Monday, November 14, 2011

Sermon Summary

The Choice to Rejoice

Be joyful always; pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. I Thessalonians 5:16-18

Rejoicing is a matter of choice. You are the only one who decides if and when you will rejoice. Below are 3 Biblical guidelines to help us  rejoice in all circumstances.

To be joyful is the same as to rejoice.

1. Devote ourselves to prayer. (pray continually)
The bible commands us to do things we can't do ... apart from Him. 
The word "continually" means without ceasing. We are to never stop. Similar to a pilot and control power relationship we are to be constantly open and receptive to communication from God. He is always available to us.

2. Train ourselves to  give thanks. (give thanks in all circumstances)
Giving thanks doesn't happen naturally - it takes training. Just as children must be taught to say please and thank-you, we need to learn to develop the habit of thanking God in all circumstances.
In Acts 16 Paul and Silas were accused, attacked, stripped, beaten and flogged. After all that they were thrown into prison and place in stocks. Yet they prayed and sang hymns. 
Video clip of Helen Behrane - 
We need to quit whining and give thanks to God - we have so much for which to be grateful.

3. Keep your eyes on the prize. (for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus)
Let us fix our eyes on the Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2

Jesus kept his eyes on the prize. We also need to focus on what matters most. Jesus came to do God's will as shown in Heberews 10:7. We too can rejoice when we know we're right where God wants us to be. 

Ps 16:11 says will fill me with joy in your presence...

There are only three places where we are told directly what the will of God is - 
I Thessalonians 4:3 - It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality.
I Peter 2:15 - For it is by God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.
I Thessalonians 5: 18 - give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

If you wish you could do God's will - this is it.

We need to remember that these verses are commands not suggestions or options.

Such a lot of content for such a little passage.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Coming Soon: Christmas Tree Skirt

Cut it last night.
Hope to sew it tonight.
Stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Thankful ... for My Husband

I am thankful, really. It might not seem like it based on the number of posts in the last few several months. But that's not it. Life has gotten kinda crazy, kinda busy. Blogging has become a lower priority. Hopefully, this will change as new choices are made in the future.

I have a renewed thankfulness for my husband. He has been going through a lot of changes in the last couple of years. After losing his job as an architect, he chose to take on a much lower paying job as a janitor at our church. It was humbling, yet fulfilling for him. He was sad to have to leave California and our friends their, but oddly enough he was also sad to leave that job. It gave him time to think - that is a wonderful thing for him.

His next job was as retail salesperson at a nursery (with hopes of becoming a landscape designer). Even though the pay wasn't great, the opportunity to explore a long-held dream was wonderful. The step from salesperson to landscape designer has been challenging. And yet he is so thankful for this chance to pursue that dream that he is working through those challenges with diligence and commitment.

As I have watched my husband make these changes and deal with the fluctuations in salary and hours, it has become apparent that he is committed to providing for us and allowing himself to be used by God in new and different (sometimes very uncomfortable) ways. In this month of thanksgiving, I want to publicly profess my thankfulness to my husband for his provision.

But beyond that, he is a man who cares deeply for me. He's not one for mushy words and extravagant gifts. He would rather show his love in practical ways by folding laundry and taking me out to eat instead of watching me schlog through dinner preparations when I'm exhausted. He's a no-nonsense guy who can be my best supporter and most encouraging cheerleader. I'm seeing a side of him I never would have seen if we hadn't gone through the things we're going through now. I know even more deeply that he is fully committed to me and will never leave me. I will be forever grateful that he is mine and I am his.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ta-Ta to Triple Digits

While I am very thankful that we were recently able to relocate to Texas, I don't think I will every get accustomed to the triple digit temperatures in our area. I am so looking forward to the cooling affects of September - at least I hope they will be cooling.

Air conditioning is truly a miracle and a blessing. I am thankful for it in our car, our home, my place of employment and just about every other location I've been for the last 2 1/2 months.

But...I'm ready to venture outside again. I long to stand in the sunlight without feeling like I'm getting an instant sunburn. I want to NOT sweat. I want to take a walk and have a nice cooling breeze blow through my hair. Ah, it's the stuff of dreams.

I know, I know. I'm a baby. Dang right! Bring on Autumn. I'm beginning to think that Summer's only purpose is to help us appreciate more greatly the wonders of Fall. What other purpose does all that heat and dryness serve?

Farewell August. I will not miss you or your heat. I am truly thankful to see you go.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sometimes Completion is More Important than Perfection

As the baby shower approached I had to make a decision - would it be awesome or would it get finished? Let's just say it was pretty close to awesome and it got finished just in the nick of time.

Sure, it could have been better. The piecing was good. My skills are definitely improving. It was the actual quilting that was less than stellar. Unfortunately, I just couldn't give it the time it deserved. To be honest, quilting isn't something I have a lot of experience with, so even if I'd had time, I'm pretty sure than it still wouldn't have been "perfect."

There was something difficult for me about accepting that this project would be inadequate. I had so wanted it to be flawless. Ha! Who am I kidding? I'm not capable of flawless. But, at this point, I am capable of pretty darned good. Come to think of it, there's really nothing wrong with pretty darned good ... especially if I'm not trying to get a ribbon. It's a baby quilt for goodness sake. Little Jude will not be complaining that my stitching isn't on the money.

I'm just thankful to have the opportunity, skills and materials to make this unique, one-of-a-kind gift for someone special. Quilting is fun, even when it's not perfect.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Birthday Reflections

Forty nine. It’s just a number, right?

Well it’s a significant number today, because it’s mine to claim. I’m no longer in my “mid forties.” I suppose I have to own the fact that I’m approaching 50 and should now embrace my late forties. While the body does indeed ache a little more, I really don’t feel that much older. Life is still full of wonders and little things still bring excitement. I’m believing more and more that age is a state of mind.

There are many seniors in my life who have the enthusiasm of youth. It's a pleasure to be in their company. And then there are some who are just plain grumpy. Every time I’m around them I wonder if I’m going to say something that will be ridiculed or considered offensive. I refuse to accept that as you age you have to become a curmudgeon.

Business man and poet Samuel Ullman said it well in this poem:

Youth is not a time of life; it is a state of mind; it is not a matter of rosy cheeks, red lips and supple knees; it is a matter of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions; it is the freshness of the deep springs of life.

Youth means a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity of the appetite, for adventure over the love of ease. This often exists in a man of sixty more than a body of twenty. Nobody grows old merely by a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals.

Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul. Worry, fear, self-distrust bows the heart and turns the spirit back to dust.

Whether sixty or sixteen, there is in every human being's heart the lure of wonder, the unfailing child-like appetite of what's next, and the joy of the game of living. In the center of your heart and my heart there is a wireless station; so long as it receives messages of beauty, hope, cheer, courage and power from men and from the Infinite, so long are you young.

When the aerials are down, and your spirit is covered with snows of cynicism and the ice of pessimism, then you are grown old, even at twenty, but as long as your aerials are up, to catch the waves of optimism, there is hope you may die young at eighty.

Bring on youth!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Finally Finished

My best friend, Judy, is coming to visit in a few weeks. She's going to sleep on our extra bed upstairs. The only quilt I have for that bed is over 20 years old and falling apart. This will not be acceptable.

I've had a flimsy complete since I went to a retreat about 3 years ago, but I wasn't loving this quilt and wasn't sure I wanted to keep it. I pulled it out and decided that maybe if I had it quilted I would like it better. I met with a local long-arm quilter and got an estimate that was a tad high for my tastes. After some thought and discussion, I decided that custom quilting wasn't really necessary. An allover meandering pattern would do quite nicely and was much less expensive. So off to the quilter it went.

Once quilted, I had a new appreciation for this old JoAnn's Block of the Month cutie. With the deadline of my visiting friend fast approaching, I whipped the binding on in no time. Ahhh....the power of a deadline! I'm hoping that power will come into play on this, not-yet-started baby quilt.

I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Super Thankful

Last week was a week of many blessings.

Blessing #1 - There has been some cleaning out going on at work (a quilt shop). It was determined that some fabric needed to go and I was the very happy recipient of 2 yards.

Blessing #2 - My friend/quilting gal (Dawn) has been cleaning out her sewing room and throwing away - yes, I said throwing away - fabric. Can you imagine? Neither could I. I told her in no uncertain terms that I would take that "trash" off her hands. When she brought me a 33 gallon trash bag almost full with fabric I was giddy.

Blessing #3 - Another friend/quilting gal from my home state of California has a quilt pattern business. I follow her projects and life happenings on her blog, Robin Quilts, Etc. She was at Market last week and attended an event called Sample Spree. She had a contest on her blog and was going to gift one commenter with an item she picked up at Sample Spree. I was the winning commenter, so I'm going to be receiving a Robert Kaufman Roll Up in the mail soon.

I am so blessed and very, very thankful.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Block 3

This is the 3rd block in the Romance Continues Block of the Month by Marti Michell. This picture is a bit blurry, but I actually think I like my fabrics better than those that come in the block of the month kit each month. I haven't shared those yet, have I? I'll save that for another blog post.

I've also got a large quilt that I need to start binding. So far, the strips are cut and sewn together.

Next is the ironing and attaching. And then finally, the hand sewing. This is probably my favorite part of quiltmaking - it means another quilt is almost finised. And since my bff is coming to visit next month and needs to sleep under this quilt, I'd better get moving.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Panic - Not!

Okay....I tried to log into my blogger account and couldn't. So I kind of panicked, thinking maybe I'd been hacked. But no...I was just using the wrong password or email or both. When did life become so packed with information? So full of content? So distractingly crazy.

I could sit and read blog posts all day because there are just so many good blogs to read - couponing, quilting, cooking, etc. (By the way, spell check doesn't consider couponing a word. Yeah, right!) Plus articles on the latest news, saving money, celebrities and so on. And then there are the TV programs that I can access online. Oh yeah, add working on the budget to the list. much to process. And meanwhile, my backside just grows and grows. Must ... get ... control.

That's why I'm going to go for a walk tomorrow morning. I might not be fast, but at least I'll tie on the shoes and get in some steps. Right now the mornings are perfect for enjoying outside. While I'm at it I'll take the time to talk to God about all that I'm thankful for and all I need to entrust to Him. I'm looking forward to it.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Little Bit at a Time

So ... if sewing soothes the soul, why don't I do it every day? Well, the answer is simple - time. One has to think ahead and plan a little so that when one has the chance one can just get going. I'm working on this, so that I can make good use of the snippets of time that appear in my life.

Having goals also helps to make wise use of time. I have a dear friend coming to visit me in approximately 3 months. She will be staying in our "guest bedroom/husband's hobby room." The bed we have for this room is a futon (we hear it's hard as a rock, so we bought an egg-crate topper, but I digress). I would like for my dear friend to be the first to sleep under an Americana quilt that I hope to have complete at that time.

I bought the parts for this quilt in a kit series from Jo-Ann about 10 years ago. I thought it was so cute back then. Over time I grew to be less enamored with the quilt top. But as it's completion comes closer I am once again finding it attractive.

The goal for this week was to contact the quilter and find out when she could pick it up. You see, this quilt is rather large and I'm a little out of practice when it comes to the art of machine quilting, so I opted to have someone else tackle this job. I was a little surprised when she told me she was available the next day, which is today. So last night, my next goal of seaming the backing fabric, was set for me.

Here's a little peek of what the backing looks like.

When I get the quilt back and have finished binding it (in less than 3 months, hopefully) I'll post a pic. I'm excited for this quilt to be completed and this goal to be met. But it didn't happen quickly. It took a little bit at a time.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Sewing Soothes the Soul

The days when I get to sew are the best days of all. There's just something about sewing that soothes the soul. Not just any kind of sewing will do. It's the creative/productive kind of sewing that we quilters enjoy.

I'm currently in a new experience called a Block-of-the-Month. The quilt I am assembling is The Romance Continues, by Marti Michell. This quilt calls for templates - little plexiglass shapes that create perfectly cut fabric pieces that fit together perfectly and create the perfect quilt block.

Well, being the cheapo that I am, I decided that I didn't want to purchase the templates and would try to create the blocks using some other, more standard, rulers. But before I actually make the block I'm supposed to be making with the fabric that comes as part of the block of the month program, I am cutting all the pieces out of some scrap fabric I have, to make sure that things will go together as planned. This is what I call fun. After I make the "trial block," I then go on to make the official block.

Today I cut out my trial block and laid it out to make sure I understand how the pieces to together. This is all I have time for today. This counts as sewing. This soothes the soul. Another day I will stitch them together. What fun!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Positive Attitude Can Make A Big Difference

Fred and Johnny are two guys who made a difference. They both had what others would consider to be menial jobs. One was a postman and the other was a grocery story bagger. But both were genuine in their care for others. And that is what makes them special. Read more about Fred here and watch this video to see Johnny's story.

What you choose to focus on is so important that it can spill over to how you treat others. If you want your interactiions with those around you to be positive then take time to make sure you are getting that positivity into your psyche. Read books about thankfulness, success and overcoming challenges. Listen to motivational audio files. Go to church. Study people in your own life who are upbeat and hopeful. Take cues from others who have mastered the art of encouragment ... like Fred and Johnny.

Say something nice to someone today.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Renewed Focus

If I have so much to be thankful for, then why have I only written one blog in the last year or so? I think that I sometimes have difficulty acknowledging publicly my belief in God's provision for my needs. And yet, I wholeheartedly believe that all I have is from God.

It is much easier to complain about all I don't have than to take the efffort required to focus on the many blessings I do have. It just seems to be human nature (at least for this human) to gripe. And yet, I know that it is better, for many reasons, to focus on the positive.

Today I am thankful for where I found the tastiest Barbeque Chicken Salad recipe to have for dinner last night. We didn't have all the ingredients on hand, but I was able to zip into our local Target and quickly grab them. Zipping into Target was an option because, in a surpising twist, I got off work early yesterday. After dinner there was time to watch some TV with my daughter (Diners, Drive-ins and Dives) while working on my hexagon quilt. Another flower is complete - Yay!

Hopefully this will be the beginning of a renewed focus on thankfulness. Stay tuned.