Archive for Sarah

Advice from Elisabeth Elliot

We all have them. Bad days. Unexpected problems. Things we didn’t sign up for. Things that are totally out of our control.

Maybe it is financial hardship or a loss of a job. Maybe someone who should be doing good to you is doing you harm.

A friend betrays you or a parent hurts you deeply. A child becomes terminally ill. A church member betrays you. A spouse walks out for good.

In all these things our hearts rise up in opposition to the crisis. We wonder if God sees, knows, or even cares.

advice

I love this quote by Elisabeth Elliot who had her life turned upside down by the murder of her husband, missionary Jim Elliot, by the very people he was on mission to help. Speared through by the Auca Indians.

In an instant, her world changed. Her husband was gone and she found herself a widow. Her children were fatherless. She was in a strange land, and she had two choices:

to see God as a loving, wise Father who always does what is best for her  or

to chose the path of bitterness and resentment toward God.

Hear what Elisabeth says:

“Lord, You have assigned my portion and my cup, and have made my lot secure’ (Ps16:5). I know of no greater simplifier for all of life. Whatever happens is assigned. Every assignment is measured and controlled for my eternal good. As I accept the given portion other options are cancelled. Decisions become much easier,directions clearer, and hence my heart becomes inexpressibly quieter.”

We need the same mindset when things seem all wrong. A life of faith is a life of trust.

The Bible shows us many examples of sisters in Christ who faced hard times and chose to walk in faith, knowing that God would do what was right for them: Sarah, Abigail, Hannah and Mary to name a few. They welcomed and walked the hard path through faith. The surrendered their life to His plans.

  • Sarah packed up her life and followed her husband Abraham to their “new home.”  Problem was,  Abraham had no idea where he was taking her.  Only God knew where that would be.
  • Abigail lived with a drunken fool, but was godly enough to protect her household from King David’s anger at Nabal’s rudeness and insolence.
  • Hannah felt the pain of barrenness. She longed and prayed for children while living under the provoking taunting of her husband’s “other wife” who had no problem having children.
  • Mary  risked her reputation and many misunderstandings when she agreed to be the mother of the Savior, Jesus.

“It is in our acceptance of what is given that God gives Himself.”  ~Elisabeth Elliot, These Strange Ashes: Is God Still in Charge?

When trials come, they open wide the dark corners of our hearts and reveal the true us. Our words and actions show what is really reigning: the “fruit” of the spirit of the “fruit” of the flesh.

The spirit filled life will produce the same works and attitudes of the Lord Jesus Christ. His life is flowing through our life, enabling us to walk as He walked. We will respond to life’s problems with trust and obedience. Our lives and testimonies will be characterized by loving others, joyful countenances, the peace of God, gentleness and kindness to all people.

When sin reigns, we will exhibit the characteristics of the fallen nature: anger, bitterness, unforgiving spirit, desire to rule others, jealousy, envy, manipulation and the list goes on and on.

We are living under the gracious hand of our Heavenly Father. How can we doubt Him? In child-like faith, we accept whatever He chooses to give knowing that though it looks bad and sometimes is hard, it’s for our own good and His glory.

If you are discouraged today and fearful, remember the God who loves you and is in control, and pray for faith to trust Him.

MORE FROM ELISABETH ELLIOT:

Keep a Quiet Heart

A Chance to Die: The Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael

 

 

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God-Mandated Curriculum for your Kids

Do you ever wonder what you are supposed to teach your kids?

With a market flooded with how-to manuals for parenting, it’s nearly impossible to keep up with the latest, greatest manual for raising kids.

IMG_6862.JPGWhen you are a believer, you have the Holy Spirit who guides your heart and mind and leads you to the help you need when you need it.

And in my experience with my five kids, what works for one doesn’t necessarily work with another, so we really need to depend on the Lord in our parenting. (Obviously–WHY do I even have to state such an obvious, but isn’t it true that we run to manuals more than the Lord?)

IMG_6873.JPG IMG_6871.JPG

Good news, today. I have a one size fits all parental concrete to share with you. A God-given mandatory.

We must share the mighty acts of God.

Ps 78: 4-8 (selected parts)

The things that we have seen and known, that our father’s have told us (oral, 1st hand history lesson)

We will not hide them from their children,

But tell to this coming generation, the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.

That the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn,

Here comes the why:

so that they should set their hope in God,

and not forget the works of God,

but keep his commandments,

and that they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God.

The Israelites were famous for forgetting God. They were famous for being in bondage because of their sin and idolatry. God is warning us NOT to be like the Israelites in this passage,  but to remember all of the blessings of God and to tell them to our children.

This means that we tell stories. Stories of how God intervened in our lives.

For me, on top of the Biblical stories of God’s faithfulness through the generations,  I’d tell my kids

  • about the time we broke down in the dead of winter in Vermont, and we prayed as a family and a man walked up the driveway of our cottage and asked if we needed help
  • about the time we couldn’t afford violin lessons and had to opt out of lessons for a semester, until a complete stranger paid the kids conservatory tuition bill
  • about the time when God brought a man to build a room for us as a ministry to us when we needed a bedroom for Matthew. He build a family room/ministry room to suit our hospitality needs
  • about how God IS providing money every month to pay college tuition for TWO kids
  • about how God restored my mother in laws health after a serious brain hemorrhage and how people all across the country prayed
  • about  the every day answered prayers, for little things like grocery money, shoes, gas money and so much more

Has God done something wonderful for you? Tell it to your kids. It’s part of their heritage. Their God has done this! Don’ t forget!

This is a really intentional practice. It’s easier to complain and pass along our poor me stories, isn’t it? If you tell about your trials, tell of the Redeemer who brought you through.

Charles Spurgeon once said that we are all to prone to engrave our trials in marble and our blessings in the sand. 

We don’t want this to be our legacy. We need to share our blessings.

 

How has God acted on your behalf? Share in the comments, then share with your kids!!

 

 

 

Balancing Ministry and Motherhood

Update: Hey girls, I’m reposting this from the archives, because I get this question quite a bit. :) Happy Planning!

 

I received this question yesterday on balancing ministry and children from a lovely reader and thought I would post on this topic.

Q: 1. How can a mom with young children find a balance between serving outside the home and serving her family? I have so many desires to serve, give, volunteer, etc. but right now my young children need so much guidance, teaching, love, training, etc… that I often feel so worn out…

First of all, every Christian mother of young children can relate to this question. Honestly, balance is tricky because it implies that you are trying to hold on to many important and good things and not drop any of them.

Ice Skating with my sweet Hope Elizabeth.

So here are my thoughts on balancing ministry and motherhood:

1. Your husband, kids  and home are your main ministry. When your home is well cared for, and your children are obedient and happy, and your husband is well loved, the gospel looks attractive to the watching world. For women, this is a hard pill to swallow. Why? Because this culture does not value homemaking. If you raise someone else’s kids, then that is all fine and good, but if you stay home and JUST raise your own, that is thought of as meaningless or a waste of  your life. So sometimes we fall into the trap of filling our lives with the “valuable” jobs/ministries to the detriment of our own family. I am not saying that you should not serve in the church in some capacity. I do think you should use your God given gifts. But God is not going to call you to use your “gifts” to the detriment of your own family. No, God has commanded that the older women teach the younger women how to care well for our families.

2. Levels of commitment to outside ministry change as your family grows. When Peter and I were first married, I was very much involved in helping him with the Youth Programs at our church and with running other activities. But as I had babies, my priorities had to change. While my children were young it was more important to lay the foundations for our  home life and establish “cultural norms” for the Beals home.{We don’t whine when we want something. We don’t bite each other. We don’t yell. You may not disobey mommy and daddy.} My main goals were things like establishing routines, child training, cooking good meals, teaching simple doctrine and character lessons.

When my children were babies, I rarely attended our evening service at church. Why? Because we were in a season of establishing sleeping patterns that are crucial to the newborn. There were times when most of my “outside ministry” came in the form of cooking meals for a sick person while I cooked my own for my family, or having a friend into our home for a Bible study. Hospitality is a wonderful way to minister to others while you have little ones in the home.

I am a big believer in rhythms of life. I use the word rhythms in place of the word routines because it seems more palatable and less “business like”.  But in any case, routines, especially in the young years, bring a sense of stability and comfort to children. They know what to expect. Life is not helter skelter: We rise and get ready for the day. We make our beds. We sit down and eat breakfast together. We read our Bibles together at the table. We read books on the couch or start school. We take a walk or run an errand after lunch.

3. This season of life is not forever. Your home will be quiet and empty some day. Just let that sink in for a moment. Don’t look on these times as useless or less productive for Christ. They are EXTREMELY important times. You are influencing generations right here, right now by what you are doing in your home today.

I would encourage you to pray and evaluate your own situation.(You may be able to handle more ministries outside the home  than I was able to.) Of course, I don’t have all the answers and I have struggled to maintain balance as well.

Some indicators that I used for our family: (again, just my opinion, not biblical mandates)

*If your family is too busy to have family meals together because of ministry, you are too busy. So much is learned at mealtimes.

*If you are struggling with discipline/bad attitudes/serious character flaws with one  child, I would suggest pulling away from extras/ministry for a while to minister to your struggling child. I want to help my own child first, then someone else’s child second.

*Establish GO days and STAY days if you can. Kids like time to be home and in their element. It is easy to run aimlessly in our run here, run there society. Sometime quiet times of rest and a slow pace produces more than hustling and bustling about.

Here is a post about how I prioritize our lives: here

Here’s what works for me! Seeing my priorities written out each week helps me live the life I know I want to live. If I don’t plan, of course, I fail at my ideal priorities.

I wrote my priorities in order on the left, with lines so that I can fill in what specifically want to plan that week. It helps me visualize what I am doing with my time. As I pencil in my week, I can see where we are out of balance or lacking. I have given this to countless women who asked for help keeping life in balance! ——–> PRINTABLE —>Weekly Priorities

Hope this helps!

Need some help with time management? Consider this 30 page ebook, Tell Your Time that gets rave reviews, and is written by one of my FAVORITE bloggers, Amy.

What You Can Learn from Sarah Edwards

I love observing older women and learning how to act  from them (and how not to act!). I was recently chatting with another pastor’s wife and was thanking her for being such a good example to me. Her life is characterized by a walk that fears God: humility, kindness, goodness and a life free from evil speaking and malice of any sort.

Actions always speak louder than words.  Palladius, an early church historian , wrote to a friend these words:

Words and syllables do not constitute teaching, for some teachers possess great words but live disreputable in the extreme.”

Sadly, many Christians know and profess all the right things, but live devilish lives.

So today, I want to share with you a glimpse into the character of Sarah Edwards,(1709-1758) wife of Jonathan Edwards. Her husband is the well-known preacher of the  Great Awakening and is famous for his sermon, “Sinner In The Hands of an Angry God.”

These are excerpts taken from the book Memoirs of Jonathan Edwards: 

On being a suitable helper to her husband:

She proved, also, an invaluable [support] to Mr. Edwards, in the duties of his profession, not only by her excellent example, but by her active efforts in doing good.

“She was,” says Dr. Hopkins, “eminent for her piety…religious conversation was her delight; and, as far as propriety permitted, she promoted it in all companies. Her religious conversation showed at once her clear comprehension of spiritual and divine things, and the deep impression which they had made upon her mind.”

It was not merely conversation about religion—about its truths, or duties, or its actual state—its doctrines or triumphs—or the character and conduct of its friends and ministers: it was religion itself;—that supreme love to God, to his kingdom and his glory, which, abounding in the heart, flows forth spontaneously, in the daily conversation and the daily life.

Her thought life:

Her mind appeared to attend to spiritual and divine things constantly, on all occasions, and in every condition and business of life. Secret prayer was her uniform practice, and appeared to be the source of daily enjoyment.

Her words:

“She made it her rule to speak well of all, so far as she could with truth and justice to herself and others. She was not wont to dwell with delight on the imperfections and failings of any; and when she heard persons speaking ill of others, she would say what she thought she could with truth and justice in their excuse, or divert the obloquy, by mentioning those things that were commend-able in them. Thus she was tender of every one’s character, even of those who injured and spoke evil of her; and carefully guarded against the too common vice of evil speaking and backbiting.”

Treatment of those who mistreated her:

She could bear injuries and reproach with great calmness, without any disposition to render evil for evil; but, on the contrary, was ready to pity and forgive those who appeared to be her enemies.”

How she dealt with her children:

She had an excellent way of governing her children: she knew how to make them regard and obey her cheerfully, without loud angry words, much less, heavy blows. She seldom punished them; and in speaking to them used gentle and pleasant words.

 If any correction was necessary, she did not administer it in a passion; and when she had occasion to reprove and rebuke, she would do it in few words and with all calmness and gentleness of mind.

In her directions and reproofs in matters of importance, she would address herself to the reason of her children, that they might not only know her inclination and will, but at the same time be convinced of the reasonableness of it. She had need to speak but once; she was cheerfully obeyed; murmuring and answering again were not known among them.

Her system of discipline was begun at a very early age, and it was her rule to resist the first, as well as every subsequent, exhibition of temper or disobedience in the child, however young, until its will was brought into submission to the will of its parents; wisely reflecting, that until a child will obey his parents, he can never be brought to obey God.

Letter to her daughter three days after the death of her husband, Jonathan, showing her trust in God.

“My very dear child,

What shall I say? A holy and good God has covered us with a dark cloud. O that we may kiss the rod, and lay our hands on our mouths! The Lord has done it. He has made me adore his goodness, that we had him so long. But my God lives: and he has my heart. O what a legacy my husband, and your father, has left us! We are all given to God; and there I am, and love to be.

Your ever affectionate mother,

SARAH EDWARDS”

Sarah’s marriage was anything but perfect. Her husband had severe bouts of depression, and they lived in a time of civil unrest and spiritual warfare. Although they had their “highs” in life, they survived their “lows” by anchoring their soul on the only ONE who never changes, and who is always faithful. Sarah kept her home pleasant. She was known to walk through town singing and humming quietly to herself and had the testimony of being a joyful Christian. Adjectives used for her in the memoirs included: joyful, pious, godly, holy, appropriate, kind.

I am thankful that I can read her testimony ALL these years later and still be blessed by her good life. That tells me that MY life and my testimony, if lived in a way that pleases God, can also be an encouragement for women who follow after me.

But lives lived like Sarah’s do not just happen. They require a desire for the Holy One. They are focused and  God-fearing. Not easily distracted.

 May God give us the grace to follow Him as we should.

Things I Loved This Week

You might have noticed that I haven’t been posting quite as much lately. Well….

Let’s just say that we have been busy with good things as a family, and things tend to come in “tidal waves” when they get busy. Know what I mean? :)

So, since I don’t really see any free time in my near future, I wanted to share some things that I loved online this past week.

Articles:

1. This article “Are We Done Playing Games” by Steve Hafler. We know Steve and Toni  and our church supported them for years while they were missionaries in Africa. If you have sons, you should read this.

2. This article by Noel Piper on Godly friendships and a warning to women, especially  ministry wives, who do not have intimate friendships in the church. If you cannot receive encouragement, instruction and correction without shutting people out of your life, or becoming bitter, the problem is your own. She shares how God opened her eyes to the need that she was not self sufficient. I am MORE thankful than ever that God does not leave us alone, but that He gives us godly friendships!

3. This article on contentment and discontentment from Joy Forney, missionary wife in Indonesia. We all struggle with this from time to time and I really appreciated this article.

4. You all know Elizabeth, because she has guest posted here before. I loved this article on Trusting God and praising Him when we are surprised by life.

Cute Crafts:

This paper chain for Valentines Day. So cute and perfect for kids who LOVE to cut up construction paper in general. {ahem}

Free Ebook

Do you read on your ipod or kindle? I love that you can download free books and it does not take up any space on your actual bookshelf, which equals less clutter and less dust! ha,ha

So, did you all see this free ebook  Organized Simplicity? (free for a limited time. A $16.99 savings!)  If you can just get one great idea out of it, it was worth downloading it.   :)

By the way, we are praying for SNOW!! It is New England and we want to go sledding but our ground is bare. So pray for snow for us, won’t you?? :)

I hope you have a wonderful week serving your family and living out God’s priorities for your life!

{I know I have said this before, but just because I link to an article, does not mean that I fully endorse an entire website/blog. I have not read entire blogs or sites, so please just use discretion like you would anywhere. That should go without saying, but you never know! )

Hospital-ity

When you think about hospitality, don’t think entertaining. Don’t think about impressing or killing yourself making a five course meal.

Think hospital. Think healing. Think soul care.

Every day we cross paths with people who simply need kindness. And yet, kindness is so very rare in our rush-about, fast paced, production oriented culture. We are “producers”, and caring takes time, which slows.us. down.and.hinders.production.

Our husbands need a safe place. A kind word from a kind wife. Our kids need our time and attention. A look in the eye that shows that we are listening and really care.  And that lady at church–the one with all the little kids who always looks exhausted–she needs to hear that she is doing a good job, and that her life matters. She needs someone to care for her exhausted body and mind.

When you open your heart and home to others by caring–soul care, if you will– you are meeting a variety of needs–physical, emotional and spiritual. And like a skilled physician, you must decipher which is needed and then set about to administer the proper remedy.

Weary souls make their way to someone who loves enough to care. It is an inroad for the gospel.  It is amazing to think that the treatment for so many maladies can be had over a cup of warm tea, or a cold diet coke.

And, you never know the private pain that someone is enduring on the inside. My mother used to tell us that sometimes people are smiling on the outside, but on the inside, they might be crying.

I love this example of hospitality lived out in the life of Sarah Edwards, wife of the famous preacher, Jonathan Edwards, of the Great Awakening:

Familiar from childhood with the rules of decorum and good breeding, affable and easy in her manners, and governed by the feelings of liberality and benevolence, she [Sarah] was remarkable for her kindness to her friends, and to the visitants who resorted to Mr. Edwards;

sparing no pains to make them welcome, and to provide for their convenience and comfort. She was also peculiarly kind to strangers who came to her house. By her sweet and winning manners and ready conversation, she soon became acquainted with them, and brought them to feel acquainted with herself; and showed such concern for their comfort, and so kindly offered what she thought they needed, that while her friendly attentions discovered at once that she knew the feelings of a stranger, they also made their way directly to his heart, and gaining his confidence, led him im-mediately to feel as if he were at home, in the midst of near and affectionate friends.  Memoirs of Jonathan Edwards, pg. 71

Like Sarah Edwards, we must win the heart to be effective for Christ.

We can’t be a “love on Sunday” kinda Christian. We need to go about doing good seven days a week, starting in our own home.

Linked to Darlene at Time Warp Wife and The Better Mom (as in, I want to be a better mom. :)) and Courtney

Inexpensive Way to Organize Your Scarves

We were spring cleaning closets today, and I was thinking of ways to organize all of our scarves.  I love scarves. They are an instant pick-me-up to any outfit. But mine were a mess–just thrown in a box,  hung on a hook, or whatever. So my daughter Emily came up with this idea. Ta-da! Hang them on a coat hanger with shower curtain rings ($1.50 @ Walmart). Then you can hang them neatly in your closet.  Simple, easy and inexpensive! :)

If you have woven or knit scarves, just be careful when you pull them out to not pull them where the shower ring clasp is!

Do you have any inexpensive storage tips to share?

Missed yesterdays post? Creative Ways to Beat Winter Boredom with Little Ones

On Facebook? We have a lovely community of women who love sharing ideas and learning new things. From balancing life with little ones to getting advice about child training, we talk about it all. :)  Click “like” on the right hand sidebar.

Creative Ways to Beat Winter Boredom With Little Ones

Winters can seem L-O-N-G when you are a homeschooling mom of little ones. I think it is because we tend to hunker down and plow through our schoolwork with little to no regard for how long it takes. We all get tired of being inside and of school in general. {yup. I know you think that homeschool mom’s  LOVE teaching, but that is not always so!}

So, here are a few ideas to help you change up your day with your little ones and perhaps help beat those winter blues that we all face before spring.

1. Go out for a snowy walk. Bundle up and just go. Bring a Thermos of  hot chocolate with you if you like. The winter air perks everyone up.

2. Do a winter sport. Go ice skating. If you don’t have any frozen cranberry bogs nearby, then look for a rink that has public skate available. Organize a sledding party and meet up at a great sledding hill. The kids sled, the mom’s talk and sip warm drinks. It is a win-win!

3. Visit the library. We frequent our little town library, but every once in a while we make the trek to a bigger library in our area to see what resources they have available. You’d be amazed what the library offers now.

3. Learn a new hobby yourself. Take up painting, knitting or crocheting. Do something creative. For kids, try Sculpey, beading kits, big bendy pipe cleaners, an airplane model, etc…

4. Have an indoor picnic. Little ones like opening a lunch bag when they are not used to a packed lunch like traditional school kids. Spread out a blanket and let them play.

5. Blow bubbles in a pan. You know that Williams Sonoma three piece cake pan set you got for Christmas? Fill the bottom  pan with 1/4 inch of bubbles and give your kid a straw. Let them blow bubbles in the pan to their hearts content. (I have no idea why they love doing this, but they do. And your WS pan suddenly becomes worth more as a bubble base than as a cake base. Trust me.It is an investment in your sanity. he,he)

6. Cut paper snowflakes and hang them on the windows. Add glitter to them for some extra sparkle.

7. Make a “house” out of cardboard boxes for dolls, or a garage for cars for boys. The kids can cut windows out of them and decorate them with markers.

8. Make cards using pretty paper, fancy edged scissors and pretty pictures from a magazine or old calendar. Send a note to a grandparent, a sick friend, or an nursing home resident.

9. Combine your toy sets. Block, matchboxes, Playmobil, etc…can be more exciting when they are used together. Blocks become the city that the cars drive through. Give the kids your  aprons and let them “cook” with wooden beads, cut up paper and a wooden bowl to play house and make a paper soup. (can you tell I have 4 girls?) In our house, this usually works best under our kitchen table which is covered by a blanket to make a “house.”

10. Visit a museum. Libraries often have passes to local museums to keep costs affordable for all families. I have rarely paid more than $5 per person using a pass.

What other fun things do you do to change up your wintery days?

Facebook Giveaway!

Ruth Beechick’s The Three 3’s Giveaway on our Facebook Page.

This was one of my FAVORITE homeschooling resources when I started out on our homeschooling journey. It is probably the ONE book I loaned out more than any other to friends who needed that little confidence boost to pursue homeschooling.

I know the book looks outdated and the cover art is nothing special, but it is what’s inside that counts. Trust me. :)

Here is what Homeschool Expert Cathy Duffy says about The Three 3’s:

Dr. Beechick has a remarkable talent for demystifying the educational process. She explains what needs to be accomplished, then presents easy and practical ways to meet those goals. She stresses the importance of parent/child interaction, real-life experience, and the value of reading “real” books. (This is very compatible with Charlotte Mason methodology.)

I really believe that anyone teaching young children should read these books. They are tremendous confidence builders. On top of that, the set also includes a two-sided math and phonics chart.

I know you are not all on Facebook, but for those of you who are, I wanted to let you know that you can enter to win!

Just share the post on FB and then comment on the FB page telling me you did so. Easy-peasy. Winner will be picked Friday at 6pm EST.  For US residents only.

Is Anything Too Hard For God?

Today my daughter went back to college. We had a wonderful Christmas vacation together. I am thrilled that she has this opportunity, but you know how it is… I MISS HER!

Well, I was in tears as I went to bed last night and of course I cried this morning as she left for the airport. It is a wonderful, bitter sweet thing to see your children following God and becoming independent.

So, as I held back my tears and gulped down my morning coffee, I read of Sarai, the wife of Abraham. She had her share of hardship, trials, and unfulfilled desires.  And in the midst of her nomadic, childless,  unpredictable existence we read these words: “Is anything too hard for  the Lord?” (Gen. 18:14)

Sometimes we have little “trials” like missing a child.

But sometimes the trouble is greater.

And yet in all our circumstances, God knows exactly what we need physically, emotionally and spiritually.

I was comforted and consoled as I read these words this morning:

Because you live your life in God’s presence, you can never be anywhere that God isn’t: He is always with you(Ps. 139:7-12). You can never be separated from the loving presence of the Lord (Romans 8:35-39). Wherever you are–dealing with whatever trial, facing whatever problem, enduring whatever difficulty–you can be assured that God knows, sees, hears, cares and will provide for you.

God was so gracious to me today and I was aware of His presence and comfort all throughout the day.  It truly is a beautiful thing to be a child of such a good God.

This weekend, my daughter’s played their violins together in church. Hearing them together always makes me smile. Plus they played one of my favorite songs, “For the Beauty of the Earth.” So, I leave you with this:

linked to Miss Courtney