Friday, January 30, 2009


Hebrews 9
15 And for this cause he is the mediator of the new TESTAMENT, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first TESTAMENT, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.
16 For where a TESTAMENT is, there must also of necessity be the death of the TESTATOR.
17 For a TESTAMENT is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the TESTATOR liveth.
18 Whereupon neither the first TESTAMENT was dedicated without blood.
20 Saying, This is the blood of the TESTAMENT which God hath enjoined unto you.

I'd never wondered about the word "testament" until I read these verses last night.

"Testament" old and new testaments. Yes, there's a "last will and testament" too, but I guess that's something different...right?

I never thought much about what the word means.

But when I read the word "testament" in connection with "death" and "testator," I sat up straighter. I figured the word must be pretty solemn and important.

So I looked it up.

"Testament: A legal document which deals with the distribution of one's personal property upon the event of one's death."

I think I will always have my pocket dictionary around from now on, when I'm reading my Bible.

Death. Whose death? Why, Christ's, of course. That much is obvious.

But O what riches the mind is led into when pondering this thought for longer than the moment! Christ's riches? They are boundless! He is the only begotten of the Father, dearly beloved. All things are granted unto Him. He owns and is the creator of every thing, past and present. The Heaven of heavens cannot contain Him.

His property? He is the Son and heir of the Father. All the unsearchable riches of God's grace are His. All the mercy, is all His, bestowed lovingly and willing upon Him.

And are we not heirs with Christ, if we are bought with His blood? This would not be possible - this sharing of His riches - if it were not for His death. It is because of His death we are made partakers:

16 For where a TESTAMENT is, there must also of necessity be the death of the TESTATOR.
17 For a TESTAMENT is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the TESTATOR liveth.

And where does this legal document exist?

I hold a copy in my hands! The precious old and new testaments; they list the boundless benefits we receive because of Christ's death. They not only list the things Jesus is; they tell us that we share this with Him. Only Jesus could have planned this; to die, in order that we might share His riches, then rise in order to be our Lord!

Does your heart quiver only a little at this thought? That when we read of how Jesus has access to the Father, and all the Father's love, and all the Father's ear, we may claim these things too? That we may claim the family name of Christ? That we may call ourselves His brethren?

11 For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them BRETHREN,

17 Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his BRETHREN, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.
(Hebrews 2: 11&17)

Whoa! This is the same Jesus that John describes in Revelation 1:

12 And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks;

13 And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.

14 His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire;

15 And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.

16 And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.

17 And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:

18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.

This same Jesus - willing to call us brethren? Yes! And not only willing to call us that, but to bind Himself to us in a legal document; the Testaments.

I'm so glad I took the time to look up that word.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The things they say.

I'm not sure why I'm writing this, but perhaps it's just because it gave me a smile, and I needed a smile. Maybe you do too.

Scene: Amber and Lezley outdoors. You'd hardly imagine there's been an ice storm yesterday, aside from the branches down all over the yard. The weather is clear, sunny, and almost approaching warmish. Amber is cleaning the cage of her rabbit, "Snickers," and Lezley is watching.

Lezley: "Why aren't you cleaning out all the bedding?"

Amber: "Because that part isn't dirty."

Lezley: "But she peed on it."

Amber: "No, this is just rain water that I'm draining out. She goes pee in her litter box."

Lezley: "How did the rain get in there?" (she gestures to the roof above the wire caging.)

Amber: "It blows in the sides."

Lezley leans closer, to inspect the contents in the waaaay back of the tray Amber is cleaning.

Amber sees, at the same time as Lezley sees, dark round balls in the corner of the tray.

Lezley: "Well, I can tell you one thing; she goes poop in here, because no rain ever went poop."

Beauty... going outdoors at night, with ground crunching under your boots, and looking up to see a lacy shawl of ice between you and heaven.

Thousands of black threading branches are encased in shiny, shimmering sleeves of the finest ice. They weave together overhead to create a canopy more delicate than the finest lace. It is not fuzzy frost, nor puffy snow, but sleek, graceful ice.

Tiny pellets of rain beat against your eyelashes and cheeks, where they peek out from above your scarf. The drops sound so wet when they hit the ground - how can they create this frozen wonder all around you?

Neighbors' outdoor lights cast weird upward shadows. Tiny sparks of light repeat from a thousand surfaces. The night sky is black - very black - against the silent traffic-jam of reflected light. It is a wonderland.

But in the morning you realized that beauty is the sun hitting those branches - though it is diffused through clouds so thick you could almost walk on them. Clear ice is frosted on so many branches, one behind the other, on dozens and dozens of trees, that the clearness becomes whiteness, and all above you hangs a mist of white, so light it floats.

Millions of icicles are forming everywhere - the undersides of branches, the porch railings, the van in the driveway...even the power lines.


We were without power for 7 hours yesterday.

I loved it.

I curled up - with an extra layer of clothing on for warmth - near a window, and read, sewed, and wrote letters by the light of that reflecting ice. Mom read history aloud to my siblings, nearby.

Lunch was cold. Supper was hot stew, baked in our camping oven. Eaten around a table lit with a kerosene lamp, it was lovely. I was almost sorry when the lights came on, at about 6:30. I was looking forward to huddling under the blankets in our rapidly cooling bedroom that night.

Almost sorry, but not quite.

After all, it is nice to be able to check one's email, sew with one's sewing machine, and cook on one's stove top.

And sleep in warmth.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Another plea for help

All you gardeners out there, let's have a cheer for the time of year when we're all choppin' at the bits, wishing we could toss aside the seed catalogs and go out and scoop up a handful of moist warm dirt!

I like winter. I'm glad for changing seasons. I like cozy sweaters and crackling fires. (Though we don't have a fireplace, so a crackling heater will have to do!)

I enjoy winter.

Until the end of January.

After January, I'm done with cold weather, thank you very much. I'm quite prepared to usher winter out the back door and welcome spring through the front.

This year is no different. Well, in small ways it is, because we're always planning new things for our garden. This year it's 15' high tomato plants and compost tea. (I hope to write in detail about those plans sometime soon!)

Also, Dad's given me a 4'x5' space to experiment with on my own this year. I think he wants me to try out mostly herbs, though I'm free to do whatever. Since this past year was the first time we've tried herbs (and we only grew oregano and sweet basil), I'm really starting off ignorant.

Tomatoes? I've helped grow those since the time I could walk out to the garden with Daddy. Cucumbers? Yup. Green beans? I've had those coming out my ears. Lettuce? Beets? Squash? Fine, fine, fine. Been there, grown those.

Herbs? Don't know a thing about those. I don't even know a thing about cooking with those!
But I want to learn.

I'm thinking about planting rosemary, dill, lavender (is that an herb or flower? TOLD you I was ignorant!), oregano (I'll be transplanting that from last year), sweet basil, and anything else that sounds good and useful.

So those of you out there who know anything more than I do about herbs... (and that would be any of you that have grown them or cooked with them!)... Are there any things I should avoid? Any plants that cannot be grown together? Special ways to use the herbs? A very useful herb I've forgotten to mention? Special soil likes or dislikes? Importantly - how do you harvest? Do you pick the top leaves or the lower ones? Pick heavily or lightly?

ANY help would be very much appreciated.

On an aside; have y'all started praying even now for the Lord to bless your gardening efforts this year? Knowing that He controls the rain and sun and wind is such a restful thought, but it also motivates me to pray that He would see fit to bless us with an abundant harvest and good weather ...and a will to work! I know that the best climate in the world won't yield a thing to a sluggard! I'm awfully good at getting excited in the spring, but I know I'll need God's grace to get out in 90* weather to turn compost in the middle of summer!

What did I do wrong?

Last Tuesday I made bagels, to have for Wednesday breakfast. I'd made bagels once before, and they turned out looking like this:

Not bad looking, huh? I was pleased with their appearance, and the recipe I used (cinnamon-raisin bread dough) was absolutely delicious.

But it really just tasted like...bread. It lacked that special chewy "bagel" taste.

So last week, I tried again. I used the exact same recipe...though I probably altered it a little bit in the making. I hardly ever do the same thing twice with bread dough. :)

When it came time to boil the bagels, I made sure the water was hot enough, and I boiled the bagels a little longer than last time. Then I fished them out, and put them on a waiting cookie sheet. The first batch had to wait awhile for me to finish boiling all the bagels, 'cause I made 2 dozen, and each batch (4 bagels) took three minutes.

The bagels actually looked cooked this time, when they came out of the water, but they didn't look as nice and round as they had last time. I hoped baking would solve the problem, but it didn't. They came out looking like this:

Not too bad (I'm not showing the three that burned black!) but certainly not beautiful.

At least they tasted great - better than last time. They tasted like bagels! And really good bagels, too. However, I'd love to be able to make a batch that both looks and tastes great. Can y'all offer any suggestions? I'd greatly appreciate it!

Monday, January 26, 2009


Yesterday was the beginning of a time of prayer for our church. Tonight, Tuesday night, and Wednesday night we'll be meeting together to listen to sermons on prayer, and spend time in prayer. We do this every January - it's a tradition Pastor learned when he was a missionary in Eastern Europe.

The messages yesterday really spoke to my heart. I cannot sum up everything the Lord is teaching me, but much of it is expressed in these quotes that I found online today (The ones I highlighted are the ones that especially pertain to the things I am hearing and the thoughts I am having.):

Prayer does not fit us for the greater work, prayer is the greater work. --Oswald Chambers

Prayer is not so much an act as it is an attitude—an attitude of dependency, dependency upon God. --Arthur W. Pink

There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful than that of a continual conversation with God. --Brother Lawrence

In prayer it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart. -- John Bunyan

The true spirit of prayer is no other than God's own Spirit dwelling in the hearts of the saints. And as this spirit comes from God, so doth it naturally tend to God in holy breathings and pantings. It naturally leads to God, to converse with him by prayer. --Jonathan Edwards

There is nothing that makes us love a man so much as praying for him. --William Law

Rich is the person who has a praying friend. --Janice Hughes

Our ordinary views of prayer are not found in the New Testament. We look upon prayer as a means for getting something for ourselves; the Bible idea of prayer is that we may get to know God Himself. --Oswald Chambers

If you are sick, fast and pray; if the language is hard to learn, fast and pray; if the people will not hear you, fast and pray, if you have nothing to eat, fast and pray. - Frederick Franson

Men may spurn our appeals, reject our message, oppose our arguments, despise our persons; but they are helpless against our prayers. --J. Sidlow Baxter

Why is it so important that you are with God and God alone on the mountain top? It's important because it's the place in which you can listen to the voice of the One who calls you the beloved. To pray is to listen to the One who calls you "my beloved daughter," "my beloved son," "my beloved child." To pray is to let that voice speak to the center of your being, to your guts, and let that voice resound in your whole being. --Henri Nouwen

So when we sing, 'Draw me nearer, nearer, blessed Lord,' we are not thinking of the nearness of place, but of the nearness of relationship. It is for increasing degrees of awareness that we pray, for a more perfect consciousness of the divine Presence. We need never shout across the spaces to an absent God. He is nearer than our own soul, closer than our most secret thoughts. --A.W. Tozer

The Church has not yet touched the fringe of the possibilities of intercessory prayer. Her largest victories will be witnessed when individual Christians everywhere come to recognize their priesthood unto God and day by day give themselves unto prayer. --John R. Mott

I must secure more time for private devotions. I have been living far too public for me. The shortening of devotions starves the soul, it grows lean and faint. I have been keeping too late hours. --William Wilberforce

How different the world would look, how different the state of our nation would be, if there were more sanctified priestly souls! These are souls who have the power to bless, for they intercede with sanctified hearts. They never begin their daily time of intercessory prayer without having first brought to the cross all that is unholy in their lives, so that their old self can be crucified there with Jesus, the sacrificial Lamb. –Basilea Schlink

The Church is looking for better methods; God is looking for better men. The Holy Ghost does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men…Men of prayer." --E. M. Bounds

Pray, and let God worry. -- Martin Luther

Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers, pray for powers equal to your task. --Phillips Brooks

This is our Lord's will... that our prayer and our trust be, alike, large.-- Julian of Norwich

If you can't pray a door open, don't pry it open.-- Lyell Rader

God's answers are wiser than our prayers. –Unknown

There are more tears shed over answered prayers than over unanswered prayers. --Teresa of Avila

God does not delay to hear our prayers because He has no mind to give; but that, by enlarging our desires, He may give us the more largely. --Anselm of Canterbury

We waste most of our time trying to get God to do something He has already done—or praying for God to do something He told us to do. --Jacquelyn K. Heasley

If God will do whatever He wishes, regardless of whether we pray or not, then we do not need to pray at all, and the Lord's instructions on praying for the Kingdom and the Will are superfluous. But the truth is that God waits for a Remnant to rise up and to pray in agreement with His Purpose before He does anything - He will do nothing apart from the Church. Apart from HIM, we CAN do nothing; apart from US, He WILL do nothing –Chip Brogden

Those who do not believe do not pray. This is a good functional definition of faith. Faith prays, unbelief does not. --John A. Hardon

We must alter our lives in order to alter our hearts, for it is impossible to live one way and pray another. --William Law

The Third Petition of the Lord's Prayer is repeated daily by millions who have not the slightest intention of letting anyone's will be done but their own.--Aldous Huxley

Is the Son of God praying in me, or am I dictating to Him?....Prayer is not simply getting things from God, that is a most initial form of prayer; prayer is getting into perfect communion with God. If the Son of God is formed in us by regeneration, He will press forward in front of our common sense and change our attitude to the things about which we pray. --Oswald Chambers

Those who know God the best are the richest and most powerful in prayer. Little acquaintance with God, and strangeness and coldness to Him, make prayer a rare and feeble thing. --E. M. Bounds

How often have we prayed something like, "O Lord, be with cousin Billy now in a special way"? Have we stopped to consider what it is we're requesting? Imagine that you are a parent who is preparing to leave your children with a babysitter. Would you dream of saying, "O Betsy, I ask you now that you would be with my children in a special way?" No way. You would say, "Betsy, the kids need to be in bed by 9 pm. They can have one snack before their baths, and please make sure they finish their homework. You can reach us at this number if there's any problem. Any questions before we go?" We are very specific with our requests and instructions for our babysitters. We want them to know specifics. It should be no different with prayer. --David Jeremiah

There is a general kind of praying which fails for lack of precision. It is as if a regiment of soldiers should all fire off their guns anywhere. Possibly somebody would be killed, but the majority of the enemy would be missed. --Charles Haddon Spurgeon

When a Christian shuns fellowship with other Christians, the devil smiles. When he stops studying the Bible, the devil laughs. When he stops praying, the devil shouts for joy. --Corrie Ten Boom

When I pray, coincidences happen, and when I don't pray, they don't. --William Temple

Faith in a prayer-hearing God will make a prayer-loving Christian. --Andrew Murray

Always respond to every impulse to pray. The impulse to pray may come when you are reading or when you are battling with a text. I would make an absolute law of this – always obey such an impulse. --Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Wishing will never be a substitute for prayer. --Ed Cole

One can believe intellectually in the efficacy of prayer and never do any praying. --Catherine Marshall

Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?-- Corrie Ten Boom

Pray often, for prayer is a shield to the soul, a sacrifice to God, and a scourge for Satan --John Bunyan

Of all the duties enjoined by Christianity none is more essential and yet more neglected than prayer. --François Fénelon

I have so much to do that I spend several hours in prayer before I am able to do it.—John Wesley

Some people pray just to pray and some people pray to know God. --Andrew Murray

There is a mighty lot of difference between saying prayers and praying. --John G. Lake

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Shhh - don't tell! ...I'm a wimp.

Do any of you remember my minuscule reference to "a clean bedroom" yesterday?

Did you also catch the "beating a rug" part?

The small rug in our bedroom is beautiful - better than it's ever looked after vacuuming. Pure creamy beige. But I didn't vacuum it.

Do you wanna know how it got that way? Do ya?

I took it outside, hung it over the clothesline, and beat it.

With a piece of landscaping timber.

Dimensions of beam: About 3"x 4"x 4'

Weight: I don't want to know.

I swung that piece of wood with all my might against that rug, again and again. Like a star baseball player, I hit a home-run every time. Dust flew everywhere; I'm glad I was upwind. It took me somewhere around 15-20 minutes before I was satisfied with the amount of dust in that rug. It still wasn't all gone, but we had company coming in 15 minutes, and I had other things to do. But still, a ferocious beating for 15-20 minutes with a 3"x 2" piece of timber will do away with a LOT of dust.

Today, every time I move my right arm any farther than 6" away from my body in any direction, my muscles scream in protest. I was baking molasses cookies this evening, and when I tried to cream the butter and sugar together, I honestly couldn't do it. I dropped the bowl and spoon, and just stared at them. It was too painful to beat with that spoon! I've never had butter than felt so ....heavy.

I admit it: I'm a bit of a wimp. Who would have thought that I could get this sore in just 15 minutes? Yikes; I need to do more cleaning or something!

Oh - on a side note....

....You know your house - or at least your kitchen - is cold when you soften butter in the microwave, to use in baking, and it begins to harden as it sits in the mixing bowl on the counter.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Everyday Beauties

Sunshine - gorgeous sunshine!

50 degree weather....anyone for a walk?


Beating rugs on the line until you're breathless, dusty, and laughing.


Searching for gardening gloves that never stay where you put them. (But Amber, they make such good riding gloves for aspiring cowboys and cowgirls!)


A clean bedroom - with sun coming through the windows.

No wonder Christ said "I am the light of the world." Everything's better with sunshine on it.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Confession is good for the soul....?

Does your family ever discuss where certain sayings come from? Mine does.

Tonight my father and brothers were talking about the expression "all nine yards." By listening in to their conversation, I learned that the expression comes from football.


I was dumbfounded by my own naivety.

Not one to keep back astounding information, I decided to open my mouth and let everyone else in on the news.

"You mean it's talking about football yards?" I asked.


"Amazing. I always thought it meant fabric."

I don't know which came faster; rolling eyes or peals of laughter, but both were plentiful in our living room for the next minute. Of course I had chosen a time to speak up when the entire family was gathered together.

Mom and Heather looked at one another, and I could see their unspoken messaged exchanged by looks: "Yup, she's a seamstress alright."

Random Ramblings

Today I'm feeling....odd.

As if something big should be happening, or is happening, or will be happening, but I don't know about it.

I think it's mostly just shock.

Shock that since starting a new schedule for the New Year, nothing major has happened to disrupt it.

Of course, the minor mes-ups abound; sleeping in, staying up late, spending too much time on the computer or reading or sewing, unexpected errands....yep, they abound. But all in all, I'm pretty much staying on track.

That feels odd.


Like, what is expected.

I'm used to un-normal...the unexpected.

But really, I find it odd to be thinking about everyday things. Things like what I want to bake or sew or read. Shouldn't there be something bigger to occupy my mind?

It hit me yesterday; yes, there should be something bigger to occupy my mind.


I've found that recently I have become too consumed with everyday things, and forgotten the important ones. I hadn't realized it because I wasn't guarding against it. Big things, now I expect those to try to conquer my mind....but little things? Naw, that won't happen. ...Right?

I'm supposed to be taking every thought captive to obedience to Christ. That means no day-dreaming about a new recipe when I'm trying to have my devotions, and no planning a new dress when I'm trying to pray. And no practicing a new language in my mind during a time that I usually spend singing to the Lord.

It's strange how life cycles. There are times when, spiritually, we are flying high. Other times we are in the valley. Still other times we seem to be riding a flat plane, not knowing whether we'll go up or down next.

Our emotions cycle, too. For awhile we'll be on a mountaintop, happy with everything, singing through all things. Then we plunge into the well of sadness or depression, and feel as if we're sinking in the mud, or swimming with our wrists tied. And of course, there's also the "level plain" feeling here too.

We're three-dimensional things, so of course our bodies aren't left behind. They get to cycle too. Sometimes we feel great, other times we feel puny. Sometimes we seem to be slim and fit effortlessly, and other times we look at a bowl of ice cream and feel fat. Some days our hair does exactly what we want it to do, and other times it has a mind of its own.

Have you ever sat down and figured out what your circles would look like if you mapped them on a graph? I have. I've wondered what my emotions would look like if I graphed them. Probably something like this:


Yes Ma'am, I'm pretty reliable. You can rely on me to go up-down, up-down, up-down at about the same rate all year....with one big dip - and soar - just for fun. However, you must look at this in scale. Let's say the above graph is a really zoom shot - a close up of a larger graph.

You see, that's how I feel most of the time; up-down,up-down, up-down about five times in one month. I'm constantly rolling. Not just emotionally, but physically and spiritually too.

I have tendencies to go to extremes, but I'm thankful that they're all of fairly short duration! When I'm in the dumps, I know there is a light above the pit, and it'll show up fairly soon. When I'm feeling tired or otherwise un-energetic, I know that I'll feel fine in a few days. When I feel numb during my devotions, or just can't seem to pray, I know that God will not leave me to flounder all over the place. He won't leave His child in that state. He'll come.

So I have hope.

What about you? Maybe you're one of those people who is nice and steady. You may only have 10 days in the year where you feel sad or depressed. Or maybe it's the other way around.

If you graphed your life, what would it look like? Would you be bouncing even more than me? Would you have nice smooth lines of gradual change? Would you have one long soaring line upward? Would you be going back and forth in a shallow up-and-down pattern between earth and sky, or would you touch both the heavens and the underground in one week?

I suppose this is a rather weird topic. Probably no one but you cares about what your life graph would look life, but if you can figure it out for yourself, it might be comforting.

For example, when you know you're about as far down as you can get, there's nowhere to go but up!

Or when you look back through journals and see that God dealt extra tenderly and kindly with you during times when you were at your lowest, you become overwhelmed with gratefulness, and you appreciate His all-knowing qualities even more.

I think that's what I like best; seeing the ways God will bless me during the dark times. I pray so differently during the extreme high or low times. When I'm already happy and He blesses, it's wonderful. But when I'm sad and He blesses it's overwhelming. That's when I know the graph lines are going to start going up.

This is a rather random post today, but like I said, I'm in shock, so maybe I'm not thinking clearly.

I'm not used to having three weeks without a major bounce. :)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Another Gift

Today I'm showing the gift a gave my other little sister for Christmas. This one, too, was made without a pattern, but somehow it turned out right the first time!

No, it's not a Bible carrier, though Lezley's Bible fits in it.

It's a purse!

Though you can't tell from the photos, this purse is made of scraps. The outside striped fabric is from an old skirt that I had already used to make something, and all that was left was bits and strips. I had to piece things together to get enough fabric that was wide enough for these pattern pieces. The inside fabric was easier, since I was cutting from a nice amount of yardage.

There is batting between the layers, and in the handles. The front strap attaches with a snap, and the bows are simply tacked on for decoration. There are three pockets in the middle section, which is only attached at sides of the purse, not the bottom.

Now, for my favorite attraction: ....

First, I must say that Lezley used to make a habit of asking to borrow my pocket mirror every time we got in the van to go to church. She'd use it to check her appearance and touch up her hair. (Hmmm...where did she learn that from?) I would have to dig it out of my purse, hand it to her, and remind her to give it back to me before we got out of the van.

But no longer.

Now she has her own mirror:

And she can't lose it. ..At least not so long as she doesn't lose her purse. That long strip of fabric is sewn into the bottom of the center pocket. I'm not sure if you can read the words I wrote on there with fabric marker, but it's Proverbs 30:31; "Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised."

I love the response I got when Lezley unwrapped this. She squealed and threw her arms around me, and laughed so hard she could hardly say thank you.

I later found out why she was laughing; her gift to me was a purse, too!

Monday, January 19, 2009


I'm finally posting pictures of some of the gifts I gave out at Christmas. I admire folks who can think of something to sew for every member of the family, but I only sewed things for my sisters this year. (Have you ever noticed that boys are harder to sew for?)

My gift to Tiffany was a dress: (Edited to add: My apologizes to those of you who couldn't view these the first time around! Thanks to my Dad, I think the problem has been fixed. Please let me know if there's still a problem.)

Don't I have a purty sis?

The dress was a bit difficult to make, simply because it was made in secret, and I didn't use a pattern. Everything was guesswork!

The skirt was not hard; all I needed was a waist measurement, and I could draft a simple a-line skirt. (It is fuller than it looks in the pictures.)

The bodice was more difficult.

I traced a sweater that I knew fit Tiffany, to get an idea of her size. Thinking back, I wish I had used a blouse or something non-stretchy, instead of a knitted sweater, but at the time it was the first thing I saw, so I grabbed it. When you're snooping around in a sister's bedroom, you don't waste time!

I decided to design the bodice in six pieces; an upper and lower front, and two upper and two lower back pieces. All bodice pieces are lined with muslin. An invisible zipper closes the back. The sleeves are each made of two pieces, with interfacing stiffening the cuffs. A burgundy waistband, also reinforced with interfacing, finishes the bodice. All places where the burgundy and plaid meet are decorated with top stitching.

As it turned out, everything fit nicely (even the sleeves - yeah!) ...except for the neck area. I had made the shoulders too wide, and the neckline therefore was too wide, and a little too deep as well. Thankfully, it wasn't hard to fix after Tiffy tried the dress on Christmas day and I saw the problem. I just added plaid fabric above the burgundy fabric. (See photos)

The dress is made from 100% cotton plaid, and solid burgundy cotton fabric. I pre-washed both fabrics, and they wrinkle less than I thought they would. I chose the plaid because Tiffany has a special liking for plaid, checked, or otherwise "old-fashioned looking" cloth.

She seemed to be very pleased with her gift, and I am pleased with the way she looks in it. She's so much fun to sew for!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Makin' Butter and Such

Yesterday, I made two things from scratch that we would normally buy from the store, so I was feeling pretty independent.

Peanut butter, and buttery spread; two easy-to-make things at home. Also cheaper to make at home, too.

First, I made peanut butter. I had never done it before, but I had wanted to for a long time, so I was quite excited. In my opinion, peanut butter ranks right up there with chocolate, and though I love the taste, I feel just about as guilty eating peanut butter as I do when eating chocolate. All those hydrogenated oils! I'm always thinking to myself "if it weren't for the oils, I wouldn't feel bad about eating peanut butter!"

So, making peanut butter out of pure peanuts excited me. ...Well, I guess if you count the peanut oil and salt that was on the peanuts, it wasn't pure peanuts. But it made the butter taste better.

Also, with all the media full of news about peanut butter making folks sick, it sure makes me feel better to know that what we're eating didn't come from a factory, but instead our own kitchen!

A friend told us that all it takes to make peanut butter is a food processor, so I stuck the peanuts in the processor with the largest blade, and turned the machine on.

What a noise! I thought the peanuts would crack the plastic container they were flying around in, but they didn't. Gradually, they broke up into fine sawdust-like pieces.

But sawdust isn't butter. I put the lid back and turned the machine on again. After a few more minutes of processing, a sudden change took place. All of the sudden the natural oil the peanuts contained burst loose, and we had peanut butter! Yeah! It was a little lumpy, so I continued processing it, and it turned into lovely spread. ...Afterward, I wished I had left it a little thicker, 'cause I like chunky peanut butter, but others in the family like smooth, so oh well.

I put the peanut butter in a container, and because I wasn't sure if it could be stored in the cupboard like the store-bought stuff, I put it in the fridge.

On to the next project; buttery spread! I had made this several times before. It's so easy. It's NOT margarine, (did I mention I hate hydrogenated oils?), but it's cheaper than pure butter, and it much easier to spread. (Don't you hate having that slice of bread crumble in your hands as you try to spread solid butter on it?)

The ratio is simple: take whatever amount of butter you have, and divide it in half. Then use that measurement to tell you how much oil and water to use. For example, if you have 1 cup of butter, you would add 1/2 cup oil, (non hydrogenated!) and 1/2 cup water.

That's it. Whip the butter until soft, add the oil and water, and beat them in. (Watch out - it's messy!). Once they are incorporated, you have a product that is the consistency of margarine, tastes like regular butter, and makes your butter go twice as far! Lovely!

Friday, January 16, 2009

A Handmaiden of the Lord, Post #8

Today I am pleased to introduce my first guest blogger, and someone whom I love very much; my mother. I asked her to write the final post this week on self-control, and she kindly obliged. I can't wait to read her post myself!

A Handmaiden of the Lord...

...has control in the area of her time.

Amber has asked me to add to her blog this week about time control. I am not a pro in this area but I have learned a few things in my life so far that I can share for those interested.

I believe the biggest issue at hand is understanding that time is temporary and is God-given. The Bible tells us that our life is but a vapor that appeareth for a little while and then vanisheth away (James). We are also told to ask God to help us number our days (Ps. 90). So we are accountable to every day He allows us to live and serve Him.

Yesterday I was down all day with a migraine headache and total exhaustion. My husband told me to rest all day. I easily obeyed and today I can function again. There are times we just need to take for refreshment, whether in our physical, mental, spiritual being, or whatever seems to be putting us to the limit.

If we are too busy to spend a good time with our Lord in prayer and His Word we are too busy. I still remember a lesson I learned in my late teens from an older woman in my life who said we should spend at least the same amount of time, if not more, on our inner beauty in the morning as we do on our outer beauty. Wow! If we count the minutes between opening our eyes and being adorned for the day and then count our minutes with God, how do we fare? I guess my greatest word here would be to keep our minds on Him during our day.

Then we can make to-do lists. I really enjoy writing down things and crossing off things as they get done! It's a great feeling to see the list disappear.

A simple thing I do is set a timer for things I want to get done quickly. I also set the timer upstairs for laundry buzzers in the basement I might not pay attention to otherwise.

I like to think of 2-3 things I can do at the same time if possible. I heard once of a lady who brushes her toilet bowl while she brushes her teeth. I personally cannot quite stomach that one, but I can sprinkle cleaner in the tub while I clean the sink. I always put laundry in before doing morning dishes. I can write letters or notes while my children are doing writing or reading lessons. I can make time to help my husband in the garden or play catch with my son. Like Amber has shared, self control is asking God's help to make sure our bodies know they are under our direction, not the other way around.

Having time for people is more important to God's kingdom than having to wrestle with daily clutter and dirt. If we can manage a good rule of cleaning day by day we will be pleasantly surprised at the extra time we can take for those we love or those who need to be loved. We are in a spiritual battle and it definitely hits our clocks too. It's okay to let some things slide if eternity is in view. I know my house has had less attention when I had babies and toddlers. Now I see much fruit from it all - even though I often thought I was failing to "get it all done." God understands and will bless the heart that seeks Him.

Priorities in every area of our life should be laid at the feet of the Master and then be done diligently as unto Him and not unto men. Time is a precious gift and we are all given the same daily amount, but not the same number of days. May the Lord help us all to waste it less and strive to please Him more.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Thanks, Mom, for taking the time to write this, and for helping me in my daily life to see how I can improve my time management. Ladies, would you believe I used to let the laundry machine sit empty while I did dishes? I still do, sometimes. :)

Housework isn't the only place I need to learn to balance, but it's a good place to learn the concept of time management. If I can clean a tub and sink at the same time, I ought to be able to cook supper and wash dishes at the same time, or check my email and study Spanish at the same time. :)

Speaking of time, I have some sewing that is calling my name, so I'd better go for now. May you all have a blessed - and profitable - day!

A few thoughts from the mind of Amber

~ Pockets should be large enough to cram not only your hands into, but also part of your wrists.

~ Clothing should touch the floor and make a sort of seal there, preventing air from creeping under it.

~ Hair should be worn covering the neck, acting as a scarf.

~ Blankets should be accepted for daytime, not only nighttime, use.

~ Shirt sleeves should cover the longest fingertips.

~ Socks should be at least 1/4'' thick.

~ Cold water from the faucet should be outlawed.

~ The same thing goes for drafts under the front door...or back door. Or any door.

~ Computer keyboards should be heated.

~ While we're at it, heated floors aren't a bad idea either.

~ The value of rice bags cannot be measured.





....But I still think the schools in our city are strange to cancel because of the cold.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Life is uncertain

I don't have much time for a blog post today. Mom woke up feeling unwell, so I have jobs to do today that I didn't plan on. However, in lieu of a long written post, I thought I'd share a certain photo that I just love:

This photo is my laptop wallpaper right now. My sister Tiffany took it when she, Lezley, and I were in the kitchen making pumpkin butter this fall.

Just look at that plump seed! And the way the strands of pumpkin have caught the light. Can't you just feel the sliminess? Even the texture of the wax paper is clear.

A single seed: something we might easily overlook until the camera has focused on it, shutting out all other views. Then, suddenly, it become interesting. We see details. It becomes fascinating.

Life is like that.

Those little details; that breakfast I cooked this morning, and the dishes I washed...that "love pat" I gave Lezley this morning when she went skipping by....the "good morning" I said to Tiffany....they are all very insignificant when mixed in the swirl of life. But when you look at them by themselves....

Well, let's just say that I remember kind words and deeds done for me years and years ago. They will always remain in my mind, and I don't call that insignificant.

Not at all.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Handmaiden of the Lord, Post #7

Self-Control is...

...siting down and making myself write a post when I'd much rather be off the computer.

But I said I'd write 5 posts this week, so I will. :) But y'all will probably be glad to get a break from my long-winded posts that I've been writing lately. This will be short and sweet.

(Next week I plan to share photos of the projects I sewed for Christmas. Stay tuned!)

A Handmaiden of the Lord has...


Yes, perhaps the ultimate area of self-control. I heard a mother explain patience to her child like this;

"Wait with a smile."

Us older folks don't really need to be told what patience is. We know what it is, and we know we are to have it. Of course the Bible is full of verses telling us to cultivate patience:

"Now we exhort you, brethren, patient toward all men." (1Thess.5:14)

"And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,
In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;" (2Tim.2:24-25)

A verse that really taught me a lot about patience doesn't even contain the word patience. Right before reading it, I was complaining about how my younger siblings tried my patience, and I guess in my mind, their wrong-doing gave me a right to be impatient. Then I read this:

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

This verse makes it quite clear that the Israelites were provoking. They were in the wrong.

So Moses "spake unadvisedly."

And God punished him.

Whoops. There go my excuses.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Handmaiden of the Lord, Post #6

A Handmaiden of the Lord is...

...not a glutton.

Yes - I'm actually going to write about gluttony; the avoided word that we all joke about. I've never in my life heard a sermon on gluttony, and I've heard very few people talk seriously about it, but it is mentioned in the Bible.

The fact is, the Bible talks about gluttony in the same breath as drunkenness, (Prov. 23:21, Deut. 21:20) and associates it with disobedience. (Deut. 21:20) In a series about self-control, how can we omit a post on gluttony? For that's really all gluttony is - an inability to control our fleshly appetites.

The opposite of gluttony is described by Jesus in Luke 12 :

22 And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on.
23 The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment.
24 Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls?
25 And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit?
26 If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest?
27 Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
28 If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?
29 And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind.
30 For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.
31 But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.

"The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment." How many times I have repeated that to myself! 'Specially when surveying my stuffed bedroom closet.

The idea of self-control is to have moderation (Phil.4:5) , and to determine my actions, not simply react to my situation instinctively - for human beings instinctively sin.

Jesus spoke often of denying the flesh, and Proverbs 23 mentions gluttony like this:

1 When thou sittest to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what is before thee:
2 And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite.

In context, these verses aren't forbidding fancy food - they are a warning to those who can't control their lust for riches. Appetite means more than just a hunger for food, you know.

I could have an appetite for filthy books or movies. Or an appetite for money. Or an appetite for excessive sports. Or excessive anything. And if I can't control that appetite, it's wrong.

That's it. If we can't control something, it has no business being in our lives, because we are to be "...Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every THOUGHT to the obedience of Christ," according to 2 Corinthians chapter 10.

But....since we're on the subject, it might be a wise thing to consider gluttony as it relates to food. How many of us hardly ever fast from food, because we enjoy our food too much?

My hand is up.

How many of us eat that scoop of dessert, not because we're hungry, but to satisfy our taste buds?

My hand is up.

How many of us could feed a family of four in India for an entire day on what we eat in one meal? I once read a book written by a Indian preacher who visited America, and I could hear the disgust in his voice as he wrote that the average American church-goer could feed a family in India for one day on just what they eat at one fellowship meal.

My Dad puts it this way; "Do you eat to live, or live to eat?"

I'm not saying we ought to become monks, and torture our bodies, but is your body subjected to you? ...Or is it the other way around? Can you tell it what to do, or do you comply with any and every demand it sends out?

Twice in my life, I've tried what I call "the Daniel Diet." Not "diet" as in the latest fad, but "diet" as in "this is what I'm eating." I went for a week without sugar, bread, pasta, condiments, sauces, etc. Just water, fruit, veggies, eggs, honey, and oats. That was it.

Why? To see if I could do it. To tell my body who is boss.

Fasting is a very Biblical thing to do. I have fasted when a prayer request burdened my heart excessively, but I have also fasted just to remind my body that "life is more that meat." I believe both types of fasting have a spiritual benefit.

Today, after a talk with some of my family last night about this topic, some of my siblings and I decided to go for 1 day consuming just liquids. And so far we've done it - despite the fact that pizza is on the lunch menu. :)

Food isn't the only thing I've fasted from. Several years ago, I had a fascination with novels. Not a mild interest, and not a healthy love for a story, but a ravenous, read-four-350pg.-books-in-one-night-even-if-it-takes-me-'til-midnight-and-I-have-to-hide-my-lamplight-from-Mom-and-Dad type of fascination. The books I were reading were almost all written by Christian authors, and they weren't books I would have hidden from my parents, but the time I spent on them was the problem.

One Sunday during a service, God convicted me of disobeying His command to "redeem the time, because the days are evil," and I made a commitment to Him that I would go without novels for one year.

I kept a journal devoted specifically to that adventure in my life, and reading it even now brings back all those emotions so vividly. Those were terribly hard months. I was literally breaking an addiction, and I had "with-drawl symptoms." I had emotional upheavals, and sometime I would lay on my bed and cry because I had to struggle so hard to maintain control of what books I was reading.

But I made it. What's more, that year broke the hold novels had on me. And it also gave me a huge increase in my love for God's Word.

The benefits of self-control are eternal, and so huge that I can't possibly write about them adequately. I know I need to increase control of my appetites in many areas still...but I know it is possible to control anything with the help of the Holy Spirit. Nothing is beyond His control. So I take courage.

...For now, I must get back to work, because I sit surrounded by stacks of clothing. I've been weeding through my closet this morning, and I'm pleased to say it's much thinner than it was, but I have a lot more work to do still.

So off I go!

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.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Surprise! A Handmaiden of the Lord, Post #5

A Handmaiden of the Lord has...


...Otherwise known as Self-Control.

I bet you thought I forgot about this series, didn't you? Never fear - I haven't. I've just been waiting for the right timing to pick it up again.

In the meantime, I've had a few new ideas come to me. This week, I want to write about Temperance, a fruit of the Spirit, which is certainly something a Handmaiden of the Lord ought to have.

But it's such a broad topic. Very broad. And not one that I'm an expert in, by any means!

Yet it's an important topic. Very important. And discussion of it can hardly be unprofitable.

I plan to do a series of posts about self-control this week, Lord willing. They will hardly scratch the surface, but in each of the five posts, I hope to cover a different aspect of self-control. As a bonus treat, I've asked my mother to write the Friday post, on an aspect of self-control that is perhaps the most difficult, and which she is much more fit to write about than me.

I don't really like the term "self-control;" I much prefer "temperance." Since when were human beings able to control themselves without the help of God? Self-control is non-existent. We are either a servant to sin or to the Lord - controlled by one or the other, but certainly not by ourselves. However, I understand that in general conversation, "self-control" can refer to the power God gives His child to stay on the right path, so I'll use "self-control" and "temperance" interchangeably in these posts.

For today:

A Handmaiden of the Lord has poise.

What an old-fashioned word, right?

The word poise makes me think of a princess. ...Or at the very least, a grand Victorian beauty. Poise is associated with grandness, richness, and an uppity class - at least in my mind. I never associated it with self-control until lately.

Lately, I've been thinking that perhaps poise is a pleasant, rather than prideful, thing. Aren't we princesses of the highest King? And if we are to have self-control in our lives, shouldn't it be an outer self-control? I mean, really, if a person can't see your self-control, do you really have any worth speaking of?

Here's a definition of poise that I just found in an online dictionary:

A balanced person - now there's a rare thing indeed! But does not Paul tell the Philippians "let your moderation be known unto all men"? (4:5) That's balance. Apparently, it's also poise.

We all know what poise is not.

The shy young girl, standing against the wall at a gathering. Her eyes flit from group to group, hesitating, and unsure whether to laugh with her fellows or not. She starts toward one cluster of girls her own age, then steps back against the wall again, the picture of awkwardness. An older woman takes pity on her and approaches the wall where the self-banished girl leans. She attempts to make conversation, but is answered with monosyllables and small sighs which betray how uncomfortable the girl is. Everything about the girl, from her posture to her clothing, instantly tell an observer that she is not "in."

Do we also know that poise is not this?:

The flamboyant young thing, wearing her latest glittery purchase, whose giggle reaches all corners of the room. She has no trouble making friends, and her conversations - though they consists of much more talking than listening - are always the liveliest in the room. The envy of shyer females, her tongue can trip along from subject to subject without the slightest effort. As soon as she entered the room, she headed straight for the largest circle, and was accepted with much noise and elation. Like a windup toy, she seems unable to stop herself from constant laughter and talk.

I think the most educational thought about poise I've ever received came from our Pastor during a sermon.

He was telling about something he used to teach his children. "Even his girls," as he put it.
"Walk with authority. Walk like you know where you're going - even if you walk straight into a brick wall."

That doesn't mean we become know-it-alls. And it doesn't mean we become rough.

It just means that

if you're going to do something, do it on purpose.

Don't flit around the room, hesitating, unsure of how to act. Don't laugh just because. If you're going to walk a room, have a purpose once you get to the other side. If you're going to laugh, laugh because something is truly wholesome amusement. We are children of the King. Determine what is right, decide what you must do, and then have the courage - and self-control - to carry it out.

This means that when you're terrified of walking up to those visitors and making them welcome, do it anyway. And do it graciously.

This means that when someone throws verbal mud in your face, know how to react, and carry that out gently and peacefullyy. "Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man." (Col. 4:6)

This means that when you have an opportunity to witness, your feet have been "shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace." (Eph. 6:15) beforehand.

This means that when being introduced to someone, you forget your own awkwardness and treat them with the kindness you know you must.

This means that at a gathering, you do your best to make everyone there welcome - even at the expense of your own feelings.

This means that you refrain from talking when you know others wish to speak - even if that perfect story is on the tip of your tongue!

This means that you are balanced. Stable. Prepared for anything life might throw at you. Rudeness, shyness, new situations, unkindness....nothing should be able to throw you off balance and behave in a way that you hadn't planned. All your behavior is pre-meditated, and you have determined beforehand to be kind, gracious, tactful, etc.

You are fixed on the rock, and that rock is Christ.

This means, "Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it." (1Peter3:8-11)

A gracious woman retaineth honour: and strong men retain riches.
(Proverbs 11:16)

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.