I realize it isn't really Christmastime, but I kept thinking of this today.
My favorite Christmas memory is kind of an odd one. When I was a senior in high school my dad and I made the long (12 hour) drive down to Chicago from my small town in Minnesota in order to attend our family Christmas party at my uncle's house. On the 23rd we received a phone call from my mom telling me that my 5th grade teacher, Mrs. D., had passed away unexpectedly after suffering a brain aneurysm. I had always been very close to Mrs. D. and she was very influential in my life. My dad recognized the importance of this so, after dinner on Christmas Eve, we packed up the car and drove all night back to Minnesota so I would be able to attend the funeral on the 26th. Not only did this demonstrate my dad's love and willingness to do just about anything for his little girl, but we also had a lot of really good talks during that long overnight drive. I felt I really came to know my father that night and for that, it will always be one of my favorite Christmas memories.
It was also on that trip that I decided I wanted to go to the College of St. Scholastica. I remember coming over a little hill into Superior, Wisconsin and seeing Duluth all lit up and growing into the sky across the lake. I knew right then that Duluth was the place for me.
As an aside, when I started getting all the college mailings in high school, I wondered why I never received one from BYU. (I, obviously, didn't know much about BYU except that I'd heard of it and knew it was a well-respected school). Years later, when I learned how cheap tuition is at BYU compared to CSS, I was a little sad that I hadn't known of BYU (and the church for that matter) prior to attending college. On the other hand, if I hadn't attended CSS, I would never have experienced so many things that make me who I am today - one of the most influential being that I never would have met Jolene. (Which means, not only would I be unfulfilled in regards to best friends, but also that my boys wouldn't have very many clothes since we have gotten the majority of ours from her boys.) It is amazing how we can feel guided and directed in such a small way regarding big decisions. The guidance can be so small and simple that it makes the decision not seem like a big deal because when you are able to follow the spirit, you can have confidence that you are doing the Lord's will, no matter the outcome. Then those decisions go on to have an impact even larger than we could have imagined. (Another example is deciding to serve a mission. I need to do some nap-time interventions and so that will have to wait for another post.)