Sunday, 28 October 2012

Of Needles and Needs

   On Thursday, (25th Oct.) I managed to complete the wedding pillow for “Floss & Harry’s” wedding.  I was relieved and pleased that I’d finished over a week before the wedding.  The week before a wedding is a hectic time for the two families involved. 
What I learned:  The inner pillow is made of heavy-weight cotton.  The cover is made of light-weight cotton/polyester and silk.  Different weights of material take different sized needles for the sewing machine.  To start off with I used a medium sized needle—80/11.  By the time I had four layers to sew together, the machine was skipping stitches.  So, I pulled out the manual for the sewing machine and checked the trouble-shooting section.  As it transpires, when the thickness of a project increases, it requires changing to a larger needle, so that the thread catches the bobbin thread properly.  In this instance, I went up one size—90/14. 
Now I’m focusing on Christmas Sewing—presents.  Can’t say much about that right now; after Christmas I’ll post some photos. 
This week—from 29th October—the schools are out on mid-term break.  So I won’t be going to sewing class.  Disappointed sigh.  And I can’t sew on Christmas projects—because my oldest grandson, Bell-Man, is with us this week.  Another sewing disappointment...but glad my grandson is here.  However, I wanted to do a major baking project. 
Mr. David Deng is from South Sudan.  He is currently in England studying economics and development.  He and his friends have started a charity to rebuild the area they are from—which is way out in the bush of South Sudan.  I wanted to do something practical to raise money for them.  So, I have decided to bake 10 gingerbread houses and sell them in the parish.  And since I can’t sew this week, I can bake!  Yippee!  I’m sure that Bell-man will find this an interesting week! 
I was reading in 1 Timothy this past week and came upon these verses: 
“Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour,”  1Timothy 2:1-3
I find it interesting that Paul talks about three expressions of talking to God:  supplications, prayers and intercessions.  So being a person who is interested in the meaning of words, I went to Strong’s Concordance to look up what the word was in the original Greek. 
Intercession: is associated with the idea of interview, conferring with, or entreating for favour or against something; to intercede on someone else’s behalf.  Basically when we pray, we are asking God to show His favour on another person and his/her situation.
Prayers:  can be connected to worship, our worship of God.  It implicates deep, earnest expression to God during a time of corporate fellowship with God and others.  And it is often said out loud, for God and others to hear.
Supplications:  This has a correlation to begging or binding ones’ self to another; to take a petition on behalf of ourselves or others.  This word infers that there is urgency, and specific needs involved. 
What do sewing and praying have in common?  They are both skills.  The more I study these skills, the better I understand how to do things better.  I want my sewing skills to become a professional level—where my mistakes are few instead of hidden.  I want my prayer skills to deepen, become more effective, more powerful. 
When the sewing machine was skipping stitches on a garment, it led me to consult the users’ manual.  When my prayers don’t accomplish all I want them to, I am led to God’s Users’ Manual for Mankind—the Bible.  I want to mature.  And I want to help others to learn how to become better equipped to pray and see differences happen because of prayers said.
Serving Jesus, Author of our faith,
“Lady Helene”

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Getting basted--the sewing that is!

I was truly attempting to blog every day--so, I apologise for missing a day. 

This evening The Maverick was busy working on his bicycle with his best friend, Jon-David.  So I was displaced from the lounge. 

And "Mr. Biz" is here for the night, as he occassionally stays with us when his chauffer work brings him up from the South Coast (of England) where he lives.When "Mr. Biz" is here, I try to stay out of my studio/office, as it serves as our guest room as well. 

Since this evening provided circumstances that lifted the sanctions against hanging out in my office, I came in and picked up where I left off on the sewing project I've got going.

As mentioned in a previous post, my youngest step-daughter, "Floss" is getting married on 2nd November.  So I'm making a ring-bearer's pillow.  I made good progress yesterday, but didn't get it finished. 

Two silk ruffles are going around the edges.  With them both pinned on, the pins are too close to sew over.  So, I'm using the wise and wonderful trick that seamstresses have used for ages--basting.  Once the basting is done, I'll be able to remove all the pins and sew over the edges easily. 

I can hardly wait to see how this turns out! 

Aren't you glad that I'll post photos once the pillow is complete?

Serving Jesus, Author of our faith,
"Lady Helene"

Monday, 22 October 2012

Where I go on Mondays

I've taken to carrying my camera with me on a regular basis.  With the trees changing their wardrobe on a daily basis, having a daily recording of it is too much of a temptation.  It's a good thing I'm using the digitial and not the analog!  The cost of film development would be exorbitant.  :-)
On Queen Street

I thought the Victorian school building I go to on Mondays was also worth a photo or two.  I have a feeling this building will feature a lot in the coming months--trying to take as many sewing classes as I can.  

I am hoping to talk to an instructor about obtaining a City and Guilds Certification.  This is a professional qualification.  Today I had an opportunity to work on a Janome Sewing Machine.  My entire experience with sewing is on Singer Sewing Machines.  That's the great thing about going to a class--the opportunity to try different machines/tools.  

Before I start dreaming about what kind of new machine I want, my current plan is to try to maximize all the things I can do on the one I currently have.  This means I will have to buy some different presser feet.  

At any rate--here is a tree in the local area that I took today.  What I find so amazing is that the tree has several different colours--not the standard "all yellow" or "all red". 

Sunday, 21 October 2012

It's not about "Fixing You"

For me, October has held an emphasis on prayer.  On Saturday, 6th October, several members of St. Mary’s Prayer Team attended a half-day of training.  Our team had taken a short break in August due to school holidays.  So, as we were preparing to resume the prayer ministry in September, we learned of an opportunity to participate in a training day offered by a local Baptist church. 
Each of us who attended came away encouraged, with fresh perspectives.  Reverend Colin Norris from the Southern Counties Baptism Association came to led us through the morning. (Sothern Counties of England—Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Dorset, Hampshire and Oxfordshire—not to be confused with Southern Baptist church in the USA!)  Reverend Norris didn’t lecture or teach so much as guide and facilitate.  He asked us questions, waited for feed-back and helped us focus on the dynamics of praying.
In 2005 the British Band, Coldplay, released its hit song, “Fix You.”  It’s a haunting and beautiful song.  But every time I’ve heard it, I’ve found myself thinking—“But I can’t fix anybody.  Only Jesus can do that.” 
Reverend Norris reminded us the firstly, prayer is not an attempt to fix a person who has come to ask us to pray for/with him or her.  Next prayer is not a magic formula that if we repeat it by rote the answer to our prayer will suddenly appear.  Rather, prayer is a time of opening ourselves to God, and helping the other person to sense God’s presence and care. 
At the end of the training that day we were given hand-outs with several quotes and references.
I’d like to share a few things from that handout.

  • “Focus of Christian healing is not merely curing the physical or emotional problems we suffer from.  It is an invitation to go on a journey into wholeness with God, where the riches of his care is nurtured to the roots of our being and our relationships.”  (Russ Parker, et al)
  • “Health is ultimately about being fully human, as Jesus.”
  • “Our role is to remember that we are partners with God and others.”

As a Christian, I believe that prayer is a life-style—a constant communication between God and myself.  Sometimes I pray for myself.  Often I pray for others. 
I cherish opportunities to pray for others; especially when realising that in sharing a need with me, he or she is becoming vulnerable, exposing something that is a tender spot in his/her heart.  Confidentiality is a must; trust is precious. 
Praying is not about me figuring out the answer.  It is about recognising my limitedness, my finiteness.  It is about understanding and accepting God’s limitlessness, His infiniteness.  Prayer is about the crystal clear understanding and acknowledgement of need—whether my own or someone else’s—and voicing it to Our Loving Heavenly Father.  Prayer is stating to God that we are listening for His wisdom, trusting His guidance and taking hold of His hand.  When I pray, I am showing that I do not take for granted God’s provision—I am not presuming upon His grace. 
Prayer is asking, because God tells us to ask.  I am asking because I know God will answer.  Maybe my Glorious Father will not answer the way I want Him to.  Perhaps His time-line is different than my time-line.  It is conceivable His response is “No.”  But I’ve learned His “NOs” are truly for my highest good.  I often say to the Lord, “Father, even though I can’t see what You’re doing, I know you are at work.”
But mostly, for me, praying is about sharing my heart with God—and Him sharing His heart with me. 
Serving Jesus, Author of our faith,
“Lady Helene”

Saturday, 20 October 2012

This past week we've had lots of grey, cloudy skies.  But this morning the skies were full of fog--almost like watered-down skimmed milk.  However, it was so dense one couldn't see anything.  Rather, subtile hints of colour shone through the cold haze. 
       I was outside this morning--a little after 9:00 am, waiting for a lift to a meeting.  While I waited, I took my camera out and experimented.  I wanted to see how the colours would turn out in a photo.  I adjusted light settings, darkness settings and tinkered with the flash.  I got some interesting shots. 
       These photos communicate autumn. 
The original photo

The photo after tinkering in Microsoft photo editor
       Since I was away all day, I am a bit tired.  But I still wanted to post something.  So here are a couple of photos.
Dewey spider's home...    

Praying you have had a wonderful Saturday.

Serving Jesus, Author of our faith,
"Lady Helene"

Friday, 19 October 2012

I say a little (BIG) prayer

       When an ocean or more separates one from his/her family, it is not uncommon to feel overwhelmed by negative emotions when that one is too far away to help in times of need.  Helplessness, frustration, guilt, and worry are gremlins that knock on the door of the soul.  It takes this kind of situation to realise where areas of doubt, fear and immature faith live in the heart.  To be honest, I don’t know how people who are without a relationship with God—Whom the Apostle Paul calls The Glorious Father (Ephesians 1:17-NIV)—are able to cope. 
Since 2007 I have made four trips to Florida to help my sister with my Mother’s care.   It was hard to leave them on their own.  But I know that my life is here.   I do try to ring/call them on a regular basis—at least once a week.  Although I can’t give hands-on assistance, I can be an ear for my sister to vent into.  We occasionally have a good laugh—good medicine for us both.  [A happy heart is good medicine and a cheerful mind works healing, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.  Proverbs 17:22] 
The best practical help I can give is prayer.  Sometimes the devil whispers in my ear that it is of little use.  My love wants to “rescue” them.  Yet the Apostle Paul is an example for me—because his letters to the churches are full of his reference to the time he invested in praying for his church family.  In listening prayer God gave Paul insights and instruction to pass along to the churches.  Paul’s letters  tell me that my prayers are mighty.  Thought intangible, my prayers make a difference.  Why—because by pouring out my heart to God, I am waging war.  And not just the war of my mind, learning to chose trust and belief over fear and doubt.  I am asking God to engage His power on behalf of my family—knowing from experience that He Will answer my prayers.  Will He send angels?  Maybe, if that’s what it takes. 
Some of my prayers have been quickly said, in a quiet moment on a walk.  Other prayers have been during loud worship services, filled with declarations of God’s promises. 
Sometimes, when I ring my sister, the moment I hear her voice and know she is in desperate need; my heart aches.  I have been learning to not get stuck in sadness and heartache, but to immediately remind myself of God’s intimate concern for them.  Friends receive phone calls and/or e-mail with my prayer requests.  A few days later I will ring Sissy again.  I hear improvement—my heart is encouraged.  I press in for more prayer. 
God may not answer my prayers in the manner that I want them answered.  Rather, I see Him teaching me to be steadfast in seeking Him in prayer.  I see Him answer what the need is for the moment; which gives me faith to trust Him for the future. 
I am not battling in the heavenly realm alone.  Besides knowing that I can lift up situations and circumstances in my prayer closet, I know that the greatest resource I have is the Church, my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ—my greatest resource.  Our symphony of prayer pushes back the dark clouds, puts the enemy and his plans to flight. 
“Rejoice Always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. 
When my heart aches, choosing to rejoice and be thankful is a true challenge.  But I know that if I follow Paul’s instructions, I “dance on the devil’s head.”  
Being so far away from Mom and Sissy is not easy.  But being close to God, our Father, makes it easier; especially since I know that God is close to them.  The Atlantic Ocean lies between my home and Sissy’s place.  But in the spirit, there is no distance.  And it is not too far to make a difference for them.  After all, love never fails.
Serving Jesus, Author of our faith,
“Lady Helene”

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Missing earrings--refound promises

                        On Monday, 1st October, wanting to make sure I had plenty of time to get my new glasses fitted and still have a casual walk to the Learning Centre, I went into town about an hour before my sewing class.  The pick-up went smoothly and quickly, leaving me time to visit a few shops to look for some cooking gadgets I needed. 
                        Now the problem was that I had to take the back-pack off-and-on a few times.  This seemed to cause the head-band I was wearing to come off as well.  When I got to class and took off my coat, I suddenly realised I’d lost two earrings from my left ear.  While the loss was disappointing, I must confess that the value in those earrings was sentimental; aside from the initial cost of them, they had no financial value at all. 
                        Since living in the UK, I’ve not had a “Vanity top” on a chest of drawers or dresser to place all my jewellery.  As a result, I’ve resorted to never changing my earrings.  But now I was forced to unpack the storage box containing my bits and bobs of “fashion decor”.  As I pulled out all the felt-covered boxes and hard plastic cases holding my earrings, bracelets and a few necklaces, I was re-acquainted with these rediscovered little treasures.  There were a lot of “Oh yes, I forgot I had those.” moments, mixed with—“Now, what do I want to wear?”  Having decided on replacement earrings, I ended this little mission with a desire to display all my trinkets in order to make use of them more often.  But I really don’t have any place—much to my chagrin.
                        As a Christian, my desire is to keep close to the Presence of God.  I must confess, I am not as diligent in daily Bible reading as I want/should be—much to my own detriment.  It is too easy to drift through my day, distracted by the “must do” and the frivolous time-stealers like on-line match-three games, or television.  This drifting along soon leads me to bobbing around in the waves of diminished productivity, guilt, regret of wasted time. 
                        Once again, I go in search of what I have lost track of—spending time reading my Bible.  When I get back on track, by spending the time to catch up with daily readings, I re-discover verses that God has used to speak to me in past days.  I am comforted, reassured, and my peace of mind grows again.  

You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You.  So trust in the Lord, (commit yourself to Him, lean on Him, hope confidently in Him) forever; for the Lord God is an everlasting Rock [the Rock of Ages.].  Isaiah 26:3-4—Amplified Version
                        Yes, losing those earrings caused me to rediscover lots of little treasures I’d forgotten about.  As I sat there, trying to decide what to wear, I had this correlating thought: “This is like those times I’ve wandered away from my Bible reading and then started up again.  I open the book and rediscover all these priceless promises that I’d forgotten about.”
                        I don’t know about you, but I love it when Jesus uses an every-day occurrence to bring us back to Him.
                        Serving Jesus, Author of our faith,
“Lady Helene”