How-To | Transfer a pattern onto fabric

There are countless ways to get your pattern from the paper in front of you to the fabric you’d like to use for your hand embroidery project. This method is almost fail-proof, super easy, and more than likely you’ll already have all you need right at home.

Supplies needed:

  • Embroidery hoop
  • Fabric (typically you’ll want to stick with a cotton or linen blend)
  • Light source (such as a window, or a light box/pad)
  • Water soluble marker or #2 pencil
  • Pattern



Thanks for watching and happy stitching!


How-To | Back an Embroidery Hoop

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When I began embroidery, I remember for the first time seeing makers keeping their completed embroidery piece set in the wooden hoops, and I loved it! Once I got the basic embroidery stitches down, next I had to figure out how to finish out the back of the hoop and set the fabric in place for display. I did Google search after endless Google search finding advice and trying out each one.

Over the years I’ve used various different methods for backing my embroidery hoops (at one point I was even stitching felt to the back) and this is my tried and tested method. I am going to share that specific backing process with you on this video tutorial. I hope it helps!

Supplies Needed:

  • Embroidery hoop
  • Fabric scissors
  • Old scissors (that you don’t mind getting sticky)
  • Peel and stick fabric adhesive (I use size 5/8″ and you can find this at Michael’s or Joann’s)
  • Scrapbook paper
  • Compass or extra wooden hoop of the same size for tracing

I hope you found this video tutorial useful in your crafting ventures. Thanks for watching!


More faithful than the rising sun

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I sat and ugly cried in front of my kids this morning at breakfast while they all stared back with concern. It was the good kind of cry that kids don’t really get yet. I was overcome with needing them to know how much I love them despite how many times I might’ve “angry growled” that day.
There’s a little 4 year old boy, Damian, who was diagnosed with retinoblastoma a few months prior to Willa’s diagnosis. Unfortunately his was pretty advanced when they found it. The cancer has spread uncontrollably throughout his tiny body, and just yesterday he woke up, no longer able to see as the cancer took over his optic nerve in his remaining good eye. He’s actively dying.
Sometimes it feels impossible to “be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer” but I have to trust that if we cling to these things, that God’s grace will get us there and hold us there and won’t let us go. And although I fight it every second of my being, He really is all we need, His love really is loyal, more faithful than the rising sun.


Work in Progress

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This photo of my craft hoard of embroidery thread is a pretty accurate depiction of how my week got started….scattered, rushed, tangled, frustratingly full.
I suppose, just as there is meaning to the madness with this pile of thread, that the same purpose lies within the chaos of the day-to-day.

I believe in providence, in guided cause.

The Creator is picking up the thread pieces of our beautifully broken and twisted pile in His grace-saturated hands and stitching a tapestry of design, rich in perpetual goodness and perfect reason.


Road Trips with the Great Physician

Lately, this sweet little piece of internet, my blog, has been on my mind. I’ve thought back to the times I sat in front of my laptop in silence and oftentimes darkness in our hotel room those first few weeks at St. Jude while Willa was sleeping and tapped my fingers on this keyboard relentlessly, pouring my heart and soul out in a meager attempt to begin processing what was unfolding before me.

This blog and my writing became an extremely useful tool and important part of my grieving/growing process. But once things slowed down and there was no more tumor and we moved onto the next trauma of our lives (moving to a new city), I, in a sense, neglected this space and in doing so I neglected devoted followers of Willa’s story and those that truly enjoyed reading the words written here, those that essentially cracked open my diary with me.

Because of these recent realizations, I wanted to breathe a little life back into this site and share some thoughts I had written down the day before I left Raleigh for Memphis this time around:


I’m forcing myself to put all my embroidery away and start packing.
Most of you have been following along for some time and you’re aware that our youngest daughter, Willa, was diagnosed with retinoblastoma (cancer of the retina) while in infancy.
It’s been six weeks since Willa’s last EUA scan at St. Jude and tomorrow the two of us head across I40 to Memphis.
I dread these trips so much. Not because I hate driving(I really love it). Not because St. Jude is a crappy place(it’s one of the most incredible, heart-stretching places). I dread these trips because it’s like our family’s life holds its breath and not until we receive those results can we breathe again.
Each approaching scan, as I’m pulling away from our home, my other two kiddos and my husband, it’s like ripping a band-aid off that you really wish could just stay put. Because once removed, there lies a gaping wound, brokenness that hasn’t fully repaired itself. And that hurts and it’s scary, but you know that band-aid just can’t stay there forever, that wounds don’t heal that way no matter how much you wish that they did.
So tomorrow on the road, while I’m “keeping it between the mustard and the mayonnaise” I’ll think a lot, cry some, listen to bad talk radio while I’m intermittently cursing in road rage, but most importantly, I’ll finally invite The Lord in to examine what’s under that band-aid together. It’ll hurt and it’ll be scary, but it’s always always good, and whether my wounds have been festering or mending, when I bring them before our Great Physician, they’re met with gentleness and mercy. And healing always follows.


Take this post as an update, a glimpse, but most of all a sort of apology for neglect and a thanks for giving me an outlet in desperate times. Tonight, with Willa’s EUA early tomorrow morning, sitting here in our hotel room once again, behind the same laptop screen…it’s a sort of reunion. And I can’t say I don’t like the familiarity of it all….




Awful & Amazing

A year ago today we took our 9 week old little Willa to the Pediatric Opthamologist where they were immediately able to tell us that she was blind in her right eye, with the retina detached. Later that afternoon after a CT scan, she was diagnosed with retinoblastoma. A few days later we arrived at St. Jude for the first time and her right eye was removed shortly after. One week of waiting after her surgery and we were extremely elated and relieved when the pathology results came in and she wouldn’t need systemic chemo.
It’s been quite the year. So much awful and so much amazing. This morning Dr. Wilson found two pesky tumors, growing right on top of the scar tissue left behind from her last laser treatment. I feel two ways at once. I know it could be worse, I’ve seen worse and heard of much worse. I’m thankful that lasers exist and that the tumors usually respond well to them. But I’m also heartbroken. This whole RB thing is crazytown. It’s always waiting and rarely knowing. It’s constant wondering. It’s the perfect storm to keep my already previously anxious self in some serious state of continuous awareness of the idols suffocating my Grace-given freedom from fear.
I think it needs to be okay to say it sucks. God knows I think this blows, so there’s no reason not to be transparent about the struggle, the faith-fight. I’m still singing of death swallowed whole…waiting until all that we hope will be all that we know. I just need to be sad about it all for a little while. So much awful and so much amazing.

Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose


A few weeks ago we finally got the results of Willa’s genetic testing. She has tested positive for the RB1 germinal (or germ line) gene mutation.

For most, this doesn’t mean anything but some words that sound like something taken from a MARVEL comic. I wish! I wish it meant Willa gained some crazy superhuman power that gave her the ability to lift cars with a finger or burn through walls with her eyes.

I’ll try to explain:

Our genes, made up of DNA, act as a sort of instruction book for making proteins. Every person has two copies of each gene, one inherited from our father and one from our mother. The RB1 gene, which everyone should have, provides instructions for making a protein called pRB. pRB is a tumor suppressor, which in simple terms, means that its’ function is to protect your body from getting cancer, specifically (but not limited to) Retinoblastoma. So, everyone has two RB1 genes that work to maintain healthy cell growth. When Willa was formed, both of those RB1 genes were either damaged, mutated, or missing. At this point, we don’t know if the damaged gene was inherited, or mutated upon development. But, what we do know is that if it was inherited, it means that either Steven or I had one damaged RB1 gene and never developed Retinoblastoma. Which is possible. Both RB1 genes have to be damaged, mutated, or missing in order to develop this RB1 germ line mutation.

Now, what germinal or germ line means is that the RB1 mutation is present in every cell of Willa’s body.  So Willa’s body is unable to produce functional pRB  and cannot regulate cell division effectively. ……bring on the Frankincense (that’s for all my essential oil lovers).

I was trying to think of an image to help with this extremely intricate explanation. The best I could come up with was this: it’s like you’re going to sleep in a room in a mosquito infested place, like the middle of the rainforest. Surrounding your bed you have a mosquito net (RB1 gene #1) and just to be extra safe, you add a second net on top of the first (RB1 gene #2). With both nets intact, no mosquitos would be able to get inside to bite you. With one net destroyed there’s a greater chance that a mosquito could get inside, but still not impossible to keep them out. With both nets gone or damaged, you are completely exposed to the mosquitos and you are going to get bit. You just have no control or idea how many bites you’re going to wake up with in the morning, or where those bites are going to be, or when you’re going to get them considering you continue sleeping without the nets. That might be the worst analogy to help explain the RB1 gene mutation, but hey, I’m not getting graded on this stuff.

So far, all of Willa’s EUAs have come back clear. But, with this new information, we can expect that there will be more tumors in her remaining eye. She is also more at risk for certain cancers than the general population. About 25% more likely. But statistics are a hard thing to pinpoint, and really, when your daughter is one of a handful of babies to have this “rare” disease, statistics just fly out the window. 25% starts sounding like an awful lot, and things you never thought could happen all start to seem incredibly possible…….HA! it works both ways for miracles as well as tragedies. Things you never thought could happen all start to seem incredibly possible.

Other cancers she is more susceptible to are pinealoma (cancer of the pineal gland in the brain, osteosarcoma(bone cancer), melanoma, and cancers of soft tissue like muscle. Our genetic counselor assured us that her likelihood of developing these other cancers are higher than the general population, but still very low. Still a tough pill to swallow.

Next week we head back to St. Jude. This will be the biggest trip since Willa’s first visit. She will have an MRI to check her brain, this will be her second MRI. She has another EUA. This will be her fifth EUA (I think, it’s hard to keep straight). Steven and I will have eye exams and blood drawn for genetic testing. Finn and Johnnie June will both have blood drawn for genetic testing. Our geneticist seemed pretty confident that more than likely, Willa is the first in our family to have this gene mutation. Because like I said before, the mutation can either be passed down from a parent, or both genes can get damaged or go missing during development in the womb.  She said there’s a 10% chance that one of us has the mutation. Again with the statistics…..

This isn’t what we were hoping for, but we’ve seemed to come to terms with what it all means, or might mean. I’ve stayed pretty silent about it though, because in whole honesty, I was angry at these results. The thoughts swarming around in my mind in the few days after receiving her diagnosis reminded me of Job’s wife when she’s all “curse God and die”. I kept thinking….”I just want to give up and die right now. I don’t want this. It’s not worth it. I just want everything to be over.” And then later, I was extremely ashamed at how similar my heart was compared with Job’s wife who is definitely not someone in the Bible anyone gets excited to learn about. She’s a great example of what not to do. It’s easier to curl up and die inside sometimes when we’re faced with wrenching pain…..

But then last night, Steven said something while I was shouting through tears “This sucks! This freaking blows! I hate this!”  He said….

God is using this pain and suffering to grow our hearts to love people more deeply.

And earlier that day I had stumbled upon the scripture that became our sort of mantra during our first trip to St. Jude with Willa that says “For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness.” From Psalm 26:3. I read the verse that precedes it and it said “Prove me, O Lord, and try me; test my heart and my mind.” BAM! Hit me like a ton of bricks.

Prove me, O Lord, and try me; test my heart and my mind.

For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness.

And then, as I was thinking about the most random of things, like when I would get to embroider again and what I would want the hoop to say. I thought about one of the first hoops I ever stitched that had the famous line from the 2006 television series Friday Night Lights…

Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.

And all the sudden it was like Jesus busting through our silly pop culture and saying “That’s it! That’s all there is! What I’ve patiently, graciously been showing you…..keep your eyes clear. Clear of doubt and fear and the mess that so easily entangles, and instead center them on my steadfast love that I will constantly, diligently, keep right before your line of sight. Keep your heart full. Full of the truth of my Gospel, growing with love of and for my Gospel, love for all people that I have created in my image that are broken and desperate and longing to be known and held.”


Keep your eyes clear, your heart full and you cannot lose. It doesn’t matter what Satan says. It doesn’t matter what cancer says. “Losing the battle to cancer” doesn’t have the final word because that is not the fight we have been called out to fight! Our fight goes beyond the physical bounds of our ailments and sufferings. Our fight echoes into eternity and beyond our comprehension and we cannot lose while our eyes are fixed upon Him and our hearts swell with His perfect love and grace.

Just like Coach Taylor and the Dillon Panthers: it was about much more than a football game. Even if the scoreboard deceitfully declared that they were the losing team, if they maintained clear eyes and full hearts, they could not be labeled losers.

We can’t lose! We can’t lose! Willa’s fight isn’t against this cancer, her fight and your fight and our fight comes from deep within, where death cannot sting and Jesus stands, ready and willing, to carry us through because He loves us with a perfect love. A perfect love that He wildly extends to all His creation, to all ends of the earth. A boundless love. A victor’s love. 


Scientifically confusing notes taken from here: