Monday, November 14, 2022

Honoring Christ in the way I dress (Repost)

I originally published this post in November of 2021, and I recently felt led to repost it. I pray it can be an encouragement to someone today <3
Since day one, I've been Sadie's "Mama Ellie." My little sister is younger than me by almost 14 years (Mom found out she was pregnant with her two weeks before my 13th birthday) and we look alike to an unbelievable extent. She has big, brown eyes like mine and she knows how to make the best use of them at her age. Mom complied to a request from her one time simply because Sadie's pleading spilled over into her eyes, and later on Sadie decided to take advantage of that. Sitting in the "timeout chair" after doing something wrong, she focused on Mom and said, "Look at my eyes! Can I get down?" (It was adorable, but no, the strategy didn't work.) 

As a big sister to her as well as six other siblings (four of whom are also girls), I have a wide range of influence on them in my dress, speech, and actions. The other day Sadie and I got into a discussion about my clothes. I told her God gave girls skirts and wants us to look feminine, which was why I was putting a skirt on that day, and she answered in all seriousness, "Jesus gave me pants!" I wasn't expecting that response and tried to hide my smile as I thought of how best to explain to a three-year-old that yes, God allows us to wear pants, but at the same time He created us as girls and He wants us to look like girls and protect our purity. 

Our conversation soon backfired on me when, the next morning, I came downstairs for breakfast still wearing my pajamas: flannel "fuzzy" pants and a T-shirt. "Ellie," Sadie said, "did God make you a girl?"

Scrounging around in the fridge for the milk, I answered, "Yes, of course He did." I thought we cleared this up yesterday. Where is she going with this?

"But you're wearing pants."

Uh oh.

Let it be known now that I wear pants to bed; I wear them when I go jogging; I wear them especially during the winter, when it's cold, or when I'm biking; I don't think there's anything wrong with wearing pants, provided my heart motives are in the right place. I'm at the age where, led by the Spirit, I can make these decisions for myself. But I have sisters who are thirteen, eleven, seven, three, and one years old, and I want to be a role model for them now in this area.

In a day and age where girls are told to "be who they want to be" and let every curve of their body be exposed, it's vitally important that my sisters know the truth. It needs to be reestablished to them (and every young woman) that they're beautiful, they were created by God as girls, they're worth waiting for, and the only ones who should see and know everything about them are God and their future husband. No item of clothing (pants, skirts, dresses, shirts, etc.) should be worn to draw attention. If it's practical, then by all means, yes, wear it. 

The pastor from a church we attended this past year thought Mom and Dad had raised us according to some kind of cult based off our views on modesty and family, which is so not true! I want others to see a difference in me because of Christ. I want to honor Him with my body and with my clothes. That doesn't mean I don't struggle with temptation, because I do. There are times I want to "fit in" and feel tired of trying to stay modest when it seems no one else, not even other believers, hold the same convictions I do. 

I don't condemn those who are different than me. I was once turned off from someone's blog when it felt like the blogger slammed me for being okay with wearing pants, and that is not what I'm trying to do in this post.

Clothes don't make the Christian; the heart does.

"Do not let your adorning be external--the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear--but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious." 1 Peter 3:3-4

Christian young ladies, we need to be confident in who we are in Christ. Our bodies are His temple; we're called to honor that. Today, let's examine our hearts and make Spirit-led decisions regarding every area of our life, including our clothing, to bring Him glory.


What're your thoughts on modesty? Do you have sisters for whom you need to set the example? Comment below!

Blessings,

Ellen S.

Monday, September 26, 2022

Monday Musings // Volunteer Work, Pumpkin Cookies, Pedal Boats, & the Zoo

Good morning, all! So, no promises, but I would like to try to do a Monday Musings post every other week. 

Midway through the month (and almost a full week after my brother, Luke, and I walked 22 miles), Luke, Marah, and I served at a western-themed benefit dinner hosted by our church. Slicked up in jeans (or, in Marah's and my case, jean skirts), white button-up shirts, boots, and bandanas, we poured drinks, took orders, served food, and chatted with the other volunteers. It was a lot of fun and a great opportunity for us to come out to serve, support a good cause, and shine Christ's light! Of course, as I said already, it was about a week after Luke and I had walked 22 miles, so the blister on my heel was nearly rubbed raw by my boot by the time the evening was over, but that detracted only minimally from my enjoyment.

Luke, Marah, and me.
The next day (Saturday), my family enjoyed a morning out pedal boating, fishing, playing at the park, and watching Fern chase after a goose (that last was pretty funny 😂). We also tangled with a wasps' nest (*shudders*) and Mom and Ruby got stung. Thankfully, although it was the first time either one of them had ever been stung by a wasp, neither displayed any signs of being allergic. We got them an ice pack and "sting relief" pads and then headed home, picking up apple cider slushies from a local farm on the way.


My beautiful mama 💜



That same afternoon, we again made snacks for the fellowship period at our church. Mom made pumpkin bread, Marah sugar cookies, Lucy blueberry muffins, and me pumpkin chocolate chip cookies (or "pillows," as my siblings like to call them). Yum.


These cookies are one of my siblings' favorite seasonal treats. They also won me first place at our county fair a couple years back. If you would like to try them, go HERE for the recipe (note: the only thing I change about the recipe is that I use one cup of chocolate chips instead of two).

A week and a midterm exam (for me) later, we went to the zoo, which was lots of fun! We hadn't been there in six years, and the last time we went it was super hot; this time, we chose a cooler day. How amazing to read about and observe more of God's masterful and unique handiwork! Orangutans, panda bears, cheetahs, tigers, rare and exotic birds, fish, and plants . . .  



Well, that is it for now, but I hope to come back with another post in a couple weeks, so stay tuned!

Did you enjoy reading this post? Do you plan to try making a batch of pumpkin pillows? When was the last time you went to the zoo? Comment below!

Not just surviving, 

Ellen S.

Monday, September 12, 2022

Monday Musings // I Walked 22 Miles

What is this?? A Monday Musings post?? I just checked, and I haven't done one of these posts since September of last year. *gasps*

Last week was busy, busy, busy. I had my first literary analysis to write on top of all my other usual assignments for my two college courses, and I made it my mission to get all my work written and submitted by 6:30 PM on Friday because I had big plans for the weekend.

First, my brother, Luke, and I saw the Kendrick brothers' new film Lifemark at the theater from 7:00 to 9:00 Friday evening. The movie was good, although not my favorite of theirs (Overcomer will probably forever hold that title). 

The movie was not political, but it was inspiring and very pro-life. It had a lot of sentimental moments (more so than any other of the Kendrick brothers' films), but also some humor (thanks to Nate, LOL). If you enjoy movies that are clean, Christian, based on real life events, carry a strong moral message, and will quite possibly make you cry, check out Lifemark. 

The timing of this movie night was perfect, as Luke and I had committed to walking 22 miles to raise funds for our local CareNet pregnancy center the very next day (Saturday). I will be honest - that was a long, hard walk, especially the last 4 miles, when we were running dangerously low on water (I had only a few sips left in my bottle) and our legs and feet were on fire. Brutal is the only word I can think of to describe it. We were not even sure if we could make it . . . at times I thought my body would give out on me. We had no intentions of giving up, however. We watched for benches, and when those seemed few and far in between, we sat on the ground until we had caught at least a smidgen of our second wind. Then we climbed back to our feet and resumed walking, cheering at every mile marker we passed. 4, 3, 2 . . .

I had read during my devotions that morning that God delights in the person "who keeps an oath even when it hurts" (Ps. 15.4, NIV). I had told all my sponsors I was doing 22 miles; when I signed up for the walk, I said I would do 22; and so, I planned to keep my word . . . even though it hurt. 

Partway through our last mile, Mom, Dad, and the kids (oh, and Fern) met up with us. Seeing them gave me a renewed sense of purpose and energy, and I jogged a short distance before ending. As I write this post, my feet are blistered and sore and my legs and lower back are achy and stiff, but boy! it was worth it. We raised a lot of money (more than I had counted on), and it was all for a very good cause. Some pictures from Saturday . . . 


We walked the entire trail (11 miles), then walked back (another 11 miles). Here I am at mile 16.


With 5 miles left to go, Luke ran out of water.

4 miles left to go, and I was emotionally and physically exhausted. Every muscle in my body that could hurt, did.

Finishing strong!

And here we are at the end, almost 7 hours after we started walking, feeling tired and sore . . . but so accomplished!

Did you enjoy reading this post? Have you missed my Monday Musings? Do you want to watch Lifemark? Have you walked 22 miles in one day before? Comment below!

Blessings,
Ellen

Monday, August 22, 2022

Updates // I am a College Freshman!

Today, Monday, August 22nd, officially marks the first day of my college freshman year. *mind blown* It feels like just yesterday I was wondering when I would ever grow up and go to college . . . and now, that day is here. It's crazy, and while I am feeling some nervousness, mainly I am excited about what's ahead and trusting God to see me through. Philippians 4:6-7, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God," has been my go-to verse since the start of 2022, when I was enrolled in two of the most stressful courses of my life as an early college program student with Regent. Surely my first literature class won't be half as stressful, right? xD

I am still in absolute, utter awe that God has brought me to this point. I am officially an English major (whoohoo!), I get to do all my classes from home, and recently I have taken some pretty big steps in my job. Over the summer I trained to help students with their reading and study skills as well as their writing, making me now not just a writing tutor, but an academic coach. The work is awesome, and I love it. <3 <3 <3


Looking ahead, I realize the 4-year journey will be challenging, but also rewarding. And because God has opened the door and made it clear to me that this is what He wants me to do, I plan to give it my all. 

In everything [King Hezekiah] . . . sought his God and worked wholeheartedly, and so he prospered (2 Chronicles 31:21).

Friends, college might not be what God has in mind for you right now, but no matter what it is He has called you to do, just remember: you have a purpose, you're being used in some amazing ways, and you are loved by a God who will do nothing less than love you perfectly. 

As His workmanship made in His image,
We. Were. Made. To. THRIVE.


Not just surviving,
Ellen S.

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

"Midnight's Budding Morrow" // Book Review

The following is a review for a marriage-of-convenience book, a genre of which I have recently discovered I am fond. Older readers (I would recommend 18+) might find this genre to be enjoyable, as well.  

I have read some especially good marriage-of-convenience books over the past year, but for now, I am going to highlight just one of my favorites, which is Midnight's Budding Morrow by Carolyn Miller. I give it 4/5 stars for the brilliant writing style, endearing characters, and of course, engaging plotline. The back-cover summary:

Can real love grow between a wallflower and an unrepentant rogue? Sarah Drayton is eager to spend time with her best friend at her crumbling Northumberland castle estate. Matrimony is the last thing on her mind and the last thing she expects to be faced with on a holiday. Yet she finds herself being inveigled into a marriage of convenience with her friend's rakish brother.

When James Langley returns to his family's estate, he can't be bothered to pay attention to his responsibilities as the heir. War is raging and he wants only distraction, not serious tethers. But his roguish ways have backed him into a corner, and he has little choice but to obey his father's stunning decree: marry before returning to war, or else. Suddenly he finds himself wedded to a clever and capable woman he does not love.

Sarah craves love and a place to belong, neither of which James offered before returning to the battlefront. Now everyone around her thinks she married above her station, and they have no intention of rewarding her for such impertinence. It isn't until her husband returns from war seemingly changed that she begins to hope they may find real happiness. But can she trust that this rake has truly reformed?

When tragedy strikes, this pair must learn to trust God and his plans. Will they be destroyed . . . or will they discover that even in the darkest depths of night, the morning still holds hope?

MY REVIEW:

From the moment I saw this beautiful cover and read the synopsis, I knew it was going on my (immediate) to-read shelf. This book was nothing like what I expected, but I still really enjoyed it. 

First off, I loved, loved, loved how truly Christian this book was! Plus, considering the content, it was still super clean and, with the exception of James' impassioned kiss in the ballroom (before he and Sarah married), it did not make me cringe. There was a twinge of mystery, and of course, deep, riveting moments that held my heart tight and wouldn't let go. If you are fond of romance, strong Christian morals, and characters that can pull you into their world and make you sad, angry, and happy by turns, I would strongly recommend that you consider Midnight's Budding Morrow!

WHERE YOU CAN FIND THIS BOOK:

Amazon || Goodreads || The author's website

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Kregel Publications in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Have you ever read any marriage of convenience books? Did you enjoy them? Does this book sound like something you'd be interested in reading? Comment below!

Blessings,

Ellen

Sunday, July 31, 2022

The End of July // Time to Catch Up

The past couple of months have been busy ones for my family. I turned 18 in May (yay!), we were sick for all of June (a nasty, nasty bug from which I am still recovering), Connor and I did 30 hrs. of virtual classroom time for driver's ed, then we got our permits . . . 


(we've practiced driving for approx. two hours now, and I continue to feel quite terrified behind the wheel of a car. but I have found that listening to music greatly increases my focus while on the road.)

. . . Mom and I enjoyed a short vacation in Lancaster, PA, where we spent hours perusing the antique and book stores, saw DAVID at Sight & Sound Theater, and just enjoyed some down time in good ol' Amish/Mennonite country.




. . . my parents celebrated 22 years of marriage (*happy dance*), and I surprised them with a batch of homemade pineapple upside down cupcakes that ended up turning out really, really good (*more happy dancing*). I made the cupcakes again later on in the month for the fellowship period at our church.
to begin, I layered melted butter, dollops of brown sugar, and sliced pineapple pieces in a cupcake tin . . .

next, I stirred up the batter, poured it into the tin, and stuck the tin in the oven, then munched pretzels and exchanged a thumbs-up with my little kitchen buddy, Ruby. 😍

finally, after pulling the cupcakes out of the oven and letting them sit in the tin for an additional five minutes, I flipped the pan over and plop! plop! plop! out they all fell, looking golden, moist, and delicious. bon appetit! 
(okay, moment of honesty . . . it was more like one missed the parchment and hit the floor, pineapple-and-buttery-sugar side down, and many of the rest that did land on the parchment landed upright, which meant I had to flip them over and press back on the pineapple pieces that had fallen off. still, the end result was the same . . . melt-in-your-mouth yumminess.)


. . . I am also working 11 hours a week now and I LOVE my job SO MUCH. I praise God often for bringing me to this point of my life. College classes start up again on August 22nd, so I will have to begin balancing school and work, but I am ready for the challenge. Trusting God to see me through 💗

Fern is continuing to grow. She weighs 11 pounds now and has learned a few commands (sit, lay, jump up, stay . . . we're still working on that last one). It feels as if now that we have a dog, we are suddenly connecting with almost everyone in the neighborhood where we've lived for fourteen years!



My friend, Emma, and I spent a morning out. It was a lot of fun. We browsed a local flea market, ate lunch, splurged on a purchase of macaroons (for my siblings) and a couple of the random, pretty, little knickknacks that made us smile.


My family and I visited the Museum of the Bible again (we went for the first time four years ago and enjoyed it then, but because the kids are older, it was even more enjoyable this time around).

And . . . I think that's it! Comment below and tell me what your favorite part/photo from this post was, and/or what you've been up to in my absence! I would love to hear.

Not just surviving,
Ellen S.

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

I Graduated from High School!

Last week I celebrated reaching a huge milestone: graduating from high school. A few days before that, I opened my own bank account, and earlier on in the month, I started my first job. I get excited to think of all the ways I have witnessed God's hand in my life over the years, and especially now as I embark on this newest chapter and He reveals to me just how He has been using certain things (like school) to get me exactly where He wants me right here, right now. Lord willing, I will be working my job through the summer, doing driver's ed, enjoying time with my family, and then . . . entering college as a full-time student in the fall to get my degree in English. But none of this would have been possible without God and my family. God has been paving the way for me; He has given me a drive and a focus; I am seeing all my hopes and dreams come to life right before my very eyes. And all I can say is thank You, Jesus. 

Thank you also, Mom and Dad, for teaching me and leading me; for not giving up on me, even on my more difficult days. Thank you for your support and love. Thank you for all you've done that has allowed me to thrive, to learn and grow and seek to have a heart like Jesus. Your impact has gone a long, long way into shaping me into the person who I am today. I love you both so much <3

If you are a high/middle/elementary student struggling to finish . . . if you think the dull, boring subjects don't matter or your efforts aren't worth it . . . think again. Someday you, too, will be able to look back and see the fruits of your endeavors. Someday you, too, can reflect and think on all the ways of how God used even something like school to grow you; how He provided and brought you through it. And if you're a homeschooled student like I was from kindergarten through high school, consider yourself especially blessed that your mom (and/or dad) recognizes your purpose and potential enough that they have decided to personally pour into you. Treat them with the respect they deserve; come to them for help when you need it; and definitely let them know you appreciate them. Your family gives you the support no one else ever could.

Well, farewell for now. I hope to come back soon with a book review, though, so stay tuned.


Not just surviving,

Ellen S.