"Its orient tinge, like spring-time morn,Or baby-buttercups newly-born;Its balmy perfume, delicate pulp,One longs to swallow it all at a gulp,Sure man had ne'er such gifts or themeAs your melt-in-mouthy Devonshire cream."A eulogy on a can of cream sent from a lady in Exeter.—William Barry Peacock, Manchester, 1853
“So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother's way.”
“Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”
Picture Credit: ultrakickgirl
|Photo Credit: Courtney Dirks|
Note: All photos taken by Mama or Mikaela.
“For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, andthen He will reward each according to his works.”
“The LORD repay your work, and a full reward be given you by the LORD God ofIsrael, under whose wings you have come for refuge.”
"For the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying ofthe body of Christ....from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by whatevery joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every partdoes its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love(Ephesians 4:12, 16)."
No sisters are going to be exactly alike, not even identical twins! Mikaela and I do have different approaches and personalities, and we have had to learn to work together in a way that capitalizes on each of our strengths, rather than getting annoyed by what the other person is or is not. This really came to the forefront several years ago when Mikaela and I did a piano recital to support our Caring Pregnancy Center. There were churches and pianos to research, posters to be made and distributed, e-mails to be sent, a reception to be worried about, advertisements to be made, and the list went on and on.
Just because I say that we rarely fight does not mean that we do not disagree—a few months ago we actually disagreed on a political point for the first time. But a minor problem (Um…you stained that shirt and didn’t even bother to wash it? Do you realize you are making me late for my appointment?) does not have to escalate into a full-blown argument.
I can’t tell you the number of times Mikaela and I got in trouble for talking when we should have been sleeping. While we should have chosen more appropriate times for our chats, our tongues have definitely never had trouble wagging at each other! And therein lies an important truth: you are never going to have a good relationship with your sisters if you do not invest in their lives. So plan fun girly things like nail-painting parties and sleepovers and tea parties. But also pour out your hearts when you’re doing the dishes, and ask your sister to pray for you when you’re struggling with a weakness, and have Bible studies together.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
1st picture: MixedUpMedia/Mari W
2nd picture: LAC/BAC
3rd picture: LAC/BAC
Stopping there, in the middle of an asphalt lake, with water streaming down her body, she contemplates. It’s hard for her to discern if the liquid flowing over her eyelashes and her nose and her mouth and her neck is merely precipitation or if it is also tears.
She has felt trapped these last weeks, like someone has locked her into a chest freezer, and she is alone in the darkness, with the cold turning her heart to ice, and the carbon dioxide air poisoning her to death. Now she could just end it. She could put an end to the pain, the suffering, the darkness, and the cold. Life seems like such a silly choice right now, when that life means being imprisoned in a freezer. Death seems like the logical—the only right thing to do. Spare everyone the embarassment, the anguish, the sacrifice. Just end it, and be done.
She shivers as moisture seeps through her green peacoat and collides with her skin. She brushes back her inky bangs and steps hesitantly forward again. Oh? Did she lock the car? She rushes back to check, grateful for any excuse to prolong the inevitable. But then, she has to stumble back into the middle of the parking lot. Before her are two offices—sharing a wall, even—and one offers her life, and one offers her death. Only she doesn’t look at it quite like that. One offers her responsibility, and one offers her freedom.
Freedom. Freedom from all this. She takes a step to the left.
Responsibility. Duties and jobs and liability. She takes another step to the left. Trust and love and maybe—someday—a chance to get out of this steel box. She wavers. She grabs her drenched hair and pulls it into a ponytail with her fingers and then lets go of the strands again. She takes a step to the right, thinking of the memories, the opportunities, and the love. The love.
She jumps in fright as the left door opens and another girl walks out. The young woman is alive—she is walking. But she doesn’t seem alive. There is nothing in the eyes. Like an incredible 3-D performance-capture creation on a life-size theater screen, she looks the part, but there is no twinkle, no personality, no love—no life.
And then the girl looks to the right again. Perhaps, just perhaps, she should try it. If life doesn’t work out, after all, she can always come back and try the left door. But if she tries the left door now, well, she’ll never know about the right door.
Shivering uncontrollably, as if she is about to have a seizure, she walks through the right door. It is warm and bright, and somewhere, soft music is playing. And a beautiful woman looks up at her from behind the desk—behind her eyes is life and light.
“Honey, can I help you?” the woman asks.
The girl rubs her stomach and looks down at her belly. Life. For the first time in her seventeen years, someone just cracked open the lid, and there is light, life, and love waiting for her outside.
“The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.”
“But we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness.”
His form was emaciated. So horrifyingly thin that it was painful to look at him. His hair was big and styled, forming a very peculiar headpiece for a man. His face was pierced many times through with holes, with metal jewelry threaded through the punctures. His voice had that whining feminine tone to it that so many men today have chosen to adopt to proclaim that they are not men. Finally, his clothes—overly stylized and overly feminine—completed the picture.
I noted that the video I was watching was from 2009, and I had some sort of gut feeling that he could not have possibly survived another two years in the path that he had chosen, but I clicked on his channel page anyways, hoping against hope. A shock ran through my system, however, when the page loaded. The wallpaper? “God is Holy.” The videos? Prayer chains, verses to live by, and wishes for a happy birthday to Jesus. This was radical. Anxious to uncover this mystery, I soon found a video entitled “CRISIS.” So I watched. I watched an emaciated, pierced, tattooed man breaking down as he recounted how his mother and he were being forced out of the house his father had built.
Johnny was beside himself from financial troubles, health troubles, and mental troubles—he was nervewracked, stressed, emotional, unstable, and lost. Here he was, humbled, sick, lost, and desperate: it was as though he had been turned inside out, and instead of wearing the mask of a face and skin, he was wearing his heart. Pierced and struggling, sinful and black, ghastly and haggard. Only three days later, however, he posted another video, and suddenly, he was a different man, mellow and full of joy that, try as he might, he could hardly express. His financial crisis had led him to call his pastor, and within twenty-four hours of turning back to God, he providentially had a place to sleep and live.
I only watched a few more of his videos, but in each one, I saw change. I saw him weeping as he took out his piercings because he “didn’t need them anymore.” I saw him rejoicing and dumbfounded that God had completely taken away his addiction to bulimia. I saw him give up his feminine clothes and decorations. And then I watched one of his most recent videos, and my eyes filled with tears. Now before me was a man with neatly clipped hair, a trimmed goatee, a wonderfully healthy body, and a face that held no metallic distractions. I was pulled in straight to his eyes—peaceful, joyful, and full of the love of God. Once again, I didn’t see a face or skin or hair—I saw his heart, and it was beautiful, plump, and pure. “My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips (Psalm 63:5).”
This took me back to my own transformation at the age of three. However young that might seem to you, I remember the moment in the back of the car the day after Resurrection Sunday. I remember that I submitted my life to God, that I gave back to Him what He had rightfully owned all along. That I lost what I could not keep, and allowed a new Captain to man the ship. As young as I was, my heart was as destructive, malnourished, rebellious, and black as Johnny’s—it just had not had a chance to manifest itself so vividly on the outside. But that moment that God washed my heart clean and white and pure was as miraculous and as transformative as the scenes I saw on You Tube. And that is why I wept, because Johnny reminded me of myself, both before and after Jesus saved me. His joy and excitement brought back the vivid memory of my three year-old self careening into my aunt and uncle’s house, desperate to tell every single person of the incredible gift I had just been given.
The understanding came later. The commitment, the baptism, the spiritual disciplines—those all came later. But the joy, the freedom, the relief, and the peace--that was instantaneous. So whether you are the "before" image of Johnny and the three year old, or the "after" image, don’t miss your opportunity. Choose you this day Whom you will serve, and then get out there and share the good news with others in obedience. Johnny would have been the last person I would have chosen to walk up to and witness to. Thank goodness God doesn’t work like that, because if He did, I would have been the last person He rescued.
Photo Credit: Ex-In Transit
We have drawn the winners of our giveaway! Thank you all for entering and for putting such thought into those great questions. We'll be getting to them throughout the year, so keep watch!
Congratulations, Samantha--you won the blog design from Ara!
Elizabeth and Abby each won a charm.
We'll be getting in touch with you ladies shortly!