An Evening of Miracles

Yesterday morning, my husband and I were getting ready to go on a date to the temple.  Since he had work that evening, we decided to take the lightrail train to Salt Lake City, so that he could be close to work.  That way, we wouldn’t feel rushed.  My husband packed his work items into his large backpack, and I packed some food and water in my smaller backpack.  We took our temple bags, and I grabbed my purse.  My husband wondered if he should leave his bag home, because he didn’t want to carry it around with him at work.  I offered to take it home with me.

We parked our car at the rail station and boarded the train.  When we arrived at the Church History Museum, where we would check our backpacks in before entering the temple, we found that it was closed.  We asked someone in the neighboring Family History Center if they had a bag check.  They did not.  We felt uncomfortable taking all our bags into the temple, so my husband suggested we stay and work in the Family History Center.  I was happy to do so.

When the time came to get something to eat, we walked to Harmon’s grocery just a couple of blocks away from Temple Square, and bought a 4.5-ounce container of pomegranate seeds; a small bag of spicy, blue tortilla chips; a can of refried beans with a tab on the top for easy opening; and a small jar of medium salsa.  By the time we purchased our items, it was time for my husband to board the train to work.  I told him we could eat our food in the morning, so we could eat together.  We arrived at the train station and said our goodbyes.  It was 5:00 PM.

As I waited for the train to arrive to take me home, I gathered the bags closer to me.  I placed my purse next to me on my seat, the temple bags by either foot, the Harmon’s grocery bag by my left foot, and my backpack on my back.  I heard the train bells ringing, signalling its arrival.  I quickly slung my husband’s temple bag on the opposite shoulder and grabbed my temple bag and the Harmon’s bag.  I boarded the train and took a seat.

I was tired and eager to get home so that I could go to bed at a decent time.  The train became crowded, and people were standing in the aisles.  I was the only person on a two-person seat, so I pushed my husband’s temple bag and my backpack against the wall of the train on the seat, and I scooted my temple bag and the Harmon’s bag over between my feet to make room for someone.  At the third or fourth stop from where I had left, I realized that I had not seen my purse.  I looked between my feet and beneath the seat.  I looked behind the bags next to me.  I could not find it.  I began to feel stressed.  Then I started panicking inside as I realized I might not find my purse at the station in Salt Lake City.

The man sitting across from me asked me if I was okay.  I told him I had accidentally left my purse at the station by the City Creek Mall.  He expressed his sympathies, apologizing in such a way that I knew he didn’t believe I would ever find my purse.  I got off the train at the next stop, and I walked swiftly to the opposite side to wait for the train headed to Salt Lake.  It arrived immediately.  As I sat down, I clenched the bags.  I began checking them again to see if I had put my purse in one of them.  I already knew that I hadn’t.  But just in case! I prayed that if it was God’s will my purse would be at the station. When the train stopped at the City Creek Mall, I jumped off and strode to the bench where I left my purse.

It was gone.

Did I just miss it and leave it on the train?  No, I did not.  I began to cry as I realized there was no way I could get home.  I had no money, no phone, no train pass, no proof of identification.  The key to the car was in the purse.  Thank goodness I had food!  The only phone number I had memorized was my husband’s, and he hadn’t yet started work.  I made haste to nearby Zion’s Bank.  A man at a desk asked me what he could do for me.  I controlled my tears and shaky voice as I asked if there was a courtesy phone.  He apologized and said there was not.  I asked him if he knew of one nearby.  He said he did not.  I half-smiled and thanked him.

I sobbed as I strode to the mall.  I would check with Customer Service.  Surely they would have a courtesy phone.  I arrived as composed as I could be and sniffled. The lady behind the counter asked how she could help me.  I asked her if there was a phone I could borrow.  She smiled as she scooted the phone in front of me.  My nose started to run.  I asked her if she had any tissues, and she placed a box next to the phone.  I dialed my husband’s phone number.  It rang!  And rang, and rang.  I was calling from an unknown number, and his phone was on silent.  I tried two more times.  I saw the time on the Customer Service Phone:  5:26 PM.  My husband would start work in four minutes.  I called again, and his voicemail immediately answered.  My voice quavered as I said, “Please call me!”  After I hung up, I realized he wouldn’t know what number to call back.  This wasn’t my phone!

After describing the purse to the Customer Service lady, she tried calling Utah Transit Authority, but their customer service office had closed at 5:00.  She contacted the mall security.  There was nothing more she could do.  Since my husband would get off work at 9:30 PM, I decided I would go to the mall security office and try to call my husband then.  The mall would close at 9:00 PM, but the security office would be open all night. Before I went to the office, I asked the sweet Customer Service lady if I could leave a more composed, descriptive message with my husband so that he wouldn’t think of all the possible worst-case scenarios. She was happy to let me use the phone again.

After asking the security dispatcher if I could use the phone at 9:30, I went to the food court and ate the pomegranate seeds, most of the chips, and half of the can of refried beans.  As I prayed over my food, I also asked Heavenly Father to have someone honest find the purse and leave everything intact.  I felt at peace.  I knew, by the Holy Ghost, that things would work out.  I had no idea how, but everything would be okay.  I opened the Ensign (a church magazine) with the most recent General Conference talks and read President Henry B. Eyring’s talk, “Continuing Revelation.”  This part really touched my heart:

Heavenly Father hears your prayers.  He loves you.  He knows your name.  Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and our Redeemer.  He loves you beyond your ability to comprehend.

I felt confirming peace that Heavenly Father knew me and knew what was happening.  I knew that He heard my prayers, and He had all power.  I knew I would make it back home that night.  I would not be left to sleep on the streets of Salt Lake City.

The time came for the mall to close, so I gathered my items and went to the security office.  After what seemed like an hour, at 9:30, the security dispatcher let me use her personal cell phone to call my husband.  I called, but his phone was still off.  I left a message telling my husband where I was at.  I tried again at 9:35.  No luck.  I tried every four to five minutes until it was 9:55 PM.  When I dialed at that time, my husband’s phone rang.  I exhaled the breath I was holding when he answered.

“Hello?”

“Hi, is this [husband]?”

“Yes, this is him.”

I wanted to cry and jump through the phone to hug him, but I needed to stay quiet as the dispatcher was having a stressful night.  I told my husband who I was and where I was.  I told him about my purse.  He was already on the train headed home, but he was only three blocks from where I was at. He got off the train and began walking to the mall.  I got off the phone excited, relieved, and tired.  At about 10:30, my husband arrived at the security office with an officer at his side.  We hugged fiercely and kissed each other discreetly as the officers and the dispatcher were still in the room.  I handed the cell phone back to the dispatcher and thanked her for all her help.  She smiled.

When we arrived at the train stop, my husband bought me a ticket.  We sat and waited for the train to arrive.  Then, my husband’s phone rang.  As he spoke on the phone, the train arrived.  My husband quickly said with a smile, “We’re not getting on this train.”  Someone had found my purse and found enough evidence indicating that my husband was a family member.  I said a silent prayer of thanks.  When the lady on the phone gave us her address for us to pick up the purse, we realized it was just a few blocks from where we were sitting.  We decided to walk.

On our way to this amazing, honest person’s home, we saw quite a few homeless people.  I stayed close to my husband in case any of them wanted to cause trouble.  One scraggly-looking man sat on the ground and asked us if we had any money.  We told him we couldn’t spare any.  I remembered the leftover food in my backpack and mentioned it to my husband.  He turned and asked the homeless man if he wanted any food.  The man said, “Sure.”

I pulled out the remaining chips and handed them to the man.  He thanked me.  I gave him the jar of salsa, not even opened.  He got excited and thanked us profusely.  My husband and I smiled and bade him have a good night.  The homeless man grinned and nodded.  I said another silent prayer of thanks for having a warm home and plenty of food.

My husband and I arrived hand-in-hand at the lady’s home.  There were two pubs next to it.  We knocked on her door, which had double locks with numerical buttons.  It could only be opened with a security code.  She opened the door, and we immediately told her who we were.  Her smile was big as she grabbed my purse and handed it to me.  Everything was there.  She apologized for not finding out whose it was earlier.  We did not mind.  We thanked her for being honest, for finding the purse and giving it back to me.  We left her home filled with gratitude and praises toward our Heavenly Father.

As we walked back towards the train station, my husband noted that it was 11:00.  We figured we might need to call a taxi.  But how would we be able to afford it, and what was the number to call for one?  My husband pulled a train schedule out of his backpack and found that the last train towards home was due to arrive at any minute.  We were still about two blocks away from the station.  We quickened our pace.  A young man approached us and another man who happened to be walking past us.  He flat-out pleaded for food and money for food.

“Please, I’m so hungry!” he said.  “I haven’t eaten anything all day.”

The older man walking past us said he didn’t have any food or money.  My husband and I were panicked at the thought of missing the train and being stranded in Salt Lake for the night.  My husband apologized to the young man, and we both ran towards the nearest train station.  We slowed a little as we saw the train whiz past, eventually slowing to a stop at the station a half block away from where we were.  My lungs burned, and my body was unaccustomed to the running.  It was late, and I really needed to use the bathroom.  I thought we were stopping until my husband exclaimed, “Quick!  We need to hurry before we miss the train!”

We pressed on until we made it to the train right before it left.  We boarded, and I collapsed onto a seat.  I worked on catching my breath as my husband sat down next to me.  I felt slightly nauseous, but I was also relieved and beyond grateful.  I told my husband how it seemed that God worked miracles at the last minute when we needed it the most.  I then began to say that it would have been easier if certain things had been done sooner – such as getting a hold of my husband on the phone before he started work, or catching the train sooner.  My husband told me that he wouldn’t have been able to do much if he had answered his phone.  He said that if he had given me money to ride the train, I would have gotten to the car, but then what?  The key was with my purse.  We were at the right place at the right time when that lady who found my purse called.  She was close.  We wouldn’t have been able to ride the train back up on time to get my purse.  The last train home would have been long gone by then.

Tears ran down my cheeks with this new realization.  I wished that Heavenly Father would appear simply so I could hug and kiss Him.  I knew that Heavenly Father provided a way for me to get my purse back intact and return home.  It was the best way possible.  Father had produced miracle after miracle.  I held my husband’s hand.

As we continued riding, I discovered that the train would not go all the way to where our car was.  We would have to somehow go another 4000 blocks ourselves.  As we passed each station, my husband looked out the train window to see if there were any buses still running.  Not likely.  When we arrived at the last station, we had to get off the train.  We got off into the cold at 11:30.  We saw another train on the opposite tracks and checked to see if it would take us further, but it was also shut down for the night.  We saw two operators on the station platform, so we approached one of them and told him we were stranded.  I had just gotten my purse back after we thought it had been stolen, we had barely caught the last train, and we certainly would not do it again.  The operator asked us which station our car was parked at.  After we told him, he said he would give us a ride.

HALLELUJAH!

When we arrived at our station, the operator dropped us off next to our car.  We thanked him and got out of his truck.  As soon as my husband and I sat in our car and turned the heat on, we offered a vocal prayer of thanks to our Father in Heaven for blessing us richly, for miraculously providing us a way home with my purse.  We thanked Him for all that happened and for placing kind, helpful people in our way.  We knew that none of these miracles would have occurred without Him.  Things would have been much more difficult.

By the time we got home, it was past midnight.  We could care less!  It was so good to be in our warm home with good food and our own bed.  We said another prayer of thanks for our bounteous blessings.

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Lessons I Learned from Trunk-or-Treating

For Halloween, my husband and I went to a ward (church) Trunk-or-Treat/soup and chili cook-off activity.  I was hesitant about bringing chili that would probably become cross-contaminated thereby preventing me from enjoying leftovers.  I decided to make chili that I could eat, and I put some for myself in a separate container.  I didn’t care that I couldn’t eat the leftovers.  I thought it was better to see others enjoying the food we brought.  After we ate the chili, those participating in Trunk-or-Treat popped open their trunks to hand out candy to the children. We completely forgot to decorate our trunk, so I decided to spread the already present orange wool blanket over our tool box and emergency car kit so that my husband and I could sit in the trunk and hand out candy.  My husband had a different idea.

He lay in the trunk and pulled the blanket over him until just his right arm and hand were exposed.  He placed the bowl of candy on his chest, so that as the children approached him, he grabbed some candy and felt around for the opening of the bags or buckets.  Once in a while when he knew the child, he grabbed the bucket or bag and pulled on it.  The kids loved it.

I learned that I don’t need decorations or extravagance when I (or my husband) have ingenuity.  And even if I didn’t have ingenuity (and many times I don’t, which is okay), I still don’t need extravagance or an abundance of unnecessary material goods.  I also learned that when I’m helping others, I forget my own problems, and I feel happier.

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A Tender and Forgiving Heart

Last Tuesday night, I came to know what it was like to have my heart truly softened and turned with compassion towards those who don’t treat me right.

On Tuesday morning, I received a package with damaged merchandise and with quality I was dissatisfied with.  I called the customer service representative of the company I ordered from, and she gave me a horribly difficult time.  I tried to remain as calm and patient on the phone as I could, and the front I put up was successful.  Inside, however, I was furious, hurt, and outraged.  With the unusually high stress came added fatigue, anxiety, and other  problems – all before a shift of work.  Because of the negative effects of the stress on my body, my anger compounded against the customer service representative.  The company resolved some issues, and I was pacified for the most part, but after that experience with the customer service representative along with a few other recent instances of insult and rudeness, I didn’t want to go to work.  I didn’t want anything to do with people.

The only person I liked at the time was my husband, and I wanted him to come home so I could spill my guts to him and cry in his arms.

Since that wasn’t an option at the time, I poured out my feelings to my Heavenly Father.  I spoke to Him as if I could see Him.  I prayed for help to regain strength, to find peace, to receive comfort, and to have my heart softened so that I could forgive those who had hurt me.  I prayed for a renewed desire to help others and to see the good in them.

I went to work dreading negative people, but at the same time I was eager to feel the pure love of Christ change me as I helped others.  I realized that as I expected negative people to approach me, as I expected to be offended, I would attract those very people.  My expectations would unfortunately be met.  I decided to reframe my thoughts in such a way that I would expect kind, compassionate people to approach me for help.  I knew that the possibility of encountering a negative person was still there, so I prayed for help to bear it well, to not be easily offended, and to be forgiving.

Work was wonderful.  I was genuinely cheerful and light of heart, as I had prayed I would be.  I found that I didn’t bristle when I normally would have, but instead I took it with good humor and even realized that those people didn’t mean anything negative.  That was just the way they were, and it was perfectly fine.  It was my reaction to them that mattered, my own perceptions.

That night as I knelt in prayer with my husband, I suddenly found that the healing power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ had worked on my heart.  I was filled with charity, even towards those who had offended me.  I realized that those people were probably going through their own trials.  Some of them were probably bitter, their hearts hurt and not yet healed.  Others may have been holding in stressful or angry feelings, and I just happened to be there when they couldn’t hold it any longer.  So, I prayed for them.  I prayed that their hearts would be healed or softened as mine had.  I prayed that they would be comforted in their struggles as I had, because I loved them, and I knew my Savior loved them.

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My Thoughts Made a Physical Difference

I’ve been reading a book called, Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome and did a suggested exercise two days ago.  I took an index card and wrote down any negative self-talk that came to my mind.  I began tallying those negative words as I used the same ones multiple times.  I carried the index card with me so that I could write my negative self-talk over the next two days.  While I carried the card, I seemed to remember more frequently the words I wrote.  Those words sitting in my pocket weighed me down.

I skipped ahead to the end of the exercise while doing it for only a few hours.  I realized my negative self-talk was physically making me more tired and stressed.  I changed those negative words to their positive opposites, as the author instructed in the exercise.  Every time I thought of the negative words, I replaced them with the opposites.  At one point, I looked in the mirror and spoke the positive words out loud.  What a difference it made!  I pulled the card out of my pocket, tore it up, and threw it in the garbage.  Afterwards, as I continued with the positive self-talk, I felt lighter, happier, and even a little more energetic.  I also felt the Holy Ghost confirming the truth of those positive attributes.

 

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“My Grace, All Sufficient, Shall Be Thy Supply”

When everything seems to be going wrong, there must be something going right!

My husband shared a scripture with me found in the Doctrine and Covenants, Section 122.  There are many horrible, difficult trials described, and the Lord is saying that if all those happen to the prophet, Joseph Smith, they will be for his good.  Then in verse 9, it states:  “. . . their bounds are set, they cannot pass.”  I never really understood that part until my husband mentioned that there are bounds to the trials we face, and those trials will not pass the bounds that are set.  Whatever trials we face, we can overcome with God’s help, for we will not need to deal with what we cannot handle.

Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
. . . Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.

When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not thee o’erflow,
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
. . . And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply.
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
. . . Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.

-“How Firm a Foundation”, Attr. to Robert Keen-

Those three verses from “How Firm a Foundation” have brought me much comfort.  We will not drown in “the rivers of sorrow.”  God will strengthen us if we but turn to Him for help.  There have been times when I felt like I was sinking, but God has always rescued me.  I have not drowned, and I will not drown, for my Heavenly Father is always there for me.

In those “fiery trials,” I am reassured that I will not get burned.  Those “flame[s] shall not hurt [me],” nor will they consume or destroy me.  My Heavenly Father’s grace is sufficient and amazing!  I am being refined.  My dross – my imperfections, sinful tendencies, etc – is being consumed.  I am becoming gold through these struggles.  I cannot list all the blessings I have received, all the tender mercies the Lord has extended to me through these difficulties.  I am becoming a better person.  I am becoming like my Father in Heaven and like my Savior.

When everything seems to be going wrong, something wonderful is happening.  It may be imperceptible or really difficult to see at the time, but it’s there.

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“God Shall Be with You Forever and Ever”

I received an email last week with the lab results for my saliva panel.  It was encouraging and a little hard at the same time.  My estrogen and progesterone levels increased to more of a normal level, while my cortisol levels plummeted from high levels to low.  My cortisol levels are below normal in the morning and remain on the low end of the normal range throughout the rest of the day.  In short, I have adrenal fatigue.  I was pleased to receive a confirmation of what I already expected, and I am currently excited to set up a doctor appointment to figure out how to treat and heal my adrenals.

The past few days have not been without difficulty.  Of course with my cortisol levels down, I am fatigue and weak all the time.  Evenings are even more difficult as I feel myself crash.  At least I go to bed earlier!  In the evenings, I cry more easily as the fatigue intensifies, and I don’t handle stress as well.  Mornings are a struggle as well.

This morning, I was disheartened.  I knew I would find comfort reading my scriptures.  I turned to Doctrine and Covenants, Section 122.  At the time of this revelation, the prophet Joseph Smith was in Liberty Jail in horribly deprived conditions.  Darkness and discouragement were encroaching upon him.  The Lord gave him counsel and comfort.  I found that in 9 verses, a similar phrase is stated twice:

Verse 4 – “. . . thy God shall stand by thee forever and ever.”
Verse 9 – “. . . God shall be with you forever and ever.”

There will never be a time in my life when I am completely alone.  The words, “forever and ever” indicate that God will always be with me.  There is simply no room for loneliness to squeeze its ugly head in.

Verse 7 states, “. . . know thou . . . that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.”  I know why I’m dealing with these health issues.  I know what I need to learn.  I hold to the promises Heavenly Father made to me, and I remember the blessings He is bestowing upon me.  I look forward with faith and hope, and I am grateful for the wonderful things I’m learning from this experience.  Though this is difficult, I have an eternal perspective, and this stormy time does have its calm periods as the Holy Ghost whispers peace to me.

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Doing What Heavenly Father Needs Me to Do

I felt like I was a disappointment, because I didn’t think that I was doing everything that I could or should.

I am not a disappointment.

If I’m doing my best and doing those things that Heavenly Father needs me to do each day, then there is no need to feel like I have failed.

 

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