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? | DevotedQuilter.com
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 | DevotedQuilter.com
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 | DevotedQuilter.com
Here's what the blocks look like tiled together.
Path to Friendship quilt block tutorial | DevotedQuilter.com
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 | DevotedQuilter.com

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 | DevotedQuilter.com

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 | DevotedQuilter.com
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 | DevotedQuilter.com
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 | DevotedQuilter.com
Stitch the rows together, pressing these seams open to reduce bulk. Make 2 Friendship Stars for each block.
Path to Friendship quilt block tutorial | DevotedQuilter.com

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 | DevotedQuilter.com
Stitch the pieces together as shown, pressing the seams either open or towards the orange pieces.
Path to Friendship quilt block tutorial | DevotedQuilter.com
 Then stitch the rows together. Make 2 path units for each block.
Path to Friendship quilt block tutorial | DevotedQuilter.com

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 | DevotedQuilter.com
Path to Friendship quilt block tutorial | DevotedQuilter.com
Path to Friendship quilt block tutorial | DevotedQuilter.com
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 | DevotedQuilter.com
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 | DevotedQuilter.com
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 | DevotedQuilter.com
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 | DevotedQuilter.com
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 | DevotedQuilter.com
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 | DevotedQuilter.com
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 | DevotedQuilter.com
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?