Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Dancing with Jesus

The lights slowly dim as the orchestra begins to compose its soft, peaceful melodies. The young couple stands facing each other. The man extends his welcoming hand, the woman graciously takes hold of it. Step by step, he leads. She follows. He leads. She follows.

In life it is the same way. Each of our relationships with Christ can be compared to a dance. The man leads, and the woman in response, follows. We, as the Bride of Christ, must in the same way surrender our impulse to take charge. Each of us must learn to submit, surrender, and die to the urge to control.

An unmarried woman or virgin is
concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. 1 Corinthians 7:34b

For several weeks I have felt very distracted; so distracted that my aim and desires have been turned to other things instead of being solely placed on Christ alone. I have wanted to take charge of the situation.

I have to admit, that lately I have felt like I have been walking through a valley, partly because circumstances have not turned out the way I would have guessed. My mind is constantly wondering. My heart continuously asks questions. My soul yearning to know why I have to walk through this particular “valley of the shadow.” But I am realizing that it is during this time, more now than ever, that I have felt His rod and staff comforting me (Psalm 23). Even when I still see that there is only one set of footprints in the sand, I know that it is because He is still carrying me.

My dance with Jesus is taking place in a valley. He is teaching me what it means to truly trust Him--what it means to have hope.

Daughter of the True High King, He beckons you. Will you draw near? Will you take His hand and choose to let go of everything that is keeping you from true abandonment? Are you willing to sever every enslaving bond that is dragging you away from Him? Are you prepared to fight for intimate fellowship with your Maker? Are you ready to surrender every area of your life to His leading?

Close your eyes... and prepare yourself for a dance that will carry you across barren wastelands, through valleys, and over grueling mountaintops. This dance requires a trust that never lets goes, a faith that chooses to believe, and a heart that continually surrenders.

Dear Child, seize His hand. Follow the rhythm of His steps. Allow His voice to blur out all the other enticing distractions that constantly seem to scream out your name. Allow His face to cloud anything that may try to lure you. Fix your eyes on His.

A song that has blessed me immensely during this hard time has been Marc Schulz’s song, He Will Carry Me.

I call, You hear me
I've lost it all
And it's more then I can bear
I feel so empty

You're strong, I'm weary
I'm holding on
But I feel like giving in
But still You're with me

And even though I'm walking
Through the valley of the shadow
I will hold tight to the hand of Him
Who's love will comfort me

And when my hope is gone
And I've been wounded in the battle
He is all the strength that I will ever need
He will carry me

I know I'm broken
But You alone
Can mend this heart of mine
Your always with me

And even though I feel so lonely
Like I have never been before
You never said it would be easy
But You said You'd see me through the storm


Girls, dance with Jesus. Give into utter abandonment. A place of complete surrender. A journey with Christ by your side. And know that He will get you through.

What about you? Where are you dancing with Jesus right now? Is the Lord leading you through a barren wasteland, a valley, or up a mountainside? Are you choosing to allow your circumstances to make you more like Christ? What life lessons is Jesus teaching you at present?

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Monday, September 25, 2006

Book Reviews by Hannah


It's almost autumn! Time to curl up with a book!

Very few pleasures can compare to a frosty autumn evening and hot chocolate combined with a good book. The frosty evenings and hot chocolate are not hard to find (yes, it does get cold here in autumn --especially when we turn the air conditioning on) but excellent books can be difficult to come by. Thankfully, I have found a few in the past year that have stood out from the rest of the library. This post contains a few of my recommendations of books pertaining to the topics discussed on Beauty from the Heart.


(Note: People are different, and so are their opinions. Book recommendations must be taken with a grain of salt. As a result, I’m not just going to present a list of books to read. I’m also going to explain why I liked them. You can be the judge of whether they should be added to your reading list.)

  • The Three Weavers
    By Robert and Shelley Noonan

    What’s this book about? “Once upon a time…there lived three weavers.” (page 19) Three weavers are given the responsibility to manage each of their respective daughter’s gifts. Each daughter was given a special loom at birth, upon which they are to weave a mantle for their future prince. As each daughter grows up, they make different decisions regarding whether to keep their mantle for their future prince, or give it away to the other young men that enter their lives. The parable is a beautiful, poignant allegory of purity.

    Who should read this book? The Three Weavers was designed specifically for fathers to introduce the topic of purity to their daughters.

    Why did I like this book? The story shows purity to be a precious treasure which the father must guide his daughter in protecting. I especially liked that the book gave fathers the opening to share their hearts regarding purity.

    Any cautions? The book is written with very good taste, but due to the nature of the subject matter, I recommend that parents read the book first to decide whether to read it with their younger daughters.

  • When God Writes Your Love Story
    By Eric and Leslie Ludy

    What’s this book about? Surrendering everything to God includes giving Him the pen of your love story. This book is summed up in a quote of Oswald Chambers at the end of the book: “God has ventured all in Jesus Christ to save us; now He wants us to venture our all in abandoned confidence in Him.” (page. 242)

    Who should read this book? Christian teens and unmarried adults.

    Why did I like this book? Not only was this book enjoyable because of each of the authors’ sense of humor, but because of its honesty. The Ludys openly share from their personal journeys about how they came to terms with the fact that God wanted every piece of their lives devoted to Him. It was inspirational to hear their real-life stories.

    Any cautions? As with most books on guy/girl relationships, parental guidance is best.

  • I Kissed Dating Goodbye
    By Joshua Harris

    What’s this book about? In a nutshell, I Kissed Dating Goodbye is written about living your single years for Christ. It also offered perspective on the Biblical view of marriage, and how to let that view impact the way you think about guy/girl relationships.

    Who should read this book? If you’re already writing your wedding vows, this may not be the best book for you, since it’s about Christian singleness. But if you’re sitting on the fence, unsure what to do as a single Christian, it may be just the right book for you.

    Why did I like this book? It challenged me to focus on Christ, obey Him by pursuing purity, and trust Him with my future.

    Any cautions? I echo the caution listed under When God Writes Your Love Story: As with most books on guy/girl relationships, parental guidance is best. (i.e. I don’t recommend you read this book aloud to your baby sister, but in relation to the subject matter and the target audience, it was very tastefully written.)

  • Authentic Beauty
    By Leslie Ludy

    What’s this book about? Leslie Ludy addresses true beauty, femininity, and spiritual apathy in Authentic Beauty. She draws from her own personal experiences, contrasting the culture’s demands for womanhood with God’s design for it. Throughout her book, Christ’s relationship with the Church (us) is compared with a “Prince” and a “damsel-in-distress” (us.) She writes, “Our Prince is eager to begin a heavenly love story with us. He desires to spring from the pages of Scripture and dance with us in our real day-today life. He gave His very life on a cross this opportunity to share life intimately at our side. The defining question of our femininity is this: Will we be willing to give our very life to Him in return?” (page 61)

    Who should read this book? Mature teen girls/young women.

    Why did I like this book? The heart of Authentic Beauty is to express that we should be wholeheartedly committed to Christ as our Heavenly Bridegroom. Instead of living in spiritual complacency, every fiber of our being should be chasing after Him. This message is the foundation for godly femininity. (It’s impossible to become a woman of God without God. It doesn’t work.)

    Any cautions? Some parts of this book are rather descriptive. Parental guidance is definitely a must.
    Another caution worth mentioning is the author's use of the word, “Prince” throughout the book. Although the metaphor of Christ being like our “Prince” coming to rescue us is very poignant and has a Biblical basis (see the book of Hosea and the Song of Solomon), readers should be cautioned not to take the metaphor so far as to discard the deity of Christ. The author herself mentions this in the “Author’s Note:” “For the sake of simplicity, when this book refers to our Prince or heavenly Lover, those references are meant to encompass all aspects of God—the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit….Additionally, whenever this book uses paraphrased Scriptures to make their message easier to grasp, the actual translations of those Scriptures are provided in the endnotes.” (page 9)

  • Boy Meets Girl
    By Joshua Harris

    What’s this book about? It’s the follow up book to I Kissed Dating Goodbye. The book is not a manual about how to live in regards to the opposite gender, but is a Biblical discussion about purity and courtship. (The title gives a good clue to the subject: It talks about preparing for marriage after Boy has met Girl.)

    Who should read this book? Anyone whose single days are numbered (and any parents who wish to form ideas before their daughter’s court ship docks in the harbor.)

    Why did I like this book? It has helped my parents and me in our conversations about purity.

  • Girl Talk
    By Nicole Whitacre and Carolyn Mahaney

    What’s this book about? Girl Talk is about various aspects of Biblical womanhood, and how mothers can pass Biblical womanhood on to their daughters. Certain chapters are written specifically for moms, while other chapters are directed at daughters.

    Who should read this book? Mothers and daughters should read this book together, as it opens up great opportunities for heart-to-heart chats (aka “girl talks!”). Any females that enjoy the Girl Talk blog will undoubtedly benefit from this book.

    Why did I like this book? Girl Talk is thought provoking without being dry or irrelevant. It is obvious that the authors have experienced the struggles of real life, but approach these struggles with Biblical insight. I loved this book.

  • Daughters of Destiny
    By Noelle Goforth

    What’s this book about? Daughters of Destiny is a compilation of stories regarding godly women of the past. Although heroines such as Mary Slessor, Lady Jane Grey, and Martha Washington are mentioned, many of the stories consist of “forgotten heroines.” It is likely that these stories will be new to most readers.

    Who should read this book? Anyone who wants to see examples of virtuous womanhood in action.

    Why did I like this book? When this book was given to me several years ago, I devoured it. The women in this book came alive to me, and presented me with a vision of true strength, humility, courage and sacrifice.

I hope these reviews are helpful! If you have any input, feel free to leave it here!

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Saturday, September 23, 2006

Here and There...

In our recent meet-up post, Kristin, Lindsey, Stephanie and I promised an update, which we have since forgotten to give. We're sorry.

Here it is now: The non-Texan contributors have returned home. The weekend spent together was very memorable! We had late-night talks, theological discussions and a lot of laughs. We were so blessed to finally meet.

In the very near future, we hope to continue posting specifically on femininity in light of God's Word. Meanwhile, I highly recommend taking a look at Agent Tim Online's new series on Biblical manhood and womanhood. (Part 1 & Part 2)

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar

Greek myths are legendary. Literally. Many of the characters in Greek myths are unrealistic, and most probably never existed. Yet surviving throughout history, their tales are repeated even today in the form of books and movies.

Grecian families must have circled around the fire and listened late into the night as storytellers shared the memorable feats of heroes, and the demise of villainous monsters. Among the most mysterious and terrifying of these stories were the tales of a certain bloodthirsty Northern tribe. Many a noble Grecian soldier fell under the blade of their swords, and the tribe was renowned for their show-no-mercy tactics. Yet the most mystifying twist in the story was that this tribe was composed entirely of women.

The women were dubbed "Amazons" by the Greeks. According to Greek folklore, the only men who were allowed to survive within the Amazon culture were enslaved. Sons born to Amazonian women were promptly aborted. Girls on the other hand, were taught from childhood to be tough warriors. It was an utterly female dominated society.

For years, historians counted the Amazons among the ranks of Greek fairytales, doubting the existence of the tribe. Little evidence remained of the Amazonian culture. Historians reasoned, If Amazons had existed, how could they disappear without a trace?

In 2003, Dr. Jeannine Davis-Kimball excavated a Romanian tomb belonging to an ancient woman warrior. Due to the artifacts found in this discovery, strong evidence now testifies to the existence of a wholly female warring tribe.

Although the direct cause of the Amazons' extinction is unclear, it is certain that a culture without God cannot prosper. By disregarding God's pattern for manhood and womanhood and rejecting men entirely, the Amazon tribe opened itself to defeat. The warrior women became mere myths.

New generations of Amazons exist today. Instead of wielding swords and battle axes, the weapons currently employed are even more destructive. Political campaigns, revised school curriculum, music, books and films are included in the arsenal of the modern warrior woman.

Instead of seeing freedom within the God-given design of manhood and womanhood, Amazonian philosophy (also known as "feminism") claims that freedom will be found when genders are abolished. Feminist Andrew Dworkin proclaimed in a speech, "Only when manhood is dead--and it will perish when ravaged femininity no longer sustains it--only then will we know what it is to be free." (Andrea Dworkin. "The Root Cause," speech, 26 Sept. 1975. Published in Our Blood, 1976) John Piper and Wayne Grudem wrote of this philosophy in their book, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood:
"...Two women may jump from an airplane and experience the thrilling freedom of free-falling. But there is a difference: one is encumbered by a parachute on her back and the other is free from this burden. Which person is most free? The one without the parachute feels free--even freer, since she does not feel the constraints of the parachute straps. But she is not truly free. She is in bondage to the force of gravity and to the deception that all is well because she feels unencumbered. This false sense of freedom is in fact bondage to calamity which is sure to happen after a fleeting moment of pleasure. That is the way many women (and men) today think of freedom. They judge it on the basis of immediate sensations of unrestrained license or independence.... But the mature and wise woman does not seek this freedom by bending reality to fit her desires. She seeks it by being transformed in the renewal of her desires to fit in with God's perfect will (Romans 12:2). The greatest freedom is found in being so changed by God's Spirit that you can do what you love to do and know that it conforms to the design of God and leads to life and glory."
(Grudem, Wayne and John Piper. Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, pages 38-39. Crossway Books.)

Just as a person flourishes when the will is conformed to God, the culture will only flourish when it is inside God's will. We are already witnesses to the squashing of womanhood and unbiblical Amazonian infiltration today. As Harvard professor Ruth Wisse observed, "By defining between men and women in terms of power and competition instead of reciprocity and cooperation, the [women's liberation] movement tore apart the most basic and fragile contract in human society, the unit from which all other social institutions draw their strength."

The modern family is fragmented and dysfunctional. The modern mother is nonexistent. The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world, but what of the cradles that remain neglected? Motherhood has been the scorn of the modern Amazon woman. The result of campaigning against motherhood has been monstrously destructive, costing countless members of the present generation the advantage of mothers who took seriously the precious responsibility of raising Christ-seeking children.

Women who love Biblical womanhood should be on the "endangered species" list. Few women dare to step away from the crowd and search for God's face instead. Our culture cannot afford any additional Amazon women. Christian women, young and old, married and single, cannot idly allow themselves to be enveloped in the genderless masses.

Read Part 2 here!

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Friday, September 15, 2006

The Appointment


September 14th, 2006. 11:59 PM

I was sitting at my (computer) desk. It was my birthday. Little did I know, it would contain the most shocking event of my life (thus far.) It was a dark and stormy night...minus the stormy (It's Texas. It never rains here.)

Rumors had been circulating that a mysterious stranger from Michigan had arrived. She stepped in the doorway, her dark fedora covering her eyes. (Okay, minus the fedora.) In a strong Midwestern accent, she tried to say, "Howdy." I recognized her at once. In spite of her disguise, I knew we had met once before.

As we discussed plans of a blog-that-will-remain-anonymous, her eyes continued to shift to and fro. She peered through the window every few minutes or so, as though she was afraid of something...or someone.

Rap, rap, rap. The mysterious Michigander jumped at the unexpected sound. The door slowly creaked open, and my boss (Actually, it was my dad) beckoned me downstairs. "Help your mom with the groceries," he said, with a suspicious glimmer in his eyes.

Cautiously, I stepped down the stairs. What were they planning? Was it a trap? It was then that I saw...the someone. It was her. She shrieked and I gasped, overwhelmed by the drama of the moment. It was the girl--from California! She announced that her name was "Agent 90210," (also known as "Lindsey.")

The next day, after a sleepless night, we agree to a rendezvous in a dark alley (Actually, a store). As I applied my fake moustache, the Michigander straightened her fedora and Agent 90210 played with her magnifying glass, we collided into an infamous gumshoe. "Stephanie!" we shouted at once.

__________________________________

We must admit, our meetup was not exactly like that--but it was pretty close. Lindsey's arrival was kept a secret from me (Hannah) until midnight when she walked in the door.


L to R: Hannah, Stephanie, Kristin & Lindsey


We're having a blast. We'll keep you updated.

Sincerely,
Gumshoe, The Michigander, Agent 90210 and Yours Truly

In the News Today

In the recent ROC issue.....

Andrew Hill of Leeds University stated at a recent obesity conference, "Children are sensitive at an increasingly early age to their physical appearance.” He revealed that “The impact of being overweight on girls' self-confidence has been detected in children as young as five years.” Likewise, Kylie Ball of Deakin University announced, “There is a need to address the adverse psychological consequences of high weight gain and help people to be more accepting of their weight and themselves, while assisting them to achieve their goal weight." (from an AFP article)

Perhaps secular analysts have developed a false solution. Judging only by the external, they are equipped only to sigh in dismay, treat an appearance-conscious five year old with a dose of self esteem and a trip to a psychotherapist, but not address the heart of the issue.

To finish reading my article, click here.

In other news....
Witnesses have reported sightings of several Beauty from the Heart contributors in various U.S. airports. We will keep you updated on further developments.

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Journaling

Elizabeth at Study Quiet has been posting on a favorite of mine - journaling. For those of you who know me well, I love to journal. I can never get my hands on enough of them (I currently own 10).

I don't know about you, but I love to snuggle up on a cozy day, with a saucer of tea and write endlessly. Sometimes I digest the days events, write a not-so-mini-novel or start a blog post. My journals are the spaces I use to think. It's where I process everything. I am a visual learner - I have to see it to experience or understand something. For me, writing in a journal is essential for me to analyze and properly think through things in my mind.

Elizabeth also covered another important aspect in journaling. It's one thing to have a doodle journal for personal thoughts and musings. But there's another aspect of journaling I also enjoy - recording my walk with God. Elizabeth says,

Our minds are constantly being renewed into the image of Christ. We change over time. Priorities shift. A journal can capture this spiritual journey and show us where we still need to grow to become more like Jesus.

I have several spiritual journals including a prayer journal, a scripture verse journal and one that records what God has been teaching me lately (yes, you could call me a journal junkie). As I look over my spiritual journals over the years, I am constantly amazed at how much I've grown and how many prayers have been answered. I recently found a quote by Erica Jong that says,

"When I sit down at my writing desk, time seems to vanish. I think it's a wonderful way to spend one's life."

For me, the time seems to dissipate and when I write about what my Savior has done and my admiration and enthusiasim for serving Him grows as each word is penned into my journal.

Have you benefitted from journaling? Why or why not?

Related posts -Mrs. Early at Semicolon has a post on writing that I enjoyed. She talks about the different types of writing for journals.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Quotable

"There's nothing wrong with a woman occasionally highlighting her features with makeup. But it’s doubtful that God wants us to spend half the morning covering up the faces he intentionally blessed us with. There is a certain honesty and vulnerability in a clean, unembellished face. It shows humility, and draws attention away from the merely external to the soul shining through the eyes. There's also nothing inherently bad about a man working out to strengthen his muscles. But spending hours in the gym striving for perfectly defined tone is not a good use of one’s time or body. There is much more to be admired in the modest arms of a man who increases his strength by carrying his children, tilling the ground, or maintaining his house. The Apostle Paul calls the body the temple of the Holy Spirit. We should worship with the temple; we must not worship the temple itself. The body is a glorious creation, but its purpose is to glorify the Creator.”
-Boundless, "The Eye of the Beholder," by Bethany Patchin Torode

Monday, September 04, 2006

"Chivalry is Dead"...a Commentary

"Last weekend, my roommate’s girlfriend came to visit and I spent most of Sunday third-wheeling it with them.... As I wondered who was going to drive, my roommate opened the passenger door for his girlfriend to sit down, before walking back around the car. I was astounded. I had witnessed modern day chivalry, and then I vomited a little in my mouth.

My aversion toward chivalry can be justified by looking at its effect on relationships. Thinking of chivalry, a person usually recalls a time when men saved damsels in distress and women were typically uneducated. In this time long ago, a chivalrous code was developed in order to protect the helpless ladies.

In modern society, women are just as smart and independent as men, so why should men seek to treat them otherwise? A relationship should be founded on the mutual benefits two people receive from each other’s company, and should consider each individuals’ personality. Chivalry tries to define how relationships should work by assigning roles based on sex, excluding character contrasts.

I proposed this idea to some female friends. The responses were generally the same: 'I want to be independent but it’s nice to have a guy show he cares by doing things for me every so often.' Seems hard to argue, but my point is this: a guy should do something chivalrous because he is inclined to do so, not because it is an expected duty.

No matter how terrible that song is, Nelly Furtado is right: 'chivalry is dead,' at least in the sense that it is no longer necessary, and possibly harmful to relationships. A person should not be expected to act a certain way in their own relationship, and a female should judge a man on his personality, not his manners."

-Flyer News, Volume 54, Number 2

Quite a bit has been discussed in the blogosphere concerning chivalry as of late. Excellent points have been made on David Boskovic’s Oneway Purpose, and in Brett Harris’s series on The Rebelution regarding gentlemanly behavior. There is no need for me to repeat the points made there, but I would like to add a point of my own to the mix.

Chivalry is not a mere tradition that should be abandoned. If it is indeed dead or dying, women should do everything in their power for it to be resuscitated; for if chivalry is lost, then femininity is in great danger of being forgotten.

A pastor once explained in his sermon the differences between men and women, and what it meant to be a "weaker vessel." (1 Peter 3:7, NKJV) He showed to the congregation two pitchers. One was a plastic water pitcher. He explained: "Men are like this pitcher. It is strong, heavy-duty and designed for a unique purpose."

Then, the pastor revealed a delicate, porcelain teapot to the congregation. "Women," he said as he gently upheld the fragile pitcher, "are like this teapot. It is the weaker vessel. If I dropped it, it would shatter. If I dropped the plastic pitcher, it would not shatter. But the value of the teapot is not diminished by its delicateness. We treasure and protect teapots."

Chivalry is servanthood, based upon the principle that men and women are different. Usually chivalry does not require earth-shaking actions, but small actions such as offering a girl a chair, indicate a respect for femininity.

Any thoughts?

Friday, September 01, 2006

IRL: Mary

Many of you are probably familiar with the short, yet inspiring, teaching moments in the Bible when Jesus visits two sisters - Mary and Martha. So far we have covered Martha's point of view, and today we'll see what things look like from Mary's perspective. If you're not familiar with the story, I'd encourage you to read it!
____________

"Mary, Mary, the Teacher is coming! Make haste! There are many tasks to be finished before He knocks on the door!" My sister Martha exclaimed urgently, as she ran towards me. I felt my heart skip a beat, and inexpressible joy flooded over me. My Master, Teacher, and Lord was coming to visit us! I clasped my hands in rapturous delight, and with a smile on my face, I set about helping Martha prepare for Jesus' arrival.

Not long afterwards, I heard Lazarus greeting Jesus at the door. I jumped up in excitement, accidentally dropping the bowl I was carrying. I looked in dismay at the now useless pieces of pottery, and, making a quick decision to clean up the mess a little later, I ran out to meet Him. But before I exited the doorway, I caught a glimpse of Martha's furrowed brow as she knelt to pick up the broken shards.

When I entered the house again, I went into the kitchen to quickly help Martha finish picking up the broken pieces. She was wordless as we completed the task, her lips tightly pressed together. I eagerly started to tell her all about what Jesus had said... but if Martha heard me, she gave no indication. Confused, I thanked her for helping me clean up the mess, and left the kitchen.

I followed Jesus to where He rested, and I sat at His feet. His love captivated me as He spoke, and his words reached down into the depths of my soul. And as I realized, with fresh certainty, that this was the most important thing I could be doing... the little worries and troubles of the day faded away. I sat in His presence, transfixed. Nothing else mattered. I felt as though I could stay there forever, just listening to His words and gazing into His eyes.


Application

From the very moment that you wake up in the morning, there a hundred tasks waiting for you and demanding your full attention. Homework, daily chores, urgent emails, phone calls, deadlines that must be met... and the list goes on. We live in a busy culture, and we lead very busy lives. It's easy to feel like Martha, isn't it?

But Mary recognized what was most important; spending time with her Savior made everything else pale in comparison. Her priorities were right. Working hard is good; the Bible tells us that in whatever we do, we ought to "work heartily, as unto the Lord." (Col 3:23) However, even working and serving becomes an idol when it takes the place of God. Sometimes we just need to stop, slow down a little... and sit at Jesus' feet.

By Lindsey and Kristin

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