Thank you veterans!

Some people get really upset with those who do not believe military service should be compulsory. Or they believe people like me who oppose military service on religious grounds are weak, cowardly, or sissies. That is not true. I would say to you if you are a veteran, Thank you for defending my right to religious freedom in our country, but respectfully believe a Christian should not participate in military service. I do not condone violence and believe the Bible teaches Christians to be non-resistant. It actually takes a lot of courage to stand your ground on faith and NOT fight sometimes.
I’d urge you to study John 18:35 “Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.” As well as Jesus words in Matthew 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” Then later in Matthew 5:43-44 He says “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;”
How are these teachings from Jesus Himself compatible with going to war or defending any country? They aren’t. Many Christians over the years all around the world have been imprisoned, tortured, and even killed for this belief, but Jesus goes on to say in Matthew 5:10-11, “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.”

An old fashioned weekend

This July we were supposed to sail from Kodiak to Seward. However due to engine problems, my husband decided that the kids and I should take the ferry across instead while he sailed the boat alone to Seward. That was ok since we got to stay with our friends while waiting for him. They have a large family including 2 children about the same age as mine.

It turned out to be a good week to visit. We had a lot of fun. The kids played and we chatted.We took a drive up to the mountains and went hiking.

At one point, she laid out some cloth to make a shirt for her youngest son. My son happened to come upstairs then. She asked him if he could guess what we were doing. He quickly and enthusiastically replied (somewhat to my embarrassment) “Oh! You’re making me a shirt, and it’s even my favorite color.” This despite the fact the pattern hadn’t been laid out yet and I’ve never made him a shirt. It was just in a big pile. He got his drink and returned back downstairs.

So my generous friend decided there was enough fabric to make both boys a shirt. We just needed to use the next size larger on the pattern for my son. Since I’ve never made a shirt before, she taught me. It turned out good and fit him well.

Friday evening they were having their church social at the local ball fields. The youth were going to play softball. These are conservative Mennonites. The men and boys were in jeans and button front shirts. The ladies and girls were wearing long dresses. It was almost surreal like a scene out of Little House on the Prairie. However, it was a lot of fun. My son played softball for the first time and I played 2 games of kickball with my daughter and the younger kids.

Sunday morning was church. However, this was a very special Sunday. A bus load of Amish were visiting. That’s right, Amish. Saturday was spent cooking and setting up to get ready. They were expecting more visitors than the normal number of people who attend services.

All was ready when the tour bus pulled in. Guests were seated in the normal pews while regular church members and I sat in folding chairs at the back rented for the occasion. Youth from church and guests were seated on folding chairs up front behind the podium. It was crowded but we all fit.

While the Amish were expected, another group of about a dozen adults also showed up. The women wore headcoverings but not dressed conservatively like everyone else. They left during the Bible study before the sermon. No one I spoke to knew who they were or why they came or left.

After services, there was a pot luck of creamed ham, salads, scalloped potatoes, rolls, chips, and desserts. The Amish said they were glad for the home cooked meal after eating out so much recently on their trip. The kids played on the playground and large church yard while the adults sat and talked. Finally the Amish loaded back into their bus and left. It was among the most interesting church services I’ve ever attended.

Overall, it was a good, old fashioned weekend.

Media influences

As if you need another reason to limit and supervise the media which your children (of all ages) are exposed to, Yahoo had this article today. Here’s a few relevant clips:

“Molly is the street name for a drug that is pushed as the pure powder form of a banned substance known as MDMA, the main chemical in ecstasy. In the last five years, Molly has made its way into popular culture, helped by references to it made by entertainers such as Madonna, Miley Cyrus and Kanye West.”

“Grob said references in pop culture can fan misconceptions.” Grob is a professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at the UCLA School of Medicine and an expert on MDMA.

However, just limiting the media isn’t enough. Show them how to make positive choices and explain why certain things are inappropriate. Otherwise, as they get older and peers have greater influence over them, they may see you as a dictator rather than guide. My children and I have had several good conversations about media. When we see, read, or hear an ad for an inappropriate media we sometimes will discuss what’s wrong with it. This helps strengthen their beliefs.

Let children actively participate in the discussions; don’t just preach to them. In fact, it’s often my children who are the ones who bring it up. I’ve been surprised a few times when I was thinking “this may not be too bad” but my children clearly thought it was totally inappropriate. LOL. In cases like that, we usually defer to them rather than confuse their beliefs by being hypocritical allowing some things and not others just because I (an adult) like them.

Afterall, a parent’s job is to guide a child to become a successful adult. Yes, we have to trust them, but we have to give them the strong moral base to make good choices. Limiting and supervising their media is one way to do that.

FAQ of cape dresses

Three years ago, I wrote a post about cape dresses being comfortable. I had spent about 2 weeks amount conservative Mennonites that summer. It was my first experience with a group of other women who wore cape dresses. This weekend, I made my own cape dress for the first time. Now, I’d like to talk a bit about why this style of modest dress is important to me and dispel some myths about modern women who chose to dress this way.

As America’s popular society has lost respect for God in the last 50 years or so, it’s way of dressing has become less modest to the point today that a woman can wear a bikini off the beach without stares. This is why modest dress was more common in the past than it is now.

Being a woman who wears modest dresses and headcovering, I can say it isn’t always easy, nor is everyone as respectful of my decision. However, in general people are more polite toward me and my family since I started dressing this way.

What is a cape dress? A cape dress is a traditional dress worn by women in conservative Anabaptist Christian denominations including Amish, Mennonite, Brethren, German Baptist, and other non-affiliated churches. It is a long dress, typically falling at least mid-calf. The dress gets it’s name from the extra piece of fabric over the bodice (upper body), called a cape. This is to provide extra modesty. However, there is no one single cape dress pattern. In fact, there is a lot of variations within the general cape dress style.

Sleeves come at least to the elbow but are often 3/4 length or full long sleeve. The sleeves are usually gently gathered at the top, allowing more freedom of movement. They can have plain hems, cuffs, or elastic gathers.

The waist can be gathered with or without elastic, pleated, fitted, or belted. The cape can be in both the front and back or just the front. It is usually tapered to the waist. German Baptist capes are more like a wrap and come to a point in the front and back and partially cover the arms. Most capes are sewn to the dress. However, in some Old Order groups as well as Amish, the cape is actually a separate piece along with an apron so their dresses are in 3 pieces.

Most cape dresses have a hidden zipper in back to hold them shut. However, they can also have buttons in either the front or back. I recently read about a woman who uses a short zipper on one shoulder for her dresses.

Are you stuck in the past? No. Dressing modestly and wearing a headcover isn’t to preserve the past, but to respect God. There are many ways women dress to adhere to modesty. Some simply dress normally but with higher necklines and looser clothes. Others wear jumpers. Others like me wear long dresses including cape dresses.

Is it just for Amish or Mennonites? No. God calls all women to be dress modestly. 1 Timothy 2:9 “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;”

But why a cape dress instead of a regular, modest dress? I am a conservative Christian, but not Amish or Mennonite. However, I like to wear the cape dress because it is not only modest but very comfortable. I had a hard time finding modest comfortable dresses (especially at a decent price) before I bought my first cape dress. Now I have several and they are among my favorites. Believe it or not, I get many compliments on them too. It’s also a lot cheaper because I’m aren’t always having to keep up with the latest fashions.

Way back in high school, I was caught up in fashion. Every season I had to get a new wardrobe. That spent most of the money I earned doing 4H. It was never ending. I wasn’t outgrowing the clothes like young children do. I just didn’t want them longer than a few months before something new and better came along. I was like most young women. I hung out at the mall. I was vain.

Now I realize vanity is a sin. The Bible says in Psalm 119:37, “Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way.” Wearing a cape dress keeps me from being vain following fashion. Some people may claim that wearing a cape dress is vain because it is different from society. Some even go so far as to think it is a prideful, holier-than-thou type “fashion”. I think just the opposite. I see those claims as excuses to still be vain. As Christians, we are called to be separate from the world around us. 2 Corinthians 6:16-18 commands, “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you”.

Being separate should apply to all parts of our life as Christians, not just when convenient or only on Sundays. Fashion, entertainment, and other lifestyle choices are especially important because it is through these choices the world will judge us. It is through these choices that others may be won to Christ. Sadly, it is also through these choices that many see modern Western Christians as hypocrites. I don’t want to be seen as a hypocrite. Wearing a cape dress not only tells the world I am a conservative Christian, it is also a reminder to me to be careful in my choices.

Women wearing cape dresses

What about variety? Another objection people have to cape dresses is that they are a uniform and do not allow individuality. Yes, they are a uniform, but so is fashion. Most people today would not think of putting on jeans and a t-shirt. Yet, that can be seen as a uniform of Western culture. The main difference is who sets the standard: the church or society.

As you can see if you look carefully in the above photo, there are several differences in sleeves, collars, fabric, and waist even though they are all wearing cape dresses. I’ve already described many these differences above. It’s just that modern society is not used to seeing this type of dress so doesn’t notice the differences.

Isn’t it legalism? No. While cape dresses are similar, very few churches insist on exactly the same dress pattern among the women. In fact, most female military uniforms have fewer variations compared to cape dresses. However, few would criticize the military as being too strict or legalistic. They understand that a uniform gives group identity. So do cape dresses. They identify the wearer as a conservative Christian, usually from an Anabaptist group.

Dress making

Since I’m doing a lot of just sitting around while my knee is healing, I decided this would be a good time to make a few dresses for me and my daughter. I had been buying them from E-bay. However, I’ve been having trouble finding them in my size lately. Last spring I ordered a cape dress pattern from Candle on the Hill, but hadn’t made one yet.

This weekend I went to visit friends. They are conservative Mennonites with 4 daughters, so she is used to making dresses. She had lots of good tips and advice. Since she has a daughter the same age as mine, it was easy to get a pattern. She also helped me to sew my first cape dress for myself.

Friday we went to JoAnn’s Fabrics to pick out the fabric and other things needed for the dresses. We got enough material to make 2 dresses for my daughter and 1 for me. We made a dress for my daughter first. It was finished Saturday, so she was able to wear it to church Sunday. Unfortunately, we didn’t quite get finished with my dress. It still needs sewn shut below the zipper, and the skirt and sleeves hemmed. That should be fairly easy since the process is still fresh in my mind from making my daughter’s dress. Then I’m going to make the other one for my daughter. I’d like to make at least 2 or 3 dresses for each of us before we leave on our vacation in 2 weeks.

I brought along a few of my favorite cape dresses so we could compare them to the pattern. After much measuring and planning, we decided just to make my dress using the size large of the pattern. The only changes were to the sleeves, which we made shorter and less full. We were able to finish it enough so I could try it on, and it fit great! That will make it easier to sew more dresses instead of worrying about pattern alterations.

1. cut fabric

2. attach bodice front/back at top (attach collar if desired)

3. attach cape front/back at top

4. attach cape to dress

5. gather sleeves

6. attach sleeves

7. close bodice & sleeve sides

8. attach pocket

9. gather skirt

10. attach skirt (add optional elastic or ties to waist)

11. attach zipper

12. sew back closed

13. hem length

14. hem sleeves (add optional elastic at cuffs)

Christians and the undead

I’m a bit alarmed by all the interest in the occult and undead in recent years. While there have always been a few fantasy stories about the undead, be they zombies, vampires, or other immortal beings, there seems to be a lot more mainstream interest in them recently. What’s most alarming is the number of Christians, especially young people, who are into them.

That leads me to wonder if they were properly grounded in the Bible or just Sunday-only Christians. People who go to church and have a vague belief in God and Jesus, but not deeply rooted  in their beliefs they are willing to live their life around them. Instead they mold their beliefs to their current lifestyle. Their lifestyle is center, not a Biblical worldview or even being a true Christian. Because the Bible has a clear warning against such things.

Ephesians 5:11-12 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.

Galations 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

However, if you aren’t grounded in the Bible or are relying on your priest or minister to provide your only interpretation of the Bible you may not even know these verses exist since they aren’t the more common ones for sermons. I feel we spend too much time about Christ’s love and not enough time about His teachings. Yes, love is important, but it’s not all that being a Christian is about. It’s also about sacrifice and living separate from the world around you when popular culture contradicts scripture.

We are so focused on getting the church seats filled here on Earth that we forget there are also very clear things that are expected of those who will enter heaven other than love thy neighbor.  That is only part of the Sermon on the Mount by Jesus as recorded in Matthew 5-7. These were teachings by Jesus himself. Yet even these are seldom preached because *gasp*, they may offend someone and we can’t have that. They may leave and take their money with them. Yet, entering heaven to be with God should be every Christians ultimate goal in life.

Books and movies about the undead should have no place in a Christian home or life. Just because they may be well written, popular best-seller books or blockbuster movies does not make them right. Nor are they just harmless fun. Satan will make every effort to break down your faith. He is very patient and is subtle.

I recently discovered the original idea behind vampires was based upon poor understanding of natural decay processes after death before people began embalming people like they do now. Apparently in some instances, pressure from the gasses given off by organ decay will push blood and other fluids from the stomach up into the mouth. This gave the appearance that the dead corpse had drank blood. Take that with the susceptibility to superstitious beliefs of the time and you have a vampire. There’s nothing glamorous about it. Personally, I think it’s pretty gross.

We need to return to Biblical living. So what if we are mocked by the world or seen as different. Our youth need to know what’s expected of them. Yes, I’m talking about restrictions, limits, and rules, but so was the Bible! Don’t just take my word for it. Read your Bible daily for yourself.

A joyful noise to the Lord

Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.

-Psalm 98:4

Tonight was the monthly singing party for our church. Even though I’ve gone to this church for over 2 years, I’ve never been to one of the get togethers they have during the year. However, we were invited by several other members to this one. I was originally told it was last week, but it got changed to tonight. Unfortunately, my husband made other plans for tonight so the kids and I went without him.

It was a great party. Our pastor has a huge house so that is where we met. The first half everyone sat around and visited while eating a pot luck light meal. Then we all (adults and children) went upstairs for singing. When we sing, we do not use instruments. There were probably 50 people there like a giant, all-ages choir. It was amazing!

Around 930 the party broke up because the young kids (mine included) were getting tired. Still they had enough energy to play a last game of freeze tag in the dark outside on the way to the vehicles.