It was a cold January day in Tokyo many years ago when an Air Force family wrapped up in their warmest duds to see the sights. The young mother, not being superstitious, but thinking “it couldn’t hurt” lifted her 4-month-old baby girl high to the giant belly of the Buddha statue and rubbed the baby all over it for luck.

That baby was me.

If you’ve read some of my past stories you might think it didn’t work. I’ve had some trials, but I’m going to tell you right now, I’m one of the luckiest people you know.

Each weekday morning, I teach a group of teenagers an hour before school about the Gospel. Can you imagine kids voluntarily getting up ahead of schedule and going to church?  Yeah, me neither. But, they show up and we get into some pretty deep conversations.  

One of our recent conversations was about how the Scriptures are an instruction manual for life. If you do things this way, life will be easier than if you don’t, etc.

I reminded them we should never confuse easier with easy because bad things happen to good people every day. It’s how we react and overcome those circumstances that matters. This is true if you’re religious or not. Making good choices usually results in better outcomes than making bad decisions.

With that being said, I like to think we make our own luck. I can take all the bad things that have happened to me and turn them into incredibly lucky moments in time.  

Here are some examples:

I was an awkward child – too skinny, too tall, and suffering from a terrible speech impediment. I had few friends, and even fewer good friends, but I was lucky enough to have a janitor at my elementary school who took the time to mentor me and be kind to me.  He taught me how important an education was and told me good friends will find you. Never go looking for them. He was right: I continue to share my life with the friends who found me along the way.

I never wanted children when I was younger. I wanted money and material things. Children would be an inconvenience, or so I thought. After I got married, we decided we would have children, but in my mind never more than two.  My second son died at three-months-old while at day care. I was lucky enough to have a village of support – more like a kingdom really – and through that experience I realized serving others and sharing the love I have could make a larger difference in this world than the amount of money I earn or the size of home I own. I now have six beautiful children, and I love every minute of it.

My first marriage didn’t last, and it was an ugly divorce. I was at my lowest. I felt like a failure. I was a terrible mother and person, and I believed every word.  Later, I was lucky enough to meet a man who would tell me that was all a lie. He believes in me, pushes me to be the best I can be, loves me and protects me. He tells me I am beautiful, and holds my hand as an equal partner through all the trials we face. We are lucky enough to know together we can survive just about anything. He’s become my husband and the best friend I’ve ever had.

With every day I’ve been down, I can say I was “lucky” enough to find something to lift me up. My ups were blessings. My luck was answered prayers.    

How do you make your own luck? By learning and living. I believe luck is a construct of being at the right place at the right time, as in, your choices create your luck. Make good choices and I can almost guarantee you will be saying “Lucky me!” before you know it!

• Stephanie Bell is Executive Director of Pierce County Family Connection.