for some time now, a lot of the quilts that i have a strong desire to make are inspired by two things: antique quilts and life. there are so many different ideas for quilts floating around in my head guided by those two, that even if i lived to be 256 years old, i wouldn’t run out of ideas. i think it’s a sickness. 😉
the past 1.5 years have been quite interesting for me. it’s been a time of stepping out of my comfort zone. okay…i take that back; it’s been a time of kicking that comfort zone’s butt and walking away from it into the sunset. it’s been scary, fun, challenging, frustrating, thrilling and rewarding. taking that first step, back in june of 2008, and applying to nursing school was the first big step for me. i knew that i was going to have to face some of my giants along the path…the giants that i cowered down to when they would raise their ugly heads in the past.
the first giant was testing into nursing school. even though i had tested into a different nursing program back when i was 17, i still didn’t feel that i was smart enough to pass it yet again. years of having my self-esteem blown to pieces had taken its toll on me. yet i knew that i had to give it another go, or be left with wondering what if. when i got that letter of acceptance, i was so excited…but i knew that that letter opened up the door good and wide for a whole new army of giants to come in and take up residence. the same ones that i had been able to keep in check for over 20 years.
during the past 9 months, i’ve encountered those giants many times. some were bigger than others, but all presented me with a choice…i had to either deal with them right then, or let them continue to run my life. it would have been so much easier just to let them continue to have their way with my life, but instead, i took up that challenge and proved them wrong each and every time. still, in the back of my mind, there was one giant that loomed. i knew his name and i hated him. he had held me prisoner for over 20 years, and just the thought of encountering him made me shake, literally. i knew that, as the months passed, his arrival was getting closer. so, as any true quilter would do, i pulled out some of my most favorite fabrics, and started in on a quilt (that’ll show him! 😉 ).
this quilt had been brewing in me for quite awhile. it probably started back when i saw this quilt, which ironically, was just 3 days after i sent in my application to nursing school. when i saw it, i immediately thought of the red cross, and nurses like clara barton and florence nightingale. a short time later, i came across this quilt as i was leafing through one of my quilt books.
i didn’t have a definite plan for the quilt, but i tend to do my best pondering when i’m working with fabric. i knew that this quilt was going to be different than any other that i had made before. remember, i’m a planner to the extreme. before i take my first cut into my fabrics, i usually at least have a good idea in the direction i’m heading. not this time.
this is what i came up with. it seemed very appropriate since one of those giants of mine was fear of being too stupid for nursing school. after 9 months of what seems like constant testing and still maintaining my 4.0 grade average, i think we can say that i’m winning that battle. 😀
i used my most favorite green in my stash along with the pink that has been my all-time favorite for years. i only had a little bit of it left (even though i have searched for more without any luck), but i wanted it in this quilt. and the stars? yeah, they just kinda happened. they aren’t anything that i would’ve made even 3 years ago, but somehow, they felt really right for what was going on. i love ’em. 8)
so, as the days and weeks passed, i worked on my blocks when i had the chance. once i had made 12, i decided that i was done making the blocks…but, where did i go from there? i really needed to have something to work with because time was ticking away too quickly. i could hear the footsteps of that giant making his way to the door, and i wasn’t ready to face him. that’s when the stone trees came to be.
some of you may remember the Bible account of when david met goliath…the giants of all giants. the giant that had a whole nation paralyzed with fear…except for one young boy. david faced this giant, armed only with his sling and 5 smooth stones. most importantly, he stood in front of this giant, goliath, with a whole lot of faith in God. when he approached goliath, he got laughed at by the giant. instead of shrinking away with his sling and small stones, david faced him with this reply:
“thou comest to me with a sword and with a spear,and with a shield: but i come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of israel, whom thou hast defied…and all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands.”
that day, goliath was killed by the young david, and it wasn’t the stones alone that brought him down; it was the faith that cast those stones.
there i was, getting ready to face one of my own giants, trying to talk myself into the courage that i would need. it was then, after those 12 blocks were made and i was pondering all of this giant business while snow and ice beat against the windows that i broke down and cried. i realized the problem wasn’t the giant itself, but my own lack of faith in the God that i serve. if i truly believed that God led me down the path that i was on (and i do, without a doubt), why didn’t i have faith that God would be with me and give me strength and guidance when i faced this giant of mine? afterall, He knows about this giant. He knows how much fear it brings to me, more so than almost anything else in my life. the kind of fear that literally makes me shake and brings me to tears just thinking about it. if He aimed to bring me down this path, i needed to have the faith that He would get me through the encounters that have brought me so much fear. it’s how He helps me grow into a better person…one that He can use.
two days after coming to that realization, i started working on my own stones…the ones that i was going to use to face my giant. it was hard, and quite humbling. once i had two trees made, i was at a loss what to do next. i still had two more borders to go. after thinking that i would just leave it the way it was, i remembered a time when that giant had visited me before, and the outcome of that encounter.
about 2 years ago, i got brave and ventured out by myself on a january afternoon. i had a hair appointment, and i didn’t see any reason for the rest of the family to go with me when all they’d be doing is sitting around waiting. no, i was going to be brave. afterall, the weatherman wasn’t saying anything about snow. off i went in my red pick-up, being all brave. when i came out after my appointment, i was stunned to see that it was snowing…hard. great.
i dug around for more of that courage, climbed in my truck and started in on the 45 minute drive home. the one that always gets worse the further you go. top speed was probably around 35 mph, for not only me, but everyone else on the roads..and of course there were no state trucks to be found (my tax dollars hard at work!). to add a bit more thrill to the drive, freezing rain was added into the mix. after an hour of driving, i was relieved to have finally gotten within sight of my house. i had made it! take that, you nasty giant! ahh…but i spoke too soon. when i was not even 1/8 mile from turning onto our little dirt road, my truck decided to make things a bit more interesting. as i was going down over the little hill (i hate hills!), it started going sideways, really fast. obviously, underneath all of that snow, there was a whole pile of ice, and, as trucks like to do (even 4wd ones), it was fish tailing. the back-end was determined to pass me. i corrected it with my steering wheel, only to have it go the other way. this went on for what seemed like HOURS, and thankfully, no one was coming the other way or i would’ve taken them out. of course, those telephone poles kept on getting closer and closer as i zig-zagged my way up the road. when i finally pulled into my garage, there was a not-so-quiet revival meeting going on inside of that truck! 😉 that was the last time i went out on winter roads driving. the giant had won, yet again…just like he had so many other times. it only seemed appropriate for some red zig-zags to be thrown in.
so, from those experiences in my life, a quilt was formed.
done out of an attempt to distract, ignore and ponder fears that have plagued me for way too long, but i am determined (she says in a quivering voice) to overcome.
as you may have gathered, my “giant” has a name. it’s called “fear of driving in the winter” (sounds a lot more intimidating than goliath, doesn’t it! 😉 ). i have always hated it, but through the years, it has gone from hate to absolute fear. let me tell ya, when you live where i do, there’s no way around it. of course, for the past 20 years, i’ve been fortunate enough to avoid it…largely by planning things so that my husband could do the driving (the man who doesn’t bat an eye at ice or snow…the nut!). the few times that i’ve had to, i am a babbling, trembling mess, no kidding. my legs and hands are shaking so bad that i’m pretty much useless. i don’t care if i got the best tires on a 4wd, it’s WINTER, for goodness sake. this here girl wasn’t going out in it, no way, no how. it is a fear that has ruled my life…what i did and didn’t do from about november until the end of march, every year. once i figured out the real root of the problem (lack of faith), i’m determined to fix it. goliath will lose, yet again. 8)
i just finished up the last stone tree border yesterday. i did have to pause in the middle of it’s making so that i could go out and DRIVE IN THE BLIZZARD THAT WAS OCCURRING ON MONDAY NIGHT. 😀 okay, so maybe it wasn’t quite a blizzard, but still, the roads were covered with several inches of snow and it was still snowing hard. of course, no state trucks were out…they weren’t going out on those bad roads. 😉
this wasn’t the first time i’ve driven on bad roads this year either. since last fall, when i finally realized the real identity of my giant, i have gone out several times in bad weather, and have encountered it on my way home from clinical sites in the evenings. no, it wasn’t fun…at all, and i realize that really, winter has just begun here. i still have the worst month to get through…the dreaded JANUARY. but it is different now than what it has been the past 20 years. now, i have a bit more confidence. i know the God that i serve and what He’s capable of. He’s the one that does the driving….i just hold onto my stones of faith. 😉