what I should have written yesterday

I simply called Lisa for advice on a quilt.


In church the day before, I’d had a very tearful conversation with Stephanie– for four years she’d endured the poking and prodding and humiliation of infertility treatments. And during the waiting she’d suffered false wisdom– “Enjoy your freedom!” “Kids are overrated.” or the worst, the very worst– “Maybe God doesn’t want you to have children.” How could anyone suggest such a thing?

As we talked and wiped away tears, I gathered some friends around and we began to plan. First, we would pray for her. I believe in prayer. I believe we have prayed little babies right onto this planet. Next, we would find her a project. I told Stephanie of my incredible friend Kit– her seven years of infertility– and the way that she began knitting little baby clothes long before she became pregnant. “I knew I’d have a baby someday, whether through adoption or pregnancy,” Kit said, “I might as well create something beautiful while I wait.”

PhotobucketYes, Kitty knit these dresses– all three.

So I brainstormed with Stephanie– a knitting project, an intricate dollhouse, a crazy hard quilt?

A quilt.

And so I called Lisa. Not only is Lisa a master quilter, but her heart stretches wide and far and she knows the healing power of taking needle to cloth, turning seams, creating beauty from chaos.

“It needs to be a hard pattern,” I told Lisa, ” crazy hard. Not a weekend project, but something that will take a year to complete. A quilt that her grandchildren will admire.”

“I’ll find the pattern.” Lisa replied, “I’ll buy all the fabric and I’ll give her my phone number so I can help her through the tricky parts.”

As a novice quilter, I understood that her offer entailed a great deal of time and a great deal of money– all for a girl she had never met and had never heard her name. But the offer was completely in character for Lisa. She is one of the great and noble souls of this earth, she can’t abide another’s suffering, she reaches out to help in any way she can.

On Saturday when I was at Lisa’s house she gleefully handed me a stack of golden fabrics: a sunshine toile, polka dots, white swirls on a lemon background. Tucked between the fabrics was a pattern. This one. Gorgeous. Incredible. Crazy hard.

The note read simply: Something to fill the long days of waiting.

Lisa wanted no credit or acclaim (and she may be annoyed with me for sharing this story); she simply wanted to ease another’s pain.

And so, on Sunday, after Stephanie had led the music, I motioned her down, placed the glorious gift in her hands and watched her eyes fill with tears as she said, “I wasn’t going to come today. Mother’s Day is just so hard. So hard.”

This is the essence of mothers–hearts and hands that reach out across miles and barriers to wipe tears, heal wounds and celebrate all that is good. This is motherhood.

May 9, 2011



  1. Jeanelle

    May 11, 2011

    Love the idea of a project like that…wonder what I should start???

  2. Tracy

    May 11, 2011

    Love you. Tons.

  3. jen

    May 11, 2011

    When I found out I was pregnant with Daniel, I didn’t know if it would be a boy or a girl so I picked some green and white yarn to make a blankie. I crocheted on it until my hands swelled from what turned out to be preeclampsia and I lost the feeling in my fingers.

    When Daniel was 4 months old, we had a pastoral interview in Alberta so I picked the blankie up again and crocheted on it during the 8 hours up and 8 hours back. I finished it just before he had to have surgery (a minor hernia repair + circumcision).

    This is HIS blankie and at 2 years old, he will wrap himself in it when he’s having a tough day and will not sleep/nap without it.

  4. Brenley

    May 11, 2011

    As someone who suffers from infertility, was childless for almost 7 years, and is the adoptive Mama of two now, this post made my heart swell with hope for this friend of yours. I wish someone would have been that understanding, sensitive and loving towards me in our very long wait.
    I have so enjoyed your blog for the past couple of years (this is my first time commenting). Your heart just amazes me and you are a great example of what I strive for as a Mother.
    Thank you,

  5. Lizzy

    May 11, 2011


  6. Lisa

    May 11, 2011

    If we could just wrap up one another’s pain in a quilt of grace and love…what a better world it would be. Thank you for allowing me to be part of Stephanie’s journey!

  7. Cath

    May 11, 2011

    This is true compassion. Yes, this is sisterhood. Thanks for sharing Michelle. xo

  8. MissMel

    May 11, 2011

    This is such a beautiful story. Thanks so much for sharing it. There is good everywhere.

  9. Mormon Women: Who We Are

    May 11, 2011

    This is amazing. Thank you for sharing. What a beautiful example of the power of sisterhood.


  10. Selwyn

    May 11, 2011

    Oh, how simply marvelous! Love it.

    And you.

  11. Adri

    May 12, 2011

    I’d say this is genius (of which I know you are capable), but I think it is inspired. Quilting is a hobby I took up when I, too, waited for my babies to come. My wait was only 2 years (and my first quilt ended up falling apart), but I learned much in the process (about quilting and about hope). All my best to your dear friend…

  12. Mark and Aupreille

    May 15, 2011

    All our love, faith and prayers go out to Stephanie. What a wonderful gift you gave me when you taught me to knit and what a wonderful gift of that gorgeous quilt to fill her “days of waiting”.

  13. Linkous

    May 15, 2011

    sorry that last comment was from me 🙂 love you

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