My Heart is a Tower

11:31 AM Edit This 9 Comments »
In my last blog, I talked about keeping a zero-count ex list, about waiting patiently and having your first and only boyfriend be the man you marry.

But you know what, I think it goes even farther than the number of boyfriends you have. What?!?! Yes, you read that right, I’m going to stack one revolutionary idea on top of another. :)

I think it’s important for us to guard our hearts even in the places where no one sees.

I have a confession to make: I haven’t been all that great at this. Although I’ve never had a boyfriend or been on a date, there are many pages in my journal filled with dreams about a few certain guys that I have allowed to consume my thoughts and my emotions. Now I wish I had let God keep a better check on me, because as they have faded out of my life they left a little heartbreak behind. We never flirted, they probably didn’t even know I liked them, but because I didn’t guard my own heart there’s a bit of an ache that runs through me when I read those old journal entries. And it also makes me wonder...will my husband be jealous someday if he ever reads them? Quite probably not, if he’s a sensible guy and knows how much I love him. But still…would I be embarrassed to show him?

When I think of a tower, like a tower on a medieval castle, I think of something strong and protected, something tall and beautiful. Not anyone can just waltz in and take up residence in it. Entrance into this tower must be earned. And that’s what I want my heart to be like. As far as romantic love goes, my heart should be just as protected as that tower. I don’t want to let anyone in who doesn’t have a right to stay there forever.

I know the picture I’m painting is a very, very high ideal indeed. But someone once said that “Ideals are like stars: you will not succeed in touching them with your hands, but like the seafaring man on the ocean desert of waters, you choose them as your guides, and following them, you reach your destiny.” You and I will both fail at this. I know I already have. But by determining to be aware of who I spend my love on, and even more so how freely I give that love away, I will be protecting my heart and saving ALL of my love for the one man who has earned it, till death do us part.

What I definitely do NOT want to do is bash you or make you feel guilty if you’ve already dated or had boyfriends. That may be something God has released you to do at this point in your life, I don’t know. That’s between you and him. I’m not trying to lay down the law here. The only thing I am trying to do is help you see a little more clearly the vast importance of guarding your heart. Your love is a treasure. Don’t you dare give it away lightly.

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
Proverbs 4:23 NIV

Oh, let me warn you, sisters in Jerusalem…Don’t excite love, don’t stir it up, until the time is right—and you’re ready.
Song of Songs 2:7, 5:3, 8:4 MSG

PS – Again, I would love to read your comments on this. I know I’m talking crazy talk, but is it a good kind of crazy or should I be sent away with the special doctors? ;)

A Guy's Thoughts on Beauty

1:36 PM Edit This 10 Comments »
Believe it or not, girls aren't the only ones talking about what it means to be gloriously beautiful. Check out this open letter to Christian girls from my friend Josh. "True Beauty and God's Love"

The Ex List

3:11 PM Edit This 10 Comments »

I’ll admit, I never saw it, but there was a show on TV that ran in 2008 called “The Ex List.” It’s about a woman who discovers that she has already met, dated, and broken up with the man she was meant to be with. Trouble is, she has met, dated, and broken up with a lot of men, and she has no idea which one was The One. So she has to go through her “ex list” and re-date all of her old boyfriends to find the gem she passed over the first time.

It makes me think about what I’d want my ex list to look like someday. How many names would I want written on that page? Maybe I could rack up social points by going through a few dozen boyfriends. Maybe I could practice for marriage by getting into a serious relationship long before I plan to actually commit. That’s certainly how some people think. Not me, though, and I hope you agree. I’d want as short of a list as possible. Is ten a good number? How about five? Maybe I’ll do really well and only break up two or three times before I make a lifelong commitment.

Maybe my husband will only be the second or third man I give my whole heart to. I’m sure he’ll appreciate that.

But then I have to ask myself: What’s the ideal? If I could write the perfect love story, what would it look like?

If I want to keep the ex list as short as possible, then the ideal would be to keep it at zero. No breakups whatsoever. I’d spend years waiting for my prince to come, and then when I finally met him, I’d let him win my love slowly. Then at long last, I’d marry him and stay married forever. He’d be my First and Only One.

Seriously, how romantic is that? Can you imagine what it would be like to be in a relationship without the clutter of past boyfriends? To be able to give your whole heart away, without any pieces broken off?

Hopefully you’re already committed to the idea of saving your virginity for your wedding day. That’s amazing, I commend you highly. But how often do we think that way about our emotional purity? Do we guard our hearts the same way we guard our bodies?

When I get married, I want to be able to give my husband everything: all of my body and all of my heart. I don’t want him to be the second or third or fifth or fifteenth man I say “I love you” to. I don’t want to give my heart away until I know he’s the one to keep it forever.

This is why I’m not dating. Not because I’m afraid I may “go too far,” and not because it doesn’t sound fun, but because I want to keep every last corner of my heart for the man I will marry.

Don’t you think he deserves that? Don’t you think you deserve that?

For the record, a number of my dear friends whom I deeply respect have gone through breakups before. That’s ok. Sometimes the guy you thought was right turns out to be not so perfect after all. But I know they would agree with me that breakups are not part of the ideal picture. And it is possible to achieve that zero-count ex list. I have some other dear friends who have done it, and I am in awe of their love story.

As Amy March said in Little Women, "You don't need scores of suitors. You only need one, if he's the right one."

Ok, so I know you all have strong reactions to what I've just said. Please comment and be heard! I don't want to be the only one talking here. Let's figure this thing out together! :)

COMING UP: What if we took this idea to the next level? Part 2 coming Wednesday, December 2!

The Princess Bride

7:09 PM Edit This 9 Comments »
I like to imagine sometimes what my wedding will be like. I want something breezy and free and beautiful. I imagine what I will look like as I walk down the aisle. I picture a white flowing dress that looks like something out of The Lord of the Rings, and maybe even bare feet. My hair will have soft waves and curls, gently pulled back and pouring down my back in a luscious waterfall. My gauzy veil, attached to my hair by a little silver tiara, will flow down over my hair, brushing against my cheek. I will walk slowly down the aisle, with all my dearest friends and family watching me, but my eyes will be locked on the eyes of the man at the front. My bridegroom. The man who has chosen me whom I have chosen in return. Maybe you like to imagine the same thing.

What would you say if I told you there is a wedding more beautiful than that waiting for you?

There are a lot of phrases that get batted around in the church a lot, and “Bride of Christ” is one of them. If you grew up in the church, you’ve probably heard it all your life. We talk about the Church being the Bride of Christ, and in heaven we will celebrate at the Wedding Feast of the Lamb.

This can sound like a rather strange concept (especially for guys), but it’s definitely in the Bible.

"Let us rejoice and be glad; let us praise his greatness! For the time has come for the wedding of the Lamb, and his bride has prepared herself for it. She has been given clean shining linen to wear.” (The linen is the good deeds of God's people.) Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Happy are those who have been invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.” And the angel added, “These are the true words of God.”
Revelation 19:7-9

And I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared and ready, like a bride dressed to meet her husband.
Revelation 21:2

That bride, the new Jerusalem, is the Church, all believers who have ever lived. She is being married to Jesus, the lamb of God, the lamb who was slain. (John 1:29, Revelation 5:12)

Maybe this is something that boggles your mind a bit. I hope so. It is a gloriously massive concept, and it should stagger you a bit. If it doesn’t, you probably haven’t let it sink in yet. We are Jesus’ bride! The King of heaven and earth has chosen us, courted us, and proposed. For those of us who have accepted, a beautiful wedding beyond imagination and blissful unity for all eternity await us.

If you have a hard time thinking of yourself and God in romantic terms, you’re not alone. It was a crazy concept to the Hebrews too. They were used to thinking of themselves primarily as God’s servants, chosen and protected so they could serve him. But this is what God said through one of his prophets in the Old Testament:

“On that day she will call me her husband,” declares the LORD. “She will no longer call me her master.”
Hosea 2:16

God longs to take us beyond a master-servant relationship into a real love affair, a passionate and committed marriage! He wants us to call him “husband”! Can you imagine?

Of course, it’s not entirely literal. God has no gender, and there are millions of Christians, men and women. Obviously, God is not going to put on a tux and we are not going to all try to fit into one wedding dress. But in the most important sense it is absolutely true. Think about it. In human life, marriage is the most intimate relationship two people can have. What better picture is there for God to use in describing how close he wants to be to us?

In the past few years when I first began realizing that this is how God sees me, as his beautiful and beloved bride, I absolutely melted. I have been so captivated by this love that has swept me off my feet. This is my prayer for you.

I am the devoted servant of the Most High God. I am the precious daughter of the King of Kings. But even beyond that…I am the beloved bride of the Man who gave up everything to pursue me. I am the princess bride of King Jesus Christ.

Like a young man taking a virgin as his bride, He who formed you will marry you. As a groom is delighted with his bride, so your God will delight in you.
Isaiah 62:5

A Beauty Glorious is on Facebook!

2:08 PM Edit This 0 Comments »
No use denying spend about half your life on Facebook. I know it's true, I do it too. So in honor of those of us who stay connected to the world via our news feed and that little red notification box, I have created a Facebook group especially for A Beauty Glorious! Become a member, comment on the page, and stay updated on what's new on this blog. I'd love to see you over there!

And keep your eyes peeled for a new blog post I'll be putting up in a few days!

Hello, My Name Is...

1:32 PM Edit This 5 Comments »

Have you ever worn one of these nametags before? They’re pretty awesome. All you have to do is fill in your name and that little sticker will identify you to the world. “Hello, my name is Caitlyn.”

Your name is one of the most important parts of you. It’s usually the first thing everyone learns about you. Your last name even tells about the family that you are a part of. Your name gives you your identity and your place in the world.

But when it comes down to it, what I write on my nametag is just a word. A bigger question would be, what’s behind that name? Who is Caitlyn, really?

If name represents identity, then when what is my true identity? Who am I really, deep down at the core? What is my Name, my soul’s Name?

If you asked me, “Who is Caitlyn?” I might answer, “I am nineteen years old and the oldest of four kids. I am a student, an actor, a writer, a dancer, and a youth group leader. I am average height and rather skinny and pale. I like to read fantasy books, watch crime dramas, and eat chocolate.”

Did I just tell you who I am? I certainly described myself in a lot of different ways, but how many of those actually define me? Are they part of my Name? What really makes up your core identity?

Different things in your life will give you many different names. Sports might tell you you’re an amazing athlete, or you’re a terrible athlete. School might tell you that you’re a good student, or you’re a bad student. Advertising might tell you you’re not thin enough or not trendy enough. The list goes on.

People love to tell you your name. In your school, you might be named “the smart girl,” “the band geek,” “the beauty queen,” “the rich girl,” “the foster kid,” “the goody-goody.” You might have been called “ugly,” or “worthless,” or “slut.” People are really good at calling other people all kinds of things.

In between all that, it’s easy to get confused. It’s easy to start accepting those names and begin calling yourself those things. Or maybe you’re the kind of person who knows not to believe every label she’s given, but isn’t sure which ones are good to believe. You know there’s got to be more to who you are, but having a hard time figuring out what it is.

You see, we can’t do without an identity. We need to know who we are.

We need to know our Name.

So where do we start?

In my mind, there’s only one place to start that makes any sense at all. Start with God. Who does God say you are? He is King of the whole universe! He created you. If anyone knows who you are, it’s him.

So let’s start there. You are God’s creation, perfectly formed by his hands. (Psalm 139:13-14)

What else?

You are the daughter of God.
Romans 8:14-15 - Those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons [and daughters] of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father."

You are the bride of Christ.
Song of Solomon 4:9 - You have stolen my heart, my sister, my bride; you have stolen my heart with one glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace.

You are the temple of the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 3:16 - Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?

You are a friend of Christ.
John 15:15 - I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

You are chosen by God, holy and dearly loved.
Colossians 3:12 - Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

You are a foreigner on earth and a citizen of heaven.
1 Peter 2:11 - Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.
Philippians 3:20 - But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.

You are more than a conqueror though Christ.
Romans 8:37 - No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

You are one of a chosen generation, a royal priest hood, a holy nation.
1 Peter 2:9 - But you are a chosen people, a royal priest hood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

And that just scratches the surface! The Bible is full of affirmations of God’s love for you and the identity he has given you. And what he says about you is far more important that what people say about you, or even what you say about yourself. If those things are nagging whispers, then God’s answer is a fantastic clap of thunder that shakes the earth and shatters the lies. Just like nothing can stand in the way of God’s power, nothing can stand in the way of God’s Name for you.

No matter what, you can stand firm in this truth. In God’s eyes, you are a warrior bride, a royal princess, infinitely beloved and chosen by him to change the world.

This is your identity. This is your Name.

Poured Out

2:25 PM Edit This 1 Comment »

A group of men is sitting around a table, talking and eating. These are all church leaders and such, men known for following God. Suddenly someone comes in who was not invited. A woman.

Conversation stops. The men all watch her as she comes in. The woman’s eyes are focused on one man. She crosses over to him and sits down by his feet. Her eyes well up with tears and she begins to sob. She has been clutching something in her hands, and now she reveals a small bottle.

A collective gasp rises around the room. The bottle is made of beautifully cut alabaster stone and is full of perfume, worth thousands of dollars. Still shaking with sobs, the woman gently wipes the dust off of it and twists the entire top off. A thick fragrance fills the room, like an entire greenhouse of flowers.

The woman holds the bottle over the man’s feet and begins to pour. A thin stream of amber-colored liquid pours out from the bottle’s neck. She keeps pouring, pouring. The bottle is almost half empty. Still she pours. The man’s feet are now covered in this sweet expensive perfume. The bottle is three quarters empty. And still the woman pours. She seems determined to hold nothing back.

Only a tiny bit is left in the bottle now. The stream runs thinner and become a trickle. The woman tips the bottle further trying to let the last few drops escape. Finally one last drop of perfume is clinging onto the lip of the bottle. The woman gives one small shake, the drop falls, and the woman sits back, her tears subsiding and her bottle empty.

Some of the people there became angry and said to one another, "What was the use of wasting the perfume? It could have been sold for more than three hundred silver coins and the money given to the poor!" And they criticized her harshly. But Jesus said, "Leave her alone! Why are you bothering her? She has done a fine and beautiful thing for me.
Mark 14:4-6

This story, or one very much like it, appears in all four gospels in the New Testament. It has recently become a favorite of mine because of this idea of the pouring. This perfume was very expensive, worth almost a year’s wages. It was the most expensive thing she owned, and was probably supposed to be her dowry for when she got married, or her security fund in case she ever needed money. She had probably been saving it for years for just such a reason. Can you imagine owning a perfume that cost a year’s worth of paychecks? Can you imagine wasting it all in the space of a few seconds?

Yes, I said waste. It was a good kind of waste, but it was still a waste. The disciples called it a waste and thought she should have found a much more practical use for it. But Jesus understood and he loved what the woman had done.

It took courage to come into that room. The table was full of respected church leaders, very proper and formal and often judgmental. The woman in Luke (which is probably a different woman than the one in the other three gosepls) had a reputation as a sinner (Luke 7:37), possibly a prostitute or adulteress. She was not welcome in that house by any conventional standard.

But she came anyway, carrying with her her most valuable possession. And then she did the unthinkable. In the space of a few seconds, she poured out all of that expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet. On his feet! She knelt down on the ground and, with tears streaming down her face, anointed his feet with her perfume and dried it with her hair. This is the most humbling thing she could have done. She sacrificed not only her financial security, but all of her pride. In that moment, it didn’t matter to her that she was making a fool of herself. It didn’t matter that the men wrinkled their noses in distaste at her arrival and then gaped disapprovingly at the waste of the perfume. She simply didn’t care. She wasn’t there for them.

She had spent everything she had to worship Jesus. Certainly, serving others is a way to worship Jesus, but in this case she wasn’t serving anyone but him. She poured out everything – her hopes, her fears, her pride – and spilled it all in worship at Jesus’ feet. Drop by drop, the perfume flowed from the bottle. Drop by drop, she emptied herself. She wasn’t interested in holding anything back. She was there for one purpose only – to express her love for the Man whom she knew loved her like no other.

Once the men got over the shock of what she was doing, they began arguing about the actual waste of the perfume. “That money should be given to the poor!” they said. “That’s how you show love for God! You’ve got to do something!”

But Jesus knew otherwise. He understood her heart full of love. He was deeply touched by her display of affection. He recognized the sacrifices she had made, and he loved them. The waste of that perfume meant far more to him than any charitable donation. It was an act of pure love.

There was another woman who sat at Jesus feet at another dinner party. While her sister was hurrying to accomplish things, work she could do, Mary chose instead to sit at Jesus’ feet. She wasted her time just to be with Jesus. And Jesus honored her for it. (Luke 10:38-42)

I want my life to reflect that kind of love. I want to waste my life in ways that the world can never understand. I want to spend every waking moment pouring out my love to Jesus. Pouring, pouring, pouring, all of what I have, all of who I am, all of who I will be. My plans, my dreams, my talents, my relationships. My very soul.

In every way possible I want to show my love for him. If that means I spend hours dancing or singing or writing or simply laying on the ground, I will do it gladly. That is my alabaster box, and that is my costly perfume.

He poured out his life for me. The least I can do is pour out all of myself, waste my life in love.

Glorious, lavish waste.

My life is like a drink offering being poured out on the altar.
2 Timothy 4:6b

These are the two songs that have really inspired some of these thoughts.

You can read this story in Matthew 26:6-13, Mark 14:3-9, John 12:1-8, and a very similar story in Luke 7:36-50.

New mag for girls!

11:47 AM Edit This 2 Comments »
Hey, ya'all. Just wanted to drop you a little news item that I think you'll be interested in. If you've ever picked up BRIO magazine, you know that it's a pretty awesome publication, full of a fun Christian perspective on everything girls face today. Well, BRIO as we have known it is coming to an end. Focus on the Family is going to put it into the hands of a new organization who will take it from here. (If you're a BRIO subscriber, don't worry, you'll get your copy same as always.)

This being the case, Susie Shellenberger, our beloved editor of BRIO, is moving on. She's now starting her own magazine for teen girls, and calling it SUSIE. I've looked at her blog,, and it looks like she's already got a really exciting vision for what this new magazine will look like. If you have a few minutes, I'd encourage you to pop over there and check it out. Susie's really interested to know what you think, and she's giving away tons of fun prizes!

A Father's Love Song

9:30 AM Edit This 2 Comments »
My daughter, you are beautiful.
I twisted every strand of DNA with my own fingers.
I chose your hair that shines,
I chose your eyes that glow.
Every dimple,
Every lash,
Every inch of your skin,
I made myself!
“She’s perfect,” I said.
“Do you see my daughter? She’s captivating!”

My daughter, you are loved.
I watch you laugh,
I watch you grow.
One glance takes my breath away.
Every image sketched,
Every point scored,
Every note sung,
I burst with pride.
“Do you see her? Look!
That one’s mine.”

My daughter, you are known.
I have counted every hair on your head.
I know your ideal guy,
your most embarrassing moment,
your favorite kind of ice cream.
I know your fears and your ambitions.
I know every secret you’ve ever had.
I know your past,
your present,
and your future.
I know you better than you know yourself.

My precious daughter, you are held.
I have seen the tears,
the nights when your pillow is soaked.
I have seen the heart that was shattered,
the hopes and dreams so cruelly dashed.

Oh, my daughter, I have seen.
I have caught every tear in a bottle
and I keep it close to my heart.
I collected the pieces of your heart,
and I hold them still,
longing to restore them.
My arms are ready,
Run to me!
Run to me!
And I will give you rest.