Quilting Parallels of Life

There is a woman who is very near and dear to our family’s hearts who is going in for a mastectomy tomorrow.  This is the second time they have found her to have breast cancer.  It is also fitting that she is having her surgery in the month of October, which is breast cancer awareness month.  Please keep her and her family in your prayers.

But, I write this because I sent her a little note late last week that read:

Keep my quilted heart with you at times when you may need to recall that what the surgeons are doing to you is much the same as I do to fabric – taking a perfectly good piece of material, cut it up and make something even more beautiful than when I began.  My quilts are stitched with love and then held together with the quilting that’s applied to it and usually gifted to others with love.  I find many parallels where my quilt process mimics life – taking what is already good and making it better.  THAT is our prayer for you and your health.  Sometimes, this process makes a beautiful crazy quilt – and that SO fits some folks in both our families <smirk>.

Today, the day before her surgery, she writes me back a quick note:

Your quilting parallels to life situations is beautiful. Thanks so much for sharing with me at this time of need! Keep quilting with God’s love in every stitch, my friend. Love in Christ.

 I didn’t have time to make her one of my “Crazy Quilt Hearts“, but my analogy was basically the same as if I had made one for her.

We will continue to pray for her surgeons, for her, her husband and her family – that we can selfishly keep this beautiful soul amongst us for a while longer.  She still has much to share, and we still have much to learn from her.

 

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    Quilt Therapy is Grand…but it is NOT Cheaper than a Professional Therapist!

    I see it often – someone writes on Facebook that quilt therapy is less expensive than professional therapy.  If that’s the case, those folks aren’t doing it right!!!

    Just the basics needed in quilting would be a sewing machine, needles, an iron and ironing board, cutting mat with a rotary cutter and ruler, a pattern, fabric, etc. etc.  You can purchase an inexpensive sewing machine at a big box discount store, as well as the rest of the items.  They will most likely cost you very much – and even though the quality is not top-of-the line, once you are ready for more expensive items…these will do just fine.

    But, to be a true quilter at heart, you will find a need in you for more fabric, a better sewing machine, a long-arm quilter (unless you choose to hand-quilt your completed quilt top).  The list goes on and on.  And even though I’ve been quilting nearly 30 years, I *still* find gadgets that I cannot live without, fabric that feeds my soul and a total

    And once you start buying fabric – it’s never easy to stop!  It almost becomes an obsession!  Okay, okay – I can admit to myself that it IS an obsession.  A passion.  Therapy in the best of ways.  Even if it’s not cheaper than a professional therapist!

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      Live and Learn and Making Your OWN Life

      I am reading a novel at the moment, sorry but I do not even recall what the name is or who the author is.  But, it’s fictional novel about a husband and a wife and their trials and tribulations of trying to have a family when they cannot naturally have one.  The first big thing that popped out at me was the husband, Sam, who had lost his natural parents to them passing away and he was sent from family home to foster to family homes over and over again.  It has not been easy for me to read, and if you’ve read about my 100 FAQs, you’ll understand why this book has been a bit difficult for me to process.

      One of the things that really struck me was the fact that Sam had trouble with adult relationships (wife, family, etc.) and how he needed them but was unable to truly put his heart and soul into them becasue of the way he was raised – always feeling unloved or unwanted.  Because that was all he’d ever known.  He even had a brother who was adopted by a family who didn’t want him. 

      My ‘birth’ family – a few years before the end of our original family life

      Man-o-Man, reading Sam’s early life struck a big knife in my heart…I knew exactly how he felt.  Mind you, none of my “original” siblings were ever adopted by anyone they lived with and neither was I.  But, the part about not being wanted?  Yeah, that was me.  Totally.  While my siblings got to live a life with various family members [my three brothers basically grew up together, even though two were raised by an uncle (my dad’s brother) and my older brother by the same uncle’s daughter’s family and our sister was raised by cousins (on my dad’s side of the family)].  THEY stayed in one place throughout their childhood, while I went from foster home to foster home and eventually to an aunt and uncle on my mother’s side of the family the day I turned 15, who finished raising me.  Four foster homes from the time I was 11-years-old until I turned 17 when I was on my own.  The first two were bad – awful, frankly.  I was actually removed from the first one by the police so that should tell you how bad that home was – and it wasn’t because I was a juvenile delinquent.  The second was where our sister lived, and there wasn’t a day that went by that they didn’t tell me they didn’t want me there – everyone in the house reminded me that I needed to find someplace else to live, from my cousins and expecially by our sister.  The third was a great family, they just had bad things happen while I lived there when they lost their youngest daughter to cancer.  Their grief was too much for me to bear, after having already buried my baby brother and both of my parents.  I barely knew how to handle myself, let alone the grief of others – which also included my own grief over their loss.  Things were fine at my aunt and uncle’s house, though I never truly felt like I fit in with them.  I still don’t, even though we have a good relationship.  They have their natural daughters living close to them, and have access to their grandchildren (by their daughters) close, too.  We live over 1000 miles away, so our relationship is basically via email and (very) occasional visits.  We live this far away by choice, of course, because my home will always be where my husband is and right now, that’s near his mother.

      The thing is, I never really realized how I, throughout the years, looked for love.  My aunt will say I’m loyal to those who love me, unless they really hurt me or my family in some way.  Through that loyalty was love, in my mind’s eye.

      I knew I didn’t really fit in with any family that I lived with – because I wasn’t their natural children.  I was treated differently by ALL of the families I lived wtih, because I wasn’t “theirs” – and to this day, I continue to feel like I’m floating in nowhere-land because I have nothing but love-ties to the two families that I am still in touch with.  That division of mine and ours was a very fine line in the sand, but I knew that line and was unable to cross it.  I also know that in the last foster home I lived in, I had a fear EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. that I was going to do something wrong and they would send me packing, too.  As I read about Sam’s life, I realized that I still felt that way…like everything I have now could be gone any minute. 

      But now, I have my own family to love.  A husband who would AND DOES take care of me in every way he can – from loving me unconditionally to taking care of my health matters.  And we have four wonderfully loving (and smarter than their mother) children who were made with love and who have known from the day they were born that we loved them.

      My own family – my husband and our four children

      Again, something I never had growing up – I do not even recall a time when my own parents said they loved me.  The only person I can say without question who loved me unconditionally was my mom’s mom – my Gramma from Tramma.  There certainly may be others (such as my mom’s youngest sister) who loved me – but my Gramma from Tramma was my lifeline to love and I held on very tightly to that lifeline.

      As I continue on with the novel, I see how much Sam holds back from everyone around him, because he is always afraid of losing them.  Again, totally me.  Although my husband knows more about me and how I grew up than anyone else (except probably an aunt of mine), there are still things he does not know.  Those are parts of me that hurt so very much – and my aunt and uncle always told me to move forward and not look back.  Hence, that’s how I live my life – even though going back is necessary to understand my actions and reactions to various things that happen in our marriage and family – it will define me for the rest of my life, whether I want it to or not.  But, I’m not going back to the unloved child that I was.  I refuse to do so.

      Right now, I fear losing my kids, especially as our high school senior is planning the next stage of her life as a college student.  I want her to go, to grow, to live life to its fullest.  But, I don’t want to lose her, either.  I’m not worried about losing her love, we’ve made sure she grows up in a house filled with love.  It’s just the part about her not sitting beside us in church, not joining us for dinner, not coming out of her bedroom to share with us things about her day…her enthusium for her art and antics at school that is SO MUCH a part of our family dynamics.

      Out of all of my growing up, though, I learned how I wanted to raise my kids.  I wanted the good parts that made up a family – whether it be from my natural family or from one of the foster homes I lived in.  I wanted to move forward, with love, to raise our children the best way we knew how.  Sure, there’s been bumps in the road – but, never a rut so deep that we couldn’t find out way out of it.  And I truly feel like we’ve done some good with our children.  They love easily, they laugh quickly, they are compassionate toward others.  The bottom line is that they are LOVED. 

      I will finish the book, and probably look over some of the trials and tribulations of Sam as he continues on with his life.  I may not read it as quickly as I’ve read other novels – but, I’m pretty sure this one has a happy ending…and that is what we hope to achieve with our own children.

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        Girl Scouts on the Go

        This past week, some of our nation celebrated the day of the girl.  On Friday afternoon – my two younger daughters also celebrated the day of the girl by having a small Girl Scout bridging and award ceremony.

        My youngest daughter earned her Bronze Award in Girl Scouts.  This award is earned by girls at the Junior level of Girl Scouts and entails a plan they put into action to help others.  They have to put in a certain number of hours on planning, talking to the community and putting their plan into action – all on a volunteer basis.  If there’s a need for funding, they have to find a way to earn that, too.  DD#3 chose to help our local AGAPE room at the church who sponsored our Girl Scout troop.  They already had a lot of clothes and small appliances for the room but the director wanted her to set up a corner in the room for kids – is one thing for needy parents to go shopping but is an added bonus if the kids can pick out something special for themselves, too.  Our daughter raided our bookshelves and cleaned out her bedroom and set up her little corner in the AGAPE room with those items, plus items that were donated.  She also volunteered to help once a month when the AGAPE room was open.  My mother-in-law worked with our daughter to make all of this happen.

        Our middle daughter earned her Silver Award.  This is the next step in Girl Scout awards, earned by a Cadette Girl Scout.  She chose to help a local animal rescue place by making dog treats for their dogs.  She had to do all of the things that were mentioned above for our younger daughter, but she had to put in 50 volunteer hours instead of 20.  The kicker of the Silver (and Gold) awards is that she has to make her project sustainable.  This means, long after she’s earned her award, the project she put into play has to continue.  To make this happen, she gave a presentation to the ladies at my mother-in-law’s church by sharing the recipe she and her dad came up with for all natural dog treats – and then she showed them how to make them.  The ladies at the church agreed to make four dozen dog treats a month.  Then, she got to go out to the rescue ranch and present the treats to the dogs.  This was the part she liked the most 🙂   She will continue to make a few batches of dog treats a month, as well, in the coming year.

        I couldn’t be more proud of my daughters.  Girl Scouts, at the local level, isn’t about politics.  It’s not about who is allowed to be in the troop or not.  It’s about the GIRLS and a goal of helping them learn leadership through a great program.  I can tell you that I have been a leader for 10+ years and each of my three daughters learned more about kindness, compassion and leadership through their Girl Scout affiliation than they learned just about anywhere else. 

        We will continue on.  Both of these girls will be in the same troop next year.  DD#2 will be working toward her Gold Award, the highest award for a Girl Scout to achieve; and DD#3 will be working toward her Silver Award.  At this point, they still love their time as Girl Scouts and as long as they continue loving it, we will find a way to facilitate them moving forward!

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          Quilted Love #5 from QuiltKitsAndQuarters.com

          My quilting policy is that I send a quilt to to a long-arm quilter and I ask them to choose the best quilting for my quilt.  I am not picky and I believe the best quilters are those who look at a quilt and quilt it to enhance my quilt design.  And there are times when the quilting TOTALLY “makes” the quilt.  This week, I want to show you some loverly quilts that were quilted by Kathryn Rister from Quilt Kits and Quarters.  Click on the images to make them larger so you can see the quilting detail of the quilt:

          “Bittersweet Churning” 2012 Block of the Month Quilt FREE Pattern from BOMquilts.com designed by TK Harrison

          Quilting Detail – Quilted by Kathryn Rister of Quilt Kits and Quarters

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