Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Mothers Love


They give so much and ask for so little in return.

This is a photo of my mother when I was a tiny baby, doesn't she look so happy. She was very happy, as I was such joy after much sorrow of loosing a baby less than 2 years prior. 

My mother is now very elderly and no longer strong or able-bodied, but I love her just the same. My mother has given me with some beautiful memories that I will treasure and cherish forever. 

Most of all the other beautiful things in life comes twos and three, by dozens and hundreds.
  Plenty of roses, stars, sunsets, rainbows, brothers, and sisters, aunts and cousins
but only one mother in the whole world.

Kate Douglas Wiggin

Memories of my mother—

The smells of home cooked meals each day

The yummy cakes and biscuits she baked each week  

The books and classical music that occupied our home

My mother sewing and knitting us all clothes

Teaching me the many skills I have needed later in life

The sound of the piano on Sunday evening, the singing of hymns together

The cosiness of home that my mother created

Her ease with others

Talking to strangers

To see beauty around me

Her kindness and care of others

The importance of family

Her work ethic, her determination

Her example as a helpmeet to my father

Her love, her hugs.

Her smiles

Our special outings together

Believing in me

Her love of the Lord, her faith, her strength, her courage

Her love for my father

To be honest, it has nothing to do with the number of hours you spend with your children, it is what you teach them, show them, share with them, laugh with them, and how much you love them that is important.

Its the memories you build together that is important. 

A mother's love is patient and forgiving when all others are forsaking, it never fails or falters, even though the heart is breaking.

~ Helen Steiner Rice ~

Monday, July 25, 2016

Clothing, jewels, hair and makeup

“In like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works.”

(Timothy 2:9-10)

Modest apparel, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing — what does this all mean?

Interestedly it means many different things depending on who you ask. For some women it means only wearing skirts and dresses, to others it means covering up but wearing trousers. Some women wear old-world clothing, others go for the modern look.  Some women choose to limit their jewellery to the bare minimum, others wear necklaces, earrings, bangles etc... Some women believe that they wardrobe should only contain a few items of clothing, others have no issue with the amount they buy. Makeup can vary from none to lots. 

Who is right—this is a very personal issue that we are alone will be accountable to God for. This is my take on these two verses:

* Modest apparel—Modesty has nothing to do with being dowdy. It has nothing to do with looking ugly or plain and it doesn't mean you can't wear colour or lace, modern designs or something very pretty.  Modesty can most certainly be beautiful, elegant, graceful and feminine as I have shared with you in previous posts. What it does mean is dressing in the a way that is does not cause men to stumble, it doesn't dominate our lives or draws unnecessary attention, does not become an idol or eats up our money. This doesn't mean I should dress poorly, in Proverbs 31 ".... her clothing is fine linen and purple", but her outward appearance is not as important as  "... a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised". Serving the Lord is always far more important to what we wear. 

I would like to add a comment in regards to makeup, for those who do wear it (I do), whilst not mentioned in these verses, I think propriety and moderation means that whatever you place on your face needs to be in moderation. Wearing makeup can make a women look cheap and worldly, but a soft and modest covering can look lovely and feminine and does not draw unwanted attention or give the wrong impression.

* Braided hair—There is nothing wrong with styling your hair in different ways, nor is there an issue with a trip to the hairdressers for a trim. We all like to play with our hair but when it starts to cost lots of money and takes up much of our time it becomes a concern as it means it is taking precious time away from our "good works" and that is a problem.

* Gold or pearls—I wear my mothers pearls quite often, pearls love to be wore, the heat of the body keeps them in very good condition. Paul wasn't saying we can't wear pearls,  gold or other jewellery, it comes down to moderation and making sure that our focus is less about the outward appearance and more about inner beauty.

Wearing a necklace is harmless and often jazzes up an outfit and makes it special, my mother always put on a brooch or some beads (pearls on Sundays) when she was going out. They didn't dominate her outfit and she never wore anything that was over the top or of great expense. If you choose to wear jewellery, remember to buy with care and not make it your passion and idol.

* Costly clothes—I found a deep red long skirt the other day online, it was beautiful and would been very modest, however, it cost $2,500. Whilst modest, it was very costly and I shouldn't be wasting that sort of money on one skirt, regardless of its modesty. Our thoughts should not be on the next seasons fashion or how many shoes we own—we should have enough clothes to meet our practical needs and no more.  What message are we sending others when we parade around in costly clothes and dripping with expensive jewels, certainly not one of Christian moderation. What do others think when they see you in a different outfit everyday—a woman who spends lots of her wardrobe and certainly not one with Christlike attributes. Its not our clothes or jewels that should be shining rather our hearts.

In all things we do, including what we wear, as Christians we are to bring honour and glory to the God we profess to love, doing nothing out of vain conceit (Philippians 2:3) and remembering that “man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7)

Our true beauty is not our clothing or our jewels, it is our gentle and quiet spirit. Our outer beauty will fade with age (nothing we can do about that), but our hearts should be exceptionally beautiful and "precious in the sight of God" (1 Peter 3:4). 

Links to other articles on clothing:

Friday, July 22, 2016

Art Friday: Adoration of the Shepherds

Painting: Adoration of the Shepherds

Artist: Sebastiano del Piombo (1485-1547)
Born:Venice, Italy

The painting "Adoration of the Shepherds" was badly damaged in the 1700s when it was attempted to remove the original 16th century painting from its wooden board and transfer to canvas. Over the years attempts have been made to repair the artwork with three centuries of overpainting. After thousands of hours of painstaking work by expert conservators, it is now fully repaired. The project took ten years and was lead by the Cambridge Fitzwilliam Museum (United Kingdom).

The painting, dated to 1510, may have already been in trouble, with the paint surface lifting, when it landed in the French royal collection in the 18th century, where the king’s craftsmen specialised in transferring panel paintings to canvas. On smaller paintings it was sometimes possible to shave the surface of the board off, but on a large scale work such as this another piece of fabric was glued to the front of the painting, the whole picture peeled off, canvas glued to the back, and then the facing removed. Often it worked surprisingly well. Sometimes, as in this case, it was a disaster. (Source: Guardian)

Sources used in this blog post: 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Modern modest and how it varies between women.

What one woman sees as modest may not be modest for someone else. I think all three outfits below are modest. There is no plunging neck lines, the skirts are to the knee and each outfit is very feminine and pretty. However for some Christians, their definition of modesty is different and would only include outfits that are much longer or perhaps to the ankle. 

This is far more suitable for some women (all from Shabby Apple) — each outfit is long, the shoulders are well covered, the necklines are high and once again, they are very feminine.  I like all these outfits and they are certainly very modest to wear. 

Other women prefer to wear clothes that are very traditional in style and do not follow modern trends. And there are those who love to reproduce outfits that are common from the pioneer or Victoria era.  This makes women confused or uncertain about the definition of  "modesty" and what it means. 

Sometimes it can feel that you haven't been reading the right set of "rules" and that your rules about modesty appear to be the wrong rules. Modesty isn't about a set of rules to follow rigidly and to impose on others and since reading many blogs (and comments) on the topic, my definition of modesty is certainly not the same as some other women.

How ever you personally define modesty it is ultimately between you and God — and it is not a competition between women.

Most importantly when it comes to clothing — our clothing does not DEFINE us and nor is it the most important part of us. Instead: 

* How we spend our time. 

* How we treat other people.

* How we spread joy and kindness in the world.

* How we behave towards those we don't particular like.

* How tolerant we are of those who are different.

* How we treat our loved ones.

* And most importantly, how we spend time for God.

These are what are important in our live and not we store in our wardrobes.  

Do not let your adornment be merely outward--arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel-- rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. 
1 Peter 3:3-4 

We should focus less on what we wear and more on what we do. A quiet and gentle spirit is far more important to God than whether our skirts are knee, mid calf or to the ankle. The most modest woman can still miss the mark if her focus is pursuing worldly activities rather than being Christ in action.  And for some women — making sure that others notice she is ALWAYS modest in her outfits and letting everyone know that she is following "the right rules" is just as bad. 

Remember that there are some amazing women out there doing God's work quietly and without the need of fanfare or noise and may not be dressing to your level of modesty. 

Links of interest:

What's the issue with wearing leggings?

Why I wear skirts and dresses

The history of the mini-skirt

* Skin-tight clothing

* Is there anything wrong about wearing stilettos

Monday, July 18, 2016

Why are there so many superheroes?

Superman, Batman, Spiderman, Ant-man, Thor, Captan America, Green Arrow, Iron Man, Hulk, Green Lantern, Flash Wolverine, Steel, the Fantastic Four . . . . plus the hundreds of other superhero created by Marvel and DC over the last 80 years. And with every superhero is a villain or two. 

Superheroes are not new — Superman (or Clarke Kent) was created in 1932 and Batman (or otherwise known as Bruce Wayne) was created in 1939. Many millions of children around the world have grown up with these superheroes and spent lots of pocket money buying the comic books. Modern children (and adults alike) flock in very large numbers to see the latest Marvel or DC movie — we have the X-Men franchise (8 thus far), we have the Batman and Superman franchises and it just keeps on growing. There is money to be made in these franchise (for example, the three Batman movies made $US1.45 billion and the three Superman movies made $US1.11 billion). Disney bought Marvel comics in 2008 for $US4 billion and have thus far made $US7 billion.

Superheroes are all the rage right now and Hollywood (Disney, Warner Bros. and Fox in particular) are all making the most of it and have plenty more movies in the pipe line.

The superhero was born in an age of violence and destitution. The first superheroes emerged in the 1930's at a time when most of the world was enduring a pronounced economic downturn and aggressive military policies were pushing the global powers toward the path of war. With the world on the precipice and the general public underpaid and underfed it was a world sorely in need of heroes, whether real or imagined. (source)

Not only can you watch superhero movies, you can watch them on TV as a series (i.e. Arrow, Jessica Jones or Gotham) and you can buy all the merchandise, and its endless. You can buy quilt covers, clothing, dress-ups for children, your breakfast cereal is likely to have a superhero on it. Everywhere you look is another superhero (or the matching villain).  In fact much of this merchandise is aimed at your children and they are highly successful in sucking in children from the youngest to the oldest. 

Lets spend a moment thinking about a superhero and the villain — a superhero saves the world and the villain tries to destroy it. Sound familiar, because it is. Superheroes, after some sort of life changing event gain special powers that is unique to him (or her) and he is able to play god. He can run faster, he can become invisible, he can fly through space—he is the good guy that no one ever quite sees or understands but they all know he does great things and often the saviour of the universe. He is also willing to sacrifice himself for the great good of the world.  The villain, on the other hand, is bad but also has special powers and he is playing satan. This is played out across every single superhero story, the plot may change slightly but the theme is always the same. Some movies will have more than one superhero—each one with a different power, all working together for good. 

Some movies are very funny and more like a comedy (i.e. Guardians of the Galaxy), other are very dark and depressing, or there are those that are action-filled and full of adventure. Some are aimed at children, others are made for adults. 

Why are they so popular? We, as a society like the idea of having a saviour, someone that can save the world from the bad guys—especially when the world is so uncertain and we are surrounded by tragedy and sadness. Funny how society wants a saviour, but goes searching in Hollywood rather than simply opening their bibles — as there is already a saviour that has far more power than any superhero. But the world has rejected the Heavenly Father for Marvel and DC instead.  There is only ONE GOD — we need no more, we known that none of us have the same powers or abilities and we know that the comic characters are just silly made up stories to provide entertainment.  Nothing more.

"there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live". (1 Corinthians 8:6) 

Society does need saving but only the Lord Jesus Christ can do that. Should you watch these superhero movies, that is some personal to you. I have watched some of them, they can be entertaining and fun, they are often rather silly with weak plots, others are violent and dark and a few are R rated. If you have any doubts about watching any movie, including those about superheroes — remember James 1:5 and ask God for wisdom. 

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

If you choose to watch one of the these movies, don't take the moral lessons they weave through stories as truth, its all a lie — the world can not save it's self, man is destine to destruction. Only God can save us, nothing else. There ins't a superhero just around the corner with special powers—there has always been one God, that sadly the world has rejected Him. And as for villains, Satan is always watching and waiting for us to stumble and desire him more than God.  

Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’  There is no other commandment greater than these.”So the scribe said to Him, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is no other but HeAnd to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbour as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”Now when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” But after that no one dared question Him. (Mark 12:29-34) 

Friday, July 15, 2016

Art Friday: Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette

Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette

Artist: Pierre-Auguste Renior (1841-1919) French

Dimensions: 131 x 175 cm (51.6 x 68.9 inches)

Painted in the 1870s and shown at the Impressionist exhibition in 1877. 

Though some of his friends appear in the picture, Renoir's main aim was to convey the vivacious and joyful atmosphere of this popular dance garden on the Butte Montmartre. The study of the moving crowd, bathed in natural and artificial light, is handled using vibrant, brightly coloured brushstrokes. The somewhat blurred impression of the scene prompted negative reactions from contemporary critics.

The Moulin de la Galette is a mill located at the top of the hill of Montmartre and in the 1870s it served as the main centre of Sunday leisure for the local young people. Renoir painted this scene of dancing en plein air, directly in the open, fascinated by the truly folk atmosphere of the amusements. 

The artist’s younger brother, Edmond Renoir, gave this description of his work on the Bal in 1879: “He took up residence there for half a year, became acquainted with the little world of the place and its particular life that no models would have conveyed and, having got into the atmosphere of that popular little restaurant, he depicted with amazing enthusiasm the unrestrained hurly-burly that prevailed there.

The choice of subject was to an enormous degree predetermined by the circumstances of Renoir’s life in Montmartre. At that time the artist was mixing closely with a group of young painters who were regulars at the Café de la Nouvelle Athènes. They all happily agreed to pose for Renoir’s painting, were involved in recruiting models and chased after the local girls. For them it was a performance, a sort of “happening” and all that remained for Renoir to do was to catch their poses on the fly.

It is oil on canvas painting measuring 131 x 175 cm. Renoir also painted a smaller version with the same title and this measured 78 x 114 cm.  From 1879 to 1894 the Bal du moulin de la Galette was the property of French painter Gustave Caillebotte. When he died, it became a property of the state in lieu of death duties. The smaller version is in the hands of a private collector. For many years it belonged to John Hay Whitney and after his death his widow sold the painting at $78 million to Ryoei Saito.  When Saito announced, that on his death the Bal du moulin de la Galette and Portrait of Dr. Gachet, van Gogh painting he owned, would be cremated along with him, it caused international outrage. Fortunately, Saito’s company had severe financial difficulties. The bank which held it as collateral sold it to a private collector.

Information contained in this blog post has been sourced from the following:

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

How do you study the bible?

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

I recently studied the Gospel of John and found it fascinating and learned many things I was unaware of or unclear about and in the process, bringing me closer to the Lord Jesus Christ. I used Ray C. Stedman's book "Exploring the Gospel of John: God's Loving Word" which I found very good.  We all study the bible in different ways—each of us have found ways that work for us and its important to note that our leaning is likely to vary to other ladies. What works for me, may not work for someone else.  

Some women attend bible study groups and find them very useful. Other women find them less so.

Some women undertaken online study groups or courses.

Some women study along with their husband. 

Some women study alone and may select a number of authors in their learning. 

Some use DVDs, CDs, books, online . . .

Some women take lots of notes and keep bible journals, others don't.

None of these ways are wrong and we shouldn't discourage women who, i.e. attend a study group, just because someone has had a bad experience.  What is most important is that we are all studying our bibles daily and through reading the bible are grew closer to God, increasing our understand of Him and learn to become more godly women.

Reading the bible: To study the bible requires reading the bible. This might sound strange, but many people read books about the bible, blogs about Christian living or devotional material, they may even nibble at the text—but they don't read the bible. Christian literature is great and there is many great authors to read, but NONE are a substitute to the reading scriptures. Make reading the bible the main part of your studies s and everything else support materials.

The next question you might ask, what version of the bible—I stick with two that I have been brought up with—the King James and the New King James. I know very little about the others and I would suggest you do your research before deciding on the one you want to read.

What should I study? Everything from Genesis to Revelations—the entire bible is for ALL women. Some women tend to focus on the parts of the bible written for women i.e. about being a homemaker, modesty, submission, caring for our children etc.. Whilst these are very important and should be part of our study, women need to understand and learn from the entire bible and not only these select parts. No one part of the bible is more important to any other part of the bible.  In time, we should read the entire bible and in our lifetime—we should read it many times.

The bible can be difficult to understand, especially if you are studying alone or your husband is not a believer so you can't ask for help. This is one of the reasons why some women give up on their studies, its just too hard. I find studying with a guide is very helpful— in my current study of John, Ray Stedman provides commentary verse by verse and breaks it down to the simplest language—something I need. Look for a study guide that works for you—or perhaps use a number of books along with your bible to help understand.

Set your own pace: For those chapters that are hard—take notes, write questions to ask others, put down your thoughts on how you can use these verses in your daily life, but most importantly—this isn't a race, don't hurry, perhaps only read a few verses at a time and spend time pondering what you have read. Why not read the chapter more than once, underline your bible (its yours to use) so you can revisit those verses that are important to you. Take a microscope to the text, break it down to understand it better. Read and study at your pace and don't compare your study to others.

Selecting authors to read along with the bible needs to be done with care—not all interpret the bible in the way I was taught, some have a very modern loose way of interpreting the Bible that I strongly disagree with. I tend to read those books that have been recommended to me by people I trust (i.e. my brothers and other close Christian family members). I tend to avoid books that are considered popular and come with a lot of hype as many have been a disappointment as they tend to be aim at the popular rather than the simple word of God. I tend to not stick with only one author and try and have a variety of authors as I don't want to raise one author above all others and make them almost an idol. I read books by both men and women, there are a number of female authors I enjoy reading and they have been most helpful to me. But always remember, these authors are human and only God's word is true and the one we need to fully understand.

If in doubt, ask for help. If your bible study gets bogged down, making you stressed, becoming a chore causing you to become upset—ask for help. If you have a older female mentor she is perfect to help, ask your church leaders, other Christian friends, family, even a trusted blogger. But never sit alone and struggle. Studying the bible should be a pleasure, something you look forward too, not a unsavoury task you want to avoid. 

Don't make up your own interpretation. Somethings are not completely clear in the bible but that doesn't stop women from making things up to suit their own augments. One example springs to mind— is the woman in Proverbs 31 a business woman? I don't really know, she might have been, but getting bogged down in this one verse misses the whole point of Proverbs 31. God never intended us to argue over His Word, if in doubt ask the scholars, read a number authors, if may not become clear until God wants it to be clear to you. Its also important to think about the historical context that people like Paul were writing in. Perhaps learn more about the times so it makes more sense. How were women living (rich and poor)— how was it different to modern day? What opportunities were there for women?

Be a doer of the word: If we don't learn from what we have read and studied and put it into action— it really is a waste of time. Women who spend hours in bible study but then go and behave contrary to God's teachings has learnt nothing. When we read our bibles, study God's word, we need to absorb it, take it into our hearts and turn words into actions—this is how we become godly women. 

But He said, “More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11:28)


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