Thursday, August 25, 2016

Even Painful Days Are Good

To the person who hurt me yesterday.
I will forgive you.
It might take me a little while.  
I'm only human.  I'm not magic.
I can't just snap my fingers and feel all better.  But I will get there.
It's a commandment to forgive.  
It's also a commandment not to go around hurting people--
telling stories that aren't true.
I will forgive you for not having enough integrity to come to me and talk to me yourself.  
I will get over you doing this to me--again.  
I want you to know it hurts,
and if you wanted to be my friend,
you wouldn't have done it.
I will forgive you,
but we can't be friends.
Friends don't do what you did.

To my friend, Joan.
The world lost you to cancer a year and a half ago.
It's not fair.  You're gone.  
You were too young. You understood me.
We laughed a lot.  You were smart and got my jokes.
We liked to talk about words in the dictionary and Shakespeare.
Who does that?  Nerds?  
Well, we did and I miss that.  No one else could ever be you.
You taught me so much, I will always be in your debt.
I'm glad you're not in pain anymore and that you're strong and healthy again. 
But it's not the same without you. 
Tell the angels "hi" for me.
Love you.

To my friend, Angie.
Thank heaven for you.  We've had so much fun!  
You inspire me to work hard, to reach high and work hard to reach any goal, 
How to be happy.
I always feel better after spending time with you.  
Thank you for your testimony, for your love of God and your good example.  
You are a gem and a joy.
Love you.

To my friend, Bonnie.
You're heaven sent. 
Twenty years ago we became friends and it's been a blessing to me every single day.  
Thank you for getting me.  For knowing how to teach me.  
For helping me be a good mother and wife.
For being the example I was missing in my life.
For being the most loyal friend a girl could ever have.  
For taking care of me when I've been sick.
All the Diet Coke runs and lunches of tostadas and chips and salsa.  
But mostly for being the older sister I always wished I had.  
Love to you.

I love you all.  

To my children, Al and Ains.
You are miracles.  
Truly, gifts from God Himself.  
Thank you for your examples of love and courage,
creativity and spunk, intellect and humility,
grace and strength, wisdom and testimony.
It's a privilege to be your mother.  
I have loved every minute of watching you grow.
Every stage has been a pure delight.  
And now you're grown, you are my friends.
It's the best feeling in the world, to enjoy my children so much.  
Love and blessings for you, forever.
You have my heart.
Forever, I will wub you mahups.  

To my love, John.
My champion and my hero.
My best friend.
My favorite person in the whole world.
The man who took a risk by loving a girl who didn't know who she was 
and turned her into a woman with a future and a smile.  
A bright and happy future with a beautiful family.  
There will never be words for what you've done for me 
or to say or show how much I love you.
You are the sand and I am the sea.
You are the earth between my toes and the rock that keeps me standing.  
You make me smile and you make me happy.
You have given me two beautiful children and a life
that I could have never have imagined when I was younger.
I always want to be with you, forever and always.  
I love you.  Always.

To my Savior and Redeemer.
You really did all that for me?  And you have never given up on me?  And never will?  
You suffered for my sins and felt all my pain and sorrow and then you died for me,
just so I could be with you again someday and with my family? 
You paid the price for my mistakes so I could be redeemed? 
Because you love me.
Because you said you would.
Because you kept your promise.
Because you are always true.
I love you.  I need you.  I don't deserve you.
But I lean on you, all the time, and you're probably tired.
I know you're always there for me.
Thank you.  It seems dumb to say thank you, but I'm so grateful.
I hope I know you when I see you.
I want so much to be true to you.  

To my Heavenly Father.
I can't wait for the day I get to see your face and remember who you are.
I want to be good so I know you.
You love me.
Please help me be strong.
Sometimes life is hard, but then again, you already know that.
Thank you for all my blessings.
For all the people in my life who have helped me and even those who have hurt me.
They have all helped me to know you better in one way or another.
I love you.  

Tomorrow will be better.
I just know it will.
My bed will hide me tonight until the sun comes up.
My dog will lick my face, saying "good morning!"
My kids will send me funny Snapchats and my husband will kiss and hold me.
I'll work hard and I'll smile.
It will be a good day.  Even a great day.
Because I'm so blessed and I have everything I need.
What a miracle my life really is.
Even painful days are good,
because I remember what's most important:
My God, my marriage, my family, and my friends.
And it's always a good day
when you see a little more clearly,
and you come to know who is really your friend
and who would never, ever hurt you.
Yes, even the painful days are good.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Wear What Looks Good on You---Not What Everyone Else is Wearing

I think I am one of the few people where I live not wearing the "maxi" skirt.  What does that say about me?  Maybe that I need to move to Italy?  Or at least to New York?  At least I'll take that as a license to exercise use of my passport. What happened to a nice tweed or wool skirt?   With stockings and heels?  It is February.   

Let's talk a little bit about individuality and style and even fashion for that matter.  Have you heard the saying, "Fashion is what you buy, but style is what you do with it?"  It's true.   Anyone can copy anyone else's Pinterest board or go to the mall and buy what is on the mannequin, but what do you do with it when you get home?  Can you only wear that item that one way that you saw illustrated for you?  I hope you don't think that.  It's about knowing who you are, first.  You have to know YOU. 

My little sister called a week ago, saying, "I want to 'become cream', but how do I know what my style is?"  I told her to go on Pinterest and start pinning what she liked, without thinking about it, just to pin what she instinctively was drawn to.  I promised her that she would see a pattern.  I told her that I had been quite entertained after recently setting up my own Pinterest account and going back to see that there was definitely a pattern to what I was pinning.  I am obviously a Seventies child, drawn to the long, flowing fabrics and layers of that era, along with the chunky boots, clogs, hats, bow-tie blouses, and collars.  Interestingly, it has transferred over into everything I buy today.  Even though the things I buy are new and fresh, there are definitely themes from the Seventies that I am attracted to, and I think they work well with my thin, 5-foot-11-inch frame.  Time after time, I buy flare-legged jeans, or at least boot-cut pants, with long and flowing blouses and sweaters.  I love layers--lots and lots of them.  Fall and winter are my favorite seasons where I can wear coats and sweaters and lots of clothes.  I loathe summer where other people strip down to tank tops and shorts.  I like to be covered up.  I love clothes and so I want to wear them. 

The point is, to be your own little self.  We are individuals for a reason.  God didn't make us all look the same.  He is the Creator, the Chief Artist, and He was not using a mold when He made you and me.  And, thankfully, the clothing designers do not make just one kind of clothing.  We are blessed to have an abundance of choices.  So, with all of the creative talent effervescing in design and fashion, why is everyone wearing the same things?  Just because someone starts wearing one trend, why does everyone else have to follow?   It's so un-creative. 

Are we afraid to be different?  I think that's what it really boils down to.  Do you want to get real about this?  Are you afraid that you might be the "weird one" at church or school?  You envy--yes envy--the woman who knows how to do it, and secretly wish to be her, but you talk about her as if she is odd to others, and complain to your friends that she must be loaded with money to afford her closet full of nice clothes.  It's not fair.  You could learn something from that girl.  You could ask her where she shops, or ask her to come over and help you.  She might love to help you.  She might even end up being your friend.  You might even find out she's a lot of fun, and not the selfish spender you think she is.  She just happens to have an artistic flair others don't and she might be able to help you find it in yourself.    The whole key is to get excited about being YOU, and stop looking to copy other people.

My sister started pinning outfits and said, "I guess I'm a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl.  How can you be stylish in jeans and a t-shirt?"  Guess what?  You can!  It's in the details.  In the shoes, in the jacket, in the bag and the cardigan and the accessories that go with the jeans.  I wear jeans every single day.  I just wear mine differently than my sister and she wears hers differently than me, because she's Jane and I'm Gina.  It's supposed to be that way.  Be yourself and wear what looks good on you, not what everybody else is wearing.

Do you have a special necklace your grandmother gave you that you are "saving" for something special?  Wear it now!  Do you have a collection of beautiful scarves?  Wear them!  What do you already own that shows the world that you are special?  You can tie those things into your daily wardrobe.  Maybe you have a few key pieces that you wear every single day.  Maybe a special necklace or watch and maybe you are known for wearing those pieces.  If so, make them your signature pieces.   Maybe you are known for carrying a unique green handbag.  If that's your unique signature, keep it--it's special.  Resist the urge to be like everyone else.  And, when you see everyone else kicking up their heels to follow a new trend, resist and hold out, and instead, start your own.  And if you can't get others to follow you, that's even better. 

Remember the story of the Ugly Duckling?  The poor little duckling was harrassed and belittled because he didn't look like all the other ducks.  He felt badly about himself, wishing that he could look like all his friends so he could fit in with them and better receive their affections.  Even the adult ducks scorned him and shamed him.  When it was discovered that he was not a duck after all and was in fact really a swan, a much more magnificent bird, the reasons for him looking differently were manifest.  Why would he ever have wanted to be an ordinary duck?  He was a glorious swan, the envy of all the lake, but he did not know it because he was too busy trying to fit in with all the ordinary ducks. 

So it is with us also.  We will not ever know we are swans if we are too busy trying to follow all the ducks.  Please have the courage to look in the mirror and in your closet.  Get to know yourself and what you like and what looks good on your body.  Try on all your clothing first and then throw out everything that doesn't flatter you and make you feel beautiful.  Have the strength to resist what the ducks are wearing and be the swan that God intended you to be.  Have grace and withdraw from the fashions that are unattractive and immodest.  Don't participate in any trend that you would not want your daughter or granddaughter to wear in your presence. 

There is beauty and strength that come from within when we have the courage to be the women God designed us to be.  The world would like us to all be the same.  When we are all the same, we keep each other down.  When we keep each other down, no one can succeed.  Where no one can succeed, we all fail.  This is not God's way.  God is the Master Creator.  It is His intention that we be like Him.  We are created in His image and so we are destined to also be creative.  One way we can do this is to be creative in the ways we present ourselves to the world.  Let us show God that we appreciate that He made us all differently when we were in Heaven and thus not try to all look the same now that we are here on the Earth.