Teaching………A Deeper Meaning

So I just got back from being away for nine days teaching at the Martha Pullen School of Art Fashion in Huntsville, AL. I had such a wonderful time, but rather than give you a recap of the whole event like I did when I taught in February, I thought I would take this opportunity to talk to you a little bit about what’s been on my mind the last few days.

(If you would like to see more pictures from the school, please check out my February post…….since I taught the same curriculum. You can find it HERE).

Being away from my family is an internal struggle for me. My number one priority in life right now is raising my three little ones (5, 4 and almost 2 years old), being a good wife and keeping a nice home. I never in my wildest dreams imagined that I would be where I am right now with writing this blog and having a full-on incorporated business selling sewing patterns, writing books, filming sewing DVD’s, being hired to teach sewing around the country. But here I am.

I am constantly plagued with guilt. It’s just my nature. I feel guilty if I don’t play enough with my kids, I feel guilty if my house is not spic and span when my husband comes home from work, I feel guilty that I don’t have enough time to create all the projects that I have in my head and I feel guilty being away from home…..the list goes on. These are all self-imposed expectations that I have put upon myself, but they are there in my head constantly nagging at me. And I continue to hear my mom in the back of my mind saying, ‘Just remember……..you can’t be all things to all people all of the time.’ (Whew, thank goodness for Mom, right?). But it’s still hard and I struggle.

When I had my children, the plan was for me to stay at home and raise them and for my husband to work outside the home. I am a girl who loves a plan and loves domestic life, so that sounded great to me. So when I discovered this gift of sewing after Savannah Rose was born (and I truly do believe it was a gift from God), I had no idea where it would take me. And sometimes life does not always go according to plan.

I don’t believe we should take the gifts we are given lightly. They are given to us from God for a reason. And we have two choices; to embrace them and see where they take us or put them aside. I have chosen to embrace the gift of creativity and have built a business that helps my family in a tremendous way financially, helps my children to see what you can achieve with hard work and has lead me to meet people I would have otherwise never encountered.

Which brings me to the point of why I’m writing today. This week at the Martha Pullen School I taught my regular three pre-day classes and then my four day school. The morning of the four day school an older woman came into my class, very quietly, sat down and said, ‘I may be in over my head with all of this, but I’m here’. Her name was Adaire and she seemed like she was going to be a quieter student in class. I had a smaller group of students this time during the four day school and it was the perfect environment to get to know one another. I certainly lucked out with an incredible group of women.

In getting to know Adaire, it turned out that her husband of 52 years had passed away 2-3 months prior to her coming to Martha Pullen. She began to open up to the students in class and her fun-loving, out-going personality began to show and she truly was the joy and light in our classroom. She was sewing beautifully and the darling clothes she was creating for her granddaughter, Grace, were like little works of art. The morning of our last day together, she said to the whole class that ‘After this whole experience, I finally feel like I can move on with my life and things are going to be ok, like it is the beginning of new chapter for me.’ She said her children had wanted her to go to a grievance retreat and instead she decided to come (by herself) to Martha Pullen. She said, ‘It was so nice to be able to walk around here, meet others and not have everyone say……..how are you doing? are you ok?’. She said, ‘I finally felt normal’. We all shed a few tears because you could truly see that this point in time was her new beginning.

So why am I telling you this story. I am telling you this because I believe Adaire and I were meant to be brought together at Martha Pullen. I have a different, slightly more relaxed teaching style than some of the other instructors (which isn’t a better or worse thing) and I think she was meant to take this specific school, with this amazing group of women. It’s what she needed. Had she been in another, larger, more strict class, she may not have had the support and love that she found within our group. And seeing as though I was struggling with the guilt of being away from my little ones and needed clarity as to my purpose and path, I needed to meet Adaire as she needed to meet me. It wasn’t my plan, it wasn’t Adaire’s plan, it was God’s plan.

It is a great thrill to me to have people see the pieces I create and give compliments, but it is in the connection with other sewists, the connection I have with my students, inspiring others and teaching that gives my gift greater and deeper meaning.

And though I missed my children and husband deeply during the week I spent away, I know in my heart that it was where I needed to be. I know I am on the right path and I will continue to think of a Adaire whenever guilt rears its ugly head.

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  1. Beautifully shared, Lindsay! I’m a 67 year old grandmother who loves to create for my grandchildren. I just recently discovered your blog and am enjoying it tremendously.


  2. Lindsey,
    We all gained so much more than sewing from your class. It was perfect for me being a newbie with the School of Art Fashion and the ability to get to know Adaire and Emily (especially – we were the “oldies but goodies” in the class) as well as Candi, Linda and Patsy was priceless. Thank you for this blog – it says it all!
    Wildwinowoman (not really . . . )

    • Whoops! Sorry, Terri, I didn’t mean to leave you out! You bailed me out of so many serger moments – how could I forget you??? 🙂

    • Awwww, Linda!! And who’d of guessed our paths would have crossed even before we started class? You were so much fun and this truly was such an incredible group of women. I miss every single one of you! Can’t wait to see some pictures of your little cutie wearing her new clothes!

  3. Like you, I truly believe that we are meant to meet people at particular times. Often without realising it, we take something from every person we meet – just as they take something from us. It sounds as though yourself and Adaire needed more of each other than is often the case, and how wonderful that you were put together to share what you each needed.
    Mother guilt never wanes. It is the nature of the “job”. But it enables us to strive to be our best – albeit some days we can achieve more than others – but each day our “best” is measured differently. Some days our best may be a spic and span house. Other days our best may be getting around to brushing out hair!
    But we’re always the best we can be at that time, and in that moment.
    Your mum sounds like a very wise woman.
    I hope Adaire’s new beginning is joy-filled with her beautifully dressed little Grace!

    • Thank you so much for your comment, Shelley. I really appreciate you taking the time to write. You are right……guilt does help us to strive to be our best. So good to hear from you!

  4. Lindsay, God always has a plan, we just need to step back and let him have his way. It’s so hard as a woman, mother, sister, wife, daughter, to step back and let God have control. I gave my oldest daughter to God one bright sunny day on a drive to Birmingham to put her in the hospital. It was the hardest day of my life, but I knew I had done everything I could do, I told God she was his…. End of story…no She is now a 26 year old RN at Childrens Hospital in Nashville, works in the ICU Cardiac Unit. What God did in her life is beyond words.. Step back and let God be in control. That’s what you did and what a blessing you were! Thanks for sharing your love in Alabama!

  5. When I started to read your blog, I thought “oh no, she’s going to close up shop”. What a wonderful experience you had, and I’m so glad that experience gave you the peace you needed as a momma and a wife to keep on with the creative side of things. I know I personally benefit from your blog and fb page. You are truly such an inspiration to me as a mom myself. Jen Collier

  6. I truly believe the things we learn while doing the things we love to do helps us be a better parent and spouse. All the experiences and opportunities you have gained will benefit your family in more ways than just in a financial one. That being said, I hope to someday soon be able to turn my passion into a paying job that I love! You are very blessed, Lindsay!

  7. Thank you so much for posting this. I own a handmade children’s boutique and I too struggle with the guilt of being away from my four kids when I am doing a show , networking with other businesses or sewing for a deadline. Yet through that I have seen how God has used this little business to encourage other women to use their talents to either start a business or just be a blessing to others. When we turn our businesses over to God, He does amazing things, doesn’t He?

  8. I think at some point we all suffer with guilt for whatever reason…I have come to realize it is such a waste of my energy. I also know that when we need balance in our life. In retrospect, when I was a parent of young children and was away from them I was a better parent when I returned to them, so it balanced out. One more thing I know for sure, when we follow God’s prompting, we will always be in the right place at the right time…good for you and for Adaire and all of those involved.

  9. I love this Lindsay!
    Guilt plagues me all-the-time… like you said, it’s mostly a product of being pulled in two or three (or ten!) different directions always.
    I love it that you got to see how it all fits this week. And you DO have a gift- so thankful you are being careful to steward it well. 🙂

  10. Lindsay, That is a lovely story and a wonderful lesson, thank you for sharing with us.

  11. an addendum: I popped over to the previous post about teaching and saw the cutting tables put on bed risers. As a woman who stands 6 foot tall and finds pinning, cutting & such a huge pain in the lower back I say THANK YOU for that idea! I’m buying a pair tonight!

  12. You are not alone in the mommy-guilt trip lane. However, to me, you are a living embodiment of the beloved Proverbs 31 woman. And nowhere in that Scripture does she express guilt for being who she is-a wife, mother, philanthropist, and a successful sewing businesswoman. Why should we? Yes, our family is first and foremost, but we are important too. And guess what? Our children do grow up, and moms need to develop themselves too. Mine are 14 and 16 and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel:) A business centered around the home is a true blessing.

  13. One of the truisms of being a mom, is that you will always feel guilty, no matter what you do. You deserve to have some interests of your own. It doesn’t take away from your kids or husband – in fact, if you get happiness from your endeavors, you will be a better wife and mother.

    I have really enjoyed your blog and your patterns. May you continue to have happiness and success with both your kids and your business.

  14. Thank you for this post, it brought sweet tears to my eyes. You are so right when you said that “It wasn’t my plan, it wasn’t Adaire’s plan, it was God’s plan.” Indeed, it was. My only wish is that we could have met this amazing woman too :).

  15. This is definitely a post to be savored. I don’t have much to say about it right now because it is so close to my heart. Thank you, Lindsay, for posting it. Even mothers of older children struggle with these issues (I know I do) and then the Lord reminds us of “why”. And I so love Adaire for being so real and vulnerable about why she was there and what it meant to her. All the ladies in that classroom are so precious and were “sew” much fun to spend that time with….and I was more than happy to bail you out on the serger, Linda. 🙂

  16. This is such a sweet, thought-provoking story. Thank you for sharing it.

  17. Oh Lindsay..I sit here in tears. Tears for Adaire, for your grace, for my past and my future.

    I am so happy for Adaire…I also remember when it clicked and I felt like I could move on (and survive) after my first husband died. It is SUCH a HEAVY weight removed. Granted, my marriage was MUCH shorter. Knowing you in the small way I do through your posts, you were the RIGHT person to give her this gift <3. THANK YOU. You may never know just WHAT it was that you gave her.

    In regards to my future..you may not know it yet, but you ARE going to be part of my redefinition. I love my kids dearly and like almost all women have had cases of mommy guilt. BUT….After an at times extremely difficult journey of 20 years, I will finally have all my children in school and will have FREE TIME. Time to grow me, to redefine me, to breathe, pee alone and relax not keeping an eye in the back of my head and an ear to the floor. I will breathe a deep relaxed breath for the first time in 20 years the first week of Sept. The next week of course I will be spending time with you and all of the other great teachers at Fabric Fest. I am coming alone and you will all be a part in me finding the “big kid” me.

    I am not sure I could have made a more fitting choice to begin this new phase of ME!!

  18. Wow, beautifully described! Thank you for sharing with all of us and you are right, it is the people we interact with that makes our lives livable!

  19. This touched my heart and your blog (I’m a new reader here) has as well, I’m so blessed by your sharing your gifts – thank you!

  20. Oh, Lindsay! What a beautiful tribute to the work that God is doing through you and for you.

  21. A lovely post Lindsay and I identify with it and you.
    I was a teacher and resigned from my post when I was pregnant with Matthew my eldest child. I did not intend to return to work as I wanted to stay at home and look after it, my husband and children (not necessarily in that order 🙂 ) Any way when my second , Jonathan was two I was persuaded to return to the classroom part time for 12 weeks. I agreed. When I began I thought I cannot wait to go back to fulltime motherhood etc. Well I was asked to stay on. I suffered agonies of guilt.
    However the extra money meant we gave the children extra good things. They didn’t have computers, TV’s in rooms etc but the eldest had piano lessons and he was brilliant, they did lots of activities and we had holidays and were able to go out for meals . My husband’s salary was not great and without mine we would have been very restricted. It was also good for me because I needed to teach. In total I taught for 30 years and now I am retired I have started a knitting group which I have ben told has been of great benefit to the participants , some who are widowed and have struggled and now feel they can enjoy life again.
    My sons are now 35 and 37. I asked them if they felt neglected in any way because I was not at home full time. They assured me not. They enjoyed their childhood. They are happily married have children and have the same values. Both of my D’sI.L. work partime and my grandchildren are no worse for it.
    Had I ever thought there was a problem I would have stopped working. I am sure you would do the same. I really think my children benefitted from me doing my job. Not because of material things but experiences they were able to have and because I was better for using the gift God gave me – being able to teach.
    I am sorry to have gone on a bit. Please though don’t beat yourself up. If your DH and children are happy and you are helping others then it’s God’s will. Hugs Anne x

  22. I cannot tell you how much this post meant to me dear little Lindsay. You are beautiful and the ladies here loved you. We all love you. I too had to leave my family for this beloved sewing; however, they learned to depend on their Dad more than they would ever have if I had hovered over them and not traveled. That was a good thing. I am sure you are the best mother ever. Your gift of healing to Adriene was real and meant to be. Thank yo for coming. God Bless you and yours and your sewing ministry, Love always, Martha Pullen

  23. Oh, Lindsay, I loved reading your post as so many things you said rang true for me too. Thank you for sharing your story. I was really excited to meet you that Tuesday night of the pre days and I’m glad you had such a positive experience teaching that week. I know it’s hard to be away from your family but they will do fine and maybe learn an extra thing or two that they wouldn’t have if you were there. I am really glad that you found your gift as everything that you do is a constant inspiration to me and a lot of other ladies out there.

    Have a wonderful day! 🙂

  24. Beautifully written.. A wonderful post:)

  25. Great story Lindsay!

  26. Loved this. Really put things into perspective for me. I think we all feel this way!

  27. <3

  28. What a beautiful post Lindsay. We never know how our lives can touch others! And I feel guilty about pretty much everything too. It comes with the job of motherhood.

  29. Great post and I 100% agree! Guilt is a great tool that the adversary, devil…whatever you want to call him uses. If he can lead our hearts and thoughts to guilt then we do exactly nothing and that was never, ever the plan of our Maker! Sounds like you were exactly in the right place, and what an amazing example and story for those sweet little future momma’s you’re raising 🙂

  30. I loved reading this! Thanks so much for sharing so honestly about your internal struggles (they sound so familiar!) and moments of reassurance about your purpose. I’m glad you had such an amazing experience teaching.

  31. Embrace the gift that God is giving you in being an inspiration to others through your beautiful sewing & wonderful, encouraging blogs! God will really use you, just as He has used Martha Pullen to inspire & encourage others! It also sounds like you have a real love being a wife & mother also! You can have it all! I love your patterns & have purchased all of them! I can’t wait to make clothes for my grandchildren with them! I hope to attend your class in Huntsville in the future. When will you come back?