61. Nailed It

Pine Tree Quilt

I can’t say that I “nailed it” with this block. The colors are greener than this photo shows, in case you were puzzled by my fabric choices. Keep in mind that I’m pulling from my stash only. With the goal of using it up, I’m starting with the smallest scraps when planning the blocks, and I have to say it is gratifying to watch the pile shrink, while leaving me with larger pieces.

The book of Isaiah definitely nailed it. Isaiah faithfully delivered so many prophesies that absolutely happened. Now that we can look back through the lens of history, we can see how his words were fulfilled each and every time. He told how the Israelites would come back to their deserted land and it would once again flourish and grow fruit for the world. Hello 1948 and Jaffa oranges. In this passage, he told of the reforestation of Israel. Nailed it. Isaiah 55 plainly tells of the life and death of a savior, God’s promised fulfillment of His covenant to His chosen people. Hello, Jesus Christ, Son of God.

Jesus nailed it. He took it with Him upon the cross: the sin and subsequent death that was our destiny. It’s all there to see in Isaiah.

There’s a lot of excitement lately around the book of Isaiah in Christian circles. I have attended Bible studies where they’re studying, well, not the Bible, but books like “the Oracle” and “The Harbinger”. While it’s exciting to match the prophesies in Isaiah with current events, I wish to throw in a word of caution. There’s a lot of noise about revival, which is good, but I fear we may miss it. Just as the Jews were waiting and watching for an earthly king, we may miss our Messiah.

On the cross, Jesus uttered these final words as He gave up His Spirit, “Tetelestai”. Translation: “It is finished”. As in – Completed. Done. All the prophesies, all the promises, done. Are you interested? I can’t say it any better than this passage from Columbia University’s web blog:

“What makes this exclamation truly unique is the Greek tense that Jesus used. (Verb tenses are the most important and most communicative part of the Greek language.3 This also is sometimes necessarily lost in translation.) Jesus speaks in the perfect tense, which is very rare in the New Testament and has no English equivalent.4 The perfect tense is a combination of two Greek tenses: the Present tense, and the Aorist tense. The Aorist tense is punctiliar: meaning something that happens at a specific point in time; a moment. The Present tense is linear: meaning something that continues on into the future and has ongoing results/implications. 

The combination of these two tenses in the perfect tense as used in John 19:30 is of overwhelming significance to the Christian. When Jesus says “It is finished” (or completed) what he is actually saying is “It is finished and will continue to be finished”. 

The first element of the perfect tense: the Aorist, punctiliar, point in time statement “It is finished” is powerful. Mathew Henry captures all that is finished at that exact moment: “It is finished; that is, the counsels of the Father concerning his sufferings were now fulfilled. It is finished; all the types and prophecies of the Old Testament, which pointed at the sufferings of the Messiah, were accomplished. It is finished; the ceremonial law is abolished; the substance is now come, and all the shadows are done away. It is finished; an end is made of transgression by bringing in an everlasting righteousness. His sufferings were now finished, both those of his soul, and those of his body. It is finished; the work of man’s redemption and salvation is now completed.” This is overwhelming in and of itself. 

But there’s more! The Aorist tense is only half of the perfect tense! The second element of Jesus’ statement is the equally important: the Present, ongoing, linear “and will continue to be finished” component of the perfect tense. This indicates the ongoing nature of our salvation. This is so important because it indicates a condition, a state of being, a resting place. 

In conclusion, in Jesus’ statement “It is finished” we have a declaration of salvation that is both momentary and eternal, Aorist and Present, linear and punctiliar. We are saved at a specific point in time, “it is finished”, our debt is paid, we are ransomed from the kingdom of darkness, and then we confidently rest in the reality that “it will continue to be finished” because we are in a position of grace and stand justified for all time before God. One Greek word, tetelestai, spoken in the perfect tense, by Jesus on the cross, and it was finished at that moment, and for all time.

So, my response? Stop looking outside of myself for a revival, (although I must admit that politics have been highly entertaining as of late, what with impeachment hearings and all. And how about that Golan Heights reverting back to Israel?)

Tetelestai means that we live as citizens of two kingdoms. We simultaneously dwell here on earth, as well as in the kingdom of Heaven. Jesus has sent us His Comforter, the Holy Spirit, Who has already revived our hearts, minds, and spirits. Revival has already come. So, to nail it down, how do we proceed to live in two kingdoms?

Martin Luther said, “Even if I knew the world would end tomorrow, I would continue to plant my apple trees.”

Well done, Israelites, for planting your pines, myrtles, cedar, and olive trees. Shalom.

Nice

WordPress sent me a congratulatory message for my one year blogiversary. How nice! This blog was a gift from my husband. He has watched me keep to myself, keep my head down, keep to the middles of the crowds all of my life. Maybe he was tired of being my sole audience for personal reflections and opinions, but whatever the reason, he wanted my voice heard “beyond”. I want to thank him, and also thank you. Thank you for listening to me, for commenting, and most of all, for being nice. I appreciate you very much.

The Bible Sampler quilt blocks skip all the way from the Song of Solomon to Isaiah 41, so please be patient with me as I read through Isaiah. While you’re waiting, I’ll share what I did earlier this week. I went on a quilt retreat!

I decided to go out of town with my husband, and while he was off doing what he needed to do, I sewed in the hotel room. First, I set up my space and sorted my blocks.

Now please don’t think me pathetic for spending hours sewing alone in a hotel room and calling it a “retreat”. I’ve read blogposts from traveling quilters who do this, and it was something I’ve wanted to treat myself to for a long time. I know myself well enough to know that I won’t go on a REAL quilt retreat. They sound amazing and fun and full of laughter, but they’re expensive. I also know that lots of amazing fun and laughter quickly wears me out. I have always been content to entertain myself, and it really was nice. We don’t watch much TV at home, so I just kept the Turner Classic Movie channel on, which was a treat, and I was in fine company.

I had put together these blocks at home months ago. I chose to bring this UFO because I knew I could make quick progress, which would feel retreat-ish. I also wouldn’t need rulers, rotary cutters, mats, all the things I didn’t want to pack. All I needed to do now was the layout and joining together. I played with arrangements, and texted photos to my friends for their input. After many changes (thanks friends!) assembly happened.

One last seam to go – right down the middle.

I even took an “over the rail” photo for the finish.

There was still time before dinner with my betterhalf; I’m glad I brought my economy blocks which also needed joining.

I’m joining four patches, which will then join up, and so on, until it’s a quilt top.

And the two hour drive to and from our hotel? I tore the paper off the completed Bible Sampler quilt blocks. I may have underestimated the scope of this particular step in the paper piecing process. Yowza! Four solid hours of picking didn’t seem to make a dent.

All in all, it was a productive retreat from start to finish.

60. Sing, Sing a Song

Lattice

Here’s the 59th block out of 96 in the Bible Sampler Quilt. Somehow I messed up with numbering my blogposts. I began this project by numbering the ones that included the blocks. This post should match, and therefore be 59 instead of 60. Oh well, I will choose to take advice from the song, and let it go.

Speaking of songs, it happened to me yet again while reading the Bible. A song, long forgotten, popped into my head and replayed itself with every note and word recalled from the old memory banks. Thank you, memory banks. The song I refer to now is taken from today’s passage of scripture word for word. Isn’t this phrase just perfect?

“Rise up my love, my fair one, and come away”.

It already has the lilting meter and rhythmic cadence built right in.

“For lo, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; and the voice of the turtle dove is heard in our land . . .”

The song could have written itself. And I so appreciate it when composers stick to the scripture word for word. I have been able to memorize much more of the Bible than I would have otherwise; thanks to the people who set scripture to song.

https://youtu.be/XEmTnEyh-0w

And here is that song, thank you You tube. I sang it in a women’s ensemble at my university back in the seventies, so of course my voice is lost to the ages. Actually, I probably have the album or a cassette we recorded in a dusty box in a closet, so yeah, I t is as good as lost to the ages.

I hope you take a moment to give it a listen. Music calms our souls and draws our hearts, in this case, to love.

And, as yet another song reminds us, all you need is love.

59. A Rose by Any Other Name

Rosebud Patchwork

I really like this block because it’s so bright and fresh. I could see myself making an entire quilt of these blocks, except for one thing. The stem connects to the leaves and the flower with Y seams. You know how I feel about Y seams.

“I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys” (verse 1). This name has always intrigued me. Didn’t we all read The Grapes of Wrath for high school English class? That book was the first exposure I had to names composed of more than one word. My classmates were mostly called Kathy, Debbie, Cindy, Linda, and Steve, Mike, Bob, and Bill. I kid you not. Girls mostly got two syllables and boys made do with only one. Anyways, when we completed the book, we got to watch the movie. I looked forward to hearing the Joads say their daughter’s exquisite name out loud. I took comfort in the fact that this poor girl, enduring such a hard scrabble life, at least was blessed with a beautiful name. I was shocked and disappointed to hear “Rosasharn” come out of their mouths instead. Oh well. It happened to me again with Jane Eyre. I recently reread this classic via audiobook. Who would guess that Sanjin was really “Saint John”?

I live in Southern California. In general, it’s got a lot of advantages. However, it does have its disadvantages as well. Here are a few:

Pros

1. Weather – like Mary Poppins; practically perfect in every way.

2. Culture – access to many progressive, diverse, authentic experiences from many cultures

3. Gardening – you can grow foods and flowers all year round.

Cons

1. Weather – you don’t get a break, like a snow day, a reason to rest, stay inside, and relax guilt-free.

2. Culture – sometimes living in a progressive environment isn’t my kind of progress.

3. Gardening – You cannot grow Rose of Sharon bushes.

This last con is a bummer. I first saw Rose of Sharon bushes at my uncle’s house in Indiana. He sent me home with an envelope full of seeds that we gathered from the flowers. I was so excited to bring a special connection of faraway family back with me to my own yard. As a scrappy quilter, it’s no surprise that I’m a scrappy gardener too. I call my spaces my friendship gardens, and the majority of them are truly made up of cuttings and seeds from others.

,My pitiful little Rose of Sharon bushes. They have been struggling along, clinging to life in sunny California paradise. I don’t think they’re going to survive the mildest weather zone in the nation.

Come to think of it, we can’t grow lily of the valley around here either. Both flowers the Shulammite bride uses to describe herself are no shrinking violets in the flower kingdom. I suppose they require tougher handling from Mother Nature in order to thrive. There’s probably a metaphor I could point out here, referring to the self-confident and beautiful wife of King Solomon. But quite frankly, I will confess that the songs of Solomon, like inclement weather, make me a tad uncomfortable. Go ahead and consider me a shrinking violet; because when it comes to the Song of Songs, I’ll leave the drawing of the metaphors to you.

58. Fruits of our Labors

Charm block

The last two sentences in Proverbs:

Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.

Like I said in my last post, we own this one, ladies. We are makers, and we do not “eat the bread of idleness” (verse 27). We prefer to keep our hands busy, we can actually focus on others and attend to conversations more easily if we are stitching away at the same time. We were kinesthetic learners in school. Call us anything but idle.

Today I didn’t stitch, but I did do this:Pomegranate jam. Yep. My friend, a sister from another mother, came over and we knocked these out in a few hours. We had picked and juiced my pomegranates last Saturday.

And just in time, because these guys showed up. See those little black dots on the skin of the pom? That’s where they stuck their sharp little proboscises into the seeds and de-juiced them one by one. Sorry guys, party’s over.

57. Owning It

Snowflake

My usual thinking process works like this: I observe someone’s accomplishments, and I remind myself that I am less than. I confess that I struggle to publish these blogposts because of this comparison thing that I’ve got going on. The internet is brimming with brilliance, bigger, better, (what’s another”b” word?) . . . so what in the world am I doing here?

I love making these blocks so much, and it is an incredible experience reading along in the Bible from cover to cover, and I just have to tell somebody. So that’s why I’m here.

I attribute my mindset to a lifetime of peer group conditioning. My elementary school education in my very ordinary neighborhood had a huge role. The school was average (I can say this as an educator myself), but the clientele was exceptional. And living in the stable little neighborhood that we were, I was with this peer group all through junior high and high school, many even through college. I sat next to students who would later become astronauts, mayors, school superintendents, major TV network newscasters, professional musicians, and published authors. Our playgrounds produced professional athletes too. I could continue, but you get the idea. Was it something in the water? We all shared that dribbly drinking fountain that some smart aleck would stop up with a piece of gum. Who knows?

But my point is, I saw greatness up close and personal. For example, I would work on a project, say, my fourth grade Native American tribe report. These were the days when we did all of the work ourselves, during class. There wasn’t such a thing as homework, unless you wanted to practice the spelling list for the Friday test. So I’d research and complete my work, thinking it worthy of an “A” grade. Then when it was time to share our oral reports, one of those kids would get up out of their seat, go to the front of the room, and proceed to just blow me out of the water with the depth and breadth of their presentation. They’d go further into the task with concepts that I wasn’t even aware of, and therefore that would never have occurred to me.

All this to say that I’ve grown up with a healthy understanding of my place in the crowd. I’m not at the bottom of the barrel, and I’m not anywhere near the top. I like keeping my head under the radar, safely sharing the middle space with the rest of the crowd. It’s quite comfortable here.

Well, today, I can say that I own it. At least when it comes to this passage in Proverbs. I’ve spun wool, and knitted warm things for my family. Just let these verses speak for themselves. It doesn’t say that she enters shows and brings home ribbons, so join me. Let’s compare. When it comes to fabric, we’ve got skills. We own this:

“She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle. . . She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet. She makes bed coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple.”

56. Worth

Candleglow

The next three quilt blocks linger on the final chapter in Proverbs, the infamous chapter 31. I say “infamous” because I myself have a history with this chapter. When I was a young mother, I let Solomon’s words beat me up by pointing out my shortcomings. I was on a journey of self-improvement, with four small kids in tow. I was just starting to get established in my role, and only compared myself unfavorably to this impossible proverbs woman. But then the kids rounded me out, chilled me out, and I realized that I was doing all right. All right is A-okay, good enough. Now I love this chapter because it affirms my worth as a wife and as a mother. My price is far above rubies.

See how many of these things you’ve done over the years:

“She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. She is like the merchant’s ships; she bringeth her food from afar. She riseth also while it is still night, and giveth meat to her household and a portion to her maidens . . .”

I bet you’ve done them all. I’m glad our “merchant ships” are now our minivans, and our “maidens” are our appliances. It’s much easier to keep a washer and dryer serviceable than to keep a housemaid happy. It’s actually much easier to be a proverbs woman nowadays.

For all the times Solomon warns his son about the many pitfalls regarding women, this time he describes a virtuous woman in great detail. Smart move on Solomon’s part to balance out his instruction, lest he scare his son off of marriage altogether.