When life hands you rags…

I love fabric! I can’t pass a fabric shop without going in and rummaging through the remnant bin – the possibility that I may find a treasure to include in my next quilt! Then with each sewing project I complete (or try to complete!) I squirrel away those precious off cuts, no piece too small to become part of a beautiful patchwork!

I started this hobby at a difficult time in my life; a friend sent me a sewing kit to make a bag. One day I thought, maybe I could just manage the…it was like a light switch went on inside me. At first, it was a happy distraction: I could lose myself in the colours and texture and the next project I had on the go, and then I began to realise the process itself was sparking life and hope in other areas of my life. I began to notice that the joy of creating something beautiful out of the pieces most people would discard, went beyond just a sense of achievement to the hope that this was possible for life. At this time I went on the ‘Crossroads’ course (now called ‘Core Purpose’ – a reflective course which helps us examine how we face the joys and difficulties of life) being run at LifeLine Church and in processing some of these things I wrote:

‘Life’s memories are like many scraps of fabric: there are beautiful exotic pieces; there are mundane, ordinary, nothing special pieces; and there are the pieces we don’t like, but, all are part of our story, not to be relinquished to the scrap heap. Watch what happens when they become creatively and intricately ‘peaced’ together. The quilt that emerges is beautiful, it has value and purpose, and it will comfort those that rest in it, delight those that look upon it, and speak of a story of restoration… Peaced Together’

Yes, I had made up a new word ‘Peaced Together’ – The process of piecing together one’s life by making choices that lead to hope and peace!

In the midst of my own pain I was finding hope; I was choosing to be thankful, and I was discovering that I had a new sense of purpose. As I was creative, I kept a journal of the things that God was showing me in the process, and I began to share my thoughts with a close friend from Church (Sally Dixon). She encouraged me that there were many others that could benefit from the things I was discovering. She asked me: ‘what would it look like if you shared this with others?

As I explored this I realised it would be over a series of 10 sessions. Sally came back to me a few weeks later and said I have some funding that could enable you to pilot this with a group of local women. I ran the first course in partnership with Lifeline Community Projects, through one of their children’s centres they had at the time.

Lifeline Church saw the potential for the project to multiply and support many women and so over the last few years have supported with time and resources. As we have gone on this journey together, Peaced Together has become part of Lifeline Community Resources and a way in which we as a Church have branched into new ways of supporting and building relationships in our local community.

So, it was through my own personal journey of choosing thankfulness, forgiveness, hope and courage, and seeing this expressed in the creative process, that I developed the course ‘Peaced Together’ with the support of a Church who caught the vision and got behind it. I count myself privileged to have made this journey with many other women and see them rediscover hope and healing for their lives.

We are now training Churches and charities across the UK, Ireland, and even in Dominica, to deliver this course to women in their communities. Now as a recognised project for the Cinnamon network, we have gained connection with many other Churches as well as opportunities with Christian conferences such as NewWine.

We have also recently developed a course for children and in partnership with Creative English support materials for those who don’t have English as a first language but could benefit from the course. During lockdown, we have adapted our training for online delivery which is also opening up possibilities for more international training.

Just as in the feeding of the 500, when we surrender what little we have to Him, He can take it and multiply. So, what is in your hand? And what will you do with it? As my Dad once said…’when life hands you rags, make a patchwork quilt!’

To find out more about Peaced Together you can watch a short video here: Run a course – Peaced Together
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