Thursday, December 31, 2015

Night Sky Quilt

Over the past few months, I have been quietly working on several projects. One of them was in collaboration with my two cousins, who are sisters. Neither one of them are avid quilters, but they joined in on quite a huge project with me to celebrate their mom. They put in many hours designing, drafting patterns, learning, cutting, ironing, sewing, ripping stitches, and all the other steps that go into a quilt.

We didn't pick an easy pattern. I guess we could have made it easier on ourselves, since it was their first quilt, but that would have been boring. Here is my original sketch.

This was a quilt with many prayers and a purpose. When my cousin Sarah called me excitedly saying, "let's make a family quilt, and let's make it for my mom," I can't tell you how excited I was. I was excited because I adore my aunt, and also, I knew I would get to spend lots of time with my cousins making it.

It turned out huge at about 94 by 95 inches. We wanted to make it to fit her bed exactly. It took three people to hold it up.


When I tried to hold it by myself, it was pretty hard! 




Can I tell you how much I adore my aunt? She is that strong person who rallies around you, telling you it's going to be okay and to keep going. She is wisdom when you feel a situation is beyond grace. She is joy. Her laugh lights up any room. She is loud. She does not love quietly from a distance, but she is right there with open arms. She is not that Christian who uses scripture to get her way and to put up a fa├žade. She is that God-fearing woman who uses scripture to live and show that God is good and worth trusting. And, she is family. She is family that shows up. And I love her. Isn't she so beautiful?!?
There are words of inspiration, scriptures, and even song lyrics everywhere. I pray that if she ever feels down or tired that she reads through the quilt and remembers how loved she is.

There are also lots of cats in this quilt. She loves cats. They are in the sky, trees, and even in the windows of one of the houses. They are so cute. The only thing that could have made this quilt better would have been to include a free kitty with it. Thanks Heather Ross for making adorable kitty fabric.

Finally, here is the back. It was made from Anna Maria Horner cotton voile fabrics that I have been collecting over the past few years. This means the back of the quilt feels like butter. 

Thanks for reading! I pray everyone has a prosperous new year, filled with many memories of love and happiness. 






Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A Walk through the Garden

My husband and I have this habit that is both good and bad. We love to stay up at night talking to each other. From the first night we met, we would stay up until almost 4 a.m. most nights just talking about nothing and everything. We were in college at the time, and I did not mind staying up so late because my classes were later in the day so I would just sleep in. He had 8:00 a.m. classes; so, he must have really loved me to stay up chatting with me so many nights. Well, fast forward to over a decade later, and we still do this! 

Last night, my head hit the pillow around 11:00 p.m., and I turned to him to pray with him and say good night. Well, before I knew it, it was late, very late, and we were talking about our relationship before marriage, and how we came together. The ups, the downs, the friends, and everything in between. The conversation was so sweet to me because it reminded me of the journey and the time it took for us to both realize we could not live without each other. This journey had so many beautiful moments (and heartbreaking moments) that were shaded by the people we were maturing to be. 

And, now for my latest quilt....


When I initially drew the design for my "A Walk through the Garden" quilt, I was overtaken by the thoughts of the places and moments we have in life, and how our perspective changes as we go through this journey. So, I drew flying geese that changed through the color spectrum as they encountered different images of my favorite fabric. Since most of my favorite fabrics are floral in nature, this walk became a walk through a Garden.

This morning, while I thought over my conversation with hubby last night, I could not stop thinking of this quilt. The meandering colors spoke to me about the journey through life we have had together and that despite where we have been and what we have been doing, God never left us. He was always there. And, in that moment, comfort hit me like a wave. I felt comfort in knowing that when I was at my worst, he helped me, and loved me even more by helping me out of it. My relationship with God took time, and my relationship with my hubby took time. You do not get to know someone's character in two weeks.

One of the things I enjoy about quilting is that it takes time. Yes! It is slow and methodical, and often mindless. You come up with a plan, pattern, or idea, and then, you find the most beautiful way to carry it out. And, this my friend, is my approach to life. (1) Find out God's will/plan/desire. (2) Believe He is able to do it. and (3) Have patience. The bible says in Hebrews 10:35, 36 says "So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised." 

Here is the back:


So, I want to briefly chat about how to enjoy the journey. You know, that patience part. When you know the dreams God has in your heart, and you just want them all NOW. Patience seems like a dirty word to some because, frankly, waiting can be frustrating. And, technology has made waiting unnecessary in so many ways so we lack practice in our attitude while waiting skills. How did people raise children before google and YouTube? Seriously! Patience is not waiting, though. Patience is how you wait. Google tells me that patience is "the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset." Patience is about how you wait. It is about attitude and choice. Apply patience to your every day life. Refuse to let the worries over every day things cause anger and frustration to you, and it will make patience easier with the bigger things. Start small. Start with watching a 2 year old complete a task you have asked them to do thirty times that day. Ok, maybe that is not small, but start somewhere because you get good at what you practice. Oh, and look at Luke cooperating. Two year-olds cooperate so well with food in hand!


Another key to practicing patience is to remember that life is not all about having everything finished because everything in life will NEVER be finished. As long as you have breath, something will need to cleaned, a meal will need to be prepared, a butt will need to be wiped, the laundry will need to be put away, and a project will be on the table. I think our attitude about wanting everything finished comes from our desire to rest. It takes faith to rest. Faith that life will still be manageable if you stop for one day. I hear the word "hurry" so much that it has become like a curse word to me. I even despise it more when it comes out of my mouth to my children when I am lacking time. God help me slow down and enjoy all the moments I have with my children while they are small, medium size, and big. I don't want to wish away my life by looking forward to the completion of the things I am working on.














Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Time

Ten months ago, I started this pretty simple plus quilt. I finished the top rather quickly, and then, since it was huge (king size), I set it aside to quilt later. Well, fast forward to a few weeks ago, and I finally picked it back up and finished it! Despite being so massive, finishing it was not nearly as much work as I had imagined. With this quilt, I would love to tell a story about time. Time is the one thing that it seems everyone want to have added to them. So, today, we will chat about adding time to our lives. For now, here is that top when I finished it ten months ago:


I love to listen to podcasts while I sew. Last week, I was listening to one where the speaker made a statement that has been stuck in my head ever since. He said, "I want to be rich with time."Since then, I've thought a lot about the pursuits most people have. From my Western perspective, it appears that the majority of people's days and thoughts are focused on money and the pursuit of it. Most people want more time so they can either make more money or spend the money they have. Now, don't get me wrong. Money is good. It's what you do with money and the relationship you have with it that matters. The Bible does not say money is evil. Rather, it says, "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." (1 Timothy 6:10) Furthermore, Matthew 6:24 says, "No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money." The amount of money a person has really has nothing to do with their relationship with money. Poor people can love money, despite having none of it. Rich people can love money and use it to by stupid things. On the other hand, rich people can see money as a tool to help others.  How much money you have is not the focus or point of these scriptures. You see, money is an amplifier. It shows the condition of one's heart. It amplifies what you really care about and love. It is good for a kind and giving person to have money. "Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward them for what they have done." (Proverbs 19:17)



So, back to the podcast. The reason the speaker wanted more time was to spend more time in prayer and pursuing the things he believes God has for him to do in his life. What a noble cause! He did not want more time to finish projects or more time to work harder to make more money. You see, he understood that the most important thing he could do is spend time with God, find God's will for him, and do God's will for his life.

Several days after listening to his message, I had an acquaintance tell me that she did not have time for "people like me." Gasp. That hurt. A little back story to this person: She is very high up in an MLM company and makes six figures a year off of selling stuff to people. Upon realizing I did not share similar goals as her, she informed me I was wasting her time. WOW. I am so glad she got right to the point and did not waste any more of either of our time. Most people, however, are not as blunt as she is.

So I want more time with God, my family, my friends, and doing all the things God would have me to do in this life. Everyday that you wake up is a day that you have a set amount of time and energy. God is not unjust that he gave some people 25 hours and others 23. To add time to your day, think about what takes your energy. Think about those "time eaters." Here are a few that have stood out to me lately.

(1) Dread and regret. Brooding over the past. Memories of failure and pain can be paralyzing. One of my favorite passages in Ecclesiastes says, "Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work--this is a gift of God. He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart." (Ecclesiastes 5:19, 20) One version of this passage says "for he will not brood much over the days of his life" I love this passage because (a) it acknowledges that God gives wealth and contentment and (b) God can cause life to be such a joy, that the pains of this life do not dominate us. This is my prayer, and I pray it would be yours too.  

(2) Doing things for the wrong reason. If you say yes to every opportunity (whether good or bad) that comes your way, you will have little time to do what you are supposed to be doing. Take time to pray and consider before saying yes to everything. Don't do things to impress people. Don't let people make decisions for you. Trust God and trust what he has told you to do with your life. 

(3) Technology. This is a hard one. I pick up my phone to look up something, and then, after reading many fun articles, liking ten Facebook posts, reading some very fun drama in a mom's group, and checking my email, I cannot even remember why I picked up my phone in the first place. Then, I look up to find one kid in the sandbox, one in front of the tv without any clothes, one going through the trash, and the other on an Ipad. That just set me back thirty minutes. I have had to train myself to put my phone far away while homeschooling my daughter. So, I am sure I am not alone in my love/hate relationship with technology. We all have our vices, but hey, when you are done reading my blog post, just comment and then take a walk around the block with your kids, okay? 

Oh, and, here are some more pictures of my fun plus quilt. I just did straight-line quilting on my home machine. It was too huge to free motion quilt! Sewing and quilting take up a lot of time, but it is time where I am still right there with my family and where I am letting the creative part of me come out. It feels so good to put dreams onto paper and watch them come to life. Abby helped me hold the quilt for this photo. She is just a bit shorter than me (but not much!)



The back is a widescreen by Carolyn Friedlander. I love how the pink binding looks next to it! 


And here are my precious little ones that wanted pictures on my quilt. (Aaron would not sit for this yet!)
Tabitha wanted to show that she is not missing any teeth yet. 

So, now that I have mentioned a few of my personal time drains, tell me about yours. What takes a way your energy? BUT, more importantly, talk to me about how you are letting the Holy Spirit change you and make you into the person you were created to be. "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb." (Psalm 139:13)

 "Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered--how fleeting my life is." (Psalm 39:4) As parents, we always talk about how fast the time goes by with our kids. I pray that my moments with them are rich and my memories are many.


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Beauty in Mistakes

Oh the excitement of finishing another quilt! I love that quilts have stories. My hope is to tell a story with each of my quilts. The story of this quilt is that we all make mistakes and that we can find beauty in the mistakes of life.

Yesterday was rough. Each kid spilled all kinds of things. All. Day. Long. We had broken eggs, paint splattered everywhere, water all over plates, water all over food, and water all over people big and small. We had babies with markers writing on themselves. We had mud. We had life. Beautiful life. 

I finished this quilt a few weeks ago. I was beyond excited about the rainbow of colors and the spiral quilting until I was nearing the end. Then, I noticed that I reversed two squares and no longer had what I planned. Do you see my mistake or do you see a happy little girl and a beautiful quilt, both to be cuddled for many, many years?


As a parent and just as a human, I am daily faced with slip ups, mistakes, spills, and every other unintended act that occurs in this learning place of life. Anger is also there. Discouragement. Frustration. My own inadequacies.

Thank you God for the Holy Spirit, who not only continues to show me grace, but he also helps me show my children the grace they need. "But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative--that is, the Holy Spirit--he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you." John 14:26. I love this verse. The "Advocate" is also translated as the helper, the comforter, and the counselor. The Greek word used is "Paraclete" which generally is a helper. In a legal sense, it is referring to a counselor or attorney. I have even read that among Jewish writers, a good deed was called a paraclete or advocate, and a transgression was an accuser.  Revelations 12:10 calls Satan the Accuser of the Brethren. Nowhere in scripture is the Holy Spirit referred to as our accuser. This is so freeing. It helps me discern between the voices that remind me of my mistakes and constant error and the voice of hope that remind me of God's word. 




So, here is my quilt and its backside. Lots of half square triangles that took longer than I would like to admit. Despite how sad I was when I caught my mistake after I had quilted over it, the beauty of the quilt completely changed. It changed to joy over the fact that life is full of imperfections and that imperfections can still be beautiful. I choose to see the joy in a completed quilt, a quilt that will cuddle many little ones during movie nights. I love to look at the overall picture and embrace that beauty and perfection are not the same. I look at quilts like art work. Quilts make me feel, and my hope is that I can convey that emotion. This quilt speaks volumes to me of happiness in the midst of errors that you cannot undue.



So, how do I deal with oversights, mistakes, spilled milk, and all the other "fun" stuff that goes with being a human and a parent? 

(1) Speak gently. "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs anger." Proverbs 15:1 When you feel yourself getting upset, do everything you can to lower your voice and speak in the sweetest voice you know. If you cannot answer "soft and gentle," then do not answer. This does amazing things when dealing with young children. The quickest way to bring anger into a situation is to start yelling. I may or may not have initially thought yelling was the best solution. Ephesians 4:31 tells us to get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Notice it classifies anger and harsh words along with evil behavior. Ouch.

(2) Remember how Christ has forgiven me. The next verse in Ephesians tells us what to do instead of having anger and harsh words. "Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you." I can easily remember where I have missed it in the passed. My mistakes are so much more massive than a spilled glass of water and mud tracked through the house. 

(3) Give hugs. Lots of hugs. When we hug someone, our pituitary gland releases oxytocin, which lowers our heart rates and our cortisol levels. Cortisol is the hormone responsible for stress, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Also, studies shows that the brains of early-nurtured kids have a larger hippocampus, which may make it easier for them to learn, improve their memory, and even respond to stress. No matter how well-nourished and intellectually stimulated a child is, not having human touch can stunt their mental, emotional and even physical growth. Hugging and holding is my go-to response for crying, missed expectations, and mistakes. It seems to send an instant message that everything is going to be ok. I think we underestimate the power of a loving touch for both ourselves and our children when dealing with mistakes.

(4) Do not rehearse the mistake in your head. Rather, remind yourself of God's ability to make all things work for good. "We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them." Romans 8:28 Talk to God about how to make things right. "Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you." 1 Peter 5:7 I do this step while cleaning up the mess. Life requires lots of clean up. 

(5) Direct. Re-direct. Train. Explain. Re-explain. Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it. Proverbs 22:6 There are lots of applications for this scripture. I just want to point out that we need constant direction, training, and explanation. Life is about learning. Not about being perfect. My goal is to make my home a safe place for learning for my children.

These are just a few of the things I aim to do when dealing with the everyday frustrations of living with small children. Every day is a learning process for me as well as them.

I would love to hear your feedback. How do you deal with anger? How do you cope with all the slip-ups, spills, and accidents that try to steal your joy on a daily basis? Leave me a comment. I would love to learn from you as well. 

XO,
Sharon



Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Hearts and Stars Love Quilt


For the past two years, I have enjoyed making many beautiful things for my etsy shop. With each sell, I felt surprised and grateful. I was always surprised by how quickly things sold and humbled by how sweet the feedback was. I made baby carriers, reusables for the kitchen, feminine products, and nursing pads. When I made mama cloth, I always saved the tiniest of flannel scraps and just could not throw them away. They were shoved in a large tote and were out of sight and out of mind.

One Sunday, I opened up the large tote full of random tiny flannel pieces, and started piecing them together. Not intending to make anything except to make them not so small. This seemed fun, so I kept doing this. Every Sunday I would sew another block and stick it on the wall. Look at it, and see how it made me feel. I started calling this my Sunday quilt after the blocks kept getting bigger.  



Then, my sewing slowly shifted. I wanted to make quilts. I wanted to embrace everything domestic that is currently in this home-making stage of my life. The Etsy shop is still there, and I will still randomly put stuff in it when I feel inspired to. It just will not be the same it has been. Cloth menstrual pads are a medical device according to the FDA. So, no more making pretty panty decorations for me. I had a long time customer tell me "Maybe God has something else special for you." And, that just made my day. She is so right. Psalm 32:8: "The LORD says, 'I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.'"

So, I went back to making my Sunday quilt. Adding squares. Wondering how these would all fit together.




And, with each block, the pieces started coming together and looking so happy next to each other.



I still had tons of tiny pieces that made lots of flying geese. So, the quilt got a flying geese border. It made the quilt even more happy.

                                              

AND Texas got snow. Lots of fluffy snow.



Hubby was so gracious to stand and hold it (on a ladder!) for me. Thank you sweetie!


A closeup of the back :)
                     

God puts in our hearts what to do even when we are not sure how pieces could possibly come together. He can make all the tiny pieces in your life beautiful. warm. and happy.

Now, onto that Saturday quilt top that has yet to be finished...