NINE years ago in March, I became a full-time missionary. I entered the Missionary Training Center to serve the people of Romania for eighteen months. I don't think anything in my life has changed me more than those eighteen months. The Romanian people live in my heart and have changed the way I see the world. Someone once told me, "Once you come home from your mission, you will think about it every single day for the rest of your life." And it's true. I think about those people every day. I think about the kind of missionary I was, the kind of missionary I wasn't, and the kind of missionary I wanted to be. I think about the oh-so-little I really did, and the huge amount of stuff the Savior did. He has so many names--the Savior, the Redeemer, the Son of God, etc. On my mission, His name was the Gap Filler. He took my teensy tiny offering, full of holes and weaknesses, and filled in the gaps and reinforced the weak spots. My goal on my mission was to live up to Elder David A. Bednar's challenge that we no longer need missions to be good for the missionary, but instead missionaries who will be good for the mission. As I tried daily to be a contributor, a helper and an instrument to the Lord's work, I couldn't help but notice that I was given ten-fold back. It took me a long time to realize that I was never going to catch up to the Lord and His blessings. And that I didn't need to. That all He wanted from me was my heart.
FIVE years ago in March, I became a wife. In those short five years, I have learned so much about why God commands us to get married. For me, marriage has been my personal classroom for understanding the Plan of Salvation. While marriage has been full of high moments, it's the hard moments that have made me appreciate it. Dan is the man who will always hold strong during tough times and who will always do what needs to be done for his family. This includes being the best listener I know. And the most even-keeled person around. And the guy who is up for any crazy idea of mine, any time.
THREE years ago in March, I became a mother. Sandra June Jolley was born March 26th. When I was 6 months pregnant with her, I had a dream that she was a baby one day and then the next, she was a toddler with a blonde ponytail. That dream has been pretty accurate. She has grown up so fast. She has not been the child I predicted she would be, but she has been the child I have needed. She is happy, funny and stubborn. She keeps me guessing. We knock heads a lot, and she wins a lot.
For her birthday, we had a birthday party at the park.
I was so touched by the gifts she was given. Homemade, heartfelt, thoughtful gifts. Made me kind of want to do the same thing for others, but I will probably just stick to my Target dollar bin route since my crafts tend to make little children cry for their mothers.
A couple of the gifts:
And just some randoms from the month:
Gifts from Aunt Heidi. This woman knows how to give. Elsa shoes, crayons and an Elmo loofah. If that doesn't scream June, I don't know what does. Besides someone just screaming, which also describes June.
And finally . . .
I've decided this is the picture I want used for the "About the Author" section if I ever write a book.