12 February, 2016

DeRailed, With A Bonus

DeRailed  ~ 64" X 80"
All the blocks are ready and on the design wall, I've renamed this one DeRailed. Originally begun to jump-start my piecing, and called "Rustic Rails", this was a fun and productive diversion that has aided in breaking through my piecer's block and clearing the deck for other projects. Those of you who know me will understand that I love precision and rules; I like plannning and control of the project. This quilt isn't about any of those things, it's all about letting go! The pattern comes from Sujata Shah's Cultural Fusion Quilts book, the contents of which include patterns and inspiration for 15 free-form block projects.  DeRailed has actually put me back on track. The freedom found in piecing large blocks combined with an unrestricted cutting approach has been liberating; just what I needed! I hope to get back to a few UFO's here shortly, in more of my typical style. In the meantime, DeRailed has yielded yet another  side benefit: a bonus quilt top! Sewn L-E style while assembling the rails this charm tumbler, TMX2~#2 , will most likely be loaded and quilted next. It joins its sister quilt, TMX2 (The More The Merrier), completed last summer. They are both destined to become car quilts.
 TMX2~#2  56" X 68" 

Take a lesson from me. Are you on track? Does your piecing seem stale and uninspired all of a sudden? If so, you might want to try something completely new and unpredictable. Shake it up!  I did; and, for me, it's made all the difference!
Life is Good!

11 February, 2016

Cases For Smiles

There were lots of smiles yesterday afternoon at my LQS. These wonderful ladies gathered together for a few hours to stitch up bright and cheerful pillowcases for children hospitalized with cancer. We used this pattern included on the website Ryan's Case for Smiles. I am SEW grateful to my favorite quilt shop for donating space and supplies for this worthwhile project... just think of the smiles-to-come generated by this generous and loving act of kindness! 
Life is Good!

08 February, 2016

Challenging Myself... Reaching New Heights!

I spent this past weekend in the mountains of North Carolina with our daughter and approximately 120 other women, sisters in faith. We studied God's word together, prayed together, ate together, played games and explored nature together and, above all, learned to trust in God's promise together, as women have done since Old Testamant times.  The recurring theme of the weekend was trust; how we can apply that trust to our decision making processes, to the risks we face and to the challenges we rise up to meet... our own, personal, leaps of faith! The building where we met is equipped with a climbing wall. We were offered the opportunity on Saturday afternoon to sign up for a climbing session, to challenge ourselves and trust in what was being provided for us. I like a challenge. And yet... I wasn't entirely sure if this was something I could do. I weighed my options, all the while reflecting on what we were learning through the decision making process based on the teaching of St. Ignatius. I identified my fears and opened myself up to what was new, what challenged me as a child of God to look beyond my own personal agenda and desires. I decided to leap... to reach beyond self-imposed limits and open myself up to trust. I said a prayer and donned a climbing helmet.
The climb was hard work, strenuous (for me); it's difficult to know where to step and where to grab for pulling up. I was totally reliant on my belayer below to give me cues: "reach up with your right hand for the yellow", even though I was right there on the wall my focus was fully about holding on! Isn't this how our God operates when we place our trust in Him? He will guide our steps, our every hand-hold, if only we will open our ears to listen for, and have faith in, His word.
Even though I  broke loose from the hand holds and swung free numerous times, I didn't give up; I did come close though. The good news is that I was continually encouraged to keep on... to grab again, to pull up, to "frog up" with my legs, to keep going. Here I am reaching out for the topmost grab on the wall. This was an exhilerating experience! I will think about this challenge for a long time to come. How much easier it would have been to give up and how happy I am that I didn't. God continues to place challenges before me... how much easier is it to stay within my own comfort zone? What do I risk, how much do I miss, by setting limitations? A lot! This climbing wall showed me the way to rethink the choices before me. "Every choice we make, no matter how small, is an opportunity to align ourselves with God's will."  What new heights are awaiting you?
Life is Good!

04 February, 2016

Pillowcase Love

Pillowcase Valentines for my littlest loves... sweet dreams ahead.
Life is Good!

02 February, 2016

Mountain Day At Last!

At long last, "Mountain Day" is a quilt!  Spurred on by a friend who was in the same class with me (Spinning Stars by Augusta Cole) at Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival three years ago, I have brought my quilt to completion... just as she has done. I used an alternate setting pattern for my blocks. Don't we all need friends like this, ones who call us into action through their own good works? I quilted this scrappy treasure with a lovely gold colored thread. The inspiration for this quilt was an annual occurrence, "Mountain Day", during my college years in Montpelier, Vermont. You can read about that happy memory here; it was quite an event. I can still recall that joy today... having this quilt is a tangible souvenir of those glorious mountain memories, complete with blazing color from the countless Maple trees that dotted the mountainsides. To me, setting the blocks to form peaks upon peaks reminds me of those long-range layered views.
Mountain Day ~ 60" X 72"
Mountain Day ~ the back. Those woodland trees are a blaze of color!
Close up of the quilting on the back of Mountain Day. Timeless Maple Leaf panotgraph.
Hannes... the world's best quilt model; he looks great on every. single. one!
Life is Good!

30 January, 2016

From My Heart

There is someting on my mind today, something I want to bring forth to you from my heart. I've shared a lot here over the last (almost) ten years: the courtship and eventual wedding of our youngest, the births of our grandchildren, illnesses, injuries, crises, childhood memories, family, home improvements, travel journals, the adventures of Hannes, celebrations, nature, victories, failures, books, movies, friends and faith to name a few; oh, and quilts... so many quilts! If you think that this post is going to be more of the same, you would be wrong. Today I am going to share something new, something that is deeply personal, the subject of which is likely to appear in upcoming posts and I want you to hear the back-story here first and not be confused. When I was growing up my mother taught me never to discuss two subjects in mixed company: politics and religion. I have never touched either one of those here, until today; and it won't be politics!

Our family has been a member of the same church since 1975. My husband even longer, he was a member as a child, in the mid 1960's. We moved away for job relocations and returned, as he had when he was a boy, always to the same church. Our children grew up there; were baptized, confirmed, married and their babies were baptized there... at the same font where their parents were welcomed into God's family. Our friends are there, relationships developed over decades of raising children together, fellowship activities and serving God on a myriad of committees together. We have strong relationships with our Pastors there, and the staff. And yet, given all of that, I felt strongly this past summer that God was calling me away from that place. It is hard to write, even now, how painful that realization was. I rationalized, I bargained, I struggled, I cried, I even tried to ignore God's nudge. It was impossible. My husband felt the same calling, his response was the same. We prayed; separately, and together, for clear discernment. What is this type of discernment we prayed for, you might ask. Well, one of the best definitions of it, in the Biblical sense, is found here:

From Grace To You by John MacArthur:
The key to living an uncompromising life lies in one's ability to exercise discernment in every area of his or her life. For example, failure to distinguish between truth and error leaves the Christian subject to all manner of false teaching. False teaching then leads to an unbiblical mindset, which results in unfruitful and disobedient living-a certain recipe for compromise. 
Unfortunately, discernment is an area where most Christians stumble. They exhibit little ability to measure the things they are taught against the infallible standard of God's Word, and they unwittingly engage in all kinds of unbiblical decision-making and behavior. In short, they are not armed to take a decidedly biblical stand against the onslaught of unbiblical thinking and attitudes that face them throughout their day.
Discernment intersects the Christian life at every point. And God's Word provides us with the needed discernment about every issue of life. According to Peter, God "has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence" (2 Peter 1:3). You see, it is through the "true knowledge of Him," that we have been given everything we need to live a Christian life in this fallen world. And how else do we have true knowledge of God but through the pages of His Word, the Bible? In fact, Peter goes on to say that such knowledge comes through God's granting "to us His precious and magnificent promises" (2 Peter 1:4).
I don't believe it was a coincidence that my husband and I felt led away at the same time. There are no coinidences with God. And yet, at the time, I didn't recognize that. After counsel with church leaders, crying gallons of tears and feeling as though we were being physically torn in two, we did leave our beloved church. "What now, God? This is scary!"
Through God's grace a new mission church has begun. It's not been easy, but God has been there directing every step; support has been supplied generously at each turn. Tomorrow will be the fourth scheduled worship service. We are in a temporary location right now and have had our share of hiccups along the way. At the inaugural worship service the organ decided to die near the conclusion of the first hymn. And yet, God's faithful people rose and sang, unaccompanied. On the second Sunday it began snowing about an hour before worship began. And yet, God's faithful people came. Last Sunday the service had to be cancelled due to snow and icy road conditions. And yet, God's people move forward; with His help and guidance, He is there with us in the Sunday School program and at Women's Bible Study. I share all of this with you today because I feel led to do so. This blog chronicles my life and faith and represents who Mrs. Goodneedle is, this new chapter is simply just too big, too good, not to share! Has the road thus far been easy? Absolutely not. From a personal standpoint, I still grieve the loss of what was, as does my husband. Has this move been worth the pain? Yes!, there is nothing but joy and excitement in our hearts and souls over what is!  God has richly blessed this new mission church. There is no doubt in my mind that stepping out in faith was exactly the right thing to do at this time. God had already chosen the path. Please join us in prayer for the future of Grace Lutheran Church. We give thanks for all that He has done and all that is to come.
Life is Good!

29 January, 2016

A Lowly Chunk of Snow

What a difference a week makes. Just seven days ago we awoke to a winter wonderland and were bracing for what was being touted as "snowmageddon" by the weather forecasters. We didn't get as much as we were prepared for but it was enough for slipping, siding and sledding; and... it was beautiful. Today, with the thermometer nudging fifty degrees, there are quickly melting souvenirs cast to and fro. And so, what lessons can be learned from a lowly chunk of snow such as this one?
* To everything there is a season, and a time to every matter under heaven. Ecclesiates 3:1  Nothing lasts forever, so enjoy (or endure) it while you can (or must). That goes for snow, small babies, Christmas cookies, pain and heartache. Tomorrow is another day, God willing, for every one of us.
*We're not in control. Nope, certainly not us: not the local weatherman, or the anchor man or anyone in government or politics, not the doctor, not even our smartest, most trusted and organized friend; only God is in control. All the forces of nature are in His control, this knowledge brings great joy to my heart and a smile to my lips. And yes, I was reminded of all of this today while pondering a lowly chunk of snow; thanks be to God!
Life is Good!