February 26, 2024

Catch the Little Foxes

Devotion for the week...

In Song of Songs, the young women caution the lovers to “Catch all the foxes, those little foxes, before they ruin the vineyard of love, for the grapevines are blossoming!” (Song of Songs 2:15). Apparently in Bible times, foxes that got into the vineyards could ruin the harvest and the writer used this imagery to represent the little irritations that can crop up in a relationship. If we let them, those little irritations can grow into big problems in our marriages or in any other relationship.
Peter once asked Jesus, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” (Matthew 18:21). Peter thought he was being generous, since the Jewish tradition at the time was to forgive a person three times, but Jesus went even farther. “No, not seven times,’ [He] replied, ‘but seventy times seven!” (v. 22). 
Some translations say 77 times rather than seventy times seven, but either way the implication is that we are to forgive and forgive and forgive and then just keep on forgiving.  
Grace and forgiveness take away the potential destructive power of little irritations | DevotedQuilter.com
In any relationship, there can be things that get under our skin. Sometimes it’s a little habit the other person has that bugs us. Or maybe it’s things they don’t do that we wish they would do. We have to decide to extend grace every time so that those little things don’t ruin the relationship. 
Grace and forgiveness take away the potential destructive power of those little irritations.

February 23, 2024

My First Quilt with Shannon Fraser

It's the last Friday of the month (say, what???), which means it's time for our My First Quilt interview! This month Shannon Fraser is sharing the story of her first quilt with us. Shannon is a pattern designer and self-proclaimed "colour and textile lover who accidentally stumbled into quilting!" 😊
My First Quilt with Shannon Fraser | DevotedQuilter.com
You can connect with Shannon at her website, on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and by signing up for her newsletter.

And now, here is Shannon's first quilt! It's so fun!
My First Quilt with Shannon Fraser | DevotedQuilter.com
All photos in this post courtesy of Shannon Fraser

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

2015. I'd discounted quilting as something I'd be interested in until I stumbled on a HST tutorial, got curious, made one, then 2 and, before I knew it, I was well on my way to making my first quilt!

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

It was a deep dive in all things half-square triangles. I didn't know anything about what I was doing. I didn't know I was supposed to trim my dog ears or even trim down the HSTs! I learned about quilt sandwiches, cried while I quilted it on my tiny domestic sewing machine and then figured out all about binding. The latter eventually had me committing to learn how to hand sew, so that I could nail my blind stitch on my binding!
My First Quilt with Shannon Fraser | DevotedQuilter.com

Who taught you to make the quilt?

YouTube, trial and error, and some lovely guidance/suggestions from my Montreal Modern Quilt Guild Members!
My First Quilt with Shannon Fraser | DevotedQuilter.com

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

Yes! Surprisingly my taste is bold colours and textures hasn't changed!
My First Quilt with Shannon Fraser | 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 fell hook line and sinker in love from my very first HST. It was as though I'd found my creative home and I haven't looked back since! That was almost 9 years ago and I'm so thankful I didn't stick with my initial thought that quilting wasn't for me!

Where is the quilt now?

Sitting in my ever expanding pile of completed quilts!
My First Quilt with Shannon Fraser | DevotedQuilter.com

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

That I was about to embark on the most creative period of my life, and that it would teach me not only how to reconnect and trust my instincts, but also connect me with a community that is near and dear to my heart.
My First Quilt with Shannon Fraser | DevotedQuilter.com

Anything else you want to share about your first quilt?

I love going back to my quilt and seeing all the 'imperfections'. They remind me of just how far I've come in my quilting journey. Plus, that quilt with all its 'imperfections' brought me hours of comfort as I snuggled under her!

Thank you for sharing your first quilt with us, Shannon! I love that HSTs were your gateway into quilting 😊

February 19, 2024

God Permanence

Devotion for the week...

Here in Newfoundland, most people try to avoid driving on the highways after dark as much as possible because of the danger of hitting moose on the roads. This past week, though, we've had to drive home after dark twice. Saturday evening as we drove, I found myself looking off to the side a couple of times, where I knew there were pretty views, if only there was enough light for me to see them. Then I remembered this devotion I wrote back in 2015, so today seemed like a good time to share it again 😊


Last weekend we spent a day out of town visiting Paul's family and drove home after dark. As we drove down the familiar highway, I thought of all the things I wasn't able to see because of the dark. There were places along the road where I knew I should have been able to see a pond or a hill off in the distance, but instead I could only see what was illuminated by the headlights.

The experts say that babies have to learn 'object permanence' - the concept that people and things still exist even when they are hidden from sight. That's why peek-a-boo is so exciting for babies. They think we disappear and they are genuinely surprised when we reappear, until their minds begin to understand that things still exist even when they can't be seen. Understanding object permanence is why we don't panic when we go out in the dark and can't see past our lights, or why a thick fog doesn't make us think the world has vanished, even though it looks like everything is gone.

I think sometimes we would do well to focus on 'God permanence' - the concept that God continues to exist even if we can't see Him or hear Him, that He is there even if we can't pinpoint His hand working in our lives. When things go wrong, we can feel like God doesn't care, or that He's not paying attention, or we may even start to wonder if God is real at all.

It makes me think of 1 Corinthians 13:12, which says, "For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known."
God is still there, even if we can’t see Him or hear Him | DevotedQuilter.com
Mirrors today are really clear. I can look into the mirror and see every little hair on my head, including the grey one that likes to stand straight up at the top. I can see the room behind me; everything that is within the scope of the mirror is reflected back to me just as clearly as it would look if I turned around and looked at it straight on. But the mirrors in biblical times were not quite so clear. The mirrors then were made of metal, polished so that it could reflect the image of the person using it. Though it could reflect, it wasn't like looking in mirrors that we have today. That explains why Paul wrote that now we see only as in a mirror...the reflection wasn't as clear as seeing face to face would be. What was close to the mirror (the person using it) would be most clear. Everything else would be indistinct, if it could be seen at all. In the same way, what was in our headlights was clearly visible, while what lay beyond them was invisible, even though I knew there was more out there. 

I can't see God. I know that He exists, that He is there, but I can't see Him with my eyes. He isn't within the scope of my mirrors or my headlights. I can't always see what He's doing in my life, either, but that doesn't mean that He has stopped caring for me. Now we are seeing only a partial, dull reflection, but one day we will see as clearly as God sees. Then we will understand it all. And while we're waiting, we remember that He is there. That He exists and cares for us, even when He is out of sight.

February 12, 2024

Strengthening Their Faith

Devotion for the week...

Today we're going to consider another of the many women of wisdom whose stories were recorded in the Bible for us.

In the days of the book of Judges, the Israelites were prone to a cycle of following God for a time under the leadership of a person called a judge, then when that person died, they abandoned Him and suffered oppression because of their evil actions. Eventually they would cry out to the Lord for deliverance and He would again send them a judge, beginning the cycle all over again. Only one woman is recorded in the Bible as a judge, and she is our woman of wisdom for today. 

"Deborah, the wife of Lappidoth, was a prophet who was judging Israel at that time. She would sit under the Palm of Deborah, between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites would go to her for judgment" (Judges 4:4-5). We aren’t told much about Deborah, but we know the Israelites respected her and would come to her when they needed to hear from God. She was truly a woman of wisdom!

"One day she sent for Barak son of Abinoam, who lived in Kedesh in the land of Naphtali. She said to him, 'This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, commands you: Call out 10,000 warriors from the tribes of Naphtali and Zebulun at Mount Tabor. And I will call out Sisera, commander of Jabin’s army, along with his chariots and warriors, to the Kishon River. There I will give you victory over him.'" (v. 6-7). Sisera had "ruthlessly oppressed the Israelites for twenty years" (v. 3), so gaining victory over him would be a big victory, indeed, and now Deborah was telling Barak to head out to battle with the assurance, straight from God Himself, that he would win. 

Barak’s response? "I will go, but only if you go with me" (v.8). 

God was going to go with him; why did he need Deborah? What was she going to do in the battle? She could contribute nothing to the battle. She wasn’t a warrior or a military leader, she was a prophet and a judge, but still Barak trusted her more than he trusted God.

Deborah didn’t hesitate, though. "'Very well,' she replied, 'I will go with you. But you will receive no honor in this venture, for the Lord’s victory over Sisera will be at the hands of a woman.' So Deborah went with Barak to Kedesh. At Kedesh, Barak called together the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali, and 10,000 warriors went up with him. Deborah also went with him" (vv. 9-10).

Deborah didn’t have to go. It wasn’t her job and it wasn’t her battle. She knew, though, that if she refused there probably wouldn’t be a battle because Barak wouldn’t be able to go without her. She went, not because she could do anything in the battle, but because Barak needed her support. His faith in God, whom He couldn’t see, wasn’t strong enough to carry him through; he needed Deborah so he knew he wasn’t alone as he went out to fight. Maybe she represented God to him, or maybe he just trusted in her word more than His. We can’t know which it was, but he needed her, so she went with him.
Whose faith might be strengthened by our presence, so they don’t feel alone as they go out to fight their battles | DevotedQuilter.com
Who needs us today? Who can we stand alongside and support, even if we think they don’t need us? Whose faith might be strengthened by our presence, so they don’t feel alone as they go out to fight their battles?

February 05, 2024

Having An Answer

Devotion for the week...

I'm that stereotypical person who thinks of the perfect answer for a conversation three hours too late. In the midst of any debate all the things I could say to prove my point fly right out of my head and I'm left floundering. Can you relate? Or are you good at thinking quickly? If you are, then I'm a little jealous.

This is why I've always preferred writing. With writing I can mull things over, try out different ways to say what I want to say, and come back later to read over the whole piece to make even more edits so it's cohesive and clear. You can't do that in a real-time conversation!

This is also one reason I talk about God much less in 'real life' than here on my blog. Here I'm in my comfort zone, talking to you through my computer, where I have the time to pause and choose my words carefully, delete entire paragraphs, rewrite them, and take two days to write a page or two.

Because of my preference for writing, there's one verse that has always made me a little nervous. Peter wrote, "if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it" (1 Peter 3:15). Please, can I just require that anyone who wants me to explain my hope as a believer has to be okay with a written response in a few days? Obviously, that's not going to work, even if it would make me more comfortable.

I take comfort in knowing we don't have to be perfect in how we answer people who ask us about our faith. Peter tells us to be ready to explain our hope, but there's no requirement that we never trip over our words or need to correct ourselves. Being ready to explain it means knowing what we believe and why, but it doesn't mean we have to be smooth in our delivery. In fact, Paul wrote "my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit" (1 Corinthians 2:4). Whew! Even if the best we can do is halting and imperfect, God can still use it.
Even if the best we can do is halting and imperfect, God can still use it | DevotedQuilter.com
I also love that telling someone about God is often a team effort, with God directing the whole thing. Someone may ask me a question today and I answer them, however imperfectly. Then next week, or next month, or even next year, they talk to someone else, and that person shares something that, when put together with what I said, helps that person to believe in Jesus as their Savior. Though he was writing to correct the Corinthians for fighting amongst themselves about who they followed, Paul explained this concept of the team effort like this: "I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work. For we are both God’s workers" (1 Corinthians 3:6-9). That's reassuring because it means my answer isn't the 'be all and end all' when it comes to someone else believing in Jesus. I do my best, you do yours, and God will do the rest.