Sunday, March 31, 2019

Eve's Temptation; Our Opportunity

Dwelling in a perfect paradise, man fell by not believing God and His word. Now, living in our fallen world with sin and temptation all around us, we have the opportunity to trust God. Nothing pleases Him more or gives Him more glory.

For my husbands thoughts on the same subject:

Oh, my wicked, wayward heart—
Not in paradise content!
Though I had a perfect start,
From the garden I’ve been sent.
Why? Because I couldn’t stay
From forbidden fruit away.

One command was all I had,
One fruit only not to eat.
How could I have failed so bad,
Fully blinded by deceit?
Now I suffer for the sin
My temptation got us in.

Gnawing cares consume me now.
Erring children, like a knife,
Pierce my soul and make me bow,
Burdened by the pains of life.
All this wretchedness and grief
Came through wicked unbelief.

Yet there’s hope amidst my pain:
Though my sin has present cost,
Faith can help me to regain
What by unbelief I lost.
Having once His Word withstood,
Can I trust that God is good?

If I trust His goodness here,
Seeking Him and His reward,
In my present, darkened sphere
Fellowship with Him’s restored.
Though by hardships still oppressed,
Grace is mine, and I am blessed.

-Nita Brainard

Photo courtesy of Matthew Henry at Unsplash

Friday, January 11, 2019

Commitment and Love

A good marriage requires both love and commitment. Both principle and feeling are needed, and they go well together. In a reaction against the world’s lack of commitment, some Christians are teaching that love IS commitment and are teaching that emotion has no part in love.

Those who emphasize the necessity of commitment in marriage to the exclusion of feelings doubtless do so from pure motives. They look around them and see people basing their decisions on emotions. These people, they observe, know nothing but what feels good. They say, "God wants me happy," and so make decisions based on fleeting feelings that they think will make them happy but which actually make them more miserable.

Good people in our indulgent and feeling-based society have reacted to this detrimental way of thinking. But in their desire to emphasize the need for character and commitment in decision making and relationships -- especially as regards marriage--- some of them deplete love of its emotional element altogether. This may help to counterbalance some people who run entirely on feelings, but it isn't true. It is an overreaction that makes nonsense of the English language and wreaks havoc on common sense.

Sober Christians have known all along that feelings can be either an ally or an enemy. They never should be given the primary focus in decision making (See Feelings). Nonetheless, they still play a role in Christian life---and certainly in marriage. Marriage is primarily a commitment, but no one willingly enters into that commitment without feelings of love. If the feelings fade, the commitment stands, of course. And the feelings--fickle things that the are--may or may not return. For centuries, the feelings properly belonging to marriage have always been called love. But now we are being told that feelings are not a part of love at all.

The teachers of this doctrine imply that if we read I Corinthians 13, we will see clearly that love has nothing whatsoever to do with feelings. They have neglected to consider at least three points:
1. Scripture deals primarily with sin and righteousness, not feelings. Emotion always takes a back seat to doing what is right in the eyes of God. That, however does not mean that feeling is not a major part of love.
2. I Corinthians 13 is not the only passage in the Scriptures on love.
3. I Corinthians 13 tells us what love does. It does not define love or tell us what kind of force it is. It just shows us what that force accomplishes.

I know by experience that love---the feeling of love---works the kind of things that I Corinthians 13 tells us it does. Who has not felt it? When you feel love for someone, it is easy to "think no evil" of them. It comes naturally to be kind and patient, to "bear all things, believe all things, hope all things." On the other hand, ill-will is lynx-eyed. It is difficult not to get puffed up and envious towards someone for whom you have little love. When you don't feel love, it is hard work to show it. (Nonetheless, in many instances we must do so, and we can call upon the love of God to help us.)

In my head I know my children, like everyone, have their faults, but for the most part, in my heart of hearts, I really believe they are pretty nearly perfect. I can't be objective about them. Love gets in the way. Don't most parents feel much the same way about their own children? This isn't a conscious choice, just the outflow of love that cannot be helped.

Even when the evil of wayward children stares them in the face and parents cannot close their eyes to it anymore, they are inclined to blame someone else for it as long as they can. When that fails, they still bear long with their children. They do exactly what I Corinthians 13 tells us they will do if they love them. Do they do this without feeling anything? When his rebellious son died, David cried, "O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!" Love made him cry in agony with an intense and heart-breaking feeling that everyone around him could recognize as love.

If feeling is a part of parental love (and it is), why not marital love? God made us emotional creatures. Marriage is intended by Him as an expression of our best and holiest emotions. The emotional element in love poses no challenge to the need for commitment. People who find themselves in a marriage without the feelings that belong to it certainly have an obligation to maintain their commitment. That goes without question if you believe the Bible. (See Reasons for Divorce)  The Scriptures make it plain that there is no such thing as an honorable divorce. In every divorce there is at least one guilty party, if not two. Marriage, like motherhood, is a lifelong commitment. You don't get out of it, even if you got into it by mistake. Whether you lost your first love or you never had any in the first place because you believed the doctrine that love is not a feeling, once the commitment is made, it is sealed.

Though we believe that marriage is a commitment, can't we also believe that there is an emotion called love? To take all the feeling out of love robs humanity of its noblest emotions and makes a robotical existence the ideal. This isn't the intention, I'm sure, but if you say "love has nothing whatsoever to do with emotions," look closely at the words and consider their ramifications. In an attempt to pull people out of the muddy and polluting waters of one ditch, you are using a rope that will land them in the dry abyss of a mechanical existence on the other side---an existence that is very difficult to maintain and is likely to drive people to jumping back into the murky slop you tried to get them out of. A healthy and scriptural understanding of love and commitment will not do that. The high ground has both. And where natural affection is not sufficient to maintain the supply of either one, the Lord Jesus provides a well of living water. He has an infinite supply of love from which anyone can draw who calls upon His name.

Let us "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." (I Thessalonians 5:21.) 

Photo by Naassom Azevedo on Unsplash

Friday, July 27, 2018

Not Ready to Die

The flower of youth though but recently fled,
The sentence of death has been passed on my head.
My heart is unwilling, my conscience can’t rest,
My life’s not in order, by fears I’m oppressed,
      ’Cause I am not ready,
Not ready to die.
I know in my head that the answer is Christ,
That I can be cleansed by the blood sacrificed,
But how can I make His atonement my own?
With all the wild oats and the mischief I’ve sown?
          I fear I’m not ready,
                 Not ready to die.
The vile entertainment that once stole my time
Has nothing to offer but misery and slime.
I now see how empty and useless it’s been,
And worse—it has kept me from facing my sin,
          And now I’m not ready,
                 Not ready to die.
Not knowing my need or the value of grace,
The gospel I didn’t quite fully embrace.
Although I have heard it and known it was true,
The depth of its riches I didn’t pursue,
          And now I’m not ready,
                 Not ready to die.
Approaching the end of my days upon earth,
I see the Lord Jesus has infinite worth.
I should have been living to honor His name,
Instead I pleased self to my sorrow and shame,
          And now I’m not ready,
                 Not ready to die.
But while there is life, there is hope for me yet,
There’s time to consider my ways and repent.
It takes but a breath to look up and believe,
And all of the riches of Christ to receive,
          And so to be ready,
                 Yes, ready to die.
For death to myself even now while alive
Will open the door so I spiritually thrive,
And life everlasting will be my reward
For casting my care on a merciful Lord,
          Whose love makes me ready,
                 Yes, ready to die.
It’s not that I’m anxious to leave all behind,
But just that I’ve gotten a strange peace of mind.
The love of my Savior has cast out my fear,
And soon He’ll in fullness of glory appear,
          And I will be ready,
                 Yes, ready to die. -Nita Brainard 2018 Photo by Tom Skarbek-Wazynski on Unsplash

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Doodle Caps

A basic hat pattern that uses the wool scraps you have on hand.

I needed this years ago, but I hadn’t yet read Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Knitting Without Tears. This summer I started these caps because I wanted to make something for the grandkids and use up scrap yarn. The hat turned out to be so popular, I gave some to older folks and then had to make a trip to JoAnn's for some Lion Brand Fisherman's Wool to keep the project going.

Size 3 needle (16" circular and set of double points)

Gauge: 5.5 stitches per inch with worsted weight wool.

Cast on a multiple of 7 stitches. [91, 98, 105, 112, 119]

Measured on the outside, the hats are approximately: [17", 19", 21", 23, 25"]

Use a provisional cast on by holding a piece of scrap yarn and twisting it between each stitch of your working yarn. There are different methods for doing this. I recommend experimenting till you find one that works for you. Of course you can also use a regular cast on and pick up stitches for the inside lining of the hat, but this is an excellent opportunity to practice the provisional cast on.

Row 1: Purl. This will be your turn row after you pick up the stitches on your provisional cast on.
The reason I work one row before joining is to make it easier not to twist the stitches. You can tug on the scrap yarn that you used for your provisional cast on. This tightens up your stitches, so you can get them smoothly in a circle before joining.

Rounds: Don’t turn your work. Put on a stitch marker to show the beginning of your round, join, and begin knitting around. Knit a few rounds. Don’t be legalistic about how many you do. It might depend on the size of your hat, the amount of contrasting yarn you have, or how engrossing the conversation is while you are doing this section.

Attach a contrasting color and start making patterns. You can look at a chart if you want, but mine seem to turn out best when I determined each row’s stitch pattern as I went along. It makes for such pleasant knitting when you don’t strain your eyes and your brain trying to figure out which row you are on.

Use patterns that require no more than 5 stitches in a row of one color. Draw your unused yarn loosely across the back. You will be putting a lining inside the hat, so there will be no concern about loose strands getting caught on ears or eyeglasses.

Knit in patterns until your hat is 5 1/2 to 6 inches, depending on the size head you want it to fit. Knit a row in MC. Then begin decreasing. Divide your number of stitches by 7. Subtract 2. The answer is the number of stitches you will knit before each decrease. If you cast on 91 stitches, your answer is 11.  

Decrease: (K [11, 12, 13, 14, 15] K2tog) 7 times. Knit one row. Then decrease again. This time knit one less stitch before decreasing. (K [10, 11, 12, 13, 14] k2 tog).

Continue decreasing every other row until you have 49 stitches. Now switch to double points and decrease every row until there are 7 stitches left. Cut yarn and run through the stitches. Pull tight and secure yarn.

Now go back to your starting point, pick up the stitches and remove the scrap yarn. Make sure you have the same number. (Pick up cast on stitches and slide all the stitches onto the wire of your circular needle. Then pull the scrap yarn out.) Knit another cap of the same size in a solid color.

Before you finish the inside cap, tie off any stray yarns. When it is done, pop it inside the first cap. You now have a very warm cap with three layers of wool.

Set it out on the coffee table for a while to admire your doodles. Then give it to a grandchild who lives somewhere cold where he can play in the snow.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Etsy Shop Closed

Maybe they did it on purpose. Maybe Etsy doesn’t want little people like me keeping their shops open and cluttering up their site. In any case, I closed mine today. After trying unsuccessfully to view my page, I realized that keeping the site just wasn’t worth the trouble it cost me to be always learning to navigate the updates. I may still post free patterns here on my blog. And my for-purchase patterns are available at

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Butterflies or Foxes' Eyes

As I was knitting this afghan, I daydreamed about providing you with the pattern. Writing patterns, however, is much less pleasant work than knitting, so now that the afghan is complete, I have other projects to work on, and you will need to figure the pattern out much the way I did. I have given it away, so I don't even have the measurements.

Nonetheless, in case you want to make something similar, I will give you a few hints. I used Cascade Yarns Sateen worsted. It has a lovely feel, stitch definition, and drape, but it is very difficult to knit without splitting the stitches, so I don't recommend it. 

The pattern is "Eyelet Butterflies" from Leisure Arts Sampler Afghans. I think the pattern looks more like fox eyes than butterflies, and since it is an "either/or" baby blanket, I figure the baby can decide his or her preference.

I made a seed stitch border of 8 stitches, knit 18 stitches in stockinet, one 30 stitch repeat of the pattern stitches, approximately 35 stitches of stockinet, another repeat of the pattern, 18 stitches of stockinet, and 8 stitches of seed stitch border. Any other afghan sampler pattern could be used in place of the butterflies.

If using a seed stitch border, cast on an odd number of stitches, so both sides are the same.