The Best a Woman Can Be

Friday, April 23, 2010

Some months ago, I read a book titled Lost Women of the Bible by Carolyn Custis James. The part of the book that first caught my eye was this:

God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper [ezer] suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18). The meaning of ezer, however, was diminished when translators rendered it “helpmeet” and restricted it to marriage. A woman’s mission centered on home and family — vital spheres of ministry to be sure, but only a slice of the vast mission God originally cast by calling women to rule and subdue the earth.
Thinking regarding the ezer began to change when scholars pointed out that the word ezer is used most often (sixteen of twenty-one occurrences) in the Old Testament to refer to God5 as Israel’s helper in times of trouble. That’s when ezer was upgraded to “strong helper,” leaving Christians debating among themselves over the meaning of “strong”...

You can read an excerpt here.

That paragraph alone set off little explosions of joy in me. It confirmed what I had so often seen in women: for all their liberation, they don't know their own strength. They don't know what makes them beautiful. They haven't yet found the best they can be.

Then, recently, I saw an amazing film titled Pray the Devil Back to Hell, about the women of Liberia who led their country out of a civil war by force of their very nature. They didn't play by the rules already in place in their country, because those rules had gotten them where they were. These women were ezers. They did things their own way. You must watch this. It is beautiful. Here's the preview:

This is Embarrassing...

Friday, April 16, 2010

It seems for over a year I've been ever mindful... someplace else. Certainly on my other blog, Novel Matters. At my desk - learning new ways of winning bread. Fighting with one novel idea till I had to admit defeat - for now - and starting another one in its place. Marrying off a son and gaining a beautiful daughter in law. Welcoming a new grandchild by my step-son and his beautiful wife. Just not blogging here.

I've thought from time to time of pulling Ever Mindful off the web so it wouldn't remain a "to do" that I didn't.

But that's not what I want. I think of the purpose I set for this blog, to be a place to share thoughts about how one lives well in times of stress, and I realize I still have lots of thoughts about that, lots of books I'm reading, films I'm seeing, people I'm talking to, and lots of questions to ask you.

So I'm back. Blowing the dust off my "Keep Calm" poster, sharpening the pencils. If you've never been here before, I hope you'll look around. It's going to remain a pretty casual place. I won't promise a set schedule, and I might not edit over much. But I do intend to post here more often.

Like next week. Because I read something surprising recently about what the Book of Genesis really has to say about women. And last night I saw a film that shows women being exactly the sorts of... women, strong, beautiful, powerful women the book describes. The whole thing impresses me out of my socks.

But that deserves a post all its own that doesn't begin with me blowing dust.

So I'll see you soon.

Strength is Hidden in Weakness

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Ah, Ever Mindful folks, this week I have neglected you. I'm getting ready to go to The Mount Hermon Writers' Conference, where I will be surrounded by dear friends. If you are among them, please say hello. You will make me happy.

When I get back, I will have an insightful, practical article for you by my Novel Matters co-host, Latayne Scott, about how to avoid identity theft.

But this week she and I (and all the other Novel Matters ladies) will be gone, Twittering occasionally, but generally unavailable to answer comments.

So I leave you with this little quote to remind that your true identity is made perfect in weakness. I find that comforting, and hope you do, too:

"Some of us tend to do away with things that are slightly damaged. Instead of repairing them we say: "Well, I don't have time to fix it, I might as well throw it in the garbage can and buy a new one." Often we also treat people this way. We say: "Well, he has a problem with drinking; well, she is quite depressed; well, they have mismanaged their business...we'd better not take the risk of working with them." When we dismiss people out of hand because of their apparent woundedness, we stunt their lives by ignoring their gifts, which are often buried in their wounds.

"We all are bruised reeds, whether our bruises are visible or not. The compassionate life is the life in which we believe that strength is hidden in weakness and that true community is a fellowship of the weak." ~ Henri Nouwen

Rejoice Anyway

Friday, March 20, 2009

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."

I've heard that quote attributed to Plato, to Marion Parker, and to Pliny the somebody. I wonder if anyone really knows who said it.

But I'll bet they all thought it. Daily I become more convinced that everyone fights for their lives, one way or another, every day. It's why Jesus had a soft spot for sinners and failures, why he preferred them to the arrogant and self-righteous. The failures had at least some grasp on reality.

It's why he commanded us to love, why he told Paul, "My strength is made perfect in weakness."

Oh how far our faith is called to stretch. Who would have thought we'd be asked to accept ourselves, to hope despite our defects? To rejoice anyway.

Where I live, the sun is shining. If you're just a little brave, you can go outside without your coat.

Today I wish for you a tiny, if subtle bit of springtime. Enjoy the film.

Mortgage: $0; Utilities: $5

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Oh - and 100 or so square feet of living space.

Could you do it?

Lets consider this an exercise in values clarification. What if, like the main character in my novel, The Feast of Saint Bertie, you decided to live small?

Imagine the decision is made. Your house is sold or your landlord notified. Your tiny house is built. It's time to move.

It's a cute little place. You can't tell by the picture, but it has wheels and a trailer hitch. You can set up housekeeping anywhere you want. (Hmmm... where would you put yours?)

Just two things left on your to do list:

1. Pack
2. Hold a yard sale

With so little space, packing should be easy, right? Bertie took a sleeping bag, a Bible plus a few other books, some basic items of clothing, a cup, a bowl, a plate, a knife, a fork, a spoon, a can opener, and some canned goods.

But your house will be nicer than Bertie's old gardener's shed. You'll have amenities like furniture, a kitchen and a bathroom.

You will, however, have to ask yourself what really matters to you. You're moving into a non-conformist living space, so I really mean, what matters to you? You don't have room to own things only because they are expected.

This actually wasn't so hard for me, at least not up to a point. I am a writer, and a reader. To be happy, I need:

My laptop. I know, you can write with pencil and paper, but... sigh! No. A laptop.

A comfortable chair.

A coffee maker and a mug.

My cat.

Books. This presents a problem, because I have too many books to fit in a tiny home. But perhaps I could get around this by donating most of them to the library. I could still check them out, right? I just hope my late fees wouldn't end up equaling the cost of a mortgage...

A uniform. With perhaps two feet of closet space, I'd have to decide what I'd be comfortable wearing, if I had to wear pretty much the same thing all the time. Jeans come to mind. A black pair and a blue pair (for variety). Two cotton shirts. A sweater. A pair of sneakers and a pair of sandals. A dress for church.

My friends and family. This presents another problem, because, for instance, twice a month I host a Ladies' Tea and Bible Study in my home. But if I didn't have a mortgage I could probably afford some creative solutions. Ms. Lynn's Tea is just down the road, and Ms. Lynn is a better cook than I am.

My husband. This is why I said "up to a point." Because he restores vintage race cars and builds flying model airplanes. So what does he need to be happy? A garage. A big garage. What a surprise to realize he needs more space than I do.

I do plan to keep my husband.

What would you keep? What do you need to be happy? What could you do without? What would be your uniform? Oh, and where would you put your house?

Photo by Jack Journey. Copyright Tumbleweed Tiny House Company 2008.

Your Pilgrim Souls

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

When You are Old
by William Butler Yeats

WHEN you are old and gray and full of sleep
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true;
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face.

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead,
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

Happy Saint Patricks Day, my friends. I love your pilgrim souls.

Tea With Me, And Other Updates

Monday, March 16, 2009

A few updates on my authorish doings:

If you live anywhere near Siskiyou County, California, I hope you'll join me for tea at Ms. Lynn's Tea on Friday, April 17, at 1:00. Ms. Lynn's was kind enough to host me for their Tea With The Author event after the publication of To Dance in the Desert. We all had a wonderful time, in the graciously appointed tea room. Now they're hosting me again, to celebrate the publication of The Feast of Saint Bertie. The cost will be $10. You can contact Ms. Lynn's Tea at:

Telephone: (530) 459-3439
Postal address: P.O. Box 567, Montague, CA 96064
Street address: 120 N. Eleventh Street, Montague, CA 96064
Electronic mail:

This month I was honored to be interviewed by Angela Wilson of Pop Syndicate. You can read the resulting article here.

I hope you've become a regular at Novel Matters, my group blog about the reading and writing of sumptuous fiction. Why?
  1. The ladies I have teamed up with are brilliant: funny, interesting, smart, and full of great information for both readers and writers.
  2. We have initiated a tradition of monthly promotions for wonderful prizes. This month, you get a chance at a whole library of Patti Hill novels. All you have to do is comment on one of our posts. We love comments, and you will love the conversations that take place at Novel Matters.
  3. Next month we plan to announce a huge contest with an amazing prize, of special interest to writers.

If you'd like to be updated on these sorts of things via email, I hope you'll sign up for my newsletter.