Sew and blessed

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A new project, I've been sketching and writing and smudging. This is a new way for me to express thanks to the Lord.

A new project, I’ve been sketching and writing and smudging. This is a new way for me to express thanks to the Lord.

A young bride enters my home.

When she said she didn’t know anything about sewing, she wasn’t kidding.

I felt so smart.

I felt so old.

I also felt blessed.

We spent two lovely hours together. There are MANY more qualified women to teach her about sewing, I told her so. But I felt privileged to guide her youthful steps and wrinkle-free hands. It was a brave thing for her to reach out.

Don’t we all have things we all need to learn but are wary to ask? I do. What if I looked incompetent? Shouldn’t I know that (whatever it is) already? Does everybody know that (whatever it is) but me? These are the musings in my head often times.

photo copy 6She put forth some power to the foot pedal of the sewing machine and I witnessed her first stitches into fabric. Tentatively, she picked up speed and confidence. She threaded the needle, learned about feed dogs (not an animal) and imagined possibilities.

Yesterday after she left, I found time to continue the 21-Day YouVersion Bible challenge. No clue what were the verses in the day’s study, I read Scripture verses nearly custom-made for me. This is what I see.

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works…Teach what is good – Titus 2:3

In my sanctuary, imperfect but welcoming, a beautiful young woman taught me a few things as I instructed her. Hours later, God reinforced the lesson. I needed that especially after celebrating another birthday.

This is cool, join me in this life-changing journey!

This is cool, join me in this life-changing journey!

This aging process, which I don’t always especially enjoy, grants me a chance to celebrate the things my grey, blonde, brown and pink hair have taught me. Sew and blessed all in one winter’s day. Nice.

YouVersion has a bunch of great Bible reading plans. See for yourself how God’s Word can change your life, seriously.

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For the losers, 5 lessons learned in junior high about running for political office

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Don’t let this picture fool you, I was a serious candidate, btw.

I know something about running for political office. I ran for Treasurer back in junior high. This is my advice for all the losers in today’s elections. It’s the least I can do for democracy.

Please feel free to pass this blog post along to the losers of today’s elections. I sure do hope it helps them move forward.

1. Be gracious – When I was running for Treasurer back at Jefferson Junior High in the 1970s, I learned to hold my head high as I walked past those who did not vote for me. And I did so in bell bottom jeans no less. Yes, I wanted to burst into tears upon the news of my failure. Sure, in addition, I was dealing with hormonal issues, what 12-13 year old girl isn’t? Yes, I had body issues, poor posture and pimples but did I seek vengeance on my opponents? NO! It probably crossed my mind but I chose higher ground. Dear losers, be nice even when you lose.

2. Work on your public speaking – I found speaking into the intercom during school announcements absolutely terrifying. Maybe that’s one of the reasons I lost. Not sure. My fellow classmates probably detected the quiver in my voice when I spoke into the microphone. So what did I do about it? Did that stop me from ever speaking again? NO, my friends. After college, I had a career teaching executives public speaking across the country and in three countries. Later, I spoke to over 50,000 kids about super private stuff like waiting to have sex. If you work on your presentation skills, you can channel that skill set into other endeavors. If I can do it, so can you.

3. Stand for something – With nearly three decades to ponder the reason for my unsuccessful bid as junior high treasurer, I think my platform might have been weak. I should have outlined clearer goals and strategies.

4. Campaign ads don’t always work – Trust me. I spent HOURS working on stenciling my campaign slogan on poster board. I bought neon poster paper plus I used brand new, smelly magic markers. WIN with WINTER was my catchy phrase, how perfect but guess what? I lost, people! You can pour yourself into your campaign, develop the slickest designs out there and still not rock the vote. It’s going to be ok.

5. Pursue other dreams. Try other things. If you would have told me as junior high Cindy and that in just two short years, I would make history, I wouldn’t have believed you. But sitting in front of me as I type, I hold the title for being Gala West’s MOST IMPROVED BOWLER – 1974-1975. The trophy sits proudly in my office next to my computer. I’m looking at it right now. Dear losers, may my story inspire you. My dreams were not dashed only diverted.

The coveted Most Improved Bowler trophy, yeah, I got insurance on this.

My Soldier, myself and my trophy. Btw, You can order your own doll at http://stores.oliveshootinstitute.com/-strse-26/Guinea-Pig-Girl-Doll/Detail.bok

Interesting side note – two of my three olive shoots have also run for student body political offices. I’m the mother of two former class senators (Nate and Aaron) and the mother of the student body President (Aaron). Furthermore, as the mama of a West Point grad (Nate), a comparative politics major no less, my public service aspirations or that of my olive shoots will not be revealed but here’s a hint. We will not rule out a future run for office. Stay tuned and be encouraged all you winners and losers out there!

Do you have any suggestions for the losers based on your junior or high school government days? I’d love to hear them! Check out http://stores.oliveshootinstitute.com/-strse-26/Guinea-Pig-Girl-Doll/Detail.bok if you’d like a super cool homemade gift for the holidays!

The girl with the funky arms

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Karen and her hubs

Karen is packed and ready to go to Nepal today.

Tabitha, an “ambassador” for the Guinea Pig Girl doll collection, is with her which is super exciting.

But Tabs (as her friends like to call her), almost didn’t go and that’s because she has funky arms.

I was piecing Tabitha together and fishing her legs and arms out of the side of her fabric frame

When suddenly I see her funky arms

“CRUD!” I think to myself.

Tess the original Guinea Pig Girl doll and Tabitha spend cherished time together before Tabs goes off to live in Nepal.

She looks double-jointed

Seriously

They are so funky Tabitha could be at a state fair in one of those sideshows

or a performer in Cirque du Soleil

“Wow. Tabitha’s got funky arms,” I mutter to myself.

Sitting there on my couch, fairly disgusted at my lack of sewing prowess, crestfallen.

How can I give her to Karen?

But then I heard God’s whisper as He reminds me of a truth. Karen was just a regular wife and mom and now she’s also an anti-human trafficking agent. Through Tiny Hands International, (please, please click here to read about this incredible organization), my friend will encounter many broken people. Tabitha will fit right in.

And then the Lord assured me, I’m a broken girl too. So is Karen. But we are redeemed, precious in His sight. Blameless. Holy. Pure even. In God’s eyes we are saints in fact which is quite surprising considering I’m quite familiar with my flaws. At times they are more obvious than Tabitha’s two funky fabric arms. So it’s all good.

“Let her go,” God said.

But the Lord wasn’t done with me so I espy Tabitha again.

Karen kindly offers Tabitha a few nights in her house to help transition to life in Nepal. Since they will be traveling together, it might be nice to get to know one another. Good thinking, Karen!

“Daughter, look at her funky arms and remember me.”

For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.

Psalm 103:11-13

Now I see this Guinea Pig Girl doll differently. Tabitha’s arms are open wide, really wide for a reason. She and Karen must to go to Nepal. Tabitha’s funky arms might bless a tiny hand. Their plane leaves in just a few hours.

Please pray for those I care about specifically Karen and JD as they are traveling to places far away this week. May their arms and hearts be stretched wide open to offer love and compassion. Let all who encounter these folks find ultimate freedom and redemption only Christ can give.

Thank you, Heavenly Father for teaching me something again today through sewing. I’m no longer embarrassed by Tabitha’s funky arms.

Sew far away – Guinea Pig Girl doll memoirs

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So many beautiful faces just like this one

I had to go to the bathroom.

#1

in the outskirts of Lima, Peru

Dust-covered village, not a porta-potty in sight – understatement

so I ask my translator and soon we’re following a man to his house

Dirt steps, hollowed out rooms, feels kind of like the Flintstones

The father tells his family someone is here and they come out to briefly greet us

Yes it’s awkward

because I have to go to the bathroom

#1

Over to the side is a makeshift curtain

And I step inside and observe a hole on the ground

which I use

This was the common landscape in Lima

And soon I thank the family who has graciously offered a stranger into their house

But in the corner

over to the side

So many moments like this meeting people and sharing the love of Christ – I will never be the same

I see

a doll

that looks like it belongs in a dumpster

but it is in a house

Is this filthy doll a little girl’s toy?

That image has stayed with me, humbling me many days

Years later, I sew and I pray sometimes

“God, use my simple sewing skills for others, keep me open to your ways.”

I wish I had been making Tess the Guinea Pig Girl dolls back then

because I would have given her one

or two

or a dozen

Tess and Esther, Joy and Leah hang out together. On Friday, Tess’s friends will begin their journey to live in Madagascar.

I want the Guinea Pig Girl dolls to go places

Near and far

Mission trips

Operation Christmas Child boxes

Regular places too

To be loved

and hugged

Three of them go to Madagascar on Friday

Esther, Joy and Leah will meet the Mahafaly people 

On Saturday, Tabitha, another Guinea Pig Girl doll,  goes to Nepal with an anti human-trafficking advocate

Can you imagine?!

Although Tess will miss her greatly, she’s excited for Tabitha and her big move to Nepal.

To bless a little girl or a hurting soul

In my own comfortable land or continents away

My sewing machine feels happy, just wish “we” would have started sooner.

“Heavenly Father, mightily use my human brothers and sisters in Christ. Protect and anoint every aspect of their journey. And for my fabric friends, Lord, whoever receives one of these little dolls, may she receive it with the love with which it was made and sense the everlasting love which only comes from you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

Read more about my friends’ travels here and here, I hope to have some pictures of the GPG in their new homes.

To order a Guinea Pig Girl doll, check out my website at oliveshootinstitute.com.

Spirit Week 2011 begins

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Oh how I love Spirit Week!

I love it so much, if it were up to me, every school would have a Spirit Week just for parents.

There was no Spirit Week when I was in middle school or high school so I live through the SW of my OS. Yes, according them, I’m kind of like a stage mom when it comes to Spirit Week.

images1With Aaron’s medical struggles, there was less parental involvement in Ike’s SW this year. This resulted in my orange hair, freckle face OS wearing a pair of store-bought pajamas on Pajama Day. We had even picked out special material six months ago for me to make just for him. Alas, Ike decided he wanted to show off these pajamas. He won a gift certificate because of his footed sleepwear.img_20110214_155457

But now that my middle OS is feeling so much better, nearly all of my parental energy pours into Spirit Week 2011.

Monday morning, Aaron pranced into school wearing his designer-made sea turtle pajama pants. I wanted to create a sea turtle applique for the t-shirt but he sternly spurned my suggestion.

photo 24Tuesday was Animal Kingdom Day. Last year my middle OS was a pupa. We twirled yards of brown toile around Aaron to encase him.

It was truly hilarious to see the perplexed looks of students and teachers. They asked Aaron what he was and he confidently stated “a chrysalis in a cocoon.”

Then in the middle of Mrs. Davis’ Spanish Class, Aaron asked if he could go to the restroom.

Let the changes begin!

When Aaron returned he had metamorphosed into a beautiful, extremely large butterfly ~ He wore his grandpa’s really yellow golf pants and custom-made wings.

Truly breathtaking!

We thought this was an apt description of adolescence and doesn’t every teenager want to be reminded of puberty on Animal Kingdom Day? I thought so!

So how do you top being a pupa?carpenter-ant-illustration_530x349

p1160061

Well, we’re not sure but staying in the insect world, this year Aaron was a carpenter ant.

My middle OS donned a hard hat with antennae, an electric drill and drill bit along with a tool belt. He also “grew” an extra pair of legs which I sewed last night.

p11600282Here is proof that I am a great mother – making carpenter ant legs just before bedtime.

There were many creative animal costumes. For example, Zack, Aaron’s best friend was a swan complete with a feathery behind that wiggled back and forth as he walked. p1160052

Aaron will be a senior in high school next year. I’m already thinking of ideas.

p1160055Just wait, the rest of the week is quite creative and unique also!

PS. I just learned that Aaron and the science teacher were the only invertebrates in the school today! Wow, I’m even prouder now!

Three Little Words That Meant So Much

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Who’s that hot babe with the scooter? It’s me! HA! Who’s that hot guy next to her? That’s my son! GA!

Now that I’ve got that out of the way…

There are several sentences I have come to treasure as a mom.

1. I love you.
2. You look pretty.
 
and then this one, my oldest OS said this morning.
 
3. I need you.
 
Moms out there, you know what I mean. Now when my son said this it didn’t sound quite so mushy and the sentence was longer but the three words that resonated for me on Sunday morning were I need you. 
My mama brain processed the other words but those three words transported right into my mama’s heart. 

The reason my son made this statement is that apparently one morning at West Point, an upperclassman took one look at his robe and noticed that it was “jacked’ up. It isn’t good to be “jacked” up in general but especially at the United States Military Academy. When my boy came home this weekend, he asked me if I could make the necessary repairs. “Mom, could you sew my robe? I need you to fix it for me, please.” 
 
After he requested my assistance, I asked him, “What did you say?” My son seemed confused by my question, so I tried again. “Nate, what were those three words you used just a minute ago?”
 
He just stood there oblivious to my persistent interrogation but not willing to give up, I prompted him some more. “Nate, you asked me to do something. Why did you ask me to do something??? Work with me, Son!” 
Finally he got it. “I need you.” 
 
It’s different when you’re a mom of little ones who constantly demand every bit of your attention. That season of life is gone for me. But when your 18 year old son says something even remotely like “I need you” a smart mama jumps at the chance.
At West Point, I can’t be with him to do his push-ups. I can’t help him with Knowledge. I can’t tell the people who yell at my son to please use kind words instead (HA!) The truth is there is very little I can do but love my son, support his choices and every now and then, with dwindling regularity, do something no one else can do. In this case, it was to fix his robe.

I took out my brand new Brother sewing machine (ain’t she a beauty?) and got busy. I fixed the collar and reinforced the stitching. 
I took the front pocket 2/3 of the way off to sew on a patch. I mended a teeny part of the sleeve and then turned my stitching dial to 64 and added a little mama touch.
I sewed a very tiny row of hearts on one of the cuffs. No one else will see them but I couldn’t resist. I don’t have too many opportunities to sew hearts on things as a mother of three sons. I had to “carpe diem” as my OS would say. 

There might come a time at West Point when he needs to remember that little tiny row of hearts or maybe I just did it for me. I don’t know and it really doesn’t matter. Nathan boards a plane early Monday morning and I will surely miss feeling needed by my precious Soldier and loving son. Hopefully he will have more mending on his next visit!
 
I need you too, Nathan.
Thanks for making me feel significant with three simple words. 

My Prince Charming

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P1010543As Spirit Day drew to a close, it was Dress Up as Your Favorite Hero Day and Aaron decided he wanted to be someone extra special and quite appropriate – Prince Charming.

My 13-year-old OS has the pretty face and the affable personality but lacked the actual costume. We don’t do a lot of dress up in our family of boys but with a little ingenuity, we came up with a pretty cool outfit.

First we went to Staples and got some metallic posterboard.

P1010547I didn’t know they made metallic posterboard so that was quite convenient. We cut a crown design out of the posterboard and I glued a ton of little beads around it. It looked so shimmery and royal. Kind of like real jewels but not really. Check out the artistry…

P1010542I had some satin gold fabric and against all odds, I made my first pair of satin prince pants. My dumb sewing machine was acting the fool so my wonderful friend Michele let me borrow her top of the line machine.

It’s a $1500 sewing machine and man, that baby can purr. I’m not sure I’m giving it back to her, I seriously loved that machine. I have told my husband that if he really loved me, he would get me that machine. I’ll let you know how that’s going…I was definitely not worthy to even use the foot pedal of this fine piece of machinery, I savored every second and stitch.

P1010541After finishing the prince pants, I also made him a fancy slate grey vest complete with gold trim. It was so simple to make but I was really proud of myself! I am totally in the zone when I am doing things for my family. During a quick trip to the Goodwill, I found a nice man’s white collared shirt for Aaron – and then the biggest find of all, I bought a pair of women’s shoes. He wasn’t going to wear them, rather he took one shoe to school as he searched for his lovely Cinderella.

As luck would have it, I had a scrap of red satin fabric to make a little sash. When we put the costume together, he seriously looked like Prince Charming! Even when he was standing next to his best bud Zack aka Peter Pan.

This was a Spirit Day our family won’t forget!