Monday, 14 April 2014

Working or Just Dreaming?

I joined instagram a few days ago (I'm @devotedquilter). I am amused by how quickly I began to feel the pull to check my instagram feed often to see what people have posted. It's fun to get little snippets of their lives, especially snippets of what they're stitching. The list of blogs I follow has been growing too, so I spend time every day checking in to see what's new on my bloglovin feed.

I want to be working on my own quilty projects, though, so I have to be careful how much time I spend looking at others' creations. I only have so much "me" time, after all. If I spend it all sitting with my laptop or my phone I won't get much stitched together myself.

Surprisingly, the Bible even talks about that. "He who works his land will have abundant food, but the one who chases fantasies will have his fill of poverty" (Proverbs 28:19). I'm not working my land to grow my own food. I'm not even selling my quilts to buy groceries, but the principle stays the same. If I don't work, I won't have any results.

This may seem very basic. It may seem like it doesn't warrant much of our time, but the book of Proverbs puts a strong emphasis on the importance of work. We read in Proverbs 10:4: "Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth" and in chapter 13, verse 4: "The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied." Chapter 20:4 says, "A sluggard does not plow in season, so at harvest time he looks but finds nothing."

We all have many different types of work we do. When I'm sewing, I say I'm working on a particular quilt, but there's really no part of it that feels like work. It's fun and I love to do it. Then there are other types of work that most certainly feel like work. Housecleaning? That's work. I don't want to do it, but it needs to get done at least some of the time. Whether it is the fun of working towards a quilting goal, or the necessary work that is required to earn a paycheck or keep the house and family in running order, if we don't do it we won't reap the benefit.

Thinking about making a quilt will not produce something I can snuggle under with a good book. Looking at instagram or blogs and dreaming about how I would make a particular quilt in my favourite colours won't either. While it doesn't much matter in the end whether or not I make another quilt, I don't want to spend all my time just dreaming about quilting. I want to dream and plan, yes, but I also want to actually quilt!

The same holds true for my writing. I spent years dreaming about writing, dreaming about finishing a book and getting it published, but doing little or no writing. It didn't get me very far. Now I am writing at least once a week and even when I'm not sitting and typing a devotion, I'm thinking about it, crafting parts of it in my mind as I do other things. Working on my writing has given me better results than just dreaming about it!

As for the housework...well, it won't do itself. My husband does a lot around the house, but there are some tasks that are mine and it's very noticeable when I neglect them. Thinking about how much we need clean laundry is not nearly as effective as putting clothes in the washer, then the dryer and then folding them so they can be put away.

Do you have work you want or need to do, but you find yourself spending more time thinking about it than actually doing it? Let this be your gentle reminder that getting to work will produce abundance, while just dreaming leads to nothing.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Joining Rows

Since I last posted about this,I have spent a lot of time working on my hexie flower quilt. It has reached the point where I feel like it's almost finished, so now I want to work on it even more to see it finished. Do you find you're more excited to work on a project as you near the end? Of course, I'm only nearing the end of the quilt top, not the actual finished quilt, but a finished top is something to celebrate too.

Here are all 56 flowers joined into their 7 rows.
 But wait...it gets even better!

I've started joining those rows to each other. So far I have combined four rows into two wide rows.

I am so glad I chose to use two different blues for the background, and that I stitched them randomly rather than trying to create a pattern.
I love the interest it adds to the background, without making it so busy that it takes away from the flowers.

On a totally different note, I have joined Instagram. I am @devotedquilter, if you'd like to follow me there.

And on another completely different note, Craftsy is having a flash sale this weekend, with great prices on some of their classes. I noticed that Angela Walters' Dot to Dot Quilting and Free-Motion Quilting with Feathers are both included in this sale. I have watched both classes and learned a lot from them. I love Angela's teaching style and her fmq is amazing.

I hope you're having a great weekend! I'll be linking to some of these places.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Finish-a-Long List for Quarter 2

Can you believe a quarter of the year is gone already? At least we have some quilty finishes to show for it, thanks to the motivation provided by the Finish-a-Long! So here I am, planning out what projects I want to finish for this quarter.

1. Scrappy Log Cabin. I know. It was one of my priorities last quarter, but it's still unfinished. I did work on it though, and now I'm extra determined to get it off my list!
2. This pinwheel project I started last week. I'm ready to start quilting it, once I get some backing fabric. I want to share a series of projects on this blog, but I need pattern testers before I can do that. If you're interested in testing patterns for me, I'd love to hear from you. Just tell me in a comment or email me at piecefullydevoted at gmail dot com.
 




3. My Hands 2 Help Charity Challenge quilt. I have a center portion made using this heavy equipment fabric and I plan to border it with disappearing 4 patch blocks. I've started cutting for those, but that's as far as I've made it so far. Are you making a quilt for this year's challenge? What a great way to help someone and participate in a quilting 'party' too!





  
4. I have offered to test a pattern for Leanne of She Can Quilt, so as soon as I get the pattern, I'll be starting in on that.

That's it for me this quarter. As always, I have a couple of other projects on the go, but they're not far enough along to even think I could finish them in the next three months. Eventually they'll find their way onto the list for another quarter. My snowman runner that was on the list last quarter isn't finished, but let's be honest...I really don't want to look at snowmen now, when the snow is finally starting to melt. They'll reappear on my list in the fall.

How about you? Is your goal list written and linked up with Katy at The Littlest Thistle? You have until the 14th to get in on the fun.

Monday, 7 April 2014

A Stenographer?

Have you ever heard of Biddy Chambers? Probably not. She's not exactly a famous woman, even in Christian circles, but her work has had an incredible influence on millions of people trying to live the way God wants us to live.

Biddy was a stenographer. That's not an occupation most of us would associate with inspiring people to live more godly lives, and yet it was her stenography skills that God used. A stenographer writes in shorthand, keeping notes while someone else talks. You might picture the stereotype of a secretary taking notes while her employer dictated a letter. Biddy wasn't taking notes for her employer though, she was transcribing her husband's sermons as he preached. Her husband was Oswald Chambers, whose books have sold millions of copies. The funny thing is, Oswald Chambers died without having written most of the books now published under his name. The work contained in the books is his, but he wasn't the one who set it to paper. That was Biddy's work. She took her shorthand notes and then, after his death, compiled them first into pamphlets and then eventually into books. My Utmost for His Highest, Chambers' most famous book, was published from Biddy's notes 10 years after his death and has never been out of print since.

Many of us feel we don't have much to offer in terms of serving God. We think of pastors, musicians and authors and we can see how their skills can be used to bring people to God, or to help Christians live the way God intends for us to live. But we tend to think along the lines of, "But I'm just a _________. God doesn't need me."

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

If Biddy Chambers had not used her stenography to serve her God, the world would be missing out on the books she helped to produce. Oswald was a preacher, a much more obvious occupation for God to use, but without Biddy's efforts, most people would never have learned from Oswald's insight and teaching. His words certainly wouldn't be on my bookshelf, and maybe even yours, without her work.

For a couple of years now I have been drawn to chapter 12 of 1 Corinthians. I feel like it is the message God wants me to share with those who believe in Him. This chapter isn't meant for evangelism, for telling people about Jesus and bringing them to repentance. This chapter is meant for believers, for those who already know Jesus and want to serve Him. God wants us to fully understand that He has given us the talents and abilities we need to serve Him. We aren't good at the same things, and that's by His design. He doesn't want us all doing the same work. If we all try to do one job then the other jobs won't get done.

In 1 Corinthians 12: 4-6, Paul writes, "There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men." God doesn't only need pastors. He doesn't only need writers. He needs teachers and nurses and doctors and store clerks and bank tellers and secretaries. What we need to do is take an honest look at ourselves. Not a humble look, which says, "Well, I can do ________, but so-and-so does it much better,"  but rather an honest look at talents that may seem unlikely to be useful to God. Then we need to offer those talents in service to Him in whatever ways He sees fit.

We may be surprised by what He can do with what we consider unlikely skills.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Happy Birthday Finish

I have finished the Happy Birthday banner quilt! Actually, I finished it a few weeks ago, but kept it in reserve in case I didn't meet my own goal of having my And Sew On quilt finished for when I hosted TGIFF last week. I wanted to have a finish for my own finish linky party, after all! But And Sew On was finished in time for the party, so today Happy Birthday get its moment to shine.
This was such a fun quilt to put together. I used EQ7 to design it, learning how to write on a quilt in the process. The piecing and applique are both very simple, but I was worried about stitching around the letters because they're a little thin. I shouldn't have worried though, they're just thick enough to make it easy to go around them with a small zig zig stitch.
 I love how the quilting shows up on the solid sheet I used for the back.

I used grey thread for a tight stipple in the center of the quilt, which really highlighted the letters. Then a red thread for a wishbone design in the red border, followed by blue thread for a meandering star in the blue border. Of course, the design in the friendship stars is my favourite part of the whole quilt!
This picture was taken before I put on the binding.
This is my last eligible finish for the FAL this quarter. I guess three out of the five on my list isn't too bad a showing.

I have written the pattern for this quilt, which will soon be in my Craftsy Pattern Store. My pattern tester, Annette, was doing a great job with her version...
...until she ran into a problem.
Those border pieces are too small, and no, it wasn't her mistake. This is why pattern testers are so important! I had written for the pieces to be cut 1/2" narrower than they needed to be, which obviously doesn't work. Rest assured, the mistake has been fixed, so the pattern that will be available in my store has the correct measurements.

Amanda Jean is back from her blogging hiatus, so I'll be linking with Finish it up Friday, TGIFF, Can I Get a Whoop Whoop? and with

Make It and Love It

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

WIP Wednesday - Pinwheels

This little pile of trimmings...
came from making four of these. Trimming HSTs isn't much fun, but it sure makes a difference to the finished block.
Pinwheels have always been one of my favourite blocks. I love all the many variations too, but I haven't made many of those. I recently discovered the disappearing pinwheel block, so I may have to give that a try sometime soon.

These stacks of units are also destined to become pinwheels and join the first four in a simple little project.
I have a series in mind to start here on the blog, so I don't want to share many details. I will, however, be needing pattern testers. If you're interested leave me a comment or email me at piecefullydevoted at gmail dot com.

I'm also working on writing the pattern for Spring Dreams, which works well as either a mini quilt or as  garden flag. If you are interested in testing Spring Dreams, just let me know.
 
If you haven't yet entered my giveaway for a free Craftsy class, go here to do so. Craftsy has so many great classes, and they keep adding more. Most of my free motion skills have come from watching their classes. If you've already entered the giveaway, good luck!

I link to these places.

Monday, 31 March 2014

Our Toddler Nature

Devotion for the Week...

Aiden will be 12 in May, so over the last almost 12 years I have spent a lot of time with small children. There have been my own three boys, of course, but also the kids belonging to my friends and the kids I babysit. While the kids have all had their own distinct personalities, there have been some obvious similarities.

1. They all throw fits when they can't have something. Have you ever taken something from a child because they're not allowed to have it? Their little fingers grip so tight you have to pry them off the item in question, and once you take it away they howl as if you actually cut off their fingers.

2. They all take what they want, when they want it. Their sibling has a truck they want? No problem. They'll just snatch it and start playing with it. How many times as parents (or babysitters) do we take a toy from the snatcher and hand it back to the child who had it first?

3. They all head straight for the things they know they're not allowed to have. Whether it's an electrical cord, an older sibling's ipod or a kitchen cupboard, they want nothing more than what has been forbidden. As soon as they think the adult in the room is distracted they make a beeline for it. You can tell they know it's wrong by how they react when they see you coming. They either drop it and try to look innocent or they grab on tighter as if daring you to take it away (see point #1).

4. They all push limits, testing how far they're allowed to go before they actually get into trouble. If you say 'no' to something, but then allow them to do it with no consequences, you can be sure they'll do it again, and they'll push a little farther next time.

5. They all hate to clean up their messes. Spreading toys and books all over the floor is fun. Picking up those same things to put them away is awful, capable of inducing whining, complaining and crying.

Gradually, with plenty of work on the parent's part, these traits are replaced by things like self-control, sharing, patience and responsibility. I find it interesting, though, that toddlers reveal our true nature as humans. As adults, we like to believe that we are good people and, for the most part, we are good people. But we're still people who have the nature of those toddlers, even if we have been trained to behave in a more civilized manner.

The Bible says, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23), and looking at toddlers we see that this is true. No matter how sweet a child may be, there are always times when selfishness or disobedience shows up. A child has to be taught to share, to follow rules, to consider how their actions affect others.

Even when we are grown, there are times when those less-than-desirable traits show up. Maybe we get angry with God because we aren't getting what we pray for or maybe we're pushing the limits, testing how far we can go before God disciplines us, or avoiding an apology we know we need to make to clean up the mess we made with our words or actions. Whatever the case may be, if we are honest with ourselves, we have to admit that our inner toddler is not completely grown up.

I love the book of Romans. It's a tough book to understand, but there is so much food for thought in there that the effort is worth it. We might be tempted to think the apostle Paul had it all together, that he was perfect in his thoughts, words and actions. After all, he wrote a big chunk of the New Testament and God uses his writing to help us learn how to live a godly life. But Paul struggled too. "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do" (Romans 7:15). Can you relate? I know I can.

Though we work hard to live godly lives, there is no doubt that we are working against what our human nature wants. Our human nature is like a toddler - selfish, demanding, wanting to explore as far into the forbidden as possible. In short, sinful and in need of Jesus.
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