The gift of grace and Laurel.

In March of 2017 I was invited to share with the Relief Society sisters in our ward my experience with grace and my sweetie pie Laurel.

35 years ago this month I was living in Littleton Colorado... a 28 year old mother with four children about to give birth to our 5th child on the Ides of March.

Flash forward and today that precious little gift born in March is living in California (she's wearing pink in the center of this photo which was taken in August) with a guy that picked her up hitchhiking three or four years ago. She lives in the middle of the desert... I know because my husband drove there to pick her up once. Her home is a trailer without running water and she isn't treated well ... but when you are a meth addict you really aren't yourself. I last spoke to her on Dec.11th when she was still living with us, and I won't hear from her again until she's played out and needs a safe place to lay her weary bones.
Laurel was never an easy baby, child, teenager, or adult. She has been in and out of jail around 30 times. As a young child and forward she has been diagnosed with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Her longing to fit in and our desire to help her find a productive life has posed a constant need for prayer, inspiration and hope. As a grown up her challenges have made her a target for other criminals to help facilitate their bad behavior. But, I have always had hope. The last time she came home I dared to believe that she was finally home for good. I let my heart get all tangled up around her. In the four and a half months she was home last, I would often tuck her in at night and whisper in her ear… “you are loved here, you are safe here, please promise you will never take off again.” She would say, “it’s bad luck to promise…I’ve learned that.” 

When she was little I used to say that she was my ticket to either jail or heaven because she could bring out my worst awful and my good.

I share our background story because I have experienced God's grace over and over and over again with this particular life challenge.

“His Grace has taught me that life can't be about being good enough, but instead there is God enough. And though I don't know how today's story will end, I remember: faith thanks God in the middle of the story.” 

  • Book of Mormon
For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do
“Grace can strike when you are in great pain and light you with the greatest hope.”

“What matters most is not if our love makes other people change, but that in loving, we change. What matters is that in the sacrificing to love someone, we become more like Someone.... the success of living is how we change because we kept on loving.”

I am becoming like the well loved velveteen rabbit. My fur is being rubbed bare, (His grace makes me warm and gives me courage). I am missing an eye that was quick to judge, (and now with His grace my sight is crystal clear and I can see what matters most), I have hauled myself in and out of awful places I would have never chosen to go and felt shabby, (His grace gives me peace to make each day a clean fresh start). My heart has been repeatedly broken, (but His grace has filled those heart cracks with the golden light of discernment). My ears are finally broken to the hiss of Satan telling me that I have not been enough, (because his Grace is sufficient and I am His dear daughter. I have always been enough). And much like the velveteen rabbit, my love and faithfulness directed to Laurel has been forgotten by her, and sometimes rejected, (but He who has suffered this and so much more has always remembered me with outstretched arms).

So today I stand before you humbled that I could be trusted with such a gift given in March of 1982... this Laurel girl of mine. And, I testify that our hard work, and tears sprinkled on a pillow during a sleepless night is our Holy work. Faith is confidence in the kindness of God and believing in His enough and to spare grace.

*everything in quotations came from Ann Voskamp's book A BROKEN WAY


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