Archive | January 2014

Sounds in the Old Farmhouse

Not too many years ago, I wondered if life would always be a hectic whirlwind of activities. The calendar was rainbow colored, a different color for each member of the family plus orange for ‘ALL family event’. Would there ever be time to do all the laundry, wash, fold, AND put away, in one day? The sounds that filled this old farmhouse:
giggling,
     talking,
          teasing,
               playing drums, trombone, clarinet, piano,
                    arguing,
                         reading,
                              praying.
Beautiful sounds, yet some days I longed for quiet. Peace and quiet.

The Lord knew what he was doing when one child at a time moved out and into their own home. This Momma would not have known what to do if they had all left at once! Just as they were added to the family one at a time, and necessary adjustments were made, the same has been done in reverse.

Peace and quiet have returned to this old farmhouse. I don’t have to rush through my shower, or be paged while in the bathroom. However, some days it seems too quiet. Those are the days that I especially miss my children and their families, and I long for the miles between us to be erased. It is so selfish of me to want to have them close. We live in a day of instant messaging, video calling, photo sharing, and telephoning most anywhere they may be. How did the Momma’s say final farewells as their children boarded the ships to sail the ocean blue? How did they say goodbye as they rolled away in rattly, bumpy wagons to a land wild and unknown? With our modern technology, the miles seem much shorter than they did even thirty-some years ago when I moved 6 states away from where I always called home. Sometimes this old farmhouse is more than quiet, it is SILENT, and in the absence of my bustling family I miss the sounds of:
giggling,
     talking,
          teasing,
               playing drums, trombone, clarinet, piano,
                    arguing,
                         reading,
                              praying.

However, I am reminded that they are not mine to cling to, and by doing so I would essentially be putting them above God. In the Bible we are told to seek God above everything. My love for my family should never supersede my love for God! My children were given to me to love, raise, teach and then release to go wherever God calls them. I tend to need reminders to release rather than clutch, whether they are in Kansas, Guatemala, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Russia, Africa…

Thank you, Lord, for today’s quiet moments. Thank you, that when this old farmhouse seems too silent, you fill it with whispers of love, encouragement, reassurance, forgiveness, peace, and your presence.

Finished and Delivered

After three years, it is finished and hand delivered! That is two years ahead of schedule, or a year late depending what your view is. Oh goodness! I’m getting ahead of myself.

It all began as a dream when God blessed me with a daughter in the midst of three brothers. I wanted to piece and hand stitch a double wedding ring quilt for her wedding present. I purchased fabric 3 years ago, and let it sit untouched for several months. Finally, I found the courage to begin cutting all the beautiful fabrics. I was filled with doubt and reservation fearing I’d mess it up. I managed to get the pieces cut and sewn together forming the quilt top in time for my daughter’s last wedding shower. She was quite surprised as I was able to do most of the piecing while she was on the other side of the world, and I kept it out of site when she was home, (Read more here: Double Wedding Ring Quilt)

Last January, I began hand quilting the sandwiched top, batting, and back. Some women can sit and stitch day on end completing a quilt in a week or two. Not me! I stitch slow, and might get a day here or there that can be mostly spent quilting. However, most days I was only stitching a few minutes to an hour, and when summer rolled around, the quilt was all but forgotten. I basically took a four month vacation from quilting, while I gardened, farmed, mowed lawn, and remodeled the hall and bathroom. I simply threw a sheet over the quilt in quilt frames to keep it from getting dusty. It was there ready and waiting for stitching in the Fall.

While working on this quilt, I spent many hours reminiscing and praying for my daughter. I also recognized a few things about myself. I can have a great idea or plan, but I can delay beginning due to fear of messing it up or not being satisfied with the end product. I am so thankful for the coaching and encouragement I received along the way. I did have some mess ups, and a few connecting points don’t look the best. The quilt is far from stitching perfection, but I’d like to think those little mistakes give it character. (Sorry if that comment made some of you expert quilters gasp.) I also learned the benefit of breaking down a big goal into several benchmark achievements. The big picture can be so overwhelming, but when I set realistic goals for specific steps (cutting, stitching arcs, piecing to filler pieces, completing the top, quilting one row…) it was not as daunting. These were not new self-discoveries, but it had been awhile since I was this challenged to work through some of my weaknesses, doubts, and fears. The bottom line was that I wanted this quilt gift to be perfect for my only daughter, and I knew before I began that it would be far from perfect.

Quilts often tell a story. This one can be symbolic of relationships. God chose me to be the Perfect Imperfect mother of my dear daughter, and He chose her to be my Perfect Imperfect daughter. Those imperfections have been the tool to cause us to grow as individuals, and as mother and daughter. The double wedding ring pattern is symbolic of the love that binds a marriage. However, there is no marriage that does not encounter difficult times. In the Bible and first chapter of his book, James says, “when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.  For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.”  James 1:2, 3 NLT  If my daughter notices the imperfections in her quilt, I hope she is reminded  to depend on God to help hold the stitches tight, rather than let her marriage unravel.

I put in the last binding stitches just a couple days before we celebrated Christmas with our family. It was such a delight to be able to hand deliver this quilt just a couple weeks after my daughter’s 1st wedding anniversary. Through determination and perseverance, this Double Wedding Ring quilt was finished and delivered!

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Carrying Burdens into 2014

It is with a heavy heart that I make this first blog entry for the new year 2014. The old year slammed shut with a harsh finality for some of my friends. I am left pondering, “How does one sincerely carry another’s burden of grief and loneliness, shock and disappointment, hurt and unforgiveness?”

Three friends with three completely different situations. My heart aches for each of them.

Psalm 55:22 tells us to “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you.” That is what I’ve been doing on behalf of these dear ones, praying for them and asking God to help them through this difficult time. I’ve also been praying for myself. Why? Because I need wisdom to know how to reach out in love, compassion, and gentleness. I need to let each know that I love, care and hurt for them. I need to be available with a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, open arms to hug or hold. I may need self-control to keep my mouth shut, or boldness to say what needs said. I need to be proactive in prayer and availability. I need to live out Apostle Paul’s instruction to “Carry each other’s burden.” (Gal.6:2)

As the door of 2013 slammed shut, the cold wind blew open the door of 2014. No matter what happens this year, I know that “the LORD is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.” (Psalm 100:5)

 “Carry each other’s burdens”  Galatians 6:2