Sunday, December 19, 2010

Delivering Fran's Quilts

I feel as though I lived a Hallmark Christmas movie yesterday.  It was quite possibly the most perfect day I have ever lived, and it could only have been orchestrated by God himself.

When Fran passed away from breast cancer back in June her friends and fellow homeschool moms from the Five in a Row message boards decided to make quilts for her husband and two daughters as a way to show our love and support for them.  I had no idea at the time just what a blessing God had in store for me.

I am truly humbled and honored that I was able to help in the creating of these special quilts, although I never sewed the first stitch on any of them.  To be used by God as a vessel to get these quilts into the hands of Fran's grieving family is beyond the shadow of a doubt the most precious thing I have ever had the privilege of being involved in.

Yesterday started early for my oldest daughter, Kaity, and I as we jumped in our van and headed north-then-west to Louisville to pick up friend and fellow Five in a Row mom, Marcy.  It was a cold and beautiful Christmas-y feeling kind of day.  We tuned into a 24-hour Christmas music radio station and enjoyed the beautiful scenery on our 2 1/2 hour drive. 

We picked up Marcy (and promptly gave her the KENTUCKY BLUE-hatted penguin in a BLUE bag tied with a BLUE Kentucky lanyard we had brought her for Christmas- she's a Louisville Cardinals fan, who's color is red, BLECH!) but before we headed north to Fran's house in Indiana we had to stop for a bit of nourishment at Lynn's Paradise Cafe, the place Marcy takes all her special friends who come to visit! 

What a fun and quirky place Lynn's is!  (Oh, and the food is de-LICIOUS!)

While there we just had to try on some of Lynn's crazy hats!

 As we left and began to drive out of Louisville Kaity and I were amazed at the completely ice-covered sidewalks throughout the city...

Before long we arrived at Fran's house to meet her precious family.

Here's what her front yard looked like, completely ice-covered...

As we walked into Fran's home we were welcomed with big, real hugs from Ed, Fran's husband, the aroma of fresh coffee brewing in the coffee pot and a warm, cozy fire in the fireplace.  And it was a REAL, wood-burning fire, not one of those fake ones stores try to convince us are just as good today!  With the snow-covered ground and forest of trees outside the windows, a woodpecker that had landed on a bird feeder and that fire crackling while we sat near the Christmas tree... ahhh... it was a scene straight out of a movie.

We met Emma, Fran and Ed's 7-year-old daughter, Eden, their adopted 5-year-old daughter, and Elliott, one of Ed's three grown sons.  And let me just stop right here and say what an obvious blessing Elliott is to Ed and the girls.  He has helped take care of Emma and Eden since Fran passed away and his love for them was so evident in the way he scooped Eden up and held her, rubbing her little arm, then taking her to give her her feeding and laying her down for a nap.  What a fine, Godly young man!  I know Ed is proud.

Marcy began by sitting down and explaining to Emma in a way she could understand who we were, how we knew her and her mommy, and the reason we had come.  Then we showed her her quilt...

Much to our excitement, Emma and her daddy recognized what books many of the quilt squares represented!  They told us they own several of the books and plan on purchasing those they don't already own so they can always have them to go along with the quilt.  Emma told us that one of her two favorite colors is red, just like her quilt.

Next, we showed them Eden's quilt...

Once again we listened as Ed and Emma commented on several of the squares.  And guess what color Emma told us is Eden's favorite?  Purple.  I am constantly amazed how much God is in even the smallest of details.

Then, we opened up Ed's quilt.  I don't have a picture like the ones above because it got a little more emotional and I wanted to be sensitive to that.  But I have a picture of his quilt I had taken earlier that I'll share with you.

He noticed one block in particular right away.  He said, "Oh, it's Fran's Thanksgiving tree."  Then he saw the one in the top right-hand corner with the three hearts that says 'Amazing Grace' and said, "Fran's favorite song."  That's when the tears gently rolled down his cheeks and I couldn't hold mine back any longer either.  We pointed out the breast cancer awareness symbol in the body of the butterfly and the hidden stitching in one of the blocks that spells out Fran and Ed's names.  It was obvious he was very touched and that these quilts are already a priceless treasure to him.  Ed even said, "We'll have to find a very special place to put these, won't we Emma?"  For a minute or two there was just silence as he took it all in.  It was a very humbling moment and one I'm honored to have been witness to.

I then handed Ed a zip-lock bag of all the notes and cards and letters several FIAR ladies had sent along with their quilt squares.  Whenever I received one in the mail with a square I simply put it in this zip-lock bag, unopened, for only Ed's eyes to see.  (Except for one that was addressed to Emma.  She found that one and as Marcy, Ed, and I talked I noticed she opened it and was reading it.)

After that we all sat and talked for a while and even laughed some, listening to what all was happening with Eden and Emma and the things Emma's involved in, what's on her Christmas list, and how she will soon be 'Aunt Emma' when her big brother gets married in January!  She will also be going to school for the first time in January after continuing to be homeschooled by Ed and Elliott throughout this past fall.  "Fran already had the whole school year laid out.  All we had to do was pull each week's sheet out and we knew what to do."  What a momma.  Emma will be attending a small Christian school very close to home with only 13 in her class, including a couple friends she already knows.  She's a very excited little girl!

We decided we had taken up enough of their time so we said we would go, but Ed said, "Let's have a word of prayer first."  Words can not describe the feeling in that room as Ed prayed.  The spirit of the Lord was there in a very real way and once again the tears fell, this time by all.  When I looked up little Emma had her head buried in her daddy's shoulder, crying.  He said, "Would you like to give these ladies a hug too?" and I got down on my knees as she melted into my arms, still crying.  I tried not to, but my heart was broken and I cried with her.  As I squeezed her tiny little body and caressed her hair I thanked her for such a wonderful hug, told her that her mommy loved her so very much, and then pulled her back to look at me as I told her, "I sure hope I get to see you again some day, but even if I don't, I want you to always remember that as you grow into a young lady, and one day a young woman, you will always have lots and lots of mommies all over the world who love you and are praying for you!"  That made her smile.

Our visit was over all too soon.  Pictures and hugs ended our time together, along with Ed offering to sell me his camper!  LOL!  (We may just take you up on that one of these days Mr. Konick!) 

(Marcy and Emma)

(Kaity and Emma)

I didn't get any pictures of Eden, although I wish I would have.  But again, I wanted to be sensitive to her needs and didn't want to appear pushy, so I'll just share with you my very favorite picture of her from Fran's blog...

(Isn't this the most precious picture?  At one point during our visit Ed reached down and got Eden's hand and the biggest smile spread across her face!  It was precious to witness.)

Elliott had shoveled all the ice off of the sidewalk while we were visiting (I told you that boy was a fine young man!) and we drove back to Louisville to drop Marcy off at home, but not before we stopped off for some yummy Starbucks treats and a bit more visiting.

(What's up with teenage girls making duck-lips in all their pictures these days?  LOL)

After leaving Marcy (and her precious family whom we got to talk to for a few minutes), Kaity and I headed back to Lexington where we stopped off at a Target, grabbed some taco's and Mt. Dew (for the drive home, it was getting late you know), and snapped these pictures...

I have replayed the day over and over in my mind and each time I do, or each time I tell someone about it, I cry all over again.  But you know, it's funny.  While my heart obviously breaks for those Fran left behind, my tears are not all sad tears.  I can't exactly explain it, but it's more of a humbled, amazed-at-God, thankful, cup-running-over cry.  I am simply honored that God chose to allow me to be His vessel to bless this wonderful family.  I am nothing.  Without Him I can do nothing.  I don't deserve the blessing He has given me through this, but oh I am so very, very thankful and humbled because of it. 

I have just had my very first REAL Christmas, and I need nor want anything else.  I found Jesus in the tears of a beautiful, blond-headed little girl and through the prayer of her daddy.  No other gift could begin to compare.  THIS is what Christmas really is.

Merry Christmas my friends.  Merry Christmas.


Steve Lambert said...

Jane and I were blessed to have met Fran and Ed in person, and we're blessed to see what an amazing project you brought together with the help of so many. Thank you for your faithfulness and leadership Christy! A REAL Christmas indeed!

carriejoy said...

Wow! What a story to share! Thank you, Christy. Those quilts are amazing. (((Hugs)))

Debra Mears said...

Thank you so much for being an important part of Fran's life. She always talked about the amazing women that she talked to. She was a wonderful daughter, sister, mom and wife to her family and she is being missed an awful lot this Christmas season. It was her most favorite time of the year. Thank you again for taking the time to go and see Ed and the girls and his boys. I know that Fran being gone has left a very large hole in the lives, but God is good and He sends wonderful people like yourselves into their life to remind them what a wonderful person she was...Merry Christmas to you all.....Fran's Mom (Debra Mears)