"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
August 16, 2017
Way back in the late 1970's when I was in 8th grade, the girls were required to take a home economics class and the boys took shop. We girls learned how to use a sewing machine and made aprons; and probably learned a little about cooking, also. That's been so long ago, I can't remember exactly what we learned in the class. Apparently, it didn't make a big impression on me!
Then when I was a senior in high school I took a Food and Clothing class, where we cooked for one semester and then sewed the second half of the school year. My mom and sisters all sewed well, and my older sisters felt that I needed to take the class to hone my skills. I hated sewing! We had to make an article of clothing my senior year, so I made a dress. I even bought a pattern that was supposedly easy that was labeled as "Sew it tonight, wear it tomorrow". The way that I was built, no pattern fit me, so adjustments had to be made. I found it very tedious and a lot of work.
Therefore, for the next thirty-plus years I refused to sew, thinking that it was something that I absolutely hated doing and was no good at.
My sister, Janie, enjoys making quilts and kept encouraging me to try it. At first, my response was, "I don't like sewing! That doesn't sound like any fun whatsoever!" Over time, that seed was sown into my mind and I eventually started thinking more and more about it, finally deciding that perhaps I should at least give it a whirl. Finally, I ordered some jelly roll fabric (fabric precut into 2-1/2 inch strips wide and about a yard long) to try my hand at making a quilt. Janie told me that this would be the easiest way to make one and be a good way to practice my sewing skills.
Janie has a sewing room in her home and has two different types of machines set up (the one she has been using is both a sewing and an embroidery machine), so I went over to sew with her so that she could instruct me. At first, I couldn't remember how to wind a bobbin or thread a machine!
Once I got the hang of it, I began to enjoy sewing. I liked watching the quilt come together and seeing the beauty that sewing those pieces of fabric together created. I actually enjoyed myself! I had the realization that all I had been taught to sew in the past was clothing; and making clothes was what I hated, because of it being so tedious and having to make adjustments to try and make a pattern fit me. But when it came to making quilts, I found sewing enjoyable and fun. I've found a new hobby! I'm not yet an accomplished quilter and make some mistakes, but I'm enjoying myself.
Here's my point: For 34 years I had refused to sew, because I was completely convinced that I hated it. I had no desire to even try it, because in my mind, it was something that was stressful and unenjoyable for me. Had my sister not persistently encouraged me to sew with her and give quilting a try, I would never have known that this was something that I would like doing. I have made a really pretty quilt that Jon and I are using on our bed, and we would never have had the pleasure of using something that I had created, had I stubbornly refused to try sewing again.
We can often have that same stubborn attitude with many different things in life. We've tried something in the past and it didn't work out so well, or we had a bad experience, or someone said something to discourage us or hurt our feelings or offend us, or we felt as if we weren't good at it or didn't like it..... and so we gave up and never again tried it. How many times have we missed out on something wonderful, because of that?!
Someone may have attended church as a child or teen, then something happened to cause them to think that they didn't like or need church, so they quit and never went back. They associate something negative with their experience and stubbornly refuse to go back again. What blessings they miss out on, by not fellowshipping with others and hearing the Word of God and having the prayer and support of other believers!
At times, someone may pray for something in particular and feel as if God somehow disappointed them or let them down by not answering as they had hoped; so they spend years distancing themselves from God and feeling as if He doesn't listen to them or care. They stubbornly refuse themselves to have a relationship with God, thinking that they don't need Him in their life. What blessing and peace they miss out on, by closing their heart off to allowing God to be their Father!
How many times do we miss out on special blessings or God-given opportunities or having a deeper relationship with our Father, because of stubbornness or thinking we don't deserve it or a simple lack of spiritual desire? We become satisfied with our life and how things are, and have grown very comfortable. We don't want anything to change to upset our life or make things messy. We're afraid of failure or that God may ask something of us that we don't want to give up or do. Perhaps we've even convinced ourself that things should stay as they are, or have a list of excuses why surely God wouldn't be asking something of us or why we can't do what we feel led to do.
When doing so, we miss out on experiences that we otherwise wouldn't ever encounter. God has so much more for us than we could ever envision or dream of! There never comes a time in our life when He stops speaking to us and showing us things and revealing Himself to us in deeper ways. But we limit Him by our attitude and lack of participation.
If I would have just sat in the sewing room and watch Janie make a quilt, what benefit would that have been for me, personally? I would have seen her work come together and the end result of a beautiful quilt; but would have received no personal satisfaction or sense of fulfillment for myself. I wouldn't have learned anything or honed my own skills. I wouldn't have anything to show for my time afterwards, because it would have been her work, not mine.
Galatians 6:4 (NLT) says, "Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won't need to compare yourself to anyone else."
When I bought that jelly roll of fabric and sat down at the sewing machine for the very first time in 34 years, I really had no idea if I'd enjoy it or would be good at it or if I'd succeed. It could have been that after sewing a few seams I would have thought, "Yes, I was right all these years! I really do not like to sew!!"; then gathered up all the fabric and supplies and handed it to Janie to use. I had no idea which way my new adventure would go, until I was willing to put myself out there and give it a try.
Too often we compare ourselves to others and feel as if we're lacking, or we are content to let someone else do the work. But Galatians tells us to pay attention to our own work. Why? So that we will get the satisfaction of a job well done.
In our opinion, there will always be others who will do things better than us, but that shouldn't stop us from giving it our best. I'm not speaking about sewing, but about all things in life. We will often look at those whom we consider to be spiritual giants and feel as if we are lacking in comparison. But again, we need to pay attention to our own work, our own heart, and not compare ourself to anyone else. What God is doing in their life may not be what He wants to do or what needs to be done in ours.
Honestly, Janie is better at making quilts than I am. But she has also made several quilts and has sewn for years. I really can't compare my skills to hers. I have only sewn three quilts, to date. I can't expect to have her expertise at this point. So should I just give up and quit, since she's better at making quilts than I am? No! I must continue practicing and honing my skills in order to improve and get better.
It's the same way spiritually. We can't compare ourselves to someone who has been a christian longer than we have been, or someone who has been practicing listening to the voice of God and walking in complete obedience, or someone who has a deep hunger for the presence of God and has been spending more and more time in worship and prayer, and feel as if we'll never be as close to God as they are. We must continue listening to the voice of God for ourselves and honing our spiritual skills in order to grow in God and be deeply rooted in our relationship with Him.
My brother is about to return from Australia. He has wanted for a long time to take some great, adventurous trip, and thought Australia would be a fun one. Finally, his work schedule opened an opportunity for him, and he took it. He was a little nervous about it, and I expect there were a few times when he considered backing out, especially when his flight there was delayed. But he kept his courage up, and went. And he has had a great time. It was definitely worth it.
There is a woman who we know through an odd sequence of events, who finally went to church a few weeks ago. She has always thought she should go. But she never quite worked up the courage. Finally, she decided to go. She took her two kids, but didn't know anyone else there. But almost immediately, she got to know another mother there, and they quickly became friends. It was hard for her to take that first step, and go alone, but when she got there, she was very glad she went.
There are too many other similar stories to repeat them all. But it does take courage to step out, especially when you feel all alone. But if you have faith that it will be good, and go into it expecting great things, that's what you will find.
Homemade Hot Fudge Sauce for Ice Cream
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 Tablespoons cocoa
1/3 Tablespoon butter
1/3 cup milk
Mix cocoa and sugar in a small saucepan. Add milk. Heat over medium heat until it comes to a rolling boil. Boil for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add vanilla and butter. Great over vanilla ice cream!
My Grandma Horton was a quilter; and she made beautiful quilts. For many years she would hand quilt everything herself. Every time I went to visit, she was always working on a quilt. She had a quilting frame that hung from her living room ceiling by ropes holding each corner. When she wasn't using it, she would roll the ropes up so that the frame would fit up close to the ceiling. As she grew older, and probably quilting by hand became more difficult for her, she started having someone machine quilt for her. Grandma had a name for every color. Nothing was just red or pink or blue! It was rose or carnation or turquoise. I'm thankful that I have some of her quilts that she made specifically for me. Maybe someday, someone will feel that way about the quilts that I make!
The only thing worse than being blind is having sight and no vision. - Helen Keller
We love you!
Loretta & Jon