Thursday, December 31, 2015

Talitha Cumi: Last Quilt of 2015

In Mark 5:41 Jesus brings a young girl back from the dead when He says, "Talitha, cumi."  (Tuh-LEE-thuh KOO-mee). It means "little girl, arise."

Back in the summer, my friend Lauren and her husband received devastating news: their baby girl --only six months old--had brain cancer. When Lauren heard it from the doctor,  she ran to a waiting room, fell facedown and bawled and screamed (she gives permission to tell this) and completely "lost it" for several minutes.

Then, as audibly as a human standing there speaking, a voice said "Talitha cumi." She knows it was Lord speaking. Immediately a peace flooded over her soul, and hope filled her, although she didn't understand what the phrase meant. She got up and began to gain strength for the battle ahead.

Lauren and her husband researched the phrase "Talitha cumi"  when they got home. "Little girl, arise."  From then on, they've held onto the belief that Sophia will be healed of cancer.

At the time when I heard the news, I happened to be on vacation to my husband's side of the family in Ohio.  Our oldest niece is a maker and seller of children's clothing and her name is--get this--Talitha.
(Her parents like the sound of it and that it means "little girl.")

 Talitha had recently bought a Janome Skyline sewing machine which I was all too eager to try out. She gave me some bright, cheery scraps from her stash, and I began sewing them together into a string quilt.

That quilt became what I worked on when I wasn't making doll quilts or home dec things. I prayed for Sophia and her family every time I sewed.

The backing is pink doggie flannel. Sophia loves dogs, and flannel is soft, warm and cozy. Those chemo rooms get very chilly.

I sewed a heart to the upper corner of the front side and stitched the words "Talitha Cumi" on it.

Then I labeled it, wrapped it and gave it to my friend Lu to give to her daughter Lauren to give to Sophia for her first birthday. That was in mid-December.

Sophia is doing all right. She's home for now. Her cancer is aggressive, but the treatments are proving helpful. And we hold onto the hope that Lauren found in scripture: Talitha cumi.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Ties that Bind in the Year-End Hodgepodge

 Here we are, folks, at the last Hodgepodge of 2015 on the penultimate day of the year. (Not only do I have a penchant for pens, I have a penchant for the word "penultimate".) 

Anyway, big shout out to our hostess, Joyce, who has kept rolling out the questions each week, give or take a holiday ,as the calendar pages have kept flipping faster than a trout on a fishing line.

1. Share a favorite memory/moment from the week of Christmas.

For sentimental reasons, I loved having all my kids together for Christmas Eve service at my sons' church. 

For funny reasons, my favorite memory was during the gift exchange. My little niece was here and I was eager to see her open the pair of winter boots and some Hello Kitty slippers (which she calls "spurs") that I bought for her.  My sister has trained her, by example, to say "ooooooh!" (very sing-songy) when the present is opened. Well, Jordan would start with the "oooooh!" as soon as she ripped the first piece of wrapping paper off.  It's quite the hilarious build-up coming from a 2 and 1/2 year old.  

Then, the very second she saw her new pink and purple boots, she started peeling off her dress shoes. Then she grabbed out the first boot, tried to put it on, then looked up at me and asked, "Hee-ulp?" (Help?) That little Midwestern drawl that she has picked up from my sister and my mom is just too cute.  I  gave her hee-ulp with the left boot and then she wanted hee-ulp with the right boot. As soon as her boots were zipped up, she exclaimed, "Walk!" then got up and started her sporting the new boots.  Lacy, frilly Christmas dress and all. 


2.  If someone wrote a book about your life based on the past year, what genre would it fall under? What would the title be?

Genre: Non-fiction, inspirational
Title:  When Grown Children Pastor their Parents: A Story of the Healing of a Marriage and Family by the Grace of God

We celebrated our 29th wedding anniversary by going away on the 27th and 28th (the latter being our actual Day)  and it felt really, really special.  It's like I can't get enough of my man these days. He pretends not to like so much attention, but we know better. (Wink, wink.) We went to St. Michael's, Maryland--a quaint, fishing town on the Eastern Shore. (I found out while visiting that The Wedding Crashers movie was filmed there.)
Monday evening we ate the Harbor Tavern, al fresco, by the fireplace. Yes, we'd had 68 degrees during the day and the night air was comfortable with this romantic fire so close.  I was having a bad hair day, but --oh well. Does it matter when you're in love? (Hubby hates selfies, so I have to catch him in the first three tries or he's done.)

3. What made you feel patriotic this year?

Seeing men and women in uniform. Still proud to serve their country. Still sacrificing for freedom. Almost every time I see someone in fatigues when I'm out and about, I'll make the effort to shake their hand and thank them for their service. 

4. What experience from this past year would you like to do all over again?

Visit my sister in Kentucky.  And not just because she has turned a log cabin into the coziest, warmest, most beautiful home in the middle of lush, green countryside with horses grazing. (And she did it herself while facing an impending divorce.)  But I'd do it all over for the closeness we now have as sisters that was lacking before on a spiritual level.  She and I could never talk together about the Lord and things of God because she was calloused toward Him. My depression interfered with experiencing the fullness of His love, too. However, we both had personal transformations that drew us back to God and, as a result, to each other. Suddenly we were encouraging each other with scripture and devotional passages. We were connecting at a heart level as never before. What we have in common is not just our parents and siblings anymore. 

Spending time with her, seeing her joy despite the incredible betrayal and anger and extreme sadness caused by her ex, was exactly what she and I needed this past summer. 

5. What song lyric sums up or is a reflection of your 2015?

When peace like a river attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll, 
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

6. On a scale of 1-10 how would you rate 2015?  (10=stellar) Why?

First half, 5.  Second half 10.  So let's meet halfway and call it  a 7.5.

7. What part of the upcoming year are you most excited about?

Well, right now, as I write this, my husband is six days away from a major heart surgery. I am at peace, but it makes one think harder as never before, about life and death, life after death, life after an extreme operation. So to think about being "excited" in the new year is relative.  

I have been praying for a grandchild, and while there has been no announcement, I am in faith that 2016 will bring either a baby or the glad waiting during pregnancy. 

8. Insert your own random thought here.

All I ask is for prayer for my dear husband and our family for next Tuesday and following. It's sure to be a difficult road to recovery, but this surgery is meant to prevent a ruptured aorta. He'll be operated on by one of the top three cardiac surgeons in the world and is ultimately in the Best Hands --those of the Great Physician. 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Embraced in 2015

This time of year I ask God to reveal a special word for me to hold onto, to ponder, welcome, write about, and live. This past year the word was "embrace."

 I embraced change --not eagerly. I selfishly didn't want my daughter to move to Florida, but she has been thriving there in the area of trusting God. 

Thanks to my sons who pastor their parents sometimes, and for my daughters who intercede, I embraced forgiveness and freedom from strongholds which meant first repenting of unbelief (that of thinking some things would never change for the good, no matter what).

 I embraced a new job that I love, tutoring Chinese kids I've come to love and who now understand something about Jesus, starting with how his name is pronounced! 

Rather than resist, I embraced turning 50, and the grey hairs that began multiplying with each sunrise. I turned my back on my pride that would cause me to do things the "safe way," the familiar way, where I would operate in my strengths rather than embracing my weaknesses and working to strengthen them. 

I embraced a ministry that requires several hours a month to feed homeless and/or needy people, and I look forward to creating many more tasty meals with my ministry partner Debbie who is also a "theme girl". 

I embraced the reality that we will all face death, and some of us the death of a spouse, so I got serious about my marriage as never before, embracing my husband as my best friend and not trying to change him any more but to love him more than ever before. ( I'm a slow study--took me 28.5 years to accept us both as we are.) 

I embraced the signing of a will-- which I'd dreaded, but which ended up being a huge relief and a gift to us and our children and future grandchildren.

Most importantly, I have embraced the love of God and the firm belief that He is not angry with me any more, and that I can't "do more and be better" in order to please Him. He delights in me because I'm His. I never got that before. Bits and pieces, yes, but my past was always tripping me up. I used fall asleep under a blanket of guilt, of having not measured up. Now I fall asleep telling God I love Him and Asking Him to sing me to sleep, or by praying for others till I can't anymore because I'm asleep. I've embraced a love for Him, for my family, for my friends, for strangers, that was lacking before this year. It was there but I wasn't embracing full-on love because I was afraid of being hurt, or criticized. I feel like I'd been in a cocoon, self-protective, barely growing. But in 2016 there's been a personal metamorphosis in my life-- I broke out of that cocoon and grew wings. This metamorphosis can be summed up in the word "embrace." Praise to the One who has created this miraculous change! 

Jesus loves me, this I know!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Marcy's Quintet, Kaleidoscope, and Jesus Loves Me Quilts

In mid-November, I finished three baby doll quilts for Operation Christmas Child. I get so much pleasure out of making these, imagining the little girls who will receive them and pretend to be mommies. 

This first one of five butterflies I have named Marcy's Quintet.  My husband is one of five kids (all boys) and their mother's name was Marcella. People close to her called her Marcy.

One night I just wanted to sew mindlessly for the thrill of the humming machine. No pattern, I started sewing brightly colored strips together. I used the popsicle fabric colors as a color palette. Once I finished making five random sets, it was time to make a template. Sure, I could've used the internet to download an image, but I can draw--or so I thought. I wasn't getting the look I wanted. So what do I do when I'm stuck? I call one of my resident artists.
 My son free-handed a butterfly template for me. He's so funny; it took him five seconds to draw one and then he tossed the pencil down and said, "Bam! Done!" 

 I machine appliqued the butterflies onto a blue-sky fabric background. I used echoing for the quilting with a few random hearts in the blank areas. I didn't want the quilting too dense because that will stiffen the quilt. Puffy and fluffy is how I like them. 

The second one, a bit smaller, is simply called "Jesus Loves Me."  Though the smallest, 
it gave me the most problems. I don't remember all of them, but the plaid fabric kept wanting to stretch, and I couldn't find a backing I loved. Yes, I know it's "just a doll quilt" and shouldn't matter, but it does. Every design decision is important to me. 

While trying to decide, I happened to see a contest on a quilting forum. 
The lady was giving away fabric bundles from her stash,  under one condition: that you really wanted or needed the fabric and would pay it forward. If your name was picked, it was yours. I took one look at the butterfly fabric with all the same colors as the front of the Jesus Love Me quilt, and entered my name. Winning was such a thrill! To have 
an immediate place to "pay it forward" felt like  a God thing. 

To quilt it, I did some meandering and also FMQ'ed (free motion quilted) some 
daisies . Far from perfect, but that's the point of these little quilts. They are my 
practice fields.

This string quilt was a lot of fun to make. But when it was finished, I had a hard time thinking of a name. Normally that's the easy part. So I posted it on Facebook and immediately had
several people say "Kaleidoscope." So, that's what it is.  I  did more meandering for this one .

                         I used a longish strip and made a label which I sewed into the binding.
                                         John 3:16 is the reference I always include on my labels.

 Ultimately the doll quilts went into shoeboxes as gifts through Operation Christmas Child. I bought Hispanic baby dolls from Discount School Supply.

Since I used the "track it" option with Samaritan's Purse, I'll be able to see where these three boxes end up. I can hardly wait.