October 24, 2016

Mutually Encouraged

Devotion for the Week...

I have been quilting for almost 20 years. Most of that time I've been quilting by myself, with maybe one acquaintance who also quilted. Other times I've known a couple of people who wanted to learn, so I taught them and we sewed together for a while. Then I started my blog and suddenly I had an abundance of sewing friends all over the world. They were sharing amazing pictures of the things they were working on, which made me want to try new techniques, new colour combinations, new patterns and new fabrics. I was already passionate about quilting, but the more exposure I had to what other quilters were doing, the more my love of quilting grew.

It has been great to expand to Instagram and join in with events like the Friday Night Sew Along, or Saturday Night Craft a Long, or the 30 Day Quilt Design Challenge. It's so wonderful to be working on something at the same time other people are working on their own projects, even if we're only sharing our progress as pictures on our phones. The connection is still there as we comment on each other's work and cheer each other on.

When I read Romans 1 a few weeks ago, I was struck by this, "I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith" (Romans 1:11,12). Paul was writing to the Christians in Rome, telling them that he hoped to soon be able to come visit them, in part so he could teach them something that would make their faith stronger, but also so they could mutually encourage each other.

Just like quilters! I wonder how often anyone has ever said the apostle Paul is just like a quilter? But it's true. Just as I love sewing with friends (online or in person), Paul liked to spend time with other Christians because he found the time together to be encouraging to his faith.

You may wonder how this is true, since Paul was the teacher and founder of churches. He already had such a firm grasp on faith and the importance of the gospel. How could the average person encourage him and increase his faith?

Well, a couple of times recently I have heard or read of quilting teachers saying that they love teaching workshops to guilds or other groups because there's so much love for quilting in those sessions. They said they love the energy of the quilters sharing their love for this craft. They love how the (mostly) women share their favourite colour combinations, or share little tips and tricks that make the work faster or easier. Even though they are the teachers for that session, their own love of quilting is built up because of the time spent with other quilters.

Those teachers know so much about quilting, and in some cases they know much more than the people they're teaching. But it's not always a matter of who has the most knowledge or experience. Enthusiasm is contagious, so the more enthusiastic a quilter is, the more enthusiastic others around them can become. And you don't have to be an experienced quilter to be combining colours in new and interesting ways, so your eye for colour can awaken a more experienced quilter to a combination they've never considered before.

The same is true in our spiritual lives. Enthusiasm is contagious, and sometimes it's the older, more experienced Christians who need to spend time with newer Christians to catch sight of that enthusiasm again. 

We all see the world differently too, which means that we all see our faith differently. Most people probably don't associate their faith with quilting, but my mind often puts the two together. I also see a lot of connections between the bible and looking after small children, probably because I've spent the past 14 years in the company of toddlers and preschoolers. You likely make other connections when you read certain passages of Scripture, based on your interests and experiences.

That's why being around other Christians is so important. The writer of the book of Hebrews wrote, "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching" (Hebrews 10:24,25).

Of course, sometimes 'meeting together' happens in person and sometimes it happens online or through books. There are several devotions I enjoy reading, including (in)courage and Our Daily Bread. I also enjoy books by Charles Swindoll, Mark Buchanan, Ravi Zacharias, Philip Yancey and many others. All of them have experienced life differently than I have and so they have different insights to share.
Weekly devotions | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

And if you feel you don't have much to offer to encourage others? I don't think that's the case at all! I know that several of you have encouraged me through your comments left here on these devotions, sharing your own stories about how faith has helped you through tough times. We can encourage each other simply by sharing our stories of faith.

October 18, 2016

A Mini Mini for Renee

Renee of Quilts of a Feather and I agreed to swap mini mini quilts a few weeks ago. This is the gorgeous mini mini that Renee sent to me. I love the two toned binding, and of course the quilted paisley (one of Renee's trademark designs) is perfect.
Mini mini quilt | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
We agreed to swap shortly after my Then...and Now linky party, for which Renee wrote a post about her fmq progress. In her post, she had pictures of her Lone Star quilt, which was the very first blog post of hers I ever read, shortly after I started my blog. We've been sharing our quilting journeys ever since :)

So, when I was trying to decide what to make for her mini mini, I thought of the Lone Star block, but there was no way I was going to attempt a whole block at such a tiny scale! Even half of a Lone Star seemed like too much, so I decided to try just 1/4 of a Lone Star, using Renee's favourite colours - grey and teal.
Lone Star mini mini quilt | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Normally the star pieces are arranged in layers, so the darkest of my teal fabrics would have both been on the outside edge of the star and the lightest both in the center, or the other way around. Either way, though, I found it looked kind of flat somehow. Once I turned one of the sections around so that they alternated I liked it much better.

Once that was pieced, it was time for my favourite part - the quilting! I chose to do teeny-tiny flow quilting in the background and a dot-to-dot design in the star.
Lone Star mini mini quilt | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Then I decided to make a Christmas ornament to send with her mini mini. It's an idea I've been wanting to try, so I grabbed some of the fabric left over from making my Porthole quilt block and some grey thread and went for it. And I love how it turned out!
Free motion quilted Christmas ornament | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

Free motion quilted Christmas ornament | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

I'm planning to make more of these as Christmas gifts, using white fabric and red thread, and I'll write up a tutorial as I go. Hopefully I'll have that ready to share early next month so you have time to make lots of ornaments before Christmas :)

For now, I'm going to spend the rest of the evening working on my Just the Basics quilt. One of these days I'll get the quilting finished!

I'll be linking up with Let's Bee Social, NTT, TGIFF, Can I Get a Whoop Whoop and Finish it up Friday.

October 17, 2016


Devotion for the Week...

I have really been enjoying the beautiful weather we've been having this fall, especially because it allows me to take the kids I babysit for a walk pretty much every morning. The more days we get out for a walk, the more sane I stay :) Right now I look after three kids, two 1 year olds who ride in a double stroller and an-almost three year old named Fiona who walks holding onto the stroller. I've looked after quite a few kids and Fiona seems to enjoy walking the most out of all of them (besides the ones in the stroller, who always love being out). Our normal walk takes close to an hour because we can only go at her pace, of course. But one morning she was singing as we were coming up to where I would normally turn to head back home, so I knew she was enjoying the walk, and it was such a beautiful morning I didn't want to go home, so we just kept on going. The extended route took 1 hour and 20 minutes, and she never once complained. Just before we got back in sight of the house, she did say, "I'm getting tired," which struck me as funny, because I was getting tired and she takes two steps to every one of mine!

There are a couple of places where we go down fairly steep hills and I have to be very careful about where Fiona is walking. Most of the roads in our small town don't have sidewalks, so we are walking on the road itself and there's a mix of sand and tiny pebbles on top of the pavement in places. If we're going down a steep hill we have to walk a step or two farther into the road (there really isn't much traffic, so this is perfectly safe) so that Fiona's feet aren't landing on that mix of sand and pebbles. Unfortunately, I discovered this because one day she did step on the loose pebbles and she skidded down and hurt her knee a bit.

Those pebbles don't look like much, but they are just enough to keep her little foot from making contact with the solid pavement. Then, when her weight shifts as she walks, the pebbles roll under her foot and she loses her footing.

Jesus had this to say about the difference between being on rock and being on sand: "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash" (Matthew 7:24-27).

A house built on sand is not stable, it's going to fall as soon as a storm comes and pushes against the sand. But a house built on rock is not so easily moved. The same is true of our lives. Building our lives by following the teachings of Jesus requires moment by moment, decision by decision connection with Him. 

Of course, we also often compare our lives to a journey, and so you can think of each of those moments, and each of those decisions, as another step on the road. The important question is, are we stepping on the solid pavement, or are we stepping on the loose rock?

The more we are connected to God, stepping on the solid pavement, so to speak, the less likely we are to slip and fall. We stay connected in any relationship by spending time with the other person, right? Well, it's the same spiritually speaking. We stay connected to God by spending time with Him, through bible reading and prayer.

There are times, though, when little pebbles get in the way and reduce our connection to Him.

I'm not talking about sin, but about the things that keep us from having a firm spiritual footing, which then makes us more prone to slipping into sin. What are these little things, you ask? Well, I can think of two.

First up is our constant state of busy. We are all trying to do so much, but there are only so many hours in a day and there's really no way to fit it all in. What falls off the schedule when there's not enough time for everything? Prayer and bible reading. At least, that's what happens for me. So all those things we have going on in our lives can act like little pebbles, getting in between us and God.

The second thing is our choices. You see, there are a lot of times when I tell myself that I don't have time to read my bible, but really it's that I'm choosing to spend my time doing other things. Do you see the difference? There are some things we have to do that are non-negotiable. Work and caring for our families are things that have to happen. But there are plenty of hours in a week that we fill with things we choose to do. Hobbies (reading and sewing are my biggest ones), TV watching, social media...these are things we choose to do. I have to admit that I'm quite prone to choosing other things over time in prayer or reading my bible.

On their own, the things we have to do and the things we want to do are not necessarily bad for us. They don't necessarily hurt our relationship with God or make us more likely to sin. It's when the pebbles accumulate to the point that we're no longer making sufficient contact with the solid pavement that our feet slip, and it's when we're no longer making sufficient contact with God that we slip spiritually.
Weekly devotions | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

Fortunately, the fix is simple. When I'm walking with the kids, I keep an eye on the ground ahead of Fiona's feet so that I can keep her feet on the solid pavement. Spiritually speaking, we need to keep our own feet on solid pavement by not allowing other things to keep us from spending time with God. Keeping that connection strong will keep us from slipping into sin.

October 11, 2016

Sew Together Bag

Have you ever made a Sew Together Bag? I've admired them for a long time, but I kept putting off actually making one. No more! I now have my own Sew Together bag and I love it :)
Sew together bag | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
Many thanks to Anja at Anja Quilts for sharing the link to the sew-a-long at Quilt Barn, which has a lot of helpful pictures and tips. The pattern by Sew Demented (affiliate link) is clear and well written, but the sew-a-long has extra pictures and that always makes sewing easier.

Some of the seams in the final construction of the bag are really bulky, and I'm no expert with zippers, so the bag is far from perfect, but I'm still really pleased with it.

This is the bag I used to use for my EPP projects.
EPP bag | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

I made it back in 2013, shortly after starting this blog, for my very first blog hop, and it has served me well. There were times, though, when I was frustrated by needing to dig to the bottom of the bag to find something. Obviously, that won't be a problem with the new bag. Just look at all those pockets and compartments!
Inside my sew together bag | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
I had planned to make the pockets out of different scraps of blue, but all the pieces I pulled were too small and I was sewing at a friend's house, so I couldn't just go raid my stash again. The lining is all one fabric, the middle pocket is a fabulous blue batik and the other two pockets are different whites. In the end, I actually really like having only one blue pocket because it stands out so much.

Here is the bag full of my EPP supplies. As you can see, there is lots of room and I won't have to be digging around to find anything.
sew together bag full | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com
In other news, Devoted Quilter is finally on facebook! I know, it took me long enough, right? The problem is, I don't really know what I'm doing over there, so if there is a group I should join, let me know in the comments. So far I've joined the Quilt Design a Day group, which is one of the reasons I wanted to join facebook to begin with, but I know there are more groups I should check out. I really want to be able to connect with other quilters, but I find it a little overwhelming, to be honest, so please point me in the right direction! Thanks!

Now I'm off to go searching through my scraps to find more fabric to use for my EPP. There's lots of room in my bag, after all!

I'll be linking up this week with Let's Bee Social, NTT, TGIFF, Can I Get a Whoop Whoop and Finish it up Friday.

* This post contains an affiliate link. That means that if you click the link and then make a purchase, I may receive a small commission, but it does not affect the price you pay.

October 10, 2016

Give Thanks

Devotion for the Week...

It's Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada and as I was thinking about what to write for this devotion this week, everything I thought about was actually what I wrote in my Thanksgiving devotion for last year. Since that is still exactly how I feel about the importance and the purpose of giving thanks to God, I am sharing that message again today.

Oh, and this year we'll be having lemon cheesecake for dessert :)


Happy Thanksgiving Day (for Canadians, at least)! There will be turkey and all the fixings on my table this evening, followed by a delicious homemade Apple-Cheese Danish for dessert. We've been looking forward to this meal for days! Last night Aiden said, "Turkey dinner tomorrow, woo hoo!" I love that my boys are so easy to please :) While we eat, we'll ask the traditional "What are you thankful for?" - the answers to which are sometimes funny and always interesting.

I know that living where I do means I have a lot to be thankful for, from the big things like peace and freedom, to the little things like leaves changing colour and the ocean visible from my living room window. The same is probably true for you, too. Sometimes, though, circumstances get in the way and we get caught up in what is going wrong, so much so that we lose sight of the good things in our lives. Do you ever find that happens to you?

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says "give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." Notice Paul didn't tell the people of Thessalonica to give thanks for all of their circumstances, but to give thanks in all their circumstances. Here's an example of the difference: when I was sick a couple of weekends ago, I spent pretty much the entire weekend sitting in one chair because I was too exhausted to do any of the many things I wanted or needed to be doing. It felt like the weekend was completely wasted because I didn't get anything done. I was not thankful for my circumstance (being sick), but I was thankful for a husband who went to buy me medicine without needing to be asked and who stepped in to get meals on the table, which is usually my responsibility. I was thankful for the book I read and for the the little bits of hand stitching I was able to do. Likewise, when my washer broke and we ended up waiting two weeks for a new one, I wasn't thankful for the broken washer, but I sure was thankful for friends who shared their working washers with me!

It's not always easy to find things to be thankful for, especially when our bad circumstances are more serious than a common cold or a broken appliance. So why is it God's will that we give thanks in all our circumstances? Why does He want us searching for the good amid the bad? I think it has to do with perspective. If we're focused on the things that are going wrong, it can feel overwhelming, and it can feel like things will never get better. But our perspective changes when we start to think about the things that we can be thankful for. It lifts our spirits a little, and helps us to feel hopeful and less overwhelmed. 

Even better than that, being thankful reminds us that we have Someone to thank. God cares about us, no matter how we may feel while in the midst of unfortunate circumstances. By focusing on the good in our lives, no matter how puny the good may seem in the face of sickness or loss or whatever is going on, by seeing the good, we are reminded that "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows" (James 1:17).
Weekly devotions | DevotedQuilter.blogspot.com

A heart that is thankful is also less likely to become bitter. We have all known people who have allowed the circumstances of their lives to make them bitter and they are not pleasant people to be around. Neither are they happy. Even when their circumstances change for the better, people who have become bitter tend to cling to their unhappiness. God does not want that for His people, and so we are instructed to be thankful, no matter what the circumstances.

Since it is God's will for us that we be thankful in all circumstances, let's allow today to be a day of thanksgiving (even if you're not Canadian!). In fact, let's allow every day to be a day of thanksgiving.

So tell me, what are you thankful for? Big or small, share it in the comments below!
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