A talisman on my pillow tonight

Oct 23

Tonight when I got home late, I found a scarf neatly folded into a bundle on my bed with a note in Maren’s handwriting.  “This is mom’s scarf.  It’s been in my bed.”

My heart swooned which is just what the heart does whenever one is lucky enough to find a note on her pillow.  Right?

Also, note to self: leave more notes on pillows.

At one of the recent events, a company — I think it was Ford — gave away scarves that were really beautiful and the caught the eyes of my daughters and I.  Free stuff is awesome, but this one is really a lovely gift.  It’s a wearable, not overly logo-ed, beautiful pattern and we came home with three.  One for Jen, one for Maren, and one for Greta.

Maren was immediately enamored with hers.  She’s one to attach meaning and weight to items, and she carried her contribution to the breast cancer cause with her as she wore her scarf.  It’s not about the stuff, it’s about the heart behind it.

I too attach meanings to objects and am very sentimental.

A few nights later, we had ourselves a little cry.  She and I have tears together now and again over our family’s cancer burden.  I can’t remove it for her, but I can share it with her.  After our cry, she came walking into my bathroom as I was washing the tears away.  “Here Mom,” she said as she held out my scarf out to me.  “Will you wear your scarf tonight while I wear mine?”

I grinned at her, knowing that she, too, had washed her tears away, set her emotions aside, and was moving forward.  In her astoundingly brave 8-year-old resoluteness, she reached for a talisman of comfort, and was offering me the same.

Maren and I are so alike.  We tether ourselves to what makes us feel brave: to God, to each other, and to treasures of love.

I took the scarf from her with a flourish and did a pose into the mirror.  “Great idea kiddo.”  I know I needed a laugh and I figured she did too.  Our mirrored images, our pink tear-stained faces grinned at each other in the reflection as if to say: This.  This moment is doing today well.

“But my darling,” I continued with another flourish that set her giggling, “How should we wear our scarves tonight?”  I draped it over my neck, and said, “Should we be boring and wear them around our neck?”

“No,” she giggled, “Not like that.”

“Well how about we wear them over our eyes like a blindfold.”

“No Mom!” in her tween voice.  “That’s ridiculous.”

I giggled.  She giggled.  We made silly poses and postured in the mirror and finally agreed to tie the scarves in our hair.  I sent her off to bed with a smile on her face, a bounce in her step, and a scarf in her hair.

And then I sank down to my knees and cried anew at the utter joy it is to be this child’s mother.

Oh, my Lord.  She is so awesome.

I’m interested to know what talismans you carry.  What objects of weight do you treasure and why?  I’m a gift-giver and gift-lover and can create a story that adds meaning to almost anything I encounter.  Does everyone do this?  What is your most valuable possession?

Tonight I am feeling my free scarf is priceless as I tie it in my hair to match my sleeping daughter.

I pray that the tethers and the relationships she attaches to will give her the strength and beauty I have found in God.


  1. Beautiful BEAUTIFUL READ as I can’t sleep. Just adore you and that dear sweet, Maren?

  2. Lisa Smith /

    I love this Jen. In our ‘tiny house’ situation, we often have to purge that which is tucked away in storage for the sake of Doing Tiny House Living Well. However, we do have a few things we have inherited from Jason’s mom, whom we lost 2.5 years ago, and I think of her often. I have been putting her lace into my ceramics. She had collected an entire room’s worth of fabric. By this I mean, there was a narrow walkway to the sewing machines and the rest of the room was fabric. Not joking. After she passed, the quilting guild actioned her fabric collection to the tune $6000 and made it into a scholarship at the college where she worked. In her collection, she had some lace that I had also used on my wedding dress. We both bought the lace at separate times, not knowing the other one had purchased it at a small locally owned fabric shop in Colorado. I’ve been using other pieces of lace as well and I have been enjoying using them in my ceramic work. Here is the wedding lace, https://www.etsy.com/listing/251795852/gayleen-tea-cup?ref=shop_home_feat_2
    Thank you for being such a shining example of the joy of motherhood and for letting us all in on your journey. I think of you every single day and especially when I start complaining internally about ‘the small stuff’. I’m so very grateful for you and the impact you have had on my life. Love you Jen. xo

    • I love this story Lisa… thanks for sharing. I a happy you are art-ing out loud again! Note to self: check out your shop!

  3. I lost my mother-in-law this past year and for the last 25 years of her life, she quilted. We all have quilts from her (she always told us store bought quilts are worthless). Her final quilt was for my special needs son; although she didn’t complete it (her daughter did), every single night my son snuggles underneath the quilt made with a loving hand and heart. Whenever I walk past the bedding section at any store, I always see comforter sets that I love, but somehow, I can’t bear to part with the handmade quilts I have for our bed. They were made for us with so much love and I fall asleep to that each and every night.

    • I love this legacy Kris, and how you’ve honored the time and love that went into the quilts. Beautiful!

  4. Carol K /

    Oh Jen
    A most precious story. What is it that is so miraculous about fabric? I have framed my grandmothers handiwork from Italy for gifts to my family and friends to hopefully be cherished go many generations to come. Ive also received beautiful paper tissue flowers from my granddaughter with special loving notecards attached. Aren’t we fortunate???
    Love your continued expression of life’s goodness, Jen. Wishing you thousands more!

  5. Mommaj /

    Hmmm, for me it’s the little notes that I would find from my daughter when she was young…. in a book, in a suitcase in obvious or unsuspecting places. They were thoughtful, loving and caring. Expressions of her heart. I still have ALL of them. I also have the little notes that her daughters have left for me…. Tradition? Love is passed on ?. Maybe these are the tangible answers to the secret prayers of my heart. Knitting also, my mom, Aunt Betty and mother-in-law all knit…. I knit (and quilt) as well. Praying grace and blessing into every stitch for the receiver. My heart is full… Thanking the Lord Jen for you and the gift you are!!

    • Stitches of love are definitely something I think of when I think of you and your work. Love it Bonnie–such a gift!

  6. My note I found from my youngest this week that read, “To: Mom I just wanted to now how your day was going from: Drew”. He thinks about me while he’s at school…precious boy!! I treasure these years, probably more intentionally because you have come into my life and shared your heart with me. I am forever grateful for you!! Thanks for sharing yourself, your time, your family with me.

  7. Susan from New Mexico /

    When I read this post my thoughts went to my own mother who passed away in 2005. When she was very sick in a nursing home for two weeks before she passed, there came a point that I had to remove her wedding ring because her fingers were swelling. I cried as I told her that I was taking off her ring and that I would keep it until her fingers weren’t puffy. I don’t even think that she really knew that I was doing this. Anyway, it was traumatic for me to remove this from her since she had been wearing it for more than fifty years. After she passed, I kept it but couldn’t get myself to wear it. Five years later, I took the ring with me to the nursing home to visit my father who spent the last weeks of his life in a nursing home as well. I showed him the ring and told him of my idea to have it enlarged so that I could wear it. I needed his permission. He said “The ring is pretty.” And he gave me permission to have it sized. So I dropped it off at the jewelry store that day. When the jeweler examined it, he said that it had several chipped diamonds (the ring is three rows of small diamonds set in platinum). He asked if I would like to have them replaced. I said no, that this ring was good enough just as it is for my mother to have worn it, with love, for over fifty years. I was not going to change a thing except to have it sized. I picked the ring up a few days later. My father never got to see it on my finger because he passed “suddenly but not unexpectedly” two days later. Today, as I write this, I am wearing my mother’s wedding ring. I don’t wear it every day, as I have my own, but I wear it when I especially feel the need to feel close to my mother and when I’m missing her more than usual.

    The other things that have such meaning to me are the crocheted afghans that my grandmother (mom’s mom) made that I still use. There is such comfort in warming up under something that was made with love. (Funny how you take out an afghan that has colors that don’t match anything in your decor but you love it so much because it connects you with your family).
    I started crocheting afghans years ago so that my stepsons could have an afghan (as I did from my grandmother) when they went to college. I had them pick out the yarn colors with me and I took it from there. Today I am crocheting baby blankets for their children.

    These are a few of the items that are precious to me. And precious because they connect me with my family.

    So, there you go. A long drawn out story.
    Thanks, Jen, for sharing your life with all of us out here. Blessings to you and your family!

    • I love this story of your talismans Susan! Thank you for sharing. The flawed diamonds are my favorite… I found myself imagining what chipped those diamonds… taking baby clothes out of the clothes dryer? Banging it as she dusted something? I love story-telling and imagining.

  8. Christin /

    I’m reading this at work and having to look at the ceiling every so often to keep the tears from falling out of my eyes. You are such a good mom, Jen, and I love seeing glimpses of your greatness. I have a couple items I treasure – baby clothes, Simon’s roughly drawn name, and pictures of precious moments. Thank you for reminding me of their value. I will keep my eye out for more treasures to have… and to give.

  9. I adore reading your posts, especially the ones where you talk about your love of mothering your precious little girls. Being a mother was my all time favorite “career”…one that just keeps on giving even though my children are adults now. I have many “treasures” from their childhood, but I must say my favorite talisman is a necklace I made from my father’s wedding band and my mother’s engagement ring. Daddy’s ring is now shaped like a heart and my mother’s diamond floats in the center of it. It’s a constant reminder of their love for one another, their love for me, and the love of their grandchildren…the circle of life will always continue. Keep writing these beautiful stories. This one, as many of yours do, made me teary-eyed. ♥p

  10. Your lovely posts put words to the affairs of the heart that most of us share. It is clear that your writings inspire your readers to take another look at the blessings in their lives. I know that I am reminded to be present and savor the small moments that make up my days. Thank you.

  11. Christy /

    Such a sweet, and yet powerful story. That little Maren is certainly beyond her years in wisdom. In a world full of distractions, your from-the-heart posts cut through the clutter and help us more clearly see the abundant blessings within each day. Many blessings to you, Jen.

  12. First of all, I love your blog. Thank you for continuing to write, inspire, and share your story with us.

    Now my side note… related to pillow notes… I’m a fifth grade teacher, and one of my favorite “activities” to share with parents at conferences is the idea of a Mom and Me or Dad and Me journal. It works like this… You and your child will occasionally write back and forth to each other in a notebook or journal. When the mood strikes, write! Place under your child’s pillow and encourage him/her to respond to you and do the same. It won’t be every day; that way it’s extra special when the notebook does appear. Each entry to each other MUST include at least one question. This encourages dialogue through writing, and allows the kid to have a safe place to ask questions he/she might be too embarrassed to ask face-to-face. Use the journal to remind your child how loved he/she is, and to answer his/her questions honestly and encourage him/her to seek answers from you.

    All I know is that as a child, I would have loved occasionally finding this special journal under my pillow to read, and I would have appreciated a non-judgmental way to ask my mom difficult questions in writing.

    I just thought that since you are so bonded with your girls, and since you are such a good writer, you might appreciate this idea!

    God bless you and your beautiful family, and thank you again for being so brave as to share your story with all of us.

    • Jess– believe it or not, Maren and I have a journal like this that we have been passing back and forth since November 2013. I love it, and it is a wonderful outlet for her.

      • That’s wonderful! I’m sure you both love it, and it’s something she will treasure always! 🙂