Monday, August 26, 2013
Monday, February 25, 2013
Friday, March 23, 2012
The last night of our Lenten women's speakers series at church was so powerful I don't know where to begin. It will take at least two blog posts to relay all that happened. Unfortunately, due to neck and shoulder issues, I need to limit my time at the computer, so will not be able to write either of those posts today.
Friday, March 16, 2012
Last night’s theme in the Women’s Lenten Speaker Series I'm attending was “The Voices of Our Past.” On the altar was an elegant display of framed photographs of the mothers and grandmothers of the women who are putting on what has become an annual program at our church. The speakers encouraged us to honor the voices of our past, the words and actions of strong and wise women both in our own families and experience, as well as public figures who have shaped our lives, for, as women, we collectively stand on the shoulders of all those who have come before us. Our presenters spoke of the faith of The Samaritan Woman, and Joan of Arc. Our special guest speaker was a woman who, because of traumatic events in her childhood, descended into promiscuity, drug and alcohol abuse, a series of abusive relationships, and crime. She gave birth to her third child while incarcerated, and while hemorrhaging in her cell, cried out to God…
And He answered. With the help of two special women in her life, she has now been clean for over four years, has reunited with her family, has put her life back together, and now works as a staff member in one of the halfway houses she lived in when she was released from prison. None of which she could have accomplished without her faith that God was (and is to this day) with her every step of the way.
Also during the program, we were invited to proceed down to the altar, where a basket full of cards, much like graduation announcements, waited. On the cover are the words, May your Voice shine bright like the prism of your heart. We were to select a card from the basket that would hold inside a name of significance in our lives.
As we processed, our guest speaker played a soothing, almost haunting melody on the organ, which we later learned she herself had composed. Music, we later discovered, was what had helped her to process all of the pain and trauma and negative emotions in her life, and brought her back to the joy of living. Apparently the two women from our church, both involved in prison ministry, had plopped a keyboard down in front of her and told her to give voice to the music inside her as part of her healing. And what beautiful music it was, reminiscent to me of the peace and joy and majesty of Pachelbel’s Canon, a timeless favorite of some of the happiest women in the world--brides.
So each of us chose a card from the basket, a card which contained a name inside especially meant for the woman who chose it as a message from God.
I watched the women’s faces as they left the altar, without exception opening the card and reading the name inside. Some smiled, some frowned, some looked confused, and others laughed, as the meaning hit home.
As for me, I waited until I had found my seat in the sacred space where we gathered in silence to hear our speakers before opening mine, feeling somewhat curious, somewhat apprehensive, and yes, somewhat skeptical.
But when I opened my card, I shook and nearly cried.
The name I had chosen was Hannah. I couldn’t believe it. My first thought was God was letting me know He knew me and heard my prayers. For Hannah was the name I had chosen over eighteen years ago for my child had he been born a girl. No one knew that but me.
Since we were also asked to reflect on the meaning of the name we selected, I did so, and the words that came to me were “The Hannah Project,” presented as a link in the sidebar of my PMDD site. That meant to me that I have yet to give birth to another creation, this one a feminine creation, of and pertaining to women, since the overall theme of this speaker series is Give Voice to Your Heart so that others may benefit from your wisdom and caring and be heard as well. Over the past two years, my PMDD site has done just that. I have spoken from the heart, have told my story, and in doing so have told the story of countless other women, many of whom, after reading my PMDD blog, for the first time in their lives feel understood. Through my writing, I am giving them a voice.
The significance of this name became even more apparent to me as we dimmed the lights, and one by one each woman read aloud the name on her card. I’d say 95% of the names were either historical figures, women in politics past and present, social justice advocates, and/or celebrities.
And mine was one of them. And mine was Hannah.
The only other name I would have interpreted to mean that God “knew” me, that God heard my voice, was Grace, as my beloved cat Grace recently passed away unexpectedly, having developed fluid in her lungs within the space of three days.
This morning I discovered that the name Hannah derives from the Hebrew word Grace.
If you think God doesn’t know you, doesn’t hear you, doesn’t love you…
Saturday, March 10, 2012
As you begin to pay attention to your own stories and what they say about you, you will enter into the exciting process of becoming, as you should be, the author of your own life, the creator of your own possibilities. ~Mandy Aftel, natural perfumer and author of three books on perfume
A human being is nothing but a story with skin around it. ~Fred Allen, comedian and radio personality
There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you. ~Dr. Maya Angelou, Global Renaissance Woman
Most people live and die with their music still unplayed. They never dare to try. ~Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics
The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another; and his humblest hour is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to make it. ~J.M. Barrie, author of Peter Pan
This week’s topic at “The Woman Within” Lenten speaker series at my church was The Voice of Your Story, or how important it is to give voice to our stories. To not let them die with us or within us. We heard the story of Anna in the bible and of Harriet Tubman of the Underground Railroad. We had a lovely 82-year-old speaker who told us stories about growing up with her grandmother, and how the self-reliance and wisdom her grandmother taught her was what sustained her through many a rough time in her life.
In short, she gave voice to her story.
During the program I realized I have already begun giving voice to my story, through my books, this blog, and my PMDD blog. Mostly through the PMDD blog. What the evening did was let me know I am on the right track, and inspire me to get moving again on my PMDD book, so that I can get it out there for others to read and try to understand the baffling phenomenon that is PMDD.
By telling my story, I will help others to understand theirs.
To that end, I’ve spent a good part of the week researching all sorts of aspects of PMDD, so that my information can be as up to date as possible.
Other than that, things are rolling along as well as can be expected for a woman with too many things to do and not enough time to fit them all in :). But our Lenten women’s speaker series is something I do for me, March once again having been declared “Me” month, where I only do things that nourish me mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Because of that, I know that by Easter and the Resurrection I will have a renewed focus on my life and projects and goals for the year, and will be ready to move in whatever direction God moves me to go in.