The Right Rights

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Right: a moral or legal entitlement to have or obtain something or to act in a certain way.
“she had every right to be angry”
entitlement, prerogative, privilege, advantage, due, birthright, liberty, authority, power, license, permission, dispensation, leave, sanction, freedom;

What are my rights as a Christian woman?

Since the early 1900’s, the world has been in a mass conflict over what “rights” women should naturally have as citizens of The United States. To list some -and i’m certain these aren’t all of the “issues of protest”- :
•working outside the homes
•equal pay for equal work
•owning property
•being issued loans
•to be viewed, treated, and accepted just as any man
•basically…the right to choose any “thing”

Now while i’m fairly certain as well that every single protest/rally/convention has not been composed of true God fearing and obeying women, I will safely assume that some have been held with women whom have at some point accepted the teachings and commands of Jesus.
Which for me…is THE actual issue at hand.

Do I appreciate my life in 2017? In the USA? In the perfect little small town of Belgreen? With a God fearing husband whom values and respects the commands and ordinances of his Father?
And more than anything yes.
So do I know the true physical struggles that others face in other areas of the world with other “types” of men? No. I do not. And now that that recognition is out of the way…on to the main 2 points of my writing.
1. As a soul -living inside a woman oriented vessel- I have submitted my own will (at a much later date than my baptism btw) and that MEANS more than a reserved for me seat on a church pew and Sunday ritual of showing up and then showing out. Let me interject that I do understand the purpose and value in those of like faith gathering together and the commanding God did for this…but I also see the twisted and robotic fashion in which this is carried out MOST everywhere. Not all – most. Returning to the point … one “thing” I have come to understand about being a woman of faith is my responsibility of living as one. Which coming from a place of years of serving myself and my own ego has been a challenge in itself. Submitting my life to the Savior of the world MEANS seeking/praying/obeying His will for me as a soul -living inside a woman oriented vessel- in His kingdom. And while that is as deep as it is wide, I am zoning in on the influence my life has on others. How do I present myself? How do I respect -or disrespect- my marriage? How do I parent? How do I treat others? How do I choose my hobbies? How do I show to the itty bitty portion of the world around me that I seek/pray/obey Gods will in my life? See, these are the decisions I make. The CHOICE I had to make was do I want to obey or do I not want to obey. And then after I made the CHOICE to obey…my rights surrendered into His commands. So when the questions arise like “how do I present myself?” and the others above, the answers don’t come from the world or myself. THE CHOICE I made to surrender then demands every decision to be made based on what He says. And what does He say about the presentation of a Godly woman? Loud? Obnoxious? Half naked? Glorified? How about a Godly woman in her marriage? First? The head? The provider? The decision making authority? Degrading? How about a Godly mother? How about a Godly woman servant of others? How about a Godly woman’s activities? See the pattern. The choice I made to become a daughter of God instead of a daughter of the world’s prince of deception -satan- means that my choices reflect His commands. Not mine. Not the worlds. My “right to choose” came at the moment of choosing to be His or to not be. And since I choose to be a daughter of the Most High…my choices in all aspects should reflect just that.
2. Believe me when I say that I KNOW what it is to be an independent, strong willed, capable, intelligent, goal oriented, very driven woman. I’ve been her. I’ve done the college days of semester hours worth of women in history and politics. I know the pleasures of being single and “powerful” and knowing how to use my appeal for my benefit. I know desire for respect and focus on career. So i’m not coming from a place of “you don’t know because you’ve never been there!” I’ve been in both positions and on both sides of the spectrum when it comes to choosing my dreams/goals/satisfaction and choosing to submit to God. And I just do not see where it is possible to mix the 2 and be pleasing to Him. I see where I can please myself and give Him a little of what’s left over -claiming to be “love Jesus” while fulfilling everything I want in life. So IF I am going to be a woman in Gods kingdom…do I get to choose limits on that? Do I get to say “I want a little Jesus and a little of my own way!”? Do I get to proclaim “my life is for Your work Lord” and then live/scream/protest that it’s my life and I can do whatever I want with it? That I have rights?! See what I see from the praying/seeking I talked about earlier is that Gods design was not for men and women to be the same…in their physical bodies/nature/roles. The value of our souls is the same. But what God intended for us is not. We are not equals. We each have purposes. We each have roles. We each have capabilities -some of which God did not give the other- that make us distinctly different. How many protests or marches have you known where men are holding signs that read “I demand to give birth!!” or “Aunt Flow better come see me!!!” or “I have breasts too so why can’t I feed my baby??!!” or “Men deserve equal pay for equal work!!” or “I should be allowed to be a stay at home mother!!” I’m NOT saying men have not/do not wish they could do the things women can do, because I’m certain some have/do…but can we just admit that instead of fighting and arguing and griping and protesting and screaming and degrading ourselves over what we WANT we would be better -and truer- servants of God IF we accepted His design and purposes and roles for us as women?! And men?!

So instead of becoming involved in a back and forth argument -which is usually composed of my thoughts/opinions vs your thoughts/opinions and gets no where- or protesting or marching or begging for “rights” which as Christians we simply just do not possess…
Why don’t we all just simply humble ourselves to accept Gods design. Why don’t we stop trying to align Him with us and align our lives to His will? Why don’t we search MORE for truth and less for evidence of why we’re “right”? Why don’t we understand that His way is so much better than any way we can come up with that -if we can’t already conclude- completely turns into chaotic mess?

I read an article today about “why I didn’t march” … a mom wrote to her baby girl. And of course it got me to thinking. My daughter is 15. My only daughter. What I pray for my life to reflect to her is less about what I THINK I have a right to do or what is fair and MORE of submission to what God says for me to accept as His will.

I can’t think of any right-er way to live for her.

The 4 word prayer

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These 4 words…easily spoken, easily thrown around, and easily “accepted” by every soul professing Christ.
Allow your minds to think about this sisters:

To offer -with body, mind, heart, and spirit- the ONLY thing that is truly yours (your will) to Him so that His will unfolds for your life is submission. It is powerful. It is life changing. It is hard. And so so worth it.
Sisters, let me nor anyone else ever fool you…uttering these 4 words to your Father -and accepting what comes next- will absolutely be nothing like you been taught. Let me explain…

When I see Jesus in the garden and He’s face down praying for another way for people to be saved (which was Gods will)..seeing and knowing the pain it would cause HIM (and He wanted there to be a another way-His own will)…He uttered these 4 words. From His heart. I imagine the trust He had in His Father was immeasurable and from THAT moment until His dying breath … He gained nothing physically. He didn’t blend in. He wasn’t compromising a little tiny bit so that people would accept Him. He didn’t do one single thing that benefitted Him physically. He wasn’t respected. He wasn’t defended. He wasn’t loved. He didn’t change The Plan for Him in any way that was “good” for Him. He had no pride. He didn’t SAY the 4 words and then LIVE His own way. He 100% accepted what that will was…
For Him to suffer. For Him to be withdrawn from. For Him to be ridiculed and mocked and condemned by “religious” people. For Him to be lied about. For His body to be beaten and His face spit on. For His friends to no longer know Him. For Him to suffer ALL of this for … me. And you.
But is that what we have been taught? Or have we fallen victim to a society of 12,693 religious teachings that sell a happy and comfortable and physical blessings and acceptance when one submits to God? Have we believed and accepted the worlds version of submission instead of the example that His Son laid out for us? Do we know what it means to truly love our husbands and our children? Do we even recognize what service is? What about modesty? Or purity? Self control? Are our minds set of being and doing and fulfilling the role of being taught by older women and teaching the younger women good things? Have we even considered what a gentle and quiet spirit is and why our Father is pleased with His daughters when this is characterized in their lives?

Do we know what we are saying when we utter “Thy will be done” ?

We as women in the kingdom are commanded to imitate the submissive character of Jesus. The Holy Spirit delivers the message to us that we as wives have a very powerful responsibility in living our lives showing our obedience by submitting to our husbands. The power in that is that he may be won to the Lord by this…we do not even have to say a word. Our conduct is observed and when that behavior is exhibited because of our desire to be like Jesus…the power that that has is it can save the soul of our husbands.

Jesus suffered for praying “Thy will be done” and then getting up and LIVING out that will. It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t praised. It wasn’t accepted. It wasn’t about Him. It WAS hard, and lonely, and scary, and judged, and weird, and so so different than anything else those people had ever witnessed. So. IF you, my sweet sisters, offer this same 4 word prayer from your soul and mean it…

Will your life be any different than Jesus’?
Know your purpose. Accept His will. Be a soul who loves and appreciates and values its womanly exterior and LIVE a life of submission to His will just as Jesus did…live a life of purity and kindness and love and mercy and service -especially when you aren’t praised and loved and admired for it- because in doing this, you live the life that Jesus lived when He defined submission. And for that short time frame -in the grand scheme of time- He suffered. BUT His eyes were fixed and His soul trusted and His faith was never stronger that the PROMISE His Father had made Him was just beyond that suffering. He knew that by living this submitted life to His will was going to save every soul who accepts Him and follows Him. He knew it was worth it. He knew that place of rest and reward was just beyond the lying, mocking, doubting, beating, and nailing to His cross. It is for us as well sisters.

So my advice, based on the last 3 years of life experiences -physically- is this: do not utter this 4 word prayer if you do not mean it. And if you do mean it, find and rely on your sisters who have submitted their wills as well to His and find strength renewal and a source of uplifting to continue in the short while you must suffer for being obedient. There will be people and times when you are praised…my husband admires and encourages and respects my willingness to surrender my will to what Gods will is for me but I have women who hate me for the same. Our calling is to set the example of Jesus in which God has commanded us -no more no less- and our obedience to that calling is noticed. It is observed.
And it is powerful.

And you are not alone in your submission.

When “Miss Popular” became “UNpopluar”

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1993. Sitting in Mrs. Keeton’s English class probably daydreaming about a boy (didn’t we all?) and over the loud speaker I hear the following:
“We would like to announce this Senior class’s ‘Who’s Who’…’Most Popular’ Tressa Hovater and ____________’…”
And just like that I was forever known as “Miss Popular!”
Well, forever is stretching it. More like for the next couple of months and especially during the photo session for the annual when “Ok, so Most Popular is next” was announced. And for your viewing pleasure…I am sharing that photo:

I was your perfect picture of “Popular but for no material reasons what-so-ever!” I did not drive the new car of the day, I did not have the name brand clothes, or shoes, or vacations, or the most money in the snack room. I never not had what I needed…food, clothes, and a warm bed…but I never had “the best of everything” like so many around me did in the fashion/car/stuff categories. My first car was a 1982 Mercury EXP (in 1992), I shared clothes with my mother/sister, I had ONE pair of Guess jeans (you my age people know what this is) that I got for my 16th birthday, and my first pair of brand new Nikes came when I was in college. Soooo, I was NOT “that” girl. I was all but her. The outfit that I am wearing in this picture was my mother’s. That is just hilarious to me. She was a good mother to let me wear her clothes.
I was simple. I was generally in a good mood every day at school. School was my “escape” from the crazy unknown at the time bi-polar world I was living amongst. And I was happy there. I could be myself and laugh (yes I was loud then too) and make the posters for the basketball season (I was a cheerleader…not a “yay go me” one but a “if you’re gonna play basketball, then you’re gonna cheer too” one and I was GOING TO PLAY BASKETBALL. I loved it. Heck, I still love it. I get plum cray cray come “March Madness” season. Brackets er’where. Anyway…I loved my high school days. They were good to me. I had friends and great teachers and great teams and some of the best happenings of my days. I of course had the “high school boyfriend” on/off/break up/hate/love/best/worst/learn/stupid story of my very own. He and I are still very good friends actually so it was not as “typical” as most I guess. I had some of the best guy friends anyone could ever hope to have…8 of which were in my wedding as groomsmen and 21 years after graduation, I still could/can call at any minute and they’d each be right there for me. Of course, my husband who was one of those best guy friends in school says it’s because I married him and they are all his friends. Whatever TJ. Whatever. Lol
College life was not much different for me. I still did not have the great and awesome car (had my sister’s 1991 Maroon 4 door Escort at this point) but I was super proud that I was paying for it. Paid it off actually. Then a WHOLE MONTH of NOT having a car payment then B.A.M. T-Boned by a man running a stop sign. Yay me. I seriously write like I talk and therefore one little description of my life leads me to tangents…I know. It’s distracting. I get it. Apologies.
Soooooo, I experienced pretty much the same thing(s) in college as I did high school. I never brought any great material gifts to anyone at anytime but I never had a problem “fitting in.” I never joined a sorority but attended plenty of frat parties. I sang with a popular local band at several little bars and events. I dated whomever I wanted. I was liked by all but one college professor…he was a straight up self proclaiming male chauvinist who did not believe that women should be in the Political Science department of study. Therefore, I was not favored by him in the 831 classes I had under him. Maybe the sarcastic very loose lipped call you out in a second personality I had then may have had a teeny tiny bit to do with it. For example…he was attempting (and I use that term very loosely) to draw for us the process of “How a Bill becomes a Law” right?! And we are talking about chalk board days. Which, for those who messed up and use an eraser to erase said mess up and start over, was fine. Yet he would mess up, smear the chalk with his hand, and keep writing. And within a 49 second roundabout session of this topic there was nothing but a HOT MESS on that board…and MAN I wish that term had’ve been created back then cause I woulda used it at that very second…so I, being just as disgusted as the rest of the closed mouth class, slammed my pen down on my desk and said (code for OUT LOUD) “THIS is ridiculous. Can you please just erase this crap and start over?!” To which he totally ignored my sweet and appropriate request and continued to just cloud up that blackboard. Lovely. He also taught a Political Equations” class required for my degree and at the end of the semester asked for suggestions for teaching this the next spring (he was fresh out of PhD school) to which I wrote on the suggestion paper “Um yes. How about you get a new teacher for the next class. One who knows what in the crap he/SHE’s doing.” He was the ONLY B I had that LAST semester. 21 hours…7 classes…POLITICAL SCIENCE…and THAT class taught by him was the only B I had. An 89.6 and he left it 89. I was also the only woman in that class. I’d like to slap him. 15 years later. Lol
So comes marriage. Then the baby carriage. And all along these times of my life…I am pretty well liked. I carried “Most Popular” well. Sure I had people who hated me…but most of that mess was boy related. And as I look/think back on all.that.time. I only have a few, and when I say a few I mean a few, times that my Christianity was ever an “issue.” Once was in high school a guy asked me “Why do all you Church of Christ people think you are the only ones right?” And he was not asking in a harsh or mean way. He sincerely wanted to know my answer. So I gave the best one I knew to give: “Well, all I know is that everything we do as a church, I can find you book/chapter/verse for why we do them.” Sounded good. Pretty sure I had heard that taught to me in a lesson before. And the other was I had a college professor who was an Atheist. First and only true one I have ever known. His mother passed away when he was 15, he was an only child, and he said the day she died he had been praying to God to heal her. These were his words to me to explain why he did not believe that God exists: “when her spirit left her body…I saw it go out the window. And my belief in God when right out with it.” He was a believer that we as humans “made up” the notion of a God, heaven, afterlife, no pain, tears, etc. to make ourselves feel better. That in all reality, when we die, we are just dead. Nothing else. And because we “don’t like that notion” we created this story that has been passed down for generations so that we do not have to feel that we are nothing. When you really ponder this…it seems feasible. And because he knew that I was a Christian, a loud/outspoken/not afraid of a good conversation Christian at that, he would call me out sometimes. Example: (he was a political science professor as well) “So in the process of voting/choosing for the President…if you only have 2 choices, maybe 3, in whom you did not choose to be the candidates…are you really getting your choice? Kind of like with the Bible. God says ‘you do it my way or else’ so is it really a choice? Tressa. You’re a Christian. Tell us then, do you really have a choice?” Things like that. He loved it. I was always willing to just open my mouth and let it out. I was his favorite Christian because I was so much like him. Raw, hard, cold, calloused, outspoken, not afraid, and with all of that…very likable.
So I say alllllllll of that exhausting life history to make the point that popularity came easy. It was not sought out, it was not desired, it was not accomplished by denying my faith. I was a popular girl. Through high school, college, marriage, babies, all things life I have been very fortunate to have been liked by many many folks. In the congregations we have been members of, our family has been received and loved and “fit right in.” I have been a woman who, even though I have that rough and cold and harsh side, has never had a problem having friends. And believe me, I am not telling you this to be boastful/prideful/arrogant…I am simply stating “how” my life has been…as a person AND as a Christian. See, what I realize is this:
I have been “Most Popular” as a person…as the Christian I was…but now, the Christian woman I am…is so UNpopular.

“What do you mean ‘unpopular’ Christian woman Tressa?”
From what I have diligently studied at the feet of my husband for the past 2 1/2 years, the Christian woman of the world standards is VERY different from the Christian woman of the Bible standards. The biblical portrait of a God fearing and Jesus following woman, from what I gather, leaves NO impression she was:
Career eager
Hungry for equality
Desiring to be seen/known
In control of her husband
Self absorbed
These are clearly ALL things the world tells us we should be…have to be…want to be in order to be respected/successful. And as long as I was intermixing the two concepts ~a little Christian and a little worldly I was popular. And liked. And accepted. However, the decision to be less like the popular and liked and accepted Tressa and MORE of the Christ like, God fearing, obedient, submissive and obedient woman of faith Tressa has caused a much different outcome when it comes to my popularity.
I am not.
And I could not be any more satisfied that the world is no longer my desired accepted version of me. Jesus is. Being the woman who honors and follows and obeys His commands for me is. I read and study and pray to be just as His word reveals to me how I should be. And so many of my “friends” and dear sisters in Christ have abandoned, shamed, and condemned me for doing so. A local congregation even went so far as to publicly announce that my daughter and I are lost and condemned…simply because we are starting from scratch and studying and obeying simply from the Lord’s instruction. Our obedience is no longer at the understanding of a “name” of a religious group. Because when you are faced with obeying a man made organization of believers who are set in their ways of worship/obeying and it comes to a “you will do as we tell you to do or else” verses what the scripture simply reveals…the choice is truly simple. Or it should be. Just be warned that when you are truly convicted to be a simple Christian, you will be complicatedly labeled as a “lost soul.”
That sounds crazy huh?! Yeah, I would say my popularity has been stripped of me. L.O.L But thanks be to God that being obedient to HIM is finally the goal and not being recognized as “Miss Popular.”
That truly never fit me anyway.