Doesn’t Dad Deserve a Mother’s Day?

bradkids711

It’s not fair.

We all know that moms and dads are equally important in their children’s lives, but the days we set aside to honor them – Mother’s Day and Father’s Day – are very different. I read online (so it must be true) that Americans spend $7 billion dollars more on Mother’s Day than on Father’s Day. The Hallmark cards are funnier on Father’s Day. Churches treat Mother’s Day with reverence and sensitivity and Father’s Day is an opportunity for sermons one “how to do it better.”  I know it probably bugs me more than it does the men, but it does bug me, so I wrote about it in one of my books. That’s an advantage of being an author. You can spout off your opinions and attribute them to fictional characters.

In my story “Baggage Claim,” Ben Taylor goes in search of his biological father. He finds Jonah Campbell,  who is delighted to learn that he has a son and four young grandchildren – and he especially likes the children’s nanny, Agatha. This is a scene between Agatha and Jonah, getting in the car after church on Father’s Day.

It’s a work in progress, before editing. Remember:  don’t judge books by the first draft!


“So.” Agatha’s voice was challenging. “What did you think of your first Father’s Day service?”

The children had been talking about Fathers Day all week, reveling in their secrets and nearly revealing them in the process. Jonah had been surprised to find himself included in the “father” category, but he loved it.

“It was good.” He tried to think of something more to say. “It was an encouraging message,” he said. “Lots of good ideas.”

“Yes, the pastor had a lot of advice. Did you pick up one of those papers in the back? The ones listing additional resources for learning to be a good father?”

She was trying to make a point. Had he missed something? “I got one for Ben. It looked like it was directed more to the younger dads, but some of it would probably apply to me, too, with the boys.”

“It was terrible!” The words burst out of her, startling him. He’d thought it was good – an old-fashioned exhortation.

“You didn’t like it?”

“Oh, it was fine. But why today?”

“It’s Father’s Day.” It made sense to him. He buckled his seat belt and flipped up the sun visor.

Agatha gave him an exasperated look, the one she usually directed at Ben. “What kind of church service do you see on Mothers Day?”

Was it a trick question? Jonah opened his mouth to say that he didn’t usually pay attention to Mothers Day sermons, hoping to make a joke of it and diffuse her irritation, but she didn’t wait for a response.

“Mothers get nothing but praise. It’s not a lecture on how to be a better mother. Can you imagine how well it would go over if the pastor said, ‘Step up, Mothers. Scripture tells us you need to be a nurturing influence in your children’s lives. Don’t let your busy life be an excuse for failing to train them up.’ And then telling them he has a list of helpful books and websites for them?”

He choked on laughter. She didn’t stop. “And laying on a guilt trip, even telling them they need to meet their husband’s needs first. Can you imagine? No, Mothers get nothing but admiration. Fathers get jokes and lectures. It’s not fair!”

It was an insightful perspective. Jonah’s laughter died. “When Cindy and I went to church, they always made a point of including everyone. Like aunts and babysitters. They always mentioned that some women weren’t able to become pregnant, or had lost children or their mother had died.”

“Right! You don’t hear that on Father’s day.” Agatha said. She mimicked a southern preacher, “And we want to remember today that there are many men who are hurting because they are not yet fathers.”

“No, I didn’t hear that today,” Jonah said. “You’re right. But it’s good to have a sermon on fatherhood. Some of us need help.”

“Not on Fathers Day. It’s supposed to be a day to honor fathers, not nag them or make them feel guilty.”

“True!” He started the truck and entered the train exiting the church parking lot. “You should have a talk with Pastor Martin.”

“Maybe I will.”

He looked at her elegant profile. Maybe she would.


None of my guys are overly-sensitive. They would all rather have a grilled burger for Father’s Day than beautiful cards, flowers and chocolate. Too much gushiness would embarrass them and make them wonder what I’m up to. But I do want to show them respect and honor them for their dedication to loving and training up their children.

What makes your man feel valued and respected on Father’s Day?

My Happy Valentine Quilt

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The observant reader will realize this isn’t actually a quilt; it’s a quilt top. I will not have time for quilting before Valentines Day, but I want to enjoy it, so I pinned it to the front of another quilt and hung it up over my fireplace.  My goal is to get it quilted by next year. In the meantime, it makes me happy to look at it.

The picture makes me feel a little sentimental for another reason. Most of the items shown are special because of their personal associations – my husband made the fireplace for me, the framed Scripture is a gift from a friend, my granddaughter created a few of the items, my mother decoupaged and painted the birdhouse, and I was shopping with her when I found all those little sisal birds and the hedgehog, too! On top of the piano I have pictures of family members, a cross-stitched sampler from a niece, and a beautiful box I purchased while shopping with an old friend – our one visit in over ten years, and we spent much of it at JoAnn Fabrics! I don’t collect a lot of things that don’t have that kind of significance for me, so if there is clutter, it’s happy clutter and I’m keeping it.  (So there!)

My new serial novel features quilts. These are special quilts, chronicling a family’s history over two hundred years.  It isn’t a saga; the episodes will not move in a chronological order but rather bounce through time to portray a complete portrait of a multigenerational family.

The research is fascinating. My parents are avid genealogists, so I am taking advantage of their knowledge of Swedish customs and history, too! I have created a Pinterest board to share some of my ideas while I write.

The Glory Quilts

I haven’t found the title yet. The name of my quilting business – GloryQuilts – would be a fun choice, but it may not fit. I must decide soon –  the first episode will appear on March 1!

Don’t Quit Your Day Job

chewelah06That’s usually good advice for an aspiring novelist, but my day job isn’t all that profitable, either. I teach quiltmaking.  I have been teaching for twenty years, and I love it. Teaching is something that blesses me. I also make quilts for sale on etsy or by commission and do some custom dressmaking.

Although I learned to sew clothing over forty years ago, I didn’t take up quiltmaking until I was pregnant with my second child. That first quilt was very sweet, with pink and blue lambs on a muslin background. I appliqued the lambs with a zigzag stitch on my sewing machine and used a puffy batting.

jillshower

I decided I enjoyed quiltmaking and started looking for more information. We were living in a tiny farming town in Germany, and it was hard to find calico fabric in the local stores. The Air Force Base Exchange had some fabric, although none of it matched, and they had something even more interesting: a rotary cutter.

There weren’t many quilting books in the base library, and they were all too old-fashioned (I was 24), so I used graph paper and colored pencils to design a little wall quilt to insulate the bathroom window.

NOTE – Certain people claim that when they had to use the bathroom in our house, they would stick to the seat. That is not true. It never got below freezing in there. Bunch of sissies.

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1000 Pyramids Free Pattern!

That did not satisfy my creative urges, so I found a magazine and persuaded a friend to help me make a “real” quilt. The “Thousand Pyramids” quilt looked good, so we made cardboard templates of those pointy triangles and then cut around them with the amazing little rotary cutter – no rulers or gridded mats – and of course the cutter just chewed up the templates until they were useless. We did get a couple rows of triangles sewn together, but then the rows wouldn’t match up.  I graciously permitted my friend to keep that project, and I believe she unloaded the whole mess on an unsuspecting neighbor years later.

 

jill5I persevered. I made more projects, including another baby quilt two years later. When we returned to the United States, I was able to take classes, meet other quiltmakers, read real quilt books and magazines, visit quilt shows… I even established quilt guilds and organized shows!

 

 

 

bomclass1I started teaching classes in 1992, at a local craft store. They had about twenty bolts of fabric and limited supplies, but the classes were a hit. I loved teaching. I still had to draw patterns with graph paper and colored pencils, and some of my class handouts were photocopies of handwritten instruction when I didn’t have time to type them up at the library. Those first few classes were a learning experience for me, too. My students were very patient and kind, and I didn’t have any dropouts.

 

bee8It’s been a delightful career. I have taught classes, workshops and retreats  across the United States, and I am now developing a new kind of quilting event: The Bridal Quilting Bee.  The problem with teaching quiltmaking is that in order to become rich and famous, you have to become associated with quilt shops, fabric companies and other aspects of the industry. Like writing fiction, it’s all about the marketing. You need to write pattern books and maybe even get a television show. I think all of that is great, but my heart is in teaching quilting and making it accessible to everyone. I don’t want people to be told they have to use certain brands of fabric or certain tools. I don’t want to teach in shops where the students are required to buy all new fabric for the class. Those things are fine, and they maintain the quilting industry, but it’s not for me.

 

bee1I created GloryQuilts as a business, so I can’t claim that it’s entirely a ministry. I would rather it’s not a non-profit ministry, mind you, but I’m not going to make any significant money from it. And that’s okay. If I can cover my expenses and buy myself a little more fabric, I’m happy. I want to teach people to make quilts – not to make only one specific project, but to make quilts. They should leave my classes with knowledge that they can apply to the making of another quilt. I want them to leave my classes happy and confident.

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Most of all, I want to fulfill the “tagline” I have always associate with GloryQuilts:
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

My writer friends have suggested that I write books with quilt themes, and even though the market is pretty saturated with those already, I am writing one. This one is historical fiction, starting in the early 1800’s in Sweden, and it’s a serial novel.  The first episode will be available on March 2! I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I have enjoyed the research and writing.

NaNo NaNo

I’m feeling good about this year’s NaNoWriMo story. I thought it would be lighthearted and fun, but it’s been surprisingly emotional – even sad – so far. I think I’m all done killing off characters, though, and I only have one more serious emotional scene to get through before I can make it fun again.

17,746 words as of this evening. I wrote 4000 today, because I didn’t write at all yesterday.

Happy NaNo!

Participant-2014-Web-Banner

NaNoWriMo is an annual challenge activity: Write 50,000 words in one month. Ideally, a complete fictional story, start to finish in 30 days. There are always a few rebels who want to write poetry or nonfiction, but NAtional NOvel WRIting MOnth was intended for fiction.

From their website:

National Novel Writing Month is also a 501(c)(3) nonprofit (formerly known as the Office of Letters and Light) that believes your story matters. Our mission statement:

National Novel Writing Month organizes events where children and adults find the inspiration, encouragement, and structure they need to achieve their creative potential. Our programs are web-enabled challenges with vibrant real-world components, designed to foster self-expression while building community on local and global levels.

This is my 5th attempt at a “win”. I have only finished twice before; I was working full-time during the other three Novembers.  So if you don’t see me very often, it’s because I am typing away in Scrivener, creating a story that I’m getting really excited about!

Why Write Right Now?

When I was a little girl, growing up out in the country, I read a lot. (I believe that if you listen, you can hear my mother laughing hysterically.) I read a LOT. I liked to be outside, though. I tamped down nests for myself in the hayfield and hid there, reading. I piled up leaves around me like walls and read in my little leaf house. I read while swinging on our backyard swingset (So why can’t I read while I use the treadmill?) and laying in the sun on the beach at the lake. My sister and I created our own library. We had a lot of books, so Dad made us shelves and we stamped and put cards and pockets in all the books. I still have some of those books. I read a LOT.  And I knew that someday, I would be a writer. I wrote poetry and little stories even then, but someday I was going to be a real writer. Mysteries, like Carolyn Keene, or maybe something along the lines of Anne of Green Gables or Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm or Laura Ingalls Wilder. My tastes were eclectic.

Then I grew up. I married a wonderful man and we had three fine sons. So… for the past 30 years, I’ve been a little busy. I knew I wanted to write. I planned to write. I expected to write. For all of those years, I collected people and places and conversations and ideas, but I was busy with a growing family and other projects. I homeschooled my sons (all grown, married and dutifully presenting me with grandchildren), and that was a little time-consuming.  I’ve done some of everything. I have led it, coached it, planned it, organized it, run it, managed it, supervised it, chaperoned it, taught it…  I started a list of my amazing accomplishments, but I got tired and had to stop to take a nap. Just believe me… I have led a very eclectic life and can do just about anything I put my mind to, if you give me a little while to figure it out.

And I do have another job. For over twenty years, I have been teaching quiltmaking locally and across the United States, meeting interesting people everywhere I go. I also sell garments and quilts online and by commission. Ten years ago, I created a “Women of the Family” ministry, facilitating bridal quilting bees and ministry events for women. Women’s family relationships are something I am passionate about. I wanted to write about that, too. I had planned to develop this business – GloryQuilts – after I retired from homeschooling, but God had a different project for me. He wanted me to get a real job.

Now, homeschooling moms are pretty hard-working people, with a strong sense of responsibility and duty. But we don’t necessarily play well with others. The actual “work” wouldn’t be a problem, but the whole workplace environment, with all those people… that would be hard. And you know, we aren’t good at following rules or taking directions, especially if they don’t seem logical to us. And being on someone else’s schedule would not sit well with us. We would either end up running the company or be fired within the week. If we need to bring in an income, it would probably be better to be self-employed.

It started simply enough. I worked as an in-home caregiver, about 24 hours a week. It was meaningful work, and I was fascinated by the people I cared for. Then I gained more clients and I was working nearly 40 hours per week. Then I was promoted. Within four years, I was managing the daily operations of the business and managing 75 caregivers and over 100 elderly and disabled clients. I was in the office for 45-50 hours a week, on call 2 nights a week and every other weekend. Elderly and disabled people and their loving families need a lot of emotional support as well as physical care. Every day, I talked to crying people and had to find solutions for them. A few months ago, the stress became unbearable and God released me from that responsibility. I am glad it’s over, but those four years affected me profoundly.

I’ve known it from childhood – I would be a writer.  I planned it, I waited, I set it aside in obedience to what I knew God was telling me to do for all those years.

So why write right now?

Because I can.

I am a writer.