Hello and welcome to the May/June 2023 issue of The Simple Woman's Gazette. Here we are on the cusp of another month and nearing the summer season. As I grow older, I find summer does not last nearly as long as I wish it would. I search out warmth much more now as I move into my 6th decade of life.
As usual, I have a list of goals and habits I want to establish, but the days become so sweet just to look at and enjoy that feeding the soul with those things takes over most of my plans on paper.
laying down in the grass after hanging up a load of laundry...just because
answers to long-awaited prayers
seedlings popping through the ground
You know we can only do so much to this ole fleshly body on the outside...some of it can make a difference to the on-seeing eye...some of it does not. We can begin with that new haircut, change its color, paint our toenails and fingernails, put on a new face, add earrings, new clothes or a pretty pair of shoes, fix our teeth, lose weight, sit higher in our chair and present that package to the world. But, we really only show those around us bits and pieces of our inner selves. The inner self is what the Lord is most interested in. It tells us in his word that the world looks at the outer appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.
There are times we long to share things that are hurting our hearts, things that would make us feel better when shared, things that make the burden lighter and no one is there. Then there are times we hide things that are hurting our hearts feeling shame because the hurt is in some way of our own making. It all seems very complex when the hurt is ours, but Jesus says to take up his yoke upon us for his burden is light. Sharing the heaviness of our burdens with Jesus might not change those burdens, but it will lift and change that deep longing and loneliness of keeping them all lined up on the shelves of our heart's store.
Also, the shame carried from the burden of sin will be lifted when repented of, and in its place, we will find sweet release and peace that can only come from God.
So my encouragement for you in this issue is to make sure that when it comes to taking care of the outside of your 'woman', pay attention to what your inside needs first. It will make a much nicer outside appearance even when nothing at all is added or changed, might I say a more beautiful appearance...a radiant heart.
~Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Vegetable Miracle: A Year of Good Life
The Influence of Aloneness
"The "Social Isolation in American" study gave credence to Harvard professor Robert Putnam's 2000 book, Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. The book details how we've become a less social society since the 1950s: Americans know our neighbors less, meet with friends less frequently, and ever socialize with our families less often.
That decline is partly caused by our increasingly mobile society. We live in one neighborhood, work in another city, and attend church in a third locale. Consequently, we're not fully connected to any single community."
It highlighted that singles and stay-at-home mothers are particularly susceptible to loneliness. Also, for women who work outside the home. "Even if women continue to work, their available free time is often spent at home trying to compensate for being gone all day, which leaves little time to develop relationships."
For some of us, I found the next title "No Woman Is An Island" especially true. "Openness and authenticity help combat the loneliness trend. These qualities don't come easily. "Emotional vulnerability is a risky proposition," explains Kevin Dowing, cofounder and executive clinical director of Turning Point Counseling, a network of Christian therapists. "We fear rejection. So we project something fake, but then people aren't relating to who we really are--and we hate that, too."
How is it we get to the point of projecting "something fake"? I believe the "something fake" comes when we fear someone using our heart for a target with a full cache of ammunition. By being open and transparent, we fear that someone will use that openness and transparency against us either by a holier-than-thou attitude or by using a waggling, hinged-in-the-middle tongue. I have been on this side of a hurt and punctured heartache.
So what about opening up? Kevin Robertson, a Los Angels pastor says, " People are attracted to my openness," he says, "but they're scared to be open themselves because they see it as being totally vulnerable. But, I view openness as total empowerment because it's the real you."
Wow, the "real you"! That hits close to home, doesn't it? Why, perhaps because the real me has faults; selfishness, envy, self-centeredness, pride, jealousy, fill in the blank ____. Could that be why we do not have friends? Could this be why we are not being open with our friends and lives, might I even say our online spaces. Is this far-fetched, is my thinking gone too far, maybe I am treading on far too truthful ground.
For example, you see here online we can be anyone we choose to be. Of course, there is an element of keeping a secure hand on our personal life and that of our family...both for their integrity and privacy. But I think we sometimes project a deceptive veil over ourselves. A veil that hides, conceals, covers up if you will our weaknesses, but I wonder if weakness is the correct word for this type of cover-up. Could the "weakness" or misty fog be sin?
For another line of thought, I want to look at weakness as not perhaps embarrassment brought on by circumstances or how the way the world makes us feel by having us measure up to one another, but rather a weakness masquerading as sin on our very part.
Weakness is a puny word for those brazen and blaring sins we carry around with us. You know the heavy backpack hoisted over our shoulder or the suitcase that is pinching off the circulation in our carrying hand...not to forget the ball and chain that leaves our ankles sliced and bleeding from the drag. Yes, the drag of unchecked sin is heavy, the decay mentally is draining and leaves no room for healthy growth.
hang in there with me as this is continued over the next two issues...
Women of the Word with Jen Wilkin
~ The Archives~
"When Ma and Mary stood in the doorway the light went dim. There was a small greased-paper window beside the door. But the wall was so thick that the light from the window stayed near the window. That front wall was made from sod."
"Ma was pleased. She said, "It's small, but it's clean and pleasant."
"They (the girls and Ma) look at it till Ma said, "We'll brush out the place and move in what we can before Pa comes back."
"Ma found a willow-twig broom in a corner, and she brushed the walls carefully. "
Pa then comes back and says to Caroline, "Well, Hanson's on his way West and the place is ours. How do you like it, Caroline?" "I like it," said Ma.
"Then they went into the dugout. Ma was cheerful, Mary and Carrie were already washed and combed, and everything was neat."
"After supper, they all sat on the path before the door. Carrie cuddled sleepily in Ma's lap, and Mary and Laura sat on the hard path, their legs hanging over its sharp edge. Jack turned three times and lay down with his head against Laura's knee. They all sat quiet, looking across Plum Creek and the willows, watching the sun sink far away in the west, far away over the prairie lands.
At last, Ma drew a long breath. "It is all so tame and peaceful," she said. The peaceful colors went all around the rim of the sky. The willows breathed and the water talked to itself in the dusk.
It's bedtime, "Ma said."
Inside this story from Laura, I find a mother will full and utter contentment. She goes about creating a nest for her family from a dugout made in the ground. She never questions Charles with nag or complaints about their living situation but goes about steadily and with purpose even before she is sure this is the place they will stay to make a home.
Ma could have turned this entire day into a gloomy-doomy-pity-me for my living conditions spectacle for the girls, BUT instead, she made a beautiful memory that her then young daughter Laura would come to grow up and write about and now where I am here at this time and place sharing with you the beauty of it...doesn't that beat all????
Those kinds of strong women are the stock that I want to have my daughters come from...for their momma to see situations in life and to overcome the grave details and rise to the beauty that is inside of it all. That is where they will find the greatest joy in life...along with us women folk...isn't it so true...isn't it so very true?
Until next time...
In closing, I pray that this issue of The Simple Woman's Gazette has been a blessing to you. Would you consider sharing it with others or sharing the link to my blog? I would appreciate it very much!
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I welcome your thoughts!