September 25, 2017

Beyond Appearances

Devotion for the Week...

Our middle son, Zachary, who is 13, has had a growth spurt this summer. He went from being just slightly taller than I am to quite noticeably taller. I now have to look up to look him in the eye and he has developed the habit of standing beside me and leaning on my shoulder. We've been hearing a lot of people exclaiming, "Zach sure sprouted up!"

Some of the people saying it are family, but a lot of them have been people from church or teachers at the school or just people we see in the community. They see Zach now and then, so changes in his appearance are obvious, but they don't know him well enough to know about his interest in dangerous animals or that he enjoys cooking and baking. They don't know that he absolutely loves to read and often comes to us saying he needs a new book to read, which is tough when he has read everything appropriate for his age that we own and at our local library.

It's probably the same with many of us. We know the people around us well enough to see how they change in appearance, but we don't often go beyond appearances to really get to know them. Thinking about this lately has made me wonder if there's a problem there, at least as far as the church is concerned.

Jesus told his disciples "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" (John 13:34,35).

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples.

If you stop to think about it, there's a lot of consider in that one little phrase. By this, meaning by the love we show to one another within the church, everyone, both inside and outside the church, will know that we are His disciples. Which means that the love we show to one another is proof that we are disciples of Jesus.
Weekly devotions on Christian living | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Which begs the question: Can I truly love someone if I know almost nothing about them? Unfortunately, I am guilty of knowing the names of the people who attend our church, but not knowing anything else about them, with the exception of a few friends.

I have nothing against the rest of the church, and I would help them if I knew they needed something, but that's not quite the same as loving them, is it? That could more accurately be described as neighbourly-indifference, and I don't think that's what Jesus meant when He said, "As I have loved you."

I think Jesus meant something a little deeper, something that goes beyond appearances and chit chat about the weather. And I think I need to work a little harder on it. What about you?

September 21, 2017

Quilter's Connection Magazine

Back when I made the call for blocks to make quilts for the seniors displaced by the fire, a woman named Heather contacted me about doing an interview about the project for Quilter's Connection magazine. I had never heard of the magazine before, but I enjoyed my interview with Heather and she assured me she'd send me a copy when the issue came out.

Well, it arrived a few days ago and it is such a beautiful magazine!
Quilter's Connection magazine | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Quilter's Connection magazine | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
There are several beautiful projects in the magazine, including a quilt made with zippers (intriguing, right?) and profiles of a few Canadian quilters to watch. Quilter's Connection comes out four times a year and you can preview the current issue here.

This is not an affiliate post, I just wanted to share the magazine since I figured that if I had never heard of it before, you may not have either. The tag line says "For Canadian Quilters," but it's definitely worth checking out even if you're not Canadian 😉

Head on over to their website for more information, to buy an issue or to subscribe.

September 18, 2017

His Breath

Devotion for the Week...

There's a song I love called "Great Are You, Lord", and the chorus says:

It's Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise
We pour out our praise
It's Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise to You only.

In an interview, one of the writers of the song said that the song was inspired in part by Ezekial 37:4-10, where Ezekial sees a valley full of dry bones and God asks Him if those bones could live. Ezekial responds by saying, "I have no idea! Only you know that, God!" (in the Devoted Quilter translation, anyway), and then we have the verses that inspired the song:

"Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”

So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.

Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army."

It's a beautiful picture, isn't it? God gives us the breath in our lungs and we then use that breath to praise Him, but when I was singing this song recently, I couldn't help thinking about all the other ways we use the breath He gives us.

What comes out of our mouths doesn't always sound like praise, does it? In fact, James 3:7-10 says, "All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be."

Now, most of us probably aren't calling down curses on the people who annoy us, but just think about the things we say when we talk about them. Actually, just think about the fact that we talk about the ways they annoy us. That in itself probably isn't speech that could be considered praise!

And what about when we're frustrated because something isn't the way we want it to be? This could be anything from the weather that's not cooperating with our plans to the bank account that won't grow the way we want to the toddler who just will not listen. No matter what our words may be in those situations, the tone of voice certainly doesn't convey praise, does it? And I'm sure we all know that tone of voice is at least as important as the actual words being said.

If we want to use the breath God gives us to pour out our praise, then we need to be aware of what we're saying (and how we're saying it) all the time, not only when we're actively focused on God. What we say matters. After all, "the mouth speaks what the heart is full of" (Luke 6:45). 
Weekly devotions on Christian living | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com #christian #devotion
Paying attention to what we say may reveal attitudes that need fixing, so our whole lives can become expressions of praise to God.

September 13, 2017

Leaders and Enders

I'm pretty sporadic when it comes to making leaders and enders, but over the past couple of years I've still managed to accumulate a few hundred of these colour-coordinated 4 patch blocks.
4 patch blocks | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
They're made from 1 1/2" squares that I cut from my scraps as I cut for other projects. Since I want to actually use them, not just fill baggies in my sewing cupboard, I designed a throw size quilt that features the 4 patches as the center of the blocks. The quilt will be in Make Modern in January, so only sneak peeks for now 😊
Quilt block | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
It was great to start putting these blocks together and already have those centers ready to go!

I still have a lot of 4 patches left...enough to make at least 2 more of these quilts, so I don't feel like making more of them right now. I'll still cut the squares, though. It's a great way to use up those little scraps and have them ready to be used for something. And I'll likely use some of the remaining 4 patches to make another version of this quilt with a white, or at least much lighter, background. It's always fun to see how changing the background changes the whole look of a quilt.

But what to use for leaders and enders now? Well, I've also spent the past couple of years cutting scraps into 2 7/8" squares for HSTs and just sticking them in a bag in the cupboard.
Squares | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
The plan is to use them to make this quilt, Scrappy Triangles, designed by Jean Nolte.
Scrappy Triangles by Jean Nolte | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
I even thought to write the magazine issue the quilt is in on the outside of the bag I store them in so I could find it again easily. For the record, it's in Love of Quilting, Nov/Dec 2011, which means I've been cutting these squares for almost 6 years 😝 Obviously I haven't been overly diligent about cutting!

I haven't counted my squares, but I know I don't have enough for the whole quilt. I can definitely make a lot of HSTs, though, so there's no reason not to get started. Besides, the way I make leaders and enders, this will take a long time anyway 😊 That'll give me plenty of time to cut more squares.

For now, since I'm using black thread to sew my black blocks together, I'm choosing dark squares that are black, or pretty close to it, so the thread won't show.
HSTs | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
According to the pattern, I need 864 light/dark HSTS. So far I have...
HSTs | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
HSTs | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
8! It's a start, right?

Do you make leaders and enders? If you do, what blocks do you like to make most and what do you like to make with them?

September 11, 2017

Planning

Devotion for the Week...

This is what my Quilter's Planner looked like over the summer.
Quilter's Planner | http://quiltersplanner.com/product/2018-quilters-planner/?affil=101389
This is what it looked like last week.
Quilter's Planner | http://quiltersplanner.com/product/2018-quilters-planner/?affil=101389
Ignore the blotted out spots...I jotted down a couple of phone numbers 
It's not that there was nothing that needed to be done over the summer, but it was vacation time and I was very much in the "it'll get done when it gets done" mode. I could do a little here and a little there whenever I felt like it.

Now, though, I'm babysitting four 1-3 year olds full time so my available time to do anything productive is rather limited. That means I have to schedule it in and actually make myself (try) to follow through on my plans. I have to admit, I don't always get everything done, but crossing things off feels really good 😊 And for some strange reason, I actually like seeing the column for each day filled with tasks, with all intentions of being super-productive. I may even be guilty of over-planning in my enthusiasm, writing down more things than I could possibly ever accomplish in the time I have available, as evidenced by the not-crossed-off things on last week's list.

Then I wake up on Saturday morning and there's no water. So much for my plans to clean the bathroom, workout and then shower! Since I knew this would be today's devotion, I was rather amused by how the lack of water hijacked my plans for the day, while at the same time that I was annoyed because I couldn't get done what I wanted to.

"Now listen, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.' Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that" (James 4:13-15).

You do not even know what will happen tomorrow. How true is that? No matter how hard we wish it, we cannot see into the future to know if we will have the health to pursue the plans we're making, or if we'll still be living in the same place or if we'll still be alive then. We don't even know if our water will be flowing through our taps when we wake in the morning!

If it is the Lord's will...My plans have a tendency to be all about my will. They reveal what I want to accomplish, where I want to be a year from now, the work that I want to be doing. Can you relate? I often have to remind myself to step back and ask if what I'm planning is God's will for me or not.
Weekly devotions on Christian living | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com  #christian #devotion
Of course, this doesn't mean that we shouldn't make plans, either in the short-term or the long-term. It means that we try to remember that our plans are really in God's hands. We acknowledge that His will must prevail and we must be ready and willing to adjust our plans to fulfill His plans.

That's not always easy, especially if we're attached to our plans and dreams, but it is the best way to be sure that we are living the lives God has planned for us. And you can be sure His plan is the best one!

September 07, 2017

TGIFF - Divided in Quilty Magazine

Welcome to TGIFF! This has been the first week back to work and school for us and it has made the week feel like it has flown by at super speed. Here are the boys on their first day of school. Zach is now in grade 8, Aiden is in grade 10 (senior high!) and Nathan is in grade 4.
First day of school | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Back in early December I made a throw quilt for Quilty magazine in 9 days. 9! It was crazy, considering I was also working full time and most of my quilts take me at least weeks, if not months, to finish. However, deadlines can be very motivating, so 9 days after the fabric arrived in the mail, I had it finished and quickly got it ready and put the finished quilt back in the mail.

But I didn't take a picture of it.

Whomp, whomp, whomp.

Now, though, the quilt is in the September/October issue of Quilty, so I have a picture to show you (by taking a picture of my copy, lol!) 😊 Meet Divided...
Divided in Quilty magazine | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
This quilt was inspired by a man who visited our church to speak. His shirt had an orange peel-like design, with the button placket in a different print altogether, making for a really stark division between the two sides of the shirt. I hardly heard a word he said because I kept staring at his shirt and trying to envision how I could turn it into a quilt design!

All of the fabric for this quilt was provided by the Me + You division of Hoffman Fabrics. The background is one of their Indah solids and the prints are all from the Indah batiks line. I have to say I loved the feel of the fabrics and I will definitely want to use them again.

Thanks to this quilt, I now know I can make a quilt in 9 days, though I hope not to make a habit of it.

What have you finished this week (or many weeks ago, but now you can share it)? Link up below and be sure to visit some of the other links to celebrate their finishes with them 😊



September 03, 2017

Adaptation

Devotion for the Week...

As I mentioned last week, I love knowing the names of the wildflowers I see and to that end I just bought another book about Newfoundland's wildflowers and ferns. The book includes a short section that describes the various habitats that exist on the island (limestone barrens, wetlands, coastline, etc), all of which have different challenges and advantages for plants. For example, plants that live along the coastline have to deal with salt spray, which would be deadly to most plants because the salt would make them dry out.

Of course, there are plants growing along the coastline, including some plants that grow right on the beaches. Those plants are able to survive in that salty environment because they have a feature that protects them from drying out; for example, they may have a waxy coating that protects the leaves. Without that coating on the leaves the plant would struggle to survive.

Thinking about how different plants adapt to different growing conditions made me think of my favourite flower when we lived in Igloolik, which is a small island in Nunavut. The arctic has a really short summer and plants have to be hardy to survive. Dwarf fireweed is a gorgeous purple-pink flower that grows like a carpet all over the place. It lines the sides of the runways, making for a beautiful display when you come in for a landing.

The summer after we moved to Newfoundland, we were driving one day and I noticed the roadside was covered in tall purple flowers. When we stopped I was delighted to see it was a tall version of the dwarf fireweed I had loved so much in Igloolik. It makes me smile when I see it every summer, both because it's a beautiful flower and because it reminds me of our time in Igloolik.

The fireweed that grows in the arctic is a dwarf version of the fireweed that grows here because the summer doesn't give plants time to grow that tall in the north. Dwarf fireweed has adapted to quickly reach its full height and produce flowers so it can produce seeds before the short summer is over. It's the only way the plant can thrive in a less-than-ideal environment.

Spiritually speaking, we are also living in an environment that is less than ideal. I don't mean the world around us (though it certainly has less than ideal elements). I'm actually thinking of our human nature. There are a few elements of our human nature that make it less than ideal for us to survive and thrive as Christians.

First of all, our human nature is selfish. It wants to have all of our needs and wants met, regardless of how meeting them may negatively impact us or others. Just think about how a toddler reacts when told 'no' and you get a picture of our human nature in action. Sure, our parents mostly trained that out of us (hopefully), but there's no denying that basic selfishness stays in some form or another.

Second, our human nature is focused on 'now' and has trouble making decisions based on the future. This plays out in a lot of ways, from not being able to control eating because we want that dessert now, even though we also want the smaller waistline later, to not being able to control our spending because we want to buy something now, even though we also want to save for the proverbial rainy day.

Put those two elements together and we have a recipe for disaster, everything from marital affairs to stealing from employers to gossip can be traced back to these elements of our human nature. And Christians aren't immune to these problems. Paul wrote, " 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 sinful human nature has a tight grip on us and it can be hard to live contrary to it.

Thankfully, we have an adaptation that God has given us as Christians to help us survive and thrive even though we are living with this human nature. That adaptation is the Holy Spirit living inside of each of us.

Jesus told us, "the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you." (John 14:26). God knew what we would need to survive. He knew that we would need constant reminding to live His way, not the way that would come naturally to us.

Knowing us, knowing our human nature and what we would need to live as Christians thriving despite our human nature, He gave us the Holy Spirit, living within us to speak up when we are tempted to say or do something we shouldn't. The Holy Spirit is the One who reminds us that there is a better way to live. The Holy Spirit is also the One who reminds us of God's grace when we make mistakes and need His forgiveness.
Weekly devotions on Christian living | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Living with our sinful nature is certainly less than ideal, but with the Holy Spirit we can definitely survive and thrive as God intends.
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