September 15, 2014

Standing Out

Devotion for the Week...

I spent the weekend at a Women's Ministries retreat with my mother-in-law and sisters-in-law. It's always a great weekend and I look forward to it all year long, both for the chance to get away and for the biblical teaching.

As in any church service, there were times we were asked to stand for a song and then after that song the worship leader or the retreat leader spoke for a moment before the next song. Invariably, while she was speaking, some people would sit down and then those around them would sit and it would spread until everyone was sitting. Sometimes the women in the very front wouldn't notice right away that everyone behind them was sitting, but then one woman would see out of the corner of her eye that they were the only ones left standing and she'd quickly sit, followed by everyone else in her row. Have you seen that happen in your church? I know I've seen it many times.We don't like to call attention to ourselves, or to stand out as doing something different from everyone else, do we?

In 1951, Solomon Asch conducted the first of what are known as his conformity experiments. During this experiment he worked with eight male college students at a time. They were asked to match a line on one card with the line of equal length on another card. Seven of the participants had been told how to respond, while the eighth was unaware of their prior instructions. For the first two sets of cards, the group gave the correct answer, but for the remaining twelve sets, the group gave the incorrect answer.  Asch's experiments were designed to test how the one participant without prior instructions would respond. Would he give the correct answer, or would he go along with the group and give an answer that was obviously wrong? Overall, 75% of the participants went with the group on at least one of the incorrect responses.

This tendency to want to conform to the group has many social ramifications, of course. It also has ramifications for those of us who are followers of Jesus. In his letter to the Romans, Paul wrote, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Romans 12:2). I love how Eugene Peterson paraphrases it in the Message: "Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out."

As disciples of Jesus, we're supposed to stand out from those around us. We're supposed to be different. We are supposed to act like Jesus did. We should be the most compassionate, the most gracious, the most loving and the most forgiving people in the community, just as He was.

If your co-workers didn't know about your church attendance, would they know you are Christian because you act differently? What about your children? Can they see a difference in your behavior compared to that of other adults? I'm not talking only about when you are dealing with your children, but also when you are dealing with frustrating or annoying situations. Do you respond with grace and patience or with irritation and judgement? After all, "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control" (Galatians 5:22, 23). Our culture doesn't always champion those qualities, which is precisely why we are told not to "conform to the pattern of this world."

It is easy to be well-adjusted to our culture. It's much harder to stand out and be different. And yet that is one way we can "let [our] light shine before others, that they may see [our] good deeds and glorify [our] Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:16).

September 10, 2014

Three WIPs

For the first couple of months of this school year I'm only babysitting half-days, so I have the other half of the day to myself. That means extra sewing time! And cleaning, but that's not interesting so I won't make you read about that :)

I've been working on these pretty pinwheels for another set of my Spin placemats. You can find the pattern in my Craftsy pattern store.
I find my pinwheels lay more flat if I press some of the seams open. I still press the HST seams to one side, but then the seams to join them together I press open. And despite my admission that I iron, not press, with these seams I do find I have to be careful to press or I distort the other seams.
A couple of days ago, I finished the embroidery on my Psalm 19 piece, then I added a few  flowers and embroidered around them. This mini is now ready to be basted and quilted. I think I'll only quilt around the edge of the yellow and the purple. I don't want any quilting to compete with the embroidery.
 I'm really pleased with how this has turned out. I especially love the embroidery on the flowers.
And on Monday I received the quilt starting block made by Jennifer, of Never Just Jennifer, for the Round Trip Quilts. Isn't it beautiful?
So now I have a couple of weeks to add my contribution before sending it off to the next stop. Jennifer's theme is New Hampshire Beauty, so she wants us to add things that represent her favourite things about her home state. I've been playing around with some ideas, but I'm not quite ready to start cutting fabric yet.

What are you working on this week?

I'll be linking up with WIP Wednesday, Let's Bee Social, NTT and I Quilt.

September 09, 2014

Craftsy Class Sale!

Hey everyone! I'm just popping in this evening to share this Craftsy sale with you. This sale is only available through those of us who are Craftsy affiliates.

Up to 50% Off On Sewing, Quilting & Knitting Classes
(sponsored post)

Best-selling Craftsy classes are on sale for one week only! Save up to 50% off on Sewing, Quilting & Knitting classes taught by some of the world's best instructors. Once you purchase a class, it's yours to enjoy forever. Every class comes with a money-back satisfaction guarantee! 

There are some great classes on offer, so have fun picking what you want to learn next!

September 08, 2014

God and the Queen of England

Devotion for the Week...

Some people view God the way I view Queen Elizabeth II of England. I believe she exists. If I were to read the facts of her life (birth, schooling, marriage, children, etc) I would believe them too. I don't understand the fascination some people have for following every detail of her life, and those of her family, though I generally will read an article about them if it appears in a magazine I am reading.

Likewise, there are many who believe that God exists. They believe that Jesus lived and died as described in the Bible. They really don't understand people who focus their lives on living the way God wants, but they will sometimes read stories about missionaries or others who have devoted themselves to serving others in the name of God.

There is a big difference, though, between my relationship with the Queen and my relationship with God. Simply stated, I don't have a relationship with the Queen. She knows Canadians exist, she even knows people live in the province called Newfoundland and Labrador. She may have once heard the name of my small town, but she certainly doesn't know my name. She doesn't know that I'm a quilter, or that I write this blog or that I have a husband and three boys. A lot of people think that's the extent of their relationship with God - they believe He knows there are humans living on the earth, but He doesn't have any particular interest in one specific person.

Thankfully, that's not the case at all. Consider the beginning of Psalm 139:

 You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me. 
 You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar. 
 You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways. 
 Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely. 
 You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain" (Psalm 139:1-6).

That sounds like a very intimate interest. In fact, it sounds as if God knows me better than I know myself. I love that the psalmist wrote that God is "familiar with all my ways." It's like He has studied my habits, my preferences and my way of doing things. My husband is familiar with my ways, but the Queen of England certainly isn't! Even more intimately than my husband, my God knows my ways. He knows what I will say next, or how I will respond when someone hurts my feelings. He knows even before I know. And not only does God know me that well, He loves me!

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).

 "We love because he first loved us" (1 John 4:19).

"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38,39).

God knows and loves each one of us individually. He is not a distant figure, someone we can read about or see on television but never really know. Jesus said, "I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep" (John 10:14,15). He also told His disciples, "I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you"(John 15:15).

Queen Elizabeth has no interest in a relationship with me. She does not count me among her friends, and she would not take my call were I to try to reach her this evening. There's nothing wrong with that, of course, the Queen and I live in different countries, different circumstances and we are of different generations. God, on the other hand, has called me a friend. What is more, He has adopted me into his family. "See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God"(1 John 3:1). Don't you love that image? God has lavished His great love on us. How abundant and freely given that love is! God, the creator of the universe, is always ready to listen when we pray and Jesus made us this promise: "Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age" (Matthew 28:20). I am so glad my God is interested in me and wants a relationship with me!

What is your relationship with God? Do you relate to Him as you do to the Queen, meaning you believe that He exists, but you have no actual relationship with Him, or do you have an intimate friendship with Him? If you do not have a relationship with Him, what is holding you back?

September 05, 2014

My New (very old) Toy

On Tuesday, as I was getting ready to go out the door, my husband asked me "Would you want this?" while looking at something on his phone. 'This' turned out to be absolutely gorgeous, and yes, I most certainly wanted it! We brought her home on Wednesday.

Isn't she gorgeous? She's a Singer 127-3 treadle, made in Elizabeth, NJ in 1923, which makes her 91 years old. She looks fabulous for her age, don't you think? I love that Wikipedia says she was "built before the advent of planned obsolescence, and so they were designed to be repaired rather than replaced." These machines just feel so solid, almost like they're indestructible.

She needs a couple of replacement parts, but hopefully I can soon try her out. The lady we bought her from had her for 25 years and used to sew on her years ago.
 She also needs a good cleaning. I'm a little nervous about that part. What is safe to use that won't harm the decals? This is all new to me and I don't want to do any damage to her.

My Kenmore sewing machine doesn't seem to have a gender, or to require a name. This beauty, however, has been 'she' and 'her' since the moment I laid eyes on her and now I'm wondering what to call her. The decals are the Sphinx or Memphis/Egyptian ones, so I think her name should reflect that, but I haven't come up with anything suitable yet. Any suggestions?

Also, if you know of any good sites for information on cleaning/maintaining her, (or how to actually use her!) please let me know. For now, I'm enjoying being able to admire her!
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