Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Look

Like it or not, mothers have a major influence on their daughters. You know that look a mother gives her daughter when she doesn't like her daughter's haircut or outfit choice? That look has the power to boil my blood AND incite an outfit change ASAP.

Recently, my mother made a point of telling me about a new book. It was another organic smorganic book that she had no doubt heard about on NPR. I'm sure she said a lot of interesting things about the book, but this is what I heard:
*You should stop drinking your Diet Cokes.
*Processed foods are bad for you and I know you eat them all the time.
*That blemish on your chin wouldn't be there if you were more careful with your diet.

In reality, she said none of those things - directly. But just like the, "I don't like the way you are wearing your hair" look, I heard between the lines.

The crazy thing is I love NPR. I appreciate organic products. But when she pushed them my way I fiercely guarded my Diet Cokes and refined pasta.

So imagine my shock when I found myself driving to the book store today and asking if they had the book in stock. Yeah, I caved. Meet the new book. It does sound pretty interesting. Gah.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Praying for M

M's baby hasn't come. The village midwife thinks it should have been here by now. M is worried. The midwife is worried. I am worried and so far away. And it's not that I am an OBGyn or have some unique ability to make things better, but I wish that i was there. I would ask to put her in a car and drive her to the nearest clinic with equipment that could monitor her progress. And so we wait.

M is the secretary of the Ushirika Wa Wanawake Kidete. She took some sewing classes a few years ago. This summer she helped me teach the women to hold scissors. Oh God, we need for M. to be ok. We need her baby to be ok. Please pray with me for M.

ps If you have the initials MF on a kitenge you purchased, M made it.

Friday, September 18, 2009


The book of Esther is one of my favorites. Lately I've been studying Queen Vashti and all of her amazingness. We don't get to spend too much time with her, but the chapter she is with us makes a big impression. Vashti was a woman who knew what it meant to set a boundary and live with the consequences of doing so.

I need more Vashtis in my life . . . people who show me, by example, what it means to exemplify charm, grit, and manners. Yesterday I wrote her a letter. My plan was to blog it, but I find myself fearful of what someone might think. It's ironic, I know.
Here's a paragraph.

I wish the Old Testament shared more of your story. No matter how often I tell myself that boundaries are good and that pleasing isn’t always, I still find it hard when faced with dissent. And it’s more than that – it’s feeling like I am jeopardizing my job (present and future). It is feeling like I am not being a team player. I want to play on a team that honors who I am as a woman, not because of my body, but because of my contributions as a minister, friend, teacher, student. I want to walk into a room and feel like I changed something for the better, not the worse. I want to stand behind a pulpit in a sweater set. I want to have faith in my denomination.

That is all for now. Read her story in the first chapter of Esther. I love that she said, "No."

*photo courtesy of Grebo Guru

Monday, September 14, 2009

Remembering the Good Girl

Somehow, growing up, I got a reputation as "the good girl." My good girl rep. involved church, bible memorization, prayer, and a general resistance to peer pressure. In fact, peer pressure never really pressured me. If my eyes were fixed on something, I did not often deviate.

Church family would praise my focus with a quick side hug and comments like, "You are so wise beyond your years. Does anyone ever tell you that?" I started getting requests to teach children in Bible school and various church studies before I was even out of high school.

As I left my hometown for college there were many well wishers. I was told what a wonderful preacher's wife I would make. God had other plans and thankfully, I knew how to differentiate between God's voice and the voice of those who claimed to speak for God.

Last week I had the privilege of spending a day with a room full of Baptist sisters (and one brother) at a symposium called, Women, Sexuality, and Church in the South. This gathering was designed as an opening conversation surrounding issues female ministers face in southern, typically evangelical churches. We talked about what it looks like to minister in a region that is often afraid of sexuality. We discussed what it could look like if we encouraged our congregations to re-integrate the spiritual and the sexual. We shared hurts and fears. We offered one another support. We sang. We read the bible. We prayed.

And in the midst of meeting God among my faith community, I received an email asking me what had happened to "the good girl" I used to be. This friend had read about the upcoming meeting and was appalled that I was involved in coordinating the event.

The symposium last week was a wonderful beginning to a much needed conversation about being the hands and feet of God in a deeply fragmented world. What isn't good about that? It was a fabulous day and this good woman is thankful.

Many thanks to The Religious Institute (Kate Ott and Debra Haffner) for leading the symposium. You will find a variety of helpful resources on their website. Also, take a look at Rachel Simmons' new book, The Curse of the Good Girl.