to Earth on September 20, 1992. Following her historic flight, Jemison noted that society should recognize how much both women and members of other minority groups can contribute if given the opportunity. She is also a physician, engineer, educator, and entrepreneur.
After leaving the astronaut corps in March 1993, Jemison accepted a teaching fellowship at Dartmouth. She also established the Jemison Group, a company that seeks to research, develop and market advanced technologies and currently works on the 100 Year Starship Project which she says is “pursuing an extraordinary tomorrow to create a better world today.”
Known as the “Mother of the Modern-Day Civil Rights Movement,” Rosa Parks was a seamstress and civil rights activist who became famous for her refusal to obey a bus driver’s demand that she give up her seat to a white male. Her arrest for civil disobedience triggered the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which launched one of its organizers, Martin Luther King, Jr, to the forefront of history.
In her book Quiet Strength, Parks says this about how God helped her the fateful day she refused to give up her seat. "I felt the Lord would give me the strength to endure whatever I had to face. God did away with all my fear...It was time for someone to stand up--or, in my case, sit down. I refused to move."
Born into slavery in New York, Sojourner Truth escaped with her infant daughter and went on to become an abolitionist and women’s rights activist. In 1843, Isabella (her birth name) sensed God calling her to adopt the name "Sojourner" and travel the country sharing the gospel and her testimony. Her children were horrified at the idea, worried that a poor, illiterate former slave would not survive as a travelling speaker. Besides, women weren't supposed to speak publicly during this era, let alone former slaves. But Sojourner reassured her family that if, as she believed, the calling was from God, then He would protect her.
Sojourner was not intimidated by convention or authority. She learned to manipulate establishment institutions to effect reforms. During her lifetime she brought, and won, three lawsuits. This was very unusual for a woman, especially for an illiterate ex-slave. She retrieved her son, who had been sold illegally from New York State into slavery in Alabama. She also won a slander suit in New York City and a personal injury case after she was injured in a street car incident in Washington. D.C. She is best known for her speech on racial inequalities entitled, “Ain’t I a Woman?” which she gave at the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention in 1851.
Empowered by her religious faith, the former slave worked tirelessly for many years to transform national attitudes and institutions. According to Nell Painter, Princeton professor and Truth biographer, "No other woman who had gone through the ordeal of slavery managed to survive with sufficient strength, poise and self-confidence to become a public presence over the long term."
Some photos from Saturday's Mugs & Muffins Meet-up:
The sweet smell of incense can make you feel good, but true friendship is better still. Proverbs 27:9 (CEV)
After combing through hundreds of definitions and stories about sisterhood, and based on my own experience of having godly “sister-friends”, and doing ministry with all of you this past year, I’m sharing my understanding of what it means to have a sisterhood community.
Sisterhood is a bond that exists between women who are not related biologically, but who share an exceptionally strong connection as they do life together, sharing in the ups and downs, all the while enabling each other to thrive because of the connectivity of their relationships – relationships that are pure, and truthful, and authentic, and organic. In other words, real relationships. Relationships that are a way of life!
The Apostle Paul talks about the value of those types of relationships. In Titus 2, Paul instructs groups of people, through his letter to Pastor Titus, on how they ought to model proper behavior and he provides us, women, with some specific instructions on how we ought to mentor younger women. Before you discount this statement as not pertaining to you, let me say that no matter our age, we all know a younger woman.
Here’s the passage:
3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.
This short passage can take a long time to fully grasp and an even longer time to actualize in real life. We may never entirely get all of it, but we can definitely give it a good try. Do not be mistaken, ladies, we need each other to grow and to be successful in what we’ve been called to do by God.
A while back, God placed it on my heart that I needed to develop some healthy, godly female friendships which I intentionally sought out. It also meant that I had to let go of some unhealthy relationships that were not adding value to my spiritual walk. Of course, not all my friends are Christians, but I’ve learnt the importance of choosing how to spend my time wisely and to focus on things that are life-giving and setting limits on the other things.
How may God be speaking to you through Titus 2:3-5?
Paul wrote this letter to Titus as he (Titus) was pastoring a small, struggling church on the island of Crete and while his church was living under the oppressive Roman Empire and the evil leader, Nero who wanted to get rid of all Christians. Imagine living under that kind of persecution!
Yet, in that context, Paul was instructing them to persevere and lead godly, exemplary lives as a model for the younger women (and men) in their community. Our oppression today may not be as obvious, or it may be, depending on your perspective. The point is that we have opportunity, under somewhat better circumstances to carry out these instructions.
Our women’s ministry has been gifted to us by a God who loves us dearly and desires the best for us. AW Women’s Ministry exists to provide opportunities for the women in our church family and our community to authentically connect with each other and to have a deeper understanding of the value of healthy, godly friendships. This is not only important in our own lives, but it is essential for the life of the church and for our mission as ambassadors for Christ. The different gifts we've received through the Holy Spirit enable us to be a source of strength and encouragement to our “sisters” during difficult times. What a blessing the women in my life have been when I’ve felt lost or overwhelmed!
Our Secret Sisters ministry, as a vital part of AW Women’s Ministry, is not simply a program; it is a lifestyle that we hope you have developed over the past year as you have prayed for your “sister” and observed her life unfold through the veil of those faithful prayers. Now, you have the chance to “reveal” yourself to her and deepen that relationship face-to-face.
Enjoy this gift; nurture this new friendship. Perhaps you’ve been paired with an older woman from whom you can learn some things about life. Perhaps it’s a younger woman to whom you can pass on some nuggets of wisdom. Perhaps it’s a fairly equal match where you can share your experiences and begin to build a true friendship. Some of us are extroverts, some are introverts, some are serious, some are funny. It is precisely these uniqueness that make for interesting friendships. But, be mindful that it will take time to build. Lasting friendships aren’t built overnight; they take years, so be patient!
“True sisterhood cannot be forced. It has to be developed with interest, patience, reciprocity and over time. Not every woman will be your best friend, nor should she be invited to be in your inner circle, but every woman is deserving of your respect and support when you are able to provide it. Sisterhood is not a trite word we throw around. Being your sister’s keeper should be a reflex. It should be based on how you would want to be treated if you were walking in her shoes. Sisterhood knows no boundary, no race, no class or geography. Sisterhood transcends, and it transforms us for the better. Sisterhood is from the heart."1
By: Sue Bloomfield & Yolande Knight
Enjoy another Carole King classic in which she joined a few “sisters”, Celine Dion, Gloria Estefan and Shania Twain to sing - “You’ve Got a Friend”
“FATHERS & DAUGHTERS"
“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7 NIV)
We are thrilled to honour the fathers in our church family with this special blog featuring answers to a series of questions we posed to one of our dad’s. As a father of a daughter (and two sons), two daughters-in-law and four granddaughters, Neil understands the father-daughter bond. Here he shares some of his insights and experiences.
Where did you get your parenting ideas from?
How unaware was I of the amazing experiences or the huge responsibility that awaited me as I held our first child for the first time! Born to Pat and me, on November 16,1983 was a beautiful and healthy baby girl, we named Noriko. Pat and I were both dentists trained at university to pursue this career however we received no formal training to be parents.
My parents were both second generation Japanese-Canadians, and raised us with a goal of providing lots of opportunities to succeed. My dad worked hard to support us and was involved in our sports activities by coaching or just being there. He was loyal to his family, didn’t verbally teach us but we learned from his example. My mom, well, she was always there meeting all our needs by her actions in a gentle way. That experience in my family was the basis of the idea that one day I wanted to get a job, get married and be a father.
Pat and I both became Christians while at dental school. For me that was in 1976 and from that moment on I became very aware that God had a plan for my life which initially confirmed I was to be a dentist. I was so relieved that I began to turn to Him for guidance on other areas of life like getting married, where to live, where to go to church, when to have kids. When Noriko came, I had already experienced a dental situation where I was afraid. I was desperate and turned to God and He was there for me. I was also involved as a leader in our church’s youth group and was becoming aware of the responsibility parents have in providing an environment where God is first. I was burdened by the desire to see our kids come to faith as I believed that a sincere faith in God would be their best chance of navigating through life successfully and making good choices.
How did you see your role as dad influence them in that regard?
Somehow, I knew that to be Noriko’s dad, I would need all the help I could get. I realized that I had to be intentional in my role as a father and found books, tapes and, courses on raising children. As well, we hung out with other families who shared our concerns. As I grew as a Christian, the Bible became central in my life and verses such as Deuteronomy 6:6-7 (quoted above) and Proverbs 22:6 (NET) “Train a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not turn from it. “had huge impacts.
I knew that if our children were to see the importance of faith, my faith had to be sincere and I had to share with them how much I needed God. I couldn’t rely on the church to do it all. I recall reading something that said something along the line of, “what you learn in the first six years of life lays a deep foundation” and I recognized that our impact, as parents was definite.
We began to have nightly devotions, we supported our kids in all their activities and with Noriko, I started to have “daddy-daughter dates”. During our family times, we talked about their behaviour, their attitudes and related them to pleasing God. Teaching about forgiveness as a life time activity was important. It was while doing this that I realized I couldn’t teach what I didn’t do myself. Hey, I wasn’t a perfect parent and at times, I had to say I was sorry and ask for their forgiveness, sometimes to a 3-year-old.
The reality is that there is a freedom in knowing what’s the right thing to do, even if it is difficult to do. There is an even greater freedom when you do it! Another reality is that your kids will eventually see what you really believe is important. It begins when they see how we are spending our time. Are we spending enough time with them?
I became very intentional about being organized so I could be home to participate in our kids’ activities and to just be there. I even sacrificed some of my own activities. Something significant happened as a result: I learned more about our kids as I observed how they responded to the situations that arose in their activities. For example, I witnessed their discovery of fairness, their fulfilment of doing something they didn’t think they could, their disappointments, giving up, selfishness, selflessness, etc.
How do you think the “father-daughter” relationship affect the daughter as she walks into adulthood?
May I share my story to help answer this question?
When Pat was pregnant with our first child, deep down I really wanted a girl and God blessed us with Noriko. She became special for many reasons as we watched her blossom. She loved being a little girl; so, dresses, dolls and, playing house were parts of her world of imagination. At the same time, she was right in the middle of a ball hockey game. She loved being the big sister to her two brothers who would do anything with her. As she grew older, she traded in her ballet costume for hockey equipment getting tired of just watching her brothers. She always had friends but her family was important. We shared special “father-daughter dates.” Somehow, I was aware when Noriko was a child that I was the first man to take her seriously and that my attention to her would someday influence who her choice of the second man would be. How I responded to situations was therefore influenced by that awareness.
Case in point: Piano practice at age 8. It was a daily struggle to encourage, push and yet know when to stop and not exasperate Noriko. I certainly didn’t have all the answers. So much seemed to depend on her mood, her state of fatigue, what else was on her mind etc. She seemed to think she was right when sometimes she wasn’t and when I corrected her she often disagreed.
As she got older she did start to grow up. At 14 she wrote me this note: “I want you to know that I am trying to accept the fact you won’t always be there for me because of baseball. I love you in spite of everything. Love Noriko ps. Please don’t coach summer baseball. HaHa”
Noriko reflected on the value of life including the people in her life; this she expressed well on Hallmark cards and I always looked forward to Father’s Day. On Father’s Day in the year she was to be married she wrote: “You were the best daddy in the world, a great friend and now tied for # 1 in important men in her life.”
I do believe how we treat our daughters influences the kind of person they look for in a husband. They want to be loved and cared for unconditionally and, to be in a secure relationship. This fact is mentioned often in some of those parenting books I used to read and those that dealt with the importance of the father–daughter relationship. As well, a healthy marriage influences the security of our daughters as they begin their own adult lives.
At some point, we have all messed up as parents. What do you say to parents who are struggling in their relationships; is there hope?
I want to emphasize that there is hope, no matter how badly we have messed up. We all have weaknesses which also show up while we parent. This lets everyone down; therefore, the challenges in parenting will give us opportunities to see something about ourselves.
To begin, harmonious relationships within a family are one of God’s richest blessings. Think about that statement. How strongly you believe that will influence how you respond to your situation. I have read this to be true from those older than me, believed it and desired it especially when we faced our challenges.
Secondly, believe God knows the situation so, cast that care upon Him because He cares about you and is waiting with open arms. (1 Peter 5:7) Acknowledge that you are helpless and need help, His help. This is a good place to start because you are also acknowledging responsibility in the relationship and that you are in part responsible for it’s present condition.
God has a plan for you as He did for me. Apologize and ask for forgiveness without expectation. This is unconditional love. Be on a journey of asking God to reveal how He wants to change you. Our personal growth gives us teaching opportunities to share how we need God to help us be better parents. Then, commit more time to your relationship so you can get to know your kids better. I understand that depending on the age and situation this can be easier or more difficult. Finally turn to a friend who shares your concern, to trusted and godly parents within your church family, or otherwise, or turn to your pastor.
Finally consider this: you are giving your daughter a process for dealing with struggles that she will face both now and in the future and perhaps even the confidence to enter one. I’d say that is a gift; don’t you?
By: Neil Fukumoto
“MOTHERS & DAUGHTERS"
For this week’s post, we asked some of our mothers and daughters to finish a simple sentiment: “I value my mom/(in-law) or daughter/(in-law) because _____.” We are thrilled to share these beautifully expressed sentiments with you.
We are also featuring a glimpse into a mother-daughter relationship from Pastor Lynda.
First, here’s what some of our moms and daughters had to say:
"I value my daughter-in-law (Leslie) because she has such a zest for life, puts God first and has an attitude of gratitude.” ~ Bev C
“I value my daughter-in-law (Jen) because she’s an incredible mom and her children are loving, brave and independent. She has taught them to love the world and to learn and explore.” ~ Bev C
"I value (love) my mother-in-law (Bev) because she has the biggest heart and is always thinking of others". ~ Leslie C
“I value my mom because of her selflessness, generosity and supportive nature. I truly admire her unwavering faith in the good of all people.” ~ Jen C
Bev, Leslie & Jen
“I value my daughters because - well I looked up the definition of what it means to value a person and synonyms of value. There is so much I could say why I value my daughters… I value how they have always, from a young age, shown no partiality to people around them, they have always been caring and there for their friends. They have stood for what they believe in and have grown into caring, giving, beautiful young ladies. God has blessed me with two wonderful daughters.” ~ Carol W
"I value my mom because she selflessly cares for my sister and myself as well is a person who is always available for advice even for the little things like finding Oxo in the grocery store." ~ Amanda W
Carol & Amanda
“I value my daughter because she is continuously determined to strive to be the best person she can be.” ~ Lisa J
“I value my mom because her strength with mental illness and everyday living is tremendous! She is the most loving person, always giving unknown people a chance. She inspires me to continue on with my own life journeys no matter the struggle!” ~ Sheena T
Lisa & Sheena
“I value my daughter because - Pamela is caring, conscientious and thoughtful and she is raising two lovely 'grand'children.” ~ Myrna S
“I value my mother because she is caring and attentive to all of her children. She is especially interested in each of her grandchildren, near and far. She is available when anyone needs her.” ~ Pam S
Myrna & Pam
“I value my daughters-in-law because they are truly a gift from God, not blood related but so very special to me in such a way that I can talk freely to them about anything and everything ... they have helped me cultivate the most amazing bond that I have with my 5 grandchildren. I love them dearly.” ~ Sue B
“I value my mother- in-law because she always promotes, models and values love and acceptance. There are ways that we are so similar and ways that we are so different and she goes out of her way to show her love in both aspects. I feel so blessed to have such an incredible role model and support in Sue. 🌸❤️🌸” ~ Emily B
“I value my mother-in-law because she is the true definition of a mother, she is always there to give advice, love, support, encouragement, strength, kindness, and warmth to myself, and to her entire family.” ~ Vanessa B
Sue, Emily & Vanessa
“I value my daughter because of her authentic inner beauty, her honesty, strength of character, perseverance, support and passion for living a whole and healthy life. Every day, I thank God for gifting her to me.” ~ Yolande K
“I value my mom because she’s always there for me. Whether it’s a listening ear, for a movie night, or for just a hug in silence when I’m sad, my mom is always there. I’m so blessed to have my mommy – she’s truly amazing! ~ Yelena K
Yolande & Yelena
“WHAT IT MEANS TO HAVE A DAUGHTER”
All I ever wanted as a child was to be a wife and mother. The birth of our first son brought more joy and satisfaction to me than I ever thought possible. I felt my life was complete but it wasn’t long after that I knew I wanted another child. I really believed that no child should have to be an only child as I had been. I was certain that our second baby would be a girl; my mother even began knitting in pink. Nine months passed quickly with joyful anticipation. Surprise, surprise—our second son was born.
Several years went by and I dreamed of a little girl but thought it was never to be. November 30th arrived very early at the Sinclair household. By 5 a.m., for the first time I was witnessing birth from very close quarters. The joy and astonishment of our daughter’s arrival still leaves me in awe.
So, what did it mean to have a daughter?
It meant a closet full of tiny dresses. Very quickly it meant someone to giggle with over cute kittens and cuter babies, cute bugs, and soon cute boys.
Our daughter wanted to wear my clothes, use my makeup, she ruined my nylons and shared in my baths and wanted to marry my husband, and live forever with her big brothers!
Having a daughter meant trying to master French braids (which I never did manage to do with any level of proficiency), and pony tails, and big bows on frilly dresses.
At 8 years of age that daughter began going out on “dates” with her father. She wore all her best clothes, dad ordered flowers, made “reservations” and held car doors and off they’d go to a fancy restaurant where Dad had told the staff the circumstances so they would make a great fuss over the “young lady”. We hoped that Dad was setting a high standard for the young men yet to come.
As a teen, she agonized over what to wear on a date and begged for my approval and then changed her mind because if mom liked it then it must be all wrong!
Our daughter begged to be taught how to use the sewing machine. She wanted to be taught how to cook. Poor pity me who tried to teach her how to put in a zipper, make cream sauce or boil a potato.
By the time she became a teenager, our daughter wanted very little to do with mom or dad; we had become old fashioned and out-of-date. Family outings were only tolerated and very little enjoyment was ever admitted unless the outing involved shopping and money being spent on her.
She wanted to go to school in England and Europe and hardly looked back once she boarded the airplane. However, she called home often and talked for hours with an openness not seen since Junior High. She even asked me to come to Europe and travel with her for Spring Break. On that trip, one experience showed me just how much she needed mom as she chose to sleep in a single bed with me, though her own bed was a mere foot away, when we spent time in a particularly seedy budget hotel in Paris. It didn’t completely stop her from wanting her own space and regularly going off on her own, but it was reassuring to be needed.
Years went by and our daughter married and moved to Seattle. In the beginning, there were constant phone calls asking how to make cream sauce and how to cook potatoes. “Do I remove those pointy things? (Where was she when I was trying to show her these things?) How do I thread the sewing machine? How do I know if I have chicken pox? What should I wear to the party? What do I say to the landlord? What do I say to my boss?”
The years are going by. Our daughter is an amazing homemaker and wonderful cook. I regularly call to ask her for recipes. She can do more with potatoes than I ever dreamed. Her many sauces and dressings leave me salivating. She has managed to teach her children to navigate the kitchen with more expertise than I ever thought possible. Her 12-year-old son, our grandson, is even a whiz in the kitchen. She gives me advice on what I should wear. She is a great source of suggestions for home decorating. She is so organized! I wish I could be like her. I cherish her advice on so many things and it was our daughter who came from Seattle and sat with me as we watched my own mother dying and cried with me as I got the call that my mom had gone.
My dream of motherhood has been fulfilled. It has had many challenges but also delights beyond measure. I praise the Lord for granting me my childish longing. All of our children are the joy of our lives. Their spouses and children are wonderful miracles that we have been granted. We thank the Lord continually for placing all these amazing people in our lives.
By: Lynda Sinclair
At our Mugs & Muffins Saturdays, women are encouraged to share the stories behind their mugs with the group of women where they sit. Each grouping of women select the name of one mug story-teller to be placed in a draw for a prize.
Here are their stories:
APRIL'S WINNER - Charlane MacKenzie
"The prize really belongs to my friend, Shirley Bolduc, who insisted that no matter how boring my mug story actually was, I would make up a good story if my name was drawn. That tells you something about how well we know each other. Now that I think about it, we've been friends since 1990, encouraging each other to take courses and attend Bible studies. One evening, when we were meeting at a home Bible Study, we had sneaked into the kitchen to chat and another member caught us in the kitchen and commented that we must be friends outside of Bible Study and probably didn't see each other often. We broke into laughter because we actually worked together five days a week (which is how we had first become friends) and had just come from work!
This is just a "Second Cup" travel mug that a friend of mine pressed into service for his mother when we took her out for weekly drives. She is now 93 years old and a water or tea drinker, but back then, she "needed" an hourly coffee fix. Now that she doesn't need it, I have reacquired this travel mug. It reminds me of her. " - Charlane MacKenzie
“THOUGHTS ON THE PROVERBS 31 WOMAN”
'Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised'. (Proverbs 31:30 NIV)
I love that picture of the Proverbs 31 Woman. However, the P31 woman also is married, cooks a lot, sews and has big arm muscles. I'm sure these are all tremendous assets in an agrarian society.
My question is this...how did the P31 woman become the standard-bearer of what a Christian woman should be? We have books, sermons and a P31 ministry. Why isn't there a Song Of Songs 6 ministry (Your teeth are like a flock of sheep coming up from the washing...)? It doesn't seem any less arbitrary than praising a woman who spins flax.
We need to be very cautious about over emphasizing individual parts of Scripture, and here's why...
- All Scripture is God-breathed. That is foundational to our faith, yet most women I know just roll their eyes when you mention 'P31', because of the way it has been elevated.
- Homemaking is a real gift. If you've met someone with this gift, it is VERY obvious. Many of us are homemakers, but not all of us have the gift. To expect otherwise is to reduce the value of the gift.
- We are PART of the body of Christ. If we already had all the gifts, we wouldn't need each other.
Here's my idea...the next time someone tries to pigeon hole you into a stereotype of a Christian woman, tell them that you are a “2 Corinthians 5 Woman” - Christ's ambassador, or an “ Isaiah 61 Woman” - anointed to proclaim good news to the poor, or find a verse that speaks especially to you.
The Proverbs 31 woman is 'honoured for all that her hands have done', which is a good thing. Even better will be the 'well done, good and faithful servant' that we receive from the Lord.
In case you are unfamiliar with this theoretical woman, or need a recap, read it here.
I do not believe that it was ever God’s intent for us, as women, to try to fit the mold of the so-called “Proverbs 31 Woman”. I submit that this model woman came about as a result of the western church's and culture's attempts at establishing rules around what it perceived as the ideal Christian woman. In Jewish culture, men actually memorize Proverbs 31 as a song of praise to the women in their lives; it is not an expectation that they become one. In our culture, women believe that if they are not measuring up to this standard, they are somehow a failure.
Rather than focusing on Jesus, who is our standard, the modern church adapted Proverbs 31 into a set of rules and turned it into a religious checklist.
Understanding Scripture is largely about culture and context and the interpretation of Proverbs 31 as commonly held by many is not universal. For starters, most scholars believe that the Proverbs 31 Woman is not a real woman. In fact, some scholars have suggested that the “Proverbs 31 Woman” is a combination of the commendable qualities of several different women. (Read about that here) Still others believe that she is the epitome of wisdom. (Read about that view here) It is worth noting that throughout the book of Proverbs, wisdom is referred to as “she” and Proverbs 31 is seen as the culmination of all the wisdom that its main writer, King Solomon, was passing on to his son.
Have you considered that if this was truly God’s standard for women, He probably would have ensured that Mary (Jesus’s mother) was clearly identified as such. Or He would have chosen a few “Proverbs 31 Women” to be in Jesus’ lineage rather than pagan Ruth or Rahab, the harlot. I’m just saying…
The Bottom line: both men and women can apply the wisdom listed in Proverbs 31 to our daily lives. For instance, we can be earnestly:
- Seeking God first such as waking up early and beginning our day with God.
- Loving others, being kind, truthful and loyal.
- Working diligently as unto God.
- Seeking ways to enrich our lives and growing in God’s Word rather than remaining stagnant.
- Not giving up when we encounter difficulties and learning to trust God to direct our paths.
- Seizing opportunities that are before us rather than waiting for perfection.
- Having respect for ourselves in the way we behave, dress, and conduct ourselves as image-bearers of God.
In the end, we can have the assurance that God loves each one of us exactly as we are; that He rejoices over us with singing and there is nothing we can do to make Him love us more.
Rest in the assurance that no matter how you see yourself, God sees you as His Beloved Daughter and He knows your name. Enjoy these stories of women experiencing redemption shared through Francesca Battistelli’s song, He Knows My Name.
By Bethany Breault & Yolande Knight
“WHY ARE PEOPLE SO DIFF
For You formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:13-14a ESV)
Let’s face it; there is no anxiety like people anxiety! Strained or broken relationships can be the source of great hurt in our lives as relationships can either put the wind in our sails or they can suck the wind out of our sails. It is often a challenge trying to successfully navigate our various networks of human relationships which is perhaps why we end up concluding that people are difficult.
Admit it; you have made that comment a time or two in your life. It’s such a popular human issue that hundreds of books have been written on the topic with almost no variation to the titles; if you don’t believe me, conduct a Google search and see for yourself.
What if we didn’t view people as difficult but simply different?
God created us uniquely and that means that we are different. Speaking to Jeremiah, God said; “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb.” (Jeremiah 1:5a NLT) Most of us are familiar with Psalm 139: 13-14 , those verses that speak of us being “fearfully and wonderfully” made. If we believe that to be true for ourselves; then it must also be true for everyone else.
So how might a constant awareness of that fact change the way you treat others?
Scripture has much to say about our differences, in terms of religion, ethnicity, gender, culture, tribe, politics, society, and economics. Moreover, Paul, in the New Testament talks at length about our differences as individuals, urging us to use those differences for the sake of the body of Christ. Paul says that we are what we are and that we have been given specific gifts with measured amounts of grace. (Romans 12:6, 1 Corinthians 15:10)
It’s no wonder that scientists have found human dynamics to be such a fascinating field of study and why they have developed models of human behaviour and categories of personalities. These studies assist us, laypeople, in getting to know ourselves better, providing useful tools for us to achieve the most effective results with others.
Though not scientific, I thought it would be fun to look at some of the similarities in the people we know and the main characters from the Winnie the Pooh series. Won’t you play along?
Christopher Robin is the “human” in the story with a wonderful imagination (vision) that brings this cast of characters to life. Though he is not always available, he is the one who has all the answers when the animals are unable to figure things out and guides them out of some tricky situations.
Pooh Bear is the star of the show and rather absentminded, focused on one thing -honey - at the expense of everything and everyone else. But he is such a pleasant "person" to be around with the most reassuring voice.
Piglet is the worrier but he is loving and thoughtful, frequently finding ways to demonstrate his consideration for others. All he needs is a reassurance that things will turn out alright.
Though Eeyore is known for being negative and gloomy, if you observe his "personality", you find that he is very kind and places a high value on friendships.
We can’t forget Rabbit whom I call “Mr. Know-it-all”. Rabbit thinks that he has the best solution to any problem the gang may have created but they can definitely count on him to come up with a plan and fix things.
Yet my favourite character is Tigger (that’s T-I-Double Guh-Er) because of his optimism and the fact that he is always in a great mood but we all know that he often acts without thinking which lands him into some dicey predicaments.
Although they are very different, together, the variety of their personalities allows us to enjoy the many adventures of Winne the Pooh and see things from different perspectives. How dull the show would be if they were all the same!
How dull life would be if we were all the same and did things in the same way!
I believe that God expects us to celebrate our differences (Ephesians 2:13-22). That’s why He made you to be you and not an imitation of someone else. You were given the specific makeup and limitations that He gave you (Psalm 139:13), you were born at the time and place that He determined and you live where He has planted you (Acts 17:26) with a specific purpose (Ephesians 2:10). Rather than dwell on the differences around us, let us live in harmony with one another as the Bible instructs us – Romans 12:16.
Enjoy this throwback by Acapella Kids – Living in Harmony.
Yolande Knight – firstname.lastname@example.org