Monday, January 12, 2015

Prayer Shawl Knitting and Crocheting . . .

I have been feeling a little discouraged this week, and I have been praying about my next service project.  At my previous church, we had a lovely prayer shawl ministry.  We made prayer shawls for cancer patients, and I loved it.  I would like to do that again and donate to our local cancer treatment center.  So, who's in??  We will be making prayer shawls to donate to I.U. Health and/or St. Vincent, depending on the number completed.  Below I will list several simple patterns for prayer shawls, including a pattern I wrote as well.  Also, please leave me a comment indicating whether or not you will be joining me.  I will email you contact info for mailing or dropping off finished shawls. 

Before the links,  I am going to list the ONLY prayer shawl yarn I will accept for these projects.  I know this may seem a pain, but it ensures we will actually be able to deliver the completed shawls.  Having worked on many of these in the past, there are very clear guidelines for what is, and is not, accepted.  Also, please do not smoke or keep projects in an area where there is a lot of pet hair.  The centers will NOT accept any completed shawls that have pet hair or smoke smell.  They will toss them, and that's too much hard work to throw away.  I would suggest, if you smoke and/or have pets, to work on your project(s) at a local library and keep in a sealed, extra large ziplock bag.  If you are still concerned, throw the item in your wash/dry (if not wool based) on gentle and low heat.  Seal in bag immediately.  Use ONLY hypoallergenic-fragrance free detergent (such as Arm and Hammer Sensitive, or All Free and Clear). 

Yarn
*Caron Simply Soft
*Bernat Satin
*Red Heart Soft (NO RED HEART SUPER SAVER ALLOWED)
*Premiere Encore Soft
*Vanna's Choice
*Superwash Merino is fine
*Lion Brand Cotton-Ease
*Lion Brand Nature's Choice Organic Cotton
*Lion Brand Homespun

If you can find an exact equivalent store-brand (Hobby Lobby, Michael's, or Jo-Ann), or an exact equivalent at KnitPicks. com, you are welcome to use those as well. 

Color Suggestions:
*Please use neutrals, warm tones, and cool tones.
*Please do NOT use black or black combinations, or neons.

Men love receiving these as well!  Leave off the fringe, use a basic stitch that isn't lacey, and stick to blues and earth tones (again, no black). 

Patterns for Beginners:

http://www.lionbrand.com/patterns/70374AD.html    (crochet)

http://www.shawlministry.com/instructions.html

My pattern:

Using any hook size with matching yarn size:
Chain until piece measure 58"-60" inches

Row 1:  Working in 2nd back bump (neither loops) from hook, Half Double Crochet across, chain 2, turn.
Row 2:  Ignoring chain 2, work Half Double Crochet in Back Loop Only in 1st HDC across, chain 2, turn.
Row 3:  Ignoring chain 2, work Half Double Crochet in Front Loop Only in 1st HDC across, chain 2, turn. 
Repeat rows 2 and 3 until desired width (approx. 15"-20", wider is better), ending with Row 3.  Add fringe or leave as is.  This is a lovely knit look pattern.  I love using this with an L hook and Homespun in Barley or Pearl, or with a J Hook and Caron Simply Soft in a neutral color.  This pattern can be worked horizontally as well.  Just follow the measurements guidelines.

Please message me if you have any questions!!  If you are looking for something more challenging, visit your local library and pick up a copy of the Knitted Prayer Shawl Companion or Crochet Prayer Shawl Companion, or search Ravelry.com. 



Sunday, January 11, 2015

Left Behind. Please. Don't Even.

Although I do realize this topic isn't an important one in the Jesus Kingdom-economy, I believe a distortion of God's Word concerning the End Times can be extremely dangerous.  The premillennial dispensational eschatology never made much sense to me no matter how many commentaries, books on Systematic Theology, or popular authors preaching that genre I read.  It didn't make sense to me then, and it sure doesn't now.  I was terrified of that teaching growing up.  Absolutely terrified.  I would hide underneath my bed every time the moon was red-tinged, I would freak out if I couldn't get a hold of someone because, God forbid, what if I was left behind??  And I certainly never had any happy thoughts of leaving behind others so I could experience a "beam me up, God" moment while the rest of the Earth went to hell.  I am, by deep conviction and intense study, Amillennial in my eschatology, and happily so.  It is a place of peace that also teaches the Christian to be ready regardless because, as the Apostle's Creed attests, "He will come again to judge the living and the dead" . . . We have to have grace with this, I know.  And I don't expect earnest seekers to all come to the same conclusions I have either.   That is fine!!  What I do take issue with, and what I have been accused of, is the idea that if one does not hold to premillennial dispensationalism, then one is not a true believer.  This is wrong and dangerous to teach. 

Anyway, this is why my children will NOT see Left Behind, and I will never encourage them to read the books (they are free to read them, of course, but I won't be picking up any copies willingly).  If you are curious as to why I feel so passionately about this topic, please feel free to click on one of the links below that all well represent my concerns for Biblical honesty in our Eschatology (by the way, that fancy-shmancy word just means study of the end times).  Without further ado . . .

http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2009/10/06/what-you-must-believe-if-you-are-a-premillennialist/

http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/articles/CarlsonPremillenial.php

http://www.samstorms.com/enjoying-god-blog/post/i-am-an-amillennialist--because-of--revelation-20

http://www.mountainretreatorg.net/eschatology/why_the_early_church_finally_rejected_premillennialism.shtml

Thursday, January 8, 2015

the beginning of wisdom: which promises are for me?

the beginning of wisdom: which promises are for me?: Not many things are more comforting than a promise made and kept. And not many things are more hurtful than a promise broken. Knowing we ...

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

How to Crochet Seamless Ribbing--My Favorite Ribbing Method for Top-Down Beanies!



This is my absolute go-to/favorite method for using on sleeves, hat bands (top down), or any ribbing that needs to be sewn on (no, thank you).  I frequently use the hdc blo, but for littles, the sc in blo is perfect!  Sharing is caring, right??

So, What About Joseph?

Our family is reading through the New Testament this year.  I have been reading through the Bible each year, but it was getting boring.  Sorry.  Just being honest.  I had read the same thing over and over and over again.  This year is different.  I prayed for new eyes to see what I haven't yet seen, and God has answered that plea.  So, while reading Matthew 1 and 2, I noticed someone that I hadn't paid much attention to before.  Joseph.  Mary gets a lot of attention around Christmas, but I don't often hear much mentioned concerning Joseph.  I am completely undone by the obedience of Joseph (and the Magi).  So many characters in God's story helped fulfill His will due to their obedience.  I read 4 instances in which God spoke directly to Joseph, via an angel through dreams.  Joseph was so in tune with His Creator that he immediately obeyed all 4 times. There is no narrative recording that he questioned the dream or the message.  Me?  I would have said, "Did I seriously dream that??", "It was just a dream," or "What in the world??".  Not Joseph.  We find narrative recorded for both Zechariah and Mary when they are confronted IN PERSON by an angel.  In fact, the Magi were also warned in a dream not to return to Herod, and they obeyed.  I am chastened by their obedience and marvel at the power of dreams.  I long for God to visit me a time or two in a dream, though I'm thankful to simply have his Word.  Even more, I long for the unwavering confidence in my God that leads to faithful obedience.  So, I would like to say that I desire for God to give me a "Joseph" heart!  A "Magi" heart!  A heart so in tune with Him, and a heart that always searches for him until he may be found (Proverbs 2:5).  He wants to be found!  He wants us to search for him as for hidden treasure (Proverbs 2).  Mary displayed humble obedience to be sure.  As did Joseph.  No wonder (and doesn't it all make sense now?) he was chosen to surrogate father the Savior of the world.  Obedience is the 1st step in living out this radical faith--not a slavish obedience to man-made, legalistic rules, but an obedience to the Living Word revealed to us in Scripture.  I want to know him.  You too??

Preach It, Sister!

So, I was recently sharing with a kindred Jesus-sister my testimony.  I haven't done a whole lot of that in the past.  As a Christian, I've never had one of those intense conversion stories that people drool over while hearing.  Mine is one of calm (and I've never been a calm person, go figure).  I was thinking about the fact that although my testimony isn't mind-boggling or sensational, it is beautiful all the same and worth telling.  As I shared with my friend,  I have loved Jesus for as long as I can remember.  My first images are blurry watercolors from my Children's Bible.  I remember carrying that Bible around (and mom said I got it when I was 3) and though I couldn't read the words, the pictures spoke deeply to my soul.  Then the day came that I COULD read those words, and Oh, my!  I couldn't stop.  I can clearly recall dragging that storybook Bible everywhere.  Everywhere.  My kiddos all did the same with theirs as well, and it warms me up inside just thinking about it.  Once I graduated to a big kid Bible, I read it all the time and always had a quiet time.  After all, my childhood background of the Nazarene and Wesleyan traditions cultivated in me this devotional-style reading.  I can't remember NOT reading my Bible and even had a subscription to a youth devotional magazine.  I was proud of my worn and torn Bible.  It was the place I turned (the literal pages I turned) to meet God.  I became fascinated by doctrine/theology during college, and it became such an obsession after taking several different Bible courses for my Children's Ministry minor, that it actually got in the way of that love I once had with God's Word.  It became a burden trying to figure out what everything meant, and trying to get it exactly right!  Sadly, it even led to some legalism.  I am now a recovering "legalist", and I have been experiencing the reinvigoration of exploring God's Word in depth but with great joy.  Doctrine and theology are important.  However.  They MUST NOT get in the way of God.  We do that a lot, don't we?  Put other things before God?  Doctrine, theology, denominational distinctions, rules, rules, rules, excess and unbalanced grace -- you name it.  I needed to be that little girl again that read, trusted, and obeyed.  I want to be her.  I do love studying God's Word, and I am very prayerful and careful to not distort God's Word for my own selfish purposes, but there is nothing like opening up His Word, reading a passage or book in its entirety, and letting it wash over you.  Cleanse you.  Lavish you.  Teach you.  Rebuke you.  Encourage you.  Equip you.  Oh, I love the written Word.  I love the Living Word.  I love sharing on paper the deep truths the Holy Spirit is showing me.  I love getting out of the way of what HE wants me to see, rather than what I want to see.  Simplicity.  Why do we complicate it?  So, my testimony is steady, even, and sure.  I'm so very thankful for that.  I've loved and known Jesus basically my entire life.  We have had our ups and downs together, and I know one thing for certain:  He is a covenant-keeping God who cannot lie, who will never leave you or forsake you, and who walks right alongside you and will continue to do so until that face-to-face.  And, guess what??  You will know him.  You will hear his voice, and you will run into his arms because you took the time to get to know him.  Read on, sister, and know your Jesus!
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27. 

The Art of Healing (literally) . . .

Since having been diagnosed with cancer, my body has been a bit bent out of joint over it's "new normal".  For instance, we aren't fond of the hormone issues, the daily reliance on a tiny pill that determines the outcome of the day, the insomnia, nor the occasional panic attacks.  Yuck, and NO THANKS.  However.  However.  However.  I have learned different ways to whip said body into shape, and the "dark days" are fewer than the light days.  For instance, my body needs exercise.  If I don't exercise regularly, you may as well pack me like a sardine in bed because that's what happens.  I am not able to function unless I have exercised my muscles and raised my body temp a bit.  I will literally roll myself up in a blanket and try not to move lest I remove the warmth my body so desperately longs for.  I stay warm as long as I move.  Period.  Second, I have taken to using my down times constructively.  Once, I awoke in the middle of the night with a crippling panic attack in which I was ripping out imaginary IV lines from my arm.  The brain fuzz clears just long enough for me to realize what's happening, so I get out of bed, grab my Bible, and read Psalm after Psalm until my heart stills again.  The best mechanism I have found, however, is that of knitting and crocheting.  Sometimes it seems impossible to pray (which is why I pray the Psalms), and sometimes I can't even talk right because my body flips out, and my tongue and brain just don't make the connection.  In those moments, I pick up my knitting (next to my bed), and I just start knitting.  I knit, and I pray.  I knit (and crochet during the day ;) with a purpose so I can give it away once it's finished.  I knit/crochet for the homeless, for preemie's, for shut-ins, and cancer fighters, and I knit for friends and family.  It is healing, and I don't feel like referencing ALL the health benefits (though I will share a few).  There are many concrete, documented studies on the effects of knitting/crocheting on the brain and heart.  It lowers my blood pressure/pulse, thus slowing down my racing heart, it calms me completely, and it brings me to a place where I can clearly pray--for myself and for others; for the one who will receive the gift.  So, art IS healing.  My most favorite gift to give is that of passing on the craft to another weary, wounded traveler.  Sure, I love making things, and I even get paid to make items.  However, I would much rather teach YOU how so you can experience that same gift as well.  God knows I have always been busy with my hands and mind as I have an extensive music performance background.  My life has changed, my course has been re-routed, and God knows I still need that in my life.  So he gave me this.  Might I share it with you as well?

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Patmos Deception: A Review

I admit from the beginning that I am a huge fan of T. Davis Bunn.  I have been waiting to read this
particular title.  This is a fast moving, suspense-filled, historical treatment of Patmos, John, and the book of Revelation that collides with modern intrigue.  I finished this book in less than 2 days, and I was completely engaged the entirety of the novel. 

A quick synopsis:  two lifelong friends reunite across the world to work on different fronts to help solve a case of art theft.  They meet up with characters in complicated economic situations that find themselves in places they may never have found themselves had they been part of a stable economy.  There are beautiful glimpses of faith throughout this book, many complications (both personal and international), well-shaping of each character, and light romance. 

I am hoping that there is a sequel for this book.  It truly was fantastic, but I felt the novel left with an open door for more, which I will gladly read!