Author Archives: jennifer

Hiking Half Way

This is a story about hiking half way.  Which also means it’s a story about failure… or is it?  Several months ago I went on a hike I wasn’t prepared for.  I had a partially healed sprained ankle that was still considerably swollen.  My foot wasn’t fitting properly in any shoes so I also had blisters and scabs on my heel.  The trail we chose is steep:  an average grade of 19% (or 11 degrees).

I was worried about my ankle.  I knew it wasn’t ready.  But I stood in my kitchen as my family got ready to leave and felt sick about staying behind.   All my talk with my teenagers about grit floated through my mind so I decided to go.

The mountain was beautiful and covered in sunflowers.  As I hiked I watched the moon rise and the evening light bathe everything in its golden glow.  Everything felt perfect; everything, that is, except my foot.

The steep incline of the trail forced my foot to flex at an angle I hadn’t been able to move it to for weeks.  Good therapy, perhaps, but the pain quickly grew until my ankle was throbbing and I fell behind in my climb.  My kids would stop at lookout points to wait for me and then scramble ahead again on the path as the sun began to set.  I felt embarrassed at my slow pace, and worried about my throbbing ankle.

Eventually I decided to stop half way.  I wanted my family to reach the top before dark and waiting for me to catch up would prevent that.  I also wanted to make it back down safely on an ankle growing more wobbly with each step.  So I sent them along and sat, alone, at a lookout point to watch the sun finish setting.

I felt like a failure.  I only hiked half way up a trail that wasn’t all that long.  As I blinked back hot tears of shame I focused on the sunset.  My halfway hike gave me this view. Had I really failed?  Perhaps.  Had I tried?  Yes.  What would my family think of me?

The darkness continued to gather and I began my descent, gingerly making my way down the trail with my flashlight and the quiet crunch of my footsteps while the sounds of insects grew louder in proportion to the darkness.  Darkness is a funny thing – we tend to think in terms of all dark or all light, but really there are so many degrees of darkness as night falls.  I pondered as I walked.

Then it happened.

Movement in the bushes just a few yards off the trail, up the incline from where I walked.  I stopped in my tracks and held still, straining to see.

There, in the darkness not ten yards away from me, perfectly silhouetted against the dark blue sky, stood a magnificent 5 point buck.  He stopped too, and we both stood in silence and regarded each other.  

I don’t know how many seconds passed.  It was a beautiful moment of perfect stillness.  I breathed as slowly and quietly as possible, not wanting to break the spell.  Then he moved, walked down the incline and crossed the trail ahead of me.  A few seconds  more and he was lost in the now-black face of the mountain.

I stood in awe.  Was my hike a failure?  If I’d made it to the top, I would have missed this moment.  If I’d been hiking with my family we would have been too loud to hear the rustle in the bushes.  Had I been anywhere else on the mountain, I would not have seen that majestic sight.  I considered the possibility that I was exactly where I should have been at that moment.

It felt like a gift, a just-for-me gift from a loving Heavenly Father who had something to teach me about hiking half way.

As this year draws to a close, I look back at my goals and hopes from twelve months ago.  Some I’ve accomplished.  Others were temporarily set aside as life demanded unexpected things from me.  And some of them are like my half way hike.  Better to have climbed and done something than to have done nothing at all.

If you feel like you’re just hiking half way in life right now, take heart.  There are gifts all over the mountain, not just at the top.  And the hikes most worth finishing allow second chances.

All my love as we hike into the new year, even, or especially, for the half way hikes.  May we have eyes to see the gifts God has placed in our path, wherever we are on life’s mountain.

Happy New Year!


Scrappy Friendship Quilt

My Scrappy Friendship Quilt has another story to tell.  Several months ago I sat at a table with some of my best friends, all quilters.  We were laughing and talking as usual, and then the feeling came that I should share a burden I was carrying.  Being vulnerable is scary, even with people we love and trust, but I did it anyway.

My friends were amazing.  They accepted my story with compassion and kindness.

This quilt is made with scraps from all these friends.  I shared how we made it here, and I am increasingly grateful that we did it.  Shared burdens mean more reasons to treasure it.

I quilted my scrappy friendship quilt with straight lines spaced one inch apart.  When I found this colorful corduroy print I decided to try using it on the back.  I’m curious to see how it wears, and if I like the texture over time.  Right now I love it.

Now for a word about my quilt holder.  My second son has long been the guy who holds most of my quilts when I photograph them.  He’s quick to help, doesn’t complain, has strong arms and always makes me laugh.

He also left on a two year mission at the end of October.  One of the last things I did before we drove away to drop him off was to hand him this quilt for a photo.  I needed one more quilt that he’d held for me before he left.  When I handed it to him he laughed, and a tear slipped down his face. My husband took these pictures of him with the quilt, my quilt, made from scraps of my dear friends and sewn by all our hands.

I treasure these photos like I treasure my scrappy friendship quilt.  And I miss my boy but I’m so glad he’s growing up and willing to spend two years serving others and the Lord.  Oh the stories our quilts have to tell!


Fair Isle Quilt

It’s been a long time since I wore a Christmas sweater, but my kids think they’re great.  The Ugly Christmas Sweater trend seems to be everywhere, and still going strong.  And oh, my, are there some truly ugly ones out there!  This Fair Isle quilt is like a Christmas sweater on a quilt.

The Fair Isle quilt pattern is by Lee from Freshly Pieced.  I purchased it five years ago (ouch) when she first released it, and it’s been a start/stop project ever since.  For the most part, it was a fun pattern to make, and not too difficult.

The quilt comes together in rows, and the pattern is well written with clear instructions for cutting and sewing.

At first I resisted just cutting all the pieces, but ended up doing it and keeping them in separate ziploc bags while I worked on it.

Honestly, I stalled on the reindeer.  I wanted to piece them in longer strips instead of all those one inch squares.  It seemed like more work than necessary and my reluctance to just follow the pattern and sew them together in squares is most of the reason why it took me so long to finish this quilt.  When I finally humbled myself and just did it, I found that they came together quickly and easily.

My advice if you make this pattern is this:  just follow the instructions and it will all turn out great.  I have no idea why I needed to learn this lesson again.  If I’d done this at the beginning, we would have been enjoying this quilt for the last few years.

I found a fun fair isle style fabric to use for the backing, and it inspired me to add some blue to my quilt top.  I quilted straight horizontal lines and added solid green binding to complete the quilt.

The Fair Isle quilt is a happy, cheerful quilt that was fun to make in spite of my starts and stops over the years.  I hope we enjoy it for many years to come!



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