I was inspired by this on someone else's blog, so I decided to write about the women who've made a difference in my life. I've been blessed by so many great and wonderful women in my life, probably too many, in fact, to mention here, but I wanted to pay tribute to the women who've touched my life the most.
First and foremost, of course, is my mother. Not only did she sacrifice her own wants and desires in raising me and my brothers, but she taught me how to be a mother. Her example of faith and perseverance has really helped me to push forward even when times are tough. She set a great example in our home of spirituality and trusting in the Lord. I know there are times when she struggled with motherhood, but she never gave up and still doesn't.
The next woman who has inspired me is my sister-in-law Andrea. I love all my sisters-in-law and think they are all spectacular, but for me, Andrea is like the sister I never had. That's probably because she was my first sister-in-law. I have all brothers, so when we grew up and started dating to marry, I was excited to gain some "sisters". I was lucky to gain the ones I did--Allison, Kaori and Eve are all also fantastic and I love and admire them in different ways. But Andrea is my paragon of perfection. She is Supermom (with 6 kids, the youngest two being twins), she keeps busy but makes time for others in her life. She's everyone's friend, and by that, I mean she is really a true friend. She listens and loves and doesn't judge. She also keeps her children engaged in wholesome, meaningful activities, she is a superb cook, she is talented in music, she's athletic, she's just great. Sometimes I think I'd like to BE Andrea. Just so I could be such a great person too.
Next comes my mom's baby sister, my Aunt Ruth. Like Andrea, she excels in so many areas and seems to keep it all together. Even through the passing of one of her children as an infant and other hard trials she's dealt with (having a surprise baby in her 40's and caring for her aging father for many years, to name a few), she is happy, upbeat, and faithful in all she does. She has earned the place of confidante of her nieces and she is just a truly great person.
Next is my mother-in-law, Marti. I hear so often of women complaining of their mothers-in-law. How they are always butting in on childrearing and housekeeping. They are critical of everything. But my mother-in-law is not like that at all. she is so nice, she pays the same amount of attention to all her grandkids (and I don't think she even tries, she just does it), she doesn't judge or anything. She has also had her share of trials, losing her husband of 20+ years to cancer fairly young (in his 40's) who was also her high school sweetheart had to be difficult. Yet she still carries on with a cheerful heart.
Another woman I admire is my friend, Melissa. The first ward my husband and I lived in as a married couple, my husband and Melissa's husband were in the Elder's Quorum presidency together. When I first met Melissa, she had just had her fourth child. Her oldest was just 7. I respected that Melissa was a stay-at-home mom and her husband didn't have a high profile, lucrative career. They were sacrificing a lot to make ends meet, and she is another of those women who just seems to know how to be a mom and a wife and do it all with cheerfulness and faith. Today, 8-1/2 years later, Melissa now has 8 children and has seen her husband go from one job to another, but still, she finds joy in life despite the hardships she has faced.
Whitney was in the same elementary education cohort of mine in college. The first day of the cohort, I came in the auditorium and sat down behind her. She was talking to someone else, and I overheard her conversation. She had been married a short time, about a year, and was just gushing over how in love with her husband she was. Not only that, but as I got to know her, she breathed this enthusiasm for life and God's creations that I just can't do no matter how hard I try. She finds joy in every little thing around her. I only knew her those two short years. One short 6 week spring term we had a class together on another campus that we carpooled together for. During that time I learned that she joined the Church as a teenager and faced trials in that. Her husband is military and has spent some time away from home. I don't know her now as a mother very well because when we graduated, she had a baby and I moved on to teach school in another state. Then she moved even further away and today lives overseas. I get newsletters from her time to time, and she still has that never-ending optimism and enthusiasm that I can't even fake. I am grateful that she still includes me in some aspects of her life, being that we weren't the best of friends even then, but her example has meant a lot to me.
The last person I want to pay tribute to is my cousin's wife Lori. In June, just a few weeks after having her fourth child, who was a long time coming after she'd had several miscarriages, she was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma. She is currently undergoing treatments for the cancer, but when she's not at doctor's appointments, she maintains a full, busy life. Did I mention that her oldest child is only 7? I think if it were me, I would be sitting in bed bemoaning my fate in life. But she does fun activities with her kids, she keeps busy with her social life and she takes great care of her husband, despite how tired her cancer treatments are making her. He works two jobs to provide for them and I know that money is tight, but yet they still manage to find happiness and hope.
There are so many more women that I could highlight, former roommates of mine, friends from different wards I've lived in, even friends from high school who are now doing amazing things with their lives as mothers and wives and teachers and friends.
I guess what I need to glean from all these examples is to find joy in life even when things are hard, which they always seem to be. Thank you, my beautiful sisters, for bringing me hope by your shining examples.