Thursday, 23 January 2014

Not for you to know my dear...

Have you ever really wanted to know something, and then regretted later that you knew it at all? I think its the plight of our flesh and womanly quest for power. Rather than being content to simply trust Gods leadership, listen to His cautions, rest in His knowing, we become our own little FBI elite force. Oh Ive been there, so for your hilarity, let me incriminate myself. Sam and I were newly weds. Happy, pregnant with our first born. We'd done everything in the right time and way according to Gods best and life was good. Sam had told me anything and everything there was to know before marrying him, in relation to prior relationships and if they held any impact on our marriage. The information was complete, but well, simple. In fact, a little dull - if you were looking for juicy reasons to disqualify him or some tid bits to hold him in punishment, you'd come out disappointed. One day, bored at home, I decided to trifle through Sams drawers in the search of something. I dont think I was searching for anything other than knowing what this man of mine was like, what things did he keep, what writings and letters and photos held value in his life, enough to be stored? But in reality, my searching had a little underlying motive.. the "need to know" motive. I smiled as I worked my way through his drawer... until.. I found an insurance evaluation and photo of an engagement ring. And it wasnt MINE!. I puzzled over it and wondered why on earth he would never have told me that he'd planned on asking someone else to be his wife. Wounds of rejection and fear of the unknown crept over me. What other secrets did he have? What else didnt I know? And where WAS this ring? I dont remember the rest of the day, I probably went about it like Queen All Knowing while trying to swallow off that bit of apple Id chewed. When Sam did come home, I popped the evidence under his nose with a look that said "youre sprung". He sighed a little and then replied with some amount of disappointment "you silly, that was a surprise for you, Id bought that ages ago and was going to store it away and surprise you with it one day, maybe 20 years from now". It would be fair to say I felt more than a little stupid. Of course I grilled him as to WHY men would buy a diamond ring to pop away for 20 years. The idea was lost on me then. Now I get it. Sam has no need for instant gratification and for him, love is proven in faithfulness. To present something that he'd brought years ago in the youthful joy of budding passion, and to present it later in the mature light of proven love, was the epitomy of romance. I gave him a little insight into the how daft that was on me, why waste a good diamond in a drawer for all those years :) And although he consented to me wearing the ring a little later, on my finger it served as a wee reminder to me "Dont go biting into that apple Fleur". I'll admit, thats hard. Knowledge equals power. It equals entitlement and rights and confidence. Or does it? A truly dignified woman doesnt need to know. She doesnt need to search through her husbands cellphone to ensure he is being faithful (been there, done that - not with even a fraction of a valid reason to need to either! Poor sweet guy!). She doesnt need to scroll through Facebook pages trying to link up the status updates and find the ones that apply to her. (Been there too). She doesnt need to hear that piece of gossip to formulate her mind on whats right or wrong. Or to "pray for that person". She doesnt need to ensure she is in the 'in' crowd so that she has opportunities. Her security is not in who she knows or what she knows. In fact she usually stands out like a beacon, because in the quiet reverance of her life, she seems peaceful no matter what. There is no place I see this better learned than in walking through emotional pain. Injustice, sorrow, grief, rejection. Its hard, its stripping, its real, and without the cast or bandage to prove. And guess what? God is God, and He can, if He wanted, take it all away in a moment. No ifs or buts. Its not an inch too hard or beyond Him. Im not saying He orchestrates it, or that his emotions are separate from it. I believe He grieves and weeps when his children hurt. But if God does not take it away, I can rest in knowing, that He is using it to achieve something far greater in me. The temptation for me is to therefore ask "God, WHAT are you possibly up to?". I want to start searching through the draw of knowledge, and Im like Eve.. "if I know, then I will be like God". The flesh in me really desires the knowledge to decide if I like what this is bringing about in me. I want control, I want to stay the umpire of my own life. And then I see God giving me that look "you silly, that was a surprise for you". Are you content to leave the knowing in His hands? What is it that you are demanding to know? Where are you playing untrusting FBI on? I can tell you, that if you are in anyway on the search for knowledge convinced that it will put you in the position of all knowing judge and jury on whats good for you.. that youre likely going to be left chewing a piece of apple thats far too much for you. Instead, whatever your quest for knowing, would you be content instead to rest it into the hands of a loving God and say "I dont know God, I have these womanly intuitions, I have these ideas, but God, you lead me". If then He places any knowledge in your path, you can mark my words, the knowing will be marked by the peace. And you will walk through it with a dignity fit for royalty.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Patient in Affliction.

Ive been meditating on that verse this week. Chewing it over. Sometimes wanting to spit it out. I find myself wanting to reason with it "Lord, havent I shown patience enough?". I argue with it "Well, at what point does patience just become plain stupid". Me and my band wagon have a plan and a time schedule on ousting pain in my life. And if Im honest, I have to keep coming back and kneeling again at the foot of the Cross and reminding God "I dont like this pain, but please grant me your grace". Grace has to be the furtherest thing from what my natural self wants. Its easier to take the exit than it is to walk through it. Last night we had a pretty impressive storm here in Tauranga. Lightening, thunder, hail. It hit right at the time my hubby had taken my 8yr old boy out for a late evening fishing trip on the rocks. I tried to phone them to warn them, but the phone didnt connect. Though concerned, I felt a huge measure of peace. My lil boy was with his daddy. And Sam is no fool. He would never willingly or knowingly put our children in grave danger. If grave danger did occur, I had full confidence that Sam would be more than able to manage the emergency with clear headed decisive wisdom. So I boiled the jug and waited for the wet and spooked men to arrive home for a mug of hot chocolate and a piece of chocolate brownie. The garage door went up and in sprung 8yr old son with a beaming smile and not a drip of wet on him. "Oh mum, that was so cool. We were standing on the rocks and it got really dark and it was dark all around us, but we had like a ring of clear sky right above us. We got to the van and then a few minutes later it just bucketed down". I uttered a quiet prayer of thanks to a very amazing Heavenly Father. Like that storm, I find myself in the midst of circumstances I dont particularly like. And I keep looking all around me, trying to find the clear exit out. But Gods got me right in the middle of it. And perhaps I can rest on the fact that He has a ring of protection on me. Not only that, but I can rest in knowing that like Sam, my Father will not allow me to be in places of grave danger Spiritually. If He knows that the circumstance is going to yield damage and loss of faith to my soul, I can rest in knowing He will faithfully lead me out of it. More than that, I can rest in knowing that the outcome of these circumstances, is yielding for me, a knowing of His character which yields FAR more fruit in my life. If knowing Him truly is the goal of my heart, than I wont be harried and anxious to get rid of the very things that lead me straight to Him. James 1:2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. Storms absolutely will come. But He is there. Be patient and don't plead to have the pain removed.. you may very miss the gem and treasure thats buried beneath your feet. x

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

White Jeans Overhaul

One of my resolutions this year is to live out Proverbs 19:14 "Houses and riches are an inheritance from fathers, But a prudent wife is from the Lord.". I love that verse.. the industry of a wife is a husbands true riches. Ive printed it out and put it inside my wallet. A little goal of mine is to constantly ask myself in my spending this year "how does this fit with my overall goal to be Sams greatest financial asset". But I also want to look nice and dress well. For a while Ive been wanting to get some white jeans. But the only ones I can find that are a good fit, are around $80. Which would be justifiable if I were planning on wearing them daily. But white jeans and homeschooling don't mix. These are just for days in town, date nights with Sam, ie, not often :) The other day I dropped into the Sallys and saw these Espirit White Jeans for $6. Nice brand, excellent condition and likely passed on from their owner because of their wide leg/ bell bottom shape. I grabbed them happy for a chance to practice my newly found skills of making jeans fit. This technique works with any pair that are gaping at the waist, too wide in the legs. Suddenly any jeans above size 10 are open to adjustment and may become victim to my recycling. You can try this on any pair *as long* as the pockets on the back are not too big. If they are, they will look disproportionate once altered. First: Grab a bargain pair of jeans secondhand. Practice first on these, you can get your confidence to attack your own redundant and pricier jeans later. Take to them with a seam ripper alias quick unpick. You want to unpick about 2 inches either side of the waistband and down the leg seam almost to the bottom. The reason for this is because you want to pull the fabric in from the back, to match the front seam, keeping those dome and detail bits at the front including the fit of the pocket, in place.
When you have them ripped open, lay them out flat. Get a pair of your nicely fitting pants and lay them out flat over the top, estimating how much to take in. Mark with a fabric pen and pin ready to sew.
Using black thread/ or a contrasting colour thread, sew down this line on a wide stitch. I used 3.5. This is just a temporary and you want to be able to unpick it easily so dont sew it tight.
Now try the pants on and check the fit. I hadnt taken into account that my favourite jeans had a bit more stretch naturally than the white pair. So I unpicked it, and eased it out some more. Be fussy at this point. Even if you have to unpick and re-sew parts of that line a few times.. you want the fit just right! Once your happy with it, change the thread back to white and sew a normal straight stitch along your temporary black stitch line. Unpick your black stitching. Overlock close to the edge of your new seam.
Fold your jeans flat in half along the inside leg seam. You can now use your 'new' leg to measure on the next one to be adjusted. Mark and pin and repeat as above. Now for the waistband! This is the most fiddly part. I used this tutorial to help me. Unpick the belt tab, you can hide your new seam under there and no one will ever know. Fold your jeans in half inside out. Open up the waistband on that side, inside out also. Draw a line from the seam on the leg, to the edge of the waistband. Sew along that line. Cut open the folded edge, open up and iron it flat. Tuck the seams back under and turn the pants the right way around. Pin the waistband back down onto the pants making sure the outside lines up exactly.. the inside wont be seen so doesnt matter so much. Sew along the waist then sew the belt tab back in place over the top of your new seam.
Repeat on other side of the waist.
I have a neat pair of George brand bright pink jeans for Amy that I got in the UK in a thrift shop there for 2 pound. The same technique can be used on any sized jeans to make them fit. At the start of summer, I also gathered up jeans of the boys that were torn through the knee area (from rough tumble boy play) and cut them off, sewed a new hem and turned them into jean shorts. Even jeans with holes, etc, are able to be mended/ altered/ recycled in so many clever ways! If you dont have access to a sewing machine, invest in a seam ripper, some pins and a block of chocolate. If you take the things, ready to go, I know nary a friend that would object to run a seam or two in place, overlock the edges, in exchange for some dark chocolate.. or a few aniseed wheels.. a bunch of home picked flowers.. a piece of burlap or a cute jar of some description... (spot my weak spots).

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Extravagant Living

On New Years day I sat on the bank of the lake at McClarens Falls watching the kids kayak, watching my husband once again interact effortlessly and enjoyably with the boys, watching my wee girl chatter and peel mandarins. My heart was full but a question sat on me: Lord, give me one word for 2014. It didnt take long to come to me. A couple of days before 2013 was out, Sam had made a decision. One of sacrifice, discipline. I had wanted to kind of reason him out of it, or at least suggest to him things like moderation, balance. Not because I didnt agree with his decision, but because I recognised the cost of it. Because I wondered to myself "could I do it?". I dont want to tell you the decision, because the point of this blogpost is this: decisions made in the heart. Our decisions are always first made in the heart. Its there that a seed takes hold, and bears fruit in a later time. Its there that treasure is stored. I love the verse in Luke 2:19 Luke 2:19 "But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.". What are the things you ponder about? What your mind often turns to, can reveal a lot about where your treasure lies. Sitting on the shores of the lake one word stamped into my mind: Extravagant. extravagant ɪkˈstravəg(ə)nt,ɛk-/ 1. lacking restraint in (spending money) or using resources. Imagine that... Extravagant living for our Lord Jesus Christ in 2014!! What would that look like to you? How would that affect your spending? How would that influence your thoughts? How would that look in your prayer life? How would that define the use of your time? I know what extravagant living for self looks like. I also know the emptiness it yields. But if thats the extent of self living, I wonder just how awesome and fulfilling extravagant living is, for our King. And have we really even close to begun to understand its impact in our generation. No cost too great. No expense too high. No act of service above you. No resource unavailable for the purpose of His Kingdom. No inch of your reputation too important for His cause... Matthew 13 44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. 45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Practically speaking..

I know a wardrobe might not seem a place to practise fearlessness,.. but for me, it kinda is. Not in the sense of how daring I can be with what I wear. But in how authentic I can stay to my sense of style, in a modest and edifying way. I think defining 'your' style is a great place to start in sorting your wardrobe. Mine is 'classic romantic'. A nice pair of clean line jeans with a white, slightly lacy/ frilly/ furry/ sparkly top. A few cute, perhaps, understated accessories and a touch of natural make up. To me, thats perfect. I gravitate towards white and cream all the time. And thats probably why, the movie "The Holiday" sits as my number one all time favourite.. (despite the adorable English scenery and cute guy to go with, for which I insert my dear Sam and sigh and think again how lucky I am to have the man of my dreams).. the wardrobe of Cameron Diaz in this film, is completely me. Unfortunately (in my opinion), our climate doesnt often lend itself to fur coats, hats and gloves. Maybe at the most I can get away with a cable knit top at our winters depths. But I restrain myself to finding ways to bring that style through in ways that suit our warm and sunny Bay of Plenty. When Im out shopping and looking for clothes, I often hunt for pieces that I know can tie me through summer and winter. I try not to buy items that only fit one season, but choose things that can be layered and carried across. I also factor in that I am a 'brick' in the definition of Susannah and Trinny, so I always look for things that evoke soft curves and the appearance of a figure and create a feminine silhouette in the absence of one. And thats where this top comes in.
I saw it in Farmers today while shopping with mum for an iron, but being distracted by a %30 off sale, as you do, when youre a woman :) On the racks it grabbed me. I walked away from it at first because I always ask myself "Do you actually need this item". After all, a bargain isnt really a bargain, if you didnt need it. Right. However, on this occasion, I quickly numbered off various events where having this slightly dressy top would work. Where it would lift casual jeans to a neat date night. Or a classy meal out without being over the top. Or where you could throw a long sleeve top underneath, or a jacket over the top, and take it into winter. However, there were only 3 on the rack, all size L. And one of them was hugely discounted because of a pull in the lower front. The pull was clearly unfixable, but I quickly ascertained that resizing the top would also mean cutting out most of the area where the pull was present. Down from $50, to $20, I grabbed it. A bargain.
So here is a quick DIY on how to resize a knit top that might be too big.. and also might give you reason to be a bit daring with items you see on sale or hugely reduced because of flaws. Firstly - try on the top in the shop and decide first, if the fit is easily adjusted. Bend over, move around. Make sure its not gaping at the neck or in areas where its not easy to fix. This top had a ribbon tie in the back which gave it a lot of natural adjustment. When you have it home, try it on inside out, and pin down one side how much you need to take it in. Take it off and measure the same down the other side. Try to make sure you take in even amounts from each side, keeping the top flat and matching side seams.
Next, sew a straight stitch along your pin lines. Try not to stretch the knit as you feed it through.
I cut the tag off the scrap piece and resewed it along my new seam.. for future reference. To finish the seam, I overlocked closely beside my stitching. Top - done! Turned it inside out, and you cant even see the old pull fault. I plan to pair it on Saturday to my Aunty's 50th Birthday with these cute heels. I love them, but they are disastrous on wooden floors, due to their plastic sole and thus slip factor. And as Im still sporting an ankle injury, Im concerned any slips on that ankle will render me in plaster. I tried your usual grate them on the sidewalk and scuff them up with sandpaper, to no avail. So now to figure if these can be made slip free,.... tips anyone??