Mabel Hale, 1922
"Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain; but a woman who fears the LORD shall be praised!" Proverbs 31:30
"Your 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 unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight!" 1 Peter 3:3-4
Girlhood is the opening flower of womanhood. It has charms all its own. The wonderful change from the child to the woman, the marvelous blossoming of young, healthy girlhood will ever be God's great miracle in life's garden. Like a half-open rose is girlhood.
Every worthy book has a reason for its existence that is founded upon true purpose and desire. Whether the writer does justice to her subject or fulfills her purpose, it is the liberty of others to judge; it is her joy, however, to know that her purpose was true and her efforts sincere.
This little book is born of a desire to help and encourage our girls who are struggling with the problems which come up in teens. Youth has its problems, its heartaches, and disappointments. It is not always a smooth path to the perfection of womanhood.
If what I have written should help some girl to a nobler life and truer ideals, then I shall feel that it has accomplished the task I have set for it to do.
Those years forming the transition period between childhood and womanhood are filled with wonderful interest and attractiveness, for there is nothing of more beauty and grace than the budding and blossoming of girlhood. But the young feet that travel this way are often fearful and uncertain or willful and bold. Each and all have need of guidance they need a helping hand along the way.
Other books have been written bearing upon the same subjects as I have here treated; but many girls who will read this do not have them, and lack the counsel they could give. It is because of this hope to reach some of these precious girls with the help they need, that this little volume has been written. It is sent forth with a sincere desire to be a blessing.
"Rejoice in your youth; and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth." Ecclesiastes 11:9
Have you ever watched the development of a rose from the tiny bud, to the open flower? The bud held little more promise of beauty, than the foliage about it; but day by day it grew until it was full and round. One day you saw a thread of color promise of the rose to be, peeping through the covering of green. Each morning you saw the thread of color widening until the bud burst asunder and the flower was revealed. You looked upon this bursting bud with admiration and delight, though yet you did not see the rose in its full size and beauty. You had to wait until it was full grown and fully open, until it had reached its maturity, before you could behold the complete flower. But in the opening blossom you had the beauty of the mature rose blended with the grace and charm of the bud.
Girlhood is the opening flower of womanhood. It has charms all its own. The wonderful change from the child to the woman, the marvelous blossoming of young, healthy girlhood will ever be God's great miracle in life's garden. Like a half-open rose is girlhood. We are charmed, both by the beauty of the bud, and by the wonderful coloring of the rose. We behold the familiar traits of childhood that have always charmed us and held our affections but blended with these in ever-changing variety are the graces and powers of womanhood.
Do you, dear girls, appreciate the golden days in which you are living? You have your perplexities and vexations, of course yet you are enjoying the merry, carefree days of youth, which are generally the happiest days of the whole life. You are standing "where the brook and river meet," where childhood's days and childhood's toys are put aside, for the greater things of womanhood.
Girlhood days are happy days. The blush of youth is on the cheeks, and the rich, red blood of youth in the veins while the cares of life have not yet settled upon the heart. Nature is now tuned to catch every note of music, to respond to every pleasurable emotion and imagination. Life to the average girl is full of song and laughter. She looks forward with a magic view that hides all the sorrows and terrors and reveals in bright hues all the joys and blessings. Her heart beats with eagerness to begin the conquests that will certainly be hers. From her point of view there are no defeats, no failures, no disappointments. Every thorn is hidden and every rose revealed. So contagious is her joy and optimism, that her presence will cheer the dullest household and set its pulse beating with hope and laughter. Older folk, who know that life is not all joy and sunshine, come under the spell of her charms and smile with her. With songs of hope and joy upon her lips, she goes forth to meet life joyously and unafraid.
Laugh and play now, for this is your day. Dream your bright and happy dreams, and aspire to your lofty heights. I would be a pessimist indeed, if I saw evil in the radiant dreams and fair hopes that now brighten your skies and make your path light.
But girlhood is not without danger. The rose may be blighted and never come to perfection, even though the bud bursts open with the fairest promise; and the girl with the brightest prospects and hopes of womanhood may fail to reach her goal if she is touched with the blighting force of sin. Her God-given ideal is a pure and beautiful maturity full of usefulness; but there is that which would ruthlessly rob her of it. We guard our bud-laden rose vines, lest they be trampled upon; and we guard our precious daughters, lest they be robbed of that untouched purity which is their own.
Girlhood is the time of making ready. Maturity and independence come later. For another period, our girl must yet be under teachers and guardians who carry the burden and responsibility which would ill fit her young shoulders. In a few short years, oh! so few, these guardians and burden lifters will all be taken away, and your girl will step into life's harness and feel the care and pain that have been the lot of womanhood since the beginning. So laugh and play and rejoice in your youth, dream your glorious daydreams, sip the honey and nectar from every passing hour but guard well your feet that they do not slip into one of the snares and pitfalls along the way! Be pure, be true, be sincere, be earnest, and life will bring you peace and happiness!
From the Child to the Woman
"Who can find a virtuous woman? Her price is far above rubies!" Proverbs 31:10
One day I had a great surprise. I had been watching a young girl grow through what had been for her awkward, changing years. She was not pretty, nor was she very attractive but she had a good, true heart hidden away under her blundering ways, and I loved her. I had not seen her for a few months, so one day I purposed to call upon the family and learn how they were prospering. It was a pleasant spring morning which I chose for this walk, and I tapped lightly on the door. Her mother opened for me and pressed me to stay with them for dinner.
While we talked, I heard the sewing machine humming in another room, and presently her mother said, "Clara is doing the spring sewing for the children." I was surprised to hear that, for I thought of Clara as a girl too unskilled to undertake such a task. But my surprise gave place to wonder, when a little later the door opened and Clara came in to greet me. It was Clara's voice and face indeed but otherwise I should never have recognized my little friend in this graceful young woman before me. How such a change could have taken place in the few short months of my absence, I could not understand. My little Clara had blossomed into a young woman!
Childhood is a wonderful thing. The little baby in its mother's arms, a tender plant dependent upon mother for all things, holds in its little body, not only the possibility but the sure promise of manhood or womanhood. The infant mind now so imperfect and undeveloped, possesses powers of growth and development that may sometime make it one of the foremost people of the world. Every name, though ever so great, and every record, though ever so inspiring can be traced back to an infant's crib. Even our Savior was once a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger.
Childhood holds untold possibilities and promises. While it is true that many men never reach their childhood's promise, never become noble characters but remain mediocre and dull it is not always because there was in them no possibility of better things. We must admit that circumstances and environment, as well as heredity, have much to do with the nature and development of children but much more depends upon their individual disposition and effort. God meant that every child should grow into a noble, upright person, and there is in every child that which may be brought to the fullness of manhood or womanhood. Those who fail to be such, have somewhere along the way wasted that which God has given them.
Womanhood is a wonderful thing. In womankind we find the mothers of the race. There is no man so great, nor none so low but once he lay as a helpless, innocent babe in a woman's arms, and was dependent upon her love and care for his existence. It is woman who rocks the cradle of the world and holds the first affections of mankind. She possesses a power beyond that of a king on his throne!
There was the ancient Jochebed, who received the infant Moses from the hand of Pharaoh's daughter, and in a few short years she had taught him so to love his people and the God of his people, that when he came to manhood, he chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the honor of being the grandson of the king.
Womanhood stands for all that is pure and clean and noble. She who does not make the world better for having lived in it, has failed to be all that a woman should be.
Childhood holds it promises; womanhood its fulfillments; and youth, those golden days of girlhood, is the transition. This change is almost too great for us to comprehend. We marvel when we see the tiny, green bud develop into a mature rose of brilliant hue; how much more wonderful is the change from the immaturities of childhood to the beauty and grace of young womanhood! We see this miracle performed before us continually yet we never cease to wonder at the sweetness, charm, and beauty of every woman newly budded forth.
Wonderful changes take place in the body of a girl in this transition. She takes on a new form and new symmetry. Organs that have been dormant during childhood, suddenly wake into life and activity. She becomes, not merely a person but a woman. And with this change in her physical being, comes just as wonderful changes in her nature. She has new emotions, new thoughts, and new aspirations. She has a new view of life, and takes a new course of action.
It is as if she were in another world, so completely does she change.
This awakening comes suddenly. Not that she will know the day or the week when the change comes, nor will she be conscious of the miracle in her nature but the things of childhood will slip away from her. The little girl loses interest in her play world. She who did play whole days with her dolls, now leaves them in their little beds weeks at a time. And one day she will say, "Mother, I do not play with these dolls any more, and I have a mind to pack them away, for they take up so much room." Then, Marguerite and Rosemary and Hilda-May are dressed nicely and, with a last loving pat, are tucked away in a box or old trunk in the attic and left to themselves, while their little mother is hurrying away to the land of "grownups."
Mother looks on with dismay as she sees these changes, for she knows that her little girl is getting away from her, and that she must make room in her heart and life for the young woman developing before her eyes. She would put it off a little longer, for she will miss her little daughter, her baby girl; but even mother love cannot stop the hand of time.
Youth cannot stand monotony. So rapid are the changes in those eventful years, that nature has tuned the mind and spirit of youth to seek and desire change and variety. Even a few days of sameness, become wearisome to the girl. The more full life is of excitement and change the more happy she is. Life to her is a succession of glad surprises.
The child becomes a woman at last. She slipped into girlhood naturally and just as naturally will she lay off girlish ways and settle into womanhood. Life will take on a more sober look and she will see things more distinctly. Many of the admonitions and reproofs that she received in her girlhood, and which seemed hard and unnecessary at the time will now appear in their true light, and she will thank her guardians who gave them. Her cheeks will glow with embarrassment when she thinks of some of her girlish escapades, and become redder still when she thinks of some of the things she wanted to do but Mother would not permit.
She will talk more quietly and laugh less boisterously. New feelings of responsibility will press in upon her. Life will look more earnest and serious than it used to do. She will wonder how she could ever have been so careless of consequences. Our child is now a woman, and her nature craves something more real and satisfying than the fleeting pleasures of youth.
You, my dear girls, are now in these busy, changing years. I can have no better wish and prayer for you than that you may arrive in due time into the glorious state of womanhood, with hearts pure and hands clean. Godly women are needed everywhere, and the call for them will never grow faint. There will always be responsible places in life to be filled by women who are true and noble. Their price is above rubies; that is, their worth is more than all the riches of this world!
Keeping Up Acquaintance with YOURSELF
"Know thyself" is an old and wise maxim.
Did you ever have a friend with whom it was hard to keep acquainted? You parted on good terms and thought of her as a friend all the time but when again you met, you found that once more you must become acquainted. I have had such experiences and found them unsatisfactory. I would have a friend be a friend all the time.
Nellie confesses that she often cries herself to sleep because no one understands her; while Marie acknowledges that she sometimes gets very angry with her mother because she cannot make Mother understand what she wants. It seems that everyone, even your mother, fails to comprehend the importance of the very things that to you, seem the most momentous. It is especially grievous to you that your mother does not understand when you used to think she knew and understood everything. She appears to be getting out of touch with young folks!
It may be a strange way of putting it but your real trouble is that you have lost acquaintance with almost all that is around you.
First, you are not acquainted with yourself. You change so fast that you are a stranger to yourself. You cannot keep up with your notions. You want a certain thing, and before your desire can be fully granted you want something else! It seems to you that nobody really tries to please you, and you get restless and dissatisfied. You think that everyone is crossing you, when you are really crossing yourself!
Watch the changes in your body. The dress you liked so well last summer did not fit you at all when you got it out this spring. You looked almost comical in it, and you wonder why you ever liked it at all. The dress is just as it was but you have changed! You have grown taller and taken on a new bodily form. Clothes must be cut by a different pattern now to fit you.
You are changing just as fast in your likes and dislikes. Mother has been planning a special pleasure for you, possibly has begun your new dress. She explains what she is going to do and how she is going to do it; and when you have a chance to speak, you break her plans all to pieces. She has not pleased you at all, though Mother knows very well that what she intended to do was the very thing you wanted only a short while ago. She looks at you perplexed, and you are almost angry that she should have supposed you would have desired such a thing. Perhaps you speak pertly, and Mother reproves you sharply and calls you an ungrateful girl. You go away and cry real, hot tears because you are so misunderstood. You, my dear, have changed and do not know it. It is not Mother but the girl who lives in your body that so misunderstands you!
When I was about fourteen, Mother was making me a new dress, and I wanted the upper sleeves made very full at the hand and open from the elbow down. They were very ugly and very unhandy, and always falling into everything, and it was winter and very cold but I wanted my sleeves made that way no matter what was said to me. Mother set her lips together and said, "Well, you shall have them your way then." Her look called me to my senses, and I began to back down but she said, "No, you shall have them just as you want them," and I had to drag and dribble those sleeves around until the dress was worn out. I found out that it was just a foolish notion, which lasted but a short while, that I wanted such sleeves, and that my real self despised them. Mother knew that all the time.
I am not blaming girls for being changeable but I want them to see that they are changing and not to expect everyone else to change with them!
Again the girl finds herself feeling very awkward. It seems to her, that she is always splashing or spilling something and bringing down upon her head admonitions that irritate her. The fact is, that her arms and hands have grown so fast that she cannot measure the length they will reach, nor the force with which they will seize a thing. She has failed to keep acquainted with her own body. She need not be discouraged if she has trouble with awkwardness, for everyone who is growing fast has the same experience. Father himself would be just as awkward if he were suddenly to gain a few inches in his height.
It is hard for even a mother to keep acquainted with growing children. While she may misunderstand to some extent the present whim or mind of the boy and girl, she does understand conditions much better than they do and can see when their desires and impulses would lead them into wrong.
A girl is not able "to be her own boss" until she has passed these changing years. Not until then, can she look upon things with a settled gaze. It would be very hard to judge a garden if one went by it on a run and it is just as hard to judge as to what is best, as long as these swift, changing years are happening. If the girl can only be patient and obedient until she gets fully acquainted with herself, she will save both her own heart and her dear parents many hours of trial and anxiety.
Strive to keep acquainted with your parents and teachers, so that you can understand their point of view. Look at things from their side. Because they do not agree with you, do not go off pouting and keep to yourself but listen and really try to see. I could not keep acquainted with anyone, if I never sought her company; or if when I was with her, I always insisted on having my way. And you cannot keep acquainted with Mother if you are always contending for your own way. When you contend with anyone, you come up against their most unlikable side; and if you are continually contending with Mother about this and that, you will find yourself thinking only of her in most unkind ways. Just a little of the deference and courtesy given to strangers, would help you better to understand your mother.
Mother has many things to think about, and her mind is often full of perplexing problems which you know nothing about. It may be that just at the time when you are most persistent about something or other, your contention is the last straw which wears her out, and she answers you more sternly than you think she ought. You feel abused and hampered. You think of Mother as being unkind and possibly unjust. She thinks of you as being stubborn and ungrateful. Both of you would see things differently if you took time to keep acquainted.
Keep acquainted with Father also. Too often he is not counted into his daughter's life at all, other than to provide the money she needs. He is a great blessing in the girl's life, if she will only give him a chance to know her. He is busy and can hardly be expected to take the initiative in a hearty acquaintance; but he will appreciate the kind advances of his young daughter, if she comes to him smiling and seeking to know him.
To keep acquainted with herself or her parents, a girl must be considerate and thoughtful. She cannot give way to her every imagination or whim but must consider what is best for her and for others.
When a girl is just entering her teens, she must watch carefully indeed if she keeps from being selfish. So much is happening in her life just then, such great changes taking place that she is almost certain to become self-centered and to think always of herself first. It is such a task for her to keep up with her thoughts and feelings and desires that everybody else is forgotten. There is something about the tumultuous condition of her nature, that makes her see with crooked eyes so that things are not in their right proportions. Just a little reasoning on her part will help her to see that she is making a mistake.
It is selfishness that would make a girl think it a trial to help with the ironing, because it might hurt her pretty hands when her mother has to work hard all day long. Or, again, it is selfishness that would cause her to spend a whole hour dressing her hair in the morning before she is off to school, leaving her no time to help with the dishes. And when evening comes and someone must stay with the little ones while the rest go out it is selfishness if she feels abused when her turn comes.
It is selfishness that makes a girl think that she ought to have better clothes than her mother has, or that would have her want better things than her brothers and sisters possess. She has kept her mind so full of her own desires that she has forgotten that others have wants or rights. It is the most cruel kind of selfishness, that will cause a girl to speak crossly and saucily to her parents when they must refuse her some of her notions. Those who have done most for her of all the world, who are working week in and week out for her happiness, who are denying themselves many pleasures that her life may be more full they who because in their wisdom see that she should be denied they must have her become cross with them!
The great foe of these years is selfishness, and the girl who comes to the most complete womanhood learns soon to fight it with all her might.
"Let every one take heed how he builds." 1 Corinthians 3:10
The most precious earthly treasure a girl can have, is character. Her character is what she really is. If she will look beyond what she appears to be, and what people think of her and look at her heart fairly and honestly, judging herself by the standards of right and wrong to which her own conscience gives sanction then she can know whether she has a good character.
When a girl is misunderstood and misjudged, it is comforting to know that deep in her heart she has been true. But it will rob of the real pleasure even her friends' praises if, in her heart, she knows she has been untrue.
Character is not given to us we must build it ourselves! Others may furnish the material, may set before us the right standards and ideals, may give us reproof and correction, may guide our actions and mold our thoughts but after all, we build our own character. It is we, ourselves, who take of the influence around us, copy the ideals, reach the standards, and make ourselves what we are.
Youth is the character-building time. From infancy, throughout childhood, material has been brought together which we may use in our building. There are . . .
home influences and teachings,
moral and intellectual instructions received in school,
religious precepts and counsels of church and Sunday school,
the moral standards of our childhood's playmates,
the characters of the men and women we know, and
countless other avenues by which instruction has come to us
bringing material which we may use in our building.
The girl who has been reared in a Christian home, and by careful, watchful parents has a far better opportunity to build a good character, than she whose life has been less guarded. It is in the days of youth that this gathered material is built into character. The nature is then pliable, and habits are more easily formed and more easily broken, than in later years. Day by day the girl, whether conscious of what she is doing or not, is taking of the material which she has about her, and is putting it into her character.
Truth or falsehood,
honesty or deceit,
love or hatred,
honor or reproach,
obedience or rebellion,
good or bad
day by day the building of her character is going on!
Through her infancy and childhood, her parents have been responsible for her conduct; but now, when she has reached these important years their responsibility is lessening, and hers is increasing.
Sometimes girls who have been quite submissive and obedient through childhood become independent and rebellious at this period, building into their characters that which is a lifelong regret. But contrariwise, others who have been unruly as children now wake to their responsibility and begin laying into their building those things that are good, upright, honest and noble. But more often she who has learned to obey in her childhood, builds the better character.
Character building is a serious undertaking. You would never guess it by watching the foolish behavior of some girls. Sometimes I have wondered that to youth, should be given the responsibility of laying the foundation of life's character just when the heart is the gayest and the thoughts are the least settled. But if the responsibility came later, it would be at a time when the help of parents and teachers is not to be had. The builder would then have to work alone while now she has many helpers. And since to youth is given such a serious undertaking, ought not our girl to take earnest thought to what she is doing, that no wrong material is placed in her building? Can she afford, for the sake of present fun and frolic to place in her building that which will give her trouble all through her life?
Character building goes on every day. There is not a day that does not count for good or bad. Each day sees another stone in the building, hewn straight and true or all misshapen and crooked. If temptations have been resisted and obstacles overcome, if evil thoughts and feelings have been quenched, and kind and noble thoughts encouraged in their place then a noble and beautiful stone has been place. But if temptations have been yielded to, and evil thoughts and feelings have been harbored and cultivated, if wrong motives have been allowed then a flawed and ugly stone has been place. So, as the days go by, the builder sorts out and uses of the material at hand, that which is put into the character, which shall be hers through life.
A pattern is needed. No dressmaker would undertake a garment without some idea of how it should look when finished. She must by some means, form in her mind the picture of the dress as it is to be when it is done. Nor would she undertake to make a lady's cloak by a blouse pattern. She would ask for a perfect pattern to work by. A carpenter would not start a building until he first had a blueprint which made clear to his mind just how the finished edifice should look. More than that, he would ask for a perfect blueprint of every part of the building, so that he might have it correct all the way through.
Just so, no character is built good and true, if the builder has not in her mind a picture of the woman she wants to be. And the pattern for a good character must be chosen carefully. The carpenter will not undertake a pretty cottage, from the print of a barn; nor can a girl build a good, true character if she patterns after those whose lives are not good and true. She who has an ideal character, is first of all pure and true, then earnest and sincere, patient and gentle, and more ready to serve than to be served.
It is easier to build a bad than a good character! One can always go downhill with less difficulty than uphill. It is easier to glide with the current than row against it! It is easier to drift with the crowd than to stand for the right.
Bad character grows without effort. Just to be careless and indifferent to consequences, may be the cause of downfall in one who would like to be noble. Those who fall have been weak, for good character is strong.
Choose well as the days go by. Build for all time not just for present pleasure. What you are building, will bring you praise and satisfaction all your life or it will be your curse and disgrace! Keep your measuring rod at hand and use it without stint. Reject everything that falls short, no matter how pleasant it may look.
"Is it right?"
"Would it be for my life-long good?"
"Does it meet the approval of my parents or teachers?"
"Is it forbidden by God?"
These are questions which you should be continually asking yourself, as you decide what to do and what to leave undone. Many things that are fun end in wrong! Much that seems pleasurable after awhile comes to be evil! Everything like this should be rejected without hesitation.
To do right will often cost a struggle but it is always worth the effort. We dare not allow ourselves to be continually guided by what others do. Christ is our Perfect Pattern, and only those who form their lives after Him, are building the best character. He is the one great Pattern for us, His children.
The Strength of OBEDIENCE
"Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams!" 1 Samuel 15:22
The foundation of all complete character and behavior is found in obedience to God. All the universe is under obedience. The stars move in their respective places, the sun and moon in their orbits, and the earth upon its yearly course around the sun all acting according to one common law that guides them all. The seasons come and go, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, day and night, all according to laws that are never broken. And if by chance one of these laws should be broken, all the great universe would become chaos.
All that God has made, he has placed under law, and all moves on in harmony and splendor. Mankind also was placed under law but not in the absolute sense that governs the universe. Man was made like God, in that he could know good and evil and choose for himself. If he would choose that which is right he would bring to himself blessings and peace; but if he chose the evil he would bring down upon his own head the results of that choice. From this "law of sowing and reaping" no man may in the end find an escape. Of all that God made, man alone dared to be disobedient. He who could have brought most glory to God has from the beginning dishonored Him.
There are two kinds of obedience. In the first a weaker person is overcome by a stronger and compelled to obey by superior force. His will is not in the obedience but rather against it. He will cease to be obedient, when opportunity permits. This is the obedience that criminals give to laws, slaves to their masters, and which many children give to their parents and teachers. It is the soil in which rebellion grows, and it is always dangerous! Its end is always unrestraint, turmoil, and anarchy.
True obedience begins in the heart. The person obeying gives sanction to the law, acknowledging that it is right, and obeys because he believes it to be his duty to do so. He needs no law, officer, nor master to compel him for he is master of his own soul and demands of himself that which is right. Such a man is great indeed, who is able to make himself obedient to God and right. When the lesson of self-government is learned one of life's greatest victories is won!
The girl who comes to complete womanhood, must learn to be obedient. Her whole life must be governed, not by whim or pleasure but by right and duty. Her first lessons of obedience are learned at home. She becomes aware that all things are not for her personal convenience and pleasure but that she must do her part in service, restraint, and sacrifice that home may be orderly and happy.
Her parents give her many and various commands. Some of them seem hard and unnecessary. They interfere with her desires and plans, and the temptation is great to disregard them as far as possible. She feels hampered and bound and unable to carry out her selfish designs. But she who is building good character, takes heed to the commands given her, whether reasonable to her or not; and receives the admonitions and reproofs which come her way, governing herself by them, because it is right that she do so.
This lesson of obedience, in spite of the rebellion in the heart, is not learned all at once. But every girl does not have the same hard battle with it. Here is one point where she who is blessed with a humble and submissive nature, has the advantage. She can do quite naturally, what her willful and rebellious sister will have to struggle hard to accomplish.
Many girls are like my little friend Betty. Betty was very willful by nature, and obedience came hard. She had been exceptionally willful in a certain matter, and her father had reproved her sharply, cutting off privileges that Betty valued very much. She felt angry and rebellious against her father for the penalty that he had exacted, and unburdened her heart to her mother in an angry outburst. Her mother answered, "We will not discuss Father now. You are angry and cannot think clearly. But you will admit that it is possible for you to obey all that Father has required. What your rebellious nature needs, my daughter, is to be compelled to obey, and you are the one to do it. The commandment has been given you, and if you want to be victor then obey it exactly, for your own soul's good. It is the easiest way out of your difficulty, and the best thing for your character development."
Betty had the good sense to see this, and though her heart did yet rebel, she said, "I shall do that." And she found the hardest part of her punishment was over, when she had brought down her stubborn and rebellious spirit.
Obedience is never outgrown. It is not merely a requirement of childhood but is just as necessary in later years. After a girl leaves the care of her parents and teachers, she remains yet the servant of duty. In fact, the more she is thrown upon her own responsibility, the more loudly duty speaks to her becoming either a tyrant exacting obedience from an unwilling heart; or a good friend and guide leading on to right, just as the girl takes it.
There were long stretches in Betty's childhood and youth, in which the girl did practically just as she desired to do. She followed the dictates of her own selfish will. Now, however, since duty beckons her, she is pressed on every side. There is scarcely any time she can call her own. She must do her duty or lose her own self-respect. She has duty to herself, to her family, to her friends, to the church, to her community, and to her God. If she has not learned obedience and rebels at service she will find her life hard indeed; but if she wills to do her duty and obeys from choice the commands of her stern mistress, then she will be happy in just doing her duty.
There is rare pleasure in obedience. The answer of a good conscience brings into the heart a peace and satisfaction that nothing can destroy. The girl who can fold her hands at night with the knowledge that throughout the day she has been obedient to God and right finds in life a gladness and quietness that nothing else can bring.
If you would be happy through life, and make a success of the years which will be given to you you must learn now in your girlhood to obey, to bring yourself under control, where reason rules, not mere whim or selfishness. And the responsibility of this discipline dare not be left to parents and teachers. The girl who really learns obedience, must take herself in hand and be a conqueror. Others can compel your servile obedience but only you can bring to your heart true, God-fearing obedience. Only true obedience uplifts and enlightens and makes life noble. Be your own mistress, bringing yourself into obedience.
Making Herself BEAUTIFUL
"Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain; but a woman who fears the LORD shall be praised!" Proverbs 31:30
Sometimes, much to my amusement, I read in the magazines those comical letters that girls write to the beauty specialists. If these letters could all be put together into one it would read something like this: "How am I to make myself pretty so that I shall be admired for my good looks? I want to be rid of all my blemishes, my freckles and pug nose and pimples and stringy hair. I would have my hands and arms very shapely, and I would be neither too stout nor too thin. Tell me, Miss Specialist, how to make myself beautiful."
The wise man of old has answered this question in words that are most appropriate: "Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain; but a woman who fears the LORD shall be praised!"
Every girl is a lover of beauty. Beautiful homes, beautiful furnishings, beautiful flowers, beautiful clothes, beautiful faces anything wherein beauty is found, there will be found girls to admire it. From the time her little hands can reach up, and her baby lips can lisp the words, she is admiring "pretty things." And when a little of that beauty is her own her pleasure is unbounded.
Every girl longs to be beautiful. There is in woman a nature, as deep as humanity, that compels her to strive for good looks. There is no more forlorn sorrow for a young girl, than for her to be convinced that she is hopelessly ugly and undesirable. Oh, the bitter tears that have been shed over freckles, or a rough and pimply skin, and the energy that has been expended in painting and powdering and waving and curling herself into beauty!
A desire to be beautiful is not unwomanly. A woman who is not beautiful, cannot properly fill her place. But, mark it true beauty is not of the face but of the soul. There is a beauty so deep and lasting, that it will shine out of the homeliest face and make it lovely. This is the beauty to be first sought and admired. It is a quality of the mind and heart and is manifested in word and deed. A happy heart, a smiling face, loving words and deeds, and a desire to be of service, will make any girl beautiful!
A desire to be lovely and good to look at, is not to be utterly condemned. Beauty of face and form are not given to everyone; but when they are present they may be a blessing, if they are used rightly.
But a girl need not feel that her life is blighted, if she lacks these outer things. The proper care of her person and dress will make an otherwise homely girl, good-looking.
What is more disgusting than a slovenly, untidy woman! Her hair disheveled, her face and neck in need of soap and water, her dress in need of repair, her shoes run down she presents a picture that indeed repels! Though she might have a kind heart and many other desirable qualities yet her unkept appearance hides them from view.
But she who always keeps herself tastefully and tidily dressed, and her person clean and neat, is attractive and pleasing. Her personal care only increases the charm of her personality.
It is to be regretted if any girl lacks a feeling of concern and shame, should she be caught in careless and untidy dress. She should take pleasure in keeping herself presentable and attractive, not only when she goes out or receives guests but for the pleasure of the home folks as well. But when a girl paints and powders until she looks like an advertisement for cosmetics she shows a foolish heart, which is not beautiful!
In the cloakroom of a certain school, a question arose among some girls as to who had the most beautiful hands. The teacher listened to her girls thoughtfully. They compared hands and explained secrets of keeping them pretty. Nettie said that a girl could not keep perfect hands and wash dishes or sweep. Maude spoke of the evil effects of cold and wind, and too much sunshine. Stella told of her favorite cold cream. Ethel spoke of proper manicuring. At last the teacher spoke.
"To my mind Jennie Higgins has the most beautiful hands of any girl in school," she said quietly.
"Jennie Higgins!" exclaimed Nettie in amazement; "why, her hands are rough and red and look as if she took no care of them. I never thought of them as being beautiful."
"I have seen those hands carrying food to the sick, and soothing the brow of the aged. She is her widowed mother's main help, and she it is who does the milking and carries the wood and water, yes, and washes dishes night and morning, that her mother may be saved the hard work. I have never known her to be too tired to speak kindly to her little sister, and help her in her play. I have found those busy hands helping her brother with his kite. I tell you I think they are the most beautiful hands I have ever seen, for they are always busy helping somewhere!"
This is the beauty for which every girl should strive the beauty that comes from unselfishness and usefulness. Beauty of face and form is secondary in importance, though not to be despised. If used properly, personal beauty is a good gift; but if it turns a girl's head then it becomes a curse to her!
Think of such women as are much spoken of through the public press, or who have achieved noble deeds, as Frances Willard, Florence Nightingale, or Edith Cavel and consider whether you ever heard if they were pretty or not. No one ever thinks of such trifles when speaking of those who are great of soul.
The girl who depends on her pretty face or form for attraction, is to be most pitied! Those articles in magazines that so exalt the idea of outer beauty, are pandering to the baser part of nature. One may be perfectly beautiful so far as that kind of beauty goes and lack that true beauty which is like a royal diadem upon the head. Those who give much time to increasing their personal charms are living on a lower level, than is altogether befitting to womanhood. A beautiful soul shining out of a homely face is far more attractive than a beautiful face out of which looks a soul full of selfishness and pride!
My little friend, do not be careless of the good looks that God has given to you, take care in dressing yourself and attending to personal neatness, that you may ever appear at your best; untidiness and carelessness hide the beauty of kind deeds but greatness of soul and nobility of heart, hide homeliness of face. You cannot see the one for the other. Seek goodness and purity first, then strive to keep the body in harmony with the beauty of the heart. Take time to make yourself presentable but do not use the time before your looking-glass that should be given to loving service. Let your chief charm be of heart and mind not of face and form. Seek the true beauty which lasts even into old age!
Solomon, in one of his wise sayings, expressed plainly the evil that comes to a woman who is beautiful of face but lacks the true beauty of soul: "Like a gold ring in a swine's snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion!" Proverbs 11:22. As the swine would plunge the golden jewel into the filth and the mire as he dug in the dirt so will a pretty woman who is not godly drag her beauty down to the very lowest.
There are many peculiar temptations to those who are only lovely of face. Without true beauty of soul a pretty face is a dangerous gift!
Taming the TONGUE!
"But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. "For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned." Matthew 12:36-37
That little member, the tongue, what a treacherous thing it is! And how many times it brings its owner into trouble! One writer has said that he who is able to bridle the tongue is a perfect man, and is able to govern the whole body (James 3:2). Solomon, the wise man of old, has said that "a word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver." A word fitly spoken, how good it is! It will heal a heart that is broken, and turn away wrath (Proverbs 15:1).
Kind words are like a pleasant fragrance which fills all the house. One person who habitually speaks kindly and considerately, can soothe and quiet a household. And such words are not hard to give if the heart is in the right attitude. When one can feel and appreciate the joys and sorrows of others the right words will come naturally.
Unkind words are the fruits of selfishness. No one likes to be spoken to with harsh words; and if the golden rule is remembered and kept, none will be spoken to others. Consider the girl among your associates who is most universally liked and you will find her to be a girl who sympathizes with others, and who is ever ready to speak a kind and encouraging word. There is no amount of brilliancy that can, in the affections of our friends, take the place of kindness of speech.
A girl is known by her words. Generally the first impression she makes upon strangers is made by her speech. Some remark falls upon their ears, and they form an opinion of the speaker founded upon the nature of that remark. If she is heard speaking considerately and sympathetically, they think of her as kind and agreeable; but if she is loud and boisterous in her speech, or if her remark is unkind and spiteful then they form the opposite opinion.
Many girls have to overcome prejudice in the minds of others prejudice which the girls have created against themselves by their own hasty speeches. It never pays to blurt out harsh or unkind speech, no matter how provoking the occasion may be.
To avoid speaking unkindly at any time, it is well to form habits of kindness.
Betty had formed the habit of bidding Mother goodbye each morning and noon, as she set off for school. This goodbye was spoken in the kindest of tones and with a note of tenderness that cheered her mother all the day. One morning a stranger was present as Betty set off, and as she passed out the door she called back in her usual way, "Goodbye, Mother." Tears sprang up to the stranger's eyes, and he said, "A girl like that is a treasure. You ought to be happy to have her speak so to you!" Betty's little farewell, said without a thought, had wonderfully impressed the man.
The tongue is an unruly member, and until it is brought into control by the girl herself, it is ever liable to get her into trouble! If the old rule to "think twice before you speak once" can be remembered and obeyed then much trouble and heartache will be avoided. When all the efforts at controlling a girl's tongue are made by parents and teachers, instead of by the girl herself it is like trying to stop a faucet by putting your hand over it! The pressure from within is so strong, that ugly words will fly out in spite of these efforts. But when the girl undertakes the task herself, she is able to turn the pressure off so that the words flow smoothly. Not that it will be without struggle; but victory is ahead for every girl who will try.
Every girl should form the habit of speaking in a gentle tone. While she is young the vocal organs can be trained to give out soft tones. Everyone admires a soft and tender tone in a woman's voice. I have always felt sorry for older women who have from childhood spoken in a loud or harsh tone of voice, for it is practically impossible for them to do otherwise now. But girls can have gentle voices if they will.
No girl can afford to be impudent or brash. One who is such sets a poor estimate upon herself. When a girl is brash, she shows a lack of respect for elders and superiors, and also a lack of respect for her own good name. Instead of brashness sounding smart, and making a girl appear clever and independent it shows her to be rude and egotistical. There is nothing lovely nor desirable about it, and if indulged in to any extent, brashness will spoil any girl.
Brashness is more hateful, because it begins at home. Where the girl should be her best she is her worst, for she is always more ugly to her own loved ones than to anyone else. She makes home miserable so far as her influence goes. Mother and Father may endeavor to be kind and just but at the least reproof or counsel, the mouth of the girl sends out a stinging retort that hurts cruelly.
Brash words cost too much in heartache and tears. They are not found in beautiful girlhood; for where the habit of brashness is found, the beauty of girlhood is spoiled. Words can be like swords, cutting deep not into the flesh, but into the tender heart. The time will come, my young friend, when you will gaze upon the still form of one you loved, and will regret with tears and sighs the harsh words you have spoken. Do not lay up for yourself sorrow for that time.
The ungoverned tongue, leads into many wrong channels. By it unkind remarks are made of absent ones. Boasts and threats are uttered, evil suspicions spoken, trouble kindled, and hearts broken! Almost all the sorrow of the world, can be traced back to the wrong use of the tongue!
If you could learn the history of almost any neighborhood, you would find that someone has suffered, some heart has been wounded or broken by the gossiping tongue of a neighbor.
Talking about others is not necessarily sinful. We are naturally interested in the doings of our friends, and like to talk their affairs over in a kind way. And it is one of the strongest curbs on evil doings, to know that one's sinful behavior will be soundly condemned by the neighbors. We should always be ready to condemn evil deeds. But when this is mixed with a desire to wound or hurt another, or when the one who is talking is careless of the results of her speeches gossip becomes sinful and base. When gossip becomes backbiting, it is one of the worst of sins!
How quickly we would condemn a man who should shoot another in the back, when only a short time before he had pretended to be a friend to him! The girl who will talk about her acquaintances behind their backs, and pretend friendship to their faces, is just as despised. Gossip and backbiting are sinful, wrong, and entirely unfitting to beautiful girlhood.
The Apostle James has written a few verses upon the evils into which the tongue can lead us, and we shall do well to read them at this time: "Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by Hell." James 3:5-6
A SUNNY Disposition
"A happy heart makes the face cheerful." Proverbs 15:13
"The cheerful heart has a continual feast!" Proverbs 15:15
"A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones!" Proverbs 17:22
Once I looked upon the face of a dear little boy whose bright eyes and sunny smiles cheered my heart. I asked him what his name might be, and he answered, "Papa calls me Sunshine John." Then I knew that the merry smile I saw was, as I thought, an index to the sunny little heart. Any home is blessed if it has a sunshine maker.
Every girl owes it to herself and to her associates to be sunny. A happy girlhood is so beautiful that it cannot afford to be spoiled by needless frowns and pouts. There are clouds enough in life, without making additional ones out of our sour disposition. A girl who is full of smiles and sunshine, is a fountain of joy to all who know her. The world has enough of tears and sorrow and her sweet, smiling face can scatter untold clouds. Could a girl ask for a better calling, than that of a joy maker for all about her?
Every girl must meet her share of bumps in life. If they do not come soon, they must come late. It is impossible that she should pass through life in the sunshine all the time. She must have her share of the shadows. She cannot escape it. But it is not the deep shadows that generally cloud a girl's life and make her unhappy and sullen. It is the little things, insignificant in themselves, and which could have been passed by with hardly a thought that irritate the temper and mar the happiness. Every day our girl will meet with circumstances in which she has her choice between frowning and sending back a stinging retort or smiling and passing them by with a kind word. If she can pass these little bumps and keep sweet then she has mastered the are of being sunny.
Betty is working at the kitchen sink and by some mischance spills water on the floor. Mother is tired, and has just finished mopping, and she speaks up quickly, reproving Betty: "Betty, you careless girl, can't you do anything without making a mess!" Now is Betty's chance. She can frown and send back an angry rejoinder as she flounces out of the room, leaving her mother sorry for her own impatience and grieved at Betty's hatefulness; or Betty can look up with a smile and say, "I'm truly sorry, Mother, that I was so awkward but I will clean it up." The smile that will come to Mother's face, will be reward enough to Betty for her soft answer.
Or, again, when the smaller children are cross and fretful Betty can become cross also, scolding and threatening until she increases the uproar. Or she can begin a game or story, and turn their minds into new and pleasant channels. But before Betty can do this, she must have control of herself, and a bit of sunshine in her heart.
If our girl can leave home every morning for her school or work, with a song in her heart and a smile on her lips, and be ready with a bright "good morning" for each friend she meets, and an encouraging smile for the old or ill or those otherwise in need of encouragement then she has found a sphere of usefulness that will make many people bless her.
There is a real art in smiling. Some people grin all the time, and it becomes monotonous to those who look at them. These grinning people never seem to think whom or what their smile is for. It is as if their mouths were made in that form.
Other people have the kind of smile upon their faces that suggests sarcasm. But there are still others, and I have met girls who had mastered the art, whose smiles are tear chasers. There is something so understanding in their glance and smile, that they make you feel that they care for you and want you to be happy.
Sometimes when I have been discouraged or depressed by trials all my own a bright, hopeful smile from someone has cheered me amazingly. In fact, we are very much dependent upon each other for courage and happiness. Then let us be dispensers of joy as we go through life, smiling and glad.
If I am in trouble, having acted foolishly in something or other, then I do not appreciate the grinning smile. I would rather the face that looked into mine would express a little understanding and feeling for my trouble, or that it would not notice my foolishness at all; when I find a friend who can meet me this way, then that friend becomes a real comfort and joy.
Smiles and gladness are like sweet peas in that the more you gather and give away the more you have. Leave your sweet peas on the vines, and the flowers are soon gone; but gather them each day, and they will blossom the more and last the summer through. If you save your smiles for special occasions, when there are joys abroad, you will nearly run out of them but give them out at every opportunity, and the joy vines of your heart will thrive and grow!
Live in the sunshine. Look on the bright side, for there is always a bright side. No matter how a girl is situated in life, she can find something to be thankful for.
If she is the daughter of a poor father, she is saved many of the temptations that come to the rich, and she has many opportunities for helping in burden-bearing at home.
If she is a daughter of the rich, many opportunities for doing good are open that never come to the poor girl.
Is she strong and well? She then has a heritage that can be used to good advantage in this busy world. But if she is weak and frail her sunny life can brighten the home. Often the sick one is the most cheery of the family, in spite of her pain. Everyone can be a sunshine bearer.
In one home the daughter is a willing helper, ready to do all that her young hands can do to lighten the load, and she is a constant blessing to her mother but she forgets to carry with her a cheery, sunny smile. Her heart becomes vexed and unpleasant, and her words sharp and cutting. The little ones watch big sister's face, and see that she is cross. Mother's gentle voice often has to speak to her in soothing tones, "Daughter, I know you are tired but do not make it unpleasant for the little ones. We have much to do but love lightens it all the way." How often I have wished that to her other graces, this dear girl would add sunshine.
The faces of our friends are like mirrors. We can look into them and see the expression of our own face. If we come to them smiling, we see a smile in return; but if we meet them with a frown, they will frown back at us. Try catching the eye of one who is looking sad and out of sorts and meeting her look with a smile; and see if it will not soon answer back in her face.
Especially when children are to be dealt with, it is necessary to learn to smile and be pleasant; for if you come to them cross they will be cross in return. Be cheery, sunny, and encouraging, both for your own happiness and for the sake of others.
The Beauty of TRUTHFULNESS
"Buy the truth, and do not sell it!" Proverbs 23:23
A writer of old once said, "Speak the truth to everyone" and that is what I wish to say now. Once it was asked, "What is truth?" Truth is the foundation of all things, the rock upon which all things stable and dependable rest. When truth is gone, all that can be relied upon is gone. A life is worse than useless, if it lacks the elements of truth.
Every noble, sincere person loves truth. For it, he will give all that he possesses. Nothing is too precious to be given for truth; he so loves honor and uprightness, that he would suffer the loss of all things, even his own life, rather than to perjure his soul. Men have faced imprisonment and death, rather than swear falsely.
Truth beautifies the wearer. It sits like a royal diadem upon the head of all who possess it. Nothing so beautifies the face as a noble heart and a clear conscience. One whose motives are all pure, and who has spoken the truth, can look the world in the face without flinching. The light of honor and sincerity brightens the eye and clears the brow. Though the features may be irregular and the complexion imperfect yet these beautiful qualities of the soul will cover all that and give to the homeliest face a befitting beauty. I would rather be known for the beauty of my character, than the beauty of my face wouldn't you?
A lie is cowardly. After all that might be said to excuse an untruth, when you have sifted it down to its starting point, you will find its real reason for being is cowardice. Whether the lie was told to cover a fault, or acted to pretend what was not true, or said in spite and hatefulness cowardice is the real cause of its existence.
The most common lie, and perhaps the least blamable, is the one told to cover a mistake or fault. This is done because the offender is afraid to meet the consequences of his deed. But a truly brave heart will not give in to this weakness. It is better to look up and tell the truth, even if the confession will bring punishment and disgrace. It is better to be true in heart, than to have merely the appearance to truth on the outside.
To be truthful, then, is courageous. Sometimes it takes more courage to tell the truth, than to enter a battle.
A young man once espoused a cause which was much spoken against but in which he believed with all his heart. In behalf of his cause, he stood before men high in authority but it was hard to find one who would assist him. He especially wished to gain the favor of one certain man, and at last he stood in his private office for the interview which he had sought for so long. The man looked up at him sharply before he offered him a seat, and asked him a certain question. Now, to answer this question exactly according to truth, would without doubt, (the young man thought,) prejudice the older man before he had heard the cause. For one instant his mind was confused, and a lie was ready to come from his lips but he rallied and said to himself, "If my cause is just as I think it is, it is able to stand on truth," and looking the man in the eye, he told the truth exactly.
A look of relief came over the older man's face, and he answered, "I have been interested in this matter for some time but have been unable to find a man who would unflinchingly tell me the truth. I am convinced that you will do that, and am willing to hear your cause." The young man was given a seat, and before he left the private office of the older man, a course of action was mapped out which in time brought success to his beloved project. Truthfulness does not always meet its reward so suddenly but the reward will come eventually.
The wickedest kind of lie, is one told deliberately to hurt another person. When the final judgment comes, such lies will be counted in with murder; for the same evil motive lies back of each. In the one the perpetrator had the courage to strike the deathblow; but in the other he was too cowardly to kill outright, so gave a wound in the back, from the dark. Would that such lies could be painted in their true colors.
The most foolish lie is one acted out by a person's pretending to be richer and finer than he is. You have seen such, I know. He is always seeking to be with the rich and distinguished, striving in every way possible to dress as well and appear as wealthy as the other. You will find girls of this class simpering and mincing along, scarcely acknowledging acquaintances who are not well dressed, and lavishing much attention upon anyone well dressed and elegant.
John, a young friend of mine, once gave a short, gruff laugh in his throat, when I asked after the welfare of a certain girl, a mutual acquaintance of his and mine. I looked up, surprised at the way he had acted, and found an amused expression in his eyes and about his mouth, and he said, "Bess doesn't know me any more, when I have my overalls on. I have met her several times on the street when I have had to be out in my work clothes, and she did not recognize me at all. I met her the other day when I was dressed up, and she was as friendly as ever. You know about how a fellow feels in the presence of such a person." Poor Bess, every right-thinking person would place the same construction upon her actions as John did. Those of real worth hate such double-facedness.
There is an adage which says, "Always speak the truth." But we should not construe this to mean that all of the truth should always be spoken. There are many things which though true, are far better unsaid. Unpleasant things will not help along by being told. It is far better to keep silence, than by speaking, to give offense.
Were I looking for a girl to fill a responsible position, almost my first question would be, "Is she truthful?" Though she might have the knowledge and ability, might make a good appearance and be ever so pleasing in manner, I would not consider her if her word could not be relied upon. A girl who will not always speak the truth, places herself in a position to be continually mistrusted. Nothing will break confidence so quickly as an untruth; and it is hard to get back that which is lost, when confidence is gone.
The best advice for any girl is always to speak the truth from the heart; to love and to keep truth as her chief possession. So long as she knows in her own heart that she has been true, that she has not borne false witness nor spoken deceitfully she can face the world courageously.
A truthful character is absolutely necessary to solid worth. A person who lacks the foundation of truth, is weak, and in time will be broken down, no matter how high may be the aspirations and ideals of the girl. Practical, everyday truthfulness in little things and great things is the only safe course for a girl to pursue. Hold truth fast. Do not let it go. Be honest, be true, and let your words be spoken from the depth of a heart which is not filled with deception.
The really truthful person cannot carelessly break a promise. Her word is sacred, and when she has said that she will or will not do anything, she can be depended upon. I have heard mothers say of a daughter, "She promised me before she left that she would not go there, and I know she will keep her promise." Always I have thought, "Oh, happy mother! Your confidence speaks much for your daughter."
It is so easy to let a promise slip. First, it is given with little consideration. It may be that the girl is pressed to do something which she does not want to do, or is not sure would be right for her to do, and, lacking the courage to say no, she promises lightly, never intending to keep her word. It is the easiest way out of her present perplexity, and she makes her fickle promise never thinking that she is laying a rotten plank in her character.
Again, a girl in her thought makes a difference between people. There are certain people with whom she would be very careful to keep her word, and would be troubled indeed to be compelled to break a promise made to them while with others, she esteems her word lightly. Keeping promises should be held just as sacred with one as another. A promise to mother or little sister, should be kept as strictly as if it were made to the most noted person of the city.
Promises whose breaking would inconvenience others, should be strictly kept. If a girl has promised to meet someone at nine o'clock at a certain place, she should, if it is possible at all, be there exactly at nine. If she allows herself to think that quarter- or half-past nine will do just as well then she is actually stealing that much of the other person's time. That is both dishonest and untruthful.
Another kind of untruth often indulged in is the telling of falsehoods to little children to frighten them into obedience. This is very wrong because of the effect it has upon the character of the one who does it, and upon the child who is thus fooled.
There is no situation in life, in which truth is not preferable to lying. Too high an estimate cannot be set upon absolute truth telling, nor can it be loved with too great a love.
"And this I pray that you may be sincere and without offence." Philippians 1:10
"But the wisdom that comes from Heaven is . . . sincere." James 3:17
To be sincere, is to be in reality, what one appears to be. Not pretended; not assumed but genuine, real, and true. How much value we all place upon sincerity of character! What a low estimate we place upon the friendship of a person who proves not to be sincere, who, when to her advantage, snubs and ignores us. How we despise the actions of one who is lavish with expressions of love and kindness to our face but who backbites us in our absence! We care nothing for her friendship, and her very expressions of affection are obnoxious. Is it not true, that we expect and demand sincerity of our friends?
To be sincere is to be honest honest with self and honest with others. Honesty costs something. To be truly honest is not always the easiest path. It is an easy matter to deceive ourselves and to make ourselves believe we are doing right when down in our hearts, we know we are doing wrong.
A man might give to a good cause and make himself believe he is doing right, when deep in his heart he must know he gives to gain praise from others. A girl might make herself think she is studying because she is bent over a book, when she knows her thoughts are all upon the social party to which she is going. A boy may make himself think he is smart and manly because he smokes, when deep down in his heart he knows he is being both disobedient and deceitful.
There are indeed many ways one may deceive himself. Sometimes men have given liberally to a good cause, hoping that their good deed would make up for an act of dishonesty. Many a church or hospital or school has been endowed because the giver thought his doing so, would smother his feelings of regret or soothe the fretting of a wounded conscience. Temptation to such insincerity has come to us in little things or greater but the sincere heart will not yield.
To be honest with self means to look things over with a sincere heart and to do right, because it is right. When we do good that we might appear good to others, in spite of deception in the heart, we deceive ourselves. If we are trying this, our true selves will come out when we least expect it. Perhaps more people deceive themselves, than are ever deceived by others! It pays to be honest with ourselves all the time.
It is just as necessary to be honest toward others in every act.
It was a bitterly cold morning and Betty buttoned her coat up close to her throat, just as she knew her mother wished her to do. But it was not because of the cold that she obeyed her mother so carefully about her coat. That morning she had put on a blouse which her mother had asked her not to wear to school and the buttoned coat hid it from her mother's eyes. Betty was both disobedient and dishonest.
We sometimes think that honesty pertains only to money matters. It is true that we should always be honest to the last penny in all business dealings but honesty also touches every other department of life. To copy, cheat, or to take advantage in any other way at school, in order to gain a grade, is just as dishonest in its nature as to steal, or to forge a check. The principle is the same, the difference being only in the magnitude of the deed.
To take advantage of the teacher's back being turned to play pranks, is also dishonest. To pretend friendship which one does not feel, to smile and approve to the face and laugh to the back, to be two-faced in anything is mean and dishonest. Honesty or dishonesty is shown in every little act of life. It is the honest boy or girl, who makes the honest citizen. They are the ones whose lives and influence amount to real good in the world's work.
To be sincere is to be hearty; that is, to enter into all we do with all our might. She who is sincere will give the best of herself to whatever work she undertakes. Even the humblest tasks become noble, if they are performed heartily. It is a pleasure to watch a girl wash dishes or sweep a floor, if she does it with a hearty good will. As for practicing music or studying a lesson more will be accomplished in half the time, if the work is undertaken heartily. The girl who does her work that way is a bit of sunshine in the home. God bless her! She is a true comfort and joy.
The sincere girl always makes a satisfactory worker wherever she is put. She does her work with a reasonable degree of rapidity, and with a will as if she enjoyed it. Whether she works in an office, in the schoolroom, in the factory, or in the kitchen, whether her work brings her good pay, or whether she is a busy home toiler who gets only her board and clothes if she is sincere and willing, she will be a success. Her eye is not on the clock to see if her time is about up but her whole attention is upon the task that she is doing.
Sincere people are hearty in their friendships. Did you ever put your hand into the hand of a friend and have her grasp it with a hearty good will, and look you in the face with a friendly greeting? Did it not do you good? It does others just as much good, if you greet them heartily.
I have offered my hand to women who gave me the tips of their fingers in a delicate, afraid-of-you manner that chilled all my ardor. I did not like it, and others will not like it if you meet them that way. The handshake is quite an index to people's hearts. Those who are hearty and sincere, are not afraid to let you know it.
To be sincere is to have no pretension, no putting on. The girl who is sincere means every word she says, when she is expressing love and friendship. I need not fear that she is only trying to make an impression on me, nor that she is getting my confidence only to ridicule me later. She is no turncoat and no backbiter. It seems to me a girl can have no greater fault, than pretending friendship and affection that she does not feel. Those who are sincere, are real. They are real friends, real students, real sisters, real Christians.
To be sincere is to be frank. Frankness helps a girl to speak right out from the heart, what she thinks and feels. But there is a very unpleasant trait that sometimes passes as frankness. That is a disposition to say cutting things. There are many things that are better left unsaid. Even though circumstances have given ample room for severe criticism, it is better to keep the bitter word unsaid, and to speak kindly.
Frankness does not mean that we shall tell people what we think of them and their doings, on all occasions. True frankness shows in clear, honest eyes and in a gaze of purity and truth, which brings confidence to all who see it. It will speak out of the eyes when the lips are silent. She who is frank keeps nothing back that changes the meaning of what she says.
Beautiful girlhood can hold no more attractive nor lovable trait than sincerity. When a girl can look with honest eyes and perfect sincerity into life, and can meet the temptations that are sure to come with a heart sincerely set to do God's will that girl will succeed. Her life will be a blessing to many. Old and young will be encouraged and strengthened by her presence and friendship.
"A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies!" Proverbs 31:10
What is your aim in life, or, rather, what would you have your life to be, if you could have the choosing? What kind of life looks the best and most desirable to you? What are your ideals?
An ideal is a mental conception of perfection. It is a picture in the mind of things as we would like to have them. Every girl has her ideals, and in one way or another is working toward them. She may be careless and hardly conscious of what she is doing yet certainly she is following after her ideal. She has in her mind, the picture of the woman she wants to be.
No girl can rise higher than her ideals. The ideal one has in mind, is the limit of perfection to that person. It is impossible to attain to higher things than we strive for; and few, oh, so few, even reach their ideals. So it is imperative that a girl set before her good and pure ideals, that she set her mark high. It is better to aim at the impossible than to be content with the inferior.
Every girl is a woman in the making. Sometime she will stand in a woman's place and take a woman s responsibilities. And now, while she is a girl, she is forming the character that shall be hers through womanhood. Her ideals are shaping her life.
What is an ideal woman? What sort of woman do you most admire? Who among your acquaintances seems the most admirable to you? Consider her life-work, her manner of speech, her influence upon those about her. Think of her as a housewife and a mother. Is your ideal woman loud-spoken or is her voice low-pitched and sweet? Does she criticize others quickly and sharply or has she always a good word for everyone? Is her dress quiet and befitting or dashing and bold? Is she conspicuous for the ornaments and jewels upon her person or is her adornment that of a quiet, meek Christian spirit? Is she a leader in society or a quiet homebody? Is she a teacher, a housewife, or businesswoman? Is she an actress, or a movie star? Is she earnest and sincere or vain and frivolous? Whatever she is you admire, she is your ideal, and deep in your heart you wish to be like her. Because she is your ideal your pattern of womanhood you will be putting on ways like hers.
Out of these many traits, let us together choose the ideal woman.
First of all, she should be earnest and sincere. Our truly ideal woman will not be silly or frivolous, nor will she be guilty of actions that appear vulgar or unwomanly. She must be sweet-voiced and gentle how a loud, boisterous woman jars on our feelings! She must always have a kind word for others not a person who will unjustly criticize behind your back. Her clothes are womanly and befitting, for our ideal woman will not wear anything that will cause others to jest and joke at her appearance! She will be known for the beauty of her character rather than the richness of her clothing or ornaments. Her face may be pretty or it may not be. She should be home-loving, and a lover of little children. She must be tenderhearted and sympathetic. She must be the kind of woman to whom one could come with her troubles, true-hearted and loyal in friendship, never breaking faith. She must be a Christian, serving God sincerely.
With such a pattern before her, any girl will be safe. But girls are liable, if they are not guided carefully, to become blinded by the glitter and gloss of things that are not pure gold. The dressy, extravagant woman, the social queen, or the girl seen oftenest on the screen at the picture show becomes brighter lit than the noble women whose lives are counting for good. You, my little friend, choose well; for she whom you choose as your ideal, becomes your pattern.
A noble ideal is worth striving for. The best cannot be obtained without great effort. Effort costs something. We do not drift to the best that is in us but we gain the higher places by steep, hard climbing. Every girl has much within her to be overcome and much to be developed. If her ideals lie in gaining culture and education then must come years of hard study and application. If her aspirations run out to music, drawing, painting, sculpture these accomplishments are perfected only after years of hard work. Does she aspire to be a housewife and mother? Then she must learn those homely arts that are woman's part in homemaking.
Perhaps this latter vocation takes more earnest application and persistent effort than any other for home touches the life so closely everywhere. Does our girl aspire to be pure and noble? Then she must give up all that defiles, and leave it out of her life.
It is not enough to have good ideals. There must be a careful and persistent effort to live up to them. To keep these ideals perfect, often costs the sacrifice of other things that seem pleasant. Like the merchant of old who found a pearl of greatest price and sold all that he had to purchase it so a girl, to keep her ideals pure, must be willing to give for that all else. And a girl will sacrifice much for her ideal, be it good or bad.
It is not enough to strive for a life morally pure and noble. That is good; but the truly ideal life, is one lived for God. A life which does not in word and deed reflect the life and teachings of Christ, fails that much in being ideal.
I never think of one who stands by her Christian ideals but that I remember a girl I knew years ago. She was a happy, blue-eyed girl with high ideals of morality and godliness, and with a purpose to be true to these in all her conduct. She had kept company with a young man for some time and they had become engaged to be married, and she gave him her whole heart's love. But he was not a Christian, and as their acquaintance became more intimate, he saw more and more her determination to be guided in everything by her pattern, Christ. He loved the things of this life and desired that their lives together should be mirthful and full of worldly pleasure, while he saw plainly that her mind ran to things spiritual. He thought it best for them to understand before marriage, that their lives were not to be pious but should be given to the things he loved. So one evening he told her plainly his position.
Her blue eyes opened wide in astonishment that he should set before her such a choice; for he had said that if she were not willing to give up her Christianity she must give him up. She was disappointed, for she had hoped to win him for the Lord. But her answer came firmly from her heart, "I will not give up my Lord for any man." This decision cost her his friendship and the fulfillment of all the hopes and plans they had built but she had in her heart the consciousness of having stood by her convictions.
And you, too, must stand by your convictions at the cost of things you love. An ideal is worth little, if it is not worth wholehearted, honest effort. Nothing is more pitiful than a woman whose mind admires purity and right yet whose will is too weak to choose them and whose life is blighted by the sin and mire about her. Be true, be noble, aim high and God will give you strength to keep your ideals!
"If anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules." 2 Timothy 2:5
After discussing Ideals, it seems right that we should next consider her sister, Ambition. They are much alike yet they are very different. Ideals are mental pictures, which, without the aid of Ambition, and that stronger characteristic yet, Purpose, would remain upon the walls of your mind until they faded away with age, and would never change the course of your life.
But Ambition comes in with eager desire and strives to make these pictures come true in life. Ambition is the ever seeking that which is just ahead and out of reach. To her who is following after ambition there is no stopping, no lying down, no being quiet; but she must pursue her dreams and force them to come true. She sees no chance of failure if she strives.
We generally speak of ambition as eager desire for preferment, honor, or power. She who is ambitious desires the best for herself. She wishes to rise high, to accomplish things, to be useful, and to be a person of some account in the world. She abhors stagnation and uselessness.
There are two kinds of ambition:
1. The one is right and just, and a necessity to the growth and development of any person. Without right ambitions, life must be a failure. This ambition makes a girl want to bring out the best that is in her. She who is fired by these desires, will work and labor and study that she may advance, and grow in learning and ability. She is not thinking particularly of outstripping others but of going to the highest point possible for herself. She is able all the time to appreciate the efforts and successes of others, and rejoices in their advancement. Such ambition can never be wrong.
2. But the other ambition rises from a different motive. The desire is not so much for goodness and excellence in themselves as for the honor and praise such excellence might bring. Such selfish ambition is satisfied with that which is inferior if it only surpasses what others have. In fact, this ambition feeds only on the failure and discomfiture of others. She who possesses it wants to outshine her peers, to rise higher, to be more in the limelight than the rest. This ambition will cause a girl to steal, or even to sell her honor, that she may have means to clothe herself better than others. And those who are fired with this unholy ambition, will not shrink from perjury and falsehood to put down one who is opposed to them or promises to outstrip them.
Every girl's ambitions run more freely in certain directions. She who lives on a lower level, is ambitious to be pretty, witty, and attractive. She is busy trying to win the praise and flattery of her acquaintances, to be thought the most beautiful, the most attractive, the best dressed, the best liked, the most-sought-after girl of her set. And if she gains her goal and realizes the fullness of her ambitions, she has but a handful of empty husks for her reward.
Other ambitions rise to a higher level, and the girl moved by them seeks to have ability in some useful and remunerative occupation. She seeks to become a nurse, or physician, a businesswoman or teacher, or to be a good housewife and mother. These are all good, noble callings, and if followed after with honest ambition and purpose, will bring usefulness and happiness into her life.
But the highest ambition asks that the life of our girl be given for the good of mankind, that she be of all the service possible and in the best possible manner. If this ambition is linked with a life wholly given to God then all her life will be indeed worthwhile!
Now we come to unrequited ambitions. We look upon those things that have been desired and attempted but never attained or accomplished. If these disappointments could all be brought together into one great pile, the mountain would fill all the earth!
Here is . . .
the girl who wanted to go to college but had to begin teaching grade school;
the boy who wanted to be a doctor but was forced by circumstances to keep right on at the farm work;
the man who in youth desired to be a great traveler but who has never been out of his home state;
the woman who wanted to be a great writer but whose hands are busy only with the cares of an unappreciative household.
Few there are indeed who have been able to accomplish all they desired, and whose ambitions have been realized in life.
But this picture is not all dark. Youth is so short, and lacks so much in experience, and is able to look only one way and therefore is liable to mistakes. The ambitions may be running in directions that are practically impossible of accomplishment, or may be ambitions which, if realized, would not be the best for the individual. So it is well that over us a wise Providence guides and directs, suiting to each one of us the path that is ours through life. It is only when ambition dies and we cease to care or try, that our lives become useless.
Suppose the fire hidden away in the furnace should go out because it cannot realize its ambition of setting the mill on fire! Or suppose the mainspring of the watch should break because it cannot become the hands or face. Mill and watch would stop; for these hidden forces held so resolutely in check are what move them. And so the life that seems to be hampered and held back from doing what it desires to do may be the very one that is furnishing force for others to work upon. Let ambition burn; never give up; fight against the odds that are against you, and you will grow stronger for what you have conquered.
I would have you ambitious so long as your ambitions are just and noble but I would not have you rise by putting others down. If ambition should die in youth, or if youth should lack ambition, the wheels of progress would stop, all the wisdom and knowledge of the world would grow dim and pass away, and man would sink to his lowest level. But so long as the eye of youth is fired with those inner flames of ambition and purpose, and there are fields of knowledge and understanding yet to be explored that long will the world's work move on unhindered.
The Power of Purpose
"Paul . . . encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord." Acts 11:23
Much depends upon the height of the aspirations to which the mind and heart go in girlhood. The dreams of doing or being that which is noble and great, of accomplishing much are a spur to every girl. And would you, my dreamers, have your dreams come true? There are three things which in the life of any girl will make her a success. The first two we have already discussed, pure ideals, and noble ambitions, and the third is a strong purpose.
It is almost impossible to estimate the power of purpose in life. Things thought out of reach have been accomplished through strong purpose. Kingdoms have been torn down and built again; heathen customs have been uprooted and the light of Christianity put in their places; men born under the bondage of hard and unfavorable circumstances, have risen above their environments and become powers in the world; the mysteries of the earth and sky have been sought out and their power put to work for mankind. Yes, every great and noble deed that has ever been done has had for its captain and soldiers men and women of strong purpose.
A purpose in life gives something to live for, something to work for, and something to hope for. If the purpose is for good cause, then the evil that would hinder can be overcome and the good prevail. But without this strong purpose, the individual becomes but a creature of circumstance, a leaf tossed by the waves of life.
The power of purpose, is the power of love. No man can cleave to any purpose with all his heart, unless he loves the cause for which he strives. He must so love that cause that to give it up would be like giving up his very life.
I once read of a woman upon a lonely ranch in a foreign land. Her husband had to go away for a week or more, leaving her alone for that time with her little children. He had not been gone long before she was bitten by a poisonous serpent, and she knew that in a few hours, not more than eight, she must die. She remembered her children, and that if they were to be kept safe, she must in the time left her, draw enough water and bake enough bread to supply them until their father returned, or he might find his family all dead. So she worked and prayed that day, sick, fainting, almost unconscious; but love set her purpose strong, and she struggled on. Night came, and her hours were nearly up. She put her babes in bed, and wandered out of sight of the cabin to die but with a determination to live as long as possible for her children's sake. And morning found her still alive, still walking, and her system beginning to clear from the poison. She lived to tell the story, a monument to the power of a loving purpose.
Those who have made a success in anything, have done so because they set about the task with purpose. All the great machines that lighten the burden of labor in the fields and shops and factories, are the result of the steady purpose of their inventors. No man or woman has become of note in any work or field of research, but has worked on with steady purpose when circumstances were discouraging. They loved sincerely the cause for which they labored, and they gave it their attention in spite of all that came to hinder them.
And you, my little friend, can make your life successful if you set to it with the power of purpose. When you know what your chosen field is, where your lifework will be, and what you want your life to accomplish set to with all your might and fight until the victory comes.
But make your purpose worthy. It is a shame to waste the power of energy of purpose, upon those things that are selfish and of little worth. Undertake great things, things that make one's life bigger and broader, and that are a blessing to others.
One writer has said that without a strong and noble purpose a person is like a lizard, content to stay in the mud; and strong purpose helps him to rise like the eagle out of the shadows of the valleys up to the sunlight on the mountaintops, and to claim them as his own. Every life that has been a failure, has been so because of the lack of purpose behind it. Success is not always counted by dollars, nor by worldly honors but in the achievement of noble and unselfish purposes.
It is purpose in life that gives an individual decision and determination. Every one of us must meet hard things. Success does not come down upon us as rain out of the skies. If we are to have success, we must draw it ourselves, out of the wells of life. If we are only half in earnest and our purpose is only a desire, then when the sun comes down upon us burning and smothering us, and we feel tired from our efforts we will give up. But if our desire becomes a steady purpose to be successful in the thing we have undertaken, then we will not mind the sun and the heat and our weariness but will work on with our purpose before us. We will keep a strong determination to succeed in what we have undertaken.
Success depends upon your purpose in life. I shall ask you again:
What are you living for?
What is your purpose in life?
When I last talked with my friend Betty on this subject, she folded her hands and laughed as she said, "I just live and have a good time. I really have no thoughts about these things." And there are myriads of girls just like her. But sometime she will awaken to her responsibility, for her mother is yet the one whose purpose and decision are the groundwork of success in Betty's life. Sometime, all you girls with patient, firm, determined mothers, will waken to see that they were not just trying to hamper your good times by their much overseeing of your affairs but that they were holding to a wise and loving purpose to see you safely into womanhood.
I think that mothers see the hardest times when the girls set with purpose of heart to have their own way in something foolish and wrong. When two strong purposes come together, the battle waxes hot. Do you wonder what sometimes makes mothers sigh? You have the reason right here.
You have heard the little poem about the man who undertook to do a thing that could not be done and did it.
Have a purpose and stay with it. Keep on going.
Do you have dreams? I do not mean dreams when you are asleep but those glorious ones that come when you are awake, where you are accomplishing the things you like to do, always succeeding in all your undertakings dreams in which you taste the sweets of love and praise and beauty, where your upward way is lined with achievements, and failures are never known. What a foolish question for me to ask a girl! I might as well ask if you eat or sleep. You would be just as natural a girl without doing either, as to live without dreaming.
Dreams are as much a part of your youth, as are your fair skin and sparkling eyes. It is impossible to think of a girl into whose life no bright dreams come. Such a life would be dark indeed.
Dreams have a large place in character building. In them the dreamer works out many problems and comes to decisions as to what is right and wrong in many changing circumstances.
If a girl will watch her dreams, she may know what kind of creature she is. If her dreams are of social conquests, fine clothes, and a life of gaiety that is what she is in her heart, though her life may be ever so humdrum, she will never be happy until she gets these things she dreams of. She is fitting herself to be satisfied with nothing but that of which she dreams. Her nature is being shaped to fit that kind of life. And how little such a life brings in real happiness! After the best that it can give is all devoured the heart is left as empty and hungry as before. Such dreams are so much wasted time.
Perhaps her dreams are of romance and love, and she builds great castles in the air around that time in her life when one shall come who looks upon her as the best and most to be desired of all earthly creatures. She clothes him in the richest of garments and in fine carriages, and he carries her to riches and luxury. She is all outside the plain life as she finds it. Her eyes are large and dreamy as she looks into the magical future to which she is coming. Such dreams are foolish and silly, and never build up good, sound common sense. They unfit the girl for usefulness and make her unable to appreciate the good about her. She will pass by true love with a frown of disgust while she is waiting for her love dream to come true. Such dreaming is not only wasting time but is making the character soft and mushy.
Again, the girl's dreams are of the time when she shall have a true lover, a husband, a home, and children. She looks ahead in her dreams and sees how she wishes to be a true wife, a good mother, and to fill the place honorably. She, in her dreams, sees many of the very circumstances that have come up in the lives of men and women around her, and works out these problems, always with the thought of God and right. She never allows herself to dream of being other than a true woman, behaving in a womanly way. Such dreams, if not carried to excess, are true character builders. A girl should look ahead to what she expects in life, and endeavor to fit herself to fill the place as it should be filled.
Yet again, a girl may allow her dreams to dwell upon things that are not pure, and she may sip of forbidden pleasures through her imaginations. It is possible for her to become vile in her heart, with a mind as foul as the vilest character on the street and yet live apparently a pure life, just by unclean dreaming. Such a girl has all her guards down and will, when the temptation comes strong, fall into acts of sin, as well as thoughts of sin. Such dreams are sinful in the extreme and cannot be found in the girlhood beautiful.
Other girls dream of success in business undertakings, or in some other chosen field of work. They not only dream but set to work to make those dreams come true. I will say that no girl has ever made a success at anything in which her dreams have not gone ahead to brighten the way before her. She has been able to dream dreams when the circumstances around her were all against their fulfillment. They have given her courage and strength by the way. Such dreams are always good.
And again, we find some girls who feel deep in their hearts a desire for usefulness in some special way in the world. They want to be nurses, or teachers, or missionaries, or gospel workers. Every dream of theirs, is of the day when they may be at these things. And, true to their calling, they endeavor to make their lives bend toward those ends. Every glorious life lived unselfishly in toil on these chosen fields, is the fruit of these dreams. Without the dream, the girl would never have undergone the work and hardship of preparation and service. Would that every girl had some such dream to beckon her on.
Mary Slessor, the "White Queen of Okoyong," from childhood dreamed herself a missionary in Africa. It is my privilege to know personally women who have given a large portion of their lives to gospel and missionary work, and they tell me of their dreams, which became more than dreams.
WHY do girls dream? Because all life is before them, and they cannot but anticipate the future that awaits them. Youth is the time for making ready and why should a girl not try to get some idea of the thing for which she is making ready? She is like a person standing upon the shore watching her ship come in. What goes on around her is of little account; all her riches lie out there in the deep, in that slowly approaching ship. So the girl stands and looks forward. All that has been in her life, and all that is now, are only passing and of little weight; her riches and joys lie in the ship just ahead.
Dream, my little friend, dream! But guide your dreams, lest they wander off into forbidden paths. And do not let your dreams consume time that should be given to present service. The girl who sits and dreams of the good things she is going to do, while she lets her mother overwork for lack of her help now is making poor progress in the fulfillment of her dreams. The girl who dreams of the time when she, a woman, will be kind and gracious to all, one who is loved for her thoughtfulness and gentle ways and yet who gives place now to sharp words and impatience, is wasting her time. The only dreams that are worthwhile, are those that can be, and are, worked out in practical, everyday life.
A girl will dream; she cannot help it. She may let her mind wander on, wasting the strength and power that might come from proper musings as the power of the waterfall is wasted until it is harnessed and put to work. The true character builder harnesses her dreams and makes them work for her, building up pure ideals and a strong purpose to make those dreams come true.
Dream but let the dreams be of usefulness and service, of purity and truth. Look away to the mountain heights, and, after looking, climb, climb, climb! Make your dreams come true. You can do it, if they are the right kind. God bless the girl with noble dreams.
"A friend loves at all times." Proverbs 17:17
Friendship is a wonderful thing. The love of a friend is often stronger than the love of a brother or a sister. There is a cord of tenderness and appreciation binding those who are friends, which is lovely beyond words to express it. Every true-hearted girl loves her friends with a devotion that beautifies her life and enlarges her heart. She who is unable to be true in friendship, has little of value in her.
A friendship does not grow up spontaneously. It must have a good soil in which to take root, good seed from which to start, and care and cultivation, in order to become its best.
The good soil is sincerity and truth, coupled with kindness and affection.
The good seed is love and appreciation.
It must be watched closely that no weeds of jealousy or envy creep in.
The soil must be constantly stirred by kind acts, words of appreciation and affection, and mutual admiration.
There dare be no selfish interests nor evil suspicions in true friendship.
The smallest bit of mistrust will blight it like frost.
Friendship is beautiful but it is a tender plant.
An old friend is more to be prized than a new one. The longer friendship stands, the stronger it becomes, if it is the genuine kind. New friends spring up and fall away but old friends cling to you through all times, good and bad. Hold fast your old friends, and those who have been friends to your father before you. They have your interests at heart. They will judge kindly, when new friends condemn.
A person is either made better or worse by his friends. If they are well chosen and faithful then they build up and make strong the best that is in one. But if they are unwisely chosen then they drag down and destroy all that is pure within. For a girl will be like her friends. Show me the friends of a girl, those whom she most appreciates and I will tell you what kind of girl she is, though I never see her. Noble girls have friends who are pure, upright, sincere. Girls who are careless of their deportment and reputation, have just the other kind. You will find them seeking friends among those who are vain-minded. A girl cannot rise higher than the level of her friends. Either they will lift her up or she will descend to their level.
A girl should have many friends but only a very few intimate friends. There is an inner circle into which a girl with true womanly instinct cannot invite many. Her nature is such that she must have a confidant, one to whom she feels free to tell out her heart's deepest secrets; but she is foolish indeed, who tries to be thus confidential with many. The safest girl is the one who makes her mother her most confidential friend.
Every girl wants an intimate friend. A friend used in the right way is a good thing in any girl's life. But there is a friendship that is detrimental in the extreme. When a friend comes into a girl's heart closer than any other person, and to that friend is told every little secret, not only of the teller but of her family also, and into her ears is poured out every bit of gossip and slander the girl hears that friend is a detriment. When two girls plan together against the laws and management of their homes, vowing undying fidelity to each other in their secrets friends become a menace indeed!
But when two girls can be understanding friends, each able to go to the other for help and encouragement, and whose plans and lives are kept open for the inspection of interested mothers such friendships are good.
Fickleness in friendship is a common girlish fault. Youth changes so fast that she who pleases for a while, soon becomes dull. For a few weeks or months the vials of love and devotion are poured out on the chosen friend, and then in a moment of misunderstanding the cords are broken, and in another day bound upon another friend. To the new friend are poured out all the secrets gained from the old friend, and so the gossip grows. A girl who will become "miffed" with her friend, and tell what she has sacredly promised to keep secret, is not worthy of being called a friend.
Some girls take their girlhood friendships too seriously. They allow a sentimental love to bind itself around a friend so that a few weeks of separation may cause "oceans of tears" to be shed. The red-eyed one goes about feeling herself a martyr to love, when she is only catering a foolish sentiment. In friendship, be sensible.
When girls have friends among the men and boys, even more care should be used in their selection and treatment, than when with girls. There is only a small margin between the love of friendship and romance; and what the girl may have begun only as friendship, may develop into something more serious.
Again, if a girl will make herself too familiar in her friendships with the other gender, she is liable to give them a wrong impression of her. They may interpret her friendship to mean that she has let down some of her womanly guards and does not expect to be treated with the deference and respect usually given to noble women. Any girl is in a dangerous position, when she gets this reputation.
When girls work and play with men and boys, as they all will do sometime or other they should be sociable, friendly, even jolly in their association together but never should girls forget that it is their place to avoid and resent any bold familiarity, and that every true man or boy will respect them for keeping up their guards.
True friendship will never ask a woman to step down from her womanly dignity and discretion. She holds her honor, and her appearance of honor, higher than everything else.
My dear friend, choose your friends carefully, and keep them loyal. While you are kind to those who have fallen, remember that it is not for you, a young girl, to raise them up by seeking their company. You are too easily drawn away yourself. Let your close friends be chosen from among those whom you can admire and emulate, that is, those whose conversation and deportment will lead you godward instead of down. Keep in mind, of course, the two classes of friends: that outward group to whom you are always sociable and friendly and the inner group with whom you become really intimate.
One should be friends with those who need friendship even if they are not so desirable but no girl can become intimate with people of low standards and morals, without becoming contaminated.
If you are a young Christian, seek out friends among those who are sincere in Christian service and keep out of the company of those who draw your mind away from things that are wholesome.
Old friends of your parents who have proved themselves true in all circumstances in the past respect and cherish also, though they may seem odd and out of fashion now. Those who have loved and advised your father and your mother, will be all the more careful in advising you. Though they be plain people and little used to the things common to you listen to them and use their advice as far as you can.
Be a true friend yourself. Never let it be said that in you was placed confidence which was not deserved. "A man who has friends, must show himself friendly." Proverbs 18:24
An Accomplished Girl
"She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness." Proverbs 31:27
I read in the society column of a paper, the praises of somebody's daughter in which she was referred to as an accomplished young woman, and the reason given for calling her by this high-sounding term, lay in the fact that she could sing and play piano well, paint, spoke three languages, etc.
I could but smile as I read; for from my point of view, these are not the accomplishments which a girl needs the most. Such things are good in their place, and if girl can gain them she is fortunate; but the best accomplishments are in the reach of every energetic, enterprising girl.
First of all a girl should know how to keep a clean and orderly house. She should not only know how a room should look after it is put in order but she should by actually doing it know the work necessary in bringing that condition about. She should know how to make beds, sweep and dust, and other hard work necessary to keeping a house in order. It should not be below her dignity to know the use of the scrub brush and mop. Though she may not do the work regularly, she should know how and be able to fill the place when necessary.
The girl should be able to cook good, nourishing meals. It is not enough that she can make fudge and salad and cake. She should be able to cook vegetables and meats in an appetizing manner.
The girl should be able to launder her own clothes, and do it well. The steam will not ruin her complexion, nor will her hands be spoiled by the process. And she will have a great deal more sympathy for the one whose life is made up of hard work, if she occasionally feels the backache that comes from this kind of labor.
Our girl should know how to sew, and to mend. It takes time and patience to learn these things but it pays in the long run. There are few girls who have never come to a time when these things were necessary.
The girl may plead that she does not need to do this kind of work, that her father is able to hire it to be done. That may be true; but it is also true that many girls who began life in just such an easy way, have come to circumstances where they could not afford hired help. I shall never forget the discomfiture of one dear girl who had become quite accomplished on other lines but had not learned these homey arts, and did not begin to learn them until she had two small children to care for. Small help her music and painting were then! She needed just the things we have been talking about now.
Our accomplished girl should know how to take care of her own body, keeping it clean and in a healthy condition. All her learning will be of little service, if she is sickly and weak.
Our girl should learn some useful way of wage-earning, so that in case of necessity, she will be able to earn her own way. Such things happen in life, when the girl all sheltered from danger and hardship is pushed out by the hand of providence; and if she is not able to do something that will bring her a livelihood, her lot is a sad one indeed!
And every girl should have a education in economics, or at least an understanding of common business methods. Many are the women who face the world in terror, because they must do business and have no idea of how it is done.
These things I have been talking about constitute, it seems to me, a real foundation for true and noble accomplishments, and all that a girl can learn over and above these is that much to her praise and credit.
She should know how to entertain guests. According to her place in life, she should be able to be hostess to her friends and those who come within her gates, and do it with ease and grace.
Although girls of today are entering open doors of opportunity everywhere, becoming teachers, businesswomen, and social leaders yet most of them will after all, in time become homemakers and mothers. And since this is the life work of the many, ought not they all to be accomplished in those things they will need the most? Since practically all girls have a home to learn these things in, ought they not to take advantage of their opportunities? The world will call the woman accomplished, who can take her place in the social life and work of the world but let us not forget these homey accomplishments, which are the real foundations of woman's work and place in life.
The Oils of Life
"Do not let kindness and truth leave you. Bind them around your neck write them on the tablet of your heart!" Proverbs 3:3
The great engine upon the track might have every part complete, with fire in the box and steam in the boiler but it will not go as it should, unless it is well-oiled. While perfect workmanship and steam are all necessary, the oil is needed also.
Just so it is with our lives. We may build high ideals and have lofty aspirations; we may do many good deeds and be prepared for usefulness in many ways but if there is not in our lives the oils that lubricate the machinery of life, we shall be unable to make progress.
You have heard the creak and groan of wheels that needed oil, and you may have tried to use a machine whose oil cups had become dry, friction dragging the whole machine.
Unoiled lives are just the same running hard, with much complaining. You can tell them by their lamentations and murmurings, and by the friction they produce.
There is the oil of kindness, which should go down into the heart, and which, working out from there, will make the daily life go smoothly. In fact, this oil is of little use if it does not go down into the heart; for any that is only put on the tongue or over some special act for the time being, will soon wear off and leave the machine as creaky as before! But she who gets kindness down into her heart, will find it working out in her words and actions until she becomes a constant blessing in the household.
One who has kindness of heart, is able to look upon the failings of others with compassion and patience, for she remembers that she herself is not without fault. She who has this precious oil in her life, is not saying cutting things and giving way to hard speeches, which wound and hurt her companions.
Another oil very good to put on with kindness is called politeness. Used alone it does not do thorough work, because it does not reach every part. It will help in conduct toward those who are higher or of more apparent importance but the tongue and actions will be rough as toward the poor and old and weak. But politeness with kindness makes a very smooth and pleasant combination of oils. Only when politeness is used in this way, will it show a genuine noble character. Little courtesies help along very much in oiling life.
"Thank you," and, "If you please," are two short phrases that oil a request and make it smooth and pleasing to the one receiving it. "I beg your pardon," and, "Please excuse me," are two more little polite remarks that make good lubricants.
To rise and give your seat to an older person; to show particular courtesy to the aged; to speak respectfully to and about the old and infirm, are little things but they make glad the hearts of the aged pilgrims through life, and cause their faces to shine. It has been said that these little courtesies are like air cushions, nothing in them yet they ease the jars of life immensely. Let us have plenty of them, to help us over the bumps of life.
Kind thoughts are also a good oil to place on troubled waters. If one will, by God's help, always keep her thoughts of those around her kind and forgiving, no matter how trying things may be then she can go along without friction. Every unkind word and act is the result of some unkind thought! And some of these thoughts bear fruit almost immediately. So long as I can keep a thought of kindness in my heart, I can treat everyone well.
Patience is another oil much needed in life's machinery. There is so much which tends to annoy and fret a girl, which goes crosswise to what she wants it to go; there are so many days that she has to spend doing things she does not care to do, so many disappointments and little vexing things that if she does not keep well oiled with patience, she is liable to become cross and sharp-spoken!
When anyone in a home runs low with patience, it is keenly felt by all the rest. The expression of the countenance, the tone of the voice, the manner of speaking all tell instantly that patience has run low.
Every girl needs a good supply of this precious lubricant, which not only smooths the rough places but gives to the life a fragrance that is very pleasant. She who is both kind and patient, is always desirable.
Thoughtfulness and consideration are two more oils needed in any home. The members of a family live so closely together, that when one member is rusty it affects all the rest, more or less. On the other hand, if the daughter of a family can keep always well oiled in tongue and spirit with kindness, thoughtfulness, and patience her sunny, pleasant smile will drive the shadows away and bring the sunlight into the home.
When I find that I am getting sore and fretted with the annoyance of someone rubbing me the wrong way, I may know that my oil is getting low; for when I have plenty of the oils of life, I can stand a great deal of rubbing, without getting peevish. And again, if I find I am rubbing someone else until he or she is getting all worn, I had better look at myself; it may be that I am rough and need to stop the friction of my own acts, with more oil.
The place to go to get fresh supplies of these precious oils is at God's throne of grace. Every girl who will seek may have from Him all the grace she needs to keep her life running sweet and smooth in her home and in her school, or wherever she may be. Or if she must be with those who are full of friction and strife, she may, in spite of it all, be so covered with the precious, gentle oils that the sweetness and smoothness of her life will have a quieting effect on all around her!
"She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all!" Proverbs 31:27-29
Not every language has a word equivalent to the English word home but instead use a word meaning house. How much more, the thought of home brings to our minds, than merely the thought of the house in which we live! The beloved ones living there and our associations with each other, our hopes and fears and joys and sorrows all mingle together in one place of love and rest and sweet communion home!
Home is a little community with authority, laws, and citizens each having a part to perform that life there may be perfect. The form of government in this community is very simple. Father and Mother begin a partnership in which each has responsibilities and rights. There have to be laws to govern the conduct of this community as it grows in numbers and responsibilities and authority to execute these laws. It is just as impossible for a home to be safe and happy without its members obeying the rules of right behavior as for a nation to be safe without laws and government.
To be able to fit into the home-life and to adjust ourselves to its requirements, is one of the best traits of beautiful girlhood. This is not always accomplished without a struggle on the girl's part; for when the years of fickle, changing youth are with a girl, she finds that something in her nature rebels against the restraints of home. She finds that in many instances, she would take a different course from what her parents are taking, that what seems most needful to them and upon which they insist seems needless and superficial to her; while other things which she thinks are very necessary they call foolish and silly. She wants to do many things of which they do not approve and will not permit and require of her what is irksome and hard. She feels as if she were being pressed into a mold that does not fit while her whole heart cries out for freedom to come and go and do as she pleases.
Some girls accept their own point of view as correct, and contend and argue for their own way until all the beauty and peace of the home-life is destroyed. This is a grievous mistake, and one that can bring only sorrow and regret in its wake. Other girls despondently give up to their parents' way and develop no mind or character of their own. This, too, is a mistake, which weakens the nature of any girl.
But other girls submit to their parents because it is right that they should do so yet holding, weighing, and considering their own opinions, really trying to learn what is best. A girl who will do this, will soon develop judgment and discretion that her parents will be glad to honor.
I have in mind now a sweet girl of eighteen who for two years and more has not only helped to earn the family living, but has done practically all the buying and planning of the younger children's clothes. Her mother is not afraid to trust the care of the children to her when they go out, nor does she fear that her oldest daughter will misbehave when not in her presence. She does practically as she pleases, because she has by thoughtful consideration developed judgment and wisdom sufficient to be given that liberty. How much of the happiness of this home rests at the door of this sweet girl, we cannot say.
The younger daughter in the home has it in her power to make home a sweet, comfortable place to live, where laughter and sunshine will cheer the cloudiest day. Or she may turn all its pleasures to bitterness and bring sorrow and heartache. If she can submit to her parents' control, can be obedient, kind, and thoughtful then she is a constant comfort. But if she is always contending and arguing, speaking up in a brash manner when she is crossed, or scolding and quarreling with the younger children then she makes home almost unbearable. If she has a separate set of manners for her own family, from what she uses when with company with her friends then she is a constant disappointment. I never like the blank look that a mother's face takes, when someone commends the gentle kindness of a daughter of this type. She does not wish to lower her daughter in her friend's estimation, nor can she heartily agree as to her daughter's kindness.
A girl should have her full share of responsibility in the home. She should go about her work willingly not as if it were an irksome duty which she was ill-disposed to perform. She should count herself one of the family, one of the children, having only equal rights and privileges with the rest.
A girl and her father should be good friends. Too often this is not the case but they live lives entirely apart from each other in interest and enjoyment. This is not always altogether the girl's fault but it is a condition she can remedy to a great extent by a little thoughtful kindness. Father very often has been too busy to keep acquainted with his growing daughters, and finds them rather out of his range. They seem as much strangers to him, as are their young friends whom he meets in the home. He thinks they do not care to have him around, and takes himself off to his room or chair or on the porch, and leaves them to themselves.
One girl who found herself thus a stranger to her father, formed the habit of going to meet him each evening at the door when he came home; and when she could she was at his office, so that they might walk the whole way home together. It was only a little while until this homecoming was the happiest part of both their days, and many loving confidences were exchanged, which would never have been possible without her first step.
Another family had the "father's hour," as they called it, the first hour after supper, and both he and the others planned their day to have this hour together. Fathers do like to be counted in. Any girl who will speak disrespectfully either to or of her father, is lacking in one of the first principles of real womanhood. She should always remember that Father has the right . . .
to direct her life,
to say what she shall and shall not do,
to forbid her to go anywhere that is not proper.
His word to her should be final. His approval to her should mean much.
The daughter and her mother come into closer relationship. They touch each other on many more points, than do daughter and her father. And if the daughter is safe from the temptations and allurements of sin around her, she is a girl who makes her mother her chief confidante. To her goes every secret, every hope, and every fear. All the perplexities of her young life, are threshed out by Mother's side.
But Mother has so much of her daughter's life to oversee, that it becomes irksome to the girl. When the girl is small, her mother is responsible for almost every act every hour of the day. She says how the child's hair shall be combed, what dress she shall wear, where she shall go, and what she shall do. This oversight does not end all at once, for the mother dare not let loose of the responsibility, until the girl is able to take hold of it. And as the changing over from complete supervision to self-direction is often a hard time for both mother and daughter, the early teens usually being the hardest struggle.
Let us think of a long bridge reaching across the years, one end of it resting on those approaching years from ten to twelve and the other end resting in the early twenties. When a girl begins to travel this bridge, her parents have her complete oversight and are wholly responsible for her. By the time she reaches the other end their, their responsibility ends, and she is on her own. Somewhere along that bridge, the reins of her life slip out of her parents' hands, and into her own.
The young person begins to feel the urge to be independent, grown up, and "on her own," and the parent tries to hold her back until she understands better. If parents always understood, they would give over responsibility just as fast as young folks could bear it but unfortunately parents do not always understand. If the girls understood, they would be more patient, for grown-up years will come in time to all. But since it is hard for both the parents and the girls to understand, there are a few years along in the teens, when some very hard struggles occur between parents and children.
One of the sweetest places a young girl may have in any home, is that of big sister. What a field of happiness and usefulness is open to the girl with little brothers and sisters! They are ready to look up to her as a guide and a pattern in everything. If she manages rightly, she can have unlimited influence with them.
Have you seen her, the ideal big sister?
She is ever ready to kiss away the bumps and bruises of little heads and hearts.
She knows just how to mend broken dolls and balls.
She likes to pop corn and make candy for the children to eat.
She knows such wonderful stories to tell or read.
She understands and is a companion for everyone of them.
Yes, many homes have just such older daughters as that!
The girl who is learning day by day to be a good daughter at home, and a good sister to the young children is also learning day by day how to make in time a good wife and a good mother! She is getting ready for the greatest work a woman can do.
It was a woman who had given her life for a noble and far-reaching work, and who had never married, who when commended for the much that she had accomplished said, "I would give it all for a pair of baby hands!"
There is no work so noble for any woman, as making a holy, true home for somebody. Every truly beautiful character, is at its best at home. Let us never neglect the home life!
A Girl's Ornaments
"Your 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 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
The girl is the woman to be and girlhood is the dressing room for womanhood. The godly woman has graces and powers of body, mind, and soul which make her able to be the mother of children, and to guide them into the right paths of life. Her example and influence are unbounded, not only in her own home, but in society in general. No girl can come to this complete womanhood, unless she uses the opportunities of girlhood rightly. If she does not develop a healthy, active body then she is handicapped through all her life. If she does not come to womanhood with a mind and soul that are clean and clear and properly directed then she cannot rightly fill her place. A vain, silly, giddy woman is just as unfitted for the responsibilities of life in mind and soul as a sick woman is in body. A right attitude toward her dress will not only help a girl to grow strong and vigorous in body but will aid her in growing strong and beautiful in mind and soul.
Let us always keep in mind that the noble woman is a Christian woman. To be a true Christian, is to follow the path in life which was mapped out for us in the life of Christ; and to show daily in life and manners, the graces and the spirit of Christ. He was "meek and lowly in heart," and showed always the opposite of vanity and pride.
Paul speaks to Christian women of the "ornament of a meek and quiet spirit." And the girl who is growing into a complete woman is noticed for her kindness, sympathy, gentleness, sweetness of spirit, and her willingness to be of service. There is about her a humility which makes you feel that she does not despise you and think you below her; that she is thinking rather of your happiness, than her own personal appearance.
These beautiful graces kindness, sympathy, humility, gentleness, and purity are the real ornaments of beautiful girlhood. But it is in the ornaments that clothe and beautify her soul and mind, which make her a lovable and desirable creature, who carries happiness and cheer wherever she goes. Seek first the more beautiful inner ornaments and then clothe the body so that those more important ornaments are not hidden.
Your clothes should not be conspicuous among your comrades, either as old-fashioned or odd, nor as being flamboyant or daring. It is not a trait of beautiful girlhood, to dress in a way to call forth coarse remarks and criticisms. It is impossible to point out certain things that are wrong, for a fad that is causing strong comment today, may in a few years be forgotten. But this principle always holds good: that our girls who are striving for a beautiful girlhood and a noble and useful womanhood, should always dress so as to appear modest and quiet and inconspicuous in their environments.
The same thing is true of the use of jewelry and any ornaments. For a girl to be wearing excessive jewelry and gems, gives her an appearance of pride and haughtiness that is not at all in keeping with a Christlike spirit, nor with a beautiful girlhood. To drape herself with jewelry, makes her appear silly and vain. But any girl can easily settle these matters for herself if she will keep in mind that her business is always to manifest the true ornaments of mind and soul and then be careful that in clothing and beautifying her body, she does not dim her more precious ornaments of the soul.
There is yet another angle regarding dress that our girls should keep in mind. Noble girls behaving as they should, are one of the strongest influences for good in the lives of their male associates; and every girl striving for a pure and beautiful girlhood, should not in dress or action do that which in any way lowers her in the estimation of clean-minded boys, nor causes her to become a temptation to those who are weak.
When a Girl Goes Out
"I have taught you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in right paths." Proverbs 4:11
I had gone out with Betty and Jean, two very dear young friends of mine, and we were comfortably settled in our places in the streetcar, when an exclamation from Betty made me look up. Coming into the car was a group of girls led by a pretty young creature yet in her teens. It was she who had called out the exclamation of my little friends. She greeted them cordially, and they introduced her to me as a schoolmate whom they had not seen for nearly a year.
While the girls talked, I could observe the new girl and her comrades. All of them had their cheeks painted red and their lips a deeper crimson than nature ever intended. Their dresses were cut in the latest fad and were startling in appearance, while extravagance in their general manners was very noticeable. They were giggling and simpering, purposely calling attention to themselves and enjoying that attention in every way showing themselves to be silly, vain creatures.
As well as I knew Betty and Jean, I found myself wondering if I had been mistaken in them, and if this was the type of girls they chose as friends, if in their hearts they were like this. The conversation lagged, and I caught my girls watching me with furtive glances as if trying to fathom my thoughts.
When we stood again on the street, the girls turned to me with flashing eyes and flushed cheeks and said almost in one breath, "I hope you do not think for one minute that we approve of those girls. We were glad to see Belle after such a long time but she used to be just like we are. What has changed her so? Why, she looks and acts like a bad girl."
My mind was relieved as to Betty and Jean's ideals but I could not refrain from pitying the girl who had brought upon herself their disapproval, and not only theirs but that of every right-thinking person. No girl would be classed among the purest and truest of women, who appears on the street as Belle and her companions had appeared. A girl is generally taken at her face value; that is, she is thought to be just what she appears to be. Some people will take time to know her as she is; but the great majority pass judgment on appearances only. Nor are they far wrong in doing so. There are not many of us who can for any long time keep up a false appearance. Our real selves will show through eventually.
The time was, when girls did not go out on the street and in public places as they do now. Even today in some Oriental countries, the women are kept secluded, and shut away from the eyes of all but their own family. When the Western nations broke away from these old customs of seclusion, they still kept their wives and daughters away from public life. But all that is changed now, and women and girls go upon the street and in public places as freely as do the men. This change in customs gives the girls many outlets for their energies and efforts, which formerly were closed to them; but it also gives them many more temptations.
You who are living through a beautiful girlhood, want to know how to use these new opportunities and yet escape the temptations that they bring.
When a girl dresses to go on the street, she should prepare herself in befitting dress, being neither untidy nor conspicuous for the brightness and gaudiness of her clothes. She should remember that upon the street she meets all kinds of people, and among them will be some who would put an evil construction upon any carelessness in this respect. It is for her protection and good name, that we would insist upon a street dress that is modest and unassuming. The more simple the street dress, the better it is. Also, her hair should be done in a simple manner and such as is befitting to her face and years. She should strive to look just what she is a quiet, unassuming girl going about her own affairs.
The cheeks and lips painted a scarlet beyond anything nature would ever give, is bad taste at any time, and is an index to a vain and foolish heart, and will not be found in beautiful girlhood. Good health and perfect cleanliness will bring a rosiness and flush to both cheek and lip, that is far more beautiful than anything that can be rubbed on.
When the girl is on the street or in public places she should never laugh nor talk loudly. To do so will only call upon her undesirable attention and criticism, and it is a sign of vulgarity. A real lady will not do so. Neither will she be giggling and simpering, nor in any of her conduct will she seek to draw attention to herself. She will not act boisterous nor rowdy, nor keep the company of those who so act. There will be something about her, which is a reproof to those who would be boisterous.
A girl should never loiter about public places, when she has no business calling her there. If she does so, she is forced into temptation and made an object of criticism, which will in time bring her into very undesirable situations. One girl, a very young girl, who had formed the habit of loitering about a depot at train time, picking up a conversation with some of the men she met there (thinking only of the fun there was in it), had the following experience:
One day a gentleman alighted from a train which was waiting for the passengers to eat. He began walking up and down the platform. He was fine looking and soon attracted the attention of this girl. She watched him furtively out of the corner of her eye, coughed a little, and laughed merrily and a trifle loudly with a group of her acquaintances; but at first he paid no attention. This piqued her, and she made more ardent efforts to attract his attention; for her companions were teasing her about her failure to "land her catch." Her power of attraction was being tested.
At last he noticed, turned, and sought her out and came directly to her and her foolish little heart was all in a flutter at her success. She meant to do no more than to chat with him a few moments, and by so doing satisfy her vanity as to her attractiveness, and clear herself of the charge of weakness the girls had teasingly made.
"My dear girl," he said, tipping his hat, "have you a mother at home?"
"Why, yes," the girl stammered.
"Then go to her and tell her to keep you with her, until you learn how you ought to behave in a public place," and saying this he turned and left her in confusion and shame. It was a hard rebuke; but this man had told her only what every pure-minded man and woman was thinking. Girls can hardly afford to call down upon themselves such severe criticism.
A young man was walking down the street of a small city, intent only upon his own affairs; but he happened to be good-looking, and a group of schoolgirls spied him. One of them expressed her decision to make his acquaintance and find out who he was. She and her companions walked rapidly and overtook him, and passed him, laughing merrily and managing to catch his eye as they passed. Then they loitered until he had to pass them in getting to the corner, when he turned off on purpose to avoid them. They followed him and passed him again, and this time the girl who was leading the attack was more bold in catching his eye, and with a glance challenged him to speak.
He saw the challenge and flushed. He had sisters at home, and had been taught the proper respect for women by a godly mother. Stopping, he addressed her with a smile that was not merry, and she, thinking she was about to accomplish her foolish design, waited for him to speak. He said, "My young friend, you are not a bad girl but you are acting like one. It is only a little way on the path you are going to where you will be what you pretend to be now. Promise me that you will never, as long as you live, do as you have done this evening but that you will be a true and noble woman." He waited a little for her to answer, turning his head so as not to see the painful flush on her face, for he was right, she was not a bad girl, just a silly one.
"I promise you," she said faintly, and he turned and passed on, and the group of humbled girls hurried home.
If all men were as these two gentlemen, girls would not be in the danger that they are in from an unguarded act; but these were exceptions. While these two men set the girls back to right paths, too many would have led them on to sinful depths.
There is no more beautiful adornment to womanly character than purity. A girl does well, to see that everything which concerns her dress and behavior when away from her home is pure, noble, modest, and quiet. Though she should have to pass by many things that other girls count fun times, she will in the end be far happier.
A New Awakening
"Remember your Creator in the days of your youth." Ecclesiastes 12:1
Every girl who has had ordinary religious training knows that there is a God who is all wise and powerful rules over all. She also knows the story of Christ's life and death, why He came to earth to suffer and to die. She has heard and read of Heaven and Hell. She has also been taught that we owe our service to God, that we ought to do right and not evil all the days of our lives. She has been made to feel that when she does wrong it grieves God and brings His displeasure upon her. With many of a deeply impressionable nature, has come a desire to profess Christ, and to serve Him fully, while they are yet but little girls.
As the child passes into her teens, there comes a deeper awakening, and sometimes this new awakening seems to bring the girl into the presence of God Himself. Somewhere along in these years, the child who felt responsible only to her parents for her actions now begins to realize that she must answer to God Himself. Before, this child thought of wrong only as something forbidden by her parents but now she begins to answer to a higher court. It is in this sense, a solemn time.
When the girl reaches the age where she feels accountable to God for her own actions, she begins to feel the need of God's help in order to do right. She looks with a new questioning upon the conduct of others, even of her parents and sees in their lives, a lack of true conduct or motive. She finds herself unable to do what she knows she should do, and realizes that her help must come from a higher power than herself.
This change of attitude toward God does not come instantly but as the trees bud and leaf in the spring, every day bringing a gradual change until they stand in full leaf so the girl week by week develops and gains knowledge and experience until she stands a woman grown before her God. At first there were only glimpses of character and purpose to which she wished to attain now she understands fully what her duty is before God. And as she saw her duty clearer and clearer before God she realized more and more her shortcomings. Then came the natural cry of her heart for God, the longing of her soul for help from above.
The young heart thus first really awakes to its needs, finds the simple story of the cross and power of Christ to save easily comprehended and embraced. The mind has not been filled with the doubts and questionings that often hinder those who are older, and the truths of religion are quickly grasped. This is the time when the greater portion of those who later are faithful, earnest Christians, begin their service and feel the first touch of divine forgiveness.
This awakening of the conscience toward God is a wonderful thing. It brings a vague uneasiness that causes the young heart to stop to ponder and consider and turns the thoughts naturally to spiritual realities. If our girl will open her heart at this time, it is to ask of someone whom she trusts, many questions about God and religion, and when she sits under the preaching of God's Word she feels a strong impulse to give her life to Him. This will appear to her to be her duty. She will feel a shame and remorse for the wrong she had done, and sorrow that she has not been a better girl. Compared with the new life she beholds in Christ and His love she sees herself a sinner, lost, and without home of Heaven. And when opportunity is given, she comes to God with her dear young life.
With many girls this first impulse to divine service is dulled, and she slips back into her old ways; but it is her privilege to go right on in the service of God, learning more and more of Him every day.
This awakening of the heart to its sins and the need of the forgiveness of God, is called conviction. That causing conviction which whispers to the soul, pointing out its needs, is the voice of the Spirit of God and she who hardens her heart and will not listen is shutting her door to Christ. He will come again and again, knocking louder and louder as her need is more clearly understood. But if she continues to reject the wooing of the Spirit, He will go away, leaving her heart harder than before.
When conviction is yielded to, it brings the girl to repentance. Anyone is sorry for wrongdoing when caught or about to be punished but the sorrow that brings true repentance comes because God has been grieved. And true repentance will make a girl quit her evil ways, and make right her wrongs, so far as she is able. When a girl has wronged someone, or been deceitful or dishonest in anything repentance will bring this all to her mind and make her willing to ask forgiveness. And repentance will also make her willing to forgive others, as she wants to be forgiven. When she has done all that she can do in forsaking her sins, and calls earnestly on God she shall be forgiven, the Bible tells us. She will know in her own heart that she is forgiven. The Spirit, who so faithfully warned her of her sins and God's disapproval now whispers to her heart that she is forgiven and is an adopted child into the family of God. The burden of sin and guilt will go away and in its place will come a feeling of peace and quietness.
From this time on, our girl should seek to do those things that are pleasing to God. She will find it easier to do right, and will find a joy in the service of God she never knew before.
This experience we have just been describing is in the Bible called "conversion," and being "born again." To be converted means to be changed from one thing to another. The converted person is changed from a lost sinner to a saved Christian; from being guilty to being innocent; from the wrong path to the right one. To be born again means to become a partaker of a new spiritual life. The one who is born again begins a new life in Christ. This experience is for every seeking heart.
Jesus said, "You must be born again." Every person who fails to come to Christ repenting and seeking forgiveness, will at last fail to have a home in Heaven. There is no way into the favor of God, and the path that leads from earth to Heaven but the way of the cross.
The Christian life is the only noble life, and that can be attained only by coming to Christ, forsaking the things of this world, which are contrary to His will, and following Him all the way. Beautiful girlhood must make room for Christ and the precious Word of God. There is beauty untold in God's service.
"The disciples were called Christians first in Antioch." Acts 11:26
A disciple of Christ is one who takes Christ for an example and seeks to emulate and glorify Him in all things. Only those who are thus earnestly following Christ, are worthy to be called Christians.
To be a Christian is the most honorable and lovely thing a person may be. There is no life, no matter how high or noble it may be, that can compare in satisfaction and happiness with the life of a real Christian. While the doors to many favored places are closed to the throngs, opening only for a favored few this blessed life of Christian living is open and free for everyone!
It was never meant that the years of any person should be filled up with only the common rounds of life with nothing higher or nobler to lead on to greater things. The heart of man cannot be satisfied with the things that earth has to give. There was planted in man's heart from the beginning, a desire to know and understand higher things, and to commune with his Maker. The complete satisfying of this God-given nature cannot be had, except by knowing God. A person may become very wise, and fill his mind with many things, and put all his time into learning yet there remains something unsatisfied until he finds God.
Christian womanhood is the most noble womanhood. If this be true, then we cannot find girlhood in all its beauty and perfection, until it is a Christian girlhood. The life of a Christian is not too hard for a girl to live, if she has the right start and really tries.
First of all, to be a Christian, one must be born again. Christian living is not something that people put on whenever they get ready but it is the result of the inner change that comes into the lives of those who have given their hearts to God.
A Christian girl is truthful at all times, is honest and sincere, is pure and noble, and everything that a right-living girl should be; but living that kind of upright life is not all there is to being a Christian. It is possible for a girl to be truthful, honest, sincere, pure, and noble without being a Christian. A Christian is that and more.
A Christian has taken Christ as her guide and example, and she will not refuse to confess His name wherever it will glorify Him. She is not ashamed to tell her friends and associates that she is a servant of God. Though she may feel timid, it is not from a sense of shame; for she counts it an honor to be a servant of the Lord.
The Christian girl studies her Bible and seeks to make her life a reflection of its teachings. It is her guidebook, and by it she directs her path. If she finds that anything is forbidden or spoken against in that dear Book, she lets that thing go; and she is just as ready to do all it tells her to do.
When a girl is a Christian, she has learned where to go for strength and courage to do right. She knows the secret power of prayer, and is often found in secret communion with God. Every girl has temptations to evil, thoughts will come that are not right, evil suggestions will present themselves; but if she has learned to go to God in prayer, she will have strength to resist them, and to keep her life clean. The more she has learned to look to God in prayer and trust the more beautiful is her life.
A Christian's life is not all sunshine and joy. The great Pattern did not pass through life without hardness to endure and so it must come to every Christian. One of the Gospel writers has said that it is given unto us "to suffer for his sake." These sufferings must come; but who would not be willing to bear a little for one we love?
There is something about a pure, noble Christian life that will make the girl different from other girls. She will not fit perfectly into all their plans. They will want to go places and do things that she feels in her heart would not please God, so of course she must refuse. They will talk in a way and allow their minds and thoughts to dwell on that which her inward consciousness tells her is not what she should do. Her quietness and lack of enjoyment in what they are discussing will rebuke them, and they will feel somewhat uncomfortable in her presence. It cannot be any other way. The Christian girl will not fit in perfectly with girls who love only the things of this world.
And some of those with whom her Christian spirit does not blend will speak evil of her, snub her, and seek to make her life hard. She will be persecuted for her faith in many little ways. But for all that she may have to suffer from misunderstandings of this kind God will supply grace and glory so that her life will be peaceful and happy anyway.
Being a Christian will not hinder a girl from becoming successful in any honorable work that she may choose to do. If she will remember that she is a Christian first of all, and never allow her youthful ambitions to rise above her desire to please God, nor take the time that should be given in a peculiar sense to His service then she may study and work as hard and rise as high as possible. It is only when her ambitions take the place of Christian purpose, that they become a snare to her.
I have sat looking over congregations of young people whose faces were as fine and intelligent, and whose hopes and ambitions rose as high as any you will find anywhere yet whose countenances were fired with a light and purpose that were not of this world. It is a mistake to suppose that being a Christian will in any way interfere in those pursuits that are right and noble. The Christian religion crowns all noble purposes and ideals, and is a rebuke and barrier only to that which is impure and evil. The one whose girlhood is consistent may fearlessly say, "I am a Christian."
Our girls will meet some who live noble, upright lives, whose example of morality and generosity seems perfect yet who do not profess to be Christians, and who may even boast that they are as good without the help of Christ, as the Christian is with Christ. Let us remember that such people are actually reflecting the teachings of Christ in their lives in spite of their boasts. They are as if the moon should boast of her light saying, "See, I shine by myself. I need not the sun. This light that I give is all my own." We know that if the sun were not shining somewhere the moon would be without light; for it has no light of her own it gives only what she reflects from the sun. The high standards of morality and generosity that these upright people boast about, were learned from Christian teachings. Had they been reared where such teaching could not be had, they would be in as great heathen darkness as any people. It is foolish for any to boast of his own goodness.
The girl will also find some who say they are Christians yet whose lives are not according to the Bible standard. She will find that every other good thing is counterfeited money, gold, jewels; everything of worth has its counterfeits, and so has Christianity. The thing that should most seriously interest every one of us is to see that we have the genuine religion of Christ.
The Quiet Hour
"Commune with your own heart and be still." Psalm 4:4
Have you learned the value of a quiet hour? It may not be an hour literally, of sixty minutes but it is a season away from the rush and whirl of the day, when you may get your bearings and know where you are. We live in an age when everyone is in a hurry, and Christian girls do not escape the rush. From morning until night, week in and week out, her hands are full of work and play. If she is an ordinarily energetic girl, practically every moment will be taken up with something to do, somewhere to go, or someone to see.
When we work too long or too hard, our bodies become weary. When we think or study or read too much, our minds become tired; and when things do not go right, and all our efforts will not pull them straight, our spirits get worn. From all these wearinesses, the quiet hour is a blessed balm.
If the body is tired, to step aside to a quiet place and find a comfortable chair or couch to stretch out our weary body and let it relax to the very toes and finger tips; and there to lie until the tangled nerves straighten, resting, simply resting will bring back vigor and strength again. There are some simple secrets in resting the body that are well to remember. To lie down a few moments upon the back with every part of the body possible touching the couch, just as an infant relaxes to rest, and remain but ten minutes will refresh the body more than half an hour or more sitting in a chair, or lying curled up on a couch or bed. Learn to relax if you would rest.
When the mind is tired, let the books or problems be put aside, and go to the quiet room, or, better still, into the great outdoors and there think only of those things that are pleasant and in tune with the quiet and peaceful surroundings. Soon the thickness will disappear, and the feeling of bewilderment will give place to clear, active thinking, and you will be rested.
But the quiet hour is best for the wearied spirit. The girl gets into this spirit-weary condition more often than some suppose. Plans are broken or frustrated, work that is unpleasant and entirely undesirable has to be done, misunderstandings come between her and her mother or others, she is reproved or actually scolded oh, there are many things to set a girl crosswise with the world about her! And if a girl is trying to do right and is endeavoring to follow Christ in her daily life she will look with alarm at the surging thoughts and feelings that seem set to overwhelm her. Possibly in the pressure of vexations, she has spoken harshly or imprudently, and that adds to her agitation. It is now that a little season in quietness will do her good.
Let her get away from everyone if possible, and the door shut so that she is entirely alone, and then have a sober talk with herself. Let her rest her body a bit if she needs it, and quiet her thoughts. There will be something in the very quietness of the place, that will soothe her ruffled spirits. As soon as she is quieted, let her pray and then think quietly and soberly. Though everything seems in a turmoil at first, soon it will begin to calm down with her own spirits, and order will come out of chaos.
A wise mother will if possible provide opportunities for her children to be alone, so that each one will learn how to fall back upon himself for counsel and entertainment. If children, when they get all worked up and out of humor, were more often sent away to think it out by themselves many a hard time could be passed smoothly. But now that the girl has come to older years, let her learn to be wise and have her quiet hour.
Those who would keep their spirits in rest and quietness, should not wait until driven to seek rest and quiet from every vexation of spirit but should make a practice of going aside, and giving a portion of every day for going aside and giving a portion of every day for meditation, contemplation, and prayer.
Prayer is more than the saying of words with the body in a certain position. It is talking with God, telling him of your joys and hopes and desires, and receiving back His answer to your own heart, making you know the things that please Him. To meditate is to dwell in thought on any subject. The Christian gains much by meditating on the will and Word of God. Prayer and meditation go hand in hand.
Let me describe a quiet hour of mine which shines out from my girlhood with brightness, as I am now writing.
It was at the end of a busy day. I was never strong, and the day's work had made me tired, and its perplexities and annoyances had harassed me, so that I came to my quiet hour with a spirit somewhat troubled.
I sat on the doorstep, with the clear, starlit heavens above me. As I looked up into the night my thoughts were something like this, "What a beautiful night! It is so calm and clear and quiet, and the stars shine so brightly. God, who is my Father, made those stars, and He made me! He is the Creator of all things." Then I was lost in wonder as I thought of the greatness of His creation. I looked at the great distance to the nearest stars, and like a flash of light came the verse of Scripture, "As the Heaven is high above the earth so great is his mercy toward those who fear him." The thought almost overwhelmed me for a moment. I knew I feared the Lord, and so His mercy was as great toward me as the heavens were high above me! All that space was filled with God's love and mercy to me. My very soul seemed in awe at the thought. I felt so safe, so calm, so quiet and rested. Then together, my Lord and I, the day was reviewed. My thoughts went back to a place where I had spoken hastily, and I felt reproved and sorry for it, and said, "Lord, I will be more careful tomorrow." Then my thought went to a time at which I had kept still when someone had taunted me, and it seemed almost as by a voice, so clear did the assurance come to my heart, "I was pleased with you then," and I said, "Lord, I will try to be even more humble the next time." So we went over the whole day.
I said (for the Lord seemed very near to me), "Lord, do I stand clear in your sight? Is everything right between You and me?" and the answer came back to my own heart in the quietness of the hour, "You are my child, and I am pleased with you."
It was time for our family worship, and I rose and went in, with my spirit rested and my soul as calm as the summer night. I have found that these quiet hours with God, these times when I have come as it were into His presence have been the strength of my Christian life, and I know they are what every young Christian needs.
My dear girl, if you are not a true servant of God, the quiet hours in rest and pure meditation will make you better; and perhaps in them, the precious Spirit of God will talk to your heart and show you how to come to Him. I pray that it may be so. But if you are serving God, do not miss these quiet hours with Him. Have some time each day to go alone to meditate and pray. Be willing to do and live, as you feel in your heart you should do and live after you have thus sat before Him.
Learn to love to be alone, to know how to depend upon yourself for entertainment, and to find in your own heart and mind something to think about and meditate upon. Do not allow yourself to be one of those light-minded creatures who must always have the stimulating effect of a companion to find enjoyment.
Making Friends of Books
"When you come bring the cloak which I left at Troas with Carpus, and the books, especially the parchments." 2 Timothy 4:13
Who would not count it an honor to have among her friends the wisest, noblest, and best of earth, and have their friendship so intimate that at any time she might go to them and converse with them and have their opinions upon the matters of importance? If only one such friend were yours or mine would we not feel honored indeed, and would we not cultivate that friendship that if possible our lives might be brightened by the association? I am certain that each one of us would feel just such an interest in so exalted a friendship.
Would you be surprised if I should tell you that such a friendship is possible, not only with one or two superior people but with all the wisest and best of all time? That is the fact in the case. We are all provided with means by which we may become acquainted with those who have moved earth's masses most, whose lives have influenced most people for good, knowing the very motives and desires of their hearts, and learning exactly what their opinions were or are.
The medium for all this wonderful knowledge is the printed page. Through books we may, very intimately, know the wisest and best. I may take a book and go into the quietness of my room and there read, as a great personal letter, what the author has to say, and there compare his views with those of others and with my own, gathering wisdom for my personal store. What a privilege is this!
It is said that a person becomes like his friends. This is a very truthful saying, for association makes a great difference in the life of anyone. Especially is this true of the young. Girls in the teens will almost certainly be like those with whom they most intimately associate, especially if they have chosen their associates. Like begets like, and we naturally seek out and enjoy those who are congenial to us, passing by those whose tastes and manners are offensive. It is not only the personal touch that makes this likeness but the exchange of ideas. By the interchange of thought and expression, all become to a great extent like-minded, each giving to the other something of himself, and receiving to himself of the other.
What is true of personal friendships is also true of book friendships. If I choose only the books that I like to read, and after a while give you a list of those books you can know, though you never see me face to face, just what kind of person I am, just how my thoughts run, and what I admire most in people and things. And if I habitually choose books that I believe will be the best for me, and read them carefully until I understand them and make their thoughts my own I will in time become like those books in thought, and will be lifted out of the rut I naturally would have run in.
When a girl chooses her friends, she should as much as possible select those who will be a help to her. If she chooses the quiet, modest, sincere, earnest girls for her friends she will become like them. But if her friends are mostly the thoughtless, giddy kind, though she had been a reasonably sensible girl in the beginning she will soon be as her companions.
So it is with books. If a girl will choose her books from those whose ideals are high and whose language is pure and clean unconsciously she will mold her life like to those portrayed in the books she reads. But if her book friends are the giddy, impure, unchaste kind you may be certain that the girl will become like them.
I have heard the assertion that to go to any girl's bookcase and there study for a little while the books she reads, will give to one a true estimate of that girl's character and I believe this is in the main true.
If a girl is interested in history she may have at her command the works of educated men who have made history a special study, and there she may seek out just what they have learned on the particular point that interests her. If she is interested in science, medicine, art, chemistry, music, or business in books she can find the thoughts and conclusions of those who have made these disciplines a life study.
Every girl likes in one way or another the social side of life. By going to the proper kind of authors, she may get glimpses of and even come into intimate acquaintance with, the lives of the purest and noblest of earth. She can through her book friends, converse with people of the highest and noblest ideals. Or she may seek out those whose lives are foul and bitter and enter with them into their dark deeds, smudging her young heart with the worst sins of the evil world.
I believe every girl would be able to choose rightly if, when she begins a book, she would ask herself these questions:
1. Would I like to read this book aloud to my mother?
2. Would I feel honored in intimately knowing the people of this book in real life?
3. Would pure and holy people approve of the conduct of the people in the story?
4. Can I profitably make my life-pattern after the ideals I here find?
5. Would the reading of this book help me to better serve my Lord?
If these questions can be answered in the affirmative then she may safely read the book; but if not, even though the book is very enticing, let her put it away, for it is poison!
The reading of love stories in which the lovers have secret meetings in dark and lonely places, embrace and caress each other, and whose acts stir the fever of romance and imagination of the reader is very detrimental to noble character. Stories of murder and crime that stir the mind with horror or excitement, or that make heroes of evil characters are not wholesome. It is almost as bad to read books that make you intimate with bad characters as to make personal friends of that sort of people. In both, you learn their intimate thoughts and motives, and will condone their wrongs if their personality has appealed to you. More or less, my young reader, you will become like these people whom you admire and like to read about.
Light, frivolous reading brings the brain into a condition where it is almost impossible for it to grasp and hold more weighty and important matter. When the girl who habitually reads novels undertakes to read anything that requires thought she may not comprehending a thing. She will throw the book down and say, "It is not interesting, and I see nothing in it!"
But let her keep at more serious and noble reading, going over and over the same paragraph or chapter until she does understand it she will in time become able to grasp the thoughts as she reads. And if she keeps on at the serious and noble reading she will lose her appetite for the light stuff; it will seem chaffy and foolish to her.
It will not hurt any girl to read a few noble stories; and, in fact, if the right kind of stories are chosen, she will learn much that is useful and good through story reading. But she who wishes to become educated and make her reading a means of heart and life culture, must select the greater portion of her books from those authors who deal with facts in life. Works of history, biography, and other branches of learning, are good for all. Books of travel are very good, for they make one acquainted with the people of other lands. In the great field of choice, pick out those book friends that will widen the outlook and lift up the standards of life.
Books can be the greatest of blessing in the life of a girl or they can become her curse. Which will you have them to be in yours?
Waking of the Love Nature
"Love comes from God." 1 John 4:7
Every true woman loves. Her first love is that of the little child for its mother. Once, to lie in her mother's arms and to look up into that dear face, filled all her little heart. After a while she was conscious of her father and her brothers and sisters, and gradually they began to fill a large place in her affections. By and by, her widening circle of love took in her little friends, and older people who were kind to her, until at last the schoolgirl of ten or twelve, if her childhood had been what it should be, stood at the door of beautiful girlhood with a wealth of love in her own heart, and with just as bountiful a measure of love bestowed upon her by others.
It is at this time that another love nature begins to waken, something the little girl has heard about but never has felt before. The cause of this awakening lies in the changes that are taking place in her body. Organs that have been asleep all these years, begin now to rouse from their stupor and to stir into growth and action, her whole body grows very rapidly and takes on a new form, and new feelings and emotions are awakened and thrill her very soul.
This change in the body is so rapid, and it affects the disposition so greatly, that the girl gets all out of harmony with herself. It is as if she should come home some evening, to the very house where she had been living all the time, and, going in, should find the rugs and curtains all changed and considerable new furniture about but nobody present to tell her what it all meant.
How bewildered she would feel as she stood for a while trying to understand, and how awkward and confused she would feel! At such a time she would very likely call out for her mother, that she might explain the changes that had taken place in the home.
Just so it is with the girl of twelve or thirteen. It is her same body, she is herself but for reasons that she cannot fathom, everything seems so different! New feelings and emotions have come into her heart like new furniture while her love for her dolls and many childish games seems to have been set back out of the way. If the girl at this time will call out to her mother for explanation and guidance, she will get along all right. But some girls turn resolutely from their mother just now when they need her most, and get themselves into tangles that almost spoil their young lives.
One of the strongest new emotions that come to furnish this house the girl is to live in, is her new love nature. By this nature I mean that affection which comes between boys and girls, and which is meant in time to prepare them properly to choose a companion for life. The effects of this awakening are peculiar.
The boy becomes bashful and painfully self-conscious. He feels awkward and ill at ease and has a great dread of strangers, especially if they are women or girls, keeping himself out of sight at such times as much as possible.
The girl, on the other hand, is liable to be more bold, and you will see her, if she is not properly guided by a wise mother, doing many things that are bold and daring. She dresses her hair in new and extravagant ways, is very particular about her dress, and studies her face to make it as beautiful as possible all that she may be attractive and pleasing. Often she is unconscious that her attitude toward the boys has anything to do with her extreme care as to appearance; but it has a great deal to do with it. Her new nature is waking.
This new love nature wants someone to love, and is soon reaching out to find that one; but it is not wise to allow it to have its own way. This nature is intended to assist in the choice of a lifemate, when the girl has grown older. Now it should be guarded carefully and allowed to grow and develop until the girl is capable of loving in a true, womanly manner. It is impossible to choose understandingly for life, while yet in extreme youth, and those who are wise wait until they are older.
If girls allow themselves to imagine that they are in love when they are yet very young, they will form extreme attachments, imagining they are desperately in love, only to have this passion pass away to give place to a new fancy. Thus in a few years the store of love which should have been saved until the good time when they should have a husband and home is frittered away on this one and that, and they are left almost without ability to love.
This new nature that is waking, should be thought of as a beautiful plant given of God to be protected and cherished until it has become large and strong. If you had a delicate house plant that was meant to be handled carefully and kept from the wind and cold would you be foolish to carry it outside into the sharp wind and the bitter cold? Your plant would either soon die entirely, or be stunted and never become perfect in beauty.
So it is with this new nature within you. If it is kept carefully as a sacred trust, it will grow into strong, warm affection that will be a rich store of joy and happiness for you by and by; but if brought out now and allowed to go to this one and that one it will wear itself away and lose its warmth and ardor.
Mary Wells often felt that her life was made hard because she was not allowed to go into mixed company as Bessie Wilson did. They were about the same age, neither of the girls being yet sixteen.
Mary was treated as a little girl in that she seldom was allowed out at night, never "went with the boys," was kept regularly in school, and was referred to as Mr. Wells' little daughter.
Bessie, on the other hand, dressed like a young woman, was often out to parties and theaters, had a sweetheart, and passed among the older girls as one of them.
In school Mary was ahead of Bessie, who was just ready to quit because she was "tired of school" and had so little time for it.
"Papa," said Mary one day, "I am as old as Bessie Wilson, I am in a higher class in school, and I am as tall as she is yet I may never do the things she does but have to look and act like a child. When are you going to let me grow up?"
"Mary, do you remember that lily which blossomed here in the window so early this spring?"
"Yes but it is dead now. It seemed to give its whole strength to make that one blossom. It looked pretty then but really those which blossomed at the right time were prettier," said Mary.
"That is just what I wanted you to remember. That lily was pretty but it was forced along too fast, blossomed before its time, and died. That is the way with many girls. They blossom before their time. I want my daughter to come to her full, mature beauty."
"Do you mean that Bessie is blossoming too young?" asked Mary.
"When you come to the fullness of your youth, when you are like a rose in full bloom then poor Bessie will already be fading."
Mary said no more but she watched, and her father's prophecy was true. When Mary came to the full beauty of her young womanhood Bessie was already a disappointed young wife, with her health gone.
Girls who are guided properly through the age of first love, are reserved and cautious. It is not always easy for a girl to submit to the advice of Mother and Father, to keep out of the social whirl, to remain a little girl, to dress modestly and act as quietly as she should; but every girl who will bring herself into obedience now, will have much to be thankful for in coming years. At no time in a girl's life does she need her mother's oversight, as in those years when the love nature is waking, and new experiences are crowding in upon her.
A girl should not go out alone with a boy, nor should she be one of a crowd of boys and girls out at night, or off on a long hike or ride unless they are properly chaperoned. All these safeguards about a girl are like a wall of protection to her.
"You act as though you cannot trust me," said one girl because her mother insisted that during these years she should be carefully guarded.
"I do trust you, Daughter; but I would not have you placed in a precarious position. You are not yet old enough to be safe in relying wholly on your own judgment."
Generally when a girl has passed her sixteenth birthday, she begins to see things more clearly, and possibly begins to understand what a blessing her mother's care has been to her. If she is a girl of ordinarily good judgment, she will in another year or two, begin to look at things from the standpoint of a young woman not with the excited eyes of a child!
"Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you. Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse, who leave the straight paths to walk in dark ways" Proverbs 2:11-13
It is a strange experience in the life of any girl when she begins to realize that there is a difference in the way she feels toward boys. While she enjoys being with her girl friends, she seems to also enjoy the company that includes a few boys. When she was but ten, she could be her happiest with never a boy around; and if they did come and wished to join in her play with the girls she felt angry about it. She said they were always teasing and tormenting, and the girls were better off with the boys away. Now, since she is in her teens, this attitude changes.
Before marriageable age, the girl should be friendly to all but serious with none. Her friendship with boys should be frank and open with nothing in it loverlike. Social gatherings in her home should be without courtship and pairing up of boys and girls.
Some social gatherings are in place if they are conducted in a spiritual atmosphere and if older people are present.
When boys and girls in their early and middle teens begin to think of themselves as sweethearts they are getting on a footing that is not good. At that age, neither of them has been wakened in the affections to know what they are about. The feelings they have are immature, though they may be the beginning of true love. Generally these romances are not permanent and sometimes they are foolish. The wise girl avoids all such sentimental attachments and is contented with a hearty friendship.
It is right that the girl should have opportunity for a pleasant social life, and parents will give them the opportunity as far as they are able.
But if a girl can have jolly, frank friendship with her boy acquaintances, such as is open to every girl in school, and yet keep herself from forming any sentimental attachments then she will have a chance to know boys as they are. She can see their faults and virtues in their true light. She can notice the difference between the boys who smoke and those who do not; between those who are coarse and vulgar in their speech and manners and those who are pure and clean; between those who respect women and girls and always treat them with deference and those who do not. And seeing these differences, she can form her ideals of manhood and true nobility.
Girls have more influence with boys than they often realize. A boy who is rough and rowdy in the presence of one girl will be gentlemanly when with another girl, all because of the girl. If she is boisterous, and will laugh at his silly and offensive remarks, he will act on that level. But when he is with a girl who never smiles at that which is rude and vulgar, who is always quiet and modest in her way he will act as he knows pleases her. He may seem to have the better time with the first girl but he respects the other girl more.
No girl is doing herself justice, if she allows the boys any familiarities with her. She can so conduct herself that they will not be taking liberties. Girls should not scuffle with the boys, nor allow them to put their arms around them, to kiss them, nor to hold hands with them. Kissing games are foolish and harmful. Neither should they be too ready to receive compliments from the boys. Be reserved and careful, and though you do not seem to be so popular as the forward giddy girl who is always "cutting up" with the boys you will have the respect of the best boys and young men, and she will not.
If girls could always wait until the Lord would reveal who the right one was for them, instead of having sweethearts and trying to choose for themselves they would often save themselves from doing foolish and silly things.
It is not best for a girl to seek to be what is sometimes called "a good pal" with the boys, being interested most in boys' games and doings. Men and boys expect women and girls to be different from themselves, and when they find one who is always aping their ways and manners, and acting as if trying to be one of them it cheapens that girl in the boys' eyes. We do not like the "sissy" boy nor the "womanish" man; nor do they want us to act "mannish." A girl can be a good friend and an interested comrade with her brother and his boy friends, without in the least making herself "common."
The Girl Who Can Be Trusted
"I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart on Your laws." Psalm 119:30
A girl who can be trusted! What a treasure she is! What a strength of character she has for her young life's beginning if she has learned to keep her word exactly, to be trustworthy!
But not every girl is naturally trustworthy. Many have to learn through bitter experience, that it is better to be true to one's word, to stand by a promise, to be obedient when out of sight and hearing of those over her than to choose a different path and act secretly.
It was a scene not to be forgotten by any of the three. The mother sat directly in front of the fire, its faint flickers showing the troubled lines on her face. The father sat at her left hand, his face set sternly; for he was a man to resent the actions of anyone who brought anxiety to that dear face beside him. At her right, in a little huddled heap, was the young daughter. She had just passed her fourteenth birthday, and she was as troubled and in as great a turmoil as many another girl of that age has found herself. She had been taking things into her own hands and having "good times" that had come about through deception but the owl-like eyes of her mother, who, like many other mothers, seemed to see what was done entirely in the dark, had found out all the winding paths she had taken, and now the escapades were to be laid bare before her father. The young girl dreaded the ordeal, and already was beginning to see that deception in all its results was a very unhappy road to follow! Mother began to speak, while she glanced sadly at the girl beside her for she pitied Laura very much.
"Laura, I have asked Father to talk with us this evening, because I feel that we must have his advice and help in our present perplexities. I am going to tell him what our difficulties are, tell him exactly what has happened, beginning back a few weeks, so that he can understand what has led up to our present trouble. I will tell it just as I think it is, and I want you to listen closely, and if I am not telling it as you know it to be, speak up; for we want Father to understand clearly, so that he can judge rightly. I want to be absolutely fair with you, child. I would not lay one ounce of blame on you that does not belong there, so be free to speak if I make any mistake."
Laura sank her fair head a little lower on her bosom as her mother was speaking, and both the parents felt deep pity for her. It was not going to be easy to lay everything bare before even as kind a judge as her father.
Slowly then the mother began telling the whole thing
her small and greater deceptions,
her pertness and anger when faced with evidences of these deceptions,
her promises to do better all broken, and
at last the escapade that had brought about the present crisis.
The girl had thus far interrupted but once or twice, and then only to clear up some minor point.
"I gave her permission to spend the afternoon away from home a couple of days ago, and she returned just when I expected her, and reported the good time she had, even giving some of the details of their games. But to my surprise I have learned that she was not where I thought she was at all but had spent the time with a crowd of young people gadding about. I have investigated as far as I can and I find no evidence that she has done anything disgraceful or unladylike during the afternoon; but the fact that she was not where I thought she was, that she tried to deceive me when she came home by falsehoods of what had happened during the afternoon, and that when I began to face her with evidences of her deception she actually told more untruths to cover her fault proves that she has not been trustworthy. I feel that all my props are gone, and that I must hold her in the right path by force.
"Father, this is the way is looks to me, and I want Laura to understand it: While a girl is young she is liable to do many things that are not wise, because of her lack of judgment. But if she will be obedient to her parents in a few points, that she will go exactly where they say she may, and not off somewhere else, and will tell the truth just as it is, when asked about occurrences while she is out then they can be a guard for her. They will know at all times just where she is and what she is doing or has done. Then if any question comes up as to her conduct, they can give an answer to all who would censure her. But if the girl will not go where she promises to go, and is away somewhere else, out of their knowledge; or if she will not tell the truth when asked about what has happened then she places herself where her parents can be no protection to her. Now, while I can easily believe that Laura went nowhere and acted in no way that might be a reproach in the eyes of the world the fact yet remains that if any evil tale should be started about her behavior, no matter how vile the tale might be, my testimony would add to her shame; for even in court I would have to say that she deceived me and told me untruths. Can we afford, can she afford, to have things thus? I confess that this is the most serious matter that I have ever faced in Laura's training. I must have help in someway to get this to her."
"Laura, has Mother told this just as it is?" asked her father.
"Yes, sir, I think she has, so far as I can see," answered she.
Then followed question after question until the father was satisfied in his own heart that his wife had searched the thing to the bottom. "Have you asked God to help you, Laura, in doing right?" he asked.
"No, I have thought I could behave myself if I tried hard enough," she said.
"You have not been trying very hard, I fear. Now, Laura, we will have no more of this sort of thing. If you can behave by yourself, very well. I think you ought to ask God's help. But be that as it may, I give you one more chance to prove yourself. If you cannot master yourself, I will take a greater hand in it; for we will have the victory over this deceptive way. You must be true, and you can be."
"I will, Father; I promise you that nothing like this will ever happen again, and you may depend upon me." There was a note in Laura's voice, now so free from sauciness and anger, so full of humility and resolve, that gave her parents hope.
"Come here, Laura," said her father, tears in his eyes as he saw her meekness.
She arose and went to his side. He drew her into his arms, and sitting there on his knee with her head on his shoulder, she listened while he told her of all that she meant to him and to her mother, of the hopes and prayers that were wrapped around her, and how grieved they were at her fault; but that now they believed she meant to do better, to be a girl who could be trusted.
"I will, Father, I will, and I will prove to you that I can be true," she sobbed earnestly, with her arms around his neck.
"Then let us pray, and ask our God to bless and help us all," the father said.
After prayer she kissed her parents and went to her room, with a purpose born of a new insight into trustworthiness. Her lesson was not forgotten, and she became what she purposed in her heart to be a girl who could be trusted!
Getting Ready for the Great Responsibility
"Many daughters have done virtuously but you excel them all." Proverbs 31:29
Most noble girls become wives and mothers. There are some true-hearted women who do not but they will very nearly all tell you, as old age creeps on them, that they feel certain they have missed the best that life could have given them. One woman who had given her life in noble and uplifting work, whose name is familiar in every home for her influence in the lives of other women, said when questioned on this very point (for she had never married), "I would give it all for the touch of little hands." There is a heart-cry in every woman that cannot be satisfied, except in motherhood.
If a girl knew that she was to be a teacher, an artist, or a musician she would not put off all thought and preparation for her lifework until she was ready to begin it but instead would fit herself for it by study and practice. There would be years of hard work between her and success in her chosen calling.
There is no calling higher than that of motherhood, and the place of wife is nearly as high. The wife, if she is what God means for her to be is a helpmeet, a strength and constant blessing to her husband. He is a better man with a fuller and more useful life because of her influence. Without her, his life could not be complete. To be this to one person all through a lifetime, may mean much to any woman. And by making his life fuller, her own life is enlarged, and others are blessed thereby. It is a wonderful and a noble thing to be a good wife, and the mistress of a true home.
But the calling of a mother is yet higher! Then the woman brings into the world other beings, and is responsible to God and to the world for their care and training. It is a lifelong job, and one that will count for good or evil to the end of the world. Not one woman who has been a mother, has failed to leave her imprint on the world.
There are now on record the names of women whose wicked lives and ungodly children and children's children down to the present generation, have cost their states and cities thousands of dollars. And there are other women whose names are on record in life's history, whose godly and upright lives have so influenced their children that they, down to the present generation, are a blessing and benediction to the world.
Motherhood is a far-reaching destiny indeed. It is the highest calling, the noblest work, the greatest honor that can come to any woman. Motherhood is also what will, if used rightly, bring her the most happiness and genuine satisfaction of anything in life. For this God made her, and fitted her by nature.
Nature begins, when the girl is just entering her teens, rapidly to fit the girl's body for motherhood. Those organs that are especially given for that work begin to grow and develop, and the nature of the girl begins to change, as we have shown, to make her ready to desire and appreciate her calling when the right time comes. This bodily change is not completed so that the girl is ready for her wonderful work until she has finished her teens. There are a few girls who develop into full womanhood before they are twenty but there are not many among us, and some are not mature until several years above twenty. There are six to ten years of life given by nature to this special work in the body, and if she is not hindered she will give her child a beautiful "temple of health" in which to live and fulfill her lifework. But many girls strive against the design of wise providence, to their own sorrow.
The wise girl will take proper exercise in the open air so that her muscles will develop and her lungs can be filled with the life-giving oxygen, for nature never meant that her children should be hothouse plants. She will eat properly and regularly, not making her stomach a dumping ground for all the foolish likes and fancies of the palate. She will take a sufficient amount of sleep in a properly ventilated room, not keeping late hours either in retiring or rising. She will seek in all she does to live a quiet, simple, natural life. The keeping of these simple rules of health will be of untold benefit and their breaking may lead to lifelong regret.
The body is not the only part of a girl that should be fitted for the duties of womanhood. The girl needs knowledge of many things. The responsibilities that will be hers as wife and mother go out in every direction, and she needs to learn to be an all-around woman.
First in importance in this consideration is the cultivation of her own nature so that she can be . . .
true in affection,
steady in purpose, and
reliable in responsibility.
She needs to be able to control herself, so that she can give up her desires for the peace of her little realm, and be able to hold all the members of her kingdom with the chains of love. The selfish and self-willed, the tempestuous and stormy, the indolent and sluggish, the careless and indifferent all are out of the race. They can never make the best mothers. It takes true women to make good mothers women who can govern and direct their own actions aright.
The girl needs to have a working knowledge of the responsibilities that will be hers. She should know how to cook and bake, to wash and iron, to scrub and clean, to sew and mend in fact, how to do everything that a housewife needs to do. If her circumstances become such that she does not actually have this work to do, she will be able to direct the efforts of others the better for knowing how the work is done.
The girl should know how to buy economically, both for the kitchen and household, and for the wardrobe. Without this knowledge she will waste her husband's means, and make his path hard in the beginning of their lives together.
Last of all but far from least the girl should learn to love little children and to make them her friends. She ought to learn how to care for infants, and how to build up in her heart a desire for motherhood.
No, my girls, it is not a thing to be ashamed of, that desire in you for little children. God put it there, and if you really feel, as some girls will lightly say of themselves, that you never want to be bothered with babies then you are an unnatural girl. Somewhere poison has been put into your mind and heart, which should be purged out, and right principles of life implanted instead.
Getting ready for womanhood is serious business, and not to be taken lightly. Every girl should have a thorough knowledge of herself and of the proper care of her body. There are books that treat on this very subject, and from them every girl can learn what she needs and desires to know about herself.
The true woman's life is so filled with love and gladness, that all the suffering and pain that must come as a portion of motherhood, is forgotten in the joy it brings. May God bless the dear mothers to be, and help them to get ready for the work that will be theirs.
Choosing a Lifework
"In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers." Proverbs 31:19
Every girl should be able to make her own living if it becomes necessary. It is not wise for every girl to go out into the working world and there contend for her own livelihood, for many homes need the services of a loving daughter more than she needs the extra spending money that her work will bring. More unwise yet is it for women who should be housekeepers and homemakers, to give their homes over to the hands of servants, or to go forth to earn money for the money's sake. But there are many women and girls whose circumstances compel them to be breadwinners, and not one girl knows that such will not sometime be her lot.
The field from which a girl may choose her lifework is much wider than once it was. In the days of our grandmother's youth, the girl who was forced to earn her livelihood had only two or three vocations to choose from, beyond that of a house servant; but the girl of today has almost as wide a choice as her brother, for nearly every vocation that is open to him, is also open to her. The act of choice therefore becomes harder, and more depends upon the girl herself.
If circumstances are such that the girl should stay in her own home and not become one of the breadwinners of the day, she should if possible prepare herself in some particular way so that in case of future need she could use her knowledge for gain.
There are many things to be taken into consideration by the girl who is making choice of her lifework. She wants to be a success, not only in her work, but in her life so that as much good as possible will be the result of her having lived.
The first consideration with any girl is no doubt her own desires and tastes. What would be pleasure to one would be irksomeness to another; and no one can do her best at what is always unpleasant. Her next consideration will be her ability to do what she wants to do. Has she talent for that particular work? Are her health and physical strength sufficient to warrant her undertaking it? It would be foolish to give time and means, in preparing for that for which one is naturally unfitted.
Another point to consider seriously is the associations into which her choice would lead her. She must remember that to fill her place in life, she must be first of all a woman, with all that that can mean, and to undertake any work that would make her less womanly, less able to fill the ideals of real womanhood would be both unwise and sinful. There are many things that a woman could do but which in doing, she would be thrown into company with all kinds of men in a way so intimate, that she could keep neither their respect nor her own. Such a choice would be madness; for she would be destroying what in woman is the most beautiful modesty and purity.
A work, to be worthy of a choice, should be needful, uplifting, and noble. No other choice is worthy the consideration of any girl. She should ask herself seriously: Will this work I intend to do make the world better, or help in any of its necessary toil? Shall I, in doing it, be doing my part in lifting the burdens of life? Will it make me a better woman for the doing, or at least leave me as good a woman as I am?
Life is not all made up of pleasure and frolic and our work should be something that is of real service.
There is no work that is worthwhile and yet learned and performed without effort. Sluggards never make successes anywhere. The girl who would win for herself a place in the earning world, must be ready to work long and hard.
There is no nobler profession for any girl to choose, than that of a teacher. Her years of preparation will be filled with hard work and persistent efforts, and the performing of that work is both wearing and vexing; but the results can be great. Not only should the teacher guide her pupils in paths of knowledge but also into ways of truth and uprightness. Her moral and spiritual influence for good, can be great in the schoolroom, if she properly prepares herself for it and performs her work with the highest aims in view.
The artist and musician can bring much pleasure and happiness into the world through their gifts, happiness that need stir only the best that is in men and women. But this work is complete, only after long effort and persistent application.
The writer of books and short stories has a field before her which, followed in the right direction, can do much good in the world but which, followed in another direction, will add only to the curse that is already in the world. The wrong kind of stories are better never written. The writer also meets much difficulty in getting started in life. Many who try, never succeed. It is at best a long, hard way but one that is pleasant indeed to follow by those who love to do that kind of work.
There are many openings for a girl in the business world that she can fill without detracting from her womanliness. Though it takes less preparation for business in the beginning, the work itself is one long school of hard work.
There is another class of work into which many young girls are forced by circumstances, work that makes them a living, and is honest enough but which will not show the personality of the girl herself as do the professions I have been mentioning and that work is such as is found in the factory, shop, or store. The girl who must do this kind of work, can do well what she does, and can fill a worthy place. But in the majority of cases the girls found here are doing only such work until the time when they shall go to life's greatest responsibility the making of a home.
There is a strong prejudice against the doing of housework for a living. This arises no doubt from the idea of servitude; but all work is service of one kind or another. There is no work that is more necessary or capable of bringing more real pleasure, than housework. Any girl who can do this work, will need not be ashamed of her calling. If she uses the spare moments she can find for study and reading, she need not let her mind starve, and become but a drudge, because this is her calling. All needful work is honorable if it is done well and for a good purpose.
A mistake that many girls make who must go out to work, is that of neglect of home duties. They allow themselves to go on from year to year with no knowledge of household work. They cannot cook a good meal, nor make a garment. It would be impossible for them to do washing and ironing properly, both for lack of skill and because of fatigue.
Such girls, many of whom can hope to marry only poor men who are able to give them but a small allowance for household purposes, come to marriage without any knowledge of housework, or of the buying-value of money. Here is the cause of many home wrecks. Every girl should remember that first of all, she is a woman, and the woman in her will desire and claim a home of her own someday; and if she is to be a success there, she must make some preparation for that calling.
A Consecrated Life
"I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit fruit that will last." John 15:16
There is no life so unhappy and discontented, as one that is aimless. For any life to be satisfying, it must have a goal that leads the path upward. Some people indeed succeed in what they undertake; but their goal is so low that when they accomplish their aim, it is as bad as failure could have been. To one who aims low, or not at all success can never come; for it is only when we approach near to what God intended we should be, the very best that is in us that real success can be attained. Success can mean nothing less than the accomplishment of noble goals.
Though one might "hitch her wagon to a star," so high and noble are her aspirations yet if after all that star is an earthly one earthly knowledge, personal influence, ability, riches, honor and her aspirations are realized, and she arises high in the world she will not find the satisfaction in her attainments, that she hoped for.
We, in our natures, are not altogether earthly; there is in us a nature that craves to be in tune with God. A life that gives exercise to this part of being, and provides a way for the satisfying of the heart's craving for God is the only one that brings what every person desires soul rest. That is why I wish to talk to you about the consecrated life the life all given in humble, willing service to God.
Under the old Mosaic law, one tribe of the children of Israel was chosen for the service of God in a peculiar sense, and they were set apart from the rest for that purpose. Out of that tribe the priestly family was chosen, and they were to serve at the altar and in the tabernacle. The vessels that were used about the altar and everything consecrated to the Temple service were to be used for that purpose only, and if in any way they became unfit for that service, they were destroyed; never were they used part of the time for common purposes.
Our service now is not according to that old, formal worship; for now hearts and affections, not pots and pans are asked in consecration. Then the service of God consisted to a great extent in the proper keeping of certain forms and ceremonies. Now the service of God is counted only that devotion which comes from a sincere and consecrated heart. The consecration of earthly vessels then is a picture of the complete consecration of heart now. For we are to be fully the Lord's for all time, not giving a portion of our time and affection to the world and sin, and to the following of selfish purposes. Every act of life, every thought of the heart, every affection of the soul are to be all for God, and done to the glory of God.
This consecrated life is expected of every Christian. In fact, no person can live a conscientious, Christian life long, without finding such a consecration necessary. Either he must give himself fully to God, or drop back into the cold, formal life that many live but none enjoy. Do not let anyone think that such a devoted life is irksome, for it is not. We are so created that the heart naturally craves God; and when the powers of sin that bind have been broken, and the soul has been set free to follow its right course the highest pleasure is found in sincere service to God.
Out of the ranks of those who fully follow Him, God chooses some whom He sees in His wisdom could particularly glorify Him in special service, and these He calls to the work He would have them to do. To such there comes a conviction of heart, an inward knowledge, that makes them know they are set apart for special service.
There are many kinds of work that are in a peculiar sense the Lord's. Work among the poor and needy, visiting them, and ministering to their needs, especially to the sick and helpless among them may be found almost everywhere, and for those who will do this work humbly and gladly, there is a rich reward in Heaven. One of the tests put to true religion is: has he who professes to possess it visited the fatherless and widow in their affliction? To think that we can be Christians and shut our hearts against those who are in need, shows that the first principles of true Christianity have not been learned by us.
Again, there is the ministry of song, when the voice which God has given is used to win souls to God and to encourage those who are cast down. This is a wonderful and noble work.
Another noble and wonderful calling is the work of a missionary. There are many departments of this work for which women are especially fitted, and there is ever room for more people willing literally to leave all to follow Jesus. In no other calling can one so fully give all for Jesus. To be successful in this field, years of hard work are necessary, and some must lay down their lives on the battlefield. The call is for consecrated workers. Whether home missionaries, gospel workers, or missionaries to foreign lands from all God wants a consecrated and willing service.
The one who is thus called, and accepts the call, must expect a long, and in some respects a difficult, preparation. Those vessels that are the most precious are often the longest in the hands of the potter, and the processes through which they must pass, are the most severe. The one who is to stand before the people as an example of the grace of God, a pattern for others to follow must expect to be made like the Great Pattern. Preparation for God's work is, on our part, of two kinds that which is acquired through study and application, and that which is learned in the school of experience.
My dear girl, if deep in your heart of hearts you feel that God is calling you, that you should dedicate your life to the work of God then turn your face resolutely to the things of God. Study the Word of God, and all other books that will give you the knowledge you will need for your work. If a vocation is considered that requires more schooling, it should only be undertaken upon proper counsel. All the while keeping ready to do the little things for God that you find need doing by the way.
Besides this, live close to God in prayer, fighting your life battles through, seeking in everything to follow the guiding of the Lord. To you will come many experiences which will test your grace and fortitude, many temptations to try you that you may prove your strength and courage, and that you may know the battles that others have to fight.
If God has called you to His work, look not upon it as a hardship; but go forth gladly, willing and ready to go and to suffer and die for the cause you love. From your ranks, you who are girls now God will call many for service. Let Him find willing servants, who will fully yield their whole lives to Him.
But I would not forget the rank and file, those who are not specially called but whose lives are set in the ordinary channels, who are to make the home women of our land. Let not one think that only in special service is consecration needed. Every act of our lives can be a service to God. She who makes a good home where others are encouraged and strengthened, she who is ready to speak a kind and encouraging word to those in need, she who keeps up a humble and quiet everyday service to God she is glorifying Him just as much as are they who go on special missions!
A Pure Heart
"Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God." Matthew 5:8
What a pleasure to look forth upon the bosom of the earth on a clear morning after a snowstorm, when over all is spread the covering of pure whiteness, hiding every defect and blemish, surmounting all that is unclean and ugly, transforming every stick and clod into things of beauty, leaving only blue sky above and pure whiteness below!
Or what a pleasure to stand at the brink of a clear, calm pool, looking into its depths without observing one thing unclean, and then to put to your lips a cup of the crystal liquid fresh from the spring that feeds the pool, and drink to your fill!
What a sense of the Infinite God, one feels standing on the top of the mountain height, far above the dust and smoke of the lower regions, and there drinking in the pure air, and gazing as far as the eye can carry in every direction, the sight unobstructed by the thickness and gloom of lower levels! Or, again, what a sense of the Infinite God, one feels out under the clear sky, there beholding the stars shining forth with all their beauty and brightness, pure revelations of the mighty power of God!
To look into the depths of a child's innocent eyes, and see there its purity, will soften the hard heart. To look into the clear, fearless eye of the man or woman whose heart is free from condemnation of sin, or to see the quietness and confidence of old age that has come to its own with cleanness of hands and purity of heart gives strength to those who falter. The look of innocent pleasure in the eyes of a modest maiden, gladdens all who behold it.
Everywhere purity and clearness are admired and appreciated. Pure air, pure water, pure food, pure associations, pure ideals, pure aspirations all are needed for complete living.
The purity that counts for most in your life and mine, is purity of heart. It is possible for us to live with the very seat of our affections cleansed from that which is sinful, and our hearts made pure. The heart can be made a fit temple into which to ask the Lord to come and be the inhabitant.
One of the things every young Christian girl soon becomes aware of, is the natural sinfulness of her own heart. When she is trying to do that which is right evil thoughts and feelings will arise. She is tempted to be proud and selfish; and under certain provocations, she feels the workings of anger in her heart, though by looking to God for help she keeps her lips from speaking out her feelings. Sometimes she is startled by feelings of jealousy and envy two things that must not be allowed in the life of a Christian. She will find it hard at times to follow the Lord fully, to entirely do His will. If she will seek out the real desire of her heart, she will find that she wants a closer walk with God; yet when she tries to walk closer, she is all the more conscious of these sinful impulses. If she understood herself, she would know she needed a pure heart.
If a girl will come to God with her perplexities and tell Him the struggle she is having with "foes within," and fully consecrate her life to Him, saying from the depth of her heart, "Lord, I give my life to You. You may have every part of it! Cleanse my heart and make it a fit place for You to dwell," and trusting God to do what she has asked Him to do she may have a pure heart.
God will cleanse out those sinful principles from her nature and make her a conqueror. Not that she will no more be tempted; but instead of those inward struggles that are so hard to master, she will find inward grace and strength to overcome.
There is a heavenly Visitor who will come in and fill the heart that is fully given to God, so that instead of those sinful impulses ruling there, this sweet Spirit of God will reign.
The experience of heart purity is not for anyone who cherishes any thought or feeling that is impure. If envy, or jealousy, or pride, or arrogance, or any kindred evil is allowed a place the Spirit of God will not come to cleanse and fill his temple.
It seems to me a most wonderful thing, this deliberate giving over of oneself and life for God alone. We too often fail to see that there is consecration and sacrifice in genuine Christian service. We need the consecration of service that will allow no desire or thought or aspiration to linger, which is known to be contrary to the will of God.
There is a rest of spirit, and a quiet confidence, a joyfulness, and a perfection of love and peace in the heart of the one thus given over to God, which cannot be described in words. Nor is this experience for only a favored few. Everyone who will seek God with all his heart, who will draw close, may have this experience of a pure heart.
A Few Faults Discussed
"To him who overcomes, I will give to eat of the hidden manna." Revelation 2:17
There are none among us who can truthfully boast of faultlessness. I wish to speak particularly now to those who are earnestly endeavoring to live a Christian life. Such girls will have seasons of inward searchings and examinations which will bring them face to face with their own shortcomings and weakness. What shall they do with them?
There is the fault of irresolution. A person, to be of strong character, must be able to make up his mind, to make decisions and to stand by those decisions in the face of hindrances and opposition. He who is irresolute, is not sure of himself. He is ever going back to see whether or not he made a mistake in his decision. We have read of the character in Pilgrim's Progress who saw lions in the way, and was not strong enough to march up to them. They who did face their lions, found them bound so that they could not reach the path. But he who is irresolute never gets that far.
The girl who has acquired the habit of halting between opinions, of never making up her mind on anything needs to take herself in hand sternly, look problems in the face, march right out to meet them, and fight her own battles through. To the one who is determined to win, victory will come.
Self-consciousness is a sister of irresolution. This causes the victim to keep his eyes on only himself, to study his own thoughts and feelings and acts. When he goes into the company of others, he feels that all eyes are upon him; when he undertakes to do anything, he is conscious of his every word and act and blushing, stammering, apologizing he succeeds in doing just the thing he hates getting eyes upon himself.
The girl who is self-conscious needs to begin doing something for others. If you go into company, seek out someone who needs encouragement, a helping hand, and give it. Possibly you will see another more miserably embarrassed than you are; if so, help that one. There is no cure for self-consciousness, like keeping busy and interested in others. Those terrible feelings come only to those who have time to entertain them.
Here is a girl whose besetting fault is sharpness of speech. It may come from nervousness of temperament, from environment, or from some other cause; but no matter what the cause, the result is always the same hurting and wounding those who hear. Such a girl needs first of all to guard her thoughts. "Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks." If sharp, critical thoughts are allowed then sharp, critical words will be the result. If we will form the habit of watching for good things in others and of speaking about them then kindness will become a habit.
Another fault is an inordinate love for pretty things. I say "inordinate," for there is a proper appreciation for those things that are beautiful, which is allowable in everyone. But she who has too great a love for these things, sets great value upon their possession.
Pride and vanity are almost certain to be the close companions of a love for personal adornment. Money that should go for more necessary things is given for beautiful things. The girl becomes dissatisfied with the home and surroundings as she finds them, developing a deep dislike for what should be dear to her all because they do not meet her ideal of beauty.
Such a girl needs to learn to look well to the good that is around her. Where love is, real beauty can be found. There is nothing more beautiful than a happy, satisfied heart. If your love for pretty things so fills your heart, that you cannot see the good that loving hands and hearts bring to you then you need to give serious attention to that which is obstructing your vision.
There is a spirit of discontent that makes the girl restless and uneasy. Now, I would not have you fully satisfied with things just as they are, so that you will not strive to improve; but that dissatisfaction that keeps a girl fretting about her fate spoils her happiness now, and unfits her to appreciate what may be in the future.
Selfishness is another fault that spoils the beauty of many lives. She who is selfish, looks always to her own pleasure first. If others are displeased and inconvenienced, it matters little to her, just so long as her own desires are met. This form of selfishness can creep into the lives of those who desire to serve God. I have seen girls who, though they were Christians, were so insistent about little things, so determined to have their own way that they spoiled the beauty that Christ would have put into their lives.
This kind of selfishness will show out again in the way that a girl will enter into her church work. She can become so engrossed with her Sunday school, or league, or her attendance at the general services that her presence there, or her time given to work for her beloved church may mean the robbing of her mother of opportunity to get out at all. It is pitiful to see a girl engaged in even a good cause, if such continually keeps her mother or her sister at home with the cares found there. A fair division, is the right thing under such circumstances.
Again, selfishness will show out in the fact that the girl's clothes are so much nicer and more up to date, than what her mother wears. It may be that Mother is willing for her daughter to have the best but that does not change the fact that the daughter is selfish if she takes the best always.
Over-sensitiveness is another great fault. Dena, a young woman of beautiful character, had sensitiveness as a besetting fault. At the least rebuke or criticism, she would become so hurt and mortified, that she would weep for hours. And many times when the speaker had not thought of bruising her at all, she would suffer greatly with wounded feelings. She was visiting for some time in the home of a gentleman who was able to see the beauty of her character in spite of this glaring fault. One day she had wept until her eyes were red, over something that had not been intended as a thrust at her at all. When she reappeared in the family circle, he watched her closely, and finding her alone he called her attention to a sensitive plant growing outside the window.
"If I should touch that plant ever so lightly, Dena, what would be the result?" he asked.
"I have often watched it," she replied, "and touched it just to see its behavior. It will close up every leaf upon the whole plant and remain just so until it has recovered from the shock of my gentlest touch. It is called rightly a sensitive plant."
"Dena, you are our sensitive plant. We have to be as careful in handling you, as if you were indeed just such a plant. We would enjoy you much more if you were not so sensitive."
The fountain of tears again burst forth as poor Dena saw herself pictured by the little plant but going to her room she asked God to help her to overcome her fault. Such earnest prayers do not go unanswered, especially when the supplicant is willing, as was Dena, to fight against the weakness.
There are many faults but every one of them can be overcome if the girl sets her heart to be victorious.
The Girl of Today
"Many daughters have done virtuously but you excel them all." Proverbs 31:29
Times are always changing, bringing new customs and manners and laying aside old customs and manners as worn out and unfit for use. What was just right and up to date when your parents were your age looks strange and odd now; and what seems exactly right to you now, will in a few years be as much out of style! These changes have always been taking place, and they will continue to do so. We hear much talk about our modern young people as if young people of your time were the first who ever moved out and did things differently than their parents had done them. But every era has had its modern young people who would be up-to-date in everything.
All that is old in customs and manners should not be discarded; and all that is new is not always for the best. It is wise for all of us, whether old or young, to learn to choose wisely, so that we do not lose our standard of measurements and become unable to tell what is right, and what is wrong. Because a thing is being done by most people does not make it right and proper. And because it is not being done by a large percentage of the people does not make it wrong or improper. We should remember that the true standards of right and honor and purity remain the same from the beginning to the end. There are no fluctuations in the standards which will always govern what is right and pure and proper in true, upright, Christian manhood and womanhood.
While it is true that customs change all the time, there are circumstances which cause these changes to come much faster at some periods than others. These seasons of rapid change, of course bring more problems than are found at other times.
Since the great War, we have been passing through one of those seasons of rapid change, and our girls have had problems to meet that are different from those which had come before.
One of the greatest changes is the place allowed to women and girls in the business and working world and the confusion of manners and customs that have come as they adjust themselves to the new conditions. While girls have many more opportunities, their temptations are also more and our girls have not always met these changes and temptations to the best advantage.
One great change is in the manner of dress. In your grandmothers' youth, girls wore too many heavy, close-fitting clothes for health and comfort. Now both health and comfort are so well considered, that those who design the clothes forget that they are also meant as a covering to the body! But our girls should remember that, no matter what the style or cut of her clothes, the godly woman is always modest and unassuming, with nothing in her manners or the way she is dressed, that will lower the conception of true womanhood in the minds of those who see her. It is always the careless and thoughtless girl, who dresses and conducts herself in a way to arouse unchaste thoughts in others.
In many circles smoking is common for women and girls. The changing custom that makes dress such a fetish, skips over the unhealthy effects of tobacco yet the effects of tobacco are just as bad now as they ever were. While we would not say that smoking destroys all the beauty of girlhood, we must admit that this habit is becoming a serious blot on American girlhood, and that every girl indulging in the habit is placing herself in bondage to something that may seriously injure her health and make her unfit for the better things of true womanhood. Just because many are doing it, the habit has lost none of its evil points, and has gained not a single good one.
More dangerous still is the temptation to alcohol. So much has been said derogatory of total abstinence, that many fear they appear old-fashioned or narrow if they will not take a drink. But drunkenness is just as ugly and its effects, just as ghastly now as they ever were and the only safe person, is the one who will not drink at all. Any indulgence in this respect, is a serious blot on a girlhood which would otherwise be beautiful. Our girls who are seeking for beautiful character, and who place worth upon their influence as real women, will not take up the habit, nor indulge occasionally either in smoking or drinking any liquor. They will dare to stand out from their associates if necessary, as total abstainers. The path of beautiful girlhood leads away from every habit that tends to lower the standard of true womanhood.
Girls and women mix with men and boys as equals in the business and work world, and many of those little courtesies that used to come to them because they were women were dropped. Because it is not expected of her that she shall be helpless and inefficient, the girl should not go to the opposite extreme and act bold or forward, nor by any of her actions make herself unwomanly. In her work life as in her social life, she should show herself a friend, sociable and approachable but her guards should always be up that all may know that she remembers her place as a woman.
The wise girl learns how to be friendly without being "fresh," and to be sociable without being silly. She may do many things her mother and grandmother never did in their girlhood but she holds within herself just as high a standard of womanly purity and morality of life as they ever had. At heart our girls are just as sweet and pure, and innocent of wrong intent, as girls ever were, and any lowering of that standard comes about because of something wrong in the condition of heart, or purpose in the girl who does it not because our modern girls are all wrong.
Clear waters come out of a clean fountain, and every girl who will keep her fountain of desire and purpose clean and true will show forth a true Christian spirit in her life, and will possess her own allotment in the Land of Beautiful Girlhood.
The Full-Blown Rose
"And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good." Genesis 1:31
A thing of beauty is a rose in full bloom. What a pleasure to hold in the hand a perfect rose and admire its soft, velvety petals, to smell of its rich fragrance, and to feast upon its beauty of coloring! One would be tempted to say, "In this, nature has done her best." But nature, and the God of nature, gave us many beautiful and glorious things.
After the uncertainties of girlhood, when the crudeness and lack of symmetry in body and mind have been put away, and the woman of promise is before us in all her beauty and grace we are privileged to see in her who was once the girl, one of the most blessed of God's creation a noble, true woman. Just such a fulfillment of hope and expectancy, every true mother wants in her daughter.
The grown woman who stands just at the door of life's responsibilities, ready to enter in upon her life work represents unbounded powers and possibilities. Her influence in the world is sure to survive to the end of time. It is impossible that she should live entirely for and to herself.
First is her influence upon womankind. There are none of us so weak and insignificant, but that someone will pattern after us, or draw courage from us. By our trueness to principle, our loyalty to right and truth we can each be a stay and fortress to the weaker sisters about us. In the home, in the neighborhood, in the congregation, everywhere a godly woman is a mighty force among women.
And just as powerful is the influence of a woman who is not good. It lies in the power of woman to lift up or terribly in her power to pull down and destroy.
The woman has influence unbounded with mankind. A godly woman can be like a star of hope, a beacon light, a safe retreat, to the man who is struggling against the obstacles of the world. In her, he can see the ideal of purity and truth, and the manhood in him will strive to be worthy of her. But if she steps down from the path of true, virtuous womanhood and becomes petty or sinful she will be his downfall. There is no true woman who does not know that in a great measure, she is her brother's keeper.
Then comes the influence of a true woman upon the youth of her acquaintance. It may be that the boys and girls around her seem to be full of nonsense and foolishness, that they do not see her example of earnest, lovely nobility; but in a few years more she will see that her life does bear fruit among those with whom she associates. Every girl has her ideal woman and that woman is picked from among her acquaintances. No woman can live to herself.
If the influence of a bad woman is great among her sisters, and yet more so among her brothers it is far worse among the young! A woman with a sweet, smiling face, and a heart that is impure is as great a curse as can come into the life of either a boy or girl.
Oh, girls! girls! Life is so great, so wonderful, so full of possibilities that none of us can afford to be anything but what is noble and pure and true! Let us make the perfect rose an emblem of our womanhood and strive that its fragrance shall bless all who come in contact with it!