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. =)

Adieu!

Thanksgiving

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...
Set....
Fall!

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!

Raindrops


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
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 DancerAnna.com 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