Saturday, August 27, 2011

On the subject of modesty:

I came across the letter below on the topic of modesty, written by a young man who didn't want his name used. It is so good, I have to re-post it. What a wise young man!

A Letter to the Girls I Know:

Dear Girls,

There are two kinds of men: Godly men, and worldly men. What kind of man do you want? I’m betting most of you said “a Godly man.” Someday, you want to marry a man who loves God with every fiber of his being because he will be an excellent husband and father. He will honor and be true only to you. Most women want a Godly man or at least think they do. Well, I think I have found a way to tell you exactly what kind of guy you will get. I don’t even have to know you! All I have to do is look at you. The kind of guy you want or will get is advertised by the clothing you wear. I know what men want. Trust me, I am a guy. I know more guys than you do and I know them better. I know what we think, what we talk about, what we want, and what we look for, and it is different for each one of us depending on our relationship with God. I’m sure you already know this, but men were created differently than you. We have different desires and priorities. Our eyes and minds react very differently to some things than yours do. It isn’t disgusting, perverted, or wrong; it is wonderful and good! It is how God made us. It’s how we handle these differences that separate a Godly man from a worldly man.

A worldly man doesn’t control himself, rather, he looks at anything that attracts his attention or gets him excited. A worldly guy has no problem when girls wear clothes that show off skin, like boxers, high or low-cut shirts, low-rise jeans, and “cute” little swim-suits. He’s a fan of tight-fitting shirts and pants that show off your form, he thinks they’re fine! Worldly guy watches a lot of TV and R-rated movies, isn’t really offended by sexual content or nudity and secretly dabbles in pornography. He’s a “Christian” and makes up a significant portion of your church and youth group. He’s a really nice guy and sees you mainly for your body. If you were to marry worldly guy, he’d bring lots of baggage into the relationship, have intimacy problems, entertain thoughts of other women, and possibly cheat on you.

A Godly man is in control of his drives and desires. He constantly seeks God and reads his Bible. He “walks in the Spirit” and isn’t set off by everything he sees. When immodestly-dressed girls, magazine covers, or risqué advertisements come into view, Godly guy quickly “bounces his eyes” away from the image. He’s constantly guarding his thoughts and what he allows into his mind. He hates being around girls that disrespect him and his struggles by wearing inappropriate attire. Godly guy doesn’t watch much TV and is selective about the movies he sees. He views you as a person, knows you and respects you. He has your best interests in mind and guards against inappropriate thoughts of you. If you were to marry Godly guy, he would give you the emotional attention you need, he would ignore other women and remain faithful to you no matter what.

Unfortunately, there are more worldly men than Godly men. And to make matters worse, to the untrained eye, a worldly man can look a lot like a Godly man. So what can you do to only attract a Godly man? An important way of delineating between them lies in how you dress. As mentioned before, the clothes you wear advertise what kind of guy you are looking for. If you dress immodestly, you will attract worldly guys and scare away the Godly ones. It all comes down to the kind of man you want to spend your time around and eventually marry. You cannot afford to be complacent in this area of your life! You will pay the price someday.

This issue isn’t limited strictly to you and your future relationship. The way you dress directly affects other men and women and their relationships. You don’t see the struggles, the pain, the tears and the sin that you cause, but I can promise that you would be shocked if you did! Ask any Christian young man; we’ve all seen it. It’s kept hidden but it is definitely there. By dressing immodestly, you effectually spit on the struggles of our weaker ranks, appearing to care more about toying with us than helping us. You’ll never know how many broken relationships and lifestyles of sin you’ve contributed to simply by the way you dress. You want to marry a Godly man someday, well so do many other women. Don’t just help yourself and your future, help all women and their relationships by showing discretion in your dress.

Of course, I understand the desire to look stylish, attractive, and “cute.” It’s important to fit in and get attention. Trust me, it can be done modestly! I also understand that it is easier for some girls to find stylish and well-fitting clothes than it is for others. This is an area where guys really don’t understand what you are up against. But just remember, for every sacrifice you make to honor God with your image, Godly men are making sacrifices in their lives that are just as hard, if not harder! They will and do respect you so much for choosing to be modest! A real lady is conscientious of the image she presents, and real men want a real lady. And you can forget about any guys missing out on how attractive you are because you don’t wear revealing clothing. You could wear a circus tent and we would still know; it’s a gift we have.

And so the question still remains: What kind of man do you want? Answer me with your clothes.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas

The sheer size of this book, 544 pages plus notes and errata, gave me pause. I am a wife and mother with all the daily busyness that implies, so I wondered how long it would take me to read such a thick book. I needn't have worried! From the very first pages when the reader is introduced to Bonhoeffer's illustrious forebears, the author grabs the reader's interest in such a way that this becomes a very hard book to put down.

I am not old enough to remember the Second World War or the tyranny of Hitler. Other than my horror at the atrocities committed against the Jewish people, and my mother's tales of rationing and hardship during the war years, I hadn't really given too much thought to that time period. This book is more than just a wonderful expose of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's life. For one thing, it may change your idea (as it did mine) that Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a martyr for his Christian principles. He was actually put to death for his part in an assassination plot against Adolph Hitler.

This book is also an excellent education in the history leading up to the Second World War, and the thinking of the German people during this time period. I especially appreciated the author presenting the religious climate of the time period and the religious influences on Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the generations that proceeded him in his family. I found it fascinating to know that the same community school that educated Bonhoeffer's mother and governess, Hernnhut, founded by Count Zinzendorf in the eighteenth century, was also a force in influencing the beliefs of Charles Wesley. Being aware of the connection between Boenhoffer and one of my most awe-inducing heroes in the Church, drew me so tightly into this biography. Historical background is woven into the story very skillfully so the reader almost feels present in that time, not separated by 60+ years.

The author notes that, even while having 5 members of daily household staff to help in caring for her home and family, Dietrich's mother thought it imperative that she teach her own 8 children herself for their first 7 or 8 years. As a homeschooling mother, this really spoke to my heart of the lasting impact that can come from the simple commitment of time spent teaching our children. I would like to incorporate the reading of this biography into our curriculum covering the war years and holocaust, but I will wait until the last years of high school to do so because of the harsh realities it contains. It was heart-wrenching for me to read as an adult, but I think that seeing the soul of such a good man and the hard choices he made so willingly, has been of great benefit to me. Boenhoffer's scholarly & personal commitment to standing for what is right is so inspirational, and speaks loudly of the impact that comes from one person's commitment to stand firm and act resolutely in his or her beliefs. The book gives such a personal look at what people faced in those years also.

The inclusion of many photos in the book and the many direct quotes from Bonhoeffer's own writings were an excellent aid in making the story accessible. The story is presented with a good deal of background & very skillfully written so as to cause the reader to become immersed in the book. Eric Metaxas is an incredible writer, to be able to take subject matter so hard and a person so scholarly, born over a hundred years ago, and write the story in a way that makes it personal, gripping, and very hard to put down.

I recommend this book heartily, to anyone who wants to learn more about Germany in the war years, or to learn more about a great hero who stood steadfastly for his Christian beliefs in the face of terrible, unfathomable evil. Reading this book will build your faith and vision. Bonhoeffer is both very educational and one that feels like it was time very well spent when you are finished reading.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising

Monday, August 1, 2011

Healing engaging collection of stories, perfect for summer reading!

Healing Hearts by Beth Wiseman

This book contains three separate novels within the one volume. They do not build on or relate to each other, but are stand-alone stories. I loved each of them. They are tender romances with enough conflict to keep the reader turning pages. I love that they are chaste and clean enough for me to read with a clean conscience and to share with my teenage daughter should she want to read them. I also really enjoyed the small amount of Pennsylvania Deutsche that the author included in the dialogue. It made the stories seem just that much more enjoyable and realistic. Each story has very well defined characters and a well-described setting, so the reader is immediately captivated and feeling a part of the culture and the storyline.
Incidentally, I learned an interesting fact in reading this book: Pennsylvania "Dutch" is actually a mispronounciation of Pennsylvania "Deutsche" or German. That makes so much more sense to me now. I had always wondered why the Amish dialect was called 'Dutch', yet actually seemed to be so similar to the German spoken by my parents and grandparents. Now I know, lol!

The first novella is A Choice to Forgive. It is a wonderful story of love, loss, and forgiveness. The main character, Lydia is left to raise her three children alone when her husband dies. Her first love, and former suiter, Daniel, drops back into her life, giving the story its drama, and, ultimately, giving the reader a wonderful glimpse of the healing power of forgiveness.

The second story in the book is A Change of Heart. This was perhaps my very favorite of all of the stories, although I did really love them all. In this story, Leah, the second of four sisters in an Amish family, is struggling with her own dreams of becoming a writer, which is not a traditionally accepted goal for an Amish woman. She is definitely the odd sister out in her family, and feels as though she comes up lacking when compared to her sisters. The story introduces a very colorful character in the person of Auntie Ruth. Leah finds herself becoming attracted to her soon-to-be brother-in-law, the great nephew of Auntie Ruth. It is a very engaging story; hard to put down!

The third novella in this book is Healing Hearts. It is a very touching and emotional story of Lavina Lapp. She is an older woman, mother of 5 grown children, who finds herself abandoned by her husband. It is a perhaps too emotional story of how Lavina struggles to find the trust to allow her husband back into her life and heart after the hurt he has caused her. I did really enjoy this story, too, but it pulls on the heart-strings a tad too much for me. As a married woman, it did give me a well-needed pause to consider if I am doing all that I can do to keep the love and romance alive in my marriage.

I wish is was possible to give this book a 4 1/2 star rating, but since the half star isn't possible, I am going to have to go with 4 stars. The stories were very uplifting and enjoyable, but were kept from being as good as they could have been by the slight predictability of the plots, the shortness and non-connectedness due to the stories being novellas, and the slightly over-emotional nature of the final story. All that said...I would certainly offer the book to a friend as an very pleasurable, quick read, and I am glad I read it myself. I love reading Amish stories. They have a way of making me see the simple beauty and blessings in my own life.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising