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Virtuous Magazine

Summer styles joys of simplicity Bi-Polar Faith


So You Want to be Happy? BY ERIC L. OWENS

About the Book It is not that Christians do not experience sadness. We do. Christians have every emotion non-Christians have; ultimately we are human. The difference, as expressed in Scripture, is that those in Christ live in a state of happiness, even while experiencing the wide gamut of emotions that are common to all humans. “Be angry and sin not” (Ephesians 4:26) is the state of Christians. Paul and Silas singing and praying in prison after being beaten and falsely imprisoned is the state of Christians (Acts 16:25). Happiness is not the avoidance of pain, suffering, or even death. It is the state of those in Christ, in spite of all those things. – –-- Eric L. Owens

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Contents

9

Departments

17

21

Virtuous: Eats

Virtuous: Lessons

Virtuous: Works

Raw Brownie Bites ................ 5

Bi-Polar...............................7

Living Blessed.................. 19

Virtuous: Beauty

Virtuous: Style

Virtuous: Woman

Have Makeup Will Travel....... 5

Summer Fashions..................9

Nothing To Wear............... 20

Virtuous: Tips

Virtuous: You

Virtuous: Life

Focus........................................6

Feel and Look Amazing....... 15

Lasting Friendships........... 21


Virtuous Magazine

My Virtuous Life

Publisher/Editor-in Chief/ Creative Director Brittany Davis Office Manager Vanessa Owens

Staff Writers Chantelle Swayne Rosa Watson Brittany Davis Andrea Camp

Contributors Lacey Deaver Jennifer Gerhardt Crystal Choate Sherise Johns Vanessa Owens Susan Elliott Ashlyn Newburn

Yay I’m so happy you’re here! Welcome to the first all digital and free July issue of Virtuous Magazine! Lots of people have been asking me how I can offer the magazine for free to everyone and still make any money? The truth is I can’t give it to you for free and make money and right now I’m o.k. with that. I’m alright with that because I believe in Mark 16:15-16, that the gospel can go into all of the world. I believe that girls and women need to see other Christian women doing great things for the Lord. I believe that we don’t have to conform to current media standards of beauty, lifestyle and dress even if that means creating our own media. I believe that everyone has a special talent that can be used to further the kingdom, if they’d only let it shine. For many women that talent is writing empowering and encouraging articles for this magazine and others like it. To those ladies I am eternally grateful. There are countless hours that go into the creation of each issue and I am happy to provide the platform free of charge. All I ask is that you enjoy it and if it helps you in any way share it with your friends, family and co-workers. Share it on social media and on blogs and help as we try to fill up heaven. Thanks so much for taking the time to grow in grace, love and closer to God. May God bless you and bless us all as we live virtuously.

With Love, Visit us online at: www.virtuousmagazine.com

Brittany


Downsize Your Makeup Bag BY ANDREA CAMP

Its summertime and I’m sure that some of you are planning on taking at least one trip! It doesn’t have to be to another country, not even to another state. But you should definitely budget for a weekend trip somewhere to get away for a quick break. I’ll be going to Mexico soon and, I must admit, I’m somewhat anxious over how to look beautiful while having a good time frolicking in the sun and water….lots of water. So I’ve researched some simple beauty tips that will help us plan for our summer travels.

Drink plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated. Vitamin E or Cod Liver Oil tablets will also hydrate your skin. Simple Beauty/Makeup Packing List • If you’re using a carry-on bag, make sure your containers don’t hold more than 3 oz of liquid. You can purchase travelsize containers from Wal-mart, or get trial sizes of your favorite products. • Hair accessories for flying strands of hair are always helpful (hair pins, ponytail holders, etc.)

Hair- It’s important to take care of your hair, just like your skin. Apply a deep moisturizer/conditioner before your trip, and pack plenty of conditioner. If you like to stay in the chlorine or saltwater, apply conditioner to your hair prior to your swim. This will protect your hair cuticle from breaking down. It’s also been said that saltwater is great for curly hair! Lastly, get a product that has UV protection for your hair.

• Shampoo/Conditioner • Travel Soap/Sunscreen- I would recommend a lotion that contains at least an SPF of 30. That way you can kill two birds with one stone: hydration plus protection. • A small makeup bag containing tinted moisturizer, lip gloss, water-proof mascara, baby wipes, and eye shadow.

Face/Skin- If you’re traveling to humid locations, you may not want the heavy feel of foundation or concealer holding you down. Go ahead, take it easy and use a tinted moisturizer with an SPF of 30 or higher. It will provide a natural glow, while protecting your skin from the harmful rays of the sun. While in the Dominican Republic for my cousin’s wedding two years ago, the resort passed out helpful tips regarding sunscreen. You should apply the sunscreen at LEAST 20 minutes before you go outside, and reapply it every 2 hours, regardless of the activity that you’ve been participating in. And depending on where you vacation, the sun may be a bit closer to you. Trust me; I experienced my first sunburn in the Dominican Republic.

• 1 Razor (just in case) • 1 Small bottle of nail polish for any chipping that may occur • Face Wash Regimen Have fun on your trip! Beauty doesn’t have to be overlooked simply because you are traveling. All you have to do is alter your regimen for a simpler, care-free routine. It’s time to relax and have fun; no need to hassle over the small things in life. Bon voyage!

Raw Brownie Bites BY CHANTELLE SWAYNE This is a delicious gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, sugar-free chocolate brownie substitute that you can be proud to serve to friends. Very addictive but absolutely guilt-free!

1. Using a food processor, process the nuts until they are the consistency of nut flour. 2. Add the cacao and sea salt to the walnut flour and pulse to blend well.

For a bit of a twist I like to add 2 tbsp of coffee and 1/2 tsp of cinnamon or shredded coconut and goji berries. For a bit of texture I also like to chop a few walnuts roughly and throw them in the mixture without processing them.

3. Optionally, add the vanilla extract or powder and pulse again to blend well. 4. Add one date at a time to the mixture through the feed tube on the processor. Don’t add too many dates – just enough so the batter resembles cake crumbs, but when pressed between your fingers, it sticks together. The more dates you add, the better it will stick together, but the denser the brownie will be. I prefer them lighter, so I use the smallest amount of dates necessary to get the batter sticking together.

• 2 cups of raw walnuts (or other nuts, I used a mixture of walnut and almond) • 2 1/2 cups of Medjool dates, pitted, (or dried pitted dates, soaked) • 1 cup of raw cacao (you can substitute regular cocoa if you don’t have raw)

5. Empty the batter into a dish (I use a square 8 by 8 inch dish), and press down evenly. Place in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes, and then slice them into cubes with a knife. They are easier to slice when a bit cold. Store in the refrigerator.

• 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract, or 1/8 teaspoon of vanilla bean powder (optional) WWW.VIRTUOUSMAGAZINE.COM

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Focus BY LACEY DEAVER

When you look through a microscope or telescope you usually have to do some adjusting of the lenses before you can see your target clearly. And if you’re using a telescope you can only see so much through the lenses at a time. Say you’re looking at an object in motion; you have to keep your telescope carefully trained on that object the entire time so you don’t lose sight of it.

This is a dangerous mindset to get into. For one thing, how do you know you aren’t good at something until you try it? Skill brings success! Also, just because you know a person who works in one field it doesn’t mean you can’t too. Take into consideration that other people may have been doing this work for years and have much more experience than you do. Remember too that you’re all working together in the Lord for the express purpose of getting yourselves and other people to Heaven. You can gain encouragement and seek advice from people who are doing the same thing as you are.

We’re pretty good at focusing on external things, particularly in the negative sense. But this is to turn our focus towards ourselves, inside ourselves.

So ask yourself this: What are my strengths? You know you have some. Even if you think you only have one good talent, you can still use that for the Lord and His kingdom! After all, God gave you the talents you have, so when you use them to glorify and please Him, think of it as giving back to God the gifts He gave you.

Do you ever feel a lack of motivation? Of course you do, everyone does sooner or later. Sometime you’ll be doing that normal, everyday thing you do and then the question will suddenly pop up, “Why am I doing this?” And then it hits you; you’ve lost your focus. You don’t see a reason to keep doing whatever you’re doing because you don’t have an incentive to continue.

What you focus on in yourself is what others will focus on in you. If you’re always thinking on the positive side and trying to be a shining light to others, by keeping those wholesome thoughts in your mind, other people will realize just how much encouragement they can get by being around you. They can see the joy you radiate.

As Christians, we know that everything we do should be for God’s glory (Col 3:17). If you look at what you’re doing with the mindset that you’ll do your best because it will please God, that’s a great motivator to push you forward. Also, are you focusing on what you can do or on what you can’t do? This is a common problem; ruling out the impossible but forgetting to include the possible. If you only dwell on the unattainable, then you won’t be able to reach for the attainable! Focus on what you have already, on what you know you can accomplish, not on what you lack. Focus on your strengths and making them even stronger. Don’t stew over your weaknesses or fret because you don’t have the same talents as somebody else. Everybody is different with different gifts but that doesn’t make somebody more special or important than anybody else. And when you focus on what other people are accomplishing, are you thinking about what you can do for the kingdom? No, because you think, “I can’t because she already does that too and she’s really good at it. If I try to do that maybe others will think I’m trying to copy her and I’m not as good as she is.”

When you give of yourself, you are actually adding to yourself. Matthew 6:19-20 says to lay up treasures in Heaven, and you can do that by letting God work within you “Both to will and to work for His good pleasure (Phil 2:13).” If Christ is in you, then let Him be seen! Show His love to others by loving them and sharing your time with them. Let people see you care. Focus on building others up in exhortation and encouragement. It will encourage you in turn when you edify someone else. Remember this last thought in closing. What you concentrate on is what you’ll become the best at. You have the power to do so much good! Just keep your focus on God!

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fear, and confusion I felt sitting on my kitchen floor at three am screaming and sobbing into my fist because I didn’t know what to do, where to turn or what had happened to the rational mind of my husband. It says little to capture the hours it took in the doctor’s office of the mental ward of the hospital to convince him that, “No. This wasn’t a trap” and “No. The nurse was not a CIA operative” and “Yes. You do need to be here even if the room is bugged.” Disorder can’t capture what it’s like to see fear and tears in the eyes of the one you love because he thinks that something is wrong with his mind but he doesn’t know that it is for sure.

BIPOLAR BY ASHLYN NEWBURN

I don’t like that word. For a while I hated that word. That word changed my life. “What exactly is Bi-Polar?” If you look Bipolar up in the dictionary you will find phrases like, “mutually repellent forces” or “two poles or polarities”. The very last definition says, “Being characteristic of, or affected with BiPolar disorder.” Right under the Bi-Polar definition (at least in my dictionary) “Bi-Polar Disorder” is defined as, “Any of several psychological disorders of mood characterized by alternating episodes of depression and mania.” Bi-Polar, it looks so unassuming and neat on the page. It is deceptively written in black and white ink just like all of the other definitions which causes it to look common and normal. It should have been typed with red ink or at least surrounded with lots of exclamation marks. It just looks too neat, too simple as if those few adjectives encompass all that there is to it. It reflects nothing of how it ruined our life. “Disorder”….the disorder part I can relate too. Yet is still somehow seems like too weak of a word. It doesn’t aptly describe the demons my husband saw in the night, or the fear that the CIA was after him. It doesn’t capture the despair, WWW.VIRTUOUSMAGAZINE.COM

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The last year has been one of the hardest I have endured by far. I have questioned the value of relationships, I have watched my husband lose his mind, his job and hardest of all his sense of self. I have been angry at everyone and no one at all, for where does the blame lie? Genetics? Stress? Was it the people and situations in our lives or simply the luck of the draw? I have felt every emotion from defeat to blinding rage. Everything I have ever believed in has been tried and tested, even my faith. What did he or I do to deserve what seems to be a never ending torrent of trials and tribulations? But really what did we do? Don’t recall asking for patience or some other spiritual virtue. We were just getting started in life and things were great. Spencer had gotten the job he wanted. All of his hard work had paid off, 18 hour days for over a year, a full time job plus full time school. He had still managed to maintain straight A’s, be in the top four of his class and the top employee at his job. All of our temporary good fortune seemed to come crashing down on our head. What did we do God? Where did we go wrong? Was life just about to become too easy, too normal? The days and months that followed were dark and difficult. My relationship with God became just as unsettled and up and down as my husband’s moods. For ultimately that is where the buck stops. God. I raged, I questioned, I doubted. Hospital bills started piling up. I tried ignoring Him, then I faced Him outraged, scared and broken, shouting my indignant frustration. Spencer lost his dream job. I kneeled and sobbed praying for comfort and direction, begging for the strength to make it through one more day. I was a bi-polar Christian. Everyone prays that when the trials of life come that the Wisdom of Solomon and the patience of Job will rule their thoughts and actions. But I found myself relating more to David. One day feeling secure in God’s love, the next feeling that my enemies of self-pity, self-reliance and selfishness were swarming and drowning me. So it has gone for the past few months. Deeply troubled, I decided to take my two year old son to the park one day. I bundled him up and lead him out of the door. We began walking. He held my hand as we walked along. Up the street a bit we passed a fenced yard. Out of nowhere a dog came charging at us, viciously barking. Jaren jumped and held my hand tighter startled. He started trying to back up not wanting to get closer or go pass the vicious beast. I smiled, reassured him it would be ok. He looked at me skeptically but started moving forward. He kept his eye on the dog as we


walked past the fenced yard and on to the park. After about a half hour later we started back home. As we walked Jaren held my hand and pointed out trees and flowers. When we got to the parking lot of our apartment complex I let his hand go and he ran up the sidewalk to the door of our apartment building obviously glad to be back at home. I stopped and I stared at my son. I felt tears begin to sting my eyes. “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven” Matt. 18:2. Like children….like children… From Jaren’s perspective the events of the last hour had been totally unexpected. Suddenly mommy was changing his diaper and putting him in clothes that made him really hot. But then I opened the door and he walked through it without question and without hesitation. He took my hand ….and started walking. NO idea where we were going. NO idea why we were going….just walking, content to be holding mommies hand, no questions. Then the dog had come charging at him, directly at his eye level barking and snarling. He hadn’t wanted to go forward but mommy had smiled and tugged him forward. So he started walking again, not knowing the reliability or strength of the fence just knowing that mommy wanted him to keep walking. He had kept his eye on the dog but eventually realized that the dog couldn’t touch him. In sight of the park he got excited because he now knew what the purpose of the previous events had been. He had had a great time for a while but then mommy called and it was time to start walking again. No explanation, no guarantees, just holding hands and walking until we came in view of home and he realized the purpose of our second walk. My heart cried, “Lord forgive me!” Like children…. Since that walk I have a lot of time for reflection, honest reflection unclouded by my self-pity. I think bi-polar Christianity is something that we all struggle with. Maybe not to the same level or magnitude, but at some time we all feel persecuted or wonder what is God doing. The very definition of bi-polar describes our fight as Christians, “Mutually repellent forces” and “two poles or polarities.” We are constantly at war with our human natures. Often fear, selfishness, or a desire to be “in the know” takes over when surrender, peace and trust in God should. I was scared and angry because I wasn’t in control. There was nothing I could do and nothing I could point to as the cause of my tribulation. Had I forgotten Gods assurances to be with me? No. Had I forgotten that God loved me? No. But I realized that while I acknowledged God’s promises I had been living with a human back-up insurance plan. When I was pushed into the center of the swirling vortex of life with no “how to deal” manual and nothing to lean on except the promise that God would see me through, I became like a wild animal in a cage while healing. I snapped at my captor not realizing that the temporary pain and discomfort was for my overall health and betterment. I would have done well to remember the words of Paul. “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that 8

neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35, 37-39. Nothing shall separate us unless we become bi-polar Christians allowing our moods, our ups and down, victories and defeats and most deceptive of all our FEELINGS to rule our relationship with God. When the illusion of my security blanket was ripped from me I found myself feeling like I was sinking when I should have realized that my feet were planted firm on the Rock of Ages. My husband is back to normal. Thanks to God’s provision he is employed and with the miracles of modern medicine it’s hard to recall that he ever had an issue. (God is good!) Life will have up-ups and down-downs. The question is do you, do I, believe God? When He says He will give us what we need do I give a Sunday amen with a Monday attitude? God doesn’t need insurance. I was living my life in “trust” with a back-up insurance plan. I encourage you like little children….Take His hand. Walk with Him, try to minimize the questions, hold tighter to His hand as the snarling dogs of this world run at you teeth bared and barking loudly. Life is Bipolar… Hold tight to the hand of the Father who has promised to never leave or forsake you. Stand firm on the Cornerstone, our Lord Jesus Christ. As you walk through the ups and downs of life I pray for you. And know that even in the eye of the storm, He is there out on the water lifting you up when you feel like you’re drowning. For who or what shall separate us from the love of Christ? I will lift up my eyes unto the hills? From whence cometh my help? My help comes from the Lord. Who made heaven and Earth. He will not suffer Thy foot to be moved. He who keeps me will not slumber. Behold he who keeps Israel will neither slumber not sleep. The Lord is thy keeper. The Lord is thy shade upon Thy right hand. The sun shall not smite me by day, Nor the moon by night. The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil, He shall preserve thy soul. The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, even forever more. -Psalm121 *Shout out to our family at 56th and Vine for being the hands and feet of Christ to us during that difficult time. Love you all.

Ashlyn Newburn is a wife of four years and mother of one. She, her husband and her son are currently serving at the Church of Christ in Burlington, Colorado. Ashlyn’s hope and passion is to reach out to the women of her generation and encourage them in thier love for the Lord through both writing and public speaking.

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Two If By Sea

Sail into summer style with bright, bold colors, crisp whites and dramatic dresses essential for going out!

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Vanessa’s Christian Bucket List

Sherise’s Christian Bucket List

1. Travel with husband to gospel meetings

1. Bring souls to Christ

2. Go on a mission trip.

2. Travel overseas along a Bible path

3. Speak on a teen lectureship

3. Live faithfully

4. Write a book for preacher’s wives

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How to Feel (and Look) Amazing! BY CHANTELLE SWAYNE

I recently read an article from the UK stating that a woman on average, by the time she is 45, has been through 61 diets. Does this surprise you?! More to the point, is this something you can relate to? Unfortunately I can relate. By the time I was 14 I had already been through a number of diets. I was a bit on the chubby side growing up and my mother was very health conscious – so we were always trying the latest fad diet in order to keep our weight in check. I can’t even count how many I’ve tried: Optifast shakes, ‘The Soup diet’, the ‘No-Carb’ diet, going hungry and many periods of calorie counting. For years I was a slave to calorie counting… I would count every calorie I put into my mouth… and woe befall me if I went over 1200 calories in that day! I was constantly riding the highs and lows of gaining and losing weight through any means possible. I kept my weight off through constant hunger and deprivation. But… does it have to be this way? Now I look back, there were many things wrong with my previous approach to food. For one, it doesn’t work. Sure, you may lose the pounds initially, but you become a slave to dieting, calorie counting and the scales – when you lose the weight it’s very hard to keep it off. More often than not a few days, weeks, months or years later the weight will creep back on and set you off again on the dieting cycle. Secondly, it has been proven that the more you have dieted, the more it reaks havock with your digestion system - the harder it becomes to digest and breakdown the food you put into your body WWW.VIRTUOUSMAGAZINE.COM

– therefore making it harder and harder to keep the weight off. Not only is it harder to keep the weight off, but more tragically, your health suffers. Depression, poor heart health, gall bladder problems, reduced metabolism and low self esteem all are problems related to yo-yo dieting. I know of people who are suffering now for all the times they went through Jenny Craig or Slimfast. I know of people who are hung-up on whether or not they gain or lose a pound today. Should it be this way? Let’s be honest and ask ourselves these questions: Is this the approach that I, as a Christian woman, should have to my health and the way I eat? Should my weight (or lack thereof) be more important than my health? Should I be concerned with every calorie that goes into my mouth? I am a firm believer that we should care about what we put into our bodies – but it should not become an obsession! I do not believe that God wants that for us. Conventional methods of keeping your weight in check would have us believe that we need to constantly be checking every calorie, or dieting whenever we gain a pound – like I was stuck onto for years. While this may keep our weight in check short-term, this is not healthy for our bodies – or our minds - at all! Your perfect ‘diet’ (or as I prefer to say, ‘lifestyle’) is the one that makes your body feel amazing. The one that makes your body work properly, gives you energy, prevents illnesses, frees you from calorie-counting and ensures you never go hungry. But a lot of us are not very in tune with our bodies and how they react to certain foods, so we often do not understand how what we 15

Photo Credit: Mattox


eat affects our bodies. The wonderful truth is that God has made our bodies in such a way that if we learn to “listen” to our body, it can “tell” us what we really need to be eating. If we feel tired after eating, it’s a sign we’ve had too many carbohydrates. If our stomach is nauseous after eating, it is a sign we could have eaten too much fat, or have a food allergy. God is truly amazing, huh?!

is she says she is never hungry, feels amazing and everyone has started commenting how young she looks! Also this lifestyle is sustainable. I have seen many people make this same realization that food doesn’t have to be complicated – you do not have to go hungry and you do not have to be ruled by your food!

So here is a way you can feel amazing too!

If you have any more questions in regards to this or anything else, or would like some personal guidance, please email me on shonzie.swayne@gmail.com – I would be more than happy to help you and answer your questions! ☺

I no longer think about how much I am eating any more, I never count calories and I never let myself get hungry – all I worry about it what I am eating. I simply eat as naturally as possible. You can’t go wrong if you eat things as natural as they can come - If you can’t pronounce the words on the label or don’t really know how it got to be in the state it is, it’s probably not best to have it in your dayto-day eating! I always give the example that God did not make a cow to give low-fat milk – and we don’t need to mess with the milk or any other food that God made! Fruit, vegetables (especially green), meat, milk, eggs, nuts and seeds – all the foods you could find around a farm or in nature. Avoid processed foods, genetically modified foods, artificial sweeteners/ colors/ preservatives and sugar. Be aware that chemical treating, processing and low-fat diets are fairly new concepts – and with the advance of these things have also come the advance of cancerous diseases and obesity. Also, eat lots of healthy fats. Research has shown that around 2 tbsp (some people will need less, some need more) of good fats (coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, butter, whole milk, cream, animal fat, fish oil, 70%+ dark chocolate, avocado) reduces visceral fat (around your stomach), helps keep you full and reduces sugar cravings. Don’t be afraid of them – your body needs them! Recent research has shown that it is in fact not fat which causes heart disease, but the overuse of omega-6 fats which cause inflammation, arthritis and cancer. This is the reason why fish oil is recommended for arthritis sufferers. Unfortunately, omega-6 fats are the most prominent and recommended in the modern diet (soybean, canola oil, margarine, seed oils, cereals). If these fats are not counteracted with a higher amount of omega 3 fats, they will cause inflammation of the arteries. If you are eating eggs and nuts you are getting sufficient omega 6 and definitely do NOT need to be adding omega 6 canola and seed oils (which are most often rancid) to your cooking! As for exact quantities of food – I never give them. We are all different and need to listen to our own bodies’ needs. Eat until you’re full and stop. I found when I started eating more protein, vegetables and good healthy fats I became fuller more quickly. Eat often – eat within an hour of getting up and then eat every 2.5-4 hours. If something makes you feel unwell or tired within an hour after you eat it – don’t eat it! The most common intolerances are grains and dairy. I recommend going without these both in turn for 2 weeks and taking note of how your energy levels change – most of the time after this experiment people feel so good they just keep going! I typically eat a grain and dairy free diet (except for a “cheat meal” once or twice a week!) as I feel more energetic and have less illness that way. Last of all, to give you all an idea of how this works, my mother held off listening to my advice to go all natural for almost a year – afraid that fat and the lack of calorie restriction would make her fat. In the first week she lost 5 pounds and to date (after nearly 6 months of eating natural) she has lost over 22 pounds! The best thing about it

This book has one goal. It wants to show how you can be a treasured friend to God. You can rise above just being a servant in His house. Your place can be even higher than an obedient child in His family. You can stand beside Him as a cherished and needed friend. All it takes from you is for you to fulfill the promise of your faith.

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THE PERFECT SUMMER SOIREE BY CRYSTAL CHOATE

Are you planning a party, wedding, summer get together? Are your nerves racked from the stress of planning? Planning an event of any size can be stressful and sometimes frightening. Who do I invite? Where? What supplies? Entertainment? How much food? The questions sometimes seem endless, so I’ve put together some helpful party tips that you can use to make your event run smoothly and to let your Christian light shine. To me, planning an event is as much fun as the event itself. Before you start finalizing any arrangements for your event, it’s always a good idea to have a solid sense of what kind of event you want to have and, most important, how much you want it to cost. 1. The first step is to create a Wish List. On a blank sheet of paper write down every idea that you’ve ever had for your event, no matter how far-fetched it may seem. I normally keep a notepad by my bed to write down ideas I get while falling asleep. As your Wish List starts to take shape, be sure to answer the following questions: *When do you want your event to take place? If you can, try to identify two or three dates that will work for your event, especially if you need to coordinate schedules with other people. *Where do you want to hold your event, indoors or outdoors? *How many people do you want to have at your event? *How much do you expect it to cost? *What kind of atmosphere do you want to create? Are you going to have a theme? *How do you expect your guests to dress for the occasion? *What memories do you want to have as you look back on the event a few years from now? Once you’ve gotten all of your ideas down on paper, go back and prioritize everything on your wish list in terms of their

importance to you. For example, if you can only hold your event on a particular date, make sure that date is at the very top of your wish list. Or if it’s important to have a larger event, give a high rank to the number of attendees, and so forth. Sometimes it’s a good idea to take a break and go back to your wish list after sleeping on it overnight. 2. Have plenty of food. Even if you can’t determine the exact number of guests, make sure you have plenty to go around. Estimate a number and double that. You may end up with too much food but then you can let people take plates home, use the opportunity to fix plates for shut-ins or if you wish, consider donating leftover food to homeless shelters or distribution organizations for the needy. If you are planning an outdoor summer event make sure you have plenty of ice and drinks, especially water. Allow enough time for guests to eat leisurely, network or socialize with colleagues or friends and family, and enjoy all presentations or ceremonies, if there are any involved. The food should be healthy, appetizing and visually appealing. 3. Start on time. This is a pet peeve of mine, especially when planning a wedding. Barring an emergency, start within a few minutes of the event time. This shows you respect and value others’ time. 4. Delegate! Delegate! Delegate! Keep a list of different tasks that need to be done and who you have asked to help with each one. Just make sure everything is done the day before the event. When you ask people to help, you are showing them you entrust them with an important event in your life. 5. Be creative/Think outside the Box/Make it your own. Whatever quote you use make it apply to you. Just because you have never seen something done before doesn’t mean you can’t be the first. 6. Be organized/Take Notes. When planning an event, organization is the key to success. Have a checklist, make a binder, download an app or whatever it takes for you to write


down your ideas. Being organized will also reduce the stress of planning. 7. Don’t make “iron-clad” rules. Be flexible. During an event don’t lose your “cool” because someone wants something different. They may want to play a different game than you planned, eat first before games or change the plans during a wedding. Whatever it may be show your flexibility and openness to others plans and ideas and your willingness to be instructed. 8. Always have a Plan B. You may be planning an outdoor event and the weather calls for rain. Make sure you have an alternative plan. 9. Relax, have fun and make sure you mingle. Be sociable. When you relax and mingle with guests you are showing your hospitality and willingness to share what God has given you. You may also consider utilizing your event as an outreach for the Lord. 10. If you have received any gifts, make sure you send thank you cards within one month of the event. It shows your thankfulness, appreciation and gratitude toward the sender’s thoughtfulness. Crystal Choate is the owner of Crystal Clear Coordinating. Her love for planning weddings was discovered when she began organizing ideas for her own wedding in 2002. Crystal and her team can help with Bridal/Baby showers, weddings, events of any size, themed gifts and floral arrangements. Crystal has been a faithful Christian since October 2002. She lives in North Alabama with her husband, Matt and their 4 dogs. For more information please contact Crystal at crystal_clear_coordinating@yahoo. com or visit the facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ CrystalClearCoodinating/

Always, let your Light shine. No matter the event and no matter what happens during the event, it’s a time to let your Christian light shine. It’s a time to show the love of Christ. Keep in mind, Colossians 3:23, “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.”

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bad. Christians are not exempt from bad economic times; we lose jobs, homes and see our retirement accounts grow downward instead of up. But we, through Christ, are able to transcend earthly realities to enjoy the peace and assurance from God that we will be alright. Consider the encouraging words from Heb. 13:5; “Let your conduct be without covetousness, and be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” God knows the circumstances under which we live; He has never failed in His care for His people. As the Psalmist said, “I have been young and now I am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging bread, He is ever merciful, and lends; and his descendants are blessed,” Psalm 37:25-26.

Living A BLESSED LIFE

In the world, value is placed on one’s possessions and so every effort is made to entice us to want more and more. But our most valuable and prized possession is our soul and therefore we must be mindful of the temptation to want more for the sake being impressive. For Christians the wise choice is to concentrate on the good things our Heavenly Father so readily provides. The very air we breathe, the warmth of the sun, cool breezes on hot summer days and most important, the spiritual blessings we have in Christ (Eph. 1:3). Instead of being caught up in worldly pleasures, we must always be pressing toward the goal of Heaven, where we will be with the Lord. Life here is temporary and that old saying is true; “you can’t take it with you”. All the material stuff we accumulate will be left here, no matter how expensive, rare or prized it may be; we will leave it behind. Our view of the material has to be different than that of the world. We should see the material things we have as blessings to be enjoyed, rather than objects to be relied on for our dependence or security. If we stay focused on being faithful to God, we can and will endure even the most difficult times. He has given us His word to guide our lives, to learn Him and know how to live and enjoy His blessings. In his epistle to the saints at Philippi, Paul wrote these words, “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content,” (Phil. 4:11). Are you content with the simple things in life that bring joy to your heart and uplift those around you? Do you remember to thank God for every day you are alive, for having your needs met, for being able to enjoy a walk or spend time with Christian sisters and brothers. These are simple but needful things we too often take for granted.

BY ROSA WATSON

When we consider how blessed we are, do we really enjoy the blessings from God in our daily lives? As Christians, we should always be thankful and give God praise for what we have, weather it is the biggest and brightest or small and unimpressive. It is a blessing either way. We are blessed in ways often overlooked or simply taken for granted. God really is GOOD in every age. Without realizing it, we can be under a lot of undue pressure which can lead to depression. We who are the children of God should not be materialistic, nor should we be so focused on life here. If we allow ourselves to be drawn into materialism, we can become unbalanced and thrown off course. The blessings we could be enjoying will simply not be noticed at all. Instead, we’ll be spending time day dreaming and wishing for things we don’t have. As a result, we open a door which leads to the sin of envy and jealousy.

We come into this world with nothing, yet God blesses us with the means to gain a measure of the material to sustain our physical being. Therefore, it is not wrong to want or to have nice things. However, our things should never consume so much of our time that we neglect the spiritual. Every good and perfect gift comes from our heavenly Father, (James 1:7). Don’t allow the world with all its allurements to rob you of the joy of living a Christ centered and blessed life.

However, we do live in some troubling times and are faced with many uncertainties. Concern for the material can over shadow the spiritual when things seem out of control. Everyone is affected when the economy is good; the same is true when it’s WWW.VIRTUOUSMAGAZINE.COM

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choices.”

Nothing To Wear

BY JENNIFER GERHARDT

You know you’ve said it. Standing in the closet, arms crossed, lips pursed, frustration steaming out your ears, you flick a shirt or two with your index finger. You shift your weight from left to right. You bend down to get a better look at something. Twenty minutes in you glance at your bed, covered in clothes, possible pairings strewn like pizza toppings across the covers. You look again and again—surely there’s something here—but nothing appears. Finally, you stomp out of the closet, throw yourself onto the mattress and sigh, loudly. A hanger poking into your hip, you say the words—perhaps only in your mind, maybe aloud, probably quite loudly so your parent or spouse or roommate will recommend shopping. You say, in your most dramatic voice: “I have nothing to wear.”

Given that today’s woman buys an average of 60 clothing items per year, it’s likely most of us are making lots of poor choices. Last year I tried something a little unorthodox. Frustrated with far too many I-have-nothing-to-wear mornings, I decided to drastically cut the amount of clothes in my closet. Drastically cut. I gave away seven trash bags of clothes and wore exactly four outfits for a period of a year. During that time, I wore what was clean. I had four outfits to choose from and a rule prohibiting me from enlarging my pool. Every morning I came to the closet and every morning the same four outfits smiled back at me. Do you know what surprised me most? I never, not once in 365 days, felt like I had nothing to wear. And yet, I had less in my closet than I have ever had. It’s weird, and it doesn’t make logical sense, but last year I didn’t sit around whining about how nothing worked. The clothes worked because they had to. I didn’t wonder if another outfit would have been better, because the outfit I was wearing was probably the only thing clean. I didn’t hem and haw, questioning whether I should have paired this shirt with a skirt instead of pants, because I didn’t have a skirt. I didn’t think, “I really need to go shopping,” because I couldn’t go shopping. I made do. By the end of the year, I loved my clothes. They felt like a part of me. This single truth, that I could be content with four outfits, was life-changing. In limiting my wardrobe, I had freed myself from the tyranny of second-guesses, doubt, and dissatisfaction.

Those inexperienced in the throes of I-have-nothing-to-wear must certainly be confused by our pain. I imagine someone living in a homeless shelter trying to understand--“So, you’re standing in a closet full of clothes, but… you don’t have any clothes?”

Jesus talks about this kind of simplicity in Matthew. He says, “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.”

What is it about a presented with so not-so-empathetic something?” The options.

I love how He compares us to flowers here. Have you ever seen a flower change its clothes? Never. Every morning the flower wears the same outfit, and every morning its beauty surpasses even Solomon’s—Solomon, the guy with a thousand of everything. Sixty new outfits don’t increase our chances of looking beautiful. One beautiful outfit is all we need.

full closet that frustrates us so? Why, when many options, can we not, in the wise but words of husbands everywhere, “Just pick short answer is this: We have too many

The more options you give yourself the harder it is choose.

He says 300 varieties of salad dressing, for example, make us both less sure of our eventual choice and less likely to make any choice at all.

When you find yourself saying, “I have nothing to wear” the absolute best thing you can do for yourself is to limit your options. But you have to really limit them. You have to make buying something new absolutely off limits. You have to promise yourself that the clothes in your closet are the only clothes you will wear and you have to reduce the number of clothes in your wardrobe. It sounds crazy, but I can tell you from experience, it works.

Sheena Iyengar of Columbia University, also known for her research on choice, confirms Schwartz’s conclusions, arguing that more choice does not benefit the individual. In fact, she says, “My research shows, when you give people ten or more options when they’re making a choice, they make poorer

Solomon, possibly the best dressed man to ever live, said, “I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure.” But looking at his piles of expensive clothes he conceded, “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” I don’t want to be a Solomon. I want to be a flower.

Psychologist Barry Schwartz says, despite what culture tells us that maximizing choice maximizes freedom, “Choice has made us not freer but more paralyzed, not happier but more dissatisfied.”

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friends, and how do we show them we care? Webster defines the word ‘friend’ as “One attached to another by affection or esteem.” While it is certainly possible for a person to have a great multitude of friends and acquaintances, it is more often the case that a person only has a handful of friends. The renowned author William Shakespeare had this to say about friendship, “Words are easy, like the wind; faithful friends are hard to find.” And it is true, faithful friends are hard to find. In fact, when we truly have a good friend, we need to work to keep our friendship strong. A good friendship doesn’t just happen, it’s cultivated. The book of Ruth contains an excellent example of true friendship. Notice Ruth chapter one. The book begins with an account of a famine in the land. The first few verses tell of Elimelech and his family’s desperate move to the land of Moab. While there, Elimelech dies leaving his wife Naomi with two grown sons. The sons search out wives, and soon Naomi’s tragedy is washed by joy as she gains two daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth. The family dwells in Moab for ten years before they suffer another tragedy—the death of Naomi’s two sons Mahlon and Chilion. The women are left alone, and Naomi determines to travel back home, sending her daughters-in-law back to their mothers’ houses. Perhaps two of the most beautiful verses in the entire Bible are recorded in Ruth 1:16:17, “And Ruth said, “Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.” Ruth and Naomi’s relationship was that of true friends. True friends want to spend time together. They want to see good things for each other, and they don’t take each other for granted.

Cultivating Life Long Friends BY SUSAN ELLIOT

Social networks have become an integral part of daily life. People spend an unimaginable amount of time scrolling through page after page of status updates, thoughts for the day and online games. It is obvious that social networking has had its influence on the youngest in our society to the oldest. This influx of technology has allowed people to stay in contact with others in a way that this world has never before seen. Truly, social networking has both its drawbacks and benefits, but no matter which social networking platform a person chooses, they all have one thing in common; a friend’s list. It is amazing to see that some people have amassed hundreds of followers or friends on their sites, and while everyone likes to see their friend list grow, it leaves one to question which friends are true WWW.VIRTUOUSMAGAZINE.COM

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True friendship grows with outreach. It is so easy to pick up a phone and call your friends, or text them. E-mail and standard mail are also great ways to keep in contact. The format you choose to make your connection doesn’t matter. The most important thing is that you let your friends know that you are thinking about them. A quick “hello,” or “how was your day?” can go a long way to keep a friendship strong. Many times friends are separated by distance, and a little call or note can change a person’s entire day. The late A.A. Milne wrote in his book, “Winnie-the-Pooh,” “If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live without you.” That statement truly sums up the relationship of true friends. Make sure that your friends know that you care, pray for them daily (James 5:16) and let them know that you support them in times of struggle, and are their biggest champion in times of success. If you continue to support your friends, and show them that you are there for them, they will be your friend for a lifetime. “We’ll be Friends Forever, won’t we, Pooh?’ asked Piglet. Even longer,’ Pooh answered.” ―A.A. Milne, Winnie-thePooh Photo Credit: Starla Steward Photography


“Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” ~Mark 10:9 Michael and Megan Jenkins September 10, 2011 Chapel Hill church of Christ Chapel Hill, TN.

Steve and Andrea Camp June 9, 2012 Camp Creek Church of Christ Atlanta, GA.

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www.virtuousmagazine.com What Must I do to be saved? Hear God’s word: Romans 10:17 Believe Jesus is the Son of God: Mark 16:15-16 Repent of your sins: Acts 2:38, Acts 17:30 Confess the name of Jesus: Acts 8:36-37 Be baptized for the remission of your sins: John 3:5, Luke 7:30 Stay faithful unto death: Revelation 2:10

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Virtuous Magazine July/Aug 2012