Sew it Begins….Sew It is Finished

Lent, the six week period leading up to Easter, is one of the most important times of the year for many Christians. It is usually a solemn observance and preparation for the celebrations of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ at Easter.

It’s a traditional time of fasting, abstaining from or giving something up. The more orthodox and traditional denominations will observe a strict fast with the abstinence of  meat, fish, eggs and fats until Easter. Others may choose to give up a luxury item, perhaps chocolate, alcohol or their favorite Starbucks coffee. Maybe they choose to stop watching TV,  turn off social media, or quit dining out in order to refocus on their faith during this time. 

Just as we prepare for celebrations such as weddings and birthdays in our personal lives; Lent invites us to prepare our minds and hearts for remembering Jesus’ life death and resurrection.

Without really realizing it, making BJ’s quilt has been my “Lent,” if you will, this year. 

I began working on it February 15 with a shopping trip with her to select the fabrics and colors. Since then, I spent an average of eight hours daily planning, cutting and sewing.

many hours handstitching
Many evenings of hand stitching

 

There were many evenings that I sat with the quilt in my lap hand quilting late into the night.

Each day as I began work on the quilt, I started the mornings with a prayer, turned my laptop on, clicked on the Bible Broadcasting Network and listened to bible teachings, music and audio readings of Christian Classic books (I really enjoyed “The Hiding Place” by Corrie Ten Boom), or I would switch to just meditation instrumental worship and praise music. I sat at my sewing machine or favorite chair and stitched, listened, prayed and meditated.

The double wedding ring patterns reminded me that God’s love for me is everlasting, it has no beginning, no end. (Psalm 103:17 – But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children—)

The white muslin and colorful squares of patchwork joined together, reminded me that through my faith and belief in Christ, I too am a new creation. (2 Corinthians 5:17 – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.)

Light at the end of the tunnel
There’s light at the end of the tunnel

Sunday, April 5, I could see light at the end of the tunnel. I was on the home stretch. My plans were to have the quilt finished by Easter. 

Thursday I put in the last stitch in the quilt. I exclaimed, “It is finished!” The quilt was finished, but I had not completed the whole job I had set out to do.…I still had pillow shams and throw pillows to make.

 

throw pillows
The throw pillows turned out nice. Don’t you think?

On Good Friday I used the fabric remnants to make throw pillows. As I finished them, again I exclaimed, “It is finished!”   Immediately, I thought of Christ’s last word’s, ”It is finished,” as He died on the cross on this day… I stopped and gave thanks for the depth of His love. (John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life…)

BJ's DWR quilt copy
It is finished.

I marveled at the finished quilt. I still couldn’t quite believe that I had made it. I thanked God for my renewed gift of sewing.

This morning I sent some pictures of the quilt to BJ, telling her it was ready to be picked up. I commented that it wasn’t perfect, but neither are we. To which she replied, “Perfectly done from the heart.”

I believe the words of Billy Graham captures what “perfectly done from the heart” truly is.

“For the believer there is hope beyond the grave, because Jesus Christ has opened the door to heaven for us by His death and resurrection.” -Billy Graham

“Easter always brings hope to all of us. For the Christian, the Cross tells us that God understands our suffering, for He took upon Himself at the Cross all of our sins and all of our failures and all of our sufferings. Our Lord, on that cross, asked the question, “Why?” “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?”  And he received his answer, he knew.  To redeem the world, to save you and me from our sins, to give us assurance that if we died we’re going to heaven. He was saying from the cross, I love you and I know the heartaches and the sorrows and the pain that you feel.

Easter points us beyond the tragedy of the Cross to the hope of the empty tomb. It tells us that there is hope for eternal life for Christ has conquered death. It also tells us that God has triumphed over evil and death and hell. This is our hope and it can be your hope as well.” 

BJ and her husband stopped by my house this afternoon to pick up her quilt ensemble. She gave a generous donation to the Run For The Sun mission efforts as a way of  thanking me for making her quilt, commenting on the sacrifice of time it must have taken. (300 hours. Give or take one or two. But who’s counting.) 

Sacrifice? No, just another quilt stitched in love on a journey of faith, drawing me closer to God as I listen for His whisperings of grace.

Now…What to do to fill my time with as we wait out the “stay-at-home” order during this pandemic? Guess I will be making face masks. Quilted or no? 

How have you been filling your time?

Until next time…stay safe, stay well, stay in the Word of God, and always be listening for whisperings of grace.

Sew it Begins…A Ripple Effect

I’ve almost completed the Double Wedding Ring quilt.

Ripples
I decided to hand stitch it using a ripple effect.

 

 

The back side “ain’t half bad” either.

 

What do you think? Tell me. I can take constructive criticism. But I also like to hear encouraging words. Yes, it’s a little rustic looking. But not tooooooo bad.

I have been enjoying the time I’ve had to work on the quilt over these past few weeks. I’ve spent many hours meditating and praying during my quilting time. As I worked on it this past week, I got to thinking how the ripple effect is like our actions. What we do effects others. Then I thought about how this pandemic thing going on around the world is having a rippling effect on all of us.

Life is taking on a new norm in this time of quarantine, isn’t it? So many actions we took for granted, now have to become intentional.

I, like most of you I assume, have to think twice about when to venture out in public nowadays. I find myself asking, “Do I really need to go to market today, or can I wait another week, maybe two weeks? Will I find the necessities at one location, or will I have to visit several markets?” 

For me, the importance of wearing personal protective equipment was something I taught during in-service training when I was on staff at a local hospital many moons ago. I never imagined I would be reminding family members the importance of it just for daily routines when out and about. Nor did I think I would ever have to find or create a supply of items. Fortunately, I usually kept a supply of vinyl gloves on hand (no pun intended) in my kitchen anyway, and had some in the pantry before the panic shopping set in for folks. Now kitchen gloves are even flying off the shelves in the local stores. 

I have to remind myself and hubby too, that gloves are meant to avoid cross-contamination. For instance, in a hospital, workers glove up to touch a patient and then DISCARD the gloves before moving on to the next task. If we wear the same set of gloves all over town, we are carrying germs everywhere! Every door we touch, the cart, the supplies, our phones, our faces… each action has a ripple effect.

If you are doing this, I urge you not to. If you are not changing gloves, then it would be far better to not wear gloves and WASH YOUR HANDS after every store or task. It has a ripple effect.

I could paint a grim picture like most news media are doing, but I choose to look on the bright side and try to find something encouraging each day. “Bright side?” you may ask. Well, yes, around here many are trying to anyway.

Teddy in the Window

      Local neighborhoods have begun a “bear hunts”. The idea is to place a teddy bear in a window, on your porch, or stoop, so that children, out for walks or rides with their parents, try to find the bears.

It has had a ripple effect. 

 

 

 

Neighbors are finding new ways to bring cheer to passersby with chalk art.Believe there is Change
We're in This Together

It has had  a ripple effect.

Families are calling and checking on loved ones more often. I especially enjoyed a FaceTime call to wish my granddaughter a happy 10th birthday. We usually go visit for the weekend of her birthday. Of course, being on a mandatory stay-at-home order and curfew, we were not able to travel across state this year. Receiving an unexpected FaceTime call from her PaPa  and Gra’Ma-D brought a huge smile to our “Lil’ Bird.”    It had a ripple effect. 

Churches and houses of worship may have to be empty during this quarantine. However, they are staying connected to their congregations and reaching out to minister to others through different media and social networking platforms such as Zoom, YouTube, and FaceBook.

It has a ripple effect.

Thought for today:

“You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For  not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you…,but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere…”  1 Thessalonians 1:5-8 (ESV)           

As I sat and meditated each day while quilting, Grace whispered reminding me that how I live out my faith has a ripple effect. I can choose to be introverted and not care how my actions affect others or allow God’s grace to flow through me.

How about you? What are you doing to cause a ripple effect during this trying time in history?

Until next time…stay well and be a ripple! Smiles are Contagious

 
 

 

 

Sew it Begins….Keeping a Sense of Humor

The quilt is coming along nicely. Since the COVID-19 quarantine is keeping my husband and I cabin bound like most others folks, I’m getting a lot accomplished.

Yes, as you’ve probably already guessed, I started to hand-stitch most of the quilting.

IMG_4003
Loading a bunch of needles on a needle threader and having them pre-threaded when one length of thread runs out is a time saver!

 

I have found it to be a very relaxing way to pass the time. I have a nice comfy chair in front of a window to capture good natural lighting while I quilt. It’s nice to enjoy the sunlight and watch birds flit around my backyard as I look away from the quilting to give my eyes a rest. I tune into one of my favorite radio stations on the web or listen to books on audio and stitch away.

 

I wasn’t quite sure what designs I would use. I settled on an easy repeating arc in the center of the melon shapes. IMG_3999It takes me approximately 45 minutes to an hour to quilt one arc. As of last night I had 14 more to go. I should finish them tomorrow. Then on to the center diamond/squares. Haven’t yet decided on a pattern for them. Do you have any suggestions? I’m hoping to finish it this week!

 

Hubby and I did decide to take a break this weekend for a couple of hours to get some wind therapy.

fullsizeoutput_704
I love that I have storage space. Kept my helmet secure while we hiked.

It felt good to get on the bike. I haven’t been able to ride since December due to suffering with some crud for 8 weeks. We  kept to the 6ft social distancing. As we hiked we talked about the circumstances surrounding everyone. Like how some folks are overtaken by fear and are hoarding paper products,  and others disregard any precautionary measures. We discussed possible ways when desperate times may call for desperate measures. He said, “Did you know that one of the dirtiest surfaces is a gas pump handle? We could use the plastic grocery bags to lift the handle. You need to keep some in your car.”  Not a bad idea.

Then while picking up a few things at a Dollar General store I spoke with a lady who had a plastic spray bottle and bundle of  washcloths in her basket.

IMG_4012
Desperate times may call for desperate measures.

She commented, “For when I run out of TP.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thought for today:

“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” – (Proverbs 17:22 (NIV)

Until next time…keep a sense of humor friends and remember “flexibility and grace” will help us get through this together. Continuing to pray for all. Just got word that a cousin of mine in SC tested positive. 😦

And really, I welcome any design suggestions!

 

 

Sew it Begins…Piece by Piece

Seeing how I have never made a Double Wedding Ring quilt, I didn’t realize there are so many patterns to choose from. Wow. Thanks, Pinterest. It’s overwhelming.

I narrowed the selections down to two, combined the two to make a third alternate pattern and presented the three to BJ to select from. Thank goodness, without knowing it, she chose the simplest one. Not to say it’s an easy pattern,  just the least complicated. It consists of 5 different shapes  appliquéd onto 12 inch squares to form a Double Wedding Ring. 

Prep-work completed…

Fabric ironed, cut into 520 pattern pieces, and then sorted.

Let the sewing commence.

I’ve always heard a picture is worth a thousand words. IMG_3971

IMG_3973

Pic4 - appliqueing begins

IMG_3979

 

 

pic7 - solid arc appliques

The quilt top got to be more than I could handle on the sewing machine cabinet. I had to get creative and come up with more space to support the growing expanse of fabric. 

Pressing DWR seams
Gotta get those seams pressed!

So, I brought in a folding table and placed a cutting board on top.

Before finishing the quilt top, I ended up bringing in a drop-leaf table and expanded it beside the folding table.

IMG_3981 

Backing, batting and quilt top all sandwiched together and ready for quilting. pic11 - sandwiched

Thought for today:

“Hatred starts a fight, but love pulls a quilt over the bickering.” Proverbs 10:12 (The Message)

As we adjust to a, hopefully, temporary new normal these days, let’s be mindful of our neighbors and all whom we come in contact when out and about. Let all strife you may have with someone go by the wayside … practice a little grace. After all, we are all together in this stressful time,  even if 6ft apart.

Any suggestions on how to practice a little grace? Share them in the comment field below.

Come back next week to see how the quilt is progressing.  Now to decide, should it be machine quilted or hand stitched? …

Until then, I’m praying you have a great week and stay well.

Sew it Begins…Different Tools – Different Tasks

Hmmm… Let’s take a peek into my sewing box as I pull out the tools needed to make BJ’s DWR quilt.

 

Scissors. Will probably need them.

Rotary cutters? Yes, will definitely need them…and tin foil.

Rotary Cutters and tinfoil
Tinfoil helps sharpen the cutters until you can get a replacement blade.

Needles, needle threaders, thimbles, thread and snippers…yep. Got to have them. Oops, almost forgot the baking scrapper.

IMG_4010
The basics for my sewing corner.

The wooden tube needle holder piqued my interest. See it beside the yellow thimble? It was in the things inherited with my mom’s collection of sewing supplies. Printed on it is Boye Needle Company, Chicago, Illinois. “BUY NEW SHUTTLE if machine skips stitches or breaks thread.”  I wondered just how old it may be. So, I went down a few rabbit holes on the web searching for information. Well, come to find out it’s circa 1909-1929… aaannnddd…I just happen to have the treadle sewing machine that it belonged to sitting in my living room. There’s still thread on some of the shuttles in its tool drawer. Grandma's sewing machine.This discovery brought some sweet memories. The machine belonged to my great grandmother and was passed down to my grandmother. I remember “riding” the treadle as a little girl at grandma’s house. She never scolded me for playing on it. It was inherited by one of my mom’s 5 sisters when grandma died. Aunt M gave it to me when I got married. My children used to play on the treadle too. Remembering how I played on it and was never scolded, I couldn’t scold them when they broke the fly arm on it. They deserved the same grace I had received.

Back to my sewing box…

Will probably need a tailor’s cloth measuring tape and yard stick. Most definitely an acrylic ruler and several cutting mats.

Straight pins and quilter’s safety pins for sure. 

Seam ripper? Wish I could say I wouldn’t need it. But, you know that old saying don’t you?

Seam ripper
“As ye sew, so shall ye rip.”

 

Brushes for cleaning out the bobbin case, and teeny tiny screwdrivers for adjusting its tension. Let’s see now. What else? Oh yeah, a utility knife, cardboard sheet cake mats,

Utility Knife & sheet cake mat
I’m always seeking ways to repurpose items and save money. Instead of buying quilt templates, I make my own with inexpensive cardboard sheet cake mats.

a carpenter’s measuring tape, freezer paper, masking and painters tape, and bandaids.

Bandaid thimble
Again my repurposing. Instead of buying an expensive leather thimble, I wrap two bandaids around my thumb and ring fingers. I can still feel the needle to help guide it and my fingers don’t become sore from the constant pressure. See the worn spot? That would have been my finger. Ouch!

I didn’t think I had many sewing tools until I began listing them. Were you surprised when I pulled out the baking scraper, tin foil, sheet cake mats and bandaids?

God has many different tools in His toolbox (the Church). Each is special and has a special purpose. We expect to find scissors, needle and thread in a sewing basket. But not the baking scraper, sheet cake mat and tin foil. In the same way, many times we only expect God to use our pastors, priests, elders, or Sunday school teachers for sharing His grace and love. But really, God wants to use each of us, you and me. He has created us unique and different. Different tools for different tasks. He wants us to use our gifts for Him.

“Different tools for different tasks.”

Now think about how each of the items taken out of my sewing box could be used by God and who might use such a tool. For example: the basic sewing supplies, needle, thread, scissors… may be used by a missionary in teaching a sewing class or a seamstress making tops to be shipped to underprivileged children; the baking scraper may be used in preparing desserts for a homeless shelter; the carpenter’s measuring tape could be used by a construction worker to help build houses for Homes for Habitat; the freezer paper used to wrap meals for hurricane victims or teaching preschool children a fun craft. 

Now also think of other tools, gifts or abilities God has given them, or you and me, that can be used for His glory and to share His grace with others. Can you sing? Can you play a musical instrument? Do you have a gift for writing? Do you enjoy drawing or gardening? What about sports? Ever thought about volunteering in a soup kitchen or perhaps painting a little ladies’ fingernails in a nursing home? Perhaps you could take an elderly friend to shop, or just take them out for a scenic drive.

“There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but they all come from the same Spirit. There are different ways to serve the same Lord, and we can each do different things. Yet the same God works in all of us and helps us in everything we do. The Spirit has given each of us a special way of serving others.” 1 Corinthians 12:4-7 (CEV)

All are great tools. However, God’s word is the most powerful tool that has been given to us. We must make sure we have it in our toolbox for everyday life. It provides guidance, promises of peace and assurance in times of troubles.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic that’s causing fear to arise in many folks, I find comfort from God’s word in today’s meditative message. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Phil.4:6 (ESV)

Sometimes it’s not easy to “not be anxious,” not to worry and be fearful. That’s our natural tendencies when something comes into our lives and disrupts it’s normal flow. But, trusting in my God who loves me with an everlasting love and allowing my faith in His sovereignty to uphold me, I’m not panicking. I’m carrying on in my daily fashion. I continue to purchase a two week supply of groceries, as I always have. I don’t rush out an hoard items that I already have on hand. There are others who may need it. I wash my hands often and practice good hygiene, as I always have.  I pray daily and thank God for my blessings and lift others up in need, as I always have. And since starting on BJ’s quilt, I work on it daily without fail. 

Do you have any tools that you use for different purposes? Are there sewing tips to help save your fingers? Do you have a favorite scripture verse that whispers to you? I’d love to hear about them.

The quilt is coming along nicely. Come back later to see how it’s progressed. It’s really starting to take shape.

Until then…praying you have a blessed week and stay well. 

(Remember to wash your hands often!)

Sew it Begins…The rekindling of a lost gift

      “ Because of this I remind you to rekindle God’s gift that you possess…” (2 Tim. 1:6)

    Reading the letters Apostle Paul writes to his young friend Timothy, one gets the impression that Timothy may have sometimes failed in the task before him. In 2 Timothy chapter 1 we see Paul encouraging Timothy as he reminds him to remember his teachings from youth and to rekindle his gift. I did a search on the word he uses, “anazopureo”, and came across this interesting read by Rev. David Wheaton. It gave me cause for reflection. Rekindle to excite, stir up, or rouse anew…

     Repurposing life as I journey into retirement has been very fulfilling thus far. Leaving the stresses of corporate life in bookkeeping was a no brainer. My, oh my, what a rush of relief it was knowing I no longer had to deal with anyone else’s taxes except my own. Of course, that left me pondering just what I was going to fill those hours of day with now that I didn’t have to answer to a time clock. You can see how I answered that question over at my little snippet “Repurposing.” I’ve not quite finished everything on that dry wipe board’s to-do list. But, I’m getting there. (Like I said, no time clock.) The loss of my mother during this time brought about another time of reflection captured in “A Tapestry of Life”. 

     Seems I must now be channeling some of mom’s talents. Talent? No, it was a gift. She could sew, crochet, knit, arrange flowers, and the list goes on. She taught me to sew when I was about seven years old. I remember sitting at her sewing machine, very similar to the one  pictured here, Singer vintage 1965where I made a very simple green corduroy skirt. There were no crooked seams. No mismatched nap and it fit me. I was so pleased with myself. But, mostly because it pleased her.

     Seldom did she acknowledge or praise anything I did. Mostly I received criticism. But that time… I received a “Good job!” That one little phrase opened up a dream of possibilities. I was allowed to sit at her machine and make doll clothes for my Barbie doll. Although they were, ahem, a little crude looking, in the eyes of a child they were designer gowns. 

     As I got older, my sewing skills improved. In Home Economic classes in my middle and high school years, I began sewing most of my own clothes. When I married, Mom and I made my wedding dress and all of my bride’s maid dresses. I stopped sewing when I had to go full-time into the corporate workforce. Seams, I mean…seems … between being a full-time wife, full-time mother and full-time clock puncher, I no longer had the needed time for that art.

    I digress in my rambling. As I was saying, I must be channeling mom’s talents now. What began as a feeble attempt to bring a bit of joy to others by means of “Prayer Quilts” this past fall has  rekindled an old passion. I posted pictures of a few of them on social media. Prayer Quilt 1img_3933The response was overwhelming. Folks asked if I made quilts for sale. My response was, “How does one place a monetary value on other’s  loved ones?”  However, I also said, if they would like a quilt made, I would be happy to create one for them if they provided the materials and made a donation to the Christian Motorcyclists Association’s (CMA) mission support  “Run for The Son” fundraiser that provides transportation, bibles and showings of the Jesus film to itinerant pastors who may otherwise have no access to these tools. (As many of you know, my husband and I are members of CMA. Love my bike!) 

     I was approached by a sweet lady who said she would provide the materials if I would make a quilt for her new home being built. (In fear of a botch job, I recently turned down her request to make some drapes for her new house.) Thinking a little throw quilt would be a piece of cake to make, I agreed. So, I asked her if there was a particular pattern and size she would like. “Well,” she said, “ I like the Wedding Ring. I was thinking maybe a king size.” I gulped. She meant the Double Wedding Ring. Only one of the most advanced quilt patterns out there! I had already committed myself to the task. I couldn’t refuse her this time.

     So it begins…the rekindling of a lost gift… and the making of a Double Wedding Ring quilt. Did I say it’s only one of the most advanced quilt patterns out there. Lord, Jesus help me!

Follow along as I complete this labor of love for my friend BJ.    Updates to come.

   Before I close out today, I’d like to encourage you to rekindle the gift God has given you, not only with abilities, talents and skills, but a relationship with Him.

Jesus, confirm my heart’s desire

to work, and speak and think for Thee;

still let me guard the holy fire,

and still stir up the gift in me.

(From the hymn beginning O Thou Who Comest from Above.)