Sunday, June 27, 2010

Wedding Dress Project: New Update

Cookie went to Rwanda. The mission team carried the dresses in suitcases to their recipients. Did I mention how they carried them? In spacebags. Some readers already knew that. What nobody thought to consider until Cookie started worrying two days before their flight was customs. Customs like to open bags. Spacebags explode. Wedding dresses sucked into a tiny suitcase released. The entire scenario made me laugh tearfully and just put the whole endeavor into God's hands. After all, I just helped collect and bag the dresses. Cookie was one of the ones going to stand in the customs line.

God intervened. The whole mission team arrived. Suitcases arrived. Loaded down spacebags arrived. Many days later, the mission team came home. I haven't talked with anyone in detail except Cookie, but between arriving and departing, God and those missionaries worked their tails off. From my understanding, it is quite a bit to process the sight and the experience of a whole new culture. I am guessing the mission team is still pondering parts from the trip. I cannot wait to hear the stories that flow out from them.

What I do know is that the mission is not over; in some ways it has been going on since the beginning of time, and in new ways it is just getting started. The women in Rwanda loved the dresses. They were overjoyed with our response in collecting dresses, and they are making arrangements to get their business off the ground. Right now the dresses are housed in an extra room at the Anglican center in Kibungo. Mother's Union, the momma non-profit group overseeing this project, is looking for a storefront in town. They have purchased some equipment for sewing, but they need to purchase cleaning equipment. They are saving up for a large wash basin and steam press. Dry cleaning can burn or damage the delicate fabrics and beadwork on many of the dresses, so they will wash them each by hand. As this rental business gets established, it will be used to train more women for other areas within the Kibungo Diocese. A neighboring large town, Rwamagana, is where my church's sister parish is located, and women from that parish will be the next to receive training for a similar enterprise.

So, what next? Here we will continue to collect dresses - wedding dresses, bridesmaid dresses, flower girl dresses. We will accept monetary donations for cleaning equipment. We would love any knowledge on other economic shipping methods. We adore prayer. If you want to talk further, please feel free to email me at and I can either answer your questions or get you in touch with Cookie.

One last tidbit of exciting news. Author Catherine Claire Larson, As We Forgive, has written a one minute radio script about our project. It will air on The Point with Mark Earley sometime in July. I'll let you know more as I receive information.

**And, finally, as soon as I get copies of pictures, I'll post them. I know many people are excited to see where our dresses have ended up!**

Monday, June 21, 2010


We just got back from Kiawah Island Resort, and the kids and I decided to live there. Unfortunately, Michael kept playing the part of the realist and reminding us that the next family booked in the house would not appreciate our presence come Monday. Then I reminded him that if he would win the lottery as previously agreed, then there would be no other family moving in come Monday. Again, just a shrug...

This brings me to a harsh and brutal reality. Perhaps we as a family are where we are supposed to be. I enjoy my life. I enjoy my children. I enjoy my days of routine. All that is good. What I don't enjoy is the feeling of instability. It is stressful and aging. It causes me to worry. So I have prayed for that part of our lives to go away.

And it hasn't.

I have asked others to pray for us.

Still no answers.

I have forgotten to pray completely and instead gotten on the phone to complain to family and friends.

Still here.

I am not a patient person that is trying desperately to practice patience. I am trying to "live in the moment." I am trying to follow my own advice and be grateful for my daily bread and not worry about tomorrow's bread. And honestly, most of the time, I'm good.

Michael said he thinks God's silence means...we are where we are supposed to be.

That was not the answer I have been praying for.

But vacation, it was wonderful. It was the first full week we've had together in over five years. So I am going grocery shopping later, and I think I might have to pick up a lottery ticket...

Dear Lord, please let the numbers on my ticket miraculously match the numbers in the newspaper. I'll let you know how it goes...

Sunday, June 6, 2010


When I was a girl growing up in the mountains, I went hiking. It was a regular activity. There was this woman that was even famous for hiking Mt. LeConte over 100 times. She was eighty something when my family talked with her on that very same trail. We were hiking to a lodge on the top of the mountain to spend the night and have a delicious dinner. When I was a teenager, my sister, Carol, would take me back country camping where we'd hike in, set up a tent, and hike back out with everything on our backs. We loved watching other hikers that would load down their packs with pillows and pots and pans dangling off the side. They looked miserable lugging around so much stuff! Our last sister hike I sprained my ankle, and Carol had to tie my pack to hers and carry both out while helping me walk on one foot. As I grew older, we would go for Christmas hikes when all us kids came home. I remember our guide, Mike (my SIL's bro) decided it would be fun to track deer off trail, and we got lost in the woods. We finally heard cars, found the road, and walked back, but that made for a long day. I think that was actually my last family hike. But, truth of it all is, I love the woods. I really like venturing off down a trail to find what's at the end. Beautiful views and interesting structures are off in those woods, but one has to hike a few miles to get the pleasure of seeing them.

Yet the last few years we haven't been doing many nature walks. Most trails aren't stroller friendly, and naps have been just too important. So yesterday we packed a picnic and drove to Congaree National Park. It's a swamp with a boardwalk leading out into marsh. There are trails to also follow if the ground isn't flooded, though it floods about ten times a year. It's supposed to. Those plants clean the pollutants out of the flood waters before they recede back to their home. Yesterday we went exploring, without a stroller, and walked almost four miles checking out points of interest on our handy dandy park map. It was fabulous! Every single one of us loved the whole experience, and I had an epiphany. My family is no longer in that stage. We didn't take the stroller because we don't own one anymore! We can go exploring much more often. I walked through that swamp thinking about how I should start a family friendly hiking my girlfriends and I should go hiking on Michael could grab a friend and go bird watching like he used to do before children. I felt renewed, and I wanted to know I could have it again. The woods embrace me in a way that lets me feel God's presence.

I still want to do all my plans, but one baby step at a time. Monday's coming. So right now, during the week, I will find His presence here, in the city, til I can get to the woods once more.


I didn't take pictures and I need some because the camera forgot to get out of the car. Darn camera!!

Anyone want to start a family hiking club?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Grace Flows Down

The song that comes on when you clicked on my blog was one that actually helped me in a mental block a few days before I gave up Simon's bag for display. It aptly fits with another piece of art I made last fall, and the song I used as inspiration was Laura Story's Grace.

Ladder of Grace

Ladder = accomplishments, the next step, progression of life and progression towards sanctification

Starting at bottom rung

1st feet = birth, physically and spiritually; boy and girl

2nd feet = early childhood; paisley and apples - growth

3rd feet = childhood and adolescence; stripes - pathways; black and white - conflict between innocence and rebellion

4th feet = providers; plaid and dress shirt - dependable provider; flowers and many patterns - busyness and nurturer

5th feet = empty nest; embroidered tapestry and deep satin purple - richness, wisdom

6th feet = death and release of spirit; Irish linen – dust; red, streaked, raw silk – Spirit

Ribbons = relationship between male and female counterparts

1st set = conception

2nd set = growth

3rd set = clear black and white ideals; hot pink for passion

4th set = provider and nurturer; gray for blurred lines

5th set = deep connection

6th set = connected by the Spirit

Cheesecloth that provides the main support for the entire piece = Grace

It runs all through our phases of spiritual and physical lives, and flows endlessly in one continual piece. The flowing cheesecloth that runs down behind the piece shows us that we are always covered in grace and the knots and silver buttons (nails) at the bottom are God’s hands to lift us up and to catch us when we fall.

**This piece was created specifically to hang during a weekend retreat on sanctification and grace. While the piece may seem a bit pieced together and busy when looking at a picture, part of the fun of working with fabric is that the viewer can walk up and touch each element. This sense of touch is lost when viewing through a photo.**