Saturday, April 28, 2012

She is a leader.

Proverbs 31:15b
and plan the day's work for her servant girls. 

You probably will never have servant girls.  In this day and age, having servants isn't so commonplace.  However, you will have opportunities in your life where you will be set as a leader over a group, whether you lead a Bible study, church activity, project, or even if you are a boss in the workplace.  As a woman of God, how will you handle a situation like that?  Do you have the qualities of a leader?

Notice that even before Proverbs 31 mentions the woman's leadership, it describes how she is first a servant.  Although she is capable and willing to be a leader, she is not proud.  She is not lazy.  She is just as eager to serve as she is to lead. 

The godly woman was prepared.  She planned the day's work in advance so when the time came for her to lead, she would not make impulsive, last-minute decisions.

Although she had servants who were certainly able to care for the household, the woman of God did not stay in bed all morning and ask the girls to do all the work in the house.  Instead, she woke before the girls to begin serving her family and planning out her day.  She was fair, efficient, and hardworking.

Today's challenge is to write out a list of leadership qualities you aspire to have.  Be sure to back up each point with a Biblical reference.  After you are finished, put the list in a place where you will see it and remember to strive to have each quality you put down.  Pray over your list each day.  Ask the Lord to shape you to be the leader He wants you to be.

Christ has called you to be a leader, even if you are young.  1 Timothy 4:12 says, "Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity."  Begin to set an example with your life right now, no matter who you are, and begin to prepare your heart for leadership in the Lord.  

Feel free to share your list of leadership qualities in the comments below. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

She has a servant's heart.

Proverbs 31:15a
She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household...

Whether or not serving others comes naturally to you, it's an important aspect of your relationship with others and with the Lord.  Galatians 5:13 tells us to serve one another in love.  Each day, you should seek to serve those around you above your own needs, especially your family and loved ones.  Taking time to serve others is not only obeying what the Lord has asked you to do, but it will strengthen the relationships in your life and help you to show Christ's love to those around you. 

How have you served others today?  Have you sacrificed anything of yourself in order to be a servant of the Lord?

Ephesians 5:2 says, "Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ.  He loved us and offered Himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God."

I love serving.  It's often how I feel most connected with the Lord and most in tune with myself.  Whenever there is an opportunity to serve the needy in my community or across the world, I can't wait to join in.  However, at times I become so busy that I forget to serve those closest to me.

A woman of godly character sacrifices her own needs to serve her family and loved ones.  She has a servant's heart and a good attitude about what the Lord has called her to do: serve.

And to make myself clear, I'm not saying that a godly wife should serve her family only because she is a wife... I'm saying that a godly wife (and unmarried women as well) should serve her family because she is following the example of Christ.  He served His disciples by washing their feet, He sacrificed Himself out of love for us, and He has called you to follow His example by being a servant for Him.

Today I challenge you to intentionally serve someone close to you.  Whether it's washing the dishes without being asked, doing a favor for a friend, or taking time out of your day to help someone who needs you, deliberately take the action to serve someone.  Ask the Lord to bring opportunities into your day to be a servant; He will.

Remember that serving requires making sacrifices of your own.  Just as the woman in Proverbs 31 rises before daylight, sacrificing her own luxury of sleeping in, at times you may need to make a sacrifice of your own in order to serve someone else.  Be willing to make that sacrifice.  Romans 12:1 says, "I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind He will find acceptable.  This is truly the way to worship Him."  Let the Lord use you, even if it means giving up some luxuries and downtime of your own.  

Also, make the effort to be servant-minded in your daily interactions with others.  2 Timothy 2:24 says, "A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people."  In your communication with your family, friends, roommates, classmates, and even that rude driver who cuts you off, continually remind yourself that you are here to serve others, even when it's difficult.

Speak with kindness and patience today.  Don't let selfishness and frustration get in the way of having a servant's heart.  Being a servant is such an important part of being a woman of noble character.  Shine through even the most stressful of days. 

Be a servant today.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

College Q&A Day (Part 1)

What are some of the biggest things that surprised you in college?

Academically, I was not prepared for how much more difficult college work would be from my schoolwork in high school.  I went to a private Christian high school that was very small and personal.  The teachers and principal were all involved with the lives and learning paces of the students at my school.  If any of us struggled with a subject, the teachers took the time to make sure we fully understood and could continue to make decent grades if we made any kind of effort.

Even for my hardest classes in high school, I rarely spent time on schoolwork outside of the classroom.  I actually studied for possibly two or three tests during my entire high school career... and I still managed to graduate with nearly a 4.0.  Although this was fun at the time, I entered college completely unprepared academically.  I'm finally learning how to study and how to prioritize my time to get all of my schoolwork done.  If I don't study for my college classes, I'll fail.  This isn't something I've had to deal with until now.  I was surprised at how difficult college would actually be in this area.

And because I was a sheltered, private school kid, I was shocked at the standards my peers at a public school would hold.  I didn't realize so many people drank underage.  I didn't realize how common it is to cuss and use the "f-word" in public settings.  I didn't realize how many people actually participate in casual sex.  Basically, after a week of stepping into the public school environment, I was surprised about how sheltered I actually was.

Finally, I was surprised at how strong the Christian community is at Texas A&M.  I knew I would be a minority at a huge public school, but I didn't realize how close-knit and involved the Body of Christ is at my school.  It's so special to be part of a community that is eager and willing to pursue a relationship with Jesus Christ. 

What kinds of Christian ministries (i.e. Cru, InterVarsity, etc.) are you involved in?

I am involved in several different Christian ministries at Texas A&M.  Most of these organizations carry over onto other college campuses, so even if you are considering attending a different university, there should at least be something similar available for you to try out.  

I am a counselor for Impact, which is a Christian fish camp for incoming freshmen.  A couple of weeks before school starts, we have a retreat for the freshman class.  I will be in charge of mentoring and encouraging a small group of freshman girls and not only will I be able to pour into them over that short (and amazing) weekend, but I will also be given the opportunity to mentor these girls over the entire next semester.

Impact is the second largest student-run organization at Texas A&M and the counselors and staff prepare for the summer retreat starting the winter beforehand.  We meet at least once every week the entire spring semester and spend time in prayer and preparation for the incoming freshmen.  Impact is an amazing college ministry.  If you are planning to attend a state university in Texas, chances are, there is something similar to Impact available for you.  If you have questions about that, send me an email.  I'm aware of a few of these ministries and I can try to help you get connected. 

I usually attend a weekly Bible study with InterVarsity.  It's a small ministry at Texas A&M, but it's pretty diverse and spread out over several different campuses across the United States.

I attend Breakaway each week.  It's a huge Bible study every Tuesday on the Texas A&M campus with several thousand attendees.  Breakaway would have to be the highlight of my week.  It has great worship, a great speaker, and it's so encouraging to see the Body of Christ at A&M stepping out and worshiping wholeheartedly in one room.  If you're considering becoming an Aggie, I definitely encourage you to try out Breakaway... if not, they have a free podcast on iTunes for anyone to check out!  All you have to do is search "Breakaway Ministries" and subscribe to their podcast at the iTunes store. 

I also try to attend a life group at my church each week... although I don't attend that one as frequently as I should because it coincides with another Bible study I enjoy attending.  Wherever you go to church when you start college, try to connect with a small group of some sort.  The close knit fellowship can be a great way to join the Christian community at your university and keep accountable.

How do you know what major to choose? 

This is a tough one.  Whatever you do, don't rely solely on your own knowledge to choose your major.  I encourage you to visit with an academic adviser at your future university before you select your major.  They can help you out quite a bit.  Also, try to find people who currently have the career you desire and ask them what major they chose when they were in college.  

And remember: you can always switch majors.  I have once already.  The major you choose at the start of your freshman year probably won't be your major when you graduate, so don't stress out about it too much right now.  

What do you think about spending your first two years at one school and your second two years at another school?

If this would involve moving cities halfway through your college years, I personally wouldn't recommend it.  It's already tough to start out in a brand new environment freshman year without having to move somewhere else and make all new friends barely two years later.  Obviously, some people do this and if this is your plan, go for it... but I do know that I would struggle with the idea of changing locations and friend groups halfway through my college experience.

On the other hand, I know some people who are attending a community college in Aggieland for their first two years and then switching to Texas A&M after that.  In situations such as that, I don't see much of a problem, considering that you'll have the same groups of friends and probably continue to live in the same apartment or dorm.  The only thing that will change is the setting of your classes (and the prices). 

Whether or not changing schools for your junior year is a good idea depends entirely on your individual situation and preferences, but be sure to consider the consequences of having to move schools halfway through college before you make your final decision.   

What if I get horribly homesick?

I'm not going to sugarcoat anything for you... you probably will at first.  Nearly every single person I have met so far, especially the girls, have gone through a season of homesickness their first few weeks of college.  It's tough to move to a brand new city filled with people you've never met.  It's hard to leave your loved ones and everything familiar to you back home.  You're not just changing schools; you're changing churches and friend groups and homes.  It's tough.  There's no denying that.

However, remember that everyone goes through homesickness.  Your first semester will be your hardest, but with each week of college, life will get easier.  By October, you should be nearly over your homesickness.  By the end of Christmas Break, you'll probably be eager to return to college.

I encourage you to prepare yourself for the homesickness ahead of time.  Be ready to experience a roller coaster of emotions your first few weeks of college.  Know that you'll miss your family and high school friends.  Realize you'll miss your old bedroom.  Despite your homesickness, prepare yourself to not give up on having a good time at college, just because it's hard at first.

Plan ways to overcome your homesickness as best as you can.  As soon as possible, get involved in a Christian organization.  Start attending church from week one.  Put yourself outside of your comfort zone and make friends, even when you're feeling shy.  Keep yourself busy and don't let yourself dwell on how homesick you're feeling at that moment.  Keep in touch with your family.  Schedule a couple weekends to go home each semester.

If you know someone older on campus, talk to them about how you're feeling.  They'll have some advice for you because they'll have gone through the same things.

Most importantly, realize that homesickness is a season that will pass.  You'll get through this difficult time of transition and make it out even stronger and more independent than you were before.  Use this time to place your reliance on the Lord.  He will show you that when all else is gone, He is taking care of you.  He is always there for you, even when you feel alone.

Being homesick was hard for me the beginning of my freshman year, but I was able to learn so much from the experience.  One of my biggest trials in life ended up becoming one of my biggest growing experiences.  I found out a lot about myself during that time and I was ultimately able to depend on the Lord's strength to get me through.

And now, although I do miss my family and friends, homesickness isn't a struggle for me.  I feel at home in college and I feel at home when I'm home.  I have two homes now.  The transition is over. 


If you have any more questions that have not been answered, feel free to ask and I will get back to you with answers.  Because there will be a few different parts to my College Q&A Day, if you leave questions in the comments below or send me an email, they'll be answered in the next week or so.

Monday, April 23, 2012

A Weekend of Aggie Spirit

I've been extraordinarily busy the last few days.  So busy, in fact, that I haven't even had time to sleep many hours over the weekend.   But being busy isn't necessarily a bad thing.  The weekend was very fun-filled.  I made many memories and enjoyed spending time with my friends... (although I didn't enjoy the studying part so much.)

The Memorial Student Center at Texas A&M had its grand opening on Saturday morning.  The building has been under construction for a few years, so its opening was a huge deal.  In fact, one of the speakers said it was the most important place in Texas, even more than the capitol (I wonder if other Texans know this).  Rick Perry, who was an Aggie Yell Leader once upon a time, spoke along with several others. 

The MSC was very nice.  Restaurants and games and televisions and art and pretty much everything you could ever want in a student center was at the MSC.  It was cool being one of the first ones to enter that building and experience its awesomeness.  My friend Ian and I sat at a booth in the cafeteria and imagined we were the first ones to ever sit at that booth.  It's exciting to think how many students will be able to enjoy the MSC over the next several years.

Saturday night was Aggie Muster, which is a ceremony honoring the Aggies over the last year who have passed away.  It was very solemn, but very spirited as well.  I'll never forget the experience of my first Aggie Muster.  And as sad as it seems, it's neat to know that no matter how old I am when I die, I will someday be honored at Muster as well and my name will be spoken during Roll Call.

I love the honor and loyalty that Aggies have for one another. 

Yes, this weekend was filled with Aggie spirit.  And on top of that, I was able to watch a couple of great movies (Memento and The Prestige), attend church and Bible study, eat at some yummy Aggieland restaurants, and of course... study for my math test that is coming up on Wednesday.  As long as it's still the school year, I can never put aside studying.

Only a couple more weeks, guys.

How was your weekend?

I will continue the Proverbs 31 Challenge on Wednesday.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Trust in the Lord.

A few days ago, I received a comment from an anonymous reader, which said:
I have been having a hard time the last few months trusting in God and it's really hard for me to pray to Him I feel like He left and that He doesn't care anymore.What should I do??

I meant to merely comment as a response, but by the time I was finished writing what I needed to say, my reply was way too long to be a decent comment.  Also, I would like to encourage any of my readers who are going through a similar season in your life.

So this is my full-length reply:

Hey friend,

Everyone goes through seasons in their lives when they feel distant from the Lord. Even people in the Bible like Paul, Elijah, and King David, who was called a man after God's own heart, struggled with feeling distant from God at times.  Despite the difficult time you're having, remember that if you continue to trust in the Lord even when it's hard, He will always reveal Himself to you.

James 4:8 says, "Come near to God and He will come near to you."

Hebrews 11:6 says, "He rewards those who earnestly seek Him." 

If you continue to have faith in God and spend time in the Word and in prayer each day, He will show Himself to you.  He will continue to hold you, even when you don't see Him.

I also challenge you to look inward.  Ask the Lord and yourself what things in your life may be keeping you distant from Him.  There may be sin that you need to confess.  James 5:16 says, "Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.  The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results."  If you have hidden sin in your life, I encourage you to confess to the Lord and to a friend.  Pray together and ask your friend to hold you accountable.  With a clean heart, it is so much easier to draw near to the Lord.    

One of my favorite chapters in the Bible is Psalm 77.  At the beginning, David is unsure of whether or not the Lord still cares for him.  He says, "Will the Lord reject forever?  Will He never show His favor again?  Has His unfailing love vanished forever?  Has His promise failed for all time?"

Even though he feels frustrated and discouraged, he says, "I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember Your miracles of long ago.  I will consider all Your works and meditate on Your mighty deeds.  Your ways, God, are holy.  What god is as great as our God?"  Instead of focusing on his distance from God, David begins to earnestly seek the Lord and spend time in prayer and worship.  He continues to praise the Lord, even when He struggles to trust in Him

By the end of the passage, David finds hope in God's promises.  My favorite verse is Psalm 77:19, which says, "Your path led through the sea, Your way through the mighty waters, though Your footprints were not seen."  Even if you don't feel God working in your life right now, He is there.  He is carrying you through each day.  Continue to trust in Him, even when it's difficult. 

I encourage you to spend more time than you usually do in prayer and the Word, even though I know it's hard when you feel like you're praying to thin air.  Instead of allowing your quiet time to dwindle away because of feeling distant from Him, make even more of an effort than you usually do to spend time with Him.  He will respond to that effort.

Strive to follow 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, which says, "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."  Be thankful and rejoice in the blessings God has given you.  The more you rejoice in how blessed you are, the less you will focus on your problems and your feelings of discouragement. 

While you make the intentional effort to spend more time in the Word each day, I encourage you to study the book of Ecclesiastes, Romans 8, and Psalm 139.  These are passages that have encouraged me through seasons of distance. 

And remember that this IS only a season.  Your relationship with God is not based solely on your emotions and feelings; at times, you will feel distant from Him, just as you go through seasons in every relationship you have.  As you continue to trust in the Lord, even when it is difficult, you will come to a place where you are renewed and rejuvenated in Him.  He will bless you through this trial if you continue to put your faith in Him.

Trust the Lord, even when it is difficult.  Remember: His love for you is endless.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

She relies on the Lord.

Proverbs 31:14
She is like a merchant's ship,
bringing her food from afar.

This passage threw me off guard a little bit.  What does it mean to be a merchant's ship and how does that relate to being a woman of noble character?  Unsure of exactly what to share today, I read a few Biblical commentaries that all seemed to have different things to say about the meaning of Proverbs 31:14.  Some said it was describing how a wife of noble character doesn't feed her family the same kind of food each day.  She will travel all over at her own expense to provide meals of variety to her family.

Some scholars stated that Proverbs 31:14 meant that a godly woman brought food with her from afar as she traveled, providing the poor and needy in distant lands with sustenance. 

Another commentary stated that the word "food" in this passage was equivalent to the word "bread," which actually meant the bread of life or the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  A woman of God brings the Gospel with her wherever she goes, traveling all over the world to share the Good News.

I have yet to find a description of Proverbs 31:14 that I don't like or that I can't learn from, but today let's look at how a merchant's ship works and how we can apply this to our lives. 

A merchant's ship in the times of King Solomon was not self-propelled.  It didn't rely on sole man-power or powerful engines to go from one place to another.  Its main source of power was the wind in its sails.  In other words, the Lord was in control of sending the merchant's ship where it needed to go.  Although the sailors worked hard to care for their ship during their travels, they ultimately had to trust that the Lord would guide them to their destination.

Are you self-propelled or do you allow the Lord to guide you in the paths you take each day?

It's nearing the end of the school year and I know how easy it can be to become absorbed in our own hectic schedules.  There is studying and work to be done; it's so easy to focus on other things.  Without thinking, we grow overwhelmed with stress and worry about what's ahead rather than trusting the Lord to guide us in each day.

Psalm 32:8 says, "The Lord says, 'I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.  I will advise you and watch over you.'"  The Lord has great and beautiful plans for you.  He wants you to trust in Him instead of struggling to propel yourself through life's trials on your own.  

Just like the rowers of the merchant's ships in Solomon's times who couldn't depend solely on their own strength to row from Israel all the way to Egypt and other far-off countries, you cannot rely on your own wisdom and abilities to get you through the day-to-day.  The merchants had to rely on the power of the Lord to guide them.  In order to live with joy and peace, you must do the same.   

My challenge today will not be as simple as to say, "Okay, ladies, today I want you to ask the Lord to guide your path!"  That's a great thing to say and feel, but in order to allow the Lord to take control, you must actually give Him the steering wheel.  Don't just think, "Yes, this steering wheel that I'm clutching in my hands is all Yours, God."  Let go of your control.  Allow Him to guide your path.

I challenge you to spend at least thirty minutes each day for the next week in solid, uninterrupted prayer and God's Word.  Spend quiet time with Him and intentionally make the effort to ask Him to guide your heart with each decision that you make and each step that you take in your life.  Psalm 119:105 says, "Your Word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light to my path."  As you make an effort to spend time immersing yourself in God's Word, He will guide you, even on your most stressful and frustrating of days.  

Before you get out of bed, stop and ask the Lord, "Please guide my life today."  Ask Him to give you the strength to make it through the day with dignity and with love.  Ask Him to keep you on the right path, to guard your heart, and to fulfill the plans He has for you, not what you've planned for yourself.

Be like a merchant's ship and trust in the Lord to bring you to the place you need to be.  Keep in constant conversation with God, praying continually as 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, and involve Him in every decision you make.

Don't rely on your own strength today.  It will only end up in a shipwreck.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

She is industrious.

Proverbs 31:13
She finds wool and flax
and busily spins it.

What this passage is saying is that you must shear a sheep and begin to knit a sweater for your future husband.

I'm kidding.

When I think of busily spinning wool and flax, I'll admit that the first thing that comes to my mind is keeping uselessly busy.  Why spin wool all day?  What is the purpose of that?  Putting this passage into context with today's time, this Proverbs 31 woman was not overwhelming herself with useless, silly tasks.  Spinning wool and flax was something she needed to do in order to take care of her household.  She was making clothes and blankets for her family.

While you probably don't need to make your own blankets, there are certainly dull and undesirable duties in your life that can be easy to set on the backburner.  Sitting and spinning wool for long and dreary hours is not a fun task; but neither is writing that particularly long essay or folding your laundry.

How have you spent your time today?

If you were to create a graph right now containing how much time you've spent doing what today, would necessities like school and chores take up the most time or would you have spent most of your hours on the internet and on your phone?

Leisure should have its place in your life.  Without some sort of relaxation, it's so easy to become overwhelmed.  However, a Proverbs 31 woman spends her time on the necessities first.  She completes the tasks that need to be done.  Her priorities are in order.  

What needs to be done in your life today?

Today's challenge is to make a list of goals to complete before sundown.  Not just in your head.  Literally take out a piece of paper and write out all that you need to do today.

Mine goes a little something like this:
  • Laundry
  • Write the outline for my speech
  • Complete a chapter of math homework
  • Etc.
Before you sit, relax, and browse Facebook, go ahead and try to complete a few of the tasks on your list.  Make sure you check off your priorities before you have down time.

A woman of God is industrious and hard-working.  Do you see those qualities in yourself?  

Keep busy today.  Don't spend the majority of your time doing silly and meaningless things.  A saying I like to keep in mind is:

What you do today is important because you are exchanging a day of your life for it. 

Complete what needs to be done.  Keep your priorities straight.  Spend your time doing things that glorify God.  Be industrious today.

And most of all, make sure you enjoy today.  Find joy in little blessings from the Lord, even if you're busy and your schedule is crammed full of things to do.  Exchange this day of your life for something beautiful that glorifies your Creator.

What have you done so far today?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

She brings joy.

Proverbs 31:12
She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.

I'm assuming you don't step out of bed in the morning with the intention of ruining someone's day.  "Man, I had a long night... so I'm going to go poison some cookies with hot chili peppers and give them to all my friends.  Ha!"  If you do have the desire to be intentionally mean, this blog probably isn't the place to go. 

However, a godly woman does more than not ruining the days of those around her.  Simply "not being mean" isn't what she strives to accomplish.  A godly woman makes an effort to bring good into the lives of others.  She searches for ways to make people's lives better than they already are. 

2 Corinthians 6:6-7 says, "We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love.  We faithfully preach the truth.  God's power is working in us."  As followers of Christ, we are called to share the Gospel with everyone around us and one of the best ways to do so is through how we act.

I have had the opportunity to share the Gospel with a few students at my university, but what gets the most questions about my faith is when I make an effort to act in kindness and love.  People want to know what that's all about.  College life is all about focusing on you: your grades, your priorities, your organizations, your finances, you, you, you.  It's easy to become self-centered.  When Christians make an effort to bring goodness into our neighbors' lives over our own, it's noticed.  

In your daily interactions, are you bringing good?  What acts of service have you done for your friends recently?  Have you resolved problems or have you added more drama into the relationships around you?  Do you bring joy into conversations or do you bring others down?

Even in little things, kindness is important.  Try to bring good into everything you do, including how you interact with others on the internet, on the road, and in how you communicate with your family.  The verse referenced in the header of my blog, Matthew 5:14, is one of my very favorites because it's such a great reminder of who we are called to be.  It says, "You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden."  In everything you do, you are a witness for Christ.  Be sure to shine for Him.  Bring good, not harm, when you interact with others.  

Today's challenge is to make someone's day better.  I want you to be creative with this.  Ask God to show you ways to share joy with others.  Bringing goodness into the day of someone in your life could mean making them cookies, writing an encouraging note for a friend, or simply giving a sincere compliment.  You decide how you can bring good to someone, take action, and if you like, share what you did in the comments below so that you can encourage all of us too.  

Make an effort to bring good rather than harm into every relationship you have.  Colossians 3:12-13 says, "You must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.  Make allowance for each other's faults, and forgive anyone who offends you."  Enter into each conversation with the intention of making someone's day a little bit better and you may be surprised at how easily you'll be able to do so.

Shine Christ's love today, sisters. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

She is trustworthy.

Proverbs 31:11
Her husband can trust her,
and she will greatly enrich his life. 

Are you trustworthy?

When you speak, are people around you generally unsure if you are being honest with them or can they take you seriously?  Can your friends share the secrets of their hearts with you?  Do people come to you for advice?  Do your loved ones rely on you or do they turn to others when they need help?

Being trustworthy is more than being honest and truthful, although that is certainly a part of it.  The dictionary's definition of trustworthy is:

trustworthy. adjective. deserving of trust or confidence; dependable; reliable. 

Does this description fit you?  In your relationships, have you merited trust and confidence?  Can people depend on you?  Are you reliable? 

The challenge for today and tomorrow will have two parts that are both important in becoming a trustworthy woman of God. 

Today: Be reliable (do not cancel plans; avoid being late).  If you have plans with someone, do not set them aside unless you absolutely must do so.  Try to avoid being late today.  Instead, attempt to arrive at your location five minutes early.  Show the people in your life that you are a reliable friend and that you are making an effort to be dependable in your friendship.    

As silly as it might seem, little things like being on time and keeping your appointments do matter.  Luke 16:10 says, "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much."  As you make the effort to show the people in your life that you care about them and that you can be reliable, you will show them that you can be trustworthy in big things as well.  

Haven't you ever been frustrated while waiting on a friend or having to change your plans last minute?  Don't do that to someone else.  Make an effort to be reliable today.

Tomorrow: Keep your words truthful.  Exaggeration and sarcasm can be huge sources of causing others to falter in conversation.  Tomorrow, I challenge you to strive to say what you mean.  Be honest.  

Focus on being completely honest in what you say.  No elaborations.  No exaggerations.  Speak only the truth, just as it happened.

A sense of humor that can often bring others down is sarcasm.  At times, sarcasm can be a kind of humor that is perfectly natural and funny.  However, when you are being sarcastic, do not say things at the expense of your friends.  Do not leave the people around you wondering whether or not what you said was the truth.  After you make a joke, let people around you know you were kidding.  Be wise and think before you speak.
Most young women I meet struggle on a daily basis with gossip.  Part of being reliable and trustworthy is keeping the secrets of those around you.  Tomorrow, I challenge you to not take part in gossip onceIf you hear private information about someone, keep it to yourself.  Be trustworthy in your relationships and conversation.   

If you make a mistake and catch yourself partaking in gossip or exaggerating, make an effort to apologize if the situation calls for it and stop to say a brief prayer, asking God to point your conversation in the right direction. 

A godly woman is trustworthy.  How will you be trustworthy in your life today? 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

She is like a ruby.

Who can find a virtuous and capable wife?
She is more precious than rubies.  

A couple of years ago, I wrote a poem called "Special People" for my sister, who was struggling at the thought of her upcoming search for a Christlike husband.

Special People

I have always been told I am special,
Made to be cherished and all.
Then I see the boys around me,
And I watch them stumble and fall.

Is there any guy who is special,
Who is saving himself for "the one"?
Sometimes my search can be tiring,
Even though it has only begun.

When I become tired of waiting,
I'll remember who I've chosen to be.
I'm waiting for a purpose and reason,
For the guy who is waiting for me.

I wish I could see what God sees.
Maybe one day I will fall in love.
But for now, here I am waiting,
So I'll make His love be enough.

When it seems like I'm the only one
Who is saving myself in this world,
I'm reminded that I am special, and
Special guys want special girls.

October 3, 2010

In the same way, godly men must search in order to find a Christlike, virtuous woman, just as we do to find men who are truly striving to follow the Lord.  Although there are many sweet and godly young ladies I meet each day, there are also so many who are desperately searching for fulfillment in all the wrong places.

The search for someone with a heart for God can be difficult and frustrating at times.  Proverbs 31:10 says, "Who can find a virtuous and capable wife?"  She is rare.  She is something to be sought out and valued when she is found.

When I find the man I someday will marry (someone who meets the standards I hold for my future husband, someone who is actively pursuing Christ with all his heart, someone who respects and loves me despite my flaws), I will be overwhelmed with joy and awe at how the Lord is working in his life.  He will be so special to me.  And I will be special to him.

Don't you love how the value of a virtuous woman is emphasized here?  She is more precious than rubies.  A ruby is beautiful.  It's rare and striking; it stands out from other stones.  It is delicate and lovely, but it's durable.  It doesn't break easily.  A ruby is truly precious.
A virtuous woman is more precious than rubies.  
As you seek God's heart, the man you marry will cherish you more than priceless jewels.  The more you strive to follow the Lord, the more precious you will be to your husband.  You will be more of a treasure to him than a chest of rubies and priceless gems.  

One of the most beautiful things about a young lady is her self-confidence, when she knows her value in Christ.  Remember your worth.  Deuteronomy 14:2 says that the Lord has chosen you to be His special treasure.  You are treasured by God.

Today's challenge is to not put yourself down once.  Not once.  Remind yourself that you are precious to God.  Each time you intend to say something negative about yourself, speak something uplifting instead.  Express your thanks to the Lord for a blessing in your life.  Speak encouragement to yourself or someone else.

Ephesians 4:29 says, "Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them."  Take this to heart.  Don't put yourself down.  Speak with confidence, as a woman who knows her value in Christ.  Avoid even thinking badly about yourself.  When you look in the mirror, try to see yourself with God's eyes, not with criticism and judgment.  When you make a mistake, view yourself with grace and love. 

If you stumble and say or think something badly about yourself, stop and say a quick prayer.  Ask the Lord to show you how to be a woman of virtue.  Ask Him to bring confidence into your heart.  Intentionally change the way you talk about yourself, aloud and internally, and your security in Christ will quickly begin to shine in your life.   

Value yourself as God's treasure.  You are precious to Him.  He sees you as beautiful and He is forming someone's heart just for you.
Write Proverbs 31:10 on a sticky note and place it in a spot where you will be constantly reminded of your worth in Christ when you need it the most.  If you struggle with your outer appearance, stick the note on your bathroom mirror.  If your grades are what bring you down, place this verse on your desk or the outside of your school planner.  If immodesty is a temptation in your life, hang the verse on the door of your closet.

A virtuous woman is more precious than rubies.  Stand strong in this, sisters.  Hold this in your heart as you strive to grow daily in Christ.  And remember, even when you make mistakes, even when you aren't looking your best, even when you are feeling lonely or confused, you are cherished by God.  You are beautiful to Him.  You are unique to Him.  You are precious to Him.

How have you been reminded of your value in Christ today?  

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Proverbs 31 Challenge

What makes a woman of God?

Recently I have been convicted about how I am called as a young woman to serve others and the Lord.  Many verses in Scripture were written to the Christian Church as a whole.  There are also many passages in the Bible that are meant for men of God, emphasizing courage, strength, and leadership... but what about femininity?  What qualities shape a godly woman?

Proverbs 31 is nearly an entire chapter of the Bible all about being a woman of the Lord.  It's a such a source of encouragement.  Instead of simply listing a bunch of "do not's,"  this chapter is filled with examples of who we can strive to become. 

For the next few weeks, I'd like to put my other blog posts on hold and start a special series based off of Proverbs 31.  Every other day, I will share a challenge from a verse in Proverbs 31.  I will be challenging myself to live like a Proverbs 31 woman and I will be challenging you to do the same.

Tonight, I encourage you to take the time to read over Proverbs 31 on your own and become familiar with the passage.  I will be using the New Living Translation for this blog series, but please read the passage in other translations and paraphrases as well.  Consider reading Proverbs 31 in NIV, ESV, and The Message.

Take some time to pray and ask the Lord how He can teach you through this chapter of His Word and through my blog series, that He will open your heart and that He will speak through my words and my heart as well.

The Proverbs 31 Challenge will begin tomorrow.  Share your experiences with me as you undertake these challenges.  Leave a comment for everyone to see, start a thread, or email me here.  I'd love to hear your feedback, stories, and advice about this series.  If you have a friend or younger sister who you think may benefit from this challenge, send them the link to this blog.

I am so excited to see how the Lord can use this Proverbs 31 challenge to emphasize femininity, true beauty, and grace in my own personal life, as well as in the lives of some of my readers.
Proverbs 31:10-31 (NLT)

10 Who can find a virtuous and capable wife?
    She is more precious than rubies.
11 Her husband can trust her,
    and she will greatly enrich his life.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.
13 She finds wool and flax
    and busily spins it.
14 She is like a merchant’s ship,
    bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household
    and plan the day’s work for her servant girls.
16 She goes to inspect a field and buys it;
    with her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She is energetic and strong,
    a hard worker.
18 She makes sure her dealings are profitable;
    her lamp burns late into the night.
19 Her hands are busy spinning thread,
    her fingers twisting fiber.
20 She extends a helping hand to the poor
    and opens her arms to the needy.
21 She has no fear of winter for her household,
    for everyone has warm clothes.
22 She makes her own bedspreads.
    She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns.
23 Her husband is well known at the city gates,
    where he sits with the other civic leaders.
24 She makes belted linen garments
    and sashes to sell to the merchants.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity,
    and she laughs without fear of the future.
26 When she speaks, her words are wise,
    and she gives instructions with kindness.
27 She carefully watches everything in her household
    and suffers nothing from laziness.
28 Her children stand and bless her.
    Her husband praises her:
29 “There are many virtuous and capable women in the world,
    but you surpass them all!”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last;
    but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.
31 Reward her for all she has done.
    Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

My Letter Box

For the month of April, I am sharing a photo a day.  Today's photo challenge was "mail," so I took a picture of the memory box in which I keep all of the letters I've received from my loved ones since I've been in college.

Since last semester when I purchased the box for fifty cents at a craft store, I've nearly filled up the entire thing.  By May, I'll need to either purchase a new memory box or find another place to keep the letters I have already.  Any ideas?

Mail is one of the highlights of my day.  Little else cheers me up more than receiving letters and packages in the mail.  When I'm feeling stressed out or worn down, notes from my mom or my grandma or my sister will brighten my week.

And I keep those letters and read and re-read them.

Mail is one of my favorite things in the world.

Psalm 71:7-8
My life is an example to many, because you have been my strength and protection. That is why I can never stop praising you; I declare your glory all day long.

I have been studying the idea of leaving a legacy the last week or so and this verse recently stuck out to me in my quiet time.  I would like to expand on this a little more in a few days perhaps, but for now, I encourage you to remember that your life is an example to many.  People look at you and see Christ.  Be sure to take time to praise Him and thank Him today.  Bring Him glory with the things you do and say.  Shine for the Lord.

Thursday, April 5, 2012


A few days late, I began a photo-a-day challenge on instagram.  I thought I would go ahead and share this challenge with all of you.  The challenge is this:

I am emilytheperson on instagram.

Day 1: Your Reflection.

I wasn't extremely thrilled to capture my reflection on this particular day.  I was exhausted.  This has been one of the most difficult weeks of my entire life... and I think you can tell on my face.

But the challenge called for my reflection, so here it is:

Also, I would like to share a Bible verse that has stuck out to me on each day of April from now on.  It will either be something that has continuously been brought to my attention over the last week, or it will be something that popped out during my quiet time I'd like to share.

1 Peter 5:7

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 

I don't know if any of you is having as difficult of a time as I am with schoolwork, sleep, and schedules, but if you are, this verse is for you.  I have a difficult time placing my faith wholeheartedly in the Lord and that is something I certainly need to work on.  He is so much wiser than I ever will be.  He's holding my life in His hands; He can work things out so much better than I can.

Instead of focusing on stress and negative emotion today, focus on the blessings the Lord has given you.  Cast your anxiety on Him instead of shouldering it on your own.  Life is so much more peaceful when you don't have to deal with the trials by yourself.

Give your stress to Him.  That's what I'll be trying to do today.

I could use some prayers today as I travel nine hours home for Easter... and for an injury I've received that has made even moving pretty painful.  Thanks, friends.

Will you be home this Easter?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Without Ceasing.

Some days, when life is stressful, the best thing to do is check out from your hectic schedule.  Take some time and relax.

Spend time with a loved one.  Eat your favorite snack.  Read a Psalm.  Hold a puppy.

These last two weeks have been a couple of the busier weeks of my life, as you've probably noticed.

Yesterday was particularly difficult.  I woke up an hour early to attempt to get some more things done, which put the amount of sleep I got the night before under five hours.  I arrived at my earliest class feeling a little more relaxed after I had completed a project and finished some of what I had wanted to do... until I saw my friend Stephanie intensely flipping through pages of a review packet for our sociology class.

"Are you ready for the sociology test?" Stephanie asked in a slightly strained voice, looking up at me for a moment and then turning back to her notes.

I shrugged.  "Not entirely, but it isn't until Wednesday."

"Emily, the test is today."

I looked over at another student who actually happened to be in the same sociology class as Stephanie and me.  He nodded.  "Yeah, the test is today."  Well, great.  Although I had studied for the exam ahead of time on Wednesday and Thursday, it was now Monday.  I certainly needed to review some of that material at the very least... and sociology class was coming up next.

I sat in my sign language class, trying to keep calm while thinking about how I would possibly catch up in time for the next class.  "God," I whispered, "help me out today."  I'm not good at handling stress.  When I become too overwhelmed, I break down.  I can only take so much.

After a few minutes of class, my professor stood up and signed to us, "You all look very tired.  I will let you out early today.  Get some sleep."  She ended up letting us out of class an hour early, which gave me just enough time to study for my exam.  I actually think I did pretty well.

My third and final class of the day, Math Analysis, filled me with fear and dread.  Our third exam is coming on Wednesday, which scares me a little bit.  Math is my worst subject by far.  Our professor returned the last quizzes we took and I ended up doing very poorly.  My heart sank at the sight of the grade I made.

I sat at my table, my head in my hands as I stared at the grade on the paper.  The professor began to talk about how he knew we were all stressing about the test on Wednesday and how he wanted us to all feel prepared... so he would give us a free 100 on our next quiz.

Thank God.  I needed that 100 so badly.

Someone in my Impact camp sent out a text yesterday that said, "1 Peter 5:7 'Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.'  If any of you are feeling a little overwhelmed... remember that we serve a big God who cares.  Remember that these trials are fleeting, but if we allow Him, God can use them to grow us in faith and maturity.  Be faithful to work hard, but don't be defined by that work.  And take time to break the cycle of business with stillness before your God.  I promise you it's what you need most."  Those were wise words.

Overall, yesterday was stressful and busy and overwhelming, but the Lord walked with me through it all.  He showed me that even in the little things, He is taking care of me.  He's got me.

On the way home from class, I spoke with my friend Ian about taking time to pray in class.  Ian said he prays in class all the time, especially during difficult tests and assignments.  I pray in class on nearly a daily basis.  Perhaps it seems silly to involve God in worries like, "I don't know if I will be able to make an A on this test!" but if I care, He cares.  If I am stressed, He wants me to put my faith in Him rather than on my own abilities and worries.  He cares about what is causing this distraction.

The Lord has taken care of me with such faithfulness and grace this week.  His gentle hand has been guiding me without fail.  On days I start out feeling entirely stressed, I keep ending up feeling a deep sense of peace instead.

Only the Lord can provide that.  And I'm so thankful for it.

I don't know if this time of year is as busy and stressful for you as it is me, but take some time and talk to God today.  He does care about what's going on in your life.  He will guide you through it with gentleness and love.  1 Thessalonians 5:17 says to pray without ceasing, and as difficult as that might sound, that's my personal goal.  I want to be in constant communication with my Father.  I want Him to be involved in my life, not just in the big things.  

Don't stop praying today.  Give Him your concerns.  He'll take care of you better than you will ever imagine.