12.22.2009

Plato's Allegory of the Cave



My friend Amanda was showing this to me the other day. I was scared about a change in my life, and she told me about this... It really helps. Thoughts, anyone?

Christmas Wakeup Call!!!

“The festival of KALENDS is celebrated everywhere as far as the limits of Rome extend…Luxurious abundance is found in the houses of the rich, but also in the houses of the poor…The impulse to spend seizes everyone. He who erstwhile was accustomed to and preferred to live poorly now enjoys himself as much as his means will allow.” – Libanius, fourth century Greek scholar


Hmmm....you know, if I hadn't read the first line of this description, I would have guessed that this was an account of an American Christmas celebration...you know? The "spend, spend, spend" attitude, the overindulgence...Doesn't it sound a LOT like a description of the way we celebrate Christmas? Guess what? This is actually an account of a Roman holiday called Kalends, a pagan-centered new year celebration. At the end of the year, Romans would celebrate Saturnalia (a celebration of the god Saturn) and Kalends. Festivities would include exchanging gifts to ensure good fortune in the coming year (gifts would include small idols and food), feasting, and decorating with evergreen boughs, which symbolized the fertility of the crops in the coming year. In case you were wondering, yes, this is where we got the traditions of Christmas trees and exchanging gifts. No, it didn't come from some Nativity play (although they did use an evergreen tree as the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in a Medieval Nativity play). And no, the tradition of gift-giving did not originate from the gifts that the Magi brought to Jesus. No, you see, those are just excuses that have been made over the years. Unfortunately, our American Christmas celebration is made up of primarily pagan celebrations. In Parent's Magazine's Christmas Holiday Book, this observation is made, "In fact, we are unknowingly reverting to a primitive human instinct: the celebration of the turn of the year, when the winter begins to wane and the sun starts once more to climb in the sky, and when the crops and fruits are reborn. Almost every known civilization…has had such a festival, and all of them have celebrated with feasting and rejoicing.” Honestly girls, if you really think about it, our Christmas rejoicing is not a commemoration of Christ's birth...but rather, a self-centered, me-me-me, overindulgent, American-ized holiday.


That's just what you wanted to hear a few days before Christmas isn't it? You really wanted to learn that all of America's traditions have roots in pagan ones, didn't you? Do you feel guilty? Shocked? Or did you already know all this stuff? I don't want to ruin your Christmas. I'm not saying some components of our celebration are wrong. In fact, some of them are rooted in purely Christian traditions. But no, that is not my point by any means.


My point, ladies, is this- a celebration that is supposed to be a celebration of Christ has become utterly American-ized, just like everything else in our country. It's self-centered and gluttonous. We need to focus on CHRIST during the holiday season. HE is what our thoughts should be centered on- not what's waiting for us under the tree...or what you're going to wear to the holiday party on Saturday...or whether or not your friends and family will really appreciate the gifts you bought them. No. Christ was...IS...others-centered. He reached out in compassion to the needy, dirty little children in the street, the physically and mentally disabled, even those who were stricken with leprosy and had been deemed "untouchable". Christ loved the people that no one else loved.


Look back over the links I posted earlier about ways that you can give back. Think about how you can love those who are unlovable, unworthy, thankless...


I'll post more later.



12.15.2009

Photo contest update:

Just a quick update on the photo contest- we only have 2 entries so far!!! You can't have a contest with only 2 entries! You have until the end of 2009 to submit your photos ladies! If this contest goes well, there could be prizes in the future. :)

11.22.2009

Some tough competition...



Alright, folks...we have our first photo contest entry...since it's such an excellent photograph, I just thought I'd share it to get you guys motivated.

This photo is by my friend Julia. Isn't she excellent?

So, how do I interpret this photo? (Remember, our theme is "What is True Beauty?") I think it reflects it in a few ways- first, it is simple. Very simple. And yet, in such simplicity, there is a beauty far greater than that of the flashy pop-culture we see all around us. Secondly, it is God's beautiful creation. Look at the rich colors, the intricate petals, the deep, dark center. It truly is a remarkable witness to God's creation.

Great job Julia...hope this gets some other girls motivated to get out there cameras and go find something beautiful to photograph!

11.15.2009

How can a jar of pennies make a difference???

It can make a difference here:



It can make a help women like this:

ROSA LOVES



It can be used to purchase items from stores who give a percentage of their profit to charity like these: Known to Me

It can provide water for thirsty children like this.

Water 4 Christmas


It can sponsor a child through World Vision.



Now, what about that penny you passed by on the sidewalk? What about the penny hiding under your couch cushion or wedged between seats in your car? What about the fifty pennies you spent on a soda today? What about the 200 pennies you used to buy a cup of decaf at the cafe this morning? What about the 1000 pennies you spent on a new t-shirt? What about the 20000 pennies you spent on a new iPod? Do you see how that money could so impact someone in need somewhere in the world...and yet, we say, "It's just a penny."



11.11.2009

Babysitting

Hey, everyone- I wanted to post something really quickly- then I have to get back to school...so this will be brief, but I REALLY wanted to post!

So, I don't know about you, but I find that babysitting is one of the easiest ways for me to get money. Even though it can be exhausting, it only lasts a few hours and (hopefully) leaves you with a good chunk of money. Sometimes, though, when I babysit somewhere we run out of things to do. Then it's hard. The kids are bored. You're bored. And they expect you to find them something to do. Usually when this happens, the kids' activity of choice ends up being something like running up and down the hallway as fast as they can, doing flips off the end of the bed, or something else that may result in a visit to the ER. So, here is a list of quick, go-to babysitting activities that are truly easy and that you most likely have the supplies to make. This is not a list I copied from someone else's site...like most babysitting activities usually are. I have searched long and far for these activities. And the best thing is, I have actually tested these things on kids and they loved 'em! Here we go:
  1. "Science experiment"- Yes, I have tried the volcano thing with a couple kids...it was an utter failure. I don't recommend it. I have tried some other science experiments as well, a couple cool ones, a couple more utter failures...but the "experiment" below is the best by far- the kids love it. I love it because it's easy. Everyone's happy. :)
Supplies:
  • Coffee filters (white ones work best)
  • Black/green Crayola markers
  • Water
What to do: Draw a ring in the middle of your coffee filter with either a black or green marker. Then, dab the coffee filter with water. That's it...you're done- but the kids might want to do it again, as did the ones I babysat. So...what happens? Well, when you dab the coffee filter, the marker bleeds, creating a beautiful "tie dye" coffee filter. Plus, you can use it as an opportunity to teach the kids about primary colors. I suppose you could try this with other colors as well, but the site I got it from (familyfun.go.org) recommended black or green. Anyway, see how simple that is? And however boring it may sound to you, the kids I tried it with absolutely loved it and would have used a whole package of coffee filters if I had let them!


2. Ornaments- Looking for a good Christmas craft? Look no further than Sculpey clay. That stuff is da bomb! I believe it's nontoxic (but I'm not sure, so don't try to eat it!), it bakes hard, and you can paint it! A couple years ago, I tried this with 3-5 year-olds. Even the boy loved it. All you need is:

Supplies:
White Sculpey clay
Cookie cutters
Oven
Paintbrushes
Paint
Ribbon

What to do:
You may want to soften the clay for the kids a little bit before they start rolling it out- Sculpey does tend to get a little hard. Then, let the kids roll out the clay. After it is rolled out, cut it into shapes- no more than 2-3/child. Write their names with a Sharpie on the back so you don't get them mixed up. Poke a hole in the top of each ornament. Take them home and bake them in the oven as instructed. (I am assuming you're going to see the kids again sometime soon.) The next time you see the children, bring paint, paintbrushes, ribbon. Let the children pain their ornaments (this could get messy!) and let dry- you may have to take the ornaments home again depending on how fast the paint dries. Tie a ribbon through each of the holes and let the children take their ornaments home- this is a great gift for Mommy or Daddy, or just a fun keepsake!

That's it for now...more coming later, hopefully!

11.10.2009

Are you walking the walk?

We've all seen them plenty of times- people who profess to be Christians- they go to church, own a Bible, ect...But somehow, their actions don't reflect what they "believe". I know there have also been times when I've been one of those lukewarm, halfhearted Christians. Sure I still believed i n God. Sure I still loved Him. But, there was no enthusiasm in my faith life. I suppose you could say it was, well, dead. Since the time when I felt "dead" in my relationship with Christ, God has brought me closer to Him and given me a burning desire to glorify Him. Here are some key characteristics I can see in my life compared to my life before. Are you a "dead" Christian, or are you on fire for Christ?

Characteristics of a "dead" believer


Jesus is shoved into the nooks and
crannies of our existence

Love self

Content to go with the flow

Content to be average

Morally goes to the edge of the cliff-
"How much can I get away with?"

Oblivious of/unconcerned about sin

Thoughts constantly centered on
material things

Bored with God

Characteristics of someone who is alive in Christ

Life is centered fully around Jesus Christ

Love Christ first, others second

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


"What is the secret to great living?... [A] life that has
made more than a passing flicker in the spiritual
realm." - Amy Carmichael


"How much can I glorify Jesus Christ throughout my day?"

Deals with sin

Thoughts are constantly centered on Christ

Excited about faith!


Let me know what you girls think of this and if you have anything to add!


11.09.2009

Princesses...and princes

I appreciate what Lucy said the other day...we are princesses- we need to guard our thoughts and actions and be noble, submissive, and pure. So, sure, we are princesses...so what does that make the young men in our lives? Princes in the making! Our brothers, friends, teammates, classmates, etc. are all going to be men someday looking for a princess- but if they do not have the honor and dignity of a prince, do they really deserve us? :) We should settle for no less than a man who is first fully devoted to God, then devoted to honoring us. I know (at least in my little world) that there are not a lot of young men like this. Sometimes I get a little worried about never being able to find someone who will truly honor God and honor me. So, of course, we need to trust God to bring noble young men into our lives, but there are things we can do to help the princes-in-training along...I've been reading Authentic Beauty by Leslie Ludy recently and it is a great read. I've been encouraged to set my standards higher than they've ever been before! Anyway, In Authentic Beauty, Leslie and her husband Eric talk about how men need to be "trained" so to speak. A great place to start would be with our brothers! I know for sure that my brother could use a little help in the area of chivalry... So- my question for you Rubies this week is:

How can we, as young women, help our brothers and friends to become more like Christ- and train them to be noble, chivalrous princes?

I already have some ideas from the book, but I'm curious to see what the rest of you ladies say.
Comment, comment!

11.07.2009

A Princess

A little less than a year ago, a couple of my friends and I decided to watch the extras on the movie The Fellowship of the Ring. We watched everything about the filming, the costumes, and the actors. But the longest segment, and probably the most interesting, was the actors talking about what the process of making the movie was like for them. We were enjoying hearing about interesting cooking experiences, waking up at 5am, getting to fly over the mountains of New Zealand, and so forth, when something was said that caught my ear. They were talking about Liv Tyler, the actress who played the Elvish princess, Arwen, in the movie. She was in the movie in certain parts, but they were far apart, and so Liv would simply fly to New Zealand whenever she was needed for a shot, instead of staying there for weeks on end for no reason. So they were talking and joking about it, and talking about her role, and everything, when Elijah Wood (Frodo) said something that made me perk up. She was talking about how all the guys were so nice to her, and how she was the only girl actor there, when Elijah Wood said: "She was our princess." He said how, she being the only woman, she was like their princess, and they loved her for it. But I thought that was cool. Just think about it: men need princesses. Women have a beautiful role in life, and I would not trade it for the world. I love the quote I posted a few weeks ago, from the book Caddie Woodlawn. Women have such a special role. But it really struck me that even actors, who are often not the most upright people in the world, really think that way in their hearts. They see it too.

Just think...
Our role is so beautiful!
Let's try to be strong women, God-honoring women, kind women, loving women, womanly women. Let's show the world that we can be strong... AND be virtuous women.

~Lucy~

10.22.2009

Galatians 2:20

"I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."

Dear Diary,

I've been thinking about this verse a lot lately, so I just thought I would share it with you.

~Lucy~

10.13.2009

Drawings and devotionals

Recently, I have been reading through bestselling author Leslie Ludy's Set Apart Femininity- by far the best Christian book I've read in a long time. In fact, it has changed my view on my Christian faith, especially concerning my prayer life. For those of you who have read through Nehemiah, you know that Nehemiah was rebuilding the wall around Israel- as he did so, the enemy attacked, but because the people of Israel were vigilant, they watched over the city. In Set Apart Femininity, Leslie has been talking about how our lives should be fortified with a wall to protect ourselves from Satan's temptations and lies. However, sometimes there can be breaches in our walls- places where we are openly allowing sin into our lives and doing nothing about it! Well, I knew that I needed to figure out what those breaches in my wall were and do something about them. I want a whole, fortified wall that will protect me from all sorts of evil. I want a peaceful relationship with my Lord! Well, I am a very visual person- maybe someone else out there is too- so I decided to draw a picture in my Bible time this morning to illustrate the breaches in my wall. Then I planned to pray afterwards. But as I started to list all of the breaches in my wall, it kind of scared me to see all of the places the enemy was being allowed in my life. I felt like I needed to fortify my wall! So, God lead me to cover the wall in scripture verses that are hidden in my heart and the result was amazing! After I had written the scriptures, I felt so safe and protected by God's authority and strength in my life. The verses were literally spilling over my wall and there were only a very few spaces left. Below is an illustration of part of my wall. I encourage you to draw a wall- trust me, it doesn't have to be fancy!- and fill it with a list of the breaches you are allowing into your life. You can include pretty much anything that is hindering your happiness and your relationship with God. Then cover it in scriptures- they can be ones you know, or you could look some up. If you need help finding any, you can search a key word at blueletterbible.com. Let me know how it goes. I would love to hear if this was a useful tool to you! I'll be praying that you will be able to see the breaches in your wall and that with the grace of God you would fortify your wall and that God would protect you from the enemy.


10.10.2009

beauty and a french word

Hello everybody,

Etiquette sounds old world doesn't it? when I think of etiquette I think of "how to bow to the queen" and "which fork two use first when you have over a dozen." and honestly I don't ever think I'll be in one of those situations. I'll never bow to a queen and I usually don't have more then two utensils at my seat at the same time. In fact I don't really get out of the house that often. The only people I see on a regular basics are just my family and c'mon there family I don't have to use poshy manners around them.

Okay, you get the point right? Manners, or etiquette, are important even in the home. if you don't quite get me give it a tad more thought and then come back here.

ready? good. So your probably wondering why I'm filing this post under beauty tip. Well have you ever heard the expression. "she has beautiful manners" catch the word beautiful. her manners are, as seen in the statement, beautiful. There's so much more to being beautiful then having silky hair or slender fingers. and one of those things are manners. In fact the state of the manners of a young lady can enhance or detract from her beauty in a obvious way.

a beautiful voice is nothing if the young lady insists on interrupting. beautiful fingers are made unattractive when they are used instead of a fork.

So you probably know how to use good manners. this stuff is probably old news. But do you use them? everyday even with you own family? especially with your own family? being beautiful at home is the first step to staying beautiful when you walk out your front door.

a bunches of love

Miss Kate

10.09.2009

Caddie Woodlawn

FATHER SPEAKS

"Perhaps mother was a little hasty today, Caddie," he said. "She really loves you very much, and, you see, she expects more of you than she would of someone she didn't care about. It's a strange thing, but somehow we expect more of girls than of boys. It is the sisters and wives and mothers, you know, Caddie, who keep the world sweet and beautiful. What a rough world it would be if there were only men and boys in it, doing things in their rough way! A woman's task is to teach them gentleness and courtesy and love and kindness. It's a big task, too, Caddie -- harder than cutting trees or building mills or damming rivers. It takes nerve and courage and patience, but good women have those things. They have them just as much as the men who build bridges and carve roads through the wilderness. A woman's work is something fine and noble to grow up to, and it is just as important as a man's. But no man could ever do it so well. I don't want you to be the silly, affected person with fine clothes and manners whom folks sometimes call a lady. I want you to be a woman with a wise and understanding heart, healthy in body and honest in mind. Do you think you would like to be growing up into that woman now? How about it, Caddie, have we run with the colts long enough?"

-Caddie Woodlawn, Carol Ryrie Brink

That quote really struck me. It made me want to be a lady, more than usual. I've always wanted to be like that. But this put it into words so beautifully that it went straight to my heart.

~Lucy~

10.08.2009

In the Hands of God

We have raised our hopes and our cities high,
We have followed fragile dreams,
But only One could take the measure of our goals.
And we've stumbled over the trials of life,
And we've wrestled the unseen,
But only One could calm the storm inside our souls.
In the hands of God we will fall,
Rest for the restless
and the weary,
Hope for the sinner.
In the hands of God we stand tall;
hands that are mighty
to deliver
Giving us freedom.
When our strength gave way to the weight of guilt
Till we strained for every breath
Only One could life our shame and make us well.
And when all is finished and we face
the fearsome power of Death,
Only One has overcome the gates of Hell.
In the hands of God we will fall,
Rest for the restless
and the weary,
Hope for the sinner.
In the hands of God we stand tall;
hands that are mighty
to deliver
Giving us freedom.
Oh, You're amazing!
You're amazing, You are!
And we praise You
Lord, for what Your hands have done.
Oh, You're amazing!
You're amazing, You are!

In the hands of God we will fall,
Rest for the restlessand the weary,
Hope for the sinner.
In the hands of God we stand tall;
hands that are mighty
to deliver
Giving us freedom.

-lyrics by Peter Furler
That's one of my favorite songs. It's got such powerful lyrics. Hope it strengthens you today.
~Lucy~

10.05.2009

9.27.2009

Links to videos for most recent Christian Music Showdowns

Updated band brackets...

Sorry this is a little small and blurry. OK....So far Francesca Battistelli, TobyMac, and Kutless have made it to the next round- Yay them! Our next competition is Steven Curtis Chapman vs. Matthew West. Actually, I think I'll do 2 at once...so RelientK and SuuperChick will also be competing. Once again, it's up to you to vote!

Why I want to give Above Rubies a facelift...

Well, first of all, I think it's because I'm a person who likes change. Things always need to be new and exciting for me to stay interested. Also, I have heard of a lot of other Christian women's magazines/websites called "Above Rubies". I think it can be a pretty name, but not a whole lot more than that. I think we need a name that is raw, black and white, to the point. Something that will really define who we are: real teen girls who aren't satisfied with being average. Here are a couple design ideas I think could reflect that, but I'm not sure about names yet. Let me know what you think of the designs and if you have any name ideas or other design ideas.


Design #1: Black and White- We are girls who are not wishy-washy about what we believe. We will stand firm in what we believe, even if it means being looked down upon by the world. I was thinking about a classy black and white color scheme with a little splash of color (maybe some hot pink???) and Victorian patterns, as well as some polka dots.
Design #2- Journal Entry- We are revealing our true selves from what we write on this site. We are open and real. For this design, I was thinking about a scheme where each entry would have a "scrapbook" sort of thing for the header instead of a title and it would look very much like my desk looks right now- messy, messy, messy! But with style...I think this is probably the design I personally am most excited about.
Design #3- The joy of the Lord is our strength! This would be a very colorful, cutesy design. I know what I have here looks a little bit like a preschooler's bedroom wall, but all of these designs are just the beginning brainstorm ideas. This design would be kind of like a patchwork quilt or something. I could even photograph a bunch of cute fabrics or something....oooh...ideas. :)

Let me know what you think. Thanks, Madeline

9.17.2009

I'm in the middle of trying to give Above Rubies a little makeover...I will explain why later. Let me know what ya think once the changes have been made!

Brandon Heath

Click here to view Brandon Heath's Give Me Your Eyes on YouTube.

tobyMac

Click here to visit tobyMac's official YouTube channel.

Yay for Kutless and yay for me!

Yay! I finally made some time to get on here. I am so glad to be back and honestly get more fulfillment from being encouraged by you girls than being on Facebook, playing a computer game, watching TV, etc. I really appreciate how many godly girls I can see (even if they don't live next door) pouring their hearts out for Christ. Sometimes I can feel so alone in the good decisions that I make and my separation from worldly things, but everyone on this site is so encouraging!

Also, I apologize for stalling the the Christian music showdown. I'm sure everybody now knows for sure that Kutless is the winner this time around. I think I'll have to redo the first one (Barlow Girl vs. Francesca Battistelli), so I will have to for you to vote on. Please vote and I will try to get on here more often! Thanks for your encouragement!

Madeline

9.02.2009

Feelin' Feminine

Hello girls! I just wanted to tell you about a site I found called Feelin' Feminine! It's a really cool site with all sorts of ideas about how to be feminine in this day and age, and I've found a lot of the stuff quite helpful! We should be feminine, not feminists, and embrace God's plan for women! It's not that we can't do anything, that we aren't capable, or that we're dumb!!! NO WAY!!!!!! That is not the truth at all! Listen to what it says in Genesis 2:18: "The LORD God said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.'" We are an important part of creation, just like men. But we are meant to be helpers, to encourage our brothers and fathers, and some day our husbands. In this world feminine girls are sometimes thought of as silly, or prissy, or weird. But there is such beauty in embracing our femininity! When I look at a picture of a medival woman in "King Arthur", or a woman in the civil war era, I see a beauty that has been almost lost in this world. Women don't like being women. But we should be happy with how God made us, and be who He planned us to be!! "It is not good for man to be alone." Well, if we try to stop being womanly, then it's almost like man is alone! God made men and women so that together they reflect His attributes! And this doesn't mean we can't run, play soccer, or climb trees! I do all those things, and I wear skirts probably fifty percent of the time, or more. I don't think it's wrong to wear pants, some activities require it (although nearly all can be done in skirts :). But I find that when I wear a skirt I am reminded more of my role, that I am a young woman. I feel more, well, feminine! :) So I challenge you to wear skirts/dresses for one week. I did it, it is the Feelin' Feminine challenge, and I loved it! So girls, please always remember that we are blessed to be young women, and that God has a beautiful plan for us. NEVER be ashamed to be feminine! :)

~Lucy~

8.29.2009



Remember there's no point to taking this quize unless you answer honestly.

I got a B. There's definitaly room for improvement.

8.27.2009

iPods, for MUSIC or as a STATUS?

(BEWARE: the article below is long, but PLEASE, PLEASE take the time to read it. It will be worth your while!)

Music, music, music. Music has been around for a long time, even in Bible times people played music and listened to people sing songs. In the past 100 years, though music has become even more popular and available. Now music can be recorded and played back. There were records, and tapes, and cds, and now there are mp3s too. Mp3s can be transferred to an mp3 player and then listened to. Mp3 players can hold many different albums and songs, thousands and thousands of songs can be held in a device that fits in the palm of your hand.
Now, I am sure that all of you reading this article know what an iPod and an mp3 player are and what they are capable of doing, so the preceding paragraph was all something that you already know. I am also sure that you have been asked this question at some point in your life (don't worry though, if you haven't because it is possible that you haven't :P), “So, do you have an iPod or an mp3 player?”
There is nothing wrong about the question in its self, but it is the thoughts of the person being asked the question that are the problem. “So, do you have an iPod or an mp3 player?” I could make assumptions about how this question could affect the person being asked it, but I have been asked this question before so I will just tell you all how the question affected me.
Before I tell you my thoughts and feelings when I have been asked this question (remember the question has nothing wrong with it, but rather, the question can produce wrong feelings in the person, that is the part that we need to be concerned about.) we first need to uncover what is really in this question. The question is asking what type of player you have (perfectly fine), but it some times implies that iPods are better than mp3 players (we don't need to get into an argument about if this is true or not). I have been asked this question before, and I am sure I have also asked someone else this question. Remember, the question it's self has nothing wrong about it, just the thoughts of the person being asked is were the sin is sometimes committed.
So, now my feelings about this question, “So, do you have an iPod or an mp3 player?. First I must tell you that I DO NOT have an iPod. Rather I have a Sansa mp3 player.
I really need to get an new mp3 player. Mine is going on 4 years this Christmas, it is slow, takes 45 seconds to turn on, and only can hold 2G. When thinking about getting a new one I really had this desire to get an iPod instead of another plain, boring mp3 player (my thoughts then). See, I had been taught by the world that iPods are better than mp3 players. That question, “So, do you have an iPod or an mp3 player?” (and among other things) made me think that to have an iPod was better, even if it cost more. If it cost more it meant that I was richer and that I had THE BEST THERE WAS!
Whenever I was asked, “So, do you have an iPod or an mp3 player?” I was feeling discontent. I would reply, “I just have an mp3 player”. You see, I was beginning to feel insignificant and jealous of those people who had iPods. So when I was thinking about replacing my mp3 player all I wanted to get was an iPod nano, because then I could answer, “I have an iPod” to the question. I could FIT IN, MATCH OTHERS, be VIEWED DIFFERENTLY BY THEM, and I COULD HAVE A STATUS AMONGST OTHERS.
Now, I must stop to acknowledge my WONDERFUL DADDY! He helped me to see my sin and to correct it. When we were looking up different mp3 players to replace my old one, I kept saying, “I just want to get an iPod”. My Dad would ask my why, and I would say, “I don't know why, I just want to.” I had no idea then why I wanted one so badly instead of an mp3 player. My Dad said, “I could see purchasing an iPod because it would work better, but not for more than that. This Sansa FUZE that we have been looking at looks like it would work just fine for what you need it for, listening to music right?” I was so discontent with the Sansa FUZE. I wanted the iPod, but I didn't know why.
My wonderful Daddy (thank you Lord for him), pointed out that I had a serious problem and that I needed to pray about it. He showed me that I wanted an iPod merely so that I could be like everyone else and so that I could have it for a status. And iPod was a status to me. I saw people with an iPod as something better and I wanted to have something better. I was sinning, I was wanting what others had; I wanted to match those that had iPods.
So that question, “So, do you have an iPod or an mp3 player?” that was something that I had trouble answering. The question was making me sin, I was answering “No I just have an mp3 player” with a discontent heart.
I have repented of that sin! The Lord is teaching me to be content with an mp3 player (I still haven't bought a new one, I will soon though, with birthday money).
I must say that many of you reading this article probably have an iPod, so I hope that you read this far into the article with out turning your ears off. Actually, thank you for reading this far. I hope that I didn't let my ideas get into this article too much. I mean, there is nothing wrong with iPods, I hope that you all know that I realize that. I know that there is nothing wrong with iPods. Please note that! It is just that iPods cause me to sin, that is why I will not and do not own one. If I did own one, I would be proud and use it as a status. Because I don't have one I am learning to be content with second best (according to the world, iPods are the best, mp3 players are second best), and I am learning to not be jealous of what others have.
Maybe you are having a hard time being content with the mp3 player that you have, like I was. I hope that I was an encouragement to you. On the other hand, maybe you have an iPod and my article has encouraged you to look at how you view your iPod. Is it a status to you? Are you proud at owning it? Ask the Lord to help you if you are in either of these areas. The Lord showed me my sin, ask him to show you if you have sin.
So this is the end of my long article. You don't have to read anymore if you don't want to, but I have included some of my ideas concerning iPods vs. mp3 players below (which I tried to keep out of the actual article).

1. iPods are mp3 players, they play mp3s. Often people think that there are two types when there really is only one. Many think that you can get and iPod OR and mp3 player, when in reality you can only get an mp3 player. An iPod is just a brand name, but many classify it as it's own thing.
2. My sister, Ali, and I are calling the mp3 player that she has (and I will purchase soon) a 'FUZE', instead of an mp3 player. It is the same as calling and iPod and 'iPod' instead of an mp3 player. (Fuze is the brand of the mp3 player)
3. Here is a good reason to purchase an mp3 player (like a Sansa FUZE). All of the time there are newer and better things being made and invented. I mean, that is why we have laptop computers now when 20-30 years ago there were slow huge computers that took up a ton of space. Just think, 5 years from now, even 2 or 3 years from now there will a better iPod out there, a better mp3 player. Just the difference between my mp3 player and the FUZE I am going to buy is amazing (and that is 3 ½ years). If you are going to spend nearly $200 for an iPod nano which in a year or two will be old news, why not spend $50-$100 instead on a Sansa FUZE or another brand of mp3 player, that will be old news in a year or two?

So I hope that this was all helpful to you all reading this. I hope that what happened in my life will be able to help you in yours. Examine your own life, is there any area that you need to look at. Maybe it isn't an iPod or an mp3 player, but maybe there is something that you are not content with. Maybe your clothes, or your house, or whatever.
I am curious about what you have in your life that you might be discontent with. Comment and let me know!

~~~Lexi Lou~~~

8.26.2009

Christian Music Showdown Update...

http://www.youtube.com/user/flyleafmusic?blend=1&ob=4

http://www.youtube.com/user/kutlessrock?blend=1&ob=4

Here are the links to the most recent Christian Music Showdown contestants, Flyleaf and Kutless. I didn't attempt to get videos because they're both kind of creepish to me...if you want to, you can go to there official Youtube sites at the links above. Note, though, that you cannot click on these links, because they're not going to take you anywhere. You're going to have to copy and paste them. My computer is so messed up...:) Please vote!

8.21.2009

Galatians 3:13-14

'Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree." He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.'

Isn't that the most beautiful verse? Christ sure loves us a lot. I have recently taken classes at our church called Foundations in the Faith. We watch a video of R. C. Sproul teaching on a certain subject, and then we discuss it. It was very good. He's teaching on things from the book Bible Doctrine by Wayne Grudem. (That is actually a shortened version of the book Systematic Theology by Dr. Grudem.) But the reason I'm telling you all of this, is that, in one of the sessions we talked about the covenants. The first covenanant was a covenant of works. First, Adam and Eve blew it, right? The did exactly the opposite of what God had told them. Then God gave the Israelites a chance: if they kept ALL of God's laws, IN THEIR HEARTS as well as in their minds, then they would live. But OBVIOUSLY no sinful human can do that! I mean, we've all had those days when we decide not to sin. How long do we go without sinning in our hearts? 2 seconds? See, it's just not possible because we by nature hate God and don't want to follow his commands. But God wasn't finished with us. He sent His own Son to earth to become a man. We all know he paid for our sins on the cross, right? I mean, that's what we've always been told. But there's more: Not only did he become a CURSE for us (that's right, He really did, He took ALL of OUR SINS on Himself!!), but he fulfilled the covenant! He was perfect. So when He took all our sins and suffered God's wrath on the cross, our punishment was taken. But now, when He changes out hearts to WANT to love Him and obey Him, and we trust in Him, God looks at Christ's righteousness and not at our sin, because Christ took our sin and gave us His righteousness! Now that's what I call amazing.

~Lucy~

8.04.2009

Poetry Contest

Ever been interested in poetry? Do you enjoy reading the Psalms in your Bible, or want to express your thanks and love towards God? Express yourself through our first Above Rubies Contest- a poetry contest in which you must write a poem in worship to God. You can use a Psalm as a model, but please make sure you use your own words. I won't be writing one until after the contest, so I and some of my family members will be judging you work. Whoever wins gets a virtual trophy and bragging rights. Fun stuff. Start writing!

(Post your poem as a comment on this post.)

8.01.2009

30 Day Challenge

This morning in my Lies Young Women Believe study, I was given a challenge to spend time in God's Word every day for 30 days. I think it is important to have an intimate relationship with God, because God always loves you and will always be there for you, even when no one else is there, or you feel like no one loves you. Would you join me in this challenge? You can mix it up however you need to- whether it be that you've never studied the Bible before, and think it would be better if you only participated for 10 days, or if you already study God's Word daily, you could make a pact to study God's word for an hour every day for 30 days...Whatever floats your boat. Post your name and the date on this post so you can be accountable to us, tell a Christian adult in your life, and keep us updated on what God is showing you in His Word. He will do powerful things in your life! I recently came out of a time when my relationship with God was "dead". It was not that I wasn't believing in God. But there were no interactions. I was speaking to God through prayer, but I wasn't listening to Him through reading His Word. Then my mom talked to me about starting a Bible Study, and since then God has been showing me some pretty incredible things!

7.31.2009

My "good girl" list.

A few weeks ago, I was rifling through some box of papers somewhere in my house- I don't remember where it was (since I have lots of boxes of papers). Otherwise I would have shared a picture. Anyway, when I was eight or so, probably right before or after I was baptized, I got this idea that I should be this perfect person and I had to rely on myself to be like that. Anyway, I made this list of goals I needed to meet- if I met them, I would reward myself. If not, phooey. The list included things like "Exercise 5 times/week", "Only eat dessert ___ times a week", "Give this much money to the church every week". The problem was, they were all things that I really didn't want to do. I had no desire to do them, and I think that before a week was over, I put the list away. It was impossible to meet the standards I had set for myself.

It is also impossible for us to be holy before God. We have all "missed the mark" and we will never be able to get a "bulls eye". That's why we have Christ. In God's perfect plan for the world, He knew that we would mess up and He sacrificed His precious Son for us. Christ died and rose again and I think that's pretty awesome, but sometimes I'm still tempted to set standards for myself or beat myself up when I make a mistake. Why? I know I have salvation in Christ, but I want so badly to be good enough by myself. Let's face it- we're all gonna make mistakes. That's why Christ died for us- "We all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" We can always run to Jesus when we mess up and tell Him that we want to be better and ask Him for guidance. This doesn't mean we should head over to the Dollar Store, steal a Twinkie, the confess to the Lord that we just can't control our urge for sweets. We still need to strive for holiness. I like to think of it as a constant uphill battle- it's hard, but we're getting somewhere! Even if you never wrote a list like mine, maybe you unconsciously set unrealistic standards for yourself. You have to be ___ lbs. to be beautiful. You have to go to church every Sunday to be a "good Christian". etc. etc. I want feedback- let us know the standards you have set for yourself- and ask God to set you free today!

Honey is delicious...Facebook pretty much rocks.



The Bible is full of verses about honey- especially Proverbs such as:

Pro. 5:3 For the lips of an adulteress drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil;
Pro. 24:13 Eat honey, my son, for it is good; honey from the comb is sweet to your taste.
Pro. 25:16 If you find honey, eat just enough-- too much of it, and you will vomit.
Pro. 25:27 It is not good to eat too much honey, nor is it honorable to seek one's own honor.
Pro.27:7 He who is full loathes honey, but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet.

To me, these verses represent good things- an adulteress, or someone/something that leads to sin shows us something that is attractive then we are quickly sucked into their evil scheme. (Pro.5:3) However, God wants good things for us and the world is full of good things for our enjoyment. (Pro. 24:13). Often, though, we are too greedy and want more and more and more, or we idolize those things God has given us as gifts more than we treasure the giver. (Pro.25:16) Skip 25:27. I'll explain what I understand that to mean in a second. Pro. 27:7 could be translated into American culture by saying something like, "We take for granted all the cool things God has given us, but someone who doesn't have those things would be really grateful for them."

Recently, I have been really convicted about my attachment to Facebook. It's not that Facebook is bad. In fact, I could list some really cool things about it- I can connect with my friends who live far away, chat live with them, share what's happening with my grandparents (yes, they have Facebook!!), and monitor who I become friends with. I'm pretty wise about my choices on Facebook. It's just that I was logging into my page a little to much and staying on the computer a little too long. I became a little bit lazy and neglected things that really matter- like my chores, projects that I'm working on, my friends who don't have a Facebook account. So, with a couple of my friends who were also attached to media-related stuff, I decided to take a 20 day fast from Facebook. 20 DAYS. I thought I would almost immediately break down, but I started on Monday and it's Friday now. That's 5 days down...15 to go...YAY ME!! :) Actually, I could never hold up against the pressure (since my mom is not fasting from Facebook) if it wasn't for the grace of God. The point I'm trying to get across is one we've all heard before, "Too much of a good thing..." You can fill in the blanks. I think often times we really take for granted our priveleges.

Now back to Pro. 25:27- I didn't really even realize that verse exsisted until I looked it up for this article. But before I started my Facebook fast, I realized that when I was posting pictures that I had taken, or posted a quiz about myself, a status update, whatever, I was really looking to see if anybody had commented on my stuff, because if they did, it would mean that they cared about me- yeah right. When I didn't get a friend request for several weeks, I would feel invaluable- like nobody cared about me. I was "seeking my own honor" through "eating too much honey". I had begun to look to Facebook for assurance that I was important. However, I didn't think I was addicted. HA! *Blaring sirens!!!! Madeline, you're definitely addicted!!!*

Sometimes my Dad likes to eat honey off of a spoon. He just gets a spoonful... and eats it. I've tried it too. It's pretty good, but can you imagine if I kept going back for more, over and over again. Pretty soon, the honey bottle would be empty and my stomach would be way too full. Then I might empty my stomach. What's on your spoon- something- even something OK (like honey) that you feel you can't live without? For me it was Facebook. Hopefully it will never be again.

7.30.2009

Here are videos of the current competitors for our Christian Music Showdown:

Francesca Battistelli



Barlow Girl

Christian Music Showdown


Over the next few weeks, just for fun Above Rubies will be holding a Christian Music Showdown. Because of my vast knowledge of popular Christian music (laugh) I believe I created a fair list of some of our favorite Christian groups/artists. If anyone is missing, I can quickly change things around if need be. Please check out the brackets, then vote on the polls, which will be located on the sidebar. Can't wait to see who will take it all...even though there is no prize or celebration or anything...:P

Shopping, Shoes, and...Shackles?

This week I went shopping with some friends, but I didn't plan to spend a lot of money, primarily because I didn't have any. Good reason, huh? I just wanted to window shop, eat a delicious caramel apple, taste samples at Harry and David and enjoy my friends' company. It didn't turn out exactly as I had planned. My friends ended up doing some serious sale shopping, and I was left in the dust, my wallet empty, and at the end of the day only left with one bag from the Gap and sticky fingers from my caramel apple. The samples at Harry and David weren't even that great. Overall, my shopping trip was a disappointment and left me once more staring despairingly into my closet, wishing I had cuter, more expensive clothes, or even just a fuller closet. I felt like I had nothing to wear, even though there is an ample supply of t-shirts, tanks, skirts, and jeans in my drawers and closet. Right now I'm wearing a pair of denim capris, and a turquoise shirt, my hair is loosely tied back, and I'm in the house barefoot. Not exactly a fashion statement, but I'm comfortable, and still reveling in the fact that I got this shirt for a steal at a garage sale. So many times I am dissatisfied with what I am wearing, and look at all those girls who have all the money in the world to buy whatever they want. I get jealous, frustrated, and then...I go shopping again. I buy a new top, or a pair of flats that I think will complete my wardrobe, only to find the next week that I am in need of a new pair of sandals for the summer, or I need a nice brown jacket to go with that skirt I bought last week. For me, shopping is an unending circle of dissatisfaction and spending money I really should be depositing in the bank for that $1000 Macbook I'd like to start saving up for. (I did the math...that's 50 babysitting jobs.) As we all know, God wants us to see that true beauty comes from within, and I could think of many woman I know who don't necessarily meet the world's standards of beauty, but are so enjoyable to be around because of their bubbly personalities or friendly dispositions. Sometimes, I wish I could wear short shorts, a bikini, or a low-cut top, you know- just to fit in, but wearing what the world is calling "new" or "in" isn't what's important to God. So, referring to the title of this post, "Shopping, Shoes, and...Shackles?" I want to make one point- This week when I went shopping, I came home with a pair of gray sneakers from the Gap that were similar, but CHEAPER!!! than the ones I've been wanting for a long time, I pictured myself wearing them every day and all of the sudden being hip and cool- looking like other girls. Then I got some orange stuff from the grass at my church on them...I really hope it comes off. Shopping and wearing cute clothes is just one more opportunity Satan can use to entangle, or trap us in a web of lies, confusion, and ultimately separation from God- because when we want more, we are saying He is not enough. Are you in shopping shackles? Do you find it difficult to stay away from the sales flyers in the papers, the "Style Watch" magazines in the supermarket, or the clearance sale at your favorite clothing store? God wants you to be free of those chains, to bring you closer to Him- and the only way out of your bondage is through Him. I find so much more satisfaction in spending quiet time with God in the morning, taking pictures of God's creation, or spending time hanging out with my friends and family than I do after I buy a new outfit. God does want us to be happy and we can be if we spend our time loving Him and loving others instead of trying to be like other girls, or working our tails off to make ourselves look "beautiful". Even though I still wish I had that new top I saw at Maurices the other day, or a real pair of Chuck Taylors instead of a pair from Gap, I know that I need to find my true satisfaction in Jesus, and that's the only place I'm gonna find it!


The movie Confessions of a Shopaholic, a "romantic comedy" about a young woman who can't put down her credit card, is a surprisingly insightful commentary on this generations addiction to shopping, and really causes the viewer to think about their spending habits and what's really important. Click on the photo below to access Plugged In Online's Christian review on the PG movie:






7.26.2009

My Friends and I

I am a very social person, and I have always loved being around people. Although I'm shy, I flourish among friends. I always saw my friends at church, plus every once in a while we would get together. But as I got a little older, into my early teens, I wished that I could see friends more, and began to be unhappy sometimes because it seemed like they all saw each other more than I did. Last year, my church grew so much that we could no longer all fit in our building. So we switched to two church services every Sunday morning, one at 8:30 and one at 10:30. I was slightly unhappy, because I was worried that one of my friends would end up going to the first service. Of course, since I'm the oldest of six kids, it never occured to me that we would be able to get out of the house by 8:10. :) But my parents realized that my little sister needed to be home earlier than 12:30 so that she could eat lunch and get her nap, so we ended up going to the first service. Well, I was very sad about this, and it took me a long time to really cope with this. But I knew God wanted me to obey my parents in everything, and He helped me to be joyful and go without sorrow. But this summer I've been feeling really lonely again. My friends and a lot of the older teenagers go play volleyball all Sunday afternoon, after talking for an hour or so after second service. I am not able to go, because it is difficult for my parents to drive me there and then get back in time to make dinner and prepare for Bible study at our house at 6:30. Plus, we live in the country so there is no one who lives nearby who could take me with them. So I've been unhappy and even jealous sometimes this summer. But the other day I was talking to my Mom about how I feel and how hard it is for me, and she showed me that I am really being discontent. God told me to "Be content with what you have, for God has said 'Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.'" I wasn't doing that. I was spending my time wishing that I could do that, and not realizing how God has blessed me with so many wonderful friends and a wonderful family. I had been bemoaning the fact that I only see a lot of my friends once a week, and then for only about a half an hour or less, while not realizing that, while most girls only have one really good friend, I have about ten!! I have so many blessings, yet I didn't even think about them in my complaining. Now, I still think it would be lots of fun to go to volleyball, and there have been several suggestions as to how I might be able to go one of these Sundays. But I try to be happy and content. Even writing this has led me to realize that I have more blessings that I ever knew. With God's help, I will be joyful and content, and remember everything he has given me. So maybe you have an area of you life where you are discontent, even if you don't realize it. I would encourage you to go and "count your blessings. Name them one by one...See what God has done." You'll be surprised at how much God has given you, and how much you really have to thank him for. He used this to show me my fault, and to show me my blessings. Go count your blessings in the midst of you hardships today.

~Lucy~

Sabina Wurmbrand

When trying to figure out who I should do for one of the girls from history I was reminded of a book called Ten Girls Who Made a Difference by Irene Howat. The book has 10 short biographies about ten Christian girls, who made a difference. When skimming the book I came across, in the second to last story, a short biography about Sabina Wurmbrand. Her story drew me in, and after learning even more about her on the internet I found that she and he husband founded the Voice of the Martyrs! So I hope that you are inspired by Sabina’s story.
Sabina Oster was born on July 10, 1913 in a town called Czernowitz which was in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which became a part of Romania after WWI and part of the Ukraine after WWII. Sabina was born into a Jewish family. While growing up her favorite day of the week was the Sabbath when her family would gather for a meal and her father would pray. She was not even allowed to say the word “Christ”, her father explained to her that the Jews were still waiting for a Messiah and that Jesus had just been a man that had broken the law. How wrong Sabina’s father was, and Sabina would later find that out.
In 1936 Sabina married another Jewish boy, Richard Wurmbrand. Two years later Richard became a Christian, and that was too much for Sabina. . No matter what Richard did, he could not interest Sabina in his new found faith; it seemed that their marriage and love had just died. According to the short biography that I read, Richard one day took Sabina to one of the most disgusting films that were playing in the theatre, and then he took her to a party where people were horribly drunk, these things both opened Sabina’s eyes to sin and what her life was like without Christ. She saw that it was Jesus that accounted for the difference in her husband and other Christians. Sabina accepted the Lord Jesus as her Lord and Savior.
During WWII Sabina and her husband were very active. Together they rescued many Jewish children from the ghettos, they taught about Jesus in the bomb shelters, and were sometimes arrested. Sadly during the war her mother, father, two sisters, and one brother were all killed in the concentration camps.
After the war was over the Russians moved in and took over Romania. They set their communist rule on the people, and this included trying to control the churches. Richard and Sabina started an underground church, and everywhere they went they told others about Jesus. In 1946-47 she organized Christian camps for all religious leaders, all denominations. This is what became known as Voice of the Martyrs, an organization that helped persecuted Christians around the world. This organization still exists today and continues to help persecuted people all over the globe.
In 1948 because of the effective work of the couple Richard was arrested, leaving Sabina and their son Mihai behind. The secret police kept telling Sabina that she should just divorce her husband and forget about him. But she didn’t. She continued to help the persecuted church, praying and trusting in the Lord. She was even sentenced to 3 years of manual labor; she even had to leave her young son behind. But Sabina continued to pray and believe in Christ. For 14 years she never saw her husband and he was presumed to be dead. But then one day he was released! For the rest of their lives they worked with Voice of the Martyrs and served the persecuted church around the world.
Sabina has a wonderful life story. She was miraculously saved by Jesus Christ. Then she worked to spread the gospel and help the persecuted church. In America we have the freedom of religion, but in some countries to know Jesus Christ is illegal and could cost your life. We should be in constant prayer for those who surfer, just because they follow Jesus Christ. If you are called to suffer for Jesus Christ, like Sabina did, are you ready to give all up for Christ?

7.23.2009

Picture Perfect

Recently, in my Lies Young Women Believe study, I read about the lie that beautiful girls are worth more. Even though I know that's not true, sometimes it's easy to be sucked into that lie. One of the challenges in the companion guide on that particular day was to draw or describe your image of a "picture perfect" woman. What physical features might she have that would add more value to her appearance? That really made me think about which parts of my body I might be dissatisfied with that I really need to be content with because my body is God's temple and He created me in His image. So this week, I want to ask you to leave a comment on this post describing your idea of a "picture perfect" woman or girl, or say which parts of your body you wish were different because then you might be "more beautiful". Remember that you can leave your comment as "Anonymous", so don't be afraid to share your thoughts! To be continued with this months beauty tip...

7.11.2009

Want More Inspiration?

If you have enjoyed reading about the life of Lady Jane Grey, or was inspired by the modesty and purity of Rebecca, Alyssa, and Lauren Barlow, let me recommend to you a book by Christian artist Rebecca St. James entitled Sister Freaks. It is full of stories of women who have given their lives to Christ. I haven't read the whole book yet. I just picked it up at the library the other day, but it looks really great and I already read one of the biographies. Each on is pretty short and you can choose which ones you want to read!

As always, we want to hear what our readers are...well...reading! Tell us about your favorite book, or what you've been reading over the summer!

Facebook

Just to let everyone know, I created a page for our site on Facebook. It is pretty safe and it will give us more publicity. Facebook users will be able to access our site from facebook.com, or get quick notifications on what's going on with Above Rubies. I have also started a discussion on "Going against the flow" to follow up on my recent article on Barlow Girl. If anyone has any questions or concerns about this, let me know, and I'll do whatever I need to do to make this work for our readers. Thanks!

7.10.2009

Not-So-Ancient Role Models

For the entire month of June, I procrastinated and deliberated about who I should do my "Christian Girls from History" report on...Mary, maybe? But everyone has heard her story many times. Besides, I'm not what you would call a history buff, so I wasn't too excited to do the research. Obviously, the "deadline" for me to post my article has passed, but the other morning while I was doing Bible study, an idea struck me..why does it have to be a girl from history? There are many young women living in our culture and time period who are excellent role models for us to follow. When I think of being "in the world, not of it" I'm reminded of three young women who have given their lives wholly to Christ and have actually become quite successful!

For the past 3 1/2 years, Rebecca, Alyssa, and Lauren Barlow have been growing quickly popular in Christian teen society. When they started their girl band Barlow Girl after touring around the world as a backup band for their Dad for two years, I imagine they had no idea where they would be today. They have released 5 albums, including Barlow Girl, Another Journal Entry, Another Journal Entry: Expanded Edition, How Can We Be Silent, and Home for Christmas. They are scheduled to release their next album, Love&War in September 2009. In 2005, they were nominated for four Dove Awards and three in 2006. Their songs are played on popular Christian radio stations all over the U.S.A. But do they let their popularity get to their heads?

No. Instead, the girls remember this Bible verse from Romans 12:2 "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will."

Another unique things about the Barlow girls is that they don't date. They say, "We believe that God has one perfect man already chosen for us; therefore we have no need to worry ourselves in searching for him. When the time is right, we know God will bring us together. In the mean time, we are not hiding in a closet avoiding all males, we are still living our lives, just without the pressure of having to have a boyfriend." While other young women are frantically searching for a boyfriend from whom they can receive love and attention, Rebecca, Alyssa, and Lauren know they are valued in the eyes of God, their Heavenly Father.


Teen girls in our culture are usually pulled slowly into the ways of the world. A sweet, loving thirteen year-old can gradually become a flirty, immodest teen who trusts in her "friends" more than her parents and tries to fill a God-sized hole in her heart with love from friends or attention from boys. Most parents of teens might consider this normal- it's a phase that many teen girls go through. But it is more than a phaze. It is a life choice. The things you do now will definitely effect your future. At this point, I don't have much more to say. The purpose of this blog was to encourage teen girls around the world, but also to get feedback from them! Please give some ideas for how we can "go against the flow" and show our peers where we find true satisfaction- in Jesus Christ! If you want to learn more about Barlow Girl, you can visit their website- www.barlowgirl.com

6.30.2009

Digging Deeper~James 1:19

It is so easy to blurt out something and then wish that you could take it back. Often something slips out of your mouth so fast that you don’t know how it got out. Many times in anger things can come out of your mouth that you later regret. If you are any thing like me it is so easy to not carefully choose words. James exhorts Christians in chapter 1 verse 19 “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry”.
Let’s look more closely at what some of these words mean in this verse. The Bible was not originally written in English, it had to be translated. So I have looked at some of the words in the verse and the biblical use of the word.

My dear (agapētos (Greek) beloved, esteemed, dear, favorite, worthy of love)
Brothers (adelphos (Greek) any fellow or man; a fellow believer, united to another by the bond of affection; brethren in Christ; Christians, as those who are exalted to the same heavenly place) take note of this:
Everyone (pas (Greek) individually, each, every, any, all, the whole, everyone, all things, everything)
should be quick (tachys (Greek) quick, fleet, speedy)
to listen (akouō (Greek) to attend to, consider what is or has been said; to understand, perceive the sense of what is said)
slow to speak (laleō (Greek) to use words in order to declare one's mind and disclose one's thoughts, utter tell, to use the tongue)
and slow to become angry (orgē (Greek) anger, the natural disposition, temper, character; movement or agitation of the soul, impulse, desire, any violent emotion, but esp. anger

So the main thing that this verse encourages us as believers to do is to watch the way that was interact with others. When a dispute comes up was need to be QUICK to listen to what the other person says, SLOW to become angry and SLOW to speak. If we are more careful to consider what others are saying and slow to declare our own thoughts and ideas then it will be less likely that words will come out of our mouth that we will later regret saying.
So the next time you are provoked to want to speak or act in anger remember that in God’s word we are encouraged to be instead quick to listen and slow to speak. Think of your words as honeycomb. Proverbs 16:24 “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” Kind words can bring healing and add sweetness to someone’s life. Let’s work on bringing sweetness to other’s lives, not bitterness. Be slow to voice your opinions and be quick to listen to others.

6.23.2009

Beauty

"I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God."

1 Timothy 2:9-10

That verse is rather full, isn't it? I mean, if you just glance at it you might think it's telling you that you can't wear jewelery, braid your hair, or wear a shirt that costs more than five dollars! But let's think about beauty for a minute. What does God say about beauty? Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart. So beauty is really something that starts inside. If we love the Lord and want to do everything for His glory, then we are beautiful to Him. Outward beauty will fade. We know that. If you're considered gorgeous at 20, we all know you won't have that beauty at 90. It will decay, as does everything earthly. But there is an unfading beauty. "The unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit." So beauty is truly in the heart. But is it wrong to wear jewelery, or even wear a little make-up now and then? No. God made beauty, and he made us to delight in beauty. But we need to have the right attitude about our outward appearance. If we dress ourselves "with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God", and that's what we focus on, then it's perfectly fine to wear something pretty. But if you only try to make yourself beautiful on the outside, you are not really beautiful. If you're like me, maybe you've seen a girl and thought "Wow, she's really pretty! I wish I looked like that!" But then maybe she's disrespectful to her parents, or does something that shows her inner attitude. When I see that, it totally spoils what I think of her outward beauty. I don't think "I wish I was like her" anymore. She is not truly beautiful. But I know a young woman who loves the Lord, who is kind and compassionate, thinks of others above herself, and just shows her love for God in everything. Ever since I was very young, there was no older girl at church who I thought was as beautiful as her. I admired her, looked up to her, and always wanted to be like her. As I've gotten older, to me she has still been all of that. But recently I thought, "What would I think if I looked just at her outward appearance? Is that really what is so lovely?" And when I looked, she was certainly not ugly, she was as fair and pretty as any of the other girls I know. But she was not what the world would call a "great beauty". And yet, a little girl loved and admired her so much. Why? Because she is truly beautiful. And that is what the Lord wants us to be.

~Lucy

6.12.2009

Lies Young Women Believe

I just wanted to let everyone know that I just started the Bible study "Lies Young Women Believe". So far, I really like it and I would love for anyone to join me! Let me know if you're interested. Before you pick up the book and start reading it, though, I must warn you that there is some PG-13 content in there, but it is obviously addressed in a Biblical way. You could just skip that if you have to....here's a link to the website: www.liesyoungwomenbelieve.com

6.09.2009

Share your opinion

Is it OK to read Twilight?

6.01.2009

Our God

Here's some of my feedback from this weeks poll:

For my whole life, I have grown up in one of those families that prays, reads scriptures daily, goes to church every Sunday, participates in missions, the whole nine yards. As you can imagine, some might stereotype me as a "good kid". I am involved in the church, rarely, if ever get into trouble, and when other people are watching I'm kind towards my family. Perhaps some people draw up a picture of my life that is far prettier than what it seems. While the outside of my cup may be clean, the inside is full of blemishes that can only be washed away by the power of Jesus. Out of all the things that I struggle with (the list could go on and on...) I want to focus on one- my daily relationship with God. Anybody have any ideas? Maybe some good steps to take would be restarting my prayer journal, starting a new devotional, and asking my parents for help and advice.

Every morning I wake up really early- compared to most teens- 6:30, usually. At the latest...7:30. I have a schedule that I like to stick to. Like a machine, my brain clicks on, I lay in bed for a FEW more minutes, then I hop up ready to start my day- shower, maybe pray while I'm in the shower (if I remember), get dressed, go downstairs and eat breakfast, try to listen during family Bible reading, go read my devotional, then it's off to the computer- or maybe a craft- or a writing project if I'm in the mood. Rarely do I truly enjoy delving into God's Word and seeing what He has for me there. Every once in a while, I'll really pray, but I feel like I just keep saying the same thing every time and somehow that makes me lose the feeling of being in God's presence. I guess you could call me a mechanical Christian. I feel stuck, like I'm repeating the same thing over and over again and I'm not growing.

Other girls' relationships with God could be tainted by other things. Maybe you have just started a relationship with God and you don't know where to go. I would suggest buying a devotional and a study Bible at your local Christian book store, finding a church that fits you (if you don't already go to church), and seeking advice from your older sisters in Christ (they were once teen girls themselves...). In some ways, your new relationship with God can be to your advantage. If you have not yet read God's Word, you have opened a whole new realm of wonder and beauty by opening the Bible and digging deep. Since I have heard Bible stories ever since I was little, they no longer give me the same little tingle in my spine. They no longer awe me, although I still cannot fathom the greatness of our God. For you everything is new, different, exciting!

If you are seeking God, look to your Christian friends, or if you don't know anybody who can encourage you in your quest, please leave a comment and maybe we can help! Never give up your search for God because He will find you and draw you to Himself. God gives me so much hope, even though I feel stuck sometimes.

As always, please leave any comments, questions, or bits of advice to improve the site! Thanks!


Madeline

5.30.2009

Health and Beauty

Hey, did you know that in God's Word He says that our body is His temple? That probably means we should take care of our body. It's important to keep ourselves looking nice, but it can be so easy to get caught up in the latest fads and fashions. Personally, I think that a simple, effortless look is best. Here are some tips that I have found pretty helpful:

  1. Don't want your nails to be boring? Sometimes, colored nail polish can chip easily and end up looking trashy, but a transparent, or opaque skin tone color will lengthen the nails and make them look neat and clean.
  2. If you happen to have wavy/curly hair, but by the end of the day your curls end up looking frizzy and tangled, or just flat, try this method for defining your curls: After shampooing, conditioning, or just wetting your hair, gently comb in leave-in conditioner (I use Fructis). Then, scrunch curls with a hold gel (I used Suave- it works just as well as expensive brands). Later, when your hair has dried, lightly spray with hair spritz to keep the curls looking bold and defined. Spray again if needed.
  3. Did you know you don't have to use shampoo every day. Usually, I only use shampoo once or twice a week, then use conditioner on most days. If you're in a rush, you can simply wet your hair, then add gel. (This doesn't work with all hair types. A friend with very fine hair has to shampoo her hair daily, so find a system that works for you.)
  4. Do you have dark circles around your eyes, or always look tired? To brighten the area around the eyes, first use stick concealer around the bottom of the eyelid. Use light (cream) colored eye shadow on the upper eyelid and a bit below the eyebrows. You can also use some below the eye. You should use a small brush instead of a regular eye shadow applier. Then, dust the upper eyelid area and the area between the eyes and the nose just a bit with white eye shadow. If you choose to use mascara, just use a little bit to look natural.
  5. To make your face look smooth, with out caking on foundation, dust lightly with bare minerals powder.
  6. To keep your face moisturized, or if you have oily skin, wash twice daily with gentle baby soap, then use mild lotion for sensitive skin.

Weekend Top 5

Weekend Top 5

Ok, so since last week there were just too many videos, this week we are going to try the Weekend Top 5 Christian Songs. Remember, these are our favs and we just want you to vote!!!

These were the titles from last week that made it to the top 5:

I'm Letting Go by Francesca Battistelli

Give Me Your Eyes by Brandon Heath

Shut Me Out by Kutless

The Motions by Matthew West

(And SO sorry- I can't remember the other one that made it, so I'm just going to add a new one. Here it is:)

Forgive and Loved by Jimmy Needham
(I apologize for the...interesting video. Just listen to the music.)




Don't forget to vote!

What are you reading?

We want to know! Please comment!

5.27.2009

Digging deeper- Philippians 2:5-11

BIGGER! BETTER! FREE! EASY! RELAX!When I look around me- on the internet, driving down the street, in magazines and catalogs- these are the words that pop out of the page at me, a blatant reminder of where our culture finds pleasure. We try to get what we want, when we want it, the easy way. And if possible, we'd also appreciate if it didn't blow our budget. In our culture today, parents of teens shrug when their kids refuse to do chores, leave snack wrappers tossed around the house, neglect to meet simple responsibilities. They laugh, "Kids these days!". What they are neglecting to realize is that their teen is missing out on some big life lessons like humility, service, selflessness. The expectations of the average teen are generally low- sure, aren't most teens lazy anyway? They'll grow out of it. But they won't. They don't. Rising up is a generation of kids who are disgustingly self-centered. Even when we do "good things" we are probably secretly hoping someone will take notice and pat us on the back for making a good choice. We live only for ourselves. This hurts God so much as you will see in the following verse that we are going to study. Maybe you don't even realize it, but you are probably living for yourself too. I did. (Well, maybe I still do..a little bit.)


A little more than a year ago, as my mom searched for verses for me to memorize, she stumbled across the following. At the time, I had been struggling with selfishness (and perhaps a bit of laziness) and I needed to snap out of it. I was also extremely shy and quiet, sometimes helpless if my mom wasn't there to help me and give me the self-confidence I didn't have. Because it was getting to the point of rudeness (like not being able to carry on a decent conversation with an adult, let alone a girl my age) I needed something to help change me, move me.This verse is a humbling, brutal, and beautiful reminder of what our Savior went through and what a high standard God has set for us! The highlighted words are some keywords I would like to zoom in on and take a closer look at the meaning of each one of them. I used The Complete Word Study- New Testament Edition, edited by Spiros Zodhiates, Th.D. I also looked on blueletterbible.com, where if you go to a verse, then click on "C", you will find the meanings of several words. That way, we can get a better understanding of this verse:


Philippians 2:5-11

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death- even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (NIV)


Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow of things in heaven and things in earth and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. (KJV)


  • Robbery- harpagmos - a thing seized or to be seized, booty
  • Of no reputation- kenoo - empty, void
  • Servant- doulos - slave, one who is in a permanent relation of servitude to another, his will altogether consumed in the will of the other
  • Likeness- homoioma - resemblance, image
  • Fashion- schema - external form, appearance; In Philippians 2:8- Jesus’ whole outward appearance in which there was no difference between the Incarnate Son and the other children of men, but he was God and continued to be God.
  • Humbled- tapeinoo - In the case of Philippians 2:8- He brought about the recognition of His humanity by demonstrating His absolute dependence on His Father.
  • Exalted- huperupsoo - To elevate above others, raise to the highest position
  • Name- onoma- Implying authority, dignity; Delegated power and authority
  • Bow- kampto- In honor of one, used of worshippers, bend the knee, bow
  • Confess- exomologeo- To profess, confess as truth
  • Lord- kurios- The title is given to God, the Messiah. Also it is used as a greeting from a servant to his master out of respect and reverence.
  • Glory- doxa- It is understood in contrast with His earthly manifestation and is brought by Christ Himself into connection with the glory which He had before his humiliation in the incarnation. (Whew!)

Wow. What a powerful message. Take a look again at the meaning of the word servant. I love the picture of Jesus as a Man being all together consumed by the will of God. As He walked on the earth, He was willing to do anything to bring glory to His Father. And although He was still God, He had no problem with acknowledging His lowly position as a human. Jesus went so far as to even sacrifice His life on the cross for our sin. Daily, we are carrying a cross of our own. When we serve God, through directly serving Him, or through service to others, we are to " die" to ourselves. What does that mean? It obviously doesn't mean we work so hard we keel over and physically die. Every time we have a desire that isn't met as a result of loving others and giving them our time and attention we are sacrificing ourselves (though not so drastically as Jesus did on the cross).

Also about a year ago, my mom and I embarked on our first terrifying journey out of the country. We are both germ freaks, we are both control freaks, she had only been on a plane once before and I had never been on a plane in my life. As you can imagine, it did not go well with us. What I had imagined as a perfect trip on which I would change the lives of several young children and lead them to Christ, I ended up mostly taking care of my mom, who became dehydrated during our trip and ended up in bed with an IV for two days. That was when I realized how much I depended on my mom and how much she was dying to herself to meet my needs. During that week, under tough circumstances, I learned to fend for myself out in the real world (since my mom wasn't there to talk for me when I could think of anything good to say). I had to step out of my comfort zone and start doing things that I never imagined I could or would do for myself. But I did them (and I survived!). For me, my biggest humility problem is that I was so afraid of messing up and being embarrassed in front of other people, that I just would do or say anything. What an idea! Usually, the idol that "shy" people hold up is themselves. They are so obsessed with making the image of themselves perfect, that they hurt other people and appear rude and snobby instead of pouring over with love for others.

Don't get me wrong. There is a difference between humility (or meekness), and shyness. Meek is good- it's the servitude, willingness to sacrifice yourself for the glory of God, dying to ourselves. Shyness is holding ourselves up so high that we are afraid to look down because we might stumble.

But look at the promise God has for us if we only choose to walk in humility instead of pride- and that can be as easy as doing the dishes without your mom asking, helping an elderly lady with her groceries when you have a million "better" things to do, playing with your younger siblings when you feel like you have no energy left after a long day at school. When Jesus died and rose again, God raised Him to the highest place and glorified Him. And we must glorify Him also! God will reward us for our humility, even if we don't see our reward on earth.

Please comment to tell us what you got from this verse and it's additional meanings, as well as some ideas of how we can die to ourselves and glorify God while doing it! We appreciate all the feedback we can get!