Tuesday, December 21, 2010

School - Public or Home?

I appreciate everyone's responses to my request in the post "Public School vs Home". I have chosen one person out of each of the four categories that were submitted. One young lady was exclusively home schooled; two were exclusively public schooled but graduated with very different views, and one was public schooled for her early education and was home schooled for her high school years.

*EDIT* Technical difficulties are a thing of the past - all of the essays are now available on this post. :-)

Benefits of Homeschool over Public School
By Lieren S.

Hello! My name is Lieren S., I am 16 years old, and have been homeschooled all my life. I do not know very much about public school, but based on what little I do know, I am continually grateful to my parents for their decision to homeschool me! As the oldest of 11 children, I have had the great blessing not only of being homeschooled myself, but also of helping to homeschool my younger siblings. Yes, I have sometimes thought that it would be fun to go to school, and it might be - for about a day. Because I am homeschooled, I have been able to pursue many things that I would not have had time for in public school, such as filmmaking, baking, and helping my father in his self-employed business. Below are several reasons why I believe homeschooling is superior to public school.

1. Homeschooling is consistent with the Bible.
Look up in your concordance, and tell me where you find the word “education.” It is never mentioned in the Bible. Broaden that to “wisdom”, “knowledge” and “understanding”, and you will find a host of verses - even the entire book of Proverbs - dedicated to the impartation of wisdom. Perhaps the most common verse used to support homeschooling is Deuteronomy 6:6-9:
“And these words which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently into thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.”
Obviously, it would be very difficult to obey this verse in the public school system!

2. There is little to no negative peer pressure.
The common saying “if all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you jump too?” seems funny at first, but in reality it is a very important question. Do you care more about what your friends think of you, or what God thinks of you? Proverbs 4:14-15 says:
“Enter not into the path of the wicked and go not in the way of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it and pass away.”
The “path of the wicked” could very well describe public school. Why would you intentionally place yourself in the middle of temptation and evil? Homeschooling allows you to build lasting friendships with like-minded people, who will encourage you rather than tempt you to compromise. And when your only classmates are your siblings, peer pressure is never an issue!

3. The schedule is flexible.
This is one of the more practical benefits of homeschooling - and one of the most fun! If something unexpected occurs, it’s not difficult to simply rearrange the schedule to accommodate it. It also makes you more available to help others. Every other Thursday, for example, my mom takes my grandmother out to lunch, and visits with her. She takes a few kids with her, and they are able to be a blessing to my grandmother in a way they could not be if they were in public school. There are also fun benefits! For example, our family always goes on vacation during the first two weeks of September. During the two most beautiful weeks of the year (we think!), while most kids are headed back to school, we’re headed on vacation! During the heat of summer you can sit in your air conditioned house and do schoolwork, and then take a month or two off to enjoy the beautiful fall weather and rake leaves.:-)

4. You are able to interact comfortably with all ages.
The way the school system lumps all children in with their own age group results in teenagers that don’t know how to communicate with anyone besides other teenagers. They don’t know how to talk intelligently with adults, or interact with younger children. This is not only inadequate preparation for living life as an adult, but it also misses the amazing experience of learning from the older and wiser men and women who have gone before us. Learning outside of the public school system naturally puts us in position to combine the wisdom of age with the energy of youth, while public school goes in the opposite direction, making the Biblical pattern of mentoring much more difficult.

5. It keeps the family intact.
The breakup of the family in America and around the world has been widely caused by the public school system. Although television, ipods, computers and other technology have done their share to create a ‘me-centered‘ world, government schools are one of the biggest offenders. With the kids on the school bus and out of the way every morning, the mothers are ‘free’ to pursue their own interests. This ‘freedom’ for women, has ultimately resulted in more women than men in the work force today. And we wonder where all the men have gone! God created men and women different for a purpose - the family. Men are better able than women to handle the stress and difficulties of work outside the home. Women are better able than men to handle the stress and difficulties of running a household and raising children. This is not random chance! This is how God designed it to be! In the homeschool family, the mother and children are at home together all day long. Although for some this may seem more like a nightmare than a dream, the relationships built with family at home are the cornerstones of rebuilding our fallen country. And the more time you spend with your family, the more time you will want to spend with them. Really! :-)

“Let them alone; they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.” Matthew 15:14
Imagine with me for a moment that both of us are blind, and trying to make our way across a busy intersection. If I attempted to lead you, we would both meet with disaster because neither of us could see where we were going. In the same way, most students at public schools are spiritually blind and without direction. If you allow the blind to lead you, disaster will occur. Keep your eyes on the light, for you are not blind! You have the King of the Universe for your father, and He has a perfect and beautiful plan for your life. Do not waste your time on the frivolous and oftentimes harmful pleasures the world has to offer. Live each moment for the glory of your King, and prepare yourself to serve Him until His task for you is complete.

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil.”
Ecclesiastes 10: 13-14

By Olivia -
Government schools are not fairy tales like movies show them to be (Highschool Musical, A Cinderella story, etc.) – they are dangerous places. More than ever we see young ladies roaming around lost, unprotected, and unloved. Trying to be found, protected and loved, many young women fantasize that a new and better life would be found somewhere else other than their home – like attending a public school where they can be with friends all day or be noticed more than they are now.

I am 17 years old and was adopted into a loving, Christian homeschooling family when I was ten years old. Before being homeschooled, I attended public schools. I can tell you from experience they are not always fun and jolly. Yes, any day can bring fun – no matter where you are. But we have to look at the value of the fun being given. My parents, and most homeschooling parents, choose to homeschool their children because of their love for their children and their desire to protect them by showing them the Truth…Jesus Christ. Your parents desire your heart and your mind and are unwilling to hand them over to the government school system, especially for the sake of a different kind of “fun”. They aren’t just keeping you home to help clean the house, keep the younger children together, to have no friends, or whatever reason may be making you discontent. Homeschooling can be very "fun"! It is all in your choice of attitude.

Young ladies, I encourage you to be thankful for the blessing you were given in being homeschooled. I know a young Christian public high school student that has been government schooled all the way through school. She has said to me before that she wishes she had been homeschooled and really values all that she sees in my life. Many people think that being public schooled is a way to share the gospel with the lost, but what happens is that the Christian student often gets “preached” to from the government system and ends up losing their heart to the lies being fed to them.

Please value the gift your parents are giving you and don’t long for some “fairy-tale” called public school. Do not toss aside the gift your parents are giving you – a gift from God!

Public high school is often quite unfairly vilified in my opinion. Public high school is what you make of it. If you take advantage of the resources and put in the effort, you can get a lot out of it. If you hang out with the “good” kids, you most likely won’t get dragged into perilous situations (crazy parties, drugs, etc.) as is often depicted in the movies. My opinion of public school is almost entirely positive. I was in New England public schools from kindergarten until I graduated from high school, and am now a student at a private college. I can’t imagine having experienced the same academic and personal growth from completing high school at a private school or at home.

First, I should probably tell you a bit about who I am. I have always been an introverted person. I was born introverted, and will probably be introverted for the rest of my life. However, when I was younger, I was also quite shy. Now, I am much less shy, although I am not outgoing by any means. I am also self-motivated. In this regard, I think I would have done well with homeschooling. I love to learn. Another important note: I’m quite familiar with homeschooling, since they majority of my cousins are/have been homeschooled.

Academically, I had an amazing high school experience. The public schools in my town are pretty good and my school offered a fair number of honors and AP (advanced placement) courses. I didn’t have as much freedom to choose my classes during the 9th and 10th grades since I had more required classes. However, this was fine since I did not really know what I wanted to study yet anyway. I did have the freedom to choose the levels of the classes I took (AP vs. honors vs. college prep. My school also offered level 2 and 3 classes, which were for students who were either not planning on college or needed extra help). By taking mostly honors classes, most of my classmates were the same (my graduating class was 230, but I really only took classes with about 50 of them). During my junior and senior years, I got to choose most of my classes, as well as some of my teachers. I loved the sciences, so I took mostly science classes. My school offered some science courses on specific topics, such as aquatic ecosystems. During my senior year, I took seven academic classes (and when I say academic, I mean sciences/math/English/foreign language) in addition to an online course. On any given night, I could have 3-7 hours of homework. With my extracurriculars on top of this, I was busy with school from 6:30 in the morning until I went to bed at 10. This may seem like a lot, but my work increased gradually throughout my public school education. In 9th grade, I probably had about 1-4 hours of homework per night and fewer extracurriculars. So, by the time I reached my senior year, I felt well prepared and ready to tackle it. It definitely taught me effective time and stress management.

I hear a lot of unfairly negative critiques of public school teachers. Most high school teachers are there because they enjoy teaching and know a lot about their subject. Of course, there’s always the chance that you’ll get a teacher who is not great. However, you will also have six other teachers who could be amazing. Several years after my high school graduation, I am still in contact with my favorite teachers. I learned a lot from my high school teachers, and most of them truly care about their students. They’re typically kind and helpful people, not the scary out-of-touch adults that movies usually depict.

I also had a good social experience in high school. High school can be rather clique-y, but for me, that was not a bad thing. I had a group of about 10 friends who I had classes with and would hang out with outside of class. My group of friends coexisted with everyone else at school. I never personally experienced any bullying and we certainly never bullied anyone else. That’s not to say that bullying doesn’t exist; it does. However, you should not automatically think “If I go to public school, I’m going to have to worry about bullies.” That simply isn’t true.

Going to public school definitely made me less shy. I’m not saying being shy is necessarily a bad thing, but it is if it interferes with your ability to stand up for yourself and what you believe in. I learned good social skills and how to interact with many different people.

I usually did not have very much time to spend with friends outside of school. Sometimes we would get together on a Friday or Saturday night, but we never partied. Honestly, I never even heard about any high school parties (at least not the “traditional” crazy high school parties. Of course, my friends and I had small birthday parties, but these usually included a movie and a sleepover). Even if we didn’t have a lot of time outside of school, I still got to spend 8 hours a day with my friends since we were typically in the same classes.

I obviously do not think that homeschoolers are in any way inferior or lacking in socialization. However, I do have one problem with homeschooling (especially if you’re homeschooling for religious purposes, but this applies to all homeschooling): I don’t believe that anyone can effectively learn about people who have very different ideas/lifestyles by homeschooling. Learning to interact with very different people is something that I would not get by socializing with friends from church or family friends or even by having a part-time job. This is something that I got from public schooling. I learned to put myself in others’ shoes and really understand their perspectives and why they came to think as they do. Also, I think that learning from someone who is not a member of your family or your church is highly beneficial. No matter what you do in life, these are skills that you need to have in order to truly understand people.

Regarding movies depicting public school: NONE of them are remotely accurate. Neither the good nor the bad parts reflect the true high school experience, at least from my point of view. My two favorite high school movies are The Breakfast Club and Mean Girls (funnily enough, both of these movies depict high school as a horrifying experience). Despite my love for these films, I am so thankful that they are NOT real. The high school social scene is not nearly as scary as shown in either of these films. Films that show a more utopian view of high school, like High School Musical, are just as unrealistic. Watching High School Musical and then wanting to go to public school is like watching The Beauty and the Beast and then wanting to go to a French castle (I’m sorry, but you will be sorely disappointed. Public school and French castles lack both the singing). It is a MOVIE, not real life. Never base real-life decisions on movies. That’s just a good rule in general.

If you’re a homeschooler looking to start public school, chances are you will not fall in love with Zac Efron or be manipulated by Regina George. High school is neither a particularly romantic place, nor a scary one. Public school is, above all else, a school. It’s a place to get an education. If you’re a Christian homeschooler, you can absolutely go to public school. If you don’t want to, you don’t have to party or date (I didn’t) and still have a fulfilling high school experience with great friends. Believe it or not, you have choices as a public school student. I would not take back my public school education for anything. I would recommend considering public high school, but don’t expect it to be anything like the movies. You’re there to learn and to grow. My high school was a second home for me; one full of great people and memories.

A Public Experience
By Jacy

Going to public school for me was about friends and boys. Now, don’t get me wrong. I had great classes and some good teachers, most of the time. But as a growing young lady, my focus was never on what was good for me. There are so many kids from all different walks of life trying to be educated in one place, with only one set of rules for everyone. My hungry brain was not being fed the right kinds of food. Public school allowed me to have some good friends. But on the flip side, public school helped me birth excuses against thriving in education and protecting my heart. Eventually I grew out of that stage, but not without some emotional scars.

I believe the biggest problem in public school today is more than just the constant bullying, the overcrowding of classrooms, lack of teacher assistance and experience. It is kids not having the desire or knowledge as to how to guard their hearts properly and to focus on what God wants in their lives. Some of these children have no solid love in their lives, and we expect them to interact with others with dignity and respect that they never had themselves. I’ve known many kids whose parents were divorced, on drugs or plainly just did not care what their child did as long as the parents were not bothered.

Children need love and attention, and when they don’t get what their hearts need at home, school is the next best stop. Can you really blame the child for being a product of their circumstances? Yes, they need to be disciplined like everyone else, but are we really seeing the potential public school can have, and the ministry it can be? Instead of being positive about preparing our children to be a Christ-like example in school, we see it as a passage way to bad choices. The key is deepening a child’s foundation in God that they can withstand and go through the trials of public school as a better compassionate and loving Christian. Sometimes separating children too much from public school is not equipping a child to learn how to interact with others who need Jesus. The fear of our children falling into temptation in schools moves us to keep them segregated, away from the “problem.” I am not against homeschooling, but the problem really lies in the heart of a child or person. There are many unhealthy and ungodly habits being introduced to children at home all over the world.

I wasn’t homeschooled, but my husband was for some of his education. But by middle school and high school, he attended public school in the same town where he grew up. Using both of our experiences while thinking about this article, I concluded that middle school is by far the most terrifying and life changing part of a child’s life. They are neither a small kid nor a teenager, but in between. How confusing a time for them! Being in between two stages that is when children have harder times of adjustment, discipline, acceptance and discernment. Their hearts are still very innocent, and yet society is pushing them to grow quickly when they may not be ready.

For the most part, I went to school with unbelievers. I myself was not much of a follower of Christ until my early 20s, but I still knew there was a God and wanted to know more about Him. I just had no guidance as to how to do that, never mind even a Bible.

Rebellion became my antidote. Children subconsciously know that their lives are meant for more, but what they don’t understand is that God has promised them a role so much higher than where they are right now. Without the proper guidelines from His Word and without good Christian examples in their lives, public school can be a pit of hot rebellion racing through their veins. They lash out just to prove to themselves that they are worth something. Kids try and gain some respect and identity through their harsh words and actions because they have not been taught that they need to be like the Lord Jesus Christ. They have not been told to guard their hearts and keep their emotional purity set on God.

I remember my journal pages filled up daily with juicy details about how a boy I liked smiled at me that day. Or how when he spoke, my heart would flutter and I couldn’t breathe. These are all natural reactions, but I can see now how that was dangerous. Instead of focusing on my schoolwork, I was focusing on another human being to satisfy my hearts desires. As a young girl, this is meant to happen. However I know I could have saved so much time and heartbreak if I was equipped with the proper scriptures concerning my heart and how I needed to have it flutter for God.

Guarding your heart is a daily practice. Going to public school is not just about guarding yourselves physically, but even more so is being pure emotionally. I had spent the majority of my energy swooning over young men and living in my fantasy world that did not exist. I was a creative child and loved art. I credit my imagination for saving my soul against the pressures of drugs and alcohol. Because of my God given gifts, I was able to occupy myself most of the time with something positive and have an outlet for my feelings. But most kids don’t have that, and they don’t know what to turn to in order to satisfy that emptiness inside.

I don’t think public school allows children to keep that innocence within their hearts. I believe the school system has good intentions, but not for the kids. We seem too consumed with the best state test scores and all these fancy numbers that don’t mean anything if a child is still lost and lonely. Yes, we scored the highest grades in our math division! And yet a child is being bullied every day without anyone, teachers included, stepping in to make a real difference. Our main focus in education needs to be on growing and building up these children to be leaders in the world that is in dire need of true compassion and love.

I have been fortunate to have some good teachers who actually care more about the test scores, and focus on touching a child’s heart. But they are few and far between, and this world is not slowing down at a pace that children can cope properly with the many transitions that occur after they done with school.

Proverbs 22:6 says “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

True education needs to start at home. Whether they’re homeschooled or attend public school, children need to be reminded of a higher purpose in their lives so that they will be less likely to try and grasp at the unfulfilling strings in the world. Talk to them but more important, listen. We need to listen to our children because they are calling out for help. When a child rebels against authority, they really are speaking out. Who will hear them? If not you, God will always listen but do they know that? Do our children really know that God is with them always?

Public school for me had many great memories. I had some good and solid friends that I still have today, and am able to minister to thanks to God’s divine intervention. I grew in my talents and Godly gifts thanks to the teachers He placed in my life. But my experience is an exception to many children who did not make it all the way to graduation. The ones who did not have education start at home and the ones who never felt what real love truly was. The power in our hands lets us decide whether we will help our children grow and prosper, or wallow as the product of their circumstances.

Will you be the one that will listen?

I would like to thank everyone who submitted an essay! :-) It was very interesting and helpful to read your different viewpoints and experiences.

If anyone is interested in studying this further, I recommend John Taylor Gatto's book "The Underground History of American Education" - available for online reading at http://www.johntaylorgatto.com/chapters/index.htm. Mr Gatto is an interesting man and was named New York State Teacher of the Year three times - it is fascinating to read his perspective of the system that he taught in for so long.

Another book I recommend is "Safely Home" by Tom Eldredge - this book was written by a Christian author and is an amazing study of the history of education among other things. Though not available online, it is for sale for a reasonable price (new or used).

I do hope that this was helpful to you, and I will do my utmost to ensure that the other two essays are included as soon as possible. :-)

Monday, August 9, 2010

Public School Vs Home

I have noticed a large amount of young ladies who want to go to public school as soon as they reach highschool age, however, when I talk to them they really have no idea what they are hoping for or in for.

All of the popular teen movies (like Highschool Musical, A Cinderella Story, Princess Protection Program) that most of these girls are watching promote a 'fairy-tale' version of public school. Even the "bad" parts of the movie, where the main character is made fun of or abused, is not 'that bad'.

Would anyone be willing to share their experience of public school in an essay of 2,000 words or less? If so, please e-mail it to me at joymarie89 [at] aol [dot] com - Edit: My apologies, ladies, this should read: missjoymarie89 (at) aol (dot) com . Got it right except for the 'miss' at the beginning! Please try again to send me your essay! -

The three top essays will be posted on this blog. Thanks a lot! :-)

Friday, May 28, 2010

Lily Among Thorns - Part 2

Okay, so now we know what a Lily looks like, and we know that is what we want, but HOW DO WE GET THERE FROM WHERE WE ARE??? Of course, God is the One who does the work in us and we wouldn't even be wanting to be closer to Him unless He had called us (1 John 4:19), but so often we feel the fire of passion for God growing in our spirit and we just don't know what to do with it. Thankfully, God has given us very clear instructions in the Bible about what He wants us to do when we feel Him calling us to a more fulfilled and God-centered life than we now have.
(Note: See the end of the post for some recommended tools in starting out on this new phase of your life.)
So what are we supposed to do after we have 'accepted Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior'?

1."Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths." Proverbs 3:5-6
"Commit thy way unto the Lord, trust also in Him and He shall bring it to pass. And He shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light and thy judgment as the noonday." Psalm 37:5-6 (Go and read all of Psalm 37, it's really amazing!)
Okay, so, how are we supposed to commit our way unto the Lord? PRAY!!!
As you start out on this brand new phase of your life, go into a quiet room all by yourself (the bathroom works good for this if you honestly can't find anywhere else), get down on your knees (yes, I'm serious), and pray out loud to the God of the Universe who is calling to your heart (if you pray quietly or in a whisper, that's okay too, but it is important that you say the words with your mouth as well as your heart).
Commit your life, job, relationships, health, anger, fear, talents, everything to your Father, and ask Him to direct your paths and to show you what to do next.
Ask Him to show you what is in your life that is tying you to this world, is an idol to you or is standing between you and Him.

2. "
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life." Galations 6:7-8
As you begin to do this, God will show you what is that you are idolizing. What it is that you are escaping to when you should be going to Him. (Escaping might sound something like this: "Oh man, I'm so stressed out! I just need to shut my mind off for a little while. I think I'll go watch a movie... go on facebook... vent on my blog... listen to music... go shopping... have some chocolate...")
One good way to evaluate whether or not something is an idol is to ask yourself whether or not you could live without it. (I believe that Leslie Ludy has a whole section on this in her book "Set Apart Femininity" that was very helpful to me. I wish that I could quote her, but I don't have the book at the moment.)

3. "
I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish." Galations 5:16-17
(It goes on to list what the works of the flesh are... very interesting. If you have a moment, make sure to go read Galations 5:13-26)
As God shows you what you are replacing Him with, GET RID OF IT!!! Let nothing stand against your pursuit of Him! And please realize that He might not be calling you to never ever have another piece of chocolate again, but perhaps if you go on a fast from it, you might have an easier time "sowing to the spirit and not the flesh".

Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints..." Ephesians 6:18
Take the time that is freed up by getting rid of your 'escape', and use it to read the Bible and pray. Make sure not to fill it up with something else. If you get stop watching movies but take that time to listen to music (yes, even Christian music), than you are missing the point. The whole point of any kind of fast in this context (whether of entertainment, food, or anything), is to deny the flesh and to free up more time to spend with God and find out what He is calling you to.
I'll give you a very quick example out of my own life. My parents go for a walk every evening and it takes them about 30-45 minutes. Now by this time my chores are all done and I am free to do whatever I want (within reason of course) ;-). This is a perfect opportunity to spend time in prayer. (Besides, I found that when I had a time limit like that, it made it so that I was not constantly looking at the clock or trying to 'hurry up and get it over with'.)
This is an exercise of your will and your spirit, and if you are not used to it this can be tiring, but it will be very rewarding if you use the time to pray according to God's will.

(One quick note on prayer: if you run out of things to pray for, try opening the Bible to a Scripture, say Ephesians 6:10-18 or Psalm 37, and praying through it. - ie "Dear Father, help me not to fret myself because of evildoers, and not to be envious against the workers of iniquity... Rather work in my heart that I may trust in You, and give me wisdom and strength from You to do good. Help me to delight myself in You, and let the desire of my heart be to be a good and faithful servant to You. Lord, I do commit my way unto you, and do choose to trust in you, please give me righteousness that shines like the light
Also, consider this quote: "There is a general kind of praying which fails for lack of precision. It is as if a regiment of soldiers should all fire off their guns anywhere. Possibly somebody would be killed, but the majority of the enemy would be missed." - Charles Spurgeon, The Metroplitan Tabernacle Pulpit)

5. "
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled." 2 Corinthians 10:3-6
As God shows you the strongholds in your life, go ahead and use the mighty weapons that He has given you (Ephesians 6:10-18) to pull down the strongholds, cast down the imaginations of your heart (for some young ladies sensual imaginings is a huge stumbling block) etc.

6. "Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”" 1 Peter 1:13-16
Continue to fight against the idols in your life by refreshing yourself through prayer.
Also see "The Physical Side of Mental Purity" "Compromises" "Crushes on Unavailable Men" "PTGW Part 8: Taking Care of Your Soul" "Questions About Crushes, Attention, and Other Stuff!" "A Joyful, Thankful Heart" and "Tips for Mental Purity" for some more in depth practical suggestions about some of the more common strongholds and stumbling blocks for young ladies.

7. "Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these.”" Mark 12:29-31
Pray, pray, pray! Pray without ceasing! Pray for the strength of God in this time of growing in your life! Pray that He would make you into a woman after His own Heart! Pray specifically for the godly qualities you are lacking! You are going to need His help, for "...Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”" Matthew 19:26b

And now for the recommended tools that I promised!

1. "The Steps to Freedom" by Neil Anderson - this is a great tool for the start of your journey and can help you to identify the strongholds in your life and cast them down. I would highly recommend this to EVERYONE!!! (Don't get turned off by how small it is, it is a powerful tool because it uses the Truth of God's Word to identify and cast down strongholds.) Highly Recommended

2. "Praying God's Word: Breaking Free From Spiritual Strongholds" by Beth Moore - this is an excellent place to start praying God's word, and gives a little more concentrated help on the areas of weakness in your life. Recommended

3. "Get Out of That Pit: A 40-Day Devotional Journal" by Beth Moore - I have never read the original book, but this journal is very helpful for those struggling with depression. Recommended

4. "Set Apart Femininity" by Leslie Ludy - This book is one of the main ways that God called me to more than the mediocre Christianity I was living. Highly Recommended

5. "Wrestling Prayer" by Eric and Leslie Ludy - If you are looking for a step by step guide to becoming more than a mediocre Christian, this is an amazing and very challenging book to grow you in your faith and service to the Lord! Highly Recommended

6. "The Bible" the supernaturally inspired and perfect Word of God. Highly Highly Highly HIGHLY Recommended!!!!

And just one last word of encouragement...
“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened." Luke 11:9-10

(These verses in this post are just meant to get you started, please go ahead and read the full chapters and books that I have quoted from here and continue to seek God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength. As usual, if you have any questions, or if you come across any other verses that you think would enhance this post, or would be a blessing to those reading it, please leave a comment.)

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Hello there, ladies! I am working on part 2 of the Lilly post, but I wanted to announce that my Jewelry Website is now open! :-) Go check it out and tell a friend! :-) thejoyofjewelry.blogspot.com
The Joy of Jewelry Button

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Lily Among Thorns - Part 1

"As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters." Song of Solomon 2:2

Who wouldn't want to be something as beautiful as a lily, especially when the alternative is an ugly thorn whose sole purpose is to wound and destroy?

Although the Song of Solomon speaks mostly about the love in a marriage relationship, we know that the only way that we can truly become as a lily among thorns is through a life devoted to Christ. It is only through Christ that we can live at all; without him we are completely dead spiritually.

Now I know that we need to look at Scripture as a whole and not just take one verse and run wild with it, but this post is based on the principles that I have seen all throughout Scripture and I have chosen this particular verse because it illustrates the goal so beautifully. So please just bear with me as I use the idea in this Scripture to create a picture in your mind.

To be truly set apart, to be so obviously more beautiful and different than others, to be as pure and unsullied as a lily. We all, as Christian young ladies, want this. In fact I would venture to guess that every single woman out there - Christian or not - would love the idea of being so beautiful that she is like a lily compared to thorns.

So why, when we look around at the Christian young ladies that we see, does it seem that the Church is so full of thorns without a single lily? Or at best we see a bunch of thorns with only the promise of an unopened bud breaking the monotony of identical brown 'stickers' once in a very great while?
Well, I know the answer, and I will tell you what it is. Being a Lily is not an easy thing. It is easier to be a comfortable worldly Christian (hey, at least thorns are alive to some extent, right?), than to pray and strive towards being completely devoted to Christ.

This idea was amazingly summed up by Ian Thomas when he said, "Carnal Christians profess Christ as their Redeemer, but their actions and decisions are for the sake of their own interests and for who they are in themselves rather than for God's interest and for Who He is. Their minds are still the workshops of the devil, for he can persuade countless numbers of professing Christians to try and be Christians without Christ."

Do you want me to tell you what being a Lily really looks like in everyday life? It looks like spending time praying and deepening your relationship with God every single day. Treating others (including your family) as better than yourself. Loving your enemies and doing good to those who hate you. Saying no to immodest clothing and indecent behavior. Giving up anything in your life that sows discontentment or resentment or any kind of sin - whether it's movies, tv shows, books, the internet or friends. It means standing up when Jesus Christ is spit upon, not sitting by and hoping that no one notices you. It means helping the helpless, befriending the friendless, giving hope to the hopeless. It means being Jesus' hands, feet, eyes, ears, mouth and heart in this world. It means making Jesus Christ your First Love, letting Him decide what your earthly love story will look like. It means being willing to do anything and everything for Him and through Him. It means experiencing the fruits of the spirit in your life. It means NOT fitting in. It means that you stand out. It means recognizing that you have NO beauty in and of yourself (yeah, try telling that to the pop-Christian culture), but ONLY when the One who is the "perfection of beauty" (Psalm 50) is allowed to shine through you.
And that's only the beginning of the list! Sounds exhausting- not to mention impossible- doesn't it?

Well, without God it is impossible. You can't do it (yeah, forget about the "you can do anything you want" message- it's a lie). Only Jesus can when you allow Him and ask Him to work through you! And guess what?! When He does the work, you will find more rest and beauty in your life than you ever thought possible. Through Jesus you can become a true Lily, with the beauty and life of our Savior radiating from you. (And by the way, being a true Lily is the only way to attract the right kind of man; who wants to marry someone who is attracted to a thorn?!) A Christ-centered life is the ONLY life worth living.

So you know what being a God-centered woman looks like (if not, just read the Bible...), but right now you're a Christian young woman who is tired of trying to look like a thorn (i.e. normal) while wishing to experience the true fulfillment that comes from pouring your life out for Christ.

First of all, Jesus is the only one that can put this desire in your heart, so if it is there you can be sure that He will grow you into a true Lily when you ask Him to take your life and do His work through you.

Since this blog is about the practical application of Biblical principles, the 2nd part of this will be about a practical way to take the next step towards being a 'Lily among thorns' (or a woman 'after God's own heart')

Before I finish, I will give you the first thing to do: Pray and dedicate your life to Christ. Ask Him to take over in every area of your life and to do His work through you.
"Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain." Psalm 127:1

"A pure heart is one to which all that is not of God is strange and jarring." - John Talver

Friday, March 19, 2010

Living in Fear of Pleasure

Have you ever noticed how many devoted Christians seem to live in fear of enjoying anything? Almost as if when they take pleasure in anything they are doing something wrong.

I know of so many Christian families who desire to serve the Lord with their whole heart, but they continually walk around with sad, worried faces on as they live with the concern that perhaps they are not pleasing to God.
You know what, though? Walking around being controlled by fear isn't pleasing to God! Jesus did not die on the Cross to set us free from the bondage of sin and death, only to intend us to fall right back into another kind of slavery to fear and anxiety.
Now I'm not saying that we shouldn't strive to please God, that we shouldn't fear God, or that we shouldn't do our absolute best to follow His Word. But rather that as we go about our daily lives doing all those things, we should make sure to enjoy the wonderful things that God has blessed us with.

I created this blog because I noticed that there was a great deal being said about what was the right thing to do, but nothing about the practical aspect of how exactly to do it. I still think that it is an important thing to address, and I plan on continuing to do so. But as we take principles from the Bible and apply them to our lives in this day and age, let's make sure not to impose extra Biblical standards or rules on ourselves or others. Rules like: no wine, no boy/girl friendships, no makeup, no cars, no doing anything outside of the home, no fun... all work to tie us up into a spiritual and emotional bundle of worry and anxiety.

Now I understand that some people or families have certain rules that are not specifically listed in the Bible, such as no wine, and I think that it is a wonderful thing that we have the liberty to take the personal convictions that God has given us individually and apply them to our lives. (For instance, a man we know used to be an alcoholic and he was convicted of God and was able to quit. He has decided not to have even a taste of any kind of alcohol because it is too great of a temptation for him.) I think that it shows true maturity to recognize the personal weakness that each of us have, and learn how to fortify ourselves against them.

What we need to be careful of is the desire to impose the personal convictions that we have onto other people. (Now I'm not talking about things like not getting drunk; that is something that is clearly talked about in the Bible. Rather I'm talking about things like no wine ever.) It is important to understand that different people have different weaknesses. One man can't even smell wine without putting himself into temptation, and another can enjoy several glasses and not have a problem. One girl might have a problem with romance novels, while another can read one now and then and not have any more of a struggle with her emotions (*I am talking about 'pg' rated books... 'x' rated books are not right for anyone).

The Pharisees excelled at creating extra Biblical rules. If you have never done a study on the Pharisees I would recommend doing some research on them. It is very interesting because they were the 'real' religious men of the time. The trouble is that they often would put man made laws on the same level of importance as the Torah. What their man made laws actually did for the most part was to take God's law and say, "If we aren't supposed to work on the Sabbath, than we shouldn't look in a mirror on the Sabbath because we might see a gray hair and pull it out, and thereby work and blaspheme God".
In theory, it sounds good to extend the boundaries that God put in place so that we don't ever run a chance of breaking one of His commandments. (One example of this is to take the commandment about extra-marital sex and think that if it's good to have a law against that, it's better to have a rule against pre-marital hand holding. Not a problem if it's a personal conviction, but definitely a problem if you use your own rules as a standard to judge others.)

Jesus said "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30. Romans 8:1-2 says "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death."
The Pharisees, and many Christians today, have simply exchanged the heavy burden of sin for the heavy burden of guilt. It is so sad to see so many Christian girls who seem to still be in spiritual and emotional slavery. This is not of Christ! His burden is light! If you are under a heavy burden, than give it to Jesus and be free. Free from bondage to sin and guilt, and free to have joy and pleasure in your life.

And just because your family has certain rules that you have to follow doesn't mean that you can't be free. As long as you live in your father's household you must obey the rules of the house that are not specifically against God's Word. What I'm talking about is less of a physical action, and more of a spiritual and emotional struggle.

God created good things for us to enjoy as we follow His Word. Ecclesiastes 9:7-10a says "Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart; for God has already accepted your works. Let your garments always be white, and let your head lack no oil. Live joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days of your vain life which He has given you under the sun, all your days of vanity; for that is your portion in life, and in the labor which you perform under the sun. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might..."

So don't forget to enjoy the beautiful and wonderful things that God has given us today! If you are interested in reading more about this, I would recommend reading the book of Romans, which is one of my favorite books of the Bible. If this subject is something that you struggle with than you will find it (and especially chapter 8) extremely helpful. :-)

Monday, February 22, 2010


Just a quick note to say please do not click on any links in my comments section. I seem to be having trouble with people posting very inappropriate links. I have reported the blogger that keeps doing this, but if anyone has any ideas of how to stop them from doing this I would really appreciate it. Thanks! :-)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." Romans 12:1-3

"Do not be deceived: 'Evil company corrupts good habits'." 1 Corinthians 15:33

It was so wonderful when we dedicated our lives to Christ, wasn't it? It was exciting when we began to have different beliefs fall in place: baptism, gender rolls, modesty, like-minded friends, Bible believing church... we were enthusiastic and ready to 'do it'.
If only we could have held on to that enthusiasm and energy forever! Instead we suddenly wake up one day to realize that we have compromised little by little until we have no idea how to get back on track short of starting completely over again (which, let's be honest, is not going to happen).

So what should we do when we find that we are most definitely being conformed to this world, and we doubt that the transformation we have undergone has had anything to do with the renewing of our mind?

Well, the obvious answer is to change and to get back to living the way that God wants us to. But the next question is not quite so easy to answer. How? How do we get from the state that we have discovered ourselves to be in to living like Jesus wants us to? Here are a few ideas...

1. Pray about it. I probably have said this in just about every post on this blog, but that doesn't make it any less true. Prayer is an amazing thing, it is the way God has given us to talk to Him!

2. Read your Bible. Sit down and look at your schedule and try to find ten minutes that you can set aside just to read your Bible. If you honestly can't think of when to have it, put a Bible in your bathroom and read as much as you can in the time you spend in there in the morning and evening. (There, *cough cough* was that practical enough?) Start in Genesis (or Matthew if you prefer), and just read through. But don't just do that 'open to a random spot and read a verse' thing... that's only allowed once in a while. ;-)

3. Look at your friends and who you are spending the most time with. Are they a godly influence in your life? Do they encourage you to follow Jesus with your whole heart, mind, soul and strength? Friends have a huge influence on our lives, but it's not always that obvious. I believe that you should not have any close non-Christian friends (or close Christian friends who are living in sin). That does NOT mean that you should suddenly cut them completely out of your life or that you should tell them that you can't be friends anymore because as of right now they're going to hell. What this does mean is that if you find yourself becoming too close to a non-Christian, you should begin to extract yourself little by little until you are more like friendly acquaintances than best friends. Now every circumstance is different, but here are a few ideas to get you started.

a. If they are internet friends, stop replying to their e-mails every day. Just back off a bit and only e-mail them once a week. If they ask you what's up, tell them that you are busy and are trying not to spend so much time on the computer (or whatever is true for you). Do NOT tell them that you don't want to be best friends anymore. That is not kind and is unnecessary. (One trouble with many people these days is that they think that if you don't tell the entire truth you are lying. While I am not suggesting that you lie, I am suggesting that you be tactful and kind. If you saw a friend and instantly noticed that they were wearing a shirt that clashed with their pants, you do not have to tell them, right?)

b. If they are friends that you see in person, stop spending so much free time with them. Simply find something else to do most of the time (maybe read your Bible). ;-)

c. Be nice to them, but don't invest yourself in them. Instead do your best to find solid Christian friends to invest your time in. (And they don't have to be perfect, no one is, but they should be doing their best to live in line with God's word.)

4. Find a good church. You can always find one if you look hard enough. And you don't necessarily have to agree with everything they preach. As long as they don't teach things that are against the Bible. (For instance, even if you believed in paedobaptism, you could go some where that taught believers baptism -that's called Christian liberty-, but you wouldn't go somewhere that preached that abortion is right.) However, it is important that they teach the Bible.

5. Set godly and realistic goals such as reading a chapter of the Bible every day, going to church once a week, not entertaining impure thoughts or crushes, or whatever God has convicted you about.

6. Find someone to be accountable to. Now this could be your Mom, or it could be a Christian friend. Explain to them the goals that you would like to be accountable for, and ask them to check with you on a regular basis, at least once a week, to see how you are doing.

7. If you realize that you are spending a lot of your time somewhere (workplace, school, sports) with people who are ungodly, and God shows you that you are only going to continue falling further away from Him if you stay in that place, than you need to leave. Now I understand that would be incredibly difficult, and that is something that only God could tell you if it is necessary, but if He does tell you to quit, that is exactly what you need to do. As long as you are following His will, He will take care of you.

8. Choose your hill to die on. Don't make every little thing a matter of life or death. And don't try to change everything at once, that will only leave you discouraged.

9. Be a witness by living your life the way you should. Do not take your conviction and try to force it on all of your friends (Christian or not). Do pray for them. And don't mistake picking on them for being a good witness (if your friend has tattoos, it won't do either of you any good if you start going on about what the Bible says about it. That will only make it so that they are less likely to listen to you).

Before I close, I would like to respond specifically to the anonymous comment I received a few days ago (remember, if you want me to respond to you personally, I do need your blog or e-mail address)...


I feel stuck and I would love your help!

I am a 19-year-old daughter of wonderful parents, but they have supported me to follow the world's cookie cutout for life; public school, and now I find myself at a huge secular university. I believe God wants me here now, and I have tried to live out my faith here, but tonight I was convicted of subtle compromises I have made without even realizing it. I find myself the somewhat close friend of a gay man, crushing on men when I shouldn't be, and surrounded by so much worldliness that I forget about God. I am not joining these people but not standing against/reaching out to them either. I want God to reign more in my life, but it feels like swimming upstream at a secular university (to be expected) and I don't know where to start. Specifically, how do I behave with non-christian friends (who I have inevitably made here)? Or even friends who are christian but have compromised like I have? How do I tell them I want to change, that I need to take God more seriously in everything that I do? I mean, if I were at home, it would be so much easier to live my faith, serving my parents and family; it is my comfort zone. But here, God's law is turned upside down. I have been praying about it, and I would love your thoughts!"

Dear friend,
I hope that the ideas that I have given here have been helpful to you. If you still have questions, please feel free to ask. I know that you are trying to do something that is extremely difficult, and only God can tell you what specifically you should do in your situation. I will be praying for you, that God would give you wisdom and courage to do His will, that He would show you what is and is not important, and that you would be encouraged and find Christian friends who will encourage you do to His will.
May God bless you!