April 27, 2015

Permanence

Devotion for the Week...

Last weekend we spent a day out of town visiting Paul's family and drove home after dark. As we drove down the familiar highway, I thought of all the things I wasn't able to see because of the dark. There were places along the road where I knew I should have been able to see a pond or a hill off in the distance, but instead I could only see what was illuminated by the headlights.

The experts say that babies have to learn 'object permanence' - the concept that people and things still exist even when they are hidden from sight. That's why peek-a-boo is so exciting for babies. They think we disappear and they are genuinely surprised when we reappear, until their minds begin to understand that things still exist even when they can't be seen. Understanding object permanence is why we don't panic when we go out in the dark and can't see past our lights, or why a thick fog doesn't make us think the world has vanished, even though it looks like everything is gone.

I think sometimes we would do well to focus on 'God permanence' - the concept that God continues to exist even if we can't see Him or hear Him, that He is there even if we can't pinpoint His hand working in our lives. When things go wrong, we can feel like God doesn't care, or that He's not paying attention, or we may even start to wonder if God is real at all.

It makes me think of 1 Corinthians 13:12, which says, "For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known."

Mirrors today are really clear. I can look into the mirror and see every little hair on my head, including the grey one that likes to stand straight up at the top. I can see the room behind me; everything that is within the scope of the mirror is reflected back to me just as clearly as it would look if I turned around and looked at it straight on. But the mirrors in biblical times were not quite so clear. The mirrors then were made of metal, polished so that it could reflect the image of the person using it. Though it could reflect, it wasn't like looking in mirrors that we have today. That explains why Paul wrote that now we see only as in a mirror...the reflection wasn't as clear as seeing face to face would be. What was close to the mirror (ie the person using it) would be most clear. Everything else would be indistinct, if it could be seen at all. In the same way, what was in our headlights was clearly visible, while what lay beyond them was invisible, even though I knew there was more out there. 

I can't see God. I know that He exists, that He is there, but I can't see Him with my eyes. He isn't within the scope of my mirrors or my headlights. I can't always see what He's doing in my life, either, but that doesn't mean that He has stopped caring for me. Now we are seeing only a partial, dull reflection, but one day we will see as clearly as God sees. Then we will understand it all. And while we're waiting, we remember that He is there. That He exists and cares for us, even when He is out of sight.

April 21, 2015

Twirling Star Pattern Available!

 The pattern for my Twirling Star mini quilt is now available in my Etsy and Payhip shops!
The mini quilt finishes at 19 1/2" x 19 1/2" and features both traditional piecing (the hourglass blocks) and paper piecing (the pinwheel blocks).
 
Kitty, who blogs at Night Quilter, tested this pattern for me and she did an awesome job with it! You can see her beautiful rainbow version of Twirling Star here. Thank you so much, Kitty!

The pattern includes a colouring page, so you can test out different fabric possibilities before actually cutting into fabric (thanks, Kitty, for the suggestion!).

Though the pattern is only for the mini quilt, it would be easy to make it into a larger quilt, just by making more blocks. A 2 x 2 setting would make a great baby quilt!

Visit my Etsy or Payhip shop to get your copy of the pattern. If you make a Twirling Star quilt, I'd love to see it! You can email pictures or blog post links to piecefullydevoted at gmail dot com, or tag me on Instagram (@devotedquilter).

Linking with Sew Cute Tuesday, Fabric Tuesday, Let's Bee Social,
NTT, 
TGIFF, Can I Get a Whoop Whoop and Finish it up Friday

April 20, 2015

Go Away!

Devotion for the Week...

There are a number of stories in the Bible that I find interesting, often because I wonder, "What were they thinking?" This is one such story:

      "When he [Jesus] arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way. “What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?”
       Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding. The demons begged Jesus, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.”
       He said to them, “Go!” So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water. Those tending the pigs ran off, went into the town and reported all this, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region" (Matthew 8:28-34).

The miracle of healing the demon-possessed men is amazing, but that's never really been why this story intrigued me. I've always wondered why the townspeople "pleaded with him to leave their region." They so intensely didn't want Jesus near their town that they begged him to leave. Why? What were they thinking?

Jesus had just miraculously healed two men, which you would think would have made the people welcome him with a celebration, but that healing had caused the death of a large herd of pigs. Someone, or maybe several someones, owned those pigs. Were all of the townspeople somehow affected by this loss and its repercussions? Would that explain why they begged Jesus to leave - so that there would be no further financial consequences? That was the answer I found in the commentaries I read while preparing to write this devotion (you can find some of them here and here if you are interested), and it seems to make sense. In fact, it seems rather prevalent today.

The townspeople were more interested in the here and now than in the kingdom of God which is to come. They were more interested in preserving their financial security than in anything Jesus could offer them, and they certainly didn't want to take any chances that Jesus would change things for them. They quite liked the status quo, thank you very much. We may not have pigs we're worried about safeguarding, but I think we often have the same attitude as these townspeople.

Jesus does not physically walk into our towns, so we do not actually plead with him to leave as they did, but it's possible that our actions are just as unwelcoming to Him. How often do we neglect things like prayer or Bible reading because we're too tired, or too busy with other things? How often do we ignore the Holy Spirit's prompting to stop gossiping or being judgmental? How often do we avoid doing the things we know we should be doing because doing them will be too costly, either in terms of money, time or popular opinion?

If Jesus were to suddenly appear physically in our towns, would we be comfortable with Him? Would we be able to live our daily lives as they are, knowing that we could run into Him at any moment? Would we find ourselves changing the way we live, trying to live up to His standard so that we wouldn't be caught doing things we shouldn't? 

Would we find ourselves wishing He would go away so we could continue living as we always have, without worrying about things like righteousness, holiness and pleasing God?

The fact of the matter is, of course, that though we can't see Him physically, He is actually right here with us. Not only in our towns, but in our homes and workplaces. What sort of reception are we giving Him?

April 16, 2015

Round Trip Quilts - Round 5

For this round of Round Trip Quilts I have had Christina's quilt. Christina blogs at Wips and Tuts and the theme for her quilt is her favourite season - autumn. Of all the quilts being made by this group, this is the one my husband most wishes he could keep! It is so beautiful!

It is also huge!! Outside pictures are out of the question right now because everything here is dirty snow or mud, so in order to take these pictures I taped the quilt to the living room wall - it took up almost the whole space from the crown molding to the baseboards!

I forgot to take a picture before I added my section, so there's no before and after shots, but here's what it looks like now.

When I opened the package from Jennifer, I knew right away that I wanted to add something to help balance out the blue and green that she added with those beautiful trees at the top. It was really hard to get a good picture...those blues are a little more vibrant in real life.
I wasn't sure what I could add, but as soon as I opened the notebook Christina sent along with the quilt, I read the phrase "apple cider at bonfires" and I remembered seeing a campfire block somewhere. When I went looking for it, I also found these tents. Once I checked with Christina that the tents were okay, and not too summery, I was all set to go.
If I could redo it, I'd have used all light greens for the ground and all dark browns for the logs at the base of the fire as the medium toned logs seem to disappear into the background a little more than I would like.
At one time it seemed I had a huge abundance of blue and green fabric, so I consciously try to buy other colours to balance things out. Except it seems I've gone too far the other way and now I didn't have enough of any one blue to do all the sky, or enough of any one green to do all of the ground. I decided to do a bit of improv and mix it up for both the sky and the ground. Only when I was taking these pictures did I notice that the one green fabric that had flowers ended up upside down (oops!).
Joining the tents and the fire into one strip meant taking a little extra care to make sure the ground joined up all the way across and there were no sudden drop offs or cliffs between sections. I'm pretty pleased with how the rather hilly campground looks in the end.
I sure hope Christina likes what I've added! It's hard to believe we're almost finished these quilts...only two more rounds to go. We've been discussing what we want to do next and it seems most members of the group are game for another collaboration of some sort. Whatever we end up deciding, I have a feeling it will challenge my creativity and result in fun projects.

April 13, 2015

Really Looking

Devotion for the Week...

I love to read. Lately I haven't been reading as many books because I'm spending so much time quilting or reading quilting blogs, but I still love a good book. Right now I'm reading The Strangled Queen, an historical fiction written by French author Maurice Druon. The book is number 2 in a series of 7, and is set in France in the 1300s. The series chronicles the end of the Capetian kings, about whom I know absolutely nothing.

When I was reading a couple of weeks ago, this lined jumped out at me: "He had governed men from so high a position and for so long that he had lost the knack of looking at them" (p. 97). The he mentioned in the quote was in charge of the treasury and daily made decisions that affected the lives of everyone in the kingdom, but he had stopped really seeing the people. He had stopped thinking about how his decisions affected them and he had stopped caring about individual people.

I sat for a few minutes, reading the line over and over, before finally getting up and typing it into my laptop for use in a devotion. The contrast was just too great to ignore. There is, after all, no position higher than God. There is no government that is responsible for more people and no politician who has governed longer.

But God hasn't lost the knack of looking at us. He sees every detail of our lives and cares about our well-being. Consider these verses:

"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows" (Matthew 10: 29-31).

"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" (Psalm 139: 1-5).

He sees us. Really sees us. He cares about us so much that He is always aware of where we are, what we are doing, what we are thinking and what we are feeling. No one could possibly see us more clearly than God sees us, and nothing could ever change the fact that He cares enough to really look at us.
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