31 Days for the Ladies: Closing

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Gentle Reader,

The 31 Days Challenge never fails to live up to its name. I wanted to give up somewhere around day 18.

This requires a lot of us writers. If only it were as easy as a good idea and a steady stream of words. It’s work. It’s discipline. It’s hours spent behind the scenes crafting images, settling on the best categories and tags, deciding how to publicize, staring at a blank screen and mocking cursor and remembering to publish anything written in advance. And, of course, battling with computer issues that always seem to arise at the worst possible moment. Creative ADHD sets in. You want to do something else. You get distracted. #squirrel.

After participating in and completing the last three 31 Days gauntlets, OCD wouldn’t let me quit – and I’m glad. Writing this series, even in the hard moments, has been a delight. I find myself thankful to be a woman and thankful for the fantastic women I know. We are a diverse, colorful lot. We have strong opinions and even stronger personalities. We bounce off of each other and sometimes hurt each other with our sharp edges. Words are exchanged. Hot tears flow. Forgiveness is extended and it all begins anew.

Women are amazing creatures.

Most importantly, I am thankful to God. Over and over again He reminded me that He did not put women on this earth to take a backseat or sit on the sidelines. He did not make us to live as delicate hothouse flowers that need coddling every step of the way. His Spirit dwells inside every woman who has bent her knee to Christ – and that Spirit raised a man from the dead. That’s some mighty awesome power we ladies are plugged into.

Women are warriors. We do battle. Sometimes against a world that wants to swallow us whole. Sometimes against ourselves, against our selfish desires. Always against the very real enemy of our souls. We bruise and we bleed but we get up again. That is our calling. We get up and we move forward, empowered and strengthened by the God who so carefully crafted us.

The heart of our Father is to give us good gifts. He sees each tear we cry. He holds us close. He knows when we can go on no longer and pours just a little more strength into our bones. He laughs when we play. He smiles when we thrill to the colors of a sunset. He knows our hopes, our dreams, our passions. In everything we face, He rests His hand upon our heads and declares, “She is mine.”

He is for us, ladies.

For 31 days and beyond.

My journey to faith. (15)

For all entries in the 31 Days for the Ladies series, go here.

31 Days for the Ladies: Mold-Breakers

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Gentle Reader,

Every woman who ever drew a line in the sand and said, “Enough.”

Every woman who lobbied for decades to achieve the right to vote.

Every woman who believes she deserves to be paid the same wage a man receives for the job.

The first college student. Doctor. Pastor. Lawyer. Representative. The ones who paved the way. The ones who battled real injustice. The ones who continue to do so. Voices raw and bodies weary, their hearts burning with longing.

Every woman who wants more for her daughter.

Every woman who never listened to the “can’t.”

Every woman who steps into a new role.

The famous names like Marie Curie and Elizabeth Blackwell and Amelia Earhart and Florence Nightingale and Ann Judson and Jeannette Rankin and Susan B. Anthony and Fanny Crosby and Alice Paul and Amy Carmichael and Annie Oakley. The unknown scores around them, faces blurred in old tintype. Your great-grandmother, who rode the trolley to her office job. Your mom who stayed home and took care of you. The pioneer lady in the history book who walked across an entire continent in the hope of a better life. The immigrant bent over her work inside a dimly-lit factory.

And you, dear reader. Every time you dare to dream. Dare to hope. When you sign up for that class. When you take on that project. When you will not let what has gone before determine what lies ahead. When you choose to be the person God created you to be instead of striving to meet the expectations of others. When the man-made boundaries chafe your skin and you stretch and pull until the thing just breaks and you are free, gloriously free, to travel the road and exercise the gifts laid out for you before the world began.

Mold-breakers, I salute thee.

My journey to faith. (15)

For all entries in the 31 Days for the Ladies series, go here.

31 Days for the Ladies: Priscilla Shirer

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Gentle Reader,

She defines herself first and foremost as a wife and mother. Her family is ministry ground zero. But there is no denying the calling of the Lord on her life. She writes and speaks with intensity, desiring that all hear the Gospel message of redemption.

Priscilla Shirer entered the world as Priscilla Evans, the daughter of Dr. Tony Evans, pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Texas. Dr. Evans has had a wide-ranging ministry career, from preaching to teaching at Dallas Theological Seminary to serving as chaplain for both the Dallas Cowboys (a position his son Jonathan now fills) and the Dallas Mavericks. It seems almost inevitable that Priscilla would have gone into ministry herself.

Despite such a family background, Priscilla shares in her speaking and writing that her path wasn’t inevitable at all. Nobody rides into Heaven on the coattails of another. She had to make the same faith choices that everyone else makes. She had to drop to her knees before God and repent. She had to ask Him to save her. Every day she is faced with temptations and trials. Priscilla makes it clear that she is no better, no different, than any other Christian woman.

She did follow her father’s footsteps to Dallas Theological Seminary, where she obtained a Master’s degree in biblical studies. She did not immediately launch into a teaching career, however. Her path was unfocused for awhile; she once hosted a local television show affiliated with CBS and for a season was member of the Zig Ziglar speaking team. During this time she married Jerry and began her family.

Eventually, the Shirer’s launched Going Beyond Ministries together. Priscilla knew her calling was to teach the Scriptures. Her “Bible nerd” brain shines through in each of her in-depth Bible studies and books. She does not treat her readers as if they are stupid. She invites each study participant to dig into the meat of the Word.

With her brother, recording artist Anthony Evans, Jr., Priscilla leads the Awaken conference in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. The conference encourages women pray for and work in ways that positively impact the city. Currently they are affiliated with Minnie’s Food Pantry, a non-profit that provides meals for the homeless and the struggling. Priscilla thus leads in setting the example that faith must lead to doing good and caring for others.

Recently, Priscilla starred in the movie War Room as Elizabeth Jordan, a woman who sees her picture perfect life begin to fall apart. In her work as a realtor, she comes across the elderly Miss Clara, who impresses upon her the importance of prayer. Though the movie was panned by critics, it was the summer’s sleeper hit and an unexpected box office success. The book Fervent and a Bible study about the armor of God arose out of her experience portraying Elizabeth.

Priscilla has taught alongside Beth Moore and Kay Arthur. She considers Anne Graham Lotz to be her mentor. Though relatively new to the preaching and teaching scene compared to those women, there is no doubt that Priscilla will have a lasting impact for the kingdom of God. Her warmth, passion, honesty and intelligence throw wide open the doors of Scripture and invite anyone who is willing to come and learn.

My journey to faith. (15)

For all entries in the 31 Days for the Ladies series, go here.