Saturday, December 28, 2013

I'll Go Where You Want Me To Go

It may not be on the mountain’s height, or over the stormy sea; 
It may not be at the battle’s front my Lord will have need of me;

This song has special meaning for me in my life. When my husband and I were recently graduated from college, he took a job managing a clinic and was promised great pay and benefits, and the opportunity to turn around a struggling business. He worked very hard, but despite his best efforts, the clinic was sinking further into debt. The problem was a dishonest employer who eventually lost her clinic and her license to practice.

Throughout the last 6 months of his employment my husband looked and looked for other work, but the employment in the area was severely depressed at the time. We fasted and prayed and felt strongly that we should look for work in another city, but as we prayed we also felt that the Lord was telling us “Yes… but not yet.” We couldn’t understand why the Lord would ask us to continue with this employer when week after week our paychecks were bouncing and we were having to borrow money to pay our rent and buy food.

At this time I was serving in Young Women’s over the Miamaids. One week in Ward Council I was told that a young woman had moved into our ward and wanted to come to church. The only problem was, this young woman didn’t live with her family. She lived at the group home for troubled teens. She had survived years of abuse from her father and when she finally confided in her seminary teacher and then police, her family kicked her out and disowned her. She was bounced from foster home to foster home. She felt abandoned, worthless, used, and she trusted no one. She needed more therapy than they could access for her in a traditional foster home and was eventually sent to live in the group home. 

I was nervous the first time I went to pick her up for an activity. The kids in the home had come from all different backgrounds. Most were in and out of juvi, many had drug and alcohol problems, and many suffered from mental illness. Honestly I was scared to death what type of an influence I might be bringing to my other young women. But there was something special about her and there was an instant connection.

Over the months she began to come to church, and to Girl’s Camp. We became close friends and soon she was spending all her time outside of school at our home. We would check her out of the group home at 6am and check her back in at 10pm, there was even the occasional slumber party. There were many tearful late night talks over ice cream and early morning walks discussing God’s love for her. There were honest heartfelt questions of “Why Me” and “How Can I Ever Be Normal”. There were scriptures read, blessings given, and many, many prayers said together. Our Young Women lessons took on new life as the girls bonded with her and each was able to share their own personal struggles and build each other up. The broken and scarred girl who came into our lives slowly began to like herself and to feel that she had worth. The girl who once thought of herself as worthless garbage to be tossed aside now had a burning testimony that she was a divine Daughter of God.

Slowly, after months, she began to trust again and she began progressing with her therapy and was able to interview for foster homes. We went with her as she met her new foster parents and she was so excited to show us her new room and get our approval on her new temporary family. Late in the fall she was able to leave the group home and move in with her foster family.

Within just a few days of moving her in to her new foster home, my husband received a job offer in another city. Our prayers had been answered and we felt that the Lord was saying, “Now that you’ve finished what I needed you to do here, you can move on.”

We don’t always know how to travel the path that the Lord calls us to walk. But we aren’t expected to travel it alone. As we put our trust in the Lord and take his hand we can “Go where He wants us to go.”
But if by a still, small voice He calls to paths I do not know,
I’ll answer, dear Lord, with my hand in Thine,
I’ll go where You want me to go.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The "Ugly Stage"

In crafting and theatre there is a stage right near the end of the project where you look and realize you have put an incredible amount of time into something that is just plain ugly. You have worked and worked and done everything right, but it just doesn't look like what it's supposed to yet. My craft mentor and friend taught me that this is the  "Ugly Stage"... the stage when you just really want to throw it away and never look at it again because you can't possibly see how something so ugly can ever turn out the way it's supposed to.

In theatre this "Ugly Stage" happens a week or two before the performance.  You realize that even though you have spent hours and weeks singing and dancing and memorizing lines ... somehow all you have are little pieces of a jumbled mess and you keep mixing them up and tripping over yourself and you just know that it will be the biggest flop and the most embarrasing moment of your life if you actually try to perform this ugly mess.

Then, a magical thing happens.

If you don't give up, then the craft project begins to take shape and the theatrical performance suddenly makes sense. It happens so quickly that it is hard to believe that the "Ugly Stage" even existed. But it did.

And so it is with life. There is a whole lot of working and practicing and trying to live the way we're supposed to and a whole lot of struggling and paying our dues. We look around one day and see that what we have gotten for all of our efforts is just a whole lot of "Ugly". But we can't give up, because after the "Ugly Stage" comes the finished product that is so much better than we can ever imagine when we are staring so intently at the "Ugly".

The part that makes life even better than a craft project or theatre is that our Savior is the Master Craftsman who takes our "Ugly" and shapes it into the Divine.

He is the Director who guides and directs our play into a performance worthy of Eternal audiences.

We must endure the "Ugly Stage" and have faith that through our Savior, Jesus Christ, the finished Eternal  product of our lives will be so much better than we ever could have imagined.

...let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith...
Hebrews 12:1-2

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