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.


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:


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.


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?


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...


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!


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!


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