November 28, 2022

Advent 2022 - Hope

Devotion for the Week...

Can you believe it's the first week of Advent? I can't! On our walk last Wednesday, the childcare littles spotted the first Santa decoration outside someone's house and they got so excited! We don't have any decorating done yet, but I have been listening to Christmas music. 

Over the years, I've done a few different things for Advent devotions. This year I'll be following the traditional themes of hope, peace, joy and love, which means that today's devotion focuses on hope. The first verse that comes to mind when I think of hope is found in 1 Peter 3:15: "If someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it."

This is the only time of year when the hope we have as Christians is on full display everywhere you look. It's the only time of year when songs about Jesus are played enthusiastically even by non-believers. Sure, Santa and the Grinch may get more secular attention, but you'll still find manger displays all over the neighborhood and regularly hear "Silent Night" or "O Come All Ye Faithful" at the mall.

So what exactly is this hope we have, and how can we be prepared to explain it? The answer is written right in the lyrics for I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day (Casting Crowns' version has become one of my favourites). Written during the American Civil War, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the poem that would become the familiar carol starts out, "I heard the bells on Christmas Day/ Their old, familiar carols play, And wild and sweet/ The words repeat/ Of peace on earth, good-will to men!" Longfellow then reflects on how those same bells would be ringing out through "all Christendom," followed by his anguish that, because of the war, the sound of cannon fire would drown out the bells' song of peace on earth.

He continued, "And in despair I bowed my head;/ 'There is no peace on earth,' I said;/ 'For hate is strong,/ And mocks the song/ Of peace on earth, good-will to men!'" That's the low point so many people experience. The feeling of no hope, that there is no good to be found and hate reigns supreme. The feeling that hate will always win. 

And yet the bells still ring.

Longfellow concluded his poem with words of everlasting hope: "Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:/ God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; The Wrong shall fail,/ The Right prevail,/ With peace on earth, good-will to men"
God loves us  so much He  sent Jesus to live among us |
The second line of that last verse spells out our hope perfectly. God is not dead and He isn't asleep. Over 2,000 years ago, He loved the world so much He sent Jesus to live among us and die as our Savior. He still loved the world that much when Longfellow wrote his poem in 1864 and He still loves the world that much today. "For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).

God loves us and Jesus came to save us from sin and give us eternal life. That is the hope of Christmas.

November 21, 2022

Recognizing the Miracle

Devotion for the Week...

This past week I read again the story of Peter's miraculous escape from prison. The story is told in Acts 12. Herod had arrested Peter and placed him "under the guard of four squads of four soldiers each" (v. 4), with the intention of putting him on trial publicly after the end of Passover. The situation looked very bad as not only had Herod arrested Peter, but he had also had James executed just prior to Peter's arrest. 

Here's how his escape from prison played out:

"The night before Peter was to be placed on trial, he was asleep, fastened with two chains between two soldiers. Others stood guard at the prison gate. Suddenly, there was a bright light in the cell, and an angel of the Lord stood before Peter. The angel struck him on the side to awaken him and said, 'Quick! Get up!' And the chains fell off his wrists. Then the angel told him, 'Get dressed and put on your sandals.' And he did. 'Now put on your coat and follow me,' the angel ordered.

So Peter left the cell, following the angel. But all the time he thought it was a vision. He didn’t realize it was actually happening. They passed the first and second guard posts and came to the iron gate leading to the city, and this opened for them all by itself. So they passed through and started walking down the street, and then the angel suddenly left him.

Peter finally came to his senses. 'It’s really true!' he said. 'The Lord has sent his angel and saved me from Herod and from what the Jewish leaders had planned to do to me!'" (vv. 6-11).

What I found interesting when I reread the story was that Peter thought he was just dreaming. He didn't realize it was really happening until the angel disappeared and he found himself standing on the street alone. He was in the midst of a miracle and he didn't recognize it at all.

Has the same ever happened to us? I don't mean the miraculous escape from prison with an angel by our side (though if that has happened to you, I'd love to hear the story!), I'm thinking more of the times God has changed our circumstances and we didn't even realize that it was His hand at work.
we can be sure God is working in our lives |
Often it's only when we look back that we can see how God was working. We make it through to the other side of the medical battle or the injury or the broken relationship and then we can see clearly enough to recognize how God brought us through. Likely it won't be as obvious as an angel releasing us from chains, but there will be things we notice in hindsight that can only have happened because of His intervention.

Whether we see it in the moment, or only afterwards, we can be sure God is working in our lives.

November 14, 2022

When Life is Good

 Devotion for the Week...

It has been a busy week around here, so this week I'm re-sharing a devotion first published back in 2016 😊

I have to say that life is pretty good in the Parsons' household. Paul and I both have work, the boys are all healthy and doing well, we have an abundance of food, there is wood stacked out back to heat the house. Oh, and I've been doing lots of fun quilting! I hope you can list a similar abundance of good things in your life. But have you ever stopped to think about how the good things in life sometimes make us forget about God?

Moses knew about this prosperity-induced forgetfulness, and he warned the Israelites about it in Deuteronomy 8. He told them, "The Lord your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills; a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills" (Deuteronomy 8:7-9). In other words, God would bring them into a land where they would have everything they needed. They would not only lack nothing, but they wouldn't even have to start from scratch because the land had already been settled. The Israelites would simply move in and enjoy vineyards and land ready to be cultivated. No taming the wilderness needed.

But listen to what Moses said next. "When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery" (vv. 10-14). He knew what would happen. He knew their hearts and how quickly they would turn away from God, forgetting that everything comes from Him. 

Of course, that's exactly what happened. Over time, the Israelites turned away from God over and over, choosing instead to worship the gods of the people around them. To regain their attention, God allowed other nations to rule over His people, including the nation of the Midianites, and "Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the Lord for help" (Judges 6:6). They were living in a land where they should have had everything they needed and wanted, but because they forgot God they lost everything. Then, when they had nothing, they remembered their God again.

More than anything, God wants our attention to be focused on Him. When life is easy, sometimes it's also easy for us to be distracted by all the good things we have. We 'eat and are satisfied' and we forget about God. But then, when life gets hard, we remember Him. We cry out to Him for healing or for financial help or in anguish for a child in trouble. Many people will say that the hard times in their lives brought them closer to God. King David even said, "It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees" (Psalm 119:71).

My question is, why wait? Why wait for the hard times before turning to God? Why not focus on Him when life is good? Moses told the Israelites, "When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you" (Deuteronomy 8:10). Let's live our lives full of thanks and praise to God for the good things He has given us.
Let's live our lives full of thanks and praise to God |
Keeping our focus on God when life is good doesn't mean we'll never encounter sickness or trouble, but it does mean God will never have to send the Midianites to impoverish us to get out attention.

Want to start now? Leave me a comment sharing some of the good things God has given you.

November 10, 2022

Hot and Cold in Make Modern magazine

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.

If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that I love Make Modern magazine. If you're new here, now you know, too 😊 Issue 49 of Make Modern is now available and it includes my Hot and Cold quilt. You can get a copy of issue 49 here, or get a subscription, which would start with the current issue.
Hot and Cold quilt pattern |
Hot and Cold uses the traditional pineapple block, but in a fun, modern setting with lots of negative space. I actually designed it a couple of years ago, but it kept getting pushed back in the line of projects. Finally, I submitted it to Make Modern as a way of giving myself a deadline (if they accepted it), which would ensure it finally got done. This is not the first time I've used this method to get a project on the must-make list instead of the 'someday I'd like to make' list.

I used Northcott Colorworks solids to make my quilt and I love how the colours pop against the grey background.
Hot and Cold quilt pattern |
It was a lot of fun choosing which colours to use to create my warm and cool colourways. I think Hot and Cold would look great in other colour combinations, too, like maybe purples and greens (like She-Hulk!), reds and greens for Christmas or yellows and purples for spring.

The pineapple blocks are paper pieced, so I used freezer paper to make mine. Using freezer paper for paper piecing is like magic - no more ripping out bits of paper at the end! I also love that I can reuse the templates instead of needing a new piece of paper for every block.  If you'd like to know when I teach my next Paper Piecing with Freezer Paper workshop, you can sign up for The Bulletin here.  Subscribers always get early access to sign up for workshops.
Hot and Cold quilt pattern |
When it came time for the quilting, I wasn't sure how I wanted to quilt the pineapple blocks, so I started with the swirls in the background, using Aurifil 2600 50 wt. I was playing thread chicken, since my cone of 2600 was almost gone, so I ended up putting a slightly darker grey in the bobbin to try to extend the top thread far enough. It worked! There's a bit of thread left on the cone, but it definitely wouldn't have been enough to have been the bottom thread for the whole background.
Hot and Cold quilt pattern |
Then I switched to Aurifil 5005 and quilted simple back and forth lines in the teal sections of the Cold pineapple blocks. At that point I thought I'd also quilt in the blue sections, but I really liked how they puffed up with the teal and the background quilted, so I decided to leave them unquilted instead.
Hot and Cold quilt pattern |
With Aurifil 2110, I did the same back and forth lines in the yellow sections of the Hot blocks and left the orange sections unquilted.
Hot and Cold quilt pattern |
It was so hard to get pictures of this quilt! As usual, I was short on time because I can never seem to be ahead of the deadlines, so I didn't have a lot of time to work with to get good weather. And of course, it was windy.
Hot and Cold quilt pattern |
We almost gave up, meaning I'd have to settle for indoor pictures, but then we found this little spot that was kind of protected from the wind. The dirt road doesn't make for the prettiest of backdrops, but it's better than anything inside would have been.
Hot and Cold quilt pattern |
I did get some pictures in the grass in our backyard, too. I love how these ones show off the texture from the quilting!
Hot and Cold quilt pattern |
And these blocks that kind of intertwine in the center of the quilt just make me happy.
Hot and Cold quilt pattern |
Make Modern is a digital magazine, so if you buy issue 49 or subscribe today, you'll be able to download it and get straight to reading it. Or you could get right to pulling fabric for Hot and Cold or any of the other fabulous projects included in this issue.
Hot and Cold quilt pattern |

November 07, 2022


Devotion for the Week...

One morning a couple of weeks ago I woke up to Paul saying, "Sweetheart!" in a rather concerned voice. I looked at the alarm clock and realized I hadn't set the alarm the night before and it was 7:23. Normally the alarm is set for 6:30 and I can expect the childcare littles to start arriving any time after 7:45. That meant I had 22 minutes to be ready to face them. You better believe I jumped out of bed and scrambled! I'm so glad Paul woke up when he did! It was a rush, but I did manage to be ready before the first child arrived. I don't recommend it as a way to start your day, though.

That feeling of scrambling to get ready stayed with me for a long time and eventually it made me think of the parable Jesus told about the 10 bridesmaids in Matthew 25:1-13. In the parable, 10 bridesmaids are out waiting for the bridegroom to come. They've each brought their own lamp, but only 5 thought to bring extra oil for the lamps. The bridegroom was late and the 10 bridesmaids all fell asleep, then woke suddenly when someone shouted, "Look, the bridegroom is coming! Come out and meet him!" (v. 6). The bridesmaids all scrambled to get their lamps burning bright, but half of them  found they were out of oil and asked their wise counterparts to share. "But the others replied, ‘We don’t have enough for all of us. Go to a shop and buy some for yourselves" (v. 9). Of course, while they were gone to buy oil, the bridegroom arrived and everyone went in to the wedding party, leaving them locked outside. When they asked to be let in, the bridegroom replied, "Believe me, I don’t know you!" (v. 12). Jesus then sums up the meaning of the parable by saying, "So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of my return" (v. 13).

I could identify with how the foolish bridesmaids felt as they scrambled to get the oil. Unlike me on that no-alarm morning, though, the bridesmaids weren't able to get ready in time.

In doing a bit of research about the meaning of the parable, I found that people in wedding processions in those days were each required to have their own lamp or torch and anyone without a light would be assumed to be crashing the party. I also read that the oil in the parable represents a person's acceptance of Jesus as their Savior. The bridegroom in the parable represents Jesus, who is the bridegroom of the church, and we are to be ready for when He returns, without knowing when that return will happen.

The wise bridesmaids represent those people who have accepted Jesus as Savior and are living their lives in light of the salvation. It is people who are living by the Spirit as best they can. The foolish bridesmaids represent those who are associated with the church but don't have a relationship with Jesus. This is people who are relying on being 'good enough' rather than admitting their need of salvation.
We can't share our salvation |
The foolish bridesmaids asked the others to share their oil, but we can't share our salvation. Each person has to accept Jesus for themselves. I can't believe for you and you can't believe for me. Not only that, but there will come a time when there is no more time to make that decision. People who have put it off may one day find they have waited too long and they won't be able to scramble fast enough to get ready to meet Him.

November 03, 2022

An Embroidered Mini Finish

Welcome to the first TGIFF (Thank Goodness It's Finally Finished!) of November 😊 I may not be racking up dozens of finishes during this year's WIPS-B-GONE challenge, but I am making progress! And today I have another finish to share. 

This embroidered mini piece was finished in March of 2014. That's right, 8 ½ years ago! It's shown here in a pile of WIPs that I pulled out while getting ready for the challenge. It was designed by Kristyne Czepuryk  (a fellow Canadian) and I think I had found it in a magazine, but I can't remember for sure.
Mini embroidery | DevotedQuilter
This embroidery was all done before I started using Aurifil thread, so it's done with DMC embroidery floss.
Embroidered flowers |
I actually made two of them and finished one as a mini quilt that I gave away on my first blogging anniversary. The second one has just been sitting and waiting ever since. During last year's WIPS-B-GONE, someone shared a small cross stitch they had finished by mounting it onto a fabric covered board or canvas and then onto a painted board. I loved the idea of mounting the piece instead of framing it and tucked the idea away for later. When thinking about how I wanted to finish this mini, I remembered the mounting idea and decided to give it a try.

The embroidered piece could be trimmed to finish at 5x7, so I picked up three canvas panels at the dollar store that are 5x7, 7x9 and 8x10. I tried a bunch of fabric combinations...
Testing different fabric backgrounds |
I was finding it hard to get a good idea of how the fabrics worked together without having them trimmed to the proper sizes, so I decided to at least start with the embroidered piece. I used spray adhesive to attach a piece of batting to the 5x7 canvas and then wrapped the embroidered piece around and glued it to the back using plain old white school glue. It's not pretty on the back, but it won't be seen.
Mounting an embroidered piece |
Then I tried more fabric combinations...
Testing fabric backgrounds |
Nothing really stood out as being 'the one' though, so I kept putting it aside. My friend Michelle suggested trying just one panel, rather than two, and that ended up being just right.
Embroidered piece mounted on canvas panels |
The green fabric is stuck to the front of the 7x9 canvas panel with spray adhesive and then wrapped around and glued to the back with the school glue, the same as the embroidered piece. It's not pretty on the back, either, and I think I'll glue a piece of scrapbooking paper or cardstock to the back. Not that I really expect anyone to turn it over to inspect the back, but I'd like it to look finished.

I picked up a pack of 8 little wooden, laser cut flowers at the dollar store, too. I coloured one using watercolour pencils, then dipped my finger in water to barely wet it and rubbed it over the flower to soften and blend the colours. I ended up adding more of the dark pink after softening the colour too much the first time. I attached it to the front with just a bit of glue. I used white glue to stick the two canvas panels together, too. Once all the layers were glued, I set it on the table with a couple of heavy books on top, to help everything really stick. 
Laser cut wooden flower |
I'm thrilled to have this little embroidered piece finally finished and displayed! I'm intrigued now to see what other things could be finished like this and whether it would work for something like Christmas ornaments. The wheels are definitely turning and I can guarantee I'll never run out of things I want to make!

Now it's your turn! What have you finished this week? Link it up below so we can celebrate with you. Don't forget to visit some of the other links to celebrate their finishes, too!

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