Oct 21, 2007

I have been devoting much of my prayer and scripture study time to learning more about being *biblically feminine*~ y'know, somtimes I feel like I could read about it or talk about it all day,but I still wouldn't 'get it.' It is good to see it walked out by other Christian women~ Shannon,Danielle,Kelly,Linda,Jill,Julie,Audrey
Corey,Candy and more come to mind~ women who are walking out biblical femininity so much more so than I am, and who I am blessed to know~ but,just for once,I'd like to be able to get a handle on it myself.So often I feel like I am more like a man in the way I think, and the way I am, but God created me a woman and indeed a woman I am. I think it's easier to excuse selfishness and bad habits as a lack of ability to be truly feminine~ of course I can be fully feminine; got created me a woman! Please pray for me that I will grow in Christ to become more gentle,more kind,good and self-controlled,quicker to dig the Plank out of My Own eyes,transformed.... thank you,friend:) and I pray that you have a blessed day... <3 Stacey

Joyfully Feminine:"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him...."
-Romans 15:13

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."
-Romans 12:2a

“Gentleness is part of being feminine - part of being a woman, and God made us distinctly different from men on purpose!”~ Melanie Chitwood (Proverbs 31 Ministries)

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” ~ Galatians 5:22-24 (ESV)

"Lord of Heaven and Earth, Life can be frustrating at times. Lord, help us to keep our eyes focused on you. Let You gentle Spirit reign in us so that we may be a light to the world and can share the strength we receive from You with others. In the precious name of Jesus,Amen..."

Mommy Musings
Monthly Column by Anni Welborne
Riding Sidesaddle in this World

Our youngest daughter recently turned 4 years old. At her birthday party, Grandmother Indulgent gave her a toy roller coaster to ride. She had played with one many times before at a local home improvement superstore, so she was thrilled to get one for her birthday. The little car rolls down two little hills on a 10-foot ramp and then coasts to a stop. It’s hard to walk down our hallway, because the roller coaster fills it up. But listening to the girls play on it has been fun.

I had to laugh, though, when I heard our 6 year old daughter tell her little sister in a very matter-of-fact manner, “You’re wearing a dress. Ladies always sit sidesaddle. You have to sit sidesaddle.”

I’ve never taken my girls horseback riding. How on earth did she know about riding sidesaddle?

Because I encourage femininity, that’s how. Because I encourage it, she was on the look-out for femininity. Perhaps we saw a picture, perhaps she read it in a story, perhaps I did mention it at some point. I have no idea. I encourage my girls to be girls, and not boys or something androgynously in between. This is not going to be a tirade against feminism, although I think that title is a misnomer. There’s very little feminine about feminism. This isn’t going to be endless ranting against the current fashion trends, although I do indeed find them deplorable.

Rather, this is going to be a short list of some of the things I do to encourage feminine grace in my girls. By nature, some of the following items will be anti-feminist and will certainly be counter-cultural. But I’m okay with that! I will also include some gloriously feminine resources to which I frequently turn.

First of all, why should girls be girls? Why should women be feminine? Without going into a complete theological treatise, the answer is simple: Because God made us to be so. In Genesis, it says, “…male and female, He created them.” Distinct, different, and from all accounts, delightful. I’ve heard it described in popular vernacular that Adam (man) knew he was man because God gave him the task of naming all the beasts. But when he saw Eve, his first utterance was “Whoa! Man!” (wo-man) He saw Eve, and he liked what he saw! He acknowledged that she was human, but Whoa! What a difference! Woman is most womanly when she embraces those differences and cultivates them.

Second, be intentional. It seems obvious, but in today’s culture, a mom actually has to plan to be feminine. For me, this meant asking a question about each and every piece of clothing. “Is this decidedly feminine?” Another way of asking that question is, “Would a boy feel comfortable wearing this garment?” Not everything feminine is pink or has lace, though, so it’s not as easy as it appears. That’s why the second question is important to ask sometimes.

Intentionality also extends to posture and position. My girls and I talk a lot about how a lady sits, stands, and walks. This doesn’t mean that my girls sit primly in their straight chairs all day long. Little girls must still get proper exercise. For us, that means romping on our grassy acre, climbing the “fort” playcenter, swinging, and sometimes even playing at the McPlayland, which involves crawling and sliding, often in mixed company. This necessitates a dress of modest length, but also shorts under their dresses. Recall the day when girls always, always wore pantaloons or bloomers. Our grandmothers and great grandmothers recognized mobility as well as modesty (and comfort) with the simple undergarment of pantaloons. Frankly, I find them extremely charming – that line of lace sticking out from under a skirt, visible when the girl runs or jumps.

Intentionality includes “beginning with the end in mind.” I owe this concept to the father’s letter in Little Women, in which he refers to his growing daughters as “little women.” I’m not rearing girls, I’m rearing future women. To that end, I try to refer to them as little ladies. Recently, I left both girls sitting in the library at church while I stepped out for just a moment to speak with someone. When I returned, they were engrossed in their books, and I announced my presence by calling, “Ladies?” The librarian behind the desk straightened up and quickly replied, “Yes, ma’am?” I apologized for disturbing her and said I was just calling my girls. She thought it was marvelous that I referred to them as ladies. I replied that I want my girls to know what I expect of them – to behave as ladies.

Third, I must model feminine graces. Am I dressing femininely? Am I sitting lady-like? Children copy their elders. My little girls copy everything I do, and I must make myself a model of femininity before my girls will embrace it for themselves. I have to laugh – that phrase “feminine grace” is pretty far from how I actually feel most days. “Girlish klutz” more accurately describes me. But I can aspire to “feminine grace!” I do this by wearing a skirt most days, wearing a pretty barrette in my hair, sitting politely, and generally upholding femininity and modesty in what I read, watch, and comment upon. If I see a lovely, graceful dress, I point it out to the girls.

Fourth, I must address femininity and modesty issues with the girls from time to time. I don’t constantly harp on it, but when situations arise, I take the opportunity to teach. In particular, I remember one white, frilly blouse to which my daughter was attracted while we were shopping. It was admittedly pretty, lots of lace, decidedly feminine. However, it was a size 6x, and it had a plunging neckline and gathering at the bustline. We discussed that God did not give little girls bustlines yet, and that to wear something that emphasized that area of her body was not appropriate. Furthermore, I asked if a woman were to wear a blouse like that, would we be able to see cleavage, and they both acknowledged that to be true. Our standards of modesty includes not showing any cleavage, and the girls know that.

(Incidentally, we recently discussed cleavage in regards to a Barbie-type doll. To help my daughter understand, I asked her that if she saw a corner of a chocolate bar, would she want to see the whole thing, and she said yes. I asked her if she saw the edge of an apple, would she want to see the whole apple, and again, she said yes. I told her it was the same with body parts, that our minds naturally fill in the missing pieces, like a puzzle. If someone sees the edge of shoulder, that someone will want to see or will picture the whole shoulder in his or her mind. And likewise legs and busts. This concrete example of my daughter’s own desire to see more really helped her understand why we need to protect other people from seeing – or wanting to see – our bodies.)

Fifth, one receives what one expects to receive. I frequently tell my girls “pretty is as pretty does.” Or more specifically, “Princess is as princess does.” If we act and dress like ladies, we will be treated like ladies. One time, several years pre-children, I did a very informal research study. I was working as a secretary at a local university, and I frequently had to take stacks of papers or books over to a nearby building. For a couple of weeks, workers were re-doing the doors of the building, and I’d always have to walk through the construction area. Sometimes I wore slacks, and sometimes I wore a dress or skirt. In the course of the weeks of construction, I noticed a pattern. If I was wearing slacks, the construction workers were not inclined to open the doors for me. However, if I was wearing a skirt or dress, many times they would stop working to open the door for me. I’m not saying that pants or slacks are not feminine, because they certainly can be. I’m just pointing out an interesting trend in the perceptions of others.

And finally, I enjoy a few resources that encourage me to promote femininity both in myself and in my family. Allow me to share these with you.

Of course, the Positively Feminine website! There is a wealth of information and encouragement here!

Ladies Against Feminism is a great resource, highlighting several areas of femininity and grace. They have news items from across the globe as relates to femininity and women’s issues as well. I’ve learned so much from this website!

Vision Forum has an entire section of their website devoted to encouraging our girls to be feminine and graceful. The Beautiful Girlhood Collection has toys, books, and dolls to encourage feminine pursuits. I especially like their definition of Beautiful Girlhood.

Two daughters that have made great strides in re-defining girlhood and daughter-hood are the Botkin sisters. Their website VisionaryDaughters.com and their book are life-changing.

To encourage young ladies in their feminine pursuits and Godliness, I recommend the Issacharian Daughters newsletter.

One mustn’t dress like Elizabeth Bennet to be considered feminine. But if one desires to do so, there are the very lovely Sense and Sensibility patterns.

If you don’t sew, here are some other lovely, modest clothing sites:
Still plenty of summer left! Modest, yet attractive swimsuits: www.SwimModest.com and www.Wholesomewear.com.

Charming little girl clothes: www.Daddys-Little-Princess.com.

Paulina Carmel and Hannah Lise both have lovely, trendy, modest clothing for girls and women. www.PaulinaCarmel.com and www.HannahLise.com.

And two indices with lots more resources, both ready-to-wear and patterns:
A Christian Home - Modesty Index

Modest Clothes

After writing this whole article…I remember now... Our oldest daughter was perhaps 3 ½ or 4 years old, the youngest just a barely-crawling baby. We were at the world-renown, award-wining Children’s Museum (www.childrensmuseum.org) in Indianapolis, riding the carousel. I was wearing a skirt, and I indeed rode my colorful horse sidesaddle. I remember the carousel operator told me I would have to straddle the horse, and I replied, “But I’m wearing a skirt.” He looked surprised for a moment and then replied, “Excuse me, ma’am. I didn’t see that at first. You’re fine.” I dressed and acted like a lady, and the carousel attendant treated me like one.

Action points: Do you have girls? Do you want to encourage femininity in your girls? What practical steps can you take to help your girls be more feminine? Are you yourself feminine?

About the Author: Anni is the wife of Charles Welborne and the homeschooling mother of five children - two daughters (ages 6 and 3) here on earth, and three who graduated early and now dwell with their Heavenly Father. She assists her husband in the tape/CD duplication ministry at their church, where she is also in charge of the Deaf ministry and serves as a sign language interpreter. Anni is also a part-time Developmental Therapist for at-risk and developmentally delayed infants and preschoolers. In her "spare" time, she enjoys sewing, quilting, scrapbooking, and making pysanky (Ukranian decorated eggs). The Welbornes live in Indiana.
Copyright © 2007 by Anni Welborne.

Musings by Mariane
Monthly Column by Mariane Holbrook

"Diamonds Are Created Fifty Miles Below The Surface Of The Earth."

I read the headline and cringed.

Imagine the pressure. Imagine the darkness. Imagine the isolation. Imagine the distance from anyone who would ever appreciate the grueling process or even discover that they were there. And all the while, the refining goes on interminably until an outside force declares “That’s enough” and the release and retrieval of the stones begins.

The master craftsman cuts away the impurities and imperfections and begins the arduous process of faceting, so that at every possible angle, light is reflected. The final polish produces a diamond as nearly perfect as any jewel on earth and certainly more universally loved than any other.

And so it is with Christians. Those who suffer the greatest pressure, the most agonizing trials, the severest losses, the most mind-numbing isolation and the most debilitating infirmities, are being carefully formed in that unbearably lonely terrain by the One who Himself crafts His saints, His diamonds, the darlings of His care.

Corrie Ten Boon, whose family hid the Jews from encroaching Nazis, was one of these diamonds. When her so-called treason was discovered by the Nazis, Corrie and her sister were incarcerated in a prison camp where Corrie’s sister died as a result of injuries inflicted by Nazi prison guards. Corrie’s account, which was later made into a major motion picture, reveals the loneliness, isolation, suffering, pressure and darkness of a diamond-in-the-making.

Her submission, her faith and trust in Almighty God, her willingness to have the dross repeatedly cut away from her life, permitted her to finally emerge as a diamond ready for the final faceting and polishing. We who are still in the process admire and emulate her.

The Apostle Paul, a devoted follower of Christ, was not spared. His beatings, his loneliness, his incarcerations, his vilification, his suffering, his prolonged illness, his isolation, all became part of the faceting process which shaped him into a model for Christian behavior for all time.

God never promised not to give us more than we think we can endure; indeed, His children have more often than not been subjected to pain and suffering way beyond their endurance. But there is comfort in knowing these words:

Never doubt me, please don't fret,
I’ve never left My children yet.
Remember, child, that you can rest
And trust in me to do what’s best.

My reasons seem obscure to you,
But there are things that I must do
To make you, child, more like My Son,
And only I’ll know when that’s done.

I’ll see you through; I know the way
Will seem so hard, but this I’ll say:
Your very soul is safe with Me
For now and for eternity.

The Master Craftsman, with a painful but loving chisel, is busy at work. And we can trust not only His timeless skill, but His flawless, finished product.

Copyright © by Mariane Holbrook. This writing may be used in its entirety, with credits intact, for non-profit ministering purposes.

About the Author: Mariane Holbrook is a retired teacher, an author of two books, a musician and artist. She lives with her husband on coastal North Carolina. She maintains a personal website www.MarianHolbrook.com and welcomes your emails at Mariane777@bellsouth.net. Note: Due to medical concerns, Mariane is currently taking a short sabbatical from her column.

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