Our Burning Home
By Christina Porter—Ontario, Canada
What comes to mind when you think of a seamstress who sews for charity? A nice, traditional lady who “gives back”? Well, that’s not me.
I’m not sure I’m that nice, I’m certainly not traditional and the only time I’ve “given back” was when I re-gifted a bottle of wine back to my sister.
No, I am a career-minded, type A personality, President and General Manager at a global pharmaceutical company who travels on business a good part of the year; an insomniac, perfectionist and nag. Just ask my husband and daughters!
And I sew. I sew because my girls’ dance costumes don’t fit, and sewing takes my mind off of work. I sew because it reminds me of simpler times, and I like making things. I sew for me. I sew because I’m selfish.
Dec 16, 2014, 3:30 am: We awoke to the sound of a blaring smoke alarm and the screams of my eldest daughter. We ran out of our burning home, stood in a snow bank in bare feet and pajamas and thanked God we had all escaped. As we watched smoke pouring out of our windows and doors, we wondered where we would go and how we would start again.
I was surprised to find the things I missed the most in those early days after the fire were my sewing machine and fabric stash. I never could have imagined how much comfort my perfectly organized collection of threads, buttons and trims gave me.
So, I took the insurance money and replaced everything. I bought the best sewing machine. I replaced every bobbin, pin and scissor. I organized everything neatly in my new sewing basket. Then I stared at it all in dismay. There was no comfort in these new things.
Every spool I lost in the fire had a story. Every sequined piece of trim shone with hours and hours of dance practice, every scrap of fabric was a baby blanket or favorite sleeper, an Easter outfit, quilt or curtain. Every piece of lace, a graduation dress.
I was angry at our loss and feeling sorry for myself. And that’s when God helped me to look at my new things with different eyes—as a stack of promise. What could this thread become? How could this sewing machine help to construct a better future?
I can’t remember how, but He led me to Sew Powerful.
In the hazy days that followed our fire, I began to sew again. I sewed purses in every spare moment. I sewed instead of working late. I sewed instead of organizing, I sewed instead of nagging.
While I sewed, I thought about how much we take for granted. I meditated on the value of an education. I thought about all the opportunities available to me and my daughters. I thought about the girls who can‘t go to school...just because they are girls. I worked and prayed that these purses and this mission would change the future for girls in Zambia.
And for the first time, I sewed for someone else. For the first time, I gave away everything I made. I finally “gave back” for real, and I was at peace.
I’m still a Type A personality, my career is still important to me, and I’m still a perfectionist. But this year, I hope make a trip to Zambia for God instead of making yet another trip for business. I intend to continue to prayerfully sew purses, spread the word about Sew Powerful and hopefully become a little nicer and a little less selfish while I’m at it.