Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Faith to Move Mowers

Summers in Texas are hot. The outdoors feel a bit like when you first open an oven door and you lean in too quickly only to have your eyelashes curl up from the blast of hot air. For a good part of June, July and August the residents of this state race from air conditioned home to car, car to office, and back again. You do not spend any amount of time in the open; I think you might actually melt, which in my case would probably result in a puddle of butter on the sidewalk.

One of the only benefits from living in this furnace is that for 3 months you don’t have to mow your lawn. A few minutes after the temperature reaches the “hell’s kitchen” level on the thermometer, all your grass cries uncle, turns brown and stops growing. No matter how much water you sprinkle it with, it just lays there looking dead and so nobody even bothers to mow after a while.

The same is not true in the spring months of the year. During that time lawns make up for everything they know is coming in the summer by pretending they are located in the Amazon jungle. They are green, lush, and if you watch long enough you can see them growing.

This last year in April found Buns and I out on our little reincarnation of Brazil, complete with vines and flowers, having a discussion about the lawn mower. Not so much a discussion as an argument. Apparently if you turn a mower upside down to clean out all of the grassy gunk underneath oil pours into the gas tank and it will refuse to start. Who knew?

We loaded it up and hauled it to “Speedy’s” the local small engine repair shop so that we could be charged $100 bucks for being silly. Only a short 46 ½ days later they called to tell us that the repairs were complete. By this time the heat of summer had showed up with a vengeance and so we put the mower in the shed to wait it out.


In September when the grass resurrected itself, and had grown so high that the neighbors could no longer see our front door, I broke down and got the mower out to take care of the wilderness that was now our yard. Amazingly enough after sitting for 3 months it wouldn’t start. Buns tried, David tried, Andrew tried, the missionaries who were passing by on their bikes tried, our next door neighbor, the postman and even the lady walking her Shih Tzu came over and gave a couple of pulls on our obnoxious machine. No dice.


True to my stubborn nature I refused to give up. Vainly, I pulled and pulled on that mower until my face took on the hue of a ripe tomato. Huffing and puffing and growing angrier by the minute I finally kicked it nearly breaking my toe.


“Brenda” Buns said in his most soothing voice, “it’s time to give it up.” Buns knows that when I get in this state that one must tread carefully or my frustration can easily be turned on the nearest passerby or sweet husband. The only answer he got back was an “arrggghhhh!!!!” Yes, I turn into a pirate when I’m angry.


I stood there on the brink of absolute fury. “I just spent $100 on this piece of garbage! We don’t have the money to take it in again or buy a new one and our yard is starting to look like Honey Boo Boo lives here!” That, and some other thoughts that aren’t suitable for print cascaded through my mind.


Finally, I realized that my teenage sons were witnessing my mental meltdown. This was not exactly the best way to model controlling your temper.  I took some deep breaths and gave a couple of more pulls on the cord, still nothing. I then thought “if my dad was here he would be able to fix this.” My dad was a mechanical genius and passed away a couple of years ago.


Anger and frustration finally in check, I stood there in that yard and the idea came to me that if faith could move mountains then it certainly could start a lawn mower. I said a silent prayer in my head and while doing so exerted every bit of faith I had. I said “Father, I’m sorry I got angry. Please help this lawn mower to start. We are the only Mormons in our community and everyone in town knows we live here. I’m trying to beautify this little piece of Zion. Please help me.”


When I opened my eyes nothing happened. I gave a couple of more pulls on the cord and the mower did not spring miraculously to life. “Ok” I thought, “this probably isn't up there on God's list of stuff that makes any difference and I’m ok with that.”


Just as I was about to walk away a very clear thought popped into my head. “Pump the choke three times, count to ten, and then pull hard.” I immediately questioned this thought. “Is this me or something else?” Again the thought, “Pump the choke three times, count to ten, and pull hard.” In that moment I felt my dad standing next to me, just like he had done the countless times I had worked with him in the past.“Ok, here goes nothing.” I said and I followed the instructions.


The mower belched out a huge cloud of black smoke and roared to life.


I stood there with a stunned look on my face and watched my husband and boys levitate into the air, they were so startled by the noise. “What happened?” they all yelled across the yard. 


“I’m pretty sure grandpa just helped me fix the mower” I said with a laugh. All I got in reply was raised eyebrows.

Joseph Smith taught that "The spirits of the just...are not far from us, and know and understand our thoughts, feelings, and emotions.” I have no doubt that dad was close by that day. He did know how to fix that mower and was allowed to help me in my time of need.

It’s not often that my prayers are answered so quickly and directly but that experience taught me an essential lesson. I know that prayers are heard and that they are answered, they really are. And if Heavenly Father loves me enough to be aware of something as minor as a problem with a lawn mower, then how much more help must He send me when the real trials and problems of life come along? 

There really are angels bearing us up, and in my opinion they are people who know and love us. How grateful I am to know that.



"And...I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angles round about you to bear you up." -Doctrine and Covenants 84:88

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