The Inherent Strength of a Global Sisterhood

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The Inherent Strength of a Global Sisterhood with Honduran Sisters

In my book, I talk a lot about a global sisterhood. Perhaps this is so important to me because I have a Honduran sister-in-law and her mother and sisters have become dear parts of our family. Perhaps it is because I lived in Turkey for 7 years and came to love so many as family. But without a doubt, it is because I believe that if God created us in his image, then there are inherent qualities we share around the globe, throughout time and culture. It is this global sisterhood that I am calling our girls to join, casting a vision for a story playing itself out among women around the world. 

As we wrap up our series on Strong Moms & Daughters, I knew I needed to include an intercultural or international example. With joy I looked to my sister-in-law and her female tribe. These Cerrato-Corrales women are fierce and lovely. They hold multiple degrees, trounce around the world with bravery, and love with a sweet tenacity (and put my side to shame in the fashion and bling department!) I wondered, what would they attribute to their mother and to their culture for their strength? And even more curiously, I asked their mom what she could reflect back on as doing differently, counter-culturally? 

Yolannie, Gissela (9 months pregnant), and Maria

Yolannie, Gissela (9 months pregnant), and Maria

Me - Can you each describe one memory or example of how you remember your mom casting a vision for who you were created to be?

Yolannie - My sisters and I are a reflection of what my mother was both in her personal and professional life. I remember that when we were very young she worked very hard in her career, she had a busy work schedule as a business administrator, but at the same time, she took the best care of us. She taught us to have God as the center of our lives, which allowed us to have in our childhood, adolescence and adulthood a balance in our lives. She transmitted faith since we were little girls; we attended a church group, which greatly influenced our spiritual and personal maturity.

In that sense, she always encouraged us to be independent women, with self-confidence, she supported us in our extracurricular activities, in the achievement of our professional careers, encouraged us to accomplish our goals and to become women leaders in our society. She has always been social, loving and sweet, and instilled these qualities in us, doing good to others despite adversity. Gissela, María and I, have had the opportunity to live abroad (Europe, United States of America and New Zealand) and meet people from different cultures. My mother´s example has helped us to have successful interpersonal relationships wherever we go.

Gissela - I think my mom led by example, she was a kind, loving, caring mother, who would sacrifice everything for her family. She was a working mom, but I always remember her being present. She was always there for us, we knew we could talk to her about anything, and we knew we could always count on her. She would base all her teachings on her faith and the love of God, which she instilled in us. Knowing our parents worked so hard to provide for my siblings and I, gave me purpose to try to be my best.  

Maria - I've had the privilege of having a loving and caring mother. Since I was a girl, she fostered my self-esteem by continuously helping me realize my worth. She made me aware of God's unconditional love, taught me and my siblings how to pray and made sure praying was part of our daily lives. Her faith has been an example for me to base my life and dreams in God. I could always feel her love and support through growing up. Even though she was a working mom, she always made time for us and did everything she could to support our aspirations and goals.  

Me - Can any of you speak to barriers you faced culturally or on the contrary, ways in which your culture celebrated the strength of women?

Yolannie - I think that one of the most valuable resources of Honduran women is the joy, warmth and passion to make things, allowing many women in the last two decades to be successful and become leaders and entrepreneurs at home and abroad, in spite of the machista culture in Honduran society.

Maria and Maria

Maria and Maria

Gissela - When we were growing up the culture in Honduras was still somewhat conservative and traditional at home. Especially, the role of men and women at home was somewhat “machista." Women cook and clean, and the men are served by women and the men do more of the manual work at home. However, in terms of education, I think that women in our generation didn’t experience as much inequality. Quite the contrary, we were expected to get an education and encouraged to become career women just as much as men, though this could have been unique to our family.

Maria (MOM) - I believe that machismo has been cultural, because generally speaking men have considered the role of women mainly being for doing housework at the home. However, in this 21st century, Honduran women have taken actions in their preparation and personal development, demonstrating capability, responsibility, and enthusiasm in the performance of their professions. Whether at home or in society, women are moral and intellectual bastions contributing to the change and progress of our country.  

Me - So, Maria, what did you do to raise such strong women?

Maria (Mom) - My parents got separated when I was a girl and since then, my mother (who was a teacher) dedicated her life to raise me with all her love and dedication. I always saw in her an example of a woman with faith and a fighter, who kept going until I became a professional. She worked hard for me to receive the best elementary and high school education.

In our first year of marriage, we felt the call to join a charism within the Catholic Church called the Neocathecumenal Way, which we have been part until nowadays in our 39 years of marriage. These enabled us to raise our children conducted by the power of the gospel and in that way guide them under these concepts:

Love: Giving all my love and dedication to my children developed a human sensibility within them, which has enabled them to be kind wherever they go, and in that way integrate and be accepted in the different environments they have been.

Respect: Within my reach, I always respected and supported their ideas, talents, professional vocations, dreams, and decisions.  This gave them the confidence for the development of their qualities, talents and knowledge.

Trust: The trust and communication that I deposited in them, gave me the opportunity to be close to them and orient them in different aspects of their lives. This allowed them to be independent since a very young age.

Faith: The transmission of faith in God, enabled them to grow up as people with values.

There you go! Global sisters. Amazing! Women, let us cast our daughters' eyes to the beauty of God's creation, past, present and future, inherent in his design of femininity. It is stunning. 

Read more in A Voice Becoming: A Yearlong Mother-Daughter Journey into Passionate, Purposed Living.


Yolannie Cerrato, is a career diplomat of Honduras, currently working as Counsellor in the Permanent Mission of Honduras to the United Nations in New York. Prior to her posting in New York, she served as Director for Educational, Cultural and Scientific Affairs of the Secretariat of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Honduras. She holds a Bachelor degree in Industrial and Business Administration and a Masters in Project Management, Leisure, Tourism, Culture, Sports and Recreation. She has a specialization in integral project management and diplomacy. Besides Spanish and English, she speaks French.

Gissela Pandy currently stays-at-home with 3 kids under 7. She was born and raised in Honduras and moved to the U.S. when she married 11 years ago. She holds a Bachelors degree in Industrial Engineering and a Masters in Business Administration. 

Maria Auxiliadora Cerrato-Corrales is 32-years old and the youngest of four siblings. She holds a Bachelor in Business Administration and a Masters in Education. She worked 8 years as an early childhood teacher in Honduras and is currently the Program Official of the non-profit organization REAL LEDGE Honduras.

María Auxiliadora Corrales-Cerrato is 65-years old and holds a Bachelor in Business Administration. She has been married 39 years and has four children and 5 grandchildren. She currently works independently in Sales and Marketing.

You're Invited: Join My Launch Team

Friends,

My first book, A Voice Becoming: A Yearlong Mother-Daughter Journey Into Passionate, Purposed Living, releases on January 16, 2018! I wrote this as a fellow sojourner, seeking to cast a vision to my tween of living a big-storied life. It chronicles the intentional "rites of passage" year I designed and invites moms to consider their own stories as they raise daughters to live into their own. 

And I need your help!

While words are penned by one author, books are birthed by tribes of allies. Would you consider being an ally?

Joining a launch team

What is a launch team? I think of it as a group of sherpas, guiding the curious on an expedition. Through the chatter and advocacy of these sherpas, the book's message reaches more readers. It's also a mutual relationship. You have a role and I have a role.

Launch team responsibilities

As a team member, you'll commit to read the book and do a weekly action to help promote it. Actions include posting memes to social media, writing a blog post, submitting a review on Amazon or Goodreads, and promoting pre-order incentives. To make it super easy, once a week you'll receive an email telling you exactly what to do. This team also serves as a prayer team, bathing this book baby in prayer as it enters the world and hopefully blesses many moms and daughters. You'll receive one prayer request each week.

Launch team benefits

As a team member, you'll receive a hardcover copy of the book, most of the pre-order incentives, and be entered to win a limited edition Becoming necklace. You'll join a private Facebook group where we'll rally as a team of allies and I'll post a live video each week.

Ready?

Are you interested? Apply here and we'll let you know on November 16th. 

Thank you for considering joining me in this journey. I am honored, humbled, and a little freaked out about the whole thing! Looking forward to a community of sherpas to walk with!

Beth

Let Her Strength Grow You Too

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Let Her Strength Grow You Too with Shauna Gauthier

“Your story is not my story!”

Her words flattened the argument I had so carefully constructed and was right smack in the midst of delivering when she interrupted with utter exasperation. That single truth bomb she sent flying in my direction took my breath away. So I just sat there, breathless and therefore speechless, while she looked at me eyes ever-widening by the uncertainty of how this act of boldness might play out for her in the end.

I can only vaguely recall the details of the power struggle we were having before that pivotal moment in our mother-daughter narrative. I know that it involved a request for some leeway with regard to specific boundaries we had established around dating and curfews as she entered into her junior year of high school. As the oldest of our four daughters, she is almost always the one leading us into new chapters of our parenting adventure.

It’s an unavoidable reality for all firstborns because there is simply no other way for parents to gain experience. And believe me when I say that I have tried plenty of other pathways to gain insight. I’ve worked with youth since I was still a teen myself, later becoming a trained therapist with a keen understanding of adolescent development and family systems. I am a well-read parent always striving to keep up to date with new research and parenting strategies. But here’s the thing - in all the years of pursuing insight, nothing could have prepared me for the ways in which my daughters would reflect back to me the tender places inside my soul still longing for healing and freedom. Only their faces, only their reactions to my mothering, only their unique voices could have the power to reveal such profound insight.

I heard her loud and clear that day. “Your story is not my story!”

Just two seconds beforehand, I had been convinced that I was offering clear but firm boundaries that were for her good. I was certain that this was one of those times that I needed to be her prefrontal cortex and make decisions that her teenage brain was not yet prepared to make on her own. A mere five words out of her mouth and suddenly I was standing there as naked and vulnerable as Eve. I had the choice to run and hide behind some metaphorical tree, or perhaps I could have pretended that there was nothing to be seen there at all. I certainly could have thrown some shame in her direction and on my lesser days, I’m sure that I have done some combination of all of the above.

How could they ever believe in the strength of their own voices and the power of their own discernment if we can’t make space for their truth in our own hearts and souls?

But I knew she was right. I was caught in that moment and my daughter was the one who pulled back the curtain to expose the truth. The rigid boundaries I was building a case for had more to do with my own past narrative, my own troubled teenage years, and ultimately my own fears than I wasn’t even aware of until that very moment. So there I stood, naked and a bit disoriented.

Like Eve, there are many other women who have gone before us into the terrifying lands of vulnerability and nakedness. The women I am most drawn to, biblical and otherwise, are the ones who sit with the truth of their nakedness. They realize that running from it leads to nowhere good, and neither does denying it or wearing it inauthentically like a badge of honor. And so in that moment, I attempted to sit with it.

“Your story is not my story!”

It took several minutes for a normal breathing rhythm to return to my body. Though I don’t recall the exact words I eventually offered in response to her truth bomb, I know that they went a little something like this…

You’re right. My story is not your story. And sometimes I forget that reality. Our stories are connected though. They are intertwined because we are mother and daughter. They are interconnected because we are a part of the human story. And so that means we will need each other to find our way. Let’s see if we can figure this one out together.

And so we did figure that one out together. She bravely spoke her truth and I listened and ultimately modeled how to engage my own vulnerability with grace - at least on this particular occasion. Raising strong daughters seems to be as much about allowing them to grow us as it is about us guiding and mothering them. How could they ever believe in the strength of their own voices and the power of their own discernment if we can’t make space for their truth in our own hearts and souls? Our increasing strength, our mutual growth, the perpetual process of our own becoming - it’s all interconnected in the grander narrative that binds us all together.

~Shauna
 

Shauna Gauthier is a self-described psychology buff, a fierce advocate for women all over the globe, an amateur theologian, philosophy lover, existential thinker, perpetual dreamer, mama to 4 little women ever-rising, wife, seeker and warm drink lover. She is a trained therapist from The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology and currently works as their Alumni Outreach Coordinator. Shauna blogs at LittleWomenRising.com about the intersections of motherhood, feminism and faith as she catalogues her own journey raising four fierce daughters. You can also connect with her on Instagram, Twitter and in her Facebook group for Moms of Little Women Rising.

Start Naming Strength While She's Young

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Start Naming Strength While She's Young with Aleah Marsden

The outfit I have chosen is discarded in the clothes-swamp floor of her room. Jeans and a sensible t-shirt strewn among sparkly dresses, floral skirts, and chunky sequined sweaters. I know this walking down the hallway before I even enter. “We are going to be late,” my voice rises in warning as my footsteps fall heavy on the hardwood floors.

“Done!” She shouts, breathless, as she flings open her door. A whirl of bright mismatched colors, patterns, and textures rush past in a blur. She grabs her red faux leather Minnie Mouse backpack with the giant red bow, then reaches for her hot pink lunch box on the kitchen counter before stuffing it inside her bag. Sighing, I follow her out to the car where her siblings are impatiently waiting for this five year old fashionista. Today I can smirk at the sleeveless sky blue tulle dress she is wearing over denim capris and under a bejeweled pink and yellow long sleeve emblazoned with a unicorn.

Mornings are orchestrated chaos in our home with four kids. The first time she came out wearing a gaudy getup, the second week of kindergarten, I had her march back into her room to change. Without giving much thought to it, this became an almost daily ritual: she ignores what I set out for her, I send her back to her room to change. We will have no divas in this household. While I enjoy an occasional shopping splurge, fashion per se has never been my thing. It seems shallow, vapid. I was the girl with her nose in a book not her closet. What would her teacher think if I sent her out the door in these ostentatious arrays of color and pattern? She would think she didn’t have a mom who cared enough to make her change, that’s what she would think.

My daughter was not going to be seen in public looking like that. Images of parents at the mall with kids in mismatched clothes or outfits that incorporated costume pieces flashed through my mind. No way was I going to be one of those parents who obviously have no control over their children. This was my third child and I had this all sort of figured out now. Better to nip this kind of behavior in the bud early before it’s piercings and crop tops and too much makeup.

This would likely have been the end of it, except one morning I actually saw her when I told her to go change. I mean, I was aware enough to sense the force that slumped her face and shoulders. She was deflating like the neighbor’s blow up Christmas decorations that look like cartoon corpses out the window on the drive to school. That morning she had paired a festive crimson sweater with a floral applique over a long chocolate shirt with a pink, magenta, periwinkle, and mint floral skirt over dark leggings.

“Kiddo, why do you think this works?!” I’m prodded into questioning by guilt I feel in my gut, while with a sweeping movement of my hand draw attention to her getup.

Her eyes well with tears as she exclaims, “Because dirt! And flowers!” She points to her brown shirt, then the flowers on her skirt and the applique on her sweater. She is frustrated, exasperated, and only five years old.

My heart shatters as it hits bottom in the invisible gulf I hadn’t realized was stretching between us.

There’s no girl too little to hear how important her offering is to God’s kingdom or for her innate passions to be affirmed.

I wrap my arms around her and carry her to the couch. I hold her against my chest as she sits on my lap. And I apologize. I tell her that God has made her to love color and pattern and texture and that is a good thing. It is a beautiful thing. It is a gift. She has been made to know God and make Him known, and maybe one way she gets to do that is through these intricately crafted outfits. I told her that I didn’t get it, but obviously she does and I love the way God made her. I tell her I’m always on her team and I can’t wait to see what she creates next.

Everything about her demeanor changes, becomes radiant with joy. The smile that reaches her tear stained eyes like looking into the sun.

Fear of being judged for my daughter’s fashion decisions almost cost me a much earlier than anticipated opportunity to affirm the God-given creative passion of a kindergartener. We did agree on two ground rules: outfits must be both age and weather appropriate. Three years later and I can’t remember the last time I even attempted to choose clothes for her. I’m forever grateful to the Spirit for giving me eyes to see her in that moment of despair, before a much different memory was made or she internalized the message that her mom thought her passions were silly, unfit to be shared. There’s no girl too little to hear how important her offering is to God’s kingdom or for her innate passions to be affirmed.

~Aleah


Aleah Marsden is a writer, speaker, and storyteller who is passionate about seeing women walk into all the plans God has for them. She finds deep joy in studying scripture and sharing its stories. She strongly believes in encouraging women to choose celebration over comparison; glorifying God and serving others with all their varied gifts.

Aleah's writing can be found in publications like Christianity Today and Books & Culture, an essay in Everbloom (Paraclete Press, 2016) as well as a handful of devotionals in the new NIV Bible for Women: Fresh Insights for Thriving in Today’s World (Zondervan, 2015). She has spoken at numerous women’s events, moms’ groups, and retreats. Connect with her on FacebookInstagram or Twitter (which is her favorite).

Finding True Strength

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Finding True Strength with Gina Butz

When I was pregnant with our 2nd child, I prayed for a girl with red, curly hair. I got my wish, apart from the curls. Looking back, I see now I wanted so much more for her than that curly red hair.

I wanted her to live loved, to be confident in who she is, and to find her passion and live it well. I wanted her to love Jesus. I wanted her to be strong.

Even as she came into the world and grew, I was in a process myself of redefining what being a strong woman means. 

Strong was a descriptor people had used for me all my life, but not necessarily in a healthy way. They meant, “put together” and “self-sufficient” and “emotionally tough.” Born of years of believing the lie that I am on my own, it was a front I developed to prove my worth.

That kind of strength is impressive, but it isn’t inviting. It made me unapproachable in a way I hated, but the thought of loosening my grip on that image was terrifying. Embracing weakness and mess felt too far in the other direction.

God began to speak to me about finding my identity not in outward strength, but in my position as His child. As I did, I felt my view of strength shift. I believe now that true strength lies in owning our weakness, in being vulnerable enough to let others into our messy places. Weathering trials instead of avoiding them becomes fodder to strengthen us. And true strength is found in being our real selves, and in standing firm in our value as image bearers.

So I have tried to raise my daughter to be strong first by showing her that I am not as strong as she thinks, at least as the world defines it. There’s something heady about presenting an image to our kids of parents who have all the answers, never fail, never doubt. I realized early on that I wanted my daughter to think well of me, but in doing so, she might not see the real me. It would set up a false image she could never attain. Because the truth is, I’m not a perfect mom. I will sin against her. Sometimes (a lot of the time) I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t have the answers. I fail. I doubt.

I want a daughter who has true strength-not a grit-your-teeth, bear-it-alone strength, but a humble, open, God-dependent strength.

I learned to ask her for forgiveness when I mess up. And when she fails, I remind her that we are both in need of grace. Together, we go to God for what we need. It takes strength to admit where we fail, and to lay ourselves bare for others to receive or not.

Sharing my insecurities with her not only shows her it’s ok to struggle, it gives her permission to share as well. Opening ourselves to others, to show them our tender places, is a great act of strength.

And when my daughter encounters pain, I am learning to let her experience it, rather than shelter her from it. I know how walking through trials has strengthened my character and my faith. I remind her of that when she wants to shy back from trying something out of fear of failure or embarrassment. Strength isn’t found in avoidance but in facing the storms with confidence that God will bring us through.

I’m teaching my daughter that strength is also found in knowing our own voices. It’s been the greatest joy for me to see this girl, who can so easily question the “rightness” of her voice, draw lines in the sand about who she is and what she wants. When she acquiesced to wearing a dress for Easter, but she insisted on pairing it with her mint green Keds, I celebrated. Deciding what is important to her and being true to herself translates to how she responds when the girls her age go in a direction she disagrees with. It takes strength to stand in who you are and what you believe when you feel like you’re swimming against the tide.

 

Finally, I hope my daughter knows that strength is not defined by her gender. When she laments that “girls have to do all the hard stuff, like get their periods and have the babies, and we are still viewed as less than boys,” I get the opportunity to tell her again that in God’s eyes, there is no lesser or weaker sex. She is an image bearer. That should cause her to carry her head high.

I want a daughter who has true strength-not a grit-your-teeth, bear-it-alone strength, but a humble, open, God-dependent strength. I want her to find it in owning her weakness, embracing vulnerability, and courageously facing whatever life brings, because she knows the One who carries her. I want her to stand in the strength that comes from knowing who she belongs to, and believing that everything about her is good and divinely inspired. That’s true strength.

~Gina

After 13 years overseas, Gina Butz and her husband are currently raising two third culture kids and an imported dog in the exotic land of Orlando, Florida, where they serve in global leadership for Cru. You can connect with Gina on her blog Awakened, and also on Twitter and Facebook.