Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Thoughts on Kindness

When I read through the book of Proverbs (I try to do a chapter every day), I start to notice that some chapters have a running theme. Chapters 1, 2, and 3 are advice from a father to a son. Chapter 7 is about avoiding adulteresses. Chapter 8 reads almost like a fairy tale, telling the story of a woman named Wisdom. Chapter 31 gives standards of a good woman. 

Some chapters, however, are more subtle in their themes. You have to read them often, chew on them, mull them over. Chapter 11 is like that. If you dig deep into Proverbs 11, you see a theme of kindness. Of course, not every verse in the chapter relates to kindness, but there is a general focus on generosity, integrity, and righteousness. Here are a few verses that stuck out to me:

"A gracious woman gets honor, and violent men get riches. A man who is kind benefits himself, but a cruel man hurts himself." (Prov. 11:16-17 ESV)

"The desire of the righteous ends only in good; the expectation of the wicked in wrath. One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want." (Prov. 11:23-24 ESV)

"Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered." (Prov. 11:25 ESV)

I thought these verses were very timely. Lately I've been hearing of Random Acts of Kindness Week, in which people are trying to make a more focused effort to show kindness to the people around them. I like this idea, because I think we need to all be more aware of the love we are showing (or not showing) to others. We should not confine our kindness to one week. We need to make every moment a moment of love and kindness. 

I say this for myself, too. It is so easy to get in the habit of doing things for myself, for what makes me happy and confident and satisfied. We all too easily forget the Lord's promise that "one who waters will himself be watered". 

To get you in the mood, here are some pansies from Salzburg, Austria :o)

So go out and encourage someone today. It doesn't have to be difficult. A kind word, a smile, a prayer, a chore, a little note with a smiley face, a flower in the midst of the cold winter, can all bring hope to someone's dark day. And in showing them kindness, you "enrich" yourself. This should not be the goal, but it is the consequence. Make whatever corner of the world you inhabit more beautiful than it was before! Show some love this week!


Saturday, February 8, 2014

Thoughts on the Largeness of God

Sorry I don't post much... I kind of get in writing moods, and then other times I have writer's block. Someday I'd like to be an actually good author who actually writes. But, to quote Aragorn, "Today is not that day!"

Today I'm just gonna put down a few thoughts that came to me during my devotions. To be clear, I am not a very good devotion-er. While I love it at the time (and I love the effects afterward); I love reading the Scriptures and learning more about the Lord, it is so hard to start. Funny how that is, eh? I've been trying to get it in every day, because I can tell how off balance my attitude is when I don't, and because I want to become more and more like Christ with each passing day. I've made it a sort of new year's resolution to grow closer to God and to read His word every day (although so far that resolution hasn't stood very well. I'm a work in progress). My prayer when I open my devotional and my Bible is "Lord, please show me something I haven't noticed before. Please let something jump out." Sometimes this prayer is answered in a very stark, jumpy-outy sort of way. Other times it is more subtle; the Lord speaks to me quietly, deeply, when I take the time to focus and be quiet.

Today was one of those days.

My devotional is called The Quiet Place, by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. It is geared toward women, but the truths in it are universal. I'm not sure if this is on purpose or just a coincidence, but the book really does seem to bring you into a quiet place, where the daily readings, though just a page long, seem to touch and captivate your soul on the deepest level. It's gloriously uncanny.

Today, for February the 8th (yes, I realize I'm writing this after midnight; it's not tomorrow til I go to sleep :o), the reading was about the first time scientists sent a probe to the deepest part of the ocean: the Marianas trench. Apparently it took five hours for the probe just to get to the ocean floor. That's pretty impressive, but what's more impressive is the spiritual truth that we can take away from this:

     "...Five hours, five years, five lifetimes would not be enough to plumb the depths of [God's] riches,      
     wisdom, and knowledge. He is inexhaustible, limitless, immeasurable.

     "Though we can never reach the bottom of God's unfathomable ways, we do know what it's like to reach      the bottom of our own strength...

     "...Yet deeper than your own limitations and problems is the bedrock of God's faithfulness, power, and  
     knowledge. His unseen, sovereign, eternal purposes are underneath it all, holding everything together -  
     including you... no matter how low [your issues have] taken you, there is always something  - always
     Someone - who is deeper still." The Quiet Place, Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

I just love these thoughts. Often we think of God as being high above everything - which He is - but we also fail to think of Him being deeper than everything. God is limitless, therefore He is not only high, but deep and wide, stretching farther and vaster and thicker than our brains can wrap around.

I'll end with a quote from Revelation 5, 9b-10:

     "...for you [Jesus] were slain, and by your blood you
     ransomed people for God
     from every tribe and language and
     people and nation,
     and you have made them a kingdom and
     priests to our God
     and they shall reign on the earth."


Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Life and Times of a Sewing Machine

     This is an essay I wrote back in March for a writing assignment about an inanimate object. It is one of my favorite things I've written because I love sewing and my determined little sewing machine. I thought I'd share :)

     My name is Athena. I am not the Roman goddess; I am better than she ever was. I can create beauty better than she ever could; I can make something out of nothing, which she never did.
     My full name is Singer 1200 Athena, but I just go by Athena. I am a sewing machine. I was built in 1976 and am still going strong, because of course, I am an Athena. No other sewing machine works as well as I do. No other sewing machine is even a valid machine. They all refer to themselves by their middle names, which is a bothersome practice. I know a machine named Singer 2250 Tradition, and he goes by 2250. Does he really think I’ll go through the bother of remembering all those numbers? (The Traditions always were an odd family, so boxy and plastic, not sleek and shiny and sturdy like me.)
     I am a warm, buttery yellow color with stylish brown panels and buttons and shiny silver knobs. My peers say that white is in vogue for machines now, which is positively ridiculous. Just seeing all those vain machines flashing their shiny plastic shells of pure white is laughable. How else do you say “Made in China”? Honestly. Butter yellow might be a little… vintage, but it practically screams dependability. I am no plastic shell. I’m built of sturdy steel within, with just one piece of plastic on the top to cover my, ahem, machinery. I have ten different stitch options, which include a leaf pattern, numerous zigzag stitches, and even one that looks like the Golden Gate Bridge. I also have multiple accessories: a clear buttonhole foot, a bulky blind hem foot, and several silver needle plates. I am as beautiful as my namesake, the Roman goddess Athena. Well, even more beautiful, because I can actually do something.
     I can create dresses and blouses and skirts, curtains and pillows and purses. I can alter outdated clothing and repair broken seams. There is nothing I can’t do. Just last week, my Seamstress and I worked on a new dress for her. The fabric she chose was simply beautiful: a turquoise and white floral print that takes me back a couple decades. Very retro; I liked it. This was a pleasing pick from my Seamstress; she has a lot of sense. While 2250 and his Seamstress are using gaudy polka dot prints and neon color blocks, my Seamstress and are sewing with red floral calicoes, feathery white muslins, and delicate ivory lace. My Seamstress clearly has as good taste in fabrics as she does in sewing machines.
     This turquoise cloth was for a retro dress she’s working on; I think she said she was for a 1940s dance she’s going to. It has a high waist, crossover bodice, fitted sleeves, and a gored skirt. She bought the pattern off the internet about a year ago and has made two other dresses from it, but the poor thing had no idea what she was doing when she worked on those dresses. Any merit those things could possibly have is because of me. The skirts were too long, the bodices too baggy, the waists too tight. My Seamstress, bless her heart, thinks she’s good at this stuff. (She was so proud of her first invisible zipper. I didn't have the heart to tell her that the only reason that zipper is invisible is because I've been doing zippers since before that girl was born.) At any rate, this time I did my best work to insure that the dress turned out right. Of course, my Seamstress thought it was all her own skill that made the dress so beautiful, and I let her think it. That’s the way to keep Seamstresses happy; let them think they are better sewers than they actually are. It isn't much fun at the time but in the long run they are more confident and patient and gentler with their machines.
     There is nothing better than the sheer thrill of sewing. I love the gentle hum of my gears as they turn faster and faster and the pressure of my Seamstress’ foot on the pedal as my needle punches up and down, up and down (the sound of it doing this used to be so smooth, until one day my Seamstress got impatient and put me on full speed. I think she sprained one of my belts, and now my needle makes a clackity sound when it moves. I’m still trying to forgive her for this).
     My favorite part of sewing, however, is the stitching itself. Every time is like the very first time I sewed, back when I was a young machine. I love the feel of each fabric as it speeds under my presser foot, as I punch the stitches into it, sturdy and tight. Silk is slippery but luxurious. Cotton is common but has so many colors. Linen is hardy and lovely. Knits are soft and cozy. Voile is a dream. Tulle is a nightmare. Each piece has its own feel and flavor: creamy silk from China, succulent brocade from India, sugary satin from the USA. Old fabrics, new fabrics, modern prints, and vintage ones. I can travel the world just by working with its cloths. They say that clothes make the man. Well, I make the clothes.
     So you see, I am much better than the Roman goddess.