Early in the new year, I embarked on a challenge posed to me in a crafters’ Facebook group to complete an unfinished craft project each month in 2020. How refreshing to know that I did not struggle alone with unfinished projects! Several weeks later as I started working exclusively from my home office and my workload reduced from three jobs to one, I felt energized and was anticipating success in this challenge.
March’s project turned out to be more than what I bargained for. It was a stamped cross-stitch project to make fabric Thanksgiving napkins. Six of the eight had been stitched, so I felt it was an attainable goal for March. I ended up learning alot about life from these turkeys!
The first thing I noticed was that my eyesight was not what it was when I began the project. I could only enjoyably stitch on sunny days sitting in the chair near my living room window. Ugh. That did not make me feel good when my comfy recliner was nearby. But the project had to be done.
Next I reminded myself that I do not really like the look of turkeys (if you do find them adorable, we can still be friends – eye of the beholder and all that). Why did I even buy this kit? I chose to push those thoughts away and focus on the beautiful coloured threads I was using to craft this project. I ran low on a couple of the colours, but in my vast stash of all things crafty I found suitable substitutes. I was NOT going to spend any more money on craft supplies!!
As I stitched my initials and the year on the last one I felt empowered! I was almost done the project. To be honest, it was April now and I had not completed the project within the month. Due to many grey days I could not stitch every day, and on some days, navigating the ever-changing formats of teaching online classes took more than the hours I had originally allotted in my planner. I missed the deadline I had imposed on myself, but that was easily forgiven and I knew the crafters in the FB group would be equally kind.
I found the fabric I had purchased a year ago at least at a local thrift store for the backing. I actually had purchased backing fabric more than once at said thrift store, but I was sure white broadcloth would come in handy for more projects down the line. After assembling the napkins I had one more task; another one that was not my favourite. They had to be ironed before they could be put away in the drawer of my china cabinet where I anticipated pulling them out for Thanksgiving dinner, or maybe even EVERY dinner in October!
As I ironed I looked at my work. I noticed the year that I had stitched on each one at its completion. The first one was 2002! What was my life like in 2002? My daughter was 10 years old and we were living in Prince Edward Island. Changes were in the wind for me. It was an unsettled time in several areas of my life and I remembered sitting and stitching, looking at the water and this brought me such peace.
My daughter’s initials were on one of the napkins. She stitched this in 2002, likely during our first long Maritime winter as we enjoyed being close to the wood stove. I am so thankful that God’s creative spirit flows in her and she has become a fourth generation to show love through handmade gifts. This move was a difficult transition for her and it brings up memories of doubts and fears I had about my mothering skills and what kind of an example I was setting for this precious child. Today, she is an amazingly talented, loving and beautiful young woman and I am blessed and grateful to be her mom.
Not long after that I returned to working full-time after 11 years as homemaker, mom and crafter. The project was set aside as we moved, and moved again. Life fell apart for a while but God was faithful.
I next picked up the project in 2017. Life was so different than it was the last time I held the cloth in my hands. I was the mom of a teenager! Even more unexpectedly, God put my life back together and blessed me with a new family. My husband is a godly, patient man and we walked together out of devastation, betrayal and rejection into a new season in God together. With him, my new husband brought his two children, and I love them as my own. They both love to express themselves creatively in various ways.
I only completed one turkey napkin and then the project was set aside again. I was working as a medical office assistant and medical transcriptionist as well as helping my husband as he pastored a small church. Another new season. I was able to use creativity as I taught children about Jesus and countless opportunities to show the love of God through handmade gifts.
Now, in this unprecedented and uncertain season I picked up fabric, needles and floss again, and this time, while sitting in a sunny window in my living room, I was finally able to finish this project. What a sense of accomplishment! It felt wonderful to slip the completed napkins into the drawer and put the extra floss and needles away.
It reminded me of something my YouTube fitness trainer, Pahla B has said about running. “Life has a lot to teach us about running, and running has a lot to teach us about life.” This can be true about being creative.
Life has a lot to teach us about being creative and being creative has a lot to teach us about life.
I might regret that it took me 18 years to complete this craft project; the inconsistency, the avoidance, the dragging of my feet, the excuses. But again and again, I pulled myself back to it and in small determined steps with pricking my fingers, eyes straining to thread a needle, tears falling as I used creativity to ease the pain of life. And I finished it. I completed the task set before me. I claimed victory and will have remembrance of the journey and the victory every Thanksgiving when they are displayed.
Such is my walk of faith. Days where I am too tired to read my Bible. Mornings when I cannot bring myself away from the busyness of life to come to meet God in prayer. Pushing aside the call of God and His Truth that would heal and complete me if I laid down my own agenda. Excuses why I can’t do it right now, God.
But again and again, He calls me close to Him. To open myself up to His work creating a me that resembles Jesus more and more as I sit in the sunny window of His love. Days when He gives me strength and armour to keep serving when the words and actions of people prick at my heart over and over. When my tears pour like a flood for the lost ones in my world as I plead with God to soften their hearts and allow me one more opportunity to show the way to peace, to acceptance, to Him.
One day, I will complete the tasks He has planned for me and then I will go home and I will never have to move again. I will be displayed as His much-loved daughter and it will always be a day for thanksgiving and rejoicing. I will see the full magnitude of His creativity its beauty.
So out comes the next unfinished project. I will stitch and glue and stamp and present a gift to someone to show I love them enough to spend precious time working on something creative just for them. And I present myself to Jesus as a yet-unfinished project and allow Him to do His creative work and make me someone that He can give to this hurting world to show that He loves it enough to make it beautiful and whole.
Does this speak to the season in your life? I’d love to hear from you! Maybe you know someone who needs some encouragement that God is working to make something beautiful in their life. Feel free to share this post. If want a great YouTube fitness trainer who will encourage you to success, check out this woman who makes me sweat and smile several days a week, Pahla at pahlabfitness.com.