October 02, 2023


 Devotion for the week…

About two or three times a week I bake with the childcare littles. Our specialties are muffins, banana cake, and brownies. Mostly I choose things we have to stir, rather than things that require a mixer, because they love getting to stir. The little one I bake with these days always comments on the batter getting gooey as we stir in the wet ingredients. Of course, they have all loved getting to eat a few chocolate chips when we’re finished!

Baking with them is what came to mind recently when I read Matthew 16:18: "Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it." That struck me because it’s Jesus who is building the church. It’s His project. We get confused and think it’s our project, but really we’re more like the toddlers helping to stir. He could do the work entirely by Himself, and it would be easier and more efficient if He did, but for some reason He chooses to let us help. 

Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:20 that "we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, 'Come back to God!'" Calling other people to come back to God is our primary task in this church-building project.

When we're baking, sometimes the littles stir a bit too enthusiastically (aka hard and/or fast), and I have to remind them to "stir gently, so it all stays in the bowl." Nathan, who has heard me say that to them quite often, made a mess with something recently, laughed, and said, "I guess I should have stirred gently so it all stayed in the bowl!" I wonder how often God looks at us, interacting with the people around us, and wants to say, "Speak gently, so you don’t make a mess with your words!" How often are we a little too rough, and our words do more harm than good? Or how often does He wish we would just slow down before we speak? 
As His ambassadors, our words impact how people view God | DevotedQuilter.com
As His ambassadors, our words (both the actual words and how we say them) impact how people view God. If that's not enough to make us slow down and speak gently, I don't know what is!

September 29, 2023

My First Quilt with Amanda Brown

It's time for another My First Quilt interview today! I love reading these stories about how our fellow quilters got started as quilters. This month we get to learn about how Amanda Brown made her first quilt. I had to steal Amanda's own words from her website, Fabric Heart, to introduce her, because they're just so good: "Colour enthusiast, Quilting Pro, Floral lover, Pattern Designer, Creative Speaker, Sewing Educator and Expert Snacker. Amanda is all that and a bag of chips." (Side note, is "all that and a bag of chips" a Canadian thing? Or do people say that in other places, too?) 
My First Quilt with Amanda Brown | DevotedQuilter.com
You can connect with Amanda at her website, on Instagram, and on TikTok

Now, without further ado, here is Amanda's first quilt. Isn't it pretty???
My First Quilt with Amanda Brown | DevotedQuilter.com

What year did you make your first quilt? What prompted you to make it?

2010. I went to a local quilt shop (Algonquin Sewing, Petawawa Ontario) looking for fabric to make some sort of blanket for my baby who was going to arrive in 2011.  I knew how to sew but not anything too fancy. I don't remember what I was planning to make at all but it certainly was not a quilt. 

When I walked into the shop they had quilts hanging all over the place. I saw a quilt and instantly fell in love. I commented to the employee that I love the quilt and they said they could make a quilt kit for me. I laughed and said I had no clue how to make a quilt. I was in luck! They could teach me how to make a quilt.

 They had a drop in sew time where you would come with your machine and work on any project you wanted. The staff were available to help anyone with questions. It was great because I got to see so many different projects being worked on. All the people sewing were quick to jump in and help. It was a really supportive way to learn all about quilting. 

To be clear, this first quilt was for me. Forget the baby, I wanted that quilt for myself. The second quilt was theirs. 
My First Quilt with Amanda Brown | DevotedQuilter.com
Here's Amanda's first quilt being used by her first born 😊

What techniques were used in that first quilt? Did you quilt it yourself?

This quilt was pretty straight forward which was great. To me it looked super complicated but it really wasn't. A lot of repetition which allowed me to really practice. 

When it came time to quilt it the store employees said the timing was perfect! They were having a free motion quilting class the next weekend and I should definitely join in. I was sewing on my grandma's vintage singer and it certainly did not come with a free motion foot. We found a foot that would work with it and they showed me how to remove my feed dogs. This class was so much fun! We were all laughing at our beginner attempts. By the end of the class I felt ready to tackle quilting my own quilt. 

Side note: I had watched someone quilting their quilt and I laughed and said (in my head, I'm nice like that) "what a waste of time" . Why would anyone spend time just sewing over the top of this pretty quilt. I soon found out that there was a reason we did this and that it can really add so much more to the quilt design. 

My teachers told me all about the basting process but kicked me out of the store while they did it for me. They told me its suppose to be safe but they weren't taking any chances with my unborn baby. I then went all in and did some stitch in the ditch and some free motion quilting. I was so pleased with how it turned out. 

Weeks later I was showing it off at the shop and someone commented at how hard the free motion technique is and they have never been brave enough. Many years later I realized just how much of a gift this wise women have given me. Everything we do for the first time is strange and will probably be imperfect. Free motion quilting isn't hard but it does require a lot of practice. These women were so wise and presented this technique without whispering a word about how some people fear this technique. They taught me to jump in and just have fun! 
My First Quilt with Amanda Brown | DevotedQuilter.com

Who taught you to make the quilt?

I was taught by the owner and the staff members of Algonquin Sewing. However, I wish I had discovered my love for quilting earlier in my life. My grandma made quilts and I love the ones she made. I like to think she would be so proud of my quilts. It's surprising how bright and colourful her quilts are compared to other quilts made in the same era. I think she was a modern quilter before her time. Making my first quilts on her machine did make me feel very connected to her. 
My First Quilt with Amanda Brown | DevotedQuilter.com

Are the colours you chose for your first quilt ones you would still choose today?

I may choose similar colours but I would probably choose fabrics with a different design on them. The shop I was in was more traditional and after this quilt I ended up shopping for fabric online to get the colours and patterns I was drawn too. I'm so thankful that quilt shop was fully supportive of me bringing in fabric from other places. They still got tons of my business on machines, tools, batting etc. 

At this point I didn't even know there were different types of quilting but I did know I needed to follow my heart on colours and fabric choices. 
My First Quilt with Amanda Brown | DevotedQuilter.com

Did you fall in love with quilting right away? Or was there a gap between making the first quilt and the next one?

I fell so hard in love with quilting. It was a moment where I felt like I had finally found my thing. By the time I my baby was one I was designing my own quilts and selling them. Baby would sleep and I would sew! She's grown up surrounded by fabric and her first steps were when she picked up some fabric and started throwing it around in excitement. 
My First Quilt with Amanda Brown | DevotedQuilter.com

Where is the quilt now?

My first quilt is in our living room, ready to be used at any moment. We have carted it to parks and beaches. It's been part of many blanket forts and has comforted many during summer storms. It has magic safety protection from lightening and thunder. It's so precious in my heart but with every mark and stain we know more love has been added to it.

Is there anything you wish you could go back and tell yourself as you made that first quilt?

I don't think so. The whole experience really gave me a great start in quilting. I'm not the type of person who worries about things being perfect and I've always embraced all parts of the journey. 
My First Quilt with Amanda Brown | DevotedQuilter.com

Anything else you want to share about your first quilt?

When I'm making a quilt from a pattern I often challenge myself to make it my own. I change up the layout or the colour scheme. Since I'm a creative person I feel like it is cheating to make the quilt as written with the fabrics as presented. 

Then I remind myself, there is a time to spread your wings and there is a time to just settle in and enjoy the journey someone else created for you. I'm not even sure why this quilt caught my eye but it sparked something in my heart. I wonder sometimes if I would have loved it as much if I had changed up the fabrics. Would I still be quilting today if I did?

So if you are a person who identifies with the idea of cheating if you make a quilt as presented please use this as permission to let yourself follow someone else's lead every so often. 

Thank you, Amanda, for sharing your beautiful first quilt with us! I love that it is always ready for use ❤

September 25, 2023

A Different Kind of Yeast

Devotion for the week...

After I started writing the 2-part series about Matthew 13:33, which compares the Kingdom of Heaven to the yeast a woman uses to make bread, I also read Matthew 16:6, which says, "Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees." Of course, the word yeast practically jumped off the page at me, asking to be added as an accompanying devotion.

For a bit of context, Jesus and His disciples had just crossed a lake, and then the disciples discovered they didn't have any bread. Jesus issued His warning about the yeast of the Pharisees, and the disciples thought He was disappointed in them for forgetting the bread, so they started arguing among themselves about who should have remembered the bread.

(Side note - do you ever feel like the disciples? Missing the point entirely even though they were spending their days right there walking and talking with Jesus? If anything could prove that God wants to use ordinary, unremarkable people for His work, it's the men Jesus chose as His disciples!)

Jesus may have been tempted to roll His eyes at them as they argued (is rolling your eyes at people who just don't get it sinful? If not, maybe He actually did roll His eyes). He reminded them about the times he fed huge crowds of people with just a little food, and even had leftovers, then said, "Why can’t you understand that I’m not talking about bread? So again I say, 'Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.'

"Then at last they understood that he wasn’t speaking about the yeast in bread, but about the deceptive teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees" (vv. 11-12).

Jesus had harsh words for these groups of religious leaders. In Matthew 23 alone, He said they "crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden" (v. 4); they wouldn't go into the Kingdom of Heaven (v. 13); they "ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith (v. 23); that they were "filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence" (v. 25); and that they were like "whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity. Outwardly [they] look like righteous people, but inwardly [their] hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness" (vv/ 27-28). Yikes! That doesn't sound like anything I want to be!

If they were so awful, why did Jesus even have to warn the disciples about their teaching? Shouldn't it have been obvious how wrong they were? Not necessarily! Remember, it was deceptive, which is another word for misleading. In other words, their teaching sounded like truth, but wasn't.

For example, Jesus quoted one thing the Pharisees taught: "You say it is all right for people to say to their parents, 'Sorry, I can’t help you. For I have vowed to give to God what I would have given to you'" (Matthew 15: 5). Giving to God sounds like the right thing to do, doesn't it? Yet Jesus reprimanded them, saying, "In this way, you say they don’t need to honor their parents. And so you cancel the word of God for the sake of your own tradition. You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote, 'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God'" (vv. 6-9).

Do you see the deception in that last verse? They teach man-made ideas as commands from God. 

The Pharisees were a strict religious group. This wasn't a group of people denying God or trying to get as far from Him as they could. Unfortunately, instead of their focus being on God, it was on their own rules for doing everything the 'proper' way. They had taken their eyes off Him and put the focus on themselves, meaning they completely missed the mark. Then they taught others to follow their rules, leading them astray, too.

Jesus told the disciples (and, by extension, us) to beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees, to be wary of their teaching. How do we do that?
the best defense we have against deceptive teaching is to know the Bible | DevotedQuilter.com
As always, the best defense we have against deceptive teaching is to know the Bible. If we regularly read the Bible ourselves then we'll be able to spot the differences when someone starts teaching man-made ideas that don't quite line up with God's word. If we don't know His word, we won't be able to separate fact from fiction, and we'll be susceptible to whatever man-made ideas people teach.