Monday, August 24, 2015

Reaction Time, Family Time

I had a close call last Friday night while driving north on the freeway near my home. That heart-stopping moment left me near-tears and very reflective...

Despite the smog and heat, last Friday was a lovely Utah day. Oh, how I love Utah! :) I began my day by taking my oldest son to his sophomore orientation...I can't believe he's that old! I was concerned my son would be embarrassed to be seen with his mother at orientation. I asked him if he wanted me to leave, but he was unflappable—even when a few of his friends said "hi" to him! :) It warmed my heart to see my wonderful son happy to be seen with his level of happiness was (and is) indescribable! I just love that my boy wasn't embarrassed or annoyed by me (unlike I was at that age)—he made me feel like a million bucks! :)

After we found all of my son's classes and discussed our drop-off/pick-up routine, we decided to go school clothes shopping. I was thrilled that my I-love-playing-computer-games-and-basketball-all-summer! son was willing to spend an unspecified amount of time just shopping with me! Yay! I also loved that we talked endlessly while we shopped—it made this chatty Adrie very happy! By the way, it's no surprise that my son has excellent conversation skills! ;)

At one store, my son and I were having a lively discussion about which shoes to buy for him. We had been walking between three aisles with three boxes in our arms, trying to decide between five different pairs of shoes. We must have looked pretty funny debating back and forth to each other, walking around in circles! But it was a hard decision to make, you see! We finally decided he needed two pairs of athletic shoes: one pair for "A" day and one pair for "B" day.

I didn't realize until we saw a man staring/laughing at us that we must have been quite animated and verbal in our discussion. Yet I had my reasons for standing my ground (of which shoes would be better for my darling boy), and so did my son. We do love a good debate and aren't afraid to show it! :) At any rate, I'm glad we could provide some entertainment for the day! Ha ha. In the end, we were both satisfied with his choices.

We finished our shopping and headed to the drive-through to refresh ourselves with slushies. They were so yummy! We continued talking as we drove home and just enjoyed our time together. :) When we arrived home, we ate a late lunch and continued bonding.

After my son went back to his basement computer paradise, I readied myself for my next school shopping trip by creating lists for my daughter and youngest son. I suddenly became very tired and decided to take a quick nap. An hour and twenty minutes later (not so quick!), I finally awoke at the persistence of my baby boy. Man, I was bushed!

Before my other two children and I could go school shopping again, I drove my husband to pick up our car from being repaired/inspected for registration. We then headed back to one of the stores from earlier that day to return the suitcase I bought for Greg. As much as I liked the suitcase, Greg decided it was too small for his large shoes. :) My oldest son was pleased as punch that Greg chose the large grey suitcase he suggested for Greg from the very beginning! I simply thought the grey suitcase was too big...I was wrong. (I know, you're all thinking, "How could you have been wrong?!" Ha ha.) My youngest two children and I went to three other stores to complete our shopping lists. It was a long but productive night; we were all so happy to finally be done with school shopping! I would tell you more of our shopping adventures, but we don't have all night now do we?! Ha ha. Just know that we had a good time together. :)

As we drove home, I thought about how relieved I was to be free of our back-to-school week (Yippee!), for it has been a long week of preparing, shopping, school open-houses and scheduling!

When we were almost 10 minutes from home, I noticed that a vehicle in the lane way ahead of us swerved over and back into the lane. Because of the lighting in the sky (the sun had already set and the sky was almost dark), I couldn't see anything else in the lane but the massive SUV that had swerved. I thought maybe they wanted to switch lanes and didn't realize another car was there?

I never dreamed something would actually be in our lane in just a few moments. And I never would have guessed that it would be something truly harmful. I mean, how often is there an enormous and dangerous item in the middle of the road?? (Well, enormous considering what a vehicle can handle safely running over.) We sometimes see a shredded tire, or a piece of wood, or a plastic sack, or a tumbleweed, or an item of clothing blowing across the road, etc., but those things aren't life-threatening.

I can still see our scary moment clearly in my mind. I was driving with my hands at 10 o'clock and two o'clock, thinking about our day and all that we have coming up this week. All of a sudden, there was a large metal patio chair in the middle/right side of our lane! It was laying on its side with the round base of the chair on the left, and the back of the chair pointing to the right. I loudly sucked in my breath, slammed on my brakes, swerved my car sharply to the left and went right back into our lane after I passed the chair. I had zero time to react in any other way. Thankfully, the large truck in the left lane behind us also swerved as we swerved so we didn't crash into each other.

For many seconds after our adventure ended, I kept thinking how I couldn't believe I actually missed hitting the patio chair! I was stunned I didn't crash into another car! I was ecstatic that I didn't flip our car from over-correcting to avoid the chair!

I immediately wanted to start crying, but held it together because I didn't want my youngest son and daughter to be concerned or worried. After a few seconds, my son said how he was truly afraid he was going to die. Oh, I felt so badly that my wonderful boy was so scared! :'( Thus, I was relieved when he happily said, "Good reaction time, Mom!!" His words hung in the air.

As I thought about my son's sweet words, I was immediately drawn to the fact that yes, my reaction time was (in my mind) quite impressive. I literally saw the chair for the first time as I was almost on top of it and instantly slowed our car and swerved out of harm's way. I know I was being watched over and protected by Heaven last Friday night. Yet I also know the fact that I'm in good health/shape definitely had something to do with our safety. I feel strongly that because I've been exercising consistently for such a long time now (Well, a year+ seems long to me!), my body was able to perfectly react to what my mind told it to do. I believe that because of consistent exercising, my fight or flight response is way better than it could have been had I not been "in training" for the past year.

I shudder to think what would have happened if I had hit that large metal patio chair. Would our car have been totaled? Would we have been "totaled"? Would others have been injured? The chair would have hit our car on the front end, passenger side—right where my daughter was sitting, and my son was seated right behind her! I can't stand to think of them being hurt, or worse... Any of those previous options are not anything my family can deal with right now. I'm beyond grateful we were spared any sort of accident!

Each time I've had a close call in my life, I've been given a new mindset and this near-accident is no different. Life can literally be changed—or gone entirely—in a split second! I don't like to dwell on those sad thoughts, but they are the absolute truth! Thus, I've been renewed (again) in my life's efforts. I cling to all the lessons I've learned through my various medical trials that have mostly been resolved. I also perfectly remember the sad and difficult life lessons learned through losing my family's loved ones...they are never far from my thoughts.

Life is meant to be lived! Life is about having good and healthy relationships! Our families are the most important relationships we'll ever have! Making our families eternal should be our life's greatest goal! And once our families are eternal, we must daily do our best to keep the commandments and covenants we've made with the Lord. And, when we mess up (or commit sin), we must utilize the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and repent. :)

When I created this typographic design two Sunday mornings ago, I thought it was just a happy, clever design for my Mia Maid class to enjoy. (And I would have been truly pleased with that result!) Little did I know that I would be creating it for my family and me! It's a sobering thought to internalize the fact that if it weren't for my fast reaction time while driving on the freeway (and thanks to the Heavenly help I received), I might not have my family time—as I know it—anymore.

I created "Family Time" with money green as the background color to illustrate that family is more important than money! :)

So today and every day, I challenge everyone—myself included:
Up your game when it comes to your family time! :) Spread your wealth (time) in the ways that really matter! Spend every bit of spare time you have with your loved ones! Better yet, repeatedly create that sacred bonding time with the people who make you you! Never let a day go by without expressing your love to your family! Tomorrow could be your last day, so fill today with love for your family!
In order to daily achieve my challenge, we must create a lasting and eternal relationship with our Heavenly Father (God) and our Savior, Jesus Christ, through the Holy Ghost. If we are truly trying our very best to daily listen to the Spirit and follow His promptings/inspiration/revelation (which is what Heavenly Father desires of/for us), we will be led, directed and helped in the ways we can best live our lives—so that we can create even more wonderful moments and memories with our families!

My family's accident-avoiding experience will stay with me for a long time. I won't take my happy family ending for granted—I'm making every moment count! :)

Saturday, August 1, 2015

I Wouldn't Change It

I had a fascinating conversation this past week. I won't divulge any specifics because I keep everyone else's lives totally private unless they ask me to share. During that conversation I was brought to "spiritual" tears because of the words the other person spoke. I don't like to cry, but sometimes my tears come to the surface and I can't help it! :')

In that teary moment, I was reminded of just how much Greg and I have been through in our lives as an eternally married husband and wife. Simultaneously, I had lightning-fast flashbacks of so many trials! As I reflected on our seemingly endless growing experiences, I was able to see the beauty of the strength Greg and I have obtained. Yes, we have suffered, but we have been blessed even more. Our hearts have been squeezed to their breaking points, but they've never shattered—even though it felt like that would happen more than a few times! Despite our struggles, Greg and I have seen absolute miracles brought to pass in our lives!

As I listened to the revelatory—and personal—spiritual truths this excellent person shared with me, I was instantly reminded that our Heavenly Father allows us to struggle. He knows we won't grow to our full eternal potential unless we are challenged, tried and tested on an almost-daily basis.

We grow spiritually in the same way our bodies become powerful. If we don't intensify our hard work or exercise throughout our lives, our muscle strength won't improve. In fact, if we don't participate in strength training throughout our lives, our chances of developing osteoporosis increase. If we never strive to better our bodies' conditions, they will atrophy and decrease in effectiveness and functionality as our years progress.

Just like our physical bodies are not meant to sit around on plush couches all day, our spirits are not meant to blithely sail through life. The quote, "Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors." is totally applicable to both our bodies and our spirits.

The great thing about our spirits is they can actually grow stronger and improve the longer we are alive! Unlike our bodies, our spirits don't diminish as the years go by. Thus, we must be humble enough to hand our wills over to our Heavenly Father, for they are the only thing we can give that genuinely express our gratitude for what He has given us. We must graciously allow Him to direct our paths—to enable Him to introduce us to our best selves! :)

Over the past two years, I've had many amazing conclusions to my life questions—I've written about a lot of them here. I specifically remember one moment in which I literally cried to the Lord, asking Him why? we were allowed to suffer so much, when He already knew that our family's outcome would be utterly happy and positive?

In that very moment, the Holy Ghost plainly spoke to my soul, "Would you change it?" My heart stopped in its tearful tracks. My soul was on fire as I contemplated His question. Would I change it? Would I want to erase the immense spiritual progress my family and I have gained through our trials and challenges??

I felt so small and cried even harder as I prayed, "No. I wouldn't change any of it."

I fell silent after that moment as I realized I had gained a greater perspective than I ever thought possible in my little life. When I really think about it, that crucial life moment makes me cry even to this day because I know that I matter to our Heavenly Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ. And just like I know I matter to Them, I know everyone who has ever lived or will live on this earth matters to our Heavenly Father...and that connection is made entirely possible through our Savior, Jesus Christ.

It's impossible for us to comprehend the ways of Heaven, but I firmly believe that if we constantly endeavor to be spiritually in-tune, we will be able to connect to our Heavenly Father and the eternal hopes He has for each of us.

I told the person with whom I was speaking that I was truly grateful for all of Greg's and my trials. Of course, it's always easier looking back on our struggles when we're in a good place in our lives (you know, hindsight is 20/20; all is right with the world) but I wouldn't change it. No way. I wouldn't give up what we know now for the ease and convenience of having never experienced our difficulties—not for any amount of money or worldly possessions!

As I finished the fascinating and spiritually uplifting conversation, my soul solidified —without any doubt whatsoever—the fact that there are no coincidences. Everything happens for a reason! If we try our very best to live our lives in harmony with the Spirit, we will be led in the right direction; we will be guided to the things we need to do; we will be inspired with the words we need to speak.

I was also reminded that our spiritual connections with others are vital for our well-being! We need each other's souls in our lives. We must do our best to learn from others' experiences. We must not be fearful for we are meant to share our insights! Our wisdom is most definitely not meant to be hidden. Besides, why would any of us want to suffer more than necessary—especially if we can learn from others' mistakes and successes? :)

I'm honored that that wonderful person freely opened their soul to li'l ole me. I only hope I helped them in some way! :)