MJ Stegeby’s Snowflake Altar Cloth Lace

I went to visit a dear friend of mine a few weeks ago. She showed me the altar cloth lace she’s currently working on for the Mexico City, Mexico Temple. It’s a variation of a pattern she saw on my pinterest crochet lace page. It’s turning out just beautifully!  She’s using size 20 lace thread.

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Ebenezer Lace: Corner Re-design

Ebenezer Lace It is finished! I made modifications to one of the sides and designed corners for the Ebenezer Lace. This altar lace was originally made a specific shape by the request  of the temple matron in order to fit a particular altar. After four months in service, we determined that the corner cut idea wasn’t working well. The lace kept sliding out of position without corners to add stability.  So I took it home and have been working on a redesign of the edges, including a fill-in for the missing corners.IMG_20141022_092107

I was able to continue the Linnaea blossoms as well as the radiating line theme. The corners are complimentary. I am really pleased with the result. This lace will be turned in Friday. Hopefully it will fit as beautifully on the altar as it looks in a picture.IMG_20141021_194252

Wings to Fly With

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I came across this quote this morning and have been pondering it.

“Do not ask your children
to strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable,
but it is the way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder
and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting
tomatoes, apples and pears.
Show them how to cry
when pets and people die.
Show them the infinite pleasure
in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.”  

– William Martin 

Yesterday the kids and I went to the stables where my daughter works with a few horses on a volunteer basis. She spent a good chunk of this summer training with my sister. For her, horses are freedom.

My two littlest kids love “the horse place”. They watched the goats, climbed on the rocks and had more fun in the dirt and sticks than you’d think possible.

The other day I had the joy of watching a child who is dear to us as he struggled to smile. It’s an effort that for most is simple, but for him has been a journey fit for a novel.

There is something true in the healing, nurturing power of simple things. All of us have a little trauma to overcome in  some degree or another. That’s the nature of life in this imperfect space. It’s the simple things that give us wings. Flight is in our nature. Being who we are, we can’t help but fly.

And that, is extraordinary.

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Birds in Flight – – Altar cloth lace in progress

The Spirit Is In The Details: from the Nova Scotia Temple

Halifax, Nova Scotia Temple

Halifax, Nova Scotia Temple

“A mechanical problem with the plane to be used by President Gordon B. Hinckley to travel to the Halifax Nova Scotia Temple dedication resulted in a historic first: the dedication of two temples on the same day. The Regina Saskatchewan Temple, scheduled to be dedicated by President Hinckley the next day, was instead dedicated by Elder Boyd K. Packer, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, while President Hinckley presided over the postponed dedicatory sessions for the Halifax temple. Richard Moses, second counselor in the Dartmouth Nova Scotia Stake presidency and chairman of the local temple committee, noted, “When the dedication was postponed, members showed no irritation, but inquired what they could do, like opening their homes to help offset the expense of those who would need to stay an extra night to attend the dedication.” He added, “It is impossible – there are not words – to adequately express our gratitude for this temple. No longer do we just look at a picture of a temple. Now, when my daughters look out their bedroom window, they see the softly lighted figure of the Angel Moroni standing as a beacon over the area.”

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To attend the dedication, members in the Bay Roberts, Grand Falls and Corner Brook branches drove six to eight hours to a sea port where they ferried to Nova Scotia during the night, then drove four more hours to the temple. Members from Maine drove eight hours to attend. Members in New Brunswick and on Prince Edward Island also drove many hours. “These are faithful people who don’t consider attending the temple to be a sacrifice,” President Moses said.

The influence of the temple reached deep into the hearts of many non-members, continued Pres. Moses, noting the concern expressed by a reporter of the province’s largest newspaper. “After completing a tour during the open house, and obviously touched by what he was feeling, the reporter commented that there was no way he could write what he felt in the small space he would be given for the article.” On another occasion, “A man dressed in leather and sporting many tattoos came to the open house. He was quiet during the tour and sat by himself in the celestial room. Soon, tears were flowing.” A member brought his non-member mother to the open house. Sitting in the celestial room she said, “I’ve never felt closer to God.”

During construction, “we found the counsel of Elder Jay E. Jensen of the Seventy to be true: the Spirit is in the details,” said President Moses, noting how the members found joy in making the temple as perfect as possible. When several flecks of grouting were found on the bottom of the baptismal font after last-minute tile work done the day before the dedication, members were willing to drain, then re-fill the font.”

President Moses recounted an experience one evening in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, that demonstrates the love of the members for the temple. “We were taking a tour through the temple district to give a report on the progress of the temple and show them a sample of the granite stone. At one point, I asked for volunteers to crochet altar cloths. A blind sister sitting on the front row quickly volunteered. ‘I’d like to do this,’ she said, and rather forthrightly, requested a pattern. A hush fell over the others as they considered the sacrifice she was making. Then they quickly volunteered.” (Church News, 20 November 1999).

Families are Forever: In honor of Baby Elizabeth

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In November, 2011, my brother Shaun and his wife Katie were expecting a baby, their second.  We were all excited to see their little family growing.  Somewhere along the line something happened, and we got the news that Katie had gone into premature labor.  She was 21 weeks along when baby Elizabeth was born.  She was so small, she did not survive the birth.

Elizabeth’s birth caught all of us by surprise. Her passing was even more of a shock. My Carolyn had passed away just three years earlier. Elizabeth’s passing reminded me in so many ways of my own experiences not so long before. My heart went out to Katie especially. Though I don’t live near the rest of my family, I knew I had to do something to help.

I am one of ten brothers and sisters, and we are all close.  As soon as word got around about what was happening, everyone sprang into action, meals, babysitting, anything and everything that could be done was done.  Being isolated from everyone during this time was hard, but as I sat and pondered what I could do, I thought about my lace.  Elizabeth’s funeral was to be in just a few days.  I had less than a week.  What was needed? What could I do? How could I help?

California law at that time categorized children who died before 20 weeks as miscarriages, and after 20 weeks as stillborn.  Elizabeth was stillborn.  The state issued a death certificate, and added a bit of formality to this little life.  She was given a name and a blessing, but instead of preparing for her life,  we prepared for her funeral.

My eyes rested on a baby bonnet I’d made recently.  It was my second bonnet, and it was beautiful, but it turned out too small for any baby I knew.  As I looked at it, I thought of Elizabeth, and how she, being so young, was very, very small.  An idea began to form.

Troy’s mother was in town with me, and we came up with an idea.  I showed Mary the baby bonnet, she had the same thought I did.  It could be for Elizabeth.

I’d made blessing dresses and other things for larger, full term babies, but for this tiny preemie, I had no idea what size to make things.  I decided to just start, and as I did, ideas came.  My brother Shaun was making the tiny casket.  My mother and sister worked on the inside, lining it with some of my sister’s wedding dress material.  What would a baby that small wear for burial?  My mother supposed they’d just wrap her in a blanket.  She was so small, too small for anything else.  Most doll clothes were too bright and rough cut to be appropriate for such a special purpose.  There were resources online, but there was not enough time to order something.  Besides, we wanted it to be more personal than that.

We had a bonnet, and we wanted a dress to match. After some searching, we found a simple white slip for a doll dress we hoped would work.  I modified it with a large enclosure on the back and tailored the dress to the size described by one of my sisters who had seen Lizzie at birth– her head was the size of a woman’s closed fist, and her shoulders were smaller across than the width of her mother’s hand.  My heart ached visualizing that scene.  How could anyone be so tiny?

Everything we put together, we made adjustable for size. I’d never made baby clothes so delicate before, but the dress turned out beautifully. I added tiny thread crochet lace for the sleeves and collar to match the bonnet, and made the waist adjustable with a matching pink ribbon.

Mary and I cut two fingers from a child-size white knit glove, and edged them with lace for foot coverings.  Mary and I both worked on Lizzie’s blanket.  It was lacy, like an altar cloth, but with a pink flannel layer underneath to protect her delicate skin.  We threaded a pink ribbon through the bonnet edge to make it adjustable for Lizzie’s little head.

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Mary Jo Stegeby, another lacemaking friend of mine, came over and embroidered Elizabeth’s name and date on the corner of the blanket.  Mary Jo and I had both suffered the pain of childlessness, we knew loss, and how much the care of others meant to us when we went through those times.  This work had our hearts in it.

Everything was so small, and so beautiful.  Because of other issues, the lace we made wasn’t used in the actual burial, but my sister has it wrapped in a special box, as a keepsake of hers.  Elizabeth’s life was so short, and she came so unexpectedly, Katie has few things of hers to remember her by.  Our work was a gift she treasures and keeps, until they meet again–  a reminder of the promise that this baby is hers, loved, eternal, and death doesn’t last forever.

For Elizabeth’s graveside service, my mother wrote and sang this modified version of  “I Wonder When He Comes Again” by Mirla Greenwood Thayne.  She writes:

“When we were preparing for Katie’s and Shaun’s graveside service for baby Elizabeth, I looked and looked for a hymn or primary song that talked about the resurrection of little children.  There are none, except for one hymn on page 299 that came close, but the tune and words were very unsatisfying to me.  So Aunt Janetta suggested that I write a verse to use… which I did.  Its an add-on to verse one of “I Wonder When He Comes Again”.

These are the words to the second verse I wrote for Elizabeth.  We sang them at Elizabeth’s graveside:

I Wonder When He Comes Again– For Baby Elizabeth

I wonder when He come again, will herald angels sing?
Will earth be white with drifted snow, or will the world know spring?
I wonder if one star will shine far brighter than the rest.
Will daylight stay the whole night through?  Will songbirds leave their nests?
I’m sure he’ll call his little ones together round his knee,
Because he said in days gone by, “Suffer them to come to me.”

Our Heav’nly Father knows and sees, the smallest sparrow fall.
His plan is for our happiness; He loves and cares for all.
I know when Jesus comes again, the righteous dead he’ll raise.
With joyful voice the glorious throng will shout and sing his praise.
And children sleeping in the grave will rise to live and then
Will parents joyfully embrace their small ones once again.

—Last verse by Denisa Myrick (Elizabeth’s Grandmother)

Everyone has times of hard trial in their lives.  The Lord is good to each of us during these times.  Elizabeth’s life was short but there was beauty in it.  We all banded together and sorrowed together.  How wonderful it is to know, that as hard as these things are to travel through, this time doesn’t last forever. Until we meet again little Elizabeth.

Mary working the last square of the blanket lace.

Mary working the last square of the blanket lace.

Lizzie's Lace, almost done.

Lizzie’s Lace, almost done.

Lace for Elizabeth. 2011

Lace for Elizabeth. 2011

Jordan Anderson’s Daisy Lace for the Payson Utah Temple

Daisy Altar Lace

Sister Jordan Anderson, a new lacemaker from Payson, Utah,  just completed an altar lace for the Payson Temple to be dedicated soon.  She told me of her experience with her first altar lace:

“Just over a year and a half ago my Relief Society president announced the call for altar cloths for the new Payson Temple, which is just on the other side of our ward boundaries. I have a strong pioneer heritage on both sides of my family and many of them contributed to the work of building temples, so I jumped at the chance to make my own offering for the house of the Lord. Little did I know what a huge and wonderful undertaking it would be.

Before starting this altar cloth I had limited experience with crochet. I’d made a few hats and scarves, but that was it. The Relief Society President gave me a packet of seven approved patterns and I chose the one I thought was best suited to my abilities, the Daisy Lunch Cloth. Because I was so new at this endeavor it was essential that I follow the pattern exactly. There were times I thought I knew better than the pattern…but I didn’t. It wasn’t until I humbled myself enough to really study the instructions that I gained an understanding of how to be successful with each motif. I had a moment of inspiration and felt the Spirit reminding me that the scriptures and the words of the prophets are the pattern for our lives. Disregarding the pattern only brings frustration, especially as one who is learning and growing. Even more touching to me than that lesson was the renewed testimony of the Atonement. I made many, many mistakes in the process of completing the altar cloth. With every mistake I ripped out the work I’d done and changed my stitches to fix the problem. Now there is no evidence that those mistakes were ever made but there is a complete and flawless whole. The Savior does the same for us when we turn our mistakes over to Him for healing and grace. I did not expect my testimony to be strengthened by crocheting an altar cloth but I am grateful for the experience.

Work on the cloth has come and gone in spurts. For the past several weeks I have felt the fire under me to complete it. I have a baby on the way and I came to the realization that if I were to wait any longer I may not have to time to finish before the temple is dedicated. This past week I have both finished the cloth and come across many stories of my pioneer ancestors. As I finished work on the border I thought about so many in my family line, from pilgrims who came on the Mayflower to pioneers who crossed the plains, who dedicated their lives to the service of God. I’ve been blessed to feel their influence on the generations of my family down to my own children. I have two ancestors in particular, one from my father’s side and one from the line into which my mother’s father was adopted, who worked on the Nauvoo temple. The first, John Carling, did carvings on the doors and woodwork throughout the temple and the other, Peter Shirts, made the keys and locks for the doors. They knew full well they would abandon their beloved temple and their work would be lost to them, but they gave the best they had to give. As a tribute to them and as a gift to the Lord I can now give something that is the best of myself. I am still learning and my work is not perfect, but it is my very best and any mistakes I made have been removed. I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to give my offering to the Lord and to give it with the confidence that I gave my all. It is amazing to me that what I have already received from the learning process is far greater than what I gave.”  –Sister Jordan Anderson, Payson, UT

Temple History: This Is The Right Place

I came across this today as part of the celebrations going on for Pioneer Day.  Not only does it show gorgeous footage of the Salt Lake Temple interior, but also some of the heart, detail, and craftsmanship that go into these temples.  The Salt Lake Temple pictured here took 40 years to build and finish.  This temple was the third temple the saints began.  Both previous temples had been burned and destroyed by people who were set on chasing the people from their towns and faith.  I can imagine the joy those saints felt as the angel Moroni was placed, and the beautiful Salt Lake Temple was finally completed.

A note of interest, one of my husband’s grandfathers, Albert Perry Rockwood, was in the wagon with Brigham Young on July 24, 1847, the day they first made it to the Salt Lake Valley. After so much suffering, death, and brutality the saints endured searching for a place to live together in peace, it was a great moment when Brigham Young saw the valley, recognized it, and declared “This is the right place”.

Pioneer day is celebrated as an official holiday in Utah, but is also celebrated in many surrounding states in honor of pioneers of all faiths who settled the West. Today marks 167 years since our pioneer forefathers came to Salt Lake.

Pioneer History from the Mormon Newsroom:

The 19th-century Mormon migration beginning in 1846 in Illinois, then through Iowa and Nebraska and eventually to a place of refuge in the Rocky Mountains, was one of the most remarkable episodes in the history of the United States’ great western migration. Unlike the thousands of pioneers streaming west to California and Oregon looking for a better life, the Mormon pioneers migrated involuntary — the result of expulsion from Illinois and Missouri by hostile neighbors. Later, the Mormon pioneer trail would be filled with converts coming from Europe.

With the assassination of Joseph Smith in 1844 and increasing pressure on the Mormons to abandon their city of Nauvoo on the banks of the Mississippi, it soon became obvious to Church leaders that they would need to move yet again. At first they established a refuge in what was called Winter Quarters, near present-day Omaha, Nebraska. Then in 1847, under the leadership of Brigham Young, the first wagon train headed west for the Rocky Mountains, its precise destination unknown.

As the first group of Mormon pioneers reached the Salt Lake Valley in the summer of 1847, Brigham Young looked out over what was then a barren, dry desert and declared, “This is the right place.”

In 1849, President Young established the Perpetual Emigration Fund to assist poor Latter-day Saint immigrants. The fund helped some 30,000 immigrants from the British Isles, Scandinavia, Switzerland, Germany and the Netherlands reach America — more than one-third of the total Latter-day Saint immigrants from Europe during that period.

To cut down on expensive wagons and oxen, some 3,000 of the pioneers subsequently used low-cost wooden handcarts that were light enough to be pulled across the Great Plains. One family or five individuals were assigned to a handcart, with 18 to 20 people sharing a tent. A cart hauled no more than 200 pounds — about 17 pounds of baggage per person.  Each highly organized company was led by an experienced guide and was accompanied by at least four oxen-drawn supply wagons.

The first party of handcarts set out from Iowa City, Iowa, on 9 June 1856 with a company of 266 people from England, followed two days later by a second company of just over 200.  These early handcart brigades successfully arrived in the Salt Lake Valley, but the trips were not easy. Pioneer journals recorded harsh weather, the threat of hostile Indians, the death of fellow travelers and the ongoing hardships of hunger and fatigue.

Tragedy struck in the fall of 1856 after the Willie and Martin handcart companies left late in the season with 1,000 people between them. Both companies were plagued by a lack of supplies and hardships, including an early snowstorm that turned into one of the worst storms of the century. The exhausted companies set up camp in deep snow on the Wyoming plains, where more than 200 people died from starvation and cold. A massive rescue effort was launched immediately when word of their plight reached Salt Lake City.

In all, whether they came by wagon or handcart, thousands of Mormon pioneers died on the trail. Loved ones including children were often buried in shallow graves that would never be visited again.

Under Brigham Young’s direction, an estimated 70,000 Latter-day Saints made the difficult journey to Utah from 1847 until the transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869. The collective experience of the pioneers has cut deep into Mormon self-identity. Pioneer ancestors who made the trek are honored and often spoken of not only in family gatherings of descendants but also in meetings of Church members, who see the pioneers’ example of courage and sacrifice as inspirational.

The full video that these clips were taken from is called “The Mountain of the Lord” and tells the full story of the building and sacrifice of the Salt Lake Temple:

My Loves. My Life.

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Faith, history, family and lace. I captured this shot today after nearly a month of lacelessness. I am finishing up a sample from my last altar cloth to remember the pattern. The Ebenezer Lace project had no written pattern, and I don’t want it to be lost. I’ll put it in a frame eventually with the story that goes with it for my children to read. The story is theirs.

Our family has been going through a growth spurt this last month with the addition of a son. He’s seven years old, and precious. His adoption will be finalized this fall, and we look forward to having him sealed to our family. This will make four adoptions and four sealings this fall if all goes well– three girls and a boy, to add to our existing three boys and a girl. Eight! And Carolyn. Nine.

This time has been nearly five years in the making. So many beautiful blessings.

We took this picture for Father’s day:IMG_469016526402605

Each spirit has a story. Each child is unique. Their paths to our family are all different, but each twist and turn is known to the Lord. How great a blessing! He has remembered his promises to us. My cup truly runneth o’er.

Time to get going on a new altar cloth.