William loves to tell a story that starts "A guy dies and meets St. Peter at the Pearly Gates..."

St. Peter takes him on a tour of heaven.  He shows him the beautiful cathedrals, the verdant gardens, the spacious mansions.  In the midst of their walk, the man notices a large and overflowing junk yard.  Peering through the wire fence, the man notices not broken down cars and trash, but rather, brand new, shiny vehicles, appliances, toys...  These items, explains St. Peter, are items God prepared for people that they did not want.

Walking the length of the fence, the man pauses when he approaches a beautiful red Cadillac.  Incredulous, the man turns to St. Peter, demanding an explanation.  Who would be dumb enough to not accept this beautiful car?!?  Chuckling, St. Peter replies, "It's funny you ask.  This is yours."


St. Peter continues, "Think back to when you needed a new car.  You had dreamt of this beautiful red classic.  Even went to the dealer to peruse options and prices.  In the end you got impatient and told God that any car would do, even a junker, you were tired of not having a vehicle, so God went ahead and granted your request, giving you that rusty, run down Chevy you drove for the last five years."


This story has been on my mind for the last few years. Every prayer I pray, everything I ask God for, I try to remember to ask what he has in mind for me.  Sometimes it means letting go of the thing or the plan that seems good to you, opening the door for the shiny new thing God had in mind.

It sounds too good to be true, really, dreaming of great things only to have them drop into your lap.  It can be easy to feel skeptical of the process.  But if you really believe God when he says, "Ask and it shall be given," then wouldn't it make sense that a God who can move mountains, who can part the Red Sea and touch 16 white stones and turn them into lights, can give you the thing, big or small, that you ask for?

Well, this was the year I got to test out God's promise and watch how it came to pass.

Last year when we moved back to Utah from the farm in Oregon, I was really struggling to be happy to be here in this dry desert.  I still struggle with it now.  My heart ached for the green, for the hard but satisfying life I had left behind, for my friends.  Funny that I could feel sad to leave behind that 600 sq. ft. apartment, but I was.

For a while it seemed like the loss was threatening to engulf me so I did the one thing I knew would help: I prayed.

I prayed to find my purpose in this part of my life's journey.  I prayed to find those whom I could serve.  I prayed for my family, for those I had left behind, for those I was yet to meet.  Although I still don't feel like I know exactly what I'm doing here, from day one I have prayed to be guided as to what I should do and say.  More than anything, I want in life to be in the right place at the right time.  I want to be where Heavenly Father can best use me, my gifts, my talents, my strengths and yes, even my weaknesses. Lord, prepare the way before me.

For a long time my prayers felt very one-sided.  I didn't have any distinct impression that I should do any one thing or go any certain place.  Mostly I have felt an overwhelming sense of peace: peace that I am in the right place at the right time.  Peace that God knows where I am and is preparing the way before me.

When the time came to move into our rental house last year (we began by staying with my Grandparents) I felt a great sense of urgency and a very distinct direction.  Rent that home, now.  So I did.  I've learned to trust those promptings, even when I went home and after calculating my financial situation didn't see how we would be eating for our first month in the new place.

And the blessings began to flow in.  The rental home was spacious.  It was beautiful.  It was the nicest place I've lived since I was a child.  The ward was amazing.  Like the ward in Canby, the people had hearts for service.  I immediately felt like I fit in, like I had purpose.  Living only two miles from my older kids meant I got to see them a lot.  I felt like I was filling some of the purpose I had come for.  But still my life felt empty compared to what I had been gearing up for in Oregon.

And then I got sick.

Only a month after we moved, I found myself sicker than I had ever been.  I had near-emergency surgery.  I was in bed for weeks.  Although I was told I should recover quickly I found that I couldn't eat, didn't have any energy, felt awful.  I tried going back to work full-time and found I couldn't do it.  It was months before I could, and even now it's a struggle to have the energy to make it through the day sometimes.

But my Heavenly Father had known: known that I would get sick.  Known I needed a ward who could help.  Known I would need to be unpacked before I was bedridden for months.  Known that I would need the indoor beauty to bolster my sagging spirits.  Known that all I could do would be enough.

And so the peace that I had felt ferried me through one of the hardest times I have yet experienced.  Sometimes the peace I felt was all I had.  My fervent prayers continued but now I needed to add a lot of: thank you.  Thank you for this beautiful house.  Thank you for my family.  Thank you for this amazing ward.  Thank you for a calling I can do.  Thank you for an employer who shows patience and love when I can't be sure if I'll show up each day. Thank you for the good health I will build out of this situation: thank you for the wake-up call.

So very slowly I began to get well (like I said, the battle isn't nearly half-fought, I am still not well and still searching for answers) and things began to look better.  About December I was finally able to work full-time and for the first time since I had moved began to feel like financially I would pull out of the slump I had unexpectedly found myself in.  I began to add in my prayers: please show me more of the plan.  Why am I here?  What should I be doing?  Where can I serve?  Prepare the way before me.

And in March an answer came.

I had been watching as builders started the final installment of townhouses in my neighborhood.  Watching and dreaming.

If we needed to stay here, I prayed, I would like to stay in this neighborhood.  I love my ward.  The neighborhood is safe, clean, family-friendly.  The distance from my older kids is perfect.  I'm near the freeway, both my brother's family and my mom find it convenient for family gatherings, which I love.  The view is peaceful, it's quiet here.  Prepare the way before me, I said.  Show me thy will, I said.

And so, on a random morning, with crazy Saturday hair and sweats, I stopped in the model home to day dream.

And three days later I had signed the papers:  I was a homeowner.

The next few months flew by.  It was like I was in a dream.  The financing sped through without a hitch.  Suddenly I was talking paint color and linoleum.  I was not myself: I was johnny-on-the-spot with paperwork (not a talent I normally sport), I returned phone calls, I found every necessary paper and bit of money they needed in record time.  The timing was unbelievable: unexpected money would show up in my account, only to be needed the next day.

We moved into our beautiful, brand new home on Elizabeth's birthday: May 17th.

And so again the prayers repeat:  Thank thee for this amazing home.  Thank thee for all of these new opportunities to serve (a new ward came with the new home - only in Utah can you move one block and change wards!).  Thank thee for knowing me so well:  how my kids and I needed this security, how I love the view out my bedroom window, how I love not having to worry about fixing things, how I love the autonomy of putting nail holes wherever I want, how my dream house always included a pool!

And if dreams ever come true, if ever prayers are answered, here they are!  When we moved into our new home my second oldest son, Daniel, came home to live with me for good.  My sweet son, who I lost when he was only 6 years old, has been returned to me.  A bit like the prodigal son, he comes with all the new trappings of angst-ridden teenagers, but my heart is rejoicing!!!

And I continue:  Help me see the next part of thy plan.  Show me those who need me.  Prepare the way before me.

Months later I am still blinking my eyes and pinching myself.  I still can't tell you exactly how this happened, how my Cadillac showed up just like that.  But I certainly can tell you that it had something to do with all the praying I did.  It had something to do with being grateful.  And it has something to do with why I'm here.

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