Voices from the Field Kristi TenClay Get to know Kristi

God’s Quilt

Published on November 14, 2022

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One of my scrap quilts, stretched and ready to tie (last year in Kansas).

Over the past few weeks, I have been getting back into my sewing/quilting in the pauses between school-related projects. Sometimes I am focused on a specific project with a clear pattern and design, working toward a defined goal. It is always fun to see how the final results do (or don’t!) match my expectations as they reach completion. However, some of my most enjoyable projects are ‘scrap quilts’ in which I do not allow myself to ‘match’ or ‘plan’ what designs and fabrics end up beside each other. I just grab the next piece of fabric, allowing myself to make adjustments only when there is a direct repeat of the previous fabric. What fun it is to watch random scraps of far-from-matching fabric come together to create something beautiful! Whether there be some degree of uniformity (all blocks of the same size) or what looks like totally insanity (crazy quilt blocks), the end result is a sea of African colors and patterns that so beautifully reflects the lives we live.

Crazy quilt from my first term (on my couch here in Cameroon).

There are so many comparisons that can be made between quilting and our lives. Like puzzle pieces, individual pieces of fabric don’t have clear meaning or purpose on their own. Out of context, each may seem insignificant, inexplicable, out of place, or even useless. Likewise, even if we have all the pieces, our idea of how the pieces should go together might not quite be what God has in mind. Sometimes, it is only when we relinquish control that each piece can play the role it was meant to play in the final product.

All is going well, and I am enjoying being back in the classroom. My ‘now’ is clear. However, the future is unclear to me and holds many questions. We are short-staffed, our enrollment is low, and we have several long-term staff members leaving us again at the end of this school year (for the fourth year in a row without sufficient new staff members to replace them). It is difficult to NOT sit back and wonder what God is doing and what his plans are. Yet, in the midst of the big question marks, and the many hours I have spent wondering what the future holds, I have peace. I am deeply thankful that it is God’s masterpiece to continue and that my job is to keep picking up the seemingly random pieces of fabric and attaching them as he gives them to me. For now, I will continue to make my crazy quilt blocks and wait to see how he will fit them together in the future.

Kristi TenClay