For the one
(Please listen to Tiffany’s story by clicking the white play button at the top of this post. You can read the transcript of the story below.)
I married my husband, Chris, almost 31 years ago. We met and married in six weeks, which was crazy. I knew the Lord but was not walking with the Lord really at the time. Chris did not know the Lord. We had two kids fairly quickly, kind of back to back. He went to church and played the game with me. You know, like, all my family went to church and so he just kind of did whatever I did, and listened and started asking questions. His mind is very different than mine. I didn’t question the Lord. I never questioned–because the Bible says like, that’s why you do it. You have faith and you just trust in this and this is why you do it. Well, he questioned all of that.
I’m like, Okay, I have answers to that. So then I had to start studying more myself. I didn’t really have that personal connection, either I found. I was just walking on the coattails of other people. And I had to now find the answers and the who Jesus was to me. Because how could I explain that to my husband? He eventually ended up–Long Story Short, I’m going to fast forward through that. He came to know the Lord right after my daughter was born. So I now have a two year old and a maybe, I don’t know how old she was, six months old, and we were in church.
I started working in student ministry. We eventually felt called to foster. And everybody thought we were crazy because like, why would you, like–you have kids. But I kept getting these phone calls from this lady who wanted to interview us. She was from Nebraska. I don’t know how she got our name; I have no idea. She called a couple of times. We ended up meeting her at a hotel in Dallas, interviewing about a position where she wanted us to come be house parents, like get me certified to foster, but run a group home in Nebraska. At this point, Chris had finished his school and worked corporate Frito-lay and had a great job. I was president of the PTA and I’m working you know, running the youth ministry. So I remember–I mean, now if you went to work for this organization, you would make a lot more money than what we made at the time. It was a new kind of concept, you really just got your housing paid for and you were fostering eight kids.
We had no idea what we were getting into, I mean no idea what we were getting into. And we were, like I said, still really young, I think. I don’t know. I think I was maybe 26. And I’m now I’m gonna parent eight or nine really hard, troubled teenage girls? Sure, I’ll do it. What…I mean, why not? What can be the worst thing that can happen? So Chris and I are going to work together, we’re not going to really make any money, and we have to spend 24-7 together. Which, we had never done that before. (You know, that’s going to go over well.) We moved into our house and here we go. We got the girls and you know, I’m ready to change the world. I’m getting to like, I have a bunch of foster kids, and I’m going to bring them all to Jesus. It’s going to be the greatest thing.
Well, the organization we went to work for is a Catholic organization. At the organization, we worked for, we live–it was its own small city. So you live in the house, and they have a school there and then they have–really everything that’s there had its own zip code, and its own post office. The kids had to go to church; it was part of the program. They had the choice to go to a Catholic Church, or a Protestant Church. The Protestant church was led by a Lutheran pastor. But very much under the authority of the Catholic priests that ran the organization. So it was basically, a Catholic Church, or a little bit less of a Catholic church. The kids had to go to a religion class at school. The kids that were in your house had to go to a religion class at school.
So when we got in and we started going, we didn’t have to go to church on campus, we could go to church off campus if we wanted to. So we would go with our girls some and then some we would go off campus. We found another church off campus, but we could not take them with us. I wanted to do a Bible study with the girls. And so I started and well, I found out you can’t really do that. So I did like an underground Bible study and it really was underground because we had a basement. So I called it underground bible study and it was real–like, I felt like kind of the Harriet Tubman of the world. It was just really a kind of a cool deal. So we started a Bible study and we said, if you want to come, you can come–girls in our house. If you want to come, you can come. I’m down here. I’m going to do it by myself if you don’t want to come, that’s fine.
We had a house that was the hardest of the hard. I think it was just because we were young and naive; they just said, give them whatever, you know, they’ll [do it.] The older couples knew. Like, what? No. We’re not taking that kid; that kid’s gonna tear up our house and ruin our life. And they could say it. We didn’t know; we were like, bring it on. Yeah, I’ll take her. Nobody else will take her. So we had kids that were either going to–a lot of them were either going to make it in our house or go to juvenile detention or prison.
Anyway, we started having Bible study. Well, so our girls start coming and they start liking it. And they start going to religion class, and start asking questions. Well, that didn’t go over so well. So we had to have a meeting with the priest, because our girls were asking too many questions. We had to stop proselytizing in our home because of it. I was like, it’s great that they’re asking questions. They’re asking questions about the Bible in a religion class. Like, this is what you want them to do. These kids have come from really a hard place, and they’re finding hope in something… And, [The church says] No. They’ve got to stop asking the questions. Now they’re all starting to want to leave the church. They’ve all been going to Catholic Church; they’re all starting to want to go to the Protestant church. Okay, well, so they let them go to the Protestant church, which is still really the Catholic Church, only just a little bit watered down. Maybe they don’t…Maybe they read the liturgy in English instead of Latin.
[So the girls] start doing that, then every Christmas, our church did a big like–I don’t know, if you’re from the Dallas area, you would know Prestonwood does a big Christmas pageant. The church that we went to there did something very similar with–You know, they brought in live animals and all of that. It was a big deal. So they, our church would donate tickets for us to bring our girls. We started going and our girls–you know, it [the pageant] starts from the birth of Christ and it would go all the way through resurrection. Our girls started asking questions and started coming to know the Lord. And that was not…we got told that we could no longer go there. We couldn’t, our girls were asking, again, too many questions. We couldn’t take them there anymore. Our girls were really upset. And I, of course, took them there anyway. I was like, what’s the worst that can happen? Fire me. I mean, what are you gonna do? If this is what God’s called me to do, then this is what we’re gonna do. And then He’s got something else out there if this isn’t gonna work. So we went anyway; of course we got in trouble.
All of that was worth it. Just for one girl to come to know the Lord. It was worth it…
So here comes…now we haven’t been going to the Catholic Church, we were going to the Protestant church. So the Lutheran pastor comes to our house, knocks on the door and wants to talk to me. Well, Chris is gone. So we go into my office and close the door. He is talking about how we can’t take the girls to this Christmas program, and how we’ve got to stop doing what we’re doing and on and on. I just get mad. I just remember his voice raising and my voice raising, both of us had red faces. It was not going well. I’m not the person really, that should be talking to this guy. Because you’re gonna tell me that I can’t go do something. Well, first of all, I’m going to do it because you told me I can’t do it. Right or wrong. I mean, it’s just my personality, and then it’s about Jesus and you’re pastor? Like, stand up for me and say, hey, you’re doing a great thing. Take them to all the pageants. Like, keep on doing what you’re doing. But he was given the mandate by his boss to come tell us that we could not do this.
I remember all our girls being outside the door just listening. Chris came home and I can hear them say, “Go save her. You’ve got to go save her.” So Chris walks in and he was like, “I’ll take this. You go out.” So I went out and then stood by the door and listened. They were in there a really long time. And I’m like, what is happening in here? What is happening in here? And finally I’m just like, I open the door. Like, I have a right; this is my office. This is my house. I have a right to open this door and come in whenever I want to come in. And Chris was kneeling and praying with this Lutheran priest/pastor. And I just remember crying and I wasn’t sure why I was crying because I didn’t really know what was going on. I just saw this beautiful picture and the pastor saying to us, “I wish I had the faith that you had to do what you do, and to be able to stand up for it and, and to do it.” And like him, accepting Christ, being a pastor of a Lutheran church, you know? But him, accepting the Lord through watching what we were doing. It was crazy just for Chris to get to pray over him and to hear him say, “I wish I had the ability.” And I was like, You do have the ability. You just do it. You’re doing God’s work; like, this is what you do.
We weren’t on great terms with the Father that ran the place. And it was always weird to me that they called him “father, whatever.” Because I was like, He’s not my father. I’m gonna go in and I’m just gonna call him by his first name. And then everybody’s like, Oh my gosh, you can’t call him that. That’s disrespectful. And I was like, he’s not my father and I don’t have to go to him to get to my Father. I can go straight to my Father. To end up earning his respect, later… he’s passed away since, but he wrote to us after we left there. He wrote us letters every year. He sent us Christmas cards, he called us, and he ended up having great respect for us when we left.
I remember my son saying one day, “We need to have a family meeting. Family meeting!” And we asked, “how are things going?” and him kind of getting a tear in his eye and I said, “What’s going on?” He said, “I just want My mom back.” I thought, Okay. It’s time for us to take a break. So we left there and one of the girls came with us, moved with us. We kept in contact with girls over the years. I guess one of the greatest stories is–the ministry that I run now, a nonprofit that is called Belle and Sparrows, it’s just by women for women and we take women to serve other women. This last summer, one of the very first girls in that house, went with me on a [Belle and Sparrow] trip to Portland. To see her now as an adult mom of three little girls and just for her to say, Tiffany was like a mom I ever had and I wouldn’t have–if it wasn’t for Chris and Tiffany, I would have known Jesus.
For us, like, we don’t know that at the time, because they’re teenagers and you don’t know what you’re doing. You’re just doing things but you don’t see what’s happening. You know that you’re planting seeds, but you don’t really see the fruit of it and you might not ever see the fruit of it. So that’s the thing–like, for me, [I] just keep planting the seeds. And I mean, God knew, I think, that I needed that at the time…to see that, Hey, what you’re doing was really valid. And it works.
We said that all along. We said when we went there, and we told everybody, if we go there and our time there is just one girl’s life gets changed–It’s worth every bit of the trials that we went through there and putting up with being called out for everything. All of that was worth it. Just for one girl to come to know the Lord. It was worth it because, I mean, if He would do it for one, like just for me, and I was worth it, just for that just one; then why would I not do the same thing, just for the one?