Hungry all the Time

In 1999, Ana Carolina Reston crossed the stage in Sao Paulo, Brazil.  At thirteen years old, she had just been named Queen of Jundiai, the winner’s sash draped around her slender figure.  Her mother and father, watching from the audience, beamed with pride.

“The other girls were podgy and had bottoms,” Mrs. Reston stated, “She won because she was slim and elegant.”

But in 2004, when Ana Reston answered a casting call in China, she was told she was “too fat”.  So by 2006, standing at 5’8″, Miss Reston weighed only 88 lbs and had a BMI of 13.4 (the World Health Organization considers a BMI of 16 to be starvation).  She died of complications related to anorexia nervosa and bulimia at the age of 21.

She was the second model to die from anorexia-complications in the year of 2006.  The first, Luisel Ramos, died of heart failure after living on a diet of lettuce and Diet Coke for three months.  Miss Ramos was participating in a fashion show and had just walked off the runway when she fainted and suffered a heart attack.  She was only 22.  Her sister Eliana, also a model, died in 2007 of malnutrition.

What is even more tragic about stories like these, is that these women are among the standards of beauty in our society.  Every little girl wants to be beautiful, and they look to models and celebrities to set the bar for that beauty.  Women like Ana, Luisel, and Eliana.

Anorexia nervosa is characterized as a psychiatric illness.  Sufferers develop an eating disorder, an extreme paronoia of obesity or weight gain, and an unrealistic perception of body weight.  Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by “binge” eating and subsequent purging.  Both are often accompanied by fasting and excessive exercise.

The increasing prevelance of these disorders in our society has got some people saying, “Enough is enough and this is madness.”  But not everyone agrees.

After reading an article in Newsweek about pro-anorexic (“pro-ana”) groups, I searched on Facebook for groups related to anorexia.  I was so saddened to see a number of pro-ana groups.  Some were listed under “Beliefs & Causes”, others under “Beauty”, still others under “Food & Drink”.  Many had default pictures of skeletal supermodels, called “Thinspiration”.  Members as young as nine asked for “fasting buddies”.  “Remember nothing tastes as good as thin feels!” one member wrote on a group wall.  Others offered tips for weight loss, or excuses to use on concerned family and friends.

Obsession with beauty is nothing new.  Every culture in every era of history has been concerned with physical appearance.  The standard of beauty may differ from society to society, but the pursuit of it is a universal human passion.  Our Heavenly Father acknowledged this in 1 Samuel 16:7; “Man looks on  the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”

Many people call anorexia nervosa a disease, and perhaps it is.  But, in another way, it is a symptom of a much larger disease.  We starve ourselves in the pursuit of something more than attention and beauty.  We are looking for worth and love, purpose and meaning.  We are looking for something to fill the huge hole inside of us.  Those who suffer from anorexia are no different than the rest of us in their longing to fill this emptiness; they only differ in their attempt to do so.

Anorexia nervosa is essentially a hunger, and it is a hunger which cannot be satisfied.  Not just a physical hunger for food, but a hunger for perfection, satisfaction, worth, attention, and acceptance.  But it is a neverending hunger.  No number on the scale is small enough; a pair of jeans sized 00 is still too big.  Men and women literally starve themselves in their efforts to lose weight.  They look in the mirror, and where others see thin, emaciated skeletons they see obesity.  It is a tragic picture of the struggle existing in each one of us apart from Christ; an insatiable, unquenchable longing for more.  We’ve seen it in celebrities and billionaires and even our beautiful, successful friends and neighbors who “have it all” and yet are always searching for that elusive happiness.

Why is nothing good enough?  Why is there no body perfect enough, no man or woman loving enough, no friend loyal enough, no luxury satisfiying enough, no lifestyle good enough to make us happy?  Why are we constantly wearing ourselves out in this incessant, unending pursuit of something better?  We are we constantly trying to end this ravenous hunger inside of us, and why are we always empty, no matter what we do?

The reason is because we are looking in all the wrong places.

In my high school health class, I had to spend a lot of time studying anorexia and related eating disorders.  My textbook said that being anorexic meant being hungry all the time.  But the strange thing is, we are all hungry all the time.  We are hungry for love.  We are hungry for purpose.  We are hungry for a relationship with our Maker.

This is natural.  Just as our bodies were designed to be fueled by the consumption of food, and we experience pain and hunger when we deprive ourselves of that nourishment, so our souls were designed to need a relationship with Christ.  Without Him, we are hungry.

What are you trying to feed this hunger with?  Maybe you struggle with an eating disorder, or self-injury.  You may try to fill this emptiness with a relationship, or a sport or talent, or a search for wealth and success.  You may search for it in drugs, or sex, or alcohol, or partying.  Whatever your pursuit, whatever your distraction, you know better than I do how unfulfilling it truly is.  Before I surrendered my life to Christ I thought that material things and relationships with other people could make me happy.  But they always left me empty.  Only Jesus Christ can satisfy the hunger that only He was meant to appease.

Dear friend, there is so much pain and sorrow in this world.  You know this first-hand.  Whatever your struggles are, I beg you to bring them to the feet of Jesus.  He is faithful.  If you need someone to talk to, or if you have questions, please feel free to email me (Keely) at sisterskeepersjournal@gmail.com.  I would love to talk with you.

 

“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters;

and he who has no money, come, buy and eat!

Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price

Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,

and your labor for that which does not satisfy?

Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,

and delight yourselves in rich food.

Incline your ear, and come to me;

hear, that your soul may live…”

Isaiah 55:1-3

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Just SMILE!

Did you know….

Women smile 62 times a day, on average?  That’s 54 MORE times than most men smile in a day (only 8!).  But guys truly love a woman’s smile.

After eyes, a smile is the first thing noticed in a person.

A smile is recognized as a symbol of happiness, kindness, and friendship all over the world.  All cultures recognize a smile this way.

Scientists say that there are 18 different types of smiles.

Babies have special smiles that they reserve just for their loved ones (mamas should feel loved when their baby smiles at them!).

People judge individuals who smile often as being more competent, pleasant, sincere, sociable and attractive then those who don’t.

Smiling is natural…not a learned habit that humans get from watching others.  Even infants who are born blind smile.

When we smile, we release endorphins that help us feel better.  Even faking a smile can make you happier!  As the old saying says, “Your day goes the way the corners of your mouth turn.”

30 minutes of real laughter increases your white blood cell count by 25%, helping your body fight disease more effectively.  The Bible is right again…laughter truly is the best medicine!

Not dressed your best today?  Smile!  People rarely notice shabby clothes when you smile.

A smile can brighten someone’s day.  88% of people remember someone with an attractive smile.

You really can be a scientist who studies laughter!  Such scientists are called “gelotologists”.

In this day and age of rushing and hurrying and “me first” mentalities, a simple smile can be a major witness for Christ!  So smile at those you pass…at the people in the grocery store and the teen behind the counter, the folks in the fast food line and the customers that come to you.  Smile at your siblings even when they interuppt your studies, smile at your friends and your family at the table.  It’s such a simple gesture, it takes no effort or time, and it can brighten someone’s day and warm their heart.  A smile is a reflection of the joy you have in Jesus!

Moral of the story??

SMILE!

 

Some of the info from the Christa-Taylor blog.

Unrealistic Beauty

Have you ever looked at a magazine or TV ad and felt ugly and worthless, unable to compare with the beautiful models you saw?  If so, you are not alone.  Many women feel this way…we see the “perfect” standard of beauty on TV and feel unable to live up to it.  Anorexia and bulimia are conditions becoming increasingly prevalent in our culture, as girls and women starve themselves in an attempt to be as “thin” as the models on TV.  Women are literally dying to find worth, and culture tells us that the surest road to value when you are a woman is physical beauty.

Girls, our standard of beauty is distorted.  We are told that beauty has one size, one skin color, one height, one weight.  But that’s not true.  God designed each of us in our mother’s womb (Psalm 139) and He looks at us as unique and beautiful and made in His image.

Pop culture cultivates an ideal of beauty that is not only unrealistic, but totally imagined.  Check out these videos for a little bit of perspective.  Most of the photos you see are airbrushed and edited, images that no human can live up do and only a computer can generate.  Outward beauty in any form will never give us true and lasting happiness.  Being satisfied with what we look like on the outside will not bring eternal joy.  Only a relationship with Christ can do that (Psalm 16:11).

Do you struggle with feelings of worthlessness because of your physical appearance?  Maybe your heart is heavy with thoughts of comparison, like, “I’ll never be as pretty as she is” or “No guy will ever want me I’m not pretty enough”.  Remember that what makes a woman truly beautiful is her heart and her devotion to the Lord (Proverbs 31:30).  You can be gorgeous in the eyes of your Maker.

After you watch these clips, check out Distorted Beauty, an article by Carolyn Mahaney, for some real perspective on the beauty issue.

Let Your Beauty Shine, Part 2

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In the last installment, we discussed some “groundwork” on the subject of make-up. I attempted not to get too specific. Every family and every individual has different guidelines and sentiments on the subject, and what your parents say is what really matters, not my opinions. Now, in this section, I’d like to cover the basic types of make-up. Obviously I won’t cover everything, but here are just some of the basics and what they are used for, divided up into three sections: skin, eyes, and lips.

Skin:

Concealor/Cover-up: This is used to cover minor blemishes or discolorations of the skin. Don’t get too carried away! Concealor should be used sparingly or it looks fake and unnatural. Pick a shade that is one or two shades lighter than the color of your skin for the best results.

Foundation: Foundation is used to even out the skin tones. It comes in different forms, such as powder and liquid. Pick a color that is very close to the shade of your skin (keep in mind that you may need a darker color during the summer, and a lighter shade for winter, as your skin tans and fades).

Blush: Blush should be used subtly to lend color to your cheeks, adding a highlight to your face. Take care that you don’t overdo it! Pinch your cheeks gently a few times and then pick a shade that matches that color.  TIP: the best way to apply blush that I have found is to smile!  Then, using a big fluffy brush, lightly apply the blush over the apples of your cheeks that are prominent when you smile.  This look is much more natural than just sweeping blush up the sides of your face!

Finishing powder: Though not used as commonly as concealor, foundation and blush, finishing powder can help blend your make-up for a smoother, more natural look.

Eyes:

Eye shadow: Pick a shade that compliments your natural eye color (hazel eyes: browns and pinks, brown eyes: browns and violets, blue eyes: blues and tans, green eyes: greens and violets). Again, for best results, your eye shadow shouldn’t be loud or noticable. It should just compliment your eye color.

Mascara: Mascara defines, darkens, and intensifies your eyelashes. Apply your mascara after you’ve applied your eye shadow. Otherwise, your mascara could get messy if your colorful eye shadow drops on your wet lashes. Apply your mascara with smooth, upward strokes. If your eyelashes clump, use an eyelash comb to gently brush out your lashes while the mascara is still wet (you can also use a baby toothbrush or a dry mascara applicator brush). Again, your mascara should look natural, not clumped and stringy. Apply mascara more to the base of your lash, rather than the ends. If you’re experiencing difficulty, wet your lashes, or add a little powder to make them look thicker and longer. Some mascaras come with volumizers. Generally these aren’t necessary, but experiment with them and see what you think. When you are done, use a q-tip dipped in lotion or cosmetic remover to clean up any messy little drops of mascara around your eyes.

Eye liner: Eye liner comes in three different forms: brush, liquid, and pencil. Liner is used right along the lash line. It draws attention to the eye and adds depth and thickness to the appearance of the eyelashes. For the most understated look, use an eye pencil. Liquid is for the top of the eye only and takes practice in order to apply it correctly. An angle brush can be wet to make a neat, fine line circumnavigating the eye, or just on top. For formal outings, experiment with different methods of eye liner to get a beautiful, dramatic, smoky-eye look. Christa Taylor’s blog gives some great eye liner advice, here.

Lips:

Lipstick: Say that word and visions of the dramatic looks of the mid twentieth century come to mind! But lipstick is making a comeback, though almost wiped out by the explosively popular arrival of lip gloss in the 1990’s. This look is very grown-up and bold, so more youthful lip products like lip balm, gloss and shimmer are generally better for young women. If you are interested in trying it, consider choosing a light shade of pink or peach that compliments your skin without looking indelicate. Remember this tip: if you play up your lips, keep your eye make-up subtle for a balanced look. This works both ways. For example if you want to do a dramatic smoky eye, then use a light pink, peach or nude lip treatment.

Lip gloss, balm or shimmer: Products, options, colors, types…the choices are endless! Experiment with a few or ask a girlfriend for her favorites. There are so many products out there that it is hard to choose just one! Natural or clear lip balm is fine for everyday. Lip gloss or shimmer is perfect for more formal occasions. If you really need help, try the Burt’s Bees line of lip treatments. These natural products are really a great way to go, and lots of girls love them.

When you’re all done: At night, always remember to remove your make-up.  This gives your skin a chance to breathe and prevents clogged pores.  Also, leaving mascara on overnight can weaken your lashes or make them brittle and unhealthy.  There are different options for removing make-up.  You can use make-up remover for your eyes, which often comes in a bottle, or a facial cleansing wipe, or just a warm washcloth.  When I’m done, I like to use lotion around my eyes because it is good for sensitive skin, moisturizes skin, and removes any excess make-up.

Whew! We’ve covered a lot of ground! But those are basically the elements of the make-up world. Hopefully, this has given you a few tips for navigating the shelves of your local drugstore. If you need a little extra help, check out the ModesTeen and Christa Taylor blogs, or the Brio Magazine Health & Beauty Center, all of which I found helpful in compiling this two-part series, for some excellent advice from a Christian perspective.

Remember, true beauty comes from within. What truly matters is your heart. You can have perfect make-up and a cute outfit and still be a mess in your heart. Jesus used the simile of washing the outside of the cup and ignoring the inside, or whitewashing a tomb. Be careful, as the Bible says, that you do not gain the world and lose your soul! Keep your focus where it should be. Cosmetics are fun, and there’s nothing wrong with being the beautiful girl God made you. But in the end, all that truly matters is your heart. Lay up your treasure in heaven, where moth and rust cannot destroy, nor thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also! Finally, remember, don’t worry and stress about what you will wear. It’s so easy to get caught up in this trap and become anxious about make-up and clothes! Instead, recall Jesus’ words in Matthew. Consider the lilies of the field, they don’t toil or spin, and yet not Solomon in all his glory was arrayed like one of these! Your Father in Heaven is more than capable of taking care of your physical needs, so don’t stress out! As His child, He can and will take care of you, and He knows what you need even before you ask Him.

Let Your Beauty Shine, Part 1

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 I love going to Christian camps or conferences or hanging out with a big group of girlfriends. Everyone has such different methods of make-up, and skin and hair care! If you’ve ever been to a girl’s bathroom at an overnight gathering, you know what I mean. You’ve seen the dozens of different make-up bags brimming with powders, creams, brushes, lipsticks, moisturizers, toners, cleansers, lotions, blushes, eye shadows, foundations, concealors and glosses. Maybe you’ve been daunted by a forest of big tubes of shampoo, conditioner, gel, mousse, leave-in and hairspray, or been tangled in a web of straightener and blow dryer cords! I’m sure you get the picture. There are lots of products and methods out there. And while it’s fun to hear different regimes and tips, it can also get a little overwhelming!

Well, hopefully this series won’t add to your confusion. I hope you are blessed by what you read, and maybe a little encouraged. Trust me, outside beauty is the least of your worries. What really shines is your heart for Jesus. Work on that and the rest will follow. You can’t help but glow when you have the light of the Lord inside of you.

But it’s totally natural for a girl to be interested in making a good presentation. In fact, when not exploited or over-emphasised, it’s a good thing. To be healthy and comfortable in your own skin is a wonderful feeling.

However, contrary to our culture’s “popular belief”, that doesn’t involve globs of goey make-up. You don’t need to paint your face in order to be beautiful! Just let your natural, God-given loveliness shine.

Like I mentioned earlier, everyone has different methods and beauty tips, and you, too, will develop a good schedule as time goes on. Not one plan works for everyone. Some people struggle with acne or blotchy skin and prefer to use concealors and foundations; others have naturally clear skin and don’t need cover-ups. Some have oily skin and try to avoid moisturizers and make-up removers, but some girls have dry skin and need to use lotions to keep their skin healthy. Some girls like to use mascara and eyeliner, others find these too harsh or damaging or unnatural. Everyone is different, and there aren’t any universal “rules”. But a girl looking to honor the Lord in her appearance may want to keep these tips in mind.

  • Don’t be forced to start wearing make-up too young. Our society is forcing girls to grow up at a younger and younger age. You don’t need to buy into that. Older sisters bear a big part in not pressuring their younger sisters by their words or actions to grow up too fast. And younger girls, listen to your parents and don’t follow culture’s lies. You are beautiful just as you are and you don’t need make-up! Just look at what Psalm 139 has to say about what God thinks of you. However, if you feel like you are old enough, you’ve talked with your parents and you really want to try make-up, consider a little lip gloss or balm for starters. For Sundays or formal occasions, add a little extra shimmer with Burt’s Bees Lip Shimmer (my favorite color is Guava). Eye shadow is also fun. If you have blue eyes, try a blue or tan eye shadow. Brown eyes look gorgeous with browns and violets, and hazel eyes shine when you dust on a pink or brown shadow, while green eyes like mine look best with violets or greens. Remember, the point of eye shadow isn’t for people to notice that you are wearing it. Eye shadow is just a subtle enhancement that helps bring out your natural eye color. Whatever you decide, talk with your mom and dad and listen to what they say.
  • Wearing make-up doesn’t have to be an everyday thing. In fact, it shouldn’t be something that you depend on so much that you can’t go outside unless you “put your face on”. If you find yourself becoming attached to and dependent on your make-up to the point where you feel like you can’t be seen unless you are wearing it, that is a sign that it is becoming too important to you, and also that your make-up may be a tad too unnatural. Again, make-up should be subtle, not startling and clownish. Because our culture seems to have forgotten that you can be beautiful without make-up. Talk with your parents or Christian girlfriends and ask them to help keep you accountable in this area. Ask God to show you what kind of beauty is truly important in His eyes, and how you can cultivate that. Ask Him to help that kind of inner beauty be your focus.
  • Remember, heavy make-up itself isn’t sinful. Dramatic looks like smoky eye can be fun, especially in formal settings. But make-up goes all wrong when our overal look is sensual or enticing, when we wear too much because we think we need it in order to look beautiful or just because we want the attention. Remember, make-up isn’t really the problem, what really matters is our heart and attitude. Make-up is just powders and pastes. The real problem lies within ourselves (Jeremiah 17:9).

In Part 2, we’ll talk about the different types of make-up. Stay tuned!

Author’s Favs:

Bodycology White Gardenia Body Cream

~I love the subtle, yummy scent and creamy feel. Gentle enough to use on the face, which comes in handy during the winter season when skin is prone to drying out.

wetnwild Crystallic Nail Polish

~A glittery polish that is super pretty and feminine. I like the Golden Pink/Rose shade, though it is very subtle. Also great for giving your little sisters manicures!

Burt’s Bees Lip Shimmer

~I mentioned this one in the article. I bought a tube of this for around two dollars, figuring I’d just give it a shot and see how I liked it. I’d never purchased a Burt’s Bees product before. I loved this lip balm! Soon I had my sister and one of my best friends hooked. A luminescent shimmer made with natural products, this balm is perfect for casual days and formal outings alike. Contains peppermint which gives a fun tingling sensation. I use the color Guava, but there are many shades to choose from.

    Fashion Contest

    Two Perspectives

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    “The way girls dress these days!”

    Jared let his breath out through inflated cheeks, his eyes wide. Madison looked up from her vanilla iced coffee, raising her eyebrows.

    “What about it?” she asked.

    Jared shook his head dramatically. “Man,” he sighed, “Did you see that girl? Her shorts must have had, like, a two-inch inseam.”

    “Really?” Madison sipped her coffee distractedly.

    “Yeah…and what exactly is holding up that tube top anyway?” He shuddered.

    Madison raised an eyebrow. “It’s called elastic, Jared.”

    “It’s still pretty provocative, don’t you think?” he argued.

    Leaning back, Madison shrugged her shoulders. “Sure, I guess. I mean, yeah it’s not too thoughtful of her to wear that around guys, probably.”

    Thoughtful?!” Jared sputtered, leaning forward eagerly and almost toppling his mint chocolate shake in the process, “Oh! Trust me! She put plenty of thought into that outfit!”

    Madison folded her arms across her chest quizzically. “Whadda ya mean?”

    Jared put on a Paris Hilton expression, pitching his voice to sound like a woman’s. “Oh my gosh! These teensy-weensy shorts that accentuate my butt are just what I need to catch the guys’ attention! And this tube top! Tight on my chest…tight on my stomach…centimeters away from falling off…it’s perfect! I’ll cause plenty of guys to stumble in this!” Jared laughed at his own imitation, but Madison did not look amused.

    “I doubt she thought that…” she replied slowly.

    “No, Maddie, trust me,” Jared blustered, “Why do you think she dresses like that? It can’t be comfortable! She’s doing that because she knows that it makes guys lust after her.”

    “What makes you such an expert on the way women think, Jared?” Madison frowned.

    Jared blinked. “What…?”

    “You don’t get it! Most girls don’t think like that. That girl over there is just wearing that outfit because it’s fashionable and she thinks it looks cute! She doesn’t realize what sick brains you guys have.” Madison rolled her eyes.

    “Whoa!” Jared exclaimed, “Give it a rest, girl! C’mon even you dress that way sometimes!”

    “Me?!?” Madison stammered, “Wha–”

    “Please!” Jared cried, “Are you gonna tell me that that top you wore on Sunday…the one that was a just a little bit tighter and lower than your others…wasn’t at least partially chosen because Darren Turner was back from boot camp?”

    Madison blushed. “I–”

    “Don’t tell me you never even thought of that!” Jared crowed, leaning back against the chair and crossing his arms triumphantly.

    “Well…I…I just thought that shirt was pretty,” Maddie faltered, “I didn’t mean it like that…

    “Not even a little?” Jared persisted.

    “Well…sometimes I get a little more attention when I wear it,” Madison admitted, blushing deeply, “But…you know…I wasn’t trying to…to make him think…like…that or anything. I just wanted him to…” she hung her head and bit her lip. Her words came in a whisper. “I wanted him to notice me.”

    “Well that’s what I mean,” Jared answered, not unkindly.

    But Madison glanced up angrily. “Hey, I didn’t want him to lust or anything! I didn’t prove your point at all, Jared. Is it my problem that you guys can’t keep your eyes to yourselves?”

    “You know that guys think differently than girls, Maddie, we’ve talked about that in youth group,” Jared answered, looking down.

    “Yeah, and so I do try to dress right, Jared, I really do,” Madison cried, “But then you Christian guys, who condemn every girl who accidently shows a bit too much skin, go all ga-ga every time you see a girl dressed immodestly, and follow her around like puppy dogs and shower her with attention, leaving us good Christian girls who actually cover our bodies standing in the dust!”

    “Hey wait a minute…accidently show too much skin?” Jared repeated. “I thought we just established that it’s rarely an accident when women dress immodestly.”

    ‘Established’?” Madison scoffed, “We didn’t ‘establish’ any such thing, Jared Baxter! I told you…a girl doesn’t just stand in front of the mirror in her house trying to figure out how to make guys lust after her. Not most girls anyway. Sometimes we might like the rush of the attention, or we might really want guys to pay attention to us for our bodies. Sometimes we just think we do. But the fact of it is, we often don’t understand the full potential of immodesty and what it does to guys’ brains. We see a guy staring at us and we think ‘he thinks I’m pretty’, not ‘he’s wanting to sleep with me’.”

    “Well guys see immodestly dressed girls and think ‘she wants me to mentally undress her’,” Jared replied quietly.

    Madison bit her lip. “Well…I didn’t know that. Most girls don’t know that, Jared. You can’t condemn a girl completely. Maybe she’s just ignorant. I’m not excusing immodesty, I’m just saying that some guys misunderstand the way girls think, just like we don’t understand what makes you men tick sometimes. The truth is, girls are wired to want to be appreciated by guys. When we see that dressing immodestly gets us that attention…well, sometimes we just give in. It’s not right…it’s still sinful and against God’s Word. But also understand that we don’t totally see the devastating effects that our actions cause sometimes. We’re just doing what culture tells us is normal and right, and what guys…yeah, even some Christian guys…respond to.”

    The two were quiet for a moment. Then Jared spoke up, his voice more gentle this time.

    “Hey, Maddie, you know what you said earlier…about how we guys sometimes have a double standard when it comes to modesty and honoring girls who respect our weaknesses? I realized that you’re right. I was thinking about the way I followed that girl at camp around last summer…the one who dressed kind of bad, and who you warned me was a flirt. I sit here and self-righteously judge the girls who parade their bodies around, and yet I give them the attention I should reserve for the modest, Christ-centered girl God has for me. I ignore those girls who don’t act provocative and flirtatious because they don’t want me to stumble. They’ve got the same bodies, they just don’t show them off. I know that it’s a battle for girls when all the world is pushing them to dress shamelessly, and it’s really ungrateful of me not to respect them for working so hard to keep guys like me from stumbling. I imagine it’s really confusing to those girls, too, who are just trying to honor us and the Lord, when we guys reward immodest gals with our attention. I’m sorry, Mad.”

    Madison smiled. “That’s OK, Jared. And…I’m sorry about the way I dressed on Sunday. I think I see what you mean. I didn’t explicitly admit this to myself but…in my heart I knew that I really wanted Darren to notice me…even though that shirt was a little questionable. I reasoned that it wasn’t as bad as what some girls wore. And honestly, I didn’t reason too much. I just wanted so bad for Darren to…to pay attention to me. I should have put Christ first. And I should have been more humble when you brought it up to me just now.”

    Jared grinned. “That’s OK…what are brothers-in-Christ for, anyway? I needed to listen to you better, too, instead of acting like a big know-it-all jerk. Maybe we can both keep each other accountable in this area? You know…you let me know if I’m chasing the wrong type of girl.”

    “And you can help me stay committed to being careful about how I dress,” Madison finished. She smiled. “Yeah. I’d like that.”