Thursday, June 13, 2013

Twenty-One Years... And Counting

דודי לי ואני לו
"My beloved is mine, and I am his"

It has been so long since I've posted here that I've had a hard time figuring out where to start again. Our 21st anniversary seems like the perfect place to begin! I feel like we've lived two lifetimes in the past two decades, and it has been a grand adventure!

I am astounded at God's faithfulness to our family over the years, and so grateful. I keep a photo of Craig in my Bible as a bookmark for Isaiah 51:2, which says,

"... look to Abraham, your father, and to Sarah, who gave you birth. When I called him he was but one, and I blessed him and made him many." (emphasis mine)

I keep his photo near this verse as a reminder to live with a generational point of view. Back in January 1988 when we first ever laid eyes on one another, we couldn't have imagined that the Lord would extend our line fivefold (although Craig says that he knew then that he'd one day marry me).

God called Craig long ago to be the leader that he is today, and from him He has made "many".

As a "daughter of Sarah" (ref. I Peter 3:6), I am called to follow, compliment, and support Craig in his calling. Since my nine-month absence from blogging, our family is facing yet another move - this time to South Africa. Many people have asked me, "So, are you OK with this?" I suppose that the question is a natural one, especially in our culture that abhors the thought of having a man make a major decision without consulting his wife first. Craig values my input and always includes me in the decision-making process; but ultimately he is responsible to answer God's call boldly, however that may look, and I am to follow peacefully, trusting that God's purpose and will for our family is perfect, eternal, and unable to be thwarted by a "bad" or "scary" decision.

Fortunately, this is a very exciting move for our family; but as I've pondered the many questions from others, I've been reminded that when God called Abram to leave his country (Genesis 12:1-5), Abram didn't consult Sarai to weigh whether she felt comfortable with God's command. He obeyed. She followed. The Word of God makes no reference to her having wrestled with that decision or suffering depression or anxiety over the drastic change or resentment over Abram's decision to obey unquestioningly.

I haven't always taken this view. As starry-eyed as I was at the age of 19 when we were first married, I was resistant to Craig's role as spiritual leader of our home. The Lord is so gracious and merciful to teach me through His Word, mentors, and faithful authors through the years - as well as various trials - gently guiding me into an understanding of His design for marriage that is entirely opposite the popular views of our culture.

Occasionally, I will receive questions from younger women asking marital advice. In these cases, I try to think not only of what the Lord is teaching me, but I also consider what I might say to my own daughters. Any advice that I would want my daughters to embrace must have its basis in the eternal, unchanging Word of God. With this in mind, I prayerfully consider how best to answer a friend in a way that will honor God and fall in line with the teaching of His Word.

Recently, I received an unexpected message from a young lady who will be married in the fall. I was humbled that she would ask me, as I have not known her long. I took this as God's assignment and weighed my response for a while before offering counsel. If you don't mind, I'd like to share what God put on my heart concerning this future bride's question, without divulging her identity. Feel free to fill in the blank with Caelyn, Morgan, or Gabriela, as I would say the same to them:

I'll start with your last message in which you asked, "What is the hardest part about transitioning from being engaged to being married?"
I've thought about this for several days, not wanting to be hasty or inaccurate in my response. I'm sure that others would have different answers to this question, but I would say that the hardest transition for a new bride is to go from seeing her new husband as her peer to seeing him as her leader.
This was hard for me because 1. I was a new believer & didn't have much of an understanding of Scripture, 2. I was a staunch feminist & an absolute rebel, and 3. We were both kids, and I saw myself as more mature & responsible in those days. (Ha!)
After the excitement of planning and then the actual wedding and honeymoon, it can be somewhat anti-climactic and disillusioning to settle into your life together with the mundane soon outweighing the adventures. This is where the reality sinks in and sanctification begins.
I assume that your groom-to-be is a believer, and I pray that he understands the immense responsibility of his God-given role as spiritual leader & provider. You, ______, have the tremendous privilege of building him up in this role as you seek The Lord daily, praying for your man, creating a haven for him in your home together, committing every grievance & trial to The Lord, never ever sharing negative details about his flaws to those outside your home.
Ephesians 5, 1 Timothy 3, Proverbs 31, and Titus 2 have lots to say about your role as wife and how best to help equip your husband to freely walk in the path God has marked out for him. He should trust that you "have his back".
Marriage is a wonderful gift and is meant to symbolize the relationship between Christ and His bride, the church. It is hard work, though, and very painful at times. Those closest to us have the greatest capacity to wound us, and vice versa. We have to be willing to be vulnerable and risk heartache if we want to grow and glorify God. His Word says that He is close to the broken-hearted, will not reject a broken and contrite heart, cares for us, and is familiar with our suffering. 1 Peter is a great book to study during times when you feel that things aren't going the way you'd like in your marriage. It was transformational for me at a time when I thought it was all falling apart. God is faithful!!
This morning as I was praying about responding to you, I got a picture in my mind of marriage hanging by a thread, with the threat of many blades from all directions. This seems scary, but if God is the Guardian of your marriage, no man can destroy it!!
Psalm 127:1 says, "Unless The Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless The Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain." This applies to the delicate "thread". If you depend on romance, finances, "peace", agreement, happiness, satisfaction, or any other element to keep your marriage strong, it will be vulnerable to the "blades" of the flesh, the enemy, and the world. If Christ is your ALL, He will be faithful to make your marriage relationship a beautiful vessel of His glory.
I hope that this helps and doesn't cause discouragement. Marriage is a beautiful and desirable thing, not highly valued by the world. Praise God for bringing you together, and trust Him to keep you together! I rejoice with you! Please keep in touch and feel free to ask any and all questions that come to mind. With God's help, I will be delighted to be a help to you. Pray also for me that I will honor The Lord in my marriage and as a mother, and in all things as Christ's ambassador.

It's impossible to summarize 21 years of marriage lessons in one blog post. I have never regretted marrying Craig and marrying young. God is indeed faithful to His covenant, and by His Spirit He keeps us. By His enabling I hope to continue to be my husband's crown, for the glory of God, until He calls us to our eternal home with Him to worship around His throne!

Happy Anniversary, Babe. I'd do it all again.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Blue & Green Are So Refreshing!

When Caelyn went to work as a nanny for friends of ours in Alaska in the fall of 2010, she met a lot of really interesting people. One such friend was a newly-wed Army wife who attended the same Bible study as Caelyn. Since then, Katie's husband has left the Army, and the two of them have had several changes, including the birth of their first son!

I was honored when Katie accepted my offer to make a nursing cover for her. I asked if she has any particular color preference, and she mentioned that she likes blue and green. That gave me the perfect excuse to buy this beautiful damask that kept nagging at me on every visit to the fabric store recently.

It's been a while since I've inserted a side pocket in one of these covers. I usually add one to the outside. Either way, it's nice to have a place to stash the nursing pad during a feeding.

My "style consultant", Caelyn, agreed that this butterfly fabric (a favorite of mine, purchased in South Africa) added a perfectly bold contrast for the backing.

Nothing too exciting here. Just a "D" ring that's rather hidden in this photo.

To jazz up the solid blue fabric near the bottom, I added a sheer embroidered ribbon that was given to me years ago by a seamstress friend of my mom's. Sadly, Joy passed away about a decade ago, which makes the sewing items that she shared with me even more dear.

Close-up view of the pocket.
I am so excited about giving this nursing cover to Katie! She and Aaron are so thankful for their little guy! We rejoice with them over the precious gift the Lord has given them.

"Sons are a heritage from the Lord,
    children a reward from him. 
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
    are sons born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
    whose quiver is full of them."
Psalm 127:3-5

Table & Chair Rescue

I need to decide what to do with the bird puzzle in the background. We finished it earlier this summer and glued it together. I'd like to make it into a tray or something.

When we lived in Moçambique, I would see vendors - ordinary citizens wishing to make a living - setting up their wares along the road daily. I saw men carrying their fresh catch of the day, and once I saw a father and son selling their freshly-slaughtered chicken at a table outside their home. It made me realize how much red tape we have in America - I mean, we can't even paint someone's finger nails without a license!

With our infatuation with credentials, it's refreshing to find those who still just dive right in and use their skills. One can't argue with results, and Miss Mustard Seed provides oodles for inspiration for those who have the desire yet lack the particular degree. When you click her link, be SURE to read her sidebar note, "Move Mountains in Your Home". Her "credentials" are represented in her actual work. Had she waited for someone else's validation, we might not have her vast array of talent to inspire us.

I'm thinking that I must add Miss Mustard Seed to my "Dream Kibbutz" list. I really could have benefited from having her by my side as I entered into these two projects.

A while back, I started recycling a bunch of old Potterybarn items that I've had lying around for years. I've been slowly chipping away at an old duvet cover for use in several projects.

Here's the best photo I could find of the duvet cover from several years (and four addresses) ago.

(A tiny glimpse of one of the pillows I made from it can be seen here, in the background.)

After updating this chair recently, I was inspired to rescue its injured twin from the garage. In our last move, it lost one of the back slats. I tried and tried to locate the handy tutorial that MMS used to cover a chair back, but I couldn't. So, I did my best to figure it out on my own.

I just love making messes in my sewing room!

Here it is almost finished. I had to scavenge through all of my stashes to find more of the cording I used on the seat. Sometimes, hoarding pays. And I don't regret cutting up that duvet cover one bit.

Once the chair was done, I was ready to tackle the card table slipcover. I bought this card table with two chairs (future project?) at Target several years ago. It has been a school table in my boys' room, a model-plane & -truck table, a scrapbooking table, a puzzle-building table, and most recently, an extra chess table for my son's group that will meet here monthly.

In the meantime, I wanted an extra surface for those rare moments when I actually spend time in my bedroom doing "stuff" that requires a flat surface. You might call it a desk.

Although it bears a striking resemblance to a giant roll of toilet paper, I thought of a solution for managing what seemed like miles of pleat fabric. As my mom would say, I thought it was rather "slick":

I'm a firm believer that cute daughters make better displays. Add a cute puppy, and BINGO!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Number Two

As of last Friday, I hadn't yet made the second apron for my friend, Lisa, and could only post the first one. She told me to just make it up and do whatever I want, and I did! I was all over the map with the fabrics. It was a blast!

I decided to add a lining to this one. I just love the recipe fabric.

Maybe this can be Lisa's breakfast apron. I think it would certainly wake anyone up!

I'm adding this to Amy's Sew & Tell for this week. I just love seeing all of the marvelous projects that she and her friends share. Check it out!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Apron Love

It's shameful how far behind I am on blogging, among other things; but at least I'm making progress with our home school.
For now, that's paramount.
I've also managed to squeeze in a little sewing lately, after our whirlwind summer.

Last week I was a bit bummed that Amy didn't do a Sew & Tell (because I was ready for once), but I was tickled to find that she posted one for this week. 
She deserves a LOT of grace, though. She's been such a wonderful leader of her sewing followers for a few years, and I admire her greatly! Plus, she's a military wife with three small children.
(Been there.)
Need I say more?

A friend from my hometown - whom I haven't seen in YEARS, but who found me on Facebook a while back - asked me to make a couple of aprons for her.
Fortunately, she is a very patient and gracious friend, who hasn't yet shown any perturbation at how long it's taking me to finish.

This week, I finished Lisa's first apron:

I used this apron as a basic guide, but changed some details.

I love my family for so many reasons, one of which is the way they cheer me on. When I brought the finished product downstairs to show everyone, they showered me with affirmation.
The girls were even a bit disappointed to learn that this isn't for one of us.

As pleased as I am with the outcome, and as much as I love the fabric, it feels so good to know that someone else will enjoy wearing this in the kitchen.

Now it's time to get upstairs and start putting together #2.

Hop on over to Amy's Sew & Tell to feast your eyes on all of the fabulous creations there!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Squeezing in a Few

We started school recently after being out of town for a week, so I haven't had much time for blogging. It's a pity, too, because there's plenty to tell -  especially about the dogs, but also about life in general, house guests, and what we've been doing with waffles.

I have quite a sewing task list, and I can't wait to get to it! Most of it is pretty easy stuff that just requires staying in my sewing room long enough to make it happen. Before digging into what is really necessary, I felt that I needed to get myself geared up to start checking off my list. 
(Remember the "Round, round, ready, write!" warm-up from elementary cursive class? It's sort of like that.)

Pictured above is a little gift set I threw together for my dear cousin in Pennsylvania. She recently spent her 60th birthday in the hospital after having a second brain tumor surgery. This little gift seems rather lame in light of that, but she liked it, and I loved making something for her. 
(She's one of those hard-to-buy-for people. You know, the ones who have everything already.)

I actually forgot to take photos of her gifts before mailing them, so she sent me a photo from her phone. Anyway, the long rectangular solid is a rice-filled heating pad. I bought that adorable Paris fabric at Hobby Lobby a couple of months ago, and my mom mentioned that Dee would love to have something made with it. She took a trip to Paris last year, and recently she bought a French Bull Dog and named her Paris.

I couldn't resist using the black Eiffel Tower fabric for a coordinating lavender-scented eye mask. It's a small gift, but I assure you that it was made with love, fervent prayer, and a longing to be by Dee's side through this harrowing time.

On a much, much lighter note, while doing some necessary cleaning/organizing, I unearthed a coffee stamp that I've had for a number of years. I have a vague memory of making either invitations or place cards for an Army wives' get-together (which we called a "coffee") at our house in Ft. Benning, GA, back in 2001. It hasn't been used since then.

As soon as I looked at that stamp, I knew what I wanted to do. 

I had some leftover burlap from our favorite coffee shop in Maputo, Moçambique. All that was needed was a fabric ink pad.
 I've wanted to make a mug rug for my friend, Terri, but these burlap coffee-stamped coasters seemed more fitting for her style.
I love them, and so does she!

Once I had finished the burlap set for Terri, I just had to keep going. I wanted to try a different fabric and make a set without frayed edges. The fabric below is leftover from Craig's Africa wallhanging.

The backing is leftover from a messenger bag.

All of this coaster-making is becoming addictive and has my creative juices flowing. Inspired by a travel cup I bought recently at the science center - and being a nerdy homeschool mom - I dusted off my hand embroidery supplies and transferred the molecular structure of caffeine onto some squares for another set:

I think this is my favorite set.

I'm posting this in hopes that Amy will do a Sew & Tell this weekend for August. If not, that's OK. At least I will have mustered up a blog post! I have a lot of catching up to do.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Cutest Little Mama Lately

We bade farewell to our precious guests this morning after nine wonderful days of their sweet fellowship. Kait is a lovely picture of godly womanhood, striving to honor the Lord and love her husband, Zach, and her son, Bruce (and any other "arrows" the Lord sends to fill their quiver).

It is truly a blessing to have friends who not only offer pleasant company, but whose counsel and encouragement are motivated by a desire to please God and spur His people on toward obedience to the Scriptures. I love that Kait and Zach speak the Truth of God's Word into our lives and serve as an example of faithfulness for our children to emulate.

My heart was filled with joy as I observed the patient, wise, and loving way in which the two of them operated in one accord to meet the needs of their baby boy. For such a young woman, Kait very graciously welcomes Zach's input in tending to Bruce's well-being, and they are doing a fabulous job handling his daily routine!

During the visit, Kait mentioned that her nursing "bib" (as I call them) was too short, and that she'd like to have one with a bit more flair. She has such an eye for color, which I observed on a shopping trip with her to the fabric store. She ended up "shopping" from my stash at home, instead, and I just love how she boldly stepped outside the box with these patterns and colors!

Kait was interested in this fabric, which I had used in this nursing cover, this bag, and this bag. Sadly, I didn't have enough to allow it to stand alone. In the end, that proved a matter of serendipity. I love, love, LOVE the solution we came up with! 

After perusing my stash, she quickly amassed a lovely sampling of Amy Butler fare, and we were off! In trying to figure out a way to use ALL of the fabrics she chose without making everything clash entirely, I thought it would be fun to use a scrappy strip method from a couple of bags that I made a while back. (And here's the other one.)

The ruffle/pocket/strap fabric is leftover from the toddler backpack I recently made for an adorable little girl in California, and the backing fabric is from the spring bag I made for myself.

Yesterday was a busy day for us, and I couldn't wait to get back to sewing this cover. I managed to finish it last night around midnight, while Craig, Kait, Zach, the children, and a visiting friend played Bananagrams next to where I was sewing. That's one of my favorite games, so my attention was definitely divided; but I was a woman on a mission. I only regret that I didn't get a video of the little hopping-dance action from Kait when she held the cover in her hands for the first time, role-playing the admiring friends who will most likely covet her nursing bib and demand one just like it.

There's nothing like little tiny baby feet hanging out of a nursing "bib".

We will miss having this sweet family around. It makes me look forward to Heaven, where we won't have to be concerned with details like mileage or airline fees, and we'll be together, worshiping the King around His throne forever! Until then, we have Skype, Facebook, and occasional visits.