Is Self-Care on Your Schedule in 2014?

By Rev. Sandra Hasenauer

self-careGolden Retrievers have got it goin’ on.

Food, friends, and fun. They don’t need much else from life, really. Just food, friends, and fun. The order of those priorities can change from moment to moment, of course, but they like to keep things simple. It’s all good if you’ve got a tennis ball, someone to throw it for you, and a treat waiting for you when you go back inside.

I like to try to learn from the Golden that lives with me in my house. For me to stay balanced, those three “fs” could certainly go a long way. Of course, I’d also add another “f” to that list: “faith.” I can deal with a lot in life if I just keep myself focused on faith, friends, fun, and that occasional meal to keep me going.

For women of faith, the phrase “self-care” can often feel too self-ish. Aren’t we supposed to pour ourselves out for others? Aren’t we supposed to sacrifice, put everyone else before ourselves, and work tirelessly for God’s will here on earth?

Well, yes and no. We are supposed to work for God’s will, we are supposed to have compassion for others and work towards the betterment of all, and sacrifice does come into it. But there comes a point at which, if we don’t care for ourselves, we no longer have anything left to give. We can become physically unhealthy, thereby limiting our ability to be out and about in the world. We can become emotionally strained, our interactions with others cased in feelings of resentment or irritability. We can become spiritually dry, no longer experiencing that deep and personal indwelling with God that gives us our purpose in the first place.

In the last couple of years, I’ve been working hard on changing how I look at my calendar. Rather than looking at the calendar as a series of empty time slots waiting to be filled, I’ve been training myself to look at it as chunks of energy. For years, I had been in the habit of responding to every request or opportunity that came along by thinking, “I don’t have too much going on that week…I guess I should say yes,” or “Sure, that won’t take too long. I can fit it in.” You can predict the end of that story. In fact, I’m positive you’ve lived that story yourself–and are, perhaps, even living it now.

The change came when I realized I was tired of being tired. I was tired of feeling unhealthy and, frankly, cranky. It took me awhile, but I figured out that time wasn’t the issue. Let’s face it: Some things take more out of us than others. Just because something may not take too much time, doesn’t mean it doesn’t take an extraordinary amount of our spiritual and/or emotional energy. Once I learned how to look at my calendar as units of energy rather than units of time, I was able to reframe the question. How does God want me to expend my energy? What are those things I should prioritize in my schedule that will help me build or renew my energy reserves? What are things that–while they may be great things–are not things that I should be spending my energy on? And how will my saying ‘no’ actually empower others?

And all that means, if I have empty slots of time on my calendar, that emptiness is exactly what needs to exist in those moments. I’m renewing my energy for the next thing God would have me do. And if I say ‘no’ to something, that leaves room for someone else to say ‘yes.’ Who am I to predict how God might be wanting others to expend their energies?

What a concept.

If this is ringing bells for you, here are some questions you might want to ask yourself next time you look at your calendar: What are those responsibilities that will take more energy than others? How can you make space for them, to be more effective in meeting those responsibilities creatively? What are those things you need to make time for that will help you gain or renew your energy? Are there responsibilities you’ve taken on that aren’t high on God’s priority list for you–that you’re doing out of a sense of obligation, not wanting to disappoint someone, simply because you feel like you should? If you said ‘no’ to something, would it give someone else a chance to say ‘yes’?

It’s time for me to stop writing blog posts and go play with a certain Golden in my house. He and I will both be the better for some time with a tennis ball. How are you going to care for your energy today?

headshot higherresThis blog post is contributed by Rev. Sandra Hasenauer, associate executive director of American Baptist Women’s Ministries, and companion to two dogs who make great sermon illustrations on a regular basis.

Do you enjoy this blog? Help it continue by supporting American Baptist Women’s Ministries. Click here to donate. American Baptist Women’s Ministries is a diverse community of American Baptist women and girls engaged in ministry in Christ’s name. With local, area, region/state, and national levels of ministry, AB Women’s Ministries creates a community of passionately faithful, mission-minded women and girls engaged in worship, service, and friendship.

Advertisements

I Give You as a Light to the Nations–Martin Luther King Jr Day

Contributed by Patti Stratton

“Listen to me, O coastlands; pay attention, you peoples from far away! The Lord called me before I was born; while I was in my mother’s womb he named me. He made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me away. And he said to me, ‘You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.’” (Isaiah 49:1-7)

Monday, January 20, is the day set aside to remember the person, life, work, and values of Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. King’s work is an inspiration to me. I share his passion for social justice and concern for the poor, marginalized, outsider, vulnerable, stranger, and outcast. I pray for love and compassion to be the rule that guides me and us in life. I seek to live that out—and it often gets me into trouble. I’ve been told I’m too inclusive, that I love too freely and accept too much. I’ve been criticized and shunned for loving my gay neighbors. I’ve been scolded for doing a ministry internship in a church that is open to and affirming of all people. I’m currently being denied opportunity to preach in the church in which I am a member in good standing simply because I am a woman.

On this day, when we remember the life and work of a man who gave his life that others might live a better, more abundant live of justice, equality, and grace I am reminded of another man who also gave his life that others might live a better and abundant life. Jesus! Jesus! Jesus! Jesus: The reason I am still in Church, in spite of Church. Jesus: the One who came into the world, not to condemn the world, but so that the world, through him—his life, death, and resurrection—might be saved.

I began this post with a few verses from today’s lectionary reading, “The Servant’s Mission” from Isaiah 49. The next few verses express the Servant’s fear and God’s response: “But I said, ‘I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my cause is with the Lord, and my reward with my God.’ And now the Lord says, who formed me in the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him, and that Israel might be gathered to him, for I am honored in the sight of the Lord, and my God has become my strength—he says…, ‘I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.’”

Jesus gave us the Light of God and taught us how to share it. Dr. King is one who gave his life for the sharing of that Light. I am committed to living in that Light and share it with everyone around me. The Light of God cannot and will not be extinguished. Go forth and shine.

patti 2013 bContributed by Patti Stratton, national president of American Baptist Women’s Ministries.

 

By the Grace of God, Society Will Change (Thistle Farms National Conference)

(This is part four of a four-part series on the Thistle Farms national conference, “Welcome to the Circle.” The first three posts were written by Twila Wanamaker. This post is from another participant, Bonnie Sestito.)

vhwreo6ymuzszipql9bi3y

I recently attended a national conference hosted by Thistle Farms*, “Welcome to the Circle,” in Nashville, Tennessee. Out of all that I experienced during the conference, three things especially left an impression on me. They were:

  1. Hearing a survivor share her story. She told the group she remembered watching her father beat her mother, and when she got older she married and her husband began to beat her. She told us that she thought it was normal because of what she witnessed as a child, and she said that she liked it because that’s what she thought love was. She began crying and told the group that she knows now that it isn’t true.
  2. Hearing a workshop leader share that people say, “You can’t rape a prostitute,” and that young girls say, “I’m already having sex; I might as well get paid for it.”
  3. Learning about John School. John School is for first-time customers of prostitutes. In Nashville, a john who has been arrested for the first time for soliciting the services of a prostitute is given the choice of going to class or going to jail. If the john decides to go to class, he must pay a $300 fee to enroll, and must be tested for STDs. The class is eight hours long and focuses on the experiences and harms of prostitution, such as the violence associated with prostitution, the sexually-transmitted disease risks of prostitution, and the effects of prostitution on families and communities. After completing the class all charges are dropped and expunged from the john’s record. The majority of johns are not rearrested. If they are, they go directly to jail.

The stories are heartbreaking. The way some people view sex is maddening. But there is hope. There is hope because of safe houses like Magdalene and Thistle Farms. There is hope because of the programs that provide education. And by the grace of God, the attitude of society will eventually be forever changed.

Bonnie SestitoThis post is contributed by Bonnie Sestito, coordinator for Mission with Women and Girls on the national executive committee of American Baptist Women’s Ministries, and member of “All Hands In,” a ministry in Boston, Massachusetts, working for the abolition of human trafficking.

*Thistle Farms, located in Nashville, Tennesee, is a residential program and social enterprise of women who have survived prostitution, trafficking, and addiction. The women create by hand natural body-care products; purchasing their products helps them become economically independent and supports the outreach of the organization. Magdalene is the two-year residential community for women offering housing, food, medical and dental needs, therapy, education and job training without charging the residents or receiving government funding. Thistle Farms offers education, training, and conferences for others who wish to learn about how to create social enterprises. For photos from the 2013 conference “Welcome to the Circle,” click here. (Photo collage at top of post from Thistle Farms.)

Thistle Farms National Conference Part 3

(This is the third of three posts from Twila Wanamaker describing her experience attending a national conference hosted by Thistle Farms*, “Welcome to the Circle,” in Nashville, Tennessee, October 13-15, 2013.)

Tuesday, October 15:

vhwreopknzvc7pzvvkmc1zTuesday began with more workshops. In “Interrupting the Cycle of Supply and Demand: A Criminal Justice Perspective,” we learned about “John” schools where men who get caught for the first time patronizing a prostitute either go to jail or agree to an 8-hour “John” school at their cost of $300. These men are then educated about prostitution, pimps, trafficking, and the human being beneath the prostitute. If the men complete the school, then their records may be expunged. In “Love Heals – Perspectives from Survivors,” several graduates of the Magdalene House program shared their incredible and inspiring stories of brokenness to healing.

After lunch, we heard from keynote speaker Martina Vanderberg, president and founder of the Human Trafficking Pro Bono Legal Center in Washington, D.C. She listed cases of labor trafficking in which restitution was actually awarded to the victims. Power is put back into the hands of victims with lawyers on their side.

After touring Lena House, Magadalene’s largest residence and home to the program’s offices, many of us attended a huge fundraiser for Magadalene House held at the Ryman Auditorium. Country Western music, featured throughout the entire conference, was a highlight at this grand finale of “Welcome to the Circle.”

My colleagues and myself, representing All Hands In, whose mission is to provide a safe house for survivors of human trafficking in the greater Boston area, learned so much at this conference from others so willing to share vital information. We encourage you to watch for information about future workshops and conferences from Thistle Farms!

Twila WanamakerThis post is contributed by Twila Wanamaker, member of “All Hands In,” a ministry in Boston, Massachusetts, working for the abolition of human trafficking.

*Thistle Farms, located in Nashville, Tennesee, is a residential program and social enterprise of women who have survived prostitution, trafficking, and addiction. The women create by hand natural body-care products; purchasing their products helps them become economically independent and supports the outreach of the organization. Magdalene is the two-year residential community for women offering housing, food, medical and dental needs, therapy, education and job training without charging the residents or receiving government funding. Thistle Farms offers education, training, and conferences for others who wish to learn about how to create social enterprises. For photos from the 2013 conference “Welcome to the Circle,” click here. (Photo in post from Thistle Farms.)

Thistle Farms National Conference Part 2

(This is the second of three posts from Twila Wanamaker describing her experience attending a national conference hosted by Thistle Farms*, “Welcome to the Circle,” in Nashville, Tennessee, October 13-15, 2013.)

Monday, October 14:

The Monday morning keynote speaker was Dr. Nicholas Hitimana, founder and managing director of Ikirezi Natural Products in Rwanda employing many women. He related stories of the genocide in his country that spurred him and his wife, who had escaped Rwanda, to go back and help the orphans in the community with high school scholarships. It was very moving when he apologized to the Magadalene House residents for the men who abuse women. He left us with an African proverb, “If you want to travel fast, go alone. If you want to travel far, go together.”

IMG_6190We toured Thistle Farms and had lunch at the new Thistle Stop Café.

My first afternoon workshop was “Duplicating the Model: Lessons from the First Three Years,” in which we learned step-by-step how to set up a program like Magdalene House. My second workshop was “Housing First for Adult Survivors of Human Trafficking and Prostitution,” which gave logistics, details, and reasons why a safe place is needed where survivors learn to live in community first. Then survivors need access to all kinds of services. We learned that love heals, but not all by itself.

(More in tomorrow’s post…)

Twila WanamakerThis post is contributed by Twila Wanamaker, member of “All Hands In,” a ministry in Boston, Massachusetts, working for the abolition of human trafficking.

*Thistle Farms, located in Nashville, Tennesee, is a residential program and social enterprise of women who have survived prostitution, trafficking, and addiction. The women create by hand natural body-care products; purchasing their products helps them become economically independent and supports the outreach of the organization. Magdalene is the two-year residential community for women offering housing, food, medical and dental needs, therapy, education and job training without charging the residents or receiving government funding. Thistle Farms offers education, training, and conferences for others who wish to learn about how to create social enterprises. For photos from the 2013 conference “Welcome to the Circle,” click here. (Photo of Thistle Stop Café used by permission from Twila Wanamaker.)

Thistle Farms National Conference “Welcome to the Circle” (Part 1)

(This is the first of three posts from Twila Wanamaker describing her experience attending a national conference hosted by Thistle Farms*, “Welcome to the Circle,” in Nashville, Tennessee, October 13-15, 2013.)

Sunday, October 13:

vhwreokto1iypunkfaupccIt was exciting that the majority of the 240 conferees were, on average, young in age, indicating a compassion and commitment from young women and men for those who have survived lives of prostitution, trafficking, addiction, and life on the streets. The conference opened with keynote speaker, Rev. Becca Stevens, an Episcopal priest serving as chaplain at St Augustine’s at Vanderbilt University, and founder of Thistle Farms & Magdalene. She talked about her experience in developing the organization from the ground floor starting with Magdalene House (16-17 years ago), then the Thistle Farms social enterprise to support the women in the program; the Thistle Stop Café; the addition of a sewing room and a paper-making room; and an international partnership with a women’s social enterprise in Rwanda – geranium oil – for use in Thistle Farm products.

One of the participants in Magdalene, as she was introducing Becca,  included in her testimony that she was a lost person who was helped. She went on to say that there are other “lost people” and they “are waiting for you.”

vhwreolb5nbepcadcaxx7aOne of the components of the conference was a “Shared Trade Marketplace.” The marketplace offered many fair trade items from social enterprises and cottage industries supporting women’s programs around the world including quilts, purses, backpacks, soaps, fashions made from t-shirts, candles, and, of course, Thistle Farm products. By the end of the conference, a group had been formed to partner all these social enterprises and cottage industries—the group is now called the Shared Trade Alliance.

(More in tomorrow’s post…)

Twila WanamakerThis post is contributed by Twila Wanamaker, member of “All Hands In,” a ministry in Boston, Massachusetts, working for the abolition of human trafficking.

*Thistle Farms, located in Nashville, Tennesee, is a residential program and social enterprise of women who have survived prostitution, trafficking, and addiction. The women create by hand natural body-care products; purchasing their products helps them become economically independent and supports the outreach of the organization. Magdalene is the two-year residential community for women offering housing, food, medical and dental needs, therapy, education and job training without charging the residents or receiving government funding. Thistle Farms offers education, training, and conferences for others who wish to learn about how to create social enterprises. For photos from the 2013 conference “Welcome to the Circle,” click here. (Photo of Rev. Becca Stevens and Shared Trade Marketplace from Thistle Farms.)