A Graceful Maiden's Memoir

"The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to Him in song!" - Psalm 28:7

Friday, August 11, 2006

The End

Yes, the time has come to bring A Graceful Maiden's Memoir to an end. I haven't even had this blog a full year, yet this is the last post, bring this to an end. I have really enjoyed the time I've spent doing this blog... all the people I've met, and things I've been able to write.

However, I'm not disappearing from the blogosphere completely. Indeed, A Graceful Maiden's Memoir will be ended, but Miriam Hart and I are starting a double blog, entitled Maidens of Worth. I have enjoyed having my own blog, but I'm now really looking forward to doing a new blog together with my dear friend. It will be quite similar to A Graceful Maiden's Memoir, it'll just be both of us contributing. I hope you enjoy it!

So, from now on the place to find my writings will be http://maidensofworth.blogspot.com . If you have linked to A Graceful Maiden's Memoir, I would appreciate it if you'd remove the link. I won't delete this blog, you can still come back and read whatever, but nothing new will be appearing here either.

I hope you enjoy Maidens of Worth. I am looking forward to sharing a blog with my soul mate, Miriam Rebekah Hart. Please check it out!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Sewing Spree

I've been on a sewing spree! The last 5 days I've been sewing in most of my spare time, and have finished 3 dresses! Enjoy the pictures.

I have made quite a few dresses for myself, so I made Jubilee some. I started this dress a few weeks before July, but had to stop as things got busy, and then I left for camp. We finally got what was needed to complete it, and I finished it last Saturday. It's the same as my red rose dress, just made with blue rose material.

For an upcoming wedding, with hopefully some old English type dancing afterwards, I made Jubilee a Colonial type dress, like the ones Miriam and I made. Miriam helped make her sister Esther a dress of the same type in purple, so I made Jubilee's in green. It's really pretty with her red hair and green eyes! I cut it out on Saturday afternoon, and completed it on Tuesday morning.

And yes, another for myself! It's the same style as my dark purple-sashed one, only with a light purple ruffle and sash, and pink rosed material. I have had the material ever since I was 13, but never made it into a dress. So, I decided to get it done. I cut it out a few weeks ago, but didn't start sewing until today. I sewed quite a bit, and just finished it after 4 hours of sewing! This is the third time I've used this particular pattern, so it went pretty fast.

And now... for a fall/winter wardrobe... stay tuned! =)

Nothing Like a Baby

Yesterday I had the wonderful privilege of holding sweet baby Joel for over 2 hours while he slept a lot and was awake a little, and he was just so cute! My arms ached some when I finally had to give him back to his mother, but I was filled with joy at the great opportunity to hold a delightful little baby, and rejoice in such a beautiful little blessing from God.

What is it about a baby that makes them so cute - no matter what they're doing? I guess it's as my mom says, "There's just nothing like a baby." Their perfect little fingers and toes, their big eyes and cute little nose, their soft skin and chubby cheeks all show God's special handiwork.

Now, I know that babies aren't always pleasant. I've been around quite a few screaming babies that I couldn't quiet. I've walked the floor with them, trying to get them to sleep, even in the middle of the night a few times. I've changed many an unpleasant diaper. I've had them make messes on me. But, I still love them, and cherish every opportunity I get to hold them.

And, babies do grow up. 3 of "my babies" are now toddlers... but they're still so sweet! I babysat a family of 5 children last night, and baby of the family is already almost 2 years old! I've babysat him since was only a little more than a month old, and now he's running around with the rest of his siblings, scarcely still. He still loves to be held and cuddled however, and I kept scooping him into my arms and giving him kisses, for I just couldn't resist! =)

One day, I hope to marry, and have babies of my own, ones that I won't have to give back eventually to their mothers. I know that it won't be easy, and I know that it will be tiring, but I'm still looking forward to it. But for now, I'll just have to be content with my nieces and nephews. In fact, Maria's expecting her third child in November, and it's probably a girl! I'll also take every opportunity that comes my way to cuddle a little baby, if only for a moment. For there IS nothing like a baby.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Back on Schedule

These days since I've come back from camp have been nice. I've mainly relaxed, slept in late, and read a lot. While it has been refreshing, I feel the urge to get back on schedule.

It's been nice to just do mostly what I want throughout the day. I've still cleaned and cooked, yet not as much as would be good, and mostly only whenever I've felt like it. And while sleeping in later has felt wonderful, it also seems to make me more tired and irritable. I've also had a harder time going to bed at night, before it's really late.

So, I'm going to try to establish a routine again. A certain time to sleep and a time to rise, and once again try to stick with it. I'm also going to try to plan out my days, with certain things to accomplish, and a rough draft of what times to do things. It will be a bit more relaxed schedule, sing it is summer for a little while longer, but it shall hopefully help me stay more focused. I have found that lack of something planned often ends up with my getting on the computer and wiling time away surfing the net. Doing that doesn't get much done!

I know that my schedule won't always work, although I'd like it to! I have a hard time when my plans don't work out, but I need to remember what Proverbs 16:9 says: "In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps." I need to be interruptible in my plans sometimes, for God might have something better that He's planned for me to do.

So, in the days ahead I hopefully shall spend more time doing worthwhile things, and trying to follow the old adage, "Early to be, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise." =)

"Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed." - Proverbs 16:3

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Dressing With Decency

Yesterday my family and I went to Whitewater water park in Atlanta Georgia. While the rides were a lot of fun, the way most of the girls were dressed was so sad. The style these days seems to "bare it all" and that's just what most women are doing. Wearing swimsuits consisting mostly of thin straps, the women leave almost nothing covered. What was especially sad was the number of young girls, who, following the example of their mothers and older sisters, begin dressing quite provocatively, even at their young age.

Proverbs 11:22 says, "Like a gold ring in a pig's snout is a beautiful women who shows no discretion." Most of these women were very beautiful, yet because of the way they flaunt themselves, their beauty is wasted, just like a gold ring would be wasted on a pig.

What has happened to the mystery that used to be inspired through modesty? Why don't women want to save themselves for only one man to see? If they covered themselves, they would still be beautiful, and believe it or not, men do respect you more when you don't flaunt yourself! Yes, the girls dressed in the fashion of "show so much skin" do get a lot of attention, but by what kind of guy?

Now, not all of the girls were dressed in such a way, although a majority were. My sisters and I were among those covered. I presented quite a different style, with my high-necked, high-backed swimsuit, with its skirt flowing to my knees. I was very comfortable and enjoyed the prettiness of a modest, feminine bathing suit that didn't compromise my standards. Hopefully, I was a good example to others around, that you can swim modestly! If any of you sew, I would suggest that you get the pattern (now available in girl's sizes as well) Biblical Womanhood offers. It's quite simple, once you get a little practice sewing with lycra.

So, will you join me in presenting to the world a different way of dressing? Will you dress in a way that glorifies God, or glorifies your body?

I have found that when you dress with modesty, decency, and propriety (1 Timothy 2:9-10), you are usually more respected. Dress in such a way that brings the attention off of yourself, and shows people the light of Christ shining through you. You may get a few weird looks, but most of those you come in contact with will be refreshed to see a young lady, dressed with decency.

Now, this of course doesn't mean that you should dress in shapeless burlap sacks covering neck to ankle! Although hard to find, there are occasional pretty and modest clothes in the store. Also, you could take up sewing, as I've done, and sew some of your own clothes. Sewing not only is fun to do, it produces something that can be enjoyed for years to come! Whatever you do, strive to take the effort to dress with taste and decency.

Yet, you shouldn't just focus on your outward appearance. "The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart. - 1 Samuel 16:7. Even if you wear modest clothes, if you have a heart full of immodest thoughts and behaviors, that is what is going to shine through for others to see. Cultivate a heart of purity, gentleness, love for others, and modest behavior, and show others Christ in you. It will only add to the loveliness of your dress and manner. How can we do this? By working on our relationship with God, and asking Him to help us. "Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God" - 2 Corinthians 3:5. Only through God can we do anything worthwhile. And don't despair for, "being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." - Philippians 1:6

Saturday, July 29, 2006

The Simple Joys of Home

Being away so long this July has helped me apprectiate more the simple joys of home.

Working with dough, and the smell of homemade bread baking in the oven...

Enjoying homemade cookies full of yummy spices...

Making meals that are SO much better than cafeteria food...

The joy of a clean-swept kitchen floor...

The accomplishment of washing a mound of dishes...

Spending hours playing games with my family...

Even having my little sister bounce into my room and onto my bed...

Never take such things for granted. I guess absence does indeed make the heart grow fonder! =)

Thursday, July 27, 2006

A Licensed Driver

I just passed another milestone in this life of mine... I got my driver's license! It was a long afternoon, as the office we were at clearly needed more help for the amount of people present, but 4 hours later, I had my license! I didn't do everything perfectly in the road test sadly, but I passed, so I guess that's the important part. I know what I did wrong, and I think it will be easily corrected. The hardest thing for me was just understanding what the lady wanted me to do!

I'm still kinda scared at the thought of driving alone... but I suppose that's natural. I know I'll eventually get used to it, just as I got used to driving in the first place. Praise God that I passed! =)

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Heroes of Today 2006

Two days after arriving home from Ballet Magnifcat!, I embarked on a very different adventure. On Monday, July 17th, Lydia and I left the house at 5:30 a.m. and drove to the Turners house where we picked up Rebekah and Elizabeth Turner, and Rebekah Olm. We then continued on our way to our destination: The Inn of the Last Resort, a ministry of Christian Training Centers International, located in Franklin, North Carolina.

After driving around 6 hours, we finally made it to the Inn around 2 p.m. It was wonderful to see old friends from last year (all of us except Lizbeth had attended Heroes last year, and Lydia had been an intern there), and breathe in the beauty of the mountains. We found our rooms and unpacked, and before long the week's activities began.

We started by playing a few games to help learn everyone's names. Then we headed upstairs for a quick talk given by Susan Pons about manners. I'd heard most of it before, but it was fun to hear again the proper way to eat, serve food, introduce people and so on. The young men were also given instructions in the proper way to seat a lady. Yes, chivalry is alive and well at the Inn, and it's wonderful! Each mealtime, the young men would pull out our chairs, and serve us our drinks. Throughout the week they'd also open doors for us and help us carry heavy things, and so on. It was nice to be treated like a true lady! It makes one feel so special.

One thing that I must make clear about Heroes of Today is that it is NOT a camp, as Larry Pons always says. It is a training center, training young men and women to follow God and be heroes of our day whenever the chance arises. While at Heroes, we are challenged physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

After supper, Derek Selby gave us a talk about a lot of ordinary people in the Bible who were following God, and who probably had no idea that God was going to use them like he did. We learned about Daniel, Samuel, Joseph, Gideon, Joseph – the wife of Mary, Mary the mother of Jesus, and more. We were challenged to totally surrender to God, and be willing to follow God's totally unpredictable plans for us. Then, we were told to change into something that could get wet, and meet in the pavilion for further instruction. It was already past 9 p.m., so what on earth could we be doing? Well, we were soon to find out.

Arriving in the pavilion we were blindfolded, and, holding hands with our roommates and led by our counselor, we were brought through the woods into a clearing. That first night we truly had to learn to trust our roommates and counselor, to get through the woods safely. We were allowed to remove our blindfolds for a few minutes, as we were divided into 5 different teams of 7 or 8 people each. My team was: Daniel K, Eric, Nathan B, Sean, Savannah, Katie, and I. Once in our group, we were shown a log, some rope, and a small saw, then blindfolded, and told to make a cross. With an intern to guide us and make sure we didn't cut ourselves, we began sawing the log into two pieces. Our log was so thick though, that after a long time of not getting through, a few of us were allowed to remove our blindfolds and finish making the cross.

Once the cross was completed, we were told to shoulder our cross and once again go through the woods, arriving at a very fast-flowing creek. We then had to carry our cross up the river, against the current, symbolizing going against the tide of our culture today. It was really hard to make it up the creek, for we had to go through this almost small waterfall type place. It required the whole team to stick together, holding on to the cross, and pushing together to make it up. Now remember, it was around 10:30 p.m. at night, and the only light we had was that of a few flashlights. I pushed with those carrying the cross, but as they pulled the cross through and up the river, I lost my footing on a very slippery rock, went underwater, and began being swept downstream. Thankfully, Daniel had lodged against a rock and was able to catch my hand, prevent me from going all the way downstream, and someone from behind was able to push while he pulled, and I was able to finally get through the rapid and stand up. It was really hard, and I swallowed creek water, which didn't feel very good, but I was grateful for my teammates' help. The water was pretty cool, so I was shivering by the time we were finally able to get out and trek back to the field, carry our cross, of course! We were given towels to attempt to dry off a little, and got to admire God's beautiful creation, seeing the amazing stars He made.

We finally got to go to our rooms, take a quick shower (we had 6 girls to one shower!), and crawl into our nice warm bed. It was after midnight by the time the lights went off, and the week had already began with a dramatic start.

The theme of the week, we soon learned, was "Take up your Cross". We literally carried out the verse, "take up your cross daily and follow Him", as we had to bring our cross everywhere with us - to our table at mealtimes, to our room at night, and with us on our challenges. We also had to be careful not to leave our cross unattended. If we did, it somehow always disappeared... and we'd have to find it.

Tuesday we arose at 6 a.m., had our individual quite time, and exercised as a group. Thankfully, the girls had the option of either power walking or running, and after running on Tuesday, I power walked the rest of the week! Developing shin splints on Wednesday didn't help any, that's for sure.

Tuesday morning, Susan Pons and Sally talked to us about life. They talked about the horrendous assault on it in our culture today, what with abortion and the start of euthanasia, and how we need to take a stand against it. Will then talked to us about being a counter-culture, going against what the world says. We did things at Heroes, that really went along with the Rebelution's slogan, “Do Hard Things”.

Tuesday afternoon began the challenges we had to accomplish with our team during the week. Our first challenge was to make a silent drama to a song, which we did for the group that evening. For our next challenge we did the “sleds”. We had to walk up the extremely long driveway, with our team of 7 on two long wooden planks, held by ropes. It's hard to explain, but it was pretty hard, and almost everyone had blisters on their hands after doing it.

Tuesday night began group discussions, where we discussed things to do with media/technology, and one's identity, and what we should be doing as teens in today's world. I think we actually got to bed on time that night – 11 p.m. was the official light's out, but it didn't always happen!

Wednesday morning was what was called Labors of Love. After breakfast, everyone was assigned different jobs to do to help the Inn, everything from helping in the kitchen to working on the prayer trail that was being built. I worked in the garden, where I learned a lot about weeds.=) It was tiring work, since the garden was in the sun the whole time, but it was kinda fun working with the soil, and as I said, pulling a lot of weeds out the corn and green beans patches.

Wednesday afternoon held more challenges, with our team doing the marble roll up steep Pons Hill, and then doing the low ropes course. It was all fun, but challenging, obviously!

Wednesday evening was one of my favorites. We did what was called “Prayers and Squares”. After supper we divided up into three groups to pray for Israel, our government leaders, and our culture. Then, it was time for square and line dancing! For those of you who've never done it, square dancing is tons of fun! I've only done it twice, this year and last year, but I've thoroughly enjoyed myself both times. I guess I pretty much just like any kind of dancing though... ;-)

Thursday we skipped exercise (yes!), and left for white water rafting right after breakfast. There were two groups, the girls and the guys. It was a lot of fun... scary at times, but fun! We went on class 4 and 5 rapids – the highest there are. The lack of rain had affected the water level of the Chatooga River, however, so we kept getting stuck on rocks! It was still exciting though, and I accomplished the goal I had. I didn't fall out on any of the rapids, which I praise God for! =) I just couldn't imagine falling out and getting swept along the river with all those rocks, like some did. Aside from various bumps and bruises that we all got, no one ,thankfully, got seriously hurt.

The girls got back from rafting before the guys, so we listened to a talk given by Susan Pons, which turned out to be one of my favorite. She talked about manners, modesty, mystery, and marriage. It was really encouraging to be challenged to be true ladies in the way we act and the way we dress, having true modesty. She talked about the mystery we as women have, and how we should keep it that way, kept only for our husbands. She talked about how the women's movement destroyed the shielding and covering of us women, but how we should still be covered. It was really wonderful to hear Susan address all of it, in her genteel way.

Thursday evening we again had more group discussions, this time about how we deal with swearing from friends, and also different aspects of boy/girl relationships. It was really good to be able to discuss these things with our peers, and also to hear the guidance from the staff present. The training center is a wonderful and special place, where they always point you to the source – God's word – and challenge you to stand for Christ, even if you're standing alone.

Friday morning we hiked up a mountain – still carrying our crosses – and worshiped as we saw God's wonderful handiwork displayed. We then did what is called Sitting at the Feet of Jesus. Everyone got quiet and talked and listened to God, away from all distractions, just spending time with Him. We then had a sharing time about what people had heard, worshiped some more, then went back down the mountain where we had a picnic. On the way back to the Inn, we got to stop by a waterfall, which was really pretty! North Carolina was just gorgeous, with all the green foliage, hazy mountains, and beautiful water!

Arriving back at the Inn we finished up the challenges, our last one being Frisbee Golf. At supper the team placements were announced. We got last, but that was okay. We had fun!

Friday evening Larry Pons talked about the depth of the human heart, and how no one but God can truly know it. We then went on a last walk with our cross as a team through a pathway lighted by candles, and listened to different interns read verses we had studied during devotions. Arriving at a place shaped like a cross, we were allowed to lay our cross down for the last time, and spend some time talking and praying as a team. We then proceeded to the amphitheater, where we they “passed the torch” onto us, and challenged us to go back home standing firm for Christ. We stayed late, worshiping and praying, with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Saturday, sadly, was the day to go home. It was raining, so we didn't have exercise, yet Ben Barnette still tried to break the record for running Pons Hill, which he missed by only sixteenths of a second! We took a group picture, ate our last meal together, and everyone cleaned and packed up. We had fun signing each other's shirts, then all too soon it was time to say goodbye. It was hard to leave everyone, because you get so close at the Inn, bonding happens really quickly. I've made friends there that I know will last.

We left around 11 a.m., and had an interesting ride home, having to turn around because of something forgotten, then being caught in heavy rain and missing our turn, but we eventually got home, finally around 8 p.m.! I was really tired, since we got an average of maybe 6 ½ hours of sleep each night, and it's taken a while to recover! I'm really glad I went however, and I learned so much.

Thank you so much, mom and dad, for sending me!

The whole group - almost 40 participants in all