Category Archives: Viva La Femme Friday

Viva La Femme Friday: Crystal Renaud

(This post is not suitable for children under 18)

When was the first time you saw porn?

Jeremy and I were having this discussion in the car the other day about our first experiences seeing porn.  I remember the exact gas station and who I was with.  I don’t recall how old I was though, but I think I was pretty young.  I wouldn’t have known there was such a thing but my friends father had magazines they had discovered and told me all about them and we all laughed and giggled trying to sneak peaks at nudity.  My second memory of porn was seeing videos as a teenager at the same friends house.  This friend had absent parents to say the least.

I don’t know how you feel about porn.  But here are some statistics XXXchurch lists about porn:

  • 4.7 million Americans visit porn sites in an excess of 11 hours per week.
  • 24 million Americans are classified as sex addicts
  • There are 260 million pornagraphic images on the internet
  • Porn often leads to illegal activities and health issues
  • 1 in 6 women struggle with porn addiction
  • 8% of men are sexually addicted

I remember as a teenager being so curious about sex.  Sex wasn’t a very open topic in my family, so when the opportunity came to watch it in video, I’m pretty sure I jumped at the chance.  I’m sad that my first experiences with sex were the images that will forever stay in my head. 

Sometimes I wonder what sex would be like without those images? 

Would it matter to me less about what I looked like naked?  Would I be as obsessed with my reflection post-mastectomy?  What would I have thought was sexy if I had never seen those images?

I dunno.  I won’t ever know, because those images are seared in my head.  I can’t remove them.

I don’t know what the draw is to porn.  I’m not sure if it’s as much sexual as it is the desire to be needed and loved, or to connect deeply with someone. But I do know it’s:

bREAKING uP mARRIAGES.

                                                            dEVALUEING wOMEN, mEN aND cHILDREN.

                           gROWING rAPIDLY bY tHE dAY.

And even though it seems to be a guys issue, it’s really not.  

That’s why this Friday’s Viva La Femme honoree pick is a woman who stepped out of her comfort zone to bring this issue to the light.  Women are visual too.  I know this comes as a surprise but it’s true (not to my female readers but to my male).  I heard a crazy study the other day that said women are basically turned on by any visual act of sex.  The study sited that how women are turned on is still a mystery, as is how we go in to labor, but that women were turned on by anything involved in sexual activity.  I’m not going to try to find this study for you since it would pull up some scary things, but you get the picture here.

We are visual.  Shoot, we love to dress in pretty colors, style our hair, decorate our houses.  What numbchuck said women weren’t visual?

Dirty Girl Ministries was founded by a young woman named Chrystal Renaud, who first saw porn at the age of 10 when she saw a magazine in her brother’s bathroom.  After that, she couldn’t get enough.

Now she’s helping women who meet regularly at Westside Family Church in Kansas and she has a website with resources and  a forum for women who don’t have help in their own local area.  She’s also available for speaking engagements.

Crystal is my Viva La Femme pick this week for being oh so brave to come forward with her own struggle and addressing an issue that desperately needs attention. 

Thank-you Crystal!

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Viva La Femme Friday: Hannah

When I was younger, my pastor nabbed me for ministry.  In my teen years, when I was busy planning and organizing events for my youth group, I’d drop by his office to ask really deep theological questions.  He was the first to begin planting seeds that I should consider being a pastor. 

So last summer a friend of mine contacted me and told me how her 4th grade daughter has decided she wants to be a pastor.  I love it.  I was more concerned with my bright white roller skates with big puff balls and groov’in to “We Are Family” by the Pointer Sisters in 4th grade than I was with sharing my faith.  Sure, I invited my friends to church, but because it was fun, not because I thought they might like Jesus. 

What can I say, I was a late bloomer.

Not Hannah.  This girl has it together, I can tell.  A few days ago her mom contacted me again, to tell me that Hannah was STILL talking about being in ministry.  So this wasn’t some passing phase.  And not only that, who needs to wait till you’re an adult to really be in ministry?  Not Hannah. 

Her mom sent me this interview about an organization Hannah has started called “Hannah’s Hope.”

You need to listen to this interview.  Seriously.  Please.  (Then you can hear how mature and cute she sounds)

(Hannah’s interview on Way FM)

Here’s what I love about Hannah.  First, she’s cute as a button. 

Second, she reminds me that you don’t need a degree, you don’t need lot’s of money, you don’t need to be 23 and you don’t need a fancy seminary degree to spread the message of Christ’s love for us.

And so, for my Viva La Femme Friday pick, I choose Hannah. 

And would you do me a few favors? 

#1

write a comment here to encourage Hannah in her passion for ministry and spreading the message of Jesus.  And,

#2

Keep your eyes open for young girls in your community that show leadership and passion for Jesus, and encourage them to consider serving Jesus in whatever capacity they feel called.

#3

Encourage your church leaders to make sure our young women see older women in leadership roles, including praying, singing, preaching, decisions making teams, children…anywhere, and everywhere. 

Yay Hannah for encouraging my spirit this week!

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Viva La Femme Friday: “Come to the Water” Women Clergy Conference

I’ve mentioned before that the denomination I’m affiliated with is called the Free Methodist Church.  Besides being a theologically Wesleyan in background, our church is also part of a larger group of churches called “holiness” denominations.  I know you’re asking, “what does that mean?”  So in a very brief way I’ll tell theologically what a Wesleyan Holiness type church would believe:

Through faith, Jesus draws us in to relationship with him.  Once we believe He is who He said He was, and we believe He has broken the power of death over us by submitting to the cross, we are free to follow his example to be more like him.  The strength He gives us to overcome sin is only through His Holy Spirit.  This is called sanctification.  It get’s confusing because most people feel they can never reach what is called “entire sanctification,” because it sounds like you would be “entirely perfect,” right?  And that is surely how it sounds, and of course there is much friendly debate over this even in holiness churches.  But the best way to look at it is that a person who desires holiness, to be more like Christ, is one who desires any pattern of sin in their lives to be broken.  And to be entirely sanctified would mean it would no longer have power over you.

Like the Free Methodist Church, most of the Holiness denominations took root in the late 1800’s.  Most of them were shockingly considered liberal and progressive for their day because of their outspoken concern for social welfare.  The Free Methodist Church began in upstate  New York during the same time as the Women’s Suffrage Movement was taking place.  It is not a surprise then that the founder of the Free Methodist Church took the time to write a book called “Ordaining Women.”  Other social concerns at the time for BT Roberts and his followers were the following “Freedoms.”

1.  Freedom from Slavery.  The founders of the Free Methodist Church were opposed to slavery.

2.  Free Pews.  No person should be denied a seat in church because they could not pay for it. (it was a custom at the time to get better seat the more you paid to the church.)

3.  Freedom from secret societies.  We believe everything should be done openly and not in secret.

4.  Freedom in worship.  Worship should be fluid and not rigid. 

Other holiness denominations grew in much of the same way, with special concern for those who were socially disadvantaged and disenfranchised. 

Several of these Wesleyan Holiness denominations support women in ministry.  I know this surprises many people, but many evangelical denominations do not support women in pastoral leadership positions.  Consider the Salvation Army, who’s co-founders over 100 years ago were William and Catherine Booth, and the way the Salvation Army continues to battle oppression of the poor.  In many ways it is almost harder now for a woman in ministry than it was in the late 1800’s simply because many evangelical denominations have only recently spent much of their time working against women in leadership.  Consider the organization that sounds so supportive of women, but is not, called The Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.  The sad thing is that so many hurting people are waiting for human touch, support, a clean cup of water, yet many people are entirely way too concerned with “who and who should not,” minister to them. 

Several of the holiness church got together to start an organization to support and encourage women who are considering, serving, or trying to serve in pastoral leadership within a holiness denomination church.  The denominations included in this effort are:  Free Methodists, Wesleyan, Nazarene, Salvation Army, Brethren in Christ, Church of God (Anderson), and the Evangelical Friends Church.

This event, called “Come to the Water,” takes place every 3 years.  The next gathering is schedules for March 31, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. 

Today my focus wasn’t on one specific woman, but many who serve in the holiness denominations.   I am proud of my denominational heritage and am thankful that even though some would try to pull us from our Biblical roots in equality for men and women, that our denominations continue to support women who feel called to leadership. 

If you are a woman who is considering pastoral leadership, this is an excellent opportunity to meet other women who share the same joy, frustrations, fears and challenges.   There are often scholarships for students so check the web site and contact them through email if you are interested.

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Viva La Femme: Anne Jackson

What is about women’s ministries and tea?  Seriously.  Every time I turn around there’s another tea.  We drink tea at mother’s day gatherings, morning brunch, afternoon, and when missionaries are coming.  If I were a missionary I’d be tired of ladies tea’s.  Having to travel from church to church and tea to tea to raise support.  It’s probably not at all how it is, but it just seems like every time a missionary comes to town we have another tea.  Are we envious of the English and their tea?  That’s their tradition, not ours.  Seriously.  When I’m out and about, I don’t stop for tea and crumpets.   No, I stop for a Starbuck’s or Biggby coffee.  And on occasion, I splurge and buy an iced Americano.  None of that weak sugary tea stuff for me.

So when it comes to speakers, I want someone to speak straight to me too.  Don’t give me fru-fru, weak tea, way-to-happy-for-your-own-good kind of speaker.

I’m an eggs, bacon and tall coffee kind-a-girl.

So here’s who I want at my next Ladies Bacon Fest….eww, that sounded so bad I had to keep it.  Not that I’ve ever heard her speak, but I’d really like to.  I started following her blogs and tweets a while back.  Her name is Anne Jackson and her blog site is flowerdust.  Girlie and serious all at the same time.  She’s written several great books called Mad Church Disease and Permission to Speak Freely.   She writes transparently on subjects like marriage, sex-trafficking and leadership.  Right now she’s out biking around America for Blood:Water Mission….somewhere….I think I last saw her tweet from Texas.  Just thinking about biking EVERY DAY makes my bum hurt.

I’m thinking she wouldn’t mind a ladies tea right about now is she’s on her bike in Texas in JULY, huh? 

Is it just me or are women’s ministries obsessed with tea?

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Viva La Femme Friday Pick: Jenny Simmons (Give-away too!)

I don’t buy many CD’s.  There’s a story behind that statement, and so, of course, I’ll tell it.

When I was in college I bought CD’s, because, well, frankly, I only really had me to worry about.  For the most part my spending money went to entertainment and clothing.  Then I went to seminary.  I didn’t have as much spare change, but that was alright because shortly after I arrived I landed a really cool job as a Christian music festival director.  Every week I was sent, not one, but several CD’s in the mail.  I was newly married and Jeremy and I spent weekends tooling around Kentucky getting front seat and back stage passes to any concert we wanted.   It was a very fun job.  

After leaving seminary and my cush gig with the festival, I had to wise up.  Shortly after that we started a family and the extra spending money was cut drastically.  Sometimes I’ll hear a song I really like on Home FM, my favorite radio station, and I’ll try to sing it to Jeremy.  I’m not sure why this is but he knows virtually every song ever played.  He usually can’t figure it out, not because he doesn’t know it but because he can’t figure out the tune from my singing.  So then we’ll be riding around town and I’ll hear it come on the radio and I’ll scream, “that’s it,” and he’ll go “oh, yeah, that’s such-n-such.”  And that’s how it is.  Me, tracking down my favorite tunes.

But thanks to this article in Christianity Today I was introduced to a great band that I’ve fallen in love with.  Addison Road.  So today, for my “Viva La Femme Friday,” I’m going to feature Jenny Simmons from Addison Road.  After hearing about some of her experiences in the CT article I decided to poke around and see what I could find about her that would make her a good choice as a woman doing good things for Jesus.

I didn’t need to look far.

I went to her blog.  You might want to check it out for yourself.  A blog post in particular really stood out to me.  You’ll need to read it for yourself.   But get ready.  Once I started reading, I wanted to keep reading.  At some point I may need to pop a bag of popcorn and curl up in front of the computer to re-read all of her old posts.  I appreciate her heart and her sincerity.   Her compassion for young women.  I’m not sure, how she possibly see’s the details in life, with her busy schedule, but she does.  And I appreciate the thoughtful reflections in her blog and in her music.

So I’ve downloaded Jenny Simmons with Addison Road on to my iphone and they are my new running companions.  Here’s where you can listen to some of their music if you’d like.  Their latest CD, titled “Stories,” was released just recently on June 22.

And BTW, if you are one of my Michigan readers, Addison Road just so happens to be playing in Graying at the Big Ticket Festival TONIGHT at 5 pm, so you might want to check it out!

So for a little fun, I thought I’d give-away 2 of the new “Stories” CD’s by Addison Road.  Here’s how you can be entered in the drawing.  You just need to comment on ONE of my blog posts between now (today’s post) and next Wednesday’s post (June 30th) at midnight and you will be entered.  You can comment on each of my posts (there will be three….Monday and Wednesday too) but you will only be entered once per post (up to three times). 

Good-luck!  And thanks Jenny for your heart and ministry!

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Viva La Femme Friday

I stumbled across this article last week on Twitter.  Of course I read it with pure fascination.  You should read it too. 

If you’re not interested in reading the article.  Maybe I can entice you. 

Does it matter to you that when your daughters grow up, they are allowed to reach their full potential?  Is your daughter gifted in music or art?  Is she gifted speaking in front of others or in leadership? 

Or maybe YOU (speaking to women here) have thought yourself gifted in music, yet never given the opportunity to lead worship?  Have you always been a back-up singer, told you had a strong voice and stage presence, hinted around at trying to lead worship, but you’ve never been asked?  And to be honest, it doesn’t really make sense does it.  The fact that you can be on stage or you can teach a Sunday School class, but you can’t officially lead worship.  Or speaking, or preaching.  Why is it that you are a gifted teacher but never asked to preach?  Is it interesting that most denominations will allow women to preach in front of men in other countries but not here in America?

Many of you know this dilemma has been a struggle for me.  Most recently I was hired at my church as a pastor.  I was interviewed as a pastor.  I was introduced to the church as a pastor.  But some people complained I suppose.  And I spent several months trying to figure out why, even though I’m an ordained elder like the other two pastors and I was introduced as a pastor, I was not given the title of pastor publically in writing.  My door just said Jen, while the other doors said Pastor (man’s name).  Craziness.  I am in a denomination that publically supports women in ministry.  Our founder, B.T Roberts, wrote a book called “Ordaining Women.”  This shouldn’t be happening in 2010 right?  Well, it did.  I suppose after the announcement was made at the church, some people had issues.  When I asked my superintendent about it, he came to chat with me.  I wasn’t pushy about the issue.  But if I went to medical school, I wouldn’t be hired as a doctor and not be called a doctor?  Right?  I did spend 3 years getting an MDiv and 5 years in ministry (like a residency) to be ordained in my denomination.  But the leadership at the church caught wind of my meeting with conference leadership and I was fired a few weeks later.  

I’m sure if you’ve read my blog you sensed my frustrations, but I’ve never come out and told the story because it has been raw and painful for me.  I was fired because I was “la femme.” 

For a long time I have thought that staying silent would somehow make me look more “ministry-minded” I guess.  That I had “the betterment of the whole” in mind.  I decided I might never get a job if I’m pushy.  But I suppose this tactic hasn’t worked either since I’m still jobless.  So is it really any better to remain quiet and humble?  And in naivety as a young woman, I really thought that doing my job well, would mean I would get job offers.  But that hasn’t been the case.  I won’t go in to details, but I also planted a church and after giving two years of my life to planting that church, going from a team of 8 to a congregation of 52, I was replaced with a man, not because I had a choice.  So as of late I’ve had the quote from abolitionist Frederick Douglas in my mind.  He said about social justice: “Agitate, agitate, agitate.”  His feeling was that persistent agitation would result in response. 

If you’ve ever read the book “Blink” in the last chapter of the book it describes how classical music only allowed men to audition and perform before the 60’s.  It took drastic changes from within the classical music industry to change that.  It took men with power to say “let’s change this.”  It took men with power, seeking justice and saying “let the best PERSON win.”  And not being threatened by that.  So at some point, every person auditioning had to be behind a screen.  No one could see them.  They only heard them play. 

And now, classical music is both men and women playing music together, and it’s beautiful. 

We don’t have to worry that our daughters won’t have a future in classical music.

But we do if she shows signs of being a good singer with a passion for Jesus.  We do if she is gifted in leading ministries.  I showed signs of giftedness when I was a teenager and my pastor invited me to preach and teach and encouraged me at a young age to consider ministry.

So then, why is it that women aren’t being appointed to evangelical churches in anything other than children’s ministries (not that this is bad, I’m glad women are working with children, but what if a woman doesn’t feel called to work with kids)?   Why is it that there have been ZERO women in the top 10 Christian songs in the past 10 years. 

Thank-goodness I’m not the only one alarmed by these statistics in the Christian world.  Here are some great blog posts you should read as well:

Her-Menuetics on “Becky,” and Randy Elrod who has also written a book on my list to read called “Sex, Lies and Religion.”

If you read the above blog post from Her-Menuetics you know they refer to “Becky.”  She’s basically the demographic who buy’s the most Christian music.  She’s the 30-40 something year old woman. 

She’s also probably the biggest instigator of families attending church on a regular basis.  So “Becky” sits in our pews every Sunday.

I AM BECKY!  And “Becky,” from what they’re saying is jealous of “Becky.”  Are you “Becky?”

Why is this happening?  Why can’t we support other women?  I don’t think it’s because we all want to be singers or speakers?  Maybe it’s because many of us stay at home and have un-met career goals.  Or maybe we have to work in a mindless job and we hate it because at one time we had dreams and the thought of listening to “Becky” singing sweet melodies and fulfilling her dreams while we drive our commute home makes us want to gag.  So instead we listen to Joe. 

There is a constant tension between those women that work and those that don’t.  The grass is greener on the other side, so maybe this is why “Becky” can’t listen to “Becky?”

All I know, is that I want this undercurrent of socially acceptable gender prejudice to STOP.  I know, there are a handful of you that may read me and you don’t agree with women in positions of leadership.  And that’s fine.  You probably won’t like this thread of blog posts every Friday.  But do me a huge favor.  Please.  Read this book and then decide. (It’s four views on women in ministry written from 4 different perspectives.)

I want my daughters to live fully this passage in Galations 3:28-29: “In Christ’s family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. Among us you are all equal. That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ. Also, since you are Christ’s family, then you are Abraham’s famous “descendant,” heirs according to the covenant promises.”

And I NEED Christian women in music and ministry as role-models for my girls.

So from here on out I’m calling my Friday posts “Viva La Femme Friday.”  I’m going to write about gifted women every Friday.  Musicians, writers, pastors, bloggers, survivors, whatever.  I’m going to find serious speakers, not the “fru-fru, throw a feather boa around my neck while I break out in show tune hymns, kind of speaker,” or the latest Christian Miss America, but the serious, theologically trained or relevant speakers like Anne Jackson or Beth Jones.  That’s my plan.  It’s the best way I know how to change this crazy anti-women trend in the church.  I need a positive outlet.  So it’s all woman, every Friday.  Women who God has gifted and how they are making a positive difference. 

And here’s how you can help me.  Make comments!  If you have a great new female author or musician you think others would like, please share it!  Let us know, give us links, so we can purchase and support other women!

Let’s stop being  jealous of “Becky” and start cheering “Becky” on.  This is for our daughters ladies.  This is for my Charis and Meleah.  So that someday they won’t ever have to think twice about following their calling.  That we won’t limit their potential for good.

What do you think?  What do you think can be done to change this issue in the church?  Can we change things like the classical music industry did?

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