Wednesday, April 22, 2020

These Times: Finding that Pioneer Spirit

When this period of isolation started, I decided to sew some masks for members of my family. I pulled out my sewing machine and reacquainted myself with it. I haven’t sewn anything in a long time.

I found some remnants of cotton in my sewing bin. All of the elastic I had in my stash was too wide to fit around someone’s ear. I knew I could make it fit around the head, but threw out the idea as only a last resort. In the end, I found stretchy elastic string-type headbands. They worked great, even if some of them were pink with sparkles.

All was going well until I ran out of cotton fabric. The recommendation is for 100% pure cotton. Hmmm…. in another world….another time, I would have hopped in my car and picked some fabric up at the craft store. Ordering online would delay my sewing by days.

During the Great Depression of the 1930’s people had a similar situation. Things they needed weren’t always available when they needed them. I’ve heard my grandmother recite this poem:

Use it up, wear it out.
Make it do, or do without.

What would my grandma do now?

I went to my closet. I had a couple of shirts made of 100% cotton. I chose the one I rarely wear, cut it up and finished my project. A much better use of that shirt than merely hanging in my closet.

Not long after I finished sewing the much-needed masks, I settled into the new routine of staying home. I was determined to embrace this time of quiet creatively. I wanted to sketch and paint, but couldn’t find all of my supplies. My stash of pencils consisted of three broken ones and about a dozen short, eraser-less pencils culled from the depths of my golf bag.

I knew Tom had an electric pencil sharpener. Somewhere. I located it in a box of office supplies along with a few new, unsharpened pencils. I plugged the heavy thing in. It hummed as if it wanted to do something but wouldn’t sharpen the pencil. I checked the plastic bin for shavings, thinking perhaps it was full. Nothing. Phooey! 

I searched the box to see if perhaps there were any of the plastic sharpeners we used to send with the girls to school. Nothing.

I could have given up or maybe whittled the wood away from the lead with a knife, but by this time, I was on a mission. I studied the bulky electric sharpener, grabbed a Phillips head screwdriver from the kitchen drawer and took the thing apart. 

One of Tom’s strategies was to take things apart that weren’t working and see what was going on inside. Sometimes, when he couldn’t find anything wrong, he’d put it back together and it would work! “Must have been some dust in there or something,” he’d say. 

The air conditioner? Took it apart and put it back together. It worked for two more years before we replaced it.

The washing machine? Took it apart and put it back together. It lasted another ten years.

I looked at the insides of the pencil sharpener. I took a brush and dusted it off. I couldn’t see anything wrong, so I put the thing back together. 

It works.

What is my point in all this? We are living through a time such as we have never seen before. It may be frustrating to not have everything at our fingertips. It may be challenging to “make do,” to not be able to jump in our car and buy something new at every turn. 

During this season of our lives, we need to tap into our creative problem solving skills, try new things and fix old ones. We need to reassess what we have and how we make it work for us. We need to look in our pantry and come up with new recipes or in our closet and find new uses for old clothes. 

And we can do it. There rests in each of us a pioneer spirit. It’s the spirit that has made our nation strong.

How are you coping? What have you discovered about yourself during this pandemic? What problems have you creatively solved? 

And for a great read (both fun and informative...Rob King is a fantastic speaker and teacher) about the Spirit God offers as our helper you will be interested in this book: The Spirit Within by Rob King and Eric Ferris. I highly recommend it.

CLICK HERE for more info on the book. I know both of these authors. You will love this book!

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