Thursday, February 25, 2010

Wedding Dress Project

My wedding dress was the most beautiful dress I have ever worn, and honestly, ever have worn since. It had gold beading and intricately sewn flowers and paisleys all over the bodice. It's thin spaghetti straps glistened with crystal beads, and the skirt was a gorgeously simple taffeta silk that hung to the floor. It was - and still is - an exquisite piece of clothing. And it hangs in my closet having only been worn for fittings, pictures, and one amazing evening almost nine years ago.

I also have another gorgeous white dress hanging in my closet, one that was supposed to be my wedding dress. It was my debutante dress, bought with the idea that I would wear it for my debut and then save it for my wedding day. My father had taken me dress shopping. I had a magazine with MY dress featured in it, and I begged him to pay a ridiculous amount of money for this dress, convincing him, promising him that I would indeed wear it again when the right man came along. I was twenty years old. Five years later I had found that man but I had changed, matured, moved on. So when I pulled out that precious white gown from my closet at home, I sighed. I sighed because deep down I knew I had promised to wear something that I did not want to wear again. And I didn't. And my dad just shook his head. My precious parents, there are not words for how loved I have been.

Both of these dresses have been in my bedroom closet of my parents' home for many years. There has not been a reason to need them, yet I haven't been able to bring myself to get rid of even one of them - until now. My church, Church of the Apostles (CotA), has strong ties to Rwanda. A few months ago, a woman by the name of Cookie Richardson told me about a wedding dress project that our church was going to support. Women in Rwanda rent their dresses for their wedding day. In the Kibungo Diocese there is not a rental company located in a central place for brides to be able to rent a dress. SO, CotA is teaming up with another church in St. Louis to collect enough dresses to start a wedding dress rental business. The business will allow women in need to earn a sustainable living while providing dresses to brides. What a blessing to all! Now I have a place for my dress to go, women with seamstress skills will be employed, and brides will get to wear the kind of dress they have also dreamed about since their childhood. How creative and nurturing is our God!

All this said, I am now asking for help in supporting this project. Cookie Richardson is heading up this endeavor and needs many different kinds of donations. A group called Mother's Union has significant presence in Kibungo Diocese and has helped in the writing of an initial business plan. Please see the list below, and if you feel so called to help, please let me know!

Needs include:

Wedding dresses
Accessories - veils, pieces of fabric, headpieces, undergarments for the dresses, etc.
Flower girl dresses
Bridesmaids dresses
Space Saver bags (The ones you suck the air out of with a vacuum cleaner)
Monetary donations to help in shipping costs
Monetary donations to go toward sewing machines that can be man powered with a pedal when electricity is not available
Old suitcases for missionaries to carry the dresses to Rwanda
Prayer, always prayer!

If you want more information, I have a more extensive summary I can send you. God bless!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Secret Recipe

"In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33

Back in the day, when my oldest son, Key, was four, his preschool class wrote a cookbook of all of their most favorite dinners. I know I have not thrown that cookbook away, but I can't put my fingers on it at this particular moment. However, I still remember many of the recipes. For instance, one called for a can of tomato soup to be opened, poured in a pot, and then boiled for two hours. Another needed approximately one jar of peanut butter to be wiped all over a piece of bread. Then squeeze a jar of jelly on top of another piece of bread and squish the two pieces of bread together. Lovely and delicious, I am sure. The funniest one of all happened to be Key's. I even heard other mothers in the hallway, laughing and saying, "Did you read the one about the salmon?" Because on one level it is funny all on it's own that my child's favorite dinner ever at the age of four was baked salmon and rice. He also liked sushi. Go figure. And, so, for the cookbook, he explained in detail how to make baked salmon.

1. Get the salmon and wrap it with lots of string.
2. Sprinkle black dots all over it.
3. Put it in a pan and cook it until it is burned.
4. Turn it into chicken.
5. Take off all the strings and eat it.

See? That's my secret recipe for salmon. Now you know. I have magical skills.

I was making my grocery list this morning, and I was trying to decide what to cook for dinner. I have all these yummy sounding recipes I want to try, but I was only shopping today for one week. I felt overwhelmed with trying to plan out our family menu. And then I thought of Key's recipe, and I thought of the verse above, and I chuckled to myself. I am guessing that the verse probably is helpful to Christians that know it and are battling a chronic illness or tragedy in their lives. But today, it was comforting to me. When big things happen, we as Christians are usually good at thinking about Jesus, whether it be out of blame, guilt, or comfort. But what about in the little daily things? "In this world you will have trouble." Yes, like big stuff. But also stuff like overwhelming grocery lists. And kids that drank too much apple juice and have to pee seven times while at the grocery store. Yes, all that, all in the same trip. That kind of trouble too. Maybe it would be better if I labeled minor woes as inconveniences. But still. THOSE kinds of minor inconveniences I try to do on my own. But why? It suddenly occurred to me that I am not actually alone, so why do I act like I am? Jesus says, "Take heart! I have conquered the world." So, for today at least, I tried, a bit in vain, to remember, as I was fumbling through the grocery store with too many recipes and no list, that Jesus had dinner under control. He is with me in the big stuff, yes, but also in the little day to day errands as well. I like knowing I am not alone, and that when I am talking to myself in the car and looking like a crazy lady driving down the street, I am really talking to Him. And the whole vision of my day just makes me smile. So, there you go, "In this world you will have troubles. But take heart! I have overcome the world," says Jesus. Therefore, tonight - with a little help - I will turn a little piece of salmon into a little piece of chicken. And now you know the whole secret recipe.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Station Number Eight

Last year I made a giant teardrop that has all these layers and fasteners and textured fabrics because God told me to do it. Really. I am not kidding. In church one Sunday, Aaron Burt, one of our priests, asked for artists to sign up to make the different Stations of the Cross. He then explained that the works would be put on display for Good Friday. I had to fight the urge to stand up in the middle of the congregation with my hand raised high, going, " Ooh, me! Ooh, ooh, pick me!" Now, I will admit that I can be a bit of a joiner and I tend to over commit myself, but my sewing to this point had been considered by me to be a craft/ hobby. Not art. So I really had no clue why I was signing up for this and why I was so excited about it. I ended up with station #8. For the next 40 or so days I obsessed about my teardrop. I visited fabric stores, I drew up plans, I listened to music, and I prayed. At one fabric store, the women were so moved by what I was making, they gave me fabric off the bolts for free. They said they could see the Spirit working in me, and they just asked that I bring back my final product. I did. They got teary eyed. I felt humbled. The whole time I didn't feel as though what I was making was really my idea, but that I certainly had the skills to make what I was being led to make. And so, I made a teardrop because God told me to. And he was louder than usual. And I listened as best I could. Then, once my part was finished, my priest referred me to a friend and carpenter, Chris Montmeny, to make a stand to put the teardrop on. He said he'd be happy to help; he'd make a stand for my piece by Good Friday. When he showed up, he had made not just any old podium. Chris had made a beautiful art table that sits as a piece of furniture in my home today, and on Good Friday it displayed my teardrop, God's teardrop. The whole experience was truly humbling. I felt so close to God. I felt so incredibly loved. Easter Sunday arrived, the Lord had risen, and when I looked up at the Cross on that morning in church, a new vision struck me. My next station. Station #5. So, now here we are, about to start Lent. And I am about to get to work - on station #5 - because God told me to. And I have to admit, I am nervous. I pray that God talks to me again this year, but even more, I pray that I am able to listen. Amen.