Why I traded Candy Crushing for Embroidery

One of my first embroidery projects for a friend to use in her nursery
One of my first embroidery projects for a friend to use in her nursery

We all do it. We have some way of allowing ourselves to morph into zombies most evenings after long days of running, working, cooking, cleaning, and/or tending to the needs and demands of our families and friends. Sometimes I sit in front of Netflix for an hour or two. Other times I jump on Facebook to sift through the statuses and seemingly super exciting lives of others while reposting all the great and influential quotes I deem as noteworthy (regardless of redundancy) . Over the past year I have picked up another habit to keep my body producing melatonin far longer than necessary and causing me to rub my eyes and yawn in regret the next morning: Candy Crush.

You see my husband has been a third shift truck driver this past year and I have been a stay at home wife for nearly that long. While we do not have children yet I still manage to jam pack nearly every day with work and activity. I stay busy with gardening, yard work, flowers and landscaping, canning, sewing, cooking, research, and lately knitting hats for charity. Being an amputee causes the most basic task to take twice as much time so by the end of the day I find myself mentally and physically exhausted while yearning for the end-zone of monotony and boredom. I attribute this vulnerable state to being the reason why I so eagerly fell into the seducing arms of Candy Crush and a few other great online games.

At first the games seemed to be just what I was looking for: Sleek and attractive activity at the end of the day to fill time but still containing just the right dose of excitement and mindless stratagem to appease my restless soul.

As time went on I noticed I was spending more time zoning out in games or Facebook and less time I connecting with my husband during his break time via phone. I noticed that he would ask frequently, “Are you busy? Your mind seems somewhere else…” as I irritatingly insisted I was listening and only trying to beat a level in a game. Tired and cranky the next morning I would feel a little empty and even describe my time at the end of the day as “missing something”. I rationalized that everyone zones out and kills time before bed which clouded my thinking and prevented me from identifying the source of the hole in my life.

“She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.” Psalm 31:27

So I began to pray…I began to ask God why I felt empty at different times and why I felt so disconnected from reality. I asked God why when I read about others’ lives on Facebook I felt like I was lacking something in my own. I asked why I seemed to not want to play games yet was irrationally drawn to them even though I do not have an addictive personality. Most daringly I asked God to remove and redirect me away from anything that was causing me to not live in the moment and honor Him every minute of every day. I want to be a Proverbs 31 woman as I continue to grow and be the wife I was created to be.

(Please note that I am not in any way attempting to speak out against online games, Facebook, or television but am merely sharing my opinion and personal experience. I fully and readily confess there have been times when I was knitting and watching Netflix while my husband read Facebook updates to me from across the room! Just “keepin’ it real”!)

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Hats made for Veterans

Within a week of praying about this I received a gift from a dear friend of mine. She had embroidered and made a pillow for me. As I looked over her intense labor consisting of thousands of stitches forming beautiful flowers and displaying gorgeous color pallets a spark was lit in my heart. It didn’t come down like a lightning bolt from heaven and at this point I didn’t even have a clue that it was God speaking to me. Yet there it was… a message impressed on my heart that I couldn’t shake. Within a few days I marched to the front door of my friend with a project and newly purchased thread in my hand to sit down for my first lesson in embroidering.

“She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes.” Proverbs 31:24

Over the next week I started to see the creativity in me develop. As I sat I would think about how I was embracing an art form that hundreds of generations before me have used to gift and bless those around them. From evenings by medieval firelight and colonial candles all the way to the electric lamp in my living room women have been embroidering for centuries. I began to feel I was a part of something bigger than myself and making even the slightest difference. Seeing my progress each evening helped me to look forward to tomorrow and whatever adventure it may hold.

“And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.” Mark 4:39

Now more than ever I am convinced that the creative process allows for expression and processing within our minds. I believe processing allows for a space and creates capacity for us to review our day past and mentally prepare for our day to come. It also allows for healing to flow as we reconcile the things we have said and done that day and align ourselves with God’s will for our lives. Whether the project is embroidery, a puzzle, knitting, sewing, woodworking, or journaling I believe we are building the bridge between one day and the next as our mind and body works together to express itself through something tangible.

One of my more recent projects
One of my more recent projects

I have not felt that empty feeling in over a month at this point. On the contrary I have felt more connected to my surroundings than ever before. I watch my progress in knitting or embroidering and I can see the story of each day being told in the colors and stitches I choose. The conversations that come from my work brings me closer to those around me and I am present rather than distractedly consumed when speaking to my husband at night. As a bonus needlework does not cause melatonin to release and keep me awake beyond that of a healthy schedule.

“Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.” Proverbs 31: 31

Lifestyle changes conquered in bits

So while I surely do miss imagining myself with a hammer and fighting to achieve level 315 of Candy Crushing I can honestly say my quality of life has immensely improved through embroidering. Is there a creative process you can embrace today?

There is an update on my journey mentioned above published here.

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