A Curtain, Alice, Cinderella and God’s Custom Design

She wanted to be Alice, she said.

This year, they celebrated Dr. Seuss’s birthday by dressing as their favorite literary character at my kids’ school.

We have the world’s largest dress-up collection.  This should have been easy.

But we do not own a pre-made costume for Alice during her whimsical Wonderland adventures, which meant we needed to make one.

Creativity, sewing, costuming—not my best things.

But surely, I thought, someone in my town must have once owned a white pinafore-style apron perfect for an Alice costume and large enough to fit a third grade girl.

And surely said person wanted to pass that on to someone else by donating it to a local thrift store or selling it at a consignment shop or yard sale on the very weekend when I needed such an apron.

So, we shopped.Copyright: <a href='http://www.123rf.com/profile_wolfelarry'>wolfelarry / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

All afternoon I shopped.

I did not find an apron.

I did, however, find a curtain with white eyelets and ruffles reminiscent of an Alice apron.

Many women could have snipped and sewn that curtain into an apron in about 15 minutes.

I took an hour or more.  It was an extended evening project complete with ripping out the seams where I messed up and re-sewing what I got wrong.

But in the end, I held up that custom-made curtain-to-apron (complete with a pocket!!!) and felt real and true pride like I may never have felt before in my life.

I had overcome my allergy to crafts and my sewing machine phobia.  I had labored and been found worthy.  I had toiled and reveled in my success.

Or something like that. I was super proud.

Last week, my second daughter announced she needed a pauper Cinderella costume for her song in the school talent show and that meant she needed an apron.

But not an Alice apron.  A Cinderella apron.

See the difference?

Dear children, have mercy.

So, I adjust the original design and adapt, turning the curtain that had become Alice into Cinderella.

At some point in the 9 years of being a mom to daughters, I have become a seamstress who produces custom designs; not a good one, perhaps, but after all, we all have our limits.

And while I’m still apt to prick my finger with the needle and still have to pull out the instruction manual every time I have to re-thread my sewing machine or my bobbin (wow, I know what a bobbin is!!), still I sew.

Still I stumble along into creativity so that I can draw near in the presence of the Creator.

Because God, He is this expert artist.

I read in Colossians:

 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him (Colossians 1:15 ESV)

In He is My All, Debbie Alsdorf writes:

 “By Him and for Him.  Those few words give new meaning to my life.  They are my personal slogan.  They explain what I love for and who I live for….those words—by Him and for Him—-simplify my purpose and meaning.  They simplify my choices and help me focus on what’s important (He is My All, p. 82).

God teaches me between stitches and threads that He is the Custom Designer.

You and me—Alice, Cinderella—whoever we are, we are by Him and for Him, handmade.

Not just who we are, either, but He weaves in this also: what we’re placed here to do.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10).

You are made by Him and for His purposes and what you’re doing right here and now, it may not seem life-changing, world-altering, stage-worthy, award-winning, or crowd-gathering, but it is of value to Him.

This home…this husband…these children….this ministry….this friendship….this job….this calling….this waiting….this service….

He has designed You for this…

and this for you.

So, feeling insufficient?  Feeling restless?  Feeling unworthy?  Feeling unnecessary?  Feeling uncertain?  Feeling overwhelmed?  

Remember His custom design and the way He creates perfection, and the way He creates beauty all in His time.

To read more about this 12-month journey of pursuing the presence of Christ, you can follow the links below!  Won’t you join me this month as I ‘Create Beauty’?

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2014 Heather King

 

Once in a Lifetime

“The soul is nurtured by beauty.  What food is to the body . . . pleasing images are to the soul” (Thomas Moore, Care of the Soul)

I grew up not far outside of Washington, DC.  At the time, a $5 Metro fare and a 20 minute train ride opened up a world of free museums and monuments.

I could easily Metro in just to see one exhibit at the Folger Shakespeare Library or spend a day slowly walking the halls of the National Gallery of Art or meandering through the presidential portraits in the National Portrait Gallery.

We could day-trip in for the Cherry Blossom Festival exactly when the cherry trees around the Jefferson Memorial were in full bloom.

And I did all those things.

Everything was simply so accessible, so convenient, so inexpensive, and perfect for someone like me who finds these experiences to be spiritual and a refreshing deep breath for my soul.

Our Creator God designed beauty and placed in human hearts the longing to create beauty ourselves.  So, I worship God amidst art and architecture.

Yes, I had access to a spiritual retreat with little effort or cost and I didn’t even know it.

Then in middle school, we watched an episode of one of our favorite shows, Saved By the Bell.  The show’s heartthrob, Zack, desperately wanted to win a contest with a fabulous grand prize— a week-long trip to Washington, DC.

This was unimpressive to me.

Who chooses a grand prize that is just 20 minutes away from my house?  Why not Disney World?  Hawaii?  London?

Of course, we don’t often appreciate what we have, not until it’s gone anyway.

Now, I live just far enough away for a trip to DC to be inconvenient and easily deterred by a busy life and tired children.  A week-long trip to the city would be fabulous!

When we live close to something, when it’s easy, when it’s inexpensive and effortless, it’s easy to overlook it’s value, becoming complacent and unappreciative.

That’s true about time in God’s presence, too.

For us, being with God is as simple as a one-sentence prayer while driving or singing praise songs while washing dishes.  When I’m worried, I pray about 100 times a day over one particular problem.

But it used to be far more complicated and rare than that.  In Luke 1, a priest named Zechariah was chosen by lottery to burn incense in the temple.

He won the grand prize.

Priests were the only ones who could perform this job, the only ones allowed beyond the outer area into the holy places before God Most High.

Even Zechariah, who God declares was “righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly” (Luke 1:6) would only burn incense before the Lord once in his entire life.

One chance to be in God’s Holy presence.
One opportunity to stand before Almighty.
One moment of intimate communion with Him.

Beth Moore writes:

“The responsibility of the priest on duty was to offer a corporate prayer.  Furthermore, the priest’s intercession for the nation undoubtedly included a petition for the Messiah, Israel’s promised Deliverer and King” (Jesus, the One and Only, p. 4)

Zechariah prayed for the nation, prayed for a Messiah, and maybe, just maybe took his one and only chance before God and prayed for his own family’s brokenness.

He and his wife Elizabeth were childless and “very old” (Luke 1:7).  Their dreams for a family seemed hopeless now.

But an angel appeared in that private moment between God and this aging priest.  The angel said, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard.” (Luke 7:12).

Which prayer?  The one for the nation?  For the Messiah?  For himself?

Yes to all of them.

He and Elizabeth became parents to John the Baptist, the forerunner of the Messiah, the hope of the nation.

One powerful moment in the Lord’s presence brought Zechariah the answer to all he had sought for so long.

If we only had one brief opportunity to be in God’s presence, how would we act and what would we do?  How would we worship and what would we request?

David knew exactly what he desired:

One thing I ask from the Lord,
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple (Psalm 27:4).

God’s presence was his “one thing,” the deep longing in his heart.

Praise God that because of Jesus we aren’t limited to one single moment in God’s presence!

We have access to the throne of grace at all times and anywhere we go.  We have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, communing, comforting, counseling, teaching, convicting and bringing peace.

But let’s not let easy access breed complacency.  Let’s treat our times with God as precious as they really are, remembering that it is only because of Christ that we can come before God at all.  Let’s thank Him for the that.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

An Origami Failure Learns to Fold

I am a failure at origami.

My oldest daughter, crafty soul that she is, begged me to help her with some origami projects.  Knowing my handicap for all things artsy, crafty, and based on following a pattern, I decided that our best option was to purchase an origami book for kids, complete with simple step-by-step instructions and special papers.

Surely if children can supposedly follow these directions and magically fold panda bears and peacocks, I in all my grown-up wisdom could also understand and succeed in folding a paper zoo.  I can, after all, read, and that seemed to be the minimal requirement here.

I was wrong (of course).

Our origami sessions together typically go like this:

Open book, choose the simplest pattern we can find and then select an appropriate paper.

Fold the paper in half.  Then open it back up.

Fold it in half the other way.  Then open it back up.

Crease here, flip the paper, crease there.

Smile in confidence at one another in the assurance that we have finally mastered this whole origami thing.  Look at us!  Our paper absolutely totally matches the diagram in the book.
We return to the instructions with renewed confidence.

Reverse internal fold, flip, crease, outside reverse fold, open up, fold to center, reverse, flip, spin around, repeat, pull out the flap, push in and squash, inflate, rotate, fold and unfold, mountain fold.

Wait, what?

Pretty soon I’m sputtering in frustration and my daughter is just randomly folding and flipping her paper.  I’m talking to the book as if it could answer me, “What does that mean?  How do you do that?  How come you don’t show a picture of the step in between this and that?  Is this what it is supposed to look like?”

I begin sighing those deep-shoulder heaving sighs that say, “Oh, I should never have bought her this origami book for Christmas.”

Then I declare with supreme Mom-wisdom that what we really need here is a YouTube video with step-by-step instructions.  We Google search.  We find a video.  We pause it after each step and make our paper look like the paper on the computer screen.

We fold.  We create.  We conquer (sort of).

The fact is that I’m not adept at following picture patterns in books and matching my every move to the instructions given, not with origami, sewing, knitting or crafts of any kind.

I have too many questions that the pattern doesn’t answer and too many places where I can go wrong.  I can’t visualize the finished product and the steps needed to get there.

What’s true for me in arts and crafts is sometimes true in life also.  We all can choose the patterns for our lives and then we make continual choices, daily decisions, to yield, bend and fold . . . or not.

Paul tells us:

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will (Romans 12:2 NIV).

The pattern of the world isn’t meant for us.  The world’s priorities, its pursuits, its dialogue and messages, and its destination all fold us into a crazy mess of disorder and frustration.

We can choose instead to “follow the pattern of the sound words . . .in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 1:3 ESV) and to “obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance” (Romans 6:17 ESV).

Yes, Scripture is our pattern to follow and Christ is our model: the picture in the book that tells us what we should look like in the end.

Yet, while we may choose which pattern to follow, the world or the Word, God Himself takes a hands-on approach to our lives.  “We are God’s handiwork,” after all—the result of His efforts, the creation He forms and reforms daily (Ephesians 2:10).

So, He is at work folding and unfolding—sometimes moving us forward and then back again.

He creases us now, teaching us and working on us in ways that we won’t understand until years later when He uses those grooves as part of His plans for us and our ministry.

He flips us around.  He pushes us beyond what we thought were our limits.  Sometimes He trims our edges.

Sometimes we complain and balk at the confusing pattern as it unfolds.  We look at the folds He has made in us and think He must be getting it all wrong.  Surely this can’t become that.  It’s confusing and we don’t see and understand.

But He does.  He knows what it takes to transform a piece of paper into a penguin or a peacock.  He knows how to conform us “to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29).

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King