Friday, April 22, 2011

This Is It: 19...The "Ideal" Age

The Three Taylors: 8th birthday, 14th birthday, and 19th birthday.

Dear Taylor, age 7:

Well, this is it.

19-years old. You so looked forward to this moment in time with all the eager aspirations of a young girl with big dreams. Was this how you imagined it would be? Am I who you wanted to be?

Already I know I'm not. Oh, yes, I know you'd like how I turned out appearance-wise, with my layered hair and (kind-of) stylish clothes. You would follow me around, trying to emulate my every move. But, one of the reasons you so desired this age is the fact I'd be far away from home, living on a college campus, filling my mind with books, boys, and independence. And the truth is, Not only am I not enrolled at any college, but I am still living at home on top of it all. Are you disappointed?

I can see your big blue eyes looking up at my now 5' 6 1/4" frame, meeting the gaze of my identical eyes, all your childish expectations dashed to the ground. I can hear your thoughts, "How will I become that famous artist I've always longed to be? How can I be a dance teacher without going to college? How will I meet a husband, anyway?" (Pretty "grown-up" femininistic dreams for only a seven year old, huh?)

Oh, little heart, there is so much more! Listen to me now: I am happier than I'd ever be at a campus somewhere. And I am that artist you wanted to be, but maybe not how you expected. As for the husband part...keep reading.

I remember the picture you cut out and taped into one of your school folders years ago. It was picture of a college graduate with luscious blonde hair, proudly holding her diploma and casting a beautiful smile into the camera. You showed it to your mother, saying, "That's what I want to look like some day." That was your ideal.

There are no college diplomas in sight for me, for I have no intention of getting a college education. I have been shown through God's Word and other godly sources that it is not my "curse", so to speak, to be the "breadwinner" for my family. God has greater things in store for me as a woman. God has lead me to a different path, showing me there is no need to spend four plus years at an university away from my family, learning things I don't really need to know, immersed in an atmosphere that is typically hostile to God and all my beliefs, surrounded by influences and peers that would tempt me into an ungodly lifestyle, and I do not need to spend thousands of dollars to have a piece of paper that will not even guarantee my future. It is not my role as a young woman to engage in a career, but rather focus on preparing for my future home and family. And in this period of my life, I need my home and family more than ever. God instilled in me, as He has in women everywhere, the desire to be a helpmeet to my future husband, to be his companion through the storms and battles of life, to help manage his home and further his business, ministry or vision, to raise the next generation of warriors for the Kingdom...and a college degree cannot prepare me for this amazing challenge.

By choosing to stay at home after my highschool graduation in August of 2010, I have the opportunity to practice the skills I will need to live with my husband and raise children. By learning to submit to my parents' decisions, I practice for the time when my husband makes final decisions for our family. By learning to bite my tongue when hurtful words want to fly from my mouth, I am practicing self-control for when I'd be tempted to spew at my husband and children when I feel my "rights" are offended. By learning to be patient with my younger siblings and investing in their lives, I am practicing for when I have the precious responsibility of raising my own children. When assisting in tasks around our home, I am learning home management and practical skills I will use throughout my life. All this I cannot learn at a college.

There is a saying which goes, "If you can get along with your family, you can get along with anyone in the world." And that's exactly what I'm learning. I am experiencing all sorts of personalities, abilities, and character traits. I have watched eight other people deal with conflict and joys, difficulties and fears, and have observed how I get along with people as well. (People have doubts about our homeschool "socialization"...let me assure them: there is no cause for worry!)

Okay, I have presented a small case for staying at home, but I'm certain the question still rises in your mind: "What about falling in love with a boy from college?"

A while ago a member from our church and I somehow got into a slightly heated conversation about this subject. "But you need to go to college to get an education! There is no other way to make it in the world!" she kept saying in a forceful voice. I was unmovable. Then she tried a different technique. "My daughter met her husband at college. How are you going to meet a husband?" I laughed inwardly. Sometime later, my pastor also asked in a playful tone and with a twinkle in his eye when discussing my upcoming graduation, "You aren't even going to college to get a MRS degree?"

Yes, even you, Taylor, at a young age, were dreaming of when a charming, heroic young man would save you from the evil bullies on the college campus, and you'd go on long walks and fall in love. (Strangely enough, marriage was never part of the story.)

As I type, the glitter on my left ring finger catches my eye, and I reminded myself, once again, of the day six years ago when I said to my mother, "I am choosing to remain pure for my future husband." The silver band, engraved with a heart, key, and graceful swirls, reminds me of this commitment. And, I am reminded of all the impure thoughts and choices I have made since that decision as well. Oh, how the blush of shame creeps up my face. I know how fickle my heart is, and I am sorry for my struggles with wrong thoughts. But I am getting ahead of myself...

I have never dated (probably much to the chagrin of you, seven-year old Taylor), and am saving all my dates for my future husband. I have been shown the biblical idea of courtship and purity. I am waiting for my future husband. "But how will you meet your husband?" I don't know...I'll leave that up to my "Match-maker": God, my Heavenly Father! There are times I have wanted to take the pen from His omniscient hand and add my own details, but I am learning to entrust it to Him. I have seen the heartbreak of wrenching the pen from God (in fact, I am listening to the story of a young woman who is entering great heartache, foolishness, and sin at this moment), and I do not want that for myself. God's ways are always best, and I know I would mess it all up, and I have already complicated matters.

I realize you may have many more questions, and feel free to talk to me about them. I could point you directly to the Bible and show you were in God's Word I have derived these stands. Please, don't feel disappointed in me and my choices. I am so happy with my decisions and very fulfilled here at home with my family. I am looking forward to what God has in store. I am not disappointed in who I've become (meaning the choices I have made).

Yes, I am now 19 - the ideal age in your mind. And yes, whatever age I am is the ideal age. And now, to 14-year old Taylor who thought 19 was the earliest age I'd be engaged and married far, no Prince Charming is in sight, and that's fine with me - I have so much learning to accomplish before he shows up!

Taylor, age 19

Friday, April 1, 2011

April Fool's Day: Do Something Radical

EDITOR'S NOTE: I had previously encouraged you to read Philippians 3:1-17, but actually, I meant Colossians 3:1-17. Opps! I have always loved April Fool's Day ever since I was a little girl. The opportunity to think of a way to trick someone was something I craved, and I was always seeking to play a prank on any unsuspecting victim, especially my big brother. :) I clearly remember the fake spider prank I tried to pull on him, but alas, it did not succeed. Then I remember all my other failed attempts, and unfortunately I have not tasted victory for many years. But once, I did succeed, come to think of it. It was April Fool's Day several years ago, and Ben, my big brother, was still sleeping when breakfast time was approaching. Suddenly, I knew my chance had arisen! I raced into the boys' room, calling out in a panicked voice, "Ben! Ben! Get up NOW! It's almost noon! I can't believe it! It's time to get up!" (In reality, it was only around 8:30 a.m.) Ben jolted awake and leaped out of bed. (I amazingly was keeping a straight face and playing my part very well.) "What? Oh no!" he exclaimed in a worried tone. Then he looked at his clock, and knew I had got him good. :) This morning, I completely forgot it was April Fool's Day until Ben and Leesha reminded me while getting out breakfast. Immediately I thought, "What should I do? What should I do?", but my mind failed to produce anything (my brain does not work well in the mornings!). But, giving it some thought, I've decided to be on the look-out for something different. Something radical. Today I have resolved to be watching for opportunities, not to embarrass someone by making them feel "dumb", but to encourage them and step out of my comfort zone, doing something radical. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not an ultra chic trying using this term to appear "cool" (my mind automatically forms an image of a hippie-type person making a peace sign and saying, "It's totally radical, dude" - and that is not me!). Nor am I implying to be radical in a negative sense. I grabbed a small Webster's dictionary (not the well-loved 1828, but a 1963 version) and found this quick definition: "favoring extreme change". By encouraging myself and you to do something radical today, I am challenging you to step out of your comfort zone and start living as one who has been through an "extreme change", which you have been if you believe that Jesus Christ "died for me and shed His blood for me on the cross for the forgiveness of sins." (Luther's Small Catechism, 1943) Your life has been changed, and now you can live in freedom and point to Christ through your radical change. Consider these beautiful verses from 2nd Corinthians 5:17-21:
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconcilation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God."
Truly, I say to you, if you believe in Jesus Christ as your precious Lord and Savior - live it out! Be radical! Can people tell when they observe you at home, at a friend's house, at church, at Wal-mart, at work, or to borrow at term from the ministry I'm involved with: on stage and off stage? You are presenting the radical message of Jesus Christ through your words and deeds, everyday, being an ambassador for Christ. In real life, this radical change means putting to death the desire to blow up at someone when you are annoyed (Phil. 3:8). This means stifling the wrong thoughts which plague your mind and focusing on godly things (Phil. 4:8). This means forgiving that long-held grudge and showing love (Matthew 6:14-15). This means stepping up to the plate and assisting others in a self-sacrificing way (Romans 12:10-13). This means associating perhaps with someone you generally avoid (Romans 12:18). Do something radical! And don't let it stop today. Be radical everyday. Sometimes it may be in smaller ways, or it may be in larger ways, but someone will always notice: you will! It's different to be a radical, and you know, it feels good to be a godly sense.
"I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." (Romans 12:1-2)
Will you read with me today Colossians 3:1-17? Unfortunately, because of time constraints, I cannot type the entire passage, but I strongly urge you to meditate on these words and take them to heart. Here you will find the radical change clearly laid out (oh, how I am convicted every time I read this chapter!). Pray to the Lord to work this radical change in your life (as I do as well), take hold of His strength, mercy and grace, and live it out in the radical life. Do something radical, this day and always. Happy April "Radical" Day! :-D Lacheln! Taylor