Use My Voice

Speaking up about the issues I can't get out of my head or heart.

Why I Won’t Be Shopping on Thanksgiving

So, our “Why Wednesday” series is getting started a day late, but hey the idea is still the same. Remember I am looking for all of you to help with this series. If you have a “why” you would like to answer let me know. Why are you passionate about something, why have you made a life choice that you sometimes feel the need to explain, or any other why you might think of.

So today I will be telling you why I won’t be shopping on Thanksgiving.  Let me tell you first I am not someone who says all Christmas related activities must wait until after Thanksgiving. Christmas music and all things peppermint started November 1st in my house. The kids spotted a Christmas tree in a neighbor’s house last night and couldn’t understand why we don’t have one up yet (because they aren’t selling fresh cut ones yet). We love us some Christmas in the Baker house.

The fact that I won’t be shopping at 6:00 Thanksgiving afternoon has nothing to do with my love for Christmas. It has everything to do with my love for others. My husband worked retail for a lot of years (he now works in the food and beverage industry that is very simmillar). Let’s just say he worked for what would generally be considered the nicer of the ‘big box” stores (you know the one where you can get your mocha and shop). This store will be opening at 8:00 on Thanks giving night (which is later than some). I asked him what time he would have had to be in if he was still working. He said 4:00 for a day like that.

When my husband use to work retail he loved Thanks giving and truly tried to soak up every last moment of the calm before the storm.  He new that the next 4-6 weeks would mean working 60 hours a week (he was a salaried level position so no overtime) , cranky customers, and never ending craziness.  Christmas Eve would be pent working up until the very last minute. The day after Christmas through New Years get ready for the returns. But at least he had Thanksgiving.  Calm, quiet (we only had one child then), family focused Thanksgiving. Now people working retail do not have that.

I have heard a couple of arguments for why it is not a big deal fro retail employees to work on Thanksgiving. The first one is , “Well, if police, and doctors, and fire fighters have to work on Thanksgiving why shouldn’t other people.” Come on really? I greatly appreciate the sacrifice people in serving professions make (15 years in ministry remember I know that one). However, I think we all agree it is necessary to have some of these people working on holidays for all of our safety. We do not need to be able to buy discounted toys and electronics to be safe. The other is, “Well if they don’t like it they should get another job”. Again I say really? Have you tried finding a job lately? I have and with a college degree I was able to land a holiday job at a children’s clothing store. Retail jobs are now the number one job in America. Not tech, not manufacturing, not service jobs, retail. Low paying retail jobs at that. So no, just going to find another job is not always a realistic option.

My best friend and I will keep our tradition going and go out in the way early morning hours of Friday before I have to go to work. We will laugh at how silly we are for doing, knowing we could just do it all on line. Where is the fun in that though? Now, I am sure there are some deals that I will miss out on. We have a very limited Christmas budget so people might get a little less because of it but that’s OK. Nobody is going to go without.  I do not need to take other people’s family time so that the members of my family can each have one more present or so that I can have something to do. I will respect the hard working retail employees more than that even if their companies do not.

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Why Wednesdays

I have an idea for my first series here. One of my favorite things about blogs are hearing people’s stories. I want to know why they think and feel the way they do. One of my biggest emotional needs is to feel like I am understood and I think I’m not the only one that is that way. I also think the more we know each other’s stories, the more we know “why” people are who they are, the closer we will become. It is hard to really look down on people or judge them when you know their story. When you know why they are in the position that they are in or why they are passionate about the things they are passionate about. Sharing stories breaks down walls. They are not always easy to share or to hear but they are important. If we want to work together. If we want to make this world a better place and if those of us call ourselves Christians want to really show his love we have to be willing to share our stories and listen to the stories of others.

With all of that being said I don’t want to just feature my stories here. That would get really boring really fast and limit the point of the series. I want as many voices as I can to help contribute to this. I would love to hear your “why”. Why you got a divorce, are a vegan, have no kids or have six kids. I want to know why you are passionate about adoption, education, or equality. If I know you IRL I will probably be asking you to share something. Your “why” doesn’t have to be faith based or even serious. If you want to tell us why your team is the best, or why you love a book, let us hear it. . I just ask that they don’t become commercials for anything and that they are written with respect.

If you are interested in submitting please leave a comment. I will be starting with one of my “Whys” next week with why I won’t be shopping on Thanksgiving.

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Why I am Jesus Feminist

I am super excited to be taking part in Sarah Bessey’s synchroblog today celebrating the release of her book Jesus Feminist. I am sure just the title of her book is enough to start a wild fire of controversy. The whole idea that Jesus might be a feminist? I mean aren’t feminist man hating, family hating, Bible hating women? Well, no, they are not. Well, some might be, in the some way some Christians are homophobic, sexist, or hypocrites. Some, not all, probably not even most. So then what is a feminist and how could Jesus have been one?  A feminist simply put is someone who believes men and women are equal and should have equal rights, opportunities, and protections. If that is the case then I am pretty sure Jesus would be the first to sign up for the title.

Let me back up for a minute. I would not have always identified myself as a feminist. I would have even told you for a long time that God did not allow women to lead in  some ways (OK most ways).  I was taught in church  growing up that men were to lead and women were to teach children and prepare food.  Well, I really didn’t challenge this too much because I love to teach children and can fake my way through preparing food.

It wasn’t until college that this idea began to be challenged. Yes, I went to a very conservative Christian college and this idea for the most part still was the undercurrent of thought. We all took Bible classes taught by men and I don’t remember any women I knew taking pastoral or preaching classes. We were all Christian Ed or Mission Majors. My junior year I took the class “Women in Ministry” taught by our campus pastor’s wife. In class she towed the line that men were too be the head of the church but always in a way that left me questioning if she really believed it. One day over lunch in her home she asked me what I thought about women in leadership in the church. I stammered and muttered and gave her the same tired line I had heard my whole life, “It’s not that God didn’t create us equal he just called us to different things.” She looked at me and asked, “If that is true then what do you do with Galatians 3:28”

Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

I didn’t have an answer and all she said was, “I think if God has gifted you to  lead you should lead”. It was a profound moment in my life and to this day I am grateful for her wise and gentle words.

I have written before about how after college I was blessed to serve in The United Methodist Church where this is not even a debate. Women serve along side men in every role. I had someone once tell me, “I could never raise my daughter in a church that told her there were things she couldn’t do for God simply because she was a woman”. I had never thought about it that way before and from that moment on I became a Jesus Feminist.

I am a feminist because Jesus was a feminist. There is no way you can read the Bible and not come away with that. read each encounter he had with a woman. Never did he say, “you are equal to my disciples but you there are some things you can not do”. No,in fact at his resurrection, it was women that he trusted to proclaim the good news (Mathew 28) . Did you catch that he sent women out to preach before he did the men. He could have appeared to Peter or John but he chose two women.

I am also a feminist because when we take away the fact that we are equal before God we open our world to a host of problems. We are saying that they are worth less, that they do not matter as much, that it is acceptable to treat them as second rate. Now, I know that most people (including some of my very dearest friends) wold say that this is not true. That just because the church teaches that women can’t lead that it does not mean they are less valuable, I disagree.I think we are reinforcing the idea that women and girls are worth less than men and boys. We plant the thought that it is OK to treat them with less respect and deference than we  might a boy or a man.

Finally, I am a feminist because I have a daughter, sons, nieces and nephews, and I have ministered to hundreds of children. I have looked into their eye and told them, “God has made each of you unique and and has gifted you to serve him”. I have looked into the eyes of both boys and girls and known that God has called them to lead.