mama… and birthdays… and choosing joy

I suppose stuff like birthdays aren’t really a thing where you are now.  But here.  Here it’s still your birthday to those of us thinking about you and missing you and wishing you were with us.  So for old time’s sake, we are all wishing you a Happy Birthday today!  Daddy and the family are celebrating at Dean’s house I think, stopping in as they can, gathering and remembering our sweet mama.  Remembering you full of life and happy and smiles and love.  And you are still full of all those things in your new home, or rather your old home because really, this isn’t our real home, it’s just a stopping station along our eternal path of living…  Here, out west, where the rest of your kiddos and grandkiddos are, we were at Max’s house, celebrating his daughter, Justina’s bridal shower.  And we gathered just before the shower started, feeling lucky to be all together on a day like today, to say a warm “happy birthday” to you!  We each grabbed a cake bite (you would have loved them… you quite enjoyed trying new things like this, especially fun and yummy treats), and I said, “We love you mama, happy birthday!”  And that’s all I could say because the missing you started to fill up my throat and stop the voice that wanted to say “thank you for your wonderful life full of family and happy, and thank you for keeping a close watch on each of us,” and a hundred other things I could thank you for.  But it stopped at “happy birthday” and that will just have to be enough.  Then we all lifted our cake bites, and said “chin chin!” and gobbled them down, in memory of sweet you.

Dessert table with cake bites and donuts!

Dessert table with cake bites and donuts!

And we will remember the happiness that you still fill us all up with.  And even though the grief is setting in on me as type this and the missing you puts fresh tear tracks on my cheeks, I will, today, choose JOY.

We have many friends out on missions, kids the same ages as our kids, and we get to read emails from them each week.  One in particular resonated with me this week.  Our sweet and hilarious Sister Mikala Anderson, serving in New York City, wrote the following:

We are what we choose to be. We feel how we choose to feel. We become what we make ourselves to be. This is a principle of agency. Now, I know I talk about this a lot. But friends, we are what we eat! Now let us all chow down on some positivity and bring some happiness into this world. Yupp, you guessed it – I’m talking about Choosing Joy.

And it made think of you, as many things do these days.  And I realized that she was absolutely right.  Although my grief will be my constant companion now until I see you again in the place to there, I can get through it all just like a lot of people have before me.  And on days like today, when the missing you wants to take over completely, but I don’t really want it to,  I can CHOOSE JOY!  This quote is something you would have found and shared, if I had called you having a hard time with the challenges of life…

“You are one of the noblest of God’s creations. His intent is that your life be gloriously beautiful regardless of your circumstances. As you are grateful and obedient, you can become all that God intends you to be.

Sadness, disappointment, and severe challenges are events in life, not life itself. I do not minimize how hard some of these events are. They can extend over a long period of time, but they should not be allowed to become the confining center of everything you do. The Lord inspired Lehi to declare the fundamental truth, “Men are, that they might have joy.” That is a conditional statement: “they might have joy.” It is not conditional for the Lord. His intent is that each of us finds joy. It will not be conditional for you as you obey the commandments, have faith in the Master, and do the things that are necessary to have joy here on earth.” (Richard G Scott)

Our family laughs a lot, as you know.  And I thought I’d put in this little clip that is a perfect example of the random things we will come up with to make us laugh.  This is at the Max’s today, as we were cleaning up.  Those 36″ balloons though…

Today on your birthday, I wanted to put together a quick little happy slide show.  A collection of random, (very random), happy memories that will make you smile, and hopefully make the rest of us smile too.  Because while we remembered the one year anniversary of your passing just a few weeks ago, and that was hard for us all, and our colors went all wishy washy again in our grieving places… I wanted to make today a happy day.  Pulling out the joy, and making our world right again, and the colors vibrant like I picture them in the place where you are, bringing happy memories and maybe happy tears, but today of all days… CHOOSING JOY.

I found this song not too long ago.  It was you inside and out, at least to me.  Because in church, your favorite place was always Primary, with the children.  And this song pulls in many of the Primary songs that we all grew up singing with you at church and at home.  And I can’t listen to this without thinking of you.  We were a musical family in my growing up years, and a song like this seems a perfect fit.  So I dedicate this song to you mama, with all the joy I can muster, and I love you more than daisies. (and that’s saying A LOT)

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