Alphabet Faith Stories: Joyful Josie

The joy of the Lord is my strength.

J: Joyful Josie. Psalm 119:2–“Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for them with all their hearts.” (NIV)

Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition of joyful:

  • Experiencing, causing, or showing joy
  • A state of happiness
  • A source or cause of delight
  • To experience great pleasure or delight

Phrases associated with the word joy(ful):

  • A joyful crowd
  • Joyful faces
  • A joyful occasion
  • Joy in the Lord
  • A joyful sound

J: Joyful Josie’s Story:

“Josie smiled as she passed her grandmother’s treadle sewing machine that she kept in a prominent place of honor in her home. After all, she learned to sew on this machine. Even though 45+ years had passed, she could still remember her grandmother telling her–at the age of five–that it was time that Josie learned how to sew so that she would always be able to make her own clothes as well as sew for other people. All she needed was the desire and motivation to learn this highly creative skill. Even though Josie could barely reach the treadle, her grandmother helped her learn to sew a straight line and other stitches that she needed to perfect.

When Josie attended middle school, a home economics class was offered as an elective. Joyfully, she signed up for the class(es) and learned to use an updated model of the treadle sewing machine. She made an apron, dress, hat, soft carryall, a purse, and a blouse during the three years she attended middle school. In high school, Josie learned more advanced sewing techniques on more updated machines as she learned to make more difficult dress patterns. Her classmates noticed that Josie’s garments looked more “store-bought” than homemade and asked Josie for help in their creations.

Since Josie’s family could not afford to send her to college, she decided that she wanted to become a seamstress and to help other young women learn this skill as well. So she volunteered at the local youth center and taught sewing classes after school and on Saturdays. Josie continued to offer her services to friends and family as well. On one such occasion, her younger sister became engaged and had asked Josie if she would make the bridesmaids’ dresses. Josie had never made anything that “fancy” but instead of saying no, she agreed. She helped her sister choose the pattern and material needed for the dresses and several months later, Josie was fitting the bridesmaids with her creations–soft peach halter dresses with a floral cape. At the wedding, everyone complimented Josie on how beautifully the dresses were made.

After Josie was married and as she and her husband had to move out of state several times due to his job, she continued to seek the Lord for His guidance on what she should do with her life. Once again she turned to sewing. She continued to make dresses and clothes for her daughter from an early age on, until she outgrew “handmade” clothes. At the age of 10, however, her daughter asked if her mom could teach her and her friends to sew. But instead of treadle sewing machines, Josie purchased six brand new electric sewing machines at Walmart and set up a studio where her daughter’s friends could learn to sew. They made aprons, hats, skirts, pants, soft purses, and drawstring bags. By the end of two years, they had all learned the basics of hand and machine sewing. Other school activities/sports began to interfere with attending the sewing classes, but Josie could not have been more proud of her daughter and friends’ accomplishments. All of the parents were thankful that their daughters learned how to sew as this would be a creative skill they could enjoy for a lifetime.

Josie began to look for other ways to pass this “dying art” along to others and offered her services whenever anyone needed something special to wear for a “special” occasion. Her younger sister had moved to another State but contacted Josie about a “special project” she needed help with. Would Josie be willing to make a quilt for her grandson’s first birthday? Wait! What? Did she hear her correctly. Her sister said that when her first son was born someone made a special bear quilt for him, and even after 20+ years he still had parts of the quilt that he kept as a special memory.

After discussing what type of material and the design for the quilt, Josie reluctantly agreed. She would definitely need more advice and help doing this project no doubt. Josie’s daughter knew that her mother-in-law had made numerous quilts for baby showers and for friends/family members. So Josie now had a mentor to call on if she needed some help with the quilt.

After four months, the quilt was finished. It was 42″ x 72″ long and had a bear appliqued on the front of it which looked like he was under the covers asleep. On the back bottom corner of the quilt, her friend embroidered the name and birth date of her sister’s grandson. Josie mailed it to her sister in March and then flew out to her sister’s house in April to help celebrate her grandson’s birthday. When the parents took the quilt out of the box, they were so excited. The quilt did look a lot like the one her sister’s son had been given when he was a baby. What a joyful occasion for everyone that day.

Joyfully, and without hesitation Josie agreed to make something that she had never made before. Although the quilt was time-consuming and she spent many long hours putting it together, she could not help feel that God had given her this special “joyful occasion” to make her heart glad. The joy of the Lord was truly Josie’s strength as, despite her doubts, He would help her accomplish the task He had given her.”

Josie’s story is my story. Self-doubt and fear of doing something new can result in “never” doing what you were meant and created to do. “Let us rejoice and be glad” in whatever the Lord sets before us. He will give us the strength to accomplish all that He has for us to do despite our shortcomings and self-doubts.

May the Lord richly bless you as you continue to be a blessing to others.

Blessings

Yvonne