Friday, August 24, 2012

What It Doesn't Mean (VII/XII)

This spot in life might not be where you want to be. The day in day out might look so far from what you imagined 5, 10, 15 years ago. But that doesn't change the fact that you are woman. With an identity and a mission. It just might not be the mission you dreamed of.


But it's still your mission.

If this is you, you're not the only one who's doing something they didn't think they would. I'm working 12-hour shifts as a staff nurse in Labor and Delivery at a Level II hospital. (Whoever thought delivering babies well into your 20's as a single woman was a good idea? Is it sadistic or just plain sad to be helping everybody else welcome their new little bundles of joy into the world?) Oftentimes I still wonder why I'm not pulling organic hand-kneaded buns out of the oven instead of the wriggling crying ones I see every day. Oh, working in a bakery would be so much less stressful (and the fulfillment of a about it here and here). And yet God made it clear this was my assignment (more on that decision here).

As you can tell, my current place in life isn't exactly where I imagined I would be. In my head, it actually looked very different. In fact, there are almost daily experiences that make me want to throw a temper tantrum on the floor like a spoiled child. But I don't. It won't do me any good. It would undoubtedly be a humorous scene for those around me, but in reality I would be quite foolish. Can you imagine? A grown adult, screaming and kicking her legs, writhing mad at the truth that she isn't getting her way and she isn't the only thing existing on the earth? What a sight! It's a sight I've pondered making into a reality all too often. But instead of that victim mentality, I am asked to step up into the full weight of my identity (defined in this previous post). This looks nothing like a temper tantrum. Instead it is a call to arms, an invitation to stand and live in the reality that there is more to life than me. Let's be honest, the women of the Bible are anything but selfish, sinful sure, but far from selfish. Far from acquiescent female creatures who do what the world tells them. (If you need proof and even if you don't, read about these incredible women: Ruth, Leah and Rachel, Esther, Tamar, Sarah, Anna, Mary...)

Another woman in history stands out as unselfish. Sojourner Truth, the African-American abolitionist and women's rights activist, "wasn't protesting chivalry toward women because she scorned gentility or disparaged the finer things in life. She was, however, challenging popular notions of what it means to be a woman. Her objectives were borne from a deep inner conviction that in this broken world being a woman often means doing hard things, straining your muscles, and tackling messy problems that aren't listed in books about true femininity and may actually be repudiated by them. Sometimes God even calls us to do things that violate our personal list of what we consider 'appropriate activities' for ourselves as women, but which are nevertheless a woman's calling. Sojourner Truth was an ezer...she unflinchingly entered any battle Jesus summoned her to fight and did so with every ounce of womanly strength she possessed. She believed embracing the challenges God presents can never diminish our womanhood or femininity, no matter what others (or our own inner voice) may tell us." (1)

So, apparently, our identity doesn't mean we can throw temper tantrums.

"Sometimes the battles before us aren't what we expected to be doing with our lives, much less what we expected to be doing as women. The backbreaking work Ruth did all day was hardly the feminine occupation she envisioned for herself. But she was doing God's work - preparation, dirty and broken fingernails, rough surrounding, and all - and she did it with all of her might, her resources, and her wit. Ultimately, her bold initiatives bless God's people, challenging them to contemplate what it means to live as Yahweh's people, and Ruth herself becomes a powerful catalyst for change." (2)

Blessing God's people? A catalyst for change? Those are certainly things worthy of my striving.

"God gave us Ruth and Sojourner Truth to remind us that courage, boldness, and godly leadership are important feminine attributes when it comes to living for God. When we swim upstream against culture; use our voices to speak the truth; advocate stubbornly for others; and sweat, toil, and strategize to advance God's kingdom on earth, we are doing woman's work." (3)

Here's to a life of sweat, toil, and strategizing. Take the focus off myself. Serve others. This life isn't about me anyway. And one of the best parts? We never have to do it alone. If there's anything I've learned in community, it is the joy of living life together, striving to seek His will in our lives, together. It's a beautiful thing.

Songs that have met me on this stage of the journey:
My Desire - Jeremy Camp
Marchin On - OneRepublic

1. Carolyn Custis James, The Gospel of Ruth (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008), p.91-2.
2. Ibid., 105.
3. Ibid., 105-106.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What It Means (VI/XII)

In my first post, I mention that singlehood has brought me the closest to God and yet challenged my knowing Him as my Father and Lover of my soul. There are many times in my life I've wanted to ask the question "Why?" Why not now? Why not this one? Why am I the only one who's missing out?

It's time to get real honest again here. In the wake of the tears accompanying those questions, I found something. Or rather SomeOne. I never know when the moment will hit. Sometimes I'll feel it coming on for a few days. Other times it hits me faster than you can say "I do." It could be a silly love song. It could be that romantic comedy I've seen a million times. It could be the couple I see a few feet in front of me, walking hand in hand. It could be that decision of where to take my car to get it fixed. Do I move here or there? It could be the moment I crawl in bed, weary from a long day, with no one to debrief, no on helping to warm up the sheets. And in these moments "[w]e want the Bible to tell us that God loves us so dearly he cannot bear to see us suffer; we want him to stand between us and adversity. When we're in trouble, we want to know he's on his way at warp speed - a divine paramedic laden with soothing balm for our aching souls and the healing power to fix what's wrong...It's quite a shock to discover God is here already..." (1)

Nicholas Wolterstorff, after the death of his son wrote, "I am at an impasse, and you, O God, have brought me here...From my earliest days, I believed in you. I shared in the life of your people; in their prayers, in their work, in their songs...For me your yoke was easy. On me your presence smiled. Noon has darkened...And where are you in this darkness?...Or is it not your absence in which I dwell but your elusive troubling presence?" (2)

James (again from The Gospel of Ruth) elaborates on the unique opportunity in suffering. She says, "Suffering is a sacred meeting place between God and his child, where faith is fighting to survive and God's goodness comes into question. Throughout biblical history, God used infertility to pull his distressed daughters aside and engage them at a deeper level. Through suffering, God led them on a descent into darkness, doubt, and despair - foreboding, mysterious places we would never go by choice, but where God inevitably leads us. In the darkness we strain our eyes, searching for signs of him. We listen intently for the slightest movement that will tell us he is near. The barren women tell us he is here - in this dark place, in the middle of the mess, and in the depths of our despair. This is where childless women discovered things about God they would not have seen 'dry-eyed' and where they came to acknowledge a staggering level of dependence on him that was informed by their barrenness. Perhaps the biggest (and most unexpected) gift these barren women give us is a glimpse in their mirror to see our own faces reflected back. Their barrenness is not just a connecting point with other women who happen to be infertile too. At a fundamental level, their barrenness relates to all of us." (3)

It's in those moments, the moments of pain, suffering, or sadness, sometimes lying in fetal position in my bed, crying out to my God, that I have come to know Him in the most intimate of ways. I have literally felt His arms around me. I have heard his Words, speaking truth into my soul. No one else can experience this for me. It's not something someone else could go through and teach me or tell me about. It has to be my own. This is personal, and our God is relational. That means He and I are connected, in a relationship unique to any other, by His amazing grace through the death of His Son. No one can make it exist or nurture it for me. It is His and mine. And so these moments, painful as they are, reveal more of God to me. They bring me to Him and beckon me to know Him in deeper ways.

"The isolating nature of her sufferings meant a woman could no longer lean on someone else's theology." (4)

So press in. Learn more about Him.

Proverbs 2:1-8, NIV

My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just, and protects the way of his faithful ones. 

Proverbs 3:13-18, NIV

Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who embrace her; those who lay hold of her will be blessed. 

He created you, gave you a magnificent identity, and has plans - unique and perfect plans - for you. He's not going to just remove the hurt, but walk with you through it. Allow God to reveal Himself to you. Trust me, I know from experience that He will. It will make you smile, often through the tears. Sometimes you might laugh at the surprise of how well He knows you. (Read about it in Psalm 139.) He will send you love messages no one else could have ever created. Messages specific to you. He'll show you things no friend, book, song, or sermon could tell you. That kind of knowledge is priceless.

Then, in future moments you will have your own knowledge of Him to lean on.

And He will never let you down.

~Musical selections that have met me in this stage of the journey:
     Blessings - Laura Story
     When The Tears Fall - Tim Hughes

1. Carolyn Custis James, The Gospel of Ruth (Grand Rapids; Zondervan, 2008), p. 83. 
2. Ibid, 83-83.
3. Ibid, 85.
4. Ibid, 82.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Ladies: Our Identity (V/XII)

Genesis 2:18-23, NIV

The Lord God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper (ezer kenegdo) suitable for him." Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman,' for she was taken out of man."

This, dear women, is the beginning of our identity. We were created as a suitable helpmate for man. And man's response to woman? Poetry! He speaks the first words of poetry in the Bible. After seeing and naming all the animals, his eyes landed on something that resonated deeply with him.


Created by God. Defined by God.

Carolyn Custis James says in her book, The Gospel of Ruth, "God created women to be his image-bearers - to know him, to become like him, and to represent him in their interactions with others. As theologians, Naomi and Ruth understood that the world revolves around God. Their mission is to center themselves on him - to trust him and to advance his kingdom. They do that as ezer-warriors, fighting battles he places in their path. God has created women to be warriors, and he stations us on all sorts of battlefronts every day of our lives...Furthermore (and this is where Boaz comes in), the Blessed Alliance - God's design from creation that men and women join forces in serving him together - is alive and well in the book of Ruth." (1)

What's an ezer? It's a Hebrew word used to describe a warrior. It's the word God uses to describe woman in the aforementioned passage from Genesis. A warrior. Strength. Might. And all those good things. Women are...ezer-warriors.

But what happens when that man isn't a part of our lives yet? What then? We were created to be his helpmate, but we can't very well help him if he isn't a part of our lives. What becomes of our identity then?

The answer again is found in Scripture, if but we would look a bit closer. James sheds light on this again, "When widowhood or anything else alters a woman's life, the center of her identity doesn't disintegrate, for she is not defined or redefined by circumstances, relationship, her resume, or public opinion. God defines her. If you looked up 'woman' in God's dictionary, you'd find the definition he set down as he drew up plans for the very first woman. He defined the woman as follows: 'Image-bearer: created in God's image and likeness; called to be fruitful and multiply, to rule and subdue.' It is the same kingdom definition that he gave to the man. It ascribes to them the highest value imaginable. God does not have a separate definition for widows or a widow footnote outlining an image bearer hierarchy, where the widow drops to the bottom. According to God's definition, she is right up there with everyone else. Widowhood does not downsize her God-given responsibilities or demote her from her exalted image bearer calling. There's a kingdom to build, vast enemy territory to reclaim. With a task this size, God is not about to sign off on any ezer-warrior's retirement or leave of absence...She remains on active duty for him." (2, boldface/emphasis added)

Now, go back and read that excerpt again, this time replacing "singlehood" and "single woman" with every reference to "widowhood" and "widow."

Just as the widow remains on active duty, I believe the single woman enters active duty before she enters a marriage. There is a kingdom to build. God is equipping and using His daughters - single, married, or widowed - now. He doesn't create us, fashion us in our mother's womb, know the number of hairs on our head, perceive our thoughts, and love us unconditionally just to set us aside. Until. Until we meet the man of our dreams. Until we become mothers. He has a plan, a purpose, a mission for us right here, right now.

"A woman's high calling as God's image bearer renders her incapable of insignificance, no matter what has gone wrong in her life or how much she has lost." (3)

You are significant. Did you catch that? You are an image-bearer of God, set apart from the beginning of Creation to bring Him glory. What a magnificent identity!

~Musical selection(s) that have met me in this stage of the journey:
     Beautiful Things - Gungor
     I Will Show You Love - Kendall Payne

1. Carolyn Custis James, The Gospel of Ruth (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008), 31.
2. Ibid, 64-65.
3. Ibid, 66.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Owning It (IV/XII)

A few months ago, I wrote a friend after reading her blog where she shared her and her husband's journey through infertility and adoption. I sensed the weight of emotion and heartache and wanted to encourage her somehow. In that message I explained that I wasn't married or trying to have children, but heard her struggle and understood part of it in some way. She responded back with "Any deferred hope makes the heart sick! I think the pain of infertility transcends babies and relates to any unmet desire."

I pondered her words. Did I agree?

After mulling it over, I finally rested on a yes. But part of me wanted to minimize singlehood. Minimize what I was feeling. Surely it isn't the pain of infertility. But in some way, there are ties. Again, from The Gospel of Ruth, Carolyn Custis James breaks down the main players in the book of Ruth: Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz. At the heart of the women's burden is widowhood and barrenness. Two things I don't directly struggle with. But I found myself connecting with just about every sentence as she described the significance of the battles facing these women, and women today. And I kept thinking, I know she's talking about widowhood, but this resonates with me! I have not lost a husband, but I have never found one either. There is something similar in that. I don't have a child, and although I am not trying to have one and don't find myself in the place of discovering I can't have one, at the end of the day...both woman's arms are empty. I understand this could be touchy territory here. I don't claim to know what it feels like to lose a husband or to hear the words "You can't bear children," but I do know what it feels like to never have experienced life with a husband and to never have carried a child inside my belly. There are aches that some things just can't fill. And so when I read my friend's words, I paused. She was giving me the freedom to feel this. To acknowledge this is real. 

Those who know me know I don't like drama. I may be female, but I loathe any amount of it. It feels irrational, emotional, out of control even.

I like even keel. I like composure. I like to keep myself in control. So in acknowledging singlehood for what it is, I feel I'm embracing drama as I wave the handkerchief to my forehead and sigh in a Scarlett O'Hara-esque sort of way (who by the way, may be uber dramatic but is also one tough cookie!).

But it is real. It is emotional. And it is out of my control. Denying that, and trying to bury it in the ground, doesn't do me any good.

Name it. Own it. And then deal with it.

~Musical selection(s) that have met me in this stage of the journey:
     Black Roses Red - Alana Grace
     Barren Land - Shane & Shane (I couldn't find anything more than just the lyrics)

Look for the next installment at the end of this week - the real meat and potatoes as we'll get to the heart of who we are as women...

Friday, August 10, 2012

Defining It (III/XII)

Spinster. Old maid. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride.

Sometimes Singlehood feels like a disease. Maybe we should call it Singlitis instead of Singlehood? And isn't it funny how compliments can often feel like daggers? One of my favorites: "I bet you have guys knocking down your door!" Well...I don't. Either they can't find it, they don't want to, or they walk up to it and read the invisible sign that says "buzz off." Somehow when someone makes that exclamation, I walk away wondering what's wrong with me instead of the guys. Go figure. Or how about the "Soooo, what's new?" And after me rambling on about work and family and mundane things in life, they go "Soooooooo, what else is new?" with a gleam in their eye, at which point I get to enlighten them about the lack of any news or changes in the boy department. Que: scarlet letter burning on my chest. So is it a disease? A season? A time? A calling? A lifestyle?

What. is. Singlehood?

Books I've read will describe it as the time to wholeheartedly and undistractedly serve our Lord and grow all you can. And while I don't disagree one bit, Singlehood has also been other things.

Part of me feels like Singlehood is a scarlet letter. Sometimes I feel a bit like Hester Prynne with a big letter "S" on my chest when I talk about how being single affects me. It comes out just about every time someone mentions their fabulous boyfriend, references their family, or discusses their experiences with parenting. I can't tell you how many sermons I have heard about marriage and family. How many weddings I've been to with no dancing partner.

I guess I was cursed after a particular conversation from high school. It was senior year and we were all sitting around the lunch table, several of my friends and I were discussing who we thought would be the first to be married with kids. Guess who it was? Yours truly. Welp, my 10 year high school reunion was a month ago. Most of those friends who once sat around the lunch table are married with kids. In fact, the one who said she never wanted to have children is expecting her first little one in just a few short weeks. Irony.

I think being single can often feel like a fragment. I only recently connected this word to what I was feeling. In Carolyn Custis James' fabulous (must read!!) book The Gospel of Ruth, I read these words about the way a widowed woman can often feel:

"Without a husband, she is half of a conversation. A fragment. The Ying without the Yang...But the messages that inform her of her diminished place in the world don't just come from inside. The outside world is sending signals that the world stops turning for the woman traveling through life alone." (1)

Ever felt that way? Like a fragment?

To be honest (and I promised I would be), when I see married couples interacting together, I feel like I'm missing out on something. Like there's this special language and I can't speak it. Like there's some fabulous undercurrent that I know is there, but no matter what I do, I can't reach it...because I'm single. I guess I feel like I'm missing out on something. Like I was created for more, and I can't tap into it yet. (Cheese warning here...) Like I'm a flower and part of me has started to open, but I won't fully bloom until I have this love. This hope that there is someone who will enter into the most intimate relationship on earth that I will ever know. When that hope becomes a reality, then and only then will I be in full bloom. Until then, my growth feels stunted. And that makes me a little bit sad. There's a song by The Wilkinson's called "The Only Rose." Every time I hear it, it brings tears to my eyes. It talks about a little redheaded, freckled girl who would give anything to look differently. Her mother says to her:

There's a million stars 
In the summer sky
And each one has its name
There's a million snowflakes 
In the wintertime
But no two are quite the same
And there's something 
You can't see right now
But one day girl you'll know
In a field that's full of daisies
You're the only rose

It's just that this rose, in Singlehood, feels more like a scarlet letter than a rose of the same color.

1. Carolyn Custis James, The Gospel of Ruth (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008), 58.

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Years That Keep on Giving (II/XII)

First, a little bit about me and my story, my years of Singlehood...

I read Joshua Harris' I Kissed Dating Goodbye as a 13-year-old. Some might argue that's when my problems began. Whether that's true or not, I will never know. What it did do was solidify in me a commitment I wasn't willing to budge on. (I was also in a Bible study at the time: Kay Arthur's Someday, A Marriage Without Regrets...interesting start to my teen years...) Harris' book helped shape my standards and gave me confidence to keep them. Is it the end all be all book for dating? Most likely not (and believe me, I've read more than a few). But for me at that age, it was certainly beneficial. Although, it did prompt my mom to ask the question, "How are you going to get married if you kiss dating goodbye?" If I had to be honest, I think she still blames that book for me being single today. This series is not a dating guide - I think you might want to consult someone who has successfully navigated those not me! I have spent all of my life (save 9 months) as a single person. Several dates. One 9-month relationship. And no, it wasn't horrible - it didn't scar me from ever being in a relationship again. It was good. I learned a lot from it. And I'm grateful for it. I'm just saying I'm not the one to seek advice from on dating.

One of my mentors actually said to me, in those early years of processing what this would look like, "Erin, you'd better get a cat." Upon my inquiry as to why, she responded with, "Because you've got years of loneliness ahead of you and you're gonna need a companion on those lonely Friday nights." It was a humorous way of encouraging me. She wasn't trying to tell me which way was right or wrong. But she did affirm what God was speaking to me. She encouraged my best friend and me by showing us the silver goblets from her wedding. Shiny beautiful pure silver goblets. She said we were the goblets. Precious women that were worth waiting and fighting for. I cannot tell you how many times over the years I have remembered those stinking goblets and wanted them to maybe be a little less precious. Only because it's been a long wait. And continues to be. Yet, I find myself continually grateful for those words of encouragement spoken so many years ago that are still written on my heart.

Fast forward to high school. I remember listening to Rebecca St. James' "Wait For Me" and declaring it my anthem (anyone else???). I've kept up with her a bit through the years and respected her vocal stance on abstinence and her commitment to prayerfully wait on the right one. I had the joy of belting that anthem at her concert one Valentine's Day in college. (I was probably also thinking something along the lines of Wouldn't it be cool if my future-husband was here right now in this very same arena belting this song and thinking about me? Wow, I really was a dork. And if you're a guy who's claimed this as your anthem, I salute you. But you might want to instead consider a few songs with a bit more testosterone in their lyrical prose: Bebo Norman's "Perhaps She'll Wait" or Michael Buble's "Haven't Met You Yet" or even Daniel Bedingfield's "Right Girl" - this one in particular would win you serious props.) But I've always thought Man, I really want Rebecca - yes, we're on a first name basis - to find her husband. I mean, I waited years. But she's waited yeeeears. The other day, I googled it - I joyfully discovered that her years of waiting are over - she joined the ranks of matrimonious living in 2011! Read about it here. Whew, now I can finally get married - I could hardly justify getting hitched before Rebecca St. James.

You'll be happy to know I never did buy a cat so I could sit at home and stroke its back. And if you, too, read about kissing dating goodbye and are curious about its jinxing power, fear not. My good friend who read it with me is now married and expecting her second child. So what did I do instead of mindless cat-stroking? I dove headfirst into friendship, community, fellowship, serving, and traveling. Let me tell you, it has been one mighty fun road. I have memories and stories galore. It has been lonely as heck at times. But I wouldn't trade it for the world. Seriously, I am grateful for each step of the way. They have helped refine me by teaching me more about myself, more about the way the world works, more about my mission here in this world. And yes, it has also taught me about Singlehood. More than I ever wanted to know.

Friday, August 3, 2012

My Scarlet Letter (I/XII)

Ok, so in the next several posts I’m going to embark on a journey. I’d love for you to walk with me. It is a journey that has been weighing on my heart for a few months, maybe even years. I hesitate to be completely open about it. You’ll see why. It’s a huge area of vulnerability for me. And admittedly, a huge source of pain as well. It is something that has brought me the closest to God and at the same time challenged me in knowing Him as my Father and Lover of my soul. It has been something that has plagued me for years. My family knows about it. My friends know about it. My coworkers know about it. 
“It” Singlehood.
It’s about time I took it to the blog (is this anything like going to the mattresses?) and put it out there for everyone. Because if it’s something I could learn from, I hope and pray it’s something that you can as well. Maybe that’s why it’s still a reality in my life. Maybe it’s not supposed to be a private battle for me, as much as I would like it to be. So, here goes. I will be as honest as I possibly can, but this is huge for me. Like vulnerability to the extreme. 
I’ll tie in wisdom from outside sources where I can. I will pray each step of this journey. Undoubtedly, I will belabor every word. It’s in my very DNA to do so. I will also covet your encouragement and appreciate your honest feedback. I ask that you please be kind in your comments. I am not out to debate feminism. And I certainly can’t speak for all women. But I will share my heart. And how God has shaped and molded it throughout the years. It hasn’t always been an easy process (is it really ever?), but it is good. Because He is good. And He is still molding me - I pray He never finishes. So I welcome your feedback. If this journey resonates with you in any way, please share it. Post it on your Facebook walls, tweet it, email it to your friends, heck, print it out and tack it on any bulletin board you can find. I long for wounds to be healed. Aches to be lessoned. And God to be glorified. He created me, after all, and gave me a heart to share. I trust in His guidance, as much as I want to fight it. 
Having said that, I struggle with my credentials to even attempt to tackle something like this. I’m not a writer, well, only a self-proclaimed one. But, for what it’s worth, I did love my writing classes in college. And I have been single for just about all my life. I think that gives me some sort of credibility. 
And know that I won’t be able to address it all in one post (hence the series). I will be posting every few days. I may pose a question in one post that won’t be answered until a later one. So hold tight. Comment. Share your stories. Create dialogue. But know it’s not finished until the last one is up. I also don’t claim to have all the answers. Or the right ones. But I have my heart. I have God’s Word. Tons of resources. And basically a lifetime of being single. Literally.
So let’s tackle it: 

What it means to be a Daughter of God, living as a Single Woman in His Kingdom. 
Psalm 144:12 “May our daughters be like graceful pillars, carved to beautify a palace.