Monday, June 30, 2008

A Biblical Bachelorette Party?!

As a co-matron of honor for my friend's wedding, I have the task along with the other co-matron of honor of planning a bachelorette party for her. This past Saturday I spent a handful of hours perusing aisle after aisle in every decor section you can imagine from every party store in a 30-mile radius. Needless to say, afterwards, my wallet was slightly lighter and my mind exhausted. But my spirit was also wounded in the process.

Some of the rites of passages in America's culture could probably be best summed up as "disrespectful." Bachelor/ette parties probably rank pretty high up on the crass meter. Nowadays, you'd be hard-pressed to find a "blushing bride." I was appalled to see all types of "games" where the bride-to-be is dared to flash her undies, kiss random guys, dole out her phone number and a lot worse than that. No wonder marriage isn't seen as being fun or even enjoyable when the bride-to-be embarks on her so-called "last night out." Or recently when I thumbed through a coworker's rehearsal dinner photos noticing that the poor guy had to literally wear a ball and chain all day. What kind of message are we sending to others?

But I also believe that the Christian woman who has remained chaste up until her wedding day certainly deserves some type of celebration. She's definitely earned it! I am still amazed at the level of "liberty" that some Christian gals engage in for their bachelorette parties. Sex in its biblical context is a very beautiful and sacred thing. I don't believe that it needs to be taboo or whispered about, but it still needs to be respected and revered. As I mentioned to my friend while planning the party, "just because it's a bachelorette party it doesn't mean you don't have to be holy." God's Word in 1 Peter 1:15-16 says, "But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy."

For some, this is a very hard pill to swallow that may dampen their idea of fun. That's what happens when you ask me to plan your party, ha! Anyways, as part of my own pre-wedding festivities, I had two special parties that had two very different concepts.

The first one was about a month before our wedding date and for lack of a better term it was called an "Intimacy" party. Basically it's a time to gather a small group of married women, of all ages, and even some of your female relatives (if you're comfortable with that) to discuss marriage, embarrassing moments on your honeymoon, different stages of marital life, and advice on everything in between. From my family my mom, sister, cousin, and aunt were present. Other women who were invited were old family friends and college friends. This was a unique time, because no one had ever heard of this idea or knew what to expect. We had laughs when they all arrived and swore a vow of secrecy to anything mentioned in my small living room. Cheesecake and coffee made for some easy ice-breaking in discussing private matters. It was so neat to hear hilarious mishaps on honeymoons and encouragement in not expecting perfection. It was very memorable to me, but I gotta say, I don't think the invitees will ever forget it either!

If in the future you opt to help plan something similar, make sure the party is held relatively close to the wedding date. This will help the bride-to-be's purity, knowing that very soon, it will be a reality. Also, keep in mind when planning whom to invite that depending on the guests' relationships to one another, the topics at hand may be awkward to discuss and transparency may also be compromised. Besides a vow of secrecy (insert pinky-swear here), the hostess will also need to make a point of no husband bashing allowed; really, there is no need.

The second one was a simple lingerie party held the weekend of our wedding. This was mostly with my bridesmaids and held at my parents' home on their back porch (at night; not in broad daylight!). It was sweet, innocent, and I blushed a little. Unlike one of my cousins, my mother did not buy me any lingerie for the honeymoon!

Both parties were fun, entertaining, relatively inexpensive since they were done at homes, and crassness was nowhere near to be found. Might I also add that as a guest to a bachelorette party, you also have the responsibility and discernment to know what activities are inappropriate for you or tempt you to compromise your values. I've driven all the way to Charleston before, only to leave apologetically and go to my sister's home instead. Ladies, it's not worth it. There is a lot at stake, mainly your witness to others around you as well as living righteously before the Lord. Think also of your husband or boyfriend and put yourself in their shoes.

To any ladies who have yet to be married, please take these thoughts into consideration. And for those who are married, seek to be a special blessing to a bride-to-be. Now more than ever, she will need encouragement to make it to her wedding day and be edified through Scripture.

Song of Songs 4:12, "You are a garden locked up, my sister, my bride; you are a spring enclosed, a sealed fountain."

Friday, June 27, 2008

Honesty you can eat

A lot of people talk about how God's timing is not ours (agreed), but isn't it great when you receive an immediate blessing from being obedient? I learned that yesterday while at the downtown farmer's market.

Strolling through vendor after vendor, colors bright and vibrant everywhere, with some live music filtering through the air. It was perfect! My senses were alive and rekindled. I had a list (of course) of veggies to buy for this weekend's meals. I was drawn to an older man sitting at his table by his friendly smile. I'm a sucker for smiles :) After pilfering through bushels of red potatoes, tomatoes, onions and more, I chose my lucky few and he weighed them.

I got quite a bit for all of $4. I handed him a $20, apologized for lack of smaller bills, and he handed me back two $10s and $1. I gave a puzzled look and said "Sir, you gave me $21 and I only need $16 back." He also shot me a confused look and said, "Ohh, I thought I gave you $5 in there. Since you were honest, go ahead and grab something for free."

He didn't have to tell me twice. I scooped up a sweet-smelling fuzzy peach and thanked him.

Luke 16:10-11, “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven?"

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Praying for miracles

I'm hungry now, but it's worth it.

See previous post.

"Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God." ~ Deuteronomy 8:3

Monday, June 23, 2008

Fasting for Compassion

It doesn't take long to figure out that the world is seemingly spinning out of control; natural disasters, gas prices, a weak U.S. dollar, the political arena, etc. One of the problems is the global food crisis that is greatly affecting all of the third-world nations.

If living off of $2 a day seems unthinkable, try $1 (which is what most of our global brothers and sisters live off of now). You may have noticed that the price of rice, beans, and other grains has surprisingly increased at your local supermarket. This affects millions of people at the most basic level: survival.

I am so grateful for organizations such as Compassion International and World Vision and their donors who are able to help offset the deficit of need for children all over the planet. Unfortunately, many Compassion children are able to receive their only meal nowadays at the centers they attend (sponsored by Compassion).

On Wednesday, June 25th, join with me in prayer and fasting for Compassion and the global food crisis. While Christ is our ultimate need, I pray that God will bring relief to suffering families and provide unexpected blessings along the way.

Another great video to truly see what millions are facing....

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


The past few weeks of late spring have been filled with reading. I've been reading "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life" by Barbara Kingsolver and it's inspiring. I highly recommend this book. It's inspiring me to "think globally, act locally" especially as it relates to food in my life. How is this coming about? In very small steps, until before you know it, your entire surroundings have been changed.

Our surroundings have changed recently by growing herbs (basil, cilantro, garlic chives, and oregano) and just a few days ago a tomato plant. Not having any dedicated green space of our own to grow things bothers me, but it's forcing us to get creative in the process. Our balcony is where we're growing everything and its space is limited. We've decided to grow our tomatoes upside-down. I really hope it works! There are kits available or you can create your own (what we did). Anyways, with rising gas prices that affect every little thing, vegetable gardens are making a big comeback. It's one way to help lower your overall cost of food by growing it yourself. I think my husband's heard me say one too many times, "When we have land, I can't wait to grow _______."

Since it's painfully obvious that we won't be yielding much to feast upon, we're now setting our sights on local farmers and producers. In Kingsolver's book, she makes some great observations about the importance of where our food comes from and how it affects the global economy as a whole. I have to confess my ignorance about my foods' origins. Some of my produce needs a passport to get to my kitchen. The ramifications of that reflect in various ways: petrol use to cart the produce, human labor, freshness, flavor, and overall quality. That's why buying local matters. It allows farmers to continue their livelihood, keeps money in your county or state, saves overall petrol use, and better yet the food tastes more flavorful! You may have not realized this, but any type of produce is more nutritionally sound the fresher it is. According to the FDA, fresh produce will lose half or more of some of its vitamins within one to two weeks. In this case, time is health. Let's not waste it.

Like most people, money and budgeting for food is a priority in our household. Thankfully, I have not noticed a major difference in comparing what we would have paid for produce from our grocer versus from our local farmers market. And to be honest, a few extra quarters from my changepurse in exchange for supporting a local neighbor doesn't bother me in the least.

I could really go on and on about this topic, but I'll spare you the details and give you some links to peruse instead (as if I hadn't already given enough). I strongly encourage you to dig in and see what becoming a locavore is all about!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Confessions of a Food Junkie, Part 3

Okay, as my quirky English professor joked, "The Father is in."

A couple of weeks ago I revealed my new fitness plan of going to Bootcamp at 5:30 am every M, W, F. Well, here's the confession: I went. Two whole times. wince. Here's my story and I'm sticking to it: it was the pace of bootcamp, not the actual physical activity that did me in.

Here's the upside though: my husband and I have been running after work together on those days instead. It equals out to about 2 miles round trip per run. I feel for drivers and passengers who have the bad fortune of watching me run alongside the road. I don't have a pretty running's usually flushed and sweaty with furrowed brows. And I'm sure my legs look like how I feel, full of lead. Anyways, in addition to that we've started playing tennis and swimming too. I've never really been a fan of summer before, especially now being a part of the nation's workforce (bye bye beloved summer break), but summer's growing on me. It gets darn hot and humid where we live, and it's going to reach 100 today I hear.

More (good) confessions: I've been eating so well guys! I told my husband I've become a fruit addict, though not a fruitatarian (and yes they do exist!). My lunches have a ziploc baggie full of strawberries, grapes, or a banana most days. And I've even gotten into the habit of eating some crunchy carrots for a snack. Consequently, my diet has gotten a major boost of fiber because of this. I can't believe that my diet was so severely lacking before! Now, I can't imagine not eating a couple of servings of fruit or vegetables every day. I've also had fun concocting fruit smoothies as desserts.

My encouragement to anyone struggling in fitness or nutrition areas as I do is to take it in small steps. At first the running was a chore and I had to force myself to eat some fruit, simply because I knew I needed to. But now, I practically can't get enough of either. And while I do ultimately want to thin down just a couple of pounds, I already have a more positive self-image knowing that I'm eating healthily and exercising on a regular basis. I feel better and lighter somehow too.

I have a rabid sweet tooth, but surprisingly the fruit really satisfies any cravings I have. And yes, I still eat ice cream occasionally and other goodies, but definitely not like I used to. My habit of eating dessert every night has also faded. Since chocolate is my absolute favorite thing, I enjoy it now via chocolate soymilk. It really tastes decadent when you've desensitized your tastebuds to the real thing. That theory also holds true for me regarding other desserts.

Okay, so here's my little list of yummy snacks that have helped me stay on target:
Kashi GoLean Crunch cereal
100 calorie pudding cups (chocolate!)
carrot sticks
strawberries (I go through a quart a week)
bottled water with those flavored to-go mixes
sweet & salty nut bars like Nature's Valley
chocolate soymilk
trail mix (make sure you measure the serving size before gobbling down)

On a fitness note, if you're geeky and visually-minded, I use a very simple (and free) activity tracker just to show me what I've accomplished. I'm working on the "Active Lifestyle" program in which the goal is at least 30 minutes a day for 5 days a week. Still not perfect, but 3 days is better than nothing.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Psalm 84:6

This morning while reading through Psalms, I came across a beautiful verse:

“When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of refreshing springs, where pools of blessing collect after the rains!” Psalm 84:6 (NLT)

It's an easy verse to casually glimpse over and on to the next. But the Spirit encouraged me to take pause and let it steep.

The Valley of Weeping is actually called Baca in Hebrew. I looked up Baca in Holman's Illustrated Bible Dictionary (highly recommended) and here is its entry:

  • Baca: (bay' cuh) Place name meaning, “Balsam tree” or “weeping.” A valley in Psalm 84:6 which reflects a poetic play on words describing a person forced to go through a time of weeping who found God turned tears into a well, providing water.
What beauty is in that! God's sovereignty over our lives can take our mangled pieces of sorrow and tragedy and use them to provide blessings for us afterwards! It is hard to imagine how the death of a child or spouse, or even a dream could eventually provide us with a blessing somehow. But God is in the business of turning junk into treasure. Think about it, the entire theme of the Bible could be described as redemption.

I hope that if you're going through something unbearable right now, you'll be able to cling to this verse and have hope in the blessings ahead. God is with you!