Monday, December 27, 2010

This is a Hard Post to Write...

... but I have to write it anyways because I said I would and besides I just... need to. :P

A reader of my blog once told me that people liked posts in which I talked about what I, personally, was learning. Especially when the learning involved getting hit in the face with softballs, apparently.

Anyways, this story/lesson doesn't contain any violence of that nature, unfortunately (for those who like excitement and blood and all that) or fortunately (for those who are sympathetic and kind and stuff). And if you're in both those categories... well, I guess that's okay.

So, that's enough rambling, I think. On with the story. Well, about two years ago, I asked my dad if I could start a blog, and he kindly allowed me to. Hence the birth of Lily of the Valley. (And then my subsequent explosion of other blogs: What's Next??, Rejoice Always (this is the blog you are reading right now, just so you know.) Quotes, Poems and Such Like, The DDA (I didn't start that one, but I contribute there), My Bright Lights blog, and a few others; two small group book discussions and a family one that isn't active yet.) 

That kept me pretty busy for awhile, and then I asked if I could join the Rebelution forum. Permission was also granted for that, so I went ahead and applied and was accepted. After a few months, I ended up getting on the forum team, and that kept me even busier. Since many of the forum team members were on gmail, I asked if I could also get an account to keep in touch better that way. Of course that included lots and lots of chats, which are very distracting and gave me even more to do.

Also at this time, Jay Lauser started getting me involved in several of his projects and forums and all that, and so then I was really busy.

Now I am doing a lot less projects and have been doing less on the Rebelution as well, but still I have been spending more and more time online since I first "became a person" on here, and I have noticed several things.

Yes, all those things are "good" things. They are all things I'm glad I have been involved with: I've learned a great deal, met some wonderful friends, and even been able to help people. My parents are also glad for the experience I've gained and for the friendships I've made.

However, even "good things" can become idols. And even "good things" can prevent you from doing the best things.

Don't you hate it when you realize that you are something you despise? I do.

See, I always despised the whole idea of moms who put their families second for work or even "ministry". But guess what? That is what I have been doing. Of course, I don't have children of my own yet. But I still have a family. And, moreover, I am developing habits for when I have my own family. And lately, I have been disobeying my parents by spending too much time on here, thus straining our relationship... and I have been doing less with my siblings... and my chores are sometimes neglected... all while I sit here and do "good things".

And, even worse than that, my relationship with God has been hindered. This has become an idol, much as I hate to admit it. I spend far more time on here than I do on things that further my relationship with God, and my thoughts are far more consumed with things going on here than on my God. How pathetic is that?? Seriously, He gave His life for me. And I get distracted by such silly things!

Besides those two very serious things, I have also started neglecting some of my "real" (aka non virtual) projects for online ones, and I have been content with my friends on here instead of actively reaching out to hurting girls at church. (not that I haven't at all, just not near like I should be.)

I am also addicted to it. Like literally--physically. Did you know that your body produces drugs? I hope so... because that's pretty basic. But anyways, when you do certain things, it sends a pleasure "drug" through you, and you brain likes it. Duh. And so you can get addicted to whatever caused that. Well, guess what? Chatting and things like that can cause that sort of rush. And guess what? It is addicting. :P And so, I literally feel like I have to do it. Weird! So basically I am a drug addict. :P haha.

So... what's the point of me telling you all this?

Well, first, to acknowledge it and ask you all for prayer.

Secondly, to let you all know that I am taking a month long internet fast, and that when I get back things will be different. I will be working out with my dad exactly what will be different, so you'll have to wait until I'm back to get that announcement. :)

Thank you all for listening! Er, reading. Anyways, I shall miss you all, but I will be having fun with my family and all my projects. And my letter writing. Oh yes! I was going to say that if you happen to have my mailing address and/or phone number, you are free to contact me through those venues. :)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Mysteries, Blessings and News

Hushed conversations
Whispered suspicions
Quiet excitement
Almost daring to believe
Growing hopes
Querying, wondering
Waiting impatiently
Starting to believe
Asking, confirming
Are you sure?!
It definitely looks that way!
Hardly able to believe it
Such news: 
A new baby! 
Another miracle 
An unexpected and delicious one 
God is good
We are blessed.

(Proof! :D)

It's a funny thing, being the oldest in a largeish family. Often people feel bad for you, as if it's a terrible burden and "oh you poor dear girl, you have all those bothersome younger siblings running around." Hence, when I tell people how many younger siblings I have, I usually quickly add, "and it's tons of fun! I really enjoy it. We like being around each other." And then I smile. And they sort of don't know what to do. Sometimes they say something about that's nice. haha.

But really, though it is a great responsibility to be the oldest, it is also a great privilege. And though younger siblings can be bothersome, they can also bring great joy. And while they are lots of work, they are also great for building character. ;)

And I love them. Every single one. I can't imagine my life without them. 

[Emily just now asked me to check if there were any new Jostie Flicks. Guess what I found? This:


Of course. God has a sense of humor. :)]

Which is why I am absolutely thrilled that I will soon (but yet not soon enough) gain a seventh younger sibling!

 Sure, this new baby will mean losing some sleep; sure, my arms will ache with holding baby; yes, I will have to change some less than pleasant diapers; Of course my ears will be greeted once again with the wails of an unhappy baby-- but think of what else a new baby means! 

Chubby, kissable cheeks; adorable, wiggly little toes; sweet, clingy fingers; Bright, laughing, curious eyes; Sweet, perfect lips; wispy hair; a cute and squeezable chin (My own little thing. I just like chins...); huge, unreserved, frequent smiles; a warm and comfortable and soft body to snuggle with, a new mind full of wonder and excitement over everything... so many, many blessings.

A entirely new life in our home. What a miracle!

Yes, a baby means work. But think what else a baby means!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

But I Don't FEEL Like it!!

(NOTICE: If you skip or skim the verses, this post will not make any sense. Please make sure to read them!)

Me either, sometimes.

All too often, I know what I should do... but I don't feel like doing it.

Sometimes what I should be doing is loving someone.

But... wait!

Isn't love... you know, a feeling?

I'd like to think it is. That would make things much easier.

If that were true, then I wouldn't have to love my brother even when he takes forever to let me on the computer. I wouldn't have to love my sister even when she is mad at me. I wouldn't have to love people that hurt me. I wouldn't have to love my parents even when they tell me I can't do something I want to do.

Oh, it would be so convenient if it were true...  What a lot of bother I'd get out of!

Or... maybe not. What if it were true?


Then... that would mean that my parents wouldn't love me if I disobeyed them. That would mean that my siblings wouldn't love me if I am demanding or hurt their feelings. That means that my friends wouldn't love me if I were insensitive or mean to them. And... the most dreadful possibility of all: That would mean that God wouldn't love me-- I can assure you that far too often I am contrary to His perfect will-- I regularly and knowingly miss the mark He has set.

But! Love--real love-- is not a feeling after all! And guess what?? God does love me--and you! Hurrah!

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16

"Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma." Ephesians 5:1-2

Wait: He died for us? That is how He showed His love? Yes. You see, we were hopeless; completely lost. There was no way any of us could measure up to His standard-- and without that, there was no way for us to be reconciled to Him. Someone needed to die. Someone needed to take the punishment for all of us. But we couldn't do it. None of us managed to be that perfect, spotless sacrifice. We failed. We needed God. But how could God die for us? A man must die for mankind. And so, in the greatest mystery and sacrifice of all time, God became man. He lived that perfect life; He died that horrendous death; He took the wrath of God for us--and then He rose again! Proving, once and for all, that He had conquered death, that He was The Savior. Wow.

God didn't just say, "Oh, I love you guys so much." No. He died. His love is not a love of words-- He gave up His very life-- for you! For me. This whole love thing... it's so much MORE than feelings. Sure, feelings are nice. But that's not love. Not real live love.

"Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails." 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a 

Those are actions--choices of the will.

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:16-18

You don't just suddenly feel like always being kind and patient and humble and meek and ready to bear and believe and hope and endure all things. You choose to. And why make that choice?

Well, "We love Him because He first loved us."

"And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment." Mark 12:30

So, How do we love God?

Love is expressed by actions-- in this case, by obeying His commandments. This is how He loves us-- by His actions, especially of dying on the cross for our sins.

Also, if we love someone, we are going to spend a considerable amount of time with them, are we not? So then, it would seem to follow that if we love God, we will be spending time talking to Him and reading His word to find out more about Him and about His commands. Another thing that we do when we love someone is tell others about how wonderful they are. So it is with God-- if we really love Him, we will be willing and eager to tell others about Him. And we will be praising Him for all He has done for us.

So... we've covered a wee bit of how God loves us, and some of how we can love God... The following verse transitions us to another major application of love:

"In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another." 1 John 4:9-11

Now that we have experienced the love of God in our own lives, it is our duty and our privilege to then go out and love our fellow man. In fact, if we do not love one another, we are liars!

"If someone says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?" 1 John 4:20 

*cringes*  Oooh...This passage is long... but it's so good and so connected that I'm going to post the whole thing. Please be nice and read it!

 1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 

2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.  

3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.  

4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

Okay... abide. The whole branch abiding in the vine thing makes sense. do we abide?

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.  

Now that is humbling...

6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.  

 Yikes. I'd rather not be that branch! How do we abide??

7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.  

 Wow! That sounds great! But... how do we abide?

8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

So, you say you want to glorify God? That is how!

9 “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.  

10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. 

 Ohhhh!! In order to abide in His love, we must keep His commandments! Well then, what are His commandments?

11 “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. 

 Wow... He doesn't say this to make our lives difficult-- instead, it's to make our joy full!

12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 

 Oh! His command is for us to love each other as He has loved us!

13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.  

 So... what does it mean to lay down one's life for his friends? Obviously we're not ALL going to have a chance to literally die for our friends... but there are other ways to lay down your life-- like giving up your time and so forth. What do you think?

14 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.  

15 No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.  

Wow... how amazing to be called the friend of the Most High God!!  But we must remember verse 14: "IF you do what I command you."

16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.

Once more--humbling. It isn't anything we have done-- it's all by the Grace of God.

17 These things I command you, that you love one another.

John 15:1-17

There we have it: when it's all boiled down, our command is simply this: love one another. Simple-- but not easy.

What are your thoughts on loving your neighbor? Who does that include? What does it look like practically? Discuss below!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

In *Everything* Give Thanks...

So, what did you do for Thanksgiving? I got smashed in the mouth with a softball.

*Laughs slightly* No, really, I did.

See, [begins story mode] our church has this tradition of playing softball on Thanksgiving day. Now, there is something you need to know about us Manns: we only play softball on Thanksgiving day. And last year, I didn't even go. That is to say, we are nearly clueless. Ahem. But, for some reason, my four younger older siblings wanted to go. My parents didn't particularly want to go, so I ended up driving and my parents stayed home along with William and Matthew.

Anyway, we were all out there, valiantly humiliating ourselves for the sake of tradition, with the Manns at least attempting to look like we knew what was going on. We... sort of succeeded. I was in the outfield, where a few of us girls were hoping the ball wouldn't come our way. (Me especially, probably, though I didn't say so out loud. Like some of them did. See, I can catch normal balls alright. But I never catch with a baseball mitt... so yeah.) Heidi (who is good at all sports, it seems.) was moaning about how boring it was. I agreed. At that time. Afterwards I thought it too exciting. She was also saying that if the ball came over she was going to drop to the ground and proceeded to show us how. (Afterwards I wished I would've just done that. :P)

Alas, the ball did come in my direction. So, I made the courageous decision to try to catch it. I moved forward, since I could tell it would drop in front of me if I didn't move. I almost judged it right. Almost! Some people thought I would catch it, even. It was coming closer, closer-- WHAM! On the ground I went. That was rather shocking and confusing. And my whole mouth-- my whole face! Hurt! I couldn't tell what exactly was hit-- all I knew was that I was bleeding at a terrific rate. After a few seconds I realized it was my mouth and then asked the people who had come over whether I still had my teeth. Somehow, at times like that, you realize that teeth are sort of important. [Um, major understatement.] Apparently I did still have teeth. That was a relief. By this point, my whole mouth and both hands were covered in blood and more was pouring out. (Pardon me if you don't like blood. But it's true!) I remember vaguely thinking it might get on my clothes and then recklessly deciding I didn't care a bit. I think I also thought that I would then have a "battle shirt" as the Ursus (friends of ours) call shirts that you've bleed on. Unfortunately I didn't bleed on my shirt. :( Anyways, you will all be happy to know that I didn't cry, scream, or otherwise freak out. What was the use? Even at times like that, practicality rules.

Someone kindly brought water to wash my hands off, and another water bottle (A squirty one!!! You have no idea how awesome those are in such situations!) to wash out my mouth. They also got ice in a plastic white grocery bag, which I promptly started applying. At this point my thoughts were mainly, wow, this happened to me. And, this is going to take awhile... And, I'm glad it isn't worse! I was also praying, of course.

I was sitting against the fence, holding the ice on, and gently exploring my mouth with my tongue. (After this initial exploration, my tongue behaved quite nobly and contained its inquisitiveness. I was very proud of it.)  I thought one of my bottom teeth felt kind of odd. At first I thought it was lose... but then part of it fell off. :P I didn't really care at that point... I was glad my tooth didn't hurt. I was also thankful it wasn't worse-- I mean my front teeth could've been knocked out. One of the elders happened to be there and he prayed for me. Hannah kindly got a soft white T-shirt out of the van to put my ice in. (The bag wasn't exactly comfortable.)

Abby and Daniel, two little children from church, were looking at me so pityingly. It was very cute and almost funny. :)

Someone offered a mirror, but I was like... oh, I'll see it when I get home. But then I started feeling a little curious, so I asked Cheryl to get my purse, and looked at it. It was slightly worse than I'd thought-- I didn't realize my lip was scraped on the top. And when I looked inside... well, good thing I'm not particularly squeamish. See, my front teeth (of course) cut up my lip really bad. Only, one little strand of my lip, instead of breaking, was stuck between two of my top teeth. So my lip was held against my teeth. That was disturbing. After I saw that, I really wanted to get home and fix it. I started formulating a plan to that end.

A friend of ours kindly offered to drive us home (I couldn't really drive and hold the ice on. heh. :P) and someone else followed us and brought her back to the field afterwards. Providentially, she'd already driven our van, so that wasn't an issue. :) Josiah talked to me on the way home (About things other than lips, which was nice of him.) and I sort of mumbled responses through my swollen lip and ice. haha. I noticed that the shirt (one of papa's) was a blood donor shirt. I thought that amusing, even then. :D

We hadn't called our parents because we didn't want them to worry while we were coming home. So I came in with this shirt over my mouth and papa was like, oh no. So I showed him and he was kind of... I don't know how to describe it. I guess sort of concerned, shocked and somewhat worried. Then mama came over and of course she was even MORE like that... by this time I was more myself and so I sort of brushed it off. Eh... if you can brush things like a very swollen and bloody lip and broken tooth off. Anyways, I quickly asked for scissors. Yes, scissors. I then proceeded to do my little surgery quickly (um, after we sterilized the scissors), before I lost the nerve. I cut/pulled the strand till it broke and then flossed what was left out. Thankfully it didn't hurt... much. :P And then I was very relieved. :D

Andrea said I should tell my children that a shark bit my tooth off. haha! I think I will. :D

So, there ya have it. My lip story, as light-hearted as I could make it. (It's okay if you laughed.) So... what does this have to do with thankfulness? Well, you will remember two things: One, the verse this blog is named after says, in part, "in everything give thanks" and, two, that it was Thanksgiving.

So, I wrote a list of things I was thankful for about this whole situation: (I wrote this in my "Major Events" journal while holding the ice on my lip.)

I'm thankful...
  • That it wasn't a front tooth that broke
  • It wasn't my nose or mouth or eye or ear or throat
  • That we had ice and pain medicine and water there
  • For everyone's kindness
  • That the bleeding stopped quickly [otherwise I would've needed stitches. *shudders*]
  • That I didn't cry (haha)
  • That Elizabeth drove us home
  • For Papa's soft shirt
  • For a big van to lie down in 
  • For funny friends
  • That I don't need stitches!
  • That my tooth nerve isn't hurt
  • For Mr. Jackson's prayer
  • For Abby and Daniel's cute concern
  • For Hannah's support in walking to the van
  • For being able to find humor still 
  • For ice packs
  • That I didn't faint
  • That we had Thanksgiving meal yesterday [Wednesday]!
  • That I am young and heal quickly 
  • That God has a reason for this
  • That this is one of my worst injuries.
Now I have even more things to add:

I'm thankful for...
  • Drinking straws
  • People's prayers
  • Herbs which are fun to use and speed up healing
  • The speed at which it has healed
  • The ability to smile without pain
  • The ability to talk freely 
  • Being able to eat solid food 
  • Emily and Hannah making me smoothies when I couldn't eat normal food
  • Our new vitamix to make the smoothies in 
  • The pain going away so quickly (it only lasted two/three days!!) 
  • Being able to "camp" still, at our friend's house (though I did sleep in the house. haha.) 
  • Being able to sleep some that first night... 
  • The patience and other lessons learned
  • God's grace in that I'm not very worried about how it looks/will look
  • Vitamin E and aloe and goldenseal
  • Whistling (even though I can't yet.)
Well! I could probably continue for awhile longer, but this is already really long. (for me) (I hope you two are happy. You know who you are, my long winded blogging friends. ;))

Anyways, the point is this... I wanted to tell you the story. hehe. Okay, well, that was part of it. But I mainly wanted to encourage you all to look for those things that you can still be thankful for even in the midst of hard situations.

P.S. Softballs are NOT soft.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Common Misconceptions/Stereotypes ...

... about girls who wear skirts/dresses regularly/all the time.

*Rubs hands together* This'll be fun! :D

Misconception One: You can't do anything in a skirt.

Ha!! I've climbed trees, (many many times) played light sabers, ( in the dark and in the woods, no less!) rode horses, swam, (okay, so that didn't work so well. That was when I was little... ;)) cleaned, swung on swings, (or is it swang? I guess it's swung, spell check doesn't like swang.) played (actively) with children, played soccer, basketball, splashed in puddles, (um, yes, my skirt did get wet. But so did my brother's shorts! :D) and the list goes on and on and on.

However, I can see where this misconception comes from: Most girls who don't wear dresses regularly have only worn "fancy" (or tight) dresses--which, I will freely admit, are hard to move in. But that doesn't mean all dresses are like that! Another problem is probably the fact that most girls aren't familiar with wearing shorts or bloomers under skirts-- which would definitely pose a problem for doing active things. :P

Misconception Two: We are boring.

Well, I can't speak for all dress wearing gals, because it's probably true that there are some "boring" ones among our ranks. Of course, there are also "boring" people (um, I'm terribly sorry if this seems offensive... but it seems to me there might possibly be more....) among the ranks of normal dressers. Ahem. Anyways.

For one thing, we are weird. Hence, we are interesting. Hence, how can we be boring?? :D I happen to know quite a pile of young ladies who manage to be interesting (very!) in spite of the fact that they wear dresses! Shocking, I know. But it's true. *whispers* We do crazy things. Like running around with a whole bunch of people, shooting them and getting shot. hehe. Um, the "bullets" are foam. :D (yes, with a skirt on) And like pulling pranks on people. (yes, with a skirt on) And rolling down grassy inclines (yes, with a skirt on) with small children. And like putting ice down people's backs... And climbing trees in the rain in the dark... (yes, with a skirt on) and other stuff. (yes, with a skirt... oh, did I say that already?) Perhaps not exactly the world's definition of "crazy". (It seems it's definition of interesting and crazy involves things that will end up killing you or otherwise ruining your life. I still don't get it. Maybe I'm just slow.) But, nevertheless, we don't always sit around knitting and embroidering as the stereotypes would have us. And we do random, odd things on occasion. Just, most of the time, those things aren't the sort that will, um, destroy your life...And! We actually (get this!) think about life and God and the future seriously sometimes! *gasp*

Misconception Three: We just walked out of the 18th century. Or at least we look like it. 

Ahem. I hate to be so blunt and honest... but have they even seen pictures of ladies in the 18th century??



Please tell me you see a difference here!! :D I think the pictures explain enough, don't you?

Misconception Four: We look Amish (Yes! People have actually asked us if we were Amish!)

Once more, a little showing and not much telling:



Once again, pretty clear, isn't it? Yes, thank you. We wear buttons, skirts, patterned dresses (flowers and things), no head coverings, no black aprons... all of which are things the Amish can't wear. (or must wear.) :)

Misconception Five: We have to dress like this.

Once more, I say, ha!! (Which, translated, means this: that is so absurd it's almost funny.)  The Amish have to dress like that, yes. It doesn't really work, though... I've been to Pennsylvania. They rebel in whatever ways they can... you should see the crazy shoes and purses!! :P

The majority (All?) of the girls I know love their skirts! Why on earth would wearing skirts be a burden?? It's fun! :D

To quote myself in a previous post:

"Four, I know that my parents, especially my Papa, appreciate me dressing like this. (At this point some folks will pounce and say, "Aha!! Your parents make you dress like that!!! You poor, dear, oppressed girl!!" Um, no. Actually, not. My parents put me in cute little dresses when I was young, yes. [I am glad of that; I especially hate seeing little girls in immodest, teenager clothes. Bleah.] But, as I got older, they never made any rules about dress. They never said we couldn't wear pants or that we must wear dresses. They encouraged us in our pursuit of modesty, yes. They let us know when our clothes weren't so modest. But they definitely, assuredly, do not force us to dress like this."

There you have it! Five top (or at least the ones I thought of first...) misconceptions about "dress wearing girls." Fellow "dress wearing girls" (haha! That sounds funny.), have you thought of any more misconceptions that should be addressed? And do you agree with my rebuttals? Guys... you can just laugh with us or add something inspiring to us dress wearing gals. :)

P.S. A friend has kindly reminded me that I need to be careful that I don't perpetuate another misconception: That we "dress wearing girls" think we are somehow "better" than those who wear pants sometimes. That is also untrue, at least of me. However, I admit I do have a bad habit of saying my personal beliefs in such a way that I could come across like that... if I have, I apologize. I really honestly don't care whether you wear skirts or pants... (Provided, of course, that you try to dress modestly. I do care if I see immodesty, but not in  "you're worse than I am" way; just the sort of caring that feels bad for the guys-- and you.)

Image credits: Amish; 18th Century couple.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Practical Modesty

What does that mean? Well, it's my personal philosophy (or rather the title I've given it...) about modesty.

See, some books will tell you "Knee length skirts are modest." And... I suppose that might be true... But they aren't practical. At all. If you sit down, you have to constantly worry about whether or not you are covered. If you try to run... you have, um, issues. Squatting, too, poses some problems. And on and on. Basically, you can't move. haha. (Okay, fine, that's an exaggeration...)

So! I've decided that long skirts are just more practical. (Provided, of course, that they are reasonably full. A tight skirt is obviously not practical OR modest. :P) You rarely have to worry about them covering you--they do it amply. (The only instance I can think of at this moment that they wouldn't is if you tried to hang upside down. ahem. haha!) You can move much more freely in long skirts!. Plus, they are more fun! ;)

And with shirts... they say that if your shirt is up to your pinky finger when you put your thumb on your clavicle (please tell me you know what/where that is!) it's modest. Well... generally speaking, skirts like that gape. Not pretty. So, for practicality's sake, (I'd rather not hold my shirt all the time...) I wear them at least right up to the clavicle*.

So, basically, it's better to just go all the way with modesty. Don't try to show as much as you can and still be "modest". If you do "go all the way with modesty", (aka Practical Modesty) you have much more freedom, are less self (and clothes!) conscious, and... you are showing your brothers and your God that you are willing to go that extra bit. :) 

There you have it! Practical modesty. Just my personal view.. makes life simpler. And, hencely, more fun! :D

*Just so as we're clear, much as I hate to do this... clavicle = collar bone.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

How to Look at the Modesty Survey

(Without getting totally confused or offended)

1. Read the modesty petition; look at all the kajillions of signatures; be amazed and wonder where these guys are and if your future husband is on that list. (:P)

2. Then, read about how to read the results of the survey.

3. Next look at these posts and ones like them:

"Guys notice whether girls dress modestly or not"

"Modesty is an important quality for your future wife to have"

"Despite rampant immodesty all around us, girls who choose to dress modestly do make a difference."

4. After that, look at whatever topics interest you

5. Remind yourself that this isn't meant to be a rulebook; rather, it is a valuable resource.  

I just thought I'd share that with you all because we have showed it to several girls, and without these things, it can be pretty confusing and/or slightly offending! :) If you've already seen it, it's helpful to show your friends the survey in this way. I know because I've shown some people it, and if I didn't do it like this they were really confused. haha.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My Modesty Testimony/Story

When you are a little girl, your mom chooses what you wear and why. At first, you couldn’t care less. And then, all too soon, you begin caring.

“No, I don’t want to wear the yellow dress! I want to wear the green one!”

After that stage you begin noticing styles, and what other girls are wearing.

“But Mom--Susie’s mom lets her wear those shorts!”

Next, you’re on to the “Why?” stage.

“Why do you want me to dress like this?” “Why can’t I dress like everyone else?” Not that you are trying to be rebellious, necessarily—you just wonder.

Now, I can’t speak for everyone, but this is how it happened with me. My mother was always careful to dress us modestly. Then, as I started choosing my own clothes, I began choosing clothes that were not as modest as they should have been.

I wanted to “fit in” more than I currently did. My mother wisely bought a book for Hannah and I, which really helped me understand how important, beautiful and powerful modesty is--and also how distracting and harmful immodesty can be.

After that, I’ve continued learning more about modesty. One resource that I really found helpful and encouraging is the Modesty Survery.

Now, I don’t, by any means, have this all figured out-- but I have a much more joyful attitude towards modesty now. I see it as a way to bring glory to God, to show the world that I’m set apart, to honor my father and also my possible future husband. God has made us female, and beautifully so. We have a responsibility to use this beauty and power wisely. Not that we want to dress in a way that is ugly and hides the fact that we are girls—rather, we want to dress in a way that shows that we are ladies who are “set apart” or “called out” from this world. I know that modesty is not as important as some areas—after all, God does look at the heart. But we must remember that man does look at the outward appearance.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Rant on Modesty ;)

First, read this post. Right now. Go read it. Shoo!


Okay, if you already read Jay's post about "A New Kind of Modesty" you don't actually have to read it again. *Looks at Rebeka*

But if you haven't, please do. It's a great article, and will also make this post make sense. :)

Lately I've been thinking about the subject of modesty, clothes, and communication a lot, and offered to write a sort of follow up, girl's perspective type thingie/comment. And so of course Jay made me do it. Just kidding, I wanted to. :) Anyway, I thought I'd post it here, too, for those who don't constantly check the comments on Jay's blog...

The first time I read this, I got very excited about the concept of clothes being a part of language. Thankfully my family is patient and not only listened in an interested fashion to my excited rant on the topic, but also joined in with their own ideas. It was a very fun discussion. :)

And, for your especial benefit, here is the "rant". (In part, and probably with some new things...)

It is so important that people grasp the fact that, whether you like it or not, your clothes are saying something. Your job is to honestly assess the message you are saying with them, and ask yourself whether or not that is what you intend to say. And if the message that you would like to get across is a God honoring one, for that matter…

Now, of course, a few people may misread your message, no matter how carefully you present it-- in exactly the same way few people will misread/misinterpret this post, and.... anything else anyone says or writes. Misinterpretation– It’s part of language.

However, anyone who thinks openly about this for a little while will soon see that clothes do, in fact, say things. And the vast majority of people will understand the message in nearly the same way.

Speaking as a girl who wears long denim skirts, button up shirts buttoned all the way up (horror of horrors, apparently) and such (Hehe, I read that earlier today and couldn’t help using it... It is such a funny and true (sort of…) description of us…except she mentioned wearing tennis shoes. I can't say I wear those often. Had she said bare feet, she would have described me exactly. :D) I can attest to the fact that people think we’re rather weird.

However. I can also say that I have never been approached by a guy in a sexually threatening way. I have not had to feel ashamed of myself and how I dress. (Except for a few times, when I was a younger teen and wore things I knew were too tight…) My sisters and mother and I have noticed that we are treated like ladies FAR more often than most women around. We have also, many many times, been labeled as Christians automatically because of the way we dress. (Hannah told me a kind of funny story to me that illustrates this perfectly: She was walking in Walmart and noticed some teenage boys. The way they were dressed made her think that they might be the gangster type. As she walked past, she heard one of them say to the other, "That's a Christian girl." He said it just as a matter of fact, not in an insulting way at all. :)) 

I have made the choice to dress the way I do knowingly and freely. I love wearing long, swirly skirts!

I have, in fact, worn pants before. (about 5 times… :P ) And I really don’t like them. They are harder to move in, and not near as fun. (Seriously, try beating walking down stairs in a long flowing skirt. Or spinning in a full, twirly skirt. Ain't happening.) I don't think pants are evil, or that they are always immodest. I just like skirts. And yes, I know full well that skirts can be just as bad, or worse than pants. :)

So, I dress the way I do for a few reasons:

One, I just like dressing like this!

Two, I feel that this is, as Jay has kindly shown here, a blessing to my brothers in Christ.

Three, I feel that it is a good way to immediately be recognized as a woman–and one that rejoices in her femininity!

Four, I know that my parents, especially my Papa, appreciate me dressing like this. (At this point some folks will pounce and say, "Aha!! Your parents make you dress like that!!! You poor, dear, oppressed girl!!" Um, no. Actually, not. My parents put me in cute little dresses when I was young, yes. [I am glad of that; I especially hate seeing little girls in immodest, teenager clothes. Bleah.] But, as I got older, they never made any rules about dress. They never said we couldn't wear pants or that we must wear dresses. They encouraged us in our pursuit of modesty, yes. They let us know when our clothes weren't so modest. But they definitely, assuredly, do not force us to dress like this.)

Five, and most importantly, I feel that it is a testimony to my God. It shows right away that I am set apart from the world, that there is something different about me.

Yes, yes, I know. There are girls who dress like I do because they have to. They are not joyful, nor do they really glorify God in their forced sort of modesty. They are still wanting attention for themselves–only in the opposite sort of way– “Look at me, I’m so godly and modest and sober”

That is not the point, people!! This is supposed to be an outward reflection of an inner attitude.

My sister Hannah and I have been thinking about this a lot. We like to think of it in three “layers”:

1. Your clothes, hair, countenance, etc. What people see instantly.

2. Your actions, words, etc. What people see after being around you for a little while.

3. Your character/heart. Who you really are. What people see after really getting to know you. (and your family, haha.)

They are ALL extremely important. And, say your outward appearance is saying that you are pure and a good Christian girl– but after being around you for a little while, we learn, by your actions, tones, words, etc. that you are, in fact, a flirty and self-centered girl. The first message (one of purity and goodness) was a miscommunication. Your actions negated the message your clothes were saying.

Now, obviously, the opposite is also true. One could be dressed in a more “worldly” manner, and then, by her actions and attitude, prove that she actually had a gentle spirit.

There is a problem here, though. Not everyone is going to have the time to get to really know you. Yes, yes. You’re a splendid Christian girl. Under all the worldly layers.

But when you’re walking around, what are you saying? What is the main message of your dress? Are you pointing to Christ, to purity– or are you pointing to yourself? Or more specifically… your body? And is it “just fashion” (And therefore okay, somehow… :P ) when you wear something that you know will cause your brothers to stumble?? (In case you hadn’t noticed, this mindset greatly upsets me. I have brothers!!!) Please don’t play dumb. You know what I mean.

Anyway. All three “layers” need to match. Now, I’ve heard so many times, “Well, you know, God looks at the heart. So that’s what’s most important.” Yes of course!!

But. They somehow miss the first part: Man looks at the outward appearance! People are still reading your message. You are still saying something– Whether your heart is right or not. Make sure that what you are saying is what you intend to say! Don’t be one of those people that just say, “Oh, well, it’s just fashion. I just want to look cute.”

Ahem. That is not the message the guys get when they see tight and low cut clothes!

Please seriously and honestly consider this important point: clothes are a part of language. And then think about what message you want to be getting across, and figure out how best to say it.:)

Saturday, October 2, 2010


I really like them. Lists, that is. I have all kinds of lists. I have lists of things I like to do, and lists of books, and lists of things I want to teach future children, and lists of things to do, and lists of words I like, and lists of things in my hope chest and lists of... tons of other things.

Even a list of things I'm looking for... in a husband.

Which is a very accepted and encouraged practice in many of the books I've read... And, I thought, a good idea.

I also kind of had a vague idea that I also ought to make a list of the sort of wife a husband like that would be looking for... but never really got around to it. Didn't give it that much thought... My husband list, on the other hand, is all typed out, and even has a few versions.

Why on earth am I telling you this?? Well, because I watched this video. (That means, please go watch it yourself, otherwise you'll think I'm just babbling or something. :D)

After watching that, my focus has changed somewhat. :) I still think it's a good idea to have a list of things that you're looking for, but instead of focusing on the kind of husband (or wife) we would like to have, we really ought to focus on what kind of a wife (or husband) they'd like to have, and work on becoming that person.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What Makes Something Beautiful?

Awhile ago, as I was pondering the subject of beauty, an obvious question came to mind: What makes something beautiful? What is it about an object, person, scene, character quality, etc. that causes pleasure to our senses? What is it about these things that brings feelings of wonder, joy, and admiration?

How do we classify some things as beautiful, and others as ugly? What is the difference?

Suddenly, the thought came to me: Beauty is a reflection of God, and ugliness of sin.

"The heavens declare the glory of God;
And the firmament shows His handiwork." Psalm 19:1

Think about it: In creation, we see flowers that we call "beautiful"--they are (nearly) as God created them.

However, when they die or become diseased or mutated,

they lose their beauty. Death and disease are both results of sin.

"Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned." Romans 5:12

"Because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now." Romans 8:21-22

Sin perverts God's perfect design, resulting in what we call "ugliness".

Or, speaking about people, what are the things that make a face beautiful (besides the hopefully obvious "having a cheerful countenance")? Rosy cheeks, bright eyes, clear skin, and so forth: and these are all products of health; (or, in the case of some females, are simulated by make up... :P) which is, again, closer to the original way God created us.

So, the closer things are to God and His created perfection, the more beautiful they are!

With character, it is much the same: having "inner beauty" is when your character is closer to God's; when your actions and words reflect His love, patience, mercy, justice, and so on.

Things like deceit, cruelty, untrustworthiness, and so forth are opposites of God's character: therefore, they are (or ought to be) ugly and repulsive to us.

The closer someone's character is to God's, the more beautiful it is.

Beauty is, in essence, a reflection of God. Beauty shows us God's creativeness in designing these beautiful things, His love for us in making things for us to enjoy, His attention to detail, His perfection, (holiness) and also His justice, mercy, kindness, and so forth.

What is exactly is the definition of beauty again?

Something that brings joy, that is pleasant to the senses; that causes a feeling of awe or wonder. It also sometimes refers to something working together properly, such as a machine. (That is my definition... for the official, Websters 1828 definition, go here.)

P.S. I started writing this post exactly one year ago today. :D At least I am finally getting it up! There will eventually (hopefully sooner than a year from now) be a part two as well, with some practical implications of this idea. Thanks to Jay for his help with fractalling! (I know what it means now!!)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

As You Can See...

...Dishes and I go way back. :D

I enjoyed them greatly when I first started (as you have probably guessed from the grin...) but, as the years went on, somehow (maybe it was the fact that I wasn't allowed to get so wet anymore? Or maybe it was that we had a few [well, 5] more children... [and thus, lots more dishes... strange how that happens] Or maybe I was corrupted by a public schooler... [hehe]) I grew to dislike them. Strongly. As in, avoid them at all costs. I'll do anything but the dishes.

Slowly, I disliked them less and less... I would do them, at least, but not very faithfully. I would put them off as long as possible (which, by the way, is incredibly dumb, for two [well more than two, but I'll only do two here] reasons: one, as you put it off, everything dries more and more and gets harder to wash off, and, two, the dishes accumulate. Big time, when there are nine people adding to the pile...) and sometimes grumble about it. (Dreadful, I know.)

And then.

Then, I had an interesting discussion about dishes with a friend of mine, in which I was persuaded to look at them differently and at least try to enjoy them. Also, my sister Hannah hurt her knee really badly right around that time, and she was unable to stand. Which, naturally, meant she couldn't do dishes. (One good thing about hurting your knee, that.) And, of course, meant that I did do them. I'll have you know that I volunteered myself. Wasn't that good of me? ha ha...

So anyway, I became a dishwashing addict. Of sorts. I have been washing dishes for about a year now, both at our home and at other people's. For example, I did them at the Marini's and Wimer's, the families that hosted us on our trip. They were very thankful, especially the Marinis. I must admit it is rather nice to be appreciated so much for doing something you enjoy. hehe. :D

One time after Anthony told me thank you (again), I started explaining that I actually decided to like doing dishes. He was rather shocked. Kind of funny. :) I'm not sure if he ever thought of liking them before... Most people don't, methinks. (Hence this post, kind of.)

I enjoy dishes for a few reasons. One, they are one of those necessary things that, sooner or later, you will have to do, and, so, according to my logic, you might as well like 'em!! Two, I've been doing them soooo long that I can do them automatically... I have all that time to just think and pray. Three, dirty dishes equals full bellies! :D Four, it's an opportunity to serve my family. (and others.)

So, what about you? Do you enjoy doing dishes? (And other, similarly "mundane" tasks?) If you do, why? And what made you like them? If you don't, why? And has this post made you think about changing your mind at all? And do you think I should do a post about how to make cutting up veggies fun? 'Cause I am good at that...

Monday, August 30, 2010

Questions, Idols, and Flirting

Recently, I read a blog post about flirting. It was basically a girl sharing her experiences and her thoughts on the subject, which, of course, led me to start thinking about it also.

Having those thoughts in the back of my mind, I was reading a book called "Wild at Heart: Discovering the secret of a man's soul." So, yes, I was reading a book written for men. But it does say something about "and he invites women to discover the secret of a man's soul and to delight in the strength and wildness men were created to offer" on the back... :D

Anyway, it was talking about the big questions that we have. Men ask things like, "Do I have what it takes?" "Am I strong enough?" And women ask things like, "Am I beautiful?" "Am I worth fighting for?"

Suddenly, I put these two things together: The reason why we girls flirt is because when we get a guy to pay attention to us in that way, we feel beautiful and wanted. We are looking to them to answer our big questions... which is NOT a good idea.

I then started reading a book called "Equipped to Love", and it explained that when we look to anyone (or anything) to satisfy our needs, we are putting them in the place of God. Also known as idolizing them. Yikes!!

As you all have probably heard over and over, God is the only one who can truly satisfy our needs.

Really. Your parents can't do it, your friends can't do it, your siblings can't do it, books can't, the internet can't, boys can't, girls can't... And when you look to them to answer those questions, you'll be disappointed, hurt... and sinning.

Oh, how I need to really grasp and live this! Lord, give me grace!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Prayer and Goodbyes

Lately, God has been teaching me several things. (as you may have noticed.)

One thing that He has really been impressing on me is the need for and the power of prayer.

This morning I woke up early (before 5:30, I think I get to call that early...) and my first thought was, go pray. So, I did, for the next hour. Which was kind of odd, because I used to think that an hour was a long time to pray and that it would be hard to stay focused for such a long time

But, recently, several things have changed that. Firstly, there are some very desperate needs that I am praying for right now. Secondly, I have been getting to know God better, so naturally, talking to Him is easier. (hurrah!) And thirdly, I have been seeing, over and over and over, the amazing ways God works through prayer.

Seriously, I am completely amazed at what He is doing right now, both in my life and the lives of friends.

A few examples:

One: we recently had our dryer break. As some of you know, we are preparing for a trip. As all of you know, it is really unfortunate to have a broken dryer right when you are trying to prepare for a trip, and that it is potentially really frustrating. My Personal Philosophy about getting frustrated in such cases is, "What's the use?" haha. And here's why: First, it's already broken. My getting frustrated is not going to help anything. In fact, it will damage things, like my character and also possibly relationships with my family. So, anyway, I just basically thought, well, I guess God has a plan in this, and we'll see how He works it out. (That is actually a pretty cool place to be, because God always does work it out, and it is always amazing. :D) We also prayed that God would provide a dryer.

So, last Monday, since the dryer was broken and we did have laundry to do (lots!) I spent nearly the entire day washing clothes and hanging them up on the line. (and also on the chairs and bushes and wherever else I could find to hang them... :D) I got lots and lots done, but there was still more, so Hannah and I went to the laundry mat. While we were waiting for the clothes to wash, we went over to the consignment store next door (hey that rhymed!) to look around. As we were leaving, Hannah happened to mention that our dryer broke--and it turned out she knew someone who needed to get rid of a dryer and only wanted $25 for it!!! So, we now have a dryer that works! Plus, just as a little bonus, they also gave us a phone-for free! (Our phone was also dead.)

So, that was pretty exciting. :)

Two: I've been praying for several people, and it's been so neat to watch God moving in their lives. I won't go into detail, but it's just so incredibly amazing to see someone's life changing because of your prayers!!

Three: For years, we prayed for a neighbor of ours to become a Christian, and, excitingly, she did, around a year ago! The really neat thing is that lately she has grown so much that her family noticed a difference in her and wanted to know why she was different. Because of that she's had opportunities to witness to them. It's just so awesome to see how God changes people!

Four: He has been teaching me many things, and drawing me to Himself. He is truly becoming my all in all.

Five: He has worked out details for our trip, like being able to see people we thought we would be unable to see, and many other little things.

There are so many other ways He is working... I am so thrilled that He allows us to be part of it!!

So, my encouragement to you is to start praying, hard, for the people in your life. And all the other things going on around you. God listens: He answers. We serve an awesome God!!

Oh yes, and as I have hinted, we are going on a trip. We will be gone for three weeks, from Saturday (early) morning to August 21st or so. We will be visiting family and friends up in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. So, I will probably not be around much for blogging. :) We shall see, I suppose...

Remember: PRAY! And keep doing stuff. ;)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Well At Least I Don't...

...drink, smoke, party, have a boyfriend/girlfriend, swear, or any of that other stuff!

Great. Good for you. We're so happy for you.


What about the other stuff you don't do?

Like doing devotions every single day... or like showing your siblings love often... or like thanking your parents for all they do... or giving of your time when you'd rather be sleeping/reading/emailing/whatever else you like to do... or putting other's interests ahead of your own... or all the other good things you know you ought to be doing...

What about that stuff? Yes, yes, we're glad you don't do the "really bad" stuff. But... aren't we forgetting something? What about the stuff we are supposed to do?

We can't just sit around all the time with our grand list of "I don't do this or that or this other thing..."

We need to DO SOMETHING!!

Go. Right now. (Okay fine, you can finish this post. But as soon as you're done. *mom-type I-mean-it look*) Go do something that you've been needing to do. Go talk to God. Go give your little sister a hug. Go ask for forgiveness from your brother (or whoever it is...). Write a thank you note. Clean your room. Do SOMETHING.

Oh, and by the way, those "little" "mistakes" that we "good kids" make are just as bad (or worse!! Since we know we ought not do them) as those "big" ones. Of course, the big ones may bring heavier consequences more quickly (i.e. Smoking will get you lung cancer and so on) but the little ones are just as deadly to our character: they may start out little, but, unless you take the necessary action, they will grow.

I think about this often when I am weeding in my garden... I generally go out there a few times a week (nearly daily) and take out these little tiny weeds. They are very easy to pull out, since they are so small and the roots are so shallow. Every time (or nearly every...) I think about my life. I think, wow, if I was this vigilant with my thoughts and habits, getting rid of any bad ones promptly, I would be doing so much better!

It's so much easier to pull out little tiny weeds... once you let them get taller, the roots get deeper and stronger, and it's much harder to get rid of them. If you only pull off the top part of the plant, and neglect to dig out the roots, the weed will come back... with a vengeance. If you wait for months and years to take care of them, they will completely overtake your garden-- and kill your flowers.

What an amazing picture of our lives gardens are!! I'm sure you were able to see the similarities between the weeds and sin... it's really quite obvious, so I won't spell it out. :)

Oh, and just in case you forgot: Go do your something. RIGHT NOW! hehe, and you thought you could get away with just reading this... :D (I'm going to go help with clean up now...)

Why are you still here? *raises eyebrows* Go!

And then, (since you didn't listen yet) come back and comment and let us know what you did! :)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Thing is...

... when you blog or interact in other ways online, you can appear much different than you actually are. You can appear one way, but live another. You can say nice things, but your life... may not match them.

Same with people you only barely know... you could appear very nice and wonderful and impressive to them in the brief time you saw them...

Even people you see often, like at church, may think you are really sweet and nice.

It's easy to be a sweet, patient, thoughtful person online... all you have to do is know how to write like that... ;)

But just because you come across well in these various places doesn't necessarily mean that you are like that at home.

At home... that's where we "let our hair down". That is where the dreaded "other side" of us comes out.

Now of course I am not like that. I am actually really as perfect as I sound on here...


I have many, many shortcomings and sinful habits... I get angry with my siblings, I don't obey my parents like I should, I am prideful, I seek my own glory, I entertain wrong thoughts, I waste time, I am sometimes deceitful... and the list goes on and on. If you want to know what I am really like, apply to my parents or siblings. :)

*smiles at my sister Cheryl who is watching me write this* (hehe, she just said, are you sure you want them to apply to your parents and siblings? :D)

This blog is about what I am learning. I can write all day about nice sounding stuff... but it's what I do that really counts. I am very, very thankful for God's work in my life thus far, but, please remember, I have a long way to go. :)

Friday, July 23, 2010

I have been thinking...

[exciting, I know] about stories. I have been thinking about the preponderance of sobering, warning stories... the kind that people write about in books to show you the importance of not doing certain things. I have also been thinking about how few victorious, wondrous stories there are... and also thinking of my life, and the stories I am "writing".

I don't know about you, but if people ever write about my life, I would much rather be used as an example of how wonderful life can be when you follow God's principles, and not one of those stories that scare you so bad you start promising to not ever do that.

I have been thinking about what stories I will tell my children... will they be ones I am ashamed of? Or will they be stories that they can laugh over and rejoice in having a godly example to follow?

What about future generations? What will they say of me, and my life?

Oh, that I would live in such a way as to leave a godly legacy! God, give me your strength, wisdom and love!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Count Your Many Blessings...

Last year, I was reading Mrs. Lauser's blog, and saw she had started something called a "One Thousand Gifts List." I thought that was a neat idea, so I decided to start one this year. I just reached 1,000 things a few days ago, on July 6th. :)

It has been really good for me, especially when I first started, because I was working for a mom who wasn't... the happiest person ever, and also it was pretty hard work. And, on top of that, Hannah was gone. :P But doing the gifts list kind of forced me to see good things, and that really helped. :) Though I got kind of desperate some days, and that is when I got thankful for water. :D

I considered blogging my list, but decided against it, so if you want to read the whole thing, you'll have to come visit us. ;)

However, I will give you a few (ha!) samples just for fun. :)

3. Nice new colored pens
10. New thoughts from Genesis 1-3
12. The Christmas tree fit into the box the first time
20. Beautiful colors in the sky -- deep blue lightening into nearly green and transitioning into a pinkish orange
21 Parents who like each other
23. Slipper socks
31. Walking around the block with my siblings in the dark in the cold while singing songs
33. Papa did the dishes while we were at church (some of us were sick)
40. Twirly skirts
46. Friends from the Rebelution
51. God's providence in the little things
59. Dirty dishes --means we have food!
89. Raspberries
90. Laughter in tough times
91. Sunshine and shadow
96. Peanut butter!
97. Adopted siblings
101. Laughing tiredly over ridiculous things with my sisters
113. The joy of using taco meat I made ahead of time :)
122. The fact that we serve a God Who is indescribable and not able to be fully comprehended!
123. Climbing our tree in this weather!
130. Rachel sitting on my lap
131 Hearing about Ellen's scarf and seeing Elisa's practice piece. (knit)
141. Baby Samuel's platelets are at 100,000!!!:D
144. Laughing with the ladies from knitting square
146. Carob chips
149. Nice comments on my blog
155. Thunder and lightening
201. Mrs. Lauser posted pictures :)
202. The way God prepares us for things
221. Baby smiles
222. The cute noises babies make when they're eating
224. Another email from Andrea
228. Mrs. Powell said to someone on the phone "Carissa's awesome, she's so on top of everything"
234. Coming home: "be it ever so humble, there's no place like home"
241. A restful morning listening to the Bright Lights CD, reading my Bible and holding a sleeping Corbin (baby)
257. Rolling down a "hill" with Hannah at Cracker Barrel
259. We got to see Hannah, Victoria, Michaela, Auntie Kim and Cianna
272. Getting added as an Editor on Jay's blog
285. Corbin smiling when I moved my eyebrows up and down
286. Learning that Mrs. Powell hadn't expected me to be much use, but now wonders what she would have done without me. :)
290. Friends who pray for you
337. 1 1/2 hour long phone call with Allison
347. Fun Knitting times at night while we read Understanding the Times (everyone knits now but papa and the boys!)
352. Matthew being funny with reading lessons
356. It got cold again!
367. Talking to Zach and Jeremiah during soccer about science and the clouds and the moon and so on
368. Papa preached again!
381. Pain, so I appreciate not having it. :)
399. Christian Philosophy- makes more sense!
400. A clean counter and empty sink
442. Discussing creation vs. evolution with Josiah
449. WE GOT THE ATTIC [reb] CLEAN!!! :D
454. Ideas
459. Singing "Joy to the World" while holding hands and jiggling them (before supper) [one of the boys suggested singing, and so we sang the first song that we thought of. haha. :D]
463. Moving chairs again :) (church)
479. Grandpa's story about throwing shoes at the light to shut it off (hehe, when he was in the coast guard, if they forgot to shut the light off, instead of getting up, they'd just try to break it with a shoe. :P)
487. Going out with Papa to panera bread
514. Fun talking to all the people at the booths at Pioneer days
529. Rain
554. Finding out that I am, in fact, an ENTJ :)
562. Getting to play Nerf again
574. Jay's story about the baby
581. Nice Philosophical discussion with Mrs. Ursu about random things
582. Respect project in Living room!
587. My painting dress
593. Us all "admitting" that we kind of like how the kitchen looks with no cupboards
595. Essence mapping
600. Poking/hitting war with Josiah and laughing hysterically
615. unexpected call from Beka
627. Jay organizing the B-day cards for me. :D
646. Andrea's recording of her singing happy birthday :)
649. Allison's status "HAPPY 20th BIRTHDAY CARISSA!!!! :D :D :D :D :D :D" [yes, she did have that many smiles. :D]
661. Hannah joined the reb!!
676. Flowers from Josiah (little ones from near the side walk)
681. Joking about "you have a servant's heart" while stacking chairs at church
688. Fun drawing the Elf world
698. Nice long walk down the beach with Cheryl
702. Fun chats with Rebeka
708. Really cool clouds
724. The joy of the Lord!
731. Chess with Josiah--I made him think on one move! :D
733. Sisters doing devotions on their own
738. Fun going in Publix-- all nine of us weighing ourselves, running, etc. :D)
739. Talking with young people at church
740. Light Saber fights with William and Matthew
746. Matt and Brandon liked the cell sock I knit for mama (they called it "sick" and "uber cool" haha)
762. Climbing the oak tree in the dark with Josiah
768. Fun on the stairs and escalators at the convention
781. My garden looking colorful

Wow... I put more than I thought I would. I'll have to add in more later, too. :)

Anyway, I am not stopping at 1,000 (already I'm at 1045) (it's addicting) and I am thinking about blogging my next thousand.

So... What do you think? Yes? No? This blog? Start another one?

Friday, July 2, 2010

Praying Like William Does

When William (my seven year old little brother) prays before a meal, he doesn't just quick ask God to bless the food: he informs God about what he has been doing and what he hopes to do, plus a few more things for good measure. (Like, thank you for the food. Since that was kind of the whole point...)

Now, to some of you, this may seem cute. You obviously don't have lots of younger siblings. :P Just kidding! Though, at times we can get impatient with him and then we start saying, "In Jesus' name..." hoping he'll take the hint. :)


While pondering this, I thought, actually, that's probably a good way to pray. Often, when I pray, usually I end up praying for this person and that person and this request and that one, instead of sharing my heart with God.

I decided that it would probably be a good idea to start praying like William does more often. So, yesterday, I did. It was very interesting. I have prayed kind of like that before, but I was still kind of surprised how it went. Why, exactly, I don't know, since it's perfectly logical...

As I wrote each thing down, (lately I've been writing down my prayers) I would get a sense of either what I was doing wrong that was causing the problem or, what I more I ought to do on a project. It was really neat. :)

I would encourage each of you to make sure you spend time telling God what you're doing and what problems you've been facing. :) (Haha, I feel like I'm telling you something overly simple... but I think it's one of those things that we all know but don't apply like we should, so I'm saying it anyway. :))

Lately I've been really excited about prayer in general... it's just so neat to watch God working through your prayers! God is very amazing! :D

Friday, June 25, 2010

Well, I'm Done...

... waiting, that is. I used to be "waiting" for the next step in my life, but I've decided to quit.*


Well... see, awhile ago, I was talking to a friend of ours, who has been married for six years or so and still doesn't have children. Her feelings of waiting for the next step and of not being quite fulfilled reminded me of my own feelings about getting married. And I suddenly realized the folly of this whole "waiting" thing.

We wait impatiently to get married, and then once we're married, we wait impatiently for children, and then once we have children, we wait for them to be able to walk, and then talk, and then we can't wait till they start school, and then we can't wait for them to finish school, and then we are waiting for them to get married, and then we are waiting for grandchildren... you get the idea. It never ends!!

What if, instead of "waiting", we just learned to fully enjoy where we are now??

Sure, we need to look forward to and prepare for the next step, but let's learn to be content with where we are right now and not have the mindset of "waiting" for the next thing.

*Not that I've got this down yet; old thought habits die hard. :P

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

We all do it...

"Well, at least I'm better than so and so." "You should be glad I don't do such and such like they do."

I know I do it at times... If I compare myself to most young folks around here, I get a pretty good rating. :P

Many of you (all of you?) reading this blog are "above average". You are given "gold stars" pretty often. And it feels good, of course. We all like gold stars.

But... think about what we are being compared to. The average today is so very low that being "above average" basically means not doing really bad things. That, my friends, is pathetic. (The standard, not y'all. hehe.)

When I joined the Rebelution forum team, I was excited to find that there were others who were ahead of me--people that I could compare myself to and find myself wanting to do more, like they are doing.

However, even if we manage to find some rebelutionaries to compare ourselves to, is that even right? Sure, it's encouraging, and I'm very blessed to have such friends... but: should we really be comparing ourselves to human standards?

I don't think so.

Seems to me that we should, instead, "compare" ourselves to Christ. That leaves no room 'tall for pride! And it leaves us realizing how very much more we have to achieve.

What do y'all think?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

I Used to Get Frustrated.

Now I don't. Ever.

Okay, so that's not true.

But I have learned something that has greatly eased my frustration in one area.

I used to get really discouraged... I would want to change some area of my life so bad! And I would try hard to work on it. But I didn't seem to get anywhere.

(Maybe because I only tried really hard for a few days... :P)

Anyway, I would feel like change never really "stuck", and that I wasn't getting anywhere. I would write about it in my journal... what I was noticing I needed to change, and how hard it was.

I would read great books... and feel like I wasn't really getting anything, like nothing really changed. I would pray and ask God to help me. I would talk to my parents.


I didn't see much difference. What's the use? Why try so hard to change if you don't see any results?


Now that I am ancient (kidding!) and looking back on my struggles to change this area or that one, I see much more than I did then. Sure, I may not have changed suddenly or spectacularly.

But now-- behold! Progress!!

Change isn't instantaneous after all! It takes time and effort.

Don't be discouraged when you aren't suddenly kind to your siblings every moment of every day! Or when you don't suddenly pray for hours every day!

Change comes in stages...

Just being really dissatisfied with something in your life or getting really excited about a new way of doing things will start you off.

Doing all the things I mentioned previously (writing about it, praying, talking to adults, reading good books, etc...) will also really help.

And then... you have to take the effort to make those little changes. Over. And over. And over...

I know. That's the hard part.


Do Hard Things! :D

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

In the Course of One's Life...

...there are conversations which change our thinking, and, therefore, our lives. Of course, nearly every conversation shapes us in some way, but there are certain ones that really stand out as pivotal.

One of those in my life may not seem incredibly life changing to you... but, somehow, it was.

It happened several years ago, when I was fourteen. We were sitting at the dining room table, talking about random things, as we are prone to do. We had some friends over, and their mom said something to the effect of ,"I reached all of my goals by the time I was 19." She then explained that her goals had been to get married and have children, both of which were accomplished at that age.

However... she is now divorced, her first child was out of wedlock, and her two oldest children have children of their own... but no spouses.

Now, that might not seem remarkable, or life changing, or even really all that interesting, though I hope you will agree with me that what happened in her life is tragic.

But it made me think:

First, wow, she had the same goals that I have... but her life is not how I want mine to turn out. What can I do differently to avoid that outcome?

Second, I need bigger goals than simply "getting married" and "having children". Those goals leave you without any goals pretty quickly! Imagine being all out of goals at 19!!

So... what have I done since then? How did this affect my thinking?

Well, first, I decided that, instead of just having "be a wife and mother" as my life goal, I'd add something: Become an Excellent wife and mother. (And person in general)

Right then, at age fourteen, I wrote down a vision for the kind of wife and mother I want to be.

"I want to be a wonderful wife. I want to be supportive and submissive to my husband. I want to keep the house clean, and have delicious meals on time, and praise him for what he does, and "dress up" for him, and be cheerful, and take his shoes off, and greet him at the door with a smile, and let him tell me about his day before I tell about mine, I want to look on the bright side of things, and have a sense of humor. I will STAY WITH HIM."

Now, some of those things sound a little funny... but they are what I thought of at fourteen. :) I have added more things to that list mentally, but you get the idea.

"I want to be a great mom. I want to play with my children, and teach them about God, and listen to them, and home school them, and read to them, I want to help them, and feed them good food, and make clothes for them, and love on them, and pray with and for them, and NEVER GIVE UP on them. And lots more things for them and my husband. (whoever he is.)"

Again, some of those things sound a little silly to me now, but you can see what I was thinking.

It's easy enough to just get married and have children without preparing much or striving to be the best you can be with God's help... but you'll most likely end up with an incredibly ho-hum, low impact life--or, on the other side of things, an incredibly painful and unnecessarily difficult life.

Now, of course God can and does use those situations. However, I don't want to make choices that will lead to those kinds of lifestyles--my dreams are much, much bigger.

Sure, I look forward to the romantic parts of getting married and the astounding miracle of babies-- but there's much more to this! If I become an excellent wife and mother, I can have enormous eternal impact for God's kingdom!

"Woman's work is foundation work for society, for the state, for the kingdom of heaven. In the homes of America are born the children of America; and from them goes forth American life. Who has the hand upon these springs of life? Woman.... Woman may think her sphere and work are limited and contracted, but in this she was never found it a graver mistake. In the home she is imprinting herself upon the man; in him she builds up society, in him she builds up the state, in him she legislates, in him she executes, in him she rules. She makes man what he is, so far as human power can operate, Yes, if she never does anything else but 'nurse babies' she can do no grander work. May God impress upon our women the high, heavenly, holy duty of rearing the children of our country, and making our homes places of joy and comfort. Alas! for the State! if our women are to leave the work of our homes and run hither and thither in search of larger rights and larger powers!" William H. Felix, in "The Work and Sphere of Womanhood.

It's exciting to think of how much influence I have as a women! I want to learn all I can so that I will impact the world for good and not for evil.

Which is why I am thrilled about the new book "Preparing to be a Help Meet" by Debi Pearl. I just finished reading it recently, and am looking forward to applying the things I've learned in it as I read it again-- this time taking notes and filling out things. :) I'm very thankful that she's developed this resource to help me reach my goals!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Thoughts on the Young Lady's Role.... church and in society.

Lately, I've been pondering something rather interesting. If college were not an option, and young ladies were at home, what would be their role in the church? In other words, what would position would they play traditionally?

I had a few ideas about this...

One, that they would be helping their parents with little ones and housework and so on.

Two, that they'd be helping young mothers in the church, both during the services (like in nursery) and at other times during the week. This is actually something that is really lacking in our culture... My mother was blessed to live where there were young ladies willing to help her out after she had us older children. One of the young ladies told mama that she had kind of felt like, why does she need so much help? Until after she had children of her own. Then she understood. :)

Anyway, in our church there are many young mothers, and I'm sure they would all appreciate a young lady coming to help them... unfortunately, while I have been able to help some mothers, (like the one whose house I went to nearly daily for around a month) I can't help all of them as well as I'd like. And... sadly, most of the other young ladies are busy with college and their jobs and so forth. So there is definitely a lack of help in that area.

Three, I thought they'd be teaching younger girls what they've learned. (like Bright lights)

And, four, learning from the older women in the church.

Well, those are some of my thoughts... what do you all think? Any more things to add? Take away?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Amazing Women in My Life

I am incredibly blessed to have had the influence of many amazing ladies in my life. I have thought of this sort of post for a long time, and now that it's around (well, a bit after) Mother's Day, I thought it would be a good time to write about it.


What blessed me most about Katrina was her very evident love for God. She had a wonderful way of praying... you could really tell she was talking to God, and that she really loved and knew Him. She told stories in such an interesting way. My brother Josiah always said that he liked it when she would do the "Devotion" part of our homeschool coop. She was also very fun-- she likes to play games and do crafts. They used to be neighbors, but moved away-- So that's why I talking in past tense... Right before they left, she had us girls over for a sleepover, and stayed up talking to Hannah and I. She told us very funny stories of when she was a girl. She is very humble! I also admired her for not complaining about her health. (She has hip problems.) Also, she had an amazing garden, with pretty much all the edible tropical plants that can grow here. Which is pretty amazing!


One of the things that stands out to me about her is that she listens really well. She always is interested in what you have to say and offers good advice if you need it, goes along with crazy ideas, is ready to "philosophize" with you about anything, and so on. Another thing that is really amazing about her is her faithfulness and love for her unsaved husband. This is a good problem, because when they were married, they were both unsaved. Now she is saved, and her husband is not. So prayers for him would be appreciated. She is curious, and willing to learn. She is a "technology mom". They have 6 children, from 20 to 6, whom she loves very much. She also has many, many animals in her house and on their other property. We're talking 3 dogs, 4 or more cats, tons of fish, a snake, bearded dragon, 6 cattle, 4 hives of bees, and I'm sure there's more. So that in and of it self is pretty amazing. :) Well, there's more I could say about her, but I have to stop sometime.


Just the fact that she is a Pastor's wife and mother of 8 children under 13 is enough to make me admire her! She is a very happy, friendly person who is easy to talk to and to like. Her love for the Lord and desire to serve Him are a real encouragement to me and I'm sure many others. She is also a great cook on top of all that. I really like her potato casserole, sloppy joes, and cheese bread. And the cookies. :) I also admire her hospitality and heart for families. And of course, there's so much more...


Yuko, as you may have guessed, is from Japan. I admire her for her adapting to America, for her enthusiasm, her hospitality, her amazing cooking (sushi [no raw fish], miso soup, and much more!) her creativity, economy (when they were first married, she lived on popcorn for most of the day and made a nicer meal for her husband! She also washed clothes in the sink) and also for honoring her husband, who isn't the easiest person to honor.

Well, there are many more ladies who have impacted me... perhaps I will do a part two sometime. :) But I wanted to get this up, since I actually wrote it last year. I know, terrible. :P