Hoodoos and buffalo beans

The last time we hiked the Meeting Creek Coulee near the village of Donalda was late in the fall. The trees were bare and the landscape was shades of gold and brown. Today’s hike through the same area was entirely different! 

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Everything was so green and there were wildflowers everywhere, especially the bright yellow buffalo beans that bloom across the southern half of Alberta and Saskatchewan at this time of year. 

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I’ve always wondered why they were called buffalo beans, so when we got home today I consulted Google and learned that the flowers appear around the same time as the Indigenous people of the prairie used to conduct their spring buffalo hunt. Apparently the plant produces bean-like seed pods later in the season, but they shouldn’t be eaten as the entire plant contains poisonous alkaloids.

We started today’s hike on the woodland trail that follows the rim of the massive coulee, the northernmost part of the Canadian Badlands, but we soon dropped down into the valley. As we wandered up, down, and around the bluffs that form its walls I spotted an impressive looking hoodoo emerging from the bushes on the hillside above us. Of course, we had to climb up and take a closer look.

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 We decided to sit and eat our lunch on the hillside where Richard is standing in this photo.

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As I looked at our backpack perched on the hoodoo’s capstone, I thought of all the places it’s been with us over the years. It’s even been to the top of Mt Fuji, the highest and most famous mountain in Japan! 

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The view from our lunch spot included a perfect mound protruding from the flat valley floor. I decided that when we finished eating, we should hike down and walk around it which we did. We considered climbing it, but it would have been a challenge and since we still had to climb back up out of the valley, we quickly rejected that idea. 

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Eventually, after wandering for awhile longer, we made our way back up the hillside and rejoined the woodland trail that took us back to our vehicle. After a long cold winter, it’s so good to be able to get out on the trails again! I wonder where else our feet will take us this summer. 

Another diagnosis, another pill

No, it’s not another cancer this time!

Seven years ago, I was diagnosed as pre diabetic. I managed to control it with diet alone until recently when I gradually slipped into the diabetic range. Though I’d originally hoped that this would never happen, it comes as no real surprise. In some ways, I’m not a usual candidate for diabetes. I’ve never been overweight, I’m not a smoker, and I ate a healthy diet and exercised regularly long before the pre diabetes diagnosis. In addition to a family history of diabetes, however, the injection of Sandostatin that I receive every 28 days for my neuroendocrine cancer (NETS) can suppress the release of insulin and cause elevated blood glucose levels. With those two strikes against me, I’ve now reached the stage where I need medication and my doctor has prescribed Metformin, the most common treatment for type 2 diabetes. I’m also going to be meeting with a dietician to find out if there are ways that I can further tweak my diet.

If there’s one good thing about having NETS, it’s the fact that the regular surveillance that it requires brings other health issues to light before they become as serious as they might otherwise. Typical symptoms of type 2 diabetes include increased thirst, frequent urination, increased hunger, unintended weight loss, fatigue, blurred vision, slow-healing sores, and frequent infections. I have experienced none of these. If it wasn’t for the regular blood tests that I undergo because of my cancer, I likely wouldn’t have known that I was pre diabetic seven years ago and without the dietary changes that I made back then, I probably would have reached the diabetes threshold much sooner. Looking for silver linings helps me maintain a positive attitude!

I don’t share these health updates to garner sympathy. In spite of cancer, diabetes, and several other health concerns, I continue to enjoy excellent quality of life. Hopefully, with the help of medication, excellent health care practitioners, and healthy lifestyle choices, that will continue for a long time yet!

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Trying a new hobby

Inspired by a fellow blogger who sometimes shares sketches with her readers, and perhaps by the young artists in my family, I recently decided that I wanted a sketchbook. I’ve always enjoyed art, but never really pursued it as a hobby. Perhaps now was the right time?

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In addition to the sketchbook, I also bought a basic set of sketching pencils, charcoal pencils, charcoal sticks, soft pastels, erasers, a sharpener, a couple of stumps, and a tortillon. At the time, I didn’t even know what the last two items were!

When I brought my purchases home, did I crack them open and start drawing right away? No, not me! I was always that little girl who, at the beginning of each September, loved getting new school supplies; the little girl who hated to make the first mark in that brand new, spotless notebook. So, before I started sketching, I simply savoured the idea for a few days. Then I got started.

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I knew exactly what I wanted to draw, one of my favourite sights from our recent trip… Fisgard Lighthouse at Victoria, BC.

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I worked on it a little at a time. First, just an outline, then gradually adding details. With my mind focused on nothing but what I was doing, I found it very relaxing.

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After awhile, I figured out that I could use one of the stumps to smudge, blend, smooth, and maybe even add depth.

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I’m pretty happy with the finished result!

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For my first drawing, I only used one of the sketching pencils, an eraser (quite a lot!), and one of the stumps. Now I’m eager to turn the page and experiment with some of the other supplies.

I think I’ve found a new hobby!

Which house was it?

On our way to the coast we stopped in Jasper for a few hours to visit my 98-year-old aunt who lives there. When I told her that we were coming to Victoria, she reminded me that she and my mother lived here for a year when they were young children. It was the beginning of the Great Depression and, like so many other men at that time, my grandfather was out of work. His brother had found employment at the paper mill in Powell River, so he went there to apply for a job and then proceeded to build a small house for his young family. In the meantime, my grandmother and her two little girls shared a single room in a boarding house here in Victoria not far from where his parents lived. Curious, I asked Auntie Norma if she remembered what part of the city they lived in. I could hardly believe it when she told me that they lived on Government Street within a block or two of the BC Legislative Building. That’s less than a kilometre from our hotel! 

I decided that when we got to Victoria, we’d go for a walk down Government Street. I didn’t expect to find a trace of what was there 90+ years ago when two little girls walked down the street and across the parking lot behind the Legislative Building on their way to school. I thought I’d find modern apartment or office buildings or perhaps stores and hotels. Instead, I found a street lined with heritage houses! Was one of them the boarding house where Nana, Mom, and Auntie Norma lived? 

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I was enthralled as I walked up and down the street taking photos of house after house and wondering if Auntie Norma will recognize one of them when I show her the pictures. Of course, they’ve probably undergone many changes since she was here, but I’m hoping that something looks familiar.  

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I love the contrast of old and new in this photo…

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Even if Auntie Norma doesn’t recognize any of the houses, this little confectionary should bring back memories. It’s been standing on the corner of Government and Michigan Streets since 1915! 

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This building, now the Rosewood Inn, is located kitty-corner from the little store. Could it have been a boarding house at one time? 

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What must it have been like for my grandmother and her little girls to spend a year sharing a single room in a house full of boarders? Auntie Norma did say that it wasn’t as bad as it sounds. Apparently, the woman who ran the boarding house befriended my grandmother and became like an another grandma to the two little girls while they lived under her roof, but I’m sure that they were all very glad when the little house in Powell River was ready and the family could be together again!  

Sunshine, flowers, and a successful surgery

As we approached the Rocky Mountains of western Alberta last week, the sun was shining and the views spectacular. These shots were taken at Talbot Lake, just east of Jasper.

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Though conditions were wintery when we crested the Coquihalla Summit the following day, driving conditions were excellent most of the way to the coast and we were thankful not to have to dig into the “just in case” bag that I mentioned in my last post. Immediately after arriving in Vancouver, however, we started to hear of winter storm warnings that were expected to drop an estimated 20 to 40 cm of snow in that area over the weekend! Motorists were advised to consider postponing non-essential travel until conditions improved. We were very thankful to have made it through safely before that hit!

The primary purpose of this trip was to be with my brother who had surgery yesterday. I’m happy to report that it went well and he’s on the mend. Donald was a real trouper, patiently enduring everything that went on. I was very impressed that the surgeon arranged for myself and one of his primary caregivers to be with him in the recovery room immediately after surgery and we were able to stay with him until late into the evening. As Donald is non-verbal, I think it was reassuring to him and helpful to the hospital staff to have us there. I know it was definitely where I needed to be! Donald was released from hospital this afternoon and we were at his house to greet him when he arrived. It was a relief to see him looking and feeling so well.

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Our first few days in Vancouver were rainy, but today the sun shone and reminded me why April is one of my favourite months at the coast. Cherry blossoms and spring flowers abound.

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These first two photos remind me of our time in Japan!

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Soft pink rhododendron bushes were in bloom around the Vancouver City Hall when I walked by on my way from the Skytrain station to the hospital yesterday.

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Now that Donald is clearly on the mend, we’ll spend a couple more days visiting with him as well as with our son, daughter-in-law, and two grandsons. Then on Friday morning, we’ll catch a ferry and cross the Strait of Georgia to Victoria for a few days of actual holiday before we head back to Alberta.

International Women’s Day – Break The Bias

Tomorrow is International Women’s Day. It saddens me that we should even need to set aside a day to focus on women’s rights, to remind the world that women deserve equality. The reality, however, is that we need to do much more than simply dedicating one day a year to drawing attention to the plight of women worldwide. This needs to be addressed 365 days of the year!

The theme of International Women’s Day 2022 is #BreakTheBias. We are urged to:

Imagine a gender equal world.

A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination.

A world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive.

A world where difference is valued and celebrated.

In reality, we need to do more than just imagine that world. We need to be aware that gender bias, discrimination and stereotyping exist and actively call them out each and every time we see them. Whether deliberate or unconscious, gender bias makes it difficult for women to move ahead. Even in the developed countries of the world, disparity continues to exist in the workplace, in education, and in health care.

Globally, most women are employed in lower-wage occupations and lower paid industries than men. They are underrepresented in corporations in general and the percentage of women decreases with each step up the corporate ladder. In 2016, only 3 of the 100 highest paid CEOs in Canada were women.

A 2015 UN Human Rights report raised concerns about “the persisting inequalities between women and men” in Canada including the “high level of pay gap.” Five years later, in 2020, Statistics Canada reported that on an average, full-time working women earned 76.8 cents for every dollar made by men. The gap is even wider for women who are Indigenous, members of other visible minorities, newcomers, or living with a disability. The situation is similar in other first world nations. In the UK, for example, women earn an average of 18% less than men.

Gender bias in education is much more subtle in the western world than in countries like Pakistan where over 50% of girls receive no formal education and South Sudan where that number is closer to 75%. Here in Canada, in spite of the fact that 56% of post secondary students are female, women continue to be underrepresented in STEM majors (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). In spite of the fact that, on average, they don’t outperform girls in high school math or physics, there continues to be a perception that boys are naturally more adept in these areas. This is the kind of stereotype that we need to call out!

Bias also affects the quality of health care that women receive. Too often, doctors view men with chronic pain as “brave” or “stoic” while women are seen as “emotional” or even “hysterical”. Her pain is much more likely to be treated as the symptom of a mental health condition, rather than a physical one.

Important biological differences between the sexes can influence how diseases, drugs, and other therapies affect people, but medical research has often been limited to male participants. They are considered better test subjects because they don’t have menstrual cycles and can’t become pregnant! This lack of inclusivity has led to gaps in knowledge that are detrimental to women’s health.

Lastly, traditional attitudes by which women are regarded as subordinate to men continue to perpetuate widespread abuse. Gender-based violence happens in all communities, cultures, and faith groups, and at every age and every income level, but some women are at higher risk than others. More than 40% of all Canadian women have experienced some form of intimate partner violence, but this number rises to 60% for Indigenous women. Every 6 days a woman in Canada is killed by her intimate partner. The homicide rate for women who identify as Indigenous is more than 5 times higher than that of all other women. Immigrant women are more vulnerable to domestic abuse often due to economic dependence, language barrier, and a lack of knowledge about community resources. In addition, when incidents of abuse within visible minority groups are reported, they are often taken less seriously by the criminal law system and the perpetrators routinely receive less harsh punishments. Younger women and women with disabilities are at much higher risk of experiencing violence. According to a 2019 report from Statistics Canada, 30% of all women over the age of 15 report the they have been assaulted sexually compared to 8% of men. The actual number is, of course, much higher as many incidents are never reported. 69% of all those who experience incidents of cybercrime are women.

On International Women’s Day and always, we need men and women to advocate for equality for all. Together, we can break the bias!

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Around the world, people are crossing their arms in the International Women’s Day #BreakTheBias pose to show solidarity. Why not join the movement? Post your photo on social media using #IWD2022 and #BreakTheBias to encourage other people to commit to working toward a more inclusive world for all.

Images: internationalwomensday.com

A very long short month

Winter in Canada is long and cold with short hours of daylight. I always start to feel very confined by this time of year and the pandemic has definitely added to that. February might be the shortest month of the year, but this one has felt very long!

The recent rebellion in our capital city and at border crossings across the nation followed almost immediately by Russia’s attack on Ukraine have added to my gloom. The so-called Freedom Convoy in Ottawa and blockades at the border so disgusted me that I pretty much avoided the news for awhile. I blocked so many sources and unfollowed so many people on Facebook that my newsfeed became almost boring! Believe it or not, one person posted something yesterday suggesting that news about the invasion of Ukraine is just meant to distract us from the injustices happening in our own country and we need to be alert! What? Are you kidding me? With that kind of thinking swirling around me, is it any wonder that I feel like burying my head under a blanket and ignoring the whole wide world?

Unfortunately, at least in my opinion, in spite of the fact that Covid is far from over, our provincial government has decided to give in to the protesters and as of tomorrow almost all health restrictions will be lifted. Many are celebrating and I understand the feeling, but for some of us, that means less freedom, not more. I’m not immunocompromised and I’m triple vaxxed, but I’ve fought too hard for the past eight and a half years to stay alive and well to put my health at unnecessary risk, so I’ll still be wearing a mask and avoiding close contact, especially with the unvaccinated.

Not being able to travel has definitely added to my frustration. At our age, we definitely feel like our time clock is ticking and opportunities are passing us by. In their retirement, my parents visited 66 countries. Earlier this month, I spent some time reading through the journals that my father kept when they traveled; everything from short two or three day trips to nineteen months wandering Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, living most of that time in their Volkswagen camper van. Reading about their adventures was the next best thing to traveling myself and took my mind off current events, but it also reignited my wanderlust thus adding to my frustration.

A few days ago, realizing that my current state of mind was not a healthy one, I looked back at two of my earlier posts, one written in September 2020 about hitting the Covid-19 wall and the other, written seven months later, about languishing.

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I realized that my feelings of frustration and discouragement weren’t entirely new. I’d been there before. I got over the wall on those occasions and I would again. In the meantime, I decided to look back over the very long shortest month and think about the positives. What were some good things that happened this month?

  • I read eight books; three novels, three memoirs, and two non-fiction books. That’s double the number that I usually read in a month.
  • I may not be able to visit yet, but I started chatting online with our friend, Richard M, who lives in Mexico in Spanish! My daily online language lessons are beginning to pay off.
  • I edited 53 Kiva loans, significantly more than the 40 a month that I committed to when I took on the volunteer position.
  • After seeing a physiotherapist on February 1, I’ve revamped my morning exercise routine, started a new lifting program, and I’m back on the treadmill regularly.
  • Walking in town is treacherous due to icy conditions, but we discovered a mostly unused road not far from town where we can walk safely and enjoy a breath of fresh air when the weather isn’t too cold.
  • I’ve tried several new and delicious recipes using the InstantPot that I received for Christmas.

Mental stimulation, learning something new, doing something for someone else, physical exercise, fresh air, eating well… all of these are key to getting through the doldrums that may, at times, seem overwhelming. The fact that the days are becoming noticeably longer also reminds me that spring is coming and better days are ahead!

The next little while will be busy with another whirlwind of medical appointments. Hospitals and clinics aren’t my favourite places to hang out, but at least they’ll still be following Covid precautions! Sometimes you just have to look at the bright side!

Young artists in the family

My mother was a gifted artist. Unfortunately, a frightening incident in her early 30s caused her to put down her brushes and refuse to pick them up again. Though I wasn’t more than four at the time, I clearly remember the day it happened. I was playing with some of the neighbourhood children in the yard across the street from our house when my mother flew out the door with my toddler sister in her arms and ran across the street. Never in my life had I seen my mother run anywhere, so it was obvious that something was very wrong. Then, she barged into the neighbour’s house without even stopping to knock. Even at my young age, I knew that that was something you just didn’t do! What I and the other wide eyed children didn’t know was what had just happened. Mom had been painting at the kitchen table while I was outside playing and my sister napped. When the baby woke, Mom left her painting and went to lift her out of the crib, stopping to do something in the bedroom while the little one toddled out to the kitchen. The next thing Mom heard was choking and gagging. My sister had reached for the glass of turpentine that Mom used to clean her brushes and, thinking that it was juice, had drank it! Mom rushed her across the street because the neighbour was a nurse and would know what to do. Fortunately, our doctor’s wife happened to be visiting and, unlike many people in our small isolated town, she had a car! She rushed Mom and the baby to the hospital where a stomach was pumped and everything turned out fine. Everything, that is, except Mom’s love of painting. She blamed herself and didn’t paint again for many decades. Even then, though she dabbled at it a bit, the passion was gone.

I think Mom would have been thrilled to know that some of her great grandchildren have inherited her gift. This week, 12-year-old Sam was honoured as Young Artist of the Week by North Vancouver’s Artists for Kids and Gordon Smith Gallery.

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Sam painted the picture that he’s holding while we were visiting in October and it was a delight to watch it unfold layer by layer. If you’re familiar with Vancouver, and look closely, you’ll know that you’re looking toward the north shore and will see the Lions Gate Bridge on the left.

Sam’s teacher had this to say, “Sam finds peace and joy through drawing. He loves adding his own unique flair and extra details into his class art projects. He is inspired by his surroundings, as well as his imagination. He is constantly trying new techniques to achieve a desired effect in his art. He adds incredible details into his creations that are admired by his teacher and peers.”

Yes, Great Grandma would be very proud!

On our way home from Vancouver in October, we stopped in Calgary to visit more grandchildren. On a trip to Goodwill, our daughter and I found a hoodie for 7-year-old Simon. As soon as he saw it, his response was, “I want to paint that!”

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I watched in awe as his picture took shape. Simon had recently been diagnosed with ADHD, but he was completely focused! I held my breath as he added more and more details fearing that he was going to ruin the painting and become frustrated, but he knew exactly what he was doing! When he finished, he told me that it was for me and that he wanted me to hang it in my bathroom! I thought that was an odd request, but I followed his wishes and I’m so glad I did. I see it multiple times a day and it warms my heart every time! I only wish my Mom could see it too. She would be so proud!

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Sam and Simon aren’t the only young artists in the family. We have several grandchildren who seem to have inherited some of Great Grandma’s talent! Whether this becomes a passion that stays with them throughout their lives or whether they pursue other interests as they get older, art has so many benefits for children. It promotes creativity, encourages neural connections, and builds fine motor skills. It helps develop problem-solving abilities and helps kids understand themselves and their world. Most of all, I think Sam and Simon would tell you that art is fun!

Clemens-Art's role in education

I’m a Christian feminist

I’m a Christian feminist. Yes, there is such a thing and no, that f word isn’t an obscenity.

The label may not be a familiar one, but Christian feminism predates well known secular feminists and activists including Simone de Beauvoir, Betty Friedan, and Gloria Steinem. There is, in fact, a long history of Christian women devoting themselves to fighting for the status of women, and the right of women to vote, to own property, and to defend themselves in a court of law against rape and domestic abuse. Women like Nellie McClung who, based on her understanding of God’s intention for creation, together with Emily Murphy, Henrietta Muir Edwards, Irene Parlby and Louise McKinney, launched a legal challenge that would pave the way for women to be declared “persons” under law and to participate equally in all aspects of life in Canada. Thankfully, theirs is a rich tradition of pro-life feminism that continues today.

Within the Christian church, there are two schools of thought regarding the roles of men and women. Complementarians believe that men and women, though equal in worth, are meant to have distinctly different roles. Egalitarians, while agreeing that men and women are equal in worth, believe there should be no gender restrictions on what roles they can fulfill. Marriage and ministry are the primary points of disagreement between the two viewpoints.

When we first married, I was a baby Christian. I tried to be the submissive wife that my husband had been taught was his due simply because he was born with a Y chromosome and an extra appendage. It didn’t work. He wasn’t a good leader and, truth be told, I wasn’t a good follower. All the while, I wondered why God would want me to submit to a sinful man. Then I realized that He didn’t. We were meant to be partners, submitting to one another (Ephesians 5:21) with God as the head of our household.

But what about Ephesians 5:22-24 and Colossians 3:18, verses that exhort wives to submit to their husbands? We can’t simply ignore portions of scripture because they make us uncomfortable or dismiss the parts we don’t like. Sometimes we have to grapple with scripture. We have to understand the context and the time in which the words were written. We have to dig deep and seek to understand the principles being taught and then figure out how to apply them in our time and place.

“It’s dangerous to cherry-pick a few stand-alone verses, particularly when they are used as a weapon to silence and intimidate, effectively benching half the church… We can’t read letters written to specific people with specific situations in mind in a specific context and then apply them, broad-brush, to the whole of humanity or the church or even our own small selves.”  Sarah Bessey, Jesus Feminist

These select verses telling wives to submit to their husbands line up with the Greco-Roman household codes that were part of Pax Romana law at the time and in the place that the apostle Paul was writing his epistles. They were the law of the land at that time and, as in Romans 13:1-2, Paul is telling his readers that “everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities.”

Interestingly, just four verses after Colossians 3:18 instructs women to submit to their husbands, verse 22 tells slaves to obey their earthly masters. While wives must submit is a core teaching in most Christian churches today, no one takes that verse literally and suggests that slavery is actually a godly practice. I jokingly respond that if I have to submit to my husband, I also want my slave!

In addition to slavery, which is never actually prohibited in the Bible, the church has rightfully done away with many Biblical practices including polygamy, the buying and selling of daughters, stoning, the requirement that baby boys be circumcised, and many other ancient practices that were once culturally acceptable. Gender inequality is just one more example of an injustice that we need to let go of.

Nowhere in the Bible does it suggest that any of the gifts of the Spirt, which include teaching, pastoring, prophecy, evangelism and leadership (Romans 12, Ephesians 4, 1 Corinthians 12), are gender specific and yet many Christian churches today exclude women from these roles. Sadly, in spite of the fact that there are numerous examples of women leading, teaching, ministering, and prophesying in scripture, patriarchy is alive and well in many churches today. This is clearly contrary to Acts 2:18 which says “Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.” Paul himself says in Galatians 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

I served on the board of our previous church for seven years, but in our present church I would not be allowed to because I’m a woman. I’m okay with me not being on the board, but I’m not okay with half the church being denied full opportunity to use their God-given gifts simply by virtue of being female and I’m not okay with a church board not having the benefit of the female perspective. The very first chapter of the very first book of the Bible makes it abundantly clear that God created male and female in His image and gave THEM dominion over all that He had made.

According to Genesis, God did create Adam first, but He also said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” The original word translated in English Bibles as helper or helpmeet is ezer, a word used twenty-one times in the Old Testament: twice in Genesis for the woman, three times for nations that Israel appealed to for military aid, and sixteen times for God Himself as Israel’s helper! God created His daughters to be ezers, strong and resourceful partners for His sons. He also makes it clear that in relationship, they are to become one. That’s partnership, not patriarchy! When a woman is held back, hushed up, minimized or lessened in any way, she is not free to walk in the fullness that God intended for her as His image bearer, His ezer.

“When half the church holds back – whether by choice or because we have no choice – everybody loses and our mission suffers setbacks.” Carolyn Custis James, Half the Church

So what do I make of 1 Corinthians 14:35 which says “If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.”? Again, if we were to delve into the historical context for this verse, we would find that it was written in direct response to disruptions that were occurring in the Corinthian church at that time. The underlying principle is not that women 2000 years later should be forbidden from speaking in church, but that a church service ought to be orderly, not chaotic, a topic that Paul actually begins to address at the beginning of chapter 11.

And what about 1 Timothy 2:12 “I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man; she must be silent.”? Again, Paul’s restriction was given in the context of a personal letter to Timothy giving advice about a specific issue concerning false teaching that had arisen in the church at Ephesus. There is no suggestion that he was establishing church policy for all time. Neither is there any mention of this in the rest of Paul’s writings or elsewhere in the Bible. As has already been mentioned, there are clear examples elsewhere in scripture of women teaching, prophesying, and taking leadership roles.

So why do I, a Christian feminist, stay in a male-dominated church? First of all, there aren’t a lot of options in our small community. Fortunately, however, there are ways that I can use my spiritual gifts of teaching and faith within the confines of a patriarchal setting and I’ve always been comfortable worshipping with genuine believers who don’t see eye to eye with me on all matters. I also believe that God has placed me behind enemy lines, so to speak, for a reason. Though it likely won’t happen in my lifetime, I can pray for change and speak for justice for the women of the future. I may not be allowed to preach from the pulpit, which I don’t feel called to do anyway, but I can speak the truth, as I know it, when opportunity presents itself and I can certainly preach it from my keyboard!

For further reading on this topic, I highly recommend:

  1. Half the Church: Recapturing God’s Global Vision for Women, Carolyn Custis James
  2. Jesus Feminist: An Invitation to Revisit the Bible’s View of Women, Sarah Bessey
  3. The Making of Biblical Womanhood: How the Subjugation of Women Became Gospel Truth, Beth Allison Barr
  4. A Year of Biblical Womanhood, Rachel Held Evans

This is, of course, a controversial topic. I invite dialogue in the comment section, but I also insist that it remain a safe and respectful place for the expression of differing viewpoints and experiences.

One Word for 2022

For the past few years I’ve chosen one word to inspire or guide me in the new year as well as a scripture verse to go along with it. There’s actually a whole #OneWord365 movement on the internet urging members to choose a word to focus on every day, all year long; a word that sums up who they want to be or how they want to live.

Much has been said over the past 22 months about how the Covid-19 crisis has robbed us of our freedom. Thinking about that led me to my word for 2022.

Freedom

Interestingly, of the 165 people worldwide who have registered their One Word for 2022 online so far, I’m the only one who chose freedom! I’m a tribe of one!

The Bible verse that I chose to go with this year’s word is a good transition from last year when my word was TRUTH.

“You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

So what is freedom? Oxford Languages defines it this way:

  1. the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint
  2. absence of subjection to foreign domination or despotic government
  3. the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved

There are really two kinds of freedom, freedom to and freedom from. There is no doubt that the Covid-19 pandemic has, at least temporarily, curtailed our freedom to travel, to gather in large groups, to celebrate special moments with those we love, to enjoy many of the activities that we once took for granted, and so on. Though it’s difficult to be optimistic with the Omicron variant running rampant, I do hold out hope that some of these freedoms might be returned to us before this new year comes to an end.

As I settled on freedom as my One Word for this year, however, it was actually freedom from that was at the forefront of my mind. While I’m enormously thankful that we, in the western world, are for the most part free from the kinds of oppression that are common elsewhere, I was thinking on a more personal level. For many years, I suffered from what has been identified as betrayal trauma. As a result, I clung to a root of bitterness that gave me a sense of stability. I was afraid that if I let go and let myself trust again, I would be completely blown away and destroyed. Several months ago, as God began to gently loosen my grip on that root of bitterness, I pictured it this way…

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For some of us, art can be a creative and healthy way to deal with trauma. My daughter, whose own journey toward freedom included an art therapy course, illustrated the words of American author and activist, Glennon Doyle, in this beautiful expression.

Melaina's art journaling - freedom 2

Regardless of how confined we are by the present health restrictions or those yet to come, I want to live 2022 in the fullness of the freedom from that I have finally found! I would be remiss, however, if I didn’t also point out that true freedom is found by surrendering our lives to the almighty Creator of the universe. Galatians 5:1 tells us, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” and 2 Corinthians 3:17 says, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

Have you ever chosen a word to inspire or guide you in a new year? What would your one word for 2022 be?