And when we strip all the press releases and polished responses away we know what is really needed – an actual revolution for our daughters, a world transformed into a place where Love prevails, a work that actually requires we not even worry about rolling up our sleeves. We just hold hands and hold hearts and worry about the laundry later. –AB
Welcome to 31 Days of Women Empowering Women. Some of the issues in this series center around girls, some focus on grown women or mothers. Some focus on the developing world and reaching into poverty. Others focus on reaching across suburban neighborhoods and MOPS groups and twitter streams.
Women empowering women is about influence. It’s about understanding that we possess it… and then understanding how we can use it. It’s about ordinary women with extraordinary heart using our collective influence for our collective good. (A win-win situation, yes?) Because all women need empowering sometimes. And because all women have the ability to empower others.
This series is incomplete – as in, there are too many issues that women face to be able to include all of them within a 31-post series. I’ve not written about teen pregnancy or women asylum seekers or abortion or post-abortion care. I’ve not written about women dealing with the diagnosis of a child or women in seminary or women in politics or women in business or so much more. But I hope this series will be a glimpse into God’s heart for girls and women and showcase ways we can invest in one another to make our world a better place.
“Invest in a girl, and she will do the rest.” – The Girl Effect
Day 1 // Hope For Our Future Looks Like This
This is not about a political agenda or a man-bashing agenda or about a pat-ourselves-on-the-back-let’s-feel-good-because-we’re-girls agenda. This is not even about becoming an activist, fighting for rights, or jumping on a social change bandwagon that has more bark than bite. This is about… continue>>>
Because the defining characteristic of poverty isn’t just income or what type of house you live in or if you have comprehensive medical insurance. It’s actually much more baseline than that. Poverty is essentially a lack of choice. Poverty is having no choice of a path leading to a better future, and no voice to help you ask for one… continue>>>
Day 3 // Find a Mentor, Be a Mentor.
Lindsay was nineteen, blonde, beautiful, and painfully thin. She seemed to be obsessed with exercise and would never eat her meals in public. We believed she might need professional help beyond what we could provide, but decided that in the interim we would do all we could to support her in her studies and help her live well among our community… continue>>>
She witnessed deplorable conditions in state facilities including sporadic electricity that impaired maternity and surgical care. Without a reliable source of electricity, nighttime deliveries were attended in near darkness, cesarean sections were cancelled or conducted by flashlight, and critically ill patients waited hours or days for life-saving procedures. The outcomes were often tragic and… continue>>>
We can be so inundated with causes and statistics and pleas to “work for change” that we begin to tune out important messages. I get it. And I’m guilty of it.
The internet is a noisy place. Some of the volume is just time-wasting distractions of little consequence. But there are certain areas where the volume needs to be turned up louder.
Violence against women is one of those areas. continue>>>
It all boils down to empowering women – ourselves. Modesty is not outdated, it’s not unrealistic, it’s not frumpy, and it’s not anti-feminist. Modesty – in it’s truest form – is not about hiding our beauty, it’s about handling it well. continue>>>
As we got to know Umi’s mother we realized the origin of Umi’s severe malnutrition. Komi spent long days out gathering sago–a tree root which is the main local food source–while leaving Umi behind with a caregiver. As it has been for generations, it was Komi’s responsibility to gather sago for her husband and children. But in doing so, she was unaware of the horrible ramifications: her youngest baby was actually starving to death in her absence… continue>>>
Never underestimate the power you have to minister profoundly through simple gestures and supportive friendship after a friend has lost a baby. You can help a family in crisis find the difference between grieving with despair and grieving with hope as they process the loss of their child within a caring, supportive community… continue>>>
Trades of Hope empowers women to create sustainable businesses worldwide. We want women to realize their potential as world changers, business owners, dream creators, and heroes of their own stories. We are looking for American women to rise up and be the voice for the women who have no voice, empowering them to rise out of poverty. continue>>>
History is being made in front of our eyes. And it’s being made through a young teenage girl from a place of poverty where women have been oppressed for generations upon generations. Isn’t it just like God to use “the least of these” to confound the wise and to change the course of history? (I have tears in my eyes as I write this.) Malala’s story is not just one of bravery and justice and resilience (although it’s all of those things), it’s one of redemption and healing and hope for our future… continue>>>
Today is our day to remind you that your popularity, your clothes, your boyfriends, your grades, your successes, your failures, your race, your hairstyle, your ability, your age, your wounds, your accomplishments, your figure, your nationality, your heart ache, your family structure, your social status, even your most shining moments – they don’t define you. You are important because you are you. Today is our day… continue>>>
Because I look around me and I see an army of women rendered powerless, ensnared in the traps of a fundamental level of insecurity, self loathing, comparison, jealousy, criticism of ourselves, criticism of other women, and an overwhelming sense of inadequacy. We’re caught in the not good enough’s and the I should’s and the if only’s. We swim in murky waters as harmful thought patterns become more and more entrenched, like tire ruts on a snow-packed road, keeping us on course toward a grown-up version of failure-to-thrive. When really we all know we need to veer left; we need to find a new course… continue>>>
Today is International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day and today is a day where I want to use my voice to encourage my sisters out from under the weight of silence. Won’t you come – open your heart and let the Healer come in? You see, he comes through the quiet Spirit whispers and he comes through those Holy Book pages… but he also comes through shared stories and exchanged emails and friends holding hands across the world and across the dinner table. We speak and we write and we share not only for ourselves (though it is a balm), but also for the ones who will come after us and who will need light in their dark hour. We write for the ones who don’t yet know how to write for themselves… continue>>>
I am a passionate believer that birth should be family-centric; it’s not all about baby, nor is it all about mama. Birth is perhaps the most incredible—at least miraculous—right of passage for a woman and I believe it should be absolutely celebrated and approached in a way that is both empowering for a woman and loving for her baby. For many women that means pursuing a VBAC… continue>>>
In the developing world girls miss up to eight months of school in three years due to menstruation. Girls use bits of old fabric, leaves, mattress stuffing, newspaper, cornhusks, rocks, you name it, all in an attempt to stay in school. These attempts at managing their monthly cycles can lead to painful infections, extreme social stigma, and shame. In many nations it also leads to early marriage (since menstruating girls who aren’t in school are considered “eligible”) or exploitation in orphanages and school systems where corrupt head masters trade feminine products for sexual “favors”. And sometimes, hope for these types of dire circumstances looks like a bunch of women crafting their way to change the world… continue>>>
Day 16 // Liberation from the Beauty Myth: A call for transformation (Guest post by Becca of Exile Fertility)
The world is waiting for women to step into our calling – as leaders, activists and peacemakers. We need young women and old, sisters, mothers, aunts and friends to throw off the restraints of the Beauty Myth and lead the way for the next generation of women. We are free to embrace each other rather than compare, to fight for each other rather than fight our way to the top of a beauty caste system that is meant to destroy us. We can busy ourselves with learning, communicating, raising awareness and growing deep friendships that break through invisible barriers. When we worry about our weight or acne or cellulite, when our clothes seem outdated and our breasts start heading south we can give ourselves permission to see anew. We already are beautiful, and pretty flippin’ amazing. And there is so much work that needs to be done in our circles, local and global, and we are the right women for the job… continue>>>
Have we steered the modesty discussion off course and gotten too consumed with appearance over the attitudes of our heart? I think perhaps, yes. Let’s change the modesty discussion from being shame-based, which is disempowering, to truth-based which is empowering. And let’s realize that the issue of ‘modesty’ isn’t an issue that’s exclusive to women or as superficial as appearance… continue>>>
We all need to remember that the woman parenting across from us likely deals with the same issues as we do. She probably sometimes feels at a loss for how to approach the third tantrum of the day before 8:00am. I bet she sometimes questions the nobility of her job as she labors over one more stinky load of grass stains and wet undies. She might feel guilty for yelling at her kids when she should have hugged them or for feeding them one too many chicken nugget dinners because that was all her weary arms had the strength for on a Tuesday.
I’m convinced the best way to empower mothers—young or new mothers especially—is to be open and honest about the whole motherhood package – the wonders and joys and the absolute fun, as well as the heartaches and failures, fears and insecurities. If we want to empower other moms, then we must be free within ourselves to share the journey. All of it. We just can’t do it well on our own… continue>>>
Day 19 // “Don’t you want kids?” | The secret burden of infertility (Guest post, identity kept private)
I wake up feeling gross and groggy. I head off to work and am greeted by my good friend and colleague who’s coming up to 18 weeks of pregnancy and she’s holding the cake she made for morning tea for her big reveal of the gender. As morning tea comes around I brace myself with a big smile to go in for the big reveal. The middle is blue and it’s a boy. I stand around smiling, sharing my congrats, looking at the latest scan, and ohhhhh-ing and ahhhh-ing. I look at my watch and think I’ve done my fair share of joining in and slip out to the restroom to find that yep… another month and one more chance gone for becoming pregnant… continue>>>
Day 20 // Empowering women in the ministry of speaking and writing: 12 tips from a “Professional Words Girl” (Guest post by Bo Stern)
Though women have come a long way in the past hundred years, the gender debate still rages inside the walls of the church (and women currently represent about 20% of clergy in America). I’m not here to convince you one way or another and I wouldn’t even if I could. Each woman needs to know and own her position theologically and there aren’t any short cuts. Read, research and pray. Do the work of figuring it out. And if you come to the conclusion that you are also a words girl and you’d love to use those words to strengthen the church, here are a dozen tips, gathered from the towering mountain of my own mistakes… continue>>>
Today I’m showcasing awesome innovations (by video) that have the potential to make a huge impact in the developing world. In fact, they already are changing the world, and they carry a possibility within them that is absolutely off the charts. These innovations aren’t exclusive to “women empowering women“, but they are empowering entire communities… And what can I say after re-watching these? I’m pretty much speechless. Mostly, I’m just filled with a lot of hope for our future. No doubt this is only a very fine slice of the innovation already out there that really can make our world a better place. God bless the creatives, the curious, the determined. God bless the innovators among us… continue>>>
If you have ever been asked this question you will understand that there is never an easy answer. Sometimes there simply is no answer. Trying to answer a question like this on the spot at a social gathering can lead into further questions about your personality, career, high standards, and eventually your identity. Unfortunately the place I was most confronted with this question was at Christian gatherings. Friends, acquaintances, and even new introductions would eventually pop this question and take the lead in to a conversation that wasn’t always encouraging… continue>>>
…Friendships that are planted and watered through the season of late nights and early mornings and learning how to be a grown-up with little people depending on us. They sprout in the spaces of park benches and McDonalds playgrounds, combined family days at the beach and noisy toddler birthday parties. They have come slowly, but they have come. And sometimes I wonder if the unhurried pace of their blooming has been the most solidifying of all? Not the sudden burning chemistry of attraction that shows up when you’re bouncing from party to party and you connect with a person who shares your same passion for fill-in-the-blank. But the slow, steady, measured love that take root when you’re committed to tilling the soil, planting the seed, tending the vines, and waiting for the fruit of friendship to come…. continue>>>
She found me after the service and tugged on my cardigan. “I’ve always wanted to study Mandarin,” she confessed, sheepishly. “Do you think that’s strange?” I smiled at her warmly and rested my hand on her shoulder. “No. I actually think it’s perfect,” I shot back with a wink.
“Your message gave me courage and I think it might be time for me to just do it,” she concluded.
I wonder how many young twenty-somethings sit in our pews like this sweet girl – full of hopes and interests and dreams and yet unsure how to put them all together and start living the grown-up life they think they see around them. It’s like they’re waiting for permission to do what’s already on their heart. They’re waiting for permission to start living out their destiny… continue>>>
Discover, develop, become, be… These are all ways to grow into yourself as you wrestle with what it means to be an adult and live a fulfilling life that will influence the world around you for the better. Your twenties should be the time of your life as you set about unwrapping what God’s made available to you… and unwrapping who you are in him. It’s a decade that is exhausting and thrilling, surprising and super fun. And it’s a decade that should be deeply satisfying and rich with growth, discovery, and revelation… continue>>>
Dear New Mom, I’ve got a whole slew of resources for you… but first, some personal words from me to you. Because I bet, like me, you need a reminder from time-to-time that despite all the crazy and the tears and the growing pains (I’m not even talking about the children), that what you’re doing matters. I bet, like me, you need encouragement for the journey. I bet, like me, you need to hear the words now and then that sound a bit like this: You’re doing a good job. Your kids think you’re awesome. And whatever you’re doing?? It’s enough… continue>>>
The more I know and understand these issues, the more I realize that I still don’t know. The more I realize that my world of black and white simple ‘truths’ don’t always translate beyond my safe, comfortable borders and limited Western worldview… There are no easy or quick fixes and there are no simple solutions MUCH TO MY FREAKING DISMAY. I’ve perhaps only figured one thing out: If we truly want to change the world we cannot do it as Know-It-Alls; we have to do it as Learners… continue>>>
We stay-at-home moms know we are blessed to be home with our littles, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t faced with the challenge of not just surviving–but actually thriving–while surrounded by cracker crumbs and matchbox cars and laundry that multiplies every single time your back is turned. Every working mom has challenges, but today I want to look at the challenge of staying sane as the stay-at-home variety of working mom. I hope these tips will inspire and encourage you in your own season of being home with your children. May you be empowered, dear mama, as you build practices into your days to help you keep your sanity during the ‘little years’… continue>>>
Maybe the world’s problem isn’t that we aren’t loving our neighbors as ourselves. Maybe the problem is that we are. continue>>>
Hooters is not the enemy here. Hooters is a small little pawn in the global movement of the exploitation of women that has been going on since the beginning of time. What baffles me most is that as some areas of liberty grow for women, it seems others are reverting back to shadows of a male-dominated society that most any forward-thinking person (that is actually thinking) would deem foul, unjust, and degrading.
Let’s not be content at having the vote, having equal employment opportunity (on paper at least), and having a right to education. Let’s also work for a world in which women are valued for more than giving men a reason to salivate. In fact, how about we aim for a world where women aren’t reduced to the size of their breasts?… continue>>>