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Living Loving Serving

Imparity Lament – We Can Do Better

I was asked the other day to think about the things that matter to me the most, the things I am passionate about, and those things that bring me joy. I am at a crossroads and seeking how to hear God in new ways and to uncover where he is leading me next. My mind went from what I do and what brings me joy to what really gets under my skin that I have been ignoring out of a fear that I will once again be rejected for what God is putting on my heart. So here I go with phase one of my journey of discovering where God and I will be walking next.

What Gets My Goat

– or those issues I see around me in a church setting, in religious discussion, and inflicted upon people I love and care about. They break down into four key issues of imparity or inequality. Race/immigration, age, gender, and marital status. Places where I have seen, and in some cases experienced, discrimination against someone because they are from outside my culture, older or younger, male, female, part of the LGBTQ community, and unmarried persons–be that never married, widowed, or especially divorced. I have walked through all of these areas as a senior citizen, a mother and friend, and as someone married, divorced, and widowed. I have sat with people living through the pain inflicted upon them by people at work, so-called well-intentioned friends, and religious communities. Unfortunately, their stories are painful and seldom filled with the love and joy that Jesus wished for us and commanded us to offer. The “church” can do better – we can love better, we can stand stronger as allies, we can follow Jesus and enter into places that seem so unholy and care better.

I can do better.

Categories
Living in Singleness

Becoming Invisible in a Coronavirus World

We are in a new era of forced isolation. There is no telling how long this will last. For those in their late-50s and older, “social-distancing” could become the new norm for us because doctors can’t say if the Coronavirus, or an offshoot of it, may come back next year. For an age group that is already trying to stay physically fit and actively engaged, this is like a slow death sentence. Melanie Joosten, a researcher at the National Ageing Research Institute (NARI) wrote that aging women especially experience a growing sense of becoming invisible. This feeling could become more of a reality as we carefully choose our external activities and social/work relationships to protect our health.

Women feel this sense of social isolation and lack of relevance much more than do men, according to coach Dr. Louise Mahler. In a 2016 NY TimesDr. Dhruv Khullar wrote: “About one-third of Americans older than 65 now live alone, and half of those over 85 do. People in poorer health — especially those with mood disorders like anxiety and depression — are more likely to feel lonely. ” He continues to explain that social separation is bad for our physical, cognitive, and mental health and that those who are isolated from society tend to die within seven years. 

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The need to be seen as relevant and as a contributing member of society matters for those entering their ” twilight years.”  Regular social contact and involvement is key. Dr Khullar quoted one senior as saying: “Your world dies before you do.” For our older population that is even more real today than ever before. As I have spoken with seniors in my community the past few days, I am finding that while their faith is keeping their spirits up, they desperately miss even the little bit of friendly contact that came from socializing in the grocery store. No longer is the store, the coffee shop, the neighborhood diner, or their place of worship a available to them to get out of the house and interact with friends and family.

For many seniors, participation in their ministries and charitable organizations has been a lifeline and provides a sustained a sense of purpose and contribution to society. Religious organizations bring a sense of spirituality and connection with community. For those who continue to work, they have the opportunity to share their experience while learning new skills and keeping their minds sharp and engaged. Take that away and loneliness, isolation, and depression are likely to set in. This is even more true for older adults living alone who today are unable to meet family, see grandchildren,or  venture to their communities and jobs. 

‘You shall rise up before the gray headed and honor the aged, and you shall revere your God; I am the LORD.   

Leviticus 19:32

Technology has helped to bridge some of the gaps older adults are feeling during social distancing. Once they get the hang of all the processes available to them to video chat and participate in streaming religious services or exercise classes, they may feel a momentary sense of connection and belonging. However, the crucial piece is to help them find relevance and purpose. If all they do is take in information they still lack an ability to contribute to society. This could lead to a greater level of social anxiety, depression, or other mental health concerns, according to Good Therapy.  These factors tend to be more prominent in women; however, because of  their tendency toward transparency in expressing loneliness. This again goes back to a societal response that respects maturing men over aging women and the notion that men still have something to contribute despite their age.

So what can we do in this period of forced isolation? Reach out on a regular basis to your older friends and family. Find a video platform that they are comfortable using because it helps to actually see the faces of our friends and family. Find some way for them to help. Maybe they can write letters or make phone calls to people in their religious and charitable organizations. Visit them from a safe social distance. Give them tasks to complete for which they are responsible. Acknowledge their skills and contributions, no matter how minor. Help our senior citizens feel that they are respected, needed, and connected and they will come through this crisis stronger and more engaged then ever before. 


Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another–and all the more as you see the day approaching. Hebrews 10


 

 

 

Categories
Living Loving Serving

Honoring the Women in Our Lives

Mother’s Day is this weekend. I was reminded by one of my favorite authors, Rosemarie Fitzsimmons of The Portrait Writer,  that it may not be easy for some of us to celebrate our mothers. Some of us may no longer have our moms with us while still others don’t have wonderful memories or relationships with their mothers.

As I reflect back on my own mother, I remember some sad times as she struggled in a marriage that was not kind to her and led her to find relief in a bottle of beer or cognac. Her alcoholism would tarnish her image for us children as we remember the angry outbursts and thefights with her husband. She could be rather brutal when under the influence and it would be easy to just remember that mother.

But my mother was also a generous loving woman. She loved her church and when not tending to the family, you could find her in service to the Lord or at school volunteering. People who met her there saw the heart of Jesus and a friend that would give everything for them. I think my sister and I learned those lessons–to give without ever expecting anything in return, simply because we are led by the Holy Spirit.

Unfortunately because of her alcohol abuse my mother wasn’t always available to me as a mother. She did her best. She loved us. Her outbursts were usually the result of frustration and fear that we were moving away from God’s will for us–meaning the “rules” of Catholic life. We couldn’t always talk to her about things because they might come back to haunt us later. That led me to find other strong women as mentors and mother figures.

There were Mrs. R. and Mrs. C, who understood my mother’s struggles and knew that I needed that little bit of extra attention. There was Marie who showed up throughout my life to step in during weddings and from whom  I would learn how to set a table and host guests with grace. My neighbor Pat who helped me lose weight in high school and gave me confidence to find friends in an awkward time. As I moved on with my life and following my mother’s death I have come to know some remarkable women, starting with my sister Marilyn who I watched navigate the ups and downs of marriage while my brother and I went through divorce after divorce.

There was my dear friend Gail who taught me how to live as an unmarried woman in love with the Lord. God sent me wonderful women friends with whom I could share my life challenges and would remind me that I am never alone and I am worthy of love and friendship. Still other mentors from my church world guide me to forgiveness for my own actions and into redemption through healing prayer. I have met wonderful women living in ministry and with sacrifice in the service of the Lord and to other women.

Today I want to remember all of these wonderful women that God put in my world to help me navigate life and draw nearer to him. I am extremely grateful to them for taking the time to listen, to share their story, and to pray with me. I appreciate the lessons I have learned and their willingness to walk with me into a new changed life.

Maybe Mother’s Day brings up some pain in your life. Maybe you don’t have the TV perfect mother and feel that you missed out. Maybe your mother was missing as you grew up and you feel abandoned.

If that is you, I encourage you to look beyond the label of the day and look at the women in your life. Is there someone who had a special impact on your life? Is there someone who you cherish because of the woman of God she is and the blessing you receive every time you get together?  Maybe she is an older woman and maybe she is a younger lady. Think about her. Honor her. Pray for her. Give thanks for her.

Don’t let this Sunday be a gloomy day for you. Don’t feel compelled to celebrate in the traditional manner. Seek out a woman who has touched you and give her a call. Thank her at church on Sunday. Take her out for lunch next week. Be blessed and then honor her in the best way possible: pass it on. Be a blessing to some woman or young girl that she too may know the joy of a giving relationship with women.

And if you are fortunate enough that the woman who influenced you most is your mom–breathe in that love, let it warm your heart, and make sure she knows the love and respect you have. If your relationship is strained with your mother, lift her up to the Lord and ask that he redeem your relationship and bring healing and restoration. In all things, give thanks for the life she gave you and the woman you are today.

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.
Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children,
to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. (Titus 2:3-5)

 

Categories
Living Loving Serving

Pro-Woman; Pro-Life

To say one is pro-woman and pro-life is contradictory to some. For me, it is a personal statement that I’m sure some of my readers will understand. I am someone who is committed to encouraging women to be all that God calls them to be. That could be a leader, a follower, a mother, wife, or singe woman.I believe that women have special gifts and talents which should be celebrated and strengthened.

I also believe that life begins at conception and that life should be cherished from that moment through death. I believe that life rests in the hands of a loving God and it is not up to man to determine when life should end. That also means that I am against the death penalty.

I am also a woman who has been held back by men in the workplace and in religious settings. I am a woman who has seen women promoted to equal standing with men, and I have heard stories of women who believe they were passed over for men. I understand that for many years men have made decisions on behalf of women and the tide is turning as women step into places of authority. I also believe that we must always consider the merit of the person and not the gender or lifestyle of an individual when making decisions about roles.

I am pro-life because I am one of those women who was bullied into obtaining an abortion. It was a matter of my marriage or our child and I made the wrong choice–in both cases. I have talked with many women who felt they had no option but to seek an abortion and have suffered their decision in silence. It has taken years for me to even tell the people closest to me about my own experience for fear of judgement, recrimination, shunning, or even hatred. Today I find when I am willing to share my story other women open up and share theirs. Together we grieve and heal. Every year I remember that dreadful day and I pray that in sharing my regret I can help other women struggling with their own choice to choose life.

So yes, we can be pro-woman and pro-life. We can support women when they find themselves with an unplanned pregnancy to choose life. We can direct them to resources and more importantly, we can commit to help them. This is especially needed for young single women who feel they have no other choice but to seek an abortion. We can reach out in love and compassion to women who made the choice to have an abortion. For some, we need to guide them to someone to pray with them for healing.

The one thing that leaves me disappointed today as men and women take to the streets of Washington DC to stand for life, are the few resources that actually come alongside a woman in need of financial and emotional assistance to care for her unborn and born child. We as a pro-life community need to do more than give lip service to our cause. This is the time to make a real difference in bonding together and committing to the actual care of women in pregnancy crisis. Adoption often is not a desired choice for many women and families, and therefore, we need to find a way to become less than mouthpieces and more like brothers, sisters, mothers, and fathers, counselors, and guardians to these unborn children.

We as women MUST support other women in all the trials and joys of their life. To that end, if you are a woman who made the abortion choice and live in the northern Virginia area, please feel free to message me and I will gladly help you find healing and recovery. If you are pregnant and don’t know what to do- I am including some links below for you.I hope you will reach out to someone for help where needed.

God bless you brave women!!

Sanctity of Life Ministries, Fairfax, VA

Care Net

Bethany Services  in Fairfax, VA(including adoption)

JAFCO (Jewish Adoption and Foster Care)