Lauren and Mikaela--identical twins living on opposite coasts--blog about the story of life and their adventures in faith.

3.31.2009

It's the Little Things That Get You!



I have had a week to end all weeks. For three days I was flat on my back, completely miserable. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat, and I definitely couldn’t have fun. Something vicious had attacked me, and was causing my lovely reaction of vomiting, fever, and cough. Friday found me in the doctor’s office feeling even more miserable as they poked and chatted and x-rayed. Soon enough, I stood staring at my own lungs, hung out to dry as x-rays on the wall, while the doctor said, “See—there’s a pretty dense pneumonia spot right there.” So that was my diagnosis: pneumonia.
I just had one little bacterium in the wrong place. One evil germ with a plan. That little bacterium, I have discovered, can double its numbers every 10-30 minutes. This means that in seven hours that one wicked germ could have turned out over 2 million offspring! Somehow this doesn’t seem fair to poor little me, who had to put up with the rising dynasty of pneumonia bacteria…
However, I have been working on remorselessly throwing my evil little tenants out, and am feeling much better. So much better, in fact, that I have been thinking about the analogy here. Have you ever thought about the little things that control our lives? My microscopic bacteria friends have controlled my life for almost a week now, and I can’t even see them! On a different level, though, how many little imposters hold the reins in our spiritual lives?
In my own life, it’s the little sins that trip me, the little distractions that confuse me, and the little idols that steal my heart. I have to ask myself, how many of my activities are miniscule and frivolous in comparison to eternity? How many of my priorities are parasites that eat up too much time? How many little things do I get angry about and hurt a relationship over? I remember when Melanie, my younger sister, would “get into my stuff.” She loved to fondle my six-year-old treasures, and when she, at age three, would break one of them, my anger could not be soothed! At the time, I just could not imagine ever forgetting those broken treasures that now I have long since forgotten. I let my possessions control my emotions.
James 3:4 says, “Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires.” Perhaps it’s time for a rudder check. Matthew 6:33 provides a good one: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Seeking God is the BIG thing; compared to that, everything else is just a microscopic germ. We hear all the time that we should cherish the little things, but at the same time, I suggest, don’t sweat the small stuff—it just might lay you flat on your back!

3.27.2009

Check With Your Rearview Mirror and Your Conscience before Proceeding

I had no time to think; I just had time to skid to a stop in the truck I was driving, not even taking a second to check the rearview mirror. Moments after my foot connected with the brake, I heard brakes squealing and tires skidding, but the sound wasn’t coming from my automobile. All of this commotion came from the diesel truck behind me, a man in a hurry who was apparently following too closely. The entire situation unnerved me, but, realizing that I hadn’t felt any impact, I decided to continue on my way. As soon as I parked, however, I checked the back of the truck and was relieved to find no marks. This wasn’t my car, you see; I was on my way to feed a friend’s animals while he was out of town, and it was his truck I was driving.
So you can imagine my alarm when, a few days later, Lauren and I arrived home late at night and the headlights of our van caught the back of the truck. “Oh! There’s a dent in Mr. U’s truck, huh?” Lauren asked. I looked in horror—and then looked again. My mind immediately went back to the sudden stop…the squealing brakes…the near miss…only now I wondered, “Was I actually hit?” I spent the next few days debating about what to do. On the one hand, I didn’t feel any impact; I did check the back; and Mr. U probably wouldn’t notice. On the other hand, why was this bothering me if there was no reason to worry? Moreover, if no damage had occurred at that moment seared into my memory, the dent would still be my fault, because that would mean it had happened after the incident, and thus under my watch. Finally, if I took care of this now, I would find out authoritatively whose fault the dents were. Eventually, I knew, my conscience would get to me, and I would confess; wouldn’t it be easier to just do it now rather than wait, say, ten years? What if I found, after enduring the torment of a damaged conscience for several years, that none of this had been my fault anyways? With all of these good reasons to admit my mistake, however, I am ashamed to say that I hesitated. Why was it not an automatic action for me to disclose any possible damage I may have caused to this man’s property? The answer to that is, unfortunately, very easy: I have a sin nature as large as the next person, and Satan fought a hard battle to get me to follow that nature. However, God has instilled a new nature in me, and in I Corinthians 10:13 He promises, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”
God won the battle in my soul, and Satan was defeated. I showed Dad the marks, and he agreed that he didn’t recall seeing the damage when Mr. U showed us the truck before he left. Dad also said that it would cost around $1000 to fix it. Determinedly, I included the details in my summary letter to Mr. U, but I heard nothing from him for two days. As Dad said, “it seems that if it really wasn’t your fault, he would have called the same day to reassure you.” However, yesterday, I checked my cell voicemail, and discovered a message from Mr. U. He said, “You were worried about the dent in the truck, but unfortunately, it’s been there for over a year.”
You can’t imagine how I was praising God at that moment! I was fully prepared to pay the $1000, but He saw fit to bless me, and provide me with yet another incentive to trust Him instantly next time by practicing integrity and honesty. When faced with situations like this, I would encourage all of you to try something I have found helpful. Ask yourself, “What is the worst that could happen if I confess this? What am I afraid of?” The Devil doesn’t want you to think reasonably or sensibly in matters like this, because if you do, you’ll realize, “the worst that could happen would be paying $1000” or “the worst that could happen would be the humiliation I will experience.” Most often, one will not even lose anyone’s respect by confessing; in fact, courageously taking responsibility for one’s actions often brings more respect. So that was my spiritual battle of the week. What was yours? Have you won it yet?
Oh, by the way—always check the rearview mirror before you brake; it sure saves a lot of trouble.

3.24.2009

Time



Time is passing, sliding;
It is still moving on.
You can try to grab it back,
But Time, unyielding, is gone.

Only a second gone;
Only a moment lost.
Only an hour you wasted,
But long will you pay the cost.

A second is endless;
A breath, infinity;
An hour transfigures a life
If you can guard Time wisely.

The greatest things yet said,
The noblest, best things done
Didn’t take sixty minutes:
They only took one.
By Lauren

3.20.2009

Peacocks, Black Ice Cream, and a Supermodel: My Week

My handsome brother, Jonah! The pose was all his idea.










I broke one of the cardinal rules of playing in a symphony--I associated with the winds! Seriously, I have met and know every string player in my large symphony, but I have only gotten to know a few wind players. Somehow, I think that there is an unwritten caste system in symphonies! However, I have gotten to know a clarinet player very well, and thus it happens that I have found myself house-sitting for him this week. He has six inside cats, as many outside cats, and--of course--many peacocks and peahens, of all things! Never a dull moment....


Peabody, our very fluffy, very self-satisfied, adorable cat! He was my supermodel this week. ;-) He sat contentedly, occasionally adjusting his head position for my picture-taking satisfaction.




Adam, a man from church, who has been putting trim up in our house.
Three cheers for Adam!


This is Mel, my fifteen year old sister, showing off her unique tongue color! She and I went out for ice cream at Lynns Ice Cream, Yogurt, and More a lovely "hole-in-the-wall" that has a retro feel and delicious ice cream. Mel had the black (and I do mean black) licorice ice cream, and this is the effect several hours later!
My adorable six year old brother, Jonah!

3.17.2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

A wealthy sixteen year-old boy lives apathetically. Suddenly, a fierce kidnapping brings upheaval into his life, and he is alone among enemies. Eventually brought to a foreign land, he has no one to turn to but the one who is always present—God. Are you intrigued yet? I was when I first heard the story of St. Patrick. He was born in Britain near the end of the fourth century, and the Irish kidnapped him from his privileged home. Finally escaping after six years of slavery, he demonstrated one of the most unparalleled acts of forgiveness by a man in history: he went back to his captors in obedience to a vision from God in order to bring them the Gospel.


There were a small number of Christians on the island, but most of the Irish were pagan. He died on March 17, around 460, and that day became a Catholic feast day to honor St. Patrick. Now, Americans and people all over the world remember this amazing man each year.
Here is an adorable video about St. Patrick. The little girl’s story was recorded in the 1960s in an inner-city school in Dublin, Ireland, and an animation company rescued the recordings from the trash and made this one into this short video. I certainly wish that I had known as much about Patrick when I was this girl’s age, but be aware that she did mess up on a couple of facts, namely that he was British and not French.








In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, here are a few interesting facts:

  • On St. Patrick’s Day in 1776, George Washington’s army used the password “St. Patrick,” and on that day the British forces finally evacuated Boston.

  • St. Patrick’s blue was the original Irish color associated with Patrick, but because of the legend of him explaining the Trinity through the shamrock and because Ireland is known as the “Emerald Isle,” the color metamorphasized into green.

  • Corned beef and cabbage is actually the cheap meal that Irish Americans made do with when they were too poor to buy the true Irish boiled bacon.

  • Every year Chicago dyes the Chicago river green for St. Patrick’s Day! It started in 1962 as a way to trace sewage leaks, and then someone realized the draw for tourists (or something like that!).

  • Irish is the second most reported heritage in the US, after German.

So wear your Irish green today and eat corned beef and cabbage, but remember and honor this Christian man who became stronger through tragedy, who forgave the unforgiveable, and who is remembered and honored over 1500 years after his death, not because of genius or talent, but because his light still shines in Ireland.

Photo of Chicago River from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Chicago_River_St_Patricks_Day_08.jpg

Quote from http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/s/saint_patrick.html

3.13.2009

Twins

There is a question that I am asked more than any other question. Even more than the how-do-you-socialize-if-you’re-a-homeschooler question—and that is saying a lot! Yes, this question has been posed to me so many times, I have taken to answering it as short as possible: “I don’t know anything different.” As you have probably guessed, the question is, “what is it like being an identical twin?” Therefore, in the spirit of clearing up misnomers, curiosities, and myths, I am writing a post on twins (Although I’d still like to ask all of you singletons out there, “what’s it like being a singleton?” because, obviously, I have no idea).
Lauren and I are identical twins, which means we have almost the exact same DNA (mutations and epigenetic modification—switching genes on and off—keep our DNA from being 100% alike). Identical twins are not genetic, and they occur at the exact same rate in all cultures: 1 in 333 births result in identical twins. There are, of course, things about us that are not identical. For example, our fingerprints are different (due to epigenetic modification and environmental influences); our personalities are different; and I am one inch taller than she is.
For us, being twins means that we live with our best friend. We fight less than a handful of times per year, and we always quickly make up when there is a disagreement between us. For the most part, we are a solid team that understands the other person’s expressions and thoughts. Even though we are so close, though, we are not insecure without the other person, because we are not a “safety net” for each other. People often ask us if we can read each other’s minds; there was even an instance where our aunt sat us down and made one think of the number and the other one guess what the number was (it didn’t work)! Although we can’t read each other’s minds, we have had some odd experiences:
  1. One time, as I was chatting with Mom in her bathroom, I casually complained that my elbow hurt for no apparent reason. A few minutes later, Mom called me back into the room. “Tell Mikaela what you just told me!” she demanded from Lauren. “Umm…my elbow hurts?” Lauren replied, sheepishly. How weird!
  2. Not long ago, Lauren and I both dreamed on the same night that we each got married.
  3. When asked what my name was on one occasion, I actually said “Lauren” before red-facedly blurting out the correction.

We are in good company as twins. Did you know that Elvis Presley, Ed Sullivan, and Liberace all had twins who died as infants? There’s other famous twins too, of course: Mary-Kate and Ashley, Jacob and Esau, Angela and Maria Eagle (British members of Parliament), Vin Diesel and his non-famous twin Paul Vincent, Ann Landers and Abigail Van Buren, Barbara and Jenna Bush, and many, many others!
To top off this very egocentric post, I’m going to post a picture of Lauren and I, along with a poll on the sidebar. I want you to guess who is who (this should be easy, so the pressure is on); however, don't look at the results before you vote--come on, that's just not fair! ;-) Just so you know: we are never bothered by people who can’t tell us apart. The most irritating thing is the people who can’t separate us; that is, they somehow never figured out that we are two separate people whose names are not “laurennnmikaela” or “the twins.” ;-)

3.10.2009

They Watch Us

We are being watched.
Yesterday, Mikaela and I met our good friend Sarah for lunch. We had our food and had begun our usual laughing, chatting, and eating, when all of a sudden a woman came up from behind us and interrupted. She had been watching us.
“Excuse me,” she said. “But I couldn’t help noticing how nicely you are dressed. You don’t see people your age dressed like that very often, so I was wondering if you were Witnesses.”
We looked at each other—at our skirts that we wear every day, at the boots all of us had received for Christmas, and at each other’s surprised expressions. I smiled and simply said, “We’re Christians,” while Mikaela added, “No, we’re not Jehovah’s Witnesses.”
“Oh,” the woman continued, unfazed. “I mean, I’m a Jehovah’s Witness, and I thought, well, what are the chances? There are these girls dressed nicely and so I thought I’d come over and see if you were too. So why do you dress like you do?”
Here was the challenge: crystallize in ten seconds the lessons of a lifetime to a woman who does not believe my Jesus is God. Once again, we three friends looked at each other.
Then I turned to the woman and explained. “We are Christians,” I said. “And we just love dressing in a feminine way so that we look like women!”


While I was hoping that I had said everything I wanted to, the woman made a few more comments and then left us to our much-enlivened conversation. We found ourselves confronted with this question: why does the world associate modest dress and avid evangelism with Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, or even Muslims—anyone but Christians?
The answer is a difficult one. Where have Christians gone wrong? I believe the problem lies in the fact that America has embraced Christianity as a culture and way of life rather than as a relationship. For most of history, Christianity has been as American as apple pie. Now that many people don’t like that sort of pie anymore, the meaning has been dropped and people no longer live Christianity as it really is—a life-changing, mind-altering, clothes-affecting, life-threatening decision that touches every part of one’s life. Many of my generation are simply Christian because their parents were before them.
Let us choose to stop that trend right here.
Let us choose to make it our privilege to seek God as our God and to repent of our sins because Jesus died for us. Let us choose to understand that it is then also our privilege to lay aside the world for God rather than to earn a way to heaven as so many of the cults believe. Let us not worry about how God has convicted others to live; let us simply live how God wants us to live. (For me that means wearing skirts, but for others, the case may be different.) Let us just live entirely for God, knowing that others are watching.
I leave you with a powerful quote from John Winthrop. These words are almost four hundred years old, but time’s effect on true wisdom is meaningless. Hear John Winthrop speak this words about America to you this day:
“For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us. So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken... we shall be made a story and a by-word throughout the world. We shall open the mouths of enemies to speak evil of the ways of God....We shall shame the faces of many of God's worthy servants, and cause their prayers to be turned into curses upon us ‘til we be consumed out of the good land whither we are a-going.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/City_upon_a_Hill)

In writing this I challenge myself with this thought: we are all being watched. Every day.

Note: The photo is of Mikaela, Sarah, and me after our piano concert earlier this year. Thus, the roses!

3.09.2009

25 Things You Probably Don't Know

Rebecca, from Pressing On, tagged us, which means that we must post twenty-five things that our readers probably don't know about us. To make it easier on ourselves, we decided to split it into halves: the first twelve will be mine, the next twelve Lauren's, and the final one will be shared. ;-) Let's begin!

  1. Let’s just get the “can’ts” over with: I can’t whistle. I’ve tried—and tried—and tried. I’m just a hopeless case. ;-)
  2. I can’t cartwheel (or stand on my head).
  3. In addition to playing violin and piano, I can also play viola (under duress).
  4. I have never read all of Little Women. I’ve begun it countless times, and always love it, but…
  5. The thing that most irritates me is when people lick their fingers before turning a page. Gross!
  6. My earliest memory is the birth of Melanie, my younger sister. I remember staying at my aunt and uncle’s house while Mom was at the hospital, and I remember going to the hospital to see her. I was one month shy of my third birthday.
  7. I once ran away as a child because I was upset that my house did not have stairs (having lunch I disliked didn’t help, either). Mom watched me go, thinking I wouldn’t actually do it, and then ran after me when I took off! She called to me, “Mikaela, you forgot your coat.” Oh, yeah—better go back and get that, huh?
  8. I have never broken a bone.
  9. I have kept a journal since I was nine.
  10. I never drink my herbal tea with sweetener; I sometimes take my black tea with a small (small) amount of honey.
  11. I had never cut my hair (besides minimal trims) until I was fourteen.
  12. My favorite number is seven. What can I say? It’s odd (who likes even?), used less often than other numbers, and represents perfection (seven days of creation, etc.)!
  13. I have extreme Morton’s Toe (look it up on Wikipedia). However, don’t feel too sorry for me, because it is a sign of royalty and even the Statue of Liberty has it!
  14. I put my seatbelt on strangely and have endured much mocking for this habit. (I pull the shoulder belt behind my head, buckle it, and then pull the shoulder belt in front.)
  15. As a child, I stuffed a French fry up my nose.
  16. I can claim relation to John Adams, John Quincy Adams, and Samuel Adams.
  17. I have been known to go look something up in the encyclopedia, get distracted, and read through the entries until I snap back to reality.
  18. My favorite books of the Bible are Isaiah and I John, but don’t ask me my favorite verse, because we’ll be here all day!
  19. I love people that follow and comment on One Bright Corner!!
  20. My childhood dream was to become an author, and I even finished a 130 page novel set in the Great Depression.
  21. My favorite historical Christian figures include Eric Liddell, Darlene Deibler Rose, and Amy Carmichael.
  22. I learned to read when I was four and have never stopped since!
  23. As far as I know, I’m only allergic to one thing: a certain kind of deodorant.
  24. I once started reading the Lewis and Clark journals, determined to finish them. However, I cood not quyte endoor the speling and punktuashon. (-:
  25. Until we were 18, we had never spent a single, whole night apart from one another (i.e., in different locations, not just different rooms). So far, we still have only spent a grand total of one night apart.
And that's about it, folks! When you comment, it would be great fun for us to hear 5 (or 10 or...) things that we might not know about you. Please share! ;-)
Oh, and we hereby tag Jacqueline.

3.06.2009

Hiding the Cure

A year ago, while taking care of some errands, I ran into a guy that I knew. Around the same age as me, we have grown up together because he lives right next to my family (which, for the record, isn’t that close here in the country!). So we got into conversation, one thing led to another, and before I knew it, he was saying, “I don’t really believe all of that God stuff. I mean, that’s great if some people want to believe it, but really we’re just all on our own.” WHAT? My line of thought in precisely the next two seconds ran like this:
How can you turn your back on all that you’ve been raised to believe? How can you not acknowledge the miracle that your younger brother, who got into a tragic car accident a few months ago, who was in a coma for weeks, who had major head injuries, who was predicted to never fully recover or regain full mental capacity is now not only alive, but thriving and back to his normal, pre-accident self? What are you thinking!
However, my line of speech was sorely lacking. You see, I wanted to say something; I knew I should say something! This was one of the first times God had ever “dropped” an opportunity like this into my lap…and I blew it. I decided against saying anything because I didn’t want to “offend” him, and I have regretted that decision ever since. It was a horrible choice, no different from Peter denying Jesus or a cold, callous bystander who has not the courage to rescue a drowning soul. I was that person! I am ashamed of my lack of action on that day.
However, God has been working on my life; He will not leave me alone in this area, and consequently, I’ve been learning a lot. I have had two opportunities to witness in the last month—two times where someone expressly asked my thoughts—and I spoke what the Holy Spirit gave me. I have a friend who brought a friend to Christ and has been sharing her victories while inspiring me. Moreover, every other verse in the Scripture right now seems to scream, “Save dying souls!” When God pursues, He does not give up, does He?
I Thessalonians 2:4 says, “But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.” God has entrusted me with such a huge treasure—not because I am any better than the next person is, but because of His sovereign will. How could I then live to please men rather than God? How could I then hide my light under a bushel? How could I be ashamed of the Gospel?
But I was. Nevertheless, I am determined that, by the grace of God, it shall not happen again. There is a world out there that is drowning as I write this; let’s speak, not to please men, but to please God, because His is the only opinion that matters.

3.03.2009

A Date with Dad and Other Wonderful Adventures

I remember seeing an Adventures in Odyssey album (a radio drama series) entitled A Date with Dad and other Calamities. I have never listened to it in order to discover if that was supposed to be tongue-in-cheek or not, but I must say that it has always made my blood boil! Last night, I was reminded again how I treasure spending time with Papa when Mikaela and I had a most wonderful date with our dad.


The beautiful evening began almost as soon as we were driving off. Someone glanced up at the rainy horizon and saw there, stretching across the sky, a double rainbow! For the next few minutes we were all spellbound as we stared at God's double reminder of His promise! After running a few errands we headed off to the Olive Garden for dinner. In a large family, one-on-one time with Papa is a treat, and we had a wonderful time catching up over pasta and salad. We were on a mission, though, because we had tickets to see Itzhak Perlman perform with the Oregon Symphony. (For those of you who don't know who he is...poor people...he is almost unarguably the greatest living violinist.) Therefore, we did have to slurp our pasta quickly.
While we were eating dinner, we mentioned to our waitress that we were going to this concert. She had a very interesting reaction. "Oh," she said. "That sounds like the kind of concert that you would come away from refreshed and...well, edified. Most concerts you leave and you're just exhausted and drained, you know? But that sounds like something that would really refresh you." Our waitress was quite the astute observer, not to mention a great balancer of plates.
All right, now here is where things begin to get exciting. We had just enough time to make it to the concert hall in Portland, but of course it could not be that simple. We had to make memories! We missed our exit, but finally got back on track with me as co-pilot. Whew! We could not find a parking spot, but finally settled for the garage. We ran up to the will-call booth, relieved that we had made it, only to discover that our tickets were not there for some reason. No worries, the customer service table wrote us out new ones. We finally found our seats in the sold-out concert hall with five minutes to spare and wondered, "Now where's that refreshment and edification?"
When Itzhak Perlman finally limped out on his crutches (he had polio as a child and cannot walk without them), everyone leaped to their feet and gave him a standing ovation. It was a very emotional moment, and I still cannot believe that I was able to see this amazing man in person.
For the next two hours, I can honestly say that I did not think about wrong turns, Barack Obama, the recession, my to-do list, or my messy closet. We all just listened with joy and awe to the lilting music. Today it's back to leftovers, dark circles under my eyes from last night, baby-sitting two-year olds, and messy closets. But do you know what? When you had a date with your dad last night, that stuff really doesn't matter anymore.
Note: The top photo is of me, Papa, and Mikaela last year. The photo of Itzhak Perlman is from performingarts.ufl.edu. We didn't get a photo of us and Itzhak Perlman, although there's always Photoshop... (-:
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