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3 {real} reasons to dress modestly

3 real reasons to dress modestly

“In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.” 1 Timothy 2:9-10 KJV

I’ve heard it said that the 1 Timothy 2:9 call for women in the church to “adorn themselves in modest apparel” is probably more in reference to not spending lots of time and money trying to look better than each other, rather than a reference to how much skin they were covering (after all, I’m pretty sure even the gentiles of that day-and-age wore pretty discreet attire.) It should not surprise us that Paul would be inspired by God to write to women about focusing on things above, rather than vain, exterior things.

It is ironic, however, think of how this applies to us in 2015. Obviously, we should not be so shallow as to spend all of our money and time competing with one another on who has the latest, trendiest clothes. But also, in our culture in which we compete over who has the longest legs, smallest waist, most toned arms or most shapely this-or-that, our competition almost takes us back to the old understanding of the text: that women should cover our bodies.

Let’s take the sexual aspect of it out. Say there were no men who might “stumble” depending on how you’re dressed. Say that were a non-issue. Would you dress modestly, or would you still try to tout certain features as a way to compete with other women?

We will always have “designer” this and “the latest” that to use against each other, and to don as medals of fashion victories, but we’re probably even more obsessed with sizes than brands.

There are some unhealthy reasons to dress modestly, the topmost being that you are ashamed of your body. You are a designer piece, handcrafted by someone so enamored with you, He calls you His masterpiece. Your body belongs to God and He, in all his pure glory, finds it fit to dwell in. The body is celebrated in scripture as beautiful, sensual, strong and sacred. Take care of your body and don’t be ashamed of it!

The second most common unhealthy reason for modesty is the idea that women are to blame for men’s lust issues. This is somewhat complicated, but in a nutshell: we are sexual beings who should be and will be attracted to one another, no matter how we dress. However, being attracted to someone and committing the sin that is lust are two different things. We are all, men and women alike, prone to lust and responsible for our own actions. With that said, we would do well not to tempt anyone, be it our brother or sister, into any kind of sin, whether that be lust or envy or malice or gossip.

Proverbs warns continually agains “the temptress” who lures men into her web, no doubt by immodest dress, word and action. Don’t be a temptress…to anyone!

With that said, I still think it’s important that we dress modestly in the traditional sense which is, covering our bodies. What that means exactly (how long, loose and dull must our clothes be??) is not for me to say. For one thing, I have not received any special message from God about that. For another, it really is, as much as we hate to admit it, a matter of culture. As I’ve written before, it’s a also matter of personal convictions. 

With that said, here are three real reasons to dress modestly:

1. Modesty says, “I am dignified.” 

Few things have remained true throughout the centuries, but one thing that hasn’t changed is the association between modesty and dignity. Though advances in woman’s stance in the culture have (thankfully) led to fewer restrictions on what we wear, we cannot fully associate immodest dress with liberty. In many ways, showing the world our bodies says, “Don’t objectify me, I’ll objectify myself!” No matter our motive, we are still showcasing our bodies as mere sexual objects when we purposefully dress in a way that’s seen as revealing. So yes, it’s liberty from corsets and dragging hemlines and the “rules” that governed both, but it’s not true liberty. True liberty is found in Christ, and when we acknowledge that, we no longer need the attention that comes along with dressing a certain way.

If we are going to continue fighting for gender equality, let’s make sure our dignity as women is at the frontline. I don’t want to be “liberated” so that I can use my hips and waist and breasts and legs to entice, but so that, like men, I can be respected for my mind and heart and ideas and strengths. Gender equality will exist when we’re not disappointed in “plain” women who do amazing things! Einstein wasn’t “a looker”, but I’ve never heard that mentioned…

To dress modestly says to the world, “I am honoring my own body by keeping it to myself. I don’t need your approval of my measurements, thankyouverymuch.”

2. Modesty says, “I am not competing with you.”

As I said at the start of this post, our biggest method of competition between women today is not brand names (though that could still be an Olympic sport) but body type. Just click on Pinterest once and you’ll see thousands of girls pinning tips on how to have that bod. If we needed one more reason to put our clothes back on, it could be as a bit of a olive branch to the fellow woman. Maybe your body fits this year’s qualifications of “perfect” and maybe (probably) it doesn’t, but women are said to look at each other’s bodies even more than men do, so stop worrying about lust and start worrying about envy. Love your body, enjoy your body, be happy with your body and, by all means take care of your body, but don’t ever use your body to put someone else down.

3. Modesty says, “I am more than a body.”

No one should ever feel they have the right to take advantage of your body, no matter how you’re dressed. It’s yours (and more importantly, God’s) and never “up for grabs,” whether you’re wearing drapes or nothing at all. However, the way we dress sends a message, be it true or false. Wear a burka and I’ll assume you’re Muslim, wear a habit and I’ll assume you’re a nun, wear a suit and I’ll assume you care, wear a stains and holes and I’ll assume you don’t. Call that “judgmental” if you wish, because it is in a sense–but it’s also sensical.

Dressing in a way that is seen as “modest” in whatever culture you find yourself in, gives people the message that you are not looking for a sexual partner or any sexual attention. It invites others to look you in the eye and get to know you–not just your shape. It says, “I have a body, but that’s not my most important feature.”

Lingerie has a place in this world, and it’s under your clothes. When you’re in public, think about what message you are sending about Christians by what you wear. Don’t obsess over it, don’t panic about it and don’t go to extremes out of fear of failure or sin. Our clothes are merely the shell of a shell. God looks at the heart and that’s way, way more important than the dress or even the body.

I love the end of of 1 Timothy 2:10, especially in The Voice translation,

“Women, the same goes for you: dress properly, modestly, and appropriately. Don’t get carried away in grooming your hair or seek beauty in glittering gold, pearls, or expensive clothes. Instead, as is fitting, let good works decorate your true beauty and show that you are a woman who claims reverence for God.”

It’s refreshing to think that this verse which has been, quite honestly, used to put women in the church down for many years, begins with “the same goes for you.” Paul wasn’t writing to Timothy’s church to segregate the sexes and put women in some legalistic box. He was writing to encourage them all in “good works.” He says that primping and brand names and glitter are all fleeting and unimportant, but that a woman’s true beauty is found in her reverence for God. That’s a win for gender equality if I ever saw one!

Put on your clothes, put on your honor, but “above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony,” (Colossians 3:13) because, when your heart is beautiful, you’re already a complete masterpiece.

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Why I’m Still a SAHD (Part Two: Other Reasons)

Why I'm Still a SAHD (Part Two)

You can read the introduction and part one of this series here and here!

Now that we’ve covered what a SAHD is and why I personally love being home, I wanted to dive into the common reasons given for daughters staying home and discuss whether or not they are actually valid. If I’m not staying at home because I believe it’s the only holy choice for me, enjoying my parents’ home cannot be the only reason I stay. Well, I guess it could. I mean, it is pretty great…

Anyway, here are the Other Reasons I stay:

1. Staying connected as a family

I have quite a few good friends. Some of them I would even count as family. However, my immediate family is my top priority as far as human relationships go. My parents always put a huge emphasis on being friends with our siblings. My parents are best friends, they are friends to their kids (in a healthy way) and we are all friends with each other. We were homeschooled most of our lives and moved around/traveled a lot, so there were seasons when we didn’t have many friends outside of our home. There were road trips that consisted of twelve-hours a day in our suburban for three days with no TV or phones or iPods or iPads or Gameboys (is that even the thing anymore??) We had two options: be friends or hang out with your enemies all day.

The relationships that we built out of these somewhat isolated times are too precious to lose now that we are growing up and grown. So basically, if I moved out, I could live with a really great friend or two, but if I stay home I’m with my best friends in the whole world. My sisters are pretty sweet roomies. I get to eat lunch with my little brothers. I get to stay up late watching movies with my mom. Our home is the hub of our social life in many ways. We love opening our doors to each other’s friends. And yes, we do get out, but we bring people in even more often and that keeps us all really connected. Which I love.

2. Money, money, money

For obvious reasons, it saves me money to live at home. Most of my friends who are in college are unable to support themselves. They do not work while they are in school or, like me, work part time. Their parents have to pay for housing, food, tuition, books, bills, gas and extra finances. I can only imagine that that adds up very quickly. Going to college costs a lot, but just living outside of the home does too. At home, I take up one bedroom and three meals a day, not much gas or other resources. I don’t even shower every day, but you probably didn’t need to know that…

I am very thankful to my parents for continuing to support me. I pay for any extra things I need (clothes, gifts, books, coffee with a friend, etc.) and try to make wise choices with their money. As it stands now, I work twenty-three hours a week and am saving up for future plans right now. I am able to work for and save my own money, because I live at home. I’m hoping this gives me more career options in the future, because it will be my money to spend when I want to pitch another book or continue my education.

3. It’s safer

I don’t think this one needs much explaining. Coming home late at night to my dad and brothers and our dogs and a lock and key and a security system in a house in the woods is a lot safer than coming home late at night to an apartment in which my girlfriends may or may not be sleeping behind a door which may or may not be locked. Plus: hanging out with guys at my house vs. hanging out with guys at “my” apartment. It’s kind of like living in a boarding house. There are plenty of “public” places to chat.

4. Team work

By living at home, I’m able to help my family in many ways and they are able to help me, too. Over the years, I’ve been babysitter, housekeeper, chef, grocery shopper, tutor, errands runner, landscaper, you name it. It has given me ample experience for starting my own home one day (though it didn’t take twenty-two years to learn to cook and clean, no matter what other SAHDhood advocates may say!) Do I consider myself to be a domestic goddess now? No. But am I more domestic than the other girls I know? Yes, I probably am.

At times, my parents paid me to do certain tasks for the home. I used to get paid to grocery shop, plan meals and cook. Today, my nineteen year old sister gets paid to twist my little sister’s hair every week and maintain it (black hair is no joke, y’all.) In return, I use my parents all the time, even at twenty-two. My dad fixes my computer and scrapes the ice off the windshield and changes lightbulbs and fetches things from the attic. My mom answers a myriad of questions every day, does 100% of my laundry, lets me use her car, makes my coffee when I’m rushing out the door and drops it off at the office if I forget it all together! Living so communally, it’s impossible to separate the things we do for ourselves and the things we do for each other.

The truth is, we all spend a lot of time at home and much of that time is spent running the home. Maybe my dad is cooking and I’m helping. Maybe I’m cooking and my little brother is helping. Maybe I cook by myself and my little sisters do the dishes. Maybe my mom is homeschooling and I’m running the errands. Maybe she’s running the errands and I’m homeschooling. If this was a business, the jobs would have to be more set in stone (and oftentimes that sounds more appealing!) but when you’re family, you pitch in where you can.

5. Having a little share in a big company, vs. having a big share in a little company

I get to live in a big house with a big kitchen and a big yard. Sure, I share it with nine other people, but I get a share. When I want to cook, I have a big, nice kitchen to do it in with big, nice pots and pans. When I want to have friends over to watch a movie, I have a big, nice TV room with a big nice TV in it. When I want to garden, I have a big space outside where I can till the ground. When I want to read a book against a tree, I have my choice of trees! Big companies can offer bigger benefits. Sure, there are things I envy about those in “little companies.” No one has to ask their roommates before they make plans. There’s not a line for the shower when you live with one or two other people. Having your own car must be nice. But almost every time I have a friend over to Eyrie Park for the first time, they mention our backyard. That’s some pretty great Members Only perks, right there!

What are other benefits to staying at home as an adult I didn’t mentioned?

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on being called anorexic

"Being skinny doesn't make me love my life..."

I doubt I’ll ever forget it. I was at a science museum, I was about fifteen and I probably weighed ninety pounds. I was a healthy, happy teenager having a fun day out with my family the first time I heard it. Someone whispering (loudly) from a group of students to my right. “Oh my god.” She gawked at me. “Anorexic!”

My sister and I just kept walking and later laughed about it. Wow! What do they know? I was far from anorexic. As a matter of fact, I often ate more than my friends, who were all average-size if not big for our age. I had no food issues whatsoever. The only thing I was guilty of was having my mother’s genetics and a high metabolism. Today, at age 22, I am not the bean pole I once was. I don’t wear adjustable waist pants anymore and I finally turn the airbag on in the passenger seat. However, it has recently come to my attention that many people still view me as that girl at the science museum did.

I am an underweight, flat-chested, spindly adult. I am also perfectly and completely healthy.

I don’t eat low-fat. I love cooking with butter, getting seconds of bread and I often indulge my sweet tooth. I don’t work out very often. I really need to get back to it, because I want to be stronger and protect my bones against the osteoporosis that runs in my family, but I feel unmotivated a lot of times. One of the reasons I feel unmotivated to work out is because my body changes very little when I stop working out. In other words, I couldn’t get fat if I wanted to. And because of that, you might hate me.

Trust me when I say I have plenty of other things to bemoan in my life. I don’t have to struggle with weight gain to relate to feeling down about my body or unattractive. I don’t have to constantly try to lose weight to understand the pain of striving for unmet goals. Yes, you guessed it! I’m skinny. But my life is not perfect.

You know why? Because (and this may come as a shock to our 20-something minds, but) weight and worth are not the same thing. 

I am a skinny twenty-two year old woman. I have to be the happiest person in the world, right? Wrong. Being skinny doesn’t make me love my life. It just doesn’t. If I could suddenly have the body of a super model and the teeth of a toothpaste commercial and the hair of a viral Pin, I would not be happy. There is something much deeper and more spiritual to life’s joy. Just ask any beautiful, rich, famous celebrity who is overdosing on their depression meds right now.

You know what really makes me sad when people ask about my weight? It’s not that I feel judged and violated (though sometimes I do.) It’s not even that our society is obsessed with thinness (though it is and that’s awful.) It’s that some girls actually do have eating disorders. And instead of treating these words with caution and being sensitive to folks who cannot control how they view their bodies, we call skinny girls “bulimic” because we can’t stand for them to fit into a societal requirement we don’t.

My dad works in a hospital. He has literally seen girls in Central Texas die of starvation because their minds are so ill. They keep nourishment from themselves despite the urging of their doctors and their mothers whose hearts are breaking. And yes, we have the media to blame. We have photoshop and Sports Illustrated and Pinterest and billboards to blame. But it’s also a disease.

A disease I am grateful I do not have. 

If I don’t call you “fat” and tell you to get on a diet, if I don’t whisper and snicker and call you “glutton,” if I don’t flaunt my body like society wants me to and tell you it’s my hard work that keeps me so “perfect,” will you not call me anorexic? Will you not call me “disgusting,” “boyish” and “sick” as I recently heard folks saying about another slim person?

There has recently been a movement to take our obsessive eyes off of being thinnerthinnerthinner all the time. It is great what words from fuller-figured celebrities can do for girls who aren’t beanpoles like I was. These sort of words prevent eating disorders, I truly believe. But, can we not swing the pendelum so far as to hate the thin? Can we stop imagining that every woman in a size 0 is a “skinny b*****” who kills herself to be thin and judges the heavy? Can we please stop singing that song about being curvy so boys will like you? It’s not helping, really. (Meghan Trainor-you are beautiful, but you would still be beautiful if your thyroid went out on you in the night. And don’t change your body for boys. You’re worth a lot more than that.)

So yes, I’m skinny. Yes, I can eat pretty much whatever I want and see little to no change in my figure. No, I don’t imagine this will last my whole life! And no, I do not have an eating disorder. Now if people would stop picking me up and swinging me around when I try to hug them, all would be right in the world.

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daily frights

Someone once said, “do something every day that scares you.” The first time I heard this, I thought it was an awful idea. I imagined myself putting my hand over a wasp nest or jumping in front of a bus on a daily basis. This not only seemed unwise, but I could not see the benefit. Since then, I’ve realized that the message was lost on me. The point isn’t to do dumb, disastrous things every day, but to do things that are worthwhile even if you are afraid, because that’s how we grow.

Well, I’ve never really applied this slogan to my life, but I do seem to have my own. “Do something ever semester that scares you.”

The fact that I am starting to think about life in semesters is scary in-and-of-itself, but life in a college town seems to have that kind of rhythm. Every semester there is the opportunity to say “yes” or “no” to so many things and God continually pulls me toward new things. Bigger things. Scary things.

I have yet to submit my skin to wasp stings or make a flying leap in front of a moving vehicle, but I have allowed myself to be frightened. The amazing thing about this practice is not that I gain confidence, but that I continually have fewer and fewer fears. What scared me a year ago is commonplace now. What scares me about the fall will probably seem simple and not so intimidating by next summer.

I have learned to introduce myself to strangers, to make new friends without the fear of rejection, to voice my opinion in groups. I have been called “a natural leader”–something I never would’ve imagined about myself a few years ago when I was too shy to order my own meals. I have opened up about my goofy habits and confessed my best-hidden sins. I have gone without make-up and not thought about it all day. I have made jokes that nobody laughed at and it didn’t keep me up that night. 

Through the crisis pregnancy center, church small groups, service teams and outreach programs, I have done whatever it was that needed doing, setting my inadequacies aside. I’ve written (closed) letters to officials on issues I care about (having learned that open letters are usually more self-inflation than communication.) I have written notes of encouragement to people I thought might think I was weird for doing so. I have learned to drive without having to pull over for panic attacks, to drop off books on doorsteps where I think they may be welcome, to ask some hard questions I had avoided for a long time. I have learned to give my stuff away without feeling nauseated. I don’t need extra anything.

I wear what I like and don’t think too much about it and I have started to kick the habit of feeling like every acceptable thing I do must be recorded on social media. I get angry and do not sin (I mean, sometimes I do, but anything is progress in this area.) I leave my drawing pad open on my desk and don’t shred my sketches into tiny pieces. I find new recipes and actually try them and sometimes I cook without a recipe.

I work out sometimes, probably not quite enough. I don’t work out to look different, I work out to feel healthier. I eat things like mushrooms and beets and onions without plugging my nose. I actually enjoy these things. To enjoy as many things as possible-this is my goal! And to do this, I must fear fewer and fewer things all the time. I used to fear driving, now I enjoy it. I used to fear onions, now I adore them. I used to fear a busy schedule, but I’m learning to control it. I used to fear speaking in front of groups, but I’m getting over that.

I will never be an extrovert, a high-energy doer or a fearless superhuman. The greatest victory is perhaps that I’m okay with that now. I am not distraught over the fact that I’m a slow, hesitant, introverted, often lazy girl. I don’t feel guilty about being me, because I can tell that I’m trying really hard to be less fearful and more content every semester, every day. And, as strange as it feels to say it, I’m kind of proud of that. What use would I be to the people I love if I never improved or progressed? I don’t want to simply be loved and accepted, but also useful, also helpful.

There will always be pitfalls. I’m sure I’ll discover new fears. But how can you overcome a mountain if you don’t first stand at it’s base and appraise it’s awesomeness? And how can you have a victory, without a battle?

So wasps and buses aside, I’m doing the things that really scare me and becoming all the braver for it.

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a week since molly

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(sigh)

A week ago today, our beloved poodle breathed her last. It was not. a. good. day.

She was fifteen, we had had her since I was seven. It was an agonizing little funeral. I still cannot really write about it, but I will say that our family and friends have been so sweet and sensitive about our loss and we appreciate that very much. Also, God orchestrated things to be as good as they can be on this broken earth. We were almost all home when she went, Joey was able to get off of work early (when he’s usually swamped) to be with us and she never seemed to be in pain. Still, WE are in pain. Just today, I cried my eyes out driving to the grocery store. She was a dog…but she was not a dog.

So, let’s get back to the part where I’m crying my eyes out. My only hope was that some handsome guy would see me and show some concern/marry me, but alas. I wiped my eyes with my palms like a two-year-old, pulled my cap over my face and jumped out of the suburban. There were groceries to be purchased. Before going in, I remembered to walk around to the back door and slam the sliding seat (you know the one?) back into it’s place. My tearful journey had only been made more nauseating by the fact that at every red light and stop sign, the gigantic middle seat had slammed into the front seats with the force of a torpedo. I gently pulled it forward and then, with all my might, taught it a lesson. I bet that’s the last time that seat interrupts my snotty blubber-fests.

Sloshing through the parking lot, I commandeered a basket and then did my shopping. People were probably friendly, but I don’t remember. I was too busy having a crummy day.

Through the remainder of the day I parked diagonally, squirted soap up my arm, spilled several things, forgot how to do laundry, picked dandruff out of my hair, filled out an application incorrectly, served myself a rotten potato, said angry words to my internet connection, ate potato chips and thought about what I a failure I am. If there were check lists for crummy days, I would be an over-achiever.

It had been a week since Molly died, over a month since Meggie left, a day since I found out a didn’t get the job. Wah.

And then my little sister bought me a ticket to see The Vespers in concert. And a children’s book arrived in the mail. And I ate a Creme Saver. And read my Bible. And prayed. And  listened to music. And (finally) put my laundry away. Maybe this day was redeemable after all.

As I was making my chocolate milk to go along with my peanut butter and jelly sandwich (no cooking today) my older siblings discovered the pile of mail that has been discarded disinterestedly on the entry way table. And there’s a letter. And it’s from Meggie.

We have never received a letter from her before. We had heard nothing from her. And then this-a letter on purple paper! “I love femaly” she writes. And “happy valentine’s day” and “xoxo.” There’s a picture of each of us with our names and then a tiny little picture of herself. The littlest one with the big dreams of coming home to a “femaly” someday.

Though the adoption process is barely moving forward at all, we still hope to see her this summer. God orchestrates everything, even on this broken earth. Come home soon, Meggie. That will redeem every crummy day.

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