What the World Needs Now . . .

Big Star Quilt from MSQC.
The goal was to bind it and bury threads. Done and Done!

Here’s my March finish for the Elm Street Quilts One Monthly Goal Challenge:

https://www.elmstreetquilts.com/2020/03/one-monthly-goal-march-finish-link-up.html

And what a month it has been. One for the history books. I keep thinking about FDR’s famous wartime words, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”. I’ve always been puzzled by this. I think there are lots of things to fear, especially now in these epic days of March. So many of us lack a safety net, so prolonged periods of unemployment, sickness, isolation, etc. can throw us into a tailspin of anxiety and raw fear.

Maybe some of us are tailspinning right now. My heart goes out to you. I fear for the healthcare workers who are serving our sick and wounded. I fear for the homeless, the elderly, the poor. This wartime quote from across the pond seems more realistic to me than FDR’s: “Keep Calm and Carry On”.

Because, really, what else can you do? When it comes right down to it, we don’t have quite the control of our universe that we maybe thought we had. I’m glad we’ve come so far with scientific progress, but my faith is in God. He gives me the strength to stay calm in this storm.

One final quote from Martin Luther, (who endured a deadly plague), often comes to mind:

Even if I knew certainly the world would end tomorrow, I would plant an apple tree today”.

Let’s keep on keeping on.

Take a minute to watch this. I’m not a fan of Burt Bacharach, but I do agree that what the world needs now is love. God is love. He’s got what we need.

https://youtu.be/QagzdvzzHBQ

Food For Thought

The sun came out this morning, after many days of rain. So I went outside, picked some weeds, and gathered two baskets of dropped fruit.Next, I brought it inside to be washed and juiced. While I worked, I thought about all of the Springs I’ve spent bending over the kitchen sink, processing my citrus fruit. It suddenly dawned on me that citrus ripens in both Fall and Spring, which just happens to coincide with the two flu seasons.

Which then made me think about the theories that fruits and vegetables are shaped like the body parts they are meant to serve. For example, walnuts = brain, celery = bones, and so on. I hadn’t considered that the timing of seasonal fruits and vegetables could work with our bodies as well, ripening and becoming available when they are most needed.

Oranges are great immunity boosters, but a matching body part that needed lots of Vitamin C didn’t come quickly to my mind. Maybe the eyeballs? Nah. Then I thought about the round image of the Coronavirus that we’ve seen all over the internet. Are all viruses shaped like balls? I looked at some google images, and yes, they mostly are.

In today’s press conference, our president said, “It is genius”. He was referring to the virus, how it keeps coming back despite man’s best efforts to get control.

I would say that the Creator of all things is the genius.

I live in California, so we’ve been in “Shelter in Place” mode for awhile now. Besides gardening, I’ve gotten this done:

Another border piece for the Bible Sampler quilt.

And I’ve been reading through the book of Daniel. Do you remember the “Daniel Fast”? I attempted it in the late seventies. The idea was to eat only vegetables and drink only water for ten days, just like Daniel and his fellow Hebrew students did when they refused the rich foods served in King Nebudchadnezzar’s court. I remember getting a sore throat after about the third day, and abandoning the project. Looking back, it was probably due to all the raw carrot sticks I was munching on.

Today, I’ll raise a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice and give thanks. Cheers!

Random Anecdotes of Antidotes in my Dotage

I have my own sewing room, which allows me to keep my messes projects out at all times. So I can snatch bits of time throughout the day to pop in and work on whatever suits my fancy. The minutes here and there spent sewing add up to about an hour, maybe two at the most. All this to say, it took the entire day today of my snatches of time to complete this one triangle:

Another border triangle for my Bible Sampler quilt

I had the dickens of a time trying to expand it to fit my measurements. As I ripped out multiple tries, I thought about my creative flow. I “dote” on one task which requires concentration, then follow up with an “antidote” on another that can be assembled carelessly. For example, these courthouse steps came together in between that one very fiddly paper pieced triangle. These blocks are using up unwanted strips sewn onto telephone book paper. They’re mindless and grow quickly. Fun!

I know the real definition of “dote” is to show extreme fondness and attention to another. I use “dote” as in, “takes all my attention because it’s complicated, and uses more time than it should”. The real definition of “antidote” is a substance that counteracts poison. I use it to mean, a safety valve that prevents burn-out.

All this to say, I realize that I always imbed a safety valve, which is to pace myself, whether the project be in the kitchen, the garden, or the sewing room. I want to enjoy my pasttimes for a long time, so measures must be taken to make sure I don’t wear out the fun factor on any one project.

In the garden, I jump from pulling weeds, to planting seeds, to trimming up and picking vegetation. It may look like I have an attention deficit, but it’s my way of keeping it fresh.

So if you’re struggling in the motivation department, maybe this antidote would work for you too.

Now to complete my wordplay. Where would we be without anecdotes? People love hearing personal testimonies. Biblical accounts originate mostly from anecdotal evidence. As I continue reading the book of Daniel, the stories grower wilder. They tell of him surviving threats of death by execution, only to be thrown into a fiery furnace and survive, only to be dropped into a lion’s den, and so on. These stories cannot be supported by hard historical fact. What’s a believer to think?

Well, that’s where a crucial requirement of personal salvation kicks in: surrender. We can only receive our faith when we take a leap of faith. Leaving our own limited powers behind, we rely instead on the trustworthy power of the Almighty God to give us new life in Him.

I had to memorize and recite Martin Luther’s third article in front of my entire church congregation when I was in eighth grade. It was terrifying at the time, but now I appreciate knowing these words so well:

“I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him: but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith. In the same way He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. In this Christian church He daily and richly forgives all my sins and the sins of all believers. On the Last Day, He will raise me and all the dead, and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ.

This is most certainly true.”

What a relief! It’s not what I do, but what He does, that grows my faith. He sanctifies me by daily forgiving me, not by measuring my own attempts to grow towards holiness.

This reminds me to start with prayer when I crack open the Bible and start reading; Prayer that the Holy Spirit would reveal His truth through His Word as He means it to be understood.

Yesss!

Visualize me doing a mental fist pump. Wait, that would be hard to observe. The reason? This proof of a win, I had enough red scraps to make this block.

Never mind that it looks like a candy cane. Or a barbershop pole. See that little piece on the mat? That’s all I had left. Now that’s what I call using it up.

I’m not sure why I get such a kick out of this. It seems much more fun to quilt this way rather than to plan out and purchase all of the fabric for each project up front. Maybe there’s the thrill of just going for it without measuring ahead, followed by the suspense of not knowing if you have enough until the last piece is sewn. The funny thing about this is that the risk is non-existent. If I had come up short, so what? I would’ve just chucked it and started over with new scraps. After all, I’ve acquired my scraps from second-hand resources, so they’re practically free of cost.

I’m still piecing my border triangles:

They’re slowly but surely adding up.

I came by quilting thinking it was borne of frugality. I grew up reading the hard times stories of Little Women, The Long Winter, and so on. Remember when the March sisters took apart and re-sewed their dresses inside-out to refresh their wardrobes? Now that’s frugal.

I’ve always been intrigued by frugality. I remember a little paperback I bought in the summer of 1969 entitled How To Live On Nothing. I read it while riding in a motor home with four siblings and a dog. Mom and Dad drove us up one coast, across Canada, and down the other coast. We made a 6,000 mile-long rectangular loop through the continent in six weeks. It was the Summer of Love and people were throwing caution to the wind and boldly going where no one had gone before. I wasn’t one of those people, but rather a compliant adolescent who really wanted to understand how to live on nothing. The book gave great “hacks” regarding squatting in abandoned buildings, frying eggs on radiators, foraging for food, and so on. I saw this up close and personal on that trip. People really did have flowers in their hair in San Francisco. Barefoot hitchhikers were everywhere, gathered alongside the highways. I vividly remember being surprised to see all the American young men living on the streets right over the border in British Columbia. Draft dodgers living on nothing.

If I read that book now through my responsible adult citizen lens, I’d probably “tsk tsk” my way through the chapters. There is always a cost to living, whether the person living it incurs the expense, or puts it on others.

Which reminds me of a song:

https://youtu.be/FFqb1I-hiHE

I hope you’ll allow me my trips down my personal memory lanes.

This song, like so many songs of the sixties, alluded to Biblical themes, and evoked deeper interpretations than what the songwriter probably intended. I think it’s just about people leaning on others to do them a favor, and how that can add up to frustration. This song reminds me of a trait of those times. People were exploring, discovering, self-realizing, blah blah blah. But along with those countercultural experiences came consequences, which meant that ultimately somebody had to pay. Those burdens were most often unwittingly carried by their loved ones.

Now to return to the purpose of this blog, I will report that I’m halfway through the book of Daniel. Talk about putting a load on another person; King Nebudchadnezzar does this a lot. Not only does he demand interpretation of his dreams from his palace cadre of magicians and soothsayers, he also demands that they tell him what he dreamt in the first place. And if they cannot fulfill this impossible request, they will be put to death. Thankfully, but not surprisingly, God imparts all knowledge of those dreams to Daniel, which puts a stay on the executions. More than once, Daniel carries the weight for the whole team. And even as the king showers Daniel with power and wealth, Daniel always gives credit where credit is due. He acknowledges every time that it is the one true God whom he serves, not himself, who takes the load and does the heavy lifting.

Of course I must finish my post by pointing to our loving Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ who says:

Matthew 11:28, 30: “Come unto me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest . . . For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light”.

Lamentations

As I was reading the book of Jeremiah, I kept thinking how awful the punishment was for God’s chosen, yet rebellious, children. And the book that follows, Lamentations, took me through that place of profound suffering. It spared nothing in describing the horrible events of their Babylonian captivity. I was thankful it was a short book, and despite the deep despair, messages of hope and mercy flashed brightly throughout the book. I had forgotten, or more likely, never knew that this passage came from Lamentations:

3:22 – The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Thy faithfulness.

This passage triggered the ole memory banks to recall this song:

https://youtu.be/96wFybfgspM

I’ve mentioned before that I grew up in the Southern California “Jesus People” movement of the early seventies. We used to sing this song All. The. Time. How wonderful to be reminded of it again now.

Some people think this saying comes from the Bible, “God will never give you more than you can handle”. It makes you squirm a little, doesn’t it? Because there are a great many things too big for us to handle. This makes us question: “Does that mean I’m not quite up to snuff in the strength department, or my reliance on and faith in God?”

Not at all.

If I could tweak that well-known non-scripture, it would instead say: “There is nothing you will face that is greater than what God can handle”. There, that puts the power in the right place. And God’s got this.

Because there’s no Bible Sampler Quilt block that accompanies Lamentations, or in fact, the rest of the Old Testament books, I’m going to share instead some blocks I’ve been working on behind the blog scene as I’ve been reading through the books of the major prophets.

I’ve decided to go all in with the Jane Stickles quilt look. I’m going to make those icicle blocks all around the border, which is, in my opinion, the element that makes her quilt so unique. And I really want to use up all the fabric I’ve gathered from this era. I want to use it up and move forward to brighter palettes. As much as I love these Civil War era reproductions; they have the curious effect of reminding me of my age.

But sewing is ageless. Do you feel like a kid again when you let yourself go with an idea, make creative chaos, and play in your stash?

I do. I started paper piecing the triangle border blocks. First I made up my own:Will they fit?

Then I found Susan Gatewood on the internet.

See the difference? I do believe I’m going to love them. Her blocks aren’t the right size for my quilt, so I’m stretching them out a bit. And the blocks with curves and appliqué? Forget about it. They will be replaced with those very simple blocks that were done pre-Susan Gatewood.

I’m excited to see that a few new subscribers have found my “secret blog” (as my husband refers to this. I’m slowly growing more comfortable with social media). I hope it’s inspiring you to consider making your own Bible Sampler quilt, and reading along with me. Please leave a comment, I’d love to hear what you’re up to. What are your thoughts on the book of Lamentations?

One Monthly Goal

Just dropping in to post a link to a UFO Challenge,

https://www.elmstreetquilts.com/2020/02/one-monthly-goal-march-link-up.html

Since I’ve decided to finish at least twelve projects anyways, I thought I’d join this challenge. Who would turn down a fun source of motivation and inspiration?

So, to review, my January finish was a needlepointed pillow top. In February, I put the finishing touches on the Good Fortune, which was Bonnie Hunter’s mystery quilt last year. I’m progressing very well on Frolic, this year’s mystery, but I’ve chosen my snowflake quilt for the month of March UFO challenge. I’ve got three snowflake tops in various stages of assemblage.

Goal: get one of the three tops quilted, bound, and threads buried.

Keep on Keeping On

Remember this saying? I had a high school friend who would use this phrase as his good bye. Maybe it annoyed me just a little bit because I didn’t understand his meaning. He played guitar and was into soul music, and we all thought him to be a cool guy. So he wasn’t asked what was meant by it.

Another saying from that era, much more annoying, was “Keep on Truckin'”. What, exactly, is it I’m supposed to keep doing now? How does one “truck”? Again, no one asked that question, and we tolerated the popular tee shirt with the cartoonish guy with the big shoes.

This blog post returns to the Bible Sampler Quilt project, although I don’t have a block to share with you. The book of Jeremiah isn’t used in the quilt, but I want to talk about it anyways.

Still thinking about my high-school-aged self, I remember having a hard time synthesizing the punishing Old Testament God and the loving New Testament God as one and the same. When I started reading the Bible earnestly as a teen, I found myself avoiding the Old Testament books of the law, and focusing on the good news of the gospels instead.

This time, my reading through ALL of the words of the Bible is an altogether different experience. I didn’t catch it in my youth, but in the midst of the bad news, there is also good news. In the midst of judgment and condemnation, there are glimpses of hope and salvation.

The book of Jeremiah begins with the setting, which establishes that he was a real person from a certain time and place. The very fact that God listed the names of the reigning kings to inform us of the time period is our first glimpse of hope. (The kings were Josiah and Jehoiakim, and God’s people knew that their savior would come from the lineage of David.)

Bad News: The Israelites were behaving extremely badly. Therefore, God would punish them and they’d be taken away into captivity by Babylonia.

Good News: Babylonians didn’t kill when they conquered, rather, they enslaved. So Israelite kings would live, which means the lineage of Christ could continue.

Bad news: The captives were struggling to keep their chins up during their exile. It was hard to try and remember their special identity as God’s chosen people, citizens of His promised land, while stuck in Babylon year after year after year.

Good news: Halfway through the book, in chapter 29, God lets His children know that He will bring them back to the promised land after seventy years time. He promises to restore the fortunes of His people. He basically tells them to “keep on keeping on”:

Jeremiah 29:4 – thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel. To all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon; Build houses and live in them, and plant gardens, and eat their produce. Take wives and become the fathers of sons and daughters, and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; and multiply there and do not decrease. And seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.

The Israelites heard this and probably thought: You mean I’m just supposed to simmer down, settle in, be kind, and get on with everyday living? I can do that.

Aha, so that’s what it means! This new decade will see my fiftieth high school reunion, and I finally understand how to keep on keeping on.

And think about it, having all those babies means that there will be a plentiful population when it finally comes time for them to pack up and move back home to Israel.

Aha! That will be when we share an encouraging word, like: “Keep on Truckin'”

I get it now.

A blogpost would not be complete without a photo, so I’ll share this “One year ago” email I received from Google today.

Aren’t they lovely? Both taken by my husband in our back yard, catching God’s perfect artistry. Both also show evidence of the neverending state of our fixer-upper life. One year later, the ladders and shovels are still being put to use somewhere else around the house. We’ll just keep on keeping on.