Friday, March 6, 2015

Searching for Truth's Power

Generic words so swiftly spoken.
Designed by pros to fix the broken.
Blindly spewing, like lines of a script,
Never knowing how my heart is ripped.
Taking sacred words, twisting into your own.
Amazing, how you think you've grown.
How wise you are! How I bow to your mind!
How I ignore your words, though well-meaning and kind.

Where is the truth? Where are the people
Who won't just repeat what's heard under every church steeple?
Who will read God's scripture for themselves?
Not just snatch and grab from it whatever sells.
Who will be my friend, and speak truthful words?
Who will tell me something I haven't already heard?

Words of truth and words of grace...
Remove the mask that gives you that generic Christian face!
Quit resting your faith in the words of man,
Rewarmed and removed so far from God's plan.
Your watered-down Bibles may be easy to read,
But they've yet to give me any words I should heed!

There's no real answer in the words that you say
You twist God's true will, so I stand back and pray,
God! I need a friend who can meet me here,
At this point in my life, whom I can call dear.
Someone who understands what I need,
Speak strong, truthful words; plant the right seeds.

Is such a one so hard to find?
Is everyone around me truly so blind?
Is it too much to ask? Am I crazy? Insane?
Is there no one in this world who might feel the same?


Will you be a truth speaker with me?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Being skinny won't make you happy. Being fat won't either.

I recently ready this article, and it hit home for me in a unique way. Perhaps not like the author intended, but it created thoughts in my little head that I was eager to share.

The author told how she went through various body changes throughout her life, going back and forth from "bombshell skinny" to "mom of five kids fat" and back again. She told of how, when she strived for that skinny body, she wasn't happy. No one in her family was happy. She was obsessed with losing those pounds. But when she stopped worrying about her body, and just lived and ate as she was happy and good again.

While I understand the point she was making, my mind buzzed as I noticed how she fell right into a mindset that is gaining popularity by the minute, and damaging lives just as fast.

It doesn't matter what you look like. You are beautiful just the way you are. So stop worrying about your body image and just be happy. Eat what makes you happy. Do what makes you happy. Because being happy is all that matters.

But wait...isn't that true? Don't we want women to be happy in their bodies, no matter what they look like?

Of course.


That isn't the way to go about it.

Striving for that perfect beach body isn't going to make you happy.
Striving to love your curves and rolls despite the media telling you to lose weight isn't going to make you happy.
No physical body image is going to make you happy.
No amount of eating what you love will make you happy.

Skinny. Fat. Somewhere in the middle. It doesn't matter.

What matters, and what will actually make you happy is being healthy.

Our culture is so caught up in physical appearance in both directions that it forgets to pay attention to what's going on inside. The only way your skinny body or your fat body can possibly be truly happy, at peace, and balanced is to maintain a healthy food life. You should not be happy with your body unless you are feeding it what it needs to perform properly!

Being happy in your body can't be about eating whatever you think makes you happy. I know ice cream and pizza makes me happy, but it surely would not make my body happy. Therefore, I haven't touched the stuff in 3-4 years. I feed my body what I know will keep it bright, balanced, and clean. I feed it lots of pure vegetables, fruit, nuts, and beans that have been unaltered by sugar, gluten, or harmful chemicals. I consume spoonfuls of coconut oil that I know will nourish my brain, and sprinkle nutritional yeast on almost everything because its packed with vitamins and minerals. Everything I eat has a purpose in my body, and for that, my body is happy.

There is one other thing that makes my body happy, and it has nothing to do with food or pounds. I am sure many people have found a thousand different ways to achieve levels of happiness. But none shall ever compare to what I have found in my faith in God. I am nothing in life without Him, and regardless of what I do or eat or strive for in life, if it is not to His glory, then it is in vain.

It is my faith in Him that helps me get through every tough day. Every time my body refuses to work properly, despite my best efforts, it is His strength that gets me through and reminds me to never give up. Even when I am so incredibly frustrated over the failings of my body, it is His peace that runs through my soul and says "It's ok. Try again tomorrow."

This, my friends, is what we should be striving for. Not skinny or fat or whatever pleases you, but a healthy, balanced body that is as peace with God.

This is where true happiness comes from.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

What I know now about the Will of God

During my teenage years, I used to sit around and wonder what God wanted me to do. I would pray fiercely for Him to reveal His will to me and to tell me what to do. There were many times when I became so confused by what was happening in my life, especially at times when I was sure something was God's will, only to watch it vanish before my eyes. But I kept hoping that someday I would figure it out. I just had to be patient. After all, God had a plan for my life, right?

I believe it was March of 2011 when I began communicating with a young man I had met through an online ministry I had begun the fall prior. He was smart, energetic and a very interesting person. He clearly had a good heart and a love for the Lord, from what I could see via the internet, and we agreed  we should meet in person. We planned to meet at the Great Lakes Bible Conference in Wilmot, Ohio, where I had been invited by some new friends in the ministry.

Prior to this, I truly believed that I had actually heard God speak to me and tell me that I was going to marry this man. I believed I had literally heard His voice. I went to that conference believing I was about to meet my future husband. Well, I did, but it was not the one I was expecting.

The young man I had gone to meet was indeed very nice, but wrong for me in many ways, and I could see it almost as soon as we met. I can't really explain why, but I suddenly felt very uncomfortable at the thought of ever being with him. I kept trying to make it work, because I believed it was what God wanted. But no matter how much I tried, it was failing piece by piece.

I had gone there to meet a man who believed he'd come to claim his bride, and in, out of nowhere it seemed, walked my knight in shining armor.

Kyle was totally unexpected to me that weekend. I only barely knew who he was aside from the fact that he looked the spitting image of his brother Curt whom I'd met a few weekends before. The whole time I was trying to make things work with the other guy, I was hearing Kyle's praises sung and seeing his quiet, gentle eyes observing me.

I was terribly confused. What on earth was happening? What about the words God had spoken to my heart? Did that mean nothing? What was God doing?

It was about a week after that crazy weekend that I heard a messaged preached by Kyle's dad that forever changed my life. My family visited their church and Pastor Ted's message became the most influential one of my life.

He spoke clearly and succinctly of how God works in our lives today, and it was unlike anything I had ever heard. He shared how we as the Body of Christ are not be waiting for signs and voices from God to determine what we are supposed to do. We are to use "sanctified common sense", as one wise preacher once said, and he used the Apostle Paul as an example. There were many times in Paul's life where he used his own good judgment and wisdom from the Lord to make a decision. For example, in 2 Corinthians 2:1, Paul "determined with himself" that he should not come unto them. He didn't say "Lord willing." He used wisdom and common sense to determine that it was not a good time to do so. He also used the example in 1 Corinthians 16:5, where the Lord opens a door to Paul, and yet Paul chooses not to go through it (which kinda flies in the face of most Christian thinking).

In rightly dividing the Word, we recognize that in time past, God did indeed move His people where He wanted them to go. The people were under the law, and the law was an "if=then" system...if you do good, then I will bless you.
BUT NOW, something has changed, and as we also recognize that Paul is the apostle to the gentiles and the Body of Christ today, we realize that God has changed the way He deals with those He loves. We are under grace and grace says, "Here is the blessing, now go serve me because you love me. Do what you know is right."

The biggest problem with asking God to reveal His will in our personal lives is that He already has in His Word! We never have to look at our lives and wonder what God is doing, or trying to tell us, because He wrote a book telling us everything we need to know! We never have to wait for His voice, or look for His personal leading in our lives. He has given us all the tools we need. He gives us the wisdom to make good choices, and strengthens our hearts to be able to do the right things. Instead of making some leap of logic in trying to explain what God was doing in my life, I was able to find peace in knowing that He had strengthened my heart and given me the wisdom I needed to make the right choice.

Does this make me deist? Do I believe that my Creator does not in any way intervene in the lives of His creations? No. I do believe that He works in our hearts and minds through His word, and that we can enjoy a very personal, joyous relationship with Him. But I also believe in free will.

I believe that He steps back and lets us make those choices. I believe that the bad things that happen to us are just a result of life here on earth, and are not God trying to get our attention or teach us something. I believe that anything He wants to tell us about our lives here has been spelled out in His Word, and we need never sit in confusion about "what he's trying to tell us."

And it is in understanding this that I have true peace and joy in my life, and was able to evaluate the choices in front of me, and choose wisely the man I would spend the rest of my life with.

"And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgement; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ."
Philippians 1:9-10

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The one thing wrong with telling the victim, "Its not your fault"...

There are so many people today fighting tooth and nail against victim blaming, and for the most part, I agree with them. Rape, murder, thievery, bullying, abuse...none of it is ever right. My heart aches for anyone who has had to go through anything like that. I cannot even imagine the pain they feel. The victims of these crimes aren't the ones at fault, and the criminals should be punished.

However there is something that bothers me.

I know that most of the time, things happen completely out of a person's control. They took all the precautions, but something terrible still happened. Innocent people get hurt. I get that.

But then there are the stories where the victim so clearly put themselves in a bad situation, and its those stories where I am confused. Why were you there? Why were you partaking in the substances that made you so out of it that you didn't realize what was happening to you? Why did you associate yourself with people that didn't have your best interests at heart, and only sought to do you harm? Why did you stay? Why? 

When you go somewhere questionable, and there are people you don't know, and alcohol is being consumed along with who knows what...what can you only expect is going to happen? You cannot expect that complete strangers, or even so-called friends, are not going to do something incredibly stupid when they are also completely intoxicated. People are stupid, vindictive and irrational, especially when intoxicated. It was your fault for thinking that they were to be trusted in such a state. And it was your fault for putting yourself in a situation where something like that could happen. Its one thing to become a victim of a crime while just walking down the street, or in your own home...but its another thing put yourself in a questionable and possibly dangerous situation and naively expect nothing bad to ever happen.

And I'm sorry if this hits the wrong nerve, but ladies...don't advertise if you aren't selling. People love to jump on the feminist bandwagon by saying that it should never matter what a woman wears; men should control themselves. I do agree---men need to control themselves. But we live in a world where "hooking up" is common, and there are no boundaries in sex. And when you go to a place where the people and their motives are questionable, and you are showing off everything you've are sending mixed messages. You are saying "Look, but don't touch." "Here's my body, but don't you dare lust over it." "I'm gonna dress like everyone else, but I expect you to treat me with a special level of respect.""Control yourself, even though I'm not controlling myself." You see what I'm saying? Double standards and mixed messages help no one. You can't have a mindset of someone with a higher standard while dressing like someone who is looking to get laid. Like it or not, how we look speaks louder about ourselves than what our words say. Your beliefs and goals get lost in what your appearance is shouting. Your closest friends may know you differently, but someone who has no thought towards your well-being and only has one goal in mind doesn't care.

One more topic that irritates me is the constant mantra, "Its never ok for a man to hit a woman." True...but its also never ok for a woman to hit a man. Men just don't get away with it as easily because they are bigger and stronger. We hear all the stories of women being physically, emotionally, and sexually abused by men. But do we ever hear the stories of men being abused by women? They happen, especially emotionally, because women are far better at striking the heart and being emotionally vindictive than men are. Men generally show rage and anger physically, whereas women use their words to cut and damage. We are so quick to tell the story of the wife who suffered years of abuse from her husband, but dismiss the idea of a husband abused by his wife with "Well, he must have deserved it." Wait...isn't that the same argument that society has been fighting with blaming the female victims of rape? Are we just turning the tables now?

Ok so maybe that was three things wrong with telling the victim "Its not your fault." But you get the idea. And I'm sorry if this comes across as judgmental, but this is what is real and raw in my heart. This is what the media will never discuss, because it goes against every progressive, feminist, liberal agenda out there.

A crime, no matter who was at fault, is never right. It is never justified, and there is always pain. But someone is always going to try to pin blame, and there are always going to be three sides to a story...yours, mine, and what really happened. The point that I would like to get across here is this: protect yourself, don't put yourself in possibly bad situations, surround yourself with people you know you can trust, and keep your hands to yourself.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Marriage Set Me Free

The old ball and chain.

Tying the noose. 

Looks like you're trapped for the rest of your life.

Oh, the jokes. Of course, they are mostly geared toward men. Because everyone knows that the wife is the boss, right? Once you get married, for men and women, its the end of all your fun. Oh and then, just give it a year...wait till the honeymoon wears off...then you'll be just like everyone else. Miserable. Then you get kids and they ruin your marriage all together. Just wait. You'll see.

People love to treat marriage like its the end of the world. But the truth is, its only the end of the world if all your world consists of is late-night partying, irresponsibility, sleeping around, and no commitment.

My marriage set me free.

I got married because I wasn't afraid to commit my life to the man I wanted to be with. And in return, I have gained a whole world that wasn't there before.

I now have the freedom to kiss him without judgement.

I have the freedom to be alone with him without speculation.

I am able to have sex with him without any twinge of guilt.

I don't have to wonder if I'm loved, because he tells me every day.

Marriage lets me share he same home with this man, without any questions or want of explanation.

I know you're probably what? Marriage set you free from what people think of you? What does it matter what people think? Its none of  their business!

Well, you're partially right. It doesn't matter what people think.

But it does matter what people think.

You can't live your life trying to fit into a mold, or live up to everyone else's expectations. But you do need to live your life in a way that encourages people to come to the right conclusions about you. Just because its none of their business doesn't mean you should throw morals and values out the door. People are still going to judge you, whether they say they will or not. So don't give them a reason to think the wrong thing.

Marriage set me free from people thinking the wrong thing.

So is that it? I just got married to avoid speculation? Haha. No.

I got married because I fell in love and wasn't afraid of commitment. Marriage set me free to live the life I had always dreamed of. It gave me all new territory to explore that I never would have had when I was single. Even when we were dating, it was nothing like what we have now. We are free to build a life together, because we did it against the flow of what society told us to do. They told us we should live together first, try out sex first, just in case we didn't like each other. But we chose to give this life all we have, commit to each other for a lifetime, and then enjoy the benefits. This way, we don't spend every day wondering if its still working, wondering if we like each other. We spend every day proving it. Cultivating it.

Yes, marriage is still work. There are the rough days, the tired days.

But for me, marriage is freedom.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

How to Live With Diet Restrictions {and cook for people who don't}

So let's get one thing straight here. When I say 'diet restrictions', I'm not talking about A DIET. Not your oh-crap-bikini-season-is-coming-I-need-to-get-skinny, forty-day-cleanse, man-this-time-I'm-serious dieting. What I mean is LIFESTYLE. Healthy living, give-it-all-you've-got, no-turning-back-ever, all-out Lifestyle Change. Whether its controlling a health issue through what you put in your mouth, the desire to become a Food Hippie, or needing to loose a few inches off your waistline, this is not about a temporary eating habit that gets ditched with the first Starbucks craving. This is real, long-term, serious life foodiness. Yes, I just made that word up.

The thing is, most of us who have made the leap are dragging behind us friends and family who have not. Its not likely you are going to be able to convert everyone, so you will end up needing to cook meals that you choose not to eat. Which is fine, as long as you practice some serious self-control. But add not being able to taste the food you need to feed your family to trying to reign in your own food cravings, and things can get irritating.

So in the past few years, I've learned some important things about feeding people food that I can't eat. The most important thing is simply...

People still need to eat!
And I still need to feed them. And most people just aren't into roasted lentils and coconut milk smoothies the way I am. So they need food. My husband likes chicken, tacos, pizza, and grilled cheese and turkey sandwiches. And he's always checking the freezer for ice cream. Regardless of the fact that a lot of his favorite foods aren't on my list, my husband enjoys them and he still needs to eat filling man-food. Now, since I am the cook of the house (muhaha), I will make choices about what type of food I feed him. I will get him good, organic ice cream when I can, and strive to make homemade bread that is free of random chemicals and nonsense. I pack his lunch with a nice sandwich, an apple and some yogurt. I offer him better food and he is a happier man for it.

My point is simply that, while I encourage my friends and family to take control of their food lives, I cannot be a Food Snob. Sometimes, I'm gonna have to serve those sugar-laden desserts and crappy pasta dishes. I can edit them and make them healthier, but I still have to feed people.

Follow Recipes!
Recpies are my best friend. They tell me exactly what to do and how to get something to turn out right. Now, I'm pretty good at guessing, throwing together something and having it taste decent. But nothing beats a good recipe with all the right measurements and everything.

Yummly is one of my favorite places to find the recipe I want quickly. Pinterest is helpful too. I'm slightly amused by the fact that I just recently created a board devoted to beans and rice.

Use your Sniffer!
Once you've cooked enough, you will know what certain things are supposed to smell like, regardless of whether you can taste it or not. Memorize how your favorite chili recipe smells, how that awesome spaghetti sauce smells, and what your chocolate chip cookie dough is suppose to smell like. Learn how to utilize that smell memory of yours!

Be Confident!
I highly doubt this is your first rodeo. You know how to do this! You know how to cook, right? So cook, feed it to your minions, make your own meal, and move on. Sure you're going to have some flops. At the moment of writing this, I'm trying to make some chocolate butterscotch chip cookies for church fellowship tonight...and they are flat. Ridiculously flat. I have no idea what happened, but they flopped. So now I am experimenting with baking them in my muffin tin and pie pans, so the dough will hold its shape and not become a pancake. But that's life. You live and learn.

What you are doing for your food life is important, and its going to benefit you in ways you could never imagine. What you get by tailoring your menu and giving yourself a healthier lifestyle gives you leaps and bounds in your health above others that choose not to. You are doing the right thing. Keep doing it!

Let them in Your World!
People can surprise you. And you can surprise people. They might be wary of your foodie habits, but letting them try some of your odd snacks might be the best thing in their day! And they might really like your stuff! So don't be afraid to cook a healthy meal for someone. They just might surprise you and really enjoy it!

Never be afraid to talk about your food life either. Especially if they don't know you, they might not realize why you do what you do. When I start mentioning that I'm a vegan (plus all the other things), people generally automatically think "hippie, animal-rights-activist, anti-hunting guru". But then I have to be quick to clarify that its not cause I think eating animals is bad. I am totally pro-hunting! When I tell them I'm curing myself of epilepsy through food, their jaws drop. They would never have guessed and never thought such a thing was possible.

Share your story!

Be Steadfast!
I don't ever accept the excuse that you can't live a healthy lifestyle because your family won't eat that way, or because you just "can't" give up X-Y-Z foods. YOU CAN. The people around you do not dictate your eating habits, and there is no well-loved food more important than your health. Sure, its hard. But it is not impossible. Don't ever say you could never live with your caffeinated, sugary beverages, your chocolate treats, or your ice cream binges. Don't ever tell me you don't like water or vegetables. They are all just excuses, and bad ones at that. YOU CAN. Period.

You make a choice to take your health in your own hands. With that choice comes a responsibility to yourself. Don't let other peoples' actions dictate your behavior. Just because everyone else is eating it does not mean you have to. Its like the analogy that mom's love to use with their teenagers...if all your friends jump off a bridge, are you going to follow?

We have put a lot of social stigma on food. We have made it so that it is rude not to eat what everyone else is eating, and that requesting something different is considered snobbish. Food is comfort. Its what people do together, and while this may be true, it has caused the good intentions of health-foodies to go down the drain with one simple "Hey, let's go out for ice cream!" Food is important, but it is not the be-all-end-all of our social lives. You have to stick to your guns, tell your story, and say NO to the cupcakes! It isn't worth it.

Cooking your loved ones food that your can't eat is hard sometimes. But its not impossible. And its not impossible to live a food life that no one else around you does. Its kinda like being a Christian (now, just bear with me here). Those fiery darts are gonna come at your from all sides. But what do you do? You put on your whole armor of God and stand strong and courageous!

Well, maybe that's a rough analogy. But you get the idea.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Consent and Respect: We're confusing issues here

In an effort to teach children about consent, we are creating a society of people that believes that they always get exactly what they want and never have to do anything they aren't comfortable with. I believe this is because we are meshing issues that were never meant to be meshed.

In this video, the idea is brought up that parents are accidentally teaching kids that their consent to sexual activity doesn't matter by forcing them to shake hands/hug relatives, by teaching them to respect their elders and so on. The lady in the video expresses that by doing these things, we are telling our kids that they don't have a choice and what they feel doesn't matter, so when it comes time for them to start being sexually active (apparently sometime in their teens), they will be hesitant to ever say no to someone because it will appear rude.

While I totally agree that children need to be taught that no one is allowed to forcibly touch them in an inappropriate way, I believe that these issues are not the same and should not be lumped together into one lesson.

My parents made me shake hands with people and I was told on many occasions to hug my relatives. I was taught to be respectful to my elders and obey adults that were placed in authority over me. And when it came time for me to be in a romantic relationship, I never felt that I could not tell my boyfriend/fiancee that I was uncomfortable with something, no matter how simple or complicated it was. I never felt that I had to keep being in an uncomfortable situation because i might appear rude if I got up and left.

But here is the difference. My parents also taught me something that overruled any idea that my consent wasn't important. They taught me to protect my body. They taught me to respect myself and that my body was special. I knew that I needed to save my body for one special person, and that person should be the one I have committed to spend the rest of my life with.

This is not a popular teaching anymore. We now live in a word of sexual carelessness, preached in the name of expressing yourself. Everything is based on how you feel, and boundaries are yours to choose, even if they are non-existent.

We are creating a generation of selfish, whiny, feelings-driven, promiscuous, irresponsible, wanna-be adults.

I may not have any children of my own, but I have been around them long enough to know a few things (I figured I should get that out there before the thunder of comments began about how a childless woman has no knowledge of raising children). I know that children, especially small ones, do not have the maturity to make proper decisions most of the time. That's why they have parents, and why parents are told to "train up a child in the way that he should go" (Prov. 22:6). Children have small minds, and need guidance to learn how to make proper decisions.

In the video mentioned, the woman talks about how parents don't listen to their children's requests or comments, and end up just telling them what they should think instead of inviting a conversation about what the child does think. She used examples like the child saying "I'm cold", and parent responding "No, you're not, it's hot in here!" Or child: "I'm hungry", and parent: "No, you're just ate dinner!"
She suggested turning it into a conversation and asking the child why they are cold or hungry, instead of just telling them what they should think. In doing so, we are telling them that their opinion does matter.

Now, I see the point, but the problem with this is that in doing so, we are not teaching our children how to have self-control. There are situations sometimes that are beyond your control, such as standing in a funeral home, or sitting in the cart while mommy does grocery shopping. It's uncomfortable, sure. But that fact is that if the parent is constantly catering to the child's every whim and desire, they are not learning that sometimes you just have to suck it up, shut up, stand still and be patient. You are hungry? Ok, but you aren't starving to death. You can wait. You are bored/tired? You'll be ok for a few more minutes. You are not in danger, you are not sick or hurt. The world does not revolve around you. 

And yet there is the logic that was used to create the idea that we are teaching kids that their voice doesn't matter. See? You're telling kids that what they feel isn't important, so now when someone tries to push sex on them, they are going to think that their feelings about it aren't important!

You are comparing apples to oranges. Teaching a child self-control by making them wait patiently in a checkout line or in the car or at a place where they are just clearly not interested has nothing to do with teaching them how to respect their body and protect it.

I knew as a kid that no one was allowed to touch me down there. I knew that if ever I felt uncomfortable with someone, I needed to leave the situation and tell my mom. My mom also was very aware of my surroundings when I was a young, dumb kid whose brain hadn't matured yet and knew what situations not to place me in. I knew that I wanted to save my body for someone special, and that someone special was going to be the man I married. I knew that sex was God's gift to married men and women, and it was not some thing to be played around with by irresponsible young adults that had no intention of getting married.

So you see, I was taught about consent, but my parents didn't mix it with learning how to be a patient, well-behaved child in public. The issues are separate, and mixing them just creates the multitudes of out-of-control kids I see running all over their parents and creating embarrassing spectacles in grocery stores. Parents have become so afraid to harm their tender little personalities or to make them feel like their choices don't matter. Guess what, kid....until you no longer need to be reminded to brush your teeth in the morning, don't need help bathing, can make your own food and take care of yourself when you get the are an immature child that needs the help of a mature adult to make good decisions. And until you have sufficiently learned how to be a responsible part of society, you are just an immature teenager that needs guidance from a mature adult.

Teaching a child self-control and patience seems to be a lost art today. I grew up in a circle where children were expected to behave themselves and sit in less-than-exciting situations for extended periods of time. We grew up knowing to keep our hands to ourselves and to not let other people touch us inappropriately. We were brought to respect ourselves and to respect others. We never felt like our opinions didn't matter and we knew that our parents would talk to us and guide us in the way that we should go.

We weren't raised perfect, but we weren't raised sissies.

Quit making issues out of things that aren't meant to be that way. Stop making excuses and trying to come up with reasons why kids are being sexually abused. It happens because we live in a fallen, sinful creation. Its never right, and never the kids' fault. How about we try teaching the adults to respect children and know their own boundaries? Oh yeah...its probably cause they were taught as kids to do whatever made them FEEL good and do whatever they thought was right.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Our Parents Suffered Too: Thoughts on Modesty, Purity, and the Culture That Shaped Us

I recently shared an article I came across on Facebook. The writer jumped into the issue of modesty, and gave some interesting points. She built on the idea that it should not be the responsibility of a women to try to control a man's thoughts by dressing (or not dressing) a certain way, and in many ways I agree with that. We cannot seek to dress in such a way that will prevent a man from noticing and admiring the natural curves of our body, because its unrealistic. We can, however, strive to adorn ourselves in a way that lets our character and personality shine. There are parts of our body that should be honored by keeping them covered, but not because we are ashamed of them. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. That doesn't mean flaunt it if you've got it. But I think we have gotten so wrapped up in our ideas of what modest dress should be that we have forgotten to dress with class and dignity.

Its not our responsibility to keep men from lusting after us. We can't control it, not matter how conservatively we dress. However, we do have the opportunity to suggest through our dress what we do want people to think of us. Like it or not, we live in a world where we are judged and given labels based on what we wear. I can't tell you how many times I've been asked if I am or was Amish, just because I wear a lot of skirts and like my hair up in a bun.

Your clothing can say a lot about you. Therefore, your goal should not be trying to prevent people from thinking the wrong thing, but instead, focusing on encouraging them to think the right thing. Be comfortable, be yourself, let your God-given personality be defined, and let the Holy Spirit shine through you.

While thinking of all these thoughts on modesty, a friend sparked a conversation about how to teach our kids about sex when the time comes. I'll admit, its always a daunting thought to me. But it occurred to me...why should it be such a scary idea? Sex is beautiful and fun and why shouldn't I be excited to tell them about it? Sex is sacred and special, and something to be enjoyed to the fullest between a man and his wife. I hope and pray that we can give our kids a good enough example in life and communicate to them how wonderful these things are, so that when its their turn, they can face it with joy and with grateful hearts.

The kids of my generation and circles like to talk about how the purity movement damaged our thinking about sex. How most of us were so burdened by trying to keep ourselves physically and emotionally pure that, most of the time, we were simply plagued with the guilt of thinking we may have been impure by noticing someone of the opposite sex. And when we came to actually doing the deed, we were frightened. Really, sincerely frightened. Now, some will say that these were worst case scenarios, but I think there are a great number of us that experienced this to some degree.

We were extreme. We kissed dating goodbye and fell in love with courtship. We swung the pendulum so far in one direction that we forgot what the middle ground was like. So what is happening next? We swing it the opposite way. We hear the words---.modesty.purity.courtship.---even homeschool---and we run.

And then...we blame our parents.

They were controlling. They were possessive and crazy. They just wanted to shelter us and never let us out in the real world. They just feared the world and all in it, and wanted to keep us from it.

Those bad parents.


I have to say...we are messing this up even worse than it already is. Do we even realize what we are doing?

I realize that there are people who have taken the modesty/purity/homeschool culture way too far. And then you have the Doug Phillips and Bill Gothard scandals. I know many parents have cause irreversible damage and suffering in their children because of the standards and rules they enforced. They really did take it an unhealthy level. I'll never dispute that.

But I will point out one very important thing: they suffered too.

We have lost sight of what came before us and why we ended up where we did. We think its all about us. We were the ones jaded by legalism and tormented by the patriarchal system. But I'll say it again: our parents suffered too.

Most of our parents were not raised the way we were. Many of them were first generation Christians, first generation homeschoolers, first generation couples-that-actually-stayed-married, and so on. Most of them had no idea what they were doing. All they knew was that what they went through as kids/young adults didn't work and they wanted something different for their kids. So the pendulum got swung as far from what they knew as they could get, and the modesty/purity/homeschool culture was born.

They saw that traditional American dating-with-no-goal-of-marriage didn't work very well, and so Courtship was born (or should I say reborn?).

They saw that the public school system was full of crap (still is...), and so Homeschooling was born.

They saw that casual, premarital sex was causing damage, and so Purity was born (or should I say redifined?).

They knew the pain in their own hearts from the lives they had lived, and wanted to protect us from the same pain. They wanted to give us different opportunities and wanted to raise us as Biblically as they knew how.

They saw what didn't work, and went the opposite way. Hey...aren't we trying to do the same thing?

Let us not be so swift to judge the choices our parents made. Their choices were born out of their own pain, and so are our choices. We are making choices based on the same emotions that spurred our parents on, but this is where we have to be careful not to be so anxious to get away from what hurt us that we swing that pendulum so far the other direction and end up in the same hell hole our parents crawled out of.

Let's take what we now know, and turn it into something beautiful. Let's not just focus on "not doing what our parents did", but instead focus on why. We can do better than our parents, because they did better than theirs. And our kids will do better than us. But not if we are stuck in bitterness and self-pity. We had a rough past...ok, so let's get over it and move into the future. Modesty, purity, homeschooling, biblical manhood and womanhood, courtship-also-known-as-dating-with-a-purpose, saving sex for marriage...these are all still good things! Let's bring them out of their extremist past and give them freedom to work they way God intended!

We have a chance to find the happy medium. Let us not waste it nursing our wounds with our hatred of the culture that shaped us into the people we are today. We are who we are because of where we came from. We can't stay there, but we can take what we have learned and let the pendulum settle gracefully in the middle.

Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another...
Romans 12:9-10 

Thursday, June 19, 2014


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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

My Lydia

While we were in Missouri, I had one of the most epic moments of my life. Because of the epicness of it, I felt it deserved its own post.

I met Lydia.

In real-life, flesh-and-blood, huggable reality.

Zuriel, Lydia, Me, and Grace

Most people may not understand the immense importance of this, so I will elaborate.

I have known Lydia for Fifteen Years. Fifteen Years. I first came to know her through her penpal ad in her friends' christian girls' magazine. There were several ads, but Lydia's attracted me specially. All the others advertised for penpals of certain ages, limiting the amount of people that could get a chance to reply. But Lydia's was different. She wanted penpals of any age---"from 1 to 100!"

So I wrote to her. And she wrote back. And so it continued in sweet, sometimes sporadic letters over the course of several years. Soon technology entered our lives and we kept in contact through emails and Facebook.

We wished for many years to be able to meet in person, but sadly, Oklahoma is a long way from Pennsylvania. So when Missouri became the closest we have ever been to each other, Lydia made the trip up with her darling mother, sister Abigail and adorable baby girl Zuriel.

The face I've seen in photos, and the voice I've heard over the phone. She's real. I got to hug her.

We looked through all our old letters. Zuriel was thrilled as much as we were, I think! Our visit was short, but beautiful. And it happened. 

To God be the glory! 

We went to Missouri...

680 plus miles.

14 hours in the car.

Driving past what felt like every single "blink-and-you'll-miss-it" small town in the Midwest.

Winding up in a middle-of-nowhere camp with zip cell reception.


" make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery..." (Eph. 3:9)

I spent the week prior to arriving at this beautiful place fretting and freaking out. All the planning and prep work that had gone into this event had me running in circles. I mean, how on earth does one truly prepare for a weekend of ministry in which you have to cook meals for 45-50 people, make sure everyone has what they need and is happy, all in a place you have never been to before and have very little idea of what to expect?

So I fretted.

Then we arrived.

And my mind was blown.

My soul was completely refreshed, and there were several moments over the weekend where I found my self near tears of joy. Everyone brought food, which was my biggest worry, and we had a beautiful abundance! I had so much help in the kitchen that everything ran like a well-oiled machine.

We spent much time centered around God's Word, listening to grand messages and testimonies, and singing our hearts out to the best music we've ever had.

My sweet husband gave a great message!

Got a photo with all the speakers!
Barney Monroe, Me, Diana & Neil Schnaath, Lee Homoki, Ted Fellows,
Curt, Kyle, Luke Miller, Cody Stead and Billy Elmquist.

We played. We ate. We sang. We hugged. We talked. We smiled till it hurt and laughed till we cried.

And we're going back next year. 

This is my love. My life. This is where my heart thrives and becomes so alive. Friendship centered around the Word of God rightly divided is the most precious thing anyone could ever ask for. 

We are the next generation. We are the heartbeat of the movement.

If not us, then who? 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Observations at a Bible Conference

So I spent the weekend at the Great Lakes Grace Bible Conference in Wilmot, Ohio. It has become as very special place to me, since it was the exact weekend event where I met my husband three years ago, and the location where we decided to get married almost one year ago. Its always such a great experience, with wonderful preachers sharing their knowledge, meeting friends new and old, and seeing the beautiful landscape that is Ohio's Amish Country.

I really think that this was one of the best conferences I've been to, mostly because I focused on being relaxed, soaking in the messages, and simply enjoying it. I didn't have any pressures of wedding planning, or being so newly twitterpatted that I couldn't focus. I got to go, relax, enjoy every second, and go home afterwards with my sweet husband.

And that is where my first observation comes from.

I notice that I am so much more at ease now. I come with my guy and then I leave with him. Before being married, I thrived on staying up late, being in every part of everything and getting as much interaction with people as I possibly could. I cried when I left events and it always felt like there was a big hole left in my heart. The days after a get-together were hard and sad. Now...I simply enjoy the time that I have, I go to bed at a decent hour and at the end, I go home with my favorite person of all time. I like it better this way. :)

I really enjoyed watching people. I have always been the quieter person that listens more than talks and occasionally interjects when I feel I have something significant to say. That is, unless you get me on a subject I like...then I will talk your ear off. But I find it very interesting to just watch people and observe how they behave.

This is observation Number Two.

I saw that some people have an attitude that, because they are at a Bible Conference, they must behave differently than they would normally.

Yeah, this is a Bible conference, so I have to wear this instead of that.
We probably shouldn't watch that movie, or talk about that subject, since we are at a Bible conference.
Oops, I shouldn't say that word, since I'm at a Bible Conference.

You get the idea. And all I am going to say on that note is this...why do we live in a way that forces us to have to act differently in front of our Bible Conference Friends than we would when we are at home?

These are just my observations.

I also noticed that there are people that come to places like this, sit down to listen to speaker, and then get offended by something the speaker says. Bottom line...don't come to something like that and expect to only hear what you want to hear. The speaker merely gave his opinion, and he stated that it was thus several times. There is no reason to have a fit over something he clearly wasn't aiming at you personally.

Again. Just my observation.

On a happier note, I observed a mother deal with something sensitive in a most gracious manner. Her teenage son was spending a lot of time enjoying the company of a young lady whom she was not acquainted with. She wanted to know who the girl was, so she quietly asked around and eventually became good friends with the girl's mom. Now that, I thought, is a great way to keep an eye out on your children and who they are hanging out with. She found out what she wanted to know in a calm and rational manner. She didn't make a big fuss or become defensive. But she was looking out for her son, and she did it with respect and grace.
I admired that a lot. And its little things like that that I put in the back of mind, in a file marked "See that? Remember that when you have kids."

I also observed that when you do something different in your life, you have to expect people to not understand. And you have to try to find a gracious way to explain to them why you do what you do, because they will ask. You can get upset, because often people ask about your differences in ways that are not always the most gracious. They will be blunt and brash. But the bottom line is that they just don't have a clue. And at times, depending on what it is, you intimidate them, and their nervousness cause them to not really think about the question they are asking. Just keep calm and try to avoid beating them about the head. :)

One last thing. We may not be the largest group in the world. We may not be the most well-loved. We may not be the most talented or have the most advertising. But there is a passion here uncommon in many circles. There is a depth of love, grace and wisdom that you don't find just anywhere. And while so many people are trying to get filled up on some watered-down version of Christianity, something very special goes on here. This is real. This is empowering. And I'm not letting go.

Monday, May 19, 2014

What happens at Grandma's...

Every once in a while, I will see a picture pop up with a quip about grandmas. Sometimes they are really sweet, but very often they are kind of---well, irritating.

Now, I love my grandmas. I just got a new one by getting married last year, and she is such a darling. But there is an attitude surrounding grandmothers in general that is not what it should be.

"I can at Grandma's!"

"The world needs grandmas cause those kids aren't going to spoil themselves!"

"What happens at Grandma's...stays at Grandma's."

"Being Grandma means never having to say no."

Ok, so its meant to be funny. But behind ever word of sarcasm, there is a bit of truth. And the truth is that there is this idea that grandmothers are supposed to spoil grandkids. They say yes when mom says no, and nothing is off limits at Grandma's house.


Maybe I'm the oddball, but that mindset seems totally backwards to me. Unless grandparents are trying to exact some sort of revenge on their kids for giving them such a hard time growing up, shouldn't they be supporting these young parents in their endeavors?

And maybe I'm just ridiculously lucky to know that I have a mom and a mother-in-law that would respect my wishes with my kids, support me and help me instead of hinder my child-raising plans. If mom says no, then grandma says no too. And my kids will know that.

Yeah...I know...I don't have kids yet, so what am I even talking about? Well, I know that I have seen what I don't like. And I like knowing that my kids grandparents will be the kind I can trust and enjoy and not dread them being with. I know they will be good examples and that my kids will have a heritage they can look up to and grandparents that can be a happy part of their lives.

The end.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

I love you, but I don't have to love what you do...

I recently watched TLC's "Breaking Amish" series on Netflix. I'm not sure why it intrigued me. Most of it kind of irritated me...way too much drama and bad attitudes. But it spurred on some interesting thoughts, hence this blog post.

"Breaking Amish" chronicles the story of five young Amish/Mennonite people that leave their communities and set off into the outside world. Their journey takes them to New York City as a start, where they get a huge culture shock and dive head first into all that the "English" lifestyle has to offer.

The series is not without plenty of drama, and I found myself fast forwarding a lot. But I think the thing that intrigued me most was the interactions with their families before and after their escapades.

Before they left for the big city, each one was spoken to by one or more family members. They were all told that if they went out and did the things they were planning to, that they would be shunned. When they returned, they were shocked to find that their families would no longer speak to them. One girl's friends even ran from her with their hands on their faces like blinders when they saw her approach in her English clothing. She was heartbroken.

Now, don't get me wrong. I am not in any way saying that the Amish lifestyle is right. I disagree with their biblical beliefs entirely, and if I ever had the chance to become friends with someone from that community, I would greatly encourage them to leave.

But the attitudes of  those kids with their families had me shaking my head.

Dude...what did you think was going to happen?

They told you they were not okay with what you were doing. You knew it was against everything they believed in, and you still went on your merry way and did whatever the heck you wanted. Sure, you should be able to make a life for yourself and make decisions on your own. But then to come home and demand that the people who gave you a good and fair warning be tolerant of your new lifestyle? Sorry. It doesn't work that way.

Here is where I believe we have the biggest problem in society today. Everyone wants acceptance and believes that it shouldn't matter what anyone does, you should love and accept them anyways. Maybe some people are okay with this sort of mindset. Heaven knows the media and all the liberal/feminist/feel good junkies of the country are all about just accepting people for "who they are" (aka what they decide to do with their lives). But for me, that's not how it works.

May this be a declaration to my friends and family.

I love you. I will always love you.

But I do not have to love what you do.

I do not have to accept the lifestyles, habits, addictions, choices, or sexual partners you choose to associate with.
I do not have to be okay with the words you use, the friends you hang out with, or your lack of Biblical influence and devotion.
I don't have to tolerate your attitude.
I don't have to act like everything is okay when you are blatantly being disrespectful, partaking in things I don't agree with or living in a way that is opposite of everything I hold dear and important to me.

Love does not equal acceptance. I can love you, the person I have always loved and will continue to. But that doesn't mean I have to accept that you are doing all the things I am against.

Where does grace fit in, you ask? Grace does not gloss over wrong. Grace loves and encourages to do the right thing. Grace does not just leave a person in their pit, afraid to say anything contrary because that person might be offended. Grace loves in spite of wrong, but is not tolerant of it. Grace encourages change and restoration.

So while you are out there finding yourself, remember that I am here with a willing ear and warm hug. I will always love you, but I will never stop praying for you, encouraging you to do the right thing, and hating all the horrid things that are trapping you and keeping you from a rich, fulfilling life in Christ.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

My Undue Dislike of the Duggar Family

I'll admit. I haven't really been fair to the Duggar family. My friend Janet knows this better than anyone. She knows that whenever she mentions the Duggar family, or any "big-christian-homeschool-family-especially-ones-that-sing-together"...I get an attitude. A bitterness, as it were, rises up in my heart and I try to change the subject. She has put up with many of my rants about the Patriarchal system, betrothal, courtship, the having-as-many-kids-as-you-can thing...all of it.

(Off topic plug: Janet is the best friend I have ever had. For nearly 13 years, she has stuck by me through thick and thin. We have grown up together while separated by many miles. She has put up with my rantings and ravings like no one else. No matter what, even if she doesn't agree with me, we still get along. She has never huffed off all offended by anything I've said, and is the most faithful friend I have ever known. <3 )

This morning I read an article about the latest Duggar romance. Actually there are posts all over the place about Jill's courtship with her missionary man and how she met him via Skype and started their relationship before they met. Google anything about Duggar courtships and you get an onslaught of post and interviews and videos talking about their courtship rules and whatnot. Needless to say...they're pretty popular.

But this morning's post made me realize something.

I've been bitter against these people unjustly.

I'm not being sarcastic here. I'm truly honest. I've disliked them unfairly. Am I still kind of weirded out by how famous they have become? Yeah, it still irritates me, but whatever...its their life.

But this is what has made me realize how unfair I have been: they are raising good kids.

One son married with three kids and very successful. Two daughters in relationships with good, strong Christian men. The others well on their way.

They are doing something right!

So what I've realized is that maybe instead of being resentful against them for being so famous for their over-sized family and strict conservative rules...maybe instead of watching and waiting for one of them to mess up...maybe I should be cheering them on!

Sure I don't agree with their biblical doctrine, but that's not the issue here. The issue is that they are raising, good, pure, successful, happy, polite, drug-free people that value marriage, family and God. What is so wrong with that?

There is nothing wrong with a couple "dating with the intent of marriage" (aka courting), saving sex for marriage, saving 99% of physical contact for marriage and focusing on their spiritual and emotional growth together first. What a foundation to have! Maybe if more people valued marriage like that, there would be less heartache and divorce in this world.

There is nothing wrong with the family being involved in that process. People young and in love need good counsel and eyes other than their own to see the red flags that we miss through our rose-colored-glasses.Yes, of course, they are adults, and not every couple is blessed with Godly, reasonable, understanding parents. But there is always someone out there, even if its just your friends, that can give counsel, wisdom and accountability.

I could go on and on, but the point is this. There is nothing wrong with the way the Duggar family, or any of these families live. They aren't perfect...but then again they never make that claim. They do the best that they know how and strive to raise their families to be honorable in the sight of God and man. Some may fall, yes. But so far the odds are for them. They are doing alright here! So why hate them for raising the bar and releasing some beautiful, God-fearing people into the world?

In closing, I'm sorry, Duggars. And everyone else. Keep doing what you are doing. Thank you for valuing marriage and family and giving your kids an amazing foundation.

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