Sewing has helped me face failures and crossroads in life, as well as in many different ways, throughout my adult years; and some things that might’ve been considered “failures” by some people, I look at as a crossroad, and a blessing.
I became a wife and mother at a young age. However, God had a plan and used my situation for good. God is like that, you know?
My husband and I rented a small, one bedroom house at the end of a gravel road that was about a quarter of a mile long. The house was in the middle of a field, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. And, I was a happy little “Susie Homemaker” as I went about taking care of my new home and all the tasks that came with it.
After having grown up on a diary farm, I was now off the farm and was basically on my own – somewhat – and with a baby due in the middle of summer. And, boy, what a hot summer it was – especially so because we had no air conditioning in our little box-of-a-house. There weren’t any trees close by to shade it, either!
What? Three Girls?!
My precious little red-headed boy was born in mid-July. Over the next 11 years God blessed me with three more children – all girls. I had always said I wanted three sons, but instead I got three girls! You know, God does have a sense of humor, doesn’t He?
Being the mother of three girls was mostly great pleasure, though. We had lots of good times together through all the ups and downs of the toddler years, the pre-teen years and even the teen years. My son was a joy, as well, and of course, there were ups and downs with him, especially during his teen years.
All of my children were involved in sports. They wanted to play every sport available at the time. So, I sat them down for a family meeting one day and told them they could play anything they wanted, but they could only choose two sports each. Their dad and I couldn’t drive them to more games and practices than that, or we’d be on the road constantly. We just about were anyway! (After sitting on bleachers for hours and hours, I invented a new syndrome called “Bleacher Back!”)
During this time in my life, I had developed a sincere passion for sewing. My mother had taught me to sew a pair of shorts as a youngster and I had one semester of sewing in junior high school. I continued self-educating as each baby came along so that I could sew many different types of garments, as well as some home decorating projects. Money was extremely tight in those days, so my sewing was a tremendous blessing to the family budget.
My mother was so supportive of me learning to sew. She paid for me to take a 6-week course in sewing on knits from Stretch and Sew. Also, my mother-in-law helped me a great deal, even over the phone.
I was a SAHM long before I knew what that meant!
I had been very content to be a stay-at-home mom (SAHM). But, once my kids were all in school, I realized I wanted to get a college degree to become a school-teacher, even though I absolutely hated high school! Four of my cousins and both of my Dad’s parents were school teachers, so it must have been in my blood, right? And, I seemed to have an insatiable desire to teach in some capacity.
I had taken a dual track of studies during high school: a business track and a college-prep track. I learned how to type and take shorthand and was even the secretary of the Future Teachers of America chapter at our school. My college-prep classes included chemistry, biology, algebra and French.
I was rather well-prepared to go in any direction I chose, business or teaching, with that background. But, since I didn’t have a very good experience in the sewing portion of my 7th grade Home Economics class, I wasn’t interested in sewing at that stage of my life.
In order to pay for tuition and textbooks to get a teaching degree, the next crossroad was the necessity for me to go to work. So, I got a clerical job in the local high school, which enabled me to be at home with my kids when they were out of school. My son was a Junior at that school, and he was rather startled when I announced where I’d be working come Monday morning!
About four years after going to work, I started community college classes, spending another four years driving from my job to the college campus three to four nights a week. I diligently completed my homework assignments, studied for quizzes and finals, and accumulated 38 hours with a 3.68 GPA.
THEN, I found out that my choice of major, teaching Home Economics which included sewing, was about to be eliminated from the public schools! So, I decided to switch to a business major.
But, even my second choice of being a business teacher was going to be eliminated in the near future! Talk about being discouraged! What now?
Crossroad? Roadblock? Blessing? How did that “failure” make me feel? Well, I decided to make “lemonade out of lemons,” so to speak.
I came to realize that my passion for sewing and my desire to teach could be combined into a new goal. Again, sewing helped me face a “failure.”
I could teach sewing!
So, I started looking for ways to get some formal training in sewing and becoming certified to teach others how to sew.
After checking with the local university, the state university, and the two private colleges in town, I hit another crossroad: none of them offered textile/sewing degrees anymore!
What did I do then? I contacted the local Cooperative Extension office and found out there was a newly-formed program to train volunteer sewing teachers. Well, of course I applied and happily, was accepted to start a two-year training to become a sewing teacher in my community.
Later, I contacted a sewing school who had been sending me mailers for years. The school, based in Portland, Oregon, held sewing retreats and also had a track for those who wanted to become certified sewing teachers, teaching their methods and curriculum.
Wow! I had finally found what I was looking for after all those years!
I signed up for the retreat, called a “Sewing Vacation,” and off I went to Portland. I got a sewing teacher certification to teach the Beginning Sewing curriculum, and three years later, I went back for a second certification to teach Fitting.
God opened the doors for me to become a certified sewing instructor/teacher! And by walking through those doors, I’ve been able to acquire more certifications and licenses (9 total) to teach sewing, fulfilling my heart’s desire for over twenty years.
Even though what I experienced might have been considered failures, crossroads or roadblocks, there were seven important and valuable lessons learned that were blessings.
1. When life takes a turn that we aren’t expecting, sometimes we fall apart, but sometimes we pick up the pieces from the mess and we’re able to turn it into a positive. God doesn’t give us more than we can handle, even though it seems we can’t handle some things while we’re in the middle of the mess.
And, I’ve come to be a firm believer in what the Bible says in Romans 8:28, “…all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” ESV
2. Life experiences and difficulties come and they go, but they always leave us with a deeper understanding of who we are.
We can respond with lots of questions and end up with discouragement, disappointment, depression and a whole lot of negativity, or we can respond to it as a step along the way to maturity.
3. Maturity is the result of our training, and our training is a blessing from God, as He molds us and transforms us into a more spiritually mature, faithful and loving person who responds in a way that honors and glorifies Him.
4. Learning to sew and refining my sewing skills over the years, brought me through many crossroads, or “failures.” Sewing has given me a greater sense of purpose and satisfaction.
Sewing has given me a life-skill that I wouldn’t have otherwise. It has given me a sense of calm in some of my storms, and it has given me a way to give – to give of my God-given talents and gifts, to make items of need for some and to teach a life-skill to others.
5. Sewing has taught me how to be a better manager of my budget and of my time.
6. Sewing has taught me how to be more patient and grace-filled with what life throws at me, and not to give up on the dream!
7. Sewing has taught me to be a better problem-solver. Who doesn’t need to be better at solving problems and issues that come along – even those pesky math problems?
A side NOTE: Amazingly, my math skills increased tremendously as I learned more and more about sewing over the years. I never would have dreamed that would happen!
Sewing Brings a Lot of Satisfaction
Sewing has brought me a lot of satisfaction and joy over the years in so many different ways. And also, I’ve met a tremendous number of like-minded friends with whom I’ve developed friendships and camaraderie that’ll last a lifetime.
My crossroads led me to a world that I never would have had the privilege and blessing to experience and to enjoy. Who would’ve ever thought sewing, and being a sewing teacher, could do so much for a person?
Be Blessed, Be Creative, And Let’s Sew!
Sandy Davis, Certified Sewing Instructor – Your Sewing Coach