April 23, 2013

A Year of (a) Biblical Woman(wearing a)hood

Today was a really special day for me. Today I took the time to walk around downtown and wander into my favourite (two story) used-book store: The Owl's Nest. It was one of the first of the city's treasures that I discovered when I moved to Fredericton four years ago. The store has funny comics, interesting posters, countless creepy owls to watch you peruse their books, and the store is even home to a cat named Pepper; talk about character! Anyway, today was a special day, because while walking through the store I recalled the last time I made the same trail to the Christian Non-fiction section. Way back in November I had made a solo trip similar to today's and found myself staring at, what looked to be, with a few additions or subtractions, probably the same books. November's visit to the shop had me captivated, but interestingly enough it was not because of the shelves upon shelves of gold worthy stories waiting to be explored, but it was largely due to the story I was hearing

The radio was tuned in to CBC, yet another reason to be fascinated with this place, and an interview was airing about a new "Christian book" (I use the term so that you know what I mean, and I use the quotation marks because a book cannot decide to follow Jesus, and I have a pet peeve of things being declared 'sacred' or 'secular' and the like) by a Christian woman who decided to live a year of biblical womanhood. What really caught my attention was the fact that it was banned in most Christian bookstores, because it contained the word vagina. (Well there goes my hopes of this blog ever being promoted at one of the 5 bookstores in the city.) I thought that was rather crazy seeing as Christian women have the same anatomy as non-Christian women, and you know what, bookstore owners? That word you're banning had a part in your coming to be, just so you know. 

Any who, back to what's important. I was instantly filled with the "people should read it for themselves and discern if this book should be read. I should read that book!" I paid for a copy of Eugene Peterson's The Message (so that I have one to lend), and rushed home to google the CBC interview, and scramble to remember the author's name...err Rachel something. I decided I would read this book. So, schoolwork happened, months went by, and then I came across this author's blog. Right! I want to read that book. I ordered it through my university library's documentary delivery service...and a couple weeks later I caught news of the book from a library in NJ waiting for me. 

I couldn't put it down. Seriously. The past couple days have been nothing but book for me. Book in the sun, book on the bus, book walking downtown while people dodged me on my way to The Owl's Nest. You have got to read it. By the way have I mentioned that the book is called A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans? Yeah, you should probably know that. 

It's about a woman who looks at passages of scripture addressing or pertaining to women about lifestyle, dress, and everything in between. Each month she focuses on a different virtue of biblical womanhood: January was valor, April -purity, June -submission, etc. For 365 days she didn't cut her hair,  she devoted herself to the duties of the home, and dressed modestly. You might be thinking she's crazy, but it truly is good to subject ourselves to things like this (at the very least reading about them) so that we may be aware of what it meant/means to live a life of biblical womanhood, and so that we may decide for ourselves what is relevant today for our individual lives. 

What I liked best about the book was how everything was backed up with scripture, and it wasn't one of those flip and find kind of books it was a "I'm doing this, because in this verse it says ......". I liked that the book read like a story...err...a compilation of blog posts. Rachel was honest with what she struggled with, what she didn't want, and the times that she spent crying on the kitchen floor, because yes, it happens to the best of us. Not only does she dig deep about scripture directed towards women, but she also includes stories of women from the bible who can often be overlooked. 

I'm going to be honest...there was one thing I didn't like about the book, and it was through no fault of Rachel's; there were more than a few references to the consumption of guinea pigs. My little M&Ms (Mary and Martha) have such a special place in my heart that I some how managed to forget that in some countries my little girlies would be supper. I'm going to have to work on forgetting that. 

I left The Owl's Nest and came home to finish the last few pages of A Year of Biblical Womanhood that I was savouring. Just as this journey to and through Rachel's book began with my favourite bookstore, with that it ended. 

I feel as though I know Rachel. I'm pretty sure we'd be good friends. (She retweeted me, thanking me for reading the book, so that signifies friendship...right?) I felt as though I was right along side her throughout the steps of her journey. Many of the things she was thinking, I often think. Many of the things she struggles with, I struggle with, and her river of writing is quite similar to that of mine. A good author leaves readers feeling full, but a great author leaves readers overflowing. This is what I am, overflowing. I feel so encouraged to write, so excited to read, and so inspired to live,-live a life of biblical womanhood that is, a life of figuring out exactly what that means to me. 

In other news:  "Read A Year of Biblical Womanhood" is now in my bucket.  
You can buy the book is on sale for 12ish dollars and you can buy it here

Here are some great quotes from the book:

"We all wrestle with how to interpret and apply the Bible to our lives. We all go to the text looking for something and we all have a tendancy to find it. So the question we have to ask ourselves is this: Are we reading with the prejudice of love or are we reading with the prejudices of judgement and power, self-interest and greed? 
      If you are looking for Bible verses with which to support slavery, you will find them. If you are looking for verses with which to abolish slavery, you will find them....This is why there are times when the most instructive question to bring to the text is not, what does it say? but what am I looking for?" (296). 

"The apostles never meant for their letters to be interpreted and applied as law in the same way that the Torah had been, so careful readers must do the hard work of sorting through which instructions might continue to illuminate and guide the modern church, and which are more specific to the context..."(260).  In the same letter to Timothy that Paul writes about women not having authority over men, he also writes that 'men everywhere should pray, lifting holy hands..' (1 Timothy 2:8). There's all kinds of good stuff and historical context in this book about women and leadership in the church...which, incase you didn't know, I'm all for if they feel called by God. 

"Some rabbis say that, at birth, we are each tied to God with a string, and that every time we sin, the string breaks. To those who repent of their sins, especially in the days of Rosh Hashanah, God sends the angel Gabriel to make knots in the string, so that the humble and contrite are once again tied to God. Because each one of us fails, because we all lose our way on the path to righteousness from time to time, our strings are full of knots. So the person with many sins but a humble heart is closer to God" (303). -What a heart-warming way to look at repentance. 

"But according to Ahava, the woman described in Proverbs 31 is not some ideal that exists out there; she is present in each one of us when we do even the smallest things with valor" (90). 

"For Brother Lawerence, God's presence permeated everything- from the pots and pans in the kitchen sink to the water and soap that washed them. Every act of faithfulness in these small tasks communicated his love for God and desire to live in perpetual worship. 'It is enough for me to pick up a straw from the ground for the love of God,' he said" (29). 

"The apostle's elevation of singleness as the ideal stands in stark contrast to the modern Church's fixation on marriage and family. Singles were celebrated in the Church then, and should be now" (107-108). 

"In fact, it seems that most of the Bible's instructions regarding modesty find their context in warnings about materialism..(128). She earlier mentions that modesty is about so much more than clothing. A large part of it is presenting ourselves in a way that our inner self is allowed to shine through. It is a state of mind. It is order, self control, and simplicity. 

April 11, 2013

Enjoy Yourself

"Enjoy yourself, it's later than you think,
Enjoy yourself, while you're still in the pink.
The years go by, as quickly as a wink,
Enjoy yourself, enjoy yourself, it's later than you think."

These lyrics have been floating around in my mind as I come to terms with the big move that I'm about to have. It't not big because I have a lot of stuff, nor due to the distance. It is a big move, because it is going to cause a lot of change in my life.

Today I reminded myself that it really is later than I think.
My four years in Freddy are almost done!!!

So today I:

+ Used up the credit I had earned at the Christian bookstore. (Woo hoo!)

+ Submitted one of my last papers (Hallelujah!)

+ Enjoyed sitting in the gym waiting for my roommate.

+ Made friends with my building's plumber. (Shout out to Jack!)

+ Made friends with the lady who runs Tae Kwon Do at the gym. (Hey new Buddy: Barb!)

+ At a cheeseburger

+ Slept in until 7:30!

+ Stepped out on to the balcony and breathed in the fresh air.

+ Was incredibly patient as I waited 22 minutes at Value Village to pick up a gift certificate.

+ Used up the rest of my Photocopy card at the library (wont be needing that!)

+ Called one of my best friends.

+ Drove around Fredericton breathing in the blessings.

There are many things here that I am going to miss, but I would have missed more if I didn't take time to enjoy myself. Time for some exam prep, and paper writing!

Enjoy your day!

April 3, 2013

No EquiveLENT

The season of Lent has come and gone, and I've been reunited with my favourite food group. Let me tell you, after 46 days without almost all of my favourite foods, the meat that I tasted Easter morning was fantastic. My roommate woke up to the smell of maple bacon and to me sitting in the living room staring at my full plate of bacon. My weekend was filled with ham, bacon, turkey, AND a CHEESEBURGER! Oh glorious cheeseburgers. Just so you know...I have a bit of a passion for cheeseburgers....one of my professors even named my Cheeseburger Girl after the first week of class. There were almost tears in my eyes when my friend Ashley suggested we make burgers. I devoured my burger, and with the last bite in my mouth, I made room for the words, "this may be the Lent speaking, but that was the best burger I've ever tasted." 

So what were the 46 days like?

The first couple of weeks were quite difficult, not because of the withdrawal, but because of the limiting food options. My first night at my mom's house with no meat, she listed off foods that she had that I could eat...one being chicken noodle soup. My breakfast sandwiches had to become "fried egg sandwiches", stir frys had to become meatless, and eating out was near impossible. Instead of my usual "2 Cheeseburgers with just ketchup"...I was left with only fries. When my grandparents treated me to a meal at the Big Stop I realized just how unaccommodating menus are to vegetarians. EVERYTHING on the menu was made with meat...even all three of the soup options. I ended up ordering a chicken salad (without the chicken), but I enjoyed the cranberries and mandarine oranges that were added. My friends didn't make it easy for me...every time we shared a meal I was always offered meat. I can still remember the 20th day of Lent. I hadn't smelled bacon in 20 days and my roommate decided to make some. I had to physically go in my room and shut the door. These 46 days were very prayerful days. 

I was surprised to learn that other restaurants have hidden vegetarian options, such as Burger King. I enjoyed my first ever veggie burger while driving home to Nova Scotia one night. Swiss Chalet also delighted my taste buds with a fancy veggie burger. Food options at Sobeys pleasantly surprised me with delicious simulated Chicken nuggets, and "interesting" veggie ground beef. But none of this really matters...because even though all these vegetarian options contained the same amount of nutrients as meat and claimed to be the equiveLENT of eating meat... there is no substitute for the real thing. I relied on prayer for energy, which worked well, but I still ended up dropped quite a few pounds, which is not something I set out to do. After looking in the mirror after my large plate of bacon, I saw noticed that I had that just-eaten-meat glow. It didn't matter how many man made "meats" I tried...nothing was an adequate equiveLENT. Nothing ever compares to the real thing. I gained a lot of respect for vegetarians, but I gained a whole lot more insight into God's love...nothing will ever compare to the real thing. No matter where I turn to find joy, peace, and love...nothing will ever nourish me like God. 

There you have it. 
If God's love is kind of like a cheeseburger, then give me a burger and call me Cheeseburger Girl. 

Photo cred to my roommate who enjoyed this moment almost as much as me.