27 January 2008

Modest Fashion is For Everyone

Ascot decrees what not to wear at races

"Shoulder straps no thinner than an inch, no bare midriffs or mismatching trouser-suits and a decree from on-high that all women should cover their heads by wearing a "substantial fascinator [an ornate lace or feathered head covering]". Or a hat."

No - this is not the latest religious college banquet regulations. This is the worldly and world renowned "Royal Ascot" races held in the UK, in an "attempt by the authorities at Royal Ascot to bring back what many say is some much-needed class into one of the racing world's most iconic and fashionable dates."

"Much-needed class"? Girls have balked since before I was in junior camp about that "shoulder straps no thinner than an inch" rule. Little did they realize that even the worldly world sees that as part of being "un-classy". Read the whole article at the above link; here are a few clips:

"Each June the champagne tents, newspaper columns and letters pages fill with renewed mutterings about the increase of bare midriffs and overly visible cleavages on display." - A lady shouldn't be guilty of something that the fashion conscious material world mutters against, should she?

"The ultimate Ascot faux pas, the miniskirt, is now officially non grata and "considered unsuitable"." Hmmm - get that? The "ultimate ... faux pas, the miniskirt".

""What we're trying to do is make it much clearer to badge-holders what constitutes respectable daywear," said an Ascot spokesman, Nick Smith." - The word is "respectable". Our young ladies (and some who are older) balk at these kinds of guidelines, setting them up as some kind of "Talibanish regime", randomly enforced by parents and schools. If "respectable" people in the world understand what standards of dress are - and even go so far as to call them "classy" - then what in the world are our Sisters complaining about?

And finally, from a sports commentator: "My advice is that if you feel like you're dressed like an exhibitionist you probably are and maybe you should modify your attire."

And, /rant

21 January 2008

Light in a Grey World

Click here for link to an article about a new film: "Robin Garbose's musical, "A Light for Greytowers," adheres to Jewish law and upholds a life of modesty and self-discipline for women." (photo from JewishJournal.com) I am always encouraged by women who, though their faith in God may be different from what I believe to be True, stand firmer in their convictions than I ever have, even to the point of what many might think of as severe sacrifices.

My husband talks about his work in India, describing the very visible actions of Hindu and Muslim believers, as they go about very early morning and frequent daily prayers, and other numerous religious traditions. And I have trouble just getting out of bed in the morning.

I read articles (like this one in the Washington Post) about women who dress modestly, some who also cover their heads and/or hair in modesty and submission - and how they are looked down on, punished, laughed at, misjudged and scorned by people who can't understand why they dress modestly in the first place. Women - some of them young women - who other women of the West call silly, frumpy, foolish or simply old fashioned. Yet they take the punishment, the slander, and STILL dress according to their belief of what God expects of them. And I struggle to find what to wear on Sunday that "looks good". (photo from the USA Today article)

I know women who hold one Truth to be the only Truth who will not even look at a believer in anything else except to see heathen, infidels and idolaters. Well, I think they're all people, created in God's image, and I can't help but see them. Maybe they do believe in something false: their idea of God, or their interpretation of doctrine or teaching. But because there is a Truth which is True, their lives do reflect that True Faith, that True Love, that One Truth. I pray that we all keep our eyes open, and even if a sister or brother is in error in some way, we are able to see where they have some part of the Truth that we are missing. With me, that is most often the ability to stand firm in faith in the face of opposition, slander, violence and even - shudder - mocking derision.

You, Kind Reader and Weblog Poster, are a light in a grey world: a world where people see in black and white, and yet since the lines are different for everyone, it seems, everything goes grey and cloudy all around us. May you be able to see the black and white lines - may you keep searching for Truth. May you keep shining whatever little bit of Light that you think you have; you do not know who the Light reflecting in your own little candle may be warming.

16 January 2008


I found this simple definition from a children's review game on English and grammar:

"Antagonists are necessary. They give the protagonist an obstacle to overcome."

This essay is attributed to Paul Harvey, as it has circled the Internet for some time now. But, Paul Harvey did not write it. The true author, Lee Pitts, published the nostalgic essay in 2000 in the book "Chicken Soup for the Golden Soul." Paul Harvey does use material written by Lee Pitts from time to time, and he did read this particular essay (crediting Pitts, of course) during his September 6, 1997 broadcast.

These Things I Wish For You
-- By Lee Pitts

We tried so hard to make things better for our kids that we made them worse.

For my grandchildren, I'd like better. I'd really like for them to know about hand me down clothes and homemade ice cream and leftover meat loaf sandwiches. I really would.

I hope you learn humility by being humiliated, and that you learn honesty by being cheated. I hope you learn to make your own bed and mow the lawn and wash the car. And I really hope nobody gives you a brand new car when you are sixteen. It will be good if at least one time you can see puppies born and your old dog put to sleep.

I hope you get a black eye fighting for something you believe in. I hope you have to share a bedroom with your younger brother. And it's all right if you have to draw a line down the middle of the room, but when he wants to crawl under the covers with you because he's scared, I hope you let him. When you want to see a movie and your little brother wants to tag along, I hope you'll let him.

I hope you have to walk uphill to school with your friends and that you live in a town where you can do it safely. On rainy days, when you have to catch a ride, I hope you don't ask your driver to drop you two blocks away so you won't be seen riding with someone as uncool as your Mom.

If you want a slingshot, I hope your Dad teaches you how to make one instead of buying one. I hope you learn to dig in the dirt and read books. When you learn to use computers, I hope you also learn to add and subtract in your head.

I hope you get teased by your friends when you have your first crush on a girl, and when you talk back to your mother that you learn what ivory soap tastes like.

May you skin your knee climbing a mountain, burn your hand on a stove and stick your tongue on a frozen flagpole. I don't care if you try a beer once, but I hope you don't like it. And if a friend offers you dope or a joint, I hope you realize he is not your friend.

I sure hope you make time to sit on a porch with your Grandpa and go fishing with your Uncle. May you feel sorrow at a funeral and joy during the holidays. I hope your mother punishes you when you throw a baseball through your neighbor's window and that she hugs you and kisses you at Christmas time when you give her a plaster mold of your hand.

These things I wish for you - tough times and disappointment, hard work and happiness. To me, it's the only way to appreciate life.

See more from Lee Pitts at WVMCattle.com

"For our light affliction,

which is but for a moment,
is working for us a far more exceeding
and eternal weight of glory,"

"Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him"

Don't we get it yet?

"So He humbled you,
allowed you to hunger,
and fed you with manna which you did not know,
nor did your fathers know,

that He might make you know

that man shall not live by bread alone;
but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord"

God really is good. Funny how humbleness is really a golden thing to strive for; the more I know it, the more I am glad of it. I wish I knew it more. They say that it's only when you're hands are empty that they can be filled. And God does promise good things. Things that I can't even begin to imagine.

You remember that letter that goes around in the emails sometimes, about what a Grandfather wishes for his Grandkids. I posted it above. He wishes them hard work, broken hearts and all these things that make you think at first he's got to be joking. But he just wants them to be strong, patient, wise. I'm starting to get it. Fifteen years of marriage, four children and almost 40 years of living, and I'm starting to get it.

I never did say or think that old fashioned ladies had it easy. But it is a good thing to be. Strong, patient, wise, old-fashioned. All this and a lady too.

Trying to pass on what I can as I go.

11 January 2008

The Prayer, a video

I pray you’ll be our eyes
And watch us where we go
And help us to be wise
In times when we don’t know

Let this be our prayer
As we go our way
Lead us to a place
Guide us with your grace
To a place where we’ll be safe
La luce che to dai

I pray we’ll find your light
Nel cuore restero
And hold it in our hearts
A ricordarchi che
When stars go out each night
L’eterna stella sei
Nella mia preghiera
Let this be our prayer
Quanta fede c’e
When shadows fill our day
Lead us to a place
Guide us with your grace

Give us faith so we’ll be safe.
Sognamo un mondo senza piu violenza

Un mondo di giustizia e di speranza
Ognuno dia la mano al suo vicino
Simbolo di pace e di fraternita

La forza che ci dai
We ask that life be kind
E’il desiderio che
And watch us from above
Ognuno trovi amore
We hope each soul will find
Intorno e dentro a se
Another soul to love

Let this be our prayer
Let this be our prayer
Just like every child
Just like every child

Needs to find a place,
Guide us with your grace
Give us faith so we’ll be safe
E la fede che
Hai acceso in noi
Sento che ci salvera

09 January 2008

You Are Not Alone

I have been very encouraged since I got more involved in reading and researching online. I have found that I am, after all, not the last modest, old-fashioned lady-wannabe in the world. There are thousands of us - and these are just the ladies on line! I have found ladies of all sorts who want to dress more modestly, but feel that they are alone in their region, city, church, temple, mosque, click, school, workplace... . I have found ladies of all sorts in all these places who desire - intelligently - to cover their heads, to be at home and rear up their own children, to submit joyfully to a spiritually minded man. It makes me more and more sure that there really is a one-substantial Truth to the old fashioned values of home, family, femininity, motherhood, purity and spirituality. Some of us don't get it all the way. Some of us were reared up in a culture or home or tradition that excluded our ability to find the whole Truth, but we stayed faithful to that Truth that we were seeking. Some of the ladies I've found online and in books had to really leave their father and mother, their homeland, the religious background which they grew up adhering to. But did not leave their searching - and finding - of Truth.

Now this is a very deep and thoughtful entry to a post which will include some video clips of a television situation comedy. A Canadian comedy, too, if that makes any difference to you. I was really interested in seeing how the show was handled since I heard that it came out last year, and now that the first season is available on DVD, we've checked it out at the library. I am seeing so many similarities to situations that could be anywhere, anytime - just substitute certain words, phrases and styles of dress, and you really do have just another family sit-com. I'm actually proud of the Islamic lady who decided to do this: in one episode the young lady doctor (who is orthodox and liberal at the same time) is confronted with - not a push into premarital sex, but merely - a date! She dresses modestly. She has problems with her open-minded Mother. (seen in the first clip here) All have to deal with preconceived notions, both their own and from others. Using humor to get to know one another better is not a new idea. I really do like the idea of this TV show (if I had to choose between this and Seinfeld or the Simpsons, or Malcolm in the Middle, this one would win for me, though we actually don't watch TV - remember, this is us checking the DVD from the library).

I suppose in a way, I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I like the show. So I'm not recommending it - it would be like recommending that you watch TV, and I can't really do that. But if you must watch something, check out these little clips of CBC's "Little Mosque on the Prairie", and know that it's the same all over.

Mothers and Daughters on Headcovering and Dating - don't let this happen to you!

Father and Daughters on Modesty - really don't let this happen to you!

01 January 2008

Skirts, Long Hair, and Other Feminine Things

I recently received a letter, after I had posted the entries about my wearing skirts, and the things I like about them. I wanted to share the thoughts here, anonymously, to let you know that I am still thinking about these things, old fashioned though they may seem, and it still looks to me like I am not the only lady who considers these things. I would like to hear any other thoughts on these things, if you would like to share.

My name is ____ and I am a 43 year old mother of 3 boys ages 20, 17, and 11. I have been married to my husband for 22 years. And believe it or not just in the last year or so I have been feeling convicted about modesty and being a lady not that I was doing that bad before but I am confused I sometimes want to wear a pair of jeans but I am constantly aware not to dress in a way that could lead someone else astray. My oldest son goes to a church that really emphasizes dress as being very important. The rest of us go to a church where dress is not really an issue. I believe God will accept you any way you are but I still feel that I should be dressing in long skirts which I love and I have short hair and I am trying to let it grow out. I know that this won’t make me a better Christian but I feel that maybe it is what we as women are meant to do. What are your thoughts?

My answer:

I'm sorry I took so long to get back to you. I am an almost 40 year old mother of 4 - 2 boys and 2 girls, all under 12, and I've not had as many years with my husband as you have either; we celebrate 15 this January. But I've also only been really convicted of modest dress and "being a lady" for the past few years, and things that I change in one way seem to affect other areas of my life. I think highly of any lady who has begun thinking about how her style of dress affects the men in her life, because I know it's not something that we as women understand about men's minds and eyes, and we really do have to move "out of our comfort zone" to think about and change our way of dressing.

I personally don't find anything wrong with a woman wearing pants, but as I said, over the years, modest dress, humility, the role of wife and mother and daughter of a King have all come together to make me not want to wear them as much. First, because so many women's styles of jeans are made to show off the shape underneath, and secondly because if it's not showing off my female figure, then it's either making me look like a man, or I can find things more comfortable that show that I'm a female (without showing off). I first switched to pants over jeans, because it looked nicer (more dressy, or feminine), and I still do wear them sometimes. **I have also written before about the Indian outfits, the salwar kameez, which are actually very feminine dressy pant suits, and I also wear these sometimes.**

I am not sure what to say about a church family that determines (or ignores) dress - but I will pass along to you what my daughter said: "we're going to be going before the King; of course we want to dress right". I suppose it is up to each person to determine what "right" is when dressing before the King of kings, but I think that it's more important than not at all, and yet not a matter of law, since this King has not mandated particular styles, other than to point out that we shouldn't be showing off or forgetting to show proper humility before him and one another.

I think God accepts what you have to offer, too, but remember that He sees the heart. I think it's important that each person be convinced in their own mind, as the writer Paul said concerning things that are not laws. If your heart and mind say to dress more femininely, grow your hair longer, be sure that you are not doing it *only* because you feel that it is your duty, but because it is your desire. For me, the more my desire grew, the more my understanding grew, and I begin to feel like what you wrote, that "maybe as women it is what we are meant to do." One of my thoughts about long hair, aside from the writer Paul calling woman's hair her "glory", is remembering that most little girls I have ever known, and most idealized pictures we have of women and princesses, shows long, flowing hair. It's not anything scientific, just an observation, that I think most of us find it more "beautiful" or "lovely". Flowing material, as in skirts, and esp. long skirts, is part of that too, I think. But, as you asked for my thoughts, that's all I can offer.

God did make men and women different. And we live in a culture where it's "politically incorrect" to make an observation like that. But I think it's pretty neat to consider on it, and even emphasize the difference. I think it makes our men be more like what they're meant to be (the "knight in shining armor," guarding, protecting, leading...), when we are less like them, and more like we're meant to be. Not that we are not strong! But in a very different way.

I hope that makes some sense. I'll post this to my blog too and see if there is any response. My blog isn't extremely popular, I know, but I try to at least show that if there's anyone else out there like me, we're not alone in our journey back to being what we were meant to be - Ladies. :)

Thank you for writing. It`s helped me to think it through some more, and I hope helped you too.

Go with God

Illustration above: Windswept, 1902, by John William Waterhouse

See also:

Read one man`s opinion of God-fearing women in pants here.

Read a blog entry and long discussion of Hair and Worship, at Faith and Gender.

Read an account of one lady`s decision to wear long skirts and long hair here.