30 April 2006

And again, growth...

Today was a very long day, but it was worthwhile - at least in God's greater plan.

It was fun in places, irritating in others, and simply painful for large chunks of time (like the last four and a half hours), but God is still God at its end and He is still good.

I'm having difficulty deciphering my mental state right now, to be honest... so much has happened that I do not know where to begin.

And I won't tonight anyway because I am desperately in need of sleep.

In the end, peace oftens comes hand-in-hand with exhaustion. Amazing how God breaks us down to reveal to us our deepest needs.

Praise be to the Lord who reigns on high and sifts through my babbling and incoherent nature, understands me and loves me in spite of myself - all because He sees Christ's blood covering me rather than my own nature.

One issue down, one more to go... but that will work itself out, as well. I'm in good hands.

Mood: Beaten and exhausted, but peaceful Listening to: House sounds
Reading: Old letters

21 April 2006

An Apology

Some of you might have seen my opinion piece that has been posted here this past week, entitled, “Opting Out,” regarding my perspective on a topic I researched for an online package I put together for one of my classes.

In the context of that package, my opinion makes more sense; without it, my opinion comes across as unnecessarily harsh.

I wrote the package for one class and the column for another, linking them together when I could not put the column on my Web site along with my articles, but wanting readers who desired to know my own opinion on the matter to be able to read it.

My object was not to offend, but I fear that my article has done so, especially when it was originally without a disclaimer and especially because it was purposefully harsh and critical of the way our society functions in regards to feminism and roles.

I chose the one end of the spectrum and focused upon it, limiting the other points of view – such as permitted in a column. By my own definition, this is propaganda. Without a disclaimer, I violated my own ethical standards in posting it.

There is a middle territory on this issue, which I did not cover at all because I was going for the extremes to make a point. We have the right to choose what we want to do with our lives whether it is working or mothering or both or neither.

Also misleading is my focus upon secular research and sources in my piece. Again, it was for a class, so I limited it to those sources. There is more to my reasoning that is the basis for what I believe, as I would like to explain below.

I would like to start out with the fact that my mother works and works very hard. She has chosen that and I greatly respect her for it – it is an example that I can do anything I set my mind to and that God blesses her in that.

Personally, I enjoy working – I enjoy the challenge of finishing some arduous task and being able to go home at the end of the day feeling as though I accomplished something that I set out to do. I’m a very task-oriented person who likes to keep busy and the workplace is an environment that I enjoy.

When I talk of desiring to be a stay-at-home mother, it is not because I think women who choose to have a career or children and a career are doing anything wrong. I’m saying that I desire to focus upon that – that is where my passion lies. I want to focus on providing for my family in ways that don’t necessarily bring in money.

“She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls. She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.” [[Proverbs 31:15]]

It’s a different kind of work – and it is also a kind of work that I love doing.

My issue is not with women who work outside of the home; my issue is with the women in our culture who look down on those that choose to do so voluntarily – women who feel that they cannot be sufficiently challenged unless they are in a workplace doing the same work as men.

God created us differently – “Male and female He created them”!

I have a hard time understanding why some women do not appreciate that fact! We are created beautifully, in God’s image – why should we feel that we are of less worth simply because we are women rather than men?

In all of my writings, I like asking questions because it makes me think about the implications of our world existing as such. I don’t know the answers to the questions I ask, though it might be suggested that I do through my wording – I am working through the answers just the same as anyone else.

What matters most to me is that I fear the Lord in everything that I do.

“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” [[Proverbs 31:30]]

And, in the end, what others may think of this issue is not what matters most to me – and I fear that it is in this that I have wronged you as readers.

“Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.” [[2 Timothy 2:23]]

What I wrote was not Biblically based and was bound to lead to a “foolish and stupid” argument, no matter what my intention. I failed to recognize that and for that I apologize and ask your forgiveness. What profit was there in that piece being posted? None.

It has done nothing to edify my brothers and sisters or to demonstrate the love of Christ toward those who are not of His household.

As for now, the column is part of a project that is being graded and will remain up for that purpose, with a disclaimer attached. After there is no longer an academic need for its placement, it will be removed from this site and not reposted.

Thank you for your patience with a woman who is still being perfected.

In Christ,

The Seventh Year: Freedom

“At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release of debts. And this is the form of the release: Every creditor who has lent anything to his neighbor shall release it; he shall not require it of his neighbor or his brother, because it is called the Lord’s release.

If your brother, a Hebrew man, or a Hebrew woman, is sold to you and serves you six years, then in the seventh year you shall let him go free from you.

And if it happens that he says to you, ‘I will not go away from you,’ because he loves you and your house, since he prospers with you, then you shall take an awl and thrust it through his ear to the door, and he shall be your servant forever. Also to your female servant you shall do likewise.”

[[Deuteronomy 15:1-2, 12, 16-17]]

In the Hebrew tradition, men were cleared of their debts and slaves from their bondage every seventh year. If the slaves desired to remain in their master’s homes, they became bondservants for the length of their lives – however long that might be.

I feel as though this past year, this sixth year has been a preparation for freedom.

On April 21, 1999, I surrendered my life to the lordship of Jesus Christ, taking what I had long accepted as truth taught by my parents and applying it to my life as my own faith.

And the past six years, I feel as though I have been struggling to repay a debt by serving my God – a debt I know I can never repay and, so, I work all the more for my Master’s glory rather than my own freedom.

But I have been set free, as the slaves in Israel were in the seventh year, and now I have made my choice to stay behind and to continue in serving my Master and His household because I have grown to love them, even as a slave.

What blessedness to see the last of the chains of a debt I could not settle being stripped of me in the past six years!

Depression, unhealthy relationships, self-reliance, a misguided heart, a lack of understanding about the type of man my Master is (His sovereignty, especially), rebellion and old wounds have all fallen away – there is nothing left but freedom and love for the Master who taught me that life could be lived abundantly in serving someone greater than myself.

And I return to this Master, who allows me to keep what I have gained in His household only if I remain within it – outside of it, there is no peace, no joy, no truth and no semblance of that real love, agape, which never drops off.

The awl has gone through my ear and I am my Master’s servant forever.

I could never pay my debt, but it matters not, for it is canceled – I have learned that the reason I work is because my Master loves me, not because I desire to earn His love.

How beautiful the grace of God that brings salvation to all men!

I, Alyssa Kate, am a bondservant of Christ until the end of my days. I have tasted and seen the grace of God Almighty – I have been shown mercy and have been released from my debts and my chains. Praise the Lord!

18 April 2006

He is risen, indeed!

There is cleansing by truth as I enter,
as my hands are dipped in the laver and I enter in.

I can still feel the water's moisture
as I present my own lamb to offer to the Priest in my name.

But the cup of Redemption brings forth my salvation
as I partake in the Covenant of His blood
And the body was broken as all that was spoken was done.

His body scourged and torn,
I take His clothing as my own and mock Him.

But as He breathes His last breath,
the thick curtain is rent between Him and me.

This is my journey of worship,
past the tomb that was hewn for men,
past the angel seated on the stone,
declaring my LORD lives again.

This is my journey of worship,
past the first fruits of a harvest for all,
past the Spirit poured out on flesh,
where tongues of fire to every man call.

This is my journey of worship,
to the tree that grew of small seed -
what was once smallest is now tallest,
where men are grafted in in belief.

Out of darkness and into light,
from the light to all who need.
This is my journey of worship -
that all might know and believe.

©2006 AKG

Opting Out

by A. Kate Grinstead

Disclaimer: This is my opinion. It is not intended to offend anybody - it is simply intended to make people think about how female roles are constructed in our society and to open further dialog. Sometimes, we have to go to the other extreme to be able to understand one another.

I consider myself to be an educated individual.

Granted, I am a woman, but where my education is supposed to allow me more choices in life, apparently one option is strictly forbidden.

Society will not let me become a stay-at-home mother.

But when I, as an educated woman, decide that I want to take my college degree, work a few years and then focus solely upon my children, isn’t that choice mine to make?

Some women don’t think so.

In a study conducted last year by the New York Times, researchers found that young women at elite universities like Harvard, Yale and Princeton wanted to get their undergraduate and even post-graduate degrees and then be stay-at-home mothers by the time they turned 30.

And the study pointed out that the trend is increasing.

The article that appeared in September generated a lot of buzz, leading to angry opinion pieces by self-labeled “Third Wave” feminists and new fodder for the Women’s Studies capstone here at Colorado State University.

Let me tell you, it makes me want to tell everyone I meet that I want to be a stay-at-home mom.

I began looking into this topic for a story I was writing for one of my journalism classes, knowing that there had to be more family-minded women than just me.

But there’s so much more to it than that – it’s an issue of who screams the loudest.

In today’s media, those that make noise make the news.

You don’t hear about the cat that played well in its house all day or the kids who made it across the street without being hit by a car or the woman who loves caring for her family and did so voluntarily and gratefully all day long.

You hear about the cat that gets stuck in the tree, the kids who get hit by a car and the woman who went to work and was arrested because she demanded a raise.

But there exist millions of women who just want to stay home, who want to devote their lives to cooking and cleaning and taking care of their husband and children, who don’t have a voice in the mainstream and who feel attacked when another woman says she is wasting her education by resorting to traditional gender roles.

What is honestly so wrong with traditional gender roles?

Women supposedly want equality when they physically differ from men, but why don’t they just embrace the fact that they are different and celebrate their female-ness instead of seeking to be “more like the men”?

Women supposedly want more challenging jobs, but why is it that one of the most challenging jobs involves 24-hour days of sacrificing for those you love and doesn’t pay a cent? Do they want freedom from the family or freedom from the work involved?

Are women really after equality when they attempt to remove their femininity from the radar – one of the few things that truly distinguish them from men? And are they really after more challenging jobs or are they simply after monetary reimbursement?

The Feminist Movement championed the woman’s ability to be educated enough to decide for herself which course to take and, yet, when the educated women decide that they would rather take the options the women of the movement ran from, they are viewed as having turned their backs against women seeking empowerment.

But again, what truly is this empowerment that we seek? Is it better pay or the ability to sleep around without consequences?

Is it the freedom be lazy?

In “Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture,” Ariel Levy suggests that what we see as empowerment today are the very thing that the Feminist Movement sought to free this generation of women from.

Our empowerment has come through sexual means, she says.

But it’s in the form of objectifying the female body through the ready acceptability of pornography and previously taboo things such as strippers and pole dancing.

So, is that really empowerment?

If we take our educations and objectify ourselves further, what have we gained as women – heck, what have we gained as a society?

Women who educate themselves should be free to make their own choices, without receiving flak if those choices are traditional.

One of the women I interviewed for my story wants to be a stay-at-home mom. She put it like this:

“If you have a dream, you do it. This is mine.”

Well, this is my dream, too. Shocking, huh?

I am a well-educated, intelligent young woman who could easily see and find herself climbing the career ladder to success and power and everything my daddy ever promised me I could have if I worked for it.

And I want to opt out.

06 April 2006

Remembering what this feels like...

I'm finally done for the week and it's the first time in four days where I have had nothing to do that should be occupying every moment of my waking life.

Explanation? Four days, three papers, two articles, an exam, a quiz and a new story idea later and I am still alive.

Granted, as soon as I leave here, I will probably crash into sleepy oblivion (studying prevents that sometimes), but at least I can finally breathe.

I've been remembering things that I should have remembered last week at random times. At 2:30 this morning, I realized that I was supposed to hang out with my friend Stephanie last Friday, but I spaced it entirely. The crazy life, for sure.

Since I came back from Spring Break and have been living in the Fort again, things have just gone from readjustment to upside-down. What I thought I wanted to do with the next few months and the upcoming fall semester has been turned on its head.

I'm living in the dorms again, which I still don't know what I think about. I really like Liz, who I'll be living with, but I'm not sure I want to deal with the politics of residence life again. It's been a hard year in that regard.

Regarding school, however, I'm ready to quit. You see, they trap you by getting you so far into your semester and your education that it would be incredibly foolish to just quit and then they make everything harder. There's just too much to do and I want out!

But for the most part, life is good. I'm so blessed by the people that are around me and I have been learning so much (I've gotten back into memorizing verses and am reviewing some old Bible studies). It's great to be here again instead of always in transition. I'm more balanced emotionally that way, even though it's hard to tell with my workload as of late.

Working for four days non-stop can really get to you. Yuck.

That's all for now. I'm going to work on this lovely sudoku puzzle in front of me (the only redeeming quality about the Collegian, I'm sure).

Mood: Accomplished Reading: A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God
Listening to: Shawn McDonald, Ripen