This is the website of Claire Musters, freelance writer and editor. Please feel free to look around – check out ‘About’ for more details of Claire’s publishing career.
Watch this space for some personal blogs from Claire on subjects ranging from juggling a writing career with young children to what life is like now her record-producing husband has become a full-time pastor!
Thanks for visiting the site – hope you enjoy it.
I had the great pleasure of attending the Jubilee Plus conference on Faith and Justice a couple of weekends ago. I haven’t posted about it before as I was busy writing entries for their site – you can see my thoughts here and here.
But one thing I definitely wanted to bring your attention to is a hard-hitting video about human trafficking, particularly poignant now in the light of the collapsed factory in Bangladesh. Click on the link here, watch – and respond. I know it’s been around for a little while – but this issue isn’t going away so we all need to take action!
God never promised that staying close would be easy.
Westernised Christianity doesn’t seem to cost that much these days. Has it become too sanitised, or compartmentalised so that it doesn’t intrude onto the rest of our busy lives? Having grown up in a US church that fell apart due to an overbearing pastor I’m wary of being prescriptive. But a lot of the ‘discipleship’ I see around me doesn’t have much sense of ownership. People just don’t seem to take responsibility for their faith anymore.
For the rest of this post, please click here to read my guest blog for Threads.
Today, as you are all fully aware, is Mother’s Day. It was wonderful to help the kids at church give out flowers to each of the mums there. And also great to see how many people have posted messages online honouring their mums. To those of us who are mothers it can be a real inspiration – but also hugely sobering. I long to be someone my kids look up to; aspire to be like. It has been so special to receive the hugs and declarations of love today – but I want to be someone that my kids are proud to have as their mum each and every day. I am intensely aware that sometimes I really don’t make the grade.
My daughter decided to paint a portrait of me today and it was interesting to see how she viewed me – I especially liked the splodges of purple and pink paint she put all around my head. Somehow it seemed to make me look funky, more ‘with it’ and fun than I probably am!
Today I also preached in church for the first time. It was terrifying – far harder than leading worship. It was humbling to see how God used it – the words that came during the worship tied in with what I spoke about, which was hugely encouraging for me as I prepared to speak. I was worried it was too simple a message, but it seemed to touch many and I had the privilege of praying for people who responded at the end. I didn’t realise how hard it would be though – I looked down to find my hands literally shaking! But I held it together and was calm – until I talked about how much of an inspiration my mum is to me. Then I had to take a moment… or two. And I’m writing this tonight to honour her; for her unwavering faith in the midst of intense suffering. I don’t understand everything she’s had to go through, and is still going through, but I do so appreciate everything that she has taught me along the way. She has remained absolutely resolute in her faith – even when everything has screamed at her not to – including her own body.
We need to learn from our elders, as we really aren’t as together and wise as we often make out. I’m so proud to have a mum I can look up to and learn from. Thanks mum, I love you
I am currently editing a fantastic book that seeks to empower women by freeing them from the chains of needing to seek affirmation constantly and looking for the answer to the question Am I Beautiful? It reminds us that as women made in the image of Beauty itself, we are all indeed beautiful, so we need to learn to rise above all the pressures – self- and society- and culture-applied – to accept that. And it also urges us to remember that there are far too many bigger issues, far too many pressing needs, for us to simply be preoccupied with ourselves. We need to be able to move on and make a difference, to be the world changers that women significantly seem to be. The brilliant author, Chine Mbubaegbu, cites some UN statistics:
‘There are 900 million women and girls facing extreme poverty. Women own just one per cent of the world’s wealth, we earn just 10 per cent of the world’s income and half a billion of us can’t read or write.’ And yet, it is being recognised around the world by governments and development agencies that women certainly make a huge difference when given the chance. That, while we earn less than men generally, when we do work we reinvest 90 per cent of it into the health, nutrition and educational needs of our families – as opposed to the 30–40 per cent of men that do so.
Chine’s citation of such facts and figures whetted my appetite so I went in search of more on the UN website. And found some other interesting ones:
- Over the years women have begun to enter various traditionally male-dominated occupations, but are still rarely employed in jobs with status, power and authority or in traditionally male blue-collar occupations.
- Women are still under-represented among legislators, senior officials and managers, craft and related trade workers and plant and machine operators and assemblers.
- Specifically, women are still under-represented in national parliaments, where on average only 17 per cent of seats are occupied by women.
- There is a persistent gender pay gap everywhere – while it has begun to close slowly in some countries it is still unchanged in others.
- Despite all these changes, women still continue to bear most of the responsibilities around the home: caring for children and other dependents, preparing meals and doing other housework. Around the world, women spend twice as much time – at least – as men on unpaid domestic work.
While all of these facts start to get me riled, it is the information about violence against women that angers me the most. This is a UNIVERSAL phenomenon – not just occurring in so-called under-developed nations but right under our noses here in the West too. Our ‘developed’ nations can hide some horrific secrets under the surface. Charities such as A21 have done a great job in raising our awareness of such issues as human trafficking but there is so much more that can – and should – be done.
I was horrified to read the following in the UN stats report The World’s Women 2010: ‘In many regions of the world, longstanding customs put considerable pressure on women to accept being beaten by their husbands, even for trivial reasons. Whether for burning the food, venturing outside without their husband, neglecting children or arguing with their husband, in quite a few countries a very high percentage of women consider such behaviour sufficient grounds for being physically hit.’
Wake up women – and men – around the world! We are worth so much more. No one – absolutely no one – deserves to be treated with less respect than another. I hope on today, of all days, we can celebrate all that is good about womanhood and determine afresh to fight against the injustices that so many of our sisters in countries all around the world are facing right now.
Ever have one of those days when you simply can’t seem to settle down to anything? I am today – I can’t believe I only have half an hour left before I pick up my son from nursery and I’ve achieved nothing so far (apart from bagging a free book for my hubbie - yay- and having email conversations with publishers). I have managed to do my bible reading for the day. I’ve been finding reaching back into the Old Testament really interesting and thought-provoking, but today, when I read about a man sacrificing his daughter, all I could think was ‘really?’. My brain couldn’t go further than that!
Both my husband and I look and feel shattered. It has been an exceedingly long couple of weeks, partly because our church is in the process of trying to buy a building and there have been endless plans and letters to formulate. But today is submission day – so we’ve done all we can. Now, as well as praying earnestly, we need to turn to what else needs our attention – him to his preach and me to my writing. But I think we are both simply too wrung out. I am usually incredibly focused. I’ve been doing this work-from-home freelancing thing for a long time now, and I am always determined to utilise the first few hours of the day really well as that is my only child-free time. But today I’ve been meandering through the windows on my computer – looking at the drafted book I have almost finished and the half-written ideas file for a magazine editor. I can’t quite seem to actually get down to doing anything. But I think that may be because my body needs a little rest – it’s done so much already this week. The fact that I can’t focus on anything is my body revealing I need to slow down a little and take it easy today. This is really unlike me, but I’m finding I’m telling myself that it’s okay if I don’t actually achieve that much today. There is always tomorrow…
Today is the start of National Marriage Week. I chuckled wryly to myself when I found that out, as this week has been incredibly testing. We’ve definitely felt the squeeze, due to many reasons – mainly outside of our relationship. We are still exhausted from the fantastic weekend of celebrations honouring our pastor and his wife as he retired, and now my husband is feeling the pressure of taking over the church and being the only member of staff for the next two months. I’m really busy juggling a lot of deadlines, including writing a book, and looking after our kids. I’ve also found it very difficult to be surrounded by a houseful of mess as my husband transports the church office temporarily to the studio at the bottom of our garden. That sort of thing really grates on me – and I have to be honest, I bit my tongue for three days but didn’t manage to keep quiet completely!
Each night has been busy since last weekend, with meetings already booked in. And each night we’ve been supporting others with difficulties – some with intensely bad news they are struggling with. While it is an honour and a privilege to serve them it is still hard when you are just plain tired yourself – and some of the issues have been so big it is hard not to be affected by them. I think the fact that we are not sleeping well even though exhausted is a sign that the stress is taking its toll. And this afternoon my daughter had a complete meltdown doing homework that I thought she would actually really enjoy. I found myself almost at explosion point and shouted inwardly to God ‘Not now – don’t throw anything else at me now’.
I left her to it and escaped into my office. And there were another series of tweets about National Marriage Week, which stopped me in my tracks. We absolutely HAVE to make time amongst all the manic-ness, responsibilities and people problems to just chill out, do things together we really enjoy and affirm and encourage one another. Because when tiredness and stress set in, it is always the person closest to you that bears the brunt of it. I know you know this, but I urge those of you that are married to use this week’s timely reminder wisely and let your husband/wife really know why it is that you love them. Use the commercialised, cheesy, annoying day that is Valentine’s Day to do something special – whether you choose to do it on that day or another just make sure you do something in the next week! I’m going to make sure we do…