Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Succeeding At Seminary - Book Review...

Note: The primary focus of my blog has always been sewing and I don't see that changing. However, I'll continue to post the occasional book review as well.

In today's age, it's possible to find books on almost any topic. Want to learn beekeeping? Amazon has over a thousand results for books on the subject. Interested in quilting? There are over 10,000 of them. And there are almost a thousand listings for how to become an adult. (I didn't realize that so many people struggle with that.) Essentially, you can find a book for pretty much anything that interests you.

Succeeding at Seminary is another example of such a book. How many people do you know who are interested in attending seminary? Probably not many. But if you're one of that select group, this book offers valuable advice. Written by the president of Midwestern Baptist Seminary, Jason K. Allen has the experience and expertise to help those interested in pursuing a seminary degree. It just so happens that I'm one of those individuals. I consider it God's providential timing that I ran across this book while I was already considering going to seminary. I didn't search for it; it just appeared on a list of available books to review.

The book's subtitle is 12 Keys to Getting the Most Out of Your Theological Education and it covers the topic from the first step (clarifying your call) to the last (finding a job). In between the covers, there are chapters on finding the right seminary for you, the advantages and disadvantages of online versus on-campus classes, how to carefully steward your time, financial considerations, and tips for studying. The book is only 128 pages so it doesn't dive deeply into each topic, but it contains enough information to provide some useful guidance. I found the chapters on stewarding your time, prioritizing your family, and studying tips to be particularly helpful.

The book is well-written and easy to read. Allen presents the information in a clear and orderly way. I only have two minor critiques of the book. First, the author primarily focuses his attention on those seeking to become pastors. However, there are various degrees in seminary and not everyone attending is being called to lead a congregation. Second, at times it sounds like an advertisement for Midwestern Baptist Seminary, particularly in the first several chapters. That being said, the book contains some useful information that helped me not only get into seminary but should be very beneficial as I work towards my degree.

Overall, I rate this book 3 out of 5 stars.
I received a free copy of this book from Moody Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Our cat Moses is a beautiful girl, but incredibly neurotic. We've recently started her on Prozac to calm her and stop her from beating up her brother, David. He's more than twice her weight, but she attacks him if he gets too close to me. I'm hoping the medicine makes a difference.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you and watch over you.
Psalm 32:8 NIV84

Saturday, April 10, 2021

When Faith is Forbidden - A Book Review...

 You may not know this about me as I don't often post book reviews, but I am a voracious reader. Always have been. I'm usually reading 5 or 6 books at a time - a mix of fiction and non-fiction books. Generally the non-fiction books take me a little longer because I only read small chunks at a time so I can process what I've read. I probably average a couple hundred books each year.

Lately I have been on a binge reading stories about persecuted Christians and missionaries. I find such encouragement for my own walk with Christ by reading how these individuals persevered in their faith in the midst of great suffering and tragedy. Recently I finished both Hearts of Fire by The Voice of the Martyrs and Bruschko by Bruce Olson. The former contains the testimony of 8 persecuted women throughout the world within the last century. The latter is the story of a 19-year-old-American who traveled to the Motilone tribe in Columbia to share the gospel with them. I highly recommend both of these books!

When Faith is Forbidden: 40 Days on the Frontlines with Persecuted Christians is another book from The Voice of the Martyrs family. Honestly, I expected the format to be similar to Hearts of Fire, but it is actually more of a devotional than a non-fiction book. Each day contains a Scripture passage that relates to the personal story of a persecuted Christian somewhere in the world. The testimonies are short, usually around 3-4 pages long. Although I would have liked to learn more about every individual, the author, Todd Nettleton, does a good job of detailing each Christian's struggle and perseverance. Their stories are followed by a brief Reflection that details a lesson from the passage. He asks questions of the reader that are bound to make you examine your own walk with Christ more closely. I'll admit I felt both uncomfortable and convicted with some of my answers. He also provides a prayer and some journaling space to reflect on your answers. There's not a lot of space to write, so if you really intend to reflect and answer, you're probably going to need extra paper. Last of all, Nettleton includes personal entries from his journal during these visits. However, many times they added nothing to the story and could have easily been left out of the book.

As with most things in life, you'll get out of this book what you put into it. If you want to learn a little about the lives and struggles of other Christians, there are plenty of stories to satisfy your curiosity and you can read them quickly. But if you want to grow deeper in your walk and know better how to fulfill the Great Commission, this is a great guide to use as your daily devotional. When persecution comes your way, you'll have a better understanding of what others have gone through and how to bear up under it.

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.
I was gifted a copy of this book from Moody Publishers in return for my honest review.

David often likes to help me read. He's actually very insistent on it!

David helping me read...

Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.
Revelation 2:10-11

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

New Beginnings...

When I first started sewing in 2000, I bought my first sewing machine. At that time they used to have a Husqvarna dealer inside my local JoAnn's craft store. Not knowing anything about sewing or machines, I went to them for advice. I ended up buying a Husvarna Viking Freesia 425. Oh, how I've loved that machine! It has been a workhorse for the last 2 decades and I've spent untold hours sewing and quilting on it. 

Husqvarna Viking Freesia 425
In 2005, I became interested in embroidery. After some research, I bought a Babylock Ellegante from my local dealer. This machine is great for everyday sewing, makes a perfect quarter inch seam and has no trouble with thick fabrics. However, the embroidery part has given me nothing but trouble. I've had it into the shop numerous times for the same issue and each time they said it was user error. I brought it in again late last year and told them I didn't want it back until it could stitch out an embroidery pattern I brought with me. It turns out there is a known problem with this model when it starts sewing fast (which you have to do with machine embroidery.) It's far past it's warranty period and the cost to fix it is very expensive with no guarantee it will work. They suggested I replace the machine and offered to give me a good deal. Unfortunately, after this experience I no longer trust them.

Babylock Ellegante
Fast forward to just before Christmas last year. My trusty Viking workhorse started having tension issues and refuses to sew over bulky seams anymore. I was trying to use my Babylock for Free Motion Quilting, but the thread kept breaking. After trying to quilt a 2" block and having the thread break 20 times, I was beyond frustrated and decided to just stop sewing. My dear sweet husband then insisted on my looking for another machine. He justified the expense by saying it was cheaper than the therapy I would need if I quit sewing. (He's probably right...)

After careful research and several hours test driving it, I bought a Janome Memory Craft 9450 from The Broken Needle (a little quilt shop close to me). I know that machines have advanced significantly in the last 15 years, but I was surprised at how many features it has. Of course, I wasn't interested in most of them; I just wanted it to do what I needed it to do and do it well. I tested the free motion quilting, the quarter inch seam, how it handled fabrics of varying thickness and multiple types of thread. (My Babylock is a little fussy about silk and metallic threads.) The dealer was a little surprised to see that I brought my own thread for the test drive! It passed every test I threw at it with flying colors. 

Janome Memory Craft 9450

I got a great deal on it and it even came with a free sewing table.

Janome Memory Craft 9450 with table
 I love my new machine! It is a joy to free motion quilt again. Now I can finally get some of this backlog done! I hope this machine will be with me for the next 20 years and I can't wait to see everything I can create with it.

If you've followed me for long, you'll notice that I usually close with a picture of one of our furbabies. This time I have two. Jack and Gabriel have recently gone onto the Rainbow Bridge. They both lived long healthy lives; Jack was 20 and Gabriel a month shy of 15 years old when they passed. We miss them both greatly.

Jack on a quilting project


He will wipe every tear from their eyes. 
There will be no more death' or mourning or crying or pain, 
for the old order of things has passed away.
Revelation 21:4 NIV

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Long Time No See...

So, apparently 2019 was a wash. Here we are in the second half of 2020 and I'm only now getting around to posting again. I did almost no sewing in 2019, so there really wasn't much to write about on the quilting front. I developed a frozen shoulder early in the year and that put a halt to most of my activities. If you don't know what a frozen shoulder is, you're definitely not alone! I had no idea what it was until the doctor told me. Suffice to say it is extremely painful and I would not wish it on anyone. It takes 1-3 years to heal. Fortunately I'm now in the unfreezing stage some 15 months later. It's much less painful and I'm getting some range of motion back. Between it getting better and being quarantined for so many months, I'm getting to spend some time in my sewing room again. It's reminding me how much I LOVE creating things.

In my last post (back in 2018), I talked about my progress on the Moda Blockheads 2 quilt.  Thanks to my very generous and helpful mom (love you mom!), I managed to get all of the blocks cut out and put into individual bags.

Prepping and labeling one of the blocks.
That way I can pull out a block whenever I have a little bit of time and sew it together.

Each block is bagged separately along with the instructions.
Currently I've finished 24 of the blocks. I'm loving how it's looking so far! (My design wall isn't large enough for all of them, so some are layered on top of others...)

24 of the Moda Blockheads 2 blocks
This is obviously another long term project, but I have finished a few things and will hopefully share them soon.

Our girl Jack is quickly approaching 20 years old! And yet, she is still so playful and energetic. She looks and acts like a much younger cat. She loves to gather up and nap on her babies.

Jack with 3 of her toys.

My suffering was good for me,
for it taught me to pay attention
to your decrees.
Psalm 119:71 NLT

Friday, September 21, 2018

Moda Block Heads 2...

So I seem unable to stop myself from starting new projects.  Despite having nigh near 100 UFO's, I couldn't resist joining in on Moda's new Quilt Along this year. (Actually they started in June, I'm just woefully behind in making the blocks!)  In the beginning, a new block was released every Wednesday on Moda's blog.  The block was anywhere from 6" to 12" to 24" or somewhere in between.  Lately they've been releasing 2 or 3 blocks a week.  I'm not sure why they're switching things up; it just means I'm falling further behind...

I've been really wanting a yellow and gray quilt and I collected fat quarters of both for this Quilt Along.  This is mostly a mix of Corey Yoder's Sundrop and Sweetwater's Harmony with a few other prints in there.

Here are the first 5 blocks I've completed.  They've released 20 now and I'm working to catch up.  Some of the blocks are fairly easy.  Others are much more complicated.

Stellar Star (12") - Block 1
Buckeye Beauty (6") - Block 2
Pennsylvania (6") - Block 3
Roman Cross (12") - Block 4
Impact (24") - Block 5
I need to get a picture of all the blocks together to show their different sizes better.  I really like the mix of blocks so far.  I messed up on the last block and made all the flying geese too small.  They were supposed to be 2" x 4" and I made them 1" x 2" the first time.  So now I have 16 extra flying geese.  I'm hoping I'll be able to use them in one of the future blocks.

While I'm working on these blocks, David continues to keep me company.  He's such a great sewing companion...

David sleeping on a partially quilted quilt

Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble. 
Proverbs 13:20 (NLT)

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Intermission I & II...

This year (for a change) I've been busy quilting tops and haven't spent much time piecing.  However, I did take a brief 'intermission' last month to piece a few table toppers .  I wanted to refresh a couple spots in my house, including the dining room table, the coffee table and a small sewing cabinet.  I used the fabric Hometown by Sweetwater for all of  them and adapted the pattern Pathways & Crossroads by Acorn Quilt & Gift Company for the largest runner.  I actually still had the receipt with the fabric and pattern from when I purchased them.  Originally I had a different project in mind when I bought them back in 2011!  I still love the fabric, so I'm glad I finally got around to using it.

I haven't had a chance to quilt the runner yet, but I did manage to quilt the other two.  (The yellow star was a test block I decided not to go with.)  This is the new mat for my coffee table.  No pattern, just a bunch of HST's sewn together.

And this is the new topper for an antique sewing cabinet my husband recently refinished for me.  Again, no pattern, just HST's sewn together.

Both of them gave me more opportunity to practice my free motion quilting skills and I'm really enjoying it!  I wish I could remember who I got the idea from so I could give them credit, but it's totally slipped my mind.  I saw someone put small quilts in a basket and I found this wire basket at Target that fits perfectly under the sewing cabinet.  Too cute!

I've been spending most of my time quilting a prayer quilt lately.  Hopefully I'll finish in the next couple of weeks.  I am hoping to get back to some piecing soon though as I find I'm missing it.  In any case, here's a sneak peak of the quilt I'm working on...

Don't use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. 
Ephesians 4:29 (NLT)

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Holly Jolly Snowmen...

Recently I've been so busy machine quilting, I haven't been making anything new.  Now I've decided to take some time to piece in between FMQ, so I'm hoping that will change.  At night, however, I'm still slowly working on updating my Snowmen A to ZZZZ blocks.  As I mentioned before, I'm going back and adding red accents to each of the finished blocks.  There are 21 blocks and I'm a little more than halfway done with them.  Here are a few of the latest blocks I've finished...

I'm really liking the pop of color the red adds to the blocks and I'm still hoping to finish this quilt in time for Christmas.  Well, at least the top, my list of machine quilting projects is extremely long so I probably won't have time to quilt it myself this year.

In other news, Jack is a bit under the weather right now.  After a trip to the vet yesterday, we discovered she has a UTI.  Our sweet girl is on antibiotics and resting up.  Hopefully she'll be back to normal in no time.

Risk your life and get more than you ever dreamed of.” 
Luke 19:26 (MSG)