June 27, 2022

Enjoying Life

Devotion for the Week...

Before I go into today's devotion, I want to let you know that this will be my last new devotion until September as it has become my tradition to take the summer off from devotion writing. I'll still be sharing quilt posts over the summer, but it's nice to take some time and just let my Bible reading thoughts steep for a while rather than needing a new devotion every week 😊 I may sometimes re-post an old devotion, but I haven't decided for sure if I'll be doing that. 

I am currently reading a chapter of Ecclesiastes each morning. Solomon writes a lot about everything being meaningless, "like chasing the wind" he says in chapter 1, verse 14. But then suddenly at the end of chapter 5, he takes a different view. "Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life. And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God. God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past" (Ecclesiastes 5:18-20).

I love that last sentence! "God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past." That's the kind of person I want to be! I want to be so busy enjoying the life I have that I don't have time to brood, or focus negatively, on anything.

So what is it that Solomon says gives people this kind of life? It's not that they have everything money can buy or that they never have to work a day in their lives. It's not even that they don't have any troubles. After all, we all know there isn't a person alive who has no troubles their entire life. Instead, Solomon says that it is people who enjoy their work and accept their lot in life who are too busy enjoying life for anything else to get in the way.

I have to confess that I don't always enjoy my work. Looking after toddlers can be hard. It can be monotonous, for sure, and it can be irritating. Not to mention it's work and I'd rather be doing something fun like quilting or reading. On the days I do enjoy my time with the kids, though, the day goes by faster and there's just a lot more joy. Usually, whether or not I enjoy the day has less to do with the kids and more to do with my attitude. If I'm focused on what I'd rather be doing, there's not much joy in my day at all. Being aware of our own attitude could do wonders for our enjoyment of our work, as a general principle.

As for accepting our lot in life, that is also mostly a question of attitude. I've known people who had hard lives, but still seem to radiate joy. It's not that they pretended things were perfect when they weren't, but rather that they chose to focus on the good. Then, because they were looking for the good, they always seemed to find something good to focus on, which kept them from dwelling on the negative. On the flip side, I've also known people who seemed like they had great lives who were miserable (and made the people around them miserable, too) because they focused on every little negative thing.
God blesses us all the time, in ways big and small | DevotedQuilter.com
People who have their attitudes focused on finding the good in their lives and finding enjoyment in their work, just don't have time to be negative. God blesses us all the time, in ways big and small. The question is whether or not we focus on those blessings. If we do, then He will truly keep us so busy enjoying life that we don't have time to be negative.

June 20, 2022


Devotion for the Week...

We have been the janitors for our church for 10 years or so and for much of that time the boys have helped in some capacity, too. One day several years ago, we were driving to the church to clean and in response to a complaint one of the boys had made, I pointed out that they sure liked the things we were able to do as a family because of the money we earned cleaning the church. From the backseat, Nathan said, “But we don’t get money for cleaning the church.” 

“Oh, yes we do,” I said with a laugh. “I hate cleaning so we wouldn’t be doing this by ourselves every week if we weren’t getting paid for it.” 

He was only small at the time, so he didn’t yet understand the concept of money or of being paid to do work. He also never saw the cheque we were paid with, so there was no way he could have known about it. Maybe he thought we took care of the church out of the goodness of our hearts?? I love remembering those funny moments from when they were little.

As adults, we understand the concept of being paid for work, but salvation isn’t a payment for things we have done. Instead, it is a gift from God, who does give it to us out of the goodness of His heart. “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Isn’t it a relief to know that we don’t have to earn our salvation? | DevotedQuilter.com
Isn’t it a relief to know that we don’t have to earn our salvation? If we really think about it, we know that nothing we could do would ever be worthy of it anyway. Actually, the things we do are the reason we need salvation in the first place! So God, in His great mercy, gives us salvation as a free gift, available to anyone and everyone who simply believes in Jesus.

June 16, 2022

Quilt Notecards!

I'm excited to share something totally new today! I've created a set of quilt notecards, perfect for sharing your love for beautiful quilts with friends and family near or far! It look a long time to decide which quilt pictures to feature for this first set of notecards, but I finally settled on these pictures of Divided and Stand Out Starburst. The notecard set is available now in my shop.
Quilt notecard set | DevotedQuilter.com

Quilt notecard set | DevotedQuilter.com
The folded cards measure 4.25" x 5.5" and come with white envelopes. They are blank inside, perfect for writing your own message for any occasion.

Buy the notecard set now

I love getting personal notes in the mail, don't you? Now that these are available, I love thinking about the special notes that might be written on these cards. They'd be great for saying thinking of you or happy birthday or thank you and so much more.
Quilt notecard set | DevotedQuilter.com
These flowers from Zach's graduation made great photo props!
The set of 6 notecards includes 3 each of the 2 quilt photographs, printed professionally here in Newfoundland by the same printer I use to print my patterns. I'm so pleased with the quality of the cards!
Quilt notecard set | DevotedQuilter.com
Head to my shop now to pick up your notecard set. Who will you send your special notes to? 
Quilt notecard set | DevotedQuilter.com

June 14, 2022

Zachary's Graduation and Another Tessa Sheath Dress

This post contains affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking a link, at no extra cost to you.

It's hard to believe, but we celebrated Zachary's high school graduation a little over a week ago. How am I old enough to have two children graduated?? Because of Covid, Aiden's 2020 graduation ended up being a virtual event we watched sitting in our family room, so it felt especially good to actually get to celebrate Zach's graduation properly. Here's Zach giving his speech as valedictorian.
One bonus of getting to celebrate properly was that my Mom was able to come from Nova Scotia and she has always been the family's official photographer, so we got family pictures, too. Unfortunately, Aiden is still away at school, so we didn't get to have him here for the weekend or for the pictures.
Zach really isn't fond of having his picture taken, so he wasn't keen on the whole picture thing to begin with, and then the weather was cold and damp, so we couldn't convince him to do outdoor pictures. Instead, we went to the school gym, which was decorated for the graduation. Sometimes we were serious...
Other times, not so much!
I made my dress, using the Tessa Sheath Dress pattern from Love Notions. This is the fourth Tessa I've made and I made a couple of changes to this one. On the other dresses, the seam where the sleeve joins the bodice sat way in from my shoulder, so on this one I did a broad shoulder adjustment which fixed that problem completely. Now I'm anxious to try it on another pattern where I had the same issue. 

I'm 5'2", so I feel very short standing next to Zachary's 6'1"! 
Because of my height (or lack thereof!), I took an inch out of the vertical space between waist and hips on the pattern, to try to get the hip line to actually line up with my hips. I then added the inch back at the bottom hem so the dress wouldn't be shorter overall. I think I need to tweak something else at the hip level, though. It doesn't show up in the pictures, but there's still a little extra fabric that sticks out oddly right at the hips. Most people probably wouldn't ever notice it, but if I'm going to make my own clothes, I might as well get them to fit perfectly, right?

I used a cotton/spandex jersey knit from Black Rabbit Fabrics to make the dress, so it's super comfortable. It's essentially a fancy-looking, long tshirt!

Lots of quilters are scared to try sewing clothes (I was for years), but I can assure you that quilters can learn to sew clothes! It took me a long, long time to convince myself to make the leap to sewing clothes, and then even longer to try sewing with knits, but now I'm so glad I did. There's still so much to learn, but I absolutely love getting to wear clothes I've made myself 😊

That's two high school graduations down, and one to go! Nathan's graduation will be in four years, which I'm sure will pass in a blink.

June 13, 2022

Strawberry Season

Devotion for the Week...

This past week my strawberry plants started to flower. It kind of amused me to finally see the flowers because a couple of people I know traveled to the Strawberry Festival in Florida back in March and posted pictures on social media of the abundance of strawberries they bought. In March! I won't actually have berries until at least the middle of July! I know we're pretty far north, but things like that really serve to emphasize just how far north we are.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 is a familiar passage: 

"For everything there is a season,
    a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
    A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
    A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
    A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
    A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
    A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
    A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
    A time for war and a time for peace."

My strawberry season comes a lot later than yours, if you live in Florida. Actually, most places would have strawberry season before I do. I'll admit that back in March I really wanted my strawberry season to be starting when I saw their berries, but at that point my plants were still buried under several feet of snow. Berries felt a long ways away.

The nice thing about strawberry season is I can be reasonably certain it will come. Bar some crazy weather event, there will be strawberries ready to harvest near me sometime in July, even if something drastic should happen to destroy my own plants. Though I can't do anything to make them ripen faster, I know that if I'm patient, I'll eventually get to eat some delicious, locally grown berries.

We humans are an impatient lot, though. Whatever season we want, we want it now and it gets even harder to wait when we see someone else enjoying the season we want, before we get to have it. Whether that other person has reached a goal we want to reach, traveled somewhere we want to go or been awarded an accolade we long for, seeing them have it can make us want it all the more. 

Unfortunately, we can't always be certain we'll get the things we want. Plenty of the big things we want in life don't come with the regularity of a gardening season; things like relationships or having a child or getting your dream job aren't guaranteed, much as we would like them to be.
Maybe what we want is coming, but it's just not the right season yet | DevotedQuilter.com
God tells us that life has seasons, though. We might be in a waiting season right now, with the thing we want feeling so far away, but "we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God" (Romans 8:28), even the waiting seasons. And maybe, just maybe, the thing we want is like plants still buried under the snow, so to speak. Maybe what we want is coming, but it's just not the right season yet. 

June 08, 2022

Noodles in Winter Wonder

This post contains affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking a link, at no extra cost to you.

These days I'm regularly checking the front garden, where Mom and I planted daylillies last summer, watching as the new plants grow and anticipating flowers. At the same time, I have a winter-themed quilt to share today. Good thing no one ever said your sewing projects have to match the current season!

This Noodles mini is made in Winter Wonder fabrics by Heather Peterson for Riley Blake and I think it's adorable. I may be biased, though. Want to make your own Noodles quilt? Get the pattern here.
Noodles quilt pattern | DevotedQuilter.com
I love the addition of teal in this fabric line. The reds, greens, greys and whites feel more traditional, but the teal gives it a more modern feel.

I fell in love with this winter scene print as soon as I saw it. I knew I didn't want to cut it into little tiny pieces (though you know I love quilts with tiny pieces!) because I didn't want the scene to get lost. The Noodles block is fun for these larger scale prints because the inset curve gives the block an interesting focal point, while still keeping the larger square mostly intact.
Noodles quilt pattern | DevotedQuilter.com
This was the first time I used a directional print for the Noodles blocks. I had to pay attention to where each block would go in the quilt, to make sure I cut each curve correctly and I'm happy to say I got them all right on the first try. Hooray!
Noodles quilt pattern | DevotedQuilter.com
These snowflakes remind me of EPP diamond stars.
Noodles quilt pattern | DevotedQuilter.com
I used this polka dot print in white for some of the blocks, in brown for all of the inset curves and in teal for the backing. For some reason, it makes me think of cupcakes with sprinkles. Yum! Of course, now I want a cupcake with sprinkles...
Noodles quilt pattern | DevotedQuilter.com
Another mini quilt made means I've used another scrap piece of Warm and Natural batting from the boxes in our spare room. I'm nowhere near emptying even the first box, but I can fit all the scraps into the boxes now, so I'm making progress!

I quilted pebbles in the inset curves using Aurifil 50 wt. 2360. It has been a while since I quilted pebbles and it was fun to stitch just a few. Filling such a small space with pebbles didn't take long at all.

Then I echoed the curve in the background, using Aurifil 2600. The first Noodles quilt I made, I used my walking foot to echo the curves, but this time I used my free motion foot. That means the lines are much more organic looking this time and the spacing between them is more fluid and I love it.Noodles quilt pattern | DevotedQuilter.com

Of course, I love how the quilting looks on the back. The teal sprinkle print isn't a solid, but it's pretty close, so the quilting shows up beautifully. Doesn't it make you want to reach through the screen to feel the texture??
free motion quilting seen from the back of the quilt
More texture goodness...
Noodles quilt pattern | DevotedQuilter.com
The Noodles pattern includes instructions for this mini size, along with a baby quilt and a throw quilt, plus the curve is a pretty gentle one, so it's a great introduction if you're new to sewing curves. Get the pattern as a PDF or as a printed pattern (with free shipping anywhere in the world!).

Once you have your pattern, you can get the Winter Wonder fabrics here to make your own winter-themed Noodles quilt 😊

My Christmas/winter quilt collection has grown by one more 😊 Do you have many Christmas/winter quilts?

Don't forget to pin this for later!
Noodles quilt pattern | DevotedQuilter.com

June 06, 2022

Clean the Stable

Devotion for the Week...

I enjoy reading the book of Proverbs. It's full of little wise snippets about living well, so it's a practical book, plus most of the proverbs are easily understood, so it's not at all a hard book to read. I smiled recently when I read "Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest" (Proverbs 14:4). 

I've never lived or worked on a farm. I don't even remember ever visiting a stable that housed oxen, but I can imagine such a stable is not an easy place to keep clean. I'm thinking there would be a lot of time spent removing manure, which doesn't sound like it would be much fun. Obviously, if a farmer didn't have any oxen in the stable, they'd save a lot of time and effort keeping it clean!

On the flip side, though, without an ox to pull the farming equipment, the land they could farm would be severely limited. Well, it would have been in Bible times, anyway. I doubt many farmers are using oxen these days! So, without an ox they save on the time and effort spent cleaning the barn, but they also limit their harvest, limiting either the food they produce for their own family or how much they could sell. Either way, that limitation wouldn't be a good thing at all. Suddenly the time and energy required to clean up after an ox seems a lot more worth it.

You've likely heard the phrase 'short term pain for long term gain,' which is precisely what this proverb is demonstrating. Yes, sometimes the work that needs to be done is hard or time consuming or just not fun, but doing the work today sets us up for so much good in the future that it far outweighs the pain of the work.
Doing the work  today sets us up for  good in the future | DevotedQuilter.com
If I had to guess, I'd say you're probably not trying to decide whether or not adding an ox to your stable would be worth the effort. Is there something, though, that you're considering that would be a lot of work, but that could increase your efficiency or your ability to do meaningful work? That's your ox. What work would your ox require of you? What would your ox make possible? Is the potential harvest worth the work of cleaning the stable?