I wanted beauty for ashes (see Isaiah 61:1-3), but I hate waiting. Our instant, high-speed, overnight-results culture has certainly played a role in this. We get impatient waiting one minute for the microwave! But I have had some extra-long waits in my life that could have sent me crashing into despair were it not for God’s love.
As a child, I was actually more patient than I am now. I never felt beautiful, but I suppose I clung to The Ugly Duckling story. I wore glasses, was a bit pudgy and had bad hair. I even thought my lips were too big. I would look in the mirror and practice holding them in. It was difficult to do that and hold in my stomach simultaneously. When I started wearing makeup, I would cover my lips with foundation and draw them smaller with lipstick. I was just waiting for the morning I’d wake up a swan.
By the time I was a teen, I had become a Christian. At a Vacation Bible School session when I was a kid, there was a storytelling artist drawing a huge picture with big pastel sticks. It was a beautiful scene, but suddenly he drew a big, ugly, black squiggle in the middle of it, seemingly ruining the picture.
This was where he explained how sin ruined paradise, and ruins our lives. But then, using beautiful colors, he added more, transforming the black squiggle into a gorgeous tree that was the highlight of the whole picture. He told us how God not only forgives our sin through the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ, but also redeems it, causing new growth that makes our lives even more beautiful. I understood and believed the gospel (the REAL beauty for ashes story!) at that time, but it would be awhile before I realized all that God gave me when I believed.
While I waited to become beautiful, I went to work on my personality by pursuing my love of musical theatre. Only princesses can afford to be shy, so I studied music, drama and dance in high school and college. It was certainly more rewarding than waiting around to be asked out on a date. After my mom died when I was 19, I drifted away from church. The theatrical scene seemed to fill the void.
I began landing some leading roles in community and semi-professional theatre companies, and the applause from audiences was like a drug to my affection-starved heart. Unfortunately, this also led me to hanging out with drinkers and partiers. Without being in fellowship with other believers, I was too weak to be an influence on my theatrical/party friends, and they ended up influencing me for a time. I even began hatching a plan to move to New York for a stab at Broadway. I worked clerical jobs to save up money.
By the time I hit my 20’s, I had slimmed down, gotten contact lenses and was having an occasional good-hair day. But apparently, I was still far from stunning. My dating life was nearly non-existent. Even though the biological clock was not an issue yet, it was quite frustrating. Most of my dates were through personal ads, or because some guy was impressed with my karaoke performance at a yuppie bar.
When I did go on a date, usually there was not a second one. The few times I had a boyfriend, it always either ended or turned platonic within about three weeks. Starved for affection, I would behave too eagerly and scare the guy off. I never came anywhere NEAR getting married. As I approached 30, this began to concern me more. Rejection after rejection eroded my self-esteem to near-zip. I was waiting to be loved. And waiting. And waiting…
My desire to marry grew strong as I approached 40. The biological clock was ticking me off! I bounced back and forth between two extremes. Either I tried too hard to manufacture relationships, or I sat back and waited for God to drop Prince Charming on my doorstep. I was pretty frustrated with God for making me wait so long.
The emotions came to a head one day on a solo bicycle ride when I got a flat tire. I was about two miles from home and the only way to get back was to carry my bicycle and walk. A passing cyclist offered to let me use his cell phone. I thought, it’s not like I have a boyfriend or husband I can call, so I declined. It was getting darker, and the mosquitoes were descending like vultures. I was sure the muggers would soon be coming out, so I thanked the man and continued carrying my bike.
Passers-by just looked at me like I had something growing out of my forehead. Probably a mosquito bite! I plodded onward, praying for protection, strength and enough daylight. By the time it was completely dark, I was back in my neighborhood. I was thankful to be safe, but as my exhaustion started to hit me, I complained to God, crying about my lack of a spouse.
I trudged along with my bike bouncing against my hip and tears streaming down my face. I told Him if I were only married or even dating, there would have been someone to help me. At least I would have had someone to call. I was tired of being strong alone and always having to do everything on my own. I pleaded my own agenda: Why did I have to wait so long? I arrived home exhausted and upset, having forgotten already how God had been with me and answered my prayer on the bike trail.
Here’s the kicker. ALL those things I was waiting for, I already had! From the very moment I had believed that God sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to earth as a human who died for my sins and was resurrected, I had eternal life. I also had a relationship with God, but God was waiting for ME to come closer.
God gave me beauty for ashes in the best way – by working it out from the inside. God gave me flawless love. On that bike ride, God had been my protector, my strength and even my healer (the mosquito bite went away!). He was also my provider, having already given me a house, a garden full of flowers, roommates, finances — all things I’d once expected to gain only upon marrying.
As I made little steps of obedience, God worked massive changes in my life. God restrained me from moving to New York, which soon led me to a job in a large church music ministry. That ended up growing and refining my skills and training (both clerical and creative/artistic) in ways I could never have imagined. All of that prepared me for what I’m doing now in my work with two online ministries: KidsTalkAboutGod.org and FaithProfiles.org, which were founded by my husband.
Yes, “husband.” I can use the h-word now. I did finally get married – at age 42! He is a wonderful Christian who genuinely thinks I’m beautiful – because he sees me through God’s eyes. God’s love is the best and He certainly knows what’s best for me. So now I can say that I’m SO glad God made me wait!
San Francisco Chronicle article
August 27, 1992
by Carey Kinsolving
How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel, the Bible says, and it doesn’t hurt to have great legs either, adds New York model Laura Krauss.
“Thank God, my legs keep me busy in more ways than one,” Krauss said, whose legs have appeared in national advertising for Bloomingdale’s, Lord & Taylor, Neiman Marcus and Hanes hosiery.
In 1985, Krauss and her husband, Jeff Calenberg, started a ministry to the world’s most beautiful people, New York models.
Models are beautiful on the outside but often empty on the inside, Krauss and Calenberg said in an interview at their fashionable brownstone apartment in New York’s Upper West Side.
Calenberg, a model with the ford agency, says the modeling industry caters to vanity. “It’s all focused on self,” he said. “It’s very flesh-oriented, so there are constant sexual jokes and innuendos.”
“It’s a me, me, me business. My weight, my hair, my skin, my career,” Krauss said.
In her early 20s, Krauss experienced the pressure of working as a top model in Paris. She worked seven days a week and appeared on the covers of nine magazines, including the prestigious French magazine “Marie Claire.” She felt herself being pulled in opposite directions between the glitz of her industry and the humility of the Christ she saw portrayed in the Gospels.
Krauss realized that her modeling achievements had failed to fill the void she felt inside. Although Krauss had trusted Christ as her savior, she said, “I had one foot in the Bible and one in the world, and there was no peace. I finally realized what I wanted to get out of life, and whom I wanted to serve. Serving myself was not all joy. It created a lot of insecurity. Seeing what other models held onto as their gods scared me.
“You’re only as good as your last booking. There is a lot of insecurity in the business, and I was falling into it.”
When Krauss moved to New York from Paris, she said, “I ran to church.”
Krauss and Calenberg started Models for Christ in 1985 with a handful of people who met for bi-monthly Bible study and prayer in Krauss’ apartment. The idea grew. Soon actors and other artists attended. The name was changed to Impact, and the group, now numbering more than 100, adopted monthly service projects such as delivering floral wreaths to AIDS patients, taking underprivileged children to a Mets game, and throwing a party for elderly patients at a nursing home.
One of the most popular projects has been to deliver clothes and Thanksgiving turkeys to 75 needy New York families.
The Calenbergs find themselves in a constant fight against the “shallowness of modeling.” They emphasize the lasting effects of inner beauty, the fading nature of physical attractiveness and the web of selfishness that can entrap the unwary.
Krauss sometimes counsels models seeking direction for their careers. She encourages them to take control of marketing themselves and to resist the efforts of those who would push them to compromise their standards.
This can mean saying “no” to lucrative cigarette and alcohol advertisers that often pay the highest fees.
The Calenbergs contend that there’s plenty of work in sportswear and suits to keep them busy. “I love polyester,” Krauss said. “It pays the bills.”