Tag Archive | surrending all

Necklines, Hemlines & Blocks

As a Minister to Youth a couple decades ago I would find myself reminding some of our female youth that when they wore short skirts to church then went bounding up the stairs things would show they didn’t mean to be seen. I always felt as if I was speaking strictly for my own benefit for repeatedly they would say, “Miss Faye in church men shouldn’t be looking!”

I would counter with, “Of course they shouldn’t, but frankly men are visual creatures and when you offer them visual treats their eyes are going to be drawn to them, in church or not. Plus, do you really want males in church or out of church to see what you are displaying?”

Fast forward a decade plus and I am having a similar conversation with my niece over an eighth grade graduation dress, then a senior prom dress. Again, it seemed like a useless conversation.

With our own daughter my husband and I started early to correct behavior and to teach her modesty. We’ve tried to instill in her not that her body is something to be ashamed of or that is “dirty” but that there are special parts of her body that deserve special consideration and that are private. It has not always been easy to teach modesty to a young girl in this day and time.

Fashion has seemed to dictate clothes for girls that are as revealing as their adult counterparts. We often struggle with finding appropriate clothing that is going to allow our daughter to feel good about herself in the way God would want. Low necklines, short hem lines, tight fits and thin material. Plus, the lack of garments such as slips available for girls!

Yet with our daughter the message seems to have gotten through. At least she knows what we will say yes to and no to when it comes to her clothing and when she is looking at what characters on television or what models in magazines are wearing she remarks, “Geez, didn’t their Mama tell them to put some clothes on?” Even the men in her life she expects to be appropriately dressed. When we passed a Jeep full of bare chested males whose bodies boasted tattoos and evidence of working out she yelled (inside the car), “Go put some shirts on! No one wants to look at your naked self or your tattoos.”

Sadly in church this Sunday I wanted to repeat my conversation with the youth of long ago, only with women of all ages.

The young lady who’s long in the back, short in the front dress that was made of material so thin you could see the color of her underwear when she walked across the front of the church.

The mature woman in the choir loft whose breasts were showing.

The lady in the front row of the congregation the men were having to look anywhere but in order not to get an eyeful.

The teens in skimpy spaghetti strapped tops.

The teenage boys and girls in jeans so tight I wouldn’t be amazed to learn that they had to soak in baby oil to get into them.

This wasn’t an unusual Sunday either, which makes it more of an issue. I remember the young woman who came to sing our special music one Sunday whose dress would have more appropriately labeled a sweater and had males all over the church blushing or gawking.

Yes, men have a responsibility to keep their thoughts pure and to not lust after females. Yes, they should be focused on worship in church. Yes they are responsible for their own decisions, actions, thoughts, feelings, impulses and sins.

But we women have responsibilities too and I believe one of those is to be modest in our clothing choices. Instead of referring you to what Paul in 1 Timothy 2:9 had to say directly about women’s clothing choices or Peter in 1 Peter 3:3 I want to draw your attention to I Corinthians 8:9 where Paul in discussing the eating of food scarified to idols but which I think can be aptly applied to my point.

“Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak.”

Yes, I propose in the area of lust for the members of the opposite gender we all have our weak points. And knowing that I believe we all have a responsibility NOT to try to be a stumbling block to anyone. For if we are daring to dress with less modesty in the choice of clothing we have to go to worship the Lord our God in, WHAT are we choosing to wear outside the church?

The church is not a body of believers who are perfect, it is a body of believers who are sinners saved by grace who join together to learn about the Word of God, draw strength and encouragement from our church family and then to go into the world and tell others about Jesus and how He has changed our lives and can change theirs.

The world does not share those common goals.

Before anyone gets riled up thinking I am calling for a return to women covering themselves head to toe behind burlap sacks that is totally untrue. All I am saying is that we can choose to dress in ways that are attractive WITHOUT our breasts showing, our underwear being revealed or every curve or lack thereof we have being broadcast to anyone whose eyes happen to look our way. Along with that must also come an attitude change. If we want men to think of us as intelligent, kind, strong women capable of anything why would we want to advertise ourselves as objects for their sexual impulses? If we don’t want people to talk about how our clothing doesn’t fit us well, we might be wise to think modestly and wear clothing in the size appropriate for our bodies EVEN if that number doesn’t make you feel happy or that hemline make you feel young.

Choosing modesty,

-Faye

“…a time to mourn and a time to dance,…” Ecclesiastes 3:4b (N.I.V.)

 (As I am neither a Biblical scholar or in any way knowledgeable concerning the languages used to write the original scriptures I cannot incorporate the scripture into my life based on what I do not know or understand.  That is why as I read and pray about scripture I depend on the Holy Spirit to counsel me and take the English translation as it is written, with the notes in my N.I.V. Study Bible and whatever books I have read on the particular passage.

Having witnessed, in person, the danger of following someone’s instruction or interpretation of the scripture based on an unsound foundation; I would never advocate someone to base their spiritual live on how I believe the scripture reads.  I urge each person to seek their answers for themselves.  Never except for truth what you cannot find solid basis for in the scripture for yourself along with the leadership of the Holy Spirit and the teaching of someone with knowledge of the languages and background of the Bible you may lack.)

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This series of blogs began fermenting last month with a weird and disturbing dream I had.  This is the dream:

I am watching the funeral procession of Abraham Lincoln as it comes down a long brick paved avenue.  The horse-drawn wagon with the flag draped coffin of the President is approaching a circular part of the road and in the center of that circle is a fountain surrounded by flowers.  Then I am in the wagon, holding on for dear life to the coffin containing President Lincoln, fighting against the bumpy road and the jarring of his coffin that seems to be about to cause the coffin to end up in the road.  Suddenly the axle or wheel breaks on the “rear passenger side” of the wagon as it hits an unseen pothole in the roadway.  The wagon falls.  Now I am attempting against an even greater pull of gravity and laws of nature, to keep Lincoln’s coffin from sliding to the ground and perhaps his body tumbling out.

I can feel my muscles straining, feel the coffin slipping from my hand holds and I go from thinking, “I can’t let this happen!” to thinking, “Wait this isn’t really happening!”  It occurs to me that what I am taking part of has any basis in the history I’ve read about.  People are yelling at me, no one is helping me, and I am now too yelling, “This isn’t real, right?  This can’t be real!”

Then I woke up, just as I am sure Lincoln’s body tumbles from the coffin but whether Lincoln’s coffin and/or his body falls out of the wagon I do not know although had I stayed asleep long enough I am certain both would have.  It was disturbing and rather creepy.  I posted the dream on my Facebook page.

A few days later an old friend of mine from high school who is now a minister told me he was no dream interpreter but that he had seen a lot of symbolism in my dream.  Having caused my interest to peak I asked him about it and privately he emailed me what he felt was an interpretation of my dream given to him by our God.  My friend, Fred*, wasn’t sure I’d accept what he had to say as a message inspired by God.  He was also unsure whether I would be offended or whether I was in a place to hear what he had to say.

But I was ready, for the first uneasiness caused by my dream had passed and all the wise cracks about what food I had eaten or changes in my medication had occurred.  What Fred didn’t know was what God would remind and show to me when I took what Fred had said and God and I “talked it over” during my quiet time with Him.  When it all came together I was left having to acknowledge that my dream was filled with symbolism of my life now.

Fred went on to tell me, in the love of God and of old and tried friendship, what I needed to do to move on with my life.  I haven’t embraced that revelation as willingly as I have the interpretation of my dream itself.  Fred told me to do so much I knew had to be done and that I so DON’T WANT TO DO.

As the year 2012 drew to a close and 2013 began I found myself acknowledging many things.  The post I made at midnight New Year’s Day spoke of winter being for me, an odd time to celebrate new life for things are dormant instead of bursting with new life.  But winter affords us the time to PREPARE for new life.  It is the time we stay closer to home and hearth and family.  It is the time farmers repair equipment, merchants plan the stocking of new wares for spring, heartier soups and stews are prepared, the sun rises later and fades sooner, past times of reading, studying and crossword puzzles seem perfect activities.  It is a when one has time to think.  It is often a time when travel is more risky and one has to think of how to deal with ice, sleet, snow, wind and low temperatures.

It is not a time I am accustom to taking a vacation or journey.  Yet here I am on this journey.  I am straining against reality.  I am fighting to uphold a way of life I held dear and against the loss of it for it means dependence on others that my earlier life taught me was dangerous.  I’ve known this day was coming; I just never could stomach the realities of it.  Now, I have no choice.  Without a doubt the axle/wheel is broken for my left leg is gone from above the knee down and in trying to keep “what was” on the wagon on it there has been a tremendous physical strain on me.  I cannot accept on my deepest levels, that what is happening is happening, that it is real.  I am as much confused by my own thoughts and feelings as I am by those outside of me yelling at me so loudly I cannot hear what they are saying.

I am entering the “winter” of this time for me, both by the calendar and in my life.  I have to take the time to prepare for new life, sort through what needs to be mended or let go of, do the mending or the cleaning out and readying for spring.  Part of that is going to be rejoicing as the new spring arrives and part of that is going to be mourning what is dead and of no longer use to me.

I’m not sure how one “mourns” the loss of a limb or observes the end of one way of life while readying for the start of another.  I am sure of this though, it is going to be painful and it is going to be challenging.  It is going to be exciting and it is going to be an affirmation of life.  It is going to be covered with the fingerprints of God.

It is also my hope that others who are in a time of mourning for whatever loss in this winter season will find a light to help them find the pathway through.  It doesn’t matter if where you are it is 101 or -31 degrees outside for this winter season is here for you as it is for me regardless of what the calendar reads.  The time of mourning arrives with the death of what we will mourn.

Will you join me in whatever way you can during this winter of my life?

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In God We Trust?

Dear Readers:

In the sermon at church this morning based on Romans 12:1:

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.” (NIV)

Dr. John Laida (a guest preacher for Senior Adult Day) told us the story of Ivan of Russia who had been so busy “leading” his country that when he was nearly 35 years old his advisors reminded him he needed to get married.  He had three requirements for a bride:

  1. She had to be beautiful.
  2. She had to be of royal blood.
  3. She had to be well-educated.

His advisors got busy and found Princess Sophia of Greece.  As soon as Ivan found out about her he took off for Greece with an army and a priest.  Ivan and Sophia (or at least Ivan fell in love with Sophia no one said the love was returned this morning) were so in love and when Ivan asked for her hand in marriage the King agreed on one condition – he be converted to the Greek national church (Catholic I believe).  Ivan agreed, went through all the requirements including full immersion baptism.  His men, seeing their great leader do this followed suit.  They came upon though the first problem.

The Greek Catholic church didn’t allow professional soldiers to join their church because of what a soldier’s life entails – fighting, defense, people get killed.  Solution:  100 priests met 100 soldiers in the water and as they immersed them in the water, at a command from Ivan, the soldiers drew their swords, holding them high in the air…thus they were fully immersed except for their arm holding the swords.  The rest of them they appeared willing to give to Christ, their arm (and sword) they retained for Russia (and Ivan).

Today on Facebook a friend posted that Dr. Pepper is coming out with bottles with the statue of Liberty and the Pledge of Allegiance on them only the pledge is the original written in the late 1800’s without the “under God” added by Congress in 1954.  A comment on that post cited this as simply being returning the pledge to its original words.

To me it’s no different from those 100 soldiers trying to give “almost” all of themselves to Christ while keeping something in reserve for themselves.  That’s not how it works.  We have to give “all” of ourselves, sinners that we are, to Christ.  Keeping nothing in reserve, giving Him first place completely in our lives.

I don’t know about you but I am tired of having my rights as an American citizen who is a Believer in the one Living God trodden upon by those who keep crying I’M TAKING THEIR RIGHTS AWAY.  If you don’t want to say “under God” that is your right.  So just don’t say those words.  If you don’t want to have your child pray in school then teach them to respect others desire to do so and keep silent and not to listen.  If you don’t want your teenager to pray in a circle around the flag pole once a year then tell them to keep walking and ignore those students who are gathered there.

I don’t know about the rest of you but I’m TIRED of being walked on like a doormat.  Let’s do something even if it is as small as not buying Dr. Pepper without the complete Pledge of Allegiance.

Faithfully,

Faye