Transitions and Adventures...

10:31 PM Edit This 1 Comment »
Well. I haven't posted on here in a while. *looks around* *sees cobweb* *swats it off the wall* Ick. Sorry, guys... guess life overran this thing a little bit.

I don't expect to be posting on here in the future, either, as a matter of fact. God has a new adventure for me now. In summer 2012 I will be attending something called the One Thing Internship at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Missouri. This will be a focused six month period of my life to completely devote myself to prayer, learning, growing, ministry, but most of all long hours of one on one intimacy with Jesus. This has been the desire of my heart for several years now... if you've been reading ABG long you've been watching the seeds of this dream slowly growing. I am Mary of Bethany, and I want to pour out my life on Jesus' feet, just like I wrote about more than two years ago.

I've started a blog to chronicle my journey towards IHOP, and to share what God's teaching me. It will be similar to ABG at times, but also a lot more personal and hopefully deeper because I won't be aiming at one particular target audience. One thing I've discovered in the past few years of writing ABG is that my message has outgrown the original "teen girl" audience. That was something that I struggled with, wondering if what I was writing was in conflict with my original mission, and thus I think it's a good time to transition into a blog that is much more personal, and genuine, and open. Less Brio magazine, more confessions of one soul in love.

So I invite you to come check out www.fragrancearise.wordpress.com. I've also put up archives of my favorite ABG posts, so you can reread them there if you like. There's lots of information about what this internship is, how I'm planning to get there, the dreams God is putting on my heart... I hope you enjoy it. It may be my journey, but it can be yours too if you'd like to share it with me. I love my readers here dearly, and I want you all to come along for the ride.

Come and watch the miracle unfold.

He's Alive, Now I'm Alive!

1:33 PM Edit This 2 Comments »

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead."
1 Peter 1:3 ESV

Today is the day we celebrate Jesus' victory over death and the glorious hope that has been given to us. Happy Easter!


Absolute Certainty

6:18 PM Edit This 1 Comment »
As you may or not know, I’m pretty much in love with the Circle series by Ted Dekker. It has illuminated and completely changed so much of my life. The past few days, a few lines from White, book three, have been especially rolling around my head. It happened at a council meeting during a time of crisis among the Circle…

“Slow down,” Thomas said. “Please! This kind of division will destroy us. We must remember what we know as certain.”
He looked at Jeremiah again. “Remind us.”
“As certain?”
“Absolute certainty.”

I don’t know about you, but I usually tend to have a lot of questions about my life. What’s going to happen with…? Will I ever…? Why do I…? Does God really…? Most of the time it feels like there are way more things that I don’t know than things I do know.

Sometimes it’s good to go back and remember what I know for certain.

So I decided to try something in my journal. I drew a line down the middle of the page and made two lists, Things I Don’t Know and Things I Do Know. On the first list I got really gut-honest and poured out all my questions, frustrations, fears, and insecurities. I put things like:
  • What to do in August or with the rest of my life.
  • If/when I’m going to have a chance to truly be in love.
  • How I can love God so much and betray him so often.
  • What God created me for (more specifically than “loving him”).
and lots more.

I stared at that for a while. That’s a lot of uncertainty. I don’t like uncertainty. I like to know things.

So I began to write on the second list some of the Things I Do Know, things like:
  • God is good. All the time. And he LOVES me.
  • His plans are better than mine.
  • He is writing my love story.
  • His faithfulness is forever, and his mercy is new each day.
  • God does NOT hold my betrayals against me.
  • I really was created to love him.
  • He’s got me in the palm of his hand.
  • He Sees me.
  • He knows I love him even more than I know I love him.
  • He calls me [here I put all the precious and secret nicknames he has for me—tee-hee!]
  • My inheritance and my DESTINY are in Christ.
  • He is my portion.
  • Etc.

Lo and behold, I ran out of paper before I ran out of truth.

Underneath all that I wrote in huge letters:

THIS LIST > THAT LIST.

What more do I need to know?

For I know that my Redeemer lives,
and at the last he will stand upon the earth.”
Job 19:25

Obsession and Meditation

6:26 PM Edit This 0 Comments »
You know how when you’re obsessed with something your mind’s “default position” is to be thinking about that thing? And how you can make inside jokes and random references and tie it into almost anything? Depending on what I’ve been watching or reading a lot of lately, I do that sometimes with Star Trek, or Doctor Who, or Ted Dekker books, or even Twilight. It’s pretty normal these days for me to pop out with a Doctor Who quote in daily conversation—complete with British accent—and if I’m spacing out, staring at the wall, there’s a good chance I’m daydreaming about flying off with the Doctor in that impossible blue box. Yep, I am certifiably obsessed.

What would it be like to have that same kind of obsession with something far more epic and timeless and amazing than any of those fantasy worlds? What would it be like to be obsessed with the Living and Active Word of God?

Sound crazy? Sound impossible? Oh, it’s possible, but to get there, we’re going to have to break through a few old habits.

King David was a man unashamedly infatuated, preoccupied, and otherwise obsessed with God’s Word. He wrote Psalm 119, the longest chapter in the Bible, and spends some 176 verses enthusing over the Law of the Lord. Over and over, David makes passionate exclamations like, “Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.” (verse 97) (And to think, David only had a few books of Scripture! I bet his mind would have absolutely exploded if he could have seen the 66-book amazingness we call a Bible today.)

We’ve been doing something this year called The Journey 2011—a challenge to read all 66 books of the Bible in a year. It’s been really amazing so far. This kind of disciplined Bible reading is somewhat new to me; it’s only been since October of last year that I’ve been finding any sort of daily rhythm. During that time, God’s been teaching me something that’s completely challenged the way I’ve been living for most of my Christian life:

If I want to be obsessed with God, I need to be obsessed with his Word.

There are no shortcuts; to know God, I gotta dig down deep into the number one place he has revealed himself. I have to read the Bible not just to read it and be done, but to actually meet God.

How to do this? It all boils down to that word David used: meditation.

No, I don’t mean you should read the Bible while sitting in the lotus position and intoning a steady “ommmmmmm.” That kind of “meditation” is all about emptying your mind. What God wants is for you to fill your mind with his Word.

For me, this is what it looks like: when I sit down to read my Bible, I begin by praying something that I picked up from David in Psalm 119: “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.” (verse 18) This verse has become the foundation of how I approach the Bible. Without the Holy Spirit opening my eyes and teaching me himself as I read, it’s going to just seem like so many words. I need to stay in communication with him as I read so that I can really understand what he’s trying to tell me.

I mean, ultimately, the Holy Spirit wrote the Bible, right? He knows it inside and out, he knows what he meant when he inspired the writers, and he knows how it applies to me today. Because of the Holy Spirit, the Bible isn’t a dead piece of literature—it is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword”! (Hebrews 4:12) As a friend of God, I have the enormous privilege of getting to read the Bible with the Holy Spirit at my side, whispering in my ear. I can ask him, “What did you mean when you wrote this? What does this say about who you are or who I am? How can this be true if that is also true?” and he can actually tell me. How ridiculously cool is that?!

I always read with a journal and pencil handy, as well as a red pen and handful of highlighters. This is just me, but I like to underline things that are theologically interesting, and highlight things that really inspire or speak to me. And I do a lot of journaling too, for making note of my favorite verses and what’s interesting about them, and also for just journaling about how they speak to my life and my relationship with God.

Sometimes I get only halfway through my daily reading because a verse or phrase leaps out and demands that I stop and focus on it for a while. I call this getting gloriously STUCK, and it happens in the most random places. I got stuck on this verse just the other day: “The beloved of the LORD dwells in safety. The High God surrounds him all day long, and dwells between his shoulders.” (Deuteronomy 33:12)

Hmmmm… isn’t that a good verse to just stop and sit with awhile? The beloved of the LORD… I am the beloved of the LORD… The God of the universe has a beloved, and it is me… he makes me dwell, live, rest in safety… The High God surrounds me, like a warm mist, or a blanket, or a shield…what does that look like? what does that feel like?...God, I want to know that you surround me, that I am your beloved…

And that’s all meditating is. It’s taking a verse or phrase or idea and rolling it around in your mind, really soaking it in. Sometimes I’ll draw it, sometimes I’ll paraphrase it, sometimes if I’m alone I’ll sing it, sometimes I’ll just think and journal and pray through it. The more I do this, the more different words will strike me, or I will suddenly make a connection to something else I’ve read. And I always come away feeling that I know God a little bit more.

I believe the point of reading the Bible is to encounter God. It’s not to learn doctrine, it’s not to study history, it’s certainly not to fulfill a duty. It’s to encounter the living Spirit who inspired it, and although he just might teach you something about doctrine or history, ultimately, he’s going to lead you to himself. He longs for you to know his heart. The Bible is a guaranteed gateway into the genuine heart of God.

And I want to know God. I want to touch his heart.

I want to be obsessed with this thing that God calls his very Word.

I hope you do, too.

“For it is no empty word to you, but your very life…”
Deuteronomy 32:47

ABG guest blogs on GrowUp318!

7:12 PM Edit This 0 Comments »
Hello again! I do have a blog post in my compy all ready to go, however I do believe I shall save that for next week because THIS week A Beauty Glorious is being featured as a guest blogger on GrowUp318.com! GrowUp318 is written by the lovely Heather who as you may remember won our Secret Keeper giveaway a few weeks ago. She was taking a leave of absence to recover from surgery (she's doing great now) and was featuring some guest bloggers in the meantime... My post "The Mystery of Modesty" was featured yesterday. Go check it out--and while you're at it, browse the rest of Heather's blog! :)

In the meantime on this end of things, I shall leave you with the title of next week's blog... "Obsession and Meditation." Check back here next Wednesday to read it!

(By the way... this is the first time I have officially referred to A Beauty Glorious as ABG. I do so in my journal and amongst friends all the time. Feel free to join the trend. ;) )

The Journey 2011 - Remember

7:49 PM Edit This 0 Comments »
Hello again, all! I’m so sorry I haven’t posted in a while. In the meantime, I got a job, did a lot of sewing, and worked on catching up with The Journey 2011. I am proud to report that I am now once again on target, reading every night, and finding awesome stuff!

Since I haven’t blogged on The Journey in a while, let’s back up a bit to Exodus and look at some of what’s going on there. Quick summary, Bible in a minute style: Slavery in Egypt, “Let my people go!”, plagues, Passover, Red Sea, yay God… “Why didn’t you just let us die in Egypt?”

Wait, what?!

Seriously, that’s what they said. As I was reading through Exodus, I kept getting so frustrated and wanted to just pop back in time and Gibbs slap the entire nation of Israel. (If you don’t know what a Gibbs slap is, watch this.) Check out the timeline:

·         God rescues his people from Egypt in an especially miraculous and dramatic fashion, terrifying the Egyptians to the point that they actually kick the Israelites out. Along the way, he institutes the Passover celebration so that the Israelites can remember this event every year. (Exodus 11-12)
·         Pharaoh comes storming out with his army, trapping Israel with their backs up against the Red Sea, and they start to panic. “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt?” (Exodus 14:11)
·         Red Sea, poof! And they walk through on dry ground. Faith returns. “Israel saw the great power that the LORD used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the LORD, and they believed in the LORD and in his servant Moses.” (Exodus 14:31)
·         Israel complains for water; God gives them water. (Exodus 15:22-27)
·         Israel complains for bread and wishes for the “good old days” of plenty in Egypt (come on, guys, you were slaves!); God gives them manna from heaven. (Exodus 16)
·         Israel complains for water and whines that God is trying to kill them (notice the escalating whininess?); God gives them water. (Exodus 17:1-7)
·         Israel sees the glory of the Lord on the mountain, with smoke and thunder and lightening. (Exodus 19:16-20)
·         Moses disappears for a while to talk to God; in the meantime the people decide that they need a god they can see—they seem to have forgotten the light show of just a few chapters ago—so Aaron makes them a golden calf to worship. “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” (Exodus 32:4)

Brilliant. Just brilliant, guys. *Gibbs slap.*

And this is basically the pattern for the rest of the Old Testament, escalating to the point that Israel gets themselves exiled for their false-god-chasing ways. It’s like they’ve got some kind of spiritual amnesia.

I’m so glad I’m never like that.

*Gibbs slap*

Okay, okay, thank you, Boss.

You know, I said this was an old Testament pattern, but maybe it’s more of a human pattern. How often do we suffer from spiritual amnesia?

How often do I encounter God and then the next day act like it never happened?

How often does God come through for me in a big way—providing something just when I need it, reassuring me of his love just when I’m having doubts, proving in a million little and big ways that he hears my prayers—and the next time I’m in that situation, I don’t trust God to come through again?

How often do I experience God’s extravagant love for me and extravagantly swear my love in return, and then promptly go and flirt with other little gods—TV, Facebook, my own ego, anything I put more priority on than living out my love for him?

How often do I just plain forget to invite him into my day, and let him get crowded out with busyness—or even just busy laziness?

Spiritual amnesia. Somehow I just don’t remember.

But God remembers.
 
Jeremiah 2:2, 32 “I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride, how you followed me into the wilderness… Can a virgin forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? Yet my people have forgotten me days without number.” Can you hear the sorrow in this last statement? God is comparing us forgetting him to a bride showing up at her wedding without her wedding dress. It breaks his heart. He longs for the days when we were truly believing and devoted.

He is jealous to be our center once again.

And he never gives up. He keeps on pursuing, keeps on offering himself to us. Look at the story of Israel. God never gave up on them—yes, he punished them when they got too far off track, but he always brought them back. He was patient, and he still used them to bless the whole world in spite of themselves.

Thank God he does the same with me.

And Our Second Giveaway Winner Is...

1:33 PM Edit This 1 Comment »
Hey guys! Sorry this was a bit delayed. My weekend got crazy before I realized what was happening. :/ Anyway, the winner is (drum roll please...)

GrowUp318.com!

This is the lovely Heather who blogs at www.growup318.com. Y'all should check it out, and see if it encourages and challenges you as much as it has me! (I'll actually be guest blogging there next month!) Heather, you'll be hearing from me via email so I can send you your copy of Dannah Gresh's amazing book Secret Keeper: The Delicate Power of Modesty.


To everyone else, thank you so much for your wonderful comments! I always love reading about your lives and the ways you are striving to chase after God's heart.



Grace and peace!

Love Letter

10:58 AM Edit This 1 Comment »
My beloved one,

I see you, in the secret places of your heart, and I know you better than you know yourself. I carefully crafted you just the way I want you. You are my artwork, my grand masterpiece. And I say you are perfect. I fell in love with you the moment I first thought of you, long before time existed. From eternity past, I have never not thought of you, and I have never not loved you.

You make me sing and shout with joy! Just one glance from you in my direction and I am overwhelmed. You ravish me; you have captivated my heart. You are a rose, and a lily among thorns. I see you and there is no flaw in you. I love you, my beautiful one, with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, and I promise I forever will.

You are my beautiful and beloved bride! I can’t wait for the day I can finally sweep you away into the place I’m preparing for us to spend eternity—together.

Until then, please don’t despair. Never doubt my love. I have loved you with an everlasting love. Even when you don’t see it, my love is always there, drawing you closer to my heart. Nothing in this world or the next, not the height of Everest nor the cold depth of the Atlantic, could ever separate you from it. My love is stronger than death itself, and nothing you could offer would ever be enough to buy it. It is given freely. My heart burns for you, and many waters could never quench its fire.

I love you fiercely, and I am desperate to win your heart. You are the apple of my eye and the delight of my soul. You’re worth my blood, every last drop. Never forget how much you mean to me.

Your King and Eternal Lover,

Jesus

PS- Happy Valentine's Day.

  

 Psalm 139:1-24, Ephesians 2:10, Zephaniah 3:17, Song of Songs 4:9, Song of Songs 6:5, Song of Songs 2:1-2, Song of Songs 4:7, Mark 12:30, Isaiah 62:5, John 14:3, Jeremiah 31:3, Romans 8:38-39, Song of Songs 8:6-7, Zechariah 2:8

A Secret to Keep - Part 2

6:49 PM Edit This 6 Comments »

I wrote in my last blog about the purpose and power of modesty. It’s all about maintaining the mystery and protecting your secrets. Unfortunately, in our culture, it’s all too common for girls to flaunt their secrets as loudly as if they had a bullhorn. You know exactly what I mean. V-necks framing cleavage galore, tight t-shirts that show off every curve and bra line, miniskirts with just enough fabric to cover your undies, cutsey cropped shorts that show a mile of leg, and that’s just for starters.

So, practically speaking, how can we guard our secrets? It’s hard to pin down an precise line of “how much is too much,” but there are some rules of thumb we can use to help us figure this thing out.

One question I sometimes ask myself is, “Would I want a guy putting his hand on the skin that’s showing?” (Awkward image? I hope so!) Obviously, if a guy’s being creepy about touching any part of my body, that’s not cool, but some areas are clearly deep into the danger zone. When I’m trying on shorts and I notice that practically my entire thigh is showing, I imagine a guy laying his hand on my skin up there—and off those shorts go into the “I don’t think so” pile.

Another question to ask might be, “What is this outfit drawing attention to?” Do I really want my shirt so low that my breasts draw more attention than my face? Hmm, what about words printed across my rear like a billboard? (Yeah, he’s a jerk if he stares, but come on, you were the one who put up the neon signs.)

Wanna get even more specific? Try a few tests with a mirror in front of you to see if your clothes make the cut.

The, Um, Chestal Area

This is one of the easiest areas to lose control of, because today’s fashion is pretty much all about flaunting it—and frankly, you know you want to! (Hey, just being honest here!) So take a deep breath, remind yourself that your secrets are worth protecting, and shield those babies from prying eyes!

Bend over and, in the mirror, check out what’s going on down there. Can you see deep into the “valley,” or even all the way down to the middle of your bra? Not good. (For some body types, you won’t even need to do this. You’ll know right away how much cleavage you’re showing!) Solve this problem with some layering. Try a cami or a tank, but if those are still too low, either tweak the straps to bring the neckline up or go for a t-shirt to layer underneath instead. One beautifully modest girl I know likes to layer two tank tops, one backwards and one forwards, to take care of this problem in a super cute way! Another trick: buy a package of men’s tank tops, which have slightly higher necklines than girls’ tanks.

Here’s another test to try. With your fingers together and palm flat against your chest, hook your thumb into that little hollow place right at the base of your neck. Is there still skin showing below your hand? Can you see the curve of your breasts? Better double think what this shirt is drawing attention to. (Once again, layers are your friend.)

The tightness thing can be the hardest to figure out. Here, the goal is not to look spray painted. Leave some shape to the imagination. There is power in mystery!

The Gap of Death

This is my personal demon with jeans: that evil gap in the back between the pants and your skin that happens when your pants don’t fit quite right. Immodest and just plain uncomfortable! Invest in a simple belt to cinch that in. All fixed!

Even with a belt, though, this gap can spell death in more ways than one when you bend over or sit down. Try it, then reach back to feel what everyone else is seeing. Do you feel skin or underwear or worst of all (cringe) The Crack? Layers to the rescue! Wear a long cami or tank underneath your shirt to take care of this. You can either tuck it in or pull it down over the top of your pants, depending on how cute your belt is. ;)

LEG!!

There’s no getting around it: some skirts and shorts are just TOO short! Try this: Put on those shorts and sit cross legged in front of a mirror. Can you see too far up your inner thigh? (You’ll know how far is too far when you imagine your dear ol’ grandpa sitting in front of you!) Luckily these days Bermuda shorts are in ready supply, so you never have to worry about short shorts being your only option!

Skirts: You could try the cross-legged test again, but you and I both know how that’s going to turn out. So try this instead: Bend over like you’re trying to touch your toes, then feel how much of the backs of your legs is showing. Too high?

In general, miniskirts are out. Look for skirts that are closer to your knee than to your crotch. Anything less is too short!

What about wearing tights or leggings under your skirts? Leggings can be awesome, but remember that pretty much all they do is color your skin. Every curve is still fully on display. There’s a point where too short is just plain too short. I suggest using leggings as a safety net for those borderline skirts that you’re not sure about.

Here’s a cool idea, though: Wear your short skirts over jeans! It’s common enough not to be weird, but it’s unusual enough to be fun and unique and a little bit boho! This isn’t going to save your tight denim miniskirts (but feel free to prove me wrong!) but come on—you’ve got so many other stylish choices up your sleeve, who needs ‘em?

Strappy Days

No one should know what your underwear looks like, and that includes your bra straps. Plus, exposed bra straps are just tacky. Keep those tucked away; you can buy little hooks to attach to the underside of your shirt to help. Take advantage of those removable straps that you can cross and attach in several different ways to keep them out of sight. (The picture at right is a good example of this--although that particular tank is a tad tight to wear on its own.) If you shirt just has really weird armholes and all else fails, go strapless. 

What about spaghetti straps, like on a cami? I say avoid them. It’s not a good idea to wear a cami by itself. Not only do you often have cleavage issues, but it leaves your upper back and shoulders bare and is really no better than a tube top. That’s just way too much skin. Remember, the more skin you how, the more it just invites guys to complete the picture in their minds. Go for a tank or tee underneath. Play up that color contrast!

If you’re feeling iffy about any outfit, ask your dad or an older brother. They can help you understand what a guy sees so you don’t go causing guys to stumble if you can avoid it.

My goal isn’t really to give you rules to follow and a dress code to obey. I only hope you realize the importance of guarding your secrets, saving every glimpse for the one man who deserves them. With that in mind, use your best judgment. There is power in mystery. You will feel more confident when you choose not to give your secrets away, and that confidence will only heighten your beauty. When you choose to hide the full beauty of your body, the glorious beauty of your heart can be revealed.

PS- If you're interested in more specifics on what's modest and what isn't, check out the Modesty Survey, where a bunch of Christian guys answered very detailed questions on what they consider immodest. You probably won't agree with all the results - I didn't - but it's a very interesting read nonetheless.

GIVEAWAY: Congratulations to A Hopeful Romantic for winning last week’s copy of Secret Keeper: The Delicate Power of Modesty by Dannah Gresh!

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!! Luckily for the rest of you, I’m actually giving away another copy of Secret Keeper today! Just leave a comment below sharing one of your favorite modesty tips and tricks (How do you decide what's modest? What do you do when an outfit gets iffy?) along with your email address, to be entered. One week from today I’ll announce the winner!


If you don't want to post your email on the internet, that's totally okay; you can still enter! Go ahead and post your comment here, then also email me (abeautyglorious@gmail.com) a copy of the comment, just so I know which address goes with which comment. :)

ALSO, to get more entries into the drawing, tell your friends to enter! Have them leave a comment sharing their trick with your name, like this: "When a shirt is too short, I like to blah blah blah... and YOUR NAME sent me here." Each friend you send to the blog will earn YOU an extra entry into the giveaway!

And The Giveaway Winner Is...

5:11 PM Edit This 1 Comment »
...selected by random drawing (by my mom, just to be totally fair):

A Hopeful Romantic!

Congrats, girl! You'll be hearing from me via email so I can send you your brand spankin' new copy of Dannah Gresh's amazing book Secret Keeper: The Delicate Power of Modesty. Everyone else, you should totally check out our winner's amazing blog, http://becomingahopefulromantic.blogspot.com. It has encouraged and inspired me many times.

To everyone else, thank you so much for your lovely comments! I much enjoyed reading all about your stylishly modest outfits. But don't go away, because I have another giveaway up my sleeve... it'll be announced at the end of Part 2!

A Secret to Keep - Part 1

8:51 PM Edit This 12 Comments »
(WARNING: Girl talk ahead!) 
So here we are, two years past A Beauty Glorious’ launch. We’ve talked about a lot of different things, from beauty to art to dreams, but there’s one topic I’ve kind of avoided up to this point. Truth is, I’ve been a little scared of it.

It’s a big topic. Some people basically ignore it, and some people get hardcore legalistic about it and start making up crazy rules. Everyone has some sort of experience with it, and thus everyone has an opinion. Whoa! How’s a girl to know how to blog about such a thing? Where do I start?

The topic I’m talking about is modesty.

As soon as I say that word, a ton of reactions probably come to mind. (Something like this picture, maybe?) Do any of these sound familiar?

“It’s just fashion! If guys take it the wrong way, that’s their problem.”
“Come on, my shorts aren’t that short!”
“Times change. People are used to seeing a little more skin than in the old days, so it doesn’t really matter.”

I admit, I’m guilty of throwing out these responses from time to time. I definitely did when I was in high school and craving a little extra attention, from fashion-conscious girls and from skin-conscious guys. But the more I delve into discovering the real purpose and power of modesty, the more I start making different choices about what I wear. And surprisingly enough, I feel way more beautiful and confident that way.

The truth is, modest really is hottest. And I will explain why.

The purpose of modesty is saving the full secrets of your beauty for the man you marry. Think about it. Who would you rather be: the hot chick that every man drools for, like a T-bone steak on display, or the hidden treasure who saves the full secret of her glorious beauty for the one man who is madly in love with her and dares to pursue her?

Think of the movie National Treasure. At one point after yet another mysterious clue, Riley complains, “Why can’t they just say, ‘Go to this place, here’s the treasure, spend it wisely’?” But how valuable would that treasure be if we found it in the first ten minutes of the movie? How breathtaking would the big reveal be if we saw peeks of it throughout the movie? A true treasure must be sought and earned--or else it loses its value.

The power of modesty is in maintaining the mystery. Believe it or not, this makes guys way more interested than if you give them everything right away. Modesty isn’t about pretending you’re not sexy or beautiful. In fact, it’s just the opposite. This is an attitude that says, “I am gloriously beautiful, but I’m not the sample table at Costco. My body and my heart are a package deal, and unless you’ve won my heart and sealed it with a covenant before God, you have no right to expect freebies.” And those freebies can be visual as well as tactile.

When you show too much, what you’re doing is inviting guys to complete the picture. The mind does this automatically. The more skin you show, the easier it is for a guy to automatically imagine what the rest of your skin looks like. And suddenly your “just fashion” takes guys somewhere in their minds that it can be really hard to ignore.

There is an aspect of truth in saying that guys need to be careful how they respond to what you wear, but you have a role to play too. Most Christian guys know they have a battle to fight and really don’t want to stare, but they are male and it’s a whole lot harder than most girls realize. We can help them by quite simply being careful and not unconsciously (or consciously!) inviting them to stare. What seems okay to you might come off entirely differently to them. The Bible calls this not causing each other to stumble. (1 Corinthians 10:32) (Do you see the irony in telling guys “Hands off! Respect me!” while at the same time your outfit is flashing neon signs?)

For a lot of girls, the reason they flaunt their bodies is insecurity, even fear. They crave that attention. Maybe they have gotten used to the attention and are afraid if they covered up a bit more, they would lose all that. Maybe they don’t value themselves enough as people to believe they can be loved for who they are, rather than for what they show.

But you know what? It’s not true. You have so much more to offer to this world than your curves. You have your beautiful smile and the light in your eyes. You have your unique and beautiful personality. You have so much love to share that has nothing to do with what you wear. You are a wonderful person, and the world is better because you are in it.

Embrace this truth. You are gloriously beautiful, and you don’t need to show off to prove it. Challenge the man who's right for you to honorably pursue you by not giving away your secrets ahead of time!

Now that's hot.

In Part II, we’ll look at some practical ways you can protect your secrets and renovate your wardrobe into reflecting the beautifully modest woman of God you are called to be!

GIVEAWAY: Wanna read more about the power of modesty and the beauty you were born with? I have a copy of Secret Keeper: The Delicate Power of Modesty by Dannah Gresh I’m going to give away! This is the book that completely redefined my view of modesty and inspired this blog post. Trust me, it will rock your world. Leave a comment below describing your favorite modest outfit, along with your email address, to be entered to win! One week from today (that will be Sunday, February 13) I’ll post Part II and announce the winner!

If you don't want to post your email on the internet, that's totally okay; you can still enter! Go ahead and post your comment here, then also email me (abeautyglorious@gmail.com) a copy of the comment, just so I know which address goes with which comment. :)

ALSO, to get more entries into the drawing, tell your friends to enter! Have them leave a comment describing their outfit with your name, like this: "My favorite modest outfit is blah blah blah... and YOUR NAME sent me here." Each friend you send to the blog will earn YOU an extra entry into the giveaway!

The Journey 2011 - Dysfunctional Chosen Ones

7:04 PM Edit This 0 Comments »
Hi, guys! Sorry I haven't posted in a while... How are you guys doing on The Journey 2011? Confession: I’ve been a tad behind, so I just pushed into Exodus yesterday. I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about Genesis, though, and I’ve been struck by how dysfunctional these early chosen ones were! Let’s recap, shall we:

Abraham, the father of the Jewish people:
• told people that his hot wife Sarah was his sister so that no one would kill him to get to her. (Genesis 12:11-13)
• doubted God and so got his wife’s servant pregnant. (Genesis 16:1-4)
• played favorites with his kids (although that was kind of God's idea)

Abraham’s son Isaac:
• told people that his hot wife Rebekah was his sister so that no one would kill him to get to her. (Genesis 26:7)
• played favorites with his kids. (Genesis 25:28)

Isaac’s son Jacob:
• manipulated his twin brother Esau out of his inheritance. (Genesis 25:29-34)
• manipulated Isaac into giving him Esau’s blessing, because his mom told him to. (Genesis 27:1-29)
• fell in love with Rachel, and then was tricked into marrying her older sister Leah. (Genesis 29:9-25)
• went ahead and married Rachel too a few years later, and loved her more than Leah. (Genesis 19:26-30)
• manipulated his father-in-law out of the best sheep in the herd. (Genesis 30:25-43)
• ended up having kids by Leah, Rachel, AND both their servants! (Genesis 29:31-30:24)
• played favorites with his kids. (Genesis 37:3)

Of Jacob’s twelve sons:
• Reuben, the oldest, slept with one of his dad’s concubines and thus lost his inheritance. (Genesis 35:22, Genesis 49:3-4)
• Levi and Simeon tricked and then slaughtered all the men of the city because one guy raped their sister. (Genesis 34:1-31)
• The oldest ten sold their brother Joseph into slavery out of jealousy and then told their dad he died in a tragic accident. (Genesis 27:12-28)
• Judah broke a promise to his daughter-in-law and then was tricked into sleeping with her. (Genesis 38:1-26)
• Judah was also the one who suggested the slavery scheme in the first place. (Genesis 37:26-27)

This is one crazy family! And I didn’t even mention all the trouble that Jacob’s brother Esau got into, or all the drama between Rachel and Leah!

And yet this is the family that God chose to base his entire redemptive plan on.

• Abraham was the father of a great nation and was called the friend of God. (Genesis 15:5-7, James 2:23)
• Isaac also received this promise and became the father of a great nation. (Genesis 26:2-5)
• Jacob also received this promise, became the father of a great nation, and had his name changed to Israel. (Genesis 35:9-15)
• Jacob’s twelve sons became the twelve tribes of the nation of Israel.
• Joseph’s being sold into slavery became part of God’s plan to save all of Egypt, plus Joseph’s family, from starvation. (Genesis 45:4-8)
• Levi and Simeon were punished for their vengeful rampage by being scattered throughout the land, but God still chose the tribe of Levi for the honor of priesthood. (Genesis 49:5-7, Deuteronomy 10:8)
• Judah (the guy with the daughter-in-law issues) became the mightiest of all the tribes and in fact was the ancestor of Jesus. (Have you heard Jesus called the Lion of the Tribe of Judah?) (Genesis 49:8-12, Luke 3:33, Revelation 5:5)

It blows my mind that God would use such a messed up family to accomplish his plans. These three, plus Jacob’s twelve sons, became the foundation of God’s chosen people. God proved that he could use even the messiest circumstances to tell the most miraculous story of all time.

If God can have such a huge destiny for such people, in spite of their dysfunctional behavior…might he also have a huge destiny for me?

Cheat sheet - Abraham's family tree

The Journey 2011 - Though He Slay Me

12:21 PM Edit This 5 Comments »
Hello, friends! Welcome to Day 10 of The Journey 2011! How’s it going for everyone?

Every now and then I’m going to pop in with these special blogs just to talk about some of the awesome things that I’m finding in my reading. I’m twittering a lot more often about fave verses, too, so follow me at http://www.twitter.com/abeautyglorious!

In the chronological Bible reading plan (which you can find here: http://www.ewordtoday.com/year/esv/cjan01.htm), we’re reading through the book of Job right now. I don’t think I’ve read Job since high school, and even then I don’t remember paying much attention. It’s not an especially fun book, because of the enormity of Job’s suffering, and also because it can be difficult to understand when the friends are actually speaking truth vs. when they’re just playing blame games, and also when Job’s actually speaking truth vs. when he’s just blowing off hot air. But in between all that, there’s some mind-blowing stuff that really challenges the way we respond to tragedy.

In the first two chapters, Job loses everything he values: his wealth, his children, and even his health. He still has his wife, but she’s no help. (“Curse God and die!” Job 2:9. Gee, thanks for your support…) And yet what’s his first reaction?

“Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshipped. And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away;
blessed be the name of the Lord.”
–Job 1:20-21

Wow.

I notice that he’s not pretending it’s no big deal. The guy is deep in mourning. But somehow, he still keeps his eyes on God. He still recognizes that God deserves his worship, no matter what.

We sing a lot of songs about this. We sing “Blessed Be Your Name” in the “land that is plentiful” and when we’re “found in the desert place.” We sing “Desert Song,” in which my favorite lines are “All of my life, in every season/You are still God/And I have a reason to sing/I have a reason to worship.” But really, when tragedy strikes, how quick are we to take up that banner of praise? Do we really act like we believe that NO MATTER WHAT, God is still God and that in and of itself is reason to worship?

How resilient is our trust?

Just over a year ago, my aunt died very suddenly. It hit our whole family hard, and I by no means got the heaviest of the pain. But still, I found that I had a choice to make. I could either close off, pull back, and try to protect my heart from a God I didn’t understand, or I could press in and choose to love him regardless.

I didn’t write in my journal for several days after it happened. I didn’t know what to say or how to deal. When I finally did open up my journal, this is how it came out:

“I hate having to write this. What do you say when the biggest prayer you ever prayed was denied? When a wife, mother, sister, daughter, aunt breathes her last and enters the glory realms, leaving behind a broken family… I don’t understand. I don’t know what good this will serve. But I do know that she has no regrets. Her soul is satisfied… God, I am still here. The heart of the ocean can’t pull me from you.”

I chose love. And I am proud to say that so did my family.

When things like this happen in our lives, that’s the choice we have to make: worship or bitterness. It’s okay to mourn; it’s even okay to be angry, but if there’s not some worship in there too, you’re putting yourself in a bad place.

After all, when life collapses for you like it did for Job, who do you have left but God?

The verse I wrote in my journal that day was this:

“Because of this, many of Jesus’ followers turned back and would not go with him any more. So he asked the twelve disciples, ‘And you—would you also like to leave?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life.”
--John 6:66-68

Peter chose love. He recognized that sticking with Jesus, even when nothing made sense, was the only thing that did make sense. He had crossed the point of no return; he was so consumed with love that Jesus was his only option. He couldn’t even imagine leaving. David expressed something very similar when he said, “Whom have I in heaven but you?” (Psalm 73:25)

Job chose love. He made the most incredible statement in Job 13:15:

“Though he slay me, I will hope in him.”

This is a verse I absolutely need to memorize. I find it incredible because even though Job didn’t understand and felt absolutely crushed by God, he still chose to place his trust in a God he knew was essentially good.

Good? After all that destruction and despair?

Yes. God is good no matter what, because it’s his very nature. It’s who he is.

Job couldn’t see the bigger plan. He didn’t know that God was going to restore his joy and then some; he didn’t know that Satan was betting against his faithfulness and all of heaven was watching him; he didn’t know that his story would end up in the Bible to encourage people for thousands of years.

But he knew that God was good. Period.

The last line of that journal entry, “The heart of the ocean can’t pull me from you,” is actually a line from a song called Rock of Salvation. (You probably aren’t familiar with it; a guy from my school wrote it and we’ve been singing it in chapel for several years. I’m including a music player below for you to listen to it.) For me, that line is my vow to God that despite the strongest force of opposition, whatever that “heart of the ocean” may be, I will not be moved. Like Peter and Job and David, I have passed the point of no return, and God is my only option.

I choose love.


Rock of Salvation by Paul Stephens


Do you have a favorite verse from your reading? Post it in a comment to share with us!

Delight

8:41 AM Edit This 2 Comments »
I have a confession: sometimes I think I have a pretty good understanding of God’s heart for me. He loves me unconditionally, he calls me his beloved and his favorite one, he wants to use me to change the world, I get all that. Or at least I think I do. Every now and then, though, God reveals a whole new dimension of love to me, and I can’t help but be overwhelmed all over again.

There was a time a few months ago at a youth leadership meeting when the pastor asked us to take a few quiet minutes to imagine in our own minds what God thinks of us. What came into my mind was, “God is delighted in me, but he is eager for me to grow.”

The pastor then asked us to actually ask God what he thinks of us. I didn’t think God’s answer would be much different from mine, but he surprised me. What I believe God told me was, “I am delighted in you, and so I am eager for you to grow.”

I was floored. There’s a huge difference, isn’t there? I had been feeling like God was saying, “I love you, and the way you’re living now is a good start, but not quite what I had in mind. You’re still not quite measuring up.”

But that is so NOT the truth! What God really says to me is more like, “I LOVE YOU! I’m so proud of you, you’re doing great! Keep it up, I can’t wait to take you further!”

I mess up, I do stupid things, and I don’t do what I know I should be doing, but he still smiles when he looks at me. He is still so excited and proud when I keep trying!

I don’t understand this. My tendency is always to imagine that God is up in heaven somewhere shaking his head and saying, “Oh, Caitlyn, Caitlyn, Caitlyn. You sure blew that one,” and then I have to go him like a dog with its tail tucked between its legs to repent so he can stop being disappointed in me.

I’m not trying to say that sin isn’t a big deal; it is. And I’m not trying to say that repentance isn’t serious and important; it is. But my sin never surprises God. It doesn’t shock him, and it doesn’t disappoint him, as if he had his hopes up expecting me to do the right thing and then I let him down. He already knew. The day he wrote my name in his book, he already knew exactly how many sins I was going to commit over the course of my life. He already knew exactly how many sins his blood would cover. He didn’t say, “Ah, Caitlyn looks promising! She could be pretty awesome if she doesn’t screw this up.”

He already knew. And still he chose me just the same.

Because here’s the deal: he sees me through the veil of Jesus’ blood--his holiness. He looks at me and he sees the person he made me to be. That’s what forgiveness is all about. He knows he’s still helping me work through my junk, but since he sees all times at once, he can look at me and see who I will be a thousand years from now, when I am in heaven and not struggling with all this anymore. Isn’t that a crazy thought.

What blows my mind is this: My failing and struggling and trying and falling does not lessen God’s delight in me. Let me say that again:

My struggling does not lessen God’s delight in me!

I thrill his heart! Even when I’m all tangled up with my junk and I’m so frustrated at myself, he still looks at me and calls me beautiful. That’s a miracle, right there.

In fact, it’s the struggle that he loves! He loves it when I don’t just give up and give in to sin but keep wrestling with it, because that struggle proves my love for him. I screw up far too often, and my love might be shaky at times, but God knows that it’s genuine. He gets so excited when I come back again
                                                                                                         and again
                                                                                                         and again
                                                                                                         and again
                                                                                                         and again
                                                                                                         and again because that’s me reaching out for him. It would be so much easier to just write myself off as a failed Christian and just decide to live however I want, rather than trying over and over and over. It’s hard to try over and over and over! And God loves it when I do the hard things for him.

Here’s the kicker: God’s not just putting up with me. Nor is he giving grace just because he’s God and that’s what he does. It’s true, grace is part of God’s nature, but there’s more than that.

He wants me. He actually wants to be with me. Not only does he love me, he really likes me! (Have you ever said about someone, “I may love him, but I don’t have to like him”? Not God.) He is completely infatuated with me. He dances over me. He loves to hang out with me. He wants to hang out with me for all eternity!

I make his heart smile. I make God’s heart smile, just by being me!

And that is a truth that will keep me coming back, again
                                                                                  and again
                                                                                  and again
                                                                                  and again
                                                                                  and again
                                                                                  and again.


These thoughts were pretty directly inspired by some things I’ve been discovering through Misty Edwards, particularly her prophetic song “I Knew What I Was Getting Into.” Below is the video and the transcript.

 

(starting at 1 minute)

Listen, my beloved
Listen, my beloved
Listen, my beloved ones, in whom I am well pleased
Listen, my beloved ones

I knew what I was getting into when I called you
And I am not surprised with you now
I knew what I was getting into you
When I said your name
And still I said it just the same
I know you better that you do
I knew what I was getting into when I chose you
I chose you still
I knew what I was getting into
I know you’re afraid
And I remember that you are but dust
But I know where this is going
I knew what I was getting into when I called you
I don’t regret it
I am not shocked by your struggle
I am not put off by your struggle
I am not disgusted or ashamed of you
No
I knew what I was getting into when I chose you
And I said,
“He is my vessel, he is my chosen one
She’s my vessel, she’s my chosen one
You see, it’s not about you
It’s all about me
I chose you and that’s enough
And I’m gonna bring you forth in love
I’m gonna bring you to the end
I’m gonna bring you to the end in strength
Cause I see strength in you
When all that you can see inside of you is your own weakness
Oh, but I see the end from the beginning
And I know where this is going
And you’ve barely just begun
But you see, you see,
So few will ever fight the good fight
At least you’re fighting
Even when you feel you’re losing
So few will ever enter into the battle
But you refuse to quit
And this is all I ask
This is all I ask
So few will ever look back at me and say,
“I really want to love you!”
But you say it every day, every day
You say, “I really want to love you!”
And you cry
And you say, “I’m so sinful, and I’m so full of compromise!”
And I see your confession and it’s real
And I still believe those vows you make, you break
You make, you break
I still believe in you

I knew what I was getting into when I called you
And I called you just the same
I knew what I was getting into when I beckoned you
And I still beckon you today
I am not surprised by your struggle
No
I am not disgusted by your discovery
You’re the one that is surprised
In your pride you thought that you were better than that

Listen
I see the seeds of righteousness in you
I’ve clothed you with the blood of my Son
And its enough
It’s enough, it’s enough
Why are you trying to get in a room you’re already in?
You’re already in
I am not surprised
I know you better than you know yourself
And you say “yes” and so few do

Who is this, who is this, who is this who’s beautiful as Tirzah
Awesome as Jerusalem
Awesome as an army with banners?
Who is this?
Lovely as Jerusalem
Beautiful as Tirzah
Who is this?
Look away from me
Your eyes, they overwhelm me
Yes, your eyes, your eyes, they overwhelm me
I sympathize with you
I know you’re in a dark night of faith
And yet you still have faith and so few do
You are my favorite one
You're the only one I see
You’re the only one, my favorite one
You’ve ravished me
Dare to believe
I know you’re disappointed with the way your life is coming down
And bitterness is trying to bind you like a plague
But you fought
And you fight
And you press on
And you push
And you long
And you reach
And you mourn
And you hunger
And you thirst
That’s all I ask of you
It’s all I ask of you
It’s all I ask of you
It’s all I ask of you
Do you know the way this moves me?
You’ve ruined me
You’ve ruined me
Nothing can overwhelm me, but you overwhelm me
Your eyes are like doves’ eyes
Your eyes are like doves’ eyes
You think that you waver in your vision
Oh, but you come back again and again and again and again
You didn’t give up, you didn’t give in
You didn’t let shame pull you down
You didn’t just hang up and say, “I can’t do it; it’s too hard.”
You didn’t accuse me of being too hard, no
You said, “I wanna try again.”
You got up again and again and again
You repented again and again and again
It’s all I ask of you
It’s all I ask of you
Just don’t give up
And don’t give in
If you don’t quit
You’ll live

Angels, oh angels, gather round
Angels, oh angels, look and see
Through that dark night of faith she’s still choosing me
Angels, oh angels, oh angels, gather round

As he spins around wildly rejoicing
Rejoicing
As he spins around wildly singing

She said yes
He said yes
She said yes
He said yes
He said yes
Again and again and again and again and again
He chose humility when he was overlooked
He chose humility when he was misunderstood
He chose humility when he was falsely accused
She chose humility when she was disappointed
She said no to bitterness
And when she was so afraid, she got up again
Look, angels, look
Angels, angels, angels, look and see
Oh, the way they move me
Tell them the way they move me
Hephzibah
Beulah
Tell them the way they move me
Hephzibah
Beulah
My delight is in you
I’m married to you

It’s more than just mercy
You’re not a project to make me look good
There’s more than only mercy working here
I don’t just feel sorry for you
I want you
I want you
I want you
I want you
I want you
You’ve ravished me
You’ve ravished my heart
I want you
I want you
I love you
I like you
I delight in you
You’re the object of my affection
You’re the center of my world
You are the apple of my eye
There’s more than just pity
You are the apple of my eye
You’re the center of my world
You’re the only one
You’re the favorite one
Who is this who’s beautiful as Tirzah
Lovely as Jerusalem
Awesome as an army with banners?
Turn your eye away
Your eye has overwhelmed me
Who is this?
Beautiful as Tirzah
Lovely as Jerusalem
Awesome as an army with banners

I see strength in you
You see your weakness
I see strength in you
I know the end from the beginning
I know where this thing is going
You do love me
I know you love me
I know you love me even more than you know you love me
I know you love me
And I was not surprised by you
Oh, no, no, no, no, no
I knew what I was getting into when I called you
And still I called you
I knew what I was getting into when I beckoned you
And still I’m beckoning today
I knew what I was getting into
And I knew this would work in you humility
And humility is of greater value to me than even your perfection right now
Humility is the only way to perfection anyway
I knew what I was getting into when I called you
Still I call you
And I am not shocked by you
I’m not disgusted, no
Quite the opposite
You’ve ravished me
You’ve ravished me
Oh

Will you marry me?
Will you take my name?
And all that’s yours will be mine
And all that’s mine is yours
Will you marry me?
Will you take my name?
And all that’s yours is mine
And all that’s mine is yours
It’s yours

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
--Philippians 1:6 ESV

Declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’
--Isaiah 46:10 ESV

You are beautiful as Tirzah, my love,
lovely as Jerusalem,
awesome as an army with banners.
Turn away your eyes from me,
for they overwhelm me
--Song of Songs 6:4 ESV


You have captivated [ravished] my heart, my sister, my bride; you have captivated my heart with one glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace.
--Song of Songs 4:9 ESV



Behold, you are fair, my love; behold, you are fair; you have doves' eyes.
--Song of Songs 1:15 AKJV



The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.
--Zephaniah 3:17 ESV


Never again will you be called “The Forsaken City” or “The Desolate Land.” Your new name will be “The City of God’s Delight" [Hebrew: Hephzibah] and “The Bride of God," [Hebrew: Beulah] for the LORD delights in you and will claim you as his bride.
--Isaiah 62:4 NLT



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 GNT