Wednesday, January 28, 2009

It's Tough Being a Woman When Beauty is a Treatment

Sandra -- Poor Xerses! He awoke one morning (albeit with a hangover!) as the most powerful man on earth. He ruled the vast Persian empire -- 127 provinces from India to Ethiopia. Before nighttime, he was a sniveling mess who had been humiliated in front of all his buddies by none other than his wife; of all the embarrassments -- a woman! Then to make matters worse, he took the advice concerning what to do about her from his "wise" advisers who, if you remember, were also quite inebriated themselves. After all, they had been partying for six months and six days. The situation with his wife took place on the seventh day of the seven day banquet. What a way to end a party! Talk about drama!

Wow! There are so many lessons we could teach on the occurrences of just that one day. 1) Don't get drunk! 2) Don't make snap decisions when you're angry and drunk. 3) Don't take the advice of people who are drunk and/or who have their own personal agenda. 4) You are never too important/powerful/ etc. to make stupid mistakes. Our list could go on and on.

But the one I want to camp on for just a couple of minutes is that God is always at work in our lives even when we can't see or feel Him; He is never idle. He uses all kinds of situations to "grow us up" spiritually and to work His plan in our lives. While all of the uproar over Vashti's "disobedience" is taking place at the palace, Hadassa (Esther) is living her everyday life, doing what she normally does as a matter of routine with no clue that what is going on at the palace will change her life forever. God is busy weaving all those situations together so that eventually He can bring His plan to fruition, and Esther will become the queen who saves her people -- God's people.

Remember -- by this time Esther's people have been herded like cattle, treated like slaves, and taken into bondage. She had been orphaned earlier so she was exposed to all this mistreatment as a young child. Yet, God was working in her life to get her to the point/place/time that she, a Jew, would become Queen of Persia.

So -- have you ever found yourself in a really miserable, scary spot, wondering what's going to happen to you, how this situation will play out, and if God is doing anything to help? Maybe you're in that kind of situation right now. Please know that, while we can see only what's going on around us, God see the BIG picture. He knows where He wants you for the next part of His plan for you, and He is consistently working to move you there. Remember 29:11! And for some real comfort, read verses 12 and 13 also!

Don't forget to bring your wash cloth to class.

Kristy -- There aren't many girls who haven't played princess or dressed up like a princess, but have you ever been treated like one? I have a similar experience to Esther.

When I was a newlywed my wonderful husband bought a 1/2 day of spa treatments for me for my Christmas present and not to just any spa -- The Four Seasons in Irving. I had made an appointment to have a facial, massage and manicure. I saw they had a wet and hot sauna and a whirlpool, so I packed my backpack left over from college with my swimsuit, towel, flipflops, makeup and other little necessities because I had never gone to the SPA before. When I pulled into the parking lot of the Four Seasons in my late model Camaro, I realized I was in a different league. I parked my little sports car between two Mercedes. I saw BMWs, Cadillacs, limos, and a lot of higher end cars that I couldn't identify. Come to find out the Ben Hogan tour was at the Four Seasons to play a tournament. I was going to be hobknobbing with all these gorgeous, wealthy wives of golfers, pro athletes and socialites. When I realized this, the Keithville-raised girl in me started grinning -- the country girl had come to town. For some reason the theme from Hee Haw played in my head.

Marble tile, waterfall, tranquil music, soothing lighting and the most pleasant of personnel greeted me as I opened the door still grinning. I gave my name and was shown to my locker, given a plush, white bath robe and thick, white bobby socks. I was given the instructions to take my clothes off, put them in the locker and take the key. My grin dropped when she said take my clothes off in order to put on the bathrobe. Ain't no way on God's green earth I was going anywhere without my undies! So, I wore them under my robe, and as I sat in the waiting area there were some beautiful women sipping champagne or something pretty in a fluted glass, and I sat...grinning and looking like I didn't belong. I began to look around for the saunas and whirlpool. I caught sight of the whirlpool because an elderly lady who had obeyed the hostess dropped her robe and entered the water. I know in my naivety my mouth hit the floor, and I probably started chuckling (hopefully where no one could hear). Once I regained my composure and grin, I quickly checked the whirlpool and the saunas off my list of things to do.

I was called back for my massage where I was once again instructed to remove all clothing. I wasn't sure what it was with all these women wanting me naked! I explained I had never done this before, and I couldn't oblige. She explained what she would be doing, and I understood, but still decided to leave on one article of clothing. I was so nervous I was chatty and giddy and grinning, but by the time she was done with me, I had fallen asleep, and I was about to drool. Then it was time for the facial. I got dressed and moved to the next dimly lit room listening to nature sounds and music and was introduced to my anaesthetist. Do you know they really use cucumbers on your eyes? It's not just in the movies! After being scrubbed -- I mean exfoliated -- I was fumigated, I mean steamed. I was cleansed and had a mask. While the mask set, she put these things on my socked feet that warmed them up, and then she left the room. This time I did drool, literally. When she returned, she concluded the treatment and I was told to get dressed and go to the nail area. I was mush. I oozed to the locker area, and I shlumped into my clothes trying to be as modest as possible as there was no private place to change. Then I realized I hadn't tipped either of those ladies. I knew I was suppose to, but do I go back through the hallway and open doors to find them? What do I do? The nail lady told me I could give it to the hostess, and she would make sure the others received their tip.

Ladies, I went through a gamut of emotions -- excitement, anxiety, shock, relaxation, embarrassment. And then I had to drive home through Dallas rush hour. I was around 26 when I first experienced spa life and got hooked. Esther was probably around 10 years my junior when she was plucked from the home she knew since becoming an orphan and taken into a palace to receive all manners of beauty treatments. She must have been scared, anxious, shocked, maybe a little if not a lot excited. Who knows, she may have done a lot of grinning too because her eyes had never laid eyes on such opulence.

You know what I like about Esther? It didn't matter her age or level of power, she was obedient, submissive and observant. There is such profound wisdom to be found in a young lady, or any lady for that matter, who obtains those three. She was mature beyond her age. I wish more teens and young people would take note from her and follow her in her footsteps. I wish I was more like that as well. Where does your wisdom come from? Where does your confidence lie? Where do you get your value from? I pray that it's from the Lord.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

It's Tough Being A Woman in Another Woman's Shadow

Kristy -- WOW! What a great group we had on Monday night! Just from the taste you had on Monday night through your daily Bible study this week, don't you think this study is going to be worth its weight in gold? I'm already excited and anticipating next Monday night. Have you ever bought someone the most perfect gift, and it's a gift they haven't even asked for, and you're going to give it to them? My husband has been known to buy a gift, knowing how perfect it would be, but then he can't wait to give it, so he gives it and goes to buy another one for the occasion. I am not complaining, mind you, but that is how I feel about this study. I don't want to reveal too much in these blogs because I want you to be surprised Monday night, so I'll try my best not to give too much away.

Now on to the meat of the matter, something I've been thinking about this week is the question, "Have I ever felt like I was in the shadow of another woman?" The answer is "yes," and to be transparent, I still find myself in her shadow but sometimes it's because I put myself there. Do you realize that you are different? That would be an understatement for me. Some say I look and act like my mom, and others say I look and act like my daddy. Truth is, I'm a bit of each plus a warped mixture of the two and somewhere in there is me. I thought the only place I walked in her shadow was at church, but I realized I put myself in her shadow at home. God did not make us to be copies of another person, but the Bible says we were made in His image. We are to model Him. So, I struggle with wanting to be as good a mom to my ADD (attention deficit disorder) child as my mom was to me her ADHD (attention deficit hyperactive disorder) child, and many times I fear I don't add up. I fall painfully short, and yet I know God wants my best and He'll do the rest. We are often more critical on ourselves than anyone else would be.

At church some people may put me in my mom's shadow, and while I fought years to be strikingly different in order to be an individual, I've resigned myself to the fact that "Yes, I favor my mom. Yes, I have mannerisms like her, and those aren't bad things." But if you ever see me or hear of me doing something totally off the wall, know that it's a part of me just busting to get loose and dying to let it all hang out. I'm not as nearly composed as my mother is. Being ADHD I have to rein in my impulses. Just think of Terry Young mixed with Steve Angel on the picture?

I can't wait to go over the things on the focal table. Put your thinking caps on, ladies. Can't wait to see what you come up with.

I invite you to share with us your thoughts about being in another woman's shadow. If you need some help getting logged in, please call me at 464-3679.

Sandra--And Tuesday's morning group was great also! The thing I really loved about it was the variety in the women. We had women from college age to, well, let's just say "70-ish."

Since Kristy was just talking about blogging, I'll tell you that she will be visiting in Tuesday's day group to explain and demonstrate blogging. You all probably know all about blogging, but those of us who are just a little "technologically challenged" may need a little help. I still have to ask Kristy "how" when it's time for me to write for the blog. We really want you to know how to do this so that you can "comment" on the blog and/or the class. There will be people reading the blog who aren't attending the classes, and it will be so much more interesting if you will all get involved. So--how about it! Who is going to be the first brave soul to comment?

Psalm 139:13-14 points out that God created us in the womb. At the moment of conception, He already had a plan for your life and for my life. He knew then what talents, abilities, gifts that you would need to be able to fulfill His plan, so He gave you those TAGs (talents, abilities, gifts) at conception. Now that amazes me! I am a planner, an organizer, but His planning puts me in the shade! He gave me the TAGs at conception that I would need to teach a Bible study 60-something years later. Talk about planning ahead!

If God put that much thought into our creation, we should never allow ourselves to be put in someone else's shadow unfavorably. Who has there been in your life who perhaps intimidated you just a little? Hopefully, you've gotten out of that position, but, if not, why not work on doing that? God took time and effort to creat a unique you; use your energy to be the best "unique you" that you can be, not on being someone else! Remember Jeremiah 29:11 from last week!

Next week is going to be great; you don't want to miss it! And the week after that is going to be so much fun--you really don't want to miss that either!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

"What is the hardest thing about being a woman?"

Sandra -- I am not, never have been, a history buff. I didn't like the subject in school and learned it only to pass a test. For that reason, the people in history were never "real" to me; they were just names to memorize. I knew they were not fictitious people, but I just could never relate to them as "real." That not relating carried over to studying the Bible, so I often have to make a conscious effort to get to "know" Biblical characters. I have found that getting to know Esther has been very intriguing. She was an orphan, reared by a relative, became the queen, and was willing to die to save her people. After she became queen, her responsibilities multiplied exponentially. I've never been a queen, but I can certainly relate to the load of responsibilities! Sometimes, I think that we, as women, feel that we're the only one being stressed from the load that we carry. Everyone else just seems to have it so "all together." One of the things we want you to realize through this study is that you're not alone; we're all in this together!

Kristy -- When I first heard the title of this Bible study, my mind jumped to this image long ago stored in the recesses of my mind (that's a scary place). If you would please press the image to the right that shows "The 8 Hour Perfume." This will probably date me, but I remembered this commercial..."cause I'm a woman. Enjoli!" Of course, this blond beauty of the 70s is singing about all the things she does and can do everything from "bringing home the bacon" to "never let him forget he's a man." It was aiming at the woman who was trying to do everything and be everything and take care of everything and everyone all while looking beautiful. While I've watched it a couple of times and laughed just since I attached it to our blog, it sort of makes me sad that we haven't progressed any further than that today. Speaking for myself, I find it quite difficult to wear all the hats a woman is thought to have to wear -- wife, mother, maid, nurse, educator, taxi driver, personal shopper, lover, friend, daughter, employee, leader, and the list goes on and on and on, and there are days I don't feel like I wear any of those hats or roles well. If I give my best to work, then I feel like I'm gypping my family or vice versa. Ladies, am I alone in this? Ladies, you were given a sheet of paper when you enrolled asking you, "What is the hardest thing about being a woman?" I hope you will take the time to fill it out and return it. I find it comforting to know that there are other women out there with the same struggles as myself who are trying their best to balance life while staying in the center of God's will. I look forward to taking this journey with you through the book of Esther.