Monthly Archives: May 2012

The Spin Cycle

No kids or washing machines were harmed in the making of this photo ... but Tiffany wishes no one had had a camera when she chose this particular stunt.

Once there was a young girl and all she wanted was to be perfect. There was a photo of her as a small child climbing into the washing machine because her shirt got dirty. It was no longer perfect and she was going to wash it. The problem was that she, being two years old, had forgotten to take herself out of it first.

As she grew older she learned that clothes, not people, went into the washing machine. Some 12 years later that same girl found herself with the daunting task of being a high school freshman. After less than a week she wasn’t perfect anymore. This honor roll, volleyball girl with close friends and was a loner who apparently could not comprehend the concept of the poem and was facing a schedule that barely left her time to sleep let alone play a sport. So, she did what she had learned and cleaned up the mess.

Her mistake this time was that she did take herself out of it first.

A shy, but mostly confident young girl became an outwardly extroverted girl with confidence, sarcasm, and academic focus like no other. On the inside the real girl was drowning. She started noticing every flaw. Every physical imperfection she had stood out to her. A small tummy that had never bothered her suddenly became a cover up buying spree. A sudden realization of a flatter chest meant she constantly crossed her arms and fuzzy hair led to never again sleeping in past 6:00 a.m.

For the next four years she would see a frumpy nerd who had friends who were boys but no boyfriends. She would walk around with a smile on her face all the while wishing that she could look a little different or be that size in the vain hope it would somehow make her perfect. That all those physical things would make someone notice that she was indeed the best. It never happened.

I wish I could tell you that if you are this girl that those things that we judge ourselves on, those flaws, will magically go away when you graduate and become an “adult,” but that isn’t true. They haven’t for her and she is twenty-two now. However, I can tell you that her mistake was taking herself, her real self, out of the equation in order to be perfect. The Bible tells you and me that God made us and loves us that way (Psalm 139, Isaiah 43). He doesn’t want you to change the person he made into something to fit the world’s expectations of us, but rather modify yourself, on the inside, to best follow Him so that you can truly be His follower. We have to trust God to have a plan for the person that He created and loves which works better than trying to make ourselves into a better version of who we are, especially if that version is a lie. By the way if you are wondering how I know so much about this girl, she is me. See, even Christian girls try to jump into life’s washing machine sometimes without God, and without God the end result is we are stuck on the spin cycle with the overwhelming smell of detergent and a purple sock slapping us in the face.

Think of some situations where you’ve taken yourself out. Ask God to help you put yourself back in. Send us an email under the Contact Us section, or give us a comment to let us know how it goes.

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Plans {Or Not}

 

photo by Tiffany Taylor

Summer is here bringing with it the ever-consuming question – “so what are your plans? What are you going to do now?” While it’s a question that delights some of us, it more often then not strikes fear in our hearts. What are we going to do this summer? Be bored, look for a job (what job should we take!?), who should we hang out with or date, what schools should we visit for college, or what sports should we be involved in? The questions are as varied and unique as each individual person is, but we all have them. Each one of us has questions about our future.

 Proverbs 3:5-6 says:

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.

The Lord directs our paths (the direction of our lives, and the things we do in life).

In the middle of wondering and worrying about what we should do the Lord tells us to trust Him – He has the plan for our lives! Proverbs says if we acknowledge Him, He will direct us. The word ‘acknowledge’ here doesn’t mean “oh hey God” like the way we would acknowledge a friend who walked into the room. It has a deeper meaning.

Here the word “acknowledge” comes from the Hebrew word “Yada” which means to deeply know someone. Like knowing your best friend kind of knowing. So the Lord will direct our paths (let us know what to do in life) when we get to know Him. The Lord is all about having a friendship and relationship with us. He wants to let us in on the plans for our lives. In wondering what we should do in life (or this summer!), we are really looking for wisdom.

One of the names for the Lord is Counselor (one with Wisdom). As we search for wisdom the first thing we need to do is seek the Lord. He IS wisdom!

If we could paraphrase Proverbs 3:6 it might sound like this:

‘In everything you do know the Lord and He will guide you in what to do’. Do you ‘know’ the Lord in everything you do?

This summer as you try to make plans (big or little!) I challenge you to learn to know the Lord more as well – then He will help and guide you in making those plans.

 The How To:

Getting to know the Lord is just like getting to know one of your friends!

You get know your friends by:

  • Hanging out with them {The Lord lives in each believer and we can get to know the Lord better by hanging out with Christian friends who will teach us what they know of Him by how they live}
  • Listen to music with them {Listen to worship music or music with Christian lyrics to get to know the Lord more}
  • Facebook tells us what our friends have done {Reading the Bible tells us what the Lord has done}
  • Most importantly we talk with our friends {With the Lord we just call this prayer – tell the Lord about your day – He cares about all the details good or bad}

What are some of the things you do to get to know the Lord better? Or to seek His wisdom as you plan this summer? Please comment below and let us know!

 

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A Challenge for Summer: Letting the Bible Make a Difference!

Photo by Bethany Brown

The final bell has rung at last, and you are free from the “bonds” of textbooks and homework assignments! Congratulations!

I hope that you will allow me the chance to explain my next words because I have a challenge for you. Even though summer is here, I challenge you to continue studying.

Still with me?

Now I don’t mean for you to break out the algebra books or pick up a copy of Romeo and Juliet (although I am sure that your future teachers would be super impressed if you did). No, I want you to study the Bible. Why? Because it can make a difference, if you let it, in every facet of your life.

Care to try it out with me? Open up your Bible to the book of Acts, chapter 3. (Don’t have a Bible? Don’t worry about it! You can view the Bible online for free…here is one of my favorite sites: http://www.biblegateway.com/)

This is the story of a crippled man whom Jesus healed. Every day, the crippled man was carried to the gate of a temple (called Beautiful – how’s that for irony?) where he would beg of the passersby. [The Bible says he begged for “alms,” and if you dig a little deeper (a simple Google search is a great start!) you will find that the meaning of this word is basically charitable giving, mostly to the poor.] Peter and John (two of the Twelve Disciples) are making their way into the temple when they are met with the lame man. He begs of them for material items, and in return Peter asks the man to look at him. Tell me, when a parent or other person of authority is staring straight into your eyes (no matter the reason), don’t you take them just a little more seriously? So the man obliges hoping for a donation, but Peter throws him a curveball.

“Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” (v.6)

So the man did. The Bible says immediately his feet and anklebones received strength. He joined Peter and John, walking into the temple and praising God.

Verses nine and ten go on to say that everyone around them recognized that the lame man who sat, every day of his life, at the temple gate begging was now the one who was walking and praising God, and the people “were filled with wonder and amazement at what happened to him.”

I dare say that the majority of those witnesses, so long as their hearts were open, made a change in their lives that day. They made a change, not because the miracle was made in their own particular lives, but because they witnessed what the God of Abraham was able to do.

We may not witness those types of miracles today, but our God is still able. Even the little things that go on in your life, He cares and wants to help. John 15:16 says, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He may give you.”

If you believe these words, recorded in the Bible for all generations to share, then they will make a difference in your life. And once you allow the seed of faith in your heart to grow, you will see the fruits be borne in the situations and people around you. The Bible makes a difference.

Well guess what girls! We just studied! I pray that this has planted a seed of excitement in your heart and that you will take my challenge to continue your studies this summer. I will be right along side you; learning, struggling, and growing in Him.

In time,

{Lindsey}

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First Post Insecurities

Photos by Meghan

The first post for Unfading. It has to be stellar, brilliant, the perfect way to describe my feelings on a day when God’s allowing a dream that’s been in my heart for nearly two years to step toward reality. And what if it isn’t perfect? Will this wonderful place for girls and young women stumble before it begins? Will my dream die? Will our other fantastic writers glare at me, or turn away in shame when they see me next?

I’m hoping that this sounds as absurd to you as it looks to me. And that you’re not friends with this thought pattern.

Unfortunately, I am.

I’ve tried tracing it back. I think it starts somewhere in middle school, around the time my parents heard God’s call to move us to Africa. I was so excited for the adventure, but terrified of failing my warm, supportive parents, or worse, failing God at the ministry thing. The pressure grew from there. If we got a school assignment, I instantly had plans for an “A+.” If I didn’t get it … failure (even if it was a “B.”) If I planned to read the Bible through in a year, I was going to finish it early and write an expositional paper on the End Times. When I fizzled over the book of Leviticus … failure.

This made rough going in the friends and guys department too. My awkward, nerdy personality made it too likely that I’d fail at making friends who were obviously better than me (in my mind). There have been many days since then that I finished feeling worn, raveled, dirty, faded, like an old pair of jeans that’s no good for anything but to be tossed out.

"There have been many days ... I finished feeling worn, raveled, dirty, faded, like an old pair of jeans that’s no good for anything but to be tossed out."

 

But a few people fought their way through those feelings, some, mentors who patiently taught God’s opinion of me, others, friends who modeled it. Let’s just say it’s a 180 from the worn-out-jeans theory.

“Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes,” Ephesians 1:4.  “… For you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession … he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light,” I Peter 2:9. “But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says, ‘Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine,’” Isaiah 43:1“Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God,” 1 Peter 3:3-4.

Let’s see … endless guilt over my numerous imperfections, both real and imagined, or … belonging as the personal friend, daughter and ambassador of a King who thinks all that about me. Hmmm… So why don’t we pick the second? Why have I spent a couple of weeks preparing software, plug-ins, taking pictures and editing other people’s fabulous posts, which will be coming to you over the next few days, and putting off writing this post, scared it would flop?

I have a theory. We’re bombarded all day long with words and images that cut down our identities. Some we can’t control, like bullies or well-meaning but rude authority figures. Others we can, such as watching TV shows and commercials filled with women who are defined by one or both of two things: the sex appeal of their bodies and their bold assurance they can do anything. Both are standards most of us can’t achieve, and they’re not what God wants for us anyways.

Photo by Bethany Brown

So we need a place where we can be bombarded with something else, right? With God’s opinions of us. With the truth. That’s my prayer for Unfading. We will try to live a lifestyle of identity grounded in Christ’s opinion of us. We’ll do it through fiction, devotions, videos, music, pictures, crafty projects, articles and whatever else we can think of.  And we’ll mess up! But we’re going to keep going, because it doesn’t define us. You’re not going to see fluffy, whole looking Christians here, but broken, beautiful people like yourself, trying to take hold of Christ’s wonderful opinion of them and live it out.

So if you’re hungering for beauty and worth that’s going to last longer than a worn out pair of jeans, please join us. We’d enjoy having you with us on this journey.

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