As a young girl, a friend taught me to cross stitch. I loved seeing her beautiful creations and I quickly learned it takes a lot of little x’s to make a picture. I didn’t love the tedious sewing work, but I was eager to create something. I would count the rows and put one X after another. My work wasn’t neat, my knots were bumpy and my stitches imperfect and when I turned my fabric over, the backside looked like a tangled mess.
Sort of like the story of my life.
When I was in the 8th grade, I was in a peer program in my public school. The peer program matched older students with younger ones. I was paired with a high risk 5th grader.
Her name was Tiffany. And she changed my life. Or at least the way I viewed my life.
I grew up in a sheltered home. I had loving parents and a great church. My biggest concern was complexion outbreaks.
I’ll never forget the day I met Tiffany. The school counselor introduced us. I knew she came from a tough environment, but I don’t think I even knew what that meant. When she walked through the door, my first impression was, “this is what poor looks like.” Her clothes were dirty and threadbare. She wore a mismatched headband in her tangled hair. She looked sad. And so much older than she should. She also was tall for her age, and appeared to be just a size under me.
Our first meeting was awkward. The second time, we talked. I will never forget what she told me. “My mom ran off last year. She left me with her ex-boyfriend. It’s just me and him and he’s mean to me.”
I didn’t know what to say, so I hugged her.
I still remember what I felt in that tiny room. I wanted to help Tiffany. I had never met a desperate child before. It was the first time my heart broke for someone other than myself.
Through tears, I told my mom and sister Tiffany’s story at home that night. They agreed that we had to do something. My sister and I filled 3 huge bags with clothes and shoes. I remember going through my costume jewelry and picking out some of my favorite things for her.
I had never given anyone something of mine before. And it felt good. Handing my used things to a flabbergasted, grateful girl was a defining moment for me. We both cried and hugged. I saw the hope in her eyes.
I couldn’t wait to see her in new clothes.
But I never did. The next time we were supposed to meet, she was gone. The counselor explained that her stepfather withdrew her from school. No contact information. No forwarding address. I tried to explain what she told me. The counselor patted me on the shoulder and gave me the name of a new student to meet with.
I never heard another word about her, but I never forgot Tiffany.
My life went on much the same, but I was different. I also struggled to make sense of why I couldn’t have helped Tiffany more. Every time I thought of her, I said a quick prayer.
Five years later, I was a freshman in college 200 miles from home. I had just landed a coveted job as a tutor for The Texas Baptist Home for Children. It paid $12.00 an hour, a fortune for a new college student.
I got into the swing of tutoring these troubled kids after my classes. The State of Texas had removed them from their homes for various reasons. I mainly tutored elementary kids.
I came in one day, feeling down. I was dealing with the normal anxieties of young adult life. And I felt alone, away from home for the first time and questioning my purpose.
A new student had been assigned to me. Her name was Tiffany.
It took a few minutes of us staring across the table at each other, getting acquainted. And then we jumped up and hugged.
A hundred questions tumbled out of my mouth. She filled in the years since we’d last seen each other. The State had removed her two years before. She was safe. Happy. And she still carried a piece of the jewelry I had given her. There was hope in her eyes.
Our reunion was brief because Tiffany was permanently placed into a home. A real home.
His eye in on the sparrow….He knew I would meet Tiffany again one day. He had woven the tapestry of our lives together.
Thirty years later, the back of my tapestry still looks a little messy and tangled. I fret and question and worry myself into knots.
But I’m reminded He sees each of us and He is weaving a beautiful story with our lives. We don’t always understand the mess, the trials, the mundane, but He is there. Sometimes He is quiet like the gentle love of a friend, other times, He is loud, like the earthquake of an unexpected miracle.
He is always working in us and through us and in the end, it doesn’t matter how we get there, it’s that we get there.
If you are holding pieces today, or trying to unwind tangles in your life, offer it to Him. God fits the broken pieces together and is the ultimate recycler of our tangled story. For his glory.
Kristen Strong says
Oh man, Kristen, this one brought goosebumps and tears. On this side of heaven, we see the fabric’s backside and its tangled mess. On the other side of heaven, we’ll see how He weaves it all together to make a beautiful picture. That is one fine thing to look forward to. Amazing.
I love how you weave words, Kristen. You create beautiful art my friend. I love you!
I love this story and am so much more touch to realize it is true. Sometimes our tapestry is messy, but He always knows where we are going.
Katie Shannon says
Definitely lots of tears, what a beautiful story!
Barbara M. says
God bless you for being an instrument in His work! Loved this story and so glad to hear a happy ending to what could have been for Tiffany. Praise God that you listened to His voice and prayed for her along with opening your arms and heart!
Mary Carver says
Such an amazing post, Kristen. I’m so glad you shared! What a blessing to meet Tiffany and see God working!
This story really blessed my heart this morning. Thank you so much for sharing 🙂
This made me cry. I worked in a school for a year where I saw a lot of really awful situations and I wanted so desperately to do something to help, to go to the state and scream “Save these kids!!!!!” but then they disappeared and I never knew what happened to them. Your story gives me hope.
Christy Fitzwater says
Kristen, this is a beautiful story. Thanks for the reminder that even a short season of kindness can be life-changing for both parties.
Thank you for sharing your story. This is a wonderful reminder that even when we are powerless to help someone, God is more than capable to help them Himself.
You really should read the book “The Language Of Flowers”. It’s a novel, but pretty much describes Tiffany from her perspective.
Jane @ See Jane Learn says
I’m so thankful God brought you two back together…He is SO good! Loved reading this!
I needed this so much today. Thanks for sharing your heart.
What a beautiful example of the way God weaves our lives. Thank-you for sharing.
I’ve gone through things in my life and I’ve often wondered how God can use some of those painful experiences I went through for His glory. I’ve yet to see it but I guess all in His time. Amazing how God brought you back together so you could see how she’s doing and close that chapter in your life.
God bless you!
God is in the details. TRUTH!
Ruth E. Chidley says
Dear Kristen, what a beautiful word picture to describe so much of what is happening in our lives. For myself it describes perfectly what is happening within my body for I have had fourteen major surgeries, eleven of which have been on my abdomen. The last two abdominal surgeries were specifically to cut adhesions loose around my other organs that were causing great pain and bowel obstructions. The doctor said both times,”It looks like a rats nest in there and I only cut away adhesions in the areas that were causing you immediate problems because every time I cut into your abdomen it causes more adhesions to form.” What a mess!
Throughout my life, with God at my side, I’ve endeavored to give him the glory for his constant love and comfort throughout my physical challenges and other areas of life’s hurts. My desire is to always reflect God’s care and be an example of the character of Christ. It wasn’t until a few years ago when I had been told many times by doctors, friends and acquaintances, that learned my story and have said, “Just to look at you I would never have known that you had or have any physical challenges. You look so healthy/beautiful”, that I recognized that there are side benefits in acknowledging God’s goodness. No matter what I think I see when I look in the mirror, with Christ’s love shining through me, I can be beautiful to others. I have to be honest and say the compliments can cut both ways. They can lift my spirit and give me the opportunity to praise my heavenly Father or they can cause frustration when I’m experiencing a 10+ pain level and a new doctor, that doesn’t know my full history, doesn’t take my condition serious. Ultimately, I’m thankful for God’s strength to persevere and be a witness for him…a rats nest inside and a shining face on the outside…a complete child of His!
I read this once and it almost seemed so good to be true. So I re-read it. And I realized that’s the kind of God we serve — one who is finding ways to surprise us as we trust him while he’s weaving together all kinds of beautiful details. Thanks for the reminder and for sharing this beautiful story.
And yet again the goodness of our Great and Almighty Creator is revealed through ones story. What a story that was! Thank you for sharing it. The hope it gives for the seasons in life when people come and go, leaving unanswered questions or what ifs.
Heather Lapierre says
So beautiful! So inspirational!
Marinalva Sickler says
Yeah! He’s eyes are on the sparrow… Your tangle with Tiffany brought me to my own tangled thread! I saw my daughter at a distance. She’s thirty-nine but I still love her as the little girl I saw all messy being taken from me by the nurses at a very cold 2:00 am. I remember the goosebumps I had inside me as they announced I had a pretty haired girl. We named her Marcia, to celebrate my first piano teacher.
Today we are apart from each other for legal issues and I’m caring for her son. I’m back been mother again of an eight years old.
Life has twists and turns, tangled and unwoven threads or just beautifully put together by the Master’s hands. That’s all I can express right now without comprehending all pieces of craftworking of the Maker. I’m just thanking Him, even with rolling tears.
kris scorza-sobieski says
kristen….what a perfect story of what god weaves through our lives…his plans and perfect timing. when shared, they point straight to his love for us. thank you. –kris
Wow amazing i was reading and hoping youll see her again. that how God good is. :).. I love this story. And youre so right. Our mess his Glory. Thank you jesus.
Wow amazing i was reading and hoping youll see her again. that how good God is. :).. love this story. And youre so right. Our mess his Glory. Thank you jesus.
Thank you so very much, Kristen, for speaking truth into my heart, and the hearts of women 🙂 You depicted such a beautiful image for me, and this helps me to have so much hope, faith, trust, and confidence in our Lord. Thank you bunches. 🙂
That’s a lovely story. I don’t know whether you’ve heard the one about the quilt-holes? It was going round in an E-mail awhile back. About how our lives are like quilts, and it might seem sometimes as we look at ours being sewn together that others had it all – friends, families, good jobs etc. Our quilt just seems full of holes, but when we turn it over and hold it up, light shines into all the holes, making our quilt look more beautiful than any of the others.
Delonna @Chickflickdiva says
I love your story and the picture of our tangled lives. Your story really touched my heart. Thanks for sharing.
Oh my…. words cannot express the upwelling in my heart at this story. What an amazing miracle that you got to meet Tiffany later on…. God is *so* good! And yes, our stories are tangled. But God knows all the knots and the way through them. Thank goodness for that!
This touched my heart. It reminds me of when I taught first grade I let some of the fifth and sixth graders come in…to help…but mainly I sensed they wanted someone to be kind, to chat with, and yes, help out a little bit. I wonder what happened to two of my older girls that moved the year I got hurt and also left the classroom. I pray someone else will take the time to see they are of value–not just a couple of poor kids in with the masses. Thank you for your story as it reminds me to pray again for them.
Such a beautiful story!!!
What a blessing!
Jan-Western Gal says
One word describes your story – beautiful!
“But I’m reminded He sees each of us and He is weaving a beautiful story with our lives. We don’t always understand the mess, the trials, the mundane, but He is there. Sometimes He is quiet like the gentle love of a friend, other times, He is loud, like the earthquake of an unexpected miracle” – I love this, Kristen. A beautiful story, beautifully rendered. Thanks for sharing.
Karen d says
Your story brought tears to my eyes. It so wonderful to hear a true “happy ending” story in such a challenging situation. Have a blessed day.
What a beautiful God filled story! I love that we can give Him our tangled mess and in His hands it can be made into a masterpiece.
beth larson says
oh girl, your story is be-U-tiful…. i’m wiping tears of gratitude as i write you….thank God for people like you in the lives of those hurting hearts who need someone.
bless you today,
Love this! Thank you. So timely.
I love your story about Tiffany. I have many times described my life as is canvas and when I view it it is a mess but God creates a beautiful picture out of our mess. He is truly an Awesome God.
What a beautiful story of the way God works out His purposes to create beauty, when all we see is the tangled mess.
This is incredibly beautiful. Thank you for sharing.
Dana @ Cooking at Cafe D says
Such a lovely reminder that…it’s a tapestry.
And, perhaps God’s keeping the pretty side to himself for now 🙂
Your story was heart-breaking and beautiful. It reminded me of a poor family whose children passed our house on their walk to school every day. Their clothes and shoes
reflected poverty. They were very shy and quiet when my mother and I approached them with paper bags of out-grown clothes from me and my siblings, but they smiled and expressed gratitude. My perspective of those less-fortunate was changed forever.
This is truly a beautiful story! Thank you for sharing it.
Thank you for sharing this. It really touched me. God is sooo good!
Elangwe Christina says
Thank you for speaking directly to me. At this particular moment in time, my life seems to be in real tangles. Because of a serious error I made, I lost a lot of money and I find myself in real debts now. There are times I sit and wonder if something good can still come out of the mess. But your article reminds me that God can weave something beautiful even out of the messy situation for His glory. This was a powerful reminder at this moment of despondency. Thank you very much indeed.
Beth Williams says
It is amazing what God can do. I, too enjoy giving away items to people. I realize how much I have and want to share with others!
Thank you for being an instrument through which God can work!
Wow! What an encouraging and amazing story of God at work. Thank you for sharing!
I needed to hear this today as sometimes my mess seems to have no logic, purpose or beauty, it just seems difficult and strangling, and reading this I am reminded that no matter what my mess seems like to me, He is the master and makes it beautiful, and in that I will trust and hold onto in dark, hopeless times. Thank you for using your gifting for His glory.
fordjour addae says
I may neva know how to get thru it,but then, He sureli does. I await……..beautyful
fordjour addae says
I may never know how to get through periods of my life,but then, He does and I await………beautyful
How so heartfelt of a story!!!
Amazing story. Thank you for sharing. It just confirms that all those people that once God put in my life and I was able to sow seeds in their life. Today they probably are reminded of me and the seeds planted are being watered by someone else. God takes care of them, as well as He cares for me.
What a cool story!