Seeing Beyond the Mess

I found the cutest bag pattern a week or so ago, and I knew I had to make it. What better way to procrastinate on my novel than by taking on a sewing project? To date, I’ve now made 5 of them. In April. When I’m supposed to be working hard on my novel. I also sewed a dress, made repairs on a skirt and a super hero cape, and worked on a quilt, but who’s counting?

The pattern is here if you want to make one. It’s by So-Sew Easy and is FREE! There is a video that really helped me visualize it the first time, especially if you aren’t super comfortable sewing zippers. It takes about 30 minutes to make, so you can easily squeeze in a project at nap time. I love tiny, adorable projects like this because I feel like I got something accomplished when I’m done and it didn’t take me forever.

My sewing time is my quiet time, my prayer time (I know, be still...but I’m not excellent at being still. Quiet is about as good as it gets, most days), my time to reflect and plan. While I was sewing up my 3rd bag, I kept thinking about how much I loved sewing. There’s something so amazing about working on something from the inside diligently even though you don’t know what it’s going to look like when it’s done. This bag was an exceptional example of this, as you work on it inside out, flip it and it’s still inside out, finish sewing it, and then there is a final reveal.

The bag "guts": inside out

All the mess that’s on the inside, you’d never know it was there unless you made it. Everyone else gets to see the pretty outside but they never know what went into making it. They will never see how many times you had to attempt something before it finally clicked. They will never notice the tiny imperfections on the inside that you wish were perfect. All they see is the final product.


I kept thinking there was something to that.

What it looks like after the first ‘flip’. Still not perfect.

I had a particularly hard time with one bag that had a metal zipper that my sewing machine didn’t like. I’d sewn two others just like it, but that one fought me tooth and nail. I sewed one seam so many times that I lost count. When I finally walked away from it, it looked like this:

Lots and lots of strings!

What a mess.

I couldn’t help but think: this is me. I’m a mess. I’m in the thick of it, and all I can see is piles of laundry, dirty floors, footprints on my walls (no, that’s not a typo!) and the things I am failing at. The negative things that people say echo in my mind. A mess. I’m drowning in it.

The good news is: God can see past the mess. He knows what the finished product will look like, even when I barely have the faith to believe that it exists. Even on a sewing project that I created with my own hands, I am still amazed when I turn it right side out and it looks… good. I hope and pray that my big finished project, my life, will end the same. I want to look back and say, “I did good. I did what I was supposed to do, and I kept trying, I never gave up on doing what what was right, and I am pleased with my choices.

Fox Mini Zipper Bag

There’s something about sewing time… or maybe it’s just when God knows He can reach me because I’m not focused on so many things all at once. Either way, I am grateful for it.

When does God speak to you? Do you have a hard time seeing through the mess: failures, pending work, attitudes, behavior you don’t know to handle, spouse disagreements and fights? God’s bigger than all of that, if we can allow Him to handle it.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. – Jeremiah 29:11

The big reveal:

Mini Zipper Bag

**This blog was originally published on BlogHer 4/21/2015.**


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