Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Women of Valor: Eshet Chayil!

I promised on Friday to write a post about the women of valor in my life, after having read A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans.

A woman of valor, or eshet chayil in Hebrew, is a blessing you bestow upon women after an achievement great or small. It might be making something from scratch, fixing a hole in the wall, getting your kids to school on time ... Eshet Chayil!

It comes from Proverbs 31, which is a poem about a woman but told using heroic epic language (think David or Hercules). Orthodox Jewish men, according to Evans' book, memorize this to say or sing to their wife during Shabbat.

Actually, I have the perfect picture of me from an interactive play space at the art museum when there was a tapestry exhibition...

Here are the women of valor in my life in no particular order:

Kieu, for fixing my mistake in two places, eshet chayil!

Mum, for washing curtains, eshet chayil!

Clare, for her grooving for the Lord on Sundays and encouraging me to do the same, eshet chayil!

The soprano who came to choir practice even though she had the stomach flu, eshet chayil!

Robin, for cooking the turkey upside down and it still tasted delicious, eshet chayil!

Maxine, for her smile even when her back is killing her, eshet chayil!

Beth, for her passion in blogging, eshet chayil!

Mary Ann, for taking a huge leap into the unknown, eshet chayil!

Rachel, for writing a book that opened my mind (even further!), eshet chayil!


Carolyn, for handling tantrums with calm grace, eshet chayil!

Claudia, for her loving care of her pups, eshet chayil!

Who are the women to whom you can proudly cry eshet chayil! to?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Joy Dare Monday ...

Continuing to count the gifts I find during the day...

1,022. a moment beautiful but forgotten
1,023. clementine
1,024. God holding my hand
1,025. red berries on magnolia
1,026. walk to park
1,027. Flakes (of the chocolate variety)
1,028. only having a minor meltdown over cooking
1,029. the smell of burgundy mushrooms throughout the whole house

totally forgot to take a photo of what they looked like at the end of the 10+ hr process!
1,030. eshet chayil (woman of valor)
1,031. stomach settles for turkey
1,032. marshmallow topping turns out perfectly


1,033. dog's head nestled against my leg, same dog snoring
1,034. up until after midnight reading due to outraged stomach
1,035. ruining art journal page (in progress)
1,036. but fixing it anyway.
1,037. big hug
1,038. "The King of Glory comes" and dancing on the inside (like this)
1,039. the perfect offertory hymn for today's service but no chance to prepare


Am linking this up to Ann Voskamp's "multitudes on Mondays" (or will as soon as it goes up!)

Friday, November 23, 2012

A Year of Biblical Womanhood (review)

Last evening, halfway through reading this book, I found myself leaving blog comments of eshet chayil! (woman of valor) here and there. It's even fun to say because the "ch" sound is kinda as in "loch" with a bit of spit.

By Rachel Held Evans, the full title is A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering her Head, and Calling Her Husband "Master".

Thanks to eating too much rich food on an upset stomach (yay Thanksgiving), I stayed up past midnight to finish reading it.

This may be the third most influential book for 2012. (Rachel doesn't come in third. It's just the third book this year I've found.) For me, I hasten to qualify, for where I am right now in my faith journey. Your mileage may vary, but it is a darn good read.

The other two (in no particular order except the order I read them in) are Ann Voskamp's A Thousand Gifts (which okay, technically I read at the end of 2011), and Emily Freeman's Grace for the Good Girl.

Like those other two books, A Year of Biblical Womanhood is liberating, in ways I am struggling to put into words.

I giggled through A.J. Jacobs' A Year of Living Biblically, but Rachel's book has a different tone. For one, she starts out in a place of belief. The scriptures mean something to her, she wrestles with them, and contemplates them. (But also, I giggled here and there.)

The topic she's tackling is prominent in the evangelical church (from which she hails). Biblical womanhood uses select bible verses to prevent women from teaching in the church, to be submissive to their husbands (ignoring the other half of that Pauline admonition!) and that their life's primary work is to bear and raise children. Oh, and to not let yourself go so that your husband will not be tempted by another woman.  It actually represents more a 1950's understanding of a woman's place (think Mad Men) than an ancient Middle-Eastern/Jewish understanding.

Thankfully, "biblical womanhood" is not a churchwide phenomenon.

Growing up in a church which allows women to be priests (although I was in my teens when I first met a female priest), bishops and presiding bishop, and growing up in a world where the career options for women (in the Western world at least) are dazzling, I was already strong in this understanding of biblical woman being something other than a June Cleaver.

Rachel gave that understanding depth: like the eshet chayil (woman of valor) found in Proverbs 31, a chapter used as a rules-list for the perfect "biblical" woman but which is actually a song of praise for a fearless woman who has met the day's challenges, big or small.

I've been a feminist since I was in high school, so my acceptance expanded when it came to valid career choices for women. Not only church leadership or being CEO, but also raising children, and working as a creative from home. That, in fact, any career free of exploitation and abuse is for a woman's choosing, according to her gifts.

And then she gave me further reading, not just on her blog, but of books to read about how to reduce the damage I cause my less fortunate sisters in this world. I knew about recycling and fair trade, but my eyes were opened to other resources.

Most of all, was the idea that we do not have to be that perfect Proverbs 31 (if one ever felt the guilt from that), or be perfection in any of our roles. We become women of valor through any small good act, any gift, any sacrifice, anything done well, through acting in love.

Although we've been told since Eve was cast as from the devil during the medieval period, we women are not the problem, we are the solution.

Later this week, I plan to write a post about the women of valor in my life. Rachel is now among that number although our lives have never intersected personally. (I don't think knowing someone who lived for a while in her home town counts.)

And in the interests of disclosure, I bought my own copy of this book, waited to read it until I was back from vacation.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Joy Dare: back on track

Now that's it's been a whole week since I've been back from Australia, how has my week been? Honestly, a lot jet-lagged.

I'm still counting gifts even though I achieved 1,000 while I was away.

As I'm only linking to one Joy Dare post on Ann's site, if you want to see the vacation lists in order, here they are:
And speaking of which (vacation, that is) as I've no pictures this week -- mostly due to jetlag, here's one from my trip of a rainbow lorikeet that my hubby took while it was in Mum's backyard:


1,004. joint choir practice
1,005. my upper "F'" squeaking after 3 weeks of not singing
1,006. realizing I have mental clutter (although to be honest it took me 3 days to delete the TV soap instead of straight away)
1,007. I have two homes: one, in the house I grew up in with its love and clutter and now my youngest brother's most excellent cooking; and one, the home I've built with my husband, two dogs and the church family we have found.
1,008. the screaming in my head from the thing the dentist cleans your teeth with
1,009. clean teeth
1,010. surly checkout guy (and wishing I'd said something encouraging)
1,011. cricket (insect, not the game)
1,012. job interview
1,013. faint rainbow
1,014. laughing with my husband on the couch.
1,015. quiet morning (at least for a couple of hours)
1,016. doing battle with iPhoto which stopped working after the last software update
1,017. insomnia (until 3:00am)
1,018. dog curled up in lap at the end of the day
1,019. signing up for a new class
1,020. smoke from altar candle adrift in the air
1,021. bopping out to Adele

Am linking this up to Ann Voskamp's "multitudes on Mondays" (or will as soon as it goes up!)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

A Ticket to Venice

Venice is at the top of my list for overseas destinations (other than Australia obviously). Preferably when the city isn't flooded due to one of the king tides, but any other time would be fine. (OK, except Carnivale, because crowds are not my thing.)  I drool over movies like "Casanova" which are set in Venice. (And "The Merchant of Venice") In fact, I even sat through that Angelina Jolie/Johnny Depp film set there.

Truly, any movie featuring the gorgeous landscapes and townscapes of Italy has me sighing.

Weirdly, I love the idea of getting lost in those twisting Venetian alleyways and the thought of coming upon some hidden from the tourists vignette.

But as we just got back from Australia, an European trip isn't on the cards straight away. However ...

Today, Mary Ann Moss opened up registration for a new class called "Ticket to Venice". She's not only going to teach a new binding for the travel journal, but we'll be seeing Venice vicariously through her.


Clicking on the image above will take you to her blog for more info and to register.

I even wore my favorite shirt today in honor of registration opening:


I think it'll make a really neat template for a journal page....


I think I'll be entitling my journal "Vicarious Venice". Which hopefully doesn't sound too much like a vicar's point of view about Venice!

Is there a place you long to go to that you haven't been yet? Any Venice movie recommendations?

Being thankful while traveling #2

The final week of vacation/holidays and the final week of gifts. List for November 5 to 11:


981. Flock of pelicans circling over Mum's house -- and 1 minor bird
982. Catching up with lifelong best friend 
983. Wise ass husband (he says he likes "adorable" better, which he is but he did comment on my frustration while I typed on my phone, saying "patience" is a gift - which I was not expressing at the time.)
984. Auto- correct (when it works)
985. Fancy dresses, hats and fascinators for the Melbourne Cup (and me in shorts and tshirt)
986. Tea cake
987. Not guessing the winner of the Cup.
988. smell of rain
989. Lightning and brief downpour
990. Catching up with cousins
991. Frogs chirping after rain
992. Hair cut
993. Henny Penny gravy 
994. Three red poppies
995. Evening walk in Cooks Hill
996. Walking in gentle rain
997. Thinking of criteria of what kind of house I'd like in Australia
998.  Meandering in Morpeth




999. Enjoyable night out
1000. Proper bacon (on toast)
1001. Giggling nephew #2
1002. missed luggage
1,003. home

Am linking this up to Ann Voskamp's "multitudes on Mondays" (or will as soon as it goes up!)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Being thankful while traveling

This is me continuing to catch up on sharing the epic list of gifts God has given. Below I list a couple of  gifts about Rathmines and a Catalina -- this was of note because my grandfather flew in one of these during WWII.

Also, I have never seen so many wild kangaroos in my life.

Also and also, I made my hubby take a picture of "proper" clouds and forgot to add it as a gift. So consider this image a bonus:


On with the list (from October 29 to November 4):

953. Painting with nephews


954. Pink-gold almost full moon
955. Kangaroo and joey hopping
956. 4 kangaroos in the "back paddock"



957. The slower pace of a carriage ride (spotting more kangaroos)
958. Standing in front of two draft horses while carriage rigging is fixed.
959. Turkish delight gelato
960. Night time kangaroo spottings (count for the last 2 days is 18 although we may have seen the same family grouping three times now)
961. Countryside night sounds (cicadas, frogs, occasional bird cry)
962. Fairy wrens

male fairy wren: do not stay still long enough to focus, but my hubby captured this one!
963. Roses floating


964. Dragonflies
965. Not being able to access data in an app until I upgrade to new version (not happening while overseas!)
966. Hot blustery day
967. Quiet moment with rosary
968. Mushroom risotto 
969. Nephew #1's little wave
970. Walk
971. All souls service
972. Thinking of rewriting a novel 
973. Long slow traffic into Rathmines (3,000 expected, 15,000 showed up)
974. Watching the Catalina come in


975.  Morning tea
976. Missy snoring
977. Cwm Rhondda
978. Water fight with Nephew #1
979. Nephew #2's cheeky grin
980. BBQ seemed to go okay

Am linking this up to Ann Voskamp's "multitudes on Mondays" (or will as soon as it goes up!)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Catching up on the Joy Dare


While on vacation/holidays, I kept writing down God's gifts and reached the target of 1,000 gifts while away. It's a three weeks long list, so I'm going to break it up in week-sized posts. Hopefully this will be a slightly less annoying "what I did on my holidays"...

Week of October 20 to October 28 (my last Joy Dare post was shortened 'cause I had to post it early)

924. Flight delayed 3+ hours
925. God provides: flight canceled
926. Morning rainbow
927. Stuck on plane waiting for take off
928. Landing 
929. Even if 14+ hours later
930. Cozy bed
931. Geese
932. Jet-lagged
933. Smell of Mum's sheets
934. Finding interment sites of great-grands and gran
935. St. Michael's chapel: the warrior's chapel. They shall not grow old...


936. Painting mum's toenails
937. Mushroom gravy
938. Quiet morning 
939. A little bit of art
940. Seeing Dad's new place (and him reaching out)
941. Think I have a cold
942. Mud brick monastery - so peaceful and quiet
943. Chapel altar


944. Big lizard/skink
945. Meeting Suze
946. Definitely have a cold
947. Dawn thru closed eyes
948. Playing with nephews
949. Wee hours conversation with youngest brother
950. Raucous morning flock of sulphur-crested cockatoos
951. "Find a vanilla slice" mission accomplished
952. Missy spinning in excited circles to get dinner


Am linking this up to Ann Voskamp's "multitudes on Mondays" (or will as soon as it goes up!)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Making time for what's important...

I've been on vacation (holidays) to Australia for the past three weeks, hence the silence. There is much to post about, but I am going to start with what is uppermost on my mind.

The amount of time I waste.

I came home to a DVR that was 99% full (and some episodes had been deleted in our absence) and over 400 blog posts in Google Reader. There would have been more, but I had snuck on a time or two to do some whittling down and had started catching up once we landed in San Francisco and were waiting for the plane home.

This is out of control. I actually felt the pinch of wasting time while staying at my Mum's but have come to realize that my getting online in the morning is equivalent to her turning on morning television -- it stops both of us from doing what we want to do, which in my case is morning prayer and meditation.

I had plans today to spend a good chunk of quiet time just being, but now I think I need to clear some mental clutter first.

I am going to stop watching three TV shows (one of them is a guilty pleasure, a soap I've watched since I was little).

I had deleted some blog subscriptions before I left, but not many and now I have put all the remaining blog subscriptions (all 103 of them) into three different categories: keep, if I have time, and remove.

I am now down to 63 subscriptions.

The keep category are those that I did not want to skim through -- they are still unread actually but I want to devote time and attention to them, which is something I didn't have with 400+ posts to read.

The if I have time category is just that -- if I have time to read them, I will, otherwise I'll click "Mark all as read" and refuse to feel guilty about it -- and after a week or two will go through another winnowing. Some may go, some may move to the keep category and some will stay where they are.

I came home with an urge to winnow out my cook books and printed recipes -- and have two new cookbooks to add there. *sigh*

I came home with an urge to winnow out my closet again too.

In case you're worried about asceticism, I'm planning to buy a new tea pot (for one as opposed to the "for many" teapots I already have. Yes, plural. There are three.)

The point of all this is that I spent a day and a half catching up on blogs in between watching television, doing the laundry, putting things away, and planning and shopping for this week's meals. I could have achieved a whole lot more, but today is a new day and a new start and I'm not going to beat myself up about it, just make a few changes.

To make room for what's important.

Like this guy did after the plane he was on landed on the Hudson River. (the link is to a TED talk on YouTube by Rick Elias that  I found in my Facebook newsfeed this morning)

What are your time wasters? How do you manage them?