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DeDe works patiently. She has carefully cut out the fabric, rearranged the pieces, and pinned them together in new and unexpected ways. The hum of the sewing machine in rhythmic and soothing. DeDe works slowly to create the quilt that will cover her bed and wrap her in warmth.

Every quilt represents the embrace of a relationship. In a quilt, as in life, we collect scattered pieces and random moments. We stitch together the frayed edges and join with other battered hearts. At last we hold a completed covering of colorful shapes and textures. One day we look back on our lives, and we can see the whole pattern of the time we shared with others.

To construct a quilt, we need a few tools:

IMG_0063Fabric gives warmth, comfort, and color.

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Batting adds softness and depth.

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Tee shirts hold special memories of shared experiences.

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A ruler measures the edges and keeps the seams straight.

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Scissors cut away what doesn't fit.

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A pincushion protects our fingertips from sharp points.

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Thread holds all the parts together.

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And a seam ripper helps us correct our mistakes.

We could invest in expensive fabrics and tools, but we don't have to. We can use what we have available and appreciate that we will always receive what we need.

DeDe works patiently, because a quilt can't be finished in a day. A life can't be built in a year. We work together slowly to join all the pieces and enjoy the intricate tapestries we create.

I'm enjoying the time we spend making this quilt! Keep watching this website to see what happened when these pieces started falling into place.

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What is falling into place for you today? What tools are you using to bring the pieces of your life together?

 

 

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Towering above Hannibal, Missouri, 244 concrete stairs lead up the hillside to the Mark Twain Memorial Lighthouse.

We ground through the laborious climb, one tortuous step at a time, gripping the metal handrail and gasping in the humid air, until we finally stood, swaying, on the topmost step.

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We journeyed for the view from the top. Through a break in the trees we watched the Mississippi River flowing peacefully far below.

We barely had time to catch our breath before starting back down the 244 steps to the street and the car, but we managed to find a few insights along the way.

We built courage.

A fall on the sharp, stone steps could have been back-breaking. To complete the climb we had to keep looking forward, stay focused on the beacon at the top, and patiently plod toward our goal. We confront our fear of falling when we look past the cracked and crooked steps and just keep climbing.

We helped our companions.

The walk is too long to tackle alone. To make it all the way we need a hand to hold onto, someone to pull us onward when we grow tired, a friend to encourage us when we feel like giving up. Friends propel us forward when our goal seems distant and difficult.

We gained perspective.

When we look down from above, the world seems still and silent. The sky is cool and clear, the wind blows the trees, and the river's dark currents flow without our consent or command. We realize that our power is very small, the world is bigger than we imagine, and only God gives us the strength to put one foot in front of the other.

We will always have new mountainsides to conquer and steeper steps to climb. The only way to appreciate the view is to muster our courage and make the grueling trek to the top. We can never guess what we will discover when we get there.

Where is your climb taking you today? Who are your companions on your way up?

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Long ago a lonely girl lived with her father in a lighthouse. On a scrap of paper the girl wrote, "My name is Esmerelda. I live in the lighthouse on Petri Island. Write to me." She put the paper in a bottle, sealed it with cork and wax, and threw the bottle into the ocean waves. Months later the mail boat brought Esmerelda a letter from the boy who had found her bottle on his beach. Esmerelda and the boy wrote letters for many years. One day the boy arrived in a rowboat and took Esmerelda away to be his wife. They lived happily ever after.

I don't remember when I read that story, but at ten years old, I went with my family on a summer trip to St. Louis. I took along my school picture with my name and address written on the back, put the picture inside an empty cough medicine bottle, and flung the bottle into the Mississippi River.

I remember the gray water slurping at the black mud on the shore and the gray sky stretching above it. The bottle bobbed downstream. I went home and eagerly awaited a letter from my new friend.

I'm still waiting.

I often feel I'm pitching my prayers out to sea and watching them drift away, only to wait and wonder when my rescue will arrive. But I'm developing a few strategies to help me be patient while I anticipate my answer.

Enjoy the view from the beach.

The sun rises over the water each morning. Warm breezes blow. Birds call, circling overhead. The world is bright and beautiful. I rest and appreciate the calm of peaceful skies and the rhythm of turning tides.

Use whatever washes ashore.

Driftwood endures the turbulent waves, abrasive sand, and battering rocks to emerge polished, smooth, and shining. I am grateful and collect all I receive to build shelter from the rains. I have more than enough for fires to warm the dark night.

Answer another's S.O.S.

Sometimes a message from another castaway floats into my harbor and lands at my feet. Then I paddle my little raft through the choppy seas and carry my companion to a new, more comfortable, and safer shore.

I have made many friends since that summer on the Mississippi River bank. We are no longer alone, but huddled together, calling for the Captain who commands the wind and waves, and scanning the distance for signs of his arrival.

I think I see a ship on the horizon.

What are you waiting for today? How can you answer another's call while you are waiting?

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We curled together on the sagging old sofa and pulled the quilt up over our pajamas. We ate popcorn and watched movies on the old 13 inch TV screen. The night outside was black and cold. The house walls were thin and drafty. The quilt had a scratchy blanket backing, but we stayed cozy, safe, and warm beneath it.

I love quilts. Quilting is a metaphor for what God does with our lives. He collects scattered remnants of our hopes and dreams and stitches together a beautiful new tapestry of bright colors and textures.

I've enjoyed making many quilts:

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I made this throw-size flannel for resting and watching TV on long autumn evenings.

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I made this fun floral for my daughter for Christmas.

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These scrappy squares are cut from old blue jeans, sweatshirts, and a flannel nightgown. It now covers the daybed in my office.

I love the softness, coziness, and wrap-around warmth quilts provide; but I love quilts more for all they symbolize.

Quilts are comforting.

Quilts are made for snuggling and snoozing under layers of warmth on long winter nights. They are soft and safe places when the world is hard and dark. Quilts feel like home and haven, family and love.

Quilts are covering.

Quilts are shelter from winter winds and roaring storms. They are symbolic of God's spreading wings, offering refuge and peace. Quilts give protection from the elements that threaten our calm and happiness.

Quilts are memory keepers.

Quilts are visual and tangible reminders of the special people who created them. The quilt with the scratchy backing was made by my daughter's paternal grandmother. I remember Darlene's door was open to everyone, and she faithfully baked cakes and pies for every family gathering. Quilts live forever to tell the stories of the people who have taught us and the lessons we have learned.

As a mentor I am privileged to share what I love with others. I am blessed to be helping my friend DeDe sew a warm and comforting quilt of her own.

Keep watching this site for instructions, tips, and photos of our progress. Check back again soon to see what became of these:

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Do you have a quilt that is special to you? What memories do you keep in the warmth of its embrace?

 

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"You just loosen this bolt and take off the cover. See how dirty the air filter is?" Greg held the dusty filter up toward the light. He dropped a clean air filter into the tray, replaced the lid, tightened the bolt.

My classmates leaned forward to watch Greg's callused hands work quickly under the car's open hood.

When I got my first car, I learned how to fill a gas tank and turn a key. No one told me to check the oil, the coolant fluid, the brake pads. For too many years I bought old, cheap cars and drove them until they croaked. Too many times I had been stranded outside the laundromat or the grocery store. My small hometown did not have a bus system. I needed a running car to get me to work and school.

I enrolled in Greg's "Do-it-yourself Car Maintenance" class. Greg showed his students how to check oil levels, change the oil and filter, gap spark plugs, change tires, and replace a battery. He lectured us about the importance of brake fluid, antifreeze, and new wiper blades.

I learned something significant from the guy with the callused hands and greasy shirt.

We have to work to take care of what is important to us.

When I take care of my car, it lasts longer and gets me where I need to go. When I nurture my friendships, I build strong relationships with people who support and encourage me. When I honor my goals and priorities, I grow and move forward toward my destination.

With regular maintenance our lives move more smoothly. Cars run better. Relationships flourish. Goals become reachable.

Neglect only leads to more problems. Cars break down. Relationships crumble. Progress stalls. When we neglect to maintain the important things long enough, we get stuck and abandoned on the side of the road.

God never leaves us alone on the roadside. When we work to maintain our faith in him, he will pick us up and drive us wherever we need to be.

What is important to you today? How do you maintain it to keep it running well?

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traffic-sign-108779_960_720[1]I rinsed the shampoo out of my hair and shut off the water. I dried off and got dressed while trying to keep my towel and clean clothes out of the puddles on the floor.

When I had walked from our tent to the shower building in the middle of the campground, the sun was just beginning to set. When I pushed open the shower building door and stepped outside, the sun had fallen and the campground was dark.

I was twelve years old and raised to be independent. I was used to walking all over my small hometown alone, and I wasn't afraid of showering alone in a strange campground.

But now the campground was dark, the only light shining from the poles around the shower building. The gravel driveways to the camping sites radiated out from the center in all directions. Each driveway looked the same, a gravel path lined with tents and RV's. I picked the path I thought led back to our tent and started walking.

My flip-flops crunched quietly on the gravel. Campfires flickered on both sides of the road, surrounded by strange and shadowy figures. I heard laughter in the distance, and music from a far-off radio.

I walked slowly to the end of the road, but I didn't see our tent or station wagon, so I turned around and headed back toward the lights of the shower building.

I chose again and walked a different path. I saw the same dark night and flickering fires, but no familiar tent or car. I turned back and tried again, over and over, moving faster every time, fighting the rising panic in my heart and the choking tears of fear and confusion.

Finally, I turned and hurried to the shower building to try again. A flashlight beam bobbed toward me through the night, and my brother asked, "Where have you been? It's dark out here."

I have walked many paths in my life. Often I start out feeling confident and sure of my destination, only to wind up wondering where I am and why nothing looks familiar. Many times I have turned back and started over, trying again and again to reach some goal that seemed shadowy and unclear.

If I had stayed near the light and safety of the campground shower house, my brother would have found me, and I would have been safe in my sleeping bag much sooner.

If we stay still and keep calm, God will come to find us. He is always out there searching, and he will lead us on the proper path toward home.

Have you ever felt lost and afraid? How did you get found again?

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woman-1006100_960_720[1]In an episode of the Tim Allen sitcom Last Man Standing, Mike confronts his daughter Mandy for taking her nephew's ADHD medication to score better grades on her college finals.

At first Mandy becomes indignant and denies taking the drugs. "Other students use ADHD meds to study and take tests, but I wouldn't," she insists.

Mike says nothing, but fixes his daughter in an unwavering gaze and waits, patiently.

"But it would only be fair if I did, because if you don't, you're basically at a huge disadvantage," Mandy reasons.

Mike frowns, but stays silent.

"If I had taken them, how would that be any different than energy drinks or coffee?" Mandy asks.

Mike watches her.

"But I didn't take them."

Mike waits.

"OK. I took them."

Mike knew his daughter, and no amount of denial or evasion from Mandy could conceal the truth from being revealed.

God knows the facts about each of his children, and no amount of denial or evasion from us can hide the truth he already knows.

I've confessed in an earlier post that I battle an anger problem. Beneath my sweater-soft exterior lurks a fury that has been known to hurl profanity and plates with equal abandon. Just ask my husband.

Today I prayed, "God, I am angry, and you are unfair," but embellished with many expletives and exaggerations. And I know my outburst was no surprise to God. He already knows my nature and has been watching my temper tantrums for many, many years.

But I was surprised, because once I named it, my anger felt easier to tame. Once confessed, my feelings seemed easier to control. After pouring out my heart to God, I calmed and did not throw a single plate.

God wants to hear our true feelings in prayer, because feelings revealed are often relieved. He is never surprised or offended by our honesty. When we confess all to him, God is faithful to forgive and set us right again. He watches and waits for us to come clean, because he cares and he knows the truth will always set us free.

What are your honest emotions today? God wants you to share all your feelings with him.

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Single moms have always made amazing accomplishments. We have worked hard to raise our families and fulfill our dreams. Below are ten well-known single moms whose stories have inspired others.

Chris Affleck divorced when her son Ben was 11. Years later she accompanied Ben to the Academy Awards when he won the Best Screenplay Oscar for Good Will Hunting.

Maya Angelou became a single mother when she was 16 years old. Angelou wrote a best-selling memoir, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. She recited her poem "On the Pulse of the Morning" at President Clinton's inauguration.

Mary Kay Ash raised three children after her first marriage ended in divorce. Mary Kay went on to establish Mary Kay Cosmetics and to inspire thousands of beauty consultants to achieve success.

Naomi Judd supported her two daughters by working as a waitress and a secretary. Naomi and her daughter Wynonna later became the Grammy Award-winning country music duo The Judds.

Virginia Clinton Kelley lost her first husband in a car accident, and her second husband was a physically abusive alcoholic. Virginia's son Bill became President of the United States in 1993.

Coretta Scott King, continued to work for civil rights and raise her four children after her husband Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.

Toni Morrison raised two sons while working as an editor and college professor. She also wrote award-winning books including: Song of Solomon, Beloved, and The Bluest Eye.

 

J. K. Rowling was divorced and living on government assistance before writing the best-selling Harry Potter series. She is now one of the wealthiest women in Great Britain.

Debbie Phelps worked as a middle school principal and raised three children after her divorce. Her son Michael won 22 medals for Olympic swimming.

Sofia Vergara  raised a son after divorcing her high-school sweetheart. She received four Golden Globe nominations for her role as Gloria on Modern Family.

Millions of single mothers work hard every day to support their families and pursue their goals.

Whose story inspires you? Who encourages you to be an amazing single mom?

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