January 29, 2015

TGIFF - The 'Not Quite a Finish" Edition!


Welcome to Thank Goodness It's Finished Friday! If this is your first time visiting me at Devoted Quilter, welcome!

Unfortunately, I don't have a finish to share (whoops!). When I signed up to host TGIFF this week, back in November, I thought for sure I would finish one of a few different projects I have on the go so that I could share it. But all those other projects have been put on hold for the moment as I rush, rush, rush to try and finish a wedding quilt.

This wedding came rather sooner than I was expecting. The couple have been engaged since sometime last summer, but I was expecting a spring or summer wedding, so I planned to start the quilt after Christmas, thinking that would be plenty of time. Then, just before Christmas, I was told the date had been set - February 7th! I still couldn't start the quilt until after Christmas, because I was working on the boys' ornaments, so I considered abandoning the whole idea. I really wanted to give them a quilt, though. It's what quilters do!

So, two weeks ago (with three weeks to go before the wedding), I finally settled on a pattern, picked out my fabric and started. At that point I figured I'd be doing well if I had the top finished to show the bride and groom, then I'd bring it home to finish it. I was way off - in less than a week I had the top finished!
I've been feverishly working on the quilting since then and I count each stage that I finish as a little victory, since it's one less thing that will need to be done after the wedding.

Stage one: the stitch-in-the-ditch work around the white print squares that form the 'chains'. To be honest, I find stitching in the ditch to be really boring, but sometimes it has to be done. I do it fmq-style rather than using my walking foot, so I don't have to turn the quilt. I noticed with this quilt that I'm finally getting better at it. There were fewer wobbles out of the 'ditch' and when I did wobble I recovered faster. Good to see I'm making progress.
 Stage 2: FMQ in the white print squares.

I'm sure this design has a name, since I see it quite often, but I'm not sure what it is. It reminds me of the cathedral windows quilt block and I quite enjoy stitching it. Last Sunday I was fighting a cold (still am, actually) and I really didn't have the energy to do much but sit. Thankfully, quilting is a sit-down sort of activity, so I spent pretty much the entire afternoon stitching these blocks and by supper I had them almost finished.

I made myself a little map to follow since I don't stitch these lines one square at a time. I could do an entire nine-patch without stopping if I followed my map. Actually, I tried to start at the corner where two nine-patches meet, so I could stitch one and then move right on to the next. It worked really well, except that when I finished and checked it all out on the back I discovered I had somehow missed three lines in one section and two in another. Oops! Once they were done I could check off stage 2, with almost two weeks still left until the wedding.

Stage 3: flower motif in the large green sections. I planned the quilt so it would come together quickly, so the blocks are 12". That means those open green sections are a huge 18" at their widest points! Originally I thought I would fill them with feathers, probably in a wreath design, but I really can't make feathers look nice at the size. I can't make them go around in a circle either. Don't know why, but they look awful! Lots more drawing practice needed, I guess.

I found this design in Judi Madsen's Quilting in Wide Open Spaces, and decided it would be perfect.

Of course, Judi stitched hers in a much smaller area, so I was a little nervous about the first one.


Mine is much, much wonkier than Judi's, especially if you look closely, but if you stand back I think it looks ok. 1 down, 16 more to go.

Here you see my fancy marking tools that I've been using to give myself reference points for each petal. I love the partial flowers on the edges - they stitch up so quickly.

In fact, I enjoyed those partial flowers so much I took a break from doing the full flowers and stitched all 12 of the partial ones - stage 3a finished!

So, that's where I am now. Stage 3 is still underway (I now have 6 of the 17 full flowers finished), and there is still a week to go before the wedding. My parents are going to be visiting for most of that week, though, so I'm not sure how much quilting I will do. But, I'm soooo close to finishing that I may take a little time each day and try to get it done. It would be amazing to actually have it done in time for the wedding!

So, that's my 'not quite a finish'. Let's see what you have to share this week! Be sure to visit a few other links and congratulate them on their finishes. We all love comments and compliments!

Thanks for stopping by, and have a great weekend!



January 26, 2015

Being Noticed

Devotion for the Week...

I've always enjoyed the story of Ruth in the Bible. In the beginning of the story, her husband, brother-in-law and father-in-law have all died and her mother-in-law, Naomi, decides to return to her homeland. Naomi encourages Ruth to return to her own family in hopes of finding another husband, but Ruth chooses to stay with Naomi. When they arrive in Bethlehem, Ruth and Naomi have nothing. They have no man to provide for them, and very little resources to provide for themselves. So what does Ruth do? Many of us would be tempted to feel sorry for ourselves at this point, or to sit around waiting for someone else to fix the problem. Not Ruth. Rather than worrying or regretting that she chose to come with Naomi, Ruth gets right to work.

God had commanded the Isrealites, "When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner" (Leviticus 19:9, 10). Naomi and Ruth arrived in Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning, so Ruth headed out immediately and started gleaning, picking up any bits of barley left behind by the harvesters. By doing so, she hoped to get enough grain to feed herself and her mother-in-law.

As a foreign woman, Ruth probably stood out among those who were working the field, and she was noticed by Boaz, the owner of the field, when he came to see how the harvest was going. "Boaz asked the overseer of his harvesters, 'Who does that young woman belong to?'"(Ruth 2:5). The overseer not only knew who Boaz meant, but he knew what Ruth had been doing all day. "She is the Moabite who came back from Moab with Naomi. She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves behind the harvesters.’ She came into the field and has remained here from morning till now, except for a short rest in the shelter.” (vv. 6,7) The overseer had noticed that Ruth was working hard, spending hours in the field with only a short break and, since he mentioned it to Boaz, I take it he was impressed by her work ethic.

But Ruth wasn't trying to be noticed. She didn't leave Moab with Naomi to be noticed. She did what she thought was right. She wasn't gleaning in the field in an attempt to be noticed. She just did what needed to be done to get food for their table. She probably didn't think she was doing anything special, or doing anything that others wouldn't also be doing if they were in her place.

The fact of the matter is, we are all being noticed by someone. It is human nature to watch the people around us, to see how they go about their daily lives. A couple of years ago I started babysitting a little boy from a family I hadn't met before I started babysitting him. One day I went to the grocery store and the cashier told me the boy's grandmother had asked her if she knew me, because the grandmother didn't know me and wondered what sort of person I was. I had never before thought about my grocery shopping as being something that people would observe, but it is. Because we live in a small town, this cashier has been seeing me for years, popping into the store with my own boys or some of the other kids I've looked after, chatting with her, keeping the kids from demolishing the store displays and that sort of thing. She could assure this grandmother that the kids in my care are happy with me and that, in her words, "you have no worries with Leanne." That report brightened my day, but I wasn't doing anything while in the store to try to be noticed as a competent caregiver. I was just doing my usual thing.

All of which begs one simple question: for what are you noticed? Jesus told His followers, "You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:14-16). 

Whenever I have heard or read this verse I have heard 'good deeds' and imagined it meaning those things we do specifically to be nice to others, but the word translated as 'deeds', ergon, actually means "anything done or to be done; a deed, work, action."

Maybe Jesus wasn't only referring to special kindnesses, but to all the good things we do in the run of our daily lives. All the things that get noticed by others and make them see us in a positive light will bring glory to God. All the things that get noticed in a negative way will not.

So, as we go about our daily lives, just doing what needs to be done, how do people see us? I'm not suggesting we should put on an act when we're out in public, trying to fool people into thinking we're something we're not. But rather, do our actions and our attitude line up with what we say we believe? Are we exhibiting the fruit of the spirit? "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control" (Galatians 5:22,23). Are we noticed for those things?

And if we aren't being noticed for these things, is that a problem?

January 21, 2015

Wedding Quilt Top Finished!!

In what has to be a record for me, I have the Irish Chain wedding quilt top finished!
Rather than adding a plain border, I extended the pattern into the border by 1/3 of a block on all sides. I like how it changes the look of the quilt.

Here is a close-up of one nine-patch block. I love the multicoloured print from Northcott. It looks like feathers swirling around!
In the interest of moving right along, I have the quilt basted together and I started quilting it last night, but my machine was giving me fits. The thread kept breaking and I couldn't figure out why. I'm using the Connecting Threads 100% polyester cone thread, but I've used that enough now that I was pretty sure it wasn't an issue with the thread itself.

I changed the needle, cleaned the lint out of my machine (which it desperately needed!), even wound a new bobbin, but nothing worked. Then I took some scrap fabric and batting, adjusted the tension and tried that (even though I've always done fmq at the same tension).

It worked perfectly.
Because if you're going to be troubleshooting, it might as well be pretty!
 So I put the scraps aside and tried the quilt again. As I was getting the quilt into position, I heard it bump the cone of thread, which I had set up directly behind my machine, and I had a little lightbulb moment...The part of the quilt that was behind the machine was pressed up against the thread, which then couldn't feed off the cone properly, which created too much tension and snapped the thread! All the other projects I've done with this thread have been smaller (as was the scrap I used for troubleshooting), so I haven't run into this problem before. I moved the thread cone to the side of my machine and I had no more problems.

So, whether it was the tension or the quilt pressed against the thread, hopefully when I start quilting again tonight things will go more smoothly and I can get more done than I did last night!

January 19, 2015

Getting it Right

Devotion for the Week...

Back sometime last year I started getting up early to spend a little time reading my Bible before the craziness of the day set in. I had been trying to squeeze Bible reading in after the boys were tucked into bed, but usually found I didn't actually do it because there were other things I chose to do instead (quilting, usually!). Getting up early keeps me on track because the only reason I'm up at that hour is to read my Bible, and that's all I will allow myself to do.

After only a couple of mornings, I noticed that there were often verses that interested me, that I wanted to think about more, or that I thought would be a good starting point for a devotion here, but after I closed my Bible I'd forget the verse. So I started keeping a sheet of paper tucked into my Bible and I make sure I have my favourite pen when I sit down to start reading. Then I can simply copy out whatever verse has captured my attention and I know I won't forget about it.

When I took the pages out of my Bible last week, I scanned through the first one and this verse caught my eye:

"‘How can you say, “We are wise,
    for we have the law of the Lord,”
when actually the lying pen of the scribes
    has handled it falsely?" (Jeremiah 8:8)

This is God speaking through Jeremiah to the people of Jerusalem who have turned away from Him to worship false gods.  God was angry with the priests and the prophets of that time who did not teach the people as they should have, but instead said what the people wanted to hear, and what would make them popular and well-paid.

Right away there were two things that stood out to me that we can apply to our lives today.

First, if you teach others about God, are you handling His Word properly? You may not be a pastor, a small group leader or a children's church teacher, but you are likely still teaching others about God. Do you talk to your children or grandchildren about how much God loves them and how He wants them to live? Do you chat with a friend over tea or coffee about the state of the world we live in and how it's a sign that the end times are near? Whatever the case may be, are you certain that you are presenting the Word of God in the proper context, so that you are not misrepresenting God? In 2 Timothy 2:15, Paul urges Timothy, "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth."

Being sure that you are correctly handling God's word requires that you study it. Read whole books, rather than only ever reading snippets here and there. On the other hand, read everything the Bible has to say about topics that interest you, using a concordance or an online search to help you find the relevant verses. But then read the context of those verses, to be sure you understand what is being said. If you're not sure you understand, read the verses in a different translation, or read a paraphrase. I really enjoy Eugene Peterson's The Message, which is the Bible in regular, everyday language. 

The second thing I thought was, are the people who teach us handling the Word of God properly? We all have people who teach us, whether it's our pastors, the authors of the books we read or friends who share their thoughts with us. Are they presenting God as they should be? Would you know if they weren't? The only way to know, of course, is to read the Bible for yourself.

 Do you sense a theme here? 

The people of Jeremiah's day were completely off track because they followed teachers who got it wrong. God was angry with the teachers, but that didn't give the people an out. They still faced punishment for the evil they had done. They still paid the price for their wrong, even though they were led astray by their leaders.

Only by knowing what the Bible says for yourself can you be sure that the things you are teaching and the things you are following are accurate.

January 16, 2015

Friday Finish - Round Trip Quilts

I'm finished with my part of Heather's quilt for this round of Round Trip Quilts. Those purple flowers look much better now that they have some stitching!

When I shared a progress shot on Instagram, Heather commented that she doesn't have the patience for applique, which struck me as very funny considering what word is in this section of the quilt!

Here is what all the sections look like together. Heather is planning to make this into a twin size quilt, so there's still lots of work to go. I can't wait to see what everyone else adds.

Christine, of Wips and Tuts, has finished her beautiful addition to my quilt too. You can see it here. We are now halfway through this round robin project, and all the quilts are looking amazing. Click here to visit the page on Jennifer's blog with the links to see all the quilts.

 Have you seen Craftsy's free BOM class for 2015? I love Jinny Beyer's books Quiltmaking by Hand and The Quilter's Album of Patchwork Patterns. Jinny's quilts are gorgeous, so I'm really looking forward to all the tips she'll share over the course of this year. Are you signed up for the BOM?

And, in other Craftsy news, they're having a sale this weekend!


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 I bought the fabrics for the Irish Chain wedding quilt last night and I'm hoping to start cutting out pieces this evening. The clock is ticking on this project!

Have a great weekend!

January 14, 2015

Finish-a-Long 2015 - Quarter 1

I'm finally getting around to writing up my list for this quarter. The Finish-a-Long changes hosts at the beginning of each year, so it has now moved to On the Windy Side, with Adrianne. Do you join in with the Finish-a-Long? I find it's a great way to keep track of the things I hope to finish, but I'm always thankful there are no punishments for not finishing stuff :) I like to dream big, and then I usually get distracted by new projects.

So, these are the projects I hope to finish this quarter...

1. Eli's baby quilt. It's basted and I started quilting it last night. Hopefully it will be done before the end of the week.
2. A wedding quilt for Paul's nephew, Jordan, and his bride-to-be, Karen. I'm planning a throw size Irish chain quilt, which is a pattern I've always loved but never made. There is a rather tight timeline for this one...the wedding is February 7th and I haven't started yet. Uh, yeah...I have a feeling I'll be gifting a partially finished quilt and then bringing it home with me again. Really, I'm hoping to have the quilt top finished by the wedding date and anything beyond that is gravy. Then I'll finish the rest of the work as quickly as I can and get it to them.

3.  My Craft it Forward #2. This one is about half finished. I just need to get the rest done and get it mailed!

4. My Craft it Forward #3. Haven't even started this one yet...it will soon be a year since I received my gift, so this needs to be crossed off my list.

I'm stopping myself there. I have one secret sewing project that has to be finished this quarter, but I won't be able to share it until May and with the wedding quilt in there I think 4 items is plenty ambitious enough.

January 13, 2015

A New Pattern Store and Some New Projects

Have you read about the European Union's new tax laws on digital products? Essentially the new law means that anyone selling digital products must remit taxes to the EU member countries whenever they make a sale to a buyer who lives in an EU country. This law applies to every seller of digital products, no matter where the seller lives, and there is no threshold allowing a seller to sell x-amount before needing to worry about those taxes. I don't have the resources (or the know-how) to comply with all of the ins and outs of this new law and selling through either Craftsy or Etsy would mean that I would be responsible for remitting those taxes, so I had to remove my patterns from both sites.

Thanks to others in the quilting community though, I have found a new solution. Payhip.com is able to comply with the EU VAT laws on behalf of those who sell on their site (for a small percentage of the sale), so I have moved my patterns to my brand new Payhip store. I hope you'll check out my new store at payhip.com/devotedquilter, or click the link at the top of the blog.

I have some new projects underway this week. The first one is a quilt for baby Eli, my cousin's little boy. This quilt was supposed to be finished before he was born, but he's now a month old and the quilt is still not done. It is a finished top now, though, so at least I'm getting there! The quilt measures 40" square, so it should be a good size for him for tummy time on the floor, and for him to cuddle with as he gets older.
I love all the fun fabrics in there! I planned it so that every second fabric is blue, while the others are just a bunch of fun, bright colours. Most of the fabrics were scraps, but I couldn't resist cutting into some new fat quarters for those really bright batiks, like the orange in the picture below.
I have the batting pieced together from a couple of large scraps, so now I just need to pick up fabric for the backing and binding and I can get this one finished.

The second project is the latest round of the Round Trip Quilts. This quilt belongs to Heather, of QA Creations. Heather has named her quilt Wishes for my Daughter and started us off with the paper-pieced words representing things she wants for her daughter. Except for the word I used in my piece, this is what Heather's quilt looked like when it came to me, after pieces were added by Liz (Green Cheese Quilting) and Jennifer (Never Just Jennifer).

I knew I wanted to add flowers to the quilt, and when I saw the word 'patience' I decided to use it to make my section of the quilt. After all, growing flowers requires patience!
While rummaging around in my very disorganized stash searching for fabrics that would work for the flowers, I found a few log cabin blocks left over from when I made my Scrappy Log Cabin quilt. These two fit perfectly with the colours already in Heather's quilt, so I added them to my plan.

I cut out the flowers before supper, but then had to clear the table so we could eat and I didn't get back to work on this for a couple of hours. I noticed then that the paper peeled off the flowers very easily, whereas sometimes I find it's a real battle to get it to separate. Then, just before bed, I read a tip in Quilter's World magazine that suggested leaving your cut shapes for an hour to allow the glue to set before you peel the paper off. So is that why I often have such trouble getting the paper off? I usually just roll right along, cutting out the shapes and then fusing them in place right away.

I love the little extra that the stitching adds to the flowers. Unfortunately, I didn't think to check that I had purple thread when I picked out the fabrics for the flowers. I ended up with 6 of the 13 flowers being purple, and no purple thread. I picked some up this afternoon though, so I plan to finish those flowers once I finish this post.
I hope to have a finish or two to share by the end of the week, and I still need to post my goals list for the first quarter of the Finish-a-Long. I can't win any prizes if I don't start out with a list!!

I hope you're having a great week!

January 12, 2015

Pondering

Devotion for the Week...

Apparently I still have Christmas on my mind. This is what I've been thinking about a lot this week.

The people of the Bible were real. They lived and thought and felt things just like we do, but most of those thoughts and feelings weren't recorded for us. Sometimes it can make the stories feel rather sterile, and sometimes that makes it easy to forget that these stories are about real people. Charles Swindoll, of Insight for Living, is really good at making you think about the emotions that biblical characters may have been feeling, which played a big role in my beginning to take the Bible seriously. Today I want to speculate a little about Mary.

When a baby is born, people love trying to figure out whether the baby looks like Mom, or Dad, or like Grandpa or Uncle Joe or whoever. If the baby has long fingers, people will say they are piano playing fingers. There are speculations about whether the baby will love to read like Mom does, or if he'll be musical like Dad. Did Mary stare at little Jesus, looking to see if He had her eyes, or her nose?

Of course, Mary had a slightly different experience with her first newborn baby. Though she didn't really know His future, she did have a few hints about what it would bring. In Luke 1: 31-33, the angel Gabriel tells Mary, "You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end." In Matthew 1:21 an angel tells Joseph, "She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

So before Jesus was even born she knew that He would rule a kingdom that would never end and that He would save people from their sins. I doubt she truly understood any of that, though. How could she have? Did she expect to one day have riches beyond her wildest imaginings, since her son would be king? Did she see herself enjoying a position of honour and respect, far above the petty gossip that circulated about her pregnancy? Or did she worry about giving Jesus the right education for his future as king? 

Then, just after her little boy was born, shepherds appeared at the door of the stable, asking to come in and see the baby. An angel had come to tell them about the baby, they said, telling them that "today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord" (Luke 2:11). Word travels pretty quickly among friends and family when a baby is born, but I doubt Mary expected to see anyone that night in Bethlehem, alone and far from home as they were. I doubt she ever imagined God would send an angel to direct a crowd of shepherds to drop in for a visit. Yet that's exactly what He did. We often focus on the fact that the first people to be told about Jesus' birth were lowly shepherds, which reflects His availability to anyone who chooses to come to Him, and that is important. But I wonder if maybe Mary was feeling lonely, far away from her mother and any other women who would have supported her through the birth and those first few days with a newborn. Did the visit from the shepherds lift her spirits a little? Was it a reminder for her that God knew where they were and what was happening?
 
Mary, we are told, "treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart" (Luke 2:19). I would imagine she did! We'll never really know what Mary thought and felt, but she was a real woman, a mother, with thoughts and feelings that probably mirrored our own more than we know.

What about you? Do you ever imagine your way into Bible stories? Do you try to figure out the details that aren't recorded? Are there stories you especially wish had been recorded with more detail?

January 09, 2015

A Nova Scotia Christmas

I know we're well past Christmas, but I'm hoping you'll indulge me this one post. I didn't take many pictures and only remembered to ask Mom for some of hers a couple of days ago.

We decided to go to Nova Scotia for Christmas this year, but we didn't tell my parents we were coming. Walking in the door and seeing their total shock was soooooo much fun!

Right away Aiden started planning a football game, so that took place the day after we arrived.
We took our only group shot of the entire family after the game. Mom kept saying she wanted to take another one, hoping to get a better one, but we kept forgetting.

This is me, Paul, my Dad, my Mom, my brother Adam, Adam's fiancee Sandrine, and in front Aiden, Zachary and Nathan
As always, there was lots of good food. Mom and I spent Christmas Eve morning in the kitchen together, working in our pajamas.
This was the first time my brother and I were together for Christmas since 1998, the Christmas before I got married.
Me, Sandrine, Mom and Mom's aunt Renie
Zach was the only one of the boys brave enough to handle a live lobster!
I love this picture of Nathan with my uncle Richard. This is precisely the sort of thing my grandfather (Richard's father) would have been doing with my boys if he were still around.
It wasn't a long trip to Nova Scotia, but it was a great one. It was fun to share Christmas with so many people I don't usually see at that time of year.

On our way back to Newfoundland we visited with my Nanny, and got to see my cousin Jessica's three-week old baby. This is Nanny with all of her great-grandsons.
I have a quilt in the works for little Eli...one that was supposed to be finished before he was born but has finally been started at least!

Our trip back home was a bit of an adventure, taking two days longer than planned and involving a cancelled ferry, car repairs and a mess of snow. It sure felt good to walk in the door of our house after that!

January 05, 2015

Time to Clean Up

Devotion for the Week...

I am not a housekeeper by nature. There are a million things I'd rather do than clean, so my house is rarely in an immaculate state. Don't get me wrong, the basics get done, but that's about it. Oh, and if your idea of basics involves washing walls, then you can be pretty sure we have different ideas about what cleaning is truly necessary!

So, when company is coming, there is a mad rush to get the house in a presentable state. When company is coming to stay the night, there is even more that needs to be done. The spare room often becomes a dumping ground for stuff that has no real home (usually sewing stuff), so when the bed is needed for people to actually sleep in...well, we have to find it first.

Are you like me? Or is your house always ready for company?

Lots of people think they have to clean up their lives before God will accept them, somewhat like me running around trying to clean my house before company comes. These people think God only accepts those who already have perfect lives, who have no problems and who never struggle with doing things they shouldn't. Thankfully, that's not true, as Jesus Himself says in Matthew's gospel. 

"As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.
While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9: 9-13).

Jesus isn't surprised or intimidated by the messes people make of their lives. Those messes are precisely why He came! He doesn't expect us to fix our lives before we can approach Him; He came because He knows we need Him to fix our lives for us. Just as it is sick people who need to see a doctor, so it is sinners who need Jesus.

And consider these verses of Romans 5: "You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly" (v. 6) and "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (v. 8). God didn't wait for humankind to 'get its act together'. He set the plan in motion Himself, when we didn't even realize we needed a plan.

The work has been done. There is nothing I can do to improve on what Jesus did. No way that I can make myself more acceptable. I simply trust in the work that Jesus has already done, and that is exactly what is needed to make me acceptable to God. It is the same for everyone else in this world. No effort on our part will ever be enough, which is why Jesus came to do it for us. When we believe that He came for us, God accepts us joyfully, no matter what mess we have made of our lives. Jesus said, "I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent" (Luke 15:7). 

We are all sinners, with messes and mistakes, but Jesus doesn't require us to clean up our lives before coming to Him. In fact, it's only after we come to Him that we have the power to clean up our lives, because the power comes from Him.

January 04, 2015

First Finish of 2015!

I actually started and finished a project all in one day! I've been needing to make myself a new purse, since the strap on my old one has kind of disintegrated after two years of use.
I couldn't find a pattern I wanted to make though, so I kept putting it off. Then my library brought in a book called Bags: The Modern Classics, by Sue Kim of I Think Sew. There are lots of beautiful bags in the book, but one little wristlet really caught my eye. Lately I've noticed that instead of putting my purse's strap over my shoulder, I've just been grabbing the top of the bag and carrying it that way, so a purse with no strap seemed like a good idea. Plus, this wristet has a short strap for putting around my wrist for those times when I need to use both hands for something.

Now that I'd finally picked a pattern, my next challenge was colour. I'm not one of those women who has a purse for every outfit. I use one purse for pretty much everything, though I have one fancy purse that I try to remember to use occasionally. So, whatever colours I chose would have to work with anything and everything. This is what I went with. There's nothing neutral about it, but I'm going to say it works with anything (even when it maybe doesn't)!
Making the bag went really well, except that I couldn't find anywhere in the book where it said what seam allowance to use. I picked the wrong one (of course) but caught it after only one seam so it wasn't too big a deal. Then, when I was almost finished, while clipping the seam allowance around a slight curve, I did this:
I cut right through the seam and made a hole in the outside of the bag! Brilliant, right? So, after sitting and staring at it for a few moments, and then asking for advice on Instagram, I decided to resew the seam, moving it in far enough to cover the hole. That made the side seam curvier than it was supposed to be, so I had to mirror it on the other side of the bag too. In the end, though, I'm quite pleased with the shape of the bag.
I used the pink fabric for the lining and I love the pop of colour when I open the bag. You can see the back of the bag in this picture too.
This is only the third zipper I've ever sewn, and I'm really happy with how it turned out. I can see improvement in how neat it looks compared to the others I've sewn.

I carried the bag to church this morning so it has already been put to use. My old wallet seems a little too bulky for it though, so I may have to make a new wallet sometime soon :)

Now I'm off the spend the afternoon packing up the Christmas decorations. School starts again tomorrow and we always try to get Christmas put away before we're back into the regular routine.

I hope you're having a great weekend!

January 02, 2015

Final Finish of 2014

Happy New Year! I hope you all had a great Christmas. I certainly did, and I'll share some pictures of it soon. For now, here are some pictures of the last projects I finished in 2014.

These are the ornaments I made for the boys this year. You can read about the ornament tradition here.

Aiden decided this year that he is interested in sports, especially football. Following his usual fashion, he has become completely fascinated and loves reading stats, historical facts and whatever else he can get his hands on. So, it was pretty easy to come up with his ornament, and he and Zachary had figured this one out before Christmas.
Zachary has been interested in soccer for a while now, and his favourite shirt is a soccer jersey Uncle Adam and Aunt Sandrine brought him from their visit to Chile. This year he picked a favourite team in the MLS (LA Galaxy), and started following them a little. So his ornament was also easy, and they had figured this one out too.
Nathan didn't follow his brothers and pick a favourite sport this year, so his ornament is altogether different. His obsession has been anything and everything superhero. I asked who his favourite superhero is and he named someone I'd never heard of, so I had to narrow things down a little. When I asked who he likes more, Batman or Spiderman, he picked Batman. That I could work with!
So that's the last of my finishes for my Finish-a-Long list for Quarter 4. Four finishes of the nine projects I listed isn't too bad, I suppose. And once again, the list for next quarter will practically write itself! Thanks to Katy at The Littlest Thistle for running the Finish-a-Long for 2014. It's been fun!

And, since the year is over, I counted up my empty spools for 2014.
17 this time around, and some of those were fair sized spools. But, according to this post, I emptied 27 spools in 2013 so apparently I have no consistency whatsoever. Time to start collecting spools again for another year. Considering I've started using huge cones from Connecting Threads, I have a feeling my number will be pretty low for 2015. I'll be impressed if I manage to empty any of those cones!
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