June 27, 2016

Fruit of the Spirit - Peace

Devotion for the Week...

Welcome back for the next installment in the devotion series on the fruit of the Spirit! If you're just joining in, you can go back and read the introduction, then about love and about joy to get all caught up :)

Once again, here is our verse for this devotion series: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law" (Galatians 5:22,23).

As you can see in our verse, this week we're talking about peace. There are a lot of different types of peace that we could consider - peace in the world, peace in our families and peace with God - but as I thought about this week's devotion I kept thinking of peace within ourselves. I'm thinking about the kind of peace that comes when our minds are settled and relaxed, when we're not worrying over this, that or a million other things.

We all worry. Some of us more than others, but we all do it at least some of the time. According to the Google dictionary, worry means "give way to anxiety or unease; allow one's mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles." Worrying means you just kind of camp your mind in your problems (real or potential) and stay there. The problem with worrying, of course, is that it really doesn't accomplish anything. It doesn't change our circumstances or prevent future trouble from finding us or provide us with something we're lacking. It only drains the energy out of today.

Jesus asked, "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?" (Luke 12:25,26). I've always loved that first question because it points out the utter pointlessness of worrying. No matter how much we worry, we can't change a thing about our lives.

In Matthew 6, Jesus tells us again not to worry. Specifically, He tells us not to worry about our lives, about what we will eat or drink, about our bodies and about what we will wear (v. 25).  Verse 32 says, "For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them" and that, right there, is the reason we don't need to waste our time worrying. God knows about the things we need. 

The antidote to worrying, as Jesus presents it? "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well" (v. 33). Seeking his kingdom and his righteousness, to me, means trying to serve God to the best of our ability and if our minds are focused on that, then there's not much room for worrying.

Focusing on serving God reminds us that while our worrying can't change one single thing about our lives, God can. Remember when Jesus asked if we could add an hour to our lives by worrying? He referred to that as doing a 'very little thing'! Doesn't that just shout about the power of God? It is a simple thing for Him to extend a person's life. He did it for King Hezekiah, in 2 Kings 6, adding 15 years to the king's life.

If we want the fruit of the Spirit to grow in our lives, that means we will need to pay attention to the Spirit and sometimes that's going to mean turning off the constant worrying in our minds and choosing instead to focus on God, to walk beside His Spirit, so to speak. When we do that, we remember the power of God (for whom nothing is impossible!), which calms the turmoil and pointless anxiety that could otherwise grip our lives. 

And that brings peace! Isaiah wrote, "You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you" (Isaiah 26:3). Perfect peace. That's certainly fruit worth growing!
Weekly devotions | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

June 24, 2016

Whole Cloth Mini Mini Quilt

I have always wanted to make a whole cloth quilt, but I never thought I'd start with one this small!

Make Modern magazine sponsored a mini mini quilt challenge on Instagram and I took a break from a couple of big projects to make this 5" square quilt.
Whole cloth mini mini quilt | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

As many of you know, I babysit kids during the school year, and one day one of the girls arrived wearing these fantastic pants.
Pants with flowers | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
This isn't very clear, but it was hard to keep her still long enough to take a picture!
I spent the whole morning looking at the flowers and thinking, "I could stitch that!" So, in the afternoon when the girls wanted to have some art time, I sat with them and sketched out a few versions of the flowers.
 Flower sketches | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

When it came time to stitch it, I drew the flower roughly with chalk, then free motion quilted the whole outline before filling in each petal. I really love the texture of the dense quilting in the center of the flower!
Dense free motion quilting texture | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

If I were to do it again, I'd probably fill in every other petal, then go back and fill in the remaining ones as I found that there was a little bit of bunching as I worked my way around. You can just pick it out in the top middle of the picture above.

I filled in the background with a micro stipple.
Micro stippling | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

When I finished, this little quilt was anything but flat!
Mini mini needs blocking | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Thankfully a quick bath and a night spent pinned to a styrofoam tray flattened it out perfectly.

I was going to add this mini mini to the #miniminiquiltswap on Instagram, but I decided to offer it here instead. If you'd like to make a mini mini to swap for this one, just let me know in the comments :)

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

June 20, 2016

Fruit of the Spirit - Joy

Devotion for the Week...

It's time for the third installment of our fruit of the Spirit devotion series! If you missed the previous devotions, click to read the introduction and about love.

Today we will look at joy, but first, I want to tell you that I've put off doing a series on the fruit of the Spirit for months because I wasn't quite sure how to write about joy. Not because I don't think Christians should have joy, or because I don't have joy, or because I don't like joy :) No, it was simply a matter of knowing that there are people in the church who suffer from depression and who are sometimes made to feel that they would recover if only they were properly "spiritual." A wonderful speaker named Joanne Goodwin came to our church about a year ago and she talked about when she first started sharing her stories of depression and living with bipolar disorder. She said that there were people who told her she just needed to trust in the Lord for healing...all the while wearing eyeglasses to correct their faulty vision! 

I am in no way an expert or a doctor, but it is my understanding that depression is an illness like any other, both beyond the control of the person suffering and able to be treated with medication. I do believe it is possible for God to heal a person with depression, just as He can heal a person with diabetes or cancer or bad eyesight, but the truth is that He often allows us to walk through these things rather than healing us, and walking through something may mean needing medication. So, please, if you think you need help, talk to your doctor!

Having cleared that up, here is our verse for this series of devotions, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law" (Galatians 5:22,23). Remember I said before that this is not a collection of 9 different fruit that can be produced in a believer's life, but rather one fruit with 9 sides. The Holy Spirit can cause all 9 to grow together in a believer's life if we are willing to listen and obey as the Spirit prompts us to change our behavior.

Aside from the fruit of the Spirit verse in Galatians, the first verse to come to mind when I think about joy seems like a rather odd verse. James wrote, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds" (James 1:2). Now, I don't know about you, but I generally don't find that trials of any kind make me joyful! They tend to make me annoyed or sad or angry or scared, depending on what kind of trial we're talking about. There's not much joy in any of that, is there? Thankfully, James explains why we should consider trials to be 'pure joy': "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything" (vv. 2-4). 

In our humanity, what do we usually do when faced with things that aren't going our way? We complain, don't we? We complain and we grumble. Sometimes only a little and sometimes a lot. Sometimes out loud and sometimes only in our own thoughts. Either way, we are focusing on the negative, which is guaranteed to be a joy-stealer. Complaining and grumbling accomplish very little, if anything. They may make us feel better for a moment, but the feeling doesn't last.

Those trials, though? They could be accomplishing something if we'd stop complaining and grumbling about them. James tells us that the trials are testing our faith, which will produce perseverance, which in turn will produce maturity. That sounds like cause for joy!
Weekly devotions | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

We are not meant to find joy in the trials themselves. No one feels joy because of an illness or the death of someone they love or financial burdens or trouble at work. Obviously, it is only through God's Spirit that we can consider trials to be joy. If we are focused on Him, focused on enduring those trials while holding tight to our faith in His goodness and His faithfulness, then His Spirit will be at work in our lives. We will develop maturity as believers, and we will find joy even in the hard times.

June 19, 2016

Coming Soon!

Sarah, at Confessions of a Fabric Addict, is working hard getting everything organized for a fantastic blog hop. There will be plenty of gift ideas and Sarah is even hosting a quilt-a-long on her blog during the hop. You won't want to miss it! I'll be sharing my project, which involves a whole gang of snowmen, on July 16th :)

June 14, 2016

A Little Finish and a Mini Quilt Wall

I started this embroidery project on May 7 of last year (according to Instagram) and I finally finished it last Tuesday night, exactly 13 months later. Good thing there are no penalties for taking a looooong time to finish a small project!
 Feather embroidery | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

I mounted it on an 8" x 10" artist's canvas I picked up at the dollar store. I originally drew the feathers intending to put them on a 6" x 8" canvas with the feathers wrapping right around the sides, but when I went to the store that size was sold out. Not thinking it would take me a year to finish, I bought the 8 x 10 size and hoped it would fit without me needing to redraw it. Thankfully it did, though the feathers don't wrap around the way I originally planned.
Feather embroidery | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

I didn't think to take pictures as I mounted it on the canvas, but I'll try to explain my process in case any of you want to do it. If you have any questions, feel free to ask! First, I pressed it well then lay it face down on the table with the canvas on top. I pulled the middle of the two sides to the back and taped them down with painter's tape and did the same thing with the middle of the top and bottom. To fold the corners, I pulled the corner back first, making a triangle, and then I folded back the two sides. I held them in place with painter's tape too. After checking from the front that everything was smooth and positioned the way I wanted, I used a staple gun to secure the fabric on the back.
Mounting embroidery on a canvas | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

Just as with my quilting, some of the feathers are rather questionable shape-wise, but when you stand back and look at it as a whole I think it works fine.
Feather embroidery | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

This little embroidery was always intended to be for my laundry room mini quilt wall and, as it turns out, was finished exactly in time to be hung with everything else :) My laundry room has pretty much zero personality, so hanging all of my beautiful mini quilts seemed like the perfect upgrade. Also, this room is not only the laundry room, but also our pantry and the room we pass through to reach our wood-burning furnace all winter (and most of the fall and spring!), so I am in this room a lot. That means I'll get to see these lovelies often.

The Before shots:
 Bare laundry room wall | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.comBare laundry room wall | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

And After! Doesn't that look so much better?
Laundry room mini quilt wall | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

Laundry room mini quilt wall | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
The gorgeous one on the left was made for me by Renee at Quilts of a Feather and I made the one on the right as a pattern test for Leanne at She Can Quilt.
Mini quilts | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
 The one on the left in this picture is from the first round of the #igminiquiltswap. It was made by Crystollyn (@crystollyn on IG). Those flying geese in the center are TINY! The one on the right is an angel quilt from the Schnitzel and Boo mini quilt swap (round 2, I think). It was made by Denise von Minden (@denisevonminden).
These mini mini quilts are adorable, aren't they? Going from left to right and top to bottom, these were made by: Kathy (@sewitsme61), Amanda (@whatthebobbin), Jennifer (@neverjustjennifer), Anja (@anjaquilts), Yvonne (@quiltingjetgirl), Jayne (@twiggyandopal), Erin (@lemonadefish) and Beth (@cookingupquilts). There's still room for more mini minis, so I plan to do more swapping soon!
Mini mini quilts | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
These have all been up for a few days and I love seeing them when I walk into the room!

I'll be linking up with Let's Bee Social, NTT, TGIFF, Can I Get a Whoop Whoop and Finish it up Friday.
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