Wednesday, 27 November 2013

The Outing - Film Noir Ball

So a few weekends ago (and I literally mean a few, see how good I'm getting at posting relatively frequently - hooray for me!), Luke and I attended the swing dancing event of the year: the Windy Lindy Ball. This year's theme was Film Noir - which I had to admit I had to research a little bit.

I was planning on wearing just a "normal" 1940s dress, the dress that Luke got me for my birthday, which would have been fine. However, on the morning of the ball I went op shopping with a good friend of mine and found the perfect dress. A long fittted black dress, it fits me so well you'd think it was tailored. And better yet, I could dance in it.

Anyhow, so at the actual event they had a photographer who was taking shots of people in Film Noir poses. So Luke and I thought we'd give it a go. What do you think, could we be Film Noir stars?

 Artful Dodge Photography

 Artful Dodge Photography 

The ball was great fun. We danced until late in an atmospheric studio with film noir clips playing on a screen in the background. Everyone was decked out in wonderful costumes - there was even a guy wearing an entirely black outfit complete with black balaclava (it was incredible, at a distance he looked like a shadow). It was probably one of the best Windy Lindies that Full Swing have put on, and we look forward to seeing what the next one is like!

Until next time :)

Thursday, 21 November 2013

The Dress - Qipao Power!

While living in Taiwan, I decided the one thing I really needed before I returned home was a qipao (a traditional Chinese dress). You know how it is. I wanted to get one that was kind of modern and also not too expensive. So one Saturday my friend Emily and I headed off to Wufenpu (pronounced Woo Fen Poo), the largest outdoor market in all of Taipei. It is HUGE. Think of the largest shopping mall you know, and then picture it all on one floor with fabric instead of walls, bags of clothes instead of racks, crazy tiny mazes of paths, and so much clothing, shoes and handbags that you have no idea where to look. I hate to think how many tourists have gone missing in this labyrinth. 

So obviously Emily and I didn't get lost. Hooray! And as a bonus, I also found this awesome qipao, which believe it or not is an XXL (yes, Taiwanese women are tiny!)

I've worn it a few times, mostly to fancy dress parties. Actually, come to think of it, it's what I changed into after our wedding reception when Luke and I were heading off, so if you like it was also my "Honeymoon outfit." 

When I was at university studying Asian Studies, I actually wrote a paper on Chinese women's clothing and researched the qipao. I'd like to highlight how it really displays the female form, while being conservative with its high collar (and traditionally its length). What I didn't realise, though, was how bloody uncomfortable they are! I literally cannot bend in this dress, and after a while I feel like my arms are going to drop off just below the sleeves due to lack of circulation.

But do you know what? It's pretty. And I still love it, despite it being something of a torture device.
So here's me wearing the qipao before heading off to a "Dress as your ethnicity or whatever ethnicity you would like to be" party.

Qipao: Taiwanese market

Shoes: Faith
Believe it or not, these little white kitten-heel sling backs are actually the shoes I wore to my high school debutante ball when I was 17. I fell in love with them at a shoe shop in Sorrento, Victoria, Australia.

Asian pose!

Until next time :)

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

The Verse - Psalm 86:12

I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart,
    and I will glorify your name forever.

Psalm 86:12 (ESV)

So we've been reading John Piper's book Don't Waste Your Life at our church's Thursday night theology class. It's a great book and I totally recommend it. After all, what could be more important than finding out how not to waste your life? We only get one very brief chance at it, so it really should be everyone's priority.

I digress... so we're now up to Chapter 8, which is titled "Making Much of Christ from 8 to 5." This is a really great and practical chapter, in which Piper explains why not every Christian should be a pastor or a full time missionary, and how it is just as important to have Christians in the secular working world. But the ongoing problem is, how do you focus on God at work, where if you're like me you have a million and one other things going through your mind? Essentially, how do you avoid leaving God at the door and picking Him up on the way home?

Well, one of the suggestions Piper makes is to have fellowship with God in all our work throughout the day. Great idea, but kind of hard to put into practice. After all, we don't want to fail to do our work because we were busy having fellowship with God.

In this chapter John Piper talks about "breathing out continual thanks to God", which involves memorising bible verses and Psalms that we can reflect on while working. This is a great idea. But then the pessimist in me thought: Heck, when am I going to remember to do that? And then I thought about all the repetitive jobs I do at work that actually don't require 100% concentration. Walking up and down the stairs between floors, standing over the photocopier etc. I'm sure you too have some pretty regular brainless tasks at your work. Well, what if I used this time to meditate on God's word and to refocus myself back on Him.

So that's what I started doing this week with the Psalm above. And I tell you what, it's been really helpful. It puts my focus back on God and makes me remember that I am working for Him - that the only reason I am able to do my job is because of the talents and abilities He has given me by His grace. It also makes me remember that as a Christian, I am a representative of Jesus and that in all I do and say at work I should try to glorify God. 

So what "brainless tasks" do you do every day at work, home or school, which you could turn into precious moments for reflecting on God and all He has done for you?

Monday, 18 November 2013

The Trip to Europe - Paris Part 3

Time for another viewing of holiday snaps from *cough cough* almost a year ago... These ones come to you from Disneyland Paris. I'm very fortunate to have also gone with my sister to Disneyland in LA back in 2011. And since the parks are very similiar, which I guess is kind of the point, I kept on thinking I was in LA and then thinking to myself, "Why are all these people speaking French?"
We spent 4 days in the park, which means I know it very, very well. Actually, having spent 5 days in Disneyland LA meant Laura and I already knew the Paris layout before we even walked through the gates, so if you ever want a guide to either park, and are willing to pay for the airfare, I'm your gal!

The special thing about this visit was that the park was done up for Christmas and a variety of parades. We went to Disneyland LA at a time where there were no parades on :( BUT at Disneyland Paris they had their Christmas parade, their Christmas tree lighting, AND the 20th Anniversary Parade (read AWESOME!)

However, I must confess that spending 4 days in a theme park kind of breaks you. I mean, I've done a 10-day hike across the Himalayas, but I still think I do more walking when I go to Disneyland. You really should wear hiking boots, although I'm vain and think I don't want to be wearing hiking boots in all my photos! You know you're at your limit when you're thinking: I need to get on a ride quick stat so I can just sit down!

As you can see, the weather wasn't great - actually it was cold and rained every day. Luckily, half the attractions are indoors. However, when we did get caught in the rain, we had a plan:

1) Go on the outdoor Indiana Jones Roller Coaster ride - the theory was, well, you're wet already so you might as well get even wetter by going on an outdoor roller coster.

Actually we had the habit of singing the Indiana Jones theme while waiting for the roller coaster to take off, which some other visitors found amusing. "Dum di dum daaa dum di dum, dum di dum da dum di da da AHHHHHHHHH!!!!!"

2) Then to dry off, you have 2 options. The first is Space Mountain, an indoor rollercoaster, which when you're wet kind of turns into a massive hairdryer for your clothes. The second option is Pirates of the Caribbean - this is an indoor ride with boats on a manmade lake, and is surprisingly dry and warm.

The tea cup ride. Let's be honest, this is probably one of the more boring rides, but you have to do it because it's pretty and it was in ALL the Disneyland advertisements when we were kids.


 Actually, the castle is one thing Disneyland Paris has done better than the orginal park. This is mainly because you can go under the castle (although beware of the dragon!), and there's more than just a shop inside. 

 John and I on the magic carpet ride, Laura photo bombing in the back.

Okay, you're probably Disneyed out by now, so I will leave it here. I have SO many more photos, but will try to resist the urge to post them all on my blog.

Until next time :)

Sunday, 17 November 2013

The Review - Macbeth

So on Monday night, Luke and I went to the Lighthouse Cinema in Petone to see a screening of the National Theatre's performance of Macbeth. (When I say "National Theatre", I mean the London one). Starring Kenneth Branagh, it was a truly electrifying experience.

Luke and I have seen a few filmed versions of live shows at cinemas: 25th Anniversary Concert of Phantom of the Opera; 25th Anniversary Concert of Les Miserables; The Importance of Being Earnest, but this was our first Shakespeare. I wouldn't say I am the biggest Shakespeare fan, and to be completely honest I find it quite difficult to just pick up and read. But there is something that utterly transports you about watching Shakespeare done live (and done well, I might add).

Furthermore, it is such a neat thing that they are now filming these truly amazing performances so everyone can have a chance to see them (and for a fraction of the cost). Sure, you don't get the same atmosphere, but you do get the best seat in the house. The camera work is always well done, and for most of us it's the only chance we will get to see some of the best actors and actresses in the world performing live on stage.

As a further bonus, I love how many boutique cinemas Wellington has and the fact that they offer such a wide variety of films. From the Lighthouse, to the Penthouse, to the Embassy, to the Roxy, to the Paramount (and I'm sure there are even more). It's really wonderful. I have to say I think I like the Lighthouse the best. (Not just because it's the closest to our home, but because it's such an intimate environment. The theatre is set up so everyone gets cinema seats that are similar to a 2-seater couch. Love it!)

Anyway, I digress. Macbeth was amazing. If you get the opportunity to see it for yourself, go! Kenneth Branagh is a renowned Shakespearean actor, but before this he hadn't done the Bard for almost 12 years. As far as I can tell, though, he has lost nothing. Alex Kingston as Lady Macbeth offers an equally powerful perfomance. They are both so raw in their parts that it makes you realise Macbeth at least was just a normal person before he was corrupted by his wife and evil desires for power.

Interestingly enough, the play is performed in a church in Manchester. This again highlights the moral dilemmas that the characters are going through, and emphasises the battle between good and evil. And I challenge you to find three creepier witches. Oh my goodness, they were creepy! Although I didn't warm to Macduff at first, the way he plays the scene where he discovers that his wife and children have been killed will stay with you for the rest of your life.

Anyway, here are some photos from the show:

Until next time :)

Thursday, 14 November 2013

The Outing - Red Rocks

It's Luke here, doing a guest post. About a month ago, Hannah's parents came to visit us in Wellington. It was a great time - as they have been before, this time we got to go and experience some of the lesser-known attractions in the Wellington region. On a fine Saturday, we visited the seal colony near Red Rocks on the southern coast.

 It was a beautiful day, but very windy (as normal in Wellington). We had to drive through suburbia to the southern coast, then turn along a tortuous road to get to the beginning of the beach walk. Technically you can drive further, as you can see from the tyre marks in the sand, but we saw at least one car that was stuck and so it was probably better not to have attempted it.


These are the Red Rocks (Pari-whero). According to Maori legend, they were created when the great Polynesian explorer Kupe cut his hand while collecting paua (a type of shellfish), and bled all over the rocks. The scientific explanation, on the other hand, is completely forgettable so I won't bore you with it here.

A little further on, at Sinclair Head, we saw about a dozen fur seals, sunbathing or splashing about in the water. Apparently Sinclair Head is home to a colony of "bachelor seals" who have failed to get a female in the mating season further south. They didn't seem too unhappy about it though.

  Hannah and her mum.

In sum, if it's a nice day between May and October (the seal season at Sinclair Head), this makes for a nice day outing.

Until next time!

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

The Dress - 1950s Convertible

So here's some more photos from my archives.

Scarf: This scarf is particularly special to me, as my gran gave it to me for my birthday this year. It was given to her by my pop for her 21st birthday, which means it's from around the 1940s. It's really beautiful, made of silk with a pretty hand-painted design of pink roses. It was such a lovely token and I hope to cherish it always.

Cardigan: Glassons
Finally, cropped cardigans seem to be in fashon (somewhat). Getting lots while I can. 

Skirt: Modcloth
Love this skirt, although because of Wellington's wind, I always have to check the weather before wearing it to avoid what I call "Marilyn Monroe moments".

Belt: David Lawrence

Shoes: Clarks

Well, until next time :)

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

The Verse - Ephesians 1:3-4

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.

Ephesians 1:3-4

So this Saturday I went to women's Bible study, and we listened to a sermon by Paul Washer on the above verse. He made some really wonderful points which I wanted to share with you. Of course, there is no way I can say it as eloquently as he does, but hopefully it'll be some encouragement for you.

God's Love
Some Christians believe that God started loving them when they became a Christian - this is an incorrect understanding. Other Christians believed God loved them from the moment they were born,  but this is also an incorrect understanding. 

The truth of the matter is that if you are a Christian, God's love for you knows no beginning just like it knows no end, because God's love is eternal. Our human love has a beginning; you can remember when you started to love your husband or wife or child. God, on the other hand, has always loved you from eternity past. Personally, this blows my mind.

The verse above clearly states that if you are a Christian, God has chosen you. You might think that you chose God, but the Bible clearly states that it is God who chooses some and not others. I don't fully understand why He elects some and not others, no one can or does understand, but the Bible teaches this very clearly. For example, God chose Abraham to be his servant. God chose Israel to be his people. And likewise, God chooses his church.

In order to understand election, Paul Washer points out that it is vital to understand the nature of the human condition. Humanity is fallen and completely depraved. Actually, the most fitting description for humanity is evil. And this is what the Bible teaches (Jeremiah 17:9; John 3:19; Romans 3:10, to name a few verses). It's a harsh reality to face, but a very true reality all the same.

3 Truths About Humanity

1) Humanity is radically depraved, and moral depravity affects every aspect of our being (Rom 6:6; Romans 6:12; Romans 1:21). We are depraved in the body, mind and will.

2) Humanity is capable of the most horrendous evil. The reason why we aren't completely wicked and evil all the time is because of something called "common grace" which is given to us by God. God in his sovereignty, grace and love actually restrains the evil of men. This is done partly through something that God gave every human being - a conscience. God wrote his law (Thou shall not lie; thou shall not steal, etc) on our hearts so that we might know him. If God was to take away his common grace, then humanity in its evilness and wickedness would destroy itself in a matter of days. The only reason why there is good in the world is because of God's grace. 

You may ask: What about the good atheist, will he be judged? Well the truth of the matter is the atheist is only "good" because of the gift of common grace to him from the very God that he denies.

3) Humanity is hostile towards God and the will of God. Humanity is at odds with God because God is good and humanity loves evil; therefore, humanity refuses the reconciliation offer made by God. People cannot come to God on their own. Then, you may say, that is unfair and people should not be held guilty. But you see, the reason people cannot come to God is that they freely choose not to, because they hate God, who is good and hates evil. Humanity are not the victims, but rather are enemies of God. Hell is moral because humanity is immoral. The only reason that humans at times appear moral is because of the restraining hand of God. 

But do you know what the amazing part of this is? Despite how depraved we are, God still chose to offer us a way to be reconciled to him through his son Jesus Christ. Jesus, unlike us, was not depraved and did not have a sinful nature. He lived a perfect life, always loving and obeying God. And because Jesus was both fully man and fully God, he was able to take the punishment we deserved. That's what happened on the cross: Jesus stood in our place and took the punishment for our sins, for our evil nature, and not only this but three days later he rose from the grave, conquering death, so that we too may have eternal life. How amazing is this - that God would save you and me, who are so sinful and evil. And Jesus did it ALL. There are no works or good deeds we need to do to pay for our sins, because God completed salvation on the cross from start to finish. All you need to do is repent (ask God for forgiveness from your sins and wicked nature), and put your faith in the work that Jesus did. If you do this, God promises he will give you a new heart, a heart that loves him and wants to please him instead of loving darkness and trying to please itself.

And if you're already a Christian, this is what really blew my mind: keeping in mind that God loves you with an eternal love, and then thinking about how utterly and completely depraved you were before God rescued you. Read Romans 5:8 -

...but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Mind officially blown.