Killing Time

I live near the edge of our continent with easy access to destination beaches, yet I don’t access them. Instead, I prioritize “work” obligations, and I’m retired! A career in education trained me to move at an intense pace, and I brought that into my retirement. I know that the self-inflicted To Do list will never end, yet I let it commandeer my days any way.

But today, my obligation was to be the driver for a surgical procedure recipient, so I had to kill time in La Jolla while I waited. I spent it strolling on the beach, and besides breathing, and thinking, I picked up sea glass.

I love this color pallette

My thoughts were mostly about my dear mother. It’s her 87th birthday today, and this beautiful, strong, once vibrant woman is spending her days in an assisted living home with severe dementia. I cannot visit her because of COVID-19, and I find comfort in the fact that she wouldn’t know me, or even know that she was being visited for that matter.

I will remember my mom today, for her, because she can’t. She was number 12 of 13 children, born in the pit of the Depression. Earning a scholarship to college, she became a teacher, the first in her family. Her sisters became nurses, a librarian, and office workers. She taught on and off while having us five kids, then started the Project Headstart Program with a good friend when we were still young. I was entering junior high when she returned to full time teaching, and I marveled at how she seemed to “do it all” with energy to spare. Meals were on the table every night at six. Us kids pursued sports, dance, music, scouts, whatever we were interested in, and she and dad kept a weekly date night. We camped on the weekends in the desert or the mountains, depending on the season. We travelled back and forth, up and down, all across our beautiful continent in the summers.

She had a very large circle of friends and a busy social calendar. Everyone thought of her as kind, enthusiastic, and caring. I miss her so much.

Maybe because she was a teacher, she managed our family time with such efficiency, and we knew it was certainly not a thing to be wasted. She wasn’t one to sit still. When we got older, we would gently chide her because she’d jump up from a family dinner and start clearing while some of us were still enjoying our last bite. After all, there was a time for relaxed conversations and savoring the moment. But she had moved on to the next thing mentally, and there was no slowing her down.

All that to explain why it’s so hard now that she’s not only slowed down, but screeched to a halt, spending day after day sitting in a chair. Killing time.

I don’t know how to wrap this up in a cheerful way. So I’ll just say, even in these crazy times we are living in, time is still precious. I need to stop thinking that my real and normal life will resume after all of this is over, and that until then, I just have to endure in a kind of holding pattern. As they say, this life isn’t a dress rehearsal. I’ll choose to embrace every moment and give God thanks for this time.

June Gloom

Is this a term you’re familiar with? I don’t know if it’s regional or not. Where I live, we describe the weather this way. “May Gray” is followed by “June Gloom”. The marine layer keeps the coast covered in a cool fog until the sun can burn it off in July and August.

So today I’ll enjoy the last day of June, gloomy as it is, and share my UFO finish for the OMG challenge.

https://www.elmstreetquilts.com/2020/06/one-monthly-goal-june-finish-link-up.html

All Stacked Up

(They say photos show up better when there’s cloud cover.) This quilt has been an anti-gloom project: bright, colorful, happy. It was a great choice for the month. This whole OMG challenge has forced me forward in a good way. I love to acquire fabrics and plan projects. I love to piece the blocks. The one part I do not love is the actual quilting of them to bring them to the finish line. I don’t think my skills are there yet to do them justice. But the meander and I got along just fine:

Even on the dark blocks where it actually showed. Thanks for humoring me, it’s a big step.

Still Here

Hello my friends. I am still keeping on, I just haven’t posted in awhile. It’s partly due to the fact that it has been the month of June, and therefore absolutely gorgeous outside. And it’s partly due to the fact that I wasn’t sure I could KMMS.

I feel like my husband and I came up with “KMMS” ourselves, but it’s more likely a common abbreviation. But just in case, it means “Keep My Mouth Shut”.

I have very strong, and I believe, solid opinions about both religion and politics, just like everyone else does. And as everyone else knows, those are the verboten subjects when in social settings. And socially, those very things are swiftly changing right before our astonished eyes. And whether our society is changing for better or for worse is the fodder for opinionated and heated debates. I get to choose whether or not to engage in heated debates here on this blog. So unless it’s about prewashing fabric, or knitting vs. crochet, I’ll choose to KMMS.

Thank goodness we have other things to talk about. Let’s converse in a polite setting, shall we? First, a welcome to my new subscribers! I’m glad you found me and I would love to hear your comments about the Bible, about quilts, or about whatever. I’m also so very appreciative of my older subscribers, too. It’s been over a year now, and I wouldn’t have believed when I started that I’d get this comfortable with this whole thing. I have you to thank because your kind comments built confidence and gave encouragement.

Next, I watched as my grown kids honored their dad on Father’s Day last Sunday. They really blessed our hearts. Our daughter decided we could all enjoy doing a puzzle together so she dumped this box out on to the coffee table. Now, we weren’t the kind of family that assembled 1000 piece puzzles when they were growing up, so this was a novel experience. Some of us found it to be relaxing, others, stressful. We all agreed that if you first looked at the picture, you could connect the pieces more easily.

Last, I’ve pieced another border block for the Bible Sampler Quilt as I read my way through the book of Zechariah.

Speaking of puzzles: I always wonder what the people were thinking back in that day when they heard the puzzling messages from God coming out of the mouths of the prophets. I’d imagine myself standing with the crowd in my scratchy tunic, listening under a bright sun. I’d be hanging towards the back, trying to hide my astonishment. The sweaty hairs would tickle on the back of my neck. My heart would drop to my feet every time he’d describe what terrible events would happen because we had stirred up the anger of the Lord. My head would spin trying to keep his references to fiery cedars, dry rivers, scepters of Egypt, and so on straight in my mind.

The crowd would quietly disperse, and I’d ruminate over the message all afternoon. Maybe there would be some discussion at the dinner table within the safety of food and family. We’d try to make sense of the words and fit them into the context of our lives, of our future.

Nowadays, we have the luxury of the perfect and complete word of God all written down in the Bible. We can enjoy putting the pieces of the puzzling prophesies together because we are able to refer to the whole picture.

I’m going to connect a passage in Zechariah with a New Testament one:

Zechariah 11:13 – Then the LORD said to me, “Throw it to the potter, that magnificent price at which I was valued by them.” So I took the thirty shekels of silver and threw them to the potter in the house of the LORD.”

Matthew 27:3-10 – Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned, he felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders. . .and he threw the pieces of silver into the sanctuary and departed, and he went away and hanged himself. And the chief priests took the pieces of silver and said, “It is not lawful to put them into the temple treasury, since it is the price of blood.” And they counseled together and with the money bought the Potter’s Field as a burial place for strangers.”

Isn’t that astonishing? The connection is so specific, and those passages were written how many years apart from each other?

I am so glad that I am plugging away at this Bible project during this time that will make it into the history books in a big way. In the middle of 2020, I am reminded that God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. He’s got this covered, and everything is going to be okay.

Snowflake Babies

(Have you already seen this post? I could have sworn I hit the “publish now” button way back in March. But there it was today, sitting in the Drafts folder. So to be safe, here it is again. And if I’m wrong, and you’re seeing this for the first time, you’ll understand now why I’m out of order with the books of the Bible.)

Warning: this post will overuse the descriptor “amazing”. Readers will proceed at their own risk, for I cannot and will not apologize.

I’ve finished reading the book of Jeremiah! Have you ever heard the term, “simple gospel?” The more I read it, I’m coming to this conclusion: the gospel is anything but. When God makes plans and stuff, it is with amazing, thoughtful, mind blowing complexity. Although we have come incredibly far in scientific discovery, we’ll never ever plumb the depths of His designs. How much farther do we have yet to go? Answer: To infinity and beyond!

Before I leave Jeremiah, I’d like to share Jeremiah 1:5:

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” This verse reinforces that life begins long before the baby’s birthday. We all know this. And we know that our omniscient God knew us always, for He is the Alpha and the Omega, not constrained by our limitations of time and place.

But look closer; it reveals when life begins for us. This verse says we came into existence before we were formed in the womb. Which is exactly right. Egg and sperm meet in the Fallopian tubes. Our embryo is made there, with all its genetic and cellular material in place. All that little boy or girl (as in, gender already determined) needs from then on is time and nourishment to grow. (Which, by the way, is something we continue to need until the day we die.) We spend our first five or so days of life traveling through the Fallopian tubes before making our soft landing in the cushy lining of the womb. So could Jeremiah 1:5 refer to the time we spent in those Fallopian tubes? The more I read, the more I see that God’s word is perfectly complete, right down to the teensiest details. Isn’t this just absolutely amazing?

Consider the snowflakes of the air. Ephemeral and tiny, they are designed by an eternal and omnipotent Creator. With just the right moisture content, wind speed, and temperature, ice crystals join up and create columns as they fall from the sky. The prismatic columns sparkle, reflecting the light. How is this not amazing? Just think of how we meticulously labor for hours using special tools to cut minerals into mathematically formulated facets to achieve the same thing with our diamonds and jewels.

Now I’ve saved the most amazing for last: Have you ever heard of snowflake babies? My friends have written a book I’d like to share with you. A Snowflake Named Hannah is the story of the first adoption of a frozen embryo. It’s being released next month and I’m so excited. I’m usually not the bossy type, but I’m telling you, get it and read it. It’s an amazing story that’s still being written.

https://www.amazon.com/Snowflake-Named-Hannah-Ethics-Adoption/dp/0825425573

To quote Marlene, Hannah’s mom, “With regards to Jer. 1:5: God knows you before you’re in the womb…either in the fallopian tubes or the petri dish”.

Coincidentally, I’ve been working on my snowflake quilt this month. It’s now quilted, and I plan to bury the threads and bind it for my March UFO monthly finish, same month as the release of the book. I find coincidences to sometimes be amazing. P.S. I know these blocks aren’t technically snowflakes. Snowflakes are always formed in thirds, with the typical six branches instead of eight. This was a free pattern of Jenny Doan’s called “Big Star”. You can watch her tutorial on her Missouri Star Quilt Company YouTube channel.

Time Flies

. . .when the nation is in mayhem.

I had every good intention of posting my May OMG finish on the Elm Street Quilts UFO challenge site, but I lost a day on the calendar.

https://cutswithscissorshome.files.wordpress.com/2020/06/b42ef-omg2b20182bblog2blogo2bjune.jpg

So here I am, a day late and a link-up party short. Would you indulge me now? I had some initial trepidation about throwing this goal out there, since I always approach the quilting part of quilting with a bit of apprehension. So this finish felt like more of an achievement than my previous months choices.

My goal was to load this top and get it quilted. Not only did I get it quilted, it’s already trimmed up and bound as well. Ta Dah!
Here’s the back. I just did a simple pantograph, it was pretty dense for me.

Thank you. Now I will tell you why I lost a day on my calendar. Yesterday the quiet, nondescript old town of my childhood, La Mesa, was one of many that endured destructive rioting. Triggered by the horrible death of George Floyd, it was a horrible opportunity for horrible people to wreak havoc. I couldn’t watch, or even check in with the breaking news. I kept busy, gardening in the beautiful outside, untethered from technology. Besides the gardening chores, my husband and I laid a brick walkway. It was a good thing to do, just thinking about brick fitting next to brick, row by row. Time flew.

And being the good citizens of La Mesa that they are, neighbors showed up this morning with their brooms and spray paints, and had the streets cleaned up by noon.

Time marches on.

So I don’t miss the OMG challenge for June, I’ll post it now:

https://www.elmstreetquilts.com/2020/05/one-monthly-goal-june-link-up.html

Next up, I want to get another top quilted. I’m choosing an eye popping one this time:

All Stacked Up

Zechariah

How’s it going with you? I bumped into my froggy friend this morning, chilling in the bird fountain.

He’s got to be the same guy, he seems to enjoy my company.

Just when I was beginning to feel comfortable poking along in the Minor Prophets, here comes the book of Zechariah.

It begins with anger, and angels, and then moves to horns and horses, and chariots, then adds lamp stands and flying scrolls. The number seven is also in play quite a lot, as in, how many eyes are in a stone.

I am out of my league, friends. I got nothing.

I’ve no doubt these weird visions given to Zechariah have the most amazing, profound connections to mind-blowing truths. I’ll choose to shelve them until I have more time, like when I’m spending eternity in Heaven. We will see more clearly then, so it’ll all be much easier to understand. For now, born into Adamic sin, my “fallen” brain is working at a fraction of its capacity. For now, I’ll go through the mental exercise of reading through the scriptures, and that is time not wasted.

I do have an AHA to share: This passage, from chapter 9 verse 9 got through even my thick head and caused me to smile:

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you: He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

Are you thinking what I’m thinking? I get it! Jesus entered Jerusalem on the back of a donkey, am I right? And furthermore, people were rejoicing and shouting on that first Palm Sunday.

There it is. How in the world does God do that? Oh, right, He is not of this world. There are so very many prophesies given before the birth of Christ ABOUT the Christ. My feeble brain only catches the extremely obvious ones. Who knew reading Zechariah could be so exciting?

And here it is: another border block for the Bible Sampler Quilt.

Circle of Life

Shelter in Place, Day 58. Another book of the Bible read, another border block pieced:

After reading through book after book of doom and gloom, the next book in my Bible read-through, Haggai, was a welcome relief. Just as all those previous prophets foretold, the kingdoms of Israel were indeed destroyed. And sure enough, a remnant of God’s chosen people have returned to live in Judah. Haggai’s message was to get busy rebuilding the temple so God’s presence could come home. I think he got pushback, and I can’t blame them. They’d been working so very hard, building new lives from scratch. To take the time and expense to build the temple was not high on their list of priorities. In a nutshell, Haggai’s reply was, “God’s will, done God’s way, will never lack God’s supply.” (This was a quote I heard many years ago, it’s a good one.)

In my previous post, I said that there was enough variety around my home to keep me from feeling like I’m trapped in a Groundhog’s Day movie. Some examples:

This guy was hanging out on my wall. He is huge, and those antennae are totally boss. He’s a silk moth of some variety. Now in the final stage of his life; he has emerged from his silken cocoon with no mouth parts. But he has no interest in food. It’s all about the pheremones, baby. Those antennae will help him find a mate so the next generation can be produced. Circle of life.

Every year, frogs lay eggs on in our pool when it sits dormant in cooler weather. Every Spring, we rescue those eggs and raise the cutest little polliwogs. Then we have these delightful visitors all year round.

Those crazy eyeballs swirl and move.
My husband didn’t mind this little guy hanging out in his sink

I’ll share my morning events:

My day begins with a cup of coffee, after which I go outside to garden for awhile. Today I started with picking fruit. I filled my hands with the first ripe blackberries of the season. I was delighted. Then I filled a bucket with nasturtium flowers for our lunchtime salad, and I’m going to attempt a pesto sauce as well. Delightful.

Then I moved to a shady spot, and began hacking away at and pulling out a giant plumbago plant that has taken over the fence line. I was delighted to see several noisy little finches flitting all around me while I worked. Then it dawned on me; they’re probably protecting their nests. So I backed off and moved to another section. Then I saw it. A weasel, so cute and playful, moving in and out of that plumosa. Then I realized it was after the nests. The finches were besides themselves. I was horrified. I picked up a few oranges from under a tree and threw them into the dense growth, but I doubt if it helped.

The circle of life can be such a bummer sometimes.

Same Old

I’ve finished reading Zephaniah, the next book of the Minor Prophets. And here’s another border block to go along with my Bible Sampler Quilt project.

I’ve heard this quarantine situation described as being in a Coronavirus version of the Groundhog’s Day movie. I don’t feel that way myself. I can fill my days with enough variety to keep things interesting. I could be the poster child for the introverted personality. But things are stacking up that are starting to wear on me.

Zephaniah shared the same old message as the seven previous books of the Minor Prophets, which is basically this: Because the children of Israel have strayed far from their faith, the punishing judgment from their righteous God is at hand. Zephaniah in particular uses the term “The Day of the Lord” a lot. As in, the day when the whole earth will be devoured by His burning anger. This after three solid chapters describing the doom and gloom in great detail. Yikes is right.

It’s a bit like the Groundhog’s Day I referenced: reading book after book of the same depressing message of angry destruction, at the same time that the media fills the airwaves with doom and gloom. And I have to agree that the world as we knew it has turned topsy turvy with no end in sight.

I googled the name “Zephaniah” out of curiosity. That’s not a name that’s making the top ten on the baby boy list. I learned that it means “Yahweh hides”. What a coincidence. We are all currently hiding from each other. We hide behind our doors, behind flimsy cloth face masks in pursuit of protection. Even that groundhog hid from his own shadow. And this is the thing that’s wearing on me: the steady drip of fear.

But then God does it again, He shows His gospel hope. Right at the end of the book, Zephaniah reports that God will leave a remnant; a humble and lowly people who will take refuge in the name of the Lord. Their restoration will be such that they shout for joy in triumph, rejoicing exultantly with all their hearts.

I’ll take my cue from these words. Take note: God means business. He’s not messing around regarding life and death. Proverbs reminds me that it is the fear of the Lord that is the beginning of wisdom. You surely don’t want to be on God’s bad side. But being born into sin; we’re all on His bad side.

He has a remedy. Like Moses, God allows me to tuck into the cleft of the rock so that I am safe from His awesome and terrible power. The rock is His Son. Hidden in Christ is where I receive refuge, as well as all the protection and provision I need.

So we can do this. We can get through the day after day doom and gloom. God’s got it covered.

“Staying Safe”

I’m still here, staying home, still sheltering in place, still sewing face masks, and finishing border blocks for the Bible Sampler Quilt project.

“Stay safe out there everybody”. I’ve heard this phrase a lot lately. Newscasters end their reports this way, friends add this to parting farewells. I suppose it’s meant to be a positive tag line, so I feel like a chump here when I ask, “How in the world am I supposed to “Stay safe”? We’re in the middle of a global pandemic. I live in earthquake country, and as if killer bees aren’t scary enough, the Murder Hornets have just arrived on my continent. And who are we kidding? We could die in our sleep tonight.” Life isn’t safe.

This well-meant phrase reminds me of another, equally well-meant: “Sending positive thoughts your way”. Yes, I’m glad you’re thinking of me during my difficulty, which brings comfort. But if I’m in great need, I’d want to be tapped into a greater power than a thought. Again, I feel like a bit of a chump when I ask, is this the best we can do?

I’ve finished reading the next book of the Bible, Habakkuk. This well-known phrase popped from the print in chapter 2, verse 4: “The just will live by faith”. I know it’s repeated in other places in the Bible, and I’ll be reading it again in the New Testament. But you heard it here first, folks.

Who exactly are the “just”? And how will they live “by faith”? This familiar phrase can seem vague, and can easily be misunderstood.

I learned in junior high confirmation class that “justified” means “just as if I’d” never sinned. So . . . the “just” are perfect, sinless people?

That’s impossible.

Exactly. The “just” are regular, sinful people. The only difference is, they put their faith in Jesus Christ. And faith comes by believing. They believe in the knowledge that Jesus Christ took it all, the sins of humanity, upon Himself to the cross and died with them. It was my sin, and yours, that put Him there. When He rose again, He overcame sin, death, and the power of the devil. When we give up any pretense regarding our ability to control our own safety, and put our faith in Him, we are born again; cleansed by the sacrificial blood He shed for us. Therefore it is “just as if we’d” never sinned. So you see how the only way “the just” can possibly live at all is “by faith”.

So we can do better than saying “Stay safe” to each other. We can share the faith we live by: The good news of the gospel. It won’t guarantee safety from COVID19, even better, it provides the ultimate safety: Being hidden in Christ, under the shadow of His wings. For eternity.

So, instead of saying “Stay safe”, I would take a cue from the early Christian church. Talk about living in dangerous times. While they were washing their hands without indoor plumbing, and trying to avoid diseases without modern medicine, they were being hunted down and brutally killed by the Romans. Yet they were known by how they loved one another and how they lived in faithful joy.

Those first Christians would probably chuckle and give an eye roll if they were told to “Stay safe out there”. They knew better. They would greet each other with a kiss and say “Christ’s peace”. Farewells would include the word “Maranatha”, Lord come soon.

May the peace of the Lord reign in your hearts and minds.

Maranatha.

Buds of May

The gardens are bursting wherever I look. Pardon my photography, I’m too lazy to wipe down or trim up the scene before shooting. And this is supposed to be funny, mimicking the beautiful photos of quilts thrown over fence posts in tranquil settings to show a finish. Well, here’s another block finished for the Bible Sampler quilt any ways. I’ve finished reading the book of Nahum. Like the book of Jonah, it also warns Nineveh of future judgement and destruction. But unlike Jonah, the Ninevites don’t respond with repentance this time. They had “progressed” since those days of Jonah. Their city was an imposing fortress, and their people were known for their cruel strength. But all progress doesn’t move forward. Their hubris pushed the Creator, the God who saves, out of the picture. There’s a lot of talk about lions, and lion dens. This threw me at first, but then I remembered what I saw in the British Museum last Fall. https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/galleries/assyria-lion-hunts

Fascinating. Who hunts lions? Hubris. Was this analogy to lions in Nahum’s prophecy a taunt? It was certainly ironic. Nineveh, mighty Nineveh would fall to the Babylonians, never to rise again.

My OMG for the month of May:

https://www.elmstreetquilts.com/2020/05/one-monthly-goal-may-link-up.html

The next UFO I’ve chosen to finish is to get this top loaded on the quilting frame and quilted.

I may be displaying some hubris here myself. I’m spending lots of time outside in this gorgeous May weather, and not a lot of time in the sewing room. There’s lots of necessary gardening chores going on, and I’ve challenged myself to take a long walk or bike ride every day in May. But I felt like a bit of a cheater when I chose small, achievable UFOs in months past. It feels great to have those done, but this OMG is supposed to be a challenge. So I’m really going to challenge myself in May. What do I have to lose?