Me Too. Now what?

Maybe it’s because I’ve been reading the book Half The Sky as part of a journey I’m on to better educate myself on the global oppression of women.

Or maybe it’s because I have a natural inclination to fight for justice.

Or maybe it’s because I have to sign my name with thousands of other women and say, “Me Too.”

But I am fired up.

“Me too.” It’s not a badge of honor; it’s an admission that something is wrong. When I was a little girl another older, much larger child threatened to hurt me and my family if I didn’t touch him or let him touch me inappropriately during free play at school. He held me down and forced bits of his torn up shoes into my mouth. I was terrified, and didn’t tell a soul for years until my mom happened to come across my journal and read about the terrible event.

In high school it was “normal” for guys to comment about my body, both high school students or older men that would come into the cafe that I worked at.

In college I had a stalker who used threatening language to attempt to manipulate me and make me afraid of him.

In my early professional career, another employee–my boss— asked a married man to evaluate my body. Thank the Lord that man stood up for himself and for me and declared that moment to be highly inappropriate. My boss was later fired.

I now work in the ministry world. In Evangelical circles standing up for the defense of women and women’s rights can be a touchy subject. Most church leaders want to avoid being labeled as “man haters” or “leftist.” But regardless of political or theological lines, it is an irrefutable truth that women throughout the world are objectified, abused, and often oppressed. The church cannot be silent on this issue when one in five women sitting in sanctuary seats every weekend has, or will be, raped. 1 in 3 has experienced some level of sexual harassment, and 1 in 6 will be stalked.

The Church (meaning the collective group of people who profess Jesus as King) has a responsibility to stand up and speak out against violence and predatory behavior faced by women and girls around the world. I don’t want to pretend that I have the answers, but may I suggest a starting place? 

Listen. Thousands of women are telling us that they have been on the receiving end of some level of sexual harassment, assault, or otherwise predatory behavior. Thousands of women aren’t making this up. Please do not silence them. Please do not brush this issue off as women being “too sensitive.” Listen. Ask questions.

Men in particular, I realize that not all men act in these ways. I realize that many, dare I say most, of you value and protect women. As I think about the men in my life, most all of you speak value and worth into my life, and demonstrate tremendous protection and appreciation towards me and other women you know. But as this conversation grows louder and louder, can I encourage you to seek out ways to be more than “good guys?” Start by listening and striving to understand the systematic ways that your sisters have been mistreated, and ask God for the courage to stand against it alongside of them.

 

 

 

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The Gift That Saved A Baby’s Life

Old man winter has started knocking on the door. While the full-on-cold hasn’t quite hit, my family has pulled out our winter coats, and added extra blankets to our bedding.

We have one blanket that was given to us as a gift a few years ago. It’s big, and ridiculously soft. It’s heavy, and the best blanket to snuggle up with on a cold day with a good cup of dark roast coffee. Every single person in my household loves this blanket. My toddler often calls “Toddler Property Law” when it is in use by someone else (read: “If I want it, it’s mine). He affectionately refers to this blanket as “Bee Bee.”

When said toddler was a little younger one of his favorite things was being wrapped up in this blanket to nurse. He was warm, and felt secure. All was right with the world when he was in his mama’s arms being nurtured while wrapped in the cozy goodness this particular blanket offers.

But many mothers and babies throughout the world suffer lack of basic needs, and have no such blanket to keep them warm during cold seasons. Imagine giving birth, and being unable to shield your newborn child from the cold. Many mothers worldwide helplessly struggle to keep their babies healthy, and often lose the battle as their infants succumb to diseases like pneumonia.

If you know me at all you know that I am passionate about the work that World Vision is doing globally to combat dire poverty and injustice. One of the ways that World Vision is working is by aiding mothers and babies by providing essential items such as blankets, diapers, soap, and baby-care education classes and support. Mothers and babies being helped by World Vision are overcoming odds, and are surviving and thriving because of items we so often take for granted.

How many of you out there own a Thirty-One bag? I have two that I LOVE: a utility tote that I use when I travel, and a computer bag that I use every single day. Maybe a few of you reading this are Thirty-One consultants. If that’s you, then you already know your company has a great product.

But did you know that last year, Thirty-One Gifts generously matched $1,000,000 of Giving Tuesday donations to World Vision with product to be used in their programs?  Items like blankets are being provided to mothers and babies in some of the neediest areas of the world. Even in warmer places, keeping infants warm is essential to keeping them healthy, and can prevent pneumonia and other diseases.

Even better, this year on Giving Tuesday (November 29, 2016), any gift given to World Vision will be generously matched with a product donation from Thirty-One Gifts up to $2,000,000! That means that any donation you make will have TWICE the impact for helping families in need around the world.

By contributing generously to World Vision, you are helping real mothers like Margaret in Uganda. Margaret is nursing her nine-month-old daughter, Esther, who is sick with pneumonia. Esther has been sick for two weeks, having spent one week in the hospital.

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Photo: ©2013 World Vision/photo by Sylvia Nabanoba

Apart from the medication that Esther is receiving, this swaddling blanket has become one of Margaret’s treasured possessions. “Whenever it gets cold, I wrap her in it so that she feels warm. Even after bathing her I put it around her so that the cold does not get through to her,” Margaret says. She explains that the nurse at the hospital told her that although pneumonia is caused by bacteria, it is exacerbated by exposure to the cold. She explains that it has been really cold lately because of the rainy season.

You’re also helping young mothers like Anxhela. At the age of 17, she was one Albanian mother who longed for help as she prepared for the cold winter weather. Her family had recently been displaced from where they had set up their makeshift shelters. The land was not theirs so when the owner returned, they were forced to abandon their shelters, their possessions, their jobs, their routines, and everything familiar.

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Photo: ©2014 World Vision/photo by Klevisa Breshani

Anxhela delivered her first son, Gersi, only three months before she and her husband lost their home and were forced to move to the Transitional Emergency Center. “It was chilly and the room we live in is very humid,” she explains. “The clothes I received, for my son, for me, [for] my husband, and the blanket for the baby really helped,” she says.

I recently wrote out my Christmas shopping list. I get so excited about shopping for the people I love. I love to give gifts that tell someone, “I love you, and I’m glad that you’re in my life.” But as I analyze and evaluate the gifts I want to purchase for people, none of them are really necessities. I give gifts as tokens of my love, but nothing that I give to the people on my list is going to help them survive another day.

Buy by adding a New Mother and Baby Kit to the gift-buying list this year, gift giving can become life giving.

I’d like to invite you into a bigger story; a story of great compassion, justice, and joy. Consider partnering with me to invest in the well-being and survival of mothers and babies across the globe. While many items we give and receive this year will one day rust, break, wear out, or be forgotten, the lives changed by our willingness to step in the gap for these women and their babies will leave a lasting legacy.