Lauren and Mikaela--identical twins living on opposite coasts--blog about the story of life and their adventures in faith.

1.31.2012

My Pleasure

“Most of them want to come for reasons other than serving or helping, so I require something of them. Those kids have money to burn and closets full of designer clothes!” I overheard a friend talking about his ministry to the homeless in Portland, OR. Of course, my conscience contentedly patted me on the back—I had gone to help him this past fall, doling out hot breakfast, warm clothes, hygiene essentials, encouraging words, and friendly smiles for four hours in the pouring rain.

My friend, however, wasn’t done. “So, there’s a few junior-highers that still come every month. And you know what they say to me when we’re done? ‘I had fun.’ And I think, ‘I didn’t bring you out here to have fun! I didn’t want you to have fun! Tell me you were shocked or humbled or embarrassed—but don’t tell me you had fun!’” He paused a moment to consider. “Maybe these kids can’t be shocked anymore…maybe ‘I had fun’ is the only way they can express themselves.”

Photo Credit
I moved on, but my thoughts stayed on this conversation. I could have just as easily been one of those flippant teenagers saying, “Thanks! Watching five year old homeless boys come out of the woodwork to get a hot meal was fun! I had a great time!” In fact, I could remember many serving opportunities I had judged by the measure of enjoyment they provided.


We insincerely say “it was my pleasure” as if our entertainment is the highest compliment we can pay to another human being, when it is often just an indicator of our sinful hearts. In this egotistical, self-centered, instant-gratification society of ours, we seek one thing above all others: amusement. The US spent $10,632,527,005[1] (yes, that’s BILLION) on movie tickets alone in 2009—and that doesn’t even begin to include the total entertainment budget. As the world becomes increasingly humanistic and men fall on their faces in awe and worship of themselves, the highest fulfillment—the greatest compliment—the most rewarding purpose has become fun. We are becoming “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God (II Timothy 3:4).”

A commercial I recently saw was advertising a website with thousands of movies available for instant streaming. “In fact,” the geeky guy exclaimed as he touted his company, “It would take you an entire year to watch all of the titles we have available!” Then he got a dreamy, far-away look in his eyes (or maybe it was just a dumb, idle stupidity—I couldn’t tell). “That would be the best year of my life.” Everyday, men and women pursue the fleeting sensation of fun—and this cotton-candy-like experience claims costly, nonrefundable hours of one’s time. Time, though, is pocket change compared to what many people sell to fuel their addiction: their souls.


So what is a Christian to do? Shun all movies? Live like a medieval monk? Read only the Scripture? Boycott Monopoly? Ultimately, of course, we must come to terms with Hebrews 11:25: “Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.” John Piper offers a practical and sobering suggestion too: "think about your death. Think about your death a lot....I think about the impact of death, and what I would like to be found doing, and how I would prepare to meet him and give an account to him (see the endnote to read his excellent article in its entirety).[2]" When we have chosen to suffer with God’s people and shun sinful amusement, then we can experience the ecstasy of a God Who fulfills the desires of our heart above and beyond what we could ever imagine. Psalms 35:27 says, “Let them shout for joy, and be glad, that favour my righteous cause: yea, let them say continually, Let the LORD be magnified, which hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servant.”


However, may we remember in all our doings and prosperity to say first and foremost, “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created (Revelations 4:11).” Therefore, the next time you go out to brighten your corner, consider changing your typical “Oh—it was my pleasure!” to something more profound and honest. It’s not all about you, and it’s not all about fun, but it certainly is all about God.


 

"My Pleasure" was originally posted on One Bright Corner on January 12, 2010.

Photo Credit: Cliffjamester. Used by permission under the Creative Commons License.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson,
   Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.



[1] "Movie Market Summary for Year 2009." The Numbers - Movie Box Office Data, Film Stars, Idle Speculation. Nash Information Services, LLC, Jan. 2010. http://www.the-numbers.com/market/2009.php.

[2] Piper, John. "How Can I Break Free from an Addiction to Entertainment?" Desiring God. Desiring God, 25 May 2009. http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/ask-pastor-john/how-can-i-break-free-from-an-addiction-to-entertainment.

1.27.2012

Roses Are Red

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Every Valentine's Day for the past 10 or more years, a beautiful bouquet of red roses has been handed to me by my Valentine--my Papa.  When I was younger, I used to proudly declare to friends, "My boyfriend gave me these roses!" and then hasten to explain away their confusion.  I thought I was so cute! 

It's not quite time for the Valentine roses yet, but I have already exchanged Valentines with this man who has my heart.  It all started when, several weeks ago, Tiffany announced she was doing a giveaway of three essential oils.  All you had to do was write a Valentine's poem that began with "Roses are red" and then passionately beg, borrow, or steal the most votes for your poem.  This was an interesting idea, but I wasn't really inspired at first.  After all, I'm a single girl, not in a relationship, so what could I write about Valentine's Day?

And then it hit me. 

Roses are red,
The sky is blue.
Daddy,will you be my Valentine?
I'm keeping my heart with you.

I sent it in and e-mailed the link off to Papa so he could vote.  When he arrived home that evening, he smiled, hugged me, and said that since I wrote a poem, he had to write one back to me. With anticipation, I hurried up to my computer.  I vaguely remembered Mama saying that Papa had written her beautiful love poems before they were married, but I was not prepared for what I found embedded in his vote:

Roses are red, an elegant hue,
Graceful, exquisite, just like you!

Beauty and radiance, reflecting the Son,
Growing in Christ, ‘til the day is done.

I cherish the rose, I water and feed,
I turn up the soil, meet every need.

Prune the dry limbs, repair the fence,
Enjoy the beauty and the pleasance.

The Master Gardner will bring a new vine,
For you are His own, you’re really not mine.

Engraft your heart, the new vine will nourish,
Your delicate bloom will continue to flourish.

But until then, I’ll cherish your heart,
Guarding it always, we’ll never part.

Yes, I cried.  I just went to a funeral where a daughter had to sing to her Daddy in Heaven, so I cried.  I've seen too many daughters whose Daddies don't cherish them, water them, feed them, or prune them, so I cried because I am so blessed with such a godly father.  I realized that this stage in life in my father's house won't last forever, so I cried. My Valentine's Day came early this year, and that's just fine with me! 

If you are interested in voting for this father-daughter duo (which is currently not in the lead), then head over here and cast your vote for #1.  The votes must be in before Friday is over!

1.24.2012

Called to Deny


“’For Christians, every day we're called to a life of biblical self-denial,’ [Alan Chambers] says. ‘We take up our cross and follow Christ, and we deny what comes naturally.’ But he says denial isn't without reward: ‘Those who reject the concept of self-denial haven't reaped the joys that come with it.’
“Self-denial isn't a new concept to Chambers. The 39-year-old president of Exodus International—a Christian ministry that helps people struggling with homosexuality—grew up in a Christian home but embraced homosexuality as a teenager. But through years of an active gay lifestyle, Chambers couldn't shake the biblical conviction that what came naturally to him was also sinful. He didn't want to be gay[1].”
Whether you call yourself a Christian or merely a “good citizen” with moral standards and codes of ethics, you choose to deny yourself every day. You deny yourself the the wish for those luxuriously supple leather shoes because you cannot afford them and you will not steal. You deny yourself the temptation to eat the last slice of double-layered chocolate fudge cake because you know your daughter will want a piece when she gets home. You avoid those friends with wrong influences, refrain from illegal drugs, and don’t pull a gun on the woman who cut in line—all because you believe in right and wrong to some extent or another.

And whether you like to admit it or not, your moral code is inextricably based on God’s moral code—His standard of absolute right and wrong laid out in Scripture and imprinted upon our conscience (see Exodus 20). For denying ourselves is not evil—it is good, and something which everyone but sociopaths and psychotics have come to terms with in one way or another. Christians, however, are called to habitually deny themselves, not because they believe themselves to be good, but because they recognize their own sin natures and rely upon the strength of God to live blameless and harmless in the world.

Although there are many moral battles for this generation, the truly current moral battle is that of homosexuality. 2011 was the first year that a majority (53%) of Americans stated that they believed homosexual marriage should be recognized by law[2]. 56% of Americans now believe that homosexuality is morally acceptable, a number which has steadily grown since the 2001 number of 40%[3]. On our watch, we have played the audience to the runaway success of homosexuality, debuting as "morality" and receiving widespread acclaim from critics.

Homosexuality, however, is morally wrong. God, through His Word, has declared it to be such. "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God (I Corinthians 6:9-10)." Homosexuals are not created differently and then unjustly turned on their head by a god who has a personal vendetta against their orientation. No, they are created in the image and likeness of God, just as I am, and they are born with a virulent sin nature, just as I am. They must deny their sin nature each and every day, just as I must, and they should be treated with the same compassion and support as I am by those who keep me accountable. Homosexuality is no different than theft, addiction, libel, bribes, or adultery--except that many of these sins are still deemed immoral and illegal by those around us.

If you are a Christian, then recognize God’s Word for what it says, and hold up that standard of Truth with love and mercy. Defend morality against the onslaught of media, politics, and liberal churches. Do not base your definition of morality upon the whims of culture, but upon the unchanging and infallible God of the universe. Stand upon God’s Word and act now: for future generations. 2012 is a year of crisis, a determining factor in this millenial battle of good versus evil. Furthermore, if you live in Washington State, you have a special task for today.

A bill (Senate Bill 6239 and House Bill 2516) is making its way to the House and Senate floors which would cause “Washington [to] join New York, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and the District of Columbia in legalizing gay marriage. The state has had a domestic partnership law since 2007, and an ‘everything but marriage’ law since 2009[4].”

People line up outside an overflow room for a
Senate committee hearing on SB6239 that would legalize
same-sex marriage, Monday, Jan. 23, 2012, at the Capitol
in Olympia, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

 One of the variations of the bill being considered would even require couples (whether straight or gay) to take each other as "spouses" instead of as "man and wife" in marriage[5]. The bill would also add a discrimination section to the Washington Marriage Code, raising the potential for future litigation of “discriminators”[6].

The liberal sponser of the bill, Rep. Jamie Pederson, D-Seattle was exhorting his supporters, but what he said has much relevance to the Christians as well: "I want to re-emphasize that we fully expect that this issue is going to end up on the ballot. People should not be complacent [7].”

Washington State needs your prayers and your action. Please use this simple form below to email your senator and representatives. And please proclaim morality in 2012.






Photo Credit: Chris Moncus. Used by permission.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

[1] Dean, Jamie. "2011 Daniel of the Year: Alan Chambers: Change We Can Believe In." World 17 Dec. 2011. http://www.worldmag.com/articles/18908.

[2] Newport, Frank. "For First Time, Majority of Americans Favor Legal Gay Marriage: Republicans and Older Americans Remain Opposed." Gallup Politics. Gallup, Inc, 20 May 2011. http://www.gallup.com/poll/147662/First-Time-Majority-Americans-Favor-Legal-Gay-Marriage.aspx

[3] Jones, Jeffrey M. "Support for Legal Gay Relations Hits New High." Gallup Politics. Gallup, Inc., 25 May 2011. http://www.gallup.com/poll/147785/Support-Legal-Gay-Relations-Hits-New-High.aspx.

[4] Corte, Rachel La. "Washington Has Enough Votes to Legalize Gay Marriage." The Associated Press. The Associated Press, 23 Jan. 2012. http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_XGR_GAY_MARRIAGE?SITE=NCAGW.

[5] Faust, Rebecca. "Family Policy Institute of Washington - Washington’s Voice for Families - Senate Committee Will Consider Substitute Bill." Family Policy Institute of Washington. Family Policy Institute of Washington, 22 Jan. 2012. http://www.fpiw.org/about/family-policy-blog/senate-committee-will-consider-substitute-bill.html.

[6] Fuiten, Joe. "Pastors, Are You Ready for a Gay Wedding in Your Sanctuary?" Family Policy Institute of Washington. Family Policy Institute of Washington, 17 Jan. 2012. http://www.fpiw.org/about/family-policy-blog/pastors,-are-you-ready-for-a-gay-wedding-in-your-sanctuary.html.

[7] Corte, Rachel La. "Washington Has Enough Votes to Legalize Gay Marriage." The Associated Press. The Associated Press, 23 Jan. 2012. http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_XGR_GAY_MARRIAGE?SITE=NCAGW.

1.20.2012

Fount of Fonts: A Fairy Tale

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Once upon a time, there was a village wherein every person had one day been given a special gift.  When any inhabitant of this place spoke, their words floated through the air as letters from a book, and they could be seen as they were spoken.  You could see tongues lashing their words to the timeline of history.  This gift had its benefits.  For one thing, it made the question, “What did you say?” quite archaic, as everyone’s words trailed out behind them endlessly and it was easy to read a sentence your ears missed.  But as you can imagine, there were also difficulties. 

The inhabitants of the town could watch the Times New Roman shoot from a boy's lips, all angles, and embed in his sister’s heart.  They could see feeble diplomatic truisms fade as soon as they appeared, like a double rainbow in a noon sky.  These gifted citizens could watch someone’s lips moving, but see issuing out only transparent letters faintly outlined in black: empty and hypocritical.  In this village, a person could voice whatever he wanted, but the truth would be revealed in the form taken by the letters sliding into the atmosphere.  For once, the euphemism “white lie” actually held true, for deceitful words were as colorless as hypocritical ones.  Furthermore, there would be no doubt as to whether a person was angry (red words), depressed (blue), or sarcastic (orange).

The good people of this city have a curious comprehension of the volume of their words.  The story goes that the mouth of one young miss was never quiet.  On that bewildering day when the people woke up with the gift of seeing their words pour out in front of them like warm breath on a December day, this miss was cured of her gabbiness.  Wherever she went on that day, her tongue wagging, she was spinning a mile long train of letters which grew to be such a weight that she could hardly drag them behind her.  Furthermore, the other inhabitants of the town either cackled uproariously at her embarassingly long train of words or skittered away, amply warned of her active tongue.  She soon learned listening was better than littering the ground behind her with words. 

Another vice was demolished that day as well—gossip.  The ladies of the town used to indulge in a chat about all the other people in the town like some people indulge in chocolate.  It only took a week or so before one of these ladies turned around from her chat and greeted the one she had been gossiping about—who could easily see the snarky sentences the woman had just been speaking spelled out in front of her.  If you had to drag those caustic words around behind you all day, you would think twice before speaking them, too.  The fact that they were whispered in secret only served to italicize them, not to hide them from the public eye.

But words of praise were all the more sweet and prevalent because they were displayed all the day long.  Words of repentance challenged every other person who saw them to clear up clouds in their own lives.  Words of love let everyone know who was important to each person. 

This gift simply appeared on that sunny June morning, and one gray Monday five years later, it just as suddenly disappeared.  The first early bird awoke, stretched, and whispered “Good morning” to his wife, then suddenly grabbed at his mouth.  He tried again, and the words sounded, but no words flowed from his mouth.  He shook his wife awake in desperation, and she grumbled, “What is it?”  before her eyes widened and she realized that the gift was gone. 

The whole town was abuzz with the loss of their gift, and they poured out of their doors, milling around in the town square and mourning together as if their sole source of livelihood had been destroyed.  The young miss who had previously been a gabber tentatively began to gab again, now that no one could see her words dragging her down.  The gossips began to speculate about who could be to blame, and nearly everyone forgot to praise their loved ones.  The confusion was only growing, and some citizens were plotting desperate action to recover their gift. 

Suddenly, a young man leapt atop a chicken crate, filled his mouth with his fingers, and whistled ear-piercingly.  The whistle slammed against the rumbling of the townspeople, shocked silence billowed, and the young man cleared his throat. 

“Good people!  I hail from yonder village, and my grandfather here has a tale he wishes to tell you of!  Give him heed!”

The young man helped up an aged man with a silvery pointed beard, who opened his mouth and spoke with a great deep voice.  He needed no words floating in the air to communicate.

“When I was but a boy, I heard my father tell the story of a mysterious gift that had been bestowed on our village when he had been but a youngster.  This gift, I now know, was the same one you have enjoyed for the past years, and like yours, it too disappeared after five years.  Was it all just fantasy, my father said his townspeople asked?  Nay, he said, and I agree.  True, your words now do not incarnate themselves in visual form, but all the ramifications of speech embodied in visible symbols still hold true.  Do shots from our lips not pain our loved ones as truly as a bloody stab?  Do meaningless niceties not get devoured by true, courageous statements?  Does not gossip somehow spread like food poisoning at a picnic…almost as if you trailed the words behind you? 

“Hear me when I say to you that even though you may no longer be able to discern the true motive behind every word others speak to you, God still can.  Furthermore, He sees our words as deeply as if we could see them flowing from our mouths, a fount of fonts.  And His sight is far more important than ours.”

The old man stepped down, and the young man grasped his grandfather's elbow as the old man hobbled away.  The townspeople were silenced, and then, in that silence, they began to look at each other and smile.  The gift was not all gone, then, and they lived that day and every day afterwards as if the gift was still in their possession.  And not a happier or more prosperous town existed in the entire land. 

“But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.”  -Matthew 12:36




Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

1.17.2012

How It Came to Be

"Sorry, we're sold out," the lady in the glass hexagon told us. Lauren and I both stared at her, hoping that the longer we stood there, the greater our chances that the answer would change. Finally, we turned away and stood under the marquee, murmuring about our options.

"I'll go inside," Lauren decided, "and see if they have any tickets there."

"Okay?" I answered, highly skeptical that the inside ticket sellers would be hoarding tickets when the outside ones were empty handed and apparently oblivious. "I'll stand out here and look pathetic."

Joshua Bell is one of the great violinists of our time--do not be deceived by his disarmingly youthful good looks. He is forty-four and has been a serious violinist since the age of twelve, having now recorded over two dozen albums, in addition to movie soundtracks, received the prestigious Avery Fisher prize, and been appointed Music Director at my favorite orchestra, the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. So one might imagine the ecstasy of Lauren and I on our sweltering August birthday last year when our parents and siblings gave us each a ticket to experience Joshua Bell playing the Shostakovitch Violin Concerto (changed in the last month to the Brahms Violin Concerto) with the Oregon Symphony.

Snow was the last thing on our minds.

Nevertheless, as the monthly countdown melted into a weekly countdown and then into days, the weather report obstinately insisted that snow was predicted for the Northwest. We were all nerves, anxiously hoping our special day would not be snowed out. Sure enough, Sunday dawned cold and white, and though we made it to church safely, Mama was decidedly uncomfortable with the thought of Lauren and I driving to Portland on our own. At this point, our dear Papa volunteered to take us, reluctantly deciding that he could spring for a $45 ticket (the cheapest available at this late date).

Through relatively excellent road conditions we drove, making it to the beautiful Arlene Schnitzer concert hall in downtown Portland, where Papa dropped us off to investigate tickets while he began the arduous task of locating a parking spot. And yet, we were immediately informed of this terrible news that there were no more tickets available. I felt glum and melancholy as I stood outside the Hall, knowing that Papa would cheerfully brush off the fact that he had taken the long trip to bring his daughters to Portland, only to sit in the car or a coffee shop for 2 1/2 hours waiting to drive them home.

I turned to look at the entrance, watching people flood the doors with white and orange tickets clutched in their gloved hands. I didn't have to worry about looking pathetic--it came quite naturally. A coupled moved in front of me, blocking my view.

The man held up his ticket in the air. "I have an extra ticket," he began loudly. I was right there, and I jumped and exclaimed, "Yes!" I had been lost in my own world, not thinking about him, not preparing to pounce. But in the split second after I had reacted, two men behind the ticket benefactor also jumped forward to claim the ticket. Truly, the Spirit had prepared and prompted me, for I was now the rightful possessor of one $62 ticket, gratefully pouring out my thanks to the couple and explaining the situation.



I pulled Lauren out of line, and we jumped around gleefully, waiting for Papa to walk up so we could pretend we had spent $62 of his money on a ticket. The concert, which included not only Joshua Bell and his own genius cadenza, but also Handel's Music for the Royal Fireworks, and two Oregon Symphony premieres, one a Baroque piece--The Battle--by Adriano Banchieri, and the other a gorgeous Sinfonietta by Leos Janacek, was breathtaking. Joshua Bell was astounding. Meeting Joshua Bell was exhilarating. And going out to coffee afterwards with Papa was delightful.


Yesterday, as Lauren and I rested in the snow from our sledding endeavors with the kids, she asked, "Did you think why God sent snow?"

I paused, blank faced, thinking about the allegories of snow and purity and the wonderful application snow can have on our spiritual lives. But as Lauren explained, I realized what she meant. We bemoaned the snow and worried about its coming all week, hoping and praying the God would keep it at bay so we could attend our much-anticipated concert. God, however, had a much more magnificent plan in store for us. Even as Papa agreed to come, wondering where $45 would fit in the budget, God had it all worked out. And then, when the ticket lady told us they were all sold out--that was God's providence too.

Lauren showed me this passage that had come to her mind about Sunday:

"By the breath of God ice is given,
      And the broad waters are frozen.
 Also with moisture He saturates the thick clouds;
      He scatters His bright clouds.
 And they swirl about, being turned by His guidance,
      That they may do whatever He commands them
      On the face of the whole earth.
 He causes it to come,
      Whether for correction,
      Or for His land,
      Or for mercy.
 'Listen to this, O Job;
      Stand still and consider the wondrous works of God.'"
~Job 37:10-14
Such a small thing really, but oh so precious to me. I rest confidently in my God, knowing that each turn of events in my life are for my good and God's glory.


Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson,
   Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

1.10.2012

If Everybody Did

What if everybody was late?


What if everybody wore sweats?


What if everybody frowned in the grocery store?


What if everybody let their dogs bark?


What if everybody forgot to vote?




What if everybody yelled at customer service representatives?


What if everybody watched TV?


What if everybody sided with the majority?



What if everybody was a musician?


What if everybody grew gardens?


What if everybody opened doors for each other?


What if everybody had a Bible in their language?


What if everybody drove two miles under the speed limit?


What if everybody was fearless?


What if everybody read books?


What if everybody wore pink?


What if everybody was like me?


Would the world be better or worse?





Inspired by the classic children's tale If Everybody Did


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Used by permission

1.06.2012

An Enchanting Evening


The evening of January 1st, 2012 my family donned beautiful gowns, pulled on white gloves, tied cravats, curled ringlets, glanced in the mirror one last time, then drove an hour, our dark car stifling with anticipation.  We were going to a ball! 

 The ball consisted of English Country Dancing, such as you might see on Pride and Prejudice. This young man, one of the host family members, called the dances for us. 

Sarah...the lovely hostess and inspiration behind the event! 

l-r: Joshua, Micah, Jonah, Zachary
 As we entered the room filled with over fifty people and shed our cloaks, we noticed handsome young men whose toes were tapping in readiness to dance...

l-r: Susanna, Mikaela, Rachel
 As well as handsome young women whose tongues were filled with greetings!

 For the first dance, "Hole in the Wall", fathers lined up on one side and the eldest daughters lined up on the other.  I had so much fun dancing with my Daddy!  In this photo, Melanie is getting prepared to dance the Duke of Kent's Waltz with Papa. 


Brothers danced with sisters, fathers with daughters, mothers with sons, husbands with wives, girlfriends with girlfriends, and here I am dancing with an adorable little princess! 

 After several hours of stepping to the music, it was time for dinner!  We ate...

 ...and cuddled babies...

 ...and talked, of course!  I wish I could remember what I was saying at this juncture!

 We couldn't help but dance some more then!



 Here I am dancing with the dashing Caleb (the tinest suit in this photo!), a charming young man who loved to dance and asked all the older girls to be his partners! 


l-r: myself, Sarah, and Mikaela

 Wonderful friends, and don't they look gorgeous in their outfits?

 Our family

Gentle music, sincere laughter, breathless excitement, kindred spirits, beautiful dresses--outside it was chilly and dark, but inside we were having an unforgettable, in fact, enchanting evening. 

1.03.2012

It's a Family Trait

I remember my blissful ignorance as a girl--never realizing my teeth stuck out into the next state until I got braces, or that I had undereye circles the color of plums until a woman asked in concern if I had slept the night before. And, suddenly, right around the time the acne hit, so did my self-awareness. Where before, all I needed to feel pretty was braids and a Daisy Kingdom dress, now I realized the world's definition of pretty, and I thought that my fat eyelids and red skin could never measure up.

Sadly, I have a hunch that I am not alone in this never-ending comparison game. Despite our best efforts, and the best proverbs ("Beauty is as beauty does," "Favor is deceitful and beauty is vain,"), we still find the opportunity to bemoan our worst faults before the mirror regularly. Yet, this beauty I spend so much energy worrying about is only passing: "When with rebukes You correct man for iniquity, You make his beauty melt away like a moth; Surely every man is vapor.  Selah (Psalm 39:11)."

Of course, I know--and I hope that you know--that I find my worth not in my outward appearance but in my standing as a redeemed child of God. I have something much more important than outward beauty with which to concern myself--I have a soul, once black and ugly, now made new and beautiful, bought with the very dear price of the life of my Savior.

I also know that God created me. Created me the way I am with exactly the features I have for His purposes. I remember as a child spending the day with my great-grandma, the mother of my grandmother and Mama's mother, who died before I ever met her. Great-Grandma looked at Lauren and I searchingly that day and said, "Your eyes are exactly like your grandmother's--hazel and green, changing in the light."

Photo Credit

The very next opportunity I had to go to the bathroom, I did--and I stared hard at my eyes, not admiring any perceived beauty, but trying to imagine them as Grandma's eyes and what she must have looked like in person. I felt oh-so-proud to have Grandma's eyes after that. Never again did I wish for the blue eyes of my favorite heroines.

And then, there was the time a few months ago, where Papa made a passing comment about how I had the deep-set eyes of my Bobcha. These "deep-set eyes" have been the bane of my existence, but the minute he told me that, I knew he was right--I could already picture the very same feature on the face of my beloved great-grandmother (Papa's grandma). 

This new year and always, I hope that you too will look at yourself searchingly and find those features which make you you but which also have been passed down through the family. Be blessed by the preciousness of sharing something in common with those whom you love so much. Then, remember that this is insignificant and generally unimportant: "Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God (I Peter 3:3-4)."

Take the time, after that exercise, to engage in something eternally significant and vital: look at your soul and heart searchingly. If you have not been redeemed by Jesus Christ, then you will find nothing beautiful or Godly there, and you must hasten to the cross to receive the gift of salvation and be covered by the blood of Christ. Be grieved at the sin and ugliness you still find and plead with God to eradicate those features carved into your being, but also rejoice, if you are saved, at the similarities between you and your Heavenly Father and how the Spirit is continually conforming you to the image of God!

"But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord." ~II Corinthians 3:18 


  Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson,
   Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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