November 11, 2019

Rules

Devotion for the Week...

My husband's grandparents were devout people and, as was common in their time, were strict about observing a day of rest on Sunday. She would prepare the food for the day ahead of time, often working late on Saturday night to have everything ready. I was amused to learn that sometimes she would set the kitchen clock back a little bit so that when her husband would call out around midnight to say that it was now Sunday, she would reply, "It's still Saturday in the kitchen" and keep working. 😊 It makes me smile whenever I think of it. She followed the rule of not working on Sundays, but she could be a little flexible about it when needed, too.

Over the years there have been plenty of rules for believers, and those rules have sometimes varied wildly depending on denomination or geography. I remember hearing Chuck Swindoll of Insight for Living talk once about an international conference of pastors he attended, where the American pastors were surprised by the German pastors, all of whom drank beer with their meals. The American rules say pastors don't drink beer, but apparently that's not part of the German rules.

Paul wrote to the believers in Colosse, "You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world. So why do you keep on following the rules of the world, such as, “Don’t handle! Don’t taste! Don’t touch!”? Such rules are mere human teachings about things that deteriorate as we use them. These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires" (Colossians 2:20-23).

I love that he calls out the rules that are only designed to make people look religious. These man-made rules have nothing to do with the state of a person's heart, but only with how they act. The two can (and should!) be the same, but they aren't always. A person can put on a good show of following all the right rules, while at the same time their heart is far from God. The Pharisees were a perfect example of this. They had an incredibly long list of rules they followed, yet Jesus spoke most harshly to them, calling them hypocrites, white washed tombs and vipers (Matthew 23:1-36).
It's not the rules we follow that matter, it's our relationship with Jesus | DevotedQuilter.com
Background quilt is Flower Path
It's not the rules we follow that matter, it's our relationship with Jesus. If our relationship with Him is what it should be, then our actions will naturally reflect that. If it's not, then no adherence to man-made rules will make any difference.

November 05, 2019

Flower Path in Make Modern

Flower Path quilt | DevotedQuilter.com
I am excited to finally get to share another quilt with you! Flower Path is in issue 31 of Make Modern magazine, which is now available. Use code '31for6' by November 10th to get it for $6 AUD.
Flower Path quilt | DevotedQuilter.com
The design for this one came about through playing around with an orange peel block in EQ8. I wanted to see what I could come up with if I put the orange peel in some blocks, but not others. I can't remember how long I spent moving those blocks around, but eventually I hit upon this arrangement and I loved it, which of course meant it had to get made 😊

I used Island Batik Foundations fabrics in Cherry and Taxi for the orange peels. The background is called Storm and I love the depth in the different blues.

I used a glue stick to attach the orange peels to the background, then stitched around them with a zig zag stitch in matching Aurifil thread. I used 1135 for the yellow and 2270 for the red. I find I really like using a glue stick rather than fusible web for these simple shapes.

Warm and Natural batting and more Storm for the backing and I had a quilt sandwich ready for quilting. I've been basting all my bigger quilts on the foyer floor at our church when there's nothing going on there and it's so convenient. Lots of space and I'm not in anyone's way like when I baste on our kitchen floor. And, since I'm also the church janitor, I have inside knowledge of when the floor has been freshly mopped 😉

I had a lot of fun quilting the yellow flowers created where the orange peels cross. First, I quilted a circle at the end where they meet, going around a couple of times, before stitching arcs back and forth to the other end of the orange peel.
Flower Path quilt | DevotedQuilter.com
The red orange peels got wishbones, which are one of my favourite designs to stitch. Quick and simple, plus it's easy to fit them into any size shape.
Flower Path quilt | DevotedQuilter.com
Then it was time to quilt the background. First I went around each orange peel, then echoed around them all again. Then I quilted a meander and flower design all over. I tried to quilt big, I really did, but it never seems to work for me, lol.
Flower Path quilt | DevotedQuilter.com
The Aurifil 1135 really shows up on the back! You can just barely make out the 2270, too.
Flower Path quilt | DevotedQuilter.com
Flower Path quilt | DevotedQuilter.com
Pick up your Make Modern issue 31 today. Don't forget that until Sunday, November 10th, you can use code '31for6' to get the issue for only $6 AUD.

November 04, 2019

Let it Snow Table Runner - October Island Batik Ambassador Project

Note, the fabric and other materials used for this project were given to me by Island Batik and their industry partners as part of the Island Batik ambassador program.

I'm a couple of days late with this project, but the Island Batik ambassador challenge for October was to make a seasonal table runner or table topper that featured applique. Here is my Let it Snow table runner/wall hanging (since I don't use table runners at all 😊)
Let it Snow table runner/wall hanging | DevotedQuilter.com
I started by cutting 55 3 ½" squares from the gorgeous blue fabric I had left over after making Paul's blue Sparkler quilt. Sewn together in a 5 x 11 layout, they make a background that is 15" x 33".
Let it Snow table runner/wall hanging | DevotedQuilter.com
Then I raided my kitchen for applique templates. Since I wanted simple circles, there were plenty of options so I could find the right sizes for my snowman. I ended up choosing a small plate, a plastic container and a small mug.
Let it Snow table runner/wall hanging | DevotedQuilter.com
I cut my three circles from Island Batik's Almond fabric, which is one of their Foundations fabrics. I love the small purple dots that remind me of falling snow. I also cut one of each circle from solid white, to put behind the Almond so the blue background wouldn't show through. I then used a glue stick to glue the circles to the background, carefully stacking the white and Almond together. I could have used fusible web, but I didn't have enough and didn't want to bother waiting to get out to buy some.

All of the stitching is done using Aurifil 50 wt thread. I stitched a zig zag around each circle with white (2024). Then, using my free motion foot, I used black (2692) to stitch eyes, a mouth and some buttons. I don't have a bright orange, so I used caramel (2210) for the nose. I used the black to stitch the arms, too, stitching back and forth several times to make them thick enough. In hindsight they would have been more noticeable if I had used brown, but I wasn't about to pick out that mess of stitches to change the colour.
Let it Snow table runner/wall hanging | DevotedQuilter.com
Then it was time for the letters, which are also Almond with a layer of solid white underneath. I used the Harrington font, which is included with Microsoft Word. I really love this font (it's also what I use for the titles on my pattern covers), but it wasn't a great choice for the applique. Something a little chunkier would have been better as I could have stitched a little farther in from the edge.
Let it Snow table runner/wall hanging | DevotedQuilter.com
As it was, I stitched very, very close to the edge and it made those edges fray quite a bit, even though Island Batik fabrics don't generally fray much. I guess when the needle is only a few threads from the edge, the edge can't hold up as well as usual. Lesson learned 😊 I did use the last bits of my Heat 'n' Bond fusible web for the letters as I knew I wasn't up for trying to glue all those fiddly, skinny letters.
Let it Snow table runner/wall hanging | DevotedQuilter.com
Once the applique was finished, I used a scrap of Hobb's 100% cotton batting and an Island Batik print as the backing and basted the runner. Basting something small like a runner goes so fast, lol!

I used very dark navy (2785) for the quilting and started by going around the snowman. I stitched a smidge away from his arms, too, hoping to make them stand out a little more.
Let it Snow table runner/wall hanging | DevotedQuilter.com
Then I quilted the background with intersecting wavy lines and left the snowman unquilted. This Island Batik fabric that I used for the back makes me think of Christmas for some reason, even though there's nothing particularly Christmassy about it. It makes the perfect back for my snowman quilt.
When I came to the letters, I stitched carefully around each one, then continued the wavy lines between them. In order to have the lines intersect, I found myself stitching them much closer together between the letters than I had everywhere else, but I wasn't about to go back and fill in the whole background with even more lines. The quilt still lies flat, even with the somewhat uneven quilting, so that's good enough.

I love how the quilting, plus the two layers of applique, makes the letters really stand out.
Let it Snow table runner/wall hanging | DevotedQuilter.com
Because I don't use table runners, I used some of the backing fabric to make hanging triangles at the top so I can hang the quilt.
Let it Snow table runner/wall hanging | DevotedQuilter.com
Unlike quite a few other places, we haven't had any snow yet. I'm happy to now have a new winter decoration for when the snow does start to fly.
Let it Snow table runner/wall hanging | DevotedQuilter.com
If you'd like to make your own Let it Snow table runner or wall hanging, pin this for later 😊
Let it Snow table runner/wall hanging | DevotedQuilter.com

Too Important?

Devotion for the Week...

In my first few university classes, I was shocked to see how many people were writing in their books. Whether they were underlining key points, making notes in the margins or highlighting entire passages, I looked on in horror. Writing in books feels sacriligious, like a purposeful act of destruction. I have only ever written in a couple of books and they're all cookbooks, where I made a note of how much of each ingredient to use to double the recipe so I don't have to work it out each time. Even making myself do that takes a bit of convincing, lol.*

One of the reasons I don't like writing in books is that I find the next time I read the book I emphasize whatever is underlined or noted. It changes how I read the passage and removes the possibility of me finding new meaning or new understanding. Whatever is underlined becomes the focus and the only possible way of interpreting what is written. That's why my Bible, especially, will never be marked up.

I often read familiar Bible passages and find a new meaning or angle I had never noticed before. It's not because the meaning changes, but because I notice different parts of the story or passage that make me realize something new. And sometimes it's just that a phrase I usually skim over without really noticing it suddenly jumps out at me. We have the Holy Spirit to thank when that happens. Jesus said "When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth" (John 16:13).

Over the summer I had this happen with Galatians 6:3, which says, "If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important." I know I've read them many times before, but this time those last five words made me stop completely. You are not that important. I love the bluntness of it. No matter what position we hold in society, no matter how much money we have or how many responsibilities we have, we are never so important that we no longer have the obligation to help other people.

This shouldn't come as a surprise, considering Jesus is our role model in all things. He certainly never considered Himself too important to help people...not even when it meant leaving Heaven to come to earth or when it was time to face death on a cross for sins He had not committed. He even said explicitly that we are to be servants, just as He was.

When we see a need, we probably never consciously think "I'm too important to help that person." How often, though, do we think something like 'I'm too busy' or 'I need a break right now. Someone else can deal with that'? Both are signs of a feeling of our own importance relative to the importance of the person who needs help.

Now, obviously no one person can help everyone in need around them. There are plenty of times when we legitimately have to take care of our own responsibilities and when we have to take time out to rest and take care of ourselves. But what about the times when we just can't be bothered? Helping someone doesn't need to mean a big commitment of time or money. We probably have little bits of both that we could use to help someone, if only we paid attention to others enough to see the needs.
As God's people, we must remember that we are never so important that we no longer have the obligation to help others | DevotedQuilter.com
Background quilt is my Flower Box mini quilt
The question we have to ask is, are we so focused on our own importance (in our own eyes) that we aren't looking around to really see other people? As I said, Jesus is our role model, and He invariably saw the people He encountered and paused to help them. How closely are we modeling our lives after Him?


*This is not meant as a judgement of you if you mark in your books! It's just my own preference 😊 I know plenty of people find great value in making notes in their books, and especially in their Bibles and I certainly don't think less of them for it.

October 28, 2019

Snack Time

Devotion for the Week...

I love eating crackers for snacks. Crackers with hummus, crackers and cheese or just plain crackers, it doesn't really matter. The problem is, those crackers aren't exactly great for me, especially not in the quantity I like to eat them. I often go for mindless eating, straight from the box, even though I know that's not a good idea.

I also love eating fresh fruit and Greek yogurt, whether together or not. Both of those make great snacks, with the added benefit of not being full of empty calories. I make sure we always have fruit and yogurt in the house.

Unfortunately, I almost always choose some form of cracker rather than the fruit and/or yogurt. No matter how often I think in the morning, 'I'll choose healthy snacks today', I still find myself gravitating towards the satisfying crunch of the crackers. While thinking about this habit a few days ago, I though of Romans 7:14-20, in which Paul says:

"The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.

And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it."

I have always loved this passage for two reasons. First of all, as a writer, I just love the way it's written. There's something about the structure and Paul's word choices that really appeals to me. The biggest reason I love it, though, is Paul's honesty. Here is a man who could easily be held up as an ideal Christian, as someone who never gets it wrong and who lives a life that normal people just can't relate to. He wrote a large chunk of the Bible, after all! But instead, he shows us in this passage that he's no different than we are. He understands what is right and wrong, just as we do. He knows the things he should be doing, just as we do. Even still, he finds himself not doing the things he should and doing the things he shouldn't. Can you relate to that? I know I can, and not only when it comes to choosing my snacks.

Our sinful nature lives right there alongside the Spirit, fighting against how the Spirit wants us to live. Our sinful nature is selfish and wants nothing more than to gratify its every desire. The Holy Spirit, on the other hand, lives inside believers to give us the power to live as God wants us to live, to deny sin and serve Him. "The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions" (Galatians 5:17).
Our sinful nature wants us to do one thing. The Holy Spirit offers another option. Which will we follow? | DevotedQuilter.com
The background is a small portion of the quilting on my Pinwheel Whirl quilt.

Whether I choose an apple or crackers for a snack has no spiritual implications. It really doesn't matter, aside from the extra running I may have to do to keep my weight in check. Giving in to the temptation to gossip does have spiritual implications, though. So does giving in to the temptation to lie to make ourselves look better, or letting anger control our responses or letting our inability to forgive someone create bitterness in our hearts. Those are all things that go against how God wants us to live and they're all opportunities to choose to listen to the Spirit instead of our sinful nature.

Our sinful nature wants us to do one thing. The Holy Spirit presents us with a different option. Which one will we follow?
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