31 October 2007

"Old Fashioned Ways to Stay Warm"

An absolutely borrowed, copied and pasted article from the American Chronicle.

by C.D. Mohatta
October 29, 2007

A few weeks ago a friend of mine mentioned that she and her husband try each year to make it until Thanksgiving before turning on the heat in their home for the first time. She said, "It gives us yet another thing to be thankful for." I was shocked they can go so late in the season without turning on the heat even once! But I was also inspired by her story. I would like to match them this year.

You see, you can insulate like crazy, close off rooms you don’t use, and give your furnace a tune-up, but these things won’t make you more tolerant of the cold before the furnace comes on. So here are a few off the wall strategies for feeling more comfortable with less heat.

You’ve heard you should dress appropriately, but what is dressing appropriately? A lot of people don’t know. Start by layering. Several thin layers of long sleeved shirts, or two light or medium shirts plus a jacket or sweater will make you much more comfortable than just one or two thick layers. The reason for this is, it is actually the air in the fibers of sweaters and between the shirts that act as a barrier and keeps you warm. For this reason, several layers of clothes are warmer than fewer ones, much like double and triple pane windows are warmer than one thick piece of glass.

This is a trick I learned from a professor born in Germany. She showed me that when her socks wore out she’d cut off the feet and put the cuffs on her wrists in winter. This and a scarf around the neck is like wearing an additional sweater but without the bulk of it. The reason is, our blood passes close to the surface of our skin in these places. These days I knit pretty fingerless mitts or cuffs instead, and sometimes wear an old fashioned Dicky under a button-up shirt.

Multiple pairs of socks and / or extra warm slippers are also a must for staying warm in the home. Open-backed or acrylic slippers are not nearly as warm as woolen felted ones.

One year we discovered that if in the evenings we put on our coat and walked around the block for only ten minutes, that when we went indoors we’d be comfortable and warm for four or five hours. Metabolism is key in staying warm, which is why some people feel the cold much more than others, so stay active!

When my mother was growing up on a farm, they used to put bricks in the bottom of the oven, which would heat while cooking supper, and then after supper they’d be taken out, wrapped in towels, and put at the foot of the beds under the covers to keep the bed warm all night. These days you can use a hot water bottle or electric blanket to warm your bed or hold a heating pad or hot water bottle in your lap with a throw blanket over it while you are watching evening television.

With a little imagination you can keep warm in other ways: washing dishes by hand, drinking hot tea, having a cat or small dog in your lap, taking a hot bath. And let us not forget that two can stay warmer in bed than one!

To sum up the article, maybe your Mom or Grandma taught you already:
  • Dress in Layers
  • Cover Neck and Wrists
  • Extra Warm Feet
  • Stay Active
  • Use a Bed Warmer
  • Two Keep Warmer Than One
  • Be Creative in the Kitchen

And to help you out with that last entry, don't miss "50 Ways Chocolate Can Keep You Warm".

Picture above from "Vocational Guidance for Girls, by Marguerite Stockman Dickson", at Project Gutenberg eBooks

29 October 2007

Contrasts in Culture

Two articles referring to modesty came up this week I'd like to share with you.

In the first article, "Face-Veil: Mistaking Social Custom for Religious Rules," the author tackles a very ticklish subject. The idea of modesty, especially for a lady, is a part of her spirit, as what is inside is portrayed on the outside. For many religious women, modesty is a part of spiritual humility and the understanding that women were made differently from men for a reason. There is also the idea that beauty is not something to brag about or enhance vainly (since the physical things do tend to fall apart over time), but to accept humbly, or in "old fashioned" terms, modestly. What makes this subject so difficult is the fact that modesty is subjective. In regards to culture, especially, men and women grow up to understand that a certain style of dress, or certain behaviours, are humble and modest, while others are proud and vain. When a person moves into another culture - then what? Is the new culture too modest? Or not modest enough? And what makes people especially frustrated: Where will we draw the line? Muslims, this article points out, are taught to be modest in behaviour and apparel, but depending on the local culture, that definition changes. A very conservative, modest Muslim lady from Saudi who moves to the US, in this example, begins to move her own personal line, as she notices differences in the new local culture as to what is expected. I think most people in general would agree that there is no "law" which says that a woman is to cover her face and hands in public, and yet, there are women of all cultural backgrounds who may be very modest about their appearance.

And yet there are cultures where there seem to be no lines at all for modesty, and the idea itself is openly mocked. The second article that I came across today regarding modesty is the announcement that the Spice Girls singing group - known for their love of attracting attention - will be going on tour again, and this time, giving modesty and humility up for dead. The Spice Girls will get naked.
The Spice will reportedly being getting naked on stage for their reunion tour, and are getting paid $2 million each to do so..

Mel C, speaking to Graham Norton on his BBC 2 show, said: ‘We do actually go naked in the show, completely’

But, she insists that the girls will use props to hide their modesty.

According to Now Magazine, the famous four, who are reuniting later this year for an around the world reunion tour are also going to wow audiences with a pole-dancing strip-tease routine, for which they’ve reportedly received professional tutoring from exotic dancers.

‘It is their raunchiest routine ever and they just can’t wait,’ a source told the Daily Star.

‘It is going to be no holds barred. But they’re all in great shape, so why shouldn’t they just go for it?’

As I pointed out in my last blog article, Dear Abby says we modest girls should just grow a thicker skin and let these Spice Girls be. I think the "live and let live" attitude of our culture would agree.

But this disparity of cultures makes me sad. Sometimes it angers me, because I know that there are women who understand the difference between men and women, who know what the images can and have done to men and their families and their lives, and who still parade and flaunt and live in such a way that not only says that they are "confident" that they look good, but that they do not care about anyone but themselves and their own pleasure and comfort. They teach women who do not understand these things that to live immodestly is OK, and that the "backward", "old fashioned", "repressed" men and women will just have to accept them as they are. Not only accept, but get over the desire to be humble or modest, and live like they do. It's almost as if by proclaiming with flash and pomp: "Aren't We Naughty?", that they really want all people to be like them. But if all become like them, who will then be considered "naughty?" Unfortunately, it turns out that the ones in the wrong are those who want to preserve dignity, self-worth, marital fidelity, and mental purity; those who want "no lines drawn" will say that religious leaders, or leaders of families, have no right to make up arbitrary laws about the ambiguous idea of modesty - and then they will draw another line: that those who do establish limits are wrong. Noble Knights and Ladies are jeered. Honourable Fathers and Mothers are scorned and "put to death" in so many ways. All are sacrificed on the altar to the God of flashy self.

25 October 2007

So How Does "the World" View Modesty?

Grumpy old lady warning:

Does anyone still read "Dear Abby"? Apparently so, and they're still going to her for advice. In an article from October 19, she seems to say that it's "OK" to be modest and walk to the beat of a different drummer, at the same time pointing out that you are indeed "old fashioned" if you are more modest than your average slumber party girl. Oh, and she says to "grow a thick skin" - apparently an old fashioned modest girl needs it. Thanks for your encouraging advice, Abby. Way to keep "old fashioned" as the bad word here. /sarcasm

"About.com" has gotten in their say on the matter by ... putting it up for discussion. Reading some of the comments by grown women / mothers is kind of disheartening. Going nude or nearly nude, they seem to come to a consensus on, is just "being confident". Either that or just ignorant and unconcerned about it.


A Book about Christian Modesty

Normally when I post links, they are for information, and not to endorse or sell. However, I know this lovely author's wonderful Marmee, and am looking forward to her book doing some good work for the glory of God. Modesty: it's not so old-fashioned anymore. Is it?

The Modest Heart is now available for purchase through Xulon Press! Be sure to keep an eye on TheModestHeart.com for details.

Click here to buy.

Blurb from the website:

Discover how to cultivate the incorruptible beauty that is very precious in the sight of God with the practical guidelines and advice in The Modest Heart.

Be empowered to fight the waves of cultural immodesty that have invaded the lives of Christians today. You'll find new ways to effectively champion modesty in yourself and those around you.

Becoming a woman of godly grace is a journey that was never promised to be easy, but it can be one of the most joyful and fulfilling experiences of your life.

Discover how the true beauty of your heart is reflected in the decency of your body.

17 October 2007

Stay At Home Dads

A dear young Brother in Christ wrote to me and asked the following:

"There's this very strange movement that is recently emerging into the scene and showing its ugly head on the internet blogspots. I think you've mentioned it to me before but there are actually men out there (human beings of the male sex) who are actually remaining home and looking after the kids, housework and such while their wives are out earning an income. They're called "stay-at-home dads", it sounds extremely outlandish and absurd, I couldn't really believe that there were such men who would make such an outrageous choice. But anyways, it is a matter of fact and they're growing rather rapidly and have increased quite astronomically. I think there are approximately two million alone in the United States if I'm not mistaken. I wanted to inquire into this so I went to google it, but did not find anything sound from the Christian webpages. It is also a lamentable fact that many churches are actually condoning it, and there are many actual professing bible-believing "christians" who are going down this path. Do you know anything of this? Or is the media hype a bit exaggerated? Do you have any Christian articles that debunks this movement?"

I posted the letter anonymously in a private discussion group and received a great deal of feedback, which I include below.

But first, what does the scripture say?

Titus 2:3-5 "Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored."

1 Timothy 5:8 "But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."

1 Peter 3 "7 You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered."

Ephesians 6:4 "And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord."

Also read: Proverb 31, 1 Corinthians 11 and the contentious woman Proverbs: 25:24; 21:19; 19:13; 27:15 which deal with the woman leaving her role.

The following are comments that were made by Christian women to my personal blog:

"Titus 2 says that older women are to teach younger women to be keepers at home (busy at home, working at home). Therefore, any man who takes on the woman's role is effeminate (taking on the female role/qualities) and emasculated (putting off the male role/qualities). Such a man is defiant against God's design for male and female roles (perhaps out of ignorance).

I Timothy 5 teaches that it is the responsibility of the man to provide for his wife, children, and relatives. Paul says that a man who fails to work and provide is worse than an unbeliever."

"A person that has not decided to stop living for themselves and live for Christ will not be ready to accept this teaching.

One of the greatest consequences of this switch in roles manifests it self in the lack of spiritual leaders that are ready to fight spiritual battles. Our men need to be on the front lines of this battle: Ephesians 6:10-20, Romans 10:14-17, 1 Timothy 3:1-13, 2 Timothy 4:5. When we take our warriors and keep them at home we are setting ourselves up for certain loss."

"Perhaps a warning could read: Men, be strong and courageous ... LEAD! Women, be strong and courageous, stop controlling and let them lead! It takes more courage and strength to be led than it does to be in control."

"One friend wrote anonymously, and I wanted to share the thought, since many men have been forced into this situation: "Due to his physical disabilities, [a man I know] was forced into this role out of necessity and HATED it. I can't fathom why any self-respecting man would choose it.""

"I believe part of it is because the feminist movement has taught women to be unhappy with the best career in the world, to be a homemaker and/or mother.

I do not believe that it is wrong for a woman to earn money, the worthy woman obviously did, but I believe its obvious from those scriptures it was from things that she made at home because of all of the other things she did, it is quite the undertaking to do all of the mentioned and hold a job outside of the home.

There is nothing new under the sun, there had to be a reason there were scriptures admonishing women how they should act (Titus 2, Proverbs 31, 1 Corinthians 11, etc.). God did not create us equal, he sees us as equal in the respect that our souls are valued the same, but he made us different. He has specific rules laid out for both genders and for a while I resisted them because I had friends and the world telling me that I shouldn't be happy staying at home even without children. It is so hard to do good for others, to fulfill my role as a wife and a Christian woman without being at home.

Now I understand that there are some circumstances where the woman must work, but I believe they are over exaggerated, if we would stop listening to society and live within our means."

"I think the outgrowth of the stay-at-home dads is just the natural (really unnatural) progression of the feminist movement. If women ARE actually the SAME as men, why not? (said facetiously.)

The fact of the matter is that this is not the Lord's plan. Women are to be home keepers, men the providers. That's the way God designed it.

And I believe that there is a REASON for this design, beyond the natural order of authority. Men grow into Godly men by carrying the burden of provision for their families. They sacrifice self, and learn many godly characteristics as they bear their responsibility to lead and provide for their families. In the same way, we wives grow more godly as we lay our lives down in service to our families. I believe that this is the explanation for the verse in I Tim. that speaks of women being "saved in childbearing." "

"It seems a natural progression that with women taking on the role of provider that men would take on the primary role of keepers at home (Titus2-role for women). However, I would like to see an increase in the time that the fathers spend at home. A father need not neglect his responsibilities to the rearing and instruction of his children because he is fullfilling obligations as the breadwinner. Ephesians 6:4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. This is certainly hard to do with fathers spending only 6.4 hours (I think I read that was the average now) a week with their children."

"While I wholeheartedly promote the biblical example, I do like the trend today that was absent in the era of my childhood that fathers actually spend time with their kids and know them, thus knowing what they need."

"I think Dads who stay at home and "work from home" are still providing for their families, and not "kicking the wife out" of her place either, for the most part. The movement of the "home office" seems to be a pretty good one to me, in the sense that it will have fathers around their children to bring them up properly. I think the question above to be addressed really concerns the man who claims to be a man of God, and who chooses to send his wife into the world to make money for the family, while he stays at home to manage the home and children. "

Also - I came across this blog article (in Jess' Making Home blog) discussing this same topic: "It Starts With the Head", by Terry, who writes the blog "Ornaments of Grace". I encourage you to read this article and the comments made to it for more old fashioned, Christian thought and encouragement in this matter.

Volumes could be written, but very little will be said in the end that can go beyond the simplicity of Genesis 2:18. As one lady pointed out, those who do not have a Godly mindset will not understand this subject, as it comes from the authority of holy scriptures.

(To myself, I wonder how many honest non-believers though can look at the evidence of the world's experience and science, psychology and tradition, and not see the truth of these things: that there is a way that is best, and to ride that smooth path is actually easier and more peaceful in the end than to fight it on the ground of selfish ambition.)

A Christian Brother also responded to my post: "Except for brief periods of time, e.g. school, or if the husband is disabled and cannot do work outside the home (although I would inquire whether some business could be conducted from the home)." If the problem is that Dads aren't nurturing their children, and that's the reason that a man chooses to "stay at home", then it seems reasonable to expect that he won't sacrifice his wife's responsibilities or the family well being by leaving all work. I did come across one interesting blog/website encouraging Dads to stay at home with their kids by working from their home. Called "Christian Work at Home Dads". It's really not that hard.

02 October 2007

Modesty Modeled

Bod Squad Tour models modesty, fashion for girls (link)
quoted segments here by Cheryl Sherry; Post-Crescent, WI, staff writer

Created by best-selling Christian author Dannah Gresh for girls in grades three through six, the mother-daughter event features two fashion shows modeled by girls in the audience, new Gotee Christian recording artist Stephanie Smith, a Truth or Bare fashion quiz and Biblical teaching about the media and true beauty. The goal of the event is to show girls modesty and fashion can peacefully co-exist.

Not sure how necessary it is for modesty to coexist with fashion? Women wake up in the morning with a desire to figure out what to wear: to pick out a blouse, a skirt, and then what to do with her hair. Oops. Excuse the song from "Yentl". The idea is there - don't we, as women and even when we were girls, desire to at least look nice, presentable, not clashing, not frumpy? Maybe we get over it when we're older, and decide we don't have to look nice anymore because our inner beauty is all that matters, but most women still know that our inner beauty is reflected in what we put on. Think about it: why does almost every discussion of modesty turn to fashion? We really are what we wear. I think I applaud the idea of modeling modesty to the young girls. Optionally, it should be done by the family and spiritual family first, but if there is not a strong guide there, then someone who has some ideas to help is much appreciated.
Kimberly School District Superintendent Mel Lightner said dress codes are a big issue in public schools.

"Unfortunately, too many kids dress inappropriately when it comes to school," Lightner said. "I see one of the problems is that the culture and media promotes inappropriate dress many times in inappropriate venues. The message that children receive … is that it really doesn't matter how you dress, but it certainly does."
"(Modesty) kind of has a bad rap," Gresh added. "Girls are sort of afraid of it and think, Are they going to make me dress like a schoolmarm with lace to my chin? We tell them modesty is not about not expressing your beauty, but expressing it with caution because it is so valuable."

Check the link above for the full article/review, and the Bare truth fashion challenge in the side box.

In other news websites, see another review of "the burgeoning modesty movement," by Penna Dexter in the Baptist Press. And she quotes:
Allyson Waterman, from the shopping magazine Lucky and a regular guest on ABC's "Good Morning America," says we've hit a limit in style and behavior. She says the modesty backlash is not about being dumpy or "hiding under a lot of fabric" but "about embracing a woman's body with elegance and decorum," a la the style icons of the past like Jackie Onassis, Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn. No, they're not the role models for Christian girls, but we never saw their navels or their bra straps.

I really do think that modesty is all about being female, and is natural. Else why would it be so prominent a subject among women of many different faiths, and many without any faith, and not just Christian women?