My friends and I are all women of a certain age who agree to be over the dating scene. We have married and divorced, date, raised our families, loved, lost and are in the ‘I’m Every Woman era of ME’ rebuilding phase of our lives. One girls night-in we got together for movie night and continued the dating conversation over snacks with the silly shenanigans of a RomCom – He’s Just Not that Into You. Continue reading
What happened to her? I can hardly recognize her anymore. Her sweet, pure, child-like
beauty has changed into a done-up mannequin with an awful spray tan. These were my thoughts as I watched one of my favorite shows, notorious for choosing contestants based on talent and not looks. Revolutionary, right….except once you’ve been selected, in come the make-up artists, hairstylists and fashion police. Why? Because IMAGE MATTERS. It matters to the world, it matters to those around you and let’s be honest, it matters to you.
We care about what others think of us. I did! Growing up in New York City, image is everything. Even grandmas have designer handbags and toddlers have “Air Jordans”. To this day, when I visit my mother, I feel like I must look my sharpest to gain the approving nods of the people on the subway and in the bodegas. But, what happens when you do not have the approval of others. When you’ve been rejected because you’re not pretty enough, or skinny enough, or athletic enough. Perhaps you’ve been told you’re not smart enough for that job. Maybe a parent has told you, “Why can’t you be more like your brother.” Your self-image is destroyed and your confidence is shaken.
I had to learn to tune out those negative voices and thoughts and replace it with the truth of God’s Word. God loves me and thinks the world of me. The Bible says, I am the apple of his eye. If you’re struggling with your self-image, turn to these four verses to see what God says and thinks about you.
1. Am Created in His Image: So God created human beings, making them to be like himself. Genesis 1:27
2. I Am Not a Mistake: You created every part of me; you put me together in my mother’s womb. When my bones were being formed, carefully put together in my mother’s womb, when I was growing there in secret, you knew that I was there- you saw me before I was born. Psalm 139: 13, 15-16a
3. I Have A Purpose: God has made us what we are, and in our union with Christ Jesus he has created us for a life of good deeds, which he has already prepared for us to do. Ephesians 2:10
4. I Am Loved and Accepted: …I have loved you, so I continue you to show you my constant love. Jeremiah 31:3
Nena Podbury is a project associate at American Bible Society. Originally from the Bronx, she has co-authored children’s curriculum and served in children’s ministry for 12 years doing Sidewalk Sunday School. Nena is married with two children, Noah and Emilia.
Not a week that goes by that I don’t remind my son to be kind to his sister and play with her. When he looks at her, he sees an annoying two-year-old girl who steals his toys and ruins all his fun. For him, she is simply too hard to love. While few of us can relate to the irritation of dealing with a two-year-old sister, many of us can relate to the experience of living with a difficult family member. Continue reading
I’ve only been a mom for four years—but that doesn’t stop me from worrying about my children’s future. I constantly wonder what the next decade, or even the next year, will hold for them. What profession will they pursue? Will they be able to sustain themselves financially? Will they make good decisions? Will they find the right spouse? Continue reading
There was very little conversation being had in church about Domestic Violence. We talked about dating, marriage, tithing, stewardship and spiritual gifts. Pause –if you read the pervious 2 sentences at a normal pace, that was about 9 seconds. As I was saying…There was a ministry for everything from the church van to the community concerns (Candle Night out) but no one was talking about the black eye the Sunday School teacher often had. (9seconds). We were told ‘you are fearfully and wonderfully made’ but our young men and women weren’t reaffirmed in their self esteem in our Sunday School or Youth Group to know what that means. (9 seconds) We sang Jesus loves me, but when it came to it – did we know how that love had different meanings in each home? (9 seconds). Domestic violence comes in many forms (physical, emotional, sexual, financial, elder abuse) and over 10 years ago a 501c3 (9 seconds) organization-Preciouslyfe was formed to boldly have a faith based conversation about it. (9 seconds) Preciouslyfe (Now My Tattered Brim) continues to work, speak, encourage and pray for change, education and awareness of abuse. (9 seconds)
Be aware and have the conversations. The first National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, released on December 14, 2011, reveals the alarming magnitude of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and dating violence in America. In the time it took to read the first paragraph of this post- according the US Justice Department – about 7 people were victims of domestic violence. Do the math. 7 people a minute. 60 minutes. 420 victims an hour.
Among states, Pennsylvania tied for 15th place for women, and ranked 25th place for men, in the lifetime prevalence of rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner. This is why we need your help.
As the years go by I’ve learned the Holiday trio (Thanksgiving, Christmas & New Year) can be depressing. Stress, illness, addiction, financial woes and other challenges don’t go away because it’s the holiday season. Meanwhile the holidays heighten the expectation that we should be kind (if not oozing the Norman Rockwell painting-ish kinda love) to all around us. Continue reading
There was a time that I thought some things were absolutely unforgivable. There was an imaginary scale in my head that weighed the offense and eked out the level of forgiveness that it was worthy of. I justified my right to own the hatred that I felt for my abusive ex-boyfriend. He had taken enough so I was not willing to give him any more of me, including my forgiveness. My angry mind rationalized that forgiveness would send a message that his actions were OK, even when my reality mind knows that notion isn’t true.
What I have come to grips with is that forgiveness is not an endorsement nor is it a hug wrapped in rainbows, fluffy clouds and harp music. Forgiveness is not a warm fuzzy feeling that puts you in the mindset of running through a field of flowers, smiling with the sun beaming as if you were singing about the hills being alive in the Sound of Music. In spite of how it feels, forgiveness is a choice.
I have heard it said that forgiveness is setting someone free and freedom is not what I wanted for this person. The truth of the matter is that the real prisoner was me. I was holding myself captive. I stayed bound in my anger where I was insulated from being in any situation where I could be hurt in anyway. I’ve become hypersensitive, acutely aware and ready to protect my children and me from the slightest external infraction. When looking at life through the lens of this seething anger, you see threats everywhere. A person in a store line accidentally stepping on my daughters foot required quick action to protect her when it was just an accident.
For years I was full of hatred and rage for not only my abuser but also memories of my mothers. I vowed to break the cycle and never have my children, sisters or brothers, nieces or nephews be victims of abuse. Un-forgiveness held me prisoner. The person that I have wished a house to fall on kept on living his life, unaware and probably apathetic to the depth of my hurt, anger and bitterness. To truly be an example, I’ve learned that I need to follow the ultimate example. God himself asks us to forgive those who have wronged us. (Colossians 3:13) Nowhere did I read it was an easy thing to do. As I’ve committed to the hard work of forgiveness, releasing my abuser and the dark, ugly pit of anger has made room for the beautiful things like joy, peace, love and gratitude. While forgiveness isn’t always easy it is worth the effort as I reclaim my freedom Under my Tattered Brim.