A NEW AVOCATION

I recognize that I have been somewhat absent in the blogosphere lately.  When the Ruminant Scribe came into being in 2015, I was submitting a new post every 3 or 4 days.  I then went to submitting a post twice a week, usually on Tuesday and Friday.  That schedule continued uninterrupted, for the most part, until 2018 when my postings became more sporadic.

I apologize to my readers for the drop off in submissions, but I have been working on a new avocation.  I have posted previously about the surprise Christmas present that my husband gave to me in December of 2017.  It is an incredible embroidery/sewing machine.  And, I have been enjoying it tremendously ever since it was given (at least after I had taken the classes so that I knew what buttons to push, how to thread the machine, etc.).  Then, after somewhat mastering the sewing aspect of the machine, I had several more lessons on how to use the embroidery aspect of the machine.  I have had fun!

Several years ago, the women of my church got together to sew dresses for children in  Southeast Asia and Africa who are cared for in a ministry called Homes of Love.  The children who were orphaned or abandoned are brought into a home where they are loved and cared for by their house mother.   [For more information about Homes of Love and the wonderful work that they are doing, see their website at homesoflove.org/]  The homes undertake a marvelous work, all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, the Homes of Love motto is “Creating Families for Life”. The ladies in our church wanted to help by creating and sending some much-needed clothing.  (See the post “Clothed in … what?” dated February 13, 2018.)

The dresses that I started making in 2018 were known as pillowcase dresses.  They are loose and easy to sew, at least they are not too problematic for a beginner sewer like me.  (It had been a l-o-n-g time since 7th grade Home Economics sewing class, and, in case you were wondering, sewing is not included, in any way, shape, or form, in the law school curriculum!)  So, the pillowcase dress was good for me to use as I began my sewing adventure.

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However, now that I have learned (in a rudimentary sense) how not only to sew but also to embroider on this marvelous machine, I have begun making Tee-Shirt Dresses with embroidery on the shirt and, sometimes, on skirt as well.  It has become an avocation in which I have been blessed to participate.

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These dresses are certainly not professionally sewn.  But, they are prepared with love and prayers as I am working on them.  And, the Lord had given me much pleasure in making these clothes for children who may not have had a “nice new dress” to wear in a long time.  It is not much, but it is something that the Lord can use for His glory.

More recently I began making some shorts and tops for the little girls.  This has been a new challenge since I had never made “pants” before.  I guess I’m not too old to learn, although, again, they are not as error free as a professional outfit might be. But they, too, are made with love and prayers for the safety and well-being of the children who will receive them.

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I then combined the embroidery on the tee shirts with shorts, cut the tee shirts down a bit so the shirt would not hide the shorts, and then added a pocket to the shorts.

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I think I have provided at least 25 dresses and 4 shirt/short outfits to be sent to the Homes of Love since the first of the year.  All this is simply to say, my posting activity has plummeted, and now you know why.  I plan to continue posting on the Ruminant Scribe. I just wanted you to know what has been consuming my time.

Blessings to you and thank you for patience as I try to balance the sewing avocation, posting on the blog, church work that we lovingly offer to our Lord and Savior, and family activities with the loved ones who God has placed in our lives and hearts.

Father, thank You for all the blessings that continually come our way, through your great mercy and love.  You are the Father of all mercies, and we praise your name for your steadfast love and kindness to us.  Let us be careful to give You the praise and honor that rightly belong to You, our God, our Savior, our Lord, our heavenly Father.

CLOTHED IN … WHAT?

Several years ago, the women of my church got together to sew dresses for children in  Southeast Asia and Africa who are cared for in a ministry called Homes of Love.  The children who were orphaned or abandoned are brought into a home where they are loved and cared for by their house mother.   [For more information about Homes of Love and the wonderful work that they are doing, see their website at homesoflove.org/]  The homes undertake a marvelous work, all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, the Homes of Love motto is “Creating Families for Life”. The ladies in our church wanted to help by creating and sending some much-needed clothing.  Look at the impact that having new clothes can make in a child’s life.

At the time this project was undertaken, I was still employed full time, so I was not able to join in this effort.   Now, however, retirement has given me some time during the day that I could do something like this,, on a smaller scale of course, but I didn’t even think about it until Christmas when my husband surprised me with a new sewing machine.

1st Homes of Love dress - picture 2
First dress with cute buttons

 

I have now completed three dresses for the precious little girls. 

2nd Homes of Love Dress - Copy
Second dress, now with a pocket.

They are not professionally done, that’s for sure, and I know where the mistakes were made and remedies attempted; but, they were made because of love for our Lord and for His children.

3rd Homes of Love dress
Third dress with decorated pocket.

3rd Homes of Love dress - decorated pocket

This project has prompted me to consider the relationship between clothing and our spiritual well-being.

Dr. R. C. Sproul, in the Renewing Your Mind broadcast entitled “Clothed in Righteousness,” comments on the first covering mankind had.  [You can access this broadcast by going to renewingyourmind.org and then accessing the archive listing for January 16, 2018.] 

Immediately after Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, scripture says:

“Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.”

Genesis 3:7-8

Prior to their sin, the first couple did not know embarrassment; they did not have feelings of shame because they were naked.  They were in perfect union with each other and with God. Their bodies certainly were not shameful; they were made specifically by God for each other.   In fact, each evening the Lord would come and walk with them through the garden.  No clothing, no shame, nothing to interfere with their enjoyment of their God.

But all that changed in an instant, when they ate the fruit from the forbidden tree; their eyes were opened, and Adam and Eve now felt embarrassment, shame, guilt.  They sewed fig leaves to make themselves a covering, to help them hide and when they heard the Lord, they ran for the trees to hide themselves from their God.  Note that their fig leaves were not clothes – they were coverings.  The intent was not to exchange nakedness with fig leaves; the exchange was between innocence and obedience in sharp contrast with sin, shame and guilt.

We are like that too, are we not?  When we have disobeyed God, or even merely our parents or employers, we are shameful, and we hide ourselves.  Guilt and shame are powerful agents for hiding, trying to disappear so that our actions will not be found out or, if they become known, at least we will not be around to see the consequences. 

God, of course, knew where they were and what they had done.  He didn’t need them to provide information to Him – He needed them to understand the full ramifications of their actions.  So, after they admitted what they had done, God punished them, issuing curses on the serpent, the woman and the man.  Then God said something miraculous, and indicative of His love for His creation.  In speaking to the serpent, God said:

“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

Genesis 3:15

This is known as the “protoevangelium”, a fancy word meaning that it is the first gospel, the first good news found in Scripture, and it comes in the third chapter of the first book in the Bible.  It pronounces the curse on mankind because of Adam’s sin but God does not stop there … He goes on to tell of His provision for a Savior who would take the curse upon Himself, thus relieving His people from their sin.   Think of it — even though God cursed Adam and Eve because of their disobedience, their actions did not take God by surprise!  Genesis 3:15 tells us that God had already a plan in mind for a Savior who could restore the relationship between mankind and God, the Savior known as the Lord Jesus Christ. 

This is good news indeed, but for Adam and Eve, they were still in the trees with their fig leaves.  God could have told them to get out of the garden, to leave everything that He had given them, and get out!  Go roam wherever you want but you are not welcome here, under my shelter, under my protective hand. You disobeyed, and you brought this on yourself.

But instead, the Lord provided tangible evidence of His love and care, despite their disobedience.

“And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.”

Genesis 3:21

Before He cast them out of the garden, God himself made garments of skins for clothing of the man and his wife.  Dr. Sproul calls this “God’s first act of redemption,” and the first act that required the spilling of blood.  God did not cover Adam and Eve to hide them, He clothed them with skins.  Just as blood was shed when God clothed our first parents after they sinned, He offers to clothe us with the righteousness of Jesus Christ because of the shed blood of our Lord and Savior.

Scripture says that our best works, our best clothes, our best words and actions are as filthy rags before the Holy God.  So, we, like Adam and Eve, need clothes from God so that we can stand before Him.

The prophet Isaiah said it this way:

“I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”

Isaiah 61:10

Beloved, Jesus Christ, our Lord has clothed us in His righteousness.  Praise His Holy Name!

Hear now the song “Clothed in Righteousness” as presented on the album entitled Glory to the Holy One.  The lyrics are presented below so you can follow the words as they sung.

 

Clothed in Righteousness, Lyrics

Fallen race in Eden fair
Exposed and full of shame
Fled we naked from Thy sight
Far from Thy Holy Name

Refrain

Clothe us in Your righteousness
Hide filthy rags of sin
Dress us in Your perfect garb
Both outside and within

 

Sent from the garden in the east
Outside of Eden’s gate
Banished there from Thy pure light
Were Adam and his mate

Scarlet souls are now like snow
By Thy atoning grace
Crimson hearts become like wool
For Adam’s fallen race

Refrain

 

No work of ours is good enough
For evil to atone
Your merit, Lord, is all we have
It saves, and it alone

Refrain

 

Father, I pray that the words of this post and the music presented here would be used by the Holy Spirit in the hearts of those who read the message and hear the music.  Thank You, Father, for Your Spirit and for Your love as You clothe us in the righteousness of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.

ARE YOU THE STRETCH NEEDLE?

Many decades ago, when I was in college, I became engaged to be married.  About 8 months before the wedding date, we were going to Wisconsin to see his parents when he announced that he had a present for me– a new home!

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A beautiful new home! Ours?

I was ecstatic, but rather wondered how he would have made such a big purchase at that point in our lives, and without me having any input. 

When we arrived, he ran into the house and called to me “Come on in, it’s in here!”  Again, I was a bit confused.  How could our home be under the roof of his parents’ home?  After all, his parents lived in the downstairs flat with his grandmother on the second story of the house.  It might get a bit close!

I came into the living room and he was proudly standing in front of the coffee table where he stepped aside and, voila, there before my eyes was … a brand new NEW HOME sewing machine.

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It was a NEW HOME alright!

I had never heard of a NEW HOME sewing machine, but I was now the proud owner of one.  I had only had 1 semester of Home Economics in high school, and that included both cooking and sewing – to sum it up, I had no clue how to sew! 

So, the machine made a good door stop.  I did make curtains that were dynamite and I did attempt sewing some clothes for my daughter [when she was too young to notice that the yellow ducks on the dress were actually upside down in the back but right side up on the front.]  But for many years, the machine languished in the extra bedroom closet, without a thought of being used in this millennia!

Although the giver of the sewing machine died twenty years ago, and the marriage died earlier than that, the NEW HOME persevered.  It is heavy as lead (probably because that’s what it is made of) but it still sews straight lines great!  No embroidery or fancy stuff built into the electronics – well, electronics as we know them today did not exist when it was made almost 50 years old.  It goes straight and, if you push the fabric gently, it will stitch on the curve that you create. 

Now, in retirement, I have been sewing more often, mostly place mats or small tablecloths or decorative towels for our RV.  Recently, I wanted something to keep us warm and toasty on cold evenings so I picked up some fleece fabric from the store.  Soft and cuddly, I was sure it would be wonderful and I was anxious to get started sewing.

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The NEW HOME ready to go, pin cushion and all!.

I got my pin cushion (from high school) out and a new pair of scissors — ready to do some sewing!  I put the fabric on the machine and stitched about 4 stitches when the thread broke.  So, I re-threaded the needle (at a loss of about 20 minutes because I can’t see the hole in the needle and the NEW HOME predated “self-threading” machines). This scenario repeated at least 5 times until I gave up in frustration.  I was “over it”.

Bill, upon hearing of my failed attempts at being the Domestic Diva, said “Why not take the failed stitch sample to the fabric shop and see if they could help?” 

So, I went to the fabric shop and, upon seeing my fabric swatch, the owner immediately said “Stretch Needle”, and then walked away.  I had never heard of a stretch needle – Did it stretch when you used it?  Did you have to stretch before using it?  It looked like a regular needle to me, but it was worth a try!  I bought a pack of them and went home.

I put one on the machine and, to quote a Christmas poem “What to my wondering eyes should appear” but stitches – straight, long and not broken.  That was the solution – that was the “tool” that I needed to do the job.  WOW.  In 3 hours I had my whole project done and a cuddly wrap was being enjoyed.

After this experience, I did some research on “stretch needles” and found that they have a medium ballpoint tip, with a special eye and scarf, and they are designed for extremely stretchy fabrics and elastic. 

In short, I was trying to do something with a regular needle when the better way was with a stretch needle for the stretchy fleece fabric.

That prompted me to think — how often do we, in our Christian ministry, do something one way simply because it is how we did it in the past, even though there might be a better, more effective way available now, if only we were willing to change. 

Let me be clear – I am NOT talking about changing what we say in our message.  The message is, and always should be:

Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father for salvation.

John 14:6 records Jesus’ words about other means of salvation: “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” 

Whether our culture likes it or not, my Lord said it, and He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  His words are recorded in scripture and that ends the matter for me.

But, I am saying that in the Body of Christ, we each have a job to do, and we are ordained to fulfill that specific role in spreading His message of salvation to the world around us.  Am I doing my specific role in the Body of Christ or am I doing what I want to do even if this is not the role God created for me to fulfill?  What about you?  Paul said it this way:

But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. … Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.

1 Corinthians 12:18, 27

As a church, are we using the right tool to accomplish the job before us?  Are we using the general use needle when the stretch needle can do the job better?  Is there someone in our congregation who is active in ministry but who is having to work harder than an individual who, while gifted in that ministry, is not doing the job because no one has asked them to do so?  Are we using the right people for the right ministry, or do we simply have people do the work because they were willing to do so, without respect to whether they could be used more effectively elsewhere in the Body of Christ?

As an individual, are you satisfied with taking in the Word through the sermon and, perhaps, even a small group Bible study but not exhibiting spiritual growth through serving a need that you have been prepared to fill in the Body of Christ?  Are you the “stretch needle” that the “general use needles” are looking for? 

I pray that we each would be willing to serve as the Lord directs, not seeking the top spot or the glamour of the best position but that we would be willing servants filling the need that we were equipped to do so that the Lord’s kingdom would advance and so that our Master would be pleased.

Both the general use needle and the stretch needle are needed to accomplish what the Body of Christ is to do.  Prayerfully consider your role.  If you are a Christian, you can be sure you have one because you are part of the Body of Christ.

Blessings to you as you seek to do His will through the power of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Father, enable us to do Your will so that the message of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ would be heard around the world.  Give us Your wisdom, strength and love for others as we seek to do Your will in the Body of Christ.