Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Inner Views of Jen Avellaneda

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."
James 1:27

One day, last summer, I was in the midst of a quandary,
as I was seeking God's will about something that concerns my family and me.
I had earnestly prayed and asked God for direction,
and in that prayer, I asked Him to give me a certain "sign" to confirm what I felt He was already showing me.
Later that evening, I came in to check email, and there it was...
on my computer screen...
contained in the last part of an email from a blogger I had been following
and linking up with for quite a while.
Of course, she had no idea what I was privately praying about.
Only God knew.
But, He worked through her...and He spoke straight to my heart through her words.

I couldn't believe my eyes, so I emailed her and told her about what had happened.
She wrote me back right away and told me that she didn't usually have the house to herself,
but, for some reason, that day her whole family was gone at the same time,
and God had prompted her to go outside on her porch and compose that email to her blog followers.
It wasn't even her normal time to send out that email!!!

It turned out that she was writing that email around the same, exact time that I was praying that prayer...
from almost 3,000 miles away!!!

God was answering my prayer by putting a message upon the heart of a dear sister in Christ
all the way across the country from me!
And she was faithful!
She minded God, and in that obedience, she helped God answer my prayer!

Both of us were astonished.
It reminded me of Peter and Cornelius (read Acts chapter 10)
and how God always works on both ends of a problem and/or situation.
If only we are faithful to Him, we never know how He might use us
or what wonderful door we may open for Him to work through!

Since that email correspondence, a beautiful, precious friendship has ensued,
and this dear lady has blessed me more times than I can even express.
Her love for Jesus is evident in every, single post she writes.
Her heart for children deeply challenges me and is an amazing thing to witness.
God is using her to change the little life at a time.

Some of you already enjoy her blog and her weekly link-up,
so you already know how special she is!
For those of you who don't, allow me to introduce to you,
Adoption, Foster Care, and Orphan Advocate, 
Christian Blogger, and Inspirational Speaker,
Jen Avellaneda.

Jen and her adopted daughter, Nicole
(See video of Nicole's adoption story later in this post.)

Jen Avellaneda.

Cheryl:  Could you please give us an introduction as to who you are?

Jen:  I'm Jen Avellaneda, a Northwest native who blogs at Rich Faith Rising and is a contributing author at Missional Women.  I've been married for twenty-three years.  My husband and I have been foster parents for the past decade.  We are also adoptive parents.  We are parents to four children; two biological kids, a nine-year-old adopted daughter, and an almost three-year-old we have as a foster daughter and hope to adopt.  I also speak, occasionally, and will be in Denver this April to speak at the Missional Women Conference.

Cheryl:  What are your passions and the causes closest to your heart?

Jen:  My heart beats for family and also for adoption.  Coincidentally just before this, I was doing a personal study on the word “blessing”, and I was astonished to discover that the very first mention of “blessing” is in correlation with “being fruitful” and “multiplying” (Gen 1:22 & 28).  I love God's model of family, and I love the beauty found in His picture of adoption.  In my experience, adoption is not something to bow our heads low about or be ashamed of...but something we can raise and open our hands to, rejoice over, and celebrate.  I am not sure what I would have done if He hadn't taken me in...broken, neglected, abandoned, and disconnected...and called me into His family.  It excites me that God is no respecters of persons. His club is not exclusive.  Biblical unity is also something that stirs in me deeply.  With so much division in our nation lately, I find it comforting that one thing God's Spirit does for us (if we let Him) is unites us together.  Our family, (I wish you could meet them in person), just so happens to be this beautiful palette of Latin, Caucasian, Bi-racial, African-American, and Samoan.  It's so much fun to get to represent our multi-faceted, people-loving, good, and unifying God every time we simply walk into a store together, and I very openly and voluntarily love discussing adoption and foster care, every, single chance I get.  I love how, although it's easy to try and make a mold for God, He won't fit into some box.  Lastly, I am passionate about missions and discipleship.  Often, it's easier to convert someone, than to choose to walk in the trenches with other people.  Still, I love how God says He walks with us through the valley.  Oh how thankful I am that He does that!

Cheryl:  Can you share with us about your foster-parenting journey? How many children have you fostered? What has been the most difficult part? What about it has fulfilled you the most?

Jen:  Thanks for asking about fostering, Cheryl.  Like I mentioned, our family has been fostering for ten years.  It is something that has been on my heart since I was a little girl.  As a child, I grew up in a big house with just one sibling.  I remember begging my mom, "It's just not fair, there are so many kids out there who need families, and we have this big house. We HAVE to do something."  As a little girl I used to line up my dolls in cribs all around my room and pretend that I had an orphanage.  All I can say is, I think fostering is something God deposited in me, even before I was born.  In the past decade we have fostered over a dozen kids. We usually only take one child at a time because in raising our older two, our goal was to really keep balance between family and our calling to foster.  The most difficult part?  Well, you could probably guess...saying "goodbye".  (I only wish I was made of steel!)  The truth is, often it takes less than five minutes for me to fall in love with these children.  But we realize, it's ultimately His multiplying love that transforms when we love big, getting hurt can, sadly, just be part of the journey.  God also often gives me a much-needed reminder that this calling is about serving Him, dispersing His heart, and living for His will.  It's not about our feelings.  What has fulfilled me the most?  Seeing the transforming power of His love in the lives of these children.  Love is always worth the risk.  And honestly, I couldn't imagine more fulfilling work!  There is nothing like seeing a child who reportedly hits, bites, and throws things, come into our home and, by His grace, leave gentle, kind, and patient.  Or others come traumatized and paralyzed with fear and in just a few months they are walking, talking, smiling, and laughing.  God still heals wounds and is so gracious.  It is such humbling work.  We feel honored to be doing it.  It is like having a front row seat to His miracles and goodness every, single day.

Cheryl:  I so admire your heart for orphans. When did you first feel led to become an advocate for them, and what life event triggered this calling?

Jen:  Thank you, Cheryl.  As mentioned earlier, foster care and adoption has always been like a seed placed deep within my heart since as long as I can remember.  Yet, there was a time, over ten years ago, where God radically turned our world upside-down (in a good way).  I was reading Oswald Chambers', "My Utmost For His Highest".  There's too much to share in this interview, but basically God revealed His Sovereignty, how we are called to serve Him, and when we do, life isn't always going to be neat, tidy, perfect, or easy.  Prior to that season, I had been deceived into thinking that Christianity meant maintaining this perfect image versus abandoning ourselves in love and following Him as His servants.  That year we began homeschooling, started fostering kittens, and then within a year we applied to be foster parents. It was just his perfect timing, I guess.  And honestly, getting a right view of Christianity created a huge shift in literally every aspect of our lives.  I used to think suffering meant being cursed, but instead found that “letting go” and abandoning ourselves to His will is where power and miracles happen, and where He shows up unfailingly, time and time again.  Romans 8:18-31 comes to mind as I write this, “Our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed...”

Cheryl:  How did your time in China and Guatemala affect and influence your mission to help orphans?

Jen:  It's funny that you mentioned both of these trips, as these were the two that significantly changed me the most.  Words can't even summarize what I saw in China; heartbreaking situations, countless children abandoned.  It was everything you might see or think about when you hear about a government orphanage in China.  I will never forget those faces, the ones left in those cribs, so many almond eyes staring deep into your soul, as if begging for hope, and for someone, anyone to reach them.  Our family's Guatemala trip was monumental in our fostering decision.  We had already started our paperwork when we left, but the trip really cemented our calling in every sense.  On this trip, my husband and I took our older two children, stayed at an orphanage, and really "caught" the calling to where we were willing to walk out orphan ministry in full faith and dependence on Him.  We had the gift of traveling around the country with The Kaitlin's Mobility Foundation and helped to disperse wheel chairs to special needs kids. My husband and I also led a team of five children from America to do Children's Ministry in schools and villages throughout the country.  One government orphanage we ministered at was heart-breaking.  I lost my late Grandmother Jade's cross necklace there.  At the time, I was upset, but looking back, God reminded me, that's where Jesus would have likely been if He had gone to Guatemala.  He reminded me that the cross represents His gospel, and that He wants all people to know Him, even the most unlikely children trapped behind barbed wire in remote orphanages in Guatemala.

Cheryl:  Can you share with us about the adoption of your daughter, Nicole?

Jen:  Nicole came to us as a foster daughter at three and a half months old.  She was this beautiful bundle that we all instantly fell in love with.  Her beginning was hard, but the road to adopting her was fairly simple and pain-free.  Originally, when applying to be foster parents, we had not signed up to adopt, only foster, but when we knew this baby wouldn't be returning to her biological family, it was an easy decision and pretty much a no-brainer that we were meant to adopt her.  Nicole faces some unique circumstances in that she is part deaf.  Nicole is now nine and loves life and people.  God's hand has always seemed to be with this child. Adopting her and realizing that you CAN love an adopted child as much as any biological child, has also ignited our hearts for adoption even more.  Too often, we only hear about the hard things in foster care and adoption.  But the truth is, beauty is all around caring for needy children, and I wish people knew just how much His grace simply saturates this type of ministry.

Nicole's Adoption Story
If video doesn't load, click here.

Cheryl:  How long have you been blogging, and how has it enriched your life?

Jen:  I started blogging in 2011.  It's crazy because I actually grew up dyslexic.  I "slipped through the cracks" some might say and barely graduated.  Before I was married, I had never read an entire book in my life.  Then, I met my husband.  He grew up in an elite British school and has an I.Q. that I have heard reported to be in the one-sixties. (Slightly intimidating, right?) When we got married, I was determined to push myself to read.  I ended up reading progressively well, and even ended up going to college and getting a degree.  But something was missing.  It was like I had this voice inside me desperately trying to get out.  When I first started blogging, I was completely anonymous.  I was scared of my voice, my own words...and even more frightened that those who might read them would somehow reject me.  Eventually, I found my voice and years later now I try to use my words to express His heart, less as a way to understand myself and more as a tool I can use to glorify Him and reach others with His truth and love.  Thank you Cheryl, for giving me this opportunity to share a little bit of my story. You’re a blessing and such a gift.  Thanks for your patience and encouragement in my writing journey."

Oh, my, Jen!
Truly I am the one who is blessed...believe me, dear friend.

A big THANK YOU to Jen for taking the time to do this segment of
with us!!!!
Dear readers, 
I do hope you will take the time to click here to be directed to Jen's blog, Rich Faith Rising.
You will definitely be blessed and leave there encouraged!
And I hope God has used Jen's testimony and story to inspire and challenge you 
to reach out in your corner of the world, doing all you can for Him through your service to 
"the least of these".

"And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, 
Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me."
Matthew 25:40

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Inner Views of Dr. Alveda King

"For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified."
I Corinthians 2:2

You never know when one moment, one event, or one decision can change and impact your life 
in ways you could never have beforehand imagined.

God does.
And He often orchestrates our steps and moves us in directions that will forever change us for the better.

Several months ago, I was invited to attend the then-upcoming Truth For A New Generation conference to volunteer as a member of Concerned Women For America's Prayer Team at the event.

At the time, we were in the throes of some very difficult trials in our personal lives,
and I saw no possibility of ever being able to do what I was being asked.
However, I prayed about it and told the Lord I was willing to go if He would remove the obstacles and work out a way.

Through happenings that were nothing short of miracles,
He did make a way, and my little family and I headed for the conference.

That weekend literally changed our lives.
One of those changes came about through our personally meeting many of the Concerned Women for America ladies, enjoying sweet fellowship with them, and through this, God giving me much-needed answers as to whether or not He wanted me to proceed in becoming more involved with CWA.
And another of those changes came through the wonderful privilege we had of listening to several of the key note speakers while there.

Today, God has opened the amazing opportunity for me to introduce you to one of those speakers!
The message she brought forth at TNG blessed and encouraged and inspired us in more ways than we can even express, and when we later contacted her to request an interview by phone,
she was beyond gracious and granted our request!

So, without further ado, I present to you,
author of King Rules and Director of African American Outreach with Priests for Life,
Dr. Alveda King.


Dr. Alveda King.

Cheryl:  God has placed you on the front lines of ministry in our time. He has given you a platform of your own to stand for truth and what is right. How does the battle your uncle, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., fought in his generation compare with the cultural wars you are fighting today?

Dr. Alveda King:  Well, as we look at cultural wars throughout the ages, we can go back to the 20th century when my father, Reverend A.D. King, Martin Luther’s brother, Martin Luther King, Jr., I also marched during those times, but all the way through the history of humanity, starting with the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, there has been strife and contention. And the most successful campaigns against those have been when people called on the name of the Lord and depended on the Lord and set aside strife, envy, and offense in all of that. So, that is what I have worked to do myself, and that’s what I’m trying to do now. 

Cheryl:  Evil is waging war upon God’s church, in these last days. Sometimes, there are so many battles being waged at one time, it is hard to keep up the fight, and God calls us to choose specific battles to fight, on an individual basis. What would you say are the most pressing issues God has placed upon your heart, personally, and what is the main burden of your unique ministry?

Dr. Alveda King:  Well, the most pressing issue now as an evangelist is to let people know about Jesus Christ and Him crucified and John 3:16. That can touch on so many other things...that touches on my pro-life work, my work for natural marriage and family, eradicating evil, even down to ISIS and that battle.  So, I think that when I look at it as in a perspective of prayer and evangelizing, then everything else can be included in that.

Cheryl:  How has growing up in the shadow of your uncle, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., shaped and molded your own ministry?

Dr. Alveda King:  Well, I came up under the shadow of God’s wings according to Psalms 91, and so, just being covered by God as the niece of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the daughter of his brother, Reverend A.D. King.  It’s just wonderful being in this family and having been brought up by people who love the Lord. 

Cheryl:  You are the Director of African-American Outreach for Priests for Life. Can you tell us more about this ministry?

Dr. Alveda King:  Well, Priests for Life is a Catholic ministry. I’m a non-denominational Christian, but I came in to work with African-American Outreach for Priests for Life over 10 years ago now. And so it’s been a beautiful experience informing the public about the harms of abortion and related products to that (abortion) that are harmful, chemicals and devices for birth control and all of that, how its genocide, the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, etc. So, I have been a part of Priests for Life for 10 years now, over 10 years actually, and they’ve just been a tremendous blessing to me.

Cheryl:  Can you share any childhood memories that you have with your father, as a minister, and your uncle (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)?  Is there anything you could share with us that we could share with our readers...just some special memories that you might have?

Dr. Alveda King:  I was blessed to go to church and hear them all preach.  Daddy King, my grandfather, who encouraged my mother not to abort me in 1950, not to have a D&C, abortion was illegal, but a D&C, and that he had seen me in a dream three years before I was born.  He described me.  I was born looking just like that.  My Mom and Dad had, during their marriage, five of us.  I was their firstborn.  Daddy King used to preach about faith, hope, and love, and the “least of these”, helping others, caring more about others than ourselves.  My father, A.D. King, preached about the miracles of Jesus, and Jesus became very real to me as a girl. Listening to my Daddy’s sermons, and then my uncle’s sermons on the Good Samaritan, for example, and The Love of God.  All of their sermons impacted my life and helped to shape and mold my spirituality. And it is true...train up a child in the way he or she should go, and when the child grows up, they won’t depart, or in my case, return to it.  So, I never really departed from the truth upon which I was raised.

Cheryl:  I am a Prayer Action Leader for Concerned Women for America, and as you well know, we really love to pray and get under the burden for those of you who are out there on the front lines.  How can we pray for you, specifically, and your ministry?  Are there needs or burdens upon your heart in this current season of your life that you would specifically like us to pray for?

Dr. Alveda King:  My heart longs that people will abandon and come away from strife, offense, and arguing and division and come together as one as a repentant world, as a repentant nation, a repentant community, a repentant family, a repentant individual, and ask God first to forgive us, then help us to learn to forgive others, and that we, in love, can move forward together. That is a sincere desire of my heart.

Cheryl:  Amen!  Thank you, dear sister!

Dr. Alveda King:  Bless you, my sister in Christ.  Thank you, and God bless!

A BIG thank you to Dr. Alveda King for making time in her busy schedule to share her
with us!

What a powerful, dear, precious woman of God!
I felt so humbled and so enjoyed my time with her on the phone.
It was an honor and a Divinely-orchestrated gift from our dear Lord!
And, what a blessing that at the end of our interview,
we were privileged to enjoy a sweet season of prayer together! 

If you would like to order your own copy of Dr. King's latest book, 
you can do so by clicking King Rules to be re-directed.

To learn more about Priests for Life and their pro-life work, click here.

Please keep Dr. King in your consistent prayers as she continues to carry on 
the Godly legacy of her amazing family.

(To read the first interview in this series, click The Inner Views of Joshua Becker.)
(To read the second interview in this series, click  The Inner Views of Lisa Newton.)

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Inner Views of Lisa Newton

"Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: 
for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created."
Revelation 4:11

Many of you will remember that on January 17, 2014, a dear blogger friend so kindly published 
It was so wonderful to be able to express and more widely proclaim what the dear Lord has done for us, and to give Him glory as we shared how He answered prayer and sent us a miracle son after many years of infertility struggles and 12.5 years of marriage.

I was drawn to her blog because she, too, was struggling with infertility,
and my heart went out to her, as I read of her longing for a child and recalled the pain of my own battles.
I began to pray in earnest for her and her husband, begging God on a regular basis,
to send them a miracle baby of their own.

Fast forward to today...nearly two years later, and what do we find?
A reverse interview with her for Homespun Devotions!!!!
And with a surprise miracle tucked in, for good measure,
all glory be to God!

But, I don't want to spoil the surprise or hold you in suspense any longer, 
so without further ado, I introduce to you, 
writer of and woman behind the blog, Amateur Nester.
Tom and Lisa Newton
Photo by Vanessa Hicks

of infertility blogger and advocate,
 Lisa Newton.

Cheryl: Could you please tell us a little about yourself and your husband and how long you have been married?

Lisa:  My name is Lisa Newton and I've been married to my husband, Tom, for a little over 4 years. We live on the Central California Coast and have a spoiled orange-and-white cat named Hemingway. As I write this, I am 37 weeks pregnant with our first child, a girl. My husband is a vice-principal at a local school and a former varsity head football coach. I've spent the last 10 years working as a school librarian, but I recently quit my job to stay at home with our child and have been doing some library consulting for local schools instead.

Cheryl:  How did you meet and fall in love?

Lisa:  Tom grew up going to school and coaching football with the husband of one of my best friends, Heather. We met during a very awkward set-up at a party, and I wasn't interested because he was so different from me and very forward about his interest in me. To make a long story short, I dumped him after our third date, but ended up asking him for a second chance shortly after. We were married 6 months later! I wrote a guest post about the whole story on A Little Wife's Happy Life Blog.

Cheryl:  When did you first realize you were experiencing infertility, how many years have you struggled to conceive, and what exciting news do you have to share with us now?

Lisa:  I began to think we might have some issues with conceiving after we had been trying on our own for about 6 months. I had been charting my fertility signs and symptoms and I knew our "timing" was perfect. We started seeing a fertility specialist exactly one year after starting trying, and it took another 3 years for us to achieve a viable pregnancy. We went through 3 failed IUIs, one canceled IUI, and 3 cycles of IVF. I experienced a chemical pregnancy (very early miscarriage) after our first IVF cycle that was very disheartening. But as I said in the first question, our third IVF cycle this past March resulted in a pregnancy, and I'm due to give birth December 4!

Cheryl:  How has your steadfast faith in God carried you through the agonizing process of infertility? Can you name some specific times that you would not have made it through without your faith?

Lisa:  I think the low point came after our chemical pregnancy. The first IVF cycle was extremely grueling, and we were so ecstatic that it had worked after only one try. We called our families and our friends with the good news. But 48 hours later, we found out I had already lost the pregnancy, and we faced the terrible task of calling everyone again. I was devastated at the thought of going through another IVF. We had to rely on our belief that God was in control of everything and that He was going to work this out for good- even if we didn't understand how or why.

Another time when we had to rely on our faith was the time between our second and third IVF cycle. Due to work schedules and finances, we waited 8 months between those two IVF attempts. My husband was working 60+ hours a week teaching and coaching football, and I was in an unfulfilling job where I stayed just so we could afford IVF. Tom had to work on Sundays, so we weren't going to church often (I hated going alone) and when we did, it felt like there were babies everywhere. I felt very isolated, lonely and without a clear purpose. I listened to a lot of sermon podcasts and went to a Christian counselor who helped me deal with my depression.

Cheryl:  There is a unique transition process that comes to couples who have experienced long-term delays in being able to conceive and bear children. How are you (and your husband) adjusting yourselves in preparation for your new baby girl?

Lisa:  The biggest adjustment has been in our work. About a year ago, we began to feel the Lord was leading Tom away from coaching football. This was a very tough decision for him to make, but we knew we could not raise a family the way we wanted to with him working 60+ hours a week and unable to attend church. He stepped down from his coaching position about a month before we began our IVF cycle. Almost immediately after we found out we were pregnant, he was offered a promotion (from teacher to vice principal). Now that we no longer had to pay for further infertility treatments, his increase in income would cover my loss of income if I were to resign my job. A divine provision, indeed! His job is still demanding and he still works long hours, but we are now able to be active in our church and have more family time.

Additionally, we are trying to focus on keeping our marriage first after baby arrives instead of letting baby become the center of our lives.

Cheryl:  How has your blog, “Amateur Nester”, enriched your life during your waiting process?

Lisa:  The blog has been a true gift. It started off as a place where I thought I'd chronicle my decorating attempts, but I soon realized I'm not good at decorating! HA! Then we started our infertility journey and it became a place to turn our pain and struggle into something meaningful. As it has grown, I've been blessed to "meet" so many women who are going through similar journeys. Some of them have grown into true friends. It has given me a creative outlet, too, and I'm discovering that I really enjoy a lot of the other aspects of blogging like marketing, technical stuff, etc. Most importantly, I hope it has given other women hope in their journeys, too.

Cheryl:  Could you give us your favorite go-to Scriptures that have sustained you when hope grew dim?

Lisa:  In the year or two before I got married at age 30, I was really struggling with my singleness. I clung to Isaiah 51:3 and memorized it. When infertility became a part of my life, I went back to that verse over and over again- this time from a different perspective. I love how God's Word truly is "living." I've written two blog posts about how this verse continues to comfort me. You can find them here ( and here (

Cheryl:  What would you say to those in the infertility community who are still waiting on their miracle? How would you encourage them?

Lisa:  I recently listened to a beautiful episode of the Ransomed Heart Podcast about Psalm 27. ( The hosts talk about how verses 11-14 give us instruction on what to do while we wait for God's rescue. We are to stay with God, take heart, don't quit and stay with God. The podcast dives deep into each step (and talks about why it says "Stay with God" twice), and I encourage you to listen to it. But basically, it means Wait Patiently, Drink in the Lord's Strength, Don't Give up Hope, and Wait Patiently.

I think that advice is spot-on for anyone facing infertility. You have no choice but to wait, so wait confidently and patiently for God's timing. You will be faced with your own weakness and lack of control, so drink in the strength God will give you if you ask. You may be tempted to despair, but don't give up hope of God doing amazing and wondrous things in your life (even if it doesn't look how you think it should), and above all wait for His perfect timing.

A BIG thank you to Lisa for taking the time to interview with me
for our second installment of
all while she is just three weeks away from giving birth!!
What a trooper and true inspiration she is to us all!

(To read the first interview in this series, click The Inner Views of Joshua Becker.) 

I am SO grateful to God that He has answered prayer 
for Lisa and Tom,
and I can't wait to hear when their little one arrives!!

What an awesome GOD we do serve!!!!

"Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, 
With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible."
Matthew 19:26

I love the verses in Psalm 27:11-14 that Lisa shared and wanted to type them out for you here.

"Teach me thy way, O LORD, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies.
Deliver me not over unto the will of mine enemies: 
for false witnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe out cruelty.
I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.
Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart: 
wait, I say, on the LORD."

No matter what you are going through, 
God's Word stands, my friend.
You can count on His promises being fulfilled for you, 
just like He fulfilled Lisa's mainstay verse, Isaiah 51:3, for her.

"For the LORD shall comfort Zion: He will comfort all her waste places; 
and He will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; 
joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody."

I hope you enjoy Lisa's interview as much as I have,
and I ask that you please keep Lisa and Tom in your prayers 
for the safe, smooth delivery of a healthy baby girl!!!

God bless you, Lisa and Tom!!

Friday, November 6, 2015

The Inner Views of Joshua Becker

"Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver."
2 Corinthians 9:7

I have mentioned a few times in previous posts that God has been leading my family and me
towards a simpler, less encumbered life.
(This post and this post talk a bit more about this.)
He has dealt with us repeatedly about shifting our focus from the things of this world
to those things that are eternal.
At the beginning of this year, as I sought His will for my blogging "One Word for 2015",
the word He gave to me was "Prepare".
(You can read that post here.)

As we began to downsize, declutter, and minimize our physical belongings,
I found myself searching online for encouragement.
I sought for articles that were not only written about minimizing,
but ones that were written by those who share our spiritual points of view, as well,
for this is most important to me.

Early in my search, I came across a blog called Becoming Minimalist, written by Joshua Becker,
and right away I was reeled in and subscribed by email so as to not miss a single post.
I cannot begin to express how much my family and I have learned
and the depths of encouragement we have found while reading Joshua's blog.

So, when God began to lay it upon my heart to start conducting interviews for Homespun Devotions,
Joshua was one of the first people He brought to my mind.

Many of you probably already know him.
Perhaps you are already being blessed by the bounty of wisdom he bestows.
But, for those of you who have never met or heard of Joshua,
let me take this opportunity to introduce you, if I may.

The following is the very first installment of our new interview portion of Homespun Devotions!!!
I hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoyed conducting the interview!

of minimalist,
 Joshua Becker.

Cheryl:  So, to get started, would you mind giving us an introduction and a brief explanation as to how you began your journey towards minimalism?

Joshua:  I’m Joshua Becker, founder of Becoming Minimalist.  I pastored for 15 years before doing this full-time.  The journey into minimalism happened on a Saturday morning when I was cleaning my garage, and my son was alone in the backyard.  After hours of working out in the garage, I suddenly had this realization that my possessions weren’t making me happy.  
The further realization was not only that my possessions weren’t making me happy, they were actually taking me away from the very things that did bring me happiness, and purpose, and fulfillment in life. That started the process of, "let’s get rid of the stuff that we don’t need, so we can focus more time on the things that do matter."  And it was a journey for us, I mean it took, I would say going through the house initially for us, it took 6-9 months. But, we moved, years later, into a smaller house, and even that move forced us to go through more things and more stuff that we didn’t need. So, just like you said, it’s a journey and where we are going and changing and generally speaking, I’m trying to think how to own less, rather than how to get more.

Cheryl:  And, from a Christian standpoint, how do you think living minimally relates to living a life pleasing to God?

Joshua:  I’ll mention two specific things:
  1. It forces me to learn more about my heart and motivations than if I hadn’t lived minimally. So, in Luke chapter 3 where John the Baptist is preparing the way for Jesus, the Israelites come to him, and say, "What do we have to do?  We’re ready..were with you, we want to get ready for the kingdom."  And he tells them to get rid of their extra clothes and extra food and to be content with what they have and don’t seek more and don’t extort for more. All of the instructions had to do with possessions, interestingly enough. What I found is, as we began getting rid of things, number one, we found that we were more tied to possessions than we thought we were, but number two, we realized that we had bought way more than we needed to in the first place, and so the question became, "what was in our hearts?"  What we were holding on to in our hearts that would allow us to buy far more stuff than we needed in the first place?  Things like selfishness and greed, things like jealousy and envy, like trying to impress people with the things that we had, being controlled by the world and its messages and advertisements more than we realized. We were forced to learn those things that I don’t think we would have ever had to learn before. So, there’s the introspection of what was motivating my heart and life.
  2. And then, the second one is, we were freed up.  Because we were spending less time and money and energy caring for the things that we owned or things that we were trying to own, we discovered that we had more opportunity to follow God with our whole lives. Which I think is Jesus’ point in Luke 18 where the rich young ruler comes to follow Him and Jesus says, "Well, if you really want to experience eternal life, sell your possessions, give to the poor, and then come follow Me."  That is to say, we can’t really appreciate all of the abundant life that God is offering if we are carrying around a whole bunch of things that we don’t need.
Cheryl:  In today's culture, there is such a push to accumulate earthly goods.  If Jesus lived on earth today, what steps do you think He would take to avoid falling prey to being caught up in the chaos and consumerism madness so prevalent in our modern world?

Joshua:  Well, I think He would probably live very similar to how He lived before. First of all, singular focus, single-minded focus, that He was here to glorify God, that He was to do what God called Him to do, and that He was going to be obedient to that even though the world around Him wanted Him to do something different.  What’s interesting about Jesus is that you find Him doing the same thing that He tells us to do. And by that I mean, He lived every day in the Spirit.  We find Him leaving the towns to go spend time alone with God, and He would routinely remove Himself from culture, from society, from people, so that He could sit and just listen to God and reorient His will and His heart around Him.  So, I think that He would do the same, and I think that is what we are to do.  So much of that is walking in the Spirit, and I think it was Dallas Willard who said, “We’re not called to live the same life as Jesus lived. But, we are called to live our life the way Jesus would live our life.”  I think it’s kind of a fascinating story in Mark chapter 5 where the demon-possessed man is healed and Jesus was getting ready to leave with His disciples, and the demon-possessed man, who is no longer demon-possessed, but now a healed man, comes to Jesus, and he says, "I’m ready to go, I’m ready to leave everything and follow You", and Jesus says, "No, no, go back home, go back home and live in your house, be My witness in your city."  This is so interesting because He had just called His 12 apostles to give up everything…to leave everything…to leave their jobs, to leave there homes, their families, and to follow Him, and then here’s another guy who is ready to do it and Jesus says, "No, no, that’s not the call that I have on your life. You go live in your home."  You know I used to think of Mother Teresa, and how she left everything.  That’s not what we are all called to do, but we are all called to walk in the Spirit and live the life that He’s called us to…that’s single-focused, for sure.

Cheryl:  On a personal level, how has becoming a minimalist affected and enhanced your ministry and your God-given calling?  (What doors has it opened for you, how has it enlarged your spiritual realm of influence and effectiveness, etc.)

Joshua:  Numerically speaking, certainly it has given me a wider audience, more people to reach and talk to, and more opportunities for speaking and writing.  I was just thinking about this today. It has given me a passion for a single change…there are a lot of things going on in the church, a lot of conversation, and a lot of unhealthy movements, a lot of bad things in the church that could and should be changed, but I don’t feel called, at least at this point in life, to be addressing all of those things, but I do feel like God is calling me to speak to this one area and to challenge Christians in this spot. So it is has given me a new focus and a new change. But, I think, broader speaking, there’s a parable in Luke chapter 8 where the parable of the sower that sows the seeds all over, and the one falls on the path and never grows, the one falls on the rock and starts to grow but gets burned up, the 3rd seed grows roots but the fruit gets choked out by the weeds, then the 4th seed actually grows roots and grows fruit. Jesus comes back and’s one of the rare parables where He explains what He meant...when He gets to the 3rd seed, the seed that grows roots but doesn’t bear fruit, He says the weeds that choked out the fruit are - riches, pleasures and worries. And, it’s not even the love of riches, it’s not the love of pleasure, but it’s almost the mere existence of riches and pleasures and the worry that accompanies it that chokes out the fruit of the seed.  I think the American church is actually the third seed, that we are not nearly as fruitful as we could be, because the riches and the pursuit of possessions and the worry that come with it are choking out the fruitfulness of so many. So many of us, myself included, for so many years and probably even still to this day, in some points. My ministry has changed, but I think part of that is considering that parable, and as we remove those things, we begin to see ministry opportunities that we didn’t notice before.

Cheryl:  Acts 2:44,45 says, ~All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.~  And Acts 4:32 says, ~All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. ~ From a pastor’s standpoint, how do you think these two passages of Scripture contribute to a minimalistic mindset, and what would happen in our world today if we, as believers, adapted this lifestyle?

Joshua:  I think what would happen is we would discover the very thing that so many of us are looking for in our money. By that I mean, as we begin living this out, I have discovered that there is no more secure a place to be, financially-speaking, or any way speaking, that there is nothing more secure than walking in the will of God and honoring Him with the things that I have. What I think happens is, without even realizing it, so many Christians are looking for security in their money, and they’re looking for security in their possessions, and they live with this mindset that, "Once I feel secure with my bank account, then I will begin to share and then, I’ll become generous."  And so, generosity is always, "I wish I could give, but I just can’t, because we don’t have enough money or we’re worried about this."  In reality, it works completely opposite, that when we become generous, when we begin sharing what we have, when we begin doing what God has called us to do, caring for the widow and the orphan, caring for those who have need, when we begin doing those things, we find that we are far more secure than we ever thought we were, because our security is in God, not in a bank account somewhere. And so, what I think would happen is obviously, the poor would be cared for and more needs would be met, so those lives would improve, but even more than that, that the person who started sharing, and that the person who became generous would find the security and the happiness that they’ve been looking for and everything they’ve been trying to accumulate all along the way.

Cheryl:  I just became aware of  The Hope Effect as I was reading Evelyn Rennich's latest blog post. I was instantly moved and blessed to learn more about it at the website.  I think it is an amazing thing you are doing, and I was wondering if you would like to share more about it with our readers?

(Here, I insert a video where Joshua explains his new outreach in detail.)

If video doesn't load, click here.

Joshua:  It’s interesting that, most people think that the orphan care crisis is being addressed.  I think most people think that we have orphanages set up, and orphans go there.  In reality, it is a pretty big problem, and it’s a problem that we have known about for decades.  It's not only that there are more orphans that need to be cared for, but it's also that the typical model of the orphanage where there’s 50 kids and just a couple of adults is actually having some pretty harmful effects on kids.  God’s original design for human development is that kids would be raised in a family.  This is the model, this is the design.  Not that they would be raised in these institutions with such high kid-to-adult ratios. So, we are hoping to address that, and while we’re not the first, there are other people doing it pretty well, we don’t think globally, or certainly not nationally, that people even know about it or that people are talking about it. And so, we’re hoping to do this in a way that helps more people see that there is a problem, and see that there are solutions out there, and then give them a very easy way to get involved to start making a difference. So, that’s what The Hope Effect is.

Cheryl: And the first one that you’re opening is going to be in Honduras, is that right?

Joshua:  There’s an orphanage in Honduras called La Providencia. They’ve been around about 8 or 10 years, and they do this family model. They put up homes and they put 6 orphans and a Mom and Dad in these homes. So, our first project is, we are going to build for them a home on their campus. We’re going to build it and fund it for 2 years. They have 10 years of experience, so there’s a lot that we can learn, plus they have everything in place already, like a director, a place to find parents, and everything.  So, our first project is building a home on their campus for them, and then, our next campus project is likely to be in Mexico.  This is what we’re planning on now, if things don’t change.

Cheryl:  That’s wonderful!  What a vision you have to do that! You’re right, I read those Scriptures about the Lord wanting us to take care of the orphans… heart goes out to them, but I didn’t really comprehend the gravity and how it affects their lives. Thank God for laying this on your heart, and I hope and pray He will bless you abundantly with that and in every other part of your ministry. You are making such a difference!

Joshua:  Thank you.  I appreciate it.  Thanks for looking me up and having a conversation with me today.  It was fun.

Cheryl:  I appreciate it so very much. I hope God will bless you and continue to enlarge your coasts and just bless everything you’re doing.  We’ll be praying for you, that’s for sure.  I know you are out there on the front lines, and this is not an easy time to be there, especially with everything going on in our world with Christians, and so, may God just bless you and protect you and your family and just be with you every step of the way. 

A BIG thank you to Joshua for taking the time to share his
with us!

I found him to be very humble and kind and such a blessing and pleasure to talk to.
I absolutely love the insights he shared.
Such profound wisdom, and such a great help to my family and me on our current journey!
Please keep Joshua and his family and their outreaches of ministry in your prayers,
and please remember the orphans.

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this:  to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."
James 1:27

"For the LORD your God is the God of gods and Lord of lords. He is the great God, the mighty and awesome God, Who shows no partiality and cannot be bribed.
He ensures that orphans and widows receive justice. 
He shows love to the foreigners living among you and gives them food and clothing."
Deuteronomy 10:17,18

How can YOU help????

Here are some ways....

Another blog that I follow and find wonderfully inspiring is Smallish, written by 
Evelyn Rennich.

In her latest post called, "How Minimalism Can Change The World", she explains how adapting a minimalist mindset enables us to give more bountifully to others and to make more of a positive difference in our world.
During the whole month of November, Evelyn is hosting a fundraiser for The Hope Effect.
 She makes it super easy to give to this worthy cause!
All you have to do is click HERE and donate, as the Lord leads!
No gift is too small.  :)


In his latest post, Joshua Becker also offers other ways you can become involved,
including a recurring monthly $10 (or any amount) donation, by clicking HERE.


For all of my blogging friends, please click HERE for a special way YOU can help!
Together, by God's grace, we can and will make a difference!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Inner Views

"Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend."
Proverbs 27:17

For some time now, the Lord has laid an idea upon my heart concerning Homespun Devotions.
In one way, this idea is super exciting to me.
In another way, it scares me to pieces.

Because I don't feel like I know how to do what He is asking me to do.
I've never done it before, and anyone who has read this blog for long at all
can vouch for the well-known fact that I do not do well with change,
and unfamiliar paths make me extremely uncomfortable.

I suppose most of us are this way, at least to a certain extent.

So, when the Lord first brought it to my mind, 
my first reaction was to bulk.
The excitement, thrilling as it was,
was quickly overpowered by fear and feelings of inadequacy.
So, pretty quickly I sort of ignored the idea and shoved it to the back of my mind.

I don't know how it works with you, but when God wants me to do something,
when He really, really wants me to do it,
I don't get off so easy.
What starts out as a gentle pressure, becomes heavier and more weighty,
until I finally realize that I am not going to please Him if I don't do what He is asking me to do,
regardless how difficult it is for me.

I have served Him long enough to know that whatever He is asking,
no matter how hard it is,
is easier, by far, than to experience His displeasure.

I SO want to please Him with my life and fulfill the reason He allows me to live.

So, the thought kept plaguing me and coming up at the most inopportune times.
It would just pop on to the horizon and interrupt whatever else I was thinking,
until, one day, early this summer, I finally surrendered and told God I would do it.

It took all the courage I could muster, but back in the month of June,
 I sent an email to someone I respect,
and I began the process of starting this thing God has been asking me to do.
And now, the request I made in that original June email has been granted!

So, very soon...hopefully within the next few days, you should be seeing a new post in your inbox from me, and it will begin a new series on Homespun Devotions called...

Zachary came up with the name and the logo, and I loved both of them instantly!

Thank you, Zach!
Your support and love means more than I could ever begin to say.  :~)

(I got to thinking that his play on words could be in use already,
so I researched it, and sure enough, Houston Public Media produces a television show by this name.
Oh, my.
I am checking into whether or not I am infringing on any rights or doing anything unethical.
If I find that I am, I will, of course, rename our little segment here.
If not, we'll keep it, because I just like it so much!)

What is, you ask?

is...well, interviews, basically, and in a nutshell.
I will be talking to people, asking for their inner views during our interview.

I will record them and publish them here for you to read, 
and, in the process, hopefully I will be able to introduce you to some people you may never have "met" before.

These will be people who inspire me.
People who are "iron-sharpening", who "sharpen my countenance" and enhance my walk with God.
People who make me want to be a better person.
People who stir up a hunger in me to be more like Jesus.
People who have specific missions and causes that I believe are important and worth supporting.
They may be online bloggers, real-life family members, friends, loved ones, and acquaintances,
maybe even a celebrity, or two, now and then!!!
Most of all, these will be people I believe God has directed me to connect with and/or talk to.

Though I have endured many job interviews, which made me very uncomfortable, by the way,
I had never conducted an interview in my life...until today, that is. 
Well, I take that back...I have been enjoying "interviewing" Zach and Austin from time to time
and recording their thoughts on paper or video to go back and read or watch later.
It is amazing how their likes and dislikes change as they grow up!

So, even though I feel I am way over my head, and this, in some ways, is taking me far from my comfort zone, I know God is leading and wants this to happen, so He will be my Guide.

I am not sure, at this point, how often will be published
or how many interviews there will be.
They will be interspersed randomly, I suppose, among regular Homespun Devotions blog posts.
I have a long list of prospective interviewees to contact,
so, if I have my way, it will be long-lasting!
But, this isn't my blog, and the Owner and Director has every right to lead as He so chooses
and deems best.  :)

For now, be on the lookout for the very first


I will be introducing a very special guest who has greatly inspired my family and me and taught us so much on our journey towards a simpler, more minimalistic life.
Stay tuned!
You will NOT want to miss this!!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Modesty Is Not Legalism, and De-Bunking Four Other Modesty Myths

"Let all things be done decently and in order."
I Corinthians 14:40

I have shared a small glimpse into some of the journey my little family and I 
have traveled in and through and out of legalism and its bondage.
Looking back, I see our deliverance as a sort of "Red Sea" in our lives.
When I say I understand the meaning of legalism because of real-life experience,
I am telling you the absolute truth.
There are many aspects and layers that I have never felt led to share,
but I have said enough here to paint a sketchy portrait of at least a portion of our experience.

For some time now, I have felt God nudging me to delve back into this subject,
but to approach it from a much different angle this time.

This post is not "fluffy" and "feel-good".
It is raw and honest and blunt, in many ways,
but I want you to know that it is "spoken" in much love and from a heart that never intends to wound.
It comes from a long-time burden that is ever-present and very heavy upon my heart.

I walk into this and hit the publish button fully aware that I am veering into "controversial" and "politically-incorrect" territory here,
that this post may provoke contradictory, even ugly, comments,
and it may cost me some followers and/or subscribers....even friends.
I hope not.
Because I truly love every one of you.
You are precious to my heart.
This is one of the reasons I speak truth here.
Truth cannot be sugar-coated and should never be watered down.
Any alteration to the truth makes it less than 100% truth.
It diminishes its purity.
It taints and mars its virtue.

I have hesitated to write this post for so long.
It is one of those that God brings to mind and ignites passion about,
then I sort of slyly and sheepishly shove it on the back burner,
hoping He will overlook my disobedience to write and post it.
Because I do not ever want to come across as being judgmental or critical.
I wish I could speak this to you face to face, so you would see the concern in my eyes and hear the love in my tone.
If I could add body language to these words, you would know, deep down in your heart,
that I carry a heavy burden for the Body of Christ, that I would never intentionally hurt you or any of its members, and that I am only the messenger.

"Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?"
Galatians 4:16
I trust not.

As much as I would like to continue dragging my feet in discussing this, 
God let me know today that I have waited long enough.
I know how it feels to disobey Him.
I have learned, through painful, repeated experience, that no matter how hard something is that He is asking me to do, it is always, always easier than the consequences of disobedience.

So, here goes....we delve, dear friends, into the controversial subject of modesty of dress.
And we endeavor, by God's grace, to debunk a few of the myths that surround it.
I humbly ask you to please hear me out.

Myth #1:  
Modesty of dress is legalistic.

Oh, my friends, this is trickery right out of satan's play book.
This is a tactic and ploy of the enemy of our souls.
This ploy is so sly and cunning and clever, that we have fallen flat into its clutches,
and played right into his conniving hands, without even realizing what was happening.
He has used this to convince us that many God-given mandates contained in His Holy Word are unnecessary and that these mandates are, in reality, man-made, man-contrived, and man-originated demands of a legalistic nature.
Satan has managed to dupe us into believing that we don't have to "do" certain things,
because they fall under the category of legalism, when, in truth, they have nothing in the world to do with anything man-made or contrived, but are, in actuality, vital components of God's law.

In our current generation, there is is a rush to steer clear of legalism.
Rightfully, so.
I get that.
Believe me.
So many of us have felt the sting of legalism's whip for so many years of our lives,
that we are only now beginning to understand the real meaning of God's amazing grace,
as we fearfully and timidly emerge from our beaten-down spiritual places of "hiding".
But, we need to keep in mind that freedom from legalism does not give us a free pass to overlook and rebel against Biblical commands.

God's Word demands that we live a holy life.
"Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord..."
Hebrews 12:14

Living a holy life requires a certain standard of modesty of dress.
It has nothing in the world to do with man-made legalism.
Modesty of dress is not legalistic,
as we have been so craftily tricked into believing.
Modesty is a Biblical doctrine.
I am not speaking of anything man-dictated that is without Biblical foundation,
but of the Scriptural instruction concerning the sufficient covering of our physical bodies.

"In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, 
with shamefacedness and sobriety."
I Timothy 2:9

I know I am old-fashioned.
I am definitely from the old school.
But, I think somewhere down the line, we have lost our "shamefacedness."
We don't feel so careful about keeping the body parts that God ordained to be preserved for intimacy
covered and out of sight while in public and around mixed company anymore.
We have become so desensitized by the bombardment of nudity around us
that we are no longer shamefaced, nor do we seem to feel the need to blush.
Even when surrounded by pastors and Christian circles,
we seem to feel no sense of conscience while dressed inappropriately.
It is hard to make anyone blush anymore.
This astounds me and burdens my heart.
It reminds me of the heaviness upon Jeremiah's heart when he said,
"Are they ashamed because they have done such shameful things?
No, they are not at all ashamed.
They do not even know how to blush!"
Jeremiah 6:15
(NET Bible)

I do not feel led to debate the never-ending spectrum of people's individual definitions of the word modest.
There are as many varying opinions on this subject as there are on every other spiritual subject, and I do not claim to possess the authority, by any means.
Oh, I could lay out a play-by-play rule book that would explain my personal God-given convictions of how He requires me to dress.
I could elaborate on how He has dealt with me, on a personal level, through the years,
and I could tell you certain items of clothing that I feel I should and should not wear,
not because of man-made legalistic "rules",
but solely based upon how the Holy Spirit has led and instructed me.
We could go into clothing types, lengths, styles, and all sorts of details.
I can tell you right now, I will NOT do this.
You will never find such a list here.
Because, I am human, fallible, hopelessly flawed, and I fall short of the glory of God,
just like, probably more than, everyone else.
I don't have, nor do I claim to have, all of the answers.
My convictions are not your convictions.
Mine are between God and me and what He requires of me,
and yours are between God and you and what He requires of you.

But, this one thing I know.
As people professing Christianity,
as people claiming to be filled with God's Spirit,
as those who say they are disciples and followers of Jesus Christ,
 we should dress in a way that we would feel comfortable should Jesus Himself walk up to us on the street.
As women professing Godliness, (I Timothy 2:10), we should cover those parts of our bodies that were given to us for intimate and maternal reasons.

Common sense tells us so, does it not?

Humor me...for just a moment...if you will.
If Jesus, Who is holiness personified, should pass you...or me....on the street....
would we feel ashamed of the way we are clothed or not-so-clothed?
Would we feel an urge to run and grab something to put on over our scant attire, 
or would be feel no shame because our "pertinent" body parts are completely and modestly covered?

If He were to sit across the table from us,
would we feel at ease
would we wish a thousand wishes we had a sweater or jacket to wrap around us
or zip over our exposed breasts?
Sorry if I am being too graphic, dear friends,
but it just really bothers me to see how comfortable we have become...
how lackadaisical, and how "sanctioned" it is for us to expose ourselves
and still maintain our Christian testimony.
What distinguishes us from the world around us when we are exposing as much flesh as they are? 
How is our standard any higher to maintain?
When did exposing cleavage become so acceptable in Christian circles?
When did it reach the point that we can walk into church services wearing clothing that would have made my Papaw's generation blush if they had seen it in a pub down the street?

Is it because the "watchmen on the wall" (Ezekiel 33) have dropped the ball and failed to sound the alarm?
The more I move in and around Christian and church circles, the more I am appalled at the looseness of standards and the lack of preaching on "issues" like modesty.
I have often felt sorry for pastors as they stand in front of congregations and look out over the crowd
trying to keep their composure and concentration in tact and their eyes above the exposed flesh in front of them.
Frankly, I don't know how they manage to keep their minds on wholesome things,
when temptation stares back at them every direction they look.
Surely, they are aware of the immodesty.
It is blatant and as much in-their-face as it is in the rest of ours.
So, why the failure to address it?
Have they become so fixated on high attendance numbers that they have convinced themselves they dare not rock the boat by preaching on "things"?
Have they forgotten that certain "things" that are mentioned in God's Word must be preached?
Are they so afraid of sounding "legalistic" that they dismiss certain passages of Scripture?

Why don't we preach about covering our bodies anymore?

Myth #2:  
God only looks on the heart; so, He doesn't care what I wear on the outside.

This is the justification I hear most often used when anything is ever brought up about modest dress.
We have convinced ourselves that God is not concerned with what we put on the outside of our bodies, because all He is interested in is what is on the inside.
The Scripture I hear most often used to justify this is I Samuel 16:7, which says,
"But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature;
because I have refused him:
for the Lord seeth not as man seeth;
for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart."

What we need to do is to "rightly divide the Word of truth."  
(2 Timothy 2:15)

In I Samuel 16:7, God was not, in any way, shape, or form speaking of Eliab's clothing when he spoke these words to Samuel.
Samuel was searching for the man who would replace the errant King Saul as the next king of Israel.
God had shown Samuel that the next king would be found among Jesses' sons.
As Samuel sat waiting for Jesse's sons to come before him, he looked at the first son, named Eliab, and he falsely assumed, based on on his outward appearance, that he surely must be the man God had chosen to be the next king.
Evidently Eliab was tall and handsome, and it appeared that he would make the perfect political figure head.
So, based upon the assumption of his good looks and height, 
Samuel thought he had found God's man.
"And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab,
and said, surely the Lord's anointed is before Him."
I Samuel 16:6
This is when God told him, "Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature:
because I have refused him:
for the Lord seeth not as man seeth:  for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh upon the heart."
God knew what was in Eliab's heart, and evidently He saw something there that would not be fitting to the king he had in mind to lead His chosen people.
The person He had chosen was actually a young, humble, unassuming shepherd boy named David,
who was out in the fields, tending Jesse's sheep.
David was worlds apart different from his older brother, Eliab.
In Acts 13:22, the Lord says,
"I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after Mine Own heart,
which shall fulfill all My will."
Outwardly, Eliab was a much more likely candidate for God to choose, but since God looks upon the heart, He, in His infinite wisdom, saw what He needed inside of David.
Therefore, David was God's choice.

So, you see, this passage of Scripture truly has nothing in the world to do with how we adorn our bodies, nor should it ever be used to justify our insistence upon dressing inappropriately.

God DOES look upon the heart, but, at the same time,
He DOES indeed care about the adequate covering of our outward bodies.
Nowhere in Scripture is this more evident than in Genesis 3.
When Adam and Eve realized they had sinned in the garden of Eden, they felt ashamed.
Their feeling of this conviction and subsequent actions are explained in Genesis 3:7.
"Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked;
so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves."
They felt the need to cover hide the shame they felt from their hide the nakedness they had only then discovered.
You can imagine how scant a garment would be were it to be comprised of only sewn-together fig leaves like the ones shown in the picture below.

Photo Source

There would be gaps and holes and see-through spots, leaving little to the imagination.
When God came searching for them, He did not find their scant attire of sewn-together fig leaves adequate to cover their nakedness.
So, in Genesis 3:21, we read,
"The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them."
These were solid garments, thick enough to cover the body and keep it warm,
loose enough to allow for movement,
 and adequately modest.

If God didn't care how we clothe our outward bodies, 
He would have deemed the fig leaf attire sufficient and satisfactory.

Myth #3:  
Modest = frumpy.

Does dressing modestly mean I have to go out and buy the exact same clothes my Great-Granny wears?
Does my closet have to replicate hers in order for me to cover my body?
Do I have to dress like a 90 year old woman in order to please God's requirement of modesty?
I think this may be the most absurd myth in need of debunkment.  (Is that a word???)
Modesty is a thing of beauty.
It automatically paints a rare and lovely picture of true femininity and gracious womanhood.
Modesty is attractive and, because of its near obscurity in our society,
it is a breath of refreshing air to come across and discover.
Believe it or not, there are still men in our world who find a modestly-dressed woman very appealing.
There are still men who seek after a woman who is adequately covered.
There are still men who respond with great respect for a woman who will dress like a true lady,
and they are more than happy to treat her like one when she does.
There are still men who regard intimacy as sacred,
who recognize a woman as precious,
and who long to find one who values herself enough to preserve her own purity.
There are still men who do not feel the need for a woman to expose her body in public,
leaving very little to the imagination of the men she encounters.
Thank God, there are still men who prefer to not be bombarded with indecency,
and who prefer to maintain the significance and blessedness of private communion.
Now, before I go farther, I will admit that it can be difficult to find modest clothes that are age-appropriate.
No one ever said it would be easy to live Godly.
Unfortunately, clothing designers purposely create clothes that are revealing, that draw attention to intimate body parts, that are way too form-fitting and tight,
that accentuate curves, and that elicit certain response mechanisms.
Often times, even when necklines are designed to be high enough, they are cut so widely,
that they become very revealing and immodest when the person wearing them bends over.
Let's be honest.
We live in a fallen world in which immorality "sells".
It sickens me to acknowledge it, but that's just the way it is.
As hard as it is though, with a little creativity, a little extra effort, and a strong sense of determination,
we can present ourselves in an attractive, even fashionable way, that is God-pleasing modest,
AND anything but frumpy.
Again, I do not intend to lay down my personal opinions on what comprises modest apparel.
I have to follow my own God-given convictions, and you must follow yours.
According to this link, modest means this:
"having or showing regard for the decencies of behavior, speech, dress, etc.; decent".
What is decent?
The Holy Spirit is our only sure Guide.
If we seek Him earnestly and diligently, with an open heart, He will make the path to holiness plain to us, not only along the lines of modesty of dress, but in every other aspect of our lives.

Myth #4:
It is my body, and I am not responsible for how others are affected by what I wear.

Is it really? 
My body?
If I am a Christian, am I really my own any longer?

"What?  Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you,
which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
for ye are bought with a price:
therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."
I Corinthians 6:19, 20

I am not insinuating that ANY inappropriate behavior or violation of privacy is EVER excusable,
under any circumstances, nor should it ever be justified or blamed upon another,
regardless of what they were wearing or doing beforehand.
Nor am I saying that we can control what goes on in the minds of others.

"So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God."
Romans 14:12

What I am saying is that, as Christian women, we should be mindful.
We should dress and conduct ourselves in a way that is Jesus-honoring and God-glorifying.
To willfully expose our bodies in an immodest and indecent manner
is to open the door to lust and temptation and to elicit spiritual battles in the minds of others.

"Let us not therefore judge one another any more:
but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother's way."
Romans 14:13

Our husbands, sons, fathers, pastors, and Christian brothers are bombarded with undress and seduction in all other parts of the world around us....
billboards, check-out line magazine covers, television and internet commercials and programming,
never mind their daily and continual personal interactions.
They should, in us, find a reprieve and an example of holiness and purity, should they not?

Myth #5:
It is too hot and uncomfortable to dress modestly.

It amazes me how we have convinced ourselves that there is no cross involved in following Jesus.
Did He ever promise it would be an easy path to follow in His footsteps?
His actual words were these...
"If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily,
and follow Me."
Luke 9:23
I am not saying that we should adopt a "poor, pitiful me", martyr-like mindset,
walking through life in misery, continually bemoaning the heaviness of our cross.
But, there are certain non-negotiables that are important in our Christian walk,
and many of them are going to involve the denying of our flesh and our own fleshly desires.
Covering our bodies sufficiently and modestly is one of those non-negotiables.
Jesus never promised that our lives would be comfortable,
nor did He tell us to do what feels good or what is easiest.
He told us to deny ourselves, take up our cross daily, and to follow Him.
Following Jesus' example will often require us to do the exact opposite of the world around us.
To "go with the flow" and blend in with the masses seldom involves bearing a cross,
and taking the path of least resistance rarely mimics the actions of our Lord.

Modest dress is important to God.
It should be important enough to us to do what we need to do to remain covered,
regardless of how uncomfortable and/or unpopular it causes us to be.
God always honors obedience and provides necessary grace to follow His will.
"And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee:
for My strength is made perfect in weakness.
Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities,
that the power of Christ may rest upon me."
2 Corinthians 12:9

Modesty matters, my dear friends.
What we do, and yes, what we wear, matters.
I realize this has become a "hot-button" issue and topic, even among Christian circles.
It is not something people seem to want to hear or something preachers want to discuss.
Regardless of what we do or do not want to hear and/or discuss,
modesty is still a Bible command.
It is not, nor will it ever be, legalism.
It is still a vital part of God's perfect plan for morality and decency.
God's rulebook for holiness will always remain the same,
no matter how the world around us diminishes or adjusts its ethical gauge and criterion.
The decline in the moral standards of our nation is appalling.
I can't help but believe that the relaxation of modesty guidelines and principles
is at least, in part, responsible for that downturn.
How refreshing it would be to see a modesty revival among Christian ranks!
How blessed it would be for each of us to seek the Lord's face diligently and sincerely,
asking Him to lead us in this area, then for us to show the way to others.

"Ye are the light of the world.
A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid."
Matthew 5:14

We are to lead and be strong, not to follow and go along.

How wonderful to know that if we have erred,
we have an Advocate and a God Who is ready to forgive!

"My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not.
And if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous:
and He is the propitiation for our sins, and not only for ours only
but also for the sins of the whole world."
I John 2:1,2

"For Thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive;
and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon Thee."
Psalm 86:5

Thank you so much for hearing me out, for reading all the way to the end of this very heavy,
long-winded post, and for your prayerful consideration of the burden God has laid upon my heart.

Written with much love from my heart to yours,