My birthday is six months from today, and I will be 40 years old. 40 years old.
I’m a little freaked out.
Oh youth where have you gone, and where are the dreams we made?
There’s a lot I haven’t done with my 40 years, and I’ve talked before about the different things that have been difficult or disappointing. But overall things have been pretty good. I was sitting at church a couple of weeks ago and thought that after posting my stories of trial and sorrow, it might be nice to post something about all that’s right with my world, so here are a few.
I love the Church. I really do. It’s been the center of my life all of my life, and it’s made me the person I am today. It’s also made the people I love who they are, and they are pretty great. I believe in God, and I know that He loves me, and that he hears my prayers. Prayer has been the most powerful lifeline I’ve had. I don’t know how many times I’ve been at work and have felt frustrated or upset about something and have gone into a bathroom stall, said a prayer and have immediately felt better. The Spirit has lifted me, given me strength and encouraged me under every circumstance not just to go on, but to do it with hope and a happy heart because there is a God in heaven who is paying attention to me. I’m as sure of that as I am of anything.
I love the word redemption, and am sure that Jesus Christ gives us just that. Redemption – pulling me up when I’m weak. Making up the difference for my flaws. Forgiving. It’s beautiful. It’s freedom. It allows me to learn as I go, to say I’m sorry when I’m wrong, and to try again. I love my Savior, and I know that He lives.
Of course, I owe my membership in the Church to my parents who converted when I was very young. The missionaries came knocking on our door, and from what I understand, my mom was impressed by their clean-cut looks. She asked them to come back later when my dad would be home, and they did, and they taught us the gospel. A little more than a year later they were baptized. I didn’t realize until I was a missionary myself just how unusual it is to find a whole family to teach, and for them to be baptized and then to stay active is rarer still. But Mom and Dad did stay active. We didn’t do a lot of the typical Mormon things, like family home evening or raising us to go on missions, but we stayed active. I’m so grateful for that. It’s made all the difference.
I have great siblings. They’re my friends, and they are some of the best people on the planet. My sister is a miracle. When I think about the fact that she was born in South Korea, became an orphan there, spent years in an orphanage, and then came to live with us, it kind of blows my mind. And she adjusted through all of it so beautifully. And we get along so well. I have to believe that Heavenly Father played a part in bringing her to our family. I’m sure of it.
My childhood was great. Living on a farm was great; although, I didn’t really appreciate it when I was a kid. Who wants to spend all day hoeing the garden, or shelling peas, or clearing a field of hay bales? No ten-year-old girl that I know of and certainly not me. But I am sure that growing up that way made my siblings the top-notch people that they are. I don’t mean to say that a person has to come from the country to be a good person, not at all. I’m just saying that I love what it gave us. Knowing how to work gives people a foundation to build their character on. Second to the gospel, that’s the best thing my parents did for us.
It’s still remarkable to me that when I went away to college I really got to go away, all the way to Ricks in Rexburg, ID. What a great time. Luckily Marla wanted to go to the cosmetology school there, so we went together. After school I moved to Salt Lake and worked for two years, and then had the great experience of serving a mission in California. Sometimes I still wonder how all of that happened. It’s not like either me or my parents had money, and I’m really not the outgoing, adventurous type. I am very independent, but not outgoing. But when it was time to make those decisions I just knew what the right choice was, and I went, and my parents supported my choices. Everything fell into place. Sometimes I look back on those years and am shocked at the fearlessness of youth, and overwhelmed with gratitude. It makes me teary even now.
Since my mission I’ve had the blessing of supporting myself through great jobs. I’ve often kicked myself for not picking and pursuing a career when I was young. Still, I really have been lucky in the jobs I’ve had, and even more so in the great people I’ve worked with. Most of my best friendships (including every reader of this blog, all four of you) are people that I met at work. It’s been fun! Working for the Church is a unique opportunity to know some extraordinary people. And I have to say that I love the store. After 13 years, and in spite of all of the craziness, I still like going there. It gets me out of the house, away from sitting on the couch in front of the TV all night, and it’s a great social outlet. We talk and laugh and grumble and complain and get angry at customers and then laugh again. Who wouldn’t want to spend her evening doing that? It’s really been good for me.
I believe that it’s the people in your life that make all of the difference, and I’ve been blessed with being surrounded by wonderful people. You’re all great, and you’ve made my life great. I haven’t let go of the dreams of my youth, and it’s ok that they’re going to be realized later rather than sooner because I’ve had a good time in the mean time. And I think that there are a few more things that I can do before turning 40 – I should lose about 200 pounds, or close to, and I’d like to write the first three of a children’s book series that I’ve been thinking about for years. Wouldn’t that be cool? Probably too cool for uncool me, but I’m going to give it a try. And right now I’m watching the guys here at work measure their arm span and comparing to their height. I gotta get in on that.