Category Archives: Personal

Costa Rica – Day 3 & 4

Day 3

img_8583What a way to start the day!  This is the view from the back of the Mission House.  The yard is full of beautiful flowers, a lemon tree, and many banana trees.

Meet Roa…she is a sweetheart but a very good guard dog too!

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Today was the beginning of Kairos.  The Mission House was stirring with busy bees preparing agape and food organizing supplies to take into Vilma Curling Women’s Prison.  We were unable to go to the bakery to bake cookies so we made some ourselves at the Mission House. We also had lunch made by the team and then headed to the prison.

Today was a short day inside the prison.  The 37 inmates (we like to call them princesses) came in about 3pm and left about 5pm.  Everyone introduced themselves and the team got organized.  We will probably have more princesses come since it was supposed to be 42.

We got back to the Mission House around 6:30pm and had dinner and then came back to our hotel to get ready for a very early morning tomorrow.

Day 4

The bus picked us up at 6:10 a.m. so we only had time for coffee and no breakfast.   We arrived at the women’s prison and had to get quickly organized for the morning refreshments, fruit and cookies.  This year, we have three princesses helping us prepare food. Numerous talks and presentations happened today.  Melissa sang “You Say” and our team sang “Sing Alleluia” and we never practiced it and it sounded beautiful! Karla said she felt like she was in heaven!

We served lunch and dinner and it was super delicious!  Pineapple was served as a snack and some of these women hadn’t had pineapple in a very long time…so we try to give them lots of wonderful food as agape! The agape team also worked on the agape bags filled with all kinds of items! A woman from Ford’s Chapel made each fabric bag.

We also had the group photos made as well.  Here’s our cocina group photo.

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The day ended and we came back to a mini fiesta with awesome and upbeat music!

Now it’s time for me to go finish writing my letters to the princesses.  Tomorrow they get their agape bag and all the letters that everyone writes!  Keep praying for these woman!  The walls are beginning to come down!

Buenos noches,

Sue

 

Costa Rica-Day 2

Monday was a beautiful day full of blessings for us and for the inmates we saw today at APAC, a faith-based prison, and San Sebastian prison.  First we headed to San Rafael and toured APAC.  APAC is for men who are in their last two years of their sentence where they can come here and learn how to re-enter society, job skills, bible study, etc. There are currently 82 men with capacity for 90.

Before we even entered the prison, we had the chance to pray with a young woman, Greta.  She actually recognized us from a previous Kairos we attended at the women’s prison. She just got out 10 months ago and was visiting her husband at the San Rafael prison. Once inside, we toured housing, kitchen, library, computer lab, garden, butterfly garden and workshop area where we had the opportunity to purchase some of their homemade goods.  One new thing this year was a small store where they can purchase needed items and snacks.  Money made goes back into upgrading APAC and for inmates in need.  The butterfly garden and workshop area had been upgraded and is much larger from these funds.

We were able to spend their morning motivational time worshipping and giving testimonies to them.  Ruth introduced the team and sang “Supe (I Knew)”, Marlene shared her testimony, and Shelly shared hers as well. We met with Didier, Ana’s husband and talked with him a very, very long time.  He shared what was in his heart and what God has done already in his life.  We prayed with him and will continue to pray for reconciliation for their marriage.  We had a quick lunch in the library and then was able to purchase items at the workshop area.  Several of us met a non-believer, Otto and witnessed to him.  By the time we were finished talking with him, we knew the seed had been planted and he said that he had a lot to think about.  One interesting thing he does in prison is fix bibles and Marlene’s bible’s binding was broken and he was the one that was going to fix it.  There are so many sweet notes in her bible that are all in Spanish and who knows how they will impact him as he fixes her bible.

After we left APAC, Carlos said he had a surprise for us.  We stopped at a Starbucks and got coffee and drinks, then headed to San Sebastian prison.

Outside San Sebastian prison gate, a sweet elderly lady, Ruth. She was selling bags for people to carry food into the prison.  She shared her testimony with us about how a local ministry had helped her from being homeless to sufficiently supporting herself.  She gave God the glory!  AMEN!

In San Sebastian the other Voz de Libertad (VOL) volunteers and our team prayed before we entered.  These volunteers go in every Monday to help lead worship and minister to the inmates.  This prison was nothing like APAC, there was very little peace, lots of tension, and a feeling of evil as you walked through numerous gates to get to the cell where they held worship service.  We had to pass through their sleeping area and it was ROUGH!  Shoes and clothing were hanging from the bars and it just felt very dark and extremely noisy.  Ruth shared her testimony and sang a song. Shelly shared her testimony of forgiveness and a young man shared that he had a very similar experience. The inmates led two worship songs and Carlos prayed for them and we immediately had to leave.  Before we went out of the gate, we circled up and prayed over the VoL team and then they prayed for us.

 

We headed back to the Mission House for dinner and had a few hours of heartfelt sharing of what blessings we experienced that day.  Many eyes were leaking.  Karla shared about the travel to and from their youth camp. There were very narrow, curvy, and dangerous roads on the side of a cliff that led to the camp. The ironic thing that happened was they got lost and and then found the correct way which was even more dangerous getting up the mountain in a large school bus.  The name of the retreat was “No One Will Be Lost”. How ironic!  People had to get out of the bus to make sure the tires were not going off the road. Karla felt the most spiritual time was while they were on the bus maneuvering the dangerous road praying for safety. They had to totally rely on God to handle this scary situation.  We were so thankful coming back Sunday dancing and singing as they arrived back home.

We had great moments of laughter while singing songs from Frozen and just being silly.  We headed back to the Hotel Francos and enjoyed our “ice cream” ministry with Javier….we’ve known him for a very long time.  He is the nighttime guard and works there.IMG_8578.JPG

Oh and I got to meet a man sewing in prison.  He fixes clothing and has been a tailor on the outside!

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Have a blessed day!

Sue B

Costa Rica-Day 1

IMG_8482.JPGI’ve been coming to Costa Rica since 2005. When I get here it feels like home!  I love this place!  It reminds me of the island of Hawaii, the Big Island with the lush tropical foliage and volcanoes.

We stay at Hotel Casa Franco which is like a B&B but the beds are more like nicer hostel beds.  Food is great, especially Franco’s delicious homemade secret recipe jelly!  And the coffee is AMAZING!

Yesterday, we started our day off with worship at Carlos’ church, known as the Purple Church to many since it used to be painted purple. Now it’s white and beige with a white ceramic tile floor.  The worship band was fantastic!  It wasn’t going to be an ordinary church service though.  The 40 youth were on a weekend retreat too.  We all got into groups and walked the neighborhood handing out devotional calendars.  It was so cool!  At first, I noticed that nobody was walking the neighborhood so I wondered if we were going door-to-door instead.  As we started, people just appeared on the streets!  Thank you God for providing people who needed this devotional calendar. We prayed with one group of people and we handed out all calendars from our group!!  We asked if they had prayer requests and also invited them to Carlos’ church.

We ended church service with one of our team members, Kerry, giving a sermon, “Do you love Jesus enough to be Radical?” to everyone.  Ruth sang “Mighty to Save” and then we walked to the Musanni Bakery for some delicious, fresh-baked pastries. For lunch we had homemade empanadas. WOW…they were amazing! As some of us stayed behind to help decorate for the youth returning from camp, some of us headed to WalMart.

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At 3pm we had a special back to school children’s program for families of the church, ex-inmates, and current inmates. We had a very large group of people, approximately 40.  They families chose a value that represents their family and drew a poster and presented it.  Each family presented their core family value: communication, kindness, respect, love, sharing, honesty, faith, obedience, and family.  We had a beautiful moment of prayer time with the families and prayed with one women who just found out her 24 year old nephew had just passed away from toxic fumes at work.  There was a women named Ana who we prayed for.  Her husband Didier is in APAC.  We told her we were going to APAC on Monday and would pray with him.

We had cake and refreshments for them afterwards and also handed out a large package of school supplies. One major highlight was seeing Maria, an ex-inmate that was on a Kairos that we helped with!

 

For supper we had fried chicken and fries and stayed at the church for the next event of welcoming the 50 people returning from youth camp.  Some youth gave testimonies, there was a dance presentation and lots of fun as they ended a camp that really impacted their lives. The theme was “No one will be lost”. Ruth also sang “Broken Vessels/Amazing Grace”.

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We came back to Hotel Franco and crashed.  What a blessing of a day!  One of my teammates actually has major details of our day, but I just wanted to give an overview.

Missing my quilting, but maybe someday I can share how to make memory quilts with people here so they can provide an income for their family!

Happy Quilting! More to come later!

 

 

A Week in Houston at the International Quilt Festival

What an amazing week I had last week!  I arrived on Sunday, November 4 and arrived home in the wee hours of the morning November 12 due to flight delays.

This is my second year to work on the Education Team with Quilts, Inc. as a volunteer.  It’s hard work and sometimes very long days, but all in all, it’s so worth it.  We meet well known and award-winning quilters, fabric designers, and great new friends that have the same love of quilting I do!

The quilts were AMAZING!!!!

The $12,500 Best of Show Winner – Eternal Beauty
Sherry Reynolds of Laramie, Wyoming, United States

What you can’t see is all of the beaufiful crystals added!IMG_7813

Here are some more that I really liked….see the complete list of winners.

My main job was checking in bus tours. We had to get up pretty early and be in the garage when partcipants arrived. I also did a lot of other things like working at the Meet the Teachers, Open Studios, Teacher’s Pet, tallying evaluations, checking in people to lectures, and any other things that was needed.

On Tuesday, I took a Confetti in Naturescapes with Noriko Endo from Japan. My almost finished product is to the right.  Apparently her classes are very hard to get into in Japan as well as here in the U.S. Working on the Education Team, we get to register first which is a super awesome perk!

On Wednesday, I took an Animal Portrait class with Esterita Austin.  It needs lots of work still…you can see some other progress the students were making.

Walking around the vendor area, I met Tula Pink, fabric designer.  She has some of the coolest fabrics!  I bought some of her new line!  Yes it’s a raccoon or if you live in the Rocket City, it’s a Trash Panda!

I also met Reva Hill.  Her quilt was chosen to be on all of the show materials!

While on the show floor I got to see some of the Prince challenge quilts.  So so cool to see them up close and personal.  Mine was not on this tour, but I hope to see it in April in Paducah!  Next Cherrywood Challenge is Bob Ross….I’m not really feeling that one so I’ll work on a different art quilt next year to be able to put into shows someday!

Some other absolutely gorgeous quilts by Lorraine Turner, Tamar Ophir, Carson, Converse, Hsi-Chen Hsu, Roxanne Nelson, Kathy McNeil, Carl Hentsch, Karlyn Bue Lohrenz, and Michelle Bardwell.

See my finger pointing to the tiny octagons on that quilt!  I can’t imagine hand sewing all of those…this was an antique quilt too!

Here are the fun freebies I got while there! Big thanks to the vendors that provided these wonderful goodies, Fons and Porter items, Quilter’s Select items, etc. Decorating Diva gave us each a beautiful wool ironing mat!

Here’s what I purchased below!  Can’t wait to start playing after the mad holiday rush to finish 20 quilts and 7 pillows!  The Tula Pink fabric will turn into a duffle bag and the beautiful autumn fabric will become an autumn quilt. Autumn Love design by Lori Holt.

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IMG_7757After spending a week with my roommate, Lori, she has encouraged me to be more consistent with my blog!  I had a lot of fun meeting some of her followers to her blog Humble Quilts!  My goal is to write weekly and talk about some of the quilts I am working on…I always get a memory quilt from a client that has a beautiful story to go along with it. Sometimes they are super sad!  I’ve got one I am working on now about a young lady who passed away in her twenties!  It’ll be filled with great memories of her short life.  Hope you all have a great week!

Stay busy as a bee with your quilting!

Sue Bee!

I Have Clear Skin, Hair, and Can Sweat Again-DUPIXENT IS AWESOME!

For my quilting followers, sorry this isn’t quilting, but I had to share this information somehow!  Hopefully you can pass it along to a friend who deals with this!

Imagine waking up every hour itching and feeling like your are on fire. That used to be my nights pretty regularly.

My mom said I suffered from eczema as a baby and child.   As I got older, I had lots of allergies especially hay fever.  I don’t remember having a lot of trouble with my eczema as a teenager but after I was married in my mid 20s, I started having flare-ups.  I used topical medications to help but if it got bad, I’d do a round of steroids and I’d be like new.  I ended up just learning to live with it and didn’t think anything of it.  I never could figure out what my triggers were.

I really didn’t have too many problems in my child-bearing years but in my mid 40s it started back up and was getting worse so I was allergy tested.  I’m allergic to dust and dogs.  I had an older Labrador Retriever but I couldn’t give her away and how do you avoid dust?  Well after our dog died, my allergies didn’t get better.  In my late 40s, I was miserable…I’d get out of the shower BEET RED and had lost my hair!  It was awful.  I finally got patch tested and it turns out I am allergic to methylchloroisothiazolinone, quaterium-15, formaldehyde, and mercapto mix.

So eliminating all the products that contained methylchoroisothiazolinone and all of those bad chemicals/preservatives helped my redness go away!  I now pay attention to ingredients in all beauty products and go natural. By going natural that helped but the red, splotchy, itchy skin still plagued me especially when I’d get warm.  I’d itch at night if I got the slightest bit warm and would wake up feeling like I’ve been sunburnt.  There were days I couldn’t go to work because of the severity of pain and redness.  It hurt to wear clothing especially undergarments.  I bought a ChiliPad to keep the bed cool at night and that helped but not completely.  That was $400 and worth it….helped with menopausal night sweats too!

On top of all of of my skin problems, I was diagnosed with alopecia areata seven years ago and have lost my hair three times.  I wore hats at first but as the hair really started falling out I’d resort to wigs.  The most frustrating thing about alopecia is that it is a health condition and wigs were not covered under insurance for alopecia….you have to have cancer in order to get a wig reimbursed.  Seems crazy, huh?  I believe that NAAF and our government is working on that now!

Normally my hair starts to grow back within 9 months but this past bout seemed to take twice as long.

In October 2017, I heard about a new drug for eczema called Dupixent/Dupilumab, so I did my reserach and then talked to my dermatologist and decided it to give it a try.  I am her first patient to be on this drug.  The drug came out March 2017.

I’ve been through every other treatment known to mankind…from steroids to topicals and the ONLY thing that worked were the steroids.  I’ve eliminated gluten from my diet and cut way back on dairy products and even started eating a paleo meal plan. My eczema was still head to toe…body completely red and painful and so very itchy.

 

When the eczema affected my face it was awful!  It seemed to be pretty chronic and rarely went away.

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The photos below with my hair were taken in January before my injections began.

On January 17, 2018, I gave my first two injections of Dupixent.  A nurse came to my house to educate me on how to do it and it was so easy.  Needles don’t bother me anymore after having so much bloodwork done and allergy shots.

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On January 31, 2018 I gave my next injection.  I was told I wouldn’t feel much but honestly, my skin feels softer and itching had been reduced.  I was super excited at the progress already!  These injections happen every two weeks.

February came and went and no side effects and still improving and so is my sleep!

March 11-I had a slight flareup (nothing like I’ve had before though) and ended up with pink eye.  I treated the pink eye with Pink Eye Relief drops which worked very well!  Itchy eyes which could lead to pink eye and cold sores were some “side effects from this drug.  But so far, I’ve only had pink eye once and a cold sore once.  I take L-Lysine to help with the cold sores.

April 14 – had a big bowl of dairy ice cream and noticed a little breakout on my face and neck.  (testing dairy)

May 2 – Used Cetaphil the night before and woke up with hives on my torso and my inner elbows.  I usually use Cerave but was almost out so I tried Cetaphil.  I’ve been able to use it in the past but because of my sensitivity I decided to stick with what works…Cerave!

Despite these small flare-ups, my skin has been soft as can be, not red, splotchy, and itchy and the best thing is that I am sleeping at night without medication!  AMEN!  God is good! Thank you for this miracle drug!

May 3-I get a call from my dermatologist telling me that I’ve been denied and wants to rescore my progress.  I’ll have had two more injections and she expects to see complete improvement.  Talk about a blow!

Now it’s May 5 and I just got a letter from BCBS that my next pre-authorization of this miracle drug has been denied in writing.   Living with this type of atopic dermatitis has been so miserable! I don’t want to be without this medication.  I’m thankful I’ve been documenting this process to publish on my blog!

Dupixent has been a miracle for me!  I wake up refreshed in the morning, Wearing any type of clothing is easy for me now.  I’ve had SO many people compliment my clear skin.  I always had a chronic red, splotchy face except for when I was on prednisone.  It is now so nice to get out of the shower and my skin to not hurt.  I’d have to go days without showering sometimes because it hurt so badly.

So here’s this week’s pics of my clear skin! I can wear shorts again and not be embarrasssed by the red splotchiness.

AND BEST OF ALL….my hair, eyebrows and eyelashes are back and fully this time!  Not sure if this medication has helped it but I did hear there is a clinical trial of this drug on alopecia patients so it wouldn’t surprise me!

It’s May 22 and GUESS WHAT!  Insurance has approved me for another year!  AMEN!  It’s a NEW ME and I feel great!  Oh and by the way, going off dairy has eliminated any minor flare-ups.  Since my daughter is vegan, I tried her cheese and it’s delicious!  Also there are some great yogurts and ice cream made from coconut milk and almond milk too so I don’t feel like I’ll miss dairy!  I am also back at the gym and can sweat like crazy without any burning or stinging!

If you are reading this and have excema, talk to your dermatologist!   The Dupixent My Way Program is awesome too!  I have a registered nurse assigned to me that calls me to remind me of my injections, answers any questions, etc. too!  They have a co-pay assistance program and I pay $0.  Normally it would be about $80 per month which is SO worth it with my insurance.  This drug is crazy expensive too! BUT there’s hope and healing!

 

Weekend Retreat Projects

During my stitcher’s group quilting weekend at Grand Oak Retreat, I had great intentions of doing several projects but only was able to do two.  When I was in Utah back in June, I found the Riley Blake Juxtaposey fabric and fell in love with it!

This was the display at Pine Needles in Utah!

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I purchased five fat quarters at Pine Needles and ended up buying more on fabric.com.

I spent some time looking for a pattern that would really show off the prints on the fabrics.  This is the one I ended up using was called Mix It Up in the McCalls Quilting magazine.

I spent most of Friday cutting out the fabric.IMG_2934

Saturday was spent figuring out the layout and then sewing it all together!IMG_2945

This is not the final product.  By the time I got home and laid it out on my king bed, I realized I needed to add two more rows and then the borders.  IMG_2947

I can’t wait to finish this project!

I pieced this quilt at the retreat too.  It’s a Quilty Box project that I attempted to hand applique.   I wasn’t fond of the applique pattern that was provided so I created my own.

IMG_3002.JPGJust got my long arm back from getting serviced and I’m ready to quilt like crazy this week!

Losing a Loved One

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This year my grandmother (mom’s mom) passed away at age 92. She lived a full life raising three children, my mom, my Aunt Linda and my Uncle Carl. I always loved visiting her when I was younger especially since there always seem to be kids around. My Uncle Carl is a little less than two years older than me and I had lots of cousins. YES you read that right, my mom and her mom pushed strollers together! 

I never knew my grandfather since I was only 2 when he passed.  Later in my grandma’s life, she dated my dad’s uncle but they never married. As a kid I never appreciated “old” people and the stories they shared.  As I became an adult and a mother raising my own two girls, I became more and more interested in our family history especially since I started scrapbooking and doing geneaology.

Scrapbooking and quilting seem to go hand-in-hand when it comes to preserving memories.  As I worked on this quilt on the leftimg_0015, thoughts went through my head about what the woman was like who wore timg_0016he clothing, how many kids did she have, how did she impact their lives, and how did she interact with her grandchildren.  I just loved the Grandma sweatshirt on the back.
I make every client’s quilt from beginning to end but the most important part is the prayers I pray over each quilt for the person receiving the quilt.

Recently when my sister and my parents were going through items to sell at a yard sale, I was given the crocheted quilt and an old quilt in the above photos.  They came from my Uncle Earl on my dad’s side.  I love old quilts and think about who snuggled under them, what kids played “tent” with them, etc.

I am about to embark on one of the hardest quilts I’ve made to date.  My friend Kate asked me to make a quilt from her husband’s Tommy Bahama shirts.  Her husband, who was also a dear friend of mine died in a jet crash while doing what he loved the most…flying and teaching others military members how to fly. She’s a quilter and has entrusted me to this project. I am super honored, but also very saddened that those shirts will never be worn by him again.  I do know that Kate and her daughter Grace will treasure this quilt for the rest of their lives and be covered by the love of a husband and a dad.

Memories are so important in preserving. Clothing of a lost loved one invokes lots of feelings. Why not save clothing of a loved one and make a gift that will always be pricesless to your family!  Send me an email or a message so we can plan your next project.  suebartlow@me.com | 256-617-3167

Visit my website for other ideas.