Quilts I Have Sewn

As I continue with this blog, it’s focus is changing course a bit.  What I would like to do is add a section that describes my life in quilting.  I have always had an interest in quilts, quilting, and the history of quilting.  In the course of learning the craft of quilting I have had some interesting, encouraging, blessed and frustrating experiences.

So on this page (assuming I can figure this blog thing out–the set up part to do this…) I would like to begin sharing my adventures in quilt.

I would like to begin with telling you about my “Blind Quilt.”   Blind Quilt

I have a genetic eye disease called Fuchs’ Dystrophy.  The Mayo Clinic website describes it this way: “Fuchs’ (fooks) dystrophy affects the cornea — the clear front window of your eye. This disorder causes swelling in the cornea that can lead to glare, cloudy vision and eye discomfort.”

When you have Fuchs’ dystrophy the cells in an inner layer of the cornea called the “endothelium” start dying off. Since these cells pump the water out of the eye, the cornea fills up with water and swells. The cornea is the “window” of the eye, and assimilates the light, so the more advanced the Fuchs’ dystrophy is the blurrier and more indistinct your vision will be.

For a number of years the only thing that could be done for this condition was to use things like hair dryers to try and pull water from your eyes, to use Muro drops that will also pull water from your eyes and hopefully prevent water “blisters” from forming.  Then at some point in the process you could have a full cornea transplant which would give you some relief and sight but your visual acuity would not be good.  Then an ophthalmologist  discovered that better results could be achieved by doing what is called a partial corneal transplant or DSEK. The results from this surgery can be life changing for the patient.  I was one such patient.  Thank you, Lord for appointing me to the community where this surgery was pioneered.

The year before the surgery was done, my eyesight was so bad that it had become more and more difficult for me to read even large overhead traffic signs from any distance. I almost needed to be under them to read them.  The day after my surgery was miraculous! On the way home–after having bandages removed– I just kept drinking in the clarity of what I was seeing! As an artist and quilter, my world began to come together once more.

A couple of years later in a different appointment, my ophthalmologist recommended that the other eye should be now be done.  After the success of the other surgery I didn’t even hesitate so that I never reckoned on the difficult days I was about to face.

For three months after that surgery I lived with a detached cornea with no guarantee that I would ever see properly from my left eye again. What added to the difficulty is that my right eye was deteriorating from the added strain of the load it carried.  During this time God provided me with a Christian ophthalmologist who was determined to get my eye corrected and healed. (I’ve been told that he wrote a couple of “papers” on my care.)

It was during this time that God comforted me and helped me to realize that I could accept whatever my future held and helped me realize that He would always give me a ministry and purpose along with the needed gifts and desires to accomplish them.

About a month or so into what I call my “blind time” I worked on and completed the above quilt.  While making that quilt I spent quite a few moments listening to the Lord through audible books, pod casts (thank you Stan Key for the Bible studies), music, and prayer. Scripture says, “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ[b] who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:11-13)

My blind quilt is getting pretty worn these days but then so am I. This quilt is still is a vivid reminder to me of all that I have walked through with the Lord and tends to bring to my heart a sense of peace.

 

 

You Know I Love You

The following song has been going through my mind this morning and felt led to share it. A huge thanks to Ken Kirby whose voice I hear singing it. Ken sang this as a solo when the SWONEKY Division presented the Gowans and Larsson’s musical “Jesus  Folk” way back in the early 1970’s.

Knowing my failings, knowing my fears,

Seeing my sorrow, drying my tears.

Jesus recall me, me re-ordain;

You know I love you, use me again.

2.

I have no secrets unknown to you,

No special graces, talents are few;

Yet your intention I would fulfill;

You know I love you, ask what you will.

3.

For the far future I cannot see,

Promise your presence, travel with me;

Sunshine or shadows? I cannot tell;

You know I love you, all will be well.

Thank you, Lord that this is still very much my prayer, even today. Lord, You know I love you and I know all will be well.

Surprised by….

It had been a particularly exhausting week when finally I was able to enjoy a bit of “me time.” Getting my hair cut was first on my list. The brand new hairstylist invited me to her chair and introduced herself. As usually happens, she asked me what I did for a living. Being tired and not really wanting to converse much, I simply said that I was a Salvation Army officer. “Oh,” was her response as she continued to work on my hair. After a quiet minute or two and after I began thinking, ‘oh, good. She’s not a chatty person.’ Then she says, “so what do you do as an officer?” Not really being in the mood for conversation, I simply gave her a real short version of officership.  She went quiet again. Then she said, “does that mean that you also do counseling?” Ok, now my antenna fully engages as I say, “yes” and identify my counseling as pastoral in nature. “Oh,” she says as she goes quiet again. Now I am sending SOSs to the Lord, praying for his guidance. She then leans very close to my ear and quietly whispers, “I found out yesterday that my three year old son was molested.” Over the course of the next few minutes we spoke quietly together. I honestly do not remember what was said but I do know that the Holy Spirit spoke through me in those few moments.

C.S. Lewis described his conversion to Christianity as being “surprised by joy.” He wrote a whole book about it. Lewis was raised in a Christian home. But his intellectualism led him to atheism. Lewis, however, could never get comfortable with his disbelief. As he said, “I could not get away from Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet.” Then in the college term of 1929 he was brought kicking, struggling, eyes darting in every direction, back home to Christ. He was overwhelmed by joy.

To be surprised is to feel wonder, astonishment, amazement, at something unanticipated. To be surprised is to be dumfounded, even flabbergasted. But not everything that comes our way in the course of a day can in any way be classified as joyful. Like my experience with the hairstylist, some things that come our way can be absolutely heartbreaking.

“Be prepared.” That’s the boy scout motto. It is also the motto of the Christian. Jesus tells us in a parable that to be prepared  is like the master of a large estate who goes on a journey. When he returns home, he expects his servants to be at their posts so that when he knocks on the door, they will open the door immediately for him to come in. If they are prepared for his coming, then the master will reward them bountifully. They will sit at his table and he himself will serve them. If they are not at their post, the master will deal with that, too. Be ready, counseled Jesus. Be prepared. There is probably no wiser advice than that. To be prepared is also wise advice in terms of our relationship with Christ. And it is wise advice in our everyday lives.

Preparation is often the difference between success and failure. Jesus wanted us to see that. In the parable mentioned above we find that it contains one of the great truths of life. People who are prepared have an advantage over those who are not. Being prepared means that, while we may be caught off guard, we have the means to deal with any confrontation.
The good news is that preparation can be easy. Being prepared means that we are closely connected to Jesus who gives us the Holy Spirit who gives the guidance and power we need to handle all situations. One word of advice. You can make the work of the Holy Spirit in you a tad easier by study of Scripture and by spending quiet time in His presence. This obviously strengthens your relationship with Him as well as deepens your trust. Then when you are surprised by circumstances you are not left defenseless.

“Almighty God, You have promised strength for the work of this day, power to handle the pressures, light for the way, patience in problems, help from above, unfading courage, and undying love. In the stresses and strains of living, often I sense my wells have run dry. Life has a way of de-powering me, depleting my resiliency, and draining my patience. People can get me down and perplexities stir me up. 

“Lord, I pray for a fresh flow of Your strength-strength strength to think clearly, serve creatively, and endure consistently; strength to fill up diminished human resources; silent strength that flows from Your limitless source, quietly filling them with artesian power.

You never ask me to do more than You will provide the strength to accomplish. So make me a riverbed for the flow of Your creative Spirit. Fill this day with serendipities, ties, unexpected surprises of Your grace. Be Lord of every conversation, the unseen guest at every meeting and the guide of every decision. In the name of Him who is the way, the truth and the life.” –Lloyd John Ogilvie, Quiet Moments with God

Home

Yesterday evening we arrived home from our son’s house after about a nine hour drive. We arrived home tired, emotionally spent, and filled with worry regarding our son’s health and future. But something happened when I walked through the door. I felt a sigh of relief unexpectedly slip out of me. ‘Huh, where did that come from?’ I thought.

Then an old song I recall singing as a kid popped into my mind: “Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.” What is it about ‘home’, about being home that brings such a sense of peace to my heart? Coming home and feeling so exhausted this time I realized that I was feeling like one of those tiny baby birds under the protection of its mother’s wings. Even though I was tired and worn out I knew that I would find rest and renewed energy in due time. 

You see the thing I love best about the home Don and I have built really has nothing to do with any particular house but has everything to do with the relationships that are it’s foundation. The relationship between me and Don and our relationship with the Lord. This foundation provides for our needs be they physical, emotional, or spiritual.

Home for me is a haven of security, safety and rest. No real surprise then, after facing a storm of fear and uncertainty, that the simple act of coming home brought a sense of peace to my heart. The old gospel song says it well:

How precious the thought that we all may recline,                                                                        

Like John, the beloved so blest,                                                                                                               

On Jesus’ strong arm, where no tempest can harm,                                                                  

Secure in the “Haven of Rest.”

Hi, Mom

As I walked into the hospital room and met my son’s eyes fighting back tears he said, “hi, mom” as I continued straight to his bed to give him a hug. My 43 year old son, a soldier, a married man,  father of four and step-father of four in that moment simply became my little boy again. Sitting there in that hospital bed in tremendous pain I had the sense that with the arrival of mom and dad, his world came back on an even keel again. A sense of relief. Even though his wife was by his side providing him all the love and support one could give to another, in times like these I think our inner child peeks out looking for familiar comfort and security.

Kevin’s journey of healing is just beginning. I am so grateful that it is beginning on the foundation of hundreds of prayers from friends, family, and even friends of friends. I know that God is hearing those prayers and as physical healing takes place, I know that the Holy Spirit will be whispering words of love, peace and assurance. Thank you Lord.

Isaiah reminds us that “those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.” (‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭40:31‬ ‭NKJV‬‬). I have sore need to lay claim to this promise tonight. I came to my son’s side from the hospital bed of a dearly loved cousin whom God called home this evening. My sister reminded me that the Lord never gives us more than we can bear. A good reminder. So my heart sings the beautiful verse of song: He giveth more grace as our burdens grow greater/ He sendeth more strength as our labors increase/  To added afflictions He added His mercy/ To multiplied trials He multiplies peace. His love has no limits/ His grace has no measure/ His power no boundaries known unto men/ For out of His infinite riches in Jesus/ He giveth and giveth and giveth again. 

“Lord, I hear Your voice over the crashing waves, saying, ‘Peace, be still.’ I want the miracle of that stillness and accept it as Your gift. I breathe out the tension and breathe in the breath of Your Spirit. In this time of prayer speak to me the whisper of Your love and assurance, grace, and guidance.” Amen. (Lloyd John Ogilvie)

Precious Memories

I have spent the day in a hospital room with family who are beginning to rally around the bedside of a loved one who is standing on the threshold of Glory. At one point in the day after some difficult decisions had to be made we began to recall past escapades. Along with the memories came laughter and tears. At one point I glanced over at Stella who was laying quietly in the bed with her eyes closed listening to us and I think she was enjoying our memories.  In her present state I don’t think she could recall much on her own but by listening to us I hope she was able to get a sense of the depth of love we have for her.

Thinking about memories my mind immediately went to the old gospel song, Precious Memories which kept playing over and over in my mind this evening.  Here is one of my favorite arrangements:

Memory is one of the most precious possessions given us by God. The power to remember is the thread which binds together the events of our lives. It ties the years together and makes of them one continuous whole. Someone has said that it is “memory that makes today the total of all our yesterdays.” And it is the our ability to remember that makes possible all learning and all personal and spiritual growth.

Elie Wiesel  has written: “Memory is an exalted way of seeing one’s life in its totality, it is not a morbid thing.” There is more power in memory than we realize. There are events in our lives that we deem memorable so we mark them with a physical item like souvenirs. I still have a small bottle of sand from a visit to Bermuda and each time I see it I recall my time there. This marking of an event is Biblical; recall how Samuel placed a large stone where all could see and publicly dedicated it as a monument to God’s help, God’s faithfulness, God’s eternal covenant. And as the people got on with their lives, the stone stood there, visible to all who passed that way, a visible reminder.

As a teenager I remember reading Steinbeck’s powerful novel, Grapes of Wrath which chronicles the struggles of the Joad family as they leave their home in Oklahoma to find work in California. As they are preparing to leave they are trying to determine which items to take and which items to leave behind. Space is limited. They ponder: “How can we live without our lives? How will we know its us without our past?”

We are so quick to forget; that’s why markers become important and necessary.  For the child of God, each Sunday is really a kind of ‘memory’ day—a day to remind us of God’s love and kindness to us.

In Psalm 103, David calls upon us not to forget those things that we have received from God:

(1) forgiveness of sin (vs.3)
(2) healing of diseases (vs.3)
(3) redemption (vs.4)
(4) love (vs.4)
(5) compassion (vs.4,8)
(6) inner satisfaction (vs.5)
(7) righteousness (vs.6)
(8) justice (vs.6)
(9) revelation (vs.7)
(10)longsuffering (vs.8,10)

 

How awesome the memories of what God has done for us in creating us and giving us a purpose in life; the memories of what Jesus did for us by entering into human history and taking our sins on himself on the cross; the memories of parents and friends who nurtured us in the faith; these are the memories help us find the direction in which we need to be headed as we move into the future.

“God gave us memories that we might have roses in December.” (James M. Barrie) While it  was not a December day, God certainly gave me roses today as I shared precious memories with my family.