Thursday, November 29, 2012

This and That ...

It's been an interesting day:

* L discovered that I'm old as dirt. (See Mislaid Musings and Random Ramblings)

* I had to explain puns to my little first graders. That was exciting ...
I had to explain jewelry to my little second graders. That was more exciting ...

* Lately, the car's been so loud that I feel like my head may implode. My dad checked today, and sure enough -- a bearing (forgive me if I spelled that wrong -- when it comes to car parts, I'm still learning how to spell ... ) needs to be replaced. On the plus side, while it's not welcome news, it's not as devastating as it could be. I have just enough in savings right now that it *should* be enough to cover the repairs. My sweet dad is giving up still more of his time to help fix it ...

I'm thankful for my car. I'm thankful that it runs -- mostly. I have to admit though ... on the day I can afford a newer car that's reliable and less likely to break down, I may just cry tears of joy. (My dad will probably be even happier than me.) For now, though, I'm awfully glad to have anything. (Seven months without my own functional car was reminder enough that even a beater car is a blessing ... )

* Some sweet people in the ward called today to see if the girls and I would like their tickets to A Christmas Carol at our local theater. (They're the same people who gave us tickets to last year's performance.) This sweet lady told me that she knows I love that kind of thing and that sometimes it is difficult to get to those kind of things when you're a single mom. (She was a single mom for lots of years.) Life wouldn't end if I couldn't occasionally get my theater fix, but it sure is more fun when I can. Having the opportunity to attend one of these shows can brighten my world for months.

We've been so blessed to know some great people who have gone above and beyond the call of neighborly duty. It's always amazing to me to see how truly kind people can be. I can't ever say thank you enough, but I hope that these wonderful souls know how very much they mean to us and how deeply they've impacted our lives.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Seeing Bits of Sunshine

The last couple of days were a bit harried. Not too much that was truly awful -- aside from random moments here and there -- but enough that it will not likely be my favorite few days. The plus side? I'm a pretty cheerful person, and the tough times don't usually get me down ... When they do, it's not usually a lasting experience. Sometimes though, I think we all have times where we struggle to maintain perspective.

Thankfully, today's been one of those days that helps you reset perspective and shift your focus. I'm a fairly social person, and I really cherish the good friends that I've been blessed to have in my life. Between a couple of unexpected emails or texts, and a spur of the moment chat with a close friend, it's been a day filled with good things. In addition, I found out that I passed my Praxis (the content knowledge test that Utah requires you to pass in order to become a teacher) with a fairly high and totally unexpected score. I even had time to get out and run a bit. Sometimes when I'm in a funk, I just need to get out ...

All in all, even though I have my moments where I feel overwhelmed or frustrated, I'm a pretty lucky person with a lot of beautiful blessings to be grateful for. So many things that are good ... Even the tough times are spattered with some beautiful bits of sunshine.

Monday, November 26, 2012

I'm Not Dead Yet ...

Today was the bearer of the third near death experience that I've had in less than a month. (We're talking huge, ugly, painful death ... maybe dismemberment ... Certainly, it would've been a memorable conversation starter in the afterlife.)

Part of me wonders what life is trying to tell me. Part of me wants to curl up in some bubble wrap and hope this phase passes ... quickly. Part of me is just thankful that my poor, ridiculously overworked, guardian angels have not given up on providing me with a long and healthy life.

While I could do without the adrenaline rush that comes from these exciting moments, and while these surprises are not a habit I'd like to build, I am grateful for God's hand keeping me safe. I'm grateful for the reminders that life is a gift and worth treasuring. And, I'm grateful that today I was able to hug my kids and come home to them after class.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Blah ...

Ever have one of those days where you just feel kind of blah? Yup, it's one of those.

There's been a lot going on in my life lately, but most of it has fallen into enough of a routine that it doesn't feel like much is going on. It's all pretty normal now. There's a part of me that keeps feeling like I'm missing something, like I should be doing more ... but I'm not sure what or in what area of my life. Part of me is longing for a challenge (when I say challenge, I don't mean trial; rather, an opportunity for growth.) Part of me knows that challenges in my world are never small and is snuggling into the mundane and hoping life will just keep rolling merrily along.

Today's one of those silly days where those two portions of my brain -- the daredevil, challenge seeking fiend and the calm, collected, thank-the-heavens-for-a-patch-of-peace munchkin -- have both decided that they want something different. I'm left longing for who knows what and feeling ridiculously unsatisfied. It's been an up and down sort of day. You know, the kind where you just want to sit down and have a good cry? Even if you're not sure what you want to have a good cry about ...

Earlier today, I read this quote:

I learned that patience was far more than simply waiting for something to happen--- patience required actively working toward worthwhile goals and not getting discouraged when results didn't appear instantly or without effort.
There is an important concept here: patience is not passive resignation, nor is it failing to act because of our fears. Patience means active waiting and enduring. It means staying with something and doing all that we can--- working, hoping, and exercising faith: bearing hardship with fortitude, even when the desires of our hearts are delayed." (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Ensign, May 2010, 57) 
This is one of those quotes that has helped me through a lot of tough times. Usually, when I read it, I have a pretty clear idea of where and how it fits my life at the time. Ideas will come to mind of how I can apply it to specific situations. Today? Not so much.

It's not that I don't need to practice patience today. Today, more than most days, it seems fitting. The problem is, I'm just not sure what goals to apply it to (in all fairness, perhaps it's time to sit down and reevaluate my personal goals, my progress, and if I need to be setting new ones ... ) or what to keep working toward.

My schooling? Well, that's a given. I'm not quitting this close to the end.

Dating? Meh ... M wants me to go online for that again. Part of me thinks it would be fun; part of me keeps getting the little voice that says "wait." I've learned to trust that little voice ...

Work? Again ... not much to think about there. Until the end of the school year, I'm exactly where I need to be.

Volunteering? Maybe ... but there are already several ways this is fitting in my life.

Who knows? Perhaps today's active waiting, enduring, working, hoping, and exercising faith is simply to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Perhaps it simply means having a good cry if I must and then dusting myself off for the next go-round. Perhaps it means learning to smile through the mundane and be grateful for the respite. And, perhaps it simply means recognizing that it's okay to long for something unknown and to trust that God knows what that unknown is. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

I'm Just Me, and Finally, That's Enough ...

About a year ago, I wrote this post: Things I Regret

One of the things I spoke of was not being enough. As I reread that post, I realized that my perspective has changed. While I may not always be all that I want to be, I'm working toward that, and it's enough. Not only that, but what I am now is of no less value simply because I am not yet all that I'll be. The person that I am now is still of great worth and worthy of being loved and accepted for just what I am.

Today, I was reading through some old posts on my other blog and came across this one: Dear Learning Opportunity,

I realized (again) that this letter sums up what is, in large part, the defining period of my life. It is something I wrote about the experiences that have led me to be completely comfortable in my own skin. Who knows if I'd have ever gained this level of confidence and contentment if I hadn't gone through some of those defining life experiences? Because of this, I'd like to post that letter here. If nothing else, it's good for me to be reminded every now and then of my own refiner's fire and the beauty that can come from trials ...

Dear Learning Opportunity,

Before I say anything else, I need to tell you... It's okay. I can look back on the way that you impacted my life and be grateful for it. You hurt me in ways that I didn't know I could be hurt. There were times that life felt more like a hell than a heaven on earth. I didn't know before your appearance in my life just how low life could be. Thankfully though, that's not all that I took from our interactions.

Because of you, I learned a whole new set of skills that I would never have developed. I learned frugality on a level that I had never known I was capable of. As a single mother, these skills have stood me in good stead.

I have almost always been very close to the Lord. However, just as I didn't know how bad things could be, I also didn't know just how completely dependent on Him I could be. You knocked my feet out from under me. My faith and my testimony had to be rebuilt from the ground up. The pain that surrounded those times obscured the things that would take my focus off of my Savior. The bad things made His light shine all the brighter in my life.

I learned the power of prayer. I learned that although Heavenly Father might not always say yes, He would ease my burdens and show me the good things that were lurking in the shadows of the unpleasant. I learned how to make the good times count.

I have watched my children grow strong, not in spite of the trials that we have faced, but BECAUSE of them. They are my heroes.

The pain that I felt has helped me to see that there may be times when no one else will look for the good in me, but that it is there and I need to be happy with it. I have gained a confidence that I could not have had without these experiences. I am okay and what I have to offer the world and those I interact with is very much good enough.

I have learned to evaluate my priorities. Sometimes they need to change. Sometimes, even though all the world might say that they are wrong, my priorities need to remain the same. It's okay to develop my talents. They may not be the ones that you thought were most important for me to have, but they are the ones that my Heavenly Father felt it was most important for me to have.

I have learned that I won't spend my life being the square peg that is being rammed into the round hole over and over in the hopes that it will magically fit. I am what I am, and that is just fine. Those who know me can love me (nice to meet you, glad to call you friend....) or not. It doesn't mean that my personal value is any less.

So, once again... It's okay. I'm a better person for having known you.



Long ago ...

I had a little blog called Mislaid Musings and Random Ramblings. It was a place for me to record the more mundane details of our lives, including humorous little quirks and conversations. After a while, it sort of fell by the wayside. I made the blog private and quit using it much. For whatever reason, during the last couple of days, I've realized that I miss having a blog dedicated to that sort of thing. So I reopened my Mislaid Musings ... No guarantees about how often I'll post there, but if you'd like, pop in for a visit now and then.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thinking, thanking, and feeling His love,
This day, I give thanks to my Father above.

'Tis a small thing to do, to pause and reflect,
To honor His gifts, and to pay Him respect

For the glorious goodness and joy in my life,
For the blessings of peace found midst the strife.

In the blessings of trial, I'm led by His hand,
Stretching, o'ercoming, and learning to stand.

I'm only one person, and my voice is so small,
But He hears me, He knows me, He lifts when I fall.

So much that's beautiful, He's given to me
And so, on this day of Thanksgiving, I see

My life would be smaller and empty and still
If God had not given His blessings to fill

My heart and my hands and the hours of each day.
And so I give thanks on this most special day.

(Jaymie Reynolds, November 22, 2012)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

As a child, the music was one of my favorite things about church. My dad and mom always sang. Often, my dad's dad sat with us and sang as well. I was surrounded not just by the melody, but by the harmony as well. It didn't take me long to realize that this family of mine didn't look at the hymn book while they sang. They all knew all the words. Not only that, but they knew both the melody and at least one other part for every hymn we sang. It also didn't take me long to realize that I always used the book. Hmm ...

Because, as a child, I was a bit competitive by nature, I decided that I would learn to sing the hymns by heart as well. Over the years, I learned the soprano, alto, and sometimes even the tenor part to most of the commonly sung hymns. To this day, I rarely use a book, and then, it's often so that my children will sing with me.

Lately, I've come to realize that this foundation of singing has been an enormous blessing in my life. Not only do I always have a multitude of songs that match every mood, but I've found that often, the Lord teaches me through that reserve.

There are times that I'll find myself singing without realizing what I'm singing. I'm learning to pay attention to these songs in my heart. Almost invariably, whatever song is running through my head is talking about something that I need to be reminded of. As I'm learning to pay attention when my heart starts to sing, I'm learning to slow down and notice other things that tie into those songs as well. I'm finding that when I take the time to listen to the music, I'm less likely to react in haste. I'm more likely to have a happy place handy when the kids are bickering. And, I'm more likely to try to see the big picture before I make a judgement or take action.

It's a process, and I've still got a lot to learn, but today, I'm thankful for a legacy of music, both within my church and within my family.   

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Feeling Thankful For ...

* an amazing life.
* beautiful children who brighten my heart and the world around them.
* snow, snow, snow!
* a college education.
* opportunities to observe a really talented English teacher.
* a functional car. (For all its crazy quirks and loud noises, it runs. Going seven months without it has given me a whole, new appreciation for it.)
* hot cocoa.
* ghostie marshmallows for the cocoa.
* cozy blankets and good books.
* my computer.
* Christmas music. (I don't mean the same 10 songs they play over and over on the radio -- you know, the ones where they change the artist and that justifies playing it for the twelfth time in two hours.) I mean real Christmas -- the kind that makes you think and brings a special feeling into your heart.
* good friends.
* sweet kindnesses -- both known and anonymous.
* warm sweaters.
* hair dye and scissors.
* toothbrushes.
* makeup.
* lotion.
* a terrific family -- immediate and extended.
* opportunities to help others.
* a kind neighbor who likes to shovel snow.
* music.
* growing opportunities.
* scriptures.
* prayer.
* Sundays.
* church.
* opportunities to teach.
* smiles.
* exercise.
* hope.
* overwhelming joy.
* electricity.
* indoor plumbing.
* decongestants. :)
* Thanksgiving.
* living where I do.
* a park where they plow the snow from the walking track. Hooray for still being able to walk or run this winter!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A Child's Prayer ...

When we say family prayers at bedtime, it's pretty easy to predict how it will go. L thinks very, very deeply about the things she'd like to talk to God about. Her prayers are long and involved and very sincere. While M's prayers are no less sincere, she tends to be much briefer. If she actually takes the time to mention it out loud, then odds are that it's pretty high on her list of important things.

A few nights ago, as M was winding up a pretty standard prayer, she paused, took a quick breath, and said, "Oh, yeah ... and can you please send us some extra money? Things are pretty tight around here."

(In the vein of maintaining a reverent attitude, I refrained from laughing during her prayer. In an effort to not belittle her thoughts, I didn't even laugh after her prayer ... until she went to bed. Then I snickered to my heart's content -- for a few days.)

It's one of those things I meant to write down, really I did. But -- as I believe I may have mentioned once or twice -- I have a very selective, sieve-like memory. While I remembered the incident, I sort of forgot the documentation ... 'Cause I'm good like that. Strangely enough, I didn't even think to tell anyone how funny it was.

Today, I opened my mailbox to find a plain envelope with my name and address typed on the front. There was no other identifying information on the envelope. As I opened my mail, I realized that this particular piece of mail held a gift card. I saw that the card was to a local gas station. Some sweet, kind person bought me a lovely tank of gas.

This might not seem exciting to some people, but with travel for school and custody exchanges, my monthly fuel bill is a bit daunting sometimes. We don't go very many extra places simply because there usually isn't the extra money to cover the extra gas. Luckily we live in an area where there are lots of parks, a library, etc. to walk to. We're also blessed to have good friends nearby, but I digress ... At any rate, as I was getting ready to drive an hour to get to my class tonight, thinking about my empty tank of gas, and watching gas prices increasing again, it was like a little bit of heaven to find that little card in my mail.

It didn't dawn on me until a bit later that, not only was this little card a reminder of God's blessings in my own life, it was also a direct answer to my sweet 10 year old's prayer. I'm so grateful for the kindness of others. Life is so busy. It's always overwhelming to me when others find time to remember my children and me when I'm sure they have so much on their own plate. I don't know who sent that gas card, but I do know how their kindness blessed our family. For their generosity, my burdens are lighter today, and a little girl can see a visible reminder that God hears her when she speaks.