Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Blessings

The beginning of each new year is a time we can determine to respond to God’s goodness. It is especially convenient when the new year starts on the weekend and we have more leisure time to think about the past year with all its happiness and regrets; things we did right that we want to repeat, and things best forgotten. We remember dear ones who have passed away and resolve to honor them, and be more like them, this year. It is also a time we can newly commit to God, to be His, and take shelter under His wing.

Sometimes, as at the end of this year, I haven’t known what to pray. But God knows how He is turning all the unfulfilled things, disappointments and sorrows in life into something glorious.  So we look to Him; He’s the only one who can turn the bad into His glory and our good. As 2011 rolls around, I am looking to the Bible to see what its writers thought, struggled with and prayed. I am encouraged by Psalm 86, a prayer of David, and with him I say, “(Ps. 86:4) Bring joy to your servant, Lord, for I put my trust in you.” I am confident that as God brought joy to David and watched over him, He will do the same for us. I am determined to trust Him- His plan, His unfailing love. That doesn’t mean I always understand, but it does bring me that deep down heart’s peace that I've never gotten anywhere else. Where does your peace come from?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Joy Persists

We have had a couple of challenging weeks here at River's Edge. But I am glad it is this season. Much as I felt empty a week ago, and I sought God for answers, I find as this Christmas week begins that joy persists in the face of sorrow. Somehow, hope in God finds light of day in our darkest times. 

In yesterday's sermon I was reminded that God knows our most difficult hurts, having had to give over his only Son for the demands of sins' punishment. God knows hurt. This is why He can be trusted with our broken hearts. He is the only One who has the power to redeem even the hardest things in our lives. Christmas couldn't come at a better time than when we hurt. Maybe you need reminding today, as I do, that this little baby, born in a manger,  came to give us hope for the future; and that brings joy in the here and now, even in this broken world. Merry, joyous Christmas.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


Here are a couple shots of the poppies quilt I mentioned recently. The center drawing is of a tiny embryo which doesn't show up in the pictures. I particularly enjoyed the free-form quilting in this quilt, looking like ghosts of poppies and their little buds. The here-but-not-here quilting reminded me of the little baby I had carried for such a short time. For me he was here but not here, in our minds but in reality already a resident in Heaven. I mentioned before that in Victorian times and before, poppies were seen as symbolic of fertility, eternal life, and rest.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Coffin Quilts

Coffin Quilt #1 with hand dyed batik fabrics, black silk stuffed coffin sewn closed, and embryo beading on top. This is the first quilt I made after miscarrying Fidget's twin, Josiah Elijah, on 12/10/03. The name Elijah was chosen because like the prophet in the Bible, our baby was not born to die a man, but went straight to heaven and we did not see him go.The parts of the verse I stitched from 2 Kings 2:11 says ...Suddenly chariots of fire and horses of fire appeared and he went up to heaven in a whirlwind. There is no better thing for a grieving parent than to know your baby is in heaven waiting. Because I was still pregnant with Fidget, I found these quilts were the only way I grieved after that day until months after she was born when it hit me. Anyone who has lost a loved one knows there is no guarantee that grief will ever be gone. It strikes suddenly just as new as that first day. This December tenth was hard in that we experienced miscarriage again. But our confidence is in God, the Father of all comfort. He is holding our precious babies and we will see them one day. In the Bible God promises that no one who hopes in him will be disappointed.
Second coffin quilt with empty, closed black silk coffin. Psalm 139:14 quote, I praise you because you are to be feared; all you do is strange and wonderful. I know it with all my heart. This was important for me, to address the awesome supremacy of God in my time of grieving. His ways are higher than ours, and even when some of it doesn't look good, we have to trust his plan. It's the only plan. And he is always good.
Quilt #3 with open coffin of metallic silk. Verse: Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. John 12:24. My thought was this boy's life had come and gone so quickly, but that in that time his life had been an encouragement and I had the comfort of knowing his life had purpose. Besides that I knew he had a glorious home in heaven and would be waiting for me. He is waiting still.

Friday, December 10, 2010


Seven years ago today I miscarried Fidget's twin. 

I don't like the word miscarried. Being told I was mis-carrying seemed to implicate me in my little baby's passing even though I had not even known of my pregnancy a week. I didn't like to hear that I'd lost the baby either. That made it seem like carelessness on my part. But the baby did pass away and to our wonderment when we went to the hospital there was still another heartbeat. And many months later, our beautiful Fidget was born. 

Fortunately for me I was in art school at the time of the miscarriage. I say fortunately because I had something physical to pour my sorrow into. And I had plenty of time and supplies to work on grieving quilts. I made three tiny coffin quilts and another with a tiny baby and poppies, flowers that have long symbolized fertility and eternal life, rest and repose. It comforts me to think of the poppy quilt which now hangs in a children's treatment center in a hospital, and the coffin quilts, which I have lent to grieving mothers in the ensuing years. 

It is hard not to get our way, to know we have come up against God and that He did not agree with us in our wants. I have handed my desire for more children over to God countless times these years, and I know I am not done yet. Today is a new day to see His will working in my life and choose to embrace it. This morning I found a verse I want to exemplify, 2 Corinthians 7:4 "...I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds." 

When I grieve what I don't get, I see the way the world does not fulfill me. I have a wonderful family, and friends, and church, loved ones near and far. And still when I grieve the world's disappointments I am reminded none of the good things God has given can fill me. God shows me again and again where my hope must lie. Today I pray God will restore to me the joy of my salvation, the joy of knowing that troubles on earth are light and momentary compared to the boundless joy we will have with Him in Heaven for all time.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Everyday Grace

We are a needy people. No one likes to need, especially in a country that prides itself on independence. It is a lot to get over when you find out you are in no state to help yourself into Heaven. This is the whole reason Jesus came and why we celebrate Christmas. He came and did what we could not. Our sin is a mortal disease. Yet Jesus was the only human who did not have the disease in the history of the world. 

It is one thing to learn you need Jesus and ask Him into your heart. Fine, we say, I needed you for that. But the rest of this, I’ve got a handle on. It brought me up short this week to be in need. Time and again God shows He knows we are a needy people, and He provides. So why should there be any shame? We need, He answers.

 This week I’ve been having a rough time not feeling well. Yesterday I thought, tomorrow for sure I can handle making dinner. But there’s not much to eat after that meal, and the thought of shopping was daunting. I thought, if only someone else could do it. That’s silly though; there are some things you just have to do. So I was floored this morning when a friend called and offered to do my grocery shopping! In fact, I started to cry. Psalm 9:18 tells us God will never forget the needy. In Psalm 69:33 the Lord tells us He hears the needy. Psalm 72:13 says he will take pity on the weak and the needy. So why should I be so surprised that God cares even about me and my needs, especially one that is so comparatively small in light of the many needs of poor countries and oppressed people? He promises, and He means it.

Sometimes it takes being needy to bring me to my knees. This is where God reminds me that grace is not just about Christmas. Grace is for every day.