Friday, April 18, 2014

Art Friday: Work

The village tailor by Albert Anker (1894)
Art Friday: Work

When we climb into our car,  walk around our homes,  prepare the evening meal, visit the doctor when we are sick, do we ever think of all the people that make things happen.  The farmers, the scientists, the construction workers, the manufacturers, the people who work in retail and in offices, the road builders, the doctors and even the lady at my local library. They all contribute to make the world turn round and without them we would all be in a pickle.

A coal miner by Norman Rockwell
We have an army of workers who get up every day and go to work to provide everything we need. Without them, the economies of the world would collapse and you or I would not be able to buy the milk we need, the meat we have for dinner, the books we read, the medicines that keep us alive or even the shoes on our feet.

Today I would like to remember the workers. Most don't go to work because they love their job or to go on a grand holiday (just think of the man who collects your garbage) - they go to earn a wage to support their families.

But think of those in the 19th century where coming home wasn't always guaranteed as mortality rates were very high in some occupations such as mining.

Factory workers (Switch Works), 1945
Teachers - painting by Haddon Sundblom

For those women who didn't marry in the 19th century, teaching (or being a governess) was considered to be a very suitable and ladylike occupation. 
Miners (Homeward) by Frank C Kirk (1930s)

Between 1850 and 1914, over 90,000 men and boys died in the United Kingdom from mining accidents. Many more were injured. This was one of the most dangerous occupations (and still is in many countries ) and without these men, the Industrial Revolution wouldn't have happened. At that time, 1 in every 10 men worked in the mines in the UK.  Sadly two miners died this week in Australian mines, it is still a dangerous occupation. 
Farming (Gathering potatoes) by George Clausen (1887)

Farming is hard work and for many centuries the lack of technology as we know today made it back breaking and very tough. Many women worked the land along side their husbands - especially at harvest time. 
Construction workers (Skyscraper) by Owen Smith
Fisherman - Jose Mongrell Torrent
The postman
Woman ironing by Edgar Degas

Most women from the lower classes in 19th century Britain either worked as domestic servants or in the factories. They worked, not by choice but in order to help support their families. It was hard labour and involved very long hours.  Some servants worked from 5am to 10pm at night. 

By 1870 (in the US), almost a million women were employed in domestic serve. 
Window washer by Norman Lerner (1950s)
The Optician by Paul Albert Guillaume
Mending the nets by Winslow Homer (1881)
Sometime life became even tougher when workers were laid off or went on strike to fight for better conditions. We can thank many of these men for the conditions we have today because they were willing to stand up and say no.  It often cost them their homes and everything dear. 

On Strike by Hubert von Herkomer
No work in the Victoria era =  no money which resulted in no homes for many families.  Life wasn't pretty as the following two paintings illustrate. Tragically many ended up in the Workhouses and many never left - a living hell.  We can thank the changes to the welfare system in Britain that led to the current system we have today. At least if one looses their job today they have some assistances to lean on - however many do still loose their homes as they can no longer afford to pay the mortgage. 
Out in the Cold by Leon Bazile Perrault
Homeless by Thomas Kenningston
High mortality rates among workers during the Industrial Revolution, especially those men and women working in factories where employers had never heard of the concept of work health and safety left many children orphaned.  Whilst many paintings portray the Victoria Era is beautiful and delicate, for many it was nothing like that. 

Orphans by Thomas Kenningston (1885)


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Elizabeth Prentiss: If only I could follow her example

Elizabeth Prentiss (1818 - 1878) was a frail woman who suffered intensely from chronic insomnia all her life. Few knew this. Despite her misery and suffering, the world saw a radiant face. She was described as a bright-eyed woman with a keen sense of humour. 

One of the darkest days of her life was on January 16, 1852 when her son Eddy died. The five-year-old had broken into a rash and fever. Elizabeth did the little that the doctors could suggest in an attempt to save his life. After Eddy died she recognized that going to Jesus was a great blessing for him, however much pain it cost her; and she wrote lines in which she urged him, "O, hasten hence! to His [Christ's] embraces, hasten!"*

We all could learn a thing or two from ladies such as Elizabeth Prentiss. A woman rarely free of pain and suffering, almost an invalid, could still put on a cheerful smile and radiant face. No matter what is thrown your way or what the Lord asks you to do - whether that be a SAHM or a woman who goes off to work, put on that radiant face and march onwards. Don't let others pull you down or find fault in what you have been asked to do - do all things for the glory of God, with joy etched into your face. 

Its one of those valuable lessons we need to teach our sons and daughters. They don't know what their future situation might be, but whatever God asks them to do, do it with a joyful heart. I don't think my aunt expected to remain a spinster all her life, regardless, she always had a smile on her face, so willing to help others and she lived life to its fullest and served God until the end of her days. 

Isn't it strange, but it is often the most able-bodied, the healthiest that grumble the most about the lack of energy, lack of time and the need for a sit down. However the most frail among us tend to have the most life, the most desire to be joyful. Perhaps knowing that one doesn't live forever pushes them on to make the most of every day, whilst the rest of us, a little more sure of our situation, more complacent, tend to take it all from granted. 

O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good:
for his mercy endureth for ever. 
Psalm 107:1

* Source:


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Ending the day quietly and peacefully

After the hustle and bustle of daily life, for me, ending the day quietly and peacefully is very important. 

My husband and I usually go to bed at around 9:30 these days and for the next hour or so I read (my husband likes to go to sleep). There is nothing nicer than being all cosy in bed at the end of the day reading quietly (perhaps with a mug of hot chocolate on the bed stand). 

The house is perfectly still, even the cats are resting, dogs are asleep and there is complete calmness. 

I couldn't think of better way to end each day.

I usually have two books on the go — one is a novel or perhaps something non-fiction and the other is my daily Christian reading. In the evening I read my novel for a short time then switch to my daily devotional/bible reading and my journal writing (which includes my daily “thankfulness” list). Following this, I usually read a chapter from my Christian reading pile — at present its Plenty for Everyone by Corrie Ten Boom. This means I end my day with the Word of God on my lips and on my mind, which for me, is the perfect way to end a day. I don’t want to sleep on something I had just watching on TV or a DVD or from a novel. I want to fall asleep with what is most precious—God’s word.  My mind is full of good thoughts and not those of the world.

I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; 
For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

Psalm 4:8


Monday, April 14, 2014

Love thy neighbour

Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 
There is none other commandment greater than these.

It sounds so simple. 

So why have we behaved so badly at loving our neighbours?

Why have we treated so appalling those of different colour skin?

Why have so many die because of their religion? 

Why are women treated like second-class citizens in so many countries?

Why are there so many in poverty whilst others live in mansions?

Why do we walk past a homelessness man and look the other way?

Why do some think it is acceptable to beat up a homosexual man?

Why are we so reluctant to help a family in need?


As humans we are selfish, thoughtless and we really don't care. Anyone less fortunate, not as wealthy, not in power, not white, of a different religion, different to us - we treat as less than ourselves, we turn our backs on them. Not worthy of our attention. We often do it without even thinking.

At times in history we have treat others as less than human. 

Almost every Christian has failed at this very simple verse. We have been commanded to love our neighbours, ALL our neighbours. We aren't asked to be choosy, to only select those who are like us, only those of the same religion, only those of the same class or political persuasion. We are to reach out and love ALL our neighbours. We may not agree with their ideals or beliefs, we may think they are sinful and not worthy of our time, but through our love and compassion we can make a differences. 

In a recent survey by the Scanlon Foundation 19% of Australians (almost one in five) were discriminated against because of their skin colour, ethnic origin or religious beliefs last year - up from 12 per cent in 2012. (source) It shows that we are not very good at loving our neighbour, in fact we are very poor.

My friend Mary sent me the words to a song that encapsulated our behaviour; "We hide behind these walls, And the security of friends*" and we do not like to venture beyond our self-imposed walls see the real world. We don't want to take the risk as we are fearful of what we might find. Jesus didn't remain with those that were saved (his friends), Jesus ate with tax collectors, he talked with prostitutes and spent time with the sick and the poor. He spent time with them because He loved them unconditionally.  We need to model our lives after His.  And we need to find the "time to touch a broken heart"*.

Loving our neighbours doesn't just mean saying "hello" in passing (but that is a start in the right direction), it means actions, reaching out, helping, taking a risk into the unknown and it might mean offering up your last loaf bread to someone without any. But most importantly, it needs to come from the heart and not an attempt to earn points "just to get to heaven". As Spurgeon so beautiful states: Oh, it would turn the world upside down indeed, if this were practiced. **

For me, this is one of the fundamentals when teaching our children. Do not shut your children (or yourself) away and create an environment of "them and us". They need to learn from an early age to "love thy neighbours", they need to see their parents putting this into action and they can only do this if they know who their neighbours are. Why is this so important - because the Lord Jesus Christ has commanded us to do this, it is His will - there is no greater commandment than this.

Thou art bound to love thy neighbour, then do not neglect him. He may be sick, he may live very near thy house, and he does not send for thee to call on him, for he says, "No, I do not like to trouble him." Remember, it is thy business to find him out. The most worthy of all poverty is that which never asks for pity. See where thy neighbours are in need; do not wait to be told of it, but find it out thyself, and give them some help. **

I want to end on a quote from Spurgeon - true when he wrote the sermon in 1857 and still very true today: "It would be a good thing if some ladies loved their neighbours as much as they loved their lap-dogs.**" A lesson for all of us to ponder as we move through this day.
Now it happened, as He was dining in Levi’s house, that many tax collectors and sinners also sat together with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many, and they followed Him. And when the scribes and[a] Pharisees saw Him eating with the tax collectors and sinners, they said to His disciples, “How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?”
When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”
Mark 2: 15-17 (NKJV)

* A world we never touched by Carouthers, Richarson and Pedigo, 1996

** from Love thy Neighbour, 1857, Sermon 145 Rev C. H. Spurgeon

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Finding joy in the everyday 1#

To encourage others (and myself) to find joy in the everyday, I have decided to start something new. Each week I will be posting a simple photo, a  quote, a passage from a book, a bible verse, perhaps a hymn or something else that has given me joy during the week. I have chosen Sunday - the Lord's Day as He has asked us to be joyful, so lets do just that. 


Flowers on our dinning table. 

Miss Beatrix Bunny keeping guard.

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials.
James 1:2


Saturday, April 12, 2014

Good morning ladies

Good morning ladies, 

Husbands are very sweet. 

Mine thought I needed shoes that were strong and sturdy for walking in wet and muddy areas. He didn't like the idea of me slipping and falling. So off we went this morning to find a pair of walking shoes - he wanted to be there to make sure I choose the right ones. Whilst these were not my favourite colour (my husband couldn't understand the whole colour thing), they are very comfortable and fit the definition of "sturdy".  Sadly the red pair that I really wanted weren't in my size so I went for practicality rather than style and colour!!

Whilst we were out, we stopped off to have a coffee (which DH didn't like) and hot chocolate (which I thought was pretty good) before quickly dashing to pick up some Easter eggs for my son and his wife. 

What do you have planned for today?

Once I have done a few chores around the house (the bathroom does need a quick wipe over and I have some hand washing to do) I think I will cut out my next pattern.  I have decided on this 1950's retro fitted dress (or as the American's would call it - a jumper) - black as it goes with everything with this gorgeous deep purple lining. What do you think? The other thing about using black, it covers up mistakes!!

Dinner is cooked (thanks to the Slow Cooker) - goat curry (half has already gone into the freezer) which we will have with rice and naan bread.  Which means I will have plenty of time for reading.

May you all have a blessed Saturday


Friday, April 11, 2014

Art Friday: Mary Turtel and Alfred Bestall

Rupert Bear

There are certain illustrations that take me back to my childhood in an instances, Rupert Bear would have to be one of them.  I loved Rupert Bear. I found reading difficult as a child, however that didn't stop me from spening hours with books looking at their illustrations and letting my mind create its own stories. 

So who wrote and illustrated of Rupert Bear and friends?

Well, there is more than one.

Mary Turtel (nee Caldwell) and Alfred Bestall.

Mary (1874 - 1948) was raised in an artistic family, daughter of a stained glass artiste and stonemason. Mary first created Rupert Bear in the 1920s as part of a competition. Rupert was first published as a nameless character, in a comic strip titled Little Lost Bear.  Mary retired in 1935 after her eyesight deteriorated, however her strip were continued by a Punch illustrator, Alfred Bestall. 

Alfred Bestall (1892 - 1986) was born in Burma and died in Wales. He wrote and illustrated Rupert Bear for the London Daily Express from 1935 until 1965 (produced daily). Bestall changed the style of Rupert and much of the scenery in the stories are inspired by the Snowdonia landscape in Wales. And here is an interesting fact about Alfred Bestall - he loved paper folding and was elected President of the British Origami Society! The illustrations below are by Bestall, the black and white one above is by Mary. 

Who was your favourite illustrator as a child?

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