Tuesday, November 25, 2008

More to be Grateful for

In my attempt to be grateful via the blogosphere, I would like to take the time to express my gratitude to my wife. Aside from being very beautiful in every sense of the word, she has endured a lot with me. I know I frustrate her on a consistent basis, and perhaps another woman would have given up long ago, but I am grateful for her patience and unconditional love toward me.

Marriage is a funny thing. I have had friends over the years who have been to afraid to take the plunge when opportunity presents itself. Reasons for doing so usually are one of the following. They are either (a) concerned the person they are with isn't "the one" or (b) are stuck in an existing relationship and are too afraid to end it. For those who are unsure about whether they have met the right person, take this into account. Do you like being around her/him, is she/he living a good life and what kind of mother/father will she/he be? There is no way to look into a crystal ball and determine whether the person you have married or will marry is the right one. If you are waiting for a sign from the Heavens, it likely won't happen either. Sometimes (this is how it was for me), you have to take a leap of faith. I knew Heather for years prior, but only as an acquaintance. From the time we went on our first date, to the time we decided to get married it was about 2 weeks. We hardly knew each other, but we knew we were doing the right thing. Not because we could see our lives 5-10-20 years forward, but because we both acted on a spiritual impression. The only way something like that will work is through faith. I am thankful Heather had the faith in me to entrust her life to me.

To the other folks who are just drifting along and not happy in a relationship, you can always end it and move on. If you want to find the right person to spend your life with, be the type of person you would want to marry. That can work for good or bad. Once again, you need to have faith and trust that things will happen as they should. The only thing you can change about your situation is YOU. Work on yourself. You will find a capacity for growth and development for the better that will stay with you for your life and beyond. You will crave it like your favorite dish.

I know I went on a bit of a tangent, but I am attempting to make a point here. Had I not had the faith in the unknown over 7 years ago and get married to Heather, I never would have known so much joy. I am grateful for following on an impression and staying committed to that impression. My life has been blessed in so many ways because of my close relationship with my wife. I have learned so many things about myself, and helped me gain a capacity for compassion for others. Adding children to the equation has expounded on that too. I'm a better man because of her, and I hope that she is a better woman because of me. That's what marriage to the right person does for you.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Gratitude for Many Things

This week is Thanksgiving, also known as "Black Friday Eve." The poor holiday gets no respect. The very moment the lights have gone out on our jack-o-lanterns and our children have gorged themselves on their last piece of candy, the retail industry begins flooding the airwaves with Christmas themed commercials in an attempt to cash in on the festivity of the 25th of December. Although Christmas is certainly a bigger deal than Thanksgiving, it has easily overshadowed it.

Thanksgiving is a great time of year to reflect on the blessings we have received, and even though we have a four-day weekend in the works that we all look forward to, this is a significant day to be grateful. In that spirit, I am going to take the time to express gratitude for many things we have received as family in the last year.

Definitely the highlight of all blessings we have received this year is the increase in size to our family. Bryce has been such a sweet addition to our family. He has come a long way from being in the infant ICU at Lutheran Hospital to the large and in charge 5 month-old living in our home today. He is so even tempered, easily pleased and has the cutest laugh. I can't rave enough about the joy of fatherhood, and it gets even better with every new addition to our family. Like many of you who read this, having more children can always be a challenge, but the joy of having kids and the opportunity to be selfless and considerate that being a parent forces you to be is such a blessing. If you don't have children and are capable, please don't be afraid of it. It will bless you in many ways and teach you true joy and happiness.

I am also thankful for financial success. I don't mean to dive too deeply into this, but I am grateful that my parents taught me the value and blessings available to those who pay a full tithe and are generous in our offerings. I took the advice of a former bishop and decided this year to double my fast offering contributions. We have been blessed with funds that would have never would have come our way had we not decided to be generous in this regard.

I am grateful despite economic turmoil, our family is fed, we have a roof over our head that we aren't losing anytime soon, and we have reliable transportation. I heard a quote one time that said, "I complained that I had no shoes, until I met a man that had no feet."

My plan is, and with any luck, to add to this list throughout the week.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Tribute to the Corolla

I would like to take the time to pay tribute, a eulogy if you will, to my dearly departed 1990 Toyota Corolla that I have called my own for the last 9 years. Yesterday the car was donated and towed away from my garage. Even though I am sad to see the car go, I am glad it happened. It couldn't start anymore, the headlight was missing, the stereo was stolen out of the car for the 3rd time, and it was embarrassing to drive this thing around after a while. It was my first car, and my only car for quite some time. Here are some stories I've had with this vehicle.

I found the car in a Rocky Mountain News ad in January 2000, only a couple of months after my return to Colorado from California. The car was purchased with a whopping 75,114 miles on it. I bought it from a retired car salesman who sold cars from his home for people who were too busy to do it on there own. Coincidentally (not ironically), the man who I bought it from lived literally 5 minutes from where I live now off Havana and Iliff for $4200.

I drove this car to Utah a couple of months after I bought it to my mission reunion. I still remember Dylan and I listening to the Beatles while driving down I-70 at 1 am in the middle of Utah.

In September of 2000, myself and a number of close friends went to see Moby at Red Rocks. On my way back out of the parking lot, my car ran out of gas. We were bailed out by a nice guy in a tow truck who happened to carry an extra couple of gallons in his truck. I spent the entire trip home listening to Mike Bonnstetter, Dylan, DANIELLE and Dan Hamblin teased me relentlessly. It was amusing to me, so I did my best Geoff impression from High School. I stopped the car, put it into park and declared, "That's it! I'm walking home!" Mike and Dylan absolutely lost it!

I took this car on my first date with Heather, and a few weeks later when we decided we were going to get married, that decision was made in that car. When we were married in August of the next year, my car was decorated and covered in shaving cream and shoe polish on the windshield indicating "Just Married."

I drove this car all the way through my 5 years of college, in snowy weather, in sunny weather, during the day, in the evening after work. When I finished college, I drove it across town to Aurora while I worked at Horan & McConaty.

The car endured over $3,000 worth of repairs in 9 years of ownership. I had the brakes replaced twice, had the interior dashboard replaced after the car stereo was stolen in 2002 from the parking lot of my apartment. I replaced the muffler twice, the battery twice. I lost the headlight on the passenger side driving from Colorado Springs 4 years ago, and was pulled over a total of 6 times by well meaning police officers who noticed I had a head light out (twice in one night about two years ago). It was our dependable, reliable mode of transportation while the starter, wiring and alternator on the 1998 Corolla went out on in during 2007.

I received a total of two speeding tickets while driving the car. Once while driving home from school clocked at 48 in a 35 about 2 blocks away from my parents house. I was pulled over a second time in Idaho doing 80 in a 55 with Heather in the car on our way back from Rexburg to Provo.

By the time it was said and done, the car had endured neary 95,000 more miles with me driving it. I knew things weren't going well when I started driving it a couple of months ago and after all of it's faithful travels, it started sputtering along, idling terribly, and getting horrible gas mileage. I knew we couldn't keep it going. A week later we bought our minivan. Even though I am glad to not be driving the car anymore, a small part of me rode out on that tow truck yesterday as I donated it to Radio 1190. Nearly a third of my life was spent in that car and with all the problems I had with it, it still started, it still ran without complaints, and functioned normally when it probably shouldn't have. It was a great worthwile investment, and I will miss that little car.

So there it is, a salute to the once low mileage compact car turned hoopty. If any of you have memories of my car, feel free to comment on it below!