Monday, July 9, 2012

Answer to a question as old as man?

I was reading Romans 3, and verses 4-8 really stood out to me.

Romans 3:4-8 (ESV):
4 By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written, "That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged."
5 But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.)
6 By no means! For then how could God judge the world?
7 But if through my lie God's truth abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner?
8 And why not do evil that good may come?-as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just.

So many times, people have asked themselves, is it okay to lie to protect someone else? or is it okay to lie to an enemy? Corrie Ten Boom, one of my heroes, wrote in The Hiding Place that her family discussed the lying issue while hiding Jews in their home during the Nazi invasion. Corrie thought it was okay to lie to soldiers about having Jews in their home, but her sister Nollie did not. When soldiers banged on the door of their house to search for men to force into their army, they quickly hid the men in the potato cellar under the table. Corrie felt that it was an obvious hiding place, but they didn't have much time. They let the soldiers in, who demanded to know where the men were. Nollie told them that they were under the table, and Corrie couldn't believe her ears. The soldiers looked under the table without noticing the cellar, and they thought that Nollie was teasing them. They stomped out, and the men were safe.

Corrie lied to protect the Jews, and it seemed necessary to do so, but when Nollie refused to lie, God blessed that decision and protected the boys Himself. I believe that these verses answer the question, "Is it okay to lie when...?" If you lie to bring about good, God will still count that lie as sin because it is wrong no matter what. This just fascinated me because I've wondered about it for so long. As I read about people hiding Jews and slaves, I thought that lying really was necessary and that it would be stupid to tell the truth. But now I believe that God wants us to tell the truth, even in the impossible situations, and He'll take care of the rest!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

"When Can I Fall?"

My dad was telling me about his coworker's four-year-old boy who recently got his head run over by a golf cart. The doctor installed a metal plate in his head that will become his skull as he grows, and he has recovered remarkably well. On the way to the doctor for a check-up, he told his mom authoritatively, "I want to see the doctor. I need to talk to him." When she asked him what he needed to say, he replied, "I need to ask him: when can I run, when can I jump, when can I ride my bike, and when can I fall." I was so surprised by this little boy's last question. What a cutie! The last question showed some insight on life. The boy knew that he was going to fall; it's just part of life, and he was planning on it. The doctor told him that he could run, and he could jump, but he couldn't fall that week. Obviously, the doctor couldn't control whether or not the boy fell, but he would keep him from falling if he could.

After we get injured spiritually, we usually need some recovery time. We know we're going to fall again, but God won't give us more than we can handle.

1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV):
"No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it."

Another thing about temptation is that God doesn't cause it, so don't blame Him.

James 1:13 (ESV):
"Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am being tempted by God,' for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one."

I think God is probably like that doctor, knowing that we're not ready for a fall immediately after a spiritual emergency. He gives us some recovery time, and if you feel like you're getting pounded by temptation after temptation, realize that God won't give you more than you can bear. Rely on his strength to battle your temptations.

Philippians 4:12-13 (ESV):
"12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.
13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me."

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Summer Reading

Here's a "sweet sixteen" list of some of my favorite books:

1. Gifted Hands by Ben Carson

2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

3. The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson

4. Rachel's Tears by Beth Nimmo and Darrell Scott

5. The Journals of Rachel Scott

6. The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

7. In the Presence of my Enemies by Gracia Burnham

8. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

9. Joni by Joni Eareckson

10. Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot

11. The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria Augusta Trapp

12. Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris

13. Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank B. Gilbreth, Jr., and Ernestine Carey (some language, I think, our copy has white-out :)

14. The Summons to Become by Rachel Chambers

15. Twice Pardoned by Harold Morris

16. Bruchko by Bruce Olson

I love to read! I'm always looking for more books that help me develop and grow in my faith. Do you have any suggestions? If so, please share them in a comment below.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Should We Avoid Guys?

So...should we avoid guys? I was talking with a friend in her mid-twenties, and she was giving me advice for college. She said that I should not be friends with guys, but that I should politely avoid them. That idea sounded silly to me, but many girls think that way or are taught that way. Then I realized that she hadn't had any brothers, and she really didn't understand guys very well. I have three brothers and no sisters, so I typically connect with guys better than I do with girls. If girls aren't used to guys, they sometimes develop a victim's mindset toward guys, thinking that every guy wants to be friends to get something from them.

1 Timothy 5:1-2 (ESV):

1 Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers,
2 older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.

Those verses are talking about believers relationships with each other.
Obviously, if we're treating the young men like brothers, we aren't ignoring them (unless you ignore your brothers, which is a bad idea:). Ignoring guys just because they're guys is prejudice, selfish, and silly. But forming relationships with guys is just like any other relationship: you must be careful. There are some creepy guys out there that you shouldn't be hanging out with, and if any guy gets more serious about you than you want him to, you should make it clear to him that you just want to be friends, and if he pushes it, avoid him.

2 Corinthians 6:14 (ESV):

14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?

This verse is often used for marriage, but it applies to every relationship. Don't make unspiritual people your best friends or mentors, and it's best not to spend too much time with guys who aren't believers. But, in general, enjoy the guys; they liven up our world and make it more fun to live in! Avoiding them makes you appear snobbish and stuck-up. Enjoy friendships, but be careful to avoid crushes on and emotional games with your guy friends. Wait for your special man.

Friday, April 27, 2012

What Will Jesus Think? #2

This is for you, Tamika. I guess I should tell you the rest of my audition story. I came out of that audition feeling like a failure, and they told me that I would get a letter containing their decision by two weeks. Within two business days, I received a letter from them informing me that I had received a $12,000 scholarship! I was very thankful and encouraged. When I stand before Jesus, I won't be auditioning, please don't think I meant that; He has already written my name in the Lamb's Book of Life. But He will reward me based on how I live my life; there are many different crowns in Revelation for specific things. He doesn't give everyone the same thing no matter if they worked or not, but rather He chooses to reward initiative and diligence with something special.

Matthew 25:14-30 (ESV):
14 "For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property.
15 To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away.
16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more.
17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more.
18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master's money.
19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them.
20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, 'Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.'
21 His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.'
22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, 'Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.'
23 His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.'
24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, 'Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed,
25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.'
26 But his master answered him, 'You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed?
27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest.
28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents.
29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.
30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'

Luke 19:11-26 (ESV):
11 As they heard these things, he proceeded to tell a parable, because he was near to Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately.
12 He said therefore, "A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return.
13 Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas, and said to them, 'Engage in business until I come.'
14 But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, 'We do not want this man to reign over us.'
15 When he returned, having received the kingdom, he ordered these servants to whom he had given the money to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by doing business.
16 The first came before him, saying, 'Lord, your mina has made ten minas more.'
17 And he said to him, 'Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.'
18 And the second came, saying, 'Lord, your mina has made five minas.'
19 And he said to him, 'And you are to be over five cities.'
20 Then another came, saying, 'Lord, here is your mina, which I kept laid away in a handkerchief;
21 for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man. You take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.'
22 He said to him, 'I will condemn you with your own words, you wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow?
23 Why then did you not put my money in the bank, and at my coming I might have collected it with interest?'
24 And he said to those who stood by, 'Take the mina from him, and give it to the one who has the ten minas.'
25 And they said to him, 'Lord, he has ten minas!'
26 'I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.

In these parables, Jesus appears to be talking about heavenly rewards from earthly lifestyles. We need to invest our lives for Him. I don't want to be negative about it, rather I want to be enthusiastic about living for Jesus. I'm sorry for bringing you down, girl.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Missions Minded = Burning Heart

I was on the Lies Young Women Believe blog the other day, and one girl posted a comment about her desire to be a missionary. She said that although her heart is burning with the desire to be on the mission field, she is only a freshmen in high school and hasn't had the opportunity to experience missions. I know exactly how she feels, and I have a feeling many young ladies do too. I replied to her comment, hoping to encourage her, and afterwards I thought that missions would make a great topic to post. I have read so many wonderful books and seen some great movies about missionaries, and after I'm through, my heart gets very heavy from the need for missionaries. I have also seen some very ineffective and even failing missionaries, and after reading about them, my heart gets heavy from the need for spirit-led missionaries. Instead of promoting the Gospel, they leave a bad name for Jesus by living a self-indulgent, undisciplined life. Many people tend to get caught up in the emotional experience of great missionaries' testimonies, and they feel as though they're on a "spiritual high." They think that they've been called to missions, but in reality they are on an emotional roller coaster. Other people choose missions for selfish reasons. They think of how wonderful it would be to live in a different country with a group of churches supporting them for their every need, and all in the name of sharing the Gospel. There are many other reasons as well, but if you think that you may be called to missions, examine your motives and make sure the reason isn't because you need a little excitement in your life. The correct motives for missions are evangelism and service. Full-time foreign missions is a wonderful goal if you have a calling from God. But remember that all Christians are called to full-time missions wherever we are.

Here's my reply to the missions-minded girl:

I also think that local ministries are a great way to get started in missions. I have had a strong interest in missions for many years, but I have been in a situation much like yours: too young, small church with no missions trips, and a dad who doesn't want to lose me. I volunteer at my local right-to-life center, help teach a kid's class at church, and help with the music ministry at church and occasionally nursing homes. Find your gift and use it. There are probably several ministries that would interest you in your area. Sometimes we have to wait for the big stuff, but while we're waiting we need to gain experience and be faithful in the little stuff. My dad gave me some good advice. He said that so many people say they want to be an overseas missionary or a pastor or in some kind of full-time ministry, but they never do anything for God in their life as it is. What is missions about? It's about reaching unsaved people for Christ and discipling Christians. It's about service; sometimes missionaries aren't winning tons of people to the Lord, but rather they are scrubbing toilets and peeling potatoes because that is what they need to do. So my dad told me that if I wanted to be a missionary, I needed to show him my true commitment for real service by doing all I can now; there are so many unsaved and needy people all around us. Pray and ask God what He wants you to do. Maybe He will open the doors for you to be a foreign missionary. But until He does, develop a servant's heart where you are. We can work on it together :) P.S. Practice on your family; they are usually the hardest to serve!

Missions is so important, and if you are called overseas, may God bless your ministry abundantly. Maybe someday I will get the chance to go. Until then, I will try to minister wherever I am.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

An awesome devotional...

I have been reading My Utmost for his Highest by Oswald Chambers, and it has been absolutely amazing. It has just one page for every day, making it a great addition to your daily Bible reading without overwhelming you. Oswald Chambers manages to fit a very deep and provoking thought into every day, and I have learned so much from him. I definitely recommend the book to all Christians who want to get closer to God. Expect to be challenged to change your lifestyle and thought-process!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Seeking Direction

The whole college planning thing has had me so stressed this year, with all the decisions, deadlines, and life-changing opportunities. Maybe you're going through the same thing or are already worrying about the time you will be going through the same thing. Let me tell you something: worrying has gotten me nothing but stress and backsliding in my relationship with Jesus. When I start to worry, my prayer life slows down or stops completely and I feel absolutely miserable. At different times this school year the pressure built up so much that I would say, "Here, Lord, please take this problem for me, and open the doors that lead me through the path you want me to follow." And that's when my stress would subside. Every time I ask God to handle it instead of me, He handles it very well. He provides the opportunities that I need, but when I try to handle it through my own strength, I fail miserably. So instead of stressing about everything, give it to God and focus on seeking Him. If you seek Him and focus your energy and attention on Him, He will take care of you and give you the very best. You may not agree with all of His decisions at first, but it usually doesn't take long to see the wisdom of His ways, and then you feel so thankful and relieved that you weren't handling it, because you probably would have botched everything up.

Proverbs 3:1-8 ESV (about success):

"1 My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments,
2 for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you.
3 Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart.
4 So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man.
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
7 Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.
8 It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones."

Monday, April 16, 2012

Craft Idea

My cousin made me a graduation present and gave it to me on Easter. I thought it was a neat idea, so I'm going to share it. I haven't tried it yet, but it looks pretty simple. Start by choosing a picture out of a coloring book; my cousin chose a Precious Moments girl with a graduation outfit on. Next, find some acrylic paints with your desired colors and a photo frame big enough to fit the picture on. Take the glass out of the frame, and put your picture underneath it. Trace the outline of the picture with a permanent marker (she used a black Sharpie) onto the glass. Lastly, fill the traced picture in with acrylic paints and let dry. Put the glass back in the frame with the painted side facing in. I believe she put a textured, colored piece of card stock behind the picture, which really improves the look, I'm sure. I think your picture will be the opposite direction of what it is in the coloring book, so remember that and make any necessary adjustments while tracing.

Update: Top picture is my finished product :)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

What will Jesus think?

I auditioned for the first time at a local university yesterday, and it was a nerve-wracking process, especially for a naturally-shy person like me. My main instrument is piano, which I have taken for ten years, but I have really wanted to develop my voice, so I auditioned in voice. I have only taken voice lessons a little longer than a month; I felt foolish and stupid when they asked me who my choir director was. I had to tell them that I've never been in choir because I'm homeschooled, and they looked shocked that I would even think of auditioning in voice with so little experience. As I sang the two songs that I had prepared, four professors scribbled notes furiously on their clipboards. And as I sang, I imagined what they must be writing: "student has poor control of airflow," "student's voice is weak", "student has low quality," and "THIS GIRL THINKS SHE CAN SING?!!" Of course, the more I imagined, the worse I got and I rushed through my songs. My mind turned to mush, and I couldn't concentrate on the sight-singing tests. All of the professors were encouraging and polite, even helpful, but I couldn't settle my nerves in front of them because I knew they were judging my abilities and I knew that I was lacking. Afterward, I thought that maybe that is a mild version of what it will be like when we go before Jesus. He is the kindest judge ever, but we will feel so inadequate in His presence. As we stand before Him, we will probably think about all of the things we could have done to be better prepared, and we will be ashamed at our ignorance and lack of experience. So one good thing from that embarrassing audition is that I realized my inadequacy before Jesus. If He came today, I would only be able to hang my head in shame because of my wasted life. I determined to be better prepared, and although I can never be entirely what I should be in this life, I am going to strive to make the biggest difference I can. I want to hear Jesus say to me, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Sunday

Happy Resurrection Sunday! I'm so glad that Jesus is alive. I woke myself up this morning with David Phelps singing "He's Alive." This is a wonderful day to praise Jesus!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Good Friday

Thank God for saving you from your sins! Today is such a special day to meditate on His sacrifice. Can you believe that? God sacrificed Himself for us, mere human beings that He created. I plan to read the crucifixion/Easter story from all four gospels this weekend and just try to really understand what He went through and what that means to me. Anybody want to try it with me?

Saturday, March 31, 2012

My Favorite Nursing Home Stories

In the previous post, I mentioned that my family visits nursing homes. We have some funny stories that I'd like to share.

The first one is my most embarrassing one. This happened before my family started visiting nursing homes. I was nine years old, and I was in a girl's group called Pre-Excel at a seminar for a week. On the last day, we visited a nursing home to sing the songs that we had learned that week. The night before I was fretting aloud about it to my mom. I was always a shy girl, and I was very nervous about visiting with so many strangers and singing in front of a whole nursing home. My mom, who was always my rescuer, said that I could attend the adult seminar with her if I didn't feel like going to the nursing home. I was very tempted, but I decided that I needed to overcome my fear. I went to the nursing home, and the singing went fine, but then we were told to go chat with the people. I looked around; some of the people were sleeping through all of the commotion, some of them were talking very loudly, some of them were acting a bit crazy. I looked some more and found a nice, normal-looking lady that appeared to be pretty safe, so I slowly walked towards her. I said hello, and we started talking; she was a very sweet lady. I was tongue-tied, and I couldn't hold a conversation very well because of my shyness. I answered any question that she asked me, and then I would ask her the same question to keep the conversation going. She asked me where I lived. I told her and asked her the same thing. She replied with a startled look, "Well, I live right here!" I thought, "How stupid can I get?!" Of course, I tried to recover and say that I meant, "Where did you live before?" but I was just fumbling for words in my embarrassment.

The rest of the stories are after my family started visiting nursing homes regularly.

My brothers and I went to sing and play guitar at a local nursing home, and there were two sweet Alzheimer's ladies there, Gracie and Ruth. Gracie thought that my brother Jon was very handsome, and she told him so. She also told him that if she ever found a handsome young man, she'd marry him, that's what she'd do! We later found out that she'd had eleven children. Ruth asked me my name, and after I told her that it was Grace, she smiled and told me enthusiastically that that was her mother's name. She asked me my middle name, so I told her Elizabeth. She looked a bit disappointed as she said, "Oh, my mother's name was Grace Mildred." She was my friend the rest of the night, though, and she asked me what my name was several times, always going through the same dialogue about her mother. She was so cute. At the end of the night, she put her arm in mine and asked me to walk her back to her room. On the way there, she asked me my name. Her mother's was Grace Mildred.

We visited Ruth and Gracie several times, and I found out that although Ruth couldn't remember the answer she got to a question just a minute ago, she could remember every detail of her life before her disease. She would rattle off the names of her children and grandchildren, the addresses she had lived at, and the churches she had attended. When we brought her a Christmas card with a nativity on it, she read it very intelligently. She put down the card and said,"You know, I've always wondered, what was Mary thinking? What was she going through? She was going to have the Son of God." every year after that we would bring her a Christmas card and wait for her to say, "You know, I've always wondered, what was Mary thinking? What was she going through? She was going to have the Son of God." She read her Bible every day; I love that pleasant, godly lady.

One time we visited Ruth and asked her how Gracie was doing. She said that Gracie was in her room taking a nap. "She needs lots of naps; she had eleven children and has some catching up to do," she said with a twinkle in her eye. A man working there informed us that Gracie had died a while back, but she was still very alive in Ruth's mind. I felt so sad, but I thanked God for sparing Ruth's mind from that news and for giving her such joy.

Another lady we loved to visit was Peg. Peg was much more out of it than Ruth. She could hardly hear, her mind would slip into oblivion, and she would start singing unintelligible songs no matter what was going on. She didn't care much for any of us except my little brother Daniel. She'd look at him and smile and say, "What a cute little boy! Where do you go to school?" She'd always ask him that.

When we were eating supper with Peg, my mom asked Peg pleasantly whether she liked cats or dogs better. Peg asked "WHAT?" My mom repeated the question. Peg asked "WHAT?" Peg's relative told Peg the question, and Peg looked at my mom and replied, "I don't know, WHY?" in a tone that displayed her disgust and told us that she thought that was the stupidest question she'd ever heard.

Another time, the nursing home held an outdoor picnic for us and the residents. My brother Andrew asked Peg, "Do you want to eat outside?" She replied grumpily, "I don't care." After a little bit, Andrew asked her again, because Alzheimer's patients aren't supposed to remember anything. She scowled at him and answered him harshly, "I told you; I don't care!" Poor Andrew looked chastened.

My mom, Daniel and I went with our friend to take her husband back to the Alzheimer's ward after a worship time. When we walked in, a tiny, old woman named Emma saw Daniel and thought he was the cutest thing. She moved in close to his face and gradually got closer and closer as she gazed into his eyes. He backed up into a wall, and just when I thought the lady was going to kiss him, our friend said, "Emma, he's my boyfriend; you can't have him!" We all burst out laughing, and poor Daniel's face kept getting redder and redder.

If you made it this far, congratulations, and I hoped you enjoyed the stories. I have a special place in my heart for the elderly, and I want you to, also.

The Gaither Vocal Band

Two of my brothers and I were practicing songs last night to sing at nursing homes. Daniel played the piano by ear, and Jon and I sang. Daniel and I love the Gaithers and the Gaither Vocal Band, but most people our age have never heard of them. As Mark Lowry, a member of the GVB who wrote "Mary, Did You Know," says, you will have a hard time finding a handicap parking place at a Gaither Homecoming concert because so many older people come. But my family, except for Jon, loves the Gaithers, and as we were singing "Rock of Ages," I couldn't help but sing it Vestal Goodman style, or "Vestler" style, as Jon ignorantly referred to her. Daniel pounded away at the piano, jazzing up every song in an attempt to play like Gordon Mote, the Gaithers' amazing blind pianist. On one song, I tried to add a Guy Penrod moment, and we sang a couple of songs Bill Gaither style, which is always very entertaining, half talking and half singing like he does. We usually try to do a David Phelps thing on every other song or so, but we restrained ourselves last night. We also quote Mark Lowry quite frequently around the house; he is hilarious. Jon was not amused by our antics; I guess we will have to get serious next practice. We love to visit nursing homes, though, and although it was awkward at first, we are starting to get used to the strange smells and sounds, some of the people's oblivion, and the embarrassing affection that sometimes gets heaped upon us. So many people at nursing homes are starved for affection, and they love to see fresh, young faces visiting them. I have seen so many Alzheimer's patients (who often can't remember a thing and sometimes can't even talk) sing every old hymn that is played; it is amazing. Music puts such joy in their hearts, and it is wonderful to watch them praise their savior. If you had no idea what I was talking about the first half of this post, then you are missing out. So when you get a chance, visit your local nursing homes and check out the Gaither Vocal Band :).

Friday, March 30, 2012

The Proverbs 31 Woman

Proverbs 31:10-31 (ESV)

"10 An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.
11 The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.
13 She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands.
14 She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar.
15 She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens.
16 She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
17 She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong.
18 She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night.
19 She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle.
20 She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes bed coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant.
25 Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
27 She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:
29 "Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all."
30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates. "

This woman is one whose example we can and should follow. As opposed to the woman Folly, this woman is a hard worker who does not seek prominence, but gains it anyway because of her godly character and diligence. Instead of finding her value or identity in beauty, she finds it in the Lord. I especially love verses 11-12. Marriage is the basis of so many jokes, with the wife being a spend-thrift that wrecks the husband's finances and the husband treating her like a jerk, or the wife being the all-knowing wise one who treats her bumbling husband condescendingly. Well, these verses show the perfect relationship. Her husband can rest easy with her as his wife; he trusts her fully because she does only good to him. He, in turn, is a good and wise man that is well-known in their land. Verse 12 says, "She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life." Think about that a minute. "All the days of her life"; that means before she even met him. How can we honor our husbands all the days of our lives? It's kind of like how we learn to honor Jesus. Imagine He's there with you all of the time, whatever you're doing. It's painful to imagine your future husband sitting beside you when you are wrapped in a different guy's arms, passionately kissing this other guy. That is certainly not honoring your future husband. Or maybe it's something as simple as flirting with another guy, just for fun. That is hurtful to both men. When I imagine my future husband is with me watching my every move, I am much more conscious about honoring him and keeping myself out of hurtful situations. Try imagining that your future husband is with you constantly; purpose to honor him you're whole life. Maybe you'll never get married, but this imagining practice will also help to keep you from messing with another girl's future husband, and it will help you to form proper friendships with men.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Woman Folly

Proverbs 9:13-18 (ESV)

"13 The woman Folly is loud; she is seductive and knows nothing.
14 She sits at the door of her house; she takes a seat on the highest places of the town,
15 calling to those who pass by, who are going straight on their way,
16 "Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!" And to him who lacks sense she says,
17 "Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant."
18 But he does not know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of Sheol."

This passage characterizes folly, but as I was reading it I thought, "Wow, that sounds like a lot of girls I know!" Since this passage is describing folly, we should obviously strive to be the opposite of the description given. Are you loud? Some personalities are louder than others, and that's okay, but are you obnoxiously loud? Loud, in this passage, means boisterous, unwomanly, and lacking the gentle and quiet spirit which is so precious in God's sight (1 Peter 3:4). Folly throws herself into the most prominent places, making sure her foolishness is heard loud and clear. She is seductive, or flirtatious, defrauding men with her actions and attitudes. The men she attracts are foolish also; they lack sense! If you behave like Folly behaves, you will only attract foolish men. If you behave in a gentle, sweet, and womanly manner, you will attract godly men who will be good spiritual leaders for you. Of course, you can still have and exhibit your own unique personality, but don't flaunt yourself or behave in an ungodly manner.

Modesty: Does it matter?

Do you think modesty matters, or is it just condemning and suppressing women? There are many opinions on the topic of modesty, but what really matters is what God says about it. I downloaded an app called Photo Age and had fun trying out different pictures of my family. It takes a picture that you submit and "calculates" your age. It guessed my mom was twenty-nine, my sister-in-law thirty, and me...sixty three! We had a good laugh and did another picture of me; this time it guessed I was eleven. The app was definitely unreliable; it's standards changed often. That's kind of how it is with modesty. We can't judge by how the world "calculates" modesty because their standards are always changing! We might think a certain outfit is harmless fashion, but men might view it differently. If you are unsure about an outfit, try asking your dad and brothers about it; it helps if they will tell you what that outfit really makes them think of you (just don't ask for too much detail). Here are some great posts on modesty from the Lies Young Women Believe blog:

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Fight for life!

One of my favorite battles to fight in is the battle for saving children's lives. I volunteer at my local crisis pregnancy center, and we had our annual fundraising banquet tonight. It was a night of victory. We had the largest attendance we've ever had for a fundraising banquet, and this year we've had 40% more abortion-prone girls choose life (I believe that was the statistic). Our center was able to do a live ultrasound for an Ohio House committee to promote the Heartbeat Bill, an important bill that, if passed, will make it illegal to have an abortion after a heartbeat is detected. A baby's heart begins to beat 18-21 days after fertilization, and most women don't even realize they're pregnant yet at that stage! This is such a crucial bill! I am strongly pro-life because God is; He created life. He loves every child, and He knows everything about each child before he is born.

Psalms 139:13-16 (ESV):

"13 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them."

Are you pumped about life? Everybody's life? Ask God about volunteering for your local pro-life center; He wants all of His children to cherish the precious lives that He created. Don't volunteer because you think it's going to be really fun and exciting. It is fun and exciting to save lives if you have the right attitude, but don't be averse to small, seemingly unimportant jobs. When I volunteer, I clean, stuff envelopes, fold newsletters, sort donations, and do many other tedious jobs that seem so trivial at times. But remember that you are doing these things to save the directors' and staff members' time so that they can focus on bigger things, and time is often much more valuable than money. Volunteers are what makes ministries like this so effective, even though they and what they've done may never be known publicly. So look into volunteering, and if God is telling you to get involved, join the life-saving team quickly!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

First post: SHOPPING!!!

I went shopping this weekend, and, unlike most girls, I don't enjoy it! Going in store after store, trying on dozens of items, coming out with nothing; why doesn't it appeal to me?! Actually, I think many girls have the same feeling and experience depression after an unsuccessful shopping spree. The big issue is modesty. We have standards, but most clothing stores don't, except for the standard of supplying whatever sells, whether it's appropriate or not. So I thought I'd give you a list of stores that I found that offer some modest options; not all of these stores necessarily advertise modestly, but they do seem to care a bit more about modest clothing options:

1. Maurices- They seem to offer many shirts that are higher-necked, loose, and comfortable. I also found a dress there that had a knee-length skirt and higher neckline.

2. Christopher and Banks- This store is geared towards middle-aged to older women, so they strive for a more conservative look. If you're tiny, their shirts probably won't fit you, but if you have a larger build, check this store out. They have some cute stuff, and don't let it bother you that you're shopping at an "old lady" store. Most people won't be able to tell, and who cares anyway? Just explain to your girlfriends that modesty is top priority for you.

3. Goodwill- I know so many girls that shop at thrift stores. If you're responsible for your clothing budget, shopping at Goodwill will save you money big time! And if your Dad is paying for your clothing, he will love you more and more everyday if you shop at Goodwill:) The problem is if you find something you like that doesn't fit you, you can't just get the next size. Don't think that everything will be trashy and out of style at Goodwill; many people donate items that they never wore, and sometimes the tags are still on items.

4. Old Navy- Another store that carries higher-necked shirts. For some reason their clothes usually don't fit me quite right, but maybe they will fit you great. Their prices are generally reasonable.

5. Burlington Coat Factory- My sister-in-law found many cute, modest shirts there, and their prices are affordable also.

6. Cato- I've never shopped there, but modest skirts can be hard to find, and I believe the Duggars of "19 Kids and Counting" recommended this store for longer skirts.

So, where do you find modest clothes? Share your favorite stores that offer modest clothes in a comment below. I am always excited to find new ones!

Trying something new...

Blogging is something entirely new for me, but I thought I'd give it a try. I'm blogging from a mobile device, so I hope that doesn't make the format terrible for computers. I have a goal for this blog. I want it to be a place where young ladies can dig deep into who God made them to be, a place where discussion is welcome, and a place where truth reigns. I will post whatever seems relevant whenever I have time. That could be a broad range. I welcome topic suggestions if anybody has some, so feel free to tell me what you think is important.