To whom do we turn in times of stress? Our friends? Family? While caregiver Gail Howard Gibson dealt with her mother’s health crises, she turned to God. Her faith and the creation of a work of art based on Bible verses from the Old Testament, helped her cope with a cross-country move and all that goes along with setting into a new community.
Gail’s book, God’s Gift Within: The Story of the Joshua Quilt, is an inspirational story about her journey as a wife, mother, quilter, caregiver, and Bible study leader. Apart from being one woman’s experience dealing with the curves life threw her way, the book is a timely reminder of the deep cultural and familial roots of needlework.
Creating The Joshua Quilt
Gail’s 92-page book takes us on the journey of an ordinary woman who dealt with the kinds of life events that confront many of us in the “sandwich generation”: a father with Alzheimer’s, a disabled older brother, and a mother whose declining health required Gail to step in as her caregiver. The quilt project that resulted in The Joshua Quilt began as Gail’s response to the Presbyterian Women’s Bible Study for the year 2009-2010. According to Gail, the study was called “Joshua: A Journey of Faith.”
“At the time, my mother was in her 90s. I was anticipating a move, and I really just had my hands full.”
She began by reading the Book of Joshua. “In that first chapter, it starts talking about, ‘Do not be discouraged. Do not be afraid.’ That really struck a personal chord with me because of all the things that were going on in my own life.”
In her book, Gail shows how Bible verses led her to choose particular fabrics. She even sought guidance from the study’s theologian, living in Lebanon.
Both the creation of the quilt and the Bible verses led Gail to this conclusion: “Me being able to sew and to design and to create, these gifts were in my life all along. It was just a matter of opening them and using them.”
The book’s messages about faith, resiliency, and creativity are timely. Research on long-term caregiving has shown that faith can give caregivers greater equanimity. Download a copy of one study here. In another study, three researchers say that “Hope is a psychosocial resource that is essential for the psychological, spiritual, and physical well-being of family members caring for persons with dementia.”
Gail Howard Gibson was an in-home caregiver for her mother for fourteen years. In addition to quilting, she enjoys photography and travel.