Monday, 16 September 2013

Prayer in dark places- Let nothing startle you

The past few months have been trying for both Al and myself. But like most of life it's been filled with some incredible highs. We are now proud grandparents of a gorgeous little girl and baby boy and oh my do they tug at our hearts strings. We are both besotted.

During this time, Alan has had some worrying health problems culminating in a pacemaker fitted just over a year ago. We hoped that was the answer but quickly realised that his problem with his memory and moments of confusion had not stopped.

A few more months and return trips to GP and Hospital and we are given a diagnosis of Epilepsy.

This happened on the afternoon that I had been to my own appointment with the gastric team to find out what was wrong with me. I had worrying symptoms for approximately 3 months and when they persisted I finally took myself to see the GP.

The reason I hesitated was, 1. I am stupid  and 2. I lost my sister to bowel cancer.
So this day was not one of our favourite as you can well imagine.

Al and I lead a lovely church here in West Yorkshire and we are privileged to share life with a group of folks who like us have their share of highs and lows. You realise very quickly that you cannot be blasé with people's lives and their stories.

I have been a pilgrim on my faith journey for many years, every part of the process has equipped me for where I have found myself these last few months. There are times of sheer terror in life when your fears overwhelm you, maybe like me you find this is usually at 2am in the morning. This is when you try to put into practice the faith you have told people about, this God who is omnipresent and close to you at these times, this God who is omnipotent and can heal and change all your circumstances instantly.

What you realise is more often than not this is not what happens, the reality is you find yourself alone and praying with prayers you struggle to articulate.

Lord please heal me/heal them
Lord take away this pain
Lord hear my prayer

The Internet has opened a whole world to me I have learned so much that had stretched me and grown me on my faith walk. But it has also shown me my privilege.

I hesitate now to use the words,
Even 'Child of God'

How can I when I read about and see those held currently in slavery, those sex trafficked across our world, child labourers, child soldiers. The wars in Syria, Iran and Iraq and the Congo to name a few.

So over this past year when pressing needs and real health issues and various other concerns have come up; and when I have been asked to pray for difficult and what would seem impossible needs I have had to find new ways to engage in this process.
Not flippantly or with the hyperbole of faith that I grew up with and still see on my Facebook and twitter news feed. That God 'always heals' when that's clearly not true. That everything turns out for good, again clearly not always what happens for many folks. That God is always on our side, when sometimes we surely do not feel this in our circumstances.

For me my journey my faith walk has had times when I have not known how or what to pray. Then I discovered prayers and writing that began to give words to my lack, to restore passion and faith to my walk. That spoke of the reality I have found in life and led me back to the God of my youth who truly is my 'strong tower'.

This beautiful prayer came into my world after reading it in the brilliant book 'A year of Biblical womanhood' by Rachel Held Evans

Let nothing trouble you,
let nothing frighten you.
All things are passing;
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
He who possesses God lacks nothing:
God alone suffices.
St. Teresa of Avila

Let nothing trouble or startle you, God alone is enough came to my mind when troubles caught up with me. These are not glib words or hyper faith statements but carry weight and meaning at moments of crisis.

I read about 'thin places' a term used in Celtic Christianity. I loved this, I loved that I could find a connection with the divine in the most dark and lonely times. Also in the most ordinary and mundane places like cooking a meal, taking a walk etc.

One of these long nights when sleep eluded me yet again I read on a wonderful blog by Micha Boyett About a site called 'Pray as you go', I clicked onto the site and found a 10 minute song, prayer and bible reading for each day.

I then heard this beautiful song from Psalm 57

'Have mercy on me Oh Lord
Have mercy on me
My soul has trusted in you

And I'll wait in the shade of your wing, until the terror has passed
And I'll wait in the shade of your wing, until the terror has passed

Have mercy on me
Have mercy on me
My soul has trusted
Has trusted in you'.

Steven Faux
This became my prayer in the dark of night I would run into the 'shade/shelter of Gods wing Until the terror passed.
The word mercy in Hebrew translates, 'lean towards me oh God' and terror/calamity translates to 'rushing', so my prayer became, Draw near me Lord until I find a place of stillness/calm in You.

I cannot pray the triumphalist prayers anymore, but I can anchor my thoughts in a God who the Psalmist tells us is a 'strong tower'. I cannot pray with the same certainty but I do believe in a God who walks with you in the dark places.
I know that there are breakthrough moments where I have found heaven has touched earth with an answer or word that reminds me 'God is near'.

Wherever you find yourself today I leave you with this prayer

Take, Lord
Take, Lord, all my liberty.
Receive my memory, my understanding, and my whole will.
Whatever I have and possess,
you have given to me; to you I will restore it wholly, and to your will I utterly surrender it for my direction.
Give me the love of you only, with your grace, and I shall be rich enough; nor do I ask anything besides

St Ignatius Of Loyola

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Star Trek 'Into the darkness' and the Bechdel test

I went to watch the new Star Trek film today with my husband Al we had both enjoyed the last film and we were looking forward to watching this new release. I recently watched a great TED talk where I was introduced to the Bechdel Test, if you’re not familiar with it, is a benchmark for movies developed by Alison Bechdel in 1985.

1. It has to have at least two women in it,

2.Who talk to each other,

3. About something besides a man.
Anything, even if it’s something stereotypically feminine, like shopping or shoes. Sounds simple, right? Then it might be shocking to find out that out of 2,500 movies, only about half pass the test. And to be clear, passing doesn’t mean the movie’s good or bad.
Failing the test doesn’t mean the movie’s evil or anti-woman, or that passing makes it some sort of strongly feminist movie. It’s just to get people thinking about gender and how it’s presented in film. In fact, the example Bechdel gave as a film that passed the test was Alien, simply because Ripley and Lambert have a brief conversation about the alien.

Colin Stokes in his TED talk, ‘ How movies teach manhood’ expresses his very real concern for his young daughter and son and what they learn about life from the films they watch. He noticed that the ‘two women who talk to each other about stuff’, does happen, but very rarely in films he goes to see at the movies’.He tells the audience the shocking statistic that 1:5 women will be sexually assaulted in their lives in USA, this rises to 1:3 worldwide.
He is not blaming popular entertainment or kids movies, but points out that something is going wrong and that is a lot of ‘sexual assailants’
Asking who are these guys? What are they learning? What are they failing to learn? Are they absorbing that they are to defeat the villain and collect their reward? The reward is seen to be the female who never speaks and does not have any friends.
He raises the view that we need a new definition of manhood where a real man will be someone who trusts his sisters and respects, who they are, ready to not just go out and conquer alone but go out and join a team, one that may even be lead by a woman.
I like what Colin has to say about the choice of heroine for his daughter as a mum of girls and a beautiful granddaughter I have a vested interest in how women are portrayed in the media and was sad to see that this latest film did not pass this very simple test.
It seems to me very clear that we have to educate our sons to respect and treat the women in their world not just as extras but also as main characters in their lives. Sadly Star Trek sinks even further with the most gratuitous ‘bra and knickers’ scene played out between Kirk and Carol, ‘don’t turn round’ she says to Kirk who promptly turns round just at the right moment to see her posed like a supermodel for him and the viewers to ogle.

I pointed out to Al that in 5 years or so we will be watching these films with our grandchildren Chloe and Malakai and like Colin I have to ask myself what image of women and men do these films bring to our children? What heroes and heroines will they choose to have as their role models?

Actress Thandie Newton speaks here about an act of abuse that she suffered whilst a very young actress on an audition, this really is too upsetting.

I then read Jennifer Kesler  speaking about women having conversations in screen plays that she had written and this is what she has to say on the subject. “At first I got several tentative murmurings about how it distracted from the flow or point of the story. I went through this with more than one professor, more than one industry professional. Finally, I got one blessedly telling explanation from an industry pro: “The audience doesn’t want to listen to a bunch of women talking about whatever it is women talk about.”

So viewers (male) want to look at, ogle, talk too, but not ‘listen to women’. Does anyone else not feel outraged at this state of affairs? I know I do, and this leads me again to what Colin said 1:5 women sexually abused ‘that’s a lot of assailants’. Are we not joining the dots here, keep a woman quiet, give her no personhood then the abuse, physical or sexual becomes so much easier against the 'voiceless reward' that is the reward after the man has conquered the universe. The gift of the bikini clad woman, waiting for him when he turns around.

I want more for Malakai, I demand more for Chloe in her future. I want to see this industry held accountable for their part in the problem. We must make a stand tell the producers, directors, screen writers give women personality, a voice, make them real people with depth and real personhood. Make men own their response to women

We all need to review future films and raise our disquiet if those in power do not insist on reaching this very simple standard.  We need to speak out and insist that these changes are implemented, it really does not seem a lot to ask.

By Beverley Molineaux




Monday, 29 April 2013

My problem with the word Contemporary

Our church here in the Aire Valley is now 5 years old with approximately 60 people in our congregation; it is in a small town in the heart of West Yorkshire. On our church website we like many churches today have used the word ‘Contemporary’. The use of contemporary is usually associated with a certain style of leadership, worship and teaching that want to express their relevance to today’s culture. This was why I began to have misgivings over the use of it on our website.

There is a great video clip (contemprovant) and I think you can see if you have watched it my misgiving with this word (It’s not really about the word it’s just a word like any other but words can take on a life of their own.) 

In a book recommended by my son-in-law Simon by Henri Nouwen ‘Reflections on Christian leadership’ chapter one is headed ‘The temptation to be relevant’, I was hooked, what was he going to tell us about this need we see present in most churches today.

Nouwen speaks of his journey from 20 years in upfront teaching and leadership to becoming a part of the L’abri community caring for profoundly handicapped people. In this community he was forced to discover his ‘true identity’. This was where he had to let go of those things that had previously defined him and learn to become truly vulnerable.

He says ‘I am telling you all this because I am deeply convinced that the Christian leader of the future is called to be completely irrelevant and to stand in this world with nothing to offer but his or her own vulnerable self. That is the way Jesus came to reveal God’s love’.

I struggle to imagine many of todays ‘contemporary’ church leaders paying much heed to what Nouwen has to say on being ‘irrelevant’ being the way to build their churches.

I recently went to watch Rob Bell on his ‘What we talk about when we talk about God’ tour. The church that hosted the event was ‘big’ and definitely came into the category of a ‘contemporary’ church by today standards. To keep this structure and venue running takes an army of willing (and maybe on some days not so willing) volunteers

I have attended a mega church, I have served on the welcome team and I have watched these leaders preach and lead and work very hard, but irrelevant they ain’t! The leaders find themselves under immense pressure to have all the right things in place to attract and grow their churches.

The ‘in’ words you will hear from these platforms are ‘off the charts’, awesome, ‘best ever’, ‘epic’.  All the hype is about the extraordinary there seems to be no place for the ordinary or mundane or any sense of vulnerability that Nouwen suggests is a required to lead well.

We live in a society driven by the cult of celebrity and I feel that this has seeped into some churches today. These leaders often drive great cars; wear great clothes, at one ladies conference I was at the female leader spoke of having the hairdresser on site to do her hair and that of the visiting speakers. Now please hear me I have no problems with those who drive great cars, wear great clothes, and we all need to have our hair done, but what does this look like to those serving this church?

I know it is attractive to some witness the congregation sizes and I know leading our small congregation could look like ‘sour grapes’ but seriously it’s not. When we were at the mega church we served and gave and led a small group, we were all in, invested in growing this church. But we found it was not enough, behind the large the loud and the passionate the lack came in the form of disconnection with those who led their celebrity life’s overseeing their congregations from the position of their platforms.

You see we could not find the leaders ‘vulnerable self’ we were given the clean-cut, sharp designer image that we were meant to aspire to. You too could be like this if you attend, serve and of course give your tithe. The problem is it isn’t true, that place is not for most people it is for the few the key leaders and those seen to have usable talent. The rest of the congregation is there to serve the machine that has become large and the corporate.

This I feel does come at cost for these leaders, the pressure to produce the high powered, high impact services week in week out and then to also motivate their team and from there the church volunteers cannot be easy. I know from experience it leads to people not treated well, many leave these churches emotionally damaged.

I feel saddened by this I do not believe that is the aim of the leaders, their desire I am sure is to see people come to faith. But I ask again at what cost does that come at when the real cry of our hearts is to be known, wouldn’t it seem sensible for these leaders to choose to show their true selves to the congregation they are leading.

There is so much more to be said and I will address this in another blog but I want to finish this with a quote that I heard from the Bishop of Bradford Nick Baines, ‘The job of the church is to create the space where people can discover that they have been found by God’.
I believe for this to happen we as leaders needs to present more and more our ‘vulnerable self’ to have any hope to truly reveal the love of Jesus to those we serve.






















Friday, 5 April 2013

Dear Emily - my fears for our daughters and sisters

Dear Emily

I fear for us too.
I read your words, I see your photo that shows me you are a beautiful and loving young mother. Responsible for raising sons. Blessed with a loving husband. Who in your piece sounds wonderful, he takes your hand every evening whilst you walk in your garden- beautiful.

But yet he fills me with fear too because he has read this piece and presumably finds it acceptable.
Why if he loves you didn't he ask what was troubling you?
Or why you were you feeling so stressed?  And how could he help to ease that?
Or and maybe this will shock you why couldn't you just have a good argument, clear the air and have great 'make up sex' or just an exhausted 'I love you cuddle, we'll get through this together' after you realise you are both exhausted and the 'this' is not about 'that'.

You are young parents with the hardest but most rewarding job in the world.

I have been there dear Emily. 4 daughters,  2 years apart in age. Working as a midwife/nurse/childminder of friends children to supplement our income whilst we planted a church.
Yes I have felt exhaustion like that and frustration when Alan my lovely husband didn't get it asked and me to do something so reasonable as help him 'chop onions,' and my anger rose and tiredness spilt over into why he could not see my exhaustion.

But dear Emily my fear is you subject women again and I can't condone or appreciate this piece in any way.

In fact it has troubled me all week.
I have read all the comments, the  fors and against.

I know this response you may never read. I know you will continue to write to a much larger audience of women than will read this response and that is why I fear for us.

My dear feminist sisters I love you all. I love your struggles and your determination to bring equality to our world. Sometimes at the price of your own sanity and even your own lives.

I love that I get to read of your daring to rise up against injustice and that I was able to share that with my own daughters.

I prayed over my girls too Emily, 'tender hearted leader and courageous warrior'.
I believe in them I see them now, they have become these things and I am one very proud mum.

My words to each of my girls was to go and when you find 'the one' then learn to always remind yourself why he was that special someone. And grow with him, stand by him, cheer him on and appreciate why you fell in love with him. Then on that day when you are very tired and he askes you at an inconvenient time to 'chop the onions' and you snap you will have journeyed enough together to get through this. You will be partners together wanting the 'best for one another', learning to prefer one another'. But honestly Emily a good marriage can handle a good argument or heated debate, because unlike your seeming fear of these words my girls are 'fiesty' and they know their own minds.

The submission of one group to another is intolerable whether it is race, social status or gender.
Mutually preferring one another is the most beautiful way to serve.
When I read the Bible I see a picture of a God in Christ who submitted Himself to become like us, took on the form of a servant and showed everyone male and female how that is to play out. 

I truly fear for us if this teaching rises and once again we return to what you say we lack- submission to males.

I fear because not all marriages look like yours dear Emily. Many unfortunately look like your dear Lebanese friend. And if we lived with your teaching when does leaving abuse ever become the thing to do. After all we submitted wives will then tell our sisters 'stay just a little longer, your beauty and submission will stop the hateful words and fists'.
Like that really works for the majority of women around our world. No Emily I fear your words more than the statementsfrom the most strident complementarians, they appear sweet but they are a very ugly pill to swallow for many many women.

Love Bev x

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Jesus is.....

We are teaching through John’s Gospel at church and I was blessed with sharing from John 1 v1-18. Have you ever tried to tell someone about a film or a song that moved you to tears or impacted your world so much but you cannot find the words? This passage is very much in my view one of these things; I have not got the words to fully describe how beautiful and majestic it is.The words poetically written speak about a God who chose to subject Himself to the frailty and fragility that is this human body.
Jesus revealed as the word in Greek this translates as LOGOS or Lego meaning – to ‘lay forth’. Jesus becoming the cornerstone or capstone in 1 Peter 2:6 “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”

Jesus is the WORD – the foundation we build upon ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Jesus revealed by John as God right from the get go, no meandering around he wants us to know this is who Jesus is.

Jesus is The Light - we read another ‘In the beginning’ in Genesis 1
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
Today we take light for granted, I had the joy of living in Norfolk with my family for 20 years, now if you want to know what darkness is like you need to take a trip into the countryside. The first time I drove off our estate to Sandringham there was no street lamps and I realised for the first time what true darkness looks like, it’s dark! But then we have Jesus who is ‘The Light and He shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.’

The Jews had waited for the promise of a Messiah for many years and John tells us that Jesus came to his own people but they didn’t receive him. The promise of this coming King in Isaiah 9 for to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’ When we choose to side with Him, he gives us the right to be children of our God and as children we are part of the family of God. We are called to be light to others shining the light of Jesus into their darkness to bring the light of his hope. In the brilliant book by Rachel Held Evans ‘A year of Biblical womanhood’ she speaks about how ‘ in the Jewish tradition there is no word for charity instead they speak of tzedakah which means justice or righteousness. While charity connotes one act of giving justice speaks to right living of aligning oneself with one another that sustains rather than exploits the rest of creation. To living as a family.’ In Micah 6v 8 we read He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.’
Justice is not a one off action it is a gift a lifestyle a commitment to the Jewish concept of ‘tikkun olam’, which translates ‘repairing the world’ or ‘healing the world’. So we see that Jesus God incarnate (think ''chille con carne, which translates 'with meat', incarnation translates 'embodied with flesh')  ‘The word became flesh and dwelt’ (Gk - Skayno- to tent or encamp) He pitched His tent right in the middle of this enemy infested world. In Philippians 2 ‘who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man.’ Came to be the repairer the healer of our world. John the Baptist explains 'this is the one I have been talking the one who is beyond because he was before, the one whose sandals I am not even worthy to untie'. How poignant is it when we hear the story of Jesus washing His disciples feet in John 13. Oh what a Saviour who became a Servant, what a great example, what an awesome God we see revealed in Jesus

Jesus is where divinity and humanity collide in one amazing and beautiful explosion of Grace and Truth.When we read John 1 we see that John The Baptist makes it very clear he is not the promised Messiah, the Theologian Buechener speaks of the 2 voices the Divine and the Human resonating throughout this chapter.

"It is good to have both the voices. The sound the second voice makes is a very human sound, and you need a very human sound to get your bearings by in the midst of the first voice’s unearthly music.
It is also good to have the interruptions. There should be interruptions in sermons too: the sound of a baby crying, someone sneezing, another coughing—something to remind us of just what this flesh is that the Word became, the Word that was with God, that was God.
What it smells and sounds and tastes like, this flesh the Word buckled on like battle dress.
Glory and humanity. Word and flesh. The New Testament itself is written that way: the risen Christ coming back at dawn to the Sea of Tiberias, Jesus with the mystery of life and death upon him, standing there on the beach saying, “Have you any fish?”
Have you any fish, the risen Christ wants to know? Precisely. The Christ and the chowder. The Messiah and the mackerel. The Word and the flesh. The first voice and the second voice. It is what the great text is all about, of course, this mystery, this tension and scandal; and the text itself, with it’s antiphony of voices, is its own illustration.
Somebody has to do the vacuuming. Somebody has to keep the accounts and put out the cat. And we are grateful for these things to the second voice which is also of course our own voice, puny and inexhaustible It is a human voice.
It is the only voice the universe has for speaking of itself and to itself. It is a voice with its own message, its own mystery, and it is important to be told that it was not the Baptist, it was Jesus—not that one standing over there bony and strident in the Jordan, but this one with the strange north country accent, full of grace and truth.
Behold, the Baptist said, that is the Lamb of God. Not this one but that one. We need to know."

This divinity, this mystery and the humanity shout loudly through these verses. Our search for mystery should never be at the expense of the mundane and ordinary clearly we see from this passage that the divine and human meld together beautifully.
After all ‘everything is spiritual’.

 And then we have this Jesus who is the giver of grace and more grace ‘Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.

We have received Grace in place of Grace

The law was given through Moses...

BUT grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me, I once was lost but now am found was blind but now I see

Grace Amazing Grace freely given to everyone of us, its freely given by our Saviour who came to pitch his tent with us.

He knows you and your journey. He knows your pain and your fears. He knows your joys and your hopes.

He knows you

Grace speaks of safety, protection, room, we are no longer deserted or alone. He has pitched his tent right in your neighbourhood. He comes to bring light into your darkest places and chase away all your fears of tomorrow.

Jesus is …… GOD WITH US































Saturday, 16 February 2013

Is the woman ever to blame if raped?


This morning I woke up on a high after an amazing night participating in the global initiative of ‘One billion rising’.  A group of ladies here in Bingley West Yorkshire, heard stories from courageous ladies who had suffered abuse at the hands of men and relatives in their lives. We then danced to the song ‘Breakthe chain’ and aligned ourselves with our sisters across the world. When I took to twitter I was incredibly saddened to see the breaking furore over a controversial tweet from @daybreak
"Controversial question - can women who are drunk or flirty ever be blamed for being attacked? Some viewers said yes in survey, yr thoughts?"

This tweet came on the back of the Sun newspaper with a front cover of the model Reeva Steenkamp tragically shot this week by her boyfriend the famous paralympian Oscar Pistorious. They used a photo of her in a bikini and the headlines ‘3 shots, Silence and 3 more shots. Twitter was again aghast with the crassness of this inappropriate treatment of a woman and the hash tag her name is Reeva  Steenkamp highlighting the fact that they did not even name this beautiful woman, but commoditised her to sell their paper.
I was soon brought back to the reality and I spent the day thinking about both these stories and what they mean for women in our world.
I have four beautiful daughters and like any mum I have watched them  go out looking very beautiful (my bias but def true) knowing they were going to have a few drinks and a good laugh with their mates and yes when younger pre-husband and partner days maybe even find a date.  
And yes their hemlines are short as is the fashion today but I think we can safely say rape has always been around even when the hemlines touched the floor. We also know that women are raped in countries where the clothes cover almost every inch of their flesh and they never have one drink of alcohol so we can establish rape is not about what women wear or if she has had a few alcoholic drinks.
No this is lazy and disingenuous reporting and treatment of a subject that as highlighted by ‘One Billion Rising’ is and has been a plague to women over many millennia.


Why is it seen as acceptable to let the rapist off the hook by even posing this question?

‘Can women who are drunk or flirty ever be blamed for being attacked?’

Is this rape acceptable because we could see why that young attractive woman was raped, after all she was a ‘looker’?  How does the word ‘blame’ sit comfortably or at all in this conversation?
So yet again we are forced to debate the subject that Daybreak has highlighted and that some have answered ‘yes’ too. ‘Yes women can be to blame if they are raped, if too drunk or dressed too sexily’ you obviously ‘asked for it’.  If we use this line of thought with other subjects then if your lovely new car is stolen it must be your fault for having something worth stealing.
Why is it that we so easily fall into the trap of thinking that rape is about sex, it just isn’t; but it is about the control and power. The rapist clearly fails to see the humanity in the person and they become an object there to be used and abused.
What are we to think of the rapists who choose the elderly or children?  
We find this action easier to condemn after all the term ‘drunk and flirty’ cannot be used here. We struggle to understand these perverts after all ‘what’s that all about’? It’s just sick!
But as I see it the young woman, the elderly woman, the girl, all of them are vulnerable to a man who would rape.
I also think that if I was a man I would be offended with this question, after all it places all men in the role of a potential rapist if all it takes is sexy attire or too many drinks. Are we not educating males to understand about boundaries and of course, No meaning No?
My hope is that we can see changes to how we think about this issue; the United Nation statistic that 1 in 3 women will be raped or abused in her lifetime has got to be addressed at the highest levels.
The blame culture towards women has to stop we need to recognise that rape is an act of violence and leaves many women across the world badly emotionally wrecked. As the song ‘Break the chains’ says, ‘this body is holy’, let us educate our young men to respect this thought and please can we leave behind this ‘blame mentality’.


Wednesday, 30 January 2013

February 14th 2013

February the 14th has had great significance in my life for the past 28 Valentines days because on this night in 1984 my beautiful first daughter Jennifer Sarah came into the world all 7lb 13oz of pure gorgeousness.

This year has taken on new meaning for me, not only will I celebrate Jen’s 29th birthday but I will be dancing with one billionwomen who are choosing to STRIKE DANCE RISE, to raise awareness for the plightof women across our world who are subjected to abuse of every kind.

I am hosting an event where I hope the small group of women that are choosing to come together will collectively know that the part they are playing is significant.

We are rising, choosing not to sit on the sidelines but to get up and dance. Choosing to dance is important the significance of creativity over war, the role of women to give birth to something, to produce and increase, not takeaway. I have the song Break the chain playing constantly in my mind the lyrics running over and over again in my thoughts.

One billion is the statistic that United Nations gives for how many women will be raped or sexually abused, 1 out of every 3 women, its too staggering to comprehend.. As Eve Ensler says on the TEDx talk, One billion rising is a feminist tsunami, a response to this terrifying number.  Having seen the power of the tsunami in Thailand we need to see this power unleashed on our world from this event that hopefully will bring a change to the landscape so totally that women will see a new day dawning.








Saturday, 26 January 2013

'My body's holy'

I am hosting an event for the global initiative One billion rising, It is an event very dear to my heart, as a mother of four beautiful daughters and an amazing granddaughter I think I know a little bit about girls of all ages. My girls like me have grown in a loving home full of affirmation and a ‘you can do it attitude’.  I told them to dream big to reach for what they want in life, we are blessed to live in the West, where education and health is a blessing, in fact we have things in abundance.

This initiative is a reminder to everyone that 1-3 women in their lifetime will suffer at the hands of a rapist or some other violent assault, shocking statistics in everyway.

You only have to watch the news to hear these stories of war and atrocities, to watch the women talk about the abuse they have suffered and when they don’t quite look like you it can give their pain a distance from your own situation. But then these veil-wearing mothers speak of the atrocities born on their bodies and they gasp with sobs at the actions and crimes perpetrated on their beautiful daughters and right there right at that moment she is no longer a stranger she is my sister. One Billion rising in its song ‘Break the chains’ as the words

‘This is my body, my body’s holy 
No more excuses, no more abuses’.

Can a song with great words or even one billion women rising bring changes? I don’t think with all the will of every one of those women singing and dancing we will see the end of abuse which is obviously of great sadness, but the collective voice can highlight and make a shout out for change. Throughout history great changes came from those who stood to end slavery and lets not forget ‘women’s suffrage’ to which women owe a great debt of gratitude.
So on the 14/2/13 across the globe women will rise and use their talents and voices to proclaim this message. I am going to lead an event where we share our stories, listen to beautiful women sing, we are going to sing together and my challenge to these ladies will be to do what I have done which is way out of my comfort zone and it is to dance. To dance like our lives depend on it because for some women it really does.

'I dance cause I love               

Dance cause I dream

Dance cause I’ve had enough

Dance to stop the screams

Dance to break the rules

Dance to stop the pain

Dance to turn it upside down

Its time to break the chain, oh yeah   Break the Chain'.





Friday, 25 January 2013

Dancing Queen

I have been dancing today, its not a usual occurrence other than for exercise when I shake ‘my thang’ to Beto and instructions to ‘touch,touch, travel’ for my Zumba work out. I like to think I can dance but to be honest I have 2 left feet and my co-ordination is shocking. But today I have been learning a whole choreographed dance courtesy of Debbie Allen’ a star of the film Fame and the choreographer of the dance for the organisation ‘One billion Rising’ a global day to raise awareness of the abuse of women.
At one point I dragged Alan into my training because for the life of me I could not get the simple instruction to pivot.

I feel that this dance is significant from the opening where we are told to raise our hands to pray to ‘our God’. Then we begin to march to the beautiful voices singing ‘I’m not afraid anymore’.
The vision of its founder Eve Ensler author of the book the 'Vagina Monologues' One Billion Rising is an opportunity for women to use their creativity to come together and say 'no more' to the abuse faced by women on a daily basis across our globe. The statistics that are on the opening page of their website seem too shocking to comprehend, 1 in 3 women will be raped or beaten in their lifetime; as my daughter pointed out this is the same stats for the chances of being diagnosed with cancer; and this abuse is a cancer in our world eating away at our mothers, sisters and daughters.

So today I dance
‘I raise my arms to the sky
On my knees I pray
I’m not afraid anymore
I will walk through that door

Walk, dance, rise
Walk, dance, rise’.

When I wrote about the dance on my facebook page one of my very dear friends looked at the suggestion to learn a dance for this day and this is what she wrote

“I was wondering how this dance would help things. I decided to watch the choreographer's lesson on the page. (You know I am unable to dance because of all "the stuff" - never have been able to, that has never changed.)
Then she got to the part "this is my body. My body's holy. No more excuses. No more abuses" - left me in shuddering sobs, can't stop. I have NEVER heard that, seen that, felt that........... Have to take it in, meditate on it...... try to believe it.
I am not sure if the dance will stop people from hurting women, but certainly that line has been a knife into the mind of this victim of violence and abuse.... I pray the knife will be a scalpel, that will cut out "this is my body, My body hurts me."
My body's holy????? - This morning I have realised.... The most long term damage left over from abuse is the stuff THEY put into our MIND that goes on in our THOUGHTS every moment of every day, affecting how we see ourselves - how we relate to others - how we detach ourselves from our physicality ("this is my vehicle. I travel around in it.")

"this is my body. My body's holy" - I long to be able to believe it.
Thank you.”

I think this sums up what I am sure Eve and her team wanted from this day. So I am choosing to rise and I am going to ask a few of my friends to rise with me, and I am going to dance, yes me with my 2 left feet and I am going sing out loud:

'This is my body, my body’s holy
No more excuses, no more abuses
We are mothers, we are teachers,
We are beautiful, beautiful creatures'.


Break the Chains
I raise my arms to the sky
On my knees I pray
I’m not afraid anymore
I will walk through that door
Walk, dance, rise
Walk, dance, rise

I can see a world where we all live
Safe and free from all oppression
No more rape or incest, or abuse
Women are not a possession

You’ve never owned me, don’t even know me I’m not invisible, I’m simply wonderful I feel my heart for the first time racing I feel alive, I feel so amazing
I dance cause I love
Dance cause I dream
Dance cause I’ve had enough
Dance to stop the screams
Dance to break the rules
Dance to stop the pain
Dance to turn it upside down
Its time to break the chain, oh yeah
Break the Chain
Dance, rise
Dance, rise

In the middle of this madness, we will stand I know there is a better world Take your sisters & your brothers by the hand Reach out to every woman & girl
This is my body, my body’s holy
No more excuses, no more abuses
We are mothers, we are teachers,
We are beautiful, beautiful creatures

I dance cause I love
Dance cause I dream
Dance cause I’ve had enough
Dance to stop the screams
Dance to break the rules
Dance to stop the pain
Dance to turn it upside down
It’s time to break the chain, oh yeah
Break the Chain, oh yeah
Break the Chain

Dance Break Inst.
Dance, rise
Dance, rise

Sister won’t you help me, sister won’t you rise x4
Dance, rise
Dance, rise

Sister won’t you help me, sister won’t you rise x4
This is my body, my body’s holy
No more excuses, no more abuses
We are mothers, we are teachers,
We are beautiful, beautiful creatures

I dance cause I love
Dance cause I dream
Dance cause I’ve had enough
Dance to stop the screams
Dance to break the rules
Dance to stop the pain
Dance to turn it upside down
Its time to break the chain, oh yeah
Break the Chain, oh yeah
Break the Chain

Lyrics by Tena Clark
Music by Tena Clark/Tim Heintz