Created to Create & Stitchin’ with a Mission
Created to Create & Stitchin’ with a Mission
By: Maryann Gubala
God is an incredible artist. He made everything from the vibrant and breath-taking sunset to the tiniest little flower petal, from the innumerable stars in the sky to each pebble on the ground, from the largest whale to the smallest insect. He created our physical forms with numerous hairs on our head, intricately put together sinews and bones, brains that allow so much more than basic life functions, fingers that can feel, hold, and create, and organs that all work together to sustain life. He continues to create every day as he creates in our souls. He takes the broken pieces of our sin-sick hearts and souls and makes us new.
We are created in His image, and since He is a creator, it seems only fitting that we would have creative impulses as well. Creativity takes infinite forms such as painting, music, engineering, writing, teaching, and more. Our creative impulses are as diverse as the human race. The important thing is to use the talents, skills, and ideas that God gives us to create something that matters - something that expresses our feelings, something that helps other people, something that shows someone we care, something that glorifies our Creator. For some of us, including myself, it means stitchin’ with a mission.
I learned how to sew when I was in middle school. A few years later, my mormor (grandma) gave me her sewing machine and some fabric to get started. When she died, I inherited a ton of thread, buttons, fabric, and other supplies. While she didn't teach me to sew, she is the one who made sewing at home possible before I had any regular income of my own. She was also the kind of woman who always went out of her way to help people – a legacy that still inspires me today. Over time, I have grown to love making things for others, whether that means gifts for friends or items like Sew Powerful purses.
I stumbled across Sew Powerful sometime in 2015. I was a college student with limited time and money but had a desire to serve in whatever ways I could. I’m not even sure how I first discovered the project, but my guess is that it had something to do with Liberty Jane. I grew up with American Girl dolls and even as an adult, I once in a while scrolled through social media accounts like Liberty Jane’s, admiring the beautiful doll clothes. What I do know is that once I read about what Sew Powerful was doing, I immediately knew I had to be involved with the project.
Reading about the struggles these girls in Zambia have when they hit puberty pulled at my heart and gave me a wakeup call. As a college student, I sometimes complained about the classes or the stress. I realized how incredibly blessed I was to be able to be in college when many people, especially girls, cannot even finish high school or the equivalent. The plight of these girls also hit another chord in my heart. I remember when I was in middle school and hit puberty. I was so embarrassed by my period even though it was completely normal and natural. I was terrified of leaking through my pants and the embarrassment that would result. I simply cannot imagine being in those circumstances without the disposable products specifically engineered for menstruation that we have here in the United States today. Periods are annoying and painful enough without the high probability of leaking and the embarrassment that would follow. I also know that I would not have felt comfortable going to school at all if I had to miss school for one week every month. I do not want anyone to know when that time of the month hits even though it is a natural phenomenon. This project had reminded me of how incredibly fortunate I am that I can continue life as normal when my period hits. My heart breaks over the fact that not all girls are as fortunate.
As a busy college student a few years ago, and now as a fulltime non-profit professional, I love how flexible this project is. This project doesn’t require me to commit a full day or a certain time each week/month either. If I have time to sew, I sew. Sometimes a month or two goes by without making a single purse, other times I might make multiple ones in a week! I do it when I can and know that each purse I sew will make a difference in some girl’s life. As a lyric from Remedy Drive’s song “Polaris” so aptly states, “ripples turn to tidal waves.” It’s an honor to make purses alongside countless others around the world to help make a positive tidal wave in Zambia.
Sew Powerful has also given me another canvas to exercise my creative impulses freely, becoming a form of creative therapy. Sewing the same basic pattern over and over again can get a little boring, but it doesn’t have to be that way. I have started creating purses inspired by other things – people I’ve known, songs I’ve enjoyed, and thoughts I’ve had. Art truly does inspire art. One purse was inspired by my mormor, who gave me my sewing machine. Another was inspired by the lyrics of For King and Country’s song “Priceless.” Yet another was inspired by the beauty of the fall foliage in New England. There is no shortage of inspiration for these purses. Just like the girls who will receive them, each purse is truly unique.
Reflecting on this project and writing these words only further motivates me to keep stitching with a mission and using what interests and skills God has given me to serve others.
I look forward to making more purses for hopefully many years to come. I was created to create and I’m thrilled to join other seamstresses from around the world to stitch with a mission. Every purse I make is a reminder that while none of us can do everything, all of us can use our creative impulses and skills to do something.