Saturday, November 8, 2014

Deciding to Love

Love and commitment are not the same thing.  In order for marriage to be what it ought to be, you need both. Commitment is based on a decision.  Love is much more complicated.
There are different kinds of love.  Some of them are more a matter of choice than others.  As Christians we choose to love good and hate evil — even if our affections are screaming the opposite. There are many times when you have to choose to love someone when your feelings do not incline you to do so.  Sometimes it happens that a man must choose to love his wife, though he doesn’t really feel like it.  If he is in this unfortunate situation, he ought by all means to choose to do right regardless of his feelings.  Perhaps he has to choose to forsake his mistress and love his wife.  It is right for him to do so, and it may be real love for his wife and kids that would induce him to do it — but it isn’t romance.
 You can choose to love your neighbor, to esteem another better than yourself, and to lay down your life for your wife.  These are love, but romance or “falling in love” is different.  You don’t decide to fall.  You just do.  You might decide to get close enough to fall — or decide not to — but falling in love is not a decision.
A man doesn't have to fall in love with a woman to marry her — but it is hard enough for him to obey Ephesians 5 even when he does.  Why make it harder? A woman doesn't want to hear, “I choose to love you.” What she wants to hear is, “I can’t help loving you.” Read the Song of Solomon and see if there is any deciding to love in there.
Anyone can choose to eat sauerkraut, but most folks can’t choose to love it as much as they do pizza.  You can decide what you do.  You can not decide what will thrill your heart.  You can choose to marry, and in a sense choose to love your wife.  You can also choose to take steps that will increase your enjoyment in every circumstance in life.  You can make choices that affect how you feel — but you can not directly choose your feelings.
      Romance is predominately feeling.  If you can decide it, you take the passion out of it, and it isn’t romance any more.  You could marry without it.  But why would you want to?  You may still have love if you did — the kind of love that can be decided, but that is a bare sort of love that should be reserved for those who have no hope of anything better. 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Choice to Love

One of the biggest tricks of the devil is to differentiate between things that are the same and to equate things that are different. The saying Love is a Choice is open to such confusion. There is a sense in which it is true, and another in which it is not, and it is extremely important not to confuse the two.

The young person who is looking for a spouse and thinks he can choose to love any one who is convenient and available is a blatant fool, but the married person who doesn't choose to love his spouse is downright wicked. The things are entirely different. Single people should wait til they fall in love to marry. This will make the business of choosing to love your spouse a pleasure and give you a head start in performing all the duties of married life.

The man or woman who is already married has no business falling at all. You have already made your choice. Hopefully it was a suitable choice and you fell in love with the person you married, but regardless of the past, it is now your business to put up whatever walls are needed to keep from falling any which direction. You have to choose to love the one you have chosen.

If a married man or woman falls inwardly, you still have a moral obligation to choose to love your spouse. You may find that you do not have the power to choose to love in the same way and to the same degree as someone who unintentionally falls in love. Love is like that. Emotions are like that. People are like that. We can't always choose what we feel. But we can choose what we do, and a married person has an obligation to be faithful to his family no matter what he feels. This is love. It is not the wild, emotional kind of love that makes falling in love fun. It is the sober, faithful kind of love, that makes being married safe. It includes the commitment not only to give the bare outward duties of love but to nourish every proper emotion and to starve everything that goes against it. In this sense love is a choice.

Young people starting out and planning to marry ought to have this kind of commitment, but you don't want that to be all you have. You want your marriage to start with all the warmth of emotion that makes the journey of life delightful. A person can't choose to feel that with just anyone. Love of this kind is something that happens to you. It isn't chosen. It can be nourished or starved depending on the requirements of the circumstances, but it cannot be forced.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Unchanging God

Flipping through a note book of old poems, I came across this one today. It's still true. 

God Remains the Same

Life’s changing scenes make their appeal
      To my poor, fickle frame,
And often change the way I feel,--
      But God remains the same.

When circumstances fluctuate,
      My hopes may rise or fall,
But God, unhindered by my state,
      Is always over all.

Though hopes and fears by turns arise
      To steal my heart away,
The truth, without such lows and highs,
      Abides from day to day.

Though prayer may change a lot of things,
      If God in mercy grant,
Despite their fancy reasonings,
      My fickle feelings can’t.

Unaltered by my feeble sense,
      All things are in His hands;
By unaffected providence
      The final outcome stands.

Nita Brainard
January 5, 2009

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Character and Personality

Personality and character are not the same thing. Everyone knows that, yet the two things often get confused. Personality is something we are born with. Character is developed through the choices we make. When a teenager decides he does not want to be like his parent, it should be, and usually is, the parent's character that he wants to avoid. If he is like him in personality, he cannot help it. He can, however, be different in character.

It is exceedingly common to watch young people who strongly avow that they will not be like their parents make the same choices their parents did and become very much like them in character. This is partly because they are already like their parents in personality, and the personality influences the choices a person makes. It is our interests, desires, likes, and dislikes (in other words, our personality) that makes certain choices easier or harder.

Our choices are also influenced by the example our parents model before us. Nonetheless, we can stand back and say, Yes, I like the same things my mother likes. I laugh at the same kinds of things she laughs at, and I laugh the same way. There is nothing wrong with that -- but I am going to choose to do some things differently than she. I am not going to laugh at a filthy joke even if it strikes me funny, and I am not going to repeat it even if I want to.

If we don't understand the difference between personality and character, we might think that because we have a bent a certain direction, we have no choice in the matter, but this is the opposite of the truth. Making choices against your natural inclination is at the very root of good character. The more we exercise the opportunity to make right choices in the face of personality preferences, the stronger we become. This doesn't change our personality. We were born with that, and God gave it to us. It is guarded by our choices, but it isn't changed. There is no sin and no shame if it similar to one or the other of our parents -- even if they are wicked.

You may not want to look like your mother, but if you do, you can't help it. You may think like her and have a lot of interests in common with her, but you only act like her if you choose to. I personally am blessed with a mother I am happy to look like, and in many things I act like her also. I thank God for a mother who has made it easier for me to make right choices in many areas where another person may need a higher degree of character to overcome both inclination and example. Nonetheless, I will give account before God for each choice I have made in life, whether to be more like her or less. My personality, however, and my looks, will not come into judgement.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Public Prayer

A reader who generally appreciated my post on praying in the name of Jesus suggested that public prayer is different. I agree. In order for a Christian to be faithful to His Lord when he prays in public, it is necessary for him to audibly name the name of Jesus.

Most prayer, however, is not public. By far the greater portion of the prayers a true Christian prays are made in secret with no other hearer than God himself. In these private prayers, whether prayed in lengthy chunks during a time set apart for prayer or uttered quickly throughout the day, the name of Jesus will undoubtedly come up, but the one praying need not feel a compunction to end the prayer with any certain phrase.

Prayer with intimate friends will be the next most common type. Where there is a bond of fellowship around the Lord Jesus, His name will certainly come up, but there should be no need for a rule about placing it at the end of a prayer.

The one time when there may be a temptation to leave out the name of our Lord Jesus, when we are praying in public, is the one time when there is a call to be especially careful to verbally make it clear that the prayer is prayed in His name. This may be done throughout the prayer, but it is wisely added at the end as well, that at the close no scoffer or unbeliever can doubt that this was a Christian's prayer to the Christian's God. It is comparatively rare for a Christian to pray thus in public. Not many of us have frequent opportunities to pray at political assemblies, business conferences, family reunions, and the like, where the ungodly may be present. Nonetheless, when we do have that opportunity, let us make it very plain whose we are and in whose name we pray.

Preachers who cross circles and preach in unfamiliar places and who want to distinguish themselves from the man-pleasing, ear-tickling sort of preacher may find it useful to adopt the custom of adding a phrase to their prayers that intentionally includes the name of Jesus. Those who do may also want to make it clear that they are referring to
the Lord Jesus Christ of the Bible
There are many "Jesus"es these days and many "lord"s. Saying "in Jesus' name" may distinguish a person from the liberal modernist of 100 years ago who spoke of "the Christ" as an idea, but who knew nothing of Him as a person. It may also distinguish them from the modern ecumenical who speaks of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man, but who ignores the issues of sin and the cross and avoids the name of Jesus. But it will not distinguish you from the worldling who grew up saying, "What would Jesus do?" without the vaguest notion from the Bible of what He would do. Many people speak of "Jesus" without thinking of the fact that He is the Son of God, the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords, and that He has a double claim on our lives: one for having created us, and a second for having redeemed us by His blood. Let our language reflect not only that we believe in Jesus, but that we know
who He is

Monday, August 18, 2014

True Surrender

Sinless was our Lord’s request
    To have the cup pass by Him —
    The cup about to try Him —
Knowing He must face the test;
Knowing He must drink the cup,
    The hour being nigh Him,
    And God could not supply Him
Righteous means to pass it up.

"Not my will but Thine be done"
     He prayed in resignation;
    Our goal is imitation
Of the prayer of God's own Son.
Those who claim no will at all
    Lack Biblical foundation
    And hold a deviation
From our high and holy call.

God’s not seeking empty hearts,
    But those whose hearts aspire
    To something even higher
Than a granted wish imparts.
Men may feel a preference still,
    While yielding each desire,
    And making an entire,
Full surrender of the will. 

Drops of blood our Savior shed,
    Though yielded in submission
    To His ordained position —
And the cross that lay ahead;
Men may also yield control
    To God without condition,
    Surrend’ring each ambition,
“In an agony” of soul. 

Luke 22:42 & 44

Friday, August 8, 2014

Praying in the Name of Jesus

Those who know me well know that when I posted about praying in the name of the Lord Jesus, I did not mean uttering the words "in the name of Jesus" at the end of the prayer. This is a fine thing to do, but it is as open to abuse as any religious practice if the emphasis is put on the outward form rather than the heart of the matter.

If we are "in Christ"; if we are His disciples; if we have His interests at heart, we will pray in His name. We will pray for things He wants as much or more than we do. And when we pray for things that are for ourselves, our only plea will be that we are Christ's, and He has promised to give us all things. We know that we deserve nothing, and all we have is through Him. Thus we ask for it in His name --- whether we use the words or not.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Power of Prayer

Prayer is powerful -- but only as powerful as the person you pray to. Our God and creator who spoke the universe into existence and sent His Son into the world as a redeemer is all-powerful, loving, and good. He has promised to hear the prayers of His people. He has placed some conditions on answered prayer, and He is rarely on the same time table as we, but we have His word that He will hear us, and we know He is able. Thus, "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."

Prayers made to saints, guardian angels, ancestors, or a vague higher power may be powerful too --- as powerful as the demon who receives them. The devil is not all-powerful, and he does not promise to answer prayer. He certainly gives no assurance that he has our well-being at heart. Nonetheless, the devil has real power, and if it suits his purposes, he may answer prayer in a mighty and powerful way.

When we pray, we must be very clear who we are praying to and in whose name we pray. If we pray in our own name to anyone who has power to help us, we may get an answer, but it may not be from God. Those of us who love the Lord Jesus pray to the Father in His name. We know the power of that prayer, but its power is not in itself. The power is in the one true God to whom we pray. He is not only all-powerful. He is also holy and good. Let us be careful not to confuse our honor to Him for His goodness in answering our prayers with what the world gives to prayer itself without defining who is being prayed to. Let us make a distinciton between "the power of prayer" and the power of God to whom we pray in the name of His Son the Lord Jesus Christ.

Sunday, July 27, 2014


You’re running from your troubles,
      But trouble comes along —
‘Cause when a person’s running,
      It’s usually him that’s wrong.

It may be something little
      That no one really knows,
But anywhere you run to,
      That little trouble goes.

Do what you can to shake it,
      It will not let you go,
And all the while you’re running,
      It’s likely just to grow.

Why don’t you turn and face it
      And grab it by the root?
Don’t think you can outrun it —
      Just give the thing the boot!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Discerning the Will of God

The will of the Lord is for you to do right —
To honor His Word and to walk in the light,
There’s no need to fret about finding His will;
He’s spelled it out plainly for you to fulfil.

What town you should live in; your house and your car —
And whether to move or just stay where you are,
The job you should get and what projects to start
Are rarely the issues most dear to His heart.

Your sanctification’s His primary goal;
Your spiritual health and the state of your soul,
So flee fornication and lusts of the eyes —
Away with all anger and malice and lies!

Be filled with the Spirit, not drunken with wine,
For this is our loving Creator’s design.
And work with your hands all the while it is day
To bless other folks and to earn your own way.

The will of the Lord doesn’t change over time,
Or blow with the wind and adjust to the clime.
The counsel of God remains steady and true —
What stood long ago He means also for you.

To author confusion is not His intent.
He means what He says, and He said what He meant,
So open the book He has placed in your hands.
Then read and believe — and obey its commands.

It’s never God’s will when a verse twists or bends
To justify sin or your own selfish ends,
But when at face value the Bible you take,
It still gives you freedom some choices to make.

The path that you choose must allow you to do
The things that are written — and strengthen you too,
To add to your faith every virtue and grace
That helps you to run and to finish the race.

If you are not able to keep the Lord’s Word,
Your view of His will is undoubtedly blurred.
How much you have prayed doesn’t matter a scratch,
If what the Word says and your actions don’t match.

Acknowledge the Lord by obeying His voice
And making the Bible the base of your choice.
Trust Him, not yourself, and He’ll guide and protect;
Your choices He’ll honor; your steps He’ll direct.

~ Nita Brainard

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Will of God

When I posted about how all things work together for good, I mentioned that the blessing of God is no proof that a course we have taken is "The will of God" in the sense that he preordained our path. While reading the book of Joshua I was struck by how clear an example of this the Lord gives us by including the story of the Gibeonites in the Scriptures. 

Gibeon was a chief city of the Hivites. The expressed will of God for the people of Israel was for them to extinguish the people of the land of Canaan, including the Hivites. (Deut. 7:1) Deuteronomy 7:2 says: "thou shalt make no covenant with them." Nonetheless, the men of Gibeon disguised themselves and deceived the Israelites into forming a league with them, contrary to the will of God. Joshua and the princes of Israel "asked not counsel at the mouth of the Lord." (Josh. 9:14). If they had sought counsel, the Lord would have instructed them not to trust the deceivers, and they would not have made that covenant. Once, however, the league with Gibeon was formed, it was God's will for Israel to keep her promise. (Psalm 15). He honored the choice of his people, even when they had obviously made the wrong choice. How much more will he honor the choices of his people when they are making their decisions based on the principles of Scripture!

God did not direct Joshua to make the league with Gibeon. He had been left out of the decision making process. Nonetheless he blessed Israel and even used the league with Gibeon for Israel's good. (Rom. 8:28). Five kings of the land came out against Gibeon. Honoring the newly made covenant, the Israelites went to war in Gibeon's defense, and "the Lord fought for Israel." (Josh. 10:14). God so blessed them in the battle that he cast down great stones from heaven upon their enemies. (Josh. 10:11). In this battle the sun and moon stood still. The Scripture records that "there was no day like that before it or after it, that the Lord hearkened unto the voice of a man." (Josh 10:14).

God can and will turn even our bad choices to good account, for "we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." (Rom. 8:28).


Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Road

I took the road less travelled by —
      Not consciously I chose,
But followed, without knowing why,
      The path that upward rose.

It hasn’t been an easy course,
      My progress often blocked,
But I look back without remorse
      For walking where I walked.

When stumbling in some dip or hole,
      To passion much inclined,
I’ve felt the weakness of my soul,
      And seemed so far behind.

I’ve wondered if I’d chosen right
      To take a path so rough,
But viewing now in clearer light,
      I see ‘twas well enough.

I overcame the dips and rocks,
      And many trials withstood;
The stones I thought were stumbling blocks
      Were there for my own good.

They made me stronger in the race,
      And though I wasn’t fast,
I made some progress by God’s grace —
      And I'll reach home at last.      

~ Nita Brainard

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Following Dreams

Follow your dreams is the cry of our day. We all have dreams. There is nothing wrong in that. But there are different kinds of dreams, and they should not all be treated alike.

Some dreams are directly from God. If you have a dream from God, as Joseph had, you should hang on to it and not despise it --- But hanging on to a dream is a different thing from following it. If Joseph had been following his dreams, he wouldn't have chosen slavery in Egypt --- and he probably wouldn't have had his dreams fulfilled.

Most of the dreams that people love to follow are not from God at all and have nothing to do with Him and His concerns. They are not necessarily wrong things --- just self-centered things. These, if we hang on to them at all, must be held with a loose hand by those who die to themselves and follow Christ.

Other dreams that godly people cherish really are centered in God and the things that pertain to Him. They are dreams for His work to be done His way. --- But often our perception of 
what is His work
what is His way
is skewed. There is no perfection under the sun, but our dreams tend to be idealistic and are often intermingled with selfish prejudices. Because of this, even these dreams must be held with a loose hand, so they can be refined as our minds are renewed by the word of God. They should only be followed to the degree that they conform to the things which the Bible commands us to follow:
                       The Lord Jesus  Luke 9:23; John 10:27
                       The things which make for peace Rom. 14:9
                       That which is good 1 Thess. 5:15; 3 John 1:11
                       Those who follow Christ 1 Cor.s 11:1; 2 Thess.3:7-9; Heb. 13:7; Rev. 14:13
                       Righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness 1 Tim.6:11
                       Righteousness, faith, charity, peace 2 Tim. 2:22

For a poem about dreams not followed, see Dreams.

Saturday, April 5, 2014


A friend recently posted this quote about the caterpillar with wings. It reminded me of a couple of poems I have written. "My Wings" is posted on, but I'm posting here the one I like better.

An Itch to Fly

The butterflies all flit around,
But woe is me, I’m tightly bound.
I can’t get free. I can’t get loose
To give my wings their proper use.

Yes, I have wings. I do, I know.
They itched so as I felt them grow.
They itched, and now they itch the more,
And long to open up and soar.

Why have these flight devices grown,
But only itched and never flown?
What purpose are my bound-up wings?
Not used to fly, they’re worthless things!

They itch, they ache, they throb, they burn,
They pant and pine to have their turn
For freedom in the boundless sky,
Where they can spread themselves and fly.

But trapped inside a chrysalis,
Such opportunities I miss.
My wings don’t fly; they barely twitch,
And oh, they itch, they itch, they itch.

~ Nita Brainard

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Charlotte Elizabeth's Horse Ride

Before  Charlotte Elizabeth became a prolific Christian writer and the author of many anonymous tracts, she spent some time in Nova Scotia where her best friends were her horse and her dog. Though not a horsey person myself, the following poem made a deep impression on me when I read her autobiography many years ago. Not able to find it online, I decided to post it myself for my friends who love horses and for those who, like me, are inexplicably captivated by the abandon and comradery so beautifully expressed in this poem. She composed the following lines in the early part of the 19th century while riding a dappled gray Arabian named Fairy.  Marco was her dog.

I know by the ardour thou canst not restrain,
By the curve of thy neck and the toss of thy mane,
By the foam of thy snorting which spangles my brow,
The fire of the Arab is hot in thee now.
'Twere harsh to control thee, my frolicksome steed,
I give thee the rein -- so away at thy speed;
Thy rider will dare to be wilful as thee,
Laugh the future to scorn, and partake in thy glee.
Away to the mountain -- what need we to fear?
Pursuit cannot press on my Fairy's career,
Full light were the heel and well balanced the head
That ventured to follow the track of thy tread;
Where roars the loud torrent and starts the rude plank,
And thunders the rock-severed mass down the bank,
While mirror'd in crystal the far-shooting glow,
With dazzling effulgence is sparkling below.
One start, and I die; yet in peace I recline,
My bosom can rest on the fealty of thine;
Thou lov'st me, my sweet one, and would'st not be free
From a yoke that has never borne rudely on thee.
Ah, pleasant the empire of those to confess,
Whose wrath is a whisper, their rule a caress.

Behold how thy playmate is stretching beside,
As loath to be vanquish'd in love or in pride,
While upward he glances his eye-ball of jet,
Half dreading thy fleetness may distance him yet.
Ah Marco, poor Marco -- our pastime to-day
Were reft of one pleasure if he were away.

How precious these moments! fair Freedom expands
Her pinions of light o'er the desolate lands:
The waters are flashing as bright as thine eye,
Unchain'd as thy motion the breezes sweep by;
Delicious they come, o'er the flower-scented earth,
Like whispers of love from the isle of my birth;
While the white-bosom'd Cistus her perfume exhales,
And sighs out a spicy farewell to the gales.
Unfeared and unfearing we'll traverse the wood,
Where pours the rude torrent its turbulent flood:
The forest's red children will smile as we scour
By the log-fashioned hut and the pine-woven bower;
Thy feathery footsteps scarce bending the grass,
Or denting the dew-spangled moss where we pass.

What startles thee? 'Twas but the sentinel gun
Flashed a vesper salute to thy rival, the sun;
He has closed his swift progress before thee, and sweeps
With fetlock of gold, the last verge of the steeps.
The fire-fly anon from his covet shall glide,
And dark fall the shadows of eve on the tide.
Tread softly -- my spirit is joyous no more,
A northern aurora, it shone and is o'er;
The tears will fall fast as I gather the rein,
And a long look reverts to yon shadowy plain.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Variation on the Felt Slippers

When I tried to make my felt slippers by memory, I happened upon a variation that doesn't require cutting after the felting. It still leaves the ankle free, but comes up higher in the front.

You cast on 6 extra stitches. Then after you work the heel, you decrease 5 of those stitches across the instep when you do your second decrease along the side stitches of the gusset. Decrease the last stitch on the last decrease row of the gusset. Here are the modified instructions:


2 3.5 oz balls worsted weight wool
Double points and/or 24" circular needle, size 11 Double points recommended for toe. If used on the whole slipper, they should be at minimum 8" long.
Using two strands at once, CO 48 stitches. (for woman's narrow CO 46) [for men's medium or large CO 51] Join, being careful not to twist stitches.
Knit one round. [for men, k 3 rounds]
Knit 24 stitches (22) [26]. Work back and forth on these 24 stitches to create the back of the heel. Work 15 rows stockinette st. (Knit one row, purl one row.) End with a purl row.
Turn Heel:
Slip 1, K13 (11) [15] K2 tog, k1, turn
Slip 1, P5 (5) [7], P2 tog, P1, turn
Slip 1, K6 (6) [8], k2 tog, K1, turn
Slip 1, P7 (7) [9], p2 tog, P1, turn
Continue in this manner until all stitches are used up. End with a purl row. (For narrow sizes, the last decrease row will be a knit row. P1 row before beginning gusset.) There should be 14 (13) [16] stitches on needle.
Make Gusset:
Knit 7 (6) [8]. Place marker, if using circular needles. Switch needles if using double points. K7 (For narrow size, K2 tog, then knit 5). Pick up 10 (10) [11] stitches along side of heel flap. Place marker, or switch needles. Knit across 24 (24) [25] stitches, placing them on one needle, if using double points. Place marker, or switch needles. Pick up 10 (10) [11] stitches along other side of heel flap. Knit 7 (6) [8] stitches.

You are now at the center of the heel. This will be the beginning of your rounds. You should have 17 (16) [19] stitches on each side of heel.
Round 1: Knit to within 2 stitches of marker {or the end of the first needle.} K2 tog. Knit the 24 (24) [25] stitches that form the top of the foot. After next marker, {or at the beginning of the 3rd needle} K2 tog.
Round 2:Knit.
Round 3: Knit to within 2 stitches of marker {or the end of the first needle.} K2 tog. Knit the stitches that form the top of the foot, decreasing 5 stitches over the course of the 24 (24) [25] stitches {19 (19) [20] stitches remaining.} After next marker, {or at the beginning of the 3rd needle} K2 tog.
Round 4: Knit

Repeat Round 1 then Round 2, 3 (3) [4] more times until there are 12 (11) [13] stitches on each side of heel. On the last round, decrease one stitch in the center of the instep. You will now have 42 (40) [44] stitches total. From here the pattern is the same as the original slipper pattern. 

Knit around and around to the desired measurement from the beginning of the gusset {where you picked up stitches.}:
For woman's small: 7" 
For woman's medium: 9"
For woman's large or men's medium: 11"
For man's large: 12"

Decrease for toe. Double points will work best here. If you are using a circular needle, you will have to pull up the cable as you go. In other words, pull out a loop of cable without any stitches on it, so you can reach the stitches on the needle to knit them. {It is a hassle, but it is only after years of knitting that I acquired double points in the larger sizes. If you only do an occasional project of this type, the circular needle will work.}

For women's regular size:
Round 1: *K 5, K2 tog* repeat around.
Round 2 and all even rounds: Knit
Round 3: *K4, K2 tog* repeat around
Round 5: *K3, K2 tog*, repeat around
Round 7: *k2, K2 tog*, repeat around
Round 9: *K1, K2 tog*, repeat around

For women's narrow:
Round 1: K3, K2 tog, *K 5, K2 tog* repeat between * to end of round.
Round 2 and all even rounds: Knit
Round 3: K2, K2tog, *K4, K2 tog* repeat between * to end of round
Round 5: K1, K2tog, *K3, K2 tog* repeat between * to end of round
Round 7: K2tog, *K2, K2 tog* repeat between * to end of round
Round 9: K2 K2tog *K1 K2tog*, repeat between * to end of round

For men's or wide slippers:
Round 1: *K 5, K2 tog* repeat between * around until 3 stitches are left. K1, K2 tog.
Round 2 and all even rounds: Knit
Round 3: *K4, K2 tog* repeat around until 2 stitches are left. K2 tog
Round 5: *K3, K2 tog*, repeat around K last stitch
Round 6: *K2, K2 tog*, repeat around, K last stitch
Round 7: *K1, K2 tog*, repeat around, K last stitch

Cut yarn with long tail. Thread on tapestry needle, and sew through stitches on needle. Pull tightly into a circle and sew up. Weave yarn ends into work.

Make flower to put on woman's slippers. Use one of these patterns, if desired:
Five Petal Flower
Easy Flower

Felting Instructions:
Place items to be felted in a pillow case. Tie shut. I use a rubber band or hair tie. This keeps the wool fuzzies from getting in your washing machine. Set machine to smallest wash setting, hot water, and most vigorous speed. Put pillow case with wool items in the machine along with a heavy piece of cloth to increase the agitation. I use an old drapery panel. Allow to agitate 15 - 40 minutes. The time needed will vary according to your wash machine, the water temperature, and the yarn used. I use two wash cycles, or about 24 minutes.  Do not spin out. Spinning may cause creases in the fabric that can not be gotten out. I leave the machine open, so the spinner will not activate, and cover the machine with a heavy cloth. Pull pillow case out of water. Squeeze out excess water and rinse in cold water. Remove slippers. If they need more shrinking, return them to the pillow case and put them back in the washer. If not, squeeze out the water, stuff with towels and allow to dry. They can be stretched a little, if needed.
(Be sure to pull the fuzzies out of your pillow case before throwing it back in the washer to spin out)

These slippers were left in the washer through the spin cycle, and you can see a crease across one of them. This cannot be removed, and it is the reason for NOT spinning felted items. 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

A Perfect Church

   Over two years ago I wrote a blog post about A Christian Home. I was inspired by the description of a nearly perfect home to turn our attention to the only One who is truly perfect. After quoting a verse from the hymn by Barbara Hart with the same title (A Christian Home), I wrote:

   "God in his word speaks to every person as an individual, regardless of his circumstances.  We desire to have Christian homes, but the first thing is to have Christ and to be Christ's ourselves.  I thank God that Christianity is not dependent upon having a Christian home, Christian neighbors, or a Christian nation.

   "Too often, while looking to have perfection in our surroundings, we fail to overcome in the little things of life.  Someone else becomes impatient in turmoil, and we get discouraged.  Someone else fails to remain calm and courageous in a time of trouble, and we are disgruntled.  Those in our home don't seem to find any joy in serving others, and so we excuse ourselves for being the same way ~ and we wonder what happened to love in the days dark and grim.

   "The trouble is that we are looking too much for results and have lost our focus on the Savior. Oh, to maintain high aspirations and to expect great things from God, including great changes in ourselves and our family, without taking our eyes off the one and only, the Lord Jesus Christ!

   "None of us is without sin, and no family is perfect. Some are beautiful and worthy of imitation, but all have their blemishes. If we look upon the blemishes, we may become disheartened and justify our own wayward behavior, even thinking, perhaps, that we must have a certain kind of Christian home in order to be the sort of Christian we desire to be ~ when the exact opposite is true. Our power to live a Christian life is in Christ, and in him alone.  And only in discovering this can we do our part to make a Christian home.

  "A Christian home where others behave as they ought to will diminish our temptations, but it will not give the power to become the sons of God.  It will not give us the victory of faith.  Those things are available only in the Lord Jesus Christ, and they are available whatever our circumstances, and regardless of what sort of home we have."

   Today I add that Christianity, not dependent on a perfect family, is also not dependent on the perfect church. Each of us has the responsibility to fellowship with a church which is as much conformed to the Scriptures as possible, but even the best of those will have its blemishes. 

   All the things said about the Christian family also pertain to the family of Christ. We are each of us responsible for ourselves, for our own relationship with the Father, with the head of the church, and with each other. We can choose the best church possible, and we should, but when our brothers and sisters in Christ fail to be patient, calm, courageous, joyous, and servant-like, it is no excuse for us also to become so. 

   We have no business to become discouraged or to blame our church for our own failures. Our strength is still where it always was (or should be) ~ in the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.  No matter how weak and failing our church or our family may be, we have the power in Christ to be conformed to His image; to be one of those who hears what the Spirit says unto the churches and to overcome.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Impromptu Fair Isle

What do you do when you get up the the armpits on a raglan sweater and realize you don't have enough blue yarn to finish?

You get out your scraps and make random fair isle patterns!

Second question: Will the six year old like it?

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Strong Meat Casserole

My husband calls me a queen of leftovers. He used to tease that I bought my groceries in the left-over isle at the grocery store. But he also admits that the casseroles I concoct out of leftovers are sometimes as good as the original meal.

This past weekend I attended a conference called "Strong Meat." I took home a few of the morsels preached by Al Bulow and threw them in my crock pot. After they had cooked a little and I had stirred them a few times, I pulled this out:

Food in Egypt

Ah, yes, there's food in Egypt,
   But what will be the cost?
What troubles will you find there?
   What virtue may be lost?

For no one goes to Egypt 
   But that he has to pay.
It costs a man to eat there,
   However short the stay.

When Joseph during famine,
   Earth's food supply controlled,
It wasn't free for taking ~
   No,every grain was sold.

And thus the starved Egyptians
   Were brought to servitude.
They gave their lands and cattle,
   Then sold themselves for food.

And even Joseph's brothers,
   Who came to him for bread,
Left children under bondage
   Long after they were fed.

The land is dry in Egypt
   Where rain does not abound,
And those who till and water
   Look down to work the ground.

Not so the Land of Promise
   Where God has set His eye.
He rains His blessings on it
   In bounty from the sky.

So, ye who thirst and hunger,
   Look up, and taste, and see:
The bread that comes from heaven,
   The living bread is free.