Thursday, May 12, 2016

Long Term Stitches

I should have never told her that I was bored. 

Or maybe I should have.

All I know is that I went from complaining that I was bored to having to make a quilt. What teenage girl wants to sit and do that? Some might, but not me! 

From old clothes to scraps of leftover material, I had to sew patches together, one by one. I've never been good at sewing straight seams and this was the ultimate test of my patience. But today, thanks to that summer of boredom, I have a beautiful finished quilt that I treasure. 

We just celebrated Mother's Day and it's a good time to be reminded that if we want to create families that last, we must be patient and make stitches that will hold them together through all kinds of experiences. They are what I call long term stitches.

There are so many threads of positive traits my parents sewed into the fabric of my life. Not only do I have a beautiful array of material to spread on my bed, but I also have an assortment of healthy lessons and good work ethics that my parents gave me.

What are you stitching into your children or someone else that you love?

As I reflect on my upbringing, I realize there are 3 lessons I learned from the quilting experience with my Mother, for which I am thankful.

1.) Use boredom as a springboard to create something special. 

  • Don't just sit in front of the computer or tv. 
  • Read a book together, pull weeds, tell stories, play games, make a quilt, ride a motorcycle.

I'm so thankful that when I have a free moment, I am generally anxious to put that moment to use. I think that must have come from my parents who valued spending your time wisely and though I am quite sure I complained about having to make a quilt that summer, I can assure you that I am very glad she made me find something creative to do with my time.

2.) Teach them the value of long term stitches.

  • Help them see the value of a finished project.
  • Teach them how to see something through to the end.

I remember when I was living in Oklahoma, attending school. I had moved out there to attend Bible school and become skilled in studying the scriptures. However, while I was out there, I discovered a school that interested the musical side of me. I went to check it out and was eager about switching to their school to study music.

I was on the phone, telling my parents about this new possibility when my Father gently encouraged me to finish the schooling where I had already started. I could always pursue the other training later, but he wanted me to follow through with my previous decision.

I'll never forget that advice, and I'm so glad I kept my commitment. When I finished, I moved to Florida and met my husband, thanks to an opportunity I learned about at the school where I finished. But if I hadn't stuck it out, I would have most likely never learned of the opportunity in Florida, or met my husband. 

3.) Teach them that even small pieces and "scraps" can be used and made into something special. 

  • Affirm them for small accomplishments.
  • Show them how they fit into a bigger picture.

When someone you love makes a mess of something, or does something seemingly insignificant, be sure to help them see the ways it can still be made into something beautiful or the reason it is still significant in the bigger scheme of things.

I spent a few years in the banking industry and though I enjoyed the people I worked with, I soon became bored with the job. I did administrative tasks that felt insignificant, like clipping ads from other banks out of newspapers so that the VP of Marketing could see what other banks were doing. I would squirm when bank Executives walked by my desk. I hoped they knew I wasn't just sitting and reading the paper. There was a purpose to my job!

Those years could seem like a waste, but the truth is, I have been able to use those administrative skills in my music ministry and keep accounts of expenses, income, booking information, traveling details and so much more. I scan for ways that other people in my line of work are operating and try to learn from them, just as I was doing for my boss when I clipped the ads of other banks.

Some of the material used in the quilt my mother had me make were "scraps" of material. Leftovers. Old dresses that I outgrew. But through careful planning and creativity, we were able to find a use for them.

That's the kind of value you can teach your children, your friends and anyone you come in contact with. Help them appreciate the scraps and leftovers in their lives and believe that it all fits into a bigger plan. After all, creating anything of lasting beauty takes long term stitches of patience, foresight and encouragement.  

Thanks to my Mother,
I have this beautiful quilt that we finished together.