Sunday, April 12, 2015

Fearless Quilters of Rolling Bay Presbyterian Church

The Fearless Quilters of Rolling Bay have done it again - they have donated seven unique, gorgeous quilts and one cozy, cheerful fleece blanket to Katie's Comforters Guild.

They donated these quilts last evening when I addressed the Women's Fellowship Dinner at the church. I was asked to speak about "Faith, Hope and Love," and about Katie's Comforters to this lovely group of ladies who had assembled in the Fellowship Hall. They kindly included my mother in the invitation, so we had the pleasure of experiencing the event together.

The hall was decorated with a collection of stunning quilts - many antique, and hand-quilted, with family history. The owners had attached notes to each quilt, describing its story. It was a real treat to walk around and see the artistry and history in the display.

On one side of the hall, tables were set up so that the ladies could decorate fabric squares to be made into quilts. The organizers had provided applique materials, pens for drawing, irons and ironing boards.

In the center of each table was a lovely quilted cloth. On top of each cloth was a flower pot, wrapped in colorful tissue and ribbon. The quilted cloths are going to be made into quilts for our guild!

There was beautiful singing and prayer. The dinner was absolutely delicious, and well-served by a staff of young high-school students. I would recommend the catering of Debra Cairo (owner of "Chef on the Go") to anyone who asks!

Here are the eight new beauties from the Fearless Quilters:
and some of the gorgeous details...
I belonged to this women's fellowship when I was a member of Rolling Bay church years ago. Some of my dearest friendships began here. The church supported and nurtured our family, before and during Katie's illness. My heart is full of gratitude for all that I learned there.

I was grateful to be invited to address this group of women, to have a chance to give something back to the church. Here is what I said:

"The Greatest of These is Love"
"If I speak with the eloquence of men & of angels, but have no love, I become no more than blaring brass or crashing cymbal. If I have the gift of foretelling the future & hold in my mind not only all human knowledge but the very secrets of God, & if I also have that absolute faith which can move mountains, but have no love, I amount to nothing at all. If I dispose of all that I possess, yes, even if I give my own body to be burned, but have no love, I achieve precisely nothing.
 This love of which I speak is slow to lose patience—it looks for a way of being constructive. It is not possessive: it is neither anxious to impress nor does it cherish inflated ideas of its own importance.
Love has good manners & does not pursue selfish advantage. It is not touchy. It does not keep account of evil or gloat over the wickedness of other people. On the contrary, it is glad with all good men when truth prevails.
Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. It is, in fact, the one thing that still stands when all else has fallen. 
For if there are prophecies they will be fulfilled & done with, if there are “tongues” the need for them will disappear, if there is knowledge it will be swallowed up in truth. For our knowledge is always incomplete & our prophecy is always incomplete, & when the complete comes, that is the end of the incomplete.
When I was a little child I talked & felt & thought like a little child. Now that I am a man my childish speech & feeling & thought have no further significance for me.
At present we are men looking at puzzling reflections in a mirror. The time will come when we shall see reality whole & face to face! At present all I know is a little fraction of the truth, but the time will come when I shall know it as fully as God now knows me!
In this life we have three great lasting qualities—faith, hope & love. But the greatest of them is love." 1 Corinthians 13, J.B. Phillips New Testament

This Bible passage is quoted so often – read frequently at weddings – that I wonder if people tend to tune out when they hear those first words.

But it has special meaning, for me.

There was a great preacher named Henry Drummond, who lived from 1851-1897, & wrote a little book illuminating this passage called, "The Greatest Thing in the World." This book was given to me by a dear Sunday School teacher when I was 11 years old. I have it with me to this day - carried through a lot of moves & life-changes. It is precious for two reasons: because the giver of the book radiated the love of God in a way which deeply impressed me; & because the book illuminated new ways to see & live God's love. 

My journey of faith, hope & love began when I was four, when my parents enrolled me & my siblings in Sunday School. The church of my youth had a very specific, perfectionist way of teaching faith. I absorbed it, & grew in it, but of course, I never felt that I had mastered anything close to perfection. I had faith in God, hope in good things to come, & love for God & man, much like any other young Christian person.

When I came to Rolling Bay Presbyterian Church around the age of 40, I knew I had found a path to a richer, freer relationship with God. The teachings, sermons & book studies, the various, wonderful ministries of the church - all blessed & helped me to grow in faith in God & His unconditional love - & away from the perfectionism of my childhood faith. Vestiges of it remained, but I became much freer in this community. Serving in LOGOS, as a Deacon & Stephen Minister expanded my faith; Lectionary class enriched it. Women’s Fellowship gave me some of the greatest friendships I had ever known.

I'm one of those people who was always looking for her "gifts." I never felt really talented at anything - you could say, "a jack of all trades, master of none" - except at loving.  I could love - freely, almost effortlessly - & I enjoyed loving the people in my circle of care. But that's not really considered a talent, & it is certainly not a marketable skill in today's economy! 

I had many jobs, & I worked diligently at them, but no job ever felt like it was a "calling," other than motherhood. And I didn't even feel especially talented, or naturally gifted, at that. But I received the gift of a wonderful husband, a son (David) & daughter (Katie), & I love them deeply.

When Katie was diagnosed with cancer in the fall of 2006, my faith changed. It went from study – learning from wisdom teachers, & trying to live what I learned - to a place where "the rubber meets the road." There was little time to read, no time to study, & no place for theological discussion. Faith in a children’s hospital meant accepting the path that we were on, & trusting that we were not alone on that path. It meant entering the field of ministry with the clothes on our backs – & very little else.

There was no time to go home & try to become a better, more perfect person; it was time, then & there, to do the best we could, because Katie could die at any moment. We were told from the outset that any - every - moment could be her last, & we lived in acute awareness of that fact. In the cancer ward, death was never far from our thoughts.

That changes how you live, how you practice your faith. Faith becomes walking the path as gently as possible, & looking for God in every person, in every situation, no matter how frightening or dark it seems to be. The teachings I had absorbed here at Rolling Bay sustained me during this time.

Hope became a single-pointed thing: HOPE meant hope for a cure, for recovery, for restoration of our daughter's life. HOPE meant going home with a cancer-free Katie. Suddenly, the other things we hoped for in our previous life fell away. 

There were short-term goals to hope for, along the way: that the chemo would shrink the tumor, that Katie would get through each day’s procedures without difficulty or pain, that she would survive until she could have surgery to remove the tumor – and, survive the surgery itself - but all of the lesser hopes pointed to the big one: CURE. That HOPE could also be called our PRAYER, and the prayers of countless others, including this community.

LOVE became the means, the WAY, of living. Love expressed by others became the daily evidence of God's presence with us – like manna from heaven - and we saw it in countless acts of generosity & tenderness (many of them from this community). LOVE became the way we could serve Katie (and each other), the way to hold our family together, the way to endure the many hardships of life in the hospital (and living as a foursome in one room at Ronald McDonald House). Love not only fulfilled the law, it smoothed the way, softened the edges, gave us eyes to see with humor & gentleness - countless times, day after day.

LOVE did bear all things, endure all things, & it never failed. We may have fallen short in any given moment, but through it all, LOVE carried us.

You know that our prayers for Katie to be cured were not answered in the way we had hoped; she recovered from her surgery, only to relapse, & die, after 10 months of suffering. 

What does this do to our FAITH, HOPE & LOVE?

Well, in my case, HOPE transitioned to hope to survive her death; to be able to carry on, spiritually, emotionally & physically; to live without bitterness, & be a good wife to Gregg & mother to David. I also hoped to find peace with God after this devastating turn of events.

My FAITH went through the refiner's fire.

I wrestled with God. If innocent children die, in spite of our best efforts to save them, how do we relate to this God? How can we go on saying “God is LOVE?” What can that mean, NOW? 

I came to see that the God of my childhood faith was not quite the way He had been portrayed to me. He was not a magician. He was not a mathematical being; our prayers were not "if...then" equations, with perfect sums as a result. Life is messy; it does not “add up.” It is mysterious, & heartbreaking; but this is the life we are given, & in spite of its messiness, it is still a beautiful gift.

As a result of Katie's illness & death, my faith expanded to include mystery, disappointment, & the Good Friday of my daughter's death. It includes faith in the Resurrection, as well, but before I get to enjoy that gift, it is necessary to live through her time on the cross, her time in the tomb - & my life without her, here on earth.
I began to see Mary, the mother of Jesus, as a great mentor & example.

And I learned that the way of the cross is not simply an icon to gaze upon; it is the WAY that we will all have to walk, in some form, at some time in our lives. We may walk it in Mary's footsteps – accompanying one we love - or in those of Jesus, as the sufferer - but the cross is the way of all flesh. I now have faith that God understands, cares, weeps & walks with us, every step of the way, whether we can see Him & feel His presence in our distress, or whether we can't. He gave us this cruciform pattern, & walked through it with His own Son, so we can know ahead of time what is to come – & that we are not alone when it happens to us!
With all of these changes in my hope & faith, I hope you can see that “the one thing that still stands when all else has fallen” is LOVE: our love for Katie, and the Love of God enfolding us – you, and me, and all of His creation. God’s love brings healing to our hearts. LOVE transforms our pain into compassion, into blankets for others who are suffering, into better cancer treatments which are NOW saving lives, into patience, service, generosity & understanding.
Our prayers are being answered; not necessarily according to our HOPES – yet they are still being answered. LOVE carries on, eternally working for the good of all of God’s children.

Your QUILTS are a wonderful illustration of that love, put into action. Generosity - Artistry - a Desire to Bless – Creativity – Craftsmanship – Patience – Warmth – Comfort: springing from God’s creative LOVE, these qualities are stitched into each quilt, and they bless – and enfold – each recipient. That is LOVE in action. Your FAITH & HOPE light the way, but LOVE is what translates your faith & hope into living service. With help from the Fearless Quilters of Rolling Bay, we have donated over 2,000 quilts and blankets to Seattle Children's Hospital's patients through Katie's Comforters Guild!

Henry Drummond wrote:
“There is a great deal in the world that is delightful & beautiful; there is a great deal in it that is great & engrossing; but it will not last…Nothing that it contains is worth the life & consecration of an immortal soul. The immortal soul must give itself to something that is immortal…You will give yourselves to many things; give yourself first to LOVE…he that dwelleth in love dwelleth already in God. For God is Love…You will find as you look back upon your life that the moments that stand out, the moments when you have really lived, are the moments when you have done things in a spirit of Love.”

So I agree with the Apostle Paul, and Henry Drummond, that “The Greatest of These is LOVE."

Thank you, Fearless Quilters of Rolling Bay!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Distance Cannot Separate True Friends

One of our friends and champions, Sally T., has moved halfway across the country to Colorado. This has not stopped her from supporting Katie's Comforters Guild! Formerly a member of the Fearless Quilters of Rolling Bay Presbyterian Church, Sally continues to create unique combinations of fabric and sews them into beautiful quilts in Colorado.

A box arrived last week with these three beauties in it:
Distance is no obstacle to true friendship, and we have a true friend in Sally.

Thank you, Sally! Your quilts are going to delight patients at Seattle Children's Hospital this spring!

Monday, March 30, 2015

A Simple Quilt Pattern by Mickie F.

Here is a link to the posting which contains Mickie's  
brilliantly simple quilt pattern.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Mickie Farris Donates 3 Quilts

I had the pleasure of meeting Mickie Farris in Seattle for a quilt and fabric "swap" this week. Mickie is a quilter who is adept at machine- and hand-quilting. She is a great supporter of Katie's Comforters Guild by making quilts, and is adept at bringing others into the loop to sew for us. You might recall seeing her brilliantly simple pattern example here on our blog.

Mickie donated three lovely quilts for the hospital: two of her own making (thanks for modeling them, Owen!)
and one made by a friend.
Close-up of one of the squares, with quilting stitches visible
Mickie also took home eight quilt tops which were donated to our guild, and she is going to finish them. HOORAY! I gave her some fabric to help with the finishing.

We have more quilt tops and fabric, if you are interested in quilting for Katie's Comforters Guild. Please leave a message here, or on our facebook page, and I'll be happy to get in touch with you.

Thank you for your help and support, Mickie! 
We appreciate you (and your friends), and all that you do!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Blankets & Stuffed Toys from Jaimee

We received a note on facebook from Jaimee M., with this photo:
She has made (and is sending to the hospital) six beautiful blankets and 14 adorable stuffed toys! We're admiring her creativity, skill and imagination. Those cute and cuddly gifts are sure to cheer up a crowd of sick children.

Thank you, Jaimee!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Invitation from the SOVREN Guild

We received the following invitation from the SOVREN Guild:
Share our dream…vintage racing to benefit Seattle Children’s Hospital The SOVREN Guild is presenting a unique opportunity for your guild to participate in a fundraising event where 100% of funds raised and matching money earned by your guild’s efforts, will be allocated to your area of special interest at Seattle Children’s and your guild will receive soft credit in the hospital’s Annual Report. On Friday, June 19th, we will be presenting the 6th Annual PNW Karting Challenge at PGP Motorsports Park located at Pacific Raceways in Kent, Washington. The event fields 25 karting teams, each consisting of 4 drivers and as many supporters as possible. The race is catered to the new drivers as well as experienced kart drivers. The cost of registration, which covers the cost of kart & track rental, staffing and insurance is $250 per team.

Donations for your team’s efforts are raised from business associates, friends and family...Donations can be sought for laps completed within the 2 hour time frame or a flat pledge to the team. We can help each team set up their own online donation account through RAZOO, which makes it easy for drivers, guild members and supporters to email friends and/or business acquaintances letting them know of your guild’s participation in the race and how they can donate to your team online. Team drivers do not have to be guild members but could be spouses, children, grandchildren or friends. The only restrictions are that they are at least 15 years old and 5 feet tall and before the race, have some experience driving a kart. But, we make that easy too with special pricing and help, from the staff at PGP Motorsports Park, to get both experience and to qualify….give them a call at (253) 639-7223 (RACE) and let them know that you are participating in the Seattle Children’s karting race on the 19th.

The most exciting news for guilds is that through our generous matching sponsor, Jackson Dean Construction, we have $20,000 of matching funds available and each team has the opportunity to add to their earned donations. For the first 15 teams to raise $1000 in donations, Jackson Dean will donate an additional $1000 to their team’s funding focus. The next 5 teams to reach $2000 (Prior Jackson Dean matching donation $ not included in this total.) will receive an additional $1000. After the race is concluded, SOVREN Guild will allocate whatever your team has earned (including any matches) to your area of special interest. All Karting Challenge donations will flow through the SOVREN Guild and on to the Guild Association in your guild’s name. One more piece of late breaking news is that an anonymous sponsor has offered to add $250 to the fundraising efforts of the first 12 teams to register and sign up for online fundraising through Razoo (please see instructions attached.)…what a great way to quickly get to the minimum fundraising level of $500!
 Here is the link to follow:
If you have questions, please contact: Larry Duffield, SOVREN Guild
Seattle Children’s Hospital PNW Karting Chairman
Tel:( 206) 412-6643 or (425) 823-6081

Monday, March 16, 2015

32 New Quilts & Blankets and a Gift of Funds

Last week, Lucile and Noble stopped into Poulsbo on their way to run errands. They brought with them 32 new quilts and fleece blankets! The variety of fabric, colors and patterns is a delight.
Lucile has a way of combining fabric which is very creative. Not only does she make her own quilt binding when necessary, she makes quilted blankets special by combining solids with patterns. She also applies this concept to fleece. When we receive donations of solid-colored fleece, Lucile adds fun to the design by sewing solid pieces to patterned fleece, using her sewing machine's decorative stitches, and creating an embroidered border around the edges. You can see what I mean here:
Thank you, Lucile and Noble!

Loyal guild member Ellie Boren does not sew, but is faithful in her financial support of our work; once again, she sent a gift which will help us to purchase fabric and other supplies (such as satin blanket binding and batting) for our guild members who do sew.
Thank you, Ellie & husband Phil!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Four New Blankets

Liberty Bay Books in Poulsbo is one of our beloved, consistent local supporters. We are grateful to them for so many things they do, for example: their knitting circle, which provides a variety of hand-knit squares, patiently knit into blankets for our guild; sharing our message with their clientele, and occasional delivery service of blankets. Last week, without fanfare, employee Nathaniel H. kindly showed up at our door with these two FUN knitted blankets.
Some of these squares are made of super-soft, fuzzy yarn, and some are made with tickly, shag-style yarn. Both of them will provide warmth and sensory stimulation for patients in the hospital.
Thank you, Liberty Bay Books Knitters
& Nathaniel!

Katie's Comforters Guild's Vice President, Mary Ryan, and her daughter, Briana, are also great helpers in our work. In addition to bringing the attention of their church's youth group to our mission - and enlisting the group's support - they contribute their own time, talent and materials to the hospital. The two soft, cheerful blankets pictured below were donated by Mary and Briana in memory of Mary's mother-in-law. Don't you just love the shamrock theme as we draw near to St. Patrick's Day?
Thank you, Mary and Briana!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Thanks to Auto Connections of Bellevue

A great, big, HUGE  
Thank You to 
Auto Connections of Bellevue!

Auto Connections of Bellevue is a wonderful, honest, no-pressure car company. They are the only car dealership I know that has a Charitable Giving Program.

A quote from their site:
"For every purchase you make, we in turn will give a proceed of our sale to one of three charities of your choice in your name.  It’s really as simple as that! Join us, as we make a difference in the lives of those who can use our giving."
Katie's Comforters Guild is indeed fortunate to be one of the three charities chosen by customers of Auto Connections of Bellevue. We recently received a check in the amount of $750 from Auto Connections, representing those donations made on behalf of their customers. Thank you, Auto Connections of Bellevue!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Thank you, Bethany!

Bethany M. met us a couple of weeks ago for a hand-off of donated fleece fabric.
You might remember Bethany as the teacher from Yelm Middle School, whose students have made and donated fleece blankets for our guild.* She made the drive up to Gig Harbor, which was a good half-way point between us.

Here is Bethany with the fabric in her car, ready to transport it:
Thank you, Bethany, and Yelm Middle School staff and students, for sharing your time and talent to bring comfort to sick children! Your help is essential to our work!

*If you are a student or staff member of a school or community group, and are looking for a service project, please contact us - we'd love to have your help!