Objects in the Rear View Mirror are Closer than they Appear

I spend a lot of time driving. Commuting back and forth to work five days a week racks up a lot of miles and translates into a lot of hours spent behind the wheel.

I consider myself, for the most part, to be a friendly, courteous driver. I slow down to let people merge onto the highway or into my lane. I try to get out of the way of someone who wants to drive faster than I am. I use my turn signals and maintain a safe distance from the car in front of me.

I also consider myself, for the most part, to be a fairly kind and understanding driver. I try to remind myself that there are blind spots and other factors that cause some drivers to attempt to share my lane. There are medical and other emergencies that cause some people to drive at dangerous speeds. I remind myself that we are all human and we all make mistakes.

I try to remember all these things, but I have to admit that sometimes it is still difficult. Sometimes, when other drivers tailgate or come close to running me off the road, I get irritated and feel anything but kind and understanding.

One morning this week, while I was driving to work, a car began to pull into my lane. As the car got dangerously close, I noticed that it was a car very much like the one my daughter drives. I wondered how differently my feelings toward this driver would be if she were my daughter. Would I, instead of anger, feel concern? Would I worry about the cause of her actions instead of attributing blame? As I pondered these questions, the irritation that I had begun to feel for this driver instantly vanished.

For the remainder of my drive to work, I tried to remind myself that the other drivers were all someone’s daughters and sons, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers. When they did something that would normally cause me to be angry or frustrated, I tried instead to be patient and considerate. I tried my best to give them and their actions the benefit of the doubt. As I did, I found myself becoming more courteous and friendly and less stressed and irritated.

Later that day as I reflected on the experience, I wondered how different my daily commute might be if everyone treated the other drivers as if they were someone they loved and cared for.

How different might the world be if we extended this to include not only those we share our drive with but also those we share our walk through life with each day?

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Tires and Talents

One morning this week, I passed by a man changing a flat tire on the side of the highway. It’s not an unusual site to see on the side of a busy interstate, but it occurred to me that in all of the miles that I have driven through the years, I have never had to change a flat tire.

It’s not that I haven’t had my share of flat tires. I have driven over my share of nails, screws, broken glass and other tire hazards. Also, during my college years, when I sometimes had to choose between buying food or tires, at times I drove on tires so thin they had no other choice but to go flat.

It’s not that I don’t know how to change a flat tire. My father sold automobile parts for a living and was determined to make sure I had a good grasp on the basics. Since that time, my husband and sons have tried to continually reinforce this knowledge.

The reason that I have never had to change a flat tire is simple. Every time I have had a tire go flat, before I can even get the jack out of the back of my car, a kind stranger has pulled over and offered to change it for me—every single time.

That thought warmed my heart as I continued my drive to work. I smiled as I thought of how blessed I have been by the kindness of others throughout my life. I am grateful that no matter which highway I have been on, or which city or state I have been in, there have been people willing to give of their time, talents and energy to help someone they didn’t even know.

As I continued to reflect on this, I became inspired by the example that these kind strangers have set for me. With my limited experience, I don’t believe that I would be much help to someone changing a tire, but there are so many other things that I can do to help those around me. I believe we are all blessed with different gifts, talents and abilities so that we can help and lift each other in times of need.

So, if you need help changing a tire, I may not be your best choice. But I’ll be keeping an eye out for you, if you need a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, or anything else which I have the ability or capacity to give…

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A Lesson from the Whos down in Whoville

Tomorrow will be the first day of December. Halloween has come and gone and all that is left of the Thanksgiving feast are leftovers. While retailers and early birds began celebrating Christmas as soon as the last trick-or-treaters returned to their homes, tomorrow it will be official. The Christmas season will begin.

For the next month the radio stations will be filled with Christmas carols and every television channel will be packed with Christmas movies and Holiday specials. While I enjoy most of the newer Christmas movies and specials, it is the classics that hold a special place in my heart. It is these programs that seem to instantly transport me to my childhood.

One of my all time childhood favorites was Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas. I loved Whoville and all of the little Whos. I loved watching them and their excitement as they busily prepared for Christmas. I loved watching the Grinch and his little dog Max as they went to each of the homes in Whoville attempting to “steal Christmas.” Most of all, I loved watching all the Whos down in Whoville wake up on Christmas morning happy and singing as if nothing had happened and seeing the Grinch’s heart grow three sizes as he realized that Christmas “doesn’t come from a store.”

As a child, I am positive that I would not have been as happy as the people of Whoville if all of my Christmas presents and treats had been stolen. As an adult, I would like to think that I would handle it better, but I have serious doubts. If I woke up on Christmas morning and all of the presents, decorations and food that I had spent so much time and effort preparing had been stolen, I do not think that I would feel like singing. At least, not at first.

Tomorrow as the Christmas season officially begins, I am going to try harder to remember that presents, decorations and delicious food are the ways we celebrate Christmas, they are not the reason we celebrate. I am going to try to do a better job of following the example of the Whos down in Whoville and focus more on the birth and life of the Savior.

Hopefully, if there are any Grinches in my life that are watching me, their hearts will grow three sizes this year too….

Posted in Miracles | 3 Comments

Choosing My Reflection

There is a 50-story skyscraper near the town where I live. It is an impressive, three sided glass tower that can be seen from miles in all directions. I drive past it twice a day on my way to and from work. In the mornings, I am sometimes blinded by the rising sun reflecting off its mirrored surfaces.

Recently, as I was driving home in traffic that scarcely seemed to move, I spent several minutes admiring the reflection of the setting sun in this massive building. The entire western face of the tower was covered in gorgeous hues of pink, purple, yellow and orange. It was a breathtaking sight and I continued to watch until the sun finished setting and the last pale colors faded from the tower.

Since that day, I have paid particular attention to the reflections in this tower. I have witnessed magnificent sunsets and sunrises, spectacular cloud formations and beautiful big, bright moons. I have also seen the reflections of dark, foreboding storm clouds, terrifying lightning flashes and driving rain. At times, when I have driven close enough, I have seen the glare of street lights, traffic signals and the trash, dirt and debris that sometimes clutters the streets adjacent to the tower.

As I thought about all the images that I saw reflected in this tower, it occurred to me that without anything to reflect in it, the tower is just plain, cold, mirrored glass. It only reflects the things that are in front of it, or that surround it. It receives its beauty from the things that are reflected in it.

Much like this tower, we are a reflection of the things that we choose to surround ourselves with and the things we take into our lives. We are a reflection of the books we read, the music we listen to, the movies and television shows that we watch and the people with which we choose to spend our time.

The tower is just glass and steel. It cannot choose what it reflects, but we can. We can choose to surround ourselves with things that are good, positive and uplifting or we can choose to surround ourselves with things that are negative, repulsive and ugly. We can choose to surround ourselves with beauty and loveliness and take those things into our lives that uplift and inspire.

So now, twice a day when I drive by this tower, I remind myself that I am a reflection of the things that I choose to make a part of my life. When I do, I try harder to make better choices in hopes that it will be a reflection of the Savior and His teachings that others see in me.

Posted in Beauty, Miracles | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

The Light of the World

This week, I have been dealing with the effects of ending Daylight Savings Time. Every morning I have thought of it fondly as I woke feeling more rested, more refreshed. Every evening I have complained and moaned as I drove home more tired than usual in the dark.

As I was struggling to drive home in the darkness, I recalled an experience that I had a few weeks ago. I was trying to deliver a batch of cookies to some new friends of mine. Their home was in a neighborhood that was for the most part, unfamiliar to me. As usual, I was running behind schedule and just as I reached their street the last rays of sunlight disappeared behind the horizon.

By the time I reached their block, night had definitely arrived. Their street was poorly lit and I had a difficult time reading the house numbers. After two or three trips up and down the street without success, I decided to give up and try again the next day.

The next afternoon, it took no time at all to find my friends’ home. I found their house number with ease and made my cookie delivery in minutes. I was impressed that a task that had seemed so difficult, so impossible, in the darkness of the night before was so simple, so effortless, in the light of day.

I thought how sometimes when we are in the midst of trials and problems in our lives, we feel as if we are trying to navigate through the darkness. We are unsure of how to find our way through or where to turn. We feel hopeless and are sometimes tempted to give up.

When we are struggling through these dark times in our lives we need only to remember that our Heavenly Father is the source of all light. He loves us and wants to help us.

If we will call upon Him, He will light our path and make our way easy.

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Blackberry Blessings

Next month, it will be twenty years since my grandmother passed away. I can hardly believe she has been gone for such a long time because she is so often in my thoughts. I think of her almost every day and when I do, I am inspired to try harder, to be better, to be more like her.

So many things in my daily life remind me of her. The hymns she used to sing, flowers like the ones she grew, aprons like the ones she always wore, mason jars like the ones she used to can her jams and jellies…..all of these things and more bring back memories of cherished times we spent together.

This week, it was a recipe for blackberry cobbler that brought an experience from my childhood flooding to the surface.

When I was a child, I frequently went blackberry picking with my grandmother. Most of the time, she would make blackberry cobbler with some of the berries and can the rest of them. One summer, my grandmother let me sell all the berries that I picked to a small local grocer. I didn’t earn much money but it was enough for me to buy myself a pop and a little candy from time to time.

I wasn’t a very fast berry picker. I was always worried about pricking my fingers on the vicious thorns that seemed to cover every inch of the berry vines. On one particular berry picking trip, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed that my grandmother was dumping most of the berries she picked into my bucket. At the time, I didn’t think much about her actions. I was just happy that I would have more money to spend on treats that day.

Since that time I have reflected on this experience often. Not only did my grandmother give me berries that she could have used herself or sold, she attempted to do so without my knowledge. Her only goal was my happiness. She had no desire for any acknowledgment or praise. Her actions, which were characteristic of her entire life, were totally selfless.

As I think of this experience today, I am stuck by the fact that this small, selfless act remains such a powerful example to me more than 40 years later. It inspires me to try harder to serve others and to do so with no thought of recognition or credit for my actions.

It also reminds me of the power and impact one small selfless act can have on its recipient…

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Spiritual GPS

There is a stretch of highway near my home that was replaced a couple of years ago. The old highway had been around for many years and was deteriorating badly. It was an elevated road and huge chunks of it began falling through to the ground beneath it. After a car or two almost fell through, everyone agreed it was time to replace it.

The powers that be decided to relocate the four mile stretch of road a few blocks to the south of the existing highway. After what seemed like forever, the road closures, construction detours and traffic delays came to an end and the pristine new stretch of road officially opened.

Since that time, I have discovered that all GPS systems are not created equal. I have two GPS apps on my phone, one that came with the phone, the other I chose to download later. I have found that when this stretch of highway is included in the route to my destination, one GPS app works fine, the other struggles a bit.

The one app struggles because it has old, outdated data. The maps that it accesses still show this four mile stretch of road in it’s original position. As a result, the GPS continually instructs me to turn around or exit this road in an effort to guide me back to the highway’s original location. Unfortunately, that road has been demolished and no longer exists.

When I know that this piece of road will be part of my route, I make sure to use the GPS app that accesses the new, updated maps. When I do, it guides me directly to my intended destination without continually attempting to steer me off course.

As I thought about these two GPS apps, I considered what might happen if I listened to the directions of the one that was accessing incorrect information. I would waste my time following directions that not only would lead me away from my intended destination but might also lead me into danger.

As I reflected on this, it occurred to me how often in this life we receive directions from sources that have incorrect information or that cannot be trusted. If we follow these directions we can be led away from the path we should follow and can be led into danger.

If we seek after and follow the guidance and directions from our Heavenly Father, we can be assured that we will be on the right path. He loves us and wants us to return to Him. He will always show us the path that will lead us safely home.

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