When I was recently assigned to a conference in the Mission Viejo California Stake, I was touched by an account of their four-stake New Year’s Eve youth dance. Following the dance, a purse was found with no outside identification. I share with you part of what Sister Monica Sedgwick, the Young Women president in the Laguna Niguel stake, recorded: “We didn’t want to pry; this was someone’s personal stuff! So we gingerly opened it and grabbed the first thing that was on top—hopefully, it would identify her. It did, but in another way—it was a For the Strength of Youth pamphlet. Wow! This told us something about her. Then we reached in for the next item, a little notebook. Surely this would give us answers, but not the kind we were expecting. The first page was a list of favorite scriptures. There were five more pages of carefully written scriptures and personal notes.”
The sisters immediately wanted to meet this stalwart young woman. They returned to that purse to identify its owner. They pulled out some breath mints, soap, lotion, and a brush. I loved their comments: “Oh, good things come out of her mouth; she has clean and soft hands; and she takes care of herself.”
They eagerly awaited the next treasure. Out came a clever little homemade coin purse made from a cardboard juice carton, and there was some money in a zippered pocket. They exclaimed, “Ahh, she’s creative and prepared!” They felt like little children on Christmas morning. What they pulled out next surprised them even more: a recipe for Black Forest chocolate cake and a note to make the cake for a friend’s birthday. They almost screamed, “She’s a HOMEMAKER! Thoughtful and service minded.” Then, yes, finally some identification. The youth leaders said they felt greatly blessed “to observe the quiet example of a young lady living the gospel.” 6
This account illustrates the commitment of our young women to Church standards. 7 It is also an example of caring, interested, dedicated Young Women leaders all over the world. They are incredible!
This experience made me think about what I carry in my “purse”; what things I surround myself with and how ready I am to be an example and to serve at any given moment. With this in mind, I made a paper bag purse filled with activities and little surprises that help us live “the parable of the purse”. To make your own you will need the following:
3 paper lunch sacks (white or kraft)
2 pieces coordinating scrapbook paper
ribbon for handle
button or other embellishment
First take your 3 paper bags and lay them on top of each other, alternating the open ends and the ends with the flaps. Fold the bags in half and stitch together with a sewing machine right down the middle. You could also try stapling or hole punching (and tying the ribbon handle through the holes to keep it all together).
Fold your bags in half then glue scrapbook paper on the front and back of the purse. I used the end with the fold on it as the front of my purse.
Next trim out the interior pages of the purse from the free download, and adhere. The first page of the download has a strip of words to be trimmed out separately as tags.
Cut them out as rectangles with extra space in front of the words. I then used a small hole punch so I could thread the tags onto paper clips.
I happened to have these fun circular clips, but regular office supply paperclips work great as well. These will identify the meaning of the goodies in our paper bag purse, as well as keep them from falling out of its pockets.
The first pocket contains a sheet of stickers, and is clipped shut with the tag reading, “to cheer”. I thought it would be handy to have some fun stickers to cheer up a friend with a letter, or to stick on a child’s hand or nose when a distraction is needed. See a struggling parent in church or at the grocery store? Perhaps a sticker or two for the child will calm things for a small moment.
The next pages are blank to write down favorite scriptures and thoughts or journaling.
After that we have a birthday calendar, to record friends’ and family’s birthdays for the year – a nice place to be reminded of a special time to show a little extra love. I put some band-aids in the pocket behind this page closed with the tag that reads, “to comfort”. Paper cuts and skinned knees can be soothed in an instant!
The next pages are a couple of my family’s favorite recipes – perfect comfort food.
The last top page has the lyrics to the hymn, “As Sisters in Zion”, along with comments made by Elder Cook in his talk. The bottom page has some tear-away compliments (idea first seen here) to give to oneself or another person needing a smile! Cut the strips along the dotted lines, then glue just the top portion to the paper sack. Behind this are some pieces of gum in a pocket closed with the tag that reads, “to speak sweetly”, reminding us to be kind and gentle in all that we say.
Now it’s time to put the finishing touches on the paper bag purse. Cut a flap shape from coordinating scrapbook paper that will go over the top and partially down the front and back of the folded purse. I first used double-sided tape to adhere my ribbon to the underside of this flap.
I then glued the flap to the purse and embellished with flowers and a button faux closure.
I suggest you save the printable file on your computer, then open in Adobe Acrobat to get the best printable file (rather than printing directly from your internet browser). Hope you enjoy these paper bag purses, and the parable behind them!
Delmy has also translated this entire blog post into Spanish. Click here
to visit her website.