Saturday, January 25, 2014

Grow Your Blog!

Hi, all!

How exciting! It's finally time for the Grow Your Blog blog party! If this is your first time here, thank you for coming - I hope you'll stick around and check out some of the other posts before you go.  This is a fairly new blog so it wouldn't take much time at all to get all caught up.

So, a bit about me and this blog.  My name is Sarah, and I live near Nashville, TN.  I started blogging and quilting back in January of 2010 at Confessions Of A Fabric Addict to chronicle my efforts to reduce my stash.  Of course, it didn't work, AND I ended up with a serious quilting addiction.  Our church's quilt ministry sprang up right about that time, and we shared the quilts we were making through Confessions.  

But as 2014 rolled around, I decided that it was time for the quilt ministry to have its own blog, so that we could share some of the stories that went along with the quilts.  I still talk about the ministry quilting on Confessions, but this blog is where we go into more detail about some of the quilts.

Some of our ladies working on that first quilt!

Our ministry started in November 2009 when we made a quilt for a young woman in our church diagnosed with cervical cancer.  Fifteen women who had never made a quilt before got together and in a day made a quilt that should never have worked.  From that day on, our feet were set on a path that has led to a thriving quilt ministry called Piece*Love*Quilt.  In slightly over four years, we've given away 690 quilts, and we hope to give away our 1000th quilt this year.  You can read more about how it all started here!

A quilt for a young man in Louisiana with a serious brain injury.
He is a huge LSU fan, hence the purple and gold blocks!
Our quilts are usually requested by our church members and go to people who are going through serious physical, medical, or emotional issues.  They have become a tool for our church to use to minister to the community around us.  Last year more than two thirds of the quilts we made went to people outside of our church body!  Our quilts have gone as far away as Singapore, and as close as next door.  We have also sent quilts with our middle school and high school mission teams to New Orleans, LA and a very poor rural community in Rogersville, TN to be given to residents in need.  It is so rewarding to use the talents God has given us to create quilts that will comfort people for generations!

He calls it his "smell-good" quilt!

And so many people in the blogging community have joined in our efforts!  It has been truly humbling and overwhelming to see the outpouring of support for this ministry through gifts of fabric, quilt blocks, unfinished projects, quilt tops,and finished quilts!  If you are also burdened down with too much stash, or projects that make you feel guilty because you will probably never complete them, this could be your answer!   We are very good at relieving UFO guilt and clearing shelves to make room for pretty new fabric, and you'll have the pleasure of seeing your donations become quilts that will help someone going through a difficult time.  Feel free to email me at salliesue (at) clearwire (dot) net if you want more information!

This mother of a fallen soldier wraps herself in her quilt to feel 
the comfort and love of others.
So thank you for stopping by!  I hope you'll check out some of the earlier posts so that you, too, can be amazed by what God can do when His people follow His lead.   The past four years have been an amazing journey and I can't wait to see what comes next.  Click the follow button or sign up to receive future posts by e-mail so you can find out, too!



Friday, January 24, 2014

When God Speaks, We Should Listen!

Hi, all!

Today I want to tell you a little story about how God lets us know what He wants us to do - even if we don't listen the first time!

Early this week we received request for a quilt for a woman who had surgery, but ended up on life support.  She is the young mom of two small girls, aged four and nine, and her husband is trying to cope with his wife's medical situation and everything else that day-to-day life with young children entails.  

When I read the email, the thought crossed my mind that those two little girls could really use a quilt, too.  But we were swamped with requests, so I shelved the idea and thought I'd come back to it after we got caught up.

So I drove up to church to pick up a pile of tops that were ready to be quilted. We keep a stack of them at the ready for when we have requests, and since I had about six requests at the time, I grabbed a big pile without looking and tucked them in my bag.

When I got back home, I reached in the bag for a quilt to load on the frame.  The first one that came to my hand was this pretty little pink quilt - 50"x 50", the perfect size for a little girl.  But because I was looking for adult quilts, I reached in the bag again...

and this quilt came out!  Another pink 50" x 50" top!  Well, sometimes you have to hit me over the head with a baseball bat to get something through my head, but not this time.  I realized that God wanted those two little girls to have quilts to snuggle in while their mom wasn't there to snuggle them - that they needed the comfort that the quilts would provide.  So on the frame they went!  

The quilt at the top of this post is the quilt that went to the girls' mom, along with the two pink quilts for the little girls. Hopefully their mom will be home soon, but in the meantime they can wrap up in the love and prayers of all the folks in our quilt ministry, who prayed over these quilts for the comfort of those two little girls and their mom.

Isn't God amazing?



PS For the record, these two quilt tops were pieced by Betty, a member of our quilt ministry.  She also made beautiful pieced backs for the quilts, which deserve to be shown…

… and the quilt at the top of the post was pieced and quilted by Debbie H., from fabric her daughter donated to the quilt ministry.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Just When It Was Needed...

Hi, all!

I thought you might like to see a picture of some of our quilt ministry members at work - this particular picture was taken the day we were making chair pockets for a local elementary school.  There were about fourteen of us there that day, and the room is pretty full.  We've now been averaging 26 or so on Wednesday nights, and you can imagine how much friendlier we've had to get!!  But that's a wonderful problem to have.

And now, for those of you who requested a warning….

One of the things we do each Wednesday night is pray over the quilts that will be going out that week.  We also ask if there are any prayer requests from anyone in the group, and that's where today's quilt comes in.

When it came time for prayer requests, Brooke spoke up and asked for prayer for her grandfather, who was in the hospital and not doing well.  After they finished praying, Pam remembered that we had some quilts finished that didn't have homes yet, and pulled out this one for Brooke to take to her grandfather.  She offered to take it home and wash it first, but Brooke declined, saying she was going to the hospital right then.  

Brooke went straight to her grandfather's room and placed the quilt over him on the bed.  He had been very restless and agitated during his stay in the hospital, but when the quilt was laid on him, he calmed down and slept well for the first time since he entered the hospital!  

After some improvement, he had a setback and was taken to ICU without his quilt.  Brooke took it to him and once again, he calmed down and rested.  He's still in the hospital, but covered with prayers and comfort….

It's always heartwarming to hear how a quilt has affected the recipient!  And having a quilt on hand ready to be given at the moment it was needed was priceless.  Thanks so much to the many people who have donated so much in the way of quilt blocks, tops, and fabric that has made us able to make the quilts that meet those needs!!

UPDATE:  Brooke posted this on Facebook this afternoon…

There will be a day with no more tears, no more pain, and no more fears.  There will be a day when the burdens of this place will be no more, we'll see Jesus face to face…

This afternoon my grandfather was healed of his cancer.  He is not hurting or suffering anymore.  We are so thankful for the legacy he leaves behind and all the memories.  Please keep our family in your prayers!!

I hope you'll join all of us in praying for Brooke and her family...



Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A Quilt For Amanda

Hi, all!

See that beautiful girl holding a quilt in the middle of the picture?  That's Amanda, a member of the girls' basketball team at one of our local high schools.  Unfortunately, she was recently diagnosed with leukemia.  Deborah, a member of our quilt ministry (the pretty brunette standing next to her) heard about it, and I want to share with you the story of this quilt.  What follows is in Deborah's own words...

I found out from a student, a couple of weeks before Christmas break, that one of her friends had just found out she has leukemia.  I took down some information and began to pray for her.  Later that day, I went and talked to the basketball coach and learned a little more background about Amanda, finding out that her treatment would begin the next day.  On Friday, we had a pep rally at the school where I work and Amanda goes to school.  Two of her teammates skyped Amanda and told the school to say hi and that we were thinking about her.  Amanda's teammates were so emotional - but I knew I could do something for all of them.

God has given me a talent - creativity!  And a heart for giving!  I have been working with my church's quilt ministry for the past three years.  It has grown exponentially each year but all through giving to those in need.  All of the material and supplies have been donated.  I just bring my talent and heart plus my sewing machine! I give God all the Glory!

I went through all our donated fabric and began a design.  I didn't know what colors would appeal to Amanda the most, but I was drawn to some beautiful blue floral fabric to use as a focus fabric and also a print that had encouraging phrases on it.  Little did I know that blue was Amanda's favorite color!  I also wanted to include all of Amanda's teammates, so I took some white material to the school and her coach got all the teammates and other coaches to write some blessings and encouragement to Amanda.  This became the back of her quilt.

During the Christmas break I finished the top and back of the quilt. I enlisted the help of Debbie, one of our long arm quilters, to pull the quilt together.  She let me do most of the quilting, my first time on a long arm, and it was complete!

I got a text from Amanda's coach letting me know that Amanda would be coming to the next basketball game, so we decided that we would present the quilt to her with all of her teammates around.  So after the game ended, I was taken back into the girls locker room to give Amanda her beautiful quilt.  She was so stunned and surprised!  She decided that it would be her treatment blanket to keep her warm.  

Before we give any quilt away, it is prayed over.  I just pray that the warmth of this quilt is giving Amanda a feeling of being loved and knowing we are praying for her healing!


This is why we love what we do - seeing God's hand moving in people to bring comfort and healing to others!  It always thrills me when I hear that a quilt we gave someone was the recipient's favorite color, knowing that God intended it that way.  I'm thankful that Deborah was sensitive to God's leading in this whole process, especially involving Amanda's teammates in the quilt.  I'm sure that gave them a feeling that they were helping Amanda out, too!  

Here's Deborah with her very first quilt!


Saturday, January 11, 2014


Hi, all!

Welcome to the first post on this new blog!!  Many of you may know that our quilt ministry has been operating for over four years now, but the time has come for it to have its own blog instead of sharing space on my personal blog.  So here it is!  This will be the place where we share about the quilts that we give away each week, and other things that are going on with the ministry.

And for those of you who are newcomers, I thought I'd share about how our ministry started.  You may have noticed the subtext on the blog header - "a blog about an accidental ministry".  This post (a reprint from my personal blog) will tell you a little bit more about why I call it an "accidental ministry"...


Several of you have asked about how our quilt ministry began, and after checking with the parties involved to be sure they didn't mind me posting about it on my blog, I'm ready to tell.  It's a good story but a little long, so grab a cup of coffee and settle in...

When I was leading a Beth Moore study group at church in the spring of 2009, a couple of the young women in the group were talking before class about how much they wished they had learned to sew, so that they could sew for their daughters.  Overhearing their conversation, I asked if they would come to a Saturday sewing group if we set one up through church, and they said they would.  So in August, we started a once-a-month sewing group to learn basic sewing.  Another group started on Wednesday nights, also teaching basics.  Between the two classes, we had about 20 people learning how to sew, led by about four of us who were experienced, mostly in making clothing.  We taught them how to make purses, simple children's dresses, and other easy projects.

Last November, Kelley, the wife of our youth minister, was told she had an abnormal PAP smear, and they wanted to check it again.  On the Monday before Thanksgiving, Kelley was told that she had cervical cancer and needed to have a total hysterectomy.  The results from her tests came back on Wednesday, confirming a rare and aggressive form of cancer, and her surgery was scheduled for the Monday following Thanksgiving weekend.  One of the other pastors' wives and I spoke on Wednesday, wanting to do something for Kelley, but not knowing exactly what to do. Being involved with the youth, Kelley didn't spend a lot of time with the other women at church, so we didn't know her very well.  We both agreed that we ought to do something, and that we would think about it and talk later.  

Cut to Thanksgiving morning, 5 a.m.  The house is quiet - dogs and husband still asleep.  I've put my turkey in the oven and I settle down at my sewing table to cut out the pieces for a quilt I want to make for my granddaughter for Christmas.  (This would be the first quilt I'd made in about 25 years, and only about my fifth ever!)

Now it gets a little strange, and is certainly indicative of the sense of humor God endowed me with....  As I'm sitting there working, I hear, "Make Kelley a quilt."  (I say "hear" but no, I'm not hearing voices, it's just the easiest way to describe it!  I thought it was just a wild idea that popped in my head...)  And I snorted, thinking yeah, right, there's no time to make Kelley a quilt!  A few minutes later, I hear again, "Make Kelley a quilt."  OK, this is getting weird now - obviously this is a little more than just a wild idea that I'm coming up with - but I think again that there's no way I can get one done before she goes in the hospital in five days. 

You would think that would be the end of it, wouldn't you? But no! The next thing I hear is "Get your friends to help you!"  (And now you see why I told you about starting our sewing classes.  If we hadn't started those classes, there wouldn't have been anyone to call on!)  OK, that's maybe possible - but it's still a wild idea.  And it's Thanksgiving weekend - who's going to give up any of their holiday time on the biggest shopping weekend of the year to come and sew?

And you know what I heard then?  "If you feed them, they will come!"  (I told you God gave me a weird sense of humor!)
From the movie "Field of Dreams"
About that time, my husband came in looking for coffee, and I asked him what he'd think if I took over the house on Saturday, filling it with women and making a quilt, something we'd never done before.  He said, "I think that's a great idea!"  Proof positive that this was not just some wild idea I came up with - this was God's idea!  (Bill really likes his nice quiet Saturdays!) So my next step was to get on Facebook and e-mail, and check to see who would be interested in helping in a project for Kelley - - - and within a couple of hours, I had over a dozen people who were willing to help, without even knowing what we were going to do!  We arranged to meet at my house on Saturday morning to make a quilt.

Friday morning rolls around, and I brave the Black Friday crowds to go to the store to buy fabric for the quilt.  Because of the time constraint I decide to use the same pattern I was looking at for my granddaughter's quilt, a mystery quilt by M'Liss Hawley that has nine different blocks, all made from fat quarters.  I figured this would be easy for a group of women to work on - each could work on one specific block design.  But I had no idea what colors Kelley liked, and I couldn't get any guidance anywhere.  So I went in blind, and chose an earth tone pack containing six fat quarters, to which I added more fat quarters, background fabric, and borders.  I also picked up solid Kona cream for the backing, which I had a special plan for.  Went home and cut out all the pieces we would need for the quilt.  Got to work making food for the next morning - we are Baptist, and literally, if you feed us, we will show up for almost anything!

Saturday morning dawns, and fifteen women show up at my house to help out!  Two ladies didn't sew at all, but one is an artist and the other is an editor with beautiful handwriting.  They got to work on the back of the quilt, writing Bible verses and song lyrics and drawing beautiful flower bouquets, all designed to encourage Kelley when she read them, and to feel like she was wrapping herself in God's promises and love every time she used the quilt.

The rest of us started putting together the quilt top.  Fortune favors the brave - and the uninformed!  I had no idea then how difficult it should be to assemble a quilt sewed by so many different people, none of whom were experienced quilters!  But this was an excellent pattern to use, because it was very forgiving.

The top was finished by mid-afternoon, and the quilt was completed and given to the girl who would be delivering it on Sunday morning.  I named this quilt “Field of Dreams” to reflect the references from the Kevin Costner movie - it just seemed appropriate!

I’m pleased to say that Kelley had an excellent result from her surgery, which ended up not being as radical as they originally thought it would need to be, and they caught her cancer so early that there was no need for chemo or radiation!  

About a month after her surgery, Kelley asked me how I knew that her design notebook was covered with the exact colors in the quilt we made - all her favorites!  I told her it must have been a God thing - because I certainly didn't know what colors she liked when I picked them out!
Kelley is involved in the ministry now - she's not a sewer, but she makes beautiful stamped cards and makes all the note cards that we send with our quilts as her contribution to the ministry.

After Christmas 2009, the ladies started asking me when we would be making another quilt. Boy, was I surprised!  But I had begun making quilts for Quilts For Kids, so I ordered some kits for us to work on during our January meeting, and cut some more out of my fabric stash. We made nine quilts that day!

One of those quilts went to a little girl we found out about through the church prayer list.  

A couple of weeks later, one of the pastors asked for a quilt for a woman in our church with brain cancer, so we made a quilt for her.

From those humble beginnings, our ministry has expanded. We still have quilting bees occasionally, but the need is usually greater than we can meet just with quilting bees, so many of our quilts are made by individuals on their own.  We now have about forty women who have made at least one quilt for the ministry from start to finish, and more are learning every day!  In addition to making quilts for people battling health issues, we are now making quilts for newborns in our church and families that we are ministering to.  As of today, we have made and distributed 675 quilts since four years ago.  God took willing hands and hearts and grew something wonderful - an "accidental" ministry!

And our ministry would have been so much more difficult without the help of so many wonderful quilt bloggers - many of you have stepped forward and donated fabric, finished quilts, and UFOs by the boxful!

We started our ministry working with fabric from our own fabric stashes and what we could afford to buy.  The many many yards of fabric and the UFOs that have been donated have made it possible for our ministry to grow and expand beyond anything I could have every dreamed of just four years ago.  To each of you who have donated to our ministry, please know you are an important and much-appreciated partner in the ministry.

We started out sewing in my house and met there for about two and a half years.  But as we grew, more space was needed, and our church decided to create a dedicated quilting room.  (You can see part of it in the picture at the top of this post!)  It has been fabulous blessing to have a space where we can store our fabric and supplies and leave our projects set up in between meetings.  This year we have been averaging twenty-five to twenty-eight sewers each time we meet, and that room that looked so large when we first moved into it is looking much smaller now!  But that's a wonderful problem to have!

We call our ministry "Piece*Love*Quilt" - three little verbs that form our mission statement - we piece, we love, we quilt.  And while doing so we have expanded our little world to include so many people.  Women who said, "I can't quilt!" are now saying, "Do you need me to make another quilt?"  I have seen God at work in ways I would never have imagined before we started this ministry.  I can't wait to see what happens in the years to come as we continue to grow!
Look at those wonderful ladies!
It's been a long post, as promised, and I appreciate everyone who stuck with me all the way to the end!  I am so thankful for each and every one of you!!