Do you find it beyond interesting that many women in scripture are not named? The “woman caught in adultery” (John 8:1-12), the “woman at the well” (John 4:5-30), and “the woman who bled for twelve years” (Mark 5:25-34). How do you feel about that? Some of you may feel a bit of “it’s not fair” huffiness. Or you may not have even given it a second thought. As for me, I love it! Why?
It’s as though their namelessness encompasses every woman who has lived the same circumstances. It doesn’t matter if she was Jewish or Gentile. Her age doesn’t matter. Her hip size, family size, brain size – none of it matters. To her surprise and mine, sinfulness doesn’t even matter. The only thing that matters is the love Jesus pours out on her and the relationship that follows.
Each of these women has pointed me toward Jesus, whom they met on the road, by the well, and in the court of rejection. Each has given me the courage to lay my burdens and sinfulness at his feet – only to be surprised by LOVE – immersed in grace. I want to speak to just one of these stories and how it relates to my own life.
The woman at the well (John 4:5-30, The Message) This is a long one (I took the liberty to shorten it a bit), but it is laced with pearls! So first, grab a cup of coffee. Now, read it as though you are right there.)
“To get there, he had to pass through Samaria. He came into Sychar, a Samaritan village…. Jesus, worn out by the trip, sat down at the well. It was noon. A woman, a Samaritan, came to draw water. Jesus said, “Would you give me a drink of water?”
The Samaritan woman, taken aback, asked, “How come you, a Jew, are asking me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” (Jews in those days wouldn’t be caught dead talking to Samaritans.)
Jesus answered, “If you knew the generosity of God and who I am, you would be asking me for a drink, and I would give you fresh, living water.”
The woman said, “Sir, you don’t even have a bucket to draw with, and this well is deep. So how are you going to get this ‘living water?”
Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again and again. Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst.”
The woman said, “Sir, give me this water, so I won’t ever get thirsty, won’t ever have to come back to this well again!”
He said, “Go call your husband and then come back.”.
“I have no husband,” she said.
(Jesus) “That’s nicely put: ‘I have no husband.’ You’ve had five husbands, and the man you’re living with now isn’t even your husband. You spoke the truth there, sure enough.”
(The woman replied) “Oh, so you’re a prophet! Well, tell me this: Our ancestors worshiped God at this mountain, but you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place for worship, right?”
(Jesus) “Believe me, woman, the time is coming when you Samaritans will worship the Father neither here at this mountain nor there in Jerusalem….But the time is coming—it has, in fact, come—when what you’re called will not matter and where you go to worship will not matter.
(Jesus) “It’s who you are and how you live that count before God….That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship.
The woman said, “I don’t know about that. I do know that the Messiah is coming. When he arrives, we’ll get the whole story.”
“I am he,” said Jesus. “You don’t have to wait any longer or look any further.”
Just then, his disciples came back. They were shocked. They couldn’t believe he was talking with that kind of a woman.
The woman took the hint and left…. Then, back in the village, she told the people, “Come see a man who knew all about the things I did, who knows me inside and out. Do you think this could be the Messiah?” And they went out to see for themselves.
This woman was ostracized in a town where everyone knew her business. She could not hide from the other women’s ridicule or the condemning stares. So she avoided the courtyard in the early morning when the other women were there, choosing to go when she could be alone. And then…
Here comes a miracle!
Jesus chose to reveal himself (verse 26) to this lowliest of women, to a hated and rejected sinner – to me, “You don’t have to wait any longer or look any further.”
By the time I reached my early twenties when a suicide attempt had failed, I often drank myself into a stupor to numb the pain. I was divorced and had a miserable off-and-on relationship with someone as messed up as I was.
And then it happened – suddenly and without warning – Jesus showed up at my empty well! It’s funny; in our misery, we muddle along day in and day out. Days stretch into years. Pain and sorrow become as commonplace as your morning bowl of oatmeal. No surprises. No hope. No desire or longing to cling to. We do life anesthetized. But just leave the slightest crack for Jesus to enter, and all of heaven breaks out into thunderous applause, dancing and singing, and all sorts of merriment! With a wink and a nod from God, Jesus joyfully erupts into our lives!
Does anyone besides me remember Mighty Mouse? I sing the song from that cartoon to my grandkids, and they look at me like I have two heads! But I do it anyway because it’s fun. But then, the other day, I heard my granddaughter singing it, “Here I come to save the day”! That is the picture I get of Jesus when he shows up in our lives. It is awe and wonder in the very midst of our messiness. There are indeed those still-small-voice moments. But I believe he saves those for when our hearts are open to him.
When I drift too far from the well, Jesus becomes a man on a mission, touching the depth of my heart—taking my breath away. Literally! Just like the woman at the well who was blown away by her Jesus encounter. She ran as fast as she could to tell everyone about it. She no longer cared one rip about what people thought of her. She was a new creation in Christ, a beloved daughter of the King, and no one would redefine her ever again! She was forgiven and loved more deeply than she ever thought possible – and so are we – every last one of us!
So, let us not find ourselves at the well of the lost and broken ready to judge and condemn them. Let us not participate in the ridicule of others so many so-called “Christians” piously denigrated in God’s name. I sadly confess that I often forget the sting of being judged as I become the judger – Lord have mercy on me.
You cannot encounter the Living God and not be changed – it’s impossible. So, get yourself over to the well, leaving just the teeniest crack in your heart, and then hang on for the ride of your life!
“There’s no heavier burden than a great potential!”- Charlie Brown.
I want to dedicate this blog post to my granddaughters, great-granddaughters, and all the little girls out there (or big girls getting a late start – like me!). Girls who may not yet be aware of their great warriorness. In particular, those who may not have someone in their lives to instill in them a belief in their magnificence, brilliance, and untapped potential. I often wonder what a difference someone like that may have made in my life as I was growing up.
Certainly, I have grown immensely over the past twenty+ years. I have gained the strength and courage to recognize and face down many of the lies I believed for so long about my insignificance. Mostly, it was an uphill battle that I often felt I fought alone. Of course, in hindsight, I know I was not alone. I could not have overcome what I have without God’s strength, tenderness, and guidance, which enabled my heart and soul to begin healing and grow into the life I never believed I was worthy of.
“Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process
is the bravest thing that we will ever do” Brene Brown
A review of my life may seem to a casual observer that I wasted a lot of time. Yes, I may have wandered in the desert for fifty years. But, these last twenty years of working to fulfill a life of meaning and purpose tell me that everything in God’s plan is just as it should be. Even amid the “fruitfulness,” there will always be messiness and missteps, mostly of our own doing. I seem to step in it, clean myself up, move on, forget, and step in it again. But, hey, it is said that you’re okay if you fall as long as you fall forward.
So, now that I am higher on that mountain than I have ever imagined, I would love to reach back to encourage and help lift little girls and young women whom God has given me a heart for. I want you to know that you are a warrior, a superhero, and a gift meant to be shared with those who suffer.
I have often written about Esther, you know the “made for such a time as this” Esther? But let’s look at another courageous young woman, Joan of Arc.
Here’s a short biography of her young life from the St. Joan Center Website:
“From her earliest of years Joan was known for her obedience to her parents, religious fervor, goodness, unselfish generosity and kindness toward her neighbors. Simonin Munier, one of Joan’s childhood friends, tells how Joan had nursed him back to health when he was sick. Some of her playmates teased her for being ‘too pious.’ Others remembered how she would give up her bed to the homeless stranger who came to her father’s door asking for shelter.
Joan was ‘like all the others’ in her village until her thirteenth year. “When I was about thirteen, I received revelation from Our Lord by a voice which told me to be good and attend church often and that God would help me.” She stated that her ‘Voices’ were Saint Michael the Archangel, Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret. At first her ‘Voices’ came to her two or three times a week but as the time for her mission drew near (five years later), they visited her daily telling her to ‘Go into France’ to raise the siege of Orleans, conduct the Dauphin Charles to Reims for his crowning and to drive the English from the land.”
That simple peasant girl stood her ground against English kings and a motley crew of bishops in the Catholic Church. It was a good-ole-boys club in which she was not welcome (little seems to have changed, huh?!). One bishop declared that she should be sent home and given a good spanking. How dare she think anyone would believe angels spoke to her? The audacity of her leading men into battle! They would have none of it. She was arrested and put on trial by a bunch of weak men who got their underwear all bunched up because she had the strength and courage none of them could come close to. She was too much for their fragile egos. They had to make an example of her lest other women got some crazy notion they were meant for more than servitude. So, they conspired to condemn her for heresy, witchcraft, and violating divine law for dressing like a man (huh?). They were hell-bent on proving it was Satan, not angels, that spoke to her and led her astray. By conspiring and lying, they eventually got what they wanted. She was put on trial, condemned, and burned at the stake for good measure. Needless to say, they hated her and everything she stood for. There is even controversy concerning her canonization in 1920 as being more politically than faith-motivated.
Now, don’t start imagining that you would end up like Joan if you followed God’s calling and reconsider what being a warrior asks of you, “No thanks. I’ll just hang out here with my Barbie and Macho Ken.”
Remember in Luke’s gospel when Jesus was hanging on the cross, and those cocky rulers sneered at him? “You supposedly saved others; why don’t you save yourself?Ha!” Well, Joan, like Jesus, had the courage all her life to listen and obey God’s call. All the while not really knowing what that would entail. On the surface, you might conclude that the way it ended for both Joan and Jesus would not make a powerful recruitment tool. They both felt abandoned by God at a critical point in their lives. But God did not abandon them. We know how Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection have sustained Christians throughout thousands of years, so we can rest assured that God fulfilled his purpose in Jesus even when he was silent.
As for Joan, I read a fascinating unpublished novel by Virginia Frohlick, The Lost Chronicles, The Story Of Joan of Arc. Frohlick, by profession, is a registered nurse and writes extensively about the wounds sustained by Joan during battle. She detailed (to ad nauseam, really) four of those wounds and said each of them alone would have been fatal. All this is to say that God truly was with Joan and guided her from the moment of her calling at the age of thirteen until her death.
Okay, now that we have established that God is totally enamored with you, your brilliance, and your eagerness to answer the battle cry that is your destiny…
Good question. I don’t know. Sorry. I have no idea what God has planned for you. 1 Corinthians 2:9 tells us, “But just as it is written, “Things that no eye has seen, or ear heard, or mind imagined,are the things God has prepared for those who love him.”
However, what I can share with you is a bit of my own journey full of twists and turns and doubts and, yes, awesomeness, because that’s really all I know for sure. I was made to believe that I was nothing special; that anyone who made something of themselves possessed gifts or talents or even some magical powers that I did not have. When you feel so beaten down you begin to believe the lies. It’s hard enough to drag yourself out of bed in the morning without having to perform like it matters. So, then you begin to tell yourself that everyone but you got “the gift”. You got a lump of coal.
It gets us off the hook. We have a valid excuse for sitting back and accepting that we will never amount to anything because, well, we were not blessed with those God-given talents we see in everyone else. Oh well.
I tried to stop comparing myself to all those people I grew to envy, but in truth I continually found myself deficient in so many areas of my life. Then, ever so slowly, the changes began. God knows how to deal with each of us. He knows some, like Paul, can get wacked off a horse, rub his lumps, and instantly convert to Man of the Year. Others, like me, need a gentler, more gradual tap, followed by a soft landing. I suppose that’s why it took so long.
If you had approached me before my transition to a semi-caring human and asked, “Hey, Linda, you wanna go out in the world and serve lost, dying, broken humanity?” My immediate response would be, “Hahahahahaha. NO!” Do you think God had any idea that would be my response? Of course, he did. So, he waited. And waited. And waited. He seems to be really good at that. Then, like the masses at Walmart on Black Friday, when the door of my heart opened ever so slightly, he quickly stuck his foot in the door. (Right! I know. God doesn’t have feet. Just work with me here, okay?)
To spare you the long version of the past twenty years I’ll just give you the bullet points, remembering what one of my professors in graduate school seemed to only ask me, “What’s your point, Linda?”
(And, yes, these are bullet points for an A.D.D. brain, so cut me some slack.) Anyway:
My first AHA moment came when I worked for Youth in Need. I had an “I’m the boss” attitude until a twelve-year-old boy taught me what loving kindness looked like. I was basically a house mom and he came there hating the world. He would start a fight with other kids at the slightest provocation. He was a challenging child to deal with. One evening, he stole something from another resident and got very angry with me for confronting him when I found it under his bed. I told him I was going to the office to call our therapist, and he spit on me. Now, I was angry. I mumbled things under my breath I will not repeat here. When I called the therapist, I knew he was listening at the door. I explained what had happened, and she asked me if I felt threatened. At that moment, something inside me changed. It was Easter Sunday. The day we remember Jesus’ story reflects God’s promise. A promise made to me despite all my sins and brokenness. A promise that was made to this child I was about to have removed and sent to Juvenile Detention. I told her “no” I did not feel threatened, and we hung up. He fell into the room when I opened the door and started yelling at me to go ahead and call the police. He didn’t care! I told him I was not going to call the police. If he would calm down, shower, and go to bed, it was over. He got up, attitude still on display, and out of somewhere deep inside of me, I said, “And, Justin, if you need a hug, I have one for you.” He shoved the chair and “yeah, right!” ushered out of his mouth as he slammed the door and left. I repeated his “yeah right” a few times as I completed an Incident Report. What was I thinking? As I walked up the steps, Justin came out of the bathroom. He looked at me with a different demeanor now and asked, “Can I have that hug now?” I’m not sure how long I hugged that child or how long we both cried. I wondered if anyone in his young life had ever hugged love into his fragile heart. And there was God on full display, hugging love into both our hearts on Easter Sunday!
A few years later, there was the moment God’s clear voice told me to write a book, followed by my hysterical laughter, which I’m sure he did not find amusing. Anyway, I shook it off and went on about my business. A few months later, I went to community college and wrote a paper for an English class. When my teacher returned it to me, he said, “Linda, this is really good. You should see about getting it published.” Wait…WHAT?! So, I started writing my life story. Right! Like anyone would care. But I persevered, finished it, self-published it after many rejections, and even got a little award from a Writing Guild no one had ever heard of. The books were piled up in my basement, and Oprah never called, so my hopes of becoming famous were shattered. Fine!
In 2006, I was given the opportunity to attend graduate school with full tuition paid by a grant. God didn’t have to wait long for that rolling, side-splitting laughter from someone who barely finished high school! I prayed about it, and after a deeply mystical experience, not really, I just said, “What the hell! What have I got to lose?!” There are no words to describe how those three years challenged every fiber of my being. Then, beyond anyone’s expectations, except God’s, I graduated with a degree in Pastoral Studies. Then came the job search. You’d be right if you think I had a hard time getting any Priest to welcome me into the good-ole-boys-secret-hand-shake club. Of course, I whined to God…again…about why he had me on what surely was a wild goose chase to nowhere. “I KNOW YOU CAN HEAR ME!” No answer. Fine!
Fast forward to 2014. Tired of sitting at home and listening to my own belly-aching, I decided to just volunteer somewhere. After all, I was already beyond the age of retirement, so why not? Remembering our beautiful experience with Hospice when my dad was dying, I started working with them. During that time, I learned a lot about the dying process. We are not simple observers from a distance for those who are taking their final journey. Hospice care involves participating in what I can only describe as a profound sense of empathetic being-with, participating in a deepening movement through an almost palpable process. It was truly holy ground, and I always felt sitting vigil with the dying was a privilege that blessed me beyond words. I left there when my beloved mother-in-law, Catherine, went into hospice care as we sat vigil with her on her final journey. Then I waited…more calmly this time.
Next, I stepped a bit deeper into my fear and vulnerability by working with the homeless for St. Vincent de Paul, which ended up being one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. But, if you had told me I would be hugging and loving on two ex-cons at a dumpy motel they were staying in, I would have straight up denied the possibility. But there I was. There were many encounters like that. I didn’t tell my Supervisor about most of them because I didn’t think his heart could take it. Like the day I got the call from another agency, “Hey, you want to come help this girl who’s hiding from her mob boyfriend?” Here’s me, “Sure, why not?!” Sadly, our homeless program ended when our funding ran out. We then had to refer people to other agencies, and I did not feel the other programs were a good fit for me, so I stepped aside to discern what God had up his sleeve next. As of this writing, I’m still waiting, but I’m pretty sure God has removed his earplugs because I’m more patient now. You’re welcome, Lord!
I just shared with you a capsule version of my last twenty years. When I think about how I have grown and matured in faith, how others have taught me to live with ambiguity and uncertainty and be okay with it, I am stupefied! To say to someone in their brokenness, “I don’t know why this happened to you, but I care” – and then really care and be vulnerable to their pain is all God asks of us.
Learning to love and serve with God’s heart didn’t come naturally for someone who never had it modeled for them. Each step has built upon another to bring me to this place. It may not have seemed to make sense at the time. I may have spent too much time trying to repackage God’s perfect plan to fit my expectations, fixating on my own plans. But, at the end of the day, I know I am exactly where God wants me, and I know he does not waste time.
So, now what?
“God gives food to every bird, but he doesn’t throw it into the nest.”
An ancient Hindu saying
Angela Duckworth did a lot of research for her book, Grit. She says:
“Often we believe that people who excel have some innate gift that no one else has. But it seems it isn’t so much ability or talent as zeal and hard work.Without effort your talent is nothing more than your unmet potential. Without effort, your skill is nothing more than what you could have done but didn’t. Enthusiasm is common, endurance is rare.”
Duckworth names four psychological assets necessary for success in any worthwhile endeavor and addresses critical aspects of growing into our God-given purpose:
Development: Daily discipline.
Purpose: Conviction that your work matters. A lifetime of deepening.
Hope (needed in every stage) keeps you going when things are difficult, even when you have doubts.
I can relate to all of these aspects that have continually reinforced God’s plan for my life, but I would add one more: Trust. If we cling to our fears, we will stay stuck in our emptiness. You must own your story, not wait for someone else to write the chapters.
Through that still small voice, in my most broken moments, God spoke into the depth of my heart, “No matter where you are at this moment, no matter what heartache or pain you may have suffered, you are now and always have been, enough because you belong to me. You can trust me.”
Granted, I did not run into God’s arms with wild abandon. It was more like a slow crawl and a lot of back-sliding. I wanted to test him because trust was not one of my strong suits. But the more I submitted to him and experienced the changes in my heart, the more I was hooked. I just knew this was different; my life was different. I began to breathe in a love I had never known before. It was incredible, and I couldn’t get enough of that sense of God’s immense love for me even when I mess up, which I still do. I must remind myself daily that being worthy and imperfect are both aspects of our humanity. They are not contradictory.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11
So, dear ones, it’s up to you to pray and listen for God’s whack or still small voice, whichever one works. Pay attention to your desires that speak to God’s desires. What are you passionate about? What breaks your heart? What gives you joy?
“Don’t ask what the world needs.Ask what makes you come alive, and go do that.Because what the world needs is people who have come alive”
The author of the article, Nicole Carroll, tells us:
“They didn’t succeed despite adversity, but often because of it. They didn’t just blaze a trail. They hammered one with their voices, their ideas and their grit. They did it at massive protests and in church basements, on big stages and in dusty fields. They stood on the shoulders of ancestors and pulled along those behind them.
The lessons of the women who brought us this far show that from the darkest moments, we find our greatest resolve. So many women who’ve achieved have first been hurt. Trauma can shame and shatter. But, they will tell you, it can also guide.
How do women keep pushing forward in the next 100 years? The same way they always have. They’ll imagine. They’ll create. They’ll fight. With grit and with sacrifice. With not enough sleep and not enough help. With bright days of self-confidence and desperate nights of self-doubt. With courage.”
So, here are a few thought-provoking questions for you. I pray you will hear the voice of God speaking to your heart, and you will respond with a huge, “Here I am, Lord! Send me” (Isaiah 6:8). And then, dear one fasten your seat-belt for the adventure of your life!
How are you unique?
Do you know what your gifts are?
Who do you admire and why? (Often, what we admire in others is what we would like to develop in ourselves).
Do you like helping others?
Do you consider yourself a leader?
What makes you happy – sad?
Has someone else told you you are good at something?
Ladies, this one’s for you! Guys, you’re welcome to listen in if you can refrain from making faces or snarky comments. So, let’s continue:
He didn’t really jump. He fell. But he was still dead. But not for long because Paul revived him. Just to drag his aching body back upstairs to listen for hours more! Do you think I’m kidding? Here’s what happened: Acts: 20:7-12, “We met on Sunday to worship and celebrate the Master’s Supper. Paul addressed the congregation. We planned to leave first thing in the morning, but Paul talked on and on the way past midnight….A young man named Eutychus was sitting in an open window. As Paul went on and on, Eutychus fell sound asleep and toppled out the third-story window. When they picked him up, he was dead. Paul went down, fell on him (Resuscitation methods certainly have evolved, haven’t they?), and hugged him hard. “No more crying,” he said. “There’s life in him yet.” Then Paul… went on telling stories of the faith until dawn!”
Take a hint, Paul!
So, some preaches should not be preaching
Paul certainly had his gifts, but droning on and on may not have been his crowning achievement.
Some teachers should not be teaching
Matthew 23:13 (NIV), “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.”
Some prophets maybe should not have been prophesying, at least not naked
Isaiah 20:3, “And the LORD said, Like as my servant Isaiah hath walked naked and barefoot three years for a sign and wonder upon Egypt and upon Ethiopia….”
On the other hand, some who have been gifted fail to say “yes” to their calling.
Ladies, I am talking to you in particular!
And there is no better time than now as we approach Jesus’ final hours to discuss this topic.
You know how this goes. Jesus had been walking with and teaching his disciples for three years. But, unfortunately, they were a motley crew of doubters, nay-sayers, and power grabbers, often blind fools who could not see beyond their cultural biases.
And the women? They understood very well their customs and traditions. They were inferior to men, under the rule of their fathers or husbands, and had no authority in any area of their lives. Women were not allowed in the Temple to worship, and talking to strangers was forbidden. The slightest infraction of these laws often resulted in their being stoned to death.
Then along came Jesus. Glory be! He loved them, talked to them, and raised them to a new status. Though it may be difficult to believe because they are rarely named, Jesus had many female disciples. Who stuck around when Jesus was led to his trial? The men? NO! They ran scared. It was the women who stayed with him from the moment he touched their lives until his resurrection.
The men ran off in fear because this was not what they had envisioned. They were sure Jesus came as an earthly king, and they would share in his power. When it was clear things were going badly, they hid behind locked doors to save their own sorry butts.
Not so the women. Ah, you gotta love those women! Jesus had so empowered them that there was nothing that would keep them away from his side. It’s as if they were saying to all those who participated in Jesus’ crucifixion, “Go ahead, make my day! Crucify me too! I’m not afraid of you anymore!”
Who did Jesus first appear to after his resurrection? The disciples? No! Okay, probably not We don’t know for sure. Most scripture scholars believe it was Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary.” Some scholars say he did not appear to Mary first but to Cleopas or the disciples, but it is important to remember that some scripture writers were concerned about cultural norms that could have influenced their writing. So, I’m sticking with Mary on this one.
What is important is what we take away from Jesus’ love for and treatment of women, the worth and value he placed on them. Remember, for men in those days, it was all about power. Serving others was foreign to them; it was not their responsibility, not so with women. Women are innately gifted for service, nurturing, compassion, and putting others first. That was the connection they had with Jesus. A man who valued and related to their giftedness for the first time in their life.
I am reasonably sure you will not feel you have anything to offer until you believe how deeply God loves you and how he longs to forgive the sins you cling to as proof that you are not worthy of that love. That was the reality for me. Life had convinced me that I was a terrible mistake. I deduced that he wasn’t there when I was being abused because he didn’t care, and he undoubtedly hated me for my own sinfulness.
But then something happened that changed my life. It was a pivotal moment that I talked about in my book. That moment when God said, “Linda, I was there when you were being abused, suffering right along with you, and I was there every time you sinned. But your life will be restored if you turn to me and seek my forgiveness and mercy. Your true self – the person I created out of love – will emerge and thrive! Just trust me.
God has called each of us to use our gifts for his glory, to make our little corner of the world a better place, and to let his light shine on our suffering brothers and sisters. I don’t know what gifts God has given you. But if they are teaching, preaching, or prophesying, just don’t be boring, and don’t do it naked…PLEASE!