Something New…

February 1, 2015

Tess and I are cooking up a new look and feel for The Feminine Gift.  
Stay tuned...

Getting linked: the inspirational, informative, and the funny from around the internet

January 21, 2015

Let's take a walk on the lighter side. This week I'd like to take you on a tour of some of my favourite places to visit online.

Fun girly YouTube channels
Every now and then a girl needs to be a girl. YouTube abounds with makeup gurus and how-to videos of all sorts, but some are definitely better - and more fun - than others. Here are two I like:

Lisa Eldridge
Lisa is a professional makeup artist from Britain. She really knows her stuff, and has a restrained delivery style (believe me when I say this is not always the case!). Plus, we know that anything spoken with a British accent is a delight to hear, and must always be true.

The Daily Connoisseur
Jennifer L. Scott spent six months in Paris as a student. While there, she became entranced with the principles of French chic in matters of style and daily living. The author of two books, she now also has a YouTube channel and blog in which she shares her ideas of living with, and enjoying, the very best you have in your life. Don't hide your best dishes away, use them!

Fun girly blogs
Blogs for women abound online, covering every topic imaginable. Here are two I like to visit regularly:

The Nester
This blog is a breath of fresh air. It's about home d├ęcor, but for 'the rest of us', those of us who are not represented by the glossy magazines of perfectly perfect homes with not a thing out of place. The Nesting Place is about using what you already own and loving your home.  Delightful!

Need a laugh?  Want to pretend your best friend is as southern as can be?  Visit BooMama, and visit often.

Because it's beautiful
This one I'm including to provide you a place to dream about living in a gorgeous chateau in the South of France. It's fodder for day dreams:

Chateau de Gudanes
The pictures are what does it for me. I don't really keep track of anything else that happens on this site, I just scroll through the photos and sigh at all the beauty.  This lovely old chateau (this was once someone's home.  Imagine!) is undergoing renovation, and we get to follow along - without the bother of plaster dust and recalcitrant tradesmen.

Because it's Catholic
Into every life a little learning must fall:

Word on Fire
I'd dearly love to invite Father Barron to dinner, so I could sit and listen to him talk. On any subject. He covers current events, pop culture, apologetics, and catechesis. Typically he sits in front of rows and rows of books which is distracting because I find myself wanting to browse the titles, but he has the remarkable gift of distilling complex topics into manageable, logical pieces. Catch the fire!

Because he makes cooking fun
For those moments of cookery confusion:

Chef John's Food Wishes YouTube channel
I mentioned above that not all YouTube tutorials are equal. Some presenters blather on far too long, so that the viewer forgets what they were searching for. Or by the time they finally get on to showing you how to prepare the perfect rice, your pot has boiled dry.  Chef John will not leave you in such straights. He will teach you techniques and recipes, but best of all he does it with a wonderful sense of humour. 

Because it's British. And funny.
Do you have a love of all things British?

A YouTube channel full of humour to teach you about British pop culture, language, accents, and food. Tally Ho!

Do you have favourite YouTube gurus or internet sites you like to visit?  Share in the comment box below.

Captivating: A Book Review

January 15, 2015

When my husband read John Eldredge’s book, Wild at Heart, several years ago, the insights it contained spoke to him.  John Eldredge has a way of shedding light on the mysterious heart of a man, and suggestions for the healing of the brokenness contained within it.  His thoughts deeply resonated with Jason - putting words to things that Jason only instinctively knew or felt, but couldn’t describe.   It all made sense to us.  We both could easily see (I read the book too) how valuable and true Mr. Eldredge’s insights were and as much as we could we began to pay attention to Jason’s heart in the struggles we faced. 

And then the Eldredges came out with a book for women - Captivating.  And what Wild at Heart does for men, Captivating does for women. 

This book is a breath of fresh air for femininity in crisis.  Not only is it laid out well and easy to read, but it also has a depth and clarity that you don’t find in books about the topic.  Human beings are mysterious to themselves and it’s rare to find someone that is able to clarify yourself…to yourself. 

There are things this book doesn’t do.  Captivating doesn’t add to your to-do list.  It doesn’t give you a checklist of 10 things you have to do before you can be healed or offer a step-by-step approach to being more feminine.  What it does do is lay open the heart of a woman, it gives real life examples of how that heart is wounded and then offers suggestions and encourages you to prayer, counseling and/or medical intervention - whatever is required for you to find peace and healing.   Every woman has deep desires - questions that need answering.  According to the Eldredges, every woman needs to be romanced and pursued, longs for an irreplaceable part in a great adventure and desires to unveil a beauty which is all her own.  And at the heart of these desires are her questions:  Do you see me?  Am I lovely?  Am I worth fighting for?   And the answers she is given by those around her (who represent God at different times) deeply affect how a woman goes about her daily life: how she reacts under pressure and stress and especially affects the choices and decisions she makes for herself.  If someone (ie. Her father or mother) has told her, over and over again, subtly or not-so-subtly, that she is not lovely and that she is not worth fighting for, it is devastating to her, and that false understanding of herself is reflected in her life choices.   

I’ve read Captivating twice now, cover to cover, and gone back to quote it more times than I can count.  It still makes me teary and gets me fired up, all at the same time.  One small thing: while this book isn’t written specifically from a Catholic perspective, nothing in their writings struck me as glaringly problematic for Catholics.  In fact, John and Stasi are surprisingly refreshing in their use of quotes and sentiments from saints and Catholic writers.  They are also very in tune with the spiritual world.   

That being said, I would still encourage you to read the book (and Wild at Heart) with the eye of a critic, while pondering the universal truths of which they speak.  I suspect that you’ll find something in their writing that is relevant to your life and healing to your heart. 

Extraordinary love in ordinary lives, and Epiphany

January 7, 2015

Welcome, dear Reader, as we begin our fourth year at The Feminine Gift. We’re so glad you’re here!

It’s hard to sustain constant merriment, isn’t it? It’s delightful for a time, and we give it our all, but eventually, even chocolate loses its appeal when enjoyed on a constant basis. So it’s with some relief that with the Feast of the Epiphany this week, we bid farewell to Christmas and return to regular routines. We have feasted well, and having given it all we’ve got, are now ready to resume ordinary life.

While ordinary life – for most of us – really is ordinary, full of the mundane such as jobs, bills, and housework, the supernatural reality is that life isn’t ordinary at all, but rather is full of extraordinary moments. The Feast of the Epiphany reminds us of that.

Three Kings ~ Olga Everaert
The Epiphany is a wonderful event in our Christian story. Epiphany means ‘manifestation’ or ‘striking appearance’, as in the manifestation of the divinity of Christ. In modern language, epiphany is defined as ‘a sudden or profound realization’, an aha! moment. Both meanings are present when the Magi, the three foreign kings, followed the star to Bethlehem and beheld the Christ Child. His divine nature was made manifest to them, and they had the profound realization of who the Infant really is. How humbled they must have been, those great kings! I imagine they were transformed by that moment, and went on to share their wonder at their discovery with others for the rest of their lives. Imagine then those people, who heard of what those three men experienced, later on hearing stories of a man who preached a gospel of love, spoke of the Kingdom of God; a man who was crucified, and rose from death as He promised He would. Do you suppose those people connected the stories as being about the same person?

Though the actual Epiphany happened in one moment in time, in a nondescript stable in a far away country, we can have moments of epiphany – recognizing the Presence of Christ - in our very ordinary lives. The three wise men show us how this is possible:

1.  Use the wisdom God gave you. This is not to say that your own intelligence is all that is needed, but it is a key ingredient. God gave you some smarts, and they are a good place to start.

2.  Watch for the signs. It will hardly ever be a star; it probably won’t be actual writing on the wall, but if you are attentive, you will see them. How does God speak to you? Have you heard His voice while reading scripture? During a conversation with a friend? In the quiet of your own heart?

3. Follow.  That means move. Act. Be obedient to the prompting that steps one and two encourage you to take.

4. Recognize Christ when He is revealed to you. You and I aren’t trekking the desert, and we aren’t kneeling at that crib, but we do encounter Christ in our daily life. It happens in the obvious ways: an older sibling helping a younger brother; a stranger giving money to someone in need; a tired dad playing a game of pickup with his son. But if our eyes are open we will see that Christ is present where we might least expect to see Him.  I can’t tell you where that is, but encourage you to be on the watch for Him.

So that is our Epiphany – discovering Christ in our daily life.  Those encounters are efficacious to our spiritual growth, but how about we use them to in turn encourage others in their daily walk?  What if we, like I imagine the Magi did, share our stories of how we came to know Jesus? 

Don’t get nervous – not all of us are called to preach.  Most of us will probably do that sharing through how we live our lives and by being witnesses of how Christ changes hearts. Best of all, we can share the love we’ve been given with everyone we encounter in our very ordinary lives. (I’ll try to remember that the next time I’m faced with a cranky library patron!)

This is mostly heart-stuff, something that women are more naturally inclined toward. We, each of us women, has the capacity and the opportunity to touch many lives for the good just by being aware of how Christ is present to us, and how very much He loves us.

And there is nothing ordinary in that.

Adoration of the Magi
Gentile da Fabriano


New Year

January 1, 2015

And so it ends; 2014 draws to a close and we look forward to what the new year will bring.
Sarah and I pray that there will be peace, knowledge, consolation, and joy for you in 2015. We look forward to continuing this journey of exploring the feminine gift with you, and thank you all for being with us - knowing you are there means so much to us!

On this Solemnity of Mary, the holy mother of God, we dedicate ourselves to Our Lady under the patronage of Edith Stein - St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.

Happy New Year!

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