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



Once upon a time, there lived a young girl who should have been very unhappy. Unhappy she should have been, for her mother was dead, her father had married another woman, a widow with two daughters, and her stepmother didn’t like her one little bit. All the nice things, kind thoughts and loving touches were for her own daughters. And not just the kind thoughts and love went to her daughters, but also dresses, shoes, shawls, delicious food, comfy beds, as well as every home comfort. But for the poor girl, there was nothing at all. No dresses, only her stepsisters’ hand-me-downs. No lovely dishes: nothing but scraps. No nice rests and comfort. For she had to work hard all day, and only when evening came was she allowed to sit for a while by the fire, near the cinders. That is how she got her nickname, for everybody called her Cinderella. But God kept her far from unhappy; indeed, she was usually cheerful and content!

One day, beautiful new dresses arrived at the house. A ball was to be held at Court, and the stepsisters were getting ready to go to it. Cinderella didn’t even dare ask “What about me?” for she knew very well what the answer to that would be.

“You? My dear girl, you’re staying at home to wash the dishes, scrub the floors and turn down the beds for your stepsisters. They will come home tired and very sleepy.” Cinderella sighed at the cat. It was impossible for her to go to the ball.

But God caused something amazing happened. In the kitchen, where Cinderella was sitting all by herself, there came a light tap on the door, and a small woman with curly grey hair slipped in--a dear old friend of Cinderella's mother!

"My dear!" She exclaimed after fifteen minutes of delightful talking. "Have you heard of the ball! Such an affair!"

"Ah yes," sighed Cinderella. "I won't go, I don't think."

"Well of course you shall!"

“How can I, dressed in rags?” Cinderella replied. “The servants will turn me away!” 

The woman smiled and disappeared from the kitchen for a few minutes. When she reappeared, she was bearing the most beautiful dress, the loveliest ever seen in the realm. “Now that we have settled the matter of the dress,” said the friend, “we’ll need to get you a coach and six white horses and a coachman. A real lady would never go to a ball on foot! But mind! You must leave the ball at midnight and come home--this coach is only borrowed and must go back to it's rightful owner by then.”

Cinderella was without words in her astonishment, but her eyes shone with unshed tears. How this woman could make such an evening possible for her, she would never know. 

When Cinderella entered the ballroom at the palace, a hush fell. Everyone stopped in mid-sentence to admire her elegance, her beauty and grace. “Who can that be?” people asked each other. The two stepsisters also wondered who the newcomer was, for never in a month of Sundays, would they ever have guessed that the beautiful girl was really poor Cinderella who talked to the cat! When the prince set eyes on Cinderella, he was struck by her beauty. Walking over to her, he bowed deeply and asked her to dance. And to the great disappointment of all the young ladies, he danced with Cinderella all evening.

“Who are you, fair maiden?” the Prince kept asking her.

But Cinderella only replied: “What does it matter who I am! You will never see me again anyway.”

“Oh, but I shall, I’m quite certain!” he replied.

Cinderella had a wonderful time at the ball, but, all of a sudden, she heard the sound of a clock: the first stroke of midnight! She remembered what the friend had said, and without a word of goodbye she slipped from the Prince’s arms and ran down the steps. As she ran she lost one of her slippers, but not for a moment did she dream of stopping to pick it up! If the last stroke of midnight were to sound… oh, what a disaster that would be! Out she fled and vanished into the night.

Cinderella was forever lost to the Prince, who was madly in love with her. But God caused the Prince to spy Cinderella's dainty slipper and say to his ministers, “Go and search everywhere for the girl whose foot this slipper fits. I will never be content until I find her!” So the ministers traveled far and wide to try the slipper on the foot of all the girls…and on Cinderella’s foot, the slipper fit perfectly.

“That awful untidy girl simply cannot have been at the ball,” snapped the stepmother. “Tell the Prince he ought to marry one of my two daughters! Can’t you see how ugly Cinderella is! Can’t you see?”

But the ministers paid her no heed. “Come with us, fair maiden! The Prince awaits to present you with his engagement ring!” So Cinderella joyfully went with them, and because she had been happy in the worst of circumstances, learning to trust in the power of her God to work the impossible, she was also happy in the best of circumstances, and she lived happily ever after with her Prince.

Our elder preached a fantastic sermon on Sunday titled "But God," which testified of some of the many times in Scripture and in our lives that all is dark and impossible, but for God. I like to think that "Cinderella," and most beloved fairy tales started as a series of "but God" moments and morphed into what we know them to be today. I took the tale from here and modified it to reflect that thought.

Photo Credit: scentzilla
Photo Credit: scentzilla


The Worst Timing

“Truly You are the Son of God.”  Only moments before the disciples had declared Jesus a ghost, yet now Peter was the ghost.  Dripping wet and panting from his near-drowning, Peter lay in the bottom of the boat like a landed fish, and Jesus stood within the boat as solidly as He had on the frothing waves.  In that moment of seeing Peter breathing in the boat instead of sinking in the sea, at last the disciples really saw: “Truly You are the Son of God.” {Matthew 14:33}

At the moment when Jesus’ hand gripped Peter’s and saved him from a watery grave, the disciples knew He was God.  They had completed careful observations, cautious conclusions, and candid discussions, and they were finally ready to declare it after He rescued one of their own: “Yep, you’re the Son of God!” 

I’m in the same boat with the disciples.  What my eyes can see I will trust, but I will scrutinize high claims that make no logical sense.  Therefore, although I’ve been with Jesus for weeks, when I see such a laws-of-nature-bursting spectacle as walking on water and witness Jesus lithely pluck a fisherman from death, I am inclined to take that evidence and conclude, “Yes, you’re the Son of God!”  It’s a timely declaration, one must admit.
But what if Peter had cried, “Lord, save me!” that night, and Jesus hadn’t.  What if Peter had drowned while all the disciples watched, and Jesus chose to promote the fisherman to Heaven instead of rescuing him for a future martyrdom?   I think silence would have sheeted the Sea of Galilee.  Their own eyes would have closed their mouths, and there would have been no declaration.

“Truly this was the Son of God.” Only moments before he had seen Jesus alive and breathing, yet now He was gone.  Gone.  And the centurion who had never met Fear in his life was swallowed by it as boulders split open as if to swallow him as well.  He was thrown to the dirt by a ground that rocked like the high seas and his ears were split with screaming and wails.  Yet through his confusion, at last he saw it: “Truly this was the Son of God.” {Matthew 27:54} 
Could he have had worse timing?  It must have felt like the globe was being torn apart at its axis, and he was declaring a corpse to be God.  Jesus had just breathed his last, which he had seen with his own eyes.  I could understand if the centurion were outside the empty tomb on Sunday saying, “Truly this was the Son of God”, but I am humbled by the centurion standing by the dead body of Christ on Friday uttering that declaration. 
Jesus is God when He rescues me from the sea, but He is just as God when He doesn’t.  He does not prove Himself God by saving me; He saves me because He is God.  And the very best timing for a declaration is when all seems lost: “Truly You are the Son of God.”  There is nothing more freeing.

Photo Credit: Photo 1 Kuanying Fu
                      Photo 2 Bev Goodwin


Keeping Christmas

I know it's January, because there are diets, juice cleanses, to-do lists, and crazy-faithful exercising going on in my house. Is it still Christmas, though? For Ebenezer Scrooge did indeed say, "I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!" 

 It's easy to keep Christmas when you're in the flurry of preparations! The lights go up just when the long nights begin to get the best of you...

 and the bright ornaments and hot tea make everything that much more cheerful!
Melanie, Lauren, Mikaela, Mama, Jonah, Papa, Susanna, Micah
 Everything feels like Christmas when you're with family!

 Many concerts, recitals, and fun times with friends!

 Lots of Christmas cookies and candies!

And then, before anyone quite knew what had happened, December 24th descended upon us. We'd kept Christmas all month, striving to keep the Christ Child at the center of everything, and now the day itself had nearly arrived. The peaceful foggy day was the next best thing to snow during that bustling day. In the evening, festivities began in earnest as we sat down to our traditional fondue meal, attended Heritage Bible's candlelight Christmas Eve service, opened one present (surprise! new pjs!), and watched The Nativity.

Mikaela: "Can we get some manpower here, before they drop me?"

 Jonah: "Do I have to carry all the weight around here?"

 There's nothing quite like Christmas night as a child. The anticipation and delight of such a long-awaited, purely enjoyable event is not tainted by adult maladies such as exhaustion, to-do lists, and practicality. Nevertheless, Christmas night is still a night of wonder--and I'm always filled with excitement for the beautiful morning that awaits me. 

 Papa had a camera theme this year in his presents!

My most precious present was this disc necklace made by Jonah, who pounded out the middle of a silver half dollar, heated it, hammered it, and then glazed it. It's truly a work of art!

What 34 pound item do you think Uncle Dan shipped to us?

Try in thirty-four pounds of chocolates and candies. Giddiness and consternation abounded!

Mikaela, Julie, and Lauren
Special guests joined us in the afternoon for Christmas dinner.

Felicity with Papa

Jacob and Jonah | Micah, James, Julie, and Matt

Mrs. S and Mama

But guess what? Christmas wasn't over!

Joel came for a visit shortly after Christmas, and we were overjoyed to have six days together. God blessed us in an extraordinary way by providing airplane tickets, proving once again His goodness and abiding faithfulness in our lives--in both the good times and the bad times!
Micah, Michael, Jonah, Mikaela, Lauren, Susanna, and Melanie

Cousin Michael also stopped in for a visit!

And we managed to find the time for a New Year's Day Ball.

December, Christmas, and the New Year was marvelous: it really was easy to honor Christmas when surrounded by loved ones and delightful festivities! And now it's January--the month for tea, good books, gradually longer days, winter beauty, and exciting plans. Christmas isn't over, for the message of Christmas continues year round. Be encouraged--Jesus came to save!


We've blogged about every Christmas since starting One Bright Corner! If you care to reminisce with me, here are the links:
- Christmas 2012: Laughs, Chocolate, Traditions, Family, and the Birth of a Baby
- Christmas 2011: A Traditional Christmas
- Christmas 2010: Come We Merrily on Christmas Morn
- Christmas 2009: Born is the King of Israel!


2013: A Crazy-Good Year!

 Back row, l-r: Papa, Mama, Lauren, Susanna, Melanie, Micah, Mikaela
Front row: Jonah

Click on the image and zoom in to read the smaller words.
I loved looking back on what God brought in 2013 while putting this together!  Thankfully, I had a little help getting started on this newsletter, and if you're interested you can download the free template I used here!
Happy New Year everyone!  2014, here we come!
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