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

12.26.2012

Christmas, Western-Style

From l-r: Melanie, Mikaela, Micah, Mama, {Bentley}, Papa, Lauren, Jonah, Susanna

It was high noon on a chilly December day. I was perched on my office desk (a black, well-used bean bag), a chick’o’stick in one hand and a cup of joe in the other (tea, Trader Joe tea, to be precise). All of a sudden, she swept into my office.  Her face looked of trouble itself; her piercing eyes probed my forgotten reflections.  “Are you surprised to see me?” she asked as I tried in vain to mop up the spilled tea using my hideously patterned tie.

“Of course not,” I managed. “Don’t you usually visit this time of year?”
“Yes, but this time I really need your help.  I have some new suspects here on this paper,” she said, handing me a rumpled napkin. “I’m counting on you.” 

“Sure,” I said, rubbing my chin, then looking up to discover she was gone. Seven suspects. OK, let’s start at the bottom. The sheriff (otherwise known as Jonah)? This will be interesting. See, whether you are good or bad folks, if you come a-visiting our town, you will probably be arrested at some point. Don’t let that stop you, though; it isn’t hard to break free (he’s allergic to tickling and kissing). And so I called him in for an interview (called down the hall, that is). “So sheriff, what’s on your record for this passing year?”

“Say what?” he asked, one eyebrow raised.
“What did you do?”
“Oh… well I got myself a spring-field bolt action WWI Sergeant York
rifle.”
“What?”
“I bought me a gun. I also did a fair amount of reading and writing and
fiddling.”
“And I’ve enjoyed some of your works of art.”
“Yeah. I like animals too,” he said salivating as he eyed my chick’o’stick sitting on its saucer. “And let’s see… well, back in May, I entered the double digits.”

Next I headed down to the diner where I expected to see the cowboy and some yummy grub. It took me a little longer to recognize him this time, ‘cause he never stays the same height for longer than a week anymore. He has now passed from the tenors to the basses, and he has just recently stolen my place in the town’s hall of fame for “the tallest westerner who is not the Mayor.” But I am OK with that now (counseling helps a lot). “Cowboy Micah, how’s it goin’?”

“Hey small.” See—it’s not that bad. “So you wanted to ask me some
questions.”
“Yeah, uh… the first one is: what did you do with your year?”
“Well um… I’ve done a lot of studying lately. I really enjoy history. I also
like to play the cello, and I am working on a Bach Cello Suite.”
“Sweet! Oh yeah, I mean—I’ve heard it. How has it been for your first
year as a teen?”
“I like it. I like being able to sit on the front seat of the wagon.”
“And I know you are always helping with stuff around town.” I closed, looking up at him as he nodded his head.

It was now time for a new approach, so I decided to stalk the person third up on my list. The Scientist. And in my investigation I found out that it is a very good idea to stay clear of the purple laboratory when the chemicals come out (my poor gummy bear), as well as the roads when she gets a hold of the reigns (she’s working on it). She also has become quite good in her piano-ing. And as for her Thursday nights? Well they are spent working for a Bible certificate, which she just completed! The Scientist (or Melanie to some) also taught a group of kids for a week long summer camp. All the kids walked away with a new understanding and love for science.

“O.K. Miss Teacher (To those of you who do not have her as your teacher, you either need to change that, or just call her Mikaela): how was your time used this year?”
 “I teach music to lots of great kids…”
“Hence the teacher part,” I said with a smile.
“Right. The Writer and I also just started serving on our symphony
board.”
“Y’all seem to love music…and speaking.”
“Yes, we do! Back in March, the Writer and I spoke at a girls’ conference
up in Gig Harbor. It was a lot of fun.”

The fifth suspect on my napkin is the Writer. She and the Teacher have always been pretty close to each other. “So Writer what have you been doing as of late?”
“Well we have been working on our columns (blogs). We just started one for Christian Heritage, and of course we’re still writing on One Bright Corner.”
“Yes—I was wondering how that’s going?”
“Good—it has been a phenomenal experience! Speaking of which, can you write another poem for me, detective? After your first one won that award, I’d love to post another one!
“Well, I’ll see what I can come up with, Writer.  Now haven’t you also been playing some concerts lately?”
“Yes!  We just did a benefit concert in November and a few more are
coming up!”

“Well, thank you for your time,” I said, straightening my tie over the brown stain in my shirt. Ma is the next suspect? Yeah, right! Ma wouldn’t offend a spider. But I’ll follow her around, since she was on the napkin list. First of all, she’s an amazing woman that the whole town looks up to and admires because she does it all. She’s a cook, waitress, counselor, activities organizer, maid…and the list goes on. She has also been through a number of surgeries, the last one being in mid-November in Georgia. It was amazing to see how God worked all that out, from free airline miles to the Doctor being a strong Christian. Also, we are very hopeful that this surgery will be a permanent solution to all her pain, so we have much for which to be grateful.

Last but not least, the seventh suspect (or first, since we started from the bottom): the Mayor. As I observed our Mayor, one thing mainly stood out to me… He is kinda sweet on Ma. But that is OK, ‘cause I am pretty sure he likes the whole town. He also stays busy with church stuff and work stuff. This year he and the Cowboy cut down a couple trees near the town, and they have a foundation all ready for a small house (they call it a tree house, but forget the detail that it’s not in a tree). I also got the impression that the Mayor doesn’t like me wearing his ties (or using them for washcloths for that matter).

After I got back to my Office to write a full report of my investigation, I realized I had forgotten the Posse. My very best friend who was at my side for as long as I could remember would not give up her fight to stay with us. So back in March, our beautiful curly red-haired Sadie had to be put down. We were privileged to have the best of all dogs for over 14 years.  In August, we finally found a new sheriff’s deputy named Bentley—a puppy with an adorable curly tail! 

Now we are at the end. Where did the time go? In answer to this question that has been the theme of my investigation, I can proudly say it was spent…carefully. In love, laughter, sometimes tears, but it was always shared together. Oh, and if Miss Ghost-of-Memories- Past happens to come rushing in on you as you’re enjoying  a peaceful cup of tea, would you mind telling her my conclusion? (And hold on to that cup!) I only ever see her once a year. Wishing you all the best for Christmas, this is Susanna, Private I. Signing off.                                

All Our Love,
From Our Family to Yours

12.18.2012

Born to Deliver

After I read the first chapter of Born to Deliver, I closed the book and stared at the back in wonderment, re-reading Kathy Brace's bio and studying her picture. Was this scared, misguided, pregnant teenager whom the book opened with really the same as the peaceful, talented, godly woman who greeted me on the book cover?
 
The well-written true story caught my interest immediately, and I read it quickly--in one evening--because I couldn't possibly stop reading and leave Kathy in the severely dire circumstances that she finds herself for the first half of the book.
 
Kathy Brace and Natalie Wickham don't flinch from sharing Kathy's mistakes and sins, from out-of-wedlock pregnancies, to failed relationships and marriages, to cover-ups and lies. In honestly relating the story, they remain tasteful. Nevertheless, this is definitely an adult book, and one which I do not recommend for children and most teenagers.
 
All of the trauma and tragedy of Kathy's life culminates in a horrible accident halfway through the book, and from there, the tale blossoms into a precious story of redemption as God exchanges beauty for ashes and is faithful to allow Kathy to continue a generational legacy of midwifery, and to halt a generational legacy of immorality and drunkeness.
 
The theme of generational vision is powerful as the book quotes Exodus 20:5-6: "For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments."
 
Kathy writes, "In my quest for happiness and fulfillment, I was led by my own heart, pressure from the people around me, and the negative example of my parents--in short, everything but God. And yet, God mercifully 'ransomed [me] from the futile ways inherited from my forefathers (I Peter 1:18a)...' And now, by the grace of God, I wanted to pass a new heritage down to my children and their children after them someday--a heritage of those who love God and keep His commandments. A vision for something much bigger than myself was beginning to formulate in my mind."
 
I finished the book praising God for His goodness. As I read about God's miraculous provision in Kathy's life, I remenisced about those same times in my life. As I rejoiced to see her daughters making wise decisions and learning from their mother's mistakes, I renewed my resolve to learn from my parents' life experience and wisdom. And as I marvelled at Kathy's honesty, I realized the importance of transparency in all of our lives and what a ministry that honesty can be.
 
You can read the first chapter here. And if you decide to buy the book for yourself or for a Christmas present for that certain someone, then click below to buy it from Amazon--paperback for $17.60 or Kindle edition for $9.99

 

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

12.12.2012

Snapshots of God's Woman


12-07-10 So I'll Wait On Some Other Escape
Photo Credit

 
What does a woman after God’s heart look like?
 
These are a collection of personal thoughts I have been thinking lately.  If I truly want to be called a woman after God's heart in the same way that David was called a man after God's heart, then what is a snapshot of that woman? 

  • This woman would rather get lost in the Word of God than lose time on entertainment.
  • Her gratefulness to her mighty Savior is so great that she seizes every opportunity to deny self and bless others, simply because it brings joy and glory to Him.
  • She is so in love with Christ that she forgets herself.
  • She knows what she believes and can clearly communicate those beliefs with conviction and assurance from the Holy Spirit. 
  • She fails (and perhaps epically), but she makes it right before God and man. 
  • When she is shaken, Christ overflows.  When she is pricked, she bleeds Christ.  {Inspiration here}
  • She enjoys, delights, and takes pleasure in the heart of God more than anything else the world has to offer.  Because of this, she trusts Him implicitly. 
 

Photo by Bethan

12.04.2012

The Wedding is Almost Here

So I had this dream...
 
It was an elegant linen cream envelope that I pulled from the mailbox. The elaborate calligraphy inscribed on the front was addressed to me, and I slit open the paper with excitement. A classically styled invitation announced the wedding of a dear family friend--almost a second father--to a dear cousin, and I couldn't have been more elated.
 
Except, of course, when I received a call a few days later from the groom-to-be. "We were wondering," he began, with very little preliminaries, "if you are available to come early and help out with all the preparations. I know my bride would appreciate the help getting ready for the big day!"
 
"Oh, of course!" I agreed, most honored to be asked.
 
One week before the wedding was to occur, I arrived in town. "Oh, we have so much catching up to do!" I declared, as I slid into the backseat. The bride and groom had come to pick me up from the airport together. How cute! "So how did it happen--how did you get engaged?" I pressed, and they smilingly gave up all the details on the event. We stopped for dinner, and before I knew it, the evening was gone. I went to my hotel room with promises to call the next morning for instructions.
 
The next morning, I got up bright and early and made my way downstairs to the lobby for breakfast, when who should I run into, but an old friend, also there for the wedding! We chatted all morning, before I excused myself to go call the bride and get busy.
 
"Oh, hi!" She exclaimed. "Say, can you hold on for a minute?" I waited patiently, thumbing through a tourist magazine. "I'm back! Sorry about that--I was in the middle of a dress fitting. So, when can you come help?"
 
Dress fitting! I sat up with a start, remembering the dress I was planning on wearing to the wedding--the dress that was still fabric yardage and pattern paper in my suitcase at this point. "Well..." I stalled. "I actually just remembered something really important. I haven't finished the dress I'm wearing for the wedding yet."
 
"Oh," she paused. "OK. No problem. You work on that and give me a call as soon as you're ready, OK?"
 
"Sure thing! Talk to you soon! Oh--and can I borrow a sewing machine?" The rest of that day and the following day were completely consumed with sewing. Not to worry, however--with four days left for the wedding, I was ready to pitch in and help.
 
My first task was bird seed. First, I spent a good long while researching on Pinterest just exactly the perfect method for creating birdseed packets. I then proceeded to create origami envelopes and fill each one with birdseed. Creating 500 of these took quite a bit of time (two days, to be exact).
 
Two days till the wedding: "What needs to be done?" I texted the bride. Almost immediately, she sent four text messages, one right after another, all filled with her to-do list. I couldn't help but feel peeved. "Don't you think this is a bit much? :( " I texted back. To which I received no reply, but on my way out of the hotel, I made sure to share my sentiments with my friend as well, who thoroughly sympathized with my feelings.
 
To cope, I spent the morning in a corner of the church thoroughly reading a definitive book on weddings by Martha Stewart. Upon completion, I was thoroughly schooled in the art of what not to do for weddings, and I lent my expertise wherever it was needed. The day before the wedding was spent in busy preparation, as well as documentation (of course, I knew all my facebook/twitter/blogger/pinterest/myspace/flickr/tumblr/instagram/youtube/wordpress fans were just dying for updates!).
 
That night, it hit me--look at all that was left to be done! I spent the entire night frantically scrambling to help finish the food and decorations, my tired brain too fuzzy to consider Martha Stewart's remonstrances any longer. I awoke on the day of the wedding exhausted and with barely enough time to slip into my dress, brush my hair (and my teeth), and find my shoes.
 
I'm a procrastinator at heart--what of it? We got it all done, the wedding was pulled off in fabulous style, and I made it to the church before the kiss!
 
When I got back home and had a solid eight hours of sleep behind me, however, I began to contemplate an impending wedding of much greater proportions. Would I be the foolish, unprepared virgin at that event as I was at this one? Would the week of the wedding find me engaged in all manner of idiotic, inane activities as the week of this wedding did? Would I be grumbling and gossiping against the Bride--the Church--as I was against my cousin?  

"Stay Awake"
 

"Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles....But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. And above all things have fervent love for one another, for 'love will cover a multitude of sins (I Peter 4:1-3a, 7-8).'"

 
The end of all things is at hand; haven't I spent enough of my past lifetime in serving the whims of my flesh and the world?
 
And then I woke up. ;-)





Photo Credit: 4ThGlryOfGod

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

Note: This is a parable--a work of fiction. It did not happen.
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