Grandma’s Quilts


“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” –Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

I received my first patchwork quilt as a Christmas gift from my husband’s grandmother over forty years ago.

Grandma loved to make quilts. She’d spend the year gathering discarded clothing, cutting the square patches, then piecing together a mix-match of colors, patterns, and fabrics. Over the years everyone in the family had received at least one of her patchwork quilts. And none of the quilts was the same. Each was one of a kind.

Grandma’s quilts weren’t masterpieces to be displayed at fairs, bought for a high price, only to hang on someone’s quilt rack, unused, because they were too beautiful for daily wear and tear, the countless washing and drying that would leave them faded and worn.

No, Grandma’s quilts were made to be used. We used ours—as both bedspread and blanket in both our home and our camper. They served as warm wrappers at early spring baseball games and as seat cushions on hard, sometimes rough bleachers. And when they were beginning to show wear and tear, they still had plenty of use left in them as picnic or beach blankets.

Grandma’s quilts weren’t delicate, falling apart after only a few years of use. After forty years, I still have a few around, and they’re still in good condition. My grandchildren use them for sleepovers.

But Grandma’s quilts serve more than a physical need. They’re a symbol of life itself.

First, they remind me that recycling is an important part of life. And not just recycling of paper and glass and cans. But of plans and hopes and dreams. Very few things in life turn out the way we plan. But we can go on because we can take those discards and reshape and rearrange them for a new purpose.

Second, the patchwork reminds me that an all-light canvas has no contrast, no depth. The dark times in our lives teach us compassion, humility, and persistence, and strengthen faith and trust. Without pain and trouble, we would be shallow persons indeed.

Third, the quilts remind me that it’s okay to be “common.” I’d rather be an everyday vessel in the hand of God than a treasure of beauty set on a shelf, admired but unused.

Finally, just as each quilt is unique, each life is unique, planned and pieced together with threads of love woven and designed by the Master, God Himself.

Dear God, thank you for being the Master Quiltsman of my life. Thank you for the way You piece together dark and light, rough and smooth, solid and patterned, plain and showy, for a unique creation to be used for Your glory. Amen.

 Read and meditate on Lamentations 3:21–26.

(c) 2008 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

Pushing Through the Pain



In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. –Romans 8:37 NIV

My 15-year-old granddaughter Madison loves volleyball. So much so that she spent all summer working to stay in shape for the upcoming season. Good thing, because when volleyball practice started, the sessions were intense and physically demanding.

“It’s a good thing you love the sport,” I told her when she described the grueling (to me anyway) exercises she had to do.

Imagine her disappointment when, after the first match, she sustained an injury to her back. She texted me from the chiropractor’s office: “I’m out for two weeks or longer.”

Then, on top of that, a sinus infection kept her home from school the day of the second match of the season.

But don’t stress, Grandma. Right after the “I’m out” text, she sent me another one: “Never mind. He said if I do special stretches and go to the trainer, I can play.”

She may return to her beloved volleyball on Monday, but her injury, which affects her sciatic nerve—and you know the pain that comes with that—won’t be healed for at least two weeks. But she’s going to play through the pain and sinus infection because she loves the sport with a passion.

Then there’s her older brother, Brent, a senior. He decided last year to go out for football, changing his sport from baseball.

I had my reservations. I know these players take a pounding, and Brent suffered some serious injuries playing baseball, including at least one concussion and a compound fracture of his upper arm.

“I’m going to buy you a big roll of bubble wrap for your birthday,” I told him.

But Brent set his goal to make the team and began a self-imposed program of endurance and strength training. He put on weight and studied the game. And made the team.

He scored the first touchdown of the season for his team (and the first touchdown of his career) in the first game. And the team voted him, a first-year-player, as their captain. (Grandmas are allowed to brag.)

Imagine his frustration (and mine) when, after all that work and all he’d accomplished, after that first game, he ended up with shin splints. And you know how painful those can be. So down to the trainer he goes. But that hasn’t taken him from the game he’s come to love.

“The only way they’re taking me off the field,” he told me, “is on a stretcher.”

Yes, this tangled bundle of bandages and tape came off Brent’s leg after practice.

And so he endures ice baths and miles of ace bandages and tape.

I recognized a familiar disappointment that settled in my heart. My own kids were involved in sports and also suffered pains and sprains, which I felt kept them from performing their best.

But now I look at my grandchildren and their determination and grit, and I realize that no one who truly plays a sport escapes injury. If you give it your all, you’re going to get hurt. It’s just the nature of the game.

And the nature of life itself.

We’re all playing with pain, aren’t we? Whether it’s physical, mental, or emotional, whether it’s apparent or hidden. We’re the “walking wounded.”

I used to think it was better to back off when pain flared. It’s human to want to avoid pain.

But we can’t live our lives in bubble wrap. Pain, I’ve learned, can develop our character, strengthen us, and drive us to the One who has a plan and purpose for it. Now I’m seeing the importance of pushing through the pain and giving life my all.

Like my grandchildren, we have a choice. We can moan and groan, wallow in self-pity and bewail our luck.

Or we can man up and push on, refusing to be benched—until they take us off the field on a stretcher.

“I have come that they might have life,” Jesus said, “life to the full” (John 10:10).

Are you living life to the full?

Help me to embrace all You send my way, O Lord, even pain, knowing You have a plan and purpose for all You allow in my life. Grant me sustaining grace and a willing spirit. Amen.

Read and meditate on Hebrews 12:1–13

MORE TEA: Some quotes on pain

I am not a theologian or a scholar, but I am very aware of the fact that pain is necessary to all of us. In my own life, I think I can honestly say that out of the deepest pain has come the strongest conviction of the presence of God and the love of God.  ~ Elizabeth Elliot

God never allows pain without a purpose in the lives of His children. He never allows Satan, nor circumstances, nor any ill-intending person to afflict us unless He uses that affliction for our good. God never wastes pain. He always causes it to work together for our ultimate good, the good of conforming us more to the likeness of His Son (see Romans 8:28-29).  ~ Jerry Bridges

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(c) 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.