50 Shades of Light

Christ & The Church
Christ & The Church

I AM Cherished, our theme for this month, encourages women to know that their true beauty, worth, & value is defined by a personal relationship with Christ. In Song of Songs/Solomon, we learn the thrill of true love and intimacy in this book of erotic Persian-style love poetry between King Solomon &  Queen Sheba. This often overlooked book of the Bible is a metaphor of the dynamic, worshipful relationship between Christ, the Bridegroom & the Church, His Bride.
Do you have a personal relationship with Christ? Has your spiritual life been pacified like a perpetual babe by pampered teaching? Are you ready to be transformed into a WOMAN of excellence in spiritual maturity? One of the homework assignments for our I AM Powered 2nd Tuesday Study is to read & meditate on the book of Song of Songs/Solomon throughout this month and practice a pure marital relationship by scheduling private time to delight in Christ. How would you prepare for a date with your Bridegroom? Spa treatments & fine jewelry? Where would you invite Him to go with you? Chinese takeout & your favourite movie (when the kids are tucked in for the night) or morning coffee with a spectacular view? When we practice intimacy with Christ, it not only deepens our relationship & develops our spiritual maturity, but it also empowers us to lavish our earthly husbands with the same level of preparation and 121 presence!!

Husband & Wife
Husband & Wife

For me, it took a mission trip halfway around the globe to learn this lesson! But then again, as Christ knows each of us intimately already- the very hairs on our head is
counted (He knows about this new silvery streak I just  discovered gracing my
left temple)-and He knows that I have always been a romantic who is dazzled by the exotic. So there I was, surrounded by glittering, colorful Indian saris with the scent of night blooming jasmine in the air, in a country where I was isolated from others by the language divide, and Christ wooed me. As I traveled with a driver and translator to remote rural villages in southeast India, listening to women’s stories, blessing & encouraging them, it was as if by day my bridegroom and I were doing our Father’s family business. But at night, while palm trees swayed under swinging monkeys and mosquitoes ruled their humid domain, I was on a honeymoon with Christ. His Word, by candlelight in this faraway land, was a life
transforming getaway! I would return home to start my walk of ministry-through spiritual maturity-and the birth of our union there, Lydia’s Purse International, conceived by the Holy Spirit.

Maryann & women at worship in southeast India
Maryann & women at worship in southeast India

Yes, true intimacy can be pure & even holy, for holy means “set apart”. We are living in this world, but we are not to be of this world. As women of The Word, are you still being fattened by the milk of nursemaids or are you standing strong on the meat of spiritual maturity, confident in your position as a Queen of The Kingdom & empowered to do the work of a helpmeet to the King of Kings?

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I am Mermaid | fisher of men

Mermaid Textile
Mermaid Textile

I don’t quite know what it is about mermaids that I identify with most. Perhaps my romantic notions parallel with Picasso’s minotaur metaphor. Some say it is a psychological need for sentient & spiritual beings to feel grounded, to connect in some way to this terrestrial ball. Mermaid tales span all of world history & cultures with mythological mysteries of ladies luring pirates from passing ships with sweet siren songs or other deaths from stirring storms to shipwreck those at sea. And what of those benevolent types with the cascading golden tresses~teaching humans cures for certain sicknesses & rewarding service with pearly stranded gifts, instead of stranding them? Then again, there are the more tragic traditions from my own Czech culture, the Rusalkas~restless spirits who drowned before their weddings & are bent on avenging untimely fates, tempting young men by name to treacherous ends. Further east are mermaids who cry tears that turn to pearls and a few who fell in love with humans. Farther back in time we learn the Persian word maneli means both mermaid & stay with me.

I do know this, though, I love the sea, I always have, it stays with me. I had even convinced my younger siblings that I was a mermaid on our annual island holiday. I would sit under the rippling waters looking up at bending, bouncing sunlight on the surface & hold my breath as long as I could stay. There’s just something about the sea that holds such sway.

‘He cast all my sins into the depths of the sea.’ Micah 7:19 | forgiven

Oh, and I just remembered how fixated on & fascinated I was by the pearl divers at Sea World. I would push past the crowds as if no one else was there, holding my breath until the divers returned to the surface with those magical iridescent lined shells, waiting to glimpse at the milky round treasures inside.

‘The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold all he had and bought it.’ Matthew 13:46 | found

And here I am today, delaying the daily minutia of drying dishes & driving middleschoolers by pinning pins on Pinterest. 50,000 pretty pictures tell the tale of Maryann121~from fabulous designs to DIYs, skirt styles to studio spaces, and of course, the mermaid life~all an attempt to brand this calling: to be SALT & LIGHT.

‘Follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will make you fishers of men.’ Matthew 4:19 | follower

I am continually amazed at Christ’s creativity & ability to use any & all we bring to His loving hands for God’s glory, our good, & the eternal good of countless others~5 loaves & a few fishes, or a fascination with mythical sea creatures, complete with a coffee habit that includes a smiling siren on its cup! As salt & light in a dying world, He redeems our earthiness and makes us captivating. He can make a mermaid one who lures men to eternal life, not death. Gifted with pearls of wisdom & singing songs of praise, forgiving instead of avenging & teaching others this way, how can we not lure men to the depths of an intimate relationship with the one who created the seas & calms the storm with one word, Peace.

I am Mermaid | fisher of men