Thursday, July 31, 2008

Girly Things Discussion: Makeup

Recently, Bryant left a comment saying, "I was wondering if you girls could do a forum kind of a thing, with a discussion question like views and preferences on makeup, nail-polish,and such. You could each give your thoughts on it, and then open it up for girls to give theirs. Just an idea. :) I'd really like to hear your views on makeup and such."

I (Anna) had been thinking about posting about such things for quite some time, so with her encouragement we decided to do it! Also, the format, as more of a forum discussion, is a little easier to write. So, we'll state a topic, and Miriam and I will each give our opinion of it. In the comment section, we would enjoy hearing your thoughts as well!

Please keep in mind that our answers are not laid-down rules that everyone should follow. They just reflect our thoughts and experiences.

To make things easier and shorter, we will do a series of posts, one for each topic, like makeup, nail polish, hair, jewelery, and whatever else we think of. Let us know if you think of something you'd like to see discussed!


Anna's Thoughts:

Right now, I don't wear makeup if I can help it. :-) It's not because I hate it or think it's awfully bad - it's mainly because I don't want to take the time to put it on each day. For dance recitals and theatrical things where I'll be under bright lights, I do put some on to help my face not get washed out, and sometimes I wear it to dress up and take pictures with friends. Even then, I try not to overdo it. Other than those times, except for a little lip gloss once-in-a-while, I rarely wear makeup. It's just too much of a hassle, in my opinion!

I think girls need to realize that makeup is not what makes them pretty. When I was younger, my parents didn't allow me to wear makeup, so I didn't have to decide whether or not I was going to - I just knew I couldn't! As I grew older and mom told me I could start wearing it if I wanted to, I found that I really didn't want to. Not only did I not want to take the time to put it on each day, I also had seen the experiences of many other girls, and didn't want to find my beauty in powder and paint.

A girl explained to me once how she started wearing makeup all the time: "At first I wore it only on special occasions, then to church every Sunday, and then I couldn't stand seeing myself without it on!" Though I feel pretty and special with makeup on, I want people to see my true self, my real face, even if it's not as beautiful or perfect as the next girl's. It's who I am.

In the TV series "Frontier House" (which I don't necessarily recommend), three families took the challenge of living exactly like people did on the prairie in the 1800s for a time while their experiences were documented. As the women and teenage girls fretted about having to give up makeup for 3 months and appear on TV without it, one of the dad made a good observation (and I roughly quote): "In times past, women covered up there bodies and let their faces show. Nowadays, women cover up their face and expose their bodies." I like the former way much better.

Another plus of not wearing it is that it's healthier for your face not to have something on it all the time. Makeup will sometime clog pores and cause acne to break out. A clean face with the love of Christ shining through your eyes will cause you to look lovely! Inner beauty is of much more importance than outer beauty.

Do I think it's bad to wear makeup? No, but you should examine your motivation. If you can't bear to see yourself without it and think you're only pretty with it on, you should probably step back and reevaluate your priorities. God made each woman beautiful in her own way, and you should be afraid to let your true face shine forth! Does that mean I'll never wear makeup? I don't know what the future holds, but I don't plan on wearing it on a regular basis anytime soon. If you do wear it, always remember that moderation and simplicity is usually better then extravagance!

Miriam's Thoughts

When I was younger, all thoughts of anything girly pretty much didn't enter my mind. I was outside almost all the time and I was pretty much a tomboy. But, the inclination was still there. The desire to dress nicely for occasions and church on Sundays eventually turned into sometimes painting my nails (though I still do that very rarely) and actually wanting to fix my hair nicely (something I didn't care about for the longest). When I turned 14, Mother said that I could start wearing makeup if I wanted to, but I hated the stuff! =) I did start wearing it for concerts, but still protested the mascara, which was a little necessary for my short eyelashes.

Now, I wear makeup occasionally. By makeup, I mean face powder, blush, and sometimes mascara. I usually only wear face powder if my face has broken out, then I use it as a cover up. But I never have liked the idea of wearing a lot of color on my face. It seems so unreal and I have always enjoyed just being me.

Now, would you please share?
  • What are your thoughts on makeup?
  • Do you wear it or do you not?
  • What are your reasons for wearing/not wearing it?

July Reading List

In this and subsequent reading list posts, we will only be reviewing books we've completed. We'll still have a list of what we're currently in, but that way we'll only have to write descriptions of the books once. It will also make these post not as long and easier to read!

Anna's Books

Completed:
  • Authentic Beauty by Leslie Ludy - This was my second read-through of Authentic Beauty, and I really enjoyed it, gleaning new insights and lessons from its pages. This book gives great encouragement to be a truly set-apart young lady. It focuses on knowing your Heavenly Prince more intimately, for to have a healthy relationship, you need to have it built of the foundation of a wonderful relationship with Jesus. Be forewarned: the subject matter deals with things of a mature (and sad!) nature, so I wouldn't recommend it to girls under 14 or 15, and you still would probably want your mom to read it first.
  • From Tyndale to Madison by Michael Farris - After hearing a talk on religious liberty by Michael Farris in which he recommended this book, I looked forward to reading it. The book goes in to great detail about how religious liberty was granted in America, following the story from William Tyndale and his translation of the Bible to James Madison and the writing of the American Bill of Rights. It was very interesting, but also somewhat hard to read - it took me over a month to complete! The content was very informative, and with quotes from many old documents, it definitely takes a lot of time and thought to read.
  • Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris - On this second read through of this book, I took it slow, concentrating on one chapter at a time and writing down quotes and thoughts about the different challenges. It was a wonderful book to study in-depth, and I've gained new insights and greater passion to see my generation do hard things! This has also been a great book to give away - our family has probably given away at least 10 so far! =)
  • Her Hand in Marriage by Douglas Wilson - This somewhat short book is about "Biblical courtship in the modern world." It's a great book for parents to read, as it goes over the authority of parents and how to specifically raise and prepare sons and daughters to be ready for courtship and marriage. I like that it didn't give laid-down rules about what a courtship should look like, but rather gave guiding principles while emphasizing that each courtship will look different, as each couple is different.
Currently Reading:
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  • Valley of Vision compiled by Arthur Bennett
  • His Princess by Sheri Rose Shepherd
  • Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem


Miriam's Books

Completed:

  • A Rose Remembered by Michael Phillips - After reading the first book in The Secret of the Rose series, I eagerly awaited the next book. It was quite worth the wait. Phillips ties in true historical events with a fictional plot. Matthew and Sabina meet each other again some thirty years later. WWII had ended long ago, but the effects are still seen daily. Communist Russia has now taken over and is trying to enforce their government on the people. Sabina is still involved in an underground network that helps Jews, refugees, and others escape to safer countries. An old rival is still after Sabina and her father, who is in prison, and is on her trail throughout the whole book. In the end, Sabina and her father, who Matthew broke out of jail, are trapped behind the wall that divides East and West Berlin with Matthew.
  • Escape To Freedom by Michael Phillips - This book begins with Matthew, Sabina, and Sabina's father (the Baron) are making plans for getting over the wall into West Germany. Slowly, a few other refugees join their group to attain freedom. Their first attempt fails as they are found out by Matthew's rival, Gustav Schmundt, who blocks the escape and almost catches them. Finally, after many twists and turns, they escape over the wall and are reunited with dear friends and family. I have really enjoyed reading these books and can't wait to start the last in the series.
  • The Lost Book Series by Ted Dekker - I didn't like these books as well as I have others by this author. Written for a young adult reader, the plot was interesting, but sometimes barely understandable. With characters making the same mistakes over and over, I sometimes wondered what was supposed to be learned. Overall, I didn't like them, but somebody else might. Part of it might be that this series ties into two other series that Dekker has written and I haven't read.

Currently Reading:

  • Dawn of Liberty by Michael Phillips
  • Martin Chuzzlewit by Charles Dickens
  • In Christ Alone by Sinclair Ferguson

Monday, July 28, 2008

So Sweet!

The Daily Disciplines: Computer Time

In this age of so much information available at our fingertips, it can be so easy to spend much more time then necessary on the computer. However, we must be disciplined in this area, because you don't to spend so much time on the computer that you don't have time to truly live real life.

The internet is where it is the easiest to waste time. Though non-internet things take time, usually it is time spent on things that need to be done, such as editing videos, sorting pictures, writing documents, or studying for tests. However, online, one can do a million things at once, and it's all too easy to surf the web as the time flies by, wondering how the minutes could go by so quickly. Although I certainly don't have all the answers as to how to be more disciplined on the computer, I'll share some tips.

The one non-internet computer thing that takes discipline is that of computer games. I am very grateful for parents who limited our time playing computer games. Growing up, we could have only 30 minutes each day playing games, or on very special occasions, perhaps 45 minutes playing on it with someone else (but only rarely!). This helped so much in us not getting addicted to computer games (or video games, since they didn't allow them in our house). Though we didn't always like having a time limit, it was good for us to know exactly how much time we could spend, and that we had to get off after that. Looking back, I see the great wisdom in that. Now-a-days, I very very rarely play games on the computer. Once in a very long while I'll play Tetris with my sister, but I've found that there's so much other things to do then spend time playing Solitare or other such games on the computer.

The first would be choosing a good web browser. Having a computer-geek brother has been wonderfully nice, and he downloaded the Firefox web browser for me, which has worked really well. It loads web pages well, and I like all the tools and extensions it has. Tabbed browsing, scrolling between tabs, and more, it's worked great! However, having had not much experience with Internet Explorer, there could be things I'm missing as well. =)

You also want to have a good email provider. I've used Gmail for quite some time now, and it has been really nice. You can easily label and archive email, which helps keep your inbox less cluttered. If I receive email from a certain person frequently, they have their own label and archive. If it's a group or e-zine I subscribe to, I also label and archive those. That way, I can easily find the emails I need by clicking on the right label. Now, you can also color-code labels, which makes it fun!

While email can be a great way to keep in contact with people, it can also be time-consuming. I try to not do many forwards, though survey emails can be fun sometimes. I try to not subscribe to too many e-newsletters or special deals from websites - I only want to get ones that I'll actually use.

Another thing I try to stay away from is too much chatting. Instant messaging can be fun, but it can also eat up time quite quickly. Also, by trying to keep a conversation going and read/browse or write other things, the time quality spent on both will go down. I only sign in to chat periodically, when I know that I have time to talk to others, or I want to ask someone a quick question. I have enjoyed talking to friends and family using it, but have also observed that chatting tends to be more of a superficial and mindless type of conversation, so I try to write emails or letters more to stay in touch.

As you all probably know, there are so many good and interesting blogs out there that one could read! Knowing which ones to spend your time on can be challenging when there are so many out there! I've had to remind myself time and again that, much as I'd liked to, I can't read all the ones I know of. Periodically, I try go through and decide which ones I truly benefit from reading, and which ones I should just stop reading to free up some of my busy schedule. Blogs can be a wonderful way to keep in touch with friends and family, read about other people's lives, or be encouraged and inspired. The blogs you read will be different from the next person's list, but the important thing is that you not be overloaded.

After much resistance on my part, Elijah finally convinced me to subscribe to blogs via Google. By clicking on a blog's RSS feed and clicking "subscribe via Google", You can decide to have the blogs show up on your personalized Google homepage or be sent to your Google Reader. I have mostly used Google homepage, which allows me to see at a glance which blogs have updated recently. The tabs in the homepage have also wonderfully allowed me to keep track of different blogs. On my homepage, I have blogs listed that update frequently and I'd like to read every day, or blogs of family and close friends that I want to read as soon as they update. Right now there are 12 blogs on there, but they don't all update at the same time, so it's doesn't take that much time to keep track of them. I also have 3 other tabs, named M-T, T-F, and W-S. Each of the tabs has around 9 blogs listed in each of them, and I try to discipline myself by only clicking on the tab that corresponds to the day. That way, I can keep track of many different blogs, and by only reading them twice a week, it doesn't take up all my time checking them every single day to see if they've updated.

I've had to lay aside the drive to always read the latest post, knowing that it will still be there for me to read, even if it's a few days after it was written. I've also had to release myself from trying to keep up with all the comments. If it's a blog or post I really like and want to read the comments on, I can easily click on the post later and see if anyone else had added anything. However, not going to the blog's homepage every time keeps me from spending too much time reading all the comments. Also, I don't have time to comment on every post, though it would be nice to! I try to only comment if I have something worthwhile to add, or encouragement to give.

Of course, then there's the time that is spent on updating and doing things for my own blog. I do keep up with and read all the comments made on Maidens of Worth, as well as email and various things sent to us from various readers. There's not always time to respond to each individual person as I would like to, but I try to keep up with things as much as I can. I try to post on a regular basis, and though writing posts takes quite a while sometimes, I like to see it as a ministry of encouragement to others. It's also very encouraging to hear what others think! Also, I do try to keep up with who reads our blog, periodically clicking on the blogs of those who comment, especially if they're new. Thank you to all of you who take the time to comment!

Website forums can also take up a lot of time, as there is so much to read and respond to. I've been on quite a few forums in past years, but currently I only visit one on a regular basis: the Rebelution forums. I can't read everything there, and I rarely have time to post, but it is an encouragement to see the interactions of other rebelutionaries. I really appreciate the high standards they hold to, making each topic easy to read by requiring good grammar and spelling and making each topic thought-provoking by making sure that only good and worthwhile content is posted.

Then there's a wide variety of other websites one could be a part of. The only social networking site I'm a part of is Facebook, which I joined so that I could see pictures friend's uploaded. I don't really do much on it, for I don't want to spend all my time on it! I don't add many applications, play many games, or take many tests, though once-in-a-while it can be fun. Mainly, I enjoy using it to keep up with the lives of family and friends. I try not to check it too often, and don't update my status every hour - I'll often go a few days between changing anything or even logging on. Though there's so much to do and read, I try to keep it to the minimal.

Now, it may sound as though I have everything under control... but I don't. Far too often I give in to the tempation to do some mindless browsing, hopping from blog to blog, or spending time reading many things while procrastinating doing more worthwhile things. It's something I have to constantly and diligently guard against.

I also have to sometimes allow myself to be on the computer without guilt. I tend to think of all time spent online as somehow not that worthwhile, but I have to remind myself that it can be very useful and encouraging to others. There is so much information at your fingertips, but there are also so many lives that you can touch through the computer. It can be a worthwhile tool, or a worthless tool, depending on how you use it.

As with almost everything else, it seems that balance is the key. You have to decide what is worthwhile for you (which may or may not be what is worthwhile for others) and try to stick to doing that. Google searches can be great, and there's many great news stories online, but I try to only search for something I really need to know or need to buy, and right now, I only tend to read news stories that others link to if it sounds interesting. There is so much information in the world today, that you just need to figure out what is worthwhile to you.

Though hard, it all comes down to disciplining yourself to only spend the right amount of time online. Simplify as much as you can, and work on discipline. Accountability can help a lot, as can blocking pages (though I haven't tried that yet). Sometimes, doing things right away can make things more simple instead of putting them off - it also helps one not forget! However, sometimes you have to plan to just do certain things at certain times in order to not be overloaded.

Do you have any advice on how to be disciplined in time on the computer? Please share!

Also, answer the below questions if you'd like to:
  • How much time do you usually spend on the computer per day?
  • How many blogs do you read on a regular basis?
  • What is one thing you can do to make your computer time more disciplined?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Cleaning Through Memory Lane

Today I spent almost the entire day cleaning and organizing my room. I know, I know, I posted about about keeping your room clean on Monday and only now actually finished cleaning mine? Yes, well, life happens. Though I thought this week was going to be less busy, Monday saw me recovering from the musical, Tuesday, sewing with Natalie, Wednesday, shopping with Mom and getting my first doctor check-up in 13 years, Thursday, taking a piano lesson, playing games with Jubilee and her friend and babysitting, and Friday, spending some girl time with my sister and her friend watching Pride and Prejudice, then playing games with them again.

Thursday afternoon left me a little time for sorting, but Friday afternoon and evening gave me the real opportunity to begin tackling the mess of my room. I hadn't been as diligent straightening up each day, for I'd been putting things off until I could really go through, get rid of, or find a place for everything. Today, between eating meals and playing games with Jubilee (we do it at the same time if we have the chance, in order to make the most of the time!) I sorted and cleaned basically all day. There were pleasant breaks to check online, talk on the phone with my dearly missed brother, and make strawberry milkshakes for supper (yum!) but most of th day was spent organizing.

There's something wonderful about going through things and putting everything in order. There were also pleasant trips down memory lane as I organized my childhood memorabilia. Most of the special childhoods toys or trinkets were once again tucked away in my hope chest to save for my own children, but there were other things that I didn't really need that are bagged and waiting to give away to others. I relived memories and noteworthy moments as I flipped through the journals I've kept since age 6 or looked through letters or notes I'd received from friends.

I've also gotten joy out of throwing or giving things away! Though there are a few sentimental treasures that have no real use but I keep anyway, most things that I don't use are gotten out of my room. I filled the trash with papers that were unneeded, bagged up clothes I'd worn out or just never worn much, and made a pile of things for my mom to look through. It's wonderfully freeing to get things out of my room!

The above picture is of my closet's upper shelf, organized with things in plastic containers. Isn't it amazing how much one can fit in so little room when you stack things in good containers? Last year my sister and I bought these from Walmart, and it's allowed me to store so much easily in little space. Two hold bed linens, one notebooks and papers I'd like to keep, one notebooks, papers, and mementos from teaching ballet and directing musicals, one with things I've gotten on sale to give as gifts, and one holding materials to use for drama. Then there's the three-drawer container with my scrapbooking supplies, and on top of it, a scrapbooking paper and sticker organizer (which you can't see in the picture).

Not only do I have these plastic containers in the closet, but I have more in my sewing cabinet, one to organize embroidery stuff, one to organize knitting/crochet materials, and others to hold cloth. I've got a bigger plastic container of cloth to slide under the bed, and another big plastic container in the bottom of my closet holding dance costumes and a hoop skirt. Containers are definitely the way to go if you need to organize stuff! The only thing that isn't organized are my patterns... I'm trying to find a good way to keep them. Any suggestions?

Of course, a lot of my things won't stay where I've put them for now. In 3 weeks, I'll be moving a lot of my things into a college dorm room, and trying to figure out how to arrange everything there. But by organizing everything now, I know where things are and will easily be able to pack up what I need. Plus, by going through what I have, I know what I need to bring and what I need to buy.

Having a clean and organized room is a wonderful feeling!

Friday, July 25, 2008

I'm Back From Music Camp

Music camp was wonderful! Though it is nice to be home, it was hard to leave all the new friends who it felt like I had just begun to really know. Two weeks seems like a long time until it begins and passes so quickly.

We left home on Sunday the 6th and arrived at our friends house around 4:30 p.m. It was wonderful to meet this family that we had not seen in about 6 years. After quickly reacquainting ourselves, we spent an enjoyable evening, talking and playing games. We stayed up until midnight, at which time everyone finally said goodnight. Monday morning found everyone slowly waking up (staying up late sometimes requires extra sleep). We started for PCC at 11:30 am, after first taking pictures of us kids.
We have all grown and gotten older (obviously) and for me it was a little different, for I remember when the oldest three and my older siblings were much younger and to see them now so much more mature (especially the boys), it was very neat.
I remember the two oldest boys, David and Matthew, teaming up with Micah and Joel and...well, acting like boys. Anyway, we didn't have near enough time to spend with them and I hope we can get together again soon.

Back: Caleb, Miriam, and David
Middle: Andrew, Esther, Elizabeth, and Matthew
Front: Anna and Josh


We entered Pensacola, FL at noon and went to eat lunch. Then we went to the college and checked in for camp. After that, it was all a rush to get our things put into the dorms and hurry to the CA (Communicative Arts Bldg.) for placement auditions. At the CA, we said goodbye to Daddy and Mother for two weeks (for me, this was a little weird as I've never spent more than three nights away from my family). We were soon too busy to even think about homesickness.
I warmed up my flute for a bit, then went a took a placement theory test. After my short audition, Esther and I walked back over to the dorms to unpack. Our roommates, Jae and Gini, were there and we soon got to know each other. Soon after unpacking and making up our beds, we were all called together to walk to the dining hall for supper. Next was evening devotion, then our first group rehearsals. For Esther, Caleb and I, this meant orchestra. For piano students, like Jae and Gini, this meant choir. After this was our Music Mania kickoff, during which the camp students were divided into four teams and we had to choose a name for our team that had something to do with music.

These were the four different team names chosen: The Fantastic Fortes, The Coca Codas, The Sustenuto Bemos, and my own team, The Flat Tires (please don't laugh!). As a result of our rather negative name, we ended up not winning any of the team activities. =) Part of team activities was coming up with a team cheer, composing a chorus with an original melody and words chosen from Psalm 100, making a team poster and doing community music. For community music, each team was given the hymn and we had to use all our instruments and everybody on the team to put music to it. We had to have at least two on each instrument. It was fun, but not my favorite part of camp.
As part of the theory placement test, there were two different groups for two different levels. Esther was put into Group A and Caleb and I were in Group B. In our first group rehearsal, I found out I got first chair in the orchestra. Yay! There were only four flutes at camp, so it was easier to get to know them.

On Thursday morning we were all herded together for the group picture.

The weekend was nice and pretty relaxed after our very busy week. Friday night, the girls dorms had a scavenger hunt, in which of all the girls there, at least one was bound to have what was on the list. It was fun, until I scraped my toe on something while running back to my room and after that I had to stop because it wouldn't stop bleeding. After the game was over, one of our counselors, Deanna, came back and helped put peroxide on it and bind band-aids tightly over it while Jae elevated my leg. Wonderful people. It was okay after that, except for the fact that I had to wear closed-toe shoes Sunday morning. Ouch!
On Sunday we went to the campus church for the morning and evening service. I was almost sorry for the brief break because it was so hard to start back on the routine the next Monday.

My private teacher was great. She was from Bulgaria and had the neatest accent. I learned quite a bit from her, especially my interesting breathing exercises (I go around the house hissing like a snake and the family is about ready to kick me out). =)


Oh, how could I forget! I can't imagine camp without the Brazilians! Mr. Barbosa, our orchestra director, came from Brazil and brought 12 or 13 of his students with him, as well as his wife and children. His wife was his translator as he only knew a little English. The students were great! Two of them spoke English pretty well and the rest knew a little. Many special and funny memories were made because they were there.

14 year old Andre was so funny! He pretended to like one of our counselors, Atoya, and during lunch he would take his knife and carve his cookie into a heart, then placing it on a napkin, he would take it over to Atoya and present it to her on his knee. She played along with him and would clasp her hands and say "Oh, thank you! It's so cute!". They were funny to watch. On chalkboards, you would find a heart with Atoya's name inside. Once, right before a music recital, Atoya went to the front to pray before starting and right before she began, Andre stood in the back and said "I love you!". While she looked for the culprit, the rest of us were laughing hard.

The other joker (aka. flirt, cheat at cards, etc.) was Marcelo. Playing a game of UNO with Marcelo was quite interesting. Marcelo was part of The Phone Call, which is too long to go into, but believe me, it was hilarious!

After two weeks of hard work and practice, I performed my flute piece Friday morning for one of the repertoires. I was quite thankful when it went well.

Friday night was the Gala Concert which was the Music Academy camp and Speech/Drama Camp combined. Speech/Drama camp had also been there for two weeks working hard. Friday afternoon was full of dress rehearsal and practicing getting everything set up behind the curtains in time while being quiet at the same time. Finally, all that the orchestra had worked on was ready to be performed. Mr. Barbosa was the best director I have ever met. He is just so alive and full of love for music and it shows in every sweep of his hand with the baton and in every feature of his face.




After all the rehearsing, we had 30 minutes to eat supper and 20 minutes to get dressed for the concert. Being girls, we wanted a little bit more than 20 minutes to get ready for a concert, so we ate extremely fast and ran to the dorms. Mother and Dad had come earlier, and Mother had put our dresses in our room. My dress had been made only two weeks earlier right before we left, but alas! it had some problems, so I had to leave it and left Mom fix it. The improvements were wonderful and I really enjoyed wearing my new black dress. Then it was back to the orchestra room to talk to Mr. Barbosa and then wait for our call to go get our part of the stage ready. There were some tears as this was the last day of camp and some of us were leaving that night (our family included). Though I missed home, I didn't want to leave so soon. Being immersed in musical activities every day was amazing and many good friends were made, as well.
Then...it was time. We hurried to the back of the stage and as soon as we heard the choir sing their last song, their curtain came down and the one behind them came up and the boys rolled away the stands and started setting our chairs. Thankfully, it was all done quickly and quietly and we all sat in our chairs waiting for the Reader's Theatre to finish.

As the curtain rose, the lights were turned completely off and we sat in darkness while the all you could hear was the low, vibrating hum of our five bass violins beginning our first piece, Also Sprach Zarathustra. Upon reaching the first climax, the lights came on. It was really neat.
Our other pieces were really good, too. My personal favorite was Hoe-Down from Rodeo. Mr. Barbosa asked Caleb to stand for his one big part and loving how neat that looked, he asked the trumpets to stand, as well. It was lots of fun.


The concert went well without problems or messups. A truly wonderful ending for camp. All the hard work was definitely worth it in the end!

Then it was over. I cleaned and put my flute up and started saying goodbye to all my new friends. After many hugs and "Hope to see you next year!", I walked to the dorm and after changing my clothes, packed the rest of my things up and took them down to the car, Esther doing the same. Caleb's stuff was already picked up and we practically threw our stuff in the van and started for our uncle's house, where we would stay the night before heading home. We chatted for awhile, but I was tired and soon went to bed.

Many of the students had purchased camp t-shirts for everyone to sign, but instead of that, I pulled out a notebook I brought but didn't use, and asked everyone I could to sign or write something in it. All the notes I have in that notebook are wonderful momentos of camp memories. More can be written in a book than on a shirt and I prefered the more personal notes, anyway. I certainly hope that I will be able to return next year for my last year.

I feel like I haven't done justice to the two weeks, but I also know that this has got to be the longest post I have ever written (oh dear, my fingers are trembling with the effort I have put into it). =)

Hm, I wonder if I should post my team cheer. It's rather funny. Maybe later...

Quotes on Inner Beauty

In my notebook on Biblical Womanhood I am collecting quotes, and I thought I'd share with you two that I've written down on inner beauty. (Emphasis is mine.)

"True refinement is not mere outside polish. It goes deeper and penetrates to the very foundation of character. It is purity, gentleness, and grace in the heart, which, like the perfume of flowers, breathes out and bathes all the life in sweetness... that which really refines is purity of mind and heart." ~ from Homemaking by J.R. Miller, pages 166-167

"True Beauty is so much more than the noble decision to wait for a future spouse. True beauty is complete set-apartness for our Heavenly Prince. True purity comes only when we fall into the loving arms of our Jesus Christ, surrender ourselves fully to Him and allow Him to tenderly shape us into His lily-white likeness." ~ from Authentic Beauty by Leslie Ludy, page 47

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Fat Fat Jehoshaphat - Another Production Completed

After 4 weeks of rehearsals, Fat Fat Jehoshaphat was presented last Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 4 p.m. Everyone did really well, praise God! Each day there were one or two very slight stumbles on lines, but they were such that if you didn't know the play, you wouldn't have even noticed.

The cast and crew were really wonderful, and so generous. On Friday night, one of the families presented me with a bouquet of white roses - my absolute favorite flower! On Saturday, they presented me with a huge card signed by most of them, and with a gift card to Walmart inside! On Saturday at the end, I made presentations of my own, giving each girl or woman involved a rose, and each character a special gift that corresponded to who they played, to help them remember the musical. They've truly been a wonderful group to work with.

There still work to do, even though the musical itself is over. As I type, I'm also capturing the footage off of the video camera, so that I can make a copy of the DVD for each family that was involved. There's also thank-you notes to write, then everything to mail or give to each family.

Everyone worked so hard on this musical, and each of the rehearsals were so much fun! There was a smaller amount of families that signed up then I originally planned for, but it ended up being the perfect number to work with. The 7 families that worked on it together had a wonderful time and grew to be quite closely-knit. What made it even more fun was that everyone in the family was involved, from the children ages 5-17 in the musical, to the dads that played parts or helped with lights and sound, to the mothers and young children who filled in for the parts of the townspeople of Judah, to everyone that helped behind the scenes, to my mother, who was a sounding board for each of the ideas I had. Each family also helped find and make props, or find or make different items needed for their costumes.

If anyone is looking for a fun children's musical to direct, I would heartily suggest Fat Fat Jehoshaphat. I grew up listening to it on a tape, thinking it was just a story. When I realized it was a musical, I knew it would be a fun one to do... someday. Kathie Hill wrote it so many years ago however, that her website no longer sells it. After the Ruth musical last year, Elijah helped convince me to order the books and accompaniment for the musical, for we'd actually found it for sale on a different website. It stays true to the Biblical story, while adding very funny parts that make it fun to practice and present. Though originally geared to children around 8-12, we had people of all ages, and they all enjoyed it immensly! The audience of all ages absolutely loved it as well!

The story was about the Biblical King Jehoshaphat. Kathie Hill had a wonderful idea to make the king be Fat Jehoshaphat. Every time he'd come in, the children would sing "He's fat fat Jehoshaphat, what a good good king is he!". To make it even more funny, however, after the fast where everyone sought God and prayed for many days without food, Jehoshaphat turned flat from loosing so much weight!! Okay, so it's not really logical that anyone would loose that much weight in 9 days, but it sure added a funny dimension!

The narrator-figure was the historian Josephus. He read and talked as he wrote the story of Jehoshaphat. Again, the humor in his lines is great! Mr. Rob, who played Josephus, was a big help to me, as he was also assistant director. His tips and suggestions were invaluable, and he was a huge blessing as he drilled the boys into being disciplined! =)

Throughout the musical are songs and lines that teach the power of prayer. The songs are very catchy, but that's okay, because they have messages that you want running through your mind at all hours of the day. From "First You Pray" to "Simple Words" to "Don't Be Afraid" to "Problems Aren't Problems When You Pray", the songs teach important lessons about how you want to pray in all circumstances and that God will indeed answer. One of my favorite lines is when King Jehoshaphat interrupts the Levites from their high-faluting prayer, intended to impress him with the big words. He says: "I may be impressed, but God certainly isn't impressed. God doesn't want us to pray with our minds, but from our hearts. He doesn't care how smart you are, just how sincere you are." The children learned quickly by listening to the practice CD, and I know they've learned a lot, even just by subconsciously listening to and singing the songs.

We prayed that this musical would be done for God's glory, and from the feedback we've gotten, it did indeed bless many people. It's wonderful and humbling how something we worked on can reach others in their point of need and remind them of God's faithfulness.

This was my 4th and last musical to present as a pre-college teen, and it was perfect to end with. Though I will miss everyone so much when I go to college, I have the hope that I'll be able to continue directing musicals in the summers, and, if the Lord wills, even more after I graduate.

The pictures included are just a fraction of those that I would have liked to share! If you'd like to see more pictures, click here to see pictures from the rehearsals and dress rehearsals, telling a little more about the musical and including quotes from it, and here to see cast pictures. Each of the characters were so well played!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Sewing with Natalie

The past 4 Tuesdays have been pleasantly spent sewing with Natalie. The first Tuesday, I picked her and two of her sisters up and we went on a fun shopping trip to one of the only Walmarts in our area still selling cloth. The mission? Find cloth, zippers, thread, and trim to make dresses for them and their little sister. We were delighted to find many different colors of one pattern of cloth, and they each picked out their favorite color. We found cute lace that matched them all, and decided on white ribbon for the sashes.

Natalie is a 12-year-old girl that I've known for quite some time. This past year, she's asked me to teach her to sew many times, and this summer I decided to make it a priority. I arranged to pick her up from her morning swim practice each Tuesday and bring her with me to musical rehearsals in the evening, as she and her family were involved in them.

Natalie has proved to be a wonderful student in sewing! She had learned some sewing previously with someone else, so she already knew the basics and how to use the machine. However, she needed some help figuring out patterns and how to do some of the more complex things. I would show her what to do, then as she worked, would have time to sew things I was working on.

The first two weeks were spent finishing up projects she already had. On those days, she finished two pairs of pajama tops and bottoms, and I sewed quite a few costumes for the musical (pictures from it to come tomorrow!). It was nice to have the time set aside to make those, while all the while teaching someone else to sew. It was very enjoyable to work with Natalie, and share funny stories and discuss different things as we sewed.

Last Tuesday we began the dresses, cutting them out in the morning, and starting work on it. This was the first dress Natalie had made, but she did very well on each new step. She worked on her dress, and I sewed her sisters' dresses, finishing one last Tuesday, one yesterday, and one today!

Aren't they lovely? All the pretty colors go so well together! Since we had so many fabric scraps, and I had a little extra time while Natalie finished up her dress, I quickly made up bows for each girl to wear in their hair.

The pattern was Simplicity pattern #9497 - a great and versatile pattern for any girl's dress! The above picture is of a dress I made for my niece Danielle for her birthday in May, using the same pattern. The pattern is also the one I used for the flower girl dresses I made. It's fun to find all the pretty ways to use it!

The 4 sisters looked so sweet in their matching dresses! I like how they match, but they're not identical, for each girl has her own special color. It was fun to see how the same lace was brought out in different ways by each color.

A view from the back. I like the look of bows in hair! =)

Natalie, who is 12, chose the fun, bright pink fabric! She did a good job on her first dress!

Katherine, who is almost 10, chose the lovely and cool light blue.

Abigail, who is almost 9, chose the fun and vibrant purple!

Since Gabriella, age 3, wasn't with us when we went shopping, her sisters chose the light pink for her. She really liked it, and it looks so cute on her!

Sewing these dresses has been a lot of fun! I got the idea while in church one day, looking down from the balcony to see these girls standing with their parents and two brothers all in a row as we sang. As I saw them all together, I wondered to myself whether or not they'd ever had matching dresses made for them, and thought how much fun it would be to do it. Since Natalie already wanted to learn to sew better, I arranged to make the dresses and teach her at the same time.

These girls have been such a joy in my life, and I feel blessed to count them as my friends, though they are younger then I. We've been in churches together, camped together, and played games together. I've babysat them, taught them ballet, and directed 4 musicals involving them. I'm glad I had the opportunity to sew for them before I leave!

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Daily Disciplines: Keeping a Clean Bedroom

This week's daily discipline is that of keeping your room clean. Maybe you're already an expert at this, or maybe you sighed loudly when you read the title! In any case, keeping your own bedroom clean is an important daily discipline, for it's good training for when you have a house of your own. After all, if you can't keep one room clean now, how do you expect to keep a whole house clean?

As always, let me assure you that I do not have a perfectly-kept room! I try to keep it clean and tidy, but it doesn't always stay that way. Usually, it's messy when I have a busy week and neglect to take the time to straighten it each day. These past few weeks have been hard, as I've had extra stuff for the musical in my room to sort and sew. With it over, however, I'm determined to once again work to keep a tidy room!

When I do take the time to straighten up each day, I find that the atmosphere is so much more cheerful and inviting! It's a lot easier to find things, and takes less time overall when I don't have to search for things I need. I try to follow the old adage, "a place for everything and everything in its place."

If you haven't kept up with the clutter, it will take some work to get your room to a place of being easily straightened each day. You'll want to spend some time and go through and organize everything, if possible. In fact, that's what I'll be doing this week, as I sort through things to figure out what I can get rid of and what I need to buy for college. When you know what you have, it's much easier to find a place for everything, and when everything has a place, it's much easier to quickly put things away.

When organizing, it helps to turn on something to listen to as you work - uplifting worship music, soothing classical music, or a thought-provoking message will help you work hard and cheerfully. Either spend an entire day devoted to organizing, or do things in little bits. Pick an area and work on sorting everything, having a trash can handy for things that need to be thrown away, and having piles for things to give away, put away in another part of the house, or put away in another part of the room. Once finished in one area, move on to another, and once done sorting and organizing, make sure you deal with the piles you've made and take out the trash. There are many and various ways to organize, which would take too long to go over. One big thing that has helped me (thanks to my sister Miriam's suggestion!) is to use plastic containers with covers to store and stack things under the bed or in the closet. It's amazing how much you can keep in a small area when you keep things in containers!

Once your room is in order, spend some time each day to make sure that it stays that way! A little work done each day (often in less then 5 minutes) will go a long way to ensure a well-kept room. Try to include straightening up in your morning or evening routine. Some people find that straightening their room before bed works well for them, while I prefer to do it in the morning as I start the day. Whenever you do it, work to quickly put things in their place, making your bed, and putting away clothes and shoes, and anything else that may have gotten left out.

Of course, if you put things away as soon as you take them out, it will be a lot easier to straighten up! I have a bad tendency to put clothes on my hope chest when I take them off instead of in the closet or clothes hamper. However, I'm trying to change that! Try to hang up, fold or put clothes in the laundry as soon as you take them off. When you get out of bed in the morning, try to immediately make the bed. When you come in after being gone, try to put things away instead of just dropping them in your room. Have a place to put your shoes as soon as you take them off and a place to hang your purse. Try to put things that you bring home away as soon as possible, and you won't have to spend precious time hunting for them when you need them!

Even when you straighten every day, however, dirt still accumulates. Try to have one day a week where you not only straighten your room, but also shake rugs, sweep, dust, and do whatever else needs doing (such as changing sheets or washing windows). This will do a lot to make your room clean and inviting!

If you share a bedroom, I know what it's like! I shared with one or more siblings until I was 14. It can be hard when you can't control the other person's stuff and they won't always clean up like you'd like them to, especially if they're younger. Try to work something out with them, however, working together or separately (whatever works best for you) to keep the room clean. Even if they don't clean up their part, still keep your things nice and tidy, and it's likely that they'll follow suit.

If you get off schedule, don't despair! It may take a little longer to straighten things up, but try to do it as soon as possible, then continue straightening a little each day. I've found that the longer I put things off, the longer it takes to clean it up. Deal with the clutter as quickly as possible, and you may notice a wonderful change in your attitude for the better!

Questions for discussion (feel free to answer all, any, or none!):
  • Do you struggle with keeping your bedroom clean, or is it easy for you?
  • What do you try to do to keep your room tidy?
  • Is your room right at this moment messy or nice and straightened?
  • Does it need to be organized? If so, consider spending time this week to sort and organize. I'll be doing it to my room, and it'd be great if you'd join me in doing your room!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Having Many and Varied Interests

There's so many things I enjoy doing. From ballet to cooking to music to sewing, I never have a lack of things to do. So many things interest me, and it can be overwhelming at times as I try to learn and do them all. I've sometimes wondered whether it's even good to have a lot of interests, for the world today seems to be so focused on being good at one thing. After all, find what you're good at and do it. Right?

Well, I'm not so sure. I really enjoyed reading a post on the Girl Talk blog called "Not Her Best", where they quoted G.K. Chesterton. Go and read the whole quote - it's very good! It was encouraging to me, as a homemaker-in-training, to be reminded of the many and varied tasks that a wife and mother is expected to do.

Though it is usual to focus on being good at one or two things, it's also important to develop all those "second best" skills, the ones that you will use all your life. You probably won't be the "best" at any of them, but if you learn to do them well and "with all your heart, as working for the Lord" (Colossians 3:23) you will make a home that is truly inviting.

It's also encouraging for those who struggle with perfectionism. I don't classify myself as a perfectionist, though lately, I have found myself struggling with those tendencies. If I don't do things absolutely wonderfully, I can get down on myself, beating myself up for not doing better. However, there are many things that you simply can't develop to the level of perfection. After all nothing we can do will ever be truly perfect, and a lot of things won't even come close! But we should strive to do things well, and glorify the God in what we do - whether we're making a meal (though it may be quite simple), sewing clothes (though perhaps not with the straightest seams!), or dancing or playing the piano (though you may not be a prima ballerina or virtuoso).

While it's important to do many things to make a pleasant home - indeed having "not one trade but twenty hobbies" - we must remember that we can't do it all. I have tried to develop as many homemaking skills as I can, but there's not time enough in a day to do them all. I enjoy embroidering, but I have yet to take the time to learn well the skill of knitting or crocheting. I can cook nourishing suppers and delicious desserts, but don't ask me to decorate cakes with different colored icing! While I can manage a house fairly well, I don't know much about gardening and precious little about canning. The list could go on. It's not that I don't want to do these things, but I haven't yet been able to find the time. And that's okay! Maybe one day I'll learn, or maybe God will have me continue doing what I'm doing.

For all you homemakers or homemakers-in-training, don't be afraid to develop wide and various skills! Each skill will come in very useful! Accept God's grace and realize that you won't be perfect, but work wholeheartedly at what you can do. And if there's something you don't particularly like, but know is needed for running a household, there's no time like the present to learn! =)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Stay in Shape with Housework!


*in an upbeat and energetic voice*

Are your days full, with you never seeming to find time to exercise? Get in shape with housework! You'll feel better and have more energy, and the house will be a whole lot cleaner!

Feeling the need to release stress?

Grab the rugs off of your floor and head outside to the nearest sturdy tree, then shake away. You'll be working your arms and body as you bang the heavy rugs against the tree, and you can beat them as much as you want to!

~or~

Make up a big batch of bread and knead it for 10 minutes. The dough won't mind how hard you punch it!

For an all-body work-out, energetically sweep the floor or sidewalk, vacuum, or scrub floors. See how quickly you can move!

If you want to work your arms, do any of the above and more! Get them moving as you dust, wash windows, or hang up laundry. Have a fussy baby or toddler? Cheer him up you lift him up and down and up and down...

Want to strengthen your legs? Do releves (rise up on your toes and back down, keeping your knees straight) while you cook or do something else standing still. As you enthusiastically punch your bread, see how long you can balance on your tippy toes - and feel your calves get strong! Or, give a child a horsey ride on your foot!

There's no end to the things you can do around the house, indoors and out! You'll feel better and have more energy, not to mention the emotional benefits! You'll be thrilled as you see the dirt disappear and the floors start to sparkle! There's just something about making things look clean!

*in fast, garbled voice*

Results may vary. Energy levels not guaranteed. Proceed with caution. You may find yourself unable to stop cleaning and getting rid of dirt. There have been rare reports of women staying up to all hours organizing. Clean at your own risk.

*seriously*

Okay, so I was just having fun making things up. =) But it is true that you burn calories doing housework, that you often feel more energetic after doing it, and that it will usually make you feel happy to see things clean!

I know you thought of things to add to this "cleaning commercial" so have fun coming up with creative ideas in the comments section! What other sales pitches could you give to household chores?

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Daily Disciplines: Going to Bed

If we're going to have a productive day, getting enough sleep helps greatly. And if we want to rise early and get a good start on the day, we've got to start the night before by going to bed at a decent hour!

I will be the first to say that going to bed early enough is difficult for me. It's definitely one of those "hard things" for me to work on! By nature, I am what my dad calls a night owl. If I stay up late enough, it's like I get my second wind and start waking up instead of getting sleepy!

How does that work when I get up early? Well, I guess you could say that I'm a night owl that would rather be an early bird, and is trying hard towards that goal! I don't really like the getting up part, but I like having gotten up, and find that I get a lot more done when I rise early.

Because I aim to get up at 6 a.m., I try to get 8 hours of sleep, and thus aim to turn off the light by 10 p.m. But, sad to say, it rarely happens. It's much more common for it to be 10:15 p.m. or 10:30 p.m. or even later! It's something I'm still working on, and I'm looking forward to hearing how each of you motivates yourself to turn off the light!

So, how do you get to bed on time? I do have some suggestions, but keep in mind that I don't always follow my own advice! These are things I try to do, however.

Head to bed much earlier then you actually want to turn out the light. I've found that if you lay in bed for a while reading or sit among pillows writing, you start to feel sleepy pretty quickly. Usually, that is! I've gotten in the habit of reading or writing or both before I go to sleep, and it helps me settle down. The one thing you have to be careful about is that you don't read or write too long!

If you do read before bed, set yourself a time, chapter, or page limit. This can be hard to keep when you're in the midst of a real page-turner, but if you set yourself a limit, it will be easier to stop!

Keep your evenings as free as possible. If you're at home most of the evening, it's easier to keep a set bedtime. With the exception of musical rehearsals (which we have to hold after fathers get off work, out of necessity) and band practice last year, I have tried to keep all my lessons and activities during the day. Most of the reason is because I so enjoy having supper with my family and then being free to spend time with them for a few hours, but a good reason is that it allows for earlier bedtimes!

Though it's nice to be home in the evenings, it's not an every-day occurrence. Things come up, like concerts, babysitting jobs, or time with friends, and they're definitely good things to do! As we usually get home late from such things, however, I try to have them as the exception rather then the rule.

Count the time evening activities will take. When watching a movie, for example, think about how long it will last. If it's a two-hour movie and it's 7 p.m., it's probably fine. But you wouldn't want to start the same movie at 8 p.m. unless you planned to stay up late. Try to get evening responsibilities, such as washing dishes, done sooner rather then later. Also, try not to get on the computer late into the evening, as it's easy to stay on later then you should.

Do relaxing things before bed. Develop an evening routine if it helps. For me, it's doing my teeth then trying to immediately get into bed and read or write. Even if I just read for a few minutes, it usually settles me down and makes me ready to sleep. If I'm in a really good book, that often motivates me to head to bed earlier, so that I'll have more time to read. =)

Can't sleep? I can relate! It usually takes me half an hour or more, or at the least, 15 minutes, to actually fall asleep after the light goes off. It's not because I'm not sleepy - usually I'm exhausted! If you have trouble getting to sleep, trying to quiet your mind and pray or meditate on Scripture. Sometimes I'm too excited about something, or a million thoughts about what I need to do the next day fly through my brain, and I just can't settle down. When that happens, sometimes it's helpful to write thoughts down so that you know you won't forget them; then, you're mind will be able to rest and not try to remember them all! If a long time goes by and I'm still wide awake, sometimes I turn the light back on and read a bit more (a boring book helps!) just to change directions of my excited or random thoughts and get sleepy!

Keeping a consistent schedule as much as possible helps. If I sleep in one day, I find it harder to go to bed the next night, which makes me tired and more likely to sleep in the next day, which results in a late night the next... and it goes on. Sometimes you have no choice but to be up late, but if you try to get up at your regular time the next morning (within reason, of course!) you will find it easier to go to bed the next night. Weekends off mess me up, but I try to get back on a consistent schedule each Monday.

As I've said before, I'm definitely not perfect in this area, and would like to hear from you! I really enjoyed hearing everyone's different schedules and thoughts on the morning last week, and would enjoy hearing your thoughts on nights this week1 Feel free to answer all, any, or none of the following questions.
  • When is your normal (or ideal) bedtime?
  • What do you do to stick to it?
  • Do you have a routine before bed? Does it help?
  • Are you consistent in your bedtime every day or just weekdays, or are you just sporadic?
  • What prevents you from getting to bed on time?

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Deborah - A Woman whom God Spoke Through

These people have been cruelly oppressed for twenty years. The Israelites did evil in the LORD's eyes, so He sold them into the hands of Jabin, a king of Canaan. Their armies are huge and cruel, and they've been a horrible master. Finally, the people are crying out to God for help.

And God has answered their cries! God has given me a message to give Barak son of Abinoam. He is to lead our people to victory!

A lot of talk swirls around the story of Deborah. Some see her as the pattern for working women; others see her as somehow going against God because she led Israel for a time, when women don't normally lead in the Bible. I've been confused about what we can learn from her, especially when I've read a lot of contradictory stuff about her.

So, I decided to go straight to the source of the story and see just what the Bible says about her. Surprisingly, there are very little details about who she was and what she did. Let's examine her story in Judges 4-5 together.

Chapter 4 opens by telling how Ehud, the judge before Deborah, died, and that the Israelites once again did evil in the eyes of the LORD, resulting in their being oppressed by the Canaanites. Judges 4:4-5 introduces us to Deborah: "Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading [traditionally, judging] Israel at that time. She held court under the Palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Eprhaim, and the Israelites came to her to have their disputes decided."

The story of Deborah is tucked between those of many other judges of Israel. The unique thing is, though, that she is the only woman judge. Should she have been leading Israel when the Bible clearly teaches that men should be the leaders? Well, nowhere in her story do we find that God is displeased with Deborah - rather, He spoke through her to tell Barak that he should deliver Israel. However, in Isaiah 3:12 we find that when "youth oppress my people and women rule over them," it was party of God's judgment on Israel.

It seems that at this time in Israel's history, there were many scared men that refused to lead. Joshua 5:6 describes abandoned roads and people taking winding paths, and verse 7 goes on: "Village life in Israel ceased until I, Deborah, arose, arose a mother in Israel." She doesn't seem to be a woman that was power hungry and looking for an opportunity to seize control. Rather, Joshua 5:2 begins the song of Deborah and Barak with "When the princes in Israel take the lead, when the people willingly offer themselves - praise the LORD!" Then in verse 9: "My heart is with Israel's princes, with the willing volunteers among the people. Praise the LORD!" Deborah wanted men to lead (also as evidenced in her conversations with Barak) but when none of them stepped forward, she arose as a mother in Israel. Even in her leading, she emphasizes her feminine role, leading as a mother, who gently guides, teaches, and sometimes rebukes her children.

So, back to the story.

Deborah sends for Barak and says to him, "The LORD, the God of Israel, commands you: 'Go, take with you ten thousand men of Naphtali and Zebulon and lead the way to Mount Tabor. I will lure Sisera, the commander of Jabin's army, with his chariots and his troops to the Kishon River and give him into your hands.' " (Judges 4:6-7)

But Barak was afraid. He said to her, "If you go with me, I will go; but if you don't go with me, I won't go." (verse 8)

" 'Very well,' Deborah said, 'I will go with you. But because of the way you are going about this, the honor will not be yours, for the LORD will hand Sisera over to a woman.' " (verse 9) Because of Barak's timidity and unwillingness to lead when call had called him, the honor of deliverance would be transferred away from him to a woman.

So Deborah went with Barak as he summoned ten thousand men and marched to Mount Tabor. When the enemy drew up battle lines against them, Deborah said to Barak, "Go! This is the day the LORD has given Sisera into your hands. Has not the LORD gone ahead of you?" (Judges 4:14)

This time Barak valiantly led alone, and the ten thousand men followed him down the mountain and into battle, where they routed the enemy. I think it's important to not that Deborah did not go and fight in the battle - she stayed safely on the mountain. I got rather annoyed when I saw a "Deborah doll" that was sold in "her warrior costume" complete with pants. It's evident from Scripture that she did not fight in the battle! But I digress...

In accordance with the prophecy, Sisera escaped the battle and fled on foot to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite. She went out to meet him and said, "Come my lord, come right in. Don't be afraid." (Judges 4:18) She went above and beyond in gracious hospitality, as Judges 5:24-25 praises. She not only invited him in, she put a covering over him, making him comfortable. When he asked for water, she generously gave him milk "in a bowl fit for nobles". However she had another intent. When he was fast asleep, she drove a tent peg through his temple, killing him and winning Israel's praise. When Barak came along pursuing Sisera, Jael met him and took him to see the man he was looking for - dead.

After the lovely and poetic song of Deborah and Barak, we don't hear anything more from or about Deborah. Unlike the stories of other judges, it doesn't tell us about her later years or when she died. Judges 5:31 gives us a clue about the remainder of her life, however, saying that "the land had peace for forty years." Her leading was a blessed time.

What can we learn from Deborah? We can learn to be ready and waiting to be used by the Lord. It may not be something we'd expect, and we can be sure that what He calls us to won't be against a specific Scriptural command, but we need to be open to following Him. He may use us as an example or as someone to challenge or encourage others to follow God's commands.

If you have thoughts about Deborah's story, please share them!

Read all about Deborah in Judges 4-5, and read more about other women from the Bible here.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Fat Fat Jehoshaphat Promo Clip



The above video is a promo clip I put together for the musical we're presenting a week from today, "Fat Fat Jehoshaphat"! We'll be showing it at church on Sunday. I thought you might enjoy seeing a little bit of what we've been working on. The video quality really went down when I uploaded, but you can see it bigger here, and it at least gives an idea of what we're doing!

This musical has taken a lot of work, between arranging all the practices, planning rehearsals, directing, choreographing, finding and arranging props, decorating, and sewing many costumes (2 skirts, 7 army tunics, 1 kingly robe, 1 historian's hat, 1 sash, and 3 white head scarves to be exact!). I think I forget after each musical just how much work has to go in to putting one on, but that's probably a good thing. =) If I remembered all the work, I may think twice before doing one again! But, God designed us in a special way to mostly forget the bad and remember the good.

Despite all the work, this musical has been so much fun to put on! All of the families have really pulled together, and I've so enjoyed working with them each Tuesday and Thursday. With all the funny lines and hilarious characters, this musical has been one of the most enjoyable for everyone to work on. Though I'm not acting in it this time, it's been great to see each actor blossom in their roles. We're looking forward to presenting it in a week!

We've used almost everyone in each family involved! It's been fun to have each person be in or help with it in some way, and families have done really well working together, despite the wide age ranges!

Thoughts on Biblical Womanhood Requested

For my 18th birthday, I began compiling a notebook on Biblical womanhood. I enjoyed embroidering and sewing a cover for a notebook, and asked each of the guests to bring a letter instead of a gift, including their favorite verses on Womanhood and why they were meaningful, as well as practical advice on how to apply Biblical womanhood to my season of life. Each of the letters were very special to receive, encouraging and challenging. I've enjoyed all of them, from the ones from the mothers to those of younger girls.

To continue in the compilation of this notebook, I'm asking for your help! If you'd be willing, I'd enjoy receiving and adding your thoughts on Biblical womanhood to my notebook. Whether short or long, I'd really appreciate you sharing your favorite verse(s) on womanhood and why they are meaningful to you, any great quotes on womanhood or examples of women who exemplify Biblical womanhood, and any advice you'd have for me on how to live as a Godly woman in my season of life, as I go off to college in the fall.

You can leave me a comment with your thoughts or email me, and I'll print them off on pretty paper to add to my notebook. Also, if you know of great articles, quotes or poems that would be on topic for this notebook, please let me know where I can find them! I hope to keep and refer to this notebook, adding to it over the years, as I continue my journey in living as a woman who fears the Lord.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Bridesmaid and Flower Girl Dresses

How to make 3 bridesmaid and 2 flower girl dresses:

1. Find the perfect pattern and material.
After searching for quite a while, Miriam picked out McCall's Evening Elegance pattern #3954 for the bridesmaid dresses and Simplicity pattern #9497 for the flower girl dresses. Her wedding colors are plum and white, and after looking for a long time, we finally found the perfect color satin at Hancock's, along with the same color sheer overlay for the bridesmaid's and white braid, and a white overlay for the flower girl's at Hobby Lobby.

2. Cut out the dresses, making sure you have multiple measurements and making alterations as needed.
I cut out and began sewing the flower girls' dresses, then when Miriam was home one afternoon, she and I made a great team cutting out the bridesmaids' dresses. I chalked most of the pattern pieces on the fabric, making alterations as needed - a lot of them needed lengthening for the tall bridesmaids! Miriam came behind and cut them out. I also made the necklines a bit higher, as the pattern made them a bit low, and after Miriam didn't like the too "poofy" sleeves on the first dress, I took those out and used a different pattern's sleeves instead.

3. Spend hours sewing at away at your sewing machine.
My serger helped a lot, finishing seams nicely, and making lovely rolled hems on the flower girl dresses.
4. Enlist help as needed.
Meet Miss Dee-Dee! Her real name is "Dear Dummy" but she's a bit sensitive, so I call her Miss Dee-Dee for short. =) As a thank-you for making the dresses, Miriam generously bought me a dressmaker that I picked out off of Ebay! It was so wonderful as I made each dress, to be able to adjust the dressmaker to match the measurements of each woman, and fit the dress to it, since the bridesmaids live rather far away and wouldn't be able to come for fittings! This made sure that they'll fit right (hopefully!). She's been a great help!

5. Add the finishing touches.
Isn't the braid lovely? It adds the perfect finish to each dress.

It was time consuming to sew it all on by hand, but I managed to do it while watching things or listening to the radio. I finally finished the last dress on Thursday evening, staying up later then I should have sewing the last two rows of braid, but wanting to finish the dresses once and for all!

6. Enjoy being done!
Here's proof of the finished results. I really enjoyed sewing them all, but it is a relief to have them finished. =)

Miriam's maid of honor is our sister Lydia, and her bridesmaids are two of her good friends from college.

The flower girls are our sweet neices, Sara Rose, age 4, and Lisa Beth, almost 2!

Hope you enjoyed the pictures! I am very grateful for all the sewing I've done over the years, in order to prepare me for sewing these more intricate dresses! Thankfully, the different kind of fabrics weren't too hard to work with, and my machine didn't mess up, praise God!