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Meet Our Guests: Jason Miles, Rev. Mark Plunkett, Amy Brooks, LaQuita Herrin, Sue Kirby, Jan Cancila, Doug Kirby, Christine McMullen, Myra Lehmann, Philippe Aviyor, Deborah Peterson

The Sew Powerful Podcast shines a light on the people behind the mission to keep girls in school and create purposeful products in Zambia. Join us every week for a new 30-minute episode to meet new people, hear inspiring stories, and learn how you can join us in this global movement. Whether you sew or not, make purses or not, you will find something to enjoy in every episode. Listen today.


Chapter Leader Tell-All with Deborah Peterson

Deborah Peterson is the Sew Powerful Chapter Leader of the Oly~Lacy Crafty Sewers. In this episode we learn about Deborah's interesting background but really delve into what it has been like to form a Sew Powerful Chapter. We talk about how she found new members, what materials she found helpful and how, through her outreach, she has brought more than a dozen new purse makers into the Sew Powerful fold. We talk about an upcoming Quarterly Chapter Leaders' meeting, which will actually take place the day before this episode airs. If you are thinking of forming or joining a Sew Powerful Chapter, you won't want to miss this episode.


Chapter leader, Nextdoor app, Quality Sewing and Vac, GFWC Capital Women's Club, interventional cardiology, Chapter Formation Starter Kit, quarterly chapter leader zoom meetings, flyers, note card making, sewing for charity


Host: Jan Cancila
Guest: Deborah Peterson


We are Sew Powerful, How a Global Community of Seamstresses Is Changing Zambia One Girl at A Time, 2nd edition. By Jason G. Miles and Cinnamon, © 2016 & 2020 Jason G. Miles and Cinnamon, all rights reserved.

Nextdoor app,

Quality Sewing and Vac,

GFWC Capital Women’s Club,

Sew Powerful Chapter Formation Starter Kit,


Jan Cancila, Host 00:04

Welcome to the Sew Powerful podcast. This is your host, Jan Cancila. You know the sound of my sewing machine means it's time for another episode. So, let's get started.


Jan 00:20

Today we are speaking with Deborah Peterson. Deborah is a new Chapter Leader for Sew Powerful. And she has an extremely interesting background, and we want to hear all about her background. But we also want to talk about what led her to become a Chapter Leader for Sew Powerful and how that experience has been for her. So welcome, Deborah. How are you today?


Deborah Peterson, Guest 00:45

I am fine. Thank you, Jan. And how about you?


Jan 00:48

Oh, just doing very well, very well. Where are you right now as we speak to you?


Deborah 00:53

I'm in Lacey, Washington, which is a little suburb of Olympia, Washington, the capital of Washington.


Jan 00:59

Oh, the capital city. How nice. And you're near an Air Force base and Army base, I understand.


Deborah 01:07

Correct. It's a Joint Base so they're very busy. And a lot of activity tends to go on.


Jan 01:14

And you warned me that we might actually hear some of the aircraft overhead today, right?


Deborah 01:20

Oh, big booms. I think they're on the ground doing their big cannons and things.


Jan 01:25

Oh, how interesting. Okay. All right. So right now, you're in Washington State which, for international listeners, is on the far west coast of the United States on the Pacific Ocean, but Olympia is more


Deborah 01:40

In the middle of the state, probably smack dab in the middle.


Jan 01:45

Well, that that was my recollection, but I wasn't looking at a map. Could you sort of describe when you look out your window, what do you see? What's the topography like there?


Deborah 01:54

Very green, forests. Matter of fact, behind my house and say what I call a mini forest because there's no houses. Washington State is known for its rain, so a lot of rain here. And of course, we're very well known for Mount Rainier, which is a very majestic, gorgeous mountain and once I drive out of my neighborhood, she's right there, smack dab in my face.


Jan 02:18

Now, where are you from originally?


Deborah 02:21

Well, I moved up here about three years ago from San Diego, California. I lived down there for over 30 some years. It's my most favorite place but all of my family started leaving California, so I was the last one to leave.


Jan 02:36

The last one to leave. And what brought you to Washington three years ago?


Deborah 02:40

My two younger daughters moved up this way. My second-to-youngest daughter, her husband, and my grandbaby moved up here, probably about five years ago. And then the next three boys were born up here. My youngest got transferred. She's a Vet and she worked for a vet hospital in San Diego, who transferred her to their Portland, Oregon location. And so, she came out here about a year before me and then I finally made the move.


Jan 03:07

Alright, so the whole family migrated north.


Deborah 03:10



Jan 03:11

I understand you're recently retired. Tell us about your career, Deborah.


Deborah 03:15

Well, I retired from over 35 years in interventional cardiology. But my main specialty for the last almost 20 years was electrophysiology, which is the study and treatment of heart arrhythmias. So, working very close with the heart.


Jan 03:31

Wow, I "heart" that, I love that. What an interesting and rewarding career that must have been.


Deborah 03:39

It was.


Jan 03:40

So obviously you sew, because you're a volunteer for Sew Powerful. I think that might be a job requirement. So, Deborah, tell us about when you learned to sew.


Deborah 03:53

Well, it actually started back when I was in school. At that time, we had to be in Home Ec, all the girls; it was a required course. And of course, we were taught sewing. So simple things like skirts and scarves and things like that. Over the course of the years, I just did simple sewing. I would do simple quilts for my children and then eventually for my grandchildren. Simple satchels, purses. I never got very fancy with sewing so, no clothes designing or making like that. But I'm just happy with the simple things that I do and still am able to do it.


Jan 04:34

So how did you hear about Sew Powerful? Where did that come in?


Deborah 04:40

Well, if I remember correctly, it was a little over a year ago. I think I came across a video that caught my attention. And I belong to a Women's Club, GFWC Capital Women's Club, and at one of our club meetings they talked about Days for Girls. And these was probably products that were being made, reusable washable products for girls in many countries. And so, when I saw that, I went back to the Sew Powerful video that caught my attention and found out more about it, and that these were purses that would house products like that. And I was captivated. The more I learned about the story and the situation over there, that's what captivated me. And so, I've kept an eye on Sew Powerful ever since. I knew that eventually, once I unpacked the rest of my sewing stuff, which was still packed up, that I wanted to make purses myself, and then it just took off from there.


Jan 05:39

Well, you know, a lot of people that have daughters really find the situation in Zambia resonates with them, trying to imagine what it would be like for their own daughters to have to struggle. Was that the case for you?


Deborah 05:54

Oh, yeah, I had four daughters. And by all means, you know, that definitely strikes a chord. And it makes me think of, you know, what would have happened if my daughters didn't have stuff like that, affected their lives and their going forward as an adult?


Jan 06:11

Right, yeah. And think about how it must impact girls' education not to be able to reliably plan on going to school all month long.


Deborah 06:20



Jan 06:21

Well, Deborah, you signed up to be one of our Beta Chapter Leaders. So back in January, we put together a program to establish Chapters, and we had meetings, and honestly, we weren't really making a whole lot of progress, I'll just tell you, because everybody had an opinion about what we should do and we weren't coming to consensus. But we did come to consensus, that maybe we ought to do a survey and find out what everybody else thought. And so, we did the Local Growth Survey and as a result of that, we really got clarity around what the Chapter situation should look like. And one of the questions on the survey was, Would you be willing to lead a group of people in sewing? And you answered,


Deborah 07:14

Yes, absolutely.


Jan 07:16

Yeah. So, when we started putting together Chapters, we did contact the people who had responded in that way, and you were gracious enough to join us on the journey. And it was a Beta, meaning "experimental." And so, we put together some things and so you've been tearing it up ever since. So, let's sort of go step by step. So, we contacted you and said, Would you do this? You said, Yes. Now, what was your thought process when you were invited to do that? Did you have any reservations, or what were you thinking?


Deborah 07:51

No. And in fact, that survey you put together was a brilliant idea because that was extremely helpful. And it really helped in settling any questions I would have had, had not something like that been done first and foremost. I honestly thought that it would be quite easy to do so and to form and groups together to be able to sew but I've learned so much more since then.


Jan 08:23

Okay, we're gonna get to that. Hold that thought. So, then we put together some materials for Chapter Leaders, which was called a Chapter Formation Starter Kit, and we provided that to our Beta Chapter Leaders. I don't know how recently you've looked at that. But from what you can recall, can you talk a little bit about that, and if that was a handy thing to have, or what suggestions you might give us to improve that going forward?


Deborah 08:51

As far as improving, I really don't see anything else needing; it was not lacking at all. Again, another brilliant idea. It was full of information that I would have ever wanted, nice guidelines, and the materials that you sent to us was extremely helpful. I think it was a perfect way for a starter Chapter Leader to begin working with. I honestly don't think we need to add anything extra in it because it's all there.


Jan 09:21

Okay, all right. And, you know, one of our objectives was to not overwhelm people with information so we kept it sort of brief but provided links so that you could explore topics of interest to you. Did you find that helpful, in that presentation?


Deborah 09:39

Oh, very helpful. Yeah, yeah.


Jan 09:41



Deborah 09:41

I like the idea of not having too much because it just gets overwhelming to certain people. But having those links there so that they can pursue it on their own is great. So just like in the Goldilocks story, just perfect.


Jan 09:55

Yeah. Maybe we'll have to rename them the Goldilocks Clubs


Deborah 10:00

Not too much, not too little, just perfect


Jan 10:02

instead of Chapters, okay. All right now you're relatively new to the area where you live. I mean, you've lived there three years so I'm sure you know some people, but it's not like it's a lifetime of acquaintances. So how did you find people to join your Chapter?


Deborah 10:20

Well, first because of being a member of the GFWC Capital Women's Club, I spread the information amongst my Club members, and I had a couple of women that wanted to participate. And so, then I thought, alright, where do I go out to next? Well, since I'm still learning the people around my neighborhood, we happen to have two bulletin boards, glass encased bulletin boards, where neighbors can post things. So, I thought, oh, okay, I'm gonna put a flyer into there and see if I can get some neighborhood people involved. So, put it up over there. And then of course, I was on I thought, well, let's give this a try. And so, I posted an announcement on for my community and the surrounding communities, just about maybe 10 miles out in a circular fashion from our area.


Jan 11:10

Okay, now hold that thought because we're going to take a quick break. And then when we come back, we're going to find out what was the result of all of Deborah's marketing efforts. So, listeners, please stay tuned.


Jan 11:25

Have you gotten the second edition of the We Are Sew Powerful book? This updated version of the original best seller, 4.9 out of five stars, by the way, is again authored by Sew Powerful co-founders, Jason and Cinnamon Miles. It is available on Amazon in paperback or for your Kindle reader. This latest edition is packed full of moving stories about how Sew Powerful came to be, the volunteers who make it happen, and the way this small movement has grown into a global mission to break the cycle of poverty through education and the dignity of work. And don't forget, when you place your order, if you use, and designate Sew Powerful as your preferred charity, Amazon will donate a portion of your purchase right back to Sew Powerful. And now back to our podcast.


Jan 12:28

Welcome back. We have been speaking with Deborah Peterson, who is a Sew Powerful Chapter Leader. And she was just telling us about the marketing efforts that she put forth to locate people who might be interested in joining her, forming Chapters. So just to recap, you did a flyer in your neighborhood bulletin board, you talked to people in your club. And what was the third one?


Deborah 12:57

The third one was placing an announcement in


Jan 13:01

In Okay, so tell us what happened with all of that.


Deborah 13:05

Well, surprisingly, I got an immense response from And I probably had about 14 respondents that were very much interested in participating in doing this. And I was just so surprised. Well, knowing in my past experience of sending invitations out to people for whatever event or something that I have going on, I know the percentages of actual respondents is going to be much, much lower. But it was a place to start, and it was a place to be able to find out how successful it could be and how many repeats we would have from this group. And so that's where I'm finding that it's a learning experience. And my next goal is to be hitting up a lot of the church groups around here, since many of them do support ministering activities outside of the United States. And I'll bring in more sewers because I know I'm going to need them.


Jan 14:05

Okay. All right. That's fantastic. Okay, so let's back up a little bit. So, what is the name of your Chapter?


Deborah 14:11

Our name is Lacey~Oly Crafty Sewers.


Jan 14:15

Crafty Sewers, that's fantastic. And so how many members would you say you have now? It sounds like it's a little bit fluid.


Deborah 14:23

We have actual 16 members, but I have four very active members that are actually sewing and then I have two additional members that are making cards for us.


Jan 14:37

Okay, well, cool. And so, could you describe a typical meeting? I'm curious, do people bring their sewing machines and make the purses there? Or do they work at home and bring for Show and Tell? How do you have it set up?


Deborah 14:51

Right now, everybody is working from home. I have offered up gathering here and people can bring their sewing machines, some tables, and everybody's still a little iffy about gathering together. Predominantly, we did a lot of Zoom calls, shared a lot of ideas, did Show and Tell on that. And right now, we are going to be doing periodic Zoom calls just to check in with everybody. But we are planning for a gathering, hopefully, by next month.


Jan 15:22

Wow. And so how many meetings have you had altogether?


Deborah  15:26

We've had about eight, eight meetings, if I remember correctly. Yeah.


Jan 15:32

And that's since May, right? In a six-week period of time? No, you started earlier, right?


Deborah 15:38

Right. Yeah.


Jan 15:40



Deborah 15:40

Initially, the Zoom meetings were, like, every week for maybe the first four weeks, and then every other week, and now we're going to be doing them probably every other month.


Jan 15:51



Deborah 15:51

But then try and gather more often after that.


Jan 15:55

And have you had any in-person meetings?


Deborah 15:57

Not yet.


Jan 15:58

Not yet. Okay. All right. And so, the people that have joined you, did they know about Sew Powerful before you put these posts up?


Deborah 16:08

One did, she said she had seen it before, but she never followed up with it. The other ladies, this was their first time of knowing about it. And they were quite taken aback both, for the situation and as far as the sewing of the purses and why that was being done. So, they were quite taken with it.


Jan 16:27

Well, that's great. And they have the purse pattern, I take it. Now you do have some people who are doing notecards. But have they had any challenges making the purse or or how did they get started?


Deborah 16:38

About the only thing challenge-wise, I just had a whole bunch of persons dropped off the other day. Some are doing the beginner purse, and some are doing the intermediate purse. And probably the only challenge that a couple ladies talked about was turning out the corners and all, but they said they know how they're going to be tackling it the next time around.


Jan 17:00

Yeah, yeah.


Deborah 17:02

Other than that, there really hasn't been anybody who got stuck or had an issue or ran into a problem. I've got right in front of me, right now, a whole bunch of darling purses with such darling patterns and


Jan 17:16

If they're right there, show me. Let's see what we have. Oh my gosh, that's cute. Oh, very nice. Oh, look at that.


Deborah 17:24

I can see inside. Here's another that was like a tapestry.


Jan 17:28

Wow. Oh, that's so pretty.


Deborah 17:31

And then one that looks kind of like a watercolor painting.


Jan 17:35

Oh, it does. It looks like a Monet. Wow. That's beautiful. That is beautiful.


Deborah 17:40

So obviously, and then something that's a little fun, these are doughnuts.


Jan 17:45

Oh, oh how cute.


Deborah 17:46

Yeah, and a sparkly liner.


Jan 17:48

Oh, nice. Very nice.


Deborah 17:50

The creativeness is off the chart, let me tell you.


Jan 17:53

That's that's fantastic. And so, are you going to be the one to gather them and ship them in? Is that your intent?


Deborah 18:00



Jan 18:01

And then when you do your packing slip are you going to do a packing slip for each of the ladies or are you going to do one for your Chapter? Have you figured that out?


Jan 18:09

Just one for that, the Chapter The only ones that I will probably do a separate packing slip for will be purses that are made by my Club.


Jan 18:18

By your club. Okay, very nice.


Deborah 18:19

My Women's Club.


Jan 18:20

Well, yeah, so this will be exciting when we do the Facebook Live Events the fourth Monday of every month, where we hold them up, and we will be really excited to say this is from the Lacey~Oly Crafty Stitchers Chapter and here's their box. So that will be, that will be something. In fact, I don't know, you don't have to wait till you have a whole lot. You could be the first Chapter box to be sent in and that would be a really cool thing, so.


Deborah 18:52

Yeah, I hope, I hope to have this all ready to take over and drop off by next Monday. I have two other ladies that said they have purses to drop off by this weekend. And then I'll be ready to package these all up and bring them on over.


Jan 19:06

Oh, you're going to take them in person.


Deborah 19:08

I'm going to take them over to the Quality Sewing and Vac shop that's near me


Jan 19:13

Oh, Okay.


Deborah 19:13

Since they take them over there and it's


Jan 19:16

Well let's give them a plug. So if you're in the Washington State, and are they also in Oregon?


Deborah 19:21

I believe so.


Jan 19:22

I think they are. So if you live near a Quality Sewing and Vac store, you can drop off your Sew Powerful purse there. Now you might have to remind the store manager what you're doing, if if you're the first one to do this, but they have been doing it for a couple of years. And then what happens is their drivers that make deliveries to the various stores will periodically take the purses to their warehouse and then when they get a bunch in their warehouse, they contact Sew Powerful, and their warehouse is in the Seattle area, and somebody from Sew Powerful goes there and picks it up. So, if you're in Washington or Oregon, you can save yourself the cost of postage, and simply drop your purse off at Quality Sewing and Vac. And we're most appreciative of that service that they offer us. So, Deborah, you've been a Sew Powerful Chapter Leader for three or four months now. That makes you a veteran. So, we've had a lot of people express interest in doing this but not everybody has actually taken that next step of registering their Chapter. Registered Chapter Leaders get access to some resources that the general purse-making public doesn't really have, and the idea is to to help you with your Chapter. So, what resources have you found helpful, that you think anybody who might be hesitant, if they knew what you know, might go ahead and take that next step?


Deborah 20:52

Now, maybe perhaps a list of what we have encountered so far for gathering members. What we have encountered that may have stymied anything and offering some other suggestions on how to look for additional participants and so that's probably about the only thing. How do I get the word out? You know, how do I contact anybody? How do I make this known? And like I said, not many people know about But it's going to take creative thinking on knowing your area, knowing where to take things. Quality Sewing and Vac, they took one of my flyers, or Joanns Fabric has one posted there as well. And like I said, probably the next big area to be hitting up is all the churches within the area. Especially there's a lot of crafting people that, you know, sew or do cards, cardmaking. I mean, there's a wealth of people to be working with, you just got to be going out there and getting the information out.


Jan 22:00

Well, and I have to brag on you. You developed a little flyer that has the tear-offs. And, you know, we see those periodically on bulletin boards, in restaurants, schools, gyms, whatever. But we took yours and fixed it so all you have to do is a search and replace, and you can replace the text on there with your actual email address. I guess you could put your phone number, but probably most people would prefer email address at this point. But just being able to distribute that in your local community where people would see it is a good thing. Especially a lot of places are starting to open up now and people are more out in public than they would have been, say, a year ago.


Jan 22:42

One other thing, Deborah, that I want to talk about is that we are offering quarterly Zoom meeting for Chapter Leaders. So, no matter where you live in the world, if you're a Chapter Leader, we want to share information and resources with you. And our first one of those is going to be on June 30, in, like, two weeks from now. So, we have them set up every three months. And we skipped the month of December because it sort of falls right on on Christmas, so we moved that one to be in January. But I just think if you're new, if you're thinking about becoming a Chapter Leader, or you're experienced, I think this would just be a good forum for people to exchange tips, ideas, ask questions. What do you think? Do you think people will participate?


Deborah 23:33

I would hope they would participate. I hope they would realize the value of it. I'm all for it, 100%. I think by having periodic meetings to share what has been working, what has not been working and what needs to be changed is very similar to me in the medical field. That's, you know, how we worked on a daily basis, especially with challenging cases and challenging patient needs. So, it, the same would apply to just about anything that a person would want to do.


Jan 24:04

Well, and so if you are a registered Chapter Leader, on your Resource page you can click on the Quarterly Chapter Leader link and it will give you all the dates, the times and the link to the Zoom meeting. If you've not yet registered, but you're thinking about it, if you'll send me an email at JanC, that's JANC at, I will send you the Zoom link for the next meeting so that you could participate if you're considering. So, you know, we want to get the word out. And you know, Deborah has this group of 14 women who have joined her. Only one of whom had ever heard of Sew Powerful before, so from Deborah, 13 more people. And if each of those ladies make 2, 3, 4, 5 purses, I mean, you know that's 100 purses a year more, just by putting up some fliers and being willing to do some administrative things that I don't really think it's too onerous. Deborah, is there a lot of admin that we require of you?


Deborah 25:12

No, not really. Use your resources, use your time and reach out.


Jan 25:20

Yeah, yeah. So, to me, this is a job that's a little more involved than being a purse maker, but certainly not as involved as being a Regional Coordinator. So, if you're a purse maker and you feel like you want to make an additional contribution but don't feel like you have the time or the inclination to be a Regional Coordinator, this would be a perfect step for you. And we're trying to make it fun. And it's a great way to get to know other like-minded people who want to make a difference for girls and women in Zambia.


Deborah 25:56



Jan 25:57

Yeah, okay. Well, Deborah, thank you so very much for your time today. And we didn't hear any booms in the background. So, I guess


Deborah 26:06

I think they're taking a pause.


Jan 26:08

they might be on their lunch break right now. So yeah, so we made it through without that. But thank you very much for your time. It's been a pleasure, as always, to talk to you. And if I don't talk to you before then, I will talk to you on June 30 at our first Quarterly Chapter Leader meeting.


Deborah 26:25

That sounds great. And thank you, too. It was a pleasure to be able to do this. And I'm looking for more people to really, really get themselves involved here.


Jan 26:36



Deborah 26:36

It's fun.


Jan 26:38

Fantastic. Well, thank you. Have a great day. We'll talk to you later, Deborah.


Deborah 26:41

You too. Sounds great. Thank you.


Jan 26:42



Deborah 26:43



Jan 26:46

If what you've heard today inspires you to want to make a difference, I urge you to explore the Sew Powerful website at That's SEW POWERFUL dot ORG. The website has great information about the organization. It's where you can download the free purse patterns or even make a donation. We hope you will join us again next week when we bring you another Sew Powerful story. Thanks for listening. Now, go out and have a Sew Powerful day.


Every Country in Africa with Philippe Ayivor

Impressive credentials aside, Philippe Ayivor has been at the forefront of economic and social development in Africa since 1995. Whether it is working on water treatment infrastructure for impoverished communities or spearheading the work to bring vocational training to build a strong middle class in Africa, Philippe's work resonates with our Sew Powerful mission to bring the dignity of work to those in need.


Jesus, broken people, seeds, Greeks, God, Lazarus, Philip, oxymoron, Sweetly Broken, Renton Christian Center, Sew Powerful, Sew Powerful Parables


Host: Jan Cancila
Guest: Dana Buck


Sew Powerful Parables, by Dana Buck, ©2019 by Dana Buck, all rights reserved

Bible References: Book of Isaiah, John 12:20-24, Psalm 34:17-18


Dana Buck, Guest 00:00

If you're feeling, not even humility, if you're feeling depressed, or if you're feeling your self-worth is down, you're feeling like dust, remember, it's dust that God uses to make beautiful things. And if you're walking around like all this and a bag of chips, and confidence, remember you're dust. Remember you're dust, and so humble confidence, what would seem to be an oxymoron, God puts together into the way he would have us live our lives, doesn't it? In humble confidence. Humble because I know all good things come from God. Confident because I know all good things come from God. See how that works? I mean, it's just yeah. So, when we start to let God fit stuff together, that in the in my, you know, earthly or worldly point of view might not make any sense to me. But in my, in my view, point of view through my relationship with Christ, suddenly it all makes sense.


Jan Cancila, Host 01:03

Welcome to the Sew Powerful podcast. This is your host, Jan Cancila. You know, the sound of my sewing machine means it's time for another episode. So, let's get started. In this week's podcast we hear from Dana Buck. Dana is a Sew Powerful board member and author of The Sew Powerful Parables, both in book and podcast formats. Today's engaging talk is one he recently shared with the congregation of the Renton Christian Center. Dana focuses on John 12, verses 22 to 24 to help us understand how the broken can become beautiful. Listen for the stories of the truck driver with a bad heart and the young widow with a life insurance policy. Then you will probably need a tissue- I know I did- as Dana reads his original work, "Broken Teacups." Please enjoy. Here is Dana Buck.


Dana 02:12

Sweetly broken that saw Brandon I hang out every Tuesday night together. We work on a podcast together. And he's awesome and great engineer and makes me sound pretty, you know, pretty lead pretty understandable. And so he asked me what I was, you know what I was going to talk about and I told him why I had to send something to Annie because Annie to put something on the website. So, I said is going to be "From Broken to Beautiful." And I kind of love oxymorons. Oxymorons are kind of fun, you know: jumbo shrimp ....... military intelligence. Yeah. That was a good one. Hot water heater. It's already hot. Why do you heat it? Makes no sense. But oxymorons are always kind of fun. And so when the worst of humans practicing and there's just a little time of just kind of setting the tone this morning. And Kevin got up and kind of close that time. And he said, I have two words for you. He says humility, and confidence. And so when you kind of look at those two, like or I could shorten it into humble confidence. Humble confidence, which, to the to my non-Christian years would sound like an oxymoron. Well, that's one of those oxymorons. But when you live in the kingdom of God, you realize the kingdom of God is full of oxymorons. Alex said one today. Find, you want to find life, lose it. You want to be beautiful, be broken. Kevin's whole thing of bring it up was, Hey, if you're feeling incredibly humble, and you just realize, you know, because they were just doing, you make beautiful things out of the dust, that you're just dust. But remember, that's what God makes beautiful things out of. So if you're feeling, not even humility, if you're feeling depressed, or if you're feeling your self-worth is down, you're feeling like dust. Remember, it's dust that God uses to make beautiful things. And if you're walking around like all this and a bag of chips, and confidence, remember your're dust. Remember you're dust, and so humble confidence...what would seem to be an oxymoron, God puts together into the way He would have us live our lives, isn't it? In humble confidence. Humble because I know all good things come from God; confident because I know all good things come from God. See how that works. I mean, it's just yeah. So when we sort of let God fit stuff together, that in the in my you know earthly or worldly point of view might not make any sense to me. But in my in my view, point of view through my relationship with Christ, suddenly it all makes sense.


Dana 05:00

One of the things, we're going to jump back into the book of John, this morning, because that idea of broken to beautiful, actually fits really nicely. Let me just say this about going through a book going through a book of the Bible. Here's what we usually do pastors usually do it speakers usually do. I do it, everybody does it. You carve out a section of Scripture, right? A story of Jesus, or a principle or whatever, and you carve out that section of Scripture, and you read it, and then you talk about it in context. Nothing wrong with that, right? Nothing wrong with that it happens all the time. And it's a way for us to learn the precepts of God and the stories of Christ and who we are in Jesus. But there is something really, really valuable about understanding the context of these stories in the Bible as they unfold, particularly in the Gospels. Now, you can definitely pull these stories out individually and, and and read them and preach on them and learn from them. But when you do that in context, that's why I'm so appreciative that Kevin is taking us through the book of John, not just, you know, helicoptering, you know, droning down on certain verses, but taking us through, because I think it's really valuable to see and understand the context in which these things are happening and unfolding.


Dana 06:25

So Jason talked to us last week, when last we left our players, right, Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead. They had a big party, and they celebrated Lazarus resurrection. And Mary in this wonderful, amazing act of worship, you know, breaks the...anybody, remember what that perfume was called? Nard? Yeah, the nard. Doesn't sound, particularly beautiful. Nard. But she breaks it and anoints Jesus and wipes his feet with her hair. And, you know, Judas gets all upset, hey, we could have sold that. And Judas said, basically says Judas was the guy that was dipping into the till.


Dana 07:08

But Jesus says, you know, leave her alone. That was something that was important for her to do. She was he was she was preparing Him. This was the same type of spice and perfume that they would use when somebody died. And that she was preparing him for that. And so, and it basically says that the Pharisees were seeing all of this, that they saw, you know, Lazarus was raised from the dead. And they saw that the people were overwhelmed by that. But all they could think of was they want not only wanted to kill Jesus, they wanted to kill Lazarus, because of the witness that they had. See, to see, you see this story kind of unfolding as like, you know, Jesus has fed the 5000. He's healed. He's preached. People have heard him. Now He's raised Lazarus from the dead. That's really got the buzz going. And after this, after he has this party with, with Lazarus, and his family, and all these people are there, the very next thing that happens in the Gospel of John is the triumphal entry. Jesus enters into Jerusalem. Now John, in his gospel, doesn't really make much of a fuss about it. It's kind of just, you know, a few lines before he goes into kind of the next story. But he talks about how the people came, and they wave the palm branches as Jesus entered into the city of Jerusalem. And then this next story occurs, which we're gonna go into in a second.


Dana 08:30

But I want to I want to kind of back us up a little bit, because the people of Israel were waiting for a Messiah. The people of Israel have been waiting for a messiah for 1000s of years. The people of Israel were under the oppressive rule of the Romans. They wanted a Messiah. And suddenly this guy comes along, who raises the dead, heals the sick, all the prophetic things in the book of Isaiah that they said the Messiah would do. And he raises Lazarus from the dead. So when he's going to enter Jerusalem, I used to wonder is that you know, again, when you helicopter the Bible a bit, here's what I used to wonder. Like, why? Because when we celebrate Easter, it's like Palm Sunday. And then what's the next Sunday? Easter. So in between those two, what happens on Friday? They kill him. And I remember I used to, like go, where these people that were like waving the palm fronds on Sunday, and now all of a sudden Friday, they kill him? Like Pilate brings Him out before the people. And it says it's customary during your Passover, to free a prisoner who's condemned to death. Here is Jesus Christ and whom are not Christ hit but here's this Jesus, who I find no fault in. And here's Barabbas a murderer, a crazy dude, you know, whatever. Who do you want? Free Barabbas. Free Barabbas. I used to look at that and go, What? These are the same people waving the palm fronds that were saying, Free Barabbas. Free Barabbas. What happened in that period of time? What happened at that period of time was they didn't understand who their Messiah was, that their Messiah was going to be the suffering servant. What did they want? They wanted the conqueror. They wanted the man to ride in, they wanted the sword, they wanted the Romans eliminated. They wanted the restoration of the kingdom of Israel. They want that's what they wanted. And that's what and when Jesus came riding on a donkey's colt humble. And as we're going to see, talking, and preparing his disciples and the people for the fact that he was going to be killed. That's not the Messiah they wanted. So on Friday, they were done with him. Give us Barabbas, crucify him, give us Barabbas. And a lot of that was egged on and was you know, didn't have social media. Imagine if they had social media back then what the Pharisees would have been posting, right. Oh, see, we told you is fake ..... Lazarus wasn't dead. He was, you know, bah, bah, bah, he's a phony. But that's what happened word of mouth or whatever. Sunday, he was the Messiah, Friday. Free give us Barabbas. And so like what happened between those? And and so the story that we're going to read here is, is part of that. So I'm going to be in John 12. And I'm going to start in verse 20.


Dana 11:39

Now, there were some Greeks among those who came up to worship at the feast. They came to Philip who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. Sir, they said, We would like to see Jesus. Philip, went to tell Andrew, and Andrew in turn told Jesus. Now, this is one of those verses that, you know, does anybody here have a red letter Bible in your lap right now? Yeah, I do to my red letter. This is one of those verses that we just ..... because I want to get to the red letter. I want to get to what Jesus said. So we just got .... Philip. Great. And what does Jesus have to say? But hold on there because this is kind of important. Now these Greeks when we read that they probably weren't from Greece. You remember that the Roman Empire inherited the empire of Alexander the Great. Alexander the Great conquered the known world. Alexander the Great died. He did it by the time he was 33 years old. He died. There was no successor; he had no son; there was no kingship to pass along. Alexander had five generals that were his key generals, and the Empire of the Greeks was parceled up amongst these five generals. So, it became actually five smaller empires. And so when Rome rose Rome, picked those off one by one. So, Greeks could be anywhere. And Greeks was almost a transferable term to the Jews for like a Gentile. Oh, you're not Jewish, you're a Greek. Well, these were Greek converts to Judaism. Now, did they live in in Jerusalem? Did they come in for the feast? They probably came in now they could have been from Greece. It could have been from Athens, who knows? But they probably weren't. They probably came in from one of the surrounding regions. They hear this buzz about this guy, Jesus and ... so. So, isn't it interesting that the Greeks go to Philip and say, Hey, we want to talk to Jesus? Do you know why they want to Philip? Because Philip is a Greek name. Alexander the Great's father was Philip. So, the Greeks wanted to see Jesus and they said let's go ask this dude Philip because he's got a Greek name. And maybe that's going to be some way for. So, when you understand all these little nuances, right, it's like these are human beings that are navigate that we forget that have motives and plans and whatever. And so, they go to Philip and they say, we really want to see Jesus. We want to meet with Jesus. Does Philip like Oh, awesome. Let's go. I know, right where he is. Let's Let's go see him. No, Philip like, goes and talks to Andrew. Like, what's that all about? Why does Philip go talk to Andrew? And then Andrew and Philip together, go talk to Jesus. So obviously, Philip wasn't sure if he should do that. And so, Philip goes to Andrew and and they discuss it together and then you know, they finally do go to Jesus, but there's several reasons for that. And we remember the Messiah belonged to the Jews. That was their mentality. And then suddenly here were these they were they were Jews by by religion because they had adopted Judaism, but they weren't Jewish by ethnicity. If they would have taken the You know, 23andme, they went past it, right? They weren't Jewish, by ethnicity. And suddenly, this sort of non-Jews wanted access to Jesus. Not only that, but the Pharisees, were just looking as we know, we're just looking for anything. They're constantly trying to trap Jesus in something so they could arrest Him. And, and Philip probably knew, like, Holy smokes, man, if I bring these Greeks, these non-ethnic Jews, to the rabbi, and he starts teaching them, what are the Pharisees going to do with that? We're cooked. Oh, my gosh, what am I going to do? Because I don't want to deny access to somebody that wants to see the teacher. That's not the right thing to do. I know, I'll go ask Andrew. Andrew's a smart guy. That must be what he did. And Andrew said Oh, geez, man, I can see why. You know what, dude, let's just go ask Him.


Dana 15:56

So, they don't bring the Greeks In fact, you never even hear the Greeks after that. It's like, let's, um, let's go ask Him. Let's go see what He says. So now we get such the setup for this conversation that Jesus has with them. And I think they probably thought it was going to be this discussion about do you want to meet with the Greeks or not? That's what they thought. Do you want to see these Greeks or not? You know, here's the risk. Here's the rewards. What do you think, Lord? And Jesus, ever done this was somebody? Like you, like, ask him a question, and they just go sideways, somewhere? Jesus kind of just go sideways. They probably asked him this very straightforward question. And instead, he goes into this metaphor. Let's, let's kind of see what that is. So, here's, it says Jesus replied, so they ask them, Hey, these Greeks want to come see you. What do you think what should we do? These are probably the risks. You know, blah, blah, blah, here's what Jesus says: The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified. I tell you the truth. And this is what Alex shared from the top. Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Jesus, do you want to see these Greek guys because they want to come meet you. And then Jesus tells this story. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me. Where I am, my servant will also be. My father will honor the one who serves me. He doesn't even answer their question. But what he's preparing them for is, guys, it's going to be different. From this point on, it's going to be different. And then he tells them the story about this wheat. As you know, with any seed or whatever, you take a seed, it's a single seed. And you it's almost like a it's almost like a burial. Well, it is a burial, right? Dig in the dirt, you put the seed in, and you cover it just the same as we would if we were, you know, interring an individual or whatever. So, the metaphor Jesus uses is saying it dies. Now we know you know, the seed isn't dead, obviously. It still has the capability of life. But if that seed, if I had just hoped I could make this is the coolest seed ever.


Dana 18:08

So, I have a bird feeder in my backyard, right? And I put the I put the bird seed in there. It's this mix of bird seed. And I'm sitting on my patio yesterday. And this I and I can hear something like it's like it's raining. And I'm like what's going on? And I can, I can see the ground and all this bird seeds like falling on the ground. And I'm like, What in the world? And I get up to look and there's a squirrel. And he's, he's digging through the stuff he doesn't want to get the seed he does want because there's sunflower seeds in there and stuff like that. So, all the other stuff he's ...... But then he gets the seed he wants. Oh, that's the one I want. And then he sat there and ....., And it was a baby squirrels only like this big. So, I just let them have it. Whatever. Yeah. So, if I'm like that squirrel, I, this is a cool seed. I love this seed. Seed, it's awesome. I'm never gonna plant it. I'm just gonna hold it. I'm just gonna hold it and enjoy it and look at it and rub it because it's nice and smooth. Is that seed ever gonna produce anything? No, it's not. That seed has to go into the ground and be covered. And then Jesus said, If that happens, and again, he uses a wheat seed because they can understand that it could be any seed. If that happens, it's going to grow, and it's going to produce many seeds. What he was basically saying to them is, if I am going to be put into the ground, it's because I am going to produce many seeds. And in the context of them coming to him and saying these Greek guys want to meet you. What do you think? This was what Jesus was explaining. It's not just about you, 12 dudes, it's not just about, you know, the little villages around Galilee that we've been wandering to. It's now going to be about the whole world. And he's explaining to them that the son of [man] and and then he puts himself in the role of that seed. The son. This is what will happen to the Son of Man. But then he does something that probably shook them up if they understood what he was saying, because he turns around and says to them, the man who loses his life, a man who loves his life will lose it. While the man who hates his life in this world, we'll keep it. And I don't know that Jesus actually meant love and hate there. And like the ..., I hate, you know, my daughter used to do that. You know, she broke a nail, she'd go, I hate my life. That was her like thing, I hate my life. I was just her little exclamation. I don't think Jesus meant it like that. Not that I hate my life. But it's like, do I love this seed so much that I'm just going to hold on to it? Or do I realize a greater truth about life and how life works. And I'm actually going to plant that and release this thing that I think I love, and do what appears if you don't understand the, the, how, you know, planting and harvesting and growing works. It's like, he must hate that seed. It was so beautiful. It was so he you know, he stuck it in the ground. Now he did stick it to the ground. He covered it with dirt. He must you know; he must hate that seed.


Dana 21:14

That's what Jesus was talking about. In your life do you love this life so much, that you're not willing to be broken. Because he was going to be broken. And then he basically says, if you're going to follow me, then you're going where I'm going. And they didn't all the way understand what that meant yet. They were going to understand what he meant about going where I'm going. But they were starting to get it because he was laying out the clues. If you're going to follow me, you're going to go where I'm going to go. If you're going to follow me, you're going to be broken. And that wasn't just for Philip and Andrew, when he said if you're going to follow me, he wasn't just talking to Philip and Andrew. He was talking to all of those that would follow him. If you love this life so much, then you're going to lose it. The oxymoron. Try to save your life, lose it. Give up your life. For my sake, find it. One of those beautiful, awesome oxymorons of faith. You want to save your life lose it? This is the answer that He gives it to Philip and Andrew when they say hey, do you want to meet the Greek guys? Broken to beautiful. What Jesus was explaining in that little metaphor about this he was he was explaining the concept of broken to beautiful. Man, I just want you to think for a minute on those words, those three words broken to beautiful. And I want you to ask God to bring something to your mind where you saw maybe in your own life, maybe something happened to you or maybe somebody around you where you saw broken to beautiful.


Dana 23:02

There was a video that I should have looked this up and I should have Maybe another time we'll do it. But Kevin did this for the youth group. And I'm going to get some of the minor facts wrong. So excuse me that I do this, but it was a video and it was a girls’ softball game. And it was a champ some kind of championship game. And the team that was at bat, ninth inning, bottom of the ninth, two outs. Runner on first; they're down by one run. This girl's up to bat. Last at bat of the game. And this championship on the line. This girl hits a home run two run home run. And as she's leaving the batter's box run to first base, she tears her ACL and falls flat on her face in the dirt. Now the rules of softball are she has to complete the circuit of the bases in order for that run to count. If she can't complete the circuit of bases, she's out and the game is over. Her teammates cannot help her. That's against the rules. They can't come do anything. They can't bring another runner in for her at that point anything. She's laying in the dirt about four feet from first base where she's blown out or ACL in the championship game. The other team's gonna win. Other teams got it, they're gonna win. Two girls from the other team come out onto the field and get on either side of this girl and they pick her up, one under this leg with their arm around this way and another girl on that side. And they walk as you might see in this video? We got we got to show it. They walk this girl around the bases and touch her foot on the base first base, second base, third base home plate and then she gets in an ambulance and goes to the hospital. Those and those girls lost the championship but what did they gain? That young lady that blew out her knee was broken. But that event was beautiful. And without the brokenness, you don't get the beautiful. You know what if she'd hit that home run, and traipsed around those bases, and jumped into the arms of her teammates at home plate as she crossed the plate, that would have been a wonderful moment for them, and for their fans and their family and whatever. And then the next day, that moment would have been gone. And life would have continued. But I'm talking about something that's five years ago, six years ago. This happened five or six years ago, and I'm talking about it right now.


Dana 25:41

Brokenness in Christ leads to beauty. And we curse brokenness, don't we? We do. We avoid it. We don't want it when we're in it. All we want is out of it. Brokenness brings beauty. Sweetly Broken, one of my favorite songs. Total oxymoron. Total oxymoron. Think about it. I'm sweetly broken, I'd rather not be sweetly broken, I'd rather be sweetly whole. Yeah, sweetly broken is one of those beautiful oxymorons. He makes beautiful things out of the dust. Oxymoron.


Dana 26:23

I've had the privilege in my life of helping to facilitate some sweetly broken moments. And want to tell you just two stories. So when I was at World World Vision was a World Vision many, many, many years. And and I was a new fundraiser, you know, I moved from I had a career in human resources. And I decided I wanted to switch careers. And I went into fundraising. And I remember having like the dark night of the soul, when you like, switch your career, I know you switched careers, you know, that feeling? And I remember talking to a buddy at work, and I said, Oh my gosh, man, I think I made a big mistake. Because I was like the expert at World Vision, human resources. I mean, everybody came to me for everything. And I wrote all the policies. I mean, I did all that stuff. And I walked away from that and thought I was going to be this fundraiser. And so, I'm telling this guy, oh, man, I think I made a big mistake. I made this career suicide, what am I doing? And he asked me to go, so you feel inadequate untrained, ill equipped, blah blah blah why go to all of those things. He goes, you're right where God wants you. Best word I ever got in my life. So, I was like, Okay, and so I took this job. And I remember the boss that hired me. It was a brand-new department. They were just starting this new fundraising thing. And I went in there, and I, here's what I expected. This is what happened when they bring in new fundraisers. They go, here's your list of donors. And this is the group that you work. And this is you know, what you do, and you raise money from these folks, and blah, blah, blah, it's like, okay, great. Well, that's what I thought was gonna happen. So, I walk in, and she like goes, there's no list. That this group has no donors. We have to just do it from scratch. So, I'm like, Wow. Okay. And you know, what I knew that when they bring a new fundraiser in into the established fundraising areas, they had about 18, they weren't expected to hit any kind of an income goal for about 18 months, because that's how I took to find your feet and build relationships. These are major gifts, like gifts that are, you know, five figures, six figures, that's how long that took. And I knew I knew my organization well enough to know that they didn't have a lot of patience when you weren't hitting goals. And I thought, Oh, my goodness, this is something. So, I thought, okay, I just got to figure this out, I'm going to do this. So, I was really good friends with the person that ran the Phone Center at World Vision. I said, here's what I want you to do. Any phone call, you get that you don't know where to send it, because World Vision at all these programs, right sponsorship and clean water and.... on this. And you know, people call in, you know, they knew where to send those. But occasionally somebody will call in, you're like, Oh, I don't know where to send this call what this person wants to do. And I told them, I said, anytime you get that call, send it to me. And I used to call that panning the ore. I would pan the ore to find the diamonds, right? There were diamonds. There were diamonds. There was a lot of ore too. But there were diamonds. And so this one day, I get a message from the phone center. And so, we got a phone call from this truck driver in Gig Harbor and he wants to talk to somebody from World Vision. Can you give him a call? Yeah, so I actually he was close to Gig Harbor said why don't you know why don't you come on, and let's have coffee? And we sat down and his name was Mark Wagner. This was 2000, 2000 maybe? I took the job in 2000. So, it's probably that year. And so, Mark and I have coffee and Mark was 30 37 years old, I believe, truck driver. And again, this was in the early 2000s. Mark had a failed valve in his heart.


Dana 29:59

Now that surgery now is like an appendix surgery. I mean, they replaced valves now all the time and the success rate is, what is it Toby 98% or something probably. That's become a very standard surgery. In 2000, it wasn't. The survival rate was the success rate was about 50/50. The survival rate was not, you know, wouldn't make you optimistic. Let's put it that way. And so, Mark had had to have this surgery. So, he goes in, and he has the surgery, and it's a success. Mark's a Christian. Yeah, it's a success. And Mark says, Man, I got it. Because what was happening was he was he was tired. He couldn't, he couldn't, you know, he would walk, you know, six feet, and he have to sit down. And because this blood wasn't circulating properly, and they told him unless you have this surgery, you're probably not going to live. And so, Mark went had the surgery. And so, Mark said, I just wanted to celebrate life. And so he goes, I ran a marathon, I trained, and I ran a marathon. And he was the first person ever to run a marathon after this surgery. That was awesome and so, and he told me, he goes, I ran that marathon for me. He goes, I want to run the next one for God. And I said, was that mean? He says, I want to run a marathon. He said, I want to use that marathon to raise money to help the poor. Can you help me? We have any program. And by this awesome woman that worked for me to get to know the world, Lori Humphreys Laurie was my Lori was the brains I was the good looks. Lori was the brains, basically. And so, we said I was just so taken with him. And I just said, because he told me he goes, I've called the American Heart Association. I've called I've got this is when racing for charity was very, nobody was doing it. There was a few really small ones out there. But there there really wasn't that. And so, I said, Well, Mark, we're gonna figure out so he says, I'm signed up for an event in Vancouver Washington or Vancouver, Vancouver, Canada, no, Victoria, Victoria, Canada. I'm going to run this marathon. And that's the thing. So, Lori, and I put our heads together, like we got to help this guy realize his dream. So, we had nothing automated. Well, we made up forms that he could take. And he went and spoke in churches and told people what he wanted to do. And people would fill out a sponsorship form to sponsor, you know, Mark in his marathon. And we tied it to children suffering from HIV AIDS in Africa. So that's what his money was going to go towards. And so, the day of the race came, and so my [wife] Grace went with me, great. We and Karen Cardis, a really, really good colleague of mine at World Vision, we all went up to Victoria to watch Mark run. And Mark ran his marathon. And I think he raised you know, $8,000, just on these forums, going to churches, asking people to sponsor him. And that was awesome. And so, we had this little debrief with Mark afterwards. Invited him in the office, and I wanted him to meet certain people, you know, and so with this little debrief, and so we can do that at a lunch, and I'm thinking we're done. You know, Mark, awesome job. And this always happens to me. And then Mark pulls me aside and he goes, Dana, there's tens of 1000s of people like me who would do this for charity, if they had something that they could plug into and do. And then he challenged me. He said, there's thousands of us out there. And so long story short, Lori and I and Karen created this program called Team World Vision, which allowed athletes that we're doing any kind of, of athletic activity, to be able to create a website, you know, now this is as common as you know, mashed potatoes, create a website, ask people to sponsor you online, and then go run your race. And Team World Vision at World Vision is going to celebrate its 20th anniversary next year. It's the largest faith-based racing charity in the world. From Mark Wagner. From this one guy. They actually wrote a magazine article on him. They called him runner zero. He was the he was the very first guy from one seed, a guy a 35 year old truck driver with a bad heart. That's who God would pick though, isn't it? God wouldn't pick some Olympian or whatever. God would pick the 35-year-old truck driver with the bad heart. And out of one seed became many. World Vision now uses that program to raise money for clean water. And they've provided clean water for hundreds of 1000s of people around the world through these races that people run. Broken to beautiful.


Dana 34:48

So, I'll tell you about one more person, somebody that's really dear. Her name is Kelly Sim. Kelly. Her husband Jonathan worked with me at World Vision for many, many years. And several years. This was oh, gosh, how many years ago was this? This is probably about 2004 2005. There was a severe famine in North Korea. I mean, people were dying by the thousands every day and World Vision was doing. It was a very tenuous, very dangerous, very controversial program to provide feeding for starving people in North Korea because North Korea is the enemy, right? But, you know, Jesus, what does Jesus say to do with your enemies? Feed them love them, right. So, Jonathan was constantly flying from Seattle to Korea, to monitor and do this cross border feeding program. And Jonathan got a blood clot in his leg that you can get from sitting on these long flights. And the blood clot moved, broke loose from his leg and it went to his brain. And he lost consciousness and was taken to the hospital. And I got a phone call. Jonathan's in the hospital. And so, I go to the hospital. And Kelly, his wife meets me outside and she says, I need to talk to you privately. So, I said, okay. So, I didn't know Kelly that well, I knew Jonathan really well, Kelly and I met a few times, but I didn't know her that well. And so, Kelly pulled me aside and she said, I have to go into the room and make the decision to take him off the life support machine. She said, I have to go do that right now. Because she says there's no brain activity, there's no hope. And, you know, she's telling me this, and I'm like, What? And she said, I want his life to count for something. And she said, so we have 14 sponsored children that they would did as a family. He said, Would you look at our, the villages where our children are, would you find a village that needs a school, and I want to build a school in my husb... And this is while our husband is still on life support. And she's got to go in and, and they have two small kids, and their kids were two and four at the time. And she said, I want you to find me a village that needs a school and I want to build a school in my husband's name. And so, I gave her a hug, Kelly went in, they took Jonathan off life support. I went back to World Vision, looked up their donor record, saw the villages, grabbed a buddy named David Shaiman from the Africa region, and said, help me find something. And so, there was there these these prospective projects that would be written by these different programs around the world. And there was a Chikanta, Zambia, there was a little village that needed a high school. They had no high school, and the kids would have to walk 15 miles to the nearest High School. So, they would walk on Monday, 15 miles, go to high school. Stay in abandoned huts and houses and then walk back on Friday. That's how they did school. And so this village, this community needed a high school. So we got in touch with that community told them kind of the story. They say we will name it the Jonathan Sim Legacy School. And Kelly, Jonathan had a life insurance policy, Kelly tithes out of his life insurance policy, got the ball rolling, she did fundraising brought... I'll tell you that's that's a whole other story brought some other fundraisers in alongside of Kelly. And we were able to go to Zambia and cut the ribbon on that on that high school. And it's still there today, the Jonathan Sim Legacy High School. From broken to beautiful. And now these kids, it's one of the most modern high schools because Kelly wanted to do. It's got solar power. They have labs so the kids can do science. It's one of the it's one of it is in the middle of nowhere. I mean, Chikanta is nowhere-ville. But this beautiful high solar powered High School is in this community. And it's just an amazing and amazing place from broken to beautiful, from broken and beautiful.


Dana 39:09

I want to read you guys just to close this want to read you guys a story. This may be my favorite of all the ones that I've written. But this one, this story is called Broken Teacups. And I just want you to think broken teacups. And I just want you to think about that concept of broken to beautiful as I read this story to you, okay?


Dana 39:40

Psalm 3417 through 18 says the righteous cry out and the Lord hears them. He delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. He's talking about us. This isn't stuff He does for other people. He's talking about us.


Dana 40:00

Once there was a little house set on a country lane, some might call it ordinary, nondescript or plain but that would be deceiving. For in truth, we all know well, sometimes the simplest dwellings have the grandest tales to tell. And so, it is this morning as we venture through the door and to a lovely parlor with exquisite oaken floors. A room that's set aside, exclusive, proper, and held dear, considered extra special by the lady living here. This space so intimate has felt her decorator's touch from the fine handcrafted table to the maple china hutch. Resplendent in simplicity and always clean and neat, it serves as her daydreaming place, asylum and retreat. For here upon a papered wall, a shelf is firmly hung, holding treasured symbols, memories to which she's clung. Fragile, dainty teacups, quite exotic and antique. Each could tell a charming tale if only they could speak of 40 years of marriage, as her thoughts cascade and drift to her kind and thoughtful husband, Jim, and unexpected gifts. Teacups were her favorites. He'd surprised and he'd say I bought this for my darling just because it's Saturday. They'd laugh and he would hold her. Then he'd whisper in her ear. Each time you see your teacups, know how much I love you, Dear. All those special moments had become this fine collection. Precious now that she was left with only recollections. Illness in its time had finally overcome her Jim. And so she loved her tea cups, for they made her think of him.


Dana 42:07

Down the road a mile or so from where resides our lady lives a quiet shy young man whose given name is Brady. Brady is an artist. Well, at least he tries to be, painting portraits, landscapes, sometimes selling two or three. His art income is modest, nothing left for fun or frills. Commissions are infrequent and they rarely pay the bills. And so, he chases other work, odd jobs that may arise bringing in the money for his paint and art supplies. Today he'll be a handyman for someone he adores. The lady living down the lane. He'll wash and wax her floors. She keeps him rather busy, and he suspects the reason why has more to do with loneliness than skills he will apply. Every week she has a task. It could be lawn or gutters, fix and oil a hinge upon a squeaky door or shutter. She'll call him to the parlor there present his modest fee. Invite him to sit down a while and have a cup of tea. She'll ask about his painting, any news of sales or shows and what he's done and doing those she well already knows. For each of them their solitude these moments interrupt and Brady fancies tea with her out of her fancy cups.


Dana 43:36

Arriving at the front door Brady smiles and rings the bell. Our lady quickly answers in a voice that he knows well. Moving to the parlor as they visit and they chat, she gets a mop and bucket while he hangs his coat and hat. She tells him she'll be upstairs changing sheets and pillowcases and he can wax the parlor till they both can see their faces. They share a hearty laugh. She mounts the stairs, adjusts her shawl, and Brady moves the furniture from parlor into Hall. He's just a bit distracted as he clears the chairs away. He's thinking about the painting that he started yesterday. The color scheme he chosen, the dimensions and the scale. He dips the wrinkled mop head and the warm and soapy pale.


Dana 44:27

Perhaps a different texture, I could finger paint he jokes and starts to move the mop around with long and sweeping strokes. As he ponders whether oils would contribute or corrupt, he barely missed the edge that holds the saucers in the cups. Pulling back the handle, elbow cocked and carried high he barely missed the edge as he conceives a painted sky. While planning where the clouds he'll paint will fade from gray to black, he pulls upon the mop and takes one fateful half step back.


Dana 45:10

The handle hits that shelf just like a swinging wrecking ball and lifts it from the hangers fastened to the parlor wall. Floating for a nanosecond frozen in midair, the shelf and cups and saucers almost seems suspended there. But this is not enchantment, or a wizard’s magic hex. No spell can change or alter what is going to happen next. Brady with a face as white as England's Cliffs of Dover watches helplessly as fate and gravity take over. And 40 years of memories of love's exquisite lore of time and tears and tenderness come crashing to the floor. Brady stands immobile, unbelieving in despair, as quick and urgent footsteps loudly echo down the stairs. Then moving to the door while Bray then moving to the doorway there to stand with mouth agape, the lady let's a mournful Oh, and choking cries escape. Brady cannot find his words for what heartfelt expression do you utter when you smash someone's most prized possessions? I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, hung ineptly in the air. The lady moved unsteadily to sit upon a chair. Maybe I can fix them. I'll go get a broom and a box and broom. Brady leaves the mop and pail and rushes from the room. Running back and urgency and sweating like an ox Brady gently sweeps the shattered pieces in a box.


Dana 46:55

He turns to face the lady where she sits with wounded grace. Tears have left the grist glistening trail of grief upon her face. I have glue and towels and tweezers and a magnifying glass. He's stammering and stumbling speaking anxiously and fast. I know it looks impossible, but maybe I he pled then carried in mid sentence when she sadly shook her head. Brady, as she choked her words, her voice had cheerless grown. There's nothing you can do now. And I think you should go home. He stood there just so miserable. His feet like granite blocks. Stiffly he extends his hands and offers her the box. No, she said now distantly defeat infused her eyes. Please dispose of that for me. Then bowed her head. Goodbye.


Dana 48:00

Time, the plodding healer. In the nights and days gone by hasn't yet removed or dulled the thoughts that made her cry. It's not the loss of things themselves. No, that was not the treasure. 'Twas what they brought and mood and the thought that always was the pleasure. And now there's just an emptiness, an effort to recall the beauty that once found itself there on her parlor wall. She knows that gloom and moping won't reverse these aching hours and so she plans to spend the day outside amidst her flowers. Putting on her bonnet and a pair of gardening gloves she ambles to the porch to leave the thoughts of things she loved.


Dana 48:50

Standing in her doorway, something there catches her eye, sitting on the topmost step in paper wrapped and tied. She lifts it from the platform holds it firmly in her hands, is pulled back in the house by curiosities demands. Entering the parlor on the table sets the thing, retrieves a pair of scissors, oh, so gently cuts the strings, tears the wrapping paper where it's firmly taped behind. Then stares in silent wander as amazement fills her mind. A beautiful mosaic lies within the lacquered frame. A single ornate teacup is the image there ordained. Reds and blues and turquoise seem to shimmer and to dance. Appearing carved by purpose with purpose and not fragmented by chance. Skillfully assembled by an artist's loving hand, she's never seen a work of art so elegant. so grand. She leans upon the table for a careful, closer gaze, and what she then discovers she'll remember all her days. A gasp of exaptation from a joyous heart erupts. This masterpiece is fashioned from her broken, shattered cups. And lying with the paper, something she'd not seen before, a small and sealed envelope, the front her name had bore. Removing a handwritten card, she teared up as she read words that touched her very soul. And here's what it said, My friend, I'm just so sorry for my awful careless act. I made 1000 wishes that the deed I could retract. But knowing I can never change the past and make it right, I hope that you'll accept this gift that peace it will invite. I trust that God most merciful does surely understand. He takes our broken pieces and within his loving hands, the fragments that are jagged, sharp, unusable, discarded, when rearranged by Him, become redeemed and well regarded. So may this humble effort made of porcelain and glass reminds you that his faithfulness will comfort you and last. These words brought such tranquility and healing to Our Lady. For at the bottom, it was signed, Affectionately, Brady.


Dana 51:34

She finds herself emerging from the sadness that encased her and feels as if Almighty God himself had just embraced her. Now filled with new excitement she attends to one detail, bringing to the parlor, both a hammer and a nail. Placed with great intention as her gloom and sorrow flea, she hangs the bright mosaic where her tea cups used to be. She wouldn't trade this gift for all the paintings in the Louvre and knows within her heart of hearts that Jim, he would approve. With joy as her companion, she retrieves the card and pen smiling to herself, she thinks about a special friend. Then sitting in her parlor, there is no place she'd rather be. She starts a note, Dear Brady, won't you have come, won't you come and have some tea.


Dana 52:33

From broken from broken to beautiful, amen. God is the master artist. And and what we think is broken and shattered and unusable and destroyed and unfortunate and pick your adjective, in the hands of a master artists, God will take those broken pieces, and reassemble and that's what that song means, Sweetly Broken. That's what it means the our brokenness rearranged by the master artist into something beautiful. Isn't that awesome? That's what God does. And that's his promise for every one of us. Broken to beautiful. Lord, we just thank you that you are you are the God of oxymorons. You don't conform. The the world just doesn't recognize you doesn't understand you thank you so much that you give us a chance to get a glimpse of who you are, that our brokenness can become so beautiful, when we offer it to you. So Lord, I just would ask that wherever we are, in our lives today that we offer all that we are whether it's we're feeling joy and wholeness or whether we're feeling brokenness, and and that shattered feeling. God may we look with confidence to the master artist who is going to rearrange the pieces of our lives into something incredibly beautiful, not just for us, but for the world as well. For if the seed dies, and falls and it is buried, it will grow again and it will bear much fruit. Thank you that you let us be a part of your kingdom. In Jesus name. Amen. Amen. Be joyful. As you go today broken beauty. Amen. Amen, amen.


Jan 54:35

If what you've heard today inspires you to want to make a difference. I urge you to explore the Sew Powerful website at www dot Sew that's SEWPOWERFUL dot ORG. The website has great information about the organization. It's where you can download the free purse patterns or even make a donation. We hope you will join us again next week when we bring you another Sew Powerful story. Thanks for listening. Now, go out and have a Sew Powerful day.


Myra Lehmann Reporting From Sweden

The guest on today's podcast is the Sew Powerful co-founder, Jason Miles. Rather than an interview format, we are sharing the sermon Jason delivered to his church in July 2021. Using John, Chapter 11 as the basis of his sermon, the next 30 minutes or so will delight you as Jason weaves contemporary life into the story of Jesus’ love for Mary and Martha at the time of Lazarus’ death. And Jason wraps it up by helping us understand how Jesus loves each of us.


Sweden, University of Arizona at Tucson, hybrid barley, American girl doll, Ikea closet system, Qigong, Tai Chi, Vasa Order of America, growing pumpkins and strawberries, Bisquick muffin recipe, Louis’ pumpkin patch


Host: Jan Cancila

Guest: Myra Lehmann


We are Sew Powerful, How a Global Community of Seamstresses Is Changing Zambia One Girl at A Time, 2nd edition. By Jason G. Miles and Cinnamon, © 2016 & 2020 Jason G. Miles and Cinnamon, all rights reserved.

University of Arizona,

Ikea closet system,


Tai Chi,

Vasa Order of America,

Betty Crocker/Bisquick muffin recipe,


Jan Cancila, Host 00:04

Welcome to the Sew Powerful podcast. This is your host, Jan Cancila. You know the sound of my sewing machine means it's time for another episode. So, let's get started.


Jan 00:20

Hello. Today we are going to be speaking with a purse maker who lives in Europe and she's going to tell us exactly where in just a moment. You are going to meet Myra Lehmann who is very active in her adopted home country, and she practices Tai Chi. She's a baker. She's a purse maker, and she is just a wealth of knowledge. So, let's get right to it. Hello, Myra. How are you?


Myra Lehmann, Guest 00:48

Hi, Jan. I'm just fine.


Jan 00:50

Well, end the suspense. Where are you speaking to us from today?


Myra 00:55

From Sweden. The city we live in now is Skovde. By train takes us two hours to get to Stockholm.


Jan 01:04

Well okay, since you're in Sweden, say hello to everyone in Swedish if you don't mind.


Myra 01:10

Sure. Hej all val Komna till Sverige. I said Hello, everyone. Welcome to Sweden.


Jan 01:18

Oh, that's lovely. So where are you from originally?


Myra 01:24

I'm a Hoosier. I was born in Indianapolis, Indiana.


Jan 01:28

So, the area that you live in, in Sweden, how would you describe the topography? What is it like? What is the weather like?


Myra 01:37

Strangely enough if I talk about the climate, it often mirrors what is in Indiana, except that our summers do not get as hot.


Jan 01:48

Interesting. Now Myra, you live in an apartment in Sweden? I can see, and I know our listeners can't, but I can see your very cozy sewing alcove right there. Can you describe what you have and how you set that up?


Myra 02:04

Yes. Well, I call it my sewing nook.


Jan 02:07



Myra 02:08

And it's an Ikea closet that you can put either shelves or you can hang things in.   And it's double doors, and then they have something called a pullout drawer. And when I close the doors, then it's a mirror. I have a wall of mirrors here. I can sit here day or night. And so, and if somebody comes and I want to put things away. All I do is close the doors.


Jan 02:37

Well, that's very clever. I see a bunch of red notebooks up there. Tell us what those are for.


Myra 02:43

Yes, they are filled with patterns from Pixie Faire. Like many other people I discovered Pixie faire years ago, started sewing as many others start started sewing American Girl doll clothes for our two granddaughters. For the first Christmas after they got their dolls, I had all of these original American Girl doll patterns, and they each got to choose one of the girls. And our oldest granddaughter chose Kiersten which is a Swedish girl. So, she has the whole Kiersten wardrobe and the other one has Samantha's and then I got to looking for patterns and the rest is history.


Jan 03:31

Well, absolutely. Okay. Well, we're gonna get into a lot more about sewing here in just a minute. But I want you to talk a little bit about how did you end up in Sweden? Why Sweden and when?


Myra 03:42

Well, we have been here since 1972. I met my husband at the University of Arizona in Tucson. And I was right out of high school and got a job there and as a secretary in the College of Agriculture. And he was a grad student at the time working on his master's, and and we got married. And further down the line, there had been someone visiting from Sweden, in Tucson, and when he came back to Sweden, he was supposed to start a research project working on of all things, hybrid barley. And then as soon as he got back here, he was promoted to head of the department. So, they were looking for someone to take over this program. And he knew that he had worked with Louis at the time. And he heard through the grapevine that Louis was working for a job and so Louis was offered to come to Sweden for a year and start up this research project, get it going. After a year, if it was going good, we it would either be extended or either part could say goodbye. So, we said, okay, we can do that for a year. And our daughter, we have one daughter, she was not quite two at the time. So, we said, Yeah, well, we can stay a maximum of five years because we want to get back to the states before she started school. Well, famous last words. We're still living here. Well, she lives here. That's why we live here.


Jan 05:36

Oh, gotcha.


Myra 05:37

We can walk to her house in about 20 minutes.


Jan 05:40

Oh, very nice. Well, okay. So, besides your family, you keep busy with quite a few other activities. Yeah. Explain to us what Qigong is.


Myra 05:51

Well, I lead groups in both Qigong and Tai Chi, and Qigong is slow exercise. If you think of Tai Chi as being slow, Qigong is also slow. The difference is that in Tai Chi, you're moving, and you do things in a certain sequence. Whereas in Qigong, you just do one thing several times, and then you'll do another thing.


Jan 06:19



Myra 06:19

How many people think it's easier to do Qigong, but Tai Chi, I teach for fall prevention.


Jan 06:27

Oh, nice. Very nice. Okay. And you also belong to another group. And I might not be pronouncing this correctly. But is it Vasa Order of America?


Myra 06:36

Yes. And that is a friendship organization between Sweden and the United States. If we go back to the beginning of the 20th century, in the late 1900s, there were actually more Swedes living in New York City than in Stockholm. There was a huge migration from Sweden. And it's much the same reason as why people went from Ireland. They were having difficulty growing enough food for everyone. And someone went to the states, sent back these terrific letters about how great it was. And a lot of them went up to Minnesota and found areas that reminded them of Sweden, and hey, at that time, free land, they could become farmers and own their land.


Jan 07:32

Well and now speaking of farm, I've seen something on your Facebook page called Louis’ Pumpkin Patch. Explain who is Louis and what is his pumpkin patch?


Myra 07:42

Well, Louis is my husband. And he has been growing pumpkins since he was 10 years old in California. And ever since then that's been his hobby. So, he started growing pumpkins when we lived down in southern Sweden, and there he had quite a large area. And we had difficulty getting rid of all of them because this was his hobby. It wasn't his day job. And he didn't grow just pumpkins for Halloween. He would have over 200 different varieties


Jan 08:18

Oh, my goodness.


Myra 08:19

at one time, and he's grown probably 300 altogether. But today, it has gone down. After we moved here, we've been along on a harvest festival at the end of every September. And it has been the place to go for people who wanted pumpkins or winter squash. In Sweden, everything that we would call winter squash they call pumpkins. So that's all.


Jan 08:45

Why don't we take a quick break and listeners have a paper and pencil ready because when we get back, Myra is going to share her recipe for strawberry muffins, and she posted a picture. They look so delicious. You're going to be surprised with the main ingredient is so let's take a break. Listen, listen to our message here but get your paper and pencil ready. So, we'll be back in just one minute.


Jan 09:12

Have you gotten the second edition of the We Are Sew Powerful book? This updated version of the original bestseller, 4.9 out of five stars by the way, is again authored by Sew Powerful co-founders, Jason and Cinnamon Miles. It is available on Amazon in paperback or for your Kindle reader. This latest edition is packed full of moving stories about how Sew Powerful came to be, the volunteers who make it happen, and the way this small movement has grown into a global mission to break the cycle of poverty through education and the dignity of work. And don't forget when you place your order if you use and designate Sew Powerful as your preferred charity. Amazon will donate a portion of your purchase right back to Sew Powerful. And now back to our podcast.


Jan 10:16

Welcome back. We have been speaking with Myra Lehmann, and she is in Sweden, and she has been sharing her very busy life with us. And she's very active on Facebook and posted a lot of really delicious looking baked goods. And so, I'm pressing her for the recipe for her strawberry muffins. So, Myra, tell us about these muffins.


Myra 10:41

Well, I use Bisquick, that's my big secret. And so, you can go on Betty Crocker's homepage and look up Bisquick recipes. And that's it. They have a recipe for berry muffins. And I think that's the one I use. And the reason that I've been making strawberry muffins is that I showed you what our balcony looks like. And there's a large planter, the whole width of that. And most of ours is taken up by strawberry plants. So, the strawberries I've been using now are from last year's crop. So, I'm trying to empty my freezer before the new ones start coming. Because last year, Louis would go out about every other day and pick about a half a gallon of wonderful, wonderful strawberries, nice and sweet and big. So a lot of them ended up in the freezer, because no way could we eat that many every other day.


Jan 11:43

Oh, my goodness. Well, okay, now, how has COVID affected life in Sweden, and how has it impacted your ability to travel to the United States?


Myra 11:56

Well, as far as traveling to the United States, we were headed there when COVID hit and when the boundaries were closed to the United States, we were supposed to fly to Texas just a couple of weeks after that. We consider ourselves lucky. Lucky that we fastened on this side of the Atlantic so that we could be at home. But we would have spent time there. And then we were going to take a cruise back. And that cruise was also cancelled.


Myra 12:30

As far as affecting, yes, it has had an impact. But we haven't had any complete shutdowns as a lot of places have had. The only thing that's been completely shut down have been the elderly care homes, because some of them were hit very hard in the very beginning. But we haven't been wearing masks. It's only been more recently that they asked us to have masks on if we're on public transportation. A lot of people will will wear masks to the grocery store. And we have found a time to go shopping when no one else is there or very few people. And the only others we see are other retirees. And we're all usually wearing masks. There has been no law. I know we spent some time in Spain now over Christmas to New Year. And there it was the law. As soon as you went out the door you had a mask on. And here it's more if there's a crowd, if there's more people. Where we live, we're close to very nice walking paths and nature. So, you see people out walking, and we meet our neighbors outside and say hi and everything.


Jan 13:50

I saw before a tub of purses that you had intended to bring to the United States that you've been making. So, tell us a little bit about your involvement with Sew Powerful. How did you hear about it to begin with?


Myra 14:03

Well, the same as I know other people have heard. It was somehow through Pixie Faire. If it was in one of their emails, I can't remember. But I saw something about it. And I started looking at it. So I decided to make some purses and take with me to the states. So those were the first ones I took. And I thought it was a great ministry. And the thing that caught my eye was the fact that you're helping them to help themselves. You're not just giving them money; you're just giving them things. They produce their own things. And as you know, it's a viable enterprise.


Jan 14:50

Sure. And so, you were taking the purses back to the United States because it was more economical to ship them within country. Is that right?


Myra 14:59

Yes, that's part of it. And right now, I've been considering shipping. But the past year, the mail between Sweden and the United States, it's taken a month for just a regular letter to get back and forth. So, put them in the in the bottom of my suitcase, whatever suitcases we have. And then I bring new supplies back.


Jan 15:23

Well, that's very cool. Well, and I do want to say that we do have in some countries, a purse collector, so that you can mail within country and then the purse collector consolidates and ships them all to the United States, usually in the fall of the year, or when she gets a good quantity. So, I don't know if it's better for you to ship to Sandy Simm in the UK, or Elaine Swords in Scotland. But we do have, you know, those couple of options. Do you have any advice or suggestions for listeners who are international? What rewards and what challenges might they face by being a part of Sew Powerful? What have you experienced?


Myra 16:08

Well, I think my reward is I enjoy sewing as everyone else does. I don't need any clothes anymore. And of course, I sew a lot of doll clothes still. But it's something that I feel that I'm helping someone, and if I can help keep even one girl in school, that's a win. And I've been rereading the Sew Powerful book. I bought it when it very first came out, I was one of the first ones to download the Kindle version. And so I've been rereading that now. And I just agree with everything that's in that book. My one, if you want to call it a problem. The Swedes are very good at English. If you meet anyone, I would say 50 or under, their English is going to be extremely good. But people who are 65 and older here didn't start learning English until they were older. Here they start learning English in school, and I think it's a third grade. And of course, they hear English all the time. So that's part of life. But like I say, when you get the older ones and the ones that I would be talking to about sewing, I would have to tell them in Swedish. I actually sent the pattern to one of my Tai Chi participants. And I know that she has done one purse.


Jan 17:45

Oh nice.


Myra 17:45

And I think she'll continue but right now she's at a at her summer cottage. So, I'm anxious to see how she followed the instructions. And she got the size right and all that. Because here we use centimeters. And of course, if you cut out the pattern, you have that. But if you're using a rotary cutter, you're going more by measurements.


Jan 18:09



Myra 18:10

And I'm anxious to see if she got the strap the right length. I told her what it was in centimeters. And so I would have to explain all of these things. If I go somewhere, I very seldom use a purse. But if I'm going to use a purse, I grab one of the Sew Powerful purses and take it with me. And if I get a chance, I tell about it. And so, I've had several people here, give me fabrics to use to make purses.


Jan 18:39

Oh how nice. Very nice. Well, Myra, I want to thank you so much for your time and sharing your fascinating life and background. Oh, my goodness, and you know, I often say since I've retired, I've never been busier in my life, and that probably applies to you as well.


Myra 18:57

I worked 20 years in a bank here in Sweden. And it seemed like, you know, I come home from work, and I would sew in the evening I sewed all my daughter's clothes. I sewed shirts for Louis. And you see big tears on his face today because I haven't sewn him a shirt in, I don't know when, and he's wondering when too.


Jan 19:21

Keep making purses.


Myra 19:23

Yes, yes. And it just seems like I honestly don't know how I ever had time to work, because I do have a lot to keep me busy. And I have not been bored one single day since the pandemic started.


Jan 19:36

Well, that's right. Well, Myra, again, thank you so much. It's been a joy to speak with you. We look forward to seeing your posts in Facebook.


Myra 19:44



Jan 19:45

All right, bye-bye.


Myra 19:46

Thank you, bye-bye.


Jan 19:50

If what you've heard today inspires you to want to make a difference, I urge you to explore the Sew Powerful website at That's SEWPOWERFUL dot ORG. The website has great information about the organization. It's where you can download the free purse patterns or even make a donation. We hope you will join us again next week when we bring you another Sew Powerful story. Thanks for listening. Now, go out and have a Sew Powerful day.


Bountiful Blessings with Chris McMullen

Putting her passion for sewing to good use, Chris McMullen has found a very creative outlet for marrying Sew Powerful, her teaching experience and reaching out to her own community. Listen as a very new Regional Coordinator inspires us with ideas to help, not only the girls in Zambia, but how that same vehicle trains women in her hometown who need to learn to sew as a way to support themselves, bringing blessings in a Sew Powerful full circle.


Teacher in a two room school house, Missouri Regional Coordinator, Kansas City Area, Missouri Star Quilt Company, The Sewing Lab, American Girl doll, sewing for charity, retired teacher,


Host: Jan Cancila
Guest: Chris McMullen


We are Sew Powerful, How a Global Community of Seamstresses Is Changing Zambia One Girl at A Time, 2nd edition. By Jason G. Miles and Cinnamon, © 2016 & 2020 Jason G. Miles and Cinnamon, all rights reserved.

Missouri Star Quilt Company,

The Sewing Labs,


Jan Cancila, Host 00:04

Welcome to the Sew Powerful podcast. This is your host, Jan Cancila. You know the sound of my sewing machine means it's time for another episode. So, let's get started.


Jan 00:20

Today we are speaking with a brand-new Regional Coordinator. Chris McMullen comes to us with a wealth of experience and some very innovative ideas. And she's already put them into practice. You're going to love learning about Chris, her background, her family, her very interesting childhood, but how she has applied all of that to Sew Powerful. So today, we're very excited and happy to speak with Chris McMullen. Hi, Chris, how are you today?


Chris McMullen, Guest 00:51

Thank you. I'm very well, thank you. Thanks for such a nice introduction.


Jan 00:55

Oh, you're more than welcome. We're very excited to talk with you and learn all about you. So where do you live? Where are we talking to you today from?


Chris 01:03

I live in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri. We're right in the middle of the United States. Not smack dab, there's a few miles to the west is the exact center of the continent, but we're a metropolitan area. Today it's sunny and hot and the way it's supposed to be in the summertime.


Jan 01:23

Yeah. Nice. And where are you from originally?


Chris 01:27

Well, I was born in Nebraska, which is not far from Missouri. But my dad worked for a natural gas pipeline company, and so he was transferred quite a bit when I was a kid. So I've lived in the Midwest United States most of my life and as a child, too. We lived in Nebraska and Iowa and Minnesota.


Jan 01:46

All right, all the Midwest


Chris 01:48

Midwest states.


Jan 01:49

Yes, Midwest states. Well and I'm originally from Missouri, and I have family in Kansas City. And I'm planning a trip to Kansas City around November, and we plan to get together and meet in person. So, this is very exciting. So, I'm really looking forward to that.


Chris 02:08

So am I.


Jan 02:09

Yeah, thank you. So, what was family like for you growing up? You made some moves. How did that affect you as a child? And did you have siblings? And what was that all like?


Chris 02:20

I have one older brother. And yeah, it was hard to make the moves, but my mom and dad always made it made it work. And we had friends every place, and they especially kept contact with with their friends as we moved around. I graduated from high school in Kansas, and I'd only been there two years, but it all worked out.


Jan 02:42

Yeah, yeah. And so, after high school, did you pursue a career or continue at your education? What did you do?


Chris 02:50

I went to college after high school, and I got a degree in elementary education.


Jan 02:55

Oh, nice.


Chris 02:56

I started teaching right away, and I never stopped until a year ago.


Jan 03:00

Oh my gosh. So, you were a teacher from the time you graduated from college to last year? Yeah. So if somebody were starting out in education now, how different is it for them versus when you first started out? What changes do you see?


Chris 03:19

Well, I have kind of a different story, because my very first year of teaching was in central Nebraska in a small country school. I was one of two teachers for grades kindergarten through eight. I had 14 fifth through eighth graders, and this is my first year of teaching. And I, you know, didn't know what I was doing, but it worked. In fact, I always say that those, I had 6 eighth grade girls out of 14 kids, and they just led me along. You know, they helped me through everything because they'd gone to school there their whole lives and they'd been together. You know, it was before technology. Everything was on the chalkboard or paper and pencil. And then of course, when I left my last two years of teaching, it's after COVID had hit, and I spent teaching virtually. So, there was a big change from the beginning to the end over those 42 years.


Jan 04:10

Oh, my goodness. Now was this original teaching job in like a one room schoolhouse?


Chris 04:16

It was a two-room schoolhouse. Yeah.


Jan 04:17

Wow. Oh my gosh, how interesting that you've spanned such a wide change in the approach to education.


Chris 04:27

I changed sizes of school because my husband at the time was a teacher and a coach too. And we just kept moving up to a little bit bigger places, you know, as we got experience. And so, I went from, you know, that tiny, maybe 30 students in the entire school to, you know, a big suburban school when I retired from public school.


Jan 04:47

Oh my gosh.


Chris 04:48

My last 11 years, after I retired from public, I spent in an Episcopal school, a private Episcopal school.


Jan 04:58

So what is your perception of how your school-aged children took to Zoom. How did they do?


Chris 05:06

Well, I taught after, after my first few years, I spent most of my career teaching middle school.


Jan 05:12

Middle, okay.


Chris 05:13

Well, the 14-year-olds. They did fine. You know, they are so used to technology and have such ready access to it that, you know, being able to conduct the lessons. It was kind of hard at first, you know, those first couple of months, you know, getting assignments in electronically and all those kinds of things, but I know that over time, they pretty much figured it out.


Jan 05:37

Yeah, yeah.


Chris 05:37

So did the teachers.


Jan 05:39

Well, my granddaughters did this last school year virtually, although I think they had some extracurricular activities they did in person, but they, they loved it. They were having snacks on the side, which they normally wouldn't have had in school. So, Chris, when did you learn to sew?


Chris 05:59

Probably, when I was in seventh grade. Seventh grade Home Ec, you know, in the sewing unit. We made an apron.


Jan 06:06

Uh huh.


Chris 06:07

I liked it. My mom always sewed and made all my clothes. And so, I had that experience. But then I took all the Home Ec classes all the way through high school, learned how to make a coat and the final, you know, when I was probably a junior, we tailored. And so, then I've just been sewing ever since.


Jan 06:25

And so did you continue to sew? Because I learned to sew, and I sewed when I was young, and then when I had my kids, my job, I was busy. And then I sort of put it aside, but I, I've come back to it in the last few years.


Chris 06:39

I've always sewn. My high school graduation gift was a sewing machine. And just less than 10 years ago, I bought a new one. So, I sewed on that machine for 40 years, probably. But it went with me everywhere. It was with me in the college dorm. I sewed there. And I sewed clothes for my daughters. I have two girls and made their clothes when they were little. And you know, in the 80s it was okay, because puff sleeves and cute collars and gathers and all those kinds of things. But as they got older, they didn't want Mom making their clothes,


Jan 07:11



Chris 07:11

so, I kind of stopped that.


Jan 07:14

When I went to college, somebody discovered an abandoned sewing machine in the attic of our dorm. And when people found out I could sew, and this was when miniskirts were getting shorter and shorter and shorter. So, I became the alteration person, and I made all my pin money, shortening skirts beyond what most of the mothers would have approved.


Chris 07:37

But they weren't around so it was okay.


Jan 07:41

So you're in Missouri now, in Kansas City. And you know, a lot of people know there's Kansas City, Missouri and Kansas City, Kansas. And I've been there many times and it's just sort of an invisible state line that separates the two, isn't it? So, what brought you to Missouri, originally?


Chris 07:59

Teaching jobs. My husband at the time had a college friend who is from Missouri, and he was a teacher too. And there was a position open, and he called us and we didn't, you know, we just said sure, let's go.


Jan 08:14



Chris 08:14

And we've been here ever since.


Jan 08:16

And when did you come to Missouri?


Chris 08:19



Jan 08:20

  1. So you've you've been there a long time. It must feel like home by now.


Chris 08:25

Oh, yeah.


Jan 08:26

Yeah. And did you come to Kansas City originally?


Chris 08:29

No, originally we went to a small town in southern Missouri, but we went to the Kansas City area in '85 I believe it was, 1985. And we live in in Blue Springs, Missouri. It's a suburb, but


Jan 08:43

Yeah. Yeah. Cool. And do you have children and grandchildren?


Chris 08:51

We do. My husband and I together have four kids. They're all grown. We're lucky they all live in the area.


Jan 08:58

Oh, nice.


Chris 08:59

And each of the four have children. We have seven grandchildren all together, from 16, (she just got her driver's license) and the youngest is three.


Jan 09:09

Wow. Wow. And so, what kind of activities do you do with the grandchildren?


Chris 09:15

Well, my six-year-old granddaughter, she's really excited because she likes to come to Grandma's now and sew. Of course, for the last many months we weren't able to do that. But I, the first time I had her over here after you know we had all had our vaccinations, she wanted to sew, so we made a little quilt for her dolls. And you know, I've sewn for her American Girl dolls. But we have a pool in our backyard and so that's a big magnet in the summertime for everybody to come over.


Jan 09:44

Oh, absolutely. And those Kansas City summers get hot, don't they?


Chris 09:48

They do, and we were so lucky because Memorial Day we had the entire family together for the first time in well over a year.


Jan 09:56

Oh, how wonderful. Oh, that's fantastic. Why don't we take a quick break, Chris, and when we come back let's talk about your involvement with Sew Powerful.


Chris 10:08



Jan 10:13

Have you gotten the second edition of the We Are Sew Powerful book? This updated version of the original best seller, 4.9 out of five stars, by the way, is again authored by Sew Powerful co-founders, Jason and Cinnamon Miles. It is available on Amazon in paperback or for your Kindle reader. This latest edition is packed full of moving stories about how Sew Powerful came to be, the volunteers who make it happen, and the way this small movement has grown into a global mission to break the cycle of poverty through education and the dignity of work. And don't forget, when you place your order, if you use, and designate Sew Powerful as your preferred charity, Amazon will donate a portion of your purchase right back to Sew Powerful. And now back to our podcast.


Jan 11:16

Welcome back. We have been speaking with Chris McMullen, and she's been telling us about her family and her career as a teacher in both elementary and middle school. But as I mentioned in the intro, Chris is a relatively new Regional Coordinator for Sew Powerful, and I want to explore with Chris what led her to that role, and how she's already started doing really great things in that job. So, Chris, how did you hear about Sew Powerful originally?


Chris 11:51

Well, like a lot of people, I was making clothes for American Girl dolls for my granddaughters. I have two of them that were that both got American Girl dolls for Christmas. And I had some old patterns from when my daughters had their American Girl doll. And then I found like some commercially made patterns that I had. And so, I used those to make their Christmas doll clothes. But after Christmas, I was like, oh, there's you know, there's everything on the internet. So, I got online, and I started finding patterns, and I ran across Pixie Faire like people have. And so, I you know, got some patterns there and made and then I saw the tab, you know, the Sew Powerful Purse Project and clicked on it and read about it and immediately got hooked. The purpose is as I read the story, that was the age of girls that I've taught for years and years and years. So, I, you know, I really felt like I was really drawn to the project. And I had also been making bags, tote bags and zipper pouches and things like that for for quite a while.


Jan 12:59

Wow, this seems like a great fit for you.


Chris 13:02

You know, it really is. In my last two years of teaching, I had a sewing elective. And so, I was teaching about eight kids in my class at a time, and it was so much fun to watch these, you know, seventh and eighth graders get really excited about sewing.


Jan 13:18



Chris 13:19

I wish I had seen the project before then because I would have loved to have had them make the purses.


Jan 13:24

Sure, absolutely. And, you know, not many schools these days are offering Home Ec or sewing, and so what a blessing to be able to teach that. That's cool. Well, and I don't know if this is a recent connection, or if you knew about them all along, but there's an organization called The Sewing Lab in Kansas City. Tell us about The Sewing Lab. And then we'll find out what they're doing with us in the Sew Powerful arena.


Chris 13:50

Okay, well, I had never heard of it, but around Christmas time, there was a news story on TV about The Sewing Lab that had bags that they were giving to the homeless. And they were, another company had printed them, but they needed people to sew them. And I thought this is easy, I can do that. So I went down to the lab, you know, found out where it was, checked all that out and got packets of 10, sewed them up. And then as I got to looking at their website and talking to people, they needed volunteers to help sew. But what their program is, is they teach people how to sew, encouraging job growth. And they work with with companies in the Kansas City area too who need people to sew. And a lot of the students are recent immigrants to the United States. They work with an organization, you know, helping to teach English, and it's just a really, really incredible program. I've been really impressed with it.


Jan 14:52

And it's a nonprofit. Is that correct?


Chris 14:55

Yes, sorry, it's a nonprofit.


Jan 14:57

And how are they funded?


Chris 15:00

A lot of it is donation. We had our first fundraiser in May. And you know, we're of course wanting financial donations and, but it it also got the word out. We also work with women to start their own businesses, entrepreneurship.


Jan 15:18

Wow, wow. If you're in the Kansas City area, and you know how to sew, it sounds like you should make a connection with The Sewing Lab.


Chris 15:27

They're great.


Jan 15:28

So after you volunteered on this project around Christmas time, I understand you were talking to them, and you told them you could sew and now all of a sudden, you're no longer a retired teacher. You're teaching again, aren't you?


Chris 15:44

I am, I am. They had a program, a fabric grab; I think it was probably about April. And I volunteered for that. And I hadn't really done anything, but I signed up to volunteer and I went down. And as I was talking to the volunteer coordinator, I said, you know, I'll do anything, what do you need? She goes what we really need are teachers, people who can do a class. I said, what do you need, and I actually had one of my Sew Powerful purses with me. And she pointed it that she goes, that would be something great to make, to teach. And then it just went from there. I explained to her about the Sew Powerful program. And you know, and once they learned about that, it was like, they were all in, in support of Sew Powerful.


Jan 16:25

Oh, my gosh, that is fantastic. And so how many classes have you taught or tell us a little bit about about that, how it works.


Chris 16:33

I've only taught one class. And you know, they all donated their purses to Sew Powerful, and I think most of them are going to be making more hopefully. And I'm teaching another one in a couple of weeks for them. But this past week, I took a group of my friends down. And we went in there and sewed, used their machines and everything and made purses for for Sew Powerful.


Jan 16:57

Okay, and I understand that The Sewing Lab recently made a donation, in kind, to Sew Powerful. Tell us about that.


Chris 17:06

Well, I was I was down there one day just doing some volunteer work, and the director had a trash bag, just a big black trash bag, full of fabric, and it said Sew Powerful. And she said somebody donated all this and it's just small pieces. They're really too small to put on our shelves, but I think they'd be great for the purse project. And they are. It's just wonderful.


Jan 17:30

Well, and you posted a photo of that on the Sew Powerful Purse Project group. And I mean, the fabrics look fantastic.


Chris 17:39

They are so much fun. I mean, it was it was just a stash, I think that someone had had in their closet for a long time, probably. And so, I pulled it all out, sat on the floor and sorted the colors, and I think we'll get good use out of it.


Jan 17:52

Oh, that's fantastic. So, you're about to teach another class. And do they complete the purse in the class or is it more than one session?


Chris 18:00

No, they can complete in one class, because I have the kits made. I already have them cut out and interfaced if the fabric needs it.


Jan 18:07

Well, that's nice. And so, what is the age group of the attendees in this class? Is it young people or adults or who comes?


Chris 18:15

Mostly adults. Mostly, most of them are retired age, because that's what most of the volunteers are there because they're the ones who have the time.


Jan 18:24

Sure, yeah.


Chris 18:25

I asked them to do it.


Jan 18:27

Oh, that's wonderful. And I sent you some materials. Were you able to distribute those as part of the class?


Chris 18:35

Yes, I give those out with a class. And then with the fundraiser they had, they had a swag bag. And we got to put one of the Sew Powerful cards in each one of the bags and advertise the class that I'm doing on the 18th. So, we have over 100 people now have notification of Sew Powerful, and I'm hoping that at least some of them will go to the website and learn more about the organization and the project.


Jan 18:58

Oh my gosh, Chris, that's wonderful. And I mean for a new Regional Coordinator to be so passionate and so involved with Sew Powerful already, that's just phenomenal. So, thank you for doing that.


Chris 19:11

Well, thank you. And I've been, you know, very pleased with the reception from the coordinators at The Sewing Lab. They're just, that's just what they are, what they're like, and I I feel so so blessed to be part of it, and the Sew Powerful project.


Jan 19:28

Well, and so you are the Regional Coordinator (let's clarify this a little bit) for the Greater Kansas City area. And so, we sort of talked about that before. So that's if you live in the Kansas side or the Missouri side, you can, you know, find Chris and The Sewing Lab, but you're actually also the Regional Coordinator for all of Missouri, and we're going to try and hook you up with some people in different parts. But I mentioned something about the Missouri Star Quilting Company. Do you have connections there? Tell us about that.


Chris 20:05

I don't have any connections, but it's not far from us. And I'm not sure how I'm going to do it, but I would really love to get them involved, or at least aware of Sew Powerful project. So any advice you have would be very much welcomed.


Jan 20:21

Well, honestly, we would love to have Missouri Star Quilt Company involved, but we don't have any connections there. So, it's on your plate.


Chris 20:31

I'll work on it. My husband does have a high school classmate who used to work there. And she said she'd meet us in Hamilton sometime this summer.


Jan 20:40

Oh, nice. How fun.


Chris 20:41

I don't know if she'll be able to introduce me to somebody that might have some influence, but I'm hoping.


Jan 20:47

Yeah, that would be great. Don't forget to wear Sew Powerful purse when you go.


Chris 20:51

I will, I will. And they also support The Sewing Lab, the Missouri Star Company does too. So, I think maybe if I use both of those connections...


Jan 20:59

That's fantastic.


Chris 21:01

I'm hoping.


Jan 21:02

Well, well, you know, if you're a Regional Coordinator listening, boy, Chris has really really done some great things. And hopefully that gives us all some ideas of what we can do in our local communities. Chris, can we talk a little bit about your faith? Can you tell us how is your faith important to you? And how does that relate to what you're doing and volunteering for Sew Powerful?


Chris 21:24

You know, I've, I've always gone to church. And you know, like a lot of people I have had ups and downs, and things like that. But during this whole pandemic, it's been an emotional ride. I mean, between ending my career, and my mom passed away during this. And it was after mom passed away and I needed something to do. And this this all came together just right. I mean, I just feel like, I really do feel God's hand in the Sew Powerful and The Sewing Lab and giving me passion for something that I love to do. I mean, I already have the passion for sewing, but now, I really feel like there's a use for it.


Jan 22:08

That's great.


Chris 22:09

I just feel blessed by it. And by all of you that I'm meeting virtually.


Jan 22:13

Well, you know, I'm retired and a little older than you, and I never expected in my retirement to be making such good friends and to find people that have so much in common with. But A) thanks to technology and B) thanks to Sew Powerful, all of that is happening. It just makes for a very rewarding retirement. Yeah, so anyway,


Chris 22:40

And then when I see what it's doing for the girls in Zambia.


Jan 22:44



Chris 22:45

I think what really clinched it was watching one of the purse distribution videos, and the excitement from the girls, and what they said about being able to stay in school, and really seeing someone. You know, you hear about them not being able to go to school and all that kind of stuff. But, but for individual girls to talk about it and say how, how much better they feel about it and how they can stay in school. That's real.


Jan 23:16

Yeah, yeah. And to put a face with somebody holding a purse saying this is going to change my life.


Chris 23:21

Yes, yes.


Jan 23:23

Absolutely. Well, Chris, it's been delightful to spend this half hour with you and I look forward to meeting you in person in a few months. And I'm sure our listeners will be really interested in what you had to say here and the inspiration that you're giving us as different ways that we can introduce Sew Powerful in our local communities. So, thank you for your time.


Chris 23:47

Well, and thank you very much. I really appreciate it.


Jan 23:50

All right, well, we will talk to you soon.


Jan 23:55

If what you've heard today inspires you to want to make a difference, I urge you to explore the Sew Powerful website at That's SEWPOWERFUL dot ORG. The website has great information about the organization. It's where you can download the free purse patterns or even make a donation. We hope you will join us again next week when we bring you another Sew Powerful story. Thanks for listening. Now, go out and have a Sew Powerful day.


Get to Know Doug Kirby

Another, in our series, 'The Real Husbands of Sew Powerful', features the husband of our CFO/HR Director, Sue Kirby. Doug has a very specific expertise that he has put to good use to help Sew Powerful. Listen as Doug recounts his life growing up in Oregon, becoming an entrepreneur, and his return to ranching. He shares with us how he and Sue decided to spend their retirement, making a difference in the lives of those living in Zambia.


Husband of a Sew Powerful volunteer, ranching, farming, Linfield College, creation museum, ark encounter, children and grandchildren, great-grandchild, Zambia trip


Host: Jan Cancila
Guests: Doug Kirby


We are Sew Powerful, How a Global Community of Seamstresses Is Changing Zambia One Girl at A Time, 2nd edition. By Jason G. Miles and Cinnamon, © 2016 & 2020 Jason G. Miles and Cinnamon, all rights reserved.

Linfield College,

Ark Encounter,


Jan Cancila, Host 00:04

Welcome to the Sew Powerful podcast. This is your host, Jan Cancila. You know the sound of my sewing machine means it's time for another episode. So, let's get started.


Jan 00:20

Today you're going to meet Doug Kirby. Doug is the husband of our CFO/HR director Sue Kirby. So, we're going to hear about Sew Powerful from the perspective of another spouse. You heard from my husband Chris a few weeks ago. Doug Kirby is a fascinating individual, devoted husband and grandfather, whose unusual background benefits Sew Powerful. So, sit back, and let's get to know Doug Kirby. Hi, Doug, how are you today?


Doug Kirby, Guest 00:56

Hi, Jan. I'm doing well. Thank you.


Jan 00:59

Oh, great. And where are we speaking to you from? Where are you located?


Doug 01:04

I'm located in Oregon.


Jan 01:06



Doug 01:07

In a small rural farming community called Bonanza, Oregon.


Jan 01:13

What a fantastic name: Bonanza, Oregon. And for our international listeners, Oregon is on the west coast, on the Pacific Ocean. But you're inland from from the coast. Is that right?


Doug 01:26

Yeah. I'm inland about maybe 200 miles.


Jan 01:29

Okay, alright.


Doug 01:30

Yeah. We are in what's called the south-central part of Oregon. And if I look out my window here I can see California, so.


Jan 01:42



Doug 01:42

Real close to the state line.


Jan 01:44

Oh, nice. Very nice. And where are you from originally, Doug?


Doug 01:49

Well, I'm from the other end of Oregon, the other end of the state, in the northeast section. Again, a small rural community up there. Sue and I both have that background that we share. This, by the way, is, we live on a piece of land that we purchased from her dad back in the '90s. And this is where we decided to build kind of our retirement, retirement life.


Jan 02:25



Doug 02:25

So yeah, so I live or grew up in the northeast section of the state.


Jan 02:32

Well, I've been to Oregon once many years ago, I think it was Portland was where I was, but what is the terrain like where you are? What, is it, hilly, mountainous?


Doug 02:46

Well, it's what's considered the high desert.


Jan 02:50



Doug 02:50

Yeah. Oregon's kind of divided into half. On the west side is the wet side of the state with a lot of rainfall throughout the year. And on the on the east side, where we live, is the the dry side of the state. Except for if you get in the mountainous communities, you know then, of course, we get a lot of snow in the mountains. Where we are in particular though, is in the dry, the dry desert area. So again, if I look out the window, well, we've got sagebrush and juniper trees and mountains here and there that are, don't have too many pine trees. But yeah, it's a dry part of the country. We only get maybe 10 or 12 inches of rain here annually.


Jan 03:51

My goodness. I live in Houston. We had 12 inches of rain last week. So.


Doug 03:56



Jan 03:56

Yeah, we sort of overdid it. But anyway. Okay, so tell us a little bit about your life growing up, your family and maybe siblings or, and then maybe your college days.


Doug 04:12

Well, I grew up in La Grande, Oregon, community of about 10,000. Again, farming ranching community. My parents lived there, I think, all their life, actually, after they got married. My Dad would, well, they were both raised in there, they, yeah, they grew up locally there and haven't thought about that for a while.


Jan 04:39



Doug 04:40

But yeah, they were local, there in that part of the state. And I have three siblings. I have two sisters. One is passed away now, and I also have a brother. I'm kind of the middle child. You know what, you know, being a middle child, you just kind of occupy some space in the middle, you know. But, yeah, so we had a, we had kind of a middle of the road, you know, life; it was a good life.


Doug 05:19

My high school was about 600 students. I enjoyed athletics a lot in school, especially in high school, so and I proceeded after high school, went to college to play basketball.


Doug 05:38

And so anyway, that was a big part of my growing up, was sports and athletics. Where I did grow up though, my Grandpa had a had a cattle ranch. And he was a very special guy and took me about anywhere he went. When I wasn't in school, or during the summer, I practically lived with him.


Jan 05:38

Oh, really.


Doug 06:05

And so anyway, I had a lot of experience working on the farm. You know, haying, and in the wintertime, feeding cattle and and that sort of thing. The area's gorgeous. Where I lived is a valley and with mountain, surrounded by mountains. One side of it are the high mountains and some, that area is kind of known as the Swiss Alps of Oregon.


Jan 06:36

Oh, really.


Doug 06:36

And so, there are high mountains there with high lakes and Alpine areas. And so, I spent a lot of my time outside. I loved to fish and hunt, as did my dad. And later on as I grew up a little bit, I loved to hike. My Dad had some horses and we used to pack into some of those remote areas. And, in fact, right after I got married to Sue, which was long time ago, 52 years ago now, but right after we got married, I took her on a horse trip back in the mountains, and we backpacked in there. Yeah, so a lot of outdoor activities up where I grew up.


Jan 07:28

So you took her into the remote mountains and she stuck with you, huh?


Doug 07:32

She did.


Jan 07:33



Doug 07:34

It's a miracle.


Jan 07:35

So what, when or how did you meet Sue?


Doug 07:40

I met her at college. So I went, like I said, to a college to play basketball. It was called Linfield College, in Oregon, kind of a small parochial school. She made the same selection, went to college. We met in our freshman year. And, you know, crazy us, fell in love and we ended up getting married the spring of the next year. So we got married young, we were 19 years old. And we have been able to spend 50 some years together here and just, I'm grateful that we we had a good we had a good good life. We raised four kids.


Jan 08:28



Doug 08:28



Jan 08:29

And you have grandchildren also, right?


Doug 08:32

Yeah, that's turned into a few grandchildren. We have 15 grandchildren right now.


Jan 08:39

Oh, my goodness.


Doug 08:40

In August we're going to have another one. And in July, our oldest granddaughter is pregnant, and so she will have a baby in July. So, we become great grandparents in July.


Jan 08:56

Wow. That's fantastic. And I understand you took the grandchildren on a trip very recently. Tell us about that.


Doug 09:05

I did, Jan. There's a site back in Kentucky and it's called the Creation Museum. And so there's there's two venues there. The Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter. And the Creation Museum is all about Creation Science. And they teach the biblical viewpoint of creation and origin of who we are and where we came from, and you know, the whole story of the Bible. The Ark Encounter is a life-size replica of the Noah's Ark.


Jan 09:45



Doug 09:45

And it is an amazing thing to to be in. I mean, it's like a football and a half field long. You know, I think it's 50 yards wide. And it's like six or seven stories high, and it's supposed to be the, you know, a replica size-wise of what the Ark was.


Doug 10:09

So anyway, yes, I took some of my grandkids, and my two boys and their families, and I took them back there. And we spent five days. We, trip, that was travel time included, but we flew back there. It's around, it's in Kentucky next, real close to Cincinnati, Cincinnati, the Ohio line there. But that was an educational trip that was just remarkable. And we, I have grandkids that went with me from age 17 all the way down to age two.


Jan 10:51



Doug 10:51

And, you know, just to see the them so interested and engaged in everything there was, it was really rewarding for me. So that was a kind of a trip of a lifetime. And it was so good that they're even talking about well, let's do it again, Pop.


Jan 11:14



Doug 11:15

We've got a few more grandkids maybe we could include on the next trip. But it was remarkable.


Jan 11:19

Yeah, that, you'll have to get a bus or something, the Kirby bus. Wow.


Doug 11:26



Jan 11:27

And so it sounds like that was a big hit with the grandkids.


Doug 11:32

It was, very much.


Jan 11:35

So okay, let's back up a little bit. Tell us: after college, what line of work were you in? What did you do for a living?


Doug 11:48

Well, I'm kind of, always have been a kind of an entrepreneurial type. And so I went to college, and I got a degree in Business Administration and Economics. And so, I went to work for a new startup company back (was trying to think of when that would have been) that would have been in the early '70s, 1970s. And it was in conjunction with (this is an interesting part of this), it's in conjunction with Sue's Dad, who had a working cattle ranch down in Southern Oregon, part of the place that we purchased to build on here, but he's gone. He's passed on now. But he was kind of an entrepreneurial type, too.


Doug 12:42

And so, he put together 10 or 12 different ranchers and farmers who produce their beef, pork and lamb, and to sell direct to the consumer. And so, he put that organization together. And the funding, these 10 or 12 families funded this. And they hired me since I was fresh out of college and looking for a job. They hired me to run it and get it started. And so that was the first of kind of my entrepreneurial experiences there. And then that kind of led into others, but we ran that and it would be much like some of the products today that you could buy that are hormone-free, chemical-free, you know, the real healthy side of things. And that was just back in the very, very beginning when people were starting to think about those things. You know, well, what has this beef cow eaten here? And what am I gonna put in my body? But anyway, we were early. And we, it was a big undertaking, was a pretty big investment. It lasted about three and a half years. And we just, we were too early for the market. And so that that launch, that startup didn't sustain itself and and so after about three and a half years, we had to close it up. But...


Jan 14:37

That gave you a taste for being an entrepreneur, I take it.


Doug 14:41

Yep, that's part of the game.


Jan 14:44

Yep. Yep, yep, yep.


Doug 14:46



Jan 14:47

So you've had a number of entrepreneurial experiences and you're retired now, I take it, right?


Doug 14:57

Yes, I am.


Jan 14:58

And so you and Sue live on a beautiful ranch in Bonanza, Oregon. I just love saying Bonanza, Oregon.


Doug 15:07



Jan 15:08

So, do you call on your background with your Grandfather and your experience as a youth as you work the ranch that you have now?


Doug 15:21

Yeah, I'm not sure that I heard all of that. I'm sorry, Jan.


Jan 15:24

Okay. Do you call on the experience you had in your youth working with your Grandfather on his ranch as you operate the ranch where Sue and you live right now?


Doug 15:36

Oh, yeah. Thanks. I do. Yeah. That, you know, some of the same, yeah, you know, they're the skills that you learn and you know how to fix fences, how to hay, harvest the grass, you know, how to take care of the animals that are out there on pasture. How to operate a tractor. And this morning I was out on my tractor moving some rocks and dirt out of the way to to do some things. Yeah, all those skills, you know, you learn on the farm.


Jan 16:15

On the farm. And they're still applicable today.


Doug 16:19

That's right. They do carry through, carry over.


Jan 16:22

Well, why don't we take a quick break, Doug. And when we come back, I want to talk to you about the work that you do for Sew Powerful, the trip that you've made to Zambia, and just your perspective on what Sew Powerful is all about. So, listeners, please stay tuned. We'll be back in one minute.


Jan 16:43

Have you gotten the second edition of the We Are Sew Powerful book? This updated version of the original best seller, 4.9 out of five stars, by the way, is again authored by Sew Powerful co-founders, Jason and Cinnamon Miles. It is available on Amazon in paperback or for your Kindle reader. This latest edition is packed full of moving stories about how Sew Powerful came to be, the volunteers who make it happen, and the way this small movement has grown into a global mission to break the cycle of poverty through education and the dignity of work. And don't forget, when you place your order, if you use and designate Sew Powerful as your preferred charity, Amazon will donate a portion of your purchase right back to Sew Powerful. And now back to our podcast.


Jan 17:46

Welcome back. We have been speaking with Doug Kirby. Doug is the husband of Sue Kirby, our CFO and HR director, and Doug has been sharing his very interesting background. And he's a native Oregonian. What, is that? Am I saying that right?


Doug 18:06

Yeah, native Oregonian.


Jan 18:07

Oregonian, okay. And, but Doug has ventured out. You took a trip. Did you take more than one, or one trip to Zambia? How many times have you been to Zambia with Sew Powerful?


Doug 18:22

Yeah, one trip so far. Yeah. We took one trip together. And I think that was in 2019. It was about, it was two years ago, I believe.


Jan 18:30

Okay. And so when, what were your impressions? What, how, was it different than you expected? Tell us a little bit about the trip from your perspective.


Doug 18:43

Well, yeah. It was it was different. You know, the Sew Powerful is engaged with the Needs Care school in in Ngombe Province. Ngombe Province is a very, very, very poor part of the capital of Zambia, Lusaka. So, I think one of the things that struck me most was the kids. We arrived on Sunday, and from our trip, and from our flight over there, and it was kind of a two-stop, a one-stop thing. We stopped in Dubai on the way over there as well as on the way back, as kind of a resting point, an overnight resting point and then we flew on to Zambia.


Doug 19:42

So anyway, we got there on Sunday. We rested a little bit. On Monday morning we headed out to Ngombe Province where this, out to the school. And one of the things that struck me most are the kids. You know, as poor as that area is, and I don't know if I can do an accurate job of describing it, but, you know, dirt streets and open sewer and huts, you know, concrete huts where people live, which many of them don't have any windows or door on them, they just kind of hang a blanket or something up. I mean, it's a, it's a very poor neighborhood. But we pulled up that school, and I'll tell you what: those kids were expecting us but they just kind of swarmed our little minibus that we use for the week to travel around.


Doug 20:43

And as we stepped out, those, yeah, those little kids, they just, you would never know, because of the smiles and the laughter and the greeting, that they, you know, welcoming us with, you would never know that this was right in the heart of that just, you know, terrible location. And we experienced that throughout the week. When we were at the school, those little kids, they had the most beautiful smiles. And sometimes not so much in the school, but out on the street, those kids, they'd smile, they'd wave, and you know, they were just kind of dirty, just because, you know, they don't have the sanitation that, you know, that we have, by far. And they were just as happy as could be, those kids. And for me, that was really my first exposure to anything like that. And so, it was really, for me, a heart rending, you know, experience. And yeah, it's it, that was the most impactful thing, I think, when I went when I went on that trip.


Jan 22:10

Now, I've seen a photo of you and Sue and a young girl from the school and she has a purse, and I believe it's the purse that Sue made. Is that right?


Doug 22:20

I think it is. Yeah.


Jan 22:21

Yeah. So were you there for the purse distribution, when the girls got the purses?


Doug 22:26

I did, I was. Yeah.


Jan 22:28

Can you can you talk about that a little bit?


Doug 22:31

Yeah, there were, I may have this number wrong, but there were probably 75 girls. So, they all came into this room. And they all came into this room. And there were wooden kind of like chairs and pews you know, wooden pews and benches they'd sit on. So, they filed in there, you know, and you know, preteen, teen girls, just got a little bit noisy as you'd expect. But they came in there, they all had a had a seat. And then they were. I'm getting ahead a little bit here, but Esther who is the coordinator of the school and and Sew Powerful on the ground operation over there. You know, she kind of gave them a little presentation. And she is so good at that. And the girls, they were just so interested and so engaged with her and then, so after, anyway, I'd call kind of a warmup, you know, welcome and we're here to help you, you know. I couldn't understand the language, to be honest with you, but they could understand, they could understand English.


Doug 23:43

And so, after Esther was done, though, then they were called up individually, you know, to come up and all these purses were put on the table and for them to select from. And so, they got to select their own purse. And so, they'd come up and they'd look and they'd choose one and pick it up and you know, they put it on, and they put it on. And then we took their picture. And I think the picture you're referring to is one of those moments when one of the girls came up, picked that, selected that purse. And Sue and I both were there and had our picture taken with her. Yeah.


Jan 24:27

Well, you know, those of us that make purses always think about and pray about the girl who is going to get our purse with the hopes that it's going to make her life better and give her a chance to complete her education. But how exciting to be able to match your exact purse with the actual girl whose life is going to be changed. That just is amazing.


Doug 24:50



Jan 24:51

As part of that trip, and I might be throwing you for, you know, I didn't tell you I was gonna ask you this, but as part of that trip did you get to go out the 3 Esthers Farm?


Doug 25:02

I did, yes.


Jan 25:04

Oh, and so now it's it's probably changed a lot in the last couple of years. But describe what you saw in 2019 at the 3 Esthers Farm.


Doug 25:15

Okay, it's 10 acres, it's fenced, and it's fenced, it's all fenced. There's a, it's cultivated with with different things, and I can't remember everything that's planted there. But they had different vegetables planted in rows. And we were, had the opportunity to to plant some banana trees. And so we spent about a half a day, I believe, out on the farm, just getting to know, you know, the operation and what they do. The purpose of that farm, by the way, is to feed these kids in the school. So at least they would get something to eat. That's kind of another story. But that's the purpose of the farm.


Doug 26:06

And anyway, this year those banana trees have, you know, grown fruit, grown bananas. And so, this was the first year, that's two years ago, two years ago when we planted those, or some of them, you know; we didn't plant them all, but we planted some of them. And the first year that they harvested bananas. And you may have seen some pictures of those kids sitting in the classroom with a banana. And, yeah, so I think about, I think about that. The caretaker has a, there's a caretaker of the place, and they have a place, real modest place to live right there on the property, which is important because sometimes, and that's why the place has a fence around it, is to, you know, is to keep the bad guys out if you would. It's out in the country.


Jan 27:09

And the goats. I understand the goats ate some of the crop before.


Doug 27:13

That's true.


Jan 27:14

The fence was in place. Now, Doug, you serve on the Farm Advisory Council for Sew Powerful. Can you tell us a little bit about that and and sort of relate your experiences on the trip and maybe your background in ranching, to how you assist Sew Powerful with this work?


Doug 27:37

Well, I can say that, I can say that I'm one of a few that have come together to kind of brainstorm and get an idea of how best we could, that farm could be used, and to accomplish the objective of feeding these kids at the school. So, one of the things I think that we're learning, and it's not so much a surprise, it's just being able to say, okay, things are different there. And the way we do things here are different than the way they do things there. And so, it's a lot of that discussion, well, what will that land grow? Whether it's vegetables, whether it's fruit. Esther had grown chickens out there in a building that was constructed just for chickens. And that was a success.


Doug 28:39

And so just discussing, or how well did that go? You know, is that something that we should repeat? And so, it's just a discussion of what might work, what might work best. We have currently (and you may know this, if you're watching some of the videos and stuff, information that Jason and Cinnamon put out) but we have recently drilled a well over there for more water. And so, we can grow more.


Doug 29:16

And so, we meet regularly and just discuss some of the big ideas and then kind of work those around and Jason is, and David Derr who's the owner of of that, he and his wife is the owner of the of the farm, but they work in conjunction with Jason and Cinnamon and with Sew Powerful. And so, it's just kind of a high level, you know, get together of hey, what might work over there? Oh, we've tried that. That's not quite, well, good and but let's explore this option, etc.


Jan 29:59

Well, that sounds cool. So, Doug, I know that you're very supportive of Sue and the work that she does for Sew Powerful and the time that she spends on Sew Powerful, as is my poor husband. So, what advice or recommendations would you give to other spouses whose wives are involved with Sew Powerful? How can a spouse help Sew Powerful?


Doug 30:27

Well, you know, Sue and I retired about the same time. And we were in our mid-60s. So that was about, yeah, that was a few years ago. So, one thing we decided for the both of us is that we didn't want to sit around and get old too fast. So, we discussed, well, what can we do? And each of us kind of started to explore, you know, different things for ourselves and whatnot. Sue happened to run into Sew Powerful, I think, searching online. And one thing kind of led to another. Well, what I've seen, and well, my objective was, I wanted to support her in her retirement.


Doug 31:18

And all of our kids and grandkids live elsewhere, kind of a common phenomenon today. But so, we are here and so we don't have those grandkids to love on all the time and play with. So, you know, we have some time and attention and resources, maybe we can get involved in something and make a difference. Well, my objective was to support Sue and whatever she might find. And so, one thing led to another and she discovered Sew Powerful, talked with Jason, talked with Cinnamon, started doing one thing after another. And I just saw how much she enjoyed it. And so, my thought was, well, I need to support her. And just, you know, giving her, you know, positive input about, yeah, this sounds like something you'd really enjoy. And so, for any any other husbands maybe, you know, of purse makers are people that are considering getting involved with Sew Powerful, my experience has been good.


Doug 32:30

The organization is really, really, really good, you know, from top to bottom, I might say, but I'm a supporter. I think it's a good place for Sue to invest her time. And, you know, kind of a bonus for me. But kind of a bonus for me is that on, I've kind of had a chance to, you know, look at myself, well what it, is there anything I can do to contribute? And so I'm kind of hanging around, you know, and once in a while I'll, Sue and I talk about it a lot. That was why, one reason that I went to Zambia along with Sue was just to see, well, what is it you're getting involved in here? And once I saw how authentic that that work, Sew Powerful is, you know, I came home and really just kind of decided, hey, well, this is something that I need to be positive about, I need to support Sue with. And so anyway, all is good. And I think she's made an excellent, excellent choice of what something she can really invest herself in here for the next, you know, stage of life, however long that lasts, and we will, yeah, we just, I just expect her to, to keep going with it. Yeah.


Jan 34:00

Well, Doug, I want to thank you so much for your time today. It's been a pleasure to get to know you. And you know, of course, I know Sue pretty well. And she mentions your name all the time and I figured you're going to be a pretty good guy, and obviously you are. So, thank you for being on the Sew Powerful podcast. This has been fun.


Doug 34:20

Well, thank you, Jan. I enjoyed it.


Jan 34:22

Okay, all right. Well, hopefully I'll get to talk to you in person at some point. So have good day.


Doug 34:27



Jan 34:29

Bye bye.


Doug 34:30

Bye bye.


Jan 34:33

If what you've heard today inspires you to want to make a difference, I urge you to explore the Sew Powerful website at That's SEW POWERFUL dot ORG. The website has great information about the organization. It's where you can download the free purse patterns or even make a donation. We hope you will join us again next week when we bring you another Sew Powerful story. Thanks for listening. Now, go out and have a Sew Powerful day.


How to Form and Market a Sew Powerful Chapter with Jason Miles, Sue Kirby, Jan Cancila

If you are considering forming a Sew Powerful Chapter, or maybe you are just curious about the process, you won't want to miss this episode. Jason, Sue and Jan have a lively conversation about marketing your newly formed Chapter. We share a long and growing list of proven ideas for finding Chapter members and expanding Sew Powerful. If you love making Sew Powerful purses and notecards, why not share your passion by forming a Chapter in your community? We are here to help you get it going.


Sewing for charity, forming a sew powerful chapter, chapter locator, Nextdoor app, ideas for finding new members, why register your chapter


Host: Jan Cancila
Guest: Jason Miles and Sue Kirby


Sew Powerful 2021 Spring Summit,

Sew Powerful Chapters,

Sew Powerful Chapter Locator,

Sew Powerful Chapter Formation Starter Kit,

Nextdoor App,


Jan Cancila, Host 00:04

Welcome to the Sew Powerful podcast. This is your host, Jan Cancila. You know the sound of my sewing machine means it's time for another episode. So, let's get started.


Jason Miles, Guest 00:23

Hey, everybody, welcome to our little training on Chapter Marketing. Hi, Jan. Hi, Sue.


Jan 00:30



Sue Kirby, Guest 00:31

Hi, Jason.


Jason 00:31

Are you ready to do a fun overview of how to market your Chapter, grow it and figure out how to get things going? And for Chapter Leaders?


Jan 00:40



Sue 00:41

We're ready.


Jason 00:42

Great. We have a little deck we're gonna share. And then I think Jan, you're gonna lead us through most of this, and then Sue and I are going to opine on all topics that pique our interest. So let me share the screen like this. And Jan, feel free to jump in and give us context and take it away.


Jan 01:03

Well, I sort of envision this as a Chapter explainer video. So you know, we have various explainer videos. And so here we go on Chapters. And with us today is Jason Miles, who is the Sew Powerful co-founder, Sue Kirby, who serves as the CFO and also the Director of Human Resources, and I'm Jan Cancila, the Director of Global Volunteerism.


Jason 01:32

Do you want me to advance the slides?


Jan 01:34

Yes, please advance the slide. Sorry. We should have some signal worked out in advance.


Jason 01:42



Jan 01:44

So, on this slide, it's sort of the circle of life of a Chapter, is sort of the way I envisioned it in that you asked for the starter kit, you find members, you register your Chapter, get all kinds of goodies that way, you start holding meetings, new members come into your Chapter. And then, my theory is Chapters beget Chapters. And so that's sort of why I did this as a circle. And we're going to talk about each of these pieces as we go through this.


Jason 02:13

Sure. Okay, great.


Jan 02:15

So, the first thing we have on here is how to find new members or members to help you form your Chapter. And as we worked with our beta Chapter Leaders, they said for some of them, they said this was the most challenging part was to find people to be members of their Chapter. And other people said, Oh, no, you know, it was pretty easy for me, and this is what I did. And we compiled this list of things that work in order to get your Chapter going. So, Sue, or Jason, if you want to chime in on what some of the people were telling us really worked for them.


Jason 02:55

I'm sure happy to read it off here. You could do any or all of these things. And I guess I should just start by saying, this is fielder's choice in baseball's terms. So, you don't have to do any of it. If you already know that your group that you want to do a Chapter with is set and you don't need to find people, then you don't need to do any of this. But if you're looking for members, here are suggestions, tips and ideas that you again can use some of or none over whatever you want to do. So I'll just rattle them off if you want and then we can chat about any of them. Ask family members to join you. Tell your neighbors, talk to people at church, or other community groups. Go online, post it on social media tools. Things like Nextdoor seems to be an app that's a neighborhood type app that's very interesting. Obviously, we have the Facebook group, Sew Powerful Purse Group that you could post about. That's totally okay. Say that, hey, I'm starting a Chapter in, you know, Charlotte, North Carolina, blah, blah, blah. You can use other tools if you want for social media. You can post fliers around town, places like fabric stores, quilt shops, sewing machine retailers, other, you know, things like restaurants, fitness centers, libraries, schools, churches, daycare centers. Wow, that's a long list, Jan. Very cool.


Jan 04:16

Well, these are all things people have done.


Jason 04:19



Sue 04:20

One of there's a couple things I think about. I've had a local quilt shop who will hold the Sew Days in their shop. So that was fun. And she was willing to advertise it. And that way I got people that I didn't know, they just came to her shop. The other thing is, I've been working with the people at my church and been frankly a little bit discouraged at the turnout. And I feel like God told me just to cast a wider net. And during the Summit, I had two ladies from a neighboring church come. So, I think, don't be limited just to your own church or your own social circle. But as Jason said, Nextdoor is a good way to meet some of your neighbors and get them to come.


Jan 05:14

Well, and we have asterisks by a few of these things, because the ones that have, that worked, where we have examples, we have those available for Chapter Leaders who have registered their Chapter. And you don't have to be fully formed, we just want to know that you're out there and then you have access to all this great information. But we have sample posts that one person who was new to her community but wanted to meet other people, and so she posted on Nextdoor and got nine people to join a Chapter with a post on Nextdoor, which is exactly, you know, what it's designed to do.


Jason 05:49

So great. I never even heard of that app before you guys started talking about it.


Jan 05:53

Yeah, no.


Jason 05:53

It's so cool.


Jan 05:54

Yeah, it's for forming groups and selling stuff. But yeah, it's hyper-local.


Jason 06:00

Yeah. And Facebook has that kind of marketplace tool as well. I don't know if that's if that's usable for that. But anyway, this is great. Okay, so shall we keep going? Jan, you want to continue?


Jan 06:11

Yeah, yeah. So, we can help you find members, let us advertise your group. So, if you let us know, we can go to our database and send emails to people that are, we're gonna have some sort of a guess, guess a little bit about, you know, what zip code is next to what zip code, but in your area. We're happy to say, Sue Smith is forming a Chapter in Charlotte, North Carolina. If you're interested, you know, here's her contact information. So, we won't do that unless you ask for that help. But it is something that's available.


Jason 06:48

Yeah, and for privacy reasons, we can't just give you a list of you know, 40 people in your area type thing. So, for the, you know, kind of process, we need to initiate that, send them your information. So, you have to kind of be willing to put your name out there. But it would be to a, you know, a very, very, you know, small group of amazing people, you know.


Jan 07:10

And these are are typically purse makers and/or donors, those are people with connections to Sew Powerful already.


Jason 07:17

Yeah, exactly right.


Jan 07:18



Jason 07:18

And we also can just put it in the newsletter, which generally goes out on Mondays, or Tuesdays, or if I'm really super busy, Wednesdays, or whatever, but it's weekly. And so, if you want to have your Chapter announced, like, hey, you know, new Chapter in wherever, happy to have that in the newsletter, you know, for a couple times, maybe something like that. And, and so those are proactive things. Again, if this makes you uncomfortable, like you don't want your name out there widely, or something like that, then you don't have to do this. But if it's a way that we can help, kind of, you know, mine the information that's already in our, in our group, in our system, we're happy to do it.


Jan 07:56



Jason 07:57

All right. Good, good, good. What else?


Jan 08:01

Well so let's talk about Registering Your Chapter. If you have enough information together, that you're ready to say, yes, I'm, I'm definitely going to form a Chapter, just go to page six of your Starter Kit, and the link is right there. And it gets you access to all kinds of great information. It allows you to give us feedback on how it's going. If you need help, there's, you know, our suggestions that it's right there, you're automatically added to a special newsletter just for Chapter Leaders. We're gonna have quarterly Zoom sessions. We might have, in the future, in-person events and things like that. So I don't know, Jason, you have an idea here for number three, right, for Find a Chapter Near Me?


Jason 08:51

Oh, well, we'll have a tool on the website, that will kind of be like those tools, like where you find a restaurant or furniture store or whatever, you know, like on websites, where it's like, find a location. We're going to use one of those tools, but just be, it'll be set up so that you can find a Chapter. Again, you'll you'll and the process, I think, will be you know, fairly protected information. So, for example, it'll say, find a Chapter and it might say there's a Chapter in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and then they will have to like, kind of click into it or apply for info or something like that. And then we would give them your, your contact info or like email address or something like that. So we'll do it in a way that's, you know, protected. But it, I think, it will be a nice feature. And I would just say this. Oh, no, sorry, keep going. I'll save my comments for next next slide, I think.


Jan 09:42

Okay, well, then let's go. Sue, do you have anything to add to Registering Your Chapter?


Sue 09:48

Well, I just would say that Sew Powerful is a great community. And I think as you register your Chapter, you'll be able to participate more fully in that and get the benefit of like-minded individuals who are really passionate about this mission.


Jason 10:07

For sure.


Jan 10:07



Jason 10:09

Okay, great. All right, back to the deck here. Here we are.


Jan 10:15

Okay. So, the next one is you you have your members, you've registered, now you're going to start holding meetings. And, you know, we conducted a survey earlier this year, and we asked people what they wanted to do in meetings. And honestly, the answers were all over the place. And so, the real answer is, it's your Chapter. Do what do what you and your members would like to do at the meetings. And we just gave some examples here.


Jason 10:50

That's great. Love it. Oh, my okay. Yep. Sorry, playing with our video tool here. Terrific.


Sue 10:57

Can I say one thing here, Jason?


Jason 11:00



Sue 11:00

Is that when we started the Chapters, we did a survey that Jan alluded to, and we really wanted this to be what brings joy to each one of you. So as the Chapter Leader, and as Chapter members, make it fun, have a great time. And if that means you sew at your meetings, great. If that means that you just chat and bring show and tell, then really feel free to do what really brings you joy, and blesses the girls in Zambia by having purses you can send in.


Jason 11:38

Love it.


Jan 11:41

Well, and then the other thing that we had on here was total flexibility about where you hold your meetings. It might be in a private individual's home, but it might be in a more public place, like a church or a school library or community center or a sew, you know, a quilt shop or something like that. So, we don't want to share any really private information, so we're we're probably going to be a postal or zip code layer of granularity. But, you know, it's, again, a lot of flexibility for people to organize and operate their Chapters as it works best for them.


Jason 12:23

Yeah, yeah. Okay, great. Should we go on to the Welcome New Members?


Jan 12:28

Yeah. So, to me, this is the really exciting part. So now you have your Chapter going, and people know about it, and your members are talking to their friends and relatives, and all of a sudden, you have more members. So, you know, we, we've found that one of our Chapters that started very early, about half the members had sisters that sew that lived in the area, and the sisters joined that Chapter. So, you know, word of mouth invitations to friends and relatives. And people may have seen something a few months ago when they weren't in a position to join a Chapter. And all of a sudden, now they go back to that original information, and they may find you months or weeks after you got set up. So, we want you to be welcoming and open to expanding your circle of Sew Powerful friends.


Jason 13:25

I would challenge people to go even one step further. And that would be the even, let's just call it the Biblical mandate to be disciplers. Like, I would challenge everybody to just welcome people so much so, and you know how it is. Sometimes somebody might come to your Chapter, and they're from 45 minutes away, or an hour away. And I think all of us should have an abundance mentality. We're like, look, none of us are competing. This is just like for, you know, God's glory. And if there's somebody who comes in, like from a different church, or maybe they just have a different, you know, kind of view on the world, or like they are different, far away geographically, I would just encourage everybody to say, how can I help this person? Maybe even be, you know, motivated, inspired and trained up to start their own Chapter in the context in which maybe they're more comfortable geographically or whatever, whatever. And let's do that. Let's figure out how we could maybe even intentionally say, hey, this Chapter is too big. Let's split, you know, let's make an east side of town and a west side of town or, you know, whatever it is, and see if we can't grow, you know, by multiplication and just have people come in, model what you're doing, replicate it and, and go from there. So, it can we do that? I have no idea. But it'd be really cool if we could. You know?


Jan 14:49

Well, honestly, that's a good segue for the next slide. Because my theory is Chapters beget more Chapters. So more the more people hear about Chapters, they grow, like you said, the membership expands. And just due to geography or the day of the week that it's meeting or whatever, amicably decide to break off and form their own Chapters. And I think that's wonderful. So.


Jason 15:17



Jan 15:18

And Sue, I mean, you've, you've probably seen that that as well, where, you know, we have little clusters of people, and then they bring in more people.


Sue 15:29

Yes, for sure. Because they invite a friend and encourage them to invite friends and, and, like I said, for my Summit, I had two ladies come from a totally different church. And it was so fun to sew with them and to get to know them. And I'm hoping they'll take it back to their church and start a Chapter there.


Jan 15:53

Well, and funny you say that, because I had people come to my home during the Summit too and one of the ladies who didn't sew, I gave her some material. And I just found out last night at choir practice, that she gave the materials to a friend of hers who sews and encourages her. So, you know, two weeks ago, she probably didn't really know much about Sew Powerful at all. And now she's a disciple for us. So, you know, it's funny how that all works out.


Jason 16:22

I think that's fantastic. And you know, to me, that's really the exciting part of this is broadening the circle. Because I think part of this is always what's in it for us, you know, just as individuals, and when we're in a small group, we do get the camaraderie and friendship and connection. And, and I think expanding that circle to include more and more people is healthy. But then if we can figure out how to replicate, I think it's really powerful. And the thing that we're already seeing is that the beta testers for this Chapters, idea, they're already the veterans. They're already the ones that are saying, hey, use the Nextdoor app. And, you know, here's how you do it type of thing. And I think that'll probably happen locally and regionally as well, where it's like, hey, somebody's been a Chapter Leader for a year, or two or three, they're kind of the go-to expert for helping people who are wanting to form a Chapter. And it kind of can grow organically that way. So at least that's my hope. And it seems like it's already happening. So just so exciting.


Jan 17:17

You know there was a Facebook post just this week where a lady said, I'm so sad, because I don't think I'll ever meet any other Sew Powerful volunteers. And tons of people chimed in and said, A, you probably will and B, form a Chapter and you know, now you're with other Sew Powerful volunteers. So.


Jason 17:36

Yeah, absolutely.


Jan 17:37

We could be everywhere.


Jason 17:39

And I'll also just make one other request. For those of you who are watching this video and listening to this podcast. As you explore new ideas for growing and you know, improving the Chapter process be sure to share them back. Share them with Jan and Sue and other leaders so that they can then disseminate the information. And we can improve the process over time and get better and better at how we do it. I was gonna suggest that one way you could quickly divide your Chapter is just have a big fight over which sewing machine is best. Then you can have the Bernina group and the other group or like whatever, but don't do that. Don't do that.


Jan 18:22

Unity and harmony, please.


Sue 18:26

Remember our end goal.


Jason 18:29

Yeah, absolutely right.


Jan 18:31



Jason 18:31

Yeah. And I think that's in good fun. And hopefully these do really feel like a blessing to people as they come together and meet people. So that's the goal and to, of course, help the girls and moms in Zambia. And yeah, so there you go. So that's my two cents.


Jan 18:50

Well, I'm very excited. The the concept seems to have been well received. Since the Summit we've had two or three people every day come to us wanting to form a Chapter. And so if we can keep that up, and it will just grow exponentially.


Jason 19:07

Yeah. Well, thanks for hanging out on this conversation. It's fantastic. So Jan, if people are confused by anything we've said or want clarity on anything, what do they do as a next step?


Jan 19:17

They could send me an email I'll be happy to answer. I'm on email all the time.


Jason 19:27

Sounds terrific. Bye friend.


Jan 19:29

Bye bye.


Sue 19:30



Jan 19:31

Have a great day.


Jan 19:33

If what you've heard today inspires you to want to make a difference, I urge you to explore the Sew Powerful website at That's SEW POWERFUL dot ORG. The website has great information about the organization. It's where you can download the free purse patterns or even make a donation. We hope you will join us again next week when we bring you another Sew Powerful story.


New Purse Maker puts Life in Perspective with LaQuita Herrin

A Navy wife finds herself facing a very challenging situation. With grace and determination, our guest, LaQuita Herrin, not only survived, but turned her own hardship into advocacy for others. LaQuita is a brand new Sew Powerful purse maker and by witnessing her determination with making her first purse, we can easily imagine how she uses that same tenacity in her personal life. We also talk about our shared Indiana roots, discovering an improbable closeness we could not have predicted.


Indiana connection, sewing, early onset Alzheimer’s disease, retail, navy wife, widow, moving, advocate for care givers, first purse, sewing for charity


Host: Jan Cancila
Guests: LaQuita Herrin


We are Sew Powerful, How a Global Community of Seamstresses Is Changing Zambia One Girl at A Time, 2nd edition. By Jason G. Miles and Cinnamon, © 2016 & 2020 Jason G. Miles and Cinnamon, all rights reserved.

Kings Bay Naval Base,

Camden County Alzheimer’s Project,


Jan Cancila, Host 00:04

Welcome to the Sew Powerful podcast. This is your host, Jan Cancila. You know the sound of my sewing machine means it's time for another episode. So, let's get started.


Jan 00:18

Hello, today I have the pleasure of speaking with a brand-new purse maker. Her name is LaQuita Herrin. And she came to us through the attention of Kathleen Broadfoot. And unbeknownst to me, LaQuita and I worked on a project together with Kathleen, and you're going to hear all about that. So good morning. How are you today?


LaQuita Herrin, Guest 00:42

Good morning. It's nice to be here.


Jan 00:44

Well, I'm so glad you are. So, we very coincidentally may have crossed paths, although I would have been much older and you would have been an infant, but I attended Hanover College in southern Indiana; it's right on the banks of the Ohio River. And it's a very teeny, teeny town next to the campus. But the next town over, if you needed anything, was a 10-minute car drive away, I think, in a town called Madison, Indiana. And why is Madison, Indiana important to you, LaQuita?


LaQuita 01:21

Well, Madison, Indiana is where I was born and where I grew up and lived there until I graduated high school.


Jan 01:28

Wow. And so, it's entirely possible that at some point, you and your parents were driving down the street and I was in a car and we passed in Madison, Indiana and never knew it.


LaQuita 01:41

Yes, it is.


Jan 01:42

Yeah. Yeah, that was that would be a weird thing. So, you grew up in this beautiful part of the United States. And, you know, we have many international listeners. Can you describe the southern Indiana area? What is the geography like in that part of the country?


LaQuita 02:00

Well, the area for Madison is very hilly. There are a lot of rock outcroppings. There's a state park that has a beautiful falls called Clifty Falls and several hiking trails. And then as you go out away from Madison, there are lots of farmlands. And we're on the Ohio River so you can also see the beautiful greens of Kentucky, if you look across the state line. We had a bridge, the Madison Milton bridge, that crossed between Kentucky and Indiana, so we were a good location for people traveling through the state to get into Kentucky. It's very beautiful.


Jan 02:42

And you know what, yeah, what I remembered was the convenience of the location. It was sort of midway between Cincinnati, Ohio, Indianapolis, Indiana and Louisville, Kentucky. So big cities not far away but yet it was just the most scenic, beautiful peaceful area I'd ever been in. It was just really lovely.


LaQuita 03:04

It was. Yeah, it was very beautiful. For Fourth of July, they usually had the hydroplane boat races in Madison. So they're even, there's a movie called Madison that was filmed there about the hydroplane boats.


Jan 03:19

Oh, cool. Well, and you know, I never got to see that because I would have been back home at my home during the summer. But anyway, okay. So, when you were, it sounds like in about Middle School, your father passed away, and your mom remarried a few years later, which then resulted in your family moving after you graduated from high school. Is that correct?


LaQuita 03:43

Yes, we moved from this beautiful hilly, tree-filled area of the country to Ocean Springs, Mississippi, all the way down on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, with the beautiful ocean and the palm trees. And they have these loblolly pine trees that are so not what I grew up with that I thought they had deformed trees, but my first thought driving into that area. But it was beautiful. It was just gorgeous there.


Jan 04:13

Now, when you were in Madison, you had some part-time jobs when you were in high school, working retail. And then when you got to Mississippi with your family after high school graduation, you used some of that experience, your retail experience, to get another job, right?


LaQuita 04:32

Yes, I worked in a store that was kind of like Kmart in Indiana called 3D Discount Store. And then in Mississippi, I got a job at JC Penney and enjoyed it.


Jan 04:45

And that was very fortuitous because you had a friend who did something very important. Tell us what your friend did.


LaQuita 04:55

My friend set me up on a blind date with what turned out to be my husband. He was in the Navy, and they have a drydock in Pascagoula, Mississippi. And so, he was just there for the ship to get worked on. And that's how we met.


Jan 05:11

And so you told me a rather, well I guess it wasn't amusing at the time; it's amusing now, but what was your first encounter with your husband? What happened?


LaQuita 05:22

I was on my way to work and I had stopped for gas, and these two men were following me with their vehicle. And they followed me all the way into the parking lot where I worked. So, I hurried quickly, in the back door of the store right past my husband and my friend and her boyfriend.


Jan 05:42

Your husband-to-be.


LaQuita 05:44

My husband-to-be, yes, this man I had not quite met yet. And he's trying to say, hello, it's nice to meet you. And I just said, yeah, it's great to meet you. Bye. And I kept going into the break room. And I stayed there for several minutes hoping those other two men would disappear. So yes, after we were married, my husband's favorite thing to tell people was that my wife blew me off. She didn't even want to go on that first date. So, he, but we did obviously have our first date was Top Gun, so, the movie.


LaQuita 06:18

So, for a Navy person that worked out well. He could tell me things about the military.


Jan 06:18

Oh, how fun.


Jan 06:24

And so, God had a plan for you because you met and you were married in a pretty short period of time, right?


LaQuita 06:33

Yes, we met, and we were engaged on our, our date was actually a couple of weeks later. So, we got engaged a week after our first date, which happened to be his birthday. And then we were married. That was in August of '86. We got married in October of '86. And then by December of '86, I was a new Navy wife living in Jacksonville, Florida and he was on a new ship, starting more time out to sea.


Jan 07:02

And so, because of his Navy career, the family moved several times. Is that right? Give it, give us sort of the Cliff Notes version of all the places that you lived.


LaQuita 07:15

Okay, from Jacksonville, Florida we went to North Chicago, Great Lakes, Illinois for his school. Then he got stationed at Kings Bay, Georgia for shore duty. Then he went to Mayport, Florida, then we went to Norfolk, Virginia, then we came back to Kings Bay. Then he went to Mayport again, then he went to Charleston, then he went to Virginia. Then he came back and finished in Mayport, I believe. There were two times at Kings Bay, but Mayport is an hour and 15 minutes away. So, by 1997 my daughter Jessica and I were staying put in Kingsland, Georgia, which is near the Kings Bay Navy base. So yes, but God let us meet some very interesting people. And it was great to see other parts of the country.


Jan 08:14

Wow. Well, that, I mean, that's amazing. And I guess that's the life of a military family is a lot of upheaval. But you you're you're settled now. Something, your husband retired from the Navy, when? What year?


LaQuita 08:34

He retired from the Navy in 2003.


Jan 08:38

In '03. And a couple of years later, he had a doctor's visit and what happened then?


LaQuita 08:45

Then we found out that he had been having some memory problems and it was diagnosed as early onset Alzheimer's disease, which is rare in people that young, but it can occur. He was 39 when he was diagnosed.


Jan 09:02

And so, his disease progressed and he did pass away. Is that right?


LaQuita 09:08

Yes, he passed away in June 2019. He was 54. So, we saw symptoms in '99. So roughly 20 years of first symptoms to the time that he passed.


Jan 09:23

And you were his caregiver for those 20 years, LaQuita?


LaQuita 09:27

Yes, he was able to work off and on until 2013. So, from 2013 to 2019 I was his person, 24/7, with a very active young dementia patient, yes.


Jan 09:44

And your your daughter, how is this affecting her?


LaQuita 09:49

She was a teenager when he was diagnosed. And so, she graduated high school. She was able to go on to college. She has has a degree in general studies, part of that is Business/Hospitality Management and, but she learned to be his caregiver. The, you know, the roles are reversed. She's a little more parent to him than just a child. But it grew a great deal of empathy for her. She's currently working in ministry, building a new church in Knoxville, doing administration and websites. And she said part of her ministry is reaching out to other kids who are having problems with their fathers, and encouraging them that, you know, God is there.


Jan 10:43

And because of your experience with your husband's illness, you've become an advocate for people who are caregivers for for family members with Alzheimer's. Tell us about that.


LaQuita 10:56

Yes, Doug was so young. There weren't really many resources in our area. He was too young for a senior center. He was too young for the Council on Aging. But I also found when I went to my first support group in September 2013, that first meeting, I didn't know that eight years later, I would have become part of a Board for, it's the Camden County Alzheimer's Project. It's a nonprofit and our goal is to bring those resources into our county, to have adult daycare, to have respite for the caregivers to get, you know, a few few hours during the week to go to the grocery store, to get a hair appointment, if you need to sleep. There were so many days that I just needed that, you know, that couple of extra hours would have made a huge difference, even to sew a purse. You can't sew a purse if you're chasing after someone making sure they stay safe. So, it made a difference.


Jan 12:05

Okay, well, and and I'm sure you're making a difference now. So, it's, I'm sorry that you had to go through it. But it's, wow, it's just so admirable that you're helping others so that they don't have the the same negative experiences that you did, to the extent that you did. Now you mentioned sewing. How long have you been sewing? What is your sewing story?


LaQuita 12:32

Well, my mom sewed when I was little. My sister was seven years older, and she made a dress in high school. And I thought well, it must be easy. So, I took my first Home Ec, and my first project was a simple little drawstring purse. And I became very frustrated with that. I just could not get it the way I wanted. And then when I was pregnant with Jessica, I wanted to sew her a quilt. And it ended up making me more frustrated trying to put a ruffle around the edge that my husband actually sat at my mom’s sewing machine and sewed our daughter's first blanket because I didn't have the patience for it. So as my daughter's first Christmas came, he bought me my own sewing machine and I gradually managed to make her some little dresses and we had a couple of matching outfits, and curtains. I like things with simple sewing seams, so so fast forward to now, he's passed away and I'm trying to re-learn things about myself. You know, what do I enjoy? So, I enjoy painting. That was something I could do while he was alive, and woodworking. But the sewing machine, yeah, I'm still have a love-hate relationship with ripping out seams. That is my frustration with the sewing machine but so I am determined that with this being my first Sew Powerful purse to mail in that I'm going to get this.


Jan 14:06

Okay, okay, what we're going to explore all that in just a moment but let's let's take a quick break here. And listeners when we come back, we're going to hear LaQuita's journey with her Sew Powerful purses, which is not a long journey, but it's a pretty interesting one. And it's very interesting to hear perspective from somebody who's new to making purses. So, stay tuned, we'll be back in one minute.


Jan 14:29

Have you gotten the second edition of the We Are Sew Powerful book? This updated version of the original bestseller, 4.9 out of five stars by the way, is again authored by Sew Powerful co-founders, Jason and Cinnamon Miles. It is available on Amazon in paperback or for your Kindle reader. This latest edition is packed full of moving stories about how Sew Powerful came to be, the volunteers who make it happen, and the way this small movement has grown into a global mission to break the cycle of poverty through education and the dignity of work. And don't forget, when you place your order, if you use, and designate Sew Powerful as your preferred charity, Amazon will donate a portion of your purchase right back to Sew Powerful. And now back to our podcast.


Jan 15:32

Welcome back. We've been speaking with LaQuita Herrin, who has been sharing her very interesting life story. She and I may have crossed paths many, many years ago, when I attended college and she lived in a very nearby town. And she moved many times with the Navy when her husband was enlisted there. And then he did pass away and she's become an advocate for those caregivers, for family members with Alzheimer's. LaQuita, when did you first hear about Sew Powerful?


LaQuita 16:10

I think it was in November of last year. So, it hasn't even been a year yet.


Jan 16:12

2020, right?


LaQuita 16:17

2020, yes. We're in the middle of a pandemic and I'm trying to think of things I can give my nieces for Christmas and not have to go shopping. And I have some fabric and so I was looking for a simple purse pattern. And I came across the Sew Powerful beginner pattern, and it's free. And I thought, well, that's a wonderful idea. So, I printed out the pattern, and then started researching, Well, why did they have? Why is it Sew Powerful? Why, you know, why is that the name and then I read up on the ministry and started listening to podcasts and looking at the videos and then found the Facebook group with all the beautiful purses. And I was so excited that. So, I sewed my first purse and I put the photos in the Facebook group and I said, I will not be mailing this purse because first of all, I made it out of off-white duck cloth, which is not going to work in Africa. And secondly, I didn't get the box pleat [corner] right. My pocket that goes on the front was on the back, which apparently comes out often for people. And...


Jan 17:30

I did it seven times before I figured out what I was doing wrong. So okay.


LaQuita 17:35

Oh, well, I feel better then.


Jan 17:37

Oh, yeah. So, well. And I have to tell you, people told me it was the box pleat [corner]. And I said, That can't be it. That can't be it. I was so stubborn. And then finally I was like, oh yeah, it is the box pleat [corner].


LaQuita 17:49

Well so, yes, I wanted to give up, but Valentine's was coming. They did not get their purses for Christmas. But I persevered after watching more posts and more people saying the same thing. So, I managed to sew four purses for my nieces and got three out of four pockets correct.


Jan 18:10

All right.


LaQuita 18:11

And got those mailed for Valentine's Day. And since then, I made one purse for a friend, my dear friend Mary. She is 21, she has the sweetest spirit. And she has Downs Syndrome. But she's just one of my best friends. And so, I sewed her a Frozen purse and she was so excited. And I thought okay, I think I'm ready now. I'm gonna start sewing for Sew Powerful. So, as we speak, I'm ripping out more seams because I didn't line up the back placket and the front pocket just to get it started, but it is okay. I will get there and I will have it on Facebook. Probably before the podcast makes it out. But the idea, I grew up not rich. My Daddy died when I was actually nine. And when I started my monthly, I didn't know, we hadn't even had the class in school yet, what to do with those products. And so, when I saw that part of the mission is to teach these girls and to provide them with the things they need, that is a basic thing for going to school and feeling comfortable, and learning. So yes, that's exciting to me to be able to help with a mission that does that.


Jan 19:31

Okay and can, as a new as a new purse maker, you're challenged by the box pleats [corners] but there's also something else that you told me was a little difficult for you.


LaQuita 19:46

For me it's the several layers, because you've got the front pocket and the pocket has a lining. And then you have the front piece and then the front piece has interfacing, if you need interfacing. And then you're trying to connect that with the back piece that also should be reinforced. And they're just such thick pieces. And part of my issue that you pointed out to me is I started with duck cloth from drop cloth and denim. And those are both thick items and so you suggested switching to more of a, did you say a chambray, something thinner?


Jan 20:26

Yes. And so, if you use...


LaQuita 20:28

Still reinforcing so but not so thick.


Jan 20:31

Yeah, quilters cotton interface makes those layers easier to sew through. But sometimes I do use heavier fabrics, but when I do that, I make sure the other pieces are a little bit thinner so to overcome that, because there is a couple of places where you are sewing through multiple layers, but that's just the nature of putting together a purse so. You'll get there, you'll get there, I promise, and the fact that you've already made seven purses? Is that the right count?


LaQuita 21:06

Five, sorry.


Jan 21:07

Five purses.


LaQuita   21:07

Working on my sixth.


Jan 21:08

Your sixth, and the sixth one is one you're going to send in, the first one to send in.


LaQuita 21:13



Jan 21:14



LaQuita 21:14

So, it took a little practice for me to feel confident that someone would be able to use the purse after I made it.


Jan 21:22

Well, I, you know, I think everybody is their own worst critic. So, describe this purse so that when we hear the podcast and then we see the photo we'll know that this is the purse that we're talking about here.


LaQuita 21:34

Okay, it has a lot of blues and greens and teals and a vine print through it. And then the lining has a turquoise with some yellow and some purple dots.


Jan 21:49



LaQuita 21:50

I actually cut up an old purse that part of the vinyl had gone bad on and saved the fabric, so the inner lining is a bright blue. So, I'm re-upcycling I guess, recycling this fabric and that also was part of the challenge, was making the pieces come together to fit into the size for the purse. And, but so I don't have any money involved except for the strap. I have the webbing for the strap. So, it's a cost effective way for me because I'm on a, you know, fixed income now that I'm a widow, to to be able to give back but also use things that God's already provided for me. This is all fabric I had.


Jan 22:35

Absolutely. Well, and you know, I alluded to this earlier. Kathleen Broadfoot lives in Indiana, you grew up in Indiana, I went to college in Indiana. And Kathleen posted something in the Facebook group about a project, an Indiana-related project. Can you describe that and how you participated in that?


LaQuita 22:58

Sure. She said she was interested in other women from Indiana that had any tie. If they wanted to donate some fabric, she would take the varieties of fabric and make a purse. So, I contacted her and told her that I (she wanted blues and golds), so I had a, it looks like a white, a gold background white trellis fabric. And I had a separate fabric that's a gold background with bees on it. And my best friend Sheila Spencer, from Madison (we went to, all the way from elementary school through, she still comes and visits, our families are close) is a beekeeper and I've invited her and she's part of Sew Powerful now, too. She hasn't sent a purse in yet but she's part of it, so.


Jan 23:46

Okay, now say her name again so we'll give her another shout out.


LaQuita 23:50

Sheila Spencer.


Jan 23:52

Sheila Spencer from Madison, Indiana. Welcome to Sew Powerful.


LaQuita 23:56

She actually lives in Floyd Knobs now, but she grew up, her parents are still in Madison.


Jan 24:01



LaQuita 24:01

But, so the beekeeper or the bee fabric is in honor of Sheila, still in Madison. And Kathleen has used both of those fabrics, but she actually made more than one purse. So recently I was listening to Kathleen's podcast from 2020 and she said, I have some denim fabric, but I haven't ever sewn the denim into a purse yet; I will eventually. And when she made some of these Indiana purses, she had sewn denim into the purses. And I thought, How fun is that, to hear someone's journey, like to know when, you know, she didn't use denim yet. I have used denim, but then we both used denim and some of the same fabric to make a purse at the, you know, a similar time.


Jan 24:52

Well and you know she was asking for blue and gold fabric and I looked through my stash and I didn't see anything, but my Indiana tie is my college tie in that the colors were crimson and white, which I had some fabric--honestly, it looks like peppermint striped for Christmas--but I sent it I sent it to Kathleen anyway and she very cleverly incorporated it into at least two purses. So that was a really fun project and a way to engage people and make us feel like we're all connected even though we may not have known each other before.


LaQuita 25:28

Yes, that was fun. I really enjoyed that. And it would be really fun to at Georgia one, I don't know.


Jan 25:34

Oh, that would be great. Well, it was fun because Kathleen did all the work. I just mailed piece of fabric.


LaQuita 25:40

Right. That that also was encouraging to me, not to be the one ripping out any seams.


Jan 25:46

LaQuita, what would you say to somebody who's maybe not a very experienced sewer but wants to get started making purses for Sew Powerful? How would you encourage them?


LaQuita 25:58

I would encourage them to first of all, look through fabrics they already have, so that they're not investing in something that they'll feel bad if they cut it the wrong way, and have to cut the next piece of fabric. I cut the duck cloth on purpose, because I already had it, it was a large piece of fabric. So, starting with fabric you already have. I started my first purse without watching the video, I just tried to follow the printed-out directions. It helped me so much to go back and watch the video and have it where I could pause the video and look to make sure I'm lining up my fabric the way Cinnamon (I think it was Cinnamon on the, it was the 2018 video that I watched). Am I lining it up correctly? Am I understanding what the written-out says with what I'm seeing visually? I need to see things; it helps me learn. So those are my biggest things is and take your time. And I'm so glad I know that everyone rips out seams at some time.


Jan 27:07

Absolutely. Absolutely. Well, LaQuita, I have to say it's been a pleasure to to talk with you and to find our connections and find out that they go well beyond Sew Powerful, and your interesting life and the admirable work that you're doing in your community and the contributions that you're making to Sew Powerful. We thank you very much. It's been a pleasure speaking with you.


LaQuita 27:33

Thank you. I really enjoyed this. It was fun.


Jan 27:36

Well, good. And anybody else who might be reluctant to be on a podcast: it's just easy. We're just talking, right?


LaQuita 27:44



Jan 27:45



LaQuita 27:47

Yeah. And I'm excited too, because I'll be able to listen back to this in a few years and who knows how many purses I will have sent by then. And you know, the changes God will have performed through the schools in Zambia, the difference. So that's exciting. It's not about me, it's about what we're doing for them.


Jan 28:08

Absolutely. Well, thank you so much for your time. It's been a pleasure. We'll talk to you soon. Bye bye.


LaQuita 28:14



Jan 28:15

If what you've heard today inspires you to want to make a difference, I urge you to explore the Sew Powerful website at That's SEW POWERFUL dot ORG. The website has great information about the organization. It's where you can download the free purse patterns or even make a donation. We hope you will join us again next week when we bring you another Sew Powerful story. Thanks for listening. Now, go out and have a Sew Powerful day.


Amy Brooks, A Most Unconventional Life

Amy Brooks came to our attention at Sew Powerful because she wrote a story for the second edition of the We Are Sew Powerful book. I hardly know where to begin in describing this remarkable woman. She is an artist, author, entrepreneur, motivational speaker, independent, determined woman and a very strong Christian. But another part of Amy's identity is that she is differently able, having been born with no arms or legs. That has not stopped her from achieving a very long list of accomplishments, including sewing a Sew Powerful purse. I am in awe. You will be too.


No arms no legs no problem, differently abled, purses, struggles, Amy Brooks, mobility van, engaged to be married, adoption, God, sewing with no arms, author, artist, moving away from home, importance of faith, overcoming challenges


Host: Jan Cancila
Guest: Amy Brooks


We are Sew Powerful, How a Global Community of Seamstresses Is Changing Zambia One Girl at A Time, 2nd edition. By Jason G. Miles and Cinnamon, © 2016 & 2020 Jason G. Miles and Cinnamon, all rights reserved.

Sew Powerful 2021 Spring Summit,

Amy’s website,

Amy’s books, “Unseen Arms” and “Unseen Arms, Reaching Out,” available at

Amy's Facebook Fan Page,

Amy’s YouTube Channel,

Arms Around Amy GoFundMe,

Caring Hearts Ministry,

Favorite Scripture, Psalms 139:14


Jan Cancila, Host 00:06

Welcome to the Sew Powerful podcast. This is your host, Jan Cancila. You know the sound of my sewing machine means it's time for another episode. So, let's get started.


Jan 00:24

Amy Brooks came to our attention at Sew Powerful because she wrote and submitted a story that was published in the second edition of the We Are Sew Powerful book. But Amy Brooks is so much more than a story writer. Today you are going to meet an artist, an author, entrepreneur, motivational speaker, an independent determined woman. Amy is also a very strong Christian. A part of Amy's identity is that she is differently-abled, differently-abled than you and I, but the key word is abled, and boy is Amy abled. I want you to meet Amy Brooks. Hi, Amy, how are you today?


Amy Brooks, Guest 01:15

I'm good. How are you? Thank you for having me.


Jan 01:17

Oh, we are so excited. We've been looking forward to this for a long time. Why don't we start off; I know many people know your your birth story, but why don't you just give our listeners just a little background about yourself.


Amy 01:33

So I was born without arms or legs. In the medical world it is called congenital tetraphocomelia. Say that three times.


Jan 01:43

Yeah, easy for you to say.


Amy 01:45

Right. I've had a little bit of practice.


Jan 01:48

I gotcha.


Amy 01:50

So yeah, just kind of means that I was born with four seal limbs. And that's kind of exactly what they look like, I think. And I was abandoned at the hospital by my birth family and then adopted by a loving Christian family who would love me as their own.


Jan 02:08

And did you have siblings growing up?


Amy 02:11

I did. So, I have two older brothers and two older sisters. And believe it or not, I was actually closer in age to my nieces and nephews. So yeah, so I kind of grew up more with them. And I was also close to my brothers and sisters, but they more looked out for me and, you know, as their little sister.


Jan 02:31

Yeah, the baby of the family.


Amy 02:32



Jan 02:33

Yeah, we have, we have a baby of the family and, and we looked out for her too. And she's grown up to be a fierce woman.


Amy 02:40



Jan 02:40

So, you have to watch out for those young ones, so. Tell us a little bit about, you mentioned your family was a Christian family. Tell us about your faith growing up and what that's meant to you.


Amy 02:52

Yeah, so like I said, my my family is a strong Christian family, and they leaned on God to raise me, you know, they they were unaware of what to do when I came along. My Mom just kind of knew that I was supposed to be theirs but had no idea what to do with me, you know. And so, they really relied on God to to know how to raise me and to do the best that they could with me. And by doing that, they didn't treat me any differently than my brothers and sisters, you know. They instilled in me the want and drive and the importance of being independent. And so, whatever my brothers and sisters were doing, and my nieces and nephews, I did as well. And yeah, so I've always had that in me to want to be independent. And that was because of my parents.


Jan 03:45

Well, that's that's fantastic. And so, I'm a Facebook friend, and you recently shared some extremely exciting news. Tell our listeners what happened.


Amy 03:58

So, I got engaged about two weeks ago, super excited, to my best friend. So, yeah. God was in the beginning of, was in this from the very beginning and I'm just so excited.


Jan 04:13

Okay, so okay, we have to ask all, for all the details now. Did he get down on one knee?


Amy 04:19

He did. You know, and he actually prayed over us first before he asked and and just prayed that God would hold him accountable and that he was very committed to us. And and then he knelt down and asked me, at a little park nearby, oh, on a bridge over a little creek, so.


Jan 04:36

Oh my gosh, that sounds so romantic. And were you surprised, or did you know this was coming?


Amy 04:41

I kind of knew it was coming. Yeah, he he doesn't live in the area, so I don't get to see him in person as often as I'd like. And so, he had a trip planned up here to see me and we kind of, I kind of knew that it was going to happen, but I didn't know how or anything like that. So, yeah.


Jan 04:59

And and so have you been making wedding plans?


Amy 05:02

Yes, extreme, extremely. Because it's happening this September, so.


Jan 05:07

Oh my gosh. Oh, very soon. Oh, how wonderful.


Amy 05:10

Yes, very soon. So yeah, I'm definitely in wedding planning mode.


Jan 05:13

Well, that's great. And where do you live, Amy?


Amy 05:16

I live in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


Jan 05:18

Mm hmm. And after the wedding, where will you stay in the Pittsburgh area?


Amy 05:23

No, I'm leaving the area. So yeah.


Jan 05:26

Oh, my gosh. And so, you've been living with your parents, of course, since birth? And now this is going to be different, isn't it?


Amy 05:35

A complete change, a complete change, yeah. And it was really hard to make the decision, but I think it's the right decision. And my family took it extremely hard, that I won't be here anymore. But I think over time, they've kind of come to realize what I have, and that God was in this from the beginning and had this planned. And they love my fiancé very much and they see how good he is with me and how well he protects me and takes care of me. So, I think they're just really excited for me as well.


Jan 05:38

Well, and I can imagine, maybe in your situation, parents might be a little bit more protective but...


Amy 06:16



Jan 06:16

But yeah. But you know, they're usually like that when their daughters get married anyway.


Amy 06:20



Jan 06:21

So you just got engaged, but how did COVID and the lockdown and all of that, how did that affect you over the last year?


Amy 06:30

Oh, it was really hard, actually. And my parents are in their 80s. So, it was really hard on us as a family, you know, making sure that they were safe. And I had a lot of health issues and personal things going on, as well as the rest of my, you know, other family members were going through a lot of things besides COVID. And so, it was just really, a a tough year, all around. And so that kind of makes this engagement even more special because I know where I was a year ago, and how hard things were and how dark they felt, you know. And, you know, God has just been showing me that He's in every little detail, so.


Jan 07:14

That's wonderful. I think we would be remiss if we don't mention your fiancé’s name. We've got to give him a shout out. What is his name?


Amy 07:22

His name's Michael.


Jan 07:23

Michael. Hello, Michael. You better be good to our girl Amy.


Amy 07:28

He is super good to me.


Jan 07:30

Amy, a lot of people know you because they they watch your YouTube channel. Tell us about some of some of the videos that are on your YouTube channel. You have a specific little series too, right?


Amy 07:45

Yeah. So, my series is called ‘How Does She Do It?’ And you know, people are always asking, well, how do you do this? And how do you do that? And a friend of mine suggested that I start making YouTube videos about it. And to be honest, at first, I was really totally against it, because I hate being on camera. And you know, just being in front of crowds, which is ironic because I am a motivational speaker. But, you know, after praying about it and everything I decided to give it a try. And I figured, well, I'll be the one editing it anyway. So, I can, you know, make it however I want to, you know. And yeah, so I just started thinking of things that people will always ask me how I do. And I show them how I'm able to do those things in short little videos.


Jan 08:35

Well, and because we are Sew Powerful that you have a two-part video segment where you show how you use your sewing machine.


Amy 08:46



Jan 08:47

When I saw you threading that sewing machine. Oh my gosh. I mean, I have trouble threading my sewing machine with 10 fingers and two arms. But could you describe how you thread your sewing machine?


Amy 09:02

Like each step or just generically?


Jan 09:05

Well, I mean, with what what body parts do you use?


Amy 09:07

Yeah. I use my mouth, mostly. I use my mouth for mostly everything. And I do have, like I said, little extensions of arms. And so I use those for things too, everything is all upper body.


Jan 09:23

I was so impressed. I mean, it looked like you were using your forehead, your, and you use your tongue a lot too.


Amy 09:30

Yes, I do.


Jan 09:31

Oh my gosh. And I saw that you had a Baby Lock machine. Is Baby Lock aware of what you're doing?


Amy 09:38

I believe so. I think they may have showed my video on their Facebook page a few years back.


Jan 09:46

Okay. All right. So, you have your YouTube channel. You've been on TV a few times. Tell us about that.


Amy 09:54

Yeah, a few local news stations, a local Christian station called Cornerstone. I've been on 100 Huntley Street in Canada, and also a show called Born Different where they just showcase the, you know, differences, how people are born different and how they've overcome things, so yeah.


Jan 10:18

And so, you've written a book about your life experience, well you've written two books about your life experiences. Is that right, two?


Jan 10:26



Jan 10:26

Two. So, tell us about the books, tell us where we can get them. Tell us everything about it.


Amy 10:32

Yeah, so they're both my autobiography. The first one is called “Unseen Arms”. And the second one is “Unseen Arms Reaching Out”. And the first one is about my life from birth up until about the time I graduated from high school. And then the second one is, you know, after high school and beyond, and shares a little bit about my motivational speaking and things like that, and my adult, and more of my adult life. So, the books are available on my website,, where I will personally sign them for you. They're also available on Amazon. But I do better when you order them directly from me. And also, like I said, you get them signed from me, so.


Jan 11:19

Oh, that would be fantastic. Okay, and now, you have some hobbies. You consider yourself as an artist. So, tell us a little bit about your artistic hobbies.


Amy 11:35

Well, I've loved to be artistic ever since I can remember. I used to start out with, you know, lots of crafty things. And I remember making those, painting those Plaster of Paris houses that you see at Christmas time and ornaments and things like that. And that grew into, you know, drawing a little bit here and there, and an art, an art called Paper Tole (I'm not sure if you've ever heard of Paper Tole) where they, you take multiple copies of one photo, and you cut out all of the little intricate pieces of that photo using an x-acto knife, which I would hold in my mouth, and then you layer all those little tiny pieces on top of one base layer with silicone in between all of the layers and that creates this multi-layered effect. And yes, so sewing is my latest passion. I'd had no idea that I had the skill, to be honest. But I love it and I've been doing it probably for about four, four years, maybe now? Yeah.


Jan 12:37

Well, one of the things that you sewed, and I alluded to it earlier, was you made a purse for Sew Powerful. You downloaded the free purse pattern from the website and followed the directions. And then you submitted a story about that experience, and it was published in the second edition of the “We Are Sew Powerful” book. And the, what was the name of your, do you remember the name of your story?


Amy 13:05

I don't, actually.


Jan 13:06

It was ‘A Sew Powerful Purse Made in a Most Unconventional Way’. So yeah, so that that sort of sums up your life story, I think.


Jan 13:17

It does. I think it does.


Jan 13:18

Yeah, pretty pretty unconventional. So, you made the Sew Powerful purse, but you've gone on and made other custom handbags, right?


Amy 13:28

I have, yeah.


Jan 13:28

Tell us about that.


Amy 13:30

Well, so like I said, when I when I started off sewing, the reason I started sewing was because purses are hard for me to find that I can use for myself with, you know, zippers and snaps and things like that. I really just wanted a small purse that I could carry my cell phone in and be able to get in and out quickly and they don't make things like that with the right size straps, and you know all that. And so, I decided that I wanted to make my own and it just kind of grew from there. And I was sewing all kinds of things at the time, quilt, a quilt and everything and I just fell in love with purse making and so I've been I've been making all different kinds of purses and bags and commissions for for people who've been interested in them. And I've been so busy with commissions that I've that I've I've had orders for the last two years, so.


Jan 14:28

Oh my gosh, that's fantastic. So, so these are made to order and each each bag takes a couple of weeks for you to complete. Is that right?


Amy 14:38

At least. It depends on on the bag. Some of the smaller bags I can do in a few days. But yeah, so obviously things take me a lot longer to do and I do, you know, 99% of it myself. My Mom may help me birth the bag at the end or, you know, fold something in for me but I do all of it myself.


Jan 14:59

Wow. That is that is amazing. And you put a little logo on that you sew into each bag. Tell us about your logo.


Amy 15:07

Yeah. So, I named it ‘Stitched with a Kiss’. I thought that was pretty clever because I use my mouth to to make everything. So, a cute little play on words, I guess.


Jan 15:19

Yeah, I guess so. That's great. Now, a while back, there was a GoFundMe fund. And the purpose, tell us about that and what the purpose was and what the result happened.


Amy 15:32

Yeah, so the purpose of the GoFundMe was for me to get a new van, one that hopefully, I would be able to drive myself. And obviously, those those modifications cost quite a bit of money. And a van that is handicap modified in the first place is very expensive. And like I said, my parents are in their 80s and on a fixed income, and it's not something that we could really afford. So, an organization called Caring Hearts headed up that GoFundMe for for me and my family. And we raised enough money to get a van, albeit it wasn't modified for me to be able to drive. But it was definitely a blessing for us because our other van had been extremely old and had a ramp in it that was 25 years old that followed me for most of my life, and, and they don't even make them like that anymore. So, it's been a blessing and it's been extremely easy for me to get in and for my parents to strap me down and things like that. So yeah, it's been a huge blessing.


Jan 16:43

Oh, that's fantastic. And, Amy, what goals, or what are you looking forward to, that's coming up in in your life? I presume your marriage is one of those, right?


Amy 16:55



Jan 16:56

Yeah. So, talk about that a little bit.


Amy 16:59

Yeah, well.


Jan 16:59

What are you looking forward to?


Amy 17:02

I think keeping my own house, or my own place is going to be a big deal. And I'm almost 40. And so, I've lived in the same house with my parents for my whole life. And, yeah, we live in a little community. So, I have been, you know, in two different bedrooms of this house for my whole life. And now I'm about to not only step out of this house, but outside of the state, you know.


Jan 17:31



Amy 17:31

Away from my whole family who has been my rock, you know, this whole time. And so, my whole life is about to change. And I'm looking forward to the adventures that I'll have with my goal, and all of the things that God has in store for us as a couple in this new chapter of our life.


Jan 17:51

That's wonderful. Well, you know, this podcast is going to drop on the same day as the opening of the Sew Powerful Spring Summit. And the name of the summit this year is ‘Gifts and Callings’. And so the speakers that we have at the Summit have been asked to answer 10 different questions as part of their presentation. And so, I'm going to just ask you to answer five. So, I'm not gonna give you the whole list. So one of the questions that that the speakers are going to be answering is, what do you think the key is to finding your purpose in Christ?


Amy 18:36

This is a hard one.


Jan 18:38



Amy 18:40

I think, to be honest, every Christian's purpose, if you love the Lord, is to share His love with others, no matter what else you do. But I think that He places in each of us a desire and abilities and talents, and whatever those are, if we use them to glorify Him is our gift back to Him. And He's definitely gifted me artistically. And I hope that I'm giving that back to Him with my life and the things that I do with my art and my artistic abilities.


Jan 19:25

For a hard question, you sure gave a great answer. Thank you for that. The next question is, how do you balance your dreams with that of your everyday responsibilities? And you mentioned earlier that things take longer for you. And, you know, you're you're not asking your Mom to get get the ironing board and set it up because I want to sew, you're doing all those things on your own, correct?


Amy 19:50

Mm hmm.


Jan  19:51

Yeah. So how do you balance your dreams and your goals with your everyday responsibilities?


Amy 19:58

So as far as, you know, just everyday responsibilities as far as making sure the place is clean and, you know, I'm doing my every everyday little things. Yeah, it's really hard, to be honest, because I only have a limited amount of energy in a day. And so, there are definitely times when my Mom will be like, Amy, just let me help you. Let me set up something for you so that you can use that energy otherwise, you know, for the things that that matter. And so, there are times when I will let her help me. And it's, other times I let other responsibilities go for the day. And it's just, it is a balancing act, like you said, and it's a tough one. And some days things don't get cleaned up. And other days they do and the purses go by the wayside, you know. And it does take me longer to do things. Thankfully, the people who I make purses for give me grace, and wait for me to do those things. And yeah, I'm not really sure how else to answer that. It is definitely a balancing act.


Jan 21:18

Absolutely. What encouragement would you provide to someone who's struggling right now? They're trying to find what their calling is. How would you encourage them?


Amy 21:31

Yeah, like I said before, I think that God gives us certain talents and abilities and desires for a reason, you know? And when we, when we know what those are, I mean, even if you don't know what they are, ask somebody what they think you're good at, what what what do they feel that you're that you're good at? And I think that's where your calling is. Maybe you're just someone who encourages well, you know? And maybe you're someone who serves well. Yeah, I mean, I think it's what He's made us to do is what our purpose and our calling is.


Amy 22:14

Alright. And do you have certain scriptures or Bible verses that are particularly meaningful to you, Amy?


Amy 22:22

Yeah, so I love Psalms 139:14. It says, I praise you because I'm fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful. I know that full well. And that's been my life verse because God doesn't make mistakes. He knew exactly who I would be. He knew exactly who you would be. He doesn't make mistakes. And, you know, I've always believed that about myself. To be honest, since meeting Michael, I didn't realize how much I still struggled with that. Him loving me and wanting me actually made me see how much I do still struggle with feeling like I'm worthy of that love. And so, he's helping me to grow in that way. And but yeah, like I said, He doesn't make mistakes. And He's using my life to bless others, by being the way that I am and just living my life before people, you know. And I wouldn't change that.


Amy 22:31

Well, and you're blessing us just by by your words of encouragement today. So that's wonderful. Okay, here's the final essay question for you. What inner struggles have you had to overcome to fully step into your life as you're living it now? And, you know, I started not to ask this question of you because your outer struggles are the ones that are obvious to us. But I'm sure, like everyone else, you have inner struggles that (you sort of alluded to that maybe a little bit earlier) but talk to us about inner struggles?


Amy 24:12

Yeah. So, I mean, you said you see my outer struggles. To me, honestly, they're not struggles. I was born like this so I don't know any different. Those I see who have come home from battle who have lost their limbs, and they've had them once before, those are the true heroes because they had something and they lost something that they had and they have to relearn and start a new life completely different. I was born like this, so I don't know any different. And yes, I do things differently and they may be hard, but it's all I know. And like I said, I would say that my struggles are more mentally and and inwardly. And like I just said, I didn't realize how much I struggled with the fact that I'm worthy, and even though I tell everybody else that they are, you know. And I've been hurt like any other person, by people in my life and, or health struggles, you know, things like that. Those are times when I have been at my lowest. And I've really had to say, do I really trust you God? Or don't I, you know? Because people think that I trust Him so much because of my physical disabilities, but the real trust comes in when I don't know what the answer or the outcome is going to be with my health or with a relationship, you know. So, yeah.


Jan 25:46

So Amy, if our listeners want to go to your website and see the purses or, and the other thing we didn't talk about is your speaking engagements. Tell us a little bit about that.


Amy 25:59

Yeah, so I haven't done any for a while. This is actually the first time I've spoken in quite a while or had any kind of interview or anything like that, since the pandemic, since before the pandemic. But yeah, I have been all over the place. Like I said, Canada, I've been to North Carolina, and, you know, the tri-state area around me, all over Pennsylvania. And I'm hoping to continue that. That's something that Michael and I are both looking forward to in our journey together and to being able to travel and and share my story and how much God loves them and doesn't make mistakes.


Jan 26:38

Absolutely. So tell us, what is your website?


Jan 26:41

My website is


Jan 26:44

Okay. And that's where we can find the purses, the speaking engagement, the books.


Amy 26:50

Mm hmm.


Jan 26:50

Anything else there? You have a blog on there?


Amy 26:53

Not a blog, but I do share some of the places that I've been on video.


Jan 26:59



Amy 27:00

Some of the other interviews that I've done, are there and you can find my YouTube channel from there as well.


Jan 27:05

Okay. All right. Very good. And, Amy, this has just been such an honor to talk with you and you're so easy to talk with. It feels like I've known you forever.


Amy 27:17

Aw, thank you.


Jan 27:17

I mean this was just like, I forgot that we're recording this. It just feels like two people who maybe know each other. So, any last words that you'd like to give a shout out to the Sew Powerful listeners who are thinking about making purses to help the girls in Zambia?


Amy 27:34

Oh, absolutely do it. I love to be able to give back but it's so hard for me to give back. I can't be there physically for people in a lot of ways. And this was an opportunity that I had, that I, something that I was actually able to do to give back. And I think the girls deserve that dignity. And and to be given the opportunity to make make something of themselves and and to find their purpose in life as well. And I was just glad to be a small part of it. And I wish that I had more time to make more purses, because I absolutely would, I loved doing it. So, I think you should definitely do it. It's it's very rewarding.


Jan 28:17

Well, thank you very much for your time today. It's been an honor to meet you and talk with you. And please check out, and check that out. And if you're going to buy the book, buy it from her website and help Amy out right there. So, all right. Well, hopefully we'll talk again soon. And thank you again for your time.


Amy 28:40

Thank you so much for having me.


Jan 28:42

You're welcome. Bye bye.


Amy 28:43



Jan 28:44

If what you've heard today inspires you to want to make a difference, I urge you to explore the Sew Powerful website at That's SEW POWERFUL dot ORG. The website has great information about the organization. it's where you can download the free purse patterns or even make a donation. We hope you will join us again next week when we bring you another Sew Powerful story. Thanks for listening. Now, go out and have a Sew Powerful day.


Jan Cancila has been making purses for Sew Powerful since 2014. She serves the organization as Director, Global Volunteerism, the Area Manager for Shows and Events-Mid/South USA and as the Houston Regional Coordinator. She was a public speaking major at Hanover College and holds an MBA from Our Lady of the Lake University. Jan had a 25-year career with The Coca-Cola Company before owning and operating a linen and party rental business in Houston. She is married with two grown sons, a lovely daughter-in-law and two remarkable granddaughters. Jan’s published work includes more than 100 online articles for Reach Jan with comments or suggestions at