Tuesday, November 1, 2011

sacred space and sacred people

Sorry to disappoint if you were hoping for another one of Katie's awesome posts, today you get Thomas :p

The apostle Paul once wrote in Romans 8 a passage that has hounded the corners of my mind for some time now.  I had some thoughts on it today, so I thought I'd exorcise them here (after writing it, I must warn that it is heady, confusing, and long) .  Below, I've changed the formatting but not the order of the passage:

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

     - For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.
     - For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.

For we know that
     - the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.
     - And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

For in this hope we were saved.
     - Now hope that is seen is not hope.
For who hopes for what he sees?
     - But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

The theologians I have read lately have wanted to say that the groaning of creation relates to the desire of non-human creation to be caught up in Jesus Christ.  Unpacked, that seems to mean that creation wants to participate in Jesus' redemptive power, as well as his creative power (Jn. 1:3: all things were made through him).  I thought, "Of course, creation knows the creative power of Jesus; creation was created!  But what manner of redemption is needed for non-sentient stuff, the amoral creation?  They did not fall into sin."

Growing up, teachers pointed to God's cursing the ground in Genesis 3 as a kind of brokenness to the very fabric of created order.  Maybe then, creation would need redemption.... but honestly, I never bought that.  I've reread the passage closely.  Our relationship with creation, especially agriculture, was broken, not the thing itself.  I mean, the Garden of Eden was filled with a fully functional garden (created and certainly agricultural) so if something went wrong, creation could still function rightly sans humanity. Right?

So if Luther wrote about humanity's "Bondage of the Will" then what is in the book about creation's "Bondage to Corruption" (cf. passage above)?  We are saved, and have faith in this, and sometimes even do so patiently!  Therefore, we are patient groaners.  And creation is too.  Strangely enough, that really does remind me of our plight.  Are you a patient groaner too?

Today's insight comes in a roundabout way.  First, baptism is a symbol of death and rebirth. Namely our participation in Christ's death. But in many ways it is a proclamation about our future death, that we will rise from it in order to truly live. In other words, we are prefiguring our ultimate adoption as children of God with new bodies (again, cf. passage above). 

Secondly, creation is also promised a "new body."  See the new earth in Is. 65:17, II Pt. 3:13, and Rev. 21:1.  Not again with water, but with fire creation will die and then be reborn.

Third, is the application the "already/not yet" concept.  It is means that the Kingdom of God has come, is coming, and will come.  So, it is clear what is "not yet" (eternal life, love, etc.).  The "already", I believe, is the sanctification, transformation, reconciliation, and other -ation's made possible by the indwelling Holy Spirit in us.

Last, the "already" for creation is also the indwelling Holy Spirit in us.  This makes sense for at least three reasons. #1 - in the passage above, creation and humanity seem to have parallel and simultaneous experiences. #2 - in Genesis 3, creation and humanity were subjected also to our respective bondages simultaneously.  We became futile on the same day.  #3 - in Heaven and Eden, God's purpose for humanity is to live with him, as his sacred people.  Perhaps, God's purpose for creation is to be in his presence, as his sacred space. 

In sum:

Creation was unwillingly subjected to a corrupt people who made profane space in creation necessary.  And so creation futilely strove to be sacred. In ancient temples, mankind would present an idealized creation with gardens and iconography, which often depicted scenes from their "creation stories."  Unfortunately for our profane space, these temples did not house God, save one. But now! Creation has this promise of sacred space again.  Creation is home to the Holy Spirit, roaming across the land again in temples that are not made by human hands (Acts 7).  The Church and Creation both have tongues of flame resting upon them, awaiting the fuller cleansing of our corruption and the surpassing glory that is to be among us, sacred space and sacred people.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Twirl Skirts

Tonight I get to share a God story with my bible study girls. It's just supposed to be a short story of a time God seemed very present/made a dramatic impact in your life. I'm going to tell a love story :). When Thomas fell for me I didn't only experience his love- but it was really my first experience being wooed by God. I'm kind of excited to share it with them. Maybe I'll type it up and share it here as well.

In the meantime I'm still organizing photos so I can upload them to flickr, etc. The internet really is a wonderful place. Most of the pattern and fabric designers I use and blogs I follow have flickr groups. The online crafting community offers such a wealth of inspiration and support. When I make something, I typically upload it to an appropriate flickr group with a link to a blog for anyone wanting more information about where to find the fabric and pattern. It's fun to see how others interpret the same patterns and get feedback from other sewers (and occasionally even the designers!!).

In the last blog post I introduced my love to MADE with my use of her simple skirt tutorial for the Garnet Hill skirt knock off. I had another chance recently to use the pattern and thought I might show you how it turned out, as well as my other favorite skirt tutorial.

Sarah Jane's Children at Play fabric line is so cute! Such a great playful line for a toddlers. I used the double layer variation of the simple skirt and came up with this (unfortunately completed and sent to it's cute owner while my camera was in the shop):

This is a super simple, comfy skirt that can be thrown together quickly and really shows off a great print.

BUT, I don't always like simple. When it comes to presents I really enjoy making things that are extra special. Jona G's Edith Twirl Skirt was one of the first children's clothing patterns I used, and I have loved it ever since. All of the gathering takes a bit of time, but I really like that there are no pattern pieces to cut or keep up with, just lots of rectangles :). This was created for my oldest niece for her 2nd birthday (oooh- see the difference with my nice camera!?- everyone say THANK you JILL):

And this was done for another niece (back to the iPhone-meh). Her mom picked out the fabrics- super fun collaboration!

You can check out my past two Edith Twirl Skirt creations here and here if you want to see more!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Garnet Hill Skirt Knock Off

I hope you all enjoyed Thomas' first post on his trip to Israel. LEAVE A COMMENT - it'll probably encourage him to do his second installment sooner.

In the meantime, I've been digging through the pics on my computer and thought I might share a simple recycle project that I first mentioned back in February. It of course took me until July to sew, and until October to share :). 

Here's the inspiration photo from Garnet Hill. I thought these were so cute! But way too pricey at $40 a skirt.

At a local Salvation Army I looked for a man's shirt- something bright with a strong pattern. Although, this wasn't quite what I was hoping for, at $1.50 (it was half price green tag day) it was a steal for an experiment.  Add $1 worth of elastic and less than that in thread, and you have a fantastic substitute for a $40 skirt.

If you sew, have kids, and like clean design, you probably already read MADE, but if you don't check it out! Dana has great taste, a wonderful photographic eye, and a ton of fun, free tutorials. For this project I used her Simple Skirt tutorial.

Do you like how I don't iron before I sew? I get more done this way :).

This really was a super fast skirt pattern. I added some pockets like the inspiration skirt. Eden LOVES pockets. They are perfect for all the rocks and flowers she collects. Seriously- does anybody else's kid think that rocks are the coolest things ever?

The only tweak that would have made it closer to the inspiration (aside from a brighter, bolder print) would be to replace the buttons with some bright colors. Maybe next summer :).

I mentioned that I finished this skirt in July- which was when Thomas was in Israel. Eden did GREAT all things considered for a two year old whose dad is overseas for a month; however, she had a few, hmmm, "behavior flare ups" and they really came across in her desire to not be cute for pictures.

I think she failed :). My little wild thing.

This is what happens when you teach them to roar before they can even talk.

Well- at least she eventually stopped growling :).

Monday, October 10, 2011

Summer Israel Trip

As many of you know I spent about a month in Israel in excavations at Khirbet Qeiyafa and doing some limited but widespread touring of the country.  I thought I would wait until my traveling buds and I exchanged photos before I presented anything, since they might have that killer shot of this or that but no more! I have been heckled enough and hope to dole out some of the gems of my experience here.  I don't know how long it will take but I will begin.

If you have any questions please just ask and if you just get bored with my text just look at the pictures or better yet head over there yourself.  It would be well worth your time.  I always felt safe and there are plenty of companies that can give you a first rate tour.

Let's begin with DAN (aka - Tell Qadi).

Dan is an old site along a major trade route.  Along with Abel Beth-Maacah to the west, it guarded the northern segment of the Jordan river and the entrance into Israel proper.  The river meanders in the lush Hula Valley where Israel now grows a good bit of its banana crop.  North of Dan there are two parallel mountain ranges that run north-south slopping off near Mount Hermon.  Dan sits in the shadow of this snow peaked giant, and marked one of the main east-west crossings in the region.  As a border town, it saw many wars (yay! Archaeologically speaking, destruction is your best friend because it leaves plenty of material for our greedy trowels to uncover and a clear distinction between earlier and later occupation level.  Consider distinguishing what remains of ten homes built directly one top of one another, don't forget foundations and robbing for building material.) 

It is poetic that this "gateway" city boasts a world famous gate.  The dates are somewhat debated but the excavated Middle Bronze gate (c. 2000 BC) has a "triple arch," the oldest arch on the planet (the arched gate at Ashkelon is the other main contender).  It is mud brick and was found almost complete, still bearing its own weight!

For some reason it was only used for a short period of time.  Coincidentally, the story of Abraham coming into the promised land is also set within the Middle Bronze Age.

In the days of the Israelites the tribe of Dan settled this city, formerly Laish, and made a go of it, trading with the nations to the north who were mostly Aramean.  Hence, the popular phrase "from Dan to Beer-Sheba" refers to the capital cities of the northernmost (Dan) and southernmost (Simeon) tribes.  The city was likely pretty prosperous and pretty pagan, being so far from the center of the country; although it became especially wayward, according to the OT, after the division of the Israelite monarchy.  Jeroboam, the dissenting king, had no choice but to sponsor new temples of worship at Dan and Bethel.  Only kings built temples.  They were intimately connected with your dynastic authority.  Besides, without Jerusalem, Jeroboam had to delineate the spiritual geography of his land and gain the support of the religious leaders that would recognize his "divine" right to rule.

This is the temple he built.  The metal frame reconstructs the likely height of the altar, whose sacrifices would attract Baal (Yahweh?) to enter and reside in the temple.  You may recall that Jeroboam made golden calves, not golden Baals.  There is good reason for this.  In the ancient Near East (ANE), deities had specific animals that functioned as their thrones.  Some took several. God chose cherubim (divine beings) for his throne atop the ark of the covenant, as did Solomon and many Phoenician kings.  Weather deities liked calves, Asherah liked lions, etc.  The job of the cult was to make the place attractive to invite the deity to sit down and rule.  At this temple, the stonework is especially fine in places and the level of preservation was very good.

The Iron Age II gate (inside of 1000-780 BC) was particularly impressive.  Actually it follows a pattern in Israel for having a inner and outer gate, perpendicular to each other, with a courtyard in between.  Much of the life of a city would be spent in and around this area.  Therefore the king/governor couldn't afford not to have a presence in the middle of it all (check out my friend Dan on the throne below).  In fact, strangers were probably prohibited from entering unless they were received by the ruler or elders (eg - visiting relatives, religious and royal ambassadors).  Merchants and other travelers would have conducted their business somewhere outside the inner gate, at the city but not in the city.  The top plan of the inner gate would have looked like two "E"s facing each other, looking from above.  The side chambers this created gave room for the guards and elders to convene.  They are barely visible in the last picture.

The cool springs at the site are an attraction in and of the themselves and I look forward to dipping my tired feet in them again.  Well, that should keep ya'll off my back for a while while I prepare another post about another sweet site I was privileged to visit.  Just for fun, I'll leave you with a picture of myself sparring with a soldier from Hazor, which is at the southern end of the same valley as Dan.

[nb- if you click on the photos I think it will zoom in]

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Dress To Bless

I'm really excited to share this with you all!! Dress to Bless Ministries is the creation and hard work of Katy Roberts- someone who grew up in my home town of Carthage, TX. She has dedicated a lot of time and talent to create this non profit organization committed to helping the hungry by providing physical and spiritual nourishment through a partnership with Samaritan's Purse. Every dress sold provides a child with ONE month of nourishing food! Katy even has it set up so that you can buy a dress, send the money to Samaritan's Purse, AND have the dress donated to a needy child locally OR in Africa. Double Blessings :).

Dress to Bless began just this past May, and in less than 6 months they have raised $1300 for Samaritan's Purse. 
Because ALL profits are given to Samaritan's Purse, Dress to Bless relies heavily on fabric and dress donations.
Of course I think this is a FANTASTIC IDEA. So I made a few dresses (I'm REALLY enjoying the few hours a week alone while Eden is in school).
Cupcake Pillowcase Dress- 12-18 months

Red Ruffle A-Line Dress (2T- a shorter dress, almost tunic length)
The ruffle insert on this dress was a delightful adaptation for any a-line dress. It really jazzes it up. I would love to do this with fancier fabrics for holidays. The tutorial can be found here. 

 Plaid A-Line with Ruffled Sleeves (3T)

These are listed on the Dress to Bless Ministries website. If you would like any of the dresses shown on her site, please email her at katyroberts84@gmail.com  and specify the name of the dress (listed above each picture).

I would encourage any sewers to use your skills for this great cause. Pillowcase dress patterns are all over the internet and are free. The smaller dresses can usually be made from scraps you already have on hand. All three dresses were made using patterns from The Lily Bird Studio on Etsy.  They were very easy to follow patterns that allow resale of the finished products on a small scale.

Saturday, October 1, 2011


We've done it two years in a row now so it's officially a tradition!!

Can't you tell how excited she is??

About 15 minutes away there is a little family owned apple orchard called Heinz Orchard that reminds me a bit of the blueberry farm we loved in Nacogdoches. We seem to have fallen into two traditions revolving around Heinz. First is the annual Moms and Tots outing from our church. Apple picking is GREAT with toddlers. There are a lot of low branches, the apples snap off pretty easily, and the bag fills up quickly! We typically end with a little picnic and the kids run in the fields and pick flowers. It's nice to have some "country" experiences here.

Last year it was so much fun, that a friend and I ended up with WAY too many apples and decided to learn to can applesauce. This too has become part of the tradition. We make the spiced applesauce from The Joy of Cooking, and simply mash it really well with a fork. I say I like my applesauce really chunky, and while that is probably true, I'm also too cheap to spring for a food mill. I seriously hope I don't poison my family with a poor canning incident. In a dream world I would have enough time to pick 4 times as many apples and can applesauce for Christmas presents.

The second tradition is actually a bit longer standing than 2 years. Thomas and I have baked an apple pie on the first day(ish) of Fall throughout our marriage. The tradition is greatly enhanced by picking our own apples :). No pics of this outing because it was raining and cold. We met our good friend Eileen (she is also an integral part of the pie baking tradition) who awesomely spotted the mice family living in the apple tree- so cute!!

Eileen and I get together as close to the first day of Fall as possible and make pies. We freeze one or two and bake one. Typically I use the apple pie and crust recipe from my grandma's old Better Homes Cookbook. I finally detached myself enough from the sentimentality of the event and tried a new recipe from this book. The crust was much easier to handle and the recipe for apple cider infused apple pie was a hit.

We like serving our pie with a piece of good quality cheddar. Thankfully, Eden liked it too! I LOVE passing on traditions :).

Thursday, September 29, 2011

September Recap

At the end of August, Eden dropped my camera 6 inches onto a carpet, and it broke. Apparently cameras are super duper breakable. You can go ahead and judge my parenting skills for letting a toddler near enough a DSLR to break it- whoops! After a 4 week wait, I FINALLY have it back, all better. Unfortunately there were a lot of moments for which I would have really liked my camera- like EDEN'S FIRST DAY Of SCHOOL, first month in a big girl bed, and apple picking. I'm afraid I've become a camera snob, but honestly my iPhone camera does a really good job.

Aside from my lack of inspiring photos, I've also been in a blogging rut. I'm a bit lost on the direction so I'm going back to square one- just letting everyone know what we're up to, hopefully sprinkled with good recipes and cute pictures.

Let's simply start with a recap of September in photos:

First day of school for Eden was at the very beginning of September. We started with breakfast at our favorite coffee shop, Arriva Dolce (where the pic was taken), and went to Highland Park Community for a 30 minute mommy and me play group. Eden didn't look at me the whole time and had to be dragged out kicking and screaming! Thankfully the integration process ended and she gets to stay 2 hours without me twice a week now. She LOVES it. She apparently cracks her teachers up with her dance skills during music time, and she asks to go every day.

We also switched Eden to a big girl bed this month. It's been finished for months and sitting the basement, but she was adamant that she keep her crib. One random Saturday afternoon she asked if she could have it in her room. We were so excited we moved it up and rearranged everything before we remembered we had a babysitter that night! But, as expected, our generally obedient kiddo did great and has never gotten out on her own!

  (working on the bed in April)

There has been a lot of  coffee (and affogato) at Ariva Dolce. Yay Fall!

With Eden in school, I typically get to spend my Tuesday and Thursday mornings sewing. I have gotten SO MUCH DONE. When I was in Portland I visited the coolest fabric store- Cool Cottons-  where I bought a lot of fabric and a raincoat pattern. I think I'm almost caught up to my purchases and will try to take good photos soon. For now, here is a pic of Eden in her raincoat, which is apparently the perfect accessory for September Illinois weather.

Eden looks more and more like me while she acts more and more like her dad. Case in point: here is a face that she makes when she is really enjoying something, like chocolate milk straws.

Thomas gave up Krav Maga to work on his skills as a tweezer ninja:

I am organizing weekly crafts for Eden's Sunday school class, and she likes to hang them on the fridge when she gets home:

Eden traded in her crayons for watercolors, and has started filling in objects instead of randomly coloring (I'm of course ridiculously proud!).

Fall has begun!! Which means boots, sweaters, and tights. This is the (only) time of year I really enjoy fashion. Thanks to a ton of hand me downs and thrifted purchases we're ready for cooler weather!

Fall also means enjoying nature :). There are a ton of nature preserves where we live and it's fun to explore on Saturdays when Thomas can spend the day with us.

Other than the pictures I could locate to visually describe our September here are a few last highlights:
Trinity Wives Fellowship has started up and we're two chapters into Dee Breston's study on Esther. I'm enjoying the regular fellowship.
Thomas and I are still getting together with our Missional Order (Highwood housegroup from church) on Tuesdays and are enriched greatly by this community.
Thomas' semester is well under way. He is taking Systematic Theology, and guided research projects in adult education theory and a survey of the longest Phoenician/Luwian inscription. He is also working on wrapping up a paper on his summer dig in Israel, prepping for teaching Sunday school after the new year, and applying to PhD programs.
I host a weekly off-campus play group at our house on Wednesdays and have LOVED my home being filled with a million kids and moms who thrive on the weekly chats with peers.

Coming up: apple picking and pie baking, my love for pinterest, and finished sewing projects!

Monday, August 22, 2011


Our garden is in its late season: overgrown, starting to die, but still bearing a lot of fruit stage. I'm sure not everyone's garden begins to look like a jungle at this point, but ours always does. We have tomatoes, sweet 100s, zucchini, and green peppers. I just found out you're supposed to cut back your tomato plants to help them grow better?? It's really amazing that anything grows under my care. I plant, water (sometimes), and the just sit back until it dies.

We always make a Chicken-Orzo Salad with Goat Cheese when we have a surplus of cherry tomatoes and right now we have tons! We add kalmata olives and it's the perfect summer dinner. This morning I had the pleasure of taking a big batch over to a young couple with a new baby. I got to snuggle with her for a bit and it reminded me of my newest nieces and nephew. She's about a month old and they're almost 4, but they're about the same size!

So I'm thinking about them, Timothy, Elizabeth, and Mary, and wanted to share a few pics I snapped on our late July trip to Texas.

Mary was still in the hospital while we were there. While it was sad not seeing them altogether, it was nice to have one on one time with Mary. She is tinie tiny and has such piercing eyes.

If you didn't know Timothy and Elizabeth, you would think they were about a week old- sleepy, big cheeked cute newborns.

I cannot BELIEVE I have to wait until Christmas to snuggle with all these little ones again!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

While thomas was gone

Most of you know that between June 30 and August 7 Thomas was home for a mere 72 hours. Thankfully, for a week of that we were with him in Texas. I'm getting the question "what did you and Eden DO while Thomas was gone?" a lot, so I'm answering it here in the easiest way possible- a picture guide.
We played inside a lot because it was actually pretty hot in Illinois. Eden has started to play Mommy :).

Eden had a GREAT babysitter that allowed me to get a lot of work done and have some time to myself. The greatness of this sitter can best be described by the chalkboard drawing I found upon returning home from a Harry Potter matinee (and yes, movies by yourself can be awesome, especially when air conditioning is involved). Unfortunately she has returned to Georgia where she is a senior in college. I'm crossing my fingers that she lands her dream job in Chicago when she graduates in December. 
We also experimented with making new crayons using old broken pieces and IKEA silicone ice cube trays. The hearts turned out great, all the star points broke off.

We played outside a lot. I have flowers, herbs, tomatoes, peppers, and zucchini which I've managed to keep alive all summer!

We went to our favorite park in Glenview and played in a pool in our backyard.

Eden got her first bike, fun! We're still getting the hang of things, but have somehow managed to avoid serious injury thus far. She was also given a bubble machine from our really sweet neighbors.

In another first, she got a haircut! I started pestering her about getting one in March, and until one random day the week Thomas left for Israel, she was terrified of the idea. Thankfully, it was a great experience complete with an Angelina movie, balloon, and new headband.

So grownup! I love it :) and am already looking forward to the next one.

We took a lot of walks and spent a lot of time at Arriva Dolce- a new coffee/gelato shop in Highland Park. I've complained before that there was not a decent replacement for Java Jacks in our area- it's all starbucks and a couple non kid friendly local joints. Though I know nothing well ever replace JJ, this place is probably as close as I'll get. Best scones ever, good coffee, high chairs, close, lots of parking, nice baristas, and awesome atmosphere. Local people go and support them!!

I did manage to steal away one afternoon to explore part of the city. After reading Eat Shop Chicago I chose Andersonville as a place I could simply meander. In hindsight I wish I had done the Magnificent Mile, Logan Square, Lincoln Park, but I did have a pretty awesome lunch at Big Jones and an overall wonderfully relaxing time. I would like to do this again sometime. Anybody have a favorite Chicago neighborhood for walking around (cute shops, coffee, good lunch spot, art boutiques, etc)?

I finished this book and this book. Rearranged the living room. Ate a lot of toddler food. Went to Galveston sans Eden and spent two wonderful days with my best friends in the world. Mostly tried to do a lot to minimize missing Thomas- but of course it didn't work. We are very glad to have him back and I'll start pestering him to share some of his Israel trip on our blog!