Friday, March 30, 2007

Underneath it all...

After making two trips out of town within the span of two weeks, as well as having company for several days, I've taken today to just to take a deep breath and say "ah". Now, however, it's time to get moving.

Yesterday, with the help of my mother-in-law, I cut four napkins out of a yard of plaid homespun fabric. I'm fringing them and sewing a zig-zag stitch just where the fringe meets the rest of the material. There's no way I could buy four cloth napkins for the price of one yard of material, so I am very pleased with my little project. I hope to have it finished soon.

At some point this spring, I need to turn my attention to my lingerie and undergarment wardrobe. As far as undergarments are concerned, I love the old-fashioned term "foundation garments". These items truly are the foundation of a good wardrobe. What you wear underneath has everything to do with how well you look in your outer clothing. I have some things that are past their prime and no longer provide a good foundation, if you know what I mean. (I'm not usually prudish, but I can't believe I'm discussing undergarments in the blog-0-sphere. Blush, blush, blush).

Good foundation garments should flatter your figure without calling attention to themselves. In fact, the ideal is that your undergarments should be invisible helpers.

One important goal of undergarments is to give your figure a smooth appearance. If undergarments do their job well, your clothing will hang attractively. Items you will need to achieve a smooth shape are bras, panties, slips (yes, slips!), perhaps a camisole or two, and perhaps a body shaper or girdle type garment.

The actress Dixie Carter says in her book, "Trying to Get to Heaven", that she does not buy matching bra and pantie sets. Instead, she buys a number of each in whites and blacks. Whites or beige/nude are always essential basics, especially if you are wearing them underneath white or light summery colors. But, who can resist some fun colors, as well?

Finding the correct undergarments to wear under white clothing can be tricky. When buying white fabric or a ready-made garment of white, put your hand underneath the material and hold it up to the light. If you can see your hand through the material, chances are the garment is too sheer to wear without your undergarments showing through. Before Princess Di became fashion savvy, she was photographed wearing a sheer summer skirt without a slip underneath it. She was standing in front of the sun, and her bare legs showed through her skirt. This was considered to be a gaffe on her part.

Even if a white garment is of the right material, you still need to give your undergarments some thought. Generally, wearing something that is close to your own skin tone is best. For example, a fair skinned woman usually wears white or nude underneath white, while a very dark-skinned woman may choose black.

There are many darling bra and pantie sets. Usually, these sets are adorned with lots of lace and perhaps some ribbons or other decorative items. While it's fun to have sets like this to wear, they won't serve as the mainstay of your foundation wardrobe.

Under many fabrics, highly decorative bras look bumpy. They catch a shirt or dress top in a way that makes it bunch. Of course, you can combat the bunchy effect by wearing a silky slip or camisole between your top and bra. Save your frilliest bras for wearing underneath garments that don't bunch on the lace. But, for your everyday bras, looks for ones that have smooth cups and little to no decoration. You can find smooth cupped bras in glamorous fabrics and in pretty styles. So, don't feel that you have to totally sacrifice beauty in order to wear a good bra.

A good fitting bra is essential for fighting the effects of gravity on your figure. If you are nursing, be extra vigilant to wear a bra with good support.

Some women hope to retain the youthful shape of their upper figure entirely through exercise. The problem is that there are no muscles in the breasts, themselves. Exercising the muscles underneath the breasts does help our figure. But, exercise alone can't stop the effects of time and gravity. Unless we wear good bras, our breasts are destined to droop with age. Even small breasted women benefit from wearing the right bra.

There are many charts available that teach you how to measure yourself for a bra. However, it can be difficult to size yourself. And, our size changes throughout life, for various reasons. So, we may continue to buy a size that no longer is our best. In fact, many articles have been written that warn that most women are walking around in the wrong size bra. So, a little professional assistance can't hurt. If you undergo a figure change -- say after weaning a baby -- it's a good idea to help a qualified sales woman to help you determine which bra size is currently best for you. Once you've bought one good bra from someone who knows how to fit you, you can take the information she gave you and look for less expensive bras on your own.

Of course, you've probably already discovered that good fit not only requires the right sizing, but also a style of bra that suits you best, as well. The style that suits one woman may not work for someone else and vice-versa. So, it's a good idea to try on a variety of bras to find what works for you. Again, our figures undergo changes throughout life, so it's good to stay up to date on the best style and fit for you at the moment.

A good rule of thumb is to buy two new well-fitted bras every six months. I don't always follow this rule. Instead, I just keep an eye out to see if my bras are looking worn or droopy. Proper care of a bra will help it last longer.

While it's nice to have several bras, you can get away with having only two for normal use. If you do this, wear one one day while you rinse out the other one and hang it to dry. That way, you will always have a fresh bra to wear. When adding bras in addition to your two mainstays, you may want to consider a sports bra, a strapless bra, and a bra that is so pretty it makes you smile just to wear it.

When I was a young girl, women wore girdles or garter belts with hose. Then, pantyhose swept the nation, and girdles became a thing of the past. At the same time, ideas about abdominal health changed. The experts used to be think that a little abdominal support was healthy for a woman. Then, they decided that girdles were too restrictive on a woman's inner organs. They also pointed out that we are created with our own natural "girdle" -- the inner muscles that support our abdomen and lower back. Thus, unlike the breasts, our abdomens do have the musculature to fight gravity and stay smooth, provided that we keep these muscles in shape. So, in the 1970's, health experts began to caution women against wearing girdles. It was thought that when women rely on outer girdles for support, the abdominal and back muscles become lazy. It was decided that the healthiest choice for women is to maintain proper abdominal support through exercise and posture.

In theory, I believe that it is good to maintain our abdominal shape by exercise and posture. When I first learned this theory, I was very young. I was able to maintain a smooth shape simply by staying fit, and I assumed that would always be the case. Even several years later, I found that I could regain my youthful figure after childbirth simply by burning calories through nursing.

Now, a lot more time has passed. I've had some health challenges. And, though I'm working on it, I haven't maintained the level of fitness that I desire. So, like many baby boomer women, I've decided that I now need a little outer help from time to time.

To cater to an aging population, stores sell many different types of body shapers. These shapers provide anywhere from lightest support to heaviest support. These new body shapers are marketed so that we baby boomers won't think we're buying "girdles like mother wore." In truth, these body shapers can do as much as an old-fashioned girdle did to help skirts, pants, and dresses hang in a flattering way.

You don't have to be a baby boomer to appreciate a little support in the abdomen and thighs. Younger women may want to investigate these types of shapers, as well. This is especially true for women who have given birth. As long as you do not rely on a body shaper every day , you need not fear that using one will restrict your inner organs or cause your abdominal muscles to lose tone. Find the one that gives you the level of support that's right for you, and use it only when you most need it.

(Also, don't keep wearing a body shaper or girdle if you become pregnant. Perhaps, your doctor may encourage you to wear a supportive abdominal sling or undergarment made especially for pregnant women. Otherwise, do not wear anything restrictive to the abdomen when you are carrying a child.)

Of course, no matter what your age, using a body shaper to help smooth your figure is no substitute for staying as fit as you can be. Letting too much fat accumulate around our abdomens is good neither for our cardiovascular health nor for our feminine organs.

Whenever you buy something to wear, think through what undergarments you will need to wear with it. Purchase what you need before you wear the garment for the first time. This is especially true if you are buying a new dress for a special occasion.

If you have a small, basic wardrobe of well-fitting undergarments, its likely you won't need to buy anything that you don't already have on hand. But, do give it some thought. You won't be happy if you slip on a new dress or a pair of slacks, and you find that they don't hang right becuase you don't have the proper undergarments to go with the item.

When you first get dressed in the morning, look at yourself from all angles in a full-length mirror. Check to make sure that you don't have any loose bra straps hanging out or other problems, such as obvious pantie lines. While you're at it, check for things like runs in your hose or a hem that's coming loose or a spot you didn't see or some other problem you may not have anticipated. Take care of small problems before they become large ones.

Once you've insured that your appearance is fresh and neat, forget about how you look and enjoy your day. Of course, you may need to freshen up later on in the day, or you may change clothing from day to evening. But, if you start the day with a good evaluation in the mirror, you can be confident you've taken care of the basics.

Undergarments can be mended just as regular clothing can. A bit of lace that is tearing loose can be tacked on; a loose snap can be replaced; etc. And, up to a certain point, you may be able to employ a washing method that renews the freshness of a faded undergarment. The amount of effort you want to put into maintaining a particular undergarment might depend on how much you spent on it in the first place. A treasured bit of lingerie from a higher end store might be worth more upkeep than something you bought from the sale rack at Wal-Mart. Set your own priorities in this.

When it comes to cleaning undergarments, I always wash hose by hand. I make a pretty good attempt to wash my bras by hand, though I have been known to throw them in the washer. And, I confess to throwing other undergarments in the washer and dryer more often than not. The truth is, any undergarment or piece of nightwear will last much longer if you wash it by hand and let it air dry. You may want to try the special mild soaps that are made especially for undergarments and lingerie. Woolite also works well. And, liquid dish soap will do the trick, too, though perhaps not as gently as special cleansers.

When washing lingerie by hand, it's nice to add a drop or two of perfume or a drop of essential oil to the rinse water. Do not put these directly on the garment, as the oils in the perfume or essential scent can leave stains. Instead, add it to the water and then place the garment in it to rinse. Another nice effect is to tuck sachets into your lingerie drawer.


Thursday, March 29, 2007

Two Colors...

Did you know that you can coordinate an entire wardrobe around just two colors? Of course, most of us would like a little more variety in our wardrobe. But, if we choose two colors as a base and add a dash of another color here and there, we will have the makings of a workable closet.

Way back in 1981, Janet Wallach wrote a book describing how to put together both an everyday wardrobe and an evening wardrobe using the two color system.

Janet's emphasis was for the newly emerging working woman of the early eighties. Even so, her color schemes work for the woman who works as keeper of home, as well. Creating an at-home wardrobe that is centered around two colors -- three at the most -- will help you save money in your clothing budget and time when it comes to getting dressed.

I bought a used copy of Janet Wallach's book for a very small sum. Some of the information is a little outdated and reflects the fact that this was written nearly three decades ago. Even so, much of the suggestions are timeless and are still useful today.

Here are a few of the color combinations Janet suggests. Note that some of these would also work in a two-tone decorating scheme for your house:

blue-gray/pink (You knew I'd start with that one; didn't you?)
gray/mauve (And, could this one be far behind?)
black/true red
Navy/Green (This one comes in and out of popularity on a regular basis. I especially remember that navy worn with Kelly green was exceptionally popular when I was a child in the sixties. It was favored by girls and women who enjoyed preppy or classic fashions. I think it always looks fresh and classic).
navy/white or winter white
black/white or black/gray
Burgundy/winter white (looks especially fabulous for "dressy" outfits)
Forest Green/Ginger Brown
sky blue/pink
blue/ivory or winter white
olive green/rust
brown/blue (comes in and out of style -- becoming popular again in home decorating, so probably is in fashion for clothing now, too).
blue/pure summer white

Here's some choices Janet lists that aren't my particular cup of tea. But, that's just me. You may love them.

steel gray/eggplant
purple/red (hugely popular in the 80's)
gray/brown (It looked beautiful in her illustrations, because she centered everything around a couple of print items that had gray and brown in them. But, imho, that would be a hard combination to put together today. If you can do it, though, go for it!)
steel gray/khaki
greige/ivory (Maybe, I'm just not a fan of "greige")
black/blue (never worn in 70's, hugely popular in 80's and early 90's'; Black has become such a neutral nowadays, I think anyone can get away with this combination if they so desire. I've been known to wear it, myself. But, I'm not sure it's best for your main wardrobe pieces).
brown/beige (actually looks fabulous on some women and boring on others. Know thyself when choosing colors).

As I said, this is just a sampling from Janet's lists of colors. Please excuse me if I've jotted down any color duo twice.

There is something in this list for every woman's personal coloring. Imho, when selecting a two-color scheme from the above choices, consider the following: 1) The colors themselves: Is at least one of the colors in the duo extremely flattering to me? If so, its likely the duo will work for me. (If the color is flattering to you, chances are it is because it complements your warm or cool skin tone). In fact, if one of the colors is flattering and it's paired with black or brown, it may be a bridge for me that will expand my wardrobe beyond the boundaries we associate with seasonal color theory. 2) Is the level of contrast between the two colors too weak or too strong for me? Do I have delicate coloring? If so, a strongly contrasting color scheme, such as black and red may not work for me. I may need to go to something softer, such as light gray and pink. On the other hand, does a very neutral level of contrast, such as beige and white, wash me out? If so, I may need to look for a duo that includes at least one rich or one deep color, such as brown and rust.


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Be the Flower that You Are...

Everything has been flowering around here at an astonishing rate, and I know that more waves of flowers are on their way as the spring progresses.

When visiting my husband's brother's family this weekend, I saw that my sister in law had planted the most beautiful and unusual tulips. They were yellow with orange stripes.

Of course, my favorite color for flowers and my favorite flower of all is...the rose! If you read my blog often, you're hardly surprised by that. But, I have rarely met a color -- or a flower -- that I didn't like. We can be thankful that God has blessed us with an array of flowers in different colors and designs. Life is all the richer for variety.

In the same way, each woman possesses something about her that is both unique and beautiful. We have the choice of either obsessing because we don't look like some famous beauty or accepting and making the best of our own, unique beauty.

We've all read articles about famous actresses and models who feel insecure about minute imperfections in their looks. The beauty industry strives for what is unattainable in this earthly life: absolute perfection. It holds up certain definitions of feminine beauty, and we can make ourselves unnecessarily miserable if we measure ourselves by worldly standards of how we should look.

I love this quote about beauty from the book, "A Life Worth Living." "We should view our external appearance much as we would view the front door of a home. It's nice when the front door and entrance are attractive, neat, and clean because this is the first thing we see before entering a home. Inviting, appealing, yes! But, we don't want to stand outside forever! We want to be invited through that door and into the house. The real home is beyond the front door....Isn't that how we shoulda think about our appearance? It's only the front door to who we really are. We do what we can to make a nice impression, but we should spend most of our time and effort on the inside."

The question is, "What is it about you that is unique, special, and lovely? Make the most of the outer gifts God has given you, and don't fret about any imperfections. Even more so, make the most of your inner qualities: your abilities, talents, and personality attributes. These make you an attractive person from the inside out. Whatever inner qualities God has given you, use them to bless the lives of other people and to serve God. If you do, you will find joy and fulfillment in your life.

So, are you a yellow and orange striped tulip? A pink rose? A creamy magnolia? A white dogwood flower? A purple iris? Are you a mountain wildflower or even a humble dandelion blossom?

Whatever type of flower you are, let yourself bloom!


Monday, March 26, 2007

Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning. Proverbs 9:9...

Sometimes, the circumstances of life will bring to light an area in which I need to grow. Or, someone may come to me with a new and great idea that involves uncomfortable change on my part. Or, perhaps, someone might offer a suggestion about how I can do a particular thing in a better way.

In such cases, I can see this in a negative light. I can focus on where I have failed, rather than on what I can learn. Or, I will berate myself for not already knowing the lesson at hand.

One of the characteristics of the wise, however, is that they view learning in a positive light. They welcome instruction and teaching. They do not rest on the wisdom they've already acquired. Nor, do they feel that they have to prove their wisdom by putting up a front that says, "I know it all." The wise are humble. They do not feel threatened when confronted with someone who is more capable in a given area than they are.

Some of us have been wives and mothers for many years now. Perhaps, our children have even grown up and left home. We can feel that our years for learning are behind us. On the contrary, however, the empty nest years can be prime years for learning and practicing new things. We have more time to devote to activities that may have gotten lost in the busyness of our child-rearing years. We can keep growing as managers of our homes. Or, we can take up an art. Or, we can learn more about how to use a computer. Or, more importantly, we can train our characters to be more like Christ.

I love this quote: "As long as we are alive, we can keep growing in our character to be more like Jesus, not because we are so "bad", but because there is so much more we can become!".

Even when we are young, we can lose our enthusiasm for growing. We find ourselves going through a stale period. We lose just a bit of our zeal for God. We become a tad disillusionsed with the church. We have less desire to share our faith, and we even get tired of keeping our homes. Oh, we're not ready to throw in the towel. But, we know that our motivation is flagging.

This can happen for a variety of reasons. Perhaps, we have been hurt in some way. Or, maybe we've taken on more than we can handle. Or, we've quit depending on God and we're depending on our own strength. Or, we face a physical ailment of some kind that drains our mental energy. Whatever the case, Jesus calls us in Revelation to return to the height of our first love.

Drawing close to God will help us renew both our energy and our first love. (See Isaiah Chapter 40). We will also have to fight to keep a godly attitude. And, we will need to keep life and its trials in proper perspective.

Learning something new can help us get over one of life's slumps. This is especially true if we learn new things from God's word. We can never outgrow Christ or the Bible. With God, we are always standing on the threshold of renewal.

And, that's exciting.


Friday, March 23, 2007

Fresh and Clean...

Okay, I'm fessin' up. I broke a cardinal rule of home keeping the other day: DO NOT BUY TOO MANY CLEANING PRODUCTS. We need far less sprays, liquids, and gizmos than the cleaning product industry tells us we do. When we accumulate too many, they not only blow the budget but add to the clutter in our homes. At least, that's what happens at my house.

On Wednesday, I ran to the grocery the day after returning home from a six day trip away from home. I enjoyed the trip immensly, but, all the same, it was nice to be at home. And, I was eager to get back to my interrupted spring cleaning.

The cleaning products aisle sang my name that day. They know that -- at heart -- I am a sucker for all those promising potions and gadgets. I know this sounds goofy, but I actually enjoyed lingering among all of those products that promise a fresh, sweetly scented, sparkling home. And, then there were all those lovely products that promised fresh, clean laundry. Somehow, a few of those items just jumped in my cart and said, "Take me home!"

Among these products was a pricey spray named Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day. This was my first experience with dear Mrs. Meyers, who I'm sure takes her spring cleaning very seriously! Her products are listed as being "Aromatherapeutic Household Cleaners with naturally occuring cleaning agents and essential oils with a variety of fragrances." Now, I ask you: Can you turn down a product with that delightful description?

I don't know if I'm a victim of product merchandising here. After all, ammonia and bleach are, to some extent, naturally occuring cleaning agents, so just being a natural substance is no guarantee that its gentle. And, many products claim to have herbal essences, when, in fact, they might contain a neglible amount. I must say that so far, however, I've been pleased with Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day. The scent it imparts is lovely!

I chose a Lemon Verbena counter spray, which is refreshing and invigorating. Mrs. Meyers also has the same product with a lavendar scent, which is supposed to be calming and soothing.

Has anyone else used Mrs. Meyer's products? If so, do you like them?


Thursday, March 22, 2007


Laughter is one of life's soothing balms. Have you ever been in a sore mood or even on the threshold of a great sorrow, and you found release in something that made you smile?

Laughter is also one of life's great bonding agents. Don't you feel closer to people with whom you've shared some fun times?

Happy families enjoy times of merriment together. One of my favorite sounds is a house full of the innocent laughter of children.

However, as with most things, there is a wise and an unwise use of laughter. Ecclesiastes 3:4 tells us there is a time to laugh and a time to weep. So, laughter must be appropriate to the occasion. Ephesians 4:29 tells us that we must let no word pass from our mouth that isn't useful for building others up. So, laughter must not be used to tear someone else down.

Healthy laughter arises out of fun times together. As wives, one of the best things we can do for our husbands is to be joyful ourselves and to plan special times to enjoy with our husbands. That doesn't mean that we go around with faked smiles and pretend that all is well when it isn't. It means that we deal with problems in godly ways and that we develop a generally peaceful outlook towards life.

As parents, we and our husbands can help our children learn how to laugh appropriately. Both of our children have wonderful senses of humor. They are more gifted than I am at knowing just the right thing to say at the right time to lighten another person's heavy mood. However, when they were little, one of our children did not know how to keep laughter within appropriate bounds. He would either keep going when the moment had passed, and it ceased to be fun. Or, he would cross the line into making fun of someone else. We found that all it took to help him was a little gentle guidance.

Healthy laughter can also arise when we laugh at ourselves. When my dear hubby and I were in Utah, we drove along a high mountain road. Being a Southern woman and a non-skier, I don't have a lot of experience with deep snow. So, when I saw a lovely stretch of pure, white snow, I wanted to step out into it. Before my dh knew what I was up to, I jumped over a ridge of snow that had been left by a snowplow. I expected my feet to land squarely in the snow beyond. But, in fact, I fell into slick, knee-deep snow and floundered to get up. I started laughing and my husband did, too.

Some people consider it fun to tease others. Here's where I think we need to be ultra-cautious. What seems like gentle teasing to one person can be devastating to another's esteem.

Sometimes, people resort to joking as a way of hiding their feelings. When someone gets too close in conversation, they may use a seemingly harmless joke to draw attention away from themselves. Or, they may use a wall of sarcastic comments to keep anyone from attempting to draw near.

In such cases, laughter becomes a means of dividing people, rather than of drawing them together. Many times we are uncomfortable around such people because we do not know if they are joking with us or if they are serious.

As Proverbs 26:18-19 says, "Like a madman shooting firebrands or deadly arrows is a man who deceives his neighbor and says, 'I was only joking'." In the same way, Proverbs 22:10 says, "Drive out the mocker, and out goes strife; quarrels and insults are ended."

We can have some compassion for a person who uses joking as a barrier because we know that this type of humor covers up pain. We all know the cliche about the clown who makes others laugh, but who cries inside. In fact, circus clowns often paint their faces with sad expressions to underscore the pathos of being a jester.

If one of your children responds to every situation with an automatic joke, that may be a sign that the child is afraid of expressing true feelings. You may need to gently draw your child out so that the child can learn how to have "real" conversations. Once the child is able to express deep feelings properly, its likely that his or her sense of humor will fall into appropriate lines.

If you, yourself, respond to every situation by cracking a joke, it might be worth a few moments of contemplation to discern if your humor is real or if it is a defense mechanism. If it is a defense mechanism, you will find that you feel freer if you express the deep thoughts of your heart to God and to a trusted, godly friend.

It's easy in our culture to fall into a habit of inappropriate humor. For one thing, TV sitcoms depend on sarcastic comments and unwholesome innuendos to garner laughs, and if we watch too much TV, we, too, can begin to talk that way. Also, many homes, workplaces, and schools are filled with a worldly humor based on sarcastic complaints and shady comments.

We are to be the light of the world. Therefore, we have to teach our children how to "Do all things without complaining and disputing that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world." Phil. 2:12 We have to teach our children how to go out into the world as lights without picking up the world's language.

If we look for ways to put wholesome fun and laughter into our lives, we and our children will not be as easily tempted by worldly or inappropriate laughter. In this way, we will be building happy memories into our children, memories that will help sustain them in life.


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Hi All,

I just got home from a trip with dear hubby to Utah. He had to go for business, and we snuck in a couple of extra days for sight-seeing. We visited some truly gorgeous places. So, I've been out of pocket as far as posting and catching up on comments is concerned. I'll share more tomorrow.


Tuesday, March 13, 2007


Am I the last person in the blog-o-sphere to learn that Wal-Mart is discontinuing their fabric departments? A brand new super Wal-Mart opened near us. I purposely went there today to buy groceries, because I also needed to buy some stuff for re-potting house plants. I also wanted to grab an apron pattern I had looked at once, but had elected to wait to buy.

I found one row (left and right) of jumbled craft supplies, plus another row that carried a few sewing machines along with other household appliances. I asked an employee where the fabric department was, they broke the news to me that from now own, no Wal-Mart will be built with a fabric department. They're only going to carry only yarn. And, from the looks of it, they've cut way, way back on their craft supplies as well.

We have a Target store near us, as well as a free-standing Wal-Mart grocery store. Other than grocery prices, I actually prefer Target merchandise to Wal-Mart. To me, half the fun of going to a Wal-Mart was the craft department. I know they didn't carry the best material. But, I could always find something there that I needed. Ah well; I'm sure that if the fabric/craft departments were making money, they'd keep them.

All the same, I'm thinking about appealing to the Wal-Mart Corporation not to get rid of fabric and craft supplies. If anyone else is like minded, maybe we could convince them to keep sewing supplies.
I wasn't feeling the best today, but I'm determined to move forward with my spring cleaning. I decided to do at least one thing a day to help me get towards my goal. At least a few times a week, I want that one thing to be something creative or something that will add to my home's decorative appeal. To that end, I bought a nice ceramic cache pot that will hold a large plant, plus some household potting soil.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Spring Cleaning:

Today, I'm starting to work in some spring cleaning chores along with my regular cleaning. I polished two silver bowls and two silver candlesticks. I make a quick run through the house to sweep away any cobwebs. I thinned out a aloe vera plant that had grown too big for its pot. And, I hit the self cleaning button on my oven.

That doesn't sound like a lot, but I feel like I'm on my way to a house that's spick and span. Usually when I start a deep cleaning plan, my life automatically fills up with unexpected things. But, I am deterimed to persevere bit by bit until I've given the whole place a once over.

I also need to do a little inside painting, so I'm pondering decisions about paint colors.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Pressure and the Ticking Clock...

I read an article on the Internet last night that left me feeling a little blue. ( It was about women in their late thirties and their forties who tried unsuccessfully to conceive and carry a baby to term.

These women were all well-educated. Some even worked in the sciences. Yet, all were ignorant of the irreversible decline in fertility that a woman experiences as she ages. This decline begins as young as age thirty, but it moves at lightening speed for every year after age thirty-five.

Scientists are discovering that this has to do with the aging of a woman's eggs. Even when a middle-aged woman continues to have periods, many of her eggs are of poor quality. Some are not viable at all. Others are capable of being fertilized, but do not carry to full term. If a woman conceives in her late thirties or her forties, her chances of miscarrying are high.

Of course, with God, anything is possible. We all know women in their mid-forties who have given birth to happy, healthy babies by natural methods. And, I even heard about one woman who had a baby when she was fifty-two! She had not had periods for at least a year and had assumed she was in full-blown menopause. To her, this late-life baby was a happy surprise.

Yet, the reality is that purposefully delaying childbirth is riskier than most women believe. Like great numbers of women, the ones interviewed in this article put off having babies based on false information. They were told that they could have a child "whenever the time was right", and they believed it. If they were aware of the dim odds for having a first child in mid-life, they assumed that they could beat these odds. They also wrongly assumed that fertility treatments would counter any problems with an aging reproductive system. These women may have longed for children for decades, but they consoled themselves with the thought that they would have a baby "one day".

The women in this article, like so many other women, found that "one day" would never come for them. After months of trying, often with many heartbreaking miscarriages, the women were told that they would likely never bear a child using their own eggs.

Needless to say, this was a shock that the women in the article did not see coming. Many responded with despair and resentment.

"Why didn't someone tell me it could be this way?" some wondered.

Others reviewed their lives, wondering at what point that they had crossed the irreversible line of choosing career over child.

It was heart-wrenching to read about the deep pain these women felt.

The scary thing was that many of these women claimed to have been pressured into delaying childbearing. Upon learning that they had waited too long, they felt robbed.

One woman's statement echoed the thoughts of many of the others who were interviewed. It went something like this:

"From the time I was a little girl, my mother told me not to let myself become 'just a secretary' or 'just a mother'. I grew up believing that either fate was worse than death. I did not feel that I could or should have children until I first proved myself in my career. I was programmed to be this way."

Of course, this woman and others like her must learn to forgive. They must also take responsibility for their own decisions. When we face a disappointment in life, it's all too easy to point the finger at someone else.

Many women in this situation do work through their grief and move on. Quite a few elect to adopt or to conceive using donor eggs. The women in the article who selected these ways of coping said that the pang of not being able to conceive with their own eggs never goes completely away. But, they dearly loved the children they brought into their home by other means. And, they elected not to dwell on the negative but to find satisfaction in the positive.

It strikes me as odd that most people assume that women still feel pressure to get married, to stay home, and to have lots of babies. Perhaps, this was true at one time, and it might be true in some circles today.

However, my strong impression is that the majority of today's American women feel the exact opposite pressure! They are counseled to have a career, even if they'd rather be a homemaker. They are taught to delay child-bearing during their most vital years. If they do have children, they are counseled to stop after two, even if they want a larger family.

I wonder; is this kind of pressure truly liberating to women?

I think not.


Thursday, March 08, 2007

It is not while beauty and youth are thine own,
And thy cheeks unprofaned by a tear,
That the fervour and faith of a soul can be known,
To which time will but make thee more dear:
No the heart that has truly loved nver forgets,
But as truly loves on to the close, As the sunflower turns on the sun, when he sets,
The same look which she turned when he rose.

Adapted from a Poem by Thomas Moore

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Back to Wife 101... Or, When My Husband Dreams

We all have dreams that pass through our heads. I don't mean the type of dreams we have when we sleep. I'm talking about ideas, goals, and plans. Some of these dreams, we will act on; others we will set aside in favor of other goals.

If we are wise, we evaluate our dreams. We determine if they are, in fact, God's plan for us. We decide if it is something that we really want to do, or if it was a momentary fancy. We will consider what steps and goals we need to take in order to help us acheive our dreams. Then, we will put these steps into practice.

Spouses can help each other with this process of evaluating dreams. However, when a husband or wife is brainstorming, that's not the time to bring up a ton of practical obejections. When we are in the first enthusiams for an idea, we want someone to hear us out before they offer us feedback.

Sometimes, young wives are insecure when their husbands talk about great plans. Often (but not always) young wives greatly value family security, while young men greatly value challenge and adventure. Thus, young wives can have a negative reaction if their husbands' dreams involve taking some scary steps. For example, a wife may stifle her husband's dream of owning his own business, because she prefers the security of staying with an established company.

Sometimes, we old wives blow it in this area, too. Recently, my husband told me of a dream he has for serving God in our retirement. It is a great dream! But, it would mean that we would make some changes in our lives. At first thought, that collided with my idea of our future. Immediately, I thought of things I would have to give up in order for this dream to come true. And, I blurted out my objections.

Now, I know better than this. For one thing, our retirment is at least fifteen years away. We have plenty of time to dream and to talk and to pray about how God can use us best during those years. I could have paid my husband the courtesy of listening to him with an open and postive mindset before voicing my objections.

Over the years, I have learned some things about how to respond to my husband's dreams:

1) My husband is both a smart man and a spiritual man. He has some great ideas!
2) We enjoy dreaming together. My husband values my input. He trusts me with his dreams, and he listens to mine. I love the fact that we can dream together. I want to respond to my husband's dreams in a way that honors this.
3) When my husband throws out an idea for consideration, it doesn't mean that he's going to act on it. So, if I have some concerns about an idea of his, it's wise not to over-react.
4) If I do find myself wanting to over-react, it's usually because I'm feeling insecure. If I give way to that insecurity, it clouds my judgment, and I am not able to give my husband wise input. It's far better for me to hear him out, to pray, and, then, to respond. Having said that, it helps my husband understand me better if I say calmly and honestly, "I'm feeling insecure about this, and here's why."
5) Often an idea will have some merits and some cons. So, even if I do need to voice some concerns, I can usually find something positive to say as well.


Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Commitment to Loveliness

1) Continue to study Bible with friend who wants to become Christian
2) Moisturize, moisturize, and remember to use vaporizer
3) work on indoor houseplants
4) Do two or three little things from the Generous Wife suggestions.
5) Tend to some ailing houseplants.

Monday, March 05, 2007

One post turned into three....

This morning, I read something in a book about marriage that sparked some musings. The topic I pondered was how we can love our husbands and sons by understanding and appreciating the boyish side of their nature.

Well, before I knew it, out had come enough material for three posts! I thought I'd go ahead and publish them all at once. That way, you can read one or all at your leisure.


Appreciating the Boyish Side of our Husband's Nature
Part III

In a book called, "Precious are God's Plans," the author points out one way we can relate to our husbands' boyish side. The author encourages a wife to listen to her husbands as they share about their childhood and teen years. She encourages a wife to take an interest in the pets he had, in the sports or games he played as a boy, in his boyish hurts, his boyish defeats and his youthful joys and triumphs.

The more a man shares his boyhood and his adolesence with you, the more he shares his deepest heart with you. As he talks about his boyhood, he will come to trust and appreciate you more. And, you will learn more about him and will learn to trust and appreciate him more.

Of course, if your husband had a painful past, he may be reticent to talk about it. Don't force him to. But, if you take an interest, and you demonstrate over time that he can safely open up to you, he will share more and more of his boyhood memories with you over the years. You will both benefit.

It's interesting to me that June Cleaver often did this on the show, "Leave it to Beaver." Whenever she and her husband Wrd worked through a dilemma with one of their boys, she would ask her husband an interesting question about his growing up years. The question was always related to the problem at hand. Sometimes, they would chuckle over the similarities and teh differences between the way Ward was raised and the way they were raising their boys in "modern times". Of course, real life is not at all like a 1950's sit com, and I don't usually reccommend that anyone take marriage advice from the TV! But, June Cleaver just happens to be one example of how to put this principle into practice.


Appreciating a Man's Boyish Nature, Part II

If the wife enters marriage expecting her husband to be as mature as her father, she is sure to run into problems appreciating his boyish side. Or, if she did not have a good realtionship with her own father, she may compare him to a mature man at church -- particularly if this man has a visible leadership role.

Just as we don't function well when our husbands compare us to our mothers-in-law or to other women, we do our husbands harm when we expect our young groom to be exactly like another, more mature man. A groom of one year can hardly be expected to think and act just like a man who has been married for twenty-five or fifty years! We have to extend patience to our husbands as they mature into their roles as husbands and fathers.

If a wife is impatient with her husband's boyish side, she may rush to take control. She will try to monitor how he spends his time and his money. She will nag him to make sure that he has followed through with his responsibilities. She will quit sounding and acting like a concerned wife and will start sounding and acting like a worried mother.

Now, if a husband really is irresponsible, the wife must respectfully speak up and let her husband know how much this hurts her. She will also need to seek godly counsel in order to learn how to deal with her specific situation.

Even so, the answer is not to take on the role of "mother". Mothering a husband prevents him from doing the very thing that the wife desires; it prevents him from growing up and taking responsiblity for leading the family.

In the same way, a mother may have a hard time letting her son grow up to be a man. Yet, she does him much harm if she stifles his budding masculinity.

As a boy passes through the years between eleven and twenty-five, he looks to both of his parents for support. He gradually leaves childhood behind him and becomes more and more adult, a process that is full of joys and full of challenges. A mother's encouragement will go a long way in helping a boy to develop into a healthy, happy, mature, and godly man.

One thing that will help a woman appreciate a man's boyish side is if she understands that boys bond differently than girls do. When two or three girls are at play, they will use more words in a certain amount of time than two or three boys will in the equivalent playtime. Girls and boys may both tumble about the yard and climb trees and play a sport with equal fervor. But, girls will incorporate into their playtime activities that are rehearsals for future relationships. They will rock baby dolls and hostess pretend tea parties, for example. Boys, on the other hand, incorporate activities into their playtime that prepare them to be morally courageous, mentally strong, and physically active. They imagine themselves as knights in battle, for example. Knights are brave and noble, but they aren't known for their ability to chit-chat.

This difference often persists into adulthood. There are exceptions, of course. But, in the main, women are simply more conversational than men. Thus, boys and men often use active pursuits, such as sports, as a way of feeling connected with their peers. The conversation may or may not go deep during an afternoon of paintball with the guys. But, no matter what, the men will come home from such bonding times knowing that their buddies are there for them.

Of course, we women enjoy doing fun things with our friends, as well. But, likely, if two women decide to play tennis together every Saturday morning, they will chatter all the way to the court, during the match, and after the match is over, and they may even converse at different times throughout the week, as well. Two men who decide to play tennis every Saturday morning will likely concentrate more on the sport and less on talking. And, unless they see each other at work or church, they may not talk again until the next Saturday rolls around. However, the two men will find that the tennis match does provide a framework and opportunity for conversation. Over time, the men will build a deep friendship, and they will open up to each other about the deeper matters on their hearts.

Similarly, some men and boys find it hard to sit and have a face to face conversation with their wives or mothers. But, men and boys may find it easier to open up to the women in their lives if they are engaged in something active.

If your man is the proverbial strong, silent type, you may ask him, "How did your meeting go?" only to hear the one-word answer, "Fine." This is particularly true if the man in question is your teenaged son.

If a man isn't very expressive, he may be stumped if you ask him direct questions about what he is thinking and feeling. But, if you play a game or do something active with him, he may open up to you without even thinking about it. You may learn more in twenty minutes of playing cards or riding in the golf cart with a quiet-natured husband or son than you would in an hour of pulling a conversation out of him.

My son is a very personable, fun-loving young man. Yet, he is also a man of deep thoughts. And, you just never know when those deep thoughts are going to bubble up to the surface. I don't think he always knows they are there, himself.

When he was still young enough to be living under our roof, we'd often have a nice chat about things in his day. Then, he and I would both go on to other activities. Sometimes, just as I'd get focused on some task, he'd come back to me with some thoughtful question. I confess to sometimes feeling stressed that I needed to attend to the task at hand and listen to my son, too. But, I came to realize that the moments when the ponderings of his heart rose to the surface were very important -- both to him and to me. These were opportunities for me to catch a glimpse into the depths of his heart. And, it was good for him to be able to voice his thoughts. Besides, whatever he had to say was always interesting; many times I learned things from listening to his perspective. Perhaps, he even felt more comfortable pouring out his heart as I puttered about the kitchen. So, I tuned into what he was trying to say or to ask. Usually, he wasn't looking for a long conversation. He was more needing a sounding board, and I was grateful that he came to his father and me rather than going to his peers. At any rate, I learned to see these moments as precious treasures. Of such, some of the sweetest memories of motherhood are made.


Husbands and sons and boys...Learning to Love and Respect the Man and Boy Inside of Them.

(Yes, that's a picture of a boy!)

In loving and respecting our husbands and our growing sons, we can love them by appreciating the boy inside of the man.

Sometimes -- but not always -- this is easier of a woman grew up in a family full of energetic boys. It's also easier if she had a mature, but fun-loving dad.

My daughter and her best friend both of had loving fathers and wonderful brothers. They seem to have had an easier transition to living with their young husbands than some young women do.

However, any woman can learn to appreciate her husband's boyish side. I was the only child of older parents. My father was almost old enough to be my grandfather, so, consequently, my mental picture of a husband and father was of someone who was very mature. I married into a family where the parents had their children at a younger age, and the family consisted of three lively boys and a girl.

Both my husband and myself came from happy, stable familes. But, these families were different from each other. For this reason, I had to learn how to relate to my husband and his family. And, during the early years of our marriage, that meant appreciating the boyish love of fun that my husband and his brothers had.

There are exceptions to every rule, of course. Generally, however, a man will retain something of his boyish side to him throughout life. We women each have a delightful little girl inside of us, too, but we are more prone to letting the cares of life stifle our girlish side.

When a man's boyish side is integrated into a mature and responsible personality, his boyishness is a blessing. After all, Jesus pointed to children, with their trusting and humble natures, as an example to imitate.

My husband is now in his early fifites. His parents instilled in him a responsible character, as well as integrity. So, he came into our marriage with an unusually good foundation for life.

All through our marriage, my husband has always taken a lot of responsibility on his shoulders -- in our family, at work, and through church. I've seen how he has matured through carrying these responsibilities, and his character is even stronger now than it was when we were newlyweds.

However, to this day, my dear hubby still has within him a wonderful boyish spark that I find endearing. He makes me laugh. He encourages me to take a little time out for rest and play when he sees me becoming overwhelmed with the items on my "to-do" list. He fills our empty-nest house with the sounds of life.

When my hubby and I show hospitality to other couples, he is able to make the men feel comfortable. He can talk about sports and cars and other things that men are often interested in. He also helps me understand how to be a wiser mother to our son.

I've watched young wives who struggle with respecting their husband's boyishness. A woman may look to her young husband to always make her feel secure and protected. Yet, he may do or say things that attack her sense of security.

Sometimes, this happens innocently. A man may actually have a great character and a desire to protect his wife, but his wife may mistake his boyish side as evidence of a poor character. She may become insecure when there is no need to be.

Sometimes, however, a man truly is immature or irresponsible. When this is so, a wife will find it even harder to learn how to appreciate his boyish side. However, a wife in this situation will find it helpful to distinguish her husband's boyish zest for life from his character weaknesses.

A wife who does not understand her husband's boyish nature may resent every moment her husband spends hanging out with the guys. She may think he wastes too much time and money on sports. She may look down on puruits that he thinks are interesting, but that she considers to be a waste of time. And, she may not understand why he's not fascinated by every one of her own interests.

A wife may see her husband do something she thinks is silly, and she may allow that to arouse disrespect within her heart. A Biblical example of this is Michal, who was married to David. She looked out a window and saw him leaping and dancing before the Lord. She thought he was violating his kingly dignity, and she despied him in her heart. In reality, David was doing nothing wrong; he was simply expressing his great passion for the Lord. Later on, in the privacy of their chambers, Michal chided David for having behaving publicly in an undignified manner. When David realized she did not respect him or his devotion to God, his great love for her died forever.


Friday, March 02, 2007

Basics on a Shoestring

Yesterday, I popped into Burlington Coat Factory to buy one of the pretty storage boxes they've been carrying. Supplies are dwindling, and I don't know if they will be getting any more in.

While there, I rembered that I was in need of a basic shirt for spring/summer. We go from chilly to hot pretty fast here in Tennesss, and we have more warm months than we do cool. So, getting a warm weather wardrobe together is pretty essential.

Anyhow, I found a short-sleeved black shirt that can be worn open over a tank or worn by itself as a blouse. And, I found a crinkly silk shell in my favorite color pink. To top it off, I found the perfect weight seasonless gray pants. (Most of my wardrobe looks fabulous with gray). I can wear this all together as an outfit, or I can wear them as separates with other items. The black shirt in particular will allow me to wear my favorite skirt year round. (Right now, I wear it with a heavy black sweater). Decorative storage box included, my total bill was about $50.00. I'm getting in shape, so I don't want to invest a lot of money in clothing for the size I am now. But, I could probably alter all of these down a size or two as I lose.


Thursday, March 01, 2007

Rubies and Corals

In Monday's post, I talked about the fact that a virtuous woman is said to be worth far more than rubies or precious gems. Today, I thought it would be fun to take a look at rubies and red corals, two of God's beautiful creations.

In the process, we can ponder how God uses the beauty of physical things to teach us about the beauty of spiritual things. He points to what our eyes can see in order to help us understand what our eyes cannot see. In the case of the virtuous woman, He uses rare and beautiful gems as an illustration.

As I mentioned, the Hebrew word translated as rubies in Proverbs 31:10 is paniyn. There is a specific Hebrew word for coral, and, when that is used in the scriptures, we can know it definitely means coral. Paniyn on the other hand, can mean rubies, precious red coral, pearls, or even gem stones, depending on the context.

Because of this, Bible scholars are not 100% sure exactly which meaning paniyn carries in the section about the virtuous wife. Since I am nowhere near being a Biblical scholar, I don't pretend to be able to weigh in on that question. All I know is that whichever meaning of paniyn is intended here, this passage is talking about something that is both exceedingly precious and exceedingly rare.

Precious coral (sometimes called noble coral) is valuable today. It was even more so in ancient times. It is considered to be one of the oldest items to be used as valuable gems. In fact, red corals were apparently valued long before pearls came to be thought of as something precious. Red or noble corals were carried along ancient trade routes and were often traded far from where they were found.

Coral is, of course, the product of sea life. Noble or precious corals are somewhat different than reef coral. The noble coral is secreted by tiny creatures called polyps. In the Mediterranean and Red Seas (and Japanese waters, as well), these creatures produce a reddish subtance that can be polished into a beautiful, smooth surface.

Corals found nearer to the Northern coast of Africa are dark red. Corals nearer to Italy are pink-red or rose-red. Corals nearer to Sardina are salmon-red. Somewhere along the way, our English word coral came to mean both these secreting sea creatures and the color salmon-red, which reminded people of this particular shade of sea corals. There is also a pale-pink coral, which we call "angel-skin" coral today.

While corals and pearls are different in appearance and texture and are secreted by different creatures, they are basically of the same chemical composition.

Red or noble corals are found in dark crevices in the Mediterranean at depths from ten meters to 300 meters. The shallower beds have been almost depleted by centuries of harvesting. Red coral grows at a very slow rate -- only about 1/4 inch per year. As you can imagine, this long growth time makes it all the more precious and rare.

Noble or red coral can be polished to a high shine. The Phoenicians sewed beads of coral into their garments as ornamentation. Coral jewelry has been found in Egyptian burial sites, as well as in prehistoric European burial sites. I read about an exhibit of corals in a museum, where one piece had been carved into a statuette about eight inches high.

The Hebrews do not seem to have sewn coral into their clothing, as the Phonecians did. Nor, would they have buried jewelry with their dead. Also, many superstitious myths surrounded coral, and pagan cultures sometimes assoicated corals with healing powers. Devout Jews would not have believed these myths.

Even so, the Jews did recognize noble corals as precious cargo, and they certainly would have been familiar with their beauty and rarity. If paniyn does indeed mean corals, Jewish women would have understood the lovely imagery.

If the term paniyn indicated rubies, the Israelite women would have understood that imagery as well. As they are now, rubies were noted in ancient times for their color, their rarity, and their brilliance. Rubies would have come to the Israelites through the Egyptians and Arabia and may have been mined as far away as India.

At God's command, the high priest's breast plate was woven with 12 stones, one for each tribe of Israel. Each stone was engraved with the name of the tribe it stood for. The first stone in the ephod, from the Hebrew word odem, which can mean a ruby or a carnelian. So, it's possible that the ephod contained a ruby.

The base for the ruby stone is a colorless mineral called corrundum, that is found in ordinary rocks. However, it rarely happens that corrundum will contain just a tiny bit of chrome. When this occurs, the chrome transforms the corrundum into the magnficient, sparkling, red stone that we call ruby. Large rubies are more rare than equivalent sized diamonds.

Rubies, like diamonds, are measured in value according to their color, clarity, cut and size. Rubies can range from light pink to bright red. The most desirable rubies -- at least in today's market -- are what is known as pigeon blood's red. The name doesn't sound very lovely, but the color is. It's red with just a hint of blue in it.

You can identify a true ruby from a fake one by the miniscule little includsions found in real rubies. The chrome that gives rubies their vivid coloring also produces tiny cracks and fissures inside the crystals that make little individual patterns within the stone. By contrast, synthetic rubies do not have these little marks.

Like diamonds, rubies must be cut and polished before their beauty shines in full brilliance. I suppose we should not be discouraged that we, too, need refining on our way to becoming women of virtue.

One of the most famous rubies is the Reeves Star Ruby, which weights 138.7 carats. It is noted for its star pattern, a pattern which results when a ruby is cut a certain way. It was found off the coast of India, on the island of Sri Lanka.

Another famous ruby is the Delong Star Buby, which is currently in a museum in New York. It is noted not only for its size and beauty, but for being the object of a famous burglery in 1964. Fortunately, the stone was recovered.

As of 2006, the record price for a ruby sold at auction was was $5,860,000 for an unnamed 38.12 carat ruby. It's possible that there are even more valuable stones out there that have not come to public attention.

I don't know about you, but I don't have $5,860,000 lying around with which to buy a ruby!
Though this sounds like an unimaginable sum to most of us, it's nothing whatsover compared to the price that God paid to redeem you. He paid a cost beyond measure in the death of us beloved Son.