Sunday, May 31, 2009

Stitchin Post Saturday--on Sunday

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Sorry guys, I was enjoying the heat wave yesterday and didn't post my Stitchin' Post.

Here is the little blue devil I completed for a friend's Round Robin.
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Next week I'll be focusing on Stargazer once again.

What are you working on? Be sure and post a link in the comments since we are still unable to use Mr. Linky.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

In Other Words--You get what you Aim for

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“Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in.
Aim at earth and you get neither.”
~ C.S. Lewis


My Bible Study group had an interesting discussion on Friday. We are working through Kelly Minter's No Other Gods study. The lesson was on Abraham's offering of Isaac as a sacrifice. Ms. Minter maintains that Isaac as the child of promise had become, in essence, Abraham's idol. Yet, when God said to Abraham "offer him as a sacrifce" Abraham immediately set out the next morning to be obedient. That's the background for the discussion. But we were talking about how many times when God calls us to give up the "good" things in our life that have become the "most important" things in our life if we are obedient to his call of sacrifice ultimately he allows us to keep what we were called to forsake. The difference is now we keep it in proper perspective to God.

In the obedience of seeking what God wants first (i.e. 'aiming for heaven') we are able to keep the things that make us happy here on earth. Certainly, that is not always the case. There are times that the sacrifices that we make while aiming for heaven are permanent here on earth--but God gives us more in return.

But when we try to hold onto the things of earth instead of being obedient to God? We ultimately end up with neither earth or heaven. The things of earth ultimately pass away. In the interim they lose their luster in our lives. And things of heaven? Well they seem so far away because we chose disobedience. As the quote says we get neither.

Where is your aim today? Aim for the things that God has commanded. The blessings of earth so often will follow! May you feel those blessings today.

Our hostess today is Deborah at Chocolate and Coffee. Go, visit and be blessed!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Stitchin' Post Saturday--23 May 09

Welcome to Stitchin' Post Saturday!
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Stargazer at 12 hours, I'm loving this pattern!
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This is for a Round Robin. Can you guess what is going to be?
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Mr. Linky is not cooperating very well this week, so no links. If you have something to show off, just let us know where in the comments. Have a great holiday weekend!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Walking, Crawling, Running---Just Keep Moving

In the chorus discussed in yesterday's In Other Words, the question is asked "will the love continue if my walk becomes a crawl?" I think that is another of those fears that we all struggle with at some point or another. Somehow we get it into our heads that God's love is dependent upon how much we are doing. We think that if we are struggling then God must be ready to abandon us.

But nothing could be further from the truth. God's love for us is based totally on his character and not on anything that we accomplish.

He loved us before we ever took our first breath.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
~Psalm 139:15-16~


He loved us enough to teach us to walk and to rescue us.
It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; but they did not realize it was I who healed them.
I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love;
I lifted the yoke from their neck and bent down to feed them.
~Hosea 11:3-4~


He loved us while we were still unrepentant sinners.
Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
~Romans 5:7-8~



He loves us when we are selfish children who are off doing our own thing.

But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
~Luke 15:20~



He loves us. Period. Full stop. No questions needed.

Certainly, he delights when are actively consciously seeking to serve Him. He calls for us to daily follow him and he wants us to grow in our daily walk with him. But he does not measure how fast that walk is. He does not say, "we made it 3 miles today but you went 6 yesterday so you better pick up the pace." Nor does he admonish us for making great strides. He simply wants the relationship to keep moving.

Relationships ebb and flow. There are times in our marriages or with our kids or with friends that we feel like we are sailing along, learning so much about each other and truly enjoying every aspect of the relationship. Then there are the times that it is really hard work--where communicating is difficult, when grace doesn't flow and when we honestly believe walking away would be best. But when we slog through those rough times we find on the other side the relationship is deeper and sweeter. It has added a layer of foundation that only comes through those experiences.

So it is with our Christian walk. There are times that we are practically running in our relationship with Jesus. We have lots of time to study our Bible, prayer is coming easy and the blessings are abundant. Then there are times that the pace is less frantic and more comfortable. It is still stretching us to grow and there is plenty of prayer and study but at a tempered rate. But then there are the times that it appears to be a hard slog. We just can't hear God as clearly because of pain or busyness or because he is simply asking us to wait. Our prayers may seem to fall on deaf ears. We may struggle just to read a verse or two. In those times, crawling may sound like a dream. We are just persevering. But somehow we keep moving, albeit at a snail's pace.

The good news is that all of those times are absolutely God ordained. He loves to run with us. He rejoices in the daily walk with him. But when he sees us crawling through the time of struggle just to stay with him, his heart delights. It brings him joy to see us not allow the difficulties of the world take away our desire to move with him. And he brings us rest when we persevere with him in the times he is refining us.

This is what the LORD says: "The people who survive the sword will find favor in the desert; I will come to give rest to Israel."
The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness."
~Jeremiah 31:2-3~

~~~~~
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
~Matthew 11:28~




Does the love stop when we are crawling? Not at all. In fact, I find that is when he is pouring even more love into me to refresh and restore a weary soul. How amazing is that love!

He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing."
~Zephaniah 3:17b~


Whether you are running, walking or crawling I hope today you can rest in the love of Jesus. And if you are stuck in circumstances and feel you can't move as fast as you should, please remember that he desires for us to move with him and he will do the refreshing. Bless you all!

Monday, May 18, 2009

In Other Words--Failure

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“What if I stumble, what if I fall?
What if I lose my step and I make fools of us all?
Will the love continue when my walk becomes a crawl?
What if I stumble, and what if I fall?”


Chorus from the song, “What if I Stumble?“
Artist: DC Talk
Album: Intermission



I have decided that my next quote is definitely going to be about God giving us a million dollars. Not that I know of any quotes like that, nor do I believe that He regularly does that. But I am certain that practicing having a million dollars would be much more fun than practicing failure. I'm just saying! What a month! And if you don't believe that God still speaks, you need to seriously get involved with the "In Other Words" writers and blogs. What you may not realize out there in blogdom is that these quotes are chosen a couple of months in advance for planning purposes. We don't consult on what quote we are going to use, so there is no planning of a "theme." Yet as they are posted onto our hostess site, time and time again it is obvious that God is weaving a thread of the same colour in and out of all of our lives. Have you seen the progression? "What you believe speaks through how you act" leads into "acting in such a time as this" leads into "trusting God when we can't see the path" leads into "failure". Maybe the thread hasn't been as clear in your journey, but each and every one of these quotes has spoken directly into my life at the moment. Including this week's on failure. So my apologies to those of you who God also chose to use this as a teachable moment.

When I decided to use this quote three and a half months ago it was totally innocent. We sang the chorus in church. I thought about how fear of failing keeps us from moving and how that impacts us in terms of lifestyle evangelism. I thought it would be interesting to hear others' thoughts. Eureka moment--this would make a great "In Other Words" post. So I posted it to the hostesses (thus committing it to the queue) and proceeded on my merry way.

Then the failure happened.



I was given a task to do. Suffice it to say that not everyone who was impacted by the task was thrilled that anyone was doing it. And even more than that, they were not thrilled at how I was doing it. And furthermore, they took huge offense at me personally. And it spiraled into an ugly mess. For an often-in-recovery-sometimes-off-the-wagon people-pleaser such as I am, this spoke one thing into my life.
FAILURE!
I failed to keep everyone happy. I failed to insulate the situation. I failed to keep a smile on each face.
FAILURE!

As we sing those words of the chorus above we are expressing the deepest fears we have. We are saying "God we hear you say 'move out there and do this' or 'live this way' or whatever we hear you say, but we are afraid of hurting your reputation." Hear me solidly on this, God's reputation is not dependent on us. His character is sound and will not change. We can be flat on our face in the mud of failure and He will still be on the throne and He will still be God. But He will also be leaning over, lifting us up, drying our tears and healing our wounds. He knows that we are going to fail. He knows that we are going to mess up. He knows that we will do things that cause people to say "those Christians they...(insert favorite hypocrisy here)." He knows it. And He still choses to use us! Why? Because He loves us. No matter what. All the time. Even before we acknowledged that we were in the mud of failure!





But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
~Romans 5:8~




There are some of us who have caught a dream of what God can do in our community. At times, it seems like an impossible dream. The incident of perceived failure was but one task needed in accomplishing that dream. Not everyone around us is ready for the changes that could happen if God moves the way we dream He will. I get that. And I understand that what is perceived as a failure on my part is really just a small piece of a much larger picture. There are places in this that the failure was absolutely, utterly and totally mine. I fully accept that in the days that followed I fell over and over again. I failed to be gracious. I failed to be quick to forgive. I failed to not judge the hearts of others. I failed in tone and speech on more than one occassion. And God has graciously and consistently heard confession and extended forgiveness. Any failure that occurred was mine--and I have had to own it and deal with it before God. But it did not change God's reputation. And it did not change anyone else's reputation. If others take on my "failure" and make it their own, then they will have to answer to that. Could things have been done differently? Absolutely. But I believe with absolute certainty that it would have been a bigger failure to not act than it was to act even if others have labeled it as failing. A failure to ignore God's call to obediently act in faith is bigger than a misstep in attempting to follow Him.


This weekend I've been away at a church retreat. God has spoken into my life about failure in an amazing way. The speaker was using an analogy of the Christian life being like a roller coaster with ups and downs. He said there were highs but there were also places that appeared to be not working so well and we crash into the lows. Then he said that in anything he does, he builds in a chance for failure. He said that it was part of dreaming big. He made the comment that if there was a failure it would make a great story for his grandchildren, but if it succeeded "what a ride!" In the moment, God released me from so many of the "what ifs?" in this chorus. What if I stumble? There will still be a story to tell. What if I make a fool of myself? Oftentimes God uses the foolish things to highlight the best things. Can I really make a fool of someone else? Not unless they allow me to. My writing teacher in college would write "so what?" beside any unsubstantiated point we made in our persuasive writing assignments. I believe that may be the answer God is giving me regarding failing. What if I stumble? So what! It doesn't change who He is. It doesn't stop the love. But what if I succeed and the kingdom of God is impacted forever? Now, that is substantial. That is amazing. And how exciting to be able to say "what a ride!"

What fear is holding you back? Where is God saying "dream big" and you are saying "but what if..."? We are going to stumble. We are going to fail. But God is still God and it will not change who He is. But what if you make an impact for the kingdom? Isn't that worth the risk?

Father thank you for loving us in spite of our failures. Thank you for picking me up each and every time I fail. Thank you for continuing to urge me to dream big and go for huge gains in the kingdom. How amazing it is to me that You would choose to glorify yourself in the mere dreams and actions of someone like me, but you do! And I'm humbled and honored. Help me to never allow fear of what others may think keep me from being obedient. Glorify yourself in me. Amen.

Please sign the link if you have been inspired by this quote to write your reflections. We would love to come and be encouraged by you. I plan to write more tomorrow about the line "will the love continue when my walk becomes a crawl". I couldn't fit it all in today. Please come back!

NB: roller coaster photo is mine; other images are microsoft clipart


Friday, May 15, 2009

Stitchin' Post Saturday-16 May 09

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We have church plans all weekend and I know that I'm not going to be able to get photos up of my work. I have added another 5 hours on Stargazer and worked on a Round Robin as well, so next week lots of pics. If you have any progress pics to show us, I'd love to see them. Until then, have a great week!

In Other Words Hostess

Tuesday I will be hosting In Other Words. This time I've chosen a chorus by DC Talk which I think speaks to the fears we all have at times about the mistakes that we are all bound to make. I pray that you will be blessed by the things that are written on Tuesday. If the quote inspires you, please write your own post and come back to link on Tuesday.

“What if I stumble, what if I fall?
What if I lose my step and I make fools of us all?
Will the love continue when my walk becomes a crawl?
What if I stumble, and what if I fall?”

Chorus from the song, “What if I stumble?“
Artist: DC Talk
Album: Intermission

Monday, May 11, 2009

In Other Words--Trust in the Darkness

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“I learned that faith isn’t tested by how often God answers prayers with a yes
but by my willingness to continue serving Him
and thanking Him
even when I don’t have a clue as to what He is doing.”

Gary House
Seeking the Face of God:
The Path to a More Intimate Relationship with Him



"I know that you are waiting to hear where we are going to need you next."
"Yes, sir."
"Well I can't tell you yet, but I have something big in mind for you."
"ok...."

Variations of this conversation have taken place for a year. In the ebb and flow of business life, transitions happen. Usually, we have an idea of what that transition is fairly far in advance. This one, not so much.

And it has been the most difficult path yet.

In fact, we discussed just last night that if we did not believe wholeheartedly that God was working His plan in our lives, it would be easy to despair.

But we know He is working.

Just as assuredly as when we heard of the job in England and we had an immediate feeling of peace that "this was it." It's easy to listen to God when He gives a resounding "yes."

He is working.

Just as assuredly as when we were coming to grips with a move to a place we had never considered and just days before official announcments should have been happening the entire thing collapsed in such a way that we knew God was protecting us from something. It is easy to hear when God gives a resounding "no."

He is working.

Even though we can't see the path. Even though we have no idea what the next step looks like. Even when the decision makers can't seem to figure out where to next. In spite of all of this, God is working.

And my faith continues to grow. With each step in the darkness, I learn to trust Him a little more.

Sure I love the "yesses". I can accept it when the answer is "no." But in the times where the answer is "just trust me" the relationship becomes so much more intimate. So as much as I'd love a road map of the next year, I'm going to rest in the assurance that He has a plan that I can't see. I'm willing to bank on the fact that next year my understanding of faith will be even deeper. And that is His ultimate goal anyway--to develop my faith.

Are you trusting Him in the darkness?

Loni at Writing Canvas is our lovely hostess for In Other Words this week. The testimony she presents is so encouraging. Please visit her site, and the sites of the other lovely ladies participating. You are sure to be blessed.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Stitchin' Post Saturday-9 May 09

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Not much stitching this week. I did finally start The Stargazer by Nora Corbett/Mirabilia. This is my first large start in 2 years except for a couple of round robins. I'm pleased with how it is going, although this scan does not do the colours justice. Here it is at 7 hours of stitching.

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What are you stitching this week? What have you recently finished? Come on, share!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

In Other Words---Idling to Despair

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“Mordecai understood that it is not failure that brings despair,
but unfaithfulness and idleness.”
~Dorothy Patterson, editor of Women’s Devotional Bible
Devotion: Service Through Providence, Esther 3:13-4:17


The writing appeared to be on the wall. There was not much that could be done. The annihilation of the Jewish people seemed to be inevitable.

Except.

Except, Mordecai had not lost sight of the fact that they were God's chosen people. Sackcloth and ashes were the signs of mourning about what was to come. But his words betray that he expects God to act. Not necessarily to save them all, because the language describes a remnant. But God will act.

For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?"
Esther 4:14


And if Esther does not use her position to address the King, then she too will perish--even when God acts.

Acting on what they believe God to be doing demonstrates their faithfulness and not despair.

I told someone recently that (in a specific situation) we have been proclaiming we are called "for such a time as this" not "such a time as a few years from now." We can delay, be idle and end up in despair. Or, we can be faithful to what we believe that God is calling and even if it fails know that God is pleased with the effort. I'll take the latter any day.

What are you idling over? Move forward. Don't despair. God honors the faithful efforts of his followers.

Patricia at Typing One Handed is our hostess this week. Come and be blessed!

Marriage Monday--Seasons

1st Monday Every Month at Chrysalis
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For the summer, Marriage Monday is going to be hosted by its creator Christine at Fruit in Season. This month she has chosen this amazing topic of Seasons in Marriage, which has some truly insightful posts already attached to it. This, I fear, will not be one of those.

I remember when we were preparing to get married we received the advice to wait at least three years before having children "so that you have learned to live as a real married couple and not a honeymooning couple" before the reality of children changed our lives. It seemed good advice, and we did follow it with God's grace and guidance. But the truth is, we crashed out of that "spring" or "honeymoon" stage within five months of getting married. We moved into the "reality stages" of marriage pretty quickly. German was transferred to a new account five months into our marriage and we spent the majority of our first year with him in Alabama and me in Washington state. Nothing like a lot of distance to force the reality of how we cope with pressures.

We have had the winter seasons in our marriage--two miscarriages, job uncertainties, etc.--but they have never seemed long or desolate. Instead, we seem to flow in and out of the different seasons without much change in how we are. In fact, there are uncertainties in our life right now that I believe most would see as winter. Yet, when I asked German last night how he would describe this season, he answered "peaceful." We have children pushing the boundaries of our patience and time, a need to make a change in accounts but no accounts to go to at work, church tension (best word for it) and fluxes in relationships. Yet he calls it "peace" and I would call it "content." It is a good season to be in, despite the roller coaster it could be.

I love watching people who have worked through seasons more systematically. They had their children young and close together, they stayed in one place or ministry for a period of time, they prepared for a future without children at home and were able to enjoy it. Those marriages give me a foundation of what the seasons look like. But I know that we will never go through seasons systematically. We were single longer than most of our friends, we had our children later (they all have college kids, we have primary school kids), we move around so often, we cannot even envision where we might want to grow old together much less how. God has called us to a marriage that will ebb and flow the seasons differently than our friends. I am thankful for that. He, in His wisdom, knew how we as individuals would approach life and gave us to one another to share that life together. How amazing is that!

I don't know what this season is called. But I call it content, and that is all I need.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

The Stitching Post-2 May 09

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Welcome back to the Stitching Post! I had a lovely vacation in the States and I'm back to some sort of a routine here. I did have a finish whilst I was away--Spring Row by Bent Creek. Sorry, I had to break it up into three pictures to get it all in with any detail.

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springrow3

What are you working on this week? We'd love to see it.

Friday, May 01, 2009

The May Goal Post

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Revisiting April Goals:
1. Finish Emily Jane's quilt--yes
2. Finish office organization--about 85%
3. Work on Bent Creek Season Rows--Spring and Summer--Spring complete (come back tomorrow for pics)
4. Complete Kristin's All About Me RR if arrives--arrived when on holiday so not yet stitched

April is mainly a family month, so not as much goal setting as life living to be done!--Memory making was huge success!

May Goals:
1. Complete 50% Stargazer (a new start! yay)
2. Finish Kristin's All About Me RR
3. Work on Bent Creek Season Row--Summer
4. Finish 3 blocks for sampler quilt and pin top
5. Prep T-shirts for T-shirt quilt
6. Quilt Around the World quilt (already pinned)
7. Complete office reorganization
8. Complete closet clean-out (have done mine and girls, need to do German's closet)

photo credit: digiology found at morguefile.com