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.”

2013-2014 homeschool 6 week update

Despite starting school way back in July, we are only 6 weeks through. Why? Well, we took 4 weeks off to travel in the UK (primarily England and Scotland). While it was fun, we also managed to get some relaxed learning in. We saw one of the original copies of the Magna Carta, several castles and ruins including the WW2 tunnels at Dover Castle, Stonehenge, some geology, and even went bird watching on Scotland’s north coast. Not to mention learning geography, culture studies by immersion, and a little foreign language (Scottish). There were train schedules and subway routes to figure out. Oh, Richard learned to do a very good imitation of the sound peacocks make and we even saw some cute, fluffy, peacock chicks while we stayed at Pendley Manor.

So now we’ve just been back at the books for one full week.

How’s it going? Overall, I’d say great! We are on more of a fixed daily schedule. Last year our schedule kept getting thrown out as business problems arose even early on. This year we are doing much better. Today, we even managed to get in some art doing collages in the style of Klimt. We are finally doing the Collage It and Paint It art packs from Art Academy.

Also we switched our schedule earlier since returning from England. We are now getting up around 6am and bedtime is strictly 9pm for everyone. When hubby starts his MBA classes which don’t get out until 10pm, we’ll have to see how that goes, but for now this is working. We seem to feel we get more done each day when we get an early start despite neither of us being very early morning type people.

Yesterday we signed the kids up for swim lessons. They are very excited. It’s been 2 years since last swim lessons. Then it was just a month in the spring. Hopefully this year we can get more involved in activities like lessons. The swim lessons will on the 14th. I signed them up for Tuesday/Thursday. There were other families with kids their age & ability so hopefully Karen won’t get stuck with preschoolers again.

Our school day usually starts with science. Monday and Tuesday is geology. Wednesday and Thursday is astronomy. I read the sections in the books then help them with any activities and discussions. To my surprise, my daughter (4th grade) did better on the first test than my son (7th grade).

Richard is doing much better with Christian Light Education’s math 700. He’s actually enjoying math again! He even got mad when we told him he could skip doing math one day :LOL: He’s figured out a way to schedule his assignments each day that doesn’t stress him out.  He does a hard subject, then does an easy subject and then takes a short break. Repeat that 3 times and he’s done for the day. This is something he figured out on his own and so far it seems to be working.

Karen is doing American Story 2 from Winter Promise. She’s enjoying the readings like last year. Once again, I’ve substituted the book War Torn Valley for the civil war coloring book and paper soldiers. While the battles were an important part, it’s more important to understand how the common people lived and were impacted by the war. This is from an Anabaptist/Mennonite perspective so it is a slightly less known viewpoint, but one I think is very important.

Another thing that seems to be helping is we are eating more healthy. Breakfast is usually oatmeal with fruit. Lunch and dinners are home made with lots of veggies. Tonight is a bean and rice soup with the last bits of leftover rotisserie chicken. Snacks are fruit or veggies along with some protein such as a boiled egg, a small slice of cheese, a handful of nuts, a spoonful of peanut butter, or hummus. We have cut way back on processed foods, but so far don’t really miss them. I bought a box of Kids Z bars for Richard when he gets fussy due to low energy. However, we haven’t even opened them yet.

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)

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.

A new covering

While on my way down to Kodiak, I spent some time with my friends in Wasilla.  We were discussing headcoverings and I asked her how hard the veils are to make. Their  Mennonite church wears the mesh bonnets rather than veils. Before they moved to Alaska, they attended a church where the women wore veils and still has some.

Anyway, she went to her room and brought one out for me to try. It was way too big. However, it gave me an idea of how they should fit. I liked it and asked her if she had any patterns I could look at. She did.

I picked out a fabric and we sat at her big kitchen to start working. Since my church does not regulate the pattern or type of headcovering, I decided on a blue with small yellow flowers instead of the traditional white. Well, my husband arrived and we didn’t have time to finish it.

Wonderful woman that she is, she finished it and mailed it to me. It arrived this week along with a copy of the pattern. It hangs about the same length as the kerchiefs I had been wearing. It is lighter though since it is just one layer of cloth. The bottom is rounded and held closed with a snap rather than pointed and closed with a knot. So the overall effect is more feminine and distinctly Christian. I love it!

Fruit and thorns

Today we went raspberry picking. As anyone who’s ever picked raspberries knows, they are thorny bushes. These were no exception.

The berries were on a small slope beside a road. Apparently other people had also picked berries in this location because there was a path worn down. This area has not only raspberries, but also blueberries and low bush cranberries.

The raspberry bushes were loaded. However, many of the lower, easy to reach patches had already been picked.  While there were still some small berries low down, to get to the better berries we had to climb the slope and fight the thorns. Not only raspberry bush thorns but also wild roses. Plus there was vetch (a creeping vine) tangling the bushes and grabbing ankles.

Were there still usable berries low down in easy to pick spots? Yes. Were they the same size and quality of those higher up? No, the lower ones were much smaller and poor quality. While we could have been content to pick the lower slope, we wanted the better berries. We had to brave the thorns on the steep slope to get the better fruit near the top. We managed to get about a gallon of raspberries in an hour and a half.

Often our Christian walk is like picking berries. We can be content with the small fruit on the lower, easy path or we can strive through the thorns for the better fruit higher up. Is the walk always easy? No. However, you will be rewarded with much better fruit. So I challenge you to press through the thorns in your life.