A Place for All Women

Archive for February, 2011

A Soft Place to Fall



          Five women squeezed into the little silver car exchanging names and niceties.  Everyone was eager to arrive at the destination, though slightly apprehensive, not knowing exactly what to expect.  It would be a couple of hours on the road with nothing more than a bag of vegetable chips and five bottles of water, so ultimately the conversation was bound to develop.  Once we moved beyond careers, kids, and spouses, we settled into much more serious stories.

            I remember well the woman sitting next to me talking about how her childhood had been tarnished by teenage brothers and their friends.  Boys with a desire to love, but no idea what to do about their lust, had taken advantage of her in the worst ways.  It was clear, her painful past had followed her into the future, as she made choices she later couldn’t change.  A teenage pregnancy led to an abortion, and despite being the mother of several children now, she had never been able to let that earlier decision go.  She was on this journey hoping to find peace with it, hoping to lay that burden down.

            The woman in the backseat on the far right had struggled all her adult life with infertility.  Finally, the adoption of two little boys promised to be the answer to her prayers.  But the boys had been abused before they came into her life and no one had ever been able to help them deal with those demons.  Their brokenness opened up some dark places in her husband’s past, and before she knew what was happening, she was divorced and her family destroyed.  She was coming along to escape the loneliness and find a soft place to fall.

            Then there was the woman in the back middle seat who seemed to have it all together.  She was thin, beautiful, and wealthy and wore the cutest clothes.  She had two teenagers and a very successful husband.  No one would have ever known, if she had not spoken up, that this man she married was controlling, abusive, narcissistic and her worst nightmare.  She had only confided in one other woman; but, just prior to this particular weekend, she decided she was tired of hiding.

            When we arrived at our destination, a wonderful weekend retreat, there were even more battle weary women with similar stories.  Women from all over the world, together in one place, to listen, learn, pray and participate in all God had planned for them.  No criticizing, no judging, no condemnation.  It was a place where no one had to hide, where many burdens were laid at Jesus’ feet, unconditional love was extended and everyone found a soft place to fall.

            It’s been a few years since I met those women, but I thought of them again this weekend at a similar retreat.  The words that remain in my mind this morning, the words some of these women use to describe their own lives are:


even Door Mat.

          We have all made mistakes or been the victim of someone else’s destructive decisions.  We can carry those burdens and compare ourselves to others, hoping somehow something worse will make us feel better about ourselves, or we can lay it all down and find a soft place to fall.      

Psalm 34:18 (NASB) 

“The Lord is near to the broken-hearted

And saves those who are crushed in Spirit.”

Maybe a women’s retreat is not your style.  Maybe you are not at all comfortable telling another woman what you have been through.  But God is always listening and he already knows anyway; so why not just let go and let him carry your burden? 

He will show you the way! 

Poor in the Eyes of the World

             Black coal burning in a cast iron stove sent a smell drifting out the door and up the road.  As the wind blew it in my direction, I tilted my head back, closed my eyes and took in a deep breath.  One solitary smell transported me back 40 years.  But here I was sitting on my own front porch swing where the memory of my grandmother and grandfather is always present. 

            We called them Mamaw and Papaw.

            They were some of the poorest people I have ever known, yet some of the richest.

            There was a feeling in their house that no one was more important than you.  Mamaw was always grinning, always kidding around and always cooking.  You could show up anytime day or night and find a saucer full of sausage and biscuits, wrapped up in re-used tin foil in the center of the kitchen table, ready for the taking.  Papaw was always busy mowing the lawn in the summer or bringing in coal for the stove in the winter.  When I was really young, they didn’t have running water or electric heat, so Papaw climbed out of bed, in what I thought were unbearable conditions, to build the day’s first fire.  He went outside with frost on the ground and drew ice-cold water up from the well in a shiny silver bucket.  On hot summer days, he would draw up a bucket and hand us the metal dipper to take the first cool drink.  If I was really careful, he would let me lean over the side and look down into the deep dark well.  I felt safe knowing he was right there holding me.

            Their life in the country was so different from ours in the city that I found myself completely captivated.  My parents had more of the things money could buy, but without much money, my grandparents had everything they needed.  Hard work took precedence over romance, yet I never knew two people more in love.  The foundation of our family’s faith came through their lineage yet they never harped or hammered on all things holy. Rather than require we follow a lot of rules, they just wanted us to love each other and share a mutual respect.

            They were just our Mamaw and Papaw. 

            She liked pretty dresses and shiny brooches.  He was happy in bib overalls and an old dirty cap.  They were kind, gentle and giving.  While others often talked of what they would do with large sums of money, my grandparents gave from what little they had gathered     

            At the end of every day, when we were filled with all the food you could possibly eat, we would go out to the front porch swing.  We would talk, laugh, and listen to my three uncles play their guitars.             

            And as the day turned into night, when the air became cool and crisp, black coal burning in their cast iron stove would send a smell drifting out the door and up the road. 


James 2:5 (NIV)

“Listen my dear brothers and sisters:

Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world

to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those

who love him?”


Are there simple pleasures in your life?

What do you want people to remember about you?

Just for Fun

             How old are you?  Seriously…not in calendar years….not from the day you were born…how old are you really…in your head?  When did your mind quit getting older and just stop and let your body run on ahead?  If you are stumped and have no idea what I’m talking about, I’ll give you a hint how you might figure this out.  I am about to be 50.  But sometime around the age of 23, just out of college, I refused to get any older.  I was young, free, finally out on my own and well, I liked where I was, and saw no reason to move beyond it. 

            I know I am not the only one.  I ask people all the time how old they are and how old they really feel.  My mom is 73 but feels 40.  At 55 my oldest sister still feels 24, my other sister is 52 but  thinks of herself as being 35.  My friends are Beth 48 but really 25, Kay 58 but 30 in her head and Kim at 45 feels 31 but won’t mind my saying she often acts ten.   My friend Suzie (she knows who she is) wishes to remain anonymous.  But at 45 feels 20 years younger.

            Marny, on the other hand, is an old soul.  When she was just 19, she felt 40.  A really challenging childhood puts it in perspective.  While I’m one of the oldest among my friends, I am the youngest in my head.  I’m sure they would all agree, I often act the most childish.

            My son’s guitar teacher is 54 but looks and feels 25.  And finally, a woman waiting on us at a local restaurant the other night, was dreading her 30th birthday arriving without a husband and kids.  But when I asked her how old she felt, she said 19.  So see, there’s still plenty of time.

            Last year, I got to go on a Caribbean cruise with my 23-year-old niece.  How perfect could it be?  I may have a few more laugh lines around my mouth, a few gray hairs under my highlights and cellulite that just can not be mine, but she and I are mental equals.  At times on the cruise, you might have thought she was actually older. 

            Maybe it’s healthy living, more exercise or better access to medical care…or maybe it’s a glimpse into our eternal future.  You’ve probably heard people ponder how we will recognize each other in heaven.  Will we be like the angels? 

            I just wonder how old we will be and if my new glorified body will be 23? 

“Our citizenship is in heaven.  And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”

Philippians 3: 20-21

How old are you?  Really? Seriously? You can tell me! 🙂


     “Will you die for him? WILL YOU DIE FOR HIM?”

            The words were meant to be remembered by anyone watching the 1988 movie The Seventh Sign.  Actress Demi Moore, playing a mother desperate to give birth, is faced with having to give her life for the life of her child.  In the agony of “life versus love” she reaches out her hand to touch the tip of the baby’s finger…and he lives. 

            Love is what keeps us sane and drives us crazy.  Love is at the root of all sacrifice: Giving up something you love, for something you love more.  Love was at the heart of all creation and is the very essence and existence of our God.

            I thought I knew love as a child, loving my parents, grandparents, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends.  Then as a teenager I thought love might kill me as I loved with an innocent heart and love was not returned.  When I fell in love with my husband, I discovered the definition of a true soul mate.  But when I gave birth to my son, a love took control of my heart like I could not fathom would ever exist.  It was and is a gentle, tearful, ferocious love that changed the very core of my being.  Would I die for him?  I hope I never have to.  But, would I die for him?  Yes I would!

            If you’ve experienced that kind of love you know what I mean.  If you have never felt love that intense, you are not alone.  There are women all over the world who know exactly how you feel. And they hurt just as you do.  But there is still someone who sees your heart and wants to give you the unconditional love you may have never had.  Would he die for you?  He already did.  Much like the movie, he reached out his hands in the final showdown of “life versus love”.  Now all you have to do is let him touch you…and you will live.   

“Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.”

1 Corinthians 13: 4-6 (NIV)

The same God who loves his girls, gives us chocolate. 

Happy Valentine’s Day! Make it the day you want it to be! 

The Less I Say

               A Tahoe packed to the top, with suitcases and ski gear, is where I first heard one of the most profound and best pieces of advice.   

We were on our way to the Canadian Rockies and had begged my father-in-law to come along with us.  His wife of 63 years had died two years earlier and we felt like it was time for him to live again.

            He seemed quite excited when the trip first started, riding shotgun in the big SUV, but after several hours on the road he was silent.  I’m sitting way in the very back, third seat on the right, and I’m thinking his silence is not a good sign.  I’m wondering if maybe he’s sad or even sorry that he let us talk him into this long trip.  So, never at a loss for words myself, I decide to ask. 

 He quickly responds: 

“The less I say, the less I have to give account for.” 

            Well…WOW…that shoved some more silence right across the great expanse of seats.  It was followed by nervous laughter as our minds raced back over all our conversations.   If you are religious or consider yourself spiritual, you might recognize some biblical implications.  But if not, let me just venture to speculate how this one little quote could be a life changing  piece of advice for all of us.

            Let’s see…the less I say…what, like when I’m angry?  Well, sometimes, when I’m upset I say things that are mean or hurtful, frequently using words that are somewhat short of factual, words like always or never.  And, in the end, if I choose to make amends, I must apologize. Thus, I have been held accountable.

            Okay, then, what about the less I say when I have a new rumor in my repertoire of words?  I really try not to, but maybe you know how hard it can be not to pass on word of friction in the family, a fight among friends, or perchance a real dramatic tale all discreetly disguised in a prayer request.  The less I say, the sooner the talk dies down.  Or, what if I’m wrong and I’m found guilty of spreading gossip?  There will, by all means, be an accounting.

            And then there is the less I say about my son who, at age thirteen, completely recoils when he hears his mother gearing up for a full-blown play-by-play of something funny he did or something he said.  He didn’t seem to mind his life being put on display for the amusement of friends, family or total strangers when he was a toddler…not even as a young boy.  But now, for some reason, at age thirteen, he seems to want ME to be seen and not heard.  Wait, isn’t this backwards?  I thought that’s what MY parents said about KIDS.  Now, for some reason what I say frequently leads to “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to embarrass you,” thus an accounting of the most painful parenting type.

            Let’s see… “The less I say, the less I have to give account for.”  It is a new day and a new age where words aren’t just out there in the spoken variety.  Now you can engage in a rapid email response, tap out a text, fib on Facebook, blab on your Blackberry or even become irate on your iPhone.  Sometimes you slide by and no one takes offense…but. more times than I care to count, at least in my own life, I’ve paid a price for the lack of wisdom in my words.

            Almost every day I think to myself “I wish I hadn’t said that.”  But every day since that eye-opening encounter, I move a little bit closer to saying less!     

“He who guards his mouth and his tongue, Guards his soul from troubles.”

Proverbs 21:23 (NAS)

  Do you ever wish you could take back what you just said 

or the words you just sent?

 Log back in on  Valentine’s Day for LOVE of course. 🙂


             It was at that somewhat less than sane age of 16 when my parents decided on the big “D.”  My precious mother had tried desperately to balance raising her girls with weird working hours and being a wonderful wife.  But plate spinning can consume you; you lose focus on the fire, and when it goes out…well…he had already moved on.

            So there I was sixteen and certain I would never be found in such a precarious situation.  I would be A New Woman and quickly subscribed to (the now defunct) magazine to prove it.  Friends, fun and a fast paced career were all I needed for my coming out party.

              “I AM WOMAN, HEAR ME ROAR!” 

            Anyone who didn’t believe me need only be around for mere moments to hear my opinions on everything from politics to religion, marriage and divorce, white or wheat and on I chartered the course.  It was a good life!!  After I scrimped my way through college, paying a lot of dues and climbing the ladder one step at a time…came the condo, the car, and the critical acclaim…yes, I was truly living in the moment.  And I still advise other young women to do the same.  At the time it was fun and  fulfilling. 

            But something happened along the way…something I guess I had to see from the outside looking in.  My stainless steel and bullet proof living led me to places where I saw the real results of living alone-away from the pack-unprotected-unsheltered-unloved-and unwanted.  My heart began to change…ever so slowly…and really without my knowledge (otherwise I would have gone kicking and screaming) God began to give me a new heart.

            Then suddenly I found myself barreling into one of my best work days and it seemed the force field was gone.  I was married and eight months pregnant.  I literally stood still, looked around me, realized how vulnerable this little life would be and I was certain then and there that the season was changing.

            I AM WOMAN, HEAR ME NOW! 

            Despite what happened to my mom, I did discover you can have it all.  At 16-years-old I set out to see as much as I could see, do as much as I could do.  And I did!  I have had it all, at this point in my life, but I haven’t had it all at the same time.

            I’m no longer free and single but I have a loving, adoring husband who wants to come home every night.   I no longer have the condo, but my favorite place in the entire world is the front porch swing of our little brick house.  I don’t have the sports car but the SUV can carry much of what my children accumulate.  I don’t have the fast paced career but I get to freelance for fun.  And now, I willingly give up any pursuit of fortune or fame for this priceless time with my family.  I am just as much of a woman, though possibly more powerful, if it really is true that “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.”      And, don’t get me wrong, I still have plenty of things I really want to do; so I believe God has more in store on the other side of this season.  Fame and fortune may still hunt me down and take me by force, but for right now…

            I AM WOMAN, HERE I AM! J   


** Where are you?  Are you satisfied with this season of your life?  Did you choose family first and maybe now it’s time to pursue the career you’ve always wanted?  Where would you like God to lead you? **


“In their hearts

humans plan their course

but the Lord establishes their steps”


Proverbs 16:9 (NIV)

Be Still


Be still.  Two simple words.  Two syllables.  Seven Letters.  So very hard to do.  Oh how I flail about.  Oh how I want what I want and I want it now!  For every time I have called my children “spoiled” the God of Heaven must have laughed.  I am spoiled.  I have all the modern conveniences of life, yet I want what I want and I want it now!  Be still.  Be patient.  Oh how I know those words.  Oh how hard I try just to be still.  But all around me are the sounds of a world on a dead run.  A persistent pace threatening to leave all those behind who don’t keep pace with the pack.  A world spinning so fast that the changing technology alone keeps us teetering on the edge of insanity as everyone must keep up.  The latest gizmos, the latest gadgets, the latest text talk…I’m just saying…we’re going faster, we’re going harder, we’re pushing those younger than us to get in the race and start running before they get run over.  Go Go Go Go Go.  Get the job, climb the ladder, praise the portfolio, save for retirement, run the marathon, get the goods.  Go Go Go Go.  Or just for a moment, make your own choice; just take this moment, and Be Still.

“By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. ”

Genesis 2:2 NIV

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;

I will be exalted among the nations,

I will be exalted in the earth.”

Psalm 46:10 NIV

Do you have trouble with quiet time?  Have you ever measured the success of your day against how much time you spend with God? Do you ever feel the need to be still?

Coming in the next couple of days:

 “I Am Woman” and “The Less I Say”

Gosh, I guess those could be oxymorons if read together 🙂   

© Copyright 2011, KeziahCarrie.  All Rights Reserved




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