Midwinter Blues . . .

. . . and greens, pinks, yellows, teals, grays, violets, burgundies . . . . and so many more!

“You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky; why do you not know how to interpret the present time?” –Luke 12:56

SnowflakeLiving in New England, it’s rare to get through the day without discussing the weather, especially this time of year.  We are amazed at the “unusual” frigid temperatures or overcome with stress due to the abundance of snow.  Sometimes we are taken back by a “freak” warm spell or very worried about the lack of precipitation.   Perhaps we are given these radical weather changes just to help initiate conversation up here in the great Northeast.

I often get strange looks when I confess my love for the winter months.  I don’t particularly care for getting out and dealing with the snow and the cold, but I enjoy looking at it.  I especially enjoy gazing at the beautiful scenes performed outside my studio window.  How beautiful to see the deep red cardinals fluttering around

Glorious Sunrise

Glorious Sunrise

the bird feeder with a crisp, white backdrop of snow covered bushes.  Seeing the sun peer through snow-covered trees in the early hours of the day, takes my breath away.  Even when snow is absent, there’s a beauty in the earth that surrounds me.  I see it as a stillness and a sort of waiting period.  As we quiet our minds and limit our indulgences during the Lenten weeks, the Earth has a time of clearing the way for beautiful changes coming soon, or so it seems to me.

My Winter Colors

My Winter Colors

The best part of winter has to do with the opportunity to more fully embrace God’s gifts to me.  I love to quilt and write all year, but during the winter months, I feel a little more freedom to completely immerse myself in projects.  There are fewer distractions calling me out.  During the spring and summer months, more than once someone will question how I can possibly sew on a beautiful day, as if it’s a sacrilege to do so.  I usually respond by saying, I am able sew on a nice day just as a nurse goes to her job in the hospital or just as a lawyer goes to the office.  Sewing is what I am called to do!  In the midst of ten-degree temperatures, no one ever questions why I’m staying indoors to sew.

I did a little research this morning on “Overcoming the Winter Blues.”  All of the articles I read had similar advice:  get plenty of exercise, eat balanced meals, take a multivitamin,

Winter is a good time to nap!

Winter is a good time to nap!

and expose yourself to more light.  While this is all sound advice, I would like to add, use your God-given gifts abundantly and be a little creative every day.  Get out some crayons, paint a picture, start a scrapbook, write a letter, dust off that old guitar, read poetry, bake a cake, or do anything that moves your spirit in a positive way.  You will be amazed at how good you feel after just a few minutes of creativity.

There have been numerous studies about how creative activities improve your health and your mood.  Psychologist Robert Maurer, who has studied the benefits of crafting, says cheering up and chilling out are only the beginning. “Crafting can decrease your heart rate and blood pressure and even improve sleep.  Your breathing takes on a regular pattern, which shuts down the body’s anxiety-producing fight-or-flight response.”  [from This is Your Brain on Crafts, Martha Stewart Living magazine, October 2012].

In the same article, Dr. Maurer explains the further benefits of giving “your creation to

Let God's light shine through you!

Let God’s light shine through you!

others” or doing for others.  Scientifically speaking, doing for others releases “happiness-producing” hormones.  I believe this because I have experienced it.  It makes perfect sense to know God would want us to truly feel good as a reward for helping others.

There have been a number of reports, as well, on the affects on our health due to less day light during the winter months.  I realize for some this can be a serious problem.  For most of us, though, it’s mostly an inconvenience which does affect our mood.  It’s dark when we go to work and then dark when we

I'm so tired of the dark.

I’m so tired of the dark.

come home.  Our energy level is lower because the sunlight has magical energy boosting powers.  It simply feels good to be surrounded by sunlight.  When we feel good, we do good.  When we are mostly in the dark, it is more difficult to muster up the energy for anything beyond the must-do daily tasks.

Why not look for the true light during these cold days?  God calls us to shine His light through our good works.  Go out and

Is that Spring coming?

Is that Spring coming?

be a beacon to someone who has a difficult time in the winter.  Give him or her a handmade gift!  Do it today – - – in the present!

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Heaven is a Garden

“But as it is written:  ‘What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him.’”

Upper Left CornerOnce again, I was honored with the task of creating a memorial quilt for those who died in hospice last year at the McLean’s Care Center in Simsbury, Connecticut.  Family members and friends of those who have passed are asked to create a quilt block in memory of their loved one.  I assemble the blocks and add a little of my own touch.

It’s an emotional endeavor to make the quilt and even more so to participate in the ceremony to reveal everyone’s work.  As I explained in my presentation, I speak and write about how each of us have special gifts endowed by God, and we are meant to share them.  The gifts of each of the deceased are permanently displayed on the fabric squares in various forms.  When we lose someone we love, we also lose the gifts he or she shared with us.

While I worked on the quilt and read the variety of talents and personal traits of each person, I couldn’t help but think about those I have lost and how much I miss what they gave to me.  I looked out at the reception yesterday and wondered if perhaps a spouse used to play the piano and now there’s no music.  Maybe a sibling was great at telling jokes, and now the laughter has dwindled.  Possibly a friend no longer has a confidant to share her thoughts so loneliness prevails.  I prayed my work would bring some comfort to them knowing their grief is valued and sacred.

I explained, as well, in my presentation how I did not intend to use a floral fabric again.  I

Cross-Stitch by Elizabeth Scheidel of McLean's

Cross-Stitch by Elizabeth Scheidel of McLean’s

chose a beautiful floral fabric last year and we artists do not like to repeat ourselves.  We like to shake things up and vary our work.  However, when I found this particular floral fabric in the quilt shop, it “called” to me.  It had all the right colors and just seemed perfect.  I was compelled to buy it and, therefore, I did.

When I returned home, I laid out the fabric with the quilt blocks.  It looked glorious!  I thought to myself, “Well, it makes sense to use a floral because I believe Heaven is a garden.”  For some reason, having that thought motivated me to sit down and write a poem about heaven.    I don’t consider myself to be a poet, but the lines just kept popping into my head.   When I finished, I had a picture in my mind of the finished quilt.  I proceeded to design it.  I read the poem yesterday just before the quilt was unveiled:

Heaven is a Garden

 
SunflowerI believe Heaven is a garden
where purple tulips grow strong and tall
side by side with glorious sunflowers
whether the calendar be spring or fall.
 
I believe Heaven is a garden
where maple trees are lush green
and in the same moment you cast your eyes
on the deepest red you’ve ever seen.
 
I believe Heaven is a garden
where the bees’ buzzing is a lulling sound
but in all the hills and meadowsBird
not one scary stinger can be found.
 
 
I believe Heaven is a garden
where earth worms crawl free of fear
as all the birds are not wanting
to dine on them up there.
 
I believe Heaven is a garden
where creatures of every size and type
work together to grasp the fruit
always there and always ripe.
 
Swing (1)
 
 
I believe Heaven is a garden
where you sit on the flowering swing
and there is never a reason
to worry about one single thing.
 
 
 
 
 
I believe Heaven is a garden
where there are no tests of any kind.
And there’s no wondering day after day,
“What will the doctor find?”
 
In Heaven’s gardenDragon Fly
there’s no sleepless nights or terrible pain.
Only endless hours for care-free strolls
on a tree-lined, country lane.
 
There’s no seeing sadness
on a loved one’s face.
There’s only Jesus’ loving arms,
open and ready to embrace.
 
BeeI believe Heaven is a garden
where the best of earth’s beauty
was seeded in its holy floor,
growing rich colors and nature’s music
the kind not known before.
 
Of all of God’s work,
Heaven’s Garden is His very best.
He kept the pain and sorrow out
giving His guests only peace and joy,
and rest and rest and rest . . .
 

(Written by Dorothy J. Szypulski for Hospice Memorial Quilt Unveiling, McLean’s Care Center, Simsbury, Connecticut — November 13, 2013)

Final 2012 (1)Lower Right Corner

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God Gave You a Power!

“Give and gifts will be given back to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap.  For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.”  – Luke 6:38

Illustrations by  Mitzie Stone

Illustrations by
Mitzie Stone

Have you ever listened to a commentator on television or radio and then thought to yourself, “That’s what I’ve been saying!”  Its so refreshing to hear someone articulate what you are feeling, you jump out of your seat with excitement.  Somehow, you no longer feel alone in your beliefs.  A person with a microphone and an audience can speak for you.  You have an advocate!

Well, this is how I came to notice Charles Payne (www.wallstreetstrategies.com).  I heard him speaking up for people who work hard and who always try to do the right thing.  I heard him share his experiences and his views on attaining success.  There’s no easy path — it’s hard work.  One day I heard him share something from his childhood, and it deeply moved me.  I had to sit back down.

It’s been very difficult to watch the disintegration of the traditional family over the years.  It’s heart breaking to see children being raised without knowing their fathers or mothers.  Countless babies are born into a world where they only know neglect, forcing them into a daily ritual of mere survival.  They are too young to find a better life and too innocent to have hope.  There are too few mentors setting examples for children on how to escape such dire circumstances.  For the vast majority of these children, the culture they grow up in is the norm; therefore, continuing the same culture into their adulthood does not seem unusual.  To make matters worse, the media exacerbates the problems by condoning damaging behaviors and dismissing the importance of family values.  Children just are not getting the correct message about what they are expected to do.

Another emerging culture in the last few decades is one which has resulted in a generation of 20 and 30 year olds who expect big rewards for very little effort.  We allowed our public schools to lower standards while, at the same time, the rewards were increased.  As parents, we tried to eliminate too much stress from our children thinking we were helping.  Instead, countless young adults today cannot handle even normal day-to-day stress that accompanies personal and work life.  How often have you heard it said, many young people today are not dependable, are not eager to learn, do not want to put in extra time, and expect too high of a salary?

I have two young adult daughters who have helped me to know many caring, hard-working, and dependable people in their age group, but I wonder if there are  enough like them to carry America into a healthy future.  I have worried about this for a long time.  We need to do all we can to help our children grow to be strong, confident individuals who positively contribute to our complex world.

About four years ago, I listened to Charles Payne share his experiences growing up in Harlem.  He said he would do any menial job to help his mother pay the bills.  Some of those jobs included sweeping stoops, washing windows and delivering newspapers.

Charles shared how he knew from an early age he wanted to be a businessman who would work on Wall Street.  To get this dream started, he asked his mother for a briefcase.  It wasn’t the best briefcase around, but it was what his mother could afford and he proudly brought it to school.  One day, when Charles left it unattended, some of his classmates destroyed it.

As someone who follows the news closely, I hear a lot of sad things every day, but for some reason this story resonated more deeply than usual, and it would not leave me.  I kept thinking, why would those boys do something destructive for no apparent reason?  Why do any children engage in destructive behavior?  I believe jealousy must have played a part.  Those boys probably saw Charles as someone who worked hard at his school work and likely received favorable attention for it from teachers.  I think, as well, many children feel powerless in their family life and the only way they know to feel powerful is to exert it over others.

Long after I turned off the television, I was still thinking about Charles’ briefcase and the boys who destroyed it.  I began thinking about all the children I know who have become successful adults and all the ones who have not.  It seems that many children lose sight of their talents and abilities sometime in middle or high school.  They don’t see what they have to offer the world, and therefore, they drop out, join gangs, get pregnant, commit crimes and engage in all forms of destructive behavior.

Though Charles had a difficult childhood living in a bad neighborhood, he was able to see a better future for himself.  He knew what his talents were and he envisioned a way to use them when grown.  Thinking about all this led me to ask, “How do we get more children to each recognize his/her special gift, talent, or skill and then keep him/her focused on the goal of putting that gift to good use in our world?  How do we get children to see the true power they have inside them?”  These questions sparked the idea for my new children’s book, God Gave You a Power! 

This is a story written to show children we each have special gifts given to us by God.  These gifts come in the form of talents and skills or as special abilities such as being extra patient and very caring.  God Gave you a Power! illustrates to children these are the gifts God expects us to use to enrich the world, but when we are young, we need to practice and learn to master our gifts.  Then when we become adults, we can use our gifts – our special Powers – to do good for others.  In the book, each left page shows a child doing something – playing with blocks, doing homework, helping a friend, etc.  Each right page shows that child grown up using that skill in his/her job.   As the book progresses, the children depicted get older.  On the first page is a picture of a pre-schooler and then the last few pages are high school students.  Both genders and a variety of ethnic cultures are represented.

Seeing God Gave you a Power! through to a published work was a much more arduous

Thank you to my daughter, Robin E. Szypulski, for the beautiful cover design!

Thank you to my daughter, Robin E. Szypulski, for the beautiful cover design!

and time-consuming endeavor than I anticipated.  I had to keep reminding myself the message of the book — powerful things happen after you have worked hard and stayed focused on your goal.  As I mentioned, I have been worried about the problems with our country’s children for many years, but most of the time I have felt powerless to do anything about it.  I believe Charles’ story touched me because God touches me.  I can’t solve all the problems of the world, but maybe I could do this one thing.

Any profits Ted and I receive from the sale of the book will go to help children see a healthy, productive future for themselves through economic and education reform.  All the profits from the sale of God Gave you a Power! will be forwarded to the Center for Urban Renewal and Education (www.urbancure.org), an organization tirelessly working to change the lives of children trapped in poor school districts.  I hope you will join us in this goal of helping as many children as possible envision a way to use their gifts from God.  Books can be purchased at www.advbookstore.com, as well as at www.Amazon.com and www.BarnesandNoble.com.

I want to bestow loving thanks to my husband -Ted, and my daughters – Laura and Robin – for helping me through this process.  They never once waivered in their belief in my ability to get this book published.  Thank you to Advantage Books for finding me, sharing my vision and deep belief in God, and then bringing my dream to reality.  Special thanks to Mitzie Stone for beautifully illustrating the pictures I had envisioned in my head!  And, of course, a heart-felt thank you to Charles Payne for using his special gifts to be a “power” for good.

Of course, I had to make a quilt of the cover!

Of course, I had to make a quilt of the cover!

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Eyelashes and Puckers . . . Hey, stuff happens!

 “Entrust your works to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.” — Proverbs 16:3

Life was not meant to be all "Smooth Sailing."

Life was not meant to be all “Smooth Sailing.”

Most of my quilting creations are done for charitable causes or given as gifts.  Therefore, I find it strange that in the process of having such heartfelt intentions, mistakes happen!  If I’m working diligently toward helping to keep a baby warm or cheering up an elderly person, why would God not intervene to prevent my poor judgment or silly carelessness?

Maybe it’s the years of influence  of my husband, the engineer, but I deeply believe God has a logical plan, and a big part of that plan is to just let things go wrong when we, of our own free choice, do the wrong thing, even when our intentions are good and our goals are worthy.

There have been times when I have made mistakes while quilting — not often, but it does happen. :)  When the bobbin thread in my long-arm quilting machine becomes too loose, the stitching has an appearance we quilters call “eyelashes.”  When I’m following the pattern, I’m not always paying close attention to the stitching. Too many times I have not realized I have been making eyelashes until I’ve stitched for several inches.  “Puckering” happens when the backing is not taut enough.  Puckers are very difficult, if not impossible, to repair.  It’s very frustrating to have stitched beautifully on the top only to discover the back is puckered!

Sometimes the answer is to rip out what I have sewn and then redo my work.  Other times, my mistakes ruined the fabric, such as when I’ve cut pieces wrong or spilled coffee on it.  (Drinking coffee while quilting is a risk I’m willing to take.)  You would not believe how many times I have not been able to purchase more of the identical fabric.  Just like clothing styles, fabric patterns come and go.  Most fabrics are around for a very short period of time and it’s impossible to get more.  I have a knack for choosing fabric that is just about on its way out and since I often don’t work on the project for many months, short of contacting H.G. Wells, acquiring replacement fabric is out of the question.

These dilemmas force me back to the drawing board.  I have to find a way to make what I

When I was finishing up this quilt, I realized I had not purchased enough fabric for the border.  I made a border out of all the leftover pieces of fabric.  I am very happy with it!

When I was finishing up this quilt, I realized I had not purchased enough fabric for the border. I made a border out of all the leftover pieces of fabric. I am very happy with it!

have produced to that point work.  It might mean redesigning the pattern, or substituting a different fabric.  Once, when my daughter, Laura, was in elementary school, I noticed she had put little pictures in or between sentences of a story she had written.  When I asked what the pictures meant, she explained how she drew pictures over her mistakes.  What a wonderful lesson to learn from my child!  Many times I have covered my quilting mistakes with a fabric picture known as applique.  I don’t recall a re-worked project that I wasn’t happy with in the end.  As upset as I get when I’ve made the mistake, once I have calmed down, stepped back, redesigned and recreated, I feel pretty darn good.

God instilled in us the freedom to choose a direction.  Along the way we make mistakes, causing us to stumble and fall.  We feel regret for our mistake at which point we can choose to wallow in self pity, or we can think long and hard about what went wrong and what steps need to be taken to move forward.  When we come up with a new and better plan, we become stronger for it.  Sounds like a logical plan to me!

The little green triangles are covering a mistake.  You'll never know what . . .

The little green triangles are covering a mistake. You’ll never know what . . .

As I used to tell my daughters (and often myself, especially since playing Words with Friends), the game would not be fun if you won every time.  What would be the challenge?   How would you learn about fairness, strategy and competitive engagement if you already know the outcome is winning?  Why bother play the game at all?

I don’t believe God has a reason to specifically make us go through a difficult

Applique

Applique

time, but when things go wrong, it’s up to us to make the most of it.  Our mistakes add a great deal of experience to our skills and talents.  Our suffering builds on our relationships and enhances our appreciation for life and for those we love.  Our regrets deepen our faith in God and our life becomes richer for it.  If all of that doesn’t happen right away, try just putting a picture over it!

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An Empty Nester’s Selective Recall

“When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived; but when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy that a child has been born into the world.” — John 16:21

My niece, Suzanne, with her new baby girl,  Maggie, born June 6th!

My niece, Suzanne, with her new baby girl,
Maggie, born June 6th!

At times, my husband seems impatient with me regarding my inability to fully embrace our “empty-nest” status.  It’s not to say that my life isn’t full these days.  On the contrary, I am busier than ever with rewarding work, fun friendships, and several recreational activities.  What my husband considers to be one of my slight psychological defects, I recognize as a normal, once-in-a-while yearning of moments long gone.

Recently, on one of our care-free excursions, a young woman from across the aisle clawed at my arm while pleading for me to get the flight attendant’s attention.  I turned her way just in time to see her two-year old in the midst of projectile vomiting all over her mother’s lap and onto her newborn sister’s tiny head.  The baby turned purple as she screamed in shock.

Once the flight attendant took control of the situation, Ted looked at me and said, “Now can you accept ‘empty nest?’”

Last weekend on a flight to Minnesota to attend a wedding, two toddlers lost patience withJune Bug our holding pattern.  I sometimes wonder if pilots’ watches operate differently than those owned by us lowly passengers.  What he had said would be a twenty-minute circling turned into over an hour of laps around the outer regions of St. Paul.  As we waited for air traffic to clear for us to land, a young mom and dad fretted patiently as they unsuccessfully tried to quiet their two young screaming children.

“How about now?” was all Ted could say.

June 2013 BlogWith time to fill before the wedding, we decided to take a 90-minute history cruise on the Mississippi River.  We arrived early, finding ourselves first in line to pick some optimum seats.  As it was a Friday afternoon, most of the passengers were elderly couples (such as ourselves?).   We cozied up next to each other gazing out at the beautiful river banks and looking forward to the tour.

Just five minutes before departure, I glanced up to see a hoard (maybe 50?) of elementary school children running up the ramp.  Apparently it was field-trip day in St Paul.

What was supposed to be a leisurely, yet educational, cruise on one of America’s most famous landmarks, in actuality was somewhat of a nightmare.  To say the children were unruly would be the understatement of the year.  Kids were running one way while popcorn was flying the other.  They were yelling and screaming while chasing after each other and often going in and around places where they were not allowed.  I vacillated between feelings of fear that one of them was about to fall overboard and feelings of desire to toss a few over myself!  A few of the chaperones tried to bring order, but most of the accompanying adults did not seem to be phased by the chaos caused by their students.

When we were finally off the ship and sitting in the grace-filled serenity of our rental car, Ted looked at me and asked, “How about NOW?”

It’s natural to forget the bad stuff and only remember good.  Though he doesn’t often admit it, Ted has a habit, too, of recalling only the pleasant experiences of past years. Jesus said we will remember the joy, not the grief (John 16:22).  I choose to mostly remember the fun times of raising children.

Is it so difficult to understand how I could love my life today while still longing to have a

Dress-Up Day 1992

Dress-Up Day 1992

few of those special moments back?  Should I seek psychiatric help because my eyes well up when I remember dress-up days, bed time stories, jumping in leaf piles, birthday parties and Halloween costumes?  Perhaps I should be institutionalized for sometimes missing the feelings associated with being needed by little girls with scraped knees, bruised egos, and broken hearts?

When I was in the midst of difficult child-rearing days, many older mothers would tell me, “it will go by before you know it.”   It did not really help all that much when I was in the midst of stressful times, but I do understand now what they were trying to explain.  I find myself saying similar things now to young mothers, but they rarely hear me with children screaming in their ears.

As I said, my life is full today and I’m not complaining.  It doesn’t hurt to be in the presence of unruly children every so often to help me appreciate my quiet home a little more easily.   However, if I could go back in time, I would, and I would try to find a way to make the good moments all go by a little more slowly.

1989

1989

“Don’t cry because it’s over.

Halloween 1989

Halloween 1989

Smile because it happened!”  — Dr. Seuss

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My God Phase

Our Motto“Behind me and before, you hem me in and rest your hand upon me.  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; to lofty for me to attain!” –Psalm 139:5-6

I go through different phases.  Sometimes, I get in a clean-out everything phase.  This phase comes around less often than it used to, but when it does, watch out!  If I haven’t worn it, used it, or found a purpose for it in the last year, it goes.  Fortunately, my husband is still here.

Ted loves it when I’m in a cooking phase.  I try some new recipes and fill the refrigerator and cupboards   with fresh spices and delectable ingredients.  I create delicious meals complete with complimentary wines and rich desserts.  This phase doesn’t show itself very often anymore either.  Most evenings, we enjoy simple meals, or we head out to our favorite restaurant for the “early bird” special.  I guess we’re in our senior phase.

Once in a while, I enter a fitness phase.  I’m in one of those right now as the spring air seems to bring out the “I really want thin thighs” mood in me.  Why do I always believe the latest fitness craze or the most recent Dr. Oz recommendation will work?  Well, I have to try, right?  I consider exercise routines to be as important as taking medication, and I do not care for either.  I would prefer not to have to do them, but I must  in order to keep my health in check.

About half the time, I am in a writing phase.  When an idea comes to me, no matter where I am or what I am doing, I have to stop to write.  I’ve been known to pull off the road, get up in the middle of the night or jump out of the shower to quickly jot down a thought before it has the opportunity to escape to senior-itis heaven.

When I was a local correspondent, coming up with a great lead-line was crucial to any great newspaper story.  In any written story, a reporter’s first challenge is to capture the reader’s attention.  Compelling him/her to read further came second.  During those exciting years, I tried to keep a notebook close at hand should a lead line idea pop into my head.  However, I can’t deny there were times I resorted to scratching out story lines on restaurant checks, gum wrappers, dinner napkins or even the palm of my hand.  When I’m in a writing phase, I try to forego operating  large machinery as there is little room in my brain for “safety first” necessities.

Lately, I’ve been in a sewing and quilting phase.  Since last fall, I’ve turned out project after project.  There was the Hospice Memorial quilt and the quilt for my pastor.  I made quilts

"Thee-O-Door" and  "Door-O-Thee" aprons

“Thee-O-Door” and
“Door-O-Thee” aprons

for the New England Air Museum Quilt Show and a color-bar quilt for the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers.  I’ve been creating baby quilts for family, friends (is there a boom?), and charities.  Just when I had thoughts of slowing down, another exciting project would enter my creative psyche.  How could Ted and I not have matching, monogrammed aprons for the Chili-Cook-Off?

In January, I put out the word I was looking for help in sewing some Rena-Bean Baby Quilts.  God placed eight talented and giving women in front of me.  Every month I am more excited than the last as I see these ladies enthusiastically working.  The resulting quilts have been amazing.  This fall I expect we’ll give the biggest donation of baby quilts yet.

As I reflect over my phases, I see God’s presence every day.  I see Him in the ideas that come to me and in the plan to help those ideas come to fruition.  I see Him in the kindness and generosity of others who are eager to help in this ministry.  I clearly see God present in my husband, who pitches in when I am anxious to finish a project, and who supports my passion for quilting even when it doesn’t always make sense to him.  (An engineer’s logic:  “You cut up beautiful fabric only to stitch the pieces back together?”)

God’s love is in the raindrops that nurture the Earth to create the beauty where so much of my inspiration originates.   God’s guidance is in the glistening rays of sunlight, giving me a boost of motivation I sometimes need to keep working.   Most importantly,  I thoroughly feel God’s loving grace when I see the joy in the face of someone comforted by a quilt.

Despite my varied moods, ever-changing whims and chaotic schedule, of one thing I am sure — I am always,  and forever will be, in a God phase!

Quilt for our pastor.

Quilt for our pastor.

Hospice Memorial Quilt

Hospice Memorial Quilt

No Calories!

No Calories!

"Robin Learns to Fly" Viewer's Choice Award New England Air Museum Quilt Show - 2012

“Robin Learns to Fly”
Viewer’s Choice Award
New England Air Museum Quilt Show – 2012

Society of Motion Picture and Television  Engineers - Color Bar Quilt

Society of Motion Picture and Television
Engineers – Color Bar Quilt

A little something for  my beauty salon.

A little something for
my beauty salon.

Welcome to the World, Little Adam!

Welcome to the World, Little Adam!

Archi-Texture Tote Bag

Archi-Texture Tote Bag

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I Needed a Drink!

“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” — John 4:13-14

Thank you, Lord, for my friends!

Thank you, Lord, for my friends!

Once again I joined my good friends on our annual weekend retreat to Our Lady of Calvary in Farmington, Connecticut.  Once again, in the days preceding the get-away, I questioned, “Do I really need to go?”

It is quiet there, but it’s quiet in my home, too.  Someone else does the cooking there, but I can’t say I do a lot of cooking here on the weekends.  As empty-nesters, Ted and I eat out often now.

At OLOC, I must share a bathroom with others.  At home?  Not so much.  Despite my negative pondering and reluctance to pack a suitcase, due to the appeal of reliable comradery  with wonderful friends, the thought of kind and welcoming Sisters, and the knowledge that a delightful priest would be on call for the weekend’s duration, I was motivated to make my way to the retreat center on a chilly Friday evening.

The theme of the weekend was “If Only You Knew the Gift.”  As you can imagine, that enticed me, as well, since I am constantly preaching to you, and to myself, to put gifts from God to good use.  Dreaming up ways to use my gifts (a.k.a. wanting to feel useful) gets me out of bed each and every day.

God’s gifts to us are numerous, but the greatest gift is His unwavering love for us with all of our goodness and with all of our failings.  “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”  (John 3:16)

As a means of making this point, the OLOC team suggested reflecting on The Samaritan Woman at the well (John 4:4-30).  In group discussions, as retreatants shared a multitude of “take-aways” on the scripture, I found myself ruminating about “choices.”

When Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman, He told her He knew about her life, which I understand to mean He clearly knew the choices she had made.  Regardless of her poor choices, He saw good in her AND He loved her.

It made me think about many of the choices I have made over the years.  (Fortunately, I do not recall most of them!)  Some were poor choices and, therefore, I endured the consequences.  Other choices were risky, yet worked out well.  Some of my choices were right for me, but they did not sit well with people I deeply cared about.  I know God loves me and still sees the good in me even when I make a poor choice.   As human beings, the challenge for us is to still see the good in others despite what we believe to be their poor choices.

It is a wonderful blessing to share a world with a variety of humans upon whom God has bestowed a vast assortment of gifts.  How empty life would feel if we all had the ability to

What would I do without my wonderful hairdresser?

What would I do without my wonderful hairdresser?

crochet a tablecloth, yet not one of us could swing a hammer to build a table upon which to place the cloth.  Can you imagine the dullness of our days should each of us make the exact same choices every day?  Would McDonald’s only sell one kind of hamburger with one particular topping? I love to make quilts, but I lack so many other valuable skills.  What if, for example, there were no talented hair dressers?  I seriously doubt I would ever leave my home!

Many of us found 2012 to be a year of unique challenges.  There were difficult choices to be made, and by the time I was deciding about whether or not to go on the retreat, I was considerably worn out by those decisions.  Why did I go on retreat?  Like the Samaritan Woman making her way to the well, I was quite thirsty.

The Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
As it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
If I surrender to His Will;
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life
And supremely happy with Him
Forever and ever in the next.

Amen

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