Friday, February 7, 2014

Creature Comforts

"Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever."
Hebrews 13:8

Burr!  It has been cold, hasn't it?
I love it, though.
Even though I seem to "freeze" a lot more these days,
I still prefer the cold weather over the hot.
Fall and winter are definitely my favorite seasons.

The other day, I was in what has become my "normal" spot...
in my recliner.
I felt the cold chill as Kevin opened the front door to let little Miss Paige in from the cold.
She is becoming quite spoiled and thinks each time the front door opens,
she is being given an open invitation to the inside.  :)
She will probably be sad when the weather warms up outside,
as her invitations for visits indoors won't be as frequent.
She is quite the character!

I reached to pull my favorite afghan closer around me to fight off the chill,
and as I grabbed it, something else came with it.
Mom's sweater.

I had put it on earlier, then taken it off and laid it on the arm of the recliner.
It is incredibly soft...a special Christmas gift to her from Uncle Donnie a few years before she passed away.
Do you know that is still so hard for me to say that Mom has "passed away"?
I just can't stand thinking of Mom being sad.

This sweater has made its rounds.
At one point, she had donated it to Charity's Closet, thinking someone else may need it worse than her.
One day, long before she died, I was working...sorting through the bags of donated clothes and other items,
trying to organize things and get them in order, 
when I spotted Mom's sweater hanging on a rack of winter clothes.
Something told me to walk over to the rack, get it, and take it home with me.

I am so glad I did.

I have worn this sweater until it is literally ragged.
The other night, I had it on, and Zach and I laughed as we realized you could see my clothes right through it.
It is actually transparent and threadbare in certain spots...
like the left shoulder area shown here.

As I reached for my afghan and felt the softness of Mom's sweater,
I felt her presence...right there with this sickness.
I felt so nurtured by Mom.

I don't want a new sweater....truly.
Not that I would probably wear this one out in public anymore!
But, this sweater is beyond precious to me...because Mom wore it.
It was hers.

I drew it in close to me...there in the chair...and felt a sweet sense of security,
as if Mom were still here...praying for us, caring about us, loving us.
The feelings I felt must have resembled the way a child feels when, in the middle of the night,
they awaken, feeling alone and afraid, and reach out to find their favorite "blankie" or bear.
Just the feel of the dark...sets their world right again....
lets them know they are not alone, and there is nothing to fear....
gives them the comfort they need to close their eyes and fall back to peaceful sleep.

I hugged Mom's sweater close to me for the longest time.
I have since then made it a habit to keep it on the arm of my chair...close at hand...
so I always know it is near...ready to hold on to.

I know it is just a sweater....Croft & Barrow is the brand....
purchased at Kohl's one December.
But, this is definitely not just any old sweater.

This is Mom's sweater.
I will always view it that way.
And looking at it in this light makes it something priceless to me.
If you offered me a lot of money for this sweater,
I'd have to tell you "I appreciate your offer,
but I'll have to pass."

I miss Mom in so many little ways.
You don't realize what you will miss, until it is gone.
Then you look back and think about things you've never thought of before.

Having her sweater comforts me.
I'm wearing it right now...
and wearing it makes me feel loved...and warm...and hugged by Mom....
like her precious arms are around me and everything is going to be all right.
Knowing her arms were in this sweater makes it invaluable to me...
no matter how threadbare it becomes.  :)

Funny....the things and channels and ways through which we find and take comfort.

I still have Dad's things in a box in our attic.
Sometimes, Kevin brings it down for me and I go through his things....
among them are some photographs, little trinkets he made for me through the years,
his coat, some clothes, and his wallet.

I have thought of cutting up Mom's and Dad's clothes into squares,
then combining them together to make a quilt.
Another idea I had was to combine them to make pillowcases from the squares...
kind of like this one I made using some scrap quilt blocks.

So far, I can't bring myself to do it....
it just hurts...feels think of cutting the clothes they once wore.
I know...they are just clothes...and it is probably time to let go.

These pillowcases make the neatest gifts, though.
Just cut up 72 quilt blocks....5 inches in diameter,
and sew 9 strips of 8, alternating colors.
Then sew the strips together to make a pillowcase.
The finished product fits a regular, standard-size pillow perfectly.
Make two matching ones, and give as a special, homespun gift for Christmas or a birthday.
The cost is next to nothing, and the time spent is minimal....
if you use a sewing machine.

Our bedroom is lavender and sage green.
Can I tell you how much I love the combination of those two colors?
So, I use the quilt-block pillowcases (shown above) on our bed.
They blend nicely with the beautiful quilt Kevin bought me last June
for our 25th wedding anniversary.

I love this quilt.
I love the way the blocks are all different unique and country.
I especially love the thoughtful man 
who took such time and effort searching for just the right gift....
then spent his hard-earned money to buy it for me.
He means more than life to me.
I love him with more love than my heart can hold.
After 25 1/2 years together, I couldn't love him more.

I couldn't wait to get home from Georgia to put our new quilt on our bed!

I love mixing and matching things that don't necessarily "go together" 
to create scenes that are uniquely our own.
We keep this bear on our bed.
Aunt Joyce made it for us several years ago.
I love the shades of purple and sage in this fabric.
It might just be what got me started on mixing the two colors in the first place!

I took some of the leftover fabric I used to make the pillowcases
to cover an old, oblong pillow we had.
This is the end result.

Among the toss pillows are a white one from Aunt Joyce,
a white trimmed in sage-green one given to us by Lori,
and some I have picked up at thrift stores.

Mom's old, raggedy sweater, the quilt Kevin bought for me,
the bear Aunt Joyce made for us, my very imperfectly-sewn, home-made pillowcases....
maybe they wouldn't bring a fortune, if they were sold to someone else.
I don't imagine anyone would find them nearly as precious as I do.
To others, they would seem insignificant.
But, to me, they are invaluable.
Because they are comforting....and stable.
They bring a sense of peace to our home...and to my heart.

Home should be like that.
Home should be a place of peace...serenity....tranquility.
It should be a place where you belong....a "safe" place....with consistency....
where you can go and completely shut out the world with all its problems....
and rest.

When I was growing up, we moved somewhere between 40-50 times....maybe more.
I lost count.
I have tried to go back, mentally, and remember all of the places we've lived,
but for the life of me, I can't even recall some of them.
Sometimes, I think I would like to take a trip to Dayton and take all the time I need
to go around and drive past the places I can remember...
I don't know....just to re-connect with that part of me.
It feels like that person has died right inside of me,
and I feel like I have completely lost touch with who I was then.
Who was that girl?
So full of life and spunk.
Always the last one to lose hope.
I want to remember.
I want to feel how that felt again.
Especially, now that both Mom and Dad are gone.

One thing that always stayed the same, during my growing up years,
no matter how many times we moved or where we lived,
was that there were two things I put on the wall of nearly every, single bedroom I called mine.
I had a five-foot long rainbow, made from cardboard.
It was beautiful.
I wish I had a dollar for every time I taped and re-taped it
to make it stick to my "brand-new" wall.
Underneath the rainbow, I would place my butterfly stickers.
I had lots of them...and I would place them, randomly, here and there,
within the boundaries of the rainbow's arc.
I still remember how much comfort they brought to me.
I would lie across my bed and stare at them and know....
that I had something that was all mine.
I guess having that rainbow and those butterflies made me feel a sense of security and continuity....
kind of like things were still "the same", and I hadn't moved.

I hated moving.
I would cry and rebel and carry on every time I would come home from school
to find boxes lying around on the floor and pictures down off the walls.
I would beg and plead with all my might to stay where we were.
I wanted "home" to stay the same...for at least a little while longer.

But, in spite of my tears, we moved....umpteen times.
The longest I ever remember having lived in one place
was probably my favorite house of all growing up.
I loved that house.
We actually signed two year-long leases there,
which, to us, was a record.

If you drove past that house today, you wouldn't see anything spectacular about it.
It was a small, white house, trimmed in black, with 2 bedrooms and 1 bathroom,
a living room, kitchen/dining area combined,
a full basement, and a one-car garage.
I can still close my eyes and see so many details about that house.
The back yard bordered a big Catholic church that had a basketball hoop in the parking lot.
I used to love hearing the church bells ring from that big, beautiful church.
When I had someone to play with, we would venture over into the parking lot
and play basketball.
I can still see the flowers in our flower garden out back,
and I can still smell the fresh-mown grass,
and see Dad's sweat-streaked face,
as he would stop and take a break and let me take a turn on the mower.

I will never forget the day I came home to find out we were moving from that house.
Oh, my word!
My heart was so broken, I didn't think it would ever heal.
No more daily trips to the store up the street for my Pac-man adventures.
No more fun games of ping-pong in our basement.
The ping-pong table would have to go, since the house we were moving to had no room for it.
No more basketball adventures.
I think a piece of me stayed in that house.
If I drove by it today, would I find it?

That house was home to me....more than any other place growing up.
When moving day came, I took my rainbow and butterflies down off my bedroom wall....
where they had managed to stay in one place for two whole years,
and I cried my heart out.

I hated the house we moved to.
It was cold and damp, with no basement,
and Mom ended up getting really sick there.
She nearly died.
Needless to say, we didn't live there long.
And again, my precious things were taken down from those walls....
to move on and be re-hung some place else.

Creature comforts...I call them.
I know we aren't supposed to set our affections on anything on this earth,
but I believe God places things in our lives to bring us comfort and peace...
when everything around us is falling apart.

That's why I love this old sweater.
It connects me to a time when Mom was still here and things felt more normal.

I am still adjusting to life without her.
Trying to find a new sense of normal....without her in it.
It is a strange feeling to not have matter how old we are.

Aunt Joyce and Uncle Orville are getting ready to move...far away.
I have cried and cried thinking about it and dreading it.
I will miss them so much.
I will feel so empty driving to their town, knowing they are no longer there.
I will miss driving by and seeing Uncle Orville out riding his bike or walking Noah.
I feel like another piece of me will separate...and go with them.
The bear....and many other things Aunt Joyce has made for us....
will seem even more precious to me now.

In this world of change and insecurity,
aren't you glad to know that today's Scripture is true?

Jesus Christ will always be the same.
He will always be with us.
He will never leave.
No matter how many times we move,
no matter who dies or moves away,
as long as life shall last, Jesus will be the same.

I had to learn the truth and reality of this the hard way, at a young age.
I could always pray to Him and call on Him,
no matter where I was or how unsafe I felt or how unfamiliar my surroundings.
He was always there.
Comforting me and giving me at least two tangible things to hold on to and keep the same.
Looking back, I think it is funny now....
thinking about the two things He blessed me to carry along with me all those years.
What could be more comforting than a rainbow?
A beautiful reminder of His promises.
And butterflies?
Symbols of new life and transformation and hope.

Sometimes we need things we can hold in our hands and look at...
and draw comfort from.
Things that bring us peace and make us feel a sense of belonging.

More and more, as older I grow, I thank God for home...
and for every, single, comforting thing in it.


  1. There are so many precious memories in the small (and often insignificant things) that bind us you loved ones. I write this as I look over some right here by me...How sweet it is to have from God just to comfort us. It reminds me of proverbs 24: 3-4: "By wisdom a house is built, And by understanding it is established; And by knowledge the rooms are filled With all precious and pleasant riches." Thank you, Cheryl, for a walk down memory lane. Have a blessed day of rest in the Lord! Hugs!

    1. Thank you, dear Jacqueline! So happy you stopped by. I love the verses you shared. I never thought of it that way. God's Word is always pertinent to our situations in life. :) God bless you, dear friend.

  2. As I read your letter I'm reminded that I have a blouse of my grandmas she bought in 1972 its black with BIG purple flowers its still as beautiful today as it was then I will never find a more beautiful blouse because it was her favorite. To me its important to have something your loved one has touched and loved. When ever I read one of your letters I feel close to you. I call them letters and not stories because I feel stories are not fully true.

    1. Oh, Sandy! That is SO sweet of you to say what you did! And so precious that you have that blouse of your Grandma's. What a treasure! I like the thought that my posts are like blesses me to know that I connect with the ones who read them. God's peace to you, dear friend! Thank you for the encouragement you left here today. It meant so much.

  3. Thank you for sharing with us here at 'Tell Me a Story." I love your story about your Mom's sweater. Yes, one of these days will be our final "Move" and we will be home !!

    1. Won't that be a wonderful day...when we see Jesus and are reunited with our dear loved ones in our real home! Thank you, Hazel. :)

  4. Visiting from #TellHisStory and my how this made me want to visit my own Mom... thanks for that! For reminding me how important it is and what a gift it is to be able to! Love that you hold that sweater close!

    1. Hi, Karrilee, So happy you stopped by today! Yes, PLEASE cherish your time with your dear Mom. I still can't believe my Mom is gone forever....I don't think you ever fully get over that kind of grief. Losing a parent is one of life's greatest sorrows. I hope you get to see your Mom soon, and may your moments together be precious and quality. Love and blessings to you, Cheryl

  5. So tender. Your post reminds me to be ever grateful that I still have my parents here on earth. Thank you, Cheryl.

    1. Jennifer, It was such a dear blessing to have you stop by for a visit. Thank you ever so much for your kind words. Love, Cheryl

  6. I love the story about your mom's sweater. I used to stare at the quilt on my bed as a child and imagine who had worn each piece of material. Thanks for linking up with me last week.

    1. Thanks, Judith! So happy you stopped by. Thank you for the link-up! Love, Cheryl

  7. Hi Cheryl! What a remarkably beautiful testament to your mother; it is clear how loved she is. I would love and cherish that sweater the same. There is such pain but also joy in holding something so dear and remembering so clear; and you articulate it so nicely. Thank you for visiting me and introducing yourself :)

  8. Thank you so much for stopping by, Becca! Yes, Mom is very cherished and held dear to our hearts. I miss her so much it hurts, but I am so thankful to know that she is resting in the arms of Jesus free of pain and worry. It was so nice to meet you. Love, Cheryl