Tag Archives: happiness

Hyacinths to feed thy soul

hyacinth1

If of thy mortal goods thou art bereft
And from thy slender store
Two loaves alone to thee are left,
Sell one, and with the dole,
Buy hyacinths to feed thy soul.

– Saadi, Persian poet

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I’m curled up in the corner of my living room couch so my nose is about 2 feet away from these flowers as I type, reluctant to miss out on their heady scent while it’s mine to enjoy.  I still remember the first time I smelled a hyacinth.  It was a bright, vivid pink and I was attracted by the sturdy stalk covered with cheerful flowers.  I leaned in for closer inspection and as the distinct fragrance flooded my senses for the first time, Saadi’s poem swiftly came to mind.  Years later, I find myself responding the same way each time I spot them blooming in the yard.  I close my eyes, breathe deeply and think, “Yes.  To feed thy soul.”

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It is true that my soul needs nourishment as surely as my body does.  I am grateful for simple joys and beauties that accomplish it.  Sometimes the feast comes in fresh flowers.  Lately it’s also come in sunsets, new appreciation for the nearby mountain range, the curve of my daughter’s cheek, the chirping of birds, prayer, children’s picture books, color. I realize it’s all built into life beautifully by my Heavenly Father who perfectly understands the need – a feast there for the taking if I have eyes to see.  Which reminds me of another favorite verse…

Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common brush afire with God,
But only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round and pluck blackberries.

– Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Wishing you a day that feeds your soul in simple, wholesome ways, and eyes to see all that God is doing in your life.

Jennifer

 

So Many Things

tulip

I’m loving so many things lately.  Spring does that to most of us, I believe.  The light in the mornings when we leave for school, the tulips in my yard.  It’s that time when everything happens quickly.   All of a sudden the trees have leaves, the grass is green, the weeds are everywhere (in my yard, at least) and it seems appropriate, for that’s what happens inside our house as well.  It’s the season when you don’t want to blink because you’ll miss something wonderful!  The world of nature and the growth of my children seem to be pacing each other, transforming into newer versions of themselves so quickly its like I’m watching a time lapse video.  Just as there are blooms today where I saw only stalks yesterday, so also freckles appear on noses and new words show up in vocabularies.  In a few short, frantic weeks we’ll bid farewell to this year’s school teachers and my children will essentially be pronounced one year older.  I look around me and see that we’re all experiencing age and stage appropriate growth, opportunities and challenges.  Who they’re becoming is such a discovery and yet they’re more “them” every day.  I love trying to abandon myself to the joy of it, but quiet moments occasionally bring a stabbing sense of loss.   Sometimes “time” feels so unnatural.

Today has been much quieter than usual.  An over-booked week and family movie night last night left us all tired.  Even the younger ones slept in this morning,  a rare thing, and also a reminder that we’re moving into a new stage as a family.   My oldest son, who now stands six feet tall and is heavier than his Dad, is getting close to his 17th birthday.  I looked at him today, on the other end of the church pew, and marveled again that someone so big could be my child.  How strange it seems and yet how my heart swells with love as I watch him bump into unexpected corners of the adult life he’s fast approaching and do his best to deal with it.  My oldest daughter also seems so grown.  This afternoon I heard her confidently and decisively discuss her academic plans for high school and beyond with another adult and for a moment she took my breath away.  They will be gone so soon.  On the other end of the family I’m treasuring every second with my youngest daughter, holding her precious face between my hands more often as we talk to one another.  She’s the last one with traces of chubby fingers and round cheeks.  I look at my youngest son, eight years old last month, and want to jump for joy.  Kindergarten and first grade were so hard for him, as he simply couldn’t read the words on the page in front of him.  We found an uncommon vision problem, got glasses, and in the last 8 months he’s improved his reading by more than 60 words per minute, now testing at the expected level for exiting 2nd grade.  His teachers and I can’t stop talking about it, smiling about it, marveling at him.  I look at that boy and see a miracle and think that for this blessing alone I’m forever indebted to the Lord.   Like he’s been rescued.  Like I’ve been rescued.  Which we have.   Last week I was helping in the classroom with my six year old when it was her turn to be the song leader.  I looked through her school papers and saw the change in her handwriting – straight, confident, neat.  She’ll be in first grade next year and it makes me want to cry.  I TRULY never thought I would be HERE.  I thought I’d have little ones at home forever, and now I’m a few months away from a couple of hours of quiet each day.  It scares me a little.

As I type this, the middle group runs around upstairs instead of getting ready for bed while our youngest sits on Dad’s lap to listen to Winnie the Pooh stories.  The oldest two wandered into the room and stayed to listen, and are now laughing hysterically at the dry humor of A. A. Milne.  I don’t want tomorrow to come.  I wish I could freeze this moment and keep us all here, safe and happy, a little longer.

The middle ones are keeping me grounded.  Somehow watching all of them makes me feel like things will turn out, and like my heart might even make it out in one piece.  My thirteen year old son suddenly gets up from the dinner table and does the dishes at night without being asked, even volunteering to do them alone sometimes.  He’s made choices lately that make me proud and I’m excited to see the young man he will become.  My nine and eleven year old daughters get prettier every day.  I love that they let me dry their hair in the mornings; I watch them get taller as it gets longer.  They are all so much fun right now, quick to laugh and run and play, daily creating new worlds of imagination to inhabit together.   Oh, how I love the “together” they’ve created for themselves.  It is one of my greatest joys.  I don’t know how I’d handle the bittersweet of the oldest and youngest ones without the safety of the middle group right now.  They’re my anchor.

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Our days are full of end-of-year reports, shots, registration for next year’s everything, soccer games, book reports, school programs, working out the summer calendar.  I forgot some things this week and felt foolish; I remembered so much.  The frequency with which my eyes fill with tears sometimes alarms me yet I’m grateful to feel alive and sensitive.

In the past six weeks I’ve felt a yearning for home that is strong.  It’s not a yearning for anything I have here on earth, and not homesickness, but the yearning of a little girl who wants to run home for a quick hug.  It washes over me unexpectedly, as if to remind me of my true identity and purpose as a daughter of God.  I miss Him.  It’s nice to be reminded that he misses me too, and understands that even as I try to oversee the journey of my children, I’m still experiencing my own, complete with things I’ve never faced before.  He understands and loves me anyway, or perhaps, because.

Life is good.  Moving at lightning speed, but good.
Jennifer

Reminisce: Scrappy Hunter’s Star Quilt Top

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Phew!  It seems like I haven’t finished much this year in the quilting category but I have a finished quilt top!  This one makes me happy and I hope you’ll indulge a bit of rambling as I share the reasons why.  Back in 2011 I finished a traditional Hunter’s Star quilt, red and white, which has been snuggled in, spilled on, stained and loved and then used some more.

huter's star quilt close

I love this quilt, largely for it’s bold design but also because we’ve loved it so much.  Interestingly, I also get new comments on that blog post all the time, and as I was pondering that a few months ago I suddenly saw the design with new eyes.  I pictured a scrappy, colorful version, larger than my original quilt and with a small print instead of a solid for the contrasting background.

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Bonnie Christine’s first fabric collection, Reminisce, was the perfect fit.  I love the fabrics in this line.  I sketched, calculated and began to cut, but other pressures with the holiday season came along and I set it aside.  I was pulling it out to start sewing in February when I had the opportunity to participate in the Sweet as Honey Blog Tour for Bonnie’s new Sweet as Honey collection.   My first idea for the blog tour was a Hunter’s Star pillow,  which I made by adjusting my measurements yet again and using a natural linen with the fabric she sent me.  I especially loved how the hand quilting turned out:

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As you can read in my post, looking at those little beehives generated another idea with Bonnie’s fabric which came to life in my Hexagon Beehive Mini Quilt:

hexibeehiveminiquilt2

When the blog tour was over, I returned to my idea of a scrappy Hunter’s star quilt and got to work.  Here is my finished quilt top:

**edited to add:  Because this quilt top uses 10 inch sqaures and is perfect for a layer cake, I decided to post a tutorial.  You can find it here.

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The eight pointed star pattern doesn’t emerge as readily in this version, but still I love it.  I love the tiny black polka dots, love the colors and patterns, loved hanging it from my cherry tree that’s suddenly covered in blossoms.

scrappyhunterstar

This quilt top also reminds me of a beautiful principle taught by Twyla Tharp in her book, The Creative Habit. I read it a few years ago and one of the parts I loved most was the chapter about scratching for ideas.  What stuck with me was her discussion of big and small ideas.  She writes about big ideas as things that often come to us when we’re wanting to catch people’s attention, make lots of money, or make a name for ourselves.  They are often difficult to execute and can become all-consuming.  On the other hand, small ideas may be less significant but are often things that keep generating more ideas.  They feed creativity.  Sometimes the small ideas end up being best.   I guess the biggest reason this quilt top makes me happy is because for me, it’s a celebration of small ideas.  I get ideas all the time and some are better than others.  Some of them take shape and others seem to fight me.  Some of  them I don’t have time for while others send me down an unexpected path.  This little idea of re-thinking my picture of a hunter’s star quilt block has been a small idea that generated more ideas, more opportunities, and especially more joy in creating.  I’m sure someone, somewhere, has already done this with this block, but I’ve never seen it.  I certainly didn’t create the hunter’s star quilt block, but I’ve loved following the trail of my own vision, bringing to life something I have only seen in my mind’s eye.  This is something we quilters do all the time, interpreting patterns with our own colors, variations and twists.  It’s one of the things I love most about the quilting community – watching how we all inspire each other and are in turn inspired, with more creative outcomes than we can count.  Little ideas generate beautiful things, and the more we do it the easier the process becomes.

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When I look at this quilt top, I see a physical reminder of the journey of creativity that comes through small ideas.  That journey brings me joy and is an experience I hope will always be part of my life in some way or another.

I hope it’s part of yours, too.
Thanks for visiting!
Jennifer

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