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

9.27.2010

The Man of My Dreams

Night was falling fast; it was already dusk, and frogs began to warble, and the crickets chirruped their pleading, dissonant chant. The moon was slowly rising above the little hill, and the field of wild sunflowers was slowly shrinking into the shadows as each pretty head drooped downwards for a pleasant rest. As the oldest of the six brown-haired kids clustered around the murky pond, I reckoned that it was my responsibility to give them the ending signal.

"Come on guys,” I said, breaking through the night’s enchanting sounds. “It's time to go in.”

“Aw, please Amy? We only got three tadpoles,” Joe, eleven years old, protested.

But I stood firm, and soon had them all herded into the house—quite a feat actually. Mom was waiting for us. She efficiently whisked the protesting young ones away to bed, and stillness soon blanketed the house.

I had the unspoken duty of taking care of the tadpole triplets, so I poured the squirming bodies into a bowl full of creek water and placed it on the counter. Eventually, I made it upstairs to the attic-style room that I shared with the second oldest, Beth. The hot room smelled of nail polish and bleach, so the window was wide open, filling the room with a glorious night-time perfume. Beth was already asleep, her chest moving up and down with each deep, loud breath.

I was just falling asleep myself when I felt a startling jab on my back. I jerked around to see what it was, only to find Sam, my three year-old brother; he gazed up at me precociously, his eyes rounder than any I had ever seen before.

“Can I sleep wif you?” He asked, climbing into bed without waiting for an answer. I sighed, and then smiled, resigning myself to company for the evening.

“Come on Sammy. Snuggle under.” I tucked my blankets around him and me.

A few seconds of blissful peace ensued, during which my energetic thoughts became increasingly more fuzzy and incoherent, and my heavy eyes began to droop. Instantly they shot open again when Sammy’s voice rang out. “Tell me a story,” he commanded.

My older-sister instincts kicked in. “No hon, not now,” I soothed. “Right now is bedtime, not story time.”

Sam didn’t like that very much; he begged, pleaded, berated, and abused, becoming so loud and downright annoying that he woke up Beth. But I finally managed to get him to settle down, threatening him with every applicable punishment that I could think of. Again the room was quiet, but now I couldn’t sleep. My thoughts persisted in rolling around each other, like the numbers in a bingo spinner.

“Sammy,” I whispered at one point, “are you still mad at me?”

“Yes,” came the brusque answer.

"Don’t you love me anymore?” I continued, trying to get him to break down and forgive me.

“No. And I won’t pick you any more flower, ‘cause you won’t tell me a story,” he replied, in a shrill voice.

I knew that he would forget the whole thing by morning, as he always did—but I still wished that he wouldn’t get so angry with me. In the end I gave up and rolled over onto my stomach to try and get some sleep. Sammy had crept all the way on the other side of the bed with his back to me; now he pulled all the blankets on top of him, and I was left shivering in the cold draft coming from the window.

For the third time that night, I was almost asleep, until a little hand crept across my back, encircling me in its embrace. This time I forgot any annoyance and was instead filled with elation.

“I love you,” I whispered hopefully into deep blue darkness.

“I love you too.”
“Are you still mad at me?”

“No-oo.”

I lay there for a while, grateful for a brother, however young, who loved me. I thought about my girlfriends, some already flirting and going out with boys. Why did I need to, when I had a cute boy who would put his chubby arms around me, stroke my long brown hair, and tell me that he loved me? I decided then and there that if I ever married someday, it would be to the same kind of a man: warm, friendly, comfortable, and unconditionally loving. Someone that you didn’t have to flirt and put on a show for. With a peaceful darkness enveloping the room and the stars shining through the window like glistening glass shrapnel on velvet, I leaned over and softly kissed Sam, assuming that he was asleep by then. But he opened one bright eye to look at me.

“I’ll pick you a flower t’morrow, Amy,” he mumbled. I smiled, sleep forgotten; that was the icing on the cake.



9.24.2010

The Greatest Musical Discovery Since the Invention of the Violin

I have always been fascinated with the idea of singing the Psalms.  How beautiful they are, how poetic, how musical and heart-gripping!  Through the years, of course, various and sundry melodies have been composed for different Psalms, but have you ever wondered what melody David sang his Psalms to?  How did it sound when the Israelites sang a melancholy song of repentance as they were led to Babylon in captivity?  Or when Jesus sang a hymn with His disciples right before His time of greatest grief and suffering, what music did they use to sing the words of Scripture?  If you have ever wondered this, then take a look at this fascinating video!  While taking a music history class some time ago, I stumbled across this clip that makes the intriguing case for the original music being contained in the Hebrew manuscripts!  Did you know there were characters in the Hebrew manuscripts, the meaning of which even the scholars are unsure of?  Did you know that one Suzanne Haik-Vantoura, born in 1912, believed she discovered the original meaning?
Watch this video, hear the traditional Jewish melodies as compared to the meditational melodies based on the mysterious Hebrew characters, and decide for yourself!  Mrs. Haik-Vantoura's work is controversial among scholars, but that does nothing to negate the music you are about to hear and the story you are about to learn.  Let me know what you think, but I know that goosebumps were prominent on my arms when I first heard this hauntingly beautiful music!

For more information, check out Suzanne Haik-Vantoura's book and cd

9.20.2010

When Good Men Do Nothing

…We are at war now, and the entire world seems to misunderstand our purpose—to avenge our country for the wrongdoing done to her. I am patriotic, though I may not agree with the direction my country is going, but I certainly understand the premise of it. Prices continue to rise as depression gets worse—if that’s indeed possible. Many people are suffering.

These modern times—they produce so many moral dilemmas, I never could have imagined. I see Christians lying, scheming, spying, and plotting assassination of our leader. And I wonder—does the circumstance make these actions righteous? It’s all so confusing and complicated, that I try to stay out of it as much as possible. Certainly, there is great suffering around me, and I do my best to alleviate that suffering in any way I can, but there’s only so much one can do! I’m afraid if I get mixed up in all this confusion…

…And so the insanity continues. I never hear anything, know next to nothing—the news cannot be trusted, certainly, though we continue to pay attention in hopes of finding a glimpse of truth. Cousin is rabidly political and involved in the conservative movement, though, and he keeps us updated occasionally, when we do happen to see him. He seems to think himself and his work much more important than it is in actuality, but I let him continue to dream.

Cousin Martin…is dead. And, although I admire his bravery more than ever, and mourn his death intensely, I cannot help but be even more convinced that to live quietly and at peace with all men is my calling right now. To love God—fear His commandments, and love my neighbor as myself. What more can I do?

…Friends disappear, and food-fights (for food, not with food) are all too common. Threat of bombing is ever in our minds, and near-children are being carted off for military duty. Many acquaintances have become consumed with this moment in time. They cannot look back at the great heritage that will carry us through—nor can they look forward to the promise of future. Instead, they are obsessed with the little events of the here and now. They go into a flutter at a new draft age…they get red and hot at the news of another round-up of political enemies. They become all action, breaking their health even, when the latest threat of some progressive action comes out. Sometimes, one really must wonder if they are patriots at all. If they even believe in our country anymore, or if they are just enemies that really should be rounded up during this delicate time of war.

And just like that, all is quiet. The bombs have stopped, the marching has ceased, and the midnight collections are a thing of the past. So many…so many have lost their lives these past six years. I tear up just thinking of it. And if they had only waited! If they had only had the foresight to see that all would eventually right itself, and that good would triumph over evil.

I have just learned of the most tragic news. Unbeknownst to me—unbeknownst to thousands of my countrymen, it has come out that millions of political prisoners, of Jews, and of religious people were murdered during this time of war. I cannot describe my agony upon hearing…I didn’t know. I honestly had no idea. And yet…and yet…I knew what was wrong. I knew the regime was wrong. I knew Hitler was evil. I was so intent upon saving my life, that I have lost my soul. What was it I wrote those six years ago? “I’m afraid if I get mixed up this confusion…” I meant, that I thought I would lose my soul if I got mixed up in this confusion. But by keeping quiet, by living in as much peace as I could manage, I really have lost my soul. That is the great tragedy I shall have to live with all my life—that I could have done something, and I did nothing.

I was reading in Numbers 32 this morning, and God broke my heart. As I read, I learned of the tribes of Reuben and Gad who petitioned to settle east of the Jordan—before any of the other tribes had settled. And they promised to help the rest of their countrymen conquer the land before the made themselves homes and cities and farms. Moses warns them—he warns them that they certainly must do this thing. “But if you do not do so, then take note, you have sinned against the Lord; and be sure your sin will find you out (Numbers 32:23).” And suddenly, I began to weep, as I realized—I realized that my clean conscience is of naught in this case. I realized that my attempts to be at peace with all people, and to love all people is of naught. My desire to tell the truth, and keep the Sabbath, and honor my God, and stay content, and avoid murder, and hate, and lust, and adultery—all these things, and I have still sinned. It is not what I have done—and it is not what Reuben and Gad did—that is the sin. It is what I have not done. Reuben and Gad’s sin would be found out if they committed the sin of omission, and neglected to help their countrymen. My sin has caught up with me now, I see. I am weeping uncontrollably as I write this—I can hardly see to form the letters. My sin has found me out. As I sat on my hands and prided myself on my righteousness, I committed a great sin. And, oh, if only I could go back and do things differently, I would.


“For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul (Matthew 16:25-26)?”

End Notes

This is a work of fiction, written from the perspective of a person living in Germany at the time of World War II. Although there were many who caught on to Hitler’s evildoings and resisted, thus giving us hundreds of inspiring stories of heroism and courage, there were thousands who honestly had no comprehension of the events occurring under their noses. Some of these people, to be sure, should be blamed for closing their eyes and living in purposeful ignorance, but please do not assume that all were this way. Hitler was a master at propaganda and lies, and the truth was nearly impossible to obtain for German citizens. I hope, however, that you will take the lessons this person learned to heart. Today offers you one such turning point—to become active in our beloved, but sinking country, or to sit on your hands and sin by omission. Today, the Senate will vote on a "National Defense Authorization Bill," which, though seemingly inocuous, hides several desperate attempts to pass ungodly, unamerican, and unconstitutional laws in our nation. Three amendments promise to repeal the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy in the military--despite the fact that there is an ongoing study focusing on the consequences of keeping or repealing this policy. Additionally, the "Dream Act" will provide a path to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants. Finally, the last amendment would allow abortions on any military base in the world with our tax dollars--something that has been prohibited for over 40 years.

For a conservative, detailed perspective visit here.

For news on the Don't Ask, Don't Tell amendment, visit here.

For reporting on the Dream Act visit here.

And after educating yourself on this issue--hurry!--and call your senators today (the Capitol switchboard is 1-202-224-3121) and urge them to support the filibuster of the bill, oppose cloture (going to a vote without anymore discussion), and--of course--to oppose the bill! Please don't comment to debate the issues of this bill--call your senators regarding your views, and comment on the bulk of this post--good men doing nothing. Thanks!


Picture Credit

"Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved."

9.17.2010

Six Little Light Bulbs for a Rainy Day

1. At the age of five, my now eight year old brother Jonah dictated the following from Lancaster County, PA: "Crystal was fun to play with. Crystal was a dog.  Crystal was sometimes mean to me.  Crystal was brown and black and white.  But you couldn't pull the hair off her.  She would go "bark, bark, bark."  Crystal was gonna have babies.  She was pregadant.  I thought she was a he, and then someone told me she was going to have babies, and I was like, "He's don't have babies!"  Crystal was an Amish dog." 

2. Bible class this semester assigns one or more New Testament books to read, note certain aspects of God in, outline, summarize, and research every week. Also, I will be reading through John and Hebrews three or four times with a magnifying glass. But here’s the point, sharpened upon the blade of Acts: have you ever been reading a passage of Scripture, and suddenly a sentence leaps out at you as something your own heart has been crying lately, something your own mind has been questioning, or your own hands doing? Are you ever silenced by amazement as you wonder,“Is it possible that I am reading exactly what my very heart has wondered? How can Peter, or Paul, or Luke be saying exactly what I am feeling?” Because God wrote that sentence for me and for you, I can only sit in awe at the beautifully literary, stunningly applicable, and everlastingly truthful words of Scripture. Here is just one of many such verses that echoed my heart this week: “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” (Acts 3:19) Who hasn’t longed for times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord?

3. A few favorite quotes: “Never in the history of fashion has so little material been raised so high to reveal so much that needs to be covered so badly.” -Sir Cecil Beaton on mini-skirts                                                
“If evolution really works, how come mothers only have two hands?” –Milton Berle                                     
“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.” - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

4. In the sad, dark B.V.M (Before VitaMix) days, we would fill our blender with delectable frozen fruits and ice, fit on the lid, turn it on, and…noise enough to bring a lawsuit from our neighbors, but ice chunks with fruit sauce was our only reward. And if we dared take it further…is the blender supposed to smoke like that? Yeah. Nice. Now, I’m sipping my delightfully smooth smoothie, enjoying lots of summer’s end fruit in drinkable form! Thank you Craigslist! Along those same lines, the girls of our household are working through Sue Gregg’s whole foods cookbooks with some friends via Google chat, and I am so enjoying the delicious healthy foods! I actually love whole wheat, brown rice, and the like (although I’m ever a devoted white flour piecrust fan), and learning about how good it is for your body makes it all that much more enjoyable!  It's also been amazing to study what the Bible has to say about food--who knew it talked about lentils, and millet, and spelt? 

5. Please stand by for a Public Service Announcement: Elections are less than two months away, and if you are an American citizen, over 18, and are sure you’re not a convicted felon (um…) but you are not registered to vote, you are not allowed to read One Bright Corner. Just kidding. Or not so much, because you need to stop midsentence and go here to register.  Now--shoo! 

6. I’ve recently discovered Katherine Jenkins, the most amazing classical singer. Check out this delightful song by her:

As always, use discretion, for not all of her songs are good, and watch out for the modesty issue, but I have found several that I am quite enjoying! 
With that, I'll close my eccentricly haphazard list of light bulbish things, leaving you to cuddle up in your scarves and slippers this dreary weekend that is hopefully now just a bit brighter. 

Picture Credit

9.14.2010

All in a Major Key

Key of f minor, starting on the minor tonic chord, root position, with four beats per measure and the half note getting one beat. Notice those triplets! Starting with the introduction…now watch the leader for any rubato…go up an octave, add in an arpeggio for effect, modulate to f# minor, play octaves in the left hand, roll the final chord, and remember the “amen.”

As a musician, thoughts similar to these are almost always going through my brain when there is any congregational singing. I’m almost always sitting at the piano bench or holding a violin in my hand, and my job is to help guide the congregation towards worshipping God. Even when I’m singing, though, I’m busy watching the leader for cues, enunciating my ending consonants, and finding good spots to blend into harmony.

Music, for me, is definitely an opportunity to worship God and bring Him glory. Sometimes, however, my knowledge of every little facet and detail of the music distracts me from that worship. Occasionally, I’m so busy trying to facilitate everyone else’s worship, that I completely blaze past the quiet place of rest God wanted me to stop at.

The Scribes copied out Scripture day in and day out, tediously forming each letter precisely, for more than three inaccuracies warranted the disposal of an entire book. The Pharisees preserved Scripture and sought to carry it out to the letter, complete with their own “traditions.” Both groups possessed immense knowledge of the Old Testament that would put almost any twenty-first century Christian to shame. They taught their countrymen Scripture and imparted their vast knowledge to all who would listen. And yet, their mental collection of data so distracted them that they failed to collate it and recognize Jesus as the fulfillment of the prophecies they had copied, memorized, and taught. As a general group, they forgot the heart and emphasized the sacrifices.

There was a scribe, however, who asked Jesus in all sincerity what the greatest commandment of all was. And after Jesus’ reply, “…the scribe said to Him, ‘Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is no other but He. And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.’ Now when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’ But after that no one dared question Him (Mark 12:32-34).”

There is always something to keep us from the kingdom of God, and it is often something good. Whether it is your love of music, your diligence at work, your desire for friends, your blog, your sweet children or family, or—yes, your study of Scripture—all things must come from a heart in love with God. If we are doing these things—these good things!—out of a sense of tradition, accomplishment, or duty, then we have missed the greatest commandment and the kingdom of God. When I play music without truly loving the Lord Jesus with my everything, I am only modulating, and transposing, and improvising—I am like the spiritual, knowledgeable, hypocritical scribes and pharisees. But when I accompany, or perform, or teach, or practice music with a heart overflowing with love for my Savior, then I am worshipping, glorifying, and adoring God, the King of kings and Lord of lords.

How is your heart today?



Photo Credit
"Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved."

9.10.2010

Shopping Temptations


What were the last three purchases you made? Necessities of life? Frivolities of life? Superfluities of life? (Okay, I’ll stop the parallelism already.) Frankly, however, my purchases fall more often into the last two categories, for spending money is just way too easy—“from the comfort of your bedroom” or “just swipe your debit card here” or “we even have an ATM right in the church, for your convenience”! E-mails with sales too good to pass up inundate our inboxes, and our favorite stores are all too savvy with reeling us in. But why bring this personal subject up? If you’ve paid your tithe, you’ve saved a portion of your money, you have some left over, and you so desire your twentieth pink cardigan, why shouldn’t you get it?

As soon as I started contemplating the conviction of this thought, I remembered a scene from my favorite book of all time—Ester Riedwritten in the 19th century.  In this excerpt, middle class Ester is going shopping with her wealthy cousin, and here is what ensues:

“The next morning there was a shopping excursion, and Ralph was smuggled in as an attendant. Abbie, [his sister], turned over the endless sets of handkerchiefs in bewildering indecision.

‘Take this box; do, Abbie,’ Ester urged. ‘This monogram in the corner is lovely, and that is the dearest little sprig in the world.’
‘Which is precisely what troubles me,’ laughed Abbie. ‘It is entirely too dear. Think of paying such an enormous sum for just handkerchiefs!’

Ralph, who was lounging near her, trying hard not to look bored, elevated his eyebrows as his ear caught the sentence, and addressed her in undertone: ‘Is [your fiance] hard up? If he is, you are not on his hands yet, Sis; and I’m inclined to think father is good for all the finery you may happen to fancy.’

‘That only shows your ignorance of the subject or your high opinion of me. I assure you were I so disposed I could bring father’s affairs into a fearful tangle this very day, just by indulging a fancy for finery.’

‘Are his affairs precarious, Abbie, or is finery prodigious?”
Abbie laid her hand on a square of cobwebby lace. ‘That is seventy-five dollars, Ralph.’
‘What of that? Do you want it?’ And Ralph’s hand was in his pocket.

Abbie turned with almost a shiver from the counter. ‘I hope not, Ralph,’ she said with sudden energy. ‘I hope I may never be so unworthy of my trust as to make such a wicked use of money….’

‘But, Abbie, how can you be so absurd,’ said [Ester], returning to the charge. ‘Those are not very expensive, I am sure, at least not for you; and you certainly want some very nice ones. I’m sure if I had one-third of your spending money I shouldn’t need to hesitate.’

Abbie’s voice was very low and sweet, and reached only her cousin’s ear. ‘Ester, “the silver and the gold are His,” and I have asked Him this very morning to help me in every little item to be careful of His trust.’”

What a revolutionary idea--to pray over our shopping trips!  But Abbie’s words bring to mind I Corinthians 4:2: “Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.” She was a faithful steward, turning down the adorable handkerchiefs and beautiful lace, but are we?

Generational vision and preparation to be a keeper at home are huge parts of our lives—we listen to sermons encouraging those important aspirations, we strive to build that way of thinking into our daily lives—but why then do we throw them away with our money on frivolous purchases?

Generational vision and money: After you’re married, excess money will in all likelihood not be a problem. Instead, you’ll be scraping together your savings to invest in stirring purchases like wells and dining room tables and new transmissions. And when you speedily empty your life savings account, you may wish you had foregone that pink cardigan. I Chronicles 28:8 says, “Now therefore, in…the hearing of our God, be careful to seek out all the commandments of the LORD your God, that you may possess this good land, and leave it as an inheritance for your children after you forever.(emphasis added)”  The blessings of the Lord now are for a purpose in the future. 

Keeper-at-home preparation and money: As I stared at the tempting cosmetic display this week (40% off!) I realized that I didn’t really need that new eyeliner. And so I said ‘no’, but many have been the times when I have said ‘yes,’ promoting a taste for frivolous purchases and for the liberty to buy whatever I feel like at the moment. Someday, Lord willing, I will be in charge of the purchases for a household, and since it is highly unlikely that I will be marrying a millionaire, it is highly likely that I will be on a tight budget. If I practice cooking and taking care of children and nutritional knowledge and godly femininity, why should I not practice spending money wisely?

Just because I have the money, doesn’t mean I need or deserve that new___ [pair of earrings, scarf, shoes, cd, book…] Frivolity now translates to discontentment later. II Corinthians 5:10 offers a final challenge as sober as they come: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” Why wouldn’t that apply to money?

Picture Credit

9.07.2010

Camisole Couture

Every other blouse, shirt, dress, jacket, and sweater in my closet requires a camisole to augment its low neck--and, even worse, every single blouse, shirt, dress, jacket and sweater in the stores requires something to provide coverage (or at least, that's what it seems like to me). Wearing a camisole under a low neckline, however, is a frustrating and fruitless exercise, it seems, because most camisoles themselves are too low, and so I end up "settling" for something less than modest.

I strive to dress modestly not because I am forced to, or must "work" my way into being a good Christian, but because I want to, and because I take joy in beautifully modest clothing, and because I desire to have people focus on my countenance and not my body parts. However, that camisole quandrary? I haven't been so successful at that. You see, my ideal camisole is made of a light, dressy knit somewhat thicker than jersey, with no lining, rising up to the vicinity of my collar bone, and going down to my hips, smooth and close-fitting, but not skin tight. Oh, and did I mention that I refuse to pay more than $15 for one, and I grimace at anything over $10?

It goes without saying that I have not been successful thus far in my camisole quest.

Until last week, when I suddenly got smart and realized: "Why don't I make myself a camisole?" So, off I went to Jo-Ann's Fabrics, where I acquired a suitable pattern (New Look 6571) and a light-weight knit fabric.

Over the weekend, I put together the camisole with adjustments here and tweaks there, and I thought I would take you along in case you want to try your hand at this easy creation!

Prep: Although you'll probably have enough fabric, you might want to get between 1/8 to 1/4 of a yard of extra fabric beyond what the pattern calls for, because you will be adding length and height to the camisole. Don't forget to wash your fabric in order to preshrink it! When sizing your camisole, I suggest going to at least the size below your measured size (but remember that dress size and pattern size are entirely different entities, so do measure yourself). By my measurements, I would have been a pattern size 12, but I ended up making a size 8, and it turned out just to my taste--not too tight, and not too loose. Before you cut the pattern pieces out of the paper, add some height to the front piece (I did about 1" this time, but I think I will do 2" next time) and some length to the front and back pieces (I added 3 3/8" this time, but I will do at least 4" next time) and shorten the long straight piece (your future straps) by 1 to 1 1/2" (take the length out of the middle instead of one of the ends, or you will mess up the markings on the pattern piece that you are supposed to transfer to your fabric).

Now, lay everything out according to the layout guide in the pattern, match the grainline to the selvages, pin, and cut!

If you have a stitch on your machine for stretch fabrics, then use it. Otherwise, a zigzag stitch or a regular straight stitch (sewn while stretching out the fabric) can substitute--experiment with what looks best and follow your machine's guidelines for needle size.



Now, it's as easy as sewing up the back and side seams, hemming the neckline, and sewing each strip together and pressing one end under to create a binding.


Pin your binding to the armholes, stretching it to match the dots to the armhole edge, and sew. Press the binding over the raw armhole edge and press the binding above the armhole to create a finished strap. Sew it up! (The stretch stitch did not work well for me on this step, so I am contemplating using a regular straight stitch next time, since there is enough thicknesses of fabric to keep the whole thing secure.)

The hem is as easy as can be; since knit fabric doesn't fray easily, you just have to fold the bottom up once and sew it!




Next time I make it to the fabric store, I'm going to pick up some lace to add to the neckline. Other than that, however, my camisole is finished! I plan to make my next one a bit longer and a bit higher, but overall, I am very pleased with the end product. The total cost (not counting lace) was $6.96, but the next cami will be $4.00 cheaper, because I will be able to reuse the pattern. $3 to $7 is right in my price range! So what are you waiting for?






9.03.2010

The Scarlet Letter in Blood

Condemned.

She never even saw them coming. But suddenly they were upon her, wrenching her up from behind as her shriek filled the air. “Silence, you shameful harlot!” the religious men bellowed at her. Their insults they threw at her like stones, and as she parted the veil of hair across her face, she shuddered—the deepest, most sinister hatred ever seen blackened their eyes. Her shriek caught in her throat, but her tears poured freely from her eyes as the men, arrogant in their righteous indignation, hauled her to her feet and dragged her through the streets. Sandaled feet scurried out of the way, anxious to avoid contact with such a woman. Children sucking thumbs gazed unblinking at the spectacle before them until their mothers rushed up and herded them far, far away to air untainted by such a sinner. Bearded men stood stoically along the road, nodding their heads in alliance with the woman’s accusers, and watching until she was out of sight. A public spectacle of shame—it had no meaning for a woman who was about to be a public spectacle of death, and her tears flooded her sallow cheeks unheeded. Her breath came fast and shallow, and she closed her eyes to steady the horizon that dipped and churned before her.

Suddenly, she heard the murmuring of hundreds of people, and through her tangle of hair she could see the crowd parting. Her accusers dragged her with a final ferocity, and threw her down to the floor of the temple; she caught herself with her hands. “Teacher!” she heard the men say, their voices ringing with self-assuredness. “This woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do you say? (John 8:4-5)” The crowd erupted in vociferous horror and indignation, and the room echoed with their exclamations, but noise dimmed in the woman’s ears, for she stole a glance upward at the One who was called upon to decide her fate. Her eyes met His, and her heart wrenched within her at what she saw in His beautiful eyes: love.

Condoned.
A beautiful, richly blessed life. A loving, committed husband. This woman, however, is strangely unsatisfied, and desperately miserable. Nothing makes her feel good anymore, nothing in her existence is worth doing, and life seems but a burden. Confusion abounds.  So she simply walks out. She leaves her husband amidst his pleadings to work on their marriage, turning a deaf ear to it all, for she must work on herself. She finds satisfaction in another man, and then another. Finally, she is living the life she wants, the life she had only dreamed of before, and she is stuffing her inner emptiness with food. And then, in a moment to remember, she meets a religious man in India, and as she stands before him and he tells her she must forgive herself, she finally feels—as empty as before.

But the audience of this latest Hollywood offering Eat, Pray, Love (which I have not seen, only researched) is told that now she is fulfilled. The audience gets up off of their popcorn littered seats cheering for this woman who had the courage to fulfill her own selfish desires in utter disregard for God and those around her. But when the theater is empty and the cameras are gone, Liz Gilbert, whose sad story was glorified for this movie, will feel just as empty as before. She will still feel “sad, brittle, and about seven thousand years old.”
The woman in John 8 faced brutal death and condemnation; Liz Gilbert faces suffocating life and commendation. The woman of Scripture was dragged before all the people, her oldest friends, and her family in deepest shame; Liz is flaunted on the red carpet. The adulterous woman was empty, broken, and helpless; Liz is empty, but very proud of her sin. The condemnation broke the woman of John 8, and the commendation will break Liz, too. Though our society does not drag people to the town square to stone them for adultery, they might as well when they glorify sin, making a public spectacle of its supposed nobleness—the result is just the same. The one brings physical death, but the other brings spiritual.  I don’t know Liz, but I do know that without Christ she is still the same woman she was before her quest for self-fulfillment, except that now she is working desperately on forgiving herself.

But what of the one we know only as the “adulterous woman”?

We left her panting for the air that would not come, wiping her tears with a hand already wet, and meeting the eyes of the One she had never known, but who had planned this moment of meeting for her from the beginning of time. She is trapped, deserving of death, and as she looks around at the upraised arms gripping  the sharp stones, she realizes that this is the end. Max Lucado writes:

“What does Jesus do? (If you already know, pretend you don’t and feel the surprise.)
Jesus writes in the sand.

He stoops down and draws in the dirt. The same finger that engraved the commandments on Sinai’s peak and seared the warning on Belshazzar’s wall now scribbles in the courtyard floor. And as he writes, he speaks: ‘He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.’ (v. 7).

The young look to the old. The old look in their hearts. They are the first to drop their
stones. And as they turn to leave, the young who were cocky with borrowed convictions do the same. The only sound is the thud of rocks and the shuffle of feet.

Jesus and the woman are left alone. With the jury gone, the courtroom becomes the judge’s chambers, and the woman awaits his verdict. Surely, a sermon is brewing. No doubt, he’s going to demand that I apologize. But the judge doesn’t speak. His head is down, perhaps he’s still writing in the sand. He seems surprised when he realizes that she is still there.

‘Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?’
She answers, ‘No one, Lord.’
Then Jesus says, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.’ (vv. 10—11).

If you have ever wondered how God reacts when you fail, frame these words and hang them on the wall. Read them. Ponder them. Drink from them. Stand below them and let them wash over your soul. Or better still, take him with you to your canyon of shame. Invite Christ to journey with you back to the [adulterous moments] of your world. Let him stand beside you as you retell the events of the darkest nights of your soul.

And then listen. Listen carefully. He’s speaking.
‘I don’t judge you guilty.’
And watch. Watch carefully. He’s writing. He’s leaving a message. Not in the sand, but on a cross.
Not with his hand, but with his blood.
His message has two words: Not guilty.”


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