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]
Halloween has been a topic of controversy among Christians for centuries. There has simply never been complete agreement about whether it is acceptable for Christians to take part in this popular holiday. The argument both for and against it are many, and make it difficult for us to discern what side to take. Many that are against it continue to bring up the origins of the holiday as being blatantly evil, believing nothing good can come out of it. Those that are for it would say that it’s just harmless entertainment or thrills. How are we supposed to decide what is right?
I do not claim to be an expert or to have all the answers on this topic, but I have done my research. And although I know that there are blatantly evil aspects to this holiday, I believe there are ways for it to be redeemed for God’s glory. In order for this to happen, I do think we need to recognize the evil parts of this holiday for what they are and understand what Halloween is pointing to in its current content. Then we can discern what we can do about it.
The Icons of Halloween
There are a lot of iconic characters and symbols associated with Halloween that have developed over the years. While many of them are viewed as harmless or amusing, there is a danger in assuming them to be innocent. Most of these symbols and characters stand in contradiction to God’s truth. Don’t quite see it? Well, I’ve broken down several of them so you can see what I mean.
Zombies and Mummies
There are only a few instances in Scripture of people that has already died being raised to life again, but in all those cases, they came back fully alive, not in any undead state. Any other supernatural occurrence that would try to raise someone from the dead is outside of God’s will. It also seems to imply that God does not have the ultimate power over death if some other outside force can change it. It therefore makes the resurrection of Jesus less significant, when in truth, it’s the cornerstone of our faith and the reason for the hope we have. Therefore, anything undead should not be given any validity, even in fictional situations.
Ghosts and Spirits of the Dead
Under most circumstances I’ve observed, when people do have problems with evil spirits or exorcisms in this world, it’s at the hands of Satan himself, and is not something to be taken lightly. It’s one of Satan’s way of distorting this life and the next one when we live in fear of ghosts or evil spirits. Therefore, we must be cautious about using these characters as amusement.
Although these characters are completely fictitious, it is disturbing that our culture has been so fascinated with them, especially since they don’t have souls. I personally believe that God would never allow for such a creature to exist in the natural order, because He wants to give every single person who has lived and will ever live on this earth the choice to have that relationship with Him, and that’s a choice a vampire would never have. Therefore, I believe that it’s unwise to legitimize these characters.
I do think that if you can present monsters in non-threating ways either to reveal their perspective (like Monsters Inc.) or to illustrate a point in their monster state (like Beauty and the Beast), then that is safe for families and children. But the more common use of these creatures is for the sake of invoking fear in others, especially in children. I don’t think that is something that a Christian should participate in with a good conscience, which I will discuss a little more in a moment.
Skeletons and Bones
The use of these as a symbol of death neglects the fact that our skeletons are a part of God’s intelligent design for our bodies. He designed our bodies with incredible structure to give us the best ability to function. He designed our bones so well, they usually outlast the rest of our physical bodies after we die, and that’s pretty awesome when you think about it that way. Although it is true that “for dust you are and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19), I believe that we should not participate in mocking the way we are designed by the way we use or portray skeletons or bones.
Witches and Mediums
Some of the more recent portrays of witches have really been more like magicians as far as their magic is concerned, and this type isn’t necessarily inherently evil, but is also completely fictitious. (This is the type of magic I believe is portrayed in Wicked the Musical. If you want to read more about my perspective on this play specifically, click here.) In the end, the overall principle is that we should avoid honoring any witches/witchcraft that appears in any way to be connected with Satan or spirits of the dead, because that is what the Bible specifically condemns.
Blood and Gore
It is quite common to create situations on Halloween to scare someone or invoke fear into them for the sake of amusement or entertainment. But I don’t think this is healthy for Christians to be practicing, on Halloween or any day of the year. This is because fear separates us from God. It’s difficult for us to trust Him or to experience His love for us when there is fear present. Fear can drive us away from God completely if we let it. Therefore, fear is another of Satan’s great victories in our world, and is not something that we should be honoring in any way for this reason. We should not be participating in the game that Satan is trying to play with peoples’ souls. We have to learn how to discern when he’s playing it so we can overcome it.
I know this is a lot of information to process, but I hope that you see there’s a lot about Halloween that is not just fun and games. Not only is most of this stuff evil and used by Satan, but much of it stands in direct opposition of the way that God designed it to be.
The Positive Aspects of October 31st
Although much of what Halloween has become has shown itself to be not God-honoring, there are two aspects of October 31th that I think we should get back to in our culture, especially as Christians.
It was the day that Martin Luther nailed The Ninty-Five Theses on the door of the Wittenberg Church. In the end, it led to all the protestant churches we have today. When I was in college, we used to greet each other on Halloween by saying “Happy Reformation Day!” It was kind of a joke in some ways, but not completely.
As I look at these different things that happened on October 31, I have realize that they give us the opportunity to celebrate the opposite of what everyone else is celebrating on Halloween. While they celebrate death and fear, we can celebrate life and courage. Life can be celebrated because All Saint’s Day is a reminder that those that placed their life in Jesus Christ before they passed away are now more alive than they have ever been. We can also celebrate courage as it has been exhibited throughout church history. It took a whole lot of courage for Martin Luther and those who followed him to work towards reform in the church. It also brings to mind those in the past and present that have faced persecution and even martyrdom for the sake of Christ. They were not afraid of death, because they had the hope of salvation through Jesus Christ. It’s the love that compelled Christ to sacrifice Himself that will drive out all fear, if we choose hope and courage instead of darkness and despair.
What Should We Do About Halloween?
Although we have established that much of what Halloween represents is evil and of Satan, we are still left with the question of what we are to do in response to this truth. It is my personal opinion that it is unwise to completely reject and ignore the holiday. When we refuse to participate in Halloween, we miss an opportunity to be a light in the darkness of this holiday as well as be part of community. Even in the simple acts of kindness and hospitality that can come from passing out candy could become an open door to share Jesus with the children and their parents. And since it is a holiday, it’s an opportunity to spend time with your friends and/or family.
It is my personal opinion that the act of dressing up and giving away candy is not wrong! There is nothing inherently evil about this. When we dress up, we do need to remember to ask ourselves if our costumes are appropriate (like dressing up as a character we shouldn’t be honoring) and modest enough. If after you ask yourself those questions you can wear your costume with a clear conscience, then go for it! And again, passing out candy or participating in any sort of Halloween-type event/outreach is such a great opportunity to be a light in a dark world on a dark night.
I cannot answer the question “Is it OK to celebrate Halloween?" for you. I believe that this needs to be a personal conviction. I was not allowed to celebrate Halloween for most of my older childhood and teen years, and I respected my parents’ decision. When I got into college, I dressed up for parties for fun since I didn’t do it as much when I was a kid. But in the last few years, I have realized what an incredible opportunity it is to be involved in Halloween outreaches or help a busy mom with her kids on Halloween night. Aside from the fact that I love the costumes and candy as much as the kids, I also love the opportunity it provides to serve others and build relationships. These pictures are all examples of this. I participated in some sort of outreach or helped a family out every year for the last few years while wearing all these costumes, and I loved every minutes of it. The picture of me as Rapunzel is actually from one of those events, a trunk or treat for a church I attended in college. I love dressing for the kids as much as it is with the kids. I will never forget when a preschool age girl dressed as Cinderella saw me in my Rapunzel costume, and said with big wide eyes and a huge smile, "Hi Rapunzel, I'm Cinderella." It was the cutest thing ever! (Btw, I'm sure you notice a pattern with my costumes! lol)
I remember being very scared of Halloween decorations when I was a kid. In fact, I couldn’t even enter a party ware store in the month of October or go into the Halloween aisle at Walmart because there was just too much creepy stuff hanging up. Although I still don’t like the Halloween stores, I have had to learn to remember that Jesus has the power over death so that I don’t have to be afraid, on Halloween or any other day of the year. While the rest of the world is celebrating death and fear, we can remember the hope that we have in Jesus, who conquered death and whose perfect love drives our all fear.
This is a video from The Anima Series, which is perfect for remembering everything that opposes fear on a day that celebrates it. If you agree, think about sharing this video or this post on or before Halloween.
When I auditioned to be in KVTA’s production of Mary Poppins this summer, I don’t know if I could have possibly imagined the journey I was about to be a part of. I’d only been in shows while I was in college and had never had a chance to do anything with local theater otherwise. I didn’t know too many of the people involved. All I knew is that they were doing a show of one of my favorite movies and I wanted to be a part of it. I was also all the more determined to get in because my alma mater (Ozark Christian College) just did a production of Mary Poppins this spring that I wished I could have been a part of. When I discovered I made the cast at around midnight on Saturday June 20th, I squealed with excitement. (I fortunately didn’t wake up my mom and little sister, but my dad was up and asked me what was wrong! lol) Although I was unsure of what this experience would be like, I knew I was lucky to be a part of it. As I look back on the last few months, there is so much that stands out in my heart and mind to reflect on this incredible journey.
Being in Mary Poppins Was Hard Work
In order for such an iconic show to be done right and done well, we all knew that we had our work cut out for us. We knew the hours of rehearsals would get long and hard. We knew to we would get to the point that we would have to be at rehearsal every weeknight, and even had weekend promotional events. In fact, our chimney sweeps had to start rehearsals in July when we didn’t open until October! We knew that we would get tired and our feet would get sore. We knew what we signed up for when we committed to be in this play and it wasn’t going to be easy. My part was one of the smaller roles in the show, but I still knew going into this that this was going to be a lot of hard work, especially since I hadn’t been in a show since I graduated college.
But I think I can speak for all of our cast and crew when I say that it was all worth it. It was so incredible when we finally got to opening night to see and hear a full house reacting to all we had been working on for months. We were hearing so many stories of not only how much people enjoyed the production, but also how much this show touched them on a personal level. Mary Poppins holds a special place in so many of our hearts and seeing it being brought to life was a special experience for so many of our audience members. Being a part of bringing this to life was even more special for all of us involved. So although it wasn’t easy, all the work we put into bring this show to the stage was worth it in the end.
Being in Mary Poppins Formed Such A Great Community
When I started in this show, I probably only knew 4 or 5 people that I really didn’t talk to much that were involved in the show. I confess that I was so nervous about being in this show with so many people I didn’t know. I was afraid it was going to be difficult to befriend people, especially since I was not in too many scenes or dances numbers. And at first, it was a little strange when we were working on vocals to be sitting among people that I wanted to introduce myself to but couldn’t because we were working. I hoped that would change as time when on.
We all became a family in the time we spent together (in fact, most of us ended up spending more time with each other at rehearsals than we spent with our own families by the end! lol) At the end of the last show, it was definitely bittersweet to realize we would not all be together again after that night, but it also made me super grateful for all the time I did get to be with these wonderful people. I am still so grateful for each and every one of them.
Being in Mary Poppins Taught Us Great Lessons
There are so many great lessons within the story of stage version of Mary Poppins. Some are touched on in the film version but are not explored as much as they could be. Others were developed specifically for the stage version, but blend right into the original film. I just want to touch on my favorites.
“When will you learn to look past what you see?”
Honestly, I think this question could be asked of each and every one of us at some point in our lives. We all struggle to see past the end of our noses at times. But I think one of the most powerful lessons within the story of Mary Poppins is learning to have an awareness of the world around and learning to develop a sensitivity to the needs of others. It starts with the Bird Women and eventually comes full circle to the children being aware of their father’s needs. I was a women who snubbed off the Bird Women, but according to my backstory, I didn’t want to. I just went along with a fiancé. But it was such a great reminder that even when the world around us tells us to look out for ourselves as number one, we really do need to remember to look past what we see.
“I’ll fight for the man that needs freeing”
I love this line in one of Mrs. Banks’ songs. In the play version, she really struggles with figuring out what it meets to be Mrs. Banks, since it doesn’t seem to line up with what her husband seems to think. But by the second act, Winifred realizes that one of the most important things she can do as wife is fight for her husband by support him through whatever trials he faces. I think this should be true of any wife and is something I hope to remember when I get married someday.
Prioritizing your family
One of the great lesson in Mary Poppins is that you should always make family a priority. At the beginning of the show, George Banks is convinced that they should have a nanny because everyone in their class of society did and he believed it was the nanny’s responsibility to mold the children into the person they were meant to be when they grow up. The children are also very distant from their father. But by the end of the show, they realize that they all need each other, and they are made better because of it. George Banks realizes that he and his wife are responsible for molding their children's lives. That is Mary Poppins' main mission all along: to teach families this lesson, and it's such a powerful one to be learned in this day and age.
“Anything can happen if we only get out of our own way”
Although the more common quote from the show is “anything can happen if you let it,” I personally like this version of the quote better. It’s a reminder that many of us are afraid about venturing into the unknown by daring to try what we have been scared to pursue. Sometimes, our pride can also get in the way. But we are able to face that fear (or swallow our pride) and just do it, anything is possible. I often struggle with such fear or pride in my own life, but the song Anything Can Happen is such a great reminder that we are the ones that prevent us from taking the chance. I think we would all be make better people if we learned how to do this.
Being in Mary Poppins was a dream come true, not only because I got to be in a Disney musical (there was a reason the cast voted me as “Disney’s Biggest Fan”! lol), but I also got to be in a show with a theater company that I have been watching since I was a kid. I had wanted to be in one of KVTA’s shows for years, but the timing never worked out and I probably wouldn’t have made it before I received my vocal and theatrical training in college. But in the end, I am so proud to say that of all the shows I could have done with KVTA, Mary Poppins was my first. I will cherish the memories of this show and the people involved with it for years to come. We put on a pretty amazing show and together, we accomplished something so much bigger than ourselves. To me, that’s the best part of theater, when everything just comes together to its completion for the sum of the greater whole.
If they choose to read this, I want to thank my college drama director Mary for helping me find my presence both on and off the stage. I don’t think I could have made it into this show without the lessons I learned from you. I also want to thank my current director Paula for casting me in this great show and giving the privilege to be part of this special production. It meant so much to me and I am so grateful. Thanks to the rest of the cast and crew for being so friendly, encouraging, and such pleasant people to work with. You have all blessed my life more than you will ever know. I hope that the rest of you have the chance to be involved in something like a stage show or a group project like it in your own life. And remember to look past what you see, so you can get out of your own way.
Here’s a few more pictures. Enjoy!
This blog is now designated for my reviews of primarily Christian books, but also some movies and musicals. It will feature the work I do to help launch and promote the works of Christian authors I believe in their message. This will also be the place where I will update and promote the major of the projects of Princess Worth Dying For Ministries or my personal life.
The name is derived from one of my favorite books, Through the Eyes of a Lion by Levi Lusko. Through my reviews, I hope to give Christians the tools they need to look at the world "through the eyes of a lion" so they can find the courage to "run toward the roar".
To find the detailed archives for my reviews, please check the tabs under the "Lion's Eyes Reviews" on the main menu of this site.
Bethel Grove is a self-published Christian author, spoken word artist, and a graduate of Ozark Christian College trained in biblical exegesis and theological studies. She founded Princess Worth Dying For Ministries to proclaim the truth of the gospel, especially to the next generation, and to promote other authors and influences who do the same. She enjoys reading, writing, singing, and mentoring younger women.
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