Monthly Archives: August 2016

Quilting Party

Quilting Party


 I didn’t know how many would come to my quilting party but I knew, however many or few, we’d have a good time. I invited women I know and love, some of whom are excellent quilters, some just learning, one who decided to work on her own creative crocheting project. There were four of us at the quilting frame, two on each side, with others coming and going, sharing a story, a laugh, and some heartening hugs.

It was a glorious beautiful morning outside and, because of my quilting friend Sally and her husband Wes, we had the quilt on a nice frame and a light that is perfect for quilting. It was a great morning for quilting on my nine-patch quilt I named “Sunny Afternoon.” The name is right for all the bright colors, the hummingbirds, butterflies, flowers and blueberries.

During hard times in our country’s history women quilted. They quilted to keep their families warm. They quilted using whatever resources they had, remnants of torn or outgrown garments, flour sacking and unbleached muslin. They quilted so all their blankets could go to keep their soldiers warm. In more affluent times and with new exciting fabrics they became extravagantly creative. In leaner times they made do with what they had. They quilted alone in their rural separateness. But sometimes they had a quilting party or quilting bee. Getting together to quilt they could actually finish several quilts in one day and everyone enjoyed it.

Women today don’t need to quilt. We can buy handmade quilts from China for far less than it costs to make them ourselves. We don’t need quilts as door hangings as pioneer women did. We don’t even have time to quilt. Working women are scattered every day to highly intense jobs, and when a busy homemaker gets home she and her spouse have hungry children, and then there are ball games, PTO meetings, and the list goes on.

But, yes, women do need to quilt. They need it for their own emotional health, for spiritual wellbeing, for connecting with the past, the future, and themselves. They need it for the sense of accomplishment it gives. They need it for passing on to their daughters a skill of the past and for teaching them to be resourceful, for our future may very well require that.

And, yes, quilting now is a very popular craft for women and for men. There is such a satisfaction and joy in making something beautiful even if, as in my case, the squares are not square and the seams keep dashing away from straight!

The word “quilt” comes from the Latin word “culcita” which means stuffed sack. It is a cloth sandwich with a decorated top layer (whether pieced fabric, appliquéd work, or a whole fabric with intricately stitched design), a soft filler (one hundred years ago the filler was dense, heavy cotton, but now is light and easy to stitch through), and the backing which also showcases the hundreds of stitches made on the topside.

I wondered if new quilters, or some who hadn’t quilted since forever, would grow quickly discouraged at a quilting party and remember something else they needed to do. I made a crock pot of soup, muffins, and brownies before they came so the house would smell so good they’d have to stay for lunch. And they did.

I also planned that we’d take turns being readers, read good wholesome shorts from Guideposts, maybe some poetry of Sidney Lanier, and our favorite Bible passages. There was no need for that plan! The chatter amongst us was all the entertainment we needed. Juanita, who is a veteran quilter, told us about some of her quilting successes and errors (we love to know that someone so good can make a mistake!). Annette helped us remember quilters in our church who now are in heaven and that brought on some interesting discussion on what may be happening in heaven. Sue, who had never quilted before, got so excited when she could see she’d stitched three three-inch blocks, we all had a good laugh. And when I sewed my finger to the quilt all I could hear other than giggles was “Don’t bleed on it!” Juanita kindly helped me cut free.

The moment-by-moment comments of quilters range from “All right! There went the knot popping in” to “Who had the thread last?” to “If I hurry, I can get to the end of this block before the thread runs out.” There are the peaceful murmury sounds of a long thread winging through fabric, of knots popping in, of the quilting frame creaking and giving to the quilters’ movements.

We talked about prayer needs. There were several heavy ones just amongst the few of us. We avoided politics this crazy election year but talked gleefully about our grandchildren, new folks in our community, how many bricks are going to be visible on the sidewalks when Cairo’s renovated town center is complete. We even talked about football. Sue lives near the high school stadium; Annette is an avid fan as am I.

Lunch was fun. My husband came home, helped serve iced tea, and, as usual, kept everyone enthralled with one of his animal stories from a morning’s work. Was that the day they put a 500 pound sow on a surgical table designed for dogs? And Dr. Kidd, a neat little lady veterinarian, stood up on a stool to get the right surgical perspective.

When my friends started to go, I gave them each one of my books, an author’s prerogative, and reminded them to take their thimbles, souvenirs of our quilting party. And we formed a circle around the quilt and prayed for those prayer needs, especially for Sally recovering from a fall and about to have surgery.

Titus 2:3 says this about women and I think it applies to all the wonderful quilters in my background including my mother and to present quilters, discounting, of course, the “a” word: “The aged women likewise, that they be in behavior as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;”

They all said they’d come back. And that’s really good because my quilt is not nearly finished.

Below is a picture of my dear granddaughter Amanda who helps me “blog” my pictures. I insisted she make stitches too! Charli was very patient and curious.

If you’ve had fun giving a quilting party, or just quilting, why not make a comment below?



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Keep Your Bell Ringing

Imagine you have a bell in your hand and that when it rings it gives out the most beautiful silvery tone. Can you hear it? It might sound like bells ringing across water assuring everyone that all is at peace. It might be a joyful ringing announcing good news. It could be even a warning bell alerting everyone to take precautions and be safe.

Now imagine that your enemy doesn’t want your bell to be heard. Your enemy, in this case, is Satan. He doesn’t want that bell to ring at all and he’s going to do all he can to keep it from ringing. If he can just fill your bell up with balls of cotton it won’t ring any longer.

Here are some of the “balls” of cotton Satan will try to insert in your bell so that the ringer won’t hit the side and make that beautiful silvery sound:

If Satan can just kill your joy that will be a silencer in your bell. Joy in your Saviour, in life eternal, in the beauty of God’s good earth, all joy is taboo with Satan. He can’t stand joy. And the way he kills your joy is to make you feel guilty or doubt your salvation or for some reason stop trusting Jesus. If he can kill your joy your bell will not ring as clearly any longer.

Another “ball” to dull the clear sound of your bell would be to make you yield to temptation. There’s no way any Christian can avoid yielding to temptation without the help of Jesus. So Satan tries to get us to yield and then feel so guilty we end up yielding again. Result: a dull sounding bell.

If he can’t get your bell stopped by killing your joy or making you yield to temptation he will try other means of taking away your faith. In a crisis he will whisper in your ear and tell you the pain and heartache you’re experiencing came straight from God and you need to just turn your back on Him. And when you listen to Satan your bell goes duller still.

If Satan can keep plugging in balls of cotton such as making you ignore danger signals, taking away your peace, destroying the wonderful fruit God wants you to produce, he will be triumphant. Your bell will go silent so that no one around you will be able to hear the music God intended you to make. You will still be safe for eternity because when you become God’s child, no one can snatch you away. But your bell will be silent.

But wait! There’s a “recipe” for keeping your bell ringing clear and bright, sounding joyfully from hill to hill, and making a difference for those who are hopelessly lost.

Put on the whole armor of God as spelled out in Ephesians 6:10-18. Putting on His armor will make us able to stand against anything Satan throws at us. He won’t have a chance to plug in those cotton balls!

What does the armor include?

First of all, the belt of truth. (v. 14) Snug that belt around your waist (or loins) and breathe deeply of God’s own truth. Know that “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy: I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)

Next, put the breastplate of righteousness (v. 14)in place. Listen to the Lord’s commands, both in scripture and from the Holy Spirit, and obey. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matt. 6:33)

Then put on your gospel shoes (v.15), have your feet fitted with preparation which comes from the gospel of peace. When you start on any journey, you select carefully your shoes, don’t you? If you’re hiking, you want the very best sturdy hiking shoes or boots, if you’re going to a tea you want appropriate beautiful shoes. So if you’re starting on a day when you may be battling Satan, be sure to be prepared. Wear those gospel shoes which are put together with peace so that “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

In addition to the above, pick up the shield of faith. The shield of faith will keep you safe from the fiery darts Satan wants to hurl at you. How else but with faith can you keep him from silencing your bell? The breastplate of righteousness may seem like enough, but you need the shield of faith also. If you lose all the other pieces of your armor, hang onto that! “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1)

Your hat is usually the last thing you put on. But that doesn’t mean it’s less important. If you don’t have the helmet of salvation none of the rest of your armor is any good. You must have consciously repented of your sins and asked Jesus to be your Saviour. Jesus never forces His way in so you have to invite Him! So now, remembering the time you said, “Lord, I want to follow You,” you place that helmet firmly on your head and prepare to go out into the world.

But wait! There’s one more piece, an oh-so-important piece: “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Entering spiritual warfare without our Bibles (actually in our hands ready to read or memorized in our hearts) would be like handing Satan a whole bag of cotton balls and our saying “Have at it!” We are under the command of Lord God Almighty. We have to know His words! We have to stay in touch both by His word and through prayer.

What can God do with one little silver bell? You will be amazed!

So go, ring your bell!  Let the whole world know that Jesus Christ is Lord.

(I wrote the above after hearing Brother Carl Harrell preach so effectively at First Baptist Church, Cairo last Sunday on putting on God’s armor– and then hearing the Sons of Jubal sing, ring bells, and play instruments to the glory of God on Thursday night at First Baptist Church, Thomasville.)



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Grandchildren Trees

The week our first grandchild was born happened to be Earth Week. When my husband and I ordered hamburgers at a McDonald’s near the hospital we received along with our meal a tiny pine tree planted in a Styrofoam cup. We laughed about the incongruity of an Earth Day gift in a Styrofoam cup. But we liked the little tree and, even though we had lots of huge pines already, we set out to plant that one. We planted it where it would receive plenty of sunshine and grow to a lofty height. This tree, we told each other, would always be our granddaughter Amanda’s age. It was quite naturally dubbed “Amanda’s Tree.” In the picture we took of her with her tree when they were a year old she’s smiling big and the tree only reached to her little feet dangling from the stroller. Now, at twenty-five, our girl turned woman has to look high in the sky to see the top of her tree.

When our next grandchild was born someone was giving away maple trees in cups. We planted Charles Douglas’s little tree near a couple other maples hoping for bright colors in the fall. “This tree will never be as tall as Amanda’s pine,” I worried. But Charles, my husband, reasoned that wasn’t the point. We were planting a nice tree to honor the birth of Charles Douglas Reeves. Later, when he was old enough to question why his tree wasn’t as big as Amanda’s, I assured him his would be much brighter.

Our third grandchild was born on the first of January, not in March like the first two. No one was passing out trees in Birmingham. But when we got home to our place in Cairo, Georgia, we looked around and decided this grandson, William Stacey Graham, Jr., should have a tree also. It just so happened that not far from one of our huge pines was a brand new long leaf seedling. Charles staked it for protection and that became William’s tree. As you can imagine, for two or three years he was totally unimpressed by that little tree. As he grew in wisdom and stature, however, he was glad to own a tree as his cousins did.

And then along came Thomas Hamilton Graham, born in February. No trees were being given. But Charles and I had begun to crave a ghinko tree. We’d enjoyed their fall color when we lived in Athens and then had been intrigued by the sprawling ghinko at our church in Cairo where it hugs up under a magnificent sweetgum. We purchased a ghinko tree that spring and planted it by the driveway where a palm tree had died leaving a nice rich spot. Thomas’s tree grew year by year more slowly than the other trees but with a certain exotic atmosphere true to its Chinese heritage, its fan-shaped leaves turning gold in the fall.

By the time Martha Elizabeth Graham was born in March, 2009, we had become enthusiasts of the majestic and romantic magnolia trees. Charles planted one for “Mattie” across the driveway from Thomas’s ghinko tree. I thought about the women in the movie “Steel Magnolias” and felt sure this little girl who, even at her difficult birth, was called by her father “a fighter,” would become both gentle and strong like them. Our first picture of Mattie with her tree shows her instant curiosity over those shiny leaves.

Growing a tree for each of our five grandchildren has not been without some disappoint-ments. Thomas’s ghinko tree lost its whole top one year in a storm but it has recovered and looks beautiful now. Charles Douglas’s maple contracted some kind of moldy disease and died. Charles D took it in stride. We planted him another tree but it died too. By then Charles D himself was about grown and able to laugh about losing two trees. “Don’t plant another one,” he said. “Look at all these trees we have to mow around already.”

And now we’re selling our place, our beloved “Lane of Palms.” What will happen to all the grandchildren trees? I comfort myself in thinking some other children will enjoy playing around those trees. But I know that is just a leafy dream. We can look at our pictures from “tree photo ops” over the years and reminisce. But I hope most of all that our grandchildren will always love and respect trees and find joy in their beauty.

As Joyce Kilmer wrote in his poem titled “Trees,” “Poems are made by fools like me, But only God can make a tree.”

If you’ve planted trees for your grandchildren, or made some other kind of collection, given books to the library in their honor, or made a tradition of some kind with them, please share your comments below.


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Better Than Smelling Salts

Smelling salts were used to restore little ladies who fainted from wearing their stays or corsets too tight, or from being in love, or embarrassed beyond belief, or shocked to the very core. At least that’s what the English novels indicated. But that was in another era when ladies were not as strong and resilient as they are now (that probably is a debatable issue which we are not going into at this time.) As a matter of fact, I can’t picture Great-Aunt Delia being less than strong and resilient herself. Yet she’s the one who owned the smelling salts decanter that is now part of my bottle collection. She would really crow, I guess, if she’d known that now it’s young athletic men who are using smelling salts.

My Daddy’s aunt Delia Sweet could, it seemed to me, “hold her own” in any given situation. Of course I never personally knew her since she died before I was born. But the stories about her were quite vivid, one involving her feeding her several cats on stewed rats which she caught herself. Doesn’t sound like someone who needs smelling salts.

In setting up my bottle collection in a new house, a new kitchen, on a new shelf, I became curious. As I placed the little smelling salts decanter in the middle of bottles which had held other less interesting commodities like shoe polish, mayonnaise, and mouthwash, I wondered what were smelling salts anyway?

Smelling salts, also known as hartshorn or sal volatile, are used for arousing consciousness. In the 17th century it was discovered that shavings from the horns of harts gave off gas (ammonia) which irritated the lungs and throat when smelled, thus arousing consciousness. (Anybody used ammonia lately in cleaning? It sure is a startling sensation when the scent goes up your nose!) As early as the 13th century some form of smelling salts were used. In fact, smelling salts are referred to in a play by Aristophanes, a comic playwright of ancient Athens.

I thought the use of smelling salts was all something of the past. But no. I went online and learned the up-to-date facts, a few of which I’ll give you. Viewers of football or hockey games may observe players at the very beginning of a game being tossed small cylinders which they pop open and sniff, then discard the packaging. It is smelling salts, actually ammonia mixed with medical alcohol. When sniffed, the ammonia opens blood vessels in the nasal passage causing a rush of oxygen to the brain.

Sniffing smelling salts is all quite legal and safe, at least when practiced in moderation. But boxers are not allowed to use the stuff. Anyone with a possibility of a concussion should not be revived and sent back into a fray. At the same time, an injured athlete of any sport should not be given smelling salts. Head injuries could be exacerbated by the sudden jerks smelling salts would produce. In other words, it’s something to use in mild situations, to give a boost. Trainers, supposedly, do not give football players additional sniffs of smelling salts during a game. For one thing, ammonia is foul smelling, and for another, it would lose its affect with repeated doses.

In 1924 England one could purchase smelling salts in the form of something called “Vaporal.” Ladies carried them in their reticules. Vaporal came in dainty little boxes of twelve silk-covered glass capsules. Today athletes receive cute little glass cylinders of smelling salts wrapped in cotton, then cardboard. They snap the package in the middle, the ammonia spills into the cotton, the athlete sniffs it, then, according to one reporter, begins to jerk and almost dance. It is an obvious reaction that is noticeable on national television.

Now that I’ve given you all this useless information, useless unless you’re prone to faint over the daily news, I want to make a couple of observations.

Smelling salts aren’t even salt. But I think, judging by my decanter and old Victorian pictures, that clerks at the apothecary did sometimes pour that ammonia over coarse salt (like ice cream salt) for looks and maybe preservation. I’d definitely rather get my “salt” from a nice hot bag of fresh buttered popcorn!

Another observation. To achieve a surge of energy, I recommend you read God’s love letter to man, the Bible, at least one portion every day. Repeated doses never hurt! And for a big weekly surge of power, go to church on Sunday, or anytime!

Trust me. It works. And you don’t have to be burdened with those weird little glass capsules. Or with a fancy glass decanter. (I can’t picture my aunt De getting that decanter to her nose if she were prone. Maybe she used it for my tiny grandmother, her sister. That could account for the very solemn look on Grandmother’s pictured face.)



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