Monday, October 27, 2008

Rainy Autumn Nights

It is a cold blustery evening in Delaware-- one of those nights that would otherwise be a perfectly crisp Autumn evening except that the rain is coming down in sheets and instead it is quite miserable. I don't really need an excuse, but this sort of weather makes for a great excuse for me to make my grand exit and head to the library. True, my activities here at my parent's house are generally limited to watching movies by myself, watching television with my family, sewing, knitting, or reading a book, but it is certainly a delight to escape to the library. Yes, it is a bit cliche, but my imagination really does take flight there. I particularly revel in the new book section (with NEW written in bold red letters on the spine of the book) where I can lovingly rub my fingers over pages that have rarely been turned replete with fresh black ink and stiff creamy pages.

Here's what I picked up:

I Wish I'd Been There, Book Two: European History
by: Byron Hollinshead & Theodore K Rabb

What it is about: Twenty historians answer the question, "What is the scene or incident in European history that you would like to have witnessed-- and why?" Essays range from the death of Alexander the Great to the German surrender ending WWII.

Why I'm interested: I'm a fan of history and thought I might learn some new facts about European history along the way.

Emily Post: Daughter of the Gilded Age, Mistress of American Manners
by: Laura Claridge

What it is about: A biography of the unforgettable Emily Post, high priestess of manners.

Why I'm interested: As a southern-born American, I have been told that I should always endeavor to be a lady in whatever I do. I fail miserably, but it does not stop me from trying. I'm a bit intrigued to find out more about this charming lady and possibly to learn a few of her tricks.

William Wilberforce: The Life of the Great Anti-Slave Trade Campaigner
by: William Hague

What it is about: The biography of William Wilberforce, the 19th century activist who devoted twenty years of his life to fighting the abhorrent slave trade in England.

Why I'm interested: I have a great admiration for this man who devoted his life to fighting for something he believed in. I think there are parallels between the 19th-century fight against slavery and the 21st-century fight against abortion. Furthermore, Wilberforce was a man of great faith who succeeded in "placing principle above politics, mankind above party and results above ambition."

Red (The Circle Trilogy, Book 2)
by: Ted Dekker

What it is about: A man is stuck in two realities. In one, he is a respected military leader trying to deliver the outnumbered Forest People from calamity and in the other, he is working with the world's leaders to try and stop the release of the deadliest airborne virus ever created.

Why I'm interested: This book was recommended to me by a friend, and after reading the first installment, Black, I was hooked. I loved the alternating realities in the first book-- with pre-Fall paradise depicted in one (and an awesome Creator God with intimate relations with His Created) and post-Fall Earth where things look like what we're used to.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


I just put in the web address for my favorite post that I've written-- an inspired piece about my best friend-- into "The Blog Readability Test" and it came back that the blog's reading level is "Genius." I kid you not. Now my ego feels validated. Granted, obviously my writing isn't consistent as it vacillates between a junior high reading level (see my previous post) and the aforementioned genius reading level, but it's a nice pat on the back all the same.

Costumes from the Duchess

I haven't been feeling particularly inspired to write in my blog lately. Not only do I not feel inspired, I feel downright shallow-- like all I have to write about is trivialities. Then, a couple of days ago I took this test that asked, "What is the reading level of your blog?" and the response when computed came out "Junior High." So, not only am I uninspiring with nothing to say, but apparently when I do say it, it's so simple that even a Junior Higher can keep up.

On that note, having accepted that I write for children, I'm going to talk about pretty clothes.

On this rainy New York day, my girlfriends and I went to see the Keira Knightley and Ralph Fiennes film The Duchess. I loved the costumes and would love to make versions of them that have been modernized for 2008. There are details like bows, and the seams in the back of the dresses, and little bustles that would look beautiful today. Also, if you check out the film's website, costume designer Michael O'Connor's clothes are displayed in a wonderful interactive setting. You can turn the dresses around 360 degrees as well as zoom in on the sumptious details.

The Duchess' "Blue Fox Uniform." I'd love to make a jacket similar to this in dark blue velvet.

A profile view showing the silhouette the bustle creates.

A detail shot showing both the buttons and the ascot which I think would translate beautifully into modern day wear.

The "Victory Dress," I found this frock to be quite darling, but especially love the black velvet ribbon tied around her neck.

A detail shot showing the bustle. I am currently making a jacket with a very similar bustle.

This detail shot is to focus on the use of stripes and how they are oriented different ways to create a style. The matching of stripes is also used as a mark of quality production.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

God's Will Be Done

A fellow facebooker, Lisa Samson, posted this note. I wish I had written it myself, so here I pass it on:

A lot of my primary colored friends, both red and blue, are openly endorsing a presidential candidate. It's their right . . . and . . . I can't blame them. I'm the gal that seeks to be in a state of reconciliation with my brothers and sisters in Christ, so I normally try to concentrate on what we agree upon.

I've seen the political divide do more amputation in the body of Christ than anything else. Now is it true amputation? No. But in the minds of believers, they have, for all practical purposes, cut off brothers and sisters. I'm not willing to go there. Jesus' last wish before his ascension was that we be one. Does that mean we have to agree on everything? No. But it does say to me, at the very least, I can't tell you you're not in Christ or even go so far as saying what one fellow believer said if you don't vote for his candidate, "As a result, many Christians are no different than non-Christians in their worldviews and their actions." NO different? Really?

This type of rhetoric is something I abhor. It is cowardly because it immediately says if you disagree, you are not Christlike, and there's no reason, other than disobedience to God's word, you could possibly feel that way so you're not worth talking with. (The "you're a dumb-dumb" if you don't agree with me is another popular device but a bit off topic. Just had to get that out there.) Either way, I find no place for these sorts of line in good debate, but especially between Christians.

Because if we declare that those who do not vote with us are not good Christians, they have plenty on their side to support that you're not either. Abortion, gay marriage are the crying card of the believers on the right side of the spectrum - poverty, war, the death penalty, on the left. If you're Catholic like I am, you're really in a twist here, because not only do you decry abortion, but both Pope Benedict XVI and John Paul II (man do I miss him!) declared the invasion of Iraq unjust. Both candidates favor embryonic stem cell research.

What's a person to do?

Recently I started a group on facebook called "No Matter Who Wins" a call for prayer for whoever is the next President of the United States and, health permitting, fasting the day before and/or of election day. (Can I get an amen that day can't come soon enough?) I know the wide variety of my friends on facebook, and to see who believes prayer matters, and how diametrically opposed they are to one another politically makes me chuckle warmly, because these days, there's really only one place all Christians can join together, one posture--on our knees--where we are the same.

So I do not ask you to vote for one person or the other, (in good conscience I cannot vote for either), because by Nov. 5th, we'll all know, if we believe this from Romans 13 that "there is no authority except that which God has established," who God put into power. Does that mean everything that person does is God's will from then on out? I don't think so. But it can and does give us comfort that God is still in the kingmaking business and we can do what we can, but in the end, the choice is his.

So, instead of telling everyone who God wants, maybe it would be a better choice to say what you can only truthfully say, "This is who I want." Because God may have reasons you cannot know when putting someone in office. It may be judgment, it may be for peace in a way you can't now predict. (Hey, nobody expected the Messiah to be a wandering prophet from Nazareth!) And then rest in the fact that God's will most definitely will be done, and while his choice may not have been yours, comfort yourself that you just tried to do the best you could with the knowledge you were given.

In all of this, let's keep praying, and not only praying, but seeking each day to follow in the footsteps of our Master, to take his teaching and his example seriously, to love better, live holier, give lavishly, and learn how to be His Body in a way that will be the true healing of our nation.

Feel free to pass this on. You don't even have to give me credit! (I like to share.)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Soul Selects her own Society

In honor of my wonderful friends whom I adore:

The soul selects her own society,
Then shuts the door;
On her divine majority
Obtrude no more.

Unmoved, she notes the chariot's pausing
At her low gate;
Unmoved, an emperor is kneeling
Upon her mat.

I've known her from an ample nation
Choose one;
Then close the valves of her attention
Like stone.

~Emily Dickinson

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I'm nobody! Who are you?

I'm nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there's a pair of us-- don't tell!
They'd banish us, you know.

How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!

~Emily Dickinson

Friday, October 10, 2008

Coming Home Again

I happen to be a big fan of movies. My taste tends to run towards older films which means I watch a ton of classic Hollywood movies from the thirties, forties, and fifties and then dip into older foreign films on occasion. My Netflix "three" (the three videos I have on loan) at the moment are 1964's Becket starring Peter O'Toole as the ill-fated Archbishop of Canterbury, the French film, Elena and Her Men, starring the lovely Ingrid Bergman, and the Marilyn Monroe film, Don't Bother to Knock.

It's hard to say what makes me like a movie, however, I do find that I am drawn to movies which portray what I think to be an immortal truth. I think movies often tell a myth or a story, and every once in a while they align with the Universal Truth and something in our soul resonates.

Tonight, alongside my parents, I watched Blood Diamond. I've seen this film probably four or five times, and while I'm aware it has its (many) flaws, there's also something in it to which I am drawn. Having read a wonderful book (which I highly recommend) called The Heartless Stone about the creation of the diamond as a luxury good, as well at the cost to humanity of this simple gemstone, I find that I am sympathetic to those who would rather do without. The movie also takes up issues such as child soldiers, and apathy in general.

The part of the film that makes my heart sing, though, is where the African father is finally reunited with his precious son. He has spent the entire film trying to track down his son, and when he finds him, he finds a child who has been brainwashed as a soldier and who turns his gun upon his own father. In that moment of panic, the father slowly tells his son who he is, "You are a good boy... you love soccer..." etc. And, then, at the pivotal moment, he says,

"I am your father who loves you. Now you will come home with me and be my son again."

It is that line that just blows me away. In it, I hear a thousand fathers, and one Father saying to their sons (and daughters), "It does not matter what you have done. Come home to Me." It's a beautiful sentiment and a call I pray we heed.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Trust Me

The big message that I've been getting from God of late is "Trust Me." It seems that I've been trying to run the show, and God keeps telling me to take it easy and rely on Him.

I'm reading The Hiding Place, which is the story of Corrie Ten Boom, a Dutch Christian who risks her life to put Jews into hiding during World War II. She's very courageous, putting an inordinate amount of trust in God as she comes to the aid of hundreds of Jews and leads the underground resistance in Holland. I'm still in the beginning of the book, but from what I understand, she finds herself in a concentration camp, where she loses both father and sister, but at the end of the day, she still loves the Lord her God. She's able to pray for and forgive her captors. It's a pretty amazing story.

Below is an anecdote from the novel that really inspires me and speaks to my heart. It takes place when Corrie is a little girl, asking her father lots of questions about life. It struck me as I am like the little girl, confused and wondering, asking too many questions.

At last he (Father) stood up, lifting his traveling case from the rack over our heads, and set it on the floor.

"Will you carry it off the train, Corrie?" he said.

I stood up and tugged at it. It was crammed with the watches and spare parts he had purchased that morning.

"It's too heavy," I said.

"Yes," he said. "And it would be a pretty poor father who would ask his little girl to carry such a load. It's the same way, Corrie, with knowledge. Some knowledge is too heavy for children. When you are older and stronger you can bear it. For now you must trust me to carry it for you."

I pray that I will trust Him to carry it for me.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Retail Therapy

The best thing about the Fall is the clothes.
~Autumn R.

The first thing I did after landing in Philadelphia on Tuesday was catch the Chinatown Bus up to New York City where I was reunited with my friends. It's been a fun couple of days getting back into the swing of things: hanging out in bars, spending way to much, and wearing my feet out as I walk around town.

Last night as I was getting money out of the ATM, I realized that my bank account is beginning to dip dangerously low. There's a couple of reasons for this. For starters, I just passed a month in LA, where I had to drop almost a $1000 in rent alone, not to mention the cost of entertainment and food. In addition, I'm actually owed a bit of money from various jobs that seem to take forever to pay (with one dating as far back as early 2007... and everyone wonders why models are so skinny-- we're just waiting to get paid!). The other reason, however, is a new penchant for shopping that I curiously developed right around when I started my new anti-anxiety medicine.

Now, I've never been much of a shopper. I'm cheap-- meaning just about everything I have of value has been handed down to me. I've always preferred Goodwill and the Salvation Army to places like Macy's and Banana Republic. Suddenly, though, this has all changed. I find myself salivating over that cute dress in the Anthropologie catalogue, admiring last season's swimsuits at Urban (which, by the way, has a great price adjustment policy. If their price drops in 14 days, you can call and they'll adjust the price for you. I know this because of my new found addiction to shopping). Moreover, whereas before I had the willpower not to make extravagant purchases, now that ability seems to have deserted me.

There is a term in fashion merchandising known as Planned Obsolescense. According to wikipedia it can be defined as "the process of a product becoming obsolete or non-functional after a certain period or amount of use in a way that is planned or designed by the manufacturer." When it applied to fashion it means that clothes are made with the plan that they will soon be out of fashion, or obsolete as it were.

I find this terribly interesting. We make clothes knowing that soon people won't want to be wearing them. It is disposable fashion. I myself am a product of this culture as I find that I am quickly bored of my wardrobe and eager to buy more to fill it. What an endless cycle!

Amidst a conversation with my girlfriends earlier tonight (which prompted my friend Autumn's great quote above), I was struck by putting together my knowledge of the Fall and my love of clothing. In Genesis 3:7 of the Bible, we see man after the fall, and he is making himself a covering of leaves. We see God create garments from animal skins for both Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:21. This is very simplistic, and misses a bigger picture of God's sacrifice for our sin, but I'm blaming the Fall for my recent retail addiction, as well as this principle of planned obsolescence. Isn't it interesting that we keep trying to cover ourselves, or make ourselves better by what we wear and yet it is never good enough? Why is what we wear not enough to make us feel adequate? (That, my dear reader, is a rhetorical question meant to make you ponder from where you're deriving your sense of meaning.) It's just the beginnings of a theory, but I think I'm onto something here...