April 30, 2018

Not for Rewards

Devotion for the Week...

Nathan is very excited because his freestanding basketball net is finally free of snow where we had it laid on its side in the backyard, so he can now get it out and start shooting hoops again. He scored the net for free last summer, just by being his normal friendly self.

Nathan loves to make new friends, so whenever there's a new kid around he will always see if they want to play. Last summer there was a boy visiting his grandparents up the road and his grandfather dug out the old basketball net from when the boy's father was young. Nathan spent most of that week playing basketball with him. Then, one evening, he came home telling me that the boy was going home the next day and his dad said Nathan could have the net. Sure enough, when Paul went up to investigate, it turned out that the grandparents were moving and not taking the net with them, so they gave it to Nathan.

After telling someone this story recently, I thought a lot about how Nathan got the net just by being his normal self. He wasn't trying to get a reward, but the reward came because of his friendly nature.

Ephesians 2:10 says "He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago." It is God's intention that His people do good in this world, not because we're looking for a reward, but because that is now who we are in Him. We have been made new in Christ Jesus, made to be like Him, and good should naturally flow out of that transformation.

Paul also wrote, "So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith" (Galatians 6:9, 10). What this verse is really saying is that doing good, especially to other believers, should be our normal.

Sometimes, though, we get tired of doing good because we don't see any result from it. We get tired of being nice to unfriendly or ungrateful people, or we get tired of always being the one to lend a hand when it seems like others can't be bothered to help. Paul is telling us to keep at it, that the reward will come in the end if we just keep doing the good things we've been called to do.
Weekly devotions on Christian living | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
I think the easiest way to keep doing the good things is to forget about the reward that will come. Just focus on finding joy in doing the good and leave the results of it out altogether. Be like Nathan, making a new friend just because that's what he loves to do, and then being pleasantly surprised with a gift in the end.

Honestly, doing good things just to get a reward is a recipe for burnout, especially when those rewards are slow in coming. But if we find our reward in the act of doing good and in being more and more like Jesus, then we can keep at it, not getting tired or losing heart. And then any blessings or rewards that come our way will just be the icing on the cake.

Or maybe the basketball net in the front yard 😊

April 29, 2018

April Island Batik Challenge - Northern Woods

Note, the fabrics for the top of this quilt were given to me as part of the Island Batik ambassador program.

As I mentioned in a previous post, the April challenge for the Island Batik ambassadors is Looking Back: Vintage Quilts Inspiring New Creations.
And here's my quilt, squeaking in just before the end of the month 😊 I've actually had the quilt finished for ages, but available time+available quilt holders+decent weather proved a difficult combination to achieve.
Northern Woods quilt | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
I didn't use any one particular traditional quilt as my inspiration, but rather three traditional blocks - the pinwheel, four patch and signature blocks (though I didn't use the spaces for signatures).

I used Island Batik's Northern Woods line for this quilt. I love the fun pops of teal with the oranges, browns and creams. I also love the forest inspired prints. There are tree trunks, grasses and pinecones, along with mottled prints. Island Batik sent me a 10" square bundle of the line, all of which I used for the blocks. They also sent yardage of two of the prints (a light and a dark), which I used for the center squares, the borders and the binding.
Northern Woods quilt | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

Northern Woods quilt | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
I think this snowflake print is my favourite. I wish I could have yardage of it in a whole range of colours!
Northern Woods quilt | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
The funny thing is, I had this post mostly written, including the wish for yardage of this fabric, when a surprise bundle of fabric arrived in the mail. In that bundle? A fat quarter of the snowflake print in blue! I haven't decided yet how I'll use it, but I'm definitely considering my options 😊
Island Batik snowflake in blue | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
I used Aurifil 2210 (Caramel) to quilt a wood grain design, which certainly fit with the fabrics. I used Hobb's 80/20 batting, which was also given to me as part of the Island Batik ambassador program.

This pattern is currently with testers and I'm anxious to see their versions. It's always so much fun to see my patterns in fabrics chosen by other quilters. I know one of the testers is using solids, which will give it a completely different look.

I do need a little help though. I can't decide what to name this quilt. I've been calling it Northern Woods, just because that's the name of the fabric line, but that doesn't fit the pattern at all. I'd love to have some suggestions! What would you call it?
Northern Woods quilt | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Thank you to Island Batik for the beautiful fabrics and for the challenge to create something along a given theme each month 😊 I'm having fun as an ambassador!

April 24, 2018

Echoed Hearts Quilting

I have been having a lot of fun with new free motion quilting designs lately 😊 First there was the wood grain quilting and now this fantastic echoed hearts design.
Echoed heart free motion quilting | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
I first saw this design on Pinterest, but unfortunately the pin doesn't go to a post about it. In looking at the pin again, I see that I've made it more dense than in the picture, but that's no surprise to me. I do like dense quilting!

If you asked me to draw a couple dozen hearts, they'd probably turn out just like these quilted ones...a few perfectly shaped, a few lopsided, some long and skinny, some short and fat. I love the variety of them.
Echoed heart free motion quilting | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
I'm using Aurifil 5006 and the fabrics are both from Northcott's Essense line, with Warm and Natural batting. (Side note...Paul bought me the Essence fabric in green for Christmas, not knowing that I had requested it from Northcott in these two colours for this quilt. It just goes to show he knows my style well 😊)

Having the Aurifil thread chart really came in handy for matching the thread to the aqua and the 5006 is a perfect match. I love that on the front you get the texture of the hearts without the thread colour affecting the look of the quilt. But on the back, just look how that 5006 pops against the red!
Echoed heart free motion quilting | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Every time I finish quilting and have to put things away, I have to lay the quilt out flat first, with the back up so that I can admire how pretty this looks. I can't decide which side I like best!

I've said before that I sew at our kitchen table, which means that I'm constantly having to put everything away when I'm finished. I wish I could just leave it looking like it did on Sunday afternoon.
That Essence fabric is gorgeous, isn't it?
Have you tried any new quilting designs lately? I'm always on the lookout for something fun to try 😊

April 23, 2018

Four Friends

Devotion for the Week...

Have you ever wanted to be a celebrity? When I was a kid I thought it would be so cool to be a movie star or a model and have everybody know my name. As I got older, though, I realized that having everyone know my name would also mean being followed everywhere by people with cameras who recorded my every move. I realized how hard it would be to do normal, everyday things and decided that being a celebrity didn't sound nearly as interesting anymore.

Jesus was a celebrity in His day. Wherever He went, crowds of people would appear to listen to Him teach, to be healed of all kinds of diseases and even just to watch Him. The religious leaders seemed to be often present as well, but they were there to watch for mistakes and for ways they could discredit Him.

Just look at the opening of Mark, chapter 2: "When Jesus returned to Capernaum several days later, the news spread quickly that he was back home. Soon the house where he was staying was so packed with visitors that there was no more room, even outside the door." Just imagine a house so packed that people were crowding around the door hoping to get in.

Into this crowd come five men. "While he was preaching God’s word to them, four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a mat" (vv.2,3). More people hoping to get close to Jesus and get help for their friend, only to find the way is completely blocked. There wasn't room for even one man to squeeze through the crowd, let alone for four of them carrying another man on a mat. When I taught this story in children's church a few weeks ago, one of the kids was confused by the word 'mat' so I told him it was like a stretcher. Picture four men, each holding the corner of a stretcher and that's the amount of space they needed to get through the crowd. There wasn't anywhere near that much space available!

The four men weren't about to give up, though. They believed that if they could just get access to Jesus, if they could get close enough to get His attention, then their friend could be healed. Since they were unable to get through the door, "they dug a hole through the roof above his head. Then they lowered the man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus" (v.4).

Once again, the Bible's lack of details makes this seem like it took only a second or two, but I'm guessing this was a fair bit of work for them. Even though roofs in that time were dirt and thatch, rather than wood and shingles, I still think it took them a while to dig a hole big enough for the mat they wanted to lower down. It was big enough for a man to lie on, remember, so it would need to be a big hole. Did people try to stop them? It would have made noise, after all, and probably sent clumps of dirt down into the room below them. Whoever owned the house probably wasn't keen on having a huge hole in his roof.

Regardless of how much time and effort it took, or who tried to stop them, the four men persevered and brought their friend to Jesus, who did forgive his sins and heal him. It's not actually Jesus' part in this story that interests me right now, though. What strikes me about this story is how hard those four men had to work to bring their friend to Jesus. Even before they had to dig a hole through a roof to get access to Jesus, they also had to carry their friend to that house. Who knows how far they carried him? It could have been from only a few houses over or it could have been an hour's walk or more. We don't know.

If you're like me, then you know and love people who are sick. People who are hurting in some way. People who need access to Jesus. Thankfully, we don't have to carry them through the streets to bring them to Jesus. Nor do we have to dig a hole through the roof because the crowd keeps us too far away for Jesus to see the need.

Jesus promised us, "I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). We don't have to travel to Him or push through a crowd of people blocking our way. Jesus is simply with us at all times. Unlike those four friends, we have easy access to Him.

When we have a need, or when someone we love has a need, Jesus tells us "You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!" (John 14:13,14).

Unlike those four men struggling to bring their friend to Jesus, we can bring any need we have to Him at any moment. We have instant, easy access to Him whenever we want, through prayer.
Weekly devotions on Christian living | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
The question is, are we making use of it? Are we going to Him in prayer regularly, bringing Him the needs we see around us?

Sometimes being able to do something easily, whenever we want, means we hardly ever do it. Are we doing that with prayer too? Or are we determined, like those four friends, bringing every need we can to Jesus?

April 18, 2018

30 Quilt Designs Challenge 2018

Sandra, at Musings of a Menopausal Melon, hosted the #30quiltdesignschallenge2018 on Instagram, which has just finished up. I had a blast participating again and my to-make list is lots longer than it was before we started, lol.

Not only that, but some of the quilts are already finished or in progress 😊 The doll quilts I made a few weeks ago were design #8, and my April Island Batik challenge quilt is design #15. That one just needs binding and then I'll be able to share the finished quilt. I also have all the fabric I need for design #3, which is scheduled for an upcoming issue of Make Modern magazine, so I won't share the picture here. Last, but not least, my plan for my June Island Batik challenge quilt is to use design #16, though it won't be in these colours.
Quilt designs | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Here are some of my other favourites from the challenge. If you see one you think I should make and write the pattern for, be sure to let me know!

This was design #30, which reminds me of sunflower fields.
Quilt designs | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
 Design #2 - Boxed In
Quilt designs | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Design #28. I see this one made with recycled jeans for the strippy squares. I have dozens of pairs of old jeans stuck in a closet, so I could easily make a few of these!
Quilt designs | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
I love this design, #27, which I nicknamed A Million Pieces, because it looks like that's what it would take to make it!
Quilt designs | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
A huge thank you to Sandra for hosting the challenge and to the sponsors Clinton Modern Creative and The Red Hen Shop

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a whole bunch of quilts to fit into my schedule, somehow 😊

April 16, 2018

Stash Statement Blog Hop

Kelly, of My Quilt Infatuation, is launching her new book Stash Statement and to celebrate there's a big blog hop starting today.
Stash Statement by Kelly Young | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
I was thrilled when Kelly asked me to be part of the blog hop and I can't wait to share my quilt late in May. You've seen some sneak peeks of my quilt already, here and here.

My background fabric arrived a few days ago. It's an Island Batik fabric, from their Foundations Blenders line.
Island Batik background fabric | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Isn't it pretty? I just have to finish up two other quilts and then I can get back to getting this one put together. Why aren't there more sewing hours in the day?

There are some gorgeous quilts in the book and a lot of wonderful bloggers are taking part, so you can be sure the blog hop will be a lot of fun. Here's the full list so you can check them all out.

Stash Statement Blog Tour Schedule-

4/16- Grand Bazaar    Shelley @ Cora's Quilts
                                    Connie @ Freemotion by the River

                           Diann @ Little Penguin Quilts

4/30- Precarious  Jess @ Quilty Habit                       
                             Myra @ Busy Hands Quilts
5/7- Beach Retreat  Sarah @ Sarah Goer Quilts                               
                                 Liz @ Savor Every Stitch 
5/14- Fire Pit   Alison @ Little Bunny Quilts                                          
                         Preeti @ Sew Preeti Quilts
5/21- Detour    Laura @ Slice of Pi Quilts                         
                         Shelley @ The Carpenter's Daughter Who Quilts
5/28- Murrina    Yvonne @ Quilting Jetgirl             
                            Leanne @ Devoted Quilter
6/4- Scattered    Jayne @ Twiggy and Opal                      
                           Christine @ Triangles and Squares 
6/11- Bloom Chicka Boom   Chris @ made by ChrissieD            
                                               Michelle @ From Bolt to Beauty
6/18- Regatta   Susan @ Quilt Fabrication                             
                          Debbie @ A Quilter's Table    
                          Christa @ Christa Quilts
6/25- Catch a Falling Star  Cynthia @ Quilting is More Fun Than Housework        
                                              Anja @ Anja Quilts
7/2- College Prep   Hilary @ by Hilary Jordan                 
                                Lori @ Crossquilt
7/9- Take Flight (bonus digital pattern)  Kelli @ Seriously, I Think It Needs Stitches 
                                                                 Paula @ The Sassy Quilter

I'm really looking forward to seeing all of the different, wonderful and scrappy quilts over the next few weeks!

Wavy Borders

Devotion for the Week...

My local quilt shop owner recently bought a long arm machine. After she'd had it for a while, she started offering long arm quilting services and a while after that I asked her how things were going. She is really enjoying the quilting, but we had a good laugh together about wavy borders.

"I never understood what other long armers were talking about when they complained about wavy borders," she told me. "I thought they were just being over dramatic, but they weren't! One quilt I had was 6" wider at the ends than it was in the middle!"

Wavy borders happen when quilters cut a strip of fabric to be the border, but they don't measure the quilt and cut the length of the border to fit. Instead they just start sewing it on and when they reach the end of the quilt, they cut the border even with the edge of the quilt top. The problem is that as we sew, we tend to stretch the fabric just slightly. If you're adding multiple borders, stretching the edge each time, then the edge of the quilt gets bigger and bigger while the middle of the quilt stays the same size. It's a slightly hourglass-like shape when it's supposed to be a perfect rectangle. Then, when a long arm quilter is trying to make the quilt edges square up, there's all kinds of extra fabric in the borders, which makes it almost impossible to quilt the border smooth and flat.

She tried to explain this to a couple of customers, but they just waved their hands and shook their heads. "I've been quilting for thirty years. I know how to put on a border," was a typical response.

 Obviously, sewing on quilt borders is an inconsequential thing. Whether it's done properly or not doesn't have an effect on much at all (except the long armers patience, probably). But it is a good example of an attitude we can all exhibit at times.

"I've done this before. You don't need to tell me what to do."

Proverbs 10:8 says, "The wise are glad to be instructed, but babbling fools fall flat on their faces." In that moment, when someone is trying to correct something we're doing wrong, we have a choice. We can listen or we can wave them off and insist we know what we're doing.

The other person won't always be right and we might actually know what we're doing, but that's not the issue here. The issue is our attitude. Do we just assume that we know what we're doing, without being willing to listen to what the other person is suggesting? Or are we willing to consider another point of view, another way, and in so doing maybe find something valuable?

A person is not wise because they know everything. Dictionary.com defines wise as "having the power of discerning and judging properly what is true or right." Being wise, then, starts with being willing to listen to what others have to say, even if they're saying we're doing something wrong. Being wise means we listen to them and then evaluate whether or not we think they're right.

And if they're right, of course, then we do our best to incorporate their advice into our lives. We let their instructions change us for the better. Proverbs 15:If you listen to constructive criticism, you will be at home among the wise."
Weekly devotions on Christian living | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
The next time someone offers a little constructive criticism, let's take a moment and think about what they're saying, rather than brushing it off. I'd rather be at home among the wise than be a babbling fool, insisting I know everything I need to know, and falling flat on my face. Wouldn't you?

April 12, 2018

Wood Grain Quilting

A few days ago, I had my April Island Batik challenge quilt pieced, but I couldn't decide what to quilt it with. I considered wood grain quilting, which I've admired for a long time, but for some reason I thought it was a complicated design to stitch. Unsure what to do, I posted on Instagram, asking for suggestions.

Wouldn't you know it, wood grain was the very first suggestion!

I found this great tutorial by Angela Walters, which also shows three common mistakes people make when quilting wood grain (and how to fix them without ripping anything out) and that's when I realized how simple this design actually is. I'll just add this to the many (many!) things I would love to personally thank Angela for someday 😊

Here's a shot of my first few rows of wood grain quilting.
Wood grain quilting | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
One of the best things about this design is that it doesn't need to look perfect. The organic look of the lines just makes it look more natural. As long as I don't forget where I'm going, lol, little variations will just blend right in 😊

And here's how they look on the back of the quilt. I really love the orange thread (Aurifil 2210)  on the green backing fabric. It's not a big contrast, but it's different enough that it shows and that seems perfect for this quilt. The first of these two pictures shows the colour of the backing fabric most accurately.
Wood grain quilting | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Wood grain quilting | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Have you tried any new quilting designs lately?

Thank you to Island Batik for giving me the fabrics for the front of this quilt as part of their ambassador program!

April 09, 2018

It Never Ends

Devotion for the Week...

I'm sure you've heard the phrase, "A woman's work is never done." How true is that?? I know that for me, it often feels like there just aren't enough hours in the day for all that I have to do (day job, housecleaning, laundry) and that I want to do (quilting!) and all of the things that are being left undone can sometimes feel overwhelming.

Imagine my surprise when I read a familiar section of the Bible and discovered that Jesus fully understands that feeling!

To set the scene for you, Jesus had spent the previous evening healing people in the town of Capernaum. We're told, in fact, that "The whole town gathered at the door" (Mark 1:33). Though Jesus healed 'many' you can be sure that in a crowd the size of a whole town, there were also many who didn't get to the front of the line to be healed that night.

Then, "Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: 'Everyone is looking for you!'

Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons" (vv. 35-39).

I've said before, the Bible doesn't give us much in the way of details to help us picture the scene. It's not like a novel where every sigh or smile is detailed to make you feel like you can see everything that's happening. That's probably a good thing...the Bible would be several volumes long if it did have all those details! But it does mean that we can sometimes gloss over the emotional side of the story as we're reading.

Just imagine how you would feel if you had gotten up early to get a few quiet moments to pray by yourself, but before long your friends pour into your quiet place, exclaiming "Everyone is looking for you!" Can you feel the weight of the expectations on your shoulders, the weariness that would fall on you at those words?

Because when Peter says 'everyone' he really means all of the townspeople who need something from Jesus or who want to see the miracles He can perform, or who just want to sit and listen to Him teach. There was still plenty of work to be done in Capernaum.

Jesus wasn't turning His back on the people in Capernaum when He suggested they go to the nearby villages rather than returning to where they had already been. It wasn't that their needs were unimportant to Him, or that the people in the other villages were more deserving of healing. It was simply that Jesus knew His time was limited. He couldn't stay in Capernaum and heal everyone there. He was needed in other places too.

Hebrews 4:15,16 says, "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."

Yes, this verse is usually used to remind us that Jesus understands our weakness in relation to sin and temptation. He was tempted as we were, after all, but didn't sin. But after thinking about Jesus being maybe a little overwhelmed by the amount of work that needed to be done in the world, I thought about how He understands all of our weaknesses.
Weekly devotions on Christian living | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
He understands our physical limitations, that we need times of rest and rejuvenation. He understands the limits that come from having only 24 hours in a day and how sometimes that just isn't enough to meet all of the needs around us.

Isn't it wonderful to know that Jesus understands all of our weaknesses?

April 02, 2018

He is Risen!

Devotion for the Week...

We did an Easter craft with the kids at our mid-week kids program at church last week. On it was printed the words "He is risen!"

When we got home, Nathan asked why it says He is risen, rather than He has risen. I told him that it's because Jesus is still risen and we left it at that. I kept thinking about it afterwards, though, and wondering which word the Bible uses, so I looked it up and discovered that the word used depends on which version of the Bible you're reading. Here is Matthew 28:5,6 in a few different versions:

NIV - The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.

KJV - And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said.

NLT - Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen.

Then I did a little grammar research and discovered that used this way, the word has plus another verb is the present perfect tense, which can be used to describe "An action or situation that started in the past and continues in the present." For example, she has lived here for two years.

So no matter which version you're reading, the verse means that Jesus rose from the dead that one miraculous morning, and His life continues into the present. In all of the years between then and now, He didn't die again.

He is still risen!
Weekly devotions on Christian living | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com