Yesterday was my Grandma's 80th birthday. First of all, I have been so blessed with two wonderful women as my grandmothers. They have both raised beautiful families and influenced me for the better with their love and example. In honor of my Grandma Ashby, here are just a few of the many lessons that she has taught me.
- Sing all the time, because when I do it reminds her of her mother.
- I can do anything I want, from being a mother to going to law school.
- The people in our lives, especially our families, are what we live for.
- There is always a reason to be happy and smile, so savor every moment of life and count your blessings.
So. Yesterday at Grandma's birthday party, I had the opportunity to spend time with some cousins and aunts and uncles, as well as visit with my Grandma, and it got me thinking about where I am in my life. As a background: I am 6 in a line of 29 grandkids. 7 of them are married, 6 (not counting the in-laws) have served missions, 2 are currently serving, and at least 3 are planning to go on missions in the next year or two. There are 4 great-grandkids with another one on the way. There are 5(ish?) college graduates, with more soon coming. People have impressive jobs and families. Let me tell you, newest great-grandbaby Mia is perfect and the only one people wanted to see last night (besides Grandma, that is) and for good reason. And yet, on top of that, everyone was just so happy to hear about how I was doing, and were so impressed with my life. In a lot of ways I felt like the cool cousin, which was kind of weird to me since I'm single and sometimes feel like I'm not doing anything significant with my life right now. And especially after a conversation with Tracy about opportunities earlier that day, I got to thinking.
At the young age of 23, I have accomplished a lot with my life.
- I graduated high school with a 4.0 as valedictorian.
- I've performed in front of hundreds and thousands of people.
- I hiked across the UK for 2 months.
- I served the Lord as a missionary, and lived in Russia for a year and a half.
- I speak Russian basically fluently.
- I've worked 70 hour weeks, supported myself for much of the past 5ish years, held a couple jobs, and tried to make a difference.
- I've traveled to about 10 countries, and will add at least 1 more to my list this summer (hopefully another 2 or 3). I've seen famous paintings and landmarks that people dream of seeing. I've lived about 8% of my life abroad.
- Perhaps it hasn't happened yet, but by the end of the year I will have graduated in English and Russian with a music minor from BYU with no debt and pretty good grades.
- I have an internship in Moscow this summer. International work experience before I'm 24.
- I have so many other possible opportunities after graduation: working or living on the East Coast, or abroad or even somewhere closer to home. Teach for America. Graduate school. Travelling. Who knows what will happen.
And there's more important things, like:
- I've had lots of fun and learned to laugh and cherish life.
- I have made literally hundreds of friends who I love with all my heart, and of course a couple dozen who I would give my life for.
- I've gained and strengthened a testimony of my Savior Jesus Christ and the truthfulness of his Gospel on the earth today.
I could go on. And honestly, I don't mean this to brag. They were just some thoughts I've had. I'm not married and don't have kids yet, and honestly, when there are friends and cousins younger than you who have gotten there, it's hard sometimes. Especially when sometimes you feel that parents and some peers and things see you and think you're putting priorities in the wrong place. (Note to parents, if you by some chance read this: I don't always feel that way, just sometimes. I know you support and love me). You see those important things that you and everyone else wants and expects and feel like you're not getting anywhere. These are things I'd love to have, and hopefully will have sometime soon (but not too soon). But you know what? The Lord has certainly blessed me with a heck of a lot while I wait for those other things. How many people can say that they've done the things I have, or at least the things I will do in the near future? And the huge adventures he's giving me right now? They'll help me change my future family and even the world for the better. They'll give me things to tell me kids and grandkids, so that when I'm my Grandma Ashby's age I can say to my 23-year-old granddaughter, "Look, here's what I did with my life. I did what I wanted and, more importantly, what the Lord wanted and accomplished so much in so many different areas. He blessed me with so much love and happiness that I tried to pass on to others. And now it's your turn."