Sunday, June 24, 2012

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

cardboard fun


Guess who's her favourite Avenger. It's great what you can do with cardboard.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

on temptation, and sin

Eve tempted by the serpent, by William Blake

Over the past few days, I've been grappling with the temptation to sin (I know; what an opening line, right?). Well, as anyone who's ever struggled with their conscience knows, it's easy to think of a million excuses and loopholes to make the fall that much easier. But since growing in my walk with God, it's not been as straightforward as before -- my conscience is far more tender now, and far more sensitive to God's "still, small voice".

Which of course makes sinning that much harder. I'm not talking about those thoughtless, spur-of-the-moment type sins -- like losing your temper, or being rude or impatient. I'm talking about deliberate sin -- the premeditated, calculated, cold-blooded kind. Now I'm not Catholic; I don't know which specific sins fall under "venial" (not so bad) and "mortal" (very bad). I believe, as John the apostle writes, that "all wrongdoing is sin", but I think most of us agree that certain sins are distinctly worse than others.

So, without going into too much detail, suffice to say I was struggling with the temptation to sin in that "distinctly worse" way. Every time it came to my mind, I would come up with my million and one excuses and loopholes to make giving in to it "ok", or "not that bad". But always in the back of my mind, or my gut, or my heart, would come this warning -- Don't deceive yourself. For you know how it is with sin -- every time you flirt with it, indulge it, or feed it, it grows till it consumes you and takes over your life. I've also never forgotten this quote I once read in high school: The devil is a gentleman who never goes where he is not welcome.

In walking closer with God, I've been finding it easier to be convicted, so that the moment I say, or do, or even think, something wrong, I quickly try to stop/gag/kick myself. But I think as many of us know, some sins are so very enticing, so very seductive, and we find ourselves epitomising what Jesus said in Gethsemane: "The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak".

In struggling with this temptation, I felt much as the apostle Paul might have when he wrote, "I do not understand my own actions [I am baffled, bewildered]. I do not practice or accomplish what I wish, but I do the very thing that I loathe [which my moral instinct condemns]". Or, as the NIV puts it, "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do". (Rom 7:15).

It was frustrating me no end -- I literally felt like one of those cartoon characters who has both an angel and a devil whispering into each ear. I could not escape that uncomfortable feeling in my gut that what I wanted to do was wrong, despite all my reasoning, and yet I wanted to just go ahead and do it anyway. How true it is that if you "walk and live [habitually] in the [Holy] Spirit [responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit]; then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh (of human nature without God).

"For the desires of the flesh are opposed to the [Holy] Spirit, and the [desires of the] Spirit are opposed to the flesh (godless human nature); for these are antagonistic to each other [continually withstanding and in conflict with each other]..." (Gal 5:16-17).

The whole thing was really preying on my mind -- clear evidence that even thinking on sin destroys peace -- and last night, in a fit of something like aggravation, I asked my girlfriend, "Do you ever deliberately sin? I mean, actually plan to do something which in your heart you know is wrong". The fact is, I was hoping she would give me the loophole I wanted.

But she replied, "Sometimes. But I really try not to, because I'm afraid of God". Now, I know she was coming from the standpoint of being afraid she'd get struck by lightning or something, but it does capture a little of what it comes down to, doesn't it? That reverential fear of God, which should be closely tied to our love for Him. I remembered what this lady at church tearfully said about her husband, who was having an affair -- "He does it because he does not fear God".

Isn't that why we sin? For between the time we plan the sin and actually do it, we essentially lose our fear of God. It's as if He suddenly ceases to exist in our lives, like we put Him away in a box somewhere because His commands are just too inconvenient. And yet in our times of need, we call on Him with all the fervency of people who very much believe in the existence of a sovereign, omnipotent God.

We don't actually put it that way of course, because it just sounds bad, which is why excuses and loopholes are so handy for easing our consciences. And when we find that we aren't hit by a lightning bolt right there and then... It reminds me of something Pastor Andy Stanley said in one of his sermons some time back. I don't remember the title of the sermon, but he described our regarding God as "backpack God", a sort of conveniently-sized totem that we carry around and pull out when needed. I remember Pastor Andy describing the way we'd treat God almost like a pet dog, telling Him to "Stay... stay...", while we go off on spring break or do something stupid, and then adding, "But if I need You, I'll come get You".

Well, needless to say, my little exchange with my girlfriend did not help significantly, and I went to bed frustrated -- both with my weakness and -- alas! this must be admitted -- with the fact that my plans were being frustrated. I prayed fervently that God would help me overcome this, and knew with certainty that I had to go to church the next day.

And lo and behold, what should today's sermon be? Noo, not Fear Me or die. Instead, it was Do you love Me?. It was based on verses in John 21, in which Jesus asks Simon Peter three times if he loves Him. Of course Peter says he does, as most Christians do as well, but we know Peter at least did go on to prove it. The question is perhaps most succinctly answered in John 14: "If you [really] love Me, you will keep (obey) My commands". Or, as it says in the NIV, "Whoever has My commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves Me".

As our pastor said, "We obey Jesus because we know His ways are perfect, and He can be trusted. His commands don't stem from mixed motives or insecurities. Jesus asks for our obedience because He knows that obeying Him is the best thing we can do for ourselves. It is also the only way to truly love Him". And then he showed this slide on the projector screen: "If you love Me, ________________".

"For each of us, what goes in that blank will be different," he said. "What is it for you? Give up something like a bad habit or sinful relationship? Forgive someone against whom you've been holding a deep-seated grudge? Learn to be more generous and caring? What is it for you?"

And as I looked at that blank, just one answer came up in my spirit: Don't. I knew immediately then that God was telling me, "Don't do it, don't even think on it. Trust Me, just don't". And I know, from conviction and experience, that God can be trusted, that His thoughts and plans for me are "for welfare and peace and not for evil" (Jer 29). I know too that the loopholes I come up with are ultimately deceptions; one can't think, "It's not so bad, I'm only doing this -- I'm not going all the way and doing that". For surely it is in one's secret thoughts that we give the devil a foothold.

Jesus said, "You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment'. But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, 'Raca [an Aramaic term of contempt]', is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell...

"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery'. But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matt 5:21-27). As the Greek poet Hesiod said, "He harms himself who does harm to another, and the evil plan is most harmful to the planner".

And then, at the end of the sermon, when our pastor tried to get the slide with the closing hymn on, all that appeared on the screen was a multicoloured jumble of symbols, looking for all the world like some ancient hieroglyphic code. With a laugh, he said, "Let's sing our closing hymn in Greek". When the slide continued to remain indecipherable despite all the fiddling, he finally said, "Let's sing from the hymnal then. The other pastors thought of this hymn as well, so perhaps God is telling us something".

Well, the hymn was an old Methodist one, written in 1864, called My Jesus, I love Thee. When you read the hymn's opening verse, you'll understand why I'm not grappling with that temptation anymore.

My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine;
For Thee all the follies of sin I resign.
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art Thou;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

treasury clipping

Going to the beach, by My Bookmark, maker of adorable, unusual bookmarks. The entire list is here.


Friday, June 15, 2012

loving today: book 9

The last literary Loving Today inspired by this post.
* * *

Then she smiled for the first time. "Do you give names to other things like that?"
"Sometimes," said Steerpike. "I have a disrespectful nature".
"Do you give people names?"
"I have done".
"Have you got one for me?"
Steerpike sucked the end of his swordstick and raised his straw-coloured eyebrows. "I don't think I have," he said. "I usually think of you as Lady Fuchsia".
"Do you call my mother anything?"
"Your mother? Yes".
"What do you call my mother?"
"I call her the old Bunch of Rags," said Steerpike.
Fuchsia's eyes opened wide and she stood still again. "Go away," she said.
"That's not very fair," said Steerpike. "After all, you asked me".

Wednesday, June 13, 2012



* Psst -- don't miss out on this giveaway, ending June 19th *

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


I saw this printed on some wrapping paper today, and thought I recognised it as an adaptation from Our Mutual Friend, by Charles Dickens. A lovely sentiment to live by, in any case:

Have a heart that never hardens,
a temper that never tires,
and a touch that never hurts.

Monday, June 11, 2012

treasury clipping

June Trends, by All So Cute, maker of adorable amigurumis and the sweetest home decor. The entire list is here.


* Psst -- don't miss out on this giveaway, ending June 19th *

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

* giveaway: PrintRunner business cards! *

* This giveaway is closed; thank you everyone! Congratulations to Antiquity Travelers -- please check your Etsy inbox *


Everyone needs business cards! They help you secure a connection and relationship with potential clients -- and friends! -- and help customers and friends keep in touch with you. Attractive, persuasive business cards go a long way in promoting your business and establishing your brand.

As an online printing company, PrintRunner lets customers easily and conveniently visit their website and print business cards. PrintRunner has grown over the past decade to become one of the foremost full service quality printers in Southern California.

Thanks to PrintRunner, one lucky reader stands to win 250 business cards*!

Here's how to take part in this giveaway!

Mandatory entry

Be a follower of this blog through Google Friend Connect -- just click "Join this site" on the left there and leave a comment letting me know you did :)

Extra entries
(Not mandatory, but you really up your chances! If it says 2 entries, please leave 2 comments)

1. Grab my button (it's over there on the right) for your homepage (please leave me the URL so I can check). Doing this is worth 2 entries.
2. Refer to this blog and this giveaway in a post on your own website (please leave me the URL so I can check). Doing this is worth 3 entries.
3. Like/follow PrintRunner on Facebook and Twitter. Doing this is worth an extra entry each.

* 2x3.5" (Standard), 4/4 Color both sides, 14 pt UV Coating on front paper. No rounded corners or proofs.

This giveaway is sponsored by PrintRunner. This giveaway will end on June 19th 2012 at 12pm EST. The prize will be awarded on June 30th.
* Please note that this giveaway is limited to US residents 18 years old and above only *
The winner will be chosen by The winner will be notified by email and will have 24 hours to respond, or a new winner will be selected. Please be sure your email is in your comment!
Thanks a lot and have fun!

Friday, June 1, 2012

kid cuffs

kid cuffs

I made this set of cuffs while making a custom set for a lovely lady in Portland. Made from a recycled cardboard tube, these rustic bracelets are covered inside and out with recycled paper, and protected by a million coats of varnish. Cardboard tubes can be surprisingly handy, and hardy! This is a sample sale set going at a special price :)


Each cuff measures 1.5cm wide, has an inner circumference of 4 7/8" and a diameter of 1 3/4". The colours are easy to match, suitable for girls or boys, and cheerful without being excessively kiddish. Wear them alone, or with a bunch of favourite bangles -- they're the perfect accessories for hip, eco-conscious kids! In the shop here.

treasury clipping

Let's hear it for the boys, by Gibs Goods, seller of unique vintage and handmade goodies. The entire list is here.


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