February 27, 2017

That Little Voice

Devotion for the Week...

Have you ever had that little voice in your head telling you you're not good enough for something? It's an awful feeling, isn't it? Whether it's telling you that you're not smart enough, not pretty enough, not likeable enough, not whatever enough, that little voice can be debilitating.

The worst of it is, that little voice is usually lying. Even when we are good at something, the little voice, which stems from our own insecurities, will tell us that we're not as good as other people and so we shouldn't try doing anything with our abilities. And we believe the lie because it fits right in with our fears and our own worst feelings about ourselves, and so we listen and let that little voice tell us what to do.

Feeling not talented enough for something we want to do can keep us from fulfilling our dreams, and the plan God has for us. If we're stuck in fear, avoiding doing that thing we most want to do because we're scared of failing, chances are good we're missing out on what God wants us to be doing too. He's the one who gave us those talents and dreams, after all, and everyone's gifts are important to His plan. See 1 Corinthians 12.

Unfortunately, the little voice often doesn't stop at telling us we aren't good enough to do or be something. Often that voice will continue right on and tell us we aren't good enough, period. As if our worth were tied to our abilities.

That little voice will tell us we aren't as valuable as other people. Maybe it's because the other person is more talented than we are, or they have talents that look more valuable somehow. It doesn't really matter how we think the other person is better than we are because that feeling is a lie. The truth is our worth does not come from what we can do.
Weekly devotions on Christian living | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

Our worth comes from the fact that we are each made by God, created in His image. "So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them" (Genesis 1:27).

Psalm 139:13, 14 says, "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."

We have each been created by God, fearfully and wonderfully made as only He could do. In His eyes, we are worth the sacrifice of Jesus, so we are valuable indeed!

If our worth has nothing to do with our abilities, what are we to do with that little voice that tells us we aren't good enough? We talk back to it, of course!

Philippians 4:8 says, "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." That first one...whatever is true. We know that our worth comes from God, not from what we can do, so when that little voice pipes up to tell us we're not good enough, we can say "That's not true. I refuse to think that way." Then deliberately choose to counter the lie with the truth.

Obviously, this won't be the sort of thing that's done once and then never again. The voice will come back, telling us that we are 'less than' in some way, but we have to constantly remind ourselves that the voice in our head is wrong and then speak the truth.

This is not to say that we are all equally talented at all the things. An honest evaluation of our abilities will show that we are good at some things and not so good at others. My husband plays piano beautifully and sings well too, though he would disagree on the singing part. My son drums and plays guitar and even writes music. Me? Well, I can sing along with someone else, just don't listen too closely 😉 As much as I love music, I am not good at it. That doesn't change my worth, though. It just means I probably shouldn't try to join a band!

Do you struggle with believing in your abilities? Or has that little voice convinced you that you are less valuable than someone else because they are more talented than you are? Whatever the little voice in your head is telling you, know that God loves you and has given you abilities to use to work for Him. To Him you are precious, just as you are.

February 21, 2017

Della's First Quilt

As part of the 'My First Quilt' link party, I'm posting for those readers who don't have blogs so that as many people as possible can participate and share about their first quilts.
My first quilt link party | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

This post is for Della, who writes:

I would like to tell you about my first quilt I made. I have sewn since I was 8 years old but had never done a quilt – only clothing for myself or my kids. So I figured if I knew how to sew I must be able to make a quilt. I wanted to make a quilt for my husband and my 20th wedding anniversary. So I bought a book and found a quilt called the “Love knot quilt”. I figured this would be perfect for an anniversary quilt.
I did not know anyone who quilted so could not ask any advice from anyone. I did not have a cutter, ruler, or cutting board. The pattern said to make templates – so I did and cut them out with scissors. I decided on the colours and bought my material. Once I had all the squares, triangles and hexagons cut out; I started sewing them together. Eventually I had all the nine patch squares and snowball squares sewn together. But low and behold, I had forgotten to add the 1/4 inch seam to the template of the 9 patch squares and so the 2 squares were different sizes! Since I didn’t have anyone to go to for advice I put the project aside.
About 5 or 6 years later my husband was working with a fellow whose wife was a quilter. I brought the project to her and she helped me figure out how to cut down the triangles on the snowball square so they were the same size as the 9 patch. Since I had to take all the triangles off the snowball squares, cut them down, and re-sew them, it took me a while to redo it.
By the time I got the quilt finally sewn together it was ready for our 30th anniversary! I had a quilter machine stitch the Celtic knot on each of the snowball squares and do stitch in the ditch for the rest of the quilt. The quilt has been on our spare bedroom bed ever since.
Della's first quilt | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Della's first quilt | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
About 5 or 6 years later I took quilting lessons and am now producing quilts that don't take 10 years to complete!
Thanks for letting me share. 

Thanks for sharing your first quilt, Della! It's beautiful. I'm amazed at your dedication - doing all of those snowball blocks twice was a lot of work, I'm sure 😊

February 20, 2017

Obeying the Messenger

Devotion for the Week...

With three boys in the house, there are lots of times when I send one boy to give instructions to another. Maybe Nathan is in the kitchen with me while I make supper, so I send him to get his brothers to come and help set the table. Or Nathan is playing in the tub and I send Aiden to tell him it's time to get out.

Whatever the instruction is, all three boys obey what their brother tells them to do. Not because Aiden feels the need to obey Nathan, or vice versa, but because they know that the instructions are actually coming from me. There may be a messenger involved, but the messenger is not the one giving the orders.

Did you know that Jesus actually described Himself as a messenger? He said, "Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me...I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say" (John 12:44,45,49,50). He also said, "The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work" (John 14:10). 

I find that fascinating. My boys obey instructions given to them by their brothers because they know that the instructions come from a higher authority, namely me, their mother. We are to obey instructions given to us by Jesus because, again, those instructions come to us from a higher authority. In this case, the higher authority is the Father, Jesus' Father and our Father. The commands and instructions that Jesus gave while He walked the earth, all of them came from our Father and were spoken with the weight of the authority of the Father behind them.

Jesus commanded us to love one another: "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another" (John 13:34). This means loving our fellow believers even if we disagree with them. Even if their personality rubs us the wrong way. Even if they are rude or mean or...whatever. We are simply supposed to love one another, no matter what.

 He told us not to judge: "Do not judge, or you too will be judged" (Matthew 7:1). This is a tough one. It is so hard not to think that other people are wrong while we are right. It is so hard not to let our own imperfections slide while judging people harshly for their imperfections. And yet we have been told not to judge others.

 Most importantly, He told us the two greatest commandments: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these" (Mark 12:30,31). Loving God with everything we are sounds like it should be simple, but in reality we are often divided, seeking after things other than God. As for loving our neighbor as ourselves...see the previous two commands.
Weekly devotions on Christian living | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

If one of the boys didn't listen when a brother gave him instructions from me, there would be consequences. Most likely it would be me coming to speak to him or maybe a loss of some privilege. If we don't obey the commands Jesus gave us from the Father, there may be consequences too. Those consequences could have a lasting, and maybe eternal, impact, either on our own relationship with God, our relationships with other people or the relationship other people have with God.

Our thought for the week, then, is "Are we obeying the messenger?"

February 15, 2017

5 More Things I Learned While Flow Quilting

Okay, technically my first post in this series was titled "5 Things I Learned While Grafitti Quilting," but then Yvonne (Quilting Jetgirl) had a discussion on her blog about what to call this style of quilting and in the course of that discussion a few of us started calling it flow quilting. It's the same style of quilting, but flow quilting describes it better, we feel.

Over the course of 2 weeks, I spent about 30 hours flow quilting the negative space in this magazine project. I can't show you the whole thing yet, but the texture of the quilting is amazing!

Here are the things I learned in those 30 hours of flow quilting.
5 Things I Learned while Flow Quilting | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

1. Once you learn to quilt a design at a certain size, it's hard to quilt it bigger.

Boy did I struggle with this one! Because I started doing free motion quilting without an extension table, I only had a small space in which to work. That meant I did all my designs very small and I have a hard time making them bigger. I started this quilt knowing there was a lot of negative space to fill in, so I kept telling myself 'large scale, large scale,' but I don't know that I actually succeeded 😊
Flow quilting | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

In my defense, here's the scale I usually quilt, so I did manage to quilt somewhat bigger. I could certainly have gone bigger, though.
This is detail from my X Marks the Spot quilt

2. Relax and figure out how to do fmq without tensing every muscle in your body.

Spending two or more hours quilting every singe day meant that every bit of tension in my body became more and more noticeable as the days went on. When reading the comments on one of Christa Watson's posts recently, I saw that she said "I’ve noticed that it’s difficult to get an ergonomic setup for short people (like me) so the next best thing is to take lots of sewing breaks and stretch when needed" and I so agree! If you could see my setup, you would laugh. I have a box on the floor with books on it, trying to stop myself from twisting to keep my left (non-driving) foot on the floor, plus I sit on a book on my chair to raise me up high enough to be comfortable with the height of my sewing machine and extension table on the kitchen table. It's crazy! It kind of works, though, and I'm able to relax more than when I'm straining to reach. I still have to remind myself to relax as I seem to have a tendency to tense up, but I'm working on that.

3. Take breaks to walk around (see #2)

Even with the best setup, and even if you remember not to tense up as you quilt, quilting is still a lot of strain on your muscles. It's a good idea to get up and walk around now and then to really relax and stretch. If you take breaks, you'll be able to quilt comfortably longer, which is definitely a good thing!

4. If you lose track of where you're going and quilt right through the middle of a pebble, no one will ever know.

I know that I quilted right through the middle of at least one pebble, but no one will ever be able to find it...even me! There are probably thousands of pebbles in this throw quilt, so finding one that has a mistake would be impossible. Try your best to make each motif perfectly, but don't stress about little imperfections, especially when there are so many motifs in the whole quilt.
Flow quilting | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

5. If you're flow quilting a large quilt, make sure you have lots of time and lots of thread.

30+ hours in a two week period (while also working full-time) meant I had to quilt every single night and even more on the weekends. Since I had a deadline, I worried a little about whether or not I'd have enough time to finish. If I'd had more time, or if I'd been able to quilt at a larger scale, I wouldn't have had to worry.

As for the thread, I ordered two spools of Aurifil 2610 for the quilting and I'm so glad I did. Flow quilting really eats up the thread! I used about half of the second spool, which means I used roughly 2000m, or 2 km, of thread 😊 I'm always amazed when I think about the distance the thread I've used could cover!

So that's what I've learned with my most recent flow quilting. Do you have any lessons you've learned while quilting? Add them in the comments below if you do 😊

February 13, 2017

Is It Well?

Devotion for the Week...

For the past couple of weeks now I've had an old hymn running through my mind. It is "It Is Well with My Soul" by Horatio Spafford. We sang it in church one Sunday and ever since then I've been finding bits of it popping into my head at random times through the day. Does that happen to you too? It bugs me when it happens with songs I don't like, but thankfully, I like this one.

The simplified gist of the song says that no matter what happens in life, everything is okay with my soul. It doesn't say that life is perfect or that nothing ever goes wrong. In fact, it says "when sorrows like sea billows roll" and "though trials should come" still, even then, "it is well with my soul."

It's not that the song makes light of those hard times, either. 'Sorrows like sea billows' makes me think of overwhelming sadness, which makes sense since Spafford wrote the hymn after losing four daughters when their ship sank. He had previously lost a son and suffered financial loss after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The man knew what it meant to have sorrows like sea billows roll through his life.

So how could he, and how can we, say "it is well with my soul"? The answer lies in verse 2, which says, "That Christ has regarded my helpless estate, And hath shed His own blood for my soul." Jesus died for us. He didn't die to keep us from the sorrows and trials of this world, which are all part of living in a sinful world, but He died to make our souls well.

We can't escape the troubles of life. Being a Christian is no guarantee of a perfect, problem-free life. Jesus even said, "In this world you will have trouble" (John 16:33). We shouldn't be surprised when bad things happen, even to good people, because it's all part of living in a world where sin runs rampant.

But that's not the end of the story. Jesus died to free us from the mastery of sin, to bring us back into eternal life with God. "For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins" (Colossians 3:13,14). And that is why it is well with our souls. No matter what life may throw at us, nothing can take away the redemption and the forgiveness of sins given to us through faith in Jesus as our savior.

The most important question of all, then, is this: Is it well with your soul? Do you believe that Jesus died for your sins? If you do, then, no matter what, your soul is secure in Him. If you don't, nothing else I write here can make your soul well. There is no way to be enough of a 'good person' without Jesus.

Weekly devotions on Christian living | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

If it is not well with your soul and you'd like to learn more about Jesus, feel free to ask questions in the comments, or email them to me: devotedquilter at gmail dot com. I would love for it to be well with your soul too 😊

February 08, 2017

Linda's First Quilt

As part of the 'My First Quilt' link party, I'm posting for those readers who don't have blogs so that as many people as possible can participate and share about their first quilts.
My First Quilt link party | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

This post is for Linda, who writes:

Technically this is not my first quilt.  I made giant log cabin 35 years ago as part of teaching a quilting course.  The “logs” were about 4 inches thick and there were four giant blocks.  I basted it on my kitchen floor – at 7 months pregnant with our third child.  It took 8 hours.  Then I quilted it on a hoop through the fall and over the winter. We used it every night and wore it out in about 10 years.

And then there with the appliques butterfly quilt that took 9 years to finish because my husband didn’t like me sewing on it all the time.  My kids told me I had to finish that one before I started the next one which happens to be the pictured quilt. 
Linda's First Quilt | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

I made this quilt for my son and his wife when they married in 2003.  I bought the fabric in April and finished binding the quilt the evening before the wedding in September.  It was hand quilted by the ladies in the church I worked out of at the time.  It is called “Love on Stormy Seas”.  If you look very carefully there is a heart in a deep green in the bottom left corner of the picture.  I consider it my first quilt because I made it entirely following the pattern – something I very rarely do.  The heart in green came about because the bride’s favourite colour is green.  Apparently I made it too subtle as she still can’t see the heart unless it is pointed out to her.  Just this New Year’s I enlisted my grand daughter’s assistance – only fair since she spilled nail polish on it – to applique coloured hearts onto it.  these covered the stains and marked the years of her mom & dad’s marriage.  Think it’s time I made them a new quilt – and I have one in mind for them.  Maybe for their 20th anniversary?

Linda sent me a second email, which said:

Forgot to mention that I was complimented on my “points”.  Funny thing was I didn’t know this was a difficult pattern.  I thought it was easy and engaging.  I’d been sewing since I was 11 though.  I thought points were supposed to meet properly!

That made me laugh out loud! Sometimes it's great to not realize a pattern is supposed to be difficult so you aren't intimidated by it 😊 

I love your quilt, Linda, and the story that goes along with it. Thank you for sharing it!