Creative Expression – Invisible Women – To Be Seen Or Not To Be Seen, That’s The Question

Do you ever feel invisible? Seriously. Do you ever feel that you can be in the midst of a crowd, your family, your friends and suddenly you realize that not only do they not see you, but they don’t even know they don’t see you? Ever been there? My own life is taking a turn this year. In the midst of this growing transition and inner frustration I heard this condescending remark, “You should just get a hobby.” Not a good time to say that to me.

Several months ago, I kept telling my husband that I felt invisible. A recurring picture flashed before my eyes. Parts of my body were disappearing as I looked in the mirror. About 3 weeks ago, I saw a book on Amazon. Calling Invisible Women by Jeanne Ray. I was not even looking for a book like this. I did not even know a book was written with such clear and astute humor to address this phenomenon and to assure me that I was not alone.

Jeanne Ray wrote this at 60 years old. What can I say? It is great. It should be mandatory reading for families, churches, leaders, and friends of women over 50. It’s awesome. It’s fiction, filled with subtleties that make one burst out laughing and realities that make one cry. This book is a Godsend to me.

I relate to her in every way. It is real. It is very real. In my particular situation, a woman minister, over 50, and over 55 and almost 60, I sense that older women are the ‘new lepers’ in the church at large. Heck why not let me say that it is a reality for women of my age in general. End of sentence.

You know, I (or we) can do something about this.  Instead of shrinking back as a fading wallflower roaming the aisles of Walmart or  worse, becoming a dissatisfied, angry gritch charging forth with offense and sarcasm, we can make ourselves seen. Seen – not by force, or pride or a rotten attitude. It’s more than that. How? By being ourselves and seeing ourselves before we expect others to see us. They may never change. I can’t do anything about that. But, I can focus on me, the ‘me’ inside that is still alive in every way. The ‘me’ that walks in grace and humility, responding to condescension with a smile (most of the time). Or how about the ‘me’ that won’t get angry each time I am looked over and around but not at?

Here’s just a quick ‘aside’ for a moment. See the cover of People this month? Wow, look at Christy Brinkley at 60 after 4 marriages and 3 kids. They exalt her ability to look good ‘at her age’. There it is. That subtle comparison to what? A 40-year-old? A 30-year-old? A 20-year-old? How contrived and manipulative.

Maybe it’s just me? I have nothing against looking good but come on – there’s got to be a better way. So now my goal in life is to avoid being ‘me’ and somehow to strive to be just as good, fit, healthy, youthful, or ______ (fill in the blanks) as someone else defined by the media. Just as good – a comparison in and of itself. They don’t say it. They never say it but implication is evident by just looking at the cover. What if I want to be as good as ME? If you want affirmation, don’t look to the media. Please don’t.

Thank God for God. God, the ultimate emancipator, the consummate lover of women, proclaims, “Be free. Be released. Just BE!!!!”

And, He is saying, “Enough is enough.” I may not stop this invasive onslaught to annihilate my God-given identity as a woman of God over the great age of 50, no 55, no……okay, almost 60. But, I can ride the wave of speaking life and release to myself in Christ and to those wonderful gals coming after me.

Here is a great Facebook posts.

And another.

Just one more.

Let’s confront the heart attitude that must accompany this release. When I feel invisible, I feed into the norms of the culture at large that dictate my identity based upon my age or gender. It’s a double whammy. Age and gender – over 50 and a woman. So much condescension has been leveled at me over the years of being in Christian ministry. Yes, there were many men and women that supported me but there were more that tried to shut me down at times.

Invisibility permeates a woman’s life because culture at large, in many places around the globe, simply disdain women leading to everything from sex trafficking to prostitution to inner wounds of depression, anxiety and fear.

God has been teaching me a lot over these past few years regarding this subject. To actually be seen, I had to see what it was really like to be invisible. I had experience after experience in life, showing me that no matter what I did or said, people were not listening to me. I lost my voice. I lost confidence. I lost ‘me’. I did not even know why. In fact, at this conference that I just attended, a woman got up, came over to me, put her arms around me and said, “You have lost your voice. The enemy has tried to shut you down for many years. But, God is restoring your voice, sending you to the nations to speak and declare His words.” That one came from left field like a hurricane force wind through a woman of grace and glory. It was at this moment that scales dropped off my eyes.

So what do you think? Any comments?

I will leave you with a quote from the back cover of the book.

A mom in her early fifties, Clover knows she no longer turns heads the way she used to and she’s only really missed when dinner isn’t on time. Then Clover wakes up one morning to discover she’s invisible – truly invisible. She panics even more when her family doesn’t even notice a thing. Her best friend immediately observes the change, which relieves Clover immensely – she’s not losing her mind after all! – but she’s crushed by the realization that neither her husband nor her children ever truly look at her. She was invisible even before she knew it.

Clover discovers that there are others like her, women of a certain age who seem to have disappeared. As she used her invisibility to get to know her family and town better, Clover leads the way in helping invisible women become recognized and appreciated, no matter what they role. Calling Invisible Women by Jeanne Ray

In Christ

Debra Westbrook

Please pray and consider having Rivers of Eden minister in your gathering, home group, conference or church in 2014. This is our year of release wherever and whenever God opens His doors bringing His grace and His glory through us to those to whom we are called in this season. You can contact me on Facebook or Twitter.

Creative Expression – Guilty As Charged!

Justice is the sound of a judge, pounding the gavel down in a courtroom. The pronouncement comes across loud and clear. “Guilty!” she says. To the one seeking justice, those words are the ultimate sound of vindication for wrongs done or crimes committed.

I have a strong sense of justice that beats in my heart. I get terribly upset by anything that is not fair or right. I love the underdog, the one that goes through hell and keeps on going, despite everything to shut them down. “Justice!” is the cry of heart. I want things just. I love closure.  But, what happens when closure never comes? What happens when you have to walk forward with a perpetuating sense of justice that pervades your life without any clear answers? Have you been there? I have.

justiceRead the dream blog. That is when God nailed it for me. Looking at that house in the dream, wanting to run back in and shout at the top of my lungs “Who are you to think that you can treat me that way? I am somebody. And……..I matter.” Yet, I could not go in. As far as I could tell, there was no justice or vindication in that dream for wrongs done to me in life. I had to turn, face the other direction and move out from that position, without closure of any kind.

Over the past few days, I have come to see that justice for any wrongs done to me can become quite self-indulgent, as I keep looking to the past to get closure and see things made right. This is a biggie for me. These moments of self-discovery usually come with life-changing lessons from the Lord that impact my life. I don’t want to live with a sense of entitlement anymore. That thing that makes you feel someone, at sometime, somewhere owes you something. Considering that life is filled with injustice at every turn, would keep me constantly looking for that sense that all is just right. But, life does not work that way. Life is not fair. Life is not always just. Yet, I see the cross of Christ.

The cross, the beautiful awesome finished work of Christ. There is my vindication and my restoration for a life that is not quite as I expected it to be. There is that place where Jesus Christ died so that I can live my life in Him, in union with Him. In fact, it is such a perfect sacrifice, such a glorious vindication that I can live knowing the reality that all things work together for my good for I am in Christ.

Before you think I have entered a religious utopia built on self-denial and a continual Jesus smile, I would like to inform each of you that there are days when I would like to hold someone’s future in my hands for just one second. Or how about being responsible for the verdict for wrongs done to me? Give me that gavel. “Guilty!” I would cry. Or better yet, “Off with their heads.” I still have this strong sense of justice within me. So what to do with it? How do I work this out in my life so that I live outside a western mantra that drones with words like “You owe me. I am entitled to that. It is my right.” I am tired of selfishness, self-centeredness, and entitlement. So what now?

Benicia CrossThe cross. I live with eyes open to see outside myself. Ears that hear the cry of the oppressed. Ways to impact my word with life, love and truth. My deep sense of justice has been concentrated on me and my life when I sense that it is time to pour out my life as an offering unto the Lord in worship to walk in His will and His ways. Life will always be unfair, unjust, filled with violence, chaos abounding, bad things happening to good people – should I say more? Now what to do living in Christ – extend grace, mercy, forgiveness, hope and love. How to do this? Well, the dream says it best. I am walking into a new future feeling as though I have been awakened to live again, like Lazarus coming out of the tomb hearing the voice of Jesus.

You know, this is all a journey. If you have stumbled upon this blog by chance, you may want to read more of this journey of my life. This path is truly taking me places that are new and fresh in 2014. Why don’t you join me?

So what about you? Do you have a deep sense of justice or are you able to walk forward, forgetting what is behind you? Either way, we are all on this journey of life in Christ together. Not one of us has arrived……..yet.

Creative Expression – Questions, Questions, and More Questions

Words stirring in my spirit. Words of life. Words of confrontation. Words of revelation spoken to me over and over again in the past few days.

Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2 NKJV)

Questions rise up in me, provoked by these simple words above. What kind of focus is this? What kind of joy is seen here? Who willingly walks forward into pain and suffering unless He is seeing something much greater as His reality?

Abide In MeI call myself a woman of focus. Yet, reality shows me that my peripheral vision, my eyes wandering into distractions and diversions around me, cause me to stop in mid-stride. At times, I get stuck in doubt, loss of hope and even self-pity.

How do I do it? How do I flow like Jesus, who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross with its pain, shame, and suffering? Sometimes I am paralyzed in my ‘present’. I don’t want any more dead ends in my life, so I simply stand still at times. I also don’t like pain. I have had enough of it. Haven’t you? What is this key, Lord that you are trying to show me? I am definitely over thinking this, looking for a complex solution in the midst of what appears to be a simple revelation.

My years in Pentecostalism or Charismaticism (new word) have taught me to do something, anything for a situation to change. To move forward when not seeing results, pray more. Cry out to God on my knees more. Worship more. Read the Bible more. But, what happens when you do all that and nothing happens? Has God failed me? Absolutely not. So what do I do? What must I learn in this?

Suddenly a voice of simplicity rises up within me. I hear one word, “Abide.”

“Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me. “I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing (John 15:4-5 Message)

Is it that simple? And what exactly does ‘abide’ mean for me? How do I abide? Do I read the Bible every day? Do I pray an hour when I first get up? There I am again, looking for the concrete in the midst of the revelational. Hahaha! I am laughing at myself right now.

QuestionsAbiding. Can you assure me that it will work? What makes me want something more definitive and structured so that I can see results and measure life on some self-imposed graph of success? Again, I am laughing out loud. LOL. See, I am. Really.

How must I abide to enjoy this journey called life? How must I abide to walk in peace even in the midst of the storm? How should I abide when life comes with fears and struggles and trials when you least expect it?

The voice of simplicity again rises up within me, not a voice of compulsion or declaration but a voice of stillness and serenity. Holy Spirit says to me “Abide”.

I have preached this as concept. I have ministered this prophetically, preaching it out and declaring it. But, can I now say that I am walking it? I admit not even knowing what I was preaching in times past. I am now abiding day by day. There is joy in trust, in relationship with Jesus, peace and intense love – I abide in this reality. And when this reality is forced to hide behind days filled with insecurity and rejection I run back to that revelation of abiding, Christ in me. He walks with me each moment of my life, never leaving or forsaking me. I am going back to the basics everyone. More in the days ahead on this journey. Perhaps it is best that I stir up more questions in you than answers right now. That is what the prophetic does best. Leading you into questions so that you draw close into Christ and not my words. I point the way to Jesus. That’s all for today.

Creativity – It’s All In Christ Jesus

poster25b-150-i-am-the-alphaGenesis 1:1-2 1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. NKJV

In the beginning, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit spoke and created the heavens and the earth. Creativity flowed! There is seen, in creation, diversity, beauty, form, flow, and function on every level, from the smallest cell to the largest star. God breathed and formed a human being. There is creativity resident in man through His breath and in the power of the Holy Spirit in Christ.

Colossians 1:27 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. NKJV

Christ is in us, the hope of glory. He is the center of our life. Life is defined in Christ. Without Christ there is no life. Our life, beautifully and gloriously formed in Him, flows creatively in our expression in Him. Jesus holds it all together. It’s quite simple knowing this truth. Creativity abounds in the expression of Christ Jesus through people. Once you understand that, you can run with the revelation and the revelation is quite clear. Jesus Christ flows through you in a myriad of ways and expressions.

Love-And-Christian-Free-Wallpaper-Colossians-1-27-678x508How do you express Christ in you? You are not robots or clones. You are free in Christ. This freedom is manifested in the physical ream through the diversity in the human race itself – color, height, or hair color just to name a few. Emotionally we are made whole in Christ and our expression in Him brings forth people who are quiet, loud, passionate, reserved, extroverts, introverts, and more. Spiritually I acknowledge that Christ Jesus is Lord and the center of my life. From that point of revelation I love and move and have my being in Him. My spirituality is secure in the knowledge of this beautiful Savior.

Colossians 1:15-17 15 We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen. We look at this Son and see God’s original purpose in everything created. 16 For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels––everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. 17 He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment. The Message

Jesus is the source. Life flows from the source. Creativity in life flows from the source of Christ. When we truly grasp this, we cease all striving to fit in or to be like anyone else. He knows us through and through in our lives. There is no need for competition or jealousy for all flows uniquely in Christ through each of us individually. So be You in Christ.

 

 

 

Shhhhhhhhh! – Quotable Living

WWW_HI have been known to be verbose. (Verbose = given to wordiness; using more words than necessary) Hey, it does not take a genius to notice some clear signs that you could be going on too much and for too long. Those wandering eyes looking around for a quick exit as I began to speak and speak and speak should have told me something. Or, that dazed look on the face of some of my family and friends as I could begin to speak and not know when to stop.

I am happy to say that I learned the fine art of repetition from my dad, the master of the game. His firm belief was to say it once and then say it again and again and again. He appeared to be immovable as I rolled my eyes, attempted to leave the room, or totally ignored him by looking at the clock. He just kept going on and on and on. Well, like every family tradition, someone has to pick up the mantle that is passed down to us. I picked it up.

Using excess words were my specialty in an attempt to qualify my belief in something, justify my position, or even to enlarge my own sense of entitlement in believing that I since I can speak, I should speak.

Then along comes Marvin, my husband of 38 years. What a guy! A strong Texan, who instinctively believes that you think before you speak and that you don’t interrupt anyone while they are speaking.

He married me, Debra, a loud Polish girl from Chicago. I believe that if there were not at least three conversations going on at one time, life was totally inadequate. After all, at our dinner table, there were constant interruptions and a myriad of different conversations. I learned to be part of at least 2 at one time.

talking-headsI can laugh at all of this now because it is all so true. But, I had to learn some basic lessons. One day this quote hit me. Quotes always hit me and never slide in easy to my life. They have to hit because I am probably talking too much. It said:

“Speak the truth, or say nothing at all.” Come Away My Beloved – Francis Roberts

Words hold power and anointing to change the atmosphere and to change lives. They can wound or heal. They can destroy or build up. They carry peace or can cause division. God took me on a journey to teach me in many different ways how to speak the truth or to be silent, thereby showing me how to restrain my tongue and to speak with wisdom, passion, even with confrontation.

Over the years, God began to take me on a journey of words – their power, their anointing, and their reality. I can’t cover all that I learned right here, right now. Yet, in those years God became my chief editor and I became the master of the rewrite and the revision. Saying something wrong, I had to go many times to ask someone’s forgiveness. Saying something foolish, I had to realize that fools speak without thinking. Saying too much at one time, I had to realize I did not have the right to come into every situation believing I was the only one with something to say.

shhAs a preacher, a writer, and a speaker, I have learned many lessons over the years. Here are a few:

I do not have a right to say everything I am thinking.

Excess words erode inner authority and drag you down into generalities that can constantly seek to justify, or qualify, or endlessly explain.

Silence is an art and I am learning when to speak and when to be silent.

Well, that’s a few thoughts for today. Let’s see. There are 662 words in this blog. That is a bit verbose BUT I did not say I have arrived at perfection. I am still in a learning curve.