I Must be Getting Old…

The wedding quilt is done!!!! Actually, it has been finished for a little over a week now. Good thing, since the wedding is tomorrow. I feel like I should include a certificate of authenticity because, yes, this quilt really WAS hand-quilted, by me. Seriously. The really crazy thing is, I’ve started hand-quilting a quilt for Munchkin. This may become an obsession on the same level as knitting. I’ve had to take a short break from the hand-quilting because of a quilt-related injury. I can’t quilt with a thimble. I’ve tried, and I just can’t do it. So, I poked the eye of the needle rather deep into my thumb. Trying to quilt only pokes the needle back into the injured spot, and tears and shouts are the result. So, I will have to let my thumb heal up a bit. In the mean time, I’m sewing on another quilt top, and knitting Mr. Q’s birthday sweater. J Plenty to keep me busy!

My sister and I took the kiddos to visit our aunt, one of Mom’s sisters, yesterday. It was a wonderful visit, and we both enjoyed seeing her. She showed us her first quilt! She pieced it and is in the process of hand quilting it! Mom would be so proud of her!!! It is a beautiful quilt, and I have to admit that her hand-quilting stitches are smaller than mine! It makes me smile to think of how excited Mom would have been about her sister’s first quilt.

I’ve discovered that I’m getting gray. I’m really going gray! In just the past couple of months, I’ve started going gray! I had no idea that I was quite so vain, but the white hair thing is really bugging me! I’m going to go find a box of hair color and have my sister color it for me. OK, stop laughing now. Really, I mean it, stop laughing, it’s not funny… Maybe there is a bit of my grandmother in me after all. She was gray by the time she was 30, and she colored her hair too. Can anyone recommend some good red haircolor???

I had a moment during this past week when I put the kids down for their nap, sat with my head in my hands and thought, “I really wish that I knew what I was doing!” I began to wonder if Mom ever had those moments. Moments when we don’t have a clue what to do. I think that perhaps all mothers have these moments, at least, I hope that I’m not alone in this! I wish that I could go back to the time when I was little, and perhaps Mom felt discouraged and tired, and just put my arms around her and tell her, “You’re doing great. Don’t worry, you’re the best mom that those two little girls could ask for. And one day, they will tell you that themselves.”

One of Mom’s friends said something to me earlier this week that has really stuck with me. She said that even though I only had Mom for 28 years, Mom gave me more in those 28 years than some daughters get in an entire lifetime. There is so much truth in that. Mom gave us so much of herself. I guess that means that there is that much more to miss. Still, I would not trade one second of my life with Mom for anything. The grief is deep, because the love was deep. The irony of life. The more we love someone, the more we are affected by their absence. It makes me long even more for the day when there will be no more good-byes, no more tears. And until that day, grace. Grace for the moment.

Apple Pie

I’m sitting here contemplating a hot cup of Earl Grey, and an ice cold slice of apple pie. I think it would go perfectly with the book I’m reading.

I decided on Tuesday to make an apple pie. That may sound unremarkable, but for me, it’s not. I am TERRIBLE at apple pies. Apple crisp, not a problem! Homemade applesauce, easy! Apple dumplings, coming right up! Apple pie… not so much. I have absolutely no explanation for this phenomenon. Mom made the best apple pie. She’d make one, call me up, and say, “I’ve got a fresh apple pie up here that would go good with a cup of coffee.” I’d sit at her table with a cup of coffee (or tea this past year or so) and we’d chat over our pie and steaming mugs. I miss her pie, but I miss the chats at her kitchen table even more. The day I married Aaron, Mom and I sat at her kitchen table before leaving the house, both with a hot cup of coffee in our hands. I can’t remember what we said, but I remember how good it was to sit there, at the table with her.

My kiddos all have colds, but they are on the mend. Camo did not have an ear infection, and I’m very thankful for that! Aaron got hit the hardest this time around, and I seem to have a ridiculously mild case of it. Not that I’m complaining!

I’ve inherited a huge number of books that were Mom’s. Lots of novels, and a good selection of books by Max Lucado. I’ve read a couple of chapters lately in his books that have been rather hard-hitting for me. One in particular about forgiveness. Forgiveness comes hard for me. I can be civil towards just about anyone, but simmering beneath the surface is still that bitterness. Bitterness has no place in the heart of a follower of Christ, I realize this. Forgiveness sounds easy, but practicing it, is VERY hard! In his book Just Like Jesus, Max Lucado speaks of Christ’s forgiveness. He washed the feet of the very disciples who would abandon and deny Him in just a few short hours. He showed them mercy and love, even though He knew exactly what they would do. Did they deserve it? Certainly not! Do I? Definitely not. Yet He forgives me all the same. I’m the guilty party, He is not required to show me an ounce of mercy. But He does, freely forgiving me, just because I asked Him to. If I am to follow His example, how can I do any less? There is a quote in the book that I should keep in mind, “Relationships don’t thrive because the guilty are punished but because the innocent are merciful.” Even if it’s not my fault, I still must extend the love, forgiveness and mercy that He has extended to me. Grace for the day, grace to forgive.

The apple pie? I took it with me to a friend’s house, and after sampling it, we all decided that it was delicious. It’s not Mom’s apple pie, but it’s a start…

Quilt Through All Sickness!

It’s days like this when I really miss Mom. All of us woke up with a cold this morning, so none of us are feeling great. I’m a bit worried about Camo, since the last time he had a cold, he wound up with an ear infection. He’s got a fever and is terribly fussy. I know that they typical question is, “Is he pulling on his ears?” In my Camo’s case however, that isn’t much of an indication, since he tugs his ears anytime that he’s tired, upset, or feels poorly. I so much want to call up Mom and say, “What do you think?” She would just know. She gave me great advice when it came to the kiddos. That’s something that I REALLY miss now.

I’m quilting away on a gift quilt. (Read: Quilt that must be finished in two weeks.) It’s not terribly big, but I had planned to quilt it by machine. I don’t do hand-quilting. Yes, you sense a “but” coming… I decided to hand quilt a few hearts on the quilt. Mom always said that a quilt must have at least one heart, because it’s made with love. OK, I’ll just quilt a couple of hearts and then do the rest on my sewing machine, right? Yeah, well, not so much… Once I got started, I kept going, and going, and the whole thing is going to be hand-quilted, by me. This is unheard of. I should issue a certificate of authenticity with this thing, because no one will believe that I actually hand-quilted a quilt. (OK, they might start to believe it when they see how horribly uneven my stitches are.) Anyway, I’ve got almost the whole quilt quilted, except for the border. Then Joyce and I have to put the binding on. Joyce would help me quilt, but our hand-quilting stitches do NOT even come close to matching. Hers are tiny and neat, the way that hand-quilting is supposed to be. Mine are huge and uneven, and are not likely to improve anytime soon… So, I am quilting my fingers to the bone, or at least it feels that way at times! I’m going to finish it though, on time! I am determined to!!!! Of course, I did not count on getting this really nasty cold in the process. Elizabeth Zimmerman said to “knit through all crisis” so I’m going to “quilt through all sickness”! I’d better get back to the quilt… right after I find some tea…

Graves and Grace

Joyce and I stopped at the cemetery today. We wanted to check on some of the flowers that she had placed up there for Memorial Day. They were digging Mom’s grave when we drove in. She’ll be buried there tomorrow.

I know that the body is not really Mom, not everything that made her the Mom that I loved so much. The thing is, I’m still stuck in the physical world here. Even though we are spiritual beings, we are so rooted in the physical world while we are alive here. I know that the body is not Mom, but it’s how I related to her. So, even though I know that she’s gone, I still have a sort of attachment to the physical form she had. Perhaps that’s why gravestones mean so much to us. Here we are, with no way to relate to the spiritual realm that Mom now inhabits, but that marker, that particular spot, is proof that she once lived among us. It is a reminder of a million and one good memories, and a sharp reminder of all that we have lost.

Mom’s gone, but the legacy, her legacy lives on. I mourn, oh, I surely mourn, but God promises that I will be comforted. Grace for the moment…

Amazing Grace

Today I have to read something that I wrote about Mom. Her eulogy. Funerals are difficult for me. I try to avoid them whenever possible. One is bad enough. Two seems nearly unbearable to me. So, I pray for an extra measure of grace and peace. The only way that I’ll survive today, is truly by the grace of God. Interestingly enough, that is the topic of Mom’s eulogy. For those of you who are not able to be here today, I am posting the entire text here. It is perhaps, not my best writing, but it has certainly been the hardest for me to write out of anything. It is the best tribute that I could write for the wonderful woman who I was immensely blessed to call, “Mom”.

“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,

That saved a wretch like me!

I once was lost, but now am found;

Was blind, but now I see.”

It’s customary on such occasions to speak about how truly good that a person was. But, that’s not what Mom would have wanted. Romans 3:10 tells us, “There is none righteous, no, not one;” She would not wish us to remember what a remarkable woman she was, without crediting it to the work of God in her life.

John 3:16-18 explains, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned;” This was the very foundation of Mom’s faith. Above all else, she was truly a follower of Christ, and a woman of unwavering faith in Him.

    James writes, “Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” That was the key; that was what made Mom the wonderful woman, who we all remember with great love. Mom’s faith was so real and vital to her, that it touched every area of her life. The result of her faith was that she was a Godly woman. Everyone who knew her loved her; they couldn’t help but love her. She was kind and loving to all of us. Her faith is what gave her that great love and compassion for others that we all remember so well. All of this was the work of God in her life.

“Through many dangers, toils and snares,

I have already come.

Tis grace that brought me safe thus far,

And grace will lead me home.”

Mom suffered through some very difficult things in her life. Through every one of them, she relied on God’s grace. I remember one time in particular, when she was in tears, and she asked how much more we would have to face. With her next breath she quoted 2 Corinthians 12:9 “And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.'” Then she prayed that God would give her grace, and she finished by praising God.

God did bring her safely through many things. On more than one occasion He miraculously intervened, healing her and giving us a little more time with her here. I am so thankful for that. But on March 3rd, 2009, it was time. God called her home. His grace had brought her through all of her trials and struggles. Now, it was finally time for her to lay the burdens down for good, and go home. She finished her race. And I am convinced that her Savior welcomed her home with the words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

“The Lord has promised good to me,

His word, my hope secures.

He will my shield and portion be,

As long as life endures.”

Mom found great comfort in the scriptures, in God’s word. She spent many hours with me as I was growing up, helping me to commit it to memory. Now, I find tremendous comfort in those very same promises.

John 16:33 “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

John 14: 27 “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

2 Corinthians 1:3&4 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

Matthew 5:4 “Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.”

And the verse she wrote in the front of nearly every Bible that she ever gave me, Isaiah 41:10 “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

Mom left a legacy. One that I cannot hope to live up to, but one that I aspire to nonetheless. She taught me the most important things that I have learned. She prayed me through all of my own struggles. She left me with hope, because the legacy of her faith lives on still.

I shall miss her every day, for the rest of my life. I miss her even more now, than I did that night in March. I grieve, but I do not grieve without hope. My hope is in the same God who Mom placed her hope in. Her Savior, is also mine. That is why I take comfort in the knowledge that we will one day be reunited in the presence of our LORD.

I wrote a stanza of my own to the tune of “Amazing Grace”. It is what I imagine that Mom might say to us now if that were possible.

“There’s no more pain, and no more fear,

My Lord has made me whole.

So dry the tears; I’ll meet you here,

When your Savior calls you home.”

A Woman of Faith

How do you write something for your Mom’s memorial? I’ve been trying to for over a month now, and I only have a week left to do it. I usually enjoy writing, but this is one thing that I never wanted to. It is truly amazing to me how bittersweet memories can be. I have so many wonderful memories of Mom. Remembering makes me smile. But remembering them also brings to the surface how very much I miss her. Joy, grief, and hope are all warring for my attention. I feel them all. Hope and joy keep the grief at bay enough to keep me from despair, but the grief is still there. My heart still breaks, and I would give anything if I could just have one more hug from my Mom. I’ve lost count of the number of times that I’ve thought, “I wish Mom was here.”

I marvel at the number of people who miss her. I realize that it was because of her faith, because she allowed the love of God to shine through. That was the reason why everyone who knew her loved her.

How do you summarize a life in a few short paragraphs? In Mom’s case, I don’t think that even a novel would be enough. If I had to write just one sentence, I think it would be this: Mom was a woman of such deep and personal faith in God, that it touched every area of her life, and truly defined her.

I think that’s how she would want to be remembered, for her faith.

Grace, Grace, God’s Grace…

There have been a few inquiries about how my sister and I did on Mother’s Day this year. I want to thank you all for your prayers on our behalf, they are truly appreciated. Actually, I ran away. The two of us went to see a movie together. (The new Star Trek, GREAT movie by the way…) We had a really good time, and I forgot that it was Mother’s Day for a while.

It’s true; it gets worse before it gets better. I’m waiting to get to the better part. There are still good days and bad. Lately, I’ve had a string of the bad ones. Still, the God of all comfort is there. The stars still shine in the sky. And life goes on. Grace for the day. He gets me through the day. We will tackle tomorrow when it comes.

In a lot of ways, Mom was one of my best friends. I talked to her so much. I visited her all of the time, and we did so much together. We laughed a lot. So many times I’d say, “You’ve got to see what I’ve been knitting,” or, “I found a great recipe for you to try!”

I finally sewed the curtains for my dining room this week. I hung them up and I just love how they look. Mom was with me when I picked out the fabric for them, but I just never got around to making them until now. My first thought was to call her up and ask her to come see them. But I can’t. And I really, really, miss that. I miss her.

There is a big, empty hole in my life. And lately, it’s felt emptier than ever. Grace is all that sustains me. Standing here, utterly helpless, weak and worn out, God steps in, and fills the gap for me. When I can’t go on, His strength shines through. My strength was exhausted long ago. Without grace, I’d be lost, in so many ways…

Conscripted!

The pirate ship “Floating Ship” is seeking crew for conscription. It is commanded by the vertically challenged pirates-who-don’t-do-anything: Captain Quinton, First Mate Arynne and Cabin Boy Camden. They have conscripted Daddy for the position of Second Mate, and Mommy has been conscripted as well, but her duties have yet to be defined as anything other than straightening the Captain’s hat whenever it’s askew. First Mate Arynne assures everyone that they are not bad pirates who will take you away from your home. Any interested parties may apply at the “Living Room Inn”. No skills necessary other than a vivid imagination…

The Right Tool for the Job

What’s that old adage about using the right tool for the job? Whatever it is, they had a point. I’ve taken on yet another unfinished project of Mom’s. It’s a half-done afghan that Mom was knitting for my sister. I’m planning to finish it, maybe in time for her birthday??? (Sis, if you’re reading this, don’t hold me to that!) Anyway, she was knitting in on size 9 needles. I’ve worked my way through a few sizes down to size 6… The variation in our gauge was so bad, that I’ve ripped back all that I had knit on it, and started with the 6 needles. We will see how it goes from here. I kept holding it up, stretching and shaking it, hoping that somehow, magically, our gauge would match perfectly. However, it turns out my knitted strips were a couple of inches wider than Mom’s. Since I picked up knitting a strip where she had left off, it was looking a little, well, wonky…

Trying to finish someone else’s knitting can be quite the challenge. Every knitter is unique, and their work is filled with the idiosyncrasies of their individual technique. So, it will never be a perfect match, but maybe it will be close enough to work. I’ll never be able to fill Mom’s shoes, but maybe I can be a little like her. Maybe I can do a few things that she would have. Maybe now and then I can do something good because it’s the sort of thing that Mom would have done. She may have left some big shoes to fill, but more than that, she left a legacy. I hope that some of who she was is part of me. She taught me so much, both with words and by example.

Right now, I’m going to go back to knitting. Hopefully, I’ll find the right needle size soon, before I have to rip out my work too many more times…

One Step At a Time

I picked out Mother’s Day cards yesterday. I had Munchkin with me, and she helped too. I didn’t think that I’d be able to manage it this year, but I had her with me and that gave me the courage to try. It felt like a small victory. One more step forward. At the same time, it was a really hard thing to do.

I took a walk that afternoon while the kids napped. I walked over to the field, and sat at the top of the hill. I’ve always walked the field whenever I need to clear my head. Things just seem to make more sense over there. I’ve had a lot of conversations with God in that field. Like the rain renews and refreshes the air, a good walk in the field does the same for me.

I’ve started knitting a cardigan for Munchkin. She was sad that we had to pack up her too-small sweaters, so I promised that I’d knit her another. I let her pick out the yarn, and it’s so bright that I might go blind knitting it! She loves it, and even I admit that when I was younger, I would have loved it too! I’ve got the back knit up already, and now I’m starting on the front. I don’t think it will take too long to finish. I’m working on sewing some summer clothes for her as well. She likes some of the fabric in my stash, so I’ve got plenty of options for dresses! I wish that they made more sewing patterns for little boys, but most of them seem to be for girls. Ah well, she is the one who appreciates pretty clothes anyway. The boys don’t seem to care what they wear. Mr. Q does prefer clothes with cars or tractors on them, but really, he’s not too picky! Camo is still too young to voice much of an opinion on the subject. Munchkin certainly is a girly girl. She LOVES dresses and heels and purses!