July 17, 2017

Which Blue?

Devotion for the Week...

This past week has been crazy busy, so I cut myself some slack and didn't rush to get a new devotion ready for this Monday morning. Instead, here's one of my earliest devotions posted on the blog. I hope you enjoy it 😊


Imagine you have blocks made and assembled into a quilt top center, but you still need to figure out the border. You decide a singe, wide blue border would perfectly frame the center you have pieced. Of course, that's not the end of the decision-making. Because there are so many amazing fabrics available, 'blue' just begins to narrow down the possibilities.

There are light blues, dark blues, medium blues, green-blues and purple-blues. There are floral prints, geometric prints, solids, marbled and ombre. Prints can be large-scale or small-scale, tone-on-tone or multi-coloured.

A trip to the fabric store can set your head to spinning as you try to figure out which fabric suits your quilt best. It's so much fun laying fabrics by the quilt, seeing which one is too light or too dark, too busy or too bland. Then the joy of finding the 'just right' fabric, the one that makes the rest of the quilt feel complete.

Just as there is a myriad of different blue fabrics, so there is a myriad of different people. God made some of us musicians, some excellent cooks, some detail-oriented and some who love to visit seniors or the sick. In 1 Corinthians, Paul writes, "Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues." (1 Corinthians 12:27, 28) So, not everyone does the same thing well, and that is exactly the way God planned it.

After listing all those possible roles, Paul continues, "Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?" (vv 29, 30) The implied answer is Of course not! What would the world be like if everyone had the same talents? Without pastors, our churches would lack the teaching of God's word. Without those who are good with numbers, our finances would be in a shambles. Without those who love to visit others, many who can't leave their homes would spend their days in lonely isolation.

Earlier in the same chapter, Paul also says, "There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men."(vv 4-6) Note that Paul writes 'the same God works all of them in all men.' All men. Now, I take 'men' here to be the general, meaning mankind, not the specific, meaning males. In all of us, male or female, God is working through the special gifts and abilities He gave us.  None are left out. None are without abilities given by God to be used for His purposes and glory.

When I am trying to find a fabric to suit my quilt, I am limited to what I can find either in a local store or an online retailer. I may have to settle for something that isn't exactly what I had hoped to find. But when God created us, He was not limited in any way. He never has to settle, making do with a talent that isn't quite right. To each one of us, He gives the exact skills and abilities we need for the role He would have us fill. This doesn't mean we never have to work at improving our skills. Even when given the ability to play piano, a musician must practice and work hard to hone that craft. It's the same for other talents God has given us.
Weekly devotions on Christian living | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Think about this - based on who you are and what you do well, what role might God be asking you to fill? Are you doing that? And remember, no one is left without a talent and a related kind of service.

July 14, 2017

Christmas in July Blog Hop Begins!

I'm just popping in to let you know there's a blog hop starting today - 12 Days of Christmas in July, hosted by Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict. There will be bloggers sharing great Christmas ideas every day, plus Sarah is hosting a quilt-a-long AND there's a giveaway EVERY DAY!

I'll be sharing my project next weekend, but in the meantime, pop on over to Sarah's blog to check it all out!

July 10, 2017


Devotion for the Week...

We've had our firewood for next winter delivered, which means our backyard looks like this.
Firewood | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

Every year when the big truck comes and I'm left staring at that huge pile of wood, all I can think is, "I have wood, anyone have sheep to trade?" That only makes sense to you if you've played Settlers of Catan...otherwise you probably think I'm crazy 😊 In the game you're trying to build roads, settlements and cities, all of which require certain combinations of resources (cards that you pick up as the game goes along). Players are allowed to trade resources, which is great because sometimes you have an abundance of wood and no sheep so you can't build that settlement you've been eyeing, and trading can help make it happen.

Of course, humans have been trading things forever. Payment "in kind" used to be a common thing, meaning you could pay with the vegetables from your garden or the eggs from your chickens or whatever else you had. Even today we are really just trading our money for the things we want to buy.

When you're considering a trade (in a game or with your money), you have to look at what you're giving up and what you'll be getting in return. Then you decide if the trade is worth it to you. We've all said something like, "I'm not paying that much for that!" or "I'd love to have it, but I just can't see spending that much money on it." On the other hand, we've also all said, "It was such a good deal, I just couldn't pass it up!"

What you may never have considered is that God made a trade for us.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). This is probably one of the most well-known verses in the Bible and for good reason. It sums up salvation perfectly.

God so loved the world...this is what God was going to get in return for this trade. Not the physical world, but the population of the world. God loved (and still loves) the people He created so much that He was willing to trade Jesus in order to provide a way for our salvation.

that he gave his one and only Son...just think about the cost of salvation for a moment. Jesus gave up being in heaven and came to earth as a human being, making Himself subject to emotional hurts and physical pain. Think about how much of both He endured as He paid the price for our salvation.

that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. We had no part in making the trade, but we definitely benefit from it. Whoever believes really means that anyone is welcome to benefit from the trade that God made for us. As soon as you believe that Jesus came to earth and died for your sins, you receive the eternal life that God gives to everyone who believes.
Weekly devotions on Christian living | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
The amazing thing about this is that God considered it all beforehand. He knew what would happen while Jesus was on earth. He knew the cost of the trade. And He knew what He would get in exchange for the trade (us!). Knowing all of that, He considered what He got in return to be worth what He gave up. We were worth the cross.

Aren't you glad He made the trade for us?

July 03, 2017


Devotion for the Week...

Do you read the book of Proverbs? I think it was Chuck Swindoll, of Insight for Living Ministries, who said he once knew a man who read through Proverbs every month, reading the chapter that corresponded with the day of the month. For a while I did that and, though I'm not doing it now, I do sometimes read the day's chapter in Proverbs before any other Bible reading. It's amazing how many nuggets of truth are packed into those 31 short chapters.

Consider this, for example: "Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies will have their fill of poverty" (Proverbs 28:19).  When I read this verse last week I just stopped and thought about it for a while. Most of us aren't working the land to produce the food we eat, but the same principle still applies. Doing the work = food on the table. Lazing around and thinking about doing the work someday = no food. Simple enough, right? 

For some reason, though, I couldn't get the verse out of my head, mostly the 'those who chase fantasies' part. I have to admit, I don't often daydream about going grocery shopping, or having firewood to heat our house, or buying clothes for the boys or any of the other necessary things our jobs provide the money for. If we didn't have the money for those things, I probably would daydream about them, but we definitely know the work = food formula and the income from our jobs keeps us comfortably fed, clothed and warm through the winter. I hope the same is true for you.

But there are things I daydream about. Things like turning my quilt design business into my full-time job, having a more consistent Bible reading schedule, going to QuiltCon someday, writing a book of devotions, a big vegetable garden...I could go on and on (I've always liked to daydream πŸ˜‰). You probably have things you daydream about too. Maybe your dreams include a better relationship with a family member, or a bigger house, or a smaller waistline. 

It doesn't matter if we dream about big things or little things, either way, those dreams won't come true unless we do the work. Whether we want to lose 10 pounds or write a book, dreaming of the day it's done won't make it happen. If it did there wouldn't be an obesity crisis and I'd be the author of about 1000 books by now.
Weekly devotions on Christian living | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Unfortunately, it's a lot easier to dream than it is to actually do the work. But this verse in Proverbs reminds us that unless we do the work, we'll have our fill of poverty. Sure, it may not be financial poverty, but what about relationship poverty or health poverty or even just dream-fulfillment poverty?

It's time for us to stop just dreaming and start putting some work behind those dreams!

June 30, 2017

2017 Mid Year Review

Somehow, while we were busy doing all the many things we do, half a year has slipped by again. How is it possible that the days can seem so very long sometimes, but the months slip by so fast?

Since we are here at the end of June, it's time to take a look back at the goals I set and see how I'm doing with meeting them. This should be interesting...

1. Host another sew-a-long of some kind. I'm not sure what form I want this to take this year, though it probably won't be a mystery. I'd like to try something new 😊

Well, I haven't decided yet if I want to call this one done or not. When I put out the call for quilt blocks to make quilts for the seniors who lost everything in a fire in April, I had no idea the response would be so incredible. Quilters from 9 provinces and 1 territory in Canada, 30+ American states as well as from Australia and the UK sent me blocks, full quilts, binding, batting, backing and even money to help with costs. It's not quite what I meant when I set that goal, but I did leave the type of sew-a-long wide open, and the block drive certainly got a lot of people sewing along together!

(If you've been wondering how the quilts have been going, there will by another update soon, so stay tuned 😊)

2. Start hand quilting my Hexie Flowers quilt. This poor quilt top has been sitting in my cupboard for over a year. I want to hand quilt it, both because I think it would complement the hand stitched EPP and because I find I'm wanting a hand quilting project again. Obviously, this will be a long term project, but I at least want to get it started.

Hand quilting | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

Okay, technically, this one is done. I did start hand quilting it. And then I stopped. I worked on it one evening, stitching around one flower once and part of a second time. I didn't particularly enjoy it and I haven't touched it since. EPP means there are seam allowances on both sides of the seam, so there's really no way to get around stitching through the seam allowance and it just wasn't going well. The quilt is currently sitting in my closet and makes me feel guilty every time I see it, so I think it's time to admit I'm not going to hand quilt it.

Let's officially change this goal to machine quilt my Hexie Flowers quilt before the year is out. We'll see where it stands when I check back in 6 months.

3. Grow my design business. I really enjoy the whole process of designing and writing patterns, and I do a little happy dance every time someone buys one of my patterns. I'd love to do more of that happy dancing in 2017!

Well, there has been some happy dancing going on because of pattern sales, so that's good. I've also started working with some brands as sponsors. Make Modern magazine (affiliate link) sponsored prizes for the Spring into Colour 2017 photo challenge and Northcott Fabrics has sponsored a secret sewing project I'll be starting soon. That feels like a step towards growing my business.

There's still a lot of room for growth, though, so I want to try to focus on this more through the second half of the year.

Want to see what patterns I have available? Check out my pattern store!

4. Keep seeking magazine publication. That's part of growing my design business, but I think it's an important enough part of deserve to be a goal of its own. 

This has been a fun year in terms of having patterns published or accepted for publication, including my first-ever print publication in Modern Patchwork's July/August issue. There will be more coming later in the year, and I'll be sure to keep you posted 😊

5. Share 10 new tutorials or patterns. Since I already have three patterns in the works, it should be completely doable to reach 10 before the end of the year. Especially considering how many ideas I have!

I've shared 2 new tutorials so far, both for new 12" blocks with fun secondary patterns - Connections and Layered Star.
 Connections and Layered Star quilt blocks | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
I've also released 2 patterns - Love Birds and my free Wind Farm pattern, which is available exclusively to subscribers to my newsletter, The Bulletin.
Love Birds and Wind Farm quilt patterns | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

4 of 10 isn't bad for halfway through the year, right?

6. End 2017 with fewer UFOs than I have right now. I have a few projects that were set aside in favour of starting something new and it makes me sad that they're not finished and being used. Time to get them finished up! Without actually digging around in my cupboard, I think I have 7 UFOs (not counting the hexie flowers one). Of course, ending the year with fewer UFOs than I have now will mean I can't keep abandoning projects as the year goes on πŸ˜‰

Nope. I'm not at all on target for this one. The quilts for the seniors kind of took priority over any UFO sewing I might have been doing. We'll see how the second half of the year goes for this goal.

That's where things stand for me so far for the year. It's a mixed bag, but I kind of expected that with the quilts for the seniors being a big and unexpected project, so I'm pleased with where I am so far.

How about you? Do you set yearly goals? And if you do set goals, do you do a mid-year review?

* This post contains an affiliate link, which means if you click the link and then make a purchase I may receive a small commission. This does not affect the price you pay.

June 28, 2017

Pinwheel Whirl in Modern Patchwork

Do you remember this quilt, from my 5 More Things I Learned While Flow Quilting post?
Flow quilting detail | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Well, now that the July/August issue of Modern Patchwork is out, I can finally share the whole quilt with you! Meet Pinwheel Whirl 😊
Pinwheel whirl quilt | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

Pinwheel Whirl quilt | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

Pinwheels have always been one of my favourite quilting blocks, so it was fun to come up with a design that uses two very different pinwheels.
Pinwheel Whirl quilt detail | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
 Pinwheel Whirl quilt detail | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

I love the simplicity of the piecing and just look at all of that negative space! I had so much fun filling it up with flow quilting.

Pinwheel Whirl finishes at 60" x 72". My version was made using Kona graphite, berry, punch, canary and black. I used Aurifil 2610 for the flow quilting and I love how it looks against the Kona berry on the back.
Pinwheel Whirl quilt back | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
This was my first time using this area for a quilt photography shoot, but it definitely won't be my last. It's such a beautiful spot! And I had great photography assistants/quilt holders too 😊
My boys by the river | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Aiden doesn't look very pleased to be having his picture taken, does he?
River | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
River | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
River | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
The July/August issue of Modern Patchwork is available now. It was rather exciting to have my copies arrive as this is my first print publication and, since I usually struggle with my quilt styling and photography, it was fun to see how they styled it (beautifully, I might add).

As always, if you make Pinwheel Whirl, I'd love to see your version, so be sure to tag me on IG (@devotedquilter) or FB (@devotedquilterdesigns) or send pictures to devotedquilter at gmail dot com. I can't wait to see how you interpret the design!

June 26, 2017

Appropriate Words

Devotion for the Week...

Last week, while talking to a 5 year old girl, Nathan used the word stupid. She looked at him, wide-eyed, and said, "You said a bad word!" When he told me the story, I had to explain that many families don't allow little kids to use the word stupid because it's usually used in the context of calling someone names. Apparently he doesn't remember that he wasn't allowed to use the word when he was younger either, lol.

That conversation with Nathan made me think of other times when word choice was an issue with little kids. There was the time we were in our church's Thursday night children's program and Michelle made a mistake during her presentation and said, "Crap." The kids nearly exploded in their shock! Meanwhile, we three leaders were all looking at each other in surprise, thinking, "That's a bad word?" None of us had any issue with the word, but apparently these kids had been taught it was bad.

And when Aiden was in grade 1 he was asked to narrate the kindergarten dramatization of the Christmas story during the school's Christmas concert. The kindergarten student who had been chosen as narrator wouldn't do it because he had been taught that "Jesus" is a curse word and he wouldn't say it.

Of course, there are also instances where the pendulum swings the other way and kids aren't restricted from using any words at all. When Nathan was in grade 1 there was a child in his class who could say whatever he wanted. His language was so bad that Paul had to speak to him one day when he was playing outside with Nathan because Paul couldn't handle the foul language coming from him!

Zach once asked me what makes a bad word bad, and I really had no answer for him. The best I could come up with is that society decides certain words are inappropriate for use in polite conversation. There really is no set standard that applies to all societies for what constitutes bad language.

The Bible, though, does set out a standard for good language. It's not necessarily about particular word choices, but about the content and intent of your words. Consider these verses:

Ephesians 4:29: "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."

Colossians 4:6: "Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." 

Psalm 19:14: "May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer."

What do our words say about us? How do we use our words to talk to others? How do we talk about others? Is our speech helpful for building others up, or are we more likely to tear them down? Is our conversation always full of grace, or full of judgement?

Are we even aware of how we talk? Do we listen to ourselves enough to hear negativity or judgement or condemnation when they come out of our mouths? These are questions worth pondering as we go about our days, chatting with cashiers and friends, waitresses, family members and co-workers.
Weekly devotions on Christian living | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

What pops out of our mouths when we drop something is probably less important that what we say when someone hurts us. And what we say when we stub a toe is probably less important than what we say about the people we work with.

This week, let's try to be sure we're choosing appropriate words.

June 19, 2017

Layered Star - A Free 12" Block

Today's the day for the Summer Block Party blog hop, hosted by Jen at Faith and Fabric! If this is your first time here, welcome! I hope you'll look around a little while you're here. You can find my tutorials under the "Tutorials" tab at the top of the blog and my patterns are all listed under the tab marked "Pattern Store." I share a devotion each Monday and you can find them under the tab "Devotions" (though apparently I haven't updated it in a while...I need to get to work on that!).

And please sign up for my monthly newsletter, The Bulletin. If you do you'll get a copy of my Wind Farm quilt pattern, available exclusively to subscribers. Then, on the 16th of each month, you'll get The Bulletin, where I share news from here on the blog, a family favourite recipe and a themed collection of fun things to make.

And now, without further ado, here is my new block for the block party - Layered Star!
Layered Star quilt block tutorial | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
I like the block by itself, but the fun really comes when you tile blocks together to make a quilt. I love blocks that create a secondary pattern!
Layered Star quilt block | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
I couldn't resist trying a few different colour palettes, too. Blue and grey.
 Layered Star quilt block | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Yellow and grey.
Layered Star quilt block | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
 Yellow, purple and grey.
Layered Star quilt block | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Grey and teal.
Layered Star quilt block | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

And one last one...a Christmas version.
Layered Star quilt block | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

Which version will you make?

Okay, let's get started! First up, you need to download the free PDF, which includes the paper foundations you'll need.


You need 3 fabrics for this block and you want to be sure there is good contrast between them all.

Yellow - 1 square 1 1/2" x 1 1/2"
              2 squares 2 1/2" x 2 1/2"
              4 squares 5" x 5"

Grey - 4 rectangles 2" x 1 1/2"
           2 squares 2 1/2" x 2 1/2"
           8 squares 3" x 3"
           8 rectangles 5 1/2" x 2 1/2"

Blue - 4 squares 5" x 5"
          8 squares 3" x 3"

Layered Star quilt block tutorial | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

Make the Center Shoo Fly Block

Draw a diagonal line on the back of both of the grey 2 1/2" squares. Pair each grey square with a yellow 2 1/2" square, right sides together, and sew 1/4" from the line on both sides. Cut apart on the drawn line and press open. Trim each HST to 2" x 2".

If you'd like a more detailed tutorial for making the HSTs, complete with pictures, check out this post.
 Layered Star quilt block tutorial | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Using the yellow 1 1/2" square, the HSTs and the grey 2" x 1 1/2" rectangles, lay out the Shoo Fly block in a 3 x 3 grid. Join the pieces into rows, then join the rows together.
Layered Star quilt block tutorial | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

Paper Piece Units A and B

Print out 4 copies of the templates. Make sure your printer is set to "Actual size" and then measure to be sure the squares are exactly 4" on a side (4 1/2" if you measure the outer seam allowance line). If you're anything like me, you'll discover your printer barely has enough ink to print out 1 copy, so you'll have to use your fancy lightbox (aka the dining room window) to trace the rest of the templates and add the numbers.
Layered Star quilt block tutorial | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

I like to write on the templates which colour will go where. It helps me keep things straight as I'm paper piecing. Again, if you're anything like me, you'll change your mind right before you start sewing, so just cross out the first option and write in the second 😊
Layered Star quilt block tutorial | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
If you're new to paper piecing, follow this tutorial from Craftsy for the process.

Paper piece 4 of Unit A using the blue 5" squares in the center and the grey 5 1/2" x 2 1/2" rectangles on the sides.

For Unit B, we're going to piece a unit to use for pieces 2/3 and 4/5. Sew a blue 3" square and grey 3" square together to make the pieced unit.
Layered star quilt block tutorial | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

Paper piece 4 of Unit B, using the yellow 5" square in the center and the pieced blue/grey units on the sides. Line up the seam between the blue and grey with the line on the paper as shown, being careful to follow the colour placement note you made earlier.
Layered star quilt block tutorial | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Trim all of the paper pieced units on the printed seam allowance line.

Remove the papers and lay out all of the units in a 3 x 3 grid as shown.
Layered star quilt block tutorial | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Join the units into rows, pinning at the intersections to help things line up. Then join the rows together.

And that's it! You now have a Layered Star block 😊
Layered star quilt block tutorial | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
As always, if you make a Layered Star block, I'd love to see it! You can tag me on Instagram (@devotedquilter) or Facebook (@devotedquilterdesigns), or email me pictures or a link to a blog post (devotedquilter at gmail dot com).

Be sure to check out the rest of the participants in the Summer Block Party and see what great blocks they've shared!

Jen at Faith and Fabric (our lovely hostess!)
Michelle at Michelle Bartholemew
Laura at Slice of Pi Quilts
Amanda at Amanda Jane Textiles
Kathy at Kathy's Kwilts
Jen at Patterns by Jen
Rachel at Rachel Rossi Design

Many thanks to Jen for organizing the blog hop! It's always fun to be part of a hop and see the creativity of other bloggers 😊

Sandal Feet

Devotion for the Week...

The weather has finally made a turn for the better around here and I've started wearing my sandals again. I love wearing my sandals, but sandal feet aren't always the cleanest. This was especially true one day after spending most of the day outside with the kids I babysit and then going for a long walk after they went home. My feet were filthy! And my plans for the evening included basting a quilt made of light coloured fabrics, on my kitchen floor. Basting a throw size quilt on my floor means I will definitely be walking on the quilt since there is very little room to walk around it. My sandal-dirty feet and that quilt were not going to make a good combination!

As I washed my feet, I thought of Jesus washing the disciples' feet and cringed. I really don't like feet. The idea of getting a pedicure holds no appeal for me, because I don't like having my feet touched. Ditto for getting a foot massage. And giving a foot massage? Definitely not going to happen!

Then, that Sunday, my pastor was talking about the importance of serving others and made reference to Jesus washing their feet. He pointed out that not only would their feet have been dust-dirty (like mine were), but they would also have been dirty from walking on roads that were covered in animal droppings. Yuck!! I had never considered that before. I can't even imagine how dirty those feet would have been, can you?

John 13:12-17 says, "When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them."

Thankfully, our culture is different from theirs and I don't actually have to wash people's feet when they come to my home 😊

I've always looked at this passage and mostly paid attention to the idea that 'no servant is greater than his master', and I've taken that to mean that no one is above doing any particular job. No matter how lowly the job, my position is never so exalted that I'm above doing it. Jesus washed feet like a servant, so I'm certainly not above menial work.

These past few days, though, I've been focusing on 'I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you' and thinking about those incredibly dirty, stinky feet. Jesus washed them, and then He said that I should do as He did. So, not only are there no menial jobs that are beneath me, I'm also not excused from jobs I think are gross.

When we think in terms of serving others, we tend to think of using the gifts God gave us. That means we tend to think of serving others by doing things we like doing. But, even if he didn't dislike feet in general, I doubt Jesus liked washing the disciples' disgustingly dirty feet. He still did it though, because it was a job that needed to be done.

Looking around, are there jobs we avoid because they're dirty or gross? Do we try everything we can to get out of doing them? When we can't get out of doing it, do we cringe and complain the whole time? Somehow I doubt Jesus was making faces while washing their feet, or muttering under His breath about it being someone else's job to do it.
Weekly devotions on Christian living | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
According to Jesus' example, serving others means getting in there and doing what needs to be done, even if it's dirty work.

June 12, 2017

Do As I Do

Devotion for the Week...

I'm sure you've heard the phrase "Do as I say, not as I do," right? Maybe you've even said it, or words to the same effect. I remember a few years ago, when Zach had his hair long and he started twirling it absently now and then. I got after him for it and he said, "Why? You do it." Do I ever! I've twirled my hair for as long as I can remember, but I still told him it's a bad habit and one he shouldn't be starting.

I was intrigued recently to read in Paul's letter to the Philippians that he tells them, "Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice" (Philippians 4:9). Whatever you have learned or received or heard, that's what Paul said to them. But or seen in me, that's what Paul did while he was with them. Essentially, he's telling them "Do as I say, and as I do."

That's a pretty daunting thing to think about telling someone, don't you think? Follow my example - treat people the way I treat people, react to problems the way I react, use your time and money as I do, talk about people (or not) like I do...You would think you would have to have control over yourself at all times before you could tell someone else to do as they have seen you do.

Interestingly, though, if you read more of Paul's writings, you will see that he didn't feel he had control over himself all the time. "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do" (Romans 7:15). That I can relate to! Can you?

If Paul found himself not doing the things he knew he should be doing, and doing the things he knew he shouldn't be doing, how could he tell the Philippians to do as they had seen him do? In thinking about that, I remembered a time years ago, before my own kids were born, when I watched a mom interact with her toddler daughter. The daughter was insisting they had brought a particular toy with them and the mom was saying they hadn't and trying to get her daughter to put on her coat to go home, but then the child they were visiting dashed into the play area and came back with the toy. The mom got down on her knees to be at her daughter's level and apologized very sincerely for not believing her. That apology has stuck with me all these years. The mom could have given an offhand, "Oh, I guess we did bring it" and continued getting ready to leave. Instead, she acknowledged she was wrong and that she was sorry. That modeled to her daughter exactly how to behave when you get something wrong.

I think that's why Paul could tell the Philippians to do as he did. Not because he got everything right all the time, but because he was willing to acknowledge when he got things wrong. Being willing to say you're wrong and to ask for forgiveness when necessary requires humility. It also requires a willingness to be honest and real.

The fact is, we're all going to make mistakes. That's not in question. The question is, how do we deal with those mistakes? And what lessons are the people around us learning from how we deal with our imperfections? Are we an example worth following even when we get things wrong?

The other factor in why I think Paul could tell the Philippians to do as he did is that Paul was trying his best to live right. No, he didn't get it right all the time, but he was always aiming to live for Christ. He could encourage them to do as he did because he knew that would mean they would be striving to live for Christ too.
Weekly devotions on Christian living | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

I know I'll never get everything right and so I like knowing that even though Paul knew he made mistakes, his example was (and is!) still worth following.

May we be an example worth following too.

June 05, 2017


Devotion for the Week...

I love to run. Unfortunately, I have an issue in my back that is sometimes made worse by running, especially running on hills. Avoiding hills while trying to run any significant distance around here is not easy. The entire town feels like it's made of hills!

One of the best ways to avoid back problems, as I'm sure you know, is to strengthen the core, and my core was (is!) pathetically weak. So, to remedy that and hopefully protect my back, I started doing a strength DVD workout once a week. The first time through I just kept laughing as the instructor would say something like, "We'll do 15 reps, 5 times through." Yeah, right, we will! I didn't get anywhere near that many reps of any of the exercises, and still I was in agony for days afterwards.

I kept at it, though, every Saturday morning, doing as much as I could, and gradually I started to notice that I had to skip fewer of the sets. I wasn't as sore after each workout either. I even started to see some definition in my arms, which I've never had before in my life! And my back has been mostly good.

Then circumstances and sickness kept me from doing that Saturday morning workout for about a month. I didn't notice any difference in how I felt or how I looked...until the morning I did the workout again. It was a lot harder than it had been before my unintended break, and I was really sore afterwards again.

As I hobbled around with sore legs and abs for a few days, I kept thinking about Paul writing to Timothy and saying, "Train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come" (1 Timothy 4:7,8).

Isn't it interesting how Paul says, train yourself to be godly? I've always thought of it as if some people are just naturally godly and others aren't. Some people are naturally inclined to spend time praying and reading the Bible and others aren't. Some people are naturally resistant to the temptation to gossip and others aren't. But that's rather like saying some people are naturally able to run 5K and others aren't. Yes, some people are able to run 5K without a second thought because they've been running for years. And yes, some people would feel they were going to die if I told them to run 5K right now. But anyone can run 5K if they train for it.

Training yourself means putting effort into it. It means seeing where you want to go and then working to get there. If I want to have stronger muscles, I have to put the effort into exercising. If I want to run 5K, I have to start by running shorter distances and build up my endurance. If I want to have a stronger faith, then I have to put the effort into things that strengthen my relationship with God.

Training isn't always easy. It takes time and effort. And there are plenty of times we give excuses for why we should just take today off. It doesn't matter if we're talking about physical training or spiritual training, we are guaranteed to have days when we just don't feel like it. But, if we want a thing badly enough, we will push through that resistance and continue with the training.
Weekly devotions on Christian living | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

The results of physical training are easy to see, whether it's being able to run without feeling like you're going to die or seeing definition in your muscles. The results of spiritual training may not seem so obvious, but they are there just the same. Things like peace in the midst of hard times, certainty that God is in control no matter what and a character marked by kindness, goodness and love. Those are results worth training for!

How is your spiritual training going?

May 31, 2017

Works in Progress

I feel like I'm working on lots of things, but there's not much to show for it, so I guess that means it's time for a WIP Wednesday post 😊

My WISPs (works in slow progress) are progressing, though true to their name, they're both moving along slowly. As I've mentioned before, I'm joining some of the stars for Scattered Stars, and the piece is now about 18" x 10" at it's widest parts. Trying to keep the stars looking scattered, rather than in regular rows, means joining some interesting shapes together.

EPP Scattered stars | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

When I came across small scraps of this pebble fabric, I couldn't resist making a star out of it. I think this will be the next star I join in.
EPP pebble star | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

My Hexie Rainbow quilt is one round bigger than when I shared it last. Next up will be two rounds of black. I have a bunch of black hexies basted, but I want more, in more prints, so I can mix up the prints a bit, so I'm not ready to start those rounds yet. There's less than a month left of school, so I'm thinking once summer break gets here I'll be able to spend more time handstitching with a cup of tea in the mornings than I can manage right now. Come on, summer!
Hexie rainbow | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

I made three of these adorable 6" churn dashes for a secret sewing project that needs to be sent out near the end of June. I love this Kona jade! I usually go for projects with lots and lots of pieces, but this one is mostly just simple patchwork, and it is coming together really quickly. The rows are sewn together already and I'll soon have a finished top.
Jade churn dash | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
And, of course, the quilts for the seniors are still taking up a lot of time. This week I was invited to drop in on a local sewing group who have been a huge help with joining blocks into tops for this project and I snapped this picture of them. This is just a small portion of the army of quilters near and far who have come together to make this project work.
Sewing group | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

I now have 9 finished quilts in the house and 20 tops ready to be quilted. There are also still blocks bundled together, but not yet sewn as well as tops that are being sewn by others but haven't been returned to me yet. I'm thinking a total of 50 quilts won't be a surprise!

I've gone through all of the donated batting, so I've started using donated money to buy batting. There's no shortage of backing or binding yet, though, so it's just a matter of getting things matched up and given out. This week I'm aiming to give a bunch more out to be quilted so they can move from the 'tops waiting to be quilted' pile into the 'finished quilt' pile 😊It really is amazing to watch these quilts come together!

And, on a non-sewing note, we have some moose who are hanging out around town this year. It's not exactly rare for moose to be seen in town, but they don't usually stick around for so long. These ones have been seen over and over the past couple of weeks, and they don't seem at all concerned about the people around them. While walking with the kids this morning, I was very grateful that moose are herbivores and I didn't need to worry that this guy was looking at me and the 4 littles with me as a tasty snack!
Moose | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

So, that's where things stand around here! What are you working on lately?

May 29, 2017

Be Still

Devotion for the Week...

Being forced to be still drives me batty. Don't get me wrong...I am very good at being lazy when I choose to be. Reading for a couple of hours, scrolling Instagram, reading quilty blog posts or hand stitching in the chair with a cup of tea are all perfect. Sitting in that same chair for two entire days because I just don't have the energy to do anything else? That makes me crazy!

Unfortunately, over the past couple of years I've had a few instances of weird colds that start off with me being stuffed up or having a scratchy throat and then just turn into sheer exhaustion that leaves me unable to do anything but sit. And the whole time I'm sitting my mind is running through all the things I had planned to be getting done that day, and getting more and more frustrated because I can't actually do any of it.

Recently I had one of those forced-to-sit-and-do-nothing weekends and I hated it. While I was sitting there, thinking about how much I hate to be still, though, I thought of the verse that says, "Be still, and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10). 

Being forced to be physically still doesn't guarantee that I'm going to focus on God, though, as evidenced by my to-do list running constantly through my mind as my frustration level mounted. Which is probably why the command in this verse does not necessarily mean a physical stillness, but rather a spiritual one. The original word used for "still" has the connotation of letting something go slack and of not holding it tight anymore.

 Psalm 46 as a whole is about God as our refuge, which is actually how the psalm starts: "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging" (vv. 1-3). The psalm feels to me like a study in contrasts - the trouble and upheaval in this world set opposite the steadiness and constant protection provided by God.

I think that's what God wants us to see when He tells us, "Be still, and know that I am God." It's not that we have to physically sit and do nothing, but that our minds and our spirits can step away from the craziness and upheaval of this world and remember how He provides for us. Remember how He protects us, how He is our safe haven, no matter what is going on in our lives. We can choose to still ourselves spiritually and remember that He is God. Though our world may feel like it is nothing but chaos and confusion, He is our refuge and strength, our ever-present help in whatever trouble we face.

Weekly devotions on Christian living | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

Even while we scratch things off our to-do lists this week, let's choose to be still, spiritually, and focus on Him as our refuge and strength.

May 22, 2017

But I Want It!

Devotion for the Week...

I deal with toddlers all day long. Sometimes when they want to do something, they ask for it over and over and over and over and over..."I want colour." "I want colour." "I want colour." It doesn't matter that I've already said they have to wait until I get the lunch dishes cleared off the table so there's room to colour, they just keep asking and asking as if saying it more often will make it happen sooner.

Or maybe they want a toy someone else already has. "I want phone." "Yes, but it's Fiona's turn." "I want phone." "I heard you, but it's not your turn." "I want phone." "You still have to wait." Saying it over and over won't change the fact that they can't have it yet.

It makes me wonder how often God hears our prayers and answers with "Wait," but we keep asking and asking and asking, as if the more we ask the faster it will happen. How often does He shake His head at our incessant requests for the same thing, all the while knowing that He has answered and we just won't listen?

This question is further complicated by the fact that God wants us to come to Him with our requests, and even encourages us to come repeatedly. Luke 18:1 actually says, "Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up." The parable of the persistent widow tells the story of a widow who came to the home of "a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought" (v. 2) and pleaded with him to "Grant me justice against my adversary" (v. 3). Finally the judge granted her request, not because he wanted to do the right thing, but because the widow kept bothering him (v. 5). The point is not that we can wear God down by constantly asking for what we need, but that we should never give up in asking. 

I think the key here, though, is that the widow was asking for justice against an adversary. She was asking for something she needed. Jesus concluded that parable by saying, "And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly (vv. 7,8). 

When we are asking for something we need, then God will answer and He will do so quickly. But He's not working on our timetable and we are to be persistent in the asking until He meets our need.

But how often are we simply asking for what we want because it will make our lives easier? Never mind the plan God has for us, or how He wants to shape us through the hard times in our lives. We want everything to be easy and pleasant and good. And if it's not the way we want, we pray and pray and pray and pray that God will make it the way we want.

The toddlers I look after have to learn patience. They need to learn to take turns with the toys and they need to learn that the whole world doesn't revolve around what they want. It can be a hard lesson for them to learn. 

We may be adults, but there are times we behave like toddlers, wanting God to let us have our own way all the time. Just as that isn't what is best for toddlers, it isn't what is best for us either.
Weekly devotions on Christian living | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

What if God is saying to us, "Wait. This has to happen first and then you can have that." Or what if He is saying, "This is not the time for you to have this thing you want. You need to learn patience. You have to wait." Or even, "No. There is a lesson for you in this." After all, God didn't remove the thorn in Paul's flesh, but left it there as a reminder that His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:8,9). And Paul stopped asking. 

Maybe we need to stop asking for some things, too.

May 15, 2017

Completly Clean

Devotion for the Week...

I love my dishwasher. We use it constantly, running it pretty much once a day and it saves me tons of time in the kitchen. When Paul and I went away a few weeks ago, my in-laws came to stay with the boys and afterwards one of the boys said to me, "Nana didn't use the dishwasher the whole time she was here!" I think he was in awe, lol.

My mind makes odd connections sometimes, so last week at church when Pastor OJ was speaking, my mind immediately went to my dishwasher. He had just read, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9), and I thought, "Not like the dishwasher!" See, odd connections 😊

As I said, I love my dishwasher. It does a great job cleaning dishes so I don't have to. But there are always some dishes that don't come clean. You know what I mean, right? Those spoons that ended up nested together and there's spaghetti sauce trapped between them. Or the measuring cup that flipped over and now it's full of filthy water.

That doesn't happen when God cleanses us from all unrighteousness. That verse really means all unrighteousness. There are no sins that get missed, none that He doesn't see and cleanse when we confess them to Him.

Again, I love my dishwasher, but there are some dishes I never even bother to put in it because I know they won't come clean. For some reason any spatula or flipper used to cook eggs will not come clean in my dishwasher. The bits of egg just come out more baked on than they were when I put them in. And the gooey, cheesy mess that's left on the serving utensils after we eat lasagne? Not a chance! There's something about that cheesy stuff that just will not come off unless I wash it by hand (even though the pan I cooked the lasagne in comes perfectly clean. Go figure!).

Some of us think there are some sins so bad God can't ever forgive them. Or we think we've been dealing with some sin for so long, there's no way God can take it away. But that's not what this verse says. God isn't like a dishwasher that's capable of dealing with some messes, but not others. He can handle the worst of our sins and remove them from our lives completely.

It's not our job to clean up our lives. Did you see that in the verse? It doesn't say that when I get my act together I will be cleansed of all unrighteousness. And thank God for that! I don't have to make myself perfect. In fact, I can't make myself perfect. But if we are willing to go to God and acknowledge all the ways we have messed up, all the things we have done wrong, then He will take care of all of it. All of it.
 Weekly devotions on Christian living | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
We emerge from that soul cleansing completely clean. There are no baked on sins stuck so tight to us that God couldn't remove them. There are no sins trapped in hard-to-reach places that God couldn't get to. And there are no sins that God just can't remove. Whatever sin we have been dealing with, afraid that God couldn't handle it, we can go to Him boldly and confess that sin, knowing that He can take it away completely.

Think about that the next time you're unloading the dishwasher and some of the dishes aren't quite clean.

May 12, 2017

Quilts for Seniors - Update 2

It's time for another update on where things stand with the quilts for the seniors who lost everything in the fire last month. Packages are still arriving almost every day, though it has definitely slowed down from what it was a week or so ago. I have now had parcels from 9 of the 10 Canadian provinces and 1 of the 3 territories. From the US, I've had parcels from 29 states. And I had one envelope of blocks come all the way from Australia!

Let's see...here are the quilt tops waiting to be quilted.
Stack of quilt tops | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

Here are the blocks waiting to be sorted into bundles of 42, ready to become a quilt top. The shorter pile is blocks that finished smaller than 10 1/2", so I'm going to trim them to 10" and then they'll go together. My plan is to sort a lot of these into bundles this evening. And yes, they are currently hanging out on my dryer 😊
Quilt blocks | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

Here are the bundles I have ready to be assembled. Thanks are certainly due to my friend Michelle for coming over a few nights to help put these bundles together. I've been giving out bundles to people to put together, and I'm having a Sew Day at my church tomorrow afternoon, so there will soon be a lot more quilt tops to add to the pile waiting to be quilted.
Bundles of quilt blocks | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

Binding anyone? Along with all of this ready-to-go binding, I also have stacks of fabric that can be made into binding.
Quilt binding | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

So far I've also given out 6 tops, battings and bindings to people willing to do quilting and binding.
Blue quilt | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
This fabulous blue quilt top and backing have been sent out for quilting.
It is so much fun to see these quilts come together! I hope you're having fun reading the updates, too 😊
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