Ever since I’ve been carrying a copy of the Book of Mormon in my purse, I’ve been praying a little more earnestly to lighten my load!  Just that bit of extra weight has been a wonderful reminder to search for someone who might be receptive to the gospel message.  It’s also been a great reminder that my life isn’t about running errands and checking off items on my list, but putting myself out there where the Lord can use me.  It has made me think of someone searching for the truth, and I’ve prayed, “Please let our paths cross.”

Yesterday I worked with several others to decorate our cultural hall for a Relief Society dinner focused on Visiting Teaching.  Early in the afternoon two of us went to pick up some helium balloon bouquets from a party store.  As I was loading a dozen balloons into my car, they kept floating out again, like the image we all have of herding cats.  It’s a comical scene we’ve all experienced, but I finally got the last one into the back seat as a woman walked by and said, “Oh, those are so beautiful!”

I turned and said, “Aren’t they gorgeous?  They’re for a dinner we’re doing at our church tonight for all the women.  It’s a Wizard of Oz theme, and these are going to be in the rainbow room.”  I pointed to the other sister loading her car with an equally colorful cluster and said, “You should see what she has planned.  She has the Emerald City, and little Ruby Slipper favors, and we have speakers talking about Courage, Brains, and a Heart-you should come!”

The woman smiled and said it sounded so nice, but that she was caring for an elderly mother with Alzheimer’s, and probably couldn’t slip away that evening.  She blinked back sudden tears. “Sometimes she looks at me with such trust…” 

I hugged her and told her of my own journey down that same road, with my mother.

“I’m actually here to buy balloons because one year ago today I lost my son, and I wanted to take some balloons to his grave and release them,” the woman went on. She then explained that she had lost not only this grown son, but a daughter six years earlier. 

My heart ached for her and I asked, “Do you have a faith?  Do you know that you will see your children again?”

She nodded.  She was Catholic, but said she hadn’t really found the peace and comfort she’s been looking for.  I felt impressed to tell her she could be sealed to these children.  We talked about God’s plan.  I invited her to come to church with me, and gave her my copy of the Book of Mormon.  She held it to her chest as the precious gift it is, and said she would try to come.

“I think we were supposed to meet today,” I said. 

She nodded and her eyes filled again with tears. “I think so, too.”

Just maybe, as she was buying a gift for her son to symbolize his ascent into heaven, he was giving her a gift as well.  And all I had to do was carry a small book in my purse, and let the Lord take me where he wanted me to be.

Hilton just launched a blog at jonihilton.blogspot.com.  Her book, “FUNERAL POTATOES-THE NOVEL” (Covenant Communications) is in LDS bookstores everywhere. And her latest three novels, “JUNGLE,” “SISTERS IN THE MIX,” and “PINHOLES INTO HEAVEN” are all available in paperback at Createspace.com, and on Kindle at www.mormonbooksandauthors.com.  Listen (and call in) to The Joni Hilton Show, streaming live on AM-1380 Saturday mornings at 9 a.m. PST.

Hilton has written 20 books, three award-winning plays, and is a frequent public speaker and a former TV talk show host. She is also the author of the “As the Ward Turns” series, “The Ten-Cow Wives’ Club,” and “The Power of Prayer.” Hilton is a frequent writer for “Music & The Spoken Word,” many national magazines.  She is married to TV personality Bob Hilton, is the mother of four, and currently serves as Relief Society President in her ward in northern California. She can be reached at her website, jonihilton.com, Twitter:@JoniHilton, and Facebook: Joni Hilton.