May 31, 2021

Not According to Plan

 Devotion for the Week...

Our dishwasher died almost two weeks ago. I know. Feel free to take a moment to mourn with me. Because we live in a small town, there were no dishwashers to be had locally, so we had to order one. That finally arrived on Thursday. When Paul looked at all that would need to be done to switch out the old one and install the new one, he realized he needed to redo some of the plumbing under the sink because there was a valve missing and he might as well get it done right while he had the chance. That meant it would be a Saturday job, not a Thursday evening job.

Saturday morning he headed to the hardware store to get what he needed. Unfortunately, the hardware store didn't have all of what he needed, which meant a road trip to get those parts. Towns in rural Newfoundland are well spread out, so it was mid-afternoon before he was back and could actually start the work. Things went really well for a couple of hours, until he hit a snag that requires more things be bought. Of course, that snag occurred after the hardware store closed at 5:00. Also, of course, the hardware stores aren't open on Sundays. This isn't exactly going according to the plan!

At this point, we can run water in the sink, but we can't drain it out, since there are no drain pipes in place. So we're washing dishes in a large bowl, that then has to be dumped elsewhere. It's a minor inconvenience, in the grand scheme of things, but I'll still be very happy when those drain pipes are back and the new dishwasher is installed!

Proverbs 16:9 says, "We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps." Sometimes our plans are for little things, like getting a new dishwasher in place. Other times, our plans are for large things, like careers, where we will live or how many children we'll have. Either way, it's helpful to have a bit of flexibility for those times when things don't go the way we were planning.

The apostle Paul knew a lot about having his plans change. There were shipwrecks and beatings that I'm sure he never planned on. He wrote to the believers in Rome, saying, "One of the things I always pray for is the opportunity, God willing, to come at last to see you. For I long to visit you so I can bring you some spiritual gift that will help you grow strong in the Lord. When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours" (Romans 1:10-12). Paul did get the opportunity to travel to Rome, but it was as a prisoner. I doubt that was in his plan, either.

The thing about Paul is that he just rolled with it. Sure, he was a prisoner, but he was allowed visitors, so people came to hear him teach rather than him going to them. His guards were a captive audience. Even though Paul himself was actually the captive, they had to stay with him and I can only imagine how many times they heard the gospel either preached directly to them or indirectly as Paul was teaching someone else.

Did Paul hate his circumstances and wish they were different? Maybe. There's no record of it, but there are plenty of details left out of the Bible and it's possible Paul wished fervently for freedom. But even if he did, he spent his time making the most of the situation he was given. 
even when life doesn't look like we planned, we can still trust that God is determining our steps |
We may long for our situation to be different, to look more like what we planned. But even when life doesn't look like we planned, we can still trust that God is determining our steps and that He has a plan for us. It may not be life according to our plan, but it is according to His plan.

May 23, 2021

His Face Shine Upon You

 Devotion for the Week...

It has been a dismal May in my part of the world, with an abundance of rain and drizzle and a smattering of fog to round out the dreariness. There have been a couple of mornings, though, where the sun has broken through the clouds for a moment or two while I'm out walking with the kids I babysit. It feels glorious! Even the toddlers notice when the sun breaks through and suddenly they can see their shadows on the ground. And then, when the sun disappears behind the clouds again, they comment on how "really, really dark" it is.

That feeling of being outside when the sun breaks through the clouds is exactly what came to mind the other day when I saw reference to the blessing from Numbers 6:25-26:

“The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.” 

God gave this blessing to Moses so he could teach it to Aaron and his sons, so they could speak it over the people. More recently, you've probably heard it as a song and there are many versions with singers from a particular country praying it over their country. The Canadian version is here.

These few verses are such a powerful and beautiful blessing! What more could we want to pray over the people we love than that God would be turned towards them in favour and blessing? What more could we want for ourselves than to have the light of His love and grace shining down upon us?
May you feel the blessing of His face shining upon you |
That is my prayer for you for this week and for the future. May you feel the blessing of His face shining upon you as clearly as we feel the sun shining on us when it breaks through the clouds.

May 22, 2021

Noodles Pattern Release

Have you ever had a project that had no clear deadline, so it stayed on the 'I should get to that someday' list for.e.ver? Releasing my Noodles pattern has been that project for me, but today I can finally cross it off because the pattern is now available! Happy dance, happy dance! You can get Noodles as a PDF or preorder the print pattern, which will ship as soon as they arrive from the printer 😊
Noodles quilt pattern |
I made this mini quilt back in 2015 for Fat Quarterly magazine, which hasn't been around for quite a while now. That tells you how long this pattern has been sitting waiting for its turn! At the time, my friend Michelle told me the curved contrast strip reminded her of macaroni noodles, which gave the quilt its name. It's great to have a friend who can name quilts for me, lol, since I'm often at a loss for names.
Noodles quilt pattern |
The pattern includes the mini quilt shown here, which finishes at 20" square. It also includes baby quilt (40" square) and throw quilt (60" x 70") size options. These blocks are a lot of fun to piece and I'm planning a throw size version next, using blues for the blocks and a mix of yellows, oranges and whites for the contrast strip. It's going to be a fun, scrappy version and I can't wait.

Piecing curves is one of those techniques that feels really scary before we try it, but I promise it's totally doable! The curve in the Noodles block is a nice, gentle curve and the magic of bias edges is just amazing 😊 I'll be making my scrappy throw size version as I demonstrate piecing these Noodles blocks in the new virtual workshop I'm offering, so if you'd like to have me teach at your guild or shop, send me an email and we'll get a date set up.
Noodles quilt pattern |
To celebrate this long awaited release, Noodles is available at its introductory price for this long weekend, through Monday, May 24th. Preorder the printed pattern or pick up the PDF and get sewing those curves right away 😊

May 17, 2021

Foot in Mouth

 Devotion for the Week...

Have you ever said something and then immediately realized how foolish or embarrassing it was? This is often referred to as putting your foot in your mouth. If a person is especially prone to these stupid remarks, we might say they have foot in mouth disease. As awkward as those moments can be, we can at least be comforted in knowing they are a near-universal experience. They are one of the reasons there is a forehead-smacking emoji and there's even record of one such moment in the Bible.

Hannah had no children and she desperately wanted to be a mother. "Once after a sacrificial meal at Shiloh, Hannah got up and went to pray" (1 Samuel 1:9). Usually we pray these desperate prayers in the privacy of our homes, but on this day Hannah went to the entrance of the Tabernacle to pray. The Bible tells us that she "was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord" (v. 10). 

It's at this point that Eli enters the story and promptly inserts his foot into his mouth. We are told that "Eli the priest was sitting at his customary place beside the entrance of the Tabernacle" (v. 9) and that he saw Hannah there praying. "Seeing her lips moving but hearing no sound, he thought she had been drinking. 'Must you come here drunk?' he demanded. 'Throw away your wine!'" (vv. 13-14).

Hannah immediately set him straight: "Oh no, sir!' she replied. 'I haven’t been drinking wine or anything stronger. But I am very discouraged, and I was pouring out my heart to the Lord. Don’t think I am a wicked woman! For I have been praying out of great anguish and sorrow.'" (v. 15-16). 

After hearing that, Eli changes his tune pretty quickly. "In that case,' Eli said, 'go in peace! May the God of Israel grant the request you have asked of him'" (v. 17). Can't you almost feel his embarrassment as he realizes how wrong he was? He can hardly get the words out fast enough as he tries to get his foot out of his mouth! 

I always feel like Eli should have done better in this situation. He was the priest, after all, so shouldn't he have been accustomed to people coming to the Tabernacle to pray? Shouldn't he have been more likely to give a person the benefit of the doubt, rather than immediately assuming the worst about them? Maybe he could even have spoken to Hannah before accusing her of being drunk??

But then I remember that Eli was no different from the rest of us. We've all made assumptions about people, only to discover later just how wrong we were. And yes, sometimes those assumptions leave us with the awful taste of foot in our mouths. Back in high school, a friend of mine told me her mother taught her "Assume makes an ass of u and me." Oh, how true that is!
it would be a good idea to slow down and make sure we're not about to put a foot in our mouth |
When we're tempted to make quick assumptions about people, and especially when we're tempted to act or speak based on those quick assumptions, it would be a good idea to slow down and make sure we're not about to put a foot in our mouth.

May 13, 2021

Stand Out Starburst in Make Modern

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I'm always excited to have a new pattern in Make Modern magazine, but today I'm super extra Stand Out Starburst pattern is not only in the magazine, it's on the cover!! You can get Make Modern issue 40 here. Or you can subscribe, which will also give you access to the current issue.
Make Modern magazine issue 40 with my quilt on the cover |
I had fun traipsing through the woods on snowshoes one Sunday afternoon to take these pictures, and it sure feels fabulous to see one was deemed cover worthy.
Stand Out Starburst quilt |
If you've spent any amount of time here, then you know I love digging into my scrap fabric and this baby quilt is perfect for scrap busting. Mine even uses at least two brands of black solid fabric, along with the scraps of low volumes and blues. There are lots of Island Batik scraps from my time as an ambassador, fabrics I've had for years and years along with fabrics that were part of recent quilts. That's the best thing about scrappy quilts, isn't it?
Stand Out Starburst quilt |
Stand Out Starburst quilt |
I really love how the low volume and blue fabrics stand out against the solid black background.
Stand Out Starburst quilt pattern |
As always, I had a lot of fun with the quilting. I used 50 wt Aurifil thread in colours to match the fabrics. With the solid black backing, the cream and light blue threads show up really well, while the sections quilted with black thread still have a beautiful texture. I quilted wishbones in the starbursts.
free motion quilting |
And continuous curves in the low volume squares. With both of those designs, I was able to quilt the sections in long diagonal lines, meaning I needed very few stops and starts. It made the quilting go very quickly.
free motion quilting |
All the heart eyes for that texture!
free motion quilting |
It was a bit windy the day I took Stand Out Starburst into the woods for pictures and the quilt was determined to fly. Those little sewing clips did a great job of holding on to it!
Stand Out Starburst quilt pattern |
Head over to Make Modern to get your copy of issue 40 or your subscription for 6 months, 12 months or the All Access Subscription, which gives you access to all 40 issues they've published.

This is probably my favourite shot of the whole photo shoot, taken while I was laying in the snow 😊 It has been grey and drizzly around here for weeks now, so I could really use some of that sunshine today!
Stand Out Starburst quilt pattern |

May 10, 2021

Every Opportunity

 Devotion for the Week...

Most mornings the kids I babysit ask if we can dance. We crank up the music and dance around together, which usually devolves into them spinning in circles and me telling them to take a break and just dance for a minute before they get too dizzy and fall down, but at least it starts out with dancing. As you can imagine, they have pretty cool dance moves, which they love to show off, with lots of me being told to "Watch this move!"

I have a playlist saved on Spotify for these morning dance parties, filled with upbeat Christian songs like My Feet are on the Rock, Good God Almighty, Happy Dance and House of the Lord. They make me smile 😊 

One morning recently one of the 2 year olds picked up on the word "God" in one of the songs. "God?" she said. "What do God mean?" I explained that God is the One who made all of us and loves us. She nodded and went right back to spinning in circles and that was the end of the conversation. 

Thinking about that little exchange later, I remembered the verse in Colossians where Paul wrote, "Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone" (Colossians 4:5-6). Well, in all honesty, I remembered one portion of it, then went looking for it and found the rest. There is so much in these two verses!

First, live wisely among those who are not believers. We all live among those who are not believers. We rub shoulders with people who do not believe in Jesus all the time, so we should always strive to live wisely because we never know when our actions will impact someone's view of Christians. And what people think of Christians will impact what they think of Jesus.

Make the most of every opportunity. This was the part of the verse that came to my mind because of her dance party question. It was just a tiny moment and one that she probably won't remember, since she's only two. That isn't my concern, though. God wants us to take advantage of the opportunities that are in front of us to tell others about Him, even if a 2 year old's memory isn't all that great, and it's only one little moment. He'll string the little moments together as needed all through her life, if the Christians she has contact with are faithful to make the most of the opportunities. How many of those little opportunities have we been given throughout the years? Have we made the most of them?

Let your conversation be gracious and attractive. Um, ouch. I don't know about you, but my conversation isn't always gracious and attractive, especially when I'm irritated, frustrated, get the idea. Again, this comes back to the idea that what people think of us will directly impact what they think of Christians as a group and what they think of Jesus. This applies even to the 2 years olds in my company, even if they don't understand right now what a Christian is. Eventually they will and maybe they will also remember some of the songs we once danced to. What associations will they have with those songs because of my conversation towards them?
Only God knows what will come of the opportunities before us |
And lastly, so that you will have the right response for everyone. I could have answered her question, ("what do God mean?) with an explanation about God being the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and the roles of each. That might have been a little over her head, though! There will be times we share everything we know about something in response to a question. There will also be times we need to give the quick, simple answer. It's important to pay attention so we know which is the right response.

Will we get all of these things right all the time? I doubt it. But it's worth the effort because only God knows what will come of the opportunities before us.

May 04, 2021

Define Scrappy

I've been having a lot of fun digging into my scraps for an upcoming pattern. I've also been emptying lots of bobbins that were partially filled with colours I don't use often. With scraps of every colour, it's a great opportunity to use random thread colours since no thread will match everything anyway.
Scrappy quilting |
I've always enjoyed Yvonne's discussion posts, including her recent one about the difference between a WIP and a UFO. Reading that, while in the midst of my scrappy quilt, made me wonder how we all define scrappy quilts, so I thought I'd host my own discussion post. I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments! The pictures are all of my current scrappy project 😊
How do you define scrappy? |
These are the different ways I can think of to define a scrappy quilt:

1. A quilt made entirely from the leftover bits from other projects. This is what I think of as the old fashioned scrap quilts, made with fabric leftover from the lady of the house's garment and quilt making.
Scrappy quilting |
2. A quilt made with some pieces of fabric leftover from previous projects and some new fabric (the background, maybe). This is the kind of scrappy project I'm currently working on. In fact, it's often how my scrappy projects go, since I don't usually have enough of any one fabric to be the background, especially for a larger quilt.
Scrappy quilting |
3. Another possible definition of scrappy quilt doesn't necessarily involve leftover pieces of fabric at all. These quilts invoke the look of those old fashioned scrap quilts by using a lot of different fabrics, but they could be cut from new or stashed fabric yardage. I'd include quilts made from fabric acquired through group exchanges under this definition, too.
Scrappy quilting |
So, does one of these fit your definition of a scrappy quilt? Do all three qualify to be called scrappy, in your opinion? I'm looking forward to reading your definition of a scrappy quilt 😊 And thanks, Yvonne, for providing the inspiration for this post!

May 03, 2021

Laundry Folding

 Devotion for the Week...

If you ask anyone in my house, they will tell you I am pretty good about making sure our laundry gets washed and dried, but not good at all about making sure it gets folded. Loads tend to pile up and up until we have what I call Laundry Mountain. Last summer I decided there is no reason I have to be the only one who folds laundry, so I instituted laundry folding parties. Everyone is very excited about them, let me assure you. Truth be told, none of us enjoy folding the laundry or look forward to doing it, but we do always end up laughing while we fold things together. As a bonus for me, the job goes a lot faster with three or four helpers than it does when I'm doing it alone.

Last week I read about Moses trying to do all the work himself and it made me think of our laundry folding parties right away. Here is the story:

"The next day, Moses took his seat to hear the people’s disputes against each other. They waited before him from morning till evening.

When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he asked, 'What are you really accomplishing here? Why are you trying to do all this alone while everyone stands around you from morning till evening?'

Moses replied, 'Because the people come to me to get a ruling from God. When a dispute arises, they come to me, and I am the one who settles the case between the quarreling parties. I inform the people of God’s decrees and give them his instructions.'

'This is not good!' Moses’ father-in-law exclaimed. 'You’re going to wear yourself out—and the people, too. This job is too heavy a burden for you to handle all by yourself'" (Exodus 18:13-18).

I find it interesting how Moses explained to Jethro what he was doing. You can almost hear his underlying feeling - 'I'm the only one who can do this job.' He was probably exhausted, but he couldn't see any other way to get the job done. The people needed their problems resolved, after all, and he was their leader. Wasn't that his responsibility? 

Jethro then proceeding to explain to Moses how to appoint others to be in charge of hearing disputes from smaller groups of people. They would handle the smaller, simpler problems and leave only the major cases to Moses (vv. 21-22). What a weight must have come off Moses' shoulders as he realized he didn't have to do this all by himself! In a tiny way, I can relate. Sure, I wasn't trying to do all the work of administering an entire nation of people (No thank you! One family's worth of work is plenty!), but I was doing more than I needed to be doing myself.

Are you in that situation now? Is there some job you find overwhelming, but you feel like you're the only one who can do it? If so, let me repeat Jethro's words, "This is not good! You're going to wear yourself out." Maybe you can't see how anyone else could help you, but if you ask a wise friend to help brainstorm solutions you might just find some relief.

The relief may not come immediately. Moses had to find and then train the other men who would take on the role of leaders, which may have even added to his workload in the short term. You may have to find and train the people who will help you. Once that is done, though, you will find breathing room again, which is certainly worth the effort. 
Finding ways to spread the work around can keep us from burning out |
Whether our work falls into the leading nations category or just the folding laundry category, finding ways to spread the work around can keep us from wearing ourselves out.