As I wrote yesterday, there are, sadly, many women who seek attention through immodest dress. However, by the grace of God, there are also women who have chosen to glorify God by dressing modestly. The following is a letter my Dad received from one such teenager, Emily.
“I wanted to thank you for the message on modesty that you presented at my church several months ago. I have a fourteen-year-old brother who is always asking me, ‘why do the girls dress like that?’ I usually consider myself as dressing modestly. I check my clothes with my Dad and my brother before I wear them. But I had to go back, with the ‘Modesty Heart Check’ you provided for us. It has been a challenge, a means of grace for my friends and me. I have seen it hung on the mirrors of many of my friends as they exclaimed, ‘if you stick it there, there is just no way of getting around it.’ It has also been much easier to bring things to people about their clothing, or point something out to them, because they have heard the message. I have seen a lot of changes in the way some of the girls dress as a result of your message. Thank you!! Emily”
The thanks goes to you, Emily, and to every woman committed to honoring God through modest dress!
(Per request, you can download the “Modesty Heart Check,” that Emily mentioned by clicking here.)
The other night I saw a report about the trend among high school girls to request breast implant surgery as a graduation gift. It got me thinking.
Though we would not choose to walk out of our graduation ceremony and into the plastic surgeon’s office, I don’t think there is a woman alive who hasn’t wished she could change at least one perceived physical flaw. I probably think about it more than I want to admit.
When it comes right down to it, I don’t think these girls—or any of us for that matter—want a different body for it’s own sake. Rather, because of the sin in our hearts, we long to find happiness in the applause (worship) of others. We think beauty is our ticket to bliss.
But it won’t take us anywhere. Beauty doesn’t satisfy. Proverbs says that it is “fleeting” (Prov. 31:30, NIV). Charles Bridges elaborated: “Beauty—what a fading vanity it is! One fit of sickness sweeps it away. Sorrow and care wither its charms. And even while it remains, it is little connected with happiness.” (Charles Bridges, A Commentary on Proverbs (Carlisle, Pa.: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1846, repr. 1998), p. 627.)
This is why the well-meaning advice to simply “learn to love your body” doesn’t cut it. Even with supposed “Christian” packaging (“Jesus loves you just the way you are, so you should love yourself”)—it’s hollow. It’s an erroneous diagnosis. It doesn’t satiate our desperate, sinful thirst for attention. Even if it seems to for a moment, it won’t last. You might as well hand an exhausted marathon runner an empty water bottle.
But there is hope—for these high school girls and for every woman consumed by the quest for physical beauty. There is hope for me. For “[Christ] died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (2 Cor. 5:15).
Because of the gospel, we can be free from this fruitless and rebellious search to find satisfaction in receiving admiration for our physical beauty. We can live for Christ instead. And thus our hearts can “be fixed, where true joys are to be found” (Book of Common Prayer, 1662).
So what difference should the gospel make in how we think about beauty today?
First, instead of complaining to the mirror about our imperfect body, let’s consider how we can live for Christ by trusting Him and serving others. True joy will inevitably follow.
And secondly, if we’re tempted to envy (or self-righteously judge) the beautiful, immodestly dressed co-worker, classmate, or fellow mom, for the attention they receive, let’s pray for them instead—that they too would find true joy in Christ.
(This short post only begins to address a biblical perspective on beauty. We’ll no doubt return to this topic. But if you want to read more about it, Mom has taken a closer look in our book, Girl Talk: Mother-Daughter Conversations on Biblical Womanhood.)
One of our “Philly Friends,” Jeanne Welch, wrote to congratulate me on being “found” last week. She related an experience we thought you all should hear about—just in case any of my fellow tired moms go missing!
“I am so glad you found Kristin,” she wrote. “Once, when my boys were little, I fell asleep on the floor of my bedroom and ended up UNDER my bed, sound asleep. Next time you lose her check there….”
So, if you can’t find Mom, make sure to check under the bed!
We hope you’ve enjoyed this first week of the Girl Talk Blog. We’ve had a blast!
Thank you to everyone who took the time to email us. Even though we have not been able to reply, we read each one, and are truly grateful for your comments.
The purpose of this post is to officially announce our blog weekend policy. And that is: no posting. We trust you understand. We have (between us) four husbands to love-on and five boys to raise into manhood; not to mention the busy joys of church life. Simply put, we’re committed to living out biblical womanhood before we write about it.
But, come Monday, we look forward to another exciting week. We already have tons of ideas about things we could post. And we’ll have at least one surprise.
So, thanks for reading. We’ll see you Monday!
Carolyn, Nicole, Kristin, and Janelle
The following email appeared in my inbox on my fiftieth birthday (a few weeks ago), from a close friend, Nancy Loftness.
It was one of the most meaningful birthday gifts I have ever received.
“As I was praying a few weeks ago thinking about your 50th, the idea came to me to spend a day fasting and praying for you…. So happy birthday with a gift I anticipate God using, not because of any merit in me obviously, but because He loves to fulfill His own promises from His word, which is mostly how I’ll pray. Love, Nancy.”
Charles Spurgeon once said: “No man can do me a truer kindness in this world than to pray for me.” Tom Carter, Spurgeon at His Best (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1991), p. 143.
Who can you show kindness to by praying for them today? (Don’t forget to tell them you’re praying!)
PS: Today is Nancy’s 50th birthday. Happy Birthday, my dear friend!
Looks like we found Kristin.
She’s right where I thought she would be, taking great care of her kiddos (my nephews!).
You’re the best, Kess!
Where am I, Janelle?
Here’s where I am…
I’m in our bedroom, trying to stay awake during morning devotions.
I’m in the kitchen, pouring bowls of Rice Krispies.
I’m in the car, running errands to the soundtrack of my children’s worship cd.
I’m at the mall, and Liam is hitting Owen with his shoe.
I’m in the candy store, endeavoring to buy some peace and quiet.
I’m at the townhouse, unpacking all our stuff from the move.
I’m in the playroom, picking up Legos and army men.
I’m at the changing table, disposing of another stinky diaper.
I’m in the kitchen again, preparing cheese and watermelon for lunch.
I’m on my hands and knees, wiping up Andrew’s spilt milk.
I’m on the bed, catching a nap while the boys sleep.
I’m at the park, running after Liam who is trying to escape.
I’m on the couch, comforting Owen who fell and bumped his head.
I’m in the living room, trying to keep Liam’s dirty feet off the furniture.
I’m back in the playroom, picking up more Legos.
I’m in the kitchen, making dinner.
I’m on the phone, arranging a play-date with another mom.
I’m at eye level with Andrew, correcting him for complaining, and reminding him that he needs a Savior.
I’m in the bathroom, giving three cute boys a bath.
I’m in the boy’s room, reading The Gospel for Children. (I’m thankful it’s for mommies too.)
I’m in bed, wondering how many hours of sleep I’ll get tonight.
I’m in the laundry room, changing wet sheets. It’s 1:00 a.m.
Where am I? I’m in the middle of motherhood.
And there’s no place else I’d rather be!
If you’re in the middle of motherhood, I hope this quote my Mom passed along to me encourages you too.
“A mother…by her planning and industry night and day, by her willfulness of love, by her fidelity, she brings up her children. Do not read to me the campaigns of Caesar and tell me nothing about Napoleon’s wonderful exploits. For I tell you that, as God and the angels look down upon the silent history of that woman’s administration, and upon those men-building processes which went on in her heart and mind through a score of years;—nothing exterior, no outward development of kingdoms, no empire-building, can compare with what mother has done. Nothing can compare in beauty, and wonder, and admirableness, and divinity itself, to the silent work in obscure dwellings of faithful women bringing their children to honor and virtue and piety.” Henry Ward Beecher
Gene Fedele, ed. Golden Thoughts of Mother, Home & Heaven , (Gainesville, FL: Bridge-Logos, 2003), pp.75-76.
Hey, hey everyone. Mom and Nicole have been showering you with profound truths and encouragement and now it’s supposed to be my turn. Mom has been telling me for a while to think of things that I can post. So I sit and try to brainstorm, but all of my ideas seem to come back to food. I think of recipes that I would love to put up, restaurants that I want to tell you about, my extra cheese personal pan pizza that I had for lunch yesterday, how chocolate chip pancakes are best when a tad undercooked, the candy drawer that lives in my bedroom, and the best way to eat chocolate cake. I know, I know, talking about food doesn’t come close to “Summer Solstice.” (Can I just ask—who had even heard of the word “Solstice” before Nicole’s last post?) Anyways, I’m gonna keep working at this. I’m gonna look for new words in the dictionary to enlighten you, and check my journal for any recent quotes to inspire you. But until then, let me leave you with this word of advice: chocolate milk is much better when you use the powder instead of the syrup.
P.S. Nicole, please try to use words that all of us can understand. “Autumn Equinox” (after we had recently added “Summer Soltice” to our vocab) may have been a little much.
P.P.S. Has anyone seen Kristin?
Today is the first day of summer. It’s summer solstice—the longest day of the year.
As a high school student, the first day of summer was like a big happy sigh. It was the start of two whole months of freedom. Even if I worked a job, summer still felt like a break: there was no homework lying in wait to attack me at the end of the day.
But before all this free time went to my head, Mom came along with that old favorite—the “summer schedule.” Now, Mom wanted her girls to have a fun summer as much as we did. She’d plan trips to Kings Dominion (a nearby amusement park) and we’d go berry picking and to “free-swim” hour at the pool. But she was determined we wouldn’t completely waste those long summer days.
That’s where the “summer schedule” came in. It meant waking up before noon, having morning devotions, practicing piano, maybe cooking dinner once a week. But no matter how it changed from year to year, it always included one hour per day of mandatory reading. And those books I read—they have shaped my life, and still bring me joy all these years later.
Maybe you’re not much of a reader. But in John Piper’s book When I Don’t Desire God he shares a great idea for non-readers or not-so-fast readers to actually finish good books. (Maybe his mom had a “summer schedule” too.) He writes:
“Suppose you read slowly like I do—maybe about the same speed that you speak—200 words a minute. If you read fifteen minutes a day for one year (say just before supper, or just before bed), you will read 5,475 minutes in the year. Multiply that by 200 words a minute, and you get 1,095,000 words that you would read in a year. Now an average serious book might have about 360 words per page. So you would have read 3,041 pages in one year. That’s ten very substantial books. All in fifteen minutes a day.”
John Piper, When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy (Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Books, 2004), p. 129.
Now I tried to work out how many pages you could read before the autumn equinox (the first day of fall) in ninety-four days, but I was never very good at math. However I bet you could read three books this summer if you set aside fifteen minutes a day.
May I offer some suggestions?
1. Read a book about God. And there’s no better place to start than the modern classic Knowing God by J.I. Packer.
2. Read a good biography. My elementary school librarian, Miss Kisiel, used to make her students read three biographies before we could check out one Nancy Drew. We complained, but today I am still inspired by the godly men and women I met in those books. My current pick for a good biography is The God I Love by Joni Eareckson Tada.
3. Read a classic work of literature. A Tale of Two Cities has to be my favorite novel of all time. The key is not stopping after the first chapter. It gets better. Much better. And the ending…wow!
So, what are you still looking at this blog for? You have some reading to do!
I wanted to get up early, but C.J. encouraged me to stay in bed a little longer. I had been up quite late the night before. He thought I needed a little more sleep.
By the time I arose, the demands of the day came rushing at me in rapid succession. There was breakfast to fix. Conversations to have. The unexpected phone call. Family members to shuttle from point A to point B. One interruption after another.
It was 10:00 a.m. and I still hadn’t taken a shower, much less made progress on my to-do list. I was struggling. This wasn’t the way my morning was supposed to go. I wasn’t completing the tasks I thought were most important. Peace and joy had vanished.
Then I recalled this perspective-altering thought from C.S. Lewis:
“The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own,’ or ‘real’ life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life—the life God is sending one day by day; what one calls one’s ‘real life’ is a phantom of one’s own imagination. This at least is what I see at moments of insight: but it’s hard to remember it all the time.”
—The Letters of C. S. Lewis to Arthur Greeves (20 December 1943), para. 5, p. 499; quoted in The Quotable Lewis, (Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers, 1989), 335.
It is hard to remember. But what a difference it made when I called to mind this biblical truth.
All these interruptions—they weren’t interruptions after all. They were “sovereign deliveries.” These “unpleasant things” were God’s perfect plan for my day.
Contemplating this bit of wisdom brought a smile to my face. And from that moment on, I met each subsequent “interruption” with joy. The shower could wait.
My prayer is that, next time, God will help me to remember this truth. Because Mr. Lewis was right. It’s easy to forget.
“This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24