Tuesday, 27 March 2012

The Verse - Psalm 130

Just to let you know, this is actually Hannah's husband Luke, doing a "guest appearance". Recently, I have been reading the Psalms, as part of my program of going through the entire Bible. The Psalms are not only a collection of hymns for praise and worship, but also an amazing source of theological insight. The other day I read the 130th Psalm, which apparently is one of 7 "penitential" psalms, or prayers of repentance. The most well-known of these seven is of course Psalm 51. Number 130 is also a "Song of Ascents", which means it was a hymn sung by pilgrims on their "ascent" to Jerusalem for one of the major national feasts. It is quite a short text: only eight verses, composed of four sections on related topics. However, its main point is far deeper than its size might lead one to believe: it teaches that despite man's total sinfulness, God is faithful and merciful to forgive us if we repent and trust in Him.

Out of the depths I have cried to You, O Lord;
Lord, hear my voice!
Let Your ears be attentive
To the voice of my supplications.

The Psalms often talk about people crying out to the Lord in the middle of severe distress or penitence over sin. Another good example of this kind of plea is Jonah's prayer from the belly of the whale (Jonah 2:2-9). These passages of Scripture show us clearly that God always hears us when pray to him for forgiveness or aid - no matter when or where we are (see Psalm 139:9-10). In this psalm, as in Jonah's case, the author is both repenting of sin and asking for deliverance from trouble.

If You, Lord, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with You,
That You may be feared.

These two verses contain such an incredible message. Verse 3 points out that if God judged everyone based on every sin they had ever committed, nobody would be blameless before Him in the day of judgment. (And by "sin", I mean everything we have failed to do, as well as all we have done wrong.) This short text reveals that if salvation were by works alone, the entire human race would fail the test, and we would suffer God's wrath. Then verse 4 gives the good news: There is forgiveness with God - not by works, but by His grace. He has provided a way for sinners to be saved through the atoning work of His Son, Jesus Christ. And why has He done this? So that He "may be feared". In other words, God did not save us because of any intrinsic worth that we possess. Instead, He did it primarily for His glory - so that He might be praised throughout all eternity for the marvellous work of redemption He has performed. This teaching can also be seen in Jeremiah 33:8-9, when the Lord speaks about how He will cleanse and redeem the people of Israel, so that He might be glorified and feared among all nations. God's salvation plan was also motivated by His love and mercy (John 3:16).

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
And in His word I do hope.
My soul waits for the Lord
More than those who watch for the morning—
Yes, more than those who watch for the morning.

Here the psalmist declares confidence and trust in God's Word, for He is faithful and unchanging. Psalm 46 is a similar expression of trust.

O Israel, hope in the Lord;
For with the Lord there is mercy,
And with Him is abundant redemption.
And He shall redeem Israel
From all his iniquities.

In this conclusion, the psalm tells us to hope in the Lord, because He is merciful. It was because of the Lord's mercy and love that He died for us on the cross, providing a way for us to be redeemed by His blood. His sacrifice is "abundant" - it is perfectly effective to redeem us from all our sins, past, present and future. (See Hebrews 8:25-29, 9:11-15). What a wonderful God and Saviour!


Sunday, 25 March 2012

The Dress - Perfect Purple

Time for another fashion post. Everything in this outfit I bought in Taiwan, minus the shoes. I don't know about you, but I hate buying fast-fashion pieces. I honestly don't see the point. I'd much rather buy something well made and classic that I will wear for years, than something cheap and badly made that will only be used for a couple of months. 

Interesting fact: this is actually almost the exact outfit I wore when Luke and I went on our first official date back in September 2009, so I always get slightly nostalgic when wearing it.

Shirt: Ignite
I bought this shirt from Farmers just before I started working at the Earthquake Commission as a temp in September 2010. I have never actually bought that much clothing from Farmers, because to be honest I find most of their stock really ugly. However, I love my Farmers Beauty Card; it's a really great reward program and I try to buy all my stockings and make-up there.

Cardigan: Mango
This cardigan is from Mango in Taiwan. It was definitely a great investment, as it goes with a lot of my summer dresses, and I love this shade of purple. It's also good quality, which means it has lasted and lasted through many wears and washes.

Skirt: JoJoBa
I saw this skirt while walking down the street in central Taipei and instantly fell in love. In case you haven't noticed, I am drawn towards patterns, and I loved this geometric design. The skirt is very light and swishy, and I think the pleats are really flattering. I went into the shop and tried it on with a white shirt, which had huge diamante buttons down the front - very Asian, but not very me. So I bought the skirt but left the shirt behind. The next time I was walking past the shop, I saw a mannequin wearing the exact outfit I had tried on!


Until next time :)

The Outing - Newtown Fair

A few weekends ago, Luke and I had a Sunday afternoon free, so we decided to check out the Newtown Fair.

This seems to be the latest fad. Teacup bird feeders: cute but not really necessary. Plus, I'm not too pleased with the birds at our place, as they seem to be extremely talented at defecating on our nice white sheets whenever they're hanging on the washing line!

Nothing tastes better than free lemonade icy poles. :)

 No fair would be complete without some kind of ride for the kiddies. 

And, of course, some kind of sideshow game with clowns. However, to be honest I never understood the attraction of these. I'd much prefer to buy something rather than win a prize that I'd probably throw out after less than a year. 
These were great fun. Kind of optical illusion things. No idea what you do with them, but they were pretty neat.

There are lots of wind sculptures and garden ornaments in Wellington, but I have to confess I have never seen one made out of paua shells before.

This photo makes me smile. 

I can't remember this local band's name, but they were pretty good. Nice rhythms, harmonies and tunes. I also loved the references to Wellington in their lyrics.

Until next time :)

Thursday, 22 March 2012

The Song - The Chain

So my wonderful sister-in-law Bex introduced me to Ingrid Michaelson about a year and a half ago. I was probably a bit late on the uptake, but I haven't looked back since.

Ingrid Michaelson, in case you haven't heard, is a New York-based indie-pop singer-songwriter. You might have heard her music on such shows as Scrubbs, Bones, Grey's Anatomy, The Big C, and One Tree Hill. But since I have not watched any of those shows, I'm not surprised that I had never heard of her.

She has a truly wonderful voice, and is immensely talented. It's very hard for me to choose a favourite song of hers, but if I had to, I think I would choose The Chain. It's just so hauntingly beautiful, and I really love songs sung in rounds. So here it is for your listening pleasure:

I have to say, I love how much she wears her glasses. It makes me proud to be bespectacled.

Until next time :)


Wednesday, 21 March 2012

The Holiday - Montage 5

When Luke and I went to Australia, which now seems like a very long time ago, we had a holiday inside a holiday (very "meta" of us, really). We went up to a place called Nambucca Heads, which is where my grandfather lives. Nambucca Heads is about an hour's drive south of Coffs Harbour, which is around 4 hours north of Sydney. I'd honestly have to say that Nambucca Heads is one of the most beautiful places in Australia. The sun is always shining, and the temperature never drops below 25.

 The motel where we stayed seemed to have a colony of lizards. They were called water dragons, and although they appeared quite shy at first, we soon discovered that you should not feed them because it makes them kind of crazy.
 Fish and chips on the beach. Can you think of anything more iconically Australian? Actually I think it's originally a British thing, but never mind.
 Time for some poses.

 We stayed for three days, and I really didn't want to leave. It's such a quiet, peaceful sort of place. During the summer it's always full of tourists, or "terrorists" as the locals say. The beaches and the sunshine make it easy to see why so many people choose to retire here.
 Luke admiring the mosaic wall in the middle of town.

 We also got to catch up with my Pop's next door neighbours, Margaret and Michael. They have been so good to my Pop in his old age and I really consider these guys like family. It was so wonderful to see them.
Painting the rocks along the foreshore is a tourist tradition that has been carried on for many years in Nambucca. It's a great custom: some rocks show family trees that have grown numerous branches as children and grandchildren are added. Other families have recorded every year they holidayed in Nambucca, some for more than 10 years in a row! Still more rocks are declarations of love: "Will you marry me?" is written on quite a few. I've been coming to Nambucca to visit my grandparents since I was a little girl, and I had always wanted to paint my own picture on one of the rocks.
So this year, Luke and I decided to decorate our own rock.
The artists at work.

Us with our masterpiece.
In case you were wondering what it actually says... above the love heart is Luke's Chinese name; in the middle is the character for "love"; and below it is my Chinese name. We thought it would be amusing because most people will assume that it was painted by Chinese tourists. But only we will know the truth. I guess it also pays tribute to us meeting in Taiwan.
Doesn't it look pretty?
Some more posing by the beach. We also watched a pod of dolphins swim by, although they came up too small on the camera.

Holiday pics.
You really forget all your troubles looking out at a scene like this.
As I mentioned, our primary reason for going was to spend time with my Pop. So here are some photos with us and him.
My pop and I have a very special relationship, with our own personal jokes. It was so precious to spend time with him. Grandparents are such special people, and it is so important that we appreciate them and let them know how much we love them and how much they mean to us. 

Until next time :)

Monday, 19 March 2012

The Review - Jane Eyre

So since Luke and I got married, we have taken to the habit of reading aloud to each other. I guess it's due to the fact that we don't have a TV, which to be honest we really don't miss. Of course we watch our favourite TV shows and movies on DVD, but many evenings are also spent curled up with a book, reading chapters in turn. In the past 18 months, we have read: Harry Potter 1-5, Elizabeth Gaskell's North & South, Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, Tolkien's The Hobbit, F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, Terry Pratchett's Wyrd Sisters, and Agatha Christie's The Mysterious Affair at Styles. It's quite fun reading novels together, especially Harry Potter. You see, I have read all the Harry Potter books, but this is the first time Luke has read them, so it's great fun watching him try to guess what's going to happen next. Luke is a great reader, and I maintain that he could be on the radio.

One thing I especially love is reading a book and then watching the movie. As you can see, we are all prepared for when The Hobbit and The Great Gatsby finally make it to the cinema. So when I heard early last year that yet another screen adaptation of Jane Eyre was coming out, I knew it was time for me to finally read the book.

I actually started reading Jane Eyre without Luke. However, I was so captivated by it that from the first few pages I would constantly update him about what was happening in the story. When he asked how work was,  I would reply, "You'll never guess what Mr. Rochester said to Jane today." Okay, I admit work was deathly boring at the time I was reading this book. Over time, Luke's curiosity grew so much that he asked if we could read it together, which we did.

I have to say that if you have never read Jane Eyre, then you really should, though I have discovered from my friends it is one of those things that people either love or hate. I, for one, think it is an incredible read. I have never read another book with first-person narrative where the main character seemed so real and life-like. Well ahead of its time, Jane Eyre is a fictional autobiography of a girl's journey into womanhood, with strong social criticisms, independent ideas about class and feminism, and romantic moody gothic fiction all wrapped into one.

The recent film adaptation is also very worthwhile. Although fans of books know that no movie can ever do the story justice, this one succeeds pretty well. Jane Eyre is really more suited to a miniseries, but given its popularity some kind of film adaptation is done on average every five years. I can only surmise that this is because it will always draw a crowd, and it's also a really cheap epic movie to make. All you need is some beautiful countryside, an old mansion, and a few period costumes, and you're done.

So without further ado, here are some photos from the 2011 film. As you can probably tell from the photos, the cinematography is beautiful - the English landscapes are just stunning. I quite enjoyed how the film starts in a pivotal place halfway through the novel and then jumps back to the start. Mia Wasikowska does a great job as Jane, strong yet delicate, and although Michael Fassbender isn't how I had pictured Mr. Rochester, he definitely grows on you as the movie progresses. Plus it has Judi Dench in it, one of my all-time favourite actresses. But you should really read the book before seeing the movie.

The trailer:

Until next time :)