the end of the beginning

Thursday, December 13, 2012

I remember well a quilting frame as much a part of my grandmother's house as the sofa. One year for my birthday my parents took me up to my room and there, all set up and dressed in a quilt, handmade by my grandma, was a canopy bed. I felt like a princess!

She could also knit and crochet. While she was able, for my first 3 babies, she crocheted them each a blanket and knit them many a sweater. Now, four years after her passing, I would love nothing more than to sit by her side and learn all she knows. 

I have, for the last year and a half, been somewhere in the process of making quilts for my three girls. The beginning part was such fun. This is the choosing of the fabric! Next you prepare it by washing and drying it, and then comes the cutting. Since these were my first quilts I went with a simple square pattern. I then laid all the squares out on the floor and put together a plan. Not too much of one color next to the same, intersperse patterned pieces and plain (repeat this step after your little ones find such fun in walking through all your hard work, kicking squares and giggling up a storm). Then comes the sewing together of the squares. No matter how precisely I cut and regardless of all the time spent measuring, some corners just did not line up. I had to let this go. It was around this time that I simply lost steam. The quilt tops lay folded up in a tidy pile over the course of the next year. 

We have for the last few years been making the Christmas gifts we give to our children. Each November Darren and I decided what we want to make and get to work. The children have followed suit and now every Christmas it feels like Santa's workshop around here. We have too much fun, crafting and whispering, building and hiding for and from each other. 

As Darren and I talked about what to do for the 2 older girls, those quilt tops came back to my mind and I knew it was time to pull then out. They would make the perfect partner gift to our plan. So out came the tops and the safety pins. My sweet sister-in-law and I went to the church, taped quilts to the floor and for hours we pinned. 

Ready to sew tops, bottoms, and in-betweens together, I had grand ideas of hand-stitching each one. After a few hours of this I realized that as wonderful as that would be, if I wanted to get them done in time I would need to use the machine. So with a cute stitch I sewed and sewed and sewed - everything sandwiched together, ready for the final step.

I went to the fabric store to find the perfect binding. I do not recommend this. It can be quite a dangerous thing to do. You see after a year and a half of looking at the same fabric, one can get to the point of loathing. I fell in love with so many fabrics, none of which went with my quilts. I had visions of scrapping them and starting all over again. I could not find anything I liked that would go with what I had already chosen. So after an hour I walked out of the store empty handed. With one hope left I went across the street to the quilting shop. When the sweet lady quilter behind the counter asked if she could help I said, "Yes! Please! I need you to help me fall in love with my quilts again." Like only a grandmother could she told me to go and get my quilts from the van. Within 2 minutes I had the most perfect fabric, three of the most perfect fabrics, with which to bind (as all of the quilts are the same I wanted to bind each quilt with a different fabric for each girl). She did it. I fell out of loath and back into love, and I am happy to report that even though my little one was not changed out of her jammies all day I am finished. 

I like to imagine that my grandmother is pleased. I thought about her more than usual, every stitch of the way. I am now an official quilter, through and through, hooked for life. So even though she did not teach me to quilt, I imagine my love for the thing as come from her. Thank you Grandma.

The only problem really is that I neither have enough children nor beds for all the quilts I want to make!

a turning

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Life is hard. Challenges come, and go...... but then come right back again clothed in different colors. When  life seems as bleak as the late November sky, heart knocks against chest and I wonder.....

As seasons have come and gone, prayers have changed from those of relief to that of acceptance. In the acceptance of what is offered there is hope. I pray for the best, hope for the best, but embrace whatever comes. There is something in those dark days for us to learn.

This becomes obvious to me as my little man sits filled with sadness curled up in a corner. Life is this moment for him. He does not see past the present. This is all that exsists in his world right now. This shortness of sight, what we cannot see is that this, all of it, is part of our path. It is not the beginning, nor is it the end. It is not a detour, as we attempt to get back on the right road. This is our road, all of it making up the miles we travel.

The path closes in around us. It is dense and thick, but what we cannot see is that just around the corner, the trees begin to thin and the sky opens up. Here - we have made it and now can see past the stumbling blocks that once stood in our way, out across wide sky.

How did I not see it before. Maybe I was not ready. Lessons needed learning so that once I got to the top they would no longer be the focus of my attention. I view again those things I thought were holding me back, those stumbling blocks which tripped me up and brought me to my knees. And I am grateful - for all the ugly, which when wound together with skillful hands with all the beautiful become just that - beautiful - through eyes of the heart. The view never changed. It was I who could not see what was waiting for me at the top. Of each new mountain I am asked to climb, I have the hope of a vista bathed in grace awaiting me at the end.

Children grow and I begin to understand. I have an immeasurable role here as mother. It is to love, most of all, and to teach, and train, and never give up on sweet souls. But it is not to change hearts. That role has been filled, long before, by hands much more capable than mine. How often do I try and fix it all? How much more often should I turn troubled children back to the Lord. My heart hurts for the aches of these little people, these pieces of my very soul. I want to sweep them up in my arms, and kick all trial out the back door. I try to fit pieces back together. In frustration, when I cannot seem to find the answers, my heart is hushed and I am told that they are old enough now. Never stop praying for their sake, but don't pray for answers that belong to them to find. What could be more important? Of all the things I teach, from nouns to fractions, this is the most valuable lesson of all. Teach them to come to Him. Teach them to listen. Teach them that only He can fix broken hearts and just how much He wants to do so. Teach them that they have endless potential, and through the grace of only Him, it can be reached. Trials cement character deep in young foundation.

A weight lifts from sagging shoulders. Turn them back to Him. He knows the way when one mom cannot see past crumbs and chaos. These are the wings we are to give our fledglings which will enable them to soar. On the updraft of one who will never tire or lead astray, at moments when one mom's flesh is weak, He will lead them on.