14 December 2014

Third Sunday in Advent - 2014

Rejoice!
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The Third Sunday of Advent is often called the sunday of Joy, of Journeying, of Repentance.  In some places, it is the Sunday of Rejoicing.

This has been a difficult week, and to think of rejoicing, even harder.  A dear friend and co-worker from Arizona took her life this week.  Everyone who knew her is devastated and overwhelmed as this was a lovely lady whom all loved.  She had a kind and gentle heart, was warm and loving to all and always had a smile for everyone.  That she was in such pain or desperation as to take her own life seems incongruent with the person that we knew.  

This is also the second Sunday of December, which has lately become a day to light a candle in remembrance of the children of bereaved parents, grandparents and siblings.   Working in the field that I do, while there is much joy, sometimes there is great sadness as well.  The grief these family bear is so great, and too often, unacknowledged by their family and friends.    

How does one find the ability to rejoice in the midst of such sadness and grief?  

In the case of my friend, I know that she loved Jesus deeply.  I believe that Jesus welcomed her into his arms and held her in the depths of her sorrow and despair until that hurt was gone and replaced by the light of his love for her.  Though she will be deeply missed by those she left behind, and though I do not understand her actions or what it was that led her to take her life, I do know that she was a child of God and what greater joy can there be than to know that she is with her Father God and at peace?  

We rejoice because we know that:

God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16

In this, the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.
1John 4:9

Christ is our Joy!  It is Jesus the Christ in whom we rejoice! 

Due to a busy week at work, and preparing for our annual Christmas party, this weeks Pincushion is not yet complete.  I will be sure to share photos of it and list a new giveaway contest when it is finished!

The winner of the Second Advent Pincushion is Giarda!   Please send me your full name and mailing address!

FYI, in order to choose a winner, I remove any comments from previous winners, count only one comment from each commenter and then number all the entries in the order which they were received.  To choose the winner, I use a random number generator and the first number chosen is the winner!  

07 December 2014

Second Sunday in Advent 2014

News of Great Joy!

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The second candle is lit on this second Sunday in Advent.  The second candle often represents the themes of Peace, Preparation, Patience or Acceptance.  As Elizabeth and Zechariah came to accept that they would have a son whose name would be called John and who would prepare the way of the coming Lord; and as Mary accepted that she was the handmaid of God and would bear his Holy son Jesus - God come to earth in person, so we too come to accept the gift of God's only Son who came to save us from our sins and lead us to life eternal with God.  

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When you think of the Christmas story, how does the story go in your mind?

A couple of years ago, I went back to the Christmas story as found in Matthew and Luke.  I read with a fresh eye, trying to read them as if I'd never read them before.  I tried to keep the mythology and tradition that has grown up around the stories at bay, to read it without the hype and folklore that has been added over the years. 

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Though familiar with the story and the scriptures from my youth, I was shocked to find that many of the things I took for granted about the story of the birth of Jesus were never mentioned, that they were things that have been added or surmised by humankind over the years since.  

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There is nothing in the scriptures of Mary riding a donkey from Nazareth to Bethlehem.  There is nothing said of a frantic search for a place to stay.  There is nothing about a stable full of animals.  There is nothing said of the shepherds seeing the star over Bethlehem or of angels singing, or even of the wise men coming to see the newborn Jesus where he was laid in the manger (though they did come to see him when he was somewhat older and the family was living in a house in Bethlehem).  Yet in our minds, these things are all part of the Christmas story.  

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Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way.  When his mother Mary had been betrothed [legally pledged to be married] to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.  And her husband Joseph, be a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.  But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people form their sins.”  All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” [Isaiah 7:14] (which means, God with us).  
When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son.  And he called his name Jesus.                
Matthew 1: 18-24


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In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.  This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria.  And all went to be registered, each to his own town.  And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.  And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth.  And she gave birth to her first born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. 
           
And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear.  And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.”  And suddenly there was the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”  And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.  And when they saw it, they made known the saying that been told them concerning this child.  And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.  But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.  And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. 

And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.                  
Luke 2: 1-21


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What we learn of Jesus from these two short passages of scripture is profound.

- Jesus was born to save us from our sins.  (Sin is that which separates us from God.)
- Jesus is God with us.
- Jesus was born a savior, he is Christ the Lord.
- This is news of great joy!
- The birth of Jesus is a gift for all people.

News of Great Joy indeed!

Front of House
The winner of the First Advent Pincushion is 
Sherry in Little Rock!  
She wrote: 
Lisa, your words and your work are both lovely and inspiring! I enjoy your blog so much and look forward to every post and picture. I'm wishing you every blessing during this Christmas season!

Thank you Sherry!  Please let me know your address so I can mail the pincushion to you! (there is a link in the sidebar that says, "Send a Note" which has my e-mail address in it!)

When I was creating this week's pincushion, I was struck with the thought of the angels sharing this news of great joy and with how the glory of the Lord surrounded the shepherds.  One of the seams is somewhat reminiscent of angels and I added a small beaded angel and several stars.   It was a lot of fun to go through the Christmas decorations and find angels from both my and my mother's collections to use in the photos!  

To enter a drawing for this week's pincushion, please leave a comment on this post!   I have enabled commenting as an anonymous user, but please be sure to leave your name in the comment box so I know who the comment is from!  Please note that comment moderation is turned on for all posts older than 10 days, so if you leave a comment on an older post, you will not see it until I have approved it.  That can take a few days with my work schedule!  

Side of House
This past week, my son Stephen helped me put lights up around the house!  I love the way they look!  So nice to have sons who are capable of climbing up and down ladders as I am not at all comfortable on them!   Today my daughter is here making jelly and baking cookies!  A joy to have her here!

30 November 2014

First Sunday in Advent 2014

First Advent - Holiness

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On this first Sunday in Advent, we light the first candle in preparation of the coming of the Christ Child.  This candle often symbolizes Hope, Anticipation or Expectation. Thus begins our journey through the Christmas season to prepare our hearts to accept and acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God, come to earth to save us from our sinful nature and to develop a personal relationship with each one of us.  It also reminds us of the hope, anticipation and expectation we have in the coming return of Jesus.   

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As I considered what themes I wanted to use in my Advent meditations this year, the word that kept coming up was Holiness and how God is holy.  Webster's defines something holy as being "set apart"; sacred; as something commanding absolute adoration and reverence; meriting veneration or awe; and as being spiritually pure.  

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Too often in this day and age, we treat God as someone who is "buddy-buddy" with us.  We have brought him down to our level, when in reality, we should fall at his feet in humility and lowliness.  We live in a culture that believe that we are all "special" that we each are worthy and deserving, that we should have it all.  If we are "all that", then why would we need God in our lives?  Our prayers reflect our selfishness and we expect to receive what we ask for, be it money, health, prestige or some other selfish request.   

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When we view God as no more than a vendor or provider of our desires, then we no longer view him as Holy but instead have turned him into a lowly merchant, a Santa Claus if you will, whom we provide with a list and expect to get what we want in return for a plate of milk and cookies.  

Is it any wonder that as the world watches those of us who are believers in Christ turn mercenary, that they no longer respect the God in whom we believe?  That even as believers, we have lost sight of the power and omnipotence of of God the Almighty?  

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During this Holiday season, I encourage you to remember and to share with others, the holiness of God. 

Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty,
who was and is and is to come!
Revelation 4:8b

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Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things, 
and by your will they existed and were created. 
Revelation 4:11

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Blessed be his glorious name for ever;
may his glory fill the whole earth! Amen and Amen!
Psalm 72:19

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Holy, Holy, Holy

Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee;
Holy Holy, Holy!  Merciful and Mighty!
God in three persons, blessed Trinity!

Holy, Holy, Holy! All the saints adore Thee,
Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
Cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee,
Who wert and art, and evermore shalt be.

Holy, Holy, Holy! Though the darkness hid Thee,
Though the eye of sinful man They glory may not see,
Only Thou art holy; there is none beside Thee
Perfect in power, in love, and purity.


Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty!
All Thy works shall praise They Name, in earth and sky and sea;
Holy Holy, Holy!  Merciful and Mighty!
God in three persons, blessed Trinity!
Words by Reginal Heber, melody by John B. Dykes


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Throughout the Advent season, I will be having a small give-away each week in celebration of Christmas, when God, the great giver, gifted us with the most precious gift, the gift of his Son in order that we might be made holy in God's sight and enter his presence.   

My small gift pales in comparison, but I pray it will bring blessings upon whoever receives it.  Please leave a comment that includes your name and/or e-mail address before midnight, mountain standard time on Saturday, December 6, 2014 to be entered.  

This week's gift is the pincushion featured in the photos above.  It is created using wide mouth canning jar lids as a base, making it 3 1/2" in diameter and 2" tall.  It is my hope to create one for each week of Advent, God willing!  There will be a new drawing each week.  A number will be assigned to each comment and a random number generator will be used to choose the winner. The winner will be announced with each Sunday's Advent meditation and mailed the following week.    Best Wishes! 

24 November 2014

The Doldrums [Too many irons in the fire]

The doldrums have hit big-time for me this month.  The creative muse, which was so prolific through the past few months, appears to have taken a leave of absence.  The few days that I've had off have been spent mostly at the computer or sitting, vegeing (how do you spell that, anyway?) out in front of the TV watching movies on Netflix. 

I think it actually has to do with too many irons in the fire, which then makes it difficult to decide what to work on.  It becomes so overwhelming, that it's easier to just leave things be and ignore them.  I imagine that this is how hoarding starts... when the mess becomes overwhelming to deal with, so instead of fixing the problem, it just gets added to until there is little hope of recovery.  In looking over these photos, I definitely have a problem with "project hoarding"!  It's time to get off the fence and make something happen.  At the very least, I need to not start any more projects until a few of these major ones are complete!  (I did join in on the CQJP 2015 though, so that will mean 12 blocks to be created over the coming year!) 

Here's a look at some of the projects that are overwhelming me at the moment. 

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First there are the Crazy Quilting projects.  I have always had a huge unfinished handwork basket, but it seems to have grown exponentially this year, despite doing my best to finish up some old things. As much as I love participating in round robins, I think I need to focus more on my own work this coming year.  The trick is staying motivated when there are no deadlines!

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Then there is the seemingly never ending Family Cookbook project.  The latest part of this has been going through my mother's cookbooks (4 1/2 boxes worth!) to find some of the recipes that we wanted to include.  Things she made all the time, but weren't in her recipe boxes. 

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Needless to say, it takes time to carefully scan through this many cookbooks.  And in the process, we found still more recipe boxes to go through.  There have also been many e-mails to family members asking for specific recipes to add, reminders, and then inputting all these recipes into the same format that can be used in the cookbook. 

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There won't be a lot of photos in the cookbook, but I wanted a few for some of the header pages, so that involves making the item and setting it up for photography.  I love this part of creating the cookbook!  I had hoped to have this cookbook finished in time to give as Christmas gifts this year, but it's not going to happen as there is still far too much to do to complete it in time. 

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Then there are the other book projects I am working on.  I just completed putting the 2013 entries for my blog into book form.  Those are easy books as they are usually just a matter of cutting and pasting.  But I'm also working on two or three other book projects and each of them involves writing or compiling different writings into one cohesive format.  So there is lots of proofreading and re-writing happening. 

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One of the books is a Blurb Book where I am compiling some of my blog's Christmas/Advent meditations (and adding to it).  I had also hoped to have this one done and available for purchase prior to Thanksgiving, but it looks like it will take me most of December to complete it.  I'll keep you posted on when it will be available! 

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With my daughter's marriage this summer, I now have a mostly empty room on the main floor of my house.  I'd love to move my sewing room up here from the basement.  Right now, Miss Kitzy Cat is the primary resident of this room and she rarely leaves it, so it will be good to have me using the room too so that she gets more attention.  Since we painted the room when we moved in, I don't really want to repaint at this time.  I must admit that grey is just about my least favorite color (orange takes the top disliked color spot).  I just find it depressing, so it's a bit of a challenge to figure out how to use the grey but make it a happier/peaceful place for me.  I'm debating on using soft pink and yellow with it, or going with green, brown and white for a soft woodland theme to the room (which is what I'm strongly leaning towards at the moment).  I want to make some crazy quilted curtain tiebacks to provide the room's focal point ~ yet another project!

2014.11.24Plans
I'm such a visual person, that any room change involves lots of sketches and floor-plan ideas, as well as tons of lists.  The goal is to get this room together by the end of December.  Jessie still has to pick up some of her furniture and pack up some things in the closet.  Once the new sewing room is complete, then I'll have the old sewing room in the basement to turn into a fabulous guest room for when my Sister and her hubby come to visit!  That will be yet another project, also with another crazy quilt project to be completed as the focal point for that room!

2014.11.24Studio
Another thing that probably has slowed the creative muse down at the moment is the total chaos of my studio stitching space!  It went from a creativity inspiring mix to suddenly out of control!  When the sewing room gets moved upstairs into Jessie's old room, all of this will become part of that room.  Then I'll have my painting studio back, which I'm really looking forward to as I've been missing having access to my easel! 

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I did manage to get blocks made and sent out for two new round robins.  This set of grey blocks will eventually be for my daughter and are going to be embellished in a Steam-Punk theme! 

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I made this piece thinking I might use it for my Christmas card stitchery.  But then I decided to do something different,  which isn't going to happen in time anyway, so I decided to remake it into my Mini DYB Blocks for another round robin. 

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I cut them up in to triangles to create a wintry woodland themed bunting to hang from my mantle.  I will add some semi-ciruclar flags as well.  

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The juncos finally arrived a couple weeks ago and within 24 hours there was cold and snow!  Winter must truly be here even though the calendar still says it is autumn! I love having them though - such pretty birds!

And I just realized that with the Holidays upon us, it's time to put away the fall decor and decorate the house for Christmas!  There are a few Christmas gifts in the works to finish up as well.  Where the time will come from for all that needs to be done, I have no idea.  My work schedule is absolutely crazy these days with extra training that we've been doing and the need to complete two different certifications before mid December, not to mention all the usual household and yard upkeep that needs doing.  No wonder I'm overwhelmed! 

Guess that means it is time to make the best of my ONE day off this week and go be productive.  I think I'll start by cleaning my stitching studio. 

05 November 2014

Fan Block for Connie K.

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With this block finished at last, I have completed all the round robins that I've been stitching in for the last many months.  This is Connie K's fan block.  I am the last to stitch on her blocks and had my choice of a blue fan or a pink fan.  I've been on rather a blue streak lately, so that's the one I chose! 

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Here is the block before embellishment.  Connie asked us to not embellish the outer velvet portion and gave us the option to do something with the lace if we chose.  

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I focused on the fan seams to start with.  A feather stitched seam with a bluebell theme on the two center seams and some leafy scallops with white flowers for the outer. 

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For the inside corner, I stitched a spider web rose.  The greens are more green than this photo shows! 

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For the lace, I added some small fargo roses of ribbon that I had dyed when I was working on my daughter's wedding ring pincushion.  It was too dark for that, but was just perfect for this block!   I also added some vintage "shell" ric rac trim that I had.  

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Overall, I'm really happy with how this block turned out and hope that Connie likes it too!

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Here are all the blocks after my work.  The stitchers include Lisa A., Thearica, Judy D., Gerry K., and myself. Now the blocks head home to Connie K.!  

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With the unusual shape of the blocks, I've been pondering how Connie will put them together.  This is what I would do with them if they were mine!  

I've been having trouble getting my camera to focus properly lately, despite cleaning lenses and everything else that I can think of. There are many slightly out of focus photos as a result. Time to save up for a new camera I think!  This camera has taken nearly 70,000 photos since I got it back in 2009!  It's given nearly flawless performance in all that time.  I'd love to upgrade to a "pro" level camera, but they are heavier and significantly pricier, so I have to do some hard thinking about what to get! 

Thanksgiving thought for the day: 

The Lord is my strength and my shield;
in him my heart trusts;
So I am helped, and my heart exults,
and with my song I give thanks to him. 
Psalm 28:7

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