Friday, January 20, 2017

Art Friday: Photography of Lord Snowdon

Antony Charles Robert Armstrong-Jones, 1st Earl of Snowdon
Royal photographer

1930 - 2017

Lord Snowdon was married to Princess Margaret, younger daughter of King George VI and younger sister of Queen Elizabeth II. Margaret and Snowden divorce in 1978 (married in 1960). Lord Snowden died on the 13th of January this year and in remembrance of his royal photography I thought I would share a small selection of his work. 

Snowdon's first royal assignment in 1957
Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Anne photographed by Lord Snowdon, October, 10, 1957
Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Mother, Elizabeth (1997)
The Queen and with her grandson Peter Phillips
Princess Dianna and Harry
Princess Dianna
Queen Mother, Elizabeth 
William and Harry
Harry and his Dad (Prince of Wales)
HRH Princess Margaret, 1967
Princess Anne, Queen Elizabeth's only daughter

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Women of the Bible: Ruth

But Ruth said: 
“Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, And there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, If anything but death parts you and me.” (Ruth 1:16-17)

Ruth was born in the land of Moab, a border nation and frequent enemy of Israel. Ruth was a Gentile. When famine struck the land of Judah, Elimelech, his wife Naomi, and their two sons, Mahlon and Kilion, journeyed from their home in Bethlehem to Moab for relief.  Elimelech died in Moab.  Mahlon married Ruth in Moab while Kilion married Orpah.  After about ten years, both Mahlon and Kilion died. Ruth, out of love and loyalty to her mother-in-law, accompanied Naomi back to Bethlehem, while Orpah stayed in Moab.

There was a relative of Naomi’s husband, a man of great wealth, of the family of Elimelech. His name was Boaz. So Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, “Please let me go to the field, and glean heads of grain after him in whose sight I may find favour.” And she said to her, “Go, my daughter.” Then she left, and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers. And she happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the family of Elimelech. Now behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem, and said to the reapers, “The Lord be with you!” And they answered him, “The Lord bless you!” Then Boaz said to his servant who was in charge of the reapers, “Whose young woman is this?” (Ruth 2: 1-5)

Naomi steered Ruth into a relationship with a distant relative named Boaz and Ruth trusted Naomi. Boaz married Ruth and took her in, rescuing her from the sad life of a widow in ancient times. Remarkably, Ruth abandoned her lifelong home and her pagan gods and she became a Jew by choice. 

What can we learn from Ruth:

* Ruth was an incredibly kind, loyal and caring woman and she had great her concern for others over herself. She could have gone off to her own family, instead she chose to stay and devote her time to her mother-in-law (Naomi). She took care of her as if she was her own mother. God rewarded her for her deep love and loyalty to Naomi, with the security of marriage and children and that in turn secured Naomi's older years too. Ruth had no idea that by helping Naomi she would eventually become a blessing in her own life.

Even if  you are not fond of your mother-in-law, make the effort, reach out and make her important in your life, not for any reward, but because, like Ruth, its the Godly thing to do. 

* Ruth was a courageous woman, she was a foreigner living in a strange land where the language and culture would have been very different to her own. Furthermore, she was poor and utterly dependent on the charity of others and being two women on their own, this would have been even harder.  She worked gleaming in the fields which would have been a difficult and back-breaking task — but she did it regardless.  We too may have to do difficult tasks at time even if we don't enjoy them. Think of those women who go off to work when they would rather be at home — God is very much in their lives watching over them as they go about their daily activities and in time will be rewarded for their faith in God, just as He rewarded Ruth. 

* Her desire to follow the Lord and leave behind her old pagan ways — doing the right thing is not always easy but is the best way to honor God.  Ruth made her choice and never looked back.

* None of these things would have been on Ruth's radar as she was planning her life — we often dream about our future then reality arrives and our dreams evaporate and our lives take a sharp turn to the left. God is in control and just as he intervened in Ruth and Naomi's lives, He does he same in ours. 

So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife; and when he went in to her, the Lord gave her conception, and she bore a son. Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a close relative; and may his name be famous in Israel! And may he be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you, who is better to you than seven sons, has borne him.” Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her bosom, and became a nurse to him. Also the neighbor women gave him a name, saying, “There is a son born to Naomi.” And they called his name Obed. He is the father of Jesse, the father of David.

Now this is the genealogy of Perez: Perez begot Hezron; Hezron begot Ram, and Ram begot Amminadab; Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon; Salmon begot Boaz, and Boaz begot Obed; Obed begot Jesse, and Jesse begot David. (Ruth 4:13-22)

Women of the Bible links: 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Hidden power

And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive. (Matthew 21:22)

Have you watched the stories from Syria and wish you could reach out and help those poor innocent children who are suffering so badly?

Have you seen families in your church that are in desperate need for assistances but its beyond your capability?

Have you heard of someone with financial problems and would love to help but you can't? 

A family breaking up due to domestic violence?

I have and I feel powerless and weak. It makes me feel really sad and wanting to cry.  I want to help but don't know how and feel that these problems are just too big for me.  ๐Ÿ˜•

Does this mean we can never help solve the problems around us? No, we can make a differences and huge differences. 

Every Christian woman has access to a tremendous source of power—PRAYER. 

How many of your prayers have been answered? Many I am sure, some might be small but others amazing and big that have been life changing. Prayers are powerful and we should never forget this. 

The important thing about praying, don't stop and don't give up — there are times when it feels like our prayers aren't being answered, God doesn't respond instantly and He does make us wait for a reason. Do not become discouraged when you feel you aren't making a differences, you are and ever pray is important.  Why not keep a pray journal this year and write down a weekly list. Look back in December  and I think you will be surprised at the number of prayers that have been answered. Of course not everything can be ticked off as resolved, but God has His reasons for this and we may never fully understand why. 

God knows our limitations. He knows when we're struggling to have faith. And He can still work a miracle. The next time we'd like to intervene and try and straighten someone or something out, I suggest we get on our knees and tell God about the situation. It may take years to see results, but God can use our prayers to accomplish incredible things. (Mary Burkholder)

Just as God released Peter from prison in the verses below, with God "anything is possible".

 Acts 12:5-7

Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant[a] prayer was offered to God for him by the church. And when Herod was about to bring him out, that night Peter was sleeping, bound with two chains between two soldiers; and the guards before the door were keeping the prison. Now behold, an angel of the Lord stood by him, and a light shone in the prison; and he struck Peter on the side and raised him up, saying, “Arise quickly!” And his chains fell off his hands. Then the angel said to him, “Gird yourself and tie on your sandals”; and so he did. And he said to him, “Put on your garment and follow me.” So he went out and followed him, and did not know that what was done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. 10 When they were past the first and the second guard posts, they came to the iron gate that leads to the city, which opened to them of its own accord; and they went out and went down one street, and immediately the angel departed from him. 11 And when Peter had come to himself, he said, “Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent His angel, and has delivered me from the hand of Herod and from all the expectation of the Jewish people.” 12 So, when he had considered this, he came to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose surname was Mark, where many were gathered together praying. 13 And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a girl named Rhoda came to answer. 14 When she recognized Peter’s voice, because of her gladness she did not open the gate, but ran in and announced that Peter stood before the gate. 15 But they said to her, “You are beside yourself!” Yet she kept insisting that it was so. So they said, “It is his angel.” 16 Now Peter continued knocking; and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. 17 But motioning to them with his hand to keep silent, he declared to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, “Go, tell these things to James and to the brethren.” And he departed and went to another place.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Art Friday: Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria 

(Alexandrina Victoria; 24 May 1819 – 22 January 1901) was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until her death. From 1 May 1876, she adopted the additional title of Empress of India.

She inherited the throne aged 18, after her father's three elder brothers had all died, leaving no surviving legitimate children.

Victoria married her first cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, in 1840. Their nine children married into royal and noble families across the continent, tying them together and earning her the sobriquet "the grandmother of Europe". After Albert's death in 1861, Victoria plunged into deep mourning and avoided public appearances. As a result of her seclusion, republicanism temporarily gained strength, but in the latter half of her reign her popularity recovered. Her Golden and Diamond Jubilees were times of public celebration.

Queen Victoria reigned  of 63 years and seven months is known as the Victorian era. It was a period of industrial, cultural, political, scientific, and military change within the United Kingdom, and was marked by a great expansion of the British Empire. She was the last British monarch of the House of Hanover. Her son and successor, Edward VII, belonged to the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, the line of his father.

The wedding of Victoria and Albert by George Halter

Painting by Franz Xaver Winterhalter (1859)
Victoria's family in 1846 by Franz Xaver Winterhalter. Left to right: Prince Alfred and the Prince of Wales; the Queen and Prince Albert; Princesses Alice, Helena and Victoria. Painting by Franz Xaver Winterhalter, 1846

Princess Victoria with her spaniel Dash by George Hayter, 1833
Queen Victoria aged 80 (1899)

Photograph by J. J. E. Mayall, 1860
Queen Victoria and John Brown, 1863 - photograph by G W Wilson

During her widowhood, two servants became important to Victoria, much to the distress of her family. During her early widowhood, Victoria heavily relied on her Scottish Highland servant John Brown from Balmoral. There were rumours of a romance and a secret marriage, and Victoria was called Mrs. Brown. Brown treated the queen in a rough and familiar, but kind manner, which she relished. In return, Brown was allowed many privileges which infuriated Victoria’s family.
Queen Victoria's wedding dress

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

An excellent wife: Investing in your marriage

One of the most important things in my life is keeping my marriage strong and healthy. ๐Ÿ’•

If you neglect your garden, it becomes overgrown and things start to suffer. Some plants will die and others will battle hard to get above the weeds. But overall, the garden as a whole will no longer be as healthy and as beautiful as it once was. Marriage is a bit like this. Neglect your marriage and it becomes overgrown with weeds and things start with wither and die, it become bitter and very unhappy. 

As the say goes "marriage is hard work" and it is. 

You can't sit back and expect it to remain rosy as it was during the honey moon stage if you don't do anything.  We all need to work on our marriages to keep them fresh, strong, healthy, loving and romantic and that takes quite a lot of investing. 

As wives our main goal is to please our husbands, and likewise husbands to please their wives. Marriage isn't all about what the husband wants and nor is it about what the wife wants — it is about making each other happy because you love each other. ๐Ÿ’–๐Ÿ’–

To have a happy, harmonious marriage I need to do things my husband likes, for example cook his favourite meals, make sure the home is the way he likes it and kept it clean and tidy, taking care of the finances so they don't strain the budget, make sure bills are paid on time.  

Marriage is often a list of duties that we must perform and as Christians it is also submitting to our husbands and that all sounds very dry and unromantic, because often what is not mentioned is that a isn't all about cooking and cleaning, it is far more. Your husband is your bestest friend (*) and what do best friends like to do —having fun, enjoying each others company, having long conversations, laughing together, sharing stories, being intimate, cozying up on the couch and watching  a movie together, going for romantic walks, sitting outside and star gazing, caring for each other when not feeling well, listening when they sad, sharing tears, building each other up, encouraging each other, sharing ideas and thoughts, praying together. Doesn't that sounds like the ingredients to a beautiful marriage?

(*) Bestest friend: “Someone who is there for you day after day, no matter what, somebody better than a bestfriend, that has never left your side from day they got there, you have the most and best memories with them, fall out over stupid little stuff and are friends again with the hour, take stupid photos, talk about everything, the one you can trust with your life. Makes you smile by thinking about them, never fails too make you laugh or smile and always brightens up your day, bestestfriends is a promise not a label and you prove too eachother its not just for a day its forever!”

And we do all these things because we love our husbands and when you love someone, it is so easy to be kind, caring and loving.  When you have acknowledged that your husband is your bestest friend, things like compromising is so much easier. You are happy to give up something to make your husband happy and likewise he will be happy to comprise too.  When one can comprise, listen and being willing to make the other person happy, arguments disappear and marriage become stronger and stronger. 

Of course I am a realists and not all marriages work so perfectly and it can be very uneven — wives struggling to love men that aren't very loveable and husbands who have difficult wives. However, God has asked us to love one another, so we need to try really hard to do this and in time it will become easier. Never give up, keep on praying, talk to someone who is understanding and supportive. There is nothing wrong with seeking help to strengthen your marriage. Keep looking heavenward, as God knows your troubles and will help you through these troubled times. 

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

John 13:34-45


Monday, January 9, 2017

An excellent wife: Taking care of our husbands

I wrote a post back in 2014 about taking care of our menfolk, as for many, life has been tough recently. Many men, unemployment is real, they are seeing a decline in industries that they have worked in for decades  (i.e. the decline in the manufacturing industry) and many feel disenchanted with current politics, in fact many feel completely ignored and forgotten. They do the best they can for their families, but they are feeling the pain a great deal. 

We have seen the evidence of this with the results of the current US election — of those men who voted for Trump many were white middle to older men outside of the major urban centres. These are the men who feel the most forgotten, feel as if they are no longer in control, unable to find suitable employment, having to work multiple jobs to make ends meet or seeing that their area of employment is shrinking and no one coming to their aid. They feel as if governments have abandoned them and they have looked elsewhere to find answers. This has happened in Australia and elsewhere. No longer do many feel that conventional politicians can solve their problems. 

Whilst I cannot promise that the new administration will be able to solve any of the problems these men want addressed, us women can do something. We need to accept that our menfolk are not necessarily doing fine. That the long hours at work and working multiple jobs is not good for their health, long term. 

Men working long hours, often in places that have inflexible or non-family friendly conditions are not doing themselves or their families any good. It slowly affects their health, not just physically, but emotionally and mentally. Have you ever wondered why more men die from heart attacks than women? It might sound noble for them to invest many hours in their careers (or undertake several jobs to meet the financial demands of the home) but it isn’t a wise thing to do and us women need to look out for them. 

Not only do our menfolk have demanding hours at work (some with unpleasant bosses and work situations) they also have the stressors of bills and the mortgage to consider plus meeting all their home duties such as mowing the lawn and fixing a tap etc.. Wives need to be vigilant and help in anyway we can.  We can:

  • we can be frugal, reduce waste and be wise with the finances
  • we can make sure our husbands eat healthy home cooked meals
  • that they have a good nights rest
  • plenty of fresh air and exercise
  • make sure our homes are a place of comfort and retreat (not messy and noisy when our husband comes home)
  • not bombarding our husband's with demands and questions when he walks through the door
  • reduce arguments and unreasonableness in the home by guarding our hearts and tongues
  • offer encouragement, hugs ….
but sometimes the reality means that we as wives need to do much more. For some women there may not be any other choice but to find some type of employment to help financially. There is nothing wrong in sharing the load (that is the role of the helpmate), even in the short term and will help reduce your husband's stress level.  

A more tragic consequence of men struggling to make ends meet is suicide. The rate of suicide is highest among men in their 40's-50s. They try so hard to provide for their families and some find it far too difficult in the end. According to the latest US statistics, the suicide rate for middle aged men (aged 45-64) has increased by 43% in the last 30 years.  There is plenty of evidences that shows that poverty, hopelessness and poor health affects us all, in particular men providing for their families. 

We as wives, need to take care of our menfolk and not encourage them to work these long hours, to boost their confidences and self-worth — building them up to make them stronger. We need to watch for increases in stress level, blood pressure, difficulty sleeping, not wanting to talk (bottling up their problems) or not interacting with the family as they once did. We need to demonstrate to our husbands that we love them, that we believe in them, we stand by them no matter what happens, we need them to understand we have confidences in them, trust them and they are doing a wonderful job for their family. There are times when we need to be extra strong for our husbands. 

And finally - wives pray for your husbands daily (even those who have unbelieving husbands) so they have the strength to do their work well, seek God's wisdom and remain in good health. 

I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine. 

Song of Solomon 6:3

Friday, January 6, 2017

Art Friday: Madame de Pompadour

Jeanne Antoinette Poisson, Marquise de Pompadour
29 December 1721 – 15 April 1764

A member of the French court and was the official chief mistress of Louis XV from 1745 to 1751, when she then became and remained a close friend and confidant to the king until her death. She was born in Paris, France, and died there from tuberculosis at 42.

Madame de Pompadour, though best remembered as mistress to the king, was in fact a patron of the arts, science and literature; she sponsored many painters, sculptors, architects, furniture craftsmen, interior designers and writers, including Voltaire. She facilitated the development of Sรจvres, which soon became one of the largest manufacturers of porcelain in Europe and provided many high-paying jobs to its district.  She exerted a strong influence over the development of the Rococo style, and advised the King on matters ranging from art to foreign policy. 

Portrait by Franรงois Boucher, 1756

Francois Boucher was a prolific painter in all genres as well as a designer for the theatre, and for tapestries, book illustrations and porcelain figures. His first commission for the king was in 1735. The king's mistress, Madame de Pompadour, was Boucher's chief patron from 1750 until her death in 1764.
Madame de Pompadour, pastel by Maurice Quentin de La Tour, shown at the Paris Salon, 1755 (Louvre)

Madam de Pomadour at her Tambour Frame bt Francois-Hubert Drouais

The painting shows the one-time mistress of Louis XV in the last year of her life. The canvas is signed and dated on the work-table as begun in April 1763. The head, painted on a rectangle of canvas inserted into the painting, was presumably taken from life, and the rest of the picture completed in May 1764, the month after the death of Madame de Pompadour. 

by Franรงois-Hubert Drouais.

The apartment of Madame de Pompadour


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