June 30, 2009

Book Review: Stay in the Castle

I have been meaning to review this book for some time now but hadn't gotten around to it till now. My dear friend sent me this little booklet, called "Stay in the Castle." It is a short story - I think only 24 pages and easily read in one sitting. For those of you familiar with "The Princess and the Kiss," this is similar.

The book begins with a true story, about the author and a young 16 year old Mexican girl, whom he encourages to stay pure till marriage and in addition, pure for a Christian man, not just anyone. She is struggling with this, so he tells her a tale of a princess who has lived in the castle all her life. Her father, the King, tells her that someday, a young prince that he has already met and chosen, will come to marry her. She believes him for a while, but she begins to yearn to leave the castle and visit what appears to be the merry, glad village below. Her father warns her against this...

And here I will leave you hanging to find out what happens. :-) Isn't that sweet of me? I enjoyed this little book very much. You can order it HERE for only $2.50. It is the first book on the page (I have not read any of the other books listed there and do not recommend them in providing the link).

June 27, 2009

An Update

I apologize for not posting in a while. I have been busy with life in general! This is a very short post just to let you know about a couple of things:

1. My new graphic design business is now open! I make website/blog headers as well as banners and buttons. Right now I am having a grand opening SALE, 20% off all normal prices including my already-marked-down package deals. The sale goes through July 10th, 2009. Visit if you are interested.

2. And for all you seamstresses out there who like Sense & Sensibility patterns, all S&S e-patterns are 15% off through midnight of July 5th! Click HERE.


June 8, 2009

Next Year's Contest

I figured I would start a poll going now so more people will vote on it. :-) *Update: Poll results are below.*

What should next year's (2010) Maidens of Virtue contest be?
  • Poetry Contest (35.0%, 14 Votes)
  • Essay Contest (35.0%, 14 Votes)
  • Either one! (10.0%, 4 Votes)
  • I don't like writing poetry OR essays (20.0%, 8 Votes)
Total Voters: 40

The Hope Chest Record Book eBook

We have a new product over at Maidens of Virtue - an eBook version of The Hope Chest Record Book! Our runners up in the essay contest all received this as their prize (I hope you all are enjoying it! :-) ).

Anyway, it's now available for sale HERE. It's only $3.00 and includes two files; one to print a full page size and the other to print a half page size book. And with an eBook, you can print as many pages as you need!

Click HERE to buy this book or the original print book!

June 1, 2009

2009 Essay Contest Winners!

I am so excited to announce the winners for this year's essay contest! We received so many wonderful entries as you will see when you read the winners and runners up. I'll post the winners/runners up with the titles of their essays and the actual essays will be posted below. I'll not keep you waiting, so here they are!

(Please remember that these essays are copyrighted by their authors and may not be copied to other sites without permission).

9-13 Category Grand Prize Winner:

Miss Hannah H.

"True Beauty"

1st Runner Up: Miss Robyn G. ~ "What is True Beauty?"
2nd Runner Up: Miss Desiree M. ~ "Beauty That Counts"

14-25 Category Grand Prize Winner:

Miss Emily C.

"A Matter of the Heart"

1st Runner Up: Miss Toria H. ~ "Real Beauty?"
2nd Runner Up: Miss Danielle S. ~ "True Beauty is God's Way"

True Beauty - Grand Prize Winner (9-13)
By Miss Hannah H.

There are two types of beauty. There is the way the world sees beauty and the way God sees beauty.

The magazines tell us that the world looks at you, to see your beauty. It looks at your body, makeup, clothes, and hair. It says you can't be fat and you need to show your body. You can't look old and you have to wear makeup. You also need to color your hair. They even like it when you wear tight clothes, earrings, necklaces, and bracelets.

The Bible tells us that God looks in you, to see your beauty. He looks in your heart and in Matthew 23:27 He warns us you can "outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness." Psalm 129:14-16 tells us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made and we don't have to worry about being fat. We are made by God. 1 Timothy 2:9-10 says, "likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness." Proverbs 14:30 tells us, "A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot."

Galatians 5:22-23 says, "But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control." These things in our heart are what make us beautiful. God wants us to know that. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 13:4-6 "Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth." Joy means to be happy and content. Peace means to be clam. Patience means being able to wait. Kindness means to be nice to other people every day. Goodness means to be good. Faithfulness means being trustworthy to do what you say. Gentleness means to no be harsh, rough or loud. To have self control means to keep your body from doing what it shouldn't. These are all things we need to work on.

It's ok to be not perfect on the outside in your eyes, it's your heart that matters to God.

What is True Beauty? - 1st Runner Up (9-13)
By Miss Robyn G.

What is true beauty? Well, the world’s definition of beauty is not at all like God’s type of beauty! The world seems to think that beauty is looking like the cover of a magazine. 1st Peter 3:3-4 NKJ says: “Do not, let your adornment be merely outward- arranging of the a hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel- rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.” I would much rather NOT look like a star, and have a meek and quiet spirit, than look like a star, and not have a meek and quiet spirit. I have nothing against beauty, but we should ultimately be more concerned about how our heart condition is than what color we should dye our hair this week!
Webster’s 1828 dictionary’s definition of beauty is this: 1. “A beautiful person, the chief dignity or ornament.” 2. “Joy, gladness, order, peace, holiness, purity.”
It doesn’t say, “Beauty is looking like a celebrity,” no, but beauty is a beautiful person or ornament. Did you notice the second definition? Yes, it basically says that, True beauty is: “Joy, gladness, order, peace, holiness, purity.” Now, let’s look at the Merriam Webster 1988 version:
Beauty- “Loveliness.” It, says nothing about Joy, love etc, etc! So, as you can see, the world’s version, and God’s version are clearly two very, very, very different things! Take for instance the Proverbs 31 woman, Proverbs 31: 10 says: “Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies.” The Proverbs 31 woman is truly, a virtuous, wise and loving woman! She may not look like the world’s standard of beauty, but her character is truly a beautiful woman! Proverbs 31:30 says: “Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.” Once again I would rather be that Proverbs 31 woman, whose character is greatly to be praised then a celebrity, who yes, may be pretty, but what about her character? What about her heart condition? What about her attitude? Yes, I would much rather be that Proverbs 31 woman! 1st Samuel 16:7 says: “For man looketh on the out-ward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”
So, we have defined and found out that God does not look on the out-ward appearance, but the heart. However, what are exactly some characteristics of True Beauty? Well, here are just a few:
1. A heart devoted to God.
2. A heart that cares.
3. A heart that loves.
4. A heart that is marked by purity.
5. A heart that serves and many, many more!
Sadly, though in this day and age, most girls are more concerned about their clothing, hair, how they look, etc, etc, and could care less about True Beauty. When one day we stand before the King of Kings, and he asks about True Beauty are you going to be able to say: I served others, I cared, I loved, I am devoted to you, I kept myself pure, etc, etc??? Or, will we fumble and say, “Oh, I bought 5 cases of makeup every week, or I ONLY dyed my hair every Monday.” Really? God, cares more about our hearts and if we have true beauty than if we “ONLY dyed our hair every Monday.” This world really is a lost and hurting nation! So, my challenge to you is this: Try, just try for 1 week, how it is to serve others, love others, care for others, and be devoted to God. And not think so much about how you look. Now I am not suggesting that you go out looking like a raga-muffin, no, not at all! Just try not spending 50 minutes in front of the mirror just to go shopping!
So, let’s try to be more like Jesus and caring more about True Beauty, than looking like the cover of a magazine.

Beauty That Counts - 2nd Runner Up (9-13)
By Miss Desiree M.

True Beauty, what is it? How do you get? Where is it found? How do you see it? What do you need it for? There are so many questions surrounding it. But through this I hope that I will help you find answers.

So what is it? Well for one it counts! Most others think you beauty on the outside, but does that really count? Will people really remember your makeup or your “True Beauty”? It is what God sees and he sees your true beauty and that counts. “... Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). You may put on makeup, perfume, nail polish, jewelry, and make your hair nice and cute and make others think you look pretty. But God does not see that. He sees the INSIDE!! He wants beauty that truly counts! It is the heart that he wants to make beautiful.

“You’re beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the quiet sprit, which is of great worth in God’s sight” (1 Peter 3:4-5). If you looked deep down in your heart what do you see? Discouragement, anger, discontentment, bitterness, lying, fear, sadness, or selfishness. If you see these things inside your heart then go to God’s Word and see how He will help you change that. On the other hand do you have True Beauty: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self control? That is what God see, and to Him all that counts. God’s Word clearly states that we need His help to have True Beauty. Nowhere else can we find True Beauty. But we are around people all the time that have this view that it is the outside that counts. We need to stay close to God’s Word. I have already stated two very clear verses that show what God thinks on this matter. But God truly wants to see it. So I want give you some ideas on how you can have True Beauty. For one ask, God

He is always VERY happy to help. Read good books that will help, they are such a help. You can see how God can use other influences. By seeing how they struggle, we can see how through Christ they have overcome the world, and you can too! Next, work with other young ladies that might be struggling with this problem, then you can strive to encourage each other. This can be not only encouraging, but also fun! Talk with parents; they see things that we need to improve. They can help by showing us how we can improve in a certain quality and encouraging us. I am sure that they and God are happy when they see us striving to please God. There are many more things that can help us, so pray and see how God wants to help you. Then as we strive to be more Christ like, we can truly say (no matter how we look) “I am beautiful”!!

A Matter of the Heart - Grand Prize Winner (14-25)
By Miss Emily C.

Every year People Magazine issues a special edition called “100 Most Beautiful People.” The physical allure of celebrities, actresses, and models is promoted as the epitome of beauty and the ultimate goal for every young girl in America. Yet, the moral decline of America’s youth exemplified in the rise of teenage pregnancy, drug abuse, and eating disorders seems to prove quite the contrary. Since these beautiful people, the “cultural gods”, if you will, have been set up as role models for America’s children, we have seen a generation of young women arise who have not become any more beautiful, but in fact increasingly morally repulsive.

As America moves more towards an image based culture it is perfectly logical that the way one looks makes a difference. In order to become the face to represent America, women tout their charms in beauty competitions such as the Miss America pageant every year with killer television ratings. However, beauty is not a new obsession, if one will recall the Biblical account of Esther. In order to find a new queen, King Xerxes collected the most beautiful women in his kingdom and held an episode of “extreme makeover” in his palace so that these women would look their best for him. People throughout the ages have always been enamored with physical beauty, but the extent of the obsession has become ingrained in some cultures more than others. Usually, the cultures which value beauty the most are the cultures that are highly developed and sophisticated; such as ancient Greece, Rome, and the modern day United States of America and Great Britain, to name a few. These countries have all created a lofty, and often unattainable ideal image and the women of their cultures have suffered greatly for it. Television corroborates this point clearly. From commercial actresses to movie stars it is rare to see an unattractive woman in the bunch. And yet, when one investigates the lives of these women, they are often riddled with immorality and heartache. Yet the culture doesn’t seem to care what is in your heart as long as you look good. Why is this? It is because beauty sells. Smart advertisers know that to catch people’s attention it is advantageous to use a beautiful woman. Because of this, children and young women alike are constantly being assaulted with a Grecian ideal of physical allure. Nevertheless, this ideal beauty does not make its bearer any happier. Models starve themselves to fit into the latest trends, actresses become addicted to plastic surgery, and many young women in America admit to feelings of inadequacy and desperation at not being able to attain this paradigm of loveliness.

So in truth, it seems that though the world’s view of beauty sells, it does not fulfill. The reason for this being that no matter what one’s outward appearance may be, a heart bankrupt of Jesus Christ and His righteousness can never attain true, unfading beauty. The true unfading beauty described in God’s Word does not come from the outside, but from within. Isaiah 61:10 says, “... My soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness...” Thus, beauty begins when a sinner looks to Calvary, where Christ made it possible for everyone to be reconciled to God and to wear the robe of His righteousness. Though it is true that beauty comes from within, it is not self-perpetuating; and the external force is not makeup, surgery or expensive clothes, it is Christ. With His sacrificial death, Christ paved the way to true beauty and true fulfillment in a life led serving Him.

True beauty starts in the heart, but is to be constantly emitted through one’s actions and words to others. One example of this is Jane Austen’s unlikely heroine, Anne Eliot, of Persuasion. Still unmarried at twenty-seven, poor Anne has lost her bloom. Her vain father finds little attractive about her appearance and thus ignores her, turning his attention to his eldest and most attractive daughter, Elizabeth. Anne is not much more than a servant in her own home, yet she bears it all with grace and patience. Instead of going to parties, she stays home and watches her nephew; instead of visiting royalty with her father and sister, Anne chooses to visit a sickly friend. Anne’s selfless attitude in the face of a disagreeable situation endears her to the reader and creates a picture of true beauty to which women may look for guidance and encouragement. Another example of true beauty is the woman described in Proverbs 31. She is described as a positive influence on her husband, a hard worker, an entrepreneur; wise, compassionate, kind, and strong. Note carefully that the woman’s physical stature is not mentioned at all, but her heart attitude, actions, and reputation are. We do not read that this woman is suffering from poor self-image, nor do we read that she is touting her perfect size 0 figure in the gates. Proverbs 31:26 states that “in her tongue is the law of kindness”, and verse 28 says that her family rises up and praises her. Proverbs 31:31 says, “Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates”. She is a clear representation of the principle set forth by Christ in Luke 6:45 which states, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good... for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.” The beauty of the Proverbs 31 woman is manifest in her heart, and then demonstrated through her words, actions, and reputation.

It is clear to see that God’s idea of true beauty is far different from the world’s standard. People magazine’s “100 Most Beautiful People” may be attractive to the eye, but let us leave true beauty for God to determine.

Real Beauty? - 1st Runner Up (14-25)
By Miss Toria H.

Her complexion was smooth and creamy, and her eyes were vibrant with color.

Long tresses of silky hair graced her head and formed ringlets around her fair face. Her cheeks had a healthy blush to them, but no blemish was upon her. Rosy lips and pearl white teeth graced her sweet mouth, while her hands were soft and white and her slim figure glided softly on dainty feet…

Every girl dreams of possessing perfect qualities. No girl wishes to have blemishes, red, chapped hands, or frizzy hair. We all get upset at the appearance of a pimple, and many wish our eyes were brown instead of blue.

The mirror is a girl’s best friend, along with her cover-stick, of course.

You see, every girl wants to be beautiful, lovely, and stunning, but the fact of life is that very few are the perfect image of beauty…or are they?

You see, the image of beauty has been corrupted in this world we live in.

According to the world, you have to “fit in” to be beautiful by wearing the hottest name-brand clothing, styling your hair the way the movie stars do, and acting like the most popular girls. If you don’t bend to the trends, you’re out of the “in” group...and out of beauty. Beauty to them is twig figures, painted faces, blackened eyelashes, and clothing that pushes the comfort zones. But is this real beauty? Or is it something else?

Unfortunately, the world entraps many a girl looking to be beautiful.

The world’s girls practically feel naked without makeup…yet they feel no shame when wearing low-cut shirts. But what about God’s girls? Can God’s girls be really beautiful compared to the world’s high…er, “low” standards? Let’s take a look!

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing for gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful.” -1 Peter 3:3-5, NIV

I think the above verses speak plainly by themselves. If you’re God’s girl, your beauty shouldn’t come from the outside. In other words, people shouldn’t be attracted to your appearance, but rather to your devotion to God. God doesn’t want your eyes to be blue instead of brown…He made them that way! He doesn’t care if your clothes aren’t up to the world’s standards; rather, He cares about your inner self.

“The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” -1 Samuel 16:7b, NIV

Again, it’s clear that our Master doesn’t look at the outward appearance. Beauty doesn’t come from the outside in His Mind like the world thinks it does. So, if we’re God’s girls rather than the world’s, why are we worried about being beautiful? I think it’s fine to fix up our hair, coordinate our skirts with our shirts, and maybe don a necklace, but we shouldn’t believe that’s where our beauty is coming from. Instead of focusing on being beautiful on the outside, we should be more concerned about our beauty on the inside, for this is where real beauty comes from!

We need to decide who we want to please, whose attention we want to draw to us, and who we want to accept us. Who do you think is more important to please? Would you rather live your life for the world in order to be called beautiful for a little while, or would you rather live your life for God in order to be called beautiful forever?

“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” –Proverbs 31:30, NIV

We won’t always have a smooth and creamy complexion, or eyes that are vibrant with color. Our hair won’t always be silky and curly, and our cheeks won’t always have a healthy blush. We won’t always have rosy lips and pearl white teeth, or white, soft hands. We won’t always have a slim figure and dainty feet. We may never be perfectly beautiful without blemishes on the outside, but we can definitely work towards perfection on the inside. After all, the inside is where true beauty… real beauty, comes from.

True Beauty Is God's Way - 2nd Runner Up (14-25)
By Miss Danielle S.

“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain.” (Proverbs 31:30, ESV)

What is charm?

“Charm is the power of pleasing and attracting, as through personality or beauty.” (Webster’s American Family Dictionary)

Charm is not necessarily a natural thing; it can be created on purpose.

Some people often put on a front of charm around particular people who they want to please and attract. They do this because they realize the person will not be pleased by their true character. If a girl has not taken the time to develop an upright and beautiful character and if she wants to be liked and admired, she must deceive.

Charm often deceives those who are attracted by it, as the charmer intends.

Sometimes this happens because the girl isn’t around them often, and they do not have the opportunity to watch her carefully. Someone might also be deceived because they are also shallow and foolish, looking only at the outward manners and not the inward character.

Unfortunately, charm will sometimes also deceive the charmer into forgetting the ugly character that lies behind the front. She might become so influenced by the complements and remarks of those who see her false charm and believe that is what she is really like on the inside.

What is beauty?

“Beauty is the quality present in a person that gives intense aesthetic pleasure or deep satisfaction to mind or senses.” (Webster’s American Family Dictionary)

But beauty which is merely on the surface is vain—it is futile, it doesn’t give deep satisfaction to the mind or senses, it has no real value, and it is unsuccessful in its goal of giving intense pleasure, for two reasons.

1) Outward beauty fades. No one has found the fountain of youth, and it isn’t likely that anyone will. False beauty can deceive—but not forever.

“For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes.” (James 1:11, ESV)

2) Outward beauty is usually not proportionate or seemly. True beauty is apt, it fits the person and the occasion and creates a beauty out of that seemliness. False beauty tends to be immoderate and overdone.

An example of this can be seen in Shakespeare’s play, King Lear. This king had three daughters, and he asked them how much they loved him. King Lear’s two oldest daughters were prideful and had no true beauty. They answered in exaggerated words, saying all their happiness depended on him, nothing gave them more joy than being with him…but his third daughter said she loved him according to her duty—no more, no less. This reply outraged him, but the king eventually discovered her sincere love for him after the other two daughters deserted him.

On the other hand, true beauty does not need to be exaggerated to be appreciated. A person with true beauty has no need to put up a false front, their character shines forth for all to see and admire.

The woman of Proverbs 31 simply did her work, she did it with all her heart and that was enough.

She wasn’t too concerned with the latest hairstyles to plant a vineyard for her family, “…with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard,” (vs. 16b).

She did not mind that she might have dark circles under her eyes after being awake during the night, “Her lamp does not go out at night,” (vs.18b).

While many women get manicures and nail polish, this woman didn’t hesitate to use her hands for rough work, “She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands,” (vs. 13).

Instead of going on diets and exercising so she would look good at the beach, this woman “dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong,” (vs. 17) so she can work hard and not become tired.

She is concerned about all those around her, and is not self-centered.

Proverbs doesn’t say she made sure to have “me-time” every week, or every day. She does her husband good, all the days of her life, and wants to make sure his character is respected in the town. She provides food for her own household, including her servants. She is worried about the poor in her town, and shares some of her hard-earned fruits with the needy.

This is true beauty because it is the beauty which God intended. The world and Satan have created a “pseudo-beauty” that they want everyone to have. Their beauty is self-centered, and unseemly.

True beauty is beautiful because it is God’s way, and for us to accept the world’s standard of beauty would be to reject God’s plan for human beings.

“A woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” (Proverbs 31:30)

I would like to thank the following companies for their generous contributions to the grand prizes:
Please comment and congratulate the winners and runners up on their wonderful work! Or, if you ARE a winner/runner up, you can comment with wild exclamations of delight.... :-)

See you all for next year's contest.... whatever that may be!