I love answering the question, “What is God doing in your life?” I love that the question implies that God is active and energetically busy, and He is involved in my life as an individual. It implies that He is interested in connecting with me, and that He is not ambivalent or far away. It implies that He communicates with me in a way I understand, and He understands what I say back to Him.

Of the two of us, He is the smarter. He is the wiser, the more capable. As Reinhard Bonnke says so gently,

“…The Christian God does it the other way around. He spreads the table for His children. And in the other religions, people always seek God. In the Christian faith, God seeks man.”

My heart needs to know I am sought-after. So many circumstances would try to convince me otherwise. Having followed God to England this past autumn, having given up life as I’ve known it and embraced to the fullest of my ability what I felt He was asking of me; having faced the unanticipated consequence of heartbreak when I left England sooner than expected, walked through the tears and challenges of putting life together again, and even as I crossed the Atlantic realizing I was coming home to begin a new life with the man who is now my fiancé – coming home a different person, the transformations accomplished bluntly as well as gently; and going from one promise to another, like leapfrogging through a gauntlet, catching a breath before engaging with the next challenge of the heart; having finally found a car but repairs are expensive; having a part time job but a check lost in the mail; having an idyllic living situation but being unable to hide from my heart; I take off my shoes at the door of this truth: the God in whom I trust is active on my behalf. He holds my heart and my every circumstance. I am His responsibility, and it is wisdom to trust Him.

And with every bite of chocolate and every flip through the Netflix catalog, my heart searches for connection with Him. With every tear of frustration and daunting situation, every misplaced expectation on the fiancé or the friends, every pick at every pore, every impulse to control, my heart cries out for Him.

And I am finding Him in my pain. It’s as if my pain were contained in a whiskey barrel, and having purchased it from me, He is content to sit in that barrel until I am ready to address it. There seems to be a difference between ownership and possession. By rights that pain belongs to Jesus, but He waits for me to unlock the storeroom, lead Him in, and give Him possession. Legally, the paperwork has been signed, and in a court of law, His title holds up. But gentleman that He is, He does not press His authority. Rather He waits for me.

I say I’ve given Him the keys to my heart, so in order to unlock it again, I ask for them back. And we unlock rooms together. We shine light into unlit places where the bulbs burned out long ago, places even the rats have abandoned because of the stench. But as much as He goes with me into those places, I find He has been there before me, waiting.

I wonder if all those tears in bottles are spent tears, or tears waiting to be spent. I find I cry to the bottom of the barrel sometimes. I cry out all that pain I denied – how it really did hurt, although I wish it hadn’t. All the pain I avoided by forgiving too quickly, as if forgiveness were a skin graft over an infected wound, rather than the cleansing and restoring it actually enables.

I’ve been forgiving too quickly. I’ve acted as if forgiveness is the antidote to pain.

If I forgive quick enough, I won’t have to feel the pain.

But in the quiet, in the long stretches of nothing; in the draining of the bank account, in the frustration; in telling the story, in the beauty of friends from whom I can’t hide, who draw out truth from me like iron filings to a magnet; in the guilt for avoiding big church meetings or not reading my Bible daily or avoiding the music room or over-sugaring my coffee; I find the truth. I find that it hurt. I find the cuss words and the names of emotions. I find He is there. I find He is helping me. I find the barrel is much deeper than I thought, but as I’ve gone this far, I might as well find the bottom. I find I’ve tipped over the edge of the slippery slope, and I’m falling head over heels down the stairs.

And there at the bottom, where I thought I would land, where the floor is hard and the corners sharp, I find I am caught. I find the safest arms I’ve ever known. I find I’m enveloped in my favorite scent. I find the most absorbent shoulder, the most gentle hands wiping mucous and tears.

I wouldn’t say faith is a crutch because it’s a challenging road to walk. It’s a river that has many put-in ramps but very few take-out points. Once you’re on it, the options are limited: cling to the boat and let the current take you; paddle to the side and refuse to go further; or address that man in the back of the boat, the one with His paddle down in the water, sitting confidently erect, yet at rest, steering with gentle precision that comes with knowing a river intimately. And as a child, or a happy Tiger Lily princess, I can sit in the front, looking ahead, looking back, looking all around. Rapids and storms and gnarly-looking critters, overhanging branches set with spider webs and abandoned bobbers, shallows and litter and slime and stench, the bits of the river that no photographer cares to capture, the un-pretty effects of a life of exchange, the refuse and fear and challenges and uncertainties, these all comprise the view.

But behind me there is Someone steering, and His eyes are up. Confident in His hands’ ability, He steers without looking. And I follow His gaze to see what He sees: the eagles circling, the kestrels in the trees, the heron on the shore poised to take flight.

And someone asks me what God is doing in my life. I pause to sort through the melange of stories, which one to tell. This beautiful infinite complexity all boils down to a kind and tender truth: He knows me, He loves me, and He is passionately seeking my heart.

Now I’m past the halfway point, it’s smooth sailing for me! My latest round of blocks came together nicely and offered a sweet reprieve from wedding planning.

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I am enjoying this section of blocks as it allows for showing off some favorite prints. I also love how I can use small scraps I’ve not wanted to part with. In these blocks they sing!

Sweet fiancé has been out of town these past two weeks and will not return until Friday. I’ve done as much wedding planning as I can without him, and for me that means sewing!

First I got to work on blocks for our guest book quilt.

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I need more white for the rest of the blocks, but thankfully there’s room in the budget for it!

Next I started stitching flowers. I used this tutorial for “dahlias” after tracking down a Pinterest image from (happy surprise!) a fellow Tennessean Rebecca Sower.

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I really love how these are coming together! They are bright and cheery and jubilant, and they will pop against the wedding whites and greys. I’m happy that they will last, too, without losing their color or shape the way fresh flowers do. And since I’m using scrap fabric, there’s little impact on the environment and virtually no waste! I have a plan for leaves, too, so that’s next up on my list!

I’m so thankful for the opportunity and ability to pour my creative heart into our wedding in “sew” many ways! As much as I dislike fiancé traveling without me, I’ve enjoyed getting a jump start on these things that make my heart sing!

I’m excited to start my goal this month. I’ve decided to make a nine-patch quilt as a sort of guest book for the wedding, and now is the time to make the blocks! Here are my prototypes:

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My blocks are each 9.5 inches square, so using this much-pinned method, I can turn out 2 blocks per pair of 10.5-inch squares. I want 42 blocks, so Fiancé helped pick out 18 or 19 fabrics from my stash.

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After seeing what he selected, I curated the collection and added in a few of my favorites. I’ll need a bit more white, but I’m confident I can achieve making the blocks this month!

Linking up with A Lovely Year of Finishes!

Wedding planning is in full swing, but I made time to finish 8 more Tula Pink City Sampler blocks!

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There are so many changes happening in my life right now that it’s nice to have the ability to continue towards a long term goal. In that spirit, I laid out all 56 of my blocks so far!

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It’s so fun seeing it come together. Oh, and I am thrilled to be done with the triangles! I’m not a perfectionist when it comes to bias-cut pieces, but I have methods of making geese and triangles that are easier for me, and Tula Pink does not use these methods. But it is more trouble to figure out measurements needed for my preferred procedures – though they end up being less wasteful as well. So altogether I’m happy I’m done with the trifecta of inefficient-inaccurate-wasteful section of the book! And I’m over halfway done, too! Yay! So many reasons to be happy!

Now back to the wedding planning grindstone ;-)

I love how painting so often reveals my heart. Although I feel things deeply, I tend to address the world through my thoughts and actions, and subsequently I am not always aware of the emotions I experience or why. Painting – especially asking Holy Spirit to connect with me as I paint – helps me close that gap. Sometimes I come away with the name of the emotion I was experiencing. Sometimes I gain insight into the message God has for me concerning my circumstances. But somewhere in the process I connect with my Daddy. He is a beautiful artist, too, and my soul and spirit come into proper alignment again when we spend time together doing something we love. It’s a favorite form of quality time, and I am so thankful for the opportunity (time, energy, resources) to engage with Him. I feel His pleasure when we paint together.

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I set the bar low this month hoping to accomplish more than I intended. And I did! Only this first quilt top was my goal.

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I call it “Connected”, and it’s a 36×48 top, just right as a “soaking quilt”.

This one came together easily, too, although I didn’t officially state it as my goal.

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I think these two make a nice pair! Love the scrappiness of one and the straightforwardness of the other. That Pam Kitty print in the Dresden plates pops nicely against the blue chambray, I think!

Linking up with A Lovely Year of Finishes!

Confession: I’ve been turning out 8 blocks at a time and just posting 4 each week. But enough with the formalities! I have a giant creative endeavor at hand now, so it’s time to streamline the rest of life and let the little details slip by (such as double-checking the order of the pictures!)

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If all goes to plan, I’ll have all 100 blocks done before our wedding. Sewing is stress-relieving, after all!

There’s no straightforward way to tell the story. It started here:

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It took a hard turn at frustration and tears, then course-corrected with honesty. So plans were scrapped and we wound up here:

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Those gorgeous flowers all laid out in their full glory:

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To top it off, I’d made my first successful Victoria sponge cake, not even realizing we’d have this reason to celebrate!

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Topped with a sugared engagement rose!

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Now I have a new hobby: wedding planning! Yippee!

In my community, I’m often the one to answer questions like, “Does anyone know how to hem a dress and has the time to help me out?” But on the other hand, I’m happy to get a message like the one containing this commission: “Would you be interested in making a wristlet for my niece? I’d rather pay someone I know than buy from a random etsy shop.”

Now, there are certain things I’m happy to sew for others, but others are a bit trickier for my little Kenmore to handle. Zipper pouches are the latter. I blame that thick chunky bit at the side seams around the zipper. But I think it worked out ok, and I certainly did my best.

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I was told the niece loves the color blue. (She also loves One Direction, but I didn’t attempt to work that in!) Hope she enjoys it!

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