Thursday, 24 May 2012

Happiness.

The sun is careering in glory and might,
'Mid the deep blue sky and the cloudlets white;
The bright wave is tossing its foam on high, 
And the summer breezes go lightly by;
The air and the water dance, glitter, and play,
And why should not I be as merry as they?


The linnet is singing the wild wood through;
The fawn's bounding footsteps skim over the dew;
The butterfly flits round the flowering tree;
And the cowslip and blue-bell are bent by the bee,
All the creatures that dwell in the forest are gay,
And why should not I be as merry as they?

Miss Mitford. 

Blessings,

Jenny

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

PHG Chapter 4 - Which Way Will You Choose?

Onwards to chapter 4! This one seems to be a more controversial chapter compared to the previous ones as it covers submission. That certainly seems to be a subject that stirs up strong views on both sides! 

The chapter opens with 

Would God want you to be a feminine woman? He would have you be content in who you are, because that is what He intended. One part of becoming more feminine is learning to depend on those stronger than you. This is what we are going to discuss in this chapter. The art of being willing to not dominate and to depend on the males in our lives. This is something that has not been taught in this century. You may be told that this is outdated and old, but then these same whisperers would say the same about our precious Scriptures. 

I was brought up to be a carer, the way my life turned out means that for as long as I can remember I have had responsibilities at home. These aren't forced duties at all and they are things I do out of love but they do mean that I spend a lot of time with my family at home. When I am not working full time that is! It is a little different for me as, being unmarried, I live at home with my parents but they are not believers so I can't really lean on them for help with developing my faith but circumstances mean that I have been getting lessons in putting others first and even in developing a the heart of a servant. Even without realising that I was learning at all. 

Have you ever seen a dominating woman? She is lofty and prideful, assuming that her way is better than others and that all other's ways are wrong. A dominating girl will become a dominating woman.

Through reading this chapter and looking closely at my character I have realised that I do have a couple of dominating tendencies lurking. I think that my way is best and sometimes it is but I don't always handle criticism well. I take it to heart as a personal attack rather than as a comment on one particular idea or issue. After a while I can look upon it as an opportunity to learn and grow but my first reaction is always hurt. Plus when I feel hurt I can get quite defensive! It is hard for me to face up to these flaws in my character but I think it is an essential thing to do.  

From the very beginning of time, God created females to be dependant upon the males. Just as males receive great satisfaction from being needed and depended upon, so were females to receive joy in being dependent upon males. And God made males to give their protection and provision with great satisfaction. It is part of their make up to take care of women. 

I am not by nature someone that wants to stand our and be in charge. I find being placed in a position of authority can feel quite uncomfortable to me. This is another area where I find it hard to balance what God wants from me and what the world wants. At work I take part in group projects, sometimes in a leadership position over both men and women. While I feel capable and am qualified and experienced, I still struggle to know how to handle it. I don't want to be bossy or dominating but I have to do my job. I guess I need to work on finding a feminine way to handle it! 

God tells us that we are not to listen to the ways of the world, but we are to take counsel from Him only. When we listen to people who tell us that we are not to submit to our fathers or husbands, we are adding sin to sin. 

It sometimes seems like God whispers His Word but that the world shouts far louder! You really have to concentrate and listen. The worldly ways have a way of sneaking into your mind and life. Things like the television show everyone is watching or the must read book that is slightly risqué. Little things that have influence and that all add up in your heart and mind. It seems to me that these little things are harder to resist than the big obvious sins.  

When we refuse to submit to our parent's will, we will only reap sorrow unto ourselves. Now is the time to start having an obedient heart to the authority in your own family. First, God and His Word. Second, your father, who is the head of your family. Third, your mother, who is in authority when your father is absent from the home. 

As an adult daughter at home it can be complicated. I endeavour to be respectful of my parents and their rules while at the same time remaining strong in my faith. A faith that they do not share. It can be a fine line at times to explain how much my faith means to me while still being considerate of their views. Luckily they view it as another of my old fashioned ideas rather than being actively against it. I can imagine that situation would be a very difficult one. 

As much as I am an adult, with a full time job, and paying rent it is still my parent's home. One that they worked for and pay the bulk of the expenses incurred in running a home. They haven't ever really set rules for me which has been both good and bad for me. I have plenty of freedom, hypothetically, but also feel a strong sense of duty to my family. 

Many women in the world think that being submissive means that a woman cannot be capable. They are so very wrong! The Proverbs 31 woman is a description of one that is very capable of running a household. The heart of her husband trusts in her to be able to do her duties! 

Thank you! Somehow the idea of a submissive women has become all tied up with someone who is weak and incapable. It is entirely possible to be capable and competent without thinking that you have to be totally independent from everyone and everything. The Proverbs 31 woman is a perfect example of this. She is so competent and skilled and perfectly suited to her role of supporting her husband and running the home.

Blessings, 

Jenny 

Monday, 21 May 2012

Femininity.

Femininity is something that has been on my mind lately. I feel like I have really been slacking with my appearance recently. I could blame this on being busy and having some stressful times but really honestly it is more than that and to blame it on a lack of time would be making an excuse. It feels like I have almost given up on myself a bit. One character flaw I have is wanting to be perfect at everything on the first try. One more challenge to work on! I feel that if I work on my confidence and health then the rest of it will all fall into place. 

From The Fascinating Girl

Femininity is a gentle, tender quality found in a woman's appearance, manner, and nature. A feminine woman gives the impression of softness, and delicateness. 

You can develop your femininity by accentuating the differences between yourself and men - not the similarities. Think of femininity in two categories - outer femininity and inner femininity. Outer femininity has to do with your feminine appearance and manner, whereas inner femininity has to do with your feminine nature and your orientation towards your feminine role. 

The foundation of beauty is fresh, radiant health, not only for the health itself, but for the fresh and joyful spirit it lends to the appearance, actions, and attitude. How attractive are sparkling eyes, lustrous hair, a clear voice, buoyancy of manner, and the animation that good health brings to the face and the vivacity it communicates to the thoughts. We cannot attach too much importance to this qualification. 

I do have quite a few bits in my wardrobe that are feminine. Plenty of skirts and cute cardigans! It is just a matter of actually wearing them! I feel so much more ladylike when wearing a skirt and somehow it makes me stand straighter and speak softer. 


I love this dress as it is just so summery! I would wear it with a little cardigan as I don't tend to go out and about with uncovered shoulders. I love the print! Just need the weather to warm up a bit now. 


I am aiming to take baby steps and to start with feminine accessories. I feel like I am finally ready to dress my outside to match my inside. I am quite a girly girl by nature but tend to suppress it far too often! It is time to embrace who I really am! 

Blessings, 

Jenny

Friday, 18 May 2012

Bluebells and Pinkbells.

Spring has definitely arrived when the bluebells start to flower! 







To me these are quite a fairytale flower! So pretty and delicate. I can imagine the sweet, tinkling sound that they would make if they actually were bells. Bluebells symbolise gratitude, humility and consistency. 

What is your favourite Spring flower? 

Blessings, 

Jenny

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

PHG Chapter 3 - The Feminine Personality.

The plan to read a chapter a week is going pretty well thus far. It is only week three though! I was looking forward to reading this section. I skimmed through the chapter headings on the contents page and some really stood out to me as things that interested me and also things that I needed to work on. 

This chapter is all about the feminine personality and is split into movement, outward femininity and speech. I have noticed that chapter 5 is all about speech so that topic will be further developed. 

The chapter starts by describing what femininity is and also describes being ladylike. 

Femininity is a softer, gentler quality that a woman has in all of her actions. She is opposite to the male. She is feminine in her manners, in the way she moves, in her personality, and also in her outward appearance. 

I do love this! It seems to be the opposite of what the world says is acceptable for women. Softer and gentler not being seen as bad or weak qualities! 

How do ladies walk? They move gracefully, smoothly, and femininely. This is what you, too, must learn. The art of moving as a lady would. 

I would love to walk and move gracefully! That flowing way of walking with good posture and no flailing of limbs. I tend to be a little clumsy though! One thing that really helps me is wearing a skirt as it acts as a constant reminder to be aware of how I am moving. Another benefit of dressing femininely! It almost feels like I should live up to the impression that a feminine outfit makes. 

Being feminine is to place great importance on the differences between men and woman. It is to make a line between what a woman is compared to what a man is. 

This is very similar to what I have read in Fascinating Womanhood which also makes it clear that women should choose clothes that are as different from a man's clothes as possible in style, colour and fabric. This is something I am working on at the moment. Trying to balance dressing in a feminine way while still being modest and trying not to get caught up in other people's reactions and attentions. 

The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment; for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God. 
Deuteronomy 22 : 5

A young lady might want to keep her voice gentle and calm. Not too soft, so that she cannot be heard and then becomes irritating, but with just the right tone. She must speak pleasantly, and with love and kindness. 

I have a vintage book from the 1950s and that covers tone and volume as well as how to sound less monotone and how to speak clearly. If I am excited I tend to rush through my words so fast that it must be hard to understand. Plus I have a bad habit of getting higher in pitch! I will have to get that book out again as it seems like a shame to work on having a feminine appearance and moving graceful if I shatter that impression the moment I open my mouth! 

I think that I am naturally feminine inside. I tend to be quite girly and interested in domestic things, plus old fashioned etiquette guides have always been fascinating to me. It is quite often hard for me to express this especially at work. It seems that if you are not loud, and if you do not shout about your skills and opinions, people do not hear you. It all seems so competitive with people so willing to drag each other down to make themselves look better. I wish that those people would realise that, even though I won't shout my opinion or get angry, my views are still valid and important to me. I am not naturally competitive at all but I sometimes think it would be easier to just go along with what the world expects. It would be an easier life but not an honest one! 

Blessings,

Jenny

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Baked and Delicious.

I love this magazine! There is a new issue every fortnight and each one comes with a new piece of silicone bake ware. As I subscribe I get one delivery each month and am always so excited to receive it! I hadn't used silicone bake ware much before buying this magazine but I really like it. Sometimes the baking time needs to be adjusted a little but the recipes in the magazines are aimed at this type of bake ware. 

I love that there is such a pretty folder to store all the issues in! I have tried a couple of recipes and found the instructions easy to follow which is good for a beginner like me. I think that they will be useful now and in the future and the binders will keep them all neat and in order. 






There are so many recipes that I want to try! The photography makes everything look appealing! I think that they would be a good addition to my hope chest but the binders are too big. I have a shelf in my craft cupboard for books about baking, gardening and crafts so both binders live there. I have also seen a similar magazine about cake decorating advertised which also looks interesting. Perhaps not as practical as this one though! 

Blessings,

Jenny

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

PHG Chapter 2 - What Does It Mean to be Beautiful?

On to chapter two! My plan at the moment is to read a chapter a week and to post here on a Tuesday. That is the plan! 

This chapter covers the difference between outer beauty and inner beauty. The very first section describes how the world seems to reward outer beauty without regarding inner character. I care about how I look, sometimes too much, but there is more to me than that. It is how I look not who I am! It would be so sad to judge people purely on their appearance. There is so much more to people. Outer beauty is such a fragile thing to cling to and to base your opinion of yourself on. Looks fade with age or injury and if you tie all your self worth up in pretty hair or perfect skin or a tiny waist what happens when you can't rely on your appearance to impress people? Relying on temporal qualities feels like building on a shaky foundation! 

It is so easy to get caught up in worldly views of beauty. From  the airbrushed advertisements to the celebrity magazines that trawl through photographs to find a flaw to print with a big red circle around it. Is it any wonder that I, and others, sometimes struggle when these people who are held up as "perfect" are torn down the very next week? 

In the beginning God created mankind, male and female. First it is important that we learn that there is a difference between being male and female. Women and men were not created the same. God created them with different functions and duties. He created them with different forms on the outside, and also different ways in which they tick on the inside. 

This section is interesting as it doesn't describe women as inferior but does class them as helpers to men. The two are often linked together but, the way I see it is that, men and women are different but both roles are important. A strong man needs a strong helper. It isn't a popular view out in the world but I think that is partly due to how the home and traditional roles of women are downgraded and belittled. How comforting it must be to fully accept God's plan for you and the role He designed you to fill perfectly. To stop striving to impress the world or to meet the worldly standards. 

We are so blessed by God to be given a life full of unselfish duties. This is where true happiness comes from. 

It is a blessing to be able to help others! To be useful and caring and to spend time thinking of other people and their needs. It is an amazing and fulfilling feeling to help, to be a helper and supporter. Sometimes I forget this and get caught up in the worldly view of me time, self confidence and competition. To step back from this and into my natural role, the one I was designed and created for, is always calming. It feels like coming home! 

True beauty is inner beauty, your faith and character. It doesn't fade as your skin wrinkles! It endures over time and, if anything, becomes stronger with age. 

Blessings, 

Jenny

Monday, 7 May 2012

The Importance of Domestic Skills.

I would like to share a short story from a book called Advice to Young Ladies on their Duties and Conduct in Life. As you can probably tell from the title, it is rather an old book! It was written by T.S. Arthur and was published in 1850. My copy belonged to Kate Gunby who signed it in August 1894. I love that it is signed! The book is in such good condition so I know that it has been loved and cherished over the years. 

A very beautiful and delicately-raised girl was married, not long since, to a young man on the eve of his departure, with a stock of goods, to a small but thriving town in the west. Her parents were in moderate circumstances; but she was their only daughter, and they had raised her most tenderly. Every dollar that could be spared was expended on her education. The highest accomplishments were sought for her. At the time of her marriage, she was a young, slender, sylph-like creature, that looked as if time had never showered any thing but blossoms on her head. She could dance with the grace of a fairy, perform with great skill upon the piano, harp or guitar, and sing exquisitely. But she knew as little about housekeeping as a boy just let loose from school. 

A few weeks after their marriage, the young couple started for their new home in the west. On arriving there, they found a little village of three or four hundred inhabitants, in which was a stage-house, or tavern, kept by a drunken Irish-man. At this house they were compelled to stay for two or three weeks, until their furniture arrived. There was no other boarding-place in the village. By the time their furniture was received, they had rented the only vacant house there was. This was a small frame tenement, containing four rooms, two below and two above. It stood alone, on the outskirts of the village. Without, all was cheerless enough. The yard contained about an eighth of an acre, and was enclosed by a post and rail fence. There was upon it no tree nor shrub; but plenty of rubbish from the house, which had just been built. Inside, every thing was as meagre and common as could well be. There were windows, but no shutters; rooms, but no closets; walls, but no paper - not even whitewash. All was as brown and coarse as when it came from the hands of the plasterer. The young bride shed many tears in prospect of being compelled to occupy so miserable and lonely a place, and the young husband was made to feel as wretched as could well be, in circumstances. 

At length their furniture arrived; but there were no upholsterers to make and put down the carpets. Nor could any body, with the ability to ply a needle, be obtained, in the village, to do the work. After various efforts and inquiries on the subject, the bride was coolly told by a plain-spoken matron, that she guessed she would have to make her carpet herself, adding, "People in these 'ere parts have to help themselves." The making and putting down of carpets was more serious work than she had been used to, or ever thought of doing. But it was out of the question to think of living on bare floors; so after taking a good hearty cry to herself, she went to work, and, after two or three days of steady application, got the carpets made and tacked down. It is not to be denied that some of the figures were a long ways from matching, and that a number of rough places in the seams attested the young lady's want of skill in such matters. But the work was done, after a fashion, and that was a good deal. The bedsteads were then put up, the furniture arranged, and the young couple took possession of their new home. 

But here a new and undreamed-of difficulty arose. A servant could not be had for love nor money. There was not a woman in the village who had any help, unless she were fortunate enough to have a grown-up daughter, a niece, or an unmarried sister living with her. 

"What am I to do?" asked the bride in despair, after she fully understood the disabilities with which housekeeping was to be attended. "I can't cook and do all the work about the house. I never got a meal's victuals in my life."

"We can go back to the tavern and continue boarding, I suppose," said the young husband, uttering what he did with great reluctance; for the accommodations at the stage-house were little better than no accommodations  at all. 

"I wouldn't be paid to stay another night in that house," was the quick reply. "The worst fare we can have here will be better than going back to that wretched place."

"I fully agree with you," said the husband. "Bread and water here would be preferable to the richest food there. Try and do the best you can, and I will help you all I know how. It would be a pity, it seems to me, if two young people, with health, and means of living as we have, could not take care of themselves."

So it seemed to the young wife; but, then, how was she to do at all? She could make a cup of tea, but that was about the most she could do. As to baking a loaf of bread, she knew no more about doing it than if she had never heard of bread; and the cooking of meat, or the making of pies or puddings, were mysteries of the culinary art far beyond her comprehension. 

The attempt to buy bread for the first meal proved unavailing. There was no baker yet in the village. The effort of beg or borrow was more successful. The young man called in at the house of their nearest neighbor, and frankly stated his difficulty. The woman to whom he applied understood the position of the young couple in a moment. She was of the better sort, and not only supplied them with a couple of large fresh loaves of good bread, but promised to step over in the morning, and give the inexperienced bride some little instruction in household affairs. She was as good as her word, and her young scholar was quite an apt one. The situation which the latter found herself so unexpectedly placed caused her to reflect upon and to be ashamed of her deficiencies. 

She had spent years in the acquirement of various branches of information, many of them little better than useless; but not one of them was now available in this her first essay in life. Her education had been confined almost entirely to the ornamental, while the useful had been totally neglected. She had married, and had commenced the world with her husband. He was fully prepared to do his part, but she was entirely deficient in ability to do hers. But she had the merit of possessing a fair proportion of common sense; had some quickness of perception; and, being willing to do the best she could, was not long, under the kind instruction of her neighbor, in acquiring a very fair knowledge of housekeeping. For six months, she did all her own cooking, baking, washing, and ironing. There was no help for it; unless she did it, it would have to remain undone. After that, she was fortunate enough to obtain a good domestic, brought from the East by her husband, when he went on to purchase goods. 

A little previous instruction in housekeeping affairs would have saved this person from a good deal of mortification, trouble, and perplexity. 

This is a story that I find inspiring and I also see myself in the character of the bride not in her physical description at all but more in her lack of practical knowledge. How many of the things I have learnt over years and years of schooling are practical? Not many! Home economics wasn't taught at any of the schools I attended and it is only in the later years, since leaving school, that I have started to learn domestic skills. I am working on rectifying my lack of skills now but sometimes wonder how much further along I would be had I started learning the basics at school. 

Blessings, 

Jenny

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Lilacs Starting to Bloom.

I just adore lilac! The flowers and the scent are wonderful. The lilac tree in the garden has an interesting heritage. My great grandparents had a lilac tree in their garden and when my grandma got married and moved away she took a little cutting. That tiny cutting grew and bloomed and eventually, years later, my dad brought a cutting to our house. So this is the third generation of the family to have a lilac all descended from that first tree. If I move out to my own home I plan on taking a cutting too. Hopefully my gardening skills will have improved by then so that the tree can survive! 






I am so grateful for a sunny day so I can appreciate this beautiful tree!

Blessings, 

Jenny

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Review - My So-Called Life as a Proverbs 31 Wife.

I bought this book quite a long time ago with the intention reading it and then writing a review on here. I managed the reading bit but never got around to the review. I have now read the book for a second time! The book is called My So-Called Life as a Proverbs 31 Wife and the author is Sara Horn. 

The back cover of the book says -

Sara Horn always admired the Proverbs 31 wife ... from afar. But when she became a busy writer and mom, that image began to look like an impossible ideal. 

Or was it?

With humility and humor, Sara set out to immerse herself in all things domestic just to see if the Proverbs 31 woman could exist in the twenty-first century. But when her family's situation changes and she must return to a full-time job, she's forced to look at the Proverbs 31 woman from a whole new viewpoint. 


I really enjoyed this book! I find the Proverbs 31 woman to be both inspiring and intimidating so any book on the subject appeals to me. I truly related to some parts of the book such as "If God and I were going for a walk in the park, I'd be the kid running out in front, barely able to wait for him. Patience is not my strength. Waiting on God is hard." Wow! This is something I struggle with too. Plus I find that I get scared off when something seems like a big challenge. Trying to live like the Proverbs 31 woman definitely counts as a big challenge. I admire Sara for even attempting this! 

I loved Sara's writing style. It wasn't a dry textbook at all. It was warm and friendly, chatty and funny, and most of all human. I liked that she didn't hide anything that went wrong on this challenge and was open enough to share her mistakes. It was really interesting to see what happened when life interfered with the challenge! That is something that always seems to happen. You have a plan, a timetable, a schedule and then life comes in and stirs it all up. At that point it would be so easy to give up but Sara didn't! She is certainly a very busy lady! 

I did find the book inspiring to read. It showed me that I don't have to be inspired by the Proverbs 31 woman and be perfect and that falling short of her high standards doesn't mean that I have failed. The little changes also make an impact on life. It is a process not a switch that flicks and I will go wrong and slip back but it is no reason to give up and stop trying all together. I have signed up for the Summer session of Good Morning Girls which involves reading a book on  the Proverbs 31 woman as a group and sharing our findings. I am so looking forward to it! You can find out more about GMG here.  

Blessings, 

Jenny

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

PHG Chapter 1 - What Type of Woman Will You Become?

This chapter states "this book was written in hopes that it might help you become content with the role God has given you as a female" and the idea of knowing your role exactly and being prepared is an appealing one. I worry often that I am not living up to God's expectations of me or that I am not learning and developing my character as I should. The book points out that a lot of character is down to training and that correct training will lead you to be a happy woman of God. Being a good Christian isn't something that just happens. It takes time and effort to develop skills and knowledge. It is too easy for me to be lazy and to think that I am doing well enough. But whose standards am I judging myself by? Not God's for certain! I fall far short of His standards. Personal growth and living a life that pleases God isn't a one off, it is a consistent, daily effort. 

This chapter forced me to face up to who I admire and why. I get caught up in worldly influences on how I should act, think and look. In recent years I have focussed too much on my outer appearance and have rather neglected my inner self. Outward beauty is fleeting and those celebrities who seem to have perfect lives have struggles and bad days the same as everyone else. I worry too much about what people think of me but don't give nearly enough thought to what God thinks of me! As this chapter says "beauty is much more than how we look. True beauty is found in what we do" and what a reassuring thought that is. 

It seems as though there are bad influences all around. Not just major ones that are easy to spot but also subtle,  insidious things like a song with dubious lyrics that must be OK because everyone is listening to it or the new film that all your friends are going to see which has swearing or violence. It is hard to step back from these things. Especially when people don't see any harm in them at all. It is easy to explain not smoking as it is obviously unhealthy but negative influences do damage too. I am only human and standing out scares me! It sometimes feels as though I am missing out and for a long time I worried that it would mean that I had less in common with friends and colleagues but really that film they all went to see is only talked about for around 10 minutes. 

I need God's strength to back me up and I need to ask for help from Him each and every day. Too often I try to go it alone without thinking that  prayer and conversation with God brings me closer to Him and trying to rely on my own understanding and ideas puts a barrier between us. 

The chapter ends with "The world may say one thing, but the Word will say another" which is something to remember! 

Blessings,

Jenny