December 31, 2013

Christmas Crows

Happy New Year to all of you! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. We certainly did here, including some fantastic church programs, a visit from Paul's parents over Christmas and lots of family time.

Can you believe I gave all the gifts I made for Christmas without taking a single picture of any of them? I certainly wasn't thinking ahead to when I could actually post about those creations, was I? However, thanks to the wonders of email, I can finally share the present I made my Mom.
Foundation paper pieced crow pillow |
This fabulous crow was designed by Kristy at Quiet Play and as soon as I saw it I knew I needed to make it for Mom. Actually, I knew I had to make 4 of them.
 Why? Well, Mom and three other women meet for lunch once a month. They all used to work in the same mall years ago and have stayed friends through this monthly lunch. They call themselves 'The Old Crows" and give each other crow-themed gifts. So those three pillows with the red tags are for the other 'Old Crows' and the fourth is for Mom.

Thankfully, the crows went together easily, though Kristy did warn me that the feet are 'fiddly.' No kidding! There are 11 tiny pieces in just one section to make one foot! Crazy, but so worth it. Thanks, Kristy, for another great pattern.

Now I can't wait for Mom's next Crow's Day so she can deliver the other three pillows to their owners.

This is my last finish for the last quarter of the Finish-a-Long for 2013. You can find my list here. There are two projects on the list that are not finished, but I added them to the list fully expecting not to actually finish them, but hoping I could get to them. Oh well, the link-up for the first quarter of the Finish-a-Long for 2014 will open soon. Those projects will be on the list again, and with higher priority this time!

I'll share about the other gifts I made, including my very first dresden plate, as soon as I can arrange to take some pictures.

December 30, 2013

Jude's Doxology

Devotion for the Week...

Can you believe this is the last Monday of 2013? I know we say it all the time, but the older I get the faster the years seem to go by. I said that to my dad a few months ago and he told me his father used to say the same thing, and now Dad understands it a little better each year.

I read the book of Jude a few weeks ago and I thought the Doxology at the end seemed like a fitting way to end off my devotions for the year. This is how Jude ended his brief letter:

"To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy - to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen" (Jude 24, 25).

There is so much in these two verses!

To him who is able to keep you from falling - What a wonderful promise this is. When we rely on God's power rather than our own, when we focus on His plan for us rather than what we think is best, then He is able to keep us from falling into sin. It is when we rely only on ourselves that we have no power to resist the temptation to sin.

...and to present you before his glorious presence without fault - I don't know about you, but I am far from without fault! Though I try to be a good person, the inescapable truth is that even the best people still do wrong. We cannot do differently. It is human nature. Only through faith in Jesus as our Savior can we be presented before a holy and glorious God as people without fault.

...and with great joy - Can you even begin to imagine the joy that will be ours when we stand before God? I doubt our wildest imaginings even come close. What amazes me is that God will also feel joy when we stand before Him. the only God our Savior - The Creator of all life, Creator of the entire universe, God Himself provided the way for our salvation. Knowing that we could never redeem ourselves, Jesus came to be our Savior and that salvation is available to anyone who believes in Him. glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord - Though we glorify sports figures and celebrities, though we use the term majesty to refer to royalty or mountains, though leaders the world over exert power and authority over their people, in reality all glory, majesty, power and authority belong solely to God.

...before all ages, now and forevermore! - Through all time, and all eternity, God never changes. All glory, majesty, power and authority have always belonged to Him and always will.

...Amen - Amen simply means 'so be it.'

And so, as 2013 draws to a close, please join me in saying, "To God be the glory!"

December 16, 2013

Of Course He Cried!

I began taking the Bible seriously thanks to Chuck Swindoll's teaching on Insight for Living. One of the biggest things that changed my thinking was Chuck's habit of saying, "I wonder what he was thinking when that happened." Or, "I wonder how he felt at that moment." It made me realize Bible people were real people. They aren't just made up characters in an old book - they really lived and did the things recorded in that old book. Their thoughts and feelings didn't always get recorded, but they still had the thoughts and feelings.

Imagining how I would feel in certain situations helps me relate to the Bible stories. Relating to what I read helps keep me from just reading it in an offhand manner. Instead I enter into it, think about it and try to learn from it.

Here is the NIV translation of Luke's account of the birth of Jesus.

"In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.  (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.)  And everyone went to their own town to register. 
 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.  He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.  While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,  and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them" ( Luke 2:1-7).

There's not a lot of thoughts or feelings recorded there. On top of that, I think some of our Christmas carols have done us a disservice when it comes to relating to the Christmas story. Don't get me wrong, Christmas carols are beautiful, but I think some of them are a little off the mark.

Take 'Silent Night' for instance. I doubt Bethlehem was all that silent that night. The town was so full of visitors there were no rooms available anywhere. Just imagine all the noise and confusion that would come from having that many people uprooted and forced to travel. Remember, these people were not on vacation because they wanted to get away from it all. They were told they had to go, like it or not. I would imagine more than a few of them didn't like it much at all.

And just imagine how many donkeys were being housed in the stable Mary and Joseph were offered for the night. Imagine all the sounds - and smells - that would accompany those donkeys. Kind of goes against all the pretty Christmas scenes, doesn't it? And yet, doesn't it also feel more real, more understandable? Our world is not perfect. There are messes all around us, both literal and figurative. But Jesus willingly came into our messy world and He can help us deal with whatever mess we make of our lives.

When Aiden was a baby, Paul asked me one day, "Do you think Mary ever said, 'Jesus, would you please just go to sleep?'" It really made me stop and think. Jesus was sinless, fully God, but He was also a human baby. Babies have trouble falling asleep. They cry. There's nothing sinful in that. It's a baby's only way of communicating.

I find I can't relate to, or even really believe in, a baby who doesn't cry, as 'Away in a Manger' says of Jesus. Of course He cried! How else did Mary know when He was hungry or cold or scared? Jesus did baby things, like crying, teething, falling down and learning to walk, even though it isn't recorded in the Bible.

Over the next few weeks, try imagining your way into the Christmas story. Set aside the sterile, silent version and really think about the events, the circumstances and the people.

Think about a God willing to step into our messy world, our messy lives, and become a helpless baby dependent on a human mother.
Weekly devotions on Christian living |
A real baby. A real mother.

And a real God.

December 09, 2013


Devotion for the Week...

How many handmade gifts have you given over the years? I've given placemats, wallhangings, tree ornaments, a bed quilt and baby quilts. From crafters I know, I've been given a Christmas tree skirt, Christmas decorations and ornaments, baby quilts and blankets, Santa hats, jewelry, a turned wood bowl and a peppermill and salt shaker set (to name just a few things).

Our tree skirt was given to us by my sister-in-law Nancy when we were living in Igloolik. See Santa's sleigh is being pulled by polar bears?

There's something wonderful about a gift that was made especially for the recipient. As a group, we crafters are generous and love to give gifts we made ourselves. Even children love to give of themselves in this way. From their first scribbles proudly presented to Mom or Dad they understand how good it feels to give their own creation to someone special.

Even just picking out gifts from a store can be so exciting. Last year was the first Christmas Aiden picked out gifts for his Dad and me all on his own and paid for them with his own money. It was fun seeing how excited he was on Christmas morning as he waited for each of us to open our gifts. He was practically jumping up and down, just beside himself with the anticipation of seeing what we would think of these gifts he had picked out.

It's understandable we find such joy in giving gifts. The Bible says "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows (James 1:17). God delights in giving gifts. Every day is a gift from Him, as is every breath we breathe. Sewing machines, quilt patterns, fabric stores full of beautiful fabric, all of it comes as a gift from God.

The gifts I've given have been appreciated, but they weren't needed. Mom loved the placemats I gave her, in fact she asked for a second set for when they have company, but she didn't need them. She would have been perfectly fine without them, using the placemats she already had. God, however, has offered to each of us a gift that we do need, and without this gift we are not fine. "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23).

Without Jesus we are trapped, unable to stop being sinners. But Jesus died to free us. His power living in us allows us to resist the temptation to sin. His blood shed for the forgiveness of sin allows us to stand before a holy God, forgiven of all the wrong from our past.

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast" (Ephesians 2:8,9). My salvation is a gift from God, not because I'm so good or so special or so hard-working. I didn't try so hard to make myself good that God decided to save me. Good thing too, because I'm terrible at self-improvement projects. Left to myself, I would certainly never reach heaven. My only contribution to my salvation was my acceptance of the gift God offered. 

Have you accepted it? You don't have to wait until you're older, thinner, more financially stable or more "good." Jesus died for your sins. The gift of God - eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord - is available to you today, just as you are. All you have to do is believe, by faith, that Jesus died for you, and accept God's gift of eternal life.

December 08, 2013

Portrait of a Snowman and Giveaway Day!

I am so excited today to announce I now have my very own Craftsy Pattern Store! My first pattern is this adorable snowman portrait, aptly titled 'Portrait of a Snowman'.
He is a 9" finished block done with simple piecing, applique and a little embroidery.

My pattern tester, Annette, said this block woke her inner child. She had fun searching through her buttons to embellish her snowman. The eyes, nose and snowflakes are all buttons. Then she used a piece of ribbon to give him a bowtie. Doesn't he look dapper?
In the process of writing the pattern, I made two snowmen, with the faces slightly different. I have each one made into a simple wall hanging, though the red one isn't quite finished yet.
See how the changes to their noses and mouths change their whole personality?

To  celebrate the launch of my Pattern Store, I am linking with Sew Mama Sew's Giveaway Day. I am giving away one of my two wall hangings, and the winner gets to choose which one. The red one will be finished before the giveaway ends, I promise! This giveaway is open to anyone as I enjoy the thought of my quilts making their way to different parts of the world.

To enter, leave a comment by Monday, December 16th telling me your favourite snow activity. If you don't get snow where you live, tell me what you think you would enjoy about snow. Followers get a second entry, just leave a second comment telling me how you follow. Make sure I can contact you if you win. There were a few no-reply comments during my last giveaway and I would hate to draw your number and have no way to let you know you won. I will draw the winner on December 17th. 

Updated to say I had missed the guidelines for the giveaway end date, so now I will be drawing my winner on Saturday the 14th.

And while you're waiting to see if you won my snowman, don't forget to pop on over to my Craftsy store and purchase the pattern to make your own. He's quick enough you could still get a couple made as Christmas gifts!

December 05, 2013

Slow and Steady

Slowly, but surely, I've been making progress on my hexie quilt. There are only 18 left without the blue outer ring, out of 56, so it feels like I'm nearing the end of this phase.

I laid them all out this afternoon on the living room floor for a photo op.
 I'm so pleased with how they stand out against the blue background.

Then I decided to lay them out again, this time making the four sides and then filling in as much of the middle as I could.

I couldn't join the four sides laying them out the way I've been doing! Panic! I tried again, carefully laying each block next to the ones around it, and again the last corner just would not connect. There are no pictures to document this phenomenon as I immediately went into problem solving mode

 If I lay the flowers out so that they connect perfectly without gaps, the top edge gradually slants downward. The quilt will not be straight!
You can kind of see the slant in the first picture if you look at the sides. I took the picture lining up the top and bottom to be straight, not even noticing how slanted the sides were. That's not what I want.

But see the gap between the purple and yellow flowers when I make the top row straight against the edge of my ruler? Aargh!
So, after looking at many pictures of Grandmother's Flower Garden quilts online, I went back to my flowers on the floor and started rearranging them again. Eventually I came up with this...
The top is straight and everything looks like it will fit together properly. I just need to add two hexagons between each of my flowers as I join the rows together. All told, this will add about 100 hexies to the total, which isn't bad considering how many are in the quilt already.
Crisis averted, but now I'm even more anxious to get those 18  flowers finished so I can start putting the rows together. I want to be sure it will work without more surprises.

On a completely different note, here's a sneak peek at a project I'm working on for Sew Mama Sew's Giveaway Day next week.
 Be sure to check back for that!

December 02, 2013


It's hard to put a price on my own work. On the one hand, I worry that people will think I'm charging too much. On the other hand, I want to charge enough that I make what I'm doing worth my time and effort.

A couple times a year, I decorate cakes for people. Starting out, I didn't know what to charge, but I finally settled on a price. Then the prices of flour and sugar both went up. Since my cakes are made from scratch, I had to raise my price too. I knew I had to make the change, but still I thought about it for a couple of months before actually quoting the new price. Even then I felt guilty about it.

I know I'm not the only one who has a hard time with this. I once considered opening an etsy shop, though I later realized I'm too slow to finish projects so there wouldn't be much point. While researching the possibility, I came across an etsy blog post about pricing, in which the author, Danielle, wrote, "From my years of listening to your stories, putting a price on your work is one of the most intimidating first steps to selling, and delays many from opening their shop."

I think we all tend to undervalue our work and our time, which is a shame. Unfortunately, many of all also underestimate our value to God, which is even worse. We think of His holiness and our faults, His majesty and our lowliness and we feel we can't be worth very much in His eyes. Even those of us who are believers don't really feel comfortable with the notion of ourselves as valuable to God, unless it's for the work we do for Him.

But He doesn't see us as worthless, or even as having only minimal value. Nor does He assess our value based on what we can do for Him. He says we are "a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a people belonging to God" (1 Peter 2:9). Chosen, royal, holy, belonging to Him. These are the words He uses to describe His people. Collectively, yes, but also individually. This is how He sees each of us who believe in Jesus as our Savior.

Galatians 3:26 says, "So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith" and 4:7 says, "So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir."

Think about your children. What value do they have to you? Is it not so huge it could never be measured? Our children are priceless, worth far more than everything else in this world combined. 

That is how God sees us.

"See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!" (1 John 3:1). He has lavished His love on us. What a word! There is nothing stingy or begrudging about lavish! My dictionary defines lavish as "give or spend in large or extravagant quantities." To lavish on someone is to give to them abundantly, freely and joyfully. How has He lavished His love on us? By giving us Jesus, who lived and died to be our Savior, that we who believe can be adopted into the family of God as sons and daughters.

As the children of God, we are valued so highly He sent Jesus to redeem each one of us. We should remember that the next time we are tempted to undervalue ourselves.