Monday, June 28, 2010

Strong Women = Intimidation

I was speaking with a female friend of mine the other day (and I hope she doesn't mind that I share this story and our conversation - I didn't ask), anyway, she was telling me that in her Christian circle she has had several males come up to her and tell her that because she is so outspoken and wants to lead that she was not wife material and not only that she was intimidating. My first reaction of course was anger and disgust for the insecure Christian males that I have encountered today (of course Andrew you are not one of them).

She went on to tell me that she, although felt called, has left her position where she was working in a ministry type setting for another career path because she was tired of being patronized or challenged about her strengths because they did not meet the expectations of her Christian male counterparts. It broke my heart as she told me that it hurts so much more to be put down for being a women from your Christian male peers. And it hurt even more for them to judge her and tell her she was not worthy for them to consider as spousal material.

My first reaction to her was how barbaric that these Christian men thought so highly of themselves that they could in essence tell my friend she was not chosen by them. As if they had any ability to pass some type of pick and choose method with her. I said next time tell them its okay because you don't even make my expectation list so you were never marriage material for me either. As we laughed a bit about my statement and I encouraged her to continue to be strong and celebrate in her outspokenness and leadership abilities. I began to think about that ministry position she felt forced to leave because she was told that her place was only to contribute in the areas of XYZ even though her talents and her skills warranted her to contribute in areas of ABC.

Why is the glass ceiling for women leaders so much lower and thicker in the Christian circles? How can we teach and partner with our male colleagues in this arena so they do not continue to lose these very successful, beautiful, intelligent, and powerful women who will continue, in any place they are at, to change this world for the Kingdom? How do we empower the next generation of women and change the message to this next generation of males in the Church and the world?

I stand with all the women who feel beaten down by too many expectations, labels, and roles. I have been there and know the struggle, the pain, the frustration, and the sense of betrayal and defeat. I stand with the women who fight everyday and push against the glass ceiling in their ministry positions. I stand with the women who have either been forced out or like my friend couldn't take it anymore and needed to leave, I stand with them to encourage them to come back and fight to find significance in their gifts that they have been blessed with to be courageous and bold. As women I want to encourage each of us to write a better legacy to this next generation then the ones we have been handed. Lets us be thankful to the women who fought before us, but let us not get tired or discouraged, but let us be one voice that will crack and break the Christian ministry glass ceiling.

God uses us all and we can look to the bible to see that it was women who stood when so many others fell away. It was Mary who boldly went to the tomb and discovered that Jesus had risen!!!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Switch topics (but will be back to discuss women/girls/culture/society) Taking another step foward

I felt it was a good time to give an update on my and Andrew's infertility journey. I must admit this has been the most painful, lonely, faithful, scary, empty, hopeful roller coaster ride I have been on to date. And trust me like all people I have had some major things happen in my life, but so far none have even compared to the emotions I have felt with infertility. I would not wish this on my worst enemy it is such a horrific experience, but as I said to Andrew if we had unlimited funds I would do it over and over and over again.

So we had a bit of insurance money left and we are going to try one more time. I tell myself everyday to take a deep breath and live life in this moment today celebrating the possibility that our Lord will one day grant the desires of our heart and let us be parents. Many of you have been so encouraging through this process as I am learning so many have been on their own infertility roller coaster. Some of you have chosen the IVF route while others have not and I appreciate all of the suggestions, encouragement, and prayers. Additionally, thank you for sharing your stories of adoption and the recommendations that you have shared. We may be asking one day for those recommendations and guidance into the world of adoption.

However, for right now I want to just share some items on my heart. I am angry with this situation. I don't understand why this is happening to me. I cry and ask God to give me a heart of faithfulness and celebration in the goodness He has already provided. I pray and celebrate in those items and then I ask God "Do You hear my prayers? Do You hold my tears? Lord give me strength to be full in Your plan for my life. Let me know that You always know and are directing our path and that path is always plan A even when I believe I may be at plan G. Your timing is perfect and Your reasons are perfect. Lord please give me fulfillment and comfort in knowing You are everything even in these most empty places of not being able to have children.

Lord I want to know what it feels like to be pregnant. I want so desperately to be excited at the first feelings of a baby moving inside of me. To see my body changing, to experience all of the emotions. To celebrate with my husband when he feels for the first time our baby moving. I want so badly to understand that deep connection that only mother and baby can have as the baby grows. I want to feel the stress of when the baby is about to come, the decorating of the nursery, the anticipation of a perfect little life. Lord I want to feel the pains of labor and see the fear on my husband's face as we rush down Lakeshore Drive to our hospital. I want to see him hold his baby for the first time and experience everything with him as he begins to understand his new role as a father. Lord I want to hear my baby cry for the first time, feel the baby's first breath, and count his/her toes. I want for Andrew and I to experience all of the restless nights and confusion in becoming new parents. I want us to experience finding our rhythm with our baby and seeing every mile stone in their development.

Dear Lord this is the desire of our hearts. I pray Lord that in Your perfect plan A for Andrew and I You have a beautiful baby in heaven waiting to grow and be granted in our care as this baby's parents. I pray Lord that You hear our cries and Lord You fill us with Your faithfulness to accept any outcome.

I will keep everyone posted as to where we are at in the process. As I stated before I will speak primarily in generalities as I will not announce the actual results if positive until after three months, but if negative again I will post what happened. I have been taking great notes so I can chronicle this entire experience. Andrew and I have been on this roller coaster for over one (1) year now and are approaching the year and half mark. Our prayers I know have been heard so please keep praying with us as we continue to pray and lean on our Lord for His fullness and love.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Part 4: Response to comments to Feminist with Traditional Values/Beliefs

Part 4:

First I need to indicate that this blog post is response four (4) of four (4) and is in reference to the comments made to the previous post, “Feminist with Traditional Values/Beliefs http://brendamarin.blogspot.com/2010/06/feminist-with-traditional-valuesbeliefs.html – Answer to blog post question.” If you haven’t already you may want to read the comments to the mentioned post so that this new post makes sense to you.

To Anonymous 4: I believe I addressed why I believe we are the first generation to really live with the benefits of the modern women’s movement in my above statements. Unfortunately, to this day CEOs are still dominated by males and in the professional world we as women still have to figure out how to break the glass ceiling. Although I believe it has moved and the glass is much thinner it’s unfortunately still there. However, the message in today’s media tells most women that by sleeping our way to the top is the most freeing/satisfying, powerful and fastest way to get the “job” done (no pun intended). Maybe we as older and wiser women understand the complications to using our sexuality to get us further in life, but young impressionable women do not understand the distinction and if in their books, their favorite T.V. shows, and in the movies this is the ultimate portrait of women again how do we as women find a more powerful message about celebrating why we are unique as female leaders with unique female management styles. Yes, we do need to teach our young girls about independence and finding their own passions and success because the divorce rate is so high and well let’s face it if the modern message to women is use your looks and body to get what you want unfortunately our looks do eventually fade and not all of us can afford Dr. 90210  (okay sorry for the sarcasm). As I mentioned before 49% of our population is men in this world and no matter how much we say that men will not have any say in our lives and the improvement of this world they will and we need to find a much better way to discuss the balance between men and women and what each can bring to the corporate table, the world table, the volunteer table, the non-profit table, the social-activities table, the Church table, etc.

For my lesbian sisters, we as women need to also figure out better how we celebrate each other and love one another in all of our uniqueness and the gifts each of us as women bring to one another. This world may seem in a big picture to be male/female because that is an easy categorization, but I do believe that as women we beat each other up over minute details and no matter our belief system or our choices in lovers we have a message to bring to this next generation and we cannot let a over sexualized male dominated media world define who we are as women.

To Rachel: Thank you for asking the question and allowing for this conversation to continue and be blogged about. I am glad I was able to clear up what I meant by traditional beliefs. It has taken me a long time and quite a bit of my own soul searching to be able to validate and celebrate with women who are significant in all of their roles no matter if that is “traditional” wife/mother, career woman, lesbian, “non-traditional” wife/mother, etc. I wish too that I could have been in the U.K. to experience the entire event and am glad that you were able to meet Andrew. I think he is a pretty great guy!  I agree with what you wrote with regards to understanding the relationship you are in and the different roles each of you play in order to make the relationship work. I love that you include your young daughter and with regards to Andrew and I we really do have a great partnership as well with very equal say and equal responsibility, we have just agreed that he can be in many parts of our relationship the deliverer of the message. I hope if Andrew is back in the U.K. that I will be able to go with him and we do get a chance to meet. I would also love to meet your whole family!

To Anonymous 5: I don’t even want to take the time to respond. Of course I know that there are many lesbian mothers and families. Andrew and I live in the LGBT neighborhood in Chicago. Again, I was attempting to reference the actual event I was speaking at and the audience which was receiving my message at the time. If you have daughters then I hope we can all as women figure out how to make sure they are beautiful, strong, women who love everything about themselves inside and out. Who understand that we are unique and it’s okay to celebrate in that uniqueness. That we as women can dream as big as we want and accomplish anything we want and it’s okay to celebrate also being a wife and mother. We are all significant in the roles we find ourselves and can change the world around us just by being women.

Part 3: Response to comments to Feminist with Traditional Values/Beliefs

Part 3:

First I need to indicate that this blog post is response three (3) of four (4) and is in reference to the comments made to the previous post, “Feminist with Traditional Values/Beliefs  http://brendamarin.blogspot.com/2010/06/feminist-with-traditional-valuesbeliefs.html – Answer to blog post question.” If you haven’t already you may want to read the comments to the mentioned post so that this new post makes sense to you.

First Anonymous comment: Although I do not understand fully what it means to be in a lesbian relationship I can appreciate your journey. I, however, cannot agree with you and your partners desire to only associate yourselves with female oriented teachings, writings, groups, activities, etc. Although I respect that this is your choice, as for many others in this world the other 49% of this population is male and whether we are lesbian or not we will have to live, work, and encounter our male family members, colleagues, bosses, friends, and even lovers. I do not believe that your message of separation and from what I deem hatred for the male race is a healthy or an appropriate message for young women. I do think however, that we can find a positive common message which does celebrate everything that there is about being a female and all of the powerful and yes world changing characteristics that we have and should present to young women whether straight or lesbian. Also to your P.S. I think it would be great to have a forum of discussion where we can find one common voice which balances all of our different perspectives…the ability to balance, appreciate, and take into account others feelings, thoughts, and ideas is one of the many awesome characteristics of women!!! 

To Anonymous 3 (or the comment after the P.S.): I wish that the definition of traditional hierarchy was not the norm and yes I do believe outside of the big picture Church it is as you say “no longer a valuable reference for grappling with the cultural challenges we must faces as individuals.” Unfortunately, though within broader Church culture (making a very generalized statement; I of course have not been in every church, denomination, gathering, etc.) this definition of patriarchal dominated culture is still very much alive and is hindering the growth and message presented to all women, but for me most importantly to young women. I applaud you for not only assessing your gifts for what you bring to only your spouse or children, as I feel the same I want to be measured by my Lord for the gifts that were given to me and that measurement to be based on what I do to change my world no matter how big or small. I however, believe we need to learn to celebrate with all women in all walks of life no matter the choice that they make. Yes, we have access to power, but what is power? What does power look like and how is it defined. Power to me as women is about how I significantly change the world around using all of the talents I have been blessed with and assisting in the transforming power of the Word of God to all of the world’s people. Yes, as women we should not only be defined but what male dominated society has said we are supposed to be. In fact, in my relationship Andrew is the more emotionally sensitive partner while I am the stronger more leader oriented partner. As I was trying to state before (although I don’t know if I made it very clear) it is not about a dominating hierarchal structure where male is on top and female is on bottom it is about a balance between where the two of you in your relationship find a way to communicate using the unique characteristics and gifts that were given to you as within both male and female or female to female. What I wanted to do was to share with how I learned to appreciate and celebrate the power of the women who loved every part of being in a “traditionally” deemed marriage. I want to show value to those women as much as I want to show value to my relationship with Andrew which is way different from the “traditional” roles. We, Andrew and I, are a balance to one another and I lift him up as a man of God just as he lifts me up as a woman of God both with our own individualistic characteristics which makes us unique as man and woman.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Part 2: Response to comments to Feminist with Traditional Values/Beliefs

Part 2:

First I need to indicate that this blog post is response two (2) of four (4) and is in reference to the comments made to the previous post, “Feminist with Traditional Values/Beliefs  http://brendamarin.blogspot.com/2010/06/feminist-with-traditional-valuesbeliefs.html – Answer to blog post question.” If you haven’t already you may want to read the comments to the mentioned post so that this new post makes sense to you.

The reason I believe I was feeling the Lord speak so strongly to me about looking at what is my female legacy was because of what I believe this younger generation believes makes women strong and powerful and those traits seem to be centered around their sexuality. The more media I paid attention to with regards to women and young women, the more modern books I skimmed through and the more young girls I listened to and observed my heart continued to break. The pendulum on feminism and femininity seems to be swinging in a really bad direction. The message that is plastered everywhere and even in our churches (which I will talk about a bit later) is that being sexual will bring you power and success. The female lead on television and in books are beautiful and use there “female ways” to get them through situations, but those “female ways” in the majority of circumstances are centered around how well she used her body or female assets. We went from a women’s movement fighting to being equal to our male counterparts with regards to our rights, our dress, our speech, our approaches, our pay, etc. what many would deem the quintessential feminist woman to what we are now seeing today in this next generation of women (and maybe even my generation) that are swinging so far away from the “feminist” woman to an over sexualized woman that needs sex to gain power, acceptance, love, and success. I for one do not want this to be the legacy that I leave to the young girls coming behind me and I do not want the “fourth wave” of the women’s movement to describe a women who used her body and the assets she either was naturally given or enhanced to be accepted, loved, powerful, and/or successful.

The Church, I explained in my talk/conversation, has done little to prepare young women for the “modern” world and the expectations and roles placed upon women. Additionally, the church seems to still blame females and their bodies or sexuality for the shortcomings of males, which was confirmed when I spoke with many women at the conference who worked with youth. This blame unfortunately leads to shame in who they are and the bodies they were given. No wonder they are quite confused when they enter the world which tells them their bodies are powerful if used for desire/sex and can get you love, power, acceptance, and success.

These young girls have read, as I did, about the women in the past that fought for our rights and they don’t feel the struggle. Sure you could say because the books were probably written primarily by men and maybe they had a male teacher but those are excuses and cop outs for what we as women are not doing to portray ourselves as different to this world and to this next generation. I agree with one of the comments made on the previous post that as Western women we need to be movers and leaders for all women on a global scale, but yet in that we cannot figure out what that message is to be.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Part 1: Response to comments to Feminist with Traditional Values/Beliefs

Part 1:

First I need to indicate that this blog post is response one (1) of four (4) posts and is in reference to the comments made to the previous post, “Feminist with Traditional Values/Beliefs  http://brendamarin.blogspot.com/2010/06/feminist-with-traditional-valuesbeliefs.html – Answer to blog post question.” If you haven’t already you may want to read the comments to the mentioned post so that this new post makes sense to you.

Secondly, I think it’s important to describe and reference the type of conference that I was speaking at, as many of the comments on the blog seemed to not take into account the audience this conversation/talk was delivered too. Additionally, many comments were from my lesbian sisters who pointed out a very different female view point and way of family living which I am very appreciative. I want to be encouraged that we as women can find a unified voice no matter the gender of our partner. The conference was a Christian Women’s conference. I was originally asked to speak on the topic of marrying into your husband’s ministry when you yourself have not necessarily heard God speak to you or call you into the same place. Although for Andrew and I this is a true statement, as the organizers of the conference chose something I should have been able to share on because this is my story and journey currently. Though as I prepared for the talk in my spirit I felt I was hearing the Lord say that yes this is a good topic, but I felt the Lord tell me to look into what my generation as women’s legacy is to the next generation. I am 30, well 30 for almost three months, and as I began to do my research I realized that I was one of the first generations to live in a post time period from what historians deem as the three waves of the modern women’s movement. Please do not think I am na├»ve enough to believe that we as women are not done fighting for equality in the work place, within pay scales, respect from male counterparts, etc. but with regards to how currently the modern women’s movement is described we are the first generation to live fully in the benefits that the women before me had fought so tirelessly as recorded in history beginning yes, some 150+ years ago. Additionally, I was realizing that the young women behind me would be even more a part of this post time period and what am I doing, what is my voice and message to them. My research found many messages to young women (many not very positive or progressive) but not one unifying women’s voice of what we as women represent our strength, our power, our uniqueness, our success, our leadership, etc. I wanted to find out what my generation of women will be remembered for within history based on what today’s young woman looked like, acted like, and are portrayed as. Potentially when they write the “fourth wave” of the modern women’s movement what is it going to say, for me and what I have experienced, read, lived, watched, encountered, talked about etc. I was not happy about what history may write about my women’s legacy.

This is what I felt the Lord was challenging me to talk about with the women at the conference, however, it was still appropriate that I also talk about the subject that I was asked originally to speak about so that is where the blending of marriage, motherhood, legacy, women’s voice, etc. grew from. The question from Andrew’s blog was centered around what I spoke about at that particular conference to that particular audience. I do not meant to offend anyone but my guess the majority of the women at this conference were probably in a heterosexual marriage and with children. I would assume that 99% attending were heterosexuals which also found themselves in a ministry position whether that was as a leader, pastor, staff member, and/or volunteer. What I wrote in the original blog post in response to the question raised on Andrew’s blog I did put in parenthesis, heterosexual relationship, because that was the audience I was speaking to. I also wanted to clarify that in reference to the question raised on Andrew’s blog with regards to why I used the words traditional values/beliefs. Although I am not a mother (the other portion of this blog chronicles my infertility journey), I am a wife in a heterosexual relationship and I was sharing my journey and response in validating the lives of women that I once judged because they were “traditional” in their roles as wives and mothers within their heterosexual relationship. This was a lesson I learned and shared with the other women at the conference that we as women cannot continue to divide, define, and categorize each other in order to figure out how we may be better than other women or that their life choices are not as powerful, successful, and/or important.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Feminist with Traditional Values/Beliefs - Answer to blog post question

Below was a question on Andrew's blog about the talk I gave at Urban Youth Workers' Institute http://www.loveisanorientation.com/2010/brendas-powerful-talk/ (you can see the entire blog post here with other comments)

I wanted to take a moment to write my response. There were no transcripts and it was not recorded so I have to go off of memory and my own thoughts. I understand also that Andrew's audience is a bit different then mine on this blog, but I think for women we need to love each other where ever we find ourselves.

Rachel June 10, 2010 at 2:46 am



I’d really love to know what Brenda’s referring to by ‘traditional beliefs’. Any place we can get the whole transcript?

Response:

When I say traditional beliefs I am validating the idea that if you find yourself as a wife/mother (specifically talking about a heterosexual relationship here, but I think it would work in all relationships) I am okay with being one with the concept that in a Christian home the man is the head of our household. Now let me clarify that in no way means we are subservient to our husbands rules and we have no say within the direction of our home, our values, our worth, our goals, and our desires as women. I understand from my experience in business and within the field I am that there has to be a structure to your organization and in some ways from a very organic/big picture perspective a family is like an organization there has to be a structure. I believe that until we as women understand and strip away the negative meanings behind what traditional values and beliefs mean we will never be able to embrace the concept that we are equal partners in the decisions we make within our relationships. Men require certain (lets say need) encouragement from women in order for them to be successful. Maybe it was one of God’s humorous attributes to make men insecure and in doing that God recognized in His divine wisdom that men needed a “help mate” an equal partner to be there along his side to make sure chaos does not occur. We are to be a balance to one another. We as women need to celebrate our uniqueness and the attributes we bring to a relationship in order to balance it.


My best friend taught me how to humbly appreciate the stay at home mommy who studied a traditional female field (education). I never personally looked down on her because I loved her and knew her worth as an amazing women who has touched and blessed many lives, but I will admit I would place her out of the category as an exception because she was my best friend and judge the rest of the women within this non-career, non-feminist, category as women who did not understand the struggle and fight we as strong, feminist, career oriented, highly educated women must do in order to pursue equality. But watching my best friend and her interactions and the lives she touches every day in her place of significance I realized that we as women simply beat each other up over definitions and meanings of what is traditional beliefs or traditional values.

I believe we look so negatively on these words because we have allowed a male dominated society and patriarchal "Church" culture define what these words are supposed to mean and we as women have turned them into negative messages which we thought were supposed to unify and inspire us to keep fighting for equality but reality we have played right into the hands of the male/patriarchal society and "Church"and allowed it to divide us as women. The unifying message that was supposed to make us angry and push us forward has actually played into our insecurities of judging one another and trying to place all women into categories of who is better than the other.

As single women, women within in relationships and partnerships we still must find our strength in understanding the uniqueness we posses as women. That we must encourage one another with one single unifying voice that we are talented, we are beautiful, we were all created in God’s perfect image to play a significant influential role in where we find ourselves. We need to encourage women in all walks of life and not find ways to divide and judge. We as women have allowed ourselves to become over sexualized in the name of a new found femininity, but our femininity should not be defined but what our bodies look like or what we can do sexually to our partners. We need to teach this next generation to embrace what makes us different from men, what makes us successful as women, and it’s okay to follow and have traditional beliefs or values of what a partnership is within scripture. We need to understand what our legacy will be to the next generation of young women. No you do not have to be married or follow what is deemed “appropriate” by church or society and you can still be used in great ways to where ever you feel God has called you.

All this to say that I am secure in who God made me, what He has called me to do and be, the talents He has blessed me with, the goals I have accomplished, the professional success I have had, the high education I have received that I am okay with saying I am a feminist with traditional values and beliefs. I embrace the concept that within a relationship there is a partnership where you have one general and one second in command (I don’t know the military term for the second in command). They have equally important positions vital to accomplishing the mission or task at hand in order to guarantee its success. They equally discuss the plan of action and challenge one another for the best outcome. The general may deliver the message but the two of them together lead there team. That team maybe your family, your mission, your office, your calling, your relationship, your partnership, etc.

I am strong, I am beautiful, I am talented, I have been on a long journey to be able to love all women in all different places which all have equal significance and influence. We need to love one another for what we were created to be and not believe those are hindering descriptions but rather uplifting celebrations of how to live this life in the most significant and Godly way.

So women I am curious what are your thoughts?

My Talk at the Women's Re: Conference with Urban Youth Workers Institute

My husband, Andrew Marin posted this (link)http://www.loveisanorientation.com/2010/brendas-powerful-talk/ on his blog about the talk I did in Miami. These were some of the tweats he sent out during the conversation. There was a question asked about what I meant about traditional beliefs/values and I will answer that question in the next blog post. However, I thought I would post this first. I hope you enjoy! It was a very exciting time for me and I was humbled that Urban Youth Workers Institute invited me to share. I must admit I was definitely bit with the speaking bug because I would love to do it some more!!! So if anyone out there needs a female speaker at their event I am your woman!!!

Brenda’s Powerful Talk



June 9, 2010 · 5 comments

Oh how I wish you all could have been in Miami on Friday when Brenda brought the house down. For those of you who aren’t on Twitter (I am @LovesMeSomeYou), here are some of the comments I tweeted from her talk about living distinctly within the realms of feminism, the church and culture:

“This (homosexuality/bridge building) might be Andrew’s calling, but it has become our ministry.”


“Women should never be a ‘yes’ person. We’re not just a help-mate, we’re more. We’re equal partners & have to start reclaiming that outlook.”


“All the women in the Bible used their knowledge, power and influence (whether big or small) to get their Kingdom jobs finished. That’s a model for me.”


“Feminist isn’t a bad word. But it’s become one in the Church so men could stay in power. I’m a feminist with traditional values and that scares people.”


“I’m in the first female generation that the feminist movement fought for, and we’re still empty and searching to find ourselves…”


“Thank you Lord for blessing woman with such uniqueness. Who cares if the church or culture gets it or not.”


“Christians call me an Alpha-Female. I prefer to say I’m a ‘hard-lined compassionate’. The incredible part about knowing yourself in Christ is that it makes you strong!”


“I told myself I wasn’t going to be defined by what was traditionally expected of me….”


“I was going to do and be whatever I wanted to be and accomplish all of my goals no matter the cultural or Church disgust. And I STILL love the Lord! Many feel that combination of things is impossible.”


“There’s a vision for the future to combine femininity and traditional beliefs. Until we woman believe that it’s never going to happen.”


Much love.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Closed Off

I must admit that as a female you would think that I would want to surround myself with other women as we technically were created to enjoy the companionship of others and collectively as women we feel stronger, loved, secure, when we are with one another. Sometimes I think I find myself in a world all my own. Which in a western, individualistic society probably doesn't sound so bad. Plus I do enjoy that I like to walk to the beat of my own drummer. However...

After spending time sharing and speaking with Andrew at a conference in Miami called Re: put on by the Urban Youth Workers Institute (which hopefully they will continue with this conference and I want to tell other women it is worth investing in to attend because we really need to learn to re:invest in ourselves more often - okay no more plugs) I realized that I really needed to not close myself off anymore. So many have called, written on my blog, facebooked, texted and emailed. Thank you, thank you, thank you -

I know that I am not alone in this journey and that there are many many other women who have come before me and unfortunately there will be women who will come after me. I don't know why I shut myself in and couldn't bring myself to be surrounded by the wonderful company that is a group of strong, beautiful women. The conference was a women's conference which for a long time I stayed far away from. I don't know why a room full of women makes me personally far more uncomfortable than a room full of men. Maybe its because we so quickly judge one another and small talk really is not a women's "thing" which means we probably subconsciously put up walls to new comers. I know I do, and I don't mean to do it. So anyway back to this conference...It was wonderful all walls were down. The veils which we tend to hide behind were lifted and we were a group of women striving to find peace, relaxation, renewal in being unique people created in God's perfect image. It was a time to regenerate the female soul to encourage women to continue down the path of leadership, empowerment, and beauty where ever they find themselves even when a glass ceiling seems so thick. God thankfully called us all to do His work and we are all perfect (well with a lot of imperfect qualities) servants of the Lord.

But for me the most important aspect was realizing the need for good girl friends in my life. I need to extend myself to places that make me uncomfortable because selfishly I need good girlfriends right now in my life and from that I will hopefully be able to also extend the gift of what it means to be a good girlfriend to other women.

So with this lesson I want to extend a big thank you to all of those who have reached out. I have read your comments and I have cried knowing how much people care. The emotions I guess at the time were to raw and I didn't know how to express the disappointment. But all of your words were so encouraging.

I will continue to blog about our progress with infertility, but I am also going to chronicle my time really diving head first in reconnecting with old girlfriends and making new ones. Pray with me for this new journey as well. For me its way out of my comfort zone, but thanks to a very unlikely place at a Christian Women's Conference I learned the importance of having a solid group of women around me to mentor me, to help me, to encourage me and for me to give back with the same amount of emotion, connection and desire to speak into their lives as well.