SUBJECT: Happiness, Joy…..no wait, Despair, Sadness…..

…..OK, let’s call it Conflict! How in the world can one experience so many ups and downs in one day? I mean, really….one minute I’m grinning from ear to ear about something and the next I’m sitting and staring into space wondering what has happened to me! Is this normal? Don’t even suggest that it’s my new normal because that just doesn’t compute. In fact, I’m beginning to dislike the phrase “new normal!” It implies that something was “abnormal” about my old normal and that I need to change that.

Isn’t normal a relative term anyway? Some of the things I get myself into are generally accepted as normal behavior for WB, however if the same behavior is seen in someone else, let’s say, Queen Elizabeth II, people would talk and it wouldn’t be about how adorably normal she behaved! Example – several years ago I thought it was perfectly normal to go skinny dipping in a river in John Bryan State Park, OH, early in the morning when there was a heavy fog in the air. My mom and Dad had told me stories about their skinny dipping adventures so why wouldn’t I think that was a normal occurrence!? I could be wrong but perhaps QEII has not taken that plunge….it just wouldn’t be normal. Ok, so you understand my point about normal. What’s normal for me might not be normal for you (or QEII) and vice versa.

So if that’s true, why do I keep getting suggestions to find my new normal? Don’t get me wrong, I’ve thought about it and even said the same thing as I tried to figure out what that might be. But how would I know it once I ‘had it?’ I have been pretty happy with my fun life. Yes, even with it’s ups and downs and struggles and joys and losses and moves and decisions (right and wrong ones) and illnesses, and pain, and laughter, and work, and play, on and on and on! I could make a column of as many of the joys I could think of and another of all the sadness I’ve lived through. That’s normal…..and that’s life! I don’t want a new one; normal or not! I think I want to love the one I have right now, just like I did before my Brownie went to Heaven.

Then why do I have a day like Sunday when I went from the valley to the mountain top and back again all throughout the day? I think I have an answer. Here’s my secret to figuring things out: I pray, I read scripture, I think out loud, I sit and stare, I let sadness cover me, I let joy fill me up and I write it out! I think that’s normal….MY NORMAL. It’s not new; it’s just what is normal for me on September 18, 2017. I wish everyday was filled with laughter, sunshine and daises (oh how I love daises) but that’s not life. At least not here on earth. Now Brownie is experiencing that in heaven, but for now, I must wait and live the life I have been given to the fullest! All of it! All the normal parts of it. So please don’t ask me if I’m working toward a new normal, because I’m not! I’m just making the life I have as normal as I can, filled with love and gratitude to a gracious God for each morning that He allows me to experience another day.

And this promise will get me through those days! “For I know the plans I that I have for you, ‘declares the Lord,’ plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.”  Now get out there and BE NORMAL!

 

Just a Thought……

…..or two! I just finished watching an episode of Friends. I was sitting here stitching and the TV was on, so what can you do… It was the episode where they all turned 30 years old, except Phoebe who missed a year and was actually turning 31. At the end of the episode Ross noted that in ten years they would all be turning 40! Joey, in his wisdom and fear, looked upward and said, “Why God, why?”

Do you feel that way as the years fly by? I know I do! I remember 30 very well. I had given birth to Andy the year before and the big birthday really went by without much celebration. My goal at that time was to be the best mother I could to three children under the age of six!

But 40…oh that was a biggie! We were living in Las Vegas while Sam was stationed at Nellis Air Force Base. That precious man rented a yellow Corvette for me for 24 hours! It was over the top wonderful. We picked it up in the early evening and then went to dinner. After that we drove home and I took Christin, Scott and Andy (one at a time, obviously) for a ride with the top off. Such fun! The next day I hosted an Officers’ Wives’ Club meeting in my home and parked out front was this beautiful Vette! I also drove across town to take my sister and her children on a ride. It is one of my most favorite memories!

So then she turns 50! OUCH! This one hurt just a little. But again Sam Brown to the rescue. I’m telling you that this man was so romantic and so full of surprises that I never knew what was coming next! He surprised me with a trip to Las Vegas (we were stationed at Fort Belvoir, VA at the time) for the Air Force’s 50th anniversary celebration! I couldn’t believe it. Forget the fact that I didn’t know that the Air Force and I were born in the same year…..this was over the top! There was a huge banquet with several hundred people attending and there we were, right in the middle of it. Unbeknownst to me, Sam had told our dear friend and Chief of Staff of the AF, General Fogleman, that is was not only the Air Force’s birthday but mine as well. Imagine my surprise when he mentioned that in his speech. But Sam Brown did not stop there. No….this man had plans! Years prior to this day I fell in love with a James Avery ring called the Texas Star. It was an amazing ring that featured a special cut blue topaz in the shape of the 5 pointed star of Texas. Oh how I wanted that ring! Brownie said to me, “Ok I’ll buy it for you under one of these circumstances: If I make Brigadier General or we are assigned back to Texas.” Well…..let’s just say he got tired of waiting so he bought it for me on my 50th birthday! He had asked members of the Air Force Band and Singing Sergeants to sing Happy Birthday to me right there during the celebration of the AF’s 50th when he presented the ring to me. You would have thought it was a marriage proposal!

The rest of these big birthdays happened but without importance. I don’t mean to be flippant about the passing of the years, but what I’m trying to say is this: It really doesn’t matter where you are on your life’s journey! Just make each day count. I’m preaching to me too as well because I fall short of my goals day after day. I want to serve others, to make a difference in lives around me, to show Christ in everything I do, and to be available to those in need. I get wrapped up in my own grief and life-situation and I allow that to slow me down. I pray that you will see past that and know my heart! I want to make a difference in the people that read my blog! Please allow me to do that!

This I know….

….about September 9th. Mostly that it is a very important day in my life’s story….in the Threads of My Life! So I need to write about my remembrances of this day.

On this day in 1963, I attended a birthday party for Sambo Brown. It was kind of a strange party with only three people in attendance. My best friend (since the third grade), Brenda, told me about her boyfriend’s birthday. She said he had a kind of strange family situation, was being raised by his grandmother and she wanted to do something special for his 18th birthday. After all….it was an important birthday! She asked me to come to help celebrate……

Insert background story here….My family had recently moved to Conroe TX from the big city of Houston. I was a junior in high school when we moved there in late August, 1963. When we first arrived, we had not found a home to rent (my Dad was building us a home W*A*Y out in the country) so we actually stayed with Brenda’s family for several weeks. But by September, we were in our rental home so we could start school on time while we waited for our new home to be built. Enter Brenda and her boyfriend…Sambo Brown!

She called me on the morning of September 9th and asked me if I’d like to help her make a cake and decorate for a party for her boyfriend’s birthday. SURE! I was anxious to meet people and a big party was the perfect opportunity. Only problem was when I got there early to help her bake the cake and decorate, I learned that no one was coming except us! Ok, that was a little strange, but doable. After all, it was HER boyfriend! I had asked my Mom to stop by the drugstore so I could get a card for Sambo. I had met him once and only knew that he played trumpet in the HS band. Brenda also asked me to pick up some decorations for the cake. OK…..a however, all I could find was “Happy Birthday, Cowboy.” She was ok with that so we decorated the cake. A little while later Sambo arrived. Mind you, this was one handsome guy and it was all I could do to remind myself over and over….he is Brenda’s boyfriend, he is Brenda’s boyfriend! We had a fun celebration and he was so sweet and appreciative for the party. I was over the moon in love but didn’t dare say a word. SUFFER IN SILENCE! When it was time for me to go home….curfew…I went to call my dad to come get me when I heard these words, “No, don’t do that! I’ll take you home!” Ok…the rest is history! So very sorry, Brenda!

So that was the first important September 9th. We had wonderful celebrations through the years after that hopefully made up for the fact that my Beloved Brownie didn’t celebrate birthdays in his childhood like most of us did. One that comes to mind is September 9, 1974. I pulled off a wonderful surprise party for Brownie that would be the topic of conversation for years to come.

In 1985 when he turned 40, we were in Las Vegas. We had an amazing “Over the Hill” party to celebrate that wonderful day. Such a good sport, no matter what I threw in his direction!

However the absolutely most memorable and the one that brings me the greatest joy (and tears) is September 9, 2014. Tears still fall as I think about the joy and hope we all had when he came home from the hospital after his lung transplant. Banners, signs, and dancing in the streets welcomed him home after his August 15th transplant! He had been in the hospital since July 20th, 2014 so we celebrated with unbridled joy!

The next year we celebrated his 70th birthday in Texas and that was the last birthday we had with him. Last year I threw a big party and I served all his favorite foods. We laughed, remembered and cried, but we celebrated his life. This year it will be a quiet celebration but I know that all three of my children will celebrate the incredible life of their Dad. I still have moments when I don’t believe he is gone. I miss him so much! But this I know… he would want us to go on living, celebrating life and serving our Lord. Oh, my beloved Brownie, I can do that, but it is really hard without you! Happy Birthday, my sweet cowboy!

Get Thee To Needle and Thread!

Ok, I know that’s not the answer to all life’s problems, but for me it has been an ongoing healing. That made me think about why I put so much stock into this simple task. So I thought about it this past week-end at our first ever Willow Tree Sampler Guild retreat. I’ve been to retreats before and always….ALWAYS, enjoyed each moment, but this was different. Somehow this one was connected to Brownie. Somehow this one stands alone as something new and almost spiritual. No, we didn’t study scripture or have moments of meditation, but I felt so connected to the gals there and surprisingly, to my Brownie, that it was a little different than all the others.

I cried a lot (in silence) this week-end. It was ALL tears of pure joy! I haven’t felt that happiness in a couple of years. Certainly I have had moments of contentment, calm, joy and happiness, but this was like turning a corner….turning a page in my book…..taking a walk down another wonderful road on my journey!

I worked hard to get things just right so that the gals that attended would enjoy themselves so much that they would want to do it again. Yes, it was hard work and many times I felt like I had no idea what I was doing, but it was all so worth it. I knew most of the gals that attended our retreat, but we also had several that I had not met. Two came from Oklahoma, one from Virginia and I needed to make sure the retreat was worth their expense and time. I went w*a*y out on a limb booking this place because it was the third reservation I made. I visited the facility but really knew nothing about the food, sleeping quarters and stitching room. Sometimes you just have to trust the Lord for the details and that’s exactly what I did. I just kept moving forward knowing that my Brownie had encouraged me to start this guild and follow through with a retreat within the first year. Where did he get that kind of belief in me? I really don’t know because he saw something I still don’t see, but I’m glad I trusted his instincts!

I’m beginning a new chapter (or two) in my life surrounded by many, many new friends! We share more than a love of stitching samplers. We actually love each other and enjoy each other’s company. I was the new widow on the block until right before the retreat when our precious treasurer, Pat Leger, suddenly lost her husband. She came to the retreat because she recognized that she needed to be there – to experience the love of friends, old and new. When she walked in it was such a special moment. You could feel the heartbeat of the entire group in sync with hers. It truly was an amazing! Gals that had never met her, including my own sister, came up to embrace and love her. I still get chills just thinking about the moment she walked in that door. I think we all realized this was much more than just a gathering – we had a purpose! And I believe by the time each of us left to return home we felt that connection, that purpose had been met!

This is what I have needed! This is what Pat needed….a connection through a shared art, camaraderie,  laughter, friendship, fellowship and love! I am so blessed….beyond measure. Thank you members of the Willow Tree Sampler Guild for allowing me to be your “fearless leader!” I can not wait to see the places we will go!!

Fireflies or Lightening Bugs?

….Laundromat or Washateria, Cart or Buggy, Bag or Sack, Picture or Photo, Coke or Pepsi….oops, that’s a different comparison altogether! Bottom line is don’t let anyone try and convince you that your way is the wrong way. It’s all part of the English language, but it’s a regional thing.

When Sam and I first were married and made our first of 18 moves to Ogden Utah I had to look it up on a map. I mean, I knew where Utah was but Ogden?!? We were delighted to be able to experience a new part of the good old USA! We weren’t there very long when a sweet, well-meaning neighbor happened to be visiting me when I got a call from a prospective piano student. I was so excited I could barely contain myself! When I finished my conversation I noticed her mouth was W*I*D*E open and her face showed signs of shock! WHAT?? What is wrong? Then she revealed to me something I encountered time and time again as Brownie and I made our way across the good ole USA – no one will take you seriously with that “hick” accent. You’ve got to learn to talk properly! HEY!!! Wait a minute, I made all As in English and loved grammar! What could she possibly be telling this 21 year old Texan, away from home for the very first time EVER! Over the next few months she “schooled” me on the proper way to speak English. I tried so hard, ya’ll, I really did! I just couldn’t get the hang of it. Nine was niiine, not niyon! Of was uhv, you guys was y’all, and for heavens sakes, pillow was pilla! Yeah, I was a bad student. But somehow I managed to converse in each state we called home over the next 30 years. And I was understood ……. most of the time!

I can laugh about those things now, but way back then, I thought I was doomed. Brownie was instrumental in convincing me to just be myself. He was my rock, my security. He was determined not to let others change me because he loved me just the way I was. And he reminded me often. So here I am now without him, but still hearing his voice and encouraging words in my head. Once again, others are trying to change something about me and I’m resisting! Well-meaning people I know are desperately trying to help me through this thing known as grief. However, it’s mine and I’ll do it my way. Problem is, I don’t know what that is. It’s my day to day. It’s my new way of dealing with every little detail of my life. I’m trying to find myself….my new self and it isn’t easy. I realize it’s hard for others to understand why I can’t just get on with it. But they don’t live in my head. Such little, tiny, insignificant things set me off and I find myself in a downward spiral. Sometimes I spin out of control and other times, I catch myself before it hits disaster level. Writing this blog is the perfect example. I started it some time ago and it was so much fun and easy to do. When I write, it just flows. Give me a topic and I’m on my way, with very little editing. But in the last few months, I’ve hardly written anything at all – an article here and there for the guild, a blog post more than two months ago, and more than a month before that. This one was started several weeks ago. I wrote a few sentences, stopped, revisited it several days later and wrote a few more, then nothing until today. It’s painful to write, but for the first time ever, I’m forcing myself to do it. It’s like forcing myself to get out of bed every morning, or to eat something….and sometimes to even brush my teeth. It is taking much more time to grieve than I ever thought it would. I expected to miss him, but not to be paralyzed days on end because of it. In my Grief Share class #1 I learned a very important concept….just do the next thing! Sometimes the next thing is getting out of bed, or taking a walk, or folding clothes or eat lunch. It’s not really about what the next thing is; it’s about doing it! So, after this is posted (it truly has been sitting here for a month and although I could just delete it, I need to post it because this is where I’ve been for a while) I will do the next thing! And that glorious next thing is telling you all about the Willow Tree Sampler Guild retreat. I just got home from our inaugural retreat! I’m still hovering on my cloud nine perch and won’t come down for a while, but I’ll save that for “the next time!”

 

It’s Been a While……

….since I last wrote anything. I’ll be brutally honest; this has been a very difficult several weeks. Please don’t misunderstand, I am NOT asking for sympathy. It’s just an explanation (not an excuse) as to why I have been silent on the blog-front for several weeks.

In the last few weeks I have experienced our college anniversary (pay raise every month in the military and ALWAYS celebrated no matter how small the raise), Memorial Day, our 29th anniversary and the one year anniversary of his burial. Earlier in the month of May I thought that I was good….had a handle on all this. Well, I’m here to tell you, I miscalculated! I went to Virginia because I wanted to see those flags that are placed on the grave. The information I had was that they would be placed on Sunday, May 28 so I planned my trip accordingly. Even before I left I saw on FaceBook that they were placed on Thursday, May 25th. At first I was heart-broken, but then realized it was no big deal….they’ll be there and you’ll see them.

WRONG! I arrived on Sunday and Washington D.C. was in traffic deadlock. Rolling Thunder! I have always loved watching Rolling Thunder pay their respects. However, for the first time it affected me. I started checking the schedule for Memorial Day and discovered that I would not be able to get to Arlington because of all the security (even though I had a pass) so I decided to go on Tuesday. I went early and had no problem after showing my pass. I drove right to Brownie’s grave….s*i*d*e* n*o*t*e…do you know how strange that looks to me – Brownie’s grave? As I parked, gathered my flowers and made my way to his grave, I was so focused on getting there I didn’t look left or right. Just as I got to his grave I heard the all to familiar sound of the muffled drums of an approaching burial procession. So powerfully familiar. Right down the same street. I could barely breathe. I didn’t even have a chance to glance at Brownie’s grave; I just faced the caisson and put my hand over my heart until the entire procession passed. He would have been so proud. He asked to be buried there, you know. This honor, this recognition, this connection to those that have served……that’s what my Brownie wanted. He was so patriotic and focused in his love of country and service that that’s the very place he wanted to be laid to rest.

After the caisson and cars passed I focused my attention on Brownie’s grave. I turned toward the headstone for the first time and it hit me…the flags were gone! It was the reason I planned my trip – to see the flags. I learned later they had been picked up at dawn on the day after Memorial Dad. It took a while to recover but recover I did. I spent more time there than I have in the two previous times I had visited. I don’t know how you feel about visiting the grave of those that have passed but let me share this with you. My daughter told me that it wasn’t really important to her because she knew he wasn’t there and I totally understand and agree with that. It is my belief that the moment he breathed his last breath on earth his next breath was unencumbered and in the presence of our Lord and Savior. But, as I told Christin that day (I was so upset about the flags I had to call her so she could help me calm down) I know where he is, but his earthly remains are right here, buried in a beautiful silver casket. However, I believe this with all my heart and soul…. 1 Thessalonians 4:16 declares this…”For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.” I thought…..WOW, how special that would be if I happened to be at his grave and the Lord returned! Grab hold of his heel!

Anyway…that’s where my head has been for the last few weeks. I love this man of mine so much. I miss him even more. I’m trying to move forward and I really think I am, but it’s not easy! Thank you dear friends, for loving me through it all!

I don’t know what to share first…..

……my excitement or my heartbreak. Ok, let’s start with the heartbreak and end on a good note.

As many of you know, I have been planning a trip to Arlington National Cemetery where we buried my beloved Brownie last June 15th. This is the first year his gravesite will be honored on Memorial Day with a flag. Last year, 2016, the family honored him and talked about the fact that…”next year Beloved, Dad and Pawpaw! Next year you’ll have a flag.” He died earlier that year in early February but because there are so many burials each day at Arlington, for 27-30, we had to wait until June for his very moving full honors military burial. So this year is a first. Memorial Day, actually May 30th, has always been close to our anniversary, June 1. This year would have been 49 years. But God had other plans and I’m sure Brownie is leading singing somewhere in the heavenly choirs or wrestling Gabriel for a chance to blow his horn! I knew, this time last year, that I wanted to be in the D.C. area the week of Memorial Day and our anniversary. I checked and rechecked the schedule to make sure I could be at Sam’s grave when the flags went in. The sources I had said that would happen early on the 29th, Memorial Day. I have a pass; I would be allowed in! So I booked my flight for Sunday. The flags went in today. I couldn’t believe it. I was heart-broken over it…..and then I remembered that the 25th is his graduation day and our “over 5, over 10, over 15”, etc day of celebration. So “Flags In” still occurred on a special day for me. For us! I just didn’t get to see it, but the flag that was placed with precise measurement today will be there in the early morning hours of May 29. I can hardly stand the wait! Pray for me; it will be a difficult week.

And now to the excitement; I have been anticipating our WTSG meeting this Saturday like never before. We have interested guests coming, so I must be on my best behavior – not likely! We are meeting for the second time in our amazing library and we have such support from the library director and his staff! It is a joy to meet there because we have so much room! Well….they also told us we could bring food!

I’m so excited about the direction this new baby guild is going! I’ve talked to no less than 5 designers/teachers/lecturers about future programs. They are excited as well and because of the generosity of so many of you when you sent in your $20 to be part of us from afar, we just might have the kind of budget in our first year to have one of these talented gals come and inspire us! Thank you 11 new associate members, from the bottom of my heart for your support on our journey! Nothing pleases me more than knowing each of us are trying to preserve such an important part of our history! We are stronger together than alone! Our light is shining!!! XOXO, wb

Do You Ever Make Excuses…..

….I mean really, when you think you don’t want to do what’s asked of you, or maybe you think you are not capable, what do you do? Excuses?…little white lies? (whatever that is), or do you proclaim the truth? Are you right up front with it? I don’t know about you but I know what I do most of the time so there’s nothing to do but confess it!

I had a dear friend once that never, EVER made excuses! She really amazed me and sometimes annoyed me, but she was all about NO EXCUSES. If someone invited her to dinner and she didn’t want to go, there was no squirming trying to think of an acceptable excuse – she just said, “No, I’m afraid we can’t come.” PERIOD! If someone asked her to do this or that, again she wouldn’t hunt for an excuse – she just said, “That won’t be possible.” I asked her about it and she told me it was so much easier this way. Be true to yourself and say no thank you if you feel that’s the best decision you can make. I still squirmed! That’s hard to do when you want to make people happy, to make them like you.

This brings me to Moses! And no, that is not a leap! Please stick with me here. When I was in my early 20s, Sam and I were in Dallas while the AF sent him to grad school at Southern Methodist University. We joined this wonderful church and immediately I began directing the 4-6th grade children’s choir. I was born to direct choirs….any age; it thrilled me from the top of my head to the tip of my toes. But, what I also did during those 18 months was teach a junior high girls Sunday school class. That was a first for me. I did it because there was a need and I couldn’t find an excuse fast enough to say “no thank-you!” I hadn’t met my friend, Jo, yet so I knew no better! I decided we would study Moses, easy and predictable, and a well-known children’s Bible story. Here we have baby Moses hidden in the bullrushes…..Moses discovered by Pharaoh’s daughter and raised by her…..Moses in the palace of the Pharaoh…..God intervenes….Moses to Pharaoh, “Let me people go,”….Moses leads the Israelites out of bondage. I could do that! Very factual…and besides I had already seen “The Ten Commandments!”

Enter Exodus, chapter 3&4. I mean if you’re going to be a Sunday school teacher you really need to have a scripture reference. I remember telling my class of about 12 girls to read the account of Moses in Exodus 3 and 4 and we would discuss it the next week. That was so I could make sure I had the story straight….you know Hollywood! So I read and reread and discovered the most amazing thing about this great hero of the Hebrew people! He was an excuse maker. I could hardly believe my eyes as I read God’s word over and over. Moses had lots of excuses. Let me list them for you. You won’t be impressed and God wasn’t either!

  1. I’m not good enough – “I am nobody. How can I go to the king and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”
  2. I don’t have all the answer – “Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?”
  3. People won’t believe me –“But suppose they will not believe me or listen to my voice; suppose they say, ‘The LORD has not appeared to you.’ “
  4. I’m just not qualified –“Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”
  5. And my absolute favorite because he was running out of excuses! I just can’t do it! –“Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.” And he even suggested his brother, Aaron!

But he did lead his people and he did it in a mighty way. God heard those excuses and had a counter for each one of them. Mostly it was “Trust me, I will be with you!”

So what does this have to do with the Willow Tree Sampler Guild, you might ask. Nothing…really, nothing! But it has everything to do with the founder (I love the way that sounds) of this guild because all those doubts Moses had – and many more – I had/have! I know I had a husband that believed in me and encouraged me, and found opportunities for me, but my painful reality is that he’s not here. So what I do now is all a giant leap of faith, totally out of my comfort zone. And I’ve been blessed over and over because of it! So many new friends, near and far, and so many encouraging words. Please don’t be concerned if this is not what you wanted to hear in a blog with sampler in its name; I just write and mostly that writing is for me. Right now, it’s my therapy. Maybe I’ll look back on it and write a book about my grief journey……but that would be hard since I don’t know how to determine where the journey ends. So for now, I’ll just jot down what pops in my head. Thank you for joining me along the way!

How Would You Define the Word Joyous?

Here’s a definition I like …..

“Someone or something joyous is characterized by joy: extreme, exuberant, deep happiness. If you won the lottery, you’d probably feel joyous.

Joyous is a strong word for the absolute best moments in life. In other words, joyous goes beyond the simple feeling of happiness you might get from watching your favorite TV show or eating a delicious sandwich — unless of course it’s a really amazing sandwich.”

Well I think I’ve just experienced something more amazing than a REALLY awesome, delicious sandwich! I am over the moon (see earlier post) about what has happened this past week-end. Over the moon and joyous are the same thing in my book! I still can’t quite grasp what happened after I shared my “sampler guild” story with one special lady who then shared it with her international audience. One minute I’m begging Willow Tree Sampler Guild members to attend our August retreat so we can reach our minimum of 15 attendees and the next minute I’m worried it’s time to start a waiting list because so many gals are interested. How does this happen overnight? I think I have an idea. When you share a story from your heart, it reaches and touches many people that feel the same way or that have experienced the same thing.

I’ve been plugging along with my very special sampler guild and loving every moment! I’ve been thrilled with our growth from 6 gals meeting in my home last September to 22 members meeting in our permanent location at the Northwest Branch Library. These gals are helping me heal my broken heart after losing the love of my life. But then something quiet unexpected happened. I was asked to write an article about my story and how/why I started the guild. It was featured on a very popular FB page and then on a Blog and the response has been amazing! We have so many people wanting to help us in this, our start-up year. They have signed up to be associate members and sent their $20 checks in to help us out. Many have joined us as regular members because until this article was seen, they had no idea we were just “down the street” from them. I keep pinching myself to make sure I’m not dreaming!

Our Willow Tree Sampler Guild FaceBook page has grown from 23 members to 181 in just 3 days. This makes my heart sing. That means there are women, and men, all over the world that realize the importance of passing on this art form to our children and grandchildren! We study samplers – all kind of samplers! I’m especially intrigued by the schoolgirl samplers of the 1700 and 1800s. What a wonderful talent they had at such an early age. We study it and are awed but they just did it because it was an assignment or a requirement. We find these samplers, and some of our most talented designers reproduce them for us, and we are filled with joy (there’s that word again) as we stitch them. It’s a connection to a time gone by. We form guilds, or study groups, so we can support each other in our quest for knowledge about these ancient sisters of ours. In doing so, we share this common bond that goes way beyond the simple movement of the needle. We are connected to each other and to all generations that came before us to show us the way!

I am so filled with gratitude and joy!!! I never expected this to blossom so quickly that I now have hundreds of stitching sisters all over the world. My precious Brownie, is this what you had in mind? You believed in me and my abilities long before I did! This new family of stitchers will be a most important factor in my healing process! They love what I love and they know our story and are each encouraging me stitch by stitch! I miss you, my Love, but I’m going to be fine!!

Give Me a Title, Lord!

Many times, especially when it’s late and I should be sleeping, my brain is on overload. Like tonight, for instance. I have so many thoughts that I need to write down – but where do I write them….should I put them in my journal that no one sees or maybe do a FB post, or should I share on this blog? In the words of the King of Siam (from The King and I), “Tis a puzzlement!” Obviously I ultimately decided to write here. It really doesn’t matter if anyone reads my words or not; it is my therapy. I will look back on it some day and be amazed at the pain, joy, insight, silliness, and “everything in between” that I find, and I’m sure it will make me smile!

So, today, with all those thoughts rolling around in my head, let me make an attempt to explain. If you saw my FB post late on Sunday night, you know I had a very, VERY bad evening. I can’t tell you what happened to bring this on but it was very difficult. I cried for hours. I texted Andy since he’s on Pacific time zone but I could only text him; I could not talk. I kept thinking about the scripture I shared on FB, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” Ps 30:5. I haven’t used that scripture since August 15, 2014….the evening of Sam’s lung transplant. Last night it was as real to me as it was almost three years ago. It’s just that every time I think about his absence in my life it’s new again.

Despite that setback….I had a wonderful week. As I told you in my last post Easter was everything it was supposed to be! WONDERFUL!! I hope you were able to see the pictures posted on FB. It was all about celebrating the risen Lord with my precious family. I went to church with them and I sat in Sam’s “chair.” You know how we Baptist claim a seat for as long as we are in a church. The week after Easter our church celebrated Bright Sunday. Have you heard of this? The custom was rooted in the musings of early church theologians (like Augustine, Gregory of Nyssa, and John Chrysostom) that God played a practical joke on the devil by raising Jesus from the dead. It was a new tradition for me and Scott’s family, but one we will look forward to for years to come. As in, sorry satan, He has been resurrected! Then our pastor, Dr Bruce, spoke on the undeniable evidence of the ascension of our Lord to Heaven. A really powerful testimony! I hope each of you reading this will take the time to go see the movie, “The Case for Christ!”

Also, my precious ladies that are members of the Willow Tree Sampler Guild, met with me last Saturday in our new permanent location – Harris County Northwest Branch Library. I was brought to tears as I stood before the group that has grown from 6 members meeting in my home last September to 22 members today. We had such fun. We had a marvelous speaker that told us all about Band Samplers. Her enthusiasm was contagious! So many thanks to Sallie Pate for her presentation! If you are reading this and live anywhere in the Houston area, please help us spread the word.

Ok, signing off….without a title, but always with a story! Thank you for reading!