{confidence and peace}

Where have YOU been?

Who ME?  

I've been on a journey.  See...I blog for my 3 girls.  For me.  For my family.  For my friends.  To share with you some of my crafting and some of my heart from time to time.  And as of late, my heart has just been unable to speak words.

February 1st, Uncle Mel died.  My husbands uncle.  My husband grew up with him being more like a brother since they were so close in age.  But in recent years, he'd been the other "father in law" I'd ever known (my husbands own father died almost 30 years ago) and Mel had stepped in and been a guiding light for our family.  We had grown close over the recent years and we know now that was such a blessing.  It takes time for your heart to feel like it can go on.

4 weeks and 6 days later, my dear sweet friend Kris passed away.  A homeschooling mother of 5.  A courageous and generous and loving woman who I miss terribly.

One day, years and years ago when I used to do home trunk shows and sales of the Two Peas stuff, I got an email from a woman who said she enjoyed my blog and had I ever considered having a sales rep?  She went on to tell me she lived in Columbus, Ohio and was a homeschooling Mom of 5 and looking for some small income and job on the side.

I wrote her back telling her that I too lived in Columbus (she didn't know that at the time she emailed me) and offered to meet her for coffee sometime.  She wrote back telling me exactly which suburb she lived in (Columbus proper is over 1 million people and the suburbs total way way more than that and covers a pretty large area as our state capitol) so we could make plans.

Would you believe we lived in the exact same town?  Not only that but we lived within 3 miles of each other.  And when we met for coffee at the local coffeehouse, she went on to tell me about the church she and her family were considering joining.  It was the church we belonged to.  Kris and I were friends from that day on.  We bonded over sewing, over kids, over our church.  Her kids were on swim team with my girls.  We chatted about 4H and lots of other things.

And then a little more than a year ago, she got sick.  I had sent her an email asking for help with some sewing projects and she responded, asking, had I seen the note she posted on facebook.  I hadn't.  I read it and my heart dropped.  She had been diagnosed with cancer, thymoma.  Over the next year, I joined in with countless friends and family to help bring meals to her family and clean house for her while she fought.  I prayed for her a lot.  Every single day.  Many times.  But her healing just didn't happen here on earth.  The end of January, her family had a birthday party for her and I felt in my heart, I was saying goodbye.  A month later, she passed.

Hard stuff.  Hard stuff for my heart to handle.

Last week, my husbands best friend got married.  Joy.  My husband, the Gardener, he was the best man and our little Sprout was the flower girl. When we walked into church for the wedding rehearsal, we walked into the area where my friend Kris had laid at her memorial service - where I last saw her earthly body - and said one final goodbye to my friend.  We walked into this joyous occassion and I had to turn around and walk right back to the restroom to have a cry.  My two peas had much of the same reaction.  They said they could "feel" Ms. Kris there in that place.  I did too.

So my heart has been on this journey.  And although there is sadness - I don't want this post to be about grief.

In this sadness, I have actually been given amazing gifts that I feel incredibly blessed to receive.

In these last couple of months, this little journey has brought me to confidence and peace.

I had the gift of being able to care for my family when Mel died.  I shared very intimate conversations and time with my husband and I got to love him even more than before.  He has been through a lot in his life and being able to comfort him and share life with him, good and bad, has been a blessing for me.

I shared a lot of my rollercoaster kind of feelings with my Pastor recently - after Mel died, I had not been back to church for awhile.  It was too hard.  But what I felt in my life was that God was changing me.  And I have been thinking a lot about death.  In a good way.  About meeting death with confidence.  About peace.  Because death - in my faith as a Christian - is not the end.  But I had not yet reached the place in my life that I fully rested in that truth or the promise of eternity.

Tomorrow is Easter.  My Pastor asked me if I would read a scripture verse at our Good Friday service last night and if I would share something personal about my thoughts on this scripture.  Tricky.  He knew I had not been in a "good" place lately.  Or maybe I have been in a very good place.  My scripture verse I choose was Luke 23: 44-46.

It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining.  And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.  Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands, I commit my spirit."  When he had said this, he breathed his last.

One of my girls drew the picture above for me while we were sitting in church last night before I went up to speak.  Wishing me Good Luck. What I shared was that Jesus had willingly took the torturous pain and burden of our sins.  He knowingly came to the cross.  And he confidently came to death - He was not afraid, His life had not been TAKEN but that He had GIVEN His life for ours.

But I've never had that confidence.  I don't think I've ever trusted in God enough to be at peace with what eternity is, whatever it is.  And when I think back to Mel, in his final moments, he showed tremendous courage and faith.  He wasn't scared.  He was ready.

My friend Kris, she fought hard for the sake of her kids but ultimately, she was not afraid because she knew where she was headed.

When I think about my Grandma Beatrice before she passed, even years before she passed, she would tell me she was ready.  I never understood that peace.  But she would ask me all the time if I had accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior and had I asked Him into my heart.  I would be annoyed with her because of course I had - being raised in the church and all.

But in my adult life - I have found that it's not something you do just once.  At least not for me.  Because my life with Christ - my confidence and peace in my faith comes and goes.

When Jesus was in that dark place on Good Friday, He was outside of the kingdom of God and in pain from the burden of all of our sins, and He did that to free us so that we might have eternity.  He did that so that when we come to death, we can meet it with confidence and peace knowing that it isn't goodbye - it is, see you later.

I have created in my life, my own personal Hell at times - I am a sinner.  I have done things I am not proud of.  I am ashamed.  And those things can really weigh you down.

But in these last couple of months, in grief, I have found great joy.  And Peace.  Because I'm finding my own confidence.  My faith has been strengthened.

I have NOT ONCE.


But many times over in the course of my lifetime, I have asked Jesus to be my Lord and Savior and I have asked Him to come into my heart, and forgive me of my sins.  And each time I do, I think about my Grandma Bea, and her teaching me those words.

And in sorrow, I'm finding peace and confidence because I believe that my sins are washed clean.  I believe I can have second chances to do better, be better.  I believe in the promise of eternity.  I believe I can move forward in my life, unburdened, made anew, without fear, without worry - that I can be like Mel, and Kris, and my Grandma Bea.

That I can find peace and confidence.

So, I haven't been here in blog land much lately because my heart has been on a journey.  It didn't feel right to come here until the time was right to share what God has been doing in my life.

And Easter - Resurrection Sunday - is the perfect time.

For Hope.  For Blessings.  For Rebirth.  For Forgiveness.  For Courage.  For Strength.  For Promises.  For all of us.

I ended my sharing at our Good Friday service by quoting a song I love by contemporary Christian artist Matt Maher called "Christ is Risen".  (find it on iTunes - you'll love it).

"Oh death.  Where is your sting?

Oh Hell.  Where is your victory?

Oh Church.  Come stand in the light.

Our God is not dead.  He is alive.  He's alive."

Happy Easter and Many blessings to your family.  Thanks for sharing my journey and being patient while I ride the ride.



{tractors and dr. pepper}

It was a requirement that I have Dr. Pepper on hand at all times for whenever Uncle Mel would come over to our house.  He loved that stuff.  Trust me, after all this work he did for us for Quilt Market, I had a case of Dr. Pepper on hand! And he loved tractors.  And his dogs.  And we love him.  Oh, how we love him.

Absolutely drops me to my knees and tears fall when I read this post.  Because my gardener retires this year.  And this is exactly what he had in mind - to hang out with Uncle Mel, build stuff, garden, sell at the farmers market.  They had plans together.  We had plans.  Plans involving our families and work and spending time together.  Plans.

Uncle Mel wasn't a whole lot older than my husband or his 3 other brothers.  They were like brothers.  Best friends.  And in most recent years, he's been more to us.

On February 1st, my husband gave a letter to Uncle Mel from the two peas.  We had not been able to see him for the last several months because he was keeping everyone away.  He didn't want us to see him.  He was sick and he wanted to protect us from that pain.  On that day, the letter told Uncle Mel how much the peas loved him, appreciated him for all that he had done, thanked him again for the great time they had staying at his house over Spring Break, told him how the thing they loved best about him was how he took care of Aunt Carla, and that they knew he knew this already but they wanted to tell him again - that Jesus loved him, and to be careful on his way to heaven.

They couldn't get Mel home because he was on a ventilator - which was a result of him collapsing at home 2 days prior.  His diaphragm muscles finally quit working.  For the last couple of years, we had been trying to help get him with the right docs to figure out what was wrong with him.  Everyone said he was fine.  But he wasn't fine.  Turns out, he had ALS and I think in his heart, he knew something was drastically wrong.  And as the disease progressed, he just didn't want us to see what was going on.

He just wanted to get home.  My husband told Carla - but he is going HOME.  "And home maybe not be the house he shared with you but he is going HOME."  And they made arrangements to bring his favorite dog to the hospital.  And Jake sat on Mel's lap, and Mel spelled out that he had a great life.  And that he loved everyone and then lifted his finger and pointed at Aunt Carla, his son, my husband and Carla's brother who was there.  And then my sweet husband left him alone with Aunt Carla and Mel's only son and Jake, his dog.  And then he asked for the tube to be removed, and he went HOME.

So me, my husband, my girls and our extended family - we aren't quite up to par just yet.  I'm not even sure how to get back to my blog because the words just won't come.  I just need some time.



new year resolutions...kinda sorta


I usually don't make New Year's resolutions.  I figure, what's the point?  It's not like I'm actually going to make some dramatic changes or anything.  I mean, let's be honest.  Change is hard.  And I'm pretty settled in my ways.

But, this year...I've been thinking.  I really want some things to change.  I'm tired.  And I think I'm at the point where change is necessary or else.  This is the year.

This list, might not be of any interest to you...but if I say it, I'll do it.  And I'm gonna say it aloud so I take some action.

1) My business, this whole Two Peas thing...my "hobby"...this is the year I decide to either keep doing it publically or go underground and just sew for fun without the business aspect.   I get emailed lots and lots of questions about how to do what I do and I thought it might be good to share what my pea brain knows thus far about what I've been doing and I'll do that more here in 2012.  It just seems like there are some crafters that seem to find instant HUGE success and can make this whole handmade thing their bread and butter to provide for their family.  Wish I knew their secret.  To sew and craft for a living - like actually make a living at crafting, dream!  DREAM!!  I've certainly enjoyed success, and I am so humbled and thankful for the successes I have had and...I can't quit my day job.  I'm pretty sure because of benefits like health insurance, I won't be able to.  Ever.  I'm patiently waiting to see where God will lead me in this decision.  Plus, I love my day job too (working in higher ed and for the environment - we're tree huggers in case you didn't know).

My business is more than a business.  Which is maybe not good business?  It's my love.  My passion.  Lifelong passion, truly - I love sewing and art.  Have loved it since I could hold a crayon in my hand.  I love what I do and love sharing with others what I do.  I spend a lot of time on my business and the whole point of creating "two peas" was to afford me a small income so that I could be available to my family, AND get to do what I love.  I mean, isn't that THE DREAM?  When I was a park ranger, somebody PAID ME TO RIDE MY BIKE IN THE PARK ALL DAY.  Serious.  It was the best!  If I'm spending time away from my family in order to work my business, it needs to be worth my while, worth my absence.  You know what I mean?

But I suck at it.  At least at staying focused because my babies are only babies once, and I'm so easily distracted for one more hug, for a quick bike ride on the driveway, for snack time, etc etc etc.   My hubby says my "business" so far is still just a hobby.  And a hobby would allow me to make different decisions with my time.  Does that make sense?  I mean, if it was JUST a hobby, then to heck with deadlines, marketing, bookkeeping (oh I hate bookkeeping) blah, blah, blah.  Heck, I tell my husband all the time...I just want to sew and draw and paint and glue things together and create.  Can't somebody else do all that other number crunching stuff ?  I'm just not sure I have what it takes to be so driven to make my hobby a true business.  I love what I do - too much - and sometimes I feel like I'm sacrificing the love of it for something else.

Maybe this is "taboo" - things you shouldn't say in business publicly but I'm just being honest with myself.  I've been at it commercially for one year.  They say it takes 2-3 years for a business to hit its stride.  Being a one woman show is taxing - and I'm not sure if this is what God had in mind when I felt pulled this direction.  Anybody else feeling this way with your business?  Please tell me I'm not alone.

So my resolution here is to full on do the things I originally set out to do.  I'm going to hit it hard this year!  Sky is the limit, pie in the sky, dream the big dream, shoot for the stars.  That way, I can have no regrets.  No.  Regrets.  I'm going to figure out how to manage to balance my time so that I'm happy with my creative time, family time and business time.  No.  Regrets.  This time next year, I want to decide if this is for me or not.  Did I mention my young husband who is a law enforcement park ranger is retiring THIS YEAR.  Those law enforcement guys have a good deal going and he was recruited very young.  See...I think this is at the root of my turbulent thinking because of this drastic change for us...lots to figure out what are we doing, how we do it, where do we need to be.  It's really weighing heavily on me.

2) This is the year I vow to lose the *cough! cough* twenty pounds, give or take a few, that I gained while Sprout was having a rough go last winter.  She is still considered to be in an "ongoing diagnostic" phase as they found some neuro abnormalities but can't pin it down especially since thus far, her neurological and other developmentally milestones are all being met, thankfully.  She's even a little advanced in some areas. Funny thing, when you quit eating from stress and nerves, you gain weight, quick.  Bummer.  But this looming, waiting for the other shoe to drop feeling, kinda starts to get old after awhile.

We have been very blessed because our family received a scholarship from the Y for my girls to be on the swim team and I have access to classes and 6 hours of personal trainer time to help me figure out how to get on track with diet and exercise.  I want to get my flexibility back that I lost after having my last baby, I want energy, and I want to be able to button my pants so I don't have to buy new ones.  I've got a serious muffin top thing going on with my jeans right now and I do NOT want to spend any money on clothes.  Today, I quit drinking pop.  Cold Turkey.  I made it all the way to 3:34pm.  Then I had a Coke.  I'll try again tomorrow.  Wish me luck on that one.

3) I want to be a better steward in faith - I want to be sure that in all that I do - I do it for the right reasons.  I want to do more than just enough to get by, I want to be more centered and focused on my relationship with Christ.  I keep reminding my girls, and in a way, reminding myself, that a sin is a sin is a sin.  It doesn't matter how small, God doesn't say well, murder is REALLY bad but  lying is not as bad so...OK, you're in!  I want to live my life with God at the center of EVERYTHING I do.  Taking care of myself, my family, people around me - it all plays into where I'm placing my priorities.  First and MOST IMPORTANT, I don't want to just get by.  I want to do more.  I'm not sure what that means just yet...

4) I want to be on time.  I'm late for most everything.  I hate that about myself.  And yet, for like 20 years, I can't seem to improve it.  I'm going to set my alarm more often.  Try to keep a better, stricter schedule.  Refer back to #2.  I think that will help.  All about physically and emotionally, being healthy.  I mean, it's so bad, my friends actually tell me to be places 20 minutes early - they LIE to me, so I get there on time.  It works.  Most of the time.  But then I'm worried that if my friends are LYING to me, they are gonna go to hell (see #3).  I'm just kidding about that part.  But I am going to do better this year about being on time.

5)  I want to catch up on my laundry.  In a house of 5, it never, ever, never, ever stops and I'm always like 7 loads behind the eight ball even when I do a load or two EVERY DAY.  Ugh.  I vow to declutter our laundry heap, simplify our clothing choices, and use those vaccuum storage bag things so I have a space to put off season clothes away (did I mention we live in a small house with very small closets...love the house, hate my closets.)

6) I want to simplify.  I'm tired of having "stuff".  I want less "stuff" and more open space.  Refer to #5.  I decluttered every room of the house this year and finished just before Christmas.  I'm going to do it all over again...and really pare down.  Almost everything we own is a hand me down and I have a hard time saying no - I'm a flea market, thrift store, junk loving kind of girl.  But I need to simplify.  PURGE will be my favorite word for January and February and March and April and....

7)  I want to be a better friend, reconnect with old friends.  There are people that used to be really important in my life and they have faded away.  I want to reconnect.

8. I want to be a better wife.  I pray about this ALOT.  I try to practice submission with my husband (well, the kind where I tell him he's the head of the house and he has the final say but really, I pretty much always get my way, kind of submission.  Right?  That's how it works isn't it?  I really do let him lead but we are 100% a team).  I want to be everything he needs me to be and support him as best I can.  I want to always make him happy and feel loved and appreciated.  I want to say "yes" more than I say "no" because that always ends up working in my favor anyway.  What?  Oh, come on girls.  That is not a secret. Right?!

9)  I want to volunteer at my kids school while I can.  5th graders, this is their last year in elementary school.  Can I put them in a bubble and stop them from turning into teenagers?  Please?  I know I still have 2 years and 2 months before they hit their teens but I'm working so hard to keep them little and age appropriate in a world that wants them to to be 17 when they are 10.  It's such a battle - and I mean, one that I wield a shield and sword for - to keep images, music, television, and situations, age appropriate to MY standards.  To hell with the standards of the world, it's our rules, our standards.  It requires me to preview movies, google search lyrics to songs before they download them, and it's sometimes freaking exhausting.  But they are the sweetest, most compassionate, generous, loving, faithful, inspiring, energetic, appreciative, down to earth girls I know.  And that has nothing to do with me...that's all them.  I don't want to miss a moment of any stage of their life.  Even, gasp, the teen years.

10)  Become debt free.  This economy sucks right now.  This goes back to #1 and the hubby retiring.  Debt free will do much to alleviate my anxiety over our future.  Pipe dream maybe because I'm talking the whole she-bang.  Mortgage and all.  I guess I better start playing the lottery.  This one is maybe less of "resolution" and more of a dream.

I think that about covers it all.  Wait, I want to drink more water too.  Anyway, just a few little resolutions...How about you?  Make any resolutions this year?

{going to special places}

One night last week, I went someplace that I had not been to in a very long time.  I hadn't even thought about this place in many years.  The last time I was there, I was maybe 12 years old, at best.

But when I walked in, everything was exactly as I remembered it.  No one was home but coming through the front door, I could feel the sun warm me as it came through the sliding glass doors opposite the front door.  There was candy in the dish that sat on the dining room hutch just like I remembered it.  In the kitchen, I immediately found the vintage juice jar that I remembered my grandmother using and the little glasses she served the juice in.  The table was tucked away along the wall, tablecloth covering it but no plate of butterscotch cookies like she used to make.

The floors looked the same.  The light switches made the same sound when you flipped them on that I remembered.  The doorknobs turned the way I remembered and my feet made the same sound I remembered when I walked across the hardwood floor in the spare bedroom I used to nap in.

And then I heard some laughing, and there was a fire in the fireplace, and I found some things that I had never seen before in a box in the corner.  And someone said to me, "Those are for you - we've been saving them up to give to you".  When I turned around, I was so excited to see it was my Grandfather.  I hadn't seen him or hardly thought about him in the almost 30 years since he passed away when I was a child.  He looked exactly as I remembered him.  He had the same funny laugh and sweet appalachian accent that I hadn't heard in forever.  He and my grandmother used to call me "tree-sha" and would say things like "mursh-rooms" or "worsch"  (Tricia, mushrooms and wash if you're not from Southern Ohio).

I don't know what prompted this dream.  It was so vivid.  So real.  For days, I haven't been able to get him out of my mind.  When I woke up, I remembered every single detail of that dream which is rare.  I've poured back over those memories a thousand times since that night and I can't stop thinking about his face and his eyes and his smile and that moment.

I don't believe in ghosts and I'm not really sure I will ever be able to explain what prompted that dream.  But it was so comforting.  I felt like I was being watched as I grew.  That I was being nurtured and cared for.  That he was still with me even though not physically.  He still knew me even though I had grown so much since he saw me last.  He knew me and he loved me.  And I remembered how much I loved him.

I have only had a dream that was so vivid and that I remembered that well one other time, and that was about my sister who also passed away when I was a child.  I think I was 15 or 16 when I had that dream and she died before I was even 2 years old (she was 15 when she died).  It does make me wonder if we visit with those we love who have passed on in our dreams...that when we close our eyes, we allow ourselves to go places that sometimes are too painful to think about when our eyes are open.

It sure made me smile though, being in that place, remembering the sights and sounds and smells and the feel of that special place...and hearing a familiar voice and seeing a familiar face.  Whatever it was, it was good.

september 12th

A day of rebirth. Renewal.



I don't think my babies will ever understand the fear and anxiety that came from that day, September 11th, 2001 when they were only 6 months old.  I sobbed that day thinking I had just brought these beautiful baby girls into what was a war zone.  I feared the world they would grow up in would be so drastically uncertain, unkind, and evil.

But instead, on September 12th, there was hope.  There was a fighting spirit that we would overcome.  We would work together.  We would honor.  Work hard.  And never forget.

When I went to bed last night, I was so drained.  I'm sure all of us were feeling that way.  We went to church, we talked about forgiveness, we tried to talk to our 10 year old twins about what happened that day.  I wore my old police badge on the inside of my jacket yesterday next to my heart.  My heart just ached.  Because our world changed so much that day.

When I woke up today, I wanted to honor this life that God has given me.

The RENEWAL that is born each and everyday we awake to a perfect new day.

The HOPE that is before each of us to live up to our potential and honor the gifts that God has given us in our faith, family and friends.

The PRIDE that I feel in my heart, because I live in the United States of America.  I am proud to be an American where I am free and incredibly blessed in this life I've been given.

September 12th.  Today is going to be a great day.




The spiritual side...

Hard for me to recap Quilt Market without touching on what it all really meant to me, spiritually.  For those of you rolling your eyes and muttering, "oh, here she goes with the Jesus thing"...yes, the Jesus thing. If I'm to be honest about what matters most to me then sharing that is just as important as the glitz and photo ops.  I had a pastor once say that it doesn't really matter if the whole Jesus thing is real or not - living our lives to be good to one another, to find peace and contentment in prayer - what does it hurt?  If it all turns out to be a hoax then our lives still would have been better for the faith we have had.  Well, at least that's how I view it.

So, for me, launching our business is much more meaningful than you can imagine.  It's been in the making for about 6 years now.  It's been a lot of work.  A lot of planning.  A lot of sacrifice.

As we were taking off from Columbus to Houston, I had this intense sense of being surrounded by angels.  I also had a really strong feeling of being supported by my sister and my grandmother.  Both have passed on many years ago and both were wonderful seamstresses.  I never spent enough time with my sister because I was only 3 when she died but I know that my Grammy (the one whose photo is in my Patsy Ann Apron Top pattern) taught her to sew.  For some reason, my mind was flooded with thoughts of them and how excited they both would be if they could see what I was about to embark on.

For all the exciting things that happened and are still evolving from my trip to Houston, I am extremely humbled and grateful.  I have prayed for so long for answers, for a light to my path, to help our family find a way to get to where we needed to be.

One of those prayers has always been for my peas.  Twins are high risk and my pregnancy included a 2+ week hospital stay and then more bedrest and medications to keep them until 36 weeks.  I had to stay on my back 24/7.  Eat laying down.  Bathe lying down.  And when they were born, they were perfect.  They are perfect.  But as time has progressed, we have discovered small things that have been stumbling blocks in their development.  Multiple things.  And this long complicated puzzle we have slowly watched year to year as they grow, started to come together within days after I got home from Houston.

I won't go into detail as it is quite private but it was a moment, when I was sitting watching clinicians perform assessments and I was sobbing as I watched.  It's heartbreaking to see your children struggle and feel helpless.

And as the days progress, and our business grows, I see that the Lord HAS answered those prayers.  For that exact moment brought new realities for us and new challenges and I could see now, that THIS was the time that HE had chosen for our family.  This was, this IS the right time.  For many reasons.

Sometimes, when we pray for what we want, it's hard to be patient and wait.  And not know if you'll ever get what you asked for.  I didn't exactly get what I asked for but I got what I needed, what our family needed.  And I am humbled.  And grateful.  And for the 6 years we have also waited on a diagnosis for our peas, I am thankful to know what, how, and where to go.  Mothers just want to do it all for our kids, make everything better but there are some things, I just can't do.  Those are the things that make me cry.  Then.  And now as I write this.  Because I just want them to not be frustrated, or struggle, or to give up.

I think that since my husband and I have made certain that this business is a full on family affair, it's given our peas a sense of pride, and ownership, and accomplishment.  They are part of the success, what little ones we can claim at the moment, and we wholeheartedly celebrate everything that those beautiful girls are to us.

This post may not have made much sense to you but the spiritual side of this experience has been very heavy on my heart.  I do feel God's hand in all that we do and I do feel extremely blessed, for whatever may come, I know that God always has a way to provide for us.  Now more than ever, it's an answer to a prayer.



Devil won't get me down...

You know how some people seem to have all the worst "luck"?  I'm not one of those people BUT I do seem to have weird random things happen to me.  Frequently.  Right?  (my friends can attest to this) This past week, I awoke Monday morning to a zit just inside my nostril.  Fab. U. Lous.  For sure.  By Tuesday night, my entire face was starting to swell.  By Wednesday night, my husband was referring to me as "something from Planet of the Apes".  It was not a pretty site.

By Thursday, my doctor who I paged Tuesday night and saw first thing Wednesday morning, had referred me to a specialist and they wanted to admit me to the hospital and surgically open and put in a drain tube in order to help this "little infection" along.  At this point, I was on this little cocktail.

Two different antibiotics plus a third that was a topical cream and a boat load of Motrin for pain.  My teeth were killing me!  By Friday, I went in for "surgery" and for a stay that they said would be about 3 days for IV antibiotics except about 2 hours before we went in...I started to get better.  At least I thought so.  I took a picture before I got in the shower that day and then showed my doctor that photo up next to my face and said, "SEE!  SEE!  Looks a little better doesn't it?!".  He didn't look very convinced but he finally agreed that I did seem to be a teeny tiny bit better...and so he said we could hold off for the moment and see how things go.  RE - FREAKING -LIEF!

Last summer, I had MRSA.  A result of an insect bites I had around my ankles...and then a visit to my Dad who was sick and in the hospital.  Scratch, scratch and about 2 days later, I little pimple on my leg appeared.  A month later, I was walking around again and starting to feel like myself.  I have had all kinds of just random weird stuff with myself, my husband, my kids...medically, or otherwise and I swear...sometimes I just wonder...is the devil trying to get me down?

Here's the thing, no matter what your "higher power" is you believe in, there's always something that seems to counteract it.  For me, I'm a Christian.  I'm Lutheran in fact.  Born, raised, wavered, and committed.  For me, Jesus IS the way.  And so, I wonder sometimes, if the louder my voice gets in terms of increasing blog readers or success with trunk shows or releasing my pattern line...if "somebody" wants to quiet my voice?  Sounds like a conspiracy theory, right?  Well, it is!  I know that sounds crazy but...it could be anyone.  It could be YOU.  If YOU are ever in a position in which others are looking to you for any reason, I think you are a target.

There are many things within a day, a week, a month that can get you feeling frustrated and overwhelmed and uncertain.  I think that when we are feeling vulnerable, uncertain, overwhelmed, frustrated, tired...that's when "he"...in my case, I believe, "the devil", sets in to tear you down.  I guess he thinks that's when he can best reach you.  Get you to make bad choices, give up, doubt yourself.  And many times, I fall for it.  I doubt myself.  I think I can't do it.  But, I woke up today, with this swollen face, and thought, Screw you Devil.  I am so behind on work and everything in my life.  But Not today!  Not me!  I put on my game face, my imaginary football pads and growled!  Bring!  It!  On!  I will not be defeated.  I will not give up.  I will not be discouraged.  I just won't!

I have faith in a higher power.  I believe that I am following a path that God created me to follow.  I believe that when given an opportunity, I will share that my GOD is a mighty GOD and with Him by my side, I have no fear, no doubts, no worries.

Take that swollen planet of the apes face!  Hrumpf!



My tummy is so thankful

Life is busy. Each of us runs our own race.  Work.  Family.  Obligations.  Trying to figure out just what it is we were made for.  At many points of your life it may not seem so obvious.  But then unexpectedly, someone, something, gets you to stop just long enough to take a breath and remember what is important.

Frequently for me, it's Carla.  Carla is our business partner.  Spiritual leader I call her.  When my anxiety gets the best of me and I feel like I'm not good enough, I can't get it all done, or I feel paralyzed from pressure (right?  we all get that sometimes?  tell me I'm not alone here)  Carla comes to the rescue - she is quick to pull out scripture that hits home.  I'll read her emails and they'll say, "We need to talk about the profit and loss plan, period.  Next sentence, God loves you, he will never abandon you...and beautiful scripture and discussion about a particular verse.  Her emails make me cry.  Sometimes because of the deadlines for the business...LOL...mostly because they keep me grounded in keeping my eye on the true prize that we have in Christ.

I have come to realize that many of my close friends do that for me...they are really good at lifting me spiritually when I need it.  I feel like such a slug because I have been so "needy" these last months...ok year?  Maybe?  Challenging ourselves, dealing with punches that roll our way, pulling ourselves up...I wonder if I give back as much as I receive.  I want to be better at it...and I feel like sometimes I'm so wrapped up in ME that I'm missing out.  I'm going to focus my prayers there for awhile...

Carla, aka the gardeners Aunt, is the bestest cook eva!  She showed up at our house for one of our meetings with this...In this cooler, in the boxes, bags that accompanied it contained precut, precooked, prepared meals for lunch, dinner and snacks for an entire week.  I know, spoiled aren't we?!  Check out the menu she brought!

Can you see it?  Seriously spoiled are we!

You should know something about me.  I love to eat.  Good drinks.  Delicious foods.  It's by far my favorite form of entertainment.  I love to go out to eat at good restaurants.  I love going to parties.  I love potlucks.  I especially love when a gourmet cook brings me a weeks worth of dinner...made with love.

It was a great week...

Giveaway?  Oh yes, we do have a winner to announce.  Mr. Random Number Generator...#30, thepurplecloth!

Thanks Chantelle for sharing your talents!

{ps forgot to mention!  I have some cute fall and halloween shirts up in the shop...limited supply.  A few more sizes may be available but mention "fat and happy" in the comment section of your purchase and receive your shipping costs refunded! }



Life only gets clearer...

Each passing year, it seems like my life only gets clearer. What I thought I knew at 20 was like what I knew in the 1st grade.  Just beginning to let all of this new knowledge soak in.

What I thought I knew at 27 is worlds apart from what I knew at 37.  At 27, I had just gotten married, quit my job, moved to a new city and for the first time ever, left my little apartment life I had become secure in since I was 20 and lived in a home that was my very own with a yard and a garage and my own washer and dryer.

When I turned 29, I had two amazing little sweet peas blessed to my care.  I don't know how we managed but somehow we did.  I learned a lot.  I learned that when my Mom and Dad tell me they love me, that the kind of love they are speaking of fills up the space of the whole world.  I never knew how much my Mom loved me until I had a child of my own to love.

When I turned 34, I made a lot of stupid mistakes.  I thought I knew what I was doing but the truth was I was so completely lost.

Now that I'm less than a year away from 40, I feel like I can finally see all the pieces of my past fitting together to lead me to this place.  The journey is so important.  Without the lessons, the learning, the making mistakes, the successes, the trying new things, expanding and pushing myself, working hard...without my husband, my children, my family...the journey wouldn't be worth any of it.

From where I stand now, I can see why God chose my husband for me.  He is forgiving, and passionate, and giving, and the best Dad ever to our girls, he believes in me, supports me, fixes things that break, takes care of me when I'm sick, dreams big dreams with me, and never lets me go.

My children have these amazing endless imaginations, good spirits, positive attitudes, huge smiles all the time, good eating habits (ha!), and a faith relationship with God that I can't even begin to comprehend.  I don't ever remember having a relationship with God like my girls have at this age - the depth of their understanding in faith inspires me.

If I had gotten to where I wanted to go when I wanted to get there - I would have missed so many important things along the way that have taught me about myself and what I can and can not do.

It's a forever kind of journey and so I guess, I'll just keep enjoying where I am and appreciate what looking back does to remind me of how far I've come as a wife, mother, and as ME.



{a heavy heart}

It's been a strange few weeks as of late. I want to be a glass is half full kind of girl but mine has soured milk in it and it's making me look over my shoulder and say, "hey, who put this here?  This isn't good".

Started with best friends of ours announcing they were divorcing.  Felt like a sucker punch to the gut.  Totally didn't see that coming.  Just decided they'd be best friends to one another but just wanted different things.  No hard feelings.  Just wanted to move on.  My heart is heavy and grieving for the loss.  The first one of the week.

The second loss came days later.  Do you remember not long ago, back here...where I was sharing with you that we had a friend we were helping to care for with terminal cancer?  His wife was not / is not well.  She really didn't have the capacity to advocate for his care in the end and we tried to get social workers to intervene as they could to make sure he was comfortable and cared for properly.   I'm starting to think maybe his wife has Alzheimer's because her behavior has been erratic and mean and down right, kind of crazy.  She either has called here to yell at my husband about silly things like, the fact he didn't gas her car up (that still had half a tank full) on a Sunday afternoon like she wanted.  He offered to come at 8am the next morning to do it but that just made her mad.  But she has called here at least twice to yell at him, curse him and then hang up on him for not coming right when she called saying she can't depend on him for anything.  He'd call our friend and say, "Good Morning, this is Mr. Preston..." and "click!".  So odd since she has doted over our family for years and years until her husband got sick.  And like a switch, she just turned on everyone.  She's hung up on neighbors calling to ask how her husband was, responding with "ain't none of your damn business" and then "click".  She started to become very unpredictable with her temper with our friend.  Nursing staff was worried.  I know she must be scared about being alone and her own failing health but she made it very difficult in the end.  She had every nurse on pins and needles and cursed at all of them and at her husband every time she saw him - he'd call our home everyday upset, in pain, and crying for help.  It just wasn't the way you want the end of your life to be.  I think we helped him have some bright spots and gave him love and attention he needed since he had no children of his own.  We made him part of our family.

The one night about 3 weeks ago, when we just decided after supper to go and see our friend and take the kids turned out to be a good decision.  He was still up and on his feet.  I wrote this after that night...

"One of the peas said in a whisper when we were there last night, “can I ask Bob if I can give him a hug?”.  The gardener said, I think he’d like that.  Go ahead.  And so she asked, “can I give you a hug Bob?”.  He said of course and they both got tears in their eyes.  One of them 9 years old, the other almost 90.  I know there’s a heaven but the real human part of me can’t help but to still be frightened about the end."

Bob went on to heaven yesterday morning.  He was a good man, a good friend, and our family will miss him.

The first thing one of the peas said to me when I told them, "Mama, that's a good thing, right?  He's in heaven now and he's all better and happy.  Right?  This is a good thing, right?".  Comforting words from a 9 year old whose next sentiment was, "Does this mean NOW we can play with his wheelchair?".  It's been sitting in our garage for the last 2 weeks since we took him to the hospital and they've been begging to sit in it and push each other around.

God's peace Bob.  Your work here is done.  You did good.  Rest and be well.  We will see you soon.



How do you measure success?

How do you measure success? What defines success for you?

I've been chasing a dream.  A dream of me being successful in many aspects of my life.  In a job that has been my career all my life in the environment.  As a wife.  A mother.  A friend.  A sister.  A daughter.  A seamstress.  A designer.  An artist.  A writer.  An active community volunteer.

My husband asks me frequently.  When will you know you've been successful?  I thought I had clear milestones that as I reached them I'd know.  But as in life, things change.  Your pathway to get where you are headed is full of curves and steep hills to climb.

Nothing comes without sacrifice and hard work. You don't get anywhere by sitting back and taking the easy way out.

I have always known that come one day I will not be judged for how many students I have helped along the way or how well I stitched up an idea or how good dinner was that evening.  Every day is a success and I don't have to have it all in order to define success for me.  Or so I keep telling myself.  It's already been achieved.  I am loved for being just as good as I am today and no more.  By my family, friends and most importantly, by the God that created me to be me.  And I wonder if I needed to go through all those steep hills and curves to come to that conclusion.  Because I sure haven't felt that way or had that truth before.

For today, what is important for me?   I love working on the sewing patterns.  I love making one of kind items where I just randomly throw things together.  I love to sew for my family and friends and even for me.  I love to sew for others too who I don't know via my etsy shop.  I love working on projects for magazines and sharing ideas.  I love what I do at my university job and working with students. There is joy in all of those things.  I love to read.  Hike.  Try new recipes.  Spend time with friends.  Go to the pool in the summer.  Watch movies.  Blog hop.

Success for me is defined each day that I feel like I gave my best and I don't regret at the end of the day that I could have done more.  Good enough is going to be good enough.  My dreams have already gone way beyond what I ever imagined and each day that I try to push myself and keep reaching is a success.  Every day.  Success.  Achieved.  {but that should give some explanation why I decided to shut down custom orders for a bit on my etsy shop - taking a few irons out of the fire}

It's like worrying that the house isn't all clean for company and then you just let that go, relax, and just enjoy your company because life isn't about the stuff it's about the relationships.  My "business plan" is that messy house so I'm just letting go and doing what I can and finding I can relax and enjoy all the company without going crazy about how dusty the blinds are.  Make sense?  You know this is temporary, right?  Because being uber busy is hard for me to NOT do.  Please feel free to frequently remind me of this post.

I have met so many wonderfully amazing women via this crafting online community.  Talented, and kind, and supportive, and encouraging, insightful, and smart.  You ARE all hugely successful!  Speaking of success....

I want to introduce you to one of my very successful blog friends who is a super duper editor. Sarah is one of the testers for my sewing patterns and has a terrific eye for finding all of my errors!

I'm mom to three little bundles of energy, 2, 4 and 5. Long, long ago I taught math and worked in the engineering world, but now I am fortunate to stay at home with my little ones. I have loved fabric and sewing as long as I can remember and first learned how to quilt right along with my mother in high school. About four years ago I learned about the world of digital scrapbooking and quickly jumped into designing products for sale. I spend that precious and rare free time making digital scrapbook kits, sewing or baking.

Sarah also has a new fabric collection available on Spoonflower...Count on me. Check out her lovely creations!

Successful in so many ways.  Thank you Sarah so sincerely for all of your help, you are amazing.

What successes did you have today?   Leave a comment, share your blog link, share your successes.

I want to be young forever

I had the strangest feeling the other night.  While watching "The Apprentice" no less.  Sharon Osbourne said something about getting old like her and it hit me, as she sat next to Maria what's-her-name who is like 20 something, that Sharon was indeed, kind of old.  And I'm older than Maria what's-her-name which means I MUST BE KIND OF OLD.  Say what?! Like a bolt of electricity, I seriously got this weird feeling through my body.  Thinking about getting old.  Not being in the bunch that is pregnant and having babies now that my baby is 2.  Thinking about getting older where you can't drive anymore.  And you repeat stories over and over.  And finally, knowing that your body is wearing out or that you are terminal with an illness and you are just living it one day at a time knowing full well, your life is over.

It's depressing.  I mean, I believe in heaven.  I believe in eternal life.  But part of me, well, I still find myself being scared.  What does eternal life really mean?  Does it mean I will get to watch my kids ride their bikes on our driveway and giggle?  Can I still put on pretty skirts and put a flower in my hair that makes me feel good?  Can I sip a Starbucks while sitting on my front porch swing and listen to the birds?  Or snuggle up next to my husband on a cool night?  Forever?  Can I do all of those things, forever?

Friends of ours, that are nearing 80++ and then some, have had some health issues as of late.  The husband has terminal cancer.  The wife seems to be slipping into some dementia and has multiple health problems.  Her only son, (from her first marriage - they have no children together, the husband has no children) has tongue cancer.  The gardener (aka my husband) has visited with the husband almost every day for years now as the husband frequently visits the park and his wife usually sends home a pie a week for our family.  The gardener is doing his best to help care for him and take care of things he needs to get done with their house and all the things the wife can't do.  We now visit him over in the nursing facility where he is at because his wife is afraid to have him at home, feels unprepared to care for his growing needs.  It's sad.  It's scary to watch someone in the final moments of life.  One of the peas said in a whisper when we were there last night, "can I ask Bob if I can give him a hug?".  The gardener said, I think he'd like that.  Go ahead.  And so she asked, "can I give you a hug Bob".  He said of course and they both got tears in their eyes.  One of them 9 years old, the other almost 90.  I know there's a heaven but the real human part of me can't help but to still be frightened about the end.

I don't want to be separated from my children, ever.  I don't want to be separated from my husband, ever.  I don't ever want my parents to not be a phone call away.  I still need them.  I love my life here on earth.  Is that selfish?  Selfish to love this life so much that the thought of eternal life in heaven seems so...unknown, uncertain, so out of my control.

I hope heaven is just like my backyard on a perfect sunny day.  Kids playing and giggling, good food on the grill, and we fall into bed at night with the windows open, a light breeze blowing, and everything is perfect.  That's my idea of heaven.



The great hoax {or great faith}

Is this all real?

I was reading Kate over at Girl Meets Geek and she wrote a post about her faith that included her thoughts about uncertainty about God.  It made me think about my own faith for the moment.

Pastor Art, an interim Pastor who spent some time at our church once said, What if it's all a hoax? What if this whole "God" thing isn't real and the Bible is just a work of fiction?  What if there really isn't a heaven?

He went on to say, What if it's not? What if God is real?  What if the Bible really is fact and not fiction.  What if heaven and hell are both real?

Prayer has been shown to have healing effects.  I found this article that talks about how people who pray and have faith live longer. It improves their heart health.  They tend to have better health habits, tend to be overall more at peace and happier.

And so what if it IS all a hoax?  What good is all that prayer and clean living if when we die, that's it?

I guess, if it is a hoax - I feel like nothing in my life was wasted.  Not my faith, not my time in prayer, not my efforts to live by scripture.  Prayer energizes me.  Makes me feel hopeful.  Helps to center me.  My children have a deep faith and everyday amaze me with their convictions and confidence.  Nothing in their lives has been wasted.  They are strong secure little people and faith in God, real or not, has made them better.

But I do have faith that there is a God.  I believe He created us.  I believe He created science and things like evolution and other complexities of our world.  I believe that the diverse religions and people of the world are His creation and one day it will all make sense.

I frequently sin.  I stumble.  I am so far from perfect - but I am so glad that in prayer I feel forgiven, renewed and nurtured.

What about you?  Do you have faith in a higher power?  Does it give you purpose to have faith?

It does for me.