Friday, December 23, 2011


What a great year we have had making so many new friends.  We have some really exciting things coming for 2012, but today, we wanted to share a story we read.  It is a little long, but so worth the read.
The story was written by Shirley Joffs who lives in Logan, Utah.  A small town near me.

 I was touched by it and asked if I could share it with ya'll today.  She gave me permission.  She also is started a new little business sewing aprons, ect.  Find her on facebook at Shirl Girl Designs.  I borrowed one of her profile pictures from facebook so we could put a face to the story.

Enjoy the season with all your heart.

Christmas Village, Ogden, Utah

 The Magic of Christmas Lies in Your Heart

by Shirley Joffs Dec. 2011

( With apologies to those who may celebrate the winter holidays with other names, the intention of my story today is universal in spirit.)

As I pondered a Christmastime story, I found it difficult to focus on just one aspect of the holidays. M y feelings were a little like the season tends to get....stressed out, too busy, trying to 'get it all done', making all of the plans to make everything just perfect. In a moment of weakness, once, I tentatively suggested that we break with all tradition and just go to a warm climate for a week or two and do something entirely different The look on the faces of my children and grandchildren was of complete horror and disbelief.. much for that idea.  But now that the tree is up and the gingerbread cookies made, I realize that I really would miss the traditions too, and I begin to focus on the important aspects of the season that I really do appreciate, particularly as a quiIter since that is our common tie here... .and this is what I want to share.

I believe that it is unique to quilters to easily blend the past and the present. We are often drawn back to old quilt patterns, vintage fabrics, traditional uses of quilts, pioneer stories of how quilts were made and used and appreciated; on the other hand, we are excited by new patterns, new ideas and methods, beautiful new fabrics. We use both hand and machine quilting, but we quickly cut reproduction fabrics with our trusty rotary cutters or even cut out whole quilts in a matter of minutes with magical cutting machines. Christmas is a little like that for me I'm drawn back to days gone by, even as I shop for the I pad and put up the artificial tree; and while I hum traditional carols, I hear "Grandma got run over by a Reindeer" in the mall.  We can't avoid some of the plastic world, but being a quilter, a maker of handmade treasures, an addict of the creative process of quilting, gives us a special opportunity to make holidays to remember for ourselves and future generations. So here is my wish for all quilters....

First, that as you "cut", remember to let C stand for Caring, and carefully creating and choosing gifts that uplift, encourage and cheer others. I saw a wonderful suggestion for gifts on an email message, In addition to your beautiful quilts and fabric items, give services like a manicure, a day of  house cleaning, a car wash, a date night for a couple that can't afford a sitter, a sewing lesson for someone who has shown an interest in learning, or a breakfast date for a grandchild. Services keep people working and show how much we care. My husband would be disappointed if he didn't get his certificate for a massage or a pedicure. It's something he would never buy for himself.
My second wish is that as you Handsew, remember to let "H " stand for Heart and Hearing and not "Hurry". So often I listen with my motor running. I'm thinking of what I'm going to say next, or I'm thinking of something else entirely. Really Hearing is an art that is a lifelong lesson for me. Hand sewing, putting on a binding, always slows my world down and helps me listen better. Better yet, being with grandchildren teaches the patience and hearing that I think I missed with my own children let hand sewing remind us.
 My third wish is that as you "re-sew"... .as we always have to do, let "R" stand for rest and relaxation. I usually have to "re-sew" when I have pushed a project, tried to sew too fast or let myself get tired. There is something so restful about just staring at the Christmas tree and its reflection in the window. One of our family traditions at Christmas is to go for a slow ride with our children and now grandchildren, and look at ail of the different lighted homes. Sometimes we try to guess who lives there and what they must be like. For me, setting aside a day for a gift exchange and lunch with friends gives me a time to look forward to relaxing, forgetting for awhile all of the "doing" and just "be".

And my fourth wish is that as you Iron, remember to let "I" stand for Icing on the cake. So often we settle when we could excel, we appreciate when we could 'relish with gusto', we hum when we could really sing. Icing on the cake is about the really 'special' things we do. I make gingerbread boys every Christmas; I've made them for 40+ years now. I found the recipe in an old Sunset magazine and, with a homemade cookie cutter I can make the little figures dance, pray, do yoga, swim.. .whatever my family is into for that year. Those special things and activities get represented on the gingerbread tree.
Two years ago we were icing the cookies and Emma, my now 8 year old was helping. The icing tube went berserk and put a huge glob of icing on the cookie and without a thought I said "Lord A Mercy". We laughed so hard and then Emma said, "Nana, we should call the cookies with lots of icing, "Lord A Mercy Cookies".... So now they pick through the batch looking for Lord A Mercy Cookies because they love the sweet icing.

Life and quilting are like that too. When we make mistakes they can become blessings.
May you have a "Lord A Mercy Life Experience Daily" Think of Icing when you iron...

My fifth wish is, that as you sew, also let S stand for "show and share". I feel sometimes that I do a lot of telling and not as much 'showing' by example. Just as we stand up in Guild meetings and show and share what we have done and therefore who we are, we do so by our lives every day. On our trips to Disney World with our grandchildren, we would often see frustrated, tired parents screaming at their crying, sad children, "I've spent a ton of money to get you here so you WILL have fun, by George, so stop crying and start having fun!!!" Our sewing and our Christmas celebrations can be like that if we aren't careful. Spending a lot of money does not a successful experience make; hence the fun of a scrap quilt where we use what we have is like a quiet night of telling Christmas stories together. Or teaching a child how to make cookies by really letting them get their hands in the dough... .1 Immmmmm. could it be that those we love want us to show and share ourselves and not our expensive gifts with them...
My sixth wish is that as you thread the bobbins and needles, let "T" stand for Trust. It is so easy to get grouchy, even judgmental of the flurry that seems so far removed from the real Spirit of Christmas, but just as those trusty sewing machines, sergers and quilting machines serve us if we oil and clean and service them, we can Trust that the Spirit that is at the heart of Christmas, whatever our faith or belief, will be there if we seek it out. It often seems that the thread breaks or the bobbin runs out at the most inopportune time, but if we focus on the thousands of times that it doesn't we can trust So, on the occasion when we think that our Faith has failed us, let's fill up the bobbin again, thread the needle once more and trust.

My seventh wish is that as you Measure your fabric, M might stand for Mastery. I've told you the story of how I didn't measure my first hand-pieced rail fence quilt. I just blithely sewed strips together in a color pattern. Not one block was the same size... .a good quilter convinced me that I should not throw them all out, and she helped me "square them up", which I had never heard of. I keep that quilt in a visible basket to remind me that we all start somewhere. I make similar mistakes every day in life, but as the saying goes, "God isn't through with me yet" so I can"t let that stop me. How many times have we failed to notice that the ruler is not straight on the cutting pad when we slice through a beautiful piece of fabric. Measure twice, cut once was my father's rule in carpentry.  Probably the most important mastery we will learn in life is the art of trying again and again.

My eighth wish is that as you Applique, you will "ask" for what you need, what you want, and what you love. Whether it is by machine or by hand, applique is that special embellishment that says you are willing to take time to do it. Asking to have our own needs met is that special way of valuing ourselves, avoiding becoming a martyr and the anger and confusion that it creates. I thought early on in my marriage that Eric should 'divine' my needs, that is, know them before I even knew them and meet them..if he LOVED me. Asking is simply fair communication.
I used to be a potter. I carved out a little tiny spot next to the water heater to put my wheel, in a dark basement, near the furnace. My friend visited and said, "Oh, no, this will never do... .you are too fine a potter to treat yourself like this, ask for more.. .a space with light, elbow room..." Wow! That was one of life's best lessons for me.. .It may be something as small as a good seam ripper, an iron dedicated only to your sewing room, a new blade for your cutter, or a quilt kit that you've admired, or it could be a "date night with a partner or friends" or even a hug when you feel down. Don't ALWAY S put yourself second or you might get what my Mom called 'sour' on life.

My ninth wish is that when you sit down to sew, you make "S; stand for "Sing from you Soul" Sometimes I have to pinch myself when I realize how happy I am when I am sewing. I look forward to it, I relish it and I miss it when I can't do it..,,. .sounds like love to me. We quilters are fortunate that we have something that we love so much. If we take it as a lesson, we can remind ourselves that everything else we do can have that same kind of love if we live in the moment. Some sage person said, "Wherever you are, be there." So when we S, stand up from sitting and sewing, let's remember to take with us that same delight in life, that same attention to detail, that same willingness to make and mend mistakes, that same love of creating something beautiful in our world and with the people we love. In all we do, let us Sing from our Souls. Eleven-year-old Jackie Evancho, the singing sensation who has been featured on PBS this month was asked what she feels when she sings. Her wisdom was amazing. She said, "Something just takes over and feel soooo happy and relaxed."
And then, oh, my, you should hear her sing.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.
Janice and Marcea