Wednesday, June 30, 2010

OPI On Collins Ave.

I love nail polish blogs. Have I already told you that? Well, my photography lacks the amazing color, composition, and clarity of those blogs, but here's some shots of a polish I love.

It is orangey red, and BRIGHT! I was a little nervous about wearing something this bright, but after my manicure I am going to have to purchase it. (That's Blizzard, my parents' cat, and she wanted to be in the photo!) Click on each photo for a closeup.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Where I've Ended Up

A few blog posts ago I presented my intent to study out how the follower of Jesus should dress, as part of a much larger issue of how we should relate to the world when we’re strangers on it. It’s been a little tricky for me, but I wanted to write about where I’ve ended up.

Our God knows and sees what’s in our hearts. The good and the bad. Do I love him more than anything or anyone? He also sees everything we do. The good and the bad. Am I obedient to him no matter what? It is not one or the other, it is both. Both my heart and my actions must honor him. Kinda reminds me of the scripture about “faith and works”. You need both!

The problem is, our hearts can deceive us. We can be blind to our real motives. So there are religious movements that have instituted rules to ensure obedience to the Bible. The discipline of the Mennonites and 7th Day Adventists in how they dress is admirable. Is it too convenient for me to believe it’s not necessary to separate myself from the world in such a visible way? I hope not, for that is where I’ve ended up, convinced my heart of putting God first, combined with dressing conservatively, is honoring God.

I still like fashion, and knowing the current styles and trends. I still like nice shoes, pretty dresses, and sparkly jewelry. But my desire for these things has waned in light of my study.

Here are some closing thoughts that sum it up better than I can. Writer Duane Elgin, in his book “Voluntary Simplicity” (1993), says:

“More specifically, Christian simplicity is so to use “things” so that, first, they do not interfere with one’s absolute joy in God, and, second, they actually point toward and contribute to that joy. When “things” are given their proper evaluation as being creations of and gifts from the God who loves us and supplies us with every good, then they can operate as integral contributions to that joy. Our task is to receive them in such a way that, as with the reception of any gift, our appreciation focuses on the giver rather than on our possession of the gift itself.”

“So Christian simplicity is not an anxious scrupulosity about possessions (either anxiety about getting and holding them or about keeping them below a certain “Christian” level). Rather, it is a joyous freedom regarding them. When life becomes focused upon God instead of “things,” one not only is freed from all the anxieties that attend possession, but he also is made free to use “things” with all the blessing and joy for which they were created and given to us in the first place.”

Thanks for reading, if you have any thoughts on this topic, please let me know!

Monday, June 28, 2010

You're Sure Paisley is not In?

paisley shirt by I.N.C., Dooney & Bourke handbag, The Walking Company shoes, You Don't Know Jacques! nail polish

Friday, June 25, 2010

The God of this Age

I was sharing with a girl at church one Sunday about this new topic of Bible study I was investigating. She was enthusiastic about the need for it, and stated with much conviction: “Materialism is the god of this age!”

She's so right. Even if you’re in campus or high school and don’t have a lot of money to give into it, you know it. And it’s not just an American or a 21st century problem. Look at people in the days of Jesus, there were those he spoke with who were wealthy, pursuing comfort and happiness, and promoting themselves.

Why is it in our sinful nature to be like this? I’m not any kind of scientist, but I do know that we want to be like others, we want to be respected and/or admired by people. I can sit around all day and say that “I don’t care what people think of me!” but I do. And when I see that beautiful pair of designer shoes that I can’t afford and can’t wear anywhere, I still want them, because their beauty would then become my beauty! And after looking through Vogue, I feel hopelessly behind-the-times when I think of what’s in my closet!

So we start pursing fashion. And as we grow older and perhaps advance in making more money, we think we may deserve it, or are entitled to it. Or we may be out to “prove something” to the world. It’s difficult to pull away from this way of thinking once we’re involved in it.

Here are some counter-measures from the Word!

“Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? ... And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ... ‘What shall we wear?’”

“The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, ... not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.”

I like these scriptures. What I take away is:
  • my body is more important than clothes. I need to take care of my weight and
  • Jesus’ words aren’t so much about fashion, but about the basic need of being dressed. (but he also says later that the people of this world “run after all these things.”)
  • don’t let clothing (or other material possessions) be a source of pride, causing dissension and jealousy to those around us.
  • if I want to pursue clothing because I am feeling selfish and
    prideful ... don’t pursue it!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Is Paisley In?

paisley blouse by Dana Buchman, wide-leg cropped pants by BCBG, heels by Circa Joan & David

Hmmmm...I'm not reading too much about paisley in fashion these days. But this blouse is too beautiful not to wear. Nothing like a paisley top and plaid pants.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

In the World, Not Of the World

"But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. Sanctify them as the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world." - John 17:13-18

We can’t talk for very long about a Christian's fashion or dress without talking beyond 1 Timothy 3. There are larger issues to consider. How should the Christian relate to the world around her, to both witness to it, love the people in it, and live as an alien and stranger in it? Some thoughts to consider:

Writer Duane Elgin, when talking about Jesus’ words in his book “Voluntary Simplicity” (1993), says:
“To say that Christians be “in the world” implies much more than the observation that in the world is where we happen to be and that we ought not try to fight the fact. Jesus insists that Christians be “in the world” because he himself sent them into the world just as God sent him into the world. The Christian way of being in the world, then, is the way of conscious and deliberate religious commitment rather than the way of inevitable happenstance. And thus voluntary association in the world of men can be the only possible intention behind Jesus’ words.”

Let’s also look to an early Christian writer. The following is a fragment of an early Christian apology known as The Letter to Diognetus. Not much is known about who wrote it, when, where, or how. Let’s peek into the culture of the early Christians and their practice of being in the world but not of the world.

“Christians are not different from the rest of men in nationality, speech, or customs; they do not live in states of their own, nor do they use a special language, nor adopt a peculiar way of life.... Whether fortune has given them a home in a Greek or foreign city, they follow local custom in the matter of dress, food, and way of life; yet the character of the culture they reveal is marvelous and, it must be admitted, unusual. They live, each in his native land--but as though they were not really at home there. They share in all duties like citizens and suffer all hardships like strangers. Every foreign land is for them a fatherland and every fatherland a foreign land. They marry like the rest of men and beget children, but they do not abandon the babies that are born. They share a common board, but not a common bed. In the flesh as they are, they do not live according to the flesh. They dwell on earth, but they are citizens of heaven. They obey the laws that men make, but their lives are better than the laws. They love all men, but are persecuted by all. They are unknown, and yet they are condemned. They are put to death, yet are more alive than ever. They are paupers, but they make many rich. They lack all things, and yet in all things they abound.”, huh? It helps give me some inspiration... and perspective.

Duane Elgin has some more reasonable thoughts that can balance out legalism:
“The calling of the Christian impels him to be working every bit as hard at being in the world as at being not of it. In fact, just as soon as one of these tasks is disregarded, the other loses its validity at the same time. Many Christians have become so good at being in the world that there no longer is any evidence of their being not of it. That’s worldliness; and that’s bad. But the situation isn’t helped when those of the counterculture overreact to that hypocrisy and become so scrupulous about being not of the world that they fail any longer to be in it. That’s self-righteous contemptuousness; that’s bad, too; and it is a hypocrisy of its own sort.”

So being a disciple is the straight and narrow path of a different sort: not fitting in so much that I don’t impact people around me, but also not isolating myself in a self-righteous way.

A closing thought from Elgin:
“This is not to say that it doesn’t matter whether living like Christ has an outward impact or not. No, no, no it is incredible that a person could freely and wholeheartedly choose God and become absolutely obedient to him without it making some change in his relationship to things of the world. If some sort of outward change did not take place, it rightly could be suspected whether he had actually chosen God. That change, of course, will be in the direction of simplicity, a lessened evaluation of what the world promotes as important.”

To add to this, I think it’s not just a one-time change; as a Christian grows in maturity, that simplicity will increase. The worldliness will decrease. This is difficult, it is hard work! Let’s feed our spiritual soul and not our worldly nature!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Sunshine Day!

Off to work in a sunny ensemble! I love to wear yellows and oranges. Click on the photos to view them larger.
yellow sweater by Calvin Klein, tan pants by LOFT, scarf by Preston & York, orange patent Mona flats by Delman

Monday, June 21, 2010

Am I Free to Express Myself through Fashion?

I am a creative person. I enjoy expressing myself through art and writing, and I enjoy encouraging others with unique and fun ideas, whether it’s hosting a Halloween party at my home or making a birthday card for a friend. For college, I went to art school, where I studied graphic design.

Part of my profession is being aware of current advertising and design trends. As a professional creative person, I expect myself to look the part. However I think this has been an excuse for me, and real motives can be difficult to discern.

When I read through Christian writings, I have been convicted. Many people throughout history have, because of their devotion to Jesus, their desire to stand out from the worldliness and extravagance of fashion, and their belief that what’s on the inside should affect the outside appearance, have refused to wear makeup, jewelry (even wedding rings), or certain kinds of clothing.

Of course revealing or sensual clothing should be avoided by the disciple of Jesus. But I’m talking about regular makeup, jewelry, and expensive clothing. Are they out of place, or as we grow to be more mature and devoted to Jesus, should I be dressing in an increasingly simpler way? The question isn’t “What’s wrong with wanting to look good?” The question is “Am I becoming more like Christ?”

I think the problem, is not in the fashion. It is the desiring of it. I John reminds us “Do not love the world or anything in the world.” It is the spiritual distraction of being enthralled or consumed with items that were designed to perish.

This topic is an individual journey each of us must make. I don’t think the answer will be anything extreme, since the righteous person avoids all extremes. It must be made in consideration of the disciple’s relationship to the world and the people who live in it. This other consideration will have a separate blog post of its own.

Comments? I would love to hear them!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Birthday Score

cream jacket by Guess, brown pants by LOFT, Charles David shoes, unknown necklace

This wrap blouse was given to me by my great friend Sachka for my birthday. It's by Sunny Leigh, which is a brand that Macy's carries.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

She's Got the Look

Which danger are you most liable to fall into:

a. the danger of religious formalism and legalism (and being self-righteous about it)
b. the danger of worldliness

It is a fine balance, and there is grace and freedom in Christ. But surely you tend to go one way or the other? It may help to think about this as you read on.

I have been looking through different Biblical teachings to fight the worldliness that is in my sinful nature.

In my early research I have not ignored looking into a couple of other faiths. These groups (the 7th Day Adventists and the Mennonites) follow a literal interpretation of the Bible, in many ways separate themselves from society, and have added their own teachings on top of what the Bible says. Yet their devout convictions, and spiritual motives, to submitting their style of clothing to Jesus is a challenge to me. It makes me re-think why I dress the way I do. Of course the implications do not stop there, but can apply to what kind of home I live in, how much money I spend on entertainment/escape, and the music I listen to... just to start!

Contemplate with me! Which of the following statements* do you think is true?

1. The Bible does not tell us what style of clothing men and women should wear, because it recognizes that style is dictated by climate and culture.

2. Dress and appearance are an important index of Christian character.

3. Our outward appearance is a visible and silent testimony of our Christian values. Some people dress and adorn their bodies with costly clothes and jewelry to please themselves. The Christian, however, dresses to glorify God. “In no better way,” wrote 7th Day Adventist leader Ellen White, “can you let your light shine to others than in your simplicity of dress and deportment. You may show to all that, in comparison with eternal things, you place a proper estimate upon the things of this life.”

4. That in their appearance, Christians manifest such qualities as self-respect, proper reserve, purity, humility, neatness, and that attractiveness which springs from Christian simplicity.

5. It is your duty to dress so plainly as to show to the world that you place no sort of reliance on the things of fashion and set no value at all upon them, but despise and neglect them altogether. There is no way by which you can bear a proper testimony by your lives against the fashions of the world, but by dressing plainly.

Would you be willing to dress differently than you do now because you are a follower of Jesus? Put simply, who are you dressing for...and why?

*statements are borrowed from the writings of Charles G. Finney and Dr. Samuele Bacchiocchi.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Trust Me. I'm a Profashional.

red jacket by New York & Co, navy pencil skirt by BCBG, blue-and-white button up blouse by Banana Republic,
navy slingbacks by Ann Taylor

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

What Not To Wear

Hello my friends,

I like fashion. Maybe too much, of late. I was inspired by another blogger to look a little closer into this topic, and how as a Christian, I should dress.

The Bible has a few specific guidelines for women's clothing. What comes to mind: "I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God." 1 Timothy 2:9-10. "Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes." 1 Peter 3:3

Are we to follow these scriptures today, or do they only apply to the culture and time they were written? And who does that anyways? Well, at least one group, the orthodox Mennonite Church, takes these scriptures literally. As such, the Mennonites do not wear jewelry (even wedding rings) or makeup of any kind, or any flashy clothes. So are they applying the Bible to their lives correctly? Are they more radically devoted to God? It makes me examine my own commitment!

So, I am going to study this topic of Christian dress further. I will post my learnings and am eager to discuss on this blog what YOU think.

Really, the topic is much larger than fashion. It is directly tied to how Christians can be in the world but should not be of the world. It is directly tied to those who are rich in this present world. It is tied directly to the soul and our heart's desires. It is tied directly to how we interpret freedom in Christ. And for me, it is tied directly to my pride, how radical is my devotion to God, and my motives for dressing how I do.

Stay should be a fun time!

Monday, June 14, 2010

And It Goes A Little Something Like This…

dress by Theory, leggings by I.N.C., denim jacket by DKNY, Ray-Ban aviators, Tiffany necklace

OH--HAI! Welcome to my first post, let me introduce myself. I’m Faith J. I am a spiritually-focused person with strong convictions about living my life according to a standard. Outside of that, I love big cities, public transportation, being uncomfortable, reading, and zombies.

How I got here: I have been following a lot of fashion blogs ever since right before I got married in July 2008. I was feeling out-of-touch with fashion after leaving Chicago and started discovering so, so many wonderful blogs by amazing fashionistas. I love the outfit posts, nail swatching, fashion week reporting, trend spotting, street style photos, and other newsy bits. The community is huge and ever-growing, and I can’t really add anything to improve it.

I want to express my interest with fashion and balance it with my desire for realness, beauty, and spirituality, to put clothing in its proper place, not an idol, but as a expression of creativity. God has given me a lot, and I hope to blog with gratitude and kindness. To start out, I have six posts that reflect my study on materialism and fashion, which I will intersperse with outfit posts. I hope you benefit from it. And it goes a little something like this…