Saturday, April 25, 2015

I'm Moving

No, we're not moving again!

After almost 10 years of blogging in the same place, my blog is moving.

My new address is

Yep. I have my own domain name. Seems a little prideful, but Wes has assured me it's fine. And when I look at my stats, the most common search term is "susan hutchens blog." So now it's named after me. Although I'm still calling it ByGrace.

I have several posts published already (just reposts from this blog to see how everything works at the new place), plus a welcome message waiting there this morning. I'm still working out all the bugs and kinks, but it's up and running. I hope you'll follow me over there. I'll be leaving this blog up for a while, but after today, all new posts will be at the new blog.

Come on over and see the new place!

Monday, April 13, 2015

I'm 50? How Did THAT Happen?

It's been quite a while since I last checked in with you, but I wanted to say hello today. It's my 50th birthday! And I don't quite know how it happened!

On the way to church on the last day of my forties!
I've gotten quite sappy in the weeks leading up to my birthday. My natural tendency is to be emotional and sentimental (I love nothing better than looking at old pictures and talking about old memories!), so of course the approach of my 50th birthday turned my thoughts toward sentimental things. Here are some of my thoughts lately:

1. Time really does fly. I have a hard time believing I'm actually 50 years old. It seems like just a week or two ago I was a teen girl meeting the boy who would become my husband, then getting married and having my babies. Those years flew by. Then I had small children, then teenagers, now young adults. I clearly remember being the ages my children are now. Yet here I am, already 50. Most likely, there is more time behind me than there is ahead of me (that's a sobering thought!). So I've resolved to enjoy every day of my 50s. Revel in them. Live them intentionally. Because they will go just as fast as the other four decades of my life have gone.
"Whereeas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away." James 4:14
I really was a baby!
2. Enjoy every season. Life happens in cycles. There will be up times and down times. Times of sickness and times of health. Times of smooth sailing and times of storms. That's just the way life is. Life also has seasons. I was a child. I was a teenager. I was a new bride. I was a young mother. I was a mother of toddlers. I was a mother of grade-schoolers. I was the mother of teens. I worked outside the home. I was an assistant-pastor's wife. I am a pastor's wife. I have learned to enjoy each season for its own joys and pleasures. I loved having my little babies, but I enjoyed their school years, and I am loving them as adults. I've been a mother, and now I get to be a grandmother. Each season is short, and each season has its own joys, so I want to enjoy them fully.
"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:" Ecclesiastes 3:1
Age 3, with my two grandmothers, who, incidentally, were 50 and 51 at that time!
3. Live each day to its fullest. This might go along with the previous thought, but it's more tuned in to individual days. I've learned to live in the moment, as Jim Elliot said: “Wherever you are, be all there! Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.” The days are going by so quickly; I want to enjoy each one completely!
"And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God." Ecclesiastes 3:13
Age 5. I loved having my picture taken. Obviously.
4. What doesn't matter doesn't matter. It doesn't matter what people think, what kind of house you live in, how much education you have, how much money you make. People matter. Your relationship with God matters. Very little else does. I want to live by priorities, and when I list them, do you know what the top ones are? My God, my husband, my children . . . it's all about relationships, not things.
"Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man." Ecclesiastes 12:13
In high school, 11th grade, the year I met Wesley
5. Learn all you can. Not all learning takes place in a  classroom. You can learn by reading, studying, talking with people, observing people and situations, reading the Bible, listening to Bible-based preaching . . . there is no end to learning, and we all have something new we can learn. What better time to learn new things than after 50?!
"A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels:" Proverbs 1:5
A bride!
6. Be yourself. This has been a hard lesson to learn, but as I get older, I realize more often that there is no one else that I can be. God made me; He made my physical appearance, my personality, my strengths and weaknesses. There is no need to try to be like anyone else. Nothing I can do will make God love me any more or any less, so I can relax and be myself.
"I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well." Psalm 139:14

Saturday, March 07, 2015

We Interrupt Our Normal Programming . . .

I was going to have a new Worth the Read post ready for you this morning, but we have some important news that's much more interesting than that. At least to me it is.

These two are having a baby!
Our first grandbaby!

A few facts about this sweet little development: 

Baby is due September 27, 2015
Juliana is doing fine, mostly evening sickness, and the pregnancy is progressing well

This will be the first grandchild on both sides of the family
On the Hutchens side, it will also be the first great-grandchild
It will also be the first great-great-grandchild for Wesley's grandparents
We hope to get a five-generation photo after Baby comes, Lord willing

This baby will be my parents' third great-grandchild

My youngest sister, who got married last March, is also expecting her first baby . . . 

the same week!

I, the oldest sister in my family, will become a grandmother the same week that Rebekah, the youngest sister, will become a mother
How's that for family history in the making?!
Rebekah's baby will be our parents' 16th grandchild
I am so pleased to share this special time in our family with my youngest sister!

Here's how Sam told us about the baby . . . 
I was already texting him about a picture he had posted on Facebook, and he asked if I'd seen the other one he posted
I said no . . . 
and that boy sent me THIS

Wes said that was one of the few times in my life I was speechless
Samuel had not posted it to Facebook, of course,
and he immediately called us through FaceTime on his iPhone to tell us all the details
He almost got himself in big trouble with that one!

So we are excited 
and incredibly blessed 
to know that our first precious grandbaby is on the way!
We love him (or her) already
and I can't wait to hold it and plant kisses in its sweet little neck!

Friday, March 06, 2015

Road Trip Case

A couple of weeks ago, I found a treasure trove of DMC embroidery floss at the thrift store. I snatched it right up, but when I got home I realized I didn't have anywhere to store my sudden wealth of floss. I had found a storage box with the bunch of floss I bought, and I had one already at home, but I quickly realized I was going to need about 4 boxes to store all this floss. I also have a new floss goal: at least one skein of each color floss that DMC makes! Anyway, storing all that floss in boxes is no problem, but when I'm working on a project (like Keeping Room), I don't want to cart 4 boxes of floss around the house and have to constantly open different boxes to find the floss I need. And there was no way I could - or would - take all that floss with me on a trip, which is one of my favourite times to work on cross stitch projects!

So I began a search online for a pattern to make an organizer that would hold floss, scissors, needles, hoop, pattern, and the actual project. I wanted something I could use at home as well as away from home, and cute wouldn't be bad either.

The pattern I bought is Noodlehead's Road Trip Case. It has a clear vinyl zippered pocket, plus 4 more pockets to store extras. I made the 4-pocket alternate version; the original version was made for rainbow loom supplies, with the long, slender pockets with elastic at the top. For my case, I used an embroidered denim for the outside and inner pockets, an apple print for the inner lining, handles, and pocket flaps, and a red & white plaid for a finishing touch here and there. I quilted the outside, but the embroidery was already done - several friends have asked if I did the embroidery too.

I made the case in about 3 evenings spread out over the course of a week. It's not a difficult pattern, but I did have to make sure I understood exactly what the purpose of each step was and how I was supposed to achieve it. I'm familiar with sewing, but not as familiar with items like this, so I had to pay close attention to where the pattern was headed with each step. There were several times I started out putting something together backwards!

I was nervous about sewing on vinyl, but I was pleasantly surprised to find all the steps with vinyl to be the easiest ones! The pattern mentioned that the vinyl might stick to the presser foot, and what to do if it did (use tissue paper under the foot, then tear away after stitching). I only had to use the tissue paper once, while sewing on the binding. Most of the time, there was fabric between my foot and the vinyl. Also, this was the easiest zipper installation I've ever experienced! Don't be afraid of zippers in pouches and things like this case; they are much easier than putting a zipper in a dress or skirt! The hardest part - and even this wasn't all that hard, just fiddly - was binding those curved edges. Of course, I used bias binding, and it turned out ok, but I'm going to have to practice curved binding! You may not be able to see it, but there are places where it's rippled and twisted just a bit, and I'm not quite happy with that.

This case was my "test run," with fabrics from my stash. I like it well enough to use it myself, but there are several things about it that make me hesitant to put it in my shop, all mistakes that I made (like those spots of ripply binding!). Anna gives permission to sell items made from her patterns as long as they aren't being mass-produced and pattern credit is given to her - both of which I'm fine with! I'm going to make another one soon for myself, out of some designer fabrics, and I'm planning to make several for my shop, some from designer fabrics and some from vintage sheets and/or fabrics. This would be fantastic for kids' toys or craft supplies, as well as sewing or embroidery supplies, or for art or journaling supplies. Or letter-writing supplies - pens and stickers and stamps for writing and sending notes and postcards on a trip! Whatever small things you want to organize on the go, I'm thinking this bag would be just right.

Do you like to carry small crafts with you on trips? Are you able to work on crafts or read while you ride?

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Trip of a Lifetime: London - Westminster Abbey and Churchill War Rooms

Continuing on in sharing our trip with you, today I'll show you pictures from Westminster Abbey and The Churchill War Rooms.

This day was rainy, and we stood outside Westminster Abbey for probably 30-45 minutes for the tour.  It was a pleasant morning of exploring yet another famous historical landmark. The Abbey was built, as were many other landmarks, over 1,000 years ago. While the architecture was absolutely amazing, what I found most interesting were the hundreds of people buried inside the building! There are quite a few "chapels" containing the remains of various members of royalty, but the floor is also full of graves! I knew there were graves at the Abbey, but I assumed there was a cemetery; I had no idea people were buried in the floors!

Waiting in the rain
We saw the graves of many famous people, but the one we most enjoyed seeing was the grave of missionary David Livingstone. I wish we could have taken a picture of it, but again, there were no pictures allowed inside. You can see the memorial inscription inlaid in the floor at the link above, which also briefly tells the story of Livingstone's life, the transportation of his body home to England, and how his grave site was chosen. We were pleased to see that it was in the centre of the Nave, the large room where weddings, funerals, and coronations take place. Also buried in the Nave are other famous people, such as Sir Isaac Newton and, ironically, Charles Darwin!

I loved standing in the Abbey and imagining the royal weddings and the Queen's coronation taking place there - and I was standing in the same spot! It was definitely a beautiful building, but so full of tradition and man's religion.

We walked a few blocks from Westminster Abbey and visited the Churchill War Rooms, which was the actual bunker for Churchill and his War Cabinet during World War II. All the rooms are set up exactly as they were during the war - offices, briefing rooms, living quarters. I found the personal living areas most interesting, especially the room Mrs. Churchill occupied when she was in residence at the bunker (which wasn't very often). It was (almost) a home away from home! Never mind there were bombs exploding above your head! There is also an interactive Churchill Museum that I enjoyed very much; again, finding his personal life most interesting. He was an amazing man with much drive, determination, and wisdom, but he also had his faults - like cursing and drinking. I was inspired by his life and thankful for his leadership during the war, even though it was 20 years before I was born. Think what our world would be had Germany and Hitler had their way!

Trip of a Lifetime!
South Africa
London - Windsor Castle
London - Tower Bridge
London - Tower of London
London - Buckingham Palace
London - Westminster Abbey and Churchill War Rooms
London - Bunhill Field


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