Quilting A Life


quilt

The quilt before you is my first attempt at something other than square blocks.  In fact, until recently, the only quilts I ever made were square blocks sewn together and my mother would finish them.  I’d help her “tie” them but I never actually quilted them or put the binding on.

I decided after getting a great deal of fabric from mother’s stash that I wanted to dive into quilting.  Knowing my personality I knew I would require assistance.  I searched online for a kit and class I could buy. Craftsy was my source and this quilt was quite the learning experience!

These are my other helpers, isn’t the little girl adorable! I’m a tad prejudice.    Yes, my husband helped because he is a contractor and cuts with precision.  (He’s a trooper for helping me, I would have given up if not for him!)

family-quilt

There were moments of feeling like a failure, frustration, and uncertainty while creating this lap quilt.  Which this reflects aspects of my own life, especially in the past few years, there is more. The bold colors make me happy when I look at them.  Their brightness and solidarity is something I hope to reflect in my own life. Something that is coming in view once more.

All the colors are so very different yet they are harmonious when placed in the same area. They become a union of sorts and create a warm reflection with the soft white bringing them completely together.  Do you long to live this way?  In a common union with harmony and wrapped in the warmth of goodness?

craftsy-quilt

This quilt not only holds beautiful colors and straight lines and areas of strong precision sewing, it holds much more.  For instances,  crooked lines, the fabric that was missed while joining two colors, and the miter corners are pretty rough. When I look at this quilt I feel it represents a few different things but mostly a reflection of life (at least for me.)

My life has so much that is good, warm, loving, and solid.  Yet at the same time it holds messy, sadness, and struggles.  While those threads are unraveling in one area, the threads that are tightly sewn tug even harder to keep the strength up.  I feel stronger with each day.  The process isn’t a quick one, just as this quilt wasn’t to make, but I’ll get there.  I’ll get to the place of balance I once knew.  I’ll be stronger for it and hope to help others from my experience.

If you find yourself in the darkness, whether it’s been for 20 minutes, 20 days, or 20 years you can still step out of it.  Just as the quilt would not be as strong if sewn with loose stitches, rally together a friend or two, a pastor, a doctor, a mentor to help you.  Just start with a baby step into the brightness.  I’m not saying it will be easy, but it will be worth it.

Until next time!

Julie

 

Could It Be a Brighter Time


I was almost too scared to write the title of this post.  As if to jinx the time of my life I am in.

waterfalls

The past 2-3 years have been rough but for a few moments each day I can see the sunshine.  I can feel the calm within and if I shut my eyes, I breathe a little easier.  I can laugh with my husband and welcome a hug from him.  I can raise my head off the pillow and although a tad groggy, I  feel better than I have in a long while.

This comes after making my declaration of spending 2017 focusing on me.  Taking a year to find a better me both mentally and physically.  Being so depleted it is hard to rise from the ashes but I vowed to go slow at it. Less than 30 days in I might still be on the “new life” high, who knows! Let’s go with it, it feels pretty good!

little-bird-says-focus

I will admit I’ve had my days where tears have won out and irritability spawned horrible tones and words from my mouth.  Then the days of wanting to quit or just give up showed their nasty faces too.

But so far the days, or at least the majority of the past days have been enjoyable.  That my friends is a good thing.  Baby steps.  Very baby steps.

I do not blame the place I ended up on any one thing really.  A collection of occurences brought me to a place that wasn’t pretty.  Apologies are owed to others while also to myself.  Appreciation for the tragic moments that build character within me is required.   Stopping the moments of this life from slipping away as they rapidly do is needed. Savoring the time I have with my family, opening my heart once again to showing kindness to others, and just letting sunshine fall across my face is in my future.  Perhaps not tomorrow, but it’s coming, I can feel it.

img_20170126_133323_605

So, when the sun comes up today, I will put both feet in front of me, eat a hearty breakfast to start my day and smile.  Come on, try it with me won’t you? 🙂

Baby steps my friends.  Baby steps.

Julie

 

 

Focus – 2017 Word


little-bird-says-focus

My word for 2017 is Focus.  I have already started a sub-list of things as you can see.

Focus

  • on living
  • on the joy in the moments
  • on my health
  • on the little things
  • on the laughter in my life
  • on the small steps
  • on the love given to me

When I came back today to this post this is the spot where I deleted what I had written. The words that had been so carefully crafted the other day, were no longer good enough to share.

Now I will tell you that after a couple conversations with my spouse I am stumbling into an avenue that I’m not too confident about. It will take a great deal of focus for sure.  As I sat in the vehicle having one of those conversations I finally just said it out-loud.

“I feel like I just want to focus on me. That if I don’t take this time to focus on me I won’t get back to who me is.”  Of course the smart man said, “it’s okay to do that.”  With which I replied, “but I’m not a selfish person, I take care of others.” (I am not a saint, it’s just a personality trait. I’m a caretaker)

That’s it.  I’m back peddling – already.  Focusing on me brings about feelings of guilt and selfishness.  The left side of my brain says one thing the right side says another, then throw in that heart-thing.  Deep down I know I have to do this.  I have to do it to be able to survive with any ounce of happiness and enjoyment in life. This isn’t just about depression there’s more but I’m not ready to share that.

Just need to remember.  Small steps Julie.  No major changes, just minor.  Crawl out of the darkness even if it’s just that.  Crawling.  When you feel tired and weak, grasp to the man that God gave you.  It’s okay to not jump in going 100 miles an hour. It’s okay to admit when it’s hard.

So…. now that I’ve given myself  a pep talk I’m off to slay this thing!

More to come from me I’m sure, whenever I might get the whim to write!

Julie

 

Holiday Season – 2016


Although I’ve struggled some this past December, it’s not as bad as the last couple years.  I don’t feel significantly down due to missing my parents.  I suppose the process of grief and missing someone moves to different levels.  It never totally goes away, you just adapt.  That thing called “seasonal” depression, it normally hits me too, but this year there’s just something different.

It’s not the grief or the more than cloudy days.  It’s more of a state of being tired when even being presented with the simplest task.  The loneliness of conquering it outweighs the multitude of benefits from just “pushing through”

I can think back over the past few weeks of moments of feeling goodness.

When my kids and their kids were at our home laughing around the table before Thanksgiving.

Receiving the photo of my husband and youngest daughter on the chair lift or her standing with skis on waiting to go down the mountain.

The longer conversations with the eldest now that she’s found some contentment with her new role.

Seeing big brown eyes, an infectious smile, and hearing “Grandma Julie” only the way E. can say it.

Witnessing P’s first piano recital and thinking how glad I am she’s not petrified to perform.

The growing belly  and texts from the pregnant momma I call daughter number two.

The glow of Christmas lights and the “perfect” leaning tree we have this year with Pandora and Michael Buble playing in the background.

These are just a few of the nuggets that have made me smile in past weeks.  I look forward to Christmas Eve more than any other day this holiday season.  Because all my children and grandchildren will be at our home, attending church, and opening gifts by that leaning tree.

The gifts they give me will be nice I’m sure but the best gift is them spending time with me. (Oh, and if they would clean up after we eat and open gifts that’d be awesome too!)

May you find joy in the holiday season and hold on if you just can’t seem too!

Julie

The Gal That Danced in the Kitchen


“Mom, you don’t dance in the kitchen any more.”

My youngest daughter said those words to me recently.

Her words were profound.

She’s right.  I don’t.  Hearing these words brought a sense of sadness over me.  Which were followed by feelings of being overwhelmed and out of kilter.  How did I get to this place?

I’ve swerved in and out of this journey with a dark cloud that continues to hover over me. From my best estimates, this cloud was teeny-tiny about 3 years ago.  Just a newborn and then quickly began to grow.

With each moment of anxiety, nervousness, and feeling as though I was failing, that small cloud turned into a massive one with the death of my two parents. There were moments of sunshine that blocked the darkness temporarily but as the days passed by the darkness began to win out.

Now three years later I am in the midst of something I know needs changed.  I awake daily feeling either frustrated, over whelmed or sad.  I look in the mirror and am unsure of who I am. Not to mention I  faintly remember that gal that danced in the kitchen.

So many factors go into this equation that has brought me to this point in my life.  I’m approaching my 46th birthday and know there are decisions to be made.  Life changes and willpower are needed; yet I’m struggling to find a starting point.

It’s there.  I know it is.  Deep down inside this dark clouded mind and sedentary body it sleeps.  The one thing that will bring me back to the gal that dances in the kitchen and smiles more often.

Julie

Wait A Few Moments, It Will Change


Sunset Kansas 2015 July
Pushing Forward with Grace is owner of this photo and it is not to be used or duplicated without consent.

 

When I look at this photo I feel like it says some things about my own life.  Sometimes the clouds will shelter the sunshine that is attempting to shine.  The rays of sunshine still peak out in an attempt to keep striving for their destination.  The undertones of orange and yellow are the warmth and brightness in my life.  The blue above could represent the tranquility of the place I will be when I go to be with my Father.

This photo was taken with my smart phone from my back yard.  The corn field in the lower half is taller than I am now and I had to hold my camera pretty high to get the shot.   I am so grateful that I did get it, because just like moments in life, that view is now gone five minutes later.  We can never get moments back, we can only go forward.  So, to those that feel the darkness of the clouds,  just wait a moment.  For in the next few moments that shine from behind will resonate forward.

Grace is a gift,

Julie

 

 

The Walk To Clear The Mind


As I walked between wheat and corn fields in the early morning some things became easier.  This walk wasn’t for exercise.  It was more for clearing my mind.  While walking, a rendition of “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” came across my playlist.  This very song helped calm me.

 

New life fields

Wondering thoughts and feelings of being unwanted lay present but with each step were slipping away.  As the breeze blows they go with it.  I look back and the sun is there.  A new day is here and it holds so many blessings although I am in a state of less than worthiness. Conflict exists in this Christians demeanor.

“You Raise Me Up” makes its way into my ears and I remember the only one whose love really matters.

God’s.  Unconditional, life saving, and more of a gift than I deserve.

My soul is feeling restoration once again. Slow but sure, like seeping into my veins like the smooth gliding of each wheat head in unison.  Dancing away the morning blues as if they were destined to grow together.  I am as well, in Christ.

I turn to walk back the morning sun shining upon my face.  The corn only beginning to grow is to my left.  They are all just beginning their own dance together.  They will bring nourishment to the world as Christ does to me.

This walk didn’t bring complete calmness but one never really feels that on this side of Heaven I presume.  I will make my journey as I must and take each step one at a time.  The days that start difficult and the days that start brilliantly will co-exist as I live this thing called my life.

Grace is a gift,

Julie

Seven Years Ago – God’s Plan


Seven years ago this week I was buying plane tickets and preparing to leave my two older daughters in Kansas.  My spouse and I had received the news that our third daughter would be born on March 28th via c-section over 1100 miles away.  We were thrilled and scared all at once, and when I think back I can still feel some of the feelings.  

To hear the entire story you can read my post over at In Between the Sunsets of Life and several other stories about adoption.  I wrote a long one there and since then have promoted adoption through a series on that blog. If you know anyone interested in participating in our 2015 Series, please let me know.  I’d be happy to visit with them and explain what we do.  We do it every November.

Mother Daughter Adoption

I wanted to post today how in seven years I have changed as a person. I wouldn’t say the entry of my youngest daughter was the sole reason for my changes but she has had a large influence.  Children bring many things to our lives and I believe we need to value them as individuals in the whole scheme of things.  I didn’t always have that opinion unfortunately but in raising three daughters I have learned a few things!

  •  Trust God more.
  • Surviving colic for several months does really happen.
  • A person can share their knowledge about something they experience to bring help to others and inspire them as well.
  • The image I saw in the nursery will change how I feel about fathers and daughters forever.  That image helped me deal with my own issues.
  • It’s ok if there is a room in your home that is filled with large cardboard boxes. It means the child is using their imagination and they are normally free!
  • Playing games on weeknights is better than TV.
  • Car rides to school bring out the most interesting questions and conversations.
  • That even though she cute as a button she still needs discipline and taught how to do things.
  • Legos all over a table in the cardboard room is better than on the floor where one can step on them!
  • Nightly devotions are a must as a family, bringing God into the conversations of daily life are essential, and listening when she teaches me about all things bible is important too.
  • That living on the farm with  a child teaches a whole different realm of things from the kids I raised in town! 🙂
  • That even if the child didn’t grow inside my body I can’t love her any less than the two I did.
  • God’s plan was so much better than what I had planned.
  • Watching her get off the bus, the dog run to her, their little ritual, and her dashing to the porch makes the long day alone so awesome.

Our daughter turned 7 today.  I can’t hardly believe how it seems the years have went so quickly.   I feel happy and somewhat sad as well.  For I know with each day of her getting older she will change, I will change, we will grow, we will conquer new adventures, and sometimes that won’t be easy.  Perhaps I am more emotional this year because I am finally at peace with my life and in such a place of joy with being home more.  I pray my seven-year old has a life full of joy, peace, and solidarity, and when she does have struggles, difficult times, or uncertainty she will call on the Lord to help her.  That’s one of the main goals in my life I want to accomplish.  I grew up without that security.  I think we have a good start.

So I thank my now seven-year old for the lessons she has and will teach me and to God I am grateful for making this all happen! 

pv and i 2014

Grace is a gift,

Julie

 Photos are owned and copyright by blogger of Pushing Forward with Grace Julie V.

My Story


My Story.

It’s unraveling with each day, each minute, each moment.  It’s taking it’s time, yet also rushing by.  I’m pondering and wondering what tomorrow holds for me, other than whats on my calendar. It’s not consuming me but it’s there.  In my mind just off to the side a little.  Just enough to peak my attention and hold it for a bit.

Wondering if it will present me with a lesson, a love, a challenge, a solution.

Where it will take me.  Far, no where, or somewhere in between.

Grasping that reality is here. I’m living it.  I’m breathing here because it’s right where I am to be.  Right in the midst of My Story.

My story has taken some paths of uncertainty in years but it’s brought me to where there is a more open heart, more love to give, better kindness, and more to work to still be done.

There isn’t a pretty wrapped package at the end of this post.  It’s just a collection of thoughts from my mind.  Just another moment in My Story.

Grace is a gift,

Julie

JV

 

Tip of my toe?


I’m so very blessed in the area of friendships.  I have friends that giggle with me, listen to me silently, teach me daily, and some that push me to do things.  I have a blogger friend that challenges me to blog better, one that gives hugs that are right up there at the top in my books, one that listens while I talk and objectively gives her opinion, one that ever so sweetly listens to my more often than not negative mindset at times, and one that connects daily with me via email so our relationship stays strong.  Most all of my friends are women these days, but there are a few men I hold quite valuable to my life.  They have taught me a thing or two about endurance, to get a stiff upper lip, and to have a strong backbone when needed.  My collection of friends, each one more different than the other, brings joy to my life.  And to be honest, most of those relationships came from me stepping into the unknown.  

Last evening one of my friends and I shared an experience  that neither of us had ever done before.  It included few people either of  us knew, and it involved being somewhat creative. It also involved me being outside my comfort zone.  We attended a Women in Ag event where all the attendees paint the same picture.  The daunting task of choosing colors for my portrait and then actually getting rid of my straight line and even sides attitude took a bit.  But having that friend there on my left made it easier.  Even the strangers on the right made it awesome!

My masterpiece in all it’s glory with it’s non-perfect trees, crazy lines, and the “wind” at the top!

art

 

My point today is…….

Sometimes when I put the tip of my toe on the unknown I end up dancing into happiness.

 Don’t let the unknown hold you back, grab a friend, and ever so slowly put your toe, then your whole foot, then your whole body into that place that eventually becomes  LIFE. 

Grace is a gift,

Julie