Recently, I began quilting. A craft I have only dabbled in before, but this creative outlet has helped me to be intentional in my prayer life.
Often, my heart yearns to be in the season of life that my friends may be currently experiencing. Before it was marriage, babies, new jobs, and new homes. This time, it is second-, third-, and sometimes fourth-babies. And I cannot pass go and jump to join them there.
So I intentionally choose to craft a gift for them. That is what led me to quilting. By choosing to make a gift, I choose to mull over the situation. I choose to make something beautiful out of what has sometimes been deep sorrow for me. I choose to pray over and for my friend and her coming life experience while I work. And by choosing this act of service, my joy for that friend inevitably grows. Love is given the chance to overcome my pain. I can celebrate their changes instead of bemoaning my broken body.
My most recent choice has been to hand-stitch a baby quilt. John and I are quickly becoming the only friends in our circle with an only child. While we know God CAN give us more children, we know that MORE children are not promised. We are intentionally facing life as if we will only get Owen. And Owen is infinitely enough of a miracle for us. There are no guarantees when it comes to parenthood. We cherish each step we are given.
I am new to quilting, so I can’t move through this process as quickly as other crafts. *Not to mention the time that my everyday life of homemaking, serving in our church, and keeping up with dear friends takes. But in choosing to piece a quilt top, baste the layers, hand-quilt the sandwich, and bind it myself, I am once again facing a step in my friends’ lives that I may not get to take. I am intentionally choosing to love this friend’s second baby as if he were my own, and show the love I would give to my own in a very tangible way.
Praying as I quilt challenges me to choose relationship over pain. It gives me the time to face the facts, grieve as needed, then allow God to work in that sorrow to produce joy. Grief is not a one-and-done experience. And I believe I will run into this particular grief over and over again until menopause hits… Possibly even beyond that for the rest of my earthly life. But God is bigger than my grief. The Lord brings joy that comes with the peace and knowledge that He hears my prayer. He knows the longings of my heart and does not ignore me. But His joy allows me to serve my friends and love them without any buts or what ifs.
Quilting as prayer induces heart-change. It gives me the grace I don’t deserve and pushes me to pursue joy in my life, my current situation, and to see God’s good in it. Because it IS good. God has given me much and I am eternally grateful for this life. Nothing happens by accident. For we know that God works for the good of those who serve Him. God has me in this place, at this time, in this situation, purposefully. Quilting as prayer helps me pursue that purpose and gives me tangible ways to love those around me.
Quilting in itself is not a spiritual act, but it is consecrated ground for me. Not only am I choosing to intentionally love my friends, I am also taking part in what women have done for generations. Like many of them, quilting is my prayer closet. In choosing this act, I have found the beauty of taking time to produce an undeniable piece of art that honors those traditions. I am connected to those generations each time I pick up my needle, thimble, and thread.
I am strengthened by the fact that my grandmothers quilted, and their mothers quilted, and theirs before them, and so on. I have aunts on both sides of my family who quilt. I have quilts from them, my grandmothers, my great-aunt, and one great-grandmother. I am reminded of their loving handiwork each time I cuddle under one.
I have learned time and time again.
True love is not receiving the blessing that others have. True love is laying down one’s life for one’s friends. True love is serving those around you so that you may choose to put their needs before your own.
Quilting as prayer reminds me of that.
One stitch at a time. Every time.
Photos and post by Leah Honnen. Leah Honnen is a wife, momma, and infertility warrior living in Jacksonville, IL. She is a homemaker and volunteers at her church, but loves spending time fixing up her pre-1920s home with her husband, John. Leah writes on the lessons she continues to learn in daily life – through infertility, motherhood, music, friendships, and more on Instagram @leahhonnen.