Helen’s Gift

September 2, 2015 | My Jottings

The day before yesterday I went out to get the mail, and sitting on our front deck was a good-sized package from Switzerland. My sweet blogging friend Helen had emailed recently and asked for my address, so I knew something was coming. Maybe a piece of Swiss chocolate or a quilted Christmas decoration? Helen loves to quilt (and knit, and sew, and read, and run, and translate difficult documents since she’s multilingual, and raise her family, and travel), so I thought it might be something homemade, even.

But never did I expect to receive the lavish gift she sent me. A large lap quilt, with all the right colors, with exquisite stitching and precision, and with Helen’s compassion and love sewn throughout.


This work of art will look perfect in my living room, which has taupes and reds and walls that are robin’s egg blue. It would look perfect in my office, which has red and cream toile wallpaper and aqua velvet curtains. And it would be wonderful in my bedroom, to put across my lap when I’m reading, or writing in my gratitude journal.

Here’s the reverse side — have you ever seen anything so cheery and striking? And you can enlarge these photos to see the amazing stitching swirls Helen did. Perfection.


And as I was inspecting the quilt, jaw dropped and eyes welling, I saw some birds. Red birds. Cardinals. Anyone who knows me knows I love cardinals, and they signify hope and God’s help and presence in my life. If you haven’t seen it, I wrote a little children’s story about a family called the Buehlers, which is really about our family, here.

Here’s a view of some of the cardinals.


Last night after my Fosters went to bed for the night, I got into my plaid flannel nightgown, made some popcorn, put my feet up in the recliner, and watched my favorite show on TV. I put Helen’s quilt over my lap and thought of Michael, because in her note Helen said she began working on the quilt before Michael died, knowing from reading my blog that things had gotten very difficult as Michael’s health continued to decline.

I love when something has multiple deep meanings for me. I will use this quilt often, if not nightly. I will remember the loving handwork of a friend far away with a beautiful heart, and of the hope that’s always there in God even when we think that hope is hidden. In a way, I feel like I’m being covered by a prayer, Helen’s prayer, that God would help me walk this sometimes lonely path of widowhood.

When I sit with my quilt, I will also pray for Helen. I will ask the Lord to bless her in every way possible, and that He will blanket her (x 1000) with the warmth, beauty and comfort that she has given to me.


  1. Diane Dick says:

    Beautiful. Beautiful. Helen, thank you for blessing Julie, who is so beloved by God, and by so many others privileged to know her. Thank you for blessing me, just because I get to read about this gift, and the depths of love that inspired your skill and artistry.

    Julie, thank you for sharing this blessing. I am rejoicing with you as you rejoice.

    Love to you both,


  2. Just Julie says:

    I can’t wait for you to see it up close, Diane. It’s more beautiful than the pictures portray! Thank you….xoxo

  3. Helen in Switzerland says:

    Gulp! You make me feel very humble – I’m just glad you like it and that it brightened your day – I enjoyed making it Julie and somehow it just had your name on it right from the start! Best wishes, Helen xx

  4. Just Julie says:

    Saying the words “thank you” will never seem quite enough, dear Helen. xoxo

  5. Kay in Cornwall says:

    This is so beautiful. Not only the actual gift itself, but the loving heart that made and sent it.
    I echo Diane’s comments about the lovely blessing this gift is for Julie, and it’s wonderful to see you receive something so gorgeous.
    You are loved by so many people Julie, God bless you.

  6. Just Julie says:

    I agree with you about the gift and the heart of the giver, Kay. I keep looking at this quilt and feel blessed it graces my home. Hugs to you and Alan, Kayfriend…. xoxo

  7. Ganeida says:

    How lovely! I am so happy you are so blessed.

  8. Just Julie says:

    I got your note, Ganeida….many hugs. xoxo

  9. Sue Denney says:

    Julie! How blessed you are to have that gorgeous quilt to wrap up in this winter! I have to say, every time I pass a red cardinal decorating some item, I think of YOU!

  10. Just Julie says:

    Awww, thank you Sue. I’m always on the lookout for them! I hear one in my neighborhood now and then, but rarely see him. xo

  11. Eleanor McMahon says:

    Love you grandma had fun with you today

  12. Just Julie says:

    Hi Ella! I had fun with you too. You are such good company to me, honey. xoxo

Leave a Comment

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.