Monday, June 10, 2013

A Deeper Understanding of the Call to Modesty


Image courtesy of [tungphoto] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
About six months ago, the Lord started revealing to me the importance of dressing more modestly. I shared in another post about how the idea of modesty wasn't something I was brought up with, but rather, something I began to learn about more recently in my adult life.

I often think that learning about something new is kind of like peeling an onion. Your knowledge and understanding of a topic grows incrementally, as if the layers of the onion are being peeled back to reveal something new or give you a deeper understanding of a topic. For me, learning about modesty has been exactly like that.

When I started dressing more modestly, I felt the Lord leading me to a skirts-only wardrobe. He showed me that certain kinds of skirts promote modesty over pants or shorts. He has used skirts as a physical reminder in my day to day living of my God-given femininity and my biblical role as a wife and mom. I truly feel that for me, full-time skirt wearing is a call at this point in my life.

At the same time, I'm realizing that while everyone is called to modesty, not everyone is called to a skirts-only lifestyle. I've noticed is that there are some really godly, wonderful women that I know who don't wear skirts all the time. They do make a point to dress modestly, but they don't have the same conviction as I do to wear skirts all of the time.

I'm learning that that is okay. Maybe that seems silly or obvious to some of you. But maybe, for some who like me, and are new to the idea of dressing modestly, this post has peeled back another layer of the onion for you as well.

Each Christian woman will be called to modesty in different ways. Some to skirts-only. Some to modest pants. Some perhaps have yet to consider the issue of modesty. That was me six months ago. I believe that if these women continue to seek the Lord, He will reveal to them the path they should take in this area, just as He did for me. Our job is to be obedient to that calling, whether that be skirts-only or not.

Those of us who feel convicted to wear skirts-only need to protect our hearts from becoming proud. We are not better because we wear skirts. We are not necessarily even more modest. As Christian women, we must put aside comparison (a trap of the devil) and instead spur one another along in whatever God has called us each to do. When we do this, I believe it is a sweet sacrifice unto a holy God.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Why You Should Consider Adopting Through Foster Care

We are finalizing the adoption of our little girl (21 months) on Tuesday, so I thought this was a great time to write an article on the benefits of adopting through foster care. I think most of the time when people think about adoption, they think of international adoption, but the truth is, there are a whole lot of children right here in the United States who would love to be a part of a stable and loving family. That being said, in this article I want to highlight some of the benefits of adopting through foster care.

1. You can choose the age, gender, and level of care that will fit your particular family. To be sure, no one child is more worth of being adopted than another, but every family has different needs and capabilities when it comes to bringing another child into the home. In adoption through foster care, you can choose very specifically what kind of placement you will agree to take.

2. As a foster parent, the state is there to help you every step of the way. Many people like to complain about how inept DHS is, or how broken the system is, and they probably have some valid points. However, it's been my experience that the state will do what it is capable of doing to help out its' foster and adoptive parents. For my adoptive daughter alone, we have at the very least 7 support people we can go to (her lawyer, our lawyer, the GAL, our agency social worker, our adoption worker, our DHS social worker, her speech therapist, and her physical therapist). We have never, in the 20 months we've fostered her, had an issue that went totally ignored. No, the state isn't perfect, but the support is there if you are intentional about advocating for your adoptive child.

3. Depending on the circumstances, you could raise your adopted child from birth. If you choose to care for children who are not legally free for adoption, you could potentially have your adoptive child with you from birth. That's what happened in our situation. We had no intention of adopting at all, though we were open to the possibility. We picked our adoptive daughter up when she was 10 days old. She was not available for adoption, and her birthmom attempted to work her treatment plan for over a year after she came to live with us. After parental rights were terminated, as her foster parents, we were first in line to adopt her. Because she had been with us since birth, the bonding and attachment that happens with biological children was already in place.

4. Providing for a child adopted from foster care should not burden you financially. Foster parents receive a monthly stipend to cover the cost of basic necessities. Foster children also receive WIC and medicaid. Sometimes they can receive clothing allowances. After adoption, depending on the circumstances, the stipend can continue until age 18, increasing at specific intervals. Medicaid typically continues until age eighteen. Some foster children qualify for free college tuition. I believe all foster children who are adopted qualify for mental health services, counseling and the like. Even the adoption itself, including legal fees, is provided at no cost to the adoptive parents. Finances are a touchy subject, especially when it comes to adoption. But I mention this mainly because I hear so many people say that they would love to adopt, but they can't afford it. My feeling is, if you really want to adopt and feel you can't afford it, adoption through foster care may be for you.

5. These children are just as worthy as those orphaned in a third world country. This is perhaps the most important reason to adopt from foster care. Maybe this is just my own perception, but I sometimes feel like people are enchanted by international adoption with its' exotic culture, long wait times and incredible expense. It seems that adoption through foster care is looked on by some as less desirable. As if those adopted internationally will be less challenging than those adopted from foster care. All adopted children will have challenges. All are in need of loving homes.

If you've considered adoption before, but weren't sure which route was best, consider adopting through foster care. I know it was a choice that I will never regret!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

3 Things I Wish My Mother Would Have Taught Me About Modesty

                
Image courtesy of [David Castillo Dominici] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There are a few blessed women in our generation with very wise mothers who, from the very beginning, taught them the importance of modesty in dress and demeanor. My own mother is a lovely woman who I am very close to; but modesty was one area that was never emphasized when I was growing up. In this article, I want to share with my readers 3 things I wish my mother would have taught me about modesty. My hope is that those of you who are like me, and didn't have a mom who guided you down the path to modesty in girlhood, can learn these important truths now. It's never too late to make a change when you know that change is what is called for.

Three Things I Wish My Mother Would Have Taught Me About Modesty

1. The world will tell you that beauty is about what you wear and how your body looks in what what you wear. True beauty though, lies in your heart. In 1 Samuel 16:7, we read the Lord's words: “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” [emphasis mine]. I can clearly remember the transition in my heart and body from little girl to young woman. I remember realizing that what I wore and what my body looked like was crucial in my popularity at school, in making friends and in getting the attention of boys. How I wish my mother had taught me that the Lord doesn't judge us by our outward appearance, but instead by our hearts.

2. The world will praise you for emphasizing your outward beauty through immodest apparel. Look not to the world for your acceptance, but to God. Galatians 1:10 says this: "For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ." As a teenager I remember many times when I acted a certain way because I knew it would gain the approval of my peers. But the Word says that the only opinion that matters is that of our Lord. Let us seek Him as we choose what to wear on a daily basis.

3. If you choose to dress modestly, even those in the church will not always understand your choice. If the Lord shows you that you should be dressing more modestly, do so without worrying about whether your Christian friends will understand your decision. As a teen, I became heavily involved in a youth group at a church I attended with my friend from school. I can't remember even one sermon or devotional on modesty or biblical womanhood. Looking back and remembering what we all wore, I'm realizing a talk like that was sorely needed. But the truth is, many Christians have never given the idea of modesty much thought. In many ways, the modern church has decided that Christian teens can act like the world as long as they are doing so while socializing with other Christian teens. But the Bible tells us something different: "Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." Notice that right before we read that we should not conform the world in any way, Paul says that we should offer our bodies to God as true and proper worship. What would it look like if I worshipped God in the way I dressed? What would it look like if our youth knew that it pleases the Lord when we don't conform to the world's standards of dress, but to His?

My mom may not have thought to teach me these things, and perhaps yours didn't either. But it's never too late to change when you've learned something new.