Tuesday, December 1, 2009

PTGW Part Nine: Learning to Have a Joyful Spirit

"Glory in His holy name; Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the LORD!" 1 Chronicles 16:10
"Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength." Nehemiah 8:10b
"Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!" Philippians 4:4

Lately I have been realizing how important it is to enjoy your life, and to rejoice in the Lord. Now this does not mean that we have to ignore anything uncomfortable or bad that happens, or that we have to walk around with plastic smiles on our faces all the time. What is does mean is that we need to find our joy in the Lord, and not have it be dependent on silly things (like whether it is sunny or cloudy, whether someone in our family has a bad attitude or not, etc). Right now I'm not going to talk about big things that happen (like a death in the family, or a debilitating physical problem) or how to deal with them, but instead I will be concentrating on a few ideas of how we can encourage ourselves to enjoy life, in spite of the little annoyances that can so often steal our joy.
Now before I begin, let me say that out of all of the things that I have heard men say are attractive in a woman, the most common and prevalent thing by far is a joyful spirit. A genuine enjoyment of life in Jesus. A smile and a joyful attitude can make even a very plain woman extremely attractive and beautiful. And we need to start by blessing our families with a joyful spirit.
So here are a few ideas of how to get and keep a joyful attitude.

1. Pray that God would give you a Joyful Spirit. This is obviously the most important thing. Without His help, none of us are very nice to be around. ;-)

2. One idea is to make yourself something to remind you to be cheerful. I often find that when I am not cheerful, it is because I simply forget to work on it. (I know, "I forgot" is the worst excuse ever, but sometimes you really do forget, and it can be helpful just to be reminded.) One thing that I did was that I made up a little piece of paper that I kept in my pocket to remind me to have a joyful spirit. Believe it or not, it REALLY helped! Of course, most dresses don't have pockets, so you can make a bracelet or necklace or something instead.

3. Deal with little annoyances as they come up. Don't let things build up inside of you. One of the worst things in a wife or sister is the tendency to let little things build up, build up, build up and then suddenly explode in a yelling or screaming fit. But you can avoid this if you pray about things as they happen, forgive people as they hurt you, breathe deeply and release your tension. Remember and put into practice Philippians 4:6-7 (my favorite verses) "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

4. It is ok to pretend to be cheerful even if you don't always feel like it. Now this doesn't mean fake smile, thinly veiled annoyance... and it is not an excuse not to deal with things that are bothering you. What it does mean is that you should answer your mother cheerfully when she asks you to do something, even if you are growling inside (and then you should pray about that 'growly-ness'). It also means that you do not have to burden your family with every moment that you are 'out of sorts'. Just smile. Practice makes perfect. :-)

5. If you find yourself having a particularly hard time, take a moment to pray, breathe, and maybe make a little list of things that you are thankful for. (This can be especially helpful if you are having trouble with one particular person. Make a list of things you are thankful for about them... and then give it to them if you'd like! For example... my brother, who is nearest to the water jug at supper, cheerfully fills everyone's glasses all throughout supper without complaining. that is something I am really thankful for about him. My sister cleans and vacuumes every single day, and really blesses our family with a clean house. My other sister is always ready with a hug and a kiss if someone is having a hard day. She can spot a tear from a mile away and comes running to help that person feel better. Pray before you make the list, because when you are having a difficult time with someone, it is extremely easy to only see their faults, and there are plenty of faults if you look hard enough, and it takes Jesus to help you be able to see the beautiful ways that they bless you.)

6. Don't focus on the negative. My Mom says that there are always two ways to look at something. If there is a pile of dirty dishes in the sink, you can look and see how people never clean up after themselves, or you can thank God that you have food to eat and a family to share it with.

7. Go for a walk. This will help you get your blood flowing and help you feel awake and more cheerful.

8. Avoid or limit sugar... (I'm sorry, people say that I bring nutrition into everything, but it is true, what you eat really does effect you.) Sugar makes people irritable, and that is something we want to avoid. :-)

9. Go to bed at a reasonable hour. I am a firm believer in getting enough sleep for helping with an attitude that is not always the best.

10. Do fun things that you enjoy. Don't let yourself just work all the time (I am not a believer in 'I need me time', but I do think that doing fun things is a good idea). And don't fool yourself into thinking that if something is going to be fun it has to be big or expensive. Paint your nails with your little sister (or by yourself). Have a tea party. Dress up. Turn on some music and dance. Sing while you work. Brainstorm things that you like to do, make a list, and then DO THEM!!! :-)

11. Help someone else. I often find that nothing helps me more than doing something kind for someone else.

12. Read your bible. (Hey, and while you're at it, take a look in Proverbs and see how many times it talks about how Unattractive the Opposite of a joyful spirit is... for starters take a look at Proverbs 21:9, 21:19, 25:24, and 27:15.) :-)

Well, I hope that this has been helpful to you. Remember, no one wants to be around someone who is crabby or irritated all the time. Being joyful will help you to have better friendships, relationships, and a better life. You will find that you enjoy life more, and that others enjoy you more.
As always, if anyone has anything to add to this, I would love to hear it! :-)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Keeping Sight of the Goal

"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:1-2

"Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown." 1 Corinthians 9:24-25

"Therefore we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power, that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ." 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12

"Question 1: What is the chief and highest end of man?

Answer: Man's chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy him forever." The Westminster Larger Catechism

"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." Matthew 6:33

Today I would like to remind all of us what the goal is that we are working towards.

It's not getting married. It's not to have children one day. It's not to be organized, or anything like that

Our goal is to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. To glorify God with our lives. To have a godly Character that Jesus Christ can shine through to others in our life.

All of the other things that "shall be added unto you" are just 'icing on the cake' so to speak. Certainly they are worthy things to hope for and work towards, but when our eyes are focused on God we do not have room for the discontentment and discouragement that can come over us when we are too focused on the OUR hopes, OUR dreams, OUR goals.
Now I'm not saying that all of the things that I've written on this blog are not important... I believe that they are, but they are just a step towards glorifying Him, they are not the goal.
And as we do seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, all of the other things really will be added to us. God is the one who gives us the fruit of the Spirit, so let's remember to keep our eyes on Him and our lives focused on glorifying Him.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Crushes on Unavailable Men

"I know this sounds REALLY bad but what if the guy you have a crush on is married and was someone you once dated. What if you ask God to take the feelings away and they still don't go away???? Please help!!!


Dear Anonymous,
I know that it's easy to get freaked out when you have strong feelings and they just won't 'go away'. Believe it or not, at one point in time most young ladies will have a crush on someone who is unavailable. Whether he's courting, engaged, or married to someone else, it is hard to deal with feelings for someone that you know you shouldn't be having feelings for. Dating aggravates this problem as it encourages you to form attachments to people that, odds are, you won't spend the rest of your life with.
But the principles are the same no matter the situation or the circumstances.
Now, here are a few ideas for you, ok?

1. Whenever you get a thought about him, or warm fuzzies about him, or anything, pray. And don't just pray about him, because that will just continue to train your brain to think about him. Try something like this. "Lord, I know that So-and-so is married, but I still have a crush on him. Please take away those feelings and help me to reserve my heart for my future husband. I pray that You would prepare me to be a good wife someday, and help me to practice guarding my heart now in preparation for the day that I am married myself. I also pray for my grandma, please heal her arthritis because it is so hard on her not to be able to walk around. Please give me wisdom of how I can bless her and make things easier on her. Thank you, in Jesus' name I pray. Amen."

2. "Take every thought captive and make it obedient unto Christ." Don't allow yourself to daydream or anything. Here is one way that you can 'take every thought captive'. Picture your mind as an airport, and the thoughs as airplanes that are trying to land. When one comes zooming up that you don't want in your mind, send it off. For the first week (or probably month) you will probably have to do this over 100 times a day, but it does get easier and less frequent when you practice.

Well my dear, I hope that is helpful to you. Keep reading your Bible and training your mind to think of things the way Jesus would want you to. And don't worry about your crush too much, as long as you continue to pray about it, I'm sure that God will help you with it so gradually that you won't even notice it's gone. :-)


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

PTGW Part Eight B: Taking Care of Your Soul

Note: Thank you to everyone who commented! It is good to know that people read this blog because I was thinking of not continuing it, but I'm glad that I am going to continue writing for this blog because I think it helps me more than anyone else. ;-)

Alright, today I'm going to be talking about taking care of your soul, though maybe not in the way that you're thinking.
Now first of all, what is a soul? Well, I'm NOT going to go into what the Greek and Hebrew words mean, because this is not that kind of a blog. (If you want to find out, you could probably just google it.) But if we look at the Bible, we see that the word soul used in a variety of ways (Just get out your concordance and look up the word soul). But most often it seems to be used to convey the core of our being.
Now, God is the only One who can save our soul, but after He redeems us, how can we take care of our soul?
Well, a great part of that is what we do, see, watch, listen to etc. Because even though we have a soul, heart, mind, body... we are still just one person and everything affects each other.
I don't know about you, but I can tell when I'm not taking care of my soul, mind, and heart because I start feeling 'cluttered', anxious, and disturbed.
So what can we do to upkeep that part of us?

1. Pray. Prayer is amazing. We are able to speak to God and He hears us! (One particularly helpful verse on prayer is Philippians 4:6-7 "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.") And make sure that you really do pray specifically about what is bothering you and then give it to Jesus and LEAVE IT WITH HIM!!! Don't take it back. And if you start worrying about it again, pray again and give it to Him again. Praying scripture is a great help (e.g. "Lord, please help me to think about whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right....")

2. Read your Bible everyday. I like to read mine in the morning first thing, and last thing before bed. Pray that the Holy Spirit would show you what needs to change in your heart every time before you read and when He shows you, repent of it and confess it to God. This can remove a lot of that cluttered feeling. The more you read your Bible, the more it will train your mind to see everything in the light of the scripture.

3. Sing scripture songs (that actually use Scripture) and hymns. I love the Hide 'em in Your Heart songs for scripture songs. As for hymns, I'm not talking about 'worship songs'. I'm talking about good, old fashioned hymns. Even though his theology was a bit off, a lot of Charles Wesley's hymns are really wonderful. One of my favorites is "And Can it be That I Should Gain" (I like to sing that while I'm washing dishes... just because it's hard to sing while you're breathless from vacuuming). :-)

Ok, now are you ready for a little list of don'ts?

4. Don't spend too much time watching movies. They just add to the clutteredness, and they can really make you feel disturbed and anxious.

5. Don't spend too much time listening to secular music. (Now I'm not saying that you can't ever listen to secular music, but make sure that you limit the time you devote to it.)

6. Don't read romance novels. These sow discontentment and most teach you that the outward appearance is all that matters (that goes for romance movies too).

Now, one thing that I would like to challenge you to do is a fast. This is a mind and heart fast to get you out of the cluttered state and into a peaceful one. Here is what the fast looks like:
For one week you give up entertainment (this includes movies, YouTube videos, and books), secular music, video games, and thoughts that are not glorifying to Jesus (for instance, hateful thoughts, lusting thoughts, and coveting thoughts).
Ok? So now you've removed those things from your life, something has to take their place, right? Of course right! ;-)
So what is going to take their place? Prayer, Bible reading, and hymns. Read your Bible first thing in the morning, right before bed (about a chapter each time), and then whenever you would normally read a book go ahead and read your Bible. Pray in the morning when you read your Bible (Just to let you know, you don't have to do this alone, if you have little kids you can read your Bible outloud and pray with them), at night before bed, whenever you have a thought that is not glorifying to Jesus, and whenever the rest of your family is watching a movie or something use that time for prayer as well. Instead of listening to secular music while you work or just to kill time, sing hymns and scripture songs. I don't know about you, but I'd much rather hear "And Can It Be" than "Man, I Feel Like a Woman". ;-)
At the beginning of the week pray and ask God to show you areas in your life that are not submitted to Him or are against His word, and when He shows you focus on praying about those things throughout the week.
When you pray don't just pray for yourself, make sure that you pray for others as well.

Now of course, you can modify this fast to fit your needs. The first time I did it I also did a sugar fast because I wanted to make sure that I didn't turn to food when i was bored. The second time I did it, I only did a movie fast and I allowed myself to listen to secular music if I wanted to (though that time didn't have the same effect as when I did the whole fast because I still had entertainment). But you can also do an internet fast, a dessert fast, etc.

If you do it, make sure to come and let me know how it went for you. :-)

Now obviously, no matter what we do God is the One who "restores my soul". So during the fast pray that He would restore your soul.

To end with here is Psalm 23.
"The LORD is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD

Friday, August 21, 2009

PTGW Part Eight A: Taking Care of Your Body

Don't give up on this post after just reading the title! I know that most of the time it is very discouraging to read anything about taking care of your body, whether it be losing weight or skin care or makeup or whatever. But I'm not going to present some impossible idea of how to change your appearance. Rather I'd like to give you a few realistic ideas of how to take care of your body.

Taking care of your body and your appearance is very important; it is part of being a good witness for Jesus Christ. That doesn't mean that you should spend three hours a day on your appearance, but it does mean that you should remember that even though God looks at your heart, people will see your appearance first. (But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7 - yes, I know it's out of context, but it's still true)
God can work through everyone no matter how they look or smell or whatever, but if my dad gave me a beautiful dress to wear and I wore it every day and didn't wash it and it got all grey and dirty and I told everyone that my Dad had given it to me, well... that wouldn't make them think very well of my Dad, would it? "Oh my goodness! I'm sure glad I'm not his daughter! Look at what she wears... she doesn't even look clean!"
We should be so proud of being God's daughters that we want to give Him a 'good name' by looking like what we are... taken care of and loved very very much.

Also, when you get married your husband is going to want to be proud of your appearance. So start on good habits now so that when you get married you'll have a head start.

Now here are a few things that I'm NOT saying.

1. I'm NOT saying that you should lose weight

2. I'm NOT saying that you have to wear makeup

3. I'm NOT saying that you should obsess about how you look and constantly be running to the mirror

4. I'm NOT saying that you need to be self conscious if your clothes aren't brand-new

Ok? Now that we've gotten that straightened out... here are a few ideas of how to take care of your body.

1. Stay clean. This means taking a shower when you need it. Some people can get away with one a week and some people need one a day. A good way to tell if you need one is if you don't smell fresh or your hair feels stiff and greasy. Simply staying clean is an excellent place to start on having a good appearance.

2. Get dressed in the morning. Don't go to the grocery store in your pjs and slippers. Aside from modesty issues, is life as a Christian really so depressing that you can't bear to get ready for the day???

3. Do your hair. I know, it's basic, but it's important to have your hair look neat and tidy. Now I can't brush my hair when it's dry because it's so curly that it would just frizz and I'd end up looking something like Ronald MacDonald. ;-) But on days that I don't get my hair wet, I still smooth it and put it up in a bun.

4. Drink water. Drinking water can help you to have nice skin, give you energy, and help you not to smell bad when you 'perspire'.

5. Go for a walk or a bikeride OUTSIDE every day if you can. It doesn't have to be long, I like walking a quarter mile most days. This will get your blood flowing nicely, give you a chance to be peaceful (no listening to music), and help you be more energetic.

6. Make sure that your clothes are always clean, patched, and wrinkle-free. It doesn't matter if your clothes aren't new, you can look just as nice in 2nd (or 3rd or 4th) hand clothes as in brand-new clothes as long as they are pressed and clean.

7. Take care of your teeth. Now I'm not saying that you need to get braces, teeth whiteners, etc. But if you take care of your teeth (brushing and flossing every day) your teeth will look nice and you won't have to worry as much about bad breath.

8. Practice good posture. Stand up straight! You are proud of your Father, now walk like it!

9. Wear a Smile! That is a very important thing that you can do for your appearance. If you have a smile it won't matter if your teeth are crooked, your clothes old, or your hair is frizzy! Smiling is a very easy and simple way to look pretty and bless people.

10. Dress like a Lady. (I assume that no men are reading this, but if they are they should dress like Gentlemen, not Ladies.) ;-) Don't look as if you are ashamed of your gender. It is so refreshing to see a woman who isn't hiding under baggy pants and t-shirts and yet is not flaunting her body in mini-skirts and tight shirts.

11. Do the things that God tells us to in His Word. This is THE MOST important thing of all. If you live a clean life through Jesus, than others will have a 'good feeling' about you. I don't know why, but that seems to be the way it works. :-)

Now if you want to you can do other things like put on a little bit of makeup etc. But the most important thing is to be clean and neat, and to smile.
I don't know about you, but when I see someone who doesn't really take care of themselves I think "Oh dear, they must be quite unhappy with their life."
As Christians, we have been blessed with a Father who cares for us no matter what happens. Let's show the world how much we appreciate Him by taking care of His temple (our bodies).

"Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s." 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Next time I'll be talking about taking care of your soul (which is infinitely more important than your body). As usual, I love getting comments (as long as they're polite). I have no idea if anyone reads my posts unless they comment.

Friday, July 17, 2009

PTGW Part Seven: Learning to Encourage

Encouragement is so important, isn't it? It's amazing what a difference an encouraging word can make in someone's life. And it doesn't always have to be words, I know that there have been different people who have encouraged me with something as simple as a hug or a smile.
One of my favorite "Hide 'Em in Your Heart" songs is based on 1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV ("Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing").
But encouraging someone isn't always as simple as smiling at them, is it? Sometimes it means getting out of our comfort zone and risking rejection or embarrassment (even though not many people reject encouragement, we can sometimes still feel like they will). Unfortunately, I don't know any way of getting over the awkward feeling of stepping out of our comfort zones except to do it over and over. I have to confess that I'm not very good at this, but "practice makes perfect", and I'm going to give you a few ideas on how to 'practice' starting with the least awkward. :-)

1. Smile at people! You might be amazed at how attractive and uplifting a smile is. If you've ever smiled at someone and not had them respond, you know that it's always a bit of a let down when you don't get a smile back. I've had bad days where I went to the store and a total stranger smiled at me and it really did make my day better. :-)

2. Serve people. Now I'm not necessarily talking about painting someone's house or doing their laundry. Simply getting someone a glass of water or helping them cut up vegetables for lunch can encourage them.

3. Give a hug! A hug is a very efficient and simple way to encourage someone without words. Sometimes you might find that someone gets tears in their eyes when you hug them and, assuming that you weren't just squeezing them too hard, that's a sure sign that they really needed that hug. (Now, obviously there are people that you wouldn't feel comfortable hugging, and that's fine. You should never hug anyone that you feel creeped out by, and probably you would only want to hug your friends and family anyways.)

4. Write a note or send an e-card to someone telling them that you are glad that you are friends (or sisters, or cousins, or whatever), and say something that you specifically like about them. (i.e. "Dear Martha, I am so glad that we are friends. Your patience with the little children really challenges and encourages me to be more patient. Thank you so much for your example! Love, Joy" ~ of course you're supposed to insert your friend's name and your name in the place of "Martha" and Joy! ~)

5. Listen to them. Simply listening can make a huge difference to someone and be very encouraging.

6. Tell someone something that you like about them ("I love the way you reply to letters so quickly").

7. Encourage them in the area that they really need it. This can be a little more tricky because, unless they have specifically confided in you, they might feel as though you are picking on them instead of encouraging them. Even if they have confided in you, sometimes this idea backfires and they get upset so use at your own discretion.

When you are a wife, you will be your husband's main encourager and 'cheerleader' (can anyone think of a better word than 'cheerleader'?), so if you can practice encouraging and cheering on your family, friends, ect. now, you will have a head start on knowing how to do it when you get married.
There are many ways that you can encourage people, and some of them are as simple as doing the job your Mom asked you to the FIRST time she asks. Use your imagination and encourage people in your everyday life. (On a side note, did you know that simply living a Christian life can encourage others?)

Monday, July 6, 2009

PTGW Part Six: Learning to Follow a Routine

After a very long break due to sickness, I am excited to finally be continuing my "Preparing to be a Good Wife" posts.
Today we will be talking about learning to follow a routine. Now I'm not talking about following your Mom's routine, although it is important that you work around her routine, I'm talking more about making sure that your day is not wasted because you never know what you are supposed to be doing. This may not be a problem for some of you (isn't it wonderful how God made everyone different?), but hopefully it'll be helpful anyways.

When we are younger it is not as important to have our own routine, is it? We get up, eat breakfast, do school work, have lunch, more school, free time, supper, family time, bed. And that's basically what each day looks like. But when we have 'graduated' it's a little harder to arrange our time.
Of course, in some ways it is easier because it's more up to us, but somehow it just seemed less complicated when we knew that we had to do math at 9:00, history at 10:00 etc. Now suddenly you don't have a set thing that you have to do at 9:00, instead you have a list of what you need to accomplish during the day.
Now I don't know about you, but it was not helpful for me to have a list of things to do without a set time or order to do them in. Sure, I would get things done, but when I was cleaning the livingroom I'd be remembering the laundry, when I was doing the laundry I'd be worried that I'd forget to make bread, when I was making bread... (You get the idea!)
It is hard to be peaceful and to enjoy life when you're frantically trying not to forget something.
Here are a few ideas of how to get your day in order.

1. Make a list of basic things you want to accomplish each day, and include even the simplest things. (e.g. Breakfast, Get dressed, Pick up room, Lunch...)

2. Next make another list of things that only have to be done every other day (perhaps washing your hair or working out).

3. Then make a list of the work things that have to be done each day (vacuuming, washing dishes, laundry, etc).

4. Next make a list of things that you would like to have time for. Things like sewing, writing, e-mailing, and reading.

5. Now make a chart. It's a little hard to explain so I'll show you an example one. It's kind of a rough draft that I made. :-)

~~~~~~Monday ~~ Tuesday ~~ Wednesday ~~ Thursday ~~ Friday
Get Dressed
Room Clean Up – 5 Min
Exercise – 45 Min
Course work – 1 Hour
Music – 30 Min
Social – 30 Min
Science (With Kids)
Bible Study (With Mom)
Home Improvement
Supper Prep

*Monday – Weight Lift Arms ~ Course Project Work ~ Piano ~ E-mails ~ Sewing
Tuesday – Weight Lift Legs ~ Course Book Work ~ Guitar ~ Blogs ~ Topical Bible Study
Wednesday – Weight Lift Arms ~ Course Forum ~ Piano ~ Stand-Up-Girl ~ Cooking
Thursday– Weight Lift Legs ~ Course Project ~ Guitar ~ Letters ~ Topical Bible Study

* The reason I have a list down here is so that I know which particular thing belonging to the general category of, let's say, social time, I'm supposed to do. On Monday my social time involves e-mails, on Tuesday it involves blogs, on Wednesday the forum that I volunteer on, on Thursday letters. Friday is our family day, so I do not have it listed.

Now obviously, your routine, or schedule, is going to look different from mine. Perhaps you'd like to have times listed instead of the number of minutes. (e.g. 9:00 - 9:30 instead of 30 minutes.) Because my day is very much centered around what my family has to do, I use this routine as kind of a guideline and I do not put down exact times because if my sister makes us breakfast and it isn't done until 10:00, I'm still not behind because while she is making it I can get ready for the day without feeling like my whole day is going to be messed up.

I like to have little boxes under each day and across from each task so that I can check them off when I'm done. It gives me a chance to see what I've accomplished and makes sure that I don't waste my day or forget something that I have to do. Since I only use it as a guide line, I can insert other activities (such as gardening) whenever I want, or I can do it instead of working on my Nutrition course.

Learning to follow a routine can help you to be peaceful, to have a sense of accomplishment, and to get more things done without feeling frazzled. If you can learn how to use your time wisely and efficiently now, it will be an invaluable skill when you are a wife and a mother. :-)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

One Lovely Blog Award

Thank you so much to Mrs. Dixon (who has a lovely blog herself) at http://trainingdaughtersteachingwives.com for the One Lovely Blog Award!

I just love this graphic... the teacup is so pretty!

Here are the rules:
1) Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award, and his or her blog link.
2) Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

Ok, well, I don't know if I can come up with 15 newly discovered blogs, so I'll just pick a few.*

Amanda at amandabethonline.blogspot.com - I love her fun fashion reviews and suggestions

Miss Amy and Miss Olivia Joy at http://teatimewithamy.blogspot.com/ - Even though they only update once in a while, their blog is a pleasure to read and to look at and they have some really neat ideas and recipes for Tea

HannahBeth at www.homeschoolblogger.com/maideninwaiting - I enjoyed seeing her entries for AmandaBeth's fashion week, and I just love seeing all the pictures she puts up of her family.

Well, I'm going to stick with three, even though I have found so many wonderful blogs over the past couple of years. Why don't you go and check out their blogs and maybe leave them a comment? I'm sure they'd love to hear from you!
My sister and I are struggling with sickness so I shall go inform the authors of the lovely blogs that they have been awarded, and then go rest for a while.

*Just because their name appears in this post does not mean that I necessarily agree with everything on their blog. It does mean that I think their blog is lovely and I enjoy reading it.

Friday, May 1, 2009

"In God I Have Put My Trust... What Can Man do to Me?"

"Jill looked at the king: his mouth was open and his face was full of horror. And then she understood the devilish cunning of the enemies' plan. By mixing a little truth with it they had made their lie far stronger." C.S. Lewis "The Last Battle"

This seems to be the truth in America today. Christians, Bible-believing Christians, and especially homeschoolers, are targeted by the world. Feminists claim that Homeschooling Christians leave women "barefoot, pregnant, and powerless". Politicians publish the 'fact' that Homeschooling Christians are bad for the economy. And by 'mixing a little truth' with their lies, they make them seem impossible to contradict by any sane individual.
But you know what? This isn't a new thing. It has been around for years. In fact, if you look back to Jesus, He warned his disciples about it. We see throughout the old testament that Israel or the church in the wilderness was always a target for unbelievers to attack, why should we, as the new Israel and the church of Christ, be surprised when we are attacked in the same ways?!

But whether we are facing the horrific lies and half-truths of a prominent feminist author, being looked down at by those who wish to 'stimulate' the economy by encouraging less children, or being actually attacked in the streets by the people who's minds are dark and infected with the lies of others, we don't have to be afraid. In fact, take a good look at Matthew 5:11-12.
Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you."
Because our King WILL win, even the persecution and 'reviling' of the children of darkness go to His glory and, in the end, our BLESSING! Now this is not to say that we should pray that we would be persecuted, in fact we should pray against it and for the conviction and salvation of those who 'revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely'. But when we ARE persecuted and lied about, we can be peaceful and joyful because we know that God will "Wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4b)
In Genesis 50:20, Joseph says this to his brothers who truly did persecute him.
"But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive."
We don't know what God's plan is, or how He is going to bring about good out of all of the evil, but we know that He IS going to.
I'm going to end with Psalm 56. I want you to read each verse, not just skim over it.

"Be merciful to me, O God, for man would swallow me up;
Fighting all day he oppresses me.
My enemies would hound me all day,
For there are many who fight against me, O Most High.

Whenever I am afraid,
I will trust in You.
In God (I will praise His word),
In God I have put my trust;
I will not fear.
What can flesh do to me?

All day they twist my words;
All their thoughts are against me for evil.
They gather together,
They hide, they mark my steps,
When they lie in wait for my life.
Shall they escape by iniquity?
In anger cast down the peoples, O God!

You number my wanderings;
Put my tears into Your bottle;
Are they not in Your book?
When I cry out to You,
Then my enemies will turn back;
This I know, because God is for me.
In God (I will praise His word),
In the LORD (I will praise His word),
In God I have put my trust;
I will not be afraid.
What can man do to me?

Vows made to You are binding upon me, O God;
I will render praises to You,
For You have delivered my soul from death.
Have You not kept my feet from falling,
That I may walk before God
In the light of the living?"

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Questions About Crushes, Attention, and Other Stuff!

Today I have decided to take some time and answer some questions that I have been getting. I apologize for taking so long to respond... you can read about our trip to CA on my www.homeschoolblogger.com/Liveforeternity blog.

Alrighty, here is the first comment that I'm going to reply to (I've edited it somewhat so that it only contains what I'm going to respond to). The comments will be in red, and my replies in blue.

"I've always told myself I wouldn't date until I was at least 17, my parents had no influence on it whatsoever, that's just the peg I put in place for myself. I don't necessarily think I will marry the first person I date (although my sister is happily married to her boyfriend from her senior year in high school) so it's not like once I'm 17 I think I'm going to be seriously dating...
but leading up to, I have a very good friend that we have talked about dating when I'm ready, not in a "I'm so in love with you!" way, but we both have feelings and have been friends for a while. We hang out occasionally, but if we're the only ones, it's somewhere public or at my house where my parents are there to supervise.
Is this not of God because I'm not of a 'marrying age'? I've been trying not to think about him as much, because I know it can be a distraction from God, but if I have the intent of doing what God wants me to do, and doesn't get physical or anything... is it wrong to have a crush on this boy?
Oh, and I forgot to add, I will be 17 in about half a year."

Hello! You have asked some very good questions! I am going to do my best to answer them, but first of all, here are some questions that I want you to pray and study about.
1. What do you think is the purpose of dating? Is it to find a spouse or is it more 'recreational' (since you don't expect to marry the first person you date)?
2. Is this friend a godly young man according to scripture?
3. What is the 'marrying age' according to you?
4. Is the expectation of someday dating him clouding your judgement of his character? What do your parents (more importantly your father) think of this young man?
Ok, that was your homework (and I'm going to give you some more in a minute). ;-) Now I'm going to try to answer your questions.
So, you have a very good friend that is a young man, and you have talked about dating when you are ready. Your question is "is this not of God because I'm not of a 'marrying age'?" Well, obviously I can not tell you what God's plan is for your life, but let's think about it for a moment ok? You are 16, and you are not planning on beginning to look for a life partner until you are at least 17. I don't think that it is wrong for you to have a crush on this young man, in fact I think it is perfectly normal and I would be surprised if you did not have a crush on a young man who is willing to pay attention to you. In this situation, I would say that you should stop trying NOT to think about him. Instead, I want you to go through Scripture (or even just Proverbs) and come up with a list of, say, 20 characteristics of a godly man (doing a word study on 'righteous' is a good place to start in Proverbs). Then, when you have the list, I want you to think objectively about this young man and evaluate him according to your list.
This is a good way to deal with any crush you might have. If he is a godly young man according to Scripture, than you may want to consider dating/courting when you are old enough. If not, than you can save yourself a big heart ache by recognizing the fact now instead of later.
I hope that helped, if you have any more questions, or if you want me to clarify something let me know. :-)

Ok, the next question is one that a lot of us have struggled with in the past (or still do struggle with).

"Dear Joy,

How can I stop thinking about making myself sexually attractive for boys? I HATE these thoughts!
and about doing stuff to get his attention?"

Dear friend,
I believe that at some point every young lady struggles with this, so know that you are not alone. The way you are feeling is normal, and can be used to God's glory someday when you are married.
However, I know that living with these thoughts and desires can be really miserable and unhealthy. Before I give you some ideas of what you can do, I want to explain something to you.
When someone learns something new, let's say how to play an instrument, their brain actually develops new 'pathways'. The more they concentrate on playing or thinking about this specific instrument, the more defined and easy to travel these 'pathways' become. If they were to stop playing the instrument and move on to something different, the pathway would become smaller and harder for your mind to find. That is why when I take a break from playing the piano, I cannot sit down after a year and play just as well as I used to be able to.
Right now, your brain has a very wide and easy to travel pathway about being sexually attractive and getting attention, so that your mind will automatically go down that road when you are not specifically thinking of something else.
This means that you have trained your mind (not purposely, but it is trained nevertheless) to think along these lines, and to always be open to an opportunity to be more attractive or get attention.
What you need to do now is to re-train your mind. Your goal should be to make a different pathway the one that your mind goes down automatically, and make the 'attractive/attention' pathway smaller and harder to access.
Ok, now that I have explained that, I am going to give you a couple of ideas on how to do that.

1. Cut out things that make you feel especially 'sexy'. Start noticing what makes you feel this way. You might be surprised by what you notice. It could be anything from movies and music to clothes, makeup, and hair-styles. When you notice something, just take a break from it for a while.

2. Start reading your Bible more often, and training your mind to see things through your 'Bible pathways' instead of through your 'sexy pathways'. I like to read at least one chapter in the morning before I start my day, and at night right before bed. That way it helps me carry it through my day.

3. Listen to some Bible songs (Hide 'Em In Your Heart songs are a really good choice). Then, instead of finding yourself humming a song that is really not helpful to your mental purity, you will find yourself singing "I have hidden Your word in my heart, that I might not sin against You."

4. When you find yourself thinking of how to get someone's attention, or how to be more attractive to him, pray. Picture your mind as an airport, and the thoughts as airplanes trying to land. When one comes that you don't want in your mind, send it off. For the first week (or probably month) you will probably have to do this over 100 times a day, but it does get easier and less frequent when you practice.

5. Don't be too freaked out about it. When you start getting frantic and saying "I'm not going to think about this! I'm NOT going to think about this!", guess what your mind will start thinking about?!

6. Sometimes talking to someone, like your mom or another woman that you can trust to give you godly advice, can really help even though it will be embarrassing and hard at first.

And last of all, don't punish yourself when you do mess up or something. Jesus died to set you free. He has already taken the punishment for sin, and He has broken the bondage to sin that you were in.
I hope this helped you, if you need me to clarify anything or if you have any more questions please don't hesitate to ask! :-)

Ok, I think that's about all for now. As always, if you have any thoughts that you'd like to share, just leave a comment! :-) (And don't forget to vote on the new poll!)

Monday, January 12, 2009

PTGW Part Five: Learn to be a Friend

To Mr. D Hamlin: Thank you for your comment. My father would be very happy to help if he can. Please e-mail him at nhpatterson (at) charter (dot) net.
Thanks! :-)

Everyone wants to have at least one friend that truly understands and loves them, don't they? But, for the most part, friends don't last forever. You may always like each other, but eventually you will get to a point when you actually have to 'catch up' with each other. That is why, in addition to having friends, you should invest in the friendships that you have in your family. And why you should marry someone who is a friend and knows how to be a friend. (And of course, you will want to be a friend to who ever you marry, hence the reason for this post.)
Simply interacting with people does not make you a friend. I have many acquaintances, but only a few friends.
Proverbs 18:24 says this, "A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother."
Obviously, Jesus is the ultimate example of a Friend. Let's look at some scripture verses about friends and relationships.
If we can put even one of these verses into practice we will be able to be a Godly friend.

1. Of course, one of my favorite verses is Matthew 22:36-40 “ 'Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?' ” Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” Have you ever noticed how we can be so polite and kind to strangers, but so rude and nasty to our family and loved ones? If we just put this one thing, "love your neighbor as yourself", into practice we will be able to be a good friend.
Something that I would like to point out is that the first commandment Jesus mentions is "love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind". If our life is not centered on pleasing God, and if our friendships are not based on Jesus Christ, than we are going to fail in our attempts to be a friend.

2. John 15:12-14 says, "This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you."
Jesus has commanded us to love one another as He loved us. While I may be willing to die for my friends, am I willing to lay down my selfish desires? Am I willing to give up my way? Will I stop in the middle of a project to change a diaper or feed my family?

3. In Psalm 15, David asks the question "LORD, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill?" Do you know what one of the answers was? "He who does not backbite with his tongue, Nor does evil to his neighbor, Nor does he take up a reproach against his friend."
Backbiting, or gossiping, is a sin. Did you know that? "Nor does he take up a reproach against his friend." In other words, don't take offense. We need to remember to be "swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God" (James 1:19a-20). Because friends, family members, and strangers, are all going to hurt us sometimes. If we take a moment and calm ourselves before we say anything, it will make a huge difference in our relationships.

4. Philippians 2:14-15 says this, "Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world".
If we can stop ourselves from saying all of the bad things that we can think of, or even stop that little sigh when Mom asks us to wash some dishes, it will help us to be "blameless and harmless, children of God".

5. 1 Thessalonians 5:11a tells us, "Therefore encourage one another and build each other up". No one wants to be friends with someone who is always being discouraging or complaining, but simply not complaining isn't enough. We need to ENCOURAGE one another!

6. Pray for your friends. If you see something in their life that is not honoring to God, pray about it. When you get married someday, your husband will not want you to be coming to him all the time with a righteous look on your face saying "Darling, I really don't think that it is honoring to God that you watch sports on Sunday night". No. Change yourself first. And pray that God would show your husband (or father, it's good practice for the day you do have a husband) if it truly is sinful to watch TV on the Lord's Day, because you might be mistaken.
Of course, if he was doing something that was really sinful, like murdering people, you would have to call the police and turn him in.

7. Do not expect your friends to fulfill your needs. Even when you are in a marriage relationship you will sometimes feel lonely. It is important that you not become dependent on a person for your spiritual and emotional needs. If you do, you will become disappointed and bitter.

8. Reading your Bible every day will help you to keep your whole life and all of your relationships pleasing to God (You don't have to get up at 5:00 AM to read your Bible, and it doesn't have to be for an hour, do what you can and you will find that even a little bit can bless you and the people around you).

Now, none of the things that I have mentioned can be done in your own strength. You need to pray that God would work them in you, and maybe ask your parents or prayer partner to pray for you as well. But that doesn't mean that you should not work at it, pray for God's help and then try but don't get discouraged when you fail, just try again.

I would suggest going over the verses I have mentioned and reading them in context, or looking up verses that apply to relationships yourself. (I love to read through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation... there is such a wealth of wisdom in every book about relationships.)And when you have read what the Bible says about relationships, I challenge you to do make a list of the qualities that a godly friend would have. Then set out to become that friend. (This can help you to put the principles into practice.)

Miss Amanda writes a column for Growing in Grace Magazine about Friends... make sure to check it out.