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Showing posts from 2007

Early Childhood

I should be writing Christmas cards... but I've had the impulse to write something for the tragically neglected "Secret Women's Business".After discussion with Penney about the "10-20-30" meme I began to reflect a little more on my personal and spiritual formation... the influences of people, culture and experience on my "raw temperament" if you like.Educational experts tell us that early childhood experiences are the most formative of all experiences. Is the world a safe place? Are people safe? How do I communicate? These earliest experiences go deepest into our psyches... but of course, chances are we will remember nothing of these experiences.I was born into a loving family... and the "image of God" communicated to me via my parents was of power (they are big) and of love (they look after me.) I am interested in the power of "first liturgies". "Grace" before meals in my home was: "Make us truly tha…

Where were you 10, 20, 30 years ago?

Some time ago "Abisomeone" tagged me with the "10-20-30 meme", inviting me to share what I was doing 10, 20 and 30 years ago.I seem to have had trouble writing posts lately (busy!) but tonight I'm stuck at home waiting for the carpet man. Torrential rain on Monday came pouring in to my house down the walls as the gutters overflowed. I tried steam cleaning the carpets, but finally gave up tonight and rang the insurance company. They wanted to send out a carpet man straight away… therefore one rang me at 10.30 pm to inform me he was just leaving Werribee to come to my house in Croydon. (that has to be AT LEAST an hour's drive in my opinion… I'm in for a late night.)So I have time to kill, and at last, I will share of my experiences… 10 years ago I spent most of my time looking after my gorgeous first son Daniel, a very cute just-turned one year old. I had recently been appointed as women's ministry coordinator for Churches of Christ Vic/T…

Issues for women in leadership III - healthy boundaries

"Finding Healthy Boundaries" is an issue with a lot of resonance for me.The reason this issue sets off bells ringing is because I experienced severe burnout last year. A caring friendship evolved into something that was so overwhelming and demanding and painful that something in me finally snapped. I've now been left with the effects of post traumatic stress and anxiety. This still feels like something that is foreign to me, as I have a naturally placid temperament. (I was one of those smiling "easy" babies). I had no idea what was happening to me when my first panic attack hit... all I knew was I was shaking all over and couldn't stand up.This experience made me realise that if burnout can happen to me (naturally laid back soul that I am), it can happen to anyone. This is a really difficult issue to balance as a Christian. Part of the life of discipleship is caring for others, part of the life of discipleship is going the extra mile, part of the life of di…

Democratic reformation

Well, the election is over. Democracy has done its job, we have a new government, and we have a new prime minister. We have a new prime minister who is a bit of a nerd, really... when his colleagues use words to describe him like "formidable intellect" and "incredibly hard working and disciplined" you know that nerds are taking over the world. I think there is consensus having the election over is a good thing. I was one of the volunteers at the school barbeque yesterday dispensing sausages in bread for $2 a pop (if we're all going to be forced to vote, the local primary school may as well take advantage of it). There was much muttering around the barbeque about the amount of money spent (wasted!) on advertising during the election campaign... and all the better ways this money could have been spent. I've decided the following rules should be imposed on all political parties:Political TV ads should be banned. They're annoying.Radio ads sh…

Women and Food

Let's face it... many women have a complicated relationship with food. We not only buy it, cook it, serve it, eat it... we worry about it. We worry about adequate nutrition... probably not unreasonably in a world of intensive agriculture, cold storage, and processed foods choc-laden with sugar, salt, fats, artificial colours, flavours and preservatives. Food can also be an enemy. Women's magazines are full of 12-year-old girls made up to look like adult women, anorexic models, and hips and thighs artifically "airbrushed" off cover girl photos. Thin is beautiful, apparently, and food is the enemy of "thinness". The multi-billion "diet" industry, and the absurdly high rates of eating disorders among women in the West is testament to the sinister nature of the "thin is beautiful" dogma.But food is one of life's great pleasures. Food makes us feel good. Food makes us feel comfortable. Food is not only a necessity: it is designed to be en…

Does this pulpit make my butt look big?

This blog is about to get WAAAY too personal but... well... ahem... I am reasonably well endowed in the chest area. (not by modern silicon standards of course). This means I've learned to be careful about what I wear... ie no printed slogans across the chest, beware of buttons that might gape, avoid clingy clothes. When I was younger I was known to have conversations with men that were entirely directed to my breasts... a most disconcerting experience. So I've learned to err on the side of discretion. Which is why when on a casual cruise through revgalblogpals (http://revgalblogpals.blogspot.com/) I was somewhat taken aback by their promotional tee-shirt, which has a slogan titled: "Does this pulpit make my butt look big?" strategically emblazoned across the chest area (http://www.cafepress.com/blogpals.26660224) Now women have had a long struggle (that still goes on!) to be seen as competent rather than decorative or sexy. Women in ministry in particular h…

Young and Credible?

I have had a couple of conversations lately about the struggle to achieve credibility in some circles if you happen to be young and female.I remember myself being part of a church leadership team, and raising an issue over and over for about 6 months. Then one day a young man raised the same issue, and it was dealt with on the spot. My jaw had to be pretty much scraped off the floor with my astonishment.It's almost like if you raise an issue tactfully and sensitively, it can be completely overlooked when you are a young woman. On the other hand, if you are a young woman and raise an issue forcefully, you face a different but also problematic issue. I quote below from a young articulate woman (with permission, from another blog) who has observed a double standard on voicing opinions:'I think that I live in a world where it's ok for young men to have opinions, to be articulate, and to be interested in teasing out issues, while I and other young women with simila…

I'm really cranky now

I've been sent an email "meme" from Abisomeone:In a new blog post, list and write about the top 1 or 2 causes that simply make your palms sweat, your heart bleed, and send tears rolling down your cheeks. Make sure you tell everyone why this cause is so important to you as an individual.Human suffering makes me cranky… especially suffering that is avoidable, and that is a result of selfishness or malice.I cannot bear to think about mothers holding their children who are hungry or malnourished or ill… without any means to do anything about it.I am cranky about policies of rich and powerful nations that enrich themselves at the expense of the poor.I am cranky about Western economic "experts" who go to developing countries and advise: "You really need to increase your exports… how about increasing the production of sugar and cocoa and coffee and cotton"? So subsistence farmers are driven off their land, and agricultural products are exporte…

Issues for women in leadership II - multiple roles

The Virtual Abbess "Abisomeone" has suggested that rather than looking at the whole daunting list of issues for women in leadership, it would be more helpful to explore one issue at a time. That list again: -Grappling with multiple roles and competing priorities: mother, daughter, wife, friend, Christian leader.
-Finding healthy boundaries.
-Loneliness: there is a need for a supportive peer group outside the local church, having someone who can listen to confidential matters, someone safe to process difficult issues with.
-Finding women mentors and role models can be difficult, especially at more senior levels.
-Some church cultures can be stifling for women… some men have difficulty with women in leadership…. some women "put the brakes" on other women in leadership.
-Recognition, respect, affirmation.
-Internal barriers: "I can't do that", "women can't do that", perfectionist expectations, unrealistic expectations.
-"Invisible…

"Pathological Shoulds" II

I have been thinking more about "shoulds" over the past few days. It does seem to me if a "pathological should" is lurking in your psyche it's simply an unintended consequence of a normal healthy upbringing. When we are young, our mothers (or other primary carers) drill into us all kinds of norms, boundaries, and expectations. We should wash our hands after using the toilet. We should clean our teeth twice a day. We should not hit, yell at, call names to or generally abuse other people. We should listen when others speak. We should take turns. As we grow older other expectations are drilled into us: to cooperate with our teachers, to look after our things, to do our homework, to get a job, to pay our taxes. These kinds of expectations are necessary for our well-being and for the good of society. A child brought up with weak or chaotic boundaries is likely to turn into a sociopath. It is as if we need a certain amount of "law" internalized …

Colours, Cars, Coordination

I have been studying four-wheel drive vehicles over the past couple of days. I know... this is an embarrassingly superficial pastime and I don't think I can even explain it. Beyond noting my interest was captured recently by the silent irony of an ENORMOUS vehicle bearing a "Time to Act on Climate Change is NOW" sticker.I should explain that although my sons attend two different schools, both of their schools are near to elite (translation: high fee) private schools. I have decided that looming environmental catastrophe triggered by the greenhouse effect is not a high priority of the private school populace, judging by the proportion of large four-wheel drive vehicles in the vicinity. These vehicles generally lack all the ugly accruements of serious masculine four wheel drives: bull bars, roof racks, large aerials for the CB radio or satellite phone, rear trays, floodlights, ladders atop, authentic splatters of mud and even tow bars are not to be found on t…

Pathological Shoulds

Pat Greig, a psychologist in private practice, visited my MOPS (Mothers Of Pre Schoolers) group last week. She spoke on the topic of "pathological shoulds". She listed the following "shoulds" that commonly impact women:My performance should always be perfectI should never make mistakesI should always be productive in the use of my timeMy life should be easy and hassle freeI should always be in control over events in my lifeI should be slim, youthful and attractiveI should be competent and effective in everything I doI should be doing and achieving more than I amI should always be totally independentI should always be bright, positive and cheerfulI should be married or in a committed relationshipI should have a harmonious, loving supportive familyI should be a perfect parentI should be sexy and have high libidoI should be workingI should have a high status jobI should be witty, interesting and fun to be withI should like other peopleI should have lots of f…

Barbeque Rules

We are about to enter the barbeque season. Therefore it is important to refresh your memory on the etiquette of this sublime outdoor cooking activity.When a man volunteers to do the barbeque, the following chain of events is set into motion:Routine:1) The woman buys the food.2)The woman makes the salad, prepares the vegetables, and makes dessert.3)The woman prepares the meat for cooking, places it in a tray along with the necessary cooking utensils and sauces, and takes it to the man who is lounging beside the barbeque – beer in hand.4)The woman remains outside the compulsory 3 metre exclusion zone where the exuberance of testosterone and other manly bonding activities can take place without the interference of the woman.HERE COMES THE IMPORTANT PART:5)The man places the meat on the grill.More routine:6) The woman goes inside to organize the plates and cutlery.7)The woman comes out to tell the man the meat is looking great. He thanks her and asks if she can bring him another…

Men at Work

I work in an open plan office, and there is an expectation that everyone work reasonably quietly. And I understand all the theory behind this... interruptions at work decrease productivity; noise reduces concentration levels. I have (alas) a rather loud laugh, and I tend to talk loudly on the phone when someone at the other end talks loudly. I periodically get "the look" when I forget to restrain myself. I do try.
I have noticed, however, that all protocols about quiet do not apply to discussions about football. I had thought I would be free from this for the next few months. But no... apparently last week was draft week, coaches are finding new positions, funding has been released to develop the Punt Road Oval, and some footballer has been picked up by the police and deregistered by the AFL. I know this because these developments are apparently so exciting that full volume discussions in the middle of the office are completely justified. So are football observations yelled o…

Living in Community

I have just received an article from another Janet (McKinney) from Canberra and would love to share it with you. If you are new to the site, welcome... I encourage you to read the "Welcome" and the "How to Make a Comment" articles below before you post a response. A reminder too that if you want to return to the main page, all you have to do is click on the "Secret Women's Business" heading at the top. Happy commenting!Living in CommunityDriving to work in my new work clothes a couple of weeks ago, I was thinking –"Gee I love living in community".What!You don't see the connection.OK then, I will explain. I am now 4 dress sizes smaller than I was 12 months ago thanks to a gastric band, and some serious attention to diet and exercise.I love the changes that are happening, but it poses a problem with clothes.It is rather expensive to replace an entire wardrobe of clothes, and more so when you realise that next winter I will hav…

Welcome to Secret Women's Space

In response to a lot of feedback we've recieved we've created a forum to discuss issues relevant to Christian women; issues about life, friends, family, hormones, leadership, work stuff, church stuff... anything really.I recommend that you use a nickname as your username, in order to protect privacy both of yourself and of the people you might be involved with. For example...you might want to share about how your mother is driving you crazy, or how your best friend is acting weird. You might want to ask for other's thoughts as to how to handle your less than empowering senior pastor, or the dysfunctional eldership in your church. If you have stayed anonymous, these kinds of issues can be discussed without your being slapped with a defamation suit! It's a small world and we want to protect the privacy of others while being able to share fully and openly ourselves. The format of web blogging provides a unique opportunity to really engage in some Secret Women's Busine…

How to Make a Comment

If you want to respond to a post, just look below it a click on the 'comments' link. Then you can type your response and it will automatically show on the page. We won't edit anyone's thoughts unless we get random comments that are offensive or what not from irrelevant users. The easiest way is to be anonymous as signing in can sometimes be a pain, and as mentioned earlier, anonymity can be a bonus.If you have a new topic for discussion that you want to make into a post just put it in as a comment and Janet will pick it up in a new post.If you have comments and feedback you don't want published you can email janet on jwoodlock@churchesofchrist.org.auPour yourself a cuppa and get talking!

Women in Leadership

In March this year Di Feldman facilitated a gathering of women in leadership, a combined Baptist and Churches of Christ initiative. At this event the question was posed: What are issues for Christian women in leadership?

This was, of course, like releasing the floodgates.

A selection of responses is included below:

-Grappling with multiple roles and competing priorities: mother, daughter, wife, friend, Christian leader.
-Finding healthy boundaries.
-Loneliness: there is a need for a supportive peer group outside the local church, having someone who can listen to confidential matters, someone safe to process difficult issues with.
-Finding women mentors and role models can be difficult, especially at more senior levels.
-Some church cultures can be stifling for women… some men have difficulty with women in leadership…. some women “put the brakes” on other women in leadership.
-Recognition, respect, affirmation.
-Internal barriers: “I can’t do that”, “women can’t do that”, perfectionist expectat…