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Twenty years ago, when I started having my babies, I was gifted some very lovely blankets by wonderful women I knew and loved. Some of my favorites had crocheted edges, and I would admire the handiwork when I held my babies wrapped in the beautiful blankets that offered warmth and reminded us of the love that had also been given with the gift. I didn’t know how to crochet then, but I knew that someday I wanted to learn how to create in this way. I wanted to be able to master that skill that could make someone else feel loved like I did.

At the recent Big Ocean Women retreat I attended in Utah, United States, Krysti Wright of Stitching Hearts Worldwide shared with us some of the efforts of her organization. Some of our members and cottages have been involved with her work, and it was exciting to hear about the miracles that she has experienced as she works to serve and lift people around the world. She shared how receiving handmade items helped people to feel loved because of the gift of time that was involved in creating the various items.

I was also glad that we were able to help with a few small projects during our retreat. She brought a loom for making a sleeping mat out of grocery bags, some file folder games to color and assemble, and I was very excited that one of the projects she had brought was making “loveys” by crocheting with soft yarn around the edge of a piece of fleece material. She explained that one of the things they do is to put together a kit with a lovey for someone to have and the material for that person to also make another one for someone else. Krysti shared how it is comforting for someone who has been abused or trafficked to be able to feel the soft blanket and the texture of the edge to help ground them as they recover, but it is also empowering for them to be able to learn a skill and serve by making one for someone else. I loved this idea of being able to offer comfort to someone in need of comfort, but also the idea of them being helped and lifted through learning and service.

I was hooked, and I was then using a hook as I learned how to crochet around the edges of the fleece with the soft yarn. I was thankful for the women who had that skill and were able to share their knowledge with me. I was thankful for the opportunity to serve and keep my hands busy as I participated in the other parts of the retreat as were many of the other women there.

I like to think of myself as a lifelong learner. I have spent my fair share of time taking college classes in between being a mom and pursuing other interests. I have learning apps on my phone and love to read and find out new things. There really is inherent joy and satisfaction that comes from gaining knowledge, even if it is just for the sake of expanding our mind or worldview. But how much more powerful is it when a woman learns something that she can then use to teach or serve or lift those around her? Monumentally so.

I thought of the great organizations and projects that work to teach women about how their menstrual cycle works – bringing biology to light and out of the darkness of shame and taboo – and then teaching them to sew reusable pads and enabling them to support their families. Of women who must gather knowledge and confidence so they can teach their children in their homes. Of women who see problems in their spheres of influence – great and small – and then work to solve them, usually having to increase their knowledge, wisdom, and understanding as they lead. My heart was filled with gratitude for the many opportunities the world over for us to be able to learn new things and to be able to serve.

It is vital to keep our minds sharp and to be able to continue to learn, but it is also incredibly important to be willing to learn new skills that will enable us to serve, and not let fear of the unknown stop us. We can watch for opportunities to teach and share the skills we have and also to gather new skills to be able to serve in new ways and help someone else feel loved.