Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Authentic Beauty

Here is an excerpt from a book I recently received called Authentic Beauty by Leslie Ludy. It is so well written I really wanted to share it. It's really long, but it's beautiful. It's Leslie telling about falling in love with her Prince (Jesus Christ).

He was someone I had known for years. He had been a close family friend. He had many appealing qualities, but I had never really thought about him in a romantic way. It was true that he had a sensitive and tender side that I had seen on a few occasions. But he was also extremely passionate about truth, and I felt that sometimes he came across a little too strong on points. To be honest, he intimidated me. It also seemed that he was a little too involved with "church stuff". When I thought of him, I was reminded of Sunday school lessons with flannel Bible story characters or gold offering plates---this was not exactly the atmosphere for true love!

He was one of those people with a piercing gaze that can see straight into the depths of your soul. Because of this, I had gone out of my way to avoid him for the past few years. For some time now my life had been a chaotic mess of compromise and confusion. I didn't want him to see what I had become. If he found out what I had done, I was sure he would sternly reprimand me and remind me that it was too late for me to ever discover anything more. But I soon realized I was very, very wrong about him.

I found him waiting for me by the apple trees near my back gate one day as I headed out for a morning walk. I was startled to see him there, surprised that after all these years and all the times I had ignored him, he still wanted to spend time with me. I gave him a tentative glance, and he smiled at me---a tender intimate smile that made my heart lurch in spite of itself. I quickly looked away.

"Can I walk with you?" he asked in a gentle voice. I nodded, still avoiding his gaze, and he fell into step beside me. We made out way in silence for a while, listening to the occasional chatter of a squirrel or high-pitched chirp of a robin. I kept my eyes on the gravel path at my feet.

"I missed you," he told me simply. Though it was obvious to both of us that I was the one who had put the distance between us, there was no hint of accusation in his tone. I bit my lip and nodded again, unsure what to say in response. We walked a little farther, and I realized his presence was both refreshing and comforting. I could feel his tender eyes watching me, silently telling me how important I was to him, though I could not figure out why. Nothing else was said during the rest of our time together that day, but I sensed that something more was about to happen between us. I just wasn't sure if I was ready.

Our friendship slowly grew. The more time I spent with him, the more I realized how utterly different he was from any man I had ever encountered. In him, there were none of the sex-hungry glances I had received from the guys at school, not a trace of the flirtatious teasing that had always surrounded me, and not a strain of the seductive charms I had grown so accustomed to in men. But somehow I knew that he loved me. That he deeply desired me. That he found me beautiful. I hardly dared to hope that I had finally found the one man that could fulfill those long-forgotten dreams of mine. Even if he could be my prince, I was sure I had found him too late.

"This is completely crazy," I told myself aloud one night as I tossed and turned in bed. "He wouldn't want someone like me." I was convinced that his love for me would shrivel up in a second if he truly understood how many mistakes I had made. I didn't think I could risk becoming attached to him. I had been hurt so many times that I didn't know how much more pain my heart could handle. I had another worry. He didn't live his life the way anyone else did. He stood out like a neon billboard on a lonely desert highway. He was mocked and misunderstood by quite a few people in my life. I knew he would not fit in to my world, would not be accepted by my friends, and would not be at home in most of my surroundings. How could I possibly love someone like this? What did he expect me to do---walk away from everything just to be with him?

I wrestled with my fears for weeks. He never pressured me to make a decision. He simply reminded me, in a hundred different ways, that he loved me and that he longed for me. He was infinitely patient, tender, and sensitive...the kind of prince I had dreamed of for as long as I could remember. After seeing the real thing, I couldn't believe I had fallen for such poor substitutes. But at the same time, I couldn't help wondering whether or not he might just be too good to be true.

Over time, gradually, like the moving of the hour hand, my guard came down. No matter how many times I pulled away from him, his love remaining unmoving, like a majestic, unwavering mountain overlooking a tumultuous ocean. I had even told him in detail, with hot tears flashing in my tormented eyes, exactly what I had done with my life, heart, and body over the past years. But I sensed that instead of judging me, he was inwardly weeping over every piece of my shattered heart. Coming face-to-face with this kind of infinite kindness left me stunned.

One morning, as I was sitting alone on a bench in the crisp spring air, I felt him softly approach me. He didn't have to speak. I took a long look into the unfathomable depths of love in his eyes, and I melted. With tears coursing down my face like a cascading waterfall, I fell into his arms and told him passionately that my heart belonged to no one but him.
At that moment, my life, my pursuits, my friends, everything I had built my world around, faded away into nothingness. None of it seemed even remotely important anymore. Nothing mattered now but him.

As I whispered my devotion to him, a brilliant peace crept steadily into my heart and began to quietly mend its broken pieces. His eyes were wet with tears of unspeakable joy. I felt like an eagle gliding freely along the majestic mountain peaks following an afternoon storm. I had finally found my prince. He had gallantly searched for me and rescued me from my horrible dungeon of captivity. He had loved me in spite of my wretched, ugly condition. He had taken the filthy rags I was clothed in and given me the sparkling gown of a beautiful princess. His amazing love had fully revived my shattered, wounded, bleeding heart. And though I knew that now I must sacrifice all I had ever known in order to be with him, there was not a shred of doubt lingering in my mind. It was like giving him a pile of worthless pebbles and receiving a houseful of priceless jewels in return.

I recommend Authentic Beauty for almost any young lady aged 14 and older. Leslie gives wonderful lessons in falling more in love with your Prince.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!

May everyone have a blessed Christmas and a wonderful New Year!!!

Miriam Rebekah and Anna Naomi

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Off Again

Yes, I'm afraid I'll be leaving again. We leave early tomorrow morning to start our long drive, visiting family and friends. I won't be back until January 2nd, so the blog is all yours, Miriam dear!

I hope and pray that each of you have a very merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Garden of Life

*Disclaimer* Although I know that somewhere there is a book or list of different meanings for different flowers. However, I don't know them all, and the attributes I've assigned to different flowers are entirely of my own imagination.

If your life were a garden, what would be growing in it? The Bible tells us that we do indeed "plant" things in our lives. Galatians 6:7 says, "Do not be deceived; God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows." So, what are you growing in the garden of life?

Are the red roses of love growing in your garden? Love that is true, and not self-seeking? What about the white roses of purity? Are they in your life, presenting themselves clean and spotless to the world? Are the carnations of compassion flowering beautifully? Along with them, are the lilies of kindness blooming big and bright?

Walking on, would we find the daffodils of joy cheerfully making your garden a fun, joyful place? Are the pansies of peace placidly providing a calm atmosphere? Are the hyacinths of hope keeping your spirits up, while the lilacs of faith keep your trust in God unwavering?

In the prettiest part of the garden, are the violets of gentleness doing well? And the primroses of patience, ever nearby, are they growing in depth and size? Are the daisies of grace dancing their way trough the garden, not only affecting your poise, but also helping you overlook others' faults? And the bluebells of modesty, are they blooming away, sweet, yet rarely noticed? Likewise, are the buttercups of humility helping all the other lovely flowers by protecting you from become high and haughty?

Close by, are the sunflowers of wisdom sharing their seeds and lessons learned with others? Are the peonies of prudence there as well, helping you know when to speak and when to keep silent? As a necessity to your reputation, are you tending the hydrangeas of honesty carefully? Are the chrysanthemums of justice working to make sure no one is taken advantage of, while the marigolds of mercy work patiently and kindly with those who have done wrong?

No garden would be complete without the gardenias of diligence working hard to get things done. Coupled with the tulips of strength, a lot can be accomplished. Is the wisteria of endurance winding its way around, refusing to give up? What about the orchids of self-control? Are you growing those stronger and stronger?

In the center of the garden, is the goldenrod of the fear and love of the Lord shining brightly and reminding you not to compromise on His commands?

Just as it is important to plant good things in your garden, it is important to guard against the bad things that would try to grow. The devil loves to plant weeds of bitterness, envy, and strife, and send out briers of selfishness, laziness, and deceitfulness. He's always trying to find ways to plant evil little things, that would grow to wreak havoc on your garden. You must be alert, and tend your garden carefully. Pull out the weeds and cut away the briers as soon as you can, to prevent them from taking root and chocking the delicate flowers.

So, how's your garden? Is it a beautifully array of colors, spreading sweet perfume wherever you go, or is it drab and lifeless? Are you tending the garden of your life well?

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Christmas Party at the Hart's House

Last night we had a very enjoyable party at our house. We had the Lofgren, Olm, and Simon families over. Mrs. Simon and my mother had put together a music party and we children performed Christmas music and some music that wasn't Christmasy but pretty all the same.

After we played our music, we ate food (that seems to coincide with parties for some reason), then we all went outside to play Hide-and-Seek and Freeze Tag in the cold weather. It wasn't too cold, thank goodness! Joel lit a fire for us to warm up at and then he and the boys went to put some entertainment together. About fifteen minutes later, some very pretty fireworks burst into the sky.
After our miniature fireworks show, my pyromaniac brother found some bottlerockets and other odd and ends that just had to be shot off. So we went back to the fire and spent the next half hour lighting off whistling bottlerockets. But lighting them one at a time wasn't fast enough for Joel, so he dumped the whole bucket of fireworks into the fire and everyone ran to safety to watch the mayhem that ensued. After the excitement was over, we soon drifted back up towards the warm house.
The time went faster than any of us realized and soon it was going on eleven o'clock. Little children were starting to get tired and soon we were saying goodbye to all our guests.
Next week we're planning on having the same music party at the Simon's house, so that different relatives who weren't able to come last night will be able to come that night. The Lofgrens won't be able to come, as they will be traveling to see family for the holidays and they will be missed. But we can't keep all our favorite people to ourselves. :)
God bless,
Miriam Rebekah

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Steps to Successful Sewing Part 2

I'm sorry it's taken so long for me to post this second and final part in the Steps to Successful Sewing series. If you haven't yet, read Part 1.

So, you've cut out your dress pieces, and you're ready to begin sewing. If you've never used a sewing machine before, I suggest that before you do anything else, you sew a few practice stitches on a scrap of cloth. Line up the edge of the cloth with the cloth guide (the little thing near the needle and needle plate of the sewing machine that has inch markings on it) and practice sewing in a straight line. Learning to control the machine can be a challenge as well; control the speed with your foot, going as fast as you are comfortable with. If you're barely crawling along, don't despair! I promise you that you'll speed up as you get a little more used to the machine. If you accidentally "race" the machine (put your foot down really fast and making the machine race along) don't worry; you've not done anything other beginners haven't done. Simply take your foot off of the pedal, and try again, going slowly.

Before you begin sewing you're garment, you'll have to wind a bobbin of the same color thread that you're using. Each machine is a little different in this regard, so consult your sewing machine's manual. You'll also need to thread the machine through all sorts of little cracks, up and down, and so on. Your manual should have a detailed diagram of how to do this. If you're unable to figure it out (as I was), ask around among your friends and at church, to see if anyone has used a sewing machine before. Chances are, they'll be someone there who will at least know a little about sewing.

With your machine threaded, and a little knowledge of how to run your machine, you're ready to begin sewing your garment. Before you begin sewing, take a moment to read through your pattern, to kind of see what's in store. This helps figure out some of what you'll be doing, and gives you hope that after completing each step, your garment will turn into something beautiful. = ) Then, start at step 1 and work through it. Once completed, go to step 2, then step 3, ect.

If you get stuck and make a mistake, don't stress. Use your handy dandy stitch riper and take out the stitches that messed things up. Read the directions again, and try again. Don't expect to get everything on the first try. When making my first dress, I must have redone almost everything at least once - and sometimes more. Don't get discouraged! If you're really stuck and tears of frustration spring to your eyes, take a break. Leave everything how it is and just walk away. Come back a few minutes or a few hours, or even a few days later and try again. It's amazing how much a fresh perspective can help. If you're still hopelessly stuck, ask for help. If you know a friend who sews, ask her to help you figure things out. If you don't, feel free to email me or search the web. There are many sewing sites out there, and even sewing message boards that may be able to help.

While sewing, you may run into a little terminology that leaves you a little bewildered. Hopefully this will help you decipher it, and figure out what they're wanting you to do.
  • Stay-stitch - This is simply stitching that will help you put the garment together. Your pattern should have arrows showing the direction you are supposed the sew, and where you should sew it.
  • Gather - This is what you do when you attach most sleeves an skirts. First you sew two lines of long (3 1/2 to 4 inch) stitches, leaving long threads wherever you end the stitches. Pining the skirt (for example) to the bodice, matching notches and dots, separate the long threads, so that you're holding one strand from each line of stitching. Gently pull on the threads. This will make the fabric bunch up. Slide the bunched up fabric to the middle of the stitching, and keep pulling and sliding until skirt fits to the bodice, matching dots. Try to keep the gathers fairly evenly distributed. Repeat to the other half of the stitching. Generally, you stop and start again with the gathering stitches at each side seam. I know that it sounds confusing, but it's really not all that hard. Sometimes the pattern will refer to this as "easing". Once your skirt or sleeve is gathered to fit where it's supposed to fit, sew the pieces together. Once everything is nicely sewn together, you can finally cut off those long and annoying gathering threads!
  • Press - When the pattern tells you to "press" something, it's merely telling you to iron it flat, so that it's not wrinkled, and the seam lays flat. You should usually press each seam after you're done sewing it. Pressing while you're sewing helps the garment look nice and well-made.
  • Baste - Before sewing seams, patterns will often tell you to "baste" them. This usually refers to sewing the pieces together with a long stitch, so that you can make sure that they'll fit together. Another way to do this is to use pins to pin the pieces together. However, when you're sewing, don't sew over the pins or you could break your pin or your sewing machine needle, or both. Whenever you're almost to a pin while sewing, pause for a second and pull the pin out before proceeding.
  • Finish Seams - This is a good thing to do to ensure that your garment stays together and beautiful with frayed strings hanging all over the place. Basically, you "finish" every seam that you sew. If you're blessed with a serger, sew the edges of the seams together, serging the edges nicely so that they won't fray. If you don't have a serger, don't worry. You can still finish the seams nicely. Set your sewing machine to the zig-zag stitch. Then, trim your seam so it's not ragged, and zig-zag over the edge of the cloth. This will finish it nicely
  • Back Stitch - This is something you should do at the beginning and end of each line of stitching; doing this makes sure that the seam won't unravel. Most machines have a button that you hold down to stitch backwards, then you let it go to continue stitching forwards. This will ensure that your garment will stay together!
I'm sure I've left some terms out, so if anyone wants to alert me to other confusing ones, feel free! Also, if anyone is confused by any other terms that I may think of as simple, because I've sewn for a while, let me know! I'll do my best to explain them to you.

Sewing is a wonderful activity that produces a beautiful result. Things to remember: Don't stress - take breaks if you're getting frustrated; keep your stitch riper always at your side; have fun, relax, and enjoy making something to wear or decorate! Take risks; don't be afraid to try something, and don't be afraid to ask for help if you get stuck. Sometimes what seems to be the simplest thing can actually be the hardest to understand!

If you have learned the basic sewing techniques, yet don't quite feel up to tackling a more complicated pattern on your own, Sense and Sensibility has photo instructions online to help you through each step of your Regency or other era dress. They also have video clips on the same page. So if you don't know of sewing classes that you can take around where you live, learn how to do things online!

I hope this post as helped you. Now I need to go and get back to the sewing I need to finish before Christmas. Happy sewing to you!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Sing Unto the Lord

"Praise the LORD. How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise Him!" ~ Psalm 147:1

Today the Capitol City Singers, a homeschool choir based in Montgomery, had their final Christmas concert, the first one I was able to be in. We sang in the state Capitol rotunda, and at a nursing home. I am very blessed to have this opportunity to learn to train my voice to praise the Lord. I'm also enjoying learning to sing harmony, as I'm an alto. It's also neat to have choir with many friends, including the Harts!

"Sing to Him, sing praise to Him; tell of all His wonderful acts." ~ Psalm 105:2

"I will sing to the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live." ~ Psalm 104:33

"Praise the LORD. Sing to the LORD a new song, His praise in the assembly of the saints." ~ Psalm 149:1

Yes, Christmas is almost here, with the sights and sounds all around us. We hope that you all are having a wonderful season, giving thanks for the "birth of our King."

"Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before Him with music and song." ~ Psalm 95:1

Friday, December 08, 2006

More on Motherhood

Helping out at my sister's house this past week has taught me more about about the wonderful, and challenging, task of being a mother. I know, however, that I am far from an expert on this subject; helping out for one week hardly makes me qualified! I'm sure that a lot simply can't be learned, until one is herself a mother. I've learned quite a bit though, even reading a parenting book while here! =)

Motherhood is truly one of the hardest, yet most rewarding jobs around. To a mother is given the task of running a house, teaching and caring for children, and doing numerous little things often while operating on very little sleep. Hers is the task to comfort a newborn as he or she wakes for the 4th time during the night. Hers is the job of training a toddler to obey. Hers is the job of teaching her children right from wrong, about daily life, and for preparing them for the day they will one day have their own family. Her job is often a thankless one. Who notices the toys she continually picks up and puts away, or the crumbs she's forever sweeping up? Children rarely ever thank her for feeding, clothing, bathing, and loving them. What child ever thanks their mother for the discipline she gives, although it is essential in training them to be a responsible adult? Yet, she does it, often to the point fo exhaustion. And her reward is the joy of seeing her children grow, hearing their giggles, receiving their hugs and kisses, and the smiles as they go through the day.

No, motherhood isn't all cuddly cooing babies or girls dressed up in ribbons and bows. Certainly, there are many rewarding times, but the majority of it is just plain, hard work. I'd like to think that when I (Lord willing) become a mother, that things will somehow be easier and go smoothly for me. I'd like to think that I'll always be able to keep an impeccable house, or never have a stubborn child that's hard to train. It'd be nice, but I know that it's unrealistic. Certainly, I should strive for the best, yet I know that the house will often most likely be in disarray, or they'll be a screaming child I just don't know what to do with. Yet, I can honestly say that I look forward to it. If God wills that I get married and have a family, I'll be more than happy. However before then, I still have much to learn.

I'm learning that I can't do it on my own. I'm learning that I've got to rely on God for strength. I'm learning to look past seeming failures and keep going. I'm learning to have a servant's heart; to know that most of my hard work will go unnoticed, yet to go on, knowing that God sees all.

It amazes me how today's world is slow to give the honor due a mother. If you're a cook at a restaurant, you are acclaimed, but what about all the meals a mother makes for her family? If you're a maid, it's okay in the world's eyes, but what about the big responsibility of keeping your home clean and inviting? If you're a Nan or teacher you are respected, yet a mother teaches and cares for children all day long, and a mother's training is the most important that a child can receive. You could be a beautician, but then what about the joy and love you feel as you dress and brush your daughter's hair? Being a full-time wife and mother is often looked down upon by today's society, but I am convinced that their job is one of the most important in shaping the world that we live in. A mother is raising the next generation! Wouldn't you rather care for your own child, then leave a stranger to do it most of the time? The hand that rocks the cradle does indeed rule the world.

Mothers aren't the only important ones in shaping their children's lives. Fathers are equally important. I'm seeing more and more the wisdom of God when He made a family to be one with two parents. A father and mother work together, supporting each other, figuring out the best way to train their children, and presenting a united front to the world. After a long, tiring day of caring for children it is so refreshing for the mother to see the father come in the door; to finally be able to carry on an adult conversation after hearing childish voices all day; to have someone to love and honor, to be the head of the home. Without a father, how would a boy learn what true manhood is? Without a father, how would a daughter find the love she needs from a man? Sadly, today fathers are undermined as well, made fun of, or thought unnecessary. Yet, a family with both a mother and father is the kind of family God intending, providing balance and security.

I won't be a mother for many more years, but I honestly am looking forward to it. I know that it will be more work than I can imagine, but I can't wait. No, my goal in life is not to have babies, as some have so disgustedly commented. My goal in life is to love God and serve Him forever. However, one of the ways I can do this, I believe, is to be what God made women to be - a mother. No, I'm not spending all of my time dreaming about motherhood, but I am preparing for this great task. I'm learning how to run a household by helping out at home. I'm getting experience with children by helping with nieces and nephews or babysitting back home. Yes, I have to admit, it will be kind of nice to go home and not be responsible for the care of children almost all day. It will be nice to sleep through the night without hearing a little voice at my door or a wail in the dark. It will be nice to play games a little more advanced than Go Fish! and Candyland, but I will miss the little ones. I'll miss snuggling up with James and Sara as they listen spellbound to a story. I'll miss cuddling Lisa Beth and rocking her while singing a lulaby. I'll miss having a little one to scoop up for a hug whenever I need one, or to tickle and hear a delighted giggle.

Yes, the jobs of mother and father are indeed extremely important. I don't fully understand every aspect yet, but I do know much of the hard things involved. To all of you mothers and fathers, and especially to my own mom and dad, sister and brother-in-law, and sister-in-law and brother, thank you. Thank you for all you do, big and small. Thank you for all the little things that often go unnoticed. Thank you for the work you're doing to train the next generation. May God bless you abundantly for the great work you are doing!

"Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children are a reward from Him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in ones youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate." ~ Psalm 127:3-5

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Modesty Survey Join The Modesty Survey

The Rebelution is starting an exciting new project, The Modesty Survey. It will be exciting to see the results they come up with. Why don't you read more...

Monday, December 04, 2006

Elisabeth Maria Coble

Below are pictures of my beautiful niece! I dressed her up in a pretty dress that Michele passed along to Maria. Lisa Beth is such a sweetie!

My 3rd niece, Lisa Beth, born on November 27th, 2006

She looked the part of a regular southern belle!

I'm enjoying my time here. It has it's challenges, but also it's joys. I of course really enjoy cuddling Lisa Beth most of all!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Mommy Practice =)

Well, tomorrow I leave to help out at my sister Maria's house for 10 days, and get more mommy practice. Since I only have one younger sister, it's nice to be able to learn by helping with my neices and nephews! With great joy Maria and Ron welcomed their third child on Monday, November 27th; a little girl, named Elisabeth Maria Coble, who their planning to call Lisa Beth. I can't wait to meet her!

So, expect posting from me to be sporadic at best over the next days. I probably won't be able to help posting pictures of my new neice, if I can, however. =)



For Thanksgiving Day, we had Seth and Ginger, Micah and Amanda, and our Granddad over for dinner. We had a good time. Papa wanted to go back to the Assisted Living a little earlier, and the rest of them went to go watch a movie that afternoon (why do that on Thanksgiving afternoon, I have no idea), but we got to watch Riley while they were gone. We played a new game we just got called Huggermugger. It's really fun. It's a word game and I love words!Here are some pics we got of Riley.

"What is that?"

"Very good, you should try them."

Get ready...

The Completed Jumper

Hi all! I finally finished my jumper with a little bit of help. My aunt, who sews lots of things, did my buttons and buttonholes for me. I can do buttons, but my machine doens't make buttonholes. The dress actually ended up being a size too big, but we'll know next time. :(

Holding the sides to make it appear smaller. :)

My new winter jumper.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Rebekah - From Maidenhood to Motherhood - part 2

Haven't read Rebekah - From Maidenhood to Motherhood - part 1 yet? Read it now!

I've been settling into my role as Isaac's wife, learning to run the household, and oversee the daily tasks of a home. However, something was missing. I was barren; I had no children to hold, love, and take care of. I loved Isaac, and was happy to be his wife, yet I was lonely for little ones to fill the whole in my mother's heart. For nearly 20 years, life went on without children.

Then, Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of me, and the LORD answered his prayer! I became pregnant, yet there was this jostling inside me, which felt quite weird. So, I inquired of the LORD, wondering what was happening. The LORD said to me, "Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger." How exciting! I must be bearing twins - a double blessing from the LORD! However, it sounds as things won't always be peaceful... "The older will serve the younger?" That's not the way things are done...

Rebekah did indeed have twins, twin boys; Esau was the elder, Jacob the younger. The boys grew up, each turning out to be quite different in their own unique way. Esau was a hunter, a man of the open country, while Jacob was quiet, preferring to stay among the tents. Sadly, we learn that Isaac and Rebekah each picked a favorite son. Isaac preferred the skillful hunter, Esau, since he really relished wild game. Rebekah, however, loved Jacob, maybe because he was around more, and there to help her when she needed him.

There was indeed strife among the brothers. Jacob, whose very name figuratively means "he deceives" got the impulsive Esau to sell him the birthright that belonged to the eldest son, for merely a simple bowl of red stew.

There was later a famine in the land, and Isaac took his family to Gerar. There the LORD appeared to him, telling him to stay in Gerar, and promising to bless him and give his descendents much land. When men of Gerar asked Isaac about Rebekah, he became afraid, and lied, saying, "She is my sister." Isaac and Rebekah repeated the mistake of Abraham and Sarah, by lying instead of trusting God for protection. God protecting Rebekah, however, and caused the king of Gerar, Abimelech to learn the truth that Rebekah was really Isaac's wife. Abimelech ordered his subjects not to harm Isaac or his family in any way, and Isaac became very rich and prosperous. Eventually, Isaac was too powerful for Abimelech's taste, and Abimelech asked Isaac to leave.

Esau and Jacob continued to grow, and Esau married Judith and Basemath, two Hittite women. "They were a source of grief to Isaac and Rebekah" (Genesis 26:35), no doubt wishing that their son had married within the family.

Isaac grew old, and his eyesight failed him. Thinking he was near death, he asked Esau to prepare for him his favorite wild game and bring it to him; afterwards, he would give Esau his blessing. Rebekah, however, obviously couldn't resist listening in on Isaac and Esau. She probably remembered the promise God had given her that the older would serve the younger, and wanted to make sure her beloved Jacob would really prosper. Instead of trusting God to work things out in His way, she took things into her own hands, having Jacob prepare a meal, and dressing him up to feel and smell like Esau. Jacob carried out his part well, and they succeeded in getting Isaac to bless Jacob as the eldest son. Scarcely had Jacob left Isaac's tent when Esau came in, bearing the game he had caught and prepared. Outraged, he learned that his brother had stole his blessing, and began to nurse a grudge against Jacob, planning to kill him when his brother was dead. Not wanting Jacob to be harmed, Rebekah sent him away to her brother Laban, wanting him to find a wife from among her own people and have a safe place to stay, far from the angry Esau.

That was the last time Rebekah saw Jacob, for she died before he returned. Learn from Rebekah, and trust God. I don't know how God would have worked things out, had she not deceived Isaac and had him give Jacob the blessing, but it surely would have worked out for a better end then two brothers having to separate because one wanted to kill the other. Trust is such a prevalent theme throughout the Bible. If we simply trusted Him, instead of trying to work out things in our own strength, things would be so much better. Yet, how hard it is for us to trust, for our human nature wants us to think that we can do things by ourselves, without help from anyone. But remember, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." ~ Proverbs 3:5

Read all about Rebekah in Genesis 24:1-28:9

Monday, November 27, 2006

Rebekah - From Maidenhood to Motherhood - part 1

What a day this has been! I can't wait to tell my family all about what has happened! It started out like any other normal day. I did my chores, and went out to the well to draw water for my family, as I always do. However, this time there was a foreign-looking man near the spring. He asked me for a drink of water and I quickly gave him some, for my parents have trained me to always be generous. I also drew water for his camels, for the poor animals looked so tired and thirsty. It took quite a while to draw water for them - all ten of them - and while I did it, the man just stood there, watching.

When I had finished, the man gave me some beautiful jewelry - a gold nose ring and two gold bracelets - to my utter surprise! After all, watering camels really isn't that big of a job! He asked me whose daughter I was, and if there was room for him to spend the night in my father's house. "I am the daughter of Bethuel, the son that Milcah bore to Nahor," I told him, adding, "We have plenty of straw and fodder, as well as room for you to spend the night." My father has trained me to always be hospitable, especially, I would imagine, to such a kind man as he!

The man then bowed down and worshipped the LORD, thanking Him for leading him to the family of his master's relatives. Then I knew for certain that he was a good man. Why, he must be the servant of our relative Abraham! When I discovered this, I ran off to tell my family the wonderful news...

Genesis 24 begins as Abraham is instructing his trustworthy servant on where he is to find a wife for his beloved son Isaac. Concerned that his wife might marry a daughter of the Canaannites, among whom Abraham was living, Abraham made his servant swear that he would get Isaac a wife from his own country, and from among Abraham's own relatives. Realizing, however, that God had given them the land they were now living in, Abraham tells his servant that he was not to bring Isaac to Abraham's homeland if the girl would not come. In that event, the servant would be released from his oath, free to return home.

With these instructions, Abraham's servant set out for Aram Haharaim, arriving in the town of Nahor. Faced with the incredible task of trying to find the right wife for Isaac, the servant decided to leave the selection up to God. Aware that God is active in people's everyday lives, he had his camels kneel down near the well outside the town, during the time the women came out to draw water. Then he began to pray, asking God to show him the right girl. He prayed, "O LORD, God of my master Abraham, give me success today, and show kindness to my master Abraham. See, I am standing beside this spring, and daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water. May it be that when I say to a girl, 'Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,' and she says, 'Drink, and I'll water your camels too' - let her be the one you have chosen for Your servant Isaac. By this I will know that You have shown kindness to my master." (Genesis 24:12-14)

Before he had even finished praying, God began to work. Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel son of Milcah, who was the wife of Abraham's brother Nahor, came out with her jar on her shoulder, on her way to fetch water. We know that she was lovely, for Genesis 24:16 says, "The girl was beautiful, a virgin; no man had ever laid with her." She was a pure maiden, and was keeping herself fully intact for the right one.

After she had filled her jar and was starting home, the servant hurried to her, and asked her for a drink of water. She was very generous, quickly saying, "Drink, my lord," and lowering her jar to give him a drink. We then find that she was even more generous and hardworking, for, "After she had given him a drink, she said, 'I'll draw water for your camels too, until they have finished drinking.'" (Genesis 24:19) She truly had a servants heart. I don't know how much water ten thirsty camels could drink, but it must have been gallons upon gallons! Yet, Rebekah worked cheerfully, drawing water and emptying her jar into the trough, working until all the camels were through drinking, and really going the extra mile. Without saying a word, the man watched her closely, trying to learn whether or not this was the one the LORD had chosen to make his journey successful.

When she was done watering the camels, the man knew for sure that she was the one. He then gave her the beautiful jewelry, asking her whose daughter she was, and whether or not he could stay in her father's home. Rebekah was very hospitable, and quickly offered him a place to stay on behalf of her father. From this we see that she was not only living at home with her father, she was also a true ambassador of her father, having learned well to always be hospitable.

While the man worshipped the LORD for being faithful and bringing him to his master's relatives, Rebekah ran to tell her family all about what had happened. After Rebekah's brother Laban had seen the jewelry and heard what the man had said to Rebekah, he hurried out to welcome the man into their home.

Abraham's servant came and unpacked. Before he ate however, he wanted to make sure he attended to the matter he'd been sent for. He told Bethuel's family all that Abraham had instructed him, what he had prayed for God to do, and what Rebekah had done in answer of his prayers. Finishing his account, he asked them, "Now if you will show kindness and faithfulness to my master, tell me; and if not, tell me, so I may know which way to turn." (Genesis 24:49) "Laban and Bethuel answered, 'This is from the LORD; we can say nothing to you one way or the other. Here is Rebekah; take her and go, and let her become the wife of your master's son, as the LORD has directed." (Genesis 50-51)

Abraham's servant was overjoyed at the news, and bowed down in worship to the LORD. Then he gave gifts to them, in great appreciation of what they had agreed to.

The next morning, the servant wished to leave with Rebekah, wasting not a moment in sharing the good news with his master. Rebekah's family understandably wished to have a few more days with her, but the servant was determined to go. "So they called Rebekah, and asked her, 'Will you go with this man?' 'I will go,' she said." (Genesis 24:58)

So they sent Rebekah on her way, with her nurse and maids, and blessed her by saying, "Our sister, may you increase to thousands upon thousands; May your offspring possess the gates of their enemies." (Genesis 24:60) They truly realized that the fruit of the womb is a reward!

The travelers were almost home when they saw Isaac in the field. Rebekah, after asking and finding out that the man was Isaac, took her veil and covered herself. This is a beautiful picture, suggesting Rebekah's modesty, as she covered herself in her future husband's presence. It's also seems to show her submission to her future husband. Some think that this is where we get the modern use of the bride's veil.

Isaac heard all about what the servant had done, and brought Rebekah into his mother's tent, where he married her. "So she became his wife, and he loved her; and Isaac was comforted after his mother's death." (Genesis 24:67)

The story of Isaac and Rebekah's marriage gives hope to us girls, as we look around and oftentimes see no one who would measure up to be a Godly husband. We often begin to despair, wondering if we will ever get married. However, we should learn from Rebekah. She was in her father's home, cheerfully serving her family, perhaps even unaware that Isaac even existed. Even is she knew of him, she probably never expected Abraham's servant to travel all those miles, and come to her town, look for a wife for Isaac. God beautifully orchestrated the events, and brought Issac and Rebekah together for a loving marriage. Don't give up! Use the time you have now wisely, cultivate a servant's heart, and don't worry. God will work his plans out perfectly!

Stay tuned for Part 2, as we explore Rebekah's life as a mother.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thankfulness ~ by Anna

As I reflect this year, I find that I have an abundance of things to be thankful for. God has blessed me far beyond anything I could ask or imagine!

First and foremost, I am so thankful for my family. In a world of broken families, I am so blessed to have a family that is in-tact. I am thankful for my daddy, his protection, and all the wonderful talks and time together we've had. And yes, I'm thankful for his teasing, for it makes me feel special and loved. I'm thankful for my mother, and all the things she does, and how she supports and helps me with my projects. I'm thankful for my brother Luke, and the example of Godly manhood that he's been to me. I'm thankful for Michele, my wonderful sister-in-law, and for her hard work as a helpmeet to Luke. I'm thankful for Danielle, Alexander, Zacheriah, and Nathaniel, their four sweet children. Any aunt would be proud of them! I'm thankful for Maria and all the fun times I've shared with her, and how she inspires me with her artistry. I'm thankful for Ron, my great brother-in-law, and for all his generosity. I'm thankful for James, Sara, and Lisa Beth (soon-to-be born), their 3 sweet children. I've been so blessed to have so many nephews and nieces, while I'm only 16! I'm thankful for Miriam, the example she's been to me, and the fun things she dreams up for us to do. I'm thankful for Lydia, another wonderful example in a sister, and her amazing musical ability. I'm thankful for Elijah, my close brother, and how he's persevered during the huge workload at college. And finally, I'm thankful for Jubilee, who's not so little any more, and may surpass me soon. I'm thankful for the joy and laughter that she brings, and the patience she teaches me. =) I'm also so thankful for my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. I've been blessed with so many!

I'm so thankful for all of my friends, those around here who I am blessed to spend time with, and those who've I've never met face-to-face, yet have been blessed by reading their blogs and interacting with them in comments. It's amazing how something as little as getting an encouraging comment can brighten my day so much. I'm so thankful that I, who used to have few real friends, now have such an abundance of them. God is good!

I am very thankful for all the students God has blessed me with, to teach them to honor Him with the gift of dance. He gave me many more students than I thought I'd start with - 21 so far, and a few more joining in January. It was been a learning experience, this learning to teach, and has been such a joy. I'm thankful for all those, who I now call "my girls", and look forward to teaching them again about the art of ballet and how we can use it to worship God.

I'm thankful for all that I've learned and am learning this year. I'm thankful that I am homeschooled, and am able to learn in more "unconventional" ways. I'm thankful for all the lessons and books my parents have invested in for me, and hope to use them to bring glory to God. I'm thankful for the gift of music, and for the flute and my voice, and how I am able to learn to train them, and praise God with them. I'm so thankful that I can be at home, and learn many of the homey arts, to one day use to make my own home beautiful. In the meantime, I am so thankful that I can serve my family in many little ways.

I'm thankful for God's creation. I'm thankful for our home, out in the woods, where we can see the beauty of God's handiwork all around us. I'm especially thankful right now for the lovely trees, arrayed in so many brilliant colors.

I'm thankful for the little things of life... spicy pies baking in the oven, homemade bread spread with jelly soon after coming out of the oven, hot showers, a baby's giggle, and a good, long book.

My heart is full and overflowing, yet I haven't even mentioned half of all I could say. I praise and thank God, for He has been so faithful! I'm thankful that He has my future in His hand, and that I don't need to worry, but just to trust Him to bring His plans for me into fruition.

Have a blessed, thankful Thanksgiving!

"Be joyful always; pray continually' give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Thankfulness-By Miriam

Another year has passed around with plenty of things to be thankful for. Another Thanksgiving Day to have family over and celebrate and give thanks to God for all His many blessings. But how many of us give thanks every day of the year? I'm afraid I am part of the guilty party. I have my off days where I feel ungrateful towards everything and every one. Anyone know what I'm talking about? Thank the Lord for an understanding family! But I truly love my family and what God has given me in them is priceless. So here is my list of things that I'm grateful for.

I'm thankful for:
My dad who is always there to lead me in the right direction and direct my footsteps. Thank you Daddy for being there when I need you most.

My mother who will always be there for me when I need to talk or just be with her. Mother, thank you so much for understanding me when I've been unkind or ungrateful. I love you so much!

My oldest brother, Seth, for being the babysitter when Mother and Dad went out on a date. He always thought of the most fun things to do. I remember one time we were all playing around and two of my brothers were being quite rowdy (as boys are), and Seth said, "Micah, Joel, y'all go find something 'destructive' to do!". Instead of saying constructive, he got mixed up in his words. That was so funny! Thank you Seth, for being willing to watch and play with us.

I'm thankful for Seth's wife, Ginger, and their daughter, Riley. It's fun to have an older sister and a niece. Riley is the sweetest!

For Micah, even though we didn't get along most of the time, we did have our fun times together, also. Like letting me drive your rebuilt tractors around. Those were fun. He and I always battled for superiority. He would tell me what to do and I would rebel by saying, "You're not my boss. I don't have to obey you!". I'm sorry for making things hard for you, Micah. If I could go back, I'd love to change things so that I could have a better relationship with you.

I'm thankful for Micah's wife, Amanda, and their soon to come child, Patrick David. Another older sister for which I'm very happy.

For Joel, the brother I'm probably closest to in some ways. We could be best friends or worst enemies on days. We always liked to play make believe when we were younger. I got to play with his swords and guns. I loved to hear about all his ideas and creations that he had (and still do) sprouting in his head. He made and still makes some of the neatest things. His firework shows are loud and fun to watch. May we be able to see many more of them. Thanks for putting up with a tag-along-sister.

For my brother, Caleb. Caleb and I used to go play out in the woods or go play make believe on our good days. I was always so bossy, I don't see how he put up with me, but he did. If we weren't playing something the way I liked it, then I would change it. Thank you Caleb, for enduring a rather domineering older sister. I pray that we will have a better relationship in the future.

My only sister, Esther. For the longest, I always wanted an older sister. Esther was too young to play the things I could, and I wanted someone other than a brother who didn't want me following him around. :) But as Esther has gotten older, we can do a lot more together. We share a bedroom and that has it's advantages and disadvantages. She's a little bit more neater than I am in some ways, and I more than she in others. I was a bit selfish in how I wanted things done and put in "my" room. Now it's "our" room, and we work things out. Esther, thank you for being my sister. You have to be somebody special to have put up with me this many years.

For my baby brother, Andrew, who is not the "baby" anymore. Andrew is a heap of goofiness, seriousness, and cynicism all in one. He can usually always make me laugh. When he was younger, he picked up all kinds of words from his brothers, and would come out with the most hilarious lines and quips. Once, we were at the Lofgrens house, and we older kids were riding around in a little red wagon. Joel and I had already done it and Anna was taking her turn. Well, Andrew comes out of the house, (he was 9 years old, by the way), and said, "Anna Lofgren! You get out of that wagon right now. You are too big for that!." Anna stops riding and gets out. She defended herself by saying, "But Miriam and Joel did it." Andrew replied, "I expect it out of them, but not you." We laugh at that to this day. I could go on with some of the most hilarious stories, but I will stop. Andrew, thank you for being you, and coming by to give me a hug nearly every day. I love you!

For my friends who have helped me to become who I am. Rebekah Olm, Rebekah and Elizabeth Turner, and most dearly, Anna. You girls are the best of friends, and I have been blessed with being to know all of you.

Anna, it has been so much fun sharing a blog with you. You are the heart of the blog with your long posts. I love to read what you write. Thank you for being the best friend that I could have. You have been good for me in so many ways. You have helped to soften me and make more into the girl I am. Thank you for teaching me to sew and guiding me through my first dress. I can now sew many things thanks to you. Thank you for playing the flute with me. It has been so much more fun learning with you. Thank you for teaching me dance. I'm not the most flexible of the students, but I'm learning. :) I love you, Anna.

I'm thankful for the house that we live in and that is still being built. :) I'm thankful that I can sing in a choir, and play in an orchestra and band. I'm thankful for music and that I can play the piano. I'm thankful to be able to learn something everyday.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody! I hope that all of y'all have a blessed day and enjoy your families.

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Importance of Family

Family time is so important in today's society, yet sadly lacking. So many hurts would be helped if everyone had such a loving and supportive family as I'm blessed with, but many don't. If families really pulled together and helped each other as they used to in the olden days, wouldn't things be so much better? I know that they had their troubles back then as well, yet the importance of family seems to have been disregarded way too much these days.

I am so blessed to be a part of a family that really loves and helps each other. I've seen it go slowly from having 7 children at home, to the all-new low of 2. Just 2! But, I still love to see and spend time with my older siblings, when we all get to be together. I've learned so much from them. I've learned from their successes, as well have failures, and have turned out a better person because of it all, I hope! =) Having a big family has been so much fun, and we rarely ever don't get along. Yes, when we were younger we had our squabbles occasionally, but we've always been quite close-knit.

I don't know how I'd manage if I only had a few siblings. Well, for one thing, I wouldn't even be here, since I am the 6th of 7! I am so thankful for all the work my parents have done, and how they have blessed us by being willing to have a big family.

I can't wait until tomorrow, for family will be coming, and the house won't be so dreadfully quiet anymore. It's been quite empty recently, but pretty soon we'll have a houseful for Thanksgiving! Luke, Michele, and their four children are coming from Arkansas late tomorrow, and Lydia and Elijah will be home from college late on Wednesday. Finally I'll have more of my siblings around. Yet, one of us will still be missed, as Maria will be spending Thanksgiving with her in-laws this year. I look forward to helping out at her house soon however, after the birth of her 3rd child.

I look forward to the hustle and bustle of having a big family at home - despite the fact that there'll be little quiet. I look forward to cooking for a crowd. I actually find it so much easier to cook food for a large number of people. I keep cooking way too much for our small family of four, since I'm much more used to cooking for 6-8 at least! I look forward to playing with my niece and nephews, and getting mommy practice. I look forward to all the games we're bound to play, as us Lofgrens always enjoy playing games together. It helps release some of our competitiveness. =) I look forward to just... being together.

So, don't expect much posting from now through Saturday, although I may try to put up a thankful post on Thursday. It depends on how busy I am. I hope that all of you have a blessed Thanksgiving, with family all around.

Related posts:
You're in a big family when....
My Brother, My Friend
My Sisters!
Thank You Mother!
My Dear Daddy

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Miriam's 16th Birthday pictures

I had a wonderful time spending Thursday and Friday night with Jubilee at the Hart's house in celebration of Miriam's 16th birthday! As it usually is when we get together, we took quite a few pictures! Enjoy! =)

Miriam serenaded us on her birthday.

We wore our matching dresses, which I made for Miriam's 15th birthday. Was it really a whole year ago?

Care for some cake? Mrs. Lavonne made a delectable pound cake - Butterscotch Pecan. Yum!

Miriam opens my present to her - a hoop skirt! Every 16 year old girl needs one of those - right? :-)

This morning we modeled our new hoops, wearing the pioneer dresses I'd made for Jubilee and I. Miriam wore mine, and I wore Jubi's, which was a bit shorter, but still fit well!

Miriam looked lovely in the deep maroon color.

Southern Belles, coming down the stairs

We felt a little like mushrooms or cakes, but hoopskirts are fun!

Presentation of The King's Praise Ballet

On Thursday, November 16th, The King's Praise Ballet had it's first presentation! We danced at a nursing home in town, and had a wonderful time ministering to the people and praising God with dance. As well as the dances my girls and I did, many of us shared music as well, on the piano or various instruments. I have ended my first semester of dance classes, due to the busy holidays ahead, but I look forward to teaching again in January. God has blessed me with 21 students - many more than I had anticipated, and I am very thankful! My first teaching experience has been wonderful, praise God, and my girls have done so well! Below are a few pictures. Thanks to Mrs. Lavonne Hart for taking them for me!

My six little girls did the first ballet dance to Holy God, We Praise Thy Name

The second dance was once again done by my little girls, ages 4-6. They did a ribbon dance to Indescribable. I danced on the side, for them to follow along after.

I did a solo to Children of the Living God.

My 15 older girls, ages 7-16 did a ballet dance to Be Thou My Vision.

And as the final song, the older girls did a ribbon dance to I Can Only Imagine.

To God be the glory, great things He has done!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Happy Birthday, Miriam Dear!

Happy Birthday, Miriam Rebekah Hart! I hope that this celebration of your 16th birthday is the your most special birthday ever!

It doesn't seem like that long ago, when we were little. We used to play dolls together, and of course play dress up! =) Or, we'd tramp through the woods with our big brothers, carving out trails and having adventures. Somehow we'd always end up the creek, managing to get thoroughly soaked! Yes, the years have passed quickly, but the times together have just become even better.

I know that it's your wish to be truly Sweet Sixteen. I have no doubt that you'll make one of the sweetest 16 year olds around! You inspire me so much, Miriam dear. Your musical ability leaves me in awe, hoping to play the flute almost as good as you, or sing half as sweetly! Your talent on the piano astounds me and leaves me in raptures! I still have the picture of you in my mind of when I got to choir early last week. You were sitting at the piano playing a beautiful song, dressed in your gorgeous light blue dress your your lovely long hair streaming down your back. For a moment, you didn't know that I was there; then you turned, and stopped your song to greet me with a hug and a smile. You're a beautiful maiden of God, Miriam; don't ever forget that!

Your talents certainly don't stop in the musical department, however! God has gifted you in far more areas than just that. You are a beautiful seamstress, making lovely garments for you and your sister. You are a delightful cook, and I have had the privilege of enjoying many of your delectable dishes! You are quite skilled with your hands, making so many neat things with your crochet hook. You are an avid reader with a great taste in books, and are turning out to be a wonderful writer. Oh - and I musn't forget dance! It is such a joy to have you in my ballet class. Thanks for not being afraid to take lessons from a novice such as myself! God has blessed you in so many ways, and it's such a joy to see you using your talents for Him!

You've blessed me so much, by being my bosom friend and soul mate. I can't begin to recoun thte joys we've shared together. The adventures we've had, the trials we've endured, and the memories we've made are all so special to me. This friendship has been such a wonderful way to "sharpen" each other. (Proverbs 17:17) It's been such a blessing to have you there, to listen to my frustrations, then cheer me up with your kind words. Just having another girl to go throw the stages of life with me has made it so much easier. And, while growing together, I've also been challenged to grow closer to God. Thank you for all you've done - all that I've mentioned, and all the little things, that don't always get noticed, but make life so much more meaningful. Thank you for all the smile, laughter, and yes even giggles that we've shared. :-) Thanks for putting up with all my quirks and idiosyncrasies! God blessed me abundantly when He gave you to me to be a friend. I hope you've been blessed at least half as much as I by our friendship!

Thank you for being willing to stand against the flow. Thank you for striving to be a young lady of God and maiden of worth, even when the culture goes so forcefully in the opposite direction. Thank you for not being afraid to be fearlessly feminine and "old-fashioned." I could go on and on... Above all, thank you for being you!

Thank you for doing this blog with me. It's so much fun to have a friend to work with. Your "short and sweet" posts really do add a lovely dimension to this blog. Two certainly is better than one!

I'm eagerly anticipating the day ahead, as I spend it with you. I hope you enjoy all of the day's surprises! Happy Sweet Sixteenth!

"Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all. Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate." ~Proverbs 31:29-31

I love you forever, my faithful friend!

Yours truly,
Anna Naomi Lofgren

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I'm Still Here!

Hi everyone! Yes, I'm still alive, just keeping out of the blogosphere.

My jumper that I've been sewing is all done but for the buttons.

Anna and her sister, Jubilee, are coming to spend a couple of nights here for my birthday. So, today we've been doing some cleaning and planning.

I'm preparing a Women of the Bible post, but it's going a little slow, so I don't know when I'm going to put it on.

I'll post again soon!


It's been steadily raining for most of last night and today. It's such a soothing, and quite sleepy sound! As it seemed appropriate, I thought I'd post the following poem that I wrote quite a few years ago, probably when I was 12-13 years old.

Raindrops are rolling down the glass,
Each one clear as crystal as they pass.

All of them are round, wet drops,
Each one doing little hops.

There they go; trickling like tears,
All the same throughout the years.

They all drop into a puddle,
While under umbrellas people huddle.

As they patter they sound lyrical.
They are a perfect miracle.

I don't claim to be a great poet, but I do enjoy writing occasional poetry. If you're interested, you can check out the Poetry Park on to read more of my poetry. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

In-depth Cleaning

My fingers are tender, my arms are sore, and I'm gaining a much better appreciation for Proverbs 31:17 - "She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks." Family's coming for Thanksgiving, and while I have the house mostly to myself, I figured that it was a good time to do some in-depth cleaning. Excuse me, while I go back to scrubbing cupboards!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Steps to Successful Sewing Part 1

As you all have probably noticed, Miriam and I enjoy sewing and have posted quite a few pictures of our projects. Because of this, I have received questions from people asking "How do I learn to sew, when I don't know of anyone who can teach me?" or "What tips do you have for beginning sewers?" I don't claim to be an expert seamstress. Although my mom and sister taught me the basics of sewing, I have learned many other things simply by trial and error. I have come to think of my stitch ripper as my best friend! In this series of posts, I hope to answer the questions, and provide tips to start you on your way to successful sewing.

What tools to I need to begin sewing?
  • Obviously, a helpful thing to have is a sewing machine. There are many types of machines, and I am certainly not an expert on the different brands. For my 12th birthday (I think!) my parents got me a Singer sewing machine, and it has worked well. Although it is a big expense, sewing machines are so useful; you can do many different things with them!
  • Scissors - You'll need a large, sharp pair to cut cloth and snip threads.
  • Pins - These are a must for pinning patterns to fabric and holding pieces of the garment together before sewing.
  • Stitch Ripper - Like I said before, this has become my best friend. I have sewed so many things together wrong, and have had to rip the stitches out and redo it. That's one nice thing about sewing - you can take out and redo almost anything!
  • Measuring Tape - This will be used to measure yourself or others to find body measurements to get the right sized pattern, and measure patterns to adjust the length if need be.
  • Chalk - This will be used to mark the symbols on your pattern pieces.
  • Iron - Thanks to Maria Pauline for pointing this out! Without an iron, you really can't due much, for they're used to iron fabric, press seams, and do a lot of other things!
Although there are many other handy tools that often save time, the above are the real essentials needed to get started.

So, you have the essential tools and would like to begin to sew something. What now?

The first thing to do is to find a pattern. If it is your first time to sew anything, I would suggest that you find a simple skirt pattern, and learn to sew using it. Or, if you're up to it, you could start with a simple dress, although it is a bit harder. For beginners, I would suggest that you try to find something that doesn't have a zipper. Elastic-waist skirts or pull-over dresses are fairly easy.

Before you go hunting for a pattern, use your measuring tape to measure yourself. Measure and record your hip, waist, and bust measurements. Bring these measurements along if you go to a store, and compare them with the measurements on the pattern envelope. Pick the size that most corresponds to your measurements.

Walmart and other fabric stores have books of patterns that you can look through. I have also found some good patterns off of Common Sense Patterns. Their Square Neck Dress is pretty simple, and was the pattern I made my second two dresses (matching ones for Miriam and I) with. Oh - and Biblical Womanhood just came out with a simple skirt pattern, which they say is definitely easy enough for a beginner!

Once you find your pattern, the next thing to do is to find material. Search wherever you like, and have fun! I buy most of my fabrics at Walmart, and have been satisfied with the quality and selection. I usually get fabric that is 100% cotton, but feel free to try other kinds of fabric as well. I always enjoy finding fabric for around $2 a yard, but if it's something you know you'll wear for quite a while, don't hesitate to buy the prettiest fabric! Use your own judgment. Once you find your fabric, check the pattern envelope for the yardage amount needed for the size you're making, and ask the person in the fabric department to cut that amount for you. Before leaving the store, however, make sure that you pick up thread that matches your material, and any other "notions" the pattern might call for.

If you're making a dress, you'll definitely also need some interfacing, so make sure to get a yard or two of it. I now get the fusible type, which I have found to be easier to use than the non-fusible. (For those who are wondering, fusible means that it can be ironed on to the cloth, while non-fusible means it can't). Pick whichever kind you prefer, and get some. You can either get the yardage printed on the pattern, or get extra, to have on hand for other projects. If you're unsure as to the type to get, the ladies in the fabric department are usually most helpful.

Good! So you've got your pattern, fabric and thread. Before you cut your fabric, it's a good idea to wash it, and thus make sure that it won't shrink after you've made your garment. I'd suggest that you wash it on the cold setting, to keep the colors vibrant.

While the fabric is washing, you can get your pattern ready. There are three ways of getting the size you need:
  1. Cut the pattern along the line that pertains to your size.
  2. Cut the pattern out along the line for the biggest size, then fold the pattern down to your size. Or,
  3. Trace the pattern on other paper, then cut it out.
If you're planning on using the pattern again for someone else using a different size, I suggest that you do options 2 or 3. Option 1 is by far the easiest, however.

*edit* Another option that I've begun to use is to trace the pattern pieces onto the cloth with chalk. This makes it easy to cut out, and you can easily trace things from a multi-sized pattern by lifting up the pattern piece to right size as you trace it on the cloth with chalk. Just make sure you trace on the wrong side of the fabric!

Once the fabric is washed and dried, it's ready to be cut. First, iron the fabric. Then, consult your pattern as to the layout of the pattern pieces. It will tell you whether or not you need to fold the fabric, and the best way to lay your pattern pieces out. To cut out your pieces, you'll need a big space. I usually simply clear and sweep the tiled floor in my room and lay it out there. A long table or cutting mat works as well. Lay your fabric out, and one at a time, pin the pattern pieces to the fabric in the right order according to the fabric.

Once everything (or at least the first few pieces) are laid out, begin cutting. Make sure that you cut close to the pattern piece, and cut out the symbols. If there is a little arrow on the side of the pattern piece, cut a little clip out away from the pattern piece, then cut back to the piece. This will leave a little triangle protruding from the otherwise smooth edges. These triangles will be useful later in matching the pieces together. Also, mark symbols such as circles with chalk on the wrong side of your pattern piece. Be careful as you cut, for this is one thing you can't un-do!

Once all your pieces are cut out, you'll be ready to begin making your garment. Don't worry if the edges are a little jagged, or not quite straight. It's amazing how well things work out in the end! Cutting out your pieces does take quite a while... To me it's the most time-consuming and tedious work of it all! However, it has to be done.

Have fun! Relax! Enjoy finding a pattern and some pretty material! Above all, remember: sewing is supposed to be fun! If you find yourself getting frustrated at any point, take a break and come back later. It's amazing how easy hard things become after a little time away from it. Don't worry. Experiment, and have a good time!

If you have questions, I'd be happy to answer them. You can either leave comments on this post, or email me through the address found in my profile. If you comment here, you may be able to get responses from many other seamstresses better than I!

Next post: Beginning to sew, and deciphering terminology

Friday, November 03, 2006

Touching Stories

Are you looking for a good story to read? Look no further! If you haven't yet read them, I'd highly suggest that you sit down with a story written by Louisa May Alcott. Even if you've read them before, re-reading is always fun!

Today is a somewhat sleepy, cold afternoon, perfect for curling up with a good book. I haven't had much time to read lately, or should I say, haven't made much time. There's always so many other things to do. But today I gave in to the urge and sat down with a copy of Eight Cousins, a birthday present from Jubilee. Even though I've read it two or three times before, I'm enjoying it immensely!

Eight Cousins and Rose In Bloom, it's sequel aren't the only good books by Louisa May Alcott, however! What girl hasn't read Little Woman and related to at least one of the four sisters? Who hasn't laughed along with the tales in Little Men and Jo's Boys? Under the Lilacs and Jack and Jill are also enjoyable stories, though I haven't read them quite as often as the others. My all-time favorite is An Old-Fashioned Girl, for sometimes I can so relate to the trials of dear Polly! If you have a chance, grab one of these books, curl up in a cozy corner, and read to your hearts content. Or, better yet, sit by a crackling fire - which is what I'd be doing if my dear daddy hadn't been out of town. Us women-folk aren't nearly as good at building fires!

So what about you? Are you an Alcott enthusiast? Which one of her books is your favorite? I'd enjoy hearing responses! I won't read all afternoon, for there are things I really should do; but, excuse me for a while, as I go and again follow the adventures of Rose.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Lot's Wife - Don't Look Back!

What do those two strange men think they are doing? We bring them into our home, and the men of Sodom try to mob them. But, those men struck them with blindness, then tell us that we must leave our home, possessions, and friends and flee, for Sodom's going to be destroyed - or so they say. I admit, Sodom isn't the most desirable town. The people there are perverted, yet I did have some friends. And, my daughters' betrothed are back there. Where will I find husbands for them now?

Wait... What's that sound? The screams - what's going on? I know that the men told us not to look back, but I must know what is happening. One peek really shouldn't hurt...

Not much is said about Lot's wife; we don't even know her name. Yet, an important lesson can be learned from her. We do know that she lived with her husband and daughters in Sodom, which was quite an evil place. Despite the wickedness, Lot apparently learned to tolerate the evil, and was even planning to marry his daughters to men of the city.

God however, was not pleased with Sodom and Gomorrah (another evil place) and decided to destroy them - unless He could find ten righteous people in them (Genesis 18:32). Ten, however, could not be found, and God sent two angels to get Abraham's relative, Lot, and his family out of the city before He judged it. Lot still hesitated after the warning, so the angels grabbed him and his family and led them out of the city (Genesis 19:16). Even then, Lot didn't want to flee to the place they'd been instructed to go. Genesis 19:12 says, "As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, 'Flee for you lives! Don't look back, and don't stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!'" Lot, however, got them to agree to let him go to a small town named Zoar instead.

As soon as Lot made it to Zoar, God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, raining down burning sulfur on the cities. While this was happening, Lot's wife looked back, and became a pillar of salt (Genesis 19:26). What she must have thought was such a trivial thing - looking to see what was happening despite the warning by the angels - had dire consequences.

Jesus used her as an example during one of His predictions about the end days. Luke 17:28-33 says, "It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and reaping. But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. It will be just like this on the day the Son of man is revealed. On that day no one who is on the roof of his house, with his goods inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything. Remember Lot's wife! Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it."

God wants us to follow and obey Him wholeheartedly. He wants us to follow what He tells us to do, and not be concerned about mere possessions, or what we left behind. Luke 9:62 says, "Jesus replied, 'No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the Kingdom of God.'"

Friends, don't look back. Follow after God without holding back. Give Him your best, not your half-hearted second best. "Remember Lot's wife!" (Luke 17:32) and purpose to do all that God tells you to do. No, I don't think that God's turned many people into pillars of salt lately, but obey anyway. You will be blessed, and it will be well worth it in the end, when He says, "Well done, my good and faithful servant."

Read all about Lot's wife in Genesis 19

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Teach Me...

"Teach me Your ways, O Lord, and I will walk in Your truth; give me an undivided heart that I may fear Your Name."
- Psalm 86:11

For some beautiful pictures coupled with Scripture, make sure that you check by Jennifer's Musings over the next weeks. God's handiwork is amazing!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Frontier Day 2006

Frontier was a lot of fun yesterday! It was a pretty small group this year, but still so much fun! We went early for family worship, then stayed all day, eating, playing old-fashioned games, holding little ones, sitting by the huge bonfire, and talking - oh, and taking pictures! See below:

Yes, I got all 3 dresses done in time! On Wednesday evening and Thursday morning I cut all the dresses out. On Friday afternoon, I began work on my dress. Friday evening I had to stop, for I went babysitting! On Saturday morning, I had to drive into town for my PSAT test. On Saturday afternoon, Elijah was home for his fall break! We played games, but I managed to squeeze in some sewing time as well. I worked all Sunday afternoon after church, and had my dress and bonnet done by the evening. I then sewed mom's dress, starting on Monday afternoon, and finishing on Wednesday afternoon. Jubilee's took the least time. I sewed Friday afternoon and evening, and had it done by Saturday noon! It was a lot of fun to do all this sewing, but I believe I've done enough gathering to last a while.

Us old-fashioned maidens. I was so glad that the Harts could come to Frontier Day as well!

Our dresses look different colors in the bright light. I really like how old-timey they look! Oh - and fall has finally come. The leaves are actually turning!

I feel like I could have stepped out of the pages of Little House on the Prairie! Mom called me "Schoolmarm Laura Ingalls", and Jubilee looked just like Caddie Woodlawn.

Beautiful Miriam in her wonderful blue dress!

Yes, we took a lot of pictures (much more than these), but the background was perfect.

Friday, October 27, 2006

A Call to Purity

I am taking a break from sewing, to post this, since I already have it written. I've already completed mom's and my dresses, and am currently working on Jubilee's. Everything should be done by Sunday!

As Miriam already mentioned, a group of mothers and daughters is meeting together every month, studying the book Before You Meet Prince Charming. It has been very enjoyable, and I have already learned so much. It's wonderful to be able to learn from our mothers things they wished they would have known when they were young, and share with each other things on our hearts.

At the end of chapter 2, there is a suggested assignment that some of us girls did for the last meeting. The assignment was:

"A young lady once wrote me a letter saying how hard it was for her because she didn't have anyone to date. This hurting girl was lonely and frustrated, and she kept noticing everyone else with their boyfriends. She was feeling so desperate that she began writing letters to guys she knew, inviting them to events, and trying to get their attention. If this girl asked you for advice, what would you tell her? What suggestions would you give her? Write a sample letter, giving some counsel to this young lady. Be sure you include Scripture in your answer."

This is what I wrote:

October 23rd, 2006
Dear Daughter of the King,

I know that it's hard when you're not noticed. Every girl longs to feel some sort of admiration or approval from young men. When that doesn't happen, oftentimes we find ourselves having doubts. "Am I just not pretty?" "Am I so undesirable that no one will pay me any attention?" are thoughts that begin to crowd our mind. Yet, let me assure you that God loves you, and has made you exactly the way He wants you to be. You are beautiful in His eyes!

Although it's hard, you are actually blessed to not have guys pursuing you while you are young. The years before you get married are precious, not to be spent chasing after guys and wondering who "likes" you, or trying to attract boyfriends. 1 Corinthians 7:34 says: "An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord's affairs: her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world - how she can please her husband." Marriage is a wonderful thing, created and blessed by God. However, in these years before marriage God wants us to be devoted to Him in everything, and to strive to do what He wants us to do, while we're free from the responsibilities that come from being a wife.

I know that out of your deep desire to get attention, you must have started writing these letters! However, I highly urge you to stop doing this! God will bring about His perfect husband for you in His perfect time. In the meantime, "Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD." (Psalm 27:14)

"But why?" you may wonder. "Why can't I have fun being with different young men before I'm tied down to one person? Why can't I date around and test the waters?" God has called us to a high standard of purity. Matthew 5:8 says, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."

"But these feelings are natural!" you may protest. Yes, they are natural, but we must turn them over to God and ask Him to help us remain pure. Song of Songs tells us to "not awaken or arouse love until it so desires" in Song of Songs 2:7, 3:5, and 8:4 - that's three different times! Likewise, 2 Timothy 2:22 says, "Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart."

Think about how your future husband would feel if you gave pieces of your heart away to many different young men. You'd only be left with shattered pieces to present him. Wouldn't you rather have a whole heart to give to him, and "bring him good, not harm, all the days of your life" as it says in Proverbs 31:11?

It's not easy. The life of a young lady devoted to Christ is not easy. We can't do it on our own. As it says in 2 Corinthians 3:5 - "Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God." He will help you! "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express." (Romans 8:26)

Use these days of your youth wisely. "Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity." (1 Timothy 4:12) Fall deeper in love with Christ and grow in a fuller relationship with Him. Love and build up your father, and so receive from him the man's love you so desperately need. Serve your family and so find much fulfillment. Learn how to be a wife and mother, so preparing for the future.

Wait on God. He will be faithful and He will bring you a wonderful husband if it is His plan, in His perfect time. Romans 8:28 says, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose."

God is good! Your wait will all be worth it in the end!

Anna Lofgren
"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful." (Hebrews 11:23)

I would recommend that all maidens read Before You Meet Prince Charming. It is such a wonderful book, calling us to radiant purity.