Category: journal

A Heritage

My home growing up was filled with handmade items. We had quilts laying around that my grandmother had made. Every year my aunt sent us pillowcases that she had embroidered Aunt Martha’s designs on. My mother sewed my clothes on and off for years while I was younger. And up until she passed away, my grandmother Ida would come stay with us and I don’t think we had a visit where she wasn’t making things while she was visiting.

When I went to visit extended family, their homes too were filled with the same sorts of things. My grandmother’s home in Oregon was overflowing with things that she had made or other family members had made. I remember the back bedroom with this tiny little bed perfect for my 8 year old self. Overflowing from it were little handmade dolls and stuffed animals and other crazy creatures. The bedding, from the pillowcase to the bedcovers, were made by the hands of those that surrounded me in that house. But in those memories I don’t honestly remember my mom or grandmother sitting much with me in an organized fashion and sewing. Maybe I didn’t have any interest at the time. I honestly can’t remember. But I do know that this life surrounded by handmade things was very natural.

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Fast forward to today and I’m still surrounded by things that either I’ve made or things passed down to me and to my children. My daughter pulled out my old life size Annie doll – complete with all her matching clothes from the 1980’s movie. I sat there thinking about this doll and the connection that she is to a woman that I dearly miss. And I thought about this home that we’ve made for our children complete with a mix of things handmade and store bought.

I wonder at what point handmade things became this Pinterest thing and not merely a natural thing in our homes? At what point did life transition from making things as a fact of life to making things as a hobby or to be fashionable? When I was growing up it was not unheard of to have toys that your grandparents or even parents had made. It was becoming a little odd, but definitely not something that we felt like we needed to write up a tutorial for to share with the world. We’ve lost such a connection to making things as necessity that the necessity has become that we make a tutorial or a pattern or teach a lesson or find a class.

I’m thankful for this connection that I have to my past generations. And I’m thankful that making in our house has become a little more natural of a thing. Because that’s what making is. It’s not a skill that someone possesses and someone else doesn’t. It’s something that all of us are able to do. We are all makers and designers. Whether we make things with metal, fabrics or food.

A New Year

O Lord,
Length of days does not profit me except the days are passed in thy presence, in thy service, to thy glory.
Give me a grace that precedes, follows, guides, sustains, sanctifies, aids every hour, that I may not be one moment apart from thee,
but rely on thy Spirit to supply every thought,
speak in every word,
direct every step,
prosper every work,
build up every mote o faith,
and give me a desire to show forth thy praise, testify thy love, advance thy kingdom.
I launch my bark on the unknown waters of this year, with thee, O Father, as my harbour,
thee, O Son at my helm,
thee, O Holy Spirit, filling my sails.
Guide me to heaven with my loins girt, my lamp burning, my ear open to thy calls, my heart full of love, my soul free.
Give me thy grace to sanctify me, thy comforts to cheer,
thy wisdom to teach, thy right hand to guide,
thy counsel to instruct, thy law to judge,
thy presence to stabilize.
May thy fear by my awe,
thy triumphs my joy.

~ from The Valley of Vision

**photo credit Will Davis

Journal: Edenic Moments

I heard a word yesterday in a podcast: “Edenic”. It distracted me so much that I couldn’t really focus for the rest of the time listening.

Edenic relates to those moments in our lives that are just perfect. Where you are sitting in a moment of sincere peace and happiness. We all have those moments in our lives, where you feel in essence that you are fulfilling that original calling; that you are sitting in the midst of Eden.

In the beginning, when God created the world and the Garden and put people in it; it was perfection. There was a comfort and peace and a central core of happiness that they were doing and being exactly what God had created them to be. But after the Fall, that central core was crushed and we would spend the rest of our lives struggling to find that sense of contentment again. In this life, living east of Eden, we are all constantly striving to be happy again.

This podcast reminded me that God gives us those moments where we get a taste of what it was like – what it is supposed to be like. An Edenic moment.

Not long after we moved into our current house, I was on my way home after walking both my children to school. I came walking down the sidewalk on our street and looking down I saw all the trees with their leaves glowing in their Fall splendor. Yellows, reds, greens just glowing. The sky was a clear, crisp blue. The park spread out over to my right, this house standing in front of me, that was everything we had wanted for so long, was ours and I was just amazed. It was a true Edenic moment.

I know that I’ve felt that way throughout my life – getting married, the birth of my children, sitting on the couch with friends sharing memories. All these moments are there to point us back to Him. As a reminder that there is redemption coming. Just like in those tiny moments that point us back to that person we are meant to be, God uses these to remind us that while we aren’t there yet, we will be.

Christmas is a time to remember that incarnation. That one moment of perfection with God came down. He came down into dirty and noisy and into a world that was crushing under the weight of it’s sin. But into that, He came. To deliver us and remind us that perfection is coming again. We will all be what he has given us glimpses of.

Year in Review 2016

2016 was a year. I can’t say it was the worst year, which many people are saying about 2016. But I can say that it was a continuation of some of the hardness that 2015 had brought into my life. In many ways 2016 seemed like a gap year for me – an in between time where I really sort of woke up and started processing some stuff. It’s been a year where I have really had to step back and look at each decision and choice I make and figure out how it impacts me and our family, instead of just jumping ahead. It was a year where I did step back on my shop and really curbed my spending when it came to product development. There were (and are) so many things I would love to do, but for us financially right now I’ve realized I can’t step out and continue to do that.

It was a year that did see me finally stepping out to try and follow the dream of opening a store front. For years I had talked about opening a sewing shop and this spring I actually moved forward on that. I had prayed all along that God would very obviously open and close doors and I knew that no matter what happened I just had to see it through. I met with a small business advisor and met with bankers and in the end realized that I had followed that dream as far as I could take it. For the first time setting that dream aside was easy because I had followed it as far as I could take it. It was clearly a closed door and months later I’m so thankful. I learned so much in the process about business, about where I want to go creatively and how our life really works.

It was the first holiday season where I honestly wasn’t slammed and I did that on purpose. I stopped taking custom embroidery orders really early on and even though I did participate in a holiday market, it was the most relaxing holiday market prep I’ve ever done. I made stuff that I loved to make and it made such a huge difference.

I started a few projects this year that I’m really hoping to jump on right away after the holidays. First up I want to get back to my stumpwork projects. I miss this creative stitching so much and I’ve got so many ideas and ways I want to continue with my bugs and bugs in jars series. I also want to finally go forward with designing a pattern that comes with video links. I’m hoping to get going on this early in 2017 with my flower garden hoop I stitched back in the Fall. If there’s any goal I have for my shop in 2017, it’s to offer more embroidery patterns, more how-tos that go along with those patterns and oh how I would love to learn how to screen print so that I can print my own patterns and finally start offering kits again.

I am not sure where I’m heading with custom embroidery in 2017. For now, all of it will be on hold until I really get a clear picture of where I want to go. That includes shoes. I’ve often wondered how much longer the shoe thing can keep going. It seemed so much like a trend and we all know how trends go. I kind of want to go out on a high note and stop on my own terms. I’m also not sure where I’m going with teaching sewing either. Both of these things have played such a huge role in my life for the past few years and it’s weird to say I’m going to stop doing them. But there’s a part of me that thinks that for now, those chapters might be closed for a while so that I can focus on some other things.

 

One of my greatest achievements this year was being published! I was super excited to have a project in the Sew it All magazine. It was crazy to see my stuff actually on the shelf in bookstores. Maybe one day I’ll have an actual book or something! I’ve got some new things coming my way in 2017 that I’m excited about and can’t wait to share as the details get more and more worked out.

 

Probably my biggest joy in 2017 has been being able to continue homeschooling. We ended our last week of school with a Christmas Poetry Teatime with friends and as I sat around the table and saw this amazing community of friends that God has gifted my daughter and myself with I am humbled. We’ve joined a community of like minded schoolers and I couldn’t be more overjoyed at how God is continuing to grow that. We’ve got plans for 2017 that I’m hoping come to fruition and every day I’m grateful that I’m able to stay home.

One of my biggest goals in 2017 is to start writing again. I’m processing through in my mind some ways to clear some of the clutter in my head so that I can start putting some words to paper (or type). I want to spend more time actually reading books and not just reading snippets and blog posts. And I want to finally move forward on this book I’ve got floating around in my head. I read an essay this week by CS Lewis about writing for children and it was the biggest encouragement to me. He said something along the lines that his stories always came from pictures in his head. He would see all these scenes and ideas all jumbled up in his head and that is where his stories came from. As he started writing he would just have to fill in the blanks in between the pictures. Now, I’m never going to be the next CS Lewis, but for someone who has had these pictures floating around her head so vividly for years it was the kick in the pants to finally start penning them down.

Journal: Changing a Life

I was sitting at the table cruising social media and this question hit me: how do you change a life without actually changing anything? What I mean is, when you are stuck, like super stuck in a funk and there really appears to be no way out, how do you change?

I’m a huge runner – but not the kind of runner in Nike’s – more of the mental and emotional type. When the going gets tough, all I want to do is figure out how to get going. Finances are rough, so I sit for hours trying to figure out how to make a job fit into my life right now. The house is overwhelming with projects, so I sit and stare at realtor.com and try to imagine moving. My children have too much crap, so I sit and peruse Waldorf, Charlotte Mason and other natural-crunchy-beautiful people blogs and dream of what my life could look like if we had less stuff.

But none of these things will ever change in that dramatic of a way. My pastor told me once that I keep wanting this really super big change to happen, but honestly what I need is just to rest in the little things. I wanted to yell at him (and actually it was via an email so in my head I sort of was) that I am tired of little rescues, I am tired of the bit by bit – I need something BIG to happen.

But it isn’t. going. to. happen.

No lottery is coming to my rescue. My house isn’t going to clean itself out without me. My children aren’t going to ever have less crap. None of these things is going to go zap! and change.

So what do you do? How do you change a life step by step when you are so crazy burned out of the steps. I mean honestly, if my life were a stair climbing machine I would have thighs bigger than a crossfit chick!

I guess you just keep going.

Day by day. And only day by day.

And I try to focus on what’s in front of me. And only what’s in front of me.

And of course my pastor is right – it is all the little things.

In the meantime I just have to take them each one by one (and maybe pretend I’m building the most amazing ice cream cone ever)