I love working with the girls, they make me feel young again, even if they also make me feel old at times, especially when I ask them if they've seen Clueless, and they tell me yes but when we do the math, I know the movie came out before when they were a baby or were still in their mother's wombs. Insane! I am the youngest out of the leaders, so that makes me feel good (hey, you gotta take what you can get - of course, all the other leaders have 2-5 kids and some have teenagers so... kinda puts into perspective where I am in comparison). Anyhow, I digress.
Young Women in Excellence is a program we had where the girls got to present what they had been working on for their personal progress program. Obviously, since I did not grow up in the Church, I never did the program, but when Tammy, my sister-in-law, got called to be the Young Women president a year or so ago, she asked me to join her in trying out some of the requirements for the girls as part of our family goals. It's like she knew I'd eventually be in Young Women or something, but it was a great help, because I was able to learn about the different sections, the different values and activities associated with each. It's a LOT of work. Learn more about it here. Tammy and I catered our attempt for the family goals and cut out a lot of the really time consuming projects, but we still got a really good sense of what they do.
So at the Young Women in Excellence program on Thursday, which was sports themed (the leaders wore matching cute pink shirts and did silly cheers in front of everyone, we tailgated with tons of delicious food, and we had a referee flip a coin between two girls to decide who got to present first), our Young Women president, Maddy, got up to present after all the girls did, because after being called to be president, she, like Tammy, also tried to do some personal progress. She talked about her project which was starting to run, something she had NEVER done before, and was culminating her efforts in an actual registered 5K run this morning.
It made me really emotional to hear about her experience because I remember when I went through my running phase. Unlike her, it wasn't for personal progress, but it was similar. I was trying to do something good for myself, trying to improve and get healthy, had never ever been a runner (nor do I ever want to be again), and was trying to fill up my time with something to do before all my hungover friends woke up and we would party again. What's funny is, it made me realize how grateful I am for all the busy mom and wife family stuff I sometimes can feel stuck doing, because if I think back carefully to that time in my life, I can recall a sense of loneliness and desperation to do something with my life. To do something meaningful, whether it was volunteering, or planning parties, or filling my social calendar with running groups, 5Ks, shopping, brunch, etc. outside of my already busy work schedule. I thrived on doing things, and I always wanted to do something that would fulfill me, yet I kept searching and seeking out things, never really finding what I was looking for... until I found God (it's like that Fray song..).
Never, in a million years, did I ever imagine myself a religious person, a Church goer, or a person of faith beyond the spiritual and good moral person I felt I was before. Never, in a million years, did I think watching my son asleep would fill me with an emotion so tender and sweet, I could cry just thinking about it. Sometimes life catches me off guard. Though I know where I am is an amazing place full of so much to look forward to, so much to take in and enjoy, sometimes I feel burdened with the mindless tasks, the cleaning, the routine, and the duty. But when I take just a brief moment to consider how it was before, I often only think of the fun and very LA and wreckless 20's type of life - the $300 on bottle service for a girlfriend's birthday because I can, the $150 jeans because they make my butt look good, the best brunch and lunch places all over Los Angeles, the dating, the partying, the happy hours, etc. and I forget that that life also was filled with a lot of yearning for more. I'm glad I was able to hear Maddy's story about becoming a runner, because as I was listening to it, it reminded me of my own time as a runner, and how that time wasn't always that great. I remember running into my friend Michelle at a 10K in Santa Monica, and we both remember how we were both trying to find something good to fill with our life and decided to pay and do a run in the morning. Luckily, we both found God and the gospel... and it's just a tender mercy that we both were looking and found it.
This Christmas, I'm grateful for knowing why we celebrate Christmas. I'm grateful for the gift of the Atonement. I'm grateful that I could be forgiven and could come unto God. I'm grateful that the next 5k, if I ever do one, will be with a stroller and at least one of my kids. I'm grateful for a family and friends who are supportive and loving of me even though I'm Mormon now and my standards may be different than theirs. I'm grateful for new friends and new family who have welcomed me and loved me and taught me. I'm grateful for a husband who puts up with my craziness, who understands me, who tries to understand me more, and who loves me for who I am and who I can be. I'm grateful for my past, my present, and my future, and I'm grateful for being reminded by the Spirit that where I am is so dang good. Funny how a simple memory of when I used to run 5Ks can trigger so much. ..
The only recent photo we have of the four of us. ... we need to take more pictures.
typical Andy face and I think he's trying to point to baby #2