Can You Hear Me Now?

“Cease to hear instruction, my son, and you will stray
from the words of knowledge.”

Proverbs 19:27

Some people gotta’ learn the hard way. Do you know anybody like that? After observing certain people repeat the same cycle of ignoring good advice, making bad choices, and reaping painful consequences OVER and OVER and OVER again throughout my life, I began to think that maybe some people were simply incapable of gaining wisdom. But I was wrong. When you study the book of Proverbs, you’ll see a theme reverberating throughout–wisdom is available to those willing to listen. You see, the problem with people who continually make foolish decisions and never seem to learn from their past isn’t that they have a low IQ or a learning disability; what they’ve got is a hearing problem. And it’s the kind that a hearing aid just can’t fix. The saying, “My words fell on deaf ears,” was created just for them.

God gave us ears so we would use them, and the wise woman does just that. Mary Kassian tells us more:

The final point of contrast between wise and wild is teachability, which is a woman’s willingness to be corrected and instructed. A Girl-Gone-Wise is teachable. She’s eager to grow. She welcomes correction and training. A Girl-Gone-Wild scorns instruction. She doesn’t think she needs input. She resists change. In the book of Proverbs, the Sage profiles three types of individuals who turn their backs on God’s invitation to become wise. They are the simple, the fools, and the scoffers. Proverbs 1:22 mentions all three. Wisdom asks, “How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge?”

[Girls Gone Wise, p. 248]

What do you think makes it so hard for us to listen to instruction?
Tell me–I’m all ears. ;)

Related Post: Practicing Proverbs
(I promise I wrote this long before I got Mary’s book!)

Photo: Vincent Loof

The Woman with Fatal Footsteps

“Her feet go down to death;
her steps follow the path to Sheol…”

Proverbs 5:5

Lecrae’s new album, Rehab, includes a song called “Killa” which warns men to watch out for the wayward woman of Proverbs:

Her feet go down to DEATH, so don’t let her consume you
Even though her heart is black, her exterior is beautiful
She’ll take your life away, strip away your joy
Pretend that she gon’ to build you up,
But she’s just gon’ destroy you…

Don’t go near the deadly seductress–It’s a message men need to reminded of regularly. In her book Girls Gone Wise, Mary Kassian has a warning women need to hear just as badly–Don’t be the deadly seductress: 

The Proverbs 7 woman didn’t respect men. She just wanted to have a good time. She didn’t care if anyone got hurt in the process. She didn’t care that her fling would wound her husband, or that her behavior would have negative consequences for her lover. She was too selfish to be concerned about hurting them.

“For many a victim she laid low, and all her slain are a mighty throng” is military language…The seductress causes the downfall and destruction of many men. From all outward appearances, she’s just a beautiful woman looking for a friend. But in actuality, she’s a “man-slayer.” She uses men. She hurts them. She’s not a builder, she’s a destroyer. She tears her “victim” down and “lays him low.”

[Girls Gone Wise, pp. 242-243]

Photo: Melissa Balkon

Company Worth Keeping

“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise,
but the companion of fools will suffer harm”

Proverbs 13:20

A good friend can be hard to find. A bosom friend is even harder to locate. As women, I think we can all relate to Anne Shirley’s happiness over finding a “kindred spirit” like Diana in the classic story, Anne of Green Gables. Don’t we all want a friend like that? Unfortunately for us, friendships don’t always develop in storybook fashion, and in the real world, we’re far more likely to find ourselves surrounded by females like Josie Pye than those like Diana Barry. [My apologies to those unfamiliar with the story. Side note: if you've never watched the miniseries based on the books, your life is tragically incomplete. I suggest you remedy that problem ASAP.] 

As Christian women, our choice regarding close companions is one which we must make wisely. If we choose friends like the sweet and kind Diana, then we’re probably going to become sweeter and kinder as a result. If, on the other hand, we choose to spend our time with haughty, catty women like the Josie Pyes of the world, then we’ll soon begin to reflect their catlike qualities. Mary Kassian offers some wise words to encourage us as we seek out friends of godly character:

Negative influence is very powerful. Not only does the Bible want us to stop being a negative influence on others, but it also wants us to avoid people who might exert a negative influence on us. The Sage says, “A righteous man is cautious in friendship, but the way of the wicked leads them astray” (Proverbs 12:26 NIV). A Girl-Gone-Wise chooses her friends carefully. She does not take on just anybody as a friend. Being “cautious” means that she searches out and investigates a person’s character. She knows that if she constantly and exclusively hangs out with people who don’t love the Lord, chances are they’ll have a greater influence on her than she will have on them. They will affect her negatively.

Paul warned the Christians in Corinth that hanging out with the wrong people would have a bad effect on their behavior. Just because they’d become Christians didn’t mean they were immune to negative influence. They were still susceptible. Paul cites a proverb that was in popular circulation in his day. His point is that everybody—even unbelievers—knows that the saying is true. It’s common knowledge. The young believers shouldn’t be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals” (1 Corinthians 15:33).

[Girls Gone Wise, p. 231]

Photo: Fanpop

Cool It, Chatty Cathy…

“Oh that you would keep silent,
and it would be your wisdom!”

Job 13:5

Does that big empty talk bubble up above leave you feeling a little bit uneasy? After all, what’s a talk bubble for if not to fill up with words? It would look so much better if some of that white space were covered up. A few big words or lots and lots of little words…either option will do, just as long as we get some talk filling in that great, big, uncomfortable silence!

  

 

Hmmm…I suppose that’s one way to take care of the problem.

As women, we do find it difficult to leave a little room for silence now and then, don’t we? Oh, but how much better off we would be (not to mention the people around us) if we would only take Solomon’s counsel to heart, “Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent” (Proverbs 17:28). Just think, if our talking didn’t so quickly convince people otherwise, they might think we were rocket scientists! Well, wise at least, and I’ll take that any day.

Mary Kassian has some good advice for the yakkers in our midst: 

A Girl-Gone-Wise doesn’t yap. She bridles her mouth and restrains how much she speaks and what she says.

Restraining words means that you don’t have to have an opinion on everything. You don’t have to comment on everything that happens. You don’t have to answer every question. You don’t have to constantly make your thoughts known. You don’t have to be proved right. You don’t have to show off your superior knowledge. You don’t have to constantly offer advice. You don’t have to nag. Restraining words means that you carefully weigh an answer before you speak, and that you hold back from constantly weighing in. It means that you are quick to listen, but slow to speak (James 1:19).

[Girls Gone Wise, p. 220]

Check out Mary’s Conversation Peace Quiz HERE.

Illustration: Christian Ferrari

Commitment without Compromise

“If a man vow a vow unto the LORD, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth.”

Numbers 30:2

In a culture where “I do” means little more than “I’ll try,” we need to stand out as women whose commitments can be counted on. Mary Kassian offers some encouragement to help us become faithful in both the great and small matters of life:

The Wild Thing of Proverbs 7 cheated on her husband. She was unfaithful to the solemn covenant promise she made. But I think it’s fairly safe to assume that she broke faith with him, and others too, in many little ways every day. She was unreliable. She was the type who thought that going back on a promise or commitment, or failing to do what she said she would do, was “no big deal.” It didn’t matter if she said she would be there, and then wasn’t. Or if she said she’d do it, and then didn’t. Or if she said she wouldn’t and then did. Or if she said she was in, and then backed out.

How about you?…Do you take your covenants and commitments as seriously as God does? The Wild Thing of Proverbs 7 felt justified in breaking faith. But the Girl-Gone-Wise knows that God is witness to the commitments she makes. Keeping faith with Him means keeping faith with others. His trustworthiness obliges her to be trustworthy. In a world where people continually break faith, her yes is yes, and her no is no. She is totally and utterly dependable.

[Girls Gone Wise, p. 215]

Photo: Olly Bennett

Patiently Awaiting a Better Payoff

 

“Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin,  so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.”

1 Peter 4:1-2

One Christmas when I was a child, my grandma gave my brother, sister, and me an unexpected gift. Inside a Christmas card, we each found a piece of paper that looked like a check for $50.00. For a kid with no means for making money (my parents thought paying kids for doing household chores was a big-time racket), $50.00 was a welcome sight. What I soon learned however, was that this check wasn’t really a check at all; it was a savings bond. The fine print revealed the catch–if I kept the savings bond for 10 years, I could redeem it for $50.00. But if I cashed it right away, I’d only get half that amount. Wow. Tell a kid she has to wait 10 years to get something she wants, and you might as well tell her to wait 100. 

Even though it seemed that 10 years later would never come, I took that savings bond and tucked it away in a little drawer in my jewelry box. Of course, you know what happened. Those 10 years passed by more quickly than I ever would have imagined, and the long awaited day finally arrived. Because I’d been able to put off my desire to pocket some cold hard cash until the appropriate time, I walked out of the bank with twice the amount of money I would have had if I’d let impatience get the better of me. The lesson–if you want to teach your children the value of delayed gratification, buy them a savings bond. They’ll thank you in ten years. =)

According to Mary Kassian, the foolish woman of Proverbs 7 evidently missed the savings bond lesson. If she had the choice between getting $50 in ten years or $25 today, she’d take the cheap and easy route every time. It takes a woman of wisdom to understand that patience always provides a better payoff:

Entitlement is the next point of contrast between a Girl-Gone-Wild and a Girl-Gone-Wise. A Wild Thing is intent on immediate gratification. She feels she has a right to be comfortable, be happy, have fun, get what she wants, and indulge in all sorts of pleasures. Enjoyment, comfort, luxury, and ease are what she feels she deserves and what she constantly seeks and demands. A Girl-Gone-Wise, on the other hand, knows that the highest pleasure exists in denying self and willingly bearing the cross of Christ. She forfeits earthly gratification for the eternal joy that God has set before her. She sacrifices lesser joys for infinitely greater ones. She knows and accepts that on this side of heaven, Christian discipleship is a costly, uncomfortable, painful, and even bloody business.

[Girls Gone Wise, p. 201] 

Illustration: Jade Gordon

Often Imitated, Never Duplicated

So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.

2 Peter 2:1

When given the chance to teach young women about true and lasting beauty, I’ll often begin my talk by handing the listeners a beautiful three stone engagement ring. As the girls admire the ring, I ask them to imagine that the man they love has just dropped to one knee, popped the question, and slipped this beauty onto their finger. Amidst the girl’s giggling, oohing, and aahing, I then ask them to imagine that on a later occasion, when they take their cherished new possession into the jewelry store for cleaning, the jeweler informs them that their “diamond” ring doesn’t actually contain any diamonds at all; it holds only a nice collection of carefully cut cubic zirconias. As giggles vanish and mouths drop open, I question the now indignant audience, “How would you feel if you found that your beautiful diamonds were really nothing more than pieces of glass?” The response is unanimous. “Mad!!!” they emphatically reply. When it comes to issues this important, everyone knows that looking good is not the issue–true value depends on authenticity.

Similar to 100 dollar bills, designer handbags, and priceless gems, the appearance of a Christian woman is often mimicked by counterfeits. As Mary Kassian explains, a foolish woman’s spirituality is nothing more than an outward show for selfish gain: 

The Proverbs 7 Wild Thing was a hypocrite. Her religious behavior was a farce. A hypocrite is a person who deliberately and habitually professes to be good when she is aware that she is not. The word itself is a transliteration of the Greek word hypokrites, which means play actor or stage player. In ancient Greek comedies and tragedies, hypokrites wore masks. The mask was the most essential part of the hypokrite’s costume. The hypokrite hid behind the mask, and the mask projected the necessary image. Hiding their true selves behind a mask is what hypocrites do…

A Girl-Gone-Wise isn’t afraid of being found out. She’s authentic. She’s honest about her struggles, and does not try to hide. Who she is in public is the same as who she is in private. There is no deceit and no contradiction.

(Girls Gone Wise, pp. 173-175)

Want to avoid the foolish woman’s hypocrisy and attain the authenticity of the Girl-Gone-Wise? Listen in as Mary provides some helpful advice… 

Related Post: Are You for Real?

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Illustration: Billy Alexander 

Avoiding the Danger of Wide Open Spaces

“The prudent sees the evil and hides himself,
But the naive go on, and are punished for it.”

Proverbs 22:3

My husband and I have two labradors named Khaki and Chester. Khaki and Chester have something in common, actually, two things, but this post is not about canine insanity. In addition to their shared craziness, my dogs also have in common a complete lack of wisdom. Sad, but true, my labs are utterly foolish creatures.

In order to protect our dogs, Joseph and I provided them with a large and roomy kennel in which they can romp and play without hindrance, yet still their hearts long for wide open spaces. Together they howl, “Don’t Fence Me In,” as they poke their furry snouts through any gap they can find between fenceposts and chainlink. In the folly of their thinking, my labs look at their gated enclosure and see only the restriction of their freedom. But with the memory of two dogs lost to the dangers of the road still fresh on my mind, I look at the fence from the opposite side, seeing in it Khaki and Chester’s protection. Safety is found when wise boundaries are established.

Teaching on the differences between wise and foolish women, Mary Kassian makes it clear that we, too, will find safety and protection by keeping within Scripturally-based boundaries:

How can a woman keep her way pure? By “guarding” (hedging) it according to God’s Word (Psalm 119:9). Practically, this means that we identify the common pitfalls of sexual sin and guard ourselves from stepping into those traps. We save ourselves “like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like a bird from the hand of the fowler” (Proverbs 6:5). We stay far away from the “thorns and snares” that entangle sinners (Proverbs 22:5). The Proverbs 7 woman did not do this. She did not establish hedges to protect herself from sexual sin. She overstepped ten boundaries that any woman who wishes to keep her way pure ought to hedge.

(Girls Gone Wise, p. 158)

In her book Girls Gone Wise, Mary expounds on the following ten tips regarding boundaries and purity gleaned from Proverbs 7:

  1. A Girl-Gone-Wise avoids unhealthy environments.
  2. A Girl-Gone-Wise avoids inappropriately pairing herself with men.
  3. A Girl-Gone-Wise avoids being in private, secluded places with men.
  4. A Girl-Gone-Wise avoids secret communication with men.
  5. A Girl-Gone-Wise controls the frequency and amount of contact with men.
  6. A Girl-Gone-Wise abides by curfew and nighttime boundaries.
  7. A Girl-Gone-Wise doesn’t inappropriately confide in men.
  8. A Girl-Gone-Wise doesn’t leave herself open and unguarded.
  9. A Girl-Gone-Wise maintains strict boundaries of physical contact with men.
  10. A Girl-Gone-Wise does everything she can to honor and affirm marriage covenants.

Here’s Mary with more teaching on the wise woman’s view of boundaries:

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Photo: Stella Levi

Thinking Too Little of Sex

 “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust…”

1 Thessalonians 4:3-5a

Ask the average Christian young person to describe what God wants them to know about sex, and you’ll probably hear something like this: 

“Thou shalt not have it.”

For far too many years, sex remained categorized as one of the taboo topics given little air time in the church. Armed with little more than the knowledge that God intended for sex to be saved until the wedding day, many Christian men and women have entered marriage with little biblical understanding of why God created sex in the first place. Well, apart from making babies, that is. Most people can wrap their minds around that particular concept.

In her chapter on the wise woman’s sexual conduct, author Mary Kassian highlights the Christian tendency to be “far too easily pleased” when it comes to grasping the importance of God’s design for human sexuality:

Most Christian discussions about sex and sexuality put the emphasis in the wrong place. They spend a whole lot of time focusing on what constitutes improper sexual conduct. They draw lines and boundaries that delineate pure from impure behavior. It seems to me that coming up with a list of “don’ts” somewhat misses the point. It tackles the issue from the wrong side. We can’t hope to know which behaviors we should avoid until we understand the reason that we ought to avoid them. What’s more, this approach lopsidedly focuses on behaviors to avoid, rather than attitudes and behaviors to cultivate. It can result in a pharisaical sense that we’re getting our sexuality right, when in fact, we’re getting it very wrong. Many married Christian women are guilty of wrongful sexual conduct, even though they may not technically be transgressing a specific biblical boundary. For example, a woman who is frigid toward her husband dishonors God’s pattern for sexuality as much as the one who commits adultery does. A married woman who uses sex to punish her husband is as wrong in her thinking about sex as an unmarried woman who hooks up with a guy just for the thrill of a fleeting night of pleasure.

The Bible’s principles for sexual conduct take the issue of sex a lot further than a written list of dos and don’ts. They emanate from the heart of God. He wants us to cherish and value our sexuality as much as He does…He wants us to live in such a way that our sexuality puts His glory on display.

(Girls Gone Wise, p. 137)

Learn more…

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Photo: Andrew C.

Riding Shotgun for a Reason

“She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.”

Genesis 2:23b

Mary Kassian’s got some advice for Christian women that would provoke many in today’s culture to react with laughter, outrage, or a combination of both. Even though her counsel on gender roles may not be popular, women can actually find a tremendous sense of freedom in the understanding that God made them fearfully, wonderfully, and differently!    

A major notion of this generation is that gender roles are insignificant and irrelevant. It doesn’t matter who pursues. It doesn’t matter who wears the pants. In fact, it’s good if women take the wheel. Men have had their turn, and for far too long! While it has made for an interesting–though tragic–social experiment, this theory neglects to take the created design of male and female into consideration. It assumes that we get to decide for ourselves what manhood, womanhood, and male-female relationships are all about. However, according to Scripture, we don’t. Our text in Proverbs reveals that a Girl-Gone-Wild “seizes” a man and compels him to “follow her.” A Girl-Gone-Wise knows that this pattern goes against God’s created design.

(Girls Gone Wise, p. 121)

In today’s video from Mary, discover why taking the passenger seat in a dating or marriage relationship is far more likely to get you to the right destination. 

Learn more at Girls Gone Wise.

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Photo: Bartek Ambrozik

If Looks Could Kill…

“Sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.”

Ephesians 5:3

Frank Sinatra used to croon about the spellbinding effect a woman’s body language could have on a man…

“Those fingers in my hair
That sly come hither stare
That strips my conscience bare
It’s witchcraft

And I’ve got no defense for it
The heat is too intense for it
What good would common sense for it do

Cause it’s witchcraft, wicked witchcraft…”

Although ol’ Frank referred to a woman’s seductive charms as being “wicked,” somehow I get the feeling he didn’t think this particular brand of wickedness was really bad at all. Yet according to Mary Kassian, flirtatious body language is a very serious matter. She says:   

The Bible makes a clear distinction between women who are truly “charming” and those who deceptively try to charm. Women who are charming are gracious, full of favor and elegance. Their selfless goodness makes them attractive from the inside out. Women who seductively try to charm have an underlying selfish agenda. Their intentions are impure. That’s why Proverbs 31:30 says, “Charm is deceitful.” There’s a huge difference between a Girl-Gone-Wise who looks and smiles at a guy to show that she likes him, and a Girl-Gone-Wild who looks and smiles at a guy to try to attract him.

A Wild Thing turns on her seductive charm in order to get a man to be turned on to her. The Sage Father warns his son about a woman like this: “Do not desire her beauty in your heart, and do not let her capture you with her eyelashes” (Proverbs 6:25). The father didn’t want his son to be enticed by flirtatious, coy glances. He wanted him to be aware of the danger of women who used body language to seduce men.

(Girls Gone Wise, p. 113)

Learn more about the contrast between the body language of a Wild Thing and a Girl-Gone-Wise in today’s teaching from Mary Kassian.

 

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Photo: barunpatro

Clothed with Christ

“Strength and dignity are her clothing…”

Proverbs 31:25a

“What should I wear? What should I wear?” The question can often be found on a mumbling female’s lips as she opens and closes one dresser drawer after another or stares blankly at the clothes lining the walls of her closet. “What should I wear?” is an important question, and one that Mary Kassian has given much consideration. She notes that in the book of Proverbs, a wise woman dresses radically different from the wild thing of Proverbs 7. In her book Girls Gone Wise in a World Gone Wild, Mary explains why a wise woman chooses to adorn herself with clothing that is becoming, decent, and moderate: 

Paul tells us in Romans 13:14 to wear Christ. “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” (italics added). A Christian woman clothes herself with Christ. That’s what she wears. That’s how she covers herself. That’s how she makes herself beautiful. The clothing of Christ is the most important item in her wardrobe. Her external appearance should display, and not deny or distract from, the righteous clothing of Christ that she wears. The visible should point to the invisible. The temporal should point to the eternal. The symbol should point to the reality. In the final analysis, your clothing is not meant to be about you–it’s meant to display the deep and profound spiritual truths about the gospel. That’s why it’s highly important that you wrestle with the practical question of what and what not to wear.

(Girls Gone Wise, p. 101-102 )  

Illustration: Hilde Vanstraelen

On the Prowl

“…at every corner she lies in wait.”

Proverbs 7:12b

Do you give in order to get? Have you become skilled at watching and waiting for the perfect moment to pounce on what you want? If so, Mary Kassian says you may be a wild thing with a “predatory me-focus” instead of the Girl-Gone-Wise with a “productive kingdom-focus”:

The Girl-Gone-Wise doesn’t lie in wait for a man, because she doesn’t need a man to fulfill her life’s purpose. Although marriage is a good and legitimate goal, her life is about so much more. She has a profound sense of mission. More than anything, she wants to know Christ and make Him known. She wants to display His greatness by doing the good works that He prepared in advance for her to do. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). The Girl-Gone-Wise understands that regardless of whether she is single or married, her overriding purpose is to display Christ and to be busy with the kingdom work that he has for her in that season of her life.

(Girls Gone Wise, p. 89)

Find more info at the Girls Gone Wise website.

Photo: Brian Lary

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Footloose & Foolish

“Ponder the path of your feet;
then all your ways will be sure.”

Proverbs 4:26

What do your feet have to say about the type of woman you are? According to the book of Proverbs, you can tell a lot about a woman by keeping an eye on her tootsies, “Her feet do not stay at home; now in the street, now in the market, and at every corner she lies in wait” (Prov. 7:11-12). You’ve heard of restless legs syndrome? Apparently, the wild woman suffers from a slightly different malady–restless feet syndrome.

Author Mary Kassian believes the woman that’s always on the move needs to take steps away from the path followed by the Proverbs 7 woman and toward the trail blazed by the noble woman of Proverbs 31:   

The habits of the Girl-Gone-Wise are very different from the Wild Thing. Both are busy, but they are busy with different things. The Wild Thing is busy indulging herself. She is constantly out and about, looking for a good time. And she neglects things on the home front. The Girl-Gone-Wise attends to her home life. Her habits are self-disciplined, self-sacrificing, and directed by the needs of her household. “Her feet stay at home.”

(p. 75)

Find more info from Mary Kassian here.

Illustration: Gabriella Fabbri


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Bold & Brash or Meek & Quiet?

According to author Mary Kassian, the roaring female of feminism is in serious need of an attitude adjustment:

The world thinks a sassy, defiant attitude is the epitome of empowered womanhood. It breaks my heart when I see Christian women fall for this lie. The Evil One has deceived us. A rebellious attitude does not strengthen a woman…

Although our culture portrays the ideal woman as aggressive and tough–both physically and sexually–this is a far cry from what woman was created to be. According to Scripture, it’s a woman’s softness, her ability to receive, respond, and relate, that is her greatest strength.

(Girls Gone Wise, pp. 62, 64)

Learn more about the contrast between the attitude of a wise woman and a wild woman in this week’s edition of the Girls Gone Wise video book blog.

Photo: hagit

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