17. Hospitality

I’ve read up to Genesis 18 and Sarai has now done her fair share of blowing it. She took matters in to her own hands and had her maidservant produce Ishmael, a son from Abram, in order to get the ball rolling on God’s promise. I guess she thought He needed her help in fulfilling a promise that He made to her, rather than the other way around.

Despite their failings, God gives them a fresh start. Kind of like a reboot, He changes their names and establishes a covenant with them. (Sounds like becoming born again to me.) The first outward sign of this inward change is the rite of circumcision. (Sounds like getting baptized to me.)

Here’s where the old covenant diverges from the new. The old covenant is good for Abraham and all of his descendants. If you’re born into the tribes of Israel, you’re all set with God. The new covenant is good for one generation only. Originating from a Christian family, even going to church, does not guarantee your salvation. One final difference: God’s covenant with Abraham excluded all non-Jews. The new covenant in Christ doesn’t leave anyone out:

John 3:16 – For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.

Back to our quilt block, Hearth and Home. The passage beginning in chapter 18 of Genesis tells of God visiting Abraham at his tent. There are three visitors, and the others aren’t identified. Of course I’m curious. Was it the Trinity, all in one place? Were they angels? I’m guessing angels, because the purpose of the visit was to tell Abraham that angels will soon destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. The passage also describes the two visitors leaving first and heading towards Sodom.

Before they left, there was a meal prepared and presented to these visitors. There were cakes to knead and bake, a calf to be slaughtered, dressed, and cooked, milk and curds to be arranged. I don’t know if I could pull off a feast like that at a moment’s notice. Mind you, Abraham was quite wealthy with a houseful of servants to carry out all the preparations.

But we are called to hospitality ourselves. We may not have tentfuls of servants, but we have microwaves, and instapots, and Keurig machines. And pizza delivery. I want to challenge myself to embrace more opportunities to open my hearth and my home to visitors. Hebrews 13:12 encourages us:

“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it”.

That’s an exciting thought!

Block 17 – Hearth and Home

16. Wonder

I’ve heard people joke that the first thing they’re going to ask God when they arrive in Heaven is “Why mosquitoes?”

I wonder too. Mosquitoes are only annoying, and at their worst, carry deadly diseases.

Now we can look with our backward lens at the patriarchs and wonder why they made such poor choices and showed such lack of faith at times. For example, today’s passage, Genesis 12 has Abram deciding to leave the promised land. He sojourns to Egypt in order to escape famine. We wonder why he didn’t trust God. After all, it was God who sent him into the famine. Wouldn’t He also provide in the midst of the famine? Not only that, upon arrival Abram tells the Egyptian pharaoh that Sarai is his sister, and off she goes to the pharaoh’s harem. What kind of patriarch throws their wife under the bus to save their own cowardly skin? I wonder.

But it gets worse. Because of Abram’s bad decisions, God now has to protect beautiful Sarai, the future mother of His people. He sends a plague upon Pharoah’s house in order to protect her.

And that’s the most difficult “I wonder”. I wonder why innocent people suffer. The members of Pharoah’s household were completely removed from Abram’s sin, yet they had to endure the consequences. They suffered the misery of the plague until Pharoah figured it out and booted Abram’s crew out of Egypt.

We see innocents suffer every day in the news, and our hearts break. We seek perfect justice, and explanations to make sense of it all. What can be the answer to it all?

I think the answer is: Wonder. We won’t ever know why. But God is in the wonder. He understands. Jesus was perfect, innocent of any sin, yet He bore the consequences of our poor choices upon His shoulder as He carried the cross to His death.

And that, as hard as it is to reflect on the pain He suffered, is wonderfully good news.

Block #16: Wonder of Egypt

15. Home

Back to our walk through the Bible. Have you noticed too how much movement happens throughout?

After Noah and his little family disembark the ark, they follow God’s command to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. Generations later, the people think they can reach God by building a tower that would reach to the heavens. God responded by confusing their language, and they scattered abroad.

There sure is a lot of travelling involved.

Genesis 12 tells us that God spoke to Abram to leave home. He lived in Ur, which was a thriving, civilized city in the Persian Gulf. And where was he to uproot his family and move to? God said, TBA.

So without knowing his destination, Abram packed up the family and his nephew Lot’s family, said good bye to his parents, and walked by faith into his promised land.

Home: this word evokes many different emotional responses. My husband lived in eight different homes during his school years. I graduated from college with friends I had known since kindergarten. My parent’s house could boast “50 years accumulation” if a garage sale happens.

This line from the hymn evokes the same response: ” I’m just a stranger here, Heaven is my home.”

Billy Graham said, “You won’t see a u-haul hitched behind a hearse”. But there is something you can take with you: other people. And our walk, our journey of faith begins at home.

I think I mentioned that I built my fabric stash from local thrift store finds. When I first returned to sewing, and was new to quilting, I came upon five house blocks. The LTS also had bags of colorful strips. I didn’t know how to quilt, I just jumped right in and started sewing QAYG blocks. The only parts that are accurate in this first quilt are the four house blocks. I didn’t know any better, and I was having so much fun. I love to connect personal meaning to things that I make. This quilt symbolizes my four children and their future homes. My prayer is that they continue in their walks of faith and will say as Joshua did: As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Are you wondering where the fifth block went? Potholder.

Mystery Monday Reveal

Bonnie Hunter’s link can be found here:


This is a happy view in my sewing room this morning. I’ve got three wonderful projects vying for my attention. In the basket are all the pieces waiting to be assembled for Good Fortune. I’ve stacked the colorful pinwheel units so they’re ready to chain piece at full speed. Behind those you will see the next block ready for paper piecing for the Bible Sampler quilt. This is a slow contemplative block in somber tones. In the foreground is a cheerful baby quilt getting squared up and ready to quilt.

Variety is the spice of life.

The baby shower is this weekend, so foxes will come first.

Happy Monday!

Mystery quilts aren’t for everyone…

…which is a very good reason why we should do them. Now, I wish I could avoid using the word “should”, because it can sound bossy. But it will stay, so I guess I will sound bossy.

The reason is that mystery quilts help us. They help us:

1. Get over ourselves. I see it in the chat on Facebook: Quilters expressing frustration, quilters overthinking the process, quilters saying that they are nervous about this or that. This is not rocket science. It’s fabric and thread. If the quilt fails, no one will die. There is no need for anxiety. And how could it fail anyways? It will still keep someone warm and someone will love it because you made it.

2. With our control issues. I was surprised when I first learned that there were such things as mystery quilts. Who in their right mind would invest time and money into a project with an unknown outcome? What if I *gasp* didn’t like the finished product? Or worse, OTHER people didn’t like it? Well, I needed to challenge my overactive control gene. So I jumped in last year with On Ringo Lake, which felt more like a free fall. I gave over control, I chose to just trust. I didn’t change out the colors, or wait to see the reveal before I began. I discovered that I didn’t have to worry about whether or not I had made the “right” choices. It wasn’t my responsibility. This made it so freeing and fun.

3. Learn new things. Mysteries come with great tips and tutorials. I have gained so many skills from Bonnie’s detailed directions. Just her simple tip about rotary cutting – have the ruler’s line on top of the fabric instead of beside it. This one thing made a huge difference in all my rotary cutting since. Another tip with huge impact: square up each unit before joining. Wow. No more misses with matching seams and points. It’s amazing that all this wisdom is dispensed for free.

4. Play. I re-entered the wonderful world of knitting with the inspiration of some European friends in college. They let me join their warm knitting circle and were generous with their wisdom. Because they were taught to knit in school when they were eight years old, they had mountains of mittens and hats and scarves and sweaters and shawls under their experienced belts. First they showed me how to knit the continental way. It flowed more naturally through my hands than the throwing method, and made my stitches more relaxed. Next, they showed me how to relax. If the stitch count accidentally came up short, they didn’t rip down to the mistake, they just picked up a stitch and went on. Same if too many stitches were on the needle. They just found a good spot to decrease, and moved on. They don’t have time for mistakes, there are so many beautiful pieces of knitwork waiting to be wrought from their hands. No one sees a tiny increase or decrease on the finished product anyways. Knitting became freeing and fun to me.

I brought this attitude to my quilting. It’s about having fun. It’s about playing around with color and pattern and texture. Don’t get bogged down with inconsequential “mistakes” – keep moving forward because there’s so many treasures to sew just waiting for you to come out and play.

14. Why?

I already know the answer. My question is: Why Y seams? And there are so many of them in this Bible Sampler quilt.

The answer: (PROS:)

A. They make for stunning angles and are very retro looking.

B. They were invented when everyone was handstitching. Y seams are more easily and successfully executed by hand than by machine.

C. I can’t think of another reason, but there should be a C in order to maintain balance, so here’s a placeholder.

But Why? (CONS:)

A. They slow down my stitching. You can’t chain piece Y-seams. I don’t want to handstitch. One reason I started quilting is because I had to give my hands a rest from knitting.

B. Half the time I miss the mark and have to rip out and do over. The other half of the time I just leave it as is and hope it’ll quilt out.

C. You’re probably supposed to pull off the paper foundation first before twisting the pieces around to make the new angle. And snip the seam allowance where the obtuse angle is created. It makes me nervous to snip seam allowances at the stretchy parts; reminds me of the old days when I was sewing clothing.

Okay, that’s out of my system. It occurred to me while I was typing that I could benefit greatly by checking out YouTube. There’s probably something I’m missing here. I’m a self-taught quilter, which has its disadvantages.

Now that I’ve provided a disclaimer, here’s Block #13, Day and Night. The paper is still on the back.

We have reached the end of Genesis 8, when God assures us that He will no longer cause destruction of such large scale. He said to Himself,

“While the earth remains,

Seed time and harvest,

And cold and heat,

And summer and winter,

And day and night

Shall not cease.”

-Genesis 8:22

13. Dove in the Window

God has done it again, pointing us to the gospel even though we’ve barely begun reading in the Old Testament. I was told as a child that in the Old Testament God laid down the law, and in the New Testament proclaimed the good news that He completed the law. But we see God’s plan of salvation in this Old Testament historical account. I will no longer try to stay focused on chronology as I read the Bible cover to cover. It’s much more exciting to explore these connections and skip back and forth between the old and the new.

In Genesis 8 Noah has opened the window of the ark. Note “the window” rather than “a window”. Noah sends out a dove, which returns with a leaf plucked from an olive tree.

Now, I could be totally off base here, but I think of the ark as a tomb. Dark, dank and surrounded by death. We cannot escape death. We can only surrender our self will, die to ourselves, in order to embrace life through Him.

God gives His life through that one window. One window reminds me that there is only one way of salvation. Interesting that God would design the ark with only one window and one door. There are many views and perspectives about religion and life after death, but those other windows and doors lead to nowhere.

Next, it is a dove that flies through that window. Right? Symbol of peace, and of the Holy Spirit. When Jesus was being baptized by John the Baptist; the Holy Spirit descended “like a dove”. We just sang these lines in church last Sunday:

“…Light and life to all He brings,

Risen with healing in His wings”

(From the last verse of “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”.)

Last, the olive leaf. Olive branches are also universally understood to symbolize peace and reconciliation. I would add healing. I live near an old olive grove. I can tell you that those trees are virtually indestructible. Their roots are strong. There was a fire two years ago that wiped out many trees in our area. I’m watching the olive trees slowly grow back from the blackened earth. They are drought tolerant, and suffer the fewest pest infestations of any fruit tree. They have a superior ability to “self-heal.” If a breach has happened to the protective outer bark; it quickly grows a barrier and avoids infection. This property is also evident in the oil that is squeezed from its fruit.

So I can’t help but draw conclusions from these little details that God noted in the scriptures:

The world cannot escape death. But God provides a window, a door, the way of salvation. He leads us with His Holy Spirit, to a life of peace and reconciliation. He knows it will be tough, and there will be drought years as well as flood years. But he provides the strength we will need in those times. He sends us the Comforter, carrying a leaf, from the tough old olive tree that can withstand the elements. He is telling us, practically shouting it, in this passage that He can provide for all of our needs and wants us to be healed completely. God has it all figured out.

Block 13, Dove in the Window.