Mel looked down at her hands, her bottom lip trembling. She'd just come home from college and announced she was quitting. She struggled with doing the hour and a half travel in the morning by train with the additional uphill walk, and the reverse back home again, while carrying the stuff she had to take, because she didn't yet drive.
Her dad and I knew, without a doubt, that her boyfriend would have contributed to this decision. He was a high school dropout, working at a garage and didn't yet have any goals in life. We had been praying about this situation. He was a nice boy and came from a Christian family, but he lacked direction and it concerned us.
A part of me wanted to argue with her and tell her how silly she was being. After all, it had been her dream since she was a kid but I knew, as a teen, she would rebel and push even further away. There had to be another way to deal with this and I prayed silently about it. I suggested she sleep on it that night and let us know what she decided in the morning.
A little later that evening I asked about the dress she was making for me. Mel had chosen the fabric and was enjoying this project. As she told me what she was planning and described the fabrics she had been looking at, her face lit up and I could tell she was back in the midst of her love for sewing. She seemed to go into raptures every time she fingered fabrics and it was evident in the way she spoke about them. I let her talk for a few minutes and then gently said to her “and you want to give this up?”
Mel's eyes brimmed with tears as she realised what had just taken place and told us about the challenges she'd been having and how her boyfriend had told her she should go out and get a job. I could tell she was torn – ever since she was twelve she had been sewing for her dolls, then for her sisters and herself, and she was always drawing creations and trying out new designs. It was in her blood, just as it had been in my mother's.
Her father and I sat down with her and we suggested different ways she could handle the challenges and continue with her college education. After all, she was only half way through her first year, and it wasn't a long course. She would have a diploma in another eighteen months.
The following morning Mel came out of her room announcing she'd decided to continue with the course. She had had a long conversation with her boyfriend on the phone the previous night and we weren't that sure the conversation had gone well, but she had made a decision and we were pleased to hear it.
Eighteen months later Melanie had her Diploma in Textiles and Fashion Design and she was on her way to designing bridal and formal wear, as she had always dreamed. Her boyfriend had returned to night school studying computer science and life had changed for the better. They had travelled a rocky path for a while but all seemed to be well for their planned future, as we had no doubt was now the case.
Two years passed and Melanie and Ryan remained as devoted to each other as ever. They were very committed to attending the church his family went to and Mel became an active member. And then one day Ryan rang to ask if he could meet with Mel's father over lunch. We shared a knowing look across the room; we both had a feeling we knew what was coming.
Another eighteen months passed and Mel's sewing became frenzied as she worked on the beautiful bridal gown she'd designed for herself as well as the bridesmaids' gowns. We talked about the time when she nearly gave up sewing and she thanked us for encouraging her to continue, laughing because she knows it was her own passion that kept her going.
Now she is married and continues sewing as many Proverbs 31 women do and one day, in the not too distant future, I am confident she'll also be sewing for her children.
"She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands" Proverbs 31:13 NIV
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