a psalm of deliverance

bc4aeffb2b38f0874c00a0a584f1e1ac

Refine my heart, in the hard and holy places, Oh Lord,

Lead me to the gates of peace.

You give me strength and consolation in affliction,

And never turn Your face from my pleas.

Though the earth trembles under my feet,

And thunder rolls in the mountains,

And the rising crests of waves yonder, as if looking,

Over a vast, greying graveyard,

Though my enemies crouch in my doorway,

And surround me in my weakest places,

You are with me.

Though my knees tremble under the weight of my transgressions,

And I struggle against the bonds that hold me low,

My soul rests in You alone.

I watch towering trees buckle under winter’s hand,

Formidable strength made weak by piles of white,

And they lay their arms along the broken soil,

Still my soul sings, and my heart rejoices,

For He carries me across thresholds of silver,

His almighty hand orders the stars to their heavenly places,

And the fire to cease destroying,

The hands of men to hold back their evil schemes.

Yea, though I bend under the melting snow,

He holds me up, and I take roots where hearts may fail.

Let us draw near to Him,

For every breath is a hallelujah.

(This was a poem that we wrote for our Aesthetics class, which we were instructed to make similar to a Psalm.)

~*~

I have to say, this past year has been rocky and burdensome at best – this poem being an offspring of those struggles. And now that it’s December, I can look back at the previous months and see more and more clearly God’s hand through it all.

So if you’ve been struggling too, I just want to give you encouragement that even though you can’t see how things can get better, they do. And then things will get worse again. And then it’ll get better. Because that’s just how life is – unpredictable.

But you know what? The Lord is with us through it all, and He sees us through.

So goodbye 2016 – God is in control.

Save

young women, it’s time to grow up.

9a8769714905ef30ff23a44fa657059f

After writing my Wickam’s & Willoughby’s post, I thought I should maintain some balance by writing a post dedicated to how young women should improve.

These are some things I’ve learned over the years – and am still continuing to learn. Now of course, this isn’t supposed to be an exhaustive or legalistic list to make us feel guilty or beat ourselves up over. Rather, I pray that this serves as an encouragement to cultivate excellence and holiness in our day-to-day lives, and to strive to please God in everything we do. (This is in no particular order, by the way.)(Orange titles are linked.)

1) Preserving Feminine Mystique

(No, this has nothing to do with Betty Friedan.)

It seems nowadays that young girls everywhere throw everything to the wind. They dress less to impress, or sometimes emotionally throw themselves at guys whom they are attracted to.

Now you’re probably wondering … what on earth is “feminine mystique”? I’m referring to 1 Peter, the “ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price” (1 Peter 3:4 KJV). There are so many girls who are loud, attention-seeking, boisterous, or too public about personal affairs. (You know, the girls who plaster their Facebook wall with every emotional up-and-down, or drama.) There are some things a young woman should just keep quiet about, especially around young men, or when they’re out and about. Also she shouldn’t emotionally “dump” her private concerns and problems on her crush, her boyfriend, or even her male “just friends”.

This shouldn’t be something we do in order to make us more attractive to a godly young man. Instead, it should be something we do out of honoring God, and, really, it’s one of the best ways to display the beauty and mystery of the gospel.

Also, I’ve also learned (from experience) that preserving your feminine mystique does not mean hiding in a corner and going out of your way to avoid guys. It just means treating those around you with respect, and showing some respect for yourself with a modest attitude.

2) Never Forget Your “First Love” (Jesus!)

Young women, we tend to try to build our fulfillment on someone else. We want to be loved. To be cherished. To be wanted and desired so deeply by someone. We dream about the day we turn around, and there he is, standing there with that brilliant smile, looking at us the way every girl wants to be looked at. And, you know, there’s no shame in this. But I know it can be OH-so-easy to forget that our purpose isn’t found in this kind of relationship. It’s found in Jesus alone. Men will fail us. There will be times that they’re insensitive. Or they’ll ignore us. Won’t meet our needs. Push us away. Get annoyed with us. There is only One Person in the entire universe who loves and desires us more deeply than we could ever fathom.

3) Spend Your Time Serving (Not Searching)

This goes hand-in-hand with #2 above. Rather than squandering so many precious hours pining for love and matrimony, why not spend our time well, furthering and serving the kingdom of God ? And instead of doing things and going places for the purpose of nonchalantly bumping into — ahem — Mr. Right, we should be focusing our lives in a way that impacts those around us and displays the glory of God’s love. So often I see modern Christians who focus on such frivolous pursuits, or trivial conversations while there are so many more terrible things happening in the world. Just watch the news. There are sad and broken people in our churches, starving children in other countries needing to see God’s love manifested to them in a piece of bread, there are the youth of today struggling under society’s pressures, broken families, bullying, or being strong in their faith. Or look at the countries around us: ten yr old girls are prostituting themselves to make money to survive, and there are Christians in prisons being kept alive for no other purpose than to ceaselessly extract every ounce of pain from them day after day, for years, with little to no hope of ever escaping. And yet often we can only think of, “Poor me”? “If only someone loved me”? Plug yourself in to organizations like Voice of the Martyrs. Create awareness among your friends. Go on mission trips with your church. Start or join a prayer group, or even just pray. Connect with Youth for Christ. Change the world. Serve your fellow man.

4) Stay Away From Gossip/Drama

Don’t be that person who is always stirring the pot, talking about others behind their back, or starting rumors. It’s ugly, and it hurts others.

5) Rest With Full Assurance

6) A Kind Word Turns Away Wrath

I know that, in my experience, irritability is contagious. If someone else is in a sour mood, or snaps at me, I find it tempting to make a snarky comment back, or to become irritable myself. Swallow it back, and treat others with grace.

7) Let Go of Pride

8) Smart Dudes Aren’t Looking At Your Body

9) Modesty is a Heart Issue

There are countless books, and articles, and “check-lists” on this topic, so I feel like I don’t need to add a lot to the discussion. But one thing we should remember: modesty isn’t just a list of rules to follow in order to become holy — rather, it is a condition of the heart. What are my intentions? Am I wearing this to purposefully cause my brothers in Christ to stumble? Or to draw unnecessary attention to myself?

10) How to Take a Compliment

This is something I definitely need to work on …

81b0d9ec11f9fea530faf2cac92ea313

11) Femininity is Beautiful

You don’t have to “man up” to be a better woman.

12) Seek Not Fame Or Notoriety

13) Don’t “Objectify” Men

Now, I’m sure this sounds a lot more strange than I mean it to. What I mean is: don’t use men to fulfill your emotional desires (as men sometimes use women to fulfill their physical desires), because that’s not fair. Men are human beings, too.

14) Let. Him. Help. You.

15) Be On Guard

16) Do what is right, not what is easy.

17) Educate Yourself

Acting stupid is not cute. It’s stupid.

18) You Don’t Have To Be a Size 0 to be Beautiful

19) Happiest Girls Are the Prettiest

“If a person has ugly thoughts, it begins to show on the face. And when that person has ugly thoughts every day, every week, every year, the face gets uglier and uglier… A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.”~ Roald Dahl, “The Twits”.

20) Don’t let your mood dictate your manners.

21) Be the Exception

0388d2105d8af5c1e5fd1dff2e356bdb

Don’t reduce yourself to be like typical teenage girls. Pursue excellence in conduct and manners. A young woman who is classy is timeless. There is something that is set apart about a young woman who carries herself and dresses herself with elegance and poise. “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ…”  (Phil 1:27) We need to remember that as young women – as Christians – we are ambassadors, we carry the image of God. We are literally walking, living, breathing representatives of God’s love, goodness, and beauty. Don’t lose your dignity, love.

22) Chivalry Being a Lady Is Not Dead.

How often do we young women complain about the lack of good men in society? Although this is definitely true, rather than merely talking about how men should rise up and be men, we should check ourselves to see if we are stepping back and letting them be men. Are we ourselves acting like ladies, and encouraging the men around us to act like gentleman? To an extent, a man’s behavior goes only as far as women’s expectations of him.

23) Dress & Act How You Want To Be Addressed

2a53ce8ce64c5ccd42540aa9afee5c4a

choose to live.

b325001b0b851e71d8fc2b4a4cccbdbb

We always talk about how we’ll “wait” for our future husbands. We write articles, blog posts, even entire books on this subject. We make promises, commitments, vows.

But you know what? I’m not waiting.

Yes, I am saving myself physically for my future husband, and am committed to staying pure, but I am not waiting for my life to start until I find Mr. Right. My life is now.

I choose to live. To do. To work. To serve. To pray. To study. To impact people. To go on adventures. Make phone calls. Drink coffee. Play with kids. To live where the quiet things are. Read lots of good books. Try new things. Pursue beauty. Be messy. Do hard things. Stand up for the weak. Write out my heart. Find freedom and grace in Christ. To walk with Him, footprints in the sand, caressing these precious moments I will never have back. Heart beats strong, lungs breathe deep, and I plunge into the waters of life. I will laugh. Cry. Fail. Succeed. Right here. Right now. I choose to embrace my life as it is, fulfill my calling, to live all out for the glory of God, because life is either a great adventure, or nothing.

This is my purpose. This is what I was meant for. This is the meaning of life.

 

a07ba5a3f41e4553c4ae3cb32a65c5bd

living in a world with wickams & willoughbys: watch the signs

b6f005c4f641905ceee830fa26e4e6ce

Men can be deceiving. They can say all the right lines, and a girl is swept off her feet. He is good at his games, and knows how to act and how to treat you in order to gain your affections.

Now, NOT all men are like this. But, unfortunately, we live in an age where this seems to be happening more and more frequently. Boy meets Girl. Boy likes Girl. Girl is flattered. Boy pursues, wins, and uses Girl (physically or emotionally). Then leaves.

Now, I’m no psychologist, but the occasions I’ve witnessed, I could see what was happening. But that’s because my dad has taught me what signs to watch out for, and has warned me time and time again of the dangers lurking, even in our Christian circles. There are so many young men out there who are just … SO convincing, and seem very trustworthy and noble, and equally too many young women ready to trust and fall in love at the drop of a hat with any guy who shows her attention.

Another thing: I think God has gifted us women with intuition. If we tap into that, we can usually make good judgements about people. For example, if there’s someone that you just have a BAD feeling about, even though you have little “proof” for it, chances are … you might be right.

Here are the signs to watch out for.

#1  The “Christian” Guy

There are a multitude of young men who will play church long enough to win the girl — and have no real foundation or authentic devotion for the Word of God. He may be able to quote John 3:16, but is made of rocky and thorny ground and will only “believe” while it is convenient. He’s probably even a nice guy. To him, Jesus is just the Nice Guy Upstairs who is not judgmental of anyone, and is even worth wearing a cool “Jesus Freak” shirt for.

Also, just because he can play with kids does not mean he will make a good dad. And just because he wears a purity ring does not guarantee he will be a good, faithful husband. Character goes beyond good deeds. A guy who simply professes Christ is not the same as one who lives out Christ.

#2  Mr. Wandering-Eye

Sometimes you can just tell what kind of man a guy is just by watching him. Now don’t stalk him, or stare at him, but just kind of … *notice* how Mr. Guy treats women in general. And, yes, men — even good, solid, Christian men — struggle with lust. However, I’m talking about those guys who “discreetly” look women up-and-down, and very frequently, and pretty much gawk at any woman that passes by. The ones who don’t look at your face when you’re talking to them. (You know the kind of guys I’m talking about.)

They’re pretty easy to spot. Stay away from them. No — stay clear away from them, like, as far as the east is from the west. They’re bad apples.

#3  Sir Flirt

Now I must be careful how I word this, so I don’t step on anyone’s toes. There are a lot of young men  I see who display a lot of unnecessary or inappropriate physical contact with young women. Not just the occasional side-hug, but constant, every-day touching, playing with hair, flirtatious contact, or full-on-pushing-the-limits-frontal hugs. To me, I can’t help but interpret this as the young man (possibly) having less-than-honorable intentions. This may not always be the case, but there are some impostors out to push the boundaries as far as they can get away with. Titus 2 says that young men should treat young women “with all purity, as sisters”.

(That isn’t to say that hugs with the opposite gender are inherently wrong, but they can be abused, and I am just recommending caution. I know a lot of wonderful, affectionate people who clearly have no intentions of harm, and that’s fine. In fact, I often receive hugs from people I know have no ill motives, and they are sincere and gentlemanly, but it just takes discernment and discretion as situation calls for.)

And consider these questions: Is his “secret life” no secret? Does his life really demonstrate the kind of Christ-like behavior that can only be gained from a strong relationship with the Lord? Does he come across as a guy who is desperate to find a girl? Does he notice and take care of the least? Or is he always gravitating to where all the cute girls are? Does he give of himself to others, for the glory of God, and not for reputation or admiration?

Remember — no man is perfect! We are all in desperate need of the grace of God (Rom. 3:23). This shouldn’t be a way that we hold men to impossible or idealistic expectations. But his fruit should show out of not only an outward display of his faith, but also a private one.

Young women, be not deceived.

(** Just to clarify, I have never had a romantic encounter (?) with an impostor. But I have personally seen this happen to people I know, and have heard countless stories of young women having to go through this. It makes me so sad to see and hear about these things happening, and so I was inspired to write a post about it.)

(Sequel-Post Coming!)