Why I Can’t be a Feminist

By Beth Winze


“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27

            My name is Beth Winze, and I have fallen prey to the lies of being a self-sufficient woman. There, I said it. I said it because it is entirely too true. The world’s view of becoming a self-governing woman, who does not need anyone but herself, has penetrated me to my core and I have become obsessed with the idea of doing life on my own. I will be the first to be completely honest and tell you that I have become entranced with the dream of making my own way in life with a future spouse supporting me as I go at it alone.

I am a victim of the feminist propaganda.

This was my mindset until a friend placed in my hands, a little book called Doing Things Right in the Matters of the Heart. This book made me travel on a conviction trip, but in all the right ways. Doing Things Right in the Matters of the Heart tackles the idea of role reversal and confused sexuality. The author, John Ensor, hits heavily on why there is such confusion in the world today about what gender should do what and the major push for equality in unhealthy measures. I love a virtuous, old-fashioned romance such as Pride and Prejudice where the man pursues the woman, but often times Beyoncé’s Girls Run the World song screams over and drowns out the idea of what a healthy relationship looks like, the way God intended it to be. And that is where John Ensor hones in most. I am not experienced in the dating world whatsoever. I was in a relationship for four months, and it was just enough to open my eyes to the common practice among teenagers today. It was great and I loved it, but I know why I struggled with it. I started to hate the feeling that I needed a guy in my life, and this is when I allowed the feminist movement to take root in me. After the relationship ended, I pursued the mindset of a Feminazi. In fact, I let it get to me so much that it irritated me when guys opened doors for me and asked me to help carry stuff. There was no point in my fighting what God has implanted in men. In the end, I was rebelling against how the Creator had deliberately created men. I was generalizing man into one category, as ones who wanted to take power from women and keep us as submissive as possible. John Ensor flipped my thinking.

God created men to be protective by nature. That has been infused in them since God breathed the breath of life into Adam’s nostrils. This is no different than the fact that God imparted in women, an additional nurturing and emotional side. There is a specific reason God created us so differently. Our dissimilarity in attitudes is what complements each other. My lack of broad shoulders and the ability to gain mass muscle is made up for in males. But my ability to create emotional attachments and a desire to help nurture or seek after the hurting is more emphasized than that of a man. There is a reason I have only seen my dad cry twice in eighteen years and I cry what seems infinite times a week.

My new knowledge of how God created our strengths to complement the opposite sex’s weaknesses gave me a reason to understand the protective nature of men. God created man first, to rule and name all the animals. Genesis 2:20 – “So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. But for Adam no suitable helper was found.” When Adam finished with his job, he had still not found a partner so God created from Adam’s own ribs a woman. Without diving into a science lesson of human anatomy, we all can determine that the ribcage is a vital support structure for our internal organs. I believe that God intentionally created woman from Adam’s rib as a sign of our role as the support structure to a man. God gave us the ability to nurture and care so that we may come up beside the men in our lives and support them.

Proverbs 14:12 – “There is a way that seems right to a man, but it’s the end is the way to death.”    

I love the fact that God accurately placed the word “seems” in there. It may seem right to me that woman are equal in every aspect, but if I applied feminist thinking to my life, it could end in the death of any future relationships or a marriage. God created men as the head of the household because their job is to protect, provide, and give to the women. Our job in return is to support, love, and nurture men in a way only we can. Ensor gives a beautiful example of this idea:

The surprising lesson is on display in figure skating pairs.

At its best, this event displays the strength and beauty of unity: how two different people become one. The gold goes to that couple which has most mastered the skill of male leadership and female support making one glorious whole.

He leads her onto the ice and initiates each part of their routine. She receives that leadership and trusts in his strength. His raw physical strength is more on display than hers; he does all the lifting, twirling and catching. She complements his strength with her own; a more diminutive and more attractive strength of beauty, grace, speed and balance. His focus as the head or leader is to magnifying her skills. Her focus is on following his lead and signaling her readiness to receive his next move. He takes responsibility for the two of them and she trusts his leadership and delights in it.

If he makes a mistake, she pays the larger physical price; he pays the larger emotional price. She falls, but he fails! So he has to learn to initiate and risk. She has to help him understand her moves and to endure his learning curve.

They do not fight for equality on the ice; they possess it as a given. They are not jostling about fairness. They are focused on doing their part well. No one yells, “Oppressor!” as he leads her around the arena, lifting her up and catapulting her into a triple spin. No one thinks she is belittled as she takes her lead from him, skating backwards to his forward. No one calls for them to be egalitarian. “She should get to throw him into a triple Lutz half the time!” They complement each other in their complementarian approach to becoming one majestic whole. No one, least of all him, minds that the roses and teddy bears, thrown onto the ice when they have collapsed into each other’s arms at the end, are for her. It is his joy.

This is a visible model of what male leadership and female support are all about. It’s an art form, not a mandate. It’s a disposition, not a set of rules. When it’s done well, it’s a welcome sight in which both partners are fulfilled in themselves and delighted in the other.

Olympic skaters would be the first to agree that this unity takes practice and patience. They pay the price of achievement in bruises, cuts, twisted ankles, and sore shoulders. But alternative approaches only add more pain and yield less satisfaction.

–        John Ensor, Doing Things Right in the Matters of the Heart

I truly think that Ensor captures the essence of manhood and womanhood in this paragraph. It is not about competing against each other, it’s about trusting each other with your strengths and weaknesses in order to create a beautiful routine for Christ, the way He intended it to be. In fact, this example is so striking to me, that I have it printed out and hanging in my room as a daily reminder to allow men to open doors for me if they wish and carry things if they offer. Yes, I can physically open the door myself and carry things, but why would I want to be the one to shut down what God has instilled in them. And it also gives me the reassurance that the next time a male friend of mine needs to talk about something, I can be there for him. We are at our most beautiful to God when we are working for Him the way He created us. If that means that I can allow my guy friends to work the way God made them to, by opening the doors and such, then so be it. I have come to this conclusion: in my future, I do not want my husband avoiding me when he has had a bad day. I do not want him openly telling me that I am too emotional and he cannot stand a tender heart. That would do more harm than good. Just as I do not want to be a wife that tells him he cannot open a door for me or help me carry groceries in because “I can do it”. Stunting each other’s natural tendencies is re-routing a path God has already made. There’s no reason to “pave a way to equality” when God made us equal in His image. Not allowing each other to work to your best ability is only preventing a growth in Christ together.

When riding a tandem bike, the person on the front seat would despise the person in the back if they refused to pull their own weight. When working together, you create a team appearance that gets further faster. If you fight the way the bike is designed, you will more than likely find yourself at a standstill. When the person on the front seat gets exhausted, their partner can take the lead for a while. Balancing each other’s weaknesses and strength will only allow for the team to go a lengthier distance more lithely. I do not want to be the women that pedals on my own. I want to be a part of a well-functioning machine that God created.

THAT is why I can’t be a feminist.

 

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A Cheesy, Yet Practical Guide to Surviving Freshman Orientation

By Beth Winze

The tassels have been turned; the pictures, taken; the cake, cut; the gifts, opened; and now we are stuck with our nostalgic feelings of high school passed and a summer quickly fleeting. This, at least, has been my interpretation of the hangover from graduation excitement. It was all a grand flourish of family, friends, love and support and now the waning summer gives way to the thoughts of an impending lifestyle change not hiding too far around the corner. Now comes the hardest part, Freshman Orientation. Freshman Orientation is not grammatically capitalized correctly, but since it is what all of us graduates are about to attend, I gave it a little emphasis. If we could timeline our lives in a written form, I truly believe that Freshman Orientation is a bulleted, highlighted, circled and underlined event on our life calendar. It is the second step towards college. We have been accepted, we have picked the school we want and our minds have already aroused a certain sentiment about our life changing. But Freshman Orientation can be mentally compared to the cautious “toe dip” into the pool that will be our new lives come August. I have already completed and attended Freshman Orientation and I am here to try and bestow some advice on what to do and what not to do. I am a person that loves lists, therefore I have compiled a list of points that I wish had been there for me pre-Freshman Orientation. My master list to surviving Freshman Orientation begins below. If you are excitedly anticipating Freshman Orientation or if you are sweating profusely and letting your pre-meditated thoughts about Freshman Orientation control your entire thrill towards it, I hope this list can provide a sense of what I experienced and what I took away from my Freshman Orientation.

*NOTE: I am attending Western Carolina University in the fall so this of course is based on what WCU gave me and what I took away from it. This may or may not line up with your college at all. It is simply my desire to at least sort of, kind of, maybe, prepare you for what is ahead.*

 

  • It Feels Like Too Much Information:

It does. WCU’s Freshman Orientation kept us there from Monday at 10 a.m. to Tuesday at 3 p.m. That is a long two days! They are consistently talking about information, handing you brochures about information, and giving power points of information. It would have made me hit my mental Panic button if I had not firmly decided one thing before I arrived. “It’s all highly important information, but if I miss something or do not understand something, I will learn it eventually.” Maybe this is a bad theory, but by mentally telling myself NOT to freak out, I avoided what is usually the inevitable with me. I was able to relax and enjoy my time and I feel as if I retained much more information through staying relaxed than if I had panicked from the first time I wanted too.

Keep a level head. You got this.

 

  • How much does a Polar Bear weigh? Enough to break the ice.

More than likely, at some point in orientation, they will have a “get to know ya” game or activity. As cheesy and “unnecessary” as they are, it really helps to break the ice! Meet as many people as possible. Long gone (or not so long for us) are the days in which high school students classified themselves in rank and had a strategically placed pecking order in which you had no say in. We are all brand, spanking new at college, so not many people are going to avoid you if you start up a friendly chat with them. I was able to talk to several people who in my human state would have probably never associated with elsewhere. But these are my classmates now and therefore, in an attempt to become Beth 2.0, I was determined to go out of my comfort zone and talk to new people. I was not disappointed with the results and I have several people who have already said they wish to connect up with my first weekend we are there! Most times, I would literally just walk up next to someone, say my name, and ask what they are majoring in. You just got to be willing to talk.

Everyone desires some sort of friendship. Let that fuel you to talk to new people.  

 

  • “I’m the map, I’m the map, I’m the map, I’M THE MAP!” (Dora the Explore “Map” theme song)

For being as directional challenged as I am, I was surprised I did not find myself lost more often those two days. If the college cares about you, which they do, they will give you a map more than likely. LEARN IT! Look at the schedule for the time while you are there and correlate it with buildings. You do not have to have it memorized but having an idea of where you are going is a lifesaver! And just think about how much more prepared you will be in the fall!

No GPS. Familiarize yourself with the map!

 

  • PSY 150 vs. PSY 340

Your class schedule, which was handed to me the end of the first day, is highly important. I mean if you are going to college for education it should be the biggest thing that will get handed to you that entire time. While my advisor made a rough draft class schedule that I could either choose to change or keep, you may have a set one or an adjustable one like mine. Do not be afraid to ask to change things around. For example, I was greatly cautioned against 8 a.m. classes and when I saw that I had been placed in 2 classes that started than, I immediately wrote down the change I wanted to make. We made our own class schedule adjustments and picked our own classes and professors. If this is how your college allows you to work with your schedule, DO NOT HIT A PANIC BUTTON. I am already familiar with college class schedules because of my community college experience senior year. And it was still a tad frustrating. But do not allow your mind to go to a place of “I can’t do this!” Keep an open mind and a willing attitude to work with your advisor on your schedule. If you do, it will be presentable much smoother than if you shut down.

There is a MASSIVE difference between PSY 150 and PSY 340 so make sure you read class descriptions and know your passions instead of blindly signing up for a class.

 

  • This is your new home

The most fun of Freshman Orientation came when I pictured myself there. When we toured the campus gym, I pictured myself in jogging shorts and a tank top running laps. When I was eating lunch in the cafeteria, I pictured a weighted backpack sitting at my feet and my new friends chatting it up with me across the table. You are going to college here, so you might as well begin to adjust to the mindset that in two months this will be your new reality. That, in my mind, is where I had the most fun! You picked your college for a reason that you loved so make the most of it and change your dream into your reality.

Begin to picture you running from class to class, studying on the front lawns, and participating in on-campus activities. It’s more fun when you place yourself in that mindset.

 

  • “I’m majoring in _____”

You know what you want to major in, or maybe you do not, but meet with your desired major’s directors, deans and or previous students. It helps when you hear from the professionals lips themselves what you are going to be doing. It also helps fuel or extinguishes passions. For me, meeting with the dean of Communications was pivotal for my desire to concentrate in Journalism. If I had not meet with him, Freshman Orientation would have made me feel a little lost in the educational shuffle. Knowing your dean’s, faculty, or peer students passion for the major is encouraging in itself.

Ask them hard questions about the major. Make sure you are fully informed so that you are prepared mentally going into it.    

 

  • Majors, minors, concentrations, FAFSA, loans, and other threateningly scary sounding words.

In two days, I feel like I learned more about college than I did in my four years of high school. Catch on to the lingo they use because it will make it easier for you to understand come fall. I had to ask several times what certain things meant and by asking I felt much more confident next time it was brought up!

Learn the lingo. It is a LIFESAVER!

 

  • A tutor a day keeps the bad grades away

Learn about all the resources the college has to offer you. The library hours, the tutoring services and the professors’ policies are all going to be the savers for me at some point in my education. They gave us the information, but I am continuing to read up on all the free services the college offers me as a student. This way when I know that science is not going the way I planned, I know how to work the tutoring services.

Learning school hours on services can help you avoid 1 a.m. study crams.

 

  • Sign Me Up

I determinedly signed up for everything that interested me. I wanted the information on how to get myself involved in everything they had to offer. I refuse to be the freshman that never took initiative to try and involve myself. I literally put my email on over twenty signup sheets but I figured that I would rather have an overabundance of activities to participate in than nothing at all.

It doesn’t hurt to put your email address down. It is going to be easier to weed out things that you do and do not want to do than it will be to have no options at all!

 

There you have it! My list of advice from things I experienced while at the imposing Freshman Orientation. Your Freshman Orientation is going to be what you make it! Mine was a blast, and in fact, I hated leaving WCU knowing that it would be another two months before I could go back and have that same excitement. So whether your Freshman Orientation is in two days or one month, hopefully my list will be of some use to you! Always remember that you have chosen the college because there was something about it that really caught your attention. Do not lose the excitement and anticipation of a new life in a muddle of confusion and frustration. You have plenty of time in the future to worry about grades, food, and life, so take your Freshman Orientation at it’s full. Go out there, put on your big kid college pants and make it work for you! You are ultimately the only one who can get the experience you desire!

You got this,

One Freshman to another

Pretty Words and Pretty Masks

By Beth Winze

“I’d rather live my life accepting that I’m not perfect, than spending my whole life pretending to be.” ~ Anonymous

          One of the most beautiful and the most faulty things about being a writer is that you create an image. Instead of simply saying big, green tree, I can say the massive, sprawling oak shaded the yard giving a home to the songbirds. No longer was the tree big and green. I gave you an image to replace a stereotypical one. Often times I catch myself writing more elaborately than I should and I do not wish to become so consumed with providing images that I paint the wrong image of me. A dear friend of mine posted something slightly like this the other day and it inspired me to do the same. We all need to come to a point in our lives where we can be completely real and open with each other. Filtered of course, but not afraid to show that we are only human. As I write this and you read this, this is not a way for me to try and gain praises or compliments. I am no fisher. But it is simply a way for me to tear down the images I made myself to be in my own mind.

Who Beth Winze really is……

Terrified to be alone for the rest of her life. Not sure who I am yet so I am searching for the real me. My mind keeps me awake at night with deep thoughts and fears of the future. I get nightmares quite easily and the stay with me for a long time. I am naturally a nervous person. I never leave the house without makeup on because I am not confident in my natural self. I have a massive imagination that sometimes never stops (good or bad). I overthink. I am never thrilled with my body image. I am a free spirit. I always seem to be perpetually stuck in a negative mindset. I can’t sit still for longer than 10 minutes, but I refuse to diagnose myself as ADD. My heart gets hurt extremely easy. Words effect me drastically. Hand written letters mean the world to me and I have a little box that keeps all the ones I have been given. I like to observe what is going on around me instead of always being in the action. I am quite lazy. People who look me in the eyes, ask me how I am doing, and refuse to take “fine” as an acceptable answer make me want to get to know them. I think I can carry the weight of everyone else’s emotions but I can’t. I sympathy cry…….like CRAZY (I try not to but seeing others hurting makes me hurt for them.) I am OCD a lot and little misplaced things irritate me. I use entirely to many British slang such as “bloody” “arse” and “peasants”. I am afraid to get super close to people because it has not always worked out for me in the end. My heart is vintage. I want to be a hardcore feminist, but I love guys to much. I cry myself to sleep when it gets overwhelming. I am working like crazy this summer so that I can go to college. I am scared to fail in college. I am excited for the freedom college will allow me. Christina Perri’s albums are the soundtrack to my life. I have a weird obsession with lion pictures. The first movie I cried to was The Lion King. I love cats and hate being made fun of and being called a cat-lady (it’s a passion). I am learning to grieve.  I am terribly clumsy and always have a bruise or cut somewhere. High heels still make me squeal like a little girl. I cry when I am mad. I am a wanderlust.

I want to be different than what the world tells us as humans to be. We are humans and we deserve so much more than to hide from each other. Life is not a masquerade ball that we can wear pretty gowns and hide our flaws. The most beautiful dancers are the ones willing to show their faulty steps.

“Some people think that the truth can be hidden with a little cover-up and decoration. But as time goes by, what is true is revealed, and what is fake fades away.”
~ Ismail Haniyeh

Final Memories and New Pages

By Beth Winze


“Go back?” he thought. “No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible! Go forward? Only thing to do! On we go!” So up he got, and trotted along with his little sword held in front of him and one hand feeling the wall, and his heart all of a patter and a pitter.” ~ J.R.R Tolkien The Hobbit

          One of the best and worst things I emotionally go through is nostalgia. It is best when reminiscing with old friends on past memories, embarrassing and endearing alike. It is worse for incidences such as this morning. I officially took my last exam of high school today, an English in-class essay. Maybe it was because English has always been my favorite so it seemed only fitting that I end the last day of high school doing something I love. But that is what also makes it so bitterly sweet.

Waking up at 6:30 this morning for an 8:00 exam was not fun. But while I was getting ready it still had not fully sunk in that this was it. I can only compare it to planning a massive party. You work a long time organizing and making sure everything is in order. The food is prepared, the guest list is long, the tables are just right. The night of the party comes and goes, but than it’s over. And all those weeks of prepping and getting everything ready seem futile. It sure was a great party, but it leaves one hanging right after the high of busyness it started you in. High school has felt like a scramble all my four years; making sure my grades were passing, my essays were edited, my math tests accomplished, my science experiments not blown up. All of the work that piled on and on, summer breaks that were entirely too short, and winter months that never ended, all seem like a planned party gone too quickly.

I received an email last night from our youth group organizer telling us of summer plans. I mentally included myself in the entire list, but when I read down and saw it was for all rising 6th-12th graders I felt my heart do a little drop. I was not in that “rising” category anymore. My high school years are done, finished, nada, terminated, ceased, concluded – you get the idea. The Year of Graduation as I so fondly once referred to is here and it is whirring past me like a train with no brakes. Unfortunately, more often than not, I find myself the engineer of this brakeless train getting ready to crash headlong into my future.

Nostalgia will get the best of me. I want to hit the rewind button and go through it all again. To be stuck in a perpetual age of 16-18 (decidedly skipping the 14 and 15 age mark, because those were terrible years.). But no, as life moves on, so must I. So how do I even begin to step forward into a new lifestyle that terrifies me so deeply? Well first off, I think that tearing away from what I have known previously is important. I think this heartbreak and sadness I am feeling is what is going to allow me to move on from my current station. Those banners that say “Congratulations Class of ’14” must at some point be ripped out of their posts (figuratively). The pen I have been using to write the chapter of my life titled “High School” must be retired.

It is feels exactly like when someone hands me a new journal; clean pages that you do not want to mess up; brand new binding that you do not want to fold over too much. But at some point my pen will make contact with that first fresh page, and than it is easy. But I keep seeing that brand new journal on my desk refusing to open it. Terrified that I will mess up the first page of my new chapter titled “College”. But as all writers do, I must bravely take a new pen and risk it. I have to be certain of the uncertain. Instead of going backwards, or sideways as J.R.R. Tolkien refers to, I must take my sword (pen) and press down onto that new page. No matter how shaky my hands, no matter how fast my heart “pitter patters”, I must write this new chapter.

I am not, nor would have ever been, valedictorian. Homeschoolers do not have stuff like that. But this is my final high school speech. I refuse to give you the stereotypical, Hollywood ensured, high school speech in which tears run down faces, enemies kiss each others cheeks, and everyone breaks into song and dance while singing about the end of something old (too many references to High School Musical). High school has changed me though. I shan’t deny that simple truth. I am much more of a developed and mature person than I was in 9th grade. And for that I have thanks enough. I feel like I have a voice now (theoretically speaking). High school has given me a desire to write, the ability to conquer fears, a knowledge of things I never thought I would want to learn about, and friendships that are water tight. High school has also bestowed late nights, early mornings, little sleep, piles of homework, bad days and other such things I shudder at the thought of. But the most important thing is that high school has given me memories. Memories I will never forget. It has also given me opportunities to do things I would have never been able to do, and meet people I would have never been able to meet. As much as I dreaded high school at times, I survived and I would not trade a single day for anything else.

“She understands now what she, in all her worry, had forgotten. That even as she hesitates and wavers, even as she thinks too much and moves too cautiously, she doesn’t always have to get it right. It’s okay to look back, even as you move forward.” ~ Jennifer E. Smith, The Comeback Season

          But the biggest thing high school has taught me is that it’s okay to mess up a page or two in your chapter. If the ink runs, work around it; if it smudges, re-write that part, and if it bleeds through the next page, work with it. “College” is going to have it’s blotted pages, it’s smears, and it’s torn edges but in the end, when I look back on that chapter someday I will realize the beauty in it. I am going to be okay. I am going to be able to flip to “High School” occasionally and reminisce on those memories. But I need to use those words, quotes, and memories to continue writing the next chapter in my life.

          So here is to all the 2014 Graduates! Whether you are having troubles moving on or not, find encouragement in the fact that it’s okay to make mistakes. Do not be afraid to start a new chapter because of what your pen might do.

“When you find your path, you must not be afraid. You need to have sufficient courage to make mistakes. Disappointment, defeat, and despair are the tools God uses to show us the way.” ~ Paulo Coelho, Brida

A Writer’s Journal

By Beth Winze

A writer’s journal is it’s own work of art.  And just like other art pieces, it is only truly understood by the artist.  A glance through a writer’s journal would leave one in a splitting headache and pondering deep life thoughts.  It is like a neatly stacked pile of papers color-coded and numbered, that has been tossed carelessly into the whirlwind that is a writer’s mind.  It is cluttered, muddled, and chaotic.  But it is a beautiful creation made by the writer’s own hand.

Often times the pages are stained with rings of brown coffee from late nights of the pen bleeding over the once white pages.  Other times, little puckered spots are dotted on a page reminding the writer of the passion or emotions felt while writing that piece.  Dog-eared pages are scattered throughout because the writer knows there is some piece of gold hissing in that particular entry.

The cover of a his journal is slightly dirty with ink stains from pens that broke and bled.  There is not one ink color that is the same because a writer must be ready to write with anything at any moment.  The once crisp binding is flattened from thumbing through the past pages reminiscing on old writings.  Scribble marks, random notes, quotes are to the journal what paint strokes are to a canvas; absolutely necessary.  Loose pegs float out if held wrong.

A true writer’s journal is spontaneously fun and two pages over, depressingly sad.  What makes a writer?  Someone who carries their entire heart and soul with them in an ink-stained, dog-eared, coffee-ringed, tear-soaked, torn paged book.

A writer’s journal is a rough draft, twice removed, of his life.  It is a story that is filmed through the eyes, edited by the brain, and featured through the heart.  A raw, un-censored screen play at it’s climax and low points.  A writer’s journal provides posts like these.

This is my journal……..

wanderlust // a great desire to travel and rove about

By Beth Winze

In lieu of my Ode to Summer, I think it is only fitting to address my obsession with travel. The adventure that lies in exploring an entirely different area, uncommon to yourself, is beautiful and thrilling. I have a restless heart that desires to exist in time and space it is not currently residing in. A heart, such as mine, will never be satisfied with seeing the same thing over and over again on a regular basis. My eyes search for a transformation in the landscape, my ears yearn to listen to varying sounds, my heart needs a new beat, and my feet desire a new road to walk on.

“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.” – Susan Sontag

Growing up, my parents force-ably (more or less) strapped us into our car seats and we traveled in our forest-green mini-van to all sorts of new places. Kansas, Texas, North Dakota, Montana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Idaho, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Tennessee and other such states. Sitting in my carseat in the van for endless hours allowed me to appreciate the stops we made to tour little things. My greatest memories in life are often spawned from adventures I have taken. My conversations usually start with “This one time, when I was in……” and they take-off from there. Not many memories that I treasure are of me sitting on the couch watching endless Netflix seasons. My heart clutches tight to the memories I have with family and friends in an environment outside of my normal routine.

Some of my greatest learning experiences have occurred because of my wanderlust. When I was little, my dad worked for a company that dealt with foreign countries regularly. My house became the resting spot for many of these traveling business people. And so my couch was no longer a couch while they were there, but it was a cushion in a Hindu temple, a canoe on the Amazon River, or a surfboard over Australian waves. I learned so much from these people during their extended stays. The Indian man that stayed with us told me all about his life in New Delhi and openly talked about his Hindu faith, while I, at the ripe age of 10, tried my best to explain my Christian faith. When the Australian came to stay with us, he told us of his visits to Steve Irwin’s zoo and all of the beautiful and deadly wildlife he had ever come across in his homeland. All of these cultural people that floated in and out of my life at varying times, created an innate desire to travel and grasp other cultures.

“It seems that the more places I see and experience, the bigger I realize the world to be. The more I become aware of, the more I realize how relatively little I know of it, how many places I have still to go, how much more there is to learn. Maybe that’s enlightenment enough – to know that there is no final resting place of the mind, no moment of smug clarity. Perhaps wisdom, at least for me, means realizing how small I am, and unwise, and how far I have yet to go.”
— 
Anthony Bourdain

The most affluent people in my mind are not the ones that own luxuries beyond most people’s reach, but the persons who have traveled. These people are rich in the mind and emotions because of their travels. They know how to interact with people in a proper way due to their observations from other cultures. They know how to be diplomatic towards other countries’ cultures that are not our own. And their daily routines are varied and tend to be more flexible because going with the flow is something most learn to do while traveling. The seasoned traveler, in my mind, is the richest person by far, because of their unparalleled understanding procured through their gallivants.

The best part about having a serious case of wanderlust, is that I tend to look for a way to adventure anywhere. Whenever I am paired with the right person, adventure is usually not far behind. I do not even have to go further than the woods in my yard to explore and change up my monotonous routines.

My desire for wanderlust will not soon be quenched, but until than, I will continue to dream of far off places and exotic people until I can actually meet those destinations. So travel, explore, and adventure. Let the curious wanderlust-er inside you out!

“Every dreamer knows that it is entirely possible to be homesick for a place you’ve never been to, perhaps more homesick than for familiar ground.”
― Judith Thurman

 

This Is My Broken Hallelujah

By Beth Winze

I can barely stand right now
Everything is crashing down
And I wonder where You are.

These past few days I have existed in a thick bubble of heartbreak. I feel like at any moment more tears could burst from my eyes, but the fact is, they don’t seem to ever stop at times. It had been twelve hours since I cried last and then that song came on the radio. I had played it all day Saturday between counseling meetings and trying to comprehend the shock of the entire situation. “Broken Hallelujah” spoke to me on such a deep level that I felt like my heart had actually written it. When it started the first few lines I sang along, but when it got to the chorus I broke down. My mom looked over at me and said, “It’s amazing how God provides a song for every moment in our lives that personally speak to us at that moment.” Right now “Broken Hallelujah” is my song that I have been singing from a torn up heart.

     I don’t know the context of the song’s origin, but for our church and me, it fits our feelings in a way no one can describe. Friday night we learned of our new reality. Our pastor took his life. Not only did we lose a senior pastor that our church looked up to, but I lost a cherished friend. All I have been doing all weekend is going through a grief cycle I haven’t had to learn until now. I truly know what it means to grieve. Distracting myself is great for the moment, but when I’m all alone it hits me hard. It has become a physical pain that I carry around with me. The closer we got to church on Sunday the heavier my heart felt. When I sat down in the chair waiting for the service to start, I felt a deep ache. When the elders and pastors took their place on stage I couldn’t take anymore. His last sermon on Romans 8:28 seemed so tragically fitting for the events we are now living out.

     “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

A few week ago, I wouldn’t have believed I would have to lean on one passage of scripture so much. I didn’t understand how this could be for good at all. It hurts. It feels wrong. It is uncomfortable to feel weighted down every minute. I think that is why grieving takes so many levels in people. We know joy, we remember joy, and we remember what makes us happy the most. But when we are lead into a period of mourning and grieving, it’s not something we welcome. It is not natural for a person to want to sit in grief all day long.

I try to find the words to pray
I don’t always know what to say
But You’re the one that can hear my heart

     For the first time in my life, I couldn’t form a normal conversation. Instead I felt like a completely insane person that couldn’t arrange a sentence to say what I was feeling. When people would hug me and ask how I was dealing with the grief, I just looked at them, shook my head, and tried to say something without stuttering or losing my mind. I tried to pray all weekend. Cry out to God and ask “Why? What’s Your big plan in all this? Why would you make us walk through this?” But all that came out were sobs instead of words. But God knew my heart even when I didn’t know what to feel. And that was prayer enough. He knew what my heart wanted to say and that was my prayer. When my words weren’t coming to mind, God was. God orchestrated everything I came across this weekend to remind me to turn back to Him for comfort. I follow Kyle Idleman, the author of Not A Fan, on Twitter and this weekend he posted a tweet that were words my soul needed.

Kyle Idleman

I’ve seen joy and I’ve seen pain
On my knees, and I call Your name.
Here’s my broken hallelujah

Because of my grieving heart, I can truly say that I have learned to appreciate the depth of my joys. And when I find that joy again, it will only make the pain I am in now so much more understandable. And that’s what I’ve got to keep leaning on and trusting that I will find joy again. This weekend has caused me to realize that being weak in front of Christ is never wrong. I never wanted to go to Christ when I was weak or broken , because I felt like in front of an all-powerful King, my matters would not be taken to mind. But I have begun to realize that Christ does His best work in our hearts when we have absolutely nothing left to give Him. I have raised my hands up to Him offering Him what is left of my broken heart. Singing on Sunday morning, “How Great Thou Art” and “Great is Thy Faithfulness” truly made me realize what lifting a broken hallelujah to Christ is. When you can barely sing because the emotions try to take over your mind and you feel hopeless, but you still sing to Him, even if it’s a cry of hurt. That is a broken hallelujah.

With nothing left to hold onto
I raise my these empty hands to you
Here’s my broken hallelujah

Ever since we learned of his passing Friday night, my daily Bible verses sent to my phone have been nothing but God’s way of speaking to me.

Saturday morning the verse on my Bible app was 1 Corinthians 15:56-57 – “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

This morning the verse was Isaiah 25:8 – “he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth. The Lord has spoken.”

I didn’t want to go to church Sunday morning and realize that he won’t be there anymore. I found such encouragement through his teachings and he was the one who pulled me from Sunday school lessons into the sanctuary to worship with the rest of the church. I keep remembering things about him and interactions I had with him more and more every day. My mom tells me that she believes this is God’s way of allowing healing to be around the corner, fond memories will replace the heartbreak at some point.

God has been nothing but vocal to me these past few days. I want to share the Jesus Calling lesson today that I read this afternoon. Nothing has penetrated my heart more deeply than Sarah Young’s words today.

“Trust Me, and don’t be afraid. Many things feel out of control. Your routines are not running smoothly. You tend to feel more secure when your life is predictable. Let Me lead you to the rock that is higher than you and your circumstances. Take refuge in the shelter of My wings, where you are absolutely secure. When you are shaken out of your comfortable routines, grip My hand tightly and look for growth opportunities. Instead of bemoaning the loss of your comfort, accept the challenge of something new. I lead you on from glory to glory, making you fit for My kingdom. Say yes to the ways I work in your life. Trust Me, and don’t be afraid.”

On Sunday when the elders and pastors presented themselves in front of the church, there was an undeniable strength through them. Our youth pastor spoke a few words that remind me of the joy that follows pain. He gave us the story of Christ’s death- fitting as Good Friday and Easter occur this week. He told us how he imagined the disciples felt while they watched their friend dying a painful, hour’s long death. How the felt when He drew His final breath, and realizing the fact that He was gone. That was Friday. On Sunday, the feeling they got when the found the stone rolled away and their Christ resurrected. Our pastor’s point was that for every Friday we experience, there will be a Sunday. For every hour of grief we face I believe that God will give us a day of joy.

Tonight was our pastor’s visitation. Walking into CBC this afternoon it was rainy and cloudy matching my heartbreak. But walking out we were greeted with this sunset. I think this is God’s way of promising us that there is a sunset behind the storm clouds we are currently under. It’s just behind these clouds. And this is my broken hallelujah.

High Point, NC sunset

 

We Are Free to Struggle

The Struggle

By Beth Winze

“The hardest struggle of all is to be something different from what the average man is.” ~ Robert H. Schuller

When Christ calls us to Him, He does not just ask for certain parts of our hearts, but instead He asks us to give up everything we have to Him. Being a Christian is not just a title, but rather a life-style. Christianity is not throwing a “thank-you God” in the end of a Grammy acceptance speech, but it is how you lived before getting that Grammy award that defines your claim. A common misconception among believers is the fact that once you accept Christ’s gift of salvation and live for Him, all your struggles disappear or become so insignificant they are mere potholes you can easily avoid. But on the contrary, these struggles seem to be emphasized after becoming a Christian. This is not a way to blame God for struggles whatsoever, but if God did not allow us to struggle through life, who would really prove they desired to live for Him? Struggles can be confining and make a Christian feel chained and incapable of escape, but Christ wouldn’t allow His children to be chained up and left for the wolves. When He sent His Son to earth to die for us, He broke all those chains holding us down. The real struggle is when we allow ourselves to hold onto the chains He has already broken. We aren’t chained to the ground anymore, but in our finite minds, we refuse to let Him take control of the struggles.

Tenth Avenue North, a Christian worship band I adore, has a song titled The Struggle. After purchasing this CD to add to my collection, I really listened to the words that were blasting through my speakers. Throughout their songs they mentioned the word “struggle” several times. I never thought, before listening to their album and some deep-thinking on my part, that it is okay to struggle. I had fallen to the thinking that struggling as a Christian was weak and showed a lack of faith. But one line that they sang in their song really solidified my new thoughts. “Hallelujah we are free to struggle; we aren’t strugglin’ to be free!” In fact, here is the song. The words capture my heart every time I listen to it.

Christians are going to struggle. When someone is determined to live above the burdens and yearnings of the world, they are going to tussle with pressures. It is a lifestyle change not accepted by the world’s standards. Struggling is a natural part of life and an even more natural part of Christianity, but we shouldn’t allow our struggles to chain us to the ground. Satan wants us to believe that we are chained to keep us from drawing closer to Christ. If he can keep our minds enslaved, there is no way for us to move forward. At a retreat this weekend, the speaker stated this simple but pivotal sentence, “When you go to God it doesn’t make your struggles easier, but you have someone to walk through the storm with you.” God sent His Son to die for us because He loves us so much he refuses to watch us continue to be broken by our chains.

Another thing that tends to cause us to struggle is our persistence in dwelling on our pasts. When we run to God, he forgets our pasts, but the Devil consistently offers it back up to us on a silver platter making it look appetizing again. As the speaker, aforementioned, stated this weekend, “When Satan brings up your past, remind him of his past and his rapidly approaching future of desolation.”

“Our chains are gone and we’ve been set free, so Children drop your chains and sing!”

 

The Danger in Reading – A Different Perspective on Reading

By Beth Winze

 “If you want a happy ending that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.” ~ Orson Welles 

All my life, reading has been essential in my maturing from early childhood to my late teenage years.  I cannot tell you exactly when my fervor for reading came about, I think I simply have to accept the fact that it just did.  Throughout school I was told that reading was the paramount way to absorb new information and it only made your brain “think tank” abundantly superior.  No, it was not a chore for me to pick up a book when the teacher told us it was reading rest-time.  I remember running my index finger along the worn binding of the books setting on the shelf wondering what adventure I would pick up that day.  I would open the book and relish the crinkling binding, as I smoothed my hand over the inked pages, never hesitating to stick my nose right in the center of the book and inhale the adventure stuck in its pages.  (Of course, only when no one else was looking.)  There was simply something completely captivating in books.  In not just the words, but in its appearance, shape, weight, smell, and look- books just stole my heart.  It was the idea that I could live in another time period or experience a different culture without ever having to leave my bed.

Growing up, instead of being grounded like the normal pre-teen, I would have books taken away from me.  This was positively infuriating.  Props to my mother for finding a punishment so affective.  Crying, begging, yelling, and whining quickly ensued my book removals.  My mom would not hear the end of my discourse until she placed the book safely back in my grasp.

When I would open a book and the first line would be, “Dear reader,” I was immediately transfixed.  The book became personal to me in those two words- like there was something written amongst those pages that would reach into my deepest soul and captivate my person.

Whenever I received a new book I would flip to the very first chapter and read the first word on the first line.  And I would continue on to flip to the last chapter read the last sentence’s last word.  It was almost as if these two words I read would somehow give me a pre-emptive glance into what I was about to read.  It never did of course, but looking back now, my old habit has become symbolic.

I never thought of reading as dangerous.  No, to say such a thing is horrible.  But from the deepest part of my soul, I have come to believe it is.

“Books can be dangerous. The best ones should be labeled “This could change your life.” -Helen Exley

I am currently reading for the second time The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.  This book attributes to the recent realization of dangerous reading.  (Not in a bad way of course.  In fact, this book is my favorite book.)  I of course, being that old habits die hard, read the first word and the last word of the book, “late” and “do”.  Reading this book before, I can remember the treasure it held between its pages.  But these two words hold so much more meaning than my lame attempt at guessing an entire 318 page novel.  The words signify that this book will begin, and this book will end.  Whatever my heart decides to do between these 318 pages is not up to me.  I become completely vulnerable to the novelist and the story he has woven.

Another tragically dangerous thing about reading is the connection you make to the characters.  From Pride and Prejudice Mr. Darcy to The Fault in Our Stars Augustus Waters, you cannot help but emotionally tie yourself to this realistic work of fiction.  When they go through a whirlwind romance, you cannot help but hold future spouses to these impossible standards.  (Sorry future husband of mine, you will never be able to reach the same level of Mr. Darcy)  In being a vulnerable reader, one knows the immense power one single character of fiction can do to you.

 “When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

So I the writer, encourage you the reader, to embark on a perilous journey not for the faint of heart.  Open your heart, mind, and senses to an entirely different emotional connection. Countless times have I lain on my bed sobbing through the last few chapters of a heart-wrenching novel because of a character’s death, loss, heroic rise, or wedding.  And in those last few moments of a book, when you can see the last sentence in sight, you realize the emotional journey you have been on is ending.  No longer will you be able to laugh at a character’s mishaps, or sigh at their first kiss, and cry when they hold the hand of their dying parent.  Just as all things in life that are good must end, so will the book.  But here is the most beautiful part.  As this book ends, another book is sitting somewhere on a shelf waiting for its binding to be crinkled as it opens, for hands to run along its smooth, inked pages and for another vulnerable heart ready to fall in love with a whole new set of characters and words.

This…..this is the true danger in reading.

Beauty 2.0

By Beth Winze

Dropping $25 on cosmetics anymore is a no brainer for most females.  It is a stress-free and swift solution to eradicate wrinkles, dark eyes, frown lines, and enhance your skin.  Magazines plaster painted faces, photo-edited curvaceous bodies, and flawlessly shaped eye brows on their glossy, alluring covers.  With mantras in bold-faced print on the front, such as: “Feel Beautiful All Year Round with [insert brand] Line of Makeup”, “Create Flawless Skin in fewer than Ten Minutes”, “Cover-up Those Wrinkles with This New Formula”- no surprise the majority of females in the United States have lost the meaning of true beauty.  In my reading this morning, I grasped just how much I have accepted the excessively manufactured make-up dynasty that controls my life.  Cosmetics that were designed to help enhance our natural beauty have now become our security blanket to hide any “inadequacies”.

While cat-eye eyeliner and orange-y face exteriors may put us under the misconception of flawless skin, it does not aid in covering up our true feelings about our beauty.  Every girl fights with beauty insecurities.  What makes a sixty-five year old woman look in the mirror and decide it is time for skin firming treatment?  Those wrinkles and crow’s feet show a life of joy and laughter, but she wants to appear youthful again.  What does the twelve year old girl in the mirror think right before she slips on bright, red lipstick?  No, make-up is not wrong when using to enhance the natural beauty in you, but when it is used to hide “imperfections” than there is a problem.

David Spellman, a clinical psychologist with Lancashire Care Trust states the ever-growing obvious, “I think the culture we live in and the magazine and TV images we see … affect children’s psyches – there does not seem to be one honest picture in the images we see in our doctored beauty culture. We are being increasingly particular of how we look and at a younger age.”

Not only are Victoria Secret models cavorting around in the skimpiest of boudoir apparel, but they are also giving the impression that evocative hair, make-up, and clothes make one prosperous in life.  What kind of image is this leaving in a seven year old girl’s mind?  Definitely not the right image of true beauty.  Not only are these models giving girls false pretenses, but when teenagers and adults little girls look up to do not display the confidence they need to see, these girls are found pining for reasons to consider themselves beautiful.

It took a shocking statement for me to realize how much I accept a lack of self-esteem.  A younger girl I am dear friends with looked up to me one day and said, “Beth, I do not understand why you do not see yourself as beautiful.”  My response came out somewhat befuddled, as I never chatted damagingly about myself in front of her, “What do you mean?”  She simply said, “I can just tell with how you act.”  Then she strolled off and I was left dumbfounded.  She could tell I was not solidly based in my true beauty.  This statement was enough to make me do a 180 and reconsider the way I saw myself.  I stopped the heavy make-up, and the desire to always be dressed to the nines in public.  I have found great confidence in only mascara and sweatpants.

Back to the glossy magazines that tempt us as we stand in line at the grocery store – they are completely phony.  It is easy to say but it is hard for our minds to accept the fact that those models are edited, and over-done.  You have probably seen the before and after comparisons of models, but just to drive the point home, here is an example:

Image

(Picture Source: http://www.news.com.au/news/gallery-fn78rwin-1226525944743?page=5)

Yes, the girl on the left is the same as the girl on the right.  It is amazing how lipstick, blush, eyeliner, eyebrow pencil, mascara, hair, a painted on beauty spot, flashy earrings, lip liner, contacts, and teeth whitener bring out the true and natural beauty she was born with. *sarcastically said* “Maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s Maybelline.”  It is a terrible thing when a photo-shopped image can make us hate our mirror appearance.

I believe in models, but not the runway, lingerie, Abercrombie models – role models.  There is a world of difference between the two.  Use your natural beauty, and your personality to influence those around you.  Your deep passions and love will shine through and show your true beauty for what it is really worth.  I am not saying that all models are corrupt.  Look at Kylie Biscutti for example.

Kylie Biscutti won an online lingerie competition, at the age of nineteen, to walk the Victoria Secret runway as an angel for one show.  Biscutti modeled previously for boudoir shoots, but her Victoria Secret show placed her on the fashion model map.  Her husband prayed throughout her entire modeling career, but supported her descion to continue modeling, if that is what her heart desired.  Biscutti eventually had an epiphany and released everything and walked away from Victoria Secret modeling.  Her epiphany?

“My body should only be for my husband and it’s just a sacred thing. I didn’t really want to be that kind of role model for younger girls because I had a lot of younger Christian girls that were looking up to me and then thinking that it was okay for them to walk around and show their bodies in lingerie to guys.”   

(Full Interview Link Here: http://lifeteen.com/goodbye-victorias-secret-an-interview-with-kylie-bisutti/ )

Biscutti walked away from her fantasy profession in order to preserve her faith and image as a role model.  She went on to write a book titled “I’m No Angel”, in which she targets girls aspiring to be models.  In interviews she made it clear that right after the models come off the runway, it is not uncommon for them to collapse and/or pass out from botched crash diets.  Numerous models are covertly hospitalized after shows because of grave eating disorders and shortage of proper hydration.  Biscutti says that while she was in the modeling business, her managers would call her telling her she was gaining too much around the thighs and needed to drop in a horrifically short period of time.

Wearing make-up is not wrong, modeling for the right reasons is not wrong.  I will still continue to wear make-up, but I choose to use it as a natural beauty enhancer.  I do not want to hide under layers of fake disguising the real me.  My personality shining through is what makes me beautiful.  Everyone is beautiful.  We are all created in God’s image and we are wonderfully and fearfully made.  On my mirror are taped two verses.

1 Peter 3:3-5a – NIV translation

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes.  Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves.”

Philippians 4:8-9 – Amplified translation

“For the rest, [sisters], whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them].  Practice what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and model your way of living on it, and the God of peace (of [a]untroubled, undisturbed well-being) will be with you.”

Getting ready in the mornings is a bit more convicting when these two Bible verses are right in your face.  Write them out and put them on your mirror and you will be forced to look at yourself differently.  The idea of make-up is not so important when you’re staring at the reflection of a princess.