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

11.27.2012

When Fairy Tales and History are the Same Thing


It was the day before Thanksgiving, and Mikaela and I were braving the freeway madness to pick up two very special people from the airport.  We were sweating over the traffic and trying not to get lost when Mikaela exclaimed and pointed to a sight neither of us shall soon forget.  It was a ginger-haired young man, standing beside the side of the freeway, cars careening by him, with a bouquet of flowers and a sign that simply read, "Home."

I cried. 

Two weeks earlier...

The sun was still asleep when Mikaela left Mama and Papa at the airport for their flight to Atlanta, Georgia to see a specialist for Mama.  She was scheduled for surgery the week before Thanksgiving, and we were steeling ourselves for the worst-case outcome.  We could not have fathomed the miracles that God would work through her surgery.  But in the meantime, when the van returned home without two of its passengers, we were just six kids on our own, canning quarts of applesauce and pints of tuna and feeling loved by our church family and missing our parents dreadfully. 

That first week passed quickly, and Monday brought "The List" of Thanksgiving ingredients, as well as the mammoth shopping trip.  Tuesday was a full day of teaching for Mikaela and I in which Melanie and Susanna managed to cook up a storm of Thanksgiving food, and Wednesday brought dessert preparation and that day we had been awaiting for two weeks: the day of Mama and Papa's arrival home!  Mama's surgery had gone so much better than expected, the doctor in Atlanta was a Christian and the perfect surgeon for her, and God truly healed her body in miraculous ways.  We were overwhelmed by all the answers to prayer.  Still, she was in a lot of pain, and this we knew as we inched along the freeway, the exit to the airport completely at a standstill.  Yet we still couldn't wait to envelop her and Papa in huge hugs of welcome. 

"But isn't it wonderful," Mikaela commented exuberantly, "to think that in every one of these cars are people who are going to be reunited with someone they love tonight?"  It indeed was a sweet thought, and that explains my tears for the hitch hiker. 

At last, after an eternity of stopping and going, we caught sight of our parents.  That vision of Mama on the sidewalk rushed a wave of homesickness over me, even though I had been at home these last two weeks.  And though for us our Thanksgiving really began at that moment, the next day was precious beyond belief!


Papa gave a turkey-carving lesson, with Mikaela perfecting the gravy in the background.

Roasted brussel sprouts are a favorite Thanksgiving food!

Tasty dishes, with the requisite sweet potatoes on bottom that only two in our family even bothered with.
 
 Garlic rosemary mashed potatoes!  Thanksgiving wouldn't be the same without the aroma of roasted garlic permeating the house!

Sparkling cider and a sparkling centerpiece created by Susanna!

The food was but the accompaniment to the star attraction of being together.

Gluten-free apple pie and Pioneer Woman's Pumpkin Gingersnap Caramel Pecan cheesecake.  In a word: delish!

After stuffing ourselves with food, we went around the table and shared from our hearts about the abundance of things for which we were thankful.  Then we cozied up to a fire and a wonderful story about Squanto by Eric Metaxas that Mikaela recently found.  It begins, "Every once in a great while, the hand of God is easy to see, and for a brief moment, fairy tales and history are the same thing.  This story is about one of those times."  So, might I add, is this blog post.
 

 
 
The day would not be complete without a game, and the American version of Settlers of Catan fit the bill! 

And there I'll leave this sweet story, with the fire still crackling, laughter still erupting over a game, and the warm aromas of turkey and garlic mingling in the air.  Together at last, we were home. 

11.20.2012

Zippered Pouch Tutorial

 
Is it too early to talk about Christmas gifts? I generally operate under the principle that the Christmas season does not commence until the day after Thanksgiving, except where music and gift preparations are concerned. And seeing as how I've been teaching Christmas music since July, and playing it since October, I do believe it is high time to get working on some Christmas gifts! For 2012 birthdays, I gifted many of my family members with a handmade zippered pouch, just the right size to hold and protect their fragile booklights. These pouch sizes can be adjusted to hold just about anything, from cell phones to ipads to laptops to coins to make-up. How fun would it be to whip up a couple of these for Christmas and embellish them with only your own creativity and the moon as the limit?

 
(Those two small rectangles pictured above with the four big ones? Ignore them. You don't need 'em. They were drafted for a embellishment idea I had that failed miserably.)
 
Materials:
 
Outer fabric (I used synthetic leather, fashion denim, and home decor linen for my three different styles. Try to pick something with some weight and stiffness to it.): 2 pieces 9" x 7-3/4"
 
Lining (I used fleece to cushion and protect): 2 pieces 9" x 7-3/4"
 
1 zipper, cut to 9"
 
Optional Embellishments:
 
~Bow~
2 pieces 10" x 5.5"
1 piece 2" x 5"
 
~Pinked Edging~
(Used on the purple flowered pouch along the zipper)
2 Fleece pieces 9" x 1"


If you're doing the bow, pay attention! Otherwise, you get a free trip past "Go": you may collect $200 and move on to the next step.
 
Take your 2" x 5" rectangle and fold it in half lengthwise, right sides together. Sew along length with a 1/2" seam. Press seam and turn right side out.
 
Pin the two 10" x 5.5" rectancles, right sides together. Sew along the length of both sides with a 1/2" seam. Press seam and turn right side out.
 
Slide the ring over the rectangle and arrange until you have a satisfactory bow. Voila! Tack the ring and bow together by hand to keep the shape. Pin to the front rectangle piece of your outer fabric and baste together with a 1/2"seam.

 
Now it's time to make a fabric lasagna! Start with your outer fabric rectangle, right side facing up. If you're doing a pinked edging, place the 9"x 1" strip on top, keeping edges even. Next, place the zipper, halfway zipped, right side down, edges even, as shown. Top it all with the lining rectangle, right side down. See all those layers? You'll only have three if you're not doing the pinked edging. Pin everything together, taking care to keep the edges even.
 
Using your machine's zipper foot, sew a straight line along the zipper teeth. Feel for the zipper with your finger, or find a point of reference on your foot to keep a straight seam line that is as close as possible to the zipper teeth. When you reach the zipper fastener, lower the needle into the fabric, raise the foot, unzip the fastener out of the way, lower the foot, and continue upon your merry way!


Once you've finished, your creation should look something like the first five pictures in this set. If it bears no resemblance, I suggest you start looking for your seam ripper, a different gift idea, or better teacher.
 
Starting with picture six of the above set, you can see the visual for creating the fabric lasagna for the other side of the pouch. You're going to flip the previously sewn fabrics right side out to get them out of the way, and then lay your unsewn outer fabric face up. Upon that, place the other 9" x 1" strip (if you're doing the pinked edge option), the unsewn side of your zipper (face down), and your lining (face down). This pin and sew in the same manner as before.


Catching the vision? Now's a good time to perform a pleased happy dance at the beautiful results already taking shape! Here's where you'll pink those cute little strips to whatever width suits your fancy.

 
Topstich as closely as possible to the edge to create a lovely finished look and keep the fabric lasagna from shifting.

 
Unfurl your pouch as shown in the first picture, with right sides of the outer fabric together, and right sides of the lining togther. Simply sew along the perimeter with a 1/2" seam, leaving several inches open in the lining to turn the pouch right side out. Clip the corners and trim the seams and zipper bulk if necessary.
 
Are you ready? Truly and really?
 
Turn it right side out. And ladies and gentlemen: we have ourselves a pouch! (Not an authentic pouch, however, until you handsew that lining shut. Let's not get ahead of ourselves!)
 
 

 
This, you see, is the booklight for which these pouches were intended to hold and protect.

 
What will you put in yours?


11.13.2012

Grasshoppers, Elections, and One Very Special Email

Blowing in the Wind


A week ago today I could not shake the feeling that November 6, 2012 was a day that my children’s children would look back on and say, “That day was the beginning of the real end of America.”
 
From my perspective in the spiritually dark Washington state, things could not get any worse after this year's presidential election.  Voters here legalized recreational marijuana, legalized homosexual marriage, elected a slate of anti-God leaders, and voted to re-elect the most liberal president of all time.  It would be a true statement to say that I was depressed after voting in my second presidential election. 
 
And then I thought to flip back in my journal four years ago to the night of my first presidential election, and what I read from my eighteen-year old’s heart brought tears to my eyes.  I share the gist of it with you here with the hope that it will encourage your heart:
 
Someday every knee will bow to Christ and every stammering tongue will confess His Lordship.  I, though I so often resist my Lord, will bow.  Barack Obama will bow.  The vilest murderer on death row will bow. 

Isaiah 40:21-23 and 25 tell the story:


“Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?  It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.  He brings the princes to nothing; He makes the judges of the earth useless….‘To whom then will you liken Me, Or to whom shall I be equal?’ says the Holy One.”

 
This election then is simply another step in grasshopper-man’s millenia-long plod of sin.  And God, He knows. 
 
Not a baby can be murdered without God’s knowledge.  I weep as I write that.  Yet does not God sob before He welcomes a precious little one to His safe arms?  Does not God care more than I ever could?

Yes.
 
Then I rest, not in the wisdom of the American people, but in the omniscience of God.
I rest, not in the power of my vote, but in the omnipotence of God.
I rest, not in the shortness of Obama’s term, but in the infinity of God.
I rest, not in vindictiveness towards the president-elect, but in the mercy of God.
 
I find my haven next to that unwanted baby who now feels the warmth of God’s unconditional love.  I put my hands into the palms of God’s; I place my feet on His.

I cry, “I am as big a sinner as Barack Obama.  I do not know Your plan, but if You would use him to judge my nation, I beg that You would use me to bless it.”


I went to sleep last Tuesday night with this prayer on my lips, and later on Wednesday morning was greeted with this email from my father to his family:
 
“As I was walking into my office this morning, I was blinded by a ray of sunlight breaking through the cloud-filled sky. 
  

‘Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. {Lamentations 3:22-23}’

"As I turned my gaze to the sky, there in the western horizon was a beautiful brilliant rainbow, radiating in vivid color.  My thoughts turned to the promises of Genesis 9:16 and Isaiah 59:19:
 

‘So shall they fear The name of the Lord from the west, And His glory from the rising of the sun; When the enemy comes in like a flood, The Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him. {Isaiah 59:19}’”

Yes, the first Tuesday in November was a dark day.  But not for Christ-followers. 


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

11.06.2012

A Handsome Face

A World In Motion is a World Upside-Down

We Notice Beauty

Let’s get something straight—I’m not blind. And most girls I’ve met are not either. So whether we’re watching a movie or walking through an airport or looking through a dusty scrapbook from 1843, we’re pretty adept at noticing the handsome guys. We definitely know the difference between an ugly face and a comely one! This discernment is by no means a sin, either. Scripture makes many such observations, such as that David was “ruddy, with bright eyes, and good-looking (see I Samuel 16:12),” and that Moses “was exceeding fair (see Acts 7:20 KJV).”  
 

When Beauty Becomes Our Downfall

Innocent as it can be, however, our uncanny ability to zero in on the countenances that are goodly to look at can easily be our downfall. Lust starts with a look and a wrong heart (Matthew 5:28), and when Samuel wondered why God didn’t choose David’s older brothers, God responded, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart (I Samuel 16:7b).” Our Saviour Himself “has no form or comeliness; And when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him (Isaiah 53:2b).” 
 

Be a Beautiful Soul; Look for a Beautiful Soul

This earthly house I’m in—it’s not me. It’s not eternal. It will be destroyed very soon. If my husband falls in love with me because he likes the house, and knows nothing about the “building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens (II Corinthians 5:1),” then he has made a very poor choice. Likewise, if I give over my left ring-finger real estate for a face, or write off a godly suitor because he’s not that great to look at, then I am a very foolish girl indeed.
 

Walk By Faith

This is where we must walk by faith and not by sight. In choosing a marriage partner, remember that “while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. 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 (II Corinthians 5:6-10 ).” 

Notice the handsome face—fine. But don’t ogle it. Don’t dwell on it. Don’t fall in love with it. Don’t marry it for its sake alone. There is an eternal soul behind that face; is it beautiful or ugly? Moreover, please don’t say “I do” to someone who’s only enraptured with your pretty face. In this area, as in all areas of life, be contrary to your natural inclination, and walk by faith, not by sight, for one day we will all be accountable before Christ for our actions today.



Based upon II Corinthians 5:1-10

Photo Credit: Brandon Christopher Warren

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