Author Archives: jennifer

The Speech I Just Gave to Myself on Mother’s Day

If I could have one wish each May, it would be to gather every woman I know for a beautiful Mother’s day luncheon.  We would visit and eat and laugh and be nourished by good food and better conversation.

And if I could have a few minutes to speak, I would say this:

Each of us has a story.  It’s a powerful story, because it’s the only story just like it in all the world – in all the history of the world, to be exact.  There has never been, and there never will be, another life story exactly like yours.

Collectively our stories explain the perpetuation of the human race.  It is the story of motherhood, from the sweet smell of a newborn to the runny-nosed toddler who marks your pants each day like a growth chart with dirty hands and face.  It continues through the delightful years of childhood and into the uncharted realm of teenagers.  It is the story of daughters looking to their mothers as they step into adulthood, marriage, and motherhood themselves.

It is the story of women who would do anything to be a mother, yet are denied their dearest dream.  The story of women who, for many reasons, choose not to have children.  The story of women who nurse, teach and care for the children of others.  Women who, because of the choices of one party or another, don’t know where their children are, or perhaps even who their children are.  Women who feel like they have no idea what they’re doing.  Women parenting alone.  Women still caring for the basic needs of children who were born decades ago.  Women who buried their child and have wondered ever since, “who am I now?”  Women who grieve for mothers who are no longer here.

The scenarios are as many as we are.  All of them matter.  Each one is part of this collective story of women doing hard things.  Some of us love Mother’s Day; some of us hide from it.  For some, it is salt in a very deep wound.  And for many of us, it’s a reminder that we don’t measure up (to some false standard of perfect mothering).

Today I  say this:

How you tell your story matters.  How you receive another’s story matters.  What you do with these stories, matters.

It matters how we treat people, and how we treat ourselves.  It matters that we forgive.  It matters that we repent.  It matters that we learn.  It matters that we find people to serve.  That we seek truth.  That we understand who we are as daughters of God.  It matters that we reflect light.  That we show up, do good, and overcome.

I have a piece of art that hangs on the wall above my bathroom scale.  That scale and I are not friends; it represents failure to me in a big way.  But I get on the scale anyway because I’m trying to show up, and as I do it I lift my eyes to the message on my wall.  It says, “You are enough.”

Not perfect.  Enough.  And it’s true.  You are enough for Jesus Christ to have offered himself in your place.  Because of the great and merciful plan of happiness, what He did is enough.  You are good enough!

Here is my Mother’s day challenge (I’m preaching to my own heart): Let’s shake off the things that make us shrink instead of stand boldly.  Let’s dismiss Mother’s day as merely a headcount of our children and a recitation of their accomplishments, or as a symbol of what we’re not, and let’s make it about light.  Let’s stand up and stand together and let’s be a light, a light that shines in darkness, a light that reflects the Light of the World, the Light which can never be darkened.

We can do this.  After all, it’s our day, isn’t it?

Right now I wish I could hug you and say, “Thank you for the light you shine into this world.  WE NEED IT.  What will you do to make it brighter?”

All my love,
Jennifer

Collection Quilt: a quilt top finished

The Collection quilt.  What an interesting name! Collecting is the action or process of gathering something.  My quilt top is finished, and stepping back to look at it makes me smile.  I see fabrics gathered over time into my stash now working together in the blocks and also think of life experiences that came while I was stitching them.  In particular, I remember a day when collecting grew in meaning for me.

Collection quilt top

It had been another busy week and I was discouraged.  Would I ever catch up?  Could I please have a do-over?  I love my children dearly and want them to succeed.  Yet it seemed that everywhere I looked I saw parents doing something better than I did, something I’d never even thought of, and I would never be enough.  The thought was heavy.

completed collection quilt top

Then I heard a voice so clearly in my mind that there was no mistaking it.  It simply said this:  “In all the history of the world, there has never been, and will never be, another family exactly like yours.  STOP LOOKING AROUND!  I know what I want your family to be like.  LOOK UP, and let me show you.”

collection quilt, finished quilt top

Such a sermon in those brief sentences!

It invited me to look again at the unique group of people I call my family, and see with new eyes the experiences, lessons, and gifts we’re collecting together.  It was beautiful to look and really see.  I felt new love and gratitude for where we are today.

quilt top on ladder

Quilting reinforces this truth for me.  We each bring something unique to our projects, and regardless of skill, size of stash or fabric budget, time constraints, and design style, we stitch a piece of ourselves into our quilts.  I’m learning in my parenting and my sewing to stop looking around and instead look up.  In doing so, life (and quilting) becomes more beautiful, instructive, nurturing, and joyful.

collection quilt with borders added

The Collection quilt pattern is by Carolyn Friedlander.  I added borders to make it larger.  You can see progress pictures of my sections here, here and here.

Thank you so much for visiting.  I hope you’re looking up today!

Jennifer

 

The Gentle Art of Quilting Book Review + Till We Meet Quilt Top

Have you ever bought a book because you loved the cover?  That’s why I bought The Gentle Art of Quilt-Making.  Something about the striking image of a dramatic quilt paired with white flower vases and the words “the gentle art of quilt-making” grabbed me and I didn’t resist.  Is quilt making a gentle art?  And why was it that such a simple quilt riveted my attention?  I purchased the book.

The Gentlel Art of Quilt-Making by Jane Brocket

Fast forward two weeks.  There I stood in the airport, busy travelers coming and going but I simply stood, tears on my cheeks, my view of her shrinking as she made her way through the snaking line at the security gate.  How?  How do you do it?  How do you send your child to another country for 18 months?  How was I going to live without her stories, her laughter, her calls & texts, her presence for so long?

Our oldest daughter is off on one of the greatest adventures she will ever have, serving for 18 months as a missionary for the LDS Church in Paraguay.

I know heartbreak harder than this, and her leaving was a good thing!  But this goodbye undid me deep inside.  I stood there reminding myself that mothers have done this for thousands of years, that she will be fine, that the months will fly by.  But for a few minutes it didn’t matter that I stood at the end of a long line of generations to know this kind of bittersweet; it was just me holding my breath with all the raw, fresh pain of it, experiencing something new.

beginning of Till We Meet quilt top

So we watched until we couldn’t see her anymore, and my heart lurched at the idea of driving away while she was still somewhere in the airport. We made our way to the exit where that sixth sense of a parent told me that someone was missing.  Without thinking, I looked around to see who wasn’t with us and it hit me – it was her.  Fresh tears pricked at my eyes and I said to my husband, “I guess it’s time to learn to count to seven instead of eight.”  He cleared his throat and turned away to blink hard.

The nine of us drove home in the rain, with tears and sniffles coming here and there in the van.  I watched the water run down the window and pondered what it will be like to have a piece of my heart living on another continent.  The kids and I spent the day quietly at home, just being together.

quilt top on ladder

Then I noticed Jane Brocket’s book again, and thought, “I really need something gentle right now.”  I flipped to the pattern for the cover quilt (she calls it Russian shawl) and decided to begin.  I started with a lovely floral that caught my eye, and added a couple of solids.  And raindrop/teardrop fabric.  That was a must!  I began as the pattern suggested, with an 18.5″ square for my center, and began adding borders, alternating narrow solids with wider prints.  I didn’t follow the pattern exactly, but that’s the fun thing about the book.  The patterns aren’t really so exact, because they’re meant to encourage you to find inspiration in your world and create your own quilt.  This book would be a great way to coax yourself out of always following someone’s pattern and into designing simple quilts that capture your own inspiration.  My quilt top progressed largely as expected until I got to that second narrow green border.

Till We Meet quilt top - Hopeful Homemaker

I’d been sewing in sadness until that point, but suddenly my eyes rested on the green ombre fabric and everything inside of me went very still.  It reminded me of being at the beach, of standing at the water’s edge and looking out to sea.  It reminded me of all the times I’ve stood in that place and let the sight of the ocean wash away my worries and sadness, and bring comfort and peace with the tide.  I looked at that fabric and remembered that Emmeline was never mine; she was sent to us on loan, and now she’s off on a journey that will bring her back more HER than she’s ever been.  It’s  a journey I took too, many years ago, although I didn’t go so far.  But it’s a journey I want her to take, a journey that will change us all for the better.  I looked at that fabric and felt all of those feelings, and suddenly my sadness was gone.

till we meet quilt top by hopeful homemaker

So I sewed that ombre fabric to the quilt, not worried that the colors weren’t a perfect match.  I added it because it was part of the gentle art of healing my heart through quilt-making.  It was part of the story.  I had planned to call the quilt a farewell quilt, but suddenly the name changed.  “Till we meet” was the story.  The strips on the right side of the quilt came together as I listened to tributes to a great man and humble leader, Thomas S. Monson, who had recently passed away.  And then the quilt was done and all the sadness drained and only peace was left.

blue quilt top

Of the quilts in her book, Jane writes, “My quilts are most definitely not heirloom quilts, but are instead practical quilts that I have enjoyed making and truly like, quilts that are warm, useful, visually pleasing and packed with thoughts and associations.  This is private, personal quilt-making as an absorbing creative pastime with lovely results, rather than quilt-making for show or competition. . . . . You may find… that every quilt tells a story, that you can do it, that basic patterns can be supremely clever (which is why they have been around for so long), that making lovely quilts is not difficult, and that the results will be something of which you can be justifiably proud.”

Till We Meet - simple quilt top by Hopeful Homemaker

My quilt top doesn’t look much like the Russian Shawl quilt it was patterned after, but it tells the story of that day and reminded me that there is, indeed, a gentle art of quilt-making that i want to experience more often.  I am grateful to have felt it with this project and feel eager to return to this book for more creative exploration.

And that sad January day?  It was quickly swept away by all the blessings, all the good days, great emails, and tremendous growth for our daughter.  She’s thriving in Paraguay and we couldn’t be happier!

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