January 26, 2015

Being Noticed

Devotion for the Week...

I've always enjoyed the story of Ruth in the Bible. In the beginning of the story, her husband, brother-in-law and father-in-law have all died and her mother-in-law, Naomi, decides to return to her homeland. Naomi encourages Ruth to return to her own family in hopes of finding another husband, but Ruth chooses to stay with Naomi. When they arrive in Bethlehem, Ruth and Naomi have nothing. They have no man to provide for them, and very little resources to provide for themselves. So what does Ruth do? Many of us would be tempted to feel sorry for ourselves at this point, or to sit around waiting for someone else to fix the problem. Not Ruth. Rather than worrying or regretting that she chose to come with Naomi, Ruth gets right to work.

God had commanded the Isrealites, "When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner" (Leviticus 19:9, 10). Naomi and Ruth arrived in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning, so Ruth headed out immediately and started gleaning, picking up any bits of barley left behind by the harvesters. By doing so, she hoped to get enough grain to feed herself and her mother-in-law.

As a foreign woman, Ruth probably stood out among those who were working the field, and she was noticed by Boaz, the owner of the field, when he came to see how the harvest was going. "Boaz asked the overseer of his harvesters, 'Who does that young woman belong to?'"(Ruth 2:5). The overseer not only knew who Boaz meant, but he knew what Ruth had been doing all day. "She is the Moabite who came back from Moab with Naomi. She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves behind the harvesters.’ She came into the field and has remained here from morning till now, except for a short rest in the shelter.” (vv. 6,7) The overseer had noticed that Ruth was working hard, spending hours in the field with only a short break and, since he mentioned it to Boaz, I take it he was impressed by her work ethic.

But Ruth wasn't trying to be noticed. She didn't leave Moab with Naomi to be noticed. She did what she thought was right. She wasn't gleaning in the field in an attempt to be noticed. She just did what needed to be done to get food for their table. She probably didn't think she was doing anything special, or doing anything that others wouldn't also be doing if they were in her place.

The fact of the matter is, we are all being noticed by someone. It is human nature to watch the people around us, to see how they go about their daily lives. A couple of years ago I started babysitting a little boy from a family I hadn't met before I started babysitting him. One day I went to the grocery store and the cashier told me the boy's grandmother had asked her if she knew me, because the grandmother didn't know me and wondered what sort of person I was. I had never before thought about my grocery shopping as being something that people would observe, but it is. Because we live in a small town, this cashier has been seeing me for years, popping into the store with my own boys or some of the other kids I've looked after, chatting with her, keeping the kids from demolishing the store displays and that sort of thing. She could assure this grandmother that the kids in my care are happy with me and that, in her words, "you have no worries with Leanne." That report brightened my day, but I wasn't doing anything while in the store to try to be noticed as a competent caregiver. I was just doing my usual thing.

All of which begs one simple question: for what are you noticed? Jesus told His followers, "You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:14-16). 

Whenever I have heard or read this verse I have heard 'good deeds' and imagined it meaning those things we do specifically to be nice to others, but the word translated as 'deeds', ergon, actually means "anything done or to be done; a deed, work, action."

Maybe Jesus wasn't only referring to special kindnesses, but to all the good things we do in the run of our daily lives. All the things that get noticed by others and make them see us in a positive light will bring glory to God. All the things that get noticed in a negative way will not.

So, as we go about our daily lives, just doing what needs to be done, how do people see us? I'm not suggesting we should put on an act when we're out in public, trying to fool people into thinking we're something we're not. But rather, do our actions and our attitude line up with what we say we believe? Are we exhibiting the fruit of the spirit? "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control" (Galatians 5:22,23). Are we noticed for those things?

And if we aren't being noticed for these things, is that a problem?

January 21, 2015

Wedding Quilt Top Finished!!

In what has to be a record for me, I have the Irish Chain wedding quilt top finished!
Rather than adding a plain border, I extended the pattern into the border by 1/3 of a block on all sides. I like how it changes the look of the quilt.

Here is a close-up of one nine-patch block. I love the multicoloured print from Northcott. It looks like feathers swirling around!
In the interest of moving right along, I have the quilt basted together and I started quilting it last night, but my machine was giving me fits. The thread kept breaking and I couldn't figure out why. I'm using the Connecting Threads 100% polyester cone thread, but I've used that enough now that I was pretty sure it wasn't an issue with the thread itself.

I changed the needle, cleaned the lint out of my machine (which it desperately needed!), even wound a new bobbin, but nothing worked. Then I took some scrap fabric and batting, adjusted the tension and tried that (even though I've always done fmq at the same tension).

It worked perfectly.
Because if you're going to be troubleshooting, it might as well be pretty!
 So I put the scraps aside and tried the quilt again. As I was getting the quilt into position, I heard it bump the cone of thread, which I had set up directly behind my machine, and I had a little lightbulb moment...The part of the quilt that was behind the machine was pressed up against the thread, which then couldn't feed off the cone properly, which created too much tension and snapped the thread! All the other projects I've done with this thread have been smaller (as was the scrap I used for troubleshooting), so I haven't run into this problem before. I moved the thread cone to the side of my machine and I had no more problems.

So, whether it was the tension or the quilt pressed against the thread, hopefully when I start quilting again tonight things will go more smoothly and I can get more done than I did last night!

January 19, 2015

Getting it Right

Devotion for the Week...

Back sometime last year I started getting up early to spend a little time reading my Bible before the craziness of the day set in. I had been trying to squeeze Bible reading in after the boys were tucked into bed, but usually found I didn't actually do it because there were other things I chose to do instead (quilting, usually!). Getting up early keeps me on track because the only reason I'm up at that hour is to read my Bible, and that's all I will allow myself to do.

After only a couple of mornings, I noticed that there were often verses that interested me, that I wanted to think about more, or that I thought would be a good starting point for a devotion here, but after I closed my Bible I'd forget the verse. So I started keeping a sheet of paper tucked into my Bible and I make sure I have my favourite pen when I sit down to start reading. Then I can simply copy out whatever verse has captured my attention and I know I won't forget about it.

When I took the pages out of my Bible last week, I scanned through the first one and this verse caught my eye:

"‘How can you say, “We are wise,
    for we have the law of the Lord,”
when actually the lying pen of the scribes
    has handled it falsely?" (Jeremiah 8:8)

This is God speaking through Jeremiah to the people of Jerusalem who have turned away from Him to worship false gods.  God was angry with the priests and the prophets of that time who did not teach the people as they should have, but instead said what the people wanted to hear, and what would make them popular and well-paid.

Right away there were two things that stood out to me that we can apply to our lives today.

First, if you teach others about God, are you handling His Word properly? You may not be a pastor, a small group leader or a children's church teacher, but you are likely still teaching others about God. Do you talk to your children or grandchildren about how much God loves them and how He wants them to live? Do you chat with a friend over tea or coffee about the state of the world we live in and how it's a sign that the end times are near? Whatever the case may be, are you certain that you are presenting the Word of God in the proper context, so that you are not misrepresenting God? In 2 Timothy 2:15, Paul urges Timothy, "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth."

Being sure that you are correctly handling God's word requires that you study it. Read whole books, rather than only ever reading snippets here and there. On the other hand, read everything the Bible has to say about topics that interest you, using a concordance or an online search to help you find the relevant verses. But then read the context of those verses, to be sure you understand what is being said. If you're not sure you understand, read the verses in a different translation, or read a paraphrase. I really enjoy Eugene Peterson's The Message, which is the Bible in regular, everyday language. 

The second thing I thought was, are the people who teach us handling the Word of God properly? We all have people who teach us, whether it's our pastors, the authors of the books we read or friends who share their thoughts with us. Are they presenting God as they should be? Would you know if they weren't? The only way to know, of course, is to read the Bible for yourself.

 Do you sense a theme here? 

The people of Jeremiah's day were completely off track because they followed teachers who got it wrong. God was angry with the teachers, but that didn't give the people an out. They still faced punishment for the evil they had done. They still paid the price for their wrong, even though they were led astray by their leaders.

Only by knowing what the Bible says for yourself can you be sure that the things you are teaching and the things you are following are accurate.

January 16, 2015

Friday Finish - Round Trip Quilts

I'm finished with my part of Heather's quilt for this round of Round Trip Quilts. Those purple flowers look much better now that they have some stitching!

When I shared a progress shot on Instagram, Heather commented that she doesn't have the patience for applique, which struck me as very funny considering what word is in this section of the quilt!

Here is what all the sections look like together. Heather is planning to make this into a twin size quilt, so there's still lots of work to go. I can't wait to see what everyone else adds.

Christine, of Wips and Tuts, has finished her beautiful addition to my quilt too. You can see it here. We are now halfway through this round robin project, and all the quilts are looking amazing. Click here to visit the page on Jennifer's blog with the links to see all the quilts.

 Have you seen Craftsy's free BOM class for 2015? I love Jinny Beyer's books Quiltmaking by Hand and The Quilter's Album of Patchwork Patterns. Jinny's quilts are gorgeous, so I'm really looking forward to all the tips she'll share over the course of this year. Are you signed up for the BOM?

And, in other Craftsy news, they're having a sale this weekend!

Shop Craftsy's Flash Sale - Up to 50% Off!
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Art & Photo Classes - Craftsy's New Year, New You Flash Sale

 I bought the fabrics for the Irish Chain wedding quilt last night and I'm hoping to start cutting out pieces this evening. The clock is ticking on this project!

Have a great weekend!

January 14, 2015

Finish-a-Long 2015 - Quarter 1

I'm finally getting around to writing up my list for this quarter. The Finish-a-Long changes hosts at the beginning of each year, so it has now moved to On the Windy Side, with Adrianne. Do you join in with the Finish-a-Long? I find it's a great way to keep track of the things I hope to finish, but I'm always thankful there are no punishments for not finishing stuff :) I like to dream big, and then I usually get distracted by new projects.

So, these are the projects I hope to finish this quarter...

1. Eli's baby quilt. It's basted and I started quilting it last night. Hopefully it will be done before the end of the week.
2. A wedding quilt for Paul's nephew, Jordan, and his bride-to-be, Karen. I'm planning a throw size Irish chain quilt, which is a pattern I've always loved but never made. There is a rather tight timeline for this one...the wedding is February 7th and I haven't started yet. Uh, yeah...I have a feeling I'll be gifting a partially finished quilt and then bringing it home with me again. Really, I'm hoping to have the quilt top finished by the wedding date and anything beyond that is gravy. Then I'll finish the rest of the work as quickly as I can and get it to them.

3.  My Craft it Forward #2. This one is about half finished. I just need to get the rest done and get it mailed!

4. My Craft it Forward #3. Haven't even started this one yet...it will soon be a year since I received my gift, so this needs to be crossed off my list.

I'm stopping myself there. I have one secret sewing project that has to be finished this quarter, but I won't be able to share it until May and with the wedding quilt in there I think 4 items is plenty ambitious enough.

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