Friday, October 28, 2011

28 Things I Learned This Year

My sweet, lovely grandmother has a cheery saying she's fond of: If you're not changing it means you're dead.

As a girl who tends to stress and worry and panic, change can be a very scary thing. But on my birthday - which is today - I like to take stock of things I learned/discovered/gleaned/perfected over the last year. And here they are, in no particular order:

1. I now make excellent scones. Crumbly, delicious, and not nearly as difficult as I thought they'd be.

2. All my life I've heard people quote, "God helps those who help themselves," like it's out of the Bible. A few years ago, I learned that wasn't scriptural. And in the last year, historical writer Roseanna White taught me that quote belongs to Benjamin Franklin.

3. I can crack an egg with just one hand, which was born out of necessity since I often have Connor on my hip when I'm baking.

4. Speaking of Connor, I learned that toddler boy drama is just as wild an unpredictable as 3-year-old girl drama. Don't let anybody fool you by saying boys aren't dramatic and moody...



5. That I love Brussels sprouts. Not like a, "Yeah, I can eat those," kind of thing, but I actually crave Brussels sprouts. Particularly when they're roasted or sauteed with bacon fat.

6. The mad talent of Florence & The Machine. Wonderful, wonderful band.


7. Ebooks. I bought my Kindle earlier this year, and I was shocked by how much I like using it. There are things I miss, like flipping through pages when I'm in search of something, but I still really enjoy the reading experience. And I love how I can go from thinking, "I want to read that book," to actually reading this book within about 2 minutes.

8. The Hunger Games series, which were the first books I downloaded on my Kindle. What a fabulously creative series. Very deserving of its success.


9. Easy, tasty rolls. Oh, baby, these rosemary rolls are yummy and quick. They use frozen bread dough, but because of the rosemary, butter, and salt, you'd never know it. When you're invited somewhere, volunteer to bring the rolls.

10. I learned I love blogging. I have the best time hanging out on Go Teen Writers with the wonderfully talented young writers.

http://s118.photobucket.com/albums/o108/snickerpie/?action=view&current=teenwriterscopy-1.jpg

11. I became completely obsessed with Tastebud Magazine, which is a free publication in the Kansas City area. It's foodie heaven, and I look forward to it every month. If you like eating, you should see if your community has something similar.

12. Being the parent of the flower girl in a wedding is super scary. I had no idea. What if she falls? What if she won't walk down the aisle? What if she gets sick before the wedding? What if she picks her nose? (None of which happened, fortunately.)


13. We're watching the Ken Burns documentary on baseball, so I have absorbed a crazy amount of baseball knowledge in the last month. Like that whole thing about Babe Ruth calling his shot is a huge controversy. And that the Kansas City Monarchs dominated the negro leagues. And that there's no official creator of baseball, that it evolved from a couple different games.

14. Save the Date by Jenny B. Jones was one of my favorite books of the year. I've read most her books and enjoyed them all, but I loved the balance of humor and depth of this one.



15. Pacifier is not a universal phrase. One day on Go Teen Writers, I was using my son's love for his pacifier for a writing illustration, and I was shocked to see how few of my international readers knew what a pacifier was. It sparked a whole list of things the pacifier is called. My favorites are a "dummy" which is in Australia or a "suck" which is in Denmark.

16. In California's wine country, you can do olive oil tastings. I did one with Round Pound, and it was great. They line up plastic cups for you, so it's like little shots of olive oil. They also had vinegars, which they pour over a sugar cube, and then you pick up the cube and suck out the vinegar.

17. That my husband strongly dislikes the New Kids on the Block t-shirt I've had since 2nd grade. Which is really sad because it's so worn and soft and comfy.

18. How to make excellent mashed potatoes in advance. Pioneer Woman's are great freshly made or reheated in the oven.

19. That being out of high school for 10 years doesn't feel as long as you might imagine. When I graduated back in 2001, 10 years sounded like plenty of time to turn into the fabulous adult I was hoping to be. And even though I have all the things I thought I'd have by now - husband, babies, books - I still have lots of days where I feel like I'm just pretending to be an adult. Maybe by the time my 20 year reunion rolls around, the whole adult thing will feel more normal.

20. Whop Whops. I love this phrase. A girl from New Zealand used it in a Go Teen Writer contest. It means the same thing as "the boonies" (Like, "they live out in the whop whops.") I totally want to start using it more.

21. Julie Klassen is much more fun to talk to than she is to stalk. Julie and I were at the same writer's conference in September. I adore her books, but I was too afraid to talk to her, so for the first day or two, I kept my distance. Then I finally went and said hi to her and found out she's extremely cool and easy to talk to. Wonderful lady, wonderful books. 

22. When you make coffee in a French press, you're supposed to mix it up with that plunger thingy before you let it brew. I've been making it wrong for years.

23. I learned lots and lots and lots about food television for a manuscript of mine. Like that people laughed at the concept of the Food Network, which started back in 1993. We cancelled our cable this year, and I miss FN more than anything else.

24. The Help is an incredible book and deserves all the hype.

25. I like camping. I tried it because I love my outdoorsy husband, and I was pretty surprised by how much I enjoyed it. The best night of sleep I got all year was in that tent. We were by a river, so we had great white noise, and we went to bed when it got dark, then woke up when the sun came up. We'll definitely go again.



26. I have a tendency to avoid conflict. I'm learning that's not about wanting to keep the peace, but rather it's a self-esteem issue for me. Will people still like me if I disagree with them? If I tell them I'm mad, will they still think I'm a nice person? Sigh. Lots of work left to be done on this girl...

27. I finally picked up Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell. It's been out for a few years, but for some reason I never read it. There's great stuff in there. I wish I had read it years ago.

28. I learned this just yesterday - people used to brush their teeth with boar-bristled toothbrushes. Um, disgusting. I learned this from Roseanna White, and she said it best: "Nothing like cleaning your teeth the hair from the back of a pig's neck!"

What's something you've learned/discovered this year?


Stephanie Morrill is a twenty-something living in Overland Park, Kansas with her husband and two kids. Her only talents are reading, writing, and drinking coffee, so career options were somewhat limited. Fortunately, she discovered a passion for young adult novels and has been writing them ever since. Stephanie is the author of The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series and is currently working on other young adult projects. She enjoys encouraging and teaching teen writers and does so on her blog www.GoTeenWriters.com. To connect with Stephanie and read samples of her books, check out www.StephanieMorrillBooks.com.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Clutter

Camy here! Okay, I have to admit I’m in a cleaning phase right now.

It seems like when my house and my office is messy, then my thoughts are messy and I just can’t work. I don’t know what the correlation is, but when I see clutter all over my office, I just can’t seem to concentrate on work very well.

But you know what the weird thing was? I didn’t realize this until a few years ago. So all those years in school when I had a hard time concentrating when I was supposed to be studying might be because my room was habitually a disaster area.

So here is some wisdom, learned almost 20 years too late--clean your room, and you might be able to study a bit better. Simple, yes?

Camy Tang writes romance with a kick of wasabi. Out now is the fourth book in her Sushi series, Weddings and Wasabi. She is a staff worker for her church youth group, and leads one of the worship teams for Sunday service. On her blog, she ponders frivolous things like knitting, running, dogs, and Asiana. Visit her website to sign up for her quarterly newsletter.

Click here to find out how you can join my Street Team—it’s free and there’s lots of chances to win prizes!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Following that inner prompt...

Have you ever signed up to do something or made an appointment, and then talked yourself out of it or changed your mind last minute? I can be bad about that. I get all geared up for something and then think "you know, it'd be much more convenient if I just skipped it" or "I don't have time for that now, I'll get my money back or reschedule", etc.

There's been a few instances in my life this year that is making me think twice about changing my mind, if that makes sense.

First example - in January, I FINALLY decided to go have this freckle on my leg looked at it. I don't even want to call it a mole because it wasn't raised. It just didn't look exactly like my other freckles. It'd been bothering me for a year or two, and I made an appointment. The day of the appointment, I started to change my mind. I didn't want to deal with a doctor's office after work, all that paperwork, co-pay, insurance drama, etc. Too much hassle for a freckle, right? Well for some reason (now officially labeled The Grace of God) I kept that appt.

And found out the "freckle" was melanoma.

I had to go back three other times to have the spot cut out and thankfully it was still surface level. But if I had ignored it another five to ten years, it could have been a totally different story. Even more so, that incident prompted me to take my daughter, who was 2 at the time, to the same doctor to look at a suspicious spot on her temple over her ear - which turned out to be A-Typical. (not cancer but potential to become that way).

Now I have a nice two inch reminder on my right thigh to always listen to my inner promptings. Because more often than not, if you're a Christian actively desiring God's will, that prompting is the Holy Spirit.

Second example - this past weekend, my husband and I signed up for a marriage conference. It was taught by Kirk Cameron from Growing Pains and the movie Fireproof. He's been married 20 years and is an excellent Bible teacher. Last minute, I almost bailed. Hubby and I had been arguing and emotionally I wasn't in the mood. I wanted to bag the whole thing. But we went, mostly because we'd paid for tickets and our church had paid half of the tickets for it's members, so that would have been rude.

We got there, and it was great - but MAN were those seats uncomfortable. The event was fabulous but it was running over, my back was throbbing from the wooden pew, and we hadn't eaten dinner and it was almost 9:00. I started to suggest to my hubby that we leave during intermission, that'd we gotten a ton of good info already and had a nice time together and enjoyed the worship music.

But for some reason (now officially labeled The Grace of God) I didn't, and we stayed, and that next hour was life-changing. If I had left because of desiring to ease my physical discomfort of back pains and hunger pains, I'd have missed a very special time with my husband that was worth a year of back pains and hunger pains. We ended up eating dinner at 10:30 p.m. and having a fabulous date after :)

You've heard it said before that there are no accidents, that you are where you are for a reason. That's been proven true so many times in my life. So I urge you today to trust your inner promptings. Trust the work and that still small whisper of the Holy Spirit. You won't ever be sorry.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Unknown

Tomorrow, a friend is picking me up for a three-day retreat. I’ve attended church retreats before—women’s retreats, a choir retreat, and ski trips when I was in the college group—but this will be a completely different experience. Other than the friend who invited me, and two other ladies that she mentioned were going, I won’t know anyone there. The itinerary doesn’t look anything like the activity line-up for women’s retreats at my church, and they even have rules like Please, no cell phones (so we’ll focus on hearing from God instead of on hearing from those we left at home). At first I felt a little unsettled about it. What kind of group expected people to leave their cell phones in their rooms or better yet, at home? What if I got there and felt completely out of place?

But the closer I get to tomorrow, the more excited I feel. I actually found myself feeling thankful for the no cell phone rule, knowing that it frees me to leave everything that is going on at home behind and take in what God wants to teach me. From what I can tell, the emphasis is extremely spiritual—something I definitely need right now. And I sense that it will be good for me to be with people that I don’t see on a daily or weekly basis—to make some new friends and connect with women that don’t know every detail of my life.

I see this retreat as an invitation out of my typical rut, and an opportunity to connect with Jesus in a fresh environment. I’m one of those people who like to know what to expect so I can feel safe and comfortable. As I asked my friend for more details about this retreat the other day, I sensed God nudging me to let a little bit of mystery be okay—to let some things be a surprise—that I didn’t always have to know what to expect every minute of every day. I look forward to His surprises.

How often do you accept invitations to do something unusual? How easy is it to step out of your comfort zone? When has God surprised you through an activity that you thought you might not enjoy?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Keep Hoping

For this child we prayed...

It's been a little quiet on my end lately.

Well, not quiet for me. But quiet from me.

 We have spent the last several weeks 
spending time with
and thanking God for 
the fulfillment of our prayers:


I don't know
who you are -
or what you're going through today.

But I do know 
God has placed dreams
in your heart
for a reason.

Keep hoping.
Keep believing.
And keep knowing...

He is able.

*Photographs by Ken Hale

Friday, October 14, 2011

Becoming

Camy here! We have a college Bible study at our house twice a month, and last Sunday we discussed finding a significant other.

We asked, “What qualities do you value in a boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse?”

You list it on a piece of paper.

Now look at those qualities. Instead of looking for someone who has all those qualities, you need to make an effort to become the person who has those qualities.

Do you value loyalty? Well, what can you do this week to grow and become a more loyal person?

Do you value kindness? Well, what can you do this week to grow and become a kinder, more thoughtful person?

Do you value honesty? Well, what can you do this week to grow and become a more honest person with your friends and family?

Rather than focusing on the person you want to date, instead focus on yourself and how you can become someone that a really cool person would want to date.

You want to become a person who is more Christ-like and who loves Jesus so that when that perfect person comes along, the two of you will help each other become better people.

So what qualities do you value in a mate? And what can you do this week to grow and become those qualities?

Camy Tang writes romance with a kick of wasabi. Out now is the fourth book in her Sushi series, Weddings and Wasabi. She is a staff worker for her church youth group, and leads one of the worship teams for Sunday service. On her blog, she ponders frivolous things like knitting, running, dogs, and Asiana. Visit her website to sign up for her quarterly newsletter.

Click here to find out how you can join my Street Team—it’s free and there’s lots of chances to win prizes!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Scariest Mass Email Ever

I'm currently reading Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis for the second time. I allow myself just one chapter a day because it helps me to absorb more. Every time I close the book, I think, "Man, that guy was smart." I love Mere Christianity because even though there's deep stuff in there, it's not tough to wrap my mind around. A couple nights ago, I read this:

"Good and evil both increase at compound interest. That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance. The smallest good act today is the capture of a strategic point from which, a few months later, you may be able to go on to victories you never dreamed of. An apparently trivial indulgence in lust or anger today is the loss of a ridge or railway line or bridgehead from which the enemy may launch an attack otherwise impossible."

The other night I camped out in that paragraph for a while and thought about all the ways in my life I see this demonstrated. I have struggled with honesty my entire life. Part of this, I think, is because of my writer's imagination; I'm always wanting to "embellish" and make my life-story sound just a teensy bit more interesting...

I'm also someone who avoids conflict whenever possible, so if I can lie to get out of a difficult conversation... Well, it's tempting.

But a few years ago when a lie of mine deeply hurt someone I loved, I knew I had some hard work ahead of me. I was ashamed of what I had done, of the piece of my life I'd had to work so hard to conceal. At the same time, I was writing Me, Just Different. And as Skylar learned about authenticity from her boyfriend's family, I was working on authenticity within me.

I decided I wanted to be the same person all the time, whether I was with my pastor or my coworkers. Whether I was with my husband or my girlfriends. And the first step toward that was getting rid of the lying.

This sounds a little cheesy, but to keep myself in line I pretended that at the end of the day, I would have to send a mass email to every person I'd ever met and tell them everything I'd done from the time I woke up to the time I went to bed. What I ate. Who I talked to. What kind of words I used. What I read. How much TV I watched. How long I was on Facebook versus how long I was working. And in my head, all that information would get sent to my husband, my mom, my pastor, the girl who lived in the apartment upstairs who I was currently witnessing to, my ex-friends, my boss, and so forth.

And oh boy, was I ever aware of every activity I did throughout the day.

Now. This exercise can be taken to a dangerous extreme, because ultimately the only opinion that matters is God's. If my sweet, well-meaning Grandmother disagrees with a decision I make, but God agrees with it, then sorry, Grandma. That's just the way things are going to be.

But I had reached a very scary place of duplicity where I knew God saw and disapproved of some choices I was making ... but so long as He was quiet, I could mentally blow off my bad decisions. Talk about scary.

I still have honesty problems sometimes. But I do a lot worse when I allow myself "little" lies. I find the temptation toward bigger ones grows and grows, just like C.S. Lewis was talking about. And then I have to put myself back in the mindset of sending out that scary mass email, of reminding myself that I'm working toward authenticity.

In the above quote, C.S. Lewis says, "That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance." What's a little decision you could make today that will move you closer to Christ?


Stephanie Morrill is a twenty-something living in Overland Park, Kansas with her husband and two kids. Her only talents are reading, writing, and drinking coffee, so career options were somewhat limited. Fortunately, she discovered a passion for young adult novels and has been writing them ever since. Stephanie is the author of The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series and is currently working on other young adult projects. She enjoys encouraging and teaching teen writers and does so on her blog www.GoTeenWriters.com. To connect with Stephanie and read samples of her books, check out www.StephanieMorrillBooks.com.


Monday, October 10, 2011

Start pouring...

One of the best pieces of info I took away with me from the 2011 ACFW Conference this September in St. Louis odd enoughly wasn't craft related (though Kristen Heitzmann's workshop on Deep Point of View in writing was absolutely the best hands-on stuff I'd learned in awhile!) - but rather, spiritual.

This piece of truth burrowed deep in my heart during the middle of Jenny B. Jone's devotional one morning during breakfast. I sat there with a croissant in one hand and a yogurt parfait in the other, but was filled with the musings of the Holy Spirit speaking through her.

Jenny told the story in the Bible of the widow woman who had nothing to her name. No husband, no money, no food. Debtors were coming. She was literally about to shut her doors and allow her and her kids to die because - what choice did she have? She had nothing. She sought out the prophet Elisha, who told her to gather bottles and jars and jugs from all her neighbors and take them into her home. And start pouring.

She could have laughed, she could have mocked and scorned, thinking how useless the scenario would be.Could have moaned and complained and said "hey, couldn't you just give me some bread instead?" But she didn't. She obeyed. She got bottles and jars and jugs, locked herself in her house with her sons as instructed, and started pouring.

The oil didn't stop until every last vessel was filled. She sold the oil, paid her debts, and lived on the rest.

Jenny turned the parable back around on us. On our writing, on our struggles, on our daily lives. Our marriages. Our hopes and dreams. Our goals. Our schoolwork and friendships. When we're at the most bleak, when we truly have NOTHING, God says "I can work with that."

I still get shivers. :)

I'm holding that truth close today. When I have nothing, when I'm empty and poured out and drained and can't go on, God is there, waiting to use my obedience and faith in ways I could never have imagined or acccomplished on my own. All I have to do is start pouring.

Jenny's devotional was also hilarious, because really, the woman can't even say hi without making you giggle (she's the most humorous YA author I know! Check out her books!!) but it was deep. Profound. Touching. Inspirational.

And left me reeling even weeks later.

I hope this simple message touches you today too...

Saturday, October 08, 2011

There is nothing special about me...

For my post here today I've invited my daughter to share her thoughts...

Guest blog by Leslie Goyer

Do you ever think about lightbulbs? They play a significant role in our daily lives, and yet they're such a dependent object. Pick up a lightbulb by itself -- what is it? A glass bulb with some filament in it, designed in such a way as to conduct electricity and produce light.

But what makes the lightbulb really so special? Unless it is plugged in to a consistent energy source, that lightbulb is worthless. You can hang it from the ceiling, but the room will stay dark. You can rub it in your hands and wish for light, but no light will appear. You can even hang it above your head, but regardless of pop media, it won't create an idea!

Without a source of energy, a lightbulb is worthless. But, screw it in and something amazing happens: light radiates out of the lightbulb, affecting the entire area around it! And only with that constant energy source does the light stay lit.

Just like a lightbulb, we as people aren't anything special on our own. It takes the light of the Holy Spirit flowing through us to create beauty.

While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.
(John 9:5)

There is nothing special about me. There is nothing good about Leslie.

Sometimes people look at my life and want to commend me for something. Whether it be for school accomplishment, commitment to Christ, or dedication at work, people sometimes look at my life and say, "Hey, that's cool" or "you're such a nice person," but there is nothing good or nice or special about me.

Anything good or commendable in my life is nothing short of the work that Jesus Christ has done in me. All goodness is just a glimpse of who God is. I can tend to get puffed up about myself, thinking about how awesome I am, but then God uses my brokenness to remind me of who I really am. I'm nothing apart from Him.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
(Galatians 5:22-23)

I challenge you to look at the verse above and see how it applies to your life. Do you believe that you can honestly look at that and say that you have all of the fruit of the Spirit shining in your life? Go through and put your name before each attribute:

(Leslie is love . . . Leslie is Joy . . . Leslie is Peace . . .)

I know that I sure don't measure up -- but the beauty of the matter is that Christ does! Where we fail, He fills. If we stay plugged in to Him, He will shine in our lives and hopefully people will see Him when they look at us.

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
(Matthew 5:14-16)

~~~
About Tricia: Tricia Goyer is the author of thirty books including Songbird Under a German Moon, The Swiss Courier, and the mommy memoir, Blue Like Play Dough. She won Historical Novel of the Year in 2005 and 2006 from ACFW, and was honored with the Writer of the Year award from Mt. Hermon Writer's Conference in 2003. Tricia's book Life Interrupted was a finalist for the Gold Medallion in 2005. In addition to her novels, Tricia writes non-fiction books and magazine articles for publications like MomSense and Thriving Family. Tricia is a regular speaker at conventions and conferences, and has been a workshop presenter at the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International Conventions. She and her family make their home in Little Rock, Arkansas where they are part of the ministry of FamilyLife. www.triciagoyer.com

Thursday, October 06, 2011

God Speaks.

Sometimes I really wish God would just tell me what He wants me to do by attaching a sign to the back of a plane and flying over my city. I don't need a whole paragraph or a dissertation or anything like that. Just a few words would be nice, sometimes. Something like "Ashley, write it!" or "Ashley, don't date him!" would have been nice a few years ago. But that's not what He's done. I haven't even seen a message written amongst the clouds. And in fact, I usually only hear silence.

I grew up in a strong Christian community, and have been to church my whole life, and even went to a Christian school. Often I would hear my friends or acquaintances say things like, "God told me..." or "God spoke to me..." and I felt left out. Because God never spoke to me. I knew of people who actually audibly heard the voice of God.

The president of Compassion International, Wess Stafford, tells of an experience he had when he first became president of the organization. He'd gone antelope hunting and was the only one in the field. There weren't any antelope around, so Wess began thinking and praying. The thought occurred to him that maybe, just maybe by the end of his presidency, Compassion could have 1 million sponsored children. And then all of a sudden a voice said, "That's all?" Wess thought someone snuck up on him because the voice was so clear. But nobody else was around. And then the voice said, "What about the rest of them?" The voice of God. Audibly. (If you want to hear Wess tell the story in his own words, visit the Compassion blog.)

I know God can speak that way, but for me it's never happened. For me, God whispers. And He doesn't whisper out loud...I have to be listening. I have to pay attention. Sometimes it's a Bible verse showing up in a "random" place--I have a verse I've always associated with my writing, and whenever I feel discouraged that verse shows up at a restaurant, a church I'm visiting, in a powerpoint presentation at work. Or sometimes it's a song that plays only when I'm asking for an answer. I don't get an answer--but I get reassurance. And sometimes God whispers through my dreams, and I wake up knowing the way I should go. And often, there's a whisper in my heart, accompanied by an undeniable peace. Once, God even went to great lengths to set me up with a friendship of unbelievable "coincidence" and proportion after I lost one of my best friends.

So yes, I know God speaks today. And I know he speaks audibly...sometimes. As far as I know, though, He hasn't yet rented a bi-plane and pulled a banner through the skies. But He has, and does, whisper to me through circumstances and dreams and other people.

How does God speak to you?

Ashley Mays is the former Editorial Assistant for Brio and Brio & Beyond magazines and currently writes her own fiction for teens. She enjoys rock climbing, people watching in airports, and expanding her shoe collection. Ashley lives with her husband in Colorado. No, they don't ski. Learn more about Ashley on facebook or on her website: http://www.ashley-mays.com/

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Celebrating Beauty

My oldest son is getting a lot of extra hours at the art museum where he works, because of one important painting. La Bella is on display for a short time and they are making a very big deal about it. The opening weekend was loaded with events, some drawing international guests. The museum hired an extra security guard just to keep watch over La Bella, which is displayed alone in a special gallery. Christian even had to buy a new shirt so all security employees would match during opening week.

When he first told me about all the hype, I thought it seemed a bit over the top for one painting, especially when his boss announced that no one could take time off during opening week, meaning that Christian had to miss a family trip.

Then I looked La Bella up online. I learned that this Titian portrait (Sometimes subtitled, The Woman in the Blue Dress or The Beautiful Woman) dated back to the 16th century. As I looked at the sweet-faced young woman, I understand why a museum would plan events, hire extra security, and display it in a separate room. I pictured art students sitting back and taking in every detail of this lovely lady’s gown, face, hands, hair, and accessories. I’ve been to the museum where Christian works twice but I think a third trip might be in order. Seeing La Bella up close would be worth the cost of admission.

How often do we take time to appreciate rare beauty, particularly art that is hundreds of years old, created during a period of history when people may not have had the technology and other advances that we enjoy today but did have the giftedness, discipline, and patience to immortalize a gorgeous young woman on canvas? How amazing to consider the hours that one nameless woman spent standing still in an obviously heavy dress while the painter portrayed the shimmers in the fabric, the positions of her hand, the curls in her hair, and the gentle expression on her face.

Paintings like this just aren’t done anymore. I almost made me wish we weren’t quite so advanced.

When was the last time you took time to really take in something beautiful? How has your relationship with God impacted your appreciation for beauty, whether it’s something created by Him or by a gifted artist?

You might want to look up La Bella online. The woman in the painting couldn’t be more than 19. Picture yourself wearing a dress like hers and standing still while someone painted your picture. Would you consider that a fun way to spend an afternoon?


Girls, God, and the Good Life

 
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