Libby Grandy

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Inspirational Stories


Cross-Stitching My Way Through Life

(Published Fresh Ink 2008)


It came as a complete surprise to me when I discovered that I enjoy cross-stitching.  When I first saw the ridiculously tiny stitches, my reaction was, “No way!”  However, when I looked at the Victorian picture that was supposed to emerge from the intricate design, my second thought was, “How lovely,” and so my venture into the world of needlework began.


As I counted my stitches and chose colors, an analogy kept returning to my mind.  Cross-stitching is like this journey we call life.


In this kind of needlework, you start with a blank canvas.  Fortunately, there is a design to follow, although, when you look at the myriad of colors, it is overwhelming for a moment.  When I began my latest pattern, I doubted that I would live long enough to finish.  A few months later, however, it was complete. 


When you begin adding colors to the linen, you understand why so many variations are needed.  If you didn’t have several hues of pink and red when cross-stitching a rose, it would simply look pretty.  When the various shadings are added, the rose becomes vibrant and lovely. 


Isn’t that like life?  It is the different aspects of daily living that flesh out the picture of our lives.  As a woman, I began my life as a daughter and sister and grew into a wife, mother, grandmother, friend and colleague.  No one role defined me.  All of them shaped me into the person I am today.  


The other similarity lies in the area of faith.  There are places on the cross-stitch design that are unidentifiable.  You have to trust that what you are stitching is going to make sense in the end.  When you look at all the symbols, representing colors, it seems impossible that anyone could create such an intricate design. 


We have the same times in life, stretches of time when we are simply doing what we believe we should be doing, even though we can’t be sure of the outcome.  Days when we have to put one foot in front of the other and hope that we are on the right path, that later it will become clear where our journey is leading us.  Days when we must trust in a Higher Power for guidance.


I remember working several days on a pattern, adding one subtle color after the other, hoping that I was doing it right.  One day I picked up the piece of linen and saw that a basket of flowers had emerged.  My heart sang.  The careful, meticulous stitching had been worth it. 


Often we come to the end of a difficult time, when we had to walk in faith alone, and feel the same emotion.


My first endeavor was a picture of two swans, drifting on water, surrounded by flowers.  I got about three-quarters of the way through and put it away, caught up in the busyness of life.  When I found it later, I realized that I only had a few flowers to go and said to myself, “I should finish this.”  I did, framed it and stood back, amazed!  What had appeared to be a relatively small piece of linen in my hands was suddenly a large picture.  Now how had that happened?  I had been so focused on working on one small section at a time, that I hadn’t realized the size of the project until I finished it.


Recently, I turned my cross-stitch over and noticed how beautiful all the colors were on the back, however, there was no discernable pattern.  When I turned it to the other side, there was the lovely pattern.  Perhaps that's what is going to happen to all of us one day when we leave this earth and join loved ones on the other side.  We will clearly see the overall pattern of our lives, the many variations of our love, joy and sorrow—and hopefully be satisfied.


So I’m going to continue to live my life in faith and pray that when I pull my last stitch through, God will be pleased.