Archives for the month of: August, 2013

On my to-do list was this:


Happily, I can check it off!





I didn’t think this one through entirely. Having made a couple of paintbrush rolls in the past (found here at my old blog), I didn’t plan this one out too much. Hence the height and ties on the wrong side. But I did plan out the pockets, and as it is lined with batting, the whole thing is quite secure – perfect for travel!

Whew! So nice getting things accomplished! Little more than two weeks to go!




I wonder if I will be able to get a latte in Sunderland as luscious as CREMA’s. (Only coffee in Berkeley, CA, can compare.) I’m thankful for one last cuppa before I go!

One of the hardest things about preparing for this move has been culling and paring down sewing supplies. Fabric is the stitcher’s paint palette, but we cannot blend new colors on our brush. We must buy new fabric instead! My sewing machine is coming with me to England, and since I cannot take everything, I am trying to find ways to create practical things.



I found some practice blocks from a quilting bee and some precut pieces from a friend. Perfect for a few zipper pouches! If all my sewing basket can fit in them, I will be pleasantly surprised – miracles happen!

This post is a collaborative effort that came about via facebook status exchanges. When my “cousin” (i.e. the guy who befriended me after he bought my cousin’s house) was at Starbucks recently, he overheard some Christian girls talking about Christian guys, and he was inspired to write an anonymous letter to single Christian ladies. He then invited a counterpoint from a lady to the fellas, and I took the bait! Below is our exchange, used with permission (you can find my cousin’s blog here).


He writes:

Dear Christian girls talking at Starbucks:

1. It’s okay to like guys. No, seriously – it really is.

2. Yes, I know you’re “married to Jesus” (and so am I, if you want to get technical) and you’re being careful to “guard your heart”, but there’s no reason for you to be incensed or put-off by a guy just because he likes you. 

3. Yes, I know how much you love the romantic story in that blog you read about the guy who descended down from heaven, accompanied by two cherubim sprinkling rose petals and gold dust everywhere, and scooped up the girl in his arms while saying, “I am your appointed future husband, sent directly from Father God himself.” But remember that 99.9% of love stories look nothing like this – and I will bet you all the streets of gold in heaven that you’re *probably* not going to fall into the 0.01%.

4. You don’t need approval or permission from a church leader to be in a relationship with a guy. (Who told you that nonsense, anyway? Oh, right – a church leader did). If you think you need such a stamp of approval, please do all of us guys a favor and take yourself “off the market” while you work out your issues (we thank you in advance).

5. Before trying to “line up your destinies”, maybe you should first figure out if you and the potential guy can hold a normal conversation with each other for more than an hour. After all, most of your “destiny” is going to be comprised of these day-to-day occurrences.

6. Stop trying to “line up your destinies”.

Now go and enjoy your freedom 

(Also, ladies – what are 6 things that Christian guys talking at Starbucks need to hear? Bring it!).

I respond:

I’ve not been at Starbucks enough to overhear guys talk about this topic, but I would suggest the following:

1) If you like a girl, cross the room, talk to her, and state your position clearly. Don’t wait for God to tell you to pursue her. This is an act of faith on your part, so the cliche “God can’t direct you if you’re standing still” applies.

2) If you are not interested in a girl, do not share deep emotional stuff with her, and help guard her from sharing too much of her emotional stuff with you. Be wary about the tendency we have to try to get our emotional needs met in one another. It is not kind to “be there for a sister” out of compassion when she is forming an emotional attachment to you that you do not intend to pursue. Being emotionally available to a hurting woman is the equivalent of handing a guy a lingerie catalogue.

3) Stop flirting. Just stop. If you’re not romantically interested in her, err on the side of being kind and overtly tell her you see her as a sister, then start calling her “sister” to remind her.

4) Bathe, but don’t bathe in cologne.

5) Treat every woman with honor and respect, not just the one you’re interested in. Open doors, give up seats, help carry heavy objects. See your favorite octogenarian good ole boy for more specifics on how it’s done.

6) Have a life – God is not your hobby. Be interesting – have 3 things you engage in other than work and church. Action movies and video games do not count as separate hobbies.

7) Learn how to waltz at the very least – and then have the confidence to lead, even if you only know the basic step. Don’t bother learning how to dance like a skank (can guys be skanks? I don’t even know!)

So what do you think? Bear in mind, Tennessee is the buckle of the Bible belt, so it’s about as easy to find evangelical Christians here as it is to find Orthodox Jews in Israel. These suggestions may well be bound to the unique culture that is the South, but then again, they may be more universal than I realize!

My neighbors – at least for the next 4 weeks – are having a baby! About a month ago I felt like this particular little girl required a quilt from me.



Baby Ari’s quilt was made by stitching swaths of fabric together into one long rectangle. Then I folded it up and sliced off strips of various widths. Those strips then came together in a sort of log cabin pattern. Backing is a vintage sheet, binding is black and scraps, and the finished quilt is not quite 41 inches square.

Ari’s baby shower is Sunday. It will be my last shower for awhile since, from what I understand, baby showers are an American cultural phenomenon. I am so happy to be able to celebrate my friends in this distinctly American way!

Cue the tears. Despite my task-oriented brain’s attempts at bullying them into submission, I do have feelings, and they are being put through their paces.

This week, a song on the radio reminded me of a fiddle tune my dad played throughout my childhood. Instantly I was crying, realizing I won’t have the opportunity to hear those sounds for a year at least. Calling my mom with a quick question about banana pudding yielded similar results. A good-natured tease “correcting” usage of the term “fall” rather than the more British “autumn” pushed a button. Suddenly I was aware I had feelings of insecurity paired with fear of being either misunderstood or forced to give up parts of my cultural identity in order to have friends. And I don’t think being a purdy little lady with a Southern drawl and grin will be nearly as disarming in England as it is here.

I’ve been thinking about other loves, too. Contra dancing. Creeks and rivers so warm and clean you can swim in ’em. Fried okra and fried green tomatoes from the back yard.

It is not an easy thing to give up. My heart knows it and feels more deeply than is practical to admit. But even if I don’t express it much, it’s true. There’s nothing to do but just let those feelings wash over me, admit they are there and acknowledge them. I love my family. I love my friends. I love my land and my city and my culture, and I will miss them significantly.


Current playlist – themes of fire and water


Making progress! Baby steps… has spoken, and the winner is…


Congratulations, Sarah! Your fabric will be on its way soon!

Thanks to all who entered, thanks to those who popped over to find me here, and thanks for joining me on my adventure!

Every day something else comes off a wall. Or out of a cabinet. Or it moves from a shelf to a pile. There are piles all over my house. I’ve taken over the living room. Open suitcases on the floor, stacks of “keep if I can”, “definitely keep”, and “oh my Lord, can I even do this” create a chaos that my gracious roommate doesn’t ask about. I’ve pared down my art supplies significantly, but there’s still more. And there is a short list of sewing projects to facilitate organization (i.e. zipper pouches and organizer rolls) with materials pulled aside. My “give” pile is a globular mass, and there is a bag of dishes in my car in case I see that one friend sometime soon.

My to-do list is 30+ items long, and it is mostly centered on logistics:  change name on bills; change address; ensure insurance coverage continues; buy cornbread mix and hot sauce and fajita seasoning; figure out the phone.

I have a visceral reaction when someone suggests adding something to my off-work hours. Birthday parties, goodbye parties, and baby showers are all booked. Six weeks from today I will be well over jet lag.

And my day-to-day looks like this:  coffee or tea and a quick minute to read the chapters in my daily Bible reading plan; schlep 2-3 bags to the car, ranging in content from “something special” to create with my charges to clothing to change into after the baby is done gnawing on my straps; drive; work; come home; eat; numb my mind on Tumblr or Facebook or Pinterest; move a few objects from where they’ve been to a pile; think about what little detail I could get done; sleep.

And in that drive, the real exhaustion sets in. It is the time where I go on autopilot, and I am completely alone but with nothing else to occupy my time. That is where the burden lays on thick. The plans are run through with a fine tooth comb. Short term memory strives to commit ideas to long term memory but is running on a deficit.

Although this move is motivated from my heart and spirit, the majority of my preparation has been cognitively-driven, and I am overwhelmed. But my heart is also going through convulsions. The evidence is in how easily I bawl through a Disney movie, or those sudden splurts of fond memory, accompanied with the knowledge that distance will soon preclude the creation of new such joys. To let the emotion have expression entails an expense of energy that I don’t seem to have available.

And I call this stress.

But today, something switched.

In a rare moment of an afternoon off, I was reading my daily Bible, but honestly just when commercials came on as I streamed a cooking show. Nevertheless, a thought occurred:  what if I chose to be excited about all these little details that have been weighing me down? What if, instead of letting anxiety accumulate, I could see each bit of the minutiae of this transition as a joy?

Because the reality is this:  I am preparing for a life-changing adventure I could not have anticipated, I could not have planned, I could not have orchestrated, I could not have imagined. 30 March 2013 had me believing my heart could never be content anywhere but Tennessee.

And then everything changed. I have been homesick since leaving England. I have lived for three months knowing I was to return but having no solid plans. Now I have a home to move to and meaningful occupation awaiting me. And my sobs and bawling for my position to be in place have been exchanged for tears of anticipation and the joy of knowing I will see certain ones again.

So this is my conclusion. I have believed a lie that an inter-continental move must be stressful. But the truth is that I can choose.

So I choose, starting today, to submit these anxious thoughts, plans, and ponderings to a spirit of thankfulness and joy. Not that I am “naming and claiming”, because my struggle has not been one of faithlessness in God’s ability to provide and see it through, but I have been overwhelmed by the sheer volume of details requiring attention. So I choose to remember that just a few short weeks ago I was longing to be released to make preparations. And I choose to remember that each detail is part of the working of a dream-come-true that is this adventure.

I get to love you through/ Whatever comes/ What a privilege

I get to love you through/ Whatever comes/ Oh how sweet it is

Nothing’s going to take your praise out of my mouth

As long as I shall live/ As long as I shall live

‘Cause He’s a great God

–Kristine Mueller-DiMarco, “Praise the Lord”