March 30, 2015

It's Not Fair

Devotion for the Week...

If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, then you probably know I spend my days in the company of the four kids I babysit, while my own kids are in school. I have been around little ones for almost 13 years straight, and I have noticed that they really like for things to be fair, especially when it comes to food.

Don't give one child two pieces of a broken cookie and the other child a full cookie unless you're willing to hear, "Why does he get two cookies?" Be sure the pieces of cake you cut look pretty much the same, or there will be complaints about someone getting a bigger piece. And for goodness sake, make sure when you give out a handful of crackers that everyone either has the same number, or they have so many they're not going to bother counting!

They like things to be fair when it comes to taking turns with the best toys too. Everyone needs to have the same number of turns, and for the same amount of time. While I have never actually set a timer to be sure each child gets 5 minutes with the coveted toy, I know mothers who do in order to keep the peace and save their own sanity.

While we as adults know that fair doesn't always mean exactly the same, we like for things to be fair too. We want people to be paid a fair wage, for companies to be fair and honest in their advertising, for sports teams to follow the rules. We want to be given the same opportunities as others, regardless of our race, religion or gender. When these things don't happen, we too are quick to say, "That's not fair!"

Sometimes 'not fair' works in our favour, and then we're not quite so quick to protest the unfairness of the situation. That is certainly the case when it comes to our salvation. Jesus was perfect, completely without sin, and it was He who paid the price for our sins. He had never done anything wrong, and yet He was brutally beaten and murdered.

The Bible says, "For the wages of sin is death," (Romans 6:23). It also says, "The Lord looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one" (Psalm 14:2,3). Everyone is turned away from God, everyone is corrupt, and no one does good. That is the natural inclination of every human heart, and for that we all deserve death. That would be the fair outcome of our lives.

But that isn't what we get.

Jesus came for us. He came to rescue us and free us from that death sentence. How? "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God"(2 Corinthians 5:21). Because Jesus was perfect, He alone was qualified to be the sacrifice that would pay for our sin. He took the sin of the entire world on Himself and paid the penalty of death for it. That's the most unfair transaction ever!

As Good Friday approaches this week, we should remember how completely unfair it was that Jesus suffered as He did, and that He did it entirely for our benefit.

March 23, 2015

Lost

Devotion for the Week...

So, on Thursday morning I woke up to this:

An empty ring. I have no idea where I lost the diamond that should be in it. We have searched the house and the moms I babysit for both searched through the bags their kids' bring each day, but there has been no sign of it.

This is the first time I have ever lost something so valuable, either in terms of dollars or sentiment. This is, after all, my engagement ring which I have worn almost continually for close to 17 years. As I shook out our sheets and felt all inside the chair where I sat before bed on Wednesday night, I felt sick about it being gone. I teared up whenever I thought about it maybe being gone for good. Then, as I searched through my sewing stuff that I had been using Wednesday evening, I thought of the parables Jesus told about the lost sheep and, especially, about the lost coin.

"Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 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.
 

“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”" (Luke 15:3-10).

I've read or heard these two stories many times. You probably have too. The emphasis is always on the rejoicing that happens in heaven over one sinner who repents, and certainly that is important. No matter what you have done, God will always welcome you and celebrate your decision to accept Jesus as your Savior.

But I haven't found my diamond yet. I am still like the woman who lit a lamp and is sweeping the house, searching carefully for her coin.  Although in my case, I'm gently shaking out each article of clothing that needs to be folded, hoping my diamond fell into the pile of laundry somehow, or shaking out Nathan's comforter because I remember rearranging it over him when I tucked him into bed Wednesday night. I'm not at the rejoicing part of the story, and it has made me wonder how God feels about all those people who haven't accepted Jesus yet, all those people who are still lost. Does He get the divine equivalent of the sick feeling I had Thursday morning?  

It's there in the stories after all. He tells of the shepherd leaving 99 sheep to go searching for the one that wandered off, and about the woman scouring her house for the coin. The parables may not describe much emotion, but you can imagine the frantic searching in both stories, which hints at God's feelings about each person who has not yet accepted Jesus.

And Jesus said He "came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). Jesus left Heaven to come to earth as a baby dependent on a young woman for His every need, He grew up and then offered Himself as the only possible sacrifice to redeem all of humanity and restore our relationship with God. He gave up so much to come looking for us! The time I spent searching the house for my diamond can't even come close to that. Which makes sense, of course. As valuable as a diamond may be, God considers each and every person to be so valuable there is nothing He wouldn't pay to get us back. He considers us to be worthy of the sacrifice of His Son.

No matter how worthless you may feel, or how certain you are that God would never want you, Jesus tells us differently. When we were lost, He gave up everything to come find us and when we come to Him all of heaven rejoices at our salvation. 

March 18, 2015

WIP Wednesday

I'm working on a couple of things this week, one of which is this rather neglected Psalm 19 mini quilt. I finished the embroidery months ago, then let it just sit and wait...and wait...and wait. So a couple of weeks ago I pulled it out again and added the borders. I may end up trimming the black border a little - I think it's wider than I would like.

 
Now I am getting the flowers ready to fuse in place and then finish with a little hand stitching.
You can see my first Psalm 19 mini quilt here and it is for sale in my Etsy shop.

I don't have many Kona cotton colours yet, but I'd like to be able to keep track of which ones I do have. I figure knowing what the names are for these colours will make it easier should I want to reorder one of them in the future. So I made my DIY version of colour swatches yesterday by snipping a little piece off each fat quarter, gluing it onto a piece of card stock and writing the name on the back.
We had another blizzard Monday evening into Tuesday. When I opened the basement door Tuesday morning I discovered a drift that was higher than Nathan!
We are under a blizzard warning again tonight, with a possible 30+cm more snow before all is said and done. Hopefully that will be the last of it. I'm a little jealous of all the flower pictures I've been seeing on IG from people living in more southerly climates. Our ground is buried under several feet of snow, so it will be a while yet before there are any flowers around here, unless they're made of fabric!

March 16, 2015

Trading Values

Devotion for the Week...

Have you ever watched little kids with money? They have no concept of the different values of the coins, so they usually figure the more coins they have, the more money. Doesn't matter if you take their quarter and give them three pennies, they think they got the better end of the deal because now they have more than you do! At least one of my boys was amazed when they were little to be given money back after they paid for something, especially if they paid with a paper bill and received a few coins back. In their young minds it was like they got to keep whatever it was they bought and got more money to keep for later!

It's funny to see little kids with money, but it wouldn't be nearly so funny if they had the same understanding when they became adults. As we grow up we should learn the value of money. We learn the relative values of a lot of things, which helps us make decisions. We decide things like, "Which is worth more to me, the time it would take to accomplish this job, or the money it would cost to get someone else to do it for me?" We decide if we want to live in a house by the water, or if we want to be close enough to walk to the park, we decide if we want to stay at home with our kids or send them to daycare so we can contribute to the family's finances. All of these decisions are based, at least in part, on our concept of the value of the different options.

In his letter to the Romans, Paul had this to say about a trade the people of his day had made: "Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles" (Romans 1:23). I love the way Eugene Peterson paraphrases it in The Message "They traded the glory of God who holds the whole world in his hands for cheap figurines you can buy at any roadside stand."

That doesn't sound like a wise trade, does it? It sounds rather like a small child being excited about the three pennies in his hand. We wouldn't make a foolish trade like that, would we?

Unfortunately, we would. In fact, we probably already have on some occasions. The people of Paul's day worshiped things rather than God. That attitude is alive and well today. Maybe we don't go out and buy "cheap figurines" and bring them home to altars we have made to house them, but we do sometimes offer our hearts to things other than God.

Sometimes it is a literal thing, or collection of things, anything that we seek after because it brings us feelings of worth or importance. Anything we value so much we would be devastated to lose it. 

Other times it isn't an actual thing, but a sport or hobby that takes so much of our time, energy and devotion that there is little or none left over for God. I have sometimes sat in church barely able to banish thoughts of quilting, so I know how easily a hobby can get in the way of worship.

Or perhaps it is a person. Someone who commands our complete attention, who makes us feel so whole and so special that we feel we don't need anything or anyone else at all. Sometimes spouses feel this way about each other, or parents feel this way about their children.

Or maybe it is books about Christian living. Now, don't get me wrong, I love Christian books. I read a lot of them, and I think they're valuable. I also think, though, that there are Christians who read those books, but never read the Bible for themselves. If that is the case, then they have traded away the actual words of God in exchange for a human's interpretation of His words. 

If we have given our worship to any of these things, then we too have "traded the glory of God who holds the whole world in his hands for cheap figurines you can buy at any roadside stand."

So, have you been given three pennies in exchange for anything and mistakenly thought you got the better end of the deal? 

March 12, 2015

A Few Little Things

There is a lot of sewing going on around here, but most of it is secret for now. Secret sewing is fun, but it sure makes blogging tough! Here are a few little snippets I can share.

Have you heard about Rachel from Stitched in Color and here newborn daughter Eleni? Eleni was born two weeks ago and has since been diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Jodi, from Tales of Cloth, quickly put together a plan to make a quilt to show Rachel and Eleni how much the quilting community loves and supports them. Jodi asked for hexie flowers with dark centers, so these two are now winging their way to Jodi in Australia. Visit Jodi's blog if you'd like more information, or check out #flowersforeleni on Instagram to see all the beautiful flowers that are being made.
This red and white fabric pull is for a new epp project I've started. I'll probably share sneak peeks of this one, but it's for a swap, so I won't be showing the whole thing until it has been received.
The quilt for this round of Round Trip Quilts arrived yesterday. This one belongs to Christina, of Wips and Tuts, and it is gorgeous! I already have a plan for what I want to add to it, so now it's just a matter of getting the time for it. Maybe I won't be sewing right up to the deadline this round!
There are parent/teacher interviews this afternoon, which means no school for the kids, so the boys and I had a game of Qwirkle this afternoon. Nathan was the Qwirkle monster! If you've never tried this game, I highly recommend it. It's not hard to learn at all and appeals to both kids and adults alike. The box says it's for age 6+, but Nathan will be 7 in a few days and we find he still needs to have a teammate to help him, but that won't last much longer.
 And one last thing, this one an affiliate announcement for Craftsy:

How are you celebrating National Craft Month? Craftsy is offering a BIG sale with all online classes up to 50% off so that you can spend this month (and beyond) doing more of what you love. Money-back guarantee. Sale ends Monday - shop now! 

We're heading into a long weekend now, so I hope that means I'll have time to finish up another of my secret projects. I hope you're having  great week!

March 09, 2015

Fleeting

Devotion for the Week...

This summer will mark 10 years since Paul, Aiden, Zachary and I left Igloolik, Nunavut and moved to Newfoundland. When I realized a few weeks ago that we had been here a full decade I was amazed. How could that moving day possibly be 10 years ago?

Every year I hear more and more people saying things like, "Can you believe it's almost June? The year is almost half over!" or "Christmas decorations are out already. Another year will soon be done." It seems we're all in agreement that the years flow by very quickly.

The Bible takes an even more drastic view of how quickly our years pass by.


Psalm 39:4,5 - "Show me, Lord, my life’s end
                           and the number of my days;
                           let me know how fleeting my life is.
                            You have made my days a mere handbreadth;
                           the span of my years is as nothing before you.
                      Everyone is but a breath,
                          even those who seem secure."
 
Psalm 103:15,16 - "The life of mortals is like grass,
                                   they flourish like a flower of the field; 
                                the wind blows over it and it is gone,
                                  and its place remembers it no more."

James 4:14 - "Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. "

I don't know that I really want to know the number of my days, as David requested in Psalm 39. Do you? I think that would make for a morbid existence, always counting how many days or years are left, always focused on the end. And yet, there is some wisdom in learning "how fleeting my life is."

Our human minds can't really grasp eternity. We've only ever known time, measured and constant. Eternity is something altogether different. My concept of it is just thousands and thousands and thousands of years, never ending, but my mind struggles to comprehend even that inadequate description. Our lives here on earth are fleeting, a mere blip in the stretch of eternity, but that doesn't mean that this short time is all that we have. We will continue to live through all of eternity. Life does not end when our time on earth is over.

There are two things I think we need to consider, in light of how short our time on earth is. The first is the things we pursue, the second is the things we avoid.

Many of us spend our time pursuing a lot of different things, but most of them can be filed into two categories - stuff and popularity.

To a certain degree, we need stuff.  We all need food, shelter, clothing, entertainment, transportation, etc. Stuff itself is not the problem. It's only when our priorities get out of whack that wanting stuff becomes a problem, when we are not content with what we have and we strive to have more and more and more. Jesus said, quite emphatically, "You cannot serve both God and money" (Matthew 6:24). 

Jesus also told us, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:19-21). All the stuff we accumulate here on earth will eventually decay or fall apart and need either repair or replacement. If we spend all our efforts chasing after stuff, we will never be satisfied.

As for popularity, we need a certain degree of that too. We all need love and friendship, to be accepted and validated. But it is possible to chase after people's good opinion so much that we forget that God wants us to live His way, not necessarily the way everyone else is living. Trying to please people all the time will inevitably mean going along with the crowd, not rocking the boat, not standing up when something isn't right. Living God's way may sometimes mean that people won't like us. That can range from mean words to violence, depending on where in the world we live, but the principle remains the same. We are to seek God's good opinion of us over all others. Paul wrote, "Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ" (Galatians 1:10).

And then there are the things we avoid. Things that we don't do, even though we know we should be doing them.

I will admit, I am a procrastinator. Though I have gotten better over the years, I am still prone to leaving things to the last minute. A case in point...it is 6:20 on Monday evening as I type this, even though I aim to have my devotions ready to post by lunchtime on Monday at the latest. I know all week that this work needs to be done. I even want to be doing it, but you can be sure it will be left until Sunday most weeks, and often Sunday evening. Sometimes, like this week, that causes problems because the words just won't flow the way I want them to and the writing takes longer than I've anticipated. And now here I am as Monday draws to a close, still trying to make these words say what I want them to say.

In the grand scheme of things, when I type a few thoughts into my computer isn't really a big deal, but there are plenty of big deal things that people put off over and over again, assuming they will always have more time. Repairing relationships, following a dream, telling someone about Jesus, starting a family, going back to school - whatever the case may be, are we putting something off, avoiding it because we think there will always be more time later? In Luke 12 Jesus tells the parable of the rich fool, a man who thought he needed a bigger barn to store his abundance and planned to "Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ (vv. 19, 20). Though this parable is primarily about the foolishness of trusting in wealth rather than God, there is no mistaking the fact that the rich fool did not know how little time he had left to live. Had he known, perhaps he would have acted differently.

What if there isn't more time? Is there something you should be doing today, something that you've been putting off for another day? And where are your priorities with regards to stuff and popularity? Are you pursuing either one with more effort than it deserves? After all, our lives on earth are only "a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes" (James 4:14).

March 04, 2015

Round Trip Quilts - Round 4

Another round of the Round Trip Quilts round robin bee is finished. This time I had the quilt started by Kim, of Ties That Bind Quilting. Here is what it looked like when it arrived here from Jennifer.
I stared at this quilt for a long, long time trying to figure out what I could possibly do next. The whole quilt felt very busy to me, which is exactly what Jennifer had said when she first saw it. She added the improv flying geese to two sides, which I found helped to give the eye a resting place, so I wanted to add something to the other two sides that would also have a lot of background space.

I thought some drunkard's path circles would fit the bill. Kim had sent along some Kona Sky for the background, to help the whole quilt have a little unity, so I went to my stash to see what fabrics I had that would work with her colour palette. To my surprise I actually found nine fabrics that blended nicely with what was already in the quilt. My stash may not be very large, but I'm often surprised by what I find in there!
 
You can read more about the making of the circles in this post. I'm pleased with how they look now that they're pieced onto the main piece of Kim's quilt. I sure hope she likes them too!
The two other pieces are still loose, waiting for someone else to fit them into the design of the quilt. I tried to incorporate at least one of them, but nothing I tried looked right. It will be fun to see how they eventually make their way into the finished quilt.
 
We are halfway through the rounds for this project now and the quilts are all looking amazing! If you'd like to check out the progress of all the others, check out Jennifer's Round Trip Quilts page.

March 02, 2015

Happy Birthday Devoted Quilter!

Devotion for the Week...

Devoted Quilter is 2 today!

I started this blog thinking it would be fun to maybe connect with other quilters, and it would be a great way to push myself to do more writing and especially to actually finish some writing. I didn't realize how fun it would be to become a part of the quilt blogging community, or how I would make friends with the people who comment on my posts. I didn't realize how many more blogs I would start reading, or how much I would be inspired by the bloggers I started to follow. I also didn't imagine how great it would be to have people comment on my devotion posts, or how I would spend days writing devotions in my head before getting around to typing them into my computer.

In the past two years...

...I have written 96 devotions...96 finished pieces of writing that wouldn't have been finished if not for this blog. I've missed a couple of Mondays, but for the most part I've been consistent in keeping to my self-imposed schedule.

...I have designed a few quilts, and now have those patterns for sale in my Payhip and Etsy shops. The pattern for my Twirling Star mini quilt is currently being tested and will soon be available too. I also have two more designs in the works, one for the next issue of Make Modern magazine (eeek!) and the other for a tutorial in Fat Quarterly (eeek again)!

...My free motion quilting has grown by leaps and bounds. Partly because of Craftsy classes, especially those by Angela Walters, and partly because I see so many other bloggers doing amazing fmq designs that I want to try for myself. I am especially inspired by Renee, of Quilts of a Feather (who does her work on a domestic machine too), Angela Walters and Judi Madsen, both of whom use long arm machines.

A birthday or anniversary is a great reminder to look back and see how far we've come, whether with our quilting, blogging or anything else and I've had fun the past week or so thinking about all the things that have come from my decision to start Devoted Quilter. God wants us to look back and remember sometimes too. In fact, He commanded the Isrealites to set up memorials that would ensure they remembered how He had protected them in the past.

The Passover feast is one memorial, a reminder of how the Lord rescued the Isrealites from slavery in Egypt. You can read the story of the first Passover in Exodus 12, including God's command to Moses: "This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord—a lasting ordinance" (Exodus 12:14).

God commanded another memorial while Joshua was leader of the Isrealites. They had just crossed the Jordan river and entered the Promised Land when God told Joshua, "Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe, and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, from right where the priests are standing, and carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight" (Joshua 4:2,3). Joshua chose the men, and told them, "Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever” (vv. 5-7).

Each time they prepared the Passover feast, or each time someone saw the pile of stones and asked why it was there, the people were reminded of what God had done for them. This wasn't only a reminder of the power He had shown them in the past, but also a reminder of the love He had for them, and of the power He would continue to use on their behalf.

If we're always focused on the here and now, always looking at what we need God to do for us, then it's easy to doubt Him. We can't always see what He is doing today, but when we look back we can trace His hand in the events of our past. The psalmist Asaph found this to be a great comfort, which is immortalized in Psalm 77. The Psalm starts out with Asaph presenting all his fears and worries to God, asking how long he will have to put up with the current state of affairs. But then Asaph turns his mind to the past, to remembering all the things God has already done for him, which reminds him that God is in full control of our circumstances. Simply remembering what God has done for us in the past can help to put our current situations in perspective and give us hope that He will help us again in the future.

How often do you look back and remember all the ways God has been at work in your life? Is there a special event or place that always makes you think back and notice God's hand in your past?
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