38 feels great!

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Sunday marked the 38th anniversary of my grand entrance into the world, and while I remember very little of that day and the days following it, it was a good day because it was the start of a very good life.

I won the parent lottery by being born into the family Heavenly Father placed me in. I feel as though I started life at an advantage based solely on the family I was born into. It was the first of many blessings.

As I reflect back on my life so far I am humbled by the many graces God has bestowed upon me, especially because I am so unworthy of His many graces. I count my blessings and among them are:

My amazing parents as well as their parents who showed them through example how to be good parents. While I feel strongly that chains of abuse, neglect and poor parenting influences can be broken I recognize that my life started at a great advantage by having such incredible role models from birth on.

I’m grateful for my siblings, who from early on became my best friends and most constant playmates. Being raised an Army brat meant frequent moves, and with every move there was a period of adjustment when we moved into a new area and knew no one. We quickly learned that those siblings that made the move with you every 3 years were inevitably your only playmates for a while and your only constant playmates over years of many moves.

I am grateful for my faith…those truths that remain my anchor when the winds of life are blowing me to and fro. It is a seed of a  testimony that was planted in early childhood as I learned at the knee of my parents about my Savior Jesus Christ, and that seed has only grown and matured and expanded as the years have passed.

I am grateful for Toby, my eternal companion and best friend. I firmly believe, and often express to my children, that one of the most important decisions you will ever make to determine the course of your life and ultimately the quality of your life, is the decision of who you will marry. Once again I felt like I won the husband lottery when I married Toby. I am grateful for the example he is to my children. I pray my boys will learn from his example how to be men…real men. Men that are kind and selfless, hardworking and honest. I pray my girls will look at their Daddy and the standard he has set for them about how a real man loves a woman and marry a man who treats them as well as their Daddy treats their mother.

I am grateful for the talents the Lord has given me. Any good thing I have, any good thing I am, any good thing I do,  is not from me but from God. I am grateful for the talents He gave me and I pray that I might use those talents to be a blessing to others.

But even more than my talents I am grateful for my weaknesses. I am grateful for those things that I struggle with, that humble me, that keep me falling to my knees and turning to my God. I am grateful for the trials and struggles he has blessed me with in my married life with Toby, those illnesses, losses, hard times that drew us together as a couple, helped us be more Christ-like and kept our focus on the eternal rather than the temporal. I am especially grateful for a Lord that takes weak things and makes them strong…”For when I am weak, He is strong!”

I am grateful for the calling of motherhood. There is no calling in my life, no task or duty that brings me more joy and fulfillment than raising our children. It is a bloody hard task. It is tiring, heart breaking, and defeating work at times. I have cried more tears over my mantle of responsibility as a mother than any other role in my life. And yet it is my greatest joy as well. The Lord uses my children to work on me, to teach me, to mold me, to humble me, and to stretch me. Parenting truly is a refiner’s fire and I am grateful for the work the Lord is doing on me through my children.

I am grateful for my health. Often I find it takes a health scare to remind us of the incredible blessing good health is. There was a time in my life when by body didn’t work. When tasks as simple as brushing my own hair, or walking to the mailbox were impossible. I am grateful for those years of struggle because it taught me to value the great blessing of muscles that work. It is a blessing I no longer take for granted.

 This time of my life also taught me compassion and empathy. I remember a day when my muscles were so weak that I worried I was not going to be able to make it into the grocery store and back out with the gallon of milk I needed for my young children. I knew that if I was going to make it through the store before my legs gave out then I needed to park as close to the store as possible. I pulled into the handicap parking space, put my handicap parking tag on my rearview mirror, and got out. I was struggling to unload three children under the age of 5 from the car when a man approached me, screaming and scolding at what he viewed as the abuse of a handicap parking tag. He saw a young mom with children. I looked healthy. I wasn’t in a wheelchair or visibly handicapped so he felt justified in his words. My disease was invisible…my struggles unseen. He had no idea that I had Myasthenia Gravis. He had no clue how huge the task of walking in the store and getting milk was for me. It was my Mt. Everest. He judged a situation he didn’t understand. I never did get my milk that day. The confrontation left me so drained that I didn’t have the strength to go inside, but I am forever grateful for that experience. I learned an important lesson that day. We have no idea. We look at each other’s lives, and children, and choices, and make judgments. We have no idea the hidden struggles and the silent burdens others carry. It taught me to be kinder in my assessment of others and to judge not.

I am grateful for all the tender mercies in my life. I feel the Lord’s hand in my life daily and I feel His love for me through the loving acts of those around me. It isn’t by chance I am where I am. The friends He has placed in my life are not by chance. Each is a great blessing to me. I learn from their examples and feel their love through their words and actions. They enhance my life and make life sweeter!

I’m grateful for the joy of animals. I am grateful that I was raised in a home of animal lovers and was taught early how to love and care for animals. I am grateful for a mother who is a tender heart. I have so many early memories of her coming home with stray dogs and cats, unable and unwilling to risk letting them roam homeless, determined to find them a loving home. Now grown up I appreciate the extra work and burden she placed on her already loaded shoulders to take in, clean up and care for the lost and needy. There was nothing in it for her other than peace of mind knowing that that animal was now safe and ok. I married a tender heart much like my mother in the sense that he too quickly, willingly, and with open heart takes in the strays of the world. He too is an animal lover and gets as much joy from raising animals, as I do. Never in my life did I expect to be so lucky as to marry a man that would give me a baby goat or a puppy for Mother’s Day. He knows the key to my heart is not diamonds or riches, but rather something furry and four legged. 🙂

I could go on and on.

As I lay in bed on my birthday morning I was humbled by the list of blessings I could rattle off in my head.

I am so grateful for the last 38 years of life and look forward to what God has in store for the next 38. 🙂

Sunday was a delightfully perfect day. After church in the morning we came home, put on our PJs, and enjoyed a quiet family day at home. It is just what I wanted for my birthday.

The kids made me a favorite lunch of sticky bun sandwiches with ice cream cake for dessert.

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The kids all had made or purchased gifts for my birthday, putting a lot of thought into their gifts: my favorite gum from Tyler, a new candle from Rusty (He smelled each one he store and thought I’d like the cranberry orange scent the best), scrapbooking papers and stickers from Molly, a CD case from Ozzie (“so we quit scratching your cd’s,” he said), and a painting by Grace for my living room.

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Toby had his gift delivered on Saturday. A dumpster rental for a week! Next to furry, four legged gifts this is my second favorite! I am looking forward to a week off school to clean, organize, sort and toss. We don’t have garbage pick up on my road so purging requires burning, or bagging and taking things to the dump, so the novelty of having a dumpster just outside my door that I can fill this week is so exciting! I am looking forward to cleaning out the basement!

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(Ok, I know many of you can’t relate, especially if you have a garbage truck that picks up the stuff you don’t want each week, but for me this is a luxury. 🙂  I love purging. It makes me so happy. Toby just smiled when I told him it was the best gift ever!)

In the afternoon we watched The Martian. What a great movie! I highly recommend it!

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Molly did my hair, we played games as a family, napped and just relaxed.

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Best birthday ever!

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38 feels great!

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