Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Oreos and Tulips

I am aware that the theme of this particular blog is by nature subject to some level of cheesiness.  I still feel the need to make the disclaimer that this post feels particularly cheesy, and even a bit trite.  This story is not an uncommon one.  It's often heard in LDS testimony meetings and Relief Society lessons, told from varying viewpoints.  My version will be no more meaningful than the previous tales to anyone, but me.

This past week has been very stressful for my husband and I.  This may seem like a strange way to begin to those who know us.  Our whole summer has been stressful.  Medical testing, moving out of state, setting up camp here, crises in my extended family, selling (rather, not selling) a house,  building a house, building a warehouse ... it's been stressful for months.  

This past week has been different.  I have been scared.  We made all of these big decisions, and still feel we've done the right thing, but now there are some troubles with business.  I am praying over my fields.  I am praying for faith because I find myself lacking.  I am doing what I can to contribute in a positive, if nearly insignificant, way.  Largely, however, I feel entirely helpless.  There is in reality little that even Larry can do.  It's a waiting game.  And I don't like it one bit.

Yesterday, my visiting teaching companion showed up on my doorstep with a package of Oreos.  She'd been grocery shopping, and thought of me, and told me to sit with a glass of milk and enjoy.  (I did enjoy about 7 of them before instructing my kids to please finish them off.  An observer might have thought they'd won the lottery.)  This woman knows nothing of our problems.  She knows very little of me at all.

Today, I came home from spending $99 and change of the $100 I had for groceries, to tulips on my counter from my sister-in-law.  She knows me well, and knows a little of our current struggles, but I am hesitant to really tell anyone how afraid I am.  I called to thank her and she just said she'd been thinking about me, and everything we have going on, and the fact that Larry is in California again this week trying to get some resolution, and thought I may like some flowers.

Cheesy, yes.  Unique, no.  But I sit here in awe of how two simple actions touch my heart so significantly.  I feel like Heavenly Father is letting me know he is hearing my prayers and loves me.  We will be okay.  Things may not go how I want them to, and we may face serious trails in the coming year.  Or maybe things will work out well, and the outlook will be brighter in a week or two.  But either way, we will be okay.  We have each other and our family and friends and faith.  God strengthens us using those tools.  And when we are strong, we can handle anything.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Called to Serve

Perhaps I should feel embarrassed to admit that I have only a few times in my life prayed more earnestly for something than I once prayed against something.  

This was in January of 2004, unknowingly only months before we moved up the mountain.  Things were getting shaken up in our ward.  I had been 1st counsellor in Primary for about 18 months, and our president was about to have a baby.  My very good friend had recently been called as Relief Society President, and, right or wrong, had let me know several times that she was submitting my name for her secretary.  This ward was funny that way--callings seemed to be open for discussion and gossip well before sustainings ever took place.  So, right or wrong, she began to let me know her frustration that she was getting pretty discouraging replies regarding her request.  Again, it was definitely wrong that she found out that my name was also being submitted for Young Women Secretary, and wrong that she let me know.

I did NOT want to be in YW again.  I was just turning 30 that month and I had already spent about 6 years total in the Young Women's organization, including two as President which had concluded less than two years prior to this time.  I loved the girls, but that is an energy and time consuming calling if ever there was one, and I felt like I needed more of a break.

I decided to petition my Heavenly Father.  There was a choice of two calls that the Bishopric could extend to me.  I prayed and prayed with much energy to NOT be put in Young Women.  I pleaded for a chance to work again with my friend who had also been my counsellor for nearly two years.  But, not wanting to sound like I was bossing God around, I tried to sincerely include the sentiment that I desired His will to be done.  It was only partially true.  I also always reminded Him that I would accept whichever calling I was given, and He knows very well that that was the truth.

My prayers were answered with a resounding "no" when I was extended a call to be Young Women secretary.  I sobbed, which was a little embarrassing.  But I accepted the call.  The president was being newly called, and therefore so were all of the staff.  I was relieved to see that one of the counsellors was another good friend who had served for about a year as my other counsellor in YW and had succeeded me as president.  She wasn't excited to be back either.  

About 6 or 7 months after my release as YW President, the Church revamped the Personal Progress Program for girls.  This had not been done for about 14 years, since I was a 15-year-old Mia Maid myself.  I knew that older program front and back. My friend and I decided to complete the program together, to learn it and be better able to help the girls. I went full speed ahead.  I was nearly finished with it in late May when we made the decision to relocate.

Moving up the mountain also meant moving to a very small branch where there were currently no Young Women.  When my #1 would turn 12 in just over a year, she'd be the only one.  It suddenly all became clear to me.  I needed to learn that Personal Progress program, which no one else in the branch had had a reason to become familiar with, so that I could help my daughter with it.  It has been helpful.  I might even say it was a blessing to have been called into Young Women at the time I was.  I know our Heavenly Father blesses us with "good gifts."  Sometimes even with ones that we are trying to avoid.