29 August 2012

Jeff Foxworthy's Favorite Story About the Bible

I just watched this and felt like sharing. :) Let's see if it works...

Much love,

27 August 2012

Fun Videos

Just some things I came across today. Please enjoy!

Good song, and cute piggy:

Goofy song, the truth about piggies:

Fun piggy adventure!

Fun piggy adventure 2.0!

Be happy.


Much love,

26 August 2012

Modesty Begins in the Heart: Part 2

See Part 1 here.

I have been brought to, God only knows how, blogs written by a couple of lovely ladies who have, in gentle loving-kindness given me much to consider. I say "God only knows" because I wasn't searching for these blogs, but just came across them while web-surfing. I couldn't tell you how I found them, only that God brought me to them because He wanted me to hear His heart in a way that each of them are excellent at communicating.

The two blogs in particular are The Modest Mom (Caroline) and Large Families on Purpose (Erika), though there are also others that have helped me think through these things. Both Caroline and Erika are homeschooling moms with multiple children. I can tell you from reading their blogs that they each love the Lord, and their hearts are all about their families, and the women that they can love and serve through their writing.

The thing that struck me about these two beautiful women was that, while they have strong, unwavering, unshakable beliefs, they are so loving and kind that they present their beliefs in ways that make you want to hug them and know them better, not in such a way that you want to punch them in their respective noses. That is, in my experience with "church people" over the years, a unique grace, and one that I hope someday will be true of me. These women are living examples of that old saying about tact. You know the one. Tact is getting your point across without stabbing someone with it.

I know, as I read their blogs, that no one will ever convince Erika or Caroline to change their minds on something that God has taught them. I also know that, when either of them is confronted by people who have convictions opinions that are contradictory to what God teaches in His word and through His spirit, that she will love that person well, and instruct her in righteousness with grace. I know this, because I've read it. You can hear their hearts in their words. Modesty's not just a rule they live by, it's an outpouring of their love for God and their desire to live as God's woman, regardless of what others may or may not think.

The reason I'm talking about that here is that it is foundational to what modesty is all about. As C.J. Mahaney discusses it, modesty is about three things: the attitude, the appearance, and the allegiance of the modest woman. A woman who is truly modest, is modest in her heart first, due to the transforming effect of the gospel. This affects her appearance, and it conveys her allegiance. What Caroline and Erika write on their blogs is evidence of this transforming effect. Their hearts, their attitudes, and their allegiance are all evident, and the love they share is poured out visibly in their modesty of dress and appearance.

Caroline from The Modest Mom and Amy from Raising Arrows did a series called She Wears Skirts that bounced back and forth between their blogs. The series talks about why they wear skirts, and not pants. It talks about the convictions that God had given them regarding the modesty of their appearance, and it goes into much more detail than I will here, about why they believe it's more modest and less distracting, more feminine and less lust-provoking to wear skirts.

The bottom line of these ladies' personal dress codes? They are motivated by love. They want to love their Christian brothers well, by not distracting them from what God has for them to do, and by not inspiring in them anything that would cause them to fight a battle with sin and lust.

As I began to say in the first part of this series, I have been realizing that my personal clothing choices are evidence of the state of my heart, and that has become a matter of great concern to me. I'll tell you this, it's hard to look attractive, and be modestly dressed, when you're busty. Even if the rest of me is appropriately attired, sheer volume in the chest area can be an issue. It's difficult to find shirts or dresses that fit properly in the chest and don't look like a sack of potatoes on the rest of me. I'm growing resigned to the fact that I fare better wearing skirts and blouses/shirts than dresses, in most cases, and many times more than one layer on top.

It's tough, for someone who is as warm-natured as I am, to wear multiple layers in the summer without overheating. I've learned that certain fabrics are more comfortable than others, and that tighter layers are often less breathable. Nobody wants to sweat all the time. Want to know something funny? I've found that wearing sleeveless or strappy shirts doesn't create as much of a wicking effect as wearing a couple of layers. I actually sweat less, and look (and feel) fresher if I'm wearing a shirt with sleeves, and more so with a cami or tank under it. All that moisture gets absorbed and dissipates faster. I don't know how it works, but it does.

My personal opinion on this is that when I make modesty a deciding factor in what I choose to wear, God honors that, and He takes care of my comfort, too. He knows when I'm doing right, when my heart is right, and He honors it. If it wasn't important, it wouldn't be addressed in the Bible. If it's important to God, then it should be important to me. If I seek always to please my heavenly Father, then why not do something He's already said is pleasing to Him?

Let's look at a little bit of Mahaney's sermon, taken from 1Timothy, chapter 2:
The 'women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel.' That would be her appearance. And her attitude is emphasized... 'with modesty and self-control.' All respectable apparel is the fruit of a godly heart. Ladies, your wardrobe is a public statement of your personal and private motivation. And if you profess godliness, your motivation is to be distinct from our culture... It is to be motivated by modesty and self-control... 
A modest heart always precedes modest dress. Modesty is humility expressed in dress, a desire to serve others, particularly men, and not promote or provoke sensuality or lust. Modesty, self-control... Moderation for the purpose of purity...
John MacArthur has written, 'How does a woman discern the sometimes fine line between proper dress and dressing to be the center of attention? The answer starts in the intent of the heart. A woman should examine her motives and goals for the way she dresses. Is her intent to show the grace and beauty of womanhood? Is it to reveal a humble heart devoted to worshiping God? Or is it to call attention to herself and flaunt her beauty, or worse, to attempt to allure men sexually? A woman who focuses on worshiping God will consider carefully how she is dressed, because her heart will dictate her wardrobe and appearance.'
Whose attention do you desire, and whose approval do you crave?...
Is your wardrobe modest, evidencing self-control and respectable apparel? Every outfit, no exceptions?
...what is to be noticeable about a woman professing godliness is not her wardrobe, but her good works. There is to be this observable lifestyle of serving others. That is the appropriate... godly adornment for women who profess to be Christians. That is, in effect, the transforming effect of the gospel...
What is most eye catching about you-- your clothing, or your character?
See, Paul isn't simply advocating modesty in dress. He is insisting that more time be devoted, more energy be devoted to spiritual adornment in the form of good works. And he is warning about excessive attention devoted to appearance to the neglect of good works. 
Please, please do not misinterpret. Do not misunderstand. Do not misapply this message. Paul is not a conservative... This isn't some general appeal for morality. This, modesty, it is about the gospel... That is the transforming effect of the gospel. Modest hearts, respectable apparel, good works. The woman who loves the Savior avoids immodesty because she doesn't want at any time to distract from or reflect poorly upon the gospel.
That is the godly woman's concern-- that her attitude and her appearance reveal her allegiance to this Savior who was her substitute and provided her the ransom from her sin. And so, there is to be no contradiction between her profession of godliness and her practice of godliness. 
~Excerpted from "The Soul of Modesty"
C.J. Mahaney
29 January 2008 

Moderation for the purpose of purity. The fruit of a godly heart. A public statement of my personal and private motivation. Humility expressed in dress. There is to be no contradiction between my profession of godliness and my practice of godliness.

I can tell you, when I've ever thought about modesty, before now-- in all those high school conversations, in all the teaching I've heard-- it's always been about rules. It's always been about meeting some standard, measured in inches. Inches of length on skirts or shorts. Inches from the collarbone on the necklines of blouses, and heaven forfend you should even consider a halter top. Those are OUT. (Funny how some halter tops are more modest than some blouses with sleeves or tank-tops with the required one-inch width straps.)

1 Timothy 1:9 says that "the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate." In all those debates about the letter of the law versus the spirit of the law, we somehow missed this point. Modesty of dress is outward evidence of the state of our hearts. Immodesty is an expression of arrogance. Modesty is an expression of humility and love. It's not about the rules defining modesty as certain length or width. It's about being humble and loving, as Jesus is.

As I continue to pursue holiness, as the Holy Spirit brings to mind things that He wants me to address, I pray for humility. Pride has always been an issue for me. I believe it's the most ubiquitous and insidious of sins for all of us. It's what Lucifer embraced and got him kicked out of God's presence, and it was there in the garden of Eden. It's the seed of nearly every kind of sin I can imagine. As God continues to work in me to purge me of this, I have to keep addressing different areas. Now, modesty is the main one that God's working on in me.

I put a yellow sticky note in my closet where I can see it each time I dress. It says, "Immodesty is an expression of arrogance." I pray, when I see it, or when I think of it, that God would kill the root of pride in my heart. That He would overcome my arrogance and give me humility. I try to dress in ways that reflect the character that God is developing in me. I don't always succeed completely, but I'm learning as I go. God is faithful to teach me, each day. He is producing holiness, His holiness, in me. I pray that He would make me pure so that I can bring glory to His name.

Much love,

"This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our savior who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth... that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works."  ~1Timothy 2:3-4, 9-10 (NKJV)~

17 August 2012

Modesty Begins in the Heart: Part 1

(Created here)
I just finished taking 5 pages of notes on the sermon "The Soul of Modesty" by Pastor C.J. Mahaney (sermon audio and transcript available at the link), which is excerpted in the video I embedded in this post. (Video found, courtesy of The Modest Mom.) I hadn't realized that the link to the entire sermon was in the description on the video's youtube page. I'm SO glad I found it and was able to hear the entire sermon.

I grew up in a Christian home. My parents sent my brother and I to Christian schools. We were at church every time the door opened. We learned to volunteer, to serve, to have manners, and to live differently than those around us. 

I developed early, probably linked to my Polycystic Ovarian Disease. I was wearing a bra (not a training bra, mind you, the real thing) by third grade. I remember wearing a sun dress to my brother's baseball game one evening, right after getting bras. My mom looked at me, at the field, and said, "How come you're not wearing your new bra?" My response was, "I could see it through my dress." The dress was pretty, and girly, soft sunshine yellow and the front of it had white eyelet lace on it. She replied that if I could see my bra through the dress, then it was also possible to see my body through my dress. I think that was the first time that modesty, in an adult body sense ever dawned on my brain. 

At some point around the time of junior high, I suppose, I became aware more fully of the issue. My parents were always careful with my appearance. They made sure what I wore was modest, and I vaguely recall that being something discussed with clothing choices. 

In High School, I remember conversations about legalism in relation to modesty. Whole class periods were sometimes devoted to "discussions"  about the spirit of the law versus the letter of the law, legalism, what an appropriate standard should take into consideration, exceptions to the rules, etc. Sometimes I wonder what the teachers were thinking, letting this stuff rage on and never addressing the heart of the issue.

Our school had a policy that skirts (which were worn every day) must touch the floor when you kneel. Another school had a policy of 3" longer than fingertip length (which I thought was really odd, because especially during puberty when bodies are changing, arm-length doesn't always change at the same speed as height & leg-length...). Kneeling-length made sense to me. The rule even applied to our cheerleading skirts (which were actually skorts), and some people tried to play the "That's dangerous! They'll get tangled up when they do stunts!" card. (Which is ludicrous, I might add. We were never endangered by the length of our uniforms. Besides, if a stunt couldn't be done safely, we wouldn't have been permitted to do it.)

Having slogged our way through these murky waters, and having conformed to the touches-the-floor-while-kneeling standard, I (and probably most of the girls from my school) thought I had a pretty basic understanding of modesty. Got it. I'm good. I know it when I see it. No, really. That is, until God started bringing it to my attention, just this year.

I'm thirty-two years old. I'm a very visually-stimulated person. I have to be very cautious with shows that I watch, pictures I see, books I read, because I get mental images in my mind that I can't get rid of. 

That creepy scene from that movie? Yeah, it may not give me a nightmare tonight, but 6 years from now, I might have one. It stays in there. I've learned that if the preview is creepy or seems dark or twisted, it's better that I don't see it at all. I've learned that it's safer for me to avert my eyes when I see a guy jogging down the street shirtless, because I don't ever want to compare my husband to him, or have that image of him pop up at a time when my focus should be on something else. I've learned that my mind will construct images to go with things I read, so I need to restrict my reading habits to things that are going to give me good mental images, not sinful ones.

In this way, my brain is wired much more like a man's than like most women's. Part of that is probably due to the over-production of testosterone and androgen in a woman with polycystic ovaries, but whatever the cause, the end result is the same. It makes me more aware of what men deal with on a daily basis. So I've become very protective of my mind and my imagination over the last few years. 

Yet, I still thought I didn't have any misunderstandings about modesty, even while wearing clothing that showcased my cleavage, my hourglass shape, or was simply too tight. God has been systematically revealing to me, over recent months, that the things I know I have to guard my mind from and avoid are the same things that I have exposed my brothers in Christ to, and that they must guard their minds, eyes, and hearts from me. Whoa. 

Stay tuned for Part 2.

Much love,

13 August 2012

My Best Friend(s): Mumsy

Mumsy by our pool in Raymore
Yes, I really do call her Mumsy. Or, occasionally, Momma. Mumsy can be abbreviated Mmz, but if your phone (or other tech gadget) has the feature where it announces who is calling, or a voice recognition feature, it will NOT, I repeat NOT recognize MMZ as "Mumsy," just in case you were wondering. A few phones back, I had the caller announcement feature turned on, and it always said, "Incoming call from M. M. Z." She calls me "Tootsie" which gets abbreviated as 2tz. Aren't we cute?

{Random sidenote: a few weeks ago, I had my phone on the car dock while driving and somehow it decided it was going to read incoming text messages to me. My husband responded to my most recent message (sent before driving, by the way) with "Kk" and it sounded like it was clearing its throat. It was hilarious! "Message from Husband: (gagging sound). Say 'repeat' to repeat." Of COURSE I repeated it. Half a dozen times. "(gagging sound)" "Repeat!" "(gagging sound)" "Repeat!"...}

I just got off the phone with her and was thinking about how I needed to write this post. Part of the trouble I've had is deciding where to begin on the posts about each of my parents. There's just so much to say, and it's so personal, and important, and heart-felt. How do you begin to say all that a parent really means? Where do I start? Childhood? Now? Parenting? Friendship? What aspect do I feature first, and how do I begin to cover all that I mean to say?

All that, and a snappy dress-er, too!
Last night I finished a book (shocker) called "Managers of Their Homes" by Steven and Teri Maxwell. I was telling my Mumsy about it, and after we hung up, I started getting a little teary-eyed. You see, she has always been the very best example of what godly womanhood looks like. I don't think I've ever heard anyone speak badly of her, or even neutrally of her, for that matter. She is a woman of honor and grace, kindness and gentility, an embodiment of the fruits of the Spirit, if ever I've met one. I've never known a person, male or female, who was as caring and considerate as my mother. If I've ever needed an example, a word of encouragement, good advice, or listening ear, she's the one who could provide each of those things best.

I may have mentioned previously that when I got married last year, I had high expectations of myself. Part of the reason for that is due to the fact that this beautiful lady has shown me all my life that it's possible to have an organized, clean home, deliberate relationships, be calm, cool, and collected, yet warm, open, and inviting, and look good doing it. Let's just say that I found out that takes practice. Lots, and lots, and lots, and LOTS of practice. I'm getting there, little by little, and she's my own personal cheerleading squad, encouraging from the sidelines, handing out compliments, encouragement, and even the occasional (much-needed, usually) kick in the pants. *Smile*

Momma visiting me for my birthday,
my semester in Europe.
Zurich, CH airport.
My mom was amazing when I was a kid. She managed our home with aplomb, baking homemade bread on a weekly basis, keeping up with countless correspondents, volunteering in the church, and creating such a welcoming environment that we seldom went to friends' houses. They all wanted to come to ours! She taught me songs like "Ferdinand the Bull" and "Summertime" (from Porgy & Bess), Bible verses and lessons, and poems that taught me more about who she was and how I want to be than she might ever know.

"I have wept through the night
For the shortness of  sight
That to somebody's need made me blind,
But I never have yet
Felt a twinge of regret
For being a little too kind."
No wonder no one has anything bad to say about her! What mean thing can you say about someone whose whole mission in life is always to be a little kinder to everyone around them?
And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. ~Ephesians 4:32, NKJV~
There was this one time that she was trying to get us to read this book ("Enthusiasm Makes the Difference," by Norman Vincent Peale) together as a family. I don't remember where she got it, or why she wanted to read it to us, but it, for whatever reason, wasn't something we wanted to read. I still remember the little cheerleading cheer she used to do around the house, trying to get us excited to read this book. I also still remember some of the places we used to hide that book from her. :) When I called her to ask if that was the right book, she said, "Yes, why? Would you like me to send it to you?"

Mumsy, my sister, and I were
bridesmaids in my sister's wedding.
August 2005
Back to the Managers of Their Homes book... This book was written for homeschooling families, to help them develop a livable, functional schedule when there are many people doing many things in what is sometimes a very small space. It is an EXCELLENT book. I actually bought two, one for me, and one for a gift for someone else. It's going on my favorites list.

So I was telling Mumsy about this book that I had just finished, and how excellent I thought it was. I sat there and read her a few of the parts I had underlined, over the phone, and then told her how well I felt it fit in with how she had taught me to order my homemaking to-do items.

I'll probably write a whole post on this later, but when I was in elementary school, Mumsy taught me to keep track of the things I need to get done, using an index card file. I'm naturally a "creative" type individual. (Yes, in quotation marks.) In other words, I don't naturally fall on the organized-and-squared-away side of things. That doesn't mean that I don't have order around me, just that my version of "order" may not appear orderly to any outside observer.

I, like my father, tend to live in piles. They drive me bonkers, but that's my tendency. My mother, on the other hand, lives by lists. She's a very squared away individual, but she's so warm that it's not a condescending form of order. (My mind goes to Martha Stewart, here.) When I got married, she (Mumsy, not Martha) spent a whole day with me helping me prepare and organize a new index card file, because I asked her to. I knew that if she could do it so well for so many years, that she could help me do it, too. She did.

Correspondent Extraordinaire!
This is the woman who remembers to send greeting cards for all occasions to most of the people she's met in her life. Birthdays, Anniversaries, Condolences, Easter, Thanksgiving, St. Patrick's Day, Tuesdays-- all are worthy of cards. Anytime she travels anywhere, the kids and grandkids get postcards. She travels often, though not usually very far.

I have no idea how much she spends on postage and cards each year, but I'm betting it's its own line item in my parents' budget. She taught me her secrets to that, too. Now, my husband's side of the family are surprised to have begun receiving mementos and cards as times and seasons pass. It's something he says I do well. I know better. It's something I wouldn't think to do at all, but my Mumsy taught me to make others in my life a priority.

So, the woman who has told me regularly for the last however many years that I'm her hero, is really mine. If the subject has ever come up in conversation, you've probably heard me say, "I hope that someday I can be half the woman that my mom is." And it's true. She's the truest of friends, the noblest of mothers, the most honorable of women, the most steadfast of prayer warriors, and the humblest of Christ-followers. When I look at her, I see all I want to be, the goodness, the honesty, the love, the kindness, the faithfulness, the (yes) enthusiasm, the organization, the intentionality, the awareness, the loyalty, the humor, the delight, the dignity, the hilarity, the joy... The list goes on and on. This is the woman I am blessed, beyond belief, to call my Mumsy. My Best Friend.

Much love,
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you. 
~Philippians 4:8-9, NKJV, Mumsy's favorite passage~

09 August 2012

Thankful Thursdays: 8/9/12

Source Unknown
This morning, I slept through my alarm, woke up groggy, and am struggling to get started with the day. I've been up for a long time, and I'm still struggling to get going.

The thing that strikes me in this moment is an intense feeling of gratitude that the God I serve loves me, even when my strength isn't enough. He provides so well for me, from the warm bed that I struggled to leave this morning, to the comfortable clothes I'm wearing, to the job that allows me to telecommute (which eases a rough morning), to the husband who remembers to kiss me good-bye in the morning (even when I'm sound asleep),  to the mother who calls me to look something up for her online and relies on me in little ways quite often, to the strength He gives me to share with others, to the wisdom He regularly provides simply because I ask for it, and on and on and on...

(Mother of a run-on sentence, eh?)

I'm thankful today. Many of our friends are going through rough times, relationally, right now, and I carry burdens with them as they move through trying days. Those burdens make me all the more thankful that God has given me so much, and that He continues to give strength, grace, and wisdom, even when I feel inadequate.

I said to my darling husband last night, "Thank you for making all my dreams come true." He said that he hadn't done that. I proceeded to list some of my dreams that he actively has fulfilled, and more that we're working toward fulfilling. God has poured out blessing upon blessing on us.

There are days when the 'to do' list seems long, almost unconquerable. There are days when the magnitude of the list of 'sinking funds' we need to fill is overwhelming, considering our income. But, day after day, God continues to provide. He gives us the ability to do things we never thought we could. He lets us chip away at our lists, in His good time. He gives us just the right resource at just the right moment. He reminds us that He's not passive-- He's actively working things together for our good, even while we're completely unaware of His hand. (Blog post that reminded me of that this morning.)

I had a teacher in High School who managed to freak out some of the class with the statement that she believes we will work in heaven. I think the class, generally, was under the assumption that we'd all be lounging about on puffy, soft clouds being comfortable and at ease. Maybe that wasn't the assumption, but the reactions from my classmates to that statement were all over the board.

When I think of days when I've done hard work and am exhausted, falling into bed at night, knowing I've accomplished something, I tend to believe that Miss Taylor had it right. What good would life be with no purpose? What good would ETERNAL life be with nothing to accomplish? So, maybe we don't know what that will entail, exactly, but if God is working toward our good, and He's already in eternity-- if He's writing beautiful stories, if He's orchestrating these incredible adventures, why would we think we won't, too? We're made in His image, after all, so I'm guessing we'll be about His work, then, just as He asks us to be, now.

So, maybe I'm rambling here. It's just that my gratitude is for all the places where I see the hand of God working, and my excitement that in some of those places, He has called me to step alongside Him. I pray that I become worthy of His calling. I pray that there is something of me that is of value that He can use. And I thank Him that daily He shows me that there is.

Happy Thankful Thursday!


02 August 2012

Thankful Thursdays

One of the things I've decided I need to do is be more thankful. In part, this means saying "thank you" more often. In part it means having a good attitude about life. In part it means writing posts like this one, aptly falling into the category of "Thankful Thursdays."

Today, I choose to be thankful for adulthood and what comes with it. There is great privilege in this country, and we (all of us) take it for granted to some degree or another. One of those privileges is the chance to take responsibility for our own well-being. Most wouldn't consider responsibility a privilege, but rather more of a downside of privilege. I consider freedom from a tyrannical rule, which allows me to take responsibility for my own actions and life, to be an enormous blessing.

I have a responsibility to do right, to love and respect my husband, to treat others with kindness, and to honor my God with my very being. These are blessings that I don't take lightly. As Romans 6 says, I am in slavery to righteousness, and free from sin. I'm thankful that I'm no longer in slavery to sin and free from righteousness. I'm thankful that my service to righteousness includes the ability to take responsibility for my actions. May I live responsibly, with a thankful heart..

Happy Thursday!

Much love,

01 August 2012

Chick-Fil-A day in Greenville...

Look at the line!
I met a new friend at Chick-Fil-A for lunch today. She goes to my church. We decided to go early to beat the lunch rush. No dice. I was there before 11:30, and the drive-thru was already backed up twice around the building, no parking spots available. I went inside, and there was standing room only. By noon, the inside line wound outside and around the front of the building. See?

It goes out the door, and around the outside of the building...
By the time we left, the drive-thru line went around twice, with a third row to exit. There were staff members standing out in the parking lot directing traffic, because there wasn't enough room for people to leave after going through the drive-thru lane. The traffic backed up out of both entrances, blocking traffic on the street.

These rows of cars are 3 deep (which you can't see in this picture)... 1 row of drive thru, one row waiting to get into the drive thru, and one row exiting.
The way that I went as I left, the entire right lane of the road (Pelham is 2 lanes each way with a center turn lane at that point) was backed up almost 3 blocks, at a standstill.

Southerners take this kind of thing SERIOUSLY!

I would love to know how much more Chick-Fil-A makes today than they do on an average Wednesday, after the count is done.. It was really crazy! I've never in my life seen so many people at a fast-food restaurant. CRAZY!

Much love, dipped in Chick-Fil-A sauce (which is highly addictive, if you haven't tried it),