September 29, 2014

Allowed In

Devotion for the Week...

Have you ever really wanted to do something, but you weren't allowed? Maybe you weren't old enough, like our two younger boys find sometimes. Zachary is only 21 months younger than Aiden, so most of the time we have treated them pretty much the same. There have been times, though, when being younger meant that Zach couldn't do things Aiden could do, like when Aiden reached grade 5 and became eligible for cross-country running. Zach couldn't wait to get to grade 5 so he could join too. And now that he is in grade 5 (and cross-country running) he finds that Aiden, who is now 12, is going to youth rallies at church without him. And so, again, he's anxiously waiting for the next two years to pass so he can do the things his brother is doing.

Sometimes it's not age that prevents us from doing the things we want to do. Sometimes it's qualifications, like when we want a better job but we don't have the rights skills. Sometimes it's money, like when we want to take a trip, but there are no extra funds to pay for it.

Then there are times when we are included, when we can do something even though we're not quite qualified. Nathan sometimes struggles with being the youngest, and being left out when his older brothers are invited to a friend's house and Nathan isn't invited. There are other times, though, when everyone is here and they all play together. They include Nathan in their games, even though he is younger, which makes him feel so excited and happy.

I sense that same excitement and happiness when I read part of Psalm 5, which was written by David. Starting with verse 4, he wrote:
You are not a God who takes pleasure in evil;
with you the wicked cannot dwell.
The arrogant cannot stand in your presence;
you hate all who do wrong.
You destroy those who tell lies;
bloodthirsty and deceitful men
the Lord abhors. (Psalm 5:4-6)

Do you see all the people who can't come into God's presence? All those who can't come near to the One who created them? But in verse 7 David writes, "But I...will come into your house; in reverence will I bow down toward your holy temple." Do you sense the relief in that "But I"? It's like David is saying, "But I'm not one of them. I'm not one of the ones who can't come near You. I'm allowed in."

Why is David allowed in? What has he done to earn his way into God's presence? As I have written out verse 7, we could assume, perhaps, that David is perfect, and that's why he is allowed in God's presence. We could assume that he is not evil, or wicked, or arrogant. Perhaps those things are possible, but the rest of the passage presents a more difficult picture. It's hard to believe he never did wrong, or that he never told a lie. I think lying is hard-wired into every human. Certainly every child tries it at one time or another to attempt to get out of trouble. Even though we, hopefully, learn to be truthful, I doubt any person, aside from Jesus, has ever lived who never told a single lie. And if we read our Bibles, we learn that David certainly wasn't a perfect man, allowed into God's presence because he never did wrong. Read the story of David and Bathsheba to see just how much wrong David was capable of doing.

No, it's not because he's perfect that David is allowed into God's presence. I'm grateful for that, because if that was the answer it wouldn't give us much hope. I have a hard time being perfect. Do you?

Thankfully, the answer lies in four beautiful words that I left out when I first typed verse 7 for you. These four words not only explain why David could come into God's presence, but why we can as well. They offer hope and peace and salvation to any who choose to believe. The full verse reads, "But I, by your great mercy, will come into your house; in reverence will I bow down toward your holy temple" (emphasis mine).

By your great mercy.

Not because David was perfect. Not because I am perfect, but because God is merciful and gracious, willing to forgive those who repent and ask for forgiveness. In David's day that required animal sacrifices, but for us Jesus has already made that sacrifice. It is done and God, by his great mercy, welcomes anyone who accepts that sacrifice as having been made for them.

If we believe that Jesus is our Savior, then we can say with David that we are not like those others, who are not welcome in God's presence, simply because we have chosen to accept the gift of mercy being offered to us. Those others, should they ever choose to accept his mercy, would also find themselves suddenly welcome, suddenly allowed in. Then they too could say, with relief and excitement and joy, "But I, by your great mercy, will come into your house." 

Thank you, Father, for your great mercy towards us.

September 27, 2014

Hexie Stars

I've started a new epp project, but this one will be much smaller than my hexie flowers quilt.
The hexie stars were designed by Reene of Nellie's Niceties. I'm loving how this looks, but those skinny triangles are crazy fiddly to work with! I think I'll add a border of the grey, though maybe only on the top and bottom, and then bind it in a scrappy aqua binding. Once again, I'm making this up as I go along, which seems to be my favourite method lately.

In other news, Mary of See Mary Quilt has finished her addition to my Round Trip Quilts piece and it is gorgeous! Check it out here.

September 26, 2014

Two Finishes and a Start

I actually have two finishes to share today, though neither one of them are projects from my Quarter 3 Finish-a-Long list. I think I've finished one thing from that list so far, and there's not much left of this quarter. Oh well, that just means it will be really easy to write the quarter 4 list, right?

The first of my finishes is the embroidered Psalm 19 wall hanging. I am so pleased with how this turned out!
I love the purple script in the midst of the grey words.
I used the fast triangles method on the back rather than adding a sleeve. It was my first time doing this and I'll be doing it again for sure. It's so much faster than making a sleeve and then stitching it on by hand.
As you can see from the back, I did minimal quilting on this one as I didn't want to detract from the embroidered verse.

It doesn't show in any of the pictures, but that binding is nearly perfect. I came across a tip that made a huge difference, but I can't give proper credit for it as I can't remember which blogger shared it. Whoever it was, she said that after she puts her binding on the first side, she irons it up and away from the quilt before folding it over to the other side. I didn't think it would make much difference, but it did!! Such a simple step, but it made the binding look much neater and much more professional.

My second finish is a baby blanket with ribbon tags, like the one I made for Maddie last year. This one is for a little boy, and has some heavy machinery in the focus squares.
I made it as a test to see how long it takes to make one of these blankets. Turns out it takes 1 1/2 hours from start to finish.

I love all the different tags, which are not only different colours, but also different widths and different types of ribbon. Lots of things for some little baby boy to explore.
 I did simple, straight line quilting on either side of the seams.
So, those are my two finishes, and the new project I've started actually involves them both.

Devoted Quilter is now a shop on Etsy! It's something I've been thinking about for a long time and I finally took the plunge this week. Both of these quilts are listed there, as are some of my patterns. I'm planning to get more items listed over the next couple of weeks.

If you have a shop on Etsy, or if you buy from Etsy, do you have any tips to share with this new shop owner? I'd love any suggestions you may have. Thanks!

Linking up with TGIFF, Finish it up Friday and Can I Get a Whoop Whoop

September 24, 2014

Round Trip Quilts - Round 1!

I had a lot of fun adding my contribution to Jennifer's quilt start for the Round Trip Quilts group. Jennifer, of Never Just Jennifer, sent this gorgeous piece to me as the beginning of her quilt. The theme for her quilt is "New Hampshire Beauty."
She included lots of ideas for things she'd like to see in her quilt, including maple leaves. As the only Canadian in the group, it seemed only fitting that I be the one to add them. And of course that meant there would be one red leaf on a white background.
I love the birds flying around on this yellow leaf!
I followed this tutorial by Erin of Sew at Home Mummy, though I made my blocks 9" finished rather than 12".

Before I could add my leaves to Jennifer's starting piece, I added a 1" teal strip to two sides to bring it up to 27" so it would work with my blocks. Jennifer said she didn't want a traditional medallion style quilt, with borders on borders on borders, so I chose to add to only two sides of the quilt top. I chose the north and east sides because I live in Newfoundland, which is northeast of Jennifer in New Hampshire.
That's it for me for round one! Now I have to wait until the middle of October before I can mail this to Mary, of See Mary Quilt, to add her contribution. Next up for me will be Liz's quilt (Green Cheese Quilting), which Jennifer has now.

I hope you like your maple leaves, Jennifer!

September 22, 2014

Graceful Words

Devotion for the Week...

I've been reading about grace a lot the past few weeks. First I reread Philip Yancey's What's So Amazing About Grace? Now I am reading Chuck Swindoll's The Grace Awakening. I highly recommend both books. Usually we focus on God's gift of grace to us, but these books will make you take a close look at yourself and at how you share grace with those around you. Yancey's book, especially, seems like it would be worth reading again every couple of years.

One thing I've been thinking about as I read is this verse from Colossians: "Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone" (Colossians 4:6). There are a few things that I find challenging in this verse.

First of all, this verse follows several others in which Paul writes about sharing the gospel of Jesus with outsiders, with those who don't believe in Him. Verse 5 says, "Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity." Taken together, these verses tell me that we should always be ready to tell others about Jesus, that we should be alert for opportunities. I don't know about you, but I'm not so good at that. Unless I'm asked a specific and direct question, I often hesitate rather than speaking up about spiritual things with people who may not share my beliefs. I don't want to offend anyone. Truth be told, I don't want to seem weird. That may strike you as odd considering how openlyI share my faith here on my blog, but here I figure if you're not interested in spiritual things you just won't read the devotions. It's different when I'm face to face with someone. I struggle with knowing "how to answer everyone," especially when most people are not asking specific and direct questions.

Then there is the word always. "Let your conversation be always full of grace." Always is a pretty all-encompassing word, isn't it? There's not a lot of room to wriggle around a word like always. And there's no room around the original Greek word pantote, either. According to biblegateway.com pantote means "always, at all times, ever." If our conversation is to be always full of grace, then it seems like that means every conversation, with everyone, all the time. Sometimes it's easy to show grace in conversation - with people we like, when people are agreeing with us, when the sun is shining and we've had a good night's sleep. Other times it's not so easy - with people we don't like, when people disagree with us, when we're tired or sick, or when we're being asked to do something we don't want to do. 

Unfortunately, it's also often easier to show grace to strangers and acquaintances than to those who are closest to us. If you're anything like me, you're more likely to snap at your children than at the grocery store cashier. If my conversation is to be always full of grace, then I need to watch how I react when Nathan comes wanting me to read to him just when I finally have a moment to myself to read my own book. Sometimes, even when I agree to read to him, my "I guess so" is not very gracious or welcoming, especially if it's accompanied by a sigh. Do you do that too? Do you do the right thing, but with the wrong attitude and that attitude is conveyed in your words? 

And then there is gossip. People love to talk about other people, don't we? Sometimes that's okay, like when we're sharing good news: "They just got engaged!" Other times, it's not okay, like when we're fishing around for the inside story on some incident that has nothing to do with us, or when we're the ones sharing the inside story. Then there are times when gossip is cloaked as a prayer need: "Pray for them, would you, he had an affair...with his secretary...it was going on for two years before he was found out...now he wants a divorce and they're fighting over custody of the kids." Conversations that are full of grace have no room for gossip. Ephesians 4:29 says "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."

The funny thing is, if we refrain from gossip, and if our words are pleasant even when situations may not be, those who do not believe in Jesus may be more likely to ask us questions about our faith. Certainly they will be more receptive to our answers if they find that our actions (and conversations) line up with what we say we believe.
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