Monday, July 22, 2013

Springtime Blessings

1900. Friends who will carry me to the Cross when I am too overwhelmed even to crawl there.

1906. Thursday morning class--my weekly blessing of enthusiasm.

1911. Trusty brown stapler: still going strong after 25 years and countless moves.

1935.  Ishaan's funny comments: "Mrs. Odell, I was telling my dad all about what you are like, and he said, 'That doesn't make any sense!'" (How I wish I could have heard his description!)

1940. Recipes the old-fashioned way--in the mail from my mom.

1946.  The innocent and compassionate heart of Jon C.

1950.  Fair Week and a Reserve Grand Champion pig!

1967. Tearful kids saying goodbye to their 4-H animals.

1968. My boy/man setting his sights on something and rallying others to achieve a goal.

1983. Tiny raccoon footprints scooting across the marsh.

1990. Twenty years with my Cowboy.

1995. The unconditional acceptance of farm dogs.

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Heart of Modesty

I ended my previous post on modesty promising to elaborate on the following convictions:

1. Modesty IS important, but it's an attitude, not a dress code.

2.  Modesty is everyone's responsibility.

3. It's not about you, (and it IS about you).

Although I have read extensively on the topic, when it comes right down to it, every one of my convictions about modesty is based on just one passage:

"One of them, an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question:  “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”  Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments." Matthew 22:36-40

I have just tossed out a long post explaining how I came about my convictions, because I've changed my mind about elaborating.

In the process of writing, I came to the conclusion that no one needs anymore explanation than the Scripture above. Any sincere follower of Christ who faithfully and humbly applies it by focusing first on love for God and then on love for others will live out biblical modesty.  

In the words of my good friend Kyle Kent, "Simply keep in mind that we are pointing others  to God and His salvation with everything we do, wear and say." 

Couldn't have said it better myself.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Gifts: Just a Smattering to Catch Up

1682. Sunday School lesson taught by Grace, Happy Girl, Ana and Hannah.  Such sincerity!

1684. Beautiful heart-crafted wedding vows by two kids who really understand what they mean.

1691. Sweet-smelling beeswax scenting the house.

1700.  Lisa D., always willing to share her thoughts and heart.

1705.  Surprise visitors: Jeff and Emily C. toting a microwave.

1711. The ability to give blood--a great reminder of The Blood that bought my freedom.

1723. Timely prayer for my family, straight from God's word:

And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your LORD, you must continue to follow Him.  Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him.  Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Colossians 2:6-7

1732.  The outlaw Frank, whining from "jail" after he's killed chicken.

1738.  Matty W. on castration day, "I am SO glad I'm not a cow."

1750. Another chance to get over myself.

1756.  Sweet Denae, so emotional in all the right ways.

1777. Ishaan's excitement over giving a gift.  He truly finds it better to give than to receive!

1780. Failures to keep me humble and re-focus me.

1783.  Friendly pig, pressed against the fence, eager for attention.

1790. A sacrificial man who desires to carry the load of providing regardless of the cost to himself.

1794. Morning fellowship with my God:  Him reaching down to me as I reach up with only praise.

1797. Sleepless nights for praying.

1800. From the Word: "Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in and we will share a meal as friends." (Spoken to the lukewarm church.  He still knocks.)

1802. Sister pictures:  Barncoat and boots with gussied and glitter.

1805. The assurance that I am never alone.  Even when I feel alone.

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Problem with Modesty

It being summer, and this being Florida, my e-mail and Facebook are blowing up with "shares" of articles about modesty.

I will confess: I have a rather conflicted relationship with this topic.

For most of my life, I naively thought that I could choose my clothing based on what suited my body type and what I thought was cute.

Then I started dating my husband.

Most of our early disagreements were over my bathing suits.  He explained to me very patiently and logically that, regardless of MY rationale for choosing a particular suit, "cute" was not the adjective going through the minds of the Marines he ran around with when they saw me in my tiny little bathing suit.

I thought he was ridiculous.

I had freckles for crying out loud...freckles just SCREAM innocence, do they not?

Years later we moved to The South, became more regularly and actively involved in church, and eventually decided to homeschool.  Now, don't get overly stereotypical on me, but suffice it to say that we ran in fairly conservative circles.

One day a well-meaning acquaintance of mine casually informed me that she taught her son (who was five at the time) to look away from women in two-piece bathing suits because they were hussies.

Mind you, I had already been to the beach with this family--multiple times--sporting a two-piece.

That's me: The hussy mom.

(Okay, I feel I should give a disclaimer:  The actual delivery may not have been quite that harsh.  I'm a people-pleaser by nature and therefore a wee bit sensitive to criticism--but I do know the word hussy was used.)

So, being one who would rather have a root canal without pain medication than offend anyone, I jumped right on the modesty bandwagon.

Over time Scripture reinforced the importance of modesty, so please don't read from my comments that I do not find modesty important.  I do.

The problem I have is how messed up we get trying to APPLY the practice of modesty.

First of all, I think it has become a tool of the enemy to cause otherwise loving and godly people to become critical and judgmental of one another.  Whether or not it is appropriate to wear a two-piece bathing suit, the wearing of one does not automatically make a woman a hussy.  On the flip side, choosing to cover more rather than less does not make a woman uptight, holier-than-thou, or prissy.  Yet I've seen us so easily jump to both of these conclusions about one another!

In the blogs I've read recently there seem to be two "camps."

On the one hand, articles exhort young women to consider the visual nature of men and dress in a way that protects them from wrong thinking.   (It's all our responsibility.)

On the other hand are posts conceding that women should be modest "within reason" but that men need to suck it up and control themselves and their thought lives. (It's all their responsibility--look away!)

As a mother of both daughters and a son, I have issues with both camps.

In my experience, the biggest frustration when trying to teach young women about modesty is that if we focus solely on clothing, it's almost impossible to define in a way that people agree on.

I have been asked to teach girls in youth group the "rules" in place for dress, only to walk out of the room and see the adult leaders (wonderful, sincere women, by the way) breaking the rules I just outlined.

Ooops.  So, do we need to have a dress code for grown-ups now?

I had a sweet girl in my Sunday School class who wore short skirts and spike heels to church every week.  The skirts were so short that I could see her underwear even when she sat with her legs crossed demurely. It was a bit distracting to me, and I'm a woman! I confess to thinking, "I can't believe her parents are okay with this outfit!"  But her parents saw nothing wrong with how she dressed.

However, I later found out that they were a little scandalized by the fact that I let my daughters wear pants--jeans even (gasp!)--to church.

Do you see what I mean?  I'm not trying to argue that there isn't a right or wrong when it comes to attire, just that a fixation on rules can cause us to miss seeing the valuable young woman and heart beneath the clothes.

It's so easy for modesty to become an issue where rules trump grace--which is NOT a gospel-centered mindset.

(As a side note, the best set of guidelines I've seen for modest attire come from a camp my kids attend: 

1. If you have trouble getting into it, or out of it, it's probably not modest. 

2. If you have to be careful when you sit down or bend over, it is probably not modest.

3. If people look at any part of your body before looking at your face, it is probably not modest.

4. If you can see your most private parts or an outline of those parts under the fabric, it is probably not modest.

I love it.  So simple without being legalistic.)

Honestly, I am still working through this. I do have a few points I would make with conviction--and will elaborate on later, so stay tuned.

1.  Modesty IS important, but it's an attitude, not a dress code.

2.  Modesty is everyone's responsibility.

3. It's really not about you, (and it IS about you).


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