Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Victory over Joann's Fabrics

I've gotten myself into quite a project: my husband and I have decided to join those "crazy people" who dress up every weekend in old clothes and sit around playing battle. That's right! I'm so excited we'll be starting Civil war reenacting this June!

Thankfully, we have dear friends patient enough to humor us as we start this adventure. Shaune has a friend who's closet looks more 1860s than 2010s, so he'll be able to borrow gear for the first while. Women's clothes just aren't really like that. They have to, you now, **fit**. However, I DO have a wonderful friend allowing me to use her patterns to get started: Sarah Jane from Romantic History!

At first I was going to make do... make a less-fitted wrapper dress and get around to undergarments when I could. Well, we changed which event would be our first, and I ended up with an extra 2 weeks. 2 extra weeks ought to be enough, if I work diligently, to create appropriate undergarments and a well fitting real dress. Then, I found a chemise in the closet that I had made when we were trying to volunteer out at New Salem. I used Mrs. Clark's free pattern, so it was even correct. One less thing to accomplish!

Here's where I scored my victory. I went to Joann's to get a ridiculous amount of white cotton for my corset and petticoats, as well as a few other things. I get up to the cutting counter and pass the girl my first bolt of fabric (a blue polka dot for a modern dress) and she starts rolling it out. There's a yard and a half more than I originally wanted. I ask her what she's going to do with it. "Oh, probably roll it up and sell it at 50% off as a remnant."

"Will you sell it to ME as a remnant?"

And so she did... 50% off an already clearanced bolt. 3 yards at $3, 1.5 at $1.50. I've been eyeing this print since it first arrived, at $7 a yard. I'm off to a great start.

Then, she started rolling out my white cotton, when we both noticed a spot on the fabric that went all the way through the bolt. She sighed and started rolling it up, mumbling about hoping there was another ok bolt of the same thing back on the shelf. Again, I chimed in, "Well... what are you going to do with THAT bolt?"

"I'll have to mark it as damaged and sell it at 75% off." My heart jumped. Needing as much as I do, that's a HUGE discount.

"Well, I'LL buy it at 75% off..."

Which is how I ended up with 10 yards of white cotton at $0.50 a yard. It's all for underthings... if anyone can see this spot, they're too close to me.

I don't believe in coincidence. It looks like Civil War reenacting (or something else requiring 10 yards of white cotton) is exactly what God has planned for me this summer! I'm so excited to get down to sewing... my corset pattern is all cut out and spread around the floor, and will be my task for today (once I get off this computer). And hopefully, more victories are in store!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Etsy Announcement

I have so much I could tell you, so much I think you'd find intersting. All these complicated high-brow thoughts rolling around in my head, along with all the normal, every day excitement. So for tonight, I'll keep it simple:

I have an etsy shop!

I'm selling hand knit teddy bears. You've seen these on my blog before. At this point, the ones in my store are all Capoeistas -- they are dressed in the uniform for the martial art capoeira, which my husband pratices. However, I'd love to make any bear you'd like: overalls, skirts or dresses, vests... anything! There's a button in the sidebar that says "request custom item"

Each bear is 14" - 16" tall. They are knit out of acrylic yarn and stuffed with polyester fill.

So, if you or anyone you know could use a cuddly, hand made teddy bear... you now know where to look!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Cultural Relevance, pt. 2

This week I'm exploring the idea of how Christians should relate to the rest of culture. Should we try and fit in? How relevant are we to be? In the first post, I discussed how Christians are to be different from the world. Now comes the other, harder part. I believe that we are not supposed to attempt to make the rest of the world look like us.

What exactly do I mean by that?

I feel that over the past several years (rather, centuries... pretty much since we got too big to be led by 11 men who physically knew Jesus), Christians have been making themselves a thorn in other's sides. We make a point of forcing others to live like us, using various methods, including but not limited to murder (the Inquisition), laws, and heckling (such as occurs outside of abortion clinics). By doing so, we are turning people further away from God and burning any bridges we may have had to reach them.

I have listened carefully over the years to the reasoning behind these actions. I have listened to pastors and laypeople, read articles and watched news clips. The justification I have repeatedly heard for this behavior boils down to one thing: sin. Homosexuality is a sin; abortion is a sin; being a (fill in the blank with whatever political party is opposite your own beliefs) is a sin. Since it is a sin, I must speak out against it.

I have an inquisitive mind and love an intellectual challenge, so I decided to do some research into this logic. I wanted to know: what does the Bible say about all this?

Here's what I saw by looking at Jesus' example:
  1. Jesus is not easy on sin. When people were gathered inside the temple to do business, Christ "made a whip out of cords and drove them all from the temple area" (John 2:15). He is not afraid to speak out against the Pharisees and teachers of the law, rightly accusing them of sin (John 9:41). Jesus identifies sin for what it is.
  2. Jesus is, however, forgiving. Look at the story in Luke 5:17-26, where he heals the man whose friends lowered him through the roof. "When Jesus saw their faith, he said, 'Friend, your sins are forgiven.'" Then he healed the man. Christ responds this way many times. "Your sins are forgiven." "Go and sin no more." Even on the cross: "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34).

The lesson? Jesus knew what sin was and was bold enough to call it such. He was also quick to forgive that sin when people turned to Him. I think we can all agree on this much.

There's more to this story, however. Paul throws this doozy of a verse at us:

What business of mine is it to judge those outside the church? Are you not to
judge those inside? God will judge those outside. 1 Corinthians 5:12-13

Christ makes a distinction between those inside and outside of faith, too. His comment is a response to the disciples' questions about parables:

The secret of the kingdom of god has been given to you. But to those on the
outside everything is said in parables. Mark 4:11

Time for a culturally unacceptable word: double standard. In this case, it's a correct description of what Christ is perscribing. There is one moral standard for those inside the church and another for those outside. There is Christ and life for those inside, and death for those outside. God's always done this -- called a people out of the nations for himself. There have always been those who were called to a higher life and those left behind. First it was the Israelites. Now, it is the Christians.

Out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole
earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. Exodus

Like I voiced in my last post, Christians are supposed to be different. We are called to live a sinless life through Christ.

My biggest issue with the protestors, legislators, and other "thorny" people is that I believe they have too narrow a view of sin. Sin is doing things your way instead of God's way. "Everything that does not come from faith is sin" (Romans 14:23). Sure, homosexuality is a sin. So is pride... envy... lack of trust... and anger (which Christ likens to murder, Matt 5:21-22). And even though we are called to live a sinless life (Romans 6:2), not a one of us can (Romans 7:7-25).

Christ warns us against such behavior:

Do not judge, or you to will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own? Matt 7:1-3

Although I believe in confronting sin and calling it what it is, we have to follow Christ's model. Christ confronted those within the church with their sins. As to the rest of the world? Christ ministered to them when they came to Him, but he didn't go out and abuse them. That would be counter productive. Instead he acted with love and mercy, attracting others to Himself in a non-threatening way. When the opportunity arose, He spoke truth and allowed them to respond. Some followed, some didn't. Since Christ is our model, I firmly believe that we are to act the same way.

We know the Key to eternal life, and He wants us to tell others about Him. We aren't to abuse others about their sins... we need Christ. And until Christ comes and does what He's going to do, we cannot make the rest of the world look like us.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Cultural Relevance, pt. 1

I've been looking a lot lately at how Christians interact with the world, and I think overall, we've got it wrong. This is a hard realization for me, since I've grown up in a "normal" family, attending "normal" school and a "normal" church. It goes against what I've come to expect. The more I open my Bible, though, the more clearly I see these two facts, two sides of the same coin:
  1. We aren't supposed to look like the rest of culture
  2. We aren't supposed to make the rest of culture look like us

I'm going to break this up into 2 posts, one thinking about each truth.

I've seen so many churches in my local community lately trying to be "culturally relevant." They're using gimmicky catch phrases and entertainment value to get attention and theoretically, people through their doors on Sunday morning. I get the idea. "Let's be non-threatening and appealing to seekers." But is that really the point of church? Is that what Jesus did?

Here's some examples I've come across just this week:

  • One church bought a closed-down movie theater to turn into their new "campus." Included will be a snack bar, a "worship auditorium," a children's movie theater, and laser tag.
  • The street sign from a conservative church: "Harry isn't the original Potter -- God is."
  • A sermon series called "We've Got an App for That," comparing the attributes of God to iPhone applications
  • A sermon series called "God in HD (High Definition)," comparing God to TiVo, DVD players, 24 hour cable, and big screen TVs

Here's the problem: my God isn't like 24 hour cable. And I don't know about other families in other programing areas, but I don't particularly want Him to be. We canceled our cable.

I also believe that Jesus was terribly counter cultural. Look at how often he upset the Pharasees and teachers of the law! Jesus made a point of making culture uncomfortable:

Again the Jews picked up stones to stone hom, but Jesus said to them, "I have
shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone
me? John 10:31-32

The teachers of the law and the chief priests looked for a way to arrest him immediately, because they knew he had spoken this parable against them. Luke 20:19

So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, "Why don't your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with 'unclean' hands?" Jesus replied... Mark 7:5

Jesus pointed out the flaws in culture. He didn't embrace them. I do fully believe he was a happy man who had a lot of fun with his friends, but he didn't try to look like "the world" (those away from God). In fact, he said:

If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to
the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. John 15:18-19

Yes, Christ met people where they were and told parables relating to things his listeners would already understand (like seeds and shepherding). Here's where I see the difference tho: at that time, Christ was speaking to people outside the church. Evangelism needs to be culturally relevant. Churches are for worship and for training the believers in how to "go and make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:19). See that word "go"? It's a command. Jesus didn't say, "Make yourselves attractive so that others will come." He said "go."

I see this pattern in Acts, too. The believers come together to worship Christ, having "everything in common" (Acts 2:44). When Luke wrote the book of Acts, he made a clear distinction between the gathering of believers and the work of the Apostles, who spoke out in the name of Christ in public places to bring people into faith. Unbelivers were not the target audience of the church gatherings.

I think a church should be the most counter-cultural place you find in our modern world. It should be a place marked with selflessness and sharing, with praise and joy. The church should be:

  • Peaceful (Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled. John 14:28-29)
  • Loving (By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 13:35)
  • Carefully choosing to avoid sin (Be very careful, then, in how you live -- not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:15-16)
  • Persecuted (Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil because of the Son of Man. Luke 6:22)

It all boils down to this: We know the Key to eternal life, and He wants us to tell others about Him. We don't need gimmicks and tricks to entertain people... we need Christ. We need to look different than the world around us!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


I'm finally getting in on this week's Week in Feminine Dress over at Sense & Sensibility! The WIFD is a time when we dress in girly clothes and celebrate. I've been moving to dresses and skirts more lately anyway, so it isn't a huge transition, but it's still so much fun to take pictures and share and see what all the different ladies wear. It's great inspiration!

My dress is brown jersy knit from Express, via Goodwill (I'd never pay their prices!). I had to let the hem out so it was long enough. It's a cozy, bum-around sort of dress. The tee is from Target.

Although this WIFD is focusing on hats, I don't really have any! So, instead, I'm wearing a handmade headband. I can only wear my hair down when I pull it back like this. This is by far the longest my hair has ever been, ever, and I LOVE it!

Friday, May 7, 2010

In Over My Head

I'm having one of those overwhelmed, crazy, why-did-I-say-I-could-do-this? sort of weeks. I boycotted this morning by curling up in bed with a novel, but now I'm hours behind and wondering what's going to give.

I put the garden in the other day while Shaune was at work. It's so rewarding to know that I did it! I earned myself my first blood blister of the year breaking up the dirt so it would be nice and soft for the seeds. It's like a badge of honor, even if it is painful.

This week was my second week on the leadership team for a bible study class I've become steadily more in love with each week. I'm learning how to prepare my lesson to teach a small group of women (about 10). Although I won't start teaching until the fall, training has to happen now so I can hit the ground running.

I've also been sewing for other people. The adorable girl across the street is making a Taylor Swift (but modest-i-fied) costume for a school project, so I stitched her up some headbands that match the dress her mom found. I'm glad it ended up just that, because I was going to be making the dress, too. Until I took on this project...

I have no idea why I committed to this, other than J.L. is a good friend in the middle of moving with a fancy dinner party to attend... next week. And, of course, she had nothing to wear. When we talked about it, I figured "why not?" She just wants an A-line black skirt. And, she's a seamstress herself. She should purchase the correct stuff, right?


So, now I'm working with yucky fabric, a too-small pattern, off-color zipper and thread, not ENOUGH fabric (she purchased according to her store size, not pattern size)... it will be a creative endeavor, to say the very, very least. Please wish me luck! If I make it through the weekend, I promise to never sew for others again! At least, until the next time they ask me ever-so-nicely.