It’s hard to believe that this year is finally drawing to a close. But then again, I find myself saying that at the end of every year! There have been a lot of good things that have happened this year. But what interesting about many of these good and awesome things as I look back on them is that I didn’t expect most of them to happen. If you had told me a year before that some of this stuff was going to happen, especially the things I became in charge of, I might have laughed at you or been uncertain that I could. But I am so grateful for each and every one of these experiences, as I know that many of them are shaping me into the person I am becoming.
Although I originally planned to do a “Top Ten” sort of list, what I discovered is that there were a couple of categories of events that repeated itself in different ways throughout the year. So this list contains ten of these categories, but under these categories there may be several different events listed. There are also some events that I have written about in more detail on different blog posts, so I will link those posts after I describe the event. This will give those of you that haven’t caught all of these stories a chance to catch up. This will also give details to a few events that I wanted to write about, but I either ran out of time or didn’t think there was enough detail to write a whole post about it. There are also not in any exact order or ranking. I hope that you are able to see how blessed this last year of my life has been. Here we go:
1) Writing and Directing The Door (An Easter Drama)
In January of last year, my dad (aka my church’s senior minister) asked me if I was interested in writing and directing an Easter drama for my church to be performed on Easter Sunday. I had only worked on writing small skits and hadn’t directed anything other than kid’s musicals, but I knew it was something I really wanted to do. When we started working on the script and trying to find a different angle for the Easter Story, it turned out to be about the resurrection appearances of Jesus that happened on the Sunday after He rose. We titled it The Door, which is referring to the fact that when Jesus first appeared among his disciples, he got into the room despite the fact the doors were locked. Although my dad did guide me and assisted some in writing the script, the rest of responsibility or delegation was left on me.
There were so many things about doing this drama that I enjoyed. Writing and researching for the script was one of my favorites. It was awesome to get into the accounts of the resurrection of Jesus and translate it into dialogue. I also enjoyed working with the actors. They were an enjoyable group of people to work with. They were also patient and understanding as I was trying to learn how to direct and block scenes properly. I also had a few people that helped with behind the scenes work that were awesome. I think I may write a little more detail about it around Easter this coming year, but this drama was such a great ministry opportunity that I enjoyed so much.
2) Summer Ministry Opportunities
I had two main ministry opportunities over this summer. The first was to work on worship planning with my friend Sarah. My dad approached us about planning worship services at the beginning of the summer, because it would give him a break from doing it and give us an opportunity to use our talents in that area. We loved the idea and enjoyed working with each other. I had worked with planning services with my dad as well as on my internship, but it was nice to work on planning with someone else. Plus, out of all the things I’ve been trained to do in music ministry, the planning of worship services is one of my favorite things to do.
The second opportunity was to be the music leader for our VBS program. For many years, it was my mom doing music with me as her assistant. But since my mom was Assistant Director this year, I was chosen to be in charge of music for the first time. I had the opportunity to work with a few junior high age girls as my helpers and we had a lot of fun. It was another great opportunity I was blessed to have.
I also had the chance to be involved in honoring my dad for his 15th anniversary at the church. They had a potluck for him and there were some notes and letters people had written to my dad that we had the chance to read out loud. It was a blessing to know how much my dad’s ministry has touched others’ lives. That’s part of my motivation for wanting to make ministry into a vocation someday. It was a very special day.
3) Event Planning
I was also given the opportunity to be in charge of two events at my church over this last year. The first was a free screening of the movie Ragamuffin, the film about the life of Rich Mullins. Although we didn’t have a ton of people come to this screening, it was a lot of fun to get to show a movie that not only impacted me, but has also impacted the lives of many others who have seen it. I was so blessed to be able to share it in this way.
[To read my review of the movie, click here]
I also got to be in charge of coordinating the Anima Series Tour. You may have already heard me talk about this event, but it was awesome that my church’s leadership not only granted permission for this event to happen at our building, but they trusted me to cover all the other details like advertising. It was much more involved than the movie screening and it was great challenge to put everything together and support one of my favorite YouTube channels in the process.
4) Being in Mary Poppins the Musical
I had the blessing of getting to be in the KVTA production of Mary Poppins this fall as a member of the adult ensemble in October. It was so much fun! I hadn’t had the chance to be in a theatrical production of that scale since college. It was also a Disney musical I've loved since I was a little girl. It was great production with such a fantastic cast. Everyone encouraged and supported each other in a special way. Being in Mary Poppins was an experience I won’t forget.
[To read more about my experience in Mary Poppins, click here]
5) Christmas Unwrapped
I also had the chance to be involved in my church’s Christmas production. In the past, we did a program we called Bethlehem Walk, in which we recreated a first-century marketplace and had a short nativity presentation. We decided that we needed to make some changes, so we created a new program called Christmas Unwrapped. We basically made the nativity presentation longer and more detailed, and then condensed the marketplace to just a few booths. We also inverted their locations in the building. We wanted the focus to be on the story of Jesus, and we felt this was a better way to do this.
In addition to being the youngest person on the leadership team, I was part of the nativity drama as singer in costume. I sang the song “Mary Did You Know?” just after they reveal the baby. Aside from enjoying the opportunity to perform this powerful song, it was also a small dream come true. You see, I’d watched my mom sing in the nativity presentation for Bethlehem Walk for years, which made me want to do the same. But I had not had the chance. It was either that someone was more qualified than me to sing, or I was away at college and couldn’t come home that weekend. I was so excited when it was finally decided that I would sing one of the two songs we had in the drama for Christmas Unwrapped. It was such a great experience.
6) Befriending Angela
Over this last year, I’ve had the privilege of making a close friend. At the time and stage I’m at in life, it’s hard to find friends that you are able to hang out with consistently. But I had the chance to get to know Angela over this last year and it has been such an awesome blessing to my life. Aside from our shared love of Disney, we also are at a similar place in our lives and have been able to encourage one another as we figure out what God wants for our futures.
[To read the story of how I met Angela, along with other funny stories of how other friendship started, click here]
7) Social Media Teams
Something I got to experience for the first time this year was being involved with social media teams. It was awesome to be involved with using social media for something constructive and getting to connect with new people along the way. Throughout the year, I was a part of three teams, all of which have blessed me in different ways.
Ragamuffins Street Team
This team was a little different from the other ones. Our primary purpose was to support and promote the upcoming film Brennan, about the life of Brennan Manning. This film is coming from the same people that made the film Ragamuffin that I mentioned earlier. In fact, that screening was done in promotion of the next film. It has been awesome to see what God has been doing as the filmmakers have been working on the movie Brennan. I can’t wait to see what will happen when this movie releases this year.
8) Meeting/Connecting With Famous People I Admire
As I have been looking back through this year, I have been surprised about how many people that I admire that I have met or connected with over this last year. I would consider them famous in my book, but then again I guess it depends on how you define fame. Anyway, here’s some of the stories of how it happened:
[To read more about the impact Dave's brother Rich Mullins has had on my life, click here]
[To read more about the story of how I met Jon, click here]
Dannah Gresh & Dr. Juli Slattery
Although I have still not met these ladies in person, I was blessed to connect with them through the book team for their book, Pulling Back the Shades. I’ve been a huge fan of Dannah’s books for a while, but I didn’t know much about Juli until I read the book. What I love about them both is that they are passionate about declaring God’s truth about sexuality and encouraging women to pursue God’s best through His plan for their sexuality. As part of the book team, I got to participate in two Google chats with them. I also interacted with them some on social media. A few weeks after our commitment on the book team was finished, my mom when to the Hearts at Home Convention where she not only met these two ladies, but she actually got to be Dannah’s speaker assistant! Although I was kind of bummed I didn’t get to meet them in person, I did get a few autographs out of the deal.
9) Writing More Spoken Word Poetry
Although I did publish my first spoken word poem on YouTube in 2014, I have had the opportunity to develop my skills as a spoken word poet with the release of two more poems in 2015. At the beginning of the year, I wouldn’t have called myself a spoken word poet. Aside from my one poem, I never intended to write another one. But when I found myself on the book team for Pulling Back the Shades, I felt the conviction to use this ability to bring awareness to the topics discussed in the book. As it turns out, it has been my most popular poem I’ve released so far, thanks to some of the members of the book team sharing it.
After this I still went several months without writing another one, until I remember a topic I was passionate about – modesty. I had done so much research on the subject and knew it so well that I knew I wanted to write a poem about it. It took me a few months to get around to filming it even after I wrote it, but it was so worth it to me. Although it still hasn’t gotten very many views, I know that for now, it’s important for me to be faithful in the little things.
After all this, I have started to think of myself as a spoken word poet. I hope and pray that God will be able to use this talent I’ve discovered for His glory in the future as I figure out the best way to use it for Him.
It’s hard to me to believe that I have been writing on this blog for a year now, and have written about 35 posts. Blogging and writing is something I’d wanted to do for a long time, but just never got around to doing it. But I finally came across a website builder I was happy with, I decided to start writing when I felt led to write. When I became a member of the Pulling Back the Shades book team last January, I started trying to publish a post every Friday. Although I haven’t always kept up with that, this did at least get me into some sort of routine. Now, I’m getting to the point where it feels like something is off if I go too long without writing something. This is something that I hope to keep doing for a long time to come.
There you have it. These were some of the highlights of my year. Of course there were other good things that have happened as well as bad things that have come to pass in 2015. But through it all, the Lord has been there with me, either blessing me directly or blessing me by being present in the difficult times. I hope this will be the same next year, and for every year as long as I live. I hope that all of you are able to find the same thing. I also hope that you might continue to share in my journey through life by reading my future blog posts or subscribing to my YouTube channel. I appreciate those of you that have. There are some good things to come in this next year, so stay tuned!
Happy New Year!
Some of you may be surprised to discover that this is not my first blog. In fact, there was a time when I was managing three blogs at once! Back in the days before Twitter or Facebook even existed, or even as Myspace was gaining popularity, the most popular "social media" site (although that term hadn't even been invented at that point) among my junior high and high school friends was Xanga, which was primarily for blogging. At first, I had one personal account, but then I was interested in being involved with some fandom groups. I ended up making two more accounts, one about my favorite music group of the time Jump5, and the other for The Lord of the Rings.
What was so interesting about what I did with those accounts though is that instead of just blogging about how much I loved these fandoms, I wanted to keep the focus on Jesus. My usernames on these accounts were Jump5lovesJesus and LOTR_LordofAllKings. I started to write devotional thoughts around lessons I’d learned from this film trilogy and music group. When I went back to these sites a few years ago, although I was kind of laughing at some of it, I was also surprised at how decent some of these devotions were. There were some pretty solid thoughts, considering I was 15 when I wrote them!
When it came to the LOTR ones, most of the thoughts were not totally unique to me, for a lot of LOTR devotional books have talked about things like Aragorn’s servant/king journey, or Sam’s loyalty to Frodo, or even the boundaries changed by the trans-racial friendship of Legolas and Gimli. But as I was looking through these old blog posts, one of them stood out as being the most unique thought I shared, which was a comparison of an LOTR character with a prominent character from the Christmas story. And this idea has stuck with me ever since.
How Frodo’s Story Relates to the Nativity Narrative
Frodo Baggins was shocked by everything Gandalf was telling him. He was only a Baggins of Bag End, a hobbit of the Shire. And it was just a simple Ring he had received as an heirloom from his Uncle Bilbo. Yet Gandalf told him that it was an instrument of absolute evil being sort out by the Dark Lord that created it. The Ring of Power, so it was called.
If something was not done soon, the life of peace his kin-folk had known in the Shire would be gone forever, and this evil would eventually take over all of Middle-Earth. Gandalf told him that those seeking the Ring would be coming for it very soon. So the Ring could not stay the Shire anymore, and Frodo was the most likely candidate to take it out of the Shire since he had the Ring in his possession.
Somehow, Frodo sensed that this task would be his to bear. Yes, he was afraid of what would lie ahead for him. He wondered why he was one that had this task fall into his lap. He wondered if he really could succeed with all this evil set against him. But somehow, he knew that this was something he needed to do. In the film version, when he comes to this realization, he takes hold of the Ring in his fist, and then he asks Gandalf a profound question without hesitation:
Gandalf did not want Frodo to go on this journey alone, so when he found Frodo’s gardener under the window outside the house, he told Sam that he was go with Frodo with the instructions to never leave Frodo.
Throughout the journey, Frodo is supported by Sam, but is also guided and comforted by those that had greater spiritual wisdom than he, like Gandalf and Lady Galadriel. Although he had no idea the amount of danger or the perils he would face, he knew that only he could complete this task, and he would be faithful to that task, no matter what.
How Mary’s Story Relates to The Lord of the Rings
Mary was shocked by everything the angel of the Lord was telling her. She was just a simple, ordinary girl from the town of Nazareth in Israel. She was just trying to live her life the way she should, as she was preparing for her marriage. Yet this angel told her that she was to bear the Son of God himself, even though she was a virgin and had never been with a man.
This child would not only be God’s son, but he would also be the Messiah that had been prophesied to redeem Israel for thousands of years. He would bring the salvation everyone had been hoping for. Not only did this not make any sense, but she also knew the way that this would look to everyone around her, including her fiancé. There was the possibility of facing a premarital divorce or public disgrace. She knew it would be impossible to convince others it was true.
Yet somehow, she sensed that this must be her task to bear. She wondered why she out of all other women had been chosen, but the angel told her that she was favored in God’s eyes. Yes, she was afraid of what the future would hold, but she realized that this was something she needed to do. After the angel told her how it was going to happen to her, she responds humbly without hesitation:
The Lord did not want Mary to go through this alone, so when her fiancé Joseph was ready to divorce her quietly, the Lord sent the angel to tell Joseph not to leave Mary.
For that point on, Joseph supported Mary, but also guided and comforted not only by those that had greater spiritual wisdom than she: not only the angel, but also her relative Elizabeth. Although it was not easy and she had no idea what the future would hold, she knew that this was the task God had given her to complete, and she would be faithful to the task, no matter what.
Similar Callings, Difference Responses
Although their stories and their tasks are very different from each other, it’s interesting to see how similar their callings are and the support they received along their journey. As I look at their responses, I see two different ways that we may be called to respond, depending on our situation.
Frodo was called to action. Something bad was going to happen and the clock was ticking. Although Gandalf didn’t directly tell him what he needed to do until he asked, Frodo understood from what he was told that something had to be done fast. Since the Ring was already in his possession, he was the most likely candidate to take the Ring out of the Shire. Eventually, when the Council of Elrond is trying to decide who would have the task of taking the Ring all the way to Mordor to be destroyed, he realized it had to be him. He declares that he will take the Ring to Mordor. When the Fellowship of the Ring is chosen, Boromir tells Frodo in the film, “You carry the fate of us all, little one.” But from the beginning, Frodo knew that he had to do something about it.
Mary was called to faith. The angel told her what was going to happen; she just had to be willing to accept the task she had been chosen for. She didn’t technically volunteer for the job, but she accepted God’s decision with the greatest of humility. She just had to let it happen to her. Once she was pregnant, she simply had to live out each day and each situation she found herself in by faith. No matter what she faced, she had faith that the Lord will fulfill every single promise He had made to her. She simply had to do what He asked. It would even mirror the decision her Son would make the night before He was crucified, when He told the Father, “Not my will, but your will be done.” They both needed to surrender to the Father’s plan, no matter what the cost.
I think that most situations we find ourselves in will require us to respond in faith, with action, or maybe both. But I find the examples given in these stories to be so striking. I feel like any of us should give one of those two responses any time God places something in front of us for our future. You probably won’t be called to destroy an evil ring in a volcano and you definitely won’t be called to bear a child as a virgin, but we will be called to action or faith throughout the circumstances in our lives. To ignore these callings is to ignore God’s best for your future. To accept will demand much, but will be more fulfilling that living our lives exclusively within our own plans. So next time you know God is calling you, remember these two responses:
What must I do?
Let it happen just as you say.
To conclude this post, I thought I would share a video I uploaded to my YouTube channel a few years ago that was inspired by my original blog post. Its clips from The Lord of the Rings to the song Breath of Heaven by Amy Grant. I think a few people thought this was a little strange when I first started sharing this, but those of you that have read my thoughts here will better understand the point I was trying to communicate.
Two lines worth paying attention to in regards to how they relate to Frodo’s story:
I am waiting in a silent prayer / I am frightened by the load I bear
Do you wonder as you watch my face / If a wiser one should of had my place
One more thing I almost forgot:
Merry Christmas and
Happy Incarnation Day!
The story I’m going to share is a powerful personal journey. It’s one that I am amazed to look back on and see all that God was doing through the last several years to bring to fruition. The story of how, in the midst of a difficult season of my life, God used it as an opportunity to reveal to me a powerful truth. I eventually came to be able to share this truth publicly and see the impact it has had on other women like me. It all came about because of the phrase “A Princess Worth Dying For” and the truth associated with it. My hopes is that the truth will be even more powerfully proclaimed as I share the story behind what became my first spoken word poem.
What This Phrase Means
This phrase is applicable to every women who has ever lived and ever will live. Not only is it applicable, it’s also true of each and every women. Unfortunately, there are too many women that don’t know it’s true. Or if they have been told in some way or another, they have totally forgotten or disregarded it, and instead chosen to find their value in men or man-made things. It really and truly does break my heart to think that so many of us have been deceived in this area. I think it’s one of Satan’s strongest footholds in our society today. I know it was a foothold in my own life, until I learned what this phrase really means. Two main points stand out about its deeper meaning.
First, every woman is a princess. Now, before some of you roll your eyes at this analogy, I want to take it in a little bit of a different direction than you have probably heard it used. I use the term "princess" not as indication of her status or even the way she should be treated, but as a gauge of her value. In our world today, there are few women that are considered more valuable and precious that queens, princesses, first ladies, and the wives or daughters of those in the highest authority positions. Especially with today’s modern security measures, they are guarded like they are of the greatest value. Their security guards would give up their lives in the defense of these women, because of how valuable their lives and their work are to the country over which they preside. That’s the kind of value all women have in God’s eyes. Every women is that valued and precious in His sight. They are meant to be cherished and protected. Although I do think the princess analogy can be misused, it is one of the best ways I can find to explain this truth when presented in this way.
Second, every women is worth dying for. Every woman wants to know that someone loves her enough to lay down his life for her. The problem is that most women think they are unworthy of that kind of sacrificial love, which is heart-breaking to me. They think the guys that are that genuine would never be interested in them. But in reality, this quality in a guy isn’t just meant to be like Prince Charming of our dreams, but it is really meant to be the standard for what men should strive for. In other words, a guy that willing to lay down his life for a women should be an expectation or requirement, not an elusive dream that can’t be achieved. Especially once a man and a woman are married, this sacrificial love should be the standard of the relationship.
The truth is that we have had a man that laid down His life for each and every one of us. His name is Jesus Christ. The place where we should find our value is at the foot of the cross, because that is where Jesus declared that in His eyes, you were worth dying for. Your value is something no one on this earth has the right to define, because it was already determined on the cross. Regardless of anything you have done or what has been done to you, anyone can find this value in the sacrifice of Jesus. All you have to do is accept it for yourself. Once I started to understand this phrase in this way, things were never the same.
Where It Started
By the fact you are reading this blog post, you can probably assume that I like to write. Although it is true that I had only been blogging a little less than a year at the time I'm writing this, I have been writing in other ways for so much longer. But one of my greatest writing projects I’ve ever completed has, for the most part, never seen the light of day, and that’s because it’s a Lord of the Rings Fanfiction. I have essentially completed a sequel to LOTR that took me about 12 years to write. Really the only ones that know my story very well are those that have read my story on Fanfiction.net or on YouTube. There are several other friends in my life that know about my book, but haven’t necessarily read it. Some of these friends have asked me why I have been so determined to finish this book that I knew I'd never be able to publish. I think that what I'm about to tell you will explain the answer to this question.
One of the reasons I kept writing is because it was such a fun and creative way to write about the lessons I was learning in my own life while I was writing. I started to write this book around the same time that I made the decision to commit my life to Christ and be baptized. Because of this, the book became a reflection of my spiritual journey, especially in the life of my heroine. When I came to a time in my life when I was struggling with my self-esteem during college, I wrote this conflict into her life as well. Her struggle was so deep that when her best friend (King Aragorn’s son Eldarion) confesses his love for her and says he would die for her, she initially can’t even comprehend the feelings as true. She had gotten to the point where all she could see was the opinions others had of her.
One day in fall 2012 (probably September or October), as I was working on my book, I was specifically focused on this scene and struggling with finding the right words for Eldarion to break through her mental barrier and prove he loved her. Whatever I had previously written simply wasn’t working. But suddenly, out of nowhere it seemed, this line popped into my head:
“No matter what anyone has ever said, you are my princess…a princess worth dying for.”
I typed it out and stared at it on my laptop screen for a couple of minutes. I realized what a powerful truth it was, both within the context of this fictional story, and in my own life as it related to the powerful truth about Jesus’ love for me. This single line was what in the end sold this scene to me and to the few people that have read my book. And funny thing was, as much as I wanted to develop other parts of my story, I kept coming back to that scene again and again just to reread that passage. The lines surrounded this one expanded over time, but this line was the essence of what drove the scene. Sometimes, just reading it on the page makes me cry.
[If anyone is by any chance interested in reading my fanfiction online, click here. The scene I described here is in chapter 16]
Interesting thing was that for some reason, this line and the powerful truth behind it just wouldn’t go away. I was usually able to put my story away and not be thinking about it all the time, but that scene just wouldn’t go away in my mind. The connections to my understanding of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross continued to get stronger over time. I eventually realized that this was a truth I wanted to maybe share with other women someday, but I wondered how I could, since the situation with sharing my fanfiction was complicated. Then, I figured out a small way to do it.
Fast forwarding to the next semester (Spring 2013), I was in a class affectionately called “chick preaching” (Biblical Communications for Women) and had to write a topical sermon. I decided to tackle the topic of modesty and as I mentioned in last week's blog post, this is a topic that is not only close of my heart, but also very directly connected to a woman’s understanding of her value. If you really believe that Jesus died for you, you are going to dress that you believe you are redeemed by the blood of Christ. As I wrote this into my sermon, my special phrase “a princess worth dying for” fell onto my heart again, and I realized that this was the perfect opportunity to share it. When the girls I shared the sermon with told me how much they appreciated what I had to say, I sensed that this was just the beginning of this powerful message.
When I Wrote the Poem
Some of you that read my post about meeting Jon Jorgenson have already heard this part of the story, but I'm going to share part of it again to illustrate the whole journey. As I mentioned in that post, although God was at work in my life during this time, I was in such a strange place mentally, emotionally, and spiritual during this whole time I was just describing. Although I knew this special phrase, I was still having a hard time accepting it. Just after I shared this sermon, a few things happened that made my singleness stand out, and I started to struggle with understanding why my relationship status has never changed. For several months, this struggle was always in the back of my mind, even as I entered my last on-campus semester of college. It was to the point that I had almost forgotten about my special phrase. Then in October 2013, someone on my dorm floor shared this video, which made me stop dead in my tracks.
The truths declared in this video are so powerful. For me, it was a reminder of not only how valued I am in God’s eyes, but also that I am capable of doing the things that I have been called to do, and that when I do, I can help bring change to our broken world. In the weeks that followed, I started making some changes in my life that needed to be made, especially in regards to my view of myself. I finally got to a point where I was healed from some hurts I had in relation to both my singleness and even my body image. It felt like I had literally been freed from a burden that had been weighting down on my heart for about two years. Even as I was on my knees praising God in tears of joy, my special phrase, “a princess worth dying for” fell upon my heart again. Suddenly, something clicked in my head to help me understand the fullness of what this phrase meant. The inspiration and most of the words of my poem flooded my mind over the course of a few days and I wrote them down on my document on my computer. It was crazy to see how fast the inspiration came, considering I’d never written a piece like that, but I also felt like God was giving me the words to say.
For that point on, this phrase really did start to become a sort of catch phrase. A little later in the semester, the girls on my floor were encouraged to make a two sided sign out of cardboard, one side having a phrase about your old life or struggles, and the other side about your new life in Christ or personal victories. It wasn’t hard for me to figure out what mine would say. The back said “Not Good Enough” and the front said “A Princess Worth Dying For.” We shared this signs with each other at our weekly dorm floor devotions. It really did feel like a moment of personal triumph when I showed the girls my sign and they applauded for me. It was a very special moment.
I thought that my poem was good, but I hesitated to widely share it at first. I decided to share it with a few of my college friends by asking them to read it and see what they thought. Even from the five or so friends I shared it with at the time, the response was so positive. I even had one friend that shared it on her blog. But beyond that semester, I kind of put the poem away for a while. I did pull it out on occasion and make a few revisions to it, but I didn’t try to share it again for quite some time.
When I Made the Video
About a year later, I was teaching a junior high girls Bible study on modesty, my poem came back to my mind. I thought about turning it into a video, but I was a little hesitant at first. Although I do enjoy video making, I didn’t have great video equipment and had no experience making that kind of video. But I couldn’t help but feel I needed to do it. I did want to share this message, especially with the girls of my Bible study. So in the end, I made to decision to go for it. I recorded this video in the same room where I did the teaching for the Bible study in my church building. In hindsight, it wasn’t the fanciest video I could have made, but for the resources I had at hand and the fact I made it by myself, it was good. I felt like I was faithful to what I was called to do with what I had.
[If you have never watched this video, please do!]
When I shared this video, the girls were so sweet about how much they liked it. Because I filmed it in the room I taught the girls in, I left the cross from the end of the video on the wall and used it as a prayer station for a prayer/reflection time I did with the girls after I showed them the video. At the end of the night, I also gave each girl a white stone with their name on one side, and on the other side it said, “A Princess Worth Dying For”
A couple of days later, I uploaded the video on YouTube and started to share it on my social media. Although it is not my most viewed video, I know that those that have viewed it have been touched. The share and comments I have gotten from people have been amazing. It is rather incredible to think how writing this poem about my personal experience has become such a powerful tool to help women see their value. It was in part from this reaction that I decided to seek out other opportunities to do more spoken word poetry on my YouTube channel. It all started with a short but simple phrase that taught me about my value in God’s eyes.
As I look back on this personal journey, I am still in awe of the powerful lesson God taught me and how I have been able to share it with others. As the time I am writing this, this video only has about 250 views, but I know it has made an impact in the lives of the few that have seen it. It’s awesome to see the impression it has left on the last few years of my own life. It has become one of the truths that I am most passionate about sharing with others. As I said earlier, this really has become a sort of catch phrase. Even as I was recently updating my bio on my social media sites, this was what ended up coming to my mind.
This really does describe me and my heart in so many ways, and I want to spend the rest of my life declaring that I worship the Living God because I am a Princess Worth Dying For. I hope that some of you have found inspiration in this story. If you have, please consider share this blog post or the video itself with someone that you think needs to hear it. If you are into the hashtag thing, use #princessworthdyingfor when you share. Let’s see how many women will believe this truth for themselves.
A Quick Update
Because this video and poem are so close to my heart, I have always wanted to reach as many people as possible with its message. For this reason, I took the opportunity to recreate this video. With the help of a friend that had the right video equipment, I was able to make the quality of video I wanted to make in the first place. I am adding this tag to this blog post the day I am releasing the new video, so I am not sure how well this new version will do. But I am hoping that no matter the outcome, I am being faithful with the little opportunities he places in front of me. And again, consider sharing the blog post or this video with the hashtag #princessworthdyingfor
It all started when I was in junior high. Since I was in a private Christian school, we often had talks about remembering school rules like the dress code. This usually didn’t bother me too much since I have always been conservative in the way I dress. But I will never forget one of these modesty discussions because of one of the comments made by my teacher. Mrs. Giles was probably my favorite teacher I have ever had, and this comment illustrates one of the reasons why. She told us in her southern Alabaman accent,
“Remember girls, as Gandalf said in The Lord of the Rings,
‘Keep it secret, keep it safe.”
Needless to say, we all laughed so hard! And almost any time I tell this story today, people still laugh. In the end, although this was definitely meant to be humorous, it also made a powerful point. When Gandalf told Frodo this, Frodo had no idea what the Ring was, the power it had, or the potential danger it posed for him to have it in his possession. For that matter, Gandalf was not entirely sure himself, but until he had the chance to find out, Frodo could not take any chances. Gandalf instructed him to keep the Ring hidden (not telling anyone he had it) and to guard it securely (making sure no one could steal it) until they knew the truth about it.
As I got older, I began to appreciate this analogy for modesty more and more. Men and women alike have also been given a power, although it isn’t from a gold ring. This is the power to attract attention to our bodies in the way that we present ourselves. The problem is most of us either are unaware of the how great this power is or we use our knowledge of this power to bring the attention to ourselves. But I also think that our misunderstanding of the biblical perspective on this topic has provided much disdain for it that needs to chance in the church. Modesty is about so much more than what we wear; it’s a lifestyle that reveals a humility of the heart and the spirit through our attitude and our actions.
After I began to understand this, I became quite passionate about this topic and have come to do much research over the last few years of my life. Although I had always been aware of needing to dress modestly, I began to desire to understand why I should, and I eventually came to realize that modesty is not just about your wardrobe; it's a lifestyle of humility that is usually reflected by your wardrobe. I want to walk you through my understanding of what biblical modesty looks like, how to live that out in our world today, and some of the stories of how I came to discover these truths for myself. Because most of the discussions associated with this topic are directed at women, I am assuming they will be my main audience for this post. But I think men should also read this to not only understand what women struggle with in this area, but also to see if any of these truths can also apply to you. I think you will all be surprised. These are the three qualities that I believe lead to a lifestyle of modesty.
Assurance In Our Value
When I see a young women dressed immodestly, my first thought is that her understanding of her value and worth as a human being is messed up, because it obviously isn’t coming from the right source. When a girl dresses that way, she is communicating that the attention she get from the way she present yourself is the where she find her worth. If she doesn’t get the attention she wants, she doesn’t feel affirmed and will often go to greater extremes to regain that affirmation. There is something wrong with her understanding of the way God sees her. She either doesn’t know how valued she is in God’s eyes, or she's been told but then forgot her value in God’s eyes, or she has chosen to disregard the value she has in God’s eyes. These paths usually result in a women seeking human approval for the worth they already have in God’s eyes. As a Christian young woman, my ultimate reason for dressing modesty is my understanding of my value, and it comes from what Jesus did for me on the cross.
Let me illustrate. Have you ever watched a movie where the guy gave up his life for the guy? Those are some of the worst tearjerkers, right? That’s because in watching those moments on screen, we can't help but desire that for ourselves. We see how pure and true that man’s love is and we can’t help but think, I wish I had a guy that loved me that much.
Well ladies, I have good news for you – you do have someone that loves you that much. His name is Jesus Christ. Not only is His love so deep that He is willing to lay down His life for you, but he actually did lay down His life for you. Have you ever let that truth sink in? Jesus died for you. Coming to understand this fully will literally change your perspective of yourself and everyone around you.
What does this have to do with modesty? Well, if you really believe that Jesus died for you, you natural response is going to be to live your life in gratitude for that sacrifice. You are going to want to obey God’s instructions for your life not because you’re obligated, but because you are genuinely grateful for His sacrifice. 1 Corinthians 6 19b-20 reminds us:
“You are not your own; you were brought with a price. Therefore, honor God with your body.”
If we remember we were brought with a price, our natural conclusion will be in honor God with what we choose to do with our bodies, and that definitely includes how we dress. We need to teach this generation of Christian young women how to dress like they believe they are redeemed by the blood of the One that loved us enough to die for their sins. I think that’s a value lesson for all of us to learn.
An Attitude of Humility and Grace
Attitude is everything when it comes to modesty. In addition to communicating that she has a misunderstanding of her value, a young women dressed immodestly is also communicating that she has a bad attitude that ultimately represents that her heart is in the wrong place. Whether it be selfishness or anger or something else, they is something wrong with the condition of her heart. You can absolutely see that based on what clothes she is wearing. Most of us don’t think of that, but it’s true. Your clothing (or lack thereof) reflects the condition of your heart. What makes this interesting is that there can actually be occasions when a woman may be appropriately dressed, but is being immodest in her attitude by arrogant or pride, like when she dresses in such a way to outshine everyone else on purpose. Either way, the way you present yourself on the outside will represent where your heart is on the inside.
I feel like most of the direct references to the concept of modesty in the Bible are difficult for us to understand, because there were speaking to a different time and place. But I found this video of David Platt (author of the book Radical) breaking down these cultural references in the best way I’ve ever heard 1 Timothy 2:9-10 explained. This video is totally worth taking the time to watch.
When we are properly living out a lifestyle of modesty, we are reflecting an attitude of humility that worships God with our life and demonstrates God’s grace through good works. We will be living our lives as an act of worship and not have the desire to draw unnecessary attention to ourselves. I love what Platt said at the end of the video when he said,
“Let us raise us women across this church that get us every day, including Sunday, thinking humbly, ‘How can I dress today and what can I do today that will draw the most attention to the glory of my God?’ That’s not easy in today’s culture. That’s totally against the grain.”
When we do the opposite, choosing to draw attention to ourselves instead, we are taking attention away from God. One of my favorite authors on the topic of modesty, Dannah Gresh, put it this way in an interview.
“Any time we dressed immodestly...we’re bringing glory to ourselves. I think that’s the greatest sin of immodesty, is that we’re saying ‘Look at me’ instead of saying ‘Look at God.’”
David Platt also said in that video,
“Remember the One you are competing with for attention.”
Now I don’t think this means that we need to dress frumpy, dumpy, and out of fashion, but that does mean that our attempts to present ourselves well should never compromise your witness or distract anyone from seeing the God you profess to worship, as it is reflected in your attitude and your actions. If anything in your wardrobe hinders this, then you probably need to think twice before you wear it.
This is a slideshow from when I taught a Jr. High girls Bible study at my church last fall on this topic. We used Dannah Gresh's book, The Secret Keeper: The Delicate Power of Modesty. I learned so much about modesty as I did my research for these lessons, as well as teaching the girls in general. Aside from the fun pictures of our time together, there are some references to videos I used with the lessons as well as a song in the background that reflect what I believe the concept of modesty to be all about. It’s called Don’t Look At Me by Stacie Orrico. I think the lyrics speak for themselves.
Awareness of Our Secret
In addition to having assurance in our value and an attitude of humility, we must also develop an awareness of the logistical reasons for dressing modestly. This is the part of the conversation where most of you would expect me to pull out the “causing our brothers to stumble” argument, which personally drives me nuts. Although we should not desire to cause anyone to stumble, I think that is false motivation. Returning to the Frodo-Gandalf story, Frodo had absolutely no idea how powerful the Ring was or why he needed to keep it secretly secure until Gandalf returned. When Gandalf educated Frodo on all he learned about the Ring, Frodo became aware of the threat the Ring posed on the Shire and knew what he needed to do to keep that power out of the wrong hands. But it wasn’t until Gandalf told him that he was aware of the power that was in his possession.
The same is true of our physical beauty and our bodies. Most of us are really rather unaware of how powerful we are in regards to our sexuality, or at least how special that power is. The truth is that God designed human bodies to be attractive, specifically to the opposite gender. Dannah Gresh terms this ability as the power of allure. It's pretty incredible to think that God designed our bodies that way. There’s actually a verse in Proverbs that illustrates that a woman has the ability to intoxicate a man by her sexuality. That’s pretty strong language! Although a lot of people don’t necessarily equate immodesty with sexual immorality, they are very much connected to each other. As a Christian woman, my goal should be to dress myself in such a way as to save the deepest secret of my beauty for just one man. Anything outside of that will separate me from God and keep me from His better plan for my life.
Unfortunately, it is also true that there are many that know the power their bodies have and choose to use that to their advantage to get attention and have control in their situation. But as I said earlier, if you really believe that Jesus died for you, your natural response is going to be to desire to obey God’s guidelines for the way we dress out of gratitude. Yielding our wardrobes to Him will come naturally if we choose to think of it in this way. If that’s not the case, then your heart is not in the right place about it.
The way that I believe we should view this power is as an incredible gift from God. If we really believe that we are valued in God’s eyes, I think we should believe that our sexuality is a special gift, one that is taken for granted in our culture today. Although it is not something to be ashamed of, there is a right time and a right place to use it – and that’s within the context of marriage between a man and a woman. Revealing anything that was only meant to be for your husband’s eyes cheats him and yourself out of the full beauty of this special gift. We would all be a whole lot better off if we began to see it that way.
I’ve have been led on an incredible personal journey that led me to understand modesty in this way. From writing and delivering a sermon on modesty, to teaching a Bible study about it, to writing a spoken word poem on the topic, God has developed a passion within me to declare the truth on this subject. I may even write more about it in the future, but for now I feel like the poem I completed this summer is the best way to summarize my conclusions. If you have found anything I’ve said in this post to be inspiring, please consider sharing this video, for it hasn't gotten very much response. [There is also a link to my modesty sermon at the end of the video if you are interested]
“Now, I’m not going to give you a list of fashion do’s and don’t
Because if I ask you to go through your closet, you probably won’t
But I will ask you a question with wisdom I need to impart:
What does your clothing reveal about the condition of your heart?”
For the second time this month, I got to meet someone famous that I admire. This week, I got to meet one of my favorite YouTubers and authors, Jeff Bethke. He’s such a great guy with an incredible story of God’s grace at work in his life. Although he didn’t always follow Jesus with a relationship, God eventually got a hold of his heart while he was in college. A few years later, Jeff became famous when his spoken word poem, “Why I Hate Jesus But Love Jesus” went viral.
Since then, he has been able to make a career out of creating videos for his YouTube channel and has also authored two books: Jesus > Religion (inspired by his viral poem) and It’s Not What You Think (for which I am on the launch team). Those of you that follow me on social media know that I am a big fan of Jeff and have been following his work for about three years now. He has challenged me and inspired me in so many ways. In fact, he is the reason that I got interested in spoken word poetry and eventually came to become a spoken word artist in my own right. [Link to my spoken word playlist at the end of this post]
Needless to say, when I found out he was going to be at Olivet Nazarene University for both their chapel services this week (which is very close to my hometown), I was so excited! Jeff delivered a great message from Luke 15 about the prodigal son on Wednesday October 28, and then I waited in line with dozens of college students to meet him. When it was my turn and I told him my name, he remembered me from my review of his new book. He thanked me for my review and work on the book team, which was pretty awesome to hear from the author of the book himself. He signed both of my books and then I got a picture with him.
He said that it was nice to meet me, a feeling which was quite mutual. He even replied to my tweet of our picture later than day. He also delivered a great message on Thursday October 29 about bringing the kingdom in the here and now by being ministers of reconciliation in our world today. It was both encouraging and inspiring.
It’s so crazy to think that within only a few weeks’ time, I managed to meet both of my favorite YouTubers. Those of you that follow me also know that I met Jon Jorgenson of The Anima Series on October 13. I have so much admiration and respect for these two men, for their work has touched my life in so many ways, even before I ever thought I’d have the chance to meet them in person. I honestly don’t know what kind of person I would be without the challenges they left me and the inspiration they have given me over the time in which I followed their work. But as I have been thinking about how much I admire Jon and Jeff, I started to think about my perception of them verses the way that I used to view those that I admired from afar on the internet. My view has come a long way from where it used to be. Let me explain.
Where It All Started
I tend to have personality that my friends would call passionate and my enemies might call obsessive. If I like something and I see it as worthwhile, I’m going to put my whole heart into my interest and investment in it. In the case of my faith or things like social injustice, this trait is to my benefit. But throughout junior high, high school, and even through most of college, I tended to find myself devoting too much time to things that should have merely been hobbies or personal interests. This also tended to be the case with celebrities that I admired.
Through my last year of high school and my first two years of college, I was obsessed in the Jonas Brothers (*cough, cough*). I admired Joe, Nick, and Kevin so much, I got to point where I wanted to be like them and wanted to date Joe (*cough, cough*). Most people would say that I called them my role models. I spent way too much time on my computer and social media following them or watching videos of them. I would bet anything on their character and believed that they would never do anything that bad morally, especially in public.
I got to the point where I was passionately defending them for their faith, their character, and specifically their purity. I did this by making a series of YouTube videos that were supposed to give evidence of their faith, and also by arguing with anyone that disagreed with me on these videos’ comments. In fact, if you Google or YouTube search “Jonas Brothers Christians,” several of my videos are still leading that search. (I will explain more of the story of my YouTube channel in a future post) However, I now know that this was not the wisest use for my time and indicated that my heart was not in the right place about the situation. For the longest time, I was so sure that the Jonas Brothers would not disappoint me.
The Lesson Learned
Just after I came out of my JB-obsessed phrase, Joe and Nick Jonas started to slowly but surely prove me wrong. Eventually, the truth came out about why they stopped wearing their purity rings and how they struggled with their connection to the church after some issues their dad had faced in their childhood. They showed no regret or remorse for backing down on the faith they once professed, and slowed morphed into what the rest of the world was expecting them to become. I will never forget finding the article were Joe Jonas confessed that he was no longer a virgin in December 2013. Although I was no longer emotionally attached to them, I remember how sorry I felt for how lost Joe was, and how annoyed I was with myself for believing in them and defending them as avidly and incessantly as I did. But in that moment, I realized a powerful truth that has stuck with me ever since.
The definition of a role model is “a person looked to by others as an example to be imitated.” When I started to think about it, no one that we encounter in this life is ever going to be a perfect role model. There is no one living on this earth that is really worth imitating their every move and character trait. It was crazy for me to believe that any person could live up to that expectation, especially when they are under pressure to be a role model like those guys were back then. Each and every one of the people that we would ever try to emulate will disappoint us – except one. That one is Jesus Christ. He is the only example we can ever try to emulate that will never disappoint us. As one of my favorite songs puts it, “He’s the One who lived a perfect life/He’s the One that always gets it right/He’s the One and only Guiding Light/ Oh yeah.” [Don’t Look at Me by Stacie Orrico] This is so true.
My grandpa (my mom’s dad) passed away a month before I was born, but there is something he said many times to my mom that I think applies. He told her,
“Kathy, people in this world will let you down. Everyone will let you down. Even I will let down. But Jesus is the only one who will never let you down.”
Although I never met my grandpa, I clung (and continue to cling) to these words of wisdom as I realized that I needed to rethink the way that I admire those I look up to. In the end, the Jonas Brothers let me down and disappointed me with the choices they made for their lives and careers. But because of them, I now know what it means to look to Jesus as my ultimate example of how to love God and love others every day of my life. That’s more valuable than a retweet or an autograph any day.
What Changed After That
By the time Joe Jonas’ story came out, I had been following Jeff’s work for almost a year and I just started following the Anima Series a few months before. But because of my lack of success in interacting with the Jonas Brothers online, any hopes I had of getting any celebrity or famous person I admired to notice me on social media was gone. The people I liked simply did not have the time to notice me on the Internet, and especially not in person. Or that’s at least what I thought. But in the end, Jon and Jeff both proved me wrong.
Some of you that read my post about Jon [link at the end of this post] know that Jon and I came to have an online connection before it finally worked out for us to meet in person. Jon actually took time to answer my emails and give me feedback on my art, which totally blew me away (and still does). With Jeff, I only recently connected with him through being on his book launch team, but it was even more awesome to have made that connection with him since he’s even more famous than Jon. He responded to a couple of my posts on the book team’s Facebook group and even read my review of his book [link at the end of the post]. I was also blown away that Jeff would take the time to respond to our reviews and our comments.
When it finally came down to meeting these guys, it was like I already knew them because I was so familiar with their work and their life stories. They both knew who I was, and they were so sweet and appreciative of what I’ve done for them (for Jon’s tour show and Jeff’s book team). They even both told me that they enjoyed meeting me. I was humbled by their acknowledgements of what I’ve done for them, because they have both done so much for me. I simply felt like I was returning the favor.
Because of what happened with the Jonas Brothers, I have stopped using the term role model, especially about celebrities and famous people. I stopped searching to imitate a whole person and have instead chosen to look for individual traits within a person that I wanted to aspire to. It’s a smarter way to better yourself, because you can admire people for their strengths without rejecting them for the weaknesses. One of the common traits both Jon and Jeff share is that they are honest about their weaknesses and past struggles. That makes it easier to admire someone’s strengths when they are willing to admit they aren’t perfect or they don’t have all the answers.
Now that I’ve met Jon Jorgenson and Jeff Bethke in person, I admire and respect them more than I did before. I hope that everyone can find people like this in your own life to admire, all the while remembering to follow Christ as our ultimate example of how to become a mature and complete person. “He’s the one that always gets it right,” and His example will never fail us.
[To read my review of Jeff’s new book, It’s Not What You Think, click here]
[To read my story about meeting Jon Jorgenson and The Anima Series Tour, click here]
[To read my brief reviews of Jeff’s other book & Jon’s first two books on my favorite Christian books list, click here]
[If you are interested in checking out my spoken word poems on YouTube, click here]