Come sit with me

I love blue, purple and scarlet yarn! I have crocheted most of my life, and when I found out that there were women across the nation who were forming Prayer Shawl Ministries, I became so excited; I started one at my church. The Wednesday devotionals on this blog weave together the art of crocheting and the love of God. Plus there are quotations on leadership, patterns, book reviews, and news from other Prayer Shawl Ministries. So if God has filled you with a love for crocheting & knitting, pull out those blue, purple and scarlet yarns and those crochet hooks and knitting needles and join me.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Environmental Factors

John 13:34
“A new commandment I give you:  Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

            Moonbeam is utterly fascinated by my shawls.  She supervises the path of the yarn, kneads the skeins, and snuggles into the folds of the material.  She means no harm.  But she leaves behind tiny strands of fur which become incorporated into the shawls.  Moonbeam - my mostly Siamese cat - is part of my household, as is my Labrador Daisy and their orange tabby Gilbert.  They are all part of my life and also add pieces of themselves to the shawls.
            I store my shawls during the weeks between the meetings in a huge plastic bag into which I drop scented soap.  The stored shawls emerge smelling of floral bouquets, and sometimes still bear traces of Moonbeam, Daisy and Gilbert.
            People who smoke or drink alcohol exude a scent through their pores, so I am glad -- not only for the shawls’ recipients’ sake -- that I no longer smoke or drink.  People who wear strong perfumes also add their own essence to the shawls and yarns donated to the ministry.  Yarn often comes to us smelling of wherever it was stored: moldy closets, dusty attics, mouse-infested garages.  Sometimes they are infused with cedar, mothballs, or lavender.
            Fur and odors can be washed away, but the idea that the things in your life cling to everything you do should not be forgotten. 

Heavenly Father, forgive those who gossip about me.  I know I did some really wicked things in my life, and I’ll never be able to walk down the street without someone whispering behind my back.  I did those things.  You and I have discussed those things and You have forgiven me, so between us, those things do not exist anymore.  But the world doesn’t look at me the same way You do.  Help me to be the kind of person from here on out that only bits and pieces of Your kingdom will cling to my works.  Thank you.  Amen.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Mystery of the Savior’s Love

Ruth Elaine Schram (Composer), Paul Baertschi (Composer)
SATB, Piano

I do not receive any compensation for posting these anthems here; I just think they are terrific. Evelyn

Saturday, March 26, 2011

on Leadership - by von Goethe

Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you may help them to become what they are capable of being.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Following Directions

John 21: 15-17
… Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” … Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” … Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.”

As an elementary teacher, I learned that directions should be stated in positive terms.  “Don’t run!” should be said, “Walk.”  “Stop talking!” should be, “Listen and follow directions so that you can do your work.”  As a teacher of crochet, I try to give positive directions, too.  “You’re going to jab your eye out!” becomes, “Loosen the tension on the yarn so your hook will slide easily.”
Another trick I learned as a teacher is that if I gently repeat the exact phrase and ignore the excuses, the student will eventually comply with the directions.  “Do a double crochet in that chain space.”  To which the student bleats, “But there’s not enough room in that loop.”  I repeat, “Do a double crochet in the chain space.”  And I show her where the chain space is.  In the chain space, the student does a single crochet and an extra three chains at the top.  “Do a double crochet in the chain space,” I again direct.  And I show her how to do a double crochet.
Following directions can be just as difficult as giving them.  I have to trust and respect the person telling me to follow directions.  I also have to see a purpose for the directions.  In crochet or knitting, the final purpose is clear – there is a picture of the finished product on the front page.  But the clusters of directions can seem overwhelming.  (Loop your hook under the yarn, swirl it around once, push the hook through the anchor loop.  Swirl the hook under the yarn at your left pointer finger and grab it, pull it through the anchor loop.  Swirl the hook around the yarn again and pull it through the two loops on your hook.  Swirl the hook again and pull it through the remaining two loops on your hook. That’s a double crochet stitch.  Now do 159 more on this one row of 80 rows.)
I have seen grown women throw tantrums when being given directions.  It’s not pretty.  Shouts of, “I can’t!”  “It’s not going that way!”  “This is stupid!”  and other less nice declinations of ability lead to only one end result:  the shawl will never be completed. 
Take a deep breath.  It always helps to take a deep breath.  I am not sure why, but it does.  So take a deep breath and gently repeat your directions. 
Even Jesus had to tell Peter three times.
Making a shawl is a way of feeding Jesus’s sheep and taking care of His lambs.  The directions are simple, “Make a shawl.”  Follow the directions . . . If you love Him, then you will do it.

Well God, you know how stubborn I am and that I’m not very good at all of this.  But please Lord, be patient with me.  Go ahead and repeat your directions.  Keep telling me what to do, because I do love you, God.  I want to follow your directions.  Help me feed your sheep.  Amen.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Resurrection Power

Tom Fettke (Author), Tom Fettke (Composer), Thomas Grassi (Author)
SATB, Piano
I do not receive any compensation for posting these anthems here; I just think they are terrific. Evelyn

Saturday, March 19, 2011

on Leadership - by Woodrow Wilson

I not only use all the brains that I have, but all that I can borrow.

Woodrow Wilson

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Good Pair of Scissors

Philippians 1: 9-11
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God.

There was nothing else I could do.  I had jiggled and pushed and used a needle and my fingernails and spent too much time gently tweezing it this way and that -- to no avail.  I was going to have to cut the yarn.
A good pair of scissors slices through the yarn as opposed to chewing it.  The ends can be tied together without fear of fraying and the project can continue. 
I once tried to make a multicolored granny square without cutting any yarn.  The colors would be used repeatedly throughout the afghan, so why mar it with tiny clusters of knots and flailing cut ends?  I eventually realized I was spending more time untangling the skeins than crocheting the afghan.
Some patterns cannot be successfully completed without cutting the yarn and tying it off.  My baby booties are a good example.  The foot part ends at the center of the sole.  The anklet has to be started at the top side of the ruffle.  There is no way to complete the bootie without ending one phase and beginning another.
Don't be afraid of using scissors.  They are necessary.  Learn to let go, tie off, and begin again.  Some patterns call for it.  Some situations in life do, too.

My Jesus,
Help me to let go when it is time to let go.  Help me to turn my back and walk away when it is time for me to leave.  Don’t let me cling to things that are not good for me. Help me to let go, help me to let go, help me to let go.  Amen.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Prayer of Saint Patrick

Victor Johnson (Arranger), Mark Burrows (Composer)
SATB, Piano
I do not receive any compensation for posting these anthems here; I just think they are terrific. Evelyn

Saturday, March 12, 2011

on Leadership - by Zeno of Citium

We have been given two ears and but a single mouth in order that we may hear more and talk less.

Zeno of Citium

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Choosing the Right Yarn

Psalm 139: 13-14
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your words are wonderful, I know that full well.

I get all glazy-eyed at a craft store.  I stand amazed and awed by the vast array of colors, weights, materials, and plies of all the yarns before me.  I probably drool, too.
I am an adventurous crotcheter.  I see a fluffy chenille and think, what if I used it for a basket weave pattern?  I admire the all organic 100% cotton yarn and wonder how it would work for a summer skirt.  Sometimes it works.  Sometimes it doesn't.
Lessons I have learned from these experiments:
  • chunky yarn should not be used for large projects requiring small hooks
  • fuzzy yarn works better as a knitted project because crochet hooks get caught in the knaps
  • Wool tugs at my heritage and makes me yearn imaginatively for fishing villages and peat fires.  However, wool really does not work well in the tropics
  • when the contents state “4% other", it will shrink, stretch, fade, and/or itch
  • baby yarn is fabulous – soft, gentle colors, washable -- but cannot replace chunky yarn nor vice versa in order to yield an article in the correct and expected proportions
People are like yarn.  Each has its own weight, ply, and content.  Each should be used in patterns which fit them.  The differences between yarn -- and people -- depend on their content and how they were twisted and twined.   I think I'm solid, all natural, tan cotton four ply yarn.  Probably the best pattern for my life may be to become a potholder.  People need potholders.  Potholders protect and preserve.  They are washable and always smell of sugar cookies.  If I spend my whole life trying to become a baby blanket or a chemotherapy cap, I will be useless.  Four-ply is too big for a baby blanket and cotton is not warm enough for a chemotherapy cap.
I trust God to weave me into a suitable pattern for my life.  God knows my fabric content.  He knows the appropriate use for me.  After all, He made me.

Dear Lord,
Let me not just be content with the pattern you have chosen for my life.  Let me be ecstatic about it.  Amen.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Comfort the People

Trilby Jordan (Author), Roger Summers (Composer)

I do not receive any compensation for posting these anthems here; I just think they are terrific. Evelyn