02042016_AnnVoskamp_WeWereMadeToBe2

The gorgeous woman that had stood up there on stage with the microphone?

Yeah, she hikes up the side of her shirt to show the whole crowd of us how her white thigh spills thick over the elasticized waist of her pants.

And I’m sitting there wanting to know what Jesus thinks of women.

I’ve been rejected all of my life because of my size.

That’s what she says at this gathering of women I was once at.

The singer holds her milk white thigh right there and she’s vulnerable thin to the front row and to those at the back and I look down at my feet.

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She’s standing on a stage and she’s holding out her bare roll of skin, a baring of soul, holding out her cellulite.

She’s begging us to look in her eyes and why are we looking away?

There are thousands of women there were sitting under this roof holding out their hearts like empty cups.

They were right next to me — all these women rejected for the size of their pants, the size of their house, the size of their family, the size of their callings, the size of their work.

Women brushed off because they live too large or they live too small, because there is more of them than people know what to do with.

 Because they can’t or don’t or they won’t fit into someone else’s box.

Women who can’t make their faith just fit thin into their heads and these skinny lines of dry bullet points, but let their God-life roll over into their outed closets and messy stories.

Women who don’t only fit into these categories — mommy blogger, size small, housewife, single career woman, mother, retiree — because they are women made in the image of God and they are more. than. only. this.

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I look around at all these women, scarred and banged up and brave and still standing, and the singer is standing there a bit bare and all I can hear is their song.

All I can hear is the whole uncontainable song of this sisterhood of women and I see how their lives break the refrain and the whole place reverberates with a truth that rolls over . . . rolls like thunder.

Our God is the God of Hagar and Ours is the God who sees.

For the women forgotten and for the women discouraged and the women lost, there is water in the wilderness and He is our well and all. is. well.

Ours is the Savior who told women stories and this is serious theology — stories that were messy and large and in full color life: stories about a woman with a broom and He says she is the hero who lives good doctrine, the woman in her house seeking and finding the certain kingdom of God.

Ours is the Savior who sings of us, of the woman who won’t walk away from the unjust judge, the woman who will not walk away from the call, from the plea, the women who never give up, who just keep on keeping on — and He says she is honored and His, the woman who just keeps going and giving and believing in grace.

And God Incarnate, Son of Man in the flesh, He makes one of His daughters the cameo of real theology and right praxis, a sister, this woman, this widow, who walks into the temple, and gives the very smallest of coins, 1/5 of a penny —

And God Incarnate praises the woman who. did. what. she. could . . . who just did what she could in the small and the sacrificed, and He said it was everything and He deems it large and this is who we are.

We are the women who want the thing God wants — more than we are afraid of it. 

We are the women who know when the love of Christ motivates — the more fearless of everything we become.

We are the women who know real joy is not found in having the best of everything but in trusting that God’s making the best of everything.

We are the women who make our lives about the cause of Christ, not the applause of men.

We are the women who live to express the Gospel, not to impress the Jones’.

We are the women who live not to make our absence felt, but to make Christ’s presence known.

We are the women who know it’s not about us and all about Jesus. 

We are the women who unloose the hair, the women who do the lavish unlikely, the women who bow at the bare feet of God and touch pure holiness and we are rent by grace and we break and we fit and we spill over everyone with this shocking love.

We are the women who are the real sisterhood:

Girls can rival each other. But the Real Sisterhood of Women revive each other. 

Girls can empale each other. But the Real Sisterhood of Women empower each other. 

Girls can compare each other. But the Real Sisterhood of Women champion each other.

We were made from dust, a bit of earth kissed by heaven,and we are made to be ground breakers and peacemakers and freedom shakers.

So you can take your glossy Vogue covers and use them for washing windows because we’ve always thought the most beautiful women have dirt under their fingernails and could shake a bit of the very earth out of their worn and pioneering shoes.

The singer on the stage, she stands there and she says this, her eyes welling, her skin bare right there in her hands:

I’ve been rejected for my size — but Jesus takes all of me.”

And all the women who’ve felt rejected for the size of their lives and the size of their bodies and the size of their gifts, they stand and sing it with this breaking free abandon — Jesus takes all of me.

Thousands of women lifting the roof right off everything.

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  • Bev @ Walking Well With God

    Ann,
    Oh how powerful we are when we champion each other instead of compare. The praise of men is good, but to be affirmed by other women (the gender who was created to affirm)- now there’s pure goodness. I pray that I would not lift myself up by putting others down, but instead look to see where another woman may be hurting…not feeling enough…take her hand and lift her up. Oh how powerful we are when we champion each other to see how each of us is made in His image. Beautiful and powerful post!
    Blessings,
    Bev

    • AnnVoskamp_HolyExperience

      Thank you for this, Bev…so grateful to do a bit of life with you and PRESS into Jesus. xo

    • Linda Miltzow

      This so true, Bev! The comparison game is so dangerous and hurtful. Praying along side you to keep my heart open to be an encouragement to others each day!

  • Anna finley

    Just read this…it’s great! Thx….needed it……

    • Pamela

      Amen!

    • AnnVoskamp_HolyExperience

      Anna, RIGHT there with you, sister. He’s got us…always and regardless.

  • Paulette

    Absolutely loved this. Can’t wait to share with my sisterhood friends. Thank you for sharing.

    • AnnVoskamp_HolyExperience

      Paulette, oh… just right there on my knees with you, ((sister)) You and I? #FORWARD!

  • http://www.bethcoulton.com Beth

    I got chills when I read this. Beautiful. Empowering. Right where I am today. Ready to swing wide open the gates of my heart and life and say “Lord, I don’t know where this is going, but I want you to take me there.” All of me, in my cluttered mess of life where I’m only responsible for my walk with Him, and not everyone else’s. There is beauty in exposing our souls to His light, lifting the veil off the order we try to ensure and instead, acknowledging that He will put everything in its place in His time, not mine. I need only be concerned with my walk with Him, with my obedience, with my answer to His call. Sweet freedom.

    • AnnVoskamp_HolyExperience

      Beth, it’s the most humble privilege to do a bit of honest life with you, … Wish I could reach over and give you the longest hug right now. Cheering you on, sister. xo

      • http://www.bethcoulton.com Beth

        Thank you, Ann. I so appreciate your kind words!

  • Linda Miltzow

    Oh, yes….I’ve been the follower, trapsing one around to do, act, emulate what another was doing. Only at times to be given “the eye”, the impatient sigh, the directions for a better way.
    Over time, I became one shoved to the side, not really needed for anything anymore. Questions, tears, broken heart. I thought we were friends?
    There is something better, Someone better! He sweetly whispered to me, “I’m here.” But He requires all of me. Heart, soul, mind, strength. He gently lifted me up and filled me up. He is the one who makes me whole and loves me for who I am! My Savior, my Friend!
    He tells me to take this gospel truth and and show the others how to follow the One who gave us His all. Jesus’ love and care for us is intense. So much so that He came to earth, lived among us, and then He being the one rejected, ridiculed, abandoned, grabbed every ugly of those who would believe in Him. In utmost humility, He hung on the harsh cross, stripped bare of all this life, and died in our place. He removed anything, everything, to be held against us.
    So let’s be each other’s fan club, seeing each one through His eyes of love and with cheers of joy. We can hold our heads high, for we are women of faith and daughters of the one true King. We are part of the greatest family. We are sisters in Christ. We ARE women who know its not about us, but it’s all about Jesus!

    • AnnVoskamp_HolyExperience

      oh Linda, good, good words here. Smiling tears. Needed your words right now. Just beautiful! *Thank you*

  • Lynn D. Morrissey

    Thank you so much, Ann, for a touching and needed reminder that women can champion each other or charge each other with guilty, mean-spirited labels and their painful words. I recall years ago when I first entered the work force that I never wanted to work for women, because they were so catty. That’s so sad, but so true. I’ve seen it in the work world, in professional choruses w/ which I have sung, in professional associations of authors and speakers, and most sadly, I think, in the church. I’m not sure why it happens, but I think when it happens to you (when any tragedy happens to you), your heart melts, your attitude changes. Sixteen years ago, when I had horrendous foot surgery and was wheel-chair bound for awhile, it staggered me to realize that when my husband and I were out and about, everyone talked to him, but would not acknowledge me. They wouldn’t speak to me or look into my eyes. I simply didn’t exist. That experience taught me a tremendous lesson, and now more than I had before, I look deep into eyes of those in wheel chairs, those on the side lines, those who seem invisible in the crowds. I look, I listen, and I speak with interest to the significant people who are either in hiding, themselves, or who the world hurts and ignores. I try to encourage their transparency and not add to their invisibility. And I think back to times in my own life, when I was unbearably shy or suicidally depressed, and I know that just one person’s touch or smile or word of encouragement (and not condemnation), would sometimes literally make the difference between life and death. Oh yes, Ann, keep preaching it: True sisters never revile, but always revive. They always, always reach out and breathe life . . . the life of Christ, everywhere they go, to everyone they meet. It’s the only thing a sister can do. . . the one thing she is called to do. Thank you!!!! for writing this!!!
    Love
    Lynn

    • Diana

      Lynn, I so appreciate you sharing your experience with us of when in a wheel chair for a temporary season you felt the sting of being looked over. I’m so grateful to the Lord for how He used that experience to shape your heart and mind to be intentionally looking for those who are over-looked for whatever reasons. I, too, have and continue to experience this painful reality as I have a chronic environmentally related illness which makes many people uncomfortable. It’s been 20 years and counting. Yet, I believe the Lord is using this suffering for a similar purpose as you described. Though my illness greatly limits my energies and activities, there are other sojourners who are in need of intentional loving attention which points them to the gospel of grace and truth through faith in Christ. I agree with you about Ann’s words to us: “Girls can revile each other, but the Real Sisterhood of Women revive each other.” I’m in the beginning stages of developing a time of prayer with a couple of women with the same illness as I have who also cannot go to church because of the severe reactions to environmental exposures found there. We are calling it “Sisters in Prayer”. I am considering printing this blog for us to share together. Ann, I thank the Lord for the good godly words He gave you and Lynn, I thank Him for your story that brought more flavor to it…the aroma of Christ!

    • Lynn Piontek Schroeder

      Thank you for your transparency. You have made me stop and take stock of how I do or do not respond to people.

  • Mary Haynie

    Amen!!!!

  • Penny

    This was very uplifting Ann,
    It can be hard to feel as though you are doing enough or that you are enough.
    But I have to remember how we make others feel is what matters most to Him. If we can put a smile on someones face or help to change their sorrow into a glimmer of hope then we are doing something.
    I feel He wants us to dive in and not leave it for others. He’s not counting our trophies but He does count on us.

    Blessings Ann and thank-you for the boost this morning.

    Penny

  • LaToya Brown

    What an opposing piece of advice to champion women in a culture that awards “mean girls.” But we so need each other. It heals and uplifts my own soul when I can give encouragement to another woman. I also tear at my soul when I put another woman down.

    Watching tv with my husband, I said something negative about a lady and as the words of hate seeped feom my lips, I felt as though I’d condemned myself. My husband felt it too, and the quiet that followed my words was filled with akwardness and shame. During the commercial I apologized to my husband for what I said. There was hatred and jealousy in my heart towards someone I didn’t even know. I repented to God.

    I’ve been the person hated for whatever reason and the feeling of other’s hatred is tough to endure, but even worse is to be the person who has hatred in thier hearts. I’m so thankful for the Father’s conviction when I feel myself walking down that crowded judgmental road.

    Thank you for reminding us to be our sisters’ cheerleader!

    • AnnVoskamp_HolyExperience

      oh, dear LaToya, this choked me up. Tears. God just shining through everything. You are Soul Beautiful, friend. *Thank you*…

  • http://tuningmyhearttopraise.blogspot.com/ ro elliott

    Amen… Ann… When I entered the blog world years ago… It seemed that there was a lot of jockeying for position … But then a shift started to happen…A spirit of welcoming opened in new ways…And you dear sister led the way…you led by example how to be inclusive instead of exclusive … Your example reached far beyond the blog world…I know you did not ask for this kind of influence…but God gave it…like Paul ” I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you,to make the word of God more fully know”. These words you have written have power because your life has live this out in real ways!!!! Thank- you Ann…blessings and much grace to you xoxo

    • http://www.bethcoulton.com Beth

      I completely know and recognize what you are speaking about in the blog world…the startup and then the shift…I have noticed it and felt it too. It seems there’s room for all of us now, and we have learned to write for an audience of One…the rest is gravy!

  • AnnVoskamp_HolyExperience

    He loves you He loves you, oh, how He LOVES you, Ella! Thanks to our God who can and does and will redeem everything indeed!… all is grace.

  • someonesgrandma

    Your words take me into His throne room…bowing at His feet…humble…forgiven…loved… treasured. Thank you for the blessing you share when your heart spills over and pulls us into the flow of your stream of encouragement and gratefulness and love. I’ve followed your devotionals for a while now…always blessed by them…encouraged to see your hunger and thirst for righteousness and His filling that flows over into my cup! Thank you for sharing your gifts with us. Be blessed today…I look forward to one day meeting you…if not here, in our final home together! Then you will know the impact of your encouragement and blessing to those of us who have struggled with all that you wrote about today.

  • https://www.nighthowells.wordpress.com Jenny Howell

    To empower. To champion. To make His presence known. Yes ma’am! Isn’t it the common place to trust in our own weak efforts? We step foot into the opposite of Jesus and others focused and wonder why God is not the high point of our day, week, life.Thanks Ann for keeping us looking upward and not inward. Jenny

    • AnnVoskamp_HolyExperience

      yes, so well said, Jenny. Amen

  • SimplyDarlene

    We lose
    our way
    when we
    forget our
    lineage. We
    devalue our singular
    and united princess worth.

    But when we remember, repeat
    retell – His thoughts about us

    We realize His perfection
    is being worked out –
    many women at
    a time.

  • Rebecca Jones

    Wow Ann, you’ve brought me to tears. People may or may not believe God speaks to you today,but I can tell you, most assuredly He does. I never really got answers praying about weight. But when He answered some prayers recently,concerning my health.and other things I asked Him again and the tender voice of the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart….” Is that what you thought I was looking at? ” And I knew He looked at hearts. That’s all that concerns Him. Doctors mean well, but they deal in science, not faith. I was told I was depressed but no, I’m just another reject. No one has ever been more rejected than Jesus or ever will be. Valentine’s Day is coming, ask Him to heal your broken heart whatever the reason, it may not even be what you think its, He knows. Today and everyday, He’s looking at your heart, if it’s fixed on Him, it’s in the right place. Praise the Lord.

  • Sharon O

    so beautiful. Yes. we are all precious and beautiful no matter what size we wear and what age we show on our faces and bodies. Yes. we are encouragers and prayer warriors and women who are valued and loved, just the way we are… in Him.

  • Wendy

    Ann,
    Beautifully written and exactly what I needed to hear today! I tear myself down and tell myself I am not good enough, not wanted and feel alone…deep down I know that is not true and I know that he loves me just the way I am. But when you are told lies all of your life and you are beaten down and belittled, you start to believe the lies. Thank you so very much for your words!

  • Sylvia

    Ann, I want to thank you for your faithfulness in encouraging women to walk as He walked, to talk as He talked and to lift up our hands to praise the One Who Saves us.
    I get your scripture pieces emailed to me and they have so blessed me. I have started a group on WhatsApp called, ‘Grace for Today’. I sit with my devotionals in the morning and pray for the words so send out. Your daily devotional has been so uplifting, inspirational and encouraging to my friends and I in the Middle East. One day I hope to meet you and give you one bug Scottish hug!!
    May His light shine upon you and your family and bring you piece and joy unspeakable.
    Sylvia

    • AnnVoskamp_HolyExperience

      Sylvia, I’m hugging you tight right now and waving your way in the Middle East! Jesus so champions you and revives you and enlarges you in Him. Just — *thank you* for being all about loving like Christ.

  • Andrea

    As I prepare to host an IF:Local this weekend, I was sharing stories with a girlfriend of all the ways God has been providing for not only our location, but all over, in miraculous ways, as seen on the Facebook page. She said, “I just have this feeling that we will feel the earth move with revival this weekend.” So many women gathered together over the world seeking the heart of Jesus, seeking forgiveness and grace and discovering their purpose unleashed…how will we not feel it? Your comment about being ground breakers reminded me of this conversation. I can’t wait to see what He does through IF:Gathering 2016!

  • http://kriscamealy.com/ Kris Camealy

    But Jesus takes all of me…yes.

    Thank you, Ann.
    Xo

  • Oyinkan

    So beautiful & a real reminder to realign our eyes like a flint towards Heaven and really think as our Father in Heaven thinks, see as He sees, and have the humility to treat & love others as He does.
    I pray we surrender & humble ourselves daily to have the mind of Christ – acutely are that we are, but so too are others!, the most precious Jewels of the Most High.

    Thank you Ann, God bless you ❤️

    • AnnVoskamp_HolyExperience

      yes and yes. Thank you, Oyinkan, thank you for this. Have a beautiful day in our Saviour who saves!

  • Missy

    In tears…. Feeling out of my league lately. Just brings me hope.

    • Linda Miltzow

      Long hug, Missy. Loving Jesus, you are in His league. He is drawing you close to Himself and encouraging you with His Word. He says, “I love YOU. Stick with me. We’ll do this together. Every. Single. Day.” Joy and hope come with trusting Him.

  • Jessica Dunham

    Thank you Ann for always standing in the light, in the truth, in the Word! Why often is it so hard to revive, empower and champion each other in this day? Why so hard to do onto others as we would want done to us? I think it is so true that many women live in bondage because of what the world tells us! Oh to be empowered by WHO God says we are!! To be empowered to accept WHO we really are! It is all this feeding of lies by the world which make women rivale, empale and compare. When we live empowered by realizing WHO we really are in Christ and believe and daily live in His written Word can we live free to love. My verse for the year “Turn my eyes away from worthless things, preserve my life according to your Word!” Psalm 119:37 I can only be preserved through his living and breathing Word! It’s not enough to just dabble. I must devour, for the enemy breaths down my back! Thank you sister Ann for always fighting for the Truth!

  • Jessica Dunham

    Thank you Ann for always standing in the light, in the truth, in the Word! Why often is it so hard to revive, empower and champion each other in this day? Why so hard to do onto others as we would want done to us? I think so many of women live in bondage because of what the world tells us! Oh to be empowered by WHO God says we are!! To be empowered to accept WHO we really are! It is all this feeding of lies by the world which make women rivale, empale and compare. When we live empowered by realizing WHO we really are in Christ and believe and daily live in His written Word can we live free to love. My verse for my year “Turn my eyes away from worthless things, preserve my life according to your Word!” Psalm 119:37 I can only be preserved through his living and breathing Word! It’s not enough to just dabble. I must devour, for the enemy breaths down my back! Thank you sister Ann for always fighting for the Truth!

  • amysondova

    Ann, thank you so much for this post. I’ve battled obesity since childhood. Last year I decided I wanted to LIVE or at least fight to live a better life. It was definitely a big turning point for me and so far, I’ve lost 90 pounds…and I can buy clothes at the store!!! It’s amazing.

    Despite all this success and all the high-fives I get from people at church, my weight journey has become more of an emotional battle…and I think your post is key to my struggle. I am desperate to lose weight so I can feel worthwhile, not seeing my worth in God. Furthermore, thinking that God can’t use me because I’m fat, like I’m a major disappointment to Him.

    Your post reminds me of WHY I matter to God…and it helps shove those evil, negative thoughts back into the dark depths from where they came. Thank you for reminding me how ALL of me matters.

    • AnnVoskamp_HolyExperience

      Oh, dear Amy, just so love your beautiful heart after His. Reaching over and praying you feel the great love of your Father today…

  • jmsmacy

    Ann… it is so awesome to see you simply being you in your interactions with other Beloved in these comments. It’s also beyond words to read this message- of how Christ takes all of us. As someone who has been rejected, as someone who hopes to spend this summer ministering with young people at Camp Rockfish as a counselor- as someone who has been there, and desperately wants to help people out of there- this is beyond good.

    • AnnVoskamp_HolyExperience

      jmsmacy, sister, I’m hugging you tight right now — Jesus so champions you and revives you and enlarges you in HIM! You are loved — and making your life a GIFT! *Thank you, thank you*…

  • Jo Queen

    I’m doing Jen Hatmaker study for teens called Brave with my 12 year old granddaughter on this very subject.. Comparison. Seems it’s a battle that can always tangle and strangle our faith walk and our joy, no matter our age. Praying truth of this message will break chain of comparison and because of Christs love within us we will champion each other!!!

  • Terri Smith

    I am so weary of the mold our culture has created for us to fit in. I pray that through the power of Christ we women can stand as one, rejoice, and claim that one size does Not fit all!

  • http://www.knowingthelight.com Jen – Knowing The Light

    Yes! we need more of women supporting women, rather than women beating each other down.

  • Lynn Rigney

    Love, love, love this! Sometimes I find myself getting so discouraged with the dynamics of my family, near & far, and then I am comforted by your words…”Ours is the Savior who sings of us…the woman who will not walk away from the call, the plea, the women who never give up and just keep on keeping on. The one who is honored because she is His. She keeps going and giving and believing in grace.” I am in awe.

  • Carrie Zumwalt-Decker

    I love getting these in my email daily. I look forward to reading them. I have gleaned so much from your wisdom. I loved the line that said, ” when the love of Christ motivates, the more fearless of everything we become.” So true. When I am on my own, motivating me, I am so fearful, but when I do through Christ, I am fearless. Phil 4:13. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. A verse we all know in our heads, but when it comes from the heart there is such power! I so do want the thing God’s wants more than I am afraid of it. Thank you Ann for championing us all on. Bless you sister!

  • Lynn Piontek Schroeder

    Was a few days behind in reading my incourage blogs. So very glad I caught up this morning. Your words ring so true. Thank you for writing this. #gratefulheart