How To Profit From Our Defects

from the Catholic Family Magazine, Australia

– Hello Father. Sorry for being so late but I had to wait for the babysitter to come so that I could leave the house. I am glad to be able to come tonight for our little talk.

– Well, the subject I want to talk to you about is one of the most important in the spiritual life. It is how we can and even should profit from our faults. I believe that a good understanding of this question is a tremendous help in order to maintain peace of soul and make progress in union with God.

– But, Father I thought that our faults were an obstacle on the way to perfection. What kind of profit can I draw from my weakness which causes me to fall everyday into so many sins of impatience? What sort of advantage can I obtain from my negligence which causes me to miss so many opportunities of little sacrifices?

Let me ask you one question: Have you made up your mind never to offend God deliberately? Are you sincerely seeking to obey His will in fulfilling your vocation of wife and mother?

If the answer is yes, then your faults should not be a source of sadness but an occasion to practice humility. St Theresa of the Child Jesus used to say: “I do not grieve in seeing that I am weakness itself. On the contrary, it is in this that I glory, and I expect each day to discover in myself new imperfections.”

She also wrote ” What does it matter to me to fall each moment? By that I feel my weakness and therein I find great profit.  My God, you see what I can do if You do not carry me in your arms!”

We have to realize that everything is either willed or permitted by God. In the designs of His providence, even our faults ought to serve for our sanctification. Alas, many good souls do not know how to cope with their defects. They are quickly discouraged at the sight of their misery, instead of making an act of humility.

St Paul says: “All things work together for the good of them that love God,” Yes, everything and St Augustine adds “even our sins”.

– I must admit, Father, that I often get frustrated at myself. I make good resolutions, and I cannot seem to be able to keep them! The other day I was pretty happy because I had found the time for a little bit of spiritual reading. I had also succeeded in remaining in the presence of God for most of the day.

And then in the evening, the twins started to fight in their room and I completely lost my temper with them. I yelled and screamed so loud that the neighbors next door must have heard me!

After this I felt so ashamed and angry with myself that I got depressed. When my husband came home, I am afraid he did not feel like talking to me since he saw that I was in a bad mood.

– Yes this is a good example of how the bad use we make of our faults does more damage to us than our faults themselves. Alas, it is our self-love which causes us to act this way.

I have myself the same problem. We priests also have to overcome our pride. You see, we should not get upset when we fall! I think we should rather be surprised that we do not fall more often.

We should also thank God for all the faults from which He preserves us. Let us not become troubled and agitated when we see ourselves so imperfect. We should always keep our peace of soul.

When we happen to commit a fault we should turn to God with humility and ask His forgiveness. And then we must never think about the fault again, until the time comes to mention it in confession.

– So you think it may be pride, Father, when I get discouraged at the sight of how little progress I make in the spiritual life?

– Yes, it is possible that your self-love causes you to desire to be exempt from imperfections and so you get upset when you realize that you are still committing many little faults every day.

God wants us to be humble. He needs this disposition in our souls in order to communicate to us His grace. This is why He often allows us to plagued with defects.

I think that, if we were to become perfect all of a sudden, it would make us very proud and it would cause our ruin.

God is a great and wise Master. Let Him do as He likes. He will not fail in His work of the sanctification of your soul. We should resolve never to willfully do anything that displeases Him.

But if, despite our goodwill, we fall into faults, let us rejoice in the humiliation into which these faults throw us. Once again, we should profit from our faults in order to destroy our self-complacency and give glory to our dear God.

– So Father, you think that my defects do not offend Our Lord? It really bothers me sometimes when I come to confession and I have the same faults to confess every month!

– I know your soul and I think that many of your faults are not deliberate. Let me take two examples. First Mrs. So-and-So is a real gossip and in the past when both of you were on the phone, you talked about your neighbors in an unkind way. So you perfectly know that she is an occasion of sin.

If one day you go ahead and call her on the phone and indulge in an uncharitable conversation, there is no doubt that you have committed a venial sin and hurt the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Second, Mrs. Such-and-Such is your good friend and one day she comes to visit you. During the conversation you both tell bits of news that you have learned about people (without previous malicious intention).

After she has left you realize that some of the things you revealed to her were unnecessary and may have caused such a person to decrease in her esteem. Well, it was not a deliberate sin on your part, but a fault of weakness.

Tell God that you are sorry and your act of humility will make up for whatever negligence there may have been and give glory to Him.

– Well, Father, I will follow your advice and ask Our Lord to give me humility of heart. if I see some good in me, I know it is from God and I will thank Him for it. If I see some evil, I know it is from me. I will not get discouraged but I will profit by it so as to humble myself.

– Good! And always remember what I told you before about the way of spiritual childhood. St Theresa teaches us to make ourselves as small as we can in our own eyes.

Look at little children. They often fall on the ground. But they do not hurt themselves because, so to speak, they never fall from any great height.

So also little souls. Their wounds are never very serious and they are healed as soon as they are wounded. Far from being a hindrance in the way of perfection, the experience of their faults makes them humble and is therefore an advantage.

St. Paul said “It is my weakness that makes all my strength.” Let us pray to God so that we may receive the grace of being like little children in His sight, humble and confident.

God bless you.

“The desired wife has developed her personality before marriage and continues that development during marriage. By personality here I mean beauty of soul and all those qualities and accomplishments which go to make a person interesting and sought after. Personality will carry a girl a great deal further in life than physical beauty. In fact, without personality, beauty often tires one in married life. Some girls are born with physical beauty. None are born with personality. They must develop and cultivate it all the days of their lives.” – Fr. Leo Kinsella, The Wife Desired, 1950’s https://amzn.to/2w4nX08 (afflink)

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In Praise of UnMarried Women – Fr. Daniel A. Lord

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By DANIEL A. LORD, S.J.

Australian Catholic Truth Society 1950

Whatever literature may say about spinsters, and however much history may ignore them – except for outstanding spinsters like Elizabeth of England – the Church’s attitude toward unmarried women has been, from the first, one of reverence.

This I came to know when my faith emerged from mere youthful practice to intelligent study and appreciation. Among the Jews a spinster was merely an unfortunate girl not lucky enough to have won a husband for herself. Among the pagans she was usually the slave or bondmaiden, the grudgingly tolerated hanger-on in the house of her parents or her luckier married sisters.

With St. Paul all that was changed. He loved virginity, and he turned to the ministrations and loyalty – as many a parish has done since – of the splendid young and older unmarried women of his time. The legends of St. Paul and St. Tecla – whose name was the Greek word for pearl – are many and beautiful. Phoebe, to whom Paul sends affectionate messages, seems to have been one of the first consecrated Catholic virgins.

ST. PAUL SPEAKS

It was left for the great St. Paul, who could find for marriage no more appropriate comparison than that of the love which Christ bears for His Church (see Ephesians 5: 21-32), to speak almost the first words in praise of those who deliberately did not marry or who, for any good reasons, remained unmarried.

“But,” he wrote to the Corinthians, “I say to the unmarried and to widows, it is good for them if they so remain, even as I.” (1 Cor 7: 8)

Then he directs to men who remain unmarried and cherish their virginity strong praise that quite clearly he means for both men and women. For he continues: “I would have you free from care. He who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please God.

Whereas he who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife; and he is divided. And the unmarried woman, and the virgin, thinks about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy in body and in spirit. Whereas she who is married thinks about the things of the world, how she may please her husband.” (1 Cor 7: 32-34)

UNMARRIED SAINTS

This was an astonishing teaching to people who had regarded virginity as rather a futile thing and the unmarried girl as the object of a none too gentle pity. Yet instantly the early Church, which loved the virgin Christ and the Virgin Mary and the beloved virgin John, took to heart the good advice. It is noteworthy that the virgin martyrs of those early days were not nuns in any modern sense. They had in some cases taken the veil of virginity at the hands of Peter or of Paul, but they lived at home, served the poor in the big cities, and, save for their intense concentration on the love of God and their neighbors, lived, as we would say, in the world.

Such was the young Agnes, the older Agatha, Cecilia, and half a dozen others forced into marriage against their will and carrying to God through martyrdom the glory of their virginity. They had detached themselves from the love of any man to give their whole love to the greatest of the sons of men.

They cared for their houses and were devoted to their parents. They ministered to the poor and at dawn or at dusk went to the catacombs for Mass and prayer. They were saintly spinsters, if you wish, or spinster saints. True, the pagan world regarded them as abnormal and queer and fit only for death. The Christians loved them unforgettably.

GREAT CONTRIBUTION

Their contribution to the early Church is beyond computation. They lived the purity that was supposed to characterize the religion of the Savior. They did the good works that He had listed as sign and proof of His followers.

They were personally the great correctives for the abuses of marriage and for the corruption of morals. They demonstrated with shining and spectacular force that it was possible for married couples to remain faithful since normal girls with all the normal desires and impulses could remain pure while unmarried.

They led along paths of maidenly modesty other girls who could not accept a lifetime of virginity, until premarital purity made them worthy to be mothers of the little sons and daughters of our God and Father.

The Church has never forgotten those first unmarried saints, the models of the millions who were to be the most distinctive and unique contribution of Christianity to world morality. Christian marriage would never have been possible without them. Christian virginity got its pattern from their unforgettable acceptance of Christ’s new purity.

It is not at all an exaggeration to say that the unmarried Catholic woman of the present can look upon herself as the legitimate successor to these virgins and martyrs of earliest Christian times. She may be proud of that association and conscious of the possibility within her to repeat in our generation their great contribution to life, love, and the decencies.

REWARD

No doubt about it, the unmarried woman has the chance to win a reward exceeding great.

She is able daily to offer to God the beautiful perfume that is her virginal innocence. God loves her for that and honors her with the same kind of reverence that is due Mary. So do those of His followers who see life and measure values with a Christ-like eye.

If the cup of cold water given in Christ’s name wins eternal reward, what of the food and drink and clothes and housing that are provided by these generous women again and again and again?

May this saintly woman come very close to God. For there is no interfering love in her life. Those she loves, she loves unselfishly, almost without human reward but in the calm certainly that God is pleased by her life. “Whatsoever you do for the least of these my little ones, you do for me.”

The words of the Savior, tremendously reassuring, never fitted anyone more perfectly than they do Catholic teachers, Catholic nurses, Catholic businesswomen, and those sisters, daughters, and aunts who do and do and do – endlessly and without probability of repayment – for the sons and daughters of others – and of God.

The fine Catholic example of this kind of women has far more influence than she herself dreams.

Her laborious unselfishness is a constant rebuke to the greed and self-indulgence of the world. She is one of those unrecognized heroines whose work is never properly praised but is always effective to a degree that will be measured by celestial weights and measures.

She is a not unworthy successor of the holy women of the primitive Church who, with the Apostles and the doctors of the Church, taught a new way of life to humanity.

 VISION

Nor can we forget the bright and inspiring vision of St. John. There upon the mount that is Sion he saw the Lamb of God surrounded by the specially honored one hundred and forty-four thousand, a mystical number embracing the vast host of those who will be nearest the Savior in eternity. Their closeness to the Savior, Saint John explains by one simple statement: “For they are virgins.” (See Rev 14:4)

Lift up your eyes, you heroines called spinsters! The Savior of the world loves you most especially and has a place for you in eternity in His own immediate company. It is a glorious certainty.

And if a certain group of spinsters will permit me to bring them back from those sublime heights to a more immediately grateful person . . . I thank you . . . and you . . . and you . . . and you . . . and all you others with whom it has been my happy privilege to be associated in a common enterprise during these many years. I know your holiness. I have felt your unselfishness. I know your shining beauty.

Surely my life has been made rich and full by the fact that I have counted you among my friends and partners in a work for the unmarried Christ and the Virgin Mary.

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FF Quote for the Day
“Keep yourself at peace and in complete repose, never become upset and never trouble yourself about anything, forget the past, live as though the future does not exist, live for Jesus in every moment that you are living, or, better, live as though you have no life in yourself, but allow Jesus to live in you at His leisure; to walk thus, in all circumstances and in all encounters, without fear or worry as is becoming the children of Jesus and Mary; never think of yourself voluntarily; abandon the care of your soul to Jesus alone. Your soul belongs to Him. It is therefore up to Him to take care of it because it is His property. Generally speaking, banish all fear and replace this feeling with love; in all of this, act gently, sweetly, steadily, without haste, without anger. Walk in this fashion in all graciousness, abandonment and complete confidence.”-Fr. Jacques Philippe, Searching For and Maintaining Peace of Heart
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Finer Femininity is a small publication compiled to inspire Catholic women in their vocations. It consists of uplifting articles from authors with traditional values, with many of them from priests, written over 50 years ago. These anecdotes are timeless but, with the fast-paced “progress “of today’s world, the pearls within the articles are rarely meditated upon. This little magazine offers Catholic womankind support and inspiration as they travel that oftentimes lonely trail….the narrow road to heaven. The thoughts within the pages will enlighten us to regard the frequently monotonous path of our “daily duties” as the beautiful road to sanctity. Feminine souls need this kind of information to continue to “fight the good fight” in a world that has opposing values and seldom offers any kind of support to these courageous women. Inside the pages you will find inspiration for your roles as single women, as wives and as mothers. In between the thought-provoking articles, the pages are sprinkled with pictures, quotes and maybe even a recipe or two…
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The Keys to Mutual Love

by Father George Kelly. The Catholic Marriage Manual

To succeed at any vocation, you must have patience, a determination to learn, a willingness to put aside momentary desires for the sake of final success. The vocation of marriage is no exception. It requires hard work. In fact, it is probably the hardest job of all.

For example, consider what a wife and mother must be. She must be an inspiring companion to her husband. She must be a housekeeper who has some skill in cooking, sewing and cleaning. She must be something of an economist, able to handle her household budget and to shop efficiently for food, furnishings and clothing.

She must be proficient in the feeding and physical care of her children. She must be a nurse. She must be a teacher with a working knowledge of child psychology to discipline her youngsters properly.

In addition to the actual skills needed for the successful performance of these jobs, she requires spiritual and emotional qualities —patience, tolerance, understanding, kindness, gentility, fortitude, prudence.

The successful husband and father needs similar qualities. To inspire respect for his leadership he should be reasonably competent as a man: he must be the head of the family; he must be a provider for his wife and children.

He must be a source of inspiration to his wife, encouraging her to fulfill her duties as wife and mother. He, too, must be a teacher, for his example will probably be the most important influence in the development of his son’s personality.

He also requires insights into the spiritual and emotional needs of his wife and children. He requires high resolutions and a strong sense of duty to meet those needs.

Since it is obvious that a man and woman need so many qualities to succeed as husband and wife and as father and mother, why do so many take the marriage vows without really knowing what will be expected of them?

Even couples who have lived together for years sometimes fail to realize how many adjustments they must make and how much self-discipline they must impose if their marriage is to weather future difficulties successfully.

Listen to the dreamy popular songs on the radio, read the romantic novels in many magazines, and view the love stories portrayed on television or in the movies. Seldom will you find even a vague suggestion that the vocation of marriage requires unremitting hard work by both partners.

Problems that arise in marriage as portrayed on television are almost always solved in time for the final commercial. Popular songs convey a constant impression that personality conflicts can be washed away in the sea of sex.

Even articles on marriage in popular magazines and books, seriously intended to help couples achieve better adjustment, often introduce a typical problem and, a few sentences later, report how the couple, by performing a magic act like visiting a marriage counselor, correct all past difficulties and live happily thereafter.

Few publications emphasize that mutual sacrifice is essential to marital success.

In that magnificent little volume The Imitation of Christ, compiled by Thomas Kempis in the fifteenth century, it is written: “Unless thou deny thyself, thou shalt not have perfect liberty.”

Those words might be studied by every married person. Unless you practice severe self-discipline and subjugate your own desires, striving instead to fulfill the needs of your spouse and children, you cannot gain the full happiness of marriage.

Despite what the movies say, no one “finds” happiness. If you obtain it at all, you must earn it. And it will be earned only by what the Catholic marriage ritual calls “the great principle of self-sacrifice.”

On your wedding day you surrendered your individual lives in the interest of a deeper and wider common life. From that day forward you belonged to each other. You were expected to become one in mind, one in heart, and one in affections.

And as the ritual counseled: “Whatever sacrifices you may hereafter be required to make to preserve this common life, always make them generously.”

Does this mean that we must picture married life in grim, terrifying colors? Not a bit! Sacrifice is difficult and irksome only in the absence of love.

Love makes it easy, and the more perfect the love, the more joy in the sacrifice.

When two people learn to bear patiently with marriage and with each other, marital harmony is the result. And this meeting of minds is the greatest source of happiness humans can obtain on earth.

No earthly pleasure can match that which the loving husband gives his wife, the wife gives her husband, or children give their parents. Very few people indeed appreciate that it is the warm and living union of two persons which alone gives life its full meaning.

Don’t listen to negative self-talk. Don’t analyze it, just don’t listen to it. Period. It will bring you down and make you sluggish in accomplishing what you need to get done. Instead, look at your list and do the next thing, say a prayer, grab a book and read it, spend some time with the kids. It’s not worth listening to the rubbish that goes on inside your head. -Finer Femininity

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Our Lady’s Love of Domestic Life

by Mother Mary Potter, Catholic Family Magazine, Australia

We do not think enough of this love of Mary for simple domestic life; indeed, we often forget it entirely. Yet it is one of the most beautiful traits in her character.

It seems the very essence of Mary, so to speak, to be simple, to perform the common, ordinary duties of a wife and a mother, and to love them. Her Heart ever craved after one thing, namely, to walk simply before God and to be perfect, whatever might be the circumstances or condition of her life.

But He gave her what her Heart most desired, the simple ordinary life of women, that she might live this life in her sweet, simple way, and sanctify it for the multitude of women who should follow her, that she might leave an example to her children, so sweet, so captivating, that they hereafter might love to walk in her footsteps; that she might be the pattern of a perfect woman to them.

And such indeed she is, and so sweet is her example, that the world seems made holier, purer by the very name of Mary.

Every good Catholic household seems penetrated with her influence, and perfumed by her presence. Her statues and pictures are everywhere, and everywhere remind us of herself, the pure simple Mary, the holy woman, the gentle Virgin, the Mother above all mothers.

But she ever comes before us in her own simplicity, that simplicity of Mary which is unlike anything else. There is nothing extraordinary about her in her outward conduct and demeanor, nothing excessive, nothing exaggerated.

She is a pure, true woman, lovely beyond conception; she is Mary, unlike aught but herself.

But for all that, holy Mother, we wish to be like thee, as far as we may; we wish to imitate thee; we will follow thee in the way thou hast shown us; our lives shall be in conformity to thine, so far as our weakness will permit.

If thou hadst done extraordinary things we might still have looked up to thee, longed to imitate thee, and should not have been able: but thou hast lived upon this earth as other women live, working no miracles, doing nothing marvelous, but for the greater part in the simple discharge of the duties of a quiet peaceful home, only so perfectly, with such exquisite purity of intention, with such ardent charity.

We, too, desire to live as thou hast done; thou wilt surely help thy children, tender Mother that thou art.

Mary is great as the Immaculate Virgin, she is great as the marvelous Mother of God, she is great as she stands on Calvary, offering the greatest sacrifice ever creature offered to God.

She offered what was her own, for Jesus was hers, He was her Son.

Mary is great as Queen of Heaven, but Mary is equally great in the eyes of God in the simple actions of her daily life, since in them she did God’s will as perfectly as she did when she consented to become His Mother.

We love Thee, Mary, as we watch thee, so quiet, so humble performing thy daily round of duties.

Each action was an offering, a gift, well pleasing to the Most High, each action was performed carefully, earnestly, as though it were an act of religious worship, and so indeed it was in Mary’s eyes.

Mary sanctified the daily acts of life, and in this her children can and must follow her example.

God is everywhere. He is adorable everywhere. He should be adored everywhere. We work in His presence always. It is with this thought ever in our minds that we should work.

It will not then matter to us what our work is; the smallest action will be performed as carefully as the greatest, and our life will be beautiful in the sight of God. Yes; it is not always what appears to us to be grand actions that are grand in the sight of God.

They are indeed grand when performed purely for the love of God; but these same heroic actions may be done from unworthy, selfish, interested motives, and not be so pleasing to God as some most commonplace, everyday actions proceeding from a purer motive.

Who can understand the joy of God in His saints, whose days are full of such noble actions as these?

We, too, naturally admire what is heroic and noble. See the applause that Grace Darling won for her one brave act in saving the lives of the poor, shipwrecked sailors; but that may have been no more pleasing in the sight of God than the simple daily actions of many a chosen soul, both in the world and in the cloister, dear to the Heart of God, “for man seeth those things that appear, but the Lord beholdeth the heart.”

If we could see our lives as those in heaven see them; if we could but see how beautiful to the angels and saints the lives appear of those who on earth are “all for God,” how differently should we feel, how differently should we act.

Do we think as we should of the quiet, simple life of Mary, full of its everyday, ordinary actions?

We have read of the saint who saw how a poor laborer was adding to his merit and his future crown in heaven by every brick he laid. Then what must Mary have done? What was the purity of intention of that poor bricklayer laying his bricks compared to the intention with which Mary worked at her needlework, drew water from the well for her little household, cleaned the house and its humble furniture, ant did all that was necessary for the simple poor cottage at Nazareth.

The angels never tired of gazing at their Queen as she went from one duty to the other in the simple routine of her life. She grew more and more wonderful to them, and they loved human life, seeing it such as they had ne’er before seen it, “life as Mary lived it.”

Let Mary’s children resolve to imitate their Mother; let them, wherever they may be, whether in the world or the cloister, resolve to imitate Mary by their cheerful, careful performance of their daily duties. Our Mother  is looking lovingly upon us. Let us think of her sweet, smiling face; let us earn from her the crown she is holding for us, which she is so anxious to bestow upon us, the reward the good God will give to all who are faithful to Him, and persevere in His service to the end.

Let us never grow weary of our work; let us never grow remiss; let us never yield to sloth. We shall not be able to work for God in heaven, we shall rest in Him there. Now is the time for toil and labor. Now is the time to show love for God by fulfilling His will, which is that we labor in the sweat of our brow in a spirit of penance, though at the same time with a spirit of joy that we are able thus to give gifts to our God, the gift of ourselves and ail our faculties.

Recollect that if the temptation of sloth is given way to, there is an end to sanctity for us. Recollect that if we begin to perform our actions hurriedly, as matters of slight import, we are in a state of delusion, and our final perseverance in the right way is doubtful.

As a tree is known by its fruits, so is the perfection of a soul known by its works; it is the one true criterion. Watch how persons perform their work, and you will know how near they are to God. You will know if Jesus be dwelling as King within them or not.

One who works carelessly, who throws things about untidily, who by thoughtlessness and carelessness creates disorder, that soul is not living in close union with Jesus.

God is so orderly, so perfect, so beautifully neat, if I may say so with reverence, in all His ways. I cannot imagine such a thing as an untidy or a slovenly saint, though, in some, doubtless, the poor body and its tidiness and cleanliness have been disregarded, but this was done from higher motives, and not from carelessness or love of dirt for its own sake.

If we are striving to make a home for Jesus in our hearts, to make His dwelling within us pleasing to Him, how carefully we shall work, how perfectly shall we strive to perform each action, with what a joyous, happy spirit, too.

Not in a dull and slavish way; our service will not be a forced and oppressive, but a very cheerful, happy one; since all our actions will be offered to God, all our acts will be acts of love.

We shall love our life of love and labor, and it is the Mother of fair love who will infuse this love into us, who will help her children to work in the same spirit as she did, who will send angels to assist them if they try to do their part, who will herself teach them the best way of performing their daily duties.

Oh, lovely Mother, Queen of Angels, send thy holy angels to watch over thy children, and make them to live on earth as God’s earthly angels, well pleasing in His sight and most dear to Him.

If Mary’s children, then, would have their hearts in union with their Mother’s Heart, they, too, must love domestic life, home life; they must consider home as their place of work, and love it; they must think that their principal work is to make home happy; they must live in their household as Mary lived in hers; they must put their heart in all they do; they must make all their works acts of love, as Mary did; and God will bless those homes where the spirit of Mary thus lives.

May there be many such homes in this world, that God may love it as in the beginning, when He blessed it and pronounced it good.

“Lord, Help me to be a good wife. I fully realize that I don’t have what it takes to be one without Your help. Take my selfishness, impatience, and irritability and turn them into kindness, long-suffering, and the willingness to bear all things. Take my old emotional habits, mindsets, automatic reactions, rude assumptions, and self-protective stance, and make me patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled. Take the hardness of my heart and break down the walls with Your battering ram of revelation. Give me a new heart and work in me Your love, peace, and joy. I am not able to rise above who I am at this moment. Only You can transform me.” -The Power of a Praying Wife

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Strive For Lasting Success

What is your measurement of success?  In this article, Father Garesche talks about striving for lasting success, success that is true and noble.

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The Catholic Book of Character and Success by Fr. Edward F. Garesche

Before we speak of the means to achieve success, we should form a clear idea for ourselves as to what success means, in what it consists, for we cannot discuss the way sensibly unless we know where we are going.

Everyone who is not a fool desires success in life, but many fail to achieve it, even with their utmost effort, because they have not rightly conceived what really constitutes success.

A successful life is a life that achieves its purpose. Such a life is a happy one, even though its way may pass through suffering and difficulty, because happiness is one thing and pleasure another, and a person may have great pleasure and still be very unhappy, just as he may lack pleasure almost entirely and still be very happy.

What is the purpose of life?

The chorus of all generations of mankind, the general conclusion of history, is that the purpose of life is to do one’s duty to God and man, to make the most of one’s opportunities of service, to live virtuously, and thus enjoy the happiness here and hereafter that comes from such performance of duty.

I say this is the final conclusion of mankind. It is true that there are many individuals who put success in various forms of achievement. Some people look on success as the acquirement of great sums of money, and the reason they judge thus is that money means power; it means the acquirement of property and influence and the enjoyment of good things of this world. Hence, when men put success in business achievement, they confess that the good things of this world seem to them the way to happiness.

But is this so? A little reflection will show that it is not. Money is a means to an end, and very often a necessary means, because a man must live decently and must support his family, if he has one.

But some of the greatest failures in history have been those who have accumulated huge sums of money, but who have lacked moral principle and have been false to their duty; wherefore, they made gigantic failures.

The greatest persons of history have often been poor in material things, but they have always been rich in principle, in devotion to duty; otherwise they would have been not truly great.

There are others who have put success in the acquirement of honor or reputation, and here again they were wrong, because honor in itself is not so much in the person himself as in the thoughts of others. Honor does not bring a person lasting happiness.

Many a one has achieved immense reputation and then left, in his own writings, the record of his disillusionment and disappointment. It is not those who have achieved renown who are truly fortunate and happy, but those who have deserved honor by their virtue. What has been said of honor may be said, too, of power and influence.

These are not the real rewards of life. Here, again, many a man has succeeded in rising to great heights and yet made a failure of his life.

Remember the great Napoleon at St. Helena. He had climbed and fought to the peak of human greatness, and he left behind a name that will endure for many generations. Yet his career recalls at its end the saying of Solomon: “Vanity of vanities and all is vanity.”

Rather, it is the leading of a virtuous and upright life, the performance of one’s duties to God and man, the making the most of every opportunity for service, and the harmonious development of every faculty that make for real success in life and that lead to happiness here and a greater happiness hereafter.

You have only a few years in which to realize in your own person this end of dutiful service. To realize it, you may have to “scorn delights, and live laborious days”; you may be obliged to forget friendships, amusements, and even success, when these are against your conscience and your duty. But in this way, and in this way alone, lie true success and happiness.

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“At a certain moment when going to confession to a Capuchin father, St. Therese came to understand that it was just the opposite: her defects did not displease God and her littleness attracted God’s love, just as a father is moved by the weakness of his children and loves them still more as soon as he sees their good will and sincere love.” -Fr. Jacques Philippe,The Way of Trust and Love http://amzn.to/2fpXVzl

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The Spirit of Hospitality – Emilie Barnes

The following little story about the Gift of Hospitality struck a chord with me.

Like Emilie Barnes, our life was not an easy one, growing up in the big city of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. Oftentimes we didn’t know how the food was going to be put on the table.

My mom went through a lot in those years, trying to work as a nurse’s aid, manage a household of an unusually large amount of children for those parts and that time (there were 6 of us kids).

Yet through it all, my mom had an openness and kindness to other people that was an example to all of us.

She never turned down anyone when it came to raiding the refrigerator or making them feel welcome. If someone walked in at mealtime they were invited to sit with us even though the fare may not have been ample.

It was an inspiration to me!

This little anecdote reiterates the value of an Open Heart, Open Home mentality and what an example we can be in this realm for our children.

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From Emilie Barnes:Simple Secrets to a Beautiful Home: Creating a Place You and Your Family Will Love

The “parlor” was tiny, just an extra room behind the store. But the tablecloth was spotless, the candles were glowing, the flowers were bright, the tea was fragrant. Most of all, the smile was genuine and welcoming whenever ever my mother invited people to “come on back for a cup of tea.”

How often I heard her say those words when I was growing up. And how little I realized the mark they would make on me.

Those were hard years after my father died, when Mama and I shared three rooms behind her little dress shop.

Mama waited on the customers, did alterations, and worked on the books until late at night. I kept house – planning and shopping for meals, cooking, cleaning, doing laundry – while going to school and learning the dress business as well.

Sometimes I felt like Cinderella – work, work, work. And the little girl in me longed for a Prince Charming to carry me away to his castle. There I would preside over a grand and immaculate household, waited on hand and foot by attentive servants. I would wear gorgeous dresses and entertain kings and queens who marveled at my beauty and my wisdom as they lavished me with gifts.

But in the meantime, of course, I had work to do.

And although I didn’t know it, I was already receiving a gift more precious than any dream castle could be. For unlike Cinderella, I lived with a loving mother who understood the true meaning of sharing and of joy – a mother who brightened people’s lives with her gift of hospitality.

Our customers quickly learned that Mama offered a sympathetic ear as well as elegant clothes and impeccable service. Often they ended up sharing their hurts and problems with her. And then, inevitably, would come the invitation: “Let me make you a cup of tea.”

She would usher our guests back to our main room, which served as a living room by day and a bedroom by night.

Quickly a fresh cloth was slipped on the table, a candle lit, fresh flowers set out if possible, and the teapot heated. If we had them, she would pull out cookies or a loaf of banana bread.

There was never anything fancy, but the gift of her caring warmed many a heart on a cold night.

And Mama didn’t limit her hospitality to just our guests. On rainy days I often came home from school to a hot baked potato, fresh from the oven. Even with her heavy workload, Mama would take the time to make this little Cinderella feel like a queen.

My mother’s willingness to open her life to others – to share her home, her food, and her love – was truly a royal gift.

She passed it along to me, and I have the privilege of passing it on to others. What a joy to be part of the warmth and beauty of hospitality!

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“Hospitality is so much more than entertaining-so much more than menus and decorating and putting on a show. To me, it means organizing my life in such a way that there’s always room for one more, always an extra place at the table or an extra pillow and blanket, always a welcome for those who need a listening ear. It means setting aside time for planned camaraderie and setting aside lesser priorities for impromptu gatherings.” -Emilie Barnes. Simple Secrets to a Beautiful Home

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A True Woman Has Charity – The Leprous Infant

From True Womanhood, Rev. Bernard O’Reilly, 1894

Is not this the significance of a most beautiful legend from the life of St. Elizabeth of Hungary?

Her mother-in-law, Sophia, was, at the time of the occurrence about to be related, bitterly prejudiced against the saintly wife. “She neither shared nor approved Elizabeth’s charities and merciful ministrations. In her son, however, she found no sympathy. Yet one account shows how even his kind heart was overtasked.

One day a child afflicted with leprosy was brought to the hospital in the Wartburg; but his state was in the institution would neither touch him nor admit him.

Elizabeth, coming at her usual hour, no sooner beheld the little sufferer lying helpless and forsaken at the gate, than she took him up in her arms, carried him to the castle, and placed him in her own bed.

Sophia, indignant, flew to the landgrave. ‘My son,’ she burst forth, ‘come with me instantly, and see with whom your wife shares your bed;’ and she led him to his chamber, relating in exaggerated language the extraordinary occurrence that seemed to crown all the mad acts of his wife’s charity.

The landgrave, though he said not one word, could scarcely conceal his irritation and loathing. He snatched the coverlet from the bed, and lo! instead of the leper, there lay an infant, surrounded with a halo of light, and bearing the features of the new-born lobe of Bethlehem!

This example is, however, more admirable than imitable. It is a rare thing to have to perform heroic acts of any virtue,—even that of charity. Where a miracle occurs, as here, Providence means to inculcate a lesson.

The teaching, to the Catholic mind, is a plain one: it is only the repetition, under a different form, of the Master’s doctrine, that he is represented by the persons of the poor and the suffering.

So, with this conviction firmly seated in the soul of the Christian mistress of a household, it will be easy for her to see with what reverence and generosity she must treat the poor. We say “reverence.” For if her womanly heart has schooled itself to behold Christ present in every one of the needy who come to her door, she will not have to be reminded to show to all, without exception, kindness.

Kindness is something far beneath reverence; yet let us insist upon the absolute necessity of  kind looks and kind words. No one better than a woman knows how far kindness goes, or how much and how long a kind word or a look of tender sympathy will be treasured up by those-on whom they are bestowed.

If you have nothing else to give,—if your purse is empty, and your bread has failed,-— open the spring of kindness in your heart and let it pour out on the hearts of the poor sweet words of compassion, often more needed and more rarely bestowed than food on the famishing or cold water on the faint and weary.

Follow the rule of the great St. Francis, therefore: Be invariably and unfailingly kind to the poor. And this precious quality in the temper and bearing of man or woman can only be secured by the habitual practice of that “reverence” just mentioned.

It is more needful than ever that in every Catholic home mothers should cultivate that ancient respect for husband and children which was inspired by a lively faith, and made every member of the Christian community view in his fellow-Christians the children of God, the person of Christ himself.

This feeling inspired the father of the great Origen,—a father found soon afterward worthy to die the death of the martyrs,— with a reverence for his infant son so deep and so sincere, that he was wont as he passed his cradle to uncover the child’s breast and to kiss it, kneeling,—knowing, as he said, that the babe was the living temple of the Holy Ghost.

Surely Catholic fathers and mothers ought to find an exquisite pleasure in such elevating thoughts and sentiments as this; surely they should so consider each other and respect each other as if they too were chosen vessels, vessels of grace, bearing about in their bosoms the Creator Spirit; and most surely ought it to be the mother’s chief delight to reverence in every child of hers a something far more holy, more precious than the chalice used in the Holy Sacrifice, or the sacred vessel shut up in the Tabernacle and inclosing Christ’s divinest gift to our souls.

Can we school and accustom ourselves so to reverence the poor as to see in them the Person of Him who is represented as evermore standing in the night, wet by the dew or the rainstorm, at the door of every one of us, and gently knocking for admission to the light and warmth of our fireside?

This said, it is not our design to say either to the wealthy or to the needy housewife what measure she is to follow in relieving the wants of the poor. Let our spirit be the royal spirit of the ancient Catholic charity of our fathers.

To the rich let this suffice. “A modern author relates that a merchant in Spain once said to him: A rich Spanish tradesman would laugh at you if you talked to him of keeping his carriage; ~but ask him for alms, and he will think nothing of giving you a hundred, five hundred, or a thousand dollars”.

The early verbalizing, the magic and romantic lyricism of love letters, and long, late-night telephone conversations — all of these are left behind. Even the constant repetition of the words of love finds husband and wife admitting to each other that words do not express what they wish them to express. Thus, verbal symbols give way to a thousand variations of concrete symbols: a surprise gift, a note on the refrigerator, an evening planned totally for the other — always designed to unlock in the other that secret closet of joy. In creating their masterpiece, truly “their life’s work”, husband and wife each look to the other’s needs. -Father of the Family, Clayton Barbeau https://amzn.to/2tnTeJO (afflink)

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7 Ways to Gain Wisdom

illustration by www.apoia.se/lizdesouza

My own rendition based on an excerpt from the book by Helen Andelin, All About Raising Children

Wisdom! How much we should strive and pray for this gift of the Holy Ghost! We need it so much in our everyday lives….living with our spouse, raising children, dealing with elderly parents..and in our own personal lives.

So many choices have to be made each day and if we do not have wisdom we can make some pretty big mistakes along the way!

The qualities of wisdom – sound judgement, right values, wise priorities, common sense are very important in being a balanced, prayerful, Catholic woman.

We need wisdom to “light the way”…to have discernment, insight and keen judgement.

How do we gain wisdom?

  1. Within ourselves.

Our Lord tells us that the Kingdom of God is within us. We do not have to look “out there” to find it.

“Never shall we have peace until we are interior men and united with God. Repose of mind, joy, solid contentment, are found only in the interior world, in the kingdom of God which we possess within ourselves. The more deeply we enter therein, the more happy shall we be. Without this we shall always be in trouble and difficulty, always discontented and murmuring; and if any temptation, any rude trial, come upon us, we shall not overcome it.” – St. Francis de Sales

2. Gaining Wisdom from Others

If we seek wisdom from others, we gain a great deal. We must learn to listen…and in this day and age, there are so many opportunities to “listen”.

In present times men and women gain wisdom and share it with us in the form of books, lectures, statements and even personal conversations. We have, at our fingertips, online sermons and podcasts, good books…many written by saints, support groups, etc.

Wise men through the ages have given us a rich heritage of wisdom. Philosophers, through careful meditation, have discovered wisdom and handed it down to us in books. Moved upon by the Holy Spirit, the apostles and prophets received wisdom which they recorded in the scriptures.

Sometimes a person whom we would not suspect of having any profound thoughts will come up with a statement of wisdom.

Even a small child is capable of wise thought. If we seek wisdom from others, if we read a great deal and are alert to gems of wisdom spoken, we can gain a great deal of wisdom from others.

3. Experience

….Ah yes, that most important attribute of experience that is not given to us easily. The wisdom of experience comes through our own lessons learned. If we learn from our mistakes, and allow ourselves to grow, a wide variety of experiences will gain us wisdom.

4. Reasoning

We can also gain wisdom through reasoning and logic. Through careful thought we can find answers to problems, helpful ideas to guide us to better living.

This can be hazardous, however.

Our reasoning can also lead us into error. This can be avoided if we develop the skill to check our reasoning with what the Church teaches, what the Fathers have taught, what the saints say, etc.

When it is in harmony, we can come to know that our thinking is true.

I like this prayer and use it often in this regard:

Holy Ghost, inspire me, love of God, consume me, to the right path lead me, Mary, my mother, look down upon me. With Jesus bless me. From all evil, all illusion, all danger, preserve me. –St. Mariam of Jesus Crucified

5. Inspiration from God

This is something that we should be seeking at all times. It is true, we can gain knowledge from good books, great websites, podcasts, etc. But wisdom is a gift of God and we must ask for it. “But if any of you want wisdom, let him ask of God who giveth to all men abundantly and upbraideth not. And it shall be given him.” –James1:5, Douay Rheims

6. A Life of Integrity

What is in our heart overflows into our actions. We must live a life of pure and noble thoughts…this is a journey but it is something to strive for each day. Our inner life, one of purity and integrity, will help us to gain wisdom as we will be an open channel to receive grace.

7. Health

We have all experienced it. When we are being temperate in our food and drink, when we mortify our senses, we gain more spiritually. It is easier to make our spiritual life a priority, we are more in tune to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, and we have the strength and energy to do God’s will instead of just being in survival mode.

All efforts toward health, both physical and mental, will increase our ability to gain wisdom.

So let us pray for this most important gift of wisdom, that in all of our undertakings we can be assured of the guidance of the Holy Spirit!

Every day you need to lift your husband up in prayer. Ask St. Joseph to help him to be a good husband and father. He needs you, who are his closest companion, to lift him up each day to our Heavenly Father. Ask Our Lord to protect him and to protect your marriage. What a wonderful gift a praying wife is! -Finer Femininity

An excellent sermon!

“When a father sends his children out into the world, he wants to still be a father. He wants to give them things to cling on to, things that will keep them safe. And sadly, sometimes, it is the father that is the one that has to leave. But again, he wants to leave his children with things that he thinks are important – ideas and ideals that he hopes will serve them and keep them well in his absence. So this won’t be comprehensive today. Certainly there is more to say as the weeks roll on. But this does come from love, and comes from the heart….”

It can be found here.

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Sincerity is Not Always the Easiest Path – Beautiful Girlhood

“And this I pray… that ye may be sincere and without offence.”*

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Beautiful Girlhoodby Mabel Hale

To be sincere is to be in reality what one appears to be: not feigned; not assumed; genuine, real, and true. How much value we all place upon sincerity! What a low estimate we place upon the friendship of a person who proves not to be sincere, who, when to her advantage, snubs and ignores us.

How we despise the actions of one who is lavish with expressions of love and kindness to our face, but who backbites us in our absence! We care nothing for her friendship, and her very expressions of affection are obnoxious. Is it not true that we expect and demand sincerity of our friends?

To be sincere is to be honest; honest with self and honest with others. Honesty costs something. To be truly honest is not always the easiest path. It is an easy matter to deceive ourselves and to make ourselves believe we are doing right, when down in our hearts we know we are doing wrong.

A man might give to a good cause and make himself believe he is doing right, when deep in his heart he must know he gives to gain praise of the people. A girl might make herself think she is studying because she is bent over a book, when she knows her thoughts are all upon the party to which she is going. A boy may make himself think he is smart and manly because he smokes, when deep down in his heart he knows he is being both disobedient and deceitful.

There are indeed many ways one may deceive himself. Sometimes men have given liberally to a good cause, hoping that their good deed would even up an act of dishonesty. Many a church or hospital or school has been endowed because the giver thought his doing so would smother his feelings of regret or soothe the fretting of a wounded conscience. Temptation to such insincerity has come to us in little things or greater, but the sincere heart will not yield.

To be honest with self means to look things over with an unfeigned heart and to do right because it is right. When we do good that we might appear right in spite of deception in the heart, we deceive ourselves. If we are trying this, our true selves will come out when we least expect it. Perhaps more people deceive themselves than are ever deceived by others. It pays to be honest with ourselves all the time.

It is just as necessary to be honest toward others in every act. It was a bitterly cold morning and Betty buttoned her coat up close to her throat as she knew her mother wished her to do.

But it was not because of the cold that she obeyed her mother so carefully about her coat. That morning she had put on a blouse which her mother had asked her not to wear to school and the buttoned coat hid it from her mother’s eyes.

Betty was both disobedient and dishonest. We sometimes think that honesty pertains only to money matters. It is true that we should always be honest to the last penny in all business dealings, but honesty also touches every other department of life.

To copy or to take advantage in any other way at school in order to gain a grade is just as dishonest in its nature as to steal, or to forge a note.

The principle is the same, the difference being only in the magnitude of the deed. To take advantage of the teacher’s back being turned to play pranks is also dishonest. To pretend friendship which one does not feel, to smile and approve to the face and laugh to the back, to be two-faced in anything, is mean and dishonest.

Honesty or dishonesty is shown in every little act of life. It is the honest boy or girl who makes the honest citizen. They are the ones whose lives and influence amount to real good in the world’s work.

To be sincere is to be hearty; that is, to enter into all we do with all our might. She who is sincere will give the best of herself to whatever work she undertakes. Even the humblest tasks become noble if they are performed heartily.

It is a pleasure to watch a girl wash dishes or sweep a floor if she does it with a hearty good will. As for practicing music or studying a lesson, more will be accomplished in half the time if the work is undertaken heartily. The girl who does her work that way is a bit of sunshine in the home. God bless her! She is a comfort and joy.

The sincere girl always makes a satisfactory worker wherever she is put. She does her work with a reasonable degree of rapidity and with a will as if she enjoyed it. Whether she works in an office, in the schoolroom, in the factory, or in the kitchen, whether her work brings her good pay, or whether she is a busy home toiler who gets only her board and clothes, if she is sincere and willing she will be a success. Her eye is not on the clock to see if her time is about up, but her whole attention is upon what she is doing.

Sincere people are hearty in their friendships. Did you ever put your hand into the hand of a friend and have her grasp it with a hearty good will, and look you in the face with a friendly greeting? Did it not do you good? It does others just as much good if you greet them heartily.

Again, I have offered my hand to women who gave me the tips of their fingers in a delicate, afraid-of-you manner that chilled all my ardor. I did not like it, and others will not like it if you meet them that way. The handshake is quite an index to people’s hearts. Those who are hearty and sincere are not afraid to let you know it.

To be sincere is to be unfeigned—no pretension, no putting on. The girl who is sincere means every word she says when she is expressing love and friendship. I need not fear that she is only trying to make an impression on me, nor that she is getting my confidence only to ridicule me later. She is no turncoat and no traitor. It seems to me a girl can have no greater fault than feigning friendship and affection she does not feel. Those who are sincere are real. They are real friends, real students, real sisters, real Christians.

To be sincere is to be frank. Frankness helps a girl to speak right out from the heart what she thinks and feels. But there is a very unpleasant trait that sometimes passes as frankness. That is a disposition to say cutting things. There are many things that are better left unsaid. Even though circumstances have given ample room for severe criticism, it is better to keep the bitter word unsaid, and to speak kindly.

Frankness does not mean that we shall tell people what we think of them and their doings on all occasions. True frankness shows in clear, honest eyes and in a gaze of purity and truth, which brings confidence to all who see it. It will speak out of the eyes when the lips are silent. She who is frank keeps nothing back that changes the meaning of what she says.

Beautiful girlhood can hold no more attractive nor lovable trait than sincerity. When a girl can look with honest eyes and perfect sincerity into life, and can meet the temptations that are sure to come with a heart sincerely set to do God’s will, that girl will succeed. Her life will be a blessing to many. Old and young will be encouraged and strengthened by her presence and friendship.

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“There are those who say that modesty is simply determined by what the culture says it is. I don’t know about you, but I refuse to take modesty advice from our present culture of death! We currently do not live in a sane world, so we cannot use our present culture as a guidepost. We must instead turn to the Wisdom of the Ages, which gives us the particulars of clothing and adornment that is dignified and modest.” – Colleen Hammond, Dressing With Dignity
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