5:42 PM

God's Grace has blessed me over and over again throughout my life. Over the past few days I have been pondering one of the many miracles that He performed in my life during the darkest of days. 

I had just left the Women and Children in Crisis Center with my daughters. The youngest was just two and half. We had returned to our family home after a judge granted us the house through a protective order. Our lives had imploded and I felt shell-shocked and full of the fear of the unknown. Each day was a challenge as I would rise wearily from a sleepless night and put on a happy face for my children. The dark shadows of anger and rage was now gone within our home and this brought me great relief. 

However, I was faced with heaping bills of debt, a house that was in the early stages of foreclosure, legal fees, and consistent threats of and violations of the protective order. I had no idea how I was going to meet all of the financial obligations of the family, including all of the debt left behind for me to assume completely, on just my teacher's salary. 

I was fearful of losing my job, especially if my personal problems leaked out and patrons of the school heard of them and were worried about safety issues. I didn't fully understand the social stigmas associated with domestic violence until I was in the midst of trying to escape it. I was beginning to realize that people, hearing stories through the media or having innate fears or misunderstandings of their own, could pull away and back off and not want any part of something that they didn't understand. 

This realization came to me like a blow to the face when my daughter's daycare provider came to me and told me she could no longer watch my youngest daughter. This woman felt like I may of over-reacted by filing a protective order and that she couldn't support me in my decision to leave my husband and that I needed to find a new baby-sitter. Apparently, my husband at the time went to her and tearfully told her a story. I don't know exactly what was said, but it was enough to convinced her to pass judgement on me and refuse to watch my daughter.

I was shocked and hurt, but mostly so very worried about who would care for my daughter now while I worked. What if others from my place of employment or parents of the children in my classroom, what if they felt the same way? What if this whole thing (wanting to free my children from witnessing violence at home and wanting my own freedom from humiliating physical and psychological abuse) caused me to lose my job? 

How would I support my children? How would I feed them? Where would we live? What if we had to move? The children would lose their friends at school and church. The only support systems they had ever known. I began to panic. What if I was wrong? Doubt filled my mind. I began to doubt myself. Then I could hear the voice of the adversary repeating the words spoken to me often throughout my marriage, “I told you no one would believe you. You are crazy. You always over react. What an idiot. Without me you're nothing.”   

I ended up in fetal position on my bed that night. The girls were already asleep. It was a Friday. I remember being grateful to have the weekend to get myself together before the work week started again and I was bombarded with more unknowns. My prayer was just three words at first. Help, Help, Help! I repeated them over and over again in my mind. 

Then, I remember calling out to God reminding Him in a childish way. You promised to help me. You led me to the shelter and brought me here. What do I do? These are your daughters too. I know you love them. You loved them first before they ever came to me. Please, help me know how to take care of them. Protect them from all of this. Please Father, just put a bubble around them that can deflate all the negativity, sorrow, and pain. I will take is all for them. Just help me protect them from having to suffer because of the actions of a parent. 

Bella's blessing day and McKenna's baptism day!

Finally and from exhaustion, I stopped speaking and slinging words up to heaven. I laid in silence and wept and then very slowly I felt the anxiety slowly dissipate and I heard the sweetest words in my mind, "I am HERE. Wendy, I am here! I have ALWAYS been here and I am waiting for you to give me your burden. Lay it at my feet!" My heart began to overflow with love and soon, I was sobbing with gratitude. Peace entered my soul and I felt calm and protected.

Then, the scripture came to me take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart and ye shall find rest unto your souls. I had heard this scripture many times in my life but in that moment it became so real to me. I had been trying to carry this immense burden alone and was buckling under the weight of it. All I had to do was surrender and give it to Him. He who knows all the sorrows of the world and is the only great Healer of hearts. The last impression I remember feeling that night before finally fell fast asleep, was that everything would work out and that I needed to ask for help at church on Sunday.

Throughout the next day as I went about my duties, I had to continually visualize in my mind wrapping up my burden in a bundle or package and literally laying it at the feet of Jesus. Or I would visualize two Oxen yoked to together and then visualize my Savior standing next to me helping me carry my burden. If I didn't do this I would fill myself slipping back into that fearful, anxious state I had found myself the day earlier. 

The next day was Sunday and I was craving the peace that I would find there as I worshipped with others. I was nervous about asking for help. Some of my close friends knew about the details of my marriage ending but I had done a very good job of keeping everything a secret for many years. So, many people were shocked and I expected there was confusion and talking, but I didn't care. I was mostly worried that some would misjudge me. However, if I began to feel fearful of that or of the future I would remember those sweetly and simple words, I am here!

I asked the Relief Society President to announce for me in the Sunday meeting for the adult women, that I needed a new babysitter for my youngest child immediately and that I wouldn't be able to pay much, if anything for a while. I felt slightly humiliated asking for a handout but was desperate for help and then I went to sit in the Young Women's class (youth class) where I served at the time.

After church was over and people were exiting the building, one of the ladies walked right up to me in the hallway. She grabbed me smiling and said, "I want to watch Bella!" I couldn't believe it! I was on the verge of tears, I tried to explain, but I can't pay you much, if hardly anything." I started crying then and her eyes filled with tears. She said, "Wendy, I want to take care of Bella! I am not doing it for money. I want to care for Bella." I was overcome with gratitude. 

How do you thank a woman who is willing to step into your place as a mother, when you can't be there yourself? How I ached to be with my daughter all day, but that was not a possibility for me and so the Lord provided a way for my daughter to still be loved and nurtured and He soothed my aching heart in the process. 

This sweet sister had two older sons the same ages as my two older daughters. She had not been blessed with anymore children after that and I know her heart ached for more. Bella would help fill a void in her life too.  

This Christ-like sister was a surrogate mother to my daughter for over two years. She loved, taught, and nurtured her in her home. Bella received her undivided and loving attention during a very difficult time in our lives. This situation ended up being so much better than the daycare Bella had originally been attending. The Lord was well aware of Bella's needs and He knew both of our motherly hearts as well. He had lovingly orchestrated the entire thing.

To others it may seem like a simple story full of coincidences. I know different. Through the Grace of God it was one of many miracles that occurred during those dark days of my life. Those miracles were like beacons of light that illuminated my path helping me see how and what I needed to do to help my children.

I never felt truly alone as a single mother during those years. I felt God's hand in my life constantly and whenever I turned to Him, He helped show me the way. He put others in my path who were earthly angels, inspired to administer to the needs of my daughters. He was always actively helping me raise my precious daughters. All I had to do was ask and for this I will be eternally grateful. Our Father in Heaven is the Father of us all. He knew and loved our own children first. He knows and loves them still and He will always help us in our divine role as a mother. All we need to do is call upon Him and  His Grace and He will lead us lovingly home.

My daughters and I together at Sariah's wedding in 2012

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  1. Wendy, this story has stuck with me. I am so happy that someone stepped up to help you when you were trying to keep your head above water. What a gem. What a blessing! Wow! Thank you for opening up your story so we can see the Grace.