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


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.


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.

23. Another Ark

The story continues in Exodus 2. Even though he enslaved them; Pharoah continued to feel threatened by the Hebrews. He took an extreme measure and decreed that all baby boys must be thrown into the Nile.

Do you remember when you first learned this story as a child? I was horrified and felt so sorry for all the babies that had perished. I thought it was extremely lucky that Moses didn’t drown while waiting in that basket. I felt sorry for Moses’ mother for her sacrifice of giving up her beautiful boy.

The Sunday school lesson didn’t include the part where big sister Miriam stood on the banks of the Nile and watched that basket with an eagle eye. Maybe mother Jochebed planned the launch to coincide with the bathing schedule of Pharoah’s daughter when the bank would be crowded with women. They wouldn’t miss a basket floating downstream and couldn’t resist a baby in distress.

And Jochebed was called in to be her baby’s nursemaid. Pharoah’s daughter must have known that she was his mother. She allowed Jochebed to keep her motherly role and raise her son in the Hebrew faith.

As a child, I remember wondering how she managed to pull this off right under her father’s nose. After all, he was the evil man who made the deadly decree. I figured the house of Pharoah was so huge and over staffed that he couldn’t keep tabs on all its comings and goings. I was impressed by her bravery. Maybe it was part chutzpah. She was the young daughter of Pharoah, and what good is that if you don’t stick it to the man at least once?

Either way, Moses is delivered from death by entering an “ark”. He is raised from this basket/”tomb” and brought into the highest place in the land. And we know how the story ends: he becomes the deliverer of his people. Sound familiar?

Many churches built their ceilings to simulate an ark. An upside down ark. The inspiration comes that we are to enter in, leave our cares at the cross, die to ourselves, and let Christ live in us as we go, spreading His good news of deliverance to the world.

22. Welcome to Exodus

Twenty quilt blocks later, we begin the next book in the Bible. Genesis ended with Joseph moving his Hebrew family to Egypt to wait out the years of famine. His family, remember, is father Jacob and the eleven brothers who eventually grow the twelve tribes of Israel. His beloved mother, Rachel, had already passed away before the family reunion.

Well, hundreds of years have passed and the Hebrews have made the mistake of overstaying their welcome in Egypt. The new Pharoah has no history with long-forgotten Joseph, and he only sees the millions of strong, prosperous Hebrews as a threat. Now the children of Israel find themselves enslaved in the land of Goshen.

Children of Israel

There’s only two ways I like to sew: Alone or With Somebody. I know.

Paper piecing takes a long time and has tricky parts, like those infernal Y-seams, so I usually work on this project in solitude. When I’m sewing with friends, I have easier projects to bring along.

Alone in my sewing room, I listen to podcasts or audiobooks. Sometimes I prefer silence. I can think about the Bible passages. What did it feel like to know that you were a child of Israel, born into the race that He chose for His own? Wait, I am! Jesus made us fellow heirs of His kingdom. Reading through the Word is faith-affirming.

I think about the soul who created the block design. I think about the people who named it, passed it on, and renamed it. If only those blocks could talk . . .

According to Quilters Newsletter, the Children of Israel block was first published in a 1935 book, The Romance of the Patchwork Quilt in America by Carrie Hall and Rose Kretsinger.

I wonder how they came upon the block? I recognize the name Rose Kretsinger. She has a role in a podcast I follow, Quiltfiction. If you would enjoy immersing yourself in the 1930’s, then I would suggest you give it a listen. Even if you don’t appreciate that era, I believe you’d like what you hear. There’s quilting and friendship, and connection – which are all timeless after all.

21. Family Reunion

Goshen Star

This is one of my favorite blocks in this quilt. It is so fun to watch the blocks come together. Are any of you joining me in making the Bible Sampler Quilt? I’d love to hear from you.

This quilt block is the final nod to the book of Genesis. The passage in chapter 45 has Joseph inviting his long-lost family to move to the land of Goshen where they can all be together and prosper through the coming years of famine. You can almost hear the glee in his voice as he reveals his true identity to his brothers. He is quick to assure them that all is forgiven because God used their evil plan to accomplish His good plan.

This is very important. Joseph tells us that God is sovereign over everything. I can’t resist jumping ahead to Romans 8:28 – “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

If He was unable to use wickedness to further His plan, then evil would be outside of God’s control. If bad things happen to us, “chance” events occur that He has not ordained, then how could we put our trust in a God who is not in total control of both good and evil? Sovereignty matters.

God has ordained all things, good and evil. This is a hard truth to digest because I see bad things happen to good people. Innocents suffer. God hates this as much as we do; He works through the sin to achieve His worthy end. We can rejoice in the fact that nothing can be done to us outside of God’s will.

As we leave the book of Genesis I realize that everything we need to know about, well, everything – is contained in that one book. Of course, I have the knowledge gained from the rest of the Bible to use as context. What God began in Genesis, He will absolutely complete by Revelation. He is sovereign.

20. Chain Links

Genesis 41 continues with the account of Joseph not only surviving, but thriving in Egypt. The chain of his life events are so connected, you couldn’t chalk it up to lucky coincidence. In a nutshell:

Chain of events:

God reveals the future in Joseph’s dreams, which causes him to be despised by his brothers.

Those brothers retaliate by plotting his death, but he is rescued by foreigners.

Joseph correctly interprets dreams while imprisoned in Egypt, and ends up being number two under Pharoah himself . (Fiber alert: in v. 42 it is mentioned that Pharoah clothes Joseph in garments of fine linen. When you consider that all cloth is wrought by hand, this is a big enough deal to merit a mention.)

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, his brothers are suffering from years of famine.

They have to go and buy food from the Egyptians to keep the nation of Israel alive.

Joseph just happens to be in charge of the storehouses, so after messing with their heads jut a little bit, he is happily reunited with his family and they live happily ever after.

Here’s my takeaway, in a nutshell:

God tells us He’s got it covered, and everything is going to be okay.

We panic and take matters into our own hands.

We do bad things.

God is patient to forgive, and fulfills His promise anyways.

We learn our lesson, and live happily ever after.

Until the next time . . .

Chain Links Quilt Block

Chains are literally in our DNA. They are also the building blocks for makers. I began as a little girl learning to make a chain of yarn with my fingers that I used for doll belts. Then I crocheted, then I knitted, which both connect loops into chains of made fabric. Then I embroidered, and daisy chained many flower stems onto burlap canvases. In my teens, we macraméd purses and belts and vests. So cool.

If I remember something I read correctly; the first sewing machines laid down chain stitches on the cloth. Singer was the one who developed the looping stitch used today.

All this to point out that itsy bitsy pieces (this block has 61 of them!) slowly chain together to make something beautifully complete and whole. When I was in college, a popular saying went like this: PBPGIFWMY – “Please be patient, God isn’t finished with me yet”. I can apply patience to myself, too. God promises to complete His plan, and though I am the weak link in His chain, in Him I am strong.

19. The Pits

Is “the pits” still used in slang culture? If something was bad, we’d say “that’s the pits”. The story of Joseph has an important element – the pit. Specifically, the cistern that his brothers put him in to fake his death. When I first heard it said that the New Testament was embedded throughout the Old Testament, I was very surprised. I had always perceived the Old being at polar opposite from the New: the old covenant, or law, God made with His chosen people vs. the new covenant which wipes away the old and replaces it with the gospel for all people.

God shows us His new plan of salvation over and over again in the stories He chose to include in His word. Looking closely at the story of Joseph, we see that he had to submit to the pit of death in order to live. Foreigners were the ones who pulled him up out of the pit, but his real rescuer was God. Then God used his obedience in Egypt to save His beloved nation Israel from starvation during the years of drought. It’s a stretch, but I see a symbolic “death” and “resurrection” in the life of Joseph.

This YouTube video is worth the time it takes to watch. I’ve purposely kept this post short so you would take the time:

The Pit:

And to think that fabric was the flashpoint to this story. It was the coat of many colors that made his jealous brothers plot Joseph’s death. The careful stitching and piecing that Rachel lovingly bestowed on her favorite son was the last straw for the other eleven boys.

Rachel must’ve known she was feeding the sibling rivalry when she gave Joseph that coat. And what was Jacob thinking when he sent his favorite son to “report back/narc” on his working brothers? Not their finest moments in parenting.

Joseph’s Coat

18. Jacob’s Ladder

Well, Sarah did have a baby boy, just like God said she would. Isaac grew up and had twins, Jacob and Esau. Now we are up to Genesis 28, and Jacob has already stolen Esau’s birthright. What a scoundrel. They say that traits skip generations. You can see it here.

Abraham, the first patriarch of the faith, was so very flawed. He made bad decisions (Wonder) which displayed his immaturity and lack of character.

Next up, we have obedient Isaac, firstborn of the nation of Hebrews, who is nearly slain by his own father when just a boy. But hold on, Isaac does to Rebekah exactly what his father did to Sarah. Genesis 26 tells of another famine which causes Isaac to leave the safety of his land. He travels into Philistine territory and tells King Abimelech that beautiful Rebekah is his sister. Of course the truth comes out, and God provided the protection He promised, despite Isaac’s cowardly attempt to save his own skin.

Then we have the next generation, Abraham’s grandsons, the twins. Jacob and Esau were engaged in a power struggle from the very start, which made for a difficult pregnancy and birth for poor Rebecca. Jacob tricks his father and steals the birthright from his brother. Esau, however, is no saint. He worships idols, and purposely marries Ishmael’s daughter just to spite his family and keep the troubled pot stirred up.

In Chapter 28 Jacob is travelling out of town to meet up with his future bride. On the way he has a crazy dream. As he sleeps on his pillow of stone (how does one do that?) he sees a ladder to Heaven. Angels are climbing up and down that ladder, and God Himself stands at the top and speaks to Jacob.

Dreams are weird. Sleeping is weird. For the most part, I like to be in control of myself. But for 7-8 hours straight every night I fall into a subconscious state and can’t even control my muscles. How vulnerable sleep makes us! We can’t control our dreams either. And sometimes there are nightmares.

Here’s where I remind myself that God is in control. He created us, and obviously He built in sleeping and dreaming along with eating and drinking for our survival. Even scientific research agrees that we have to dream and sleep in order to maintain sanity. So I need to recognize that dreams are a part of God’s design. I don’t pay attention to my dreams, and perhaps I’m missing out.

God uses dreams when He needs to tell us things that are really important. And anything God says is really important, isn’t it? In this case, God is using this dream to proclaim His promise of prosperity for Jacob in the promised land. The passage ends with these wonderful words of comfort:

v. 15 – “Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go … for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

Wouldn’t you just love to receive this important message from God?

Well, you just did. It has been written down in sacred scripture. We have the Bible, which Jacob did not. Nor did any other dreamers and visionaries we read about. God needed to communicate, so He sent angels and used visions and dreams. He still does, although I haven’t any personal experiences to share. But I have the most amazing communique of all – the infallible word of God.

Block 18 – Jacob’s Ladder

The photo doesn’t pick up the fabric colors. They both have a faint lavender hue.