Parents & their Trampy kids

I saw this article being tossed around on twitter today and HAD to share it with you. I’ll let the title speak for itself, but as always I have to add my piece. 🙂

There were times I wanted to strangle my parents for being strict with what I wore growing up, but I appreciate it so much more today. Yes, there were times I was out of style and wished I had been a little bit more “in,” but I’m neither scarred nor in therapy. 🙂 Instead I’m thankful that I learned to base my self-esteem not in my looks, getting attention from men (twice my age), or feeling sexy.

I love that I had a daddy who was protective of me and my wardrobe – even though there were times when we disagreed on what is/isn’t appropriate. And thankfully, I had a mom who modeled what “appropriate” was! I’m so grateful that my mom wasn’t trying to dress like a sexy teenager while I was going through my teen years. Yet somewhere along the line, I’ve seen family friends and church friends have children and allow their daughters to dress like prostitutes and mtv real-world wannabes.

LZ Granderson wrote THIS article and it was amazing, but here’s also what I would add:

Moms, quit trying to be your daughter’s bff (and living vicariously through her) and start being her mom. When she’s 20-something, a friendship will flourish and she’ll thank you for it. Until then… be her mom.  And dads, get protective. If you won’t stand up for your daughter, who will? If you aren’t setting the boundaries of self-respect for your daughter, who is? If you’re not helping her develop her self-esteem in the proper things, who is and what are they teaching her?

And for those of us who are Christians, let’s not pretend like we’re off the hook here and that it never happens in our circles. I’ve seen some pretty trampy 13 year olds in the churches I’ve attended and I’m appalled to see the photos that their parents are “liking” on facebook. Pictures of them in string bikini bottoms and push up tops are inappropriate at any age.  It isn’t “good clean fun” when minors are looking like porn stars on the internet. There’s nothing good or clean about it if I’m not comfortable having my husband look at their photos. Think about it, if people will pay money for magazines of ladies posing and dressed similarly to some of the photos I see on facebook, we’re allowing our daughters to be lusted after for free.

I’m getting off my soap box now… but seriously when a secular news outlet is verbalizing that it’s a problem, it’s time for action. Enjoy the article… it’s amazing.

Parents, don’t dress your girls like tramps. Check it out.

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Dr. Catherine Hamlin: the “Mother Teresa of our Day”

The contents of this entry were completely written by Elissa Cooper, writer for Christianity Today’s Her.meneutics. This article and photo is from Her.meneutics and both were originally featured here. I just read it, loved it, and HAD to share it. Dr. Catherine Hamlin is AMAZING. Read this, fall in love with an amazing woman, and be encouraged by her faith in our good God.

Dr. Catherine Hamlin, 87, has saved countless Ethiopian women’s lives through her work repairing fistulas. Most don’t know that she labors out of love for Jesus.

Vesicovaginal fistulas (VVFs) and the people who champion their eradication are fascinating. For Dr. L. Lewis Wall’s Christianity Today piece “Jesus and the Unclean Woman,” I spent a lot of time learning about VVFs for the accompanying news article, and enjoyed a refresher course for documentary review of A Walk to Beautiful for Her.meneutics. But I finally got to the heart of the story when I met Dr. Catherine Hamlin last month.

The world knows Hamlin’s name. The Australian obstetrician-gynecologist has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof dubbed her “the Mother Teresa of our age,” and Oprah has featured her story. However, Hamlin’s most striking quality is her Christian faith. It has driven her life’s work in healing women with VVFs in Ethiopia and her goal to end VVF worldwide by the end of the century. During her trip to launch Hamlin Fistula USA — the newest member of Hamlin Fistula International — 87-year-old Hamlin sat down with me to talk.

Hamlin and her late husband, Reginald, also an obstetrician-gynecologist, were initially hired to work at an Ethiopian government hospital in 1959. “I believe God put us there. We came across these patients soon after we got there. They touched our hearts so much we stayed working with them.”

However, they soon found themselves overwhelmed by VVF patients. VVFs are holes or tears that occur during labor where the baby cannot be delivered without intervention, such as a cesarean section. The child usually dies, and the women are incontinent and become outcasts because of their condition. It is unknown how many women suffer from VVF as it usually strikes those in poor, rural areas, but one estimate puts the figure at 3 million women worldwide.

Fortunately, VVFs can be repaired with a simple surgery, and over the decades, the Hamlins have cured thousands of women. In 1974, the Hamlins founded Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital in Ethiopia with the sole aim to treat VVF. Catherine still lives and works there as she performs surgeries one day a week, helps manage the hospital, and visits with patients. “I’m usually occupied all day with something,” Hamlin says. “I lie down after lunch for a bit of a rest, since I’ve gotten old.”

Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital is not a mission hospital or affiliated with a particular denomination, but the Hamlins’ faith defines it. The staff begins the day with a prayer meeting, and recordings of Scripture readings and messages are available in at least 25 languages for the women to listen to on headphones as they recover. Many patients have become Christians.

As the second fistula hospital in the world (the first ran in New York from 1855 to 1928 when VVFs became obsolete in the U.S.), Addis Ababa depends on donations to provide free surgery and care for these women. Organizations give financial support to run the hospital and provide each woman with a new dress, a bus ticket home, and, if they would like one, a Bible. Hamlin Fistula International also raised money to launch five regional hospitals in Ethiopia that serve 3,000 patients a year and hopes to treat 4,000 annually. In order to prevent VVFs, another project involves training midwives to serve in rural areas and supporting them in their work.

“Most of the midwives in Ethiopia are congregated in the big city, Addis Ababa,” Hamlin says. “But our midwives are committed to work in the countryside, and they’re happy to work back in their own areas.” One of their first trained midwives returned home to find her sister was in labor, and she was able to deliver the child.

Mark Bennett, CEO of Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia, adds, “The challenge is to make sure that we instill the same kind of ethos and environment in five new locations as well as our college to train midwives. We’re trying to capture what it is that’s made the hospital special, which is really centered on Dr. Hamlin’s faith that has empowered her and given her the love and desire to do this work.”

The problem may seem relentless, but Hamlin remains optimistic. When asked if her faith had ever been shaken by her work, she firmly says, “No. I never had a doubt about my faith. I’ve had many answers to prayer, and I know that God is behind us. He loves these women far more than I do.”

Hamlin relies heavily on prayer to keep her and others going, but most of all, she asks people to pray that VVF will be over by the end of the century. “Surely we can have something in this 21st century where there’s so much done for medical conditions throughout the world, and yet nothing is done for women in labor. The most important moment in their lives, bringing a baby into the world, nobody cares about them. Or they can’t do anything if anything goes wrong.”

With VVF, the first goal is to treat the physical body, but Hamlin and her staff also find themselves administering emotional and spiritual healing. “They think that God has cursed them. They’re so terribly ashamed of this condition,” Hamlin says. Women are thrown out by their husbands. One unknown statistic is how many women with VVF commit suicide. Hamlin remembers one story of a girl who was brought in by her uncle after he saved her from hanging herself.

“Once they get through the gate, their attitude changes,” Hamlin says. “They come with downcast eyes and ashamed to look up, and then they see somebody with the same condition. They think they were the only ones.”

After the surgery, if the woman is able to have children again, Hamlin and others encourage her to marry because “without a baby, there’s no life for a woman in the countryside.”

“We don’t know what happens to them, but some of them remarry and come back pregnant to us,” Hamlin says. The women stay there until labor begins, and they are moved to a hospital for a cesarean section. After the hospital discharges them, the women return to the fistula hospital. “We teach them how to breastfeed, how to look after a newborn baby, and give them a set of clothes for the baby. This ward is usually a place of joy.”

For someone who has worked tirelessly for others and keeps expanding her vision, I couldn’t help asking if Hamlin thought about retiring. “I’ve got a grave there waiting for me,” Hamlin laughs. “I hope to be here a little bit longer.”

For more information about Dr. Hamlin, Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital, or fistulas, read The Hospital By the River and Catherine’s Gift: Stories of Hope from the Hospital by the River, or see the 2009 Emmy-winning documentary A Walk to Beautiful.

Female Influence

Tonight has been a slow Friday night. Ben’s out for the evening and I’ve spent the majority of the afternoon and evening reading for a project. It’s nights like these when I have time to sit and reflect, when I realize how thankful I should be.

While I was surfing facebook (taking a much needed break from my work), I perused through a few of my former teachers/professors pages and I realized what a significant influence they had on me!

I can remember from the 3rd grade on, God graciously placed older women in my life who believed in me and shaped me in various ways. Mrs. Lininger (3rd grade) encouraged me to love books and excel in math. Mrs. Fox (middle & high school) taught me to love different languages and to trust my instincts & the Holy Spirit. Mrs. Foley (middle & high) taught me how to love the Bible and how to live rightly in a fallen world. Mrs. Penick believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself and she pushed me towards excellence. She also gave some of the best advice ever to a teen who was trying to figure out their way in this crazy messed up world (high school). Ruthanne was and still is a listening ear who pushes me to read and develop my own thoughts in light of  Scripture. She’s been a good friend and a great example of a life of intentionality.

In college, the story line is similar. I had female professors and ladies on staff at Cedarville who pushed me to love God more and figure out who I was in light of who God is. Professor Wheeler taught me to be creative and think/speak outside of the box. Dr. Haffey taught me to organize and speak my thoughts confidently in front of an audience.  Kirsten Gibbs showed me what it looked like to be a fun independent woman who loves the Lord and loves people well. And Kim Ahlgrim, Oh Kim… well she helped me think through matters of God, Christian culture, church, romance, future, and everything in between all over a cup of coffee. She also taught me through example that being married and having a family is FUN – not a drag. I can still hear the way she talked about her husband and kids and I’m STILL encouraged.

I share this with you because I honestly believe that without these women in my life, I most likely would have walked away from the faith. These are women who intentionally encouraged me and spent time with me. They were patient with me despite my immaturity, yet because they were patient, because they spoke truth in my life… I am still a believer today. I’m still growing in the faith.

I’ve written before about a shortage of women in the church who know Scriptures well and who are willing and capable to open up their lives to younger women. I’m a product of women sacrificing their time and energy to pour into me. We need more Mrs. Foley’s in our churches. We need more Kirsten Gibbs. In light of that, a few thoughts:

  • Women, if you feel like you’re not at a place where you have a sound knowledge of Scripture – that can change! Pray that God will burden your heart with a hunger for His Word.
  • If you feel like you don’t have time to invest in another lady’s life – Pray that God will show you how to organize and prioritize your life so that you can! Titus 2 isn’t an optional passage of Scripture – it’s a mandate to us all!
  • If you’re looking for a woman to invest in your life – Get involved in a local church and start praying for opportunities to meet a lady who can invest in your life. Also remember, this is a two way street! So be looking for someone to invest in as well!

Those are my thoughts on this Friday evening. So thankful to the many women who have invested in my life.

Much love,

Brit

Where my girls at?: Female Theologians & the Church

A few weeks ago I was on a Q&A panel at SEBTS for prospective students and I was asked a really good question that sparked my thinking. Before I jump into the topic, let me give you a little background information.

Since marrying the Hubby, I’ve switched churches. When we first started dating, we were at two different churches and neither of us wanted to switch until our commitment was official. Once we were engaged, I slowly started letting go of responsibilities at my church and started “merging” over to Ben’s church. Now that we’re married, we’re fully at his church and I’m working on switching my membership over to his.  During this process I’ve been searching for a solid older married woman (30+, but preferably 40+) to disciple me.

A few weeks ago, we heard one of our church’s pastors speaking and I turned to Ben and said, “I want to be discipled by him, but I’m a girl… and that would be awkward.” He quickly agreed. But this pastor is a phenomenal thinker and his knowledge of Scriptures consistently impresses me. I love how he is consistently reading a variety of books and how he relays pertinent information in such a way that everyone can understand. He is such a gifted teacher and I would love to sit under his teaching! Ben and I both agreed, me being discipled by an older man would not be the wisest of situations, but it brings me to my topic… Where are the brilliant female theologians in our churches?

While on the panel at SEBTS I was asked a question about being female at a Southern Baptist seminary. In summary the lady wanted to know whether or not women were treated as second class citizens. Were women viewed solely as future preacher’s wives? I’m not going to delve into that question here, but the short answer is no. But regardless, even if the opposite was true, should we allow an unbiblical idea stop us from becoming good theologians? There is a shortage of good female theologians in our churches and I’m wondering why.

Regardless of your stance on whether women should be “teaching” in the pulpit, in Sunday school rooms, deacons, etc., we can all agree that older women are called to disciple others, the Great Commission is not gender exclusive.  So in light of this, I’m trying to process a few thoughts… Humor me and help me develop my thinking.

1. All Christians should be Christian Theologians. We should all be “studiers of God.” If we believe in the Gospel, shouldn’t we all be good learners of the Scripture and strive to think and live rightly in this world, both men and women alike?

If this is true, then…

2. The studying of Christian theology should NOT only take place in seminaries. It should NOT be only taught from the pulpits. It should not only be well understood by men. It needs to be taught in our homes, in our friendships, in our families. This practice must permeate every sphere of our lives. Shame on us if we push off our responsibility to “academia” or solely to men. The Bible is for the rich, the poor, the young, the old, the brilliant, the not-so-brilliant, and for male & female. Each of us have the responsibility to be good stewards of Scripture.

Therefore…

3. Christian women, you are called to study Scriptures and to disciple others. It’s not optional. The Great Commission was not for men alone. If you feel called to seminary and you let a few men who have an inappropriate view of complementarianism get in your way of learning, shame on you. Who cares what they think? You have a responsibility to learn Scriptures well.

Which leads me to point #4…

4. In regards to learning Scriptures well… Ladies, no offense to Beth Moore (and seriously, I mean no offense), but we are fully capable of reading the same books that our brothers in Christ are reading. Our understanding of the Gospel needs to be equally robust as theirs. Be well rounded in what you read.

And lastly, this final point is mainly for me…

5. For those of you who are working through women’s issues in a more conservative church than you’d prefer. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, but make sure your attitude is in the right place. Recognize that you, like every other member, have submitted yourself to the authority of the church. Ask good questions, learn from the leadership that you’ve placed yourself under, and try to develop a spirit of humility. Pride is a dangerous thing and it seems to show itself frequently in Christian debates. Be open to the Holy Spirit changing your heart just as you would pray that the Holy Spirit would change the hearts of your pastors and elders.

Alright yall, those are my thoughts… I’m still growing, learning, failing, and then starting the process again so feel free to reprimand my thinking if I’m off.

Much love to you all…

Brittany