Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Why I wait for February...

I wait all year for a new February.
In February I find myself better able to plan sensibly for the week, month or year ahead because I'm finally rested in spirit, thought, heart and body after the close of last year and a busy start to this new one.

In February I breathe deeply, despite the intense heat and humidity of a tropical summer, and set my thoughts to what truly matters and whether there are changes I can make to simplify life a little more.

I choose to stroll around the house and not rush from room to room or task to task.

I'm more intentional about what I do each day so I can enjoy the fullness of a chore or project rather than trying to juggle too many things at once, and I even allow the inner delight of satisfaction a moment to boast within my heart because it reminds me how good it feels when I stay on track and see something through to completion.

Another joy for February is the return of the birds just outside the dining room window.
Kookaburras are my favourite of all God's feathered sky fliers and usually they signal rain is on the way, which proved correct after this fellow's visit yesterday...

Last night it rained like it hasn't rained in three years and we were able to open wide the windows, turn off the air conditioning, and slumber in cool breezes that rushed through our home from one side to the other with the constant pelt of water from the sky as our lullaby. 

February is also my most contemplative month of the year.

Perhaps because it's my birthday soon and there's a sense of looking back in order to see forward?
 Even though sorrows and trials have left a wrecking yard of evidence behind me, a deep well of gratefulness nourishes the soil of my soul because there has also been so much good, so much life, and so much love stamped over the story of my life - and climbing the mountain of gratefulness is far more wonderful and mood-enhancing than dwelling in the valley of sorrows.

In February I tend to watch movies that stir my contemplative thoughts.
In 'How to Make an American Quilt' I'm deeply moved by the stories of each character, of the life choices they made and the ramifications over the course of their lives and how they reflect those emotions into a quilt.
I've watched this movie about twenty times and always come away learning something new about myself, or discovering an attitude that needs to change in my own character...

Sophia resonates with me more than any other, and it's from her story I first discovered that discontent can rob you of joy, and of the need to delight in what you have right 'now'.

After all this time I finally decided to purchase the book and read the author's version, and you know what I discovered? After each chapter of the story there is a small 'instructions' chapter on quilting...

I think I'll enjoy this novel as my February read - after I watch the movie one more time...

Do you have a month that you look forward to?
What does it bring to your life?

There's a good deal of food preparation going on in our home this month, and yesterday I shared the recipe for these on my other blog...

 The recipe is in the blog post HERE and there's also a link for you to download and print it up for your own recipe folder.

May you enjoy a fine and fruitful February,

Sunday, February 7, 2016

What holds you back from asking?

Have you ever stood and watched small children at the supermarket checkout eagerly asking mummy if they could have one of the lollipops or chocolate bars brightly displayed along the edge of the counter?

Young ones don't agonise over whether or not they should ask, they don't fear a 'no' response - they see, they want, and they ask. Simple as that. They don't play mental mind games with themselves the way we big people do.

I'm not good at asking anything for myself, in fact it's only been during the course of this past year that I've been brave enough to enlist help from tall strangers in the supermarket aisle to retrieve products I want from the top shelf. And you know, not once has my plea been declined. 

It's been an interesting experience to ponder my life thus far and imagine all the wonderful opportunities, conversations, relationships and experiences that I have missed out on because I couldn't 'ask'.

The flip side is that I ask a lot of myself, do a lot myself and find it natural to give a lot of myself, with the result that seasons of burn-out and extreme adrenaline depletion are increasing and I'm taking longer to recover from them.

So why am I doing so much myself and not asking for help?

Pride in being self-sufficient and appearing capable, fear of a negative response, not wanting to be a nuisance? All three I think, and probably more reasons I'm yet to uncover.

Here's an example of my pride:
In a practical sense, if I'm exhausted with too many things to do there's no use complaining and whining, wishing the work go away or I'd have more energy to accomplish it, because the sensible and humble thing is to ask for help from those close to me and accept their help. You see, the answer is right in front of me but my pride holds me back.

But it's not just in day to day relationships and opportunities of life that I've lacked asking. It's in my relationship with God as well.

Remember the Sermon on the Mount? 
Jesus taught thousands that day and as we read in Matthew 7:7 one of the teachings He gave was the instruction for people to ASK. When I grasped this verse anew it was comforting (and confronting) because I realised I'm not alone in this problem, and it's not a new 21st century personality flaw either.

Two thousand years ago Jesus needed to remind His people to ask God for all their needs.
Today, in God's living Word, He still reminds us to ask.

What are you not asking for?
What are your needs?
What do you want?

Is it time to come before the throne of grace and lay all your cares at the foot of Jesus and ASK for what you truly need or want?
Maybe you think it's too much, right up there on the top shelf? 
Hey, sweet child of God, He can reach it for you. It may not be the brand you thought you wanted, and it may look a little different to what you imagined, but be assured that what He gives to you will be the best He has for you.

And don't forget, just like that small child, it's not just about asking for answers to the heavy things in life. You can ask God for fun things too. He's your gracious Daddy who loves to give good gifts to His children. Maybe you've forgotten that like I did.

Let's put aside our pride and fears and start asking, okay? Our Father is all ears...


Thursday, February 4, 2016

Block 2 "Gentle Domesticity" BOM...

I know it's a day early, but I think presents which arrive unexpected are the best ones. 

I don't know about you but I find December and January to be busy months.
December sees us winding up commitments for the year just gone, partnered with the rush and flurry of Christmas and relatives and giving and receiving.
January requires the winding down and the putting away of our festive activities and social gatherings, alongside a need to put in place fresh plans and routines for the year ahead. 

For many of us the ending of one year and start of another can be quite exhausting. 

So as February's page is flicked over on the calendar I let out a great sigh of relief and breathe more deeply than I have in ages, and I seek time to revive...

 This month's "Gentle Domesticity" block reminds us that we are each very important, and need to take time after seasons of busyness, illness, emotional stress, weather extremes and other wearying times to REVIVE our souls.

 "How can I do that?" you ask.

Well, we're all different beings so what I do and what you would choose to do may look nothing alike, but I suggest you begin by setting aside some personal time for reflection and see where that leads.

Here's a few 'revive' ideas...

Plan an hour or two alone with soft music, a cup of your favourite brew, the phone switched to silent, a scented candle flickering beside you, and pen and paper for recording your thoughts.

Take a solo drive out into the countryside with a thermos of cocoa, thick cut sandwiches with your favourite filling, a blanket and your camera.

Walk barefoot along the shoreline just listening to the waves and the gulls. Let the waves and sand wriggle in and out of your toes. Breathe in, breathe out, and let it all go.

Perhaps you need sleep? Put fresh sheets on the bed, have a long and luxurious bath, pop your favourite pajamas on, and spend a whole day napping and reading without any distractions. 

Soak those weary feet in warm water with a little lavender or peppermint oil and lay your head back on a cushion letting the oils work their magic while you listen to an audio book. Then continue the personal pampering by giving yourself a pedicure or manicure or both.

Do you know what revives me when the world has left me empty?

In winter it is a day spent up the mountain with my camera, trees, birds, and lots of tea, but at this time of year in the Australian tropics it's too hot to go there, so I lock the doors after Mr E goes to work and then I potter around the house in my pajamas all day long with no 'to do' list, no distractions, no phone calls or emails, no people, no work. 

I watch old movies, paint my toenails, brew pots of tea, read, snack on comfort food, and nap if I need to. 

About 20 minutes before my husband is due home I shower and dress, and then he takes me down to the beach to share fish and chips while we watch the sun set behind the mountains and the moon rise before us over the ocean.

This was our view last week when I took some revival time...

Are you in need of refreshment and time out to gather your thoughts and catch your breath?

Put things in motion that will allow you a day to yourself, and don't feel guilty.
We're made in the image of God, but we're not God.
Our flesh gets weary, our minds overload, adrenaline stores deplete, and sleep is restless when we forget to slow down and take a breather.

We need to rest, we're not machines.
 (read Mark 2:27 where Jesus reminds the Jews that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath)
You were not made to live a robotic life and it IS okay to say no.

As you stitch "Revive Your Soul" this month ponder the things that can be put aside in your life, and consider what is truly important to your physical and emotional well being, the things that will allow you to be a gentler and contented wife, mother, daughter, sister, grandparent, friend, woman.

You may be surprised by what you discover.

The free download for Block 2, "Revive Your Soul" is HERE and will remain free until I share Block 3 on March 5th.

Be blessed,

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

A fox for the boy-child...

Yesterday I showed you Blossom's baby bump, so today I'll show you Aisha's baby bump!
I took this pic last month when Aisha, her hubby and two daughters were up here on holiday...

No surprises that I'm making quilts for my two grandbabies due this year, right?
As Aisha's little boy-child is due mid-April I've started on his quilt first, and after discussing colour choice for the nursery we decided to use these woodland themed prints I found at my local Spotlight store...

I'm adding a cute applique fox to the mix as well. 

The free template for the fox came from over HERE at  Positively Splendid...

Cute, don't you agree? 

I'll blanket stitch the applique with chocolate brown thread today, and piece the quilt top in a split 9-patch layout later in the week.

Split 9-patch is a really simple patchwork design and perfect for those who are new to quilting!
I shared a tutorial HERE a few years ago using a charm square pack if you'd like to give it a try.
My table runner only took one morning to piece, quilt and bind...

What are you making at the moment?


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

First 'bump' photo and a peek...

Our precious Blossom is officially 14 weeks along in her first pregnancy and we wanted to show you her little bump...
I don't think I have ever seen her more beautiful, and when she walks in the room her radiant joy fills every space. 
New life is such a miracle, isn't it?!

The next free block in my 2016 BOM, "Gentle Domesticity" will be ready for you on Friday 5th, so if you haven't downloaded the first block please do so by the 4th while it is still a free pattern in my shop.
Just go HERE and save it to your computer and you'll have it ready to stitch any time in the future...

And just as a little tease, here's a peek at Block 2...

Over the weekend I finished the final patterns for February's issue of The Stitchery Club.
There's no theme this month as the six designs are ones that have been floating around my sketchpad for a while. It seemed only fair that they finally got their moment to shine - even if they had nothing in common to tie them together.
You can see all six designs for the new issue over HERE on the Club page.
Memberships for this month close on the 16th. 

I'm a bit weary today as we've had extraordinary humidity here in the tropics which leaves me feeling lethargic and ready to pack a bag and head for Switzerland, so I'm going to spend a quiet afternoon browsing this month's 'old-but-new' copy of Notebook: magazine (read about it here) and see what interesting things I can share with you later this week.
Naturally a cool drink and something tasty will accompany the magazine, and there could be some soft background music to calm the soul...maybe Enya or Yanni...mmm.

Who do you listen to for background music during restful times?

Have a lovely day wherever you are!


Monday, February 1, 2016

Block 2 "Postcards from Heaven"...

It's the 1st of February and that means it's my sweet friend Allie's turn to share a new postcard pattern with you!
Here is her "Postcard from Heaven", block 2...

Beautiful, huh!? And the fabrics she's chosen are gorgeous, too. 

Allie is stitching her blocks in redwork and using the KJV as her text, whilst mine are being stitched to compliment the fabric I've chosen for their final display, and the wording will be more conversational some months (my own design months) or written from a modern Bible text during Allie's design months.
I'm also adding little embellishments like buttons or beads, and leaving sections of my postcards unstitched (the Scripture reference, wavy lines on the stamp, and 'postcard')...

Head over HERE to Allie's blog to download her postcard pattern and you can be stitching within the hour!

Missed Block 1?
Don't fret, the first block is still available from my Craftsy shop as a free download if you've just heard about this free BOM recently (all the info is HERE). Over the course of this year Allie and I are tag teaming our blocks so in December we shall have designed and gifted you six postcards each.

 Here are Allie's first two blocks together...

We pray you are mightily blessed!

I've had a number of requests lately to re-issue the full pattern for The Lord's Prayer quilt.
This was a free BOM I shared through 2014 and includes 26 stitcheries and a quilt pattern to embroider and piece the prayer that Jesus taught His disciples.

You'll find it HERE on my shop again as a free download.

Have a wonderful week!