Thursday, December 23, 2021

Christmas Reflections



The countdown to Christmas is nearly complete! The planning, shopping, baking, cleaning, and gift-wrapping will soon give way to hugs and laughter as families gather to make a new set of memories. We have asked our National Women of Worth Committee to reach back into Christmas past and retrieve a personal tradition or story to share with you. Go ahead and fix yourself a cup of peppermint hot cocoa, grab your favorite plush throw, and spend a few moments reflecting with us.

Reva Campbell - Loveland, Ohio
During our ministry time to students from God's Bible School, the Lord began to give me a special burden for the Asian students. It wasn't long before the door of opportunity opened. Every weekend our home was filled with international students from GBS, the University of Cincinnati, and Xavier University.  
It was the Christmas of 1992, and as usual our home was open for those who could not return to their own homes for the holidays.  Our twenty-one guests were from Taiwan, South Africa, India, China, Bahamas, and Grand Cayman.  Our home was full, or so I thought.  Then Ivy, one of our Taiwanese girls, came to me and said, "Mom, my friend from Hobe Sound wants to come for Christmas.  Can she come?" "Why sure," I replied.  What was one more in our already crowded quarters? Soon the day of her arrival came, and much to my surprise four girls showed up! They were an amazing group. They were content with all the inconveniences we shared. 
I had already purchased two gifts each for the girls.  I began asking the Lord for another gift for each of them. On the Saturday before Christmas, I went to a local flea market. There was the third gift - red blouses for $2 each. I bought a blouse for each girl and one for myself. 
One of the Christmas traditions at our house is that we read the Christmas story while the children act it out. Then we open our gifts beginning with the youngest and moving to the oldest.  When the time came for our oldest guest to open her gifts, she was awestruck and couldn't move.  All of the girls were overwhelmed.  They had never been given Christmas gifts! It was truly a "God moment." What a blessing it was sharing Christmas with those whose heritage involved ancestral and Buddha worship! What a privilege it was to lead several of these young people to Jesus! Serving Jesus is an awesome journey! 
P.S. We all wore our red blouses and went for lunch at the revolving restaurant in the Cincinnati area (At that time, lunch was affordable there).

Missy Miller -  North Lawrence, Ohio
Christmas baking is one of my favorite traditions! I've loved this age-old tradition since Gerald and I were married in 1998. Over the years, it has become much more than just "baking." It has become a way for our family to say, "Merry Christmas." 
On the weekend before Christmas, we package up many containers of homemade cookies, bars, and candies to deliver to Gerald's tenants.  Some of them are in heartbreaking, hopeless situations and have very little love in their lives.  When we began the tradition years ago, we thought we were just giving them Christmas treats. Over the years, we've realized the impact of this act of kindness.  One just never knows what a small gift of love will mean to a lonely heart at Christmas!

Ruth Nichols - Lima, Ohio
One of the greatest Christmas traditions we have enjoyed for many years is our family gathering. My parents had six children, and three of the six got married during the summer of 1974. Two others were already married by that time, and the youngest was still living at home. My parents were living in Florida at the time, and we knew we were really going to have to put forth an effort to make the family reunions a reality. We agreed to work with our in-law families for a rotation of alternating the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.  For the past 45 years, we have carried that tradition.  Our first holiday was held in Florida with mom, dad, six children, five in-laws, and five grandchildren.  When our parents moved to Ohio, so did the reunion.  
This year, Mom is in Pennsylvania, and the family has grown to 19 grandchildren, their spouses, and over 60 great-grandchildren! Although the reunion will still happen this 46th year for those who can attend, some of us will not be able to make it due to distance and employment duties. We cherish the memories of decades of family fun and laughter and watching the cousins bond with one another.  When we taste the sweet glaze of a Honey Baked ham or take a slice of cranberry ring with an extra spoonful of cream cheese filling, we will remember the warmth of family tradition and long for the time when we are together again.

Lorena Glick - Massillon, Ohio
Thinking about a Christmas to remember, my mind goes back to the 1980's in Papua New Guinea.  We were back in the bush, and my Sunday School children had never done a Christmas drama. When I told them we were going to do the Christmas story, they were so excited! They were to come to the mission station on Saturdays when the sun was straight up in the sky.  Remember, they didn't have watches or clocks! 
We started our practices and excitement was running high. Even the boys that were home from Bible school were joining in! We had no props, no fine costumes, so I did what I had to do.  I gathered my towels for headpieces, my sheets for angel costumes, and my housecoats for shepherds outfits. 
Finally, it was presentation Sunday.  The kids were all fancied up in their "nice" costumes. My heart was so touched as I started to read the Christmas story. All in the congregation were so attentive and the children were doing a splendid job acting. I looked over at the shepherds as the angels were coming to announce the wonderful news, and to my surprise, the shepherds had built a fire in the middle of the wooden floor in our church! Smoke was rising!  By this point in the Christmas story, I was so touched that I let the fire go and trusted that the church wouldn't burn down as they acted their part.  Then they put the fire out and quickly took off to see the Savior! I'm sure the charred spot was in the floor for many years, and it is probably still there! I have fond memories of the Christmas where a group of precious young people from Baiyer River gave the most wonderful story ever told.

Debra Gaskins - Shelbyville, Indiana
Several years ago, I heard about Operation Christmas Child, a ministry led by Franklin Graham and Samaritan's purse. Operation Christmas Child delivers shoeboxes full of Christmas gifts to children in impoverished countries, and as they deliver gifts, they offer the Gospel.
I shared the project with my nephews, and we packed a few shoeboxes the first year and dropped them off at a participating church. As I learned more about the ministry, I involved my Jr. Sunday School class and our number of shoeboxes grew.  The teens soon joined in, and for the last few years, the entire church has participated! Our highest number of boxes packed so far is 167!
Our church's shoeboxes have been delivered to Mexico, Burkina Faso, Togo, Botswana, and Zimbabwe.  This year's boxes are being shipped to Benin and Ukraine.
In preparation, we shop for bargains all year, looking for special gifts to bless children who we will never meet.  Our church loves this outreach and looks forward to the "Shoebox Packing Party" each year.  The boxes are packed by every age group!

Cheryl Watters - Cincinnati, Ohio
My favorite Christmas memory quickly comes to mind, and is centered around the Christmas tree.  My sister's birthday is December 11th, so our tradition was to go out on her birthday and cut down our Christmas tree. My favorite was when I was a teenager and we drove out toward mid-Michigan and found a tree farm that had a team of horses pulling a wagon.  My dad would get a saw from the office, and we would all pile on the wagon and the horses would pull us out to cut down our favorite tree.  Dad would cut it, then we would all have to pull it back to the path where the horses and wagon were waiting to take us back up to the front of the farm. 
Taking our tree home and setting it up was always so exciting! We loved our tree, and we were faithful to make sure it was watered.  Mom always hung our favorite, homemade ornaments.  In the evening, we would turn off all the lights and have devotions by light of the tree. We always dreaded taking the tree down because of all the pine needles that would end up in the carpet. Mom was very wise and gave each of us a little bucket.  She paid us a penny for every needle we would pick up!  She made out pretty well on that deal, but it got the job done!

Valorie Quesenberry - Cincinnati, Ohio
One of the Christmas memories that comes to mind is one that took place when I was a preteen and my family was in evangelism. This particular year, we were in meetings in the fall and the Christmas season was approaching.  My mother was very staunch in her commitment to keeping Christmas music and decor for after Thanksgiving, but this year as the weather chilled and we kids were so excited, she relented just a bit and let us play one of our eight track cassettes (remember those?) and also let us purchase and display a small ceramic tree in our travel trailer. My brother even scrounged around in his little treasure stash and wrapped a small gift for each member of the family!
My mother was the master designer of Christmas at our house.  When the time was right, she would go into the attic and pull down boxes of things we only saw once a year, including all our childhood Sunday School tree ornaments and other bits she had saved through the years. Our home was awaft in the delicious smells of Christmas cookies, peanut brittle, divinity and other good things.  I learned early about the gift of Jesus that God gave to the world, and, because my parents were very focused on making Jesus the center of everything, this wonderful knowledge was the anchor of all the festivities and gave them all meaning. As I have grown and had my own family, there are traditions that my husband and I have instituted.  Stories we like to hear again and again and requisite recipes that we love to munch and shopping and gifting traditions. 
And why is Christmas so centered on tradition and memory? I think it's because Christmas and home are closely melded. In our modern understanding of this holiday, we can't imagine one without the other. Yet, Jesus left His home to come to earth so that one day we may share His. The mystery of this event continues to wrap everything we do with the warmth and love that we so cherish!

Stephanie Burley - Lima, Ohio
My earliest and most favorite memories are of the holiday season. I grew up in a pastor's home, and although I loved our church family dearly - and still do, I often missed being with my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Thanksgiving and Christmas were two of the high points of my year.  One year we would spend Thanksgiving with my paternal grandparents in Greenup, Illinois, and Christmas with my maternal grandparents in Cincinnati, Ohio. The next year, we would alternate. Each family gathering had its own uniqueness, but I loved each of them so much!  
While in Cincinnati, the cousins would often take walks from my grandmother's three story house on Erie Avenue up to Hyde Park square. As little girls, we'd sometimes dash through the boutiques and act like we had the money or the maturity to be a shopper. We always performed a spontaneous Christmas play on the landing of the entry staircase before a grand audience.  And we played and ate so intensely that one or more of us usually ended up sick.  
While in Greenup, we loved to walk the streets in the village and visit the general store.  We'd take a trip to the family farm and reminisce about the generations before us that worked the soil and created a living under the harsh midwestern sun.  And we would often have the opportunity to worship and fellowship with the little congregation whose prayers were effective in bringing my father to Jesus.
As I mentioned, each celebration was unique, but I am forever grateful that both of them had Jesus at the center.  What a heritage I have to pass on to my children!

We hope you've enjoyed sharing in the committee's Christmas traditions and memories. We trust you will have a wonderful, meaningful Christmas.

"Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift."
II Corinthians 9:15

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Amish Country and a WOW Retreat - A Winning Combination

 On the weekend of September 15-17, 170 ladies gathered in Berlin, Ohio, for the annual Northeast Ohio Women of Worth Retreat. (and if you're a local, its pronounced "Burlin" not like the city in Germany) 

The ladies, from teens to terrific eighties, enjoyed the lovely Berlin Resort with decorations in the conference room done by Lynn Weitbrecht and her team, complete with registration gifts for everyone and lots of giveaways in every session. Retreat director and National Women of Worth Director Lorena Glick led the retreat with class and warmth. Food and accommodations were capably managed by Missy Miller and her helpers, including her daughter, Jazzy. The presentations on Moments in Time presented by Mrs. Sheila Wolf and her daughter, Sarah Fry, were packed with good information and inspiration. And the Amish setting was welcoming as always, glorified by autumn produce and featuring the usual savory cooking. Lots of laughter and late-night talks and excited shopping took place on Saturday before the evening concert with the Isbell family. And then on Sunday, a service with the Lord's presence near and a wonderful ending with prayer and singing. 

Make plans now to attend in 2022! Watch this site or follow us on Facebook for more information. 









Tuesday, August 24, 2021

What a meeting we had!











 

If you met with us in Gatlinburg, you know what a wonderful time of fellowship and learning and music and love and laughter it was as we gathered with our sisters in Christ. Music was provided by the Stetler ladies ad Mrs. Cheri Spangler taught us out of the Bible with real-life examples. Our National Leader, Lorena Glick, gave us information and inspiration and our friends beside us made it all the better. 

THANK YOU, ladies, for prioritizing Women of Worth. We love you!

Saturday, April 10, 2021

We Can't Wait to See you!


We are so excited to meet with all of you at our annual Women of Worth gathering – this year in Gatlinburg, Tennessee! Someone said once that the “company of women refreshes my spirit.” We agree. And especially so when those women are gathered in Jesus’ name.  We will greet one another with smiles and hugs and compliments. We’ll coo over the babies and congratulate those who are experiencing good life changes. We’ll share our struggles and lean into the support of being known and loved. We’ll sing songs and pray and hear news from around the country. And we’ll listen to inspiration from our speaker, and this year that is Mrs. Cherie Spangler. And we thought you’d like to know a little bit about her.

 

Cherie Spangler was born Cherie Hallenbeck in New York State. She has two older brothers and a younger sister. As a young girl, she enjoyed the outdoors and could often be found horseback riding, swimming, bike riding, hiking or playing ball. After graduating high school, Cherie attended Penn View Bible Institute where she traveled in public relations with a music group. During her college years, she also served as secretary to the President for a time. While there, she also met her future husband, Brian Spangler.


 

After marrying and leaving Bible College, the Spanglers entered ministry life, pastoring for 27 years and doing evangelistic work about 6 years. God blessed the Spangler home with three children whom Cherie says are “the greatest in the world” along with the “best daughters-in-law and son-in-law.” When they started looking for life partners, they didn’t waste time; all three of them married within eighteen months of each other! (We need to ask her to share stories about wedding stress!) And now, happily, all of them live close and attend and work in the same church as their parents. What a blessing. A highlight of their family life was the trip to Israel where Brother Spangler was privileged to baptize all his children in the Jordan River. 

 

Cherie has traveled extensively with her husband, having visited most of the 50 states and several foreign countries. She shared that one of her pet peeves is observing a driver on a cell phone who then creeps over in the opposite lane (probably something she sees a lot in her travels). They like to go camping with their family, and she loves holidays when everyone can be together. If she has some time to relax, she likes to read, do Bible studies and write Christmas programs! A favorite quiet day would find her sitting by the ocean or a stream, journaling or reading a good book. 

 


We are looking forward to what she will share with us next Wednesday morning. Will you join us in prayer for her and for the Women of Worth team as they prepare? And will you pray for your sisters in Christ with whom you will gather?

 

Let’s be the family of God.

Let’s gather with full hearts and smiles and expectation. 

See you soon!

 

 

Thursday, February 18, 2021

I Want Normal

 

Christian comedienne Patsy Clairmont used to say "Normal is only a setting on the dryer."

It seems she was right. 

All of us who were old enough to catalog 2020 in our memory banks long for what we used to call "normal." But it appears that we will only find it in the laundry settings. 

2021 began with a chaotic national inauguration and continued with apocalyptic snowstorms for parts of the country. States struggled to dish out COVID-19 vaccines and shoppers continued to haggle with their masks while e-learning days and Zoom meetings rerouted the family week. It is an era about which we will tell your grandchildren - "I lived through the coronavirus pandemic!"

As winter begins to wane in tiny ways and we dare to look at spring styles and long for tulips and green shoots in the flower bed, we also start to hope for just a little bit of normalcy in our daily lives again. 

We want to be able to go to church with all the people who used to attend before sickness changed things. We want to experience unity in our family and friend relationships and not worry about the issues that those in politics keep saying are dividing us. We want to focus on little things like new recipes and summer shoes and when to have a yard sale. We want our aging relatives to be free to enjoy life again. We want the threats in our lives to vanish. We don't want a new normal; we want the old one. 

Maybe it will help us if we keep Patsy's words as a mantra. "Normal" only controls us if we let it. No one knows what God will allow to shape the spring and summer of 2021, but attitude will help us manage it. 

Philippians 4:7 tells us that "the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

A woman who has keeping peace in her heart and mind can truck through both normal and abnormal because she knows the One who sees the end from the beginning. And it is His intention to bring us out into a good place. That's the best possible normal ahead of us! 


Thursday, January 14, 2021

IHC and Women of Worth are meeting in 2021


 After so many cancellations in 2020, we are delighted that IHC and the annual national Women of Worth gathering will happen this year! 

There has been a necessary change of location and venue, but with flexibility and a willingness to try something new, we can have a great meeting!

We are looking forward to seeing your lovely faces this year, April 13-15, 2021, in Gatlinburg, Tennessee!

Watch this video clip for information that you need to know!     2021 IHC Announcement

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

God Amid the Chaos

- Maricka Herrer



I admit—I sighed that morning when I opened my Bible reading plan. 

Judges. 

Not exactly the most encouraging read, particularly in April 2020. Reading of the baffling, and at times sickening, sin-caused suffering is painful, perhaps all the more so when it strikingly resembles sin’s destruction in our own world.  True, the unique position of Israel as God’s chosen nation prevents us from drawing strict parallels between their story and current states of affairs. Yet, the general sentiment of the two was similar—chaos.

Thankfully, the Holy Spirit kept me reading that morning, using two truths faithful Bible college professors did their best to engrain in our student minds. The first was the forceful, elongated emphasis one teacher would place on “all Scripture” every time he quoted 2 Tim. 3:16, to remind us that all of God’s Word, including Judges, is useful to us. The second, from another instructor, was a simple Bible study question: If nothing else, always ask yourself when reading the Bible—what does this teach me about God?

God in the Big Story 

I had been thankful many times for the correction to perspective that question brought, and this time it was no different. Asking what Judges teaches me about God did not diminish the appalling realization of the downward spiral of corruption that sin brings, or of the woeful deceitfulness of the human heart. Yet, perhaps because current world events and personal experiences made the turmoil of Judges more palpable, answering that question from the ancient narrative lifted the eyes of my heart, amid chaos, beyond chaos, to see Him, gloriously radiant in antithesis to the darkness:

Just and holy. True to His nature, not letting Israel’s sin go unpunished, just as He had warned them before they entered Canaan.

Faithful and good. Still, not forsaking a stubborn, blatantly disobedient people, who had so shamelessly broken their covenant with Him, and using the dreadful consequences of their unfaithfulness to call them back to Himself, the only source of true life.

Compassionate. Saving Israel when, time and again they pled for deliverance, after the consequences of their sin had brought them to ruin, and the things in which they had so foolishly placed their trust in days of abundance, proved to be worthless. 

Sovereign. Showcasing His omnipotence by using the most unlikely (and even at times most unsavory) people and confounding methods, to destroy some of the most powerful nations of that time and deliver His people.

God in the Back Stories - “In The Days The Judges Ruled...”

Yahweh did not show Himself as this kind of God only in His dealings with His people as a whole, during this turbulent time of their history. The two books immediately following Judges, Ruth and 1 Samuel, give us a glimpse into the lives of a few ordinary people alive during that period. And what their stories reveal is that Yahweh is the same God to “the least of these” as to the great and many.

Sometime during the last century of the 300 years the judges ruled Israel, a helpless widow returned from years of famine-forced exile in Moab. She had no husband, no children, no hope—just a widowed daughter-in-law from a nation that God had cursed. Yet, in His care, Yahweh stepped into Naomi’s life, through the simple faithfulness of Ruth. And in so doing, He tenderly displayed His own faithfulness and utter goodness to a woman who, in her despair, had begun to believe the lie that He was out to bring her bitterness.

Decades later, a heartbroken, childless woman, wept at the entry of God’s House in Shiloh, her painful reality a curse by society’s standards, ridiculed by her competition, and misunderstood by her husband. Yet, God heard Hannah’s voiceless, tear-soaked prayer, and showed His compassion on the sorrows of the despised.

But He did not leave it there. Unbeknownst to them, their existence, along with that of Israel, was being woven into the eternal redemption plan He was orchestrating for His people, and ultimately, for the whole world. 

Little did Hannah know that her Samuel, the blessing from God that took away her reproach, would become the last and greatest of the judges, who would lead Israel back to their God. Naomi, Ruth and Boaz had no inkling that Obed, the child who had already brought them such hope and joy, would become the grandfather of David, God’s chosen king, nor that they all would be part of the genealogy of the Messiah, the Son of God Himself, the Redeemer of the world.

God in Our Story

That God, Israel’s Yahweh, is our God today. What a soul-calming realization it was that April morning, and as world events and unexpected circumstances revealed the fragility of our supposed certainties, the familiar truths of God’s unchanging character proved once again to be the life-anchor.

Whether in the sweeping histories of nations or the intimate spaces of our individual lives, He is sovereign, His reign unthreatened by whatever chaos may be raging. Despite what circumstances may seem to indicate, or what lies Satan may be whispering to our hearts, our God will always be faithful to His promises, and always, completely, infinitely good. He is still holy and just, and will ultimately set aright all that is unjust in the world. He is still compassionate, saving those who come to Him in repentance, seeing and caring for those suffering, whether they be whole nations under oppression or the unseen, unspoken pain of a single heart.

And in it all, our lives are not lost in a meaningless cycle of life and death, ebb and flow, fortune and disaster. Instead, in a way only the all-wise God can now see, our stories are part of an eternal plan, the design of which, if we could see it now as we see those of Naomi, Ruth and Hannah, would leave us breathless.


Tuesday, May 12, 2020

COMPASSIONATE HANDS-CARING HEARTS


“Nurses dispense comfort, compassion and caring 
without even a prescription.”
- Val Saintsbury


It was shortly after 2 a.m. rounds when the call light panel lit up and chimed.  I could hear groans as the nursing staff all looked at the panel, seeing the room number which was requesting our assistance.  Much to the relief of the other nurses hovered over their charts, I quickly responded that I would answer the call!


Entering the room of one of the most difficult patients to whom I have ever given care, I asked  how I could help. This patient was a Catholic priest, and in his final stage of cancer. Over  previous weeks and admissions, I had the opportunity of having multiple short conversations with him. On one occasion, he asked if I was married and noted that I did not wear a wedding ring. I smiled and told him yes, that I was happily married and blessed with a wonderful husband and three beautiful children. The questions followed, with the priest wanting to know my husband’s occupation, the size of our “parish," and even asking if my husband preached "store house" tithing. Over the multiple times that I answered his call light, he would question me about our church and beliefs.  


Answering the call light this night was similar in his requests for care, every little request before leaving his room taking forever to complete (pull the tray table ½ inch this way, put my head up one inch, move my water glass ¼ inch that way…the details were so time consuming), but was also strikingly different. As he again turned the subject to our church and religion, I felt God’s nudge to share with him the plan of salvation. I told him that we both knew that death was imminent, and I wanted him to be prepared to meet Jesus. Just as I would speak to a child, using the scriptures of the Roman Road, I shared that we all have sinned and come short of the glory of God; Jesus died on the cross for our sins because of His great love for us; if we confess our sins to Him and believe Him for forgiveness He is faithful to forgive us, and we can accept His gift of eternal life. He then asked me if I would pray with him. I took his hand and asked him to pray along with me as I prayed the sinner’s prayer. When the prayer was ended, with tears in his eyes, he peacefully said, “I think I can sleep now.” Then he made a statement that left me wondering, “If anyone gives you any trouble for being in here so long (about 45 minutes) refer them to me.” 


On my next scheduled shift, my supervisor, a sweet Methodist lady, asked me if I had heard that our patient had passed away. You see, when I had been interviewed by her for the position on the Oncology Unit, she told me to feel free to pray or read scripture with any patient that was open to it. So even though I was a Protestant working in a Catholic hospital, I had an open door to share Jesus with those who were so close to eternity, and my opportunities were many! Hearing the account of my last moments with this patient, my supervisor became so excited and said, "Oh, just wait until I tell the nuns and priests!" Then she began to tell me the rest of the the story.  My patient was not just a priest, he was one who had oversight of the diocese in that area. (No wonder he told me to refer questioners to him!) The nuns and priests in the hospital had felt he was so high above them that they could not minister to his spiritual needs. My supervisor said they would be so thrilled to know that someone had met that need. God had used me that night, just a simple nurse following the nudge of the Holy Spirit, to share Jesus. I was just a willing vessel through which He could work.  Someday, I plan to see that Catholic priest in heaven!


When considering my role as a nurse, I have always felt it to be a ministry. An unknown author once said, “When you are a nurse, you know that every day you will touch a life or a life will touch yours.” Knowing that every human being to which I give physical care has a soul, I also have an obligation to minister to their spiritual and emotional needs to the best of my ability. I have been so grateful for the opportunities to minister to the spiritual needs of my patients. Nursing is rewarding work, but also very hard work for those who are in it for more than a paycheck. You don’t leave your ministry at the time clock when you end your shift. Your concern and prayers for your patients continue. You celebrate even baby steps toward recovery, and you grieve when the doctor says, “We have done all we can do.”  


As we celebrate Nurses Week, I congratulate every nurse working in every field of the profession! Mahatma Ghandi said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Some are on the front lines of service frantically trying to save the life of someone hovering between life and death. Others are behind a desk making policies and putting in place procedures for those life and death situations. Wherever you are as a nurse, I challenge you to give it your best. Your character will be as important as the knowledge that you have obtained. We need hard working, ethical, and morally upright Christian nurses to most effectively minister to the whole patient-physically, spiritually and emotionally. And during this time of COVID – 19, treating all three is more needed than ever.  

Congratulations on choosing to serve others!  Happy Nurses’ Week!

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Empowerment: Are We Sure?

- guest article by Joan Stetler



“Being a wife and mother is akin to being in a comfortable concentration camp.”



So said feminist, Betty Friedan in the 1960s, enlightening women everywhere of their inhumane and unjust victim existence.

Womanhood, motherhood, the home and family have been under attack for a long time. But Betty and her feminist pals weren’t content to keep their deviant brand of sunshine and cheer to themselves. She wrote a book called The Feminine Mystique in 1963 and became an immediate celebrity. In 1976, a New York literary club included it with works by Marx and Mao Zedong in its exhibit on “Books As Troublemakers.” So now we all know who to hang with if we’re looking for a better and more exciting life!

Why did Betty become a sudden celebrity with her new message for women? What was its message of appeal? 
One word - power. 

Forces Against the Family

But there were other forces arrayed against the home and family which had been coming together for over a hundred years that will further explain this loud cacophony of disgruntled women’s voices. Liberal theology, enlightenment, rationalization, modern biblical criticism, social gospel, neo-orthodoxy, and fundamentalist-modernist controversy were influencing seminaries and preachers to make significant changes in practical biblical application in messages to their congregants, thereby affecting society at large. Evolution and atheism began being promoted as the more intellectual and highbrow way to think. Who would be so boring and uninformed to actually want to be guided by truth? 

Margaret Sanger began her twisted push for population control and eugenics, setting the stage for the 1973 legalization of abortion. And perhaps the single most powerful influence on society came from Hollywood. Affairs, workplace infidelity, immodest dress and behavior, partying, smoking, drinking, gambling all began to be glamorized and made sophisticated by the messages sent everyday, all day from the producers of television. Housewives were made to appear as dull drudges. 

Then war happened; women left the home and went to public work to promote the nation’s efforts. The family began to realize the effect of an absent mother. The traditional balance of support and care for one another as husband and wife began to wear away. Men felt freer to pursue their own afterwork interests. Mom was thrown in with male attentions and making her own money, but she had just as much work to be done at home. Women would soon feel this lack of commitment, cohesion and mutual support; they began to exchange their homes and families for sexual freedom, money and careers. Divorces became commonplace. Relationships between husbands, wives, and children were broken. Children suffered emotionally. Young people drank, took drugs, joined gangs and committed suicide. Teenage pregnancy rose. The pill was invented. Soon we were in the middle of an STD, HIV/AIDS epidemic. Something had gone horribly wrong in American society. 

Voices and Dissent

We had many voices warning us of our steep moral decline, voices such as James Dobson, Kevin Leman, Henry Cloud, Phyliss Schlafly. They helped many and salvaged many homes. But women’s quest for empowerment still continues its increasingly aggressive fist-shaking and man-hating. 

We watch in horror as women march in the streets screaming vulgar obscenities, holding up figurative heads of those in authority, wishing them physical harm. We try to look at the daily news online and are met with pornographic litterings of celebrities. Families with small children attend sports events where half-time shows are comprised of shocking, lewd and depraved acts. Then we’re supposed to feel sorrow for those who have used their bodies to obtain sought-after acting roles and then want to charge the directors with rape. I ran onto this terribly frightful quote
So many people think the rise of women and the evisceration of our culture are somehow coincidental. But it’s been calculated and deliberate . . . it is the result of hate - hating God, hating life, hating society, hating men, hating babies, hating our families, hating our white male Founders, hating happiness, hating heterosexuality, hating western civilization.
Why did intelligent, educated women come to these mad, insane conclusions? Why are women still falling for the same old, ancient, satanic, Garden of Eden, “Why don’t you just live a little” line?

The Power of Created Design

Women are intrinsically created by God to be naturally sensitive, intuitive, creative, with limitless potential for love, tenderness and affection. We love beauty, manners, romance, flowers, candlelight, sweet nothings, babies, baby magic baths, and adorable children. We can scream about inconveniences and injustices at the top of our lungs, but all of these wonderful nurturing gifts are undeniably programmed into our innermost beings, our feminine DNA, our complex, intricate hormonal structures, our mental construct of superb multi-tasking abilities, and our ever-changing emotional variants. When we bond in a physical way by choosing to honor our created design, our minds, our emotions and our spiritual components become inseparably, irreparably, and unchangeably intertwined.  (Speaking of empowerment - why, we women have the world eating out of our hands, literally, with all the comfort foods that our families and loved ones consume with much enthusiasm and fondness for favorites. But women do much more than mere cooking and cleaning.)

And when we buck against the created design in us, we’re trying to come up with some warped sense of happiness and fulfillment with power, money and career? No wonder we’re crazy with anger!

God has given women a very strategic and vital role in the delicate balance of society. Women with their innate sensitivity were designed to be the conscience and character of our families. We have the power to create fidelity and virtue by being pure and modest in our thoughts, motives and actions and by instilling the same in our children. When we walk into a room, we either exude wholesome goodness or questionable deportment. The Bible calls this “shamefacedness and sobriety.” When we carry out this essential role, societal ills are kept in check. We maintain a safe and orderly society. Without it, we risk the gradual but sure destabilization of civility. 

Women Who Changed the World

Think about the forever-altered course for humanity that came from Eve’s choice of forbidden fruit in place of quiet, evening conversations in the garden with her husband and God, the Creator Who came to talk with them personally. 

Think about Sarah and the far-reaching implications of bearing Isaac in her old age. 

And Jochebed, with her baby Moses that she hid in the bulrushes, along with his famous babysitting sister, Miriam. Jochebed’s Moses, who is considered the greatest of Jewish leaders and prophets, who authored five books of the Bible. 

Rahab, who intuitively sized up the men of God who had her life in their hands and made a deal with them which protected a nation and her own family by hanging a simple scarlet cord in her window. 

Consider Abigail with her diplomacy skills and picnic lunch that kept a lot of angry men, including the soon to be king, David, from making rash decisions and from perhaps altering his future. 

And then there was Deborah, who was a national leader, judge and military leader over Israel for sixty years.
She judged while sitting under a palm tree - a setting rabbinic tradition maintains that validated her fairness, openness, and refusal to show partiality . . . The Bible records no dissent or rebellion against her leadership. Leadership resides not in gender but in character and gifting. The Israelites recognized her abilities and prospered under her tenure. 
(How’s that for empowerment, girls?) 
Remember Queen Esther and her policy-making, political positioning dinner dates that preserved the life of the nation of Israel and exalted the Jewish status in the Persian kingdom? 

Elizabeth with her son, John the Baptist, the announcer and forerunner of the Messiah? 

And lastly, there was Mary, the mother of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ - Jesus, whose life was such an history altering event that the ancient calendars were forever changed. We still use Christ’s birth and death (B.C.) and (A.D.), to tabulate time. 

Yes, truly our churches, our schools and our homes are in crises. We, as women, have the ability, the gifting, the skill set; we have this opportunity and this moment in time, to bring back conscience, character and Christianity to our communities, our country, our continent and our world.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Thoughts from the Classroom





                                
                                           -Stephanie Burley
                                              
Three decades ago, Congress made a declaration which recognized teachers all across America.  They called it National Teacher Day, and for five years it was celebrated on March 7th.  In 1985, The National PTA took things a bit further and established Teacher Appreciation Week.  Since that time, Teacher Appreciation Week is celebrated annually the first week of May, with Tuesday being named National Teacher Day. That's a bit of information you may or may not have known, but the important thing to recognize is that teachers not only deserve our prayers and support, they desperately need it. Now more than ever. 

One of the greatest lessons we have learned through this national crisis is the importance of a strong yet flexible educational process.  If your children typically leave home and go to school each day, your world was upended mid-March as schools were shuttered and stay-at-home orders were issued with as little as a day's notice.  This has affected each family differently, depending on family dynamics, needs of the child, accessibility to curriculum and technology, and the preparedness of the school to pivot to a distance learning format.  What is the one constant in this process?  The teacher.

As a caring educator, the teacher is taking this opportunity to engage with students in a way that assures them of their individual importance.  She spends her days interacting, offering feedback, explaining difficult concepts, and giving the students a sense of security by being a constant in this ever-changing time.  Like you, she is adapting to circumstances for which she was unprepared.  Like your children, she is grieving the loss of the end-of-year celebratory events and the opportunity to close out the school year along side of her closest companions.  For many teachers, the 2019-2020 school year is the last in what may have been a lengthy tenure.  They are retiring or moving into a different career path.  This journey was supposed to culminate in celebration and reflection with students, parents, and co-workers as the school-year came to a close.  

Although we are now socially distanced, teachers have remained fully engaged.  So how can parents and students recognize and support our teachers during this special week?  Let me share some meaningful ideas:
  • Have your child create a card for the teacher and mail it to her.  An emailed note would suffice if you are unable to secure an address. In the note, have your child name a specific action or trait of the teacher for which he/she is appreciative.  For instance, "I love how you take extra time to help me in Math." Or, "Your field trips are my favorite!"
  • Take a meal to your teacher.  Everyone is busy right now, and teachers are no exception.  Days are long and often run into dinner time.  Maybe you can run lunch to her home at noon, deliver dinner to her family at six, or even just drop a dessert by her house for her to enjoy as she wishes.  Those acts of kindness are never forgotten.  An alternative idea is to order a meal for her and have it delivered.
  • Place a hanging basket of seasonal flowers on her porch or have a bouquet delivered from a local florist. 
  • Find out where your teacher has her vehicle's oil changed and give her a gift card for that service.  An alternative would be a gift card to a local car wash.
  • If the teacher doesn't have a membership to a local wholesale club, purchase one for her.
  • For coffee lovers, Panera Bread is currently offering a monthly coffee subscription.  Click here for details.  Gift cards to local shops and national chains are a great idea, as well.  As an alternative, a gift bag of coffee (or tea) related items or K-cups is a fun surprise.
These are just a few ideas varying from no cost to a larger investment, but the sentiment is the same, and I promise you, your thoughtfulness will make her day!

On a different note, maybe you are struggling in your relationship with your child's teacher and you're just not sure what to do.  Let me encourage you to pursue the following actions:
  • Pray for your child's teacher.  I don't mean just a passing "bless her" type prayer, but pray specifically for her.  Ask God to empower her to flourish in this season of upended expectations.  Ask Him to give her strength for her days.  There's a good chance that your child's teacher is taking care of/teaching her own children at home while she's supervising the students who are in her virtual classroom. These changes are significant to everyone, and your child's teacher is no exception.
  • Give your child's teacher the benefit of the doubt. If your child is struggling and the temptation is to blame the teacher, remember your child's teacher is human.  You may not be seeing the whole picture, so it's helpful to talk with your child and explain that you are sure that his/her teacher is doing her best.  Then stick with the problem to help find a solution.  Avoid speaking negatively of the teacher in front of your child.  That is counterproductive to building what needs to be a good and effective relationship.  Also keep in mind that, in many cases, teachers are simply carrying out instructions provided by principals and administrators.  They are seeking to meet mandates they didn't create, and this can create extra pressure, especially with so many new things happening quickly.  
  • Communicate with your child's teacher.  Begin by telling her that you are praying specifically and daily for she and her family.  Let her know that you understand that this time of virtual or distance learning is tough for teachers, parents, and students, and that you are willing to do everything you can to lighten her load and help your child succeed.  Then follow through with that.  If you or your child are frustrated, be clear and respectful in your communication with her.  Seek resolution, not further conflict. Be open to honest, constructive criticism.  I assure you, there is no place your child's teacher would rather be right now than in the classroom, fulfilling her God-given calling.  The best thing you can do for her during this time is to communicate well.
  • Look for the good in your child's teacher.  Personality clashes are a real thing, and they aren't necessarily a bad thing.  However, what we choose to do with them makes a huge difference in our relationships.  Your child may not like his/her teacher.  You may not like your child's teacher.  But that doesn't mean your child's teacher cannot be a positive force for good in your child's life.  If there are glaring problems creating lingering issues, of course, that could be a sign of further problems and you need to seek God's help and use the proper chain of command in securing a resolution.  Many times, though, frustrations are brought about by a simple misunderstanding or a personality clash.  How can you work through this?  Understand that your child's personality may be difficult for the teacher, as well.  All teachers have students who are more difficult for them to relate to than others, and a good teacher will make it nearly impossible for a student to tell the difference.  The best way for you to work through a personality clash with your child's teacher?  Look for the good.  Make a list of her positive qualities and find ways to weave those into your conversations with your child.  List the sacrifices she makes.  List the fun activities she plans.  Yes, even include the seemingly demanding assignments she issues.  All of those things are helping your child grow into the person he or she needs to be.  
As we head into the home stretch of the 2019-2020 school year, we realize it has taken a team effort between parents, teachers, and students to arrive at the completion of a successful term.  No one asked for this challenge, but we are meeting it in ways we never thought possible.


Friday, May 1, 2020

Speed Bumps on My Road Called Contentment


- Janet Burton
Have you ever had difficulty breathing? I have because my asthma kicks in anytime I have a sinus infection which then develops into bronchitis.
In mid-March I began to hear the news reports about the coronavirus that would be having a great impact on the older population, especially those with respiratory diseases. Whoa! That hit close to home! They were talking about ME and I didn’t like it one bit! Immediately, a “speed bump” of fear sprang up on my road called Contentment. As a nurse, I know about ventilators and multi-system organ failure, and I was not interested in experiencing any of that. 
Fear set up big time. I was afraid to leave my house for anything. For days, I lived trapped in fear. 

Speed Bumps

I had been so content with my life. I had just retired in December and had already made three trips south to be with family at Christmas, to attend Sea Breeze camp and to be with my brother-in-law during his surgery. My friends and I had enjoyed shopping, attending revivals, eating out, etc. We were all looking forward to the InterChurch Holiness Convention and then a “speed bump” of disappointment showed up on my well paved Contentment road. Stay-in-place guidelines until the end of April or longer. Really? 
Truth vs. Falsehood was the next “speed bump” I encountered. 
Oh my, who in the world is telling the truth? Who’s lying? Are we losing our religious freedoms? What is essential? What isn’t essential? Is Covid-19 part of the end-times? Is it a conspiracy? A biological terrorist attack? Opinions were abounding everywhere!
And then there was the boredom “speed bump.” What does one do for hours on end? Well, I’ll tell you later how I avoided letting boredom lead to the loneliness “speed bump”.
Perhaps you experienced these same “speed bumps” or maybe you experienced other ones during this pandemic. Let me share my approach, and the ways I coped with the quarantine.

Conquering Fear

Fear has not always been a major issue with me, so I was surprised when it gripped me fiercely. I could hardly think of anything else except the possibility that I might die from this virus. I just knew if I got “it,” I would die. I told the Lord HE would to have to help me because I couldn’t control this fear. And you know, HE helped me! He brought to my mind all the times He had protected me in various circumstances. God assured me He was able to protect me now and He would be with me. 
Although God relieved my fears, I didn’t throw caution to the wind and do what I wanted. No, I followed the guidelines. In the midst of my fear God worked through my neighbor to provide me with a N95 face mask. I am no longer fearful when I go grocery shopping. Hopefully, this quote from Brian Tracy will help someone: “Stress [fear] comes from within; it is your reaction to circumstances [Covid-19], not the circumstances themselves.” I’m glad I looked to Jesus to defeat Satan’s tactic of fear!

Coping Skills

Disappointments can lead to depression and if you are prone to depression it is especially easy to fall into despair. You might say I did a little grieving over what I was “giving up” to be safe and healthy. I had to implement some previous coping skills to work through this. 
 How do you cope with all the “if he had” or “if he hadn’t opinions,” end-of-times predictions, etc.?
Well, it helps me tremendously not to read and believe everything I read on Facebook. I had to become very discerning about whose posts I read in order not to fill my mind with controversy and negativity. Sometimes I spoke out when I knew a post was giving inaccurate health information. I had to ask a friend not to send me any more messages about the pandemic. To keep a positive mindset, I had to bring “into captivity every thought to the obedience [submission] of Christ” (II Corinthians 10:5 KJV). God’s Word became my filter to process the end time predictions. To assist me in this effort I enrolled in the free online course offered by God’s Bible School & College on the Book of Revelation (taught by Dr. Stephen Smith). 
Now, back to the boredom “speed bump.” 
As a single person, battling boredom has become a daily activity for me. I have to be intentional so I can ward off loneliness. I take each day as a new day and start each day with “Lord, what do you want me to do today?” It is amazing what He tells me to do. 
Some days God’s answer is to do some long over-due deep cleaning in my house. Other days God tells me specific people to call and check on or to whom I should send a card. One of my friends was really struggling with being homebound, so I colored a picture and took it to her, along with some books and magazines to help cheer her up. Basically, now, as in other times, God wants me to be a blessing to others. When we bless others, we often receive a blessing ourselves, and that helps combat boredom. 
There have been some rewards to the slower schedule. One of my friends bought bird feeders and has enjoyed watching the birds come and go. A couple of my friends and I have discussed how we now do not feel rushed in our devotional time. We are finding God’s grace sufficient as we come from His presence! I obtained a digital library card and have enjoyed reading books from our local library. My new best friends are Facebook (in spite of the negativity), Marco Polo (staying connected with family), and the Bible Broadcasting Network (BBN which has provided me with hours of good music and stories). Online church services and live musical performances have been so helpful to keep me inspired spiritually. 
Yes, I too long for the day when states are “open” again. When that happens, you will find me with bags packed and headed to who knows where-just because I can!