October 30, 2023

Watch Where You're Going

Devotion for the week...

I have been going for walks with toddlers almost daily for about 20 years now. If I had a dollar for every time I've said, "watch where you're going so you don't fall," I'd never have to work another day in my life! With some kids, I have to say it every few minutes because they get so distracted by everything going on around us that they forget to watch where they're putting their feet. One youngster fell almost every day, even with the regular reminders! Several of them have loved to race with the other kids, but consistently forgot to look ahead rather than behind while running.

There are multiple reasons we have to watch where we're going as we walk or run. There could be obstacles in the way (loose rocks, a raised section of sidewalk), there could be holes we might step into (especially around here!), or we could simply go off course because our feet tend to follow the direction of our gaze. With the littles I've looked after, I've seen all of those things result in falls, despite my warnings.

In 1 Corinthians, Paul wrote, "If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall" (1 Corinthians 10:12). In the previous 11 verses, Paul wrote about the people whose stories were recorded in the Old Testament, saying their stories of craving evil (v. 6), worshipping idols (v. 7), and grumbling (v. 10) were recorded " to warn us who live at the end of the age" (v. 11). 

Of course, with the advantage of hindsight, we might be tempted to think those people were weak or foolish, and of course we would never be tempted to sin as they did. Uh, yeah...that's exactly why Paul told us to watch where we're going! The littles are all sure they're not going to fall, too, completely oblivious to the rocks and holes in their path, or to how they're not running in the direction they think they are. 

We can be just as oblivious to the spiritual obstacles in our path. Those obstacles aren't physical rocks; instead they're temptations to indulge in things contrary to how God wants us to live. Maybe it's a temptation to gossip, or to judge others, to grumble or to worship something other than God. If we're not paying attention, we could fall right into those actions even though we thought we were immune to them. Or maybe that should say because we thought we were immune to them, and so didn't watch where we were going.
Are our thoughts, conversations, and actions headed towards who God wants us to be | DevotedQuilter.com
Where are our thoughts headed? Where are our conversations headed? Where are our actions headed? Are they going in a direction that leads to who we want to be? To who God wants us to be? If not, what changes do we need to make to get back on course, and to avoid the obstacles in front of us?

October 27, 2023

My First Quilt with Monika Henry

It's the last Friday of the month, which means I get to bring you another My First Quilt interview! Today's featured quilter is Monika Henry of Penny Spool Quilts. Monika is a fellow Canadian (from Switzerland 😊), and a fellow pattern designer. In fact, she just released a new Christmas pattern!
My First Quilt with Monika Henry | DevotedQuilter.com
You can connect with Monika at her website, on Instagram and on Facebook.

And now, here's Monika's first quilt! Isn't it fantastic? You know I love those blues!
My First Quilt with Monika Henry | DevotedQuilter.com

What year did you make your first quilt? What prompted you to make it?

The year I started it, or the year I finished it? ;-) I took a quilting class in 1999 and after a couple of potholders and a pillow, I thought I was ready for a big quilt. I started it that year, but didn’t finish it until we were getting ready to move overseas in 2005 and the quilt top had sat in a bag for a couple of years while I tried to figure out how to back such a large quilt, and quilt it. But I wasn’t going to pack it unfinished, so I finished it as best as I knew how and moved it with us.

What techniques were used in that first quilt? Did you quilt it yourself?

It was a double nine patch, roughly queen-size (I’m not sure what I measured because it was supposed to fit my twin bed), all cut with scissors and cardboard templates, and traditionally pieced. I had not heard of rulers and rotary cutters, and I think part of the measuring issue was me trying to convert inches and centimeters back and forth.
I quilted it myself on my domestic machine with a large crosshatch. I had aspirations of doing fancy quilting in the large white squares, and the crosshatch was just supposed to hold it all together until I learned to quilt feathers etc… it’s still only a crosshatch.
My First Quilt with Monika Henry | DevotedQuilter.com

Who taught you to make the quilt?

The class I had taken was at my local seniors’ center, and that’s where I learned the basics. After that I was gifted the book Quits! Quilts!! Quilts!!! by Diana McClun and Laura Nownes that had this pattern in it, and I basically taught myself how to make it from that book. Quilting and patchwork was not a big thing in Switzerland, and with no internet, resources were scarce.

Are the colours you chose for your first quilt ones you would still choose today?

Yes. It’s blue and white and those are still colours I use a lot, and in combination, too.
My First Quilt with Monika Henry | DevotedQuilter.com

Did you fall in love with quilting right away? Or was there a gap between making the first quilt and the next one?

I loved it from the start, but there were definitely bigger gaps between quilts then, mainly because of where I lived and the lack of access to quilting fabric and classes.

Where is the quilt now?

In my closet. It still gets used regularly as a bed cover to keep the cat hair off the duvets.
My First Quilt with Monika Henry | DevotedQuilter.com

Is there anything you wish you could go back and tell yourself as you made that first quilt?

“Make something smaller” lol If I had realized just how much work a quilt that size was going to be, I would never have made it. I didn’t make another large quilt (the next one was twin size) for probably 15 years after that, I stuck to baby quilts and the occasional throw.

Anything else you want to share about your first quilt?

I still love the quilt, despite all the flaws and things I did wrong. And it’s interesting for me to look at it and realize that I really was drawn to modern quilts from the start. This was the most modern-looking quilt pattern in the book, and despite there being no “modern” fabrics at the time, I still managed to make something quite similar to what I would make today.

Thanks for sharing your beautiful first quilt, Monika! I love it, and I loved reading all about it 😊

October 23, 2023

Swirling Thoughts

Devotion for the week...

I had to have a hard conversation with someone recently. I hate any kind of conflict, or anything that makes me feel I might be disappointing or inconveniencing someone, so I had been putting the conversation off for a few weeks, but it finally had to happen. The next day, I kept replaying it over in my mind, coming up with ways I could have said something different, or things I didn’t say at all, but should have. It just kept going and going, until suddenly I thought of Philippians 4:8, which says, “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” 

A few verses before this one, Paul told the Philippians to “always be full of joy in the Lord” (v. 4), then he told them, “don’t worry about anything” (v. 6), and to “thank [God] for all he has done” (v. 6). Can you see how thinking about things that are true, honourable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and worthy of praise would help with all of that? Thoughts that fall into those categories are uplifting and positive. They help us see the good in the world, and in other people. They remind us of joy, and give us reasons to praise God.

The replayed, and reinvented, conversation swirling through my head did not fit those categories. Thinking about it over and over didn’t leave me feeling uplifted, or joyful, or in the mood to praise God; it just left me feeling depleted and annoyed. And for what? I wasn’t going to have the conversation again, and the imagined replay wasn’t going to change anything.

Do you find yourself dwelling on thoughts that leave you feeling depleted or annoyed? When thoughts are swirling like that, it can be hard to get rid of them, but I find that worship music helps. The morning I was redoing that conversation over and over, I turned on Jenn Johnson’s “Goodness of God” for a quick reset. Singing along about the goodness of God pulled me out of the swirl of negativity and by the time the song was over, I was able to leave the conversation in the past and move on with my day. 
God graciously reminds us to focus on good things | DevotedQuilter.com
God knows us so well. He knows we tend to dwell on negative thoughts, so He graciously reminds us to focus on the good things instead. When we fix out thoughts on good things, we are better able to be full of joy, better able to banish worry, and more likely to thank God for all He has done.

What do you do to change your focus from negative thoughts to positive ones?

October 16, 2023

The Rock

Devotion for the week...

Newfoundland’s nickname is The Rock and it is well deserved. There is so much coastline around this island, but it is all almost rock. Rock feels enduring, permanent, and never changing. A couple of years ago, though, Paul and I visited a site that reminded us how impermanent rock can be.

The site is called Mistaken Point. It’s a Unesco World Heritage Site for the abundance of fossils to be found in its rocks. If you think rocks are fascinating, like I do, it’s a great place to visit! The site is carefully protected, both to prevent theft of the fossils (it happened in the past and you can see the holes where the fossils used to be), and to protect them. When you arrive at the site with your tour group, you must remove your shoes before stepping out onto the flat rocks to view the fossils, because the constant scuffing of shoes would damage the rock over time. 

We chatted with our tour guide about erosion, and the changing face of the rocks. He said there are always bits of rock breaking off from the natural processes of waves, rain, storms, freezing, etc. and part of the study done at the site includes looking at newly exposed surfaces to see if there are new fossils visible. That surprised me, because I looked at the huge rocks and thought they were permanent, but they’re not. Though the changes are slow, they do happen.

I remembered that conversation when I read Isaiah 26:4, which says, “Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.” I think it was the capitalization of Rock that made me make the connection to the rocks of Newfoundland, because The Rock is always capitalized, too. But unlike God, the rocks of this province are not eternal. When we walk on our rocky beaches, we often find small rocks that have recently split apart. Because the split is recent, their flat edges stand out amid all the other rounded edges of the rocks around them. Over time, though, those stark edges will change, becoming round and smooth as erosion does its work.
Time and circumstances have not eroded anything about our God | DevotedQuilter.com

God doesn’t change, though. His power and authority are the same today as they were when He raised Jesus. His love and compassion are still the same today as when Jesus went to the cross for us. God is still our refuge in times of trouble. He is still good, and His love still endures forever. Time and circumstances have not eroded anything about our God, so we can trust absolutely in His love, His power, His authority, His compassion, and His provision for us. 

As Isaiah wrote, we can trust in Him always because He is our Rock and He is eternal.

October 09, 2023


Devotion for the week...

Today is Thanksgiving Day here in Canada. I shared this quilt last month (it was the Stash Artists pattern for September), and I have loved looking at it every day since.
Grateful quilt | DevotedQuilter.com
I have to admit, though, I have also found it rather challenging at times. Seeing the word 'grateful' multiple times a day has made me realize how often I feel annoyed, frustrated, or irritated instead. While those are perfectly normal feelings, they're also not much fun, so I've been trying to flip the switch and remind myself to find something to be grateful for in that moment.

Paul wrote "Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Notice Paul didn't say to be thankful for all circumstances. We don't have to be thankful for the hard things, the sad things, or even the annoying and frustrating things. We are admonished to find a way to be thankful even in those circumstances, though!

Here's a small example: one of the childcare littles has had a runny nose for a couple of weeks. She's not sick, her nose is just running constantly, and I'm forever having to wipe it, which has definitely had me irritated at times. Walking past the quilt right after wiping her nose yet again and feeling annoyed about it, I caught myself and asked what I could be grateful for in that moment. Well, she's telling me when she needs a tissue, not wiping it on her clothes; she's not sick, so she can't make me sick; she's happy and pleasant, not whining; I have a job...I still wasn't grateful for her runny nose, but there were things I could be grateful for, and that felt a lot better than being annoyed.

Obviously, there are bigger problems than a child with a runny nose. It's amazing how this same principle can apply even to those bigger problems, though. I've heard people talk about the amazing care they received while in hospital, and how grateful they were for the doctors and nurses. People who are grieving express gratitude for the friends and family who gather in support. During the worst parts of the Covid pandemic, we were all grateful for the essential workers who kept showing up to do their jobs, and for the technology that allowed us to stay connected even as we kept our distance. No one is thankful for health challenges, the death of a loved one, or a global pandemic, but even in the midst of those things there are reasons to be thankful. 
Being thankful can't change the circumstances, but it can help us get through them | DevotedQuilter.com
Being thankful in all circumstances doesn't change the circumstances. It won't make grieving good, or make medical treatments fun. Being thankful changes our focus, letting us see the good happening alongside the bad. It also reminds us that we are never alone, as our expressions of gratitude remind us that God is right there with us through it all. No, being thankful can't change the circumstances, but it can help us get through them.

October 05, 2023

TGIFF - Scraps Take Flight

Welcome to TGIFF, the party where we celebrate our finishes 😊 Before I share my finish, did you know my third annual WIPS-B-GONE challenge has started? If you have an abundance of projects waiting to be finished, this challenge is for you! For the months of October and November, we're focusing on finishing up WIPs so we can use them, display them, gift them, or donate them. Anything is better than just stuffing those WIPs in a closet and feeling bad that they're not finished, right? It's not too late to get started, so if you want in, click here to join the challenge.

And now my finish...which was actually finished back in July, and this post was started in August, and now I'm finally getting around to finishing it 😅 This is Scraps Take Flight, and I love this quilt! I love the scrappiness of it, especially combined with the abundant negative space that lets each butterfly stand out. Scraps Take Flight was the Stash Artists pattern for July, and I'm glad to share it here. Better late than never, right? FYI, Stash Artists will be opening for new members next month, so join the waitlist to be notified when the doors are open.
Scraps Take Flight quilt pattern | DevotedQuilter.com
Knowing I was planning to make this quilt, I had several fabric cutting sessions with the childcare littles last winter and spring. They love using the Accuquilt Go machine to cut squares from my scraps! That meant I had a big bag of squares already cut when I was ready to make sets, and it was so satisfying to dig through the pile to find 6 colour matching squares for each butterfly.
Scrap square sets | DevotedQuilter.com
Of course, the littles and I had so much fun cutting squares, I still have a big bag of them for some future project!

I used four different grey fabrics for the butterfly bodies, and stitched around all of them with Aurifil 2610.
Scraps Take Flight quilt pattern | DevotedQuilter.com
QuiltCon 2024 will have a special exhibit of scrappy quilts, and one of the requirements is the quilt top has to include at least 30 different fabrics. This quilt meets that requirement in one row of blocks!
Scraps Take Flight quilt pattern | DevotedQuilter.com
I usually choose solids for my backings, but the owner of my LQS is planning to retire at the end of the year, so she's not restocking anything, and her selection of solids was looking pretty bland by the time I dropped in looking for a back for Scraps Take Flight. There was nothing nearly as nice as this colour in a solid. And of course, I hadn't thought ahead enough to have ordered anything. Typical! I'm definitely going to have to learn to plan better for backings and backgrounds, since I won't have her shop to drop into whenever I want. It has only ever been a teeny little shop in her basement, but she kept a good selection of solids and blenders up until recently. 
Scraps Take Flight quilt pattern | DevotedQuilter.com
I knew all along that I wanted to quilt this double loop design (I love when a quilting design raises its hand like that, saying, "Pick me, pick me!"), and white Aurifil was an easy choice for the thread. I didn't want the quilting to add colour to the background, and while the white stands out on all the scrappy fabrics, it's not distracting.
Scraps Take Flight quilt pattern | DevotedQuilter.com
Scrappy binding was another easy choice.
Scraps Take Flight quilt pattern | DevotedQuilter.com
While assembling the quilt top, I was careful to keep the butterflies right side up (the difference is subtle, but the body is slightly longer at the bottom), but then when I put the label on, I completely forgot about that. Of course, because I wasn't paying attention, I put it on one of the top corners! No big deal, except when I took a picture of the quilt on my design wall for the pattern cover, I used the label to indicate which way to hang it. I didn't realize the mistake until I was editing the picture and something looked a bit off. Thank goodness I intended for that picture to be cropped in close, with just the design wall as the background, so I could just flip it over in the photo editor without it looking weird. That wouldn't have worked so well with the beach pictures! I had to be careful to remember to keep the label at the top when Nathan and Zachary were holding it for me.
Scraps Take Flight quilt pattern | DevotedQuilter.com
That was actually my second photo shoot with Scraps Take Flight. The first one was...less than successful. It was a beautiful summer afternoon and the lupines were blooming. I wanted to get a picture of the quilt in a field of lupines, so I headed out with my photo stand to the vacant lot beside the Catholic church. When I arrived, there were a couple of cars parked in front of the church, which I thought was unusual since it was a Tuesday afternoon, but I didn't think much of it. I set up the photo stand in the lupines, got the quilt hung up and then raised it up so the quilt was off the ground.

I took a couple of pictures...
Scraps Take Flight quilt pattern | DevotedQuilter.com

Scraps Take Flight quilt pattern | DevotedQuilter.com
...and then the wind knocked the whole thing over into the flowers. Sigh. I wrestled it back up as more and more cars were parking in the church parking lot, and starting to park in the vacant lot, too. I took another picture...and the wind knocked it over again. That was when I realized everyone was coming to the church for a funeral. Between that and the wind, I decided it would be a good idea to pack up and go home.

After I took the quilt off the stand, I noticed little green flecks all over the front of the quilt from its faceplants into the lupines, and swiped my hand over a couple to brush them off, only to discover they were sticky and smeared across the quilt. Across the white background 😫 I wanted to cry!
Stained quilt | DevotedQuilter.com
Back home, I carefully dabbed at the many, many flecks with the sticky side of some masking tape to remove them, hoping not to smear more of them, but it didn't work. By the time I had removed them, the whole front of the quilt looked like this...
Stained quilt | DevotedQuilter.com
I figured washing the quilt couldn't possibly make it worse, and might just help, so into the washer it went. As soon as the washer stopped, I checked and most of the flecks were gone, but not all of them, and some of the blue dye from one of the fabrics had run into the white. I was so frustrated by then, that I just shook my head and put it back in for another wash. I wasn't feeling much hope, so I was thrilled when I took it out after the second wash to find the flecks were all gone and the blue dye was gone, too!
Scraps Take Flight quilt pattern | DevotedQuilter.com
One Stash Artists member has already shared her baby size quilt top made with the Scraps Take Flight pattern. It looks so different from mine! Why is it so fun to see someone else's scraps combined into a quilt? Maybe because there's such variety in their scraps, so many fabrics that I don't have, and it's interesting to see how they combine them? I'm not sure what it is, but I love it!

Now it's your turn! What have you finally finished? Or finally got around to sharing, even though it was finished a while ago? Link it up below so we can celebrate with you, and be sure to visit some of the other links, too.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

October 02, 2023


 Devotion for the week…

About two or three times a week I bake with the childcare littles. Our specialties are muffins, banana cake, and brownies. Mostly I choose things we have to stir, rather than things that require a mixer, because they love getting to stir. The little one I bake with these days always comments on the batter getting gooey as we stir in the wet ingredients. Of course, they have all loved getting to eat a few chocolate chips when we’re finished!

Baking with them is what came to mind recently when I read Matthew 16:18: "Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it." That struck me because it’s Jesus who is building the church. It’s His project. We get confused and think it’s our project, but really we’re more like the toddlers helping to stir. He could do the work entirely by Himself, and it would be easier and more efficient if He did, but for some reason He chooses to let us help. 

Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:20 that "we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, 'Come back to God!'" Calling other people to come back to God is our primary task in this church-building project.

When we're baking, sometimes the littles stir a bit too enthusiastically (aka hard and/or fast), and I have to remind them to "stir gently, so it all stays in the bowl." Nathan, who has heard me say that to them quite often, made a mess with something recently, laughed, and said, "I guess I should have stirred gently so it all stayed in the bowl!" I wonder how often God looks at us, interacting with the people around us, and wants to say, "Speak gently, so you don’t make a mess with your words!" How often are we a little too rough, and our words do more harm than good? Or how often does He wish we would just slow down before we speak? 
As His ambassadors, our words impact how people view God | DevotedQuilter.com
As His ambassadors, our words (both the actual words and how we say them) impact how people view God. If that's not enough to make us slow down and speak gently, I don't know what is!