Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A Lime Quilt for our Niece

my sewing room in the unfinished basement allows me to really spread out

Today you are joining me in my sewing room while I finish a quilt for our young niece who lives in Tennessee.  She was born the year I took a terrible fall, crushing my shoulder, resulting in a shoulder replacement and a slowdown of my quilt productions. That was a few years ago and so this little miss is the only one of our many young family members who missed out on receiving a quilt made by Aunt Barbara.

While she is now too big to be bundled into a crib, she is the perfect age to snuggle up with a quilt and a good book.

my quilting design these days is just straight lines on the diagonal

The pattern of this quilt is scrappy Nine Patch blocks alternating with lots of lime green.  The most-used colors in this quilt are lime green, black, and pink, with a lot of other colors included, focusing on bright jewel tones.

Variegated thread was used for the machine quilting

Over the last 17 years or so, I can remember making at least 25  quilts (and I'm sure there are more I have long forgotten about), plus many more table runners and wall hangings.  There's been one baby quilt for each of my 9 grandchildren, one for each of my sister's grandchildren (4) and some lap quilts for adult family members and more baby quilts for various baby showers for friends.  This year (as of early April) I've completed 2 quilts with 2 more to be made for my nieces' babies due in September.

My plan is to not make any more quilts after the ones for September of this year. My zest for the hobby has been waning for some time and maneuvering the quilts while machine-stitching them takes its toll on my bum shoulder and neck.

my daughter (also a quilter) taught me to use hair clips instead of pins
to hold the binding until it is sewn down

When a person wants to produce a lot of quilts, it's important to figure out ways to get them done as easily as possible. For me, that means I do nearly all of the work with my sewing machine. Some people consider a quilt done entirely by machine to not be a real quilt, but I strongly disagree.  There are also a lot of hand-sewn quilts that never get finished!

some of my mitered corners turn out better than others

One of my secrets to productive quilt-making is to work with colors that are fun.  

a close-up of the Nine Patches alternating with large lime green squares

My inspiration for this particular quilt came from another Christian blogger and quilter, Lollyquiltz.* She does some really innovative, clever things with fabrics and designs.  She always has fabric under the sewing machine needle.  When she completes a seam on a project, instead of cutting the threads, she slips two squares of fabric under the needle and sews them, repeating that a few times, and then cutting the threads to release the original project.  What is left is a chain of squares sewn together and dangling from her machine.  As she does this all the time, she eventually has enough squares to assemble into another quilt.  

I did that with this quilt, just sewing together printed black and other colored fabrics together and gradually assembling them into the Nine Patch blocks.  It's like working on two quilts at the same time!

the quilt label for my niece

With the exception of quilts I give to donation agencies, I label all of my work. Family and friends like to see their name on a quilt, they want to remember who made the quilt for them, and the occasion or reason for the quilt.  

For privacy reasons I have blocked out my niece's name on this label, but you get the idea.  This is a perfect opportunity to include some special message of love. A Bible verse is my favorite tribute. 

I have heard it said that people may forget the meals you cooked and the houses you cleaned, but they will never forget the quilts you made for them. They will remember us a lot easier if we label and sign our work. It's leaving a legacy!!

the appropriate place for the label is on the back of the quilt

I have done several quilts with "free motion quilting" -- the curvy squiggles that are so delightful.  But the injury to my shoulder caused some permanent damage and I've learned to accept my limitations.  Free motion quilting doesn't work for me anymore.  Straight stitching is easier.  Using the variegated thread adds a special design element that I like to think makes up for not doing the free motion stitching.

front and back of the quilt after the binding has been sewn on

On this quilt I was able to sew all the binding on by machine. Sometimes I sew one side with machine and the back side by hand; but this time I was able to do it all by machine.

machine washing and drying the finished quilt

The absolute scariest part of quilting for me is the washing and drying of it after it is all done.  I make my baby/children quilts to be used, which means they must be easily washable. If the quilt is sewn well, it will have no problem getting washed and dried.  I prefer to do this step so I can confidently hand the quilt over to a new mother.  How disappointing it would be for her to wash her baby's quilt and have it fall apart in the laundry! (and I would be so embarrassed)

close-up after washing and drying the quilt

I use Warm and Natural brand batting, which draws up (shrinks) just a little during the laundry process.  The result is a puckered, soft look which adds more texture and a bit of an antique look to the quilt.  I love that. You can see it in the above picture.

completely done and ready to mail

A finished quilt is worthy of a Happy Dance before wrapping it and going to the post office.  As you can see, I take many snapshots of my quilts because I get emotionally attached to them while they are under construction.

* To see the blog post from Lollyquiltz that inspired my quilt, click on this link: Three Secrets to Making Free Quilts

Monday, April 28, 2014

3 Gifts Orange

a mayonnaise-free carrot slaw (recipe to follow)

Today's Joy Dare from Ann Voskamp is to be thankful for "3 Gifts Orange."

I am thankful for Carrots. I am thankful for my carrot-shaped serving dish. And I am thankful for mandarin oranges, both fresh and canned.

I still remember the very first canned mandarin oranges I ever had. It was the Christmas season and we were attending church in Long Beach, California. I was somewhere around twelve years old.  After church one Sunday, several families decided to go to a smorgasbord  for lunch.  

We don't hear that word much any more, smorgasbord, and I'm pretty sure I had to ask my parents what that was.  We now know it to be an "all-you-can-eat" buffet.  

Anyway, they had these miniature orange slices that were so tender and sweet and I immediately added them to my list of favorite foods.  To this day I love them, and whenever I open a can of them I have to take a test sample to be sure they are as good as the last can.  

I also like the fresh mandarin oranges, or "cuties" as they are called in the produce department. And cutie they are!

But back to my carrot slaw in the carrot-shaped serving dish.  My readers may remember that I served this with our Easter dinner this year.  One of our guests does not like mayonnaise, so I did some research to find a carrot slaw that does not call for the white stuff.  We enjoyed it so much that I think I'll include this flavorful and colorful dish every year alongside our Easter ham.

Carrot Slaw for Easter (makes 6 servings)

1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 Tablespoon chopped flat leaf Italian parsley
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 bag (10 oz.) shredded carrots
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 small red onion, chopped
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted

To make the dressing, combine olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, salt and sugar in a small bowl.  Set aside.

In a larger bowl, combine the shredded carrots, dried cranberries, onion, and almonds.  Add the dressing.  Cover and refrigerate 2 hours or overnight.  This salad improves over time.

Be sure to toast the almonds.  Most recipes calling for nuts are made more flavorful when the nuts are toasted beforehand.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Worship With the Beauty of a Holy Life

Tulips from my son

Give unto the LORD the glory due to His name;
worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.

Psalm 29:2

Another way to phrase that second line in this verse is to say, "worship the LORD with the beauty of a holy life."  I read that somewhere years ago and it stuck with me.  It is my prayer that my life would worship the LORD. That would be beautiful. 

But what do we do when we have messed up?  How do we approach our Holy God when we are ashamed of wrong we have done, even though He still calls us His own?

If we confess our sins,
he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins,
and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

I John 1:9

Our always loving Heavenly Father will forgive us (indeed has already forgiven us) of sins past, present and future. But we need to agree with him that what we have done is wrong and turn away from that sin.

How can a young man cleanse his way?
by taking heed to God's Word.

Psalm 119:9

Read Scripture daily, meditate on it, and talk to God. Obey what He is telling you.  That is how we worship the Lord with the beauty of a Holy life.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Butternut Squash Soup

Butternut Squash Soup

This is a wonderfully nutritious and tasty soup to prepare any time you can get your hands on a Butternut squash.

Butternut squash going into the oven to roast

Cutting into nearly rock-hard squash is one of the most dangerous tasks (I think) that the home cook is called upon to do, so when I came across a package of Butternut squash already peeled and cubed in a package, I snatched it up.  

roasted Butternut squash cubes

At the time I did not have a specific recipe in mind, but that was only a minor detail. I would find one; I was just happy to find the squash in a form where the hardest part of the work was already done for me!

grating nutmeg with a microplane gives a better flavor

I decided a soup would be made with the squash. The recipe called for oven-roasting the cubes before making the soup. Those yummy bites with a bit of caramelization on them were delish! I had to force myself to not gobble them all up before continuing with the soup recipe.

Medjool dates have a large seed in the center. Slice the date in half lengthwise and remove the pit.

This recipe is adapted for my preferences from Brad Gruno in his book, Brad's Raw Made Easy.

When a recipe calls for soy sauce, this is one choice
available to those who are gluten-intolerant

I am still reading through the book, but his story is like so many others I've read in that when he began eating a mostly raw diet, his health began to quickly improve. I found the same thing and have kept off the weight loss for nearly 6 months. (yeah!)

soup ingredients will be processed in my Vitamix blender

A Vitamix is not essential for this soup recipe, but it does make the preparation very easy.  Any high-powered blender should work.

the soup is now blended and ready to eat, or it can be gently heated in a sauce pan if desired

Butternut Squash Soup, adapted to my preferences (makes 6 servings)

4 cups peeled, chopped Butternut squash
1 cup fresh apple juice (or bottled if you prefer)
1/3 cup orange juice (fresh or bottled, your preference)
1/3 cup water
1 stalk of celery, chopped (include the leaves)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 pitted Medjool dates
1 teaspoon sea salt
dash of soy sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roast the Butternut squash for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes. Resist the urge to snack on these yummy nuggets or you won't have enough left for the soup!

Place the squash, apple juice, orange juice, water, celery, cinnamon, nutmeg, dates, sea salt, and soy sauce in a high-powered blender. Blend until mixture reaches a smooth soup consistency.

The soup can be served at room temperature or gently warmed in a saucepan.

I did not make these indentations, but they look like an
exclamation point to me!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Growing Up Duggar Book Review

book cover

This is a good read.  I heard this book was coming out soon, so when it hit the shelves, I made a beeline for my local Lifeway Christian Bookstore, although I later came across copies of the same book (in hardback) at Barnes & Noble and (discounted) at my Kroger grocery store.

a really good place to shop for books, Bibles, greeting cards, music, Bible studies, and gifts

Although I wanted to read the book for myself, I bought my first copy for my granddaughter's upcoming birthday. I thought I'd preview the book first, then wrap and send it. However, my learning style is to underline words and phrases and make copious notes in the margins. I soon realized the material was good enough that I would need to have my own copy to keep and mark up.

The Duggar sisters who wrote this book together are the four eldest daughters of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, as seen on the TLC show, 19 KIDS AND COUNTING.  You may have seen their show on Tuesday evenings at 7pm Mountain Daylight Time (at least, that's when we catch it here in the greater Denver area).  These gals range in age from 24 to 20 and (as of this writing) are all still single, although at least two of them are in a courting relationship with some pretty nice-looking Christian men.

The subtitle for the book is "It's all about relationships" and they do a really fine job of explaining that.  Life in a family with so many children is interesting, of course, and so they wrote the book to share just how that works! 

The eight chapters and 234 pages explain relationships with self, parents, siblings, friends, boys, and God while including humorous and insightful anecdotes about their family life.  

While I, as a grandmother, learned much from these girls, perhaps the one overriding principle that struck me was how much effort their parents have devoted to teaching all of their children how to relate to God and others in a Biblical manner. You can't tell a child something just once and then expect them to remember and live it out.  You have to explain and share and listen and ask questions, gain their trust, show them love and affection … the book is a great lesson in parenting as well as getting a peek into their family life.

This family really does seek to live God's way. They take Biblical scripture literally and have discovered how to live it out practically in their family relationships and with their community. The pages of this book give the reader an understanding of why they do what they do and how they go about it. 

I was especially impressed with their story of how Michelle Duggar (the mother) learned to respond to anger with a quiet voice. She has taken to heart the verse in Proverbs 15:1, A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.

She has taught herself to respond with a quiet voice when she feels provoked to anger. This affects herself and the person who is causing her to feel angry, resulting in a cooling of the heated emotions and leading to calm actions. This is a fascinating illustration of the practicality of scripture.

The girls wrote about their personal interests, gifts, and abilities and how they are using them to serve others. A big emphasis in the family is on serving both at home and out-of-state and even internationally.  They have been very active with mission projects, political campaigns, the local fire department and in the medical field.

Perhaps this book was written with the adolescent girl in mind, sort of as what an older sister would say to a younger sibling, but at the same time, I read many principles that are helpful for my stage of life. Young people and their parents should read Growing Up Duggar and use it as a starting point for good conversations with each other.

When I was growing up, the four Lennon Sisters on the Lawrence Welk Show inspired me to be the best person I could be.  Jana, Jill, Jessa, and Jinger Duggar are excellent role models for today's girls.  

I will soon be gift-wrapping a copy of Growing Up Duggar for my eldest granddaughter. I hope some of my readers will do the same for the special young girls in their lives, too.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter Reprise with Chocolate

our dinner table the night before Easter Sunday

The foodie preparations for Easter began on Saturday with the setting of the table. We have been wonderfully blessed with a large dining room in our new house.

Easter morning dawned partly cloudy in Castle Rock with snow-covered mountains to the west. This past week our deck has been under construction. All that remains is for the steps to the ground and the railings to be added. We enjoyed getting to step out onto it this weekend and even pulled up a couple of chairs so we could just sit and drink in the views.

Dressed and ready for church -
 that's the Rocky Mountains beyond the houses behind us

We took turns posing for the camera in our Easter clothes, thrilled that this Easter was too warm for snow!  Beloved wore his new blue shirt sans a tie -- you know how casual church fashions have become. (I call it "snappy casual.")

My ensemble was fun to assemble, which included a stop at the thrift store to purchase the skirt a couple of weeks ago.  It's got a fancy J.Jill label sewn to the inside, but the price was only $6.99. The white sweater is a purchase from Christopher Banks, leftover from last spring, and the white camisole is a recent acquisition from Kohl's (also on sale). The shoes are Naturalizers that I wear only on Sundays and they are ancient but comfortable and have held up well.

Canyons Community Church 

After the brief photo session at home, we drove to church.  En route we saw the most amazing sight that we did not get to photograph. Pikes Peak, which is about 42 miles south as the crow flies from here, was covered with snow and the sun was reflecting off that snow in such a way that the mountain appeared to be iridescent -- incredibly beautiful! And so appropriate for Easter morn!

Beloved serves the Lord with pancake batter

We did not eat breakfast at home because pancakes were being served at church. However, we mistakenly arrived an hour early, which means we got to help make the food!  Beloved started out pouring the batter with his sport coat on, but quickly shed that and got very busy. My assignment was to pour the orange juice.

Collage from the Easter morning church service

The worship center was simply and appropriately decorated for the day. Our choir, Voices of the Canyons,  sang an arrangement by Tom Fettke that incorporated He is Lord, Our God Reigns, All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name, and Crown Him with Many Crowns. 

I have blotted out the faces of my fellow choir members since I've not asked their permission to post them on my blog.  There are several more of us that cannot be seen from the perspective of Beloved as he snapped this picture.

Easter Dinner place setting

Back at home after spending the morning at church, it was time to get Easter dinner onto the table. I love to use my late mother-in-law's dishes, Minuet by Bavarian China for Easter because of the color and pattern. The gold ring is fading from my younger married days when I didn't know such dishes should not be put into the dish washer.  Now I am much more careful to hand-wash these plates.

The dark rose napkins and silver napkin rings are Christmas gifts from my sister, and they sure went well with the color scheme!

Beloved, our son and his wife at Easter Dinner

Our son and his wife, who also live in Colorado, came for Easter dinner at our house. Such special times are made all the more enjoyable with family. While I provided the food, they brought the gorgeous arrangement of tulips!

my dinner plate

We are no longer heavy eaters around here, ever since weight loss has proved to be such a boost to our health and sense of well-being. On the menu was Honey Baked Ham, new red potatoes, green beans, a carrot slaw, and deviled eggs.  We also had dinner rolls, but since I eat gluten-free, there was no bread on my plate. Truth be told, I seldom eat bread products any more, even the gluten-free ones; and I don't miss it.

Carrot Slaw

This carrot-shaped dish (a gift from Mary) has come in handy a couple of times lately (see my recent post about Trail Mix).  It was perfect for the Carrot Slaw, made special for my son, who does not care for mayonnaise. I'll be posting the recipe for this dish at a later date.

"Heavenly Eggs"

We call these Deviled Eggs although I prefer what my friend Leah calls them, "Heavenly Eggs." What Easter dinner is complete without them, whatever they are called? I use the recipe I grew  up with from The Cook on Fifth Street (my mother): cooked egg yolk, French's yellow mustard, sugar to taste, and pickle juice added sparingly to keep the mixture from being too stiff. (this is a gluten-free recipe)

Fruit-infused water

My friend Diana introduced me to this way to serve water at a special dinner. It's a clear acrylic pitcher from Bed Bath and Beyond ($20) that has a slotted cylinder in the center. Fill that cylinder with cut-up fruit (lemon and mandarin orange this time), fill the pitcher with water, and then refrigerate. The fruit gently infuses the water with it's flavor.  

Alternately, you could put ice cubes into the cylinder which prevents the cubes from slipping into the water glasses.  At the very least, it looks very pretty on a special dinner table.

Chocolate Almond Butter Cups

Our dessert was small but a real delight. It's a take-off from Reese's Peanut Butter cups. The original recipe came from the Internet but I've changed it slightly to what you see here.

Chocolate Almond Butter Cups (makes 8-10)

1 cup smooth almond butter
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 Tablespoon Coconut oil
1 Tablespoon raw, unfiltered honey
1 cup chocolate chips, melted (use gluten-free)
small paper candy cups (the miniature cupcake papers)

Place almond butter, coconut, coconut oil, and honey in a food processor and puree until smooth and well-combined.

Place 8-10 small paper candy cups into the wells of a small muffin tin. Add a spoonful of the almond butter mixture into each one, then pour the melted chocolate on top of each one.  

Place the pan in the freezer for 30 minutes (or longer), until set.

To serve, remove the cups from the freezer 5 minutes before eating  to help soften the chocolate.  Note: if you take them out too soon, the almond butter mixture gets really soft and you'll need a spoon to scrape it off the paper.

Peel back the paper and enjoy!

As I type this, Easter Sunday is nearly over. Our company has left for their house and we are sitting in the family room listening to very hard rain and some thunder outside.  

It has been a beautiful day in so many ways.  We are thankful that Jesus Christ rose from the dead so that we can be raised to New Life and spend all of eternity in the Presence of our Lord.  

Tulips from the Kids

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Unprepared for Easter

preparing my Easter dinner table

I was in the fourth grade and had probably spent Saturday afternoon on my roller skates (the kind that clamped onto my saddle oxfords with the help of a special key worn around my neck on a string).  

That year my family lived in a huge apartment complex of many buildings connected with ribbons of wide concrete walks.  A small crowd of neighbor kids, both girls and boys, would skate with happy abandon for hours on end in and around the apartment buildings.  When we got tired, we would plop down on the green California grass and then resume our travel when our energy returned.  

It was Easter weekend, so the plan was for my mother to wash my hair and put it up in curlers before I went to bed.  The dress she had sewn for me was pressed and ready, so all that remained was to do was my hair.

I probably didn't drink enough water that day and got dehydrated because by evening I had a terrible headache.  I lay down on my bed and apparently fell deeply asleep.  My mother chose to not wake me since I obviously needed the rest.

Easter morning dawned beautiful, but my hair was not.  This was back in the days before blow dryers and electric curling irons were invented, so I had to go to church with less-than-pretty hair.  Even as a ten-year-old, that bothered me.

At least I had a new dress to wear, which looked even better with a net petticoat under the skirt to give it a fun flair.  But I didn't give  thought to the importance of wearing a soft slip between the scratchy net petticoat and the skin of my bare legs. The outcome of that was an uncomfortable experience of trying to sit still in church.

Nobody likes to feel unprepared, late, or at a loss for the big experiences of life. The memory of that Easter in my childhood has stayed with me.  I try hard to be ready for the big events in life, and as a result have accumulated stories of both success and failure because I'm just human and that's the way life is.

But there is one thing I know for certain that I am prepared to do and that is to meet my Maker, God Himself, when He calls me out of this earthly life. It won't matter if the end of my life is the culmination of a long illness or if it comes with no warning whatsoever. The issue of my eternity was settled long ago when I realized I wasn't good enough to get myself into heaven. I needed Jesus Christ.

Let us draw near to God
with a sincere heart and
with the full assurance that faith brings…
Hebrews 10:22

Now is the best time to prepare for eternity. If you want to read more about how to do that, I have written a short article about it. Click here to see it.

the empty tomb
photo credit
Have a blessed Easter!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Time for Trail Mix

Carrot Dish from Mary

Easter is nearly here, Spring has arrived, and that means before much longer, Denise and I will be hitting the hiking paths again. I have lost count how many long hikes we took last year, but we enjoyed them all, and at least once I supplied munchies for both of us.

When I first began to eat gluten-free, one of my first concerns was snacks, you know, those times when you need to set the strict diet aside to eat something salty and/or sweet.  I am usually content with a handful of fresh grapes and about 1/8 cup of nuts or some hard cheese, but sometimes I fall back on Trail Mix.

What I've discovered is that Trail Mix is so easy.  Open a box of cereal, combine that with some dark chocolate chips*, a container of nuts, and one or two kinds of dried fruit. Coconut is nice, too, if you happen to have any on hand. The hardest part is getting it thoroughly mixed together in a large bowl without spilling it onto the counter!

I use Rice Chex cereal since it's gluten-free.  In the mix that is pictured above, I used M&Ms for more color and because it was being taken to a church meeting.  As you probably already know, the M&Ms "melt in your mouth and not in your hand", per the old TV commercials.  (But I'm not convinced that they are gluten-free.)

This particular mix also has dried cranberries, dried pineapple, and a mixture of unsalted, roasted nuts from the health foods store. I can't give you specific amounts to use of each ingredient -- just however much you want.  I do think, however, that with this particular batch I should have used only half or 3/4 of the box of cereal.  

I keep the mix in an air-tight container in the pantry, but you can freeze it, too.  Serving it in a cute dish is always fun if you're serving it on movie night at home.

* Use gluten-free chocolate chips. Nestle's Toll House real semi sweet mini morsels are a good choice for this recipe.

Just a note here about packaged gluten-free foods:

Not all pre-package gluten-free foods will state that they are gluten-free on the front of the package.  If you are new to this game, take the time to always read the labels to determine if a product is gluten-free before paying for it (or you will pay for it!). If it does not specifically say "gluten free", it may or may not be.  

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker

book cover

In February one of my fellow Colorado bloggers over at Starwood Quilter encouraged us to read Jennifer Chiaverini's historical fiction, Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker. I found a copy at my local public library and enjoyed reading it during the cold winter evenings in front of the fireplace.  

It's just that -- a good read while cozied up under a quilt with maybe a bowl of trail mix within hand's reach.  The writing, typical of Ms. Chiaverini, is clean (no steamy bedroom scenes you wish you had not encountered) and decent language. She has written at least 23 novels and is well-known in the quilting world for her Elm Creek Quilts novels. 

This story, Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker, is about Elizabeth Keckley who was born a slave, bought her own freedom, and then proceeded to build a successful dressmaking business that eventually brought her to the White House during the presidency of Abraham Lincoln. 

Much Civil War history is covered within these pages, reminding me of information long forgotten since my school days. Many names of famous military and political figures are brought into the story along with some interesting details of their lives, habits, and activities.  Perhaps what stood out to me the most was the tragedy of families and friends split apart by that ugly war.

I wanted to read this book to get some understanding of Mary Todd Lincoln. I wanted to know more about the woman who behind the scenes had influence over such a powerful man as Abraham Lincoln. What I learned was interesting reading that brought out strong life lessons (many of them quite harsh), evident by choices she made throughout her life.

Ms. Chiaverini is well-known in the quilting world for her books, her quilting designs, and her line of Red Rooster Fabrics. She is a very accomplished young woman as a writer, designer, and businesswoman, in addition to being married with children.

I recommend Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini to those who enjoy reading historical fiction with themes about sewing, quilting, politics, and matters important to women.

Monday, April 14, 2014

3 Gifts Found Looking Up

Today's Joy Dare from Ann Voskamp is to be thankful for "3 Gifts Found Looking Up."  What a fun challenge this is!

My first one is the ceiling fan in our great room.  It's not running now because we are at that time of year when the sunshine is warm one day and we've got rain-mixed-with-snow the next.  But the time will come in a couple of months or so when this fan will be running all the time! I'm thankful for it!

My second one is the traffic signals that help vehicles to maintain law and order.  I have seen on television and movies how chaotic traffic can be in other countries.  I'm always grateful for the orderliness of our traffic.  I realize much of our traffic leaves a lot to be desired, but generally speaking, we've got a good thing going with our traffic systems. This is something easily overlooked but today I am registering my gratitude for it.

My third "Gift Found Looking Up" is our nation's flag.  Our country has its faults and we need to be praying for our government leaders daily, but this is still the best place to live in all of the world.  I thank God for the privilege of being an American!

Sunday, April 13, 2014


Have you noticed how popular it is to post welcome signs everywhere? We see them for shops and other businesses, on front porches and inside homes. 

Welcome is supposed to be a message of warmth of spirit, inviting people to be with us, encouraging them to feel at ease and to join us in our place.

I sometimes wonder if people really mean it. What about when they are confronted with salesmen  political petitioners, religious missionaries, and such?  In all honesty I don't appreciate these unscheduled interruptions of my time at the privacy of my front door. And yet like many other people, a Welcome sign, has often been placed decoratively on my porch.

On this Palm Sunday I am reminded of Jesus' entry into Jerusalem on a donkey. The townspeople had come to recognize him as their deliverer, the one who would finally set them free from an oppressive Roman government. They laid palm branches across the road and hailed him with great joy.  There were smiles and singing with great expectation in their welcome of him.

But within just a few short days they realized he was not the conqueror they thought. He claimed to be their king, but of a spiritual realm, not an earthly conquest.  They were unprepared for this and before the week was out, they had him cruelly hung on a cross.

What does Jesus mean to us today? Do we welcome Him and what He wants to do in our lives? 

The thief comes only to steal and
kill and destroy;
I have come that they may have life,
and have it to the full.

John 10:10 NIV