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.

Sunday, October 5, 2008


I had a friend once who quite spontaneously called me "Mandramablingblama" to be funny. As the years passed, I realized how much it suits me. "Man" is not only part of my first name, but is also the thing that gets me in the most trouble! "Drama" is what soon follows, and unfortunately in my life, it sometimes shows up unannounced and uninvited. "Bling" is one of my favorite things as well as anything shiny or fabulous. And the "blama?" Well, I haven't quite figured out that part yet, but it rhymes.

I've got a crazy life. Crazy stories. Crazy people that need to be talked about (myself included). Here you'll find the highs and lows, the good and bad, the purposeful and impulsive. And lets not forget - random. :)

My life is an adventure! Every day is something new, something to remember, something to learn from, something to laugh at, and yes, even something to love. My father always told me, "Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans." Welcome to my life.