Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder . . .

What the Bible says: “Let your [beauty] be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious.” - 1 Peter 3:4 ESV

Quote: “A woman of beauty . . . knows in her quiet centre where God dwells that He finds her beautiful, and deems her worthy, and in Him, she is enough.” -  John and Stasi Elderedge


Beauty. Hmm, what a huge topic for girls and women! One of my favourite verses in the Bible speaks to us, as women, directly about beauty: “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” (Proverbs 31:30). This gets to the heart of the matter. We, as women and girls, yearn to be noticed and loved, and one way we try and achieve this is by attempting to beautify ourselves and by emulating those whom we perceive to be beautiful. This is not wrong and indeed we need to be doing this in some way, for as His children, God does want us to look beautiful as He intended us to, and to take proper care of our bodies. But it should not be our ultimate goal.

When it comes to beauty, I know that we, as girls and women, often find one extreme and stick to it. Many of us feel that in order to be acceptable, we must be as beautiful as possible and so spend a lot of time trying to reach our ideal view of beauty, at the neglect of the shaping of our inner beauty. However, others (like me!) can become so focussed on shaping their inner beauty that they hardly bother with their outward appearance. This in itself can be disastrous, as you can distance yourself too far from the world and in doing so, find it very difficult to evangelise. I am sure that Christ calls us to keep ourselves from either extreme, so that we can both identify with the world (while not being of it) and so that the most important part, our inner beauty can become more and more refined each day.

Note that in 1 Peter 3:4, we are reminded that Christ is more concerned with our hearts than our outward appearance. Remember, Jesus Himself was described as being beautiful only in an ordinary human way in Isaiah 53:2: “He had no form or majesty that we should look at Him, and no beauty that we should desire Him.” Jesus looked like a man, but it was his heart and attitude that was different from any other.

It's easy for us to envy those who are beautiful and to attempt to emulate them (many times I have wished I looked like some of Charles Dicken's heroines!), yet I believe that we need to think beyond appearances. For, as James 1:11 says, “For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.” We are here on this earth for a limited time – while we may look gorgeous here on earth today, what would happen if we found ourselves face to face before God tomorrow? Rather than just focussing on the outward appearance, we need to store up eternal treasures of emulating Christ, who is far better than anything or anyone else!

Here is a link to a good sermon on beauty: Wisdom for today #7 - "Exhibit Wisdom's beauty" - (Proverbs 3:21-35); http://www.sermons.org.nz/mp3/grbc2009/Proverbs-07.mp3 One of the first steps to being truly beautiful in God's sight is to be a follower of Him. Pastor Dafydd Hughes here explores how important it is for us to be following the "beauty of [woman] Wisdom" when in a living relationship with Christ, in order to be better witnesses for Him.

Magic Cordial!!!

Well, here's your first post from me, Daisy! It has been so hot today, and even a dip in our pool couldn't totally cool me off, so I resorted to an old friend of mine - Magic Cordial! A special favourite of my dear friend, Violet, Magic Cordial is my family's favourite cold drink, the most refreshing thing you have ever tasted! It is easy to make, and totally failsafe - contains no preservatives, additives or colouring. And best of all, it is different every time you make it!

Magic Cordial:
1 cup of water
1 cup of white sugar
1 tsp of citric acid
Soda water

Method:
1. Combine water and sugar in a microwaveable jug.
2. Put the jug in the microwave for 2 minutes.
3. After two minutes, remove jug, at citric acid, and stir until the sugar and citric acid have dissolved into the water.
4. Serve with soda water, to taste, although I personally use a 1 part magic cordial base to 4 parts soda water ratio.
5. Serve with ice cubes (optional). Enjoy!

The original recipe comes from Sue Dengate's "The Failsafe Cookbook", which was a great help to my family, back when I had lots of food allergies! I highly recommend this book to anyone with allergies, or who just wants to avoid chemicals in general!

Monday, 30 January 2012

Bread recipe!

Ingredients:

2 tsp sugar
3 tsp yeast
½ cup of warm water
3 cups of flour
¾ cup warm water
3 tsp salt
Optional: chocolate chips
  1. In a large bowl put: 2 tsp sugar, 3 tsp yeast, ½ cup of warm water.
  2. Mix a little bit and leave for 10 minutes.
  3. Now add to this mixture: 3 cups of flour, ¾ cup warm water, 2 tsp salt.
  4. Mix the mixture with a knife until it forms a ball of dough.
  5. Tip the dough onto a floured board and knead for 10 minutes. (Think “push the dough, fold the dough, turn the dough around”). OPTIONAL: at this point you can add chocolate chips as flavouring!
  6. Place in an oiled bowl and leave to double in size (for about 30 minutes).
  7. Knead for about two minutes on the floured board.
  8. Oil and flour a loaf tin.
  9. Place the dough into the tin and leave in a warm place to double in size.
  10. Bake in the oven at 180 degrees for about 30 minutes.
  11. Eat!

Recipe for a Great Beach Holiday!

For those of you who have just been on summer holidays here in New Zealand, here is a little piece of writing that I did a few years ago. Despite our lack of good beach weather recently, I am sure that you can identify with having days like this during the summer months! 

Put in a bowl 100mL of salty sea water,
Mixed with a cup of smooth sand.
Simmer gently with a bucket of laughter.
Add a handful of melting hokey pokey ice creams
And soaring seagulls.

Beat together 2 cups of waves
Along with one lone surfer.
Sieve in a picnic under the shade of a red pohutukawa tree,
Beside two splashing children.
Stir briefly with a smear of sunblock.
Top up with ½ a teaspoon of of bright seashells
And crabs in small rock pools.

And just to jazz it all up a little,
Sprinkle in a dazzlingly beautiful sunset
With hot fish and chips.
Bake in a tin with a message scrawled in sand,
And serve with a smile of love.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Laptop Guidelines


My conscience hounded me the other night. I had deliberately disobeyed my mother, and in doing so, I had broken the fifth commandment. This was regarding the new laptop I had brought, when, at around 10.30pm, my mother had told me to go to bed. I had retorted by saying that I was “just finnishing this . . .”, whereupon I had promptly ignored her and gone on with whatever I was doing for another half-an-hour! You may think that this is no big deal, but in God's eyes it is and yet sadly so often we do these seemingly “small sins” and dismiss them as unimportant.

These thoughts were going around and around my head the other night until inspiration hit! I thought that the best way of trying to avoid the temptation to sin where my laptop was concerned was to put God's word right in front of me as a daily reminder. I decided to go into my Bible and write out each of the 10 Commandments from Exodus 20. Underneath each one, I wrote out how some aspect of my laptop was causing me to be tempted to sin, and then what steps I could take to put this temptation as far from me as possible. Amazingly, the further down the list I got, the more I realized that temptations avaliable on the laptop could easily enable me to break all of the 10 Commandments, even in one day! This done, I then printed it and stuck it in an area where I could see it from my laptop. Now I will have no excuse for these “small sins”, and, with the Lord's help, he will stop me before temptation turns into sinful actions!

Doing this kind of thing may or may not help you – I have yet to see if it works properly for me! And of course, areas of temptation are different for everyone; mine is a laptop yet yours may be a cellphone, the TV, certain types of books etc! Or even many of these things as in my case! And the ways we handle it will be different too, but if we prayerfully search the scriptures and ask God to help us, I'm sure He will!

Exam Stress!


I will admit it. I am a workaholic and someone who easily gets stressed . . . especially around exam time! As a result, often around this time my spiritual life begins a downward spiral – I become more grumpy and irritable than usual, I have a tendacy to not complete or even start my allocated chores, but even worse, sometimes my prayer and Bible reading times come to a complete standstill! Obviously, this is not right!

I struggled with this particularly in my first year of exams. I was a fairly new Christian, I was getting to know how to do the exams and gradually, as the pressure and stress built up I made the fatal decision to give up my Bible reading and prayer times on most nights in order to make room for further study. Despite all, my exam results, while better than average, were still not fantastic. And to add to this was my growing sense of discontentment and my stinging conscience.

This was where Mum stepped in, realizing that I was going overboard and perhaps seeing the way it had made me so much grumpier! The next year, she encouraged me to participate in more social activities than I had previously and persuaded me to not spend all my spare time doing work and wallowing in my worries!

And do you know what? It really made a difference! By the time exams approached, I was far more relaxed. Somehow, I was managing my time more effectively and so was having a decent prayer and Bible reading time. It really helped to prepare me for the exams as I asked God to help me be accepting of the results I got for my work, whether they were good or bad. In fact, in the odd snipets of time where I felt I needed a break, I began to read good Christian books, which seemed to help me during this stressful time to keep my attention on God (one I read which I highly recommend for any teenage Christian is The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel).

Another thing that helped God to remain in the picture was to listen to my favourite Christian music, particularly well-known hymns (but without vocals as they made it too hard to concentrate!) while doing my study. As simple as it sounds, it really meant that somewhere in my subconciousness was God and memories of the sermon at Church!

The next thing I knew, exams were over for the year. God certianly has a sense of humour – this time around, my results were so much better!

Friday, 27 January 2012

Violet: My Profession of Faith


(Said as a speech on the day of my baptism)

Growing up in a Christian family has, I believe, had a huge impact on me coming to know the Lord. One of my first prayers, when I was three or four, was to ask the Lord to help me find my lost teddy bear! I'm pretty sure that's not what God had in mind when He told us to pray, but at least I was learning how important prayer is supposed to be in your life. Meal time Bible readings and prayers as well as going to Church and Sunday School were things that made a huge impact on my childhood. From an early age, I was taught about God and that I needed a personal relationship with Him. Basically, I've always had all the head knowledge about God, but it was really my heart and my life He wanted!

My awareness about God sprang into action when I was about twelve, and my younger sister became a believer. I remember being really depressed around this time, and often coming to tears as the realization of my sinfulness hit me day after day. I saw that my sister's whole attitude had changed and she understood the commitment she had made, despite how much younger than me she was. For the first time, I felt that she was wiser and better than I was, and I didn't like that! But my heart, still steadfastly in rebellion towards God, refused His clear calling. I convinced myself that it didn't matter now, and that I'd follow the Lord when I was older and understood more. I then went on living my own way. Although people may have thought me a Christian at school and other places, as I had been brought up to follow Christian morals and live by them, no one except God knew the spiritual warfare going on in my heart.

By 2008, I was again beginning to think about God. Over the years, I was constantly becoming convicted of my sin and my need for a saviour. But in my sinfulness, I continued to put God off and live my own way. Then one day, the elders from my Church came to our house for their pastoral visit. My sister and I were now considered old enough to sit in on part of it. Over hot drinks and bickies, my pastor opened a passage in the Bible. I can't remember now what the passage was or what he said to explain it afterwards, but I do remember that it struck my heart and convinced me more strongly than ever of my need for salvation.

So over the next few weeks, I began to seriously consider all these things over and over in my mind. And then it struck me - I shouldn't be waiting! God could come that second and excuses such as “I'm not old enough to understand” would be too late. So, on a normal sunny Sunday morning, as I lay in my bunk bed, I asked the Lord to help me to follow Him.

My baptism meant a lot to me. It symbolized my new union with Christ. The coming up out of the water was a symbol of cleansing, leaving my old sinful ways behind and letting God be the leader of my life. My prayer is that you, also, will come to know the Lord as I have come to know Him. Yes, you will still struggle with sin in your life, but you will have someone to lead you out of it and keep you on the right path. Accept Him today! It is never too early and He is coming again soon!

Christian Living


 
This part of the blog (as found under the same heading in the labels section) is intended both for our benefit and the benefit of any other Christians in their walk with Christ. However, these are only our thoughts on various topics through our own personal search through the scriptures and so should never be taken as being the ultimate or necessarily the right interpretation of the topic as seen through God's word. Rather, they should prompt your own search of the scriptures concerning these and other topics. We'd love to hear your own thoughts on any of this! :) God bless you as you serve Him!

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Welcome!

Welcome to our blog! This is a blog set up by two friends who would like to share their thoughts with other likeminded people, and who strive to live in the world, yet not be of it. Inside, you will find various articles, of interest to some (and not to others!). We will try to cover a range of topics, which interest us and we hope you will enjoy as much as we do. 

When we first became friends (many years ago!) our first of many projects was to write a story based on the immigration of two girls to New Zealand. The two characters were sisters, the elder called Violet and the younger, Daisy. We fell in love with each of our own characters and the nicknames have stuck! As this story remains a memento of our friendship, we wanted our blog to share the name.

So, we hope you enjoy looking around and feel free to leave any comments on the topics we've covered. We'd love to hear from you! God bless!

In Christ,

Violet and Daisy