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.