It is not an easy thing to convince a woman who has disassociated from body, compartmentalized her self and skin, dismissed her better nature to do things unspeakable in the light, to help her know she is loved of God. The club is often the last place, the bottom rung, the lowest tier, where women come when they find there is nowhere else to go, believe there is nowhere left to turn and are convinced they must rely upon their flesh to pull them through the darkness... The women whom I’ve met in the clubs are like the people in the receiving line at a funeral, they are preoccupied with the end. Like people who are facing their own mortality, women in the sex trade are focused on the final judgment, what happens after this life, it seems for them there is no care for today, only fear for tomorrow. There is no connection to the abundance of the kingdom, only the death grip of scarcity so they lunge and grasp for grace like the last hand of help before falling off the cliff, they know nothing of deliverance, only fear of the flames. What of God’s love, what of freedom in Christ, power of the Spirit? This is all long gone, wrestled out of their clinched fist the first time the family member held them down in the dark and went too far, stolen away with their innocence when their mothers overdosed on Oxycontin and the foster care system dealt host dads with scotch soaked breath sneaking into their bedrooms at night. They sell their bodies to those same busted up characters who come in night after night and toss out a $20 bill for a table top dance and then these women go home to the men whom they love who can never seem to find work while she holds down a shift at Walgreen's during the day and rushes back to change into her ten inch silicone stilettos by 8 pm. They sit, these men the dancers love, and play Halo and Grand Theft Auto with teenagers online, they drink cheap beer while children play quietly in the yard.
The above is an excerpt from my book, and my prayer is that it gives you some insight into the lives of the women, and the work to which I have been called. It is the sacred work of saying and living “God loves you right here, right now, no matter what” that gives my life purpose and fire and was the impetus of the Butterflies of Hope Outreach ministry. Every once in a while, a woman is ready, is open, has decided to take our hand and jump, to trust God far enough to get her out, to help her find another path, and in these miraculous, universe altering moments we need places like Dove Harbor
to stand ready and able to help her transition into a new way of life.
In these final days of July, I am working to raise money to underwrite a time of transition for dancers who want to find a new way. $150 will cover living expenses for a month for women in crisis;
my goal is to raise 3 months of expenses
during the Great Give
. Will you consider giving $5 to our cause??? Two ways to give: If you don't have Paypal account, click here for direct link.
You'll be asked if your gift is in response to a particular story, click "yes" and add "Kimberly Majeski" so that SisterFitness will know these funds are towards the BOHO goal. Or Paypal users:
How much are you able to give to change the lives of women in desperation? As most of you know, I lead a ministry team, Butterflies of Hope Outreach that exists to make the love and hope of Jesus known to women in sex trade industry. We visit local strip clubs, share meals, celebrate life, pray and build intentional relationships with women in difficult situations. Over the years it has become apparent that women who decide to leave the industry need help to transition. Financial resources, safe housing, job training and mentoring are essential for women to be able to establish a new path. Dove Harbor provides all this and more
and that's why I'm partnering with SisterFitness
this month to raise funds for this tremendous ministry in our community. The Great Give lasts from now until July 30, please consider donating $5 or more to help women help women. You'll find the Donate button below. I
t is simple and easy to give and a little goes a long way if we are in this together! Thanks in advance for your loving support!! To learn more about the Great Give click here
. All monies donated from now until July 30 will be given to Dove Harbor to help provide transitional services to women and children in need.
Since community is necessary for the study of Scripture, the sharing, the insight, the process incumbent on sorting through difficult texts, the hard work of exegesis and interpretation, teaching Bible in an online format presents a significant challenge.
After a few years of resistance, owed to my purist approach and poor student evaluations I was referred to a course through the Wabash Institute on Teaching Online.
While the course was not specifically designed for professors of Biblical Studies, I met more than a few who were as frustrated as I was with the prospect. Through the process, I learned some tips and tools and was able to adjust these for teaching my online Bible courses. What follows are a few things that have proved useful to me and my students, things I wish I had known in the beginning. I offer this with gratitude to my students who have offered helpful feedback and have been patient and receptive through change.
1. Group Study-Facilitating a sense of connection is important in any classroom but it is crucial for online students who are separated by distance and schedules and life stations. To help facilitate community, I assigned groups of 4-5 students each. These groups would then serve as a cohort, so that it would be within this group that students would share weekly postings and reflect together.
2. Group Work-As a student, I hated this myself, I wanted to be graded on my own merit but there is nothing that can bond you together like a common project. The first assignment in my course is an identification project where students must identify people, places and events from the Greco-Roman era. Each group is assigned 75 items and are allowed to divide the work as they wish, and they post this exercise in a Moodle activity called “Glossary.”
3. Distinction from Group- Though students post weekly within their group and work on the initial assignment as a group, each person is assigned a color. This makes grading easy as I am able to see how much “red” has added to the project and how little “blue” has contributed. Students know that they are graded only on their own work.
4. Weekly Interaction-One of the most difficult parts of teaching online, in my opinion was managing the many forums and responses to forums each week. I simply didn’t have time to go through them all and make meaningful comments or offer helpful feedback. As a result, students felt as though they had no interaction with their instructor. Since my university uses Moodle as our online platform, I decided to link to an outside wiki to create an easier format for weekly conversation.
In my wiki I create a page for each group and each week upload a discussion question and a table where each student in the group is assigned a column and reminded of his/her assigned color. Students post in their color and column initially and also must reflect and engage with at least two other students in those students’ columns but in their own color. This is helpful in that I visit the wiki frequently each week, look at the pages, and all in one place I’m able to offer feedback in my color so that we have a common conversation. Additionally, students are able to keep the questions, insights and feedback from the course for their own use moving forward.
5.Coming Together- At the end of each unit I offer a synchronous online chat, so that there are three per semester. Students are required to attend at least one, but typically most students attend each session. This is an opportunity for us to gather at the same time and be online together so that we can share questions, comments and insights and feedback is immediate.
6. Content- In the online format content CAN NOT depend solely on the lecture. Since we are delivering the course through the web it is necessary to understand and use technology as a resource not a hindrance. This can be especially difficult if your students have varying technological skills and abilities. I recommend that a basic review of these skills and capabilities, (i.e., basic understanding of online media, web surfing, you tube video posting, email, online chat) be introduced and evaluated in the application process of the online program. Use video, reading and activities as your primary teaching tools and supplement with weekly video postings that are succinct and created for your online students.
7. Questions and Comments- There is nothing so frustrating as answering the same question thirty times or more which is what I did when online students contacted me via email. This year I added a “comment” block on my Moodle course home page and instructed students to post any and all questions that were suitable for the entire class. I explained this was the space where we “raise our hands” and ask questions or make comments for which all might find beneficial and asked them to send me messages through Moodle only for those questions that needed to be sent to me personally. I was able to check the Moodle home page regularly and respond in one place and keep students informed.
I hope these changes I have made can be helpful for you too. Please feel free to share your ideas and insights here too!
My beautiful and brilliant niece with hair the color of summer strawberries was five years old the first time I heard her recount the story of Lydia, “the lady with the purple cloths.” Blue eyes dancing, freckles sprinkled across her nose, she knew, she was aware that women were part of the story of God and she knew the story was her own. “Wise beyond her years , this one” we always said of her.
I was thinking of my niece Lylah, dreaming of home while in a summer intensive on Wisdom Literature at the University of Notre Dame; it was then and there that I first began to see her take form. I caught a glimpse of her silhouette as I read through the apocryphal books, those early writings that informed the evangelists as they wrote the gospels, undergirded Paul as he shepherded the fledgling congregations, and inspired the early church for centuries until they were removed in 1790 at the formation of the Protestant Canon. Books of poetry and prose, ancient literature, windows into the world of theocentric faith prior to the revelation of Jesus, in many instances the missing pieces of the so called “four hundred years of silence” that literally thundered with Persians and Greeks and Romans.
Wisdom protected the first-formed father of the world, when he alone had been created;
she delivered him from his transgression,
and gave him strength to rule all things.
But when an unrighteous man departed from her in his anger,
he perished because in rage he killed his brother.
When the earth was flooded because of him, wisdom again saved it,
steering the righteous man by a paltry piece of wood…
There it was, staring back at me, the stories of the beginning, tales of the patriarchs but this time Wisdom saved, healed, rescued. Here Wisdom personified as in Proverbs, “she.”
She gave to holy people the reward of their labors;
she guided them along a marvelous way,
and became a shelter to them by day,
and a starry flame through the night.
She brought them over the Red Sea,
and led them through deep waters;
but she drowned their enemies,
and cast them up from the depths of the sea (Wisdom of Solomon10).
The word for wisdom in both Hebrew hokmah and Greek sophia are feminine such that the ancients then wrote of the Wisdom of God as a female. This is the Wisdom that emanates from the mouth of Jesus in Matthew’s gospel, the Wisdom that is Paul’s banner and proclamation in Corinthians, it is this Wisdom in John’s prologue that is God come to us in Jesus.
As you trace the lines, follow the grace filled pathways to discover Lady Wisdom you will find God is not always nor completely “He” rather there is a long biblical tradition that stretches from Old Testament to New, wherein the Wisdom of God is female, you will begin to see our story written right into the text.
Our little wisdom teacher turns 15 in a few days and for all the gift she has been to us, I thank God for the gift of the Wisdom Lady standing tall and serene guiding us, reminding us we are God's own.
As a child of divorce, I know first hand how difficult it can be to move forward, find your way and learn to trust again when you feel like your life blows up. Sometimes it seems more complicated by the fact that we are Christians dealing with circumstances beyond our control. The love, care and response of the church for hurting people can not be overstated. This is a powerful program we recorded recently with a couple of people struggling to find health and wholeness after divorce. To learn more about Christian's Broadcasting Hope
and the Viewpoint
Radio Ministry click here
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Sand and palms, breeze rolls in off the sea, sun beats down and she hears the cries of her children. She settles land disputes, answers the widow’s claim and listen’s for God on the wind; Israel, Yahweh’s ever unfaithful bride and Deborah her prophet and mother. Her story a bit obscure, tucked inside the history of the shophatim eclipsed by the conquest of Joshua, the sun standing still, the bloodshed and battlecries of men; Deborah’s is a story of faithfulness, a witness to shema, to hear and obey God. We tug at the threads of the Tanak to find her and the song of her victory to know her more, this woman and warrior.
Considered some of the oldest material in the Hebrew Canon, this ancient poetry, the Song of Deborah found in Judges chapter 5, is shaped by the actions of female characters around whom the story is fashioned. Deborah, the mother of Israel who leads the armies to battle at Meggido, Jael who is blessed among women and Sisera’s mother who waits in vain for the return of her son.
For those of us currently obsessed with the Game of Thrones series--and who isn't--perhaps Deborah is an ancient Daenyerus Stormborn type, if only with more clothing and much darker hair and skin. Both are women who step into their destiny, who rule and lead and rescue those placed in their care, those who call them Mother or Mhysa. While Deborah’s beast is a mule not a dragon such as is Daenyerus, both are women driven by providence to rise.
It seems important to tell Deborah’s story maybe now more than ever after the dust has settled and many have forgotten her song. It seems important to remind ourselves of her strength and courage even now while the battle rages on about women and if they can be used by God and if the ways in which they might be used are limited because of their own Divine image bearing gender.
There are books to tell us how we should live, Christian Women’s Bible Studies fashioned around idols of perfection held up as our standard, we women who love God. But before all that, before stories were interpreted and illustrated according to the context and cultures of the modern era, there was a woman who ruled the people of God.
Deborah of course, would not have had any sort of military training, would never have run drills or have learned how to lead armies of men into the fray. It is true, God’s call met her, led her outside of the norm, counter to a proscribed female role but that’s what God’s call will do, take you outside of yourself, carry you into lands you do not know, ask you to depend on God rather than what you know or where you’ve been or how much you can do.
The Hebrew word shema is to hear and obey. Different than the English equivalent, there is no need for a second word, to hear God was to obey God. How would our lives change if upon hearing God’s call we did that crazy, unreasonable, unbelievable, illogical thing, answered the tug in our spirit that cries, “Go, Be, Do.” For Deborah it meant leaving the palm trees, exchanging her perch for a saddle and finally 40 years of peace for Israel.
Today I am praying for all my sisters, women and warriors, for clarity of call and certainty of mission even as you trod uncharted territory and leap into waters unknown. May you find comfort in Deborah’s song and know that God has always called and the faithful have always answered, that gifts usurp gender, that fear and doubt are not from God. Today as you rock babies and close deals, prepare dinner, wash laundry and convene committees sing her song and find the will to rise.
I was so honored to contribute to the anthology, "Called to Minister, Empowered to Serve"
along with other female clergy and scholars whom I admire greatly. This book offers a biblical, historical, theological and ethical rationale for women in ministry in the voice of, from the perspective of and in the Spirit of women
. Below you can read an excerpt from my chapter on Women in the Old Testament. "Called to Minister, Empowered to Serve"
is now available in Kindle
Edition at amazon.com In the pages of the Hebrew Bible we find beautiful imagery and noble typography, contours of women who have gone before us and left their mark. In the material known to us today as the Old Testament, we read of women who were prophets, military leaders, priests, wise women and wisdom personified. However, to study the lives of these women is no easy task. The reality is, the stories, as we have them are not handed down to us from the voices of the women themselves, rather what we have is an image rich narrative developed from a covenantal history, drawn upon the map of patriarchy. The narratives then, are primarily concerned with the public lives of men who are or are in some way related to the patriarchs and are connected to the emergence of the monarchy. It must also be stated that the narratives are also recorded, copied, edited and compiled by men who live many centuries after those women and men whose stories they are trying to convey.
We must understand at the outset that the material we have existed first as oral tradition and communities were formed around story, many of these stories endured across the generations to be recorded during the compilation of the codices which are now considered canonical by persons of Jewish and Christian faith. To do these women any justice we must unearth information about their world, status, society and gender roles in ancient Israel. We are helped then to also consider archaeology and anthropological studies in concert with the Scriptures to gain a better picture of life in ancient Israel for women.
In the Hebrew Bible, we find the stories of a people and a society who traverse the land of the Ancient Near East for more than 1,200 years (Murphy, Cullen: 1993). Of the 1,426 persons named within the narrative of the Old Testament, 111 of these named persons are women. While this seems like a small number, the witness of the lives of these women is powerful and their presence in this male dominated text reveals a prominence held by certain women. Though a casual reading of the Old Testament might leave us with the impression that women were confined to the domain of the home and their sole contribution was procreation, a closer look demonstrates another dynamic altogether. Mayer Gruber points out that women served as judges (Judges 4.4-5), officiated funerals as clergy (Jer. 9.16-19; 2 Chron. 35.25), slaughtered animals in priestly and domestic rites, served as prophetesses and sages (2 Samuel 14; 20.16-22), both nursed children and read Scripture in public settings (Gruber, Mayer: 1999). Gruber has also rightly demonstrated that within the Hebrew Scriptures we have accounts of women as priestesses (Exodus 38.8; 1 Sam. 2.22), poets (Exodus 15.21; Judges 5.1-31; Proverbs 31.1-9), musicians (Ps. 68.26), “queens, midwives; wet-nurses; babysitters; business persons; scribes; cooks; bakers; producers of cosmetics (I Sam. 8.13 ) as well as innkeepers and prostitutes (Josh.2).”
While the scope of this study will not allow us to consider the 111 named women of the Hebrew Bible, we will take a representative group and trace their lives, their communal impact and their covenantal significance. We do this in effort to illuminate the reality that though the narrative of Hebrew Bible is primarily concerned with the lives of the patriarchs, there exists also a counter narrative that demonstrates the activity of God present and powerful in the lives of many women which reverberates through the nation of Israel for the good of the world. The group we will consider here is the women of the genealogy of Jesus offered in Matthew’s Gospel as each of these women emerge from the story of ancient Israel and the tradition of their contributions endure into the New Testament Canon and beyond. The narratives of these women, Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba offer us traditions of women who were significant in the life of ancient Israel if also representatives of life in a given place and time who simultaneously rise from the narrative to demonstrate women as agents of God’s covenantal and universal work.
Want to Read More...get your copy today
Photo courtesy of former student Rev. Teri Ditslear
So here it is!! The much anticipated book list for my Finding Your Voice: A Course on Preaching Offered this summer online at Anderson University, beginning May 30, 2013.
This course is open to Anderson University School of Theology students and non students. For more information on how to enroll click here.The course is dedicated to helping preaching persons develop skills in reading life and communicating grace; strengthening the spiritual muscles needed to sift through what seems mundane and profane in search of the sacred.
This is an experience in shimmering words and haunting images where we acquaint ourselves with the groaning’s of this world and the need for visions of hope and light in our darkness. Barbara Brown Taylor, The Preaching Life (Lanham, Maryland: Cowley), 1993.
George Martin, Game of Thrones: A Song of Fire and Ice, Book 1 (New York: Bantam), 2010.
Lauren Winner, Still: Notes on a Mid Faith Crisis (New York: Harper), 2012
Will Willimon, Preaching Master Class: Lesson’s From Will Willimon’s Five Minute Preaching Class (Eugene, OR: Cascade), 2010
Texts will be augmented by numerous podcasts and primary sources from early mystics such as Hildegaard, Julian of Norwich, Teresa of Avila and John of Chrysostom.
Students will experiment with different preaching styles in order to find the one that fits and work to understand the office of preacher as midwife, enduring with others to help them birth forth new life in hearts, homes, and communities.
I grew up avoiding the holiday altogether, spending the day with my mom and sister and friends at our local theme park. We would laugh, eat five dollar snow cones and stand in line for hours to get soaked in the rapids of the Grizzly River Rampage.
My mom’s mother died suddenly at the age of 47, and for as long as I can remember the pain was too great to bear; the church service where the pink carnations were passed around in honor of Mother’s Day, the poems and the tributes left my mother’s already broken heart vanquished.
Instead of donning corsages, we engaged in pure bliss; built new traditions out of the ashes, felt the sun warm on our skin and thanked God for the gift of each other. It has now been two years now since my sweet, strong, sassy mother passed on Mother’s Day and I am reflecting on how hard it is to face this day for so many of us whose mothers are no longer in this world, for those who long to have children but cannot, who have never known a mother’s love.
I am no expert in grief, hold no degrees in loss and love but have lived it enough to want to share what I know. For my part, holding her hand while she drew her final breaths, being fully present with my Mother in her final moments as she had been with me in my first kicks and cries felt like a passage, entre into the wide circle of life, a birthing into full womanhood and the great privilege of my forty years. So as I look to this day, it only seems right to celebrate the gift of her, the goodness of her wisdom and to honor her legacy of love.
Here are some helps I’ve learned along the path that might help you through:
1. Sew love: If there are others around you for whom this day is difficult for a myriad of reasons, invite them to join you for brunch. Eat, laugh and lift glasses, thank God for the goodness of family born in Christ Jesus and the bonds of brokenness that unite.
2. Celebrate feminine voice: Go hear a good woman preacher. Immerse yourself in images and the prophetic, poetry and prose of women who inspire, challenge and encourage you. Relish the gift of being born a woman, graced with the office of bringing forth, nurturing, embracing and releasing life.
3. Give thanks: Send notes, facebook posts, surprise text messages to all those girlfriends who run themselves ragged between board meetings and ball parks, who rock high heels and burp cloths; squeeze their babies, affirm their world changing call and work.
4. Plant goodness: Find the perfect rose or peony and set it in the dirt, press it down and drench it with water in memory or honor or in hope of what might come. Send bouquets to women who have stood in the gap, who have mothered you, loved and seen you through.