A Girl of Wisdom builds her character!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI marvelled at the sight before my eyes of what is in my opinion, one of the most inspiring modern architectural buildings in the world. It had always been a dream of mine to see the Eiffel Tower in Paris and here I was – gazing up to the very top of the tower. It’s been standing in the centre of Paris for over 100 years and building it was no easy feat. Each part had to be carefully considered with regards to the laying of its foundation and the materials to use, all to make sure that this magnificent structure is still standing today.

 In many ways, the architectural building process that occurs when building monuments like the Eiffel Tower is similar to the process of building yourself. In fact, in the book of Proverbs building character is likened to building a house.

“A wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.”

Proverbs 14:1 (NLT)

And just like the world of architecture, building you takes time, effort and good decisions. Who you are on the inside overflows into everything that you do. It’s called character. This is all the qualities that make up who you are. These qualities can either be positive or negative and form the foundation of who you are. Now in buildings, foundations can be solidly or shakily built. Simply look at the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy! The foundation of this building was poorly laid and although it first stood upright, it wasn’t long until cracks started to appear and the tower began to tilt.

We live in a world today where a lot of emphasis is placed on what we look like on the outside, from clothes to make up to accessories and hair. Now good grooming is important, BUT first and foremost is character. It is your foundation that will either cause you to stand strong and tall like the Eiffel Tower or cracked and falling like the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

As it says in Proverbs 14:1, a wise woman BUILDS her house, that is, herself, her family, her friends, her relationship with God, in fact, everything about you is “your house!” So how do you and I build? Stay tuned for some thoughts in Part 2!

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A Girl of Wisdom desires to make a difference (continued!)

300_21892054715_6421_nRead the following slowly. Let these facts from the United Nations website sink into your mind and heart…

  • Half the world’s population live on LESS THAN TWO DOLLARS per day…
  • Almost 16,000 children die EACH DAY due to poverty- that’s 1 CHILD EVERY FIVE SECONDS…
  • Nearly a BILLION people entered the Year 2000 UNABLE TO READ OR SIGN THEIR NAME…
  • There are approximately 2.2 billion children in the world. 1 BILLION do not have access to SHELTER, CLEAN WATER and HEALTH CARE…
  • 121 MILLION children do not receive EDUCATION…
  • 1.6 billion people – a QUARTER OF HUMANITY – live without ELECTRICITY…

Unbelievable, hey?

To think that there is a girl your age who is starving to death, as you skip your breakfast because you don’t feel hungry or as you throw away the sandwich your mum made you for lunch because you bought something from the school shop instead.

To think that there is a classroom in Uganda filled with 90 students sitting on a dirt floor without any pens or paper, trying to learn basic knowledge, as you groan in despair when you receive your next project.

To think that every day, young girls are sold into abusive slavery, as you worry about what clothes you are going to wear or complain about having to clean your room. It certainly puts things into perspective, doesn’t it? It’s even a bit scary to step out of your comfort zone and put yourself in someone else’s shoes, isn’t it?

The biggest question you may be thinking is, “But what can I do that could really make a difference?” After all, the problems in this world are overwhelming. My response to you, beautiful girl, is, “Take small steps at a time. One act of kindness at a time. One person at a time. It all adds up over a lifetime.”

  • Get together with some friends and together, sponsor a child in a developing country.
  • Organise a fundraising project to raise money for a charity that touches your heart. It could be a charity for children with cancer, refugee students, families of those in prison… there is a page at the end of this book that lists well known international charities.
  • Clean out your wardrobe and pull out all the clothes that are too small for you or you don’t like to wear anymore. Wash them, iron them, fold them and donate them to a charity for homeless people.
  • Over the next two months, buy one or two grocery items each week (packet of pasta, bottle of pasta sauce, tin of soup, box of tea bags etc.). At the end of the two months, you’ll have a bag of groceries to give to a charity group or church group that helps poor people in your community.
  • Do a bit of research- find out what community groups actively help those in need in your town or city and get involved!

Finally, make sure that your parents or another adult is aware of what you are wanting to do. Discuss your ideas with them, listen to their advice and don’t do anything that they do not agree with. So, my fellow Girl of Wisdom, are you ready to change the world… one step at a time… one person at a time?

 “How wonderful it is that nobody needs to wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

(Anne Frank, Writer.)

A Girl of Wisdom desires to make a difference…

195868_5143069031_3050_n“She’s quick to assist anyone in need and reaches out to help the poor.”

Proverbs 31:20

 I have a friend named Deborah. She is much younger than me (I was born in 1981 and she was born in 1995- you do the maths!). She loves to draw, sing and play soccer. When asked what she would like to be when she grows up, Deborah will declare that she wants to be a doctor. How amazing is that?? In August 2007, I boarded a plane and travelled to where she lives. I got to meet her for the first time.

 As Deborah walked towards me, tears began to roll down my cheeks. When she finally reached me, she knelt down at my feet. The translator explained that this was a cultural gesture meaning, “I owe you my life.” Deborah then stood up again and we simply looked into each other’s eyes for a long moment. I then received the biggest hug of my life!

Deborah has a mum, dad and seven siblings. And they all live in a mud hut no bigger than a little camping tent. And yet, Deborah is just like you and me. She likes music and sport. She argues with her brothers… She wants to be a doctor.

You see, what I didn’t tell you at the beginning was that Deborah lives in Uganda, Africa. Uganda is a country filled with poverty, injustice and suffering that is beyond our comprehension. My family sponsors Deborah through a humanitarian organisation. Each month, my husband and I pay a certain amount of money and this ensures that Deborah gets to go to school, has three meals a day, receives medical attention if she gets sick and provides her family with practical help.

I hope this final pearl of wisdom touches your heart in a powerful way. If it does, your life will never be the same again. A Girl of Wisdom desires to make a difference. Not just within her family, not just amongst her friends, not just within school. She is a beautiful girl, filled with compassion, who wants to help the world.

In our next blog post, we conclude this special blog feature by showing you how possible it is to make a difference in this world! As 2013 draws to an end and we get ready to enter 2014, let’s decide that the new year ahead will be less about ourselves and more about others.

A Girl of Wisdom plans acts of kindness (continued!)

daisiesSo, what do “acts of kindness” look like? Is it all about money and buying things for people? NO! That’s just one way. Actively planning ways in which you can express kindness to somebody else doesn’t have to be only based on spending money. It can be based on giving someone your time, hard work and talents. Check out these ideas…

  • Maybe you have noticed that your parents are very tired this week. Without being asked, plan to set the table before dinner is ready. Or perhaps you could find out which day the rubbish collection takes place and the night before, take the rubbish bins out. A few minutes of your time could make all the difference to your parents’ week!
  • You could be really good at a subject in school or university, yet you know one of your friends is having a tough time understanding the assignment. Plan to set aside a few hours of your time one afternoon or on the weekend and offer to help her. Bring some chocolate (good for the brain!) and turn it into some fun too! Since when does learning and studying have to be boring?
  • Maybe you have other talents that could be used to plan an act of kindness… You could be great at baking cookies and cakes, fantastic at doing hair and make-up, amazing at writing letters or using computers…
  • How about the elderly couple that live down the road? Imagine the difference you would make in their lives if you offered to visit them once a week, once a fortnight or once a month. You could give some of your time to help them clean up their kitchen, hang out some laundry or simply, chat with them and give them some refreshing company.
  • Get together with some other Girls of Wisdom and plan a surprise party for one of your friends who is feeling sad. It doesn’t have to be her birthday- just throw the party because you love her and want to cheer her up!

With a little thoughtful planning, creativity and imagination, your kindness could be the very act that brightens up someone’s day, making them feel valued and giving them hope. A Girl of Wisdom really is a great girl to have around!

A Girl of Wisdom is generous (continued!)

save-moneyI firmly believe that a Girl of Wisdom is wise with her money. Even as a teenager or young woman, she knows how to budget and how to save for the future. After all, how can you be generous if you have no wisdom in looking after your own money?

I encourage you to start actively deciding how you will spend your money. If you don’t already have a budget, make one! Use the budget activity in this chapter to help you. It’s really easy! Here are some simple steps-

  • Add up how much money you earn each week (pocket money, part-time job, chores, babysitting etc)
  • Add up how much you spend each week, which is not paid for by your parents or others, but comes out of the money you earn (food from the school shop, mobile phone credit, going out with friends, make-up, clothes etc.)
  • Your budget will quickly reveal how much you can really spend each week- you may need to adjust how much you go out or find cheaper ways of having fun!
  • Now for two challenges… in your budget, include money especially for generosity and saving for the future.
  • Challenge 1: Put aside 10% of your weekly money (for example, if you earn $50 in a week, put aside $5). This is to be spent on someone else for no reason… a little gift, buying them some food at school, getting them a card or just giving them the actual money if they need it!
  • Challenge 2: Save $1 per day ($7 per week) and put it into a separate savings account that yields high interest and that is hard to access. Get a parent, older sibling or another adult to help you do this if you are not sure of the different bank accounts especially designed for saving money. AND DO NOT TOUCH IT EVER!! Let it grow and by the time you finish school, you will have a great sum of cash to help towards buying a car, going away on a trip or another major purchase.

I once heard a great statement that I have never forgotten. A person, talking about money and being generous, stated, “Your money may leave your hand, but it will never leave your life.”

Think about that for a moment. When you choose to be generous, the actual cash may come out of your wallet and leave your hand, but the joy of knowing you have made a difference in somebody else’s life is worth more than any amount of cash. And what you sow, you shall reap- what goes around, eventually comes around. And nobody can take that away from you.

A Girl of Wisdom is generous!

11483046-woman-giving-her-friend-a-gift“The world of the generous gets larger and larger; the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller. The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped.”

Proverbs 11:24 & 25 (MSG)

I remember a time many years ago (before getting married and having a baby) when I was shopping with one of my friends and found myself wishing, “If only I had more money….” There were so many cool clothes, shoes, bags and make-up products surrounding me, yet limited cash in my wallet! On my way home, I found myself thinking about all the things that I didn’t have and to be quite honest, I started feeling sorry for myself!

Later on that evening, I remembered a conversation I’d had with a friend who was really struggling financially. A series of unfortunate situations had left her without much money and she was finding it hard to pay for necessary things, like food and bills- forget about clothes, shoes, bags and make-up products! I suddenly felt very grateful for what I did have and immediately, I started thinking of ways that I could help my friend get through this tough time.

TV ads, magazines and the internet send us messages that what we currently have is not good enough. There is always the latest iPhone, iPad and iPod that you must have. As soon as you purchase the latest brand of clothing, it becomes out of fashion and another brand replaces it.

You see, when you are feeling dissatisfied with what you have and you focus on all the things you wish you had, you don’t think about the needs of others. A discontented person who doesn’t realise how fortunate they actually are will never be able to generously help someone else in need. They become stingy and tight-fisted with money. And when they do give money to someone, it’s with an expectation that it is paid back.

However, when you are genuinely grateful for what you do have (and this doesn’t mean that you still can’t have a wish list of things you are wanting!) it enables you to become outward focused and generous. Your hand doesn’t cling so tightly to every dollar anymore. You freely pay for something for another person, without expecting them to pay it back.

Becoming a generous person is, once again, a choice you need to make. Start small. The next time you go to the movies with a friend and you get to the ticket counter, surprise your friend by paying for her ticket too. Or maybe pay for both of your popcorn and drinks. The next time you buy yourself a pretty pair of earrings, buy another pair and give it to a friend as a gift for “no reason.” Why should gifts require a reason? Why limit gifts to birthdays, Christmas, weddings and special occasions?

And you know what? I really believe in the old saying, “treat others the way you would like to be treated.” The moment you start being generous, you will notice others being generous towards you. Not that you choose to be generous in order to get things in return, but it will be a natural result of you desiring to be a giver rather than a receiver.

In our next blog post, we will talk about practical tips on making the most of your money!

A Girl of Wisdom speaks up for injustice (continued!)

compassionI believe with all my heart that a Girl of Wisdom is not self-centred and unaware of how others are being treated. Girls who are wise see beyond themselves and actively pay attention to what is happening to others around them. And when they see something happening that is unfair and not right, they confidently and calmly make a stand for truth and justice.

I encourage you to pick a day this coming week. Spend one whole day practising the skill of “seeing people.” Look at the faces of others who pass you by. Do they look happy or sad? Are they alone? What type of day do you think they are having?

Listen to the conversations around you. What is being said? Do you think it’s right, wrong, unkind, true, false, friendly or mean? You will be amazed at the things you see and hear that you have never seen or heard before. You will be surprised at the amount of things that go on around you that are unfair.

Once you begin to notice the people and conversations around you, the next step is to stand up for the injustice that you see. As a high school student, it may be as simple as smiling at a girl who you know doesn’t have any friends. Maybe you could even sit next to her. For those of us who are mums and professionals in the workplace- how about telling other women that you don’t want to be a part of listening to rumours when they begin to gossip?

So beautiful girl, are you ready to accept this little pearl of wisdom? It’s a hard choice to be compassionate because it takes courage. Because when you feel compassion, you must act. And sometimes, it may mean taking a risk and turning away from the crowd. I know you are brave enough to live this way!

Girls of Wisdom Feature- Pearls of Truth on Making a Difference in your World!

compassionDo you know what the word “compassion” means? It’s not exactly a word that is used all the time like “shopping,” “homework,” “mobile” and “internet.” And showing compassion towards someone may not be as easy as going shopping with your friends, doing a science assignment, sending a text message or doing a search on Google!

But you know what? If you are a girl who chooses to develop a compassionate heart while you are still young, you will certainly be steps closer to creating a bright future for not only yourself, but for countless lives around you.

Compassion is a feeling of sorrow or pity for someone who is suffering. It’s a similar word to sympathy, which is sharing someone else’s pain and trouble as if it were your own. But I think compassion is more than feeling sorry for another person. Compassion is looking beyond yourself, noticing others around you, feeling someone else’s pain and then choosing to do something about it.

Over the next few months, we will be posting blogs about “making a difference in your world.” We can’t wait to share about speaking up for injustice, being generous, planning acts of kindness and desiring to make a difference. And that’s what being a Girl of Wisdom is all about!

The sweetness of friendship- insights by guest blogger Sarah Derham.

Monday 22nd October 2012

After returning from an interstate trip to see one of my best friends, I was hit once again with the impact of how much her friendship means to me. I left her feeling refreshed, challenged, energized. Our time together was so good for my soul.

With five daughters between us and the craziness that this brings, the two of us were still able to grab a moment to sit together. On a warm Queensland afternoon, with a cool drink in hand, we had time to have a conversation.

Think of one of those deep, after-dinner chats with close friends where time stands still. Think of an impromptu conversation you’ve had with a friend where they leave you feeling somehow illuminated.  That’s the kind of conversation we had.

What I love about this friend is that she gets me, we laugh at similar things (even if no one else does), she loves my kids and regardless of the time apart we can pick up where we left off. She challenges me on areas needing attention and asks the hard questions. Whatever is said I know her motive is to help me become a better person as she speaks from a place of fondness and love.

Despite the distance, the passage of time and significant changes like marriages, kids and work, our friendship has continued to grow.  Why is that?  It’s because we both value the friendship.  We are motivated by love and as we have grown and matured we have continued to invest in it because we esteem it with precious value.

Proverbs 27:9 says,
“Just as lotions and fragrance give sensual delight,
 a sweet friendship refreshes the soul.”

As the feeling of a cool, fragrant cream being rubbed into the skin or freshening up with the smell of your favourite perfume is good for the body, so sweet friendships in life are good for the soul.

A Girl of Wisdom understands the importance of friendship. She knows how to be a good friend and places value on the special people in her world. She understands that the secret to a good friendship is not just that it is valuable, but it must be motivated at all times by love, and nothing else.

How could you show a friend that you value their friendship today?

Sarah Derham is a wife, mum of three gorgeous girls and a nurse. Living in Melbourne, Australia, she has a passion to see women discover and walk in their God given identity.

The power of the tongue- insights from guest blogger Gilly Williamson

Tuesday 11th September 2012
Recently, I have been thinking about criticism. We can all fall into that trap of speaking negatively about others so easily. I was on holidays, hearing some harsh words spoken about someone I love.
Proverbs 15:1 says,  “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.”
Sometimes it is easy to end up criticising someone when we agree with a wrong choice they have made- the choice of university, a business venture, the friends they hang out with- the list goes on. Whilst I said very little, I felt convicted because I didn’t speak up for the person being criticised, especially in their absence.
Proverbs 16:24 says, “Pleasant words are like honey from a honeycomb- sweet to the spirit and healthy for the body.” 
After I returned home, I decided to ring each person who I’d been with, after praying and asking God for some wise words to speak. I said, “This person has made their choice. I am choosing to support them in this choice they have made because I love them, so can we support this person together?”  Almost immediately, I could feel the atmosphere change and attitudes change too.
I then rang the person who had been criticised, expressing support to them in the choice they had made. I told them I loved them and again, I sensed the atmosphere change.
The journey is ongoing regarding guarding our hearts and lips. Perhaps in reading this, you are being reminded of words you have spoken or not spoken or times where you have criticised or where you yourself have been criticised. Do not feel condemned by it but bring it to the Lord and pray, asking him to help you forgive yourself and others. Ask Him to speak His words through you. His words always spring from a heart of love, and love never fails.
A Girl of Wisdom will speak from a heart of love, bringing a soft answer and pleasant words. You can make an amazing difference by the life-giving words you speak, SO GO FOR IT!!
Gillian Williamson is from Northern Ireland and has a background in hairdressing, missionary work, teaching and life coaching. She has a passion for other cultures particularly Scandinavia. Gillian desires to see people live out their God-given potential and find wholeness in every area of their lives.

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