Gratitude – Building Faith and Giving Thanks

Some days, I just feel a little deflated. For no reason in particular – sometimes you just have “one of those days”. When this happens (if I manage to catch myself in time before spiralling into being a full-on sourpuss), I like to try and sit back and have a think about some of the things – big or small – that I am happy to have in my life.

Sometimes, I just get a flash of inspiration and think; “I am so grateful for everything”.

Today unfortunately it is the former. I’m finding myself feeling a little underwhelmed with life this morning. I have been blessed with so much goodness in my life, and sometimes I forget to take a minute and give thanks to the Lord who has blessed me with it! So here goes:

GratitudeI’m grateful for bright days in January. I’m sat at my desk next to the living room window, and the sun is streaming inside. You can bet it’ll still be more than a little cold if I were to actually venture outside, but the sunshine is lovely all the same. I’ll not mention the fact that the windows are in desperate need of a good clean!

Looking around the room a little further, I see our two five tier bookcases stacked with lots of good books. Before we bought this house, we took enough to fill a third bookcase to a local thrift shop, yet we still have a house full. Fiction, non-fiction, Bibles, prayer books, devotionals, journals, biographies, parenting books, manuals, music books and even a few home and living magazines. I’m grateful for the love of reading I’ve nurtured from being a little girl, and for my parents (my Mum especially) and a couple of pretty amazing teachers for encouraging me to get lost in a good book. It’s something I hope to pass on to Joshua, and to any other children that come along. His bedroom is already fit to burst with all the books we’ve bought for him, and I love sitting with him and reading through some of his stories. It must be rubbing off – one of his favourite things to do at the moment is to sit down with one of his books and point at various pictures for me to name all the bits and bobs on the pages. It’s lovely to see.

I’m thrilled that Joshua is such a contented, well-adjusted baby (for the most part). He’s always been very good with his sleeping from being about 5 months old, with the odd little wobble here and there. He’s napping at the moment, allowing me to get on with bits of housework, and take a few minutes out to sit at the computer. I think he may be in the middle of transitioning between one and two naps a day as his schedule is becoming a little unpredictable at the moment, but still – he’s never been any trouble. He sleeps solidly for a good 10-11 hours at night, sometimes 12 on a weekend (again, aside from the occasional wobble).

I’m grateful that he hasn’t yet adopted any fussy eating habits. The only thing that he will not eat much of – peas aside – is green vegetables and raw tomatoes. Everything else he practically inhales. It makes meal times so simple – he just has a small portion of whatever Shaun and I are eating. We tried the “traditional” pureed fruit and veg for a couple of weeks when he turned six months, but he wasn’t interested. He wanted what we were having… So we switched to mainly “baby-led” weaning, giving him whatever we were eating and letting him go nuts. I was a little nervous to begin with about him choking, but he was absolutely fine. He loved it, and we’ve not looked back. And – touch wood – so far we’ve not had any food catapulted across the room, or walls redecorated with spaghetti sauce. Fingers crossed this lasts a little further into toddlerhood, I know how fussy little ones can get around this age!

I’m happy to have a husband that can provide so well for our family. When Shaun got his current job in September 2010, it really was such a blessing. We had already agreed that I was staying home with Joshua anyway, but the extra income that this job provided meant we didn’t have to worry after my maternity pay came to an end. We always have enough. With a little frugality, we can even afford to put a little away each month to build up some savings! It may not be a lot to most people, and I know some who would recoil at the thought of not already having a nest egg in the bank, but until now for one reason or another it’s just not been possible for us. Things have been difficult. I feel we’ve turned a corner now, and I feel incredibly blessed for it.

And finally for today, I’m grateful to have been blessed with the desire to live frugally as much as possible. I love bargains, thrifting, re-using, re-purposing, making things last and wearing them out. I’ve not always been this way, but over the last few years (as it has become necessary for me to do so) I’ve started to look at life in a whole new light, and I’ve loved learning all about living simply and well within our financial means. This attitude will follow me to the grave; it’s become such a part of who I am. Even if Shaun one day becomes some multi-millionaire businessman, you can bet you’ll still see me rifling through the racks at my local thrift store, or digging through a bargain bin at the supermarket. It’s who I am. And I love it.

Time to get Joshua from his nap and make a start on lunch. Speak to you all soon.

She Inspires Me

I have this friend.

She’s pretty awesome, and next to my husband I’d say she’s the person I’m closest to.

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately thinking about those around me, and just how blessed I am to have a few very special individuals in my life. Again, next to my husband, she is the first person that comes to mind.

Inspirational friendI’ve known her for five years, but it might as well have been a whole lifetime. I feel as though she’s always been there – lifting me up, helping me along and just generally making life that little bit better. When we first met and were still in that “sounding one another out” stage of friendship – still getting to know what we were both about – I remember having a long conversation with her in the foyer and chapel of our church. I won’t post the details as they’re pretty personal to me (and to her, too, I assume!), but suffice to say that I knew this person had been placed in my life for a reason. Honestly, at that point I had only known her a few weeks and what I told her then I would never have dreamed of saying to anyone else – including those I’d known for years – but somehow I sensed that she’d be receptive. So I tentatively pushed ahead.

After we’d shared a little of our respective journeys through life and certain trials to that point, she turned to me and said, “You know, it isn’t a coincidence that we’re both in this ward at this time. Heavenly Father always knows what we need exactly when we need it“. I remember thinking that she was absolutely right, and it was incredible to me that after all I’d just managed to struggle through (and had been struggling through for years before), here I was joining a new church, getting a whole new perspective on life and meeting someone who was telling me, “Hey, I’ve been there. I hear you. It’s OK”. The way our stories matched up was nothing short of incredible. Mainly little points that I don’t think anyone else would have made that much of a fuss over, but to me it was lots of little “lightbulb moments”, and I felt so many doors open that day. I remember going home and crying with relief that I had finally managed to open up, and I had found someone who could relate. At that point I had a small inkling, but I couldn’t have known just how wonderful a woman she would turn out to be.

As time went on, I found that as well as being a friend, she was a fantastic mentor in the gospel. She was a recently returned missionary when we met, and although I was initially blown away by her knowledge, she has since impressed me in other ways as well. She has taught me so much about how to live the gospel. How to nurture your faith and question without being questioning, about how to accept that we don’t know everything but that we can thrive on what we do know. About how to use your faith as a lifeline if necessary when all else fails and you’re faced with trials that you don’t know if you’ll make it through. She’s also taught me how to deal with heartache with real grace and integrity, and how to develop a servant’s heart.

As the years have passed, I’ve learned more from her as she has continued along the path of life a short way ahead of me – how to be a patient, kind, compassionate wife. How to have the best start in a temple marriage and how to set up a gospel centered, spirit-filled home for your family. How to make it through the heartache of trying to conceive for months on end whilst trying to understand the Lord’s timing through your pain. And then, how to be a wonderful mother to a beautiful little boy, and treasure your time spent with this amazing little spirit entrusted to your care. How to really be there for your friends when they need you.

I wonder sometimes whether she recognises all of these qualities in herself. But I think probably not – she is such a humble, unassuming person that I don’t think she would ever understand for herself the full effect of the example she sets through the way she carries and presents herself. But she really is something special. She is a dedicated, powerful woman of God, committed to her walk with Christ. And it absolutely shows.

I hold this woman very dear to my heart. We have shared many special times together – happy, sad, awkward, and we’ve had a few very sacred moments, too.

She said to me in the temple recently during one of my particularly difficult times, “well, we’re more like sisters anyway, aren’t we?”. We absolutely are. Thank you for saying that. It meant so much to me.

I treasure you as a sister. I love you so much, and I am so blessed to have been on this journey with you thus far! I’ve loved growing with you, laughing with you, sharing with you, and crying with you. I think those times are probably the most precious of all to me – you’ve seen me through some of the most trying times in my life, and I honestly don’t know how I would have coped without you.

It will never be enough, but thank you. You really are such a special, sweet spirit. You inspire me to be more, to do better and to reach higher.

You’re simply wonderful.