Monday, May 21, 2018

After...

"Happily Ever After"...

Have you ever wondered what happens after the characters in the fairy-tale romances ride off into the sunset for their "Happily Ever After"?  Do all the moments after that epic climax stay perfect in the rosy-glow of sunset? How do our fairy-tale heroes and heroines handle the bumps in the road of everyday life? And do they truly stay "Happily Ever After"?



Thirty years ago, Kevin and I took our first steps into our own "Happily Ever After". Our wedding day was everything I ever dreamed it would be. It was as perfect a day as I wished for.

Two days later, we packed up my life and drove off into our own sunset. Then reality happened...

I immediately had to find a job. Kevin was in his last year of college. We had to learn how to be happily married, and then I unexpectedly got pregnant. (We were actually trying NOT to get pregnant) We were adjusting to that new dynamic when I miscarried (the first of 10). We were newlyweds and now we had to learn how to go through grief and sorrow together. 

Thirty years ago....and yet it seems like yesterday. When we got engaged, I remember thinking "Wow, when we've been married 20 years I'll be 45...and 55 on our 30th anniversary!" It seemed so far in the distant future. Yet, here we are...

Over the last 30 years we've gone through some hard things. We've had some crazy adventures and laughed a lot. We've had some more grief and sorrow and helped each other weather every storm. When I reflect on the 30 years of our marriage, the golden thread running through the picture in my mind is love. Love for each other, love for our Heavenly Father, and love for the family He helped us make. That love and our partnership with our Heavenly Father have been the glue that kept us strong and kept us together. That and a really whacky sense of humor. 

When Kevin told his parents that he was going to ask me to marry him, after his dad quit laughing; he said, "Well, you'll never be bored!!!" Kevin would tell you that his dad was right, and he never has been bored. That's the benefit of having a really warped sense of humor and an ability to laugh at your own foibles.




Alan Jackson wrote a song entitled "Remember When...". It has become "our song". 

"Remember when 30 seemed so old? Now looking back, it's just a stepping stone - from where we are, where we've been, swore we'd do it all again...remember when?

Remember when we said when we turned grey, when the children grow up and move away; we won't be sad, we'll be glad for all the life we've had...and we'll remember when..."

Kevin and I both have said that we'd do it all again...all of it....

I guess that kind of answers my original question - do they stay "Happily Ever After?". 

Living our lives with the love of our lives IS our "Happily Ever After" because the hard things are bearable when you share them with your sweetheart and help each other through them. Conversely, the good and happy things are exponentially better and happier because you have someone with whom you can share the joy. 




So, Kevin...on the 30th Anniversary of OUR "Happily Ever After", here's to us and an eternity of more happiness-ever-after!  I would still say "yes", and would do it all again if it meant that I got to spend my life with you.

Happy Anniversary, my handsome-Prince!  I love you more!




                                       

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Happy Mother's Day

To my grown-up daughters;

This Mother's Day, I wanted to dedicate this post to you because you're the reason I get to celebrate this weekend. 

To my Mandy;

You made me a Mommy!  Oh what fun we had as we both began this mommy-daughter adventure!  You were my little-bitty-buddy. We did everything together. You gave me the gift of seeing the world through a child's eyes again. Oh, how I loved getting to be your mommy!


Much too quickly, you changed from my baby into a lovely young woman. Oh how I loved being your mom - every step of the way! What great friends we've become!  How I love the relationship we're developing. I love our theater/movie-dates. I love that we can  and do talk about everything. I am grateful that you trust me enough to talk to me about so many things. I'm blessed to count you among my dearest friends!!!


To my Jackie;

You were my unexpected blessing!  When we started the adoption process the second time, we thought you'd be a baby...and a boy!!  What a delightful surprise we had when we realized that we were going to add you to our little family!  How amazing that you fit into your spot in our family so seamlessly!  Right from the start, you wound your way around the hearts of every family member. I'll never forget watching Bonpa see you for the first time. I swear I heard his big ol' heart fall 'SPLAT!!!', right at your feet!!!


As it was with your sister, you grew up way too fast!  But what fun we had, you and I!  How many driving-adventures have we had? Silly times, funny times - times when we scared each other-silly! How grateful I am for your fun and funny personality. I have loved the times I got to be around you and your friends. Y'all never failed to make me laugh. How grateful I am for your creative-artist's-soul. You taught me to see the world through different eyes. You see the world through an artist's eyes and have taught me to look at things on a deeper level. Thank you for that. I love our relationship. I am grateful to be your mom and your friend. You...my unexpected blessing.



To both of you;

One of my favorite songs describes how I feel about being the mom to two such wonderful daughters...

"In my daughters' eyes, everyone is equal. Darkness turns to light and my world is at peace. These miracles God gave to me, give me strength when I am weak. I find reason to believe, in my daughters' eyes.

In my daughters' eyes, I can see the future. A reflection of who I am and what will be. And though they'll grow and someday leave, maybe raise families, when I'm gone I hope you'll see how happy they made me; for I'll be there...in my daughters' eyes." (paraphrased from Martina McBride's song)

Getting to be your mom has been one of the greatest gifts of my life. So on this Mother's Day, I thank you for giving me the gift of motherhood. I love you both with all my heart - I always will.


Happy Mother's Day!


Monday, April 9, 2018

Saying good-bye...

...and letting go...


This Saturday, April 7, 2018, we celebrated the life of my sister-in-law, Debra Lynn Barbezat. Debra was married to my brother, Marc Barbezat for 15 years, but they had a friendship of over 23 years. She passed away due to complications from Parkinson's Disease. It was hard to see her go since she was so young - only 64 years-old.

Her memorial was lovely - full of flowers, friends, family, and loving memories. This is our Debra:







"Well, it's hard to say good bye and let go
And it's hard to see it end
When the mem'ries we've just made
May never happen again.
But it's harder for time to ever erase
The together times we've shared.
So, when we're apart remember
All the love we shared together

And for all that love,
Thank the Lord above
Who showed us the way
That we can be together, forever someday"

*Michael McClean - 'Together, Forever, Someday'*

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Seeing me...

The other day, I was shopping online for a new swim suit. Amanda was helping me because I tend to stick with the same (boring - according to my girls...lol) style. 



As we shopped, Mandy would point out suits that she thought I'd look good in. Frequently, I had to say, "No, that wouldn't work." When she asked why not, I had to explain that there are parts of my anatomy that don't fit certain kinds of suits; due to my large size tummy.

After about five or more times of having this conversation, I thought she was maybe getting frustrated with me; so I apologized for repeating myself. At that point, Amanda said something that was profound and immensely touching. She said, "Mom, I'm sorry. When I look at you, I don't see those things. I just see YOU!!" WOW!

The only other person who has truly seen me this way - into my heart - through my soul; is Kevin. I thought him loving me this way was a precious gift. Certainly one I'm not at all sure I have earned.

Now, I see that I have been given this gift twice. I can't think of one thing I've done in this life to deserve such an amazing blessing. Maybe I was REALLY good in the pre-existence. All I know is that I am grateful beyond my ability to express.

So, thank you, Amanda - even though those words seem inadequate to express what is overflowing in my heart right now. I want you to know that I "see" you, too.



I love you!

Love, Mom


Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Thankful

Today I am thankful. Well, to be honest, I try to live everyday with a thankful heart.  But today I am especially thankful.

I'm getting over bronchitis, and today I feel more like myself than I have in a week. So...thankful.

I was able to get over and visit a friend for an hour or so. She always lifts my spirits. So...thankful.

I did some service for a family member. So...thankful.

Last night, the Prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints President Thomas S. Monson, passed away. He has been an Apostle in full-time service of the Church for 54 years. He was 36 at the time of his initial call to the Apostleship. That is a wonderful legacy of service to God and his fellowmen. President Monson was a great example of humble, Christ-like living. So...thankful.



The organization of the leadership of the LDS Church follows the patterns dictated by Heavenly Father. There is no campaigning to become Prophet. There is no voting or popularity contest. Heavenly Father has set His Church in order and we follow His plan. The most senior Apostle steps up to fill the place of the Prophet and is ordained by the Quorum of the 12 Apostles - just as it was when Jesus established His Church when He was on the earth. The continuity and dignity of the succession of modern day prophets increases my testimony that Heavenly Father leads His Church through the Priesthood Keys held and utilized by His Ordained leaders. So...thankful.

There is peace in my heart, even as I mourn the passing of a great, but humble servant of God. Peace that comes from knowing - absolutely, without a doubt, that this life is NOT the end. That this beloved, kind, gentle man is now reunited with his sweetheart, Francis, and the Savior whom he served so well. This knowledge gives me peace and hope.  So...thankful.



Today I am thankful - especially thankful for a loving Father who provides the means, tools, and path for us to make our way home to Him. Today I am thankful...

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Out with the old...

Ring in the New!!!

In April of 2011 I was preparing for major facial reconstruction surgery the following month. Basically, the doctors were going to restructure the bones in my face and jaws to allow better air-flow so I wouldn't stop breathing when I slept. Eventually, they decided to do 11 separate procedures in one surgery. To say I was scared would be an understatement.

That April I was listening to General Conference when I heard a talk about "becoming a Saint through the Atonement of Christ". Elder Kent F. Richards spoke of being a surgeon and the part that pain plays in the treatment and healing of physical injuries. Then he tied that to the part pain plays in our spiritual growth and repentance. His talk spoke directly to my fears about this surgery. I knew that the bones in my face would be deliberately broken, moved, and reset. I knew that soft tissue inside my mouth would be reshaped and changed surgically. Most of all I knew that all of these things would cause me great pain.  Elder Richard's talk gave me a lifeline. It reminded me that Jesus Christ had already walked this path of pain for me. It gave me something to hang on to during the long, dark hours I spent in the ICU - often in excruciating pain. I learned that if I was willing to allow Him in, Jesus Christ could sustain me in my trials - and that I would become better acquainted with Him because of it. I learned first hand, to "lean on Him". I felt His peace and comfort throughout that whole ordeal. When I initially heard Elder Richard's talk, I felt Heavenly Father asking me if I was willing to endure the pain that was coming my way so that I could become better acquainted with my Savior and become more like Him. Of course my answer was yes.

Little did I know that taking such a leap of faith would lead to so many other lessons in my life. I thought that accepting the challenge to become better acquainted with my Savior applied only to this particular event in my life. Silly me!  Since then I've discovered that this event was just me opening the door and allowing Father to test and try me to a level of faith I've never dreamed of. I learned that He wants my surrender. He wants me to willingly and cheerfully submit my will to His.

In the last six years, I've had life lessons I never imagined in my wildest dreams or nightmares. I've had physical challenges, health challenges, parental challenges, and many more. I've seen family members suffer similar experiences and much worse. I've cared for family members with dementia, and others with mental illnesses I would not wish on anyone. Through all these experiences, I have drawn strength and faith from my Savior, Jesus Christ. There have been nights when all I could do was lay my burdens at His feet and beg for a modicum of peace to carry me through the next day. EVERY time, He took my burdens and gave me peace.

The year 2017 has not been without these same trials. However, I can say that I have been tutored at the feet of the Master. I can say that only through Him have I been able to endure these challenges in my life. I am so grateful for a Father-in-Heaven who loves me enough to take me by the hand and teach me through my life experiences, how to be the daughter of God He wants me to be. I wouldn't go seeking these trials and tests (who would???); but when they come, I know from "whence cometh my strength". 

So as we ring out the old...I do so with a grateful and humble heart. I am looking forward to ringing in the new with happy anticipation and  hope for joy, peace, and love for myself and all of you.  

Happy New Year!!!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Peace on Earth...

...or even just in my heart...

I'm sitting here in my cozy, warm house. The washer is running, I'm almost done unloading the dish washer (I'm taking a break), the lights twinkle on my Christmas tree, and Christmas Carols are playing in the background. Outside the wind is howling as it sweeps in ahead of a winter storm that's forecast to bring snow. There is satisfaction from the work I'm doing for my family, and peace in my heart.

I was pondering this feeling I've had in my heart all day. Serenity, peace, call it what you will. It's not as if there's no struggle or strife in my life. I've learned that "hard things" are part of this mortal experience. But how, in the midst of turmoil, is it possible that I'm feeling so calm and at peace?

Part of it is this Christmas Season. However, for me, it goes deeper - while still having it's foundation in this most wonderful time of the year.  For me, it goes all the way down to why we celebrate Christmas at all. One of my favorite Hymns is "Where Can I Turn For Peace?"  I read the lyrics again today, and it truly says what's in my heart:

"Where can I turn for peace?
Where is my solace
When other sources cease to make me whole?
When with a wounded heart, anger, or malice,
I draw myself apart,
Searching my soul?

Where, when my aching grows,
Where, when I languish,
Where, in my need to know where can I run?
Where is the quiet hand to calm my anguish?
Who, who can understand?
He, only One.

He answers privately,
Reaches my reaching
In my Gethsemane, Savior and Friend.
Gentle the peace He finds for my beseeching.
Constant He is and kind,
Love without end..."

We celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ at Christmas - but why? Because "...God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life..." (John 3:16)

I love the story of the Nativity...the peace and joy of that wonderful night. The humility of the shepherds, the strength and faith of Joseph, the quiet serenity of Mary, and the joy and triumph of the Heavens singing praise. 



But I love what His birth represents.

"He is a quiet invitation
He is hope when hope is gone
He is lasting peace 
and the answer we are seeking.
He is the pathway home..." *Hilary Weeks "He Is"*




Everything I have that matters to me,can be mine because He came to earth - to a stable, in a manger - because He lived and set the example. Because when His time on earth was through, in a way I don't understand, but for which I am eternally grateful - He took upon Himself my 'wounded heart', my sins, my imperfections and paid the price so that I wouldn't have to if I willingly repent and heed His 'quiet invitation' to come unto Him.

So, because of Jesus Christ and His perfect Gospel, I am able to sit here, listening to the hum of the washer and dryer, the sweetness of Christmas music; while the storms of life rage around me; and I can be at peace.

My prayer for each of you this Christmas Season and always, my dearest family and friends; is that you too, can find that peace and solace - that 'love without end'. 

I wish Heavenly Father's blessings on each of you, and wish you all a very Merry Christmas. May you find peace, love, light and joy.

Merry Christmas with all my love,

Netty