A year ago we moved from Lehi to Woodland Hills. It was a tough decision to uproot the family and plant new roots in unfamiliar soil. But this has been the most beautiful, fertile soil and lovely blessings have come from the decision to make a change.
Parents always worry about their kids making good friends. That concern was at the forefront of our minds as we packed and unpacked U-Haul boxes. I am so grateful, relieved and thrilled to say that our girls have made the finest of friends in our new area. I have made new friends too. One friend was a little unexpected. His name is Ted and he is 86 years old.
We met when our ward went Christmas caroling. Would you think less of me if I told you I did not want to go? And could I earn back any of that respect if I told you it was like 80 below zero? At least it felt like it. It was cold that night! But my youngest daughter really wanted to go…thank goodness. Because that was the night we sang to Ted. And that was the night he gave the carolers some nuts and candy from his house, which made my heart melt. Which made me want to be his friend. Which has led to a delightful friendship.
This is beginning to feel like "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie."
Our family loves Ted. He loves when we visit. He tells us stories, gives us hugs and his eyes twinkle when he smiles.
Ted loves to write. He is writing a book right now about defining moments and defining people in our lives. He asked if I would contribute.
I count Ted among the defining people in my life. With all the doubt and fear that swirled around our decision to move, he has been a confirmation to my heart that we are in the right place.
The word defining means, "critically important." A defining moment is one that is crucial in shaping our lives. It has a lasting and significant effect on us. The definition doesn't indicate the size of the event – it could be something simple and small, or it could be monumental in nature.
For Ted's book, I chose to share a small, practically forgettable, moment from my childhood.
Mrs. Stephens was my 2nd grade teacher. She was so pretty. She had thick, straight, long, blonde hair and was tall and thin. She used to leave scratch and sniff stickers on our desk when we had a good day.
They have since lost their scent, except for the pickle. You can still smell the slightly gross dill if you're (un)lucky.
Mrs. Stephens was my favorite teacher. I might have been her favorite student. Or, more likely, she treated everyone like they were her favorite student.
During the school year, she had the nerve to go on vacation and leave us with a sub for a week. She went to Roundup, Montana where she saw and took a picture of a Solar Eclipse.
She sent me the picture. Me. Little 'ol second grade me. I still have the picture and I pulled it out of my scrapbook so you could see.
Why was that defining for me? Because a woman that I admired – a woman with endless sheets of scratch and sniff stickers – thought about me when she was on a road trip. She remembered and cared enough about me to take a picture, put it in an envelope, add a stamp and drop it in the mail.
Every day in class, after I received that letter, I knew I was special. I knew I was loved. I knew that someone awesome thought I just might have a little awesome in me too.
Defining moments are sometimes the smallest moments. We "give pictures of solar eclipses" to people all the time without even knowing how special it is to them.
Mrs. Stephens is one of the reasons I value small acts of kindness. I learned first-hand in second grade how lasting, important and meaningful they can be.