I wrote this post a week ago following our long drive from Vermont to Omaha. I'm pleased to report that our drive from Omaha to Utah was much less eventful. :)
A couple of days ago, I found myself in a grumpy funk. No particular reason--I was just grouchy. Especially when a good night's sleep is rare, it's pretty normal to have a day here or there when you feel on-edge. But when I woke up for the second day feeling just as irritable as before, I knew that I needed to do something.
I logged onto lds.org and read, "Recognize, Remember, and Give Thanks." In this message, President Eyring not only teaches the spiritual importance of gratitude, but suggests that we bring the sweetness of the spirit into our own lives by showing thanks through prayer and journal writing--today. So I did. In praying and writing about just a few of my blessings, my attitude transformed and I felt peace for the rest of the day.
You know, we spend months and months preparing for Christmas, as evidenced by the store fronts. This year I'd like to spend more time focusing on Thanksgiving. What if our family spent from now until the end of November thinking of things that we have to be grateful for? We'd still only scratch the surface.
In an effort to keep this spirit of gratitude, I'd like to begin our July travelogue by recognizing, remembering, and giving thanks for safe travels home.
Our trip home was a long one. We began in Vermont and caravaned with our Lithuanian friends to Niagara Falls where we spent the night. (More on this fun later.) The following day we enjoyed Niagara on the Lake before beginning the rest of the long journey. Well, while traveling on I-69, just outside of a small town called Dewitt, the car started to make a high-pitched grinding sound. Of course I was driving--strange things always seem to happen when I'm behind the wheel. As soon as I figured out that it was our car and not the passing truck, I pulled over onto the shoulder. Smoke smothered our car, billowing out of the engine.
So here we were--my mother, my sister, and I--stranded seven hundred miles from home on an interstate with four young children. Since our husbands were in Alaska, Washington, and New York respectively, Eli was the only man among the bunch. Darkness was quickly falling, and we only had one cell phone between us.
A hard time to feel blessed? Perhaps. But we were. We may only have had one phone, but that phone was charged and actually got service. (A miracle when you have Sprint...) Two young men, mechanics at a garage in Kalamazoo, immediately pulled over and offered to help. Just imagine all the meaningful service you could give if you actually knew something about cars! They offered to come tow us to their shop, but we called AAA instead since it was so far. The towing service ended up sending not just one, but two tow trucks since we couldn't squeeze all seven of us into the cab.
You'd think that two tow trucks would be enough excitement to keep my kids whirring for weeks. But no, the drama continued as not just one, but two fire trucks also showed up. Apparently someone on the interstate had called the fire department because they had seen flames under the car along with all the smoke.
Now's the point where you really start thanking the Lord for all of your blessings and your safety. When faced with the idea of a flaming mini-van, the What If scenarios keep you humble. By 9:30 pm, we were safely tucked into a local Sleep Inn with clean beds, a pool, and free breakfast.
As grateful as we were to be cared for, we were also concerned about the car and anxious to get back on the road. We were pretty sure it was a transmission problem, and when your vehicle has 209,000 miles on it, you don't want to throw away tons of money on repairs. You feel pretty vulnerable when stuck in a hotel with four kids. They could have charged us just about anything.
Instead, they expressed their amazement that we hadn't lost the transmission completely, flushed it out multiple times, changed the filters, and explained that the car had gotten stressed out from traveling so far with so much weight. Apparently the transmission fluid can get so hot that it lights on fire. Instead of letting it light the car on fire, the vehicle sends it squirting out the back as a defense. Definitely a good idea.
By three o'clock in the afternoon, we were back on the road again. Our major breakdown ended up costing us no more than some time and several hundred dollars. Needless to say, we have been blessed.