Her name is Karen

Karen's booties.

Karen’s booties.

“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

I don’t remember the physical pain.  I remember the words, the sounds and the feelings.  In the days leading up to her birth, we were told there was a problem.  I was transferred to another hospital — one that could better handle the crisis.   Upon arrival there, a doctor said, “She needs to be born now.”

I remember the rushing around and the muffled voices.  It didn’t seem real.  How could this be happening?  It was too soon.  My baby wasn’t due for another five weeks.

I remember the struggled squeak of my baby’s voice as she emerged from me, and

Quilts to comfort.

Quilts to comfort.

then, not a split second passed before she was whisked away by a team of specialists.  There was no time for sweet coos or soft welcoming words.  I didn’t see her face nor did she see mine.  My husband, Ted, was holding my hand.  He was overcome with emotion.

“She’s crying.  That’s a good sign,” the nurse said as she stroked my hair.

“Tell them, her name is ‘Karen,'” I said, and then I cried.

I do not remember the specifics of the next day.  Those twenty-four hours are a blur of waiting, praying and hoping.  Waiting for her to improve, praying for a miracle, and hoping beyond hope that she would live to experience childhood.

Reading my book, God Gave You a Power! to young children.

Reading my book, God Gave You a Power! to young children.

When I was finally able to see Karen, I was surprised at how perfect she looked.  If not for all the tubes attached to her tiny body, you would not know there were countless problems going on beneath her delicate, pink skin.  She had all of her fingers and toes.  Her little nose was familiar, like one I had seen before in an old picture of me.  She turned her head when I spoke.  She was my baby girl.  I was ready to take her home, but it was not to be.

At three days old, Ted held her.  For eight months her heart and mine were neighbors.  Now she was feeling her dad’s heartbeat, as she lay on his chest. This is where she spent her final moments.  I rubbed her back and spoke softly, “I love you.”

I wasn’t strong or positive.  As I was wheeled out of the hospital, I looked down at my arms. They were empty.  I was empty.  That’s not the way it was supposed to be.  Trying to get into the car felt as difficult as getting into a rocket ship, weighed down by a heavy space suit.  Every motion was an effort.  My mind and my body were numb from grief, a grief I had yet to fully experience.

Losing a baby can be an especially lonely grief.  For one thing, few others had shared memories of her.

Quilts to remember our history.

Quilts to remember our history.


I couldn’t easily reminisce with friends about the special things Karen did or the way she knew me when I spoke.  Not many saw her face, and only Ted and I had touched her.  Only I knew her little feet and tiny fists pushing up against my ribs or protruding out on my abdomen.  Only I had the future planted firmly in my mind, one of a new baby to nurse and a little sister for my toddler.  Only I envisioned her in the white wicker bassinette, handed down from her family of the many babies who had come before.  For most everyone else, nothing had really changed in their lives, while I was feeling completely changed.

Friends and family did their best to comfort me, but it was the words of a stranger that helped me turn a corner.  Ted’s boss had talked me into attending the company’s Christmas party.  It felt way too soon to be with people or to celebrate in any way.  Ted thought it would be helpful to be among friends.  I reluctantly conceded, mostly because I didn’t have much fight in me to argue.

Quilts for grieving.

Quilts for grieving.

Many of the partiers knew about our loss.  They expressed their sorrow and shared their thoughts for a better tomorrow —  “it’s for the best,” or “you’ll have another,” or “things happen for a reason.”  It’s what people say.

Quietly sitting with a glass of wine and trying to make an effort to be pleasant, someone I didn’t know began talking to me.  For some reason, I shared my story.  After all, the experience was only weeks old, and I hadn’t quite learned how not to talk about it.  Thinking about it now, it must have been a terribly uncomfortable few moments for her.  She probably sat down to make small talk, ready to discuss mundane holiday craziness, and here I dumped this deeply sad saga on her.  She put her arm around me as my tears began to flow for probably the thousandth time.  All these years later, her name and her face elude me, but her words resonated so deeply that I think about them all the time.

“You are now the mother of an angel and that’s quite an honor,” she said.

Karen was born 30 years ago today.  I can’t help but reflect on her short life on earth and how my life’s course was forever altered.  I also cannot help thinking about what it has meant to be the mother of an angel.  It has been, and continues to be, an awesome responsibility.

When we were grieving, strangers offered prayers and dropped off food at our home.

They were parishioners of our church.  They were “strangers” to us because we did not attend church very often.  As parents of an angel, attending mass became a priority, and because of this, we established enduring friendships.  We became involved with parish activities, celebrated joyful events and helped others in times of need.  After a while, I met Sister Ann (see November 1, 2010 Blog Post) and other sisters at Trinita (www.msbt.org),

Quilts to honor.

Quilts to honor.

where our lives became further enriched, enhancing our connection to Jesus.  Being deeply embedded in our faith community helped in all areas of our lives as it brought a broader meaning to everything we did.

For many years I struggled to find my niche in life.  I could type and take shorthand, but I was not happy working in an office.  My gifts are writing, art and quilting.  After becoming the mother of an angel, I offered up my work to God.  For thirty years, I have tried to give comfort to others wherever I could.

Quilts to help others find their way.

Quilts to help others find their way.

My little girl gave me a path to follow for which I am ever so grateful.  Over the years, I have often felt her presence.  At times of self-doubt and wondering if I have the strength for an upcoming task or test, I think of the strength Karen gave me to get through that most heart breaking and devastating time.  I wanted to give up, but I didn’t.  Mothers of angels do not give up!

Blessing of Baby Quilts 11-22-15 (2)

Blessing of Baby Quilts to be donated to Two Hearts

On this special day, in honor of Karen Lynn Szypulski, I offer my prayers to all the mothers and fathers of angels.  May you find peace in your specialness and tremendous love from the good works of the Lord.  To all the doctors, nurses and other medical professionals who care for the innocent and helpless, thank you for honoring their  lives with your skills.  Thank you, too, for comforting the grieving parents.  And to all the strangers who have the courage to say the right words at just the right moment, may God bless you for your kindness.  You may never know whose life you have changed for the better!

Most of all, Happy Birthday to my sweet little angel!  Mommy and Daddy will love you forever.


I love stitching Angels!





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100 Creative Ideas on the Wall!

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.  — Philippians 4:13

Day One

Day One

“How do you win?” “What is the prize?”

These were just two of the many questions I asked my daughter, Robin, when she told me about The 100-Day Project.  In early April, The Great Discontent, a tri-annual print publication and online magazine focused on creativity, offered a challenge by asking, “What could you do with 100 days of making?”  The magazine described The 100-Day Project this way:

It’s a celebration of process that encourages everyone to participate in 100 days of making.   The great surrender is the process; showing up day after day is the goal . . .  it’s about the process.  Who should participate?  Anyone who is hungry to jump-start their creative practice, who is curious about being part of a community that celebrates process, and those who are busy with work and family commitments, but searching for a bite-sized way to play creativity.

“There’s no prize,” Robin explained.  “It’s a way to challenge yourself.”

It’s difficult for me to turn away from a good challenge, especially if I get to share my passion for quilting, and there was a project I had been trying to get to for over a year.  However, as my days are usually ruled by pressing commitments and deadlines, I could never seem to get to it.  I often told myself to just set aside a few minutes a day to work on it, but I had trouble applying myself due to the enormity of my goal — to recreate a photo of my home in fabric.  It would be the centerpiece of a memory quilt I had designed.  I kept thinking about the project as a whole, rather than the incremental steps needed to get it done, and, as a result, it overwhelmed me.  The 100-Day Project seemed like a good way to help me get started.

Anyone who knows me well, is aware that I take commitments very seriously.  If I say I will do something, there are few boundaries I would not cross to get it done.  Even if it’s just a commitment I made to myself, I will lose sleep, skip meals and drive myself and my husband crazy until I have fulfilled my promise.  One of my favorite children’s books is Horton Hatched the Egg, by Dr. Seuss.  If you have young children whom you would like to teach about commitment, this is a great book.   To give a mama bird a much-deserved vacation, Horton promised to sit on her nest, keeping watch over her egg.  Though others in the jungle tried to coax him off, he would not leave the nest.  He repeated over and over, “I meant what I said and I said what I meant . . . an elephant’s faithful one hundred percent!”  I’m a little like Horton.

So, when Robin told me about this project, I knew if I committed to it, I would stick with it.  This was just the impetus I needed.  Besides it was just one hundred days.  How hard could it be?

As required by the rules, I gave my project a title — #100DaysOfDesigningAQuiltBlock.  I broke the process down into small steps.  I didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself, and more importantly, I wanted to stretch it out for 100 days.  Each day I was to post on Instagram a picture of my “making.”  On Day 1 (April 6), I posted a photo of my home.  On Day 2, I posted a scanned copy of the photo of my home, having outlined the parts I wanted to recreate.  Day 3, I redrew my house,  and so it continued.  Day after day I posted one more step in the process.  My daily “making” was posting my work to Instagram.

I began to acquire followers and, as I also shared on Facebook, my friends were showing interest.  Many expressed their excitement about seeing the finished project.  My commitment became broader with fans waiting in the wings.  I was in for the long haul, but I was only on Day 10!

At first, I believed the challenge was just about setting aside the time to create and post, which that in itself was very challenging given the other obligations in my life.  As the days passed, however, I was presented with deeper challenges.  The more I shared, I realized I was exposing my secrets.  Very few people had ever seen the process of my work.  Friends, family and those attending my presentations would “ooh” and “aah” over the finished products, not knowing all the intricacies involved in creating them.  I sometimes felt like a magician who could take bits of fabric and thread, a little paint and a bead or two, and, with nothing up my sleeve (except maybe some smeared paint), turn it all into a beautiful fabric flower.  In the midst of admirers, even I would forget all the work that went into creating a quilted wall hanging.  Now, through this challenge, I was showing it all.  I was exposing the trap door behind the black curtain.  Soon everyone would know — I’m no magician.

Another challenge I faced was whether or not to post my mistakes.  Yes, it’s true.  I make mistakes!  There were a few days when all I did on the project was rip out the previous day’s work.  If I’m not happy with something, it’s got to go, especially if it’s a project I will be looking at for a long time.  As the day was coming to an end and with much trepidation, I bared all.  I posted my mistakes on Instagram and Facebook.  No one seemed to care that much.

Day 64 - One of my sketches.

Day 64 – One of my sketches.

Something else I had to talk myself into was revealing my sketches.  I enjoy planning out my projects on a sketch pad, but up until this challenge, I had never shared my drawings.  Art was always my favorite subject in elementary and high school, but I needed a job so typing and shorthand courses seemed the prudent course.  Even as I approach the beginning of my sixth decade, I still have voices of the past in my head telling me I’m not really an artist.  I am a self-taught sketcher which serves me well for quilting, but could I really show that part of me?  Would the authentic artists out there point out my skewed sense of dimension and scale?  It was a chance I would have to take — I was faithful to this challenge, 100 percent!  I posted my drawings.  The reviews were all positive!

Almost every day, no matter how tired I was or how creatively depleted I felt, I posted.  One hundred days is more than three months (I wish I had thought to do the math early on) so it was impossible to not miss a few days.  We were away for a week, but by planning ahead, I was able to post most of that week.  There were some unexpected circumstances, too, that caused me to miss a day here and there, but I was always able to make up those days by posting multiple times on the following days.

Though I finished this around Day 36, I didn't post it until Day 44.  I kept my fans waiting!

Though I finished this around Day 36, I didn’t post it until Day 44. I kept my fans waiting!

Though I thought I had planned carefully, something unexpected happened.  I finished my house block in less than 40 days.  I smiled as I recalled how long I had put the project off when it turned out it only took me about a month to complete it.  I was grateful for the incentive The 100-Day Project gave me, but I wasn’t sure what to do next.  I asked Robin, “Can I drop out?”  She said, “Mom!  You’re not a quitter!”  She was right so I pushed on.  I had another photo, one taken in 2000, that I had always wanted to make into a wall hanging.  There would be no more putting things off.

I turned my 100-day obligation into my personal, serious responsibility.  I was like Hurley

Day 38 -- a photo taken  in 2000 in Hershey, PA

Day 38 — a photo taken in 2000 in Hershey, PA

on “Lost” (ABC Television Series, 2004-2010) who had to enter a special 10-digit number into the computer each day to avoid assured disaster.  “Post Day  __” was on my daily to-do list between “clean the cat litter” and “do a load of wash.”  It was my job.  Some days I was Hurley and other days I was Horton, but mostly I was just tired me, lifted by the Holy Spirit, feeling good about my accomplishments.  I had a purpose and I was not going to let myself down.

In my presentations, I speak about the importance of doing something creative each day.  There have been numerous studies on how valuable this practice is for your overall health.  The best way to snap out of a bad mood or distract yourself from aches and pains is to pick up a pen, a paint brush, a crochet hook or even a crayon.  It works!  Of course, I practice this advice daily and I can attest to it’s value.  I did not need The 100-Day Project to help me to be more creative.  I needed it to help me move beyond my personal barriers.  I wanted to climb over the wall that was keeping me trapped in a world of shouting “shoulda’s, woulda’s, and coulda’s.”

Not to be too mellow dramatic, but the last year has been challenging.  I, unexpectedly, found myself in a place where I had to “let go” and be accepting of things I had no control over.  I had many moments of self-pity, asking myself, “what do I do now?”  I was still following through on my sewing commitments and keeping up on my home.  However, I was pretty much just going through the motions of life, as is repetitively recommended in every self-help article out there.  I have a quote pasted up on the wall of my studio, “I can’t be happy everyday, but I can choose to be cheerful.”  Most days, I did choose to be cheerful, but I wasn’t happy about it.  I was lacking my usual excitement about my work.

On Day 68, I was at church listening to Psalm 92 — “Proclaim your kindness at dawn and

On Day 68, I posted the sketch.  On Day 98, I posted this picture.

On Day 68, I posted the sketch. On Day 98, I posted this picture.

your faithfulness throughout the night!” My mind drifted and conjured up an idea.  Darn, no sketching during mass. Once home, I quickly sketched out my idea.  It was a rough drawing, but I proudly posted it to Facebook, confessing, “I should have been paying attention at mass, but I was thinking about my work!”  My daughter, Laura, chimed in, “Um yeah, I think God will let this one pass.”  It suddenly dawned on me.  I had a renewed excitement about my work.

My friends continued to motivate me to keep going.  Their comments were often touching, which inspired my creative spirit.  I had no idea how some friends had thought about my quilting until they commented under one of my posts.  I treasure their words.  Even the many “likes” spurred on my resolve to go another day.

Early on, along with my other fears, I was afraid of being boring.  I wondered, who would want to see this stuff?  As often as possible, I pushed myself to try new techniques and choose elaborate embellishments.  If I had a day when all I could do was show the fabric I was using, I arranged it in a fun way.  Once I made a “cake” out of my materials, and another time, I made a tree.  I considered my followers every day.  I rarely posted just to get it done.  Rather, I carefully thought about the viewers.

Yesterday was Day 100.   I posted the completed wall hanging inspired by the 2000 photo.  It’s

Day 100

Day 100

embellished with beads, buttons, glitter, and my own crocheted trim, things I would not have done 15 years ago.  Under my post I added this from Hans Christian Anderson:  “Just living is not enough,” said the butterfly.  “One must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower.”  So true.

There’s no prize, my daughter said?  I beg to differ.  I’ve just been given a whole new Day 1!  I can’t wait to start making . . .

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Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus

 “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.” — Luke 11:28

Nuff Said As an avid history enthusiast, I have often found myself mentally transported back in time as a means to better understand what it may have been like in previous eras.  This exercise is not so much about facts, logistics or inventions as it is about feelings.  I want appreciate what it must have felt like to live in another time.

I do not believe I was the only teen to have screamed at my mother, “You don’t understand!  Things were different when you were my age!”  As a typical, self-centered youth, I did not think previous generations of the past felt about things as we did in the present.  But, of course, they did.  Since Adam and Eve, humans have felt pain, joy, fear, excitement, grief and every other emotion we know.

What must it have felt like to wear a corset?  How time-consuming and annoying that must have been.  As it is, I struggle with pantyhose.    How scary it must have been to face childbirth before the time of modern medicines.  What pain there was, too, before aspirin, ether, and Novocain.  What must it have felt like to watch bloody battles taking place just beyond a kitchen window or from a back porch as many did during the Revolutionary and Civil Wars?

For as much as there was pain and suffering, I believe simple joys were relished so muchDSCN0018 more.  Sharing a meal, reading a book, holding hands, smelling flowers and visiting a friend were all likely held in very high regard when life was difficult and fleeting.  New inventions such as the telephone and the washing machine must have seemed like golden treasures when those things entered history’s stage.

My mom and aunts have shared how they enjoyed the Saturday afternoon “picture show” when they were young.  Today we have thousands of movies at our fingertips, ready to be viewed at our convenience.  We could plan to watch a movie at 8:00 this evening with friends or sit down alone, on the spur of the moment, at 10:12 in the morning and choose one off the internet, if we so desire.  Can you transport yourself to 1944 and feel what it was like to be in school, trying to concentrate on your studies, when your mind keeps drifting in excitement toward seeing the latest “flick” with your friends on the weekend?

Reading Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus, by Ann Spangler and Lois Tverberg, has greatly aided in my time travel fantasies.  The authors have helped me understand what it must have felt like to live in the time of Jesus.  Thanks to this book I can imagine sitting at Jesus’ feet taking in and savoring all he had to say.

First Communion Center“Most of the people living in the land of Judea and Galilee are descendants of pious Jews who returned to Israel after their exile in Babylon.  Since then, life for the chosen people has been anything but idyllic.  Their Roman occupiers are universally hated for their brutality and pagan ways, to say nothing of the oppressively high taxes they levy.  Little wonder that everyone is longing for a Messiah to come and deliver them by throwing out their harsh oppressors.” (Page 20)

“Though anticipation is high, opinions vary about just how or when the Messiah will finally arrive.  Sadducees, Zealots, Essenes, and Pharisees — each has a different take on what has happened and why, and on how the future will unfold.  Political tension and spiritual fervor are both on the rise.  It is into this time of intense spiritual searching that another rabbi comes striding onto the scene.  He hails from Nazareth.  Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”  (Page 20)

“Because of their continuing oppression by the Romans the Jewish people cried out to God daily, begging for a Messiah to deliver them.  It was into this hotbed of social ferment and religious longing that the greatest of all rabbis appeared on the scene.  No wonder he attracted a crowd wherever he went.”  (Page 24)

Personally, I know how excited I get when there’s a break in my mundane, daily routine.  It’s wonderful when we are planning a vacation, expecting company or just going out to dinner.  I am also very excited when I hear someone with a large audience speaking a message I deeply believe myself.  When I see injustices, global or local, it gives me hope to see and hear someone speaking loudly about making changes.  It makes me want to hear more.

I can imagine the frustration of the poor in Israel, working hard to feed their children, onlyDSCN0003 to have a good deal of their earnings collected for the royalty, who swanked their lavish attire and exploited their extravagant ways.  Jesus’ kind and caring demeanor along with his vast knowledge of scriptures must have offered incredible hope for change.

Can you envision that time?  Perhaps children are playing in the field near the road heading into Bethany.  They see Jesus and His disciples heading their way.  The children become excited and run ahead to their homes.  “Jesus is coming!  Jesus is coming!” they shout.  Martha and Mary run to the door to see for themselves and then begin to prepare a meal.  Their neighbors, too, prepare food to offer at Lazarus’ home.  All are welcome.

If I were there, what would I do?  What would I say?  Is He cold and tired?  Would He like a quilt?  I hope I would sit at His feet and listen, as I am trying to do this week.

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Busy Hands

Let God's light shine through you!

Let God’s light shine through you!

“A time to rend, and a time to sew . . . ” Ecclesiastes 3:7

Just thought I would share with you the projects I completed in 2014.  I’m not sure how I found the time to do all of this, but it happened!  Click on each photo to read more about the project.

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2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,800 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 30 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Come Be With Me

“Only goodness and kindness follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come.”  — Psalm 23:6

Colored Edges EffectOnce again I was honored with the task of creating the Hospice Memorial Quilt for McLean’s in Simsbury, Connecticut.  Each year, the family and friends of those who passed away are asked to decorate a six-inch fabric square to honor their loved one.  I then take those squares and create a quilt, which is displayed at the McLean’s facility.

On the evening of November 25th, at the annual “Lights of Hope” ceremony, the quilt was unveiled.  Here is my speech which I gave just prior to the quilt being revealed:

First, I would like to thank a few people for helping me to create the quilt. Thank you to Elizabeth Scheidel for the very time-consuming and hard work of the embroidery on the quilt. I used to make embroidered samplers but I switched

Poem stitched by Elizabeth Scheidel

Poem stitched by Elizabeth Scheidel

to quilting because quilting is faster, so I really appreciate that Elizabeth is willing to do all that stitching. I also want to thank my friend, Maria Gerard, who hand-stitched the binding around the quilt. That, too, is very tedious work and it was a tremendous help. Mostly, I would like to thank my husband of 37 years, who supports me through all my volunteer work and other crazy adventures. And by support, I don’t mean just financially. Sometimes other quilters might look at something I made and they express interest in making the same thing so they ask, “how much time would it take?” I usually say six weeks if your husband washes the dishes, does the laundry and cooks dinner. Three months if he doesn’t! I honestly couldn’t do this work without Ted.

When I was first asked to create the Hospice Memorial Quilt about three and a half years ago, I knew I would have to carve out some space in my fall schedule and I knew it would be a fair amount of work. I also knew it would be a challenge as these types of quilts pose additional challenges since my starting point is based on the creations of others – your creations. Because I have little control over what you create, I had to deal with letting go of some control. That’s a difficult thing for artists!

Attendees seeing the quilt for the first time.

Attendees seeing the quilt for the first time.

What I did not realize was how emotionally invested I would become in the process of making these quilts. Like all human beings, I have not been immune from tragedy and loss. In fact, today happens to be the anniversary of the loss of someone very special to my family. As I worked with the fabric blocks, read your words, handled your creations and looked into the eyes of those you lost, I grieved for all of us. In times of my own personal grief, there were days when I wondered how the sun could possibly still rise each day when such a vital person – a friend, a spouse, a parent, a child – is no longer here to feel its warmth and see its glow. Perhaps you have had days like this.  I don’t know the answer, but I do know while getting to know your loved ones through the memories you embedded on six-inch squares, the emotions stirred within me, and through them, I

Finished Quilt and Me!

Finished Quilt and Me!

was inspired. The ideas flowed and the quilt emerged. You trusted me with your special memories and I thank you for that honor.

When working on last year’s quilt, there was something about the fabric I chose that inspired me to write a poem, which I read at the 2013 unveiling ceremony. Though I am a writer, I don’t usually write poems. In fact, that poem was probably the third one I had ever written in my life and it wasn’t something I thought I would make a habit of doing. So, when I was finishing up this quilt, I thought to myself, “I guess I won’t be writing a poem this year” as nothing had come to me. Would you believe, in the very next second, a poem popped into my head? It must be a sign that I am meant to share it.

Come Be With Me

Come sit with me

as we did in the spring

by the budding tree

to hear a baby bird sing.

Come walk with me

as we did in the summer

on the tree-lined path

where the butterflies flutter.

Come run with me

as we did in the fall

shuffling through leaves

where sunflowers grew tall.

Come dance with me

as we did in the winter

by the warmth of the fire

our hearts in the center.

Come talk with me

as we did all year

please know I’ll hear you

when you whisper our prayer.


Dorothy J. Szypulski
November 25, 2014

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God Bless America!

God Bless America!

“Seeking face of God in everything, everyone, everywhere, all the time, and seeing His hand in every happening – that is contemplation in the heart of the world.” – Mother Teresa of Calcutta

It seems we can’t get through a week without hearing on the news about a horrible tragedy,  a catastrophic weather event. or an unimaginable act of



evil inflicting pain and suffering on innocent lives.  I’ve heard people ask,  “Where is God in this?” or “How could God let this happen?” At times of deep personal loss, I have asked those questions myself.

I now have come to realize, especially when reflecting on our world’s long history, tragedy,

World Trade Center

World Trade Center

catastrophes, and evil have been here since the beginning of human existence.  This is the downside of the precious gift of being both a spiritual and a biological life — we are vulnerable.  We are at the mercy of others’ mistakes and subject to flukes of nature.  We are at risk of being hurt by those who lack a moral compass.   We are constantly reminded of how little we can control.  On any given day, we could be a victim of pain, suffering or loss.   There is not one of us who is immune from hardships.



Graciously, there is an upside!  We are also vulnerable to great joy!  We value joy so much more because we know suffering.  Try to imagine how you would gauge happiness if you never experienced sadness.  How special would it be to win a game if you never lost one?  Would it be just as wonderful to attain a college degree, win an award or finish a marathon if everyone everywhere achieved those same goals every day.  If failing grades were never given, would an “A-plus” mean anything special?

I am not saying we should welcome suffering or accept evil.  We should do all we can to

Boston Marathon

Boston Marathon

shelter ourselves and others from needless pain.  I am just sharing how I believe we should not see God in the negative aspects of life but rather in the positive ones.  God is in the “upside” of life.

When I read Mother Teresa’s words for the first time a little over a year ago, my thoughts went immediately to the heroes I have seen run to help others in times of crisis.  I thought about the firemen who entered burning buildings to save lives.  I thought about the teachers who shielded their students from gun fire.  I thought about the doctors who, at a moment’s notice, pour all of their experience and knowledge into restoring a heartbeat.  I thought about the thousands of soldiers marching toward danger to fight for our freedom.  I thought about countless others, day after day, who run to the aid of victims of evil and tragedy without regard for the dangerous risk they will face.  I see God’s hand in these tragic happenings because he sends his angels — they are our American Heroes!

Sandy Hook Elementary School

Sandy Hook Elementary School

Mother Teresa’s words inspired my thoughts which inspired this quilt, “Contemplation.”  The center block is representative of God’s light in America, because at the very core of America’s founding are God’s words.  The appliqued pictures surrounding the center depict events which most prominently stood out in my mind in recent years  – Twin Towers, Aurora Movie Theater, hurricanes, Sandy Hook School, tornadoes, Boston Marathon, tsunamis, Virginia Tech and other schools.  The four angel

American Angel

American Angel

blocks are there to remind us in times of peril, God will send His angels.  Around the blocks I named the angels who run to do God’s work.  The outer border colors, and also interspersed within the quilt, represents America — red, white and blue.  I am a proud American because God shows me everyday just how special it is to be here!

This quilt is my way to honor the heroes of America.  I am in awe of all of you. I honor your strength of character and your courageous heart.  I thank you and I pray for all of you.  May God bless you and keep you in His loving embrace.




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