A Tangled Mess

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:5–6 NIV

It was the mother of all yarn tangles.

In 40 years of crocheting, I never experienced the tangled mess that confronted me last week.

We were on our way home from South Carolina after a week-long visit with our daughter and her family, and I planned to work on the poncho I’m making for her as a late birthday present. I’d wanted to finish it while I was there, but other activities—more fun—called me away from my project.

The pattern was rather monotonous—75 rows of one stitch, a single crochet that tended to make progress slow because the rows got longer with each round. It didn’t help that I had to tear out 10 rows because of a wrong stitch that affected the rows following it. Two and a half hours of work unraveled in less than a minute.

But I was determined to finish her gift and finish it right. While it wouldn’t be perfect—I’ve learned to cover most of my mistakes—it would be warm, cozy, and something she asked me to make.

We were two hours into the trip and I was making good progress when the yarn tangled. Now, I’ve had yarn tangles before, but this one was the mother of all yarn tangles. Don’t ask me how it got so hopelessly snarled, but the more I tried to unravel it, the more twisted it became. And it wasn’t just the end of the skein—I’d used only half of the 370-yard skein.

So I snipped the yarn, put the poncho-in-progress in the back seat, and began untangling 185 yards of what resembled a big bowl of cooked spaghetti.

I worked the rest of the 10-hour trip and still hadn’t finished when we arrived home. DH, my usual yarn untangler, unraveled the rest of it in an hour after we’d unpacked.

Crocheting—especially yarn tangles—teaches me a lot about life. Here are 10 principles I’ve learned:

  1. You don’t toss something away because it looks hopelessly messed up. Don’t waste something that, with time and patience, can be made into something good, useful, and beautiful.
  2. Sometimes things just doesn’t go as planned. Indeed, as John Lennon once said, “Life is what happens while you’re making other plans.” So, you recalculate.
  3. It can take only a second to undo years of work. Pick yourself up and begin again.
  4. To get through the rough spots, cultivate determination and perseverance.
  5. Correcting mistakes is important if you want a satisfactory result. Even if it means undoing much of what you’ve done. Even if it means starting all over.
  6. Mistakes CAN be corrected. You just have to want to make them right.
  7. Just because you think your life is monotonous doesn’t mean it isn’t adding up to something worthwhile. Yes, the rows get longer and take more time to complete, but keep the end result in sight to give you the fortitude to push on through the monotony—and maybe even find joy and fulfillment in it.
  8. Slow progress and setbacks teach patience, and patience helps you to persevere to the end.
  9. You’re not alone. I didn’t unravel the mother of all yarn tangles by myself. By the time I got home, I was sick of it. But DH picked it up and finished it. So it is in life. Folks—I call them angels in disguise—come alongside us and help us to the finish line.
  10. You have to learn to accept help. And, even more important, know when to ask for it.

The mother of all yarn tangles now rests as a ball of yarn in my crochet project basket, waiting for its time to be made into something useful.

Thank You, God, that You can take this tangled mess I’ve made and make it into something beautiful. Amen.

Read and meditate on Romans 5:1–5.

 © 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

Pencils, Pens, and UNDO Buttons

I will call to you whenever I’m in trouble, and you will answer me. – Psalm 86:7 (NLT)

“Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow.” – Isaiah 1:18 (NLT)

When I first started writing as a profession, I kept my accounting records in a green ledger. I kept things simple with two sections: cash in and cash out. I used a pencil and painstakingly added the columns with a calculator.

Then I got a computer and discovered Excel, which automatically does the math—and fell in love. How much simpler and easier bookkeeping became—although it still isn’t very high on my “things I like to do” list. I’m a writer; therefore, words, not numbers, are my forte. But bookkeeping is mandatory in business, and I can’t afford to hire someone to do it for me.

So when I make a mistake—and I make lots of them—I thank the good Lord for the UNDO button.

This morning while bringing my bookwork up-to-date, I accidentally pasted a large section of bookwork in a place it wasn’t supposed to go, thereby copying over (and deleting) some important information.


(Timeout for a little FYI for those of you who aren’t familiar with computers: I can “copy” a section of a document on a virtual clipboard, then “paste” it anywhere I want with just a few strokes on the keyboard and a couple of mouse clicks.)

Not to worry, though. All I had to do was click on the UNDO button (either a curved arrow on top of the document or a menu option under the EDIT tab), and voila! The mistake was corrected. I didn’t lose all that documentation.

Remember grade school? We used pencils so we could easily erase our mistakes, and we made sure we had another eraser besides the one on the pencil. Mistakes are to be expected when you’re learning.

Then somewhere along the line, we graduated to pens. Then a mistake meant you tossed the paper in the trash and started all over again. Talk about pressure! It almost seemed as though we now were expected to make no mistakes.

But mistakes can’t be avoided. We’re flawed, imperfect human beings, so we err more than we’d like to admit.

And sometimes our mistakes land us in a mess only God can undo.

Remember Jacob? His mistakes, brought on by his conniving, deceitful nature, led to a flight for his life. But God met him in the midst of his mistakes and assured him that all would be well (Genesis 28:15).

Remember Israel? The nation made a real mess of things when they consistently disobeyed God. Yet, once again, human mistakes met with God’s mercy:

“This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope. Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:21–23 NKJV).

Our heavenly Father meets us in our mistakes, too. He is the ultimate UNDO button.

Thank you, Father, that Your mercy meets with my messes at the intersection of the cross. Amen.

 Extra tea: Read and meditate on Genesis 27:41; 28:10–22