Victorian Silk Scarf

Fresh off the knitting needles is a silk blend scarf from the book "Victorian Lace Today." Silk! I love how this scarf drapes and feels; I confess I've been playing dress up a bit with it even though it's a belated gift for a friend. I had to make sure it worked before giving it away, right? :)

Even the trees want to wear it!

detail of the "wide and handsome border" - this is an 1800's lace knitting pattern

I normally don't like designs with even-numbered objects, but this scarf was knitting up so wide that I decided to do just 2 pattern repeats instead of three in order to have enough yarn to get a good length. Overall size of this scarf is 11"x70". Yarn is Summer Ice from Autumn House Farms, bought at the 2006 Allegan Wool Festival in Michigan. (I used about 400 yd).

Reveling in Filth

The Domina's hands look like this. What has she been doing?

a) gardening with a new, rich compost
b) throwing pottery on a wheel
c) changing the oil in her van
d) refinishing furniture
e) hand-kneading chocolate bread dough

If you guessed "refinishing furniture" you win! Today I finally got around to staining the top of our table that was damaged in our Christmas water leak. Here's the table top in progress (left, unfinished; right, lovely pecan stain from Cabot).

Only the poly coat to go! Hooray! We can't wait to have our "new" table in the house. I think as a reward for all my hard work on this project, I deserve a manicure!


Sewing Love

A friend and I recently swapped craft projects - I sewed this "buttercup bag" for her in return for a bunch of darling handcrafted cards. This is a sweet little bag that took very little time to put together.

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Communion exhortation - Ecclesiastes 11:7-12:14

We are to fear God by remembering Him, and we are to keep His commandments. We do both when we come to this Table, for Jesus commanded us to do this, and He said to do it to remember Him. God sets a Table for us in the mist of our lives. He has given us His judgment of our lives already in the death of Christ at the cross, which we remember now. Your sin is atoned for. His righteousness is yours. It is finished. Come now fearing God, rejoicing in His gifts, remembering His grace and mercy poured out at the cross for you.

Rom 8:31-39


Communion Exhortation - 11/2/08

We have just broken the bread, picturing Christ’s body pierced in His head, His hands and feet and His side. Blood flowed from His head and hands and feet. But from His side, came blood and water, by which we are to be born again. From Adam’s side came His bride, Eve; from Christ’s side came His bride, the Church. So here we are, united to Christ. We are to accept the fruit of His sacrifice, our very lives, and give it back to the Bridegroom, multiplied and beautified, like any bride does in her house. But the wedding has not yet taken place. We are betrothed to Christ, and re-affirm it every time we commune here. The house is being put in order. The bride is making herself ready. You are accepted by God, by Christ’s work on the cross. May your justification lead to joyful communion, and to faithful work for Him. Eat, drink, see the good in Christ’s labor, and be satisfied in Him.


Communion Exhortation - Ecclesiastes 6:1-8:15

Text theme: Appearances to the contrary, God is just, and will bring justice to the world, so we must walk by faith, not sight, and evaluate men rightly.

This table doesn’t look like much, but God has appointed the humble and foolish things of this world to confound the wise. Our Lord Jesus established simple rituals to visualize our salvation. These days, Hollywood tries to preach its gospel by blowing us away with the latest computer generated graphics and moving soundtracks. But Jesus has us sprinkle some water, and eat and drink some innocuous bread and wine. Not very impressive. And the sacraments aren’t meant to be experientially impressive and moving, because they are pointing beyond themselves to Christ, and what He has done for us. We are washed, we are fed in His house.

So don’t let appearances fool you. Here is the living Lord, coming intimately close with His Church, of which you are a part. The movies are all external, and look great. But His humble bread and wine enter us and feed us. His baptism washes the inside of your cup.

This is true, b/c what looked like the greatest tragedy was really our greatest blessing: the cross, on Good Friday. There, amidst the greatest injustice, the righteousness of God was made clear. At the cross, the penalty for our sin is clear. And at the cross, the mercy and kindness of God is clear, in providing His Son to take the punishment for us.

So I commend at this Table, not funereal, self-righteous long faces, but enjoyment, because you have nothing better under the sun than to eat, drink, and be merry; for the work of Christ will remain with you all the days of your life that God gives you.

Eat, drink, see the good in Christ’s labor, and be satisfied in Him.


Communion Exhortation - Ecclesiastes 3:16-5:20

I've gotten way behind on these.

Here is the most recent in the series, if you want to catch up. Now that I'm caught up with my Calvin reading, I'm hoping to do 2 posts a day - 1 on Calvin, and 1 communion exhortation or Narnia chapter.

We come to this table in worship to receive from Jesus Christ. It is the Lord’s Table, and not our own, and so we must come humbly. We do not speak and act rashly, as if we owned the place. We do not open our mouths to object to the Lord’s ordering of His world. We open our mouths, so that He can fill them. We do this faithfully receiving our portion from God’s hand, receiving the enjoyment and blessing He gives through Christ.

We do not eat alone. 2 are better than 1, and a 3-fold cord is not easily broken. This meal was not meant to be just between you and God. Paul warning about how to partake worthily in 1 Cor 11 begins with a basic assumption: “when you come together as a church.” We are to discern and regard and esteem the Body of Christ highly, as Christ did. So when we come together, we wait for one another. But there is more we can do beyond a routine of holding the bread and all eating at once. How else can you receive this Supper by faith among the community of God’s people? We want to express our faith in and love for Christ, and you see about 100 different people through whom to express it around you. You don’t just happen to believe in the same Jesus. No, Jesus is weaving you together with friends here, creating one masterpiece tapestry. He is doing this here at this Table, where the Spirit unites us with the source of life, Jesus Himself. We cannot see the whole tapestry, b/c we are IN it, and can’t step back to take in the whole view. That is our place; to be part of the body and to play our part humbly and well. We do this by faith, believing that God sent Jesus into the tapestry to restore it when it was unraveling. He died, so we could die to the penalty and power of our sin; He rose that we might live in Him. Eat, drink, see the good in Christ’s labor, and be satisfied in Him.


Ballet Recital 2009

Our daughter completed her 3rd year in ballet, taught by two very admirable young ladies (14 & 16 yrs old!). This year we were fortunate to have their recital on a real stage, instead of in a garage. The girls felt so special dancing on a stage with lights - just like the pros. As you can see, our darling was the tallest in her class, which means those long arms were put to their fullest advantage. The last picture is of all the participants.




Dining Set Refinishing Project

This project is getting closer to completion. It's been 5 months since the water leak at Christmas damaged our table and chairs, and I think it's high time this was wrapped up! We'd like to be able to have guests over again!! Here are some photos of the work in progress from this past week.


Chair primed and sanded, ready for first coat of paint.

table base ready for last clear coat (the neighbor decided to mow his yard right after I painted this! I was so worried about bits of grass sticking in the wet paint!)

Last chair to be painted - ran out of paint!! Grrr.

If the weather cooperates, this week I'll be finishing that last chair and staining the table top. If I ever sand another turned chair leg it'll be too soon. I tried to get the kids to help sand, but they wimped out on me when they realized it wasn't as easy as it looked (one stuck around longer hoping good works would relieve him of his schoolwork responsibilities. Sorry bud, math is sanctifying)


May is for Tulips

We missed yet another Tulip Time festival in Holland, MI this year. Thousands of tulips were celebrated with parades, dancing in wooden shoes, and junk food. My friend Val documented it here with her vibrant photos. You thought I was crazy for walking to the mailbox each day in my clogs, the Holland HS band marches 5 miles in wooden shoes while playing "Tiptoe through the tulips" - not only do they march, but they do a little dance while playing!

A kids dutch dance was added this year. My niece was one of the many children who learned a dance and song in Dutch and performed for the tourists. All those costumes are inspected and have to meet strict standards! Parades start with costumed folks participating in street scrubbing - actually tossing water on the roads and scrubbing them with brooms! Well of course you can't host guests from all over the world without making sure everying is sparkly Dutch clean! Perhaps next year we will make it to see the tulips and wooden shoes and windmill.


Answering Prayer

2 Samuel 15:31-34

"And it was told David, "Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom." And David said, "O LORD, please turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness." 32While David was coming to the summit, where God was worshiped, behold, Hushai the Archite came to meet him with his coat torn and dirt on his head. 33David said to him, "If you go on with me, you will be a burden to me. 34But if you return to the city and say to Absalom, 'I will be your servant, O king; as I have been your father’s servant in time past, so now I will be your servant,' then you will defeat for me the counsel of Ahithophel."

File this under "Things I never noticed while reading the Bible."
David prays for Absalom's counselors to be confounded, and the next person he meets is someone who can help him do that: Hushai.

When you pray for wisdom, open your eyes and expect God to provide earthly means to an answer. Too often, we wait for a sensational, supernatural answer.



It's been awhile since I've posted any of the happenings in our home. We've been busy with spring activities, mostly working on the yard and flowers around the house. I'm also in the middle of refinishing our dining table from last Christmas's water issue.

When not outside digging in the dirt, we've been busy with our school work. Currently the kids are studying ancient Egypt with a foray into Babylonian history with Hammurabi. One cannot study Babylon without trying their hand at some cuneiform writing! Here are our names:

Since clay tablets are outlawed in our house (I don't do glitter or playdough in any form), I carved a long triangle shape out of some corks. Then the kids used a black stamp pad to create their names.


Happy 500th Birthday...

Q: Is it fitting for we who are Calvinists to adopt the theology of a man, and one who murdered Servetus?
A: "...of course it would be wrong to adopt a theology of a man. Those who accuse Calvinists of doing so, however, expose their own historical ignorance. Calvinists are not followers of Calvin. Neither are they followers of a theology created by Calvin. Instead we are they who embrace a system of thought that has a long and honored history in the church. If our theology derived from any lone man, and it didn’t, that man would be Saint Augustine , whom Calvin quoted more than any other scholar. Our tradition includes the Puritans, and the Pilgrims, the Dutch Reformed church, the Scottish Kirk that blossomed under John Knox. It includes the German Reformed church and the French Huguenots. Calvinism existed before Calvin and it thrives now five hundred years after his birth. Ours is the theology of the Reformation.
"Which still is reason enough in some people’s minds to reject it. Some point out the all too painful reality that in some instances the power of the sword was used during the time of the Reformation to “settle” theological disputes. Servetus was indeed put to death in Geneva , the town where Calvin served, and put to death not for what we would today consider crimes, but for propagating heresy. More broadly still the Reformed during the time of the Reformation believed it fitting to wage literal war against theological opponents on both ends of the spectrum. They warred with Rome , and together with Rome warred against the Anabaptists. My spiritual fathers took up carnal weapons in their quest to make known the reign of Christ over all things. I believe they were wrong to do so, horribly, horribly wrong.
"The willingness to use the power of the state in this kind of context was, in my judgment, both grievous error, and terribly common error. It was, in fact, evidence of an insufficient Reformation. Our spiritual fathers sadly here followed in the footsteps of their immediate fathers, Rome herself. The Anabaptists, though they erred and continue to err in denying the fittingness of Christians to wage just war, rightly understood that war was not the right means to persuade those either outside the kingdom, or even occupying a different corner of the kingdom. In a similar manner, Calvin erred, in my judgment, in not urging the city fathers of Geneva against the execution of Servetus. (Remember, however, that however muddied their conception of appropriate spheres of authority, it was the civil government, over which Calvin had no authority, that condemned Servetus.) Calvin murdered no one. He did have a deficient understanding of the appropriate limits of state power.
"We would be wise to remember that all our heroes save one had feet of clay. As we this year celebrate the 500th birthday of Calvin, let us not fall into a hagiography that he himself would not approve, turning heroes into sinless saints. Let us not, on the other hand, however, succumb to revisionist history that would turn heroes into monsters. Let us give thanks for that Biblical theology that we sometimes call Calvinism, and give thanks for Calvin."


From Jay Adams:

"[Jesus] is the firstfuits of those who will be raised from the dead to eternal life. He is the One in Whom all that we were incapable of doing as sinners was accomplished perfectly so that, being “in Him,” we are counted (reckoned) to be just before the Judge of the universe since His righteousness is reckoned to us.
You have much to rejoice about, Christian. Sure things go wrong here-very much so. But in His time, all will be set straight. And, at that time, you will enter into all of the joys, privileges and love that will be realized when you shall see Him as He is. There is much to look forward to. Remember that fact when things get tough here."


Against everything... what for?

From Steve Wilkins:

"The perception surrounding the words “protest” and “protestantism” have affected our own psychology. We have in fact become more “negative” than affirmative. We think of ourselves as the guys whose specialty is spotting errors, identifying misunderstandings, and locating heresies from a mile away so that we can shoot them through the center hole. As a result, our corporate identity has become one of complainers and nit-pickers — those who are always seeing the problems and errors in everything and everyone around us (i.e. everything except our things and everyone except ourselves). We’ve forgotten who we are and consequently have, more often than not, lived up to the caricatures others have drawn. We have become divisive, self-righteous, Pharisaical, and arrogant."


Losing our religion

This is an interesting graph of the changing religious professions of Americans over the last 18 years.

Courtship - details

Chapter 5

When approached by a friend-become-suitor dad should hear him out graciously, take a few days, pray and talk with his wife and daughter. If the answer is yes, he spends time with the family, together. If that goes well, they have time more alone, still accountable, maybe completely by themselves, depending. If things start deteriorating, the father should intervene pronto, and show him the door. If that goes well, the young man should be asking for her hand shortly. If he doesn't, the father should call the question, discerning whether it is a cold feet "yes," or an indecisive "no."

Don't spend so much time and energy on the wedding - the doorway into the new household - that you neglect or trash the new household itself. At a wedding the family reproduces itself, while the church and state witness it, binding the new household to covenant faithfulness.

Marriage brings out the selfishness or servanthood in a person. Honor and serve each other out of honor for God.

Objection to courtship #1: parents can make mistakes
Answer: so do the young people; the Bible puts dad in charge.

Objection #2: how can we require what we didn't do ourselves?
The Bible sets the pattern, not our experience. Do you permit sexual impurity in your children if you weren't pure yourselves?

Objection #3: how can we get to know the young people that will be interested in our children?
Have them in your home in a group setting, that doesn't pair people up. Character is revealed far more clearly in a group setting than in one-on-one dating. Watch how he talks to his mother, more than how he smooth-talks you on a date. The couple should not be growing attached while putting up appearances with each other on dates, before discerning each other's character more objectively in group settings. Relational hyper-sensitivity and angst in young people ("she likes me! oooohhhh, she doesn't like me...) needs to be matured by parents who encourage and admonish - it won't be cured by courtship.

Pairing off informally is bad news. It leaves both parties, especially the girl, unprotected. You need to commit to courting a girl with the intent of marrying her, after discerning her character is good and you are attracted to her, but before you have any intimate knowledge of her outside a group.

Jealousy is bad news... jealousy among the parents!
It is disguised, because it is concern for another: their child - but it is still sin to be jealous for your child against another, where there is no marriage covenant to be rightly jealous over.

Courtship - criteria

Criteria for courtship. A suitor needs to be
1 a Christian
2 a likeminded Christian (education, baptism, doctrine, etc.)
3 financially stable.
The groom paid the OT bride price to the bride or her family, to demonstrate the financial security he could give his bride - Deut 22:28-29. Biblical cultures give women financial security when entering marriage.
4 attractive to the girl, and the girl to the suitor!
Also, consider if intellectual and cultural backgrounds, as well as vocational pursuits, are compatible. Does she know he wants to be a pilot out in the bush?

Women shouldn't sit still and wait for a man, but be productive. This means a man when he comes along will interrupt her life, and that is fine, if she is really seeking marriage, as she should be.

Sometimes it seems there are only two options: meek and emasculated Christian young men, or confident and assertive immature Christians or non-Christians. Women are tempted to settle for less spiritually to have what looks like strength and leadership.

Courtship - preparing daughters

Courtship can't happen without the daughter's buy-in. She should trust her father, and he should establish that trust by leading well over her whole life - Colossians 3:21. She still needs to obey him, even if he hasn't led well, but he should make it easy for her to obey and trust him to have her best interest at heart - not his own.

Dad has to train his daughter in modesty, not seeking the attention of men by how she dresses. The young man seeks a sexual relationship with the man's daughter - no point denying this. Dad doesn't protect her from this - it is the whole point! - but from improper sexual attention and attraction at the outset.

But we should affirm feminine beauty, since Scripture does (Gen 12:11, 14; 24:16; 29:17; 1 Sam 25:3; Esther 1:11; 2:7; Job 42:15; Song of Solomon). Make-up is not inherently sinful (Ezek 16:6:14), but can be applied ostentatiously and sinfully. Find the balance between Islamic restrictiveness and worldly wantonness.

Dad should live in a way that daughter respects him, and seeks a suitor she can respect similarly. She will then be glad to be given by a godly man to a godly man.

Daughters should know how to (1) reject firmly sexual advances; how to (2) stay distant from opposite sex friends who happen to be around a lot, mildly flirting; how to (3) point honorable suitors to her father. Parents and daughters both should be careful not to favor the suitor who does everything by the book (going to dad, first, e.g.), but to judge his actual character. Parents should render tentative and initial assessments of young men in the community to their daughters. Don't let siblings' tease your daughter about courtship possibilities, or keep her from discussing them with parents/family.

Courtship - preparing sons

Parents need to equip sons to leave home - Gen 2:24 - by teaching them about marriage, from 1 Cor 6-7; Leviticus 18; Mark 6:18; 1 Cor 7:39, and by living it themselves. Marriage is an earthly, covenantal union, not an eternal, metaphysical union. Encourage and channel boys' masculinity, don't discipline it out of them. Else they'll be too timid to intervene in a girl's life. A boy may hear "no" from her father; he should have been learning long before this from his parents to cope well with getting knocked down. Parents also instill self-control early, so the boy can control himself sexually, needing to wait several years from desire to fulfillment.

Young men should always assume the burden of proof in moving the relationship forward, explaining to her father and her his plans, Lord willing. He doesn't press for a commitment from her ahead of time, using God's will as leverage to get it. He protects her from the risk of initiating, relationally. He lets her respond to him, and if it is no, he protects her from having to explain why. Her dad will be her main protection in this, and the young man protects her by going through him. He is a gentleman.

Courtship - Authority of parents

...over daughters - Chapter 1

Numbers 30 (especially verse 5) teaches that a husband or father can ratify or veto a wife’s or daughter’s vows or commitments, when he hears of it. This applies to a daughter’s commitment to a suitor. Numbers 30 also teaches by implication that there is no period of independence for a young woman between being under her father’s authority and then getting married. Exception: widows and divorcees are independent of their fathers. The Bible speaks of women as “given in marriage” (Ps 78:63; Luke 20:34; Matt 24:38), which means someone (dad) has the authority to give her.

Romance is a blessing from God, but can't be the foundation of a relationship - it is the window dressing. Dad's authority extends over his daughter's romantic, emotional, spiritual and physical attachments to young men. Deuteronomy 22:13-21 and Exodus 22:16-17 teach that dad is responsible for his daughter's sexual purity, and can decide whether or not to give her in marriage, AFTER sexual activity has taken place. "How much more does the father have the authority to say NO when there is nothing more than mild emotional or sexual interest?"

Courting activity is connected to the daughter's family, but in dating the couple's privacy is paramount.

Courtship - Introduction

"Biblical Courtship in the Modern World"

I'm reading this booklet today - going to review/summarize it here, chapter by chapter.


Our current dating practice encourages sexual activity, emotional vulnerability without covenant protection, and comfort with serial relationships and break-ups. Just because many “survive” and successfully marry after dating doesn’t make it a good system. God made men to initiate, and women to respond, generally. Dating takes most of the risk out of the initiation, with flirting – the guy can tell after a while if she will say yes. This removes the girl’s father from the process, when his permission should be sought upfront. This is the real risk for the boy to initiate! Courtship protects the girl from boys running roughshod over her, which is systematically allowed in dating. Labels are relative here. While "dating" has bad connotations, it isn’t against Scripture for a boy and girl to go out alone. "Courtship" comes from a medieval system associated with immorality. “Some couples who ‘date’ are in closer conformity with biblical principles than other couples who embrace the ‘courtship’ model.”