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.

Work: Blessing or Curse?

 

Image courtesy of Creative Commons. No attribution required.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men. –Colossians 3:23

It was over 20 years ago. The door had firmly shut on the job of my dreams –teaching – and, after I got over my major, extended funk, I realized this was an opportunity to pursue another one of my life’s interests – writing.

So I got a job at a local newspaper writing feature articles.

I loved it! I wrote human interest stories with a positive slant. Interviewing folks fascinated me, their stories intrigued me. I had the best of both worlds: a job I loved and freedom to set my schedule and choose my topics. But I was too stupid to see it. I wanted a position on staff, not be merely a stringer.

So when the society page editor resigned, I stepped into her position. I didn’t like it as much as writing people stories, but I was caught in a “climb-the-ladder-to-success” scenario. Excuse me, trap is a better word.

Fast forward a year or so, and I found myself in the editor’s office. Editor of the entire newspaper. I hated it. I hated the hours. I hated the politics. I hated everything about it.

In his book If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat, John Ortberg tells the story of a man who was offered the presidency of a university. A Quaker, he called together a half-dozen Quaker friends to help him discern whether this was truly a calling from God.

When asked what he would like about being president, he told them all he wouldn’t like. Finally, when asked a third time, he came face to face with the real reason he even was considering it: “Well, I guess what I’d like most is getting my picture in the paper with the word president under it.”

“Parker,” one man asked, “can you think of an easier way to get your picture in the paper?”

We can laugh, but that’s where I was. I liked the words “editor of the newspaper” behind my name, but there was no joy. I was absolutely, totally miserable. The mother of miserable.

Fortunately, I didn’t last long. I went to another newspaper, where I continued to write my devotional column, plus another column about my former town and also covered board meetings.

My sister’s death in 2003 made me realize I still wasn’t fulfilling my God-given calling. I was letting money and prestige dictate my job choices.

When you’re fulfilling God’s purpose for you (see Psalm 138:8), joy will fill you. Your work will be a blessing. But when you’re out of sync with that calling, uneasiness, restlessness, joylessness, and even downright misery will rule the day. Work will be a curse.

It takes courage to step out of the rut we’ve carved for ourselves, take off the masks, and leave the comfort of the known.

But remember, God has a plan for your life (Jeremiah 29:11), and He will guide you, direct you, prepare the way for you, walk with you, go before you, and provide for all you need.

Commit your way to the Lord, and your plans will be established. He will make your steps firm (Proverbs 16:3 and Psalm 37:23–24). In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will direct your path (Proverbs 3:5–6).

Why not ask God what He wants you to be doing? His answer may surprise you – and will definitely delight you.

Thank You, God, for giving me satisfying work that uses the talents You gave me, fills me with joy, and fulfills Your purpose for me. Amen.

Read and meditate on Matthew 25:14–30.

© 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.