Wednesday, June 30, 2010

~Ship in a Bottle~

~Life has been incredibly convoluted of late - or maybe its just my brain. Its like being trapped in a big bottle (you know, the kind that has a little sail boat inside), peering out the narrow hole at the wide wide world outside. Too many decisions, too many factors. Through it all the comforting thing is, I am NOT the master of my fate, or the captain of my soul. Christ is. And He's steering me heavenward - one stormy wave at a time...

 ~Trapped, but safe.~

 ~The illusion. Can you see it?

 ~My Captain is Christ. My Compass is His Word.~

 ~Sailing Heavenward~

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

~Tuesday Treasures: The Fourth is Coming!~

~Take a look at these amazing 4th of July inspired finds! Oh to own all the goodies (especially the red pumps and darling dress!).

 ~Vintage 1970's Striped Summer Dress for sale by JessJamesJake

 ~Primitive - Olde Glory - Handstitched Americanan Linen by stitchinthedayaway


 ~Independence Day Pinwheel set of 2 by Rule42

~Vintage venetian red leather pumps by AdrianCompanyVintage

 ~Fabric Covered Button Hair Clippies by ChloeBellaStudio

~Star Stud Earrings in 14K Gold by michellechangjewelry

I hope your week is "glorious"! 

Monday, June 28, 2010

~Mod Modesty Monday: Rachel from A La Modest : And a Sneak Peak of Something Special!~

~I am very excited to present to you today, Rachel of A La Modest! I've done features of modest clothing websites, and outfits I've come up with, but this is my first time to feature another modest fashion blogger!

~Don't you love the choice of pallete, textures, and interest Rachel wove into this outfit? From the scarf, to the oh so perfect hair-do, to her chunky bracelets and peep toe shoes, it oozes beauty and femininity! I also find the way she tucked her belt end out instead of in to be quite interesting, it never struck me before, but, it creates yet another tone - that matches with the shoes.

 ~Interested in seeing more? Visit Rachel's blog and go read her lovely story behind the website! 

~In other news, do you remember me mentioning a while back that I was going to be doing a post or two with Boutique Narelle? Well, here's a small sneak peek at what I've been working on!

 ~Have a lovely Monday!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

~How to Put Together a Patriotic Table Centerpiece~

 ~I'm starting to get in the mood for firecrackers, and barbecue, and lawn chairs, and patriotic songs. Yeehaw for my favorite summer holiday! (Oh wait, its kind of the ONLY  big summer holiday - here in the states anyways!) And its just around the corner...

 ~Things may be a little Fourth of July crazy around here for awhile, not only is it one of my favorite holidays, its one of my favorite holidays to decorate for. So I thought I'd do a tutorial on this wonderful Patriotic themed table centerpiece my Mother put together last week! As you can see in the picture she started with a glass cake stand, probably bought at Costco. You can use whatever sort of plate/book/bowl/board/tray you like. Just something to rest your pieces on!

~My mother and I have similar interests, and right now we're both in love with pails. But she was in love with them first :) She found this lovely red pail no too long ago, and for the centerpiece filled it with clipped roses from our garden. (Pictures of that to come soon!) You can use whatever kinds of flowers are available to you, daisies would be a nice touch, or hydrangeas, or other colors of roses -though for a patriotic theme red, white, or blue, are best!

~Next find some pretty doily's, napkins, and whatnot, to put under the pail. If you have interesting blue and white china, or other patriotic looking dishware, stack and arrange them around the pail. It fills out the bottom and adds nice visual interest.
~We found this AMAZING handmade card at an antique store last week, and it looks cute perched among the roses, propped against a flag for support. If you have a patriotic post card, sign, or any other possible paper craft ideas you might come up with, add it to the medley. The more the better!

~Don't forget the flags! Most craft and hardware stores sell these small dowel rod American flags around this time of year! We took two and stuck them in on either side of the pail. This is great if you have a really long table like we do (ten people to seat at every meal!), but if your table is small you might go for one flag. Or two smaller ones.

~And ta da! You have your super duper amazing patriotic display, bound to impress the neighbors! (*wink) This idea could be taken and used for any national holidays, if you live outside the US just switch the flags for your own country's - and plan the coordinating colors appropriately! (Or if you live in Britain, just switch the flags. The colors are the same :)

Have a happy week preparing for the Fourth!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

~You know its bad when you realize a dog is better lookin' than you~

~But at least their some pretty good lookin' dogs, and the wallpaper is too charming to be real! I want to move in right away... Photography by Winnie Au

Hope you enjoyed!

Devoted Love: Adorning Your Heart Part 4

~There are so many beautiful qualities in Scripture, its hard to pick and choose what to talk about this week. Mostly I've just been writing about what comes to mind, what is on my heart at that moment. And for some reason I've had devotion and love in my thoughts today.

Devotion - the act of devoting, devotion of time and energy, the fact or state of being ardently dedicated and loyal...

~Are we dedicated to God? We've talked about the importance of staying close to God through reading His word - but what else can be said for the heart commitment of steadfast devotion. Do you want to read a heart wrenching story of devotion, the likes of which I can only pray would be given to me in such a situation? 

 "The young, brown-eyed girl looked up at her mother. What would her mom decide? Earlier that morning, the young girl’s mother, their pastor, and twenty-six others in her North Korean village of GokSan were bound and taken before a screaming crowd of Communists. One of the guards ordered Pastor Kim and the other Christians, “Deny Christ, or you will die.” The words chilled her. How could they ask her to deny Jesus? She knew in her heart he was real. They all quietly refused. Then the Communist guard shouted directly at the adult Christians, “Deny Christ, or we will hang your children.” 

The young girl looked up at her mother. She gripped her hand knowing how much her mom loved her. Her mother then leaned down. With confidence and peace she whispered, “Today, my love, I will see you in heaven.” All of the children were hanged. The remaining believers were then brought out onto the pavement and forced to lie down in front of a large steamroller. The Communists gave them one last chance. “Deny this Jesus or you will be crushed.” The Christians had already given up their children; there was no turning back. As the driver started the heavy piece of equipment, the singing from the villagers started softly. “More love, O Christ, to thee, more love to thee.” 

More. It’s what God gave when he sent his Son. More. It’s what Jesus gave when he was crucified. More. It’s what believers give simply out of love for Christ. They want to give more to the One who gave so much to them. In a worldly age that values giving only what one must to get by, believers set a new standard. “More love to thee” is more than just words in a traditional hymnal. It’s a lifestyle without limit. Each day is a path of discovering how to give more love to Jesus Christ. For some believers, this path has led to their death. For others, “more love to thee” has meant financial sacrifice. What does “more love to thee” mean to your everyday life?" Extreme Devotion, Voice of the Martyrs.

~This was devotion of the kind only God can give in times of extreme testing, and by His grace they passed the test. These dear brothers and sisters are resting in the arms of Jesus, where He wipes away every tear from their eyes. How much easier it should be to have devotion to God in our everyday life, with our everyday decisions, than to face death for our beliefs. Yet we so often fail in the little things, the little tests. And one of the hardest of those things is love.

‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ " Mathew 2:37-39

  ~In John Pipers book "Desiring God" he describes love in two ways. One, is vertical, between us and God. The other is horizontal, between us and man. He goes on to say that horizontal love between people is an extension of the vertical love between God and us. "Love is the overflow of joy in God that gladly meets the needs of others". Gladly. Meets. Overflow. Joy. All words from the heart - we cannot love others if we do not love God. We cannot meet the needs of others unless our needs have been met in God (not going elsewhere to be fulfilled). To be able to love our family, friends, unsaved neighbors, strangers on the street, we must first have a heart that loves God. And a heart that loves God is devoted to Him.

Love - warm attachment, enthusiasm, or devotion. Unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another.

~Love and devotion seem to go hand in hand. We cannot truly say we love someone, unless we are concerned with their concerns, enthusiastic for their joys, sorrowful for their woes. When we love someone we cannot sit idly by when they are in need. We want to meet that need, we want to share what we have - even if it is little. At least, this is what love should look like. Unfortunately we do not always share the love God has poured into us with those in our lives.

~There are so many different facets of love, ways love can or should be expressed to others, and types of love, that I'm not even going to attempt to list them all here. Its simply beyond my insufficient mental powers to imagine the entire scope of ways that love can affect us in our walk with the Lord. I know it has saved me, as it has saved every child of God, I know that it continues to work in me; sanctifying me, challenging me, pushing me, overfilling my cup so that I must share it with others. In narrowing it down I think I know one area that many of us could relate too, and I certainly know I can!

Love for those who are difficult to love.

~This is a toughie. Its not easy to love someone who is simply unlovable. (Another issue is that the problem is often us!) But "more love to thee" in our daily life may very well be extending the love God gave to us - while we were still sinners.

"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8

~Last night we were reading together from Luke 15, and after reading the part about the Pharisees complaining that Jesus was eating with "tax collectors and sinners", we stopped to discuss the Lords reply. Jesus told three stories about finding lost things, a shepherd and his sheep, a woman and her coin, and a father with his son. Each of them, shepherd, woman, and father, did not sit idly by - they searched for, they ran to meet, the lost one. Why? Because that thing was valuable to them, they treasured it. How much do we value the unlovable people in our life? They may be lost, they may be going through a time of sin, but do we try to reach out and show them Gods love?

~I think one of the biggest problems in learning to love others, is that we value ourselves more than them. Our priorities need to change. We need to value their joy, their comfort, their happiness, the same as we value our own. In fact, that should be key to our joy. Here's an interesting response Jesus gives concerning the joy even the angels have when a sinner repents.

"I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance." Luke 15:7

~The angels find joy in repentant sinners. God finds joy in repentant sinners. We should find joy in repentant sinners. And if we want that joy, we seek after it by loving the unlovable, and extending the same to them that we are overflowing with from God. Here's some pointers I came up with for myself.

Don't walk away when I see the unlovable person coming
Spend more time praying for the needs of the unlovable person
Be initiative in starting conversations
Practice gracious speech, if necessary "rehearse" this in my mind
Remind myself of my own failings as a sinner, and cultivate gratefulness that God loves me 
Wear a smile, as much as possible, instead of a frown, when talking to them (This goes a long way dealing with siblings that like to annoy!)
Make sure I value them, by listening to their interests, and taking time out of my day to show them I care
Eat with them - ask to join them when I see they are alone

~All these are good in theory, but, may take lots of time and consistent practice to see any fruit. If ever. We are not called to love people only if they love us in return; regardless of whether or not the unlovable person ever comes round we must continue to display another adornment - patience. (Not going into that one right now!) Love is displayed by affectionate devotion, and concern. Which brings us full circle. Devotion and love to God should spill over in devotion and love to each other. Love is one of the greatest spiritual gifts, if not the greatest.

"Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails...And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these
is love." 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 13
In Christ,

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Content with the Paint on My Ceiling: Adorning Your Heart Part 3

~SPLAT, I watched a goopy glob of paint narrowly miss the corner of my eye, landing on the collar of my well splattered paint clothes. As I looked down from my precarious perch on the top rung of a tall, rickety ladder, I once again decided that ceilings should be left alone - as much as possible. Re-painting is dangerous. 

~Then a thought struck me, how often have you heard the phrase "The Skies the Limit", or even, "Reach for the Sky"? In a sense we should be achievers, we should be diligent and always looking for new ways to glorify God in what we do. But in another sense, and feel free to comment if you think otherwise, I feel that these terms can also be used to imply that there are no heights we cannot reach if we do not set our minds to do it. The truth is, we cannot do anything without God, and there are some things we cannot do, or change about our lives, because its not in His plan. And that's where contentment comes in.

~To continue my story, there I was painting the ceiling of my moms bathroom. We'd grown tired of the old gold colored paint, and to be fair, it was in need of a fresh coat. I was happy with the new color she'd picked out, a really lovely pale lavender. There really isn't a case for discontentment here - but I thought, do we ever grow tired of the color of our ceiling in life?
~ I think sometimes we just want change. We itch for it. We think of ways we can improve our situation, ways we can get more of what we want. There are healthy desires, and there are unhealthy desires. The trick is knowing when to push up into higher, perhaps greener fields, and when to step down, into the valley, and walk where God has placed us at the moment. Perhaps its in the very act of surrendering our desires for more, that God shows us we have all we really need. We don't really need that pay raise, we don't really need a new car, we don't really need those perfectly darling but rather expensive shoes from Target, and lets not mention the fact that the icecream shelf in the freezer is getting bare. What we need is a sustaining, Christ glorifying, relationship with God.
“It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” Mathew 4:4

                                                          ~Contentment is about more than material things. In fact, I think my biggest problems with contentment are not what I'm wearing, or where I lay my head at night, but dreams and plans for the future. I want to do this someday, I want to be a stronger christian, I want to be looked up to in my community, I want to marry a godly young man, I want to have a family of my own someday, I want to be something more. Its good to want good things. And I think the majority of us really do desire good things. But Gods timing is not always our timing, and if we become so obsessed with the future that we loose the joy of the present, then we are turning our desires into idols. 
~A woman who is content is glorifying God. She proves to others that God really is enough for her. Her heart is fixed on Him. He is, after all, our ultimate treasure. Once again, this is helpful in our witness to others. Because the world really is never content. It has a gnawing, empty, hole in its stomach - which refuses to be filled no matter what manner of things it throws at it. One by one the treasures of the world turn out to be only chaff, which will be consumed by fire. But she who has found true contentment in the Lord, will be satisfied no matter what her lot in life.

                                                                                    ~Contentment is defined as an uncomplaining acceptance of one's share. Here are several areas that can breed discontentment; worry, greed, and envy. I'm sure there are more, these are just a start! I've broken down the individual areas below, with some verses to pin point how we should really respond.

When we are not content because of worry.
 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
  “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin;  and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven,
will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
  “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day
is its own trouble." Mathew 6:26-34

When we are not content because of greed.
"Now godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and certain into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." 1 Timothy 6:6-10

When we are not content because of envy.
"Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may boldly say:   
“ The LORD is my helper;
I will not fear.
What can man do to me?” Hebrews 13:5-6

 ~Thanks for reading - I've been greatly encouraged by your responses and find fresh determination to seek out the better things of God in my life! Its all for His glory...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Innocent as Doves, Wise as Serpents: Adorning Your Heart Part 2

"The purity that counts for most in your life and mine is purity of heart... There is a rest of spirit, and a quiet confidence, a joyfulness, and a perfection of love and peace in the heart of the one given over to God that cannot be described in words... Every one who will seek God with all his heart, who will draw close, may have this experience of a pure heart." Mabel Hale, Beautiful Girlhood

~Lately I have been contemplating the relationship between knowledge and innocence. How many times have you read something on the news, which may have been quite intriguing in the moment, and later felt convicted of having allowed something trashy to enter your mind? Or watched a movie that had even more than the usual set of problems? Or perhaps allowed an acquaintance to "fill you in" on the nitty gritty details of some other friends life - which you probably didn't need to know?

~These are obvious examples of times when we step over the line of "need to know". What is much harder to discern is the fine balance between "living in the world, but not of it".

"I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world." John 17:14-16
~One of the finest adornments a heart can have is purity. This is because in a world so spoiled by sin, greed, lust, hate, bloodshed, unchecked violence, and anger, the purity and innocence of Gods children is a great light. It speaks of the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and points to the promise and hope of that day when all shall be made new - the day all creation groans for! God loves a pure heart and desires that we seek after it as a precious jewel when seeking adornments for our hearts.

"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." Romans 12:1-2

~The renewing of our minds. What a term brimming with meaning. Notice that it says renewing, not renew. Its an ongoing process in our lives, a part of the sanctification process. We will need to be constantly on guard against letting impure influences enter our thoughts. We need to valiantly defend our innocence from things that are evil... At the same time we need to be wise in what is good, as well as the times we live in.

“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and innocent as doves." Mathew 10:16

~It is interesting that we often only seem to focus on the negative side of things, asking ourselves the question - "Is this bad?" Instead it may be more helpful to ask ourselves - "How will this edify me? Will this strengthen my desires for Christ?" You will be amazed at how much clearer decisions can become when we look at issues in a positive light. It will cut out a lot of questions, or harmless "neutral" stuff, that we really didn't need to spend our time on anyways. Of course, I'm not saying we can never watch a movie, or read a book, or go shopping at a store for that matter, unless it is distinctly christian and definitely going to produce some positive fruit in us. But our overall focus in life should be to produce good fruit, by glorifying God in all that we do. Chances are if we let ourselves hop over to the neutral zone too much, that may be what we become, neutral in the war for godliness.

~Here's a little list I've drawn up of areas where we should be especially careful to guard our purity, and our innocence. Save your exposure for times when we really must confront evil, and overcome it with good. Why dwell unnecessarily on things that will confuse, distort, taint, and otherwise clutter up your mind, all for the sake of entertainment? We live in the world - we have to battle with impurity every day. No soldier wants to leave the battlefield, come home weary and tired, only to fight another battle on the couch with his entertainment!

News Articles/Websites
TV Shows
Random Quizzes and Games on Facebook, or any website for that matter! (I know, its sort of a funny thing to add, but its true that these can sometimes be big distractions and sources of useless information!)

~Another benefit in seeking purity of spirit is that your witness will not by hindered by inconsistency or accusations of hypocrisy. The other night we were all gathered for family devotions and I watched as my mother patiently explained an important spiritual truth to my seven year old brother. He was having a very hard time concentrating, in fact, he looked like he was about to burst out the seams! All the while my mother kept talking in a very calm, patient, manner - hoping to settle him down. Finally, unable to contain it any longer, my brother politely inserted - "Excuse me mom, but, your pants are on inside out!" We all looked at her pants, which were indeed, on inside out. Needless to say, the rest of the devotions was a bit lost in hilarity!

~ In a similar way inconsistency distracts those we are witnessing to. Its like watching a very devout man give what must be a very devout sermon, but his clothes are all upside down and backwards. No one can hear what he's saying because he's just so ridiculous... At best the world finds inconsistent Christians funny, amusing, maybe a somewhat tolerable kind of pal. At worst they are affronted, justified in their opinions about "religion", and label Christians hypocrites.

~Resolve to seek out influences that will edify and build you up. Resolve to set aside influences that will destroy your innocence and purity. God will be pleased!

~Here's a list of some blogs, websites, and online ministries, that have encouraged me in thinking pure thoughts - and in doing away with unedifying influences.

The Rebelution
Issacharian Daughter
Pearls and Diamonds 
Beauty From the Heart
Joyfully at Home
Young Ladies Christian Fellowship

~Resolve to follow the Lord while it is still today! In Christ,
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