Monday, April 27, 2009

Climbing Every Mountain - Fording Every Stream - Following Rainbows toward my Dream

I had the opportunity to drive Emily across the country to Idaho so she would have a car while beginning her college experience. I dreaded the thought of driving that far (again), but looked forward to spending some quality time with her. And we had quite an adventure. We were supposed to leave on Thurs (April 16 - Emily's 18th birthday), but then I got the idea we could leave on Weds afternoon right when I got out of school and at least make it to St. Louis. So that's what we did. We had a good drive on Weds afternoon and made good time all the way to St. Louis and even drove on about an hour or so to Columbia, MO. We stayed at a dumpy Motel 6 but it was cheap and we weren't there long so it was okay. Since we were relatively 'fresh' and since I had a gray stripe down the middle of my head, I made use of the hotel's bathroom to color my hair. The plan was to get up early on Thurs and drive to at least Evanston, WY and if we felt like it-- push on another hour to Ogden and spend the night there. Laura and Josh were leaving Salt Lake on Friday morning (heading back to Rexburg where they hope to be in permanent residence), so if we made it to Ogden we could just wait for them in our hotel room and then follow them to Rexburg.

So we got up early on Thurs and drove and drove and drove and were doing really well until we got to Cheyenne, WY and then it started snowing. It was big huge wet flakes and they weren't really sticking to the road but they got clogged on the windshield wipers so they didn't work right and I couldn't see (besides the fact that the clouds were down really low like fog and trucks were going extremely slow so I had to watch real close to be sure nothing was in the road in front of me). We drove on like that until Laramie and finally the snow was collecting on the road in a kind of dirty slush. It was still wet but there was enough of it to be slick. Then we went over a mountain and saw that on the other side of the interstate hundreds of cars were trapped trying to go up the mountain we'd just come down. Two trucks were stuck at the top and couldn't go on. Visibility was terrible and even though it was only 5:00 in the evening and we had planned to drive for HOURS still, I was afraid to go any further for fear we'd get stranded on the road. So I got off the interstate and we checked into another dumpy Motel 6 - this time in Laramie. And then we got snowed in. There was at least 8 inches of snow on the car the next morning. On the weather they said some areas got 4 FEET.

Of course I didn't have any real shoes with me - since I'm from Alabama and down here April means SPRING - so I went outside with towels tied around my feet covered with Walmart sacks. Emily and I each had half of the pizza box from our dinner on Thurs night and scraped the car while standing in snow up to our knees. A plow came through and got the roads pretty much clear so we went and checked out the road conditions while filling up with gas. The roads weren't great - lots of the brown slush, but they were passable. So we went back to the motel and were packing up to go when it occurred to me that I'd better make sure the interstate was open. It wasn't. We were stuck there. We sat around all morning miserable and not knowing when we were going to get out (they said on TV that it might be Sunday).

It kept getting clearer - no sun but brighter - and the little bit of snow still on the car melted and we got hopeful. We could stay in our room until 12:00 and then we were going to have to pay for another night. So at 11:30 I called the Laramie police and asked if they knew when the interstate was opening. They said not at all that day. So I paid for another night at the dumpy Motel 6. At about 2:45 Emily checked the Wyoming Road Department Website and it said I-80 was open. We immediately threw our stuff in the car and checked out. They wouldn't give me even a partial refund but said if I-80 wasn't really open we could come back. We got up on the interstate and the lights were still flashing saying it was closed but a few other cars were on it so we went. And we made it all the way to Pocatello before we got too tired. We drove in to Rexburg on Saturday morning (instead of Friday like we'd planned). We were NOT traveling with Laura and Josh and Harrison (they went on without us on Friday) and we were afraid that all the BYU-I offices would be closed. But that was not the case. We were able to do everything on Saturday that we would have been able to on Friday except get Emily a bank account - which she handled on her own after I left (at 3:30 am on Monday - that's when I left - not when she got her bank account!!!)

Anyway, I'm sure you're wondering how the Mountain Climbing title figures in to the is post...

While Emily and I were driving we listened to the Sound of Music soundtrack about a hundred times and the song Climb Every Mountain became particularly meaningful to me. I've always liked it - but while driving across the country (in adverse conditions) and with a son in Ethiopia (Heaven help me) and a daughter about to get married (that Heaven help me thing) and 4 little grandchildren (so far) who have to grow up in this evil world and two more sons at home to raise - it's easy to get overwhelmed and tempting to say 'it's too much - I can't do it'. But the words of that song - talking about how in order to reach your dream you have to give all you have - all the love you've got - for your whole life - rang true to me. I started out my married life nearly 30 years ago with a dream to have a large family and to raise them to be productive, happy, tax-paying, God-fearing people. I was blessed with 8 beautiful children and if I acheive my greatest dream - I will spend eternity with them and my husband. Many times during this life process I've reached roadblocks or deadends or snowstorms which have required an adjustment in course. But to quote Maria from the movie, When God closes a door, He opens a window. So when the path was blocked, I've had to climb what seemed like mountains and ford hypothetical streams and follow figurative rainbows - working toward that goal of eternal togetherness. It's been a lot of hard work and I know I have more work ahead of me. As the song says if I want to reach my dream I'll have to work 'every day of my life for as long as I live'.

So now when I get discouraged or overwhelmed or just tired I hum a few bars of that song and press forward. Maybe something good did come of all that driving in the snow...

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Living the 'Good Life'

I had an experience a few weeks ago that I wanted to share. I work at an elementary school. I'm a teacher's aide and I basically work with children who need a little extra help. I was in a fourth grade class and saw a student who looked like he was having a bad day. I tried to encourage him to sit up straight and get ready to have a good experience in class. He looked up at me and said, "Why are you always smiling?" I didn't realize that I smiled that much. In fact, I think I'm pretty stressed and irritable a lot. So I asked him, "Am I always smiling?" He said, "Well, you always look happy. You must have a good life." I thought about it for a minute and nodded. "Yes, I do have a good life." "Well, I don't," he said. "I hate my life."

I talked to his teacher later and she confirmed that he does have some challenges to deal with. Ever since then I've been haunted by his face, his situation and his words, "I hate my life." There's not much I can do to improve things for him. I pay particular attention to him while I'm in his class and I smile whenever I see him in the hall. And he's always in my prayers.

But there is something I can do about me and my attitude. I'm trying to appreciate my blessings more and complain less about the stresses in my life. I'm trying to remember that I am happy and I do have a good life - even if it's a busy one. I'm thankful to that fourth grader who has helped me to see things much more clearly. And I hope that one day he will have a happy life too.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Grace and Aaron are engaged!!!

The date is July 18th and we're all pretty excited!