This year I received a new assignment to teach full-time at the Cedar City Institute. The assignment is stretching, humbling, and amazing.
This summer I’ve had the sweet opportunity to teach a Tuesday evening class called “Coming Closer to the Savior Through Music”. On the first day of class a young lady walked in and took a seat. She told me her name and we chatted for a minute. As a few more students trickled in she looked up and said, “Did you teach seminary at Canyon View a few years ago?” I told her that I did! Before I was hired as a student teacher I did a two week teaching practicum in another teacher’s class. This young lady was there and she remembered me. I remembered her too.
It’s amazing to find those connections sometimes. The longer I teach the sweeter it is to find those students. It’s a miracle to remember and to be remembered.
Since those first days of student teaching I’ve had a favorite part of my job.
I love to watch the students come into the building and make their way to the classroom.
To me those steps represent sacrifice, effort, and faith.
I often tell my students how much those steps, their sacrifice, their faith, and their presence means to me.
I know the Lord notices them and their steps.
When I was a senior in high school, a policy change within Seminary and Institutes set things in motion for me.
I remember my dad sent me a link to the Deseret News article explaining that women with families could be hired as full-time seminary and institute teachers for the church. It mentioned maternity leave benefits and quotes from administrators explaining the changes.
I think maybe subconsciously I decided that day that I would give this profession a try.
Even before Hank was born I had questions about what life with him would look like. Did the Lord want me to leave my job and stay home with him? If I continued working would people think I was a bad mom? Would I be letting others “raise him” if I needed help with childcare?
Lots of questions. I’ve always trusted my own ability to receive revelation.
As we prepared for Hank, we diligently sought the Lord’s will for our family. We felt strongly that for our circumstances at that time I was to continue working full-time. We weren’t sure how it was going to play out, but we knew that was the right choice.
Before we even announced our pregnancy we put in a request to return to the Cedar City area. Two spots were miraculously available and we were given those assignments.
The Lord provided lots of babysitters for us as we moved back to Parowan surrounded by family.
Our largest concern was addressed and it started looking much more possible for us to both work full time.
That didn’t mean it would be easy for me though.
When that new baby came, amidst all the bliss and love, there was anxiety about leaving him behind. I felt guilty and wondered how he would do without me. I completely trusted my amazing mom and others who would help, but I worried what the consequences of my decision to go back to work would be.
The night before I went back to work I requested a priesthood blessing from Jake. The experience was sweet and sacred. As he laid his hands on my head I snuggled Hank close and offered a fervent, silent prayer.
I just wanted Jake to say what I needed, though I had no idea what that was. My pleading prayer was answered by the Lord through my husband.
“When you smile at him, he’ll smile back”.
“When you go to work you will feel sure of your decision”.
“You’ll know when to take days off and you won’t feel guilty”.
"You'll know he's in great hands".
The inspired promises flowed and my tender heart was lifted. The sweetest promise came at the end.
“Your relationship with your baby will grow in gratitude and love as you work. Working won’t damage that relationship but will strengthen it”.
In my journal that night I wrote, “I don’t know how the Lord does it, but I’m clinging to those promises tonight”.
That was about 7 months ago. I still don’t know how the Lord does it, but I’ve seen Him do it these past few months. I still cling to those promises.
The best part of my job is the faith it takes to walk in the building. Most of the time it’s the faith of my students that inspires me. Sometimes it’s my own.
I walked up the steps of the institute a few weeks ago with a tiny pair of socks in my pocket and all the faith I could muster.
I don’t know how He does it, but He does. Maybe that’s why I’m so happy.
My name is Maddie Townsend Topham and I am a happy wife!