Tuesday, October 25, 2011

God's Girls: Graceful not Garish

Oh, ladies; I'm not sure where to start with this message. So, I'll start with what triggered the writing of this entry.

I logged onto my email and was surprised (and a bit perplexed) by the lead in to a story ... Too sexy for the pumpkin patch. That's right. A story about a couple who was kicked out of the pumpkin patch for getting overly frisky amongst the future Jack-o-Lanterns, and  amongst the crowd of kids and parents, who turned out expecting some clean fall fun, not a full blown strip tease fiasco. If you're curious, I'll provide a link at the end of this story. You'll want to open it without children present.

Although, like me, you may have already caught wind (or an eyeful) of the trashy escapade. If not, let me provide a brief summary with my own commentary.

I know. I  might sound a little rude. But truthfully, the whole thing breaks my heart.

A sixteen (now 17?) year old girl and her 51 year old husband are frolicking and photographing their obviously pre-planned attention-getting outing. Being an inquisitive reader, I did more than glance at the photos, I read the torrid tale, and learned that this oddly matched couple, with the approval of the girl's mother, married and are trying to peddle their pornographic behavior as another reality TV show. Yes, another one.

Mom spouts off at the negative comments they're receiving by saying that all the women are simply jealous of her daughter's beauty. Granted, she's a pretty girl. Catch that? A girl. A kid. A teen. A teenager with a ton of make up and very little clothing publicly preening and posing and making out with her much (much, much, much) older husband.

What makes this so maddening and saddening is the fact that this gal is promoting herself as the "All American" good girl. Her mother made sure to state, for the record, that her daughter is a good Christian girl who remained a virgin until her wedding night. In addition, this girl Tweets/Twitters, to 47,000 plus followers, about very sexually charged topics along with Bible quotes ... all in the same tweets.

Call me a prissy prude, but I'm just not comfortable with a this girl publicly proclaiming Christ and then using her sexuality in such a blatant and garish way. How can this possibly line up with God's Word? It can't.

Remember 1 Peter 3: 3-4 says:

Don't be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.

Another scripture talks about how ultimately outward beauty will fail. We will all age and change. Our lasting beauty comes from within.

This sad spectacle is wrong on so many levels. I don't think anyone in their right mind wants to see their daughter parading around in what this girl is parading around in, not to mention, having her pictures splashed across every web browser and tabloid paper in the nation. I believe the adults in her life are using this girl's hunger for fame and fortune to fuel their own misguided agendas. And then to slap a label on the whole thing and say its all okay because she's a "Christian."

Deep breath. (I'm saying that to me, but you can join me if you like)

What should we do about stuff like this?

As Princess Warriors, let us remember our roles. We are to be godly and graceful (grace-filled too) not gaudy and garish. And we have a lot of work to do in order to combat what young girls and women see in the media and in the halls of their schools everyday. We may see the destruction in this pumpkin-patch-girl's life, but others, who don't know better, see a possible path to success, and sadly, a way to achieve attention, adoration, and opportunity.

It's up to us, Princess Warriors, to show others just how exciting, fulfilling, and, most importantly, a life-saving a relationship with Christ can be. So, when you have to head the pumpkin patch, or any other event this fall, leave your daisy dukes and go-go boots behind (maybe it's time to toss them?) and put on God's goodness and grace instead.

And consider some simple steps for representing Christ:

1. Smile
2. Be friendly
3. Pray (if you see a bikini clad woman in the pumpkin patch, pray for her)
4. Dress appropriately (no, not like a fuddy-duddy, but with your Princess Warrior role in mind)
5. Have judgement free conversations with the younger women/girls in your life. Ask age-appropriate questions about their views of success, and if appropriate, their thoughts on our sex-saturated society. Listen. Ask open-ended questions that don't require a yes or no answer. And listen some more. 
6. Consider mentoring a teen or younger woman. Share your experiences and values. Most importantly, just be there and share your time and love.  
7. Always be prepared to answer questions about your faith. Many people see others  (like our pumpkin girl) publicly proclaiming their Christianity but actually living for the enemy. Know in advance how you'll handle these types of conversations with grace and goodwill.

Let us be the lights in the darkness (and in the pumpkin patch too). Keep reigning real!

CAUTION NOT FOR YOUNG EYES/link to story and photos: http://www.thesuperficial.com/courtney-stodden-pumpkin-patch-kicked-out-10-2011/courtney-stodden-pumpkin-patch-1024-12

Friday, September 30, 2011

Got a gift? Great! Give it away for the glory of God ...

Each one should use whatever gift he (she) has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms.
1 Peter 4:10

As a child, I looked forward to my birthday for weeks preceding the actual big day. I would spend countless hours imagining what type of gift I might receive from my parents. They always knew exactly what gift would best suit me. I didn't always get everything I wanted, but  inevitably, what I did receive was something I liked. I don't ever recall tearing through the wrapping paper and opening the box only to exclaim: "How could you! Give me another gift!" I knew that I could trust that whatever my parents had for me was a good gift.

Granted, we don't always receive the presents we dream about. I've heard enough re-gifting stories to know that some things belong better with another person. However, when it comes to the gift or gifts God gives, we can trust He got it right the first time. He knows us better than any parent, spouse, child, or best friend. We'd be wise to prayerfully accept whatever special treasure He's bequeathed us.

Too often, like immature children, we compare our gifts, wishing we had been give the gift of hospitality instead of the gift of prophecy, or this gift rather than that one. Instead of analyzing our gifts, we'd be better off learning how to best use them to serve others. After all, whatever God has given us is meant to be shared, not hidden away.

Children are encouraged to share their gifts. As a parent, I battled against my children's desires to keep their gifts all to themselves. I understood that in the end sharing would have a better result. The same is true with the spiritual gifts God so generously and perfectly provides us. Let us make the absolute best of whatever we've been given and start spreading God's grace-filled gifts around.

Princess Warrior action item: How can I use my gift/s to serve someone in a practical way today?

Princess Prayer: Lord, thank You for the gifts You have given me. May I use them in a way that best serves You and others.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED FOR ALL PRINCESS WARRIORS: A special journal/prayer journal to record your daily thoughts and prayers, and to answer questions like the one listed above titled "action item." You'll note that today's main picture showcases a journal and pen. Your journal can be as fancy/frilly or as plain/practical as you'd like. It's your special book to record your deepest dreams, desires, and even your darkest days. Pour your heart out to God. He will love you and forgive you while providing the strength and courage needed to resist the evil one  

If you enjoy devotional books as part of your devotion times, consider this wonderful book: Better Together. I am thrilled to share that I am one of the books contributing authors. This latest post comes from one of the devotional messages I penned.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Don't forget The Armor

Ladies, I think this picture and prayer are the perfect reminders of how we as Princess Warriors for Christ need to dress for danger and prepare with prayer before waltzing out into the world, unaware of the devil's diabolical plans to derail us from doing what's right. 

When I speak at retreats, I always take the opportunity to present a drama that describes, in detail, what a woman's day "looks like" without the armor in place, and then follow it up with a depiction of how we can live victoriously by keeping our armor on and intact. Illustrations like this serve as solid reminders that we are indeed at war, but, thankfully, our Commander provides the perfect arsenal of weapons. It's up to us to use them.

We wouldn't traipse into an earthly war zone without protection, yet many of us charge out our doors with no spiritual protection, and then wonder what happened to our good intentions. We question how we managed to drift so far from our desires and dreams for the day.

It doesn't have to be this way. We can take the time get "prayed up" and "dressed up" for our day. In the end, we will be glad we did!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Mystical Monday ... say what?

Greetings Princess Warriors! I have made a commitment to BLOG for GOD on a regular basis. For a long, long time I struggled with my faith and staying positive in the midst of darkness. If you're up-to-date on my writings, you know that life had thrown me a fair share of curve balls. Thankfully, with Christ as my King, I was ultimately able to celebrate victory.

You're probably wondering about my title: Mystical Monday. I'll get right to my explanation.

On a local radio station that I occasionally tune in to, I discovered something rather disturbing. Every Monday evening they have a talk show format, and focus on the supernatural and the mystical. They interview witches, mediums, folks that practice what we as Christians know are dark arts. What's so scary is these women (I haven't heard a man interviewed) cheerfully share about their lives and spiritual practices. They promote their practices as the answers to happiness and excitement. The host giggles right along with them, while listeners call in and ask questions. It seems so innocent (and intriguing) to the average person. The topics are fascinating and the format easily lures the listeners in.

I realize that to unbelievers we are often considered radical wackos, yet somehow, someway, all these other bizarre beliefs are embraced and discussed openly on popular public radio programming. The guests are given respect and are even honored as they peddle their brand of spirituality. I've yet to hear of a Christian guest participating on this program. I find that more than a little frustrating, although not surprising.

We have exciting supernatural stories to share with the world; stories that can change lives for the better. We serve a God that can raise the dead. He can renew our minds and restore our hearts. He can turn ashes to beauty and water to wine. That's good stuff! That's true stuff! The real deal. Yep, we serve the only real God. The Creator of Heaven and of Earth.

Sadly, though, the truth is shunned and the enemy's lies are touted as the truth. Sin isn't something to giggle about, nor is it something to embrace. But every Monday, in a welcoming way, a certain radio station promotes the Highway to Hell as the Path to Paradise. Maybe not intentionally, but unfortunately it's happening.

What can we as Princess Warriors for Christ do to combat programing like this?

1. We pray. Pray for God's truth to reign. Pray for the radio/TV hosts/writers to experience a spiritual awakening. Pray they come to know Christ as their Lord, Savior, and King.
2. Be prepared to answer tough questions without becoming defensive or combative. Too often we find ourselves defending our faith with anger. It's frustrating to see how easily folks buy the lie yet refuse to research what's real. Rather than letting our emotions gain control, consider in advance what you might say when conversations about supernatural and mystical matters arise. Hollering about Hell isn't going to get the results we hope for. We can stand on the truth with love. People are searching for answers. Let's have some to share.
3. Take action.  Contact the source directly and voice your opinion. Contact your friends and have them contact the source that is spreading these messages that masquerade as truth. If enough people stand up, the powers-that-be can't help but notice. Again, we do this with love. We can be firm and deliberate without being dreadful.

A number of years ago, there was this TV show that I loved. It was an evening drama about the world following a nuclear attack. They discontinued the series after only 12 episodes, leaving numerous questions unanswered. Thousands of fans called, emailed, wrote letters, and sent peanuts (long story) to the network. Finally, the network relented and aired another partial season to wind things up. In our case, we're asking for someone to turn the programing off! Same idea though, right?

Or ... we could take another path and instead request that they include the Christian point of view on their programing. Why is every so-called path explored, but Christianity ignored? Hum ... just a thought.

Ladies, I'm sad to say that too often I simply ignore situations like the one I'm visiting in this post. I find myself thinking: "There's nothing I can do about this. Why bother? Blah. Blah. Blah." I give up without a fight.

I know I'm not the only one. Can you imagine if every warrior for Christ stepped up and stood up for the truth? We could make significant differences in the world around us. 

So, what are we waiting for? At the very least we can do what is always best; we can pray. 

My commitment ... to pray for this radio show, the station, and the people involved. I will ask for their eyes to be opened to the truth. I will also email this radio host and suggest (strongly) that they consider featuring a Christian. They are very interested in so-called supernatural power. Well, I know where to find that power! Amen!

My challenge to you, sisters, is simply to pray. Pray for God to infiltrate the airwaves. Pray for ways to make the truth known in the media. Pray for creative opportunities to share the truth of our salvation. Pray. 

That's all for now. Until next time! Keep reigning real, one step and a prayer at a time.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Our Best Weapon: LOVE

In a world filled with hostility and hatred, it can be difficult to love. Especially those folks who are hostile and hateful! But we, of course, as Princess Warriors for Christ, are called (actually, commanded) to love.

When I speak at retreats, I often share an amazing story about God's grace and love. I'd like to share this story with you, precious reader.

Click below to read (WARNING:You may want to grab a tissue!)


Remember to reign real by loving boldly.

Monday, June 20, 2011

When All Else Fails

One time I wrote an article for Campus Crusade for Christ's online Christian Women Today's Magazine. It was titled, if I remember correctly: What we think = What we do (Can it be true?)

God's Word clearly instructs us to take our thoughts captive, making them obedient to Christ.

I used to feel pretty confident in my ability to do this. I was quick to share the amazing results I was experiencing by simply filling my mind with God's Word, allowing His truths to combat the many lies I'd embraced over those "before Christ" years. As Princess Warriors it is critical to our well being that we keep our thoughts on our King. For if we allow our thoughts to wander, we can end up straying in both word and deed.

I should know.

I've experienced what feels like an endless barrage of difficult situations in my life over the past year. Health issues, financial challenges, family problems, major changes at work, a big move and downsizing, and the list goes on. I am well aware that I'm not the only one facing tough times, but I had, for years, prided myself on my ability to rise above and face my future with my sword drawn and shield in place. I'd managed to keep my helmet of salvation secured, my feet shod in the Gospel of Peace, and the belt of truth buckled around my expanding waistline. We'll talk about that expanding waistline in a minute. 

Anyway, as more new hardships were hurled my direction, I began to struggle. My Shield of Faith grew incredibly heavy. Lifting the Sword of the Spirit seemed like too much of an effort. In fact, many days went by when I didn't bother putting on the armor at all. I listened to the raging voices of negativity filling my head, even agreeing outloud with the life-crushing words. "This is too hard." "I can't handle this." "It's never going to get better." "Life's too much." "How could I be so stupid?" "What's wrong with me anyway?" Fighting started to seem fruitless, and I've been feeling more like a failure than a leader.

I'm sad (embarrassed even) to say that this Princess Warrior has become weary of fighting. I've been trying to fight alone, something I know doesn't work. It's time for me to come clean and say that I've been depressed. My mom was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease and I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I have been eating, reading, and playing computer search and find games to numb my feelings. I'm here to remind myself, and maybe you too, that anything short of God Himself, doesn't work. Nothing fills our aching hearts but Him. And sometimes, life is hard and we are going to feel down in the dumps. But the truth remains, no matter how discouraged, disgusted, or discarded we feel, our King still loves us. And when all else fails, His arms are open.

Maybe you too have used mind-numbing techniques to cover your pain. Perhaps you've eaten far more than your body needs in an attempt to stuff the fear and frustration down ... or played too many computer games, or spent hours on Facebook rather than spending time in God's presence.

It's hard to admit when you've been putting everything but God first. Sure, we can mutter the right words at the right times, but are we really believing them? Living them?

I believe I am not the only one feeling weighed down by life right now, discouraged by negative thoughts and emotions. But no matter what lies the enemy tries to isolate us with, we are not alone. God is still with us. He is still waiting. He is still loving. He is still on His Throne.

If you've isolated yourself, maybe it's time for you to run into your Heavenly Father's arms, make a phone call to a friend, go forward to the alter at church ... for certain it is time for us to take action, the type of action we know comes from God. Anything else will  eventually fail. Only God can lift the weight from our shoulders and remove the hardness from our hearts.

Sharing that I've been struggling is never fun. But in order to be victorious warriors we have to be honest, open, transparent, and willing to admit we need help. After all, we're in an army. We're not fighting alone. Let us lift those fallen fighters to their feet rather than judging how they landed on the ground.

And let us remember: When all else fails, God's forgiveness frees us to fly on the current of His love once more.

I'm ready to fly again. Are you?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter: New Beginnings in Christ!

He is Risen! Christ has defeated sin and death, giving us a brand new lease on life. What a great time to plan, prepare, and pray for new beginnings. Is it time for you, precious Princess Warrior, to take that next step up? A step up and out in faith, walking boldly in your calling ...

Personally, I find Spring a perfect time to consider new beginnings. An article, I orginally wrote for the New Year, fits perfectly now as we celebrate the new beginnings Christ provides for us every day. Let's celebrate the fact that he left His grave clothes behind and embraced life eternal for us.

Simply click on the following link to connect to my article on new beginnings: http://powertochange.com/experience/spiritual-growth/newbeginnings/