Saturday, June 08, 2019

Self-Determination at What Expense?

You wake up in the passenger seat of a car. The driver has abducted you. You’re in pain, and disoriented. After a moment, you realize you are bleeding badly. By the grace of God you overcome the driver within a few blocks of the hospital and take control of the car. If you don’t get to the emergency room soon, you could die. The problem is, you’re in traffic; pedestrians are crossing at the crosswalk ahead. If you don’t run them over, you know that your time is short, and you might not even survive to make it to the hospital. You are in this horrible situation through no fault of your own. Is there any way you could justify choosing to run over the innocent people in the crosswalk?

To God be all glory.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Bramble Bake

I can hardly believe I'm writing this, because I am generally very conservative (literally) about words.  I try not to change them.  In my opinion, this aids in communication, and communication is much more important to me than words - even though words are beautiful and exciting treasure-maps... I digress.

About a year ago, I discovered Baked French Toast.  That stuff is good, and it is so much easier than frying bread a few slices at a time.  It isn't French Toast.  It probably shouldn't even say "French Toast" in the name, since it isn't fried in butter, and that's an important distinction.

Then in the spring I was researching recipes for my friends' annual potluck St. Patrick's Day party, and I ran across a recipe for bread pudding that sounded a whole lot like Baked French Toast.  So I did some research.  Yep.  Same thing.  Also, if you don't use cream and you make it more savory, it's the same thing as "dressing" (or, if you put it inside a bird you're roasting, "stuffing") at Thanskgiving and Christmas.  It is even basically  identical to Monkey Bread.

If you get really broad, maybe even what we call "casseroles" could be in the same category.  A starch is chopped up, mixed with other sweet or savory fillings, soaked in a sauce, and baked.

One of my friends long ago persuaded me that "casserole" is a yucky word.  This was at the same time that I was first considering eating them.  The best alternative term we could come up with was "hot dish", that some small sections of our country use for the same thing.  But it sounds so pedantic.

Enter "bramble bake".  Today.  I saw a recipe on Pinterest for a "Blueberry Bramble Bake", which, it turned out, was a bread pudding with blueberries and cream cheese.  But the name, as the Dread Pirate Roberts and Anne of Green Gables would agree, is the important thing, and "bramble bake" rang in my ears.  I hoped that it simply already was the elusive term I'd been waiting for.  Maybe it was, except that none of the rest of the world realized.

Back in history - and history about words matters to me - it seems that it meant something baked out of the fruit of a thorny shrub, like blackberries are.  "Bramble" is a word for such a plant, and it conjures images of tangled branches, blends of depth and shadow, sprinkled with a surprise of sweetness or other sharp point here and there.  And after people grew tired of only using the phrase for actual bramble pastries, it came to be applied to things baked with other berries.

Here's where we enter the scene.  Because "bramble" is a lovely metaphor for the collection of flavors and textures jumbled together and baked, I am inviting you to join me in using "bramble bake" to describe all of the things in this blog: baked French toasts, bread puddings, dressings and stuffings, casseroles and hot dishes.

What are your favorite bramble bakes?

To God be all glory.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Parents and the Barren and Expectations

When people say "before I was a parent, I expected _____ about raising kids, but now..." What it kind of sounds like to me is "don't bother spending these waiting years preparing to be a good parent; you'll only get it wrong." Thing is, I sincerely disagree.

I know preparation isn't the same as living it. But the solution to the barren thinking they would never let their kids throw fits in grocery stores is to share your experience, not put them down for trying to plan well and aim for good things. I think it is a huge problem that many people enter parenthood with so little experience, training (discipleship), or intentionality. They have no idea what are reasonable expectations.

On the other hand, believe it or not, many childless people have lots of experience interacting with non-ideal children. Some have seen lots of different homes and had more time and less personal investment (defensiveness) to synthesize what they've learned. It isn't everything. It is NO justification for them being arrogant or judgmental. But God seemed to put parents together with non-parents, in community, so maybe we could learn from each other and encourage one another instead of silencing our companions.

To God be all glory.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

How Jesus Sounds

I have never realized it before, and perhaps that’s a ridiculous fact, since I’ve read the gospels over and over, heard Sunday school stories and sermons and Christian songs for decades.  But just tonight I realized how easy it is to relate to so many different people Jesus spoke to while on earth.

Here’s how I described them on Facebook earlier, and I relate to every single type, at least a little:
[I’m] remembering what Jesus sounds like, to mothers and rich young rulers and zealous disciples and grieving women, to those sitting at His feet and those longing to be healed, to the inquirers who aren't sure there's hope for them, to askers of silly questions, to doubters and fearers and sinners and strivers. To little children and we who aspire to be like them. To goad-kickers and prison-wait-ers.

To God be all glory.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

In Defense of Like-Mindedness on Social Media

There is a popular idea coming out of our analysis of the new thing that is social media: that social media’s tendency to make echo chamber, confirmation-bias-reinforcing bubbles is a bad thing for growing as human beings.  I don’t think this concept is entirely without merit. But I think it may depend on the type of person you and your friends are.

First of all, I have observed the use of social media for things that have nothing to do with affirming preconceived ideas, unless it is the idea that one’s own children are cute and that their grandparents enjoy pictures of them.  There are other social media users who only exchange amusing morphed pictures of their faces with friends, or who only play games using the platforms, or watch and share Grumpy Cat memes. Some people basically only use their social media as a platform for marketing their business.  The lesson to be learned from this fact is that social media’s effect is, in part, a consequence of how you use it. This is hopeful, because it means we can choose how to act based on the kinds of outcomes we aspire to.

We can be the kind of people about whom the sociologists warn, who use Facebook only to get “likes” from people who agree with us, and to read the simple slogans of others who are stating thoughts we’ve already had (or adopted).  We can steer clear of anything that we’re not sure our group would agree with, and berate anyone in our network who dares to publish statements or photos or videos that the “group” hasn’t accepted.

Or, if we want to be the kind of people who learn and are able to be corrected, we can pursue that goal.  
I am struggling with the argument that in order to be this kind of social media wielder, one must network with people whose ideas are radically opposed to one’s own.  I believe my struggle comes from two main places: that I am a minority among my friends, when considering the kinds of topics I like to discuss on Facebook; and also that it is proper to discriminate in personal friendships against people who are fools.  

I know that, relative to Americans at large, my circles look like a very small-minded bubble.  Most of my friends are, like me, Christians, pro-life, compassionate, and lovers of freedom. But I am actually in a minority for my beliefs and morals even among my own several hundred Facebook friends.  My religious and political views, standards of human behavior, ideals for life and society, principles of economics - are all things that I am at odds with almost everyone about. The differences may be nuanced, but they are real.  This being the case, I experience being almost constantly challenged by my associates. And where I am not contradicted, I am exposed to aspects of the topics that I haven’t considered before, or haven’t delved into. I hypothesize that most people who are interested in thinking deeply on these subjects, and applying them to life, have a similar experience.  

Also, I have exposure to the larger world’s ideas through colleagues and clients at work, through shopping, watching TV and movies, and advertising - enough to know that there are ideas different than mine and different than what I witness on social media.  In addition to being a comfort when I feel inundated by foreign values and beliefs in my larger culture, it is also helpful to have some people closer to my values to help me evaluate and respond to these disagreements with the world around me in a constructive, insightful way.  

My familiarity with the “other sides” isn’t complete!  I still have moments where I realize I had assumed most people had a common experience or universal understanding of a thing - and it wasn’t true!  Everyone lives in a sort of social bubble, no matter how hard we try!

The Bible teaches that the people that we spend a lot of time with will have influence over us.  It warns that “the companion of fools will be destroyed” and “he who walks with wise men will be wise”, that “evil company corrupts good morals”, and “what fellowship has light [those made alive by the work and grace of Jesus] with darkness [those who remain in rebellion against God and its corresponding delusions and weaknesses]”.  Thus, I think it is wise to exclude from among my frequent influencers and counselors those whom I discern to be wicked and foolish. I lament that this is the state of our nation: that there are millions who would debate about simple and obvious things like whether to allow murder of some humans; that there are people so given to their own pleasure that they do not care to evaluate their desires or philosophies (but talk about them anyway).  I wish that we could instead be pooling the wisdom (or at least humble curiosity) of God-fearing and thoughtful* people in order to solve harder questions.

*Not every God-fearing person can be classified as thoughtful, and that’s just fine, as long as it is moderate, and as long as non-thoughtful people aren’t trying to have public, in-depth dialogue on subjects where thought is needed.  Being a thoughtful person, I believe it is good to have at least some substantial portion of my acquaintance also be deep thinkers.

I believe it is OK, if you are using social media for discussion of important topics, to have some friends who aren’t wise and good.  I’m not a strict isolationist. I would advocate that we keep a prayerful, vigilant watch on the balance of friends and those we follow or subscribe to who are, on the one hand, able to sharpen us and, on the other hand, those who pull us away from good thinking and good acting.  This is true even if social media is, for you, a less profound venture, because any shared experience can build bonds that sway your priorities, even shared fun or simple everyday comments. It may be fine for the proportions to be different if you use the platforms for more lighthearted purposes. But because of the power of words and precepts, it is more important to have the majority of those whom you engage on that level be good companions.  If the majority of your interactions on these deeper issues are outside of social media with a group of friends whose influence is more positive, it may also be acceptable to dabble in social media exchanges with less upright people.

I tend towards viewing interactions with wicked fools as condescending (hopefully with as little hypocrisy as possible), and as rescue missions.  This can be a good way to guard against taking them in as “companions”. But, since even “blind squirrels find nuts” - and because in many ways, I am yet also a “blind squirrel”, it is useful to be open to new revelations brought through these people.  At the very least, conversing with them can improve our understanding of them and the experiences that have formed them (and may have formed others in our society, including ourselves).

How do we know if we are discerning which people are wise and good, versus which are foolish and wicked?  That’s not something I want to write about right now, but it is something worth considering, with an allowance that we may not be perfect at it, in principle or practice.  

In conclusion, I appreciate my social media (primarily Facebook) experience, but also benefit from reminders to be careful that I am using it to build wisdom, rather than pride.  And I hope that others can, as well.

To God be all glory.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Winter is for...

“Winter is about Innovation.”  So said a slogan I saw at work recently.  It sounds sloganish. The company was selling new winter sports gear, from shoes to skis to sunglasses.  But it made me think. The past couple years I have been thinking a lot about winter. A few friends recently moved to places where winter is stronger than it is in Colorado.  And it is hard for them to cope for long weeks of too-cold air and too-grey skies. So we’ve been brainstorming ways to embrace what winter has to offer, or at least to dress it up so that it is not quite so distractingly dreary.  

Winter is for innovation.  It is easy to think of the things you can’t do during winter.  You can’t take long walks. You can’t grow a garden. You can’t go swimming.  You can’t play soccer in the park. Amusement parks are closed. Sometimes the snow is so bad that it makes driving dangerous.  You can’t leave the windows open all day. You can’t go barefoot. And during the season when we can do all those things, it makes sense to soak them up and not waste the time doing other things.  

Winter is for innovation.  A farmer has just brought in his harvest.  He can start to evaluate whether the crops he planted are what he and his family needs.  How did the planting, tending, and picking go? What could he do better next year?

A mom considers her family.  They’re growing. What parts of their strengths and weaknesses were revealed in the freer times of summer: from play, from reading, from industry, from strife?  How can they work on these things?

Now that the warmer months are over, it is fine to turn on ovens and to slow-cook things.  How could a kitchen be more efficient? What simple tools could be added? How can the experience of cooking support the values of the cook, like friends or including children, or listening to podcasts?  

Are there craft projects that you’ve been meaning to try?  Research on your next car or appliance? Résumés to write? Friends to catch up with?  Books to read?

I have one friend who loves New Year’s resolutions.  They haven’t been my thing in the past, but I am starting to think that maybe they are an appropriate way to face the winter.  Winter can be a time of reflection, recuperation, goal-making, and also, innovation.

To God be all glory.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Love Begotten

Love.  
On the surface you think it makes sense.  You love someone because you click, or because it’s convenient, or because they love you.  And you do the things that go with love: you spend time, you give things, you make sacrifices.  But then time goes by and it’s become something else, too…

It isn’t that you’re lost in it; you become something else, maybe.  You go through seasons when you can’t remember any of the reasons.  You feel like you don’t have anything in common. You feel like so much of your relationship has been you hurting the other person, and you can’t take those things back, and maybe all the other love-things weren’t worth it.  You can’t think of anything about the person that inspires you – you can’t even bring to mind things that used to inspire you.
But in the middle of all that - and you feel like you’re drowning, feel like you’ve been crazy to have ever thought differently – in the middle of it, you realize there’s still love.  It’s there with a pulse, abiding even when you have nothing to feed it, no reason to believe in it. And it’s hard to even define what it is that’s present that we name love, but you know it is love.
 
Opportunities come, and they’re wrenching ones, to see some things that this love does.  The person you love gets sick and you’re surprised that all you can think about is rushing over to hold the puke bucket and rub their back.  Or you’re half awake but the first thing you think about is whether they’re ok. You hear them say that they don’t feel loved, don’t believe they’re lovable – and sometimes they don’t even say it, you just find it out – but you get the sensation that you were made for this: to prove that someone is loved, and you want to prove it with everything you have and are and do.  Or they’re in such a dark place spiritually and you can’t stop praying, and the only things you can pray are that God will rescue them.

There are border-lands of this feeling, where you’re conscious of some reasons, where you enjoy loving them, even though it’s still hazy.  You’re not sure what you’re dealing with, so you’re not sure how to act, but love isn’t about figuring everything out and making a plan.

But you know you’re in this state where whether you get anything out of it or not, whether it seems successful or not, whether there’s hope for things to be better ever again.
Or.
Not.
You know that none of those things will change the fact that you care about them more than you care about yourself.  
It doesn’t mean that your life will end up entwined with theirs, nor that you’ll be asas significant to them.  It just means that love doesn’t go away. You can choose to start loving; you might be able to choose to quit loving; I don’t know.  I do believe, though, that you can’t just fade out of loving a person. Once you’ve invited it, it’s there.

You can still do the not-loving things.  Your love can be weak or it can be caged by all sorts of other feelings and choices – but if it is, you’re going to be miserable, because the love will still be aching inside you.  
It’s like a miracle, like begetting children: you do contribute, but you’re not doing it.  You haven’t a clue where to begin to create love, and you’re not powerful enough to do it if you did.  It’s a grace. God gives it.

To God be all glory.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Between What a Thing Is and What Makes It Good

It’s happened before.  I hear about a friend whose marriage is rough.  I understand the swirling strain the mind goes through, trying to solve problems.  Is there a way out?  I understand the grief when a thing isn’t what it should be.  It may be the only way to stay sane, to hold tight to the fact that God’s design is better than this.  Marriage is good.  God designed it to be good.  He designed it to be better than what anyone experiences.  And though He isn’t out of control, what we do and experience falls short of the glories God designed.  What we do and experience, though, can still bring Him glory. 

I digress.  Is there a way out?  If God didn’t intend it to be this way, must I still live in it?  God’s design for humanity is health, but we get sick; we feel pain.  Must we still live it? 

God’s design for fatherhood is to be one who speaks to his children, teaching them the way they should go, demonstrating love and patience. Fathers chasten their children so that they will learn to be good, God-fearing, and productive.  But if a man fathers a child and then walks away, is he still a father?  Our society is all in a rush, with step-parents and father-figures, to give the title of father to those who come closest to fulfilling the design for that role.  I’m not sure I disagree with an analogous application of the term “father” to someone who is doing the work of a father.  What concerns me is when we say that the man who abandoned his family is not a father.  The thing that, in fact, makes a man a father, is his biological participation in bringing a child into the world.  Are we letting biological fathers off the hook by telling them that unless they act like fathers, they aren’t fathers (and, thence, they don’t have the responsibilities of fathers)?  Perhaps a more difficult question is whether God means for “Honor your father and mother” to apply even to fathers (or mothers) who are not living up to the ideals. 

So I’ve been pondering the difference between what is essential to a thing, and what makes a thing “good”.  A marriage is one man and one woman covenanting and becoming one flesh for this life.  A good marriage is more.  A good marriage has good communication, good teamwork, is productive and pleasurable.  A good marriage involves each helping the other become closer to God.  A good marriage is a testimony of love to the world.  Do God’s expectations for marriage only apply to healthy, thriving ones?  If one spouse isn’t living up to the ideals of a “good” marriage, is the other spouse free to claim this isn’t going to work out?  Or does “What God has brought together, let no man separate” apply even to marriages that just meet the bare bones definition of a marriage?  (And what are the bare bones of things, in God’s eyes – as He has revealed them to us?) 

It’s a hard road, but I believe that we are called not to escape the things and people who are broken, but to love them and to mourn over their/our brokenness.  I believe we are to hope for the good, even when it looks impossible.  I believe that when we read the Bible, we must do so submitting to God’s revelation for our understanding of the institutions God instructs us about.  A father begets a child. Those children are commanded to relate to their father with obedience and honor.  Such a father is commanded to treat his children in certain ways.  Marriage is a thing, even if it is a different thing from what we imagined or hoped for when we started it.  Being a Christian is a thing, with responsibilities that we don’t escape by failing to live up to them.  Being a friend is a thing that I’m wrestling with right now, trying to understand what God teaches are the bare-bones essentials of friendship and also what He delights for it to be.  Church is a thing.  Gender is a thing.  How well we live these things doesn’t change what they are. 

To God be all glory.

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Consent Is Not Enough

I was with my friend the other day, watching her two young sons play.  On this particular summer day, the six year old was standing on the couch with a large foam ax, knocking his four year old brother on the head.  The younger one gave a delighted laugh and begged, “Do it again!”  Both brothers demonstrated their foolishness in what followed.  The one with the ax did it again, but harder, and the one on the floor, less delighted, kept hoping for a repeat of the first delightful tickle and kept asking, “Again!”  And that’s when their mom intervened, warning the armed brother to stop. 

The little vignette reminded me of our culture.  We think that as long as someone consents to it, there are no limits to what we are justified in doing to them: fornication, assisted suicide, and high interest loans are some examples.  But just like my friends, consent wasn’t enough to determine morality because there is a higher authority.  Their mom hadn’t consented.  She was wiser about the dangers to her sons.  God is wiser about the ramifications of our choices.  And what’s more, He has the ultimate right to our lives. 

But so many people in our society are in rebellion against His authority.  They actively deny that He has any say over what they do.  We have lost the fear of God, and with it lost wisdom. 

And this is why I want to celebrate what my friend did.  It seems like a little thing, letting her sons know that she was in charge, and that even their own wills did not overrule that fact.  It is a big thing, pushing back against the philosophical tide made of millions of people and layers of lies.  It is a sweet thing, leading her children in the ways of true wisdom. 

To God be all glory.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Modesty Revolutions

I have had two modesty revolutions in my life.  My parents raised me with rules for modest dress that were moderately conservative in the first place, so these revolutions weren’t very drastic.  But they were significant. 

When I was 18 and packing for a week at summer camp, it wasn’t a wild rebellion I was converting from; it was legalism.  Now usually legalism-rejection is thought of as release from rules, but in this case it was understanding them, and even strengthening their practical outworking by my new convictions. 

As a young woman hoping to be married and with an eye on one boy in particular, I had been feeling disappointed at the lack of romantic attention.  I’d been, à la purity movement, attempting to wrestle back crushes and all feelings of attraction preceding open commitment, which did at least have the advantage of helping me to trust God with the hope that He’d keep me from getting too involved with a man not meant for me.  But looking back, my philosophy of disguise and suppress had the disadvantage of being at least as responsible for my loneliness as was my modest dress.  I didn’t think of all that while I was packing that year.  I felt that form-fitting, curve-accentuating tank tops which barely met the letter of the dress code were a promising, take-charge strategy for demanding that one boy’s attention. 

As Providence would have it, though, the radio station I’d been listening to as I folded and tried on, counted and packed, began to play a women’s Bible study program I’d recently discovered.  I don’t remember anymore the exact words Nancy Leigh DeMoss said, except that it convinced me my motives were all wrong: that the core meaning of modesty is to NOT force others to give us attention and praise.  Feeling the conviction of the power play I’d been intending, I pulled everything out of my suitcase to start over, not even daring the temptation of brining the tanks to layer with other things (the reason I owned them at all). 

For the second paradigm shift, we have to fast forward several years, past the full-Victorian skirt alternating with denim in classic homeschool style phase, and through a deep contemplation of biblical teachings on gender roles and leadership.  This revolution was more gradual.  Part of it was a maturing familiarity with what did and didn’t look good on me personally.  More forceful was the conviction that too much “modesty” or inattention to beauty was making it hard for Christian men and also younger girls and even non-Christian women to resist the allure of worldly, far less modest women. 

At this time of my life, I had been introduced to sidewalk counseling.  And I noticed that one of the ladies who’d been out there most consistently, and had dozens of “saves” over the years, always did her hair and came in a nice blouse and comfortable, but nice pants or jeans.  She didn’t wear t-shirts with messages that would scare non-Christians away.  There’s a place for confrontational t-shirts, but her goal was to invite women to interact with her, to listen to the help she offered, and to trust her.  I imagined being one of those pregnant women, with so many misplaced values.  While overcoming the prejudices against people outside abortion clinics, personal fears of motherhood, and priorities of a life without a child for the present – did these girls also have to be asked to get past a slovenly or completely out-of-date appearance of the one offering help?  The other lady was older, not very likely to incite jealousy in women walking in with boyfriends, but I still look fairly young, and try to balance my look with being approachable but, harkening back to my first revolution, not demanding attention that would make me seem a threat to a potentially fragile relationship.  I want to be “all things to all people” without being on the level of immodesty that some of these women practice. 

Young girls seek role models.  They look around for someone who looks beautiful, and try to imitate all they see.  It’s natural.  Admittedly, girls go through stages where they believe anything with glitter and sequins is pretty; then they hit the lace stage, and move on to the dangly earrings.  At least I did, as a kid.  So I’m not saying young girls are the most discerning.  But they can tell, when someone is trying to look good, and that shapes what they define as beautiful. 

Young men were once young boys who probably experienced a similar thing as the young girls, though I have not had any direct experience, and far fewer conversations on the subject with men.  Additionally, though, they start to shape convictions, all muddled together with ideals of modesty and what sort of woman would make them the sort of wife that would go with the sort of life they’re aspiring to.  And here’s where it gets tricky, because Christian young men are taught to value modesty.  They don’t have to be taught to value beauty; it’s kind of built in.  A good Christian woman may or may not be pretty, but she must be modest.  That’s the kind of girl to keep an eye out for.  So the youth pastors and the parents and the mentors say.  But biology and Disney and pretty much ever commercial or TV show ever tells them that they should look for a woman who will make them happy.  And that, they soon discover, is far easier to feel when a woman is looking her best.  But guess what:  the good, modest Christian girls are so busy being modest that they’re not trying to be beautiful. 

A good Christian teenage girl is taught to consider her brother, and to esteem his needs and temptations.  Therefore, she must be careful to cover up.  No argument.  My revolution came when I realized that my Christian brothers needed the help of their sisters combining modesty with looking good.  It wasn’t fair to give them the impression – whether they were interested in me personally or not – that in order to choose a good woman, they had to sacrifice beauty.  It just wasn’t helpful to demand that men eschew every pretty women for one who looked like Mary Bailey, librarian, in the nightmare “what-if” of It’s A Wonderful Life: camouflage-like earth tones, hair pulled back into a tight pony tail, unadorned lips pressed together in a disapproving refusal to laugh.  It wasn’t edifying to try to redefine beauty as only having to do with the inside. 

Don’t get me wrong.  “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”  That’s advice given in the Bible to a man about what kind of woman is a good wife.  And men should absolutely be taught that.  Disney should be defied, with their lies that following your heart is the way to live, and that attraction is the way to know if she’s “the one”.  Attractions can and do change completely, or ebb and flow.  The lies are destructive not only to choosing spouses, but to staying married.  They lie about what marriage (and sex) even is about.  These things that I believe rather fiercely were all also at the forefront of my mind as I met this second revolution. 

I decided to change, to be way more intentional about how I look, to be competitive for the delight of little girls, to use my appearance to speak of my intentions to stand-offish abortion-minded women, and to make it easier for any man to believe that a woman can be good and pretty.  And if a man is supposed to love me, I don’t want to make it hard for him!  

I decided to do my Christian brothers and sisters (and hopefully myself) a service and give them something pleasant and non-seductive to look at.  If a good song or a lovely painting can be expressions of creativity designed to point attention to our beautiful God, then can’t the way we present ourselves communicate good things, too?  God made beauty, and attraction, and within appropriate limits, I wanted to represent those truths.  I tried to encourage my girl friends to think about these things.  Little girls I know are dazzled by jewelry, make-up, and pretty clothes.  I wanted to show them those things could be enjoyed without short skirts and revealing tops.  Their moms needed reinforcement that immodesty isn’t the exclusive manifestation of beauty.  Neither does one have to be unattractive to have good character.  I began wearing necklaces often, especially around little girls obsessed with sparkle.  I found clothes that fit and were sometimes even fashionable!  A while later, I noticed the actresses whose eyes and faces I liked the most wore subtle eye-liner, so I got some and figured out for the first time how to use that one kind of make-up, still not every day, but sometimes. 

It is still hard, to care but not too much.  It is a battle to allow myself to be attractive without worrying too much about being “all kinds of perfect” (until I can invite input from my own husband, whose opinion ought to count for a lot!)  I have to deal with a bit more unwanted attention.  To be honest, my wardrobe is more lax than it used to be: I own shorts and sleeveless tops, for example. 

Whether my ideas are “working” is hard to say, but I believe I’ve hit on some truths that are wroth responding to, however we do it. 

To God be all glory.