Where the Light Shines

Do we dare to search?

Do we dare  to seek?

Will we break the bond?

Will they understand?

Does it matter?

Shine the light.

Lead the way.

Follow the path.

Move forward.

Trust.

Where the light shines.

Copyright Maggie Marcum

 

 

 

 

 

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I Am Not Invisible: My Personal March

I can still remember standing in the middle of the cafeteria at The Meadows and screaming those words. I was on a perch above the lunch crowd, dutifully acting out my task for the day. At that time I was a woman who felt unseen by her family, her workplace, her church, and even the people in treatment with me.

I had come to this point because for most of  my life I felt invisible. I had learned to hide in a family with alcoholism and domestic abuse, to stay under the radar. I had been body-shamed either for developing early, being too fat, or being too skinny; so I tried not to call attention to myself. I grew up at a time when most women were not seen for their value-added in the work environment. And although I knew women in ministry areas, others frequently were held back to certain “lady-like” areas: prayer teams, women’s ministry, altar guild, and hospitality.

I understand how some women today can feel invisible or at a minimum, not heard. It took me three times of yelling out “I AM NOT INVISIBLE” before the people in the cafeteria even turned to hear me–and then they applauded my bravery. Funny thing is, they didn’t really see me after my bold action, but I saw me. I learned that I needed to stand up for myself, even if no one else was with me.

Even when we push forward and make strides as women, some still evaluate us based on our sexuality or ‘beauty.’ One of my challenges in a government position of leadership was to maintain my femininity while asserting myself in a mostly male-run environment. It was not unusual to see women take on more masculine traits to be validated while women who maintained femininity were seen as light-weights (or light-headed?). I still remember a dear friend asking me during an event at a conference: “What would a man do? He would just go right in like he belonged there, even if he didn’t get an invitation.” It was a reminder that we as women need to step up and out of our comfort zone to be seen and heard. And we need to do it for one another.

I can understand why some think that they need special treatment (i.e., legislation) to overcome the bias that continues to exist in work places. Unfortunately, there is no legislation that will change the mind (or behavior) of some individuals about women, anymore than legislation has changed the opinion some have about the LGBT community or minorities. These minds will only be changed as those of us who see the value and worth of women (and other communities) promote their merit and help secure a future for them.

All things are legitimate, but not all things are helpful. All things are legitimate, but not all things are constructive and edifying. (1 Corinthians 10:23)

I know that we need to rise above the negativity and not come down to the level of those using vile language to describe and assess women. We don’t need to repeat their words to be heard – we need a new positive language that validates what we already know. We were all created in the image of God and all have the same value in his eyes and should have it in the eyes of each other. We don’t need to take terms that defile women and turn them on ourselves. Our strength will come from demonstrating and demanding respect for each other.

I have taken my own steps in that direction. I have bonded with other like-minded women and we are uplifting and encouraging one another. I have thrown my hat in the ring for leadership positions because even if I was overlooked, my name was in front of those making decisions. I am committed to building a community of single persons, especially women. I am studying ways to help them see their contribution and to stand with them as they discern their ministry or professional calling. And I am using this platform to share my story of transformation and new life to encourage others to seek out help where it is needed.

Let each one of us make it a practice to please his neighbor for his good and for his true welfare, to edify him. Romans 15:3

I am not invisible anymore. I know that I was made for purpose. My purpose, my calling, may differ from yours, and I respect that. We may view world priorities differently, and I am willing to learn from those differences in opinion. I have discovered that being happy and content in my skin may make some people uncomfortable, and that I need to step into leadership respectfully understanding that change is never easy. I will keep my one-woman march forward going, with my eyes turned upward and with the prayers and support of those that believe in my journey. I will be responsible for me and not blame others when things don’t go my way–I will find a way to make it work if I discern it is God’s will.

My prayer for you today therefore is that you become willing to take action to be seen and heard where you are called to be an instrument of change. I pray that you will seek God’s will for your life and step forward with courage. I pray that you will go high when others go low, that they may see up from where they stand. I pray that you will sow seeds of encouragement and that you will be a vessel of compassion for those less fortunate for you. I pray you will go with God wherever he takes you.

For the Lord shall be your confidence, firm and strong, and shall keep your foot from being caught. Proverbs 3:26

The photo used for this post is the ‘invisible’ stealth carrier.

 

Navigating the Wave of Change

Change is to alter, make different, transform, to switch, and to break from the old. Change can be difficult when we first realize we must do something differently in our lives. Change can be even more traumatic when thrust upon us and outside of our control. 

If we have made the decision to change something in our lives,  it is likely that we are moving toward or away from something. Angela Dunbar writes that we move away from that which we don’t like or  toward something beginning–often with goals set. If we make a decision to change things in our lives and in our environment, we need to consider the actions we should take and then commit to those actions. Through the process of reaching a new state of being,  we may discover areas that require healing or we may come upon new information that causes us to re-evaluate the steps we are taking. It is important to remember that this is a journey and while the path may take unexpected turns, we need to stay with the journey to the end. In the pain of change comes true transformation.

And then there is change beyond our control. Some event may occur that knocks us off our feet. This usually happens in relationships. Perhaps the person you thought you would have a long-term relationship with isn’t on the same page as you and your friendship suddenly ends. Perhaps you have unexpectedly lost a loved one–a parent or a spouse/partner. Maybe you lost a job you loved or were forced into retirement when you still wanted to work. This sort of change is much more traumatic because we frequently don’t have the time to process the change; it just happens and we are left without a plan.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

I know for me that without my faith and trust in God to guide me through change, planned or unplanned, I would most likely curl up into a little ball. I have actually done that on occasion; however, I am fortunate that some wonderful women of faith reached out to me and reminded me that I am loved, I have value, and I have worth in the eyes of God. And when I think I am alone, I must remind myself that God will never desert me. I can pick up my bible or a spiritually-influenced book and let the words guide me through my times of uncertainty. Some times its a short process of getting on with the changes while other times I dig my heels in and it takes enormous pain (hitting bottom) before I will do what I need to do. No matter what, the commitment is to embrace the change, to grow, and to become better than I was the day before.

If we were to look through the bible we find it full of stories of individuals who were thrown into circumstances beyond their control and came through the fire, changed for the better. Look at Moses who walked away from a charmed life to live in the desert and ultimately became the voice of the Lord and a leader of change for a nation. David, who made extraordinarily wrong choices that cost people, including his own child, their lives. He became willing to embrace change and altered the course of history. What about a young woman who had a plan for her life only to have the angels tell her nothing she was planning was a great as what God had in mind. And in her obedience, the world was changed.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.(Jeremiah 29:11)

No matter what is happening in your world today, change is going to occur. How we navigate the waters of change will determine our ability to find joy in the change. If we take the perspective that change is an awful painful thing against which we should fight, it is likely that we will drown in depression and anger or sadness. If we can accept or even embrace, the change (planned or not) and seek God’s will for our lives, we will ultimately find peace and maybe even joy.

I pray that you will seek out the positive aspects of change, ask the Lord to reveal his new plan for you, and trust that a new day is coming. I pray that your heart and mind will be transformed and that you will be challenged to share what God has done for you with others who suffer. May you find blessings in your trials and courage to take action.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Philippians 4:6-8)

 

Inspired Change

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Have you ever found yourself in a place where you know something has to change but you aren’t sure what next step to take? Have you stayed in a place out of a sense of obligation when you know something isn’t right? Have you wondered if it is time to move on yet you feel trapped or you fear the change?

I think we all have these struggles from time to time. Change is a choice. We can choose to stay in the uncomfortable zone and ‘suffer through’ it or we can choose to ask for help to discern which next step to take. For me, this decision starts with prayer and asking others to pray with me so that I can get out of my head and away from emotions that might influence my decision to stay or to bolt.

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Pushing Through

I am no a fan of the cold. I am much happier in my flip flops and a little sweater. But it looks like winter isn’t going to skip us this year after all and I have to face that reality. I have to push through my belief that we should be warm all year and face the fact that I am going drag out my coat.

Life is like that. We have choices to make about where we are today and where we want to be tomorrow. We need to look at what we need to change to improve our circumstances and decide if we are going to commit to that change. We may have to do things we would prefer not to do to get where we need to be.  Or are we going dig in and wait for the world to come around?

Be proactive! 

Look to the future with anticipation. If that means you have to make some changes today, then make some changes. If you have to put your boots on and drudge through some snow and mud to get to the other side, then be willing to do it and do it! If you have to set aside your flip flops for a while because it’s the right thing to do, then put them away until you are in a better place to enjoy the things you love.

A young man I know loves to play hockey. Unfortunately he has suffered another concussion and he has made the choice to step out as a player. It is a hard choice but he has realized that the long-term effects could negatively impact the rest of his life. He still loves the game and will find a new way to engage. He is hanging up his pads and facing the reality that something has to change for him to move forward. It won’t be easy, but it is what is best.

Maybe there is something from which you need to disengage to improve your circumstances. Maybe you need to add something to step towards your goal. Consider what that might be and share that idea with someone. Ask them to pray with you and to support you as you transition. 

Create a new positive and healthy reality. Push through that which holds you back and embrace the possibility of what can be. 

New Year Wishes

Dear Friends,

I have been away for a while. My life journey has taken me to places I never planned to go and as I start the New Year, I wonder how many of you have found yourself where you never imagined. Maybe you didn’t accomplish everything you thought you would in 2015. Maybe your life circumstances changed and turned your world on its head. Or maybe things went in an unexpected positive direction and you are still amazed by the blessing in your life. Continue reading

The Darkness of Singleness

Living alone often can amplify the negative voices in our head because we have no one to counter them. Our feelings of discouragement, sadness, or incompleteness may overcome us at times. Being honest about our struggles isn’t always easy, especially if we already feel alone and unwanted. It may be difficult to believe that we are capable of change or that our lives will improve. We may be afraid to admit  to someone else what is going on because we fear judgement, when in reality; the people around us already know something isn’t quite right.  They may not know how to tell us, or they have tried to tell us and we couldn’t get what they were saying. We thought—you don’t know how lonely I am, you don’t know what it is like to not have that special person, you don’t know….fill in the blank. Continue reading