Saturday, August 28, 2010

This one's for the ladies! (the guys can read too:)

"Sometimes the barn needs to be painted every now and then," my mom commented while she and I were putting our makeup on for an event. In my family, the girls get makeup for their fifteenth birthday. My sister just turned fifteen and I now have the job of teaching her how to put eyeliner on correctly and which color eyeshadow flatters her. It's fun, sometimes, to get to play with her look and she is learning very quickly and well!

My mom's comment (^^) made me think a little bit. Now picture yourself driving down a road in your car. In a field, there is a barn painted with lots of bright colors and funny pictures of people with big heads and little bodies. It seems like a tourist attraction, so your whole family gets out of the car and walks over to inspect every side of it. Your mom pulls out the camera and you all pose for funny pictures in front of the barn. Your sister decides that it's a great place for a photoshoot, so you have pictures of you peeking around the corner, pretending to hug the picture of the bear on the side, and leaning against it looking off into the distance. Then you all get back in the car and start back on your roadtrip. There are a bunch of barns that you pass: brown ones, red ones, white ones, and some that don't seem painted. They seem a bit abandoned, but they've all served their purpose at one place in time. But you don't really notice them. They are everywhere, so it's a habit to just let them blend with the trees passing by.

Think of a woman's body as a barn. The barn that is obnoxiously painted and loud with drawings is like a woman who puts on too much makeup (more than what's attractive) and draws too much attention to herself. She has no mission except to look very good and get attention. The barns that you passed on your way home: they are like women who put on attractive amounts of makeup... or none at all, but don't try to get attention from passerbys. They do their duties and work well and efficiently.

Which barn are you?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Proverbs 23:17-18

/my photography/

Are you hoping for something? Are you trusting God, or praying that you would, for something in your life? I am. I hope for things. My strongest desire, the thing with which I have the hardest time trusting God, is to get married. Why is it so hard? Because I see some of my friends getting close to guys and striking up relationships with them at 16... and I know that I wouldn't have to wait too long if I wanted to follow in their footsteps.

I was doing my devos last night and I read my "daily Proverb". Proverbs 23:17-18 brought tears to my eyes...

17Let not your heart envy sinners,
but continue in the fear of the LORD all
the day.
18Surely there is a future,
and your hope will not be cut off.

I realized that I'd been jealous of my friends and the general world... the world that I was striving so hard not to be part of. This verse didn't just tell me where I was wrong, but also what to do to fix it. I have to continue to trust God all day: from the moment I wake up to the moment I fall asleep. I love verse 18 too. Just because it feels bleak now... or a long way off... there IS a future, and my hope will not be cut off. It doesn't mean that I'll definitely-no-doubt-about-it walk down the aisle on my daddy's arm someday... it doesn't mean I'll be chasing my little ones around the playground ten years from now... It just means that my hope and my desire will not be just dashed to pieces. God will bless me because I am His daughter. So why should I be worried? I just have to give up the deepest desires of my heart to Him... learn to want only Him, and I will be satisfied.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Do Not Grow Weary

I have such amazing girl friends! My friend, Abby, started an email group with a bunch of girls (myself included) and every day, someone writes to remind everyone to do their devotions. Then the rest of the girls write back and affirm or deny the action. Yesterday, she wrote a little note to all of us to check out Hebrews 12: 1-3. I did and verse 3 really stood out to me; verse 4 went along with it:

"3Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. 4In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood."

Do you live with people who don't encourage you? Do you find yourself trapped in the company of those who don't build you up? Do you feel discouraged or worried? Are you sometimes tired with the trials and the temptations that God puts you through? Do you find that you are always working on something: faults, habits, convictions?

Every time you feel this way, think of this: Christ went through so much more. And He went through it so that you could be strong and courageous. You haven't had to shed your blood to live a Christian life. He had to because He's perfect and God's will is perfect.

Another Scripture that I'm planning to put to memory and enter to my letter box is Proverbs 3:11-12:

"11 My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline
or be weary of his reproof,
12for the LORD reproves him whom he loves,
as a father the son in whom he delights."

If you are learning, and God is teaching you, He loves you! Isn't that encouragement enough to make you joyful when you feel weary?

One of my church's former pastors ( came to speak at my church this past Sunday. He spoke on redemption, using Ephesians 1. It reminded me of a study he did a few years ago on Philippians. Chapter 2:12 says,

"12Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling..."

What does is mean to work out your own salvation and make sure you are really saved? This past Sunday, my pastor said some things that really made me understand this. He asked a question: How do we know we are sealed with redemption? He told us to reflect on our lives: do we enjoy spending time in the word? Do we find ourselves wanting to sing and talk about Christ and His gospel all the time? Do we feel the urge to pray all the time? When we read our Bibles, do we really understand it? Are we convicted when we read His word? Do we see ourselves needing to constantly work on our sinful nature and we find we need to be so dependent upon Him? If the answers are yes to all those questions, you can be sure that you are sealed. And if the answers are yes to all those questions, you may have felt weary or fainthearted. But don't be weary, because these trials and temptations come only to those who have been redeemed!

Lastly, my pastor gave us a list of things to remember:

1. Be amazed that God would care this much for you.
2. Take time to take note of the Spirit's work in you life.
3. Rejoice that your redemption is permanent.
4. Be thankful and hopeful in the face of trials.
5. Don't give up and let down your guard in the face of persistent sin.
6. Long for your full redemption and possession of heaven!

Thank you Pastor Craig, and Abby! :)

Friday, August 6, 2010

My Letter Box

For Christmas last year, someone, a very dear elderly lady, gave me a beautiful box. There was nothing in it, but it was a perfect size for anything. At first I put little odds and ends, papers and receipts that I'd need later. Then I had a need for something in which to keep my cross-stitching supplies. Then, this summer, I started using it for my letters and stationary and pens.

I've been writing to a few friends every few days: a friend in Washington, a friend in Virginia, and a friend at West Point. Just little notes about life and new songs I was learning and books I was reading. I kept the letters I needed to reply to in the box with my envelopes and paper and purple stamps. I'd keep something that smells especially good (like a candle) in there to make the paper scented (I've always enjoyed a letter that has a faint scent to it).

But now I have been adding new things to my letter box: things that help me to think. Every time I open my box, I not only get a pleasant aroma from the candle or little bottle of lotion I've left in there, but I see the verse cards that mean a lot to me.

I've had a new project come to my mind. Things that I write down, or little trifles that remind me of something Jesus said (like a little bottle of mustard seeds), I put in my letter box. You may think this clutter or a bunch of junk that could be thrown away, but I'm going to keep these things. I'll add them slowly, but surely, and eventually, when I have a daughter, I just might show her my box, and then buy her one to start for herself. Whenever I need to be reminded of what God has taught me through the years, I'll go through my letter box and be rekindled or re-reproached.

I've heard of young ladies keeping a "Hope Chest" for their future home someday, and I've always wanted to do that. But, if any of you have seen my room, I have absolutely *no* room for a hope chest. My letter box will be sort of like my hope chest for now. :)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Patience, Love, Forgiveness...

It's harsh to hear that your best friends have gone behind your back and started rumors or assumed things they shouldn't. I know. It's happened to me before. I'm the type of person that hates to know that anyone is on bad terms with me. I like to be friends with everyone and know that there is nothing between us. When I hear that someone is not on good terms with me, and that they have to work through something, I have to take a deep breath. Then, all these questions flood through my mind: "What did I do? What did I say? Did I do something wrong? Why?" My patience is at my wit's end waiting for the confrontation. It's hard for me to trust and rest. I find myself over and over, praying, "God, I'm impatient, and worried, and wanting to know what is going on. Make me trust you." Sometimes I find it being put first in my mind, before God and before everything else important so that I find myself praying, "God, I'm making this an idol. My relationship with so and so is being put above you right now. Help me to put you before this worry and impatience." As the days go by, I get upset that this person is taking so long. I say to myself, "Why is this taking forever? Don't they know that I am nervous and itching to know how to fix this? Do they think that I did whatever I did maliciously?" Whoa, back to prayer, I must go: "God, make me to love this person. I value our friendship with which you have gifted me. Please help me to be thankful that this person is bringing whatever of my faults to my attention so I can work on them."

Then, the day finally comes when my fears are relieved and the confrontation or the confession of my friend is expressed. If it is a confrontation, it makes me thankful. I have a friend who was not afraid to tell me what they thought and saw, even if it meant their relationship with me. If it is a confession of something they did to me or behind my back, I have a whole new set of things to think about. First, forgiveness. Usually, it is not hard for me to be forgiving. I just want things to go back to normal again and life to go on and nothing to be in between us. But then I struggle with pride. I get puffed up in my mind saying, "Yes, they sinned against me and they really don't deserve the forgiveness I've given them." Guess what? Yup, prayer time again. "God, you know I am thankful for these friends and their willingness to bring to my attention something they did against me. I thank you that I'm ready to forgive them. Now, Lord, when I'm tempted to be prideful about my giving them forgiveness, help me to remember the undeserving forgiveness with which you've forgiven my sins. Help me to be humble."

Then, while I'm working on all these things, I think that the friendship should go back to normal. Ah, we're back to the beginning. Patience again is what I need.

"I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry." (Psalm 40:1)

The Lost Ornament of Society

I've been getting ready for my much anticipated AP English class this year by reading as many books as I can possibly manage. Many of you know my endearing love for Jane Austen and her works. As I write I slowly draw close to the end of Mansfield Park which has delighted me more than I could possibly imagine reading a book after the movie. For those of you who have read Jane Austen books, you know how long and wordy and sometimes tedious they can be, so I find that in order to finish these books before the start of the class, I have to use every spare moment to read a paragraph or a chapter. Every day I've been thinking about what Miss Fanny Price would have to do next and what turmoil or delight would be stirring in her mind. I think about how graceful and patient she was when treated condescendingly. I couldn't help but laugh to myself when Edmund and her discussed with appalled attitudes the character of Mr. and Miss Crawford and how their scruples would have no affect on our acceptance of them today.

My mind would continue to wander, as it often does, on how lost this perception of a lady has become with the increasing years. The loss of the sensitivity and gentleness of a woman's character has deprived the world of it's grace and beauty. Today it is not proper for a woman to be submissive to father, brother, and husband, and no distinguishable difference is made between a mother and daughter. No quietness of spirit and no thoughtfulness of mind is acceptable to the women of today. We must have glory and importance, equality with men and their ambitions. I am not saying that God did not create man and woman equal. He made them equal in that they are both His explicit creation, and no mistreatment of one or the other is to be withstood. But He did create them different: the woman to be submissive to authority, and the man to be a good master, leading others, and loving his Savior, wife, and family (1 Peter 3). But it is all lost! A young woman's goal is not to be married, keep a home and raise children, and submit to her husband. No, she is ready to take on the world and as soon as her father gives her freedom (if he ever had assumed any restraint on that point), she runs off to make as much money as possible and find as many men to indulge her. Now, am I saying that it is wrong to go off into the world, go to college, and learn how to make good money? Absolutely not! The Proverbs 31 woman was a businesswoman in some respects. She considered a field and bought it in which to plant a vineyard. With that vineyard, she either sold the wine and grapes or used them in her own household to save a few pennies. She made linen garments and sashes and sold these to the local merchant as well. No, having an education and making money is not wrong at all. The point I try to make is that there is no meekness in gaining wealth by a woman's hands. There is indelicacy in the way she goes about it. She is very prominent and speaks loudly to be heard by all. And then, when she and some man finally decide to end a period of dating, marriage is just an alliance with someone of the opposite gender where bank accounts are jointed and cars are shared and rings are worn. The woman cannot bare to think that just because she where's a ring on her finger and has set off her veil, she should forsake all those years of work and accomplishment in her line of business. So, she continues to work and comes home when her husband does. Then she remembers that children would just hinder all of this, and so the proper arrangements are made to prevent any such occasion to upset the bliss of success.

Does this mean I think that women are to stay at home, wear long dresses, not pursue a job, and to have ten children? No! But consider the women of God, and think: Was any of this necessary to make a woman true, perfect, acceptable, and successful? Do you really think that God designed women to be as strong and qualified as men? Do you think that maybe God had a delicate flower in mind when He created woman: one who was beautiful to look at, serves its proper purpose, and brings forth seeds with which to populate the Earth?

Danny Boy

My sisters and I love to learn new songs that we can harmonize. This is our first video! We are singing "Danny Boy." I hope you all enjoy :)

(Sorry it's a little cut off)