Thursday, February 25, 2010

No-Slouch Day

I'm officially proclaiming tomorrow a "No-Slouch Day."

See if you can go the entire day standing or sitting straight and tall. See how much energy you have at the end of the day! Sit like a princess. Walk like a girl with a purpose.

I tried this today, for fun, and it :) It makes me feel wonderful.

Here are points to remember:

~ This "No-Slouch Day" applies all day long. Even if you're alone. You must keep your good posture from the time you wake up until you fall into bed.

~ You must not be tense. Stay relaxed, with your shoulders back.

~ Keep your head held high and back. No "turtle syndrome."

~ Pay special attention to how you sit when eating, when you're in the car, and when you're at the computer.

~ Don't forget to squat down to pick up things! Please don't just bend at the waist. Not only does it do bad things for your back, but it looks awful.

~ The walls were not made to hold you up. Nor were the counter tops. Nor were the bookshelves, ...or the refrigerator, ...or the door frame. Let your spine do its own work.

~ You are not allowed to be so cruel to your feet and legs as to keep shifting your entire weight onto one...then the other. Keep 'em balanced. And keep your hips under the rest of your torso where they belong.

~ Do your lower back a favor when you're sitting and keep both feet on the floor.

~ Be sure your speech and face expressions match your graceful posture...

...and have fun!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I missed it.

Yesterday was The Fruit of Her Hands' second anniversary, and I missed it.

I've been watching the calendar for weeks, now, and when the day actually arrived I was so busy I didn't even notice.

It's been a great 2 years here at The Fruit of Her Hands. I've loved it, even if no one else has. I enjoy my blog as a spot to putter away at the keyboard and let some thoughts out, a place to post memories of little things I might forget next month, a place to get up on my soap box every once in awhile.

But I like best the chance to meet so many wonderful people. I'm convinced I have the kindest group of readers of any blog on the web. Y'all are that great. (If you're new here and don't believe me, just read back through some of the comments in my history!) Of course, even if you're new here, you're a part of that group of great readers. :)

Anniversaries are a good time to step back, evaluate how things are going, and set new goals.

I've found out that my blogging time has decreased a little this year. I'm okay with that, because I'm getting other (more necessary) things done (though I feel bad for those of you who tell me you want more posts!). I've also seen that my topics have shifted around a little bit. I can see, even if no one else has noticed, glaring evidences that I've been without a good camera for a good portion of this year (aka: lack of pictures), and many of my project "show and tells" just haven't made it to the web. :( :( I'm not so "okay" with that, but I do hope to fix the problem eventually.

I've gained some readers this year (whoopee!!!!!) and have gotten to know old ones better (whoopee again!)

Goals for this year? To post more "project" posts. To challenge myself spiritual with what I write. To mention the gospel more often. To be more uplifting to fellow sisters in Christ. To reach out to my readers more. To see this blog as less about "me" and more about the Lord. To be able to look back on my 3rd anniversary and see a girl who's done a lot of growing. To become a better writer. To depend more on God in everything. To blog as an outreach, not so much an out-pour.

I'll start right now. Let's hear from YOU. :) (You knew it was coming, right?) What blogger doesn't ask to hear from their readers on their anniversary? I think it's all just a clever way to get a lot of comments. :) I don't want comments for comments' sake. I just plain want to talk with you! Shall I list you by name? (That's the great thing about having a smallish list of readers; I know your names!) I'm very tempted to do so....the only thing that keeps me from it is the fear that my memory may fail me on some names, and then I'll hurt somebody's feelings 'cause I left them out. But rest assured; I could probably list your name. ...If, that is, you're not a lurker. If you're a lurker, I beg you to de-lurk! (And I promise not to embarrass you. :)

Oh yes - and this is a day I get to tell you what to write in your comment, too, right? I think last year I asked for your favorite Bible character. This year I'd like to know what you are; a seamstress, a baker, a cook, a gardener, a writer, a big sister, ....what is it we have in common? Or do you not do any of those things, but just hang out here for the novelty of it? :)

I think it will be fun to hear what we all have in common with one another...and if there's something that makes you TOTALLY different from me (for instance, you can't stand home cooking), then feel free to share that too. :) :) :) :)

Before I end, I must tell you all how thankful I am for you. I wouldn't write without readers. It just isn't fun. You make this place possible. So thank you, thank you, thank you, for a wonderful year!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

I'm late, I know...

...But let's pretend this post was published last week. It really would have been good for Valentine's Day:

I love the story of David. Not just David and Goliath; I love David's whole life's history. I've read through 1st and 2nd Samuel I don't know how many times, both on my own and with our family during family Bible Time. Each time I love it, and each time the books seem too short.

But I had read through David's life several times before something hit me about the part of the story where Samuel selects David to be the future king of Israel. I guess it was the state of mind I was in at the time.

I was....gulp....sigh...wondering if there really was anyone out there for me.

Do you know the feeling? You feel as if you've waited ever so long (even if you've only been on the earth a little over a decade), and you want to meet the man God has planned you to be a help meet to.

But, then wonder if such a man could really exist. The kind of man you would want to marry. There's a tiny bit of fear in your heart; what if the man God has picked out for you isn't...well...charming? What if he isn't handsome? What if he's the godliest man alive, but very ugly and boring?

You shake your head to clear such nonsense from it, telling yourself that even if such a tragedy comes to pass, you'd rather have a godly man than a handsome one...if you must pick between the two. You know what's most important. ...So why is there a lingering ache in your heart? Why are you SO convinced, despite your logic, that there is no such thing as a good-looking godly young least not one for you? You want more than good-looking. You want charming, and chivalrous, and full of life, and...and...all the things you're sure would make up the perfect one for you. But he can't possibly be all those things, and be godly at the same time.

It would be too much to expect.

Such was my state of mind that morning. Fear...that God would wed me to a man I didn't find attractive. Looking back on it now, it seems silly; how could I think that my Heavenly Father, Who loves me SO much, would "make me miserable for the rest of my life" (which I thought would assuredly be the case, if I married a man I didn't like)?

Then, lo and behold, I read these verses (I Sam. 16): (Samuel is in the midst of finding the next King of Israel)

"5...And he [Samuel] sanctified Jesse and his sons, and called them to the sacrifice.
6 And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the LORD's anointed is before him.
7 But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.

Right about here my heart was sinking further. See? God didn't care what man's outward appearance was like. (I guess I was thinking that if a man was handsome, he was that way accidentally?) But I sighed and kept reading:

8 Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, Neither hath the LORD chosen this.
9 Then Jesse made Shammah to pass by. And he said, Neither hath the LORD chosen this.
10 Again, Jesse made seven of his sons to pass before Samuel. And Samuel said unto Jesse, The LORD hath not chosen these.
11 And Samuel said unto Jesse, Are here all thy children? And he said, There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepeth the sheep. And Samuel said unto Jesse, Send and fetch him: for we will not sit down till he come hither.
12 And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. And the LORD said, Arise, anoint him: for this is he.
13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward."

Wait a second; I've gotta read that verse 12 again...."Now he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. And the LORD said, Arise, anoint him: for this is he."

Wow. I sat there thinking how much I liked David. I like him an awful lot. He was brave, energetic, just, skillful...and most of all, I love his heart for God. His zeal.

"...So I guess you don't have to be ugly to be a man of God," I thought. "You can be young, and full of life, and brave, and dashing, and heroic,...and good-looking." It was balm to my troubled soul.

I kinda claimed that verse right there. Not just because I was a silly girl worried about romance, but because it reminded me that God is a kind Heavenly Father, and that He is the Creator of all things beautiful. Not Hollywood, novelists, or magazine artists. I hadn't thought of myself as a person who paid much attention to "the world's" standards of beauty and romance, but I guess it had affected me some without me knowing it. I had started to attribute beauty to the wrong sources. I had forgotten that they didn't invent beauty.(...And in many cases, they know nothing about it.)

How can anything they dream up compare with the wonder of a sunset, the splendor of a star-studded night sky, the awesomeness of a snow-capped mountain range? And they have nothing to do with the formation of tiny, perfect, dimpled baby hands, or the roundness of a toddler's cheek, or the lopsided grin of a freckle-faced boy. They have not formed the beauty in the graceful curve of a woman's neck, or the hard muscles in a man's arm. The sparkle in a youth's eye...the brilliance of blue, brown, green, black, or hazel eyes. The radiance in a laugh. These things have but ONE Creator, and He is my Father. He is the source of all beauty, and He places it where He pleases.

The world tries to act like it has a monopoly on beauty, but we've got them beat. :) All true beauty comes from the Lord, and we know Him. ...We even get to see stuff before the world has polluted it, in some cases. Knowing Him gives us the opportunity to see more beauty than our eyes can ever hold.

I still look forward to the day I meet "the one" God has for me. But I'm not in a hurry. I hesitate to "proclaim my own goodness," (since it'll probably mean a fall on my face soon afterward,) but I think I have learned to wait without worry. I've become truly convinced that God loves me.

That means GOD. LOVES. ME. He has a plan for my prosper me, and not to harm me. Yes, there will be some rough spots in there, some pain, some aching...but it won't be the big picture.

Learning to let go and let God plan my life the way He wanted to in the first place is a tough lesson to learn, but it's finally gotten through my thick skull that His plans are good. They are lovely. They are beautiful. They are happy plans. He isn't planning for me to go through life miserable.
Even if He chooses to put me through a life like the apostle Paul's, which had more pain than I care to imagine, the good will still outweigh the bad. Because He'll be there.

Doesn't that thought just make the best Valentine's message ever?

P.S. But I still pray, every so often, "God, please...let him have a beautiful smile!"
Ah, my faith has a ways to go!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Of Princesses and Seams

Warning: If you read my blog and you don't sew, you may find this post a bit boring. If you read my blog and you do sew, I'm sure you're thinking "finally - a post about sewing! It's been awhile!"

How many of you know what a "princess seam" dress is? Three pieces in the front, four in the back, curved seams, ...etc.?

(These are not my own photos, obviously.)

Okay, good; you may put your hands down now. I just wanted to be sure you know what I'm talking about.

I've long been a fan of the princess seam style. I have fond memories of working on one of my first "real" sewing projects with Mom; a princess-seam jumper. She let me do most of the work. We held up the center front piece after we cut it out, and laughed at the thought of someone being that skinny. We sighed over the front and back side pieces; those curved seams that had to pinned and re-pinned, then sewn and re-sewn.

The jumper turned out wearable, but was no masterpiece of fitting expertise. It curved in all the wrong places, and was loose enough to fit two of me inside...almost.

Princess seams are a challenge to most beginning seamstresses. They are hard seams to get right. And, though I've sewn many more princess seams since that first jumper, I'm still no expert. But I've improved.

It's a good thing, too, because that is the style my sister Heather and I both think is perfect for bridesmaid dresses. ...And I'm sewing Heather's bridesmaid dresses. Well, three of them, anyway. Thankfully the other 2 bridesmaids know how to sew. Ten weeks is a short time for all the sewing I have to accomplish!

Today I made the muslin copy for my dress, before I start working with the baroque satin. It took me most of the morning to get the fit right, but I'm very happy with it now. I think I'll save the muslin as a pattern for future dresses!

While I was working, I thought of a list of some things that make princess seams easier. I thought some of you who sew might enjoy reading my tips....and adding to them!

Tips for Princess Seams

~ Those little triangles that you cut on the edge of pattern pieces are helpful with just about any project, but with princess seams they are essential. DON'T skip them! (Gulp. Not that I would ever skip cutting those!)

~ Careful pinning is the trick to smooth curved seams. Use a LOT of pins, especially in the bodice area, and pin perpendicular to the edge of the fabric. That is important; pins running parallel to the fabric edge will be a nightmare when you start sewing.

~ When pinning those tricky front side seams, pin in this order: 1) Pin top edge, under the arm, first. Pin down to the first triangle. 2) Put in a pin at the bottom of the seam, near the hem of the dress. 3) Work your way upward from there, pinning the straight skirt part of the seam before tackling the bodice area.

~ Experiment with what works best for you; having the side piece on top, or the center piece on top, when you have the pieces under your machine needle. You'll find one to work much better for you than the other. Once you've established what works, do it that way every time. It's much better to swap back and forth between sewing hem-to-armhole, and armhole-to-hem than it is to swap back and forth between what piece you have on top.

~ Make a muslin copy first if you're working with expensive fabric; especially if this is your first princess seam dress. In fact, if you're going to make more than one princess seam dress, I recommend making a muslin princess seam dress, just to use as your pattern for all future dresses. I can almost guarantee that the pattern will not fit "as is," straight out of the envelope. The princess seam style needs to be personalized, perhaps more than any other style, because it's made to fit you. It won't look right otherwise. You may need to lower or raise the bust point (the most common needed adjustment), take in or let out the waist, shrink or widen pieces, or play with the neckline. You need to create a princess seam pattern that is yours.

~ If you need to "take in" the waist, go for the seams between the center and side pieces as much as possible, not the actual side seams. Those side seams should be left alone if you can help it, because changing them may limit your arm movement when you wear the dress.

~ Also, double check that the center front panel is the right width. Today, I kept staring at myself in the mirror while I was wearing the muslin dress, trying to see what was wrong. The waist fit, but it looked too wide. The problem was not the size of the seams, but the placement of them. I pinned a tuck straight down the front center of the dress, shrinking the center piece width by about 3/4", and it was perfect.

That's all I have right now. I hope you find these suggestions to be helpful the next time you're sewing a princess seam dress. If you are a seamstress with suggestions of your own, please, leave a comment and share them with us!

Monday, February 8, 2010


I admit it; I'm a bit naive.

Maybe I'm a lot naive; how would I know? Isn't part of being naive not knowing that you're so ignorant? It didn't really dawn on me until the past few years that I had a lot to learn about the world outside my little circle of acquaintances.

I think it all started the first time I met a young man who was not a gentleman. He stepped right in front of me, blocking my path, and deliberately let out a long, low burp. I think the man accompanying me might have punched the younger man in the nose if it weren't for a great deal of self control. I was very thankful that I wasn't alone at the time.

But that's a long story, unrelated to this post. The point is, I came home from that incident a bit more aware that the world isn't all roses and chocolate. There are rude, uncouth people in the world. All sorts of people in the world. And most of them believe differently than I do.

But I haven't met very many of them. I've heard about them many, many times. My parents, pastors I sit under, friends, and other mentors in my life want to be sure that I'm prepared to face real life; they want me to know that I'll be challenged. They want me to really know what I believe and why I believe it.

So I'm told again and again that I'm outnumbered in the world.

That I must stand firm despite overwhelming odds (humanly speaking).

That the world at large is completely opposite everything I stand for.

I don't think I was meant to get the impression that every third person I pass in walmart is an atheistic, pro-abortion, anti-God, anti-homeschooler, family-hater... ...but somehow I find it easy to start thinking that way.

The problem with this is that I find myself expecting everyone to disagree with me ...constantly. I expect them to challenge every statement I make. I expect them to look down on me, to classify me as crazy.

So when I start talking about anything that is remotely connected to world views, religion, life styles, etc., my voice seems to automatically take on a defensive tone. I feel that subtle increase of my heart rate. I'm positive that the person I'm talking to is criticizing me in her mind, and I strain every fiber of my brain to anticipate her objections and answer them before she voices them. All in all, I become a very tense, fact-spitting, fast-talking young girl.

Can you relate to this? Do you ever feel the same way? Do you identify with that inner drive to always explain and defend yourself?

I've found that this habit of mine to be more destructive than helpful. It builds an immediate wall between me and my listener. It makes me defensive instead of offensive. How can I reach out to that person when I'm so busy inside my little castle, dunking behind the walls to avoid arrows that I haven't even seen yet, and wildly shooting my own arrows without seeing what I'm aiming at?

I can "feel" a picture in my mind of the young woman I want to be. Gracious. Calmly in control of myself. Content to let the world think what it wants, so long as my actions and words speak truth. Free to reach out to the people I come in contact with, unafraid of what they think of me...because isn't it pride that is causing my problems in the first place?

The truth is, there are atheistic, pro-abortion, anti-God, anti-homeschoolers, family-hating people in the world, but the large majority of people are just garden-variety ordinary folks who are pleasant moral need of the Savior. I need to stop looking at people as battles to be won, or convicts to be made, or strongholds to be torn down and really see them as people. They have feelings like mine. It isn't intellectual arguments that are going to change hearts. It's love and truth and God's Holy Spirit.

So the next time someone is looking at me, and I'm "positive" they are silently criticizing my actions or appearance, I think I'll just send them a smile and remember that God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of love, and of power, and of a sound mind. :)

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Just Because

I thought I'd let y'all know that there's a sale on all ladies skirts going on over at Simply Modest (from now until February 20th). You may want to check it out! All normal prices are under $10.00 anyway, so a sale on that is sure to be a good deal!

...Sigh. Okay, yes, my conscience makes me admit it. I'm part owner in the store! But that really has nothing to do with why I'd let you know about a sale. Really. :) :)


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Strange Thoughts

What do you suppose animals - or even angels - think about human beings' looks?

Okay, I realize that question sounds odd. But it struck me the yesterday. I'd been watching some clips of various animals, and admiring different things about them; their size, beauty, shape, color, texture, cuteness, majestic bearing, or power. God made each creature so astoundingly beautiful!

Just think of fur. That's one thing many animals have in common, but each one's coat is so different. There's the soft fuzz of a puppy, the coarse hair on a bear's back, the soft but strong hairs of a horse's coat...even the bristles on a pig, if you can count that as "fur."

But fur is beautiful. Especially when a breeze ruffles it. Ever seen the glossy coat of a long- haired well-brushed dog waving as he runs to fetch a stick? Or have your fingers ever itched to caress a panda bear..if he'd let you?

Sea creatures are beautiful in their own way - without fur. The bright colors God chose for many of those fish are so sparkling jewels. Or how about the smooth skin of a dolphin? The grace that most of the underwater creatures have is breathtaking to watch.

That's actually what got me thinking. I watched a human swimming, and compared it to a sea creature swimming. Even the most skilled swimmer is so graceless when compared to a fish.

Well, I thought, we weren't designed for water. We function much better on land.

But then I started imagining us being compared to land animals; running beside (or behind!) a cheetah, or flying (or trying) next to an eagle. We don't hold up so well in the land-bound creature department either.

Then I started looking at humans. Really looking. Trying to imagine that I'd never seen a human before.

Two spindly legs. A head that almost looks too big for the rest of us. No fur. Only some hair. No snout or muzzle to speak of; a flat face. No special physical talents; we aren't fast runners compared to animals, we can't fly alone, and we're not superb swimmers, or jumpers, and we can't follow a scent. What makes us think that we're beautiful?

I must interrupt myself to say that I'm speaking in the purely physical realm, here. I know that we have spirits and are made in the image of God, which is something no animal can claim. We can think and reason, and we know the difference between right and wrong; again, something no animal has. Humans have value far above that of animals. We're different. And I'm really glad God put that difference into us, because if you looked at us on just the physical level, we'd flunk out pretty bad.

I think it'd be a good idea for us to sit back and think on this every once in awhile. It might help us to realize that we're not so all-powerful as we'd like to think. If we were like brute beasts, and the world truly was run on a "survival of the fittest" method, we'd be dying out quite fast. And we probably wouldn't be winning any beauty contests either; not without the decorations we've come up with to enhance our looks...simple things like soap and clothes. :) (Although we have to give God credit for coming up with the clothing idea.)

Our value does not lie in our physical bodies. Our value lies in the fact that we're made in God's image, and have a soul. The things that make us higher than the animals are the workings of our minds and hearts. Our sense of justice. Our yearning to know why we're here. That sense that we're born with...that knowing that there's a Creator. The ways we try to copy God; being creative, being productive, being good. We may lose our hair, our teeth, or our ability to walk, but we can't lose our soul. Even people who "lose their mind" still have something in them that makes them different from animals. They can't lose that something inside that makes humans different.

Just think....if our value is linked to the degree we copy and follow after our Maker, what happens when men exalt the human body above all else? They are leaving the only thing that really gives humans worth, and going after something they cannot attain.

Okay; I know this is a rather odd post. I tried to say something like this at the supper table yesterday, and it came out sounding too "philosophical." I had to stop after the first few sentences. It IS a rather strange subject to try to understand. I don't know why I got thinking about it. ...But once I started thinking about it, I couldn't rest until I had spoken the idea to someone and heard what they think about it. So I decided to write a blog post about it.

So....there you have it.


...Scissors going snip, snip, snip...

...The quiet rustle of satin...

...Pearl beads rattling on a hard table top....

...Sunlight from a snowy outdoors bouncing through the windows, glinting off a thousand white surfaces and textures on the table...

...The touch of smooth fabric under my fingertips...or the contrasting feel of beautifully knotty complicated lace...

...The pleasant weight of a roll of fabric almost as tall as me...

...Feasting my eyes on the richest blue ever dyed into a fabric, shiny and deep...

...The smell of cloth; some of it with accumulated scents from years of waiting, other pieces with the smell of the factory still folded into the layers...

...The taste of pin heads between my tongue and teeth...

...The familiar long cold finger of my tape measure draped over my neck...

...All of this means that wedding plans are underway in a big way! My sister's wedding is only 12 short weeks away, and I have SOoOoOoOo much sewing to do. Five dresses in twelve weeks - can I do it (and still have a life in other areas)? I hope the answer is yes!