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


The Lighthouse that Killed a Man

Photo Credit

The waves are so dark they are nearly black, and they tower above the rocks with their manes of foam.  They tower also above the half-submerged ship, dwarfing its captain.  The man has never before felt such a cold rush of fear as when that next big wave crashes hungrily over him.  And while fighting for his next breath, the captain doesn't know that the vague pillar he can just barely make out ahead is a lighthouse. 
If he could see the beacon, it would be a bulwark of hope, a promise of life, a rope to a drowning man.  But he cannot see any beacon, only the outline of the building itself, for the lighthouse light is not beaming out into the deathly waves, but is turned within.  It is spotlighting itself. 
Every nation in the world gazes with their last hope at the hill before them.  Brutality more cruel than they could ever imagine defeats them.  Uprisings more sinister than any yet seen divide them.  Debauchery more profane than one could even whisper of shames them.  And so they gaze at the hill, at the city on the hill, hoping for a love to beautify, hoping for a leader to unify, hoping for righteousness to purify.  But their hopes are crushed at the foot of that hill for, crane their necks as they will, they can see nothing.

The city, the great city upon which the eyes of the world were pinned, must still be there, but it cannot be seen.  The city is now invisible. 
The surgeon swipes the dripping sweat from his forehead with the back of his hand.  With bleary eyes, he examines his shining tools once again, laid out for the tenuous operation he is about to undertake.  He is ready, and strides across the silent cabin to sterilize his hands in the sink before he begins.  When he is finished, he turns to speak to the wife and daughter, to comfort them with what words of encouragement he can give.  But as he turns, the flickering light, the precious flame that is to be his right hand in the operation, is shadowed, and he catches sight of the daughter enclosing the candle in a sooty lantern.  “What are you doing?”  He cries, stopping just short of gripping her hand.  That candle—without it her father will die, and the surgeon is desperate. 
“Oh, don’t worry,” she replies calmly, shutting the lantern door.  “It is just that the light becomes more gorgeous when it glimmers from inside the lantern.  Don’t you think this light it is much more mysterious than the flame of the candle by itself?”  The surgeon narrows his eyes at her in horror.  Can she be serious?  The life-giving light is all but obliterated by the sooty lantern! 
The lighthouse spotlights itself.
The city set on the hill hides itself.
The candle is shrouded by its own soot. 
The lighthouse is so consumed by its own glory that it twists its whole purpose in being.
The city on the hill is so devoted to its own cause that it withdraws from its whole purpose in being. 
The candle in the house is so blinded by its own lack that it denies its whole purpose in being. 
I am a lighthouse to the men caught on the rocks of the world: but when I turn that God-given light on myself, men perish while my self-esteem is petted.
I am the city set on the hill to nations craving hope, but when I hide myself lest I be tainted by those polluted nations, men die while my ego remains elevated. 
I am the candle in the miserable, dark house of sickness, but when I deny my very identity for fear of my small flame not being enough, men bleed to death while my idol of self remains enthroned. 
Pride.  It's a matter of life and death. 

“Let your light so shine before men, they they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” ~Matthew 5:13-16

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


Wedding Bells

The day at long last arrived--September 7, 2013, the wedding of my dear and lifelong friend and cousin to her high-school sweetheart.

6AM prep always makes for fun pictures!

Lauren and I had a blast doing the hair of four bridesmaids and one cute flower girl.

The cute flower girl (and cousin) with all the streamers we transported to the wedding.
Micah escorted Grandma down the aisle.

Cousin Ryan looks fabulous!

Cousins Reed and Camryn made the perfect ring bearer and flower girl!

I started crying as soon as I saw this sight.
Aunt Hiedie shared words of advice for the couple--practice kindness!

It was so precious to be a witness to Zach and Rebecca's union.

Micah and Mikaela

Susanna and Camryn

And they lived happily ever after...


The Pink Dress Challenge

This pink dress, which is over seven years old, has languished in the corner of my closet for the last few years.  It had become a little too short, and didn't fit very well.  Furthermore, it was sleeveless, which isn't my preferred style and meant that I was always searching for a cardigan to go over it. 

The fabric, however, was beautiful, and enticed me to a challenge.  Could I make the dress over, resulting in a more modest, better fitting, yet still gorgeous outfit?
Thankfully, I had a secret weapon to help me out in my challenge: Mikaela had an identical dress (one of the many perks of having an identical twin sister!).  Hers, however, had been languishing in her closet even longer because it was several sizes too big for her.  With her permission and only a slight bit of trepidation, I ripped apart her dress and got busy!

Next, I cut a strip of fabric from the bottom of her dress to add length to the bottom of my dress.  However, as you can see in the top photo, I couldn't just add the strip on to the dress, because the bottom of the dress was wider than the top of my strip!  So I simply sewed up the side seams of my dress 1 1/2 inches on each side, gradually easing off before the hip area. 

Every challenge needs its challenging moments.  In the top photo, you can see my length addition sewed perfectly onto my dress.  Perfect, except that I later realized that the trim I wanted to add needed to be sewn into the seam!  So I ripped that whole seam out, and prepared to make the trim, which would hide the addition to the dress and serve as a stylish element as well. 
I wanted the trim to be an exact match for the trim found on the waist of the dress, but wasn't sure where I could get that same white fabric.  Amazingly, I didn't have to look any farther than the lining of the dress--perfect match! 
I simply cut several strips of the white lining on the bias, sewed them together into one long strip, folded them in half lengthwise, and sewed a quick seam to hold it in place.  Next, I pinned the trim to the bottom edge of my dress, and then the addition (right sides together) on top of that.  One more seam, and the skirt was done!

I also had to add an addition to the lining, since the eyelet fabric addition would be see-through without it.  So I cut more fabric from Mikaela's dress lining and followed the same steps as above to add the required length. 
Next up: I decided to tackle cap sleeves, without a pattern!  First, I googled.  Second, I had to sew up the center seams of the straps to adjust the bodice fit.  Then, I measured around my upper arm, and cut two rectangles of fabric about an inch shorter than that measurement (since I didn't need the sleeve to go all the way around).  I made my sleeves about 4 inches wide, but they could be even wider.   

In the middle photo above, I sewed the eyelet to the lining wrong sides together, turned it right-side out, top-stitched, and had a beautiful finished sleeve edge!  I finished the other edges by zig-zagging them, then trimming them. 
Next, I folded the sleeve in half and held it up to the armhole of the dress.  I traced that curve along the sleeve, and cut it out to end up with the half-moon shaped piece in the upper right. 
I then gathered the zig-zagged edges, pinned them into the armhole, and sewed them up (and tore out the weird gathers and tucks that I always manage to sew over). 

Finally, I wanted to create a few flowers to add the last touch of elegance to the dress.  I decided to try out a new technique I had seen on Pinterest, which turned out quite wonderfully!  You simply trace a disc on a piece of fabric, then cut the circle in a spiral shape.  I found that rolling the first few inches to form a loose bud, then randomly gathering the rest of the length to form petals worked beautifully!
 A cluster of posies adorns the waist.

My finished pink dress!  Challenge met!
 Even though that trim required seam-ripping, it was worth it! 
 The dress made its debut only a few days after completion at my dear cousin's wedding.  Here I'm on the left getting in on the bouquet toss!

Next week, Mikaela will have more from the wedding to share with you all!  But for now, although my room is still strewn with pins and pink threads, I love my "new" dress and know one thing for sure: it will not be a closet languisher in the future!


The Wrestling Match

I searched for You until the darkness came.
I wrestled with You till my limbs gave up.
I threshed the wheat till the storm descended.
The drought of summer drained me of my life.
I desperately called to You, Oh God.
And I acknowledged my sin before You.
My sin, though deep and wide, is forgiven.
The consuming flood is a welcome rain
Of Your righteousness on my fallow ground.
The darkness calls me to follow Your eye,
The exhaustion throws me to my Savior.
The wind is assurance of Your presence.
The pain, though great, brings rewards much greater.
Respite tempts, but the struggle is better.
Sin nigh prevails, but my God is stronger!
You brought light to my search in the dark night;
You renewed the strength in my fainting limbs;
Oh the joy—You exchanged my chaff for grain!
Blackness, weakness, and storminess remain,
But who is like my God? I trust now, for
In man’s confusion is God’s providence.
Photo Credit: Navaneeth Ashok
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