"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!'"
September 19, 2018
As I have mentioned in previous devotionals, I started sewing quilts over a year ago. Most of the quilts that I have made have been given to family and friends as gifts. Recently, a cousin asked if I would make two baby quilts for her new great-grandson; one for her to keep for the baby at her home and one for the new mother to have. That was the first time that I had been paid for making quilts.
I have to admit that sewing for pleasure is a lot more fun than sewing for pay. I always want to do my best, regardless of who I'm making the quilts for, but when I'm making them to give away as gifts and mess up my thoughts tend to lean more towards, "Oh well... it's okay! My mistakes make it look more homemade!" Granted, if it's something that is very obviously wrong, I will rip it out and try to fix it so that it will look as good as possible.
When I was making those two quilts for pay, I scrutinized everything and all my mistakes were blatantly obvious to me and I was very critical of my work. I was constantly thinking, "Will they like this? What if they don't think it's worth the money that I'm charging? Will they think that there are too many mistakes? What if they don't like it?" It was stressful!
I have talked to other quilters who feel the same as I do. They also enjoy quilting for pleasure and find it more stressful when sewing for pay. Besides that is the fact that most people who don't sew aren't aware of the fact how expensive fabric is and how time-consuming making a quilt is, so don't want to pay for the value of buying a homemade quilt.
The truth is, most people who receive a homemade quilt, whether it be a gift or one that they paid for, look at the quilt as a whole and appreciate the beauty of it. They don't pick apart details and look for mistakes, but they look at the pattern and colors and appreciate its charm.
My Grandma Horton quilted for many, many years. She had a wooden quilting frame hanging from her living room ceiling for many of my childhood years, and was always working on a quilt. I have three or four quilts that she made for me, which I cherish. The thing is, until I began quilting I always looked at them and enjoyed their beauty. I never scrutinized them for mistakes, until I began sewing myself, then I looked at them in more detail. What I've noticed is that not everything is perfect on the quilts that grandma made for me; but that doesn't distract from their beauty and the treasures that they are.
I have heard the saying that we are our own worst critics, and that is often true. We will pick ourselves apart, meditate on what we dislike about ourselves, criticize our weaknesses, and beat ourselves up over our flaws. We often think that what we think about ourselves is what others see and think about. More times than not, that is not true.
Jon and I were having a conversation with someone a while back and she mentioned that she and another lady had always gotten along very well throughout the years and were good friends, even though they were very different personalities. She commented that the other lady was so smart in so many ways, while she was just a dummy. Jon and I looked at each other, puzzled, because that is not how we view either person. We don't see the other lady as being incredibly intelligent, although she has been good at accomplishing various thing and is skilled in specific areas; but neither do we see this particular woman as being dumb. She has had her own successes and lived a blessed life.
We often compare ourselves to someone who has very different talents and gifts than we do. We view ourselves as being failures or lacking or being insignificant or being dumb, because we can't do certain things that someone else is quite good at. But honestly, if they were to compare themselves to us, they would probably feel the same way as we do about them.
It's like comparing apples to oranges. They both have nutrients, but are very different. Apples have more fiber, but oranges provide vitamin C. Both are good for our health, but their taste is absolutely nothing alike and their benefits are very different. If polled, people will choose which fruit they like the best, but really it's personal taste, not that one is really more beneficial than the other. They each serve a purpose and are necessary.
We can always find someone who is better at something than we are, but also find those whom we excel over in specific areas. Each of us have strengths and each have weaknesses. That doesn't make us inept or failures in life, because we aren't able to do everything that we would like to excel at.
For instance, in Jon's family, I am considered an excellent cook. Why?! Because cooking isn't something that any of them particularly care to do or enjoy. In my family, my cooking skills aren't really something to be celebrated or bragged about. I come from a long line of superb cooks. My mom and aunts were all excellent cooks, and those skills were handed down to my sisters and cousins. Growing up, our potluck church dinners were amazingly delicious. The women in our church were first-rate cooks. When I was in school, our lunches were outstanding.... homemade rolls and cinnamon rolls being favorites. Two of the school cooks attended my church. So excellent cooking was what I was used to and I was taught by some of the best. I found it a bit humorous that those skills would be something that endeared me to Jon's family!
Genesis 1:27 says, "God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them."
Psalm 139:13-14 says, "You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex (I am fearfully and wonderfully made)! Your workmanship is marvelous -- how well I know it."
God created us and shaped us from the very second that we were conceived in our mother's womb. He is involved in our life from that first moment, shaping us and knitting us together. Think of it as God's finger touching us and forming us from the moment of conception. Then after birth, He is still involved in our life. God loves us so much that He never takes His eyes off us. In fact, He loves us so much that He wants to live inside of us!
Genesis says that we are created in the image of God. Since we are all so very, very different, I believe that shows us the vastness and uniqueness of God. We can't place Him in a box that He is a certain way, but He is magnificently.... I can't even think of a word that best describes how amazingly extraordinary God is. We are all a representation of God and who He is and what He's like! In our uniqueness and how different we all are and the gifts and talents that we each represent.... we are all a tiny little piece of who God is, for we are all created in His image!
Think about it! We don't have to compare ourselves to anyone else, we don't have to try and be like someone else and copy them, but God made us each very special and unique and wants us to embrace the person that He made us to be. In Psalm, David writes that we are God's workmanship. So when we criticize ourself or put ourself down or wish we were different or like someone else, we are basically saying, "God, I don't appreciate Your workmanship, and don't think You did a very good job at creating me!"
Recently, I went with my mother-in-law to visit the home of her brother-in-law. Before her death, Diane's sister was a master quilter. Her specialty was in making quilted wall-hangings; many of which won blue ribbons in competitions. The detail that went into her work is amazing. Her husband told me, "I wanted you to see her work so that you could see the potential of what can be done with quilting." I looked at her work and thought, "There is no way I could ever do this type of work!" Making those wall hangings is something that Marjory obviously enjoyed and thrived on. The fact that she took pride in her work was obvious by looking at all the various things that she had made. I looked at her work and was very impressed at the quality and detail.
The truth is, I have no desire to make quilted wall hangings. That is not something that appeals to me in the least. While I appreciated Marjory's work, that is not something that I have any desire to do. I'd much rather spend my time making a quilt that can be used, not something to be hung on a wall to be admired. When I make a quilt for someone, I don't want them to put it in a closet or put it up to save; but I want them to use it and enjoy it. That is what brings me joy. That is not to say that what Marjory chose to do was right and I'm wrong, or vise-versa. Choosing how we want to use our talents, and doing what brings us the most pleasure is what makes us unique. We don't have to do what someone else succeeded at and did, but can find our own path and do what brings us pleasure.
I encourage you to embrace the person that God created you to be. Stop focusing on your flaws and wishing you were like someone else or had their talents and abilities. God can use each of us in very different, yet very special, ways. We need to quit being our own worst critic, but strive to be the man or woman that God created us to be; and enjoy being who God created us to be!
I enjoy jigsaw puzzles. I've made a few by myself, but a lot more with my family. We usually joke at least a couple times about how to cheat on each puzzle. Things like, "I brought a pocket knife, wanna borrow it?" or "If at first you don't succeed, use a bigger hammer." It can be hard to solve a big puzzle, especially when someone put a piece in the wrong place, because it was 'close enough'.
The Bible describes members of the church as different parts of the body of Christ. I think it's also safe to say that members of a community (like a church) are like a jigsaw puzzle. Some have a few pieces; some have a lot. We are all designed to fit together, and make one big picture. We might see ourselves as an edge piece, but if we cut off one side to fit that space, we won't fit where we belong anymore.
The members of a church have the freedom to choose to follow God, or to wander off at any time. If they do, they can leave a big gap in the puzzle. God may leave the gap for awhile (I think He usually waits, trying to nudge the person back into their spot), but can also prepare another person to fit exactly into that gap. Or He may adjust the shape of the other pieces to shift people around into a new pattern.
So, I encourage you to find your place in a church. And if it doesn't feel right, maybe you're in the wrong church. Don't be afraid to try a few churches. And if you can't find your place right away, don't worry. Puzzles are hard, especially when someone has put a piece in the wrong place, and everyone keeps overlooking it. Whatever you do, don't take a hammer or knife to yourself to force yourself into place.
Oreo Dirt Pudding Dessert
1 package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
2 small boxes french vanilla pudding
3-1/2 cups cold milk
16 ounces Cool Whip
1 lb. Package Oreos, crushed
Mix the softened cream cheese, butter, and powdered sugar together.
In a separate bowl, mix the pudding and milk until thickened.
Fold in the Cool Whip into the pudding; then mix in the cream cheese mixture.
In a large bowl, start with the crushed Oreo cookies, then alternate layers of pudding/cream cheese mixture, ending with the Oreos on top.
Refrigerate until firm. This can be made the day before.
This week my nephew, Jared, and his wife and baby girl left for deaf missions training. They will be training until Christmas in Washington DC; then afterwards will be traveling to Romania for hands on training. Both of their hearts are being drawn to Greece, where they hope to eventually live and minister to the deaf there. Please pray for this special family as they begin their new ministry endeavor.
Whether we realize it or not, we are all beneficiaries of the choices of others,
and others can be the beneficiaries of our choices.
That is the way life is supposed to work.
Our stories are meant to intersect and become part of a bigger story.
We are shaped by the stories of others. Sometimes we are saved by the stories of others.
Our choices help script the stories of others, and their choices script ours. - Luke Lang
We love you!
Loretta & Jon