Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Advent Quilt

I made an Advent Quilt.  Inspired by the readings of Bible passages.

Monday, December 28, 2015

2016: Rejoice Always-- Bible Verse A Day:

Hi, there!      As I’ve been praying, thinking and looking for guidance about the 2016 Bible verse a day readings, Christmas tidings, songs and decorations surrounded me.  

 At the same time I’m highly aware of national and world news especially the persecution of the Christians.  I even see the ridicule and (closet) oppression of Christian beliefs here in the US – the world’s epicenter of religious freedom. 

  Add to those thoughts, I was lead to a Christmas song “The 12 Days of Christmas.”  My mind immediately went to making a quilt using that theme.  Then, I realized that I don’t even like that song.  I’ve never understood it.  Really?  Maids a Milking?  Or, better yet:  Lords a Leaping?  What in the world do leaping lords, French hens, swimming swans, and especially the partridge who won't come out of the pear tree have to do with Christmas?  

And, lastly, my kids + grands are gathering here over the New Year's weekend (scheduling is a feat!) We are still rejoicing. And why don't we, you and me, and as a group Rejoice all year long as is told to us in 1 Thessalonians 5:16. It says to Rejoice always....rejoice evermore.

So, because I’m a Googler, I was astonished by what I found when I searched for the history of the 12 Days of Christmas?

Did you know?  (Hang with me, please!)

Back in the 1500’s, when that infamous King Henry VIII wanted to have his marriage with Catherine annulled (after multiple pregnancies, miscarriages and the death of a baby) the Pope denied the request.  Henry in his spoiled petulance separated England from Catholicism and made himself the “Supreme Head of the Church of England”.

The world went darker and darker. Priests were exiled and threatened with their lives---yes they faced Death--- if they performed Mass, sacraments, communion and baptisms. 

He dissolved and disbanded all Catholic monasteries, convents, etc. in England, Wales and Ireland…looting their assets and incomes.  The 900 houses (friaries, nunneries, etc.) were closed and he directly displaced and negatively impacted about 12,000 people.  In those days, that was a significant percentage of the population! Religious oppression and religious persecution was the reality. 

So, what would You do if your religion was suddenly eliminated by a King on a belligerent whim?

Because they were forbidden to practice their faith---by royal decree---many died.  Wealthy families built hiding places for the priests in case the “Secret Police” came to search.  (Does this remind you of Underground Railroad?  Or of Anne Frank?)  There is a story of one priest hidden in behind a fireplace was and roasting to death.  And, this oppression was widespread. 

Guess what happens when people are oppressed?  They find ways around the oppression…like developing a secret code, a way to communicate without being understood.  (Think signs along the path to the north for the run-away slaves.  Even kids do this:  Pig Latin is another example.) 

Well, the followers of Christ created a song ---in Code. Yes, it is the Twelve Days of Christmas!  The verses were, on the surface, a simple reflection of the times:  Lords, Hens, Geese, Swans, Maids, Pipers, dancing, swimming, milking, laying, drumming, etc.

On a deeper, spiritual reverent level each verse represented a valuable tenet of Christians everywhere.  

1.         On the first day of Christmas, My True love gave to me a partridge in a pear tree. The symbolism:   My True Love =God;   Gave to Me=Each of us Individually; A Partridge=Jesus Christ;  In a Pear Tree = wood for the Cross.

2.         Two turtledoves were said to be the Old and New Testaments and the 2 natures of Jesus:  Divine and Human

3.         Three French hens stood for Father, Son & Holy Ghost; faith, hope and love, Died, Buried and Arisen.

4.         The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John.

5.         The five golden rings recalled the Law which the first five books of the Old Testament.

6.         The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.

7.         Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit-Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.

8.         The eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes. 

9.         Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit-Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control.

10.      The ten lords a-leaping were the Ten Commandments and tithing.

11.      The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.

12.      The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in The Apostles' Creed.

So here’s my suggestion: Let’s do a FULL year…and use one line of the song each month.  For January, the theme will be “On the first day of Christmas, My True love gave to me a partridge in a pear tree.” 

The verses will be both New and Old Testament and are related to the love God has for us, the love Jesus taught and showed us. As we move into the cold winter, let’s be reminded and rejoice in how much we are loved. 

Monday, December 21, 2015

Advent Quilt in Progress

Hey, Friends! As you know, I spend time designing quilts (my job and my delight).

I've been involved in a group where we are not only reading but writing (copying) the prophecies and the story of the birth of Christ.  This has sent me into creative nirvana...and has evolved into a story quilt - an advent story quilt. I've designed and made 11 blocks. I'll put it on the quilting machine tomorrow. I might take 3-4 days because I plan to custom quilt it. I'll show updates as I progress! How perfect to be quilting it the very week of Christmas?

11 blocks...so let me explain:
Top Row: The Prophecy (Old Testament readings)
Left: The Jesse Tree.---I'm a family genealogist, (right, family?) and the concept and reality of family and heritage meets me where I am. I HAD to do this one.
Middle: The Banner.---A root of Jesse who shall stand as a banner to the people; for the Gentiles shall seek him. That is me...I'm a Gentile and I seek him.
Right: Butter & Honey. ---"A virgin shall conceive and bear a son & Shall call his name Immanuel. Butter and honey shall he eat." Isaiah 7:  14-16.   My modern block is my take on butter & honey.
2nd row: (New Testament readings)
Left: Mary & Elizabeth. Don't you think that shared pregnancies are a special bond? Mary traveling 100+ miles to stay with Elizabeth? Sharing those months together carrying babies who would change the world? For me, it's not only "Mary did you know?" but Elizabeth, did you know, too? The joy and the preparation and the joy! Oh, the joy of a baby! And, these babies? I cannot imagine!
Far Right: Nazareth Gate: To leave Nazareth they entered and exited a gate. I imagine it looked like this one. If you look up "flag of Nazareth" you'll see something similar. Mary left Nazareth to see Elizabeth months later, she returned home. I bet she was ready and when she saw the gate she thought "Home! Almost there!" Joseph left Nazareth with Mary to go to Bethlehem. If Joseph was anything like my husband he was soon ready to go home to Nazareth. But, as is often the case in life, the way home is the longest part of any trip. Alas, can you imagine the joy when they saw it again? That gate! Home!
3rd Row:
Left: The Roads they Traveled. That brown strip will be quilted to show pebbles and represents the road they travelled. - and I imagine Mary going 80+ miles to see Elizabeth and then Mary and Joseph walking 80+ miles to Bethlehem, to Jerusalem, to Egypt and finally home. Like life, we walk and journey and change paths, and go in unexpected directions all in an effort to finally reach Home.
Right: A Manger. A modern depiction of a manger. Such a humble beginning.
4th Row:
Left: Shepherds Hook: As prophesied, the shepherds saw and responded. I love that they responded...
Middle: Angels of God - in all aspects of the prophecies and the story. I believe.
Right: Gold, Frankincense & Myrrh. Frankincense, in it's natural state is a soft off-white color with a touch of yellow. Myrrh has more of a brownish tint.
CENTER: The Star. Star Light. Star Bright. It's HIM!
Background color: Dark Cerulean. I chose it because this is a night time story. Important things happened at night. Looking for a place to stay/sleep... the birth of Jesus, Magi following the star, Angels appearing, shepherds tending flocks by night, etc. And the darkness of the times. A king who would kill all little boys under the age of 2? OMGosh - that is evil! That is darkness! Mary and Joseph as refugees in Egypt? Yep. Darkness and evil was alive and active. Just like now. Just. Like. Now. And, we have the Light at the Center. That light saves us.
So, dear friends....are you still with me? Thanks for letting me share! I promise to keep you posted as I progress with the quilting!

Monday, November 16, 2015

LIfe is so bizarre --just reflect on the last 10 days or so:  ISIS blowing a plane out of the sky, detainees from Gitmo being sent home, Democratic candidates blaming global warming and climate change for terrorism and the leader saying we have them contained....and hours later massacre of innocents in Paris.  I believe we are at the opening scene of WW3.  I'm journaling, praying and studying the Bible.

May God Bless you and yours.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Learning like a kindergartener...it's true!  So, sew, sow - describes me.  I read - I comprehend.  I hear, I comprehend.  I draw in color and I internalize it.  Some recent examples.

My favorite line from the hymn:  I surrender all are
" Let me feel thy Holy Spirit, Truly know that thou art mine."

My favorite line from the hymn "A Mighty Fortress is Our God"
Tis truth to triumph thro' us.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Coffee Table Bible Painting

I love to paint the pages of coffee table Bibles.  You know, the big ones from the 1970's that weigh 16 pounds?  Yep, those.  Here's what I've been working on lately:

Monday, October 19, 2015

I Paint Hymnal Pages

Sometimes I do more than journal in my Bible.  Sometimes I paint hymnal pages, Bible pages or start drawing on watercolor paper.  Worship is worship, right?

Monday, October 12, 2015

I love Learning

I love learning.  Always have.  I suppose I always will.

For a while I've felt the need, the pull, the desire to return to church.  I've hungered for it.  Now that we are attending, I am focusing on learning.

I am learning to study and illustrate my Bible.  It adds a dimension I've always needed.  It motivates me to spend more time meditating, praying and studying the Word.