November 18, 2019

Why Not Me?

Devotion for the Week...

There is a woman in our church whose son had spina bifida. Shortly after we moved here, I heard her talking about when he was a baby and she was having a "why me?" moment. She said that the "why me?" was quickly followed by the thought, "why not me?" After all, she said, she had strong family support around her, to help with caring for him. Thanks to that family support, they were able to make it so her son could do things that might have seemed impossible to others, like hunting in the woods with his father and grandfather, despite being in a wheelchair. Her "why not me?" has always stayed with me because it recognizes that hard things are going to come to us all.

We desperately want the hard things in life to happen to other people, while we experience nothing but the good and easy things. That's not the way it happens, though. There is no trouble free life track. None of us are immune and we shouldn't be surprised when the hard things come at us.

Being a good person isn't insurance against trouble in life. Neither is being a Christian. In fact, the Bible shows us plenty of examples of people who were good and still suffered, people who believed in Jesus and served Him to the best of their ability and still suffered.

Think of Joseph, who was a slave in Potiphar's house, in charge of everything Potiphar owned. He refused to sleep with Potiphar's wife, leaving the house so fast "he left his cloak in her hand as he ran from the house" (Genesis 39:12). Realizing she couldn't have him, she screamed and told the servants that he tried to rape her and then ran when she screamed. This landed Joseph in jail, where he languished for years, even though he had done nothing wrong.

Then there's Paul, who traveled around teaching people about Jesus and starting churches. Locals often didn't like his teachings, whether because they were Jews who didn't want him teaching about Jesus or because their own livelihoods were threatened since people who worship Jesus wouldn't be worship the local goddess (as was the case in Ephesus). Riots happened at times because people got so stirred up in opposition to Paul's teaching. Then, when Paul returned to Jerusalem, another riot broke out, which resulted in him being taken to prison while the commander of the Roman regiment tried to figure out what was going on (beginning in Acts 21). To make a long story short, Paul spent the rest of his years in prison. Like Joseph, though, Paul had done nothing wrong!

It would likely have been easy for Joseph and Paul to wallow in self-pity, crying, "why me," but I get the feeling that they were more inclined to think, "why not me?" They chose to continue to serve God in whatever circumstances they found themselves, just as the mom in my church chose to work to give her son the best she could despite the health challenges they faced.
Jesus has overcome every trouble we will face |
Background quilt is Pinwheel Garden
Jesus told us, "Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Hard things will come, no matter how much we wish to avoid them, because they are simply part of life. We have the choice, though, to cling to an attitude of self-pity and "why me?" or to recognize and accept that trouble will come. When it does, we also have the assurance that Jesus has overcome every trouble we may face. We have His support through it all and nothing is stronger than that.

November 15, 2019

Freezer Paper Magic

The Island Batik ambassadors are divided in half for the November challenge. Half are participating in the A Piece Of blog hop, showcasing gorgeous new fabric collections that will be shipping to shops soon. Visit the Island Batik blog for the full schedule for the blog hop. There are lots of amazing projects being shared, plus great giveaways.

Those of us who aren't part of the blog hop have a different challenge - to use one of the many tools in our sewing rooms in the creation of our quilt. This is my fabric pull for my quilt.
Fabric pull of Island Batik fabrics |
After A LOT of pondering, I decided to use freezer paper as my tool. Have you ever heard of using freezer paper rather than paper for paper piecing? I had heard that it meant not having to remove all those bits of paper afterwards and, since that was always my least favourite part of paper piecing, I figured it was time to give it a try.

I followed this tutorial from Bryan House Quilts and it's like magic!! Just watch this...
I have almost all of the blocks made for this quilt now and I am amazed by how easy this version of foundation piecing is. This is definitely a game changer for me.
foundation piecing with freezer paper |
I hope to have the quilt top finished this weekend. I have less than a dozen blocks to make, so it won't take long to get them done. What are your sewing plans for the weekend?

November 13, 2019

Quilters Can Learn to Sew Clothes!

Back near the beginning of the year, Michelle of From Bolt to Beauty wrote a post explaining all the reasons why she's certain quilters can learn to sew bags, too. She started off by mentioning that she has noticed that many quilters avoid making anything 3D, even if they are accomplished quilters.

Like Michelle, I have heard/read quilters saying they they're scared of 3D sewing. And as much as I wanted to learn garment sewing, I was terrified because clothes have to not only look well made, they also have to FIT. Add in the fact that knit fabrics stretch and I was stuck for years, wanting to sew clothes, but scared to try.

Well, I know for sure that quilters can learn to sew garments, too, even garments made from knit fabric. How do I know? Because I've done it! I've sewn quite a few garments now and I love wearing my me-mades. I started out by using woven fabrics, like quilting cotton, denim and poplin (no stretch!), but I've since made the leap into using knit fabrics.
Quilters can learn to sew clothes |
Are my garments perfect? Not at all, but I can still wear them in public and I see improvement with each garment I finish 😊 To be honest, I've been surprised by just how much I've enjoyed being a beginner again.
Everyday Skirt |
An Everyday Skirt made in Island Batik rayon
Are you interested in learning to sew garments, too? You can do it! As a quilter, you've already mastered using your sewing machine, so that's one big hurdle taken care of. You don't need to invest in a serger. I have one that I was given years ago, and I have used it for some things, but not everything. I didn't use it for the Summer Basics dresses at all.  As long as you have a regular sewing machine that can sew a zig zag stitch, you're good to go.

Some of your quilting skills will transfer nicely to garment sewing, too. The one that surprised me the most was how similar attaching a sleeve is to sewing a curved block like drunkard's path. Now you just need to expand your skills!

Learn the Basics

Start by finding a good resource that explains terms and techniques. I started out with the book, Love at First Stitch, which is a beginner's guide to making clothes with woven fabrics. It walks you through a series of projects that build your skills as you go. There's now also a companion book for sewing with knit fabrics, but I haven't actually looked through that one. Your local library may have a good book or two, so check there as well.
Summer Basics dress |

Buying Fabric

Buying knit fabric online can be tough when you're starting out because it's so hard to tell what the quality of the fabric will be like. Plus, if you're anything like me, you don't want to spend a ton of money on the best quality fabric, only to make a hash of sewing the garment. On the other hand, though, using good quality fabric makes for a better experience all around. So, look for fabric that's on sale! I also find that solid fabrics tend to be cheaper than prints, so when I was making my Summer Basics dresses I started with a solid fabric to test the fit and then used the more expensive fabric for the second dress (shown above). If you're lucky enough to live near a fabric shop where you can actually touch the fabric and talk to people, use that resource! I can't do that unless we're in a city 7 hours away, so it doesn't happen often. Online is my go-to. So far I've been very happy with what I've bought from L'Oiseaux Fabrics and Black Rabbit Fabrics.

What to Make?

There are loads of independent designers who sell PDF patterns, so you should have no problem finding something you like. I highly recommend Love Notions patterns. They have a lot of different patterns, in different styles, for women, men and children and some of their patterns include up to 5X sizes. The patterns are clearly written and make it easy to sew each step even if you don't know what you're doing (yet!). They also have a big facebook group where the members are helpful and supportive and I've always had answers to my questions very quickly. I'm not associated with Love Notions in any way, just a very happy customer, with a growing wardrobe of LN garments 😊 So far I've made the Constellation, three Summer Basics dresses, a Laundry Day Tee dress and a Terra Tunic. I have several other patterns I just haven't had time to make yet.

I've also made two Slim Fit Raglans from Patterns for Pirates and I have plans to make more. I'm wearing one of them as I finish up this post 😊 Patterns for Pirates has patterns for the whole family, too. They even have some free patterns for sewing for baby. I've printed out the Wee Lap Tee to make for some babies that are due in the next few months.

Give it a Try!

Are you convinced to try sewing clothes yet? Give it a try and I'm sure you'll agree that quilters can learn to sew clothes, too!

Pin this so other quilters will see it and maybe be inspired to try, too 😊
Quilters can learn to sew clothes, too |

November 11, 2019


Devotion for the Week...

My husband's grandparents were devout people and, as was common in their time, were strict about observing a day of rest on Sunday. She would prepare the food for the day ahead of time, often working late on Saturday night to have everything ready. I was amused to learn that sometimes she would set the kitchen clock back a little bit so that when her husband would call out around midnight to say that it was now Sunday, she would reply, "It's still Saturday in the kitchen" and keep working. 😊 It makes me smile whenever I think of it. She followed the rule of not working on Sundays, but she could be a little flexible about it when needed, too.

Over the years there have been plenty of rules for believers, and those rules have sometimes varied wildly depending on denomination or geography. I remember hearing Chuck Swindoll of Insight for Living talk once about an international conference of pastors he attended, where the American pastors were surprised by the German pastors, all of whom drank beer with their meals. The American rules say pastors don't drink beer, but apparently that's not part of the German rules.

Paul wrote to the believers in Colosse, "You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world. So why do you keep on following the rules of the world, such as, “Don’t handle! Don’t taste! Don’t touch!”? Such rules are mere human teachings about things that deteriorate as we use them. These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires" (Colossians 2:20-23).

I love that he calls out the rules that are only designed to make people look religious. These man-made rules have nothing to do with the state of a person's heart, but only with how they act. The two can (and should!) be the same, but they aren't always. A person can put on a good show of following all the right rules, while at the same time their heart is far from God. The Pharisees were a perfect example of this. They had an incredibly long list of rules they followed, yet Jesus spoke most harshly to them, calling them hypocrites, white washed tombs and vipers (Matthew 23:1-36).
It's not the rules we follow that matter, it's our relationship with Jesus |
Background quilt is Flower Path
It's not the rules we follow that matter, it's our relationship with Jesus. If our relationship with Him is what it should be, then our actions will naturally reflect that. If it's not, then no adherence to man-made rules will make any difference.

November 05, 2019

Flower Path in Make Modern

Flower Path quilt |
I am excited to finally get to share another quilt with you! Flower Path is in issue 31 of Make Modern magazine, which is now available. Use code '31for6' by November 10th to get it for $6 AUD.
Flower Path quilt |
The design for this one came about through playing around with an orange peel block in EQ8. I wanted to see what I could come up with if I put the orange peel in some blocks, but not others. I can't remember how long I spent moving those blocks around, but eventually I hit upon this arrangement and I loved it, which of course meant it had to get made 😊

I used Island Batik Foundations fabrics in Cherry and Taxi for the orange peels. The background is called Storm and I love the depth in the different blues.

I used a glue stick to attach the orange peels to the background, then stitched around them with a zig zag stitch in matching Aurifil thread. I used 1135 for the yellow and 2270 for the red. I find I really like using a glue stick rather than fusible web for these simple shapes.

Warm and Natural batting and more Storm for the backing and I had a quilt sandwich ready for quilting. I've been basting all my bigger quilts on the foyer floor at our church when there's nothing going on there and it's so convenient. Lots of space and I'm not in anyone's way like when I baste on our kitchen floor. And, since I'm also the church janitor, I have inside knowledge of when the floor has been freshly mopped 😉

I had a lot of fun quilting the yellow flowers created where the orange peels cross. First, I quilted a circle at the end where they meet, going around a couple of times, before stitching arcs back and forth to the other end of the orange peel.
Flower Path quilt |
The red orange peels got wishbones, which are one of my favourite designs to stitch. Quick and simple, plus it's easy to fit them into any size shape.
Flower Path quilt |
Then it was time to quilt the background. First I went around each orange peel, then echoed around them all again. Then I quilted a meander and flower design all over. I tried to quilt big, I really did, but it never seems to work for me, lol.
Flower Path quilt |
The Aurifil 1135 really shows up on the back! You can just barely make out the 2270, too.
Flower Path quilt |
Flower Path quilt |
Pick up your Make Modern issue 31 today. Don't forget that until Sunday, November 10th, you can use code '31for6' to get the issue for only $6 AUD.

November 04, 2019

Let it Snow Table Runner - October Island Batik Ambassador Project

Note, the fabric and other materials used for this project were given to me by Island Batik and their industry partners as part of the Island Batik ambassador program.

I'm a couple of days late with this project, but the Island Batik ambassador challenge for October was to make a seasonal table runner or table topper that featured applique. Here is my Let it Snow table runner/wall hanging (since I don't use table runners at all 😊)
Let it Snow table runner/wall hanging |
I started by cutting 55 3 ½" squares from the gorgeous blue fabric I had left over after making Paul's blue Sparkler quilt. Sewn together in a 5 x 11 layout, they make a background that is 15" x 33".
Let it Snow table runner/wall hanging |
Then I raided my kitchen for applique templates. Since I wanted simple circles, there were plenty of options so I could find the right sizes for my snowman. I ended up choosing a small plate, a plastic container and a small mug.
Let it Snow table runner/wall hanging |
I cut my three circles from Island Batik's Almond fabric, which is one of their Foundations fabrics. I love the small purple dots that remind me of falling snow. I also cut one of each circle from solid white, to put behind the Almond so the blue background wouldn't show through. I then used a glue stick to glue the circles to the background, carefully stacking the white and Almond together. I could have used fusible web, but I didn't have enough and didn't want to bother waiting to get out to buy some.

All of the stitching is done using Aurifil 50 wt thread. I stitched a zig zag around each circle with white (2024). Then, using my free motion foot, I used black (2692) to stitch eyes, a mouth and some buttons. I don't have a bright orange, so I used caramel (2210) for the nose. I used the black to stitch the arms, too, stitching back and forth several times to make them thick enough. In hindsight they would have been more noticeable if I had used brown, but I wasn't about to pick out that mess of stitches to change the colour.
Let it Snow table runner/wall hanging |
Then it was time for the letters, which are also Almond with a layer of solid white underneath. I used the Harrington font, which is included with Microsoft Word. I really love this font (it's also what I use for the titles on my pattern covers), but it wasn't a great choice for the applique. Something a little chunkier would have been better as I could have stitched a little farther in from the edge.
Let it Snow table runner/wall hanging |
As it was, I stitched very, very close to the edge and it made those edges fray quite a bit, even though Island Batik fabrics don't generally fray much. I guess when the needle is only a few threads from the edge, the edge can't hold up as well as usual. Lesson learned 😊 I did use the last bits of my Heat 'n' Bond fusible web for the letters as I knew I wasn't up for trying to glue all those fiddly, skinny letters.
Let it Snow table runner/wall hanging |
Once the applique was finished, I used a scrap of Hobb's 100% cotton batting and an Island Batik print as the backing and basted the runner. Basting something small like a runner goes so fast, lol!

I used very dark navy (2785) for the quilting and started by going around the snowman. I stitched a smidge away from his arms, too, hoping to make them stand out a little more.
Let it Snow table runner/wall hanging |
Then I quilted the background with intersecting wavy lines and left the snowman unquilted. This Island Batik fabric that I used for the back makes me think of Christmas for some reason, even though there's nothing particularly Christmassy about it. It makes the perfect back for my snowman quilt.
When I came to the letters, I stitched carefully around each one, then continued the wavy lines between them. In order to have the lines intersect, I found myself stitching them much closer together between the letters than I had everywhere else, but I wasn't about to go back and fill in the whole background with even more lines. The quilt still lies flat, even with the somewhat uneven quilting, so that's good enough.

I love how the quilting, plus the two layers of applique, makes the letters really stand out.
Let it Snow table runner/wall hanging |
Because I don't use table runners, I used some of the backing fabric to make hanging triangles at the top so I can hang the quilt.
Let it Snow table runner/wall hanging |
Unlike quite a few other places, we haven't had any snow yet. I'm happy to now have a new winter decoration for when the snow does start to fly.
Let it Snow table runner/wall hanging |
If you'd like to make your own Let it Snow table runner or wall hanging, pin this for later 😊
Let it Snow table runner/wall hanging |

Too Important?

Devotion for the Week...

In my first few university classes, I was shocked to see how many people were writing in their books. Whether they were underlining key points, making notes in the margins or highlighting entire passages, I looked on in horror. Writing in books feels sacriligious, like a purposeful act of destruction. I have only ever written in a couple of books and they're all cookbooks, where I made a note of how much of each ingredient to use to double the recipe so I don't have to work it out each time. Even making myself do that takes a bit of convincing, lol.*

One of the reasons I don't like writing in books is that I find the next time I read the book I emphasize whatever is underlined or noted. It changes how I read the passage and removes the possibility of me finding new meaning or new understanding. Whatever is underlined becomes the focus and the only possible way of interpreting what is written. That's why my Bible, especially, will never be marked up.

I often read familiar Bible passages and find a new meaning or angle I had never noticed before. It's not because the meaning changes, but because I notice different parts of the story or passage that make me realize something new. And sometimes it's just that a phrase I usually skim over without really noticing it suddenly jumps out at me. We have the Holy Spirit to thank when that happens. Jesus said "When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth" (John 16:13).

Over the summer I had this happen with Galatians 6:3, which says, "If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important." I know I've read them many times before, but this time those last five words made me stop completely. You are not that important. I love the bluntness of it. No matter what position we hold in society, no matter how much money we have or how many responsibilities we have, we are never so important that we no longer have the obligation to help other people.

This shouldn't come as a surprise, considering Jesus is our role model in all things. He certainly never considered Himself too important to help people...not even when it meant leaving Heaven to come to earth or when it was time to face death on a cross for sins He had not committed. He even said explicitly that we are to be servants, just as He was.

When we see a need, we probably never consciously think "I'm too important to help that person." How often, though, do we think something like 'I'm too busy' or 'I need a break right now. Someone else can deal with that'? Both are signs of a feeling of our own importance relative to the importance of the person who needs help.

Now, obviously no one person can help everyone in need around them. There are plenty of times when we legitimately have to take care of our own responsibilities and when we have to take time out to rest and take care of ourselves. But what about the times when we just can't be bothered? Helping someone doesn't need to mean a big commitment of time or money. We probably have little bits of both that we could use to help someone, if only we paid attention to others enough to see the needs.
As God's people, we must remember that we are never so important that we no longer have the obligation to help others |
Background quilt is my Flower Box mini quilt
The question we have to ask is, are we so focused on our own importance (in our own eyes) that we aren't looking around to really see other people? As I said, Jesus is our role model, and He invariably saw the people He encountered and paused to help them. How closely are we modeling our lives after Him?

*This is not meant as a judgement of you if you mark in your books! It's just my own preference 😊 I know plenty of people find great value in making notes in their books, and especially in their Bibles and I certainly don't think less of them for it.

October 28, 2019

Snack Time

Devotion for the Week...

I love eating crackers for snacks. Crackers with hummus, crackers and cheese or just plain crackers, it doesn't really matter. The problem is, those crackers aren't exactly great for me, especially not in the quantity I like to eat them. I often go for mindless eating, straight from the box, even though I know that's not a good idea.

I also love eating fresh fruit and Greek yogurt, whether together or not. Both of those make great snacks, with the added benefit of not being full of empty calories. I make sure we always have fruit and yogurt in the house.

Unfortunately, I almost always choose some form of cracker rather than the fruit and/or yogurt. No matter how often I think in the morning, 'I'll choose healthy snacks today', I still find myself gravitating towards the satisfying crunch of the crackers. While thinking about this habit a few days ago, I though of Romans 7:14-20, in which Paul says:

"The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.

And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it."

I have always loved this passage for two reasons. First of all, as a writer, I just love the way it's written. There's something about the structure and Paul's word choices that really appeals to me. The biggest reason I love it, though, is Paul's honesty. Here is a man who could easily be held up as an ideal Christian, as someone who never gets it wrong and who lives a life that normal people just can't relate to. He wrote a large chunk of the Bible, after all! But instead, he shows us in this passage that he's no different than we are. He understands what is right and wrong, just as we do. He knows the things he should be doing, just as we do. Even still, he finds himself not doing the things he should and doing the things he shouldn't. Can you relate to that? I know I can, and not only when it comes to choosing my snacks.

Our sinful nature lives right there alongside the Spirit, fighting against how the Spirit wants us to live. Our sinful nature is selfish and wants nothing more than to gratify its every desire. The Holy Spirit, on the other hand, lives inside believers to give us the power to live as God wants us to live, to deny sin and serve Him. "The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions" (Galatians 5:17).
Our sinful nature wants us to do one thing. The Holy Spirit offers another option. Which will we follow? |
The background is a small portion of the quilting on my Pinwheel Whirl quilt.

Whether I choose an apple or crackers for a snack has no spiritual implications. It really doesn't matter, aside from the extra running I may have to do to keep my weight in check. Giving in to the temptation to gossip does have spiritual implications, though. So does giving in to the temptation to lie to make ourselves look better, or letting anger control our responses or letting our inability to forgive someone create bitterness in our hearts. Those are all things that go against how God wants us to live and they're all opportunities to choose to listen to the Spirit instead of our sinful nature.

Our sinful nature wants us to do one thing. The Holy Spirit presents us with a different option. Which one will we follow?

October 22, 2019

Path to Friendship Block Tutorial

In November I'll be one of two queen bees for the True North bee, so I needed to pick a block to have my bee mates make. I knew I wanted a scrappy block, preferably with a star in it, so I designed this one that I'm calling the Path to Friendship block 😊
Path to Friendship quilt block tutorial |
This is a 12" finished block, perfect for using up small scraps in a couple of different colours. I've chosen blue and orange as my main colours as that has become one of my favourite combinations. I had no trouble at all pulling enough fabrics from my stash 😊
Blue, orange and white/cream fabric scraps |
Here's what the blocks look like tiled together.
Path to Friendship quilt block tutorial |
And here's how they look with 1" sashing and orange cornerstones. I think this will be how I assemble mine once they all arrive from the other True North Bee members.
Path to Friendship quilt block tutorial |

Make the Blocks

You need scraps in three different colour groups - one for the friendship stars (blue), one for the squares that make up the path (orange) and one for the background (white/cream).

To make 1 block, cut:

4 3" squares
2 2 ½" squares

2 4 ½" squares
2 2 ½" squares

4 3" squares
4 2 ½" x 4 ½" rectangles
 2 ½" squares
Path to Friendship quilt block tutorial |

Make the Friendship Stars

Draw a diagonal line on the back of all of the white/cream 3" stars. Pair each white/cream square with a blue 3" square, right sides together, and stitch ¼" away from the drawn line on both sides.
Path to Friendship quilt block tutorial |
Cut apart on the drawn line and press open. Trim the HSTs to 2 ½" square. Make 8 background/blue HSTs for each block.
Path to Friendship quilt block tutorial |
Using the HSTs, the blue 2½" squares and the white/cream 2½" squares, layout the Friendship Stars as shown. Stitch the units into rows, pressing the seams away from the HSTs.
Path to Friendship quilt block tutorial |
Stitch the rows together, pressing these seams open to reduce bulk. Make 2 Friendship Stars for each block.
Path to Friendship quilt block tutorial |

Make the Path Units

Layout the orange 2 ½" and 4 ½" squares with the white/cream 2 ½" x 4 ½" rectangles as shown.
Path to Friendship quilt block tutorial |
Stitch the pieces together as shown, pressing the seams either open or towards the orange pieces.
Path to Friendship quilt block tutorial |
 Then stitch the rows together. Make 2 path units for each block.
Path to Friendship quilt block tutorial |

Assemble the block

Layout the friendship stars and the path units as shown to create the block. Stitch the units into rows, pressing the seams open. Then stitch the rows together, again pressing the seams open.

Here are close ups of my three blocks. I love all the scraps in them!
Path to Friendship quilt block tutorial |
Path to Friendship quilt block tutorial |
Path to Friendship quilt block tutorial |
These were so much fun to make! I can't wait to see what beautiful scraps will be in the blocks sent to me. I'll be sure the share them when they arrive 😊

What colours would you choose for your Path to Friendship blocks?

October 21, 2019

Unkind Speech

Devotion for the Week...

"Stick and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." Is there any children's rhyme so full of wishful thinking as this one? Contrary to what many of us chanted at our childhood rivals, the power of our words to hurt other people seems limitless. Maybe that's why the Bible talks so much about what we say. James tells us to tame our tongues, Proverbs talks about the value of a gentle answer and Matthew records Jesus saying we will be judged for the words we spoke.

Then there's 1 Peter 2:1: "So get rid of all evil behavior. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech." When I read this verse a couple of weeks ago, it just made me shake my head. Can you imagine what the world would look like if there were no unkind speech? This verse is directed at believers, of course, so let's narrow down our expectations - can you imagine what the world would look like if all Christians were done with unkind speech? It's pretty hard to imagine, isn't it?

To make it harder to root it all out of our lives, there are many varieties of unkind speech. There's the obvious, like calling people names or belittling their work or abilities. Most of us try to avoid that. But then there are the more insidious varieties, like gossip or judgmental comments like "I can't imagine why she..." Those are harder to 'be done with' because they often feel like normal conversation. It's simply habit to talk about other people, at least a little bit, especially when we feel we are making better choices than they are. There's no denying it falls into the category of unkind speech, though.

And then there are the things we say when we're angry or hurt. How easy is it to snap out something unkind when someone is pushing all of our buttons? How hard is it to remind ourselves to just breathe for a second before responding so our words don't bite?

Let's not forget, too, that much of our speech these days flows through our fingers rather than our mouths. I don't think God will give us a pass for the unkind things we've typed rather than said out loud. If a kindness meter were attached to our keyboards, what would it reveal about our typed speech?
Are our words good, helpful and encouraging |
Background quilt is my Cross Stitch wall quilt
I think I'm generally kind, but there's still plenty of room for improvement in my own speech. I went for a run when this devotion was half written and found myself making a judgmental comment along the way, which then made me laugh because it was so contrary to what I'd been writing earlier. Hopefully so I can continue to catch myself when those kinds of comments arise in the future. After all, being aware of a problem is the first step towards fixing it.

Here's the standard Paul gives us: "Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them" (Ephesians 4:29).

October 14, 2019

Under the Fig Tree

Devotion for the Week...

Last week's devotion was about Philip going to find Nathanael so he could bring him to meet Jesus. Today I want to look at Nathanael's reaction to his first meeting with Jesus. Let's start by reading John's account of it:

"As [Philip and Nathanael] approached, Jesus said, 'Now here is a genuine son of Israel—a man of complete integrity.'
'How do you know about me?' Nathanael asked.
Jesus replied, 'I could see you under the fig tree before Philip found you.'
Then Nathanael exclaimed, 'Rabbi, you are the Son of God—the King of Israel!'" (John 1:47-49).

I have to admit, I never thought much of these couple of verses. If anything, I figured Nathanael was amazed by Jesus' ability to see beyond His physical surroundings and that impressed Nathanael enough to make him understand that Jesus was who He claimed to be. But this summer I read a devotion that wondered about the significance of the time Nathanael spent sitting under that fig tree. Was there something deeper going on, something that made Jesus' words more than just a simple statement of "I could see you"? That made me think of my father-in-law and a story I heard him tell several years ago.

I don't know the circumstances, but there was a time when he was feeling really down and he sat in his chair and prayed, "God do you even know where I am and do you even care anymore?" Twenty minutes later he got a phone call from a man who said he had been in prayer and God gave him a message.

"What's the message?" my father-in-law asked.

"God wanted me to tell you He does know where you are, He does care for you and He wants to bless you."

I don't think there's anything that could make a person feel more seen by God than getting a direct and immediate answer to such a cry.

Was Nathanael feeling something similar to my father-in-law as he sat under the fig tree? Did he feel alone, as if God didn't even care anymore about whatever it was he was facing? If so, then Jesus' statement that He could see Nathanael sitting under the fig tree would have conveyed a deep reassurance that went way beyond the words we read.

I don't know what you're facing today, but I do know that God knows where you are. In the midst of our hardest days, when we feel alone and like no one cares, He sees us and He cares deeply for us.
In the midst of our hardest days, God sees us and cares for us |
Background is my Blowing in the Wind quilt.
1 Peter 1:7 says, "Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you." Even if your worry is that He doesn't care anymore, give that to Him, too. He doesn't get angry or offended when we feel that way. He simply wants us to cry out to Him so He can give us the reassurance we need.

October 10, 2019

True North Bee Blocks for October

This month's True North bee blocks were so fun and quick to make!
Rasberry Kiss quilt blocks |
Karin asked for 8 ½" Rasberry Kiss blocks, using the tutorial from Wooden Spoon Quilts. She asked for three blocks, all with low volume x's and grey for the rest. She also said she loves solids and text prints, but isn't big on florals. When I went rooting through my grey fabrics, I discovered an abundance of solids, so I used a different solid in each block. I know I have a white or cream text print, but I couldn't find it anywhere, so I couldn't use it.

This grey print is left over from making my Divided quilt and I love that the lighter of the greys in it is almost the same as the Kona shadow I used for the inner squares.
Rasberry Kiss quilt blocks |
This outer grey is Kona graphite, which I know only because previous-me had written the colour name along the selvedge edge, which is also how I knew the one in the block above was Kona shadow. Smart! I wonder who gave me that idea? I can just vaguely remember reading it as someone else's tip, but I don't remember who it was. The grey print is scraps from making myself a pair of pajama shorts as my first garment sewing project, back in 2015, using the book Love at First Stitch. The white print in the x is a scrap given to me by my friend Michelle, cut off the edge of her quilt backing when she finished quilting. She knows I can't resist even long, narrow scraps 😊
Rasberry Kiss quilt blocks |
I think this block is my favourite. I had to message Karin to ask if the outer grey fabric was too floral for her taste, but she said it looks modern and was happy for me to include it. It was one of the many fabrics donated as quilt backings for the quilt block drive a couple of years ago. I've stashed the long, narrow pieces left over from trimming the quilt back after quilting because it's just too pretty not to use. The grey solid is a Northcott fabric. I love the swirly white print, but I have no idea where it came from. I do know it has been in my stash for a long time and there's not much of it left after making this block.
Rasberry Kiss quilt blocks |
Next month will be my turn and I'm excited to soon share the block I've designed to have my bee mates make. I think it'll make a great scrappy quilt.

October 07, 2019


Devotion for the Week...

Years ago, Paul and I watched the show The West Wing and loved it. Now we're watching it again with our two older boys and I'm loving the anticipation of certain episodes and scenes when I know what's coming, but the boys don't.

There is one scene that has stuck with me since the first time I watched it, from an episode near the beginning of season two. It's not one of the most dramatic scenes or one of the funny ones. It's not even an important scene, really. The two-part episode is full of flashbacks that show how the various characters came to be part of the staff while now-President Bartlett was still campaigning for the nomination. In one of the flashbacks, Josh is invited to go hear Governor Bartlett speak and on the way he stops to visit his friend Sam. Before he leaves, Josh asks Sam "If I see the real thing in Nashua, should I tell you?" Sam responds by saying, "You won't have to. I'll see it on your face." The scene that has stuck with me for years is when Josh returns to Sam's office, where Sam is in a meeting, and stands outside the door, grinning and pointing to his face. Sam, of course, understands and leaves his meeting immediately to go with Josh and join the campaign.

That scene is always what I think of when I read John 1:43-45: "The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, 'Come, follow me.'...Philip went to look for Nathanael and told him, 'We have found the very person Moses and the prophets wrote about! His name is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth.'” I picture Philip standing in front of Nathanael, grinning, because he knew that Jesus was 'the real thing.'

Like Philip, we have found Jesus and now we can share Him with others who need Him. Jesus said to His disciples, "you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8).

Witnesses don't have to have special degrees in theology. They don't have to be skilled public speakers or teachers. They don't need any special qualifications at all, actually. They simply need to share what they have witnessed. Josh told Sam that he had found a good candidate for president. We can tell people about Jesus' offer of salvation, about the love of God that provided a way for us to have a relationship with Him, about healings that we have seen or experienced in our own lives.
Weekly devotions on Christian living |
I couldn't resist using my newest Night Sky quilt for the background again this week 😊
We have the privilege of telling others about Jesus, so what have you witnessed? Who can you share that with?
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