Battle

A Spoken Word By Kaity Anczer

I don’t know if I want to call her my mother.
I wonder about the color of her eyes.
How many men could tell me?

My aunt called one evening.
Spoke to my mom.
I knew what she was saying before her mouth spoke.
She said she didn’t take her medicine.
So she died.
I knew that she died.
Because she took too much.

Memories don’t haunt me in the night.
They come in the daylight.
They are tools.
Reasons.
Manipulative justification of who I am
They blame my faults
The hands of a person not present
To
Speak for herself
Does that make sense?
Am I my mothers keeper?

I don’t struggle with memories of her in the middle of the night
I don’t battle with this
I use it.
As a tool.
Manipulative justification of who I am.
As if I was the victim.

Lets talk about humility.
We are the root of sin.

I have loved. I have hated. I do not remember her eyes, her hands, her scent. Mine have been of my mind. I remember sitting there, waiting for her. I remember. I remember. I remember finding out…
The battle never existed.

My mother was
Promise

I swear I never.
I swear I never.

What good is a promise without a covenant?
What good is forever?
Trust.

You have knit me in my mother’s womb. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I praise you, your works are wonderful. I know that full well.

I am the daughter of many men. Men who knew the color of my mother’s eyes.
I am the daughter of a prostitute. It was the only job she was able to hold.
I am the product of a sold woman.
The survival of sin.
The sacrifice and the altar.
The lust that loneliness pays.

I cast the first stone.
The only purpose of her life in my life,
Was my life.

My mother was a woman at a well.
She drew no water for the salvation of this world.

But

Our story is our most powerful tool.

She had my eyes.
My smile.
She wore black.
She carried herself with dignified pride.
I hope she didn’t wear shoulder pads.
I imagine she couldn’t afford to.
Then again, my mother’s clothing
Were like a carpenters tools.
He cannot work without his.
And dress is a sold woman’s charm.
She probably tried her best.

As for him
The men who birthed me were nothing.
All 14 of them.

Evil was used for evil.
The seed of sin continued in bitterness.

I am a daddy’s girl. So let my fathers remain sacrilegious.

I am the woman at the well.
My sins follow me as her sins followed her.
Yet my father will not throw a stone.

This is Truth.
The only thing I know.
I spoke with my mother today.
I spoke with my father today.
And that has made all the difference.

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Billboard Beauties

by Katelyn McNeil

Every Monday I walk to Michigan Avenue, turn left, walk one more block and stop. My destination: the bus stop. And every week while I stand facing the street, I stare at them.

Their long hair that blows gently behind them, their long legs that stretch the lengths of the windows they cover up. These models with arms that hang so gracefully and stomachs that look so smooth.  I stare at their faces and analyze the angles.

They are beautiful, I think.

But are they beautiful beyond their bodies?

So often we look at a model-esque woman and remark, “She is beautiful!” But how?  Is that tall, lean, ivory-skinned, fine-featured person beautiful beyond her body? Perhaps you’re thinking this is an incredulous question. Let’s not be too hasty though; let’s think. If what we mean by commenting, “She is beautiful” is that she looks beautiful we have not said what we mean.

I think what we often unknowingly do, is make statements about the character of other women based on what they look like.  When really, we have no basis for doing so! I say, “Wow, she is beautiful” what I really mean is “Wow, she looks beautiful”.

One word.

A difference in one word changes everything about the meaning of that sentence. The way we use our words matters.  We’ve said things like this for so long that we’ve modpodged character and cosmetology! This linguistic laziness is partially to blame for the subtle slide in our way of thinking. Just because one looks beautiful does not mean she is beautiful.    

When we compliment, often we do it in “elevator talk”. We compliment on the superficial, the insignificant.

“You’re shoes are so cute! I love the buckle.”

“I love your hair today, it looks so good!”

“Oh, I love the smokey-eye look you’ve got going. So classy!”

What does that mean? And who cares?

Let’s compliment the women in our lives on things that actually matter. While writing this, a quote came to mind from the movie 13 Going on 30. The main character wants her co-workers to remember “Real women, who are smart and pretty and happy to be who they are” not the photoshopped beauties that stare at us from billboards. She says that, “These are the women to look up to…we need to remember what used to be good. If we don’t, we won’t recognize it even if it hits us between the eyes.”

We have to remember what is good and beautiful about women. We have to remember the things about our friends, moms, and sisters that are important.  The things that make them who they are, the things that we absolutely love and wouldn’t change about them for anything.

Take my friend Jamie for example. Jamie loves words, and the things they can and do mean. She can write poetry and songs in ways that move people’s hearts. She loves to sing and dance and smile. She has a mind with the capability to process and enjoy the abstract. She is loyal, kind and patient. She loves to make people laugh. She loves to laugh at herself. She follows God with her heart. She loves to love and be loved.

She is so much more than her cute, artsy clothes. She has more depth than her energetic smile and bright blue eyes. She is not perfect, but she is a woman, whole and beautifully interesting. We all have these kinds of women in our lives. We just have to remember and acknowledge them for who they are.

Beautiful God

by Jessica Jentink

Fireflies dance in a park
Like Christmas lights hung on the dark
Let’s knock, knock, knock on the night
Stars, come out and play with our sight
Who taught the loon how to sing?
Who thought of the sound fingers make on guitars
As they slide on the strings?
Is it true?
Is it you?

Open your eyes
See through the facade
Of the beauty we find
To the beautiful mind
Of a beautiful, beautiful God

Bakers draw flowers on cakes
Third graders cut paper snowflakes
Sometimes girls dot their “i”s with hearts
And I rather enjoy eating colorful poptarts
Why do I paint my fingernails?
Why do all children make castles of sand
With shovels and pales?
You’re to blame
You’re the same

Open your eyes
See through the facade
Of the beauty we find
To the beautiful mind
Of a beautiful, beautiful God
God saw all that He had made
And behold it was very good
As it should be
Let there be beauty
You are good
Good

Just The Way I Like It

by Katelyn McNeil

Today we are creating, drawing, gluing, decorating. Today we are making Christmas cards.

Sequins, construction paper, and multi-colored pipe cleaners cover the small kitchen counter. I nanny for two little girls, Allison and her older sister Alicia. Alli finishes her Christmas tree and excitedly calls me over to see it.

“Katelyn, isn’t it pretty?” she asks. Pink, purple, yellow, red and blue colored splotches cover this five-year-old’s, hand-drawn, tiny Christmas tree. Scratches from a glittery crayon poke out all over the paper, as what I assume to be tinsel.  A gold star, larger than the trunk of the tree is plunked atop the highest bow.

“It’s perfect Alli!” I can see by the look on her face that she is pleased, content.

“Allison, you’re Christmas tree is very pretty but it’s not right!” says Alicia, leaning over her sister’s artwork.

Allison’s brow furrows; contentment hangs in the balance.

“The balls are too big and so is the star,” points out her sister, “you could just make your branches bigger or something.”

Alli is quiet. Then she says, “It’s ok.” Cocking her head a little to the left, “I like it this way.” She smiles.

She traces her finger from branch to branch as she continues smiling.

I’d like to think that that’s what God does when He looks at me. When I start to see the ways I don’t look like the women in Cosmo Magazine. When little thoughts wiggle their way into my mind saying, You don’t look the way you’re supposed to; You’re not the right shape, the right size; You could just be a little more…”

Then ever so gently, God in his infinite wisdom, perhaps cocking his head a little to left, whispers, “It’s ok. I like you this way… because I made you this way.”

I love what David says in Psalm 139:13-17:
“13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. 17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast the sum of them!”
David reminds me of what is most important. God created me.

I am part of God’s creation.  He has made me wonderfully; He has made you wonderfully. My “inmost being”, – my spirit, emotions, and personality – was knit together in what God thinks is the most perfect way for me to be Katelyn. My “frame” – my physical body – my arms and legs, my hair and skin, fingernails and cheekbones, were woven together just how God wanted them to be. And when He created me, when He created you, He looked at was before Him and saw someone beautiful.

He “likes me this way” and I know He likes me this way because scripture tells us God looked at all He had created and called it “good” (Genesis 1:31). And God created me.

Would you call something good if you thought it was ugly? Would you look at a painting you had intricately planned and artistically created and call it “good”, if you thought it was ugly? You wouldn’t. I wouldn’t. And God wouldn’t either.

He looked at the moon, the sky, the clouds and called them good. He observed the trees, the dirt, the rocks and he called them good. He saw his beetles, mice, whales, giraffes and called them good. He created man and woman and called them good. He saw all that He had made and called it good.

As I read over David’s writings again in Psalm 139 I think, why are God’s thoughts so precious to David? I think it’s because David understands how God sees him. He believes that his Maker’s opinion about himself is the only one that really matters and David believes that God sees him as a good, wonderful, beautiful creation.

Merry Christmas, Happy Calories

by Katelyn McNeil

The holiday drinks at Starbucks are finally in.  Happiness.  Just the other day while I was waiting in line to buy my peppermint, white mocha with whip, I was eavesdropping on the conversation to the right of me.  Come on, we all do this, at least I’’m being honest about it.

Anyway, a group of four or five junior high girls had taken over a small table for two. Little legs in skinny jeans, with feet stuffed inside UGG boots where sticking out all over the place. There were giggles as a boy probably in high school, walked in the door. Immediately their heads were sucked into one massive clump in the middle of the table as if a giant magnet had somehow grabbed all of their braces simultaneously. Soon the clump dissolved and conversation carried on as normal.

The little blonde girl (clearly the queen bee of the group) looks at the packaging of her cinnamon rolls says, “Oh my gosh! There’s like a million calories in this! Sick. I can’t even keep eating this.” The cinnamon roll flops in the garbage can next to the table. She’s probably a size zero, not exaggerating.

“Yeah, I would never eat that”, says her (maybe size one) friend, “I’’m counting my calories too and that totally wouldn’t be worth it.”

The other two friends who had not spoken in this part of the conversation yet, rush in “me too’s” so they don’’t appear out of the loop. As if counting calories is suddenly the new cool thing.

My drink is ready, I walk out the door sipping my 420 calories ever so slowly (yes, I had to look that one up) and enjoying every last drop.

As I Am

by Amy Gilbaugh

As I walked downtown, a few crude men – excuse me, a few crude boys – made comments as I passed by. Though I’m a fighter, their comments and behavior made me walk faster and my heart race. Instantly I thought my skirt must either be too short or too tight or too low; I must have been walking provocatively or inappropriately or welcomingly; I must be too big to be invisible; I must have been asking for their attention.

But I wasn’t.

I didn’t do anything wrong. And suddenly I’m tied to the loads of garbage in their minds and hearts. And I didn’t do anything wrong.

Jesus is showing me something new. Or maybe something old? I’m not sure. I have a feeling it’s an old message that I’m now reading in new places. Jesus is showing me that His love is permanent. Just the way I am, Jesus loves me. He loved me just as I was in my sin, and yet He loves me enough to insist that I don’t stay just as I am. Because He has something better.

I’m scared to let other love me a lot of times because I’m afraid of what it will cost me. I often worry that their love will mean I have to do something different with my hair, eat less or healthier, have different opinions or keep them to myself all together.

And sometimes that is true.

But that’s not true love.

And that’s not how it is with Jesus.

He loves me. Just as I am, He loves me. Enough to not leave me like this. He loves me.

The Mall

by Jessica Jentink

makes me hate
everything I am
everything I am not
everything I have
everything I have not

makes me want
more than I can afford
more than I need
more than I should want
more than anyone should want

makes me feel
like I should have skipped lunch
like I should have skipped lunch for the past 3 months
like I should fit into their jeans
like I should fit into their designer girl

makes me think
about the kids who look for crumbs
about the kids who are crying
about the kids who are dying
about the shirt I forgot I had

makes me angry
at America for calling me ugly
at my family for not understanding
at myself for being an idiot
at my God for conviction

beauty is value
says the lie
value is beauty
says the truth

the tug-of-war for a heart
her heart

well,
she’s tired of manipulation
she’s tired of fighting it
she’s tired of buying the look
she’s tired of buying the girl
she’s supposed to be

she’s the American girl

so shut up, American mannequin
you don’t work
you don’t diet
you don’t study for finals
you don’t have a boyfriend
or an atrium
or know anything at all
about what it means
to be a girl
because you are fake
fake like their lies

you are not real
pimples are real
wrinkles are real
adipose tissue is real
and it’s okay
if you know it’s okay
to say goodbye to beautiful

to the boys:
find a new beautiful to want
one that doesn’t cost so much
and one that a girl can be
without trying
because she already is that beautiful
underneath her skin

and be happy
that ABC
never gave Miss America
a Mr. America
to make you feel

the way we do