Thurs., Dec. 20, 2018
Luke 2:7 – And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
Sometimes, things just don’t turn out the way they are supposed to. What we have planned gets abruptly changed. Often, all we can do is find little “band-aids” to hold things together in the meantime.
Around Thanksgiving time, I decided to make quilts for our youngest three grandchildren for Christmas. While I have quilted, it’s been awhile. I had one month to get this pulled together.
One night, I found myself at a fabric store. I didn’t have planned patterns nor was I sure how much fabric I needed. I just bought fabric. I would “make it work” and figure it out later.
With limited time, I chose simple patterns that I could easily piece together. I set-up shop and got busy sewing.
Recently, my friend Mary Ann purchased a piece of sewing equipment called a longarm. This machine does the quilting part of making a quilt. It sews together the top, the bottom and the batting or middle section together. Mary Ann was willing to help me quilt these blankets, bringing me one step closer to finishing the quilts before Christmas.
I arrived at Mary Ann’s house late one afternoon this week. Quickly, we began the process of getting a quilt on the longarm. With the quilt in proper position, Mary Ann went started the machine. It wouldn’t work. After trying everything she could think of, no success. Then, she called the store where she purchased it. After a conversation with a woman there, Mary Ann called the main office of the company who makes these machines. A nice man helped Mary Ann trouble shoot the machine for over an hour. They thought it was good to go.
But it wasn’t. Yes, it worked for a while. Then, it didn’t. For the next few hours, we witnessed the machine work and then not work. It felt like a temperamental 2-tear-old; willing to work somethings and other times, completely disagreeable.
In the meantime, we began another quilt on a regular sewing machine with a special quilting foot. By midnight, we called it a day with not nearly the work done we had anticipated.
When the machine is working, it’s slick. When it doesn’t work properly, it’s more than frustrating. Some communication malfunction seemed to prevent it from operating properly. Mary Ann would patiently try different things … until the longarm would work for a while. And then, it wouldn’t.
We kept plugging away. Unfortunately, I had booked myself with other things in the afternoon. I knew I had to leave by a certain time. Just before I left, we finished quilting two quilts. I left granddaughter Ellie’s quilt behind. Mary Ann will work on it as the machine allows itself to be agreeable.
Mary Ann and I tried not to let frustration get the best of us. When we made progress, we celebrated. I was grateful for Mary Ann’s assistance. Mary Ann was excited for me to see her new toy. We kept these thoughts in the forefront; not whether the machine worked properly.
As we worked on the quilts, I thought about Mary, the mother of Jesus. Her life didn’t go as she planned. One visit from an angel turned her life upside down. She planned to get married to Joseph, have a raft of kids and live a rather boring life in Nazareth. Instead, she became the mother of the Son of God.
Who would have thought traveling to Bethlehem near your due date would be a good idea? Mary made the trek while terribly pregnant and assumingly very uncomfortable. She didn’t seem to complain and simply accepted this as her role.
When it was time for the baby to be born and they couldn’t find a house with room, they welcomed the shelter of a barn. What first-time mother would be excited about giving birth with sheep and cows are nestled around you? And expect the cradle to be a feeding trough? When Mary’s plans got changed, she rolled with the punches and “made it work.”
After the baby was born, Mary didn’t have a warm blanket for Jesus. She only had strips of cloth to wrap the baby in. No real blanket? Are you kidding me?
Whether the quilts for our grandkids are completely done or not when we open presents with our grandkids, they will be much nicer than the bands of cloth Mary wrapped her precious baby in on the night of his birth.
What do I have to complain about?
A machine not working properly?
My poor timing of everything?
Things out of my control?
My let-downs pale in comparison to Mary’s disappointments and frustrations. She accepted every change of plan with barely a blink of an eye and kept plugging along.
Makes my frustrations look like a cakewalk.
It’s just a matter of perspective.
As much as I think I can control and “make it work,” there are times when I just need to go along for the ride. And not miss the scenery along the way.
Whether the quilts are fully done before we celebrate with our grandchildren, I do not know. What I do know is that I choose whether to get frustrated or not. Can I simply be happy for the “strips of cloth” in my life that help me hold things together?
I sure hope so.
For perspective when things are no longer in our control, I am grateful.
Lord God, how did Mary kept the right perspective while her world was turned upside down? May her example inspire me to use whatever “band-aids” available to hold things together. May I turn to you when plans fall through and be guided by your wisdom. Amen.
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