Practical Modesty Suggestions

We have been talking a lot about modesty the past couple of meetings at Bright Lights.  We’ve covered why we should dress modestly and the principles in God’s Word regarding our appearance.  So this particular meeting was excited as we explored practical ways to dress in way that honors the Lord.

Have you ever gone clothes shopping and aren’t able to find anything modest that you like?  Many girls want to dress modestly, but cannot find modest clothes.  Other girls want to dress femininely, but cannot find nice dresses or skirts.  Shopping can be very frustrating!  Tonight, I want to share a few ideas that are very helpful when creating a modest wardrobe.

At our last meeting, we talked about our important calling as ambassadors of Christ.  In everything that we do, our goal must not be to please ourselves, but to honor the Lord and represent Him well.  To help us understand this concept a little better, we heard a little story about a business that wanted to hire a secretary.  Since the secretary was going to represent the business to everyone who walked through the door, the secretary was to be carefully chosen.  Four young ladies wanted to apply for the job.  And they each had very different ideas as to how appear for their interview.

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First there was Miss Matching… or was it Miss Mis-matching?)
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Next was Miss I. M. Flashy
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After her was Miss Hattie O’Frumpy
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Last, but certainly not least, was Miss Grace

This little skit helped to illustrate how our clothing is often the first thing people notice about us and it communicates a message to others.  We want to properly represent the Lord to the world around us—that is what it means to be a bright light.  By His grace, let’s represent Him as well as we can!

How Can I Find Modest Clothes?

Keep in mind that these suggestions are not a list of rules to follow.  These are to give you ideas, but more importantly, this should encourage you to study God’s Word, talk to parents, and develop your own personal standards and convictions in this area.

Tops

One of the main things to watch out for with tops is that they fit you well and are not too tight.  If your shirt looks or feels tight, don’t be afraid to get a bigger size.  Don’t look at a tag, say “That’s my size,” and assume it will fit you.  We don’t want our shirts to be too loose/big and hang like a bag on us—that tends to look sloppy and unprofessional which is not the impression we want to give others.  Nice fitting shirts are not only modest, they are also the most attractive.  It looks much better than wearing a shirt that is too tight or too loose.

Layering

What happens if your shirt is not high enough to be modest (i.e. v-necks, other low necked shirts)?  You can often make them modest by layering. Obviously, make sure that your underneath shirt is high enough to be modest.

  • V-necks—wear a shirt underneath or you can sew a piece of fabric in the v to make it modest
  • Rounded necklines—wear a high rounded neckline to create a “border”
  • Sleeveless—wearing a shirt underneath that has sleeves will be more modest and can look really cute if done with the right combination.
  • Sleeves that are too wide—wear a high armpit undershirt, or alter the sleeves (pleats or sewing it narrower)
  • Button-up shirts—if the buttons are too low, wear a shirt underneath
  • Sheer—oftentimes tops can be made out of sheer, see-through material.  Layering can often solve this problem; just make sure the underneath shirt is modest.

Fitted shirts usually work best for layering so that they don’t add extra bulk to your outfit.  Also if they are long that adds modesty for when you bend over, lifting up arms, etc. and your top shirt comes up and gaps.  Another idea is to wear a tank top backwards—often times the back neckline is higher than the front.  You can also tank tops to have a higher neckline by cutting/pinning/sewing the straps (you may also need to make the armpits lower so it will be comfortable).

Remember—you want your clothing to draw attention to your joyful countenance.  So when you try on a shirt, ask yourself “What is this shirt drawing attention to?”  There are certain types of clingy fabric that are immodest no matter what.  Also, layering doesn’t always help draw the attention to your face either, so keep that in mind.

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Skirts & Pants
You will want to make sure that your skirts and pants are not too tight.  Some girls think that wearing tight pants, shorts, or skirts will make them look skinnier.  However, wearing clothing that is too tight is not flattering—or modest—at all.

  • Pants & Shorts—If your pants are borderline, you could wear a tunic to cover the bottom and make it modest.  Also, be very careful about the length of your shorts.
  • Skirts—When choosing the length of your skirt, remember that you are not going to be standing all day. You will be sitting down, moving around, and carrying on many daily activities and you want it to be modest in all of these situations.  It’s also a good idea to wear leggings underneath your skirt—especially when you plan to be active. If you your skirt happens to fly up, the leggings will help to keep things modest!

Suggestions for modest skirts:

  • Have you ever found a nice skirt at the store, only to find that it has a huge slit up the back or sides? A creative way to deal with this is by sewing in a kick-pleat.  This is something that even a beginning seamstress can do.  You can look on the internet for directions.
  • Another idea for finding long modest skirts is buying a sun dress, cutting off the top and sewing in a simple elastic waistband.
  • Also, with maxi-skirts in style right now, you can actually buy a long skirt. However, keep in mind that they can be tight/clingy.  An idea for dealing with this is buying a larger size and use a headband or belt to hold it up.
  • You can also make a modest skirt out of a pair of jeans. I posted instructions this on the BL resources page here.

Swimwear
Most young ladies wear swimming outfits that they would never consider appropriate at any other time.  But what makes it okay to dress immodestly just because they are at the beach?  Modest swimwear is not difficult to come up with—you just sometimes need to be creative and think outside of the box! A couple of options:

  • WholesomeWear & other online companies
  • You can wear a regular one-piece swimsuit with swim shorts & a quick-drying athletic t-shirt over top (there are a lot of girly-looking guy’s swim trunks out there—mine are white and gray with sparkly flowers!).  One thing to be mindful of is things can become see through when they are wet.  Since my swim trunks are white (and my underneath swimsuit is black), I also got some fitting athletic shorts to wear underneath for added modesty when wet.

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Other Things to Consider

  • Logos—does it draw attention to the wrong place?  Is it something you want to represent?
  • Weather—consider the weather and activities you will be doing when choosing what to wear (i.e. don’t wear a light flowing skirt on a windy day… don’t ask me how I know!)
  • Make-up—if you choose to wear make-up, remember that less is more!  Make it look natural.  Overusing make-up (eye make-up especially) can make us look dark and worldly, and that is not the impression we want to give at all!
  • Jewelry—an excessive amount of jewelry can be distracting and gives the impression that we want people to notice us. Again, less is more.
  • Hair—don’t covet someone else’s hair.  Choose a style that works best for your hair and remember that natural looking, feminine styles usually look best!
  • Secret Weapon!—Do you need a quick fix for your clothing?  There is a “secret weapon” that can be very useful in helping to make something modest—safety pins! They are useful for button shirts (making the shirt “button” up farther) and skirt/pants waists, etc.
  • Body Shape—It’s important to evaluate what we wear and if it looks appropriate for our body shape.  Just because someone else wears something doesn’t mean it’s right or that it will look nice or modest on us!
  • Mirror Check—use a mirror to look carefully at your outfit to make sure it is modest. Lift up your arms, bend over, and check your arm holes to make sure you can’t see up/down/through your shirt. Use a light source to see if you need a slip.
  • Ask your Dad—Dads often have great advise on what’s modest or not, and might notice something immodest about your outfit that you might have overlooked.  Talk with your parents about your family’s standards for modesty and honor them in this area—your clothing also reflects back on your parents!

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Modesty is possible!  With a little creativity, we can change many outfits to make them modest.  Modest clothing does not have to look “frumpy” or old-fashioned, but can look nice and very cute!  Again, these suggestions are not a list of rules to follow.  It’s so important to develop your own personal standards and convictions regarding modesty before the Lord, with the help of your parents.  It’s also important to develop godly convictions now instead of waiting for a time when it could be struggle for you (i.e. the next time you go clothes shopping, go swimming, etc).

Remember, modesty is an attitude of our hearts.  We can be completely covered outwardly, and yet if our heart is not modest, we still won’t be communicating a godly message to those around us.  So above all, ask the Lord to help you to develop a meek and quiet spirit—inward beauty that is very precious in His sight—and that your outward actions would reflect this work of God in your heart.

For our activity, we made little reminders that inward beauty is of most importance to the Lord.  It was so fun to see everyone’s creativity!

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Do you have any practical modesty suggestions?  I would love to hear them!

Being Wise Stewards of Money

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Skit: Karen – “Can you believe Mrs. McGregor gave each of us $25? Let’s go to the mall and go shopping!” Molly – “Great idea!” Annie – “We don’t need to spend it right now.”

“Being Wise Stewards of Money” was our lesson topic for our meeting on April 25.  We learned that there are some important principles to keep in mind as we talk about money…

“‘The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine,’ says the Lord of hosts.” -Haggai 2:8

“As for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, and given him power to eat of it, to receive his heritage and rejoice in his labor—this is the gift of God.” – Ecclesiastes 5:19

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Skit: Karen: “Really, Annie? Is shampoo the only thing you bought?” Annie – “I didn’t need anything else.” Molly – “Didn’t you want to buy anything fun – like this cute teddy bear?”

Everything that we have belongs to God – even our money.   The resources that He gives us are His gift to us.  Just like we read in the parable of the talents, we are stewards of what God has given us.  We need to be faithful stewards, because each of us will one day give account to the Lord for how we have used the resources that He has entrusted us (Romans 14:12).

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Skit: Karen – “There was no way I was leaving the store without this hat… even though it cost me $24.89.” Molly – “I have $1 left… who wants a snack?” Annie – “Why don’t you save your money?”

Money is a major battlefront in people’s lives, and often causes friction in many families, marriages, and relationships.  However, the answer is not to have more money, but to learn the secret of being content with whatever amount God has given us. Contentment is an attitude that allows us to not be tempted by unnecessary things, and will help us see the important things in life.

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Skit: Molly – “Oh, no! The car won’t start – we’re out of gas… and money!” Karen – “Do you suppose they’ll take these chips back?” Annie – “I have $3 left out of the $5 I brought; you can use that for gas.”

We need to remember that our treasure is in heaven.  Don’t focus on what you want to get; rather focus on the blessings that you already have! Purpose to allow God to determine what you need and don’t need – He knows best!  God is all powerful. He knows all of our needs, even before we speak them, and He and is able to supply all our needs.  He simply wants us to learn to trust Him.

“Our heavenly Father is a very experienced One. He knows very well that His children wake up with a good appetite every morning… He sustained 3 million Israelites in the wilderness for 40 years. We do not expect He will send 3 million missionaries to China; but if He did, He would have ample means to sustain them all… Depend on it, God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply.”  –Hudson Taylor

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Skit: Molly – “Mom, look at this adorable teddy I bought, and take a look at Karen’s hat!” Mom – “Did you get anything Annie?” Annie – “I saw a cute scarf but it didn’t go with anything I already have, so I just got some more shampoo.”

One important part of using our money wisely is to remember to give back to God from what He has given us!  God wants us to give sacrificially (Mark 12:41-44), cheerfully (2 Corinthians 9:6-7), and secretly (Matthew 6:1-4).  God is the ultimate example of giving – He loves to give (He gave us His only Son-Jesus Christ) and He wants us to experience the joy that comes from giving sacrificially out of our love for Him and others.  He promises that He will bless us when we give to others (Luke 6:38).  As young ladies, we should build wise spending, saving, and giving habits into our lives now as we prepare for God’s calling for us in the future.

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Skit: A letter from their missionary aunt tells of needs on the field. Annie – “I still have $20 left I can give!” Molly – “I wish I wouldn’t have spent all my money today.” Karen – “Me, too. However, we certainly learned an important lesson about using God’s money wisely.”

For our activity time, we split into small groups and each team planned a low-cost, healthy dinner using a stack of grocery papers.  Each group was able to come up with a delicious meal for less than $20!  It was a fun activity and helped to reinforce what we learned about spending our money wisely.

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What should we put on the menu?
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Look at this deal, girls!

And after looking at all the pictures of food in the grocery papers, we were hungry for snacks. :) One of the girls brought a beautiful lamb cake that we all enjoyed.  I don’t know that we’ve ever had such a fancy snack for Bright Light before!

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The beautiful lamb cake

I am looking forward to seeing all of you at our last meeting for the school year – don’t forget to sign up to bring something for our ice cream sundae party! :)

Orderliness

On February 27, our lesson was on the topic of orderliness.  As we were beginning our lesson, we were interrupted by Deborah coming in late.  She was very rushed, braiding her hair still, and was even wearing her slippers over unmatched socks.  Her skirt was wrinkled because it had been laying at the bottom of a pile in her room, and she was late because she couldn’t find anything else she was looking for in her messy room.

disorganized-deb

Obviously, this was just a skit.  However, it was a reminder of how orderliness is a big problem for many people in our culture.  I shared a few interesting statistics with the girls:

  • Cleaning professionals say that getting rid of excess clutter would eliminate 40% of the housework in an average home.
  • 80% of the clutter in most homes is a result of disorganization, not lack of space.
  • The National Association of Professional Organizers reports we spend one year of our lives looking for lost items.
  • For every hour of planning, 3 to 4 hours are saved from redundancy, waiting for information, not being prepared and poorly managed tasks.
  • 25% of people with two-car garages don’t have room to park cars inside due to clutter and 32% only have room for one vehicle.

(Source: http://www.organizerny.com/column.php?c=20120719)

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The God we serve is a God of order.  By observing the stars, the seasons, the plants, our body systems, or anything in His creation, we can clearly see His design, creativity, and order.  To us, orderliness might not seem like a very important thing compared to everything else we’ve been learning in Bright Lights, yet we must understand that orderliness isn’t just a skill, it’s an attribute (character trait) of God that we should develop in our lives.  And actually, orderliness affects many areas of our lives – our relationships, our testimony, our efficiency, our attitudes, and ultimately, our ability to fulfill God’s purpose for our life.

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We all came up with a list of a few benefits of being orderly:

  • Having a clean room
  • Helps you find things
  • Is a blessing to your parents
  • Helps start and complete projects
  • Allows for efficiency
  • Saves time
  • Demonstrates a godly testimony

Jesus showed orderliness in His earthly life – like how He rose early so as to be able to begin His day with His Father (Mark 1:35 & John 8:28).  We should follow His example of arranging our day around the most important priorities.  We can demonstrate orderliness with our time by giving the first part of each day to God.   It is important that we establish an orderly pattern of spiritual disciplines in our lives (i.e. Bible reading, study, prayer, memorization, etc.)  We need to carefully organize our time in order to use each minute wisely.

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When we talk about orderliness, we need to realize that we are responsible to take proper care of the things that belong to us.  Everything we own actually belongs to God and He has given us the assignment of being a wise steward of the things He has entrusted to our care.   We also need to remember that we represent Jesus in all that we do. As Bright Lights, we want to develop the character trait of orderliness in our lives so that we can use our time and resources wisely for the Lord.

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For our activity, we played a fun version of pictionary.  After dividing into three teams, a girl from each team was sent to get the first word.  They weren’t allowed draw the actual words (which were locations in which we can practice being orderly), but instead had to draw things in the location – like a pot in the kitchen, a shovel in the garage, towels in the bathroom, etc.  Their group then had to guess what the word was as they raced against the other teams to complete the most words.

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After our activity, instead of small groups, we had everyone anonymously write down an area in which they struggled being orderly with.  Then we drew the slips out of a bowl and we all shared tips and ideas for keeping that area clean and organized.  It was a lot fun, as well as very practical and helpful.  During snack time, we continued on with sharing tips for orderliness and organization.

I just wanted to say a big “thank you” to all of the moms and daughters that stay and help clean up afterwards.  It’s such a huge blessing to be able to focus on building relationships with the girls in our group rather than cleaning everything up.  Your help is a ministry to me!

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It was a joy to see one of the younger sisters (too young for BL right now) helping out!

Humility

On November 29, all twenty girls and leaders gathered for a Bright Lights meeting on humility.

We learned that the word humility comes from the word Latin “humus” which means “of the ground” or “dirt”.  Humility is putting ourselves below or underneath, or giving someone else the upper position; it is an attitude of service and submission toward others.  We also talked about pride and its terrible consequences, and how it keeps us from being strong for the Lord in our youth.

During our lesson time, we were interrupted by a breaking newsflash from BLN (Bright Lights Network) News.  Reporter Alicia Sparks filled us in on an incidence that happened at a mission center donation processing hall.

Elizabeth and Jennifer (a.k.a. Sara and Havala)

From watching the security cameras at the center, it seems that two wealthy sisters – Miss Anna and Miss Sophia Proudhart – sold a very valuable gold ring and gave all of the proceeds as a donation. Yet, both of them fell dead after saying that they had given all the money.

Anna Proudhart – having just given a donation of 4 – ahem – $2,000

An interview with Elizabeth and Jennifer from the mission center indicated that they believed that pride – wanting to make themselves look as good as possible – was the reason for the fall and destruction of the Proudhart sisters… similar to the story of Ananias and Sapphira from the book of Acts.

Special thanks to Hannah, Havala, Deborah, and Abby for helping with the skit!

Anna, Sophia, and Alicia (a.k.a. Hannah, Deborah, and Abby)

We wrapped up with an object lesson using balloons.  We talked about how a balloon with no air is soft and pliable – in the same way God is able to use a humble person to bring Him much glory.  I then had a volunteer come up and blow up a balloon as much as she could and we talked about how a balloon with air is puffed up and can only be one shape – in the same way pride makes us consumed with ourselves and useless for God’s work.  Then we popped the balloon to remind us that pride is dangerous and leads to destruction.  As young ladies seeking to be bright lights for Jesus, we want to be humble – like the soft and pliable balloon – so that God can use us for His glory.

For our activity we divided into small groups to complete a humility test containing questions that required answers from the Bible.  However, the girls weren’t able to use a Bible, but rather had to use a set of note cards that had the Bible verses that they needed.  The only problem was that there was only one set of cards and so the teams had to trade to get the cards they needed.  To complicate things even more, there were 4 different penalty cards to slow the teams down.  Whenever a team started doing jumping jacks, singing “Joy to the World” really loud, lining up to get a drink at the water fountain, or running upstairs and back down again – everyone knew that they had gotten a penalty card.  It was a fun activity.  Unfortunately, we were having too much fun to take pictures.

As always we enjoyed our tea and fellowship time.  Autumn brought chocolate cupcakes, and Louisa & Olivia brought pumpkin bars (thanks girls!).  We have a lot of talented cooks in our group!

Enjoying tea, snacks, and fellowship

Remember, we will be going caroling for our next meeting… don’t forget to bring some goodies for the cookie plates we’d like to make.

Gaining a Clear Conscience

At our third Bright Lights meeting (Feb. 16), we covered the very important topic of “Gaining a Clear Conscience.” Not only is it an important lesson, it’s perhaps one of the most difficult to put into practice.

First of all we talked about what our conscience is. We described it as a God-given sense of knowing right from wrong—it is God’s law written on our hearts. Romans 2:14-15 says: “For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them.”

From our skit: Sisters Alice and Mary couldn’t get along

We all make mistakes and sin against the Lord and others. Sins that we never make right, whether little or big, will effect us for the rest of our lives. When we do something wrong, we need to back and make it right.  If we try to ignore our conscience, things will only get worse.  God’s Word emphasizes having a clear conscience.  Why is this?  1.) Because we have to stand before God (Acts 24:15-16);  2.) to avoid failure (1 Timothy 1:19); and 3.) to maintain a good reputation (1 Peter 3:15-16).

We learned that there are 3 types of consciences:  A good conscience, which is one that is sensitive to evil and free from guilt; a guilty conscience, which is one that is bothered by guilt and unresolved sin; and a dead conscience–the very worst–which is one that is hardened against evil.  We each need to desire to have a clear conscience.

There are many sad consequences of a guilty conscience and hiding sin in our lives.  One of these is living in fear of being found out (Numbers 32:23b).  Secondly, a guilty conscience hinders relationships with those we have wronged, and more tragically, it hinders our with the Lord (Psalm 66:18—“If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear.”)  Thirdly, when we are hiding sin in our lives, it is easy to continue in it because no one else knows and it able to help us with our struggles.  A guilty conscience also effects one’s testimony and ministry.

From our skit: Alice battling her conscience

So how do we obtain a clear conscience?  An important first step is to desire to have a clear conscience.  Next, list offenses that you have committed against God and others, and then confess your sin to the Lord.  1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  Now, purpose to ask forgiveness from those you have offended or wronged.  Determine when you will ask forgiveness and do it—don’t put it off!!!

When you ask for forgiveness, show sincerity and humility (James 4:6—“But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’”)  Explain that you were wrong and make no mention of the what they did.    It is important to understand that we need to fix the problems in our lives, which are often big, before we try to fix the small problems in someone else’s life (Matt. 7:3-5).

From our skit: Be sure your sin will find you out!

There are many benefits of having a clear conscience that far outweigh the difficulty of going back and asking for forgiveness.  Some of these many blessings are that you will be able to resolve conflicts, you will experience great freedom and joy (no more guilt!), you will have more strength to overcome future temptations, and you will have a good testimony to others.

My sister Abigail and I each shared about a time when we had to clear our conscience.  Both of us agree that while confessing what we have done and asking for forgiveness is hard, the rewards of obeying the Lord in this matter are great and totally worth the difficulty.  There is great joy and wonderful freedom that comes when we gain a clear conscience.

As an illustration of the struggle within of gaining a clear conscience, we presented a skit about Alice who after a fight with her sister Mary, buried her sister’s doll in the garden to get back at her.  Alice’s conscience told her that she needed to confess what she had done and make things right, while the “Bad Conscience” convinced Alice that it was just too hard to confess, after all no one would ever know if she didn’t tell.  Alice decided to cover up what she had done and lived in fear of being found out—which happened one day.  Mary’s doll was filled with corn kernels, and one day Mom found some corn growing (in the shape of a doll!) in the garden. Alice learned the hard way that “He who covers his sins shall not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13)

Playing “Bright Lights Pictionary” during our activity time

We were very grateful for the 17 girls that came out to the meeting. Our snacks were provided by Lily and Betty. Betty made some beautiful cupcakes to celebrate the birthday of one of the girls, which was a treat for us all.  Happy birthday, Joy!

The beautiful cupcakes

I’m looking forward to seeing all of you at our next meeting on March 1st!