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
14!!

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 😊

May 08, 2017

Deceptive and Fleeting

Devotion for the Week...

Have you ever heard someone read a passage and not bother pausing for the punctuation, so everything just ran together like one big, long sentence? Sometimes when that happens you can miss some of the nuances that are in what you are hearing because you're not hearing the proper pauses, which can certainly affect the meaning.

Consider this section of Proverbs 31:

Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate (vv. 28-31).

For ages I thought the husband was speaking about his wife from 'many women' to 'city gate.' It was as if the husband were saying to his wife "Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all, so it's okay you're not charming and you've lost all your beauty." What?? What husband would say something like that to his wife? Especially as praise?! It wasn't until I finally read the verses for myself that I noticed the quotation marks that ended the husband's words after he tells his wife that she surpasses them all. Okay, then, that's much better!

Once I realized they weren't some husband's weird idea of a compliment, I found these couple of verses much more interesting 😊 I find it especially interesting that charm and beauty are set opposite "a woman who fears that Lord."

Charm is deceptive. I'm sure we've all known people who are so kind and sweet one minute and then completely nasty the next, as if someone flipped a switch. These people can pour on the charm thick as honey when it suits their needs, but it means absolutely nothing because it's just an act. They have decided, either consciously or not, that pretending to be kind and friendly is the best way to get ahead, but their true nature shows through when they think they can get away with it.

Beauty is fleeting. Oh, how true! Have you ever seen a decades-old picture of someone you have only known as a senior? How often do we say something like 'she was a real beauty in her day' or 'he was so handsome when he was young'?

I remember seeing a cartoon years ago that showed an older couple on the beach, both rather overweight, and a young 20-something walking past, gorgeous in her bikini. The older woman laments to her husband, "I'll never look like that again" to which the husband replies, "That's okay, dear. Neither will she." What a wise man!

But a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. It's not that a woman who fears the Lord can't be charming or beautiful, but rather that those things are not truly praise-worthy. Charm and beauty are only superficial. A fear of the Lord runs deep into our character and impacts everything of who we are.

Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate. A person's fear of the Lord will flow out into their actions. A woman who fears the Lord will show it by all she does and those actions will inevitably be noticed by others. In Bible times, the city gates were where the elders of the town gathered to conduct important business, so this verse is saying that what is done by those who fear the Lord is worthy of praise even by those who are in authority. 
Weekly devotions on Christian living | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

All of which should make us pause and think. When we come up in conversation, what good do people have to say about us? Is it only about superficial things, or are their words of praise for our actions, which flow from our love for God?

May 04, 2017

TGIFF - Mix it Up! in Make Modern

Welcome to TGIFF! I'm not sure how we're at the end of the first week of May already, but the calendar tells me that's where we are 😊

I'm excited to finally get to share my Mix it Up! mini quilt. It's in the latest issue of Make Modern magazine, which was just released today. They've also included a lovely profile of me in this issue, for which I am incredibly honoured.
Mix it up mini quilt | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
I had fun turning the traditional orange peel block into a colour play wall quilt. I chose blue, yellow and green, but you could mix red and blue for purple, red and white for pink...there are so many possibilities!
Mix it up mini quilt | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

This is my second quilt using black to create a faux border (the first one is my Love Birds quilt). I love how it frames the quilt. It could also be interesting to try the same idea with a different colour, so I don't think this is the last time you'll see the faux border.

I thought for days about how to quilt the solid grey background. I considered flow quilting, but had just finished a heavily-quilted project (which I still can't show you), so I wasn't really in the mood for that. I considered a swirl-hook design, but that just didn't feel right either...this went on and on and on. Finally, with the deadline approaching, I echo quilted around one set of orange peels and then sat staring at the machine for a moment, needing to just make the decision and Get. It. Done. Already! And that's when I thought of matchstick quilting and I'm so glad I did. I love how it looks! It adds interest while still allowing the orange peels to be the focus.
Mix it up mini quilt | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Isn't that texture fantastic? I don't think there's an actual straight line in the whole quilt, but they look straight from a distance, so that's all that matters 😉
Mix it up mini quilt | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Mix it Up! finishes at 36" square and is made with machine applique orange peels. It would be fun in prints or solids and there's lots of negative space for quilting, if you can decide what to fill it with!

Now I can't wait to see what you've finished lately 😊 Link it up and then don't forget to visit and comment on some of the other links. It's more fun when we all celebrate finishes together!



May 02, 2017

7 Tips for Organizing a Block Drive

Most of your probably know by now about my block drive to make quilts for the seniors who were displaced by the fire in April. I have been overwhelmed by the response to my request for help!! Quilters are truly the most generous people in the world and I am so honoured to call you all friends.

I made the request for blocks barely 24 hours after deciding to go ahead with it and there are a few things I have learned since then. So, if you are considering organizing a block drive, here are 7 things I would tell you.
7 tips for organizing a quilt block drive | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

1. Be prepared to spend a lot of time on your phone or computer.


In the first 24 hours after making my request, I could hardly keep up with the emails and comments on my blog, Facebook and Instagram. It was insane! In a good way, but still, it was crazy. After those first 24 hours it slowed down some, but even a week later there were still plenty of messages for me to answer.

I chose to keep my mailing address private, rather than publishing it on my blog and social media, which meant a lot of the messages were simply asking where to send the blocks. You could choose to do differently, which would save a lot of computer time, but I wasn't comfortable with having my address public like that.

2. People will offer a lot more than what you asked for. Be clear on what you want.


I wasn't expecting so many people to offer things I hadn't even thought about. Could they send me money so I could purchase batting locally rather than them shipping it to me? Could they make entire quilts themselves? Did I want them to make the binding, and if so, what size? Did I want these blocks that were already made, and were an entirely different size from what I was requesting?

I made all of these decisions on the fly, answering each question as it was first presented to me. Knowing what you want ahead of time will take some of the stress out of those questions.

 

3. Choose a simple block and a lot of people will get on board.


Aside from people's natural desire to help seniors in need, I think the simplicity of the block I chose really encouraged people to join in, especially since it wasn't intimidating for new quilters. And those who made blocks often made more than they set out to make. It was such a quick and simple block that people said they just kept making more and more of them. A more complicated block might not have encouraged that same enthusiasm during the making.

4. Banish the quilt police.


Unless you're very specific, not everyone will use the same quality fabric you would use. In fact, some people may even use fabric that wouldn't fit your definition of "quilting fabric." It will all sew together, though, so as long as it looks machine washable, don't worry about it.

If you're getting blocks from a lot of different people, you can bet there will be size issues. It's unavoidable, but it doesn't have to be a big problem. In my case, the blocks that turned out smaller than they were supposed to have been grouped together. Sewing them all together means I don't have to worry so much about making them fit with the blocks that are the proper size, and I still get to use everyone's contribution. As for the blocks that are too big, they'll just get trimmed to size.

5. Be clear on where you live. 


This is one thing I didn't do, but certainly should have. If you're posting your request for blocks on your blog or social media, chances are it will be seen by people in other countries. Being clear on which country you live in will help avoid people making blocks or offering other help and then either being shocked by the cost of shipping to you or not being able to afford to send it at all.


6. Ask for help.


Once the blocks start rolling in, there's a lot of work to be done assembling them into tops, quilting them and putting the binding on. If you're organizing the block drive with a guild then you have built-in help. If you're not part of a guild, though, be sure to put out a call for help from other local quilters. In my case, that has included reaching out to longarmers who might be willing to help with the quilting. You can be sure they'll be a lot faster on their longarms than I could ever be on my domestic machine.

If you have access to a space, a sew-day is a great way to get people involved and get a lot of work done quickly.

 

7. Prepare to be overwhelmed by generosity.


Before putting out this request for blocks, I knew quilters were generous. I saw the flags made for Boston, the quilts for Pulse, the quilts for Dallas and the quilts for Fort McMurray. But I think you can't ever understand just how incredibly generous people are until you're on the receiving end of it. You can't understand until you are the one fielding all the offers of help and seeing the stacks and stacks (and stacks!) of envelopes arriving in your mail. You won't really understand, but I'm saying it here anyway. No matter what the cause, or how many blocks you are asking for, be prepared for quilters to go way above and beyond what you need in their willingness to help you as you aim to bless others. Quilters really are the best people!


I hope these tips help 😊 Good luck with your block drive!

May 01, 2017

Hard Days to Come

Devotion for the Week...

We really like it when things are going well for us, don't we? Not only that, but we make a point of trying to avoid situations that we know aren't going to go well for us. It's human nature to consider our safety and comfort. It's human nature to look out for the safety and comfort of those we care about, too, and if we know of something bad that is going to happen to someone else, we warn them to stay out of that situation.

We see exactly that happening in Acts 21. Paul and his traveling companions are in Ceasarea when "a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. Coming over to [them], he took Paul’s belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, “The Holy Spirit says, ‘In this way the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.’"
 
"When [they] heard this...the people there pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem" (Acts 21:10-12).

Sent by the Holy Spirit, Agabus comes and tells Paul that the Jewish leaders will arrest him and hand him over to the authorities. Hearing that, everyone there tries to convince Paul not to go anywhere near Jerusalem, just as we would do if we heard that one of our friends were to be imprisoned. 

Does Paul listen to their arguments and stay away from Jerusalem? Not exactly. "Then Paul answered, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus" (v. 13). There was no hesitation on Paul's part, no plan to avoid the hard times that were ahead for him. In fact, he was determined to head straight for those hard times, believing they were exactly what God had planned for him.

Now, there are those who think Paul was being disobedient at this point and that Agabus came to tell him not to go to Jerusalem. There are others who think Agabus came only to tell Paul what to expect, not to tell him to stay away. Obviously, I can't tell you for certain who is right, but I tend to agree with those who think Paul was right to go to Jerusalem, mostly because Jesus appeared to Paul after his arrest and said, "Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome" (Acts 23:11). That doesn't sound to me like Jesus was condemning Paul for being disobedient, but rather like He was simply filling Paul in on the next part of the plan. It's kind of like when Agabus came to tell Paul he'd be arrested, but this time Jesus appeared to Paul Himself rather than sending a prophet.

I don't think Paul actually wanted to be arrested, anymore than I would want to be arrested. We all want to avoid going through hard times and I don't think Paul looked forward to his imprisonment. But he was still willing to go to Jerusalem, even knowing that he would be arrested when he got there, all because he was convinced it was part of God's plan.

Bad things happen in every life, even the lives of God's people. And it's entirely possible that some of those bad things are actually God's plan for us, intended to further His kingdom in some way. Just look at what Paul had to say about the effect of his imprisonment:

"Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear" (Philippians 1:12-14). What an attitude he had! Rather than whining and complaining about being in chains, he told everyone about Jesus. He watched the palace guard and noticed the effect his words had on them. He listened to stories about other believers who were daring to speak out more boldly and he celebrated that his chains were helping to spread the word about Jesus!
Weekly devotions on Christian living | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

I don't know about you, but I have a tendency to focus on myself and my comfort. I'm not so good at looking to see how God might be using my discomfort or my pain to reach others for His kingdom. I certainly have a thing or two to learn from Paul.

What about you? What is your attitude during hard times?

April 26, 2017

Quilt for Seniors - Update

Checking the mail is like Christmas morning around here lately! Blocks have started rolling in for the quilts for the seniors displaced by the fire a couple of weeks ago, along with battings and fabric for backing and binding.

This incredible stack of 301 blocks all arrived on one day!
Donated quilt blocks | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
This gorgeous quilt top arrived the same day.
Donated quilt top | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Not counting the complete top, I now have 634 blocks in my possession, with many, many more on the way. I have been completely amazed by everyone's generosity! I will have more blocks than I need for the 21 residents of the home, but that's okay. I'll just keep making and donating quilts until I run out of blocks! However, if this is your first time hearing about the block drive, I don't need more blocks, lol 😁

I've started grouping blocks together to make tops. 42 blocks per quilt, in a 6x7 layout that just fits on my kitchen table if I overlap the blocks. I'm trying not to stress too much over this part of the process. We all know it would be possible to spend an hour or more rearranging and switching out blocks for each quilt, but I don't want to spend that much time on each one. The goal is a pleasing scrappy arrangement, not a perfect one!

42 quilt blocks | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
I'm really enjoying looking closely at each of the blocks and especially enjoying when I come across a fabric that I have in my own stash. And I'm finding plenty of fabrics I wish were in my stash! It's also fun to see the eclectic mix of traditional and modern prints, novelty prints, batiks, reproduction prints...you name it, I probably have some of it in these blocks!

I will have help sewing the tops together (thankfully!) so for now I'm just creating bundles of 42. That way I can either give them to someone to take home and sew or I can take them to the sew-day I'm planning to have at our church in May.
Bundles of 42 quilt blocks | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
 Once again, quilters have proven themselves to be wonderful, generous people. I am so happy to be part of such a fantastic community! I'll be sure to share more updates as the quilts start coming together 😊

April 24, 2017

Continually

Devotion for the Week...

I know of a young mom-to-be who has "cervical problems," as it was described to me. That, of course, means there is the potential of complications to the pregnancy. Since hearing about this, mom-to-be and baby have been weighing heavily on my mind.

Sometimes I pray what I would consider a "proper" prayer for them, a prayer where I am focused on talking to God and I pray in full sentences that make sense. It's the kind of prayer that could be considered part of a conversation.

Other times mom-to-be pops into my head while I'm in the midst of something and my prayer sounds more like "Please, God." No context, no complete sentences, nothing more than the vaguest of requests. But God knows exactly what I'm thinking and what I'm asking for. Psalm 139 says, "You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely" (Psalm 139:1-4). I find it comforting to know that God knows what I mean when all I have time for is one or two words in prayer, don't you?

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." Other versions say "pray without ceasing." On the other hand, Paul wrote in 2 Thessalonians that one of his guiding philosophies was "The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat" (2 Thessalonians 3:10). Nowhere in the Bible are we told that we are to do nothing by pray. We are to be working hard, serving God and others, earning the food we eat, even while we are also praying continually. You would think the two are contradictory, but they are not.

In fact, I think my "Please, God" prayers are exactly what He means when He tells us to pray continually. Not that we need big, long "proper" prayers all the time, but that prayer is a natural extension of our everyday thoughts. Praying continually means that when something pops into my head I can pray about it then and there, no matter what else I'm doing, or where I am or who else is around. No matter how brief my thoughts might be, God is always there and always paying attention, ready to listen and understanding exactly what I am thinking.
Weekly devotions on Christian living | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

There is definitely a time for proper prayers. Definitely a time for sitting and spending time with God while not in the midst of doing anything else. But praying continually opens my mind to the fact that God is always with me. 

Praying continually means the lines of communication are always open, even when I have work to do.

April 20, 2017

You Know You're a Quilter If...

I've done a few things recently that made me kind of laugh at myself and think "that's the quilter in me coming out," so I thought I'd share my thoughts on our quilter idiosyncracies 😊


You Know You're a Quilter If... | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

How many times have I done this? I'm barely even finished congratulating the person telling me their news and already I'm trying to decide which quilt pattern will best fit the situation. Or I'm wondering if I should design something especially for them. Or I know exactly what quilt to make, but I'm planning out possible colour combinations.


You Know You're a Quilter If... | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

My mother-in-law watched me fold a load of laundry a few months ago and commented that she would iron all of those T-shirts before she put them away. I just laughed. Iron clothes? That doesn't happen around here unless someone is going to wear the clothes that day. I'm certainly not ironing anything that's being put away before being worn. And yet my iron is in such heavy use that it stays out on the counter all the time, lol.


You Know You're a Quilter If... | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

This was me on our recent trip, except I had left my phone at the hotel so I actually made Paul take the picture 😊 I couldn't let the opportunity pass by, it was a great hexagon design! Which reminds me, I should probably get him to give me the picture...Oh, and my X Marks the Spot mini quilt pattern was inspired by a manhole cover. You can see the picture I took of it in this post.


You Know You're a Quilter If... | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

Even just a day out of town means I have to stock my Sew Together bag for EPP, since any trip out of town requires quite a bit of driving time. And I always take way more than I need, because I really wouldn't want to run out of things to work on!


You Know You're a Quilter If... | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

To me, this seems like such an easy gift to buy. Go into the fabric store, pick any of the pretty fabrics and it will be perfect. Any fabric would get used eventually, right? And since I could easily spend $100 every time I set foot in the fabric store, I know there's a lot there I want, lol. But I've been told (by my non-quilting husband) that buying fabric is hard. That doesn't stop me from always wanting fabric for gifts, though 😊


Those are my 5 ways to know you're a quilter, but what did I miss? How would you finish the sentence "You know you're a quilter if..."?

April 17, 2017

He Didn't Save Himself

Devotion for the Week...

Happy Easter! I hope you had a beautiful Easter weekend, complete with chocolate 😊 Here in Newfoundland, our spring break is always the week following Easter, so it's great to be able to relax a bit this week. There will hopefully be an abundance of sewing happening too!

In the accounts of the crucifixion, I noticed that Jesus was mocked several times by people who said to Him, "Save yourself." Mark 15:29-32 says, "Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself!” In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Then Luke 23:39 says, "One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”

It's obvious to me that none of these people actually expected Jesus to be able to get Himself down off the cross and avoid death. Instead, they all fully believed that He couldn't, and when He didn't save Himself it simply served as further proof to them that He wasn't anyone special. After all, why would the Son of God, the Messiah, allow Himself to be treated so cruelly? Why would the Son of God, the Messiah, allow Himself to be killed? Wouldn't that just destroy whatever plans He had for saving Israel?

They completely misunderstood what was happening that day, even those who had worked so hard to make it happen. Jesus didn't want to save Himself. Yes, He probably desperately wanted the pain to stop, but He had in fact chosen the cross. He had chosen to suffer and die. Everything was going according to plan and saving Himself would have defeated His purpose.

You see, He didn't want to save Himself because He was in the process of saving you and me and all of those who would ever believe in Him as Savior. He couldn't save us if He saved Himself.

The writer of the book of Hebrews wrote, "For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12:2). What was the joy set before Him that allowed Him to endure the cross? We were. Isn't that an amazing thought? Our salvation, an eternity with us, that was the joy that He anticipated that gave Him the strength to endure the pain of the cross.


Weekly devotions on Christian living | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Saving Himself from the pain of the cross and the pain of death would have put a stop to His suffering for a time. But saving us from the slavery of sin put a stop to our separation from God for all eternity.

Jesus could have saved Himself. He chose to save us instead.

April 12, 2017

Block Drive for Seniors Displaced by Fire

**Edited - Quilters are amazing!! I cannot even express how blown away I have been by the response to this request for blocks. I have had so many blocks offered already that I have to stop accepting new offers. I can't believe I'm saying that after only a couple of days 😊 If you have already offered blocks, please do make and send them, but if this is your first time seeing this request, then I don't need more offers of blocks. I am still accepting offers of batting and backing, though, so you could contribute those if you want/are able to. I can't wait to see what my mail is going to look like for the next few weeks!



If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen my pictures last week of the senior's home across the road from us that caught fire. Thankfully the fire started while the residents were having supper so they were all in the dining room, which made the evacuation very quick and simple. Unfortunately, the fire completely destroyed the home.
All of the 21 residents have now either been placed in other care facilities or they are staying with family for a while. Because of the fire they have lost all of their belongings.

Thanks to a suggestion from Laura (Slice of Pi Quilts) I have decided to organize a block drive to make a quilt for each of the residents. I've never done anything like this before, so I'm a little nervous about how it will all go, but I'm trusting in the love and generosity of the quilting community to help me make this work 😊 After talking with one of the women in charge of the home, my aim is to make a 60" x 70" throw for each person. Each quilt will require 42 blocks, which makes for a total of 882 blocks needed. Blocks can be made in any colour combination.

We will also be needing donations of batting and backing (70" x 80" for both) as well as fabric for binding (1/2 yard for each quilt or 10 1/2 yards total). Also, any Newfoundlanders reading who own a longarm and would be willing to help with the quilting, please let me know!

The Block


In an attempt to keep things simple, I'm asking for a simple bordered square block, finishing at 10". Choosing fabrics with good contrast will make for the best blocks. Of the residents living in the home 6 were men, so we definitely need some masculine-looking blocks.
Bordered square quilt block | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

Cut


From fabric 1 - 1 square 6 1/2" x 6 1/2"
From fabric 2 - 2 rectangles 2 1/2" x 6 1/2"
                     - 2 rectangles 2 1/2" x 10 1/2"

* Edited - Some people have asked if it would be okay to use a 5" square for the middle...that will be fine, as long as the finished square is 10 1/2".

Bordered square quilt block | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

Assemble the Block


Add a 2 1/2" x 6 1/2" piece to both sides of the 6 1/2" square.
Bordered square quilt block | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

Then add the remaining 2 1/2" x 10 1/2" pieces to the top and bottom.
Bordered square quilt block | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

And that's it! Easy, right? I don't know why I've never made a quilt from this block before, but I'm really looking forward to seeing how all of these quilts will turn out.

Here's the second block I made. The colour is a little off in this picture for some reason...that solid fabric is actually a lovely soft yellow.
Bordered square quilt block | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

Mailing Your Block(s)


Because we want to get these quilts to the residents as quickly as possible, please mail your blocks  by May 1st. Email me (devotedquilter at gmail dot com) for my address when you are ready to mail. That will also help me keep track of how many blocks are heading my way 😊

Thank you so much for helping me bring a little comfort and love to these 21 people!

April 11, 2017

A New Baby Seat

This is now my third time making this genius roll-up baby chair from Canadian Living magazine. You can see Judah's version, but apparently I never blogged about Isaac's version. The recipient of this latest seat hasn't been born yet, so it's for 'Baby Kirby' for now.

The only change I make to the pattern is to add 3" to the top because I found Judah's seat was just a bit too short for some chairs. With the added length I'm fairly certain this seat will fit on almost any dining room chair.
Roll-up baby chair | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
It doesn't look like much when it's not in use, does it? Since there are no babies in my house anymore, Nathan's big teddy bear agreed to stand in as a model 😊
Roll-up baby chair | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
It is one of the most brilliant things I've ever come across and it's simple to make, which is a real bonus. How many times do parents go somewhere with baby and there's nowhere for baby to sit at the table so you end up holding the baby the whole time? Now, with this seat stashed in the diaper bag, it's easy to give baby his own seat and make everyone happy!

Here's what it looks like from the back of the chair.
roll-up baby chair | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
And here it is all opened up.
roll-up baby chair | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
The plane fabric is just too cute, isn't it? It's from Camelot Fabrics and it's called "Take Flight." I just had to do a loopy-stipple quilting to go along with the smoke trails behind the planes.
loopy-stipple free motion quilting | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
The seat folds up really small and the bias tape ties can even keep it all tied together.
roll-up baby chair | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
How I wish I had one of these when my boys were small! Next best thing, I'll just keep giving baby seats as shower gifts 😊 What is your go-to baby gift?

April 10, 2017

Passport

Devotion for the Week...

When Paul and I came back from our trip to the States, we had to go through Canadian customs in the Toronto airport. Looking at the other people in the line, I noticed that together we represented a bunch of different ethnicities and backgrounds. Despite how different we all looked, though, there was no question about any of us being allowed into Canada because we were all carrying Canadian passports. That little government-issued document identified all of us as being welcome to enter this country because we belong here.

Paul checked his bag multiple times before we left to be sure we had the passports because without them we wouldn't get out of Canada or get back in. Those documents are the proof of our identity and we absolutely had to have them.

I am a Canadian citizen by birth, but that only accounts for my physical citizenship. According to Philippians 3:20, my spiritual citizenship is a different matter. Paul wrote, "But our citizenship is in heaven." He also wrote, "For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins" (Colossians 1:13,14).

Our physical citizenship is important, obviously, but it has nothing to do with allowing us into heaven. God will never look at whether we were Canadian or American or Australian or Indian or whatever. When it comes to gaining entry into eternal life with Him, only our spiritual citizenship will matter.

My Canadian citizenship was automatically given to me at birth. Our heavenly citizenship was also given to us automatically, at the moment of our spiritual birth into the family of God. As soon as we believed in Jesus as our Savior, we became citizens of heaven, welcome to enter God's 'country' because we belong there. Isn't that a beautiful thought?

We even have a passport to show our citizenship! "And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory" (Ephesians 1:13,14). Our heavenly passport is not a document, but the Holy Spirit living in us is proof that we belong to God's kingdom.
Weekly devotions on Christian living | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

It doesn't matter what we look like, where we came from or how different our backgrounds may be, if we have the Holy Spirit then we will be welcome into heaven. In fact, the Bible tells us specifically that all of the nations of the world will be represented in heaven: "After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb" (Revelation 7:9,10).

We'll have come from everywhere, but on that day we'll all be carrying the same passport and praising the same Lord.

April 07, 2017

The Beginning of the Rainbow

If you are here from The Needle and Thread Network, welcome! It's great to have you visit and I hope you'll stay for a while 😊 In the navigation bar just up there 👆 you can find links to my weekly devotions, my tutorials and my pattern shop, so feel free to explore. Sign up for my newsletter, too. On the 16th of each month, I send out The Bulletin, with links to new content here along with one of my favourite recipes and links to fun things to make.

Paul and I had a very interesting trip to Massachusetts last week to see Casting Crowns. It was my first time ever running through an airport trying to make a connection (we didn't make it) and all I could think as we were running was "I'm glad we've been running at home or we'd never be able to do this!" 😃😃😃

The concert itself was fantastic and I really hope to get to see them again someday. Maybe not when winter/spring weather will be able to interfere so much with our travel plans, though!

The first thing I packed for our trip was my Sew Together Bag full of EPP supplies, of course. I had lots of stars and grey diamonds for my Scattered Stars quilt, but I didn't end up working on that at all. Instead, I basted a bunch of red hexies so I could start sewing together my Hexie Rainbow quilt. Because everyone needs two long term EPP projects on the go at once, right?

This is where I'm heading with this Hexie Rainbow quilt...
Hexie Rainbow quilt | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

1661 1" hexies to make a throw size quilt. Whew!

And this is what I have sewn together so far...
Hexie rainbow start | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

19 hexies. Haha!

I have more basted, though. All of the red ones are basted for the next round, plus another 114, some in all of the other colours I need. Which still leaves me with almost 1500 left to go, lol!

It's strange, but I definitely prefer working with hexagons rather than diamonds. I don't know what difference the shape makes, since I'm sewing along a straight side with either shape and the diamonds are no more difficult to work with than the hexagons. Weird, I know. I won't be giving up on my Scattered Stars quilt, though, as I really like where it's going, even if I didn't work on it this trip.

If you do EPP, do you have a shape you prefer?


Before I go, did you know that Craftsy is having a class sale this weekend? From April 7th - 9th, Craftsy's top classes are $19.99 or less, so be sure to check them out!*

Whatever you're working on, I hope you have a great weekend!



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

April 03, 2017

What is Sticking to You?


Devotion for the week:

A couple of weeks ago, I led our church's women's group in a craft where we dipped plain white mugs into water with a coating of nail polish on the top. I made these two.
nail polish mugs | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
You can watch the video tutorial I used here. It's pretty amazing how the nail polish sticks to the surface of the mug and changes its look.

Dipping those mugs got me to thinking "what is sticking to you?" Obviously, I'm not thinking about the literal nail polish you may have sticking to your nails or the food colouring I sometimes have on my fingers 😊 I mean it figuratively - what sort of things are sticking to our minds and hearts?

In 1 Corinthians 15:33 Paul wrote, "Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character." Paul was writing about people who said there is no resurrection. He was warning the Corinthians to guard themselves against such 'bad company' because those errors and wrong thinking could rub off.

This is probably one of the most famous Bible verses, known even to those who know nothing else about the Bible. It's used by parents to warn their kids not to associate with certain other kids, ones the parents feel would be a bad influence. I wonder if it was used that way even in Paul's day.

The principle of it is pretty simple. Hang out with wise, moral people and you are more likely to become or continue to be a wise, moral person yourself. Hang out with foolish people, with those who steal or cheat or lie and you are more likely to eventually find yourself exhibiting those behaviors too. With Paul's use of it in relation to beliefs, we can understand how hanging out with those who believe the truth as shown in the Bible would be preferable to hanging out with those whose beliefs contradict it.

Back in Paul's day, the company a person kept was pretty easy to keep track of. It was the actual people in your life, the ones you saw at home or work or around the community. While they probably couldn't always choose their company, at least it was obvious. Nowadays, though, things are a little more complex. Yes, we still physically keep company with people in our home, workplace and community, but we keep company with so many others too. Sometimes we don't even realize we are keeping company with people because they are not physically there with us.

With us or not, though, we can certainly be influenced by the shows and movies we watch, by the books we read and by the people we follow on social media. What messages are sticking to us from those sources? Do those messages line up with what God says in His word? Are we allowing errors and wrong thinking to creep into our own beliefs? Are there ideas sticking to us that are completely contrary to how God wants us to live?

Strangely enough, as I was thinking about this devotion, I couldn't get away from the thought that the company we keep also includes ourselves. Are there times when what we tell ourselves just doesn't line up with the truth? Times when we tell ourselves that God could never forgive us for ____, or that we shouldn't bother praying about something because it's too small to be worth His time, or too big for Him to fix? Times when we tell ourselves He can't really love us because we're too sinful/stupid or unworthy in some other way? Tell yourself those things often enough and they'll start to stick in your heart, regardless of the truth.
Weekly devotions on Christian living | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

Generally speaking, we can't see what is sticking to us very easily. We're just not good at that kind of self-awareness most of the time. Thankfully, there is a solution. David wrote, "Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting" (Psalm 139:23,24). God knows everything about us, including the errors and wrong thinking we have taken on from others and the ones we've been telling ourselves. If we allow Him, He will show us those sticky things that need to be removed and the truths that should replace them.

March 27, 2017

Distracted

Devotion for the Week...

Do you have a prayer warrior in your life? My mother-in-law certainly qualifies. I know that she spends regular time in prayer, that she prays for specific people at specific times of the day, and that she has huge faith in the power of prayer. Paul once joked that if you ever want something to happen, all you have to do is ask Mom to pray about it!

Sadly, I could not be described as a prayer warrior. I do certainly believe in the power of prayer, but I have a hard time committing to a set time to pray. And when I do settle in to pray for a while, it's not long before my mind wanders off in all kinds of unproductive directions. I end up feeling frustrated with myself and feeling like I'm not very good at praying, which seems like it should be the most simple and basic of things to do.

Do you ever have trouble staying focused when you pray? If you do, it turns out you and I are not alone. Acts 10:9-16 says,

"About noon...Peter went up on the roof to pray. He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds. Then a voice told him, 'Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.'

'Surely not, Lord!' Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”

The voice spoke to him a second time, 'Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.'

This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven."

Did you see the moment Peter got distracted in the middle of his prayer time? 

'He became hungry and wanted something to eat'. The Message renders that sentence as "Peter got hungry and started thinking about lunch." Isn't that great? Even Peter sometimes had trouble keeping his mind focused on prayer 😊

God knows us, right? He knows everything about us, including Peter's, and my, tendency to get distracted while praying. But He doesn't condemn us for it! While I get frustrated with myself and sometimes feel like I'm somehow less successful as a Christian because I can't stay focused on prayer, God actually used Peter's distraction to serve His purpose.

Peter was hungry and thinking about food, so God showed him a vision of a blanket full of animals Peter would never dream of eating and told him to go kill something and eat it. In parenting and childcare, this sort of thing would be considered a 'teachable moment'...using some everyday thing that's happening to teach the child an important lesson. In this case, God made use of Peter's thoughts about food to teach him an important lesson about faith in Jesus.

The vision God gave Peter doesn't actually have anything to do with food, that was just the everyday thing God used to teach Peter. He was preparing Peter to go to the home of a Gentile man and teach him about Jesus, even though Jews normally wouldn't associate with Gentiles at all. God used the analogy of 'unclean' food to teach Peter that no group of people would be considered 'unclean' anymore. Anyone would be welcome to come to Jesus, regardless of their race or background.
Weekly devotions on Christian living | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

Obviously this doesn't mean we shouldn't try to stay focused when we're praying, but it does mean that we can stop feeling bad when our minds wander. God knows it happens. And maybe sometimes He'll even use those moments of distraction to serve His purpose.

March 23, 2017

Starting to Join My Scattered Stars

As you may have guessed from the title of the post, I've started to join my EPP stars 😉
EPP Scattered Stars | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
The plan is not to join these in regular rows, but instead they'll be scattered across the quilt with different sized spaces between the stars. I think it will be rather improv-like as I piece it together. I just hope it looks as good in reality as it does in my head! Since I don't have any idea how big this will end up, I may still make more stars as I go to add to the 100-some I have now. We'll see how it looks as I go.

I had planned on using two or three different grey solids to join the stars, but then I saw this mottled grey in my stash and realized it would be perfect with the solid grey I had already started basting into diamonds. Unfortunately, I only have scraps of the mottled grey left, but I think I can get more soon.

EPP Diamonds | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
The solid grey is, I think, Kona Graphite. If not, then it's a Northcott solid that is almost identical to Graphite. Either way, it has become my favourite neutral. Everything seems to pop against that grey!

Paul and I are going away next weekend (!) which will involve two days flying and hanging out in airports, so I'm hoping to make considerable progress on my EPP. This is still definitely a WISP, but I'm happy to be moving on to the next stage of it 😊

What are you working on this week?

March 20, 2017

Relief

Devotion for the Week...

I'm starting this one with a warning...this may fall into the realm of Too Much Information, so feel free to click away if you're uncomfortable. I won't be offended. Also, the vast majority of my readers are women, but if you are male and squeamish about talk of menstruation, you may not want to read any farther 😊

Still here? Great! Let's go!

I seem to have reached an age when my previously predictable monthly cycle has started to go a bit haywire. Specifically, I am now spotting almost every day, which is annoying as I'm sure you can imagine. It has, however, made me think a lot about one of the women in the Bible, known only as 'the bleeding woman'.

Her brief story is in Luke 8:43-48:

And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.

Who touched me?” Jesus asked.

When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.”
  
But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.” 

Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed.  

Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”


Obviously, we don't know much about this woman; no name or family information or anything. We only know that she had been bleeding for 12 years and that no one could heal her.

The law states, in Leviticus 15:19-23, that during her period a woman is unclean. Anything she lays or sits on is unclean. Anyone who touches anything she lays or sits on will be unclean. And anyone who touches her will be unclean. Then, in verses 25-27 it says that if a woman has any discharge of blood that continues beyond her regular period all the regular rules still apply until the bleeding stops for 7 consecutive days.

 For me, this spotting-almost-every-day thing is annoying. It's irritating. But that's about it. For her it would have been truly, horrendously awful. 

No one could touch her without becoming ceremonially unclean. For 12 years. Can you even imagine how lonely that must have made her? What would it be like to go even 1 month without a single hug, or pat on the back or even so much as a fist bump?

No one could heal her, the Bible says. I wonder how many people she had been to for help. I wonder how much money she had spent trying new treatments and if she had given up hope.

Now picture her in a crowd of people, looking at a man they say can heal any disease. She's not supposed to touch Him, but she has tried everything else and He is her last hope. So she reaches out her hand and touches his clothing, believing that even just that much contact will be enough to stop the bleeding. And it worked! Immediately she knew that the bleeding had stopped.

But Jesus knew that power had left Him. He stopped and asked who touched Him. Imagine how scared she must have been. She wasn't supposed to touch Him. Obviously she tried to stay quiet and hoped He'd just shrug it off and move on, since Jesus had to insist that someone had touched Him, but eventually she had to come forward and tell her story in front of that whole crowd.

Was there a sharp intake of breath from the crowd when she admitted that she, an unclean woman, had touched Him? Could she feel judgement from people who thought she had done wrong? We don't know, because the Bible doesn't say. 

What I love, though, is that it does tell us that there was no judgement from Jesus.

Jesus didn't care about keeping up appearances. He didn't care about following rules that made it harder to actually help people. He healed people on the Sabbath, even after being told off by the religious leaders for doing work when they felt He shouldn't have. And when this unfortunate woman admitted to touching Him, He simply commended her for her faith and told her to go in peace.

She could have let fear of condemnation and judgement hold her back. She could have stayed and just watched Him walk by. She could have continued on as she was, bound by her bleeding. But instead she reached out and touched the only One who could heal her.

What about us? Are there things we're avoiding bringing to Jesus because we're afraid He'll condemn us? Our uncleanness is not a physical or ceremonial thing, but there can be times when we avoid God because we're ashamed of what we've said/thought/done. We can come to Him freely, though, certain that there will be no judgement or condemnation, only acceptance and forgiveness. "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death" (Romans 8:1,2). Jesus went to the cross to take all of our sins. All of them. Even the ones we don't want to talk about, or the ones we think He can't ever forgive us for. He can handle it all. In fact, He already has. 
Weekly devotions on Christian living | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

We simply have to come to Him in faith and He will take away our uncleanness, giving us the same relief He gave the bleeding woman so long ago.
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