Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Blessings

I have a lot of great stories in my life "history" that have to do with the blessings that come from paying tithing. Seriously, it's been true for me that when I pay it money literally shows up from nowhere.

And it's happening again, although this time is less obvious than many of the other times. Every Christmas we are in something of a financial crunch. We live off of student loans, you see, and it is a little difficult to make the money stretch over the whole semester. We do our best, but it isn't always easy, and this year has been harder than last because Joel didn't receive one of the grants he has received in the past. So we don't have much money in our account and are only expecting the very last bit of his stipend to be paid to us tomorrow. After that, we're on our own completely until the middle of January when school starts again and student loans are disbursed for that semester.

Anyway, I've been freaking out a little bit because I'm really not seeing how we can possibly make ends meet with the pile of bills I have sitting in front of me, the vacation we are taking next week and then just plain old living expenses for the next month. But the Lord always comes through for us. On Monday, a friend called me to take her kids for her while she went to a mandatory work meeting. She told me she'd pay me, which is why I did it even though I'm starting to deal with morning sickness. And she paid me much better than I would have expected. Then yesterday, another friend needed me to take her little boy while her husband went into surgery. I knew she was desperate, and being the "girl who cain't say no," I said yes, not expecting anything. When she picked him up, she also had a totally unexpected check for me.

And that's not all...I got a phone call from my insurance the other day notifying me that Chloe's immunizations are not up to date. I was surprised because I am generally pretty good about that, but they were right...she is missing a shot. They told me they will give me a 50 dollar gift card to WalMart if I get the shot by tomorrow (Thursday) and immediately fax the shot records to them. You can bet I made an appointment as soon as I could. I'm assuming they'll send it out pretty quick, and that will help buy groceries. I also received my payment from Simple Scrapbooks this week...I wasn't expecting that layout to be paid for until late January. I'm not sure where I got that date, but the money was a pleasant, and needed, surprise. We also found a receipt that Joel had forgotten to turn in for a while to be reimbursed (he's the ward choir director and had purchased a good amount of music), so the reimbursement check definitely helped pad our account just a little bit more.

Last year, our tithing blessings were a bit more dramatic, coming in the form of a 2,000 dollar check from the scholarship Joel received. They just had a bit of extra money and thought we could use it. Other windfalls include the opportunity to participate in a health study for which we were paid almost 1,000 dollars, a 100 dollar mistake the bank made in our favor (which I spoke to them about but they couldn't locate any record of it so they just said Merry Christmas), a 2,500 retirement fund that Joel had and didn't know about which we were required to cash out at a time when we desperately needed money, and the list goes on.

I am so thankful for these blessings. I know it isn't always so obvious, and I don't really expect it to be so when we find ourselves out of the student world and in a little better situation financially. But it is nice to know that when we make the sacrifice of paying our tithing the Lord really will take care of us, and it will all work out somehow. I know that tithing is a funny commandment that way....it is pretty difficult to keep when you look at it and see how much you could do with that 10% of your income. It is also one of the only commandments that can easily be kept perfectly. In fact, I think that I can't afford NOT to pay my tithing, because when I do, the Lord never fails to take care of the rest.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

This is a test...

This is an actual pregnancy test that I took this morning. It is actually positive. This blog is a test to see who sees it first...to see if anybody out there who loves me actually reads my blog. :)

Just a reminder, family and friends....this blog DOES accept anonymous comments.

I'm due August 12, and we're excited as can be!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Keeping my joy



This is my Christmas Tree. I love it, not only because I think it's beautiful, but because it reminds me to keep my joy.

Let me explain: The Day after Thanksgiving is quite possibly my favorite day of the entire year. I love to get up early and go get all the good deals for my husband and kids. I love that when I come home, Joel has dragged all the Christmas decorations out of storage for me and they are ready to set up, I love that I eat leftover turkey, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie and then turn on the Christmas music and get to work. I am always so happy on this day. It is so much fun to set up the tree and get the house ready for Christmas. I love how excited the girls are as we put up the tree. I love that when the tree was done this year, Chloe said: "It's my Christmas! I made it!"--she was so proud because she helped with it. I love how much Bria's eyes light up as she got to hang most of the ornaments all by herself. I love spending uninterrupted time with Joel and the girls, and most of all, I love how joyful I feel.

This was all particularly meaningful to me this year because just the week before we'd had an Enrichment activity about keeping your joy. We had a wonderful speaker, and I can honestly say that many of the things she said totally changed my perspective. I want nothing more than to keep my joy. Who likes to be without it? I don't know a single person who enjoys being miserable, sad and lonely. And yet, we all find ourselves in that funk sometimes--some of us more than others. But men are that they might have joy...so what can be done, or should be done, about those blue times that we all have?

Now, I can honestly say that generally, I am a very optimistic person. I try very hard to be nice to everyone and to be understanding and non-complaining. And I am usually pretty happy. Sometimes, though, I just lose all of that happy optimism and complain my little heart away, feel sorry for myself and become quite critical of those around me. While sitting in Enrichment listeining to this gal speak to us, I had a little lightbulb moment. She was talking about how keeping our joy all starts in our thoughts and that we need to keep our thoughts optimistic and positive in order to have real joy in our lives. Something about our thoughts become our feelings which become our actions which become our habits which become our character which become our lives. If somewhere along the line we are finding negativity in any of those things, we need to go all the way back to our thoughts to turn it around. In my mind I was thinking, "yeah, yeah. Everybody knows that..." and that's when she said the thing that really changed my own thinking.

"Not all of our thoughts are our own."

Voila! And there it was. I can honestly say that when I am having my most down moments it is because I start listening to those thoughts that are not mine....the ones that say. "you're fat." "you're ugly" "you're not good enough" "you can't do that....you'll never succeed" and so on and so forth, ad nauseum. And because I've been in one of these funks lately, I realized what was happening to me as she talked about it. I am letting the adversary convince me that I am worthless, that nobody likes me and everybody hates me and so I should go eat worms.

Since that day I've been happier. Just realizing who is putting those thoughts into my head has gone a long way towards learning not to listen to them. To tell myself that I really am a pretty great person. I do like myself, and when I can remember all my good traits, and stop worrying so much about how I might not measure up in this area or to that person, I can keep my joy. I can also keep my joy by just being thankful for the here and now that is offered me...there is always an upside to every situation, and I am trying to be more conscious of what they are.

More on that later...for now, I am trying to keep the joy of the Christmas season with me always, and I think I'm doing a pretty good job!