Friday, March 30, 2012

The Big Girl's Survival Guide~ Freelance by Ariel Gaskill

For the young woman who likes to have a plan of action, this article was written with you in mind. 

Every little girl at one point or another has concocted a list of her dreams and aspirations in her head or in her journal.

I think that it is coded into our DNA to think about the future.

When we were younger we played “Mommy” with our baby dolls and coddled them with care as if they were real; and let our imaginations run wild as we painted a picture of what we wanted our wedding day to look like.

Even though some of us are still little girls at heart, now we are called to be “big girls,” little women if you will, and grace the working world with eloquent speech, class, and our undeniable charm. But first we need to be equipped to fill our own stilettos in a world still dominated by wingtips. How do we accomplish this? Inquiring minds want to know.

Jordan Christy, author of How to Be a Hepburn in a Hilton World suggests that every woman should have a “smart girl list.”  This is a list of attainable goals that we set for ourselves. The key is that we have to make a sincere effort to complete everything on our list.


e need to be equipped to fill our own stilettos in a world still dominated by wingtips.”

Here is a practical, sure proof way to survive in the working world:

Ari’s Big Girl Survival Guide

  1. A.S.A.P- Always Say A Prayer. A prayer that is engraved on my heart is Psalms 143: 8-12 which reads as follows, “Cause me to hear your loving-kindness in the morning; for in Thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee. Deliver me, Oh Lord, from mine enemies: I flee unto Thee to hide me.  Teach me to do my will; for thou art my God: Thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness. Quicken me Oh Lord, for thy name’s sake: for thy righteousness’ sake bring my soul out of trouble. And of thy mercy cut off mine enemies, and destroy all them that afflict my soul: for I am Thy servant.
  2. Confidence- It’s the best foundation
  3. Humility- the perfect accessory to your character
  4. A smile- a small accent that goes a long way (and with every outfit)
  5. A little blush- to add a little something extra
  6. Lip gloss- an essential
  7. tool to complete the package
  8. A comfortable second pair of shoes- stilettos are great for a while, but you always want to have  a back up
  9. A concise and well-written résumé- your charm can get you in the door, but a good resume can land you the job!

No list will be the same; one may be an entire page, others may be a few bullet points.  No matter what our lists look like, all of our aspirations can be reached with good old-fashioned hard work and dedication. These two ingredients can make for a sweet-tasting life.

Copyright © 2012 by Ariel E. Gaskill

Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Word from the Wise (The Wise Being God)

Dear Nadia,

 This is going to sound really weird but, is there a right way to pray? I feel as though I need to be all formal but, it says that Jesus is our Father and Friend. A few of my friends say to talk to Him like He's right in my
 room but I don't know. What do you think?

 ~ Wannabe Prayer Warrior

Dear Wannabe Prayer Warrior,

The best person to get advice about prayer from is... Jesus! He was God Himself, and still He prayed. His prayer was powerful and full of faith, but also humble. You sound like you have a beautiful, humble
heart... especially in prayer. Keep it up! In one of Jesus' teachings about prayer he said: "And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you... for your Father knows what you need before you ask him." (Matthew 6:5-8). I
think it's beautiful that you talk to Him like He's right in your room! He tells us to come to Him in silence and pray and, wherever that may be, He is there! Whether you pray formally (which is great -there are many beautiful formal prayers) or as if you were talking to a friend (which is awesome as well - He IS our best friend after all), "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us." (1 John 5:14).

Girl, you are a prayer warrior! Once, when the disciples were struggling with having faith, Jesus explained to them: "I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." Most people today aren't familiar with what a mustard seed is, so think of a grain of rice or sand. Our tiny bit of faith in God's goodness can produce amazing results, and I'm certain you have a lot more than a tiny grain of faith! God bless you
Ms. Prayer Warrior!

 Dear Nadia,

I want to get more involved in my church but i don't know where I can serve. Do you have any ideas for me?
 ~Helper Outer

Dear Helper Outer,

What a beautiful servant's heart you have! Every church is different and has different needs, but there are a few basic ways that you can help in pretty much any church. Use your God-given gifts to serve. "As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace" (1 Peter 4:10).
  • Encouragement - this is so underrated! You have no idea how much a kind, encouraging word can brighten someone's day and give them the strength they need to continue in ministry. Let God speak words of joy through you to others! 1 Thessalonians 5:11 - "Therefore encourage one another and build one another up."
  • Organize a team to repair/clean - Talk to your pastor or church administrator. Maybe your church needs a major cleaning up or just a little bit of TLC. Whether you volunteer to take on a weekly task like sweeping up after service, or even pull together a large group to do a big spring cleaning project, giving of your time in such a way gives so much honor and glory to God. Cleaning can be tedious, but especially in such acts, God is blessed because you: "with good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men" (Ephesians 6:7).
  • Lead youth group/child care - Helping with a youth group for middle-schoolers, elementary school children, or even babysitting is an incredible help to parents as well as regular adult leaders/teachers. If you work well with kids, serving in this way can be a huge blessing to your church family!
  • Music ministry - Many times in the songs, we hear: "It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High" (Psalm 92:1). If you are a talented musician or singer, joining your church's music ministry is a great way to glorify God. Even if don't consider yourself musically gifted, singing your heart out to God during praise and worship is a wonderful way to just adore Him and thank Him. You can sing your heart out quietly if you need to ;)
  • Set up/clean up for events - this goes along with forming a clean-up crew. I think that any person who was in charge of social events would be thrilled to have extra help with setting and cleaning up before and after youth group, Bible study, or church BBQs! If this interests you, try talking to your church administrator to get a calendar of upcoming events, plan to arrive early or stay late, and then offer your help!
  • Usher - Some churches have ushers to greet people and engage newcomers. If you have a friendly and outgoing personality, you may enjoy ushering. Some churches prefer adults to play this role, but it wouldn't hurt to ask if you can help in this way!
  • Bulletin/fliers - All you tech-savvy or artsy girls, I bet your church would be THRILLED to have you help them make weekly church bulletins or event fliers. If art and design is something you enjoy, offer to serve in this area. Maybe come with a sample of your work or an idea for a poster/flyer. How cool to get to glorify the Lord through your creative art!
In all of this, it is important to remain humble and take on a spirit of service. "Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind... do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others" (Philippians 2:4).

Did you know that Nadia loves to sing and dance though she doesn't think she's good at either?!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Flip Side~ Zachary Tingle

Hello Ladies! Haylie here. Lilies is going to add something new and a tad bit different to their issues. Zachary emailed me one day and asked if I would be willing to have a column where girls can email him questions and he give them the answer. Questions about guys or you wanting a guys point of view. I agreed to give it a test run so ladies, if you have a question you would like to ask Zachary, please email it to and title it "THE FLIP SIDE". Thank you so much and I hope you enjoy "The Flip Side".

Dear Zachary,
I have this guy friend of mine and he's always very quiet. To try to get him to talk, I ask him what he's thinking about and he always replied with "nothing'. Do guys really think about nothing?
Dear Nothing,

The short answer, in general, is both yes and no. Yes, there are a few guys I know who really can go hours without actually processing a single thought. They will enjoy the scenery, video game, movie, or sound of conversation without mentally engaging. These men are the exception rather than the rule. For the majority of us men there are a plethora of reasons we will use the phrase“nothing.”
The simple truth is that no two people use this excuse the exact same way or even for the exact same reasons, but it is an excuse none-the-less. Some guys will use it because they know that you don’t actually want to know what they are thinking (i.e. rough family problem in an upbeat situation, or a tough theological question at a social gathering.) He knows that explaining his thoughts in that situation would ruin the moment for those around him. It’s not that he is necessarily trying to hide his thoughts; rather he knows that the time and place is not appropriate for what is on his mind. Another thing to remember is that a guy doesn’t want to talk about what he is wrestling in his head, because either it is too personal or he doesn’t know what he thinks about it yet (in which case he certainly won’t be comfortable talking about it.)
Whether or not this friend is a brother in Christ here is what I recommend: “be devoted to one another in brotherly [or sisterly] love, give preference to one another in honor” (Romans 12:10 – parenthesis added). When someone evades a question with such an obvious tactic as saying “nothing” it means he doesn’t really want to talk about it. It is not loving or honoring your friend to press the point.
There are a few things to remember when getting to know someone who is very quiet or introverted. First, introverts very much dislike being the center of attention. It is unwise to try and draw him out while in a large group. Acknowledging him and letting him blend into the background is the best way to honor him at a party or a large social function. Let him be who he God created him to be.
I want to address something real quick. This advice is not to encourage you to pursue guys. Biblically it is a man’s role to pursue you. I am assuming that this guy is already a “brother” kind of friend and that you simply want to know how to converse with an introverted (“nothing”) guy.
If you want a chance to talk, choose a time in a less public setting. Begin a conversation by telling him something that you have been pondering. Then, ask what he thinks about the topic. At this point you might have to use your questioneering skills to get the conversation rolling (don’t ask yes/no questions.) Allow him to answer your question and then ask another question about his answer, try not to get too excited and cut him off.
Many times an introverted guy won’t explain what he is thinking about because he knows most people don’t actually want to carry on a meaningful conversation; rather they want to feel good about themselves for including the wallflower. Taking time to share what’s on your mind will show that you are not just feeling sorry for the quiet one, but you are genuinely interested in what is on his mind.

Secondly, think about the times when you have been working through something in your heart or mind and people continue to ask what is going on. In those times most of us want to be left alone until we have figured things out a little bit. “Treat others the same way you want them to treat you”(Luke 6:31). The same might be said of your friend. Don’t ask him to share what he is mentally wrestling with; invite him into what you are thinking about. This has a dual purpose; it shows that you are aware of him and it gives him a chance to leave his own thoughts for awhile.
Last and most important! Philippians 4:6 says, “in everything, by prayer and supplication, make your requests known to God.” If you feel like the Lord has laid this guy on your heart because he needs a friend, PRAY FOR him. Prayer is the most powerful and effective way of touching his life. God’s power and resources are infinitely beyond ours. He can accomplish things better than we can imagine. Wait on Him.
God Bless,

Dear Zachary,
Everyone keeps telling me to dress modestly because guys are visual beings. What does that mean and are guys actually 'visual'?
~What's the Point
Dear What’s the Point,
Before I continue with this question I would strongly counsel you to go and ask your dad or your pastor about the visual (sexual, lustful, etc.) nature of men. I will address the question, but there are men who are far wiser and better equipped to answer this question, and I would recommend visiting with one of them before reading my response. That said, this article is not for “guys” and “girls,” it is for men and women. This stuff is not material to be giggled about or to be taken lightly, it addresses spiritual treason.
God designed men with a much stronger desire for sexual intercourse than women. For men that desire is most easily awakened by the way a woman looks. So in the sense that lust is often aroused through a man’s eyes, yes, men are “visual.” Think about how much you want to be loved, cared for, and wanted and multiply that longing times 5 or 10 and you will be close to the intensity of a man’s sexual desire. According to a survey by the American Psychologist’s Association (APA) the average man has a sex-related thought approximately once every six minutes. The struggle for us as your brothers in Christ to keep our thoughts pure is a minute-by-minutes battle that starts in Junior High and lasts for the rest of our lives.
Most women in our culture either do not know about our struggle or do not care. There are not very many places we feel like we can let our guard down because of this. Even going to church is sometimes difficult because our sisters in Christ have dressed in a way that reveals their bodies, not necessarily skin, but tight-fitting tops and bottoms that do not leave much to the imagination.
This is spiritual betrayal, whether intentional or not. Jesus states in Matthew 5:28, “everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (NASB). This means that by dressing immodestly anywhere a man can see you, you are leading him into adultery. Here is what the Proverbs say about the women who lead men astray:
For the lips of an adulteress drip honey
And smoother than oil is her speech;
But in the end she is bitter as wormwood,
Sharp as a two-edged sword.
Her feet go down to death,
Her steps take hold of Sheol.
She does not ponder the path of life;
Her ways are unstable, she does not know it. Proverbs 5:3-6

Solomon is saying that this kind of woman says all the right things; but hanging out with her leads to death. This kind of woman doesn’t think about “the things above” (Col 3:2); but the most tragic part of this verse is the last line, “Her ways are unstable, and she does not know it” (Prov 5:6). When you do not actively seek and “ponder the way of life” you will lead brothers astray, and you won’t even know it (Prov 5:6).
The way that women dress deeply affects the cohesion and depth of a Christ-centered community. Women who seek the Lord are already radiant with an indescribable beauty that draws the hearts of Christian men. When those same women dress to draw attention to their bodies, it causes their brothers to stumble.
If a women dresses modestly and a man looks at a woman with lust, it is his sin not hers. Although there is technically no heavenly condemnation for wearing a bikini, or a pair of short-shorts, remember there are side-effects. Immodesty is corrosive; it damages everyone it comes in contact with. It encourages either vanity or low self esteem in women and it causes men to lust. The way you dress only becomes sinful the moment a brother struggles, where he otherwise would not have done so, as direct result of your apparel. Ladies, you are called to a much higher lifestyle,
Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints. Romans 12:9-13
As I said, the way a woman dresses is not sinful in and of itself, but if that clothing is immodest and is causing brothers to fall into lust, it becomes the cruelest kind of sin. When a brother walks into church or a Bible study and sees one of his sisters immodestly dressed, it is like walking into what he thought would be a spiritual safe-house only to be shot, point-blank, by someone he thought was an ally. That is the spiritual treason I am talking about.
Be encouraged! Here is what Peter says about old ways behind:
In your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, Godliness, and in your Godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble [or cause others to do so]
2 Peter 1:5-10
Your faith and moral excellence have brought you to seek knowledge. Now you have knowledge. The next step takes courage and strength to live out: self control and perseverance. Self control and perseverance will lead to Godliness, brotherly kindness, and love. That kind of reward is worth hard days when it feels like no one notices or cares about you. Thoughts saying you have no value are lies that are designed to draw you back into the mindset of the flesh and not the mindset of the Kingdom of God. Remember, “If you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Col 3:1-3).
If you didn’t get a chance to visit with your dad or pastor about this I would again recommend that you do so. To have an older man, who cares about your personal walk with Christ, support and hold you accountable is the best way to succeed in this. You mom or your pastor’s wife could be a great resource for practical ideas with your attire. I pray that God richly blesses you as you seek His face and seek to honor your brothers.
God Bless,

Did you know that Zachary is the oldest of four children?!?!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Sprig's Journey: The Tale of Noses by Hogan Stevens

The title of this article just so happens to also be the title of a (quite strange) story my best friend and I wrote some time ago. It's one of the weirdest, most stupid stories ever.
You see, whenever she and I have sleepovers we tend to...get rather, uh, crazy. Which is strange, since we are both normally very introverted and quiet. But it seems that as soon as night falls we become the exact opposite of our usual selves, staying up till the wee hours of morning making up stories and giggling like mad.
The story I have mentioned took nearly an hour to come up with, and it was insanely fun to make up. We both took turns narrating the story aloud, starting off where the other would stop, and eventually we finished with a six page tale that involved dragons, monsters, a man named Sprigs, and noses. Lots of noses. I think we may have been slightly under the influence of sugar by then, because at the time we were having a blast thinking of new circumstances to put our hero in...but now that I reread the story, I have to admit that it is sort of embarrassing.

"Once upon a time, there was a prince who lived in a castle. He was a lonely prince, though, because his princess had been stolen away from him by a dragon because he--the dragon, that is--thought that she had the most beautiful nose in the world. The dragon kept the princess because he wanted to use her nose as a model for his nose-shaped castle."
Ah, yes. As I said, my friend Chandler and I can get very creative. And most of the things we come up with after midnight are just plain silly. But that's what sleepovers are supposed to be, right? Silly! You're supposed to be able to enjoy yourselves without worrying about being thought of as weird or having to think about what's going on at school or in your life. At a slumber party, it is just you and your friends having fun and being silly.
Have you ever made up stories like Chandler and me? Trust me, if you have not, you really should try it sometime. It definitely is fun. Just think of an opening line (i.e. "There was once a girl named Lisa who lived by the sea") and then take off from there. With Chandler and me, we always try to make it as silly and unbelievable as possible.
In Sprig's Tale, the story ends up focusing on the princess's lost son, Sprigs, who was so named because of the sprigs of shininess he had in his long, luxorious hair. He goes on an adventure, aided by a kindly Snot Monster, to save his mother from the dragon.
You may just end up with some strange story much like this one, and you will definitely have a lot of fun creating it. Don't worry, though; you don't necessarily have to share the story with anyone besides your friends. I know I'm terribly embarrassed now that I've got the Snot Monster creation out in the open. ;)
Did you know that Hogan loves to sketch and draw?!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Joyful Noise and Sherlock Holmes

Joyful Noise

In the town of Pacashau, Georgia, things are not going too well. Shops are closing, folks are lining up at soup kitchens, and the town is in financial debt. In crisis, the town is used to turning to the local church, but the church is having problems of their own. The choir is one of the greatest in the region, but in contests they always come in second to a Detroit choir. Normally, this is not a big deal because singing is not about winning, but about praising the Lord. This year, however, the Pacashau choir has to win. If they don't, there will be no more choir. And those aren't the only problems the small Georgia town has to deal with.

This movie was really good. It discussed a lot of issues, though sometimes I wish it would discuss them without the instruction.

This movie was rated PG-13. Throughout the movie there are references to a scene in which it is implied that a boyfriend and girlfriend have sex and the boyfriend dies. There are some sexual references and kissing. There are a few uses of the words b****, a**, d***, and h***, and God's name is misused a few times. I give this movie a 3.9/5.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

I could give you a lengthy description of what happens in this movie but I think I will give you a little rundown and let you watch it for yourself, because when I say this movie was good, I mean it was GOOD. Sherlock Holmes is at it again. This movie is full of conspiracy theories, disguises, and lots of humor. Sherlock believes that terrorist bombings and the almost-war that follows in their wake, are all because of one man. Sherlock takes us on an amazing adventure to prove his theory and bring one mastermind to justice.

Seriously, this was a great movie. You're going to have to watch it to find out what happens but trust me, it is definitely worth it.

This film was rated PG-13. There is some kissing. Watson has his shirt off in one scene. You see a fat guy's torso and backside. There is one use of d***, b***ard, and h***bent. I give this a 4.8/5.

Did you know that Kari loves purple?!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Stewarship Part 3~ Heather Young

Last but definitely not least, Part 3 will discuss how to be good stewards of others. This requires love, service, and sacrifice. In John chapter 3 verse 34, Jesus said to His disciples, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” You see, the disciples knew the Ten Commandments presented in the Old Testament to Moses, but in this passage Jesus gave them another law to add to those. He also made it clear that we are to care for “the least of these”:
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
Matthew 25:31-46
“Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed.”
Psalm 82:3
It is extremely vital to care for those in need. If we don’t we will not only be sent to eternal punishment, but we also would never get to experience the joy obtained when serving others. God has given each of us gifts that He wants us to use to serve Him. By sacrificing our time for others’ needs, we are obeying one of God’s most important commandments: to “love your neighbor as yourself.”

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms.”
1 Peter 4:10

Today is Heather's birthday!!! Wish her a happy birthday!!!

Did you know that Heather rarely cries during sad movies?!
Did you know that Abby loves music?!

Photograph property of Lilies Among Thorns Magazine. Photograph taken by Abby Whear.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Pity Party~ Emily Ciszewski

Katie Stevens wanted nothing more than a steaming hot tub and a journal. Stomping up the stairs with a robe in her arms and a journal in her right hand, she took a deep breath and screamed in anger “Uhhhh!”. Lucky for her, no one was home.

“How can he do this to me?! Why? How come it’s always me who likes the guy when he doesn’t even look at me?! What’s wrong with me God? What on your crazy green earth is wrong with me? Everyone says I’m pretty, I’m into sports, I go to all the parties - I even strike up conversations! Why doesn’t anyone ever like me? Is my approach to forward? But I don’t even flirt…well, not like other girls do! What if I do flirt? Will it make you mad? Well too bad! Who cares…if a person can’t be happy with you why stay with you?”

“I’m sorry God…I didn’t mean it. It’s just not fair.”
She turned the faucet and let it steam up, plugged the drain and dipped her fingers into the hot water. Her pen started running over the paper, the water dripping along the top of the pen down to the page, smudging the ink like a good cry.
I mean, really!

Why am I the one who can never add anything to the relationship conversations - the girls always have tons of stuff to lay down - but all I can say is “God hasn’t shown me the right guy yet…”. And of course all the girls think I’m ‘little miss spiritual’ - who wants to hang out with me anyway?
God - why are you so mean? It’s not fair! Ahh! - you’re so mean God!”

How come Howard doesn’t like me? I’m nice to him! It’s so weird…he seems to like Sal and Michelle - and he even talks to Jackie - why not me? It’s so not fair!”
First it was Ryan, then Jamie, Craig, and now Howard? What is wrong with you God? Why can’t a good Christian girl even have a healthy dose of relationship in her life? I’m not even asking for him to kiss me! All I want is for him to talk to me! I say “hi” every day -I even smile! But of course all he does is look at his books, talk to his guy friends and even in youth-group he totally ignores me! Why can’t he even talk to me? It’s so annoying! I know, I know, I should be so committed to you that I hardly ever think about guys - but I’m 18! Why can’t anyone notice me? Okay, there was Troy and Rich - but they’re freshman! Who wants those little pimply, sex driven boys driving after them?Tears streamed down her face, softly, and the running water like a mini Niagara Falls for background effect - if she could only jump it right now - why not?“I want to die - maybe someone would be sad and cry over my casket - maybe Howard - or maybe someone I’ve never even seen before - a secret admirer, maybe he’d go have himself a big mourning, and talk to my grave everyday…how romantic! If only someone would do that while I was alive! Come crying to me - telling me how much they’ve loved me!”She unplugged the drain, shrugged on her pajamas and slipped into her robe. A bath was always the most dramatic thing to do when she felt all emotional - coffee. Coffee was the next thing on the list of pity party necessities.

Still clutching her journal, she headed back down stairs and into the kitchen, lit her Caramel Sauce candle and started the coffee machine. “You know, I would be really mature with a relationship - I wouldn’t go on private dates, and I’d only hang out when people were around - and that’s saying something! Cause I could just hand it all away and take everything available! And I’m 18! You know, it’s not like I don’t love you God - I spend way more time with you than my friends seem to - I read my Bible everyday, I talk to lonely kids at school - I even go to all the volunteer trips with Youth Group! I’m a good person - I know, I know - being good doesn’t make you a Christian - I’m not saying that.”
The machine dripped slowly and then stopped. She pulled a mug from the cabinet and filled it with black, stirred in Hazelnut creamer and headed to the living room.

Her favorite blanket was on the couch, so she grabbed it and sank into the plush carpet.
“Yeah, I know - I still need a lot of work. I guess that’s why I’m journaling like this any-who. I should be over these pity-parties by now. Hmmm…I wish you were here. It would be so much easier to get over stuff if you were always with me! I know - you are always with me - in spirit and all - but I mean really - really with me! Like where I could see you! So I could hold your hand - no - totally fall into your arms - and I so would! Oh God - please - please come sit with me! I want you so bad! It’s like that Bible verse about you sending your spirit into our hearts - crying “Abba - Father!” I want you! It’s your spirit in my heart screaming for you! I need you so bad God - I need you here with me! Who cares about boys? I need you more than I’ve ever needed anyone before! I need you like crazy - I think I might cry!”Tears came again - her face to the ceiling - they came - pouring down her cheeks, a small whimper escaped and almost led to another but she stopped it.“You say if I draw near to you, you’ll draw near to me - why aren’t you here!

You say if Your children love you and seek you You’ll come to them - why not me! Why don’t you come to me! I need you Jesus - I need you!”
Mom’s Bible was on the table, she reached for it and opened it up, letting it fall where it would.
It opened up to Song of Solomon - chapter 8. She quickly grabbed her journal and wrote;
“Set me as a seal upon thy heart, as a seal on thine arm: for love is strong as death and as cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame.”
(S.S. 8:6)

Still letting the tears fall she lay there, in the blanket - and it almost felt as if He were right there…his left hand were under her head and his right hand embracing her…the most perfect pity party yet.

Lord - that’s how I’m longing for you - and it’s so much more than I was longing for a guy’s love - you are so much more worth my tears! I’m setting you as a seal upon my heart - your name is on my heart - on my soul O God! Please be with me - I would die right now - happily to be with you!

“Make haste my beloved, and be thou like to a roe or young hart upon the mountains or spices.”
“His left hand should be under my head, and his right hand should embrace me.”

I love you Lord, thank you - thank you for taking my pity party and making it a time with you! But I still want you more and more - I want you like the fire wants wood! Lord…I love you. Let us be forever joined - I want you with me forever, it’s such a crazy love…I adore you God - and this is awesome!”

Did you know that Emily thinks hammocks are a piece of heaven?!
She couldn’t wait for the next one.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Overnight Curls~ No Heat! by Grace from Mod Style Lounge

I love the all natural curls/wave look and I've been experimenting with my hair for a few months, trying to find a way to achieve it. I try to avoid heat on my hair everyday. For one, it dries it out terribly, especially in the winter, and curling my hair with a curling iron takes quite a bit of time, longer than I'd like to spend on my hair everyday.
After watching numerous YouTube tutorials, I finally came up with something that worked for me! It's super easy, quick, and no damaging heat!

1. Wash your hair before bed.

2. After you've towel dried your hair and while it's still damp, but not dripping anymore, spray all over with non-frizz spray (if you hair is prone to frizzieness. I use Dream Curls Curl-Perfecting Spray.)

3. Divide hair into two even sections (it doesn't have to be perfect) halfway up your head about where you would do a high ponytail.

4. Twist the two sections together tightly (but not too tight, wet hair is delicate!) like a rope and then twist into a bun and tie with a hair elastic. You should now have a tight bun. If it's pulling or uncomfortable in some places you may want to add another hair elastic or pin it with some bobby pins. Don't worry if it looks messy, no one will you see you, just make sure it won't fall out.

5. Go to bed, sweet dreams!

6. Once you've woken up, take out the bun. Your hair may still be a bit damp, but now you have pretty waves/curls! Finger comb them out, but do not use a brush it will make your hair frizzy!
7. Put on a headband, pin back your bangs, pull it back in a half ponytail, or add a pretty clip! I sometimes spritz a little hair spray to hold the style.

There you have it! Enjoy your pretty no heat curls! :)

Have a great day!

~Grace <3

This was originally posted on Mod Style Lounge. Re-posted with permission.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Chosen by God~ Nataleigh Robinson

The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart 1 Samuel 16:7

I've always loved how God picked David, puny little David, to rule over the kingdom of Israel over his big strong brothers. Imagine with me Samuel and God walking down the line of boys together examining each of Jessie's sons. Samuel looks at each man sees the strong hands and arms and says "this guy would make a good king." But God shakes his head "No, he's no good I've seen his heart and he’s not fit to rule my kingdom." The process repeats itself until Samuel finally comes to the end of the line. This can't be right! he thinks somebody has to be king! Finally after a short conversation with Jessie, David enters the scene. He's a scrawny teenager who can't be much older than 16 or 17 but there's something in his eyes that causes Samuel to stop. Then he hears God's voice whispering in his ear. "He's the one Samuel, the one I've chosen."

Can you imagine that: The world looks at you and says "Oh she's nothing special just, she’ll never amount to anything, she’s just another face walking the halls to class." but when God looks at you He sees something amazing.  He looks at you and He calls you beautiful, He calls you smart, He calls you by name and He's chosen something AMAZING for you to do that's different than anybody else. 

There's never going to be another Nataleigh who has gone through the same things I have. God has chosen something different and special just for me that only I can accomplish. If I can't do it no one can. But that's the beauty of it: I can because God made the task just perfect for me. He gave me just the right amount of inner and outer beauty to help me accomplish the task.

God has something for you too. Yes even you. You may think but I'm not smart, I'm not pretty, I'm not brave, I'm not strong. Stop telling yourself that.  Those are lies straight from the Devil trying to convince you that you’re less than you should be. You have potential! Moses didn’t think that he was charismatic enough but God put him in charge of an entire nation, Paul considered himself a terrible sinner but God used him to build the Christian church, Mary was just a normal girl living in her village but God saw something special in her and chose her to be the mother of his son.

Hadassah probably never considered herself to be to be brave or smart or much of anything for that matter.  She was an orphan who had been raised by her cousin.  I’m sure she lived with a lot of fears that those who had killed her parents would kill her too.  I imagine she spent a lot of time trying to fade into the background.  But God saw something in her.  He saw not only an outer beauty (for no one could deny that she was beautiful) but an inner beauty as well. 

Because of her outer beauty she was noticed by the king of her land and ended up becoming queen and because of her inner beauty she was able to find the courage within herself to stand up for her people who were sentenced to death.  This women, whose name had been changed to Esther opened herself to be used by God and it saved the life of the Jewish people.

God gave you just the right amount of smarts, beauty, courage and strength to accomplish the task he has for YOU! Some people may still be smarter or stronger or braver or prettier than you are but that's because God has something different for them than he does for you and their going to need to be smarter or stronger or braver or more beautiful.

Hadassah probably never considered herself to be to be brave or smart or much of anything for that matter.  She was an orphan who had been raised by her cousin.  I’m sure she lived with a lot of fears that those who had killed her parents would kill her too.  I imagine she spent a lot of time trying to fade into the background.  But God saw something in her.  He saw not only an outer beauty (for no one could deny that she was beautiful) but an inner beauty as well. 

Because of her outer beauty she was noticed by the king of her land and ended up becoming queen and because of her inner beauty she was able to find the courage within herself to stand up for her people who were sentenced to death.  This woman, whose name had been changed to Esther opened herself to be used by God and it saved the life of the Jewish people.

It’s time we stop comparing ourselves to those around us and start comparing ourselves to God's perfect plan. Find out what He wants you to be and strive to become that.  Because trust me there’s nothing better in this life than walking in the path God wants you to walk.  And there is nothing worse than stepping off that path and going our own way.

Did you know that Nataleigh's favorite TV show is Once Upon a Time?!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Unlocked by Karen Kingsbury Book Review~ Michelle Pell

Unlocked ~ Karen Kingsbury
4 out of 5

Ella Renoylds feels like her life is complete. Her dad is a major league baseball player, her boyfriend is the star of the high school basketball team, and she just won the lead role in the school play.

But as she witnesses her boyfriend, Jake, cruelly teasing and bullying an autistic kid, Ella realizes her life needs to change. She breaks up with Jake and befriends the autistic boy, named Holden. But she didn’t know that their newfound friendship would blossom into something beautiful. She also didn’t know that Holden already knows her better than anyone, even her mother. All she knew was that there was something familiar in those deeply gorgeous blue eyes.

Through her friendship with Holden, Ella begins to see that her school, Fulton High, needs a drastic transformation. But she doesn’t know where to start.

That is until a horrible tragedy strikes their school and Ella is determined to do something about it. She decides to start with Holden, perfecting their relationship and helping him trust her. Ella resolves to do everything she can to get Holden in to the Spring musical, because she knows he loves music. Ella thinks that if anything will get through to Holden it’s music.
Together, Ella and Holden will discover that true love and acceptance can break through any barriers. Even the seemingly unbreakable barriers of autism.

Did you know that Michelle loves French Vanilla Lattes?!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Sexting~ Haley Oscar

Sexting is something I’m sure most of you have seen going around either on the news, through your friends, or you yourself have done. So what’s the big deal with sexting? No one’s getting hurt, you’re not doing anything physical, you’re still “Pure”, and it’s just between you and the guy, right?
Do you know that what you send out is never just between you and someone else? I’m sure you’ve heard this said a thousand times, but you need to be wise about what you put out there. With the world we live in today hardly anything is kept private, we have a need to post on facebook , twitter, or text what is going on in our lives each day and it’s there for the entire world to see.
So what’s the big deal with sexting and/or sending risqué photos? Most people sext instead of having a physical relationship while dating. You are fooling yourselves if you think that holding off on everything and just "talking" about sex means you're keeping your relationship sexually pure. It's very similar to the couple who thinks doing everything but sex will keep them pure. But that's a very loose, unbiblical, and unhealthy definition of purity. The reality is that you've just discovered a different way of exploring the sexual side of dating. It might not feel sexual since you aren't even in the same room when you're sexting, but sex isn't just a physical activity. All that talk will make it more and more difficult to stick to the promise you've made to not have sex. When you tell each other what you'd like to be doing, it's only a matter of time before you start thinking about actually doing it.

You have to remember that your brain is a very powerful sexual organ, it has the power to turn you on with out any physical action. The bible is very clear on controlling your sexual thoughts,

Matthew 5:28-29 says "But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman (or man) lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell."

“But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people” –Ephesians 5:3

For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God... For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.- 1 Thessalonians 4:2-8
So if you’re caught up in this sexting game sit down with you boyfriend and have an honest talk with him, pray about it, and if needed find an adult to help you guys along.

But like I always say, PRAY PRAY PRAY! Be wise about what you send out there, cause you never know who will see it.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

So Shy~ A Poem by Hogan Stevens

Quiet. Alone.
Always feeling out of place.
Afraid. Nervous.
Trying to hide her face.
She is so shy, self conscious,
not sure how to blend in.
Never talking, off alone
wondering how to make friends.
Don't judge her or
mistake her for rude
She's just timid,
not sure what to do.
There is laughter
underneath all her quiet.
She has a voice,
wants so badly to use it.
Will you be the one?
The one to set her free?
The one to befriend her,
choose to truly see?
Will you be the one?

Did you know that Hogan was saved when she was eight years old?!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Common Modesty Problems~ Renne Arnold

Every Christian girl concerned with keeping her wardrobe pure knows that even in the midst of winter, there are immodest clothes lining the store shelves. Just because an item of clothing isn't modest right off the rack doesn't mean you have to pass it up. Here are some great tips that can help you turn a revealing article of clothing into your favorite modesty staple.
First, jeans with rips and holes above the thigh are pretty low on the modesty list but that doesn't mean you have to shun all ripped jeans. If you really want a pair of these casual, trendy jeans, buy them a size bigger then usual and wear leggings under them to coordinate with your outfit. This adds a pop of color and covers up your skin.
Next, what do you do when your brand new shirt you just bought at the mall is a little too low but you really don't want to wear a bulky cami underneath? My answer, as strange as it may sound is sports bra's. Sports bra's are generally higher cut and if you find the right kind, they don't look like bra's. You can wear these under a low shirt and get rid of all the bulk of a cami.
Last of all, what about shirts that are too tight and outline your whole figure? Sometimes you can stretch out the shirt before you dry it without ruining it but other times you just need to improvise. Wear the shirt under a jacket or cardigan and only wear it alone around the house. This allows you to maintain modesty and still wear all your favorite shirts.
I hope this has given you some creative new idea's on how to keep you wardrobe in check in the midst of the snow!
Did you know that Renee dances and sings to the radio when she's home alone?!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Can't Be Sad~ A Poem by Cassie Stout

 Life can be pretty tough,
Just pray to God when things get rough.
 You might be mad when things go wrong,
Just start to hum a Christian song.
 People might mock and scoff,
Just sing a hymn when they tell you off.
 You might be sad all day tomorrow,
Just fall on your knees when you're in sorrow.
 You might be down and depressed,
Just talk to God when you feel stressed.
 Over all, when things are bad,
When you're with God you can't be sad.

Did you know that Cassie is addicted to Mountain Dew?!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close and Real Steel

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

9/11 was a horrible time for America. Everyone felt the shock and terror that followed such a disaster. Not everyone lost a parent or loved one in the attack. Some only heard about it and were never that involved. But Oskar Schell was not one of them. He lost his best friend in that attack; the one person he could count on the most. He lost his father.

Before 9/11, Oskar's father Thomas would give him clues and mysteries and then send him into New York and find the answers. Oskar was a smart kid, a pacifist, a martial artist, and a naturalist. He was also scared. He would rather stay in a little bubble rather than get involved in the world. So Thomas gave him hints and mysteries in to help him get involved. Doctors told Thomas that Oskar might have a certain syndrome that made him incapable of being around and involved with people. Thomas refused to believe this and worked even harder to help his son. On the day that he died in the attack, the only things Thomas left for Oskar were his jacket, six voicemails that Oskar listened to over and over again, and an old camera. A year later Oskar finally decides to venture into his father's closet. While basking in the memory of his father, Oskar tries to reach the top shelf in order to retrieve the camera. Unexpectedly, Oskar discovers a new mystery among the glass. Watch as the story unfolds and the mysteries are solved in "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close."

This movie was rated PG-13. There is no sex/nudity in this film. There are a couple uses of God's name in vain. There is one s**t, one a**, and once Oskar and his doorman exchange in wordplay that almost turns into F-words. Overall this movie was very interesting and I would definitely recommend it. I give it a 3.5/5.

Real Steel

Real Steel is set in the future, 2020 to be exact, in a time when boxing has been banned. In place of the flesh and blood of normal boxing are robots. This gives a new hype and excitement to boxing, but also leaves some people hanging - people like Charlie Kenton. All Charlie has left is an old Mech Robot to hold onto - the only remembrance of his old life. When his Mech is destroyed, however, even that little piece is taken away. Charlie then learns that his ex-girlfriend passed away, leaving their son Max in Charlie's care. Charlie and Max must team up to… What happens?

This movie was really good to me and I believe you will like it.

This film was rated PG-13. There is one brief kiss. Many of the men have their shirts off during some scenes and the woman wear low-cut tops and tight skirts. The cussing is a little too much for my tastes, but with a TV Guardian, it's really good. There are two uses of s**t, five d***, h***, and a**, and we hear OMG a couple times. I give this movie a 3/5.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Facial Fun by Kaley from Mod Style Lounge

Looking for something fun to do at a sleepover? Want something that will help you relax? Then have a facial! Facial masks are not only fun and relaxing, they're also really good for your skin! Facial masks are an important part of your skin care routine. You should give yourself a facial at least once or twice a month. Facial masks replenish and refresh your skin and they can also help clear acne.

Whether you're having a sleepover or you just want to treat your face solo, here are some easy facial mask recipes that are simple to make, and most of the ingredients you’ll find at home:

Banana, Honey and Yogurt Facial Mask
Use this on all skin types. Perfect for sensitive skin.

1/2 of a banana
2 tablespoons of yogurt
1 tablespoon of honey

Mash the banana with a fork.
Mix the mashed banana, yogurt and honey together.
Apply to clean face and leave on for 15-20 minutes.
Rinse off and pat dry.
Apply moisturizer.

Lemon Tomato Mask
For oily skin. The acid in the tomato and lemon work well on acne and blackheads.

1 tomato; inside scooped out
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
1 teaspoon of oatmeal (preferably instant)

Instructions:Puree all ingredients in a blender.
Apply to clean face and leave on for 10-15 minutes.
Rinse off and pat dry.
Apply moisturizer.

Lemon Mask
For oily skin.

1 teaspoon of lemon juice
2 egg whites
3 teaspoons of honey
1 cup of strawberries

Instructions:Puree all ingredients in a blender.
Apply to clean face and leave on for 10-15 minutes.
Rinse off and pat dry.
Apply moisturizer.

Egg and Honey Mask
For dry skin.

Ingredients:1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon of honey
1 teaspoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon of vitamin E oil or baby oil (optional)

Instructions:Mix all the ingredients together.
Apply to clean face and leave on 10-15 minutes.
Rinse off and pat dry.
Apply moisturizer.

Oatmeal Mask
For Dry Skin.

1 ripe banana
1 cup of oatmeal
milk (as required)

Mash banana.
Mix the mashed banana and the oatmeal together.
Add enough milk to create a nice paste.
Apply to clean face and leave on for 10-15 minutes.
Rinse off and pat dry.
Apply moisturizer.

Have fun!

Originally posted on Mod Style Lounge. Re-posted with permission.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Get Snappy!


Over the past few months, Haley and I have been talking about what sort of contests you lovely followers might enjoy doing, so we decided to host our very first photography contest! We are calling it 'Get Snappy!'

This contest will consist of 7 different photography challenges, one for each day of the week. The challenges and days are...

Sunday, April 15th~ Elements of nature (water, wind, earth and/or fire)
Monday, April 16th~ Times of Day (sunrise, morning, evening, afternoon, twilight, sunset, midnight)
Tuesday, April 17th~ Vintage (items, clothing, settings etc…)
Wednesday, April 18th~ Negative (in negative setting)
Thursday, April 19th~ Camera (A camera must be in this picture in anyway)
Friday, April 20th~ Christian (any item that can represent Christianity; cross, Bible, church, person praying etc…)
Saturday, April 21st~ Words (words anywhere; written in chalk on the driveway, written on your hand, written in a journal, pages of a book etc…)

There will be 2 prizes given away to the top 2 contestants. To enter this contest, you simply have to be a follower of Lilies (Facebook, Blogger, or e-mail) and participate in at least 5 of the 7 challenges. If you do not think you can do at least 5, we want to encourage you to participate anyway!!

We will have another post early in April to give more details about the contest!

We all hope that you will enter in this contest!! We are so very excited to see what will happen!!

Much Love,


Garden of Joy~ Short Story by Nataleigh Robinson

There is a moment in every young person’s life when they decide this is who I’m going to be.  Some get to make the decision themselves, choosing who they want to be and what they want to do with their lives without people’s expectations to hold them down.  I always envied them, for I was never given that choice.

My father always told me what I was going to be and I knew better than to ask questions.  But when he left to be with another woman his expectations left with him and new ones came to take their place.  My mother’s expectations were for me to help in keeping the house and taking care of my younger sister while my two older sisters did their best to make money.  But even with my help we still had to move to the poorer part of town and to a cheaper school.

Even my new friends had expectations for me.  They expected me to drink and smoke and fool around.  But at least these expectations were better than my mothers and so I fulfilled them. I don’t remember the exact moment I became a criminal but before long I was a regular vandal.  But I do remember clearly the night of my first arrest, and even more than that I remember my sentence.  Forty hours of community service for Mrs. Hunter, the old women whose house my friends and I had tagged and egged two weeks before. 

We had spent so much time making fun of the poor old women.  We knew that she was too weak to clean up the egg shells herself; in fact, she was barely even strong enough to take care of her garden on her own.  We laughed whenever we saw her son scrubbing the walls of her house from the old yoke.  How were we supposed to know her son was a cop?

I remember those days so clearly, though I dreaded the very thought of working for Mrs. Hunter.  I thought I would be like working for the devil in hell itself.  Maury said she probably smelled because she was too weak to take a bath, and Theo thought she was probably a bitter old women who would work me to death.  Needless to say, I quickly decided that I would much rather be scraping gum off of the lunchroom table then working for this woman. 

But I quickly realized just how wrong they both were.  In fact Mrs. Hunter was much more fit than we realized.  She spent hours working in the garden.  She had a muscle condition that kept her from being able to lift her hands above her head, or to stand for long periods of time, which was why she needed help cleaning the egg off of her porch ceiling.  Still she helped with as much as she could.  But there was one day that will always be engraved in my memory for all eternity, a day that changed my life forever.

It was toward the end of my sentence, we were working together in the garden because most of her other odd jobs had been finished.  Suddenly, she turned to me and said, “Do you know why I enjoy gardening, dear?”

I was surprised; I was used to her jabbering on and on about the old days, but this was the first time that she had ever asked me a direct question.  I shook my head unsure how else to answer.  She stopped her work and smiled at me, “It’s because flowers are some of the weakest creatures on the face of this planet.  A chill wind can blow them over, a sudden frost can kill them…an ignorant child can crush them with one misplaced foot.”

I looked away and turned my concentration back on pulling weeds knowing that she was referring to me and my friend’s destruction of her garden 3 weeks before.  But Mrs. Hunter continued, “Flowers are much like people in that way, a misplaced word or a thoughtless deed can crush the life right out of them.”  She motioned toward the handful of weeds in my hands, “weeds sneak in and attempt to strangle them, but with the right nurturing hand, these flowers can grow stronger than ever.”

She paused and watched me for a moment as I struggled with a stubborn weed then said, “Dear, I know you’ve been hurt, I don’t how or by who, but if you keep letting the weeds choke out your growth, if you let the frost kill your joyful spirit and you allow the ignorant people in your life to stomp out your love for life, then you will be no better than the weeds.”

I swallowed past the lump in my throat then forced myself to speak as bitterly as possible not wishing for the tremor in my voice to peek through, “If we’re like the flowers then what does it matter, when winter comes I’ll be dead anyway.”

Mrs. Hunter shook her head, “That’s someone else’s words you’re speaking, someone in your life has told you you’re worthless and you’ve believed them.”  She stood up then and brushed the dirt off her hands, “Come with me I have to show you something.”

She led me around to the back yard where there was a large tree that I had seen many times before.  The tree stood in the center of the yard with pink and purple flowers on it. Tiny white flowers climbed up it trunk and wrapped around it’s branches and curled them all the way to the top making it look like they were sprouting flowers out of the side.  Along its base hundreds of tiny forget-me-nots bloomed.  

Mrs. Hunter picked one of the forget-me-nots from the base of the tree.  She gave it to me and I frowned not understanding what was so special about this simple flower.  “Forget-me-nots are perennials. Do you know what that means?” I heard the term before but had never bothered to learn what it meant, so didn’t answer, she continued.

“Like all flowers, perennial flowers die in the winter, they feel all the harsh winds that the others feel and are crushed by the same driving snows, but unlike the weaker annual flowers, perennials return each year when spring comes.”  She picked one of the white flowers from its place on the tree and handed it to me as well.  The petals were twisted into the shape of a star and I was awed at the simple beauty of these flowers

“These are moonflowers.”  Carol explained, “Moonflowers are also perennials and they are also climbing plants; they need another stronger plant, or a wall to cling to in order to be healthy.  That’s why I planted them so close to my fuschia tree.”

With that she looked up and pulled down one of the smaller of the large flowers from the tree. “I planted this tree nearly twenty years ago now.  It was just a tiny sapling at the time I had to tie it down to keep the wind from pushing it over.  It’s become so big and strong since that time. Sure it still has to deal with the winters, and it even looses its flowers, but they always return more beautiful than the year before.”  She looked at me with a look that said I should understand her point but I was still confused. 

“Darling, people are going to get you down in life and it’s true sometimes it’s hard to forget what people have done to you.  You may feel like life as you know it is over, but like a perennial you have to get back up and try again.  You’re going to have to rely on people sometimes to help get you through, but you need to rely on people who can support your weight.  Think of what would happen if one of these moonflowers tried to attach itself to a forget-me-not.  Both would collapse.  But by clinging to a strong tree it’s able so survive.”

I thought about she was saying and then said, “You’re saying I’m like a moonflower and my friends are like forget-me-nots.”

She nodded. 

“So what does that make you? The Tree?” I said knowing I couldn’t hide the bitterness of my tone.

Carol smiled, “Maybe, maybe not.  I can be if you want me to be.  I’m old; I’ve seen and experienced a lot of things.  I can’t say that what you’re going through is exactly new to me.”

I shrugged and looked away, “Well you’ve only seen the surface stuff.”

“That’s true, but I know how to use my eyes to see what you allow on the surface, and I analyze these things through my hearts eye which can see far more.”  I turned back to face her, and I’m sure my confusion was obvious.  “For example,” she continued, “I can tell just by looking at you that you are from Middle Eastern descent and by your slight accent I would assume first generation, your parents probably speak your native tongue at home.”

I nodded slightly speechless at first and then finding my voice, “They did, until my father left a couple of years ago, my mother hasn’t spoken much since then.  We moved here from India when I was born.”

A knowing look came into her eyes then and she moved toward the house, “I think the rest of this conversation should be finished over a plate of cookies and tall glasses of milk.”  We moved into the house and soon were settled in the living room, each of us a glass of milk and a plate of cookies between us.  As soon as we were comfortable Mrs. Hunter said, “If you were born in India I imagine it’s safe to say that whatever name you have told your friends is not your real name.”

I gulped afraid of where this conversation was now headed she continued, “Am I right in believing that you were born with the name of Nakusha?”

I nodded tears springing into my eyes and I blinked them away and tried placing the firm look back on my face not wanting her to see that she had struck a cord, “It’s a common name for girls in India, why shouldn’t my parents call me Nakusha?”

“Because it tells of what your parents think of you and how they treat you.  They treat you as if you were Nakusha…unwanted.  Let me tell you something, dear, I do not see you as a Nakusha I see you as” She paused for a moment thinking of a more fitting name before saying, “a Sada…a pearl.  And I know God thinks of you like that too.”

I scoffed, “What does it matter, a name does not make you who you are, I did that myself.  I chose this life.  I’m a criminal.”

Mrs. Hunter placed a hand gently on my shoulder and looked deep into my eyes, “No, it doesn’t,  but it says a lot about the person who named you, and if that person named you unwanted then I can only imagine what your home life must be like.  You don’t have to become what they expect you to be.  You can become what you want to be.  Tell me, what is the name that your friends call you?”

I smirked, “They call me Creo, it’s Latin for artist or creator.  My friend Theo is a big word nerd.”

“Is this a name that you like?”

I shrug, “It fits me well enough.  I spend enough time with my art.  But…”  I paused debating whether or not I should continue.  “I’ve always liked the name Sarah.”

“Ahh, a good name, it means Princess.  And it was the name that God gave to the wife of Abraham.  She was the mother of his chosen people.  She was a woman who would never be called Unwanted by her God.  And I would be honored if you would allow me to call you Sarah…Princess.”

Tears were flowing freely down my face by this time as I said, “I would like that a lot Mrs. Hunter.”

Mrs. Hunter smiled and said, “Well I’ll only call you Sarah if you call me by chosen name.”

“And what’s that?”

“Carol, a Song of Joy and for 30 years now I have been planting seeds of that joy in the garden of girls hearts…Nakusha’s just like you.  Because you see long ago when I was growing up in India a women did it for me.”

Did you know that in India women who only give birth to daughters are considered a disgrace to their families and will spend time in mourning after giving birth to a daughter?  Hundreds of girls have been named Unwanted and are treated more like property than family.  The only way that many of these girls can restore honor to themselves is by marrying a man who can a pay a good dowry.  Today in India, authorities are working to stop the practice by holding renaming ceremonies to help these girls regain the self-esteem that was stolen from them before they were even a minute old.  One day Nataleigh’s own sister hopes to work with young girls who have been raised in this setting.

Did you know that Nataleigh owns over a dozen hats?!