Sunday, February 27, 2011

Purity and Pride

 Warning: This is not an extremely organized post. This would be known as... a story which turned into a Bible study which turned into a rant which turned into a blog post which turned into an article which... you get the picture. :D Nevertheless, I hope God uses it to bless you, since He already used it to bless me.

Not too long ago, I was thinking about the sins of my cousins (the five older than I on my mom's side have at least one child... and none are married. :P) and how glad I was that I haven't gone down that path. And then I realized that I really haven't been in a situation where it was actually an issue...

And I thought, well, I won't ever do that. At the very least my pride will keep me from it. 

And then: thankfully!-- Not a second later, I realized--with horror--what I had just thought and the evilness of that kind of thinking.

For one thing, "Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall." (Proverbs 16:18).

Secondly, as C.S.Lewis brings out in Mere Christianity, Satan is perfectly fine-- in fact glad!-- if he can get us to be good out of pride. Eek!

Through this little thought battle thingie, by the grace of God, I realized once again that it's only by the grace of God that we can withstand the flesh and it's passions, and that should we think we "won" the battle by "using" our pride, we have actually lost the greater battle.

"Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for: 

“ God resists the proud,  
But gives grace to the humble.”

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

Be sober, be vigilant; because
your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen." (1 Peter 5:5-11)

So... how exactly do we resist the flesh?

"I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.  But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies,
21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another." (Galatians 5:16-26)

"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 

Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;   praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints..." (Ephesians 5:10-18)

We must keep ourselves immersed in the things of God, and we must constantly cry out to Him for help in our trials and temptations. 

"For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:15-16

I love those verses!! :D

This earthly life is so short. We aren't guaranteed another breath-- much less another day! We don't have time to mess around with sin! And after all God has done for us, how can we do anything less than give everything we have for Him? How can we not serve and love and give as hard as we can for His sake? He died for us! And who are we? We are minuscule, rebellious creations of His. But yet He loves us. How can you not love this God? How can we continue on in sin, in laziness, in our "good church stuff"?? No!! We cannot. We must love and fight and serve with everything we've got, where we are right now. Yes, that means your siblings. Yes, that means your chores. To me, one of the most thrilling aspects of being a Christian is that NOTHING is insignificant!! I can be washing dishes for God's glory! I can be changing diapers for God's glory! :D I know, it's odd to be thrilled about that... but if you think about it long enough, it's actually very exciting. That fact eradicates the word "mundane" from our lives!

"Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." 1 Corinthians 10:31

And what does that mean? Well, tell God. "I'm doing this for You." And mean it! Also do it as well as you possibly can--thus representing Him well.

If we are faithful now, in these little things...

"And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities." (Luke 19:17-18)

... we will be given much more, and our reward will be great.

Therefore, my fellow soldiers, Let us "press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus[!]"

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Preparing For Prince Charming: Part 4

You've probably heard that what you wear, decorate with, and so on is an expression of your heart. But did you ever think that what you wear and surround yourself with can affect your attitude and even your character?

Today I'm going to talk about several aspects of life, which I've tied together with the word "externals". These things often seem like they aren't that big of a deal, but they actually have quite a bit of impact on your character, the kind of wife you'll be, and the sort of husband you'll attract.

First, clothing.

You knew I'd say that, didn't ya. :) Well, obviously modesty is important, but I'm not going deep into that topic just now. I already did that here, here, here, aaaaaaand here. :) If you didn't see those posts, it would be splendid if you could go ahead and read them. What I do want to show here, though, is how important modesty is to Christian guys who are looking for a wife.

Out of 1,229 guys (of all ages) surveyed, 875 strongly agreed with this statement: "Modesty is an important quality for your future wife to have." Another 297 guys agreed with it.

Listen to some of their comments about this: 

Age 21: It is absolutely my very first criteria. Immodestly dressed ladies are the first people I eliminate as possibilities.

Age 22: I believe modesty is one way for a woman to show that she is committing herself to her husband. She is saying that he is the only one who is going to have the opportunity to enjoy her physical beauty. That would mean a lot to me.

Age 23: It is one of my chief quality because it reveals a lot about her character. Does she want to be known as a hot girl or a godly lady?

Age 17: I feel that it is important to me to get to know who she is as a human being, and person in Christ, rather than how she looks. And it helps a lot if she wears modest clothing that way I can focus better on what she is saying and how she is acting.

Age 15: Modesty is not just an issue of clothes, it also has to do with the heart and the woman's walk with God. A girl who dresses modestly is showing that her heart is right, and that is the kind of woman I intend to marry someday.

Age 17: There is a difference between paranoid modesty, or external (not from the heart) modesty, and true attractive modesty. I want my wife to know the difference, not out of legalism, but out of strong character. =)

Age 40-49: If she's using that kind of bait to hook you, why would she stop after catching her first fish?

Age 21: I don't want my wife dressing as if she is trying to give herself away to every guy that looks at her. I want her to dress, even before I know her, as a woman who is a precious object that must be won through pure and genuine love, not lust. 

And they just go on, and on, and on. Go have a look for yourself!

I do want to cover a few things other things here, though. One, the clothes you wear really affect how you act and how you are treated. Dress like a lady and you'll be much more prone to behaving like one and being treated like one. Not guaranteed, it's true. But it sure is a lot more likely.

Another thing I'd like to mention is that it is very important to men, even (especially?) after marriage, that their lady looks attractive. You looking lovely reflects well on him, odd as that may sound. So develop good habits now. I don't mean that you always have to be dressed up, but just that you should make an effort to take care of yourself and your clothing, even if it's just the two of you. And remember, a smiling face goes a loooong way in this department. :)

Now, media and entertainment.

Oh boy... this is a very large, complicated topic.

What you put in your mind is what comes out. Seems incredibly obvious, but-- somehow, all too often, we overlook it. This applies to all forms of entertainment/media: music, books, movies, TV, blogs, and so forth. If the majority of what you listen to/watch/read exemplifies low and ungodly standards, there is no way you are going to develop and live out noble standards in your own life.

Biographies of Christian heros [The Hiding Place, God Knows My Size, God Smuggler, Bruchko, and many many others.], old (or at least old fashioned) non-fiction books about manners and the Christian walk [How to be a Lady, So Much More, Home Making, etc.] fiction books which have high standards [once again, books from around the 1800s are usually best for this--I'd recommend lamplighters.], and etcetera.

I know that for me, personally, this has been a great encouragement and has trained me to value old-fashioned manners and standards and to apply them in my life. It has also helped condition me to be disgusted and deeply saddened by the contrast in our current culture. Since we don't have many opportunities to be around people which such high standards (and thus be automatically conditioned to sort things into the proper folder-- appalling or commendable-- correctly) in real life, the next best thing is to surround yourself with examples in books.

If you want a happy marriage, you're going to need good character. (Meaning this: your normal responses to situations need to be joyful, patient, loving, honest, etc... ones.) And one of the major ways your character develops is through media. The way the people respond in the majority of books, movies, and so on that you read/watch is going to be training you to respond in similar ways. You can't immerse yourself in romance novels and romantic movies and expect to act and think like a pure girl.

While I'm at it, if you read those kinds of books/watch those movies, stop. Right now. Yes, that's an order. :P Throw them away, burn them. Get them away from you. When I was younger, about 14, a well meaning friend gave us some "Christian" romance novels. They were really "clean", you know. Nothing bad. But then I got caught reading them (yes... I was forbidden to read them and did anyways. :P), and Papa explained to me that the reason he didn't want me to read books like that was because it awakened desires (and unrealistic ones at that!) too early. Which... was true. Unfortunately. Now the effects are lessened, but still. Not good. So, please do yourself and your future husband a favor and don't fill your minds with that sort of junk. It'll just set you up for heartbreak and/or disappointment later on.


Now, this one might be a new thought for some of you. The way your spaces are decorated and maintained reflects your personality, yes, But they also affect you. And your future home.

Please tell me none of you need this injunction... but if you have posters of guys on your walls, please take them down. Like, now. Thank you. I don't think I need to explain myself there...

Even if you don't even have your own room (I share a rather small room with my three sisters), you can begin decorating, organizing and cleaning now. I'm sure you have at least some small area to call your own-- start there!

Personally, I have my bed, the wall space near my bed (I'm on the top bunk), my hook, my box in the bathroom, and my desk. I know, not very impressive. But! [S]he who is faithful in little... ;) When I was about 14, I decided that I wanted a clean, organized, pretty house. So, I decided I had better start practicing now. I made it a habit to keep my areas tidy and regularly organize and clean them. I made a pillow for my bed, and several verse cards for my desk, among other things. I have papers on the wall near my bed reminding me of things to pray for. I have gathered a little collection of unique containers (most of them were gifts or things I found around the home and adopted...) that hold my letters, papers, random stuff, pens and pencils, etc. And, somehow, they all go together. (I think I have a knack for that... taking a bunch of random things and making them look alright together. haha.) When you see my spaces, you will probably come away with several conclusions (though I have never taken a survey on this, so I might be wrong.): One, I love God, or at least His word. Two, I like nature. Three, I like things neat, but not sterile. :P (I actually use my spaces, so at least several times a day they won't be very tidy [like my desk right now... it has a Bible, a camera, several papers, my planner, an address book, and probably some other things]... and sometimes they even get a little dirty. But I always take the time to tidy and reorganize.)

Even if it doesn't seem like it, the vast majority of men like having a tidy and tasteful house. Just ask your dad. 

Another thing you can do is take responsibility for an area of your house-- for example, right now our kitchen is my jurisdiction ("area of influence", for those who haven't watched the Duggars and then were curious enough to look it up in the dictionary).  But I'm getting ahead of myself. On to more externals.

Your Friends

Yes... I have labeled friends as an "external". I'm sorry, friends who are reading this... I don't mean to sound rude or anything. ;)

However, friends are outside of us, and they do have a powerful impact on the way we will eventually turn out. So, choose wisely. Yes, it is excellent and admirable to have "ministry friends"-- ones you pour yourself into. But it is also very important that you have other friends who will build you up and encourage you in your walk with God.

Proverbs 13:20: He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will be destroyed.

You really will become like the people you are constantly with. Don't think you are strong enough to be constantly surrounded by worldly thinking and still come out with a Christian mindset and actions. It ain't happening, sister. Surround yourself with girls who talk way more of God than of guys, and also watch out for (and avoid as much as possible) feminist attitudes towards men.

And, finally, hair.

Very briefly: as an adult female friend of mine told me, guys like girls with long hair. Very simple. Keep it long, girls. And, also, if you'd like tips for taking care of long hair and keeping it healthy, feel free to ask me. :)

So: think about your "externals" and pray for wisdom in making the necessary changes. :)

And then go here for Part Five. ;)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Preparing for Prince Charming: Part 3

For some reason, the subject that I am going to talk to you about is very rarely mentioned in regards to preparing for marriage. I, however, feel that it is extremely important and needs to be talked about more. Hence, I am going to talk to you about it. But, before I do, I would like to show you the importance of it by describing to you two fictional (but, I'm afraid, all too common) scenes.

Imagine this: You have six children, all under ten. Today is Saturday, and tomorrow is a fellowship meal, and afterwards you are having the Jones over for games and fellowship. Today's list includes laundry, bathing all the children, cleaning up the house, preparing a meal for tomorrow, and all those other mom tasks. It's only ten o'clock, and you had a good night's sleep: but already you are exhausted and your head is pounding. Your throat is hurting a little, too, and you hope you're not getting sick... again.

Or, imagine this: you learn that you are going to have a baby, so you start taking your vitamin tablets and you eat lots of fish because it's high in omegas, and you paint the house because you want it to be all ready for baby... and you have an awful tooth ache so you get that fixed, and you heard the flu is going to be real bad this year so you get your flu shot. When he's born, at the proper times, you get him vaccinated. Fast forward to when your baby is about 12 months old. You notice that he doesn't seem to be responding properly to you and has odd preoccupations with certain things. He makes odd flapping motions and isn't even trying to talk... sometimes when you hold him he cries and pushes you away. You take him to the doctor and they tell you the sad truth: he has autism.

The majority of people tend to think that those things are inescapable: that there's nothing you can do.

However, there is something you can do.

Go to the library (or your bookshelf) and get yourself some books on autism. Find out what it is you can do now to prevent it, and what you can do while you are pregnant.

Also get some books on natural healing and on health. Get a variety of books and compare them. Read, read, read. Talk to people in the health food store. Learn as much as you can about the food you eat.

And then apply your knowledge. Take supplements, drink lots of good water, eat healthy food, exercise.

Your husband will greatly appreciate a happy, healthy wife. It is dreadfully hard to be cheerful and helpful when your body is not working properly!

Once you are a wife it is very likely that you will then become a mother. And with that, there are a bunch more things to learn.

Did you know that Folic Acid is necessary to prevent birth defects? And did you further know that it is most important during the first 12 weeks of development? And did you realize that most people don't even know they are expecting till after that? Hence, by the time you start taking your vitamins, it could already be too late! This is why it is so important that you begin building a healthy body now. Your body will steal from itself to make a healthy baby-- if you don't have enough reserves. And that can weaken your bones and so forth.

Did you know that there are herbs which help with labor in different ways? Do you know what they are?

What are the nutritional needs of a pregnant or nursing mother?

Did you know what type of exercise shortens labor most effectively?

What are the benefits of nursing? Is it important enough to keep trying until you figure it out?

Do you know what to do with a sick baby?

What if your child develops an infection? What do you do?

Are anti-biotics your only choice? What effects do they have on the body?

What do you know about vaccinations? Are they really safe?

These things are all very, very important. Learn and implement them now! And if you have questions about where to learn this sort of thing, feel free to ask. :)

Click here for Part Four.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Rejoicing in His Love Today

 "The LORD has appeared of old to me, saying: 
“ Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; 
Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you."
Jeremiah 31:3

"The LORD your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.”
Zephaniah 3:17

He loves me... He loves me... He really loves me! :D

Sunday, February 13, 2011

My Brother Timothy

If you know me well, you are probably wondering why I never told you I had a brother named Timothy. Well, finally, today I am telling you. Here is the story, told in brief images supplied by the memories of an event that occurred fifteen years ago.

The bathroom door was firmly closed. From inside, my mother's shaky voice reached my five-year-old ears:

"Carissa, I need you to call papa or the midwife."

Was she crying? Clueless and concerned, trying to find the "yellow paper with Joyce's name on it"; wondering how one called people on the phone....

Mama's voice, more desperate this time.

Finally getting someone called, proceeding to run frantically back and forth. Bathroom, front door. Front door, bathroom.

"Mama? Are you okay? What's wrong?"

Vague, crying, unsatisfactory answers. Knowing something was wrong; unsure of what it was.

What did it all mean? Would papa ever get home?

My two year old sister, Hannah; mimicking my nervous running-- only she thought it a game.

My baby brother Josiah, pulling baby wipes out on to the floor, happily making a mess with them.

Finally, papa came. And the midwife.

[My memory is fuzzy here... I imagine they went in with mama and helped her and then she went to bed. Some other people may have come over at this point as well.]

Later on, learning the baby came too soon. It was already dead.

What does dead mean?

It was dark and cold, and someone was carrying mama outside. Something was wrong with her: why wasn't she doing anything? Was she asleep? Would she be okay?

Mrs. Mc. coming and helping us clean up and trying to explain things. I found a spot of blood-- concerned, but curious--and wanting to help--I wiped it up.

She put us to bed. And gave me a spanking. A hard one. Apparently I was being naughty... what a surprise. :P (Around there it was not uncommon for parents to spank each other's children...)

Later on, another day: a family burial out in the woods.

A very deep hole: don't fall in!

Papa being gone a long, long time and returning with a gorgeous wildflower bouquet.

Josiah, too little to know better, throwing rocks and sticks in the hole for baby. Finding that amusing, and even mama smiling a little.

Picking pretty little flowers and tossing them in with Hannah...

The check box with the mountains on the lid; a soft bed of cotton balls inside and the smallest blanket ever, cut from mama's pink and white and gray plaid hospital gown. Written on in mama's neat, grown up handwriting: "Timothy Mann" "xoxoxoxoxo" (One xo from each of us. I made sure mama got that right.) with a permanent marker.

And in between the cotton balls and blanket--mama let us look-- the most intricate, tiny, perfect, still baby.

Unbelievably small fingers and toes, with such perfect little nails... a funny head with a cute little nose and closed eyes, ("mama, why are his eyes closed?") thin lips, legs, arms, teeny ribs covered with almost transparent skin... what a miracle.

Even at five--or maybe because I was five--I was very curious and amazed. There was absolutely no doubt whatsoever that the bitty form laying on the cotton balls was a baby.

We sang some hymns, and mama cried: we wanted to know why. Papa was quiet. Very quiet.

We put baby Timothy in--way down--in the big hole. (when you are five, holes like that are enormous.) We all helped put lots of dirt on top so no nasty coyotes would dig up the precious little box.

Much later on, I learned that our brother went to be with Jesus when he was around three months old.

That is when most babies are aborted.

You have no idea what that does to me, knowing how a baby looks at that age, remembering the amazing details of my little brother, knowing that people kill babies exactly like him.

I would be saddened and horrified enough by abortion without having seen a baby at that stage in development-- the utter injustice of killing a completely defenseless, innocent human being in what should be the safest place for it! is enough to sicken and infuriate me---but having seen a real baby of that age!!

This evil must be stopped.

Who knows but that God has appointed us for such a time as this!

Tomorrow [Monday, February 14th], my sister Hannah and I will be fasting for lunch and praying for the end of abortion. A small step, perhaps-- if going directly to the One who controls the universe can be called a small step--but it's a start.

Join us and the many others nationwide who will be participating!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Preparing for Prince Charming: Part 2

To help introduce my topic, here's a story:

A Tale of two brothers.

Once upon a time, in a land far away (from some of you) there were two brothers named Malachi and Jonah. They were both rather carefree, not much concerned with the things of God or with the details of life. Their days were full of fun and learning. There came a time, however, when their thoughts and hearts were turned towards young ladies in their fair town, and this is the tale of the difference made by the influence of those ladies. Often on the face of Lady Alethea was a smile which told of her love for her Savior, and she, while being friendly, did not chase after Jonah. Lady Madina, on the other hand, was prone to silliness and flirtation, and she did chase after Malachi. At first, the difference in Malachi and Jonah was so slight so as to evade detection. However, as the years went on, Malachi’s leadership waned, whatever desire to serve God lessened, and he just grew more apathetic. Jonah, on the other hand, now thinks seriously about the things of God and the Bible, and his leadership skills have only improved. Jonah and Alethea are engaged to be married-- and no one knows whether or not Malachi and Madina are still together. Alethea is respected and loved by her betrothed-- Madina is treated casually and with little respect. 

This tale, though names and details have been changed slightly, is a true one, and I have witnessed it first hand. Let us learn from the mistakes of Madina and the wise example of Alethea!

Today’s Topic
As you may have guessed from my story,  I’d like to talk about how we, as young ladies,  relate to men and boys. God has given us a special (and very powerful) kind of influence in their lives-- and if we learn now how to use it well, our marriages and husbands will be blessed. Not to mention our current relationships with dads, brothers and friends! 

As I said earlier, we can influence them for good-- like Sarah Edwards did with Jonathan Edwards-- or for evil-- like, unfortunately, our mother Eve did in the case of the forbidden fruit. 

And, like I mentioned before about preparing, we are influencing them whether we try to or not.

If you make fun of your little brother when he tries to help you, you are inadvertently discouraging his gentlemanly instincts. When you neglect to say thank you when someone opens a door for you... when you poke fun at masculinity... when you dress immodestly... when you make crude jokes... when you allow yourself to be used as an object... those things all negatively affect the kind of man they’ll be. These things, sadly, are very common in our culture-- and, even a fairly unobservant person can tell you that the majority of guys nowadays are, well, jerks. Even some guys agree with that statement.

The delicate--yet formidable-- art of guy nudging
However! The good news is that if we girls can weaken guys, we can also build them up and encourage them to become more gentlemanly and godly. How? Well, in the book “Authentic Beauty” Leslie Ludy calls it “guy nudging”. 

So: what on earth is guy nudging-- and how can we do it??

To start with, it’s not called guy shoving. At its best, it should be barely perceptible. Yelling or putting guys down in an effort to “get them to behave” would be classified as shoving. They are a  waste of your time (and lung power) and worse than useless. Nagging and whining and lecturing are also in the "shoving" class and very nearly as ineffective. When you shove, you can expect to get shoved back. So, what is a girl to do?? 

Develop a Vision
First off, you need to get yourself a vision for godly manhood. Read about David and Joseph and Daniel and other godly men in the Bible. Read about heroes of the past. If you have a godly father, watch him. Study manhood in the Bible and elsewhere. Once you have a vision for the kind of men they can become, you will be able to better encourage them along in their pursuit of godliness. 

Be a Lady

One important way to encourage men to reach for godly manhood is to act and dress in a lady-like manner. My sisters and I wear skirts regularly, and generally have a happy countenance-- and you’d be surprised by how gentlemanly the men-- of all ages and from all walks of life-- around us become. It is not at all uncommon for them to open doors for us-- and even offer to give up their seats!

Try it yourself-- wear a modest, full, pretty skirt with a feminine blouse, pair it with a bright smile and some kindness-- and watch what happens. 

When guys are in the presence of a lady, it automatically does one of two things: either it scares them and makes them want to get away from you; or it spurs them on to respect and honor you as a woman and it helps them become more manly in the process.  

Don't Discourage Gentlemanliness
To borrow a quote from Rebeka:

“Do not refuse to let a man open the door for you. Do not refuse the seat they offer. Because today’s society downplays these manly gestures, many men find these actions harder to express than they would have just a mere century ago. Spurring a man on towards godly manhood is to accept his motions of gentlemanly behavior with grace and and a thankful smile. When we refuse to recognize their signs of manliness, that is a humiliating response to them; furthermore, it makes them more reticent to proffer their seats or open the door in the future. You aren’t doing anyone a favor by quipping back “Oh, I’m fine on the floor!” Cute? Maybe. Encouraging? No.”

Trust and Obey...
Another way we can encourage and help our brothers in Christ is to show that we trust and respect and expect great things from them. This isn’t always easy-- because sometimes you don’t feel like trusting them. However, when they see that you do and that you are willing to follow their lead, they will be more likely to take the lead, thus developing their God given role of leadership. Submitting to their lead is not easy, I know-- which is why I have chosen to practice it to the best of my ability by obeying my younger brothers (17, 8, 5) when they ask me to do something for them. Trust me, that is hard. And lest you think I am just one of those docile, sweet, whatever-you-say-goes type of girls-- let me assure you that I am not. In fact, my personality type (ENTJ) is called “The executive” or the “leader of leaders”. So yes, submitting to my younger brothers is definitely a challenge. But it has been a good one, and I have only benefited from it. I figure if I can learn to submit to my younger brothers, surely I can submit to my husband! 

Speaking of brothers, if you have them, start encouraging and "nudging" and praying for them today! They are great for practicing... and, as the young men God has placed in your life at this time, you have a responsibility to help them become the men God wants them to be. The way you treat them will have a huge impact on how they turn out. 

Once Again, it's the Little Things...
 Besides these two major areas, there are many small things we can do... a well timed smile, a word of encouragement, noticing kind/sacrificial things they do, saying thank you often, phrasing questions in ways that assume the best, letting them know you are proud of them, doing little things for them, encouraging them in their ideas... etc. 

How Will This Help My Future Marriage?
Here's a quote from a married lady on the influence the wife has:

“A great deal of what makes marriage successful is how a woman treats her husband. Since men are simple creatures and women are a whole lot more complicated, much of the nature of a marriage is up to the woman. If she treats her husband with love and respect and refrains from nagging or emasculating him, then the chances for a happy marriage are much higher.” From: Rural Revelution

See? We have an extremely important role, and the more we can learn it now, the better!!

Stay tuned for part three!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Just a Deadly Little Word.

Actually, let me rephrase that.

Just, a deadly little word.

Seriously, it is killing me.

I'm just going to do a little bit. 

I just need to do this one thing real quick. 

I'm just checking my email. 

I just want to talk to this one person. 

Just a little longer.

And then, lo and behold, I am just stuck.

Please pray for me as I am re-entering the wild world of the internet. It is not easy controlling myself. As I have found, much to my chagrin. Like... right now I shouldn't really be on. So I am going to get off now. Thank you in advance for your prayers.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Preparing for Prince Charming: Part 1

There’s Something About February...
For some reason, in this particular month, odd things happen-- for example, many of us single gals “randomly” start sighing for the day when we will have a dashing husband-- who will, of course, [or so our dreams go] know just what we want (Probably daisies and raspberry dark chocolate for me...) for Valentine’s Day and who will make us feel very special and loved. Ah... if only he would come!

But Wait... Doesn’t a Prince Want a Princess?

However, in all our dreaming of the so-called (and rather elusive, it seems) "Prince Charming", we often forget what sort of woman this noble and godly man is searching for. Does he want a woman whose clothes are immodest and whose general appearance is untidy, or does he want a lady who dresses in such a way that says that she is a true princess-- a daughter of the King of kings-- with modesty and tastefulness? Does he want a woman who only really knows how to sit around admiring her nails, or one who is actively working hard-- serving God and her family and developing useful skills? Does he want a woman with a sullen and self-centered attitude-- or is he looking for one with a thankful, selfless spirit? Does he want a woman who is following after the world-- or one who is passionately seeking the Lord in every area? Does he want a clingy woman who is only a weight to drag him down-- or is he looking for a stable lady who will encourage and help him on to higher heights and deeper depths? 

Which Woman Will You Become?

Now, obviously you all know which option would be the “correct” one in each of those cases, so I'm not going to ask that particular question. However, I would like to ask you this: If you continue on in your current lifestyle, will you become that noble, wise, godly woman? Or will you be the foolish woman who tears down her husband and her family with her words, attitudes and actions? Right now, this very day--whether you are aware of it or not-- you are preparing for your future. You are practicing to be a kind mother if you respond lovingly and patiently when your little brother asks you to play with him for what feels like the fifteen thousandth time--- or you are practicing to be an unkind mother when you snap at him and rudely send him off so he'll quit bothering you. When you respond cheerfully and submissively to your father's request, you are practicing being a godly wife. But when you refuse to obey or even choose to talk back to him, you are practicing being the sort of wife who will ruin her marriage. Which path will you take? Will you just drift along, following whatever your fleshly whims suggest-- or will you take action and begin actively seeking to be a woman of grace, value and godliness?

Personally, I have decided that I am going to make the best possible use of the single... years? months? days? I have left-- and I would like to share some areas I am working on-- that way, if you also choose to actively prepare to be a godly woman, (and possibly wife) you will have some ideas of what to work on. 

Building on a Solid Foundation

First of all, since it is at once the most important, the hardest, and the most foundational aspect of life, I will talk about your walk with the Lord. Often we think that means that we just simply add prayer and Bible reading to our already crammed list of things to do. Obviously those are good things-- and of course I (along with many other people in your life, I hope) recommend you do them daily. But walking with God means so more than that: it means we invite Him to invade and transform every area of our life-- our thoughts, our attitudes, our words, our schedules, our activities, our friendships, our jokes, our writing, our reading, our music, our clothes, our jewelry, our movies... every single thing in our lives. The reason we read the Bible is to learn more about Him and His desires for our lives. The reason we pray is so we can get to know Him more intimately-- to seek His face, to know His will. Not just so that we can have yet another check mark on our to-do list.

Relying on God to be our Rock

See, in life, people let you down; they hurt you. You are probably saying, "Duh, I know that. I've been let down and hurt plenty of times... by so many people." I know, me too-- and it is hard. But the good news is that God is never changing, always faithful, always merciful, always loving, always there. He is the only firm foundation. Yes, at times He finds it good for us to go through trials-- Perhaps we have lessons to learn; or maybe we need chastising; or it may just be that we need to learn to rely on Him alone. But still, even through the rough times and the things we don't understand-- we can hold fast to God. 

We are tempted to think, oh, when I have a husband, he'll make me feel fulfilled and happy. He won't let me down. He'll always be kind to me. He will get me out of this mundane life I lead. He will always be there when I need him... and on and on. But that is just simply untrue. If you rely on a husband (or anyone else, for that matter) for those sorts of things, you'll only be left disillusioned and heartbroken. Jesus, on the other hand, is always faithful. He will never die, move away, betray you...  Who better to have for your rock, your foundation? And Who deserves your heart and trust more?? After all, He died. For you! For me! 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!

I pray that this will truly become our heart's cry:

My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory;The rock of my strength, And my refuge, is in God. Psalm 62:5-7

What Can We Do Right Now to Develop a Closer Walk with God?

Take time to earnestly seek the Lord. Ask Him what He wants you to do in the next ten minutes-- not just in the vague and seemingly far-off future-- but right now. Often we talk about “God’s will for my future” as if it’s something to just speculate about, something that doesn’t affect our immediate lives, something that we can’t know for sure... yet. But, in truth, there are things that we know are God’s will for us; right now. 

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men...” 1 Peter 2:15

Read His word; but don’t just skim and check it off your list. Read it slowly and look for ways to apply it. Study out what you’re reading.  

When you are tired and lonely-- go to Jesus. When you are so busy and stressed you can’t think-- go to Jesus. When you are confused and lost-- go to Jesus. Make Him your hiding place. 

Every activity you do can be an act of worship if you do it for Jesus-- for His glory, not your own. You can pray while you wash dishes, you can pray while you iron... you can demonstrate His creativity and love of beauty when you draw or sew or even organize... you can show His love to others by doing things you know will help them or by simply listening and praying for them... you can do your chores so excellently that He will be glorified... there are so many little ways to glorify, serve and worship God while going about your day to day life! It is the little things that really add up.

But... I Don’t Quite Get it. How Will This Affect my Marriage?

If it is in God’s plan for you to marry, think how blessed your husband will be to have a wife who is stable even in the midst of difficulties-- because this world is not her home, and her rock is the everlasting God! Think how blessed he will be to have a wife whose immediate response in every circumstance-- whether it be a sick child, a move, an argument or any other curve ball that comes your way-- is to cry out to Almighty God for help and guidance. How much less pressure he will be under to have you relying on God to fulfill your deepest longings instead of on him! Imagine what it will mean to him to have your goal be to help him to become the man God wants him to become and to further his ministry!

An Eternal Relationship

Another important thing to consider in developing a closer relationship with God is that this is not something to simply help you “get through” the single years: this is an eternity-long relationship. Even marriage, the most permanent relationship we have on earth, will not last as long. It is not some sort of ploy to snag a husband-- a strong, foundational relationship with God is absolutely vital. Without Him, we are nothing.

Coming Up...

Right now, seeing that this article is about to end, you might be panicking slightly. (Either that or you’re relieved that it’s finally ending... hehe.)  I thought she said she’d tell us “some ideas”! Not just one! Well, I have good news and I have bad news. The good news is that I will tell you several other ideas I have. The bad news is you will have to wait till I post the next part. Until then, remember to seek the Lord with your whole heart, do everything for His glory, make Him your rock and obey Him-- especially in the little things.  

P.S. Also check out this related post by my friend Rebeka. 

Want to learn more? Continue reading with Part Two!