Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Fill Me Up God

For some reason my life seems to be revolving around the book of Ruth. I came back from the Dominican with the idea that now I am a college graduate, I would start to grow up a little. I also decided that it was time to stop looking for someone to feel the empty void within me. I figured that a good first step to growing up would be to join a new adult class on Wednesday nights at church. At first, I thought of asking one of the other girls to go with me, after all, who wants to grow up alone? However, I decided against that. I'm a big girl. I can talk to people; I'm fairly outgrowing. A new class would be for me and me alone. So I joined a class about studying the Bible (since I also struggle with reading my Bible). We would be spending the next couple of months learning different ways to study the Bible using the book of Ruth. First of all, I'm not a huge fan of the book of Ruth. Yes, I can hear the gasps from all WOW members across the internet even as I type, but the fact remains is that Ruth is not a woman that I find myself relating too. But nonetheless, here I am in a class that focuses on Ruth, a small four chapter book, for about 16 weeks. Enough time to read each chapter 4 times. And so far, it has been interesting. I've thought about the book in different terms already, one being the distance between Bethlehem and Moab. Why would Naomi and her family travel 90 or so miles to a country that has historically been enemies of her people? Questions like these were changing the way that I had always looked at the book of Ruth. However, my classmates were not seeing or relating to things the way I was. The difference? I am the only one in class without husband or children. As each woman relates both Ruth and Naomi to their own families, I am left sitting wondering what I can contribute for this (excepting that "future" advice I should be storing). It can make for a sad evening.

However, while at Liberty last weekend, I was taken to one of my favorite places to be: a bookstore. And since I'm at Liberty, I can expect a lot of books on theology and "stuff Christians like". My goal was to find a new devotion book. I wanted to have something definite to help me with my Bible reading and keep me from falling off the wagon. While in the women's section (really, where else would I be?) I found a book called "Lady in Waiting: Becoming God's Best While Waiting for Mr. Right". Hadn't I just spend a quarter of my quiet time that morning at the LU Monogram praying that God would bring me Mr. Right? Hadn't I just been imagining browsing through that bookstore with the man of my dreams? Of course I had. It was a daily thing for me to do. Needless to say, the book intrigued me. Scanning the back of the book, it didn't look any different from any other book that promised to teach me to live above my longing for my earthly Prince. I flipped open the cover to the introduction and skimmed it. About two-thirds down the page my eyes took in the information that made me look towards the ceiling and give God a little "are-you-kidding-me" look. This book was using the book of Ruth to help me realize the fundamental truth that God has been screaming at me for months: He is all I need. But here was what I am studying at church to prove that I can be a grown up coupled with something that weighs down my very soul. Its a God thing. So I purchased the book.

All this back story is leading to a conclusion, I promise. And here it is. I am committing myself to really discover and be a Lady in Waiting for God. This will be my personal journey with a love relationship with Christ. It's time that I told God that He's enough and actually live knowing that He is. I don't know why I'm nervous. The worst that could happen is that if I really dive into this, God will fill me. What's so bad about that? Because right now I worry that means that I won't get my Prince Charming, my Mr. Right. However, that's just defeating myself before I begin. God will fill me. I just have to surrender that vessel before Him. Okay loneliness, you're about to hit the road, so if you have a final tear to shed, I suggest you cry it now.

God, fill me up

Sunday, September 5, 2010


if i could open my mouth
and let notes of glory
tumble and fly
you would think
me beautiful.

if had toned thighs,
playboy polished
boobs and rear
that never jiggled,
if my hips
didn't sway
of their own accord
you would think
me beautiful.

if my teeth
were whiter
my feet smaller
if i didn't always
have a zit on my chin.
you would think
me beautiful.

perhaps if i didn't laugh
louder than a monkey,
maybe if kept my thoughts
to myself,
if i read less
and was shallow more
you would think
me beautiful.

if i were more
of a girl
who had yet to feel
the world behind her
and less of the woman
with bags under
her tearful eyes
you would find
me beautiful.

but i am none
of those things,
am i then
not beautiful?
in eyes that
watch stars burn
i am beautiful
beyond all
your thoughts
and your opinions.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Thoughts on Vision in Visionland this Summer....

This weekend was all about vision. And white water rafting. To say that I didn't have fun would be a lie. I had so much fun, considering I have never been white water rafting before. However, rather than write a blog dedicated to the fun that I had, I find myself thinking over vision more.

What vision is God giving me? I know that my passion lies with women and teaching them that their worth lies in God alone. But what is the next step? I love to write, I love to read, and I love to feel that the words God gives to me, speaks to the hearts of the people that I am talking to. But how do I take that, and live it out? Am I sure that is God's vision for me? What am I doing here on this earth if I am not carrying out God's vision for me? What am I doing right now if I'm not seeking out what that vision is? I'm wasting time. And since I am a slave to Christ, it's not my time to waste. When I surrendered, I took on the will of the Master, and His will involves vision. To not be seeking the will that He has for me, is to disobey the will of the Master.

una noche del rio (a night by the river)

basking in Your glory
i close my eyes to the
wonders of Your
roaring rivers
of rapturous rapids
race past my window
tracing the toes of
marvelous mountains
that touch the sky.
the Heavens abound
in starlight
perfect ambiance
to the sleepy, silhouetted
earth made of Your hands.

i am in awe of
the God who
whispers breezes
who created green
and blue
the world explodes
in song
of Your magnitude
they speak of the
whose essence
pours on this earth
like a waterfall
whose beauty sways
like a coursing river
whose might stands taller
than the mountains
Your beauty and imagination

i breathe it in
feeling my chest expand
with Your creation
i close my eyes
and let Your breeze
kiss my face
within my rapt

Friday, July 2, 2010

No Fuego Aqui

Last night was my dinner challenge for the internship. And considering that the stove did not catch on fire or blow up, I considered the challenge throughly accomplished. However, God has a higher standard of attainment and for that, I concede that our evening was quite perfect, if I am allowed to make the assumption that near perfection is obtainable.

As for problems, the biggest ones we had were the cake stuck to the bottom of the pan (to which the solution was to spoon it out onto the plate and cover it with a nice swirl of whipped cream) and we were ignorant in how to make coffee, which may have cost us some since coffee is equivalent to manna in this country. But since God was in control, our dinner was fantastic. Our first quest, Carolina and her mother showed up only 45 minutes late, on the standard of Dominican time, I thought they were quite early. On a side-note, one of the biggest difficulties that I have with the Dominican culture is the time difference. And it comes from their attitude versus our attitude. I for one, love their laid-back attitude, but it does play havoc with my internal United Statian way of upbringing. I simply need to be more flexible. But nonetheless, we ate our dinner of spaghetti and salad minus two guests. But it was fun. Carolina and her mother were so sweet and it made for a nice dinner. When we had finished, we went to take a piece of cake to our gate keeper, and when we reached the bottom of the steps that lead to the street, who should be coming up our walk, but one of our missing guests plus two friends.

So back up we went, taking Carlos, his sister Jacyln, and their cousin Moises. Our food was cold, our salad... a little wilted, but we sat the three of them on the couch and filled their hands with a plate of cake and a fork. About this time, the rest of our group decided to come back to the apartment. But it worked to our advantage because entertaining became a group thing. Our group had icebreaker questions which we posed to our Dominican brethren, and they in turn had a few questions for us. Conversations about what superhero powers we wanted, our greatest fears, embarrassments, weird things we had seen floated back and forth across the room in excited and loud spanish and english. It became an evening of bonding and breaking barriers as spanglish became our official language.

We praise God for a good dinner challenge. We praise God that we still have a stove. We praise God for good fellowship. And we praise God for San Pedro.

Dios te bendiga

Thursday, July 1, 2010

San Pedro Update

I don't really have anything to write at this moment. We're in the planning stages of all our ministries such as English camp and our outreaches.

For outreach, my group has the college campus, the beautifully landscaped USE. I am really excited to have the opporutunity to be able to minister to the college students, since its what I do back in the states. We have been asked to plan a Bible study on the campus, which makes me even more happy. I keep thinking that our girl's study back at Lewis has now been going for a year. Its grown and dwindled, but as a group we've grown closer to God and to each other. We've become each other's support and accountability which is something one needs during their college years. And thinking about the girl's Bible study back home makes me even more excited about the one we're going to start on the USE campus. We meant to visit it the other day, but it was closed. I am hoping that within the next day or two we can go and visit and do a Prayer walk through it.

Tonight is the dinner challenge for my group and my biggest prayer is for the stove not to blow up. I know I have left the door wide open for an entire array of other problems to arise, but I think that I could handle those. A stove catching fire/blowing up will send me over the end. Period. So in a few famous last words: tonight should be interesting.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

"In Him we live and move and have our being..."

Paul Addresses the Areopagus
22So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: "Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription To the unknown god. What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man,25nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place,27 that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28for

"'In him we live and move and have our being';

as even some of your own poets have said,

"'For we are indeed his offspring.'

29Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 30The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent,31because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead."

32Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said,"We will hear you again about this."

Sunday, June 27, 2010

San Pedro Sweats

Last night, I truly wanted to die. Part of this is a little over dramatic, part of it is not. Yesterday in some horrible twist, I got a fever. And even as I sit here and type, I can feel myself in a bit of a feverish sweat. I guess fevers are spread by viruses, but there is no other way I could have gotten sick. And it just infrutriates me because I came down here to serve, and instead I'm constrained to a bed where from the top of my hips to the tops of my knees are nothing but pounding masses of aches. My hips still hurt this morning. I had to miss youth night last night, and I'll have to miss church this morning. There is no way I can walk or ride to church in this condition. Or sit through an entire service. I hate being sick, and to be sick down here just breaks my heart.

However, yesterday, I did have the opportunity to walk around the college campus in san pedro. It's going to be fun getting to know the students here and ministering to them. They seem very friendly and open. I pray that God allows us to do great things with and for these students. However, right now I wish God would take away this sickness.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

God = Glory

So while I'm here in San Pedro, I decided to read through the book of Acts. And while I think I've already stated that, I am amazed about how much God is not only speaking to my heart about, but also the connections between my morning devotions and the books that we are reading as a group for the internship.

One of these books is called Radical and is by David Platt, a Pastor of a mega-church in Alabama. And even though he is blessed to have so many resources and people at his beckoning, for him its not enough. Platt is trying to reconcile the difference between the God of the American Dream and the God of the Bible. And what he shows, is that the God we learn and sing praises to is not the God that we proclaim to serve. It begs the reader to ask the question: who is God in my life? Is He the Father that is ever loving and forgiving? Or is He more? Is He the God that cannot abide sin? And the answer is a sound Biblical yes that He is both, but the fact reminds that our life and our faith doesn't show both. Platt writes that we are consumed by the fact that our relationship with God is not God centered at all, but me centered. Why? Because ask the question, "why do you serve God" and the typical response is, "because God loves me". And there it is, the me centered faith that we base our entire lives upon and proclaim to those around us. And while it cannot be denied that God does indeed love us, the answer is lacking. Yes God loves us, but He created us for His glory. In His image He made us. I have yet to find another person who gets as excited over an intimate creation with God as I do, but an important detail, nay, an important essential to remember is that we had that intimate creation so that God would be gloried. Our lives are not lived to bring glory to God as the most pivotal part of our day or existence. And yet, to not do so, is to live for God in ignorance.

I have a friend who is constantly reminding us that we are the very enemies of God. And I have to admit that when I first heard this, I was little confused. I thought that God loved us, and how many times have I sung, "I am a friend of God" and now I'm being told that I am an enemy of God? Two plus two was not equaling four. But now I'm starting to really understand. My sin, my disobedience makes me an enemy to the very God that create me. When Christ died on the cross, He wasn't just dying, but taking my sin, this thing that makes me a very enemy to my Creator, upon Himself. Christ became that enemy and threw it down. And yet, I still live in constant rebellion to God. I believe in Christ and for the blood that He gave, and yet I don't live it. I hope that now I can work more on my transformation to the image of Christ which leads to God being glorified, and less on retrograding back to the me centered Christianity that plagues this world.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Adventures in San Pedro.

Well, the last two days in San Pedro have been an experience to say the least.

I've been on missions trips and I've always rode a bus with 20 other people, that had to be counted and herded on and off while we watched the people we were ministering to zip by on buses and taxis. For the first time, I got to abandon all of that and learn bus routes. It was pouring the rain, but I haven't been waiting all winter and spring to let a little rain ruin the adventure that I've been praying for. So we took our leave in the rain armed with a map, a list for the scavenger hunt, and about 200 pesos. Our mission, buy one egg and ride 3 different bus routes that we had to trace on a map of San Pedro all the while keeping our egg safe. Our egg was purchased, named Alberta, and put in Hannah's soft, capable hands while we tried to figure out which bus went where. We also had many other objectives, such as finding out prices of certain items, finding points of interest, and so on. All in all, it was a day that I have never had before. There may have not been much ministry, but it was practical and applicable to living life as a real missionary. I cannot expect to be carted around like on regular trips, but I have to figure out how to navigate myself around this city whether it be by bus, taxi, or walking. And while it scares me a little to do that, I'm excited. I feel more like a real missionary and not just another kid that came down for the week.

And today was another applicable day. Our days start at 8:30 with Spanish class. And even though I just graduated with a degree in Spanish, I am enjoying the basics. Today we did pronunciations. It is a fact of life that I cannot roll my "r's". My tongue does not vibrate, no sound comes from my throat. I have accepted this fact. However, this fact is not readily accepted by other people so easily. So that made for an entertaining class today. And as with every Spanish class I have ever taken, I had to start it with prayer. When I changed my major at Marshall to Spanish, it wasn't about me at that time. I've always had an interest in the language, and I've always watched with awe and a tinge of jealousy when I would observe others translating. It was something I wanted to do, someone I wanted to be. However, my switch to Spanish wasn't for those reasons; at least not primarily. I've known and committed my to missions in Costa Rica. I fought it for years, but finally gave in and acknowledge that passion that beats inside of me for the foriegn field, for the Latino field. And I know that if God sends me there, I have to know Spanish. Its as simple as that. I could either learn it in school and prepare myself for God's plans, or waste 4 years of my life doing something that wouldn't help me. So I decided to see where God would take me with this and I changed it to Spanish. It has not been easy, and many times I wanted to quit. That is when I started to pray before I went to any Spanish class. I gave this class to God before ever walking through the door. And God used me. And He's using me now. So while I may get flustered, I may feel that I can't do it, I know that I can't, but God can.

After Spanish class, I was given the opportunity to go to the dress shop with a few other girls. I've been dreaming about this shop since I went there last year. Inside, the girls and I helped to reorangize the dresses by size. It was hard work and more than once I thought of the show "Say Yes to the Dress" and how those women spend everyday carrying those heavy dresses from room to room. But here, it was small and had no air conditioning. It was hot, and the dresses touching your skin made you feel hotter, but once everything was said and done, I felt great. It was a small favor that helps the ladies in the shop minister to one more person, and that was what mattered.

After the dress shop, I finally got to do what I wanted to do ever since I first came to the Dominican on my first trip: ride a motorcycle taxi. The other girls rode together, but I volunteered to ride on one alone. My driver was the only one who knew where the apartment was so we shot off first. I felt a moment of nervousment when I looked behind me and realized that the others weren't behind us as we flew past other motorcycles, people, and buses. But that passed when we stopped at a corner to let the others catch up. From then on, I never felt a moment of fear, but exhilaration. The wind whipped through my hair, San Pedro and life shot past, and I felt more happiness than I have in awhile. I've been dreaming and yearning for adventure these past few months when so many things felt stagnant and bland. Everything so planned and normal, but for these past few days, I've done things that I've never done before, and it has challenged me. I like a challenge. I'm not the kind of girl who wants to ride the backseat as everyone leads her from place to place. I'm the kind of girl who sees something and isn't satisfied until she gets to do it. I crave that edge feeling. And I'm in love with San Pedro, because here, its all an adventure.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Starting a Trip in Acts

Yesterday may have been a rough day, but I made it. I may have shed a few tears, had a little family airport drama, my suitcase may have ripped, I may have lost my staightner, and I may have a shirt that is slightly covered in puke, but I’m here. And even though yesterday as I sat on the plane, my head pounding and having someone else for once be the mommy that I usually am, there was a few seeds of doubt as to what I was I thinking. However, most of that was wiped away once we met Chad and he asked us what we wanted for dinner. The first choice out of his mouth was burger king. I could have cried. I got to eat a whopper, one of my most favorite things in the world, my first night here. It helped to relieve some of the trepidation that I had been feeling on the plane.

The other interns seem nice. I am both excited and nervous to get to know them. The other girls all seem so young and have so much school ahead of them. I’ m no stranger to knowing that I’m older than everyone around me, but it also makes me feel like I’m home. It will be a good six weeks. And I know that because of what GOD has done to get me here and because I’m both willing and ready to be used by HIM. I decided to read through the book of Acts while I’mhere, since its about the first missions trips. GOD brought to my attention in chapter 1 where they are replacing Judas. There were two men, Matthias and Barsabas, both were willing to be used, but when the disciples prayed and asked GOD, HE chosed Matthias. GOD knows who HE wants to use, but GOD can only choose who is willing. I’m willing and I believe that GOD has chose me to be here, and to serve HIM. And while I am scared to be here, I don’t feel worthy enough to be here, and while I harbor some feelings that I shouldn’t be here, the truth of the matter is that I am here. I’m in the Dominican Republic. And I’m here with a willing heart that is ready to be conformed and transformed to what GOD has planned for me. This is the adventure that I’ve been praying and dreaming for. This is the adventure that I’m ready to live.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Secret Smile

i look at your picture
a smile born without planning
planting on my lips,
feelings quickening
that were never meant to exist,
growing inside me
thoughts and emotions
i'm not ready for,
didn't plan on wanting,
on wanting you...
this little secret growing inside,
not wanting to show
how your smile impregnates
me with bundled joy.
so i'll smile to myself
i'll glow from within,
keeping this tiny secret
from everyone.

consumed by the Son

let the light of the Son
dance upon my face,
flashing freckles of radiance
dazzling to any eye.
let it swirl around my
down my arms
to my hands.
little hands
with tiny fingers.
hands made big and strong
by You alone.

let the light of the Son
shoe my feet.
let lightening spark
from my toes
as i stand for You.
let no one mistake
my walk to Your

let me be engulf,
in the light of the son
till there is nothing,
left of me.

Friday, June 18, 2010


I leave on Tuesday for the Dominican Republic. I leave in 2 days for 6 weeks. I have been waiting, and praying, and thinking for this for a long time. It became a reality back around Christmas, but it has been a desire long before that. For me, the Dominican represents where my passion for missions was first ignited. I still remember the first village we went to.

I remember getting off the bus and looking in amazement at all the kids jumping up and down, screaming in spanish, pointing at the Gringos that came to play. Those kids were beautiful. Dark hair and skin, with big brown eyes, and smiles that carried all the joy and brightness of the sun. The girls had their hair divided in big braids tied off with big, brightly colored plastic hair bands completing the island attitude that these people exhume. We split into groups and were sent to find kids, instructed not to come back unless we all had at least two kids since we each had two hands. Coming back, the church started to fill up. Some of the older kids went closer to the front where the bongo drums were kept. They began to pat out a carribean rythm and lifted their voices in simple songs of praise for God. I sat in one of the wooden pews with a little girl in my lap, squeezed in between even more little girls, all with their hair fixed, some with shoes, some in dresses, most in whatever had been found, all dirty, and all excited. There had been a small squirmish in who got to sit in my lap. They all kept touching my skin, patting my hair, and rambling to me in a language that I couldn't understand. Their laughter and smiles were contagious. I have never seen or heard a sincerity that can match those of the children and parents in the church that day. It makes you realize that having nothing can never take away from the hope and the joy that can fill the soul.

And now I have the opportunity to be there for 6 weeks. I have the opportunity to really be in these people's lives and not just a fleeting shadow. It excites me and scares me at the same time. I know that God is going to show me amazing things, but I also know that with amazing things come hard lessons. And I know the lessons that I need to learn. I don't want to learn them, because they require so much of myself. There's things I know that I need to let go, that there are things I need to accept, and things that I need give up control on. There is no doubt that God will burden me with these lessons. Even here I can feel them and I can feel the importance and the difficulty that they encompass. But I don't wish that God would take them away. I know that there are things that I need to fix, and in order to be closer to God, I have to face them. No matter how much I am afraid to.

So here is my prayer, that I don't hold back and that God never takes His Hand away from my creation and my growth in becoming more like Him. I know I have chosen the more difficult of the two paths, but I have never been one to take the easy way out. And for everything, there must be a price. I know the price that has been paid for me, and for that price, I have found myself enslaved to the most beloved and kind Master who loves me enough to make me grow. It is in this Master that I place my chains. I bow before Him as He breaks them and declares me His. It is in this Power that I place my trip and I surrender myself to.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


I don't feel like sleeping tonight. Now that I have finished my cleaning spur which included emptying the fridge and filling a trash bag of things that I no longer want to deal with, I find my eyes closing shut and my mouth opening wide, trying to exhale the sleepiness from my body. But I don't want to sleep. I have too much on my mind to sleep. Too many thoughts swirling in that chaotic mind of mine. A blessing or a curse I'm not sure. What a wonderful thing to be able to think and expand the creations of the mind, and what malicious creatures we find lurking in the cobweb corners and dusty paths. And it is because of this "blessing" that I don't want to sleep. I don't want these thoughts to find their way into my dreams and turn what little pleasantness I conjure in my unconsciousness into a nightmare that shakes me awake. Should I be denied those small, sweet sensations of dreamlike quality? These things that I see in my dreams are of the things that I want the most when I'm awake. Except on nights like these. Nights when I know my loaded brain, that overthinks and overworks its already tired and strained synapses, will throw me under the proverbial bus. These are the nights when I long for the one thing I feel most denied to me.

Someone told me tonight to ask GOD specifically for what I want. But I've tried that road, and what I want belongs to someone else. Whether or not that was the best thing for me (I imagine it was better, but can we ever know in this infinite reality that is interpreted and stored by a finite brain?) is not the main focus of my thoughts. I think that I'm afraid to ask for what I want specifically. Because I know what I've been asking for, and it has yet to come. And on top of that fear, I think that I'm also convinced on some level that I don't deserve what I want. And that is one conviction that rattles the very makeup of my soul. Because how can one ever justify what one deserves? It will always be bias and therefore of no use.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Stitch in Time Preserves Women's Lives

When I am working on a cross stitch, the thing I love to do more than anything is to run my fingers over that stitches that I have already made. My fingertips lightly distinguish between full and half stitches, the cloth versus the thread, and in the end when I have stitched the details, the tiny back stitches that illuminate the figures and details. I frequently turn my cross-stitch over and note each stitch on the back. I strive to make my backs as neat as the front, being told that a neat back was a sign of a master stitcher, though I never stopped to ask myself why I would care to be considered a master stitcher. Once my work is finished, I iron and frame my cross-stitch, therefore the only person who knows that the back is neat is myself. But ever since I was told the secret to knowing who was a master stitcher and who was not, I have prided myself on having a neat back.
For me, cross-stitching has never been about my identity. Sure, I know that sometimes I am identified as the weird girl who sits in the library with a hoop on her lap, thread in her mouth trying the find the eye of her needle. But I never considered that it could be something that preserved my identity. All I know is that I never grow tired of pausing when I finish a particular section to inspect my work and try to picture the parts that are still left and how they correspond to whatever I just knotted off, whether it is the background, a face, or a flower. It can be ever so small, but I know that when I pull the picture of the finished product out of my giant zip lock baggy, and compare the advertiser’s work to mine own, that the smallest detail that I just stitched is important to the overall picture.
And yet, to women around the world, cross-stitching, or any kind of needlework and embroidery was not a way to kill time. It went deeper than that. Just as the cloth and thread work together to create picture or a saying, so too do women use this skill to create a picture or a saying that reflects who they are. In today’s world, I can go to any arts and crafts store and purchase a cross-stitch kit that contains everything that I would need to create a masterpiece. And even though there are specific instructions that are supposed to be followed in order to replicate the picture on the front, I often find myself not always following the instructions to the letter. I may switch colors or add and delete stitches as I see fit. I never really thought that much about it, but I can see that these tiny changes can tell a person a lot about myself, such as I may not be able to completely throw away the rules in life, but I often change or ignore them to a small degree to suit myself. And I think that for many women, they can find ways to express themselves and their personalities through their craft as well, especially women in early to mid America where their voices were never fully allowed to transcend the public or private sphere. Even though the private sphere has always been described as the women’s realm, I believe that even there their voices could be stifled by husbands or fathers. And because of that, I really believe that women not only found themselves in their needlework, but that others around and after them found these women within the needlework as well.
For this project, as I looked through the catalog of available textiles near the end of the book, I was delighted to find a sampler from the 1820s. From the picture, it was easy to see that this was definitely not a cross-stitch that I was used to making, but I was still intrigued with the notion that I would be able to examine a piece of needlework by a woman that had lived a century before me.
Once I arrived at the museum, I quickly selected a pair of gloves and looked around for the area where this sampler was sitting. Once I had found it, I sat my purse down and pulled a chair up to the table where the sampler laid. My first notion was the sheer size of it. It was longer than me, and even though I am a short person, the fact that this thing was longer than five and a half feet made me wonder what it would be like to work on it. My cross-stitches have never been any bigger than an 8 by 12 picture frame, and yet, this would have been worked on as it fell out of her lap onto the surface or floor where she was working. I could picture her maybe sighing as she shifted it either by onto her lap or away from her as she worked on different sections.
Across the middle of this piece are the words “Saravin, G.S.T. Crown C” and across the top are the letters, “BENSWELLI”. The shapes and designs covering the cloth are reminiscence of snowflakes and small trees all stitched in pink and blue cotton thread. As I sat and looked at it, I have to say that it was not the designs or the words that caught my eye, but instead, what I really wanted to see, was the back of this sampler. I wanted to see what kind of stitcher this woman was. My fingers itched to flip it over, but first, I needed to look at the front and get an idea of what it was this woman was sewing. As with my cross-stitches, I ran my fingertips over the mixture of thread and cloth, smiling at the feel of familiar textures.
I almost felt guilty about what I was about to do, but I had to, I had to see it. I flipped the sampler over and smoothed it out. I was impressed. I found one of the snowflake designs from the front, and ran my fingers over the neat grouping of threads. It was so fluid from the back. I pulled it closer to my face, wondering if I could figure out the starting point and trace her work all the way around the design. I was excited when I found what I assumed was the beginning. It was a piece of thread looped around and underneath a few others without a significant knot. It was how my starting points looks when I run my thread underneath the first cross and secure it. I was delighted seeing that a woman from the 1820s started her stitch the same way I started mine. From this point, it was surprisingly easy to work my way from one stem of the snowflake, to the middle, to the next stem, back to the middle, and so on. I noticed that she ran out of thread in some spots. There would be a small, neat knot next to another piece of thread looped under and around that knot which would then be stitched into the next part of the design. I kept working my way around the snowflake, picturing this woman sitting in a chair by the fire or window with her hoop in place and her needle flashing in the light. Her hand would have that steady up and down motion, rhythmic to something inside of her. I like to imagine her hand diving down, her needle grasped between her strong fingertips that have done this thousands of times before. She would have plunged her needle halfway through the cloth, and quick as a flash, her hand would go from holding the needle to appear underneath her hoop, to grab it from underneath, pulling it through. She would watch her thread being pulled tighter and shorter through the hole, crossing the thread she had already stitched into place. She would continue like this until the snowflake was finished, until the light was gone, until her neck and back slightly ached from sitting straight and looking down at her lap.
I would be lying if I said I knew this woman’s name, or her family history. I looked, but I would also be lying if I said I looked really hard. For some reason, I did not feel that this woman would have wanted me to look so extensively for her name. If she wanted it to be remembered, I would assume that she would have stitched it plainly into the sampler. I know that according to Ulrich that women used their needlework to leave a legacy of themselves, but I wondered if perhaps this women’s talent was her legacy. I feel that all she wanted to be known about herself would and could be found in this sampler. Perhaps she wanted her work admired and not her self as a person. Perhaps this sampler was a celebration of the art and not of herself. If that was the reason, I would have to say that I could understand that. In my cross-stitches, I never put my name. I never include anything that tells who I am, but I would hope that within my stitching, someone could have an idea of who I am.
So what does my cross-stitches say about me? For starters, I never work on anything that big. My pieces are barely longer than a cubit if I may be Biblical about it. And I think one of the first things someone would notice about my pieces is that they are all geishas. One may conclude that I love Japanese history and culture, but that would be a lie as well. It’s not that I like Japanese culture, but I love geisha culture and tradition, especially the art and skill of wearing kimono. I find kimonos beautiful and elegant, and hence I find the women who wear them beautiful and elegant. These women always look so delicate in stature and graceful in action, with their hair piled on the tops of their heads, and their hands so demure in the simple act of holding a fan or an umbrella. I hope that people would look beyond the geisha and see that my stitches are even and neat, and connect that to the neatness I try to keep in my own life. I hope that they would see that I have been stitching for awhile, and that my backs are neat, though far from perfect, showing that I still have a way to go. I wonder what all someone would gather simply by looking at my pieces. I stood in my room and looked at the two framed stitches above my television. I wondered what someone from about 150 years looking at these would think of me. Would they do like I did and imagine me sitting somewhere peaceful working on completing the kimono? Would they think about the kind of person I was? Would they connect my work to perhaps something they were working on as well?
Studying textiles is a glimpse into the very lives of women who have gone before us. So much has changed since primitive women figured out how to spin fibers into thread and take that thread to make a covering, even if what that covering covered was questionable. And then learning that women perfected that primitive weaving to make large pieces of cloth to cover, drape, and wrap themselves in. And from those primitive drapings, fashion comes into play. Now people just don’t make clothes, they design them, and compete for best dressed. And from those early court fashions, industry springs up and keeps moving forward until present day when I, a girl who cannot figure out how to recreate a regency dress to save her life can still appreciate the work and the progress that went in it to create that dress. And then I can take it a step forward and connect it to my own cross-stitching.
At this point, I realize now that what was once a simple hobby to help me relieve my stress is also a way preserve a part of my identity. It may not be my name, Bible verse, favorite color, or a popular saying. It goes deeper than that. Needlework takes all the different threads of your life and allows them to be weave and sewed together to make a picture of something great and beautiful, something that can be used to decorate and make better. This is what I have gained from my museum project and this class. I have learned that simple textiles are not just simple textiles; they are the very identities and ingenuity of the women that have walked this earth before us. It reminds of a saying that I once read, “In order to understand any woman, you must understand the woman that came before her.”This saying has impacted my life more than I ever thought. When I look at a textile, be it a string skirt, a regency dress, or a sampler, I’m looking at the art and skill of a woman before me. To understand their textile is to understand a part of them, to understand a part of them is to preserve a part of them, and to preserve a part of them is make them live another day. This is not just the significance of textile or women’s study, but the significance of us a people, to remember those who came before us and enrich our lives with the lessons and memories that they have left behind. This is what I have learned not just from this project, but from this class.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Poker with a Dragon

her tower is a cave
hand dug within the black earth
stalactites kiss stalagmites
giving birth to prison bars
stone shackles holding her fast.

she plays poker with a dragon
bluffing her way through
the cards and the game
wagering years of entrapment
with a deck of jokers
knowing her prince
isn't fighting
isn't coming for her
the broken, the practical,
the mother or friend,
the good but never good enough
princes climb towers
lifting themselves up,
they don't descend to caves
of yellow mud, stony walls,
and salty tears
so she'll fight the dragon,
fight him,
and never win.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Ballad of Rameses

Who is this stranger upon my mother's knee?
This baby getting the love meant for me?
She sings softly to him and smiles
a grin only I use to bring, and I'm driven wild.
"Rameses, my love," she coos to me,
"you have a new baby brother, come and see."
I clamor to her lap and sneaked a glare,
if only then I had realized what would become then and there.

Who is this teenage ruffian standing beside me?
dressed alike, raised together, kings to be,
we race chariots recklessly, celebrate festivals as brothers,
for brothers we are, and brotherly love we share for each other.
Temple rituals, scribe work, education we share,
afterlife complete with religious belief we prepared.
brother of my heart, I was perfectly content with you,
never would I ever imagine that you were born a Hebrew.

Who is this young man whose life is upside down?
chest heaving, murder on his hands, entire persona a frown.
He kneels in the dust, crying mud, shaking his head.
"Rameses," he whispers, "I am a lie," he rips off his ring, it's Egypt he sheds.
I tried to keep him, to make him stay, to make it right,
but he pushed me away and began to run, to run out of my sight.
"Moses!" I call, hoping to see him come back and stay,
but all there remained was emptiness and my own despair, my dismay.

Who is this dusty stranger before me and my throne?
It looks likes Moses, lost brother of my heart (but not my bone).
It is Moses! How strange he looks. A Shepard now I see,
he has a beard and carries a staff and stares at me
with eyes that have seen wonders and glory
I go to embrace him and beg to hear his story.
But he has not come to relive the past with me
He is a very different man then what he used to be...

Who is this man who demands that I let his people go?
His people? They are my slaves and I demand that they remain so.
He warns me against a hardened heart, "brother, don't," he pleads,
but Moses seems to have forgotten all kindness for me,
and brings plagues of devastation to my kingdom and my rule,
but I will not relent, I alone remain strong, dignified and cool.
But my brother sends a plague of death to my son's bedroom door.
And as I hold my lifeless son, I bid him leave and bother me no more.

Who is this man that I am chasing with every ounce of hatred in me?
Once my brother, my companion. Now my prey, my hatred. My worst enemy.
But once again he has left me, and now I found myself standing on one side
of a huge divide, yelling his name into the void that he left behind.
"Moses!" I scream. I fall to my knees, and glancing down, my reflection I see.
Who is this broken man looking back at me?
Who will always be known as the one who heart God harden,
saw the works of the Lord, but whose crimes will never be pardoned.

Who is this man I see?

the road to the well

slowly picking her way
along the trodden path
a badly balanced bucket
over her head
on the road to the well.

no chattering birds or women
to cheer her along the way
not when the sun is high
there's no one
to notice,
to laugh,
to talk
on the road to the well.

there's a man
setting on his own
opposite of herself
his eyes reflect the sun
they behold her
shaking form
on the road at the well.

"give me drink"
his only words
reaching out
to a woman who walked
wanting solitude and attention
on the road at the well.

"i will give you
living water"
water not drawn
but received,
water that forever quenches,
flowing from an eternal spring
on the road at the well.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


write me a lovesong,
sung to my inner melody.

your fingers
strum the neck
of the guitar.
my ole blue eyes
sizzling and bright.
the strings of your hands
composing the harmony.

i'll try not to smile
as the lyrics swirl
and slide over us.
hair falling
across your brow,
you look up,
eyes as burning notes,
smile like a vibrating cord...

oh write me a lovesong!
something played only for me.
let me captivate you,
as your music captures me.

Extravagant Love

wrap Your fingers
around my heart.
entwine them,
tug forward.
let me tumble,
head first,
into Your love,
eyes opened

wrap an arm
around my waist,
like a cord,
tying me
closely to You,
tightening the vaccuum,
letting nothing else exist.

breath in my soul,
breath out Your love.
Your heart thumps,
i feel my name.
eyes closed
i see Your words,
beautiful, darling,
lovely creation.

why do You love me?

Beauty in the Broken

taken from a november journal entry:

I don't want to be broken anymore. Why this thought at this moment is something I can't understand. I'm not depressed or emo; I was driving home from class, going to lov3 and I broke down. Tears streamed down my cheeks, the smell of wet makeup filled my nose, and words spilled out of my mouth, "GOD, please don't break me anymore. I don't want to be broken more. Please don't break me." Where did this come from? And when I got to church I kept asking myself, "What beauty is there in the brokeness?" Which leads me to wonder, is there beauty in brokeness? Or is there beauty in the repair? Or if there is beauty in the brokeness, is it hidden in the shattering of the pieces or the stillness of them? For if it's in the shattering of the pieces, then does that beauty itself shatter? Then would it too need to be fixed? Or if beauty is in the stillnesss of the shattered pieces, then can we only be beautiful if we are smashed and shattered into a million pieces? I guess both situations would depend on what beauty is? What is beauty anyway? It can't be universal, for there are as many opinions upon its subject as blades of grass in a a meadow, or grains of sand along a salty bottom. It has been said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but what if no one ever sees me?

"There's beauty in brokenss".
Ecclesiastes 7:3 says, "Sorrow is better than laughter, for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better."
I don't understand. Sorrow is better than laughter? A sad countenance makes a happy heart? I can't help but wonder if the Preacher was hinting at this beauty in brokeness. If we allow GOD to break us, we have an opportunity to grow closer to GOD. But must we be broken in order to do so? Why is that what it takes?
Mercy Me sang, "if that's what it takes to praise YOU, then JESUS bring the rain". I don't want rain. I don't want brokeness. I just want GOD to pull me into HIS embrace, kiss my head, call me beautiful, lovely, beloved, and dance with me. Do I have to be broken for that? But I guess a dance isn't going to fix it all. If there does exist a beauty in the broken, there must be loveliness in the repair. Maybe that is the time to dance with GOD; to waltz along the path of the galaxies in the sky where stars become disco balls and planets become ballrooms. Perhaps when you're broken, the only thing you can do is wrap your arms around the neck of GOD and hold as tight as you can. Is that beauty? External beauty external of yourself? I guess that in order to fully find beauty in brokeness, you have to realize and know what beauty is. I'm not sure if I fully understand what beauty is. And as for being broken, I don't want to be broken. I've had enough brokeness and enough sadness. I just want to have happiness come and surprise me. For GOD to come around the corner with a bow shrouded box with a tag that says, "just for you" and "with Love, GOD". I want a present from GOD, just for me with no brokeness inside.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Regency Travesty

By the time Europe got to the 1800s, the textile industry had exploded, and the making of clothing was a full scale economy of its own. During this time, people had access not only to different textiles and materials, but also had access to already made clothing, or they had access to people who could make the clothing for them. With all this access, the world of fashion had been created. When fashion first becomes, fashionable, for lack of a better word, it followed the court of the royals whether that court was English or French. At least for the most part. Then there was the invention of the fashion magazine or plates. Now people had access to all the latest trends and could duplicate them in their own town or village far from court life (although by the time fashion plates were being published, fashion was dictated not from the court, but from the elite class).
During the 1800s, fashion had gone through many different changes and silhouettes. However, during this time, there was a woman named Jane Austen who included many different aspects and styles of fashion in her novels. Austen also wrote many letters to her sister that included gossip and fashion. From these letters and novels, one can construct the fashion styles of her day.
In the early 1800s, the era was known as the Regency Era and the Empire dress was the main fashion trend. The Empire dress was inspired by Grecian-Roman style. It was made usually from muslin or lawn, which would cling to the body, emphasizing the natural feminine form. The dresses were preferably white, but since white was so hard to keep clean, many women saved their white dresses for the evening or important events. During the day, some women preferred to wear pastels. Another important aspect of the Empire dress was the fact that the waist line started directly under the bust line. The dress would be gathered under the bust line and then fall to the ground in a straight line, forming a long column. The neckline would be cut very low, with a tight bodice forming the back. The dress also had cap sleeves that were attached to the bodice. This way, the dress would restrict arm movement somewhat and it would make the wearer appear daintier in their movements.
Since the dress was so sheer (it was more like wearing a night gown in public), undergarments also changed to be adapted to the dress. One important change was that of the corset. Before the Regency era, corsets were made of whale bone and laced up so tight that it would often hinder a woman from breathing correctly. During the Regency era, the corset went from the hip to the breast. It also had straps over the shoulders, making it more like the modern day bra. During the day, some women would also add a chemisette to their dress. A chemisette is like a little shirt that went under the dress to cover up the cleavage from the low cut Empire dress. Also under the dress, some women opted to wear pantaloons. Since the Empire dress clung to the body, the pantaloons acted like long underwear to give women an element of modesty with their dress. The pantaloons were usually flesh colored so that they would not stand out from the dress.
For my project, I first decided to construct a mini Empire dress, just so I could get the full experience of what Austen and other women of the middle class would have done to create the fashions that they saw in the fashion plates. While I figured that women like Austen would have access to not only the fashion plates, but also access to readymade textiles like Muslin or lawn, from which they would purchase from the local shop, I went to Wal-Mart in search of my “plate” and my textiles. The textile was easy. There was a variety of textiles to pick from. I choose a simple white muslin and moved my way over to the patterns section to find my “plate”. I figured that I would not find a pattern for an Empire dress, but I found another one that had a similar silhouette and hoped that I could use it as an outline for my dress. Once home, I laid out all my materials and grew excited to get started. However it seemed that from the beginning I was doomed to not make a dress. At first my idea had been to reduce the pattern to at least half its size, but was unaware that the pieces in the pattern were not easily sketched to simply a reduced size as I had planned. The short version of this experiment ended up with me sitting in the floor with a lot of penciled measurements, cut up pieces of poster board, and jagged pieces of muslin that didn’t even come close to the pictures of the pattern, all the while using some choice words.
As I sat and looked at what would never become the Empire dress I had pictured in my mind, I wondered how women in the 1800s could simply look at a fashion plate and know how to make the dress that they wanted. I wondered about the women who didn’t have the time or the talent. I assumed that they could have gone to a dress maker, but wondered how much that would cost to a woman who was simply a part the middle class. Perhaps more than what she would be willing to spend for simply a day dress. She may have wanted to go to a dress maker for her evening gown, but a simple day gown I assumed she could make it herself, unless she was utterly hopeless such as I was. I then thought of how even if a woman could make a dress herself, then she might go to a milliner to add the little touches to her gown. Maybe some light embroidery at the sleeve or waist. I wondered what little something she would choose. I would have liked small flowers around the sleeves of my dress, and since I was unable to make it, I could imagine anything I wanted on it.
With the pieces of what should have been my dress lying in disarray around me, I wondered what other part of my project I could butchered. I faintly thought about hats and undergarments, but as I stroked the ravaged muslin, I decided that it probably would not be the best thing to recreate another garment of any type. Although I was interested in trying to recreate a Regency corset and matching pantaloons, I knew that to follow down that road would end in yet another travesty. This is when I turned to the safe, friendly poster board project in hopes that I could save my fashion project.
All in all, I have to say that I have learned a lot from this little project. Perhaps the Empire dress was merely a passing fad, but I learned more than just this dress. I mean, I know about undergarments now too. But that’s just icing on the cake. I learned that fashion meant the same thing to women in the 1800s just as much as it means to me now. Austen had fashion plates; I have magazines and What Not to Wear. Austen had dress makers; I have Kohl’s. Perhaps the greatest difference is that Austen had the freedom to make her clothes what she wanted them to be, and I have the ability to buy my clothes however I want them. And in the end, is that really that big a difference? I don’t think so. Which is why in the end, perhaps my attempt to recreate an actual Empire dress wasn’t such a horrible disaster that I thought it was. Because in the end, I achieved what I wanted to do, which is try to walk in the shoes of women such as Austen and see what it felt like to create my own clothes. And while I didn’t create my own dress, I can still relate to what these women did, and how these women felt. And in the end, I have to say, that’s the real source of knowledge, experience.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

never enough

never enough.
of the
the need.
never enough
what you want
me to be.
of me
never can make
you see
enough of
my beauty.
never enough
never enough
never enough
never enough...

Monday, April 5, 2010

Reborn in Glorious Slavery

i was born a slave,
shackled to a sentence
to a crime that was before me,
temptation occurred
to a people i never met,
yet i am one of them,
born of their flesh and deed,
born in their slavery.

mister nature
(his other name ole sinful),
by chains did lead me
up to the hilltop.
stopping at the bottom,
he pulled me close,
whispered in my ear
how master Death
had called up my debt.
"a slave cannot pay"
the only plea from my lips,
"someone gots to pay"
slithered through his breath.

i was born a slave,
shackled to a sentence
to a crime that was before me...

up the hill,
a treacherous climb
though the path wide.
i gasp in pain,
the chains too tight,
mister nature leading fast,
too fast, too strong.
i want to cry, to plead...
ole sinful merely laughs at my misery.

temptation occurred
to a people i never met...

the top of the hill
under my feet.
master Death waiting
my debt in his right hand,
ole sinful gives up my shackles
into master's other fist.
the heavy bonds
wrapped around his bony knuckles,
the air is still,
there is no sound
here on the eternal edge
there is only the anti-quickening,
that sensation of life ending.

yet i am one of them...

shoved to my knees
bowed low before master Death,
life ebbs, greyness descends
like a curtain on a stage
there's a pause in the air,
enter a man stage right
radiating pure, white light.
master Death shudders,
ole sinful has fled.
the brilliant stranger stands
like a rod before a weed.
He commanded without a plea
"the slave shall be mine,
I'm ready to pay"
master Death snickers
dry like dust, yet greasy,
"the price is too great,
its more than a mere arm or leg"
"I'm ready to pay in blood"
was all He said.

born in flesh and deed...

the auction for my soul
has come and gone,
fought without swords or guns.
the strong suitor gave His all,
Death never stood a chance,
the curtain need not to descend,
but tears instead.
my fear has turned to hope,
Death whittled down,
extends my shackles to my victor
who breaks them
and takes me by the hand.
"salvation has come
in freedom you shall stand"
"i rather bow.
bonded to You
as a saved slave,
shackled by grace and love,
bounded by mercy from above"

reborn in glorious slavery.

Slaves to Christ

What is the difference between being a slave and a servant? Slaves are bought, they are subject to one master who has complete control over that slave, their will is becomes subject to the will of the master. Servants, however, are not bought, but receive a wage and have control over whether or not they stay in order to serve. Why is it that Paul writes in Romans 6:18, that we are slaves to righteousness? Do we not consider ourselves "servants" of Christ? Should we instead be thinking of ourselves as "slaves" as Christ? And if indeed, we see ourselves as "slaves" to Christ, how does our relationship with Christ change? Let's think back to the differences between a slave and a servant, how do these definitions change our perspective?

First of all, slaves are bought and bound. We cannot deny the fact that once we accept Christ, we have acknowledged that price that He paid and that while we are no longer bound to death, yet we still find ourselves fighting the ties of sin. And while we yearn to be bond completely in Christ, we find ourselves wrapped in the chains of the flesh.

And yet, time and time again, we are reminded of our freedom that we now have in Christ. We talk of not being under the law, but free to love under the law of grace. We talk of being slaves to Christ, but free in His righteousness. Are we free slaves? It seems to be easier to think of us as slaves to sin and then we become a free people because Christ paid for us on the cross and released us from our slavery. Is that not the picture of the Israelites in slavery under Pharaoh? And yet, while there is truth in that, could the picture not also be of us as slaves to sin, bought by Christ, and then while we were freed from the price of sin, we became slaves to Christ in protection of sin and death? Perhaps this idea of slavery is more akin to the slave days of America old, where slaves where auctioned off by their old masters to a new master whose law and rule they would have to submit too. I can see the poor slave led shackled to the podium, timid by the mere sight of their old, cruel master. I like to picture that their face lights up when they hear the kind, yet authoritative voice of Christ as He yells out His bid. The slave knows that he will remain a slave, but knows that he will also be living under a new law with a kind, loving master. Is this a more complimentary view of what happens to us on the threshold of salvation? Are we put on the block by our master of death, punishment, and sin? Opened then to the bidding of those present, and to our hope and happiness, we are bought by the Master of Creation? And in being bought, the chains that bound us to death, are passed to the new Master, who breaks them, and declares us a new slave? A slave of grace and mercy?

I guess in the end, we are left with this duality of discipleship. We are not necessarily freed slaves or free slaves. We cannot be freed slaves because we still have a master, and we cannot be free slaves because we came with a price. Therefore the conclusion of this duality has to be that we are slaves with freedom. We find ourselves enslaved to Christ, but the irony is that the only true freedom lies within Christ. The only true freedom from sin and hell are through Christ. We enslave ourselves to be free. In our minds, this is entirely against human nature. We have this negative connection to slavery, when in reality, slavery can be a positive thing. Perhaps we think of shackles in only a Charles Dickens Marley and Marley context, when perhaps these chains that bounds us to Christ are like the chains we wear around our necks and affix the two perpendicular lines in a primary shape of redemption and salvation. Perhaps our chains to Christ are like our cross necklace that announce to the world our connection and belief in the cross of Christ.

Perhaps in the end, we must remember that our discipleship is our conforming to Christ. He becomes our Master as we become the slave and we breath to serve Him. We cannot serve Jesus as our lord unless we are slaves. Jesus cannot be a Master without slaves. Just as there can be no redemption without sin, we must first be slaves to sin before we can be slaves to righteousness as Paul wrote. Without a price to be paid, there can be no purchase, without the punishment of sin, there can be no Savior, without the chains of sin, there can be no chains of righteousness. We must recognize in our relationship that we were enslaved, we were condemned, we were unable to save or free ourselves, we were heading for hell. But then we were bought, we were loosed, we were freed, we were conformed, we are enslaved. Just as Paul writes in Philippians, that Jesus took on the appearance of a slave, humbling himself, if we want to be Christlike, we must be slaves. We must bound ourselves to Christ. Slaves to God bring Holiness (Romans 6:22), Holiness is conforming to Christ, conforming to Christ is to conform to slavery (Philp. 2:5-8), to conform to slavery is to gain Holiness, to gain Holiness is to be Christlike, to be Christlike is to be Christian, Q.E.D. to be Christian is to be a slave.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

What Will Happen?

what will happen
when i can no longer move forward?
when sadness overwhelms me?
when tiredness turns to exhaustion
and i can no longer breath or move?
what will happen
when i am no longer dependable?
when my hands fail to act?
when my feet feel glued to the floor
and i cease to respond?
what will happen
when my confidence dwindles?
when my mind begins to fade
and i continually wonder in past impressions?
what will happen
when i lose myself?
when my essence goes flat?
when practicality turns to causality
and i shudder and stop?
what will happen
when i can no longer move forward?
and i hibernate inside myself?
what will happen?

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall... Help Me to See Christ in Me Afterall

How does the world see you?
How do you see yourself?
When you look in the mirror, what do you see? Do you see someone of worth? Someone who is considered "good"? Someone beautiful? Someone you like? What do you see?

One time, I was looking in the mirror, and I hated everything I saw and I thought I saw. However, was what I looking at true? Was my reflection who I really was? Was this a true reflection of myself? We often lament how we wish we could see others the way that God sees them. We wish to see with God's Eyes, but then we never take the time to look at ourselves with God's Eyes. How can we ever be women of virtue, women of God, if we never look at ourselves as God sees us? In order to understand our reflection, we must either change the mirror, or change the eyes.

How does God see us? When God looks down upon His Daughters, what does He see?

First of all, He sees us as His Creation. Genesis 2:22 records the creation of woman by God. God cast a deep sleep over Adam and then takes a rib from his side and fashions women. In her book "City of Ladies" Christine de Pizine notes that God made woman not from the dust, but from clay created by God. Woman was made from God's own playdough. Can you not touch your face and trace the very hands of God as He molded and contoured your cheeks, forehead, and chin? Touch your eyes, and imagine the very thumbs of God pressing down to create the hollow depth. Your nose, shaped and touched by the same hands that thew the stars into the sky. And note in Genesis that woman was made, then brought to Adam. Her creation was an intimate process between her and the Lord. Can you see her being fashioned and laid to rest among the flowers in Eden? Can you see God breathing life into her? Her chest expanding as the first intake of air begins to circulate throughout this newly created body? Perhaps God whispered for her to wake. Perhaps He waited till her eyes fluttered opened on their own. Perhaps He cradled her so the first thing her new eyes would see, would be His face. The important thing to remember is that her creation was between Him and her. She was His first little girl, and He took delight in her creation. Psalm 139:14-16 says, "I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you,when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them." (ESV). God has created you to be wonderful. He took delight in your creation, and made it a moment of intimacy between only you and Him. You hold no secret from Him, for what artist forgets His most precious work? You are His creation. I believe that saying we are anything less than wonderful is to show that we know nothing of creation. We know nothing of being crafted. What honor and love is there in knowing that we are crafted by the very Hand of the God of the universe? This grand artist, the ultimate artisan, and then we consider ourselves any less than marvolous? We are lovely, wonderful, beautiful. We are God's Creation.

God also sees us as His lost sheep. We find in Luke 15:4-7, the parable of the lost sheep. Jesus puts forth the example that a shepard who has lost one lamb, will not go about to find it? And once he has found it, he rejoices over his find? In the same way, God searches for us. He longs to rejoice over His find in you. Jesus calls Himself "the Good Shepard". And in John 10, Jesus speaks again about the love He has for His sheep. He says that He knows His sheep, and the sheep know Him. There is a personal connection that Christ and God have with their sheep. This connection is part of the foundation of our relationship with God. Ever since sin entered this world, we have been separated from our Creator, and even though this separation is our fault, God still sees us a lost sheep. His favorite lamb that has gone astray and needs to be found, to be redeemed. God is our good shepard who cares so much for his sheep, that not only will He find them, but He will lay His life down for the sheep (John 15:13).

And this fact, this "laying down His life" leads us to the fact that we are God's Sacrifice. John 3:16 says this truth so beautifully and simply. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever should believe in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Jesus was sent to this world to die for you. God loves you so much, that He sent His only son, to die. God sent His son before you even existed, to die, to become your sacrifice. And the truth that makes it even harder to comprhend, the truth of His love, is that if it had only been you that needed a Savoir, if there was you to die for, then Jesus would still have come, and still have died. "When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, "It is finished," and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit." (ESV). God sees you as someone to die for. If all of history changed at this pivotal moment when Christ died, when the veil was torn, and humanity received their undeserved salvation, then why do we throw it away when we look at ourselves? We can look at others as someone that Jesus died for, and we can tell them with conviction. We believed it once ourselves, but we don't live it. Why don't we live the death of Christ?

And once we fully believe the fact that we are God's sacrifice and accept the death of Christ on the cross and His Resurrection as the only means of our salvation, we become God's Princess. Proverbs 31 is known as the passage of the virtous women, or the perfect woman. Verse 22 says that this woman dresses herself in robes of fine linen and purple. Both of these items would only be worn by women with riches and prestage. Purple is the color of royalty because in order to create it, one must (during the time that Proverbs was written) head to the coast and find a special oyster/clam like creature known as the Murex. One Murex equals one drop of purple dye. Having an entire cloth of purple was a pricey investment. Yet God says that His perfect woman arrays herself in purple, the most costly color, the most royal color. He tells us to dress in purple as a symbol of our royalty through Him. Your Heavenly Father is the King of the universe, of reality as we know it. We let others and ourselves tear us down, when we are of royalty. We are princesses and must treat and carry ourselves as such. No one can take away our royalty. John 10:28-29 says that no one can pluck us out of the Father's Hand. He is there to protect and keep you. No one can take away what God has made you to be.

In the story of Snow White, the evil stepmother's mirror is a pivotal character. She not only stares into it, but ask out loud the questions we never speak. "Mirror Mirror on the wall, who's the fairest of them all?" We look in the mirror and ask the question of "are we enough?" and we tense as we wait for the answer, assuming that the mirror will answer the same as it did to the evil stepmother. "Snow white is more fair", "No, you're not enough, never were enough, will never be enough." However, we need not to fear that answer, because its a farce. We are enough, we were always enough, we will always be enough. This enough comes from God. We are His Creation, His Lost Sheep, His Sacrifice, and His Princess. This is God's opinion of us; we can either believe it or not. We believe it about others, why don't we believe it for ourselves?

Once time I looked into the mirror and I hated what I saw, and what I thought I saw. Then I looked past myself and looked to God for my reflection. That is the reflection that I want to see every time I look at myself. This is the reflection that I want others to see. This is the reflection I claim and stand upon. This reflection is Christ in and through me.

String Gone Wild

When it comes to studying women’s history, a lot of talk goes back and forth between these notions of the private versus the public sphere. Women are said to either encompass or are designated to the private sphere. But what is this private sphere? It includes child rearing and such domestic activities as cleaning and cooking. However, in prehistoric times, what did the private, or domestic sphere mean in work to a woman? It includes a full schedule of cooking, cleaning, and children. But it also included something else. It included the art of working with fibers in order to produce a material that would clothe, house, and help to feed their families. This art was and is comprised of gathering and preparing fiber, spinning the fiber, and eventually weaving that fiber into a useable object. It was this type of work that made up a woman’s day. Today we find ourselves in an age where making your own clothes is either a quirky hobby or a weird fascination, however, by reconstructing some of the clothing that has been found by archeologists, a new appreciation for the work of early women came be found.
In my search of early, prehistoric textiles, I decided to recreate a string skirt, whose remains have been found not only in graves, but from statues dating back to early Bronze Age times. One example that has been found comes from Egtved, Denmark and dates back to about the 14th century B.C. Other examples include a variety of statues that portray women as large and obese sporting these small, immodest skirts. These statues have been found in many areas extending from Western Europe on the coast to the eastern part of Russia.
One of the first things that archeologist first noticed about these skirts, was how immodest, or unpractical they were. The skirts differed from region to region, but the concept remained the same. The skirt was comprised of a narrow band that was worn around the hips, usually wrapped twice and tied in a knot. Hanging off the band, were many pieces of spun string that traveled down to about 15 inches and would sometimes end tied in a band around the bottom, or knotted with some kind of bead or shell. The purpose of the beads or band around the bottom, archeologist think, was to add a certain kind of swing to the skirt, almost like a flounce does to modern skirts today. One of the things that have shocked and baffled archeologists, is the fact that the skirt does not appear to have any kind of covering or warmth purposes. The skirt appears to be too flimsy or thin to serve either one of those purposes. So what was the purpose of the string skirt? In her book, Women’s Work, Elizabeth Barber hypothesizes that the skirt acted like a sign that would highlight a woman’s reproductive bits and maybe indicate that she was of either marriage or child bearing. Barber backs up this argument by looking at a myth of Hera preparing herself for a night of delight with Zeus. Hera arrays herself in garment fit for a goddess complete with a girdle of a hundred tassels. Barber hypothesizes that this could be an early Greek idea of the string skirt. Barber also talks about that even today in Europe, may woman wear decorative aprons with fertility symbols that are not unlike the early Bronze Age string skirt in structure. Perhaps she is right about the purpose of the string skirt, and perhaps not. In my opinion, she makes a valid argument since she employs folklore, myth, and tradition that are centered on women and their dealings with fashion.
So how did I recreate this textile? For my knowledge pursuit, I wanted to concentrate mainly on the process of how this skirt was made. My first process to understand was the most fundamental of the skirt, mainly to recreate how women would have made the string to weave the skirt together in the first place. So, since I was looking at process only, I received a bag of donated cotton balls, and with the aid of a borrowed spindle, I set to work to spin these pieces of cotton into thread. I soon found out an important piece of knowledge as I sat in my living room, separating the fibers and spinning them onto the spindle. That knowledge was simplified in these thoughts, “this is a) a lot of work by myself and could be sped up by the aid of someone else and 2) this is highly boring working on this alone.” I quickly came to understand and appreciate why women usually worked in groups. Preparing the material and the actual spinning could be a quicker process in a group with many hands to separate the fibers. Also, I missed additional voices that would have helped to fill in the silence with stories and jokes. Time would have passed faster, and perhaps I would have been more productive with someone to help keep track of my progress.
After I felt confident with spinning, I moved on to the actual construction of the skirt. I bought two balls of yarn. I purchased them in brown and red, because I felt that after learning about early dyes, that brown (from dirt) and red (from madder roots) would have been the easiest and first colors that the skirts would be dyed. I choose brown to be my warp threads, and set to devising a simple loom that would help me to weave the band and incorporate the strings. The first problem came in trying to figure out exactly how the strings were constructed. I toyed with the idea that the band would be woven first, and the strings then sewn into the band one my one, or in a continuous pieces going up and down. However, since the band seemed to be continuous with no signs of needlework, I decided that this was probably not the normal case of its structure. After conducting some online research, I discovered that when the skirt is woven, one side of the weft is left long. Later, after the skirt is finished, the long weft can be cut in half and left to dangle or encased in the beads, shells, or band. So, with this knowledge, I constructed a makeshift warp weighted loom using paint sticks. I tied my warp between two paint sticks, which I then taped to my bedroom door. Using a third paint stick wound with the red yarn, I used it as a heddle to help me weave the string in and out in a simple 1x1 pattern. I wove the skirt in two separate areas at either ends of the loom, using a fine tooth comb that I brush my hair with as a beater to tighten my weave. The middle I left mainly opened, expect for a small stretch that decorated with my homespun cotton (which did not weave well because of its inconsistent in thickness). Once the weaving was done, I cut it off the loom and secured all the end threads with knots. I decided that I liked the way the skirt looped on the bottom, so I did not cut the loops, or enclosed them in beads or shells.
My skirt was finished and when tied on it was composed of a knot on one hip, a decorative white space on the other hip, and a cascade of red string highlighting both my front and back lady places. As I stood in the mirror, I thought of how this skirt may have been a sign that I was marriageable or ready to have children, and I swung my hips to try out the sway of the strings. I was not sure if I felt any more seductive then I did in the pajama pants I was wearing underneath, or any more ready to procreate with a man for that matter. However, as with anything that sways, I felt a little more girly, and enjoyed swishing side to side and watching the strings move with my swaying in a little rhythm that I decided was womanly. Men don’t sway like that, and as far as the little statues that archeologist have been digging up, they did not wear little skirts that showed off their reproductive bits. It was then that I felt the sauciness of what Elizabeth Barber was hypothesizing with this skirt. And as I stood in the mirror, I was amazed at how much time and work went into the making of one piece of clothing. And I was amazed at women who figured out the process on their own. And mostly I was amazed at the fact, that even thousands of years after the creation of this skirt that most people have no idea even existed, I could still copy the pattern and feel a little sexy.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

after a conversation on flowers

i was asked my opinion
on the giving of flowers.

give a girl flowers
declare your infatution,
give a girl roses
declare you intentions.
give a girl her favorite,
ones she dreams of,
declare your love.

i was asked my opinion
on the giving of daisys,

daisys are sweet,
love at its most tender,
red roses are overdone,
love at its most dull,
her favorite flowers,
the best of all,
love at its deepest.

i was asked my opinion
on the giving of favorites,

flowers on the whole
are gratefully recieved,
be it roses or daisys,
but give her the favorite,
and watch her melt.

i was asked my opinion
on my favorite flower,

daffodils were my quick reply,
but for me,
and the woman i am,
i will find myself settling
for the flowers that grow
along the road.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

the weaving of a woman

she is built of strong cedars,
two pillars standing
supporting the clouds
from which threads
of Heaven run down,
spinning around her head
and torso,
down her legs,
to her warp weighted feet.

wefting across her body
is a trapestry of events,
birth, death,
love, stillness...
each a seam

hear the heddle
rakin from horizon to horizon,
closing them off.
beat her down
good and tight
watch her grow taller,
streching from
madder red earth to
woad blue sky,
spun strengh sewn into her being.
colors weaving a waltz through her flesh,
perfecting the pattern,
that balance between beauty
and practically,
the ever present need
the desirous want,
meticously striving
to become the line
that converges the two
into captivating lovliness...

for all gaze amaze
at the weaving of a woman.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

November 11, 2008

"not for long" he whispered

last night i dreamed a dream most strange and disturbing.

i dreamt that i was at the beach. i was sitting above the sand on a bench with swaying palm trees and waves beneath me. near me was boy about my age, an old man in a fisher man's hat, and a mother with her children. i was looking at my camera wondering about whether or not i should try to capture all that was about me. then suddenly, the ocean raised itself up and struck its fist against the bench where i was sitting at. i shook the water off and before i could take a breath, the ocean hit us again. everyone started to jump up and run, including myself. i ran for the wooden steps and rail that marked the entrance to the beach. the old man and the boy were right behind me; i grabbed the rail and hauled myself up the steps, the water rushing around my kneecaps.

once off the beach and on a street, i heard an explosion behind me. i turned and saw flames licking the sand and dust settling from a hut that had been selling drinks to hot swimmers. i turned to look at the beach homes in front of me. another one exploded off to the side of me. i knew that i had to go and find my friends whom i was staying with. i starting running to the condo, i knew to be mine, with the old man and the boy right behind me. a few yards down, there was an alley that cut off down the side of the street. three figures emerged from this alley. they were dressed in outlandish costumes and each held a large metal ball in their arms. they turned as one to face me and my two adajacent companions. grinning devilishly, they each rolled their balls towards us. as i looked at the ball, i heard a hiss and saw a flame burning down a wick attached to each round circle. they were bombs. i didn't yell, but use that strength to jump to the side into an empty parking lot. the old man had jumped with me, and i didn't know about the boy. but i heard a roar and a yell as flame engulfed my vision before i threw my arms over my head to protect myself. i figured that the boy was gone and closed my eyes, but opened them as i heard a grunt of pain. i turned, the old man was falling to the ground in slow motion. his body heaped on the ground and i looked up to a man in black holding a gun on the opposite side. i couldn't run from him, and there was no where to hide. i heard a click and felt searing pain on my arm. i had been shot. i looked around in utter fear, the prayer already formed to be sent to GOD for my deliverence. the man was a few feet in front of me, i didn't even remember him moving. he held the gun and i looked to heaven in pleading as i felt the pain in my chest, close to my heart. i fell to my knees and looked at the man in black. "please GOD, i can go home just yet." i thought and he raised the gun to my head and run off. i couldn't believe it. i looked down at my chest, there was some blood, but not a lot. i heard another explosion and was up on my feet running to where i knew i had to be.

i got to the condo. i was underneath, leaning on one of the pillars to support it. catching my breath and trying to ignore what should have been my mortal wound, i saw my neighbor. i tried to wave and yell to get his attention, to recieve his help. but he was walking to a ringing payphone. i wasn't sure if he ever picked up the reciever before he was consumed by the explosion.

i had to get to the room. i looked around to make sure that no one was looking and dashed up the stairs. i found the room, and the door was unlocked. i ran into the room where i was greeted by people i knew. i rested. they wanted to do something for my shot wound, but i would hear nothing about it. i wanted to make sure that they were safe. i also knew that they were eventually blow up this building as well. i had to get them to somewhere safe. i was rallying them to leave, when a knock came at the door. we all froze, hearing an accented voice that could only have belonged to one of the people who i had deemed as terrorists. no one moved, until i heard another voice. this one i knew. it was a voice to trust. i heard the two voices talking and the accented one left. the known voice was joined by another known voice and they knocked and asked at our door. i threw it open to two men and i threw myself into a hug with one of them. he hugged me back and asked if everyone was safe. i said that we were, but needed to get away from here. he agreed and started to gather us together to leave. that's when both the men noticed the blood oozing down my shirt. "what happened to you?" they wanted to know. i told them that i was fine. i said it as i watched memebers of my room walk out of the room and safely down the steps. i said it as i felt myself growing weak. my eyes fluttered and i had to be carried out, as the last one. my eyes closed.

they reopened to a new place. green grass growing up to form a little hill on which stood a "house" it was not enclosed, but open to the elements. it was two stories and stood more like a playground then a place to live. it was sunny and warm and teenagers filled the house. they were happy, yelling and screaming, flirting and playing. i was happy to be here. i was walking up the hill helped by the same two men who had carried me out of the house. i looked down at my chest. there was no blood, but when i put my hand to the place where i had been shot, it was tender and throbbed a little. i hobbled up the hill and saw a boy that i knew. he jogged over to me and i hugged him. and i cried. i sobbed out my fear over what had happened. there was too many people that i didn't know if they had made it. he looked at me and said he knew, but he was happy that i had finally made it. "we've all been praying for you." he said. i smiled and turned to the house, finally able to enter it.

inside i looked around at everyone carrying around. it made me both happy and sad. i walked up the steps to the second floor and was greeted by many people that i knew and cared for. they all expressed their happiness that i was better. my heart glowed and the pain lessened.

at the top of the steps there was a boy that i did not know. he was watching me. he said something that displeased me, and i refused to speak to him. instead i walked down another set of steps to a dining area. i stood at a bar table and began to watch all that taking place around me. the same boy from the top of the steps came over to me. i gave him a sneer and went back to the people around me. "you don't remember me do you?" he said to me. i turned and looked hard at him. i had no idea who he was. "No." was my only reply. "that's sad." he said. "i was at the beach with you before everything started. i ran down the street with you." i looked at him closer. i tried to place him. "i think i might remember you." i said finally. "we talked at the beach, i gave you my screen name, and the wave hit. we rain to the street. there were those horrible balls..." he said. i looked down at my chest, put my hand to the place and felt the pain burn again. "i got shot after that," i said to him. "i know," he said. "i was shot twice," i said, the pain growing worse. i took a deep breath to try to subdue it, or to bear it, i knew not what. "i wrote you a sonnet," he said. i looked at him, doubt etched on my face. "i did." he instilled. he reached up to where a hat was on his head and pulled it off. there inside it laid a folded up piece of paper. he put the hat back on and held the paper in front of my eyes. "right here. all for you." i looked at him. he had kind eyes and the beginnings of a dark beard. his hair was long and poked out of his hat. "you need a haircut," i said. he grinned and drew me close to him. "it hurts," i said, placing his hand upon my wound. "not for long," he whispered.

and then it was time to wake up. the alarm was ringing and my body was gaining consciencous of itself. and he was a beautiful boy.


a broken pot

i am like potipher's wife,
with green eyes
and red lips
that pucker and pout.
coveting what's right,
but not mine.
i set a trap
only to catch myself.
falling far
and deep
like adam's wife,
i hid my shame
with a cryptic fig leaf.

life is a tear
falling down my cheek,
running in the corner
of my mouth,
i taste the salty sorrow
and shallow it,
licking my lips
for a second course,
sending it back
to bottle like a fine wine.
maybe one day
i'll turn to salt,
a statue of savor
preserved for those to remember
the consequences.
like lot's wife.

"i am a broken pot."

prisoners of my heart

Oh what mighty thoughts I would wish to pen
and inscribe in ink that which I feel within.
To dig and seek what lurks in my shadowy heart
secrets and truths long buried beneath that which I know not.
Lingering in dungeons locked by rhythmic beat
are prisoners with bounded feet.
For this heart of flesh so resembling stone of granite
with which the anxieties of sadness beat against it
hoping to chip away that which will not budge.
Desiring, demanding to rid myself of one more grudge.
But the stone holds; it is stubborn and strong.
Perhaps too strong, I think, and perhaps it's stood for far too long...

once upon a dream
i stood upon a shore
and viewed the waves.
big laughing waves
that settled a troubled soul,
the ocean made a fist,
striking the sand
and shattering it.
the tide of people crashed
around me,
trampling the grains,
a hand appeared
extending from
my lifeguard.
grasping tight
we ran against the swell
another slender hand appeared.
their eyes met,
their hands clasped
and off they ran
while i stumbled.
mouth full of sand
eyes full of salt,
i was washed away