Family reunions...Gotta love 'em, and I am currently at one of the best of them. Here is the family photo that we took outside of church on Sunday...This is the only one that isn't completely blurry, and Steve and his sister Nickell aren't even in it, because I'm pretty sure Steve took this photo himself. (Can you see me?...in the back row, holding Autumn.) I guess it sort of captures the chaos that comes with a large family gathering.
But I'm not here to talk about that. My MIL let me get on her laptop for a minute this morning, because I wanted to record some special experiences that I've had with the Spirit in the last 24 hours that I did not want to forget.
I've had a lot of impressions since coming here leading me to the understanding that this is the family that the Lord intended for me to marry into. As we've read scriptures, prayed, served, and "talked of Christ" together, I've felt that I wouldn't now be enjoying these blessings of the spirit with my in-laws, had I made different choices in my younger years, or had I not held out for "the right one." I am thankful for their company. I am thankful that I feel so accepted and supported among them. I am thankful that the Lord helped Steve and me to make this sweet match together. It has and continues to make all of the difference.
The second sweet experience came while we were making cards for those who were hospitalized after the Aurora, Colorado shooting and then when we actually delivered the cards.
We gathered the cousins together, and they made cards for the victims using the sweetest sentiments...in their own words (and own spelling!) One card read, "It's a beautiful world."
Those words really touched my heart, as out of the mouth of babes, I heard the simple truth, that there is still beauty in this world. My niece Abbie wrote such kind and tender and loving words and expressed such sincere and Christ-like love for people who she did not even know. It was pure compassion.
Because of some emergencies our schedule has been switched around quite a lot while we've been here, but we finally made it back into downtown Denver last night.
We visited a favorite family stomping ground (where I'd never been) called Casa Bonita. It's like Chucky Cheese's, only in a Mexican setting. Actually, it reminded me of Pleasure Island, where Pinocchio goes to glut himself on games and entertainment. It was loud and dark and sticky with grime that has gathered there over the years. There were lots of games to play that required tokens...and you won tickets that could earn you prizes. You know the drill. The kids really enjoyed it as far as I could tell. And like I said, this place was a place where the family made a lot of memories growing up.
As soon as we finished exploring Casa Bonita, Steve, and the kids, and I drove over to the Children's Hospital of Colorado to deliver the lovely notes that the children had made for the victims of the shooting.
Just Scarlett and I went inside the hospital (which is absolutely beautiful, by the way). A helpful security guard at the front desk directed us to the volunteer office where we met with a woman who will take our little love-notes to patients.
I explained to her what we were there for, and I could see from the look on her face that she was touched by the gesture. She expressed her appreciation and said that these would mean a lot to the patients and do a lot of good.
She asked me if I'd like to "fill out a donation form." I said no, that these were gifts from children from all over who just simply wanted them to know that they are loved and that we feel for them and that we are praying for them...and that there is still good in the world.
When we left the office, I knelt down and hugged Scarlett and told her how proud I was of her. I asked her how she felt inside, and she said, "Really good." I asked her if she knew what was making her feel that way, and she said, "The Spirit." We hugged again and I told her that I too felt really good inside, because we did what the spirit asked us to.
Later, in the car, we relayed our experience to Steve, Guy, and Autumn, and we contrasted the "fun" that we had at Casa Bonita with the joy that we experienced in the hospital.
I commented that while there was a lot to do and see in the themed-restaurant, I had more fun and felt more happiness in five minutes delivering our notes at the hospital than I did in two hours at the restaurant. And it cost us nothing. One type of joy is nice, but temporary...the other eternally satisfying.
I am thankful that Scarlett and I could experience that together. It was important to me that my children be a part of that experience.
Now here's my last experience that I wanted to record.
You all know how my children have been doing TONS of chores all summer to earn spending money for this trip.
Right before we left, Steve doled out the cash to the kids as payment for their chores.
They were pretty psyched! Guy had earned $28.00
When they got their money, I asked them not to show it to anyone, not to pull it out in public, and I asked them to let me hold it for them.
Guy wanted to hold onto his own money.
We arrived on Saturday evening and on Sunday morning at breakfast, Guy had his money out showing it to his cousins. I reminded him that I did not want him pulling out his money and showing it around...in fact, I wanted to hang onto it myself.
He would not relinquish the money.
By the time we came home from church...his money was missing.
We looked high. We looked low. We searched bags, purses, pockets, suitcases, drawers, floors, and closets. Nothing.
He was pretty sad about it. I was pretty sad about it.
Steve wanted to sneak some cash into a drawer and have him "find" his money, but I refused to let him replace what he had lost, because he had disobeyed, and I did not think it was wise to swoop in and fix the situation in that manner. I did not want to rob him of whatever lessons were to be learned.
Days passed. The girls were spending their money at Build-a-Bear and on other fun items.
Finally, as we were driving to the Denver yesterday, and we were talking about how disappointed we all were that the money had been lost, Guy got pretty emotional. I asked Guy if he thought Heavenly Father could help him find the money. He said yes. I said, then maybe we should pray and ask him to help you find the money.
Guy offered up a brief but heartfelt prayer that Heavenly Father would help him find the money. Then we recounted President Monson's story of the time that he left $5 that he had worked hard to earn in his pocket. The pants were sent to the cleaner and he was sure that the money would be lost forever. He prayed that the money would be returned, and the Lord made sure that that $5 bill came back safe and sound.
I told Guy that I believed the Lord could help him just like he helped President Monson to recover the money he had lost. But I advised him to continue to pray about it whenever he could...that by doing so, he would show the Lord how much he wanted His help. He agreed to do this.
Last night, I said a prayer that this experience would work out...that the Lord would teach Guy something about the spirit, that it wouldn't all be for not.
This morning, I woke up and took my scriptures outside to read. My study took me to 2 Nephi 8 and 2 Corinthians 1...both spoke of how the Lord comforts his saints through the spirit...and that was a sweet experience of its own for another entry.
However, as I read, I prayed, "Please help us find Guy's money."
Then the spirit, ever-so-softly prompted me, "Go clean up the suitcases."
Now, mind you, we've checked every bag and every suitcase...We all have...more than once.
When I was finished studying my scriptures, I headed down to our bedroom. I started gathering laundry that needed to be done. I remembered the prompting to organize and clean up the suitcases in our room. As I started to do so, I thought, "I don't really feel like doing this right now." (I hadn't yet had breakfast!) But then I caught myself and said, "No, I've been prompted, so I'll do it now, instead of later."
It only took me a few minutes to organize the suitcases, then I set to cleaning out our three backpacks that we'd used as carry-ons on the plane.
As I picked up Guy's backpack, I turned it around to discover his money folded neatly and stored in a see-through mesh outside pocket.
I couldn't believe my eyes. I had checked the bag at least five times. And there it was...plain as day.
(As a side-note, true to character, Guy has indeed been responsible with his money...he just forgot where he had stored it!)
I said a prayer of thanks for the Lord's help...both in finding the money and in helping Guy have a positive experience with the Holy Ghost. Then I headed upstairs to share my experience with Guy. We prayed and thanked Heavenly Father again, and Guy shared his experience with the rest of the family.
Anyway, I've been on here way too long, and I'm missing all the fun upstairs, so I'm off!
But I just wanted to record this for myself...to make a record of and to celebrate the great love that the Lord shows for each of his children...and how does he do it? Through the promptings of the Holy Ghost.