An Unexpected Surprise

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”

                                           — Corrie Ten Boom

Snowflakes blurred my line of vision as my husband and I slogged our way to the thrift store. Leaning into the wind, I glanced at the front window display which always included an artistically arranged grouping of pre-owned furniture and accessories. Standing under the awning, with no snowy obstruction, I spotted the carefully posed quilt lying across a small sofa. The craftsmanship of the design took my breath away. Feathery evergreens sprinkled with bold red berries dominated the material of the hand stitched comforter. Gently used, the sheen of the cotton still glowed under the overhead lighting.

I wanted that quilt for Christmas. On my bed. For peaceful nights.

Turning to Vern, my husband, I proposed that the purchase of this masterpiece in fabric could be my Christmas, birthday, valentine and anniversary present rolled into one. Being a man who hated shopping and wrapping, he said, “Go get it.”

Long story short. The quilt did not have a “sold” sign on it, but the clerk assured me that it had been purchased by one of the store volunteers. I offered to pay more money than the volunteer, but the clerk’s shocked expression closed my lips. That day, I left the thrift store with a stash of unused  holiday wrapping paper, and a longing for a Christmas quilt.

On the ride home, I settled the matter. Obviously the volunteer had never had a Christmas quilt, either, and probably needed it more than myself. I envisioned a happy family reading a book under the evenly stitched one-of-a-kind cuddler and felt a little better.

A Surprise Package

The next day, a manila envelope arrived with the usual catalogs and junk mail. It bore the return address of my foster parent, Doris. My Other Mother had not been in contact with me for over a year, so a stuffed envelope from her was unexpected. I used a pocket knife to slice through the tape on the back. Twelve squares of quilted materials with a Christmas-y feeling slid onto the table. Doris’ note stated that she thought of me and hoped that I could finish making the quilt. I stared at the green and red patterned squares through watery eyes.

On the darkest day of my mother’s life when she lost her two daughters to foster care, God provided Doris. Only ten years older than my twelve years, Doris already was married, mother of four children, and living on a farm with her husband. Merle worked at the Fisher body plant at night, leaving her alone in rural Wisconsin on a farm. My sister and I gave her additional help in feeding and diapering the youngest, reading books and coloring with the older siblings. We cleaned dishes, folded laundry, swept floors and fried pancakes. When the cows bore their calves, my sister watched the preschoolers while Doris and I became bovine midwives. I rode the bus to a one room country school where I helped the teacher with the younger children. God had mercy upon my mother in her time of need, and supplied Doris with youthful help.

Piecing Life Together

The trip to the Quilter’s Trunk for fabric to create posts, stiles and backing filled me with warm memories of Doris and my “little sisters”. As my fingers lingered on the smooth cotton bolts, my heart filled with thankfulness for the safety of Doris’ care until my mother could bring us back home. Picking out festive colors perked up a part of me that had lain dormant for many years: the knowledge that God is in control of our lives.

Photo by Dominica Cipriani

The inscription on the finished quilt reads: “Stitched by Cleo Lampos and her foster mother, Doris Klug”. With every pull of the thread through the cloth, I grew closer to the truth of Christmas. God sent Jesus to earth to give us peace  for our broken lives.

The beautifully crafted quilt in the thrift store belongs in the right family. My comforter represents the pieces of several lives stitched together and bound up in providential love.


“We can be certain that God will give us the strength and resources we need to live through any situation in life that He ordains. The will of God never takes us where the grace of God cannot sustain us.”

                                                                                      -Billy Graham

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One Comment:

  1. Smiles…. the sunshine after the rain….

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