Stephanie Robinson of Toms Brook, Va., is a wife, mother, friend and Christian. She’s also a very thankful soul, and she wants heaven and everyone in between to know it.
As sure as the East Coast has been an icebox, and as real as the snow in her front yard, Robinson has no doubt that on a recent stormy morning, heaven delivered a timely warning — one that may have prevented her life's storyline from taking a painful twist.
During the storms that have piled up snow and driven down temperatures, the mother of three has enjoyed watching her children take advantage of the unusual number of school closures. One late-January morning, with area schools closed and the majority of her rural county roads quite treacherous, Robinson bundled up her 7-year-old daughter, Lillian, as she has many times before.
The sweet snow angel was eager to enjoy the fresh snow still falling in the front yard and was certain to spend at least an hour doing what kids do best.
Just a few minutes later, however, the adventurer returned and announced she was done.
"Why are you back in so quickly?" her mother asked, reminding her that it had taken more time to winterize than she'd actually spent enjoying the winter wonderland.
Lillian shrugged her shoulders. "I don't really know." Then, without clarification, she took off the layers and carried on. Robinson was curious, but she returned to her own morning routine.
Ten minutes later, they heard a knock at the door. Robinson pulled it open to find a woman who’d just lost control of her car on the rural two-lane highway in front of the family’s home.
Where had the woman's vehicle slid to a stop?
In the family's front yard. Robinson looked out and saw it occupying the same patch of earth where Lillian might have been building a snowman.
Before long, a neighbor passed by and offered to help tow the vehicle to safety. Soon the grateful woman was off on her way, and when the excitement settled, Robinson took time to teach her daughter by acknowledging the sacred prompting from the Holy Ghost. They knelt together in their house to pray and give thanks.
Two days later, Robinson, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, drove to the Washington D.C. Temple to give thanks again, this time in the Lord's house, and to be reminded of the sacred covenants she holds so dear.
When I asked my friend for permission to share her story, I invited her to offer any insights or lessons she might have learned. “Well,” she said with her trademark humility, “I don't have much of my own wisdom, but a quote by President Thomas S. Monson comes to mind — ‘Decisions determine destiny.’ "
Robinson noted that if each of us would heed heaven’s promptings, as Lillian did, we would always have what’s best for us — whatever that might be. “As for me,” she said, “I chose to go and give thanks in the temple because I know Heavenly Father wants me to serve him and others. I want to choose wisely and give thanks for all I have so that I will be close enough to Him to hear my own promptings when they come my way.”
She’s clearly full of much more wisdom than she realizes.
A few nights ago, I shared the Robinsons' experience with my own family. I explained to my children that lessons from heaven, particularly when they involve little ones, only take root when we help them connect the dots. Instead of a memory likely to be lost like a single snowflake in a massive yard, the moment will become a spiritual anchor for young Lillian. The details may melt away over time, but she’ll never forget that promptings from above aren't just reserved for moms and dads.
The Robinsons will always speculate whether something dramatic and drastic might have occurred on that snowy January morning.
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But, because of a loving Heavenly Father and the power of promptings, it doesn’t really matter.
They’ll never have to know.
Jason Wright is a New York Times best-selling author of 10 books, including "Christmas Jars" and his latest, "The 96th Annual Apple Valley Barn Dance." He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, applevalleybarndance.com or jasonfwright.com.