The story behind It Is Well Wall Art
My It Is Well design came together after attending an inspiring convention called Sew Pro last September. I left the convention with peace and clarity about using quilting to tell my story. I came back from the trip with a renewed confidence that God was going to bring all things together for good despite the pain and loss I have experienced. Within a week of designing my Covered in Hope pattern in 2014, my mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I was immersed in quilting and reading verses about hope during that season. Combining quilting with scripture was so therapeutic.
After my mom died, the song It is Well by Kristene DiMarco was a huge comfort. I appreciated the solemnness and yet settled assurance it portrayed. The pattern design was inspired by this song and my journey these past two years. The leaves represent the immense amount of time I spent on my sun porch with my dogs, coffee, my Bible or a book as I looked over the beautiful leaves and trees in my backyard to help me sort through the mess of grieving. The flowers represent the beauty that can come after even the bitterness of winter and loss. The butterflies represent the restorative transformation God does when you anchor your hope in Him. The hummingbirds remind me of a trip of a lifetime my husband and I took to the Canadian Rockies last summer as we decided to really treasure the time we have together. The hummingbirds by the beautiful glacier water and the mountains were absolutely breathtaking. I am so thankful for that restorative time to just enjoy the beauty with my husband. The phrase from the song is to remind me to praise Him in all seasons and to continue to look for the joy paralleling the pain.
Some seasons are full of joy, and some seasons seem overwhelming with sorrow and loss. I created this quilted wall art to encourage peace in my journey. I hope that it will touch you in a similar way.
“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Hebrews 6:19 (NIV)
Covered in Hope – Janie’s Story
After designing Covered in Truth, a quilt about our identity in Christ, I was asked to alter the design concept to be focused on cancer patients. I had been dreaming for years about creating a quilt for those fighting cancer. I made this Covered in Hope quilt for my mother-in-law Janie who is a two time breast cancer survivor. Here is her story…
My Journey through Breast Cancer
I was diagnosed with breast cancer 6 days after 9/11 on September 17, 2001. I had a biopsy on a lump that I was sure was nothing. My mammograms had all been normal and an ultrasound showed that the lump I was feeling was “normal breast tissue.” I wanted to make certain of what it was and requested a biopsy. The memory of my husband and the doctor talking to me in the recovery room still plays in slow motion in my mind. My husband took my hand while the doctor said, “It was cancer. We’re going to have to do more surgery.” I knew life would never be the same again.
After several weeks of doctor appointments and agonizing decisions, I had a mastectomy and reconstruction. One of these appointments was with my medical oncologist and I learned that I would need chemotherapy. This was especially devastating news to me because Josh and Janel were getting married in May and I knew I wouldn’t have hair. I was bemoaning the fact that we would always look back at the wedding pictures and be reminded that I was going through cancer treatment. Janel’s response blessed and encouraged me, “No, we will always look back at the pictures and see a strong woman, fighting for her life.”
The surgery revealed that I had two lymph nodes that were positive for cancer. In addition, all of the tests performed on the original tumor showed that the cancer was very aggressive and I would need six months of chemotherapy. My friend, Pam, brought a disc-man for me to listen to praise and worship music during my treatment. I found a story in the Bible where a king was going into a battle against an enemy and God told him to send in the musicians instead of the soldiers. They defeated the enemy with singing! This became my strategy against the enemy that I was battling.
Through having cancer though I learned a lot about life and what is really important. And through my faith being challenged I have a deeper relationship with God. I was confronted with questions like, “What do I truly believe?” and “Where is God in all of this?” I felt that if my faith in God would not work in these huge challenges, what was it really worth? I was challenged to walk by faith when I could not see what the next step would be. I was challenged to find peace in Christ when the waves and the wind were howling around me. I was challenged to have courage when fear was overwhelming me.
I was questioning God’s love and plan for me. I knew Rom 8:28; “that all things work together for good (not that all things are good) for those that love God and are called according to His purpose." I came to realize that Satan is the one who wants to kill and destroy. I believe that God’s heart breaks for us and with us when we are suffering. God created us to be uniquely women. God has given us breasts for beauty, pleasure and to nourish our babies. I believe that it grieves God’s heart for a woman to have her breasts removed.
I did not feel like I had a lot of faith. It was quite the opposite. I felt that my faith was small, but out of a sheer act of my will I chose to trust. I began to pray Luke 17: 5, “The apostles said to the Lord, Increase our faith.” and in Mark 9:24, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief.” I believed God, but was honestly crying out in my weakness for God to supply me with belief where I was lacking. I did not want to let despair isolate me from the love and hope that I needed in order to survive. I asked God for my heart’s eyes to be opened to know the hope to which he has called me. We are not called to despair, but to hope in Jesus based on the resurrection. Jesus rose from the grave. He conquered death! Wow! That is exciting to me and it gives me hope. I have a future in heaven. And here in this life, I have a peace that only God could give.
According to Hebrews 11:1 faith is intimately connected to hope. Corrie Ten Boom was a woman acquainted with human suffering and she said “In order to realize the worth of the anchor, we need to feel the stress of the storm.” Hebrews 6:19 says, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” God knows and cares about our suffering and grief. He doesn’t want us to live in despair. We can truly sing, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness.” Lamentations 3:19-32 says, “I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” We can anchor our souls on His character.
On Christ the solid Rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
All other ground is sinking sand
Jesus loves us intentionally and lavishly. He wants to give you peace that is beyond human understanding. He wants to give you joy even in the middle of difficult circumstances. times. He wants to give you eternal life.
This quilt is very special to me. Janel’s dream to design a quilt to encourage people going through cancer is a work of love. The words used in the quilt and the scriptures were very important to me during my own cancer journey. I hope that they encourage many others. God is faithful!
The story behind Covered in Truth
When I began my company, Nite Owl Quilting, I had been specifically praying for my career to use the skills and desires God has given me to glorify Him. Sometimes the way I glorify God is simply finding joy in creating something beautiful and working hard on it as if it were a gift to Him. I decided from the beginning of creating this company writing quilt patterns, that I would produce at least 10% of my patterns to be completely Christ-centered as a way to honor Him with my time and skills.
I had been praying for a couple of years about what the project would be. As I was working on my 9th pattern, Sunrise Stag, Covered in Truth became a huge dream for me. Grounding myself in who I am to Christ and my evaluating my response to those truths was a life changing point in my walk with the Lord. I have been a Christian since high school, but I had never really read and re-read who I was to Christ. These promises and scriptures changed my view of myself, my God, and I definitely began re-evaluating how to live those truths out in my daily life.
There are so many pressures we face daily. I began to understand how even the small lies Satan would tell me daily were keeping me at a distance from God. I would be having coffee in my favorite chair, having time with the Lord, and just wanted to be covered up in His love. I wanted to be covered under His protection. I wanted my life to be something that glorified Him.
So, realizing how many pressures we face daily, I knew I needed to go into each day ready for battle. Scripture, prayer and intentional time with the Lord was my battle plan. I want to start each day remembering who God says I am. I want to have Him define the standards for my life and guide the decisions I make throughout each day. I don’t want to get weighed down by pressures and expectations of everyone else. I don’t want to be distracted by lies Satan tries to get me to believe. Grounding myself in His Truth brings me peace and clarity.
“Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.” Galatians 6:4-5 (The Message).
I love to quilt, so this was a way to honor God with a talent He has given me and help share Scriptures with others. The more I began to pray over this project, the more excited I was about the possible impact others would have when they began believing who God made them to be. As a mom of young children, time to get these projects done is so limited. It has been such a wonderful experience to be able to intentionally set time aside to turn on praise music, work on this quilt, and read over the Scriptures as I am working on each word.
Praying over the Scriptures and asking the Lord to show me how to believe them, live them out, and show me who I can share these Scriptures with was how I approached this quilting time. Blending quilting with studying God’s word has been so life giving, and I pray it will be for those who choose to take this journey with me in making this quilt.
Read background stories behind the quilts.
I have been sewing quilts for over 15 years, and I love making things with purpose. Sometimes that purpose is simply to create something fun and beautiful. Sometimes it is to bless someone with a homemade item specifically designed for them. Sometimes it is a quilt that is an artistic expression of a season of life I have or am experiencing. We each have our own reason for sewing and designing. Quilting is one of my favorite ways to sort through the mess, pain, and beauty of this journey.