Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Courtship Novels ~ A Regal Reading List

Courtship by Edmund Blair Leighton

Courtship is a mystery word to many. What does it mean in today's society? Is there an actual method in this approach to finding a spouse? What is the purpose? I was delighted to have found a set of four courtship stories which are based on fictional characters but with biblical facts. These books are in novel form and offer an interesting look at what courtship may look like in this day and age. Whether or not you are committed to this concept, there is much to be gleaned from these practical and wholesome books.

This series is written by a conservative, Christian family and I really appreciated a peek into their thoughts on courtship. These would be a really wholesome and God-honoring read for mothers and maidens that bring some very godly concepts into light (whether or not you decide courtship is for you). Many of their writings have really challenged me in my role as a wife. There is much detailed and down to earth information in these books which gives the reader much to contemplate. I would recommend these little gems for girls 16 years and up but suggest mothers read them first for content.

Some in-depth discussion with practical examples of the following topics:
  • How does courtship work?
  • What is the purpose of courtship?
  • What to look for in a husband according to Scripture.
  • What to look for in a wife according to Scripture.
  • How to prepare yourself for being a wife one day.
  • Reasons for courtship verses dating.
  • What young girls can work on in their lives as they wait for future spouses.
  • Struggles and battles for older girls who are still in waiting for a spouse.
  • The role of parents in courtship.

The titles in the series are:
  • The Courtship of Sarah McLean by Mr. & Mrs. Stephen B. Castleberry
    • "Sarah McLean is a nineteen year-old girl who longs to become a wife and mother. The book chronicles a period of two years, in which she has to learn to trust her parents and God fully in their decisions for her future."
  • Jeff McLean: His Courtship by Mr. & Mrs. Stephen B. Castleberry 
    • "Follow the story of Jeff McLean as he seeks God's direction for his life. This book is written from a young man's perspective. A discussion of godly traits to seek in young men and women is included as part of the story."
  • Journey of the Heart by Ms. Jeannie Castleberry
    • "Written by the author's 23-year-old daughter, Jeannie, Journey of the Heart is the long-awaited story of Janet McLean. Janet, now twenty-two years old, has matured and grown in the Lord. She has many longings, struggles, and questions that she must face with the help of the Lord and her parents. Will anyone ever want to court her? How should she handle her desires for a husband and family of her own? When she finds herself attracted to a young man, what should she do? This is an account of a young woman who is still waiting on the Lord."
  • Waiting for Her Isaac by Mr. & Mrs. Stephen B. Castleberry
    • "Sixteen year-old Beth Grant is quite happy with her life and has no desire for any changes. But God has many lessons in store before she is ready for courtship. The story of Beth's spiritual journey toward godly womanhood is told along with the story of her courtship."

From the Publisher: 

"These books are written to encourage those who intend to follow a Biblically-based courtship that includes the active involvement of parents. The main characters are committed followers of Jesus Christ, and Christian family values are emphasized throughout. The reader will be encouraged to heed parental advice and to live in obedience to the Lord."

For the record, I am NOT affiliated with this company in any way but thought these books were worth sharing with my readers.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Benefits of Mothers and Daughters Reading Together

La Lecture by Berthe Morisot

"My son, hear the instruction of your father,
And do not forsake the law of your mother;
For they will be a graceful ornament on your head,
And chains about your neck."

~ Proverbs 1:8-9

Proverbs 1:8 in the NIV phrases it, "Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching."

As mothers, we feel like we are always teaching, preaching and lecturing (and rightly so!) which is why I wanted to share a peaceful approach to instilling values into your children. What I have found to be very beneficial, is saving some of my "little sermons" for our special reading time together.  For once you enter that world of literature, much instruction from mother can take place in a natural and non-invasive way. The bonus is all those wonderful memories being shared together with wonderful books which also imparts a broader knowledge of vocabulary, history and human nature.

Radient Morning by Lisa Auger
I am not merely speaking of daughters who can not read but more specifically, those that do. Older daughters have a lot of physical, emotional and spiritual needs which reading time with mother can help to nurture.  Reading a variety of literature, inspirational and instructional books help to place experiences and ideas in front of them prior to them experiencing them in the "real world". This is so helpful because we can not follow our children or grown daughters around all their life (though some may want to!). They are eventually going to be unleashed and alone in this wicked world. We may wonder if we taught them enough? Are they prepared for what is ahead or what situations may lie in their paths? This is where the beautiful bonding of reading together comes in!

Through the pages of noble books, we are placing thousands of different scenarios in front of our dear daughter's and, we are available at that moment to offer gentle instruction in a "should this happen to you, sort of way". We are placing a scene detailing the importance of honesty, purity, mercy or perhaps even safety before them! We are watching a character from a book being introduced into a potentially harmful situation. Or, perhaps the girl in the novel is facing a spiritual dilemma. Now, at that point, we can discuss the appropriate way to handle the obstacles that are placed before the main character in the book. What does Scripture teach about this certain situation?  This would be applicable for all ages and reading, whether it be picture books, chapter books, classics or instructional books. We have the perfect opportunity to share the wisdom of God to our children through carefully chosen literature.

Reading by James Shannon

For example, in the book, Dear Princess: A Book for Girls by Mary M. Landis, the author places some girls in a situation where they are alone, walking on a country road when a car of strange boys drive by and start to interact with them. There are many safety lessons at that point that can be discussed with your daughters. What would they have done in a similar situation? What would you suggest is a good approach to their predicament? You are able to place the seed of safety into your young maiden's heart prior to experiencing something on her own. She is that much more prepared and wise for the outside world.

When reading Beautiful Girlhood by Mabel Hale, the "Dreams" chapter beckons us to ask our daughter's to share their dreams. Have they changed since she last spoke of them?  Are they godly goals? If so, what preparations can be made in order to facilitate them? If they are lacking in noble direction, your motherly instruction described in Proverbs would be in order.

Another example would be, when reading something as pleasurable as Anne of Green Gables together, we can stop at the chapter when Anne loses her temper and hits Gilbert over the head with her slate. We can ask our daughter casually, "what would you have done?" We can talk together about a more "fitting" way to have handled that test of patience and we can laugh about how we may have wanted to handle it like Anne!

A Story Read by James Tissot
Reading together gives you the opportunity to see how your daughters react to certain circumstances. It is the perfect time to talk about situations hypothetically instead of waiting for something to happen in "real life" when you may not be available to help her. Discuss different scenarios with her so that if she ever experiences it in "real life" she has your loving insight to fall back on should the need ever arise…

Here are some Biblical minded books which will help to build a bond between you both when reading and reflecting on the words together. 
Don't forget that a cup of tea always nurtures a cozy and peaceful atmosphere together.

"My son, keep your father’s command,
And do not forsake the law of your mother.
Bind them continually upon your heart;
Tie them around your neck.
When you roam, they will lead you;
When you sleep, they will keep you;
And when you awake, they will speak with you."
~ Proverbs 6:20 - 22

Dear mothers and maidens, this message of teaching is written TWICE in Proverbs which only stresses the importance of passing knowledge down to your children. What better way than by your example, the influence of good and proper books and the Scriptures to guide you through life's lessons. It prompts the question in your child's mind, "What would Jesus do?" and by God's grace and your diligent instruction, the Holy Spirit will strengthen them to do it!

Mother and Daughter by George Goodwin Kilburne

It is also worthy to mention that the same concept applies to your young men as well in order to develop the character of a true, godly, courageous gentleman who will one day lead a home of his own in honor to God, and be a future husband to a godly maiden.

Linked up with the following:

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Old Woman Reading a Lectionary

Old Woman Reading a Lectionary by Gerrit Dou

Here is another painting from the Dutch artist, Gerrit Dou. Did you know that he was a student of Rembrandt? Here he has painted an elderly woman reading a lectionary. I love the fact that this woman has continued on her path of love for the Savior and is still striving to grow in knowledge and understanding! We will never "know everything" and be able to say "I am done learning"… about the Lord and His magnificent creation.

Questions for mothers and maidens:
  • What is a lectionary?

Gerrit Dou was also the painter of these two pictures which we have already viewed:

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

An Inspirational Recipe Book ~ Free Printables

Would you like to create an "Inspirational Recipe Book"?

Scroll down to view the reason for the "inspiration"...

A set of free printables are available below should you like to try this.

The cover page is shown above and is included in the collection.

 However, you can modify it and make it your very own.

A special thank you is given to the The Graphics Fairy for 
many of the pictures are gleaned from her site.

There is a spine insert on the second page of the printables so

that you know what contents are inside when resting on the shelf.

Just cut to appropriate width and insert into spine of binder.

I place the recipes along with the subject dividers inside plastic page protectors

so that the recipes can be wiped after in case you have specks of flour,

pasta sauce, etc., which tend to splatter on your pages.

Of course, you can add any other categories you think useful.

I have included main dishes, side dishes, salads, appetizers, breakfast, yeast dough/breads,

desserts and food preservation in my free printables.

The stick on tabs make it easier to find a recipe.

Just attach them to the proper category page.

I also included a back cover page to insert inside your binder for

extra decoration and divine inspiration.

Running a household with purpose and skill requires planning and organization. One of the main tasks of the keeper at home is meal making.  In order to make this an easy operation in your future home life or current household, it helps to have a storage of supplies. In this case, a selection of tried and true recipes along with some inspiration. I used food and hospitality inspired Scripture (hence the name "Inspirational Recipe Book") to personalize my collection into a binder which is a great reminder that when we prepare a meal for our loved ones, the fellowship around that table should be in remembrance of our Lord.

And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you;
do this in remembrance of Me.”
 ~ Luke 22:19

Dear maidens, now is the perfect time to glean all those good recipes that have been useful in your current household and prepare it for your own home one day. This will be a priceless treasure to possess in your future home.

Dear mothers, you may want to create such a book for yourselves or start now with your younger daughters. Every time they learn a new recipe, add it into the book and they will have a repertoire to use for dinner making practice.

Print out your favorite recipes, place them inside plastic page protectors, attach subject tabs to title pages provided and place them in a three ring binder, filed in the proper categories.

List of recommended supplies:

Simply download and print. Please let me know if you have any problems printing.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Remembering Ribbons: The Biblical Blue Ribbon

This story of ribbons actually starts where all good stories start,
in the Scriptures, in the beginning…

The birth in the Bible of the "ribband" is introduced in the
fourth book of the sacred writings in "Numbers".

Once upon a time,
God chose a people to serve Him and said to the leader, Moses:

"Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue
And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the LORD, and do them ; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring: 
That ye may remember, and do all my commandments, and be holy unto your God."
~ Numbers 15:38-40
57648X: Redeemed Crown Necklace
Redeemed Crown Necklace

How beautiful!

We read that the blue ribbon in the Bible is a tool

for remembering God's commandments!

We notice that one of the earlier spellings of the modern day word "ribbon" is "ribband". Though the style of "ribband" spoken of in Scripture is not the ribbon you will find in stores today, the concept is similar. “Rib-band” in Hebrew is “pathiyl” which means twine; bound lace; line; and/or thread.

Many Jewish people still honor these verses by wearing the "tallit", the fringed prayer shawl. The blue stripes in the flag of Israel are also said to symbolize the "blue ribbon" spoken of in Numbers 15:38-40.

Healing in His Wings by Marybeth Stafford (Source)

It is interesting to note that some have suggested that the woman with the issue of blood who touched the hem of the garment of Jesus, in order to be healed, actually made contact with His prayer shawl featuring the "blue ribband" (though there is no proof of this but it is something to ponder, see depiction above in painting).

"When she heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment.  For she said, “If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well.” 
Immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of the affliction. And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that power had gone out of Him, turned around in the crowd and said,“Who touched My clothes?” 
But His disciples said to Him, “You see the multitude thronging You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’” 
And He looked around to see her who had done this thing.  But the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction.” 
~ Mark 5:27-34

Dear reader, perhaps you will consider the blue ribbon in a biblical light and
as your own personal reminder of Christ's law of love, for God and His people...

"That ye may remember, 
and do all my commandments,
and be holy unto your God."

~ Numbers 15:40

Linked up to: Deep Roots at Home

Monday, March 5, 2012

Power of Prayer

"Why does the Scripture invite us so often to pray, and promise that we shall be heard, were it not that in all our evils and infirmities, we should betake ourselves to our heavenly physician? Why does David call Him the God of his strength, but because he had made him strong, as he will you also. But He wills that you pray to Him, and study his word, which is the food of the soul; for if the body loses its strength when deprived of food, how must that soul languish which is not nourished and sustained by the word of God?"

~ An excerpt from a letter from Olympia Morata to Madonna Cherubina Orsini

View Olympia Morata's amazing biography here.

Would you like to add these edifying words

Friday, March 2, 2012

Noah's Knowledgable Daughter-in-Laws

The Dove is Home with Us by Mary Jane Q Cross
Noah's daughter-in-laws have a special place in my heart as the unsung heroes of the Bible. What can we say about them that is actually written?

We can focus on this truth:

These maidens were godly or they would not have been spared from the flood...

God warned them of the trials that would be coming. They would be going inside an ark and beginning life anew! What do you think they did until that final and fatal moment? My guess is that they prepared diligently with their hands and prayed with all their hearts. They learned skills. They were virtuous women. They were of the lineage that could have inspired the Proverbs 31 woman!

They undoubtedly acquired knowledge in sewing, gardening, animal husbandry and food preservation. They must have been educated in the uses of herbs and plants (which they were probably quite proficient in as it was the only God-given food source at that time) for medicinal purposes. Let us not forget the art of making oil from olives, creating pottery for dishes and weaving for clothing.  These women must have been intelligent and skilled for didn't their very lives and loved ones depend upon it for survival?

Dear ladies, we must glean what we can from these godly women. Though little is said, much is known! Hard times were on the way and they were prepared. We are placed in a similar position. Is not Christ's coming closer each day? Are not the signs on the wall? Our future as His return comes closer, is actually likened unto the days of Noah:
"But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be." ~ Matthew 24:37-39
Jesus tells us that some intense moments will appear as His return draws closer:
"For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows." ~ Matthew 24:7-8 (The list goes on but I have shortened it for the sake of space.)
We are warned of the spiritual battle that will be taking place as well:
"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." ~ 2 Timothy 3:1-7
Are we prepared spiritually? Daily we hear of natural disasters, loss of jobs, sickness and immorality... Are we grounded in the Scriptures to stand strong when calamaties come and test our faith?  Fill your heart, soul and mind with His word. His truths will sustain you (John 8:31-32).

We are promised that it is not easy to follow Him (Luke 14:26-27). Ask Noah's daughter-in-laws if those days aboard the ark, mourning the loss of family members, with the waves crashing against them, pungent smell of animals twenty four hours a day and a lack of fresh earth under their feet was easy. When they landed, the hardships were not over, they had to begin civilization from scratch. These women were warriors of God!

In recent history, we can learn from the matriarchs who lived during the Great Depression. Many of the women were modern at this point in time, relying on the cities and stores to provide their needs. But, hard times came and they were able to put their tucked away skills to use. They planted victory gardens, preserved the bounty, brought small live-stock back into their decorative yards, fashioned clothing for their children out of feed sacks, they patched, scrimped, remade and repurposed.

We don't know what the future holds for any of us but the woman who is prayerful, prepared, skilled and works willingly with her hands, "has no fear for her household"… (Proverbs 31:21 NIV)

"She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come."
~ Proverbs 31:24 NIV

Dear reader, my purpose is not to scare you but to inspire you to embrace those lost arts and skills of the homemaker for we never know when they may prove useful in these uncertain times.

Will be linked up with the following:
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