Monday, March 24, 2008

A Certain "Well Done"

It was almost 2 years ago that I first heard her name picnicking under a pecan tree with 2 of my favorite Moms. “Betty Cox”—even typing it now makes me want to sit a little straighter. My friend Jessica told me Mrs. Cox teaches little girls how to sew. My curiosity peeked because Julia had expressed some interest in sewing and according to Miss Barbara, she had a knack for precise stitching. I thought a sewing class might be a good fit for her as well as give her a chance to learn a life long skill. However, this is what hooked me and reeled me in with no trouble at all. She has the girls memorize scripture and rewards them monthly for it. Before our lunch ended, I got her number and called her on the way home. After being on a waiting list, we finally got a call from the efficient Mrs. Cox telling us when Julia’s first lesson would be and what sewing supplies she would need. I followed Mrs. Cox’s instructions to a T, even allowing Julia to pick out her own fabric. (which may have been one of the hardest things I have ever done) Julia was just weeks shy of 5 when she had her first lesson. I took her into the little house trimmed in blue on El Campo and felt much like I did when I used to walk into my sweet Grandmother’s home- completely comfortable but almost as if it were sacred ground. This was her beloved space……….so many memories sitting around, hanging on the wall and, the ones I couldn’t see, waiting to be retold. We were welcomed by a beautiful lady dressed in cute jeans, a stylish top and dangling miniature spools of thread for earrings. So THIS was Mrs. Betty Cox. I loved her from the start.

As the weeks went by, I found out it was a perfect fit for Julia. It was truly the highlight of her week. Once when I visited for a bit after a lesson, I got to see the reward chart for the girl’s Scripture memory. Tacked to one of her kitchen doors is a poster board with a carefully constructed chart with each girl’s name. If they say their verses at the end of the month they get a red star by their name and if they can say it at the end of the second month, they get a gold star and 2 dollars out of a jar from Mrs. Cox’s kitchen. She feels like if they know it for 2 months, they know it for life. If you look closely at her chart, at the very bottom, you will see something a little strange. It’s my son’s name. No, I haven’t signed him up for sewing.  Mrs. Cox has a small dish of candy that the girls get to dip into before they leave. Brighton, who can smell high fructose corn syrup a mile away, figured this out by the second week and strategically stood with his nose practically in the dish until Mrs. Cox saw him. Being the lady that we love, she told Brighton if he said a Scripture verse, he could have a piece of candy. Without batting an eye, he turned and gave a wonderful “Big B” version of I Corinthians 13:4 and "kind of" following. The noble Mrs. Cox melted and now, Brighton works on his memory verses, on Mondays only, and gets gold stars by his name and candy in his mouth.

One of my favorite Mrs. Cox stories is the time our babysitter, Remey, who is in her early 20’s, picked Julia up from sewing. She had Brighton with her so they both went in. Of course, Brighton was on Mrs. Cox’s heels, ready to say his verse and when he did, she led him to the candy dish. She turned and asked Remey if she had a verse and then she could have a piece too. Remey said she really wanted a piece of candy, so she pulled a verse from the recesses of her mind and found herself reciting it so she, too, could dip into the dish!

One of my OTHER favorite things she does with the girls is that while each child takes their turn on the sewing machine, which, by the way, has sewn over 2000 dresses, the other little girls sit around the table and learn to engage in “ladylike” conversation while they work on embroidery or other projects. At the end of her second year, Julia has finished 4 pillows (one that she made specifically for my bed), 3 dresses, a rag doll with clothes, a stuffed animal (cat), bedding for a miniature Moses basket, 2 embroideries and most importantly, memorized several passages from God’s word-all because Mrs. Cox asked the Lord how she could continue on in ministry after retirement and being widowed.

Every Spring for 25 years, Mrs. Cox and friends organize a fashion show so the girls can model their creations from class. Last year as I sat through our first fashion show experience, I saw everything from the traditional calico, knee length, puffy sleeve dress like Julia wore, to beautifully custom designed evening dresses and Renaissance gowns. These 17 and 18 year old young ladies had taken their skill seriously and were amazing at it! On Monday night, Julia modeled her third dress stitched partly on the machine in Mrs. Cox’s lap and partly by hand. Of course, we were proud and had a ball watching her but it was just as fun to see all of her dear little friends parading about in their own spring fashions! There is hardly anything more pure and lovely than the world of little girls!

(Julia's "fashions" from last year and this year!)
Mrs. Cox’s heart is big. Her love for these girls is obvious as she hugs on them and encourages them in their level of skill. When any of the girls has a birthday, she pops popcorn and they go around the table and give each other “imaginary gifts” by naming something that they might like to wrap up for the birthday girl. As she introduces each girl during the fashion show, she will say something personal about each one. Even bigger is her love for Christ and her trust in her faithful Savior. The evidence of her faith is all over her and is such a natural part of her exchanges with me. She knows Him and I can’t imagine the pleasure and the sweet aromas she must bring to Him. I know He can't wait to tell her face to face, "Well done, my faithful servant."

It is still Julia’s favorite activity and I think I know why. It’s the sweet lady who lives in that little house trimmed in blue.

Julia's darling "school mates" and one proud brother-- all dressed in dresses made with Mrs. Cox

Grandparent info:
Brighton got confused and thought the fashion show was going to be a puppet show and was sorely disappointed.
I wish I could say Brighton was there to support his sister, but when he got wind that cookies would be served afterwards, his only concern was "how long is it until the cookies?".
However, he did enjoy walking down the "runway" with Julia afterwards.
Oh- I dropped by my Mom's group afterwards to say hi only to find out one of the Moms in my group used to take lessons from Mrs. Cox!! Ouch!


Anonymous said...

Loved it all. How special can it get? Mom

Kathie said...

Boy- those girls are talented and Mrs. Cox is one special lady! I can't believe they actually made those outfits. Kath

Dondra said...

What a great skill Julia will have for the rest of her life but more importantly the memories and scripture in her heart. Is there anything like that for boys? :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you God that my nephew wasn't in that class. Thank you, thank you. Go catch a frog or eat some mud Big B. luv yall bsd

TJ Wilson said...

Wow - hardly know what to say! What a sweet, sweet lady and sweet night. Love learning more about Mrs. Cox and love seeing those creations. Beautiful girls. Great post, K!

"Bluebonnet in the snow" said...

Amazing -- the dresses, the Scripture memory, and the lady behind it all. Does Mrs. Cox take students whose age adds up to 6?

Krista said...

Mom- not much more
K and T- wish I could sew like you! You both could be "Mrs. Cox's" in all your spare time!
D- wishing for a carpentry class to pop up somewhere!
"bsd"- he actually did both of those last week- except the mud resembled red GA clay
bits- YES! (and that comment only from a numb3rs girl!)

simple musings said...

Well said! She is most certainly a Godsend!

Tori said...

What a sweet post! It is so encouraging to see people who know how special my sweet Memaw is. Thank you for sharing this with us, and I will try to show it to her very soon. The pictures are adorable, too!

Kathleen said...

You are precious. Betty Cox is my mother and Tori is my daughter. Tori shared this with me and it is a sweet blessing to my heart. Thank you for your sweet words and your godly heart.

Anonymous said...

I took lessons from Mrs. Cox! That was some 14 years ago, but I still remember how to sew and more importantly, I remember the scriptures I memorized! Thank you for posting this as I had just thought of her the other day and wondered if she was still teaching ladylike behaviour. I have pictures of myself at that very same fashion show as a 10 year old. Oh the memories.