Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Memories past and present

My dress was similiar to this 
Most people know that I flit from one craft to another. I'm kind of ADHD when it comes to crafting and get bored easily if I focus on one thing too long, so I welcomed the chance to sew again. I'd last used my machine when Covid first started, and everyone was needing face masks. After making about 200 of them, I grew tired of it and put my machine away. Inside the case, I knew it wouldn't collect dust, no matter how long it was there. 

So when it came time to make a special gift for a dear friend, I pulled out the machine, set it up, got everything ready and began working diligently. I would be presenting the gift on Saturday, so time was of the essence. 

Flipping on the sewing machine light, I slipped the pinned fabric beneath the presser foot and lowered it. As I depressed the foot pedal, the machine began to run, and it wasn't long before I was enjoying listening to the constant humming of the machine. As I worked, my mind began to wander, and I was transported to my childhood where that familiar rhythm was a constant in our home. 

Sewing was one of my mother's favorite things to do. She had a tiny sewing room in the upstairs of our house. It couldn't have been more than 6 feet wide by 9 feet long, but she didn't mind. It was her space, a place where she would retreat when my brother, sister, and I were being a little rowdy. 

I don't remember when she first started sewing, but her old Singer sewing machine seemed like it was constantly going. Before we began attending school, Mama was making our clothing. I remember visiting a nearby fabric mill not too far from our home with her on many occasions, the dye from the fabric burning my eyes as we entered the shop. Mama could spend hours in there, searching the pattern books, picking out buttons or thread, and having fabric measured and cut. Being there was interesting to me and is probably where I began my love of crafting many, many years ago. I loved feeling the different textures of the fabrics- corduroys, velvets, and linens. I loved seeing the beautiful prints of cotton, playing with the metal zippers, and digging my hands into large bins of multicolored buttons. We visited so often, the cashier and Mama became friends, calling each other by name. Usually, when Mama was having her fabric cut, I'd sit at a table perusing the pattern books. I quickly learned how to find a pattern number on the page and find the corresponding pattern envelope from the filing cabinets based on the maker's brand. Butterick, McCall's, Vogue, and Simplicity were the most popular back then. After Mama had paid for her purchase, we'd leave the store and head to the car. I still remember the sound of the brown paper bag crinkling as Mama tucked it under her arm and reached in her purse for her car keys. Many times, we had no idea what Mama was going to make, but we quickly learned that if she was making something for one of us, we'd better leave her alone and let her do her work when we got home. 

As we grew older and money became tighter, Mama took in sewing for others. There was one woman in particular who was fond of Mama's sewing skills and employed her regularly to make her wardrobe. Mama would work on her dresses when we were at school, but sometimes, she'd work on a specific request late into the evening in order to complete it by the customer's deadline. 

Throughout our growing up years, Mama made my sister and I dresses, shorts, pajamas, and other things. She was determined to dress us fashionably on a budget. 

One of my favorite memories was of a skating outfit I'd asked Mama to make for me. I was a preteen and all of my friends had cute little skating outfits with skirts that would flair and flutter as they spun around on the roller-skating rink. I knew we couldn't afford to buy one of those but asked Mama if she might make one for me. She told me if she could find a pattern, she'd be glad to do it so the next time we went to the fabric shop, guess who was the first to reach the pattern books?! Me! I was bound and determined to find a skating outfit and I did. When I showed Mama the pattern, she said she could make it and agreed to do it before my next skating party. 

Her sewing machine hummed all day and most of the night that Friday before my party. In fact, I fell asleep listening to the rhythmic humming of her machine. I had no idea what a sacrifice it was for her to do that for me and didn't understand it until I had a family of my own and began making their clothes. The eye strain she must have endured during the twilight hours and the nagging back pain as she stayed hunkered down in that hard, wooden chair at her sewing table were evidence of her love for me. 

On the morning of the party, she presented me with a beautiful lavender skating outfit complete with matching bloomers. I tried it on, and it fit perfectly. I knew I was going to look so pretty out there on the rink floor with all my girlfriends and I did. 

As I rounded the corner on the last section of my project, I watched the sewing machine needle move up and down quickly piercing the fabric. It was mesmerizing to see how delicately and swiftly the thread was locked into place. When I completed the project, I held it in my hands and felt the stitching. I wondered how many times my mother must have done the same thing as she finished one of our pieces of clothing. 

Love comes in many forms. Some ways are practical and found through acts of service like the ones my mother gave me. I'm so thankful she was resourceful while we were growing up. We were taught never to waste a thing. Her mother, my grandmother, taught Mama well and used to say, "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without." I'm sure that was a depression era sentiment, but I've remembered that since the day I first heard it. If there's ever a scrap of fabric in our home that can be reused, repurposed, or recycled, you can bet your bottom dollar it will be saved for a rainy day. 

Monday, December 6, 2021

Crucifying the flesh

 

Nailing it to the cross
I once had a Sunday school teacher who taught me a valuable lesson. As we sat in the classroom, a group of about 15 young women listened carefully as our teacher talked about how Jesus took all of our sins to the cross with Him. 

As a visual learner, I did my best to picture Him doing that, but it wasn't easy until Mrs. Woods pulled out a simple wooden cross and laid it on the floor in the middle of our circle. 

Slowly and carefully, she walked around the circle handing each one of us a slip of paper and a big metal nail. She instructed us to think about the sin we wanted to nail to the cross. After we'd thought about it, each of us began scribbling on our slip of paper. With tear filled eyes, we folded our slips in half and waited. Mrs. Woods began to read scripture from Galatians 5. As she reached verse 22, we listened to the various fruits of the Spirit- love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. The teacher explained those were virtues that we should all possess and those were ones that would help others see Christ in us. She continued reading and when she reached verse 24, we listened attentively, "Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires."

I don't remember everything she talked about that day, but I know she worked hard to help us understand that Jesus was and is our sin bearer and although He had already paid our sin debt and had taken all of our sins to the cross, we were probably still hanging on to some of them. She explained that wasn't healthy and it was time to let them go. 

Calling us up one by one, Mrs. Woods instructed each of us to take our burdensome sin and nail it to the cross. She handed the first girl a hammer and all of us watched as that girl pounded her nail into the cross. The sound of each hammer blow inflicted pain and sorrow on all of our hearts. One after another, each girl went forward and repeated the action of nailing a folded slip of paper to the cross. 

When each of us had taken our turn, Mrs. Woods instructed us to look at the cross. There on the floor it lay covered in nails and slips of paper. There was not a dry eye in the room as the reality of what Jesus had done for us was apparent. We'd only nailed one sin to the cross that day but I'm sure the other girls felt the same way I did. Though we were just teens, we'd already committed many sins in our young lives. Though they were "small" sins, jealousy, lying, stealing, etc. Those sins had pounded the horrid nails into our Savior's body. 

That object lesson helped us understand what it meant to crucify the flesh every single day. I'm so grateful to Mrs. Woods for taking time to teach us a valuable truth. 

I'm not sure but I believe Mr. Woods built the wooden cross for Mrs. Woods to bring to class. He was a very godly man and a skilled carpenter. I can just picture his smile as she asked him to help with the lesson. 

Some of the girls in class that day probably forgot the lesson a day or two after we'd participated in it but not me. I've remembered if for almost 50 years and I'm sure I'll remember it until the day I die. Daily I think about the need to crucify my "flesh woman." She rears her ugly head so often, I feel like I need to keep a pail of nails, a hammer, and a stack of notepaper handy. 

"Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires." Galatians 5:24. 

Our fleshly bodies are sinful and prone to fall into temptation. And that's why I keep a wooden cross nailed to my office wall with another verse of Scripture adhered to it - "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now life in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me." 

My prayer is that I will never forget to live cruciform daily. I pray you'll receive a blessing from this post and you'll find a need to nail your sins to the cross too, whether figuratively or literally, because Jesus has already taken them there for you but you need to remember your flesh needs to be crucified daily.

One thing leads to another

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