Two Quilts: My Happy Little Trees

happylittletreesthumbMy friend Brienne asked me to make her sister’s baby a quilt.  I pretty much had a week to do it from when she let me know she she wanted one made up, though I did it in three days and the baby was born as I was making it!  It is thanks to my friend for picking out the pattern (I gave her ideas based on her sister’s interests and she chose this pattern).

It was a huge success and I even did an applique on the back with the little girl’s initials on it.  I dropped it off and the family really was happy with it and it was great to see the newborn babe in her mother’s arms.  I have since been told that the mother of the baby is scared it will get ruined because it is so pretty and wants to hang it up instead of use it (oh my).treequilt1thumb treequilt2thumb treequilt3thumb

When I posted on instagram a couple pictures of the quilt, my cousin said she wanted one in red and green.  I made one for her a little larger than the first one, because she said she wanted to cuddle with her kids in the holiday season.  The first one was a “throw” size while this one is more of a “twin” size.  You can’t really see it too well in the photos, but the white fabric has snowflakes all over it, so I liked the idea that the snow was falling on the trees.

As for the finalizing of quilts, I wanted it to look like the wind was blowing through the trees, so I made the little waves across the trees.missyquilt1thumb missyquilt2thumb missyquilt6thumb missyquilt7thumbmissyquilt5thumbmissyquilt9thumbmissyquilt4thumbmissyquilt3thumb

For the Refugees

Syrian RefugeeSo whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. -Jesus in Matthew 7:12

There are refugees all around the world, but the Syrian refugee crisis is the largest ever.  It makes my heart sink so much.  I have been tweeting and explaining their crisis to others for two years.

I can’t believe that I hear so many Christians wanting to push away refugees at all.  I believe God would want us to welcome them, for Exodus 22 & 23 even states to treat the sojourner/foreigner well, for we were all sojourners at one time (and unless you were born a Native in the US, your family was also a sojourner here at one time too).

Jesus was born in an occupied area by Romans and baby boys were being hunted and killed during that time.  There were probably many people who left their homes to seek safety for their children.  Jesus’ earthly father Joseph and his mother Mary went to Egypt to live for a few years before they even returned to their home.  His very first memories would have been as a refugee.  [Matthew 2]

Syrians have had a war torn home in the past few years.  They fear for their lives. They are scared and wish they could go back home, but if no one welcomes them at all, they will die.  Although I don’t have a house of my own (we rent in a duplex) I would love to be able to open my home to refugees if my landlord allowed it.  We may not have much room, but it is better than seeing them on the streets.

Jesus told the story of the good Samaritan, who was a person that Jewish people looked down on because they were pretty much “half breeds” (Jewish and Gentile).  Yet it was the hated person who helped the battered man on the side of the street.  The holiest men (the Levi and the Priest) completely ignored the person who was robbed and abused, yet someone  decided to show compassion and love, caring for the man until he was well, and he was the least likely of people thought to do so.[Luke 10]

Would you want people to help you if you were in their shoes (if they even have them, for that matter, wouldn’t you want them to help give you shoes and somewhere to stay and feel safe)?  I know I would hope that someone would be kind to my family if we were suffering as many refugees do.

I saw pictures today of Syrian refugee children who were on the streets sleeping. Jesus said that we are to allow children to go to him because theirs is the kingdom of heaven, yet we allow these sweet babies to sleep on the street? They are more worthy of heaven than anyone, yet there they rest, crying each night as they try to sleep. Jesus said to not hinder children, yet Christians are turning them away. [Matthew 19:14]

Matthew 25:31-46 is amazing.  Jesus basically says that on the final day of judgement he is going to separate people NOT by groups of nations, yet all nations will be present, but categorized into “sheep” and “goats”.  He will separate them as those who are blessed (the sheep) by the Father because they gave Jesus, their king, a reason for doing right: something to eat when he was hungry, something to drink when he was thirsty, something to wear when he was naked, welcomed him when he was a stranger, and visited him when he was a prisoner or was sick.  Those who receive this blessing will be confused because they didn’t see Jesus in physical form, but he lets them know that when they did help those in need, they were helping him.  The same applies here for refugees who are indeed strangers.  What happens to those who did nothing (the goats) and even those who said they were worshipers of Christ but refused to do such kind things for others ? He said since they completely ignored his teachings by ignoring those who should be treated as they should have treated him, they receive no eternal life, and instead receive eternal punishment.  That should keep us all on our toes.

My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.  For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in,  and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, ‘You sit here in a good place,’ while you say to the poor man, ‘You stand over there,’ or, ‘Sit down at my feet,‘  have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?  Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor man.  Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court?  Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?  If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing well.” -James 2:1-8

A temporary way to help by donating to organizations:

  1. World Help: Refugee Relief
  2. MCC’s Refugee help
  3. Refugees International
  4. Refugee Action
  5. UN Refugees
  6. International Refugee Assistance Project
  7. International Refugee Committee

How I Face a Challenge

I like facing challenges. I don’t like the rejection I receive after deciding to go through a challenge.

It is hard for me when people don’t want to ask why I am doing something, when they don’t understand when I try to explain it, when they start assuming their own ideas about me without asking specifics, and when they just think I am crazy or misled.  My husband tells me, “Just accept it and move on.” He’s right.  How can I move on though?

This year has been one of challenges for me in so many varied ways. Scratch that, these past five years have been extremely challenging and life transforming.  I have lost a lot, and not just the possessions I have rid my life of.  I try to remember the many things I have gained, and it comforts me greatly.  It is important to be thankful for even the smallest things, which helps me feel a lot of joy. As hard as the past five years have been, they have also been my best five years.

How have I faced each challenge that I face in life? On my knees in prayer,  crying out for help and guidance while reading through scriptures and trying to understand them as if I never heard or read it before in order to renew my mind and soul.

I actually have to go through a mourning period.  Sometimes this can last for a few months, and that is okay.  I will not stay there. I must move out of it.  Staying there is a terrible thing that can make me pitifully selfish. I think I have stayed in this current mourning period for far too long.

I think about King David who decided to defy God by disobeying Him in several ways.  As discipline, he had consequences to face.  When he did face them he did not blame God.  He blamed himself for doing wrong and asked for forgiveness.   I go through a self-blame game and over analyze.  It actually torments me to do this and needs to stop.

When the mourning period ends, rejoicing is important.  Today I am ready.  This day marks the end of my mourning period.  I can move forward!  Today I will rejoice for I am alive and free from sin’s hold because of Christ’s broken body, his blood poured out, and his life that has resurrected.  I have grace because God saw me, loves me, and sent His son to save me!  Therefore victory has been won and I have salvation through Christ! I have the Holy Spirit’s guidance to help me continue on to work and face any new challenges with confidence!

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand;  do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” -Philippians 4:4-9Micahandhiscuteface2

Road to Minimalism

I haven’t made an official post about our #roadtominimalism that our family has been on over the past few months.  I have been posting Youtube videos while on the journey of things we have been doing to declutter or change how we live.  It has been easier than you may suspect and a lot of fun, though takes some time too.

We’ve given things away to people we know, sold a few items, and have donated a load.  We have put things on the curb of our busy street, and watch people take them within minutes!  I even gave my dad old electronics to bring to the recycling center (I originally was going to go with him but he wasn’t home so my parents told me to leave them on the porch), and he said people took everything he carried to be recycled right back out of his hands.

For instance, here we have the loads of shoes I used to have (nearly 30 pairs).  I got it down to the 8 most worn pairs I have (the oldest being over a decade old with holes in them but still gets the job down to a pair I have only owned for a year). Also how the boys’ closet once looked and how it looks now.

We have even started to get rid of the cleaning materials we have used for ages and started to make our own such as all purpose cleaner, dusting spray, toilet bowl cleaner, laundry detergent (see how here), and toothpaste (vid coming soon).
I really needed to get rid of some things I had held on to since I was a child that I never touch at all and haven’t for over a decade like all the cassette tapes (my children were enthralled by these ancient specimens, some which were broken as it was).Rob and I even fit all our clothes each in one individual drawer and here is the closet space we have.  So yes, those of you who have followed me for years and enjoyed my modest fashion posts, there will be little of those left, as I live out of the same clothes every week until they die. (time to get rid of some hangers too, and to think I already got rid of a hundred hangers before this).We are even doing our own laundry to save us $36 a month from going to the laundromat like we had been doing.  Here’s Leto helping me with laundry (yes, that is our laundry machine).
We even had two of these bookshelves which were overflowing with books and now both shelves are gone as well as the books (other than about 6 of them that we kept for now)We have changed much of our old lifestyle for this new one, and hope to eventually buy a small maybe 600 sq. foot home (we live in a two-family home in a 2 bedroom space on one of the floors, but in the seven years we have lived here, we have realized we have spent enough rent money on owning a small house, which has been hard to comprehend, because we were okay with renting here for the rest of our lives, honestly.  NJ is very expensive!

Why are we doing this, you ask? What purpose does this serve?
It has helped us to make important goals and work towards them for one.  However, the most important reason why we have been doing this is because we are tired of seeing poverty and slavery.  We are tired of seeing oppression and people who are in need when we have the ability to help them.  We are burdened for those who are suffering.  We are tired of the culture around us that says to buy things we don’t need instead of to help the needs of those around us.

Ultimately, we see that prosperity and the life of those who have much is not something that Jesus spoke highly of anyway.  If he said that it is as harder for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven as it is for a camel to try to enter the eye of a needle, which as a quilter I have a hard time even looking through, then we need to make changes in our physical life as well as our spiritual lives and I think in this case they go hand in hand (and yes, we are rich even if we don’t own a mansion or have expensive cars).

We want to explore the world and enjoy nature.  We want to see the people around us and build relationships with them rather than staying cooped up in our homes.  We think this society does too much reversed of how Jesus taught and lived. We have had enough of that.  We have a long way to go, I think in general, but our strides towards loving God and our neighbor as ourselves by seeking justice and more have certainly become more important than ever.

32 Years of Growing Up!

3rdbdayI look back at my birthdays and my life and see that it was filled with blessings.  A couple of years ago I would have listed you loads of things that went wrong in my life, but now I see that everything is a step towards God’s will for my life.  I may not understand His will completely, but I am trusting Him with where He is taking me.

In reading stories of those who have lived in deep poverty, war torn areas, or have endured slavery, I can only see that I have had it very good despite the downs I have gone through.  I haven’t suffered as they have suffered, yet I want to suffer with them because my heart aches for their pain.  I don’t understand them, but am willing to listen and be with them, showing them love where they may feel as if they are unloved.

I may not have a lot of people in my life who I can say I am very close to these days, but I received an abundance of blessings today.  My sons gave me beautiful cards and sang to me several times today.  My husband went out of his way to treat me really wonderfully and I certainly know I am loved by him (he spoils me like crazy).  I received phone calls from 5 people (three who had already sent/gave me cards), and a handful of sweet text messages.  It may not have been much, but they all made sure to inform me they loved me (and I felt that love).  I am special to these people while last week I cried from feeling deep rejection and pain for various things that went on throughout the month.

I felt such deep comfort from my Savior as if He took my hand and said, “I know. I know.”  I don’t even know half as much as He!  These hardships have built me up instead of tearing me to pieces. I can endure because my God is big!

This morning I was reading Matthew 27 in my Bible.  If one has endured hardship at all, Jesus certainly did. Every single one of his friends fled after he was arrested.  They said they’d follow Him forever, but they couldn’t endure the hardship of seeing their Messiah being taken from them.  They didn’t want to associate with someone who had become a criminal.  If one suffered rejection ever, it was certainly Him.  I am so grateful that in His eyes, I was worth dying for.  In His eyes, I am beautiful and loved.  I want to live my life as He did.

I am certainly having an amazing 32nd birthday! This is going to be a great year for me!
But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.” -Hebrews 10:39

Christian Persecution

2015-Top-10-persecution-map-800x533In the United States, many people identify themselves as Christians and rarely are people persecuted for their faith. What if you lived somewhere it wasn’t normal to be a Christian, but it was actually a cause of rejection and persecution? Would you be able to stand strong as a Christian?

Every day, believers around the world risk banishment, beatings, imprisonment and death to follow Christ and take His Gospel farther. Perseverance often seems impossible, but when the Lord enables believers to stand strong, He works mightily through their sufferings.  Here’s one of their stories:

On November 1 and 8 (or any Sunday in November), join Christians across the nation in lifting up the persecuted through unified prayer.  I ask that you also pray for the ones doing the persecuting that God will touch their hearts and transform their lives.

“Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.”—Hebrews 13:3

As International Day of Prayer approaches, we thank you for interceding on behalf of persecuted Christians and for encouraging your readers to lift them up in prayer as well.

Why We Don’t Celebrate Halloween

When a dear friend of mine who lives in different state mentioned to me that she was going to be back in NJ for Halloween and asked if we wanted to go trick or treating with her family, a part of me wanted to jump all in just to be with them, since I haven’t seen her in over a year.  The other part of me won over where I simply told her we don’t celebrate it (though I did offer her to stop by for a bit or meet up for slight time to spend together in general).  I wanted to list some reasons why we don’t celebrate the holiday.

1. Most candy involves slave labor
I can’t help but hold on to my convictions about the sadness involved in cocoa fields where nearly 2 million children work in parts of Central & South America or Ghana exposed to pesticides and grueling hours of hard labor.  Many children are marked by scars from beatings of not making quota or trying to escape the hardships.  Although there are Fair Trade companies like Equal Exchange which sells kits of small chocolates for Halloween, and while there are alternatives in general, I just can’t find myself wanting to sugar up children.

2. Candy is just not good for kids
I allow my children to have one snack per day.  Sometimes these are delicious cookies and other times they are popcorn.  There are other days they just don’t have any snacks at all.  I think about all the child obesity issues in our country and it bothers me that we tell children it is okay to fill up on candies on Halloween.  Because I am strict with my rule, they wouldn’t get through all that candy and I’d be the one to eat some of it, and I don’t really want to have them eating such unhealthy things in general.

3.  Stranger Danger
Our culture goes about training their children to not trust or talk to strangers yet they allow them to go up to houses and ask for food from those they have not built a relationship with?  I see churches or schools that do those “Trunk or Treat” things but instead of a door they are going up to a trunk of a car? How is this different?  Keep in mind I am ahead of Resources for Justice Network and I have read loads of things about people easily trusting strangers with their children and putting them into sex and labor trafficking work.  Perhaps I am being over protective, but there are better ways of getting to know the neighbors and sharing food or faith with them, and this one is not the way I believe to do it.  We never know who may be a predator scoping out the neighborhood kids or what.  I would like to be able to trust in all people, but I have known children who have been molested, and some were people they were even told to trust.  Caution is a good thing to have for your children, just as you have in driving.  Be careful to look around before you make your next move.  I trust in God who has placed these children in my care to raise before I let them go to make their own decisions. They are like little sheep who frolic and play and need to be watched and guided to the right place so wolves won’t get to them.

4. Materialism Bugs Me
I’m a minimalist friends.  Why would I spend $50 on an outfit my child is going to wear one time?  Now if they were creative and made costumes themselves, that is an interesting way to do it which you don’t see happening these days much, but really, I am not a spender of money on frivolous things that will also be made with slave labor.  I might know how to sew quilts, but I don’t know how to sew clothing well at all and fabric costs even more money than I intend to spend again on something to be used once.

5. My Kids Don’t Care
That’s right. They haven’t asked to go out yet.  My older son was taken around to a very small apartment area with my in-laws ages ago by simply wearing a railroad conductor’s hat, but he didn’t really like it.  It kinda scared him back then, so I didn’t do it again.  If my boys want candy I will buy them limited amounts of it without things going to waste.  If they want to dress up throughout the year for fun, so be it.  I have worn clothing from various time periods for fun, myself.  Why follow a crowd when you can be the individual?  At this point they aren’t interested.  It is their Aunt’s birthday on Halloween.  They like celebrating her birth instead.  Maybe one day they will ask me if they can get candy.  We’ll get to that when and if it even happens, but at this point, my boys are fine with staying home.

6. Evil is as evil does
I used to go to Harvest Festivals as a child which were a costume parties where kids were told they could dress as nice things and not evil mean things in order to try to tell unbelieving children about Jesus who may have never heard of Him before.  I went as a princess one year, Tweety bird another, Dorothy Gale another, and an angel one year even (I stopped going after that).  Regardless, in learning the background origins of Halloween, we know that masks were something that were created to try to trick evil spirits into wanting to harm you.  You can’t trick any evil spirits, which we think are demons. They are older, more cunning, and smarter than I.  We don’t even want to try to flirt with evil at all.  You can’t truly redeem something that is evil with something nice.  You can only cut it off.  Jesus cast demons out of people.  He didn’t tell the demon possessed to try to do their best to live with the demons as if to dress them up pretty-like to hide the darkness in them.  He didn’t say, “Wow you demons are so cool! I want to try to dress to look like you too!”  The holiday was created specifically because of spiritual darkness and fearfulness and we should not have a spirit of fear within us, but one filled with light to trust in God to lead.  If I flirt with things not of God, I believe I am allowing spiritual darkness to enter my life.  We are called to holy pure lives void of darkness.  Simple as that. There is nothing “cute” about Halloween.

7.  We celebrate life, not death
The origin of Halloween is to basically conjure the dead back up and to try to get your ancestors’ spirits to harm your enemies, etc.  Trick or treating was not very nice when it originated, and if you didn’t get a treat, you were to do something mean to the person.  I see graves and gruesome decorations everywhere I go.  There is a house in my parents’ neighborhood that has sheets hung over their fence with red paint to look like blood on them and plastic limbs hanging over the sides.  Is this cool?  No. Recently there was a real dead body hanging around that people casually passed by thinking was a decoration because we have adjusted to this disgusting practice of celebrating horror, but then if real horror happens we just pass it by and not care?  Jesus defeated death!  He came back to life from a very painful death.  That is cool!