Friday, February 23, 2007

Taking Off Your Colored Goggles

The sky was a dusky, queer shade of blue. I looked around me. So was the grass, the trees, and my swimming instructor’s face. In fact, everything around me was tainted with the blue color. And yet, strangely enough, I didn’t even notice this incredible phenomenon; from my perspective, everything appeared to be perfectly normal. Then, suddenly, everything changed. I squinted my eyes, and a grin split my face. Dazzling colors were all around me! The sun was a glowing orange, the grass was breathtakingly green, and the sky was a light, pure blue—scattered with fluffy white clouds. I looked down at the goggles I clutched in my fist, and smiled. How could I forget, so quickly, what the world looked like without my goggles on?

Although you may shake your head and smile, my story is not so unique. Every day, each one of us is presented with the opportunity to don a pair of tainted “goggles” through which you will view the world. The goggles are comfortable, and it feels natural when you slip them on. Most of the time, we don’t even realize that we’re wearing them. And yet, they will drastically affect the way that you perceive everything around you, including yourself.

If you’re beautiful—if your skin is flawless and your figure perfect—you have worth. If you’re successful and popular, you have value. If you do not…your life has no meaning.

Such is the world’s message to us. Is it any wonder that most girls struggle with feelings of inferiority? Statistics show that teen suicide rates have literally tripled since 1970. And in the United States alone, conservative estimates suggest that five to ten million girls and women are currently struggling with some kind of eating disorder. As Christians, we are not exempt from these attacks of the enemy. Although many of us may never go to these extremes, if we are honest, we’ll admit that we are susceptible to the exact same kind of thinking that leads to these problems. In a sense, we’re looking through the distorted lenses of colored goggles.

Why? Why is this such an issue in our culture? The answer is strikingly simple. We have bought into the lie of the world—that our worth comes from ourselves. And so, even in Christian circles, we tend to try to combat these problems with bigger boosts of self-esteem. However, this is not the solution. Isaiah 64:6 reads, "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away." Apart from God, we have absolutely no merit. None.

And yet, the situation is not hopeless! While we were in our sinful, helpless state, God's love for us was so great that He sent His precious son, Jesus, to die a brutal death in our place. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we sere still sinners, Christ died for us.”

We must look at ourselves the way that God does. What does He see when He looks at you? Romans 8:39 triumphantly proclaims: "Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord"! God values you so much that He sent his Son to die in your stead-- and He promises that nothing will ever be able to separate you from His love. Such is God's heart towards you! The estimation of our worth must come from God alone. It is only His perception of us that matters, and no other.

Let us take of the colored goggles of our ungodly culture, and strive to see ourselves the way God does.

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Here, there and everywhere!

We've been a bit distracted here at Beauty from the Heart the last couple of days. Between Stephanie leaving, contributors absence, and compiling the Thank You Comments for the Modesty Survey, it has been downright busy here! However, we did come across an exceptional post over at Agent Tim Online that discusses biblical womanhood.

What I really want to take a look at is what the excellent wife looks like, specifically looking at Proverbs 31.

What is an excellent wife? Well, Dr. MacArthur describes the woman in light of the meaning of the Hebrew for “excellent” which means “force” or “strength.” A proper interpretation of the text would lead one to understand that this is a woman who is “strong spiritually, morally, mentally, and physically. This woman makes a difference in society.”

I appreciate Tim's willingness and courage to discuss such a topic. I'd encourage you to read the rest and let us know what you think!

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Farewell

Hey Girls,

I just wanted to let ya’ll know that I am leaving Beauty from the Heart. God is calling into a new season of life! He is writing another amazing chapter in my life book! I am really sad about leaving, but I have such a peace with being in the center of God’s will! I love you girls so very much and I have enjoyed every minute of being a part of BFtH! Each of you has been a tremendous blessing to me!

At this time, I feel the Lord is leading me to spend more of my time writing and ministering to others through my blog, Isaiah Generation.

Love you all so very much,
Stephanie

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Happy Birthday, Kristin!

Beauty from the Heart's very own Kristin is turning eighteen today. She has been an encouragement to so many. We're praying that she is richly blessed this coming year!


(Kristin, I was trying to make you a birthday hat. I'm sorry if it looks a little elf-ish. You know I'm not an artist!)

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Girls, if you would like to thank all of the guys who shared their hearts and advice in the Modesty Survey, then here's your chance! Submit your name and a brief comment stating how the Modesty Survey has positively influenced you. Your feedback will then be emailed to all of the guys as a thank-you note.

UPDATE: This project has been closed as of 2/28/07. We appreciate your participation.

(Thanks to Katrina Rowe and Alex King for helping put this together!)

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Announcing: The Rebelution's Modesty Survey!

TheRebelution.com just launched the results of their massive Modesty Survey! Over 1,600 Christian guys answered questions on everything from glitter lotion and lip gloss to swimsuits and skirt slits! For us girls, it's everything we've ever wanted to ask guys about modesty, but were afraid to ask!

Most importantly, the survey is presented as a resource to help Christian girls-- not a list of legalistic rules. It is accompanied by the Modesty Survey Petition, (which tons of guys have signed) encouraging young women to focus on the heart, not the hemline.

TheRebelution.com presents the results of the survey as a big St. Valentine's Day gift from 1,600 Christian guys to all Christian girls—and we can't think of a better one!


Make sure you spread the word to all your friends. We want as many Christian girls as possible to see it on Valentines Day, so you can repost this post on your blog or forward it as an email.

Don't Eat It. It's Mine.

"Unless hearts are transformed and handed over wholly to Christ’s authority, we are in very real danger of becoming a part of that statistic. "

The door swings shuts as you step into Marie’s Ice Cream Shop. Several customers are seated in booths, chatting blithely, licking ice cream cones and soaking in the cool air conditioning.

Outside the shop, the sun beats down cruelly upon the sidewalk. That summer, the ice cream shop had become a local refuge from the merciless weather. You, too, join the multitude of customers enjoying a piece of ice cream heaven.

Staring at the bins of ice cream, you struggle with making your decision. “Should I get a scoop of Dark Chocolate Raspberry, Total Mocha Bliss, or Joe’s Extra-Extra-Uber Chocolate Fudge ice cream?” you ask yourself. Ultimately, chocolate wins out. "A scoop of each flavor, please."

An employee behind the counter—a surfer who spent too much time with a bottle of tanning lotion—begins to pile your order of ice cream into a glass bowl. One scoop…then two…then three. Finally, he adds Marie’s Ice Cream Shop’s trademark touch—the brilliant red cherry on top. Your mouth waters as you wait expectantly for your order.

The tanned employee begins to pass you the ice cream, but instead, grabs a spoon and digs into your ice cream. Placing the spoon in his mouth, his eyes roll back as he savors the bite.

You stare in horror and disgust.

The boy swallows. “Duuuude, that was awesome.”

“What? That’s….that’s mine!” you sputter.

“Yeah. Thanks for like, sharing.” He smiles crookedly, and with a slight shrug, turns away.

It is a ridiculous situation. What employee in his right mind would ever steal a bite from a customer’s ice cream? What customer in their right mind would idly stand by, allowing him to do so?

Yet purity is treated in a similar fashion. Sex is often ignored as a gift from God--that is, a part of the marriage union, and instead utilized for a moment's pleasure. While it is most shocking to hear of someone assuming the rights to someone else's ice cream, we merely shrug at the idea of sexual purity being flippantly surrendered. Why? Impurity has become commonplace. In the year 2005, it was estimated that 47% of high school aged students had sex.

These statistics can be depressing to the high school students who have committed to abstinence, but this only the beginning: According to a survey by Dr. Peter S. Bearman and Dr. Hannah Bruckner, 88% of young people who commit to maintain their virginity until marriage, break the pledge. On average, the pledges are broken only eighteen months after they were first made.

“Now what?” you may say. “Are we fated to join that 88%?” Yes, we are. Even if we too make a commitment to be pure, the promise of a moment cannot transform a heart. The facts remain unaffected: We are naturally sinful human beings.

Unless hearts are transformed and handed over wholly to Christ’s authority, we are in very real danger of becoming a part of that statistic. Proverbs 4:23 states: “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” Guarding the heart is more than a split-second decision. It is a constant choice made daily. Is it hard? You bet! But in the words of Christina Rossetti,

"True, all our lives long we shall be bound to restrain our soul and keep it low; and what then? For the books we read shall one day be endowed with wisdom and knowledge. For the music we will not listen to, we shall join in the song of the redeemed. For the pictures from which we turn, we shall gaze unabashed on the beatific vision. For the companionship we shun, we shall be welcomed with angelic society and the communion of the triumphant saints. For the amusements we avoid, we shall keep the supreme jubilee. For the pleasures we miss, we shall abide in the rapture of heaven. It cannot be much of a hardship to dress modestly at a small cost, rather than richly and fashionably if with conviction we are awaiting the white robes of the redeemed."

Purity isn't simple to maintain. But in the seeking, we shall find so much more: the pleasure of our Father in Heaven. After all, purity is more valuable than ice cream.

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Sources:

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Repeating Ourselves? Repeating Ourselves?

I've always thought "Beauty from the Heart" was a great title, but alas, that has come back to bite me. By making the subject matter of the blog obvious, the phrase sums up our goal almost too tidily. Who needs to read our posts? The title says it all. For instance when a contributor decides to play hardball and says, "Hannah, what should we write about?" four little words come to mind. "Uhh...maybe we could discuss....beauty? From the heart?" No sarcasm. Really.

But the truth is, we do not wish to be redundant. Why waste your time re-stating the same point again and again? It is our hope in the next few months to re-publish the posts we feel best define our mission. As our writing styles have evolved somewhat, these posts will probably be somewhat revised (or in my case, completely scrapped and rewritten).

Sunday, February 11, 2007

It has been disturbingly quiet here these past few days. But all four of us have been quite busy with some behind the scenes work that hasn't been so quiet.

For the past several months, we've been busy hammering, sawing, drilling and sanding a few rough spots here at Beauty from the Heart. It has been a lot of work, but we're proud to announce that it's finally finished.*

So, just what is this new development that we've been working on? The About Us page! Today we're pleased to announce that the About Us page is no longer under construction. We've completely revised and updated the page with correct information.

Okay, so it's not such a big deal. But it took a while, so we thought we'd celebrate by actually posting!

Take a look!

*(Note from Hannah: "Finished" means, "A state of homeostasis; Temporary tranquility until Kristin decides to remodel Beauty from the Heart's design. Again.")**

**This is a joke. We love Kristin's designing talents.

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