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I got on the phone with a number of like-minded women, who are also moms and floated the idea of a “retreat for the whole woman.”

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When we read an obituary in the newspaper, we see the visible side of a person’s life — his or her church or organization memberships and accomplishments in life. What we don’t read, however, is how the person touched others in some special way. I’d like to share how Mom spiritually touched the lives of my sister Wendy and me.

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When the news of my mom’s death spread throughout my congregation and the naval base in Port Hueneme, Calif., I began to learn about the kindred spirit that exists among women who have lost their mothers. These women cried with me and told me, “There is something deep that happens in our souls when a woman loses her mother.” All of these women talked of mothers who loved them and modeled that every woman can be all that God wants her to be.

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As women we should be encouraged. We may be soft on the outside, but we’re strong and mighty in spirit. We are God’s secret weapons and the enemy knows it. He takes us seriously, even when others don’t. The enemy’s strategy has been to keep us quiet and in hiding. But God is doing an end run. He is going to release so many of us at once that the enemy is not going to know what hit him!

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I was raised in a very traditional, Southern Baptist environment, but my parents, even though they were not taught egalitarian principles, sort of figured out that that was the way it had to be. 

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A father suddenly catches a glimpse of his daughter’s ministry gifts, gifts he was told women didn’t have. A mother, in tears, describes her vision of a different future for her daughters, one without restrictions and roles. And a parent grieves over the way young women are treated as less valuable, intelligent or competent than young men.

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Christy believes many women struggle with their body because they aren’t encouraged to pursue what they love and instead are confined to certain roles. Within this framework, a woman’s body is often the only tool she has to gain influence or control.

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I’ve been drawn to a powerful but obscure story nestled in the Hebrew Bible. I’ve come to see the story as a metaphor for the struggle we all face in seeking to incarnate God’s way of justice and peace in our unique situations. In 2 Kings 4:8–37, we find the tale of an unnamed woman identified only as “the Shunammite” who makes in her home a room for the prophet Elisha.

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Quick Bible quiz: Name one African person in the Bible. Did you mention Hagar, Simon of Cyrene or Apollos of Alexandria? What about the Ethiopian eunuch, or Queen Candace? If none of these characters came to mind, perhaps it’s due to a lack of understanding of the cultural and ethnic forces at work in the Bible. Understanding these forces can bring new light to familiar passages.

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To be white and middle class in America is to be a participant in a privileged power structure. Often unknowingly, we lay poverty and discrimination at the door of communities of color. The challenge to white middle-class people who follow Jesus is to begin to notice the cries of pain from these communities.

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