February 27, 2015

Going in Circles

I've been working on my contribution for this round of the Round Trip Quilts. This time I have Kim's quilt and I wanted to add something that had lots of negative space because the quilt feels busy to me. I decided it needed some circles.
FYI these circles take a loooong time to make!
This was my first time making these blocks after having admired them for years. Mine finish at 5 1/2" and I'm pretty pleased with them. They're not perfect, of course, but they're not bad. Most of the matching points around the outside of the circle are really close to being properly matched, which is good enough for me. There are a few small puckers around the circles, but they're all small enough that I don't think I'd do better if I were to try again. I do find there are a lot of wrinkle marks in the background fabric and I'm not sure how to get rid of those. I'm going to try spraying them with water and pressing them again and hopefully that will help. If you have any suggestions, I'd love to hear them.

Next I need to add some strips of background fabric to the blocks to space them out so the borders will be the right size to fit the quilt. I'll be back next week to show you how Kim's quilt is looking before I mail it off to Mary.

February 23, 2015

Polluted?

Devotion for the Week...

We have lived in small town Newfoundland for almost 10 years now. For much of that time, the town was under a "Boil Water Advisory," because our tap water was unsafe. We were to boil the water before drinking it, using it in cooking, washing produce, brushing our teeth or anything else that involved us consuming the water. We mostly avoided that by filling jugs with purified water at the store several times a week, but, while I don't actually know what was in the water, I am glad that the Boil Water Advisory is over now and the water is safe to drink and use.

I thought of the advisory last week after reading this verse in James: "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world" (James 1:27). When I first think of pollution, I think of things like urban smog, or oil spills that contaminate lakes or coastlines. Glaring, visible, examples of how humans have mistreated the environment and turned something beautiful into something ugly and dirty. But the water that was coming out of our tap while we were under the advisory didn't look, smell or even taste any different than the water that comes out of our tap today.

Contaminates in water are measured in ppm (parts per million), or mg/L (milligrams per liter), which means the tests are looking for very, very low levels of the contaminate compared to the amount of water being tested. Many of the contaminates that water is tested for must be at zero ppm for the water to be considered safe (see this table from the EPA). When a contaminate in the water exceeds the safe level, that water could make people sick, or it could even be deadly, depending on what has contaminated the water. This is true even though the water doesn't look, smell or taste any different than safe water would look, smell or taste. Also, the effects of consuming the unsafe water may not be noticed immediately. Often the effects are cumulative, so the more of the contaminated water a person consumes, the more effect it would eventually have.

Spiritually speaking, God wants us to keep ourselves from being polluted by the world. Unfortunately, spiritual pollution is a lot like physical pollution. Some of it is obvious, while a lot of it may be invisible, insidious and hard to identify. Sometimes the effects are immediate, but mostly they build up over time and with repeated exposure.

Since we are told to keep ourselves from being polluted by the world, that means the pollution comes from outside sources. And there are many sources:

*television and movies
*social media
*friends
*co-workers
*books and magazines
*family
*false teachings in the church

I'm sure there are others, but those are the ones that spring immediately to mind. How careful are we to screen those sources, to guard ourselves against the contaminates of the world? And how high is our tolerance for those contaminates? How many 'parts per million' do we allow before we deem something to be polluted?

Paul wrote, "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" (Philippians 4:8). That seems like a good test for the things we intend to allow into our lives. If it is not any of these things, perhaps it is nothing more than pollution.

February 20, 2015

Friday Finish - Eli's Quilt

What? Two finishes in one week? I know, "Who are you and what have you done with the woman who normally blogs here," right? Let me assure you, after this post we'll be back to regular programming, where it takes me forever to finish almost anything.

In the meantime, here are some pictures of the cute baby quilt I finished last night.
The squares are 5" finished, so the quilt is 40" square. I hope that's a good size so little Eli will be able to play with it and use it even after he grows out of the baby stage.

I quilted it with an all over pattern of loops and stars.
I used a light blue thread, and I like how it really shows up on some blocks and blends in with others. Of course, I think the stars are the wonkiest in the blocks where they show up the most! Working in an all over pattern like this I really noticed how small the bed of my machine is. I don't have an extension table for it, but I think one would be really useful for this type of quilting.

I backed the quilt in a blue flannel, so that light blue thread shows up well there too. I had planned to bind it with a scrappy blue binding, but couldn't find enough blues in my stash. Apparently I need to do some fabric shopping ;) In the end, I'm really glad I couldn't find enough blues because I love how this soft yellow solid looks.
Now, before you are too impressed with this second finish for the week, I should point out that when I put Eli's quilt on my Finish-a-long list for this quarter, I said I hoped to have it finished before the end of the week. That was over a month ago! In my defense, though, I did abandon all other projects to focus on the wedding quilt. And now I have two finishes for my list!

I'll have Eli's quilt in the mail next week. I sure hope he enjoys rolling around on it, and looking at all the bright colours!
 Linking up with Can I Get a Whoop Whoop, TGIFF and Finish it up Friday.



February 17, 2015

Wedding Quilt - Finished!!

The wedding quilt is finished! (Insert happy dance here!) I had a couple of brave quilt holders this afternoon, so I managed to get some pictures, despite the cold.

 Aren't they handsome quilt holders?

I had them standing halfway up a snowbank, so they'd be tall enough that the quilt wouldn't puddle on the ground, and I snapped a shot to show how big the snowbank actually is.
I found it really hard to get good pictures of the back of the whole quilt, but this one gives you an idea of how the quilting looks over the entire back.
 I love the pop of yellow binding against the muslin back...
and against the green front of the quilt too. Every one of those big flowers is very wonky, but I'm still pleased with how it all looks.
Now to just get it delivered to the bride and groom (who have been married over a week now).

This is my first finish from my Finish-a-Long list for this quarter. In celebration, I'll be linking this post everywhere I can think of! Check out the page at the top of the blog for some of my usual link-ups.

February 16, 2015

Reacting to Discipline

Devotion for the Week...

As a mom and as a babysitter, I've given my fair share of time outs. To be honest, nothing irks me more than a child who seems to be enjoying the time out. If I'm disciplining a child for bad behavior, I don't want them to think sitting all on their own is fun! I have a friend who has said to me that she is glad, in a way, when her child cries because he doesn't like the time out because then maybe the discipline will have some effect.

The writer of Hebrews said, "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it" (Hebrews 12:11). Obviously, our goal as parents is to raise children whose lives are marked by righteousness and peace, which means we must discipline then when they are young so they are trained to behave in ways that are acceptable.

Even if we received that training as children, there are no guarantees that we will never do wrong again. Actually, the guarantee pretty much goes the other way...we are guaranteed we will do wrong. What happens then? Hebrews 12:7,8 says, "Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all." 

I am not a theologian, to be able to explain how God uses hardship to discipline us, or to know what hardships are discipline and what is simply the consequence of living in a fallen world. From this passage, though, I believe that God does discipline us when we do wrong, just as we parents discipline our children. And, just as we do it with the intention of making them better people, He disciplines us with the desire to make us more like Him. If that is true, then our reaction to that discipline is important.

Sometimes kids choose to ignore the discipline, even when they're in the middle of it. They sit in the time out chair and start playing games with their fingers, or drawing pictures on the wall. They're not benefiting from the discipline at all, even while going through it. Do we do that too, ignoring what God is trying to say to us and finding ways to occupy ourselves so we barely even notice the discipline?

Sometimes kids endure the discipline, even seeming upset by it, but then they forget it as soon as it's over. As parents we can feel like we're talking to a brick wall because we keep dealing with the same issue over and over and it's like the child will never change, no matter what we do to try to get through to them. But are adults any better? As an example, how often do we say something we know we shouldn't, and then spend hours feeling guilty about it, and then a few days later we do it again? Does God ever want to just shake some sense into us when we do things even when He knows we know better?

Sometimes kids cry and wail through the discipline and even after, blaming the parents for their suffering. While I don't remember exactly what he said, I can remember Nathan saying once that it was all my fault he was feeling sad after being punished (I think we took away his TV privileges). I was pretty quick to point out that it was because of whatever he did wrong that he wasn't allowed to watch TV, not because I just felt like taking it away from him. His choices were what made him sad, not mine. How often do we blame God for the things that are wrong in our lives, when really it is our own choices that have created those problems?

When kids do any of those things, you can be sure their parents will have to discipline them again and again because the kids will keep repeating the wrong behaviors that got them disciplined in the first place. The same is true for us with God's discipline. If we don't learn the lesson the first time around, we will be disciplined again. It is also possible that the discipline will become more severe each time as God tries to get through to us and change our behavior.

And, of course, sometimes kids actually absorb the lesson from the discipline. They learn not to hit, or snatch toys, or throw temper tantrums when they don't get their own way. Little by little, they become more like the civilized adults we parents are hoping they will someday be. Hopefully that happens for us too as we learn the lessons God is trying to teach us through His discipline. Little by little we learn not to gossip, or lie, or throw temper tantrums when we don't get our own way. In so doing, we become more like the godly Christians he wants us to be.

February 12, 2015

This and That

I'm still plugging away at quilting the flowers on the wedding quilt (even though the wedding was last weekend), but I picked up the fabric for the binding the other day. I went to the store thinking I wanted a red, but all the reds just didn't work. They were all too red, and the pinks were too pink. This fabulous golden solid from Northcott, on the other hand, is perfect!
The white print is from Northcott too, so that might explain why this yellow seems to be the exact same shade as the yellow in the print.
 I'm hoping to get the quilting finished and the binding put on by the end of the weekend.

Our printer is out of ink, and we have to go out of town to buy more, so I haven't been able to print more epp diamond templates. Then I thought to ask my husband to print me a page or two at work. Look at the stack he brought me!
In case you're interested, I print these templates from www.incompetech.com. These diamonds have 1" sides, but you can make them any size you need. Since each page has almost enough diamonds for 6 stars, I think this stack will last me a long, time!
My quilting gloves, on the other hand, may not last me much longer. There is almost a hole in one finger of the other glove too, so I think it's time to invest in a new pair :)
 In other news, Craftsy is having a Valentine's sale...
Craftsy
Are you heading to QuiltCon next week? I'm not, but I'm looking forward to seeing pictures from those who are there!

February 09, 2015

What Are You?

Devotion for the Week...

A few years ago I did a stint as our small church's Women's Ministries leader. I wasn't very good at it. I took on the position because the woman in it before me was wanting out, but no one else wanted in. I figured I could probably manage, so why not? Ummm, maybe because I'm not really the leader type? Maybe because I'm pretty good at doing what I'm asked to do, but not always so good at figuring out what needs to be done? Oh, and maybe because I'd only been going to WM for a little while and didn't really have any clue what was expected? Yeah, all of that and more.

So, before Nathan was born, I stepped down. Now I have a better understanding of what God didn't intend for me to be (a Women's Ministries leader!) and, along the way, I got a little glimpse of what He does want me to be. It was while I was leading WM that I wrote and shared my first devotion, and a couple more after that before I stepped down. Bless those women who supported me and encouraged me when I shared them! It took a few years for me to get from nervously sharing my thoughts with those women to starting this blog, but I see a direct link. Through a little trial and error I found a part of what God designed me to be.

Have you found what He designed you to be? I know without a doubt that He designed each and every one of us to be something in His kingdom. In fact, 1 Corinthians 12 resounds with this message. Verses 4-7 say, "There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good." To each one. Not 'only to the special ones', or 'the important ones', or 'the brave ones' or even 'only the good looking ones'. To each one. God didn't leave any of us out. He has a work for all of us to do. Our first job is to figure out what that work is. After that, our job is to do it.

It sounds simple enough, but our tendency is to think we're not good enough at anything. We tend to compare ourselves to others, don't we? And when we compare ourselves with others, we usually don't come out on top because we look at what we lack and compare it to what they have in abundance. It's more helpful (and certainly healthier), to keep our eyes on our own papers, so to speak. Ask yourself, What can I do well? What do I enjoy doing that could maybe be used to help others? What do other people comment on, telling me I have a talent, even if I don't think what I do is anything special? Those will be clues to what God wants you to be.

I think it's probably the things you think aren't anything special that God wants to use. Not because they're ordinary or not special, it's just that they come so naturally to you that you feel like everyone should be able to do it, and if that's the case, why should you go out of your way to do it? Except not everyone can do whatever it is. My husband plays piano by ear, without reading music, and he plays beautifully. If someone compliments him on his playing, he usually just shrugs and brushes it off because to him it doesn't seem like anything special. To someone like me (without a musical cell in my entire body), it's something almost magical. I can't even begin to comprehend how he can hear a piece of music and then just figure out how to play it. It boggles my mind. Our oldest son, Aiden, plays drums the same way. I hear him work his way through a new song and I wonder how he knows which drum to hit and when! To them, music is simply a part of who they are. It is not at all a part of who I am. Is there something that is a part of you that God has given to you to be used for His work?

Even after we have an idea of what God wants us to be, we may still shy away from actually doing it out of fear. Fear that even our best efforts won't be good enough. Fear that people will think we're crazy for thinking we could ever do ______. Fear that no one will be interested in what we have to offer.

Fear is powerful. I know because I listened to it for years, dreaming of writing while not actually writing anything. Unfortunately, I don't have any great insight for you on how to overcome the fear. The best I can offer is this, "Feel the fear and do it anyway." It probably won't make the fear disappear, at least not right away, but you'll finally be moving forward!

God made you to be something special for Him. Do you know what that is? And most importantly, are you being it?

February 06, 2015

A Snowshoe Morning

Today is another snow day, with lots of fresh, powdery snow. The boys and I took advantage of the day off school/work and headed out for a bit of snowshoeing this morning.

We went into the woods behind our house, and it was beautiful. No wind, just little flakes floating down, and no snowmobiles had been up there yet to pack down the snow.
 It was a lot of work because the snow was so deep, so there were lots of breaks.
It's hard to tell in the pictures, but even in snowshoes we were sinking to our knees in places. See how far down my snowshoe is?
Two handsome boys who don't agree on hockey teams
I love this picture of Zachary. Too bad a bit of snow is streaking through it.
We stopped for a selfie at the end of our walk.
Hopefully this is only the first of plenty of snowshoeing outings this year!

February 05, 2015

A Little EPP

The cold I was fighting last week morphed into a sinus infection that left me completely exhausted and unable to sew, which means the wedding quilt will not be finished in time for the wedding. I should be able to get back at it tomorrow though, as I'm feeling much better now that I have medication.

In the meantime, while waiting to see a doctor, I added to my collection of epp diamond stars.
I basted and stitched the zebra print star, then started on the batik one. Unfortunately, I only had 5 diamond templates left, so this was as far as I could go.
Here is the whole collection so far. I'm not sure what colour I will use in between the stars, though I think it will be a grey. I think it will be a solid too, so there will be a little extra contrast between the background and all the prints. Since I'm making this up as I go along, that could all change a few times before I actually start putting it together. I don't even know how big I want this quilt to be!

We had a great visit with my parents, who left this morning. It looks like they just missed a storm...it's snowing now and we're predicted to have something like 50cm of snow by tomorrow evening. I guess we'll spend tomorrow digging out!

February 02, 2015

The Opinion that Matters

Devotion for the Week...

Jesus' teachings sometimes went against what the religious leaders of His day believed and taught. On one occasion, they overheard Him teaching His disciples and openly sneered at Him.  Jesus had just finished explaining a parable and ended with the words, "You cannot serve both God and money” (Luke 16:13), which was met with their sneers. What was Jesus' response to them?

"The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight" (Luke 16:14,15).

I find it interesting that He calls them 'the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others.' That suggests to me that the Pharisees were very concerned with what people thought of them. They used their money, their influence and their position to make others think well of them, to make people believe that they were good people. It didn't matter what they did, so long as they could make others believe that they were doing the right thing, for the right reasons. In public relations, it's called 'spin' - interpreting things in such a way that you influence public opinion.

But what others think of us really doesn't matter! It is what God thinks of us that matters, and the Pharisees were too busy worrying about their image to think about how God viewed their actions. "But God knows your hearts," Jesus told them. The same is true for us, of course. God's opinion of us isn't influenced by the spin we put on things. He knows our real motives, and our real attitudes. He knows what really happened. Whether or not that is a worrisome thought depends on how heavily we rely on spin to influence how people see us.

The phrase, "what people value highly is detestable in God's sight" is significant too. On the one hand, since the conversation had been about money, Jesus could be referring to money, and mankind's ever present desire to have more and more and more of it. Or He could be referring to our desire to have people like us, no matter what the cost (materially or spiritually). Either way, God doesn't value things the way the world does. 

In light of that fact, we need to carefully examine our own hearts and attitudes. Are we putting too much into the quest for wealth or popularity? Are we sacrificing God's good opinion of us in exchange for people's good opinion? It isn't wrong to want people to think well of us, but are we keeping the proper perspective?
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