And more jackets!

Before Christmas I put up a few pictures of the first two quilted jackets I made for our oldest grandgirls. It was a rush to the finish, but I did complete the last two just in time to turn my sewing room back into a bedroom before the onslaught of children, grands, and dogs arrived.

Here's the one I made for Jenny, our little red-headed orange lover:




Toddler Eliza adores animals of all kinds. So this is what I designed for her:



Both front panels are big-stitch quilted, which goes oh so fast! Eliza's animals are paper pieced. Here's one up-close:



Phew! I think I'm done with quilted jackets for a while. Maybe until we have some more little people join the family?

Hitherto

"Hitherto hath the Lord helped us."  

         - I Samuel 7:12


Christmas Eve hike
 Front row: Faith with Eliza, Annie, Amanda, Kara (Bunter), Paul.
Back row: Collin, Laurel, Ben VW, Kristen, Ben, me, Tim, Andrew with Jenny,
We're missing Peter, Esther, and Jon.


As we put a wrap on 2016, this verse is the refrain of my heart. As all years, this one has included plenty of joys mixed with some trials and sorrows. On balance, this year has had more joys than difficulties, but even in years that the opposite is true, this verse is every bit as true.

Here are some of the ways the Lord has helped us in the past year.


Kristen and Ben VW
Joy and Love

At the start of the year, neither Andrew nor Kristen had yet met the ones they would give their hearts to, but now at the end of this year they stand on the brink of marriage to these two future spouses. How we give thanks for Esther and Ben, who love the Lord, the church, and Andrew (Esther) and Kristen (Ben)!

Andrew and Esther










Changes, changes

Jonathan graduated from IU and took a job as a software developer with Amazon in Seattle in May. He's setting in there, but was able to spend Thanksgiving week with us in Indiana, a time for which we are thankful.


We sent another daughter off to Purdue this fall, and here again we have so much to be thankful for. The Lord has given Amanda and Faith a wonderful, solid church family in Lafayette, and they are both growing and having a place to serve others. Both are enjoying their studies and grateful for the opportunity to be at Purdue.




Travels, travels, and more travels

Snow in March in Kentucky!
We've been on the move this year more than usual. In April, Tim and I and the youngest two boys spent a weekend in Red River Gorge.














In July we took the four youngest offspring to North Carolina for a wonderful time white water rafting on the Nantahala River and hiking in the Smokies.
A screaming good time!

Andrew and Jenny  during our camping trip
August found our clan gathering at Chain O'Lakes Stare Park in northern Indiana for a group camping weekend. We're hoping to make this an annual event.





And in September. Kristen and I made the trip of a lifetime as we spent a week exploring the Andes Mountains in Peru. We fell in love with the Peruvian people (who didn't mind that we spoke only a smattering of Spanish), and we were thrilled to be able to mountain bike from 14000 ft. to 9000 ft., hike around Macchu Pichu, attend church in a little village, and buy textiles just about everywhere we went.


An Ever Elastic Household Size

Most days there are just four people running around our home. It's quite a change from the days when we had eight or nine children at home! But then - whoosh - some or all descend for a weekend or a holiday - and it's super lively around here again!

Our family is growing through births and marriages these days, and we've found ourselves scrambling to come up with enough beds to house everyone. We had 16 folks living here during much of the Christmas holidays, filling our seven bedrooms and more. So Tim built a "Cupboard Under the Stairs" a la the one of Harry Potter fame. Hopefully ours is a bit cozier. (Paul has plans to turn it into his algebra study center.)

I've been adjusting to teaching only two students and working hard to give them solid instruction but also plenty of latitude so they will continue to grow in independence and competency.


Youth

No, we haven't found any fountains of perpetual youth. And I can't exactly say either Tim or I are feeling any younger. But it has been a year where we were blessed with more opportunities to work with the young people of our church, and that has been a real joy!  


Cycling and ... Running (?!)

In October Ben and I participated in a lovely 20 mile bike ride on the new Milwaukee Trail (Lawrence County, IN) "Howl at the Moon" event.







But I've been doing less cycling this year than in past ones because this I took up jogging after something like a 26 year hiatus. I now go slower than I thought it was humanly possible to go and still have both feet in the air. But I tell myself that's ok; at least I'm giving it a go.
After the Reindeer Romp
One of us looks worse for the wear

Peter and I ran in our first event together in December. He ran 8K at a 5 something pace. I was almost twice as slow, running a 5K at a 10:11/mile pace. Peter won the whole thing. I finished third in my old-lady category. Haha! It was a hoot!


Business

It's been a good year here, too. As a self-employed contractor, we never take God's provision of work for granted.



Loss and Trials, too

Of course, all has not been fun family times and endless delight. We've also experienced sickness and the sad results of sin.

Tim's mother, Sally, went to be with the Lord in May. She's struggled with declining health for some time now, and had been longing for heaven.

But in these hard times, too, or even especially, the Lord's help has been ever present. While I can't write about all that has taken place this year, I can publicly give thanks for His mercies which are sufficient.


The New Year


As Charles Spurgeon says, though, hitherto doesn't just look backward.
But the word also points forward. For when a man gets up to a certain mark and writes "hitherto," he is not yet at the end, there is still a distance to be traversed. More trials, more joys; more temptations, more triumphs; more prayers, more answers; more toils, more strength; more fights, more victories; and then come sickness, old age, disease, death. (Morning and Evening, Dec. 29)

What will 2017 bring?

We know a few things this new year should bring, Lord willing. We're planning for a wedding in March and one in May. In July Peter plans to move to Minneapolis to take a corporate job as an accountant. Kristen will move to Atlanta after her marriage, and then we will have children in five states. So much change will certainly be coming. But beyond these expected events, we know little. I'm so thankful that as I look to the unknown future, I have the past year, and in fact decades of past years, of memories of God's faithfulness to recall.

Yes, hitherto hath the Lord helped us, and He will continue to help in the days to come.













Double Happiness!

We have happy, happy news! In the next few months our family will have the joy of celebrating TWO weddings!

In March Andrew will wed the lovely Esther!

Andrew and Esther met through mutual friends, and sparks flew almost immediately.  They've been keeping the airlines busy traveling between Dayton and Texas.



Andrew made Esther's engagement ring which involved designing it, having a wax mold 3D printed, and then the gold cast from that. There were some difficulties and delays along the way, but isn't the finished product lovely?


We're all super excited to travel to Texas during spring break to celebrate Andrew and Esther's wedding!



Good things come in pairs, right?

Here's our second happy couple.






In May Kristen will become the wife of Ben V.W. (Or V-Dubs as some in our family are starting to call him as a way to distinguish this Ben from our youngest son.)  Ben is a native Georgian who works just outside Atlanta as a civil engineer. To make life even more interesting, both Kristen and Ben have lively puppies. (Who have yet to meet.)


Tim and I couldn't be any happier for God's wonderful gift of Esther for Andrew and Ben for Kristen!

Two Down, Two to Go, Two Weeks

Life's been extra full lately! Exciting things are happening, and I'm filled with thankfulness for wonderful answers to prayer! I hope to write a bit about that later...

But for now, in response to the query from a sweet friend, here are pics of the first two little girls' quilted jackets I've completed. This one is for my little Indian lover, and the fabrics reflect that theme. One is a feather print, another has arrows, and a couple others have a southwest feel. Plus, can you imagine the design in the front as a series of teepees? That was my idea, anyhow. The color in this picture isn't exactly right, but this jacket is peach, light teal, and gray.






And here's the hummingbird jacket:


This one takes its cue from the print fabric (seen in middle of sleeves) which has hummers. The birds in the front are paper pieced. Again, the color is not-quite true to life, especially with the red is really more of a coral.

So now I'm half-way done, and there are only two weeks to Christmas! It's a race to the finish!

(Especially since the room I've taken over as a sewing room needs to reconvert to a bedroom. The onslaught of returning sons, daughters, son-in-law, grands, and a fiancé, not to mention a couple of dogs is just around the corner!)

Actually I've pieced and quilted #3, so only some hand-quilting and assembly remains. That one is a crazy combination of oranges and pinks for our three-year-old, redheaded fireball. I've picked fabrics for #4, but I'm still working on a theme. She's a little tornado on two legs, but she sure is sweet, so I think I'll go with something that reflects that.

Under Construction - Little Girl's Quilted Jacket

Way back in the '80s, as a young mom I sewed quilted jackets for my first several children.

The Little Sister Log Cabin Jacket and Vest Book provided patterns and instructions. (Of course it's long out of print, but you can easily find used copies. Just make sure the pattern pieces are included.)

We loved those jackets. My little ones wore them often, but they held up well. And you know what? We still have all three. What fun it is to see my granddaughters wearing their mother's jacket!



Kara's original jacket is showing it's age, though, and I've thought for quite a while that an update was due.

Plus, wouldn't it be fun for each of her four girls to have a jacket made with her own tastes in mind?

So, after thinking about this for several years, this Christmas I'm hoping to pull it off. This week I'm expecting a lovely shipment of new fabrics to round out ones I've pulled from my small, but growing, "stash."

While waiting for the rest of the fabrics, I started on the first jacket. This one has a hummingbird theme. That fabric with blue, green, and pink has little hummingbirds on it.



Sleeves and back - pieced, but not quilted or cut to shape

The front of the jacket is a place where the maker can get creative. I decided to highlight hummingbirds here. So I paper-pieced four birds like this guy:



I'll set the hummers with white squares alternately, and use sashing to set off these blocks.

Maybe you can imagine the front with melon-colored sashing between the blocks?

Front - minus sashing

I have a good ways to go on this one before she's done, but it's been fun getting started!

Now to wait patiently for the delivery off all the rest of my fabrics for the other three!

A Real Woman's Guide to Devotions, Part 4 - But I'm so TIRED!

Even the flowers look tired at this time of year

Are you tired? Me too! In fact, I think “tired” might be the single adjective that describes most women. We're always trying to keep a zillion balls in the air, and if you're like me, you never quite feel you succeed.

And sleep? Eight uninterrupted hours seems like a dream! For a couple of decades it was pregnancy and babies who kept me up. These days it's the less exciting trials of middle age that give me insomnia. This summer my Fitbit, caring device it is, became so alarmed at my poor sleep habits that it started sending me emails with suggestions on how to get more rest. Ha – at least it made me laugh!

Chronic tiredness presents an obstacle to a vibrant devotional life. We don't want to be falling asleep as we pray!

But there are things even a very tired woman can do to build regular prayer times into her life. Here are some of my favorite ways of incorporating prayer into daily life:

1. Pray with your children!
Meal times are obvious (and good!) times to pray with your children. But how about as the day starts and before they go to sleep? Also, teach them to pray as you pray with and for them. And when something unusual happens, stop right then and pray together. Do you hear an ambulance siren? Stop and pray together for those in need. Maybe you've just read an email prayer request. Stop and pray for that need, and include your children as appropriate.

2. Pray as you fold laundry!
Laundry folding sessions make a great time to pray for the person whose belongings you are folding. When I had mountains of laundry for little ones, praying over the wash helped me to be thankful instead of resentful about the work, plus it gave me opportunities to intercede for each one.

3. When stressed, just stop and pray where you are.
Not sure how to respond to some parenting situation? Pray! Your child has made you angry? Stop and pray before dealing with the situation! Susanna Wesley, famously the mother of 17 children, would throw her apron over her head to give herself a modicum of privacy when she needed to pray.

4. Find a prayer partner!
A friend or two can be a great help in having some kind of regular prayer. For most of the three+ decades I've been a mom, I've had a pair of friends to pray with. (One pair in SC, another in NC, and yet another in IN.)

- Sometimes it works to get together very early in a morning to pray. This is what I did when I had just a couple of little ones.

- Maybe you can meet with a friend and pray together while your children play. (Yes, you will be interrupted periodically as you tend to your children. That's OK!)


My South Carolina prayer partners and our babies (c. 1985)


- If getting out of the house sounds too complicated, try a regular phone call. Keep it brief and to-the-point. I read of a pair of friends who would call at 8 AM each morning before their children left for school and pray for each other's families for five minutes. No time for fluff, but enough time for some focused prayer.

- You could have an email prayer partner. In addition to sending prayer requests, at least some of the time, you might also write out your prayers for one another. I have a friend who regularly types her prayer responses, and I can't tell you how I have been strengthened by reading her prayers.

And my favorite -
- Walk and pray!
For many, many years now, I've met with a couple of friends to share our lives as we take a walk, and then we pray for one another. Sometimes we're able to swing near weekly meetings. More often, even at this point in our lives, we struggle enough with schedules that it happens something closer to once or twice a month. 


And sometimes we get together for other types of adventures!
Praying friends


Don't let your fatigue keep you from spending time with the Lord. Do what it takes to plan daily times with Him during you day, and then look for a friend or two to become your prayer partner. If you do, I can guarantee you will both be blessed as you encourage one another in godliness!


A Real Woman's Guide to Devotions series - Previous posts

Part 1 - Introduction

Part 2 - But I'm BUSY!

Part 3 - Dealing with Distractions

Martin Luther on Distractions, Prayer, and Barbers

A Few Scrappy Finishes


Laurel's "pixel pillow"


This summer I took an online quilting class called Patchwork from Scrap taught by Rachel Hauser, the creator of the Stitched in Color blog. This was the second class I've taken from Rachel, and both have been fantabulous!

After reorganizing my scraps based on color family (cools or warms or neutrals) and size/shape (crumbs, strings, squares, and chunks), my leftover bits of fabric suddenly became so much more accessible! Now a quick glance into my plastic sorting box tells me whether I'll have what I need for a particular project.

The first two projects used little bitty scraps, a.k.a. "crumbs." Using 2" squares, I made the pillow above for my granddaughter Laurel's 5th birthday.

Next I made this little bag using raw-edge appliqué finished with zig-zag stitching around the triangle scraps. It's a nice size to hold a current knitting project.



And this week, to celebrate fall, I made a pair of largish, leaf-shaped potholders using a pattern from Buttons and Butterflies. These potholders make great use of "strings", those long thin strips so commonly left over from quilting projects.


Besides the two small projects I finished during the Patchwork From Scrap class this summer, I also started two throw quilts. One of those is finished and the other is in the final stages, getting some large-stitch hand quilting details. But more about those some time in the future!