Friday, July 16

Fleece Blankets and My Personal Testimony

Over the past 2 weeks our SH girls have been working on making no-sew fleece blankets. We've been talking about doing this easy project for awhile, and finally got up enough funds to go buy the fabric!

Here's how we made them:

1 yard printed fabric
1 yard solid coordinating fabric
(we couldn't afford anymore fabric than this since we have 11 girls, but it made a nice little "lap blanket")

1. I pinned the 2 pieces of fabric together ahead of time, making sure all the edges were even and any "bolt hems" or whatever trimmed off.
2. I cut out 3x1 inch strips of cardboard for each girl to use as a guide for cutting strips around the entire perimeter of the blanket.
3. Once the strips were cut, the girls double knotted the strips together to connect the 2 fabrics, and the pins were removed.

-we found that in order to double knot each row of strips, we had to cut them a tad bit longer than the guide. Some girls opted to just tie every other one, creating a different look for the edges... Some girls also decided to leave 2 opposite sides untied/uncut, so they flip it inside out. One girl even made hers into a sleeping bag of sorts. Their creativity was running freely, so I just let them go! :)

(I have seen people sew inside the perimeter after knotting the strips, but I think the blankets stay together just fine without that, and I really wanted the girls to feel like they had done the entire project themselves.)

***Pictures have been removed - my apologies!!***


When I arrived Tuesday, I realized I had forgotten the hand outs I intended to talk about... AND my Bible! I searched all through the storage closets of the church dining room- and couldn't find a Bible. (I forgot my church sanctuary key as well.) So... I had to think up something LAST MINUTE to talk to them about in group, and I decided to give them my personal testimony.

Here it is...

I born into a Christian home. My parents brought me to church faithfully, and taught me about the Lord from a very young age. When my sister Courtney was born, I was three years old. I decided I wanted to be a "big girl" and sleep in my own room once my baby sister arrived- that is, as long as mom let her crib be in MY ROOM! I was so excited about having my very own "live baby doll"! It didn't take long for mom to figure out that I was crawling into the baby's crib to "keep her company". At first, she was a little concerned that I would hurt the baby, but after watching us carefully for a few weeks, she realized that I was very aware and cautious around "baby". So, she let Courtney and I begin sharing a room- a sleeping arrangement that would last for years to come! (:

Mom says, early in the mornings, she would often hear my voice drifting through the baby monitor that was sitting on her nightstand. She would turn up the volume, and smile as she listened to me telling a 3-month-old about Daniel and the lions... and Noah's big ark... and how Jesus died for our sins because He loves us. -I'm not altogether sure I knew what I was talking about at the ripe old age of three and a half... but Mom and Dad had planted some of God's Word in my heart with Bible stories, and I decided it was my responsibility to witness to Courtney. I was just trying to get her saved. :)

So, my knowledge of God and His Son predates my earliest memories... but the first time I can remember REALLY accepting the Lord as MY Savior... well, that was when I was five.

Here's what brought it about...

When I was five I developed severe stomach pains. After realizing that I was not "putting on", my parents brought me to the doctor to see what was up. The doctor informed them that I had a hernia. (A small tear in the tissue lining my stomach.) He said the only fix, was to perform surgery. When my parents explained to me what "surgery" was, I was TERRIFIED! My mom reassured me that I wouldn't feel a thing, but I was still so distressed that someone was going to use a knife to cut into my stomach. So, I decided to pray for God to heal me. I had heard of such things when various people testified in church. So, I KNEW it was possible. Why not? My most vivid memory of this time was me wrapped up in a blanket, rolling around  in pain on our carpeted living room floor. With tears streaming down my face, and painful groans, I pleaded with God to heal my stomach so I wouldn't need surgery. I told Him that I believed in Him and His Son, and that I wanted Him to come into my heart and be MY GOD.

I don't remember when the pain stopped, but it did. I don't really remember anything else, but my mom tells me this is what happened next:

We went to a different doctor for a check up the day before my scheduled surgery. After examining me, with a look of confusion, he looked up and said, I think there's been some mistake... she has no hernia! My parents left the doctor not really knowing what to think. "Maybe that doctor doesn't know what he's talking about... maybe we should go back to the original one before tomorrow..." they discussed. Right about then, I popped my head up from the back seat and said with a grin, "Don't worry! God healed me!" With that, I went back to humming and playing. My parents just looked at each in shock.

They later found out that I was, in fact, healed! No hernia! That experience strengthened my faith incredibly! I remember that un-corrupted feeling I had as a child towards God. The absolute confidence that He could and WOULD do anything for me. That anyone who doubted just didn't understand who they were dealing with. As we get older, we tend to complicate our trust in God... thinking that we are "unworthy"... or thinking that it "isn't God's will" to heal us or help us. While God's answer to our prayers is sometimes different than what we desire, I think it's important that we don't mix up our inadequacy with God's omnipotence. If we were worthy, or somehow thought we were "earning" our healing, God wouldn't really get the glory, now would He? That is something a child doesn't stuggle with mentally. I think that's why Jesus said we must "have faith as a little child."

I was a typical "church kid" for the rest of my childhood... never getting into much trouble... wanting to please my parents. I even started teaching the 3-4 year olds Sunday School class when I was 12. I loved the Lord. I did. But, somewhere along the way, my heart began to wander. By the age of 13, I REALLY wanted my ticket into the "cool kids group". I found myself becoming a follower rather than a leader, and imitating girls who I believed to be "popular". I lost some of my confidence and began criticizing the way God created me. I had no intention of becoming an atheist by any means. I still firmly believed in God and the Bible. I knew His way was best... but, I started down the road of compromise, convincing myself that I could be "cool", and still be a Christian- at least on the inside.

That's about when my parents brought me to a Basic Seminar through the Institute in Basic Life Principles. I'd have to say I listened about half the time while sitting in the sessions. All of it made a lot of sense to me, and I wanted to please God, but the worldly young people in my church youth group were pulling on me strongly. I'm positive that after leaving that conference, I would have pushed those principles I was learning into the back of my head, again focusing on my social status. But, my parents had different plans. My wise father saw that my heart was wandering and that I was dangerously teetering on the edge of a very steep spiritual decline.

After our session one night, my parents brought me into the book sales area of the conference. All of the tables were manned by young people who were dressed modestly and possessed a glowing countenance and enthusiasm I had never seen on a young person before. My parents begin discussing the ATI home school curriculem (through IBLP) with one of the girls as I listened. It was apparent they had already been doing some research by their conversation. I had already been homeschooled for most of my life, but upon meeting these young people, I was convinced I DID NOT want to be in this program! Being in their presence made me feel a little uncomfortable... a little "naked"... like something very important was missing on my end. It wasn't a pleasant feeling. Oh, they were the nicest kids I'd ever met, to be sure. But, I had a sinking feeling that I was about to be taken out of the "driver's seat" of my young teenage life, and I wasn't giving it up without a fight.

Of course, my parents did what they thought was best for our family- despite my objections, and I'm oh so glad they did. This was a huge TURNING POINT for me spiritually. ATI proved to be more of a "life change" for us, rather than JUST a curriculem. In order to begin the program, we were required to go through the Admissions Seminar and the Advanced Seminar, where we learned to do family "wisdom search" in the mornings. I would have to say, this solitary activity was THE MOST instrumental change that our family made. "Wisdom Seach", or "Rhema Search" as some call it went like this: We got up as a family before my Dad went to work (which was sometimes before the crack of dawn) and sat down at our kitchen table to do a devotion. We each took turns praying aloud, (something I had NEVER done before!) then we read our daily Proverbs and Psalms. We usually read 2 or 5 verses each, going around the table. This way, there was no chance for someone to not participate. After reading, we each brought out a scripture or "rhema" that God had given us from the chapter. Something that "spoke" to us, or that we needed to work on. Some of us took notes as well.

I can not begin to tell you the extraordinary work that God begin doing in our family through this excercise. There were tears, there was a lot of repenting to one another, there was laughter... our family was being closely knit together once again, and my heart turned to my father.

Malachi 4:6 "And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers..."

Along with wisom search, our family begin praying aloud together each night, and we started the curriculem which was a thematic teaching unit, each booklet of which was based on a verse from the Beatitudes & a relevant character quality. The core of our study booklet each month began in Scripture, lead into character development, then branched out into all subjects. The result of introducing this program into our lives was, that we were now in the Word and praying EVERY DAY as a family. It provided my parents almost constant opportunities to teach us more about God and His statues. Looking back on these changes we made in our household, they seem so incredibly simple. But, God's way IS simple. And SO productive!

A few months after beginning all of these new activities, we were in Knoxville, TN at the annual ATI conference where I attended a class for girls my age on feminine modesty. The emphasis on the "heart issues" producing the outward modesty really convicted me. I knew I needed a heart "makeover". That night in my dormitory while the rest of my family was asleep, I fell to my knees and repented to God for straying from His love and grace. I sobbed as I asked Him to show me more clearly His plan for my life. I remember His Spirit sweeping over me so strongly, that I could hardly remain quiet. I didn't want to wake my sister, but I let the Lord bless me.

At the age of 5, I accepted Him for the first time. At the age of 14, with a deeper understanding of the cost of serving God and the consequences of serving the world , I re-dedicated my life to Him. There have been mountains and valleys in my life since, but after this night, I never stopped depending on the Lord to pick me up when I stumble, and to give me the delights of my heart as He said He would.

I now know that true joy and true acceptance is through Him, and Him alone.

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