Father@FortyOne #8 – “The Quilt”

My wife and daughters just left for the big shower at church.  All of the ladies were very giddy this morning and I’m so happy that Dawn and our family are so loved by our church family, friends, and family.  We are also loved by our next door neighbor.

We live next to a blessed older woman whom I’ve known since I was a sophomore in high school because we used to work at a restaurant together.  I made pizzas at this local place, and she would come in once or twice a week to make some of the best and most perfect pies I’ve ever eaten in my life.  All made from scratch, each one delicious.  She’s always been a hard worker, a bit on the old-fashioned side, and now one of the best neighbors anyone could ever have.  Heck, she is even the grandmother of one of my elementary school girlfriends so I know their family very well.  I am blessed to know her.

Now I really don’t think I’m the best neighbor.  My house often looks disheveled and it’s usually pretty rare that we ever go outside.  If I were on her side of the property line, I would shake my head (and maybe my fist) and have the city on speed-dial because of the tall grass or junk sitting in my front yard for weeks.  I’m just not much of an outside person and yard work and house maintenance isn’t usually on the top of my priority list.  My neighbor’s house is a completely different story.  Her yard is usually immaculate, bushes trimmed, leaves picked up… always ship-shape.  She always waves and says high, gives me great gardening advice because she’s a former farmer’s wife, and occasionally shares treats when she has an over-abundance.  I feel that even though she has more years on us, she watches over my family more than we do over her.

A couple of weeks ago I came home and Dawn was resting in our bed, and next to her was something rolled up in a sheet of tissue paper.  “What’s that?” I asked, pointing at the small package.

“It’s a gift for the baby from Estella (our next-door neighbor).” said Dawn.  She looked down at the rolled-up gift like she had just eaten a large slice of gratitude pie.

“Oh yeah?” I asked as I started to unroll the tissue paper to see what was inside.  And at each turn I saw a new part of a beautiful baby quilt peek from out of its covering.  Beautiful blue panels and embroidered bunnies and teddy bears jumped out from the middle of the quilt.  “Very cute!” I told Dawn.

“Look closer, “she said.  “It’s better than cute.”

As I held the quilt closer to my face Dawn said, “It’s hand-stitched Kenny.  She didn’t use a sewing machine.”  I surveyed the quilt closely at noticed that not only the embroidery was hand-stitched, but each and every panel was hand-sewn together.  My eyes immediately began to well up with tears and I sat speechless with this beautiful quilt in my hands.  I thought, “What did we ever do to deserve this?  Why would someone ever go to that much trouble for us?”  My mind started to race about what a crappy neighbor I had been over the years and not comprehending the love that went into something like this.

“We don’t deserve this.” I said to my wife after a minute or two of silence.  I felt so bad holding this wonderful work because I couldn’t think of anything I’ve done to deserve this show of love.

Dawn came around to the end of the bed and made me look up at her.  “You know Hun… when we sit and talk with Estella on her porch about life, that’s like gold to her.  You shovel her walk sometimes.  You’ve cut her grass a couple of times.  Apparently she thinks enough of our family to put this much time into something like this.  Even though we sometimes don’t feel like we deserve another person’s love, we should accept it.  Besides, she’s really excited about this baby boy on the way!” she said, rubbing her big belly.

Tears rolled down my cheek because not only did I hold Estella’s show of love in my hands… a love I feel I didn’t deserve, but it also reminded me of the love that God showed to all of us 2,000 years ago when we didn’t deserve it.  Each panel of forgiveness from our sin, stitched with His love.  Each embroidered scene in our lives displaying His plan and purpose for us.  Soft and warm and unique to each one of us.  (I’m sure mine has Star Wars embroidered on it somewhere!)  Washed clean and spotless in the blood of His Glorious Son Jesus.  Completely not deserved, but ours for the taking.  All we need to do is pull off the tissue paper, look inside and claim it.  Even if we only occasionally acknowledge His will in our lives.  Even when we sometimes falter and fall and not properly reflect His Glory to others around us.  Even though we’ve let some weeds grow around us without taking the time to trim them.  He still loves us and our quilt is still there waiting.

Thanks Estella.  We love you very much and thank God that you live next door to us.  Sweet Baby Ray will love the quilt.  :)

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