Announcing………..

I am so excited to be announcing the 2018 Young Womens Retreat!!!

If you are a young woman, and would like a refreshing time of input + fellowship, this is for you!!!

Retreats are an unforgettable time, and this one- held at a beautiful camp nestled in the countryside of Southeast Iowa- will be epic.

You can see a recap post here from the last Iowa Retreat.

There is a whole page of testimonials from past retreat attendees here.

To find out more about what a Retreat is like, see pictures, get answers to frequently asked questions, contact me, or register, visit the website, www.youngwomensretreat.com!

Don’t know anyone else coming? Come anyways- you’ll make new friends!

Need to fly cause you’re so far? Guess what? We have an airport in the Iowa cornfields (ha!) and I’ll even pick you up! Out of state and out of country gals are WELCOME!

Want to drive but not by yourself? Perfect- bring some friends or sisters! Or ask your mother to come with; she can stay at a local hotel for her own personal getaway. If those options don’t work, email me to see if anyone from your state is driving that you could carpool with.

COME! You won’t regret it! Here’s what to expect: encouraging sessions, sweet fellowship, deliciously scrumptiously gourmet food, incredible coffee (we always have a coffee bar of EPIC proportions!), worship time (you will love singing + praising the Lord with a big group of ladies!), alone time (if that’s what you need), rest, and enjoying the beautiful outdoors.

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And now I would love to hear from ya’ll!

If you’ve attended a Retreat, please leave a comment to tell the other gals about your experience.

If you’ve never been to a Retreat, comment to tell me why you might like to come!

You can also email me at allison@youngwomensretreat.com with questions. 

I look forward to hearing from you, and would love to meet some of you for the first time at the Retreat in April!

love,

Allison

PS: While this event is primarily for single gals, married young women are welcome to attend as well. Cassidy (obviously married:) will be there, and we would love to have some of you young married ladies join us, too!
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Men’s Work vs. Women’s Work- is there a Difference?

What is the difference between men’s work and women’s work? Is there a difference?

I had a reader ask me about the difference of “men’s work” and “women’s work” awhile back, and after some conversation on the subject, I promised to put a few thoughts into a post.

There is so much confusion surrounding this topic. We want to follow God’s plan for our womanhood, but problems happen when we start taking our cues from pop culture, or conservative culture, or any culture or group.

First, I want to share with you a few resources on this topic:

-The book Girl Defined (find it here) has THE BEST explanation I have ever read on what Biblical Womanhood really is. They do a fantastic job explaining some core truths about womanhood and how that relates to our work and relationships. I highly recommend this book for all women!

-My post “Hard Workin Gals: Should Christian Girls Have Jobs?” explores why hard work and earning income is totally Biblical.

-The initial comments that sparked this post:

“Hi Allison! It was interesting for me to hear that you have done landscaping work! My oldest brother owns and runs a landscaping business and I am able to help him out (and earn a paycheck by doing bookkeeping and making lunches. However, my brother prefers that I not get out and work with him on the job for several reasons: femininity, “gender roles,” and the overall hard and strenuous nature of the labor. He does occasionally ask me to help him with a big planting job, but I’m wondering what sort of landscaping work you did?? Also, how did you get your violin students? I play violin and would like to begin teaching, but I don’t really want to advertise??? Thank you for your advice!” -Clara

And my comment in response:

“Hi Clara! How great that you get to work for your brother! In answer to your question: I worked for a professional landscaping company. Being a farm girl, I have always loved dirt, heavy lifting, and hard work. Some days my landscaping work included lighter jobs such as pruning and planting small annuals, but many days I was digging out or planting larger plants or small trees, or lifting and applying many bags of mulch. I remember one particular day when I lifted out of the truck and transported to the gigantic flower bed several hundred 30 pound bags of mulch. I loved it!
I never felt at the least as if my femininity was at risk with a job that included hard manual labor. I think that in the Proverbs 31 woman we see that physical strength is actually virtuous. I would encourage you to do a study of that chapter. You might be surprised to see the physical strength and business savvy of this woman given to us for an example. I don’t think that hard physical labor is blurring the gender roles or damaging our femininity at all! I encourage girls to workout and embrace physical strength, not in an obsessive way, but in order to be strong, sturdy women who will be up to whatever challenge comes their way!
I hope that answers your question!
blessings,
Allison”

And now, for some additional thoughts since Clara asked. I hope this might be helpful for even one girl who is struggling to know how her work relates to her femininity:

Girls tend to be a little on the fragile side these days.

We need the backbone of the pioneer women, the strong arms of the Proverbs 31 woman, the business savvy of Lydia (seller of purple in the Bible), the courage of Katie Majors (leaving everything she knew to go to a foreign land and adopt many children as a single woman), the boldness of Esther, the tenacity of Gladys Aylward (going against the “safe” and “proper” status quo to be a single missionary in China), and the poise of Abigail Adams (gracious first lady).

Many girls these days aren’t developing the poise to be a first lady, the courage to live the life of Gladys Aylward, or the spiritual + physical + financial strength to imitate the Proverbs 31 woman.

Specifically, in conservative Christian circles, the thought process seems to be that if a girl knows how to keep house and take care of children, she is equipped for life. I disagree. I believe that this mentality leads to a grievous waste of time + talent among young women, as well as lending itself to poor preparation for real life.

It is wrong to assume that a girl need only know how to clean, cook, and care for children in order to be prepared for life.

Young women need to know how to earn, budget, and invest money.

They should learn business skills. They should work hard, study, create, push themselves.

Getting outside of the comfort zone needs to get on our radar! Girls (and their parents) tend to like what is comfortable, safe, and easy far too often. But your greatest potential does not lie in the comfort zone. I am so grateful I have parents who have encouraged me to dream big and live outside my comfort zone- flying many states away by myself as a teenager to live with and help another family for a week, taking a job with a near-stranger in the city (again, as a teenager) and learning the skill of landscaping (as well as the skill of earning and spending/saving a paycheck!), moving to Mexico for a fall (without any family members) to do mission work, taking a job that is high pressure + high responsibility + has included living alone for weeks at a time, and the list goes on. There are more things right now that I am dreaming of that will push me even farther outside my comfort zone. So that was a lonnggg little sermon! Moral of the story: I’m cheerin’ for all you gals to get outside your comfort zone! Start writing down things you would love to do but don’t think you can or would be good at. Things that make you a little nervous. And then start praying over that list and see where God leads! Buckle up, cause you might be in for the adventure of a lifetime!

Girls need to cultivate loving hearts and deep character instead of spending their youth reading romance novels and writing lists of “what he must be”. They should start becoming a gracious + wise + sturdy girl who would make a good helper to a good, Godly, man of vision and purpose.

This is the time to be mentoring younger girls and learning from older women.

Young women should be focused on caring for the things of the Lord- seeking meaningful work and ministry in their single years. There is work to be done and people to be served. Life is too short to be spent on Pinterest and Facebook. There is more to our life than home decor and DIY projects.

Girls should make the most of their days, becoming disciplined, industrious, capable women.

They must get a vision for the hurting people in the world, and start loving the things Jesus loves.

They need to learn how to handle money well. Girls do not need to constantly be living from one little project sold or monetary gift given to the next. They should learn to earn money, live frugally, invest wisely, and plan astutely. Read the story of the talents/stewards in the Bible (Matthew 25)……and then seek to live as the wise steward!

I want each one of you girls to flourish, to really prosper! In your soul, in your spirit, and in your work. This doesn’t mean “success” by anyone else’s standard, but simply getting a vision, pursuing growth, and embracing hard work. Loving Jesus above all else and living joyfully with Him, stepping out in faith and not living in fear.

There are literally hundreds of skills to learn, books to read, places to travel, and character qualities to cultivate.

Look at the Proverbs 31 woman. She was quite a lady! Not only is she praised for her virtue, trustworthiness, and care for her household, but consider these descriptions:

-She worked HARD: “She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands…..She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.” (verses 13 + 18)

-She was a savvy business woman:  “She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.” (verse 24)

-She was physically STRONG: “She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.” (verse 17)

-She bought property: “She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.” (verse 16)

Girls, there is not a list of “men’s work” and “women’s work” in the Word of God. There are structures laid out for leadership in the nation, church, + family, but the Bible doesn’t say that a woman shouldn’t do work that includes lifting heavy things, having male employees under her, getting down + dirty, driving big equipment, etc.

Here are some things the Word of God DOES say:

We younger women need older women to mentor us.

Find a Godly, feminine lady who loves Jesus and has a happy marriage and ask her to mentor you! Titus 2 explains what kind of older women should be mentoring younger women, and what they should be teaching them.

We are meant to love our husband + children and doing that WELL should be our first priority.

If not married, we should be actively growing in character qualities such as kindness, gentleness, selflessness, and humility- things that will help make us a loving wife and mother someday. Unmarried women can practice loving home + family by cultivating sweet family relationships, serving family and others joyfully, and making people the priority over their personal desires and plans.

“The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; 

That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,

To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.” (Titus 2:3-5)

We should seek to be women of virtue. 

Proverbs 31:10 says, “Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies.”

The definition of virtue: moral excellence; goodness; righteousness; uprightness: chastity; a good or admirable quality.”

We were created because, “It is not good for man to be alone.”(Gen. 2)

God looked at the man He had made and decided to create a woman and bring them together in a beautiful relationship called marriage. He saw that the man needed a helper, and that his life would be completed when he had a woman by his side.

Girls, our “femininity”- that soft + tender side, the “Mother’s instinct”, the love for children and homemaking- this was created by God. Even in our work, we should be cultivating the nurturing, gracious woman God created us to be.

Please take note: You don’t have to be married to fulfill God’s purpose for you!

Just because you are not a wife and mother does not mean that you can’t be the woman God created you to be.

I know some extremely beautiful, kind, virtuous women who, although unmarried, fully embrace their femininity and nurturing + helping instincts. They can be found in all manner of work environments- working at a hospital, helping homeschool younger siblings, working as a secretary, teaching violin students, running a business, tutoring English students, selling houses, doing landsaping, managing political campaigns, and the list goes on.

The common thread I see in these women is this-they love serving others in all areas of life.

They nurture people. They help and encourage their family members. They bring kindness, joy, and compassion to their work environments. They realize that they were created by God, to showcase His glory to the world.

They want to be conduits of His love and grace in everything they do.

They know that whatever work they do is an opportunity to be good stewards of what has been given to them by their Heavenly Father.

Whether you are changing diapers or selling houses, flying airplanes or baking cakes, writing books or homeschooling children, sewing costumes or hiring employees, administering iv’s or recording cd’s, taking people’s photos or doing people’s taxes, installing tile or mowing lawns…….do it all “heartily, as to the Lord.”

To every woman reading this- may your work, no matter what that is, be done with intention, love, and joy.

And now, I’d love to hear your feedback What struck a chord with you?

-Allison

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure here.

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Dear Senior Girl


Dear sweet Senior Girl,

Imagine we’re sitting down having coffee together like I did with my sweet friend Sarah (the girl in the pictures for this post).

Actually, this post was birthed from a coffee date with Sarah. Sarah is bright, determined, and full of dreams and goals, just like you! As we sipped our coffee that August day, Sarah asked me a very insightful question that made me sit back in my chair and wrinkle my forehead deep in thought.

“What advice do you have for me in my last year of school? Like things you are glad you did when you were a senior or things you wish you would have done differently?”

Here goes……as I remember back to my senior year and think about what I would tell all you sweet senior girls this year…….

Don’t Get Stressed.

Just calm down, darling. It’s really not as big of a deal as you think. In 5 years you will look back and not even remember those overwhelming papers you had to write or that class you thought you could never pass! (ok, nevermind, I still remember a little of my mannyyyy hours spent trying in vain to understand Algebra. But mostly it’s a distant painful memory- haha!) This is a great time in your life to learn to deal with the feelings of being overwhelmed and not able to do it all. You likely have family, friends, a big load of school work, and maybe a job on top of it all. It IS a lot to balance, but God won’t give you more than you can handle! Wake up every day and spend time with Him, then trust Him for that day. One day at a time, you WILL make it through!

Enjoy It!

This might seem like a strange one, but it’s like I told Sarah- you think you have responsibilities and perplexities and a full schedule now, but in a few years you will look back and be amazed at how much time and flexibility and how little responsibility you actually had! Really do enjoy the ride, my dear, because you will never be at this exact stage in life again.

Learn from Your Mother (or a Mentor)

This is something that I am so grateful for- learning from my mother during my senior year. I got to spend many hours working with my mother in the kitchen and garden, doing life together, and learning all manner of valuable skills from her. It’s a priceless season that I wouldn’t trade for the world! Friends are wonderful, and I recommend you have a handful of good ones, but you really need your mother’s (or another Godly lady’s) input in your life. Don’t think you can walk this road alone- mentors provide wisdom, good counsel, and balance where ya need it, and this is a time in your life when you need it very, very much. Make learning about Godly Womanhood an even higher priority than studying Algebra and Chemistry.

Learn Good Time Management

This is something I failed at BIG TIME as a senior. I look back and wish that I had spent my time more wisely! It really does matter: the Lord asks His children to “redeem the time, for the days are evil.” The time on this earth is short, and as an 18 year old it’s easy to feel like your whole life is ahead of you, but that’s not necessarily true. If this was your last year of life, would you have regrets? Now is the time to learn how to make wise use of the hours given you. Learn to set goals, make to-do lists, schedule your priorities, and say “no” to things (hint: this is a time in life when it’s tempting to do alllll the social things, but sometimes you have to say “no” to some good things to make room for the best.”) Pray over goals and priorities and learn to manage your time accordingly. Set your alarm, and get up and get started with your day! Go to bed at a reasonable time, develop good sleep habits, take care of your health, etc. Make time for your family, and make it a very high priority to serve others. If you are a Redeemed child of God, you are His Daughter first before a Senior. Remember that you are His ambassador, you are loved by Him, and He has a mission for you to fulfill on this earth, even during your senior year. Get out there are do it, girl! I’m cheering you on!

xoxo,

Allison

PS. Girls…..Senior or not- which one of these resonated with you? Let’s continue the conversation in the comment section- I can’t wait to hear from you!

PPS. Also, the pictures of this post are courtesy of the darling Sarah…you can find her on Instagram at @proverbs31fashion .

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Hard Workin’ Gals: How to Find Your Work (Part 2)

Hey girls! Continuing right along with the topic of young women and their work, I want to talk a little today about how to go about figuring out what work you should do! There are a few things a girl should keep in mind when choosing her work.

Is the environment healthy?

This doesn’t mean perfect, but it does mean you need to be wise. Working closely as an assistant or secretary to a man (other than father, brother, or husband) could be asking for trouble. (These situations aren’t always disastrous, but they need to be approached cautiously.)

Does the work keep you from serving others?

There is no cut-and-dried formula for how much time young women should devote to various types of work (including her “paid work”, household chores, church/community projects, etc.) There are also seasons (as I have experienced) where your job may demand the majority of your time and energy, leaving little for family and investing in people.

The key is balance, and evaluating your work on a regular basis in light of how things are fleshing out with other priorities in your life.

In this job, can you become more of the woman God created you to be?

God created us and we should seek, as we work, to develop the things He placed deep within our nature.

I love thinking of my work in this way: In the work I am doing, how can I develop the characteristics God has placed within me as a woman- gracious, nurturing, strong, life giving, feminine, creative, gentle, helpful?

There is so much scope for growth of our character within the context of our work. This is exciting!

For me, it’s about more than just putting in the hours and making the money. I want to do my work not only in a way that honors God, but so that I am living out who He created me to be as a woman. Even though one of my particular “jobs” includes extensive leadership of other people, my goal is to nurture those people as individuals, invest in their lives, and encourage them. In marketing and customer service, I get to exercise creativity in strategizing, learning, implementing new methods and ideas, and interacting with customers.

Do you have a stewardship mentality?

It’s about more than earning money, although that’s part of it. It’s a heart attitude of using the resources of time, talent, and energy as good stewards.

Good stewardship doesn’t happen by default. It takes intentionality. The bad steward buried what he had. The good one put a sound mind and creativity to work and got busy multiplying what he’d been given. Which will you be?

 Which one of these stuck out to you the most? 

love,

Allison

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Hard Workin’ Gals: Should Christian Girls Have Jobs? (Part 1)

I have heard a number of questions from girls about work and money, and I want to address several in this post.

Some are wondering if Christian girls should even have jobs?

If so, what kinds of jobs should they have?

Should they be spending 100% of their time on household and church work, or is it ok to pursue other work, as well?

Is earning and saving money a bad goal?

Is it Biblical to have a job and save money as a young woman?

To start with, there are  a few fundamental truths about work, money, and women that we need to understand:

#1. Work is created by God, and as women, we should thrive upon hard work and productivity.

There is a problem in our generation of laziness and selfishness. Work is often seen as a bad thing, and many, especially in their youth, do everything they can to spend the bulk of their time on “feel good” entertainment and the least amount of time necessary on work.

On the other hand, when women choose “careers”, it is sometimes with selfish motives. We need to get back to the fundamental practicing of good stewardship.

Work is not a bad thing, but neither is it something we do just for ourselves.

God has given each of us the privilege of stewarding the time and talents He has blessed us with. We can waste them, or use them well.

Read Matthew chapter 25 to see how Jesus feels about our use of what He has given us. He obviously want us to multiply it, not go dig a hole and bury it.

Many girls don’t realize the potential they have. Unmarried young women have incredible amounts of time and talent that should be put to use!

There are hundreds of ways to spend this time, but some girls get stuck without a vision or plan.

Some wonder what they should really be doing. Others just go with the flow and don’t give it a second thought.

Today my goal is to encourage you girls to do this:

THINK BIG.

Don’t sit there saying, “I wish I knew what I’m supposed to be doing.” or “I wish I had more money.” or “I don’t think ___ is ever going to happen for me.”

Get a vision, write down some goals + how you are going to achieve those, and go do it!

If you’re wondering if you should have a source of income or not, and if you should really even have “work” goals, I want to encourage you with this:

#2. Earning income and working hard is not only practical, but Biblical.

The Proverbs 31 woman is praised for her virtue, but take a look at her business savvy and income earning, as well.

“She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hand she planteth a vineyard…..She maketh fine linen, and selleth it, and deliverth girdles unto the merchants.” (Prov. 31: 16+24)  

Here was an ambitious, diligent business woman! She clearly took good care of her family, honored and helped her husband, and had some serious business skills to boot! She was productive, and thrived upon serving others and working hard. 

Being business minded is Biblical, and earning money is, too.

I think God smiles to look down and see girls getting creative about using their time and talents TO THE MAX!

He wants us to delight in working hard.

God is a Creator (look at everything He made!) and He wants us to create with our hands (that He formed), and to figure things our with our brains (that He intricately knit together).

Some of you girls are concerned about finding the right work to do. You may be wondering how your work will fit in with a possible future of being a wife and mother (a high calling) and your current job titles as daughter and sister.

#3. It is entirely possible to work hard + earn money while still loving home + family and embracing our femininity.

There are so many opportunities for work that fit beautifully with home and family. Working hard and even earning money does not mean we quit being the nurturing + feminine women God created us to be. 

Earning an income will not somehow turn a girl into a full blown feminist who will struggle to be content with being “just a mom” someday.

I believe that the struggle with contentment now or then is a heart issue, and an identity problem that needs to be dealt with by finding our security, identity, and fulfillment in Christ.

Finding satisfaction in a job well done and money earned is NOT A BAD THING! 

I would argue that earning money and working hard now is actually one way for girls to prepare for the rigors of motherhood.

It is my opinion that the discipline of learning to earn, save, and budget money, as well as the discipline of keeping a demanding yet balanced schedule will make for a more sturdy, capable woman in the long run.

Whether a girl ends up being a single missionary in Africa, a wife and mother, business owner, or a cook at an orphanage, her younger years spent learning discipline and hard work will be a huge asset later on.

(Disclaimer: There some things a girl should keep in mind when choosing her work, and not just every job opportunity is a good choice for young women. I will be exploring different ideas for work/earning money in the next post in this series.)

 I look forward to continuing the discussion, and would love to hear your thoughts and feedback!

-Allison

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