Friday, August 25, 2017

A Lesson in Sewing

I like to finish what I start.  I mean, who wants to be a quitter?  No one likes failure.  To get over some obstacle standing in my way I usually coach myself through it by saying things like, "Are you going to let this beat you?" and "You can do this!"

Once in a while, though, I realize I'm not going to win.  No matter how hard I try, it's just not going to work out the way I want it to.  It's hard to swallow my pride and admit defeat, but that jagged pill goes down eventually and I move on.

However, I learned a lesson recently.  My sister Molly is a great example of seeing things from multiple angles.  She opened my eyes, through her own experience, to learn something from a project I've been working on.

I like sewing.  It's a fun little hobby.  I'm no professional, but this isn't my first time either.  I started working on a dress for myself last month.  As a mother of three, I expect projects to take a while.  I just work on it when I can and eventually it gets done.

This dress, however, is a different story.  First, I didn't have enough material for all the pieces.  I decided to add in some other material and get creative with the design.  (Uh, that's always a risk.)  Then, as I completed the top part, I tried it on to make sure things were fitting right.  WHAT!?!  Major problem. The top wasn't fitting the way it should.  I checked the pattern; I checked the pieces. I couldn't tell where I had made the mistake.  Or maybe the material was making it fit differently?  Maybe it was just the pattern?  Either way, this dress didn't fit.  I didn't have any more material to start over.  I'd either have to fix it somehow, or scrap the whole thing.

I got to thinking of ways to fix it.  It would mean unpicking work and redoing several pieces.  That didn't bother me too much.  I learned from my mother that when you sew, you gotta be ready to unpick and redo work in order to get it right.  My main concern, however, was what I saw in the mirror.  I couldn't tell if I'd even like the dress.  If I did manage to fix it, would it be worth it?  Would I put in all this work and end up with a dress I only wear once?  (That's happened to me before, so...)

I decided to call my mom.  As the seamstress who taught me pretty much everything I know, I figured she'd have some perspective and help me iron out this little wrinkle.  I was surprised when she suggested I just forget the whole thing.  What!?!?  Give up??  

In that same conversation, she also managed to put wind back in my sails (moms are amazing at doing that) and I decided to go ahead and try to fix it.  Even if it didn't work out, I reasoned, I could turn it into something else - like a skirt.  I wasn't ready to admit defeat yet, and with renewed energy I set to work fixing the pieces.

I fixed, and fixed, and re-fixed.  I attached and detached pieces.  Surprisingly, I didn't feel frustrated. Maybe this dress was a challenge for improving my sewing skills.  The fixes I made did work.  But, then another challenge would come along.  Hmm... what to do?

I pray pretty regularly, so when I hit the first snag, I prayed about whether it would be worth finishing.  I had this thought, early on, that maybe this dress was meant for someone else.  That thought made me feel cheery, and I think that contributed to my overall good attitude.

After all the changes and fixes, the thought came again, that this dress was well-made, but made to fit someone else.  Despite all the improvements, more design flaws appeared based on how the dress fit ME.  So, maybe it isn't meant for me...

Sometimes as we strive and strive to do something, we look around us and see only failure.  We aren't getting the results we hope for.  Maybe, we reason, we just need to try harder.  So we try harder.  Still nothing that looks like success.  Are we wasting time and energy?  

In my personal scripture study during the week, I was reading from the Book of John chapter 4.  It's the pleasant and layered story of Jesus talking to the woman of Samaria. I like that story.  But, buried in the verses, I came across this statement from Jesus. 

"...One soweth, and another reapeth." John 4:37

Ah-ha! See! Jesus is telling me that someone else will reap what I have sewed!

Okay, I couldn't help that joke.  It was just too perfect.  But, Jesus does goes on to explain that it's not a simple formula of "I reap what I sow".  There's a mixture of efforts that includes other people, not just me.  And that makes me happy.

This dress will move on, to be reaped by someone else.  Whoever does receive it will have to put in some labor of their own since it isn't finished.  But I hope she will be inspired by what I have started.  Or maybe she will be inspired to turn it into something else!  

I don't exist only for myself. Whatever effort I make in this life, is for the good of someone.  Maybe that "someone" is me, maybe it's someone I have in mind already.  Maybe that someone is coming along to finish what I started weeks, months, or years ago.  The real success comes when I put in honest effort, learning and growing along the way.  The outcome might not be within my control, but I can feel happy knowing that every good effort sowed, will produce good fruit. (Matt 7:16-18)

Ahhhh.  Now I'm free to go sow... I mean sew, something else.

The dress that I sowed for someone else. 

Friday, February 24, 2017

Oh So Rosy

Life is so rosy with Rosy!

You can see she's scared, but I admire how she stops her crying to scoot just a little, cry some more, scoot some more.  I can relate to those feelings...


Jane: "Awwww!"

Flex Some Muscle

Life.  Yikes, it's complex, isn't it?  Good days, bad days, life-changing events, boring normal events we don't even remember. I'm not the best example of being in touch with my feelings, or recognizing stress, but I think we all have those moments of feeling sad, powerless, happy, and often grateful.  

Looking back on the last few years, and especially this past year, I am amazed at how much has happened.  This morning while reflecting, I realized something. The daily tests of emotional and physical strength slowly build up stamina and ability.  When we need those muscles and "muscles" - speaking figuratively - they are there ready to work for us, lifting us and carrying us through whatever new thing life is throwing at us.  It's kinda like this... 

I don't have a regular exercise program, except wrestling three kids and a diaper bag. Yet, I'm constantly doing things that test and try my muscles.  And this morning, looking in the mirror, I discovered this.... 

No way!  How cool is that!?!?  Kinda feel like saying, "Bring it!"

We don't have to be body builders - speaking figuratively too - to be strong.  We don't have to go through a constant barrage of tough things to be strong enough to handle our own personal burdens.  Each one of us, day by day, is testing and trying our limits and slowly increasing our ability to handle whatever comes our way.  

And not only that, we all have countless family, friends, and random kind strangers who help remind us that we don't have to do it all by ourselves.  There are others who lend their strength to ours and share our tears of joy or sorrow.  That is super cool.

Rosy's first word

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Kidzania -- Crazy cool.

Soon after arriving in Jakarta, we decided to take the kids to Kidzania.  Nils read about it in a list of cool things to do, so we thought we'd give it a try.  It's located inside a mall where the whole family enters through "immigration", taking us to a "world" run by kids.  Kids learn by doing various activities and careers.
Kidzania main square.  I like how they make the room look bigger with the painted sky.
Jane learns about the hotel industry.

Harry had to get a "physical exam" and go through the process of getting a "driver's license" before he was allowed to drive. Pretty cool. Fill 'er up!
Jane tries out a modeling career. 
Need your windows washed?  I guess Harry wasn't worried about bonking his head...
Definitely a fun experience! The kids had a blast!

Monday, August 22, 2016


I'm tellin' ya, these kids were amazing on all of the three flights getting here. As you can see in this last flight from Seoul to Jakarta, Harry is completely out. It was great for the flight, but when we got to our new home he was the only one not sleepy. He got into a little trouble while the rest of us were unconscious. 

Our new paradise.

View from the taxi window. 
Jane's first day of school. 
The rest of these pictures are from the Indonesian independence day celebration at the American club. So fun!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Life is Sweet - Sugar Rush!

Life hasn't been dull the last few months.  Hmmm... How to describe it?  Allow me to use a previous illustration....

Lots of great things going on, so don't mistake me for complaining.  Allow me to hit some of the highlights.

During my months of pregnancy I enjoyed playing floor hockey with some local ladies.  Totally fun!! Here I am a week before the due date.

Baby born.  So very, very cute!  Delivery went well.  Recovery went well (a large part thanks to playing floor hockey!).  Nils got sick and got to stay two extra weeks. Bad for Nils; good for all of us.

During that extra time that Nils was here, we decided to buy a new house.  As of today, we are able to start moving into our new home in Providence!

I went a little crazy this year for Easter and made everyone matching outfits.  Thankfully Grandmama helped with Rosey's dress (featured in a later picture). 

Nils' grandfather died.  Papa is greatly missed.  We had the opportunity to attend his funeral all together in South Carolina.  Nils came from Afghanistan and we met him there.  We also sang a song for Papa, featuring a touching solo by Jane.  Here's a link to the recording. (Sorry, it's not captioned, but here is a link to the lyrics)

Rosey's blessing/Easter dress made by Grandmama.  We were able to bless Rosey during Nils' recent visit. And as luck would have it, she was blessed on Uncle Toby's birthday!

In other news... We have (almost) sold our townhouse!  It's currently under contract with one of the cutest, most enthusiastic buyers I've ever seen.  We feel very fortunate that things have worked out so well. 
 Because Nils has had to live thousands of miles away from his family these past months, we are taking a family vacation to Ireland in May!  It still seems too good to be true.  Looking forward to having pictures to post of that trip!