Friends....I need this space to just vent for a moment like this.
Alot of people say that I'm so well put together and have my life all organized...well, right now, I'm not. I'm weary. We've had a great deal of sadness thrown at us in the last couple of weeks...and although most of it does not closely effect our immediate family, I am feeling weighed down by the sheer sadness of it all.
This last week has been filled with a detached retina (my dad), a dear college friend losing her spouse quite suddenly, my best friend's dad fighting stomach cancer, THIS,a friend who's daughter has a nasty stomach virus, and on top of everything else.....we are STILL waiting for order as to our next transfer.
And as I type this, I realize that not a single item on this list of stuff do I have control over, and I guess that is where the sadness lays. I can't reattach retinas, I can't bring back my friends husband, I can't heal cancer, I cannot comfort a sick and lonely teenager in a hospital in Florida, I can not get rid of a stomach virus, and I can't predict the future, so I can't see where we will be stationed next.
Yeah...I know...Let go, and let God. Try it in my shoes for a day, and I bet you can't.
So, I'm apologizing if I haven't spoken to some of you for a few days, not being as chatty on IM, or Facebook, or the phone. I'm just weary. The truth is, I feel helpless in these situations so I'm throwing myself into projects that can make someone feel better. I'm quilting for a friend in a nursing home, making baby blankets to share, making dinners for new mothers, and pillowcases for kids in the hospital.
I'll come up for air in a few days I am sure. But for now, I'm just weary, and coping the best I can.
Yesterday, my husband and I celebrated a landmark.....12 years of marriage. Pretty amazing to say the least. 12 years might not seem like much to some, but to us it means everything. Many didn't think we would make it. The odds were pretty much stacked against us from the beginning. Eben had been asking if I would ever make a quilt that we would actually get to keep. So I purposed in my heart to make that happen. I put it off over Christmas, since there was a ton of other homemade goodies going on, but figured I could make him something for our Anniversary.
Here it is...But this isn't just any quilt....this quilt now has a story. And it's a story that I think needs to be blogged about and shared. Or at least documented for my kids, so they can read for themselves when they get older about the story of the Anniversary Quilt.
When I first began this project, I had huge expectations for it. I wanted the most gorgeous, beautiful quilt, the prettiest fabrics available, a predictable pattern to it, everything one could ever hope for in a quilt. Kind of like how we began our marriage 12 years ago. I had these grandiose ideals of a perfect marriage, a perfect little house, a perfect set of children, security, predictability, and the happily ever after that you see in the movies. About 2 weeks after the "I Do's" were said, the reality check slapped us both in the face.
This quilt looks perfect hanging up on the back fence....from a distance. So do alot of marriages. But I have a secret to tell you...if you look a bit closer you will find the mistakes. At on point in time, I sat on the floor of the living room, quilt in arms, telling myself how horrible it was. I couldn't get the fabric to lay flat, it puckered in all the wrong places, the pieces were just all in a jumble instead of a predictable pattern because of the Little Apple who insisted on rearranging the blocks every single time I had them lay them out on the floor. It was an ugly quilt, meant for the garbage can.
As I cried over that stinking quilt, I heard that comforting whisper...you know the one. The one that comes from within your heart, and you know it can only be that still small voice of God. And it said "It's not ugly. It can still be used. Try seeing it through My eyes instead." And I began to see all kinds of comparisons and lessons learned.
My first mistake....TIME. I had neglected to take time to create a masterpiece. I expected myself to put together a gorgeous quilt in just a couple of weeks. Just the same....a good marriage isn't something thing that you can just throw together and hope for the best that it makes it. It takes practice. Years. Of Practice. And work. Hard work. But it goes on from there. Pictured above is the section of quilt that I am least happy with. You see, when I first started quilting it, I chose to free motion quilt it, because it requires a great deal of sewing and the quilt would last. Not to mention that I think it's just really pretty. As I started quilting it, the fabric started to pucker here, and wrinkle there. Not very much, so I disregarded it, thinking it wouldn't be noticeable. But by the time I got to the middle section, the fabric was so distorted that there was no other option but to just leave it alone. Had I addressed the minor problems with the quilt early on, the distortion in the middle wouldn't have been such a problem. Just the same, Eben and I have had many little bumps along the way in our marriage. It's far from perfect, but we have figured out after 12 years together, that if you address those little things as they come up, a huge problem in the middle won't be glaringly obvious to everyone.
Another huge mistake that I made...I didn't really have the right tools for the job. This quilt isn't a baby sized quilt. I made this one bigger so that my sweetie and I could snuggle and watch movies together.
But unfortunately, a quilt of this size doesn't exactly fit under a standard sewing machine. It was a hard job. And I definitely didn't have enough thread. I had to stop my project in the middle, drive into town, buy more thread and continue where I had left off. In the same way, with my own life...if I don't have the right tools I need to get through the day, of course I'm going to get off track and it's going to make life more difficult than necessary. I was reminded again that I had been slacking off in my quiet times with God, and in doing so, was giving myself a one-way ticket to frustration.Frustration.....like what I got when I was finishing the edges of the quilt and I couldn't get the fabric to iron flat to fold over. I had no choice but to bunch it up and sew it and move on. For the sole purpose of just persevering to the end.
And that is what Eben and I will do. We will persevere to the end. For the next 50+ years if God chooses to bless us with that many years together. We don't claim to have the perfect marriage. It's full of mistakes. Heck, it doesn't even look good up close. But can God use it? I'm sure He can.
Happy Anniversary, Eben. I love you. Matthew 19:26
Is it true? Can it be possible? I haven't blogged in over a month!?!?!!? Could it possible that it was the Christmas season, and things got seriously crazy?
Here is a recap of what you missed.... (in pictures, of course...because I'm sure all of you would rather see it, than simply read about it!)
The Apples were in a musical...called The Grinch. It was wonderful. I am glad they got a chance to get their feet wet in the theater, since it is something that I have always enjoyed and it's dear to my heart. This guy came to their performance. I mean, how cool is that?!?!? Jindal in for President in 2012? I might consider voting for him!
The Saturday following The Grinch, The Little Apple got a strange bump on her neck. Sunday, she had another huge on her forehead, and one on her stomach. Oh-oh, I thought. A few hours later, she had a couple hundred bumps. Chicken pox. She had had no other symptoms, no fever, no crabbiness, nothing to indicate that she was coming down with something. Doing the math at the Dr. 's office, The Little Apple was at her most contagious time the day of the stage production of The Grinch, and had hung out with me most of the day at the Auditorium.
....along with every elementary age kid in our entire city. Nicely played. I'm such a horrible mother...having single-handedly exposed every kid in our city to the Chicken Pox in one day.
We survived. With a couple of scars. More emotional scars on my part....as we were kindof treated like my family had the plague and not the chicken pox. Go figure. Small price to pay, though, for choosing not to vaccinate my kids. But we have successfully completed chicken pox with all 3 of the kids.
The next couple of weeks were filled with Christmas joy. Homemade gifts of jam, candied pecans, handsewn Christmas stockings, homemade wrapping paper, and kid made ornaments and presents. I am becoming more and more of a fan of "Homespun Christmas"
We saw lights, we wrote letters to Santa, and I asked the girls to consider giving something of themselves that would mean the world to someone else..... And they did. I am proud to say that between the 2 of my girls, 22 inches of hair was donated to Pantene Beautiful Lengths Program...10 from one Apple, 12 from the other. They did this in honor of my best friend's Daddy, Papa Les, ...who is battling stomach cancer.
Christmas Eve was full of magic. And cookies. The tiny carrots you see cam straight from our garden. You will be pleased to know, that the reindeer left the store bought carrots behind, and ate only the ones from the garden. Daddy read all of our favorite Christmas stories, and each of Little Apples opened a new pair of pajamas. And Santa came, and with him, timely reminders of why we celebrate the Christmas season. My mom and nephew, The Cannon, arrived the day after Christmas. And what a blessing that turned out to be. The day after Christmas, my husband slept most of the day. Which was weird...even for him. And he felt like he had the flu.
Only it wasn't. The day after that, he came down with a full blown case of the Chicken Pox. It was a gift that just kept on giving. His case was soooooooo bad in fact, he has refused to allow me to post the one and only picture of him that I have of him with the Chicken Pox. Having Geeya here was a Godsend for sure, as she was available to play with the children, cook all of my favorites (I have 6 bonus pounds from that week!), and spoil everyone in the house rotten for days. It was wonderful. You see that pie? It was sooooooooo good. Just like the ones I enjoyed for every holiday as a kid. And although we didn't go anywhere or do anything special, we did what families do....we enjoyed each others company.
And finally....(if you've hung on to this post this long, you get a gold star!), because of our Chicken Pox infested household, The Little Apples had to miss their dance recital. And the performance at a church too. I DID, however, have the pleasure of getting to see them do their dances at the Awards Party. I was sooooo moved to tears watching both of them perform. They know that the gift of dance was a gift from God and choose to dance for Jesus. I am so proud of them!
There. I think I'm all caught up. I hope. Until someone posts something that I missed. In the meantime, Happy New Year everyone. May this be the best, and most blessed year ever!