It’s been bitter cold these past few weeks. Bitter cold. The “this makes me not want to ever go outside” kind of cold. Temperatures in the low teens every day, sometimes dropping into the frigid single digits. It’s all I can do to make it from the door to my car that is parked in the garage. I’m just glad there is never a significant windchill here in Utah.
The severity of the cold triggered a distant memory that I had all but forgotten. It was one of those moments in life when you sit back and think, “Thank God that I’m blessed with what I have.”
In March of 2008 we were driving back from a family vacation and we made our way through scenic Wyoming. It was getting pretty late and after fighting with some severely tired eyes we decided that it would be a good time to stop at a motel for the night. We found some cheap, musty hotel just off the freeway and I ran inside to book the room. The freezing air whipped all around me as I jumped back in the car with room key in hand. We found our parking spot and I jumped out to unload the kids and the necessary bags for our quick night’s stay.
I opened the back door of the car and lifted up my 4 year-old boy who was fast asleep. We had to climb some stairs to get to our room, and their were lots of bags to haul in, so I needed him to stand up and walk by himself. When I placed him on the ground he stumbled drowsily and the howling wind left him even stunned and confused. He began to cry because of the unbearable cold, and feared going up the tall staircase all by himself.
As I bent over to put his coat on, I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude that I had a coat for him to wear. In a way like never before, my heart literally filled with a powerful emotion of gratitude as God made an impression on me by communicating, “You are blessed”. I caught a small glimpse of what it must have been like to take my poor children and travel with them across the plains in the severest and most dire conditions as did the early pioneers* and settlers. I had something they didn’t, I had the luxury of putting a coat on my child, and a nice pair of shoes. Most importantly, I could tell my little boy with certainty that he would shortly be in a warm place.
Can you imagine the heartache and pain of having your children exposed to the harsh and frigid elements and not being able to do anything about it? Not being able to place a warm jacket on them, or bring them into a nice cozy home warmed by a nice modern heating system? Those dear pioneers who lost children due to exposure – my mind and heart can’t even comprehend it.
God bless all those who are out in the cold. God bless all those children who need a blanket, a nice meal, and the assurance that they will soon be somewhere warm. I’m thankful that my children have all this and more.
*Interestingly enough, one of the earlier pioneer companies had set up camp very near to this spot in Wyoming where we were, and more than 200 people died from starvation and cold in the fall of 1856.