Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Pursuit of Beauty

 "Outward beauty is the most important thing to women." - Chris Rock

 I watched an interview on TV recently featuring Chris Rock who has made a new documentary called "Good Hair". The movie has me intrigued me partly because of the fact it exposes the Hindu ritual in India of shaving your head to sacrifice to the temples and that hair is actually now being made into weaves, and because I felt it would be a good society study, which I absolutely love. So as I was watching this interview and he was talking about the great lengths women go to for their hair, it really got me thinking.

 As he said that outward beauty is the most important thing to women, the truth of the matter was clear. My mom pointed out that this is not just a current day issue or a modern one, but since the beginning of the world, women have craved beauty. It's part of our nature as women to desire to be beautiful and desirable.

 Think about the ancient Egyptians. All the makeup they wore around their eyes remind me a lot of the emo look today. But it was the style then, and the sign of beauty was painted eyelids and straight hair. Or think of Persia, where Esther lived and all the beauty treatments that she went through before being made queen. An entire year was spent on making the women beautiful and desirable to the king. Or think or England in the 1700s and corsets! They put their bodies as serious risk and were horribly uncomfortable all for the sake of beauty.

 Yet it all fades.

 Everyone someday grows old and no matter how hard we try we can not always be stunning on the outside. You may be 80 and still look great for your age, but when you put a 20 year old model by you, it's easy to tell your beauty has faded. And most importantly, outward beauty doesn't go with us to the grave. When we die our beauty means nothing. If we spend our entire life investing in outward beauty, when we face God and that's all that we have, we are in grave trouble.

 Proverbs 31:30 says that "Charm is deceptive and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised". Now Abigail and I like fashion, we like dressing up, we like looking beautiful; but we love Christ. If we were to chose outward beauty or having the blood of Jesus cleanse and beautify our hearts, we would both chose the latter. Because when you look in light of eternity, outward beauty fades to nothing. We are not to gain the whole world but lose our soul, and that "whole world" includes our outward beauty.

 If beauty is what we chase after, it will never be enough. We will always want more and it wont satisfy. A model for Victoria Secret's that is a professing Christian said once that "everything about me is fake. My hair is fake my nails are fake, even my heart is fake." Now I'm not sure about you, but I don't want a fake heart. The search for outward beauty will only leave us with just that, a fake heart.

 Our blog is named Imperishable Beauty because Abigail and I as young woman are trying to strive for a beauty that wont fade or grow old with age and we want to see others striving for that as well. We want the beauty that comes from Christ, from Him transforming and redeeming our withered and broken soul and making them beautiful. We want to grow in character and good works and purity. And above all, we want Christ to be our source of beauty more then the clothes we wear and how we look.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Simply You!

Olivia and I are both greatly endeared and devoted to the concept of modesty—both inner and outward. As such, we have both realized that dressing fashionably doesn’t have to be a violation of that modesty. Wearing fun colors, mixing and matching, layering, using fun accents…all of these are things that can make us as girls & women feel alive, confident in our own unique personalities, and ready to show the world bits and pieces our essence in Christ.

Olivia and I love to see people finding their own personal styles and vibes, and to encourage that we’ve decided to start a fun fashion feature. Once a month, we’ll be posting pictures and fun fashion tips that will hopefully inspire you to uncover some of the great personality that God has given YOU and spread a little joy in that expression.

So, without further ado...

Autumn is well upon us now, and for me it brings a sense of both nostalgia and aspiration. Who says we can't have the new without the old and faithful mixed in?

What happens when you take something traditional like plaid, and mix it with a graphic tee? Well, this is one thing I absolutely LOVE to do! Taking ordinary pieces and putting them together to make something extraordinary is probably my single biggest thrill when it comes to style.

One thing I've taught myself to see is that colors aren't always what they seem on first appearance. If you immediately think two colors are going to clash, take a minute to look again. You might find something unique and fun!

In this cozy fall ensemble, a simple purple scarf with a little bit of creativity can evolve into a fun and unique outfit. Try mixing a few layered necklaces or a brightly colored headband with this look to make it a little more interesting!

This month's question...

Do you think seasonal colors should be strictly adhered to?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Musings on Pride and Prejudice

Most people look at Pride and Prejudice and simply see a sweet love story. In truth, that’s how I saw it from just the perspective of the movie. Yet, upon reading the book I have found that it goes far deeper then that.

Pride and Prejudice is simply a story of well... pride and prejudice. (Wow... I know... I was able to figure that out. Three cheers for Olivia!) It shows the folly of making hasty judgments, that people are not always as they seem, and that there is almost always more then what meets the eye. The lesson to be gleaned from reading the book is that being humbled can be just what we need and to carefully guard the premises on which opinions are made.

Personally, I found the book to be in one word: refreshing. Something about that time so long ago when things were so different… where women were generally treated with respect, where there was public dancing that was the cool kind, where people drove carriages and would walk to places, and when you would go to visit people for extended periods of time and it was nothing but normal. It was a time when things were simpler and people weren’t always hurrying from one activity to the next mindlessly, but they enjoined each other’s company and staid busy in the most peaceful sort of way. To step back into that time through the eyes of Jane Austen was delightful.

Another difference in the time that I did not notice until the end of the book was that the physical expression of romantic love was never expressed by so much more then the looks in their eyes. No mention of so much as characters holding hands was so much as hinted at and in a world where even the “Christian” romance talks about the physical side, it was missing here. Love was shown through words and actions and at times the expressions on your face. The endearing happiness and success of a marriage did not depend on the fact if they were a good kisser, and in an over sexualized world, it’s again in a word, refreshing.

In our culture no one so much as bats an eye when hearing of a couple living together before marriage. It happens so often that even Christians simply go “it’s sad” then move on. Yet, in the culture of England in the 1700s, the idea that a couple had run away together and were not to be married was a sure way of bringing shame and ruin unto entire families. It was talked about with the highest feelings of disgrace and disapproval and even pity. It struck me as an bold difference and as a single of how far our world has come from the days where immorality were disgraceful and purity a crown.

I love how the books talks about how the love between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, especially on Elizabeth’s side, was not one of love at first sight but as Jane Austen would put it, the affections were based off of gratitude and esteem. There was a sense of admiration, especially to Mr. Darcy’s feelings for Elizabeth that was not lust but instead the highest esteem for her as a person, particularly her sharp mind and playful spirit.

I do believe that the reason why so many have fallen in love with Jane Austen’s most famous novel is for two major reasons: one, it portrays a beautiful love story. And two, it takes us back into a time that is so different from ours that we are curious and entranced by it. The beautiful writing style of Jane Austen, her vibrant characters, intricate plot, and talent for storytelling has won hearts, including mine.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Love Him: Series Conclusion

All our rambling about honoring our future husbands boils down to one simple thing: love him. It’s not about a list of dos and don’ts. It’s not about following a set of rules either. It’s about the concept of striving to start a love story before we even know who we’ll marry. It’s that idea of instead of putting our efforts into short term relationships that are self focused and over dramatic, to instead invest in a future romance between not only you and your future spouse but also your heavenly Bridegroom.

Is it easy? No. But will it be somehow magically be easier to honor our husbands once we are married? No. It will always be hard and we will always be learning, but the rewards are worth it.

So what if marriage isn’t in God’s plan for you? What if He has singleness in store for you? If that is the blessing we receive from God, then these concepts will not go to waste even then. Is a person at loss for guarding purity, maintaining boundaries in male-female relationships, being careful about what you allow to enter your mind, and building character just because they are destined to be single? Absolutely not! Part of our goal in doing these things are not just to honor our future husbands, but also to obey and glorify God; and that isn’t something that only people who are going to get married can do.

I would be disappointed if someone came away from reading this series and simply did the things we have mentioned without emotion and passion. Personally, I would rather people not do anything then to do things just because “well, it sounds like it might be a decent idea” and not out of a heart that is filled with love and is ready to pour that out through action.

Our whole series comes down to this: show God and your future husband your love by how you live your life. Live in a way that would make them proud. And do this out of love

Monday, September 14, 2009

Rushing Seasons

{Just a quick break here from our series of Honoring our Future Husbands... but we'll be wrapping that up soon with a few last posts there. Abigail and I are both in a mode of trying to get our lives and schedules organized and figuring out how all of our responsibilities fit into our daily lives. But we are hoping to get into a regular
posting rutine with some special treats coming up!}

Fall is practically here as the leaves are starting to show hints of yellow and my long sleeve shirts are making a return to my wardrobe as well as trusty hoodies and sweaters. There is something about fall that I just love... maybe it's because I live in a place when in late September and early October you are surrounded with the most brilliant colors everywhere you look. And of course fall brings with it the routine of school which started for my family a few weeks ago.

I'm a freshman in highschool now and my feelings are quite odd about this... on one hand I've always felt like those in high school were so old and those "big kids" yet now I'm here and I still feel like the little kid. On the other hand, I feel like I'm already beyond high school in a way... we brought my brother down to college a few weeks ago which made me desperately want to go off to college myself. I've always loved something new and exciting and independence is strong within me.

But I am reminded to not rush the seasons of life, where God has put me. Right now, my job is to be a freshman in high school, not college. Just like it does a person no good to try to turn summer into fall in July, it does no good for me to try to make myself older or rush life. Because once it's gone... it's gone and there is no turning back. You only go through high school once, and though I often scoff the "high school experience", I'm looking forward for all the things to come during high school. From getting my licence and being in plays with my friends to getting a job and challenging myself academically.

Above all I'm going to enjoy it to the best of my ability. It's so easy to always be looking with excitement to what's ahead and longing for that, rather then enjoying the time you have in your season of life. Whether you are in high school and long for college, or in college and long to be married, or married and long for children, or have children and long for grandchildren... whatever it may be, enjoy it.

Slow down and cherish it because one day you'll look back and your life will be almost gone. If we live our lives always waiting for and day dreaming about the next thing but not living life, we will find that the years have passed on us without us realizing. Let us just enjoy life and make the most out of what God has given us.

"For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace."
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Making the Most of Melodrama

(Note: We're so sorry for the delay in posting! I admit, it's my fault--yes, Abigail's being a slow poke again! What else is new? Ha! Anyway, we will get back into the swing of posting just as soon as we can--school starting and vacation has gotten in the way of posting recently, so thanks for being patient!)

As females, I’m sure we all (at least to a certain extent) appreciate the idea of snuggling up in a comfy chair with a blanket and a cup of coffee to watch our favorite romantic film. I love the memorable “meet cutes”. I get frustrated with the characters during the complication. I adore the chill that goes down my spine and gives me goosebumps when everything turns out just the way I want it to. I can’t live without the contented sigh I feel inclined to utter at the end of every viewing. In a word, the idea of the “sweep you off your feet” kind of love is simply perfect.

There are so many amazing things about these moments— since we’re girls, we can definitely enjoy getting into a good love story! However, it’s also easy to get pulled too far into these romances and think about these imaginary scenarios too often. There are some mental exercises that I put myself through regularly to make absolutely certain that I don’t get too caught up in something that isn’t really happening and become discontent with where God currently has me.

What is probably the most common occurrence in my life is that I see these theatrical romances, and they make me think about my relationship with my future husband. This doesn’t seem wrong at first glance, but the times when I don’t hold myself in check, I find that I start thinking of my future love as that kind of fun, flirty, and romantic love, when in reality, there might be some of that, but it certainly won’t all be fairy tale—it will take a selfless heart and diligent effort. In the correct context, the extra details of love that they pack into movies are completely innocent and in fact would be a blessing in a marriage, but if it’s taken too far, the lightweight love will take over the deep commitment that love involves. I want that deep commitment more than anything, so I work hard to hold onto that priority.

Another issue which I find to be completely rampant in our day and age is falling in love with the male leads. These men are created to be appealing to females for obvious reasons—I mean, what would a love story be without the proverbial knight in shining armor?! There’s nothing wrong with recognizing good qualities in these characters, but it is easy to become so attached to those qualities that the imperfections in the men that make up the world around us start to look absolutely intolerable, and discontentment arises within our hearts. What is the meaning of true love if not to love people with all of their quirks and imperfections? We can have love like in the movies—beautiful, fairy tale love—but only for a moment—real life holds even more beauty, because clinging to each other through thick and thin, and living with those things that drive you insane while still absolutely adoring one another is what defines unconditional love; a concept formed from the deepest part of God’s perfection!

Among the more vividly harmful problems is the temptation to indulge in love stories that focus too much on physical attraction. Keeping ourselves pure is just as much a mentality as it is an action. In order to remain pure for my future spouse, I need to guard against any kind of physical attraction and the best way to do that is to simply avoid anything that could stimulate that temptation. Where to draw the line is different with each person—we need to search our hearts, examine ourselves, and ask God for guidance. If we’re sincere and have a real desire to do what’s right, He will lead us and protect our hearts.

In conclusion; romance is beautiful, and it can have an incredibly positive effect on how we view life and love. God wants us to have enough joy to see our future love stories with the same exuberance as we feel when we watch these films. Keeping both excitement of what is to come and contentment with the here and now is difficult, but with patience and perseverance we can come out victorious and with our own Godly, quirky, imperfect, manly men to sweep us off our feet! (Lord willing.)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Purity - More then Meets the Eye

In modern Christianity there are often “overused words”. Those that are seen only at face value and used flippantly. “Purity” is one of those words with the “true love waits” movement that's filled with abstinence speakers and purity rings. But do we often miss out on what purity really is?

For me growing up, my parents were always clear about God’s plan for sex and I learned about it at a young age. My parent’s philosophy was that they would rather have us kids hear it from them and get a Biblical understanding of it even if that meant talking to us at young ages, then learning about it from the culture, friends, or media. As was appropriate at each age of life, my parents would be open to talk to us about it. Never have I believed anything different then God’s standard for sex to be in marriage.

At the age of about eleven I would listen and watch videos of abstinence speakers with my parents and older brother and read books on the subject. But along with other things, my most clear view of true purity, that which is more then physical was two years ago at the young age of twelve, reading Authentic Beauty (I’ve mentioned this book so much already, but there is a good reason for my doing so).

I realized that purity was much more then I had originally thought. It is not only a preservation of physical virginity, it’s also a great aspect of holiness. It is that of being pure and radiant amidst a generation wallowing in sexual sin. A “lily among thorns” complex that overtook every area of a person’s life. Even physical purity is more then a surface level of just virginity… it starts in the heart.

Abigail and I have emphasized the heart and emotional aspects of purity in our last two posts because it’s where everything starts. Proverbs 4:23 reminds us that we are to guard our hearts because from our hearts “flows the springs of life” (ESV). When our hearts are guarded and focused on purity, our physical purity will take on deeper meaning.

In our overly sexualized culture where promiscuity and premarital sex are the norm, the focus of Christians can become just hoping that teens will keep their basic virginity because that is difficult enough for them. Rarely does it come with a call and urging towards purity of the heart and the entire life. We settle for deeming the act of premarital sex a sin, but all that leads up to it as a normal part of growing up.

The temptations are strong in our culture and if we only ask the question of “how far is too far?” we are settling for so much less then what God’s plan is. God wants us, above all, to try with out entire beings to go above and beyond the expectations the world has set for us. If we are to honor our husbands all the days of our lives, we are to keep our bodies, which are meant for only our husband, sacred and set apart for the one man God will give us for life. We are not to leave our husband with the remnants of our virginity but seek to give him everything we have.

It’s not “what can I do without sinning?” but rather a question of “how much can I give to God and my husband?”. In a culture that tells us the most we can do is get by, we are to seek to thrive. We are to seek the best, and that is total purity of our bodies for one man. For me, I’ve chosen a few years ago that my first kiss would be on my wedding day and it excites me so much to envision a day when my husband will get to be the very first to express his love physically to me. I know that I will not regret it and that I will cherish that first kiss a million times more then those who have given it away carelessly. Above all, physical purity is a chance to glorify God:

“Flee sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a pride. So glorify God in you body.” I Corinthians 6:18-20 (ESV)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Guarding Friendships

In the first years of my life, one of the major things I remember thinking is that “boys have cooties!” I didn’t like to talk to boys, I wouldn’t sit next to boys, I wouldn’t even pretend to tolerate boys…I just didn’t like them! I knew exactly where I was supposed to be—gathering with my girls, giggling, and talking while the mischievous little boys were off doing their own thing; we would pay no heed.

Of course that didn’t include my brother, after all he wasn’t a boy to me but “my brother” and I actually spent most of my time with him. There were also a few of my brother’s friends whom I would play with on the occasion when I was little—I always had my role of the princess or maiden in distress to play when they would put on their swords, shields, and masks of knighthood, but I never found a little boy who I could be as comfortable with as I was with girls.

This was the face of my childhood—“sugar, and spice, and all things nice” vs. “Frogs, snails, and puppy dog tails”. The two go together in a sweet, storybook fashion. Girls wore bows and dresses, boys wore holes in their jeans and never ceased to adorn themselves with disheveled hair. To be completely honest, while I was “all girl”, I was also a little tomboy when I played with Jared. I often threw aside the bows and dresses to romp around the “forest” (our tree row) with Jared.

Throughout my young years, I did have my little crushes and such, but they were absolutely forbidden in my home so I kept them to myself. In my preteen years, I can honestly say: I wasn’t the type of girl to call boys “hot” or “cute”, and it made me fairly uncomfortable when girls I was with said those things. However, looking back—I can see that this is when the trouble truly began.

My momma has told me my whole life “The moment you render yourself incapable of doing something is the moment you’ll slip up and do it.” I always heard her say it, and I believed her; but as is typical with anybody, personal application was not something I was very good at.

I had some girl friends that had some very good friends who were boys. I had never had a good friend who was male (other than my brother) and again, my mom discouraged close boy/girl friendships (outside of sibling relationships). She’s always told me it was potentially very dangerous. It’s not that I didn’t believe her but I just didn’t think I would get close enough to a guy for it to be so.

I became casual friends with a few guys at the age of 11 or 12. I quickly realized that it was quite fun to grab their attention. I guess you would call that “flirting”. I never would have thought I would be the type to flirt, but that’s exactly what I was doing. Flirting is one of those things that feels really good while you’re doing it, but afterwards leaves you with this pit in your stomach; a feeling of sickening dissatisfaction. That disturbing feeling is dreadfully unpleasant, but surprisingly easy to ignore. And that’s exactly what I did with it—I ignored it until it formed a giant mass of vanity in my heart. I suddenly started to care about how I looked; how fashionable my clothes were, how big the heels on my shoes were, how my hair was cut, how big my earrings were…all merely for the sake of attention!

In time I realized that I didn’t like myself that way and my family wasn’t impressed either. They missed the little tomboy who threw her hair in a messy pony tail and put on flannel shirts and rubber boots. It was at this time that God began to work in my heart, and my mom shared her concern with me as well.

I started monitoring myself and purposed to view guys very differently. They were not a playing field. I would begin to look at them as friends…but how close should a girl/guy friendship be? A friend listens to you, gives you advice, understands you, accepts you, and loves you—yet another situation to consider.

I believe that my personal number one, God given source for these relationships is my family. I consider those friendships and supports to be among my greatest blessings in life. However, I can also see the value in friendships outside the home, and that is where confusion arises.

I think to a certain extent, both guys and girls can be friends, but we need to be careful whom we allow ourselves to get close to. What kind of things do we share with our friends? We share our dreams, desires, hopes, fears, struggles, temptations—we bare our souls to those who are close to us. Who do I want to have that kind of deep attachment with? Who should I allow to become that “in tune” with me? I don’t believe I should grow close enough to a guy where I feel that type of attachment emotionally. To bare my thoughts with another is a great bonder, and bonds formed with guy friends could someday plant seeds of envy in the heart of the man whom God has been planning to be part of my life all along. Should I, or do I really want to waste that precious gift of my heart on someone who won’t be a part of my future and will in fact rob my future husband of that special place?

“The moment you render yourself incapable of doing something is the moment you’ll slip up and do it.” I’ve realized that personal application is best exercised when you’ve learned the hard way. Over the past year, my conscience has taken a quiet beating. Not from relationship regrets, or impurity—simply from being ignorant to the dangers of something as innocent as friendship. It feels good to talk to someone who will listen, and it’s easy to ignore the gentle prodding of the conscience; but at the end of the day, I want to say that no man has ever seen my heart like the one that God has chosen to cherish me forever. Doing the right thing will always be worth it; no matter how difficult it is at the time of application.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Eyeball Rule

When I look back at my life two to three years ago I sometimes shutter. The way I acted towards my guy friends and even words that I used to describe guys, as mild as others may find them, grieves me. Debating which popular Christian rock star was “hottest”, giggling about my crush and swooning, not caring when I was being flirty, and those characterizing “qualities” of the modern jr. high girl. Two years ago God really got a grip on my heart and challenged me to be sold out for Him and to pursue holiness in every area of my life. How I related to guys changed drastically.

One of the things that sparked this change was reading Authentic Beauty by Leslie Ludy. Her husband Eric talks about how when realized that his future wife was out there are actually alive it changed many things for him. A few months previous, he had let God take control of his life in the area of romance and had decided that the next girl he dated would be his wife. One Friday night at a McDonalds with his college buddies, he had a moment of realization about his future wife and that “She’s alive!”

So how did this effect his life? Because of this realization, not only did he have a drive towards purity (as we will address in a later post), he also decided to live his life as if he future wife was with him. And this he called the “Eyeball Rule”.

When we examine our lives and thought lives we often don’t see ourselves honoring God or our future spouses by them. But when we live with a realization for the God that indwells all believers and the fact that we (most likely) have someone out there that we will marry, our actions are shaped.

Realizing the presence of God and the existence of our future spouse is amazing protection against temptations. When we are tempted to flirt, have impure thoughts, watch shows and movies that we should not, lust, and give away our hearts, the reminder of most importantly God’s presence and secondly our future husband can help us fight off temptations.

Above all we are called to a holiness. In Timothy 5:2 Paul commands men to treat younger women as sisters, and that doesn’t apply only to men. We are to treat all men with honor and respect for the sake of God, our future husbands, and the men’s future wives.

Some questions to ask yourself…
  • Do you flirt? Even slightly?
  • Do you use your power as a woman to manipulate or get your way?
  • Do you take advantage of guys?
  • Do you let anyone into your heart and share intimate things with them?
  • Do you watch TV shows and movies that breed lust in your heart?
  • Do you treat guys like brothers?
  • If the guy was married or in a relationship would you treat him the same way?
  • Do you find yourself lusting over good looking guys?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Honoring Our Future Husbands: Series Introduction

"She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life." Proverbs 31:12
One day I was reading through Proverbs 31, the famous “women” chapter , and I saw this verse and something struck me about it. I had heard and read it before, but it hadn’t set in until then. The simple word “all” had set a little light bulb off in my mind that has refused to go out.

The mentality in our culture is to think nothing of giving our hearts to guy after guy, to learn to effortlessly flirt with any cute guy that comes along, and to act with very little discretion in numerous ways. Especially when it comes to our relationships with guys we don’t often seek to honor our husbands. We go for the short term pleasure rather then pleasing God and loving our husbands all the days of our life.

The concept of being faithful to one's husband is commonly applied to the married woman. However, in referring to "all the days of our lives", wouldn't it include our childhood, teen, and single adult years? How do we honor someone if we don’t know who they are? We're going to do our best to share with you all our ideas on how to strive for this beautiful accomplishment. Many of these thoughts come from mine and Abigail's personal experiences and goals to honor our future husbands (if God blesses us with them) and God with our life.

We can not expect that when we are married all our bad habits are going to disappear and we will instantly become godly wives and women. It doesn’t work like that. We need to work towards honoring our husband; for it is not an instant thing and it is not something you only do while married. Above all we need to pursue godliness and seek to honor God above all else. May all that we do honor and glorify Him.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

False Freedom That Leaves Us Broken

“I was born in 1975, and from anorexia to date rape, from the utter inability to feel safe on the streets to stories about stalking and stalkers, from teenage girls finding themselves miserably pregnant to women in their late 30s and early 40s finding procreation miserably difficult, this culture has not been kind to women. And it has not been kind to women at the very moment that it has directed an immense amount of social and political energy to “curing” their problems.” - Wendy Shalit

I just read this in John Ensor’s book Doing Right in Matters of the Heart and my first thoughts was “wow, this is so true!” We live in an age that women can do more than in any time in history. In this last presidential election we had a woman running for both president and vice president. Women can get the highest levels of education and can be the CEO of major companies. Women can do almost whatever they could ever want!

Yet even with all of this “freedom”, I look around and see broken women. I look at the girls in my generation and I am distressed. I see all the depression, suicide, eating disorders, pregnancies, and STDs and my heart is broken. I see girls that are desperate for love yet only end up with broken hearts. In every generation it has gotten worse.

As humans we all long for completion. We long to not thirst for that mysterious thing that nothing can seem to satisfy. We seek to fill our lives with whatever seems to make us happy. We seek liberty from what we assumed was causing our unhappiness, only to be found with more unhappiness.

“Women’s Liberty” and feminism doesn’t save.

The gospel saves.

In all of this; in all of our thirstiness, in all of our discontentedness, in all of our brokenness, it all comes back to the fact that we are sinful people. Sinful people with a need for God. Saint Augustine said it better then I ever could when he said, “Thou hast made us for thy self, Oh Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee”.

Jesus is our hope, our joy, our completion, our fulfillment. Nothing else will satisfy the longings of our heart. No matter what man does to find happiness and joy it will fail. But Jesus will never fail.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Happy 16th Abigail!

 Our favorite lady around here is now 16! Her amazing mix of zaniness, loveliness, artistic flair, passion for Christ, and pure awesomeness makes her indispensable to the blog and to my life. :D Her friendship is valued VERY highly and her authorship is immensely loved. Happy sweet sixteen Abs and may God bless you and this new year! I'm so excited to see where this year takes you and to see you grow in your faith, maturity, and stunning beauty!! I love you dearly Abigail and have a great day!

[Note: I love this picture. :D]

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Death is Not Dying - Rachel's Story

 Rachel Barkey is a new found hero of mine. She's only 37 with a loving husband and two little kids but what makes her special is the fact that she's dying. She has cancer and has a very limited time left to live. Yet through this all she has a firm faith in Christ that holds her together. She spoke in March to a group of about 600 women. The event was videotaped for the sake of her children but when it was put online on her website it got attention from many, including me. I sat down and watched this 55 minute video and I cried a few time while doing it! Her story is amazingly moving and powerful. I encourage you all to watch this video, you wont be sorry if you do! I'm going to be showing this video to the small group Bible study I'll be leading this summer and so if you would like some discussion questions email me (see the link on the sidebar). Now go and check out the video! God bless. 

 {Note: Abigail and I are both  want to apologize for our lack of posting! We've had a very busy past few months and we hope you all understand. Go check out our blogs for some more info on what's up with us currently. I just talked to Abigail today and we both hope to be more faithful in our posting. So stay tuned for more posts soon!}

Monday, April 27, 2009

Pearls of Wisdom

Abigail and I are both very blessed by God to have been given two amazing mothers. They have been two of our closest friends and always a great source of wisdom. Our moms have both chosen to be fulltime home school moms and have invested greatly into our lives in a multitude of ways. They also both greatly enjoy writing. Abigail's mother blogs at Dancing Barefoot on Weathered Ground and has written a fantastic book, "In Faithfulness, He Afflicted Me". My mom hasn't had the chance to get her own blog up and going, or to write a book yet (though it's a dream for her), but still loves writing. (Scratch that! My mom just started a blog, Radical Womanhood, go check it out!)

With both of our moms being the holders of much wisdom, and with their mutual love for writing, Abigail and I decided to share our mothers with you all once a month. Hence the new feature, "Pearls of Wisdom". Every month, our moms will answer two of your questions each. To ask a question, just comment on this post. Make sure to add the "Pearls of Wisdom" button to your sidebar, so your blogging friends can come over and check it out too!


We both hope that God will teach you through the wisdom of our moms the same way He does every day of our lives. Now, go comment with your deep and thought provoking questions! :)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Modesty - An Act of the Heart

Olivia recently wrote a post called “Modesty and Pride”. Modesty is difficult to define, and even harder to apply to your personal life. Because of this, I decided to write my perspective on the subject. I believe the best way to finding true modesty is to examine your heart—in Christ, all of our answers lie. The answer to modesty is not laid out in black and white; but with our Father’s voice inside of a chaste and moldable heart, the grey fog can become a work of art.

For the new Christian, developing young woman, etc. modesty can be completely confusing. When I first started to develop a womanly figure, I didn’t know what to do with it. I grew up on a farm, and for the first 10 years of my life my typical garb consisted of overalls, a sweatshirt, and rubber boots. I was never into fashion, because I had no one to tell me that fashion was important…my best friends were (and still are) my family, and they were the only people I cared to please.

When did this change? Well, it’s hard to say exactly when, but as I neared my teen years, I met a few girls who dressed more fashionably than I did. I found myself constantly trying to impress them. At this time, I started trying to weasel my momma into buying me a pair of low rise, flared jeans by claiming that “they were more comfortable” and “I was all about comfort”. What was wrong with this? Was it the fact that I wanted to wear fashionable blue jeans?

The truth is I don’t believe modesty can be physically defined accurately. We are supposed to be set apart as daughters of the Almighty God—but how do we achieve that? Are we supposed to dress in only jumpers and tennis shoes? Are we supposed to quit wearing makeup? Are we supposed to wear our hair long? I’m not here to say that the people who do those things are wrong. If that is what you have been convicted is right, then I commend you. As long as you are in passionate pursuit of Christ’s favor, then you are righteous in His eyes.

I constantly come back to the importance of the new covenant. With Christ’s death, our heart attitude was given the upmost importance in the acquisition of righteousness. So, when determining what is “modest”, what we really need to be asking ourselves is “Why do I want to wear this?” This can apply to both fashionable and conservative clothing. I know, from my family’s experience, that it is easy to get caught up in the pride of being “holy”. In Christ’s eyes, this is the very definition of an immodest heart. What may physically appear to be the “holier” way is often the result of a soul that craves the feeling of being noticed. God is more interested in our hearts. If our hearts are focused on pleasing God, our clothing will be a little thing. God wants our hearts to be constantly yearning with every little ounce of fervor that they hold to honor Him in everything that they do.

Dressing in something that fits our personality isn’t sinful—it’s actually a good way for people to get a feel for who we are. I dress in my favorite fashions all the time…it feels good to look nice. Is my motive to make people look at me? There are days that I think too much about that, and I have to confess that to God—but should that make me abandon all prompting for self control and examination that Christ so desires us to give ourselves? I want to beat the odds, not crawl in a hole and cower at the first sign of sunlight threatening to burn my virgin skin. I want people who haven’t found Christ to look at me as someone that they can relate to, but also someone that has something that they don’t—something that they want. Life with Christ is eternal gain! What we choose to wear is so miniscule in comparison to that fact. Dressing in something that suits our taste isn’t any different than decorating our house with furniture we like, or listening to music that brings us inspiration or makes us smile. To me, modesty is, of course, partly about covering parts that might cause a male to lust, but modesty is also about showing discretion. Modesty doesn’t mean looking drab or frumpy, but rather looking like we care more about what God sees in us than what other people see on us. If we live life for the glory of Life, everything else will fall into place.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Unnamed Bride

I have many heroes and most of them are those heroes of the faith. Those people that have been so in love with God that they have given everything to Him and have served Him with a fierce passion. On my personal list of some of the best women of the faith there is Mary mother of Jesus, Glydas Aylward, Elizabeth Elliot, Amy Carmichael, Corrie Ten Boom, and the unnamed bride.

Not many have ever heard of this unnamed bride, she wasn’t even given a name in Richard Wurmbrand’s book Tortured for Christ, telling the story of Christians behind the iron curtain in Romania. But her story left a strong impression on my heart. Her amazing passion for her heavenly bridegroom was one of the most beautiful displays I have ever heard of. Her story is as follows:

“One of our workers in the Underground Church was a young girl. The Communist police discovered that she secretly spread Gospels and taught children about Christ. The decided to arrest her. But to make the arrest as agonizing and painful as they could, they decided to delay her arrest a few weeks, until the day she was to be married. On her wedding day, the girl was dressed as a bride -- the most wonderful, joyful day of a girl’s life! Suddenly, the door burst open and the secret police rushed in.

When the bride saw the secret police, she held out her arms toward them to be handcuffed. They roughly put the manacles on her wrists. She looked toward her beloved, then kissed the chains and said, “I thank my heavenly Bridegroom for this jewel He presented to me on my marriage day. I thank Him that I am worthy to suffer for Him.” She was dragged off, with weeping Christians and a keeping bridegroom left behind. They knew what happens to young Christian girls in the hands of Communist guards. Her bridegroom faithfully waited for her. After five years she was released, a destroyed, broken woman looking thirty years older. She said it was the least she could do for her Christ.” (Richard Wurmbrand, Tortured for Christ pg. 37 & 38)

Now that is a beautiful woman if I’ve ever seen one. That is a woman in love with her prince. That is a woman who I want to be like, whom I admire. That is the type of woman that we should be striving to become.
I know few woman who would have her attitude towards suffering for Christ. Who in their right mind would take joy in being taken away from you husband on your wedding day to be thrown into a horrible Communist prison? Only a person that is completely consumed with passion for the gospel and is filled with the power of the gospel.
No human power can do what our unnamed bride did. We aren’t strong enough in and of ourselves to serve Christ to that magnitude. If fact, we aren’t capable of doing that on even a small scale. It is only the power that the blood of Jesus holds that enables us to serve Him. Only the fact that He died for us gives us strength to die for Him. Paul says that the cross may be foolishness to the unbeliever, but to Christians it’s the very power of God. (I Corinthians 1:18)

This is what the cross can do to a person. This is what Jesus can do to a person; make them so wholeheartedly in love with their Savior that they would see suffering as pure bliss. When everything within us cries to become bitter and get mad at God, Jesus gives us the strength to stand firm in our faith. We are called to not be ashamed of the gospel because, as we saw in the previous verse, it‘s the very power of God! (Romans 1:16).
As we look back on our Easter celebrations, remember what Christ has done both to deliver us and to strengthen us. His blood is our strength and our life and that is an amazing thing! To think of what the blood of Christ means for women, what once was fearful and weak can become strong and brave through the power He has given. For “in him we live and move and have our being”. (Acts 17:28)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Serving Your Family With Joy

Today was a very unusual day for be for one particular reason. I cleaned.

Now you might be thinking, “uhh, that is something unusual for you, Olivia?” and might be getting worried about me. Don’t worry, I do help a lot with chores around the house and the cleaning. So it’s not the cleaning that is unusual, it was my attitude towards it.

Anyone that knows me well knows that I am not a type A and organized person. I’m a crazy, free spirited hippie chick that is a packrat and rarely notices clutter. But today felt different.

My mom and my younger siblings were going to the church gym with some other moms with young kids and were going to have lunch there and let the kiddos burn off some energy. I stayed home to get some rest from helping out with the boys all morning on top of getting over being sick. I had noticed before they left that the house was a little messy. The countertop was dirty and cluttered and the floor needed to be swept and there were dishes and laundry to get done. So I decided I would surprise my mom when she got home by doing some cleaning.

I ended up cleaning the entire house.

I swept, did dishes, laundry, tidied up the entire main level, swiffered the hardwood floors, cleaned the countertops, and even cleaned up my own room. And I enjoyed it! I felt such a thrill from serving my family. My mom is organized and loves things clean and tidy. Sadly, no one else in my family is like that and we tend to be a constant source of stress for her. But today I was able to serve my mom and truly the rest of my family because as we all know, if mom is happy, everyone is happy.

I felt very domestic and I felt a sense of purpose and fulfillment in serving my family in this way. In a way, I felt as if I was truly doing what God wanted me to do. It was very “Proverbs 31 Womanish”. I felt this way last fall also when I fixed a nice supper for my older brother and younger sister when my parents weren’t home that evening. I hadn’t made supper for my family in a long time because I had been busy. That feeling of doing what God created me to do was wonderful.

But how often do I forget how it feels to be in service to my family? How often would I rather sit down on the computer and IM my friends instead of getting off and fixing supper? How often do I groan and complain about chores? The answer to all those questions is “far too often”.

Though we shouldn’t blame the culture for everything, it plays a huge part in how we as women see fulfillment. Feminism has taken a toll on our world and on the church as well. There is nowhere that you can hide from it. It’s constantly telling us that we will find our purpose and joy in a career, that our families are annoying, and that we should spend as little time at home as we possibly can. Teenagers are also expected to never be at home, not know their family at all and find them annoying, hate their parents, and be selfish and lazy.

I don’t have to tell you how easy it is to get sucked into it. Everyday we must fight it off because it’s not only our culture but it’s our sin nature speaking. One of the attributes of the adulterous woman of Proverbs 7 is that “her feet do not stay at home”. We are often not content with our role to stay at home and to rise up to the job that God has given to us. I think this is part of the curse that women were given at the fall that we would want to rule over men. It’s part of our sin nature and it’s something we have to keep breaking down.

So how do we do that? The first obvious thing is prayer. We need to ask God to give us a heart for our homes and families and a willingness to serve them with a glad heart. The other obvious thing is to work on not grumbling and focusing on the bad. It’s so easy to do things grudgingly and with an “if I have to” sort of attitude. Prioritizing is a huge thing too. Working on making our families a priority in our lives, especially those of us who are teens or unmarried, it takes a little bit more effort to really invest in our families because we aren’t the parents.

One last thing that I want to mention is for you “older” women reading this, teach us! In Paul’s letter to Timothy he talks about older women teaching younger women how to love their husbands and children. You example is a huge help, but also your investing into our lives in great too. I love having godly women who are a few steps ahead of me in life to look at and have to surround me with love, encouragement, and teaching. Currently I’ve been finding a ton of encouragement from single women in their 20s and their example of serving their families while unmarried and redeeming their single years for Christ. No matter what you age is there is someone younger than you and someone for you to take under you wing and train.

There is such joy that comes from taking on the job of serving your family. It’s a joy that time and time again we forget about and we habitually don’t look at it with a joyful heart. But when we do look at serving our families as a calling from God and do it in order to ultimately serve Him, we can find such satisfaction is doing so.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Modesty and Pride

“Mommy, I want THAT dress!” cried my younger sister Corina while shopping with my mom one day. The dress in question was a huge, frilly, fancy dress and we don’t have any formal event coming up.
“That dress? Where would you ever wear that to?” my mom asked.
“To church.” she said simply.
“To church?” she asked perplexed. “Why?”
“Because then people would look as me and say, ‘what a beautiful dress you have!’ and everyone would talk about my dress.” (To which my mom commented that we don’t go to church to show others what we wear but to worship God.)

The dress that Corina wanted was modest. But the motive behind it was prideful.

We often focus strongly on being modest with our clothing. Any girl and woman knows the struggle with figuring out it an outfit is too high, too low, too tight, or too something else that could make it immodest. But how often do we take a look at the motives behind our modest clothing? Are we seeking to draw others attention to ourselves or have others think of us as beautiful and stylish? Do we seek to make ourselves “the best dressed” in order to pump up our pride?

Now I am very guilty of this. I love the feeling of wearing something that I feel really pretty in and I know that others will tell me that I look nice. It boosts my already far too big ego and pride, meanwhile killing my humility. The desire to be in the spotlight has been a lifelong struggle for me and as God is shaping my heart and life he’s shaping my pride; actually, it’s more like stomping it out slowly.

Pride can be deadly and it’s the root of all our sin. The first sin was pride, thinking themselves above God’s rule and desiring to be as great as Him. Our sins have continued in that pattern for thousands of years. We seek to glorify ourselves, so accomplish our own means, and to put ourselves before others instead of glorifying God and turning all men’s eyes to Him. We are told in Matthew 5:16 that “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” So how does this concept relate to how we dress?

When we dress immodestly or provocatively we are seeking for attention from people to go to a part of our anatomy, not to God or what He’s done for us and how He is sanctifying us. We are distracting the men around us from God and from things that matter more than our bodies. In I Timothy 2, Paul talks about how men should lift up holy hands in prayers and “likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.” What often times is the biggest distraction for men to pray with holiness is women around them that are dressed in a way that distracts them and makes them lust.

Sometimes it isn’t even about lust, sometimes what we wear can just be a distraction. On the “Christian” channel on cable (TBN) they had this one show on that we watched part of once and they had this lady with blue or pink hair walking around on stage while the preacher was talking. It was horribly distracting. She was modest, but the way she did her hair and makeup was taking all the attention off of the message of the sermon (which wasn’t any good actually). Like the story I shared earlier about Corina, the outfit was modest, but could easily be a distraction from worship.

Next time you get ready in the morning to go somewhere or go shopping for new clothes, ask yourselves what your motives are behind what you wear. Are you seeking to be modest in order that men will not see just your body but see character? Will the clothes you wear and the attitude you have draw others to Christ or to yourself? Are you wearing these clothes out of trying to obey God and represent Him well, or because of your pride and the desire to be noticed? These can be tough questions that we need to search our hearts for the answers. If and when we find that the answers aren’t so pretty, we need to rely on the power we have from the blood of Christ to fix the issues. So keep your eyes focused on Christ and bringing Him glory in all we do.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Dream Man

The world has it’s version of a “dream guy”. From Prince Charming and Ken (the doll) to the Jonas Brothers and Brad Pitt, our culture swoons at these figures and compares all men to them. Most girls dream from the first time they watched Cinderella to find their Prince Charming and be swept off their feet as he takes them back to their castle. Or they dream of riding off into the sunset in a very nice (red) convertible with Ken. Or, if you are a true romantic, you dream of someday becoming “Mrs. Darcy”

As a Christian, what do we look for as a “dream guy”? Do we keep with the “tall, dark, and handsome” list with a little morals and values tacked on? What is a biblical way to look at this? Well I want to introduce you to the manly equivalent on a Proverbs 31 woman; the Job 29 man.

God called Job a righteous man without any fault and this is what Job says about his life, “I delivered the poor who cried for help, and the fatherless who had none to help Him. The blessing of him who was about to perish came upon me, and I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy. I put on righteousness, and it clothed me; my justice was like a robe and a turban. I was eyes to the blind and feet to the lame. I was a father to the needy, and I searched out the cause of him whom I did not know. I broke the fangs of the unrighteous and made him drop his prey from his teeth.” Now that is what I call a “dream guy”, at least in my mind.

When thinking of this subject the other night some great men came to my mind. What if there was a man with King David's heart of worship, Daniel's courage, Paul and Peter's boldness, Isaiah's willingness, Stephen's readiness to die, John's lovingkindness, Solomon's wisdom, Noah's faith, and the Boaz's redeeming awesomeness all in one? Now THAT would be a true dream man. Of course the only one with all of the admirable qualities of these men and none of the flaws is Jesus.

In essence, the dream man is Jesus Christ. He is the perfect man who is not someone we only read about in the Bible, but we are in a beautiful romance with. He is our Prince Charming and the light of our life. Or at least He should be. Girls, we are offered to be a part of the most beautiful romance in history with the most handsome and wonderful Prince to ever walk the earth. He will fulfill all of our needs and is the only one who can make our lives complete.

Earthly romance is a wonderful thing and a blessing from God. But for us as young women we should be concerned with one love, one romance. That amazing romance we are given with Jesus Christ. He is to be the love of our life and passion of our souls. for we have a "dream guy" that loves us enough to even die for us! What beauty that holds! All we have to do now is let Him become our handsome prince.

Monday, March 16, 2009

We're Still Here!

“Oh where, oh where have those little girls gone? Oh where, oh where could they be? With their craziness and spunk so strong, oh were, oh were could they be?” I have a feeling that some of you have been singing that song when checking back here to look for new posts (if you even have done so). Well life has been busy for us, especially me.

Only a week ago I got two new little brothers ages 2 ½ and almost 1 (go here to read more about it) and that has kept my life incredibly busy. My whole family is adjusting to having little munchkins running around and all the changes that come with little kids. Between school, chores, and helping out with the boys, I don’t have much free time until they go to bed. I’m also in a play right now, so life is busy and that means that posting is slow.

I have two posts that I’ve been working on right now that should be ready within a few days (or at least that’s the goal). While you are waiting for posts, I would love for you guys to check out a few of these things:

  • Project Rescue: An awesome mission working with victims of forced prostitution in India and Nepal. Go here to read my post on Project Rescue.
  • Beauty From the Heart: A fantastic blog that is actually doing a conference this year. If you are in one of the areas that is hosting a conference then it’s something that you really should go to! Also, Hannah’s (one of the authors) brother Tyler got into a huge ATV accident awhile ago and he can really use prayers.
  • Encouraging Manhood: This article by Leslie Ludy (a personal hero of mine) is absolutely wonderful! It’s on the state of manhood in our culture and church and a call for Christ like manhood and showing women how we can help encourage it in the men in our lives. (Warning: it’s quite blunt about the sexual sins of men so use discretion before reading.)
  • Chivalry: My dear friend Trey recently wrote a two part series on his blog about chivalry that is excellent!(Go here to read it.) It’s mainly written towards guys but I found it very beneficial to know what to look for and encourage. This guy also practices what he preaches.

Hopefully that will keep you all busy for awhile. We will be back and posting soon and until then may God bless you and keep you all!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

A Heart of Humility

Where do we find the balance between confidence and egotism? In the fight for the qualities of a virtuous woman, it can be easy to slip from the simple security of righteousness to the abuse of acknowledgement of one’s own righteousness. I think—though it is unique to each age, generation, and stage of spiritual maturity—we all struggle with this.

It feels good to do what’s right; as a matter of fact, I think it verges on the best feeling we can get on this earth. I think the majority of the time, we’re quite aware of the things that we do the right way. The trouble appears when we start to take advantage of our good judgment—we build ourselves up in our own minds, and in the process destroy our relationships.

Proverbs 27:2 says, “Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips.” At first, it feels really nice to be able to tell people the things that you did right; but eventually, people start to look at you differently. You’re no longer the object upon which they can cast their respect, because you’ve taken every honorable trait that you had and mauled its appeal. The strongest message in the Gospel is to love…love the Lord, and love your neighbor as yourself. So, when we’re constantly boasting about what we’ve done right, what is that saying to the receivers of our gloating? It may not feel like it, but that’s a very quick way to demean a person.

Matthew 5:20 says “For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” When Christ died on the cross, He did not take away the law, He fulfilled it. In His death, we gained freedom, but with that freedom came a new responsibility—the responsibility which was presented earlier in Matthew 5 with the beatitudes. When we’re told to exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, it’s clear instruction to not only be upright, but to have an upright heart.

To fulfill Christ’s wishes, we must cast away our pride and self-righteous mindsets. He is the only one who can emanate true righteousness. Conceited virtue isn’t virtue at all. In the constant struggle to be a truly beautiful woman, we must never forget the importance of our dependence on Christ to fulfill each and every good thing that we do. In His righteousness is our confidence.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Calling to be Set Apart

“The preoccupations of seventeen year old girls ___ their looks, their clothes, their social life ___ do not change very much from generation to generation. But in every generation there seem to be a few who make other choices. Amy was one of the few.” (Elizabeth Elliot in her book A Chance to Die: The Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael)

That quote inspires me. It stirs up something deep within me, a desire to be different. I look at the lives of both Elizabeth Elliot who wrote the book and Amy Carmichael, the subject of the book, and I desire the faith that they have. Both of these women are such great examples of what Abigail was talking about in her last post, that quiet strength that is held in check by meekness.

If you take a look at their lives, the strength you see is mind blowing. Amy Carmichael left her home and family to venture across the ocean to bring the gospel to India. She spent 53 years without furlough, rescuing temple girls that were forced into prostitution and housing hundreds of girls and eventually boys as well. Elizabeth Elliot gave God control of her love life and after waiting many years, she married Jim Elliot who died only a few short years after. Later, she went back to the very people that violently killed her husband and shared the gospel with them. If that doesn’t take incredible strength, then I don’t know what does.

God has called each one of us to live a life of devotion and worship to Him, a strong and vibrant life. Leslie Ludy, whom I first heard this quote from, talks about that beauty and radiance that we all as women desire in her book Set Apart Femininity and about how we find that beauty in Christ and in a radically sold-out life for Him. He removes us of our filthiness and clothes us in His beautiful robes of righteousness.

We see all this extreme shallowness that has taken over the western world. The constant striving for outward beauty, popularity, relationships with men, and fame. The preoccupations of teenage girls have not changed from Amy’s generation, to Elizabeth’s, to ours, they have just become more blatant. But what will we do? Will we raise up like the great woman of faith that have come before us and make other choices? Will we be one of the few? Or will we be content to conform to this world and the choices it makes, never daring to stand out or be different? It’s a choice we all need to make eventually, what will you choose?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Quiet Strength

As I pondered the meaning of a “meek and quiet spirit” today, I realized that the true meaning of the phrase has been completely disemboweled. I did some research on the current definitions of the words “meek” and “quiet” and this is what I found.

Meek - overly submissive or compliant; spiritless; tame
Quiet – restrained in speech, manner, etc.; saying little


I was not shocked, but was disappointed with the interpretations of these once beautiful words. Unfortunately, I have found that those who are set on obtaining the heart of a righteous woman, though their intents may be perfectly respectable, are often plagued by the knowledge of these contemporary interpretations.

When the instructions to be of a meek and quiet spirit were written, these words were specifically chosen to move in alongside the other descriptions of the ideal woman creating a perfect image of what Christ desires us to be. However, given the new definitions, meekness seems to reflect weakness, and quietness is comparable to being anti-social. Does God really want us, His daughters, to be weak and anti-social? The answer is a firm, and doubtless “No.”

I read through Proverbs 31:10-31, and found some specific excerpts which reject the misconceptions of desired frailty in women. Much of this passage focuses on the strength of a woman. Not only does it mention time and time again the productivity of a woman with her hands and mind, but it places so much importance on her strength, that it says “Strength and honor are her clothing.” A woman cannot be honored for her strength unless it is a vibrant, energetic, and contagious strength. This strength—I believe—is not vanquished, but simply held in check by meekness.

Quietness is a bit trickier to define. I used to always think of limited speech when I read this scripture, which confused me since I knew that our purpose as kin of Jesus Christ is to spread His love with a loud voice. However, I think in this case, it is referring to a state of peacefulness in simply trusting—whether it be in a spouse, a dad, or above all, our Savior. Surrender is so often called of us as women. We are not to be in positions of power, but our greatest strength is in our quietness. Many of our duties we will have as women will never be given the recognition that those of a great leader would receive; but when we accept that knowledge, and embrace the quiet strength that we have in diligence, our strength is at its finest. Our honor will be found in strength without earthly reward. The blessings we receive from our Savior may be the only recognition we ever receive, but those blessings are also the most precious rewards we could ever acquire.

Our roles in life as potential wives and mothers will hold challenges. We will be tried every day of our lives—our patience, and essentially our love for others, will be tested more often than we can imagine. It’s human nature to want somebody to recognize when we’ve succeeded at something. The hardest things to do are the ones which get no immediate reward. In those times, we need to remember God’s instruction to have a meek and quiet spirit, and take a moment to smile with the knowledge that He is smiling right back at us.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Redeeming Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is the most loved and the most hated day in America. For most people, their feeling about this day can change every year, usually depending on their situation in life. I always just liked it because I really, really, really like chocolate… (but we won’t get into that now.) For some reason I’ve been thinking about it more this year, is it really just a greeting card holiday? Or does it hold a little bit more to it?

Valentine's Day can be slightly depressing for the most content single person, and believe me, I’m VERY content (as well as very young), but for a Christian single person, should it be that way? Should we have our moment of self pity that we have to wait or that we can’t have “fun” like every other teen out there? I know in my mind that the answer is no, sometimes it’s the connecting it with my heart that’s harder. (I found this article an excellent one on this topic.)

A thought really grabbed me about a month ago, that I should make a decision that for the rest of my life, whether single or married, that I will celebrate Valentine's Day with joy.

When we think of Valentine's Day we always think of the romance type of love, but that sort of love shadows in comparison to the true love, the love that was shown at Calvary when Christ’s blood was shed so we could be redeemed. Why can’t we turn Valentine's Day into a day to celebrate more than what our culture calls “love” but is only a fake imitation, usually "glorified lust"? I see no reason why not.

This Valentine's Day I am going to be spending it doing some serious praying; thanking God for His radiant example of true, real, authentic love; love that is so much more then what the TV screen promotes. But in addition to that, I really want to spend some time praying for my future husband; that God will be molding and shaping His heart into the most wonderful man on the planet and that I will be able to honor this man that God already has picked out for me. And of course, I’ll have some chocolate… :)

I’m thoroughly looking forward to “Singles Awareness Day” this year. I truly want to make it into a meaningful holiday that is a celebration of both earthly love and heavenly love. The heavenly love is so much better then the earthly romance, it looks like wilted weeds compared to the perfect rose of the love that was in the blood of Christ.

I want to encourage you all to “claim” Valentine's Day for Christ. To make this into a meaningful holiday that’s more about “googley-ness” and chocolate (though I think there should be a National Chocolate Day… that would be the best!), but instead something that is meaningful and sacred in a way. May you all have a blessed Valentines Day and may Christ’s love fill your hearts with joy that’s better then world class chocolate. :)