Friday, March 6, 2015

This Girl Writes

Wow! *waves hand in front of face*  It's really dusty in here! *Cough* *Cough* Phew!  I'm still alive, I just decided to pop back in to say that I have moved, and am now blogging elsewhere.  I really enjoyed this little space on the internet, but I am now writing about books and writing and all that glorious stuff at This Girl Writes.  You can follow me there if you like, as I post about three or so times a week.  I feel like I've finally found my niche in the blogging world, and I still write about some of the things I wrote about here.  I would love to see you there!  Thanks so much for reading!  xo, Ella

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Guy/Girl Friendships (Pt. 1) – Desire, Downfall, & Duty

Hello again!  Today I am super excited to begin my series on guy/girl relationships with part 1.  I'm calling this series Guy/Girl Friendships because I will be focusing on friendships between guys and girls and not only how they're possible, but how they're our duty.  I'm dividing this series up into 4 posts tentatively; I'm not sure I'll be able to fit everything in, but I'll try!

I will begin this first post by outlining three important things I think are necessary to understand if God-honoring friendships between guys and girls are going to work.  They are the following:
  • Desire.  Women have a strong attraction towards men.  It's part of who we are.  It's how God made us.  Period.
  • Downfall.  Sin has taken that desire of ours and twisted it to make our desire predatory, selfish, and sinful.
  • Duty.  Christ's atonement on the cross provides us with a way to take that messed-up desire we have and use it to glorify God.  As daughters of God, we have a duty to perform towards our brothers.

First of all, if you haven't figured it out yet (which I highly doubt), women have, to say the least, an interest in men.  This it the desire part.  This interest is instilled in us from birth, and only seems, to our dismay, to intensify during the teen years.  It is important to understand that this strong interest in men is how God made us.  In fact, we learn about it within the first few chapters of Genesis.  God "caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh.  Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man."(Genesis 2:21-22)
Man was formed from the dust, but woman had her origin and being from man and for man. "Woman is the glory of man," says 1 Corinthians 11:7-9.  "For man was not made from woman, but woman from man.  Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man."  From the beginning, men were our business.  The plan was that men and women together would reflect the image of God.  It's (Not That) Complicated, pg. 17
When God created us from a man, our interest in him was part of His plan.  He meant for us to glorify Him together.  So perhaps the fact that we were taken from man's side is the reason for our inherent interest in them.  We don't feel complete without them.

This interest in, or desire for men is what God created us with.  In the beginning, it was a pure, innocent interest in them.  A God-given, God-ordained interest that was pure and born out of a passion to glorify God.  An interest that would result in union that would be powerful and potent in the kingdom of God.  As we shall see, though, it wasn't so simple (or pure) for long...


Unfortunately, as soon as sin entered the world, this beautiful picture was severely distorted.  Think Monet masterpiece scandalized by teenage graffiti artist.  Not so pretty.  Since men and women were created with differences, the harmony that was in place at the dawn of the world was shattered.  Immediately, the woman wanted to be in control – defying the authority of the man.  Enter feminism.  Immediately, young men and women found themselves in a complicated mess of relationships – aggressive, boy-crazy girls and physical-obsessed boys, both of which wanted only to satisfy selfish desires.

This is a post aimed at girls, so I'll point out a few things that sin did to us.  All of these things I've discovered in myself.  Our interest turned into an obsession.  We let boys rule our lives.  We spent our time chasing after their attention and affection.  Instead of chasing our true love, Christ, we became distracted and absorbed in our interest with boys.  The beautiful attraction God created within us was ruined... or was it?  (I'm not sure what's with the suspenseful endings on these sections.)


Thankfully for us, God had a plan to remedy all that.  When Jesus died and erased our sins, we once again had a chance to make this relationship thing work.  Now we have a blueprint for them – the Bible, and a helper – the Holy Spirit.  While before, our question was, "how can I win the approval of man", now our question can be, "how can I win the approval of God".  The latter has got to be the foundation of why we even try to build godly friendships with young men.  Otherwise, we're going to mess it up.  We can harness our interest in young men to build them up in Christ, or we can let our interest turn into an obsession that hurts both them and us.  We can be sisters to them instead of boy-crazy monsters out to win their affection.  We can have friendships with them that are strong, healthy, god-glorifying, and pure instead of having fake friendships based on selfish desires.  Through Christ, all of these things are possible – and we should do them out of love for Him.

I guess I never really realized how interaction, specifically God-honoring interaction, is actually our duty as daughters of God.  That is, until I read It's (Not That) Complicated.  I want to highlight a few of their key notes on why we should love our brothers:    
We're not excused from our relationship to our Christian brothers because we are girls and they are boys and we present risks to each other's purity.  Rather, we're told how it should be done: First, we need to have our souls purified "by [our] obedience to the truth"; then we need to love them earnestly from our pure hearts.  No buts about it.  
Our fundamental point of this book is that all Christians (of all genders and ages) have duties to one another.  The goal is not only to solve our boy problems, but to pass the tests of every relationships God brings us, with their attendant opportunities and responsibilities.  To "through love, serve one another." (Gal. 5:13)  To "encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing." (1 Thess. 5:11)  To be a good witness for Christ, for "By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:35)  To "pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding." (Rom. 14:19)  To "Outdo one another in showing honor." (Rom. 12:10)  To use our gifts to "serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace." (1 Pet. 4:10)
Too often we assume these verses are just for old and responsible people, like parents.  We often tend to cut ourselves a special break because we're young, thinking that somehow free-spirited young people are a different category of person before God.  But the Bible doesn't say, "You senior citizens, love each other from a pure heart.  Youth and singles, you can't be expected to do more than have a good time and make some mistakes.  You'll grow out of it."  If we truly have been grafted into God's family, we need to see ourselves as full-fledged members of the Body of Christ now, sharing equally in the Christian duties to "Let no one despise [us] for [our] youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity" (1 Tim. 4:12)...  (all of the above from It's (Not That) Complicated - pg. 13) 
And so finally we realize the duty we have to our brothers in Christ.  We can't limit God's command "love your neighbor as yourself" only to our girlfriends or only to the sweet little orphans in Africa.  God makes no allowance for us to limit His command to a certain group of people.  When He says neighbor, that means boys, too.  And let's remember why we're doing this, again.  The desire to do what God commands – in this instance, it's loving others – should come from a passion to serve Him because of what He has done for us.  The reason why we are to love our neighbors at all should be born out of a deep, undying gratitude to the One who took our place – who loves us at our unloveliest (sorry, spellcheck) moments.  If we are loving for any other reason, it is in vain.  It must be powered by an outpouring of awe in and gratitude for His unthinkable gift.

To summarize:

  1. As women, we have an intrinsic interest in men.  They've been on our minds since Eve was taken from Adam's side.  This interest is God-given and, at the dawn of the world, God-glorifying.  Rather than a bad thing, we must realize that God gave us this interest (interest, not obsession with) in men.
  2. As soon as sin entered the world, the boy vs. girl scenario got a whole lot more complicated.  Now, instead of a pure interest in men, we became boy-crazy girls out to have fun and satisfy our selfish desires, whether it was God-glorifying or not.  
  3. When Christ came, we were given a new anthem.  His radical message included the command to love our neighbors.  And there weren't exceptions (read: guys).  As daughters of the King, it is our duty to encourage our brothers in Christ and to strengthen them.  This calling is a high one – one we cannot do without Christ's help.  Let us call on His Name that we may become radiant, selfless women of God who are unafraid to love our neighbors, whoever they may be and however hard it seems.  That is nothing less than our gratitude for God's gift requires.   
I will hopefully be back with part 2 of this series in the near future.  xo, Ella


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Guy/Girl Friendships Series – The Lowdown

Hello!  I've been thinking a lot about this series, and though I've already started writing the first post, I decided to make an introductory post to explain what I hope to address.  I'm going to try and fit things into four posts which will roughly be the following:

  • Desire, Downfall, & Duty – This post will set the foundations for the rest of the series.  It will explain where things stood between man and woman when God created the world, how sin twisted our desire for the opposite sex, and how it can be redeemed.
  • What Guy/Girl Friendship Should Look Like – In this post, I'll look to a couple books and much wiser people to explore what pure, God-glorifying friendship between guys and girls should look like. 
  • When Our Emotions Get in the Way – Especially for us as women, our emotions can majorly trip us up when we're trying to go about the whole guy/girl friendship thing in a way that will keep those relationships friendly and sisterly.  Sometimes though, we allow our hearts to go nuts and despite our best intentions, guys can occupy our minds, our heart skips a beat when one walks by, or in an effort to keep the friendship platonic, we can even come off as indifferent.  In this post, I'll offer some solutions for when our emotions run away and for when we need to adjust our focus. 
  • What's the Point? – In the final post of this series, I'll attempt to answer a question I've always had to re-ask myself about the purpose of guy/girl friendships. 
All of the things I'm going to write about are things I have specifically struggled with or need some work on.   I'm super excited about it!

I hope you have an awesome Christmas this week!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

2 Corinthians 11:2

Hello and happy December!  We're a few days in and I'm feeling the Christmas vibes like crazy over here.  Between listening Christmas music non-stop and secretively planning gifts to get (though that's no longer secret now), I just need the snow and I'll be all set!

Enough about impending holidays... onto the verse!  This is one of my favorite verses right now.  I guess what gets me about it is the jealousy part.  To know that God is jealous for me because He has promised me to Christ really hits me.  It also prompts me to evaluate my position.  Am I being faithful to Christ?  Am I upholding my end of the bargain?  To know that God desires me and is jealous for my affection and my heart motivates me to make sure that I am being purposeful in my quiet time and that I am keeping my heart for one person – Christ.  I am promised to Christ; am I keeping my focus on Him?

I'll be writing my first post of a series on guy/girl relationships very soon.  Have a great Friday tomorrow!  xo, Ella

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Lord of the Rings & Us

Hi!  Okay, so the last time I posted I promised to write about guy/girl relationships.  I still plan on doing that.  We're actually heading to Florida on the 20th, so I am planning on re-reading I Kissed Dating Goodbye and It's (Not That) Complicated.  I'm going to take notes and plan some posts on the drive down there.  Sometimes I think I enjoy the drive to Florida as much as I enjoy the time we have there.  The Starbuck's breaks, the books on CD, listening to music like all the time, and counting palm trees.  Well, that last thing might not happen this year.  ;)

Anyway, I wanted to write a post just so I could geek out a little bit.  About what, you ask?  Well, if you haven't already figured that out... Lord of the Rings.  AG and I are fans of the books (although technically I haven't completely finished the last of the trilogy) so we decided it was time to watch the movies.  So far we've watched the first two movies, and are planning on watching the last one tonight.  Although this is totally uncharacteristic of me, I must admit that the movies brought the books to life.  I mean, though I loved the story and the characters when I read the books (Aragorn's still my favorite character), they weren't the type of read I just could not put down.  I reeeally wanted them to be, but they just weren't.  However, after watching the first two movies, I am totally reading the books again.  'Definitely my favorite books/story ever.  Definitely.

Okay, so I could talk about the cast and the characters forever, but I probably need to get to the "meat" of what I was going to write about.  If you ever start a conversation with me, know that I will not shut up if you bring up Lord of the Rings.  Just a warning.  :D

All that aside, I had a revelation when I was watching those movies.  (See, Mom!  We should watch more moves.  We get insight from them!)  ;D  I started wondering why I was so wrapped up in the story line and what was so captivating about it.  I realized that as humans, we have an inherent desire for a good ending.  I guess that's kind of a duh thing, but it just kind of hit me.  Part of it, though, is how we want Good to triumph.  If those movies ended with the triumph of the evil side, no one would watch them.  Who, while watching LOTR would cheer on the bad guys?  It's just common sense that the Orcs are nasty and evil.  No one would want them to take the ring and kill the Fellowship.  Why?  Why are we so wrapped up in the hope and in the need for the Good to be victorious?  I realized that it is another bit of evidence for the existence of a Moral Law, and ultimately, a God.  If there was no Moral Law, like people are trying to promote, then there wouldn't be a Good side, let alone would we passionately desire a good ending.  I'm working on Ethics right now in my worldview course, and this was totally ethics!  Of course there has to be a Law somewhere in us that tells us what is right and what the Good even is!  If there wasn't, then what's with our infatuation with the "Good" side?  What's with our longing for happy endings?  Okay, my rant is finished.  Now, I'm going to wrap it up with a cliché statement.  'Cause those are always good.  ;)

As Christians, we have the ultimate happy ending.  When the Good really does triumph, we're going to heaven – the best ending.  We will be wedded to Christ Who gave his life so that His bride could be dressed in the whitest, purest wedding clothes – the only way we could ever hope to reach a happy ending.  In Revelation, John talks about what Christ's bride will look like and it almost makes me cry when I read it.  "I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband."  I guess this especially speaks to me since I'm a girl, but the fact that Christ loves me – loves His church like that fills me with gratitude and joy.  If He went through the cross and drank the cup of God's wrath to clothe me in white so that I could be His bride forever, then what am I doing getting distracted and forgetting to read my Bible and forgetting to pray?

Another verse that goes along with this theme is Hebrews 12:2.  "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."  Holy cow.  Jesus didn't die on the cross only because He knew He had to.  He did it for the joy.  The joy He would get from clothing His bride in splendor and purity.  The joy He would get from marrying us – His church at the end of time.  That joy He'd get from seeing her descend from God – so beautiful and radiant I don't even dare to imagine it.  And it would all be because of His sacrifice – His death.  That death He endured for the joy set before Him.  Every time I think about that, my mind gets blown.  

Well, once again, that post got way longer than I intended it to.  That seems to happen a lot with me.  That's the problem with people who like to write, I guess.  I'm not always the best at conversation, but when it comes to writing stuff, it's like, watch out!

Okay, well, I'm going to wrap this thing up.  I've really got to work on my long-windy-ness. :)  I hope you have a good week!  xo, Ella

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Whoa, Where'd Summer Go?

It seems to me that every other post I do is explaining why I haven't been posting very much.  Well, this time my hiatus is result of my forgetting about it. Oops.  Here I had brilliant plans about how much I would post over the summer, but then along came mowing, reading, and Drivers Ed.  Oh, well.  

I am excited to have remembered about blogging again, and I am feeling very inspired to write, write, write!  

Over the summer I was also working on Health.  Because it's a Christian program, I read a book called I Kissed Dating Goodbye as part of it.  The book is by Josh Harris, who, though he was single when the book came out, now has kids and is a pastor somewhere on the East Coast I think.  I truly can't say enough good things about his book.  Now, I kissed dating goodbye a long time ago.  Even before I became a Christian I knew it was something I didn't want to do.  Josh's book, however, doesn't necessarily focus entirely on dating.  He discusses the slippery slope of guy/girl relationships even outside of dating.  I've read my fair share of Christian books on these relationships, and I have to say that this one is probably my favorite.  I was able to resonate with so much of what he talked about!  He specifically targeted so many of the points I think girls struggle with.  One of my favorite parts was his list of things that warn you when your friendship with the opposite sex is becoming more than just a friendship.  The heart of the book is to tackle the popular view (that even Christians have) that guy/girl relationships can be short-term, romantic, self-serving, and marriage isn't even in the picture at all.  His book's on a mission to renovate our view of these relationships by proving that guys and girls can be friends, that these relationships can bring the individuals closer to God, and that it's not impossible.  As you can probably tell, I can't recommend the book enough.  I'll get it up on my "books" list very soon.

I am currently re-reading the book and I'll begin working on some posts along the lines of guy/girl relationships/friendships and all that.  This is a topic I'm fairly passionate about, so I'm pumped about this!  

Oh, and I just can't wait for Fall.  The best thing about living in the Midwest is that we actually have seasons.  I think it     absolutely makes up for the fact that our scenery is zero.

I hope you have a great weekend!
xo, Ella

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Character Close-Up: Meekness (Part 2)

Alright, so I split the study on meekness up into two parts because it got sooo long.  In part two, I answer the third and last question about meekness: How do we cultivate meekness.

Finally, how do we attain meekness?  I'll admit, this was probably the hardest question for me to answer.  I've turned to So Much More, which, if you've read any of my other posts, should be pretty familiar to you as well as other resources.

I read an article once about gaining humility.  A reader of the magazine was asking how to gain humility.  Ironically, the author staunchly argued that asking how to gain humility was just the opposite of what you should do to gain it!  In fact, he said that you shouldn't be thinking about your own meekness, or your own anything.  Humility is attained when one thinks about others, not himself.  The author advised the reader to stop wondering how to attain his own humility and focus wholeheartedly on others.  It makes sense!  To really forget about yourself, one must stop thinking like that.

So, I think the most basic thing one can do to gain humility is to focus on others and stop caring for himself.

The writers of So Much More present an example of what a meek woman looks like, and I think it should help us to see what we can do to attain it.

"A woman with a humble heart doesn't seek her own glory and will not parade her greatness before others or try to "prove herself."  Rather, she recognizes that she is nothing without God and seeks His glory alone."

"A humble woman actively seeks to discover areas of her life she can change and repent from.  Moving ever higher in godliness is her goal."

Okay, so first we mustn't seek our own glory or parade our greatness or try to prove ourselves.  Second, we must recognize our nothingness without God.  Third, we must seek His glory alone.  Fourth, we must seek to discover areas of our life we can change.  Fifth, we must always continue to repent from our sins.

Surely, the best example of humility we have is Jesus Christ.  He came to earth from His splendor and served the least of men.  Lepers, prostitutes, hated tax collectors, all the people who were shunned in society were touched by His love and healing.  He washed feet, blessed children, and basically did what no one else would do.  He went to the cross and died a cruel death for people who hated Him.  How much meekness did that take?

Philippians 2:5-9 – "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.  Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:"  

And so we have found out how to become meek.  We must recognize how pathetic we are and how awesome God is.  We must continually grow and repent.  We must strive to have the mind of Christ.  I don't think we will ever gain His perfect meekness, but God will reward those who are humble, exalting them.  I will end this with a quote I found which sums up the study of humility really well.

"They that know God will be humble; they that know themselves cannot be proud." – John Flavel

I stumbled across this article while researching this post which is an extremely well-written article concerning pride vs. humility. 

xo, Ella