When I first heard that sisters Kristen and Bethany were releasing another book, I was so excited. Since I was on the launch team for their first book, Girl Defined, I knew that this was a book I did not want to miss. I was excited to be accepted onto the launch team for this book as well. Although recent circumstances in my life prevented me from being prepared for the book’s launch day on May 1, I was so compelled when I finally got around to listening to the audiobook version. I basically listened to it straight through. When it comes to explaining the ins and out of singleness, marriage, and everything that comes in between, these sisters have you covered. I once again enjoyed the balanced perspectives of Kristen, who’s married, and Bethany, who was single at the time of writing the book. They are very understandable and relatable in their writing style and in their desire to help women everywhere to pursue God’s plan for finding lasting love. This is a book I would highly recommend ~ Bethel
The methods that our culture tries to present us for finding and maintaining lasting relationships are not working. Everything from infatuation disguised as love to sex before marriage to everything magically working itself out in marriage, Hollywood has tried to convince us this is the recipe for success and societal acceptance. But when you look carefully at the lives of those pursuing those methods, their lives are less than perfect. In fact, the statistics for divorce, abortion, and STDs are higher than ever before, but society won’t admit it because their methods are working. They continues to deceive us into a vicious cycle of infatuation and feelings that always results in our hearts getting broken, but we always go back to the same method. It leads many women to ask the question: How can I pursue God honoring relationships with guy, regardless of what season of life I’m in?
In their book Love Defined, sisters Kristen Clark and Bethany Baird of Girl Defined Ministries help us discover the ways that we can pursue God-honoring relationships that led to God-honoring marriages, all while giving hope that God has a plan and purpose for those of us that are single. They help us identify our culture’s “fairytale façade” and “Merry-Go-Round” method for satisfying relationships. They lead you to see that following these methods will result in disappointment and brokenness if we continue to rely on them. Instead, they offer a perspective on love, sex, and romance that is radically fresh and truly fulfilling when compared to our culture’s methods. To counter our culture’s methods, they offer a method to approach relationships that puts God in the center and won’t leave you broken, even if it doesn’t work out. Bethany also takes time to watch through the struggles of singleness, but offer advice on how to live your single years well while learning to be satisfied in Jesus. Kristen also walks through her relationship with her husband, and how they involved God in the process of their relationship. Together they address big questions like how to be just friends with guys, if you should date a non-Christian, or warning signs that its time to end a relationship. They conclude with a challenge to live our love defined by God, regardless of what phrase of life you are in. These sisters are a dynamic pair as teachers and writers, and they will inspire you to redefine what you know about romance from God’s perspective. Get your copy today!
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review, as part of my involvement in the book’s launch team
To read my review of their first book, Girl Defined, click here
To read my last post (which explains the recent circumstances in my life), click here
I was standing alone in the youth room of my church. Or at least it was my church. That room was where I had taught many lessons and played many games with the church’s junior and senior high students for over a year. That room had been one of my favorite places. But now, it was a reminder of what I was about to face. In only about 15 minutes, I was going into a meeting with the church’s elders. Under other circumstances, this would not have been a big deal. I had known most of those men for several years and considered them to be friends of my family. But now it was different, because four days earlier, these men dismissed my dad as senior minister of the church after 17 ½ years.* The reason for the meeting was to see if I would be allowed to finish the school year with the youth group that my ministry partner and I had dedicated over a year of volunteer time to build up. I had so many emotions running through my heart and my mind, I didn’t know what to make of it.
This scene happened only a few months ago. I do believe that it has become one of the defining moments of my life. I believe I will still think that 20 or 30 years from now. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done, because the pain of the loss and separation were so fresh. But by God’s grace I walked into that meeting and was granted my request. The only stipulation they gave is that they wanted to make sure I would get plugged into another church, since they figured it would be too difficult to attend with them on Sunday mornings. When I told them I had a plan to look at churches in the area, they all stated how much they appreciated my willingness to come to the meeting and finish the work I had started, despite the difficulties of my circumstances.
Some of my friends or members of that congregation have questioned why I chose to stay a little longer or how I could bring myself to even go to that meeting. Some of you who are reading this post may be wondering the same thing. But as I have looked back on the last few months, I have come to realize that I began to find healing faster because I chose to face a painful situation head on instead of hiding from it. It’s something that author Levi Lusko coined as “running toward the roar” in his book Through the Eyes of a Lion [click link to read my review]. Facing that meeting changed everything for me, and I want to share about three things that have happened in my life because God gave me the power to “run toward the roar.”
I Learned How to Forgive Despite My Feelings
The night after my dad told me he had been let go, I couldn’t fall asleep. So I turned on a movie that addresses the issues of loss and forgiveness. Amish Grace is a film based on the true story about the Amish school shooting of 2006, in which a local milk truck driver in Pennsylvania entered a one-room school house with an arsenal of guns. He let all the boys and the teacher go, but took ten girls hostage. He eventually shot all ten girls before taking his own life. In the end, 5 of the 10 girls died within 24 hrs of the shooting, and the others survived with serious injuries. Obviously, it was a devastation to the Amish community, but they responded in ways that the world did not expect. In the film (which was slightly fictionalized), you see some Amish elders, including Gideon, a father who had lost his daughter, go the wife of the shooter to consul her and tell her that they had chosen to forgive Charlie, later that same day. The rest of the Amish community seems to support this decision to forgive, except for Gideon’s wife. Ida cannot let go of her anger, believing that choosing to forgive was betraying her daughter. She takes out her anger on the shooter’s wife when she runs into her. Ida is so bitter, she even makes plans to leave her Amish community and taking her surviving daughter away from her husband.
But the most powerful part of the film for me is at the end. Right before she plans to leave, Gideon asks Ida to go to a group meeting with a grief counselor, which would include other Amish parents that had lost children and the wife of the shooter, Amy. The audience learns that Amy is in the same place as Ida, not knowing how to forgive her husband for what he did to the Amish girls, and what he did to her and their children. At this point, an Amish mother who had lost two daughters shared a thought that I don’t know if I will ever forget. It was exactly what I needed to hear after everything that happened:
Every morning when I wake, I expect to hear Anna and Lydia singing together as they do their chores. But the silence reminds me that they’re gone, and I become so full of anger, I can barely breathe. But then I offer that anger up to God and I forgive. Sometimes, I have to do it again in an hour, and again an hour after that. But if I didn’t do that, I don’t know how I would ever breathe again.
As I was lying in my bed at 5 am still unable to sleep, I knew that kind of forgiveness, the kind that would compel most of that Amish community to attend the shooter’s funeral, or the kind that compelled Ida’s daughter to tell the man about to shoot her that she would pray for him, was the kind I had to challenge myself to have, no matter how painful it would be. So when I finally sat down with the elders, this is what I told them:
Just like they say love is not a feeling but a decision, I believe that forgiveness is a decision we sometimes have to make despite our feelings. I have been very hurt by what has happened and I am still healing, but I want you all to know that I have made the decision to forgive you.
It was difficult to say, but I said it, even with tears in my eyes. I said it because I was compelled to demonstrate the same grace that I would hope someone would show me, the same grace that we all want but never deserve on our own merit. The same grace we can only receive as a result of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. We all need grace, but we struggle to give grace. We get so caught up in the guilty party’s offense that we cannot see past ourselves. But the sacrifice of Jesus was an offer of grace for every person who accepts it and then shapes their life in response to it. We don’t get to pick and choose who receives God’s grace, and neither should we. Part of dying to ourselves, as we are called to do by Christ, is choosing to give grace to anyone in our lives that is difficult to love or forgive. I hope that sharing this story will help you learn to do the same thing.
I Found a New Calling In the Midst of My Healing
Most of my friends know that since I started high school, I’ve wanted to become a music minister or worship director. In fact, I could have told you my plan the day I started high school. From then until I graduated from college in 2014, I never deviated from that plan. But when I was completing my music ministry internship the spring before I graduated, it became apparent that some gaps in my proficiency and personal training would prevent for pursuing music ministry after I graduated. I was so confused. I had pursued God’s calling as faithfully I knew how and I was still unable to devote my career to ministry. As a result, I really struggled with what I should do with my future when I moved back home. Although I was involved in music ministry, I wasn’t getting paid, and went back and forth from being in leadership to just being a participant. I struggled to find a job. Any job. It was a very difficult and uncertain time.
But I didn’t realize what God was doing behind the scenes to prepare me for something greater. Just as circumstances required me to take a step back from leading in music ministry again, an opportunity opened up for myself and a deacon to take over leadership of the youth ministry. In some ways, it surprised me. Although I had been a youth sponsor in college, I hadn’t really been involved in organizing a youth group. But I believed it was a need I could fulfill with Todd, so we jumped into it. We did what we could to teach but also have fun with our teens. It wasn’t easy, even for Todd who has youth ministry training, but after about a year, we really began to see great things happened in our group. We began to see growth in our numbers and in their understanding of their faith. Todd and I were both excited about what God had in store for our group in 2018.
But at the end of January, everything changed overnight. When my dad was let go, I was immediately afraid of what would become of the youth group if I would not allowed to return in light of what had already been planned for the spring. Only a few days later, I was given permission to finish out the school year. But the few days in between when I didn’t know were some of most emotionally trying days I’ve ever faced. After that was said and done, I came to realize how much I cared about our students and how much I had been devoted to the ministry. It made me think that maybe I could find a future in doing this kind of work as a job. Only about 3 weeks later, we took our Jr. High students to a youth conference in Cincinnati. Over that weekend, Todd and I had some honest conversations about the direction I was going with my life in regards to ministry. By the end of that weekend, I came to a major decision:
I want to become a youth minister
Some of you that have known me for a while might be shocked to hear me say this. Honestly, I’m still kind of shocked to be saying it. But as I look back over all of my ministry experiences, I now recognize that God was preparing my heart to work with students when I wasn’t looking. I attended a Jr. high conference at as sponsor my senior year of high school. I helped with a large Jr. high girls lock-in with a local Christian venue my freshman year of college. I spent about a year and half in college (minus the summers) working with my brother-in-law’s youth group, including teaching Jr. high Sunday school. When I was on my internship, I taught in a high school small group since my cousin was the youth minister. Before I officially became a youth leader, I had already lead two girls Bible studies and had attended a few youth conferences as a sponsor. It ends up adding up to a total of about 4 years I have spent volunteering in youth ministry. It all happened when I wasn’t looking, because God was subtly guiding me to a different future than I saw for myself. It’s something I would have never considered a year ago, or even 6 months ago. But God used my ability to trust Him during a painful trial of my life to help me find my new calling. I believe He can for you too.
I Found Healing Through A Surprising Friendship
I have said this before and I will say it again: community is an indispensable part of the Christian life, especially when we are going through trials. But unfortunately, most people don’t treat it like it is. In my post “Why This Millennial Isn’t Leaving the Church,” I mentioned my high school friend who claimed that because he was enrolled in a Christian school, he didn’t need to go to church. But in the end, he walked away from the faith when he left the school a year later. Adapting this kind of mentality is not just wrong, but it is dangerous, especially if you are going through personal struggles. The Christian life was not meant to be done alone, and this has been proven to me so clearly over the last few months. The day after my dad lost his job, many of the friends went out of their way to see how I was doing. Some would eventually invite me over to their house to spend time with them just so I could talk. Many of my friends have gone above and beyond to make sure there were they when I needed it. I am so grateful to each and every person who has been there for me through this difficult season. But in the end, the friend who has been there for me the most was not one of my girlfriends or even a friend my own age, but it was my ministry partner Todd.
I clearly remember talking to him on the phone the night after my dad was let go. I could hear the sympathy in his voice. He expressed genuine concern for myself and my family, since he is also a good friend of my dad’s. He wanted to support whatever decision I made. But what I remember the most clearly is when I told him the elders were planning to meet with me. His first words were, “I need to be there.” There were several reasons he told me, but the primary one, one that he didn’t verbalize, was that he did not want me going into that meeting alone. When the meeting came, he sat down next to me, listened to the plan I shared with the elders, and when the elders asked his opinion, he replied, “I’m just here for emotional support.” After the meeting, we walked out into the foyer and I asked Todd for a hug. Before that moment, I don’t think we had ever hugged. Although we had a mutual respect for each other, we just had not gotten to that place. But now, we were. I don’t know if I will ever forget that hug. It was probably one of the biggest hugs I’ve ever gotten in my life, and was a precious memory of the support he was giving me during such a difficult time in my life. All I could manage to say was “Thank you Todd. Thank you.” In that moment, although I knew the next few months would not be easy, I knew that I would not be facing any of it alone.
Now I know that one of the reasons that God wanted me to stay a little longer was so that Todd could walk through this trial with me. God brought him into my life for such a time as this. He continues to assure me that he’s not going anywhere once I finish my work with our ministry, and that he is looking forward to seeing what God is going to do with my life. Although I am sad that our ministry partnership is ending, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that our friendship will continue. I hope that anyone that faces similar trials finds a friend that is able to do the same thing for you. If you do, don’t ever take that friendship for granted. Thank God for that friend often. I know I do.
I believe the God I serve is able to make something beautiful out of the broken. I choose to believe it, even when my feelings try to convince me otherwise. In some ways, He already has redeemed parts of what has happened to me and my family. I would never have concerned youth ministry as a job or have become better friends with Todd if I had gone through all this. But in other ways, when the pain is still difficult to face, I choose to believe that God will redeem all of it in His time. That brings me comfort and peace when it’s not easy to find. In the meanwhile, He promises to be ever-present in my pain. He knows my pain because He’s experienced pain. He doesn’t want me to experience it alone. He doesn’t want me to be paralyzed by my circumstances. He wants to use it to mold me into the image of His Son. That’s why we all have to learn to “run toward the roar.” Because that will be the best way for God to redeem our broken story.
[*Note: If you know the names of any of the people or places involved in this incident, please do not comment or share them. I still love and respect many people at my previous church. It is not my intention to demean the eldership or the church itself. I am just stating what happened as it impacted my life personally. Please respect my family’s privacy. Thank you]
When I first heard that Levi Lusko was writing another book, I was so excited. I preordered it before its release in February 2017, but I must admit that it took me over a year to read it. But once I did, I didn’t regret it. Although I was initially confused by the book’s title, the power of the premise within its pages cannot be denied. This book is definitely not your typical book when it comes to topics like singleness, dating, marriage, and sex. I appreciate Levi’s ability to see the circumstances of life from a slightly different angle than most Christian authors, but explaining it in a way that is still completely biblically grounded. Especially if you liked Levi’s first book, Through the Eyes of a Lion, then this book is one you definitely need to check out ~ Bethel
Our culture’s view of sex and romance is totally messed up, but most of us don’t realize it. We come into relationships (or lack thereof) primarily concerned about our rights and our needs. We are more concerned about being “in love” than we are about pursuing those feelings in a God-honoring way. We get caught up the conveniences of this digital day and age, even when it comes to relationships. Apps like Tinder make it possible to you to start a relationship with someone you only seen in the app with a simple swipe left of your finger. It makes it hard for us to understand and pursue a biblical understanding of sex and romance when the culture around us pretends to have the answers. It makes us ask the question: How can I prepare for the relationship I want tomorrow?
In Levi Lusko’s book, Swipe Right, he brings a fresh biblically grounded perspective on sex and romance that can help anyone prepare for the relationships they want tomorrow, regardless of what stage of life you are currently in. With the premise of desiring to help prepare you for the relationship you are not yet in, Levi walks through many profound truths about God’s design for sexuality and how we can navigate in a society that treats sex as something digital or disposable. With relevant stories from his own life and marriage, he shares about how God’s desire to us to wait for marriage and keep sex within marriage is about wait for God best for us. He shares many familiar stories from Scripture and presents them in a modern light that is engaging and enlightening. So much truth is packed in bits and pieces throughout this book, in a style that is somewhat similar to that of author Bob Goff (author of the bestseller, Love Does). As a single young woman, I found this book to be extremely valuable to me, and I personally believe that this book could be of great value to anyone that is single, dating, or married. I recommend this to teens about 15 or older, as well as parents that want to find ways to explain sexuality to their children in a way that honors the Lord and helps them avoid the pitfalls of our culture. I also recommend it for anyone that read and was moved by Levi’s first book, Through the Eyes of a Lion. Although this book was written on a different topic, I believe that is an excellent companion. Get your copy today!
This book has been on my review radar for a long time. I have always loved the work of Dannah Gresh, but had never read anything by Nancy DeMoss (crazy, right?). It wasn’t until they announced that were going to me updating this book that I finally found the motivation to sit down and read it. When I did, I was so compelled by its powerful truth. As an adult reading a book written to teens, I was challenged by lies I believed at that age and that I struggle to believe now. As a youth leader, I was moved to work towards debunking these lies for the girls I work with whenever I have the opportunity. Through all of it, I was inspired to see life through the lens of truth, which is the Word of God, and to encourage other young women to do the same. This updated edition will help a new generation of young women stand on God’s word as their source of truth and value. This book is a must read for every Christian girl by the time they reach high school ~ Bethel
Women today are bombarded with so many lies about their identity. But many of the lies they believe started to take hold of their lives in their teenage years. They disguise themselves as fact that we must embrace to be accepted, but when we pursue them, we find that we are just as unfulfilled and confused as we were before. This is all accomplished by the work of father of lies, who will do anything to keep you from learning and embracing the truth. It learns these girls in bondage to fear, anger, and loneliness. It makes us ask the question: how can we discover the truths that will set young women free?
In the book Lies Young Women Believe, Nancy Wolgemuth and Dannah Gresh walk through the lies that hold teen girls and young adult women in bondage, but then reveals the powerful truths that will set them free. These women walk through the nature of lies and the source of the lies: Satan, the deceiver. Then they walk through 25 different lies that they observed young women struggle to believe. Lies about everything from God and faith, to relationships, to our usage of media. They share stories of real young women and even share stories from their own lives to illustrate how these lies hold many young women captive. They speak to girls with the honest voice of loving conviction they need to hear in order to stand against the lies they’ve believe. But beyond identifying and addressing the lies, Nancy and Dannah also offer hope by sharing the truth that will set them free and giving practical ways for you to abolish the lies and embrace the truth in their own lives. The updated edition of this book brought many of the examples and illustrations up to date, which includes some new perspective from Nancy since she was married after the original release of the book. This book has power, a power to transform the next generation of young women into incredible tools that can be used for His kingdom. I give this book my highest recommendation to any teen girl about 13 or older. I also highly recommend this resource to any youth leader or youth pastor that works with teen girls. Get your copy today!
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review
This book is powerful and moving. I sensed that the first time I heard about it. I had been drawn to the work that Mary Beth and Steven Curtis had done for the orphan crisis and adoption aid back while I was in college, but didn’t know a ton of details of what led them on that journey. I had known that they had lost a daughter, but I didn’t know much beyond that. When I finally read this book, I was so moved by Mary Beth’s heart. I found there were so many points in her life in which I could relate to her personally. Because of this book, there are two things that I now SEE in a different light: the need to care for the fatherless, and God’s ability to make beauty out of the ashes. If you like Steven Curtis Chapman, if you have a heart for orphans, or if you have endured a personal tragedy, this book may be just what you need to read ~ Bethel
To read more about my Show Hope project that was inspired by Mary Beth's and Steven Curtis' heart for orphans, click here
Sometimes life is hard. When circumstances come that threaten or destroy our security and peace, it’s hard to understand why or discern where God’s hand is at work. Especially when we experience tragedies that alter our lives, we hardly know how to handle ourselves in our grief. It becomes all the harder for us to understand why bad things happen and God’s plan fits into the chaos that has taken over our lives. We remember life as it used to be, wishing it could be the same again, but are left with pain and brokenness in the midst of the ashes of tragedy. Things that made sense just a week before are unclear and messed up. We don’t know how to move forward from the place where we currently stand. It makes us ask the question: Can God really make beauty out of the ashes of tragedy and brokenness in our lives?
In her first book, Choosing to SEE, Mary Beth Chapman, wife of famous Christian artist Steven Curtis Chapman, tells the story of her life to help us SEE that beauty and come from tragedy. She walks you through her childhood, meeting and marrying Steven, struggling with clinical depression, having their children, choosing to take up the call to adopt from China three times, and founding the adoption aid organization Show Hope. She shares from her perspective to walk her husband rise to fame, and how circumstances in their lives shaped some of Steven’s greatest hits. You walk through the crazy journey of life with them in a way that is engaging and entertaining, at first. But everything changes when you learn about the day when they lost their youngest adopted daughter, Maria Sue. The tone of the book changes, even to the point of using a different font. Mary Beth recounts the tragic day of the accident and the days that followed in a raw and vulnerable way that will connect to anyone that has endured such a personal tragedy in your own life. Mary Beth opens up to an honest struggle to understand why their lost their daughter and how to find beauty from the ashes of grief and tragedy. But in the middle of the darkest season of their lives, they found stories and lessons that Maria left behind, that helped them find peace and trust God despite their circumstances. Thanks to Maria, they now SEE in a way they never had before, and so can you. You will be moved, challenged, and inspired by this book, especially if you have endured a personal tragedy. Get your copy today!
Teen Rating. My only hesitation with recommending this book to a teenager is that the details shared about Maria’s accident are shared in somewhat graphic but completely appropriate detail. There is a lot of descriptions of blood and bloody clothes. You may want to read that portion in advance to determine if it’s right for your teen to read.
Living in the Redemption of the price Jesus paid for you and me.
My name is Bethel, and welcome to my site, Princess Worth Dying For, where I hope to share Christian reviews, Christian Spoken Word, and a Christian Insights on everything from modesty to musicals. My main focus on this blog is book reviews, and the main focus of my YouTube channel is spoken word, but I do crossover work with both.
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