Monday, January 20, 2014

Unexpected

I have been so very excited to combine my love of sewing with my love of serving God.  I strongly feel that God has gifted me with the time to invest in sewing and the talents to get some things made.


It has been a few years now that I've been wondering just HOW these worlds would collide.  Of course I can see His fingerprints all over my sewing life.  He has blessed me with amazing friends that I would not have met if it were not for sewing.  Tracy, Rhonda, Lissette, Melissa, and a boat load of others. 


I've held a few teaching sessions where we made dresses for girls around the world and pillowcases for others.  Even some private lessons for adults and kids.  All of these God planted and nourished as relationships have grown and developed into some very strong connections.  I am so grateful for my sisters all over the world!



But I always had a little lingering thought of wanting to sew directly as my ministry.





And finally it happened!  After serving with Rahab Ministries for about a year now, I believe I have found my niche.  A friend and I have been visiting strip clubs and developing close relationships with the women who work there.  We have visited many clubs but a flame was igniting in our hearts for one particular club just before Christmas 2013.  As we left that club one night, we were so excited that the Holy Spirit put our hearts together on this special mission.  We decided that we were going to focus on these 14 girls at this one club and pray for them and visit them above all the others.



Looking for thoughtful ways to show them Christ's love we began brainstorming about how to go about this creatively.  Since it was only 14 girls (as we usually serve hundreds in the strip club ministry) I specifically started thinking of how I could sew for them.  And then it hit me... bags!  I found a great tutorial for boxy zipper bags/pouches.


I made 16 of these little guys to hold socks, lip gloss, make up, notebooks, gel pens, and cards of encouragement.  We assembled everything, prayed over them, asked friends to pray for us, and headed out to distribute our gifts of love in hopes of being a tiny glimpse of the love of Jesus.



With great anticipation and excitement to see our friends in the club again, we arrived around 7:30pm.  The same bartender was working with whom we have developed a great rapport.  However we didn't see any of the girls around and it felt really weird, unlike the other times we had visited. 


I introduced myself and asked how she was doing (the bartender).  She was kinda blah and I had this sinking feeling that this was not going to go how we envisioned.


We put our bags out on the bar, tried to chat with the bartender a bit, but got a very cold response.  Sadly we left feeling crushed and defeated. 



What happened, God?  We prayed, we asked others to pray, we sacrificially gave our time, our talents, and yes, it cost some money to buy all those goodies inside the bag.  We did it so the strippers could feel loved and accepted and want to know Jesus.  And THIS was our result... no interaction, no gratitude, no warm fuzzies AT ALL.


I'm still trying to wrap my brain around it.  Kinda like last time I was disappointed in how God worked out a situation maybe He wants to drill deeper down in my heart that this is not about me.  He is still able to work with these women.  Was I sewing these pouches for me or Jesus?  I thought it was Jesus, but maybe He's revealing something else.


So licking my wounds today I will be in prayer even more.  I will seek the Lord and ask what to make of this.  We will continue to plan for our Valentine's Day visit to the club (roses and chocolate covered strawberries!) and serve Him with our heart and soul and mind and strength. 


When I am thirsting after God, I want to quench my thirst with holy things, not junk.  I'm listening, reading, praying, and opening my heart to hear from Him.


The night did not go as expected.  I missed seeing the women and giving them hugs, looking into their eyes, and hearing how they are doing.  But God is still at work and has something greater planned, even in the unexpected.




Friday, December 13, 2013

The Bread

Ahh, the bread-making days are the very best days. 

It's been a while now that I've been making our bread.  A kind woman who is a bit older than me allowed the girls and me to visit one hot July morning.  I remember calling her and inviting myself over so that she would teach me how she does what she does. 

My girls were one and three years old at the time.  She had the best well-behaved, well-mannered kids I'd ever met.  Teenagers at that!  They sewed their own homecoming dresses, babysat every kid in the neighborhood (families with seven children!), and bread seemed like a good excuse to use to have some chatting time. 

I did not sit idly by with a cup of lemonade while she worked.  No.  She told me to roll up my sleeves and put flour on my hands the second we rolled in the door.  I learned so much that day that I still carry with me.  Bread, yes.  Life, without a doubt.  She's an amazing woman, wife, and mother.  This one's for you, Winnie.

There are a lot of moments where I completely blow it as a mom.  Well as a wife too if I'm honest.  My patience wears thin, I expect (and demand) too much, my words are not kind, and everyone feels on edge when mama is not happy.

 
But the days I bake bread... well, I have different energy.  I just feel more confident as a woman/wife/mama.  I don't know why but I'm full of more grace and peace and able to fill others' cups with it as well.  I have the recipe memorized now but still need to concentrate on counting out my 10 cups of bread flour. 

 
Yes, I do get a little testy when someone comes into the kitchen around cup 5 or 7 and then I lose count and shew them out lest my bread zen be completely lost.  But overall, we're all a little nicer on bread day.

Maybe it's the smell

Or using my very favorite bowl

Maybe it's the satisfaction in providing a simple, delicious, staple for my family

 
Maybe it's the slow, steady kneading and process that bread making requires. 

Whatever it is, I love bread days.  My joy is in serving those I love, especially those right inside these walls with me everyday. 



Thank you, Winnie for teaching me so much that ridiculously hot and humid July morning.  I've added another kiddo who loves the bread you taught me to make.  I can't say enough for how much I've learned from those who are a little bit ahead of me on this journey.  Little tidbits and valuable nuggets of info scattered into conversations have molded me into the person I am today. 
 
 
Who has mentored you, formally or informally, along the way?  Can you be a Winnie to someone?  We ALL have something to offer, something to teach or pass down.  Winnie has no idea how often I think of her and how much she has taught me in just living a godly life everyday.  She is worth more than rubies! I'm so thankful for the people God has placed in my life to help me up when I fall and to hold my hand along the way.
 



Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Struggle with Christmas

Well anyone that knows me well knows that I kinda struggle this time of year.  Not a little bit, either. 

It is so easy for me to get bogged down and depressed about the whole shebang.  Yes, I get a little Charlie Brown and then take a turn at Grumpy Street.  It's so hard for me to deal with all the stuff. 

I hate clutter.  Really, my kids know that smoke will come out of my ears if things are laying around in the family living spaces.  I'm cool with the playroom looking like a playroom.  I understand that their rooms are their personal spaces and things are out and about there.  But the rest of the place is mine.  ALL MINE.  And my husbands, but you know what I mean.

So my parents want to get my kids a ton of stuff.
My inlaws want to get my kids stuff.
There are aunts and uncles who are very well meaning and very generous, but alas... more stuff.

This is not a new problem, I completely understand that.  From what I've been reading and hearing, a lot of moms are in this boat and really dislike the mountains of stuff that finds it's way in the home this time of year.

I also get a little grumpy watching my kids grow increasingly greedy.  After opening a bunch of presents they look around and wonder what's next.  Hold me.

What do we do? How do I not let the mountains of stuff steal my joy? 

Because, I'm going to be honest here, my joy is hanging on by a thread.  Obligatory gift giving which results in unwanted items laying around is a complete waste of time, money, and space.  And that totally brings me down, man!

Well, I actually don't have a solution here.  Other than praying through it that God will change my heart.  My attitude will improve, and I will be grateful and joyful.  Even after Christmas when I look around at my decimated home and put my children through detox, I still need to have joy. 

We are here, we are healthy.  We have so very much to be thankful for.  We volunteer, we hang out with friends, we go to church.  Oodles of reasons to fall down on my face and say "thank you, Lord!"

Every once in a while I will get a new perspective.  I think if this "thing" really matters in light of eternity.  Is it really worth getting all worked about when I think about the Big Picture?  My mom and I had a huge fight because she was over-buying last month.  I said "please don't buy that" when we were at a store.  She marched right up to the counter and bought two. 

Is it worth it?

I do struggle and I don't want to.  I want to not care. 

 What do you do when your joy is being stolen?  How do you change a grumpy heart and poor attitude?  Pray more, run, exercise, read the Bible, bake lots of bread...?  I need help!

Hoping your season is full of joy and togetherness and maybe some cheesecake. Cheesecake is full of joy, right?

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Sewing Things

 
It has been a very wonderfully busy time of year.   It's so humbling to think of all the things I've been making and where they are headed in the world.  I have said before how I pray over each item as I'm sewing and the recipient.  Sometimes they are babies, sometimes they are great-grandmas.  Each client has a beautiful story of the baby shower coming up or the reunion they will soon attend.  Sometimes I think I should just mind my own business and not be so dang nosy. 
 
But over the six-ish years I've been making custom items, it's the people that keep me engaged.  I can sew all day long for someone that tells me the littlest tidbit of their life.  I love their stories and what is happening in their corner of the world.  It's so fascinating to me to think of what everyone is busy doing with their days. 
 
Side note: I used to think there was a little girl named Allison who was exactly my age and lived on a farm living a parallel life with me.  That doesn't even make sense, but I guess it shows I've always been thinking about people and their goings-on.  Even fake people!
 


So here we have a little baby Kate who is yet to be born.  Mama likes purple and gray.  The bunting is going in the nursery after the shower and baby Kate will fill out that onesie all too soon.





The rustic churn dash quilt is for a little boy in Canada.  His mama had a baby girl not too long ago and then !! Surprise!!  Baby boy came along.  OH those are the best stories.  I love surprises!  Especially baby surprises. 


Baby Autumn was born at the correct time of year.  Thank you, dear.  I just happened to have masses of yellow matching leaves sitting in a neat little pile near my photo shoot area.  My little nature detectives love the yellow maples leaves. 



My own baby surprise likes to come see me do my sewings.  Apparently patchwork squares work well to line up cars before they race. 

Who knew?



This sweet commission was one of the coolest quilts I've made in a while!  Sadly I don't know too much about the client (except she has a beautiful name and was really patient with some slow fabric delivery) but she has a keen eye for gorgeous fabric.  This was made with Amy Butler's Cameo line.  Each side is a large rectangle with 8" border.  So it is pretty much reversible, depending on if you are in the mood for navy or aqua.  Fantastic idea!  I'd love to make about a thousand of these to change out with the seasons and give as gifts. 


This little daisy chain sampler has been by the couch for about a year now.  Yikes!  I was going pretty well at a letter a day.  And then I met some hexagons and fell in love.  And then I fell out of love with the hexagons and picked this up again.  My 'R' got a little out of hand.  It's lookin' large, but oh well.  This is for me.  I'd like to frame it and hang it in the sewing room.  My daughter wants it as a pillow but I might have to turn that request down. 

I mean, really kid, I have kept NOTHING that I've sewn over my many many years of sewing.  Nothing. 

 
And finally we have Matilda who is a little girl in England and is severely disabled.  A friend is taking her this pillow to brighten up her room in hopes of bringing her a little joy.  My gosh, what a sweet heart to think of color and happiness for this girl.  I do pray that you will feel loved and at peace, little Matilda.  God bless you!
 
Thanks for coming along on my little sewing tour today.  It was lovely to have you!  This next month will probably be a whirlwind as well.  These days just fly by too fast.  It's so nice to sit and chat and see what has been taking place. 
 
I love winter and being snowed in. I'm so excited to settle into the dark winter months and our cozy rhythm of the home.  Fires, candles, lots of quilts and snuggles under them. 


Thursday, November 7, 2013

The {other} side of Homeschooling

So after writing about all the wonderful things that I feel about Charlotte Mason and homeschooling over here I felt it only fair I should divulge the other details as well.

Lately I've been thinking about consequences to choices.  Mostly because I have children and I want them to learn that there are always consequences.  Good and bad.  When you choose to follow something, it means another thing will get left behind.  There are always natural reactions to our actions. 

When I chose to homeschool, I miss out on getting together with friends. I admit there is a pang of jealousy when I see Instagrams of friends getting together for brunch or coffee while their kids are in school.  I miss out on serious "me" time.  THINK of the sewing I could get done if my kids were away at school! AHH! Lately it has extended beyond selfish measures to where I am missing out on some awesome ministry opportunities. 

I have a heart to serve women who are held captive by chains of injustice.  Women who don't know their worth and how precious they are and choose to do things that harm their bodies and their hearts.  I've been volunteering monthly or so for weekend events to minister to these women.  We try to do some creative things that aren't uber geeky but yet lets them know just how much we (and Jesus, above all) love them. 

And now there are weekday/morning meetings for them to gather with my good friends.  Oh the potential to reach out to these women in those meeting times.  My heart has been aching to be there and hang out with them.  I really want to know them and listen to them and give them great big hugs.

So then I realize that this too is a selfish matter.  That Jesus is able to meet these women without me.  These gatherings with friends and "the women" (as we'll call them) are not for me at this time.  If I were to drop homeschooling and attend these meetings, it would be for me and my glory, since I have not been called to be there.  Ick. 

So I will deal with feeling left out and left behind.  I will be grateful that we are able to homeschool and do all those really fabulous things I spoke about before.  When I chose to open the Homeschool door, most of the other Weekday Fun doors closed. 

My prayer is that I will continue, day by day and year by year to seek the Lord's will for this family.  Someday He may say this homeschool gig has been great but it's time to focus on ministry.  I don't know.  I DO know that I don't want to be like Jonah and disobey Him for my own desires.

If you are thinking of taking a leap, first seek His will for your life.  He has a wonderful plan for each of us.  It's true!   

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Rhea's Memory Quilt

I adore making memory quilts.  Relationships are big to me and making a custom memory quilt with a new client is my very happy place.
 
Especially when there is a good story attached.
 

 
 

Sweet Rhea and her brother lost their dear mama not long ago and I had the honor of making a memory quilt for each of them.  Well, she insisted the brother came first and Rhea's will come next. 


Mama loved color and bright clothing so I thought it was appropriate to incorporate that into the quilt.  Knowing this was going to be for a man I wanted to keep it masculine as well. 

I went with the color spectrum/rainbow layout. 

The back is warm green flannel with some extra squares down the side. 


It was really nice to get to know Rhea and her family through this journey.  I'm excited that I can continue to work with her and make something a little bit different but with the same clothes (I kept the fronts for the brother and saved the back of each clothing piece for her.) 



Included in this memory quilt are swimsuits, leather handbag pieces, sweaters, pants, tshirts, dresses, and other clothing.  The textures are my favorite part.  Lycra, cotton, spandex, leather... it was so fun to touch.


Memory quilts always allow me the chance to slow down and think about family.  The client's family I'm working with as well as my own.  I create these with peace in my heart and a prayer on lips.  I try to be timely but can't help but slow down and take a pause every so often as I consider the lives that will be touched by this quilt. 

I do pray that it will bring comfort and peace to the memories of her.  Love and blessings to you and your families.

xoxo

Thursday, October 31, 2013

I {heart} Homeschooling!

Continuing my mini series about getting to know me and the things that make me happy... one of the greatest blessings in my life right now is homeschooling.  I get a lot of the same comments and questions.  Mostly "You must be so patient" and "Why do you homeschool?".
 
So here are a couple little tidbits into what we do and why we do it.  I've been homeschooling a very short time and know hardly anything about it.  But I have learned a lot and really am enjoying this journey.
 
First of all... I am not always so patient.  It's a habit we're all working on.  Homeschooling is not just me dumping info into my child's empty brain-box.  We are all (dad included) learning and growing and becoming better humans.  It's part of the program.  We pick a habit and work on it.  Sometimes it's patience and when that is mastered (or close enough) we pick a new one.  For my middle (only 4 years old) I've been working on not dawdling.  For the baby (2 years old) it's obedience.
 
This comes from the wisdom of Charlotte Mason and her emphasis on cultivating good habits.  
 
 

So the infamous question I dread most: Why do you homeschool?

Well, it's not because of the public school system.  It's not horrible and it's not amazing.  I really am pretty neutral on public schools.  There are pros and cons to every decision (homeschooling included) and it's up to each family to make the decision that works best for them. 


It's actually Charlotte's philosophy that hooked me.  Her focus was on effort and character.  The goal is always growth and that is something that each child can attain in their way.  Some grow faster in mathematics, some in handiworks.  It is all about taking the next step. 


Isn't that half the battle when we are down, dear friends?  Taking the next step?  Ugh, I know when I am just not feeling it on a given day and need a little umph that it feels so very good to accomplish something.  Clean the bathroom, cut some fabric, plan the dinner for that night. 

When my kiddos are breezing through a certain subject or lesson, life is good and they are feeling encouraged.  I am so happy to be there and see those light-bulb moments and share in a high-five.  Ice cream for lunch after getting everything correct on a math test!


But they also have those days of just not feeling it.  Where we slog through a reading and meet limitations head on.  Those are tough.  There have been tears.  But what a blessing it is that mama is there to comfort and encourage.  My hope is that we have built an atmosphere that fosters love and learning.  Those habits we've worked on (patience, endurance, effort) really kick in at these times and the fruit of our labor is intense. 



So in answer to the question WHY, it is all about effort and character.  God has blessed me with these three little people to grow and train up.  A typical school day consists of your normal subjects but a lot also happens in the periphery.  When the baby is getting potty trained and I just can't get there in time, the two big sisters are expected to jump in and help out.  They prepare simple snacks and even get their own breakfasts at times.

They have learned to problem solve on their own and seek an answer to their curiosities.  Sometimes that answer comes weeks later.  Charlotte advised the mama not to supply an answer to every question.  Let them ponder.  Let them explore.  So much happens when a child is able to think on their own.


One of my favorite aspects that is special to a Charlotte Mason education is her emphasis on nature study.  She suggested 4-6 hours of outdoor time every single day.  We do not get near that but it is a goal to get outside.  Period.  Once we're out we have no problem staying out.  But like running, I have to make it my goal to put on my shoes and go out.  THEN take the next step. 

Today... take the next step!  Put forth good effort!  Do your best!