Read my Mind.

Though a woman can be difficult to understand, she is certainly a reflection of God’s character. However, this does not excuse sinful behavior on our part. So please know that I will just state the “way it is” in my list, not the way it should be. This may help you be an agent of sanctification in a woman’s life!

  • Women cry. It’s okay. It doesn’t phase us and we don’t expect you to cry too. We want you to take time to understand and ask…and maybe just supply something along the lines of dark chocolate and Kleenex. Sometimes a hug makes the crying more intense-just remember that if you are trying to console her in a public place…
  • When we answer “nothing,” it’s either code for “I don’t want to talk about it,” or “I want you to ask more questions.” Yeah, sometimes, you might just have to enter the proverbial minefield to find out the difference.
  • Women like men to be men. This will take on the following forms:
    • A woman doesn’t want a man who is more emotional than she is. She will have a different emotional makeup and is fearful that her husband will not be a safe harbor for her ship.
    • A woman doesn’t want a man who is prettier than she is. Your legs should not be smoother and your eyebrows should not be more meticulously preened. You should probably not be tanner than she is.
    • A woman doesn’t want a man who takes longer in the bathroom than she does.
    • A woman wants to feel safe, small, protected. Therefore (in part) she does not want someone skinnier or smaller than she is. Yipes.
  • We multitask. God made us to have 3 times the memory chunking capabilities that you have. We also get stressed when our multitasking limits are maxed out. On occasion, we may not be able to give you undivided attention. In those cases, the biggest ministry to our worn hearts is to jump in and help us with what we are doing so it gets done quicker and then we can look into your eyes! We want to!
  • Take into account all that she does. Once home from work (if she has a job) she’ll want to make sure your home is a beautiful sanctuary for you. That takes a lot of work. Like, hours each day.
  • Don’t make fun of her if she tries to meet your needs and fails! It may take a long time for her to open up and try again if you do.
  • A woman is like a flower-she appreciates beauty, needs to drink deeply of the Word of God, and, under the right circumstances will bloom for you. Nurture her.
  • Cooking is a learning experience. Just be patient and she’ll grow!
  • There’s nothing more dashing than a man in a suit. Give her a reason to get dressed up then do so yourself. She appreciates you keeping yourself nicely just as you’d appreciate her to.
  • Some chores need to be give and take. Some women hate making the bed.
  • Give her time to workout-she wants to look nice for you, so develop a schedule and take the kids during that time so that she can keep in shape (or get in shape)
  • She’ll probably need to diet. She probably knows it. A very versatile question to this touchy topic is “how can I help you?”
  • A woman’s body will be different after having children and it may never be the same again. It scares us, but it’s a sacrifice we make in order to minister Christ to our own children.
  • Dark chocolate, coffee, and loving go a long way.
  • There’s no slick way around the “weight question.” Weight matters to a woman the way money matters to a man. It never leaves our minds. Ever. It’s just always lurking in the background.
  • A woman wants to be sought after. If you can’t pursue us, can you protect us?
  • Woman’s intuition is legit. When she says “I don’t know, I just have a bad feeling about this,” consider it a cause to at least stop and think.
  • A woman wants you to lead and is fearful that you will not. She is prepared at any moment to step up to the plate and usurp your rightful authority out of fear. This, I believe, is a sad but true element of the curse of Satan on the gender roles.
  • All women are bilingual and the two languages must translate cohesively. We are fluent in verbal communication and paralanguage, which is body language (aka the “signals” or “vibes”). This explains our “reading into things.” When you say “I’m fine,” with a frown and a sigh, we may be apt to second guess you because the two languages did not send the same message. Or when you say “yeah, I’ll help you.” but sit in the chair and flip channels for several more minutes, we may think that you forgot or that you were trying to evade our request…even if you are thinking “I never said when I’d help you!”
  • A woman doesn’t want to be heard, she wants to be listened to. There is a stark difference between listening and hearing. Listening is interactive-a good listener asks questions and engages physically (posture, eye contact, nodding.etc.) We’ll be able to tell the difference.
  • A woman will value having her emotional needs met the way a man will value the way a woman looks.
  • Dark chocolate. Good dark chocolate. Hershey’s and Nestle do not fall into this category.
  • She is relational. She’ll feel the most connected to you when she gets to spend time with you. Keep dating her!
  • She wants to be your biggest cheerleader. She wants to pour courage into you when you need it. And if you fail, she fails.
  • Love her more than your children. The kids will feel more secure at home if they know Mom and Dad love each other than if they are loved themselves. Everyone else’s family is falling apart because of Mom and Dad. If they see that you are different, that’s more reassuring to them.
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Wha…? Pt 3 of 3

As I sat in my living room with one of my room leaders, we laughed, shared stories, and planned ministry direction. I always love my time with this room leader for a couple of reasons: she loves God and it shows, she loves her roommates and it shows, and she loves me and it shows!

She had been telling me a funny story (she always has the best stories!) when my landline rang.

“Excuse me for a minute-can I grab this call?” I interrupted, “The only calls I get on this phone are from the dean’s office or welcome center!”  and I hurriedly answered the phone half expecting an emergency situation. My room leader sat awkwardly trying to determine whether to leave or wait out the call and finish our meeting.

“Hi, is this Stephanie?” a man’s cheerful voice asked. He sounded too cheerful. Like a…salesman…wait!

“This is. How can I help you?” I asked in a businesslike voice. After double-checking my identity, the chirpy voice went on, “This is Steve…from church. Do you remember me? We met a few weeks ago during an evening service.”
Oh junk, he found me after at least another month. Why are the wrong ones always incredibly tenacious? This might get ugly. When my room leader heard the conversation take on a more personal tone she began to excuse herself and mouth her goodbye. I clenched her knee with a death grip and mouthed a “DON’T LEAVE ME!!” to which she fell back into her seat with a startled look. All she heard next was a terse:

“You know, thank you, but I’m not interested in going out with you. Ever.” Her eyebrows nearly shot off of her forehead in shock. Our conversation concluded with some congenial but stilted parting statements and when I hung up the phone, I had a minor meltdown.

This is when you really know who your best friends are. One of my dearest friends scurried over to my apartment with dark chocolate, coffee, and a few minutes to listen to me try to sort out why. Why I’m not dating. Why I’m being asked out by someone older than my father. Why only the weirdies. Why I’m freaking out about it instead of being grateful for an opportunity. You know, the questions best friends field during bff freak-outs and still tell you that you are wonderful, and God is still good. I love those friends. They just know!

And I haven’t seen or heard from Steve since then.

Privileged

photo by Kristi Love Troutman

I just began meeting individually with my room leaders for the month and need to say that I am privileged to minister with them! It is amazing to see how God truly builds “precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little, there a little.” (Isaiah 28:13) As I asked some of them what the biggest lesson God has been teaching them this year, I grew excited to hear some lessons I’d learned throughout the years here! The memory of God’s clear work during those crucibles filled my heart with a song and reminded me that God is changing me!

That reminder also haunted me with a question: am I still living like God taught me something through those lessons? If I were to publicly identify with them, would others be surprised? Am I truly living evidence of God’s authority in my life? Am I living that vulnerable transparency that magnifies Christ’s strength in my weakness?

It also reminded me of two things:

1. I am sinful. There is only hope for sinners. Not hope for someone in adverse circumstances, not hope for the addict, hope for the sinner.

2. God doesn’t always use the dark times to break me. Some of my most humbling lessons have come when, in God’s steadfast love, He has given me good things, kind things, even just something I wanted, but didn’t need! I was humbled by that kindness. It woke me up early in the morning-I simply couldn’t sleep until I wrapped my mind around why God was choosing to give me something so sweet!

I am so privileged to minister to and with the body of Christ. It is a beautiful thing.

Better Every Day

I’ve been gone for a while. I’m not apologizing because there’d be too much of that to do. However, I want to give testimony to God’s healing hand! Some may recall me sharing some health struggles last year. The Candidiasis has lasted for far longer than anyone ever anticipated. The normal recovery time when someone follows the diet strictly is six weeks. I’ve been going back and forth with the diet for well over a year! To me, there was no end in sight and I would grow more discouraged as time went on.

During this time though, I learned to keep going. I would keep being a “people person” even when I felt like my stomach was a ball of molten lead, my back hurt, and I couldn’t think straight. I would keep giving devos even when my body was closing up shop for the night. I would wake up to take care of that girl sick in the bathroom without being sick myself! This is evidence of God’s mercy and I’m so privileged. I came to a contented knowledge that if I never got better, I’d be okay. And I look forward to Christ’s return so much more now!

But by God’s grace, one day shortly after Spring Break, I woke up energized. Wait…something must be wrong. NO! I felt…better! Throughout the next week, I grew increasingly stronger. My energy began to return, and I felt like myself again! I didn’t feel so irritable all the time. My stomach shrunk back to its normal state. I even cared about exercise again! Since then, I’ve been running regularly and increasing my time and distance each week. I’ve been faithful to the sugar-free diet because I know it honors the Lord, not because it makes me feel better.

I stand as a testimony of God’s grace. I can say with confidence that God is good all the time. I can say with confidence that no matter what, I live in light of God’s steadfast love. It’s unmovable, unshakable, anchored deep and overflowing to me.

And better every day.

Work Ethic

work_in_progressI just had this “Eureka!” moment that I simply had to share with my blog readers.

Genesis 2:15 shares that God created work in the garden before man sinned. Work was an original part of God’ plan for mankind-not a punishment for sin! In Genesis 3:17-19, sin cursed work by making it painful, difficult, and draining (using words such as “pain,” “thorns, thistles,” “sweat,” etc.) So God intends for us to be productive as a part of His plan for our completeness.

Though it may shade my character to those who think me perfect…ahem…I’ll be frank and say that I struggle with this ridiculous conundrum:

There are times that I have this paralyzing fear of work. If someone presents me with an idea, job, or need, I’ll shy away from it if I think it will take too much work. “That wears me out just thinking about it!” I’ll joke. Now fear in general can be paralyzing, but this is something I have no right to be fearful of!

The flipside of this conundrum is that, as I’m growing up, I have this innate desire to be productive and nurture. I want my apartment to be known as a place where people will be well taken care of-they will be warm and cozy, surrounded by nostalgic fragrance, given appealing food, listen to interesting music, and their soul will be tended to. Earlier this year I wanted to test out my green thumb as gardening has never been a part of my life. I bought some potted plants, transferred them, and, believe it or not, they are still thriving! I then wondered how challenging it would be to grow herbs for my own cooking. I haven’t started that, but it’s on my list.

So, to be unclear, I desire to be productive BUT I desire to avoid work. And realistically, people who avoid work, kill life.

God’s plan has always been for us to work and be productive. The temptation to be lazy is not where I live in Christ!

Clinging to the Rock

PeetersBonaventuraShipInStormySeaGreenwichNMMwThis week has ran past me at full speed and I’m still reeling, trying to get everything done. Sometimes shouldering someone else’s burdens takes a toll on my own heart and I don’t know it until I cry at something very mundane. Then I know that my heart needs a little time away with my Savior. That was last night.

This week has been full of opportunities-ones I would never trade for anything, but required sacrifice on my part. Unusual medical situations came up that I had to help provide for, girls with burdens who I could listen to and walk with toward hope, or just needs for quiet places to do homework. The girl coming in in tears because she just needed to talk with her boyfriend and hadn’t been able to. The girl wanting a backrub or a bubblebath. The late-night planning meetings for society. The girl wanting to bake cookies in my kitchen, grab ice from my freezer, store food in my fridge, borrow a cup, go to the bathroom in my bathroom because theirs is closed for cleaning. And on top of that, my normal one on one meetings with my leadership team, dean’s staff, etc.

My bedroom became a solace for girls needing the quiet place to study, talk on the phone, or just chill out. My couch became a bed for myself or others as needs arose and sacrifices were made. The Lord showed me how to die to myself a number of times, and for that, I’m really grateful! Yeah, I could have done more. But I’m doing more now than I did last year at this time and that’s what keeps me going-seeing change in myself as well as the girls I minister with.

Last night was probably the breaking point. I have been feeling “blah” all week-very tired, achy, stomach stuff, etc. I really wanted to go to sleep, but was on-call. I really wanted to stay awake to hang out with my girls, but kept falling asleep. Finally, I closed my bedroom door, checked my email one last time, and went to bed. There it was. The last straw. I’d just gotten an email from someone arguing a decision I’d made. I understood where she was coming from, but her unkind words really shot arrows at my heart when I normally would have shrugged them off. I knew I was being overly sensitive, but the tears came nonetheless. And sob I did.

The sleep helped. I have to plan a children’s program for tonight, and children’s church for two services tomorrow without any helpers. I need to be in the dorm and available for the girls I love so much. But above all, I need to trust the Lord for His provision. I don’t have strength-I need His. This song has been my mainstay this week:

Stil, My Soul, Be Still

Still my soul be still
And do not fear
Though winds of change may rage tomorrow
God is at your side
No longer dread
The fires of unexpected sorrow

God You are my God
And I will trust in You and not be shaken
Lord of peace renew
A steadfast spirit within me
To rest in You alone

Still my soul be still
Do not be moved
By lesser lights and fleeting shadows
Hold onto His ways
With shield of faith
Against temptations flaming arrows

Still my soul be still
Do not forsake
The Truth you learned in the beginning
Wait upon the Lord
And hope will rise
As stars appear when day is dimming

Words and Music by Keith & Kristyn Getty & Stuart Townend

If I Were a Dorm Supervisor

I would be scared to death. If I were a dorm supervisor, I would wish someone would have told me what it was really like. What they did, how they felt, how they dealt.

Allow me to share. Over the course of time, I plan to chronicle my time here as a residence supervisor to eighty-three girls. It is a unique ministry, in fact, no ministry can quite compare to the gamut of opportunities I get in this one. Read on.

PP-LSH0007~Mother-Hen-PostersAugust 27, 2009

“My Sweet Savior,

All of my leadership team is back on campus safely and I’m overjoyed! As I sat together with them all last night, my heart squeezed with pride. I’m so proud of them and their walks with You! As I looked at each face, I could recall a number of struggles they’d been through, hard decisions made, etc. in which they look more like You now than they did before the trial. I feel like this, my third year, is my first year of fully being the dorm sup. I’ve got established connections with each girl and I can’t wait for one-on-one time with them again!

I did begin to lose composure at one point while talking because I realized that next year at this time I didn’t know who they’d be with. Yahweh Jireh, as You’ve provided in so many miraculous ways, I ask for your special work to be done in Kathleen’s replacement as in mine. Please reveal each girl clearly and work in their hearts even now.

Amen”

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