38 Years

I turned 38 this week. I feel old and young at the same time. I have a lot of life left and a whole lot more life experience to learn from and gain. I still look to those who have lived many decades more than I and hope that “when I grow up” I’ll be just like them. Like the super strong ladies in my weight lifting class or those with rock hard cores in my pilates class. I love working out with these ladies in their sixties and seventies. Most move better than me, some have slowed down, but all of them are there every week. I love their friendliness and I love hearing about their lives. I love learning from their life lessons and know that I have much to learn from their example as well as their shared experiences. I look to my grandpa who must have the patient of a saint as he lays, day in and day out, on his bed. Mostly alone. When I get the chance to visit him, he isn’t bitter and angry at the cards life has dealt him, instead he wants to know what is going on in our life. I look to the men and women in our church who hold callings both locally and internationally. Their lives are full of service and compassion, dedication, and faith. They have lived over double the life I have, so when they speak, I listen. They have had a lifetime to learn to listen to the spirit. A lifetime to recognize the consequences of life choices. A lifetime to prove what their foundation is. I want to be like them when I grow up. Many of the brethren in the twelve have lived amazing and even renowned lives. Their academic and secular successes are much to be marveled and emulated, but that is not what they have dedicated the last decades of their lives to. They have left all of that power, even money behind to put the Lord first and to spread His word. I do believe that our Savior, Jesus Christ, is the head of this church. I believe that he visits in spirit and at times in person to the men in the Presidency and the twelve. When Elder Holland came to speak to us in Houston, the spirit resonated in my soul. He told us with passion and an undeniable force that He is a special witness of Jesus Christ. He was deeply wounded by those who claimed he was a fraud or wasting his time. Surely he would not give up all that he has on a daily basis to give the last years of his life to serving others and spreading truth. Would it not be so much easier to sit at home with his dear wife before she passed? To spend his time visiting the world as a tourist, rather than with a great work to do? I am grateful for his service as well as all of the men of the twelve. I have met a few of them and each time the feeling I got from them wasn’t power or even charisma, but it was love, knowledge, compassion. I want to be like them when I grow up.

I feel old because I have had a decent amount of life challenges in the past… well I was going to say decade, but when you face the loss of a sibling at seven, it changes and challenges you. The death of my brother brought questions and angst, but that through diligent and fervent study and prayer my hopes were confirmed with faith. I would see my brother again. It saved me from making big mistakes in my adolescent and also brought me back when I found myself distant from the spirit. The hope and the answers that I have received of the promise of an eternal family have been a foundation of faith that has led me as I had other questions arise in the gospel. Instead of looking to prove the naysayers (even when the naysayer was me) right, I went to my foundation. “I know this is true, so explain to me, Lord, how does this question that is bothering me work in the eternal scheme of things?” I could and have explained the answers I’ve gotten to challengers of my faith and the experience I have had is that they haven’t done the work like myself, and that these are things they have to learn for themselves through the spirit in order to know what I know. I still have questions, but through this pattern of questioning, studying, praying, I have built a scaffold that has molded my faith and testimony in these essential things: I know without a doubt the Jesus is my savior. He has carried me through some very dark times, I have felt his forgiveness in times where I allowed temptation to win, I have felt his healing- spiritually, physically, and mentally. He has enabled me to overcome some very dark thought patterns that were taking me from a life of happiness and peace. He has restored peace to my soul when no answers were in sight. Admittedly some of my answers to questions are, “You’re not ready for that answer yet, keep studying,” but they were always accompanied with peace that some day I would know. Despite all I have learned and what I have come to know with conviction, one thing I have learned from those who have gone before is that I’m not done learning, growing, and changing. God has given me a lifetime because that is what it will take to become the creature he wants me to be.

To celebrate my 38th birthday I told Andy I didn’t want any physical presents, instead I wanted a weekend away. Little did he (or honestly I) know it was the pricier option, but it was so worth it. We haven’t had many opportunities for just the two of us to get away in our 12 years together. Medical school, military trainings, babies, and residency have kept us in survival mode for quite some time. Andy and I stayed in a historic building, Fulton Lane Inn. Our room was large with a king sized bed and nice accommodations. They served us breakfast in bed (what a treat!) and we were close to everything in downtown Charleston. We started the day off with a movie at an old cinema in North Charleston. It was us and a whole bunch of retired military couples. We joked with them before the movie started and they were great company. We saw the new mission impossible. Once you suspend your disbelief of their barely-made-it stunts, it was quite entertaining, though long.

We went to our Inn, changed and headed to our reservation at “The Establishment.” We started with our first course of scallops and crab “gnudi.” Gnudi, as the waitress described it was kind of like gnocchi without the potato portion, instead they used cheese. It was very tasty and rich. Andy got sword fish for his main course and I got the seafood tagliatelle. Both were delicious, but Andy made the better choice.

We walked back to our Inn, changed and headed back out. We walked through the night market and headed towards the pier where we were supposed to meet for our Ghost tour. We sat and talked and enjoyed the sea air until our Ghost tour started. This is the second ghost tour that I’ve done in Charleston. I picked a different company hoping for different history, but they must really love the same ghosts, because we heard about Lavinia, the murderess that had an inn outside of town that would murder unsuspecting lonely merchants and rob them of their wares. She did it along side her husband John and a few other bottom feeding men, but after murdering a number of people they were caught and she was hanged along with her husband and the bottom feeders. The legend states that she yelled “If you have a message for the devil, let me know it because I’m about to meet him,” before she was hung, but these are all of course, just legends. The evidences are merely that she was arrested and hung for highway robbery, but not convicted of murders, however a lot of legends to have truth to them and they can’t prove that she didn’t murder those men. A new story I hadn’t heard before was about a bride who was poisoned on her way to the alter. Harriet Mackie was only to inherit her father’s money after his death if she were to be married within thirty days. She got right to it, but so did those who were next in line for the inheritance and she found herself poisoned by cyanide right down the aisle of the chapel. Apparently Charleston still has a lot of “old” money. And some of those homes are still occupied by the descendants of some of the more prominent Charleston families.

Saturday morning we slept in as much as I could… I’m too used to my children waking me up, which they did not disappoint. Beverly called me right as I was beginning to wake up at around 7:45 AM. I ignored her first couple of calls because Andy was still sleeping and didn’t want to wake him, but after receiving the text below, I decided I better answer lest she think I didn’t love her.

After talking to the kids before Beverly headed to her first dance class of the season, we got up, ate, and headed out to walk the town. We went to the market again and got a couple of small souvenirs for the kids, and a hand painted magnet for me. We walked all the way down to the end of the pier where I had been probably 31 years before. We were both dripping in sweat, but the architecture was beautiful.

Of course, the kids had a blast with their babysitter, Katie Richards. She is a super responsible recent high school grad and I had no doubt in her abilities to handle and have fun with the kids. She didn’t disappoint! And though I told Andy not to get me any presents, because the trip would be enough, he had the kids each pick out a gift for me. Harvey picked out “me” out a stuffed elephant that has four baby elephants zipped inside. He had me open it, asked me if I liked it then asked if he could have it. I was happy to share my new toy. Maverick got me Zelda legos which we spent some time together building today. I think the gift for me was getting to spend time with my kid. Max got me bath bombs, the thoughtfulness is strong with this one and Beverly got me a mommy daddy and baby elephant figurine that looks lovely in my elephant cabinet. I felt truly touched at the gifts and love my cute little kiddos, but the weekend away was a nice break.

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