Styling an old favourite

LogoI don’t wear dresses very often, but since our church reopened its doors in early July, I think I’ve worn a dress or a skirt every Sunday morning. I sometimes dress more casually for church, even wearing jeans on occasion, but since we haven’t been going very many places in recent months, it’s been nice to have a reason to dress up once a week. 

Fall has definitely descended on us here on the Canadian prairie and it was quite chilly this past Sunday morning. When I went to my closet to choose something to wear, I realized that almost all my dresses are better suited to the warm summer months. Then I spotted something in the back of the closet that I’d totally forgotten about.

I have no idea how long I’ve had the long, faux suede, sleeveless shirt dress, but it’s probably been in my closet for 20 years or more. It’s one of those pieces that I never got rid of simply because I’ve always loved it. It actually appeared on the blog almost exactly eight years ago, three and a half years before I started my weekly fashion feature! Here’s how I styled it then. The olive colour, very much on-trend this fall, is actually truer in this photo than in the ones we took on Sunday.  

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So, back to Sunday morning. I looked at this old favourite and wondered how I could style it for a chilly fall morning. Clearly, I would need to wear it over something with sleeves. I pulled out the Garden Blouse from the cabi Fall 2018 Collection which you saw earlier this year on this post and decided that it worked. Though the dress has a matching belt, I thought it looked better unbelted. 

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As I mentioned, it was a chilly morning and though you can’t tell from the photos, the wind was blowing. We snapped a few very quick pictures and headed back indoors! 

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Covid-19 continues to keep me out of the stores and shopping my own closet, but I do think I need to add some warmer dresses to my fashion wish list for the day when I’m finally able to go shopping again! In the meantime, I’m going to be looking for some more ways to style this old favourite with pieces that I already have. 

Why is it so hard?

As I’ve seen the news about pastors, like Rev. Tony Spell in Louisiana, who are insisting on their “right” to hold Easter services in spite of the Covid-19 pandemic, I have to ask why is it so hard to obey stay-at-home orders that have been put in place to protect the lives of the vulnerable; the very people that churches profess to care about? Why is it so hard?

I fully understand people wanting to be with family and to take part in their traditional Easter celebrations. I’d love to be with my kids and grandkids too, but I’ve been pondering why we do what we do and why we think we need to. Nowhere in scripture are we commanded to gather together for Easter (other than the instruction not to give up meeting together in Hebrews 10:25 which, thankfully, we’re able to do virtually) or given any instructions about how to celebrate the resurrection. These are manmade traditions. Perhaps a quiet, at home Easter without all those extras is not a bad thing. Perhaps it’s a time for us to reflect in a more intentional way on the real meaning of the event which is not bunnies, eggs, and chocolate. It isn’t even necessarily going to church!

I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with the ways we usually celebrate Easter, but just this once, it’s okay to do things differently. In fact, we need to do things differently! As the church, we need to be obedient to the Word of God which tells us in several places to obey those in positions of authority over us. Romans 13:1 tells us, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” Regardless of what people like Rev. Spell proclaim, we are called to obey those who put the current social distancing regulations in place! Why is that so hard?

I’m reminded of the two Easters that we spent in non Christian countries. In Japan, we did attend a Christian church and celebrated Easter there, but outside the walls of the church, there was no recognition of Easter at all. In China, where we weren’t part of any Christian organization, I’ll always remember that we went out for dinner with a couple of our college students on Easter Sunday and ate roast duck and bullfrog! Not frog’s legs, the whole frog! It was delicious, but I digress! At the end of that day, I wrote this and I think it applies as well to our current situation as it did then.

“Easter isn’t really about what we eat or who we spend the day with. Whether we’re with family around a table laden with ham and all the trimmings or in a shopping mall in China eating bullfrog, as Christians, Easter is at the centre of who we are and what we believe.”

 

Too busy for fashion!

LogoI haven’t had much time to think about fashion this week. In fact, I wore the same bright blue t-shirt every morning. It identified me as one of the volunteer staff at Vacation Bible School at our church. Every morning I’ve taken kids from kindergarten to grade 6 on Wild Bible Adventures, telling them the Old Testament Exodus story and teaching them about God’s goodness through interactive, experiential storytelling. I made 24 pounds of playdoh. I created the Red Sea and the Jordan River with sheets of blue plastic and other bits and pieces. I converted the kitchen door into the entrance to Pharoah’s palace and one of the church teens into Pharoah. I scrunched up bits of paper until my hands hurt making hail for the kids to throw at Pharoah. You can bet that they loved that part! It’s been fun and it’s been tiring and it reminded me that even after twelve years of retirement I still love teaching!

Yesterday was a particularly long day. Richard and I snuck out of VBS a bit early and drove two hours to the city to meet with my doctor and discuss possible options for dealing with Cancer #3. Once again, Dr W assured me that papillary thyroid cancer is usually slow-growing and non aggressive. After using ultrasound to determine that mine has not changed noticeably since he last looked at it three months ago, he suggested that simply monitoring it might be the best direction to go. I love the fact that he sees me as a whole person though and that he wanted me to have a part in the decision making process. He was perfectly willing to go ahead and schedule surgery if living with another, different cancerous growth was going to freak me out too much. Since I assured him that it wasn’t and that I trust his judgement, we’ve decided to leave it for the time being and look at it again in three months.

After running a few other errands in the city and stopping for supper on the way home, we were back at the church later in the evening setting up for our final day of VBS today.

So, since I really haven’t had time to write a proper fashion post this week, I’ll simply leave you with a thought provoking quote from French fashion designer, Coco Chanel, who passed away in 1971 at the age of 87, and next week I’ll do my best to get back to writing something more substantial!

Coco Chanel quote

Do you agree? I’d love to know what you think.

We aren’t what we wear

logoI recently had an interesting conversation with two young women that I tutor. Members of the Old Colony Mennonites who have been relocating to Canada from Mexico in recent years, they wear traditional dresses and kerchiefs. I’ve been teaching them to read, a skill they didn’t have the opportunity to learn as children. One of their many reasons for wanting to learn to read  is so that they can read the Bible, so we’ve been using a children’s Bible story book as one of our texts.

“Do we have different Bibles or do we just understand it differently?” M asked me after one of our recent sessions. “Our Bible says that we should wear dresses and cover our heads,” she continued. She was clearly referring to the fact that I don’t dress that way.

So what does the Bible actually say?

“A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the Lord your God detests anyone who does this.” Deuteronomy 22:5

We talked about what that might mean and M was quick to point out that though we might both wear blue jeans, her husband would never wear a top like I was wearing. No one would confuse me with a man because of the way I was dressed!

There was a time, not too long ago, when regardless of what they wore during the week, everyone dressed up to go to church on Sunday morning. Heaven forbid that a woman should wear pants or a man show up without shirt and tie! Thankfully, for many of us, that has changed.

Several years ago, before it became commonplace, I made the very intentional decision to begin wearing blue jeans to church. I don’t wear them every Sunday, but I do make a habit of wearing them quite often.

Why?

There were several young families in our church at the time who were struggling to get their teens to come to church on Sunday mornings. One of the issues of contention was what they wore. The kids rebelled at the idea of having to dress up. It always boggled my mind that anyone would consider one fabric (blue denim) less holy than another and rebel that I am, I felt that if I, sometimes considered a leader in the church, wore jeans, the younger parents might feel more comfortable allowing their kids to do the same.

Who knows? Maybe someday my young Mennonite friends might feel comfortable dressing more casually too. In the meantime, they wear their dresses and I wear my jeans and we have a wonderful time together! After all,

“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

Kids helping kids

We went on our second Mission to MARS this week!

That’s right! Two years ago, on the island of Saipan, we directed a Vacation Bible School program with an outer space theme. This week, we brought the same program, Mission to MARS (Meet A Risen Savior), to our own local church. Every morning approximately 30 excited children between the ages of 5 and 12 gathered for games, crafts, songs and Bible stories.

One of the verses that they learned was 1 Chronicles 16:29 which speaks of bringing an offering. With this in mind, we wanted to incorporate a Missions project that the children could identify with and contribute to throughout the week.

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The escalating civil war in Syria has left an increasing number of families in chaos. According to the United Nations, an estimated two million refugees have fled into Lebanon, Jordan, and surrounding countries while more than four million people have been displaced within the country itself.  Schools across Syria are closing as children and families flee dangerous areas, and the public schools in Lebanon and Jordan are overcrowded. They simply can’t continue to absorb the number of refugee children who are flowing in. Many Syrian children have already lost a year of school due to violence and transition.

The Church of the Nazarene runs four schools in Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. These schools are in neighborhoods where Syrian refugees and internally displaced people are struggling to survive but they can’t operate without funding. Many displaced, traumatized families have little or no income and are unable to pay school fees.

With the beginning of a new school year just around the corner, this was an issue that our VBS kids were easily able to identify with and they amazed us with their compassion and generosity.

  • $400 will enroll a Syrian child in a Nazarene school for an entire year
  • $100 will provide books and clothes for the school year
  • $45 will support a child’s school fees for one month

My faith was small. When I made up the poster shown below, I set $100 as our goal for the week but with the help of the church’s mission committee who agreed to match the children’s offerings dollar for dollar, we surpassed that amount on Wednesday! I was going to add another column to the poster that evening but one of our older girls suggested that I’d better make that two. Even that wasn’t enough! After taking this morning’s offering and adding in the matching amount from the missions account (shown in teal on the poster), we had raised $335.10!

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In a country where we take so much for granted and where most children will soon go off to school wearing brand new clothes and carrying backpacks stuffed with shiny new supplies, it was gratifying to spend the week with kids whose hearts were touched by the plight of boys and girls in a faraway land whose lives have been uprooted by the tragedy of war.