Sunday, August 9, 2009

I'm Engaged!

I had planned to write a whole big long blog about this, but as it turns out, life goes from 0-500 mph the second you get engaged. :) This is a really exciting time for me and John! We've created a wedding website at for you to check out so you can see some pics and read the engagement "story" and all that. The direct link to our page is listed below. Thanks for all the support everyone! :)


Friday, March 20, 2009

The First Day Of Spring

So I was checking in with my fellow bloggers today and I realized that I hadn't posted a blog in a really long time. Evidently, it's been a couple of months. Oh, how the time flies! And now it's the first day of spring. Crazy how things get away from you sometimes...

These last couple of months have been pretty good. I've been flying a bunch and spending tons of time with my main squeeze. I recently took a promotion of sorts at work and am now a LEAD instructor as well. So I fly half time and teach ground school the other half. I just started doing the instructor thing, and so far I like it pretty well. My company just laid off like 800 people (mostly ground crews) and I get an upgrade. What are the odds? Well, I'm definitely not complaining. I'm just glad I have a job still. In case you missed it, our economy sucks.

Next month John and I are going to Paris for 4 or 5 days to celebrate my birthday. I had to talk him into it at first, but we're both looking forward to the trip. I figured that a commercial airline pilot should have a few more trans-oceanic trips under his belt. So really, I'm just doing it for him. :) I'm hoping to spend some time at the Louvre and the Eifel tower and Notre Dame - you know, the typical Paris sights. I'll probably partake of more than my fair share of French wine and croissants, too. But if you guys know of some other cool things we can do there too, please let me know.

Last month I had the opportunity to fly out to North Carolina to visit my sister-in-law Jolene who as many of you know is battling breast cancer. It was a short visit, but it was great for me to be able to see her and spend some time with my family. She is going through chemotherapy and her hair started falling out the day after I got there, so I also had the very interesting experience of shaving her head for her. We all had a really fun time doing it, but truth be told, it was bitter sweet. She does look really great though - hair or no hair. I've always thought that she was really beautiful. Now there's just no hair in her face to obscure the view. :)

Next week, John's parents are coming to town to visit for a couple of days. I'm excited to see them again. It should be an interesting visit since his parents will be meeting my parents for the first time. (I can hear all of you right now thinking, "oh, reeeally?!" You know who you are. LOL!) I think we're all going to dinner or something. It should be a good time. I'm looking forward to it.

So that's kinda what I've been up to. Other than the Paris trip, I don't have any other big plans coming up. I'm sure I'll find little trips and things to go on throughout the summer though. I'm really excited that the weather is warming up. I am so done with winter!! I'm sure I'll keep you posted as life goes on... Happy first day of spring!!

Friday, January 9, 2009

My 2008

I was thinking the other day about what a crazy year I’ve been through. Of course I usually say that at the end of each year, but 2008 was a roller coaster. And here I am now beginning 2009, not knowing what the future will hold. Again. So what happened in 2008? Let’s review:

I began 2008 living back in Utah with my parents. I had been home for about 2 months and was working a seasonal job that was (forgive my conceit here) completely beneath me. I was wondering what God was going to do with me and yet I was still upset at Him for seemingly abandoning me altogether in 2007. I was in the middle of a horrifically messy divorce and I was learning the hard way that just when you think people can’t get any more nasty and ugly inside, they turn around and one-up themselves. (I’ve gotta say, when the devil gets a hold of someone, he gets ‘em good!) Needless to say, I was not a happy camper. I was bitter and angry about the way my ex had treated me, and yet ashamed that I was getting a divorce. Ironically, I don’t believe in divorce. But when you find yourself asking the question, “Would I rather wake up dead, or wake up divorced?” It becomes a little easier to make that choice. Sigh. Still, not part of the plan. I thought that I had done everything I was supposed to do and that as a result of me being faithful to God and obedient to His direction, that I would be richly rewarded and live happily ever after. Yeah, not so much. Not that it’s not a good idea to be faithful and obedient to God, but as far as being in a marriage, I’ve discovered that both parties need to be on board with that. If not, like me, you will discover a whole new meaning to “hell on earth.” And then you have to face the music. “What are people going to say? How will they ever understand what this has been like for me? How could I have been so stupid? Where is God when you really need Him? I’m never trusting anyone again!” These are all things I would say to myself on a daily basis. Not exactly uplifting I guess. But that’s where I was. I couldn’t figure out how to get past all the ugliness that I had allowed to consume me for so many months. The unfairness of it all was choking the life out of me. But of course we all know, life isn’t fair, right?

I wanted desperately to have a “real” job again. I had been hired as a Flight Attendant back in November of 2007, but had been sorely disappointed when they put their training classes on hold for 6 months. It began to seem like I would never get out of the rut I was in. I was able to make the break from my mindless job as a cashier and go work for my sister-in-law Amber at a restaurant she was managing. Waiting tables again was not really what I wanted to do, but I felt a little more productive at least. After a few months, I resigned myself to the fact that those were the cards I’d been dealt and so if I was going to wait tables, I was going to do it somewhere that I’d get paid a bunch of money for it. It didn’t take me long to get a job at Tepanyaki. It’s one of those Japanese steakhouse type restaurants where people go for special occasions and things like that. I was pretty excited about it since I knew I would finally be making some good money. However, my very first night of working there, I got a call from the airline I hadn’t heard from in months and they told me that they wanted me to report for training in two weeks! Whoa! That came as quite the surprise, but it was what I wanted to do and what I had been waiting for, so I said, “Sionara!” to Tepanyaki. I knew it was a risky maneuver. I knew the airlines were all in trouble and the gas prices were skyrocketing. But somehow, in my heart, I knew that God would work it out. The bible says He is faithful. And He is. In Philippians it says that “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion…” I knew that God had begun something great with me and that He wouldn’t let me down. Not after everything I had been through. I knew that in spite of the fact that we were not on the best of terms, that He had something better in store for me.

It was the end of April by then and I was still in an emotional funk most of the time. I didn’t want to go anywhere or do anything with anyone because I felt like all they would want to do is talk about my award-winning misfortunes. I just wanted to be left alone in my humiliation. My life had become a living example of a Lifetime Original Movie (which started out as a joke, but it was really more true than not). I was one of those women who had been beat down and had to rise from the ashes kind of a thing. But you know what? Actually going through all that and having to do it for real? Well I’ll tell ya, it’s a bitch. It’s not as easy as it looks on TV. There came a point when I looked in the mirror and was like, “How do I get past this? How can I not be like this anymore? What do I do?” And the answer was not what I wanted to hear. I knew that to get back to my “old self” or be able to embrace my new life, that I needed to forgive my ex. And I didn’t want to. And to be honest, I didn’t know if I even could. How do you forgive someone who’s not even sorry for what they did and doesn’t even care how much you suffered as a direct result of their actions? That was a big pill to swallow. I had to think about that for a while.

Everything changed in May. I started my training class in the middle of that month and although it was a rigorous schedule and an overload of information, I managed to do quite well. I was even able to keep my skeletons in the closet for most of that time and no one was the wiser. My divorce was in its final days as my training was coming to an end and things were definitely looking up. I ended up confiding in my two roommates Donna and Tisha about what I had been going through and they were a great support to me. The day my divorce was final, I wanted to break down and cry with sheer relief. Even though the divorce did not go the way I wanted it to and my ex came out smelling like a rose, I was just glad it was finally over. As fate would have it, my friend Erin was over the day I got the news and as it turns out, she had been in the same situation previously. My conversations with her really helped me to understand that there would be life after death (so to speak). I didn’t know how, but I knew things would be okay.

After my divorce was final and I finished my training, with a lot of help from God, I finally allowed myself to forgive my ex. He didn’t deserve it and wouldn’t even know that I had done it, but I knew it was the right thing to do. If God can forgive me of all the horrible things I’ve done to hurt and dishonor Him in my life, the least I can do is to try and live that example in my own life. Once I did that, an amazing transformation took place within me. I was no longer a bitter hag. :) I developed new friendships with people. I repaired the friendships in my life that I had allowed to dissolve. I jumped into my job and gave it everything I had. I was happy again. I was free. I was traveling a lot again, which I loved. I got to meet tons of cool people and see lots of places I’d never have seen if I hadn’t decided to take the risk and switch jobs.

In August, I was still making my peace with God. (It was kind of a process) I was out with my friends a lot and learning all I could about my new job and just trying to settle in to my new rhythm. I wasn’t “living it up” necessarily, but I was learning how to laugh again and enjoy myself. It was a good time in my life. I had allowed myself to heal from those hurts of the past and was embracing the “new and improved” me, as Jolene called it. I wasn’t back to the old me, I was a new me and I was better. :) I guess that’s when God decided it was time to shake things up a bit, because that’s when I met John.

John was the captain on one of the trips I had been assigned. I couldn’t imagine it at the time, but meeting him would change my life. Neither of us was looking for a relationship. I certainly wasn’t looking to hook up with a pilot, nor he a flight attendant. How cliché would that be? But in spite of my best efforts, he started to grow on me. My friends told me to run fast and far from him because he was a bit non-committal in the beginning. I tried. I even said a couple times, “I’m done with him, he’s being dumb.” (Of course he wasn’t really being dumb, he was just cautious – rightfully so.) But there was just something about him. I saw a depth to him that he kept locked away. I just knew there was more to him than met the eye. There was just a real goodness to him. And holy cow! When I’m right about something, I’m really right! :) It took a couple months, but we both slowly came around. When we decided to date exclusively, most of my friends had actual heart attacks I think. I don’t think even I saw that coming. But I’m glad it did. What a fool I would have been to walk away from such an amazing man! He’s nothing that I was looking for and yet everything I could have hoped for. I honestly didn’t think that men like him existed anymore. I believed that so much, that when I finally met his mother, I thanked her and John’s dad for doing such a great job with him. (People just aren’t born great, they learn it from someone.) Admittedly, the first few months we were together, I kept waiting for him to drop the ball. I kept waiting for the “real” John to emerge. The one who’s really a big jerk and who is just putting on a show to get me right where he wants me. But you know what? That guy’s not in there. I already have the real John. And he hasn’t dropped the ball. Ever. When I found out last month that my sister had breast cancer, I was a mess. I was shocked and angry and terrified and I felt deeply all of those feelings that go along with that kind of news. Most guys would duck and cover in the face of that kind of raw emotion, but he was a pillar of strength for me. He still is. He reminded me that it’s okay to be vulnerable sometimes. He reminded me that God is still in control and we have to trust Him, too. If I believed in luck, I would say I’m the luckiest girl I know. But since I know better, I’ll say that God really loves me and has given me the greatest blessing of my life to date. John is living proof that God not only wanted better for me, he wanted the best! I don’t know what the future holds for us, but at present, things are pretty great. I’m thankful for him every day and sometimes I just can’t believe how blessed I am. God gives the best gifts!

So the end of the year ended up a lot better than it started. There were definitely some struggles there when Jolene got cancer, but she is doing well after her mastectomy and the cancer hasn’t spread. My job is still going well and I really enjoy what I’m doing. I worked like crazy in December, but I’m thankful that I have a paycheck.

To this day, I don’t know why God allowed me to go through all the things that I went through in 2007 and 2008, but I also know that my ways are not His ways. He’s got a plan. I’ll be the first to tell you that it’s hard for me to trust people, let alone a God I can’t see. But I know He is there. And I know His plan is “to prosper me and not to harm me, plans to give me hope and a future.” (Jer 29:11) I remember what my life was like without Him and I’ll never go back to that. True, I’ve had to walk some pretty rough roads. Once I decided to become a Christian it seems the roads got even rougher. At times I wanted to yell and scream up at the sky, “You left me! Why weren’t you there for me?! I trusted you!” But the truth is, that He was there. It could have been much worse. He did protect me, and He did have something much better for me. I just couldn’t see it at the time. Hindsight is 20/20 and all that…

As for 2009… what can I expect? I don’t know. Just when you think you’ve got things figured out, God will throw you a curve ball, so I’ve learned not to speculate. I thought I was going to be single for the rest of my life and be one of those old ladies with like 4 dogs. And then John showed up and ruined my plans. :) I think I’ll let it slide. If nothing else, it will be an interesting year because that's just how life is for me. :) Things didn't turn out like I thought they would last year, but they're better than I imagined. I have a renewed faith in God (and man) and I'm hopeful for a great future ahead. I'll keep you posted on the rest...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Faith Shaker, or Faith Maker?

Today has been a rough day for me. If it was just one of those random crummy days, I probably wouldn’t write about it on a blog, but today was different. Today I realized once again, just how fragile life is and how truly grateful I am to be alive and surrounded by those who genuinely care about me. Today I was reminded of the all-to-frequently overlooked fact that despite what many of us think, none of us call the shots down here. God is in control. He always has been and will continue to be – regardless of what our personal preferences are.

I know this all sounds a bit “off” and perhaps kinda random. Admittedly, I’m a little out of sorts. It’s just that… well…the thing is, that my sister-in-law Jolene was diagnosed with breast cancer this morning. At best she will need a mastectomy. At worst…well, I can’t even think about that right now. Many of you know how close we are and that I rarely ever refer to her as my sister “in law.” She has been my closest girlfriend for over a decade and I decided long ago that the whole “in law” thing didn’t do our relationship justice. I grew up with two older brothers, so Jolene is the closest thing I’ve ever known to having a flesh and blood sister. To hear this kind of news about HER – my girl…well, it’s a bitter pill to say the least.

I’ve known for a while now that she has been going through some testing for a lump she found in her breast, and last week when she received some preliminary abnormal results, I must admit, I feared the worst. So today, for all of us (my whole family) to have our worst fears confirmed…well, let’s just say it’s been pretty hard on us. None of us quite as much as Jolene of course, but the enormity of the situation is just starting to sink in for me personally. To tell the truth, I think I’ve been in shock most of the day. I know in my head how very serious this is and yet at the same time, I just don’t want to believe it. Why her? Why now? I mean, she’s my age for crying out loud! She’s got two little boys to take care of. She can’t be sick! She’s Jolene! She’s friggin’ indestructible! I mean, I’m a tough chick and all, but that girl puts me to shame. I’ve had some pretty dark days in my life and she has always been there with me – selflessly caring for me, crying with me, encouraging me, and bringing me through to the other side. She’s an amazing wife and mother and the depth of her character runs deeper than most people I’ve ever met. The love that she has for her children and her family is absolutely unmatched. She is self-sacrificing, kind, and generous; and yet God is still allowing this to happen to her. Why? I just can’t understand that!

I can’t pretend to know what God has in store. The bible says His ways are not our ways. I do hope and pray that He will heal her and restore her health so that she can be there for her children and her husband. And I know her well enough to know that if that means she has to sacrifice a boob or two, she won’t hesitate to do that to make sure that she’s there for them. Her faith is strong, and she knows God has a plan.

There will be much more testing in the next few weeks and she is scheduled for her mastectomy in early December. She is standing at the foot of a very BIG mountain right now, and I’m sure at times it will seem insurmountable to her. Please pray for her and her family as we all know that this will be one of the toughest (if not THE toughest) challenges she will ever have to face. But she definitely won’t have to face it alone. We’re here for you, sister! I love you! Boobs or no boobs, you'll always be my girl!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Miss Understood

My friend Mel and I were talking several weeks ago, and she told me about this Color Code deal that is going around. Basically it’s kind of a personality test sorta thing, but instead of saying “I’m a Type A Personality” or whatever, it assigns a color to your personality instead. It claims to be the best tool on the market today in this arena because it is based on human motivations (why you do what you do) rather than on human behaviors (what you do). So being the curious kitty that I am, I decided to give it a Google and check it out.

I found a website that let me take their “little” test (about a jillion questions – give or take), and at the end of it, the results came back. Turns out, I’m “a BLUE.” It didn’t mean anything to me at the time, cuz blue is just a color. (There were also red, yellow and white.) So I think to myself, “well whatever, this is probably a bunch of crap, but we’ll read on and see what it says.” Imagine my surprise when the results were right on the money! I think my jaw literally dropped when I read what they had to say about me – well, about my kind of personality anyways.

So for those of you who were always wondering what makes me tick and why I do the things that I do, here’s a little peek inside my little blue existence – straight from the results page.

“The Core Motivation that drives you through life is "Intimacy". It is important to note that this does not mean sexual intimacy. BLUES need connection - the sharing of rich, deep emotions that bind people together. As a BLUE, you will often sacrifice a great deal of time, effort, and/or personal convenience to develop and maintain meaningful relationships throughout your life. (Wow! That’s so true!)
BLUES seek opportunities to genuinely connect with others, and need to be understood and appreciated, especially by their partner. (Holy cow! How do they know that?!) Everything you do as a BLUE has to be quality-based, or you won't do it at all. You are incredibly loyal to friends, employers, employees, and above all to your significant other. Whatever or whomever you commit to is your sole (and soul) focus. As a BLUE, you love to serve and will give freely of yourself in order to nurture the lives of others. (Whooooa! I do do that!)
BLUES have distinct preferences and are the most controlling of the four personalities, although they may not acknowledge (or even realize) the fact. (Uhh. Really? Crap.) Your code of ethics is remarkably strong and you expect others (not only your partner and those closest to you, but everyone) to live honest, committed lives as well. You enjoy sharing meaningful moments in conversation with your partner as well as remembering special life events (e.g. birthdays and anniversaries). (That last part should resonate with you, Mel! Ha ha!) It went on to list several attributes about me. Evidently, I’m also analytical, committed, compassionate, dedicated, deliberate, dependable, emotional, loyal, nurturing, seek quality, respectful, sincere, thoughtful, and well-mannered. While I will freely admit that I am loyal, sincere, emotional and committed, I’m sure I’ve had my moments with that other stuff. ;) But I gotta tell ya, that all pretty much sums me up! Crazy!

So I’ve gotta give it to the Color Code people. They pretty much know what they’re talkin’ about! And the very fact that I’m putting this up here for everyone to read is proof of that (because evidently I have "a need" to be understood by people).

My boyfriend and I had a minor conflict yesterday and over the course of the evening as we were ironing out the wrinkles of that, he said to me, “I’m not upset, I just don’t understand you.” At the time I blew it off and said, “That’s okay hon, I don’t understand you, either.” :) My thought was that I’m a girl, he’s a guy – do any of us understand each other? But considering the fact that his words are still echoing in my mind today, it must have (subconsciously) really bothered me, right? So I just so happened to re-read my Color Code diagnosis today and lo and behold! Guess who needs to be understood – especially by their partner?! THIS girl! Dang it! What a pain! And not only THAT, but I’ve discovered that in addition to me needing to be understood, it totally bugs me to not understand HIM (or others that I’m close to), either! What a pickle!

I guess the easy thing to do would be for me to just decide to do the half-hearted attempt and just be content to not really know how he ticks and vice versa. But evidently, it’s not in my nature to do anything half-hearted. (sigh) Oh, the growing pains of a new relationship. Not always the most fun, but sometimes the most important.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Coffee-flavored Corinthians

So I came home at like 1am the other night to find my mom in the kitchen making a couple of quiches. Now, if you know my mom, you know that not only is it a rare occurrence for her to be in kitchen, but to see her actually cooking something – well, lets just say it got my attention. (Her being up doin’ stuff at 1am is a pretty common occurrence, so I didn’t think much about that part.) So I took a closer look and realized that she was putting broccoli into one of those quiches. Knowing that my mother detests that vegetable, I asked her about it. She said that she was making that one for me and my dad. Aww! What a swell gal!

Anyways, so she cooks them and does a great job and is quite pleased with herself. I had to work the next day, so the first chance I had to try her masterpiece was this morning when I got up. I had been thinking about it for a while as I was instant messaging some of my friends, so I finally went downstairs to see the untouched quiche set aside for me and my dad. I pulled it out and cut into the thing and called upstairs to my dad who was working on his sermon. “Hey dad! I’m warming up some of this quiche mom made for us. Do you want some?” He looks at his watch and says, “Yeah, probably should.” Okay. So I heat up the quiche and take it up to him and I go back downstairs to eat my breakfast at the table so as not to bother him.

When I sat down at the table with my piece of quiche and my cup of coffee, I noticed a rather nice bible sitting on the table in front of me. It had a really soft black leather cover with an elaborate cross embossed on the front, nice silver lined pages…the whole bit. Nice! I should probably check that out! So I opened it up to the inside cover and realized from the inscription that it had been a gift to my father given to him by my mom as a Christmas present a few years ago. She even signed it “with love and commitment.” Aww! Special!

So as I’m eating the fabulous quiche and thinking about how awesome my mom is to me, I started flipping through the bible and thinking about how awesome my mom is to my dad, too. She just does nice stuff for us. :) How cool.

Anyways, so I was reading through 1 Corinthians, cuz that's one of my favorite books (especially chapter 13). I finished eating the quiche and took a sip of coffee. Mmm. Nice morning. Quiet. Peaceful. Good food. Good coffee. The Good Book. Life is good. I raised my hand to turn the page – engrossed in what I was reading, and before I even realized what happened, I heard the unmistakable “clink” of my ceramic coffee mug falling over on the glass table top. Aah! It was like the coffee shot out of the mug and turned the entire table into a sea of java destruction. I saw it racing towards the notepads and weekly flyers at the edge of the table. I watched as it grew dangerously close to my friend’s high school graduation picture. ACK! I immediately jumped up and looked for something to stop the flooding. Napkins?! A towel?! Anything?!! Aaagh! Quick! Get something! I ran over to the counter and grabbed a handful of napkins, and as I turned around to figure out where to try and stop the flow, the thought came crashing in like a wrecking ball. The bible! No, no, no, no, no, NOOOOO! Screw the rest of the stuff on the table! I scooped that bible up like it was a drowning baby. Craaaaap! I spilled coffee on my dad’s bible! Oh, the horror! I am in so much trouble right now! God’s probably going to have something to say about this, too. Freakin’ great!

Now, by this time, my dad had heard all the commotion downstairs with me knocking the cup over and all of my ensuing verbal outbursts. I just knew he was going to come down there. Daaaang it! What to do? I had gotten the quality kitchen towel out and was trying gently to blot the coffee off of the pages. Did you seriously just do that, Mandy?! Freak! You just had to touch the nice bible, didn’t ya? You couldn’t just leave it alone. Good grief! I decided that rather than having my dad walk in on me trying to cover my tracks, I would just take the preemptive strike and tell him what I had done. Ugh. Lame. I called up to him dejectedly, “Daaaad? I just spilled coffee on your bible.” I immediately heard him getting out of his chair. Rats!! I’m toast! He’s coming down here! (Mind you, I’m a grown woman and for some reason I thought my dad might actually send me to my room for being irresponsible with his things.) He called back down to me in mock exasperation, “What?! You spilled on my bible?!” So I said the only thing I could think of at the time to defend myself. “See?! That’s what I get for trying to read the bible!” I heard him chuckle as he got downstairs around then to find me trying to tenderly dry off the bible and completely ignoring the disaster that the kitchen table had become. “Whoa!” he said, “You spilled coffee everywhere.” Aaagh! “I know! I’m sorry! It was an accident! I can’t even remember the last time I spilled anything. Man!” I felt terrible. I couldn’t have just spilled on myself. Oh no! I spill on the special gift my mother had given to him as a token of her love and devotion. Ugh! I'm such a loser right now! My dad came up beside me, put his arm around me and said, “Well, I guess I’m going to have to forgive you then.” :) What a champ! I said, “Of all the books I could have spilled on in this house, I spilled on The Bible! On YOUR bible!” I was waiting for the bolt of lighting from heaven to strike me down where I stood. But of course, my dad being the cool guy that he is didn’t get upset. We even talked about how he couldn’t really get mad about it cuz it was the bible after all and that would go against what was written in there. But still! You can’t go around spilling coffee on The Word of God. Doesn’t He frown on that sorta thing? It’s like red wine on white carpet. It’s just not right.

After a few minutes, I got the worst of it taken care of and went over to clean up the table. What a mess! Everything was soaked. I had to throw away most everything that was on the table. So much for my perfect, peaceful morning with my fabulous quiche and yummy coffee. My STUPID coffee more like! I checked out the bible again. Only mild damage. I’d gotten to it in time. Whew! However, there was a decent sized wet mark on the page that was already starting to dry and crinkle up the page. Dang it! As I looked closer, I realized it was in an area where my dad had highlighted a verse. And here’s the kicker! I kid you not! The verse was 1 Corinthians 10:31 which says, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Oh, COME ON!!! Are you kiddin’ me?! Alright God. I get it. He’s got a funny way of getting my attention sometimes…

Thursday, October 9, 2008

My Super-Dad

Tomorrow is my dad’s birthday. It also marks the one year anniversary of me being back in Utah. Last October, my dad came and rescued me from an overwhelmingly horrible situation. I call it a “rescue,” because it was exactly that. One of those “pack everything up in the night and leave before he finds out” kinda situations. It had gotten so bad with my ex that my family and friends were justifiably concerned for my safety and I just had to run. What a great birthday present for my dad last year. “I’m going to go save my daughter before her husband kills her.” How freakin’ lame!

I think back to those days (when I was married to the devil!), and I literally cringe. What was I thinking? How did I get so completely scammed? How could somebody be so deceitful and cruel? It’s not like I was born yesterday. I’m smart. I’m intuitive. I’ve been around the block. But man…he was slick. He even had my parents fooled – which is sayin’ something! What a nightmare. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde ain’t got nothin’ on him!

A lot has happened in the last year. When I came back to Utah, I was a mess. I was paranoid, afraid, angry, shocked, beat up, humiliated… I could go on. I moved in with my parents because it was where I needed to be. I needed to feel safe. I needed to
be safe! I knew that my dad would protect me and care for me and that by living with him and my mom, it would be a healing time for me to just get myself back together. And it was. My dad did protect me. Both he and my mom together helped me to remember that there actually are people in this world that are trustworthy. But in the beginning, there were some very, very dark days. Days where I would be so angry I couldn’t even see straight. Days where I would just sit and plot my revenge because he needed to pay for what he did to me. The devil had a field day with me, truly. I was consumed in bitterness.

I’m not gonna lie, the first 6 or 7 months were pretty awful. I had no money. I felt like I had no friends (I wasn’t really forthcoming about what a horrible place I was in at the time). I had a low-paying, completely humbling job. I was absolutely humiliated. I felt like everyone could tell just by looking at me that I had been
victimized and it just pissed me off. I was a little ball of hate for a while. But over time, I began to heal. My old self began to reemerge. Eventually, I found my laugh again. I rebuilt relationships with my old friends and even forged new friendships as well. When springtime came around, I found myself not only freshly divorced, but also beginning an exciting new job! I made even more friends. I felt as though my life had purpose again. I was finally able to put the past behind me and really start over. I dove into work. I gave it everything I had. And I still am, I suppose. I knew that I would like what I do, but it never occurred to me that it would also be really rewarding for me. It gave me back my sense of purpose - my sense of worth. I’ve always had those, but they’d gotten buried underneath all the ugliness that I had allowed to control me for so long.

Once my divorce was final, I allowed myself to let go. There’s a whole lot more to that part of the story and many of you know what a raw deal that was for me, but now I look back on it and I’m just grateful I got out in one piece. It could have been much worse. I thank God for the family I have. I don’t think I could have gotten through that (or gotten ou
t of that) without them. And they suffered through it with me. Willingly. Because they love me. They never left me. They never said, “Mandy, you’ve just gotten yourself into one too many messes. You’re on your own.” By their actions, they showed me what true love really is - especially my father. He was my hero before all this, but now he’s my super-hero. You’ve got to understand, my father officiated at my wedding ceremony. He married me to the guy who would turn around and start abusing me a month after our vows. Can you even imagine what that was like for him? To know that if he wouldn’t have agreed to marry us, that there’s a good chance none of this would have happened? To feel like his decision could have cost me my life? I know that sounds a bit dramatic, but we lived through that. It was real. Those thoughts and feelings were real. And how do you sit in the same room with the man who abused and demoralized your only daughter and not want to kill him? I can’t imagine the turmoil he must have gone through. And me, to feel like I had put him in that position… it was awful. But you know what? He didn’t kill him, and he didn’t treat him like crap. He recognized that my ex was a broken person. “Love the sinner, hate the sin” I’ve heard him say. That's a nice thought, but to actually be able to do it? Wow. I have a whole new respect for him. I did hate the sin. But I definitely did not love the sinner.

When I was at my worst, (and it was ugly) my father never turned his back on me. I can only imagine how difficult it was for him to look at me and see how truly broken I was. Not brokenhearted, but just broken - as a person. Crushed spirit, confidence stolen, guilt-ridden, ashamed, vengeful…the whole nine yards. And instead of letting that destroy him as it was destroying me, he just…
loved me. It was absolutely killing me, and by the grace of God, my dad loved me back to life. I’ll never forget it as long as I live. Not a day goes by that I don’t know how truly blessed I am to have a father that loves me as much as mine does. Even when I don’t deserve it, he’s always there for me. I know he’ll never leave me. He’ll never abandon me in my time of need. He will love me unconditionally until the day he goes to glory. What an honor it is for me to be able to call him “Dad.”

So this last year has had a lot of ups and downs. I have come a long way from where I was a year ago. I’m happy. I’m free. I have a great job and great friends. There will always be a sc
ar on that part of my life, but I’m healed now. A year ago, I wouldn’t have believed any of this could happen. But my dad told me it would. He had absolute faith in me that I would pick up the pieces and that God would allow me to have something better than I imagined. And He did.

My dad and I are closer now than we’ve ever been. I think we’ve been through almost every human emotion possible together and have come out stronger on the other side. He knows that I love and appreciate him for all he’s done and continues to do. I know that he’s proud of me and that he’d do it all over again if he had to. So dad, if you’re reading this, thank you for being there for
me. Thank you for saving me. Not only from that situation, but from myself. You’ll never know how much I respect and admire you. Here’s to a much better birthday for you this year! I love you more than I can say.