Leviticus

The Bible Sampler Quilt book flows from Exodus right into Deuteronomy. It skips over Leviticus and Numbers. But since I’m reading right through God’s word, I’ll not skip those books here in this blog. But first, a photo for you. I love tomato pincushions.

Leviticus – when I read through the law that God gave to His people, I was struck by the fact that they all made complete sense. Of course God knew which foods and behavioral habits would work best for us; He created us! He created all of the foods that fuel our bodies. The rituals He described in great detail were ahead of their time in sanitary procedures. Before people discovered germs, God gave them the tools to avoid them. Instead of viewing Leviticus as a bunch of rigid rules and regulations, I see it as God’s love note to His people so they could live their lives to the fullest. You could call it the “Mind Body Spirit” Handbook from Heaven”. We aren’t required to follow the rituals and requirements of the law, but doing so can only lead to good health. God’s dietary laws are proven by science. It’s true that “food is medicine” and we’d be wise to embrace the wisdom the law gives us.

Leviticus draws a line around God’s chosen people. His covenant, the Law, distinguishes between “them” and “us”. One can’t help but feel slighted.

There’s an Edwin Markham poem that goes like this:

“He drew a circle that shut me out-
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle and took him In!”

Here’s the good news. Now we have the New Testament, and with it, the New Covenant, the new Law. When God came down and dwelt among us; He drew a new circle around the entire Earth. Now we are all inside His embrace of love and grace.

Maybe this blog will gather a following. Maybe not. My goal is to chronicle my progress through the Bible and the Bible Sampler Quilt. But today I was thinking about you, my dear readers. If you jump in wherever I am in the process you won’t get the whole story from the very beginning. At first this thought bothered me. I have to have order, and my m.o. is to organize things chronologically. But for you, I have to let it go. We all have our own starting points. (Note to self: The books of the Bible aren’t arranged in chronological order, so who am I to stress its importance here.)

I will, however, encourage you to join me in reading through the Bible. It’s been surprising to compare and contrast my reactions this time through. Age does indeed bring experience, if not wisdom, to the pages. I’m noticing so many things I missed the last time.

Tomorrow we will discuss Numbers! Until then, I leave you with another pincushion of mine.

31. Go For It

Thunder and Lightning Block

The scripture passage has the children of Israel trembling in their camp. Mount Sinai is shaking. Thunder and lightning, smoke, and trumpet blasts are radiating from the mountain because God is there. He has called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses goes into the heat and fire to meet with God. I’m glad Moses “goes for it” because he returns with the two tablets of stone. We have the Ten Commandments.

Can I just say here that I think Moses is beyond amazing? I’d be hiding under my quilt in my tent.

But as I think about it, God calls us too. Living in the age of grace, we are gently drawn to Him with the help of the Holy Spirit. But we have to remember God’s awesome and terrible power. Proverbs 1 says “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge”. Rather than be afraid of Him, we can respect His omnipotence.

When I’m choosing the fabric and layout for each block, I’m considering the block’s name and how best to convey it with my choices. I think that’s the favorite part of the process for me.

Imagine thunder and lightning: first comes the BOOM, followed by a flash, then the jagged bolts of electricity find their ground. I chose the white center to symbolize the BOOM. Then the flashes radiate from that boom, and are finally ringed by the bolts.

As I sew, (and these blocks take a long time), I think of the original creators of these old blocks. What was their story?

I love the history of things. When I was growing up, I consumed the LHOP books. I immersed myself in the world of Little Women and all of the books LM Alcott wrote for girls. I ddevoured all of LM Montgomery’s books, and later, Jane Austen’s.

I embraced the moral lessons preached in these books. They were affirming to my own life choices. I am loathe to admit that I was a bit of a goodie-two-shoes. I identified with Laura’s older sister, Mary. I chose the meek Beth to be my heroine in Little Women. And I resonated with Diana, the gentle kindred spirit, in Avonlea.

But if I could go back and meet with my childhood self, I would say, “Relax!” I would encourage that shy and circumspect girl to summon up the courage to take the risk of challenges and just go for it. I would tell her that if she fails, so what? She’ll live. And life would be much more thrilling and adventurous.

But I can only move forward. There’s a thoughtful reason why I named this blog “Cuts With Scissors”. It gives a nod to “Running With Scissors”, which to me, means, “Go for it”. And if I get injured in the process, I’ll live. I definitely was NOT that kid that ran with scissors. I looked and never leapt. I was the rule follower to a “T”. I got good grades in school except for the “Participates in Class” mark. The teachers didn’t know I was intently participating; I just didn’t show it on the outside.

So starting a blog has been a huge step for me. Thank you for being so supportive. What was I afraid of? This is FUN and I’ve learned something that Lucy Maud Montgomery already knew:

“Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.”

30. From Desert to Mountain

The next quilt block is “Going Around the Mountain”. It is supposed to look like squares radiating out to the edge. I intentionally changed it up to be “Courthouse Steps”. I love this block. The foundation paper pattern was not changed, just the fabric placement. Ideally the colors would’ve progressed from the lightest tan to the deepest brown, but I was constrained by the quantity of each scrap piece. I’m sewing them up to within an inch of their lives, or in this case, 1/4 of an inch. I am bothered by too much waste, and I don’t want leftover that will have to be revisited later. I want them used all the way up!

The scripture passage reports that the Hebrews have safely crossed the Red Sea and have set up camp at the base of Mount Sinai. Moses leaves them there in the desert and climbs up the mountain to talk with God.

I’m “going around the mountain” too. I’m not walking in the dust and sand of the Sinai desert, rather I’m zooming in a car towards Phoenix. But my trip is exceptional, too, because of this sight out my passenger seat window:

This is a sight I’ve not seen before near Palm Springs. Snow! This just does not happen in the Southwest.

Are you a mountain person, a desert person, a beach person? I live in a place where I can experience all three in a day’s drive around my county. But if I had to choose one, I’d say I’m a mountain person. I love the smell of the evergreens and the sounds of the birds that play in them. These desert mountains are more the sawtooth variety, with cactus growing at their sandy bases.

Some people love the desert, and I am not one of them. When the Bible has something happening in the desert, it’s usually accompanied by hardship and struggle. There is wandering and doubt and fear. But mountains, on the other hand, are where God meets with us to encourage and reassure us of His love.

I’m attending a Best Practices Conference with a group from my church. Surrounded by likeminded people and quality speakers, it’s truly a “mountaintop experience”. In the desert.

29. Suddenly . . .

Chariot Wheel Block

Like so many others these days, I’ve limited my projects to what’s in my stash. This project is making a modest dent in my tub of reproduction scraps. I am using the bits up and getting them gone. This time I didn’t quite make it with the green and had to fill in with another. I’m over it. This block had 81 pieces in all. Just sayin’. (There’s one mistake, bottom row third from left, can you see it? Strangely, it only adds to my affection for this block.)

The Bible passage continues with the children of Israel safely crossing the Red Sea while the Egyptians are drowning behind them. And just for good measure, God had disabled their chariot wheels so there would be no chance of escape.

God is the god of suddenly. Lots of miraculous accounts begin with this word. As in, “Suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the wilderness . . .” (Job 1:19) and at Pentecost: “Suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind” . . . (Acts 2).

“Suddenly” God showed up and used wind to part the Red Sea when the situation seemed so dire that there was no possible way out. So of course God did the impossible. He performed a miracle that defied understanding. He used ordinary wind and water and made them do an extraordinary thing.

But the truth of the matter is that He already had it all planned out beforehand. I wonder why He didn’t let Moses in on the fine details of His extraordinary plan. Then Moses could’ve really calmed the fears of the Israelites as they panicked in their dead-end trap ahead of the Egyptian army. What God had told them was a promise of deliverance to a land flowing with milk and honey. That should have been enough for them to trust in Him. But they couldn’t help but doubt His plan in their present situation.

Boy is this true of us believers today. As Moses told the people, we also should say: “Stand firm and you will see the deliverance of the Lord . . . The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

28. Protection

Left and Right block

The Bible passage describes the children of Israel complaining to Moses because they are trapped by the sea ahead and the Egyptian army in pursuit right behind. I don’t blame them, I would feel the same way. But God, who has been leading them in a cloud by day, moves His angel and Himself to the rear of the camp, in order to hide them from the Egyptians that night. The Egyptians can no longer see ahead, and must be spooked by the cloud which is giving light by night. Was it a constant glow or a lightning storm? I’m sure those Egyptians would have been happy to turn tail, it is so evident that God was on the side of the Israelites. But follow orders they must.

Dawn at the Red Sea has Moses stretching his hand out over the water. Now here’s a moment to consider. Like me, did Moses second-guess himself? Did the thought pass through his mind, even fleetingly, that this could fail? He’d be holding that rod aloft for how long before accepting it as a no-go? Was he secretly attempting to come up with a plan B?

Moses didn’t part the Red Sea, God did. But first God required an action, an act of obedience borne of trust, from a man before performing this miracle. Why does He do that?

The children of Israel also had to take action. They had to move forward and walk into that Red Sea (which was now walls of water to the left and right with dry ground below) in order to receive God’s protection from their enemies. They also had to follow the cloud by day to be led to their promised land.

I recall a quote heard long ago: “God can only direct a moving object”. I disagree, God can do anything He chooses. But I do agree with the intent: we are to walk by faith, not by sight. If we don’t know what to do, at least do something, and God will take care of the rest.

Martin Luther is attributed with this quote that also comes to mind: “If I knew surely the world would end tomorrow, I would plant an apple tree today”.

You Can Take the Teacher Out of the Classroom . . .

It’s the REAL final link-up for Good Fortune. I’m going to miss the linkup Mondays: https://quiltville.blogspot.com/2019/02/the-last-good-fortune-mystery-monday.html

Here’s my progress:

I am enjoying the process so much more than last year’s On Ringo Lake because I forced myself to take it slow and steady this year. Do you learn things about yourself as you quilt? I was wondering why I always have so many projects in the hopper. I love the juggling act of numerous quilts in progress all at once. It dawned on me today that decades of teaching small children has conditioned my brain. Years of crafting lesson plans to go from start to finish in twenty five minutes has set my brain clock. And all those “brain break” one minute stretches I did with the students have hardwired my muscles with built-in restlessness.

I just counted my current projects. There’s one halfway quilted on the longarm. Two more flimsies waiting their turn to be quilted, ORL in need of binding, the Bible Sampler, a Christmas lap quilt set for my kids, and the Good Fortune make up my grand total of nine. And I’ve just bought a pattern, “Shimmer”, and have begun pulling scraps and printing foundation papers.

I also realized that I work on the different quilts in an organized fashion. I ran my classroom in small groups, “centers”, so it’s no surprise that I set up my sewing room the same way. I have something ready to play with for every step of the quilting process. What mood am I in? The longarm quilt is waiting. The quilt in need of binding is folded in front of the TV. Fussy paper pieced blocks are stacked on a tea tray. The Good Fortune and Christmas quilts are waiting in their baskets to go out with me when I’m sewing with friends.

The friends have commented on my Jack-in-the-box style of sewing. I’m jumping up to press blocks and lay them out instead of plowing through the chain-piecing start to finish. I wonder if I can blame “lack of delaying gratification” on this retired teacher theory?

27. Army Star

Sampler quilts are great because the blocks don’t repeat. There’s no chance of boredom with the Bible Sampler quilt because each new block brings not only a new design, but a new passage of scripture to think on while planning out the fabric choices. See the star pattern on the gold fabric? I decided to be intentional with the direction of each piece. Each star being a soldier, marching in a unit. Each unit moving outward in formation. I see now one unit is (accidentally) counter-marched. That’s my F Troop. But it’s okay because the whole block came out looking much more disorganized than I had envisioned anyways. Its busi-ness looks like it’s bordering on chaos with the marching stars and arrows pointing every which way.

. . . Which coincides perfectly with the Bible passage we are covering today. Clever segue into Exodus chapter 14: God will soon part the Red Sea to help the Israelites escape the pursuit of the Egyptian army. Being the considerate Father that He is, He lets Moses know ahead of time that it’s all going to go down according to plan. Also ahead of time, God confuses the Egyptians as they approach the dry land under the Red Sea. He causes the wheels of their chariots to swerve, and the hand-picked best of the best soldiers are careening about in chaos. And then we know how it ends for them.

Now that I consider this passage of scripture, I see that the Army Star block has order within the chaos. The arrows are all pointing to the Star in the middle of it all. The bright Morningstar. I choose to let this remind me that God is the eye of the storm, the calm presence in the midst of the battle. Everything is under control.

As a former teacher, my brain recalls songs and/or children’s books as I go about the day. The “Army” reference brought to mind this old song. Do you remember it? Do you remember the motions that went along with it?

I may never march in the infantry,

Ride in the cavalry

Shoot the artillery

I may never fly over the enemy,

But I’m in the Lord’s army.

(Chorus)

And the children’s book? Rosie’s Walk by Pat Hutchins:

A chicken, Rosie, decides to go for a stroll around the sunny farmyard. Unbeknownst to her, a sneaky fox is stalking right behind her and looking for his opportunity to pounce. Instead, he falls into one disaster after another as she calmly strolls along and eventually returns to her coop. Meanwhile, the fox is fleeing a swarm of angry bees so you know he won’t be pursuing Rosie ever again.

I think of our lives as His children playing out in a similar fashion. Ephesians 6:12 says “Our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

The enemy is always lurking as we go about our business. We are oblivious to the battles God’s army is winning on our behalf as we are kept in His eye, the Eye of the Storm.