Friday, November 25, 2011

I'll See Him Again

It's been a little over two months since my dad passed away.  All the details have been taken care of, and the memorial service has come and gone.

And today, today is the day I finally cried.  I didn't expect it.  All the while when everyone asked me how I was doing, I kept saying, "I'm okay.  I'm happy for him because I know he's in a better place."  I didn't feel sadness because I understood that he would no longer have to be imprisoned by his mortal body.

But today, I do feel sad.  Maybe it's the fact that Thanksgiving was yesterday.  I don't know.  I was just sitting at my desk working and some thought must've slipped through my subconscious.  Next thing I know I'm sitting here bawling like a baby.

Usually, I'm pretty in touch with my feelings.  When I feel things, I usually know why.  I know this feeling of sadness that just overcame me is about my dad's passing, but I don't understand why now.

I'm sad for my dad's life.  I wish I could've been stronger for him.  I wish I could've been more patient, less judgmental, better at letting things roll off my back.  I get my stubborn nature from him; but unfortunately, it caused us to often be at odds with one another.  I don't regret my relationship with him.  I did the best I could.  He did the best he could.  But, sometimes people doing the best they know how, doesn't necessarily mean things work out as we think they should.

I am sad that dad had such a HARD, HARD life.  One of the things about him, though, is that he never quit.  Sometimes he'd go off track a bit, but he never quit.  He always kept trying to do better, to be better.  I wish that he would've had as much happiness as the effort he put into TRYING.

Looking back, it's no lie that there were some really hard times having him for a dad.  But that's not what I think of now.  Now, I think of all the GOOD things he did and all the LOVE that he had for us.  I think of how he kept trying to be a better husband, a better father, a better person.  I wish he could have felt more success.  I wish I could've been able to applaud his efforts more and judge his weakness less.

I'm thankful to know that God lives.  I'm thankful to know that Jesus Christ came to redeem the world and because of the laying down of his life, we will all be able to live again.  I'm thankful that I know that my dad's spirit is alive now and that he can be free from mortal pain and sorrow.  I know that my dad forgives me for my weakness in loving him.  I know, because that's how he is.  Just as Jesus loves us, dad would rather have taken any sadness or sorrow upon himself than to have any one of his children experience it.

I'm sure that when I see my dad again, we might still butt heads.  It's not like dying makes us perfect.  But, I hope, that I will have grown stronger, that I will have learned to be more humble, meek, submissive, patient, full of love and all long-suffering.  I hope that I can love him better.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

When You Least Expect It

I'm thankful for a wonderful, kind, gentle husband.  As I've mentioned, I grew up with an alcoholic dad.  While not all alcoholics are violent or abusive, my dad had some, shall we say, "anger issues".  Like most other little girls, I dreamed of growing up, marrying a wonderful husband, and having many babies.  But, with my dad as the primary male role model in my life, I didn't hold out much hope for the "wonderful husband" part.

Engagement Photo

Then I grew up.  Or, I grew up some, anyway.  I went off to college and began to have many wonderful experiences.  I learned all kinds of new things, made new friends, and even dated a bit.  I was thrilled to find that there were many different types of men in the world.  I became convinced I would find the "perfect" guy and live "happily ever after."
The Kiss

Then I grew up some more.    When I was 21,  I took the opportunity to serve as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.   While a missionary, I became fluent in Spanish and was able to continue to use my newfound skills when I moved to Texas in the Fall of 1999.   By the time I was 30, I had managed to not only elude marriage, but find myself a degree and a career.  I became a bilingual social worker.

As you know, social workers don't make a lot.  The average salary of a social worker is about on par with that of a school teacher.  But, I was on my own, paying my own way, had my own apartment, etc.  I made friends, but many of them got married.  At one point I found myself pretty alone.  Not only that, but I got fired from my job for a mistake I had made.  It was not a pretty time in my life.  I got internet service in my apartment so I could look for jobs online without having to go to the library to use the computer there.  I spent HOURS every day combing the classifieds.  After only a few days of this, I hit a pretty bad low.  I knew something had to change, and soon!  I decided I needed to try to make new friends.  For this reason, and ONLY this reason, I decided to join a singles site.  I know, I know, it sounds like I was looking for a relationship.  But, I really and truly wasn't.  I just wanted to make friends so I wasn't so isolated.

Wedding Day

People always say it happens when you least expect it.  Which, I always found to be silly.  I mean, when you get to a certain point in your life, you know the next step is to find the right person, settle down and have a family (If that's the life path you choose.)  I wanted that, too.  When I was a kid, I thought I'd get married at age 19 like my mom.  I never intended to be single at 30.  But, that is where I was.  And, admittedly, from the age of about 26 or so, I kept looking around every corner thinking that surely IT would happen.  But, when it didn't, I finally had to accept the fact that I might never get married.  I had to learn to be okay with that.  And, I did.  Through lots of prayer (and long discussions with my mom), I accepted that Heavenly Father has a plan for each one of us and even though I didn't understand it, I had to trust Him and His plan for me (which, apparently, did not include marriage.)

Thanksgiving 2008

So that's where I was.  Alone, broke, and searching for friends.  And then I met Lloyd.  There are so many funny things about the way our early courtship went.  The first being, I couldn't even see what he looked like from his bio picture.  He had some old, out of date picture where he was sitting on a couch about 10 feet away from where the photo was being shot.  Digital imaging wasn't very common then, and the 35mm shot was blurry and hard to see.  All I could tell was that he had long legs (as they were stretched out in front of him) and dark hair.  Other than that, the image was fuzzy.  But, I read his bio and he seemed like a genuinely NICE GUY.  That's the kind of friends I wanted to make:  genuinely nice people.  I wasn't looking for partyers or game-players male or female.

My 35th Birthday 2009

Lloyd and I started emailing back and forth and he was the kindest and most thoughtful man I'd ever encountered.  I had no idea at the time that I would fall for him.  I wasn't expecting it in the least.   In fact, at the time, he was dating a few other girls.  Even after we'd had a couple of dates he flew out to California to meet up with another lady.  But, it didn't bother me.  Why?  Because I didn't know I was falling in love.  I was totally in the "friend zone" and so I was completely okay with that.  On top of that, I knew that if I ever DID find someone to fall in love with, I was definitely NOT going to try to convince him to love me.  Looking back, when I was younger, I see that I often gave too much, too soon.  I was so eager for love that I gave my whole heart away to those who didn't give back as freely.  As hard as those times were, I learned from them.  I was determined that I would rather be alone and happy, than with someone who didn't love me the way I deserved to be loved.

Our Five Year Anniversary, December 2009

Lloyd loves me completely and unreservedly.  Though our marriage isn't perfect (is anyone's?), we are happy.  We work hard at loving each other and we are building our dreams together.  They are slow in coming to fruition, but we are partners in our efforts, for the most part (except when he forgets to take the trash out.)  I love Lloyd with my whole heart and am MOST grateful for the path that led us to each other.  I'm grateful for God's plan for me.  He knows what is right for me (and WHEN it is right for me), even though I sometimes doubt.  As the years go by, I better understand the value of patience and faith, for in retrospect, I see nothing short of miracles in my life.

Family Picture with our dog, Chance (who thinks he's a "people".)  2010

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Home

I'm thankful for my home.  Though we were poor growing up, we were never without a home, thank Goodness.  I can't imagine the difficulty of being homeless.  Yet, I know that there are countless Americans who are.  With the state of our economy and corrupt politicians, I worry that many families are increasingly closer to being homeless.

When I was a kid, I had to share a room with my two sisters.  It wasn't that big of a deal.  Back then, that's just what you did. Nowadays, people seem to think that every child has to have his own room.  Not only did we share a room, but we had bunk beds.  I know lots of kids think bunk beds are cool, but I didn't.  Being on the bottom bunk meant it was dark when you sat on your bed to write or do homework.  Bunk beds also meant constant awakenings when the person in the other bed moves, wiggles, or climbs up and down the ladder.  I know it probably sounds silly, but I remember as a girl DREAMING of having my OWN bed.  I longed for a ruffley and frilly canopy bed, complete with the Holly Hobbie bedding ensemble.

I wanted my own bed so badly that there were times when I would take boxes, filled with various and sundry things, line them up in a rectangular pattern, then plop my mattress on top of them.  Viola!  My own non-bunk-bed.  Clearly this was not a bright idea, as the boxes got mushed down from the weight.  I'd wake up in the night sliding off to the floor, as my mattress had tilted on its uneven foundation.

To have a home is such a blessing that I daily take for granted.  Not only that, but I've been blessed with a beautiful home.  I never dreamed I'd be so blessed.  Really.  It was just never really in the realm of my imagination that I would get to live somewhere so nice.  I'm thankful to God for His abundance; and I'm thankful for my husband who works so hard to provide such a comfortable home.

Here are some pictures of what the house looked like when we first moved in, in December 2006.  It doesn't look as great now, as I am not a good housekeeper at all!  But, it's still nice and I'm thankful.

Front Room

Dining Room 


Family Room

Family room and Back Reading Nook

Front Bath

Bedroom #1

Bedroom #2 (We call it the Mothers' room)

Bedroom #3

Bedroom #3

Master Bedroom

Master Bedroom & Window Seat

Master Bath
Master Bath

Upstairs Media Room

Upstairs Media Room / Game Area

Friday, November 04, 2011

Blessings Through Trial

I'm thankful for my health.  I've been in the hospital 3 times within the last year or so.  That's not what I want to have happened at this point in my life.  Thankfully, the doctors have been able to help me improve, but it's been a trial on so many levels.

I've learned a lot from having had sickness.  It's opened my eyes to what living is.  It's helped me develop greater compassion.  Having been sick in the last year or so, helped better prepare me for my Dad's passing.  I'm thankful that Heavenly Father works all things together for our good (Roman's 8:28).  Even when I was experiencing those times of trial, He was helping me to grow.

Today I am well.  I am well and I am thankful for my health.

Thursday, November 03, 2011


I read a quote somewhere (probably on Facebook) earlier this year:  

"What if you woke up tomorrow with only 

the things you thanked God for today?"

That meant something to me.  What a profound question.  I realized that although I try to say at least a morning prayer, and an evening prayer (and try to remember to give gratitude at mealtimes), my prayers are often too short and too insincere.

We live in a very fast-paced society.  My mom (who is now in her mid-sixties) is truly convinced that time is actually moving faster.  I can't say that I disagree.  With so much amazing technology available today, one might think that it would be easier to accomplish MORE in less time.  

Unfortunately, while that may be true, we now have higher expectations of what is to be "done" every day.  Not that the stuff to be done is harder (I would've worn dirty clothes for weeks had I to wash them on those old-fashioned washing boards with wringers); it's just that we seem to want to cram a million things into every waking moment (and even the non-waking moments.)  

But, busy-ness is not now, nor has it ever been, an excuse for a lack of thoughtful gratitude.  While it's easy to get caught up in thinking that by doing so much, our lives will be full and meaningful, it's simply not true.   Doing is well and good, but it really doesn't mean much if we don't stop to appreciate the blessings we have.  

Heavenly Father has blessed my life with such abundance.  I take so much for granted.  Now, I'm not saying that I'm going to spend hours in prayer every day (though my soul could probably use it!) thanking God for each little bird's chirp, each pair of shoes, each raindrop on my face.  That would just take too long.  But, I can CERTAINLY stand to spend MORE time than I currently do truly giving thanks for the countless blessings He graces me with daily:  a comfortable home, health, family, friends, food, sight, smell, touch, taste, sound.  Where would I be without ears to hear and eyes to see?  

I have to try to remember the things that matter today.  I WANT to give thanks for them always.  What if I DID wake up tomorrow and all I had was the things for which I'd previously been grateful?  How I would regret not having given more thanks.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011


I'm thankful for my job.  It's been just over six months now that I've been with this company, and every day I count my blessings.  Oscar Wilde's words really resonate with me, “The best way to appreciate your job is to imagine yourself without one.

I've been unemployed before.  I've been fired, laid off, quit.  My husband has also gone through unemployment.  It's not pretty for the majority of working class America.  And, since the housing bust in 2008 (and the subsequent bailout), employment has been extremely hard to come by for many, many Americans across the nation.  The Dallas metroplex is one of the places that has been least affected by the "recession".  While it hasn't been ideal, it has been SO VERY MUCH better than what many others face elsewhere.

Every day I get up and say a simple prayer of gratitude for a job to go to.  For that means I have money to pay my bills, a home to live in, food to eat, medical care, and even fun money.   Not ONLY this, but I actually LOVE my job.  I've spent the first 10 years of my career in jobs that weren't that great.  There was a lot of stress, little pay, and a lack of fulfillment.  Not only that, but I've encountered a myriad of unscrupulous business persons and employees.  There have been times when it's all I could do to MAKE myself go to work.

But now, after so much hardship, Heavenly Father has blessed me abundantly.  I work less than 3 miles from home (which is practically unheard of in the metroplex), I get to have near-total autonomy in my work (I work alone a lot, which I enjoy), I excel at what I do as an office manager and bookkeeper (I like to do everything and be in the details), my work hours are flexible and in addition to Saturday and Sunday, I also have Fridays off.  But best of all, I really really LIKE my bosses.  They've treated me so well.  They value me.  They appreciate me.  They've shown they really care about me as a person.  
For years I believed that I would always be stuck in crummy jobs.  I figured that's just the way life is.  When I quit my horrible job a year ago April, I was scared and worried.  It took many months to find the new job, the RIGHT job.  But, I just chose to keep believing that Heavenly Father would work out the best plan for me.  I couldn't understand why I wasn't finding the right job, though I had many successful interviews. 

Now, I understand.  He was saving me for this place, at this time.  He had a plan all along.  I'm so thankful for my job.  

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Autumn Joy

Did I ever mention how much I dearly love Autumn?  It's my favorite season.  Which, if you think about it, is kind of strange for a person who has struggled with Depression her whole life.  But, I just can't help it.  No other season SMELLS and FEELS the way Autumn does.  PLUS, Autumn is really just a segue way into the Holidays.  I've noticed that I'm happiest when I have something to look forward to.

In the past, I used to think the GETTING of or the ARRIVAL of a thing or event was IT.  But, now that I'm older (and clearly much wiser), I've realized that it's the ANTICIPATION that I enjoy most.  That's part of the reason I'm a "planner".  Don't get me wrong, I can spontane as much as, or better than the next gal.  But I like to plan things because then I get to savor the anticipation.

As a kid growing up, we didn't have much money.  In fact, it's amazing that we had Christmas gifts at all.  But, not HAVING never stopped me from DREAMING.  What Christian child hasn't spent hours in contemplation over the all-important Christmas Wish List?  Just as it was then, I relish the time spent dreaming more than the actual THING itself.

That's one of the main reasons I think I love Autumn so much.  When the leaves start to fall, and the wind turns cool, it's a signal that the Holidays (filled with parties, shopping, gifts, family time, and a general increase in human decency) are just around the corner.  Who couldn't love that?

I'm also appreciative of Autumn because for Americans,  the Thanksgiving holiday is celebrated.  As we take time to reflect on the many blessings that have been afforded us as a nation, as families, and individuals, our hearts can't help but expand.  It often appears that nowadays many tend toward building up a personal armor to avoid showing any inkling of vulnerability (convinced that being open will result in being taken advantage of, financial ruin, or lack of respect).  However, with the onset of Autumn, and the ensuing Holiday Season, people's hearts seem to soften and grow warmer.  Friendships are rekindled and family bonds are renewed.  There is nothing more important in life than this.

With that being said, I'm thankful for my family.  My dad passed away in September.  It's not that I was especially close to my dad.  I loved him.  He was my dad.  I understood him, because I am like him.  More than anything, I was happy to see him go because I understand the certain misery that comes from being stuck in a sick body.  He was sick for a long time.  The upcoming winter weather would have been even harder on him.  I'm glad he was freed from his mortal prison and no longer has to face the sickness, sadness, pain, and loneliness that often come with being elderly and alone.

With my dad's passing, our family was reunited twice within 2 months:  once in September at his passing and again in October, for his simple, yet beautiful memorial at the lake.  As a family of highly independent thinkers, in the past, we've often had disagreements.  It could be said that we argue simply for the sake of arguing.  We all enjoy a good debate.  Sometimes, however, those debates have been taken a little too far and feelings have inevitably been hurt.

As my mother and siblings gathered to discuss the business of death (because, with all the decisions to be made, it DOES feel that way sometimes), I was worried that there would be contention -- too many varying opinions.  To my wonder,  we all genuinely got along.  Everyone behaved kindly, respectfully, and even maturely in deciding the WHAT and WHEN and HOW.  While there were a few diverging thoughts, it seemed that all were on their best behavior to be accommodating; to get along as best as possible.

I've heard of families being torn apart by death.  If anything, I think my family became closer and stronger going through this together.  I have new-found respect for my siblings, even my "littlest" brother.  At 25, my baby brother amazes me with his strength of character and gentle heart.  He understands things in a way that most men never do.  He speaks few words, but when he does, they are gems.  I regard and respect him, as with many other of my siblings.  My mom continues to be a pillar of strength and admiration.

I'm thankful for a strong, opinionated, passionate, caring family.  I love when we are together.  I get to behold amazing qualities in those around me.  Though it's not ALWAYS rainbows, unicorns, and sunshine, I am filled with gratitude for their love, support, and strength of character.