Tuesday, July 31, 2012

You are not good enough.

You are not good enough.
Okay, just bear with me for a minute.

Read this:
"I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:17. 

I don't know if you have much education about the 1st Century Jewish culture, I certainly don't have much, but I do know this: the scribes and Pharisees kept the Old Testament law of God more strictly than any other people in the world at this time. They went above and beyond the Law. The Pharisees were the men who were famous for their holiness and sanctity. The very word "Pharisee" means "separatist." They were people who set themselves apart by their careful observation of rules and regulations that they themselves had set up. Everyone in Israel thought of the scribes and Pharisees as the epitome of virtue, as examples of morality. The average man said to himself, "Those Pharisees are so good, so much better than us. There is little hope that I can ever be as good as they are, so why try?"

But...in Matthew 5:17, Jesus tells us something that seems impossible: "...unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." 

Jesus says that the righteousness of the Christian – the very least Christian – must exceed that of the scribes and the Pharisees. Jesus tells us that if we aren't seen as "better" than these men by God, if we aren't seen as ABSOLUTELY PERFECT before a Holy God who has to punish sin if He is truly just and good, if our righteousness isn't above and beyond the Pharisees who already go above and beyond the Law...we cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.

Um. Eh. Ouch. Yikes.

How is this possible? How can anyone possibly exceed the righteousness of the scribes and the Pharisees? As I already said, they were known for their strict observance of the law. We may laugh about their self-imposed rules and regulations, yet no group of people has ever succeeded in surpassing their meticulous obedience to the law. And if you know anything about yourself, you must know that you are not perfect: you did not score 100/100 on the whole "Keep Every Law in the Bible" test.

So how can anyone surpass their righteousness?

The fact is, as we shall soon find out, their righteousness was not the righteousness that God requires for salvation at all.

The point of this verse is that on the cross when Jesus was being killed, Jesus exchanged our unrighteousness (our inability to keep the Law of God) for His righteousness (a holy, spotless life lived in perfect obedience to the Law of God). Jesus took on all of our punishment from God, so that we might actually be seen as MORE RIGHTEOUS than the scribes & Pharisees: we are seen as perfect.
This is because when God looks at those who have trusted their entire lives over to Jesus, He no longer sees our sinful nature and punishable rebellion (active or passive rebellion, might I add) against Him: He sees Jesus' perfect life in our place. 

It's like this illustration:
You are standing alone, with no equipment, in the middle of nowhere. All of a sudden, you see the most disconcerting storm coming full-speed ahead right in your direction. There is nowhere to run. You cannot tell the storm to just go away: it is coming this way no matter what. The flood will come, and you will drown in the force, fury, intensity and measure of the flood.

But then...a giant bird appears (bear with me, I am no JK Rowling). Right before the rain starts falling on you, the bird spreads it's wings on top of you and all the rain starts pouring on it's body and rolls down off of it's wings, but no water gets on you. The storm lasts for days, and this bird stays there protecting you, receiving the water upon itself and keeping the water away from you. You are covered by the bird's wings. Not a speck of water has touched you. You are dry.

Sorry for the cheese-factor, but this is really an image that's been replaying in my mind for the past few days. Jesus (the bird in the story) swoops in to cover us (with his body/the bird's wings) from the Father's wrath (water). We are untouched by the wrath of God, though it was coming straight for us. Jesus is the only way that we can be saved from the wrath of God that is due to us for our sinful nature.

As the old hymn says:
"Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me."

And now the good news for my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ: we ARE good enough, because JESUS is good enough. We don't have to drown under the weight of our sin: Jesus already suffered enough for our sin. We have freedom because we are seen as righteous and we have a purpose, a hope, a future with Jesus and lived for the glory of Jesus: for His great exchange.

For those who are trusting Jesus only for their salvation today, for those who know that Heaven is not just for the "good people" because we are all very NOT good when compared to the perfect standard, the righteous requirement of God; to those who know that they are so sinful, yet our Jesus is so perfect; to those who know how lost and hopeless they were before God grabbed them, breathed new life and new desires and a new law of grace inside their hearts and saved them from their quickly-approaching destiny to an eternity apart from God...would we cling to these verses today:

"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the RIGHTEOUS REQUIREMENT OF THE LAW might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according the the Spirit of Christ." Romans 8:1-4

Joyful for the covering of Christ.
Yours truly,

Monday, July 9, 2012

Musings about Sinfulness and Grace

This blog post is just many musings and prayers and thoughts I have about my current sinfulness and brokenness in light of God's grace for me in Jesus Christ. After being with my sweet man, Steven Prinsen, for a month and a half now (this is the longest stretch we've ever been together due to 1.5 years of long-distance dating), I am realizing that like Paul says in 1 Timothy 1:15, "that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost." AMEN. However, this post is not a pity party: it is simply a young woman rejoicing over the fact that she has been redeemed by the death and resurrection of Her Savior and is free and empowered by the Spirit to attempt to live in such a way that pleases God, not as a means of salvation, because salvation is by grace through faith, but as a means of worship.

I long to grasp the truth that I am completely covered by grace. To know this fully would allow me to live so much more radically and passionately for Christ. It would give me the freedom to FAIL without feeling like a FAILURE. It would give me the strength to admit that I AM WRONG and that I am prideful. To believe that I'm not fully covered grace is to tell Jesus that his brutal, bloody sacrifice of love on the cross was not enough for me. And I cannot keep willingly doing that to Jesus anymore, when HE IS MORE THAN enough. He has already provided more than I could have ever hoped or dreamed, simply in giving me HIMSELF. 

Side-note: Wow. I can talk a lot. 

So, in light of recent events (I GOT ENGAGED Y'ALL), I've been thinking so much about God's purpose, design, intention and perfect plan for marriage. Steven and I are going through pre-maritial counseling with pastor Aaron Jozwiak and his wife, Tia, who are the wonderful couple that planted Red Village Church, AKA our new church home in Madison. Through the pre-marital workbook, and the book "The Meaning of Marriage" by Timothy Keller, we are coming to realize many things about ourselves, our culture, and our God. Namely, that we are selfish, our culture is selfish, and our God is incredibly good. 
One thing that I've uncovered more and more through reading the Bible, reading books about marriage, and talking with married couples that I think is so, so, so, SO, SO, SO important going into a marriage is this fact:


And I believe that as long as I know those two things, I will not be let down in marriage. I don't have to place my salvation or need for affection/attention/love/etc. in my future husband. For one, he can't handle that much pressure! And two, I will always be getting let down if I look for those things in another human. I believe that truly believing that Christ can satisfy all of those needs is at the center of any relationship, but especially a marriage. It can save a wife from looking for another man who can satisfy her desire for attention, eventually leading to adultery: if Jesus deeply satisfies her, even when her husband cannot or will not give her attention, the covenantal love of marriage will endure. It can save a husband from becoming bitter against a wife who does not say thank you enough, who does not recognize his achievements enough: if Jesus satisfies him with the truth that the Father is well pleased with him and his achievements are recognized by the Lord, then the covenantal love of marriage will endure.

I could go on and on with thoughts about marriage, and I will. But for now, I want to take some time to share some prayers and thoughts with you.

Oh, my Jesus. God, You are so merciful and gracious. Lord, we can go hours, days, weeks, months without acknowledging You, but You are constant despite our flakiness and flippancy. My prayer today is that I would encounter You and know You: either in an entirely new way, or that I would find new excitement in an old way of encountering You. But either way, it is You alone I seek: not Your good gifts, not the feelings that You give me, not some altered version that I or the world has invented of who You really are. Father, You know my hurts today. You know my heart, my thoughts, my intentions, my sin. But I have forgiveness in You for each of those.

Lord, thank You for the forgiveness of and for beginning the transformation through the Spirit of:
~ my deceitful, evil and selfish heart ("The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?" Jeremiah 17:9; "The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." Genesis 6:5).
~ my prideful thoughts that are so very often not devoted to nor mindful of the way of Christ ("For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:9; "But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, 'Why do you think evil in your hearts?'" Matthew 9:4; "But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ."  2 Corinthians 11:3").
~ my continually selfish intentions and ambitions that You can see clearly, even when I try to mask them ("Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you." Acts 8:22; "For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice." James 3:16; "Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves." Philippians 2:3).
~ every past, present, and future sin--either the sins of commission (doing something I should not do) or the sins of omission (not doing what I should do)...the active or passive rebellion against a Holy God, who has every right to condemn me to Hell for eternity apart with Him, but because of His great love for us, chose to send Himself in our place, to take care of sin and provide forgiveness and eternal life ("He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,  in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." Colossians 1:13-14).

Jesus, You are working in this heart of mine today. But You are also working in the hearts of people in Madison, in Austin, all over the United States, and all over Your world today. God, if only I could see just a glimpse of what You are doing in this world, I think my mind would implode with glory and awe. People I don't even know, nor will ever know of, are worshipping You for the first time today! They have been redeemed as children of God, they have been reunited with their Creator. And You promise that this will continue until You return, Jesus! God, I pray for my friends who are doing all sorts of ministry all over the USA and the world today. I pray that you would use them, love through them, provide strength for them, and that people would come to know You through them. I thank You so much for how You've written my story, God. Even through the sin, the heartaches, the struggles, the hurts...You have been so constant and trustworthy and good and holy--a true anchor for my soul to rest upon. You are the strength of my heart and my portion forever, and I love You, I love You, I love You.

In Your Son's perfect and holy and beautiful name I pray these things,

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Ali's Giveaway Prize for the Summer Spark Sew-Along!

My co-hosts and I are each offering a prize for the entries in the Summer Spark Sew-Along Flickr pool. My prize: An indie pattern of your choice.

My random number generator selected Sewing Princess' Sabrina Tunic!

Isn't that a lovely summer top? What a great way to use two different prints/fabrics and the cut—the bateau neckline and the bodice wrap—is so chic! Check out her final tunic and muslin at her blog, Sewing Princess. Congrats!

Stay tuned to Alessa and Sarah's blogs for their giveaway winners! :)

Off to another conference! See y'all when I get back. xo

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Summer Spark Sew-Along: The Final List!

Thank you all for an amazing and inspiring sew-along! Check out all the entries and loveliness in the Flickr group.

As promised, here's the final list of all the entries—I hope some of these spark your summer sewing. Woven dresses were definitely popular, but I was so impressed with the range of patterns—Big 4, Indie and Self-Drafted—and style.

My co-hosts and I, Alessa of Farbenfreude, and Sarah of Rhinestones and Telephones, are putting our heads together to pick winners!

Dresses, Knit
McCalls 6559
Knottygnome in McCalls 6659. Look at the print! I'm thinking I might not be able to resist maxi dresses much longer.
McCall 5974 by Sarah

Dresses, Woven

Summer Spark Sew-Along 2012
Thanks to shelshel for reminding us that New Look patterns (which I often overlook) can look so good!

Simplicity 1803 by Shanni Loves
Sewaholic Renfrew by SunnyB64
Butterick 443 (modified) by Guineveresmom
Butterick 5028 by barevels
New Look 6048 by shelshel
McCall 6349 by simplybeu 
Simplicity 2246 by Minnado
Self-drafted by ayenforcraft 
Self-drafted (with hand-dyed fabric!) by Tasha Miller Griffith
Sewaholic Lonsdale by KristenMakes 
Self-drafted by Ana5059
Simplicity 6402 by SewWell 
Vogue 1190 by BTStars 
McCall 4440 by msjennyhomemaker


Vogue 7975 jacket
How classy and pretty is this Chanel-esque jacket?

Vogue 7995 by starryfish52

A versatile summer skirt by Lucia Pixelada!

Burda 05-12-113 by Merche
Vogue 2043 by Lucia Pixelada


SESA 2012 Top 2
A self-drafted shout-out to Yvette, who made two of these!

Lutterloh 101 by Karamiel
Burda 06-2011-124 by Maider 
Self-drafted by Yvette 
Simplicity 3596 by foster2023
Scout Woven Tee by FutureNakano and Gingermakes 
Vogue 1282 by Merche


Summer Spark New look 6100
jillwithlove, inspired by J. Crew shorts, makes these shorts that are handpainted!
Burda 03-12-114B by Maider
New Look 6100 (modified with handpainted polka dots!)
jill with love

Some of you sewed for others or used the opportunity to refashion old makes. Others had projects that just didn't work out (I feel you, ladies—this month's chambray skirt is a dud, too). Personally, I really liked the focus it brought me in an otherwise busy month and I've been wearing my knit dress at least once a week!

But I'd love to hear how the sew-along was for you. Did you like focusing on a single garment? Have you been finding it a useful addition to your wardrobe? What might you/we do differently?

Happy sewing all!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


A Dress that Requires (Bigger) Better Hair (Simplicity 4491, 1960s)

I have a confession: One of my long-standing secret fantasies is to transport back to the 1960s and be a doo-wop girl. I can't sing to save my life, but I deeply believe that I can rock a 60s-scoopneck dress and dance in unison. If you asked me what glamour was, that's it.

I grew up around the sounds of Sam Cooke and Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding. Motown and soul. Music that makes you want to dance and cry and fall in love. An over-thinker, this music bypasses all my logic and makes me swoon. And perhaps I watched Dirty Dancing too many times.

So when I dream of the 60s, it's not Mad Men I think of. It's girl groups, that music-drama-glamour-love of a country in the midst of change.  

The Shirelles

The Crystals

The Ronettes

Look at those dresses! Look at that hair!

No wonder I picked up this great pattern from the 1960s, which I think I aimed—and failed—to stitch during last year's Summer Essentials Sew-Along. Even as I grapple with whether a natural waist seam is a good fit for my body, I couldn't help but stitch this up just once. And besides, I needed something quick-and-easy between my last Rooibos and my Summer Spark garment.

I cut up this thrifted rayon dress, likely early 90s. Why should Jessica, Roo and Liza Jane have all the rayon fun? :) They've made/refashioned rayon beauties of late.

I absolutely love rayon, love the way it feels. The pattern was fairly easy to whip up, though I stumbled a few times. Made the usual small bust and sway back adjustments.

Posed. Not so bad, eh? I think the gathered natural waist seam almost works because the front is flat with pleats that become gathers towards the hips. Also the wide scoop balances out the hips, making my waist look smaller. And the rayon makes an otherwise voluminous dress feel really drapey. Something's going on at the "straps," likely rayon slidey-ness.

Here's some pics taken by a friend at a wonderful outdoor picnic. I'm wearing my bike shoes. And I feel a little frumpy.

Showing off the skirt.

This was an experiment and time will tell if I pull it out of the closet more often than not. But when I first saw these pics, I thought, this dress could almost be fabulous with fabulous hair! Don't you think? A little height, a little romance, a little hairspray? Sigh.

I'm trying to convince myself that I can wear vintage styles without going all-out vintage—I'm too lazy for that sort of primping, though I admire it in other women. What do you think? Do you rock vintage threads without the get-up?

Now back to the Summer Spark muslin!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

July Intention: Casual Separates

Hello all! The Summer Spark Sew-Along Flickr group is heating up! You have until the end of July 4 to upload a photo of your garment to win one of three fabulous prizes: An indie pattern of your choice, seersucker fabric from Sarah or a breezy blue and white fabric from Alessa.

As I said in my last post, I really liked the pace of the sew-along. It helped me focus on what I really wanted to make and also not fall into the glorious, consuming, deep well that is sewing obsession. From now on, I'm going to try and express one monthly intention for my sewing.

Now this has definitely been The Year of the Dress. And though I really want to sew dresses, I really want to wear more separates.

So for my July Intention: I want to sew casual separates. I'd say 1-2 separates, depending on my time. Casual, heat-friendly, muy versatile, and that can be made in a single sitting.

Here's what I'm kicking around:

A Full Chambray Skirt


I noticed the skirt I've worn most in June has been a swishy knit skirt in black. I'd like to try a woven equivalent with some chambray I've on hand. I'm worried it'll look too stiff so I thought I could play with bias with this stiffer woven. I have this great 70s pattern for a bias skirt with just two pattern pieces.

Black Tank Top
One of the me-made garments I've worn most this year is a plain white tank, a combination between Jalie 3024 and my favorite RTW tank. It's so boring I haven't blogged about it, but I've been wanting a version in black.

To speed things up + stretch my skills, I'll finish the armholes and neckline with fold-over elastic using a double needle (which'll be a first!).

I think this'll be a great combo: Black tank + chambray skirt with the bevy of colorful cardigans and scarves I have. But they'll also match nearly all other separates in my closet.

Sewing & Life as Process

Sewing aside, changes are afoot. I just returned from one inspiring conference that has re-prioritized my time and am headed to another on Saturday. As I work on a big project (which could take years) it'll slow down my sewing and blogging. But know this is where I come to unwind, to take a breather from the rest of my life, to be inspired by working with my hands and see others in their own creative journeys. So I'll still be around! :)

But also: Sewing has taught me the importance of learning and process and thoughtfulness and recklessness and community. To grow: 10 stitches forward, 5 stitches ripped back. It's been humbling and exhilarating. I'm finally starting to apply these lessons to the rest of my life.

So thank you all, for your inspiring garments in June. And here's to July!