Handmade notes of Thanksgiving

Confession: Sometimes I am tired of confessing my idiocies.

If you’re tired of hearing of them, don’t worry—you’re not nearly as tired as I am of committing them. I told Alison this week that “any organizational/ navigational skills I have are a desperate attempt to get a handle on my naturally forgetful and scatterbrained self. True story.”

I planned and planned and over-planned this week. I planned for the ultra-special lunch exchange at my boys’ school; I planned the dishes I’ll bring to Thanksgiving dinner at my parents’ house; I planned the brunch I’m hosting on Saturday; I planned ahead for Christmas. I bought supplies. I made lists. I stocked my fridge and checked my ingredients and made food ahead of time and got on top of everything…

And then this morning.

Ryan woke me in good time and I, exhausted from a late night and then a wakeful session with my crying foster son, fell back to sleep. At 7:37 a.m., I re-woke and staggered out of bed, and as I entered the bathroom this thought came to me, jangling: “What about chapel with the junior high girls, hmm?”

Oh NO!!

Ten bright-faced girls were counting on me to show up. I needed to leave at 8:20, 8:25 at latest. I needed to pack two lunches, prepare my own body and heart, dress and comb and feed two preschoolers, and – oh, newsflash: I had utterly forgotten to brainstorm, research, and concoct the Thanksgiving Craft I promised those girls this morning. I had no idea what we were making.

I panicked.

I spent the whole time I was washing, dressing, and combing groaning to God to help me. I thought and thought. Thanksgiving turkeys? No supplies on hand. Pumpkin praise? I did that with them last year—and I don’t have enough pumpkins. Something with fabric? But what?

As I stepped out of the bathroom, I had another thought… (I need to check that doorway; maybe God is sending me brainwaves and reminders as I pass through…?)

Just this.

card 1

Paper? Check. Sewing machine? Always ready. Scissors and glue? Available at the school.

Oh thank you God thank you thank you.

I still could never have made it without my husband’s generous help through our children’s morning routine. And my hair looked {still looks} like something a pig sat on. And, mercifully, I entirely forgot that I’d done a similar craft with these girls before. And my foster son messed his diaper halfway through our session and I had to put him in the hallway so we could breathe for those last minutes.

But I showed up. And I got to coach them on the sewing machine and oh, we had fun. Some of these pictures include their work.

Here’s how:

1. Fold a paper into a basic card shape.

{This card is made from 12×12 sheet cut in half. Tri-fold to form a pretty flap.}

trifold card

2. Cut or tear a rectangle of colored paper for the face of the card.

3. Machine-sew the colored paper to the white.

{Brown thread looks pretty too.}

card 4

4. Add cut-out shapes to suit the season… leaves, pumpkins, candles.

{Use small stencils or cookie cutters for easy templates, or just have fun freelancing.}

card 3

5. Write a word or two on the card’s cover.

card 2

6. Add a message inside and share with someone who’s blessed you.

card inside

Let your children join you in Thanksgiving. They’re not too little to snip and glue, nor too young to express gratitude. You can handle the sewing machine, or farm it off to your teenage daughter, or skip it entirely.

It’s the season to give thanks. Start with God, and then those He’s placed near you—and if He has preserved your sanity and given you ideas when you don’t deserve them and helped you through harried mornings, say it again. Oh, thank you, thank you…

Mother’s Day

Confession: I think we should all get medals the morning *after* Mother’s Day, when the daily grind kicks in. How was your Mother’s Day? Mine was lovely…

kelly and i

I woke up to find the kids bouncing around, waiting for me to see what they made with their daddy—a poster with flowers and butterflies.


Each of their faces was framed in a flower, and each had written five butterfly “certificates” for services they’ll offer me.


One hour of entertainment for Kelly

Clean my room

Help with flower bed weeding

Date night

Unload dishwasher

One hour solitude

Back rub

Wow!! Plus my sons pooled their money and bought me an Almond Joy. I can’t tell if it’s my favorite candy bar because I really love it or because no one else does. It’s a win-win situation. I had half of it for breakfast.

Then my son Regan came back from Sunday school with a Daffin’s candy bar for me and a card with five adjectives he’d chosen for his mommy. I howled. The first one was “pretty” and the second “merry.” I absolutely love the word merry and couldn’t have chosen a better compliment, but it seems so close to categorically untrue.

We went to the beach and luxuriated in sand and sun, our first time this season. The kids got soaked and the adults got in sync and it was deep family joy.



I found a tiny golden stone like a chick.


I talked with a friend or two after church about Mother’s Day, the little wince we feel on a day like this because we know we don’t deserve quite all the nice things that are said. When we had one baby we thought we did pretty good… now we’re several kids into it and have a few regrets. We complain and we yell and we worry about what we ought to have done differently and we see the fault-lines we are passing on.

I think we will talk more about mothering this week. First, how was your Day?

A New Year without resolutions

The holiday season is successfully over and I just sent my boys out the door for their first day of school in twenty-fourteen. Successfully over, I say, because by dint of careful rationing the buckeyes lasted two weeks and the party mix a whole month. And nobody got hit with a bat in any vital parts during the piñata fest though we had some close calls. And I had to cry a few times from worship.

A most excellent holiday season. And now I get to rest, with quiet snow outside and my boys happily back in school, with sewing projects soon to be humming on my machine and a cup of hot tea to nurse my headache.

How was your Christmas? What do you look forward to next? I’d love to hear.


Dear Jesus,

I can hardly believe it, but two thousand years later it’s easy to think that the stable was a romantic place for a birth. Cozy light, cooing doves, an immaculate virgin, a smiling baby.

The stable was an awful place for a birth, cold and dark, filled with pooping cows and flatulating donkeys and enough crawling germs to make any new mother recoil in horror. Into this place you came, slippery, bloody, squalling. They caught you before you hit the floor, and blessed Yahweh for the one clean place—yards of soft cloth your mother prepared for you.

Quiet at her breast, you blinked dark baby eyes, sticky with the first tears of your humanity, taking in the world into which you’d emerged.

And you were perfectly at home.

You lay at rest as the bacteria crept over to greet the king of the world. In the awful vulnerability of newbornness, silken skin against rough hay, tiny organs pushing back the cold and sickness, you lay at rest.

Today I try to create a perfect space for your coming—everything clean, neatly wrapped, rich, delectable, quiet. I cannot get it done. It won’t be just so and I cannot pull it off, but into this space you come anyway—into this place of unfinished ideas, homemade dolls with too small of heads, disappointing fruitcake, presents clumsily swaddled in cheap paper, merry voices too loud around me. You come. You are perfectly at home here, and where you enter the world is made holy.

You are beyond me. I love you and weep for you and ache for you to come.


Christmas ideas

Confession: I’m back in my box again. I’m sorry; it’s a brain freeze I get sometimes when my blog becomes a place for me to try to win the approval of an audience instead of a place of creative joy–a mutually dissatisfying situation. Time for another blogging vacation. Don’t miss me too much.

(and furthermore:)

Plus my laptop just died, as in died died; not even my amazingly resuscitative husband can get a pulse. Plus my blog has been experiencing technical difficulties: if you’ve been having trouble receiving email notifications or accessing pages, you’re not alone. But the amazing husband is on it.

(and furthermore:)

Plus there’s a squirrel living in my kitchen wall. I named him Great Jumping Jehoshaphat, which is what I want to yell every time I hear him scrabbling there. My husband is going to get on him too, as soon as other issues are resolved. In short, my husband has plenty to do these days… This paragraph does not have anything to do with my point.

I’ll be back when I’m ready; maybe at New Years, maybe before. I’m going to have some fun playing with Baby Jesus, knitting slippers, making piñatas, and drinking lots of hot cocoa with whipped cream.

Meanwhile here are some Christmas ideas from last year for your enjoyment.

Christmas Messiness: 2012 guest post by Marlene Stoltzfus

Happy celebrating!