Apr 14, 2014


Note: Two days after publishing this blog post, my husband had a stroke. I am so grateful it wasn't worse than it was and he is recuperating wonderfully well.

Here is the original post from this date:
Life's Unexpected Challenges

I am feeling so very grateful for the beauty of Spring flowers, the sound of early morning bird song, the playful antics of dozens of little squirrels as they perform their high wire acts from limb to limb. I am grateful for the budding of new leaves on trees, the buzzing of bees, and the sweet hum of humming birds as they flit back and forth from our many feeders to fresh blooms in the yard.
Grateful that my youngest sister-in-law, Shelley, with advanced cancer is holding her own, after her 7th chemotherapy treatment. She and my brother fly from Juneau to Seattle every three weeks for another round of treatment, so while it might seem discouraging that they she is now on 'maintenance' levels, that is actually a good thing. She is holding her own and still striving to live until her second grandchild is born in May.

Grateful that my brother in Eagle River who battles one round of pneumonia, and one medically induced coma after another, is now feeling well enough to have some physical therapy to get his strength back. And his wife, with end-stage kidney disease, who crashed and burned with severe high blood pressure and fluid filled lungs, is now back to holding her own against the increasing odds of finally being "sick enough" to make her way up on the kidney transplant list.

Life if filled with so many challenges, but we focus on the good, the daily gratitudes of health, happiness, and the ability to bear whatever pains we might feel that day.

As someone who was told in 1981 to prepare myself for a life in a wheelchair, I know better than anyone that doctors can be proved wrong, time is fluid, and so are all of our choices.  You just take it day by day, week by week, year by year with gratitude for what one has that is good and filled with meaning.  For everything that is taken away or given up, so much more is given that others do not have nor will ever be able to experience.

My little burlap prayer flags were made with remnants from the 14 burlap table runners that I cut and fringed for my youngest daughter's wedding last August. I bought 36 yards of that burlap, and combined with the making of 6 burlap wedding bags, 6 burlap Christmas stockings, and countless prayer flags, I've used that fabric well! Combined with bits of osnaburg from the 90 home made fringed table napkins and lots of bits and pieces from the tiniest of leftover cuttings from fabric used this past year for the making of charitable donation quilts and  pillowcases, nothing and I do mean, nothing!, goes to waste in this house :-)

As the second prayer flag says:  "Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier." ..Mother Theresa

Such simple little flags, but made with love and intention. Light enough to still flutter in the winds of time and spread their message of gratitude and love everywhere.

 It feels so good to be outside and working in the yard, seeing all of the new growth, and delighting in those little blossoms brave enough to face the possibility of late frost. We lost so many rhododendron, hydrangea, and peonies in our suddenly severe winter, but have the blessings of 5 new peonies hand delivered by the grateful owners of  Pookie, the precious little dog who got lost during the fire works of New Years Eve in Brooks, Oregon and somehow found his way over farmland to our home in Salem.


It was a miracle he survived the more than 5 mile journey and a blessing that he found us as we never gave up trying to locate his owners without benefit of a tag or identification of any kind.

Now, we hear that sweet little Pookie has a new collar with tags securely attached, but also a microchip, as well. And his young college age owner was so grateful she made her parents promise to get these peonies to us, before spring for planting! So, her wonderful parents,  who just happened to own Brooks Garden came by with a fabulous gift of five lovely peonies ....and they didn't even know that we had lost ours in the severe winter freeze! Oh, I do so love peonies..one of my favorite of all, flowers!

So, joys abound. The Universe balances out the challenges with the blessings, bit by bit, day by day. I hang new prayer flags, one by one, and I am grateful

And don't miss this...a wonderful opportunity for a rare event a total lunar eclipse which turns the moon a rusty red. Known as the Blood Moon the sunlight will stream around the Earth and throws the moon into Earth's shadow.

Beginning tonight/early tomorrow, on Tuesday April 15 ( how filled with portents is this? ) at about 1:20a.m. on the East Coast, and lasting for about 78 minutes, we will witness a full lunar eclipse, Blood Moon.   At first this full moon will appear to be a little darker than normal, but eventually it will move across the face of the moon with the distinct reddish-brown or "Blood Moon' color. This is a the first of a rare event of a sequence of four total lunar eclipses expected over the next two years. Wow! I cannot wait. I love astronomical events of all kinds. I head out into the moo light with open arms and hands and sing out to the Universe "fill me up, fill me up" following in the footsteps of a long line of wise woman and their way of asking for blessings and abundance. And my way (tonight) of saying. a tax refund will certainly be nice ;-)

Shown, above #15,000 - And The Greatest Of These Is Love (sold for $105.00) : One of my 75 small format art quilts donated to the  Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative (2007-2013). 

And....I am still grateful to have sold all 75 of these tiny little 9"x12" or smaller art quilts and have earned  $4,516.88 for Alzheimer's Disease Research Funding. The little moon is as close to a 'blood moon' as I could find among my art work and I did so love this little quilt. It makes me happy just looking at this photo and knowing it must have gone to a very good home :-) 

And last, but never, ever least....I am so very and truthfully, grateful for all of you. Nearing almost 6 million views now, I wonder "how in the world did my love of writing and sharing lead to me being a blogger? But again, the Universe had a different plan in store for me, and I just do my best to oblige in any way that I can. So, thank you, those who comment and those who do not..I am still grateful!

Join Us in Visual Prayer

 The Prayer Flag Project 
Such a lovely way to remember to be grateful, to create blessings, and share with others.

Michele Bilyeu blogs With Heart and Hands as she shares a quilting journey through her life in Salem, Oregon and Douglas, Alaska. Sewing, quilting, and wildcrafting, with small format art quilts, prayer flags, and comfort quilts for a variety of charitable programs. And best of all, sharing thousands of links to Free Quilt and Quilt Block Patterns and encouraging others to join her and make and donate quilts to charitable causes.   Help us change the world, one little quilt, art quilt, and prayer flag at a time!


Celia said...

Wow, what a great gift of plants for you. Hope you enjoy your spring; I love your blog and seeing your creative spirit in action. Blessings to you Michele.

Quilting Stories said...

Beautiful words of gratitude! Greetings from Greece. Christine

Bee Quilter said...

Such a life and you stay happy. Glad I came here today. I think I needed this reminder.

Unknown said...

Gosh, I haven't read blogs in a while. I'm sorry to hear of so many things happening again in your family. Sending up prayers.

Mystic Quilter said...

Your prayer flags are just beautiful, I am so sorry to read of the troubles within your family and keep you in my prayers

Joyce Carter said...

Hi Michele. Just wanted you to know that even though I don't always leave a comment, I do read and love your blog. You are such a wonderful inspiration to me. Every time I read your blog, I feel so much better for having done so. My family has had a lot of ups and downs,too, but I know that there are others that have it harder than us. I am so thankful we have a Heavenly Father that loves us and helps us make it through the hard times. Thank you for all you do and God Bless.

Sue said...

Love Brooks Gardens. I live in Salem, and have gone there to get peonies on Memorial Day.

A person certainly needs to learn to count their blessings, even in the midst of trouble. I've done that in my life.

God bless you.

Karen H said...

Another wonderful post Michele! Thank you for sharing and reminding us that even when faced with challenges there is still beauty in the world and there is much to appreciate.

Cher said...

popping in and catching up! thank you for sharing as always the love and the hope-prayer flags new and old...so glad you are enjoying the gift of new plants and spring abounding....love...Cher