Quilting my womanhood

One of my favorite modern theologians is Rich Mullins, I get this from my Dad, who I believe has coffee with Rich on a regular basis.  In my heaven they’re buds, don’t challenge my doctrine please and thank you.

One of my favorite quotes from Rich Mullins is this:  “I think, writing-wise, I am probably more of a quilter than a weaver because I just get a little scrap here and a little scrap there and sew them together.”

I adore the idea of quilting l and I’ve found that this quote rings true, not only for writing but  parenting, cooking, reading, self-image and marriage as well.

We truly are quilters, gathering scraps from each other and sewing them into the fabric of our lives, piecing together something entirely new.

I made my first quilt of sorts this past weekend, an easter skirt for Noelle. I cut and gathered scraps of fabric and pieced them together to make up the swirly bottom of the skirt.  I used some new patterns from the local quilt store and some leftovers from my rainbow suitcase of fabric, a huge old trunk full of scraps all lined up and waiting to be repurposed.

There is something magical about taking a little stack of squares and creating something harmonious, all the fabrics singing together like a choir.  Suddenly you take it off the machine and you’ve created something entirely new and original and completely whole.

It’s not “less than lovely” because it’s comprised of found materials, rather it’s more beautiful for the patchwork, more interesting for the hodgepodge.

Lately I’ve spent a lot of time thinking of my sense of womanhood as a quilt and reflecting on all the different pieces I’ve collected over the years.  Every session I spend in reflection leaves me a touch more thankful and inspired.

Growing up with an overwhelmed and depressed mom left me confused about it means to be a woman and to be honest, I didn’t want to be one.  I hid my body and balked at the though of someone referring to me as a woman rather than a girl.

I thought that womanhood may undo me, that any bumps and bruises would mar my heart for life.  I saw myself as weak and unworthy.

I remember the first time I consciously added a scrap to my quilt of womanhood. I was working at Asbury Seminary for two woman, both named Tammy. They were strong and lovely, brave and hilarious, gracious and intelligent.  They were both single and raising three kids after difficult divorces.  To my surprise they didn’t live their lives in despair, there wasn’t an ounce of bitterness, only a vibrant zest for life and God.

Since then I have been gathering scraps here and there, so many friends and bloggers have become unwitting mentors and spiritual mothers to me.

I’ve quilted the way my friend Sandy thoughtfully loves her people
The way my Aunts weave God into every conversation
The way my Grandma prays for her grandkids and gathers us as a close-knit family
Sarah Bessey’s gentle mothering
Rachel Held Evan’s brave quest to bring truth
Anne Bogel’s intentional take on life

The list doesn’t stop here, so many women have given me valuable lessons that I’ve sewed into my quilt, God has used so many of you to teach me what it means to be a fully alive daughter.

For too long I thought I was just a little sister copy-cat of better mothers, writers and women.  Always running behind them, doing what they’re doing, hoping to be notices and deemed acceptable.

quilt pic

This weekend as I gathered and stitched together the squares I realized that all fabric is woven from existing threads.  Nothing starts out whole, it’s woven from something else.  We are all quilters. This doesn’t makes us boring copy cats, this practice of scrap gathering is a beautiful practice indeed.

As we gather and stitch, the pieces becomes so many and the pattern so wild that each quilt is something entirely new and breathtaking.

A daughter living out her God-woven gifts is one of the most lovely experiences on earth.

Through our mothering, singing, painting, doctoring, writing, cooking, teaching, quilting we bring God to life through our hands and he is truly worshipped.

Suddenly money, square feet, job titles, marital statuses and dress sizes don’t define us but rather the very act of glorifying God through the fabric of our souls.

You are not a copy cat, we’re all quilts friends and we were made to give and take scraps from each other, to mentor each other by simple proxy.

You are a part of my quilt and I am flattered beyond words for the gift of your scraps.

Tell me about your quilt, who do you love to gather scraps from?  

  • Michelle Woodman

    Love this post, and was pretty pleased to read you are also a fan of Rich Mullins. And I will not mess with his and your dad’s coffee dates. I think that’s a lovely thought and picture to hold in your heart. :-)

    I love to gather quilting scraps from my mom and sisters, from the people I am blessed to have in my life both in “3D” and online.

    • http://twitter.com/leannepenny leannepenny

      Thanks for not messing with my heaven. So glad to hear that you mom and sisters are a part of your quilt, that is a definite gift!

  • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

    Beautiful, Leanne. So honoured to be part of your quilt. This imagery is powerful.

    • http://twitter.com/leannepenny leannepenny

      thank you sarah, for bearing your heart and checking in here.

  • http://www.facebook.com/janel.andrews2 Janel Andrews

    the quilt image is one that i love and i always enjoy what people share about their journeys. I once read something about the tangled mess that is the back of a quilt with all the pieces tied together that if you didn’t know there was another side you’d be in despair, but turn it over and the beautiful pattern of mismatched pieces don’t show the chaos of the back but rather a bunch of different life lessons making a beautiful picture of your life in all the blues,reds, yellows, etc. thank you for sharing this dear friend…and i think that your dad and RIch are coffee buddies.