Does this ever happen to you? You hesitate to acknowledge something wonderful in your life because it might hurt someone who doesn't have that wonderful something, or might think you boastful? Well.... I've kind of been there recently. But isn't that like not saying "Thank you " for a gift because someone else who got a different gift, didn't get yours? So with that in mind I'm going to share with you my recent happinesses... and theres a bunch!
We had two weddings in 13 days this summer. (Three weddings in 8 months!) Our youngest daughter Kaloni married Kyle Udall on August 10, in the Columbia River Washington LDS Temple, and our only son Layton, married Meredith Mateson on August 23, in the Oakland California LDS Temple. We feel our family has grown in the most wonderful way with a new son and daughter-in-law who feel like our very own.
Let me introduce you to them. With Kyle we added a very "tall dark and handsome, sensitive, thoughtful and funny " version to our collection of son-in-laws. The collection already contained "tall, curly, handsome, handy, helpful and respectful," and "tall, blonde, handsome, courteous, adventurous" models. We are definitely adding height to the Jeff Bird family gene pool.
Meredith, our one and only daughter-in-law is a beauty, with long, thick, dark, curly hair (Bird hair is mostly blonde, and pretty thin) and filled to overflowing with creative talent. She is an artist in nearly every sense, with great ability among others things in "clothing construction and design". She is calm and a good listener. We love each of our new additions and are grateful for the the qualities they bring to our family and hope they will feel loved and appreciated, respected and valued among us. Especially we are grateful for their shared faith in our Savior Jesus Christ and in his atonement. We know that as each one makes him a part of their marriages that forgiveness will become second nature and success and happiness will be assured over time. For that common denominator we are immeasurably grateful.
I will skip over many other personally valued blessings but will mention what a blessing it is to have had the privilege to raise remarkable children and then to experience with renewed appreciation, this time together with Jeff and I alone. Our house is quiet, parts stay cleaner longer and the messes that stay are ones we made and no one is here to complain about them. We have great discussions sometimes and introspective silence others times. My favorite parts are date night which used to be haphazard and irregular for us but have become much more anticipated and adhered to as we treasure time with just the two of us, and the evenings when we have time to read and discuss a good book together.
We are currently reading 3 books depending on the need we have at the moment. I recommend each of them highly to you. One is an old public domain fictional book I had never heard of before called Fanny Herself. It is difficult to describe but well written and thought provoking and sweet somehow. The next is called the Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz. We have too often focused on managing our time in this busy life and missed the fact that managing our energy levels instead, through proper balance of nutrition, activity, social interaction and recovery time could actually help us accomplish more, more effectively and enjoyably than trying to pack every minute to the brim. We are considering ways to more effectively manage our energy by meaningful alterations in our patterns. Lastly is an outstanding book called the Power of Everyday Missionaries, the What and How of Sharing the Gospel, by Clayton M. Christensen. It contains by far the BEST most engaging and workable suggestions for effective gospel sharing I have ever considered, and Jeff and I have already begun to prayerfully apply them. We desire greatly to contribute light and truth to a searching world and to offer to those who cross our path any benefit we may have to add to their life's journey as so many have added to ours.
On my way home from church today, I had not even got out of the parking lot alone in my car, when I received the first of 3 texts in rapid succession. The first from Kaloni doing Family History and wanting dates and information. The next was from Tiahna looking forward to Thanksgiving at home and wanting to suggest a craft activity of some sort. And immediately following, one from Nikelle so tearfully grateful as she watched the Pioneer movie 17 Miracles. Could any parent be more pleased with the Sabbath activities of her children, and that they would in some small form share their activities with their Mother far away? I couldn't and I am so grateful.
It has been a blessed summer......busy and expensive and we are tired, but we are so happy and feel deeply contented. Now we are tying up loose ends in our house, putting the main bathroom back together before moving on to Christmas preparations and autumn interests that we have been looking forward to. Tomorrow I paint, and Tuesday Jeff and a friend will install cabinets. Then we wait (patiently :) ) for our wonderful floor installer, and the countertop to be installed and lastly the plumber. Voila! As all of that depends on the availability of the floor guy, we will see how long it takes, but we are so close to success and appreciate the patience of our kids in our ongoing home improvements, as well as the help of our friends on occasion. I can't help but see a similarity to the personal improvement projects in my life. They never seem to end, are always messy and slow, but it would be disastrous to just stop and decide to be content with "what is". I am capable (and needed to be) so much more than I currently am. I know that. But our Savior knows more perfectly how MUCH more I can be and is constantly directing and expanding the project, and even sometimes exposing how much more improvement is really required than I thought or hoped. I am glad he does not quit or give up on me. I like the results His way much more than mine.
I am working at healing a painful plantar fasciitis in my right foot and hope to also find relief for my tennis elbow, ( in my case, weeding, pruning, cleaning elbow) in my overused right arm. But otherwise am grateful my knee is bothering me much less and we are in blessed good health and enjoy and appreciate each day as companions together. What a gift that has become as we are once again Best (and sometimes it seems ONLY) friends.
What a gift a loving, kind, attentive, worthy and righteous husband and friend is, when you are once again back to the two of you!
We look forward to a visit from my brother Sheldon and his wife Nikki and baby Addison next week. They have never been here before and hope they have a safe and good trip. We would enjoy visits from any of you as well and have PLENTY of room to share with you.... (we may or may not have plenty of functional bathrooms.....:) ) and would try to make a visit our way worth your while.
Much love to you.... I would attach photos, but as I tried a bit at the beginning of this with so much difficulty it nearly prevented me from writing. So I respectfully submit that you use your imagination, or look me up on Facebook and check out the photos that our kids tagged us in from our summers weddings. They were beautiful and fun events and hopefully forever happy memories for our kids. I promise I will eventually get better at this photo attachment thing.
It really is a 'Wonderful Life' we are living.