Monday, June 27, 2016

Women are born fixers

We all love to try and change others because we think they have got it wrong and of course, we think we have it right. As Nancy Leigh DeMoss wrote, some women are "born fixers" and goes on to say:

"Our natural tendency is to take matters into our own hands, to fret and worry, to demand solutions, to feel responsible for changing the people around us—coworkers, spouses, children, friends, pastors—anyone who's doing things differently than the way we'd prefer they do them"

With the boom in Christian blogging, we are seeing the same with bloggers trying to change women because they think that the lifestyles chosen by some women is just plain wrong and they need fixing. They often don't even have the time to listen to the stories of these women but they are still quick to judge. 

We cannot change people by lecturing to them nor by being blunt and telling them they have got it wrong.

Generally this can have quite the opposition affect.

If you want to change someone's heart and bring them to the Lord, there are far better ways of going about it. 

Yes, we need (we must) share the Word of God as His Word is our life manual Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples. Psalm 96:3), we also we need to "walk the talk"— walk as a Christians should, behaviour as a Christians should, with gentleness, kindness, meekness and care — its easy to speak, harder to live a Christian life for others to see and witness — He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. (1 John 2:6). 

If we strongly believe that a woman is doing something wrong, or needs guidances, perhaps dressing immodestly, we need to think about how to approach the subject in a kind and caring manner. The first step to all that we do should start with praying—we need to pray for others and God is waiting for us to do just that as only through Him can anything change — Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. (Philippians 2:4). 

We need to take our concerns to the Lord in prayer and through Him, He will make the necessary changes where He sees fit. But remember, His changes and solutions may be nothing like what I might suggest or you. And in the process, God might change you too, we are all works in progress and all need God's attention.

Just imagine what would happen if Christian missionaries went into a non-Christian country and told the community they are all sinners must do X, Y and Z or they will all go to hell. You simply wouldn't change the hearts of many or any, instead you are more likely to close their minds and create fear and anger. You need to invite them into your home, be hospitable (sharing a meal), show them your love for Christ, get to know them, understand them and their stories. And through this friendship and prayer — God will work in their hearts.  

I have an elderly aunt who loves the Lord and when you are with her, you can see it and feel it. She talks about the Lord as if He is her best friend, Her dearest friend and the one thing I have noticed, she never judges and she never lectures — but through her gentle words she changes others—she has a way, a meekness, a graciousness that many modern women do not have sadly. 

** She is an true encourager and we need more women just like my aunt.

I came across this comment from a lady called Joy — Over the years I have discovered that we must enter into a relationship with each of these younger women before we can have an impact on them. If I see an immodestly dressed young woman in the congregation on a Sunday morning, yes, I can walk up to her and tell her so. Unfortunately, it rarely had the desired result. . .  I have learned that I must get to know her, ask her about herself, maybe invite her to my home and allow her to see how I live (and how my daughters are required to dress) and then the young woman will be open to a discussion about modesty. It's these relationships that Christians aren't willing to take the time for. They just want to talk because, well, it's easier. I think of what Jesus said to the woman at the well. He asked her about herself, he wanted to know about her. She was deeply effected by his humility. We are missing that humility and perhaps this is why we don't have the necessary impact. 

By building that relationship—by taking the time, but offering support and encouragement — by LISTENING to the stories of these women — Christian women can make a far bigger impact in the lives of other Christian women than by lecturing or by being blunt. 

As an older Christian woman, I want to be the encourager, the woman who builds up other women and prays with them and for them and helps them look for solutions that has Christ in the centre. 

A gentle approach always works the best. 

Friday, June 24, 2016

Art Friday: Mothers and their children

Art Friday: Mothers and their children

“I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.” —Abraham Lincoln

John Morgan - A Moment of Affection

Auguste Toulmouche (1829-1890) The New Arrival 1861

Paul Hermann Wagner (1852 – 1937, German)

Sonya Terpening
Georgios Iakovidis (1853 – 1932, Greek)

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Motherhood isn't a sacrifice

Painting by Firmin Baes
Do women make sacrifices when they become mothers or do women simply switch from one dream to another?

When a woman chooses to become a mother, she is making a big decision—sometimes the biggest decision of her life and the consequences are life changing. And with these changes she must rethink her priorities—what is now her MOST important priority and what is no longer as significant in her life. Things that were once her highest priority have now slipped down the ladder (perhaps a career, independence, freedom, earning lots of money, travel) and have been replaced by a child that requires her utmost attention.  

Deborah at Growing in His Grace writes: "I overhear conversations between women talking about “before I had children” and what was “sacrificed.”I see women who posts pictures of themselves in their homes celebrating a time when they were childless–the fun years."

I believe that the term “sacrifice” makes women feel resentful and discontent because for many modern women (Christian and non-christian) it means that they have had “to surrender something prized (independence and self) for the sake of something considered as having a higher claim (your children)” (Sarah Driscoll). Today, we are encouraged to be independent and to carve out an identity outside of our family relationships: in work, in travel, and in our friendships. These activities are seen as very important and what we all should strive for whereas motherhood is for the dowdy woman at home in her slippers—motherhood is not seen as equal in value or importances to other activities. Therefore switching from an independent woman to a mother is a step down and therefore a sacrifice.

But if we change the focus from the word “sacrifice” to looking at all the things a woman gains from motherhood — just in the same way women get promoted in a career—we can lift the status of a motherhood and make it much more positive.

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward. (Psalm 127:3)

Whilst things change for a new mother, she hasn’t lost anything—a baby can only be seen as a gain, something more precious than anything else she has done. Motherhood is a gift and when you consider it as a gift, how then can you look at motherhood as a sacrifice. 

Motherhood doesn't steal us away from things, it enriches our lives, it makes us stronger, it empowers us, it makes a better people.

When the baby is small it may limit some activities, however, there are still many things women can do — motherhood doesn't steal everything from us, it only changes our priorities and sometimes we do things we hadn't considered before, such as working from home. Motherhood doesn’t exclude you from life, it only change when you do things or how you do them — so as women we need to stop complaining about sacrifices and all the things we are "missing out on" and look at motherhood as a gift and value all things one gains from being a mother. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Modern modesty

Source: Hello magazine
As you look through these photos from recent newspapers what is the first thing that strikes you about them ?


Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge (in cream), Princess Mary of Denmark (in orange) and the Sophie, Countess of Wessex (in blue) are all out at Royal Ascot (the annual horse racing event in Britain) a few days ago and the first thing that hit me was their outfits. 

Here are all three modern women in modern outfits that are ALL modest. 

The lengths of the dresses are below the knee, the necklines are high and cuts of the dresses are elegant. 

Don't they all look feminine and pretty.

Their make up is minimal, so to their jewellery. They are all wearing their hair up and it looks  beautiful and sophisiticated. 

We too can dress elegantly, modern and feminine and still remain modest in our entire. 

Monday, June 20, 2016

The ups and downs of motherhood

Painting by Firmin Baes
Kasey Edwards writes: The truth about raising kids is there are moments of absolute delight and wonder. The highlights of my life have come from my kids. But there are also long stretches of domestic drudgery with peaks of acute frustration and despair. This doesn't mean that we don't love or value our kids. It's just the reality of parenting. (source: Do we really have to love every moment of parenting?)

We need to be real and not pretend that every moment of being a mother and wife is super exciting and rewarding. As Kasey Edwards writes, there will be “moments of absolute delight and wonder and long stretches of domestic drudgery with peaks of acute frustration and despair” but like all aspects of life, there will also be times when you want to throw the towel in, walk away and not come back. Motherhood is not a bed of roses, there are times when it is plain horrible—I particularly found this to be the case when my sons reached the teenage years, it was painful and at times very unpleasant and frustrating but on the flip side, we had lots of fun and laughter. 

It isn't surprising that young mothers struggleNew mothers go from spending a weekly average of 2 hours caring for others to a whopping 51 hours when baby arrives* — and she has to adjust quickly and often without much help, no wonder many find it very difficult. Current data show that when women become mothers they also increase the time they spend on housework – like cooking, cleaning and washing – from a weekly average of 16 hours to 25 hours*. So not only is new mum looking after a baby, her workload at home increases considerably. Not surprisingly, many mothers report feeling tired – 40% of women with preschoolers agree they often feel tired, worn out or exhausted from meeting the needs of their children*.

Parenting is a lifetime commitment — we need to take the good with the bad, the exciting with the dull, the emotional highs with the lows. We need to enjoy the precious moments with our children, because it is these memories that get us through the tough times, the sleepless nights and remind us why we do this job and why we never want to give up, even when it’s as tough as climbing Mount Everest.

“What it's like to be a parent: It's one of the hardest things you'll ever do but in exchange it teaches you the meaning of unconditional love.” (Nicholas Sparks)

Painting by Firmin Baes
I love being a mother and won’t swap it for the world, but to new mothers we need to be honest about motherhood and not present a rose-colour view of it, we must not gloss over the unpleasant so they are surprised when things don't go as smoothly as they expect—we need to give them a balanced view of motherhood. I think this is one of the reasons why Titus 2: 4 tells older women to teach younger women to love their children because at times, love can be difficult.

And it is important for women to understand that not all women enjoy motherhood and some have little interest in it. Women are not all the same and we need to respect and understand this. Women need to be sensitive to this and not be pushy about children when they meet a woman who has either no children or only a few. They may not be able to have children, don't want any or perhaps very happy and blessed with the one or two they have. Not every woman is cut out to have a large family. 

Motherhood is made easier when we have other women to lean on, to talk to and gain advice and wisdom from. This is why older women are so important to younger women and why Paul (in Titus) talks about the need for older women to teach the younger women about motherhood, about being a wife and how to care for their homes — older women have lived life and know all about the ups and downs that younger women face and can provide a wealth of knowledge and support.

*Statistics from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics (HILDA) Study (a 14 year longitudinal survey)

Friday, June 17, 2016

Art Friday: Mona Lisa

Mona Lisa

The Mona Lisa (La Gioconda or La Joconde, or Portrait of Lisa Gherardini, wife of Francesco del Giocondo) is a half-length portrait of a woman by the Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci.

Artist: Leonardo da Vinci (1452 - 1519)

Painted in 1504-19, Florence, Italy

Dimensions: 77 by 53 cm (30 by 21 inches)

The work was requested by subject’s husband, Francesco Del Giocondo. Lisa was from a well-known family known through Tuscany and Florence and married to Francesco Del Giocondo who was a very wealthy silk merchant. The work was to celebrate their home’s completion, as well as a celebration of the birth of their second son. Not until 2005 was the identity of Mona Lisa‘s subject fully understood, though years of speculation have suggested the true identity of the painting’s subject.

The Mona Lisa is an oil painting, with a cottonwood panel as the surface. It is unusual in that most paintings are commissioned as oil on canvas, but the cottonwood panel is part of what has attributed to the fame of the painting. Because of the medium used for the image, the Mona Lisa has survived for six centuries without ever having been restored–a trait very unusual when considering the time period of the piece.

It is not the subject of the painting that is unique but the stroke that was used. Leonardo did the painting with a brand new stroke  – the name of which doesn’t have an English translation – where he would paint one layer and then have to wait for it to dry and then paint another layer over it again. He repeated that process several times. 

Guinness World Records lists the Mona Lisa as having the highest insurance value for a painting in history. It was assessed at US$100 million on December 14, 1962, before the painting toured the United States for several months. The gallery will never sell the Mona Lisa and it is considered priceless. 

The Mona Lisa is rehung at The Louvre, Paris, prior to the museum's postwar reopening on October 6, 1947. (source)

In August 1939, 10 days before the outbreak of World War II, a secret and extraordinary rescue mission began in Paris, one that was conducted just like a military operation. Hundreds of workers and volunteers took part, all commanded by one man who was acting on his own initiative, without orders from his superiors. Jaujard was deputy director of The Louvre museum, and foresaw the potential dangers for the art treasures there. On August 25, a few days before the Germans invaded Poland, Jaujard ordered the closure of the museum for three days, officially for repair work. On the first night, 800 of the most important works of art were removed from the walls, among them Leonardo da Vinci’s iconic "Mona Lisa." In the following days, some 4,000 works were packed up and loaded onto a fleet of vehicles, including hundreds of trucks, ambulances, private cars and taxis. Jaujard had to move the "Mona Lisa" several times, in order to keep it out of the hands of the Nazis and the Vichy government. 

* Mona Lisa gets her own room at the Louvre, one that is climate controlled to keep her in the ideal environment. Additionally, the work is encased in bulletproof glass to prevent threat and injury.  If you look closely at the subject's left elbow, you might notice the damage done by Ugo Ungaza Villegas, a Bolivian who chucked a rock at the portrait in 1956. A few months before, another art attacker pitched acid at the painting, which hit the lower section. These attacks inspired the bulletproof glass, which in 2009 successfully rebuffed a souvenir mug hurled by an enraged Russian tourist who'd been denied French citizenship.

* The Mona Lisa disappeared from the Louvre in France in 1911. Pablo Picasso was on the original list of suspects questioned and jailed for the theft, but he was later exonerated. For two years, the masterpiece was thought to be forever lost. However in 1913, Italian patriot Vincenzo Perugia was arrested for the crime of stealing the famous painting, and the original artwork returned to its home at the Louvre in Paris. Perugia was an employee of the Louvre at the time, and he believed the painting belonged to Italy. For two years he kept the famous piece of art housed in his apartment, but was discovered when he tried selling to a gallery in Florence, Italy. The New York Times retroactively compared the public display of grief to that seen in the wake of Princess Diana's death in 1997. Thousands poured into the Louvre to stare in shock at the blank wall where she once hung and leave flowers, notes, and other remembrances. Upon her recovery, Mona Lisa toured Italy before returning to Paris.

* The portrait was first put on public display in the Louvre in 1815, inspiring admiration, as a string of "suitors bearing flowers, poems and impassioned notes climbed the grand staircase of the Louvre to gaze into her ‘limpid and burning eyes.’”

"Mona Lisa often made men do strange things," R. A. Scotti wrote in Vanished Smile, "There were more than one million artworks in the Louvre collection; she alone received her own mail." The painting actually has its own mailbox at the Louvre because of all the love letters its subject receives.

In 1852, an artist named Luc Maspero threw himself from the fourth floor of a Parisian hotel, leaving a suicide note that read: "For years I have grappled desperately with her smile. I prefer to die." Then in 1910, one enamored fan came before her solely to shoot himself as he looked upon her.

The French emperor Napoleon once had Mona Lisa hanging in his bedroom, where he'd presumably revel in her beauty for untold hours. 


Information on the Mona Lisa has been gathered from the following sources: 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Honouring our mother and father

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honour your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”

Ephesians 6:1-3

We are commanded to honour our mother and our father, it isn't an option or something we can to do occasionally or when we want something. Nor is it something we do when we are young and don't need to bother about it later in life. Honouring our parents starts at birth and we ALL need to do it throughout our lives. 

However not all children have been raised by Godly, loving parents —sadly there are many people who have been raised by parents that have been abusive, making it very difficult to honour one's mother and father. Regardless of how you were raised, we still need to honour our parents and that can be very difficult for those who have been badly damaged in their childhood. Here are some things to help those who have not had loving parents (Source):

1) Pray for your parents.
2) Keep on trying to help them, even though that may be difficult at times.
3) Model Jesus for them.
4) Exercise restraint in front of them.
5) Weep for them before the Lord, pouring your heart out to Him on their behalf.

And most importantly: 

6) Forgive them. The Lord can help you do this! The journey may be painful, but with God, all things are possible.

The thing about honouring our parents is it isn’t hard to do if our heart is in the right place. Its the small things that they love the most — the surprise phone call when they least expect it, a card in the mail, photos of the grandchildren, remembering their birthday, mothers day, telling them how much they have inspired you, showing love through a hug, having patiences, understanding their way of thinking and an interest in their lives. We honour our parents both through our actions and our words and we should never be too busy to do this. 

We may not always agree with our parents point of view (or perhaps the way they brought you up) and that is ok — my parents when through the war, they grew up in a completely different era to me, but that doesn’t stop me honouring them. If you don’t agree with your parents, respectfully disagree but have the manners to listen to their views. They can still teach us a thing or two.

There are many ways we can honour our parents and here is a list of some ways we can do this, particularly those with ageing parents:

  1. Value your parents’ world. No matter how old they are, they are living in a world that is highly relevant and valuable to them.
  2. Respect your parents’ age. Don’t mock their limitations and inabilities. Love them in it. You will be old one day!
  3. Patiently listen their words may have slowed and their minds may not be as fast as it once was, but they still have plenty to say and we still have plenty to learn.
  4. Keep up regular contact with your parents, especially if you only have one parent and they live alone — hearing your voice in the evening really does make their day. A minor inconvenience for us may mean a great deal to our parents.
  5. Model your parents’ godly attributes. You know the many things they said and did that simply blessed your life, so go and do likewise! It honors them and the Lord. Besides, if it blessed you, just think how much it will bless their grandchildren.
  6. Protect your parents’ individual dignity. The older they become, the more they will cherish your hedge of protection. Remember, they protected you when you were just starting out!
  7. Fulfill your parents’ essential joy. Make it your business to find out what brings them joy. Sometimes it is as simple as a regular phone call—and please answer their calls. Photos of the grandchildren or even a visit from the grandchildren makes all the differences. 
  8. Keep your parents in the loop—they may be ageing but they still like to know what you are doing, what the grandchildren are doing—they are still interested in you, don't forget to included them in family activities. 
  9. Provide for your parents’ basic needs. Make certain you are not feasting at the king’s table while your precious parents are living on cans of baked beans! And, by the way, make sure they are eating right.
  10. Fondly reminisce, talk about the past, the fond memories of your childhood, the fun things you did together. Listen to their stories as they will one day be memories once they are gone. 
  11. Your parents were not perfect, nor are you (only Jesus is)—do not hold grudges about the way you were brought up, don't keep reminding them that they were too strict, too this or that.  Water has passed under the bridge, move on, show them with love be generous with your love. 
  12. Help in any way you can—if you are like me and live along way from your parents, there are still many things you can do—a letter in the post, a phone call, a visit, even a text message. If you live near by—do all you can to make their lives easy and comfortable. It might be an inconveniences at times, but this is your duty as a son or daughter. 


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