Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Mighty Miracles in Fort Lauderdale

My heart is full of joy.  I haven't been able to adequately put into words the joy that has filled my heart, but I'm going to try…

A week ago, our family returned from Missouri after driving through the night.  Abe left that same morning for a 3-week business trip.  I had been invited to go with a group to the temple open house in Fort Lauderdale, FL.  Temples are only open to all ages and to the general public just after they are built and before they are dedicated.  A generous, loving sister even offered to give us a hotel room for our family since it would be about a 4 1/2 hour drive each way.  I was so excited to go- especially for the children to have every opportunity to walk through the temple and see the rooms they would not be able to enter until they are older and ready to make those covenants with the Lord.

A few days before the trip, I began to doubt I would be able to make it because of gas expenses.  I didn't want to be foolish and spend money we did not have because this trip was not an absolute necessity, but I also wanted to take full advantage of every opportunity for my children to grow closer to their Savior.  I cried and knelt in prayer asking God for a way to go.

Abe's job is going well, and he's getting lots of sales.  It's a commission only job and the process for payment can take a couple of months.  We are hopeful for the future.  I was just deeply concerned about the present.

These are the events and miracles which followed those prayers:

* My mother very lovingly offered to help us if we found we had a need to make ends meet.  Although I did not want to take any help, I was grateful for the back-up which eased my panicked heart.

*The same night, our dear friend, who lives in our house in Utah,  sent me a text telling me she had paid her rent already… 17 DAYS EARLY!!!  What?!?  Nobody pays their rent EARLY… unless God speaks to their heart to do so.  I wished I could have hugged her through the phone right then.  She had no idea of my pleadings to get to the temple open house.  I knew that was a blessing from God; however, my panicked heart still questioned if it was prudent to go on the trip because I had LOTS of other expenses which were adding up as well.

* Two days later, a dear friend from Michigan sent me a text saying she would be arriving in Fort Lauderdale/Miami area the following Friday night.  I couldn't believe it!!  She would be there the same time that I would if I went to the temple!!  Inside I knew this was no coincidence…We have spent Christmas Eve with her and her family, and we shared many other special family dinners when we lived in Michigan.  I spoke at her husband and children's baptism.  I love this family and hoped I could see them.

*I prayed harder for guidance to know what I should do.  I could easily make it if I used my mother's assistance, but my pride wouldn't let me do that… unless we were starving… which we weren't.  This trip was optional, so I prayed to know how it would impact my children's spiritual lives.  The answer came to me that if I would take a step of faith and provide the spiritual opportunities, the Lord would open the way based on my faith.

*Thursday morning, the day we were supposed to leave, I took that leap of faith.  I texted my friend with the hotel room and my friend from Michigan and told them I would be going on the trip.  Both were excited.  I began packing, and shortly before we were supposed to leave, another special friend whom I had only communicated with once in the past 8 years sent me a random Facebook message asking me how I was.  (We had lost touch for several years.)  I happily responded to her, and all of a sudden it dawned on me!!  She lives in Fort Lauderdale!!  I told her we were coming her way that night. I texted her the address to our hotel wondering if we were close at all.  She said she lived across the street!!  That was definitely not a coincidence that she would send me a message just before we were to leave.  I felt God confirming in my heart that we were supposed to be going on this trip.  We had an AWESOME visit with her.  She's several years younger than I am, so Abe and I had known her as a young girl just out of high school.  It was my first time seeing her since that time, and I was deeply moved by her grand spirit and powerful testimony.   I was grateful to see where her life had lead her after so many years.  What a blessing that visit was to all of us!!  My heart was full!!

*I have another VERY dear friend who lives in Miami (close to Fort Lauderdale).  She and I have supported each other through very difficult trials over the years.  I even stood-in as her "mother" when she was first married.  I told her I would be coming to her area.  She was available Friday evening.  I had been a bit worried about what we would do that evening while we waited for my Michigan friend's plane to arrive.  That was my answer!  She lived less than 10 minutes from the airport!  I couldn't believe how everything was falling into place.  We had a beautiful time with this dear friend.  In all honesty, this woman is the most compassionate woman I have ever known.  Her heart is of gold, and she lifted all of our souls with her sincere love.

*Next, we drove to the airport to give our friend from Michigan a gigantic hug.  You should have seen us running through the airport!!  By mistake, we parked at the opposite side of the airport from where she was.  Jackson carried Juliana on his back, and I pushed Jayden in the stroller.  We were quite a sight… running with complete joy through the airport at 10:45 at night!  We kept texting each other back and forth… "We're Here!!"  "Coming!!"  When we finally saw her, we were all sweaty and red faced,  but we didn't slow down our sprint.  We almost tackled her to the ground with excitement.

****I wondered if I should share this next miracle, but I need it in writing for my children to recognize how the Lord blesses us beyond measure.  We were taking this temple trip all the way to Fort Lauderdale on a humongous leap of faith.  It would cost us at least $150.00 in gas.  Like I said… we're fine financially… However, this particular week our rent was due, our gas expenses exceeded what we had planned to get to and from Missouri, and Abe's commissions hadn't been processed yet.  Two of those friends we visited, secretly slipped money into my possession… equaling double the cost of our temple trip.  There is no way I would have accepted it if they had handed it to me!!  I had no idea they were even pondering on doing such a thing!  I am sobbing now even thinking about their hearts.  I did not tell them I needed money.  I only mentioned that we were considering not going on the temple trip because of gas expenses.  God spoke to their hearts and to mine.  What a direct miracle from God.  I believe HE wanted me to know that HE would ALWAYS support us in our efforts to do those things which matter most.  HIS blessings are ALWAYS better, richer, fuller, and with beautiful, eternal magnitude.

*We left Miami just after midnight. On the way out of town, I stopped at the WRONG gas station.  A crazy lady stood outside my van door and wouldn't leave.  She was drunk and insisted she was a state trooper, President Obama's wife, and the owner of the gas station.  I went inside the station, and she stood by my side… yelling.  The guy in front of me had drugs rolled up on the top of his ear.  Everything… even the Cheetos were locked away behind the glass doors.  I called Abe and kept him on the phone.  Abe kept asking me if there was a fight in the store.  I told him it was just the crazy lady yelling at me.  Meanwhile… I kept my eyes on my van with 6 children inside!!!  I was trembling a bit.  Abe kept begging me to get out of there quickly.  I tried to prepay, and the cashier "jokingly" threatened to charge me $1,000 instead.  After I left the gas station, even my credit card company contacted me because of possible fraud.  Maybe because they identified the area of town I was in????  I thank God we were safe!!

*I began my 4 1/2 hour drive and was honestly confused as to why I felt so strong driving all through the night!!  Abe texted me and said he was praying hard for me… of course he was… I felt strengthened by those prayers.  Abe wasn't with me, but HE pleaded to God, and I know that angels were sent to assist me.

*We arrived to our home close to 6am.  The boys had a wrestling tournament at 9am.  I walked into the school to pay for my boys' entry fee, and they waved me on telling me they weren't going to charge me.    What?!?  I questioned them again, and the coach just motioned me to keep going on my way.  I was now on 2 hours of sleep and feeling so much gratitude in my heart I could hardly speak.

*******On the way home from our trip, I asked my children what they felt in their hearts as they walked through the temple.  As I listened to their innocent words, I KNEW why it was that the adversary tried to keep me from going, and I also KNEW why the LORD blessed us so abundantly for going.  The temple is truly a Holy Place, and I am grateful my children felt it.  Here is the account of their sacred experiences:

Jackson:  "When I went into the baptismal room, I could feel people waiting to get baptized.  I felt something warm, and I felt people waiting up high.  When I went into the Celestial Room, I could feel the Spirit so much, and in the Sealing Rooms, I knew that this was a place where people could get together forever."

Tyson:  "When we were walking up to the temple, I knew that this was the House of God.  I could feel it really strongly.  When we went into the temple, I could feel the Holy Ghost.  My favorite room to look at was the room that people do baptisms for the dead in.  In one of the rooms, I felt the Spirit so strongly that I started to tremble.  When I left the temple, I had a warm feeling inside of me."

Jordan:  "I loved seeing the baptismal font because I knew I was going to baptized there one day.  I also loved the sealing room because it makes me feel very good inside.  It feels spiritual.  …and I liked that room with the big ceiling and the big light… the room that we weren't supposed to talk in... because I could feel the Holy Ghost in it."

Mariah:  "In the room that we had to be quiet in, it felt really spiritual to me.  It felt really good.  At the baptismal font, it felt good too."

Our sweet friend, Semira, is part of our family too. :-)  

What a grand turn-out of children from Daytona Beach ward.