Friday, August 12, 2011

Finding Joy: Turning 40

Today is one that I have been dreading for a while now.  Yes, its my 40th birthday.  Happy birthday to me.  UGH!  for the past 6 months any mention of my birthday or its accompanying age has almost put me into a panic attack.  We are talking spikes in blood pressure, racing heart and shallow, labored breathing.  But really, it shouldn't be a big deal.  Should it?  So, I'm 40.  Roughly half my life is over.  Kind of a depressing thought.  Another depressing thought is that the half that's gone could be the best half.  No, I don't really believe that.  I think today is just making me think about making the most of the next 40 years.

I can't complain about life to this point.  Its had its ups and downs and a few curve balls thrown in just to keep me on my toes.  I've been blessed with 7 fabulous children in 13 1/2 years.  I know some people think I'm nuts, but I can testify that true happiness is found in family.  Its where all the good and bad happen and where we are prepared for life in the real world.  I wouldn't have that part of my life any other way.

I'm also married to an amazing guy.  He's a little rough around the edges, but he's kind, hard working and a great dad.  He has provided our family with a comfortable home and helped give us a good life.  I'm looking forward to growing old with him.

I guess I'm just trying to figure out why turning 40 is so hard for me.  I should be thrilled.  I'm in good health, surrounded by people that I adore, I have good friends.  I should be, and I'm trying to, look forward to what life will give me next.  In a few years, my kids will begin leaving home and heading to college and on LDS missions and then starting families of their own.  I'm getting to a point where all the things I postponed in order to have a large family will be possible.  One of the first things on my list is culinary school.  I'll never run or even cook in a restaurant, but I love to cook and I'm eager to learn the science and technique behind it.  And education is NEVER wasted.

 I also want to travel.  Spain and Italy are on the top of my list, closely followed by the Philippines and Thailand.  Israel, Vietnam and India are thrown in the mix too.  It won't be too many more years before its possible for me to pick up and go whenever I want.  I want to take in the culture, both similarities and differences, broaden my horizons and see what life is like outside of my sheltered little community.

Charity work will be high on my to do list over the next few years and as my children get older.  I've been blessed with so much in comparison to others around the world that I feel very strongly about giving back.  A favorite church hymn is a great example of how I try (and sometimes fail) to live my life.  It says:

Because I have been given much, I too must give;
Because of Thy great bounty, Lord, each day I live;
I shall divide my gifts from thee
With every brother that I see
Who has the need of help from me.

Because I have been sheltered, fed by Thy good care.
I cannot see another's lack and I not share
My glowing fire, my loaf of bread,
My roof's safe shelter overhead,
That he too may be comforted.

Because I have been blessed by Thy great love, dear Lord, 
I'll share that love again according to Thy word.
I shall give love to those in need;
I'll show that love by word and deed;
Thus shall my thanks be thanks indeed.

I believe that if everyone live their lives with gratitude and a desire to give back to those who are less fortunate the world would be a better place.  One of my goals is to try to make my corner of the world better.  I doubt I'll make any grand difference, but I'm satisfied with small and somewhat significant. Scriptures say: By small and simple things are great things brought to pass.  Alma 37:6.  I'll keep that in mind as I go about trying to do good.

Last, but not least, on my list of things to do/improve would be spiritual improvement.  I believe that when we give our will over to God, he will make much more of our lives that we ever could on our own.  I haven't been very good at that.  I'm selfish by nature. (Aren't we all, welcome to being a member of the human race.)  I want to know the end from the beginning and its hard to live on faith.  I'm going to work on growing closer to God, having more faith in Christ and letting the Holy Spirit guide me to where I need to go.  What better way is there to make sure the next 40 years are full and meaningful to myself and those around me.

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