Interview with Aleah Marsden: Empowering “Ordinary” Women for Extraordinary Lives

Aleah Marsden is a writer, speaker, Bible study leader, wife, and mother of four. You will hear her refer to herself as “just average,” unequipped to teach or lead. And yet, that’s exactly what she does: she brings the word of God to others in ways they can understand and apply to their daily lives. She speaks directly to those who feel they are too “ordinary” for God, equipping and empowering them to serve in extraordinary ways.

The primary goal of your work is to draw women deeper into God’s word to plumb the depths of the riches they will find there. What specific message do you hope women will find?

That we are valued and loved beyond what we can imagine. That each of us has been given an individualized calling and specific gifts to steward, living empowered by His strength and guided by His Spirit. That we have access to all we need to fully utilize our gifts and walk into our callings to bless others.

Read the rest of today’s interview here.

 

Aleah Marsden, headshot

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2013: The Year of the Woman

The year 2013 may well come to be known as the Year of the Woman.

Women of high socio-economic status both applauded and lamented the publication of Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, while women of a certain age waxed nostalgic over the 50th anniversary release of Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique. Those under 30 were surprised that the latter book existed, and those in their middle years realized the reading assignment that somewhat bored them as inapplicable in college was now vitally important, as they struggled with work/life balance and debated whether to stay home with the kids or remain in the paid workforce.

You can read the rest of today’s blog post at Sojourners by clicking here.

JStone/Shutterstock

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Women and Taboos: Leaning In, and Getting Frank About Faith, Sexuality and the Bible

In this age of third-wave feminism, many Americans may not realize that Christian women continue to struggle with what many would deem outdated gendered notions. This includes things such as a woman’s calling being second to her husband’s, women as unwitting temptresses who therefore must hide their bodies, and that women may not lead (or sometimes even speak) in church. Both external and internal pressures and fears have historically kept women silent on these matters.

In the recently released Talking Taboo: American Christian Women Get Frank About Faith, edited by Erin S. Lane and Enuma C. Okoro, 40 women under 40 were provided a much-needed pulpit from which to break the silence. These 40 women addressed head-on many of the taboos remaining at the intersection of faith and gender, and how they are stepping out of historical oppression to make real change within the church.

You can read the rest of the review at Sojourners by clicking here.

women of faith talking t_cover_final_front

Week Links #12

Women’s Words

Sarah Bessey: In which I choose to be a feminist in the way that Jesus would be a feminist

Margaret Philbrick: How Do We Celebrate Malala Yousafzai’s 16th Birthday?

Leah Eichler: The Business Case for Ending Violence Against Women

Social Justice

Jim Wallis: The Moral Urgency of Immigration Reform

Jonathan Merritt: The Rise of the Christian Left in America

Michael Wear: Is Immigration Reform Dead? Not if Evangelicals Can Do Anything About It.

Wesley Morris: Strange Fruitvale

Stuff

53 Things Only 80’s Girls Can Understand

My Stuff

@ Sojourners: Inspired by Malala: What Your Story Can Do

Poor, Pitiful Me

I am not a kind person.

Okay, so really I am. Almost all of the time.

But when I’m not, I can’t even stand to be in the same room with me.

For example:

This morning I got upset with or in front of every person in my house, except for the baby, and he was still asleep when I left so I’m not sure that he counts.

The set-up:

My three-year-old had her first singing “performance” this morning. She and the other cutie-patootie Pink Lambs were singing their memory verses. Rachel missed it last time (because the baby was sick), and I didn’t want her to miss it this time. And last week the class leader very, very specifically said to “be on time,” because the late kids would miss out.

So I:

nagged my mom to hurry up and get ready despite the fact she gave every indication of being on time;

got into a very heated upstairs/downstairs text exchange with one very affronted teen over car logistics borne of being a 5-car family with a 2-car driveway;

ignored the fact that my husband had been up all night with a fussy baby and snapped at him for his incoherent-to-me mumblings when I had to wake him to move one of the aforementioned cars;

looked for emotional support from my mom for the crap I have to put up with, which she responded to by reminding me of how snarky I’d been as a teen. So. Not. Helpful.

So then I got snappy with my mom while my simply-excited-to-sing daughter sat in the back seat hanging on my every ugly word.

I slumped in my straight-backed chair feeling very sorry for myself. Why was everyone so grumpy and hard to deal with when I’m always Little Miss Sunshine? Why do they push me to such frustration? It just wasn’t fair.

The icing on the cake was finding out, after getting there on time, that the program had changed: the kids were scheduled to sing at 10:40, not 9:15. I slumped lower in my chair.

I felt like a big old idiot for my ugliness and rushing. Don’t I always say things work out how they’re supposed to so we should just go with the flow? Aren’t I even a little smug when others are freaking out and I stay calm? Why did I have to (re)learn the lesson that it’s always, always in the mama meltdowns that I end up being WRONG? It just wasn’t fair.

I tried to listen to the guest speaker, a missionary who was giving a talk on her AIDS orphanage in India, complete with heart-wrenching photos. My mom nudged me and said, “now THEY have problems.” I knew she was right. Knew I should be more thankful, but still I felt icky.

Icky and discouraged, and like the heavy task of trying to be a relaxed, easy-going mama for my household was on my shoulders and I was just too weak to hold it.

Then we went into our last lesson of the year: the passion of Christ. When the large group reconvened, the leader said something along the lines of:

“…. and the women went to the tomb. Filthy, weary, discouraged women…”

(I may have misheard the “filthy” part, but that’s what I wrote down in my handy-dandy notebook so I’m sticking to it.)

“Filthy, weary, discouraged women.” And oh, we are! (Well, maybe not filthy.) Every smiling woman I know is weary and discouraged somewhere, somehow, some way. When the weight gets too great, we stop smiling and start shouting. Or even if it the weight isn’t too great (read: me stressing over being on time and ending up being 1.5 hours early, and really is being on time worth alienating 5/6 of my household?), we shout anyway. And then we cry, most likely in the shower since that’s the only place we’re ever alone. And if these other women are anything like me, they tell themselves they will be nicer. They will not snap and then feel guilty. They will be the light bearers for their homes.

And we should be. But it’s a mixed bag: we should forgive ourselves for our infrequent breakdowns (thanks, o-friend-of-mine for donning your priestess robe and waving your arms and reminding me we all fall short). But…. maybe we (read: I) should be a bit more relaxed. A bit more trusting in how things will play out. Sort of like those other weary and discouraged women.

And this is where I tie it all back, nice and neat, to those women who got the surprise of their lives just when they were at the lowest of low and thought all hope was lost. But honestly, I just don’t think my little bitty issues can be analogous to something so awesome. But I can tell you that’s what I was thinking.

Anyway, the singing was great.

(Sorry about the weirdo scribbles. I don't feel comfortable showing other people's cutie-patooties.)

(Sorry about the weirdo scribbles. I don’t feel comfortable showing other people’s cutie-patooties.)