28. Protection

Left and Right block

The Bible passage describes the children of Israel complaining to Moses because they are trapped by the sea ahead and the Egyptian army in pursuit right behind. I don’t blame them, I would feel the same way. But God, who has been leading them in a cloud by day, moves His angel and Himself to the rear of the camp, in order to hide them from the Egyptians that night. The Egyptians can no longer see ahead, and must be spooked by the cloud which is giving light by night. Was it a constant glow or a lightning storm? I’m sure those Egyptians would have been happy to turn tail, it is so evident that God was on the side of the Israelites. But follow orders they must.

Dawn at the Red Sea has Moses stretching his hand out over the water. Now here’s a moment to consider. Like me, did Moses second-guess himself? Did the thought pass through his mind, even fleetingly, that this could fail? He’d be holding that rod aloft for how long before accepting it as a no-go? Was he secretly attempting to come up with a plan B?

Moses didn’t part the Red Sea, God did. But first God required an action, an act of obedience borne of trust, from a man before performing this miracle. Why does He do that?

The children of Israel also had to take action. They had to move forward and walk into that Red Sea (which was now walls of water to the left and right with dry ground below) in order to receive God’s protection from their enemies. They also had to follow the cloud by day to be led to their promised land.

I recall a quote heard long ago: “God can only direct a moving object”. I disagree, God can do anything He chooses. But I do agree with the intent: we are to walk by faith, not by sight. If we don’t know what to do, at least do something, and God will take care of the rest.

Martin Luther is attributed with this quote that also comes to mind: “If I knew surely the world would end tomorrow, I would plant an apple tree today”.

You Can Take the Teacher Out of the Classroom . . .

It’s the REAL final link-up for Good Fortune. I’m going to miss the linkup Mondays: https://quiltville.blogspot.com/2019/02/the-last-good-fortune-mystery-monday.html

Here’s my progress:

I am enjoying the process so much more than last year’s On Ringo Lake because I forced myself to take it slow and steady this year. Do you learn things about yourself as you quilt? I was wondering why I always have so many projects in the hopper. I love the juggling act of numerous quilts in progress all at once. It dawned on me today that decades of teaching small children has conditioned my brain. Years of crafting lesson plans to go from start to finish in twenty five minutes has set my brain clock. And all those “brain break” one minute stretches I did with the students have hardwired my muscles with built-in restlessness.

I just counted my current projects. There’s one halfway quilted on the longarm. Two more flimsies waiting their turn to be quilted, ORL in need of binding, the Bible Sampler, a Christmas lap quilt set for my kids, and the Good Fortune make up my grand total of nine. And I’ve just bought a pattern, “Shimmer”, and have begun pulling scraps and printing foundation papers.

I also realized that I work on the different quilts in an organized fashion. I ran my classroom in small groups, “centers”, so it’s no surprise that I set up my sewing room the same way. I have something ready to play with for every step of the quilting process. What mood am I in? The longarm quilt is waiting. The quilt in need of binding is folded in front of the TV. Fussy paper pieced blocks are stacked on a tea tray. The Good Fortune and Christmas quilts are waiting in their baskets to go out with me when I’m sewing with friends.

The friends have commented on my Jack-in-the-box style of sewing. I’m jumping up to press blocks and lay them out instead of plowing through the chain-piecing start to finish. I wonder if I can blame “lack of delaying gratification” on this retired teacher theory?

27. Army Star

Sampler quilts are great because the blocks don’t repeat. There’s no chance of boredom with the Bible Sampler quilt because each new block brings not only a new design, but a new passage of scripture to think on while planning out the fabric choices. See the star pattern on the gold fabric? I decided to be intentional with the direction of each piece. Each star being a soldier, marching in a unit. Each unit moving outward in formation. I see now one unit is (accidentally) counter-marched. That’s my F Troop. But it’s okay because the whole block came out looking much more disorganized than I had envisioned anyways. Its busi-ness looks like it’s bordering on chaos with the marching stars and arrows pointing every which way.

. . . Which coincides perfectly with the Bible passage we are covering today. Clever segue into Exodus chapter 14: God will soon part the Red Sea to help the Israelites escape the pursuit of the Egyptian army. Being the considerate Father that He is, He lets Moses know ahead of time that it’s all going to go down according to plan. Also ahead of time, God confuses the Egyptians as they approach the dry land under the Red Sea. He causes the wheels of their chariots to swerve, and the hand-picked best of the best soldiers are careening about in chaos. And then we know how it ends for them.

Now that I consider this passage of scripture, I see that the Army Star block has order within the chaos. The arrows are all pointing to the Star in the middle of it all. The bright Morningstar. I choose to let this remind me that God is the eye of the storm, the calm presence in the midst of the battle. Everything is under control.

As a former teacher, my brain recalls songs and/or children’s books as I go about the day. The “Army” reference brought to mind this old song. Do you remember it? Do you remember the motions that went along with it?

I may never march in the infantry,

Ride in the cavalry

Shoot the artillery

I may never fly over the enemy,

But I’m in the Lord’s army.

(Chorus)

And the children’s book? Rosie’s Walk by Pat Hutchins:

A chicken, Rosie, decides to go for a stroll around the sunny farmyard. Unbeknownst to her, a sneaky fox is stalking right behind her and looking for his opportunity to pounce. Instead, he falls into one disaster after another as she calmly strolls along and eventually returns to her coop. Meanwhile, the fox is fleeing a swarm of angry bees so you know he won’t be pursuing Rosie ever again.

I think of our lives as His children playing out in a similar fashion. Ephesians 6:12 says “Our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

The enemy is always lurking as we go about our business. We are oblivious to the battles God’s army is winning on our behalf as we are kept in His eye, the Eye of the Storm.

26. Talkin’ ‘Bout My Generation

The next Bible passage has God talking with Moses. That right there is really something. God is reminding Moses of his heritage. Because of His covenant to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Moses will be given the promised land. It is his heritage.

The word “heritage” means legacy and tradition.

Heritage Block:

I noticed something when I was at Road to California: Observing the demographic, you might say. I found the majority of quilt show goers to be around my same age. This caused me to form a theory: Us baby boomers were destined to carry on the quilting tradition. Born in the fifties, we lived in homes that had sewing machines in them. Sewing machines in tidy cabinets in the family room with all the tools kept organized in the little drawers. Our mothers used them. We wore homemade dresses and shorts and flannel nightgowns.

We took home economics classes and sewed in junior high school.

Then high school coincided with the back to the land movement. It was cool to be a maker. It was still cheaper to sew your own clothing than to buy it in the stores. The coolest clothes couldn’t be found at the mall. The stores were selling double-knit polyester outfits in garish colors. We made our own peasant blouses out of muslin, and embroidered the bodices. The granny dress was “in” and we all made one. Or more.

I was chatting with a friend about this. She said her usual high school weekend routine was: Pick out the fabric and pattern Friday after school, sew it up all weekend, wear the new outfit on Monday. I remember another friend I had in high school who challenged herself to make enough dresses to wear a different one every day of the school week for two weeks. (We had dress codes back then – dresses only, slacks on Fridays). She did it!

Then the Bicentennial brought a quilt revival. How easy quiltmaking was after a past of sewing lined jackets with buttonholes and pockets. It was like child’s play in comparison.

I’m thankful I was given the sewer’s heritage. I wish I had been more purposeful to pass it on to my daughters. They had sewing sessions with their beloved grandma, but no formal instruction.

25. Brick Pile

Chapter 5 of Exodus has the Egyptians scaling back on the raw material supply for the brickmaking Hebrew slaves, but demanding the same daily quota. Now the slaves have to gather the straw themselves to make the bricks.

Pharoah does this to make sure they don’t have any leisure time. If they’re kept busy, they won’t have any energy left to plan an uprising.

Kind of like when your mom said “Stop yer cryin’ or I’ll give you something to cry about”.

Did your mom say that? I had a nice mom, and she said that a lot. And she never did give us kids something to cry about.

We learned early on to keep complaints to ourselves. Remember how long those summer months were? By August we were restless and bored. But if mom noticed our idleness and sighing, she’d quickly give us something to do. It usually involved cleaning and scrubbing,

Back to Moses. He’s just doing what God asks him to do: requesting three days off in order to travel and give a sacrifice to God. Talk about shooting the messenger. He gets it from both sides. Pharoah is infuriated. The Israelites are angry with him too. Why was Moses stirring the pot and causing them all this extra work?

We know it’s going to get a lot worse for everybody before it gets any better. The Hebrews suffer right along with their Egyptian neighbors with the first three of the ten plagues.

But we also know that God planned it all. He knew what it would take to get His stubborn children to leave Egypt for God-knows-where (literally). He knew what it would take for hard-headed Pharoah to let them go.

This is strangely comforting. If we feel that things aren’t going forward in life, we are in good company. Well, maybe I should say stubborn and hard-headed company.

Brick Pile

24. Bright Jewels

The next quilt block is a nod to the next chapter in Exodus, chapter three. We’ve fast forwarded eighty years to give Moses time to grow up. Now God reveals His plan to deliver His people from their bonds of slavery. The Hebrew women have an important part of the plan. Their job is to go to their Egyptian neighbors and ask for their clothing, their gold, silver, and jewels.

Right? The Egyptians are just going to smile and hand over their wealth to the slaves?

That’s right. God’s plan includes making sure the Israelites are well-equipped so they can negotiate their way through the Canaan lands, and eventually furnish the Tabernacle.

God’s will, done God’s way, will not lack God’s supply.

And this plan was definitely carried out God’s way. He brought the ten awful plagues upon the Egyptians. Each grew worse than the one before it, until Pharoah finally gave the Hebrew slaves their freedom to leave Egypt.

Those Egyptian citizens must’ve been so relieved that their fearless leader finally caved. Because of his stubbornness, they suffered through fiery hail, infestations of lice and frogs and locusts, boils, bloody water, darkness, and even death. If I was an Egyptian, you bet I’d give my Hebrew neighbors whatever they wanted just to get rid of them. I would have been terrified of them and the power they, or rather, their God had over my Egyptian gods.

The Hebrews walked away from slavery in Egypt with their heads held high, and their arms laden with fine clothing and bright jewelry.

Bright Jewels

I’m laughing at myself today. Maybe you’ve noticed by now that Y-seams aren’t my favorite. I know, this block doesn’t have any but bear with me here. I was a bit perplexed and honestly, annoyed that the assembly instructions on the paper piecing printouts would say “Assemble per paper piecing instructions”. Huh? So I’d go to YouTube and search and watch and then there’d be a new block with curves and I’d do this again.

Well I found something today when I opened the CD included with the book. Yes, a PDF file of paper piecing instructions. The instructions are crystal clear and now I’m good. Why now after 25 blocks?

I know exactly why.

Have I mentioned before that I’m a newly retired teacher? We teachers have a common strength – winging it. We love to reinvent wheels to suit our unique clientele. Experience has taught us that the best laid plans can go topsy turvy when put to action. We anticipate unexpected glitches in the lesson plans with relish. We can turn on a dime and harness the synergy created by all those students in the room to come out with amazing learning experiences. It’s what we do.

I approach quilting the same way. I find it exciting to figure things out as I go along. It’s like being on a roller coaster ride of hit and miss. (I love roller coasters.) My first quilts were happenstances as I played with string pieces. I built a stash of scraps and made project decisions based on what I had. It’s fun to pull something together out of seemingly nothing. The prospect of buying a pattern and the fabric required up front still sounds boringly predictable. Where’s the thrill in that? No thank you.

So it should come as no surprise that I jumped in the lake of the Bible Sampler Quilt without carefully looking at all the resources included on the CD. I just went straight to the paper piecing file, printed out the blocks, pulled scraps, revved up my Janome, and off I chugged.

I’m reading the Bible and sewing a few blocks ahead of the blog, so I know there are many more Y-seams and curves in my future. Bring it on.

Road to California

That phrase always triggers a scene from Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath. The multigenerational Joad family is piling into the rickety jalopy, and it’s Rose of Sharon’s face I recall. Don’t you love that name? They pronounced it “Rosasharn” in the movie, so it was years before I read the book and saw that beautiful name in print.

So I went to the quilt show this past weekend. It was awesome.

And crowded.

There were young people

Vintage people

Prize winners

Amazing Biblical quilts

And free motion quilting

Designers

Birthday Girls (Happy Birthday Edyta Sitar)

And my favorite – Authors!

I hadn’t looked at a program or been to a large show before, so I was pleasantly surprised to meet Quilt celebrities.

Quilters are so kind.

Patience Griffin was so generous with her To Scotland With Love novel, first in a long series that are in my reading future.

Arlene Sachitano and I chatted about Puget Sound, the setting for her cosy mystery collection. I so appreciate her “cosy” approach to writing. I don’t need graphic yuckiness in stories to make them exciting.

And Marie Bostwick hugged me! Do you know she completed a triathlon?

I admire people who can sit down at a keyboard and make a real thing out of alphabet letters. They pull it out of their insides, their brains and their souls. They spill their guts to the world, and then market themselves in order to be exposed to more people.

Yikes.

You may have noticed that my photos in this post expose me. I intended to stay anonymous on this blog, so it’s a huge leap for me. I think I decided to show myself because I was inspired by all the friendly people at the show. I got permission to snap photos at every booth or display. I took pictures of the authors and designers by themselves, but they insisted I get in a picture too. I told you they were so kind.

Especially this guy.

My husband thinks he’s a real cut-up.