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Simplifying and Glorifying

FaithJessica Scheks2 Comments

"Anything you are unwilling to let go of [in life] becomes an idol."

This quote by Lisa Vischer {Wife of Phil Vischer who is one of the creators of Veggie Tales} really resonated with me when I heard her interviewed on Moody Radio last week. Like many Christians I've made the goal of reading my Bible through for the year 2015. But I'm reading the Bible prayerfully this year. I'm not going in any order -- just making sure I read at least four chapters a day. And so far I've seen some themes in my reading that I think God is using to show me ways I need to change in order to glorify Him more and more. You can tell God is trying to get a hold of you when you've just had too many experiences to consider it a coincidence. And through all of this, I think God has given me a couple of "themes" for 2015:

C  O  N  T  E  N  T  M  E  N  T

It's something I never gave too much thought. I knew that I shouldn't be blowing my whole paycheck at Target and that I should be thankful for what I had as opposed to bitter for what I didn't have yet still wanted. But this year the Lord keeps placing experiences across my path and daily scriptures and blog posts to read about being content//not being materialistic//being a minimalist//not spending unnecessary money//etc. I am really coming to realize how unimportant it is to buy things.

I have always been a shopper, which is surprising because my mom is definitely not and never has been-- so where did I get it from? But lately {and thankfully} I get that naggy feeling of guilt when I buy things that are not truly needed. I'm pretty sure that naggy feeling of guilt is conviction. As I've done my daily Bible reading so far this year, I've come across so many verses about being content and not wanting more. Perhaps it's because contentment is a big topic of the Bible anyways so it's mentioned quite frequently? But nonetheless, it's really sticking out to me this year and impacting me and the way I want to live.

Along with contentment I need to mention another word. It's like a sister word to contentment. And that word is:

S  I  M  P  L  I  C  I  T  Y

I have had a growing desire this year to really simplify my life. To get rid of clutter, purge out my closet, to keep things tidy, and to eliminate distractions. Maybe it's because I'm getting older, but I just really want to be intentional in every aspect of my life. And this hasn't been the easiest journey so far. It's hard for a lifelong hoarder of things to get rid of all of her things. But here is what I've done so far:

  • Michael and I did the Daniel Fast at the beginning of January to pray for family in desperate need of prayer and to start off on a clean slate for the year.
  • "Cleaned" out my closet - I'll have to go through it again because I came up with a lot of excuses for items that I probably should have donated.
  • My Gold Card anniversary at Starbucks sort of snuck up on me this year - since we were fasting for most of January I was unable to get Starbucks. I needed 20 stars in less than 15 days.. I tried at first. But I realized it wasn't going to happen and I'm okay. I feel like this is God telling me that this "award" is pointless in eternity and unnecessary on this earth.
  • I've kept our apartment much cleaner than I have in the past.
  • I deleted my Facebook app from my phone because I was spending way too much time on it. WAY too much time. And I've loved it - I feel like my mind feels less cluttered because there's so much less clutter from other people's lives filling up my brain.
  • I rearranged the apps on my phone -- My home page is now blank. The second page only has necessary apps {i.e. alarm, calendar, weather, settings, etc} along with my Bible and music apps {which I only use for spiritual music}. The next page has utility apps and other things I occasionally use, and the last page is where you will find my social media apps (Gmail, Instagram, Pinterest, FB Messenger, Buzzfeed, and Timehop) and my games. I purposely made them less accessible. I've found that when my Instagram app isn't glaring at me, vying for my attention as soon as I unlock my phone, I tend to use it less.
  • I have tried to wake up early to spend time with God. I am terrible at this. I love my sleep and I feel so cozy when I wake up that this has by far been the biggest struggle I've had while trying to simplify my life.
  • I've tried to limit my intake of media in general, including TV. Especially TV that doesn't glorify the Lord. I feel like this helps to simplify my mind. My mind is not a trash can, therefore I'm not filling it with trash.

And there have been many scriptures that have convicted me as well, here are just some of them:

  • Job 1:21 "And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD."
  • Psalm 49:17 "For when he dieth he shall carry nothing away: his glory shall not descend after him."
  • Psalm 51:10 "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me."
  • Psalm 62:10 "...if riches increase, set not your heart upon them."
  • Psalm 101:3 "I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me."
  • Ecclesiastes 3:6 "A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;"
  • Ecclesiastes 5:10 "He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity."
  • Ecclesiastes 5:15 "As he came forth of his mother's womb, naked shall he return to go as he came, and shall take nothing of his labour, which he may carry away in his hand."
  • Daniel 1:8, 15 "But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself...And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king's meat."
  • Daniel 6:27 "He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions."
  • Ephesians 5:16 "Redeeming the time, because the days are evil."
  • Colossians 3:2 "Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth."
  • Colossians 3:23 "And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;"
  • 1 Timothy 2: 9-10 "In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But {which becometh women professing godliness} with good works."
  • 1 Timothy 6:6-8 "But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content."
  • 2 Timothy 2:16 "But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness."
  • 2 Peter 2:7-9 "And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;) The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of the temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:"

That's a lot of scriptures for one blog post - but the overarching theme from them all is that God always provides! You don't need to worry about anything if you have food and clothes. And to keep your mind pure, which means staying away from impure things.

Going back to the quote from the beginning of my post, it really made me think about what I hold near and dear in my life and if I'd be able to get rid of them if I felt led by the Lord. Some of those things include Starbucks, Target and Marshall's shopping trips, Panera Bread, Parenthood, my iPhone, cute clothes, makeup, and the list could go on and on. I don't think these things are bad, and definitely do not consider them to be a sin -- but I had never thought about the things I loved before in this way. They would all become a sin if I chose them over the Lord because I would be unwilling to give them up even though He asked me to. And it makes it even more clear to me that nothing on this earth matters except for the people. I have to be willing to give up any of these things for the Lord, and even if I had to, it would seem like a couple seconds of my life once I got to eternity. It would no longer seem like a burden or even something worth thinking about once I'm standing in front of my Lord on the other side <3

It's only the beginning of February, I have eleven months to go. But I am really trying to "redeem the time" and to be intentional about every part of my day so that I can make the most of it.

The Modesty Struggle

FaithJessica ScheksComment

MODESTY

I saw this quote on Pinterest today and it really resonated with me. It made me think back to the times where I struggled with dressing modestly and how frustrated I would become when all I wanted to do was slip on a pair of my old jeans on a freezing Ohio winter day.

I only gave into the "desires of my flesh" twice. We were at my grandma's for Christmas in 2010, so only several months since I had decided to always wear skirts or dresses, and there was a lot of family cramped into a tiny house. I was getting a little overheated in my knee-length jean skirt and for some reason I had it in my head that I would really cool off if I changed into the pair of jeans I had brought with me. So I changed. I can't remember how changing affected my temperature, but I remember feeling like a fake. And I just felt depleted; sort of like how you feel when you vow to yourself that you're not going to commit a certain sin in your life, but then you find yourself giving in. And afterwards you have none of the pleasure you thought that decision would bring you.

That feeling I had after changing into jeans at my grandma's was enough to give me motivation to resolve to never do that again. But sometime within the next year or so, I found myself in another situation. I lived in co-ed dorms (but we each had a private bathroom, so it wasn't as sketchy as it sounds) and I had the mindset that the dormitory building was like my house, so wearing  sweatpants around was acceptable. But this time I had to run to the little market directly behind my dorm to get a snack. It was late - I'd already showered and changed into comfy clothes and I fought with myself over whether or not I should go down in sweatpants.

Even though I felt like I shouldn't, I told myself that I'd be really fast, so it didn't matter. So down I went- when I reached the ground floor I went to turn the corner and was stopped with the vision of who I thought was my friend Christa walking by in a floor length jean skirt. She had a green coat on (just like Christa) and brown hair that was cut (just like Christa and rules out many Pentecostal women who do not cut their hair). It was past 9:00 and I was so startled to see her that at first I jumped back behind a wall because I felt ashamed. But then I thought to myself, "It's Christa! She won't care..." So I started walking again and called out her name. She didn't turn around so then I grew very curious of who this skirt wearing person was. I really had to quicken my pace to catch up with her but she walked out the doors before I could. When I walked out I didn't see her anywhere (and you can only turn left or right). Then I felt really convicted.

I am definitely not saying that I saw an angel, or had a vision from the Lord. Maybe I did... I guess I won't know that for awhile. But whoever it was, angelic or not, was enough to convict me for good. Now I know that the desire to dress immodestly at times is not worth how I will feel afterwards. Generally my desire stems from laziness; I just want to wear sweatpants or jeans. But occasionally when I see a girl in real life or on Pinterest with leggings on, the cutest tunic-y top I've ever seen, super cute booties, an infinity scarf, and an adorable vest... I become a little jealous because I know that the outfit could not be pulled off with a knee-length (or longer) skirt.

So this quote captures my feelings to a T! And I'm here to tell you that dressing modestly is sometimes a struggle for me, just like any sin or temptation I have to deal with is. It was not a "one and done" type of decision for me when I decided to dress more modestly. For awhile it was a pretty constant struggle. When I first decided that I was going to wear skirts I felt sick - it was a scary choice to make. And I made the choice publicly so it felt like there was no turning back...was it something I'd regret in a couple years? Could I really see myself for the rest of my life wearing skirts?

To clarify, I am definitely NOT saying that if you are a woman and wear pants that you are sinning. Dressing modestly requires very personal decisions and interpretations that is only between you and God. It is a decision that I think should only be made based on inspiration you find from the Lord. It shouldn't be something that you do to please others, and it should be a personal belief that you hold in your heart. But it isn't something you should ignore altogether, either. I think it is something you should take to the Lord and ask Him what He wants from you. Ask the Lord to guide you and to show you what pleases Him. Even if you have a certain pair of pants or a shirt that you sometimes question yourself when you wear it, ask God.

>> A word of advice, though, I have found that if you are already questioning it, you've kind of answered the question for yourself. And sometimes you have to give something up and say to yourself, "This struggle/question I have just isn't worth it when it comes to eternity." And leave it at that.

So with my "disclaimer" that you just read, I would now like to say something that some may find to be a bit controversial. But I'm going to say it anyways. And really, this is only for those who have already made a decision in their life to dress more modestly than they have in the past.

Choosing to dress modestly is just like choosing to wait to be intimate in marriage, or choosing not to gossip. It's not a one time decision, but one that you have to make over and over again. Especially towards the beginning of your modest journey. If you feel the Lord telling you in your life to dress modestly that's a pretty serious thing. If you vowed to the Lord that you would dress modestly for Him, that's a pretty serious thing. I have felt that calling on my life, I'm not sure I'd go as far as to say it's a "commandment" in my walk with God, but I'm also not going to say that it isn't. I feel very convicted to dress modestly - and to not do what the Lord is telling me to do sounds like sin to me.

>>If you have genuinely sought the Lord about dressing modestly and you have found that you still feel like it's okay for you to wear pants then I think you've done your job (but revisit the subject from time to time - don't dismiss it for life).

It is only sin if you feel or even know that you should be dressing more modestly and don't.

Sometimes modesty has to start on the outside, which means that your thoughts aren't always modest - You hunger for a comfortable pair of jeans or for some comfy yoga pants on a lazy day. But I can tell you from experience, that eventually your thoughts begin to change. You begin to realize how good it feels to dress modestly and please the Lord. And as your thoughts change, that means your heart is changing and your thoughts and mind are being clothed in modesty as well.

If modesty started purely on the inside for you, then you should be praising the Lord. If you just had a desire to give up dressing worldly and were happy to do it, then you should be praising the Lord! Because for me (and for my friends) it was not that easy. It was kind of like we had one foot standing in the world, and one foot standing in the Kingdom; we wanted to please God and we had an inkling that dressing modestly was what we should do... but it was hard to give up. And you kind of have to go cold turkey - you can't wear "worldly patches" to help you wean off immodest articles of clothing, you just have to give it up. It's a sacrifice. You are giving your temple to the Lord to use for His glory, and you should be giving it cheerfully, not begrudgingly!

This October it will be FIVE years of dressing modestly for me! As you have read, it wasn't always easy or fun. Sometimes it was a decision - just like deciding you aren't going to share that really juicy piece of gossip you overheard with your best friend. It can be a hard decision at times, but I have found again and again that there is not one article of clothing on this earth that could possibly come close to compensating for how modesty feels.