Women’s History Month

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Oh boy! I almost missed Women’s History Month. But it’s not too late. Technically, it doesn’t end until midnight tonight, March 31st.

There are so many women who have made enormous steps forward in making women matter in society. That being said, each of us matters.

Every. Single. One.

But there are women I’d like to mention who have blazed trails in my life. There are by far too many to name so here are a few that made a difference to me:

Mary, Mother of Jesus – The perfect woman to have as a role model. Obedient, hard working, brave, and endured the most horrendous heartbreak with such grace and dignity.

Jane Austen – A literary genius. She has six major novels – Pride and Prejudice; Sense and Sensibility; Persuasion; Mansfield Park; Northanger Abbey, and Emma, are classics. Female writers weren’t encouraged during the time Jane Austen wrote. Her dedication helped pave the way for future women writers. With Jane Austen listed as one of the women who made a difference to me, it’s not wonder that the movie The Jane Austen Book Club is one of my very favorites.

Malala Yousafzai – Malala battled for girls’ rights after the Taliban attempted to assassinate her for trying to get education for herself and other girls. She was just 15 years old at the time. She’s published a books, among them, I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban and continues to advocate for equal rights. I don’t know about you, but at 15 years of age, I was still too worried about me to stand up for anything or anyone! What an impressive young lady!

Mother Teresa – She was an Albanian nun who devoted her life to serving the poor and dying. She personally cared for thousands of sick and dying people in Calcutta and was awarded the Nobel Peace prize in 1979. Mother Teresa was all about love and being the hands and feet of Jesus on earth.

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Kathryn Stockett – An American novelist who’s journey continues to give me hope in my own writing. Her debut novel, The Help, was rejected by 60 literary agents before one finally accepted! It’s a phenomenal book and I would highly recommend it. Her tenacity is beyond admirable.

Barbara Bush – Wife of George H.W. Bush and First Lady from 1989 to 1993. She involved herself with literacy issues and worked with several different literacy organizations. After researching about the factors that contributed to illiteracy, she believed homelessness may have been connected and she strove to combat both. I always admired her for the roles she played as advocate, mother, and wife.

My Mother, Bev Cielinski – This photo I took one evening, unbeknownst to her, as I walked past her bedroom door, says it all. She raised me with the values of faith and family, and taught me the value of hard, honest work. She taught me that when life was too hard to stand, to fall on my knees.

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Here’s to strong women: may we know them, may we be them, may we raise them. Unknown

Women’s History Month Spotlight – Katie Davis

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Young? Only in actual years. This beautiful, amazing young lady has the servant’s heart of one who has lived a lifetime for Jesus. Her book, Kisses From Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption, is on my bookshelf and travels with me everywhere I go as an audio book. I guarantee you’ll be forever changed after reading it.  Warning – Your life will gain new perspective and you will find a desire stirring in your heart to want to serve.

Katie was a popular teen in high school. She was the senior class president, Homecoming queen, she had the boyfriend of her dreams and college plans were in the making. When she talked her parents into allowing her to go to Uganda for a two-week mission trip over Christmas break to work in an orphanage, her life was turned upside down. No longer could Katie imagine living a life of comfort and convenience, with so many things, when there were so many who lived with little to nothing, who were dying from lack of food and medical care.

Katie moved to Uganda at age 18, adopted 13 girls, and has devoted her entire life to serving others. She began a non-profit, Amazima Ministries, and has been an angel sent from God to so many in need.

I have three sponsor children through Compassion International that I’ve talked about in the past – Alex from Tanzania, Amede from Togo, and Mamounata from Burkina Faso – among other causes I support. I have had people tell me that there are plenty of needs to be met in our own country and have gone on to ask why I feel the need to support those outside. Yes, I really have been asked that. And my heart breaks each time. I look at Katie and thank God for people like her. Not because she serves in another country, but because she serves. She serves where the Lord has sent her. We aren’t all called to serve in the same area, doing the same thing, which is a blessing in and of itself, since there are many needs to be met all over the world. I just ask -and challenge – you to look for a way to make the world a better place. To serve those in need. To be a light in the darkness, stillness in the chaos, peace in the midst of war. Be that someone to another. No matter where or to whom.

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That’s my challenge to you. Find someone – or a group of someones – that YOU can make a difference to. Whether it’s your time, money, talent, love…it’s free to love another. It doesn’t cost a cent. But it can potentially save the life of another and will make you the wealthiest you have ever been. Guaranteed.

“Love is not patronizing and charity isn’t about pity, it is about love. Charity and love are the same — with charity you give love, so don’t just give money but reach out your hand instead.”  -Mother Teresa
 

Women’s History Month Spotlight – Ruth Bell Graham

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As far back as I can remember I’ve admired Ruth Bell Graham’s devotion to her husband and family. She’s always reminded me of the woman in Proverbs 31 – the woman I’ve always hoped to be.

Since I’ve gone through a divorce, I appreciate her strength and stamina even more. (This isn’t one of those “it was all his fault” stories, much as I wish it were. I fully claim my responsibility.) But even during those tumultuous times, when I was failing miserably at marriage, Ruth Bell Graham remained my mentor. It just takes me a while to learn. 🙂

I looked to her as a role model, as a woman who loved her husband, even when I’m sure she didn’t feel like it, (we all have those times, don’t we?) and yet she soldiered on with beauty and grace. Through her life, I’ve come to know that love is not just a feeling. It’s a choice. And learning that has made me one extremely happy, grateful, and blessed wife today.  Thank you Ruth.

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“The fact is that both husband and wife are rough when the marriage begins. They shape each other through the trials and struggles they face together. When a couple falls to their knees and prays together, that is where true shaping takes place. Those who abandon ship the first time it enters a storm miss the calm beyond. And the rougher the storms weathered together, the deeper and stronger real love grows.”  -Ruth Bell Graham

 

 

 

 

Women’s History Month Spotlight – Mary, Mother of Jesus

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As far back as I can remember, I wanted to be a mother. Little did I know back then, that role would far surpass any joy I’ve ever experienced. And that it would rocket my capacity to worry past the moon. I’m pretty sure I can count on one hand the number of nights of uninterrupted sleep I’ve had since my boys were born. And this month they turn 24 and 27!

Mary, on the other hand, knew she was going to lose her son. She knew she was going to give birth to the Lord of heaven and earth, and knew from Jesus himself what was forthcoming. Could you imagine? I’m not sure–no, I am sure–I would never have been able to handle that with such grace, such trust in God, such beauty, as she did. She was the epitome of what a mother should be.

I’ve kept journals for each of my boys until they were 12 years old. I wrote in those journals every day when they were younger, a little less frequently as they got older, but even then, at least a few times a week. I tried to capture the miracle of everything life gave them every single day – the joy, the hurts, the lessons. When I read those journals, it’s like experiencing those magical days of motherhood again. What a miracle! My boys have taught me the definition of real and unconditional love. They’ve taught me how beautiful it is to see life through the eyes of a child. And through it all, they’ve taught me to trust Jesus.

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Another miracle of being a mother? I’m a grandmother. And what a joy that is! 🙂

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Women’s History Month Spotlight – Mother Teresa

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Anyone who has followed my blog for any length of time knows I’m completely in awe of Mother Teresa’s greatness. So my first “spotlight” woman for Women’s History Month isn’t a surprise.

Mother Teresa was the picture of humility, compassion, love, and service. She loved unconditionally, with no prejudice or judgement, leaving the world a much better place than when she entered it.

Mother Teresa described herself so eloquently: “By blood, I am Albanian. By citizenship, an Indian. By faith, I am a Catholic nun. As to my calling, I belong to the world. As to my heart, I belong entirely to the Heart of Jesus.”

What a beautiful example of a woman. She has been both a blessing and a lesson to countless others.

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Women’s History Month

There are countless people who deserve recognition, but since March is women’s history month in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia, I’ve decided to spotlight one historical woman each week that has made a difference in my life in one way or another. Until I mention the first of four next week, following is a list of the top ten women, past and present, who have made, or continue to make, a difference in my life.

  1.  My Mom
  2. My Grandma Cielinski
  3. My Sponsors
  4. Mother Teresa
  5. Maya Angelou
  6. Mary, Mother of Jesus
  7. Ruth Bell Graham
  8. Barbara Bush
  9. Rahab (From the Old Testament)
  10. Ruth (Also from the Old Testament)

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Who is the woman who has made the greatest impact in your life?

Women’s History Month

I could hardly believe it when I realized this is my 100th post.  Amazing!  🙂

I spent some time trying to think of some wise, witty, memorable ideas, wanting to make it a huge celebration.  But then in the back of my mind, I thought since March is Women’s History Month, why not pay tribute to women who have changed the course of history.  The women who have paved the way to where I am today.  The women who’s courage amazes and captivates the attention of other women who are trying to make it in today’s world.

I’ve decided to list my top ten, and encourage and invite you to list some of yours in the comments.  Maybe there’s a woman who has made a difference in your life that others haven’t heard of and by learning more about that person, could make a difference in someone else’s life as well.

So here’s my top ten:

10.) Marilyn Monroe – She was such a beautiful, talented woman, and yet so conflicted.  Sadly, Marilyn Monroe has proven that beauty truly is only skin deep and cannot buy happiness.

9.)   Amelia Earhart – Aviation pioneer – She has demonstrated that being a woman should never stop one from doing what one truly wants to do.  If anything, she has shown that one should try even harder, pursuing passion with gusto.

8.)   Oprah Winfrey – She has shown that no matter what we’re born with and what our past holds, it does not have to define and shape our future.  We have the power within us to do and be whatever we choose to be.  And, as with Amelia Earhart, passion and perseverance can move mountains.

7.)   Katie Davis – Katie has shown that we’re never too young to make a difference.  At 18 she moved to Uganda to work with the poor and has adopted 14 girls and made a difference to an abundance of people.  She radiates joy, love, hope, and the Spirit of Jesus.

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6.)   Anne Frank – Her statement, “Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart,” is astounding to me. She has shown that attitude really is 99% of what we become.

5.)   Kathryn Stockett – Wow! Talk about perseverance! After five years of trying to secure a literary agent and approximately 60 rejections, the author of the bestseller, The Help, never quit.  Thank goodness she finally caught the attention of just one, because it’s a book I would recommend to anyone and everyone.

4.)   Jane Pauley – I grew up watching her on NBC’s The Today Show, and her simple beauty and love of being a journalist fed my love of words. Recently she has spoken openly about her bipolar disorder, helping to overcome some of the stigma surrounding the illness.

3.)   Maya Angelou – A woman who has overcome childhood trauma and used it to help others overcome through words.  And the poem Phenomenal Woman? I need say no more. Simply phenomenal.

2.)   Mother Teresa – I don’t even know where to begin with explaining what this amazing Godly woman has taught me.  She was the most perfect role model of grace, humility, and demonstration of love. Her simplicity and selfless service to others knew no bounds.

1.)   The first and most influential woman in my life would be my mother.  She has taught me that hard work, faith, and dedication are the keys to success.  She has taught me that taking care of and being present for my own family is the greatest gift I can give, and that to serve and follow Christ, I need not travel to another country to do so, but it starts in my own home.  And she has taught me that laughter and joy are key to aging gracefully.

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