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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Celebrating Women

Today is the 100th International Women's Day. According to the International Women's Day website, IWD "is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future" and it "honours (sic) the work of the Suffragettes, celebrates women's success, and reminds of inequities still to be redressed."

Where have I been? I feel like it's the first time I've heard about this. In Russia, where it's celebrated as a national holiday, men give flowers to their wives, daughters, mother, and grandmother. Guys...[some of] you whine about having to drop coin on Valentine's Day. Be glad you're not Russian! Can you imagine THAT bill? I'm surprised Hallmark and the flower industry haven't leapt on board with this one.

I'm very thankful for the women who have paved the way so that I can wear pants without scorn, so that I can vote, but most especially, I'm thankful for the women, past and present) who have demonstrated that is possible to be strong and graceful at the same time.

Some of the ladies that I look up to:

Elisabeth Elliot
"We are women, and my plea is, 'Let me be a woman, holy through and through, asking for nothing but what God wants to give me, receiving with both hands and with all my heart whatever that is.'"

Let Me Be A Woman, Passion and Purity, Discipline: The Glad Surrender, and Keep a Quiet Heart were all books of hers that I read during my teen years. Her husband was killed by members of the Auca Tribe in Ecuador leaving her a single mother. Yet she stayed. She lived among the people that killed her husband determined to share the Gospel with them...even if it meant her own life. And, of course, that moment and her response shaped the rest of her life and impacted countless others, including my own.

Joni Eareckson Tada
"When I was on my feet, big boisterous pleasures provided only fleeting satisfaction. In a wheelchair, satisfaction settles in as I sit under an oak tree on a windy day and delight in the rustle of the leaves or sit by a fire and enjoy the soothing strains of a symphony. These smaller, less noisy pleasures are rich because, unlike the fun on my feet, these things yield patience, endurance, and a spirit of gratitude, all of which fits me further for eternity. It is this yieldedness that gains you the most here on earth."

A Baltimore girl who became a quadriplegic after a diving accident, Joni wanted to kill herself. She had no future...or so she thought. A woman without the use of her arms and legs is known and respected worldwide as an advocate for people with disabilities. She let God use her in her weakness to become one of the strongest women I know.

Michelle McKinney Hammond
"The world has definite ideas about what power looks like, but God’s view of power is very different. For example, He says that ‘the meek shall inherit the earth’ (Psalm 37:11). Meekness is actually strength under control, strength that keeps its cool and doesn’t show out."

Michelle McKinney Hammond has challenged my view of singleness and busted some of my unwritten I can't buy myself jewelry or flowers because that's a gift from a man. Where in the world did I get that?? Thankfully, I'm not the only single woman who has thought that. She's strong, yet feminine; independent without being abrasive.

Of course, there's my mother. She owned her own business but put it aside when my brothers and I came along. And then she took on the job of teacher and homeschooled the three of us. She elected to spend every hour of every day being with us, teaching us, loving us, and leading the way. She's tried hard to raise me as a lady. Tried. She's taught me not to bug men to figure out what's wrong because they'll talk when they're ready to talk. She's taught me to pick and choose my battles (I think I'm still learning that one). Yeah. She's pretty awesome.

When I think of my grandmother, I think of love. I see the way she treats others, and treats everybody, family or not, with love. She never slows down, is always taking care of others, and she inspires me to do the same.

Those are just a few of the ladies that I admire and look up to. I appreciate their sacrifices. I appreciate that they have persevered through the tough stuff of life. I hope that I can have that kind of dedication and grace that they exemplify.

So now it's your turn. What women have had a hand in shaping your life?


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