Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Women Who Defy...

Jamie Jo is on her way back to Mexico this week. In order to give her a break, this week's content is provided by the sole respondent (thanks, Karin!) to her request last week to submit their nomination for a woman working cross-culturally that defied the missionary stereotype. Thank you, Diane, for nominating Lil in the comment section of last week's blog--she sounded like an amazing woman!

Here's Karin's nominee:

"Dear Lady"

Our years living in the village in Central Asia were not a beautifying experience for me physically. The water was scarce and hard, the weather had no grace. Summers were baking hot and winters freezing cold with very little heating. Life was primitive with not many body products for sale to smooth rough skin and quench dry brittle hair. If you were willing to haul some beauty products in your suitcase from abroad it could come...if you had the weight allowance.
I still smile at my interesting observation. When we ladies living and working there would come back from our trips from our home countries we would have the newest haircuts, cute clothes and shoes. We even put make-up on daily. Then as time passed, our beauty routines would slowly fade. The hairstyles would become a daily ponytail, the make-up lessened and the clothes would fade. It was the more natural look—at times even leaning towards looking somewhat neglected.

One day a dear lady came to our town. She gathered the women together for a time of visiting and sharing. I vividly remember us sitting in a circle around the typical low table with flat mattresses on the floor with green tea being served in round Chinese printed cups on a brightly printed plastic tablecloth.

She shared from her heart about her personal experiences and difficulties. Then she hit our hearts full on with these words; "In twenty years time you ladies are not going to be the beauties in the world. Your skin is going to be telling a story of many hot summers and cold winters. You would have probably suffered diseases and hardships. Life would have taken its toll on your age." We did not need to hear much more than this. I felt the tears welling up in my eyes. The lump in my throat testified to the truth of what she was saying, as I looked across the table, I did not see one person whose eyes were not full of tears. Life felt harsh, I did feel run down and the mirror did not lie. Yes, when last did I have a good haircut?

She continued: ”But God says you are going to be beautiful to Him in your hearts and souls. You would have walked a life of suffering and faith. You would have endured much. You would be strong in Him. You would be the spiritual giants of this world.” Some of us were wailing now. We were touched to the core. What a beautiful opportunity we had to share our hearts and longings that day to understand one another's needs. We prayed together and were comforted by the beautiful truth of this message.

She then played this song by a group called Delirious:

"FIND ME IN THE RIVER...find me in the river find me on my knees. I've walked against the water now I'm waiting if you please. We've long to see the roses but never felt the thorns and bought our pretty crowns but never paid the price.

Find me in the river; find me on my knees with my soul laid bare. Even though you are gone and I'm cracked and dry...

Find me in the river...I'm waiting here.

We didn't count on suffering we didn't count on pain but if the blessing is in the valley then in the river I will wait."

...see sidebar to click on the YouTube screen to hear it.

Looking back, now almost twelve years ago, I fondly but thoughtfully carry this message in my heart. I do think the weather and difficulties of life have taken its toll on my age and physique. But I do hope that one day I can look into the mirror of my heart and see myself as He sees me. It is true: physical beauty fades with time. But I do believe what lasts are those beauties in our hearts: the choice we make to forgive, to turn the other cheek, to walk the extra mile, to do without some things so someone else can have, giving to others from ourselves more than what we hoped or planned.

These things then would be the true jewels in our hearts.


  1. So beautifully written... and taken to heart this morning. Thank you.

  2. So very poignant and true. Thank you so much for taking time to share this with us. We can all relate to the faded clothes, outgrown hair, and no need or desire for make-up out on the field. What a beautiful reminder that our true radiance comes from inside, and that our service is so worth it! I second your nomination.

    In a way, your Dear Lady is so different from Lil, who is our other hall of famer, in that Lil inspired us, not with words, but by her actions, to keep the outside vessel looking as good as the inside, but both are remarkable and memorable ladies with a life message that inspires.

    Hats off to you, Karin, as well as your wise friend.

  3. This is a good reminder of the importance of our inner beauty...thanks for sharing this story and the song too. The Lord knew I needed to hear these words today.

  4. When I was a child on the mission field, there was a very old lady who worked with us. She had retired twice, but somehow kept sneaking back. She was very old, with a wrinkled, brown face and shiny white hair.

    I thought she was the most beautiful person I had ever seen. I told someone once, and they laughed. HER?! Then I tried to look at her as if she was a stranger once.

    I saw what they saw - a small, roundish, old lady with a face so wrinkled that she resembled a monkey and hair so white and thin that there was no hint of what it may have once been. Her body was indeed rather ugly.

    But they did not see what I saw. A lady that shone with love for all, with the delight of a child, with the interest in a young girl, with the wisdom to know what the Bible taught and the wisdom to listen when others spoke. Of a woman who had suffered and yet allowed it to make her more joyful. One who laughed uproariously at jokes and picked flowers for little girls. Who was quiet and calm even in crisis. And who loved us.

    She was a beautiful woman, one of the most beautiful women I have ever met.


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