How to Be a Godly Woman in a Modern World

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Trying to be a Godly woman in a modern world often feels like running my hand across a barbed wire fence, lots of sharp places waiting to trip me up. So how do we stand firm in our faith?

The world’s ideas of modern femininity surround us. Entertainment, politics, and even education proclaim what it means to be a woman. Trying to avoid the current cultural definition of femininity would be like trying to take a bath without getting wet.

I know I won’t navigate it perfectly, but I want to be a woman after God’s heart most of all.

So how do we combat the onslaught?

Be in the Word Daily.

Imagine a hard, dry sponge dropped into dirty water. The sponge will immediately soak up the filthy water surrounding it.

Now, immerse a dry sponge in clean water until it’s saturated. When the full sponge sits in the dirty water, the filth rests surface deep. It is so filled with pure water, it can’t hold anything else.

We need to be so full of God’s purity that the world has no hold over us.

How to be a Godly Woman in a Modern World - Be so full of purity that the world has no hold. Click To Tweet

When we read God’s word, we become saturated with His purity. We become full of His definitions for who we are, His standards, His love and grace.

We need to be so full of God's purity that the world has no hold over us.

But the longer that clean sponge sits in the greasy sink, the dirtier it gets. Just as the longer we are in the world, the more we absorb its answers for who we are supposed to be. We need to be continually refilling ourselves from the Bible.

Proverbs 1:7 tell us the beginning of knowledge is a fear of the Lord. We recognize God’s righteousness through staying in His word.

God is perfectly holy in a way that I will never achieve, but by reading my Bible everyday, I see the joy of the journey is in those moments I willfully choose His righteousness over the world.

A Godly woman uses God’s standards for beauty.

I was teased mercilessly in elementary school. “Horse face” “Ugly” “Fish Face” were names I heard more often than my own. That broken sense of identity led me to seek physical beauty and polished perfection above all else for most of my life.

What I couldn’t see was how beautiful I already was in all the ways that really mattered. I was kind, creative, funny with a heart for others and a love for Christ.

1 Peter 3:4 ESV  “But let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”

When I consider the emotional energy I’ve wasted pursuing an idealized airbrushed version of beauty, I feel a bit broken. I’ve beaten myself up so needlessly over the numbers on a scale or a smile that isn’t tissue test white.

Trying to be a Godly woman in a modern world often feels like running my hand across a barbed wire fence, lots of sharp places waiting to trip me up.

Wonderfully, God promises us the imperishable beauty of a quiet and gentle spirit precious in His sight.

A Godly woman chooses the imperishable beauty of a quiet, gentle spirit precious in His sight. Click To Tweet

While I won’t claim to have conquered it, God has me on a journey right now of learning my true beauty is in the gentleness of my spirit, not my physical body. When I am gentle and loving, I am more beautiful no matter my waist size or hair style, even without make-up.

We choose Godly role models and friends.

It’s human nature to imitate what we see. Watch two people having a conversation, they’ll imitate posture, facial expressions, and tone. It’s called mirroring, and we do it subconsciously.

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If we’re going to imitate the people in our lives, choosing good ones is really important. So much so, that God put directions for mentorship in the Bible.

Titus 2:3-4 ESV  Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children.

We need to look for reverent women. We cannot expect perfection, but women truly pursuing holiness bear fruit in their lives.

I look to my mentor for guidance. She handles challenges with patience and grace. I see how God blesses and works in her family and her marriage. I imagine her voice when facing difficult moments. Her influence has made me a better wife, mother, woman. I have drawn closer to God under her guidance.

Being surrounded by women that are pursuing holiness affirms our faith and encourages us in fellowship. We need to share this journey.

We need Godly women to join us on our journey.

Standing alone against the tide of sin is hard. We need the strength and examples of Godly women to be able to face life’s challenges.

Being saturated in the Word, defining ourselves by God’s standards, and surrounding ourselves with Godly women are three ways to stand strong in our faith despite a culture that often runs opposite to whom God has called us to be.

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The Bizarre thing I’m giving up for lent that will make me a better mom

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Growing up, Lent was something only the Catholics I knew celebrated. I didn’t know any Protestants celebrating it until recently. I thought it strange, until I understood Lent’s purpose for believers.

Lent is a season of repentance, fasting or sacrifice, and reflection that precedes Easter. Lent honors Jesus’s season of preparation, fasting, and temptation in the wilderness before he began his public ministry which would eventually lead to His crucifixion.

The closer I’ve drawn to God, the more I realize Christ has called all His children to live sacrificially, no matter our denomination. It’s not about church tradition. Lent is about preparing our hearts to accept Christ’s sacrifice at Easter.

Mark 8:34 ESV  “And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
A lot of Christians focus on the taking up of a cross (bearing a difficult burden) but skim right over denying ourselves. And I really want to understand what it means for me to deny myself this year in a way that honors whom God has called me to be.

In recent years, I’ve given something up quietly, not wanting my sacrifice to be for the eyes of men, but between God and I alone. We sometimes need accountability partners to support us in a season of growth, but I sometimes worry about putting my deeds before men in order to be praised by them.

Growing up, only Catholics celebrated Lent, but I've grown to embrace the Lenten season. This year I'm giving up something bizarre to draw nearer to Christ.

It’s hard to find a healthy balance of keeping things private so that my honor and glory is God’s, not my own, but also being transparent so that I might be a witness. I’m choosing to share what I’m giving up this year because it’s kind of ugly, and I know my brokenness keeps me real and transparent and lets God’s power shine.

This year, when I couldn’t think of something to give up, as I’m already sitting on the couch 24/7 in my health crisis, I asked God what he wanted me to give up, feeling that I as I write and share I need to hold myself to a higher standard daily.

1 Corinthians 9:27 ESV  But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

I prayed, “Lord, what can I give up that will be most pleasing to you, what will draw me closest to you and make this a season of deep reflection?”

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Yelling – immediately sprang to mind. And I sadly reflected on how much I’ve fallen back on yelling recently, how angry and hurt the voices in our home sound when we yell.

So this year, I’m giving up yelling for Lent.

This may seem like a bizarre fast. I mean, shouldn’t we strive to give up yelling anyway? Of course, we should, but stay with me . . .

This might seem like a bizarre way to fast for Lent, but what better way to sacrifice. Click To Tweet

Yelling at my daughter is something I’ve worked really hard to eliminate, but being in pain since December, I’ve allowed myself to have a shorter fuse, using my physical discomfort and emotional stress to justify my reactions.

In His Lenten season, Christ learned that suffering and persecution would be his cup to drink, that He would ultimately allow terrible accusations to be hurled at Him while he sat silently . . . silently.

How is giving up YELLING for Lent a sacrifice?

First, I am giving up my selfish right to be upset. I am giving up the earthly perspective that I get to behave angrily because my child has disobeyed or refused to listen. If Christ could be accused, slapped, spat on, whipped, tortured, crucified for me, I can learn gentleness.

Yelling is quick. I get her attention immediately, and I get the instant gratification of indulging my selfish frustrations. Choosing not to yell asks me to give undeserved grace at the moment it’s most difficult.

And it’s going to be hard!

This morning, I had barely started homeschool when my daughter started getting off task. Adorable only goes so far. I was explaining the directions again, and she was deliberately not listening, talking about her dream and her pencil and her new magic trick and . . .

. . .stop talking so I can explain. She didn’t even pause. Honey, I’m trying to get your attention. She rattles on, and I yelled, “STOP!” She froze, her eyes turned to saucers and her mouth stopped moving (momentarily).

Quickly, I clamped my hand over my mouth. I barely made it two hours.

Thankfully, forgiveness and grace redeem our failed attempts at sanctification. I quickly apologized and softened my tone.

But I realized that getting her attention, helping her focus, and disciplining misbehavior are all going to take a lot more effort.

Yelling is easy, but destructive.

Refusing to yell will mean intentionally using close physical proximity and a firm voice. Additionally, I’ll have to follow through on real consequences when she disobeys.

Punishing my daughter often gives me such a heart for God. Imagine how His heart must break when we need discipline. When I have to follow through with consequences, her tears disappointment break my heart every time. Disciplining His sinful children must grieve our Lord so deeply, but I know He disciplines those he loves.

The purpose of Lent is to help us understand Christ’s sacrifice, take some small part in His struggle.

While giving up yelling is something I strive to do anyway, making my house a zero yelling zone for the next 40+ days will be a tremendous way for me to understand Christ’s gentleness and grace.

Because I will be striving to be a daily demonstration of undeserved favor, the quiet spirit God has been growing in me.

I could give up coffee and chocolate or pizza, but while those might be beneficial for my waist line, learning to deny my sinful nature will be more meaningful this year. It will build relationships, improve the atmosphere in our home, and be a witness to my family.

Follow me on Facebook to hear how it’s going.

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A Rape Victim’s Problem with Fifty Shades and the like

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The Fifty Shades series is just the newest, shiniest example of racy romance novels turned into movies. As a Christian, I shouldn’t have to say anything to other Christians about not to reading or watching them, but as a rape victim and a mother, I felt I needed to.

A lot of wonderful pastors have written tremendous articles about the dangers of Christians watching movies like Fifty Shades of Grey and Fifty Shades Darker.

I can’t add much to such an excellent Christian commentary. I can only offer the purity standard I try to maintain for our home.

Philippians 4:8 ESV / Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Probably not achievable this side of heaven, but I have never regretted ‘breaking up’ with favorite shows that didn’t meet Christ’s standard.

So why read the rest of this post if I’m not adding to the “Christian” commentary on the film?

Because I can add my personal perspective on Fifty Shades as a date rape victim.

Movies like this that twist sex and violence aren’t harmless entertainment. They shape our views of sexuality. And affect the attitudes and behaviors of their viewers.

The Fifty Shades series is just the newest, shiniest example of racy romance novels turned into movies. As a Christian woman, I shouldn't have to say anything about not to reading or watching them, but as a rape victim and a mother, I felt I need to.

Read my perspective on Fifty Shades as a date rape victim. NO starts with what we watch. Click To Tweet

Films like these depict intense, sexually-charged content, which pushes viewers to seek more exciting, more forbidden sexual content.

And often viewers act on these fantasies, which is destroying healthy views on sex and sexuality.

Fight the New Drug  discusses studies that looked at the effect of graphic sexual media on teens, concluding people expect what they see of sexual relationships, for better or worse.

Movies like Fifty Shades show a man manipulating a woman into believing she will be sexually gratified through dominance and violence, and makes it seem romantic and fulfilling.

Violent sex isn’t romantic.

As a survivor of date rape, I find it tremendously troubling women have made this series successful. We are financing the spread of the pervasive media lie that women want to be forced into submissive sexual roles defined by pain and violence.

We are contributing to a rape culture because we learn to accept this twisted view of sexuality as normal in the name of embracing our sexuality.

Violence, pain, & force aren't healthy parts of sexual relationships. Say No to 50 Shades. Click To Tweet

My generation was the first with VCRs and access to porn right in their homes. Many boys I knew watched it and expected girls to match their movies, including believing that saying no was a game of “persuade me.”

I was a thing to be used, not respected or valued.

Many studies show ANY pornographic content affects the way we think about human sexuality. Even after viewing non-violent graphic sex, men were more likely to view women as less equal and believe NO only when accompanied by a slap.

This climate created the date rape culture that made me a victim.

Rape left a jagged wound in my life that will never completely go away. God has healed much of my hurt and used my experiences to help others, but I cannot ever completely erase the impact from my mind.

Sexually graphic media perpetuates a culture in which women are objectified not valued. Click To Tweet

Most days I walk around completely forgetting it ever happened. However, in a flash, rape raises its ugly head in the middle of a conversation, a usually tame television show, or a movie scene I didn’t anticipate.

While I don’t blame myself, I can tell you that my rapists’ sexual sin is like a poisonous weed that I can never completely eradicate. My rapist perpetrated violence against me on the inside, affecting more than just my physical body.

Rape is a crime against more than the body.

I can’t tell you how destructive it is to the true, God-honoring intimacy of marriage to have these mental and emotional flashbacks of my victimization.

Thankfully, through Christ and inside a loving marriage, the impact weakens. Yet, even when everything is perfect and good, I have found myself weeping because the shame and pain from my past poisoned what God has given us for joy.

So what does this have to do with Fifty Shades?

I have forgiven my rapist inside myself and in prayer, but never had personal closure. I don’t know what created the violent, sexual person he was so young. But I never want to support an industry or media that creates the widespread acceptance of sexual sin.

1 Corinthians 6:18 ESV / Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.

Love and sex are already confusing in our sexualized culture. Kids are exposed to images of sexuality in hamburger commercials. Raising our children to be disciples of Christ in a society that ambushes their purity is hard enough.

Loving and satisfying sex within marriage is the true ideal.

Proverbs 5:18-19 ESV / Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love.

We need to create a culture for our children that honors appropriate sexuality for ourselves and our children.

Hebrews 13:4 ESV / Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.

So, I would ask you to learn about the very real links between watching (or reading) content like Fifty Shades and violence. I would ask you to consider changing the channel during the commercials for the film or writing to letters to the networks that air them.

We need to do more than not watch them, we need to change the culture for our children.

My daughter deserves a marriage with beautiful intimacy fueled by real passion for each other. I don’t want her to experience the pale reflection our sinful culture tries to appropriate.

That starts with us refusing to financially support ANY media that portrays graphic sex.

And that starts with you today.

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What 2016 taught me

What did you learn in 2016? I learned a lot. But I can’t begin to measure what 2016 taught me.

It wasn’t my best year in concrete ways. I lost count of the challenges and financial setbacks somewhere around June.

Only to find higher and higher hills each month, culminating in complete physical and technological breakdowns that have left me physically wounded and without my computer to write and at least virtually step outside this broken body.

God is forcing me to BE STILL so completely right now. I’ve been trying to revel in the stillness despite its frustrations, and listen in it.

I have made no attempt to blog until I couldn’t let go of God’s sweet presence with me this morning. I am slowly and painfully typing this on my phone. But I wanted to write this down at least for myself.

I had times this year that I was so sad, I struggled to breathe in my despair. I felt hurt and inadequate, alone.

But what I learned there was what made me realize in the end, 2016 was exceptional in ways that defy measuring.

I drew closer and closer to God, pressing in, crying out for guidance and solace. I wept, arms outstretched to heaven, praying, groaning. Mostly seeking His answers and peace.

And I learned the greater blessing in that.
The blessing isn't a storm free life, but God's peace and presence in the storms. Click To Tweet

This morning, I was reading in Isaiah, chapter 65 God’s promises for His people and I ached with hope.

“I will rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in my people; no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping and the cry of distress.

No more shall there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not fill out his days, for the young man shall die a hundred years old, and the sinner a hundred years old shall be accursed.

They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.

They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be, and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands.

They shall not labor in vain or bear children for calamity, for they shall be the offspring of the blessed of the Lord, and their descendants with them. Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭65:19-24‬ ‭ESV‬‬

After spending this year immersed in such a tremendously broken world, oh! how I long for this day of God’s promises: long lives and children who always grow up and personal health and prosperity.

If 2016 taught me anything, it is that without God, all we have are the storms of this life without any hope or joy or peace.

What did you learn in 2016? It was a challenging year, but I learned the blessing isn't a storm free life, but God's peace and presence in the storms.
With God, we still have storms. Sometimes, they are even more challenging with being rejected by the world and attacked by Satan.

But we have PEACE.

A peace that makes no sense outside of Christ, but is so real and so profound that I know as hard as this year has been, for all the losses financially and emotionally and physically, I’ve been blessed spiritually beyond measure.

I’ve grown in how I process my hurts and fears. I’ve grown in how I respond more than react.

Each storm prepared me for the next. While I would have rather not had the challenges, I would not trade the reliance on Christ I’ve gained.

Each type of season passes. Both busy and slow, joyful and difficult seasons eventually give way.

Every season passes - both joyful and difficult seasons give way, only God is eternal. Click To Tweet

I wouldn’t mind a season of fewer struggles, yet I know I’m heading into 2017 facing some difficulties that may not make for an easier year.

But when I gave up my life to follow Christ, I gained back a life that is blessed beyond measure in ways that cannot be counted.

I am still human and struggle against grief and fear, but through overcoming this year, I have an underlying current of trust and hope that the end of Isaiah speaks to so beautifully.

He writes a stunning dichotomy of God’s wrath and punishment juxtaposed against prophecies of Christ’s redemption of His people and glorious eternity in Heaven.

Joy and pain balanced with hope and promise, which is a pretty good way to end 2016. Happy New Year!

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How you can give better this Giving Tuesday

Today is Giving Tuesday. Giving Tuesday follows Black Friday, Shop Small Saturday, and is an opportunity to focus on the real meaning of the holiday season, the greatest gift of Christ and His love which frees and transforms us.

Honestly, in my opinion, Giving Tuesday should precede Thanksgiving. Maybe we would all be less focused on the commercialized shopping if we started our season with giving. And, it is a good reminder that we are to honor God by giving of our firstfruits, not what’s leftover.

Proverbs 3:9-10 ESV  Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.

Giving has always been something important to me. When I was five, I got passionate about supporting the missionaries at my church. I went home, dumped out my checker cup, and went door to door for donations without telling anyone.

I’m lucky my parents didn’t kill me! I can’t imagine my six year-old being missing for two hours. But I did collect some money for a good cause. 

That intense heart for causes and passion for people never changed.

Giving should be something we do all year round not just at Christmas, not just on giving Tuesday, but today’s a great day to focus on why we give back and starting the season with the right heart and the right attitude.

Giving should be part of how we live all year round, not just on #GivingTuesday Click To Tweet

Number One

Give where you are passionate.

The world has millions of different causes. Even important work would get overlooked without people like us finding the ones that matter to us.

God gave each of us diverse interests and put us in specific places for a reason.

Find something that speaks to you and give there.

For example, I have several causes near and dear to my heart, but SavingEliza.com is extra special. A friend of a friend has a daughter who has Sanfilippo Syndrome, a tragic childhood Alzheimer’s, a disease orphaned by modern medical funding.

But the people who love and care about the children affected with Sanfilippo syndrome knew science had a potential treatment that just needed funding to get it through the final FDA stages.

With a handful of hope, several families with children suffering with Sanfilippo made an incredible push to get it done. They raised millions through people like me and you who care about giving. And children are starting to get treated!

Every year for her birthday which is right before Thanksgiving time, I make a donation and often a few times during the year because so many children are still waiting for their chance to get this potentially disease halting treatment.

Secondly, give locally or personally.

Giving to someone in need near you is a powerful way to be a light in a dark world. Just this week, I had a chance to give to someone during a deeply difficult family loss. Sometimes, we don’t know what to say and other than prayers, we feel helpless. Donating to a fundraiser is one way to say I’m walking with you.

Or take the time to give personally, mail a check, slide a grocery gift card under their door. Make a difference for the people in your life.

Today is Giving Tuesday. Giving Tuesday follows Black Friday, Shop Small Saturday, and is an opportunity to focus on the real meaning of the holiday season.

Third, gifts don’t have to be financial.

Volunteer. Offer to cook food for an event. Babysit the neighbors’ kids so they can have a night out.

Give of your time, your talents, your treasures. Look for ways to help people. I find that if I slow down, I realize how much need I can be missing by just being too busy. Sometimes people just need our attention.

Also, pray about need. God will sometimes bring someone to your mind. This summer, He did just that for me and I felt like I was supposed to mail her a check. It was kind of strange, but even as I was writing it, I made it out for more than I initially thought.

It wasn’t much, but I was blown away when she called and said there had been a problem with her husband’s paycheck through finance. Our small gift was enough to make some ends meet.

I love seeing how God is uses us when we take the time to get quiet and listen to His prompting.

Lastly, research your charities. Lots of great causes are represented by non-profits that pay millions in salaries for CEOs or even celebrity endorsements, and sites like Charity Navigator are great ways to see how much of your donation goes where it should.

My personal rule of thumb is 90% or more should go to doing what I intend it for.

I don’t have much compared to some, but so much compared to so many, and I want to make a difference for Christ.

#GivingTuesday is one opportunity to show others the light of Christ that shines in us. Click To Tweet

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