September 29, 2014

Allowed In

Devotion for the Week...

Have you ever really wanted to do something, but you weren't allowed? Maybe you weren't old enough, like our two younger boys find sometimes. Zachary is only 21 months younger than Aiden, so most of the time we have treated them pretty much the same. There have been times, though, when being younger meant that Zach couldn't do things Aiden could do, like when Aiden reached grade 5 and became eligible for cross-country running. Zach couldn't wait to get to grade 5 so he could join too. And now that he is in grade 5 (and cross-country running) he finds that Aiden, who is now 12, is going to youth rallies at church without him. And so, again, he's anxiously waiting for the next two years to pass so he can do the things his brother is doing.

Sometimes it's not age that prevents us from doing the things we want to do. Sometimes it's qualifications, like when we want a better job but we don't have the rights skills. Sometimes it's money, like when we want to take a trip, but there are no extra funds to pay for it.

Then there are times when we are included, when we can do something even though we're not quite qualified. Nathan sometimes struggles with being the youngest, and being left out when his older brothers are invited to a friend's house and Nathan isn't invited. There are other times, though, when everyone is here and they all play together. They include Nathan in their games, even though he is younger, which makes him feel so excited and happy.

I sense that same excitement and happiness when I read part of Psalm 5, which was written by David. Starting with verse 4, he wrote:
You are not a God who takes pleasure in evil;
with you the wicked cannot dwell.
The arrogant cannot stand in your presence;
you hate all who do wrong.
You destroy those who tell lies;
bloodthirsty and deceitful men
the Lord abhors. (Psalm 5:4-6)

Do you see all the people who can't come into God's presence? All those who can't come near to the One who created them? But in verse 7 David writes, "But I...will come into your house; in reverence will I bow down toward your holy temple." Do you sense the relief in that "But I"? It's like David is saying, "But I'm not one of them. I'm not one of the ones who can't come near You. I'm allowed in."

Why is David allowed in? What has he done to earn his way into God's presence? As I have written out verse 7, we could assume, perhaps, that David is perfect, and that's why he is allowed in God's presence. We could assume that he is not evil, or wicked, or arrogant. Perhaps those things are possible, but the rest of the passage presents a more difficult picture. It's hard to believe he never did wrong, or that he never told a lie. I think lying is hard-wired into every human. Certainly every child tries it at one time or another to attempt to get out of trouble. Even though we, hopefully, learn to be truthful, I doubt any person, aside from Jesus, has ever lived who never told a single lie. And if we read our Bibles, we learn that David certainly wasn't a perfect man, allowed into God's presence because he never did wrong. Read the story of David and Bathsheba to see just how much wrong David was capable of doing.

No, it's not because he's perfect that David is allowed into God's presence. I'm grateful for that, because if that was the answer it wouldn't give us much hope. I have a hard time being perfect. Do you?

Thankfully, the answer lies in four beautiful words that I left out when I first typed verse 7 for you. These four words not only explain why David could come into God's presence, but why we can as well. They offer hope and peace and salvation to any who choose to believe. The full verse reads, "But I, by your great mercy, will come into your house; in reverence will I bow down toward your holy temple" (emphasis mine).

By your great mercy.

Not because David was perfect. Not because I am perfect, but because God is merciful and gracious, willing to forgive those who repent and ask for forgiveness. In David's day that required animal sacrifices, but for us Jesus has already made that sacrifice. It is done and God, by his great mercy, welcomes anyone who accepts that sacrifice as having been made for them.
Weekly devotions on Christian living |
If we believe that Jesus is our Savior, then we can say with David that we are not like those others, who are not welcome in God's presence, simply because we have chosen to accept the gift of mercy being offered to us. Those others, should they ever choose to accept his mercy, would also find themselves suddenly welcome, suddenly allowed in. Then they too could say, with relief and excitement and joy, "But I, by your great mercy, will come into your house." 

Thank you, Father, for your great mercy towards us.

September 27, 2014

Hexie Stars

I've started a new epp project, but this one will be much smaller than my hexie flowers quilt.
The hexie stars were designed by Reene of Nellie's Niceties. I'm loving how this looks, but those skinny triangles are crazy fiddly to work with! I think I'll add a border of the grey, though maybe only on the top and bottom, and then bind it in a scrappy aqua binding. Once again, I'm making this up as I go along, which seems to be my favourite method lately.

In other news, Mary of See Mary Quilt has finished her addition to my Round Trip Quilts piece and it is gorgeous! Check it out here.

September 26, 2014

Two Finishes and a Start

I actually have two finishes to share today, though neither one of them are projects from my Quarter 3 Finish-a-Long list. I think I've finished one thing from that list so far, and there's not much left of this quarter. Oh well, that just means it will be really easy to write the quarter 4 list, right?

The first of my finishes is the embroidered Psalm 19 wall hanging. I am so pleased with how this turned out!
I love the purple script in the midst of the grey words.
I used the fast triangles method on the back rather than adding a sleeve. It was my first time doing this and I'll be doing it again for sure. It's so much faster than making a sleeve and then stitching it on by hand.
As you can see from the back, I did minimal quilting on this one as I didn't want to detract from the embroidered verse.

It doesn't show in any of the pictures, but that binding is nearly perfect. I came across a tip that made a huge difference, but I can't give proper credit for it as I can't remember which blogger shared it. Whoever it was, she said that after she puts her binding on the first side, she irons it up and away from the quilt before folding it over to the other side. I didn't think it would make much difference, but it did!! Such a simple step, but it made the binding look much neater and much more professional.

My second finish is a baby blanket with ribbon tags, like the one I made for Maddie last year. This one is for a little boy, and has some heavy machinery in the focus squares.
I made it as a test to see how long it takes to make one of these blankets. Turns out it takes 1 1/2 hours from start to finish.

I love all the different tags, which are not only different colours, but also different widths and different types of ribbon. Lots of things for some little baby boy to explore.
 I did simple, straight line quilting on either side of the seams.
So, those are my two finishes, and the new project I've started actually involves them both.

Devoted Quilter is now a shop on Etsy! It's something I've been thinking about for a long time and I finally took the plunge this week. Both of these quilts are listed there, as are some of my patterns. I'm planning to get more items listed over the next couple of weeks.

If you have a shop on Etsy, or if you buy from Etsy, do you have any tips to share with this new shop owner? I'd love any suggestions you may have. Thanks!

Linking up with TGIFF, Finish it up Friday and Can I Get a Whoop Whoop

September 24, 2014

Round Trip Quilts - Round 1!

I had a lot of fun adding my contribution to Jennifer's quilt start for the Round Trip Quilts group. Jennifer, of Never Just Jennifer, sent this gorgeous piece to me as the beginning of her quilt. The theme for her quilt is "New Hampshire Beauty."
She included lots of ideas for things she'd like to see in her quilt, including maple leaves. As the only Canadian in the group, it seemed only fitting that I be the one to add them. And of course that meant there would be one red leaf on a white background.
I love the birds flying around on this yellow leaf!
I followed this tutorial by Erin of Sew at Home Mummy, though I made my blocks 9" finished rather than 12".

Before I could add my leaves to Jennifer's starting piece, I added a 1" teal strip to two sides to bring it up to 27" so it would work with my blocks. Jennifer said she didn't want a traditional medallion style quilt, with borders on borders on borders, so I chose to add to only two sides of the quilt top. I chose the north and east sides because I live in Newfoundland, which is northeast of Jennifer in New Hampshire.
That's it for me for round one! Now I have to wait until the middle of October before I can mail this to Mary, of See Mary Quilt, to add her contribution. Next up for me will be Liz's quilt (Green Cheese Quilting), which Jennifer has now.

I hope you like your maple leaves, Jennifer!

September 22, 2014

Graceful Words

Devotion for the Week...

I've been reading about grace a lot the past few weeks. First I reread Philip Yancey's What's So Amazing About Grace? Now I am reading Chuck Swindoll's The Grace Awakening. I highly recommend both books. Usually we focus on God's gift of grace to us, but these books will make you take a close look at yourself and at how you share grace with those around you. Yancey's book, especially, seems like it would be worth reading again every couple of years.

One thing I've been thinking about as I read is this verse from Colossians: "Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone" (Colossians 4:6). There are a few things that I find challenging in this verse.

First of all, this verse follows several others in which Paul writes about sharing the gospel of Jesus with outsiders, with those who don't believe in Him. Verse 5 says, "Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity." Taken together, these verses tell me that we should always be ready to tell others about Jesus, that we should be alert for opportunities. I don't know about you, but I'm not so good at that. Unless I'm asked a specific and direct question, I often hesitate rather than speaking up about spiritual things with people who may not share my beliefs. I don't want to offend anyone. Truth be told, I don't want to seem weird. That may strike you as odd considering how openly I share my faith here on my blog, but here I figure if you're not interested in spiritual things you just won't read the devotions. It's different when I'm face to face with someone. I struggle with knowing "how to answer everyone," especially when most people are not asking specific and direct questions.

Then there is the word always. "Let your conversation be always full of grace." Always is a pretty all-encompassing word, isn't it? There's not a lot of room to wriggle around a word like always. And there's no room around the original Greek word pantote, either. According to pantote means "always, at all times, ever." If our conversation is to be always full of grace, then it seems like that means every conversation, with everyone, all the time. Sometimes it's easy to show grace in conversation - with people we like, when people are agreeing with us, when the sun is shining and we've had a good night's sleep. Other times it's not so easy - with people we don't like, when people disagree with us, when we're tired or sick, or when we're being asked to do something we don't want to do. 

Unfortunately, it's also often easier to show grace to strangers and acquaintances than to those who are closest to us. If you're anything like me, you're more likely to snap at your children than at the grocery store cashier. If my conversation is to be always full of grace, then I need to watch how I react when Nathan comes wanting me to read to him just when I finally have a moment to myself to read my own book. Sometimes, even when I agree to read to him, my "I guess so" is not very gracious or welcoming, especially if it's accompanied by a sigh. Do you do that too? Do you do the right thing, but with the wrong attitude and that attitude is conveyed in your words? 

And then there is gossip. People love to talk about other people, don't we? Sometimes that's okay, like when we're sharing good news: "They just got engaged!" Other times, it's not okay, like when we're fishing around for the inside story on some incident that has nothing to do with us, or when we're the ones sharing the inside story. Then there are times when gossip is cloaked as a prayer need: "Pray for them, would you, he had an affair...with his was going on for two years before he was found he wants a divorce and they're fighting over custody of the kids." Conversations that are full of grace have no room for gossip. Ephesians 4:29 says "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."
Are the words we use full of grace towards others? |

The funny thing is, if we refrain from gossip, and if our words are pleasant even when situations may not be, those who do not believe in Jesus may be more likely to ask us questions about our faith. Certainly they will be more receptive to our answers if they find that our actions (and conversations) line up with what we say we believe.

September 18, 2014

How to Make a Quilt Label

I was making a couple of quilt labels this morning and actually thought to take some pictures for a tutorial. Usually when I'm making something that would be good for a tutorial, I think of that after I've already finished, so I'm quite proud of myself for thinking of it when I did today.

There are many different ways to make quilt labels, but this is how I do it.

I cut my fabric 4" x 3". I usually use muslin because I often have small scraps of it lying around, but you can use any light coloured fabric you have on hand.
Muslin doesn't have a right or wrong side, but if your fabric does you'll want to do these next couple of steps with the wrong side facing up. Press the corners in towards the middle.
 Then fold each side in about 1/4" and press. This should give you nice, neat corners.
Stitch with a matching thread. I sew this with the folds facing up so I can be sure they don't get bent out of shape under the needle. This is how it looks from the back of the label.
 And this is from the front of the label.
I iron the back of the label onto the shiny side of a piece of freezer paper. This makes it much easier to write on the fabric. Freezer paper is reusable, so I keep this piece and just iron labels to it as needed.
I write on my labels with a Pigma Micron pen. It's the best I've found for not washing out when I wash my quilts. Include your name, your location, the date and any other information you want. If I'm giving a quilt as a gift I always add the recipient's name and the reason for the quilt (ie. to celebrate a birth or a wedding, or whatever).
Pin the label to the back of the quilt. I love these tiny pins because I'm always hooking my thread on longer pins. Plus there's less chance of me stabbing myself with these ones. Not saying it doesn't happen, but at least it doesn't happen as often.
Again using a matching thread, hand stitch the label to the quilt back. Be careful not to stitch all the way through to the front of the quilt!
I love that these labels are quick to make and attach, and that no quilting stitches go through the writing. This is usually the last step for my quilts, so if you're like me, at this point all that's left to be done is admire your handiwork!

Updated February 10, 2015: Linking to Tips and Tutorials Tuesday at Late Night Quilter

September 15, 2014

Standing Out

Devotion for the Week...

I spent the weekend at a Women's Ministries retreat with my mother-in-law and sisters-in-law. It's always a great weekend and I look forward to it all year long, both for the chance to get away and for the biblical teaching.

As in any church service, there were times we were asked to stand for a song and then after that song the worship leader or the retreat leader spoke for a moment before the next song. Invariably, while she was speaking, some people would sit down and then those around them would sit and it would spread until everyone was sitting. Sometimes the women in the very front wouldn't notice right away that everyone behind them was sitting, but then one woman would see out of the corner of her eye that they were the only ones left standing and she'd quickly sit, followed by everyone else in her row. Have you seen that happen in your church? I know I've seen it many times.We don't like to call attention to ourselves, or to stand out as doing something different from everyone else, do we?

In 1951, Solomon Asch conducted the first of what are known as his conformity experiments. During this experiment he worked with eight male college students at a time. They were asked to match a line on one card with the line of equal length on another card. Seven of the participants had been told how to respond, while the eighth was unaware of their prior instructions. For the first two sets of cards, the group gave the correct answer, but for the remaining twelve sets, the group gave the incorrect answer.  Asch's experiments were designed to test how the one participant without prior instructions would respond. Would he give the correct answer, or would he go along with the group and give an answer that was obviously wrong? Overall, 75% of the participants went with the group on at least one of the incorrect responses.

This tendency to want to conform to the group has many social ramifications, of course. It also has ramifications for those of us who are followers of Jesus. In his letter to the Romans, Paul wrote, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Romans 12:2). I love how Eugene Peterson paraphrases it in the Message: "Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out."

As disciples of Jesus, we're supposed to stand out from those around us. We're supposed to be different. We are supposed to act like Jesus did. We should be the most compassionate, the most gracious, the most loving and the most forgiving people in the community, just as He was.

If your co-workers didn't know about your church attendance, would they know you are Christian because you act differently? What about your children? Can they see a difference in your behavior compared to that of other adults? I'm not talking only about when you are dealing with your children, but also when you are dealing with frustrating or annoying situations. Do you respond with grace and patience or with irritation and judgement? After all, "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control" (Galatians 5:22, 23). Our culture doesn't always champion those qualities, which is precisely why we are told not to "conform to the pattern of this world."

It is easy to be well-adjusted to our culture. It's much harder to stand out and be different. And yet that is one way we can "let [our] light shine before others, that they may see [our] good deeds and glorify [our] Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:16).

September 10, 2014

Three WIPs

For the first couple of months of this school year I'm only babysitting half-days, so I have the other half of the day to myself. That means extra sewing time! And cleaning, but that's not interesting so I won't make you read about that :)

I've been working on these pretty pinwheels for another set of my Spin placemats. You can find the pattern in my Craftsy pattern store.
I find my pinwheels lay more flat if I press some of the seams open. I still press the HST seams to one side, but then the seams to join them together I press open. And despite my admission that I iron, not press, with these seams I do find I have to be careful to press or I distort the other seams.
A couple of days ago, I finished the embroidery on my Psalm 19 piece, then I added a few  flowers and embroidered around them. This mini is now ready to be basted and quilted. I think I'll only quilt around the edge of the yellow and the purple. I don't want any quilting to compete with the embroidery.
 I'm really pleased with how this has turned out. I especially love the embroidery on the flowers.
And on Monday I received the quilt starting block made by Jennifer, of Never Just Jennifer, for the Round Trip Quilts. Isn't it beautiful?
So now I have a couple of weeks to add my contribution before sending it off to the next stop. Jennifer's theme is New Hampshire Beauty, so she wants us to add things that represent her favourite things about her home state. I've been playing around with some ideas, but I'm not quite ready to start cutting fabric yet.

What are you working on this week?

I'll be linking up with WIP Wednesday, Let's Bee Social, NTT and I Quilt.

September 09, 2014

Craftsy Class Sale!

Hey everyone! I'm just popping in this evening to share this Craftsy sale with you. This sale is only available through those of us who are Craftsy affiliates.

Up to 50% Off On Sewing, Quilting & Knitting Classes
(sponsored post)

Best-selling Craftsy classes are on sale for one week only! Save up to 50% off on Sewing, Quilting & Knitting classes taught by some of the world's best instructors. Once you purchase a class, it's yours to enjoy forever. Every class comes with a money-back satisfaction guarantee! 

There are some great classes on offer, so have fun picking what you want to learn next!

September 08, 2014

God and the Queen of England

Devotion for the Week...

Some people view God the way I view Queen Elizabeth II of England. I believe she exists. If I were to read the facts of her life (birth, schooling, marriage, children, etc) I would believe them too. I don't understand the fascination some people have for following every detail of her life, and those of her family, though I generally will read an article about them if it appears in a magazine I am reading.

Likewise, there are many who believe that God exists. They believe that Jesus lived and died as described in the Bible. They really don't understand people who focus their lives on living the way God wants, but they will sometimes read stories about missionaries or others who have devoted themselves to serving others in the name of God.

There is a big difference, though, between my relationship with the Queen and my relationship with God. Simply stated, I don't have a relationship with the Queen. She knows Canadians exist, she even knows people live in the province called Newfoundland and Labrador. She may have once heard the name of my small town, but she certainly doesn't know my name. She doesn't know that I'm a quilter, or that I write this blog or that I have a husband and three boys. A lot of people think that's the extent of their relationship with God - they believe He knows there are humans living on the earth, but He doesn't have any particular interest in one specific person.

Thankfully, that's not the case at all. Consider the beginning of Psalm 139:

 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. 
 You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain" (Psalm 139:1-6).

That sounds like a very intimate interest. In fact, it sounds as if God knows me better than I know myself. I love that the psalmist wrote that God is "familiar with all my ways." It's like He has studied my habits, my preferences and my way of doing things. My husband is familiar with my ways, but the Queen of England certainly isn't! Even more intimately than my husband, my God knows my ways. He knows what I will say next, or how I will respond when someone hurts my feelings. He knows even before I know. And not only does God know me that well, He loves me!

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).

 "We love because he first loved us" (1 John 4:19).

"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38,39).

God knows and loves each one of us individually. He is not a distant figure, someone we can read about or see on television but never really know. Jesus said, "I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep" (John 10:14,15). He also told His disciples, "I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you"(John 15:15).

Queen Elizabeth has no interest in a relationship with me. She does not count me among her friends, and she would not take my call were I to try to reach her this evening. There's nothing wrong with that, of course, the Queen and I live in different countries, different circumstances and we are of different generations. God, on the other hand, has called me a friend. What is more, He has adopted me into his family. "See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God"(1 John 3:1). Don't you love that image? God has lavished His great love on us. How abundant and freely given that love is! God, the creator of the universe, is always ready to listen when we pray and Jesus made us this promise: "Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age" (Matthew 28:20). I am so glad my God is interested in me and wants a relationship with me!

What is your relationship with God? Do you relate to Him as you do to the Queen, meaning you believe that He exists, but you have no actual relationship with Him, or do you have an intimate friendship with Him? If you do not have a relationship with Him, what is holding you back?

September 05, 2014

My New (very old) Toy

On Tuesday, as I was getting ready to go out the door, my husband asked me "Would you want this?" while looking at something on his phone. 'This' turned out to be absolutely gorgeous, and yes, I most certainly wanted it! We brought her home on Wednesday.

Isn't she gorgeous? She's a Singer 127-3 treadle, made in Elizabeth, NJ in 1923, which makes her 91 years old. She looks fabulous for her age, don't you think? I love that Wikipedia says she was "built before the advent of planned obsolescence, and so they were designed to be repaired rather than replaced." These machines just feel so solid, almost like they're indestructible.

She needs a couple of replacement parts, but hopefully I can soon try her out. The lady we bought her from had her for 25 years and used to sew on her years ago.
 She also needs a good cleaning. I'm a little nervous about that part. What is safe to use that won't harm the decals? This is all new to me and I don't want to do any damage to her.

My Kenmore sewing machine doesn't seem to have a gender, or to require a name. This beauty, however, has been 'she' and 'her' since the moment I laid eyes on her and now I'm wondering what to call her. The decals are the Sphinx or Memphis/Egyptian ones, so I think her name should reflect that, but I haven't come up with anything suitable yet. Any suggestions?

Also, if you know of any good sites for information on cleaning/maintaining her, (or how to actually use her!) please let me know. For now, I'm enjoying being able to admire her!

September 03, 2014

Round Trip Quilts - Finally Starting

The Round Trip Quilts have finally started their journey!
While I certainly wasn't wishing the summer away, I have been anxious to mail my quilt's starting piece and to see what all the others in the group decided to make.
I'm going with a star theme for my quilt, which certainly leaves lots of room for everyone else to play. How many star blocks are there anyway? I made four Ohio stars as the starting piece and I can't wait to see what it becomes as each person adds to it. I probably should have made it scrappier, to help it blend in with all the different fabrics that will be part of the finished quilt, but I had it finished before I thought of that. I guess that's what comes of having never done anything like this before. I have full confidence in my bee-mates though. The finished product will be amazing, I'm sure.
I put it in the mail yesterday, headed to Mary of See Mary Quilt. Now I'm waiting for the starting piece sent to me by Jennifer, of Never Just Jennifer. Her starting piece is absolutely beautiful! I already have an idea of what I want to add to it, based on what she has already shared of what she envisions for her quilt.

In other news, today was the first day of school. Nathan was pretty excited because he's in grade 1, which means he's now in school full days, so he can eat lunch at school. He can also go on the bus whenever he wants, instead of only when one of his brothers would go with him (they prefer to go with Dad, who teaches at the same school). Aiden is in grade 7 (junior high!) and Zachary is in grade 5.
It's almost impossible to get a picture where all three boys are looking at the camera, everyone's eyes are open and no one is making a funny face!

September 01, 2014

Around the World Blog Hop - Those I Tagged

Just popping in to remind you to check out the Around the World Blog Hop posts by the three ladies I tagged last week.

Fiona's post is here.

Jennifer's post is here.

Erin's post is here.

And, I should point out that this rather simple, unassuming post has the distinction of being my 200th post!

Blueberry Picking

Devotion for the Week...

Our berry picking lunch break

On Saturday I took the three boys blueberry picking. I'd been wanting to get out for about a week, since I'd started hearing reports of the thousands (or billions, depending on who you asked) of berries just waiting to be picked. There are always other people around when we're picking berries and I find it interesting to observe how different people approach the process. Some wander around, picking for a little while from one patch and then moving on to pick some from the next patch and on and on like that. Others hunker down and pick every single berry in a given spot before they'll even think about moving. Nathan picks enough to almost cover the bottom of his little container, then takes a break from picking to eat them all, wanders off to see who he can talk to and repeats that until it's time to go home.

Reading the Bible can be done much like picking blueberries. As believers, we are expected to know the Bible, which I believe requires that we read it for ourselves, but there is no one method that has to be followed all the time. Consider these verses:

"Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long" (Psalm 119:97). If we are going to be thinking about, or meditating on, God's word, then we must be reading our Bibles or we won't have much to think about.

"I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes" (Psalm 119:99). Knowing our Bibles will certainly lead to wisdom and insight, especially if we also think about what we read throughout the rest of our day.

"Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15). This letter was written to a young pastor, but I think it applies equally to any believer. We should all be capable of talking (or writing!) about the Bible without distorting what it says.

"But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:14-17).

So, how can I compare reading the Bible with picking blueberries?

Sometimes I want to know what the Bible says about a particular subject, so I browse around reading a verse here and a verse there.  Usually I use a search on Google or in a Bible concordance to find the verses I'm looking for. I also read a little before and a little after the verse to get an idea of the context so I can understand the verse more fully. This is the method I often use when I'm writing these devotions. I know the Bible says something about a particular topic, and usually I know some or all of a couple of verses about it, but I'll search to see if there are other verses I didn't immediately think of. Searching for other verses, and reading before and after the selected verse, also helps make sure I'm not twisting the verses to make them say what I want them to say, rather than sticking to what they actually do say.

Other times I want to get a deeper understanding of one book of the Bible. I read it from beginning to end, slowly, over several days unless it's a short book. I reread the parts that don't make sense. There are often lots of those and sometimes I still can't make sense of them after a second or even a third reading. I think my favourite Biblical book is Romans, but boy, is it tough to read! There are sections I have to read out loud just so I can pause at the right times and help myself follow what is being said. It's tough, but most definitely worth the effort. When I'm confused, I sometimes ask my husband for his opinion, or I look in one of the commentaries we own, or I search online for explanations. We also own quite a few Bible study books, so sometimes I'll work through a book while reading a study book at the same time.

Before you get too impressed with how incredibly devoted I am to my Bible reading, now might be a good time to confess that I haven't been following my regular reading schedule since summer vacation started, even though I had good intentions of continuing after school ended. We're back to regular routine tomorrow, though, and returning to those early morning sessions with my Bible is the best thing about summer being over.

There's one other comparison I can make between picking berries and reading the Bible. On Saturday there was a lady from our church picking berries in the same area as we were. Every now and then she'd call out to us "There are lots of them over here! Big ones too!" She knew she didn't have to hoard those good patches to herself because there were more berries around than all of us together would be able to pick, so she was generous in sharing what she found. Likewise, the Bible has enough truth for us all, more than we'll ever be able to glean from it in a lifetime of study. Sharing what we find in its pages will never diminish what we have, but will certainly enrich those we share with.
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So, what is your Bible study personality? Do you browse, dig in deep or a bit of both and do you share what you find?