Saturday, August 20, 2011

Interview with Shannon, Creator of It's A Blessing Bracelets

In your post about tornado sirens, you mentioned you have only lived in Ohio for three years now. Where did you live prior to Ohio and what made your family move? I lived all of my life in New Jersey. My husband felt called to join a ministry that shares the gospel of Jesus through the sport of soccer (known as football in most countries). His employment in NJ did not want to lose him, and allowed him to work remotely, 1/2 days. This allowed him to serve in the ministry 1/2 days. After about 18 months of this successfully working, he was laid off from the job in NJ. We only had about 20% of financial support raised and so he had to look for employment to support our family. We were blessed with a job-however-Ohio’s pay scale is very different then where we lived and it required a full time position to match the part time salary we were living off of (which was already 1/2 of what we were living off of in NJ!). we in Ohio....but not able to serve in the ministry....not able to move back home to NJ...and waiting and wondering why God moved us out here! One of the reasons I started the etsy shop was to see if there was any way I could sell/make enough to help Marc get back into the ministry. This hasn’t happened yet, but I’m not giving up hope!

2. You have 7 children at this time in your home (you can correct this if I am wrong)...5 your own and 2 foster to adopt children. What are their ages and how many boys or girls? Seems like an easy question-but this is a tough one. Yes, my personal bio states 7 kids....true at the time-but it needs to be adjusted
Here is the rundown from youngest to oldest:
2 yr. old girl
5 year old boy
7 year old boy (soon to be our adopted son)
8 year old girl
11 year old girl
14 year old boy

3. You are a home school family, do you use a set curriculum, make up your own and how do you get all those children to sit down at once to do school work ? We are entering our 7th year of homeschooling. For the first 5 years I used My Father’s World Curriculum and loved it. Last year I tried to go a bit more “eclectic” and that was a bad idea. I thought that I would feel “less restrained” if I did not have her lesson plans with all the little boxes to check off when completed. Turns out-those boxes helped keep me accountable. The truth is last year was really tough. In some ways, I don’t know, but by the grace of God, how we got through it and I felt unable to tackle the same this fall. My husband tried to encourage me that this year would be better, but when he realized the toll that last year took, he agreed to allow our older children to attend a Christian school down the road. So..for the first time in 7 years, I will not be strictly a homeschooling Mom. Our adopted son, and my two oldest will attend school and I will home school the 3 youngest. My third grader will switch from My Father’s World to Bob Jones Distance Learning. Getting them all to sit down and do school well was part of my challenge with a VERY busy-needy toddler and a 4 year old foster son, who, to put it mildly was abusing me (verbally but also physically on a daily basis). I wish I could give an encouraging answer that would help other Moms think, “If she can do it. I can do it!” The truth is,. God calls us all to different things at different times.

4. What made you decided to home school? Have you always or did you have your children in public/private schools first?
Homeschooling was on my heart from before we ever had children. It was our plan and my desire. Then....along came baby #2. She through me for a loop! I got scared that I couldn’t do it and our oldest went to a Christian school for Kind. and first grade. Among other things, our daughter had some medical issues that we felt it was unsafe to give her certain vaccines. So, when it came time for her to start school-she couldn’t attend. The Dr. wouldn’t sign a medical exemption and we refused to sign a religious one (feeling that wasn’t the reason). So...God led us right back to homeschooling! As we felt there was no other option but to homeschool her, we pulled my son out and so our homeschool journey began!

5. You make those beautiful blessing blankets for parents that have lost a child (miscarried), what made you decide to start these wonderful blessings? I have a dear friend who was pregnant at the same time I was pregnant with my 4th. During my 9 months of pregnancy, she miscarried 3 times. I would go to her bedside and just cry and cry. I just hurt for her loss and knowing when my baby was born, it would be a reminder of when hers would have been due..and her having to see me pregnant through three miscarriages. It was so hard. The first time she miscarried, I wanted to do something. So, we bought them a pretty tree and she buried the baby and planted the tree there as a reminder.
Then, another close friend (of us both) had a miscarriage right after that first one I mentioned above. I was sitting in my living room crocheting a baby blanket when I got the phone call. I decided that I wanted to finish the blanket for her, as a reminder of this baby she just lost. As I sat there crying and praying for my friend, who was at that moment losing her baby, God filled my mind with the poem that comes with the blessing blanket. It was all right there in my head and I put down the blanket, ran to the computer and typed it all out through my tears. I finished the blanket that night-making it tiny to represent her tiny one. I snuck over to her house under the cover of darkness and left the gift without them ever knowing it was from me.
Back to my first friend...her second miscarriage came a few months later, and so “the blanket fairy” (as I soon became known) struck again and I gave one to her. I am sorry to say that many women in my church suffered miscarriages over the next 2 years and were blessed as they mourned reading the poem and cried while holding the blanket.
To finish the dear friend suffered her third miscarriage. A neighbor had showed me some bracelets she had made and I asked her to help me make one for my friend. On it was a bead to represent her living children and the 3 she lost. I didn’t know it then, but that was actually the start of the blessing bracelets!!! Praise God! This friend has been blessed with 3 babies since those miscarriages!!!!

6.) Do you live in town or in the country? Have any family pets (what and how many)? We live on the campus of a college-in a very country like town. We are surrounded by farms and beauty. Pets! Whew! Yes! We have, 1 cat, 2 snakes, 1 rabbit and 8 chickens!

7.) What is your best childhood memory? Most summers our family would vacation in Rhode Island with my maternal grandparents. All of my best memories come from those summers! The smell of pine trees, blackberries, the sound of chickadees singing, the crash of ocean waves, the feel of the breeze on your face when riding a bike...they all bring back a warm feeling of family love and fun in Rhode Island!

8) All of us as Christians seem to have a favorite Bible passage, which one is your favorite and why? Your right...most Christians do. Sometimes I wish I did, because it seems weird that I don’t. But, I don’t. Over the years, the Holy Spirit has brought many verses that are hidden in my heart to mind when I need them. For a while, that one will be very special. Then, it will change. A lot of the verses I make my bracelets around are verses that have a personal meaning for me. There is one bracelet called “Favorite Verses”....they were my favorites- at least at the time I created that one!

9.) You do such beautiful work, how do you make those bracelets without your children wanting to scatter those beautiful beads all over the house? HA! Who said they don’t!? The youngest has been known to grab a whole box of beads and “play” until they are everywhere! To avoid this as much as possible-I work almost always, only at night when they are all asleep.

10.) Favorite food? Just yesterday, my foster son asked me the same question. I guess I’m not a person of “favorites”. I just don’t have one favorite. But...I will admit I am very fond of chocolate and caramel lattes!

11.) I love the pics on your blog of you and your husband through the years. What is the one thing that made your realize, this man is going to be my husband? While we were dating, in England, he was so sincere and caring about what was best for me. In short..he reminded me of my grandfather (same one from Rhode Island). My grandfather was the most loving husband I have ever known and I was drawn to that similarity. However, Marc wasn’t a believer when we met. It wasn’t until I left England and received a call from him some time later that he had accepted Christ as his savior that my heart leaped and I felt, “YES! He is the one for me!”

12.) I love to quilt for relaxation. With homeschooling and having your own work from home business, what do you do for relaxation? Although the beading is’s not relaxing. Crocheting is my therapy! I crochet every day..sometimes sitting on the floor while my 2 year old pretends to crochet with me...sometimes at night listening to music or watching a movie with my husband..often in the car while he is driving. My hands like to stay busy-I like the feeling of finishing something pretty and useful, I often make things as gifts for loved ones, and my mind can rest while I’m at it!

13.) I love the 'hidden' message on your blog, do many people find it? No one has ever found it.Maybe some will be curious now..and find it for themselves. **This is a challenge for my readers to earn an extra entry!**

15.) Share with us something about yourself you want my readers to know! There was a time when I first moved to Ohio, that I jumped right in and tried my best to serve in many areas. I was excited for God to use me in any way he might and I tried to bless people here the way I had been blessed by the ladies ministry in NJ. Several ladies made comments about me being “super woman” and got the impression that I could do “anything” and that I must have it “so together”. Things were said like, “Ask Shannon to do it, she seems to be able to take on WAY more than the rest of us” I somehow gave a wrong impression and in general, my jumping right in that way, did not go so well-and these were people seeing me and getting to know me face to face. If they got the wrong impression and thought things about me that weren’t true-I sometimes worry that when reading my blog, strangers might as well. So..I try to be truthful. Sometimes to a fault and sometimes I say things people think but would rather not admit. I’m not a super Mom. I’m not amazing at managing my home and raising my children and running this business. I’m not doing a great job at always putting God first in my life. I’m not so great at raising the 5 I have and therefore can handle fostering. I struggle. Just like I believe we all do. And by sharing the truth-and my struggles-and how God helps me through them-I hope to encourage and bless others so they know God will always help them too! It is God that is so great - NOT ME!

Remember, you can leave your comment on either post about this giveaway! **If you purchace something from Shannon let me know, the cost of the item will get you that many extra entries! Item only, not shipping!


Pam said...

The bracelets are lovely.

DESPINA said...

Once I have a little more time, I will try to find your hidden message :))


SocialStudiesSoubrette said...

What a fantastic Sister in Christ you have found Jean! Thanks so much for sharing her with us <3

Anonymous said...

Wow, thats alot of patience needed for all those kids and the bracelets are amazing.

Wendy B said...

Wow Jean...Shannon is really inspirational isn't she??? WHat gorgeous bracelets....I'm going to have to buy some as gifts for my friends and family (and me!!!) may have to take her up on the free postage.....although I don't want her to go without!
thanks for the chance in your giveaway Jean
sugary hugs and blessings
XXX Wendy :O)

Kim-A Creative Spirit said...

WOW this is a GREAT giveaway Jean... thanks for this one.... :o) I would love to win that beautiful bracelet.....

Paula said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving your sweet comment. The bracelets are wonderful! I would love to have a chance to win :)

Joanna said...

Very inspirational and lovely interview. The story of how she began to make bracelets is very moving. Thank you for the giveaway.

yorkie mom said...

The bracelets are very inspirational and beautiful! Thanks for a chance to win one!

Melinda Cornish said...

Hey Jean, I love the bracelets...What a beautiful idea for someone who has lost a child....I will email you privately later.....Melinda

Mhairi said...

I love the idea of how these bracelets started. I had my son 6 weeks early and was given a tiny quilt. I was able to bring both safely home - son is healthy and quilt tucked away safely for later.
Thank you for supporting people in this way you truly are an amazing woman.

Janet said...

The bracelets are beautiful as is the story behind how they came to be. Thanks for the giveaway.