Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Sample of Family Christmas Pics

End of Year thoughts...

As I sit and type the thoughts that surround the end of this Year, I am reminded of the joys and sorrows, grief and pain, laughter and tears that this year has brought me.

Bare with me please...

My family has been goal oriented since moving up here to NC, four Christmases ago. Will and I have both gone back to school through the University of Phoenix. Will is completing his Bachelor program in General Education, to become a school teacher and I am about done with my A.S. degree. In January, I will begin my Bachelor program for Psychology. We also have made goals to repair our credit, buy a house (asap), and begin again a life that we can be both self-reliant and productive.

At the beginning of this year, we had made headway and bought a new car for the family; a great necessity at the time. Our next step for the summer was to get ourselves into a house.

This did not happen.

My father passed away unexpectedly and in a most horrific fashion. We spent all our meager savings to go to Florida to be with family as we put him to rest. We also helped my mom move out west to be near her children. In the Fall, Will lost his job and miraculously found another, then Christmas was upon us and we were struggling to get excited for it. We had not achieved our goals for the year...and ...

my heart had been broken for many reasons this year.

I did not feel joy. I felt like a sponge trying every which way to feel the spirit of the Season. We went caroling every Monday night and delivered pumpkin bread to friends, we read the Christmas story dozens of times, we decorated our house, we took family pictures this year and sent out Christmas cards. We did all that we thought of to help us feel the Magic of the Season. I was still without joy.

I was missing my family, my dad, my childhood. I was missing the goals achieved for the year, the feeling of self-worth, I was missing all that I expected my life to be. You see, I am a goal-oriented person. I strive to achieve, to improve, to develop. I strive for accomplishment, change, and happiness. I have high expectations for myself and my family. This is my personality type and for the most part, I love it! I know it can be intense at times, overwhelming, and even darn right obnoxious to others and even myself, but, I love my personality. It makes me, well ME! But the down side of having this personality type is that when life does not happen as I expected it to or planned for it too, I can easily get frustrated and impatient. I can even become depressed, anxious, and irritable. I had found that anxiety was once again my old roommate. Having seen the odds of life play out in my father's random and waste less death, anxiety now lives as the odds of every other horrific thing happening to myself or my family, every night in my head. The odds of some random horrific thing happening is now the reality in which I live. 

After the lessons of life this year and at the close of it, I find myself in the latter characteristics of my personality type.

Here is the kicker. I know the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I know I have an unshakable testimony in the Divine power of of my Savior. I know that only through Him and His infinite atonement, I can find pure joy, happiness, and peace; I can find salvation and rest for my soul. I know this without a single shred of doubt.

Why then am I unhappy, frustrated, and down right depressed then?

Because I am Human. I set goals, they were not met. I sit a year later having lost more than my goals and accomplishments. I have lost my father. I have lost the closeness to my family as they are all out west now. I have lost my patients, my energy, my drive. In short, it seems that God has stripped me of my awesome plans, has stripped me of my dreams, has tried my testimony, my patients, my compassion, and my ability to truly love another, and has stretched my own physical ability to feel and give charity. This year He has wrung me out to dry....

...and I am done.

Yet, as I hear the repeated words of my dear sister in my head, I am GOLD refined. I am stronger. I am more resilient, I am more determined, more humble, more capable, more pliable, I am more faithful, more sure of God's love and His plans, and more grateful.

How can one small, weak, human emerge from the refiners fire as Gold? How can one even endure the refiners fire?

Through Gratitude and a humble heart, one can see the miracles and love that help us through the very fire we are put through.Through faith, courage, and knowledge that worldly materials and life goals are things to work for, but God's plan trumps our own if we are willing to give it all up to Him. I vowed many years ago, that I would give up my life to Him if He needed it.

I guess He needs it, and I honor that commitment and honor my covenants that I made with Him. I am not a person to deny the truth that I felt many years ago when I was in dire need of that precious knowledge that He gave me. I cannot deny truth. Nor can I turn my back on a God who has watched over me tirelessly and has blessed me with the life that would bring about the best and most important accomplishment of all...

This year has taught me the most valuable lesson of all so far...

Lasting Joy does not come from earthly accomplishments, material goals, and family relationships. Pure Lasting Joy comes from being stripped of it all and knowing I would never blame, nor turn my back on God. I know that whatever HELL I go through on earth, and I have been a frequent guest there, it is for my experience and for my benefit and it will help me gain supreme eternal joy, eternal peace, and true eternal accomplishment. For giving up my life for Him, saves it in the next life. That is my most important goal and the one I strive to daily, yearly and even hourly. This most important goal is the reason I am here and the reason I allow myself to visit HELL, yet not tarry there. I come out as Gold.

And Gold is the most precious of all materials on earth and is fit for the Kingdom of Heaven.

So, does this knowledge give me joy? Not of the immediate and worldly kind, but of a peaceful kind that even if my life is never the worldly one I wanted, it ultimately actually is because it is building the eternal life I want, as I choose daily to serve Him by serving others, and being where I am needed, and doing as I am needed.  The accomplishments are there, I merely need to see them through God's eyes, not my own. For those accomplishments He sees, are the ones that count.