My Bleeding Hearts

I remember it well, the wondering if I would ever feel happy again.  Ever smile a genuine smile.  Wondering if the heartbreak that threatened to pull me apart would ever quiet to a distant ache.

It was May.  So busy and so awful.  I carried a pain that made me pace circles around my house unless there was something needing immediate attention.  My only coherent thoughts came in prayer.  I bought a number 7 to put on my kitchen counter, a reminder of the people who needed me to hold it together somehow.

On a walk to visit a neighbor, I noticed bleeding hearts in bloom.  I’ve always loved them, but this was different.  It felt like the only thing in the world that might understand me. This achingly beautiful, heart shaped flower with a teardrop falling from it.  It was everything I couldn’t say aloud.  So I drove to the local nursery, found one, bought it… and nurtured it carefully all summer in it’s pot.

At the end of the season, too overwhelmed to find a proper spot for it but too attached to get rid of it, I dug a hole in the first spot I thought of in my yard.  A spot where I’d tried  other perennials over the years.  A spot where NOTHING had ever grown back before.  That’s why it was bare.  Not a good spot of dirt, apparently.  But I planted it anyway because it was all I could manage that day and I couldn’t bear to throw it away.

Imagine my surprise the following spring when it came back.

And every year since.

It stops me in my tracks every time:  it’s so much more than bleeding hearts.  It’s my heartbreak, growing in the worst soil, and thriving.

Today, years later, I sit near them just to be there, to look and admire, and remember.  I remember those days, days made harder by knowing we were only at the beginning of a road I desperately wanted to avoid.  And it has been long and hard, sometimes excruciatingly so.  I don’t know where the road ends, or if it ever will during my life.  I know so much more, and so much less, than I did then.  What a journey!

Today, here is what I know:  God knows us and is aware of us.  He gives us bad soil sometimes, and it’s up to us to plant what we’ve got and press forward.  To show up and keep moving and do our best to love.  Even if we’re doing it with broken, bleeding hearts.  And somehow, He will find a way to let us know He’s still there.  Somehow the sharp pain settles to a dull ache, and the day eventually comes that we smile and laugh for real.

And the bleeding hearts come back again:  stronger, more beautiful.  A witness.

I’ll never take it for granted.  Truly, all things testify of Him.

A Return, at Last!

The days are getting longer as the mercury inches slowly up, up, up on the thermometer.  An observant walk reveals a million little things bursting from the soil while the cold wind still bites and turns my nose red.  But it’s coming!  This change of season is so beautiful and full of promise.

It’s full of promise inside, too.  One quilt awaits binding – a new design!  Another, dear to my heart, lies in strips awaiting the next phase of piecing.  A third, freshly bound, needs  photographs and a label, and being loved into true ownership by my family.  My sketchbook lies open with fresh ideas and renewed interest.  So inside, like outside, there is a return, at last!

I did not mean to step away and neglect this space for so long.  It wasn’t a decision; more like an unfolding.  Someone hacked my site, blasting posts into pieces and creating problems everywhere (no sensitive information was there to steal, thankfully, just a big mess left for us to work through!).  Countless hours later, and with consequences we’re still working through, here we are again, mostly – I hope – put back together. (Please be patient while I keep working through old posts to check for errors.)

 

Meanwhile, life marches on.  Two of our children were married in the last six months, one returned home from Guam after an 18 month mission; another left for New York on a mission, and a son is now graduating from high school and preparing to leave as well.  A million changes and meaningful experiences, challenges, good times, and stretching characterize this season.  But through all of it, something was missing.

There always is, when I’m not actively creating.  It’s one of a few “extra” things that add a layer of sweetness and fulfillment to my life, so tangible that they don’t seem “extra” at all.  The pressures of immediate concerns crowd them out; it’s an unfortunate cycle I’ve lived repeatedly, and one I always hope to eliminate.  Here is my question:  what do you do when you’ve wandered too far from creativity?  How do you find your way back?

 

So I’m beginning again.  A return, at last!  A little more sewing, a little more imagining, a little more color, a little more everything creative.  It feels good to be here!

-Jennifer

Arise in Nightshade Deja Vu

August is winding down, and autumn is just around the corner.  Before we know it, kids will be trick-or-treating and the holidays upon us.  I’ve spent the summer just trying to keep up with the day’s needs, but somewhere in the crazy I managed one fun project:

Arise
in Nightshade Deja Vu.  A Halloween-themed quilt finished in August?  That’s a first for me!  But it was so much fun to dive right in and use the just-released Tula Pink Nightshade Deja Vu fabric.

In fact, I’m teaching this pattern at The Quilted Beehive in September, and they also have Nightshade kits available!

If you take the class, the pattern is included in your tuition.  So here she is, my Arise quilt for this gorgeous collection:

The Nightshade Deja vu collection consists of 8 different prints, and the color scheme is narrower than the usual Tula Pink spectrum.  To make this Arise quilt shine, I pulled in more color through other Tula Pink fabrics.  Namely, her neon dots, a tiny dot, two solids and the neon stripe in Spirit.  I pulled all these colors from the Nightshade prints, especially the Coven and large floral prints.

Can you see a bit of the quilting here?  I’m excited about that part!  I was also happy to feature both sizes of the coven print.

For my quilt back I used all my extra fabric.  I sewed it into strips before adding more yardage.

Pieced quilt backs are fun and interesting.  This one came together quickly and I’m very happy with it.

Personally, I’m not the biggest fan of Halloween.  This quilt, however, makes me like it more.  I love a slightly non-traditional take on a holiday.  These cute sisters are clever and fun to look at, and the extra color makes me smile.

If you look closely, you can see the edge to edge quilting design is a spiderweb with flowers in it.  My friend Melissa of Sew Shabby Quilting drew this for me, and I love how it turned out!  It feels like I have the perfect quilting design for this fabric.

I continued using the neon tent stripe for my binding.  It’s what I’d originally planned to do with my Curiouser and Curiouser version , but I used the dark green instead.  In fact, it’s kind of fun to see how slight fabric and color changes make the same quilt pattern look so different.  This Arise in Nightshade Deja vu is my third Arise quilt.  The other, scrappy version, is here .  I’m having lots of fun with this one!

If you live in Utah, this quilt is currently hanging in The Quilted Beehive prior to my class.  It’s always fun to see quilts in person!  I’m excited to get it home for my family to enjoy.  This pattern is simple but really fun to make.  A great way to play with color, too!

As I type this, rain is pouring down outside.  It makes me want to sew.  I hope you’re doing something creative today!

1 2 3 497