December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas!
Merry Christmas to you! I hope you have a fantastic day with family and friends 😊

I'm taking this week off to enjoy time with my own family, but I'll be back in this space come January. Happy New Year!

December 20, 2016

2017 Goal Planning

It's that time of year again - time to look back at the year that has been and look ahead to the year that's coming. Yvonne, at Quilting Jetgirl, is once again hosting her Quilter's Planning Party to help get us motivated to set goals for next year. After joining in the party last year, I can say that having written my goals down and then shared them publicly certainly helped motivate me to do the things I wanted to do. Funny how we need that extra little push even to do the stuff we want to do, isn't it?

Before I can set goals for next year, I have to look back and see how I did with the goals for 2016, so here goes:

1. Host a mystery quilt along

Done! I had a lot of fun making my Just the Basics quilt and sharing the installments each month for 6 months. All the instructions are still available if you'd like to make your own...just click on the Just the Basics tab at the top of the blog.
My Just the Basics top
Seeing the finished quilts was fantastic :) My own Just the Basics quilt is actually finished, but I haven't shared it yet because I haven't had a chance to get pictures. Hopefully soon.

2. Submit designs to at least two new magazines...

Done. Both of the designs I sent to new magazines were accepted 😊 In fact, one of the quilts is already finished and sent to the magazine offices for professional photography. I'm really looking forward to seeing how the professionals style my quilt, especially considering how much I struggle with photography. I've ordered the fabric for the second quilt and will be doing another round of secret sewing soon.

...I'd also like to continue working with the ladies at Make Modern as I've found they're great to work with.

Done. I had two more quilts in Make Modern (affiliate link) in 2016, X Marks the Spot and Love Birds. I also have another quilt scheduled with them for 2017.

3.  Release a new pattern or tutorial every other month.

Done. This year I released 6 tutorials, and 3 patterns. It's fun to meet a goal, but it's even more fun to exceed it!
 From left to right, the tutorials are (top row) Denim Heart Cushion, Denim Log Cabin Placemats, Free Motion Quilted Ornaments, (bottow row) Porthole Block, How to Machine Bind a Quilt, Make a Travel Tic Tac Toe Game
From left to right, the patterns are X Marks the Spot, Snow Friends, Rainbow Ripple.

4. Get back into a regular Bible reading habit.

Nope. I read briefly every evening with the boys before they go to bed, but I want to be reading and studying for myself. I don't know why I struggle with this one so much.

5. Have fun exploring (some) new ideas. Quilting is what I do for fun, after all!

I'm counting this one as done. I've had fun with everything I've tried this year and I have so many plans for things I want to try/make in the future. Is there ever enough time for everything we want to make???

Writing my goals down really did give me a kick in the pants to get moving sometimes. Submitting designs to magazines can be scary, but as the year was winding down I knew I had to get it done or I'd have to admit here that I hadn't done it. I'm so glad I moved past the fear and tried 😊

So, what are my goals for 2017?

1. Host another sew-a-long of some kind. I'm not sure what form I want this to take this year, though it probably won't be a mystery. I'd like to try something new 😊

2. Start hand quilting my Hexie Flowers quilt. This poor quilt top has been sitting in my cupboard for over a year. I want to hand quilt it, both because I think it would complement the hand stitched EPP and because I find I'm wanting a hand quilting project again. Obviously, this will be a long term project, but I at least want to get it started.
EPP Hexie flowers quilt |
3. Grow my design business. I really enjoy the whole process of designing and writing patterns, and I do a little happy dance every time someone buys one of my patterns. I'd love to do more of that happy dancing in 2017!

4. Keep seeking magazine publication. That's part of growing my design business, but I think it's an important enough part of deserve to be a goal of its own.

5. Share 10 new tutorials or patterns. Since I already have three patterns in the works, it should be completely doable to reach 10 before the end of the year. Especially considering how many ideas I have!

6. End 2017 with fewer UFOs than I have right now. I have a few projects that were set aside in favour of starting something new and it makes me sad that they're not finished and being used. Time to get them finished up! Without actually digging around in my cupboard, I think I have 7 UFOs (not counting the hexie flowers one). Of course, ending the year with fewer UFOs than I have now will mean I can't keep abandoning projects as the year goes on 😉

Well, I think that will be enough to keep me going for a year, lol.What are your goals for the new year? Be sure to pop over to the Planning Party to see what everyone else plans to accomplish in 2017.

*This post contains an affiliate link, which means if you click the link and then make a purchase I may receive a small commission. This does not affect the price you pay.

December 19, 2016

Advent 2016 - The Shepherds

Devotion for the Week...

Less than a week now until Christmas 😊 School finishes Wednesday at lunchtime, and my parents arrive on Friday, and we are all very much looking forward to the break together.

So far this Advent season, we've looked at Elizabeth, Joseph and Mary, considering their roles in the Christmas story and what they could teach us about God's plan for us. Today we're going to look at the shepherds.

To be honest, I never really thought about the shepherds much while growing up. I knew about the angel appearing to them in the field and telling them about the Savior who had been born, but I didn't think they were very important. Now my view is entirely different and I love their part of the story. The shepherds have an incredibly important lesson to teach us, especially when we're feeling 'not good enough'.

Here's their part in the story:

"And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told" (Luke 2:8-20).

I've always thought is was cool that the shepherds got a special invitation to go meet Jesus, but like I said, that was about all I thought of them. Then, a few years back, I read "In Search of...The Real Spirit of Christmas", by Dan Schaeffer and it completely changed my perspective on these simple men. I came to absolutely love the fact that God specifically invited them to visit Jesus.

According to Schaeffer, shepherds at that time "were considered unreliable, untrustworthy and not a little larcenous". In fact, they were thought to be so untrustworthy that they couldn't even testify in court.

Think about that. These men were the ones other people wouldn't socialize with. They were thought to be liars and cheats. They were essentially shunned by 'polite society'. 

And God sent them an angel to say, "Come, I want you to meet Someone."

The lowest of the low...

The least respected...

The most unworthy...

And God says, "You are welcome in His presence."

The truth is, I think God was making a point when he sent the angel to those shepherds. I think He was showing them, and us, that no one is so low that they aren't welcome in Jesus' presence. No one is so bad that they can't approach the Son of God and feel accepted. No one is excluded from the salvation that Jesus came to give us.

That is the "good news that will cause great joy for all the people" (v. 10) that the angel talked about. It is for all the people because everyone is welcome. No one will be turned away from Jesus.

No matter what you've done, no matter how many mistakes you've made or how bad those mistakes were, Jesus invites you to come to Him just as the shepherds were invited so long ago. 
Weekly Christian devotions |
Then, once you have met Jesus, you can be like the shepherds "glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen" (v. 20).

December 12, 2016

Advent 2016 - Mary

Devotion for the Week...

As Nathan is fond of reminding me, only 13 more days until Christmas! And even at 8 years old, he has said a few times, "It feels like Christmas was only last week and now here we are only (insert ever decreasing number here) days away from Christmas again!"

We are now into the third week of Advent. We started out this season of anticipation for Jesus' coming by looking at Elizabeth's part in the Christmas story, then last week we considered Joseph, whose plans were altered by God to accommodate His bigger plans. This week, we'll be looking at Mary.

Aside from Jesus, Mary gets most of the attention in the Christmas story. We imagine her, hugely pregnant, forced to travel to Bethlehem for the census. We picture her giving birth in a stable, far from the familiar women she probably expected to have assist with the birth. And we see her holding baby Jesus, cradling her child and her God at the same time. What a beautiful and simple role Mary had, right?

Well, yes and no. Being a mother is both beautiful and simple, but Mary would have faced some hard times because of her role in the Christmas story. Most of us are familiar with the angel's visit to Mary to tell her what would happen:

"In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God" (Luke 1:26-35).

Obviously, Mary had to question how this was possible since she knew she couldn't have naturally conceived a child. But once that question was answered to her satisfaction, Mary accepted the assignment with a simple, "I am the Lord’s servant...May your word to me be fulfilled" (v. 38).

If you think about it, that kind of boggles the mind. Mary lived in a culture where a woman's purity was hugely important. Without it, she wasn't worthy of marrying...or of respect. In fact, it was part of the Mosaic Law that anyone guilty of adultery was to be put to death (Leviticus 20:10). And yet, here is Mary, willing to stepping into an assignment that will brand her as guilty of sexual sin in the eyes of everyone she meets. Because, really, who was going to believe her story about an angelic visitation and a supernatural conception?

 Even if people believed Joseph to be the father, the child had still been conceived before they were officially married and so Mary's purity would have been non-existent in their minds.

And there was no hasty wedding the morning after the angel visited Mary, to make it look as if the appropriate 9 months had passed after the wedding before the child was born. In fact, after the angel left, "Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth... Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home" (vv. 39,40,56). From what I can gather, it was somewhere around that point that Joseph had his own angelic vision, understood the truth of the situation and promptly married her.

But by that point she was about three months pregnant. There would have been no hiding the early conception compared to the marriage, no hiding the fact that this baby arrived earlier than would be proper. Can you imagine the things that were said about Mary? To her?

There is no denying that people can be downright nasty when they disapprove of a person's choices or actions and a pregnant unwed girl would have been a prime target. Mary would have known that immediately when the angel presented God's plan to her. Did you notice how quick she was to point out that conception was impossible because she was a virgin? She knew how important her purity was. She would also have known how its sudden disappearance would be perceived.

But she agreed to the plan anyway.

Oftentimes, we think that if we're doing what God wants us to do, then the path will be smooth and there will be no obstacles. When things get hard, we think that maybe we misunderstood. That God doesn't really want us doing whatever it is we thought He wanted us doing, because if that was His plan then everything would be easy. And if it's not easy, then we must have been wrong.

But nothing could be farther from the truth. Just think about Mary and the insults and scorn she would have endured, all while carrying the Savior of the world.

There was no doubt Mary was doing what God wanted her to be doing. An angel had come and told her room for misunderstanding. And even though she was exactly where God wanted her to be, doing exactly what He asked her to do, I can't even imagine the hurt Mary must have experienced at the hands of people who didn't understand.

Mary didn't turn down God's assignment for her because of the trouble she'd endure. She didn't give up on the plan when faced with those who disapproved. We need to remember that when faced with our own problems when we believe we are doing what God wants us to do. Trouble isn't a sign that we need to give up or change plans. Trouble is just a part of life here on earth.
Weekly Christian devotions |
Trouble will always come, even when we're doing what God wants us to do, so we need Mary's attitude in our own lives. We need her willingness to accept trouble from those who didn't understand. And we need her willingness to jump into what God asked of her, regardless of personal consequences.  

Because, really, personal consequences pale in comparison to God's plan.

December 07, 2016

Giveaway Day - Mini Quilt Pattern Bundle!

It's that time of year again - Giveaway Day at Sew Mama Sew! This is your chance to win all kinds of fun handmade things or supplies so be sure to check out the main Giveaway Day post.

If this is your first time visiting Devoted Quilter, welcome! I know you have a lot of giveaway posts to visit, but I hope you'll have a look around.

For this year's Giveaway Day, I've chosen to give away a copy of my Mini Quilt Pattern Bundle, which includes 4 of my PDF mini quilt patterns. And one of those patterns has 4 size options, so there are really 7 possible quilts in the bundle!
Mini Quilt Pattern Bundle |
Going clockwise from the top left, the patterns are X Marks the Spot, Friendship Galaxy, Flower Box and Twirling Star.

With this bundle, there's definitely still time to make another Christmas gift (or two!) before Christmas Eve. If you want to get started right away, the pattern bundle can be purchased through either my Payhip or Etsy shops.

To enter, leave a comment on this post telling me what Christmas gifts (if any) you're making this year. I'll choose a winner on Monday, December 12 when I get up in the morning. Make sure there's an email address either attached to your account or in your comment so that I can notify you if your win and so I can send you your pattern bundle.

Thanks for stopping by and good luck in all of the giveaways!

*** This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to Monica, comment #3!

December 05, 2016

Advent 2016 - Joseph

Devotion for the Week...

Christmas season is in full swing around here now. We had breakfast with Santa on Saturday morning 😊 It's an annual fundraiser for our local fire department and there's always a good turnout, with lots of little ones running around. Have you enjoyed any Christmas traditions this week?

This is now the second week of Advent. Last week we considered Elizabeth and her role in the Christmas story, as well as what her story might have to teach us about our own lives. This week we're going to look at Joseph.

Once again, the Biblical account is pretty sparse on details about Joseph. In Matthew 1:19 we are told that Joseph "was faithful to the law." In Luke 1:4 we learn that he "belonged to the house and line of David" and in Matthew 13:55 Jesus is referred to as "the carpenter’s son" so we know Joseph's occupation. That's about all we know about him as a person, but let's take a look at his part in the Christmas story.

"This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins...When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus" (Matthew 1:18-21, 24,25).

So here's Joseph, ready to get married. He's a good man, faithful to the law and expecting a wife who would also be faithful to the law. Then he finds out his betrothed in pregnant! He knows full well the child isn't his, (can't possibly be his!), so it would seem that Mary is not the woman Joseph was expecting her to be. And even though they weren't actually married yet, they were betrothed, which was a binding arrangement and would require a divorce to be undone.

Joseph decided to divorce her quietly, to spare her the public disgrace of him making a big deal about the unexpected pregnancy. It's hard to say how he felt about this change of plans. Marriages at that time were mostly arranged, not based on love and choice as our marriages are, so we don't know how Joseph felt about Mary. 

Regardless, Joseph figured out how he would handle the situation, and then, after he had come up with a solution that he was comfortable with, an angel came to him in the night and completely changed things again! The angel told him to marry her after all, that everything would be okay and that the child Mary carried was the Messiah that had been promised.

I can only imagine how that set Joseph's head spinning! I mean, any man would feel the weight of responsibility when bringing a new baby into their home, a baby they now have to clothe and feed and house...but to bring the Son of God into his home? To be responsible for raising God's son? How overwhelming must that have felt to Joseph? And yet, Joseph didn't hesitate. We're told that when he woke up, Joseph did what the angel commanded him and married Mary.

The biggest thing that strikes me in this part of the story is that God used the plans that were already in place, but He changed them slightly to accommodate His plan. Joseph and Mary planned to get married. Eventually children would follow. God just stepped in and shifted the plan a little. The marriage would still take place, but now the first Child would be God's, followed by other children who were naturally born to Mary and Joseph (see Matthew 13:55-56).

The other thing that strikes me is Joseph's willingness to accept God's changes to his plans. Joseph could have refused to marry Mary. He could have doubted the story about the baby's conception, or he could have decided it wasn't worth the scorn he probably endured from townsfolk who thought the baby was his. He could have decided he didn't want to raise a child not his own. There were any number of reasons Joseph could have turned away from the plans God had for him, but he didn't. He accepted what God wanted him to do and just went ahead with the revised plan.
Weekly devotions on Christian living |

Do we share Joseph's willingness to accept changes to our plans? How do we react when God steps in and alters our plans to better suit His bigger plan? Do we sulk and mope, whining about how we intended things to go? Or do we roll with it, accepting the changes and moving forward in what God has planned for us? Obviously, sulking and moping isn't the right response, though I have to admit that sometimes I'm tempted to choose that attitude. 

Hopefully from now on we'll think of Joseph whenever we're tempted to whine about changes to our plans.

December 01, 2016

TGIFF - Wind Farm Quilt Top

Welcome to Thank Goodness It's Finished Friday! I'm glad you're here and I'm looking forward to seeing all the finishes you have to share 😊

I have a quick finish to share this week...well, a finished quilt top, at least. The quilting part will have to wait until sometime in the new year. The top itself took me about a week to finish, which I'm pretty sure is a record for me.
Wind Farm quilt top |
I had a terrible time trying to get pictures of this one, for some reason. The colours are much more vibrant and pretty in real life than they seem to be here. Obviously I need to make a serious effort to learn more about photography, which is going to be one of my goals for 2017.

I'm not sure what to name this quilt. I had been calling it Strippy Pinwheels, which didn't really inspire me, but I needed to call it something. Then a friend said it reminded her of windmills and when I looked at it after that all I could see was wind turbines arranged in rows, which gave me the name Wind Farm. I'm still not sure it's right, though. Any thoughts? Let me know if you have a suggestion for a better name, or if you think I should go with Wind Farm or Strippy Pinwheels. I need all the help I can get with naming this one!

I must not have been paying close attention when I was cutting out my strips because one fat quarter was cut with the selvedges included in the length. I didn't realize it until I started piecing blocks, at which point I decided to just use those strips anyway. You can see a couple of them peeking out in this picture. It was a very pretty selvedge, so I didn't mind it sneaking into the quilt.
Four blocks together create the wind turbine effect with the gold fabric, but I also love the dark blue pinwheel.
Wind Farm Quilt top |
Now it's your turn! What have you finished this week? Link it up here, then pop over to visit some of the other links and leave some comments and encouragement.