Chelle Summer


Quietly Answered Prayer

Michelle Rusk

I have experienced enough life to understand that prayer can often feel dry and empty. Particularly over the past five years as I have worked to grow spiritually, I've really begun to understand that there are times when prayer feels like...nothing.

And in my recent life– with certain aspects of it, especially professionally as I grow a new business and continue to write (as well as maintain a full-time job), it can be frustrating when I'm asking for help to move forward. Yet I feel like there I am, standing in one place, nothing happening. And I'm alone.

Still, I know I'm not alone, I know that God is always with me. I don't doubt any of it. But there are times when I wonder what's really going on because it feels as if nothing is going in the direction I want it to. Wait, I should clarify that– at the pace I want it to go. Nothing ever moves as quickly as I would like.

There I sat last week in my studio– the room I lovingly call my "sweat shop" although when the swamp cooler is on, it's one of the coolest rooms in the house– making one of my Our Lady of Guadalupe prayer dolls for our new priest's mother's birthday. 

As I sat there gluing on her hair, drawing her face, sewing her dress, and, finally, adding the snaps to her cape and her dress, I realized how lucky I am that my sewing adventures began with making Barbie clothes. That has helped me with Guadalupe's dresses. And as I have written recently, practice does make perfect. Or at least better!

And then my mind wandered– as it often does while I'm working– and in my head popped an answer to a prayer: the second half of manuscript that had felt seeming impossible for several months.

There it was, suddenly appearing in a moment where I least expected it.

Many times prayer is dry and empty. And then there are those quiet moments that the answers appear as if out of nowhere. But they aren't out of nowhere. They were just waiting for the right moment to appear. 

Some call it grace. I call it an answered prayer. 

Be Bold

Michelle Rusk

We were across the street the other night for dinner with some neighbors when we got on the discussion about what it means to be bold. And Tim– who lives across the street– asked me the last bold thing I have done. 

I looked to the middle of the dining room table and pointed at the dark chocolate-banana-peanut butter ice cream bombe that I had made and I said, "To some people, trying a new recipe is bold."

But before I could add anything, Tim kindly told me that he thought starting a new business as I have with Chelle Summer is a bold thing to do.

And that's when I added that I didn't think trying a new recipe was bold (I tried three last week- and mostly I do this because I get bored and like to see if I can find recipes I like more than ones I've used in the past). Bold is doing things on a much larger scale, but I realize that not everyone's life is like mine. I have chosen a life where I continue to put myself and what I create out there in the world.

As I write this on late Monday morning, earlier we announced the web site online store is open for business. 

I have been going back and forth in my head about whether or not I think this is a bold move. I will admit that I am a little, no, a lot, scared as I take this forward. I've "thrown" many things out there; some have done well, some haven't. And yet something has driven me to take on this new venture. I keep myself focused on creating the items, (as well as continuing with my writing). I try not to worry about what will sell and when it will sell.

Whether it be bold or not, I know I'm doing what I'm supposed to. The key for me is to remember it's all about continuing to create– whether I do that through writing or sewing or painting– and let the rest go. 

Looking back on the past fifteen years since the publication of my first book, the boldest move at all for me might be learning to let it go and fly on its own while I stay on the ground and keep creating.

Check out the new store here at


The Swimsuit

Michelle Rusk

The plan had been to start making swimsuits. I just thought I had bit more time to learn my new serger before I tackled my first one. However, my friend Veronica was leaving on vacation at the end of July (to the beaches of California, no less) and she needed a suit. I wasn’t going to say no to the opportunity to create something for my friend, especially because it was a chance for me to start making them.

But I didn’t really consider what a daunting challenge I had in front of me. What didn’t scare me was that I knew my mom had created one for my older sister Karen in the 1970s– one that lasted Karen quite a long time– and Mom had done it on the same Bernina sewing machine that I am using.

We bought a serger for me in Late May but with two trips in June, I haven’t had much of a chance to use it. I would need to make Veronica’s swimsuit on the Bernina with lots of zig zag stitches.

Taking her measurements, the pattern, the notions, and the fabric she picked in hand, I realized what a daunting task I had in front of me. I couldn’t do it alone.

Often in the past I have written about my struggle to be the competitive runner I was supposed to be. I often joke that in high school God and I broke up- an unanswered prayer in eighth grade regarding my dad’s job situation left me not believing in God. I thought I had to do everything on my own.

But several weeks ago as I watched the Olympic trials, particularly track and field, many of the runners talked about how much God helped them.

If I was going to make a swimsuit, not only would I need to channel my mom but I’d need God’s help, too.

Sewing knits– which tend to slide all over the place– is tricky. Getting the needle and thread to behave on the knits can be perilous, too. I allowed myself hours at a time. Just in case. And prayed a lot, often shaking as I sat down, unsure how I could truly make Veronica’s measurements match a pattern that was confusing (my friend Bonnie often called pattern instructions “destructions” because of the chaos they cause). It also made me realize why women hate buying swimsuits. No one’s measurements are the same. How can we be standardized when our bodies are so unique? And I know this from trying on all the clothes that I do– how much doesn’t fit right because of my short frame.

With the seams sewn together but nothing else, Veronica came by and was happy with the fit. It looked great but I was mostly concerned that it felt good. I didn’t want to create something she would never wear.

And when the suit was finished, truly looking like a swimsuit, I felt like I’d survived a final exam and needed a nap. When she put it on, not only was it a perfect fit, but she was happy and comfortable. Excited is a better word.

It wasn’t beginners luck as I attribute some of my successful to the binkini bottom I made in January that taught me some elastic lessons, but rather it was taking the time and letting go, asking for help in a way it took me a long time to comprehend.