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As a writer, needle artist and photographer, I invite you to share my pursuits with me on this site. Among other things, there is a weekly post called “D-mail” that examines the spiritual meaning in current stories, both personal and news events.  I invite your comments at  cathycongerblog@gmail.com

“The act of putting pen to paper encourages pause for thought, this in turn makes us think more deeply about life, which helps us regain our equilibrium.”  N. Platt

D-mail for the week of August 19, 2010Scripture: Proverbs 31; I Peter 3:3-4 ; Galations 5:22

TIPS FOR THE BEAUTIFUL WOMAN

It has come to my attention that August is Beautiful Women Month. How about that? Each of us women have a whole month dedicated to our ravishing beauty! Don’t think you are a beautiful woman? Sure, all of us feel a bit lacking when compared to the air- brushed photos of perfectly made-up movie stars and let’s face it, some of us didn’t come into this world with the perfect features our world has determined makes a beauty. And then there is the inner beauty of women like Mother Theresa and Ruth Graham. I’ll never measure up to that standard either. But every woman has beauty in God’s sight. That’s a fact, ladies. It’s just that some women hide it behind guilt, sin, anger, jealousy, depression, and vanity. You’ve met her - the drop-dead gorgeous woman with the svelt figure, pure complexion, full, shiny hair and beautiful eyes who captures everyone’s gaze when she walks in the room … that is until she opens her mouth. No physical beauty can make up for a loud, grating voice or filthy, course language or hurtful, vain remarks. You’ve also met the plain woman who attracts little attention until you get to see her heart in action. No physical beauty can compare with her kind, sweet and generous nature which she pours out to everyone in her world.

My daughter, who has been visiting us this summer, likes to read Vogue magazine. I have to admit, there are some gorgeous women pictured there. Even though I know I’ll never look like any of them, I still strive to wear my hair in a flattering style and color (yes, I color my hair!), wear the best quality and fit in clothing I can afford, take advantage of the break-through science in facial creams and cosmetics, and work on toning my body (OK, so I have a long way to go on that one). I exercise my intellect though, and work at graceful carriage and speech, leaning on the Lord to help me with a gentle, quiet spirit, generosity, kindness, and all the other fruits of the Spirit (Galations 5:22). On those days when I feel as attractive as a slug, with about the same amount of grace and winsomeness, I try to remember that in God’s eyes, I am beautiful. That’s the message I have for you during this Beautiful Women Month. You are beautiful!!

My beautiful Christian friend and writer, Caye, sent me the following poem written by Sam Levenson and quoted by actress and humanitarian, Audrey Hepburn in a 1992 interview. Born in Belgium in 1929, Audrey grew up in harsh circumstances in German-occupied Amheim, Belgium before and during World War II, starved to the point where malnutrition stunted her growth and caused life-long health problems. After the war, she became a professional ballerina and model, moving to England in 1948. Not knowing what love was, she grew up to experience failed marriages, emotional problems, and destructively low self-esteem. And yet, she learned to show love to others.

Inspired by the memories of her suffering and hunger as a child, in her later years, Ms Hepburn spent much of her time working in countries where children were starving, orphaned and in danger. She represented UNICEF as a Goodwill Ambassador from 1988 to 1992, traveling to stricken countries in Africa, South America, and Asia. In 1992 she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her work as Goodwill Ambassador. She died in Switzerland in 1993, having been voted the third most popular actress of all time. She was loved. As strikingly beautiful as she was, she never believed it. And yet, when once asked to share her “beauty tips”, she wrote this poem.

BEAUTY TIPS

For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair, let a child run his/her fingers through it once a day.
For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone.
People, even more than things, have to be restored,
renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed;
never throw out anyone.
Remember, if you ever need a helping hand,
you will find one at the end of each of your arms.
As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands;
one for helping yourself, and the other for helping others.

Sam Levenson

From the words she admired in this poem, I believe that somewhere along the way, Audrey Hepburn must have learned the lessons of Proverbs 31 and Galations 5: 22 , the qualities of a woman of noble character.

Proverbs 31: 8, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

Proverbs 31: 25-26 “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction is on her tongue.”

Galations 5: 22 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

Do we wish to become beautiful women in the sight of both and man? Attend to the words of the Apostle Peter,

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as the braiding of hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight…

vs 8-9 “Live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers and sisters, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.”

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I would like to stop here to dedicate this D-mail to my dear friend, Sandy Larson, a woman I loved and looked up to as the beautiful woman scripture describes. She went home to be with Jesus on July 21st, but while she was with us, she walked in grace and beauty and changed the lives of many. She is profoundly missed.

Prayer
Lord God,
Thank you for those women, like Sandy, who went before us as role models for beautiful and righteous living. Thank you for the beauty and love we’ve received from our mothers, sisters, daughters, and girlfriends. Help us to see the beauty behind a sister’s crooked nose or excess weight, behind awkward social skills or depressed circumstances, behind cruel upbringings or rough personalities, behind slow minds or physical disabilities, even behind a perfect body and ample means. And show us how to celebrate that beauty that you have always seen. Teach each of us to walk with Jesus in the the beauty of his light in order to shine that beauty into dark places. Amen

I realize that I haven’t posted anything for quite a while.  This is the busiest summer I think I’ve ever had!  In early July our clan gathered up on Lake Superior for the annual family vacation.  We rented a house on Madeline Island in the Apostle Islands.  We took the car ferry out to the island and stayed put. There were so many things to do out there.  We had perfect weather - so warm that we could actually stand to swim a bit in Lake Superior!  We had an interesting house called Next Farm Down.  On a large, grassy lot facing the lake the house actually consisted of three separate buildings connected by a huge wrap- around deck.  There was a fire pit and a small beach with a long, wide pier to sunbathe on.  Our granddaughter celebrated her 3rd birthday while we were there.  Twice we spent the afternoon at the county beach, which was sandy and not far from our house.  Only Chuck and Andrea had energy to go see the fireworks on July 4th.  One afternoon one bunch went kayaking while another rented a large sailboat and sailed around several of the Apostle islands.  We even picked raspberries at a berry farm!

Our two grandchildren (3 and 1) and our daughter-in-law went home with us and spent a week.  Next thing I knew, it was time for me to attend the University of Wisconsin School of the Arts in Rhinelander, WI.  I took a playwriting class and a short story writing class.  The week gave me the opportunity to finish my full length Christmas play!  The class did a read through of most of it and it was well received.  I came home and crashed after that.  After a few days sleep, we drove to our son’s (the one with the kids) in Ames, Iowa.  I stayed on while my husband went home to work in order to help with the kids while they moved to Colorado.  What a week!  In 98 degree heat with 100% humidity, we finished packing.  Their friends came to help load the truck.  It was so miserably hot!  Then 2 torrential rainstorms came which thwarted the loading and deposited over 9 inches of rain in 2 days!  The day we finally got off, the Skunk River and Squaw Creek were above flood stage.  A few hours after we left, they closed all roads in and out of town, the power went out all over town, the Iowa Sate campus flooded, as did all of the low-lying ground, and a water main connecting the city water tower to the area broke, cutting off any clean water for consumption.  And the heat index was 120 degrees!  We got out just in time.  Thirteen frazzled hours later, we arrived at the kids’ new apartment near Boulder, CO.  It was still hot, but no humidity and it cooled down at night.  They also have access to a lovely pool - which is where I watched the kids as often as possible while boxes were being unloaded and unpacked.  We slept on aerobeds on the floor and woke each morning to a spectacular view of the Rockies!  I flew to O’Hare from Denver on Friday.  My youngest daughter, an archeology grad student, was flying out the same day from O’Hare to Turkmenistan to work on a dig for 6 weeks.  I was able to see her off.

I’ve been sleeping and tending to my fibromyalgia pain since getting home.  This weekend we help mmove another of our children!  This time to Indiana University where she’ll begin her doctoral program in anthropology.  Her belongings are everywhere in the house, but Friday she and my husband will load up the trusty U Haul and we’ll head to Indiana on Saturday.  Upon returning, I will be diligently sewing 8 bridesmaid dresses for our middle son’s wedding October 17th in Portland, OR.  Like I said, “What a summer!”

I’ll post the current D-mail and maybe I can post some other things in my abundant free time (Ha Ha) I have some beautiful photos from Lake Superior to share as well as shots of the grandchildren too, so check in again!