November 23, 2015


Devotion for the Week...

We listen to mostly Christian music in our house. We love Third Day, Casting Crowns, Francesca Batistelli, Christy Knockels, Mercy Me and more. Looking back, the switch to mostly Christian music wasn't a conscious decision. It was simply a matter of finding more and more Christian music that we genuinely enjoyed, that expressed what we believe and is honestly just good music. I know very little about current music outside of the Christian genre, which sometimes makes me feel like I'm weird, like somehow I'm missing an important part of the culture, but mostly it doesn't bother me.

Now, before I go any farther, let me say that I'm not trying to say that Christian music is the only music any Christian should be listening to. Nor am I passing judgement on those who listen to other music. This is just our choice right now. I'm finding there are some benefits to it, and I wanted to share those today, but, please, if you listen to other music, don't feel like I'm trying to tell you you're wrong! Okay, we now return to our regularly scheduled devotion... :)

Nathan seems to pay more attention to the lyrics of the music than anyone else in the house. Lots of times he's playing with his Lego, or drawing at the table and suddenly he'll say, "What does he mean, 'He that is living in me is greater than he that is living in the world?" We've had some interesting conversations about God in the last year as he has tried to understand the lyrics. It's been especially fun when he's confused because he's mishearing the words!

In Deuteronomy, Moses tells the people of Israel, "These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates" (Deuteronomy 6: 6-9). Now, to be honest, I've always thought that people who followed these directions would be trying to force every conversation to come around to God, trying to relate everything to God's commands. I thought it wouldn't feel like natural conversation. But really, this just means that these things are to be part of our everyday conversations, not limited to when we're inside the church building. Listening to Christian music helps to naturally start those conversations with Nathan because he's interested in what the lyrics say and he wants me to explain it to him.

As for me, I find that a lot of the time the music is just in the background and I'm reading, or making supper, or playing games or whatever and not consciously paying attention to what I'm hearing. It sticks in my head though, even if I'm not paying attention. I'll play Bart Millard's CD Hymned Again while I make supper one evening and then the next morning in the shower I find "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" running through my head.

Sometimes, too, when I haven't been paying attention to the music, I'll catch a line like "Even what the enemy means for evil, you turn it for our good, you turn it for our good, and for your glory" from Aaron Keyes' "Sovereign Over Us". What a great line! And what a great thought to have catch my attention. Philippians 4:8 says, "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." Listening to music that focuses on God is one way to keep those things front and center in my mind, and the minds of the whole family.

There are a lot of influences in the world, trying to take our attention away from God. I love using Christian music to keep my attention where it should be.

Do you listen to Christian music? If you do, who are your favourite artists? I'm always up for listening to someone new!


November 19, 2015

Flower Box Mini Top

I have the Flower Box blocks put together into a 24" mini quilt top. I love how those corners come together in the center. I think this design would look great made into a larger quilt too, but I only had enough white lying around for four blocks!

I also love how the stitching looks on all of the flowers, but especially on the yellow one. The simple black outlining really helps those yellow petals stand out from the white.
I have the quilt basted together now and I'm hoping to get started on the quilting later this evening. I'm still trying to decide what to quilt in the white...either a tight stipple or a combination of swirls and pebbles. What do you think?

November 17, 2015

Flower Box Blocks

I've been working on the blocks for my Flower Box mini quilt. I'm making a 24" wall size, so I need four blocks. I decided to go with a variety of black fabrics for the corners and the flower centers. The flower petals are all made from a pack of batiks my sister-in-law gave me for Christmas last year.

I really like how the bright batiks pop against the white background and the black corners.

Last night I started stitching around the flowers. I had been debating how I would stitch around them for a while. On the cushion I made for Make Modern, I did a machine blanket stitch around the applique shapes, but I wanted something different this time.
On Instagram I have really been admiring the work of @Mrs_Moog. She does a lot of free machine embroidery using black thread and I love the simplicity of it, so that's what I decided to go with for this quilt. So far I have one of the four flowers stitched.
As a bonus, using my free motion foot to stitch around the flowers is much faster than doing a blanket stitch!
I have a light week for babysitting this week since one of the boys is out of town for four days and the second will also be out of town one of those days. Extra stitching time means I hope to be quilting this before the week is out! Here's hoping you have a productive week too :)

November 16, 2015

What is Needed

Devotion for the Week...

I love reading down through the comments stream on pictures on Instagram when there's a discussion going on. Yesterday a woman posted a picture along with a caption that said she was working on some Christmas things to distract her from the unpleasantness of living with teenagers. "How dare I ask her to empty the dishwasher?" she asked. What followed was commiseration from those who are also raising teenagers with attitude to spare, along with suggestions for how to make those teenagers more willing to pitch in and do what needs to be done. It was interesting to read, partly because Aiden is 13 (but not yet full of attitude) so we're just beginning our voyage through the teenage years, but mostly because those suggestions are so different from the things I do with the toddlers I babysit, who can't yet grasp the concept of getting their beloved technology back once the chores are finished.

I read this passage of Isaiah with Aiden and Zachary the other night before they went to bed. Though at first glance it doesn't seem at all related, this is what came to mind as I read the Instagram suggestions for dealing with teenagers.

Listen and hear my voice;
    pay attention and hear what I say.
When a farmer plows for planting, does he plow continually?
    Does he keep on breaking up and working the soil?
When he has leveled the surface,
    does he not sow caraway and scatter cumin?
Does he not plant wheat in its place,
    barley in its plot,
    and spelt in its field?
His God instructs him
    and teaches him the right way.
Caraway is not threshed with a sledge,
    nor is the wheel of a cart rolled over cumin;
caraway is beaten out with a rod,
    and cumin with a stick.
Grain must be ground to make bread;
    so one does not go on threshing it forever.
The wheels of a threshing cart may be rolled over it,
    but one does not use horses to grind grain.
All this also comes from the Lord Almighty,
    whose plan is wonderful,
    whose wisdom is magnificent.
                                             Isaiah 28:23-29.

I confess that when I first read this, I didn't see it as having any connection to raising teenagers, or to anything remotely connected to my life. I also confess I had no idea what it meant, especially since it seemed out of place coming as it does in the midst of Isaiah's prophecies of destruction. So, I headed online to see what the commentaries had to say. You can read those commentaries here, but I'll summarize a little, and I'm going to take it in two parts. Since most of us aren't farmers, Isaiah's example doesn't really make sense to us, so I'll relate it to parenting, which in turn will help us see how God works in our lives.

First of all, the farmer has a variety of tasks that he needs to do in sequence (verses 23-26). He doesn't plow forever, but moves on from one task to the next, all working towards the goal of a harvest. As parents, we have to tailor our teaching to the ages of our children, with the end goal of raising capable, godly adults. When Zachary was two, we didn't ask him to make supper. Now, though, he is learning to cook. At first he and Paul worked together to make sloppy joes, which are his specialty, but now Zachary does all the work except for the cooking of the meat. Gradually, task by task, we teach our kids to take care of themselves, to be independent. 

In a spiritual sense, God has a plan for His people, which requires that He not always be doing the same thing in our lives. He works in us, bringing us closer and closer to being the Christ-like people He wants us to be. Sometimes He will be working to prepare us, other times He will be planting and tending the seed of some trait He wants to develop in us, and at other times He will, hopefully, bring in a harvest as that new character trait becomes part of us.

The second part of the passage talks about threshing, which is certainly something I've never done and have no clue about. I buy my flour already ground and ready to use, thank you! But as I read, it seemed obvious that different grains have to be threshed (or separated from the inedible chaff) in different ways...what works for one won't work for the other.

As I said, this passage comes in the midst of Isaiah's prophecy about the destruction that will come because God's people have been disobeying Him and have refused to heed the many stern warnings they've been given. According to the commentaries I read, the threshing symbolizes God's work in us too, but this time in the manner of discipline. Sometimes we need only a gentle reminder that what we are doing is wrong. Other times sterner measures are needed, like the destruction God would have to send on the people of Israel and Judah before He would get their attention. God knows how best to discipline us, just as the farmer knows how to thresh different grains, and just as we know to discipline our own children in different ways according to their ages and personalities.

Proverbs 3:11,12 says, "My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in." Though we won't like being disciplined by God any more than our kids like being disciplined by us, we can be sure that we are being disciplined by a Father who loves us. 

Most importantly, always, no matter what stage we are at in our spiritual growth or what form the discipline takes, His goal is to make us better and never to cause us harm.

November 13, 2015

My Online Trunk Show

Have you seen the Online Trunk Show being hosted by Soma at Whims and Fancies? She has invited quilt bloggers to link up virtual trunk shows of their favourite quilts and it's been fun to sit back and check them all out.
Online Quilt Trunk Show | Whims And Fancies

Before I open my virtual trunk and share some of my favourite quilts, I thought I'd share this fun fact: My fabric stash is stored in this real trunk, which my mother-in-law used when she went to university.

It's not at all organized, but I love rummaging around in the trunk to find fabric for a new project!
I'll start the trunk show with my very first quilt. I couldn't find a finished picture of it, so here's a shot of me working on it in the summer of 1997. The quilt has tons of hand embroidery and was hand quilted along those chalk lines that are drawn in the sashing. It was a wedding gift for my friends Michelle and Brian.
I made quilts for all three of my boys when they were born (or at least they were intended for when they were born!). Here is Aiden's quilt. The pattern is from the book A Quilter's Ark, by Margaret Rolfe. We used this quilt all the time when Aiden was a baby, until one day I noticed the threads I used to hand quilt it were disintegrating. I still don't know what happened!
The pattern for Zachary's quilt came from Margaret Rolfe's book too.The funny thing is, Zachary is now very interested in animals, and dolphins are among his favourites.
 Nathan's quilt was one of my early free motion quilting ones. It's also the only one of their quilts that still hangs somewhere in the this case, the family room. The pattern came from a magazine, but I can't remember who designed it. I added the vehicles around the borders from another pattern, which I also can't remember right now.
And, not to leave my husband out, I made him a coffee quilt. This pattern was from the book Stack a New Deck, by Karla Alexander. It was hanging in our living room until a couple of weeks ago and we haven't found a new home for it yet.

This is my Scrappy Log Cabin quilt. If learning a new skill is mostly a matter of practice, this quilt played a big part in my free motion quilting skills! I think somewhere in the vicinity of 3 1/2 km of thread went into quilting this one!
This next one was made for the Schniztel and Boo Mini Quilt Swap, round 2. I used a block from Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks magazine called Spin Cycle, which was designed by Gudrun Erla. I did a lot of free motion quilting in the white sections and this was the first quilt where I felt like I had gone from a beginner to an intermediate fmq quilter.
 My And Sew On quilt was the first one I made that was inspired by a 'squirrel' moment because of something I found online. I stumbled onto Kristy's blog, Quiet Play, when she released the scissors block in her 2013 And Sew On BOM. It was just so cute, I had to make it! I made four more blocks from the series for this quilt that now hangs in our downstairs hallway.
My Flower Box cushion cover pattern was in Make Modern magazine. I was so excited about my first published pattern! Now I'm working on a wall hanging made with four of these blocks and I plan to release the pattern in my Payhip and Etsy shops within the next couple of weeks.
The last one I'll share for my trunk show is Noodles, which was designed for the Curves issue of Fat Quarterly magazine. It was fun making this one because it was only my second attempt at sewing curves and it was exciting to see each block come together the way it was supposed to! Noodles lives permanently on Miss Cleo, the 1923 Singer treadle machine in our entryway.
Thanks for coming to visit for my trunk show! If you're interested in sharing your own favourite quilts, the linky will remain open until November 18th, so there's still time to get in on the fun.
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