Pray for the persecuted church

As President of our local church’s Missions Council, one of the things that I do is present a short Missions Moment during the worship service every Sunday morning. These 3 or 4 minute messages are meant to give our congregation a global perspective and a feeling of connection to what’s happening on the mission field around the world. Though the response to these messages is always positive, one occasionally resonates particularly strongly with my listeners. This morning’s message was one of those and so I decided that perhaps I should share it more widely.

This seems especially timely considering the fact that as we joined Christians around the world in praying for the persecuted church this morning, 27 of our brothers and sisters lost their lives and more than two dozen others were injured in a horrific church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

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November 5 and 12 have been set aside as International Days of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.

At least 200 million Christians worldwide are being persecuted for their faith. Christian persecution is any hostility experienced as a result of one’s identification as a Christian. From verbal harassment to hostile feelings, attitudes and actions, Christians in areas with severe religious restrictions pay a heavy price for their faith. Beatings, physical torture, confinement, isolation, rape, severe punishment, imprisonment, slavery, discrimination in education and employment, and even death are just a few examples of the persecution they experience on a daily basis.

Every month an average of 322 Christians are killed for their faith and 214 churches and Christian properties are destroyed.

The number one thing that persecuted Christians ask for is prayer.

The Bible calls us to be a voice for the voiceless. Psalm 82:3-4 says, “Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”

As Christians, we are called to take a stand for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ. Hebrews 13:3 says, “Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.”

Praying for Christians who are being persecuted for their faith may be the easy part of what I’m asking of you today. I also want to suggest that we pray for the perpetrators; the ones who are doing the persecuting. The Bible tells us to pray for our enemies. They need to experience the unconditional love of Jesus every bit as much as we do. Remember that the apostle Paul was once the greatest persecutor of Christians. He was on his way to bring violence against believers when Jesus showed up on the Damascus Road. God used this man, known for his hatred of Christians, in mighty ways to spread His gospel and plant His church. He can still do that today, so let’s pray and ask Him to radically show up in the lives and hearts of the persecutors. Pray against the evil but for those who commit it. Pray that they would come to know God and His forgiveness.

Throughout this week, let’s focus on praying for both those who are persecuted and those who persecute them. 

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For more information and resources pertaining to the persecuted church, visit https://www.opendoorsusa.org/.

 

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Favourite fashion quotes

LogoFor as long as I can remember, I’ve been a collector of words, jotting down quotations that appeal to me whenever I run across them. Most of my favourite fashion quotes were coined by people in the fashion industry, but the first one listed here was spoken by a Greek philosopher in the 1st century AD. It still rings true today.

“Know first who you are, and then adorn yourself accordingly.”  Epictetus

The others are more current.

“To me, clothing is a form of self-expression – there are hints about who you are in what you wear.”  Marc Jacobs

“Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak.”  Rachel Zoe

“Don’t be into trends. Don’t make fashion own you, but you decide what you are, what you want to express by the way you dress and the way you live.”  Gianni Versace

“Fashion is not necessarily about labels. It’s not about brands. It’s about something else that comes from within you.”  Ralph Lauren

“To me, style is all about expressing your individuality freely and courageously.”   Timothy John Byford

“Real style is never right or wrong. It’s a matter of being yourself on purpose.”  G. Bruce Boyer

As I read through these, I realize that they’re all saying the same thing. I like them because they express my philosophy of style. What we wear is, or should be, an expression of who we are and shouldn’t be dictated by the current trends, the world of advertising, or by what everyone else around us is wearing.

My cabi stylist, Linda Kreamer, once put it this way, “Fashion is fashion, but style is your own.” (I’m sure she didn’t realize that I grabbed my notebook and pen and jotted that down when she said it!)

Our style is what makes us unique. While it’s great to take inspiration from what others are wearing, we each need to put our own stamp on a look. I’ve shared where some of my fashion inspiration comes from here.

There is no one more unique in the fashion world than Iris Apfel. I have a whole collection of quotes just from her, but this one fits well with today’s message.

“When you don’t dress like everybody else, you don’t have to think like everybody else.”  Iris Apfel

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Iris Apfel

Another of my favourite fashion quotes comes from a fictional character.

“You’re never fully dressed without a smile.”  Little Orphan Annie

And then, just for laughs, I can’t resist ending with these two somewhat irreverent fashion quotations.

“Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.”  Mark Twain

“Girls do not dress for boys. They dress for themselves and, of course, each other. If girls dressed for boys they’d just walk around naked at all times.”  Betsy Johnson

 

I want to be a love letter!

“You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.”

During my devotions one morning last week, this passage, written by the apostle Paul to the early church at Corinth (2 Corinthians 3:2-3), stood out to me as never before. In fact, it practically jumped off the page and I’ve been pondering it ever since.

What does it mean to be a letter from Christ, known and read by everyone? Am I such a letter and, if so, what does that letter say to those who read it?

I want to be a love letter from Christ! 

Writing letters is rapidly becoming a dying art, but imagine days gone by when handwritten letters carried words of love to distant sweethearts. People took time to put pen to paper and pour out their thoughts. Letters were treasured, read time and again, tied up in ribbons and kept for decades. Why? Because they made the recipient feel cherished, valued, loved.

How can I be a love letter from Christ?

How can my life have that kind of impact? How can it demonstrate God’s love for those I encounter?

Colossians 3:12 comes to mind. It’s been my theme verse for the past few years.

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”

Perhaps those characteristics are the ink with which to write my life, my love letter from Christ. Compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

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Luscious lips

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LogoDid you know that lip colour fades with age? I didn’t either.

I was in my teens when I first tried wearing lipstick and I hated it. It felt waxy and it dried out my lips. That was when I decided that I really didn’t need it anyway as I was blessed with plenty of natural pigment in my lips. A bit of gloss was all that was needed to dress them up.

Not so anymore. I’ve started to notice that without lipstick, I often look a bit washed out. At first, I attributed it to the fact that my wardrobe is largely neutral in colour, but then I learned that as we mature, we experience natural loss of lip pigment. We also lose lip volume with age which accentuates the loss of colour.

So, lipstick it is, but how to choose from the myriad of options that are available?

Lipstick composition hasn’t changed much over the years, but I find that the moisturizing formula of Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick works well for me so I’m sticking to that brand. If you have trouble with lipstick drying out your lips, I’d recommend giving it a try.

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Once you find a brand that you’re comfortable with, there’s still the question of colour. So many choices! Here are a few tips that might help.

Choose colours that enhance your skin tone. If your skin has warm undertones, experiment with shades of coral, peach, copper, or bronze. If your skin has cool undertones, try mauve, mocha, cranberry, or wine colours.

Every woman can wear red, but we shouldn’t all wear the same red. As with clothing, especially anything worn close to your face, skin with warm undertones looks best with an orange-based red while skin with cool undertones looks better with a blue-based shade.

Unless you shop at a high end cosmetic counter that provides alcohol to clean the tester as well as sterile brushes or cotton swabs to apply the sample colours, you won’t want to apply the tester lipstick to your mouth. Rather than testing the lipstick on your wrist or the side of your hand, test it on the pads of your fingertips which are much closer to your lip colour.

For a subtle everyday look, choose a colour that’s just a bit darker or brighter than your natural lip colour. For dressier occasions, go for dramatic lips or eyes, but not both.

Don’t try to match your lip colour too closely to your clothing. For example, if you’re wearing a bright red dress, a lipstick in the same colour will be overwhelming. Perhaps try a darker shade.

Don’t forget that you can create your own lipstick colours by blending more than one. If one of my darker colours seems a bit too bold, I simply add a light coat of my more subtle everyday colour to tone it down a bit.

Most important of all, remember that these are just guidelines. Rules are meant to be broken. First and foremost, wear what makes you feel confident and happy and don’t forget, once you’ve coloured those lips, add a smile!

Please note: This is not a sponsored post.

What kind of purse do you carry?

When my husband and I were walking through the mall last week doing a bit of early Christmas shopping, I couldn’t help noticing how many women were wearing cross-body bags.

LogoDoes a woman wear her purse? If it’s a cross-body bag, I guess she does. That’s one of its main advantages. In addition to being a deterrent to purse thieves, a cross-body bag is a functional fashion accessory that offers easy access to its contents while allowing hands-free shopping. It definitely makes me wonder why I’ve never carried one!

Though there are many, many handbag styles, most of them would fall into one of four categories: cross-body, shoulder, satchel, or clutch.

Cross-body

Shoulder

Perfect for everyday use, a shoulder bag has a strap long enough to hang from your shoulder. Like a cross-body bag, it also leaves your hands free. Some shoulder bags have an adjustable strap so that it can be carried higher or lower on the body depending on your preference and height. Shoulder bags have always been my purse of choice.

Some shoulder bags, like the one shown here, have straps that are long enough to also be worn cross-body, making them very versatile. I actually have one of these in my purse collection. Perhaps on my next shopping trip, I’ll wear instead of carry!

Satchel

With one or two top handles short enough to be held in your hand or on the crook of your arm, satchels have a ladylike look, but I find them uncomfortable and impractical for shopping. Many come with a detachable shoulder strap which would help, but I would likely leave it on most of the time which would make the top handles redundant. I might as well buy a shoulder bag in the first place.

Clutch

Except for the occasional dressy evening out, I find a clutch, often with no handle at all and virtually no space to carry anything, the most impractical bag of all!

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What about you? What kind of purse do you prefer? Cross-body, shoulder, satchel, or clutch? Please leave a one word answer in the comments section, or if you prefer, explain your choice.

Plopping: Amazing curls in 6 easy steps!

LogoI hope you’re not tired of hearing about my hair yet because today I have good news for those of you who, like me, struggle with what to do with your naturally curly locks. Not long ago, I had reached a point of total frustration with my partially grown and extremely unruly hair. I was almost ready to call my hairdresser and have it cropped off again. That’s when I decided to try plopping, a technique that my daughter often uses on her much longer, but equally curly, hair. I was absolutely amazed with the results and it’s so easy!

When curly hair is wet, the curls are smooth and defined, but when it dries, those lovely curls lose their definition and often become a nasty pile of frizz. Definitely not the look we want! What we do between wet and dry makes all the difference in the world. Plopping helps curls keep their shape, even after they dry.

So what are those 6 easy steps?

Step 1:

Wet your hair and squeeze out any excess water.

Step 2: 

Apply product. This may include a leave-in conditioner as well as mousse, gel, or curl creme. I use a handful of Herbal Essence Tousle Me Softly mousse.

Step 3:

Lay a long-sleeved cotton t-shirt on a flat surface (chair, bathroom counter, bed) with the sleeves closest to you. Using a t-shirt instead of a terry cloth towel is key to successful plopping. Terry cloth absorbs too much moisture, which curly hair needs, and its harsh fibres promote frizz. If you prefer, you can purchase a special microfibre plopping towel, but one of the things that I like best about plopping is that it doesn’t require any costly implements. I simply found an older t-shirt in my closet that I wasn’t wearing often and set it aside for plopping.

Step 4:

Bend forward at the waist positioning all of your hair on top of your head and at the centre of the t-shirt.

Step 5:

Take the far edge (bottom hem) of the t-shirt and flip it up over your head so that it rests at the back of your neck. Tie the sleeves of the t-shirt behind your head. If they are long enough, you may want to wrap them around to the front and tie another knot to make your turban more secure. Tuck in any loose ends and leave for 15 to 20 minutes. The t-shirt will soak up moisture without creating frizz and will also absorb any excess product preventing hard, crunchy curls. Some women leave their hair covered longer; even overnight. Experiment to discover what works best for you.

Step 6:

Remove the t-shirt and let your hair air dry or blow-dry it with a diffuser. Do not touch the curls while they are wet.

It really is that easy! I don’t take great selfies, but here’s what my very first attempt at plopping looked like.

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While the curls relaxed a little through the day, this is what it looked like 8 or 9 hours later, ready to go out for dinner with my husband.

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I can’t begin to tell you how many compliments I’ve had since I started plopping!

For a simple tutorial complete with photos, click here.

Another photo challenge

I get very irritated by a lot of stuff that floats around the internet and lands on my Facebook page, especially the “pass it on” posts that are simply a newer version of the age old chain letter. Once in awhile, however, something more interesting comes along.

A couple of years ago, a friend and former student nominated me to take part in a Facebook nature photo challenge which I enjoyed very much. Over the past week, I participated in second photo challenge that was a little more difficult. The idea was to post one black and white photograph every day for seven days and to nominate one other person on each of those days to take up the challenge. The instructions were “Seven black and white photos that describe your life. No humans. No explanations.”

I found the “no humans” part of the exercise more challenging than I would have anticipated, especially given that the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend and my “Still alive at 65!” birthday party fell in the middle of it. People and relationships are really what life is all about! I was surrounded by friends and family, but I couldn’t include them in any of the photos.

I also discovered how much colour adds to my life. I rarely convert my photos to black and white. I found that some looked good while others completely lost their impact. For example, here are a couple of photos of the heavily laden Mountain Ash tree in our backyard.

Take away the vibrant green and the brilliant red of the berries and the photos are just plain drab. Needless to say, I didn’t use them in the Facebook photo challenge.

Here are the photos that I did use and since this isn’t part of the challenge, I can even add some explanation!

#1   I love this one… open Bible, laptop, a library book, a steaming cup of green tea, and sunshine streaming through the window. This is where I can typically be found in the morning.

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#2  I love the texture of the grass in this one taken during my last round of golf before the course closed for the season.    

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#3   I spend part of every day in the kitchen where there’s usually a bowl of fruit on the counter and often a fresh loaf of multigrain bread cooling.    

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#4   No, that’s not my house. That’s the view from our front window; the huge, unfinished house across the street. Construction started in the fall of 2008 and almost nothing has been done to it in the past five years or more. The inside is still completely unfinished and no one lives in it.  😦 

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#5   This is the view from our back door with the Mountain Ash on the left. Notice that you really can’t see the berries at all in a black and white photo.    

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#6   When my daughter saw this one, her comment was, “Yes! This is you!” I’m what’s known as an arctophile, a person who collects or is very fond of teddy bears. These are just a few of mine who spend every day sitting on our bed. I’ve had the biggest one since I worked in a toy department one Christmas season while I was a university student in the early 1970s.    

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#7   Travel is very much a part of our life, so this morning our suitcases were packed again!    

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All of these photos were taken with my easy to use Canon point and shoot camera.