Friday, October 31, 2008

A Red-Vanned Day

I drove our red 15-passenger van on the road for the first time today!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Handmaiden of the Lord, Post #4

A Handmaiden of the Lord is...

... industrious

I've been sewing for almost two days straight.


On Tuesday morning, I was at my machine by 7:30. After a little while, I took a 30 minute break for breakfast, and was back at my machine again as soon as I was done. Several hours later, I took a 30 minute break for lunch, and then was back to my machine.

An hour or two before supper time, I finished all the machine work on my project, and was ready to start on the extensive handwork that needed to be done before the project was finished.

I was tired of being indoors on a beautiful fall day. The sky was clear blue, and the leaves were like glowing gems littering the ground. I took about an hour to go outside and trim a hedge that has needed to be cut for several weeks. It felt so good to finally get that job done. Even nicer was the break from being indoors.

Right after that, Mom and I had to run out on a brief errand. We got back right before supper.

After supper, I was able to sew for an hour or two on my bed before turning in.

Wednesday morning. I slept late, because of the time I had gone to sleep, but right after breakfast I sat on my bed and sewed. My hope chest, which sits right beside my bed, quickly became covered with loose threads, a pincushion, ribbon, pattern pieces, elastic, scissors, spools of thread, and everything else that goes along with a sewing project.

Except for a lunch break, I sewed straight through the day. Oh how cramped my legs became! I only stopped in time to eat supper at 5:30. Right after supper, we went to prayer meeting at our church. When we got home, around 9:30, I picked up my sewing again.

I finished the project before I fell asleep last night.

Now...why have a told y'all this story?

Well, for several reasons. First, to explain why I haven't posted on here since Monday. Second, I thought the example went well with the next topic in our "Handmaiden of the Lord" series.

Not because I was industrious. Actually, although I've known I had a deadline for this project for almost a month, I waited to get really serious about sewing it until the middle of the week before last. The pressure of the past two days was entirely my fault. I didn't plan ahead enough to know how long the project would take me.

I suppose I just wanted y'all to know why the topic of sewing is in the forepart of my mind. Now, to the topic of industry.

When I speak of industry in the context of being a handmaiden of the Lord, I am thinking about the way a woman furthers the productivity of her home. I am thinking about being entrepreneurial. That is really my topic today. Industriousness is just the character quality that can cause a woman to be entrepreneurial.

You can all guess what verses I found to go along with this post: Proverbs 31.

13 She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.
14 She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar.
15 She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.
16 She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.
17 She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.
18 She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.
19 She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.
20 She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.
22 She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.
24 She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.
25 Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.
26 She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.
27 She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.

These verses (pardon the awkward layout) just overflow with the spirit of industry. This woman is busy, busy, busy. She uses what she has to create more of what she needs. She does so many different things! And she's so generous with what she earns!

A woman should not be a drain on the household. That is a phrase that is my head quite often. Because I am a stay-at-home daughter, I have to deal with folks who think I am being a drain on my home. Thankfully, many people we know are very understanding, but there are also those who...well, I guess they think a girl must be at college or working in an office (or library or fast food place, or store) to truly be grown up or profitable. I think they honestly can't imagine what I find to do all day at home, now that I'm not in school.

Well, first things first; I'm not at home all day every day. In fact, I'm out quite a bit, I think. But that's beside the point. I could live 40 miles from the nearest city and still have a worthwhile life, because there IS a lot for me to do at home.

Let's forget about the basic upkeep of a home; cooking, cleaning, laundry, childcare, etc. I can't handle two big topics at once. They point today is about being entrepreneurial. The woman in Proverbs 31 was contributing to her home in a very real way.

First, though, what is the point in being entrepreneurial? Is is to prepare us to be breadwinners? Hardly. I am not learning business skills so that I can provide for myself in case I never marry. I am learning business skills because I want to help my future husband in whatever calling he has, and because I want to help my father right now. My entrepreneurial efforts are quite profitable now, in the present. They are not a forlorn effort to prepare for the dreaded possibility of being left alone in the world.

This is a very important point. My work should be a sort of background work, branching off the desires of the head of the household. The talents and skills God has given me are to be used, and used creatively.

Secondly, being entrepreneurial is basically "having a home business," but I don't believe every woman needs to have one of those to qualify as a good woman of God. That's why I listed "industrious" as the topic of this post, not "entrepreneurial." A woman can contribute to her home in a variety of ways.

A penny saved is truly a penny earned. My mother doesn't have a home business, but she can make a grocery bill come out so low my mouth hits the floor by the checkout counter. If my father didn't have her frugal ways backing him up, he would probably have to be earning a third more money to be providing for his family. This is a skill I so want to inherit from my Mom!
Trading services for items, or visa-versa also keeps the household expenses down. Being careful not to waste does the same thing.

The whole point of keeping costs down, of course, is not to make our families rich. It's to make them more profitable. It's to make it possible for the head of the house to dream big, to give big, and obey big.

All that being said, however, the fact remains that the Proverbs 31 woman did have a home business of sorts, and it is evidently smiled upon.

So what can you do? I have just recently started sewing for a profit. I also teach sewing lessons. I used to tutor for a homeschooling mother. I occasionally do childcare.

The money I earn makes it possible for me to tithe and give, to purchase gifts for others, save money for the future, help missionaries, buy Bibles for other countries, and to buy most of my own clothing, shoes, hair stuff, etc. I'm not taking over Dad's job as provider, and I'm not trying to "strike out on my own." Dad knows that. I'm just trying to help the household, and further God's kingdom.

Money is a tool, and being able to earn it is wonderful, because of all that can be accomplished with it. I dream of the day I'll be able to give a LOT of money to mission work. That would make Dad and Mom so happy. It would make me so happy, because I love the One whose work I would be giving to.

In a practical sense, I'm not sure I could give much advice on earning money. You must earn from your angle, using your particular talents. You must make sure everything you are doing is right and biblical, and is being done with the right motive. You must retain the desire to be a woman, not a man. You must strive for excellence in what you do, so that the people you interact with will see that a Christian is honest and industrious.

You must go with the flow of your family. I love the fact that both of my parents were involved in the starting of my sewing business. Mom gave me the tools I needed to complete the setting up my sewing room, and kept encouraging me to start a business until I listened to her. Dad talks about me all over his workplace, and therefore got me my one of my first customers. He loves to "advertise" for one of his children. Knowing that he is proud of me, and is actively encouraging people to give me business give such solidity to me. I know that he approves of what I'm doing. I just couldn't run a business my parents disapproved of.

If any of my readers have more practical tips on the topic of earning money from home, I would sure love to hear them. Oh - I also would like to share this website, which sells business cards. Business cards are a valuable home-business tool, and this price is right!

(To read more "A Handmaiden of the Lord" posts, click here.)

Rules for Participation:

Each of you ladies - old and young - who read this blog have insight that you can contribute for the edification of the rest of us. Particularly those of you who are older in the faith...but even younger sisters can have words of wisdom. I would like to humbly request your active involvement in this series.

In the comment section of each post, I would like each of you to do one of two things;

~ 1: If you do not have a blog, please leave your thoughts directly in the comment section.

~ 2: If you have a blog, please go there and write a small post containing your thoughts on whatever quality is under discussion here. Make it Biblical; share verses the Lord has used in your heart. The world is full of opinions - we don't need more of that. We need more of the Lord.

Then come back here and leave a link to your post in the comment section. (To make it easier for us to find the right post, please link directly to the post, not your front page.) If you would like to, please direct your blog readers here so that they can find more discussion, from other readers.

This is only a small corner of Blog Land, and I know that I don't reach many ladies - at least not as many as I would like. But this topic - becoming a better Handmaiden of the Lord - is so important that I wish we could talk to thousands. If we start linking to one another, perhaps the word will get out, and we can reach more and more women who care about the Lord.

Monday, October 27, 2008

We just got great news!

Remember this?

For those of you who have been readers here for more than a few weeks, you might remember the tale of my family's vacation to North Carolina this summer. One of the highlights I mentioned in the recount was the time we spent labeling this mountain of packages. (The photos don't do it justice; there were 9,185 envelopes.)

Inside these packages were bundles of selected books and other literature. They were being sent to pastors in several states in the lower portion of America.

Tonight, a lady from the church that sent these packages out contacted my sister Heather. The lady said that a pastor from Alabama had called her husband and talked for 20 minutes straight about how much the books had blessed him. He said he had just preached the best revival meeting he had ever had.

"I just thought you would like to know, since you helped label the packages," our friend wrote to Heather.

When Heather read the note aloud to all of us, we couldn't help but smile. Imagine! God can use even menial (but fun!) tasks to bless folks. ...Folks that we'll probably never see...until we get to Heaven. Praise Him!

Malawi and Music

Last night, a missionary family visited our church. They are raising support to go to Malawi, Africa.

I learned quite a bit about Malawi that I didn't know before. For example, I believe there are 13 million people in that country, and the geographical size of it is about equivalent to Tennessee. The people of Malawi are well known for their kindness and warmth; Malawi is known as "the warm heart of Africa."

The country of Malawi is amazingly poor. Though only 20% of the land is fit for farming, that is the way 90% of the people make a living. Our Pastor was a missionary for 25 years, and has been many times to the country of Romania. He says that the Romanians are very poor, but they are sending missionaries to Malawi, and the Romanians are amazed at the poverty there.

David Livingston opened the country of Malawi through his explorations. Because of his work, the slave trade in Malawi was eradicated. From that time, the country had been open to the gospel, but it has also been a sowing place for the seeds of deception. Numerous cults, as well as the Islam religion in recent years, have been established there. True Christianity is rare.

Despite this, the people there (in general) are very open to witnessing. Even the Islamic circles have not yet developed the hatred for Christianity that is found in other Islamic countries. It is said that the Malawi people are quick to believe when the gospel is explained to them. They just haven't heard before.

To see a field THIS white unto harvest makes my breath come quickly. What an opportunity! I am so glad this family is going there. And I'm glad I've had the blessing of meeting them, and getting to know them.

This family has seven girls, ranging in age from 12 to 22. They all sing, and six of them play instruments.

I don't remember if I've mentioned this before on my blog, but three of my siblings and I have joined together with three siblings from another family in our church to make a music group. The seven of us get together and practice almost every week, and whenever we can we do specials for church, visit nursing home-type places, or go out anywhere else we have an opening to play.

At the request of folks at our church, we've given our group a name; The King's Strings. Between the seven of us, we have two guitars (but three guitar players!), one banjo, one banjatar (a cross between a banjo and a guitar. Both of my brothers can play this), one violin, one flute, two mandolins, and three possible harmonicas (they don't all play at the same time). We also have a couple piano players amongst us, though that's not a very portable instrument. :)

The family visiting us had...oh, let's see...I think they had three guitars, one banjo, two violins, and four mandolins. Oh yes - the father can play the trumpet, and several of the girls can play piano.

...Can you guess where this is heading?

Yup; we had a deliriously fun time after the service was over. FIFTEEN instruments going at once! (One of my brothers was playing two at the same time, and one sibling who doesn't usually join in with The King's Strings decided to play the piano.)

One piano. One flute. One harmonica. One banjatar. Two banjos. Two violins. Four guitars. Three mandolins. (...or was it three guitars and four mandolins?)


Talk about loud. Talk about complex! Talk about fun. We just played, and played, and played.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Close your eyes, and imagine...

The cold metallic taste of pinheads is between my lips. The taste is as familiar as homemade bread. My tongue presses hard against the pins and the roof of my mouth as I concentrate.

A 60" white-and-black tape measure is draped around my neck, like a smooth and harmless snake. It feels as natural draped on me as a favorite sweater would be. The ends dangle in the air every time I lean forward across the table.

Orange scissors fit into my hand as if they were intentionally made the exact shape of my palm. They snip - sometimes sharply, severing thin thread. Sometimes they make the even zzzzt zzzt sound of scissors cutting stiff fabric.

My machine talks to me; "Um-in, Um-in, Um-in," the needle goes up and down, up and down. Just as I'm beginning to wonder if it will never take a breath, I reach the end of my seam and lift my foot off the pedal. Before I begin the next seam, I slip my foot out of my shoe, and enjoy the feeling of contact between my warm bare foot and the hard plastic foot of my machine.

My fingers automatically slide around to the metal lever that snaps the presser foot into place atop the fabric. Another seam is begun.

It is all so natural. Like eating. Or sleeping.

Until something goes wrong, of course. But even that seems natural, because it happens so often.

* * * * *

Can you tell I've been sewing today?

Can you also tell that I messed up?

And it's an order - an item for someone else. Oops. Don't tell; I'll be able to fix it. Really. It'll only take a couple of...gulp...hours.

But I do like thinking about how natural sewing feels. I'm glad I've grown up doing it. Most of the time, it's a little stressful - if I'm looking for therapeutic, I'll go find my crochet hook, not my sewing machine - but at the same time...

...I like sewing.

I like what goes on in my mind as I sew. It's a wonderful time to pray. And talk to myself.

Sometimes, ya know, yourself is hard to know. But if I don't know myself, who can I know? I need to know what I really think about certain issues. I need to know what I'd do in certain situations. I need to know what sins are bubbling in my heart, ready to come to the surface when I'm tempted and don't flee to Christ.

It's easy to assume I'm the person I want me to be. I know - in a general way - what I want to be like. And I know all my thoughts; when I snap at that little sibling, I know that I did it because I have a headache. Inside, I'm really a patient person.

But she doesn't know. Neither does anyone else.

When I mean to do something, and don't do it, I can tell myself that it's the thought that counted...and then count myself as kind and nice and sweet, because I meant to do that thing.

Every so often, it's good to stop and face the fact that me isn't what I want me to be, me is what I am. The person I desire to be is just that; the person I desire to be. It isn't me.

This thought is intricately tied up with the thought "God." He is the only other person who knows what I think I am, inside. He also sees how I live, and speak, look, I really am. When I cry because I don't live up to what I think I should be, His Word is there, reminding me that "only by pride cometh contention." Only my pride set me up to fall.

When I sing because the "real" me came out and lived for a few moments, He is the One who can share my joy, because only He knows how wonderful it feels.

When I weep with confusion, not knowing who I really am, He is there. He is the only one who knows the secret of who I really am. Oh yes, I know a little about who I am: I am a sinner. A saved sinner...but a sinner. That condemning , hopeless name, "sinner," has been seared into me since birth.

I also know I've been adopted. I'm a child of the very One whose law once doomed me. That makes me marvel. It makes my heart ache. It makes me topple over with astonishment. It makes me want to kiss His blessed feet. O, if only I could have been Mary! To wet His feet with my tears, and wipe them with my hair! To actually touch Him! It is the first thing I want to do when I get home; I want to kiss His feet.
But I really don't know much else about me. What I want to be and what I actually am are so tangled up somehow...

I'm so glad I don't have to know. I don't really have to know me. "If I don't know myself who can I know?" Why, the answer is so simple:


Why bother knowing me, anyway? What's so special about that?

"But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and KNOWETH me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD." (Jeremiah 9:24)

I love how God's Word makes complex things so simple.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Keeping Track of the Time

Whew! What a Tuesday this has been!

I feel as if I've been busy all day. ...Well, I guess I have a good reason to feel that way; I have been busy all day. :)

I spent all morning doing childcare for a group of mothers, and one little guy in particular was really fussy, so I held and walked him for about two hours straight.

Then home for a quick lunch, and to hang clothes out on the line.

Then out to do some shopping with my sister Heather. We've both needed to get some things for quite awhile, but haven't had the time to go out. Today we made time, and I'm glad we did. I think we're both pretty satisfied with the deals we got. Shopping with a sister is always fun.

Then home again - first to do some garden-watering and lettuce-picking with Dad, then to do some sewing on a order I need to complete within a few days. I'm a bit daunted by all I have left to accomplish on that project, but I'm pleased with the progress I made.

A few moments ago, I headed here, to the computer, to see if I can cut open button holes and do computer work at the same time. In just a little while I will need to go help Mom in the kitchen.

All together, though it may not look like much on paper, I feel like I've done a lot today. And that's a good feeling.

But I guess that's beside the point. The real point of this post is supposed to be a kitchen tip I wanted to share with y'all.

I hope I'm not the only person in the world who used to loose my watch constantly. The reason I kept loosing it was because I kept taking it off to wash dishes. I'd leave it on sometimes, but water would splash on it, leak inside, then evaporate up onto the inside of the glass, and I couldn't see the face of the watch.

So then I'd set it on a kitchen shelf, and forget to put it back on...or I'd stick it in a pocket, and then it would end up going to the laundry room...or I'd do something else with it, and forget that "safe" place where I'd stuck it.

It seemed to be a choice between wearing a watch, or being a helping hand in the kitchen. That's an easy choice - I knew I had to wash dishes. But surely there was a way to both have a watch, and a clean kitchen. ...?

Then I started wearing aprons.

...But even then the solution didn't click right away. But one day it did...

Tada! I clip the band around my apron tie, and let it stay there until I'm done fussing in the water.

There's no way I can forget to put my watch back on, because my fingertips always find it as I reach around to untie my apron.

Of course, if you adopt this course, be prepared to have every member of the family ask at least once, "what is your watch doing back there...upside down?"

Just smile sweetly, and say, "oh, it's there so I don't loose it."

Friday, October 17, 2008

Guess what?

Proverbs 31: 13, 18, & 24

"She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands...

...She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night...
She maketh fine linen and selleth it..."

I just sold my first quilt! Yippee!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

What season is it, anyway?

We ate tomato sandwiches for lunch today. There were leftovers.

This afternoon, as I drove into the driveway after being out on an errand, I saw a single red rose, in full bloom, on Mom's rose bush.

Is this October?

A Handmaiden of the Lord, Post #3

A Handmaiden of the Lord is...


"Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: neither give place to the devil." ~ Ephesians 4:26-27

"Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That you may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, and the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain." ~Philippians 2:14-16

"And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." ~ Philippians 4:7

"...To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men." ~ Titus 3:2

"For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God." ~ James 1:20

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; against such there is no law." ~ Galations 5:22-23

"He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city." ~ Proverbs 16:32

"Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom." ~ Proverbs 13:10

"Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in anywise to do evil." ~ Psalm 37:8

"They angered him also at the waters of strife, so that is went ill with Moses for their sakes: Because they provoked his spirit, so that he spake unadvisedly with his lips." ~ Psalm 106:32-33

Gentleness. What do you imagine when you hear that word? What is a gentle woman like?

I was really a little amazed when I began looking for Bible verses that mention the topic of gentleness. There are many similar qualities a woman of God is supposed to have; submissiveness, humbleness, love, joy, peace...

...but they all seem to be involved in this trait, as if it is the outflow of the inward parts. A girl can't be gentle without being loving, or peaceful. Gentleness ties many other things together.

Unlike some spiritual qualities, this one transfers to the physical world very nicely and very obviously. I don't mean that love, joy, peace, and patience aren't shown in the natural world - they are. I just mean that being gentle takes a lot more bodily control.

We have all seen the girl or woman who is not gentle; she is harsh with children, noisy in her movements, and quick of temper. She is rough. Her voice is often raised, and people around her must walk as if close to a lighted fuse.

Not all folks who lack gentleness are this obvious. Some manage to hide their lack of it pretty well. Their body is as graceful as a ballerina's, and their voice controlled - most of the time. But every so often a leak is sprung, and their inward self bubbles out, all the more stinging for being pent up for so long.

The girl or woman who is truly gentle is that way only because the Spirit of the Living God has done a work in her heart. The deeper you dig into her heart, the more gentleness you find. There is no cover-up here; she is genuine.

If she becomes angry, she controls that anger, and does not say or do things she will be sorry for later. She does not use arguments and complains to try to change things. She just refuses to brawl. Her motions are controlled and purposeful. She does not lash out. Everyone thinks of her as gentle - and they know where she gets that from.

But how? How did this fruit of the Spirit blossom so beautifully? Why do I have such trouble with it?

I don't think the gentle woman's gentleness is something she works at "putting on." Can you imagine going into your kitchen and saying, "Hmm, I sure wish this room smelled like freshly baked cookies. What can I do to imitate that smell?"

Honestly. Just bake some cookies! Then the good smells will be a natural outcome.

Likewise, peace and contentment, and joy and security in a woman's heart will make her naturally gentle.

The area of gentleness I struggle with the most is with my family. When Mom asks me to do something I don't want to do, or my siblings are trying my patience, those are the times I want to blow through the roof. If I'm going to raise my voice or (yikes) stomp my foot, those are the times I'm going to do it.

And I always have a good explanation. "He really was being difficult!" "She was totally unfair!" "She was downright rude to me!"

The verses that help me the most with this problem are Psalm 106:32-33. Here, the Bible refers to the time Moses disobeyed God, lost his temper in front of the whole nation of Israel, and therefore was punished by not going into the Promised Land.

And do you notice what it says? Moses was provoked. The people really were being awful. He had, as we would say "every reason" to loose his temper.

So he did.

And God punished him.

When that first struck me, I felt horrible. I knew that this meant that God didn't look at how big the provocation was - He expected me to obey anyway. And His Word does command me to be gentle. I was thinking that if I had a good reason, I could blow my top. He was saying that the reason had nothing to do with it.

A gentle woman is so beautiful. Just to watch her live is a pleasure. She really shows the love of Christ. And a gentle woman is what God tells me to be. It is a high standard. But by the grace of God, we can become gentle handmaidens in the midst of a perverse and crooked nation, among whom we will shine as lights in the world.

(To read more "A Handmaiden of the Lord" posts, click here.)

Rules for Participation:

Each of you ladies - old and young - who read this blog have insight that you can contribute for the edification of the rest of us. Particularly those of you who are older in the faith...but even younger sisters can have words of wisdom. I would like to humbly request your active involvement in this series.

In the comment section of each post, I would like each of you to do one of two things;

~ 1: If you do not have a blog, please leave your thoughts directly in the comment section.

~ 2: If you have a blog, please go there and write a small post containing your thoughts on
whatever quality is under discussion here. Make it Biblical; share verses the Lord has used in your heart. The world is full of opinions - we don't need more of that. We need more of the Lord.

Then come back here and leave a link to your post in the comment section. (To make it easier for us to find the right post, please link directly to the post, not your front page.) If you would like to, please direct your blog readers here so that they can find more discussion, from other readers.

This is only a small corner of Blog Land, and I know that I don't reach many ladies - at least not as many as I would like. But this topic - becoming a better Handmaiden of the Lord - is so important that I wish we could talk to thousands. If we start linking to one another, perhaps the word will get out, and we can reach more and more women who care about the Lord.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

What we did on Saturday...

...We had a wonderful opportunity for evangelism.

I remember that, throughout the week, I had been feeling a little envious of my blog friend Leah, who often shares on her blog the ways she and her family are able to get out in their community and witness to folks. I haven't been actively pursuing opportunities, and I knew that part of my envy was really guilt.

To be honest, it is hard for me to find opportunities to witness - when I leave our home, I am usually (85% of the time) going into Christian circles, which, though this may not be right, switches my mind to "off" mode. In other words, "I don't have to think about telling these folks about salvation." I can relax.

If I want witnessing chances, I have to create them. Which requires a little effort. ...So I often get lazy.

But God is God, and perhaps He took pity on me, and that's why He handed me this witnessing opportunity without me doing anything.

Some friends of ours were hosting a Fall Festival at their church this past Saturday, as an outreach, and they asked my sister Heather and I to help out with the craft tent. They also asked my Dad to do a gospel illusion show.

Heather and I had seats at a table, under the shade of a tent. On the table were a box of beads, bundles of leather strips, and stacks of tracts. We were near the entrance of the festival, and anyone coming in had to walk by the tent. We sat there, and people came to us. Talk about being handed opportunities!

The craft we were making was wordless color bracelets. For those of you unfamiliar with this, the basic idea is that each of five colors represents a part of the gospel, and by telling the person who is doing the craft what each color means, you are able to share the good news. I have seen wordless bracelets used for the easy-believeism method of evangelism, but their usefulness really depends on who is using them.

Anyway...there we sat. Most of the people we helped were little folks - a lot of little girls. We were especially careful when sharing the gospel with these little folks, because it's so easy to get a child to say whatever you want them to say - and just words never saved anyone. In most cases, I simply explained what the gospel was, and left it at that, waiting to see if they were genuinely interested.

Though little girls were our main crowd, a few mothers stopped by as well. I was able to enter into spiritual conversations with a few of them. One in particular stands out in my mind.

Her child wasn't at our tent. But she was simply hot and tired of standing in line at other places, so she came over and jokingly asked if she was too old to do a craft.

"Oh, no. Please, have a seat."

I proceeded to guide her through making a bracelet.

I wish I had the time and memory to recount the entire conversation. The lady was not saved, but seemed to be a little fascinated by the meanings I attached to the colors. Though she could talk all the talk, I don't think she'd ever heard the gospel in its entirety before. Sad, isn't it?

Then, of course, when her conscience began to prick her, she changed the topic from personal salvation, to "church politics," as she called it. She had all sorts of bones to pick with the churches she had been in. I gently told her that all that was unimportant, compared to the destiny of her soul. I again tried to use the ten commandments to help her see herself as a sinner.

Heather says I'm a little too "debating" when I witness to folks. ...I am passionate. I'm praying that I will improve. I don't want anything about me to keep folks from hearing the message. But, to be honest, there's really no lovely way to tell someone they're a sinner. It's a very black picture. It's not me accusing them (I hope) - the Bible is the mirror.

This lady refused to see herself as a sinner. She kept justifying herself. "I'm a lot better now than I used to be. I've changed from what I was." When I asked her if her past had been paid for, she gave me a look.

"I think I've paid for what I've done."

"But living correctly now," I said, though I knew she couldn't be living right without Christ, "won't make up for the times you sinned in your past. The sins are still there."

We seemed to go 'round in circles for a little while. I was praying hard that the Lord would guide me in what to say. I didn't want to debate her. I wanted to see the Holy Spirit convict her.

I guess her conscience had finally had enough. She turned and started...well...attacking me - if that word isn't too strong.

"So, I guess you're perfect, huh? Why are you wearing a skirt? Do you think that saves you? Why do you have long hair? Do you think you're better than everyone with short hair?"

Why this. Why that.

"Do you think you're better than the other denominations? You think the other denominations are saved, but not the Jehovah witnesses and mormons. They believe the same thing you do, but I bet you wouldn't be friends with them. I'm friends with everybody. I think that as long as they have faith in their religion, they'll all end up in the same place."

I believe the same thing as a Jehovah witness and the mormons? (Never mind the fact that they don't even agree with each other.) Where did that come from? We hadn't even talked about denominations, let alone Jehovah witnesses and mormons.

She went on and on, determined to tie as many knots as possible.

I didn't want to take the time to answer every accusation. She needed to realize her need for Christ, not engage in long conversations about issues not even all Christians agree on 100%.

I was reminded of the woman at the well, in Samaria. She, too, wanted to talk about "religion," when Jesus wanted to talk about Himself.

I wish my talk with this lady had ended as well as the talk Jesus had with that women. We didn't have hot words - she and I were both very relaxed during our talk - but she never would come around to the topic I wanted to talk about the most - what she was going to do with the Saviour.

Finally, we had a surge of children come to the tent, and she said she would leave so we would have more seats. I bid her goodbye and thanked the Lord that at least she had heard.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Psalms 127... Adapted

Scene: The Littlest Sister is skipping around the living room, broom in hand. She begins to sing the words to a familiar chapter of the Bible.

Amber, elbow-deep in the dishpan, realizes that something is different.

Little sister bellows out, "...Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that clean it!"

Amber thanks the Lord for siblings, to bring smiles to days when she doesn't feel like smiling.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Simply Put

I like reading the posts written at keeperofthehome every Saturday. "Living Simply." What a lovely phrase!

I thought I'd participate this Saturday, because the topic of simplicity has been on my mind this week. I'm going to share the four words that I keep thinking. They are very simplistic, and probably very obvious, but - hey - they help:

"It will get done."


Now, this only works for me because for me it's true - things will get done...eventually.

You see, if I allow myself to walk around the house, quoting my "to do" list inside my head constantly, worrying about what will happen if I don't cross things off quickly enough...I can become frantic and stressed very quickly.

That is counterproductive. When I'm stressed... ...that's when the thread tangles, or the dishes break, or the spray bottle is lost - in short, things take longer to accomplish, and I have a bad attitude in the mean time.

Why put myself - and the people around me - through all that? It is so much more pleasing to the Lord if I have a good attitude, and it is a better testimony, too.

Now...this won't work if I use that phrase as an excuse to be lazy. That's another point entirely. But it does help remind me like a lady when I'm busy around the house - or anywhere else, for that matter.

I can just move from one task to the next, and let the next tasks wait by themselves until I get to them. Worrying about them ahead of time won't accomplish them any faster.

So that's my simple little phrase, about simple living. To me, however, there's much more in that phrase than what meets the ...uh...ear. It's about the attitude, and that can be a complicated subject. A person could write pages and pages on that topic.

...And I'm tempted to. But that's too lengthy a topic for today. I want to keep it simple, right? :)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Hope Chests

I'm part of a sewing forum, and I just got on it a little while ago to catch up on what's been happening there.

Lo and behold! Hope chests are the topic of the hour. I just wrote this post to add to the discussion there, and thought I'd share it here:

"...I really like hope chests. I think they are a wonderful idea - mainly because they teach a girl to think seriously about what her life will be like when she gets older. Preparing ahead of time is just good sense! I have the extra time to plan (and extra money to spend) NOW - why not make use of that fact?

My hope chest itself is very special to me. Reading through these posts reminds me that I'm one of a few girls who actually has a CHEST for her things. My Daddy likes to work with wood, and he made mine for me when I was about...16, I think.

It was supposed to be a Christmas or birthday present, but things happen, and I got it in the middle of the year. I didn't mind a bit. It's a lovely chest. It isn't made out of expensive wood - just pine - but I love it. I chose the color I wanted it to be stained, and Dad had me give him an idea of what style I wanted. I also selected the handles - the trip to the hardware store for them is a memory in and of itself. :)

The most special thing about the chest is that Daddy burned his name, the date, and a special message to me from him inside the chest, on the very bottom. Sometimes I'll take everything out (quite a job!) just so I can read that message. :)

I know everyone has different ideas of what should go in a hope chest, but my goal is to fill it with things I will actually USE in the future - and that includes sentimental things, since they have value to me. ...But most of the things in there I have bought or made myself for use in the home I believe God will give me someday.

Some folks say to select neutral things, since your tastes may change before you have a home of your own, so for a long time I was afraid to buy too much for my chest. I did make one queen-size quilt, which filled nearly a 1/4 of the chest.

This year, though, I've begun to realize that my tastes (in color, at least) haven't changed since I was 12 years old, so there's a pretty good chance I won't change before I marry. Now I feel free to buy and make those personalized things I've thought about for years.

I now have 2 quilts in my chest,... afghan (it's huge! I love it. Memories of working on it for months...),
... some random serving dishes, all in blue and white (memories of shopping for it with my older sister!)...
...a hand-powered food processor (too cool!'s in blue, of course.)...
... a quilt my mother made, which covered me for years, until it became to worn to use...
...a book that ladies in my life put together for me when I graduated, full of words of wisdom... old journals... high school diploma...
...a lovely teapot...
...a fall-themed tablecloth...
...a small stoneware baking sheet...
...and I don't remember what else. Just a few odds and ends, like a veggie peeler, and such.

Outside my hope chest - around the house, wherever I can find room to store them:
...more books...
...three pizza stones (love these!)...
...a kitchen chopper (in use!)...
...a lovely little blue-and-white teacup from my sister (again, in use!)...
...a bookshelf my brother made, to match my hope chest (this is really special)...
...and, my most recent addition: a high-quality set of stainless steel pots and pans. (The story for how I got these is AMAZING!)

Also, I have a few projects sitting in my sewing area, waiting to be finished:
...another quilt...
...12 cloth napkins...
...fabric for a table runner, or anything else I decide to make...
...and who knows what else...

Now...if only I had picked up those great deals over the years, I'd be filled to the bursting point! I still keep thinking of that GORGEOUS huge white tablecloth I could have gotten on sale...if only I hadn't listened to that voice that said "your tastes might change later." Ah, well...memories! The stuff life is made of. :)"

So... what about you ladies here? What do you think of hope chests? Do you have one? What is in it? Do you want one? What would you put in it?


...It's a good thing that Blog Land is visual, not audio, 'cause you'd all be in for a sorry post today. I sound like a cross between a horn and a frog. I'm not sure what's wrong with my voice, but it sure is scratchy.

I hope I'm not catching the cold/cough virus that is floating around our community... but you never know. I hope it's just the fact that I've been spending time outside, around leaves. (So it was only about 1/2 an hour...but, hey...I'm "deathly" allergic, right?)

It wouldn't be that bad if it weren't that part of my family is going to see a new-born baby boy tonight, and I won't be with them because I don't want to take a chance on spreading germs. The little one is the first great-grandson of our pastor. His granddaughter has been a good friend to me, and I'm so excited that she has her first child!

...So... change the subject away from my sorry self..... I'll announce that I've been tagged by Ashley.

I've seen this particular meme floating around in Blog Land quite a bit, but hadn't thought about what I would write down if I were tagged.

...I like to be different. Independent. In a good way. And so, I'm going to bend the rules a little on this meme. First, though, I'd better post those rules:

*Link to the person who tagged you. (Ashley)

*Post the rules on your blog. (Which is what I'm doing right now.)

*Write six random things about yourself.

*'Tag' six-or-so other people at the bottom of your post

*Leave comments on their blogs letting them know they've been tagged.

*Let the person who tagged you know when you've written the post. that I've written them, I'm going to bend them.

I can't think of six random things, because I'm not sure what qualifies as "random". Besides, I think it'd be more fun this way:

Y'all think of six random things you'd like to know about me, and I'll pick six of them to answer. Sorry - I won't promise to answer absolutely anything. :):) But I talk about myself so much on this blog - the least I can do is talk about topics I know you want to hear.

Now... because I couldn't resist:

Isn't she the sweetest bunny ever? This is my rabbit, Snickers, as she appeared a few months ago. (I'm slow at loading pictures onto my computer...and even slower about uploading them onto my blog.)

Now she's loosing her summer coat of fur, in favor of a heavier winter one, and looks like a little boy who has just woken from a nap, with tufts of hair sticking up all over the place. Her hutch is full of floating chunks of fur. :)

...And.... I can't think of how to end this post... so I'll just say goodbye for now, and head outside to see what's going on in the garden. I made tomato-lentil soup for lunch today, using fresh tomatoes from our garden. It's October, and we're still getting some!

Yes.. I did say "outside." With all the leaves.

As Mom would say, I'm a glutton for punishment.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Am I allowed to post about my failings on here?


Why is it easy to be rude to them?

Not because they're annoying. (They're not.)

Not because they're unreasonable. (They're not.)

Not because they're unloving. (They're not.)

But because daughters can be sinful human beings.

And selfish.

And unsubmissive.

And impatient.

And unpractical.

And sometimes they can't get a simple little thing like "honor thy father and thy mother" down pat.

Don't worry - I'm not writing this because I just had a big fight with my darling mother. I didn't. I'm just sitting here looking at the Exodus 20:12 (part of which I've embroidered on fabric today), and thinking how often I fail in this command.

The thing that bothers me most is the thought of the times I fail in my head. Those times when I do the right thing on the outside, but inside I'm rebelling.

I want to be submissive and sweet for real. All the way through. And I'm not always. That makes me sad.

It also makes me appreciate the goodness of God more, to think that He doesn't disown me as His child every time I fail. I don't take His forgiveness for granted. It amazes me every day - every new morning. Every time I get up, and go through the day and make it un-perfect.

He has forgiven me.

All my past sins.

All my future ones.


What a God we have.


This season of my life is the busiest I've had yet. Folks tell me it will only get busier... but somehow I can't imagine life being any busier. I don't doubt those folks; I just don't have an imagination with that capacity.

Perhaps someday I'll be looking back at these days, and sighing for their "slow pace"...Maybe. :)

But I'm not complaining. ...I think. I want to use these years to accomplish all I possibly can - through Christ - for His kingdom. I like being young, and full of energy, and full of things to do.

And, on the other hand, I don't always feel like I'm busy enough. There's so much to be done!

Today I spent most of the morning cutting, peeling, and boiling a pumpkin, to make more pumpkin butter. I wish there was a faster way to peel pumpkins! Before breakfast I was able to have a nice long reading and prayer time, and even got a little writing done.

I had hoped to do some sewing this morning, but it didn't happen. This afternoon, I need to teach history to three of my siblings, give piano lessons to two of them, take a trip to the library, run another errand, finish the pumpkin butter, make a phone call, and get some sewing done. ...Oh yes - and tidy my room, make a dish for supper, finish a letter, and study Spanish, ...if I have time.

Opps - got to run. The butter is bubblin', and my siblings are waiting.

Ta ta!

Monday, October 6, 2008

A Handmaiden of the Lord, Post #2

A Handmaiden of the Lord is...

...a good witness.

Whew! What a weekend!

On Saturday, my family, as well as some others from our church, traveled to Charleston, West Virginia, to attend a Way of the Master conference.

Therefore, since this topic is very much on my mind, I decided to choose "a witness" as the next quality for discussion in this series. (To see earlier posts, click here.)

Again, please pause and pray before you continue reading.

Here are references for the verses I found, that deal with this quality. (I know there are many more!) Be sure you get your Bible and look these up! Don't just read the references. :)

~ II Tim. 3:15-17
~ I Peter 3:1-2
~ III John 22-23
~ Prov. 11:30

Now, to tell you about Saturday...

...For those of you unfamiliar with "The Way of the Master," it is a teaching found in the Bible and has been brought to much limelight through a ministry called Living Waters.

In a nutshell, Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron - co-hosts of a radio show, authors of books, and the two main speakers at these conferences - are just urging the church of America to get back to Biblical evangelism.

Modern evangelism tells the sinner "come to Christ just as you are; say this prayer, and you'll be saved." It's like a fire insurance policy. Modern evangelism is afraid to use words like "law," "judgment," and "wrath." It is very consumed and focused on getting the sinner to accept Christ's payment for sin.

There's only one problem: this gospel message assumes the sinner knows he's a sinner. It parades a cure without first bewailing the disease. It ignores the magnitude of the sinner's offense against a holy and righteous God.

Biblical gospel says very clearly that mankind is dead without Christ. We have no hope. Jesus used the Ten Commandments over, and over, and over again, to show people how flawed and sinful they were. Only when they were completely broken and contrite would He share the good news of mercy and forgiveness for sins. Check it out for yourself! Study Jesus' method. (John 4:1-30, Mark 10:17-22, 46-52, John 7:36-50, Luke15:17-24, Matthew 23:11-15) To the humble sinner, he offered "grace." To the proud sinner, it was always "law."

Here are a few highlights from the conference:

Eleven Phrases that Lead to False Conversion
(Oh yes, there is such a thing. Did you ever notice how many people want to label everyone as a "backslider," instead of applying the biblical principle of "no fruit=not saved"?)

1. “Hell fire preaching” ~
See Romans 2:4. While we must warn the sinner of his danger from eternal judgment, FEAR is not the right motivation for salvation. Fear of God, yes...and to some extent, a fear of hell is in order. But this motivation alone is not enough. Be careful when using this phrase.

2. “Just believe” ~
What is this supposed to mean; "JUST believe"? Even the demons believe - and tremble! Belief is not enough. It must be accompanied by repentance.

3. “Accept Jesus” ~
We don’t accept Jesus, Jesus accepts us. No, this is not about Calvinism or being an Armenian. That's not the issue for the moment. The issue is "who is in charge, us or Jesus?" Is He a beggar, standing outside our "heart's door"? WE fall down at HIS feet asking for acceptance, not the other way around.

4. “God shaped hole” ~
Jeremiah 17:9. Modern evangelism says "you have a hole in your heart that only Jesus can fill."


Maybe not. Maybe the sinner is happy the way he is. Maybe he likes his sin. Maybe he isn't sad and longing for "a better life."

It really doesn't matter if he has a hole in his heart or not. The point is, he has sin in his heart, and only Jesus can cure that.

5. “Jesus plus!” …..prosperity.

If we tell the unsaved "Come to Jesus and all will be well - you'll always be happy & fulfilled and at peace - the abundant life!" we are setting them up for problems.


What we have told them is simply not true.

Try preaching that gospel in China or in Middle Eastern countries where Christians are regularly thrown in prison. Can you picture the apostle Paul telling that to someone, as blood dripped down his back from a whipping he had just received?

Yes, we are promised an abundant life. Abundant doesn't automatically = perfect. Abundant means FULL. ...I don't think Paul was ever bored - do you? We must be careful not to promise anything the Bible doesn't promise. In the Bible, Christians are assured they will receive temptations, tribulations, and trials - but the end makes everything else worth it!

6. “Come to Jesus and get joy & goodies”
Faith! Love! Peace! Come to Christ, and have all this! ...Um, yes. But fruits of the Spirit should not be used as a draw card.

7. “Decisional Regeneration” ~
Are we saved because of a decision? Again, who is King here, anyway? A decision does not save you - Jesus saves you.

Now, yes, He does promise to save ALL who come to Him. It's not as if you can humble yourself before Him, ask for salvation, and be refused...But just because He is so merciful doesn't mean we should act so flippant about His acceptance of us! The attitude of "I decided to follow Jesus, and was saved because of that," magnifies the sinner, instead of the Saviour.

8. “Make Jesus your Lord & Saviour” ~

...Um....right... So, Jesus is up in Heaven looking down at us, saying "Oh goody! Now someone has made Me Lord and Saviour! I get to be Lord today!"

Come on, folks! He IS Lord & Saviour!

9. “Commit to Jesus”~

Imagine this: a mighty, powerful enemy has ten huge cannons pointed at you, loaded and ready to fire. At any moment you will be engulfed in flames from their barrage.

Suddenly, the Commander in Chief of the opposing forces rides out in front of the cannons, and says He will unload the cannons if you will join His side. Not because you have a single pistol to add to his force, but because He has had pity on you, and cares about you.

Do you commit to Him, or do you surrender? I should hope you'd surrender. THEN you can swear you allegiance to Him, and commit your loyalty to Him.

10. “It’s easy to believe”~

Beg your pardon? Easy? No it’s not! Well, okay, maybe it's easy to believe in your head - like the demons, "believing and trembling." Belief that leads to salvation is another matter. Did any of you come to Christ without the Devil putting at least a dozen excuses in your mind and hindrances in your path?

11. "Ask Jesus into your Heart"

-is not found anywhere in the Bible
-leaves out repentance
-leaves out "believe"
-Again, it presents Jesus as a beggar, waiting at our heart's door. (By the way, "heart's door" isn't mentioned in scripture, either.)

These are eleven phrases that were discussed at the conference, with my own comments summarizing what was said. My own family and church have talked about these or similar phrases before, and agreed that they didn't align very well with the Biblical gospel, but to some of you reading this, the idea might be quite new. Please, don't become defensive or offended by what I've written, but take a moment to think about it.

Another topic under discussion was fruit in a believer's life. I couldn't help but smile when I heard the word "fruit," thinking of the name of my blog. I don't have time to delve into this very deeply, but here are the major points:

The 5 Signs Of A True Convert (Believer)

Fruits of Repentance - Matt.3:8

2. The Fruit of Good Works - Col. 1:103.

3.The Fruit of Thanksgiving - Heb. 13:15

4. The Fruit of the Spirit - Gal. 5:22

5. Fruit of Righteousness - Phil. 1:11

I hope some of you take the time to look up those verses. Of course, these fruits save no one, but a true believer will have these fruits, to some degree, displayed in his life. Self examination is healthy - and commanded in Scripture. It is also good to know these so that we may gently ask others to examine themselves, when we know they are not saved, and we are trying to get them to listen to our witness.

There are many people in the western world who have been spoken to about Christianity, and "prayed a prayer," but have no idea what it is to be a true Christian.

This is terrible.

It is worse than terrible - it is a catastrophe. And it is mostly our fault. We must be careful to examine what gospel we are preaching!

As handmaidens of the Lord, let us commit to witness for Him with all our hearts - the right way.

I wish I had time to write more about this, but I've already been working on this post for two days, and I really ought to publish it. I must depend on you who are participating in this series to help me out by adding further discussion.

Rules for Participation:

Each of you ladies - old and young - who read this blog have insight that you can contribute for the edification of the rest of us. Particularly those of you who are older in the faith...but even younger sisters can have words of wisdom. I would like to humbly request your active involvement in this series.

In the comment section of each post, I would like each of you to do one of two things;

~ 1: If you do not have a blog, please leave your thoughts directly in the comment section.

~ 2: If you have a blog, please go there and write a small post containing your thoughts on
whatever quality is under discussion here. Make it Biblical; share verses the Lord has used in your heart. The world is full of opinions - we don't need more of that. We need more of the Lord.

Then come back here and leave a link to your post in the comment section. (To make it easier for us to find the right post, please link directly to the post, not your front page.) If you would like to, please direct your blog readers here so that they can find more discussion, from other readers.

This is only a small corner of Blog Land, and I know that I don't reach many ladies - at least not as many as I would like. But this topic - becoming a better Handmaiden of the Lord - is so important that I wish we could talk to thousands. If we start linking to one another, perhaps the word will get out, and we can reach more and more women who care about the Lord.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Because I've waited too long:

I've finally decided to begin that series I keep talking about. I've been praying about it quite a bit, not exactly sure how to begin, or how to do this, but this morning I just felt like I've done enough talking, and I'd better start some doing.

For those of you just joining, let me explain; this series of posts is being launched for the express purpose of helping us ladies who claim the name "Christian" to become better Handmaidens of the Lord. I've been searching my Bible for all the verses I can find on that topic, and I invite you to join me in doing this.

Each post will cover a certain quality that women of God are supposed to have, and will hopefully have some edifying discussion on that point. (Just for the record, I know that there will be much left unsaid - but, even if I did know everything [which I don't], who can cover an entire topic in one book, let alone one blog post?)

Here's the part I'm most excited about: each of you ladies - old and young - who read this blog have insight that you can contribute for the edification of the rest of us. Particularly those of you who are older in the faith...but even younger sisters can have words of wisdom. I would like to humbly request your active involvement in this series.

In the comment section of each post, I would like each of you to do one of two things;

~ 1: If you do not have a blog, please leave your thoughts directly in the comment section.

~ 2: If you have a blog, please go there and write a small post containing your thoughts on
whatever quality is under discussion here. Make it Biblical; share verses the Lord has used in your heart. The world is full of opinions - we don't need more of that. We need more of the Lord.

Then come back here and leave a link to your post in the comment section. (To make it easier for us to find the right post, please link directly to the post, not your front page.) If you would like to, please direct your blog readers here so that they can find more discussion, from other readers.

This is only a small corner of Blog Land, and I know that I don't reach many ladies - at least not as many as I would like. But this topic - becoming a better Handmaiden of the Lord - is so important that I wish we could talk to thousands. If we start linking to one another, perhaps the word will get out, and we can reach more and more women who care about the Lord.

Now... since those technical details have been said, let us begin.

A Handmaiden of the Lord

To begin, please pause for a moment and say a prayer for both my heart and yours. I really want to grow through studying the Word of God, and I'm sure you want the same.

Now...out of a list of 46 qualities - which is by no means an exhaustive list - which one should be mentioned first?

Perhaps this first post should deal with a quality that I haven't put on the list yet. It is quality that combats a danger that is very near.

I first realized this danger back when I was...oh, 16, I guess. I had written a very loooong journal entry about womanhood. Consumed with the goal of becoming a woman of God, I had taken the time to set down exactly what I thought a Handmaiden of the Lord should be like, and the nick-picking details I came up with were quite rigid.

Things like this:

"...a woman lives for others. Her own desires are ALWAYS considered last..."

"...a woman has no such thing as a need, except for God. She knows how to go without..."

"...for her, the golden rule is a way of life. She does not even THINK unkind thoughts..."

"...a woman is always cheerful..."

"...a woman never complains..."

"...she never shrinks from work, but meets it joyfully, eagerly..."

"...all the tasks she does are done well..."

Looking back at that list today, I realize that the things I listed were quite good... but there was something wrong. In the days following the time I wrote that list, I strove with all my might to be perfect. And of course I failed.

Which made me miserable.

And that drove me to write this addition at the end of my journal entry. I thought it would be a good start to this series, so I have typed it out, with a few minor edited points:

"...God is teaching me many things. Lately the lessons seem to be about balancing the things I have written here. I am never going to be the perfect woman here on earth - that is simply fact. I will never find the perfect woman either, because she simply does not exist.

"Writing a list of regulations is dangerous. Whenever I extend from God's basic standard there is a danger of becoming snobbish, judgmental, and also depressed, because I don't meet my own standards. This is something I have been struggling with. I have started to realize that the joy of the Lord must be my strength. Living in His joy and in His Word will produce all these qualities in some amount. This leaves room for variation.

"Each woman is different, and blossoming in God's timing, rather than trying to fit another's mold, will produce what God intended.

"So, now that I have written these 'regulations,' 'descriptions,' 'qualities,' I say 'okay, that was nice for a reminder or goal. Now, forget about the list and concentrate on Him. Live, breathe, and feast on His presence. Never forget that my purpose in life is to bring Him glory, Just bask in that thought. Commit myself to the Lord, and let Him shape the clay.'

"In this way - and, I am convinced, this way only - will I become a true HANDMAIDEN OF THE LORD."

Not a bad reminder, as we start this series. Let us remember the sum of the whole matter: "Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man." (Ecclesiastes 12:13)

What about y'all? Have there been times when you struggled with this issue of "legalism"? There is a balance between holy living and being a pharisee. I know that rules are right and good; God has given us many commands. But creating our own is dangerous. It could work out, but it could also create unnecessary heartache.

During this series, I want to be very careful to base every thought on commands that come from the Lord, not men. I want y'all to hold me to that, and remind me if I stray off.

...Because looking into the law of the LORD is a beautiful thing. O how I love your law, Lord! The meditation of it is my delight! The Psalmist was right on.

Let's search for that joy.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


Today is the birthday of my youngest brother.


I don't know whether to celebrate or cry. He's so old now! I can remember very vividly the day he was born. I was seven years old.

We knew the day he would arrive, because Mom was induced. The three of us children who were already in the world stayed with friends all morning, and Dad came to pick us up in the early afternoon. His first words to me were, " he's got brown hair, and lots of it!" Dad knew that would please me, because up until that point I was the only child in the family with dark hair.

Curtis was pleased, because he had been praying for a brother.

Heather, the oldest, was pleased because it was a baby, and what oldest girl doesn't adore babies?

It seemed hours until Dad finally took the three of us to the hospital to see our new brother.


I remember the conversations over dinners as Dad and Mom had tried all through the pregnancy to select a name for the baby. "Justin" had finally won - IF the baby was a boy.

During that time, I was still getting used to the idea of having another sibling. Us three older ones were very close in age, and there hadn't been a baby in the house for several years - not recently enough for me to remember. I hadn't the slightest idea what it would be like...but I was very willing to find out.

When I saw Justin for the first time - with his amazing amount of dark hair sticking up all over the place, and his tiny hands curled into tight fists, and his eyes shut tight though we begged him to open them - I knew at once that I would like being an older sister to a baby.

But he didn't stay a baby for long. Dad always says - and it's true - that Justin never learned to creep or walk. He went from nothing to crawling on all fours, and then from that to running.

He hasn't stood still since.

Justin was the toughest little toddler in the history of our family. I'm firmly convinced that he has the hardest skull out of us all. If he hadn't, it would be busted by now. He also has a knack for learning advanced things without bothering about the primary long as the "things" involved are athletic.

Take biking, for instance. I don't remember Justin using training wheels. He might have - in fact, I think he must have, but it certainly wasn't long enough for the fact to stick in my memory.

And climbing. Trees, walls, bunked beds... everything and anything was game for a good scaling.

All this was done in bare feet, of course. I have vivid memories of sitting next to Justin during Bible Times at night, when the long busy days were over, and looking down past my Bible to a pair of very brown feet next to mine. He had such adorable dirty feet. But don't tell him I said that.

All this energy didn't stop Justin from being sweet. He was a very cuddly baby, and as he grew older he retained his I-like-you-don't-you-like-me?-let's-go-play attitude.

Fast forward quite a few years.

Now Justin is battling with me in height. I can look him right in those green eyes of his. People say we look very much alike, with the exception of him being a boy, and I being a girl, of course.

He still has plenty of energy. I think he can burn more calories writing out spelling words than I can running a half mile. And he still has that lovely way of surprising me every so often with a sweet remark, or an offer to lend a hand where he isn't required to help. I often wonder what's going on inside that head of his, because despite his happy-go-lucky, bouncing-off-the-walls way of life, I know from experience that he is a deep thinker, and has a world of thoughts and plans going on inside.

Nobody can make your heart sing like brothers can. I have two, and they have tremendous power to make me proud. Of course, they can also tear my heart in two, but when I see them growing in the Lord, I think my heart won't fit inside my chest anymore.

To see brothers growing loving and gentle, to see them becoming courageous and industrious, to see them becoming men - this is the delight of a sister. This is what makes her want to stand behind them and urge them onward. This is what drives her to her knees, calling on the Lord to bless them and use them.

I love you, Justin.

Happy Birthday!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Opps - I forgot.

I just realized I never told y'all how the butternut squash turned out! Thank you SO much for the many generous instructions and tips on how to prepare it.

I would say it was a hit. (Well...except for one brother who doesn't like many veggies.)

I decided to bake the squash in the oven, and then scoop out the soft centers. I DID remember to cut them in half and take the seeds out first. :)

They smelled SO good while baking! The outsides became a golden brown, and supper really needed to be put on the table quickly, so I rushed the cooking process a bit - both from the fear that the squash would burn, and the worry that supper would be late.

Because of my rushing, the squash wasn't quite as soft as I think it should have been, but I managed to scoop it out and mash it up into a lovely heap of golden orange goodness.

With a little added butter and cinnamon...Mmm!

Thank you so much for the help - I think butternut squash is yummy!