Thursday, November 30, 2006

Youth and Ignorance

I'm quite willing to post a sound clip of my voice, as requested, if someone can tell me how to do it, since I have no clue :).

I haven't had much time to draft in-depth blog posts recently, so I'm pulling something from my drafts :). I wrote this back in August, I believe. Yes, I've decided that I overanalyze stories. Hehe.

~~~

I recently saw a play version of Peter Pan. I always liked the story of Peter Pan growing up, both the book and the Disney-fied movie as well, and I still do like it. But this time when I saw the play version (in the tradition of Mary Martin), though I enjoyed it, I also saw it through different eyes. As the lost boys were chanting I'll never grow up, never grow up, never grow up, . . not me!, the cuteness of the song was lost to me. All I could think of right then was verse after verse from the Proverbs about wisdom and old age. Gray hair is a crown of splendor, is it not? Wisdom is found among the aged. And we are commanded to search for wisdom!

I previously mused a bit on the faulty idolization of youth in my post on L.M. Montgomery's The Golden Road. It strikes me as sad that our culture seems to perpetuate childhood as long as possible. Youth has become our idol. I am not talking about making a 7-year-old take on a full time job; I am talking about expecting adult behavior from people before they graduate college! We have 30 year olds who shy away from marriage because they are not ready for "commitment," and because they do not want to be "tied down" by a wife or family. We expect teenagers to act immature, irresponsible, and self-centered, so no wonder they do. Our culture is obsessed with the youthful image. We go to great lengths to look younger and feel younger. We hide our true age. We have mid-life crises when we realize that we're getting old.

But age is a good thing - a crown of splendor! We should look forward to old age and the wisdom we will gain along the way. I'm certainly glad I won't be 22 forever; I wouldn't want to be that immature for my whole life! On a recent trip to the mall I noticed a clothing store called "Forever Twenty-One." I jokingly turned to Mother Dear and lamented the fact that I was no longer that idealistic age. Now that I'm 22, life is just not worth living. *feigned sigh*

I've heard many, many people who think that we're supposed to be childlike, living as innocently as children (that alone is a problematic statement!), that we should learn to be as simple as children, as carefree as children, as trusting as children. Et cetera. Jesus does tell us to have the faith of a little child, but He is not intending for us to live in our teens or childhood perpetually. We are not to eschew knowledge and wisdom in order to keep our "childlike faith."

Jesus is speaking about having a complete trust in Someone who is bigger than us, dependence on Him, and coming to Him even when we cannot fully comprehend His ways. That is the faith of a little child. He is not speaking of being content in our ignorance for life, but taking His word on faith, when we cannot yet completely understand! We come to Him helpless, but then we learn to grow in grace and knowledge, not permanently stunted in growth, stuck in perpetual youth. Youthful ignorance is not a blessing.

Peter Pan leaves us with a mixed lesson, a realization that adulthood is inevitable, but a wish to remain a child forever. I'm not sure how that strikes me. Surely one can grow in wisdom and age without losing all sense of fun and adventure! Who said children have all the fun? And one can also grow in intellect and not "out-grow" his faith; in fact, only the truly wise can embrace the gospel by faith, for the fool hath said in his heart, "There is no God."
When a man has a little bit of knowledge, he turns to atheism. When he learns more, he turns back to God. - Dr. Charles Thaxton

Were I given the choice to becoming my 10-year-old self again, or were I given the option of entering an actual Never-Neverland and remain as I am forever, I would run far away. I look forward to being old, and I pray that with age God guides me in growing in grace and wisdom as well. . . And that wisdom will be worth wrinkles and gray hair!

Death is not an original part of the creation (Romans 5:12, e.g.), and I would extend that concept to submit that neither was physical aging, at least the detrimental kind. Certainly there are disadvantages to wrinkles, gray hair, and creaking joints. My four grandparents, all 79+ and wracked with various ailments, can attest to that. I can't help but wonder: if The Fall had never happened, would the aging of mankind have been like that of the elves of Middle Earth? The elves were immortal and grew wiser and more beautiful with age. Perhaps Tolkien meant to give us a small glimpse into an existence without The Fall. Certainly humans do not grow more beautiful with age, at least not outwardly so! But scripture tells us that we should grow more wise with age, which doesn't jive with a fixation on youth.

Job 12:12 Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?

Job 32:7 Days should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom.

I Corinthians 13:11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Skirts

I'm resurfacing for a moment to link to Jessie's recent post, which I thought was fun. The title is just too cute :).

Friday, November 24, 2006

I Can't Do It Myself

I really appreciated Crystal's recent post I Can't Do It Myself. I'm prone to trying to do things in my own strength, rather than resting in the all-sufficient arms of my Saviour, so I definitely identified with what she shared! Here I am unmarried with a not-quite-full-time job(s), and yet sometimes I just feel like I'm running around like a chicken with its head cut off. I continually add things to my "to-read", "to-blog", and "to-do" list, and determine that, in my own strength, I can accomplish them. And they often don't get accomplished! When I rely on me and not on God, then I've missed the very purpose for which I was called as one of God's children: to proclaim the excellencies of He who has called me out of darkness into the light. And I certainly can't do that in my own strength!

Here are a few excerpts from Crystal's post:

It finally dawned on me: This is the new normal. Time will never be your own again, your house will always looked very lived in, some days you won't get a shower, your best plans might be completely overturned in a matter of minutes by a messy diaper or fussy baby. You are no longer in control and you can't do it on your own. You can either relinquish your self-reliance and start trusting in the Lord, or you can spend the rest of your life lamenting what once was and no longer is.

In my own strength, I'd be pulling my hair out, I'd be completely overwhelmed, and totally stressed, but I've learned that God's strength is so much better. By His grace, I can look beyond these temporal things and know He is in control, He is Sovereign, and He will give me everything I need to endure what He has called me to endure. His strength is made perfect in my weakness. I can't do this, but "I can do all things through Christ." And I'm thankful my stubborn confident self has finally realized this.

Make sure to read her whole post!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Thankful on Thursday - Sister Dear

This will be quite short, but I didn't want to miss my Thursdays of Thankfulness on Thanksgiving of all weeks! I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving, and don't forget to keep leaving your guesses about my voice (see previous post).

Last week Hannah bemoaned that I hadn't yet waxed thankfully on my Dear Family, so I thought I'd play right into her and be thankful this week for. . . . her :). Other family members will have to wait to be mentioned.

I'm very, very thankful to God for giving me my Dear Sister Hannah, and it's been an incredible amount of fun growing up with her over the years :). We're 25 months apart, and we were simultaneously best friends and worst enemies growing up. I'm thankful that Hannah still loved me even after sharing a room with me for 12 years *knowing grin*. I'm thankful that God allowed us to attend college while living at home, so we can still enjoy each other's comradery :). And I'm thankful that God created sisters (and brothers) as built-in playmates. Family is truly a wonderful blessing, and sisters are no exception :-D.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Just Because I'm Also Curious. . .

(Alternate Title: Do I Sound Like Minnie Mouse?)

Lydia posted a fun question on her blog today. She is curious to know what her blog readers imagine her voice sounds like. I gave a rather boring answer:

I haven't really thought of what your voice is like. Everyone I know through blogging sounds like me in my mind :). Not because I think they actually sound like me, but because I'm hearing my voice as I mentally read their words.

Okay, then I did give her a more exciting answer, but the above really is true! You all sound like "me" in my mind, even those of you with Australian accents ;-). And as for the guys, it's not that I really think you sound like me (that would be weird!), but I think just about any male voice would still surprise me, because it's not my voice. But you girls all sound like "me" in my head :).

But, all this talk on Lydia's blog has made me wonder what my blog readers think I sound like. Zan suggested Audrey Hepburn, but I'm not sure if she is serious ;-). While I wouldn't mind sounding like Audrey Hepburn, I definitely don't think my voice is that nice. Hehe. Anyone else like to share their own guesses? Low, high. Soft, loud. What about an accent? Do I have a Southern drawl? A nasally Northern accent? As Lydia said, the zanier the guess, the better :).

I'll be missing-in-action for the next several days, as we make a trip to Chattanooga and then come home in time for a few quick rounds of guests on Friday and Saturday, so feel free to leave your guesses while I'm absent :). I may post a sound clip next week, as Lydia said she may do.

And if you already know me in person, you can't guess!!!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Importance of Beauty for Protestants

Adrian has written an excellent post on The Importance of Beauty for Protestants. Here are a few excerpts:

Part of why Presbyterians are becoming Catholics is because the Presbyterians have abandoned beauty in their worship service. The Catholics, while perpetuating the abomination of the Mass (and thus re-sacrificing Christ in contradiction to Hebrews), have a stunning worship service. It is lovely. And we human beings are made to respond to beauty like that. When it's missing, we think something's wrong, and rightly so.

Beauty is important because God is beautiful, the Ultimate Embodiment of Beauty. God wants us to experience that beauty. God lures, rather than coerces, us to Himself. He shows us the incomparable riches of Christ, and desires that we should desire those riches.

Make sure to read the whole post!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Thankful on Thursday - Take III

I'm enjoying this weekly opportunity to reflect on God's blessings. Thank you, Lydia, for creating and hosting this Thankful on Thursday series!

This week I have a list of miscellaneous items for thanks:

1. I'm thankful that I now have a bit of a break from teaching and tutoring, with Thanksgiving :). This means I get a little time to maybe catch up on alterations and to see out-of-town friends.

2. Speaking of out-of-town friends, I'm thankful to God that I live in an era of easy travel. Several of my close friends live out of state, so I'm thankful for the means and opportunity to visit them (and have them visit me). Modern transportation really is a wonderful gift!

3. I'm thankful for little babies to hold! My church is overflowing with babies right now, and I'm so thankful for the sweet mothers who let me hold their little ones. There are few things I enjoy more than cuddling a baby :). And anytime I want the chance to babysit, I have ready opportunity.

4. I'm thankful for seasons. God could have made a world with no seasons, but instead he created four distinct and beautiful seasons to enjoy. And because each one only comes around once a year, we can appreciate its beauty more! Right now I'm thankful for the beautiful autumn leaves.

What are you thankful for? Write a post, and let Lydia know!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

*trying to come up with a clever title*

My next tutoring student is late, so I thought I'd snatch a minute on Blogger :). Consider this a random set of ramblings :).

I'm in the midst of trying to get some sewing projects completed. Nothing particularly interesting, mainly just blouse alterations. I've found it easiest and most cost-effective to purchase second-hand blouses in good condition and then alter them to fit. I alter clothing more than I sew new clothing, usually :). I was at JoAnn recently and found some pretty dark blue micro-suede-type fabric on sale for $2.99/yard (regular $6.99), so I bought enough to make a nice, ankle-length winter skirt, which I hope to complete in the next few weeks. I'm hoping to make it with a 6-gore pattern if I have enough yardage. Maybe I'll post pictures when/if it gets completed :).

The women's Bible study for my church wrapped up the fall session today. We studied Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon. Definitely an interesting study! Being the only single woman in a study on SoS is, um, interesting ;-). Hehe. I'm thankful for the chance to delve into some of the Old Testament poetry, which I had previously neglected, except for cursory reads. And I'm convinced that Shakespeare read Song of Solomon as inspiration for his sonnets :).

Hannah and I spent a few hours at the park this afternoon. Bee-yoo-ti-ful! It's been unseasonably warm the last few days, and I'm trying to soak it in before winter sets in. This fall has been absolutely breathtaking! We have so many hardwoods in our neighborhood that have turned all beautiful colors to enjoy. We never did make it up to northern Georgia this year, to do some leaf-gazing, but that's quite all right. There was plenty to look at in Metro Atlanta :).

In advance, please excuse my inattention to Blogger in the next 6 weeks or so. I will be around, but I plan on having more limited time in weeks to come. We're planning several out-of-town visits through December, as well as hosting out-of-town guests a few times. I love December, because I usually get to see so many far-away friends that I don't get to see very often :). Our flurry of visits begins this weekend as I travel to Alabama to visit my good friend Emily. I'm excited at the prospect!

Hmm. It's now 4:25. I think my student is not coming. *scratches head in confusion* Oh well, that means I get to do the dishes now, before my next student comes at 5:00! Ta-ta.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

No Excellencies for the Daughters of Abraham?

I mentioned in a previous post that I'm currently reading through Ben-Hur. So far, the chapter that has left the greatest impression on me was the one in which Judah visits a Greek grove called the Grove of Daphne. Judah, like most of the visitors to the city, chooses to visit the grove and mix with the idolatry surrounding it, although he is still a Jew by conviction. He is particularly struck by the grove's beauty and serenity, and he ponders the charm that draws thousands of people to the grove each year, giving themselves in service to the grove and its mysterious charm:

If the Grove were so good for them, why should it not be good for him? He was a Jew; could it be that the excellencies were for all the world but children of Abraham?

Those two sentences struck me quite forceably as I was reading through the chapter, and I think these words have some applications in the area of modesty and beauty. I've had a few requests from commenters in recent months, asking me to do a post on female apparel. I'm finally honoring that request, though, in typical Susan-fashion, I'm taking a slightly different look at the issue than is probably expected :).

In my opinion, there are many, many excellent treatise in the blogosphere on the subject of Christian, female modesty. I see no reason to add my superfluous general comments to the mix, but I will say that women have the responsibility to build up their brothers in Christ, not tear them down by walking around in various stages of undress. For my musings on complementary dress, see my post last fall. But when female apparel is analyzed and wittled down to a list of "do's and don't's," then we've lost the real issue. It shouldn't be a matter of measuring our hemlines or making hard-and-fast rules such as "skirts are the only legitimate apparel for women." The real issue is the heart. How does this manifest itself? In different ways for different women. How was that for ambiguous :)?

But now for the purpose of this post. Oftentimes Christian women look around them, see the flashy, attractive fashions that the world has to offer, glance back at what many in the Christian community have deemed "acceptable" clothing, and they ponder, like Judah Ben-Hur, are excellencies for all the world but Abraham's daughters? We Christian women are presented with a false dichotomy: attractive, seductive clothing or frumpy, modest clothing. It seems we have to choose between beauty or conviction.

Or do we?

Believe me, as a former homeschooled girl who fit many of the stereotypes ;), I've tried about every form of modest apparel out there: long baggy shorts, culottes, super-loose t-shirts, relaxed-fit jeans, sweatshirts, layered shirts for opaqueness, long billowy skirts, jean jumpers. You name it, I've probably tried it. Except the flour sack look; I never did do that :).

I've discovered along the way that one does not have to be frumpy to be modest. When it comes to female dress, most conservative Christians stress modesty so much (a good thing, mind you!) that they overlook the lovely references to female beauty throughout the Bible. God delights in beauty! Loveliness is included among purity and truth in Philippians 4. Look at the beautiful details given to the Old Testament temple, and look at the inspiring descriptions of Old Testament women as they are adorned for their husbands. Dressing in a shapeless piece of sack clothing may keep my brothers in Christ from lusting after me, but at the same time I would be missing out on the opportunity to show others that excellencies are not for all the world but Abraham's children. Take a few amusing anecdotes:

During one of my phases (believe me, I've had many!) in apparel, I mostly wore shapeless denim skirts everyday, topped with a loose t-shirt. These skirts were primarily of either the straight (one-legged trouser) variety, or the extremely loose and baggy variety, and the shirts were not exactly gracefully-feminine, though they were modest! That was also the semester I wore my hair in a bun to classes for the first two months straight. Quite frankly, I looked like I was part of a cult. And I was asked that, in so many words, by one of my classmates :). I didn't exactly make a great advertisement for the delights of feminine modesty and decorum that semester!

Or, take another example. I wear headcoverings in worship on Sundays. When I first had this conviction, I had one suitable straw hat to wear, which served me well in the spring and summer, nicely accessorized by coordinating cotton-print bands. But come winter, and straw hats were not seasonable items :(, so I opted for the cotton-scarf-tied-on-the-head look. Especially if coupled with my granny boots, this was not attractive with most (not all) outfits. I looked like I belonged in The Beverly Hillbillies. Trust me.

I've now opted to shed the shapeless or extra-baggy skirts. And I make sure that I wear scarves for coverings only when carefully paired with complementary outfits. And the differences are amazing. I don't get weird you-belong-in-a-cult looks anymore. My reasonably-sized knit tops or tailored blouses and my long, flowing skirts get looks, yes, but not the same sympathetic looks I got before ;-). I get compliments and looks of respect. Men open doors for me. Women in my church tell me how beautiful my wool hats and coordinating silk scarves are.

Now, please, please don't read this post and think I'm trying to pat myself on the back. Notice I spent 2-3 paragraphs laughing over my frumpy past, and only 1 trying to explain ways I hope I've improved. That balance was intentional. I'm merely trying to explain ways I have sought to change, and my success is not for me to judge. And I'm still learning :).

Beauty is an important tool we are given in the fight against the world. Don't miss it! If we've managed to keep our flesh hidden from the eyes of our brothers, good! But if in the process we've presented a very unattractive picture of godly apparel, then I think we've failed to display God's glory, beauty, and majesty.

Does this mean that as Christian women we should dress in ball gowns on a daily basis? No. Should we never wear denim? No. I still have denim skirts, I still have scarves to tie in my hair, and I still have knit tops (though they are now of an appropriate size. . . ). I still have granny boots, though I continue to find myself preferring slip-on dress shoes. I like to wear semi-nice clothing on a regular basis, but I don't think this is a requirement! It's easy to make dressing nice into a struggle with vanity and pride. Believe me! Perhaps your own application of this post is to wear clothes that are in style, yet still modest. We don't all have to wear the classic feminine style :). Dress in a way that is modest and that shows that you are female. And dress in a way that will not evoke pity, but rather respect. You fill in the details :).

A note of caution: remember that the most important type of beauty comes from within, as the women of the past adorned themselves. As is such with all of God's good gifts, it is easy to take beauty and misuse it, and set it on a pedestal where it should not be. And it is easy to take the world's definition of beauty and apply it to ourselves. Any outward beauty should be a reflection of our inner beauty, as we are becoming more and more like Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

My goal in dressing used to be to portray the "homeschool" look, whether that manifest itself in the form of a denim jumper, Ked shoes, long baggy shorts, or a billowy top. Now, though, I try to look in the mirror and ponder if my apparel is giving modesty a good name. Am I portraying conviction as something that makes people dull, boring, and frumpy, or are people learning by my example that excellencies are also for the daughters of Abraham? I pray the latter. Beauty and modesty are not mutually exclusive.

Unveiling the blog of "Une Fille d'Eve". . .

Sister Dear finally decided to register a blog, but don't get overly excited because she plans on posting almost exclusively in Spanish or French :). Typical Hannah-fashion. But it still may prove interesting. By the way, Une Fille d'Eve is French for Daughter of Eve, in case her user name has perplexed others in the past :). Yay for The Chronicles of Narnia!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Thankful on Thursday - God is both Sovereign and Good

Thursday of Thankfulness

Today I'm thankful that God is sovereign. I'm thankful that when life is hectic and elections do not turn out as it seems they "should," that God is still on His throne. Not a sparrow falls to the ground apart from His notice, and not a single official is elected outside of His plan. I'm thankful that God's plans are not thwarted by low voter turnout, uninformed voting, unethical voting, or seemingly good ammendments that fail to pass. God does not sponsor our agenda or the agenda of a political party. God has His own agenda.

But I'm not just thankful that God is sovereign; I'm thankful that God is both sovereign and good. Not only does nothing happen outside His will, but everything happens in the goodness of God. I'm thankful that God isn't just a frowning providence, but a smiling face. And for those that love Him, all works together for good. What a glorious promise!

Thank you, Lord, that you are on your throne.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Tips for Beginning Sewers

Anna over at Maidens of Worth is starting a blog series on sewing. She is giving some excellent tips on getting started, so make sure to check it out!

Gospel v. Moralism

I'm enjoying everyone's thoughts here on whether or not the 1940's was "The Greatest Generation" (Tom Brokaw's terminology, not mine), just as bad as our current generation, or even far worse. I think it would be helpful to clarify the difference between an outwardly "good" society, and a society permeated with the Gospel.

My only point in posting the article was to contrast (very briefly) the society of the 1940's with today's society. I find the difference in childhood expectations, parental and child responsibility, respect, and outward morality to be great. The important thing to remember, though, and I should have clarified this when I posted, was that "good works" does not a good man make. It is far easier in many ways for parents to teach their children godly principles if those principles are also generally supported by the society, or at least not flagrantly disregarded. But only Jesus can do helpless sinners good.

The Gospel is the opposite of moralism. Let me say that again. The Gospel is the opposite of moralism. Moralism is an attempt to make ourselves good enough before God and man. The Gospel tells us we can never make ourselves good enough. We are so utterly corrupt that we need someone else to cleanse us from the inside out. We cannot earn our own righteousness. We need Christ's righteousness. If our goal as Christians is merely to get back to the 1940's, or the 1800's, or whatever our preferred ideal era, then we are far too unambitious. The story of the Bible is one of redemption, not merely from outward evils, but most of all from inward evils. We are our own worst enemies.

So let's enjoy past decades and appreciate the great men and women who have gone before us. But ultimately we must realize that God is sovereign. He placed us in this century for a purpose. It took me years to truly be greatful to be born in this time period, and that gratitude to God only came when I began to appreciate and grasp (in a small way) His sovereignty.

Also, let's remind each other of the great work God is doing in the world here and now. Look at the great progress of the Gospel in Asia and Latin America. We must pray in faith for a revival to sweep our land as well. Christ is reigning, and someday He will reign in all His fulness. Thanks be to God!

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.

Friday, November 03, 2006

The Greatest Generation v. Generation Y

Here is an interesting article by Matt Chancey. It is amazing to think of all the upheaval that has occurred in our culture over the past century and just how odd it all must look to the aging generation who remember past times.

Bill Snead came from a generation of Americans that had no idea what a psychiatric disorder” was. There was no Ritalin, no Prozac. Parents didn’t take their children to a psychiatrist when they started playing with fire or hanging from ceiling fans.

As Snead put it, “We applied the ‘board of education’ to the ‘seat of knowledge.’ We didn’t drug our young people. Back then, we called their foolishness ‘sin.’”

When my grandparents recount bits and pieces of their childhood growing up together in small-town Indiana, it seems like a different world, almost - a world where children respected their parents without question, where guns were not feared but respectfully used, and where sin was called just that - "sin." We live in a peculiar and godless society. As Schaeffer would say, we live in a post-Christian society. God help us.

Read the whole article here.

HT: LAF

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Thursdays of Thankfulness

Lydia is beginning a weekly series called Thursdays of Thankfulness, over at Renewed Day by Day. Make sure to go read the intro to the series, and I encourage you to participate. Maybe it's too late for you to write a post this week, but start thinking for next week! Thanksgiving in all things is definitely something we can all work on cultivating.

Here is my own submission for this week's Thursdays of Thankfulness:

~~~

Today I'm thankful for the many ways in the past two years that God has answered my prayers in ways I would not have wished. Yes, it sounds strange. But in the past few months I've specifically been reflecting on circumstances in my life over the past few years that definitely did not go according to my plans. Yet in the end I find myself praising God for His infinite wisdom.

Two years ago what I wanted more than just about anything was to drop out of college, find a different church, and marry and have kids. Yet today, I'm thankful that I did finish college in accordance with my parents' wishes, I'm thankful that I have the privilege of worshipping with the same body of believers, and I'm thankful for these past two years of singleness, during which God has grown and stretched me in unbelievable ways.

As I enthusiastically worked through two-column proofs with my students today, and as I saw the light in their eyes when they "got it," I was thankful for the opportunity to pass on my love of math to a new generation of students. Teaching is not what I would like to do with my whole life, but it is my calling now, and I rejoice in it. Yesterday, as I fellowshipped with the women from my church as we studied God's word together, I was thankful to God for these women in my life. And as I sat under the preaching of God's word this Sunday, I praised God for the truths He revealed through my pastor. As I now glance at my still-bare left ring finger, I thank God that I didn't marry right after college graduation, as I had long-hoped. I had so much to still learn! . . and the learning process is far from over. I thank Him for the valleys He has brought me through and the ways He has prepared me over the past few years, preparation I do still pray will be for marriage, but all in His time, according to His will.

I thank God for disappointed hopes and dreams, and then I thank Him for the brilliantly-lit silver lining among the "clouds." Today I'm thankful for the times when God, in His infinite wisdom, has answered me with a "no," when I begged Him for a "yes." Unsearchable is His wisdom, perfect are His plans. Amen and amen.