Wednesday, May 21, 2014

God's Army of Angels

Last week I asked Abe if he wanted to bike to the kids' wrestling practice instead of driving. (It's 25-miles round trip.)  Being the supportive husband that he is, he agreed to it.

Since I knew he hadn't been riding his bike as much as we had been, I rode the bike with the trailer attachment while he rode my women's bike.  On the way there, Mariah got a flat tire.  No problem, I sent Abe and my older boys ahead of us so they would make it to wrestling practice in time.  The hole in Mariah's tire wasn't leaking fast, so Mariah and I stopped every once in a while to refill her tire with air.  Once we arrived at the school, Abe took the tube off Mariah's bike and patched it up.

After wrestling practice, I was looking forward to a relaxing ride home as a family.  I mentioned in a previous post that on the way back we passed an alligator on the edge of the sidewalk.  We survived that encounter and crossed the bridge which took us over the Intra-Atlantic Coastway.  Once we reached the beach with 7 miles to go, I looked back and Abe was stopped.  Jordan's chain had been popping off, so I figured Abe had stopped to help Jordan.

A few minutes passed, and Abe called to tell me that the bike he was riding-my bike (the best bike we own)- was broken beyond repair.  I didn't believe him until I saw it…

I felt so sad.  The whole mechanism on the back wheel completely broke off!  My bike was destroyed , and our plans were crushed.  

Negative thoughts began to rush into my mind:  We were planning on taking a trail through the woods on the way home for some added discovery and enjoyment as a family- now we couldn't.  We wouldn't even be saving gas money because we would have to drive all the way back to pick up Abe and my broken bike!  This also meant we wouldn't be doing family bike rides with Abe anymore for quite some time.  (Abe wasn't as heart-broken about this aspect as I was.)  

I really hate it when plans don't go the way I want them to- especially when I envision them being so good for family bonding!  As we stood on the side of the road trying to decide who would stay and who would bike home the remaining 7 miles, my eyes were drawn to a woman walking up the sidewalk holding a potted plant in one arm.  She walked with so much confidence right towards us that I figured she was coming to help us in some way.

She greeted us warmly complimenting our large family.  I confessed we were a bit disheartened because we had a broken bike.  She put the pot down, immediately grabbed my hands, and started praying.  At first we didn't realize she was praying because her eyes were open.  She called down the powers of God to bless our family.  After we all gave our "Amens," she gave me a huge hug and kissed me on the cheek.  Then she went to each of my 6 children and kissed them too!!!  She went to Abe and hugged him warmly.  As she walked away she reminded us that the devil wants to take our joy away, and that God has a purpose in all that we do.  

Just this morning I read a quote from President Gordon B. Hinckley:  "There must be purpose in our lives.  We are here to accomplish something, to bless society with our talents and our learning.  There can be fun, yes.  But there must be recognition of the fact that life is serious, that the risks are great, but that we can overcome them if we will discipline ourselves and seek the unfailing strength of the Lord." 

Our entire encounter with this beautiful woman only lasted a couple of minutes, but she left us in awe.  

How did she know we LOVE PRAYERS? much so that her prayer became the most perfect solution to cast out the negative thoughts!  How did she know we LOVE HUGS AND KISSES? much so that we all felt filled with joy at her loving gestures!  How did she have enough love in HER heart to kiss a bunch of sweaty faces that were strangers to her?  Her faith strengthened ours.  What an angel she was!!!

We decided to leave Jackson and Abe with Jordan's bike and my women's bike on the side of the road.  I continued on home with the rest of the children.  Jackson and Abe would be playing on the beach for the next hour and a half while we biked home.  Tyson, Jordan, and Mariah thought it was a little unfair that they would miss out on beach time with Daddy.  

I saw it in a different light:  How wonderful it was that Abe would have an hour and a half alone with Jackson- his oldest child!  How rare is that?!?  

Jackson later said they wrestled together, talked on the beach, and put their feet in the water.  He said it was an awesome time with him and that it was really special for him.

I was beginning to see the good from the broken bike.

Meanwhile, we had biked about 20 miles with about 4 miles to go, and Mariah really had to use the restroom.  I sent Mariah into a restaurant on the edge of the beach with her older brothers while I stayed outside with Juliana and Jayden.  About 5 minutes later, the children returned with Italian ice pops to share!!  A woman in the restaurant fell in love with my kids and couldn't help but give them a sweet treat for their ride home.  They didn't even tell her they were riding 25 MILES!!  I was so surprised that there was a 2nd woman/earthly angel giving our family so much love on our journey home!  Her kindness lifted all of our hearts when our bodies were physically exhausted.  

Just like anybody else, I encounter thoughtless and rude people.  I, of course, encounter setbacks and disappointments.  However, I am so grateful to see that God has an army of earthly angels conveniently placed all along our paths to lift us up.  

Every time a sad thought about my broken bike and broken plans started to creep back into my mind on our long ride home, thoughts of that woman with the plant and the woman with the Italian ice pops reminded me that God was mindful of our journey.  Those moments allowed me to let go of my "perfect" plans and go with the journey that God was directing.  HIS journey is better and much more enriching to our souls!!  

I pray that I can be an earthly angel in God's army, so I can help somebody else on their journey home.

That "journey home" being our Heavenly Home.  This life is that journey.