Jasmine Baucham's Blog

October 14, 2010

So, it's been a month since I said goodbye to blogging, but, before I left, I did promise to keep you updated on three things:
When my book was out.When I got another sibling.When I said goodbye to spinsterdom. Two out of three ain't bad. =)

However, the day I saw my book on Vision Forum's website, my author-news was quickly overshadowed by something even more exciting: as I write, my parents are on their way to Georgia to meet the newest addition to the Baucham family (a sister at last!) Safya Caimile! You can read Daddy's account here to hear more about her, and to see her precious picture. I've been a big sister for the past seventeen years (five times over!), but I'm quite excited and quite sobered to have a little sister. My heart's desire is that the Lord would draw her to himself, that he would guide her steps, and that, as she is conformed to the image of his Son, she would be able to stay away from the stereotypes and pressures that would distract her from seeking the Lord above all else. 
This is a happy time!Cousins!My cousin Kyndel just finished up her associate's degree at Le Cordon Bleu, and came down to spend a whole month with us before heading back to Dallas to finish up her Bachelor's. I have had such a precious time with her, from learning how to improvise in the kitchen (I'm a stick-to-the-recipe kind of girl,  but cooking with a chef is aiding my flexibility), to aiming spending time together in God's Word each day, to going downtown to see a play together (Peter Pan!), to laughing... uproariously and constantly. 
I recently took over the booking department for VBM, which has been an interesting and exciting challenge. College continues, though my pace has slowed considerably these days. Tutoring is great fun (The Iliad and the Odyssey are up after loads of fun with Shakespeare), I don't miss blogging a stitch, but I have enjoyed starting to write fiction again, big-sister-ing is ever a blessing (recently read Shepherding a Child's Heart -very inspired), church life stays busy (our annual conference is just around the corner -Paul Washer is coming!), and God remains good to teach and to grow: every day presents a myriad of opportunities to learn the timeless truths of his Word. 
All of this said, I hope that your fall has been blessed as well, and pray that those who do purchase my  book will be encouraged by what they read there! Something I've been reminded of lately, again and again, is that the most important thing people should know about me isn't that I live at home. Foremost, I am a great sinner, and Christ is a great Savior. There is no message as important for any sphere of society to hear than the gospel of Christ, and anything I say that does not stem from this understanding is utterly worthless and harmful. We must ache to be passionate about him, foremost and all-encompassing. We must ache to proclaim the message that transforms hearts, not simply the behavioral modification that turns virtues into idols and whitewashes open graves. 
Before we can be joyful at home, we must be joyful in Christ. Before we can strive to bless our families, we must strive to be satisfied in Him. Wherever the Lord has placed us -wherever he has led us -if our desire is not to submit ourselves wholly and completely to the all-consuming passion that is impossible to compartmentalize (2 Cor. 5:17, Rom. 12:1-2)... we are not walking in righteousness, and we are idolaters. I really hope people walk away from Joyfully at Home (the blog and the book) knowing that my love for Christ is central in all that I do.
Okay, so, as you can see, even though I haven't been blogging, my mind is still moving in ten thousand different directions at once. A friend recently asked me if I ever stop thinking -I'm philosophizing in my dreams. The only difference is that I'm writing my inner-dialogue down in journals instead of online. It's a nice change of pace, and, for now, I wouldn't trade my status quo for anything. 
May we all be as joyful walking the paths that the Lord has ordained!
I'll be back someday when I trade my four little men for a Prince Charming, as promised. We'll see who's still around to hear the news (could be five years from now, could be fifteen...) I'll check in at least twenty years from now either way to let you know if I started a family or if I'm living above my parents' garage, reciting Shakespeare to my canary, taking my Great Dane Atticus on long walks in Rice Village, using all of the goodies in my hopechest, and enjoying my prestigious staff position at one of Houston's amazing museums *cough*
Until engagement or forty, then =), Jasmine 

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Published on October 14, 2010 08:26 • 964 views

September 8, 2010

"Forties Lady Standing by Train, Bon Voyage" PrintSo, those of you who have been reading for a while have probably noticed something different about Joyfully at Home lately...
It's pretty quiet around here. 
I used to blog every day, and it was because I never seemed to run out of things to talk about. I thought in blog posts ("Oh, my goodness! I can't believe that just happened! Say, that's a good way to teach this lesson...") -I talked in blog posts ("So, girls, what do you think about this topic? How can I tackle that on the blog?") -I even dreamt in blog posts ("Someday, I'd like my future family to be like this... I should get on my blog and tell the world about it.") ;-)
And now, well... I think about the American Government test that I am studying for (and being eternally grateful that I didn't opt for that political science major I once considered -big mistake)! I'm thinking about English students (very giddy after my first tutoring sessions -this is going to be fun)! I'm thinking about my book (which is off to the presses as I write this --next month is fast approaching). I'm thinking about my siblings and siblings to come (maybe we'll break the chain of boys around here). I think about the novel or the short story I'm working on (why can't I write like Mildred D. Taylor? I mean, just like her??) And I'm thinking about the Lord, and all that he's been teaching me lately, how he's been using events in my life to draw me closer to him. 
And this blog has crossed my mind intermittently, especially as I've been writing Joyfully at Home that book that will be an expansion of the Ways to Stay Joyful at Home and Joyfully Content series, as well as the thousands of questions we "stay-at-home" daughters are often called upon to answer. I've been thinking that it will be neat to have my words bound in print, set in stone --
And I think that, since they'll be so beautifully bound, perhaps now is the time to give my bow and head off of the stage of blogging (to thunderous applause, ladies, please).

This decision has been brewing for quite awhile -as I turned down certain speaking engagements and interviews and started to realize that I was blogging because I had something to specific say: I wanted to encourage likeminded young women, to let them know that they're not alone -there is a girl out there who knows what it's like to trip over her own feet, run into walls around cute guys, and laugh hysterically at ridiculous inside jokes -she knows what it's like to get those weird questions about why she's still living at home, or why she doesn't date, or why she voted third party in her very first election -she knows what it's like to have a huge vision and huge dreams that are hugely undervalued in this day and age: she "just" wants to serve her family and to love them with all of her heart, and to offer them everything she has to give.

And I've said that, I think, for the past two years. And now that I've written it down in my book, I have this dry-mouthed feeling: perhaps I've said all that I set out to say. I don't want to be Jasmine Baucham, author, speaker, and ringleader of the subversive stay-at-home daughter movement (mwahahahahaha!) --I just want to be Jasmine Baucham, English literature nerd, spinster, and ringleader of those wild and crazy Baucham kids (mwahahahaha!) I'm Jasmine, the girl who has so much to learn, and is looking forward to all of the lessons the Lord still has to teach her... definitely not Jasmine, the girl with all of the answers.

Here's a little secret for you: I am an introvert. No, really. I don't do well with a lot of attention; positive attention gives me hives ("I don't know everything! Stop asking me questions!") and negative attention gives me a rash (people can be cruel, and I can be a pansy). I am looking forward to stepping off of the stage and the platform that blogging has given me and concentrating simply on practicing what I've preached for the past two years and living joyfully at home.

I'm seeing this book as the culmination of my blogging adventure, not the beginning of bigger and better things. Maybe fifteen years from now, when ya'll are all grown up with families of your own, you'll remember the blog you used to read by that girl who wrote that really encouraging book that you bought ten copies of (hint, hint!) --and you'll wonder what happened to her.

That's really all the fame I need.

I don't want to save the world -I can't; but if this blog has given you a glimpse into the life of a girl who is desperately in love with her Savior, and if that has encouraged you in any way... to him be the glory. And as I step away, may he be glorified as all of us continue to serve him out there in the "real world," which is infinitely more important than the blogosphere.

So, adieu, dear readers. This is not my last post. I will make sure to let you know when my book is available! My blog presence may become a bit like my dad's: an earth-shattering revelation here and there. It just seemed wrong to disappear without warning. ;-)

Thank you so much for reading and for commenting, for your emails and for your prayers. I would still love to hear from you -joyfullyhome (at) gmail.com -and, should our paths ever cross in real life, come on up and say hello (I'm way cooler in person than I am on the blog -seriously).

Please remember to seek Christ above all else -to let your love for him and his truth guide you in every decision, and never to be ashamed of the truths of his Word.

Now let the wailing, sackcloth and ashes, and gnashing of teeth commence...

No, really --feel free to shed a tear or two so that I at least know you'll miss me. ;-)

With so much love,
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Published on September 08, 2010 12:48 • 226 views

September 2, 2010

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One of the biggest conversational topics among the young women that I know is preparing for marriage: we want to learn how to cook the best meals, keep the neatest home, create the most inviting knickknacks, and host the best events. That conversation sometimes moves to what's in your hope chest: china, cookbooks, aprons, cooking utensils, linens...
I'm always thinking about homeschooling the best children. I want my kids to be some of the smartest, most global-minded, gospel-centric Christians of their generation, and, oftentimes, when I'm reading a book or listening to a lecture, I've got the future generation in mind. I have a library stocked with philosophy books, a hope chest crammed with classics and overflowing with keepsakes.
I had to laugh at myself, because of the four children I'll start tutoring next Tuesday, one is a middle schooler whose curriculum is something of my own design. We're going to start with the Great Depression. I had her read A Year Down Yonder, then raided my hope chest for the Life magazine I have from the 1938 (my dad brought it back from a little shop in California -it is delightfully ancient, and Gary Cooper's on the cover, although it no longer costs 10 cents), a really neat calendar I bought about 1937 (on every day, there is an invention, a headline, or a neat little fact from 1937), a huge, hardback Time special edition about the 30's (with a brief history and headlines and glossy photographs from those years), and a little booklet with neat facts from 1936. Since the assignment is going to be writing in first person, I want her to know a lot about the time period. 
I was laughing because, when I collected all of this stuff, my mom just had to smile at her pack rat of a daughter: what use could it possibly be? And now that I'm bringing it out for my class, I have to smile.
However, as I'm saving things -curriculum ideas, old books, fraying magazines, ancient comic strips, Puritan classics, and radio dramas -I'm also thinking that the best gifts that I can give my future children won't even fit in my hope chest. 
And not just because it's already chock-full. 
Cultivating a gentle and quiet spirit to follow their father wherever he leads... that's a gift (1 Peter 3:1-6). Cultivating a tender heart towards the lost, and nurturing a love for the brethren... that's a gift (Matthew 22:29). Expanding my knowledge of the Word of God, and seeing the world I live in through the lens of a biblical worldview -truly loving the Lord with my whole mind and realizing that the fear of him is truly the beginning of all knowledge... that's a gift (Proverbs 1:7, Matthew 22:27). 
Serving even when I'm tired is a gift. 
And disciplining my brothers with love is a gift. 
Using my time wisely is a gift. 
As is learning to laugh through life's difficult moments is a treasure. 
The woman I'm becoming right now, day by day, is the same woman who will teach her children in word... and in deed... for the rest of her life. 
And the things I am pouring into myself right now are the same things that are going to come out when my husband needs someone to walk alongside him. 
Everything I have to offer my future family is being stored up as I grow in grace. 
This is not to say that I will stop growing once I'm married or once I start having children -I hope to keep on growing until the day I die. But habits are being formed -character is being shaped -a tone is being set. And those habits will set -that character will be tested -and that tone will characterize me. 
One of the most sobering verses in Proverbs 31 is verse 11:
She does him good and not harm, all the days of her life...
I love to think about that verse in the context of these things I'm storing up. An incomplete collection of Will and Ariel Durant's Western Civilization hardbacks... the heart of an encourager. A flimsy book of British comics from the 1950s, delightfully yellowed... and a habit of trusting in the Lord's sovereignty by trusting the judgment of those in authority over me. A humanities textbook... and a habit of turning to the Lord and turning others to him, in times of joy and in times of trial. A worn copy of Roll of Thunder... and the type of competence and counsel that my husband can safely trust in (Proverbs 31:10). 
A sense of humor. Fierce loyalty. A servant's heart. Never-fail honesty. A tender heart. Resilience, reliability, and resourcefulness. A joyful heart!
Those are things I want to bring into my future family -true enough, they're harder to come by than simply being able to pick them up at a little boutique and slipping them into your hope chest... but they're a lot more valuable than anything you can purchase. 
And you don't have to go out and buy them. You don't have to wait for Prince Charming to use them. You can start right here, and right now. 
How awesome is that?
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Published on September 02, 2010 06:24 • 109 views

August 30, 2010

Yesterday was my brother Judah Benjamin's second birthday.

I love his name -I wanted it for a son of my own someday. It always reminds me of Genesis 44, when Judah intercedes on behalf of his brother Benjamin, in a beautiful foreshadowing of the way that Judah's descendent -Jesus Christ -intercedes on behalf of his chosen ones. 
Our Judah is just plain squishy. His favorite sibling is our brother Trey (17): he trails him around the house, is always eager to crawl into his lap, and wants to do everything Trey's doing. We're trying to get used to him stringing words into sentences, and we're enjoying watching him learn the first part of his catechism and his Bible verses. He sings the doxology beautifully --
And, yes, those little lips do give the best kisses, and that pudgy frame was made for awesome hugs!
I love my brothers -but, really, who could help it? ;-)

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Published on August 30, 2010 03:16 • 271 views

August 26, 2010

My mom helped me clean my room this week.

Not just a changing of the sheets or a vacuuming of the floor or a dusting of the furniture: a cleaning out of drawers, a reorganization of the closet, and bags and bags of clothes to give away, trash to take out, and clutter organized. I am a self-admitted pack rat, but I'm enjoying being able to open my drawers and find what I need without rifling through a stack of old stories and thinking, "I really should get around to cleaning this up."
My clean room is a reflection of a lot of things that have been going on in my life lately -as my first (and, for now, I'm saying only) book nears publication (I'll have more word this fall), as my college studies barrel towards next spring's finish line (American Government CLEP is next -I'll be enrolling for my online classes soon, and am especially looking forward to American Lit. 1 &2), and as I prepare to start teaching four English students in two weeks (three high school students beginning A Word in Season , and one middle school student who's curriculum I am very much enjoying engineering ;-), the pieces of my life are starting to fall together just in time for fall. I've got a good daily schedule working -I'm pleased with the goals I've set -and I'm praying that I'll be able to accomplish them!
This blog may be a bit neglected due to teaching and studying... and a little fiction-writing! God has been doing so much in my life lately -I truly am "busy and blessed" (my standard answer to "How are you?") and am truly looking forward to seeing where these new avenues lead me. 
It can be easy to become spiritually complacent during a busy, scheduled season -but this summer cleaning has coincided with the reminder of a truth that I have (of course) long known, but that I (of course) often neglect to internalize. In the words of Corrie ten Boom's Tante Jans (can you tell I'm researching her life right now? ;-):
How can we bring anything to God? What does he care for our little tricks and trinkets? Dear Jesus, I thank you that we must come with empty hands. I thank You that You have done all -all -on the cross, and that all we need in life or death is to be sure of this. 
Or, in the words of John Newton (whose letters I've enjoyed reading lately):
This is faith: a renouncing of everything we are apt to call our own and relying wholly upon the blood, righteousness and intercession of Jesus." ~John Newton
Galatians 6:14:
But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 
So, in the midst of life's excitement (an excited busyness that I know may soon become a monotonous schedule), God has been pointing me back -again and again, through my times in his Word, through the books I've been reading, and through people I've been encountering -to the beautiful truth of the gospel: I bring nothing to the table when it comes to the Father's matchless love for me -I am wholly dependent on his grace.
A thought that should leave me consumed with gratitude and humility... I know I am not as grateful as I should be, or as humble as I ought to be, but I do so long to live my life in light of the unmerited grace that has been lavished upon me. God's love is not something that I need to earn; in light of the fact that he loved and called me, it is my joy to serve him, and those he has put in my life. 
So, while I'm enjoying my nice, clean room, I'm also enjoying renewed gratefulness for the wholeness I have in Christ Jesus. It's the earnest desire of my heart that this "revelation" of mine brings about further growth in the Lord -too often, I hear these truths and marvel at them for a moment, and then they get pushed to the back of my otherwise-occupied mind. 
Another (slightly random) truth upon which I have been dwelling... our faith is never so tested -our reliance to the Lord never so strengthened -our weakness ever so magnified -as when we are called to wait upon the Lord's perfect timing, and to obey despite the outcome as we watch his sovereign plan unfold. And that's all I have to say about that for now. =)
It has been a lovely summer. And as it begins winding down (can September be so close at hand?), I'm facing this new season with full hands and a full heart -I'm excited to see what the rest of 2010 will bring!
How has your summer been? 
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Published on August 26, 2010 22:01 • 131 views

August 22, 2010

Quite some time ago, I received a devastating email from a reader, and...
I didn't have an answer. 
This young woman wrote me for some shred of advice after discovering that a young man that she'd come to know -and love -quite well over the past few years, who she and her parents had begun to assume was going to be her husband if and when he eventually asked for her hand in marriage... had just told her (one of his best friends) that he was about to begin a relationship with another girl. 
Usually, I'd rattle off some "snap out of it!" advice, but her grief had me paralyzed. For one thing, this was a mature young lady who had developed real feelings, not a schoolgirl crush. I had no idea what I could offer that wouldn't come off sounding slightly Pollyanna-ish.  A quick excerpt:
What is the meaning to all of this? Is there a meaning? A better one? Please, if you know, tell me how to find it. I am so sick of hearing helpless little phrases; that it was to teach me trust, teach me about myself, teach me about guys, teach me to love and let go…whatever. Is that ALL? All this…for just that? I feel as if I have staked my soul on everything, on a promise I believed to be of God's, and found that He snatched it back just like that, and left me with crumbs in exchange for the world. Please, tell me that there is more.
It was definitely one of those moments that I really hated the fact that I had been asked to give advice. I mean, okay, you know what? I don't have all of the answers, girl! And your email made me want to cry and wonder why on earth you'd have to go through such heartache. And the last thing I want to do is tell you that it's your fault, you should have guarded your heart better, or it's your parents' fault or the young man's fault... I know it isn't God's "fault," and I know that, in the words of Corrie ten Boom, "...the experiences of our lives, when we let God use hem, beome the mysterious and perfect preparation for the work He will give us to do" and in the flawless words of the Scriptures, "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers." ~Romans 8:28-29
God is good. 
The other day, I was reading The Hiding Place, getting ready to teach one of my English students about the life of Corrie ten Boom, when I remembered that twenty-three-year-old Corrie had also experienced heartache. 
She met a young man named Karel who seemed to be promising her the moon -who, by all appearances, wanted to spend the rest of his life with her -who devoted his time to long walks with her, long letters with her, and hopeful promises with her... and Corrie, despite the warning from her older brother that Karel would only "marry well," and not into the impoverished ten Boom family, fell in love and built her hopes around this guy. 
Now, I've always said that I can identify with Corrie ten Boom's personality and struggles (her faults if not her strengths), but just so ya'll know, I have never done something like this. Ever. ;-)
Karel did choose someone else, and he came to the ten Booms' to introduce his fiance. Corrie was cordial, but the moment he left, she ran up to her room and threw herself across the bed and cried, knowing that her only love had just walked out of her life. 
And then Father walks in:
...suddenly I was afraid of what Father would say. Afraid he would say, "There'll be someone else soon," and that forever afterward this untruth would lie between us. For in some deep part of me I knew already that there would not -soon or ever -be anyone else. 
The sweet cigar-smell came into the room with Father. And of course he did not say the false, idle words. 
"Corrie," he began instead, "do you know what hurts so very much? It's love. Love is the strongest force in the world, and when it is blocked that means pain. 
"There are two things we can do when this happens. We can kill the love so that it stops hurting. But then of course part of us dies, too. Or, Corrie, we can ask God to open up another route for that love to travel. 
"God loves Karel -even more than you do -and if you ask Him, He will give you His love for this man, a love nothing can prevent, nothing destroy. Whenever we cannot love in the old, human way, Corrie, God can give us his perfect way."
I did not know, as I listened to Father's footsteps winding back down the stairs, that he had given me more than the key to this hard moment. I did not know that he had put into my hands the secret that owuld open far darker rooms than this -places wherer there was not, on a human level, anything to love at all. (The Hiding Place, pg. 44-45) 
And I'm reading this passage, the one I've read a million over the last ten years, and I'm thinking, that's the answer: for minimal crushes, crushing heartache, for dealing with young men who have feelings for you that you cannot reciprocate, for awkwardness around young men in general... to love them the way God loves -to seek their best interest, even if we are not what happens to be in their best interest. To love steadfastly and unconditionally, but in that God-honoring, uplifting way, and not necessarily in that romantic way. To love selflessly. 
God loves you, and has given you the task of bringing him glory and delighting fully in him as he reigns sovereign over your life's journey --the moment that tasks requires a husband, he will send the right one. There will be no guesswork or false hopes or false starts necessary. And part of trusting God's sovereignty in that area is being willing to love -truly love -the young men in our lives, beyond the love we'd lavish on a prospect, and straight onto the love we're to give our brothers and sisters in the Lord (Ephesians 4:25-32)
There will come a day when some of us are blessed to be married to men that we love in that slow-motion, violins, wine, and waltzing sort of way... but even in our marriages, I think the best moments in our lives will be when we show our husbands the unconditional love the Father gives -the kind that goes way beyond a Celine Dion love song and into the realm of true servant-heartedness -submission -and sacrifice. It's the kind of love that isn't always easy -that comes directly from God -that will make the marriage of two grace-saved sinners worthwhile. 
I love that -I truly love that. And my prayer for this young woman and for any other young dealing with these romantic issues that we're all inclined to struggle with every once in a while is that we would strive to love with the love of Christ. 
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Published on August 22, 2010 22:00 • 233 views

August 18, 2010

"Well, nobody likes to be used."
A Lesson from a Chef
I sent those words in a text to my cousin, who -as the youngest graduate of her culinary school (at seventeen, set to graduate this fall) is now hard at work in a local externship. The world of interns and externs is a thankless job: this girl works as a sushi chef six to seven hours a day, six (sometimes seven) days a week, without pay. It's a thankless job, and, Lord bless her, she doesn't complain. But the oldest cousin/mama bear/mother hen/bossy side of me reared her ugly head when my cousin admitted that she was tired one seven-day, eight-hour afternoon: "Well, nobody likes to be used! I'd like to have a conversation with your boss!"
My cousin maturely responded, "I am tired, but I'm really grateful to have this externship -I searched for a long time for someone who would hire a chef under eighteen."Okay, so beyond being a bit molded (I'm supposed to be setting the example here, right?), my cousin's words gave me something to think about: servant-heartedness, in the true sense. 
American Servants
Switching gears here, from the fast-paced world of culinary arts to the spiritually sharpening world of home life, how many of you have ever heard that a woman who wishes to serve her home (especially an unmarried woman, who is usually off doing something else entirely) is just a glorified doormat?
Okay, how many of you have ever felt that way? You know, when your mom asks you to check on the laundry when you're in the middle of a good book -when one of your little siblings needs to tag-along on one of your outings with girlfriends -when the dirty dishes are piling in the sink and you'd rather be in the dining room chatting with company? 
"Doormat" is one of the worst insults that can be hurled in our culture: in the land of the free and the home of the brave, we have been taught that there is no cause higher than to fight for our individual rights. We have to look out for number one. Service is all fine and good as long as we're collecting a paycheck or following our hearts, but as soon as this servant-heartedness stuff begins to infringe on our whims, it's time to read those requesting our service their rights. 
Is that really servant-heartedness, though?
I mean, sure we've been taught to puff out our chests and square our shoulders and refuse to be "doormats," because "nobody likes to be used..." but what is servant-heartedness really?
What is a Servant's Heart?
The best example of servant-heartedness we can find is in the Scripture is (of course) Jesus: 
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. ~Philippians 2:1-11

True servant-heartedness is humility -the kind of humility displayed by the King of Kings, who became lowly for the Bride that he loved and the Father he sought to obey him. 
True servant-heartedness is displayed for us when the one who flung the stars into the heavens washing the feet of his disciples (John 13:1-17). It's the height of love. 
What does this look like for us?
As we serve our family, our church body, and the community around us, we should strive to serve with the same selfless devotion that our Lord served, ever willing to humble ourselves, realizing that Christ humbled himself more than we could ever fathom. We should be willing to do the things we may not want to do in order to serve others -we should be willing to work even when we're a little tired, because we are able to meet a need -we should be willing to serve in solitude, even though we would want thanks.
True-servant-heartedness is being too busy caring for the needs of others to stamp our foots and declare our own rights. 
What a Servant's Heart is Not
Love does not seek its own. 
Those words in 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 are often quoted to support everything but true servant-heartedness, but looking at them in that light helps us understand what love and service is not:It is not done to gain applause. Sometimes, we will serve without thanks or notice, because our aim is to show love and humility, not to gain notice. (Matthew 6:3)It is not done to gain righteousness. Somewhat akin to the last point, we serve because we love the Lord and our brethren, not to gain the love of the Lord or the brethren. (John 14:15)It is not done to gain respect. Perhaps, in a different time and place, true servant-heartedness would not be seen as something to be cured or scoffed at; perhaps, in different time, it will no longer be so. But despite the fact that some may not understand our desire to serve others, we are seeking to bring glory to God, not to gain respect for ourselves.  (Matthew 5:1-13)A servant's heart is also not easy. Although some of us may be more tuned in to the needs of those around us than others, I think all of us sometimes has the tendency to balk at serving at one time or another. We have to fight against the gut reaction to shirk the tasks that need to be done (whether we have been asked to do them, or we simply see that there is a need we can fill). 
True service is also done joyfully, not grudgingly. If I babysit my brothers while my mom runs an errand and bark at them the whole time she's gone, I was a legalist -I obeyed the command, technically, but I missed the humble heart that Jesus Christ exemplified. 
Fighting Cinderella Syndrome

It has never been as easy for a young woman to heave a loud sigh about service as it is in the twenty-first century, where Cinderella Syndrome runs rampant. It is easy to cast our family members as the harsh step-mother and the evil step-sisters when we simply don't feel like serving. It is so easy to imagine ourselves victims when we don't receive the thanks we feel that we deserve. 
It can be so easy to forget that our acts of service aren't for our families -not really -or our bosses -not truly -but for the Lord, who has made the ultimate sacrifice for us. 
This is not to say that there are not truly abused Cinderellas out there: there are. 
But I would wager that most of us can trace our aversion to true servant-heartedness back to selfishness, which, though it is glorified in our culture, runs counter to the meekness that the Christian has been called to. (James 3:15-17)
Embracing True Servant-Heartedness
My dad has worked in many capacities over the years, and has always been willing to serve others as much as he can; more than once, Trey and I have felt that Daddy was perhaps being used by someone who wasn't grateful enough for his time and energy. 
Daddy's response to our concerns has always been a smiling, "What good are you if you can't be used?"
The kind of service that Christ was known for runs counter to our sensibilities: the quest for our own rights and interests has been so deeply ingrained in us. But I have this revolutionary dream of becoming the type of woman who serves, not for any sort of payment or gratitude, but simply for the glory of God and the joy of serving him. I have this dream of onlookers not understanding my devotion: as a sister who is always willing to aid her brothers; as a daughter who is always willing to help her parents; as a friend who is always there for brothers or sisters in Christ, sacrificing her own concerns to serve others and doing so joyfully. 
I want to be a servant -a girl who lays down her rights and whims and puts the interest of others before her own (Philippians 2:3), the one who serves the Body of Christ boldly and unconditionally -
Starting within the context of her home. 
Starting now. 
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Published on August 18, 2010 10:18 • 141 views

August 16, 2010

Happy first birthday to the sweetheart who keeps us smiling, Micah Alexander. 
How cute is he??
He isn't walking yet, but he crawls everywhere, keeping up with his three older brothers pretty well for a little guy. He's full of smiles, giggles, rambunctious screams, and eager cuddles. He gurgles constantly, calls out our names, and tries his best to repeat after us. He's our baby -even Judah (he'll be two next week!) tries his best to take care of his little brother, and Elijah (6) is always eager to make him smile. 
Micah's just yummy -what can I say? His nickname is M&M: I think it's quite fitting. =)
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Published on August 16, 2010 03:38 • 228 views

August 12, 2010

[image error]I fall in love with the window displays at Banana Republic.Really, I do. And I'm not talking that girly, captivated, "Oh, my simply must have those shoes" type of thing. I'm talking the, "Oh, my husband simply must own that outfit!" kind of thing. Fashion-wise, I'm more of an Anthropologie girl (in my dreams), but as far as the opposite sex goes, the key to this girl's heart is argyle -and tweed -polished loafers -and suspenders -old-school vests -and bow-ties -cardigans -and pressed slacks -blue jeans worn with blazers.It's just love.There's no two ways about it.

Does that answer your question? ;-)

So what's on your list?
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Published on August 12, 2010 03:02 • 119 views

August 9, 2010

I decided to be a writer when I was a little girl. 
If you've been reading here for a while, you may have heard the story about my first foray into the realm of literature: the story was about the Holocaust -every character died -even the narrator -it was written in first-person, present tense (the last words being, And the I lie down in the snow and die). I was eight. 
I never liked playing with dolls, never cared for tea parties, and when we played dress-up, I was always the hip journalist living in her New York loft while my cousins had husbands and children. They had on frilly aprons -I had on blue jeans and a mission. And I kept on writing about tragedies. I lost a little of the melodrama (mind you, only a little) between eight and sixteen. I read authors like Harper Lee and Mildred D. Taylor, and my voice and passion as a writer was impacted by their indelible fingerprints: I wanted to write. I was hungry to write. And I was hungry to read great writing. John Steinbeck. Jane Austen. Ray Bradbury. Emily and Charlotte Bronte. George Orwell. William Shakespeare. 
Wordsworth. Yeats. Browning. Longfellow. 
I wanted to be swallowed into the world of literature.
And then there was film. Bright, bold, and exciting -such a delicate art-form that packed such a powerful punch. I wanted to be Steven Spielberg with an afro -the female M. Night Shyamalan -the Christian Peter Jackson (I know: "Peter Jackson? Really, Jasmine?" I thought King Kong was brilliant at the time).
I found out later that I also have this passion for art history and humanities. I love philosophy. I love ethical conundrums. I loved getting that box of books from that sweet lady at my church full of Locke, Hume, Tolstoy, Descartes, Goethe, Smith, Chaucer, Darwin, Bacon, Augustine, Rousseau, Montesquieu, and so many others...

And I love drama! I love Tennessee Williams. I love to read it and I love to act it out. 
And then something really amazing happened: the Lord changed my heart regarding marriage -regarding home life -regarding domesticity...
And I went from being the chick who daydreamed about growing old in a basement full of books with her brilliant novels to hand down to posterity to wanting to be a woman who passed a Christ-exalting legacy down to her children. I went from craving renowned -be it from a Pulitzer Prize or an Oscar or an Oprah appearance (okay, so I dreamed big)-to craving to please the Lord through delighting in his design for the home (which turned out to be an even bigger dream). I went from saying I would never in a million years settle down one day to praying for my future husband almost every day. 
Let me tell you: it was a paradigm shift. 
And I entered a total and complete crisis. 
I mean, think about it, ya'll: I'm this girl who has devoted all of her spare time to trying to be the smartest, most widely-read, most extensively well-written, most articulate female that there is (an impossible goal, I know, but I was working on it)... who now wants nothing more than to be a wife and mother.
I'm going to be honest with you: at that point in my life, I was so anxious to shape myself into that ideal woman that I would have had a book burning and filled my shelves with cookbooks if that's what it took. 
Are you there right now? 
Are you so anxious to embrace "biblical womanhood" that you would take the thing you're most passionate about and watch it go up in flames because the most popular blogger tells you it isn't domestic enough -because you read a book that seemed to imply that your talent was useless if it didn't contribute to your home's decor -because you think that's what's going to attract the kind of man you're looking for?
I was there, and no one had even asked it of me. 
I went to my dad with tears in my eyes, thinking about To Kill a Mockinbird and how I would never read it again if it wasn't feminine enough for me to peruse, and I said, "What do I need to do in order to contribute to this household, Dad? Who do I need to be in order to become the woman God wants me to be?"
My dad didn't give a second thought to it. "I could really use a research assistant."
I had already been doing some work for Daddy, so I was taken aback. Surely when he said "research assistant" he meant "tea-service consultant" or "doily crocheter." 
But... no. Research assistant it was. My dad explained that he needed me to use the gifts the Lord had already given me in order to help him. And my mom explained that by walking alongside her, day in and day out, and by hearkening to her word and example, I would be getting hands-on preparation in managing a home -unless I wanted to, I didn't have to learn the etiquette for high tea in order to be a woman of God. 
I was so relieved, dear reader -you can't imagine how completely relieved I was! 
Around that time, I noticed what would soon become one of my favorite verses in the Bible:
"Next to him Shallum the son of Hallohesh, ruler of half the district of Jerusalem, repaired, he and his daughters." ~Nehemiah 3:12
The verse is so easily missed tucked in with the difficult-to-pronounce names in the third chapter of what is an obscure book of the Bible to some, but I love it: Nehemiah is rallying the Israelites to build this wall -and Shallum has a mission and a vision to obey the Lord through submitting to Nehemiah's authority -and his daughters come alongside him to help him fulfill that vision. 
They're out there working on a wall! It reminds me of the Proverbs 31 woman: "she... makes her arms strong" (Proverbs 31:17) This, to me, is the epitome of biblical femininity: serving where there is a need. Being able to care for your family, to cook their meals (Proverbs 31:15), to take care of their clothing (Proverbs 31:21), to prioritize well (Proverbs 31:19), to take initiative and to be entrepreneurial and creative (Proverbs 31:16)... but, above all else, to love the Lord (Proverbs 31:30) and to walk in his ways (Proverbs 31:26).

Being able to sew a whole wardrobe for her twenty-first century family? Icing on the cake. Guess what? So is being able to recite Mark Anthony's speech from Julius Caesar with stirring conviction (you bet I can!) Being able to set a resplendent table, complete with elegantly folded napkins and heirloom silverware? It's beautiful and inviting -but it's not gospel. And neither is being able to hold a conversation about the War of 1812. Being able to make things that contribute to the joyful atmosphere of your home -or being able to tell stories in a way that brings them to life and excites the listener? Those are wonderful traits. But they aren't as important as displaying the joy of the Lord and working full-heartedly in whatever sphere he's called you.

I love how Titus 2:3-5 talks about older women teaching younger women to love their husbands -their children -to keep their homes. What does your family need? What are the gifts and passions you are going to bring to the table when it comes to marriage? How are you and your husband going to define the vision of your home? Craning your neck around to see what everyone else is doing can be helpful (hello, blogsophere), but it can also be distracting, and the comparison game can sneak in and strip us of the things that make our home unique. The Body of Christ is diverse... and we all have a different role to play (1 Corinthians 12)

Who cares what the latest trend is? What does the Bible say? What do your parents say? What are your gifts? How can you use them?
Dear sisters, don't lose your joy in trying to become the poster-child of biblical womanhood... because there is no poster-child. We emulate Christ, and we strive to obey his commands -we try to ascertain our gifts so that we can use them for Kingdom work, not so we can one-up the sisters around us, not so we can keep up with the latest fads, and not so we can attract the man of our dreams. We try to make the decisions that will glorify Him with our present circumstances... not the ones that will gain us approval from onlookers, be they the most conservative or the most liberal.
Please forgive me if I have ever encouraged you to do otherwise. 
Serve where you are needed -and serve where the Lord has given you gifts. Grow, indeed, where he has called you to grow -but grow in the essentials, and try not to get bogged down with the icing. Pray for your husband, that he will be a man of God -and pray that what attracts him to you most is that you are both desperately in love with your Savior. Pray with confidence that the Lord will send a man who needs you as his suitable helpmeet -and that you can employ your gifts for God's glory within the context of your future home... not within the context of the latest fad. 
Pray that if you need to learn to change a tire, you can get down on your knees and learn. Pray that if you need to roast a chicken, you can do so beautifully. Pray that if you need to edit an essay, you can do so with skill. And pray that if you need to learn to hem a garment, you can find the help you need. Pray to learn what I am still learning: that embracing femininity isn't about reaching a higher plane -it's about being willing to learn and grow in the skills that will be most helpful for your season in life and in the things that will bring glory to God and will bless those around you.
Pray for me, as I pray for you, that we will become the beautiful women God has called you to be. Me, the Jasmine version. You, the Kate, Hannah, Sarah, Anne, or Emma version. Because if we are all walking in lockstep, we're all missing out on something beautiful: the joy of being fearfully and wonderfully made and delighting in the wisdom of our Maker (Psalm 139).

You let the college trend fly by because you claimed the Lord had work for you to do at home -dear sister, if that's the case, stop craning your neck and becoming distracted by every voice and trend but those that would truly be of service in that sphere. I'm not fussing at you -remember, I've been there! Nothing has given me more peace than adopting the, "You know, I'm glad you enjoy ____. I'm not very good at that, and there are other things that demand my attention right now. Maybe someday, I'll learn, but my family needs me in this way, not in that way, nor do I have an interest in that thing. This doesn't make you more of a godly woman than I am {whether that thing is "domestic" or "intellectual"}. It just makes us different. And I'm okay with that. Isn't God creative?" approach. Yes, it's a mouthful, but boy does it take a load off!

Sometimes, I'm tempted to stop writing here, because I realize I'm writing to the most impressionable demographic that there is: it can be so easy for young women to become bogged down by comparing and emulating instead of honestly evaluating and reaping what encouragement they can. However, consider this a reminder to do just that -and feel free to tap me on the shoulder and let me know if I ever begin encouraging you to do otherwise. ;-)
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Published on August 09, 2010 22:39 • 112 views

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