In 2013, my husband and I chose the perfect piece of land in the perfect neighborhood nestled between the sweeping shores of Utah Lake and a quiet manicured golf course fittingly called Sleepy Ridge. My father, a retired contractor with experienced leather hands and kind knowing eyes, pledged ten months of his life to erect a strong and sturdy home for his little girl, his son-in-law and his beloved grand babies. My twin brother, who had just finished another project, also decided to join my dad in building our home. This meant we had the peace of mind to know our home was quite literally in the best of hands, and also had the privilege of making the home anything we could dream.
And oh, did we dream! My time was consumed with finding vintage and second hand treasures on our local classifieds. Each new find represented a dream brought to life. The vintage claw foot tub was sudsy warm baths shared with tiny wrinkled fingers and toes. The wood floor, cut from a 150 year old ash tree from my grandfather's farm, was the first toddling steps of our almost one-year old, and the stage for warm, happy gatherings of friends and family. The all-white cottage-like exterior meant a haven from the storm for all who called it home. Board by board, piece by piece, with the help of countless friends and loved ones, our dream became a reality and we moved into our gleaming new home. Everything was perfect.
As many know, God works in mysterious ways and not even two months after moving in to our dream home, my husband felt compelled to leave the company he'd been with since graduating college and start his own company. For a myriad of reasons out of our control, it made the most sense to open his doors in Salt Lake City, an hour's drive North. It felt right to start a new company, and Salt Lake made the most sense, but how could we walk away from the home of our dreams? The home we had spent nearly a year building, and worked and sacrificed so much for? How could we leave wonderful neighbors and our children's first friends? It seemed too difficult. And so we didn't. Commuting can't be that bad, we told ourselves; we don't have to leave, we decided. But, after nearly a year and a half of traffic, missed dinners, and entire days of the kids not seeing their Daddy, we both just knew it was time to sell our home.
Things fell into place perfectly; we found a lovely fixer upper in Holladay, only 15 minutes from my husband's work, bought it and began renovations within a week. Our white Orem house sold after only two weeks on the market, and the closing date was set to coincide with our renovation being done. Everything was working out perfectly and yet, we both still felt unsettled, neither of us being able to find peace. Part of having faith, we knew, was moving forward even when we didn't know why, and so we pushed on, but it was difficult.
Then, less than a week before our closing date, while packing boxes, I came across a forgotten box of 800 thank you cards. This box had been placed there, leftover from a bridal show I had participated in more than two years earlier. "What in the world am I going to do with 800 of the same thank you cards?" I mused. Then, the thought occurred to me. I went onto our neighborhood Facebook page, snapped a picture of the cards and offered to hand deliver them to anyone interested. I couldn't believe the response! More than 15 women commented almost immediately, excited at the prospect of getting free Thank You cards. I spent the next hour knocking on doors and handing over neat little stacks of cards and envelopes.
It's hard to describe what happened during that time. I noticed a palpable feeling of gratitude. With each set of cards I delivered, the feeling grew. I was grateful to the women for putting the cards to use, the women were grateful to me for bringing them, and in turn I helped enable them to share their gratitude with others- to pay it forward. I was humbled by these women's eagerness to express gratitude. It was on the way home from delivering the last set that I thought, "How many more women would have loved to get free cards? What kind of goodness and light could be spread as a collective by these small and simple acts?"
When I got home, I pulled out a pad of paper and, with my baby girl climbing on me, I sketched the idea for Hello Thankful. It seemed to just come to me. It felt inspired. And when I was done writing my plan, I had an incredible sense of direction and purpose. I knew that this was what I was supposed to do! I think all of us, regardless of if you believe in God or not, have experienced this same sense of purpose and direction at one time or another. It's a wonderful feeling.
That evening, as I sat meditating on my experience, I had a moment of clarity; it was because we were moving that I came across the cards. Would I have had the same experience if we had continued living in our house? Maybe. Was finding the cards the purpose of us moving? I don't think so. But my experience with the cards was a reminder that God had a higher purpose for my life than I did. That I had only been able to see how difficult it would be to leave our dream home and neighbors, how my life was taking a different direction than I had planned on. But God saw so much more than that. He saw me in my entirety; His beloved daughter. Someone that needed humbling, teaching and molding. And He knew what he had in store for me and my little family. It was then that I was finally able to find peace. The true and lasting kind of peace that doesn't look back.
I know that when we move confidently in the direction of our dreams, even when it means making sacrifices and taking turns we don't expect, we will be blessed for doing so. I feel passionately about Hello Thankful's message of gratitude! Gratitude truly has the power to bring lasting happiness into our lives, if we will only practice it a little every day. It's simple and yet profound, and it has the power to help everyone, regardless of their race, creed or wealth.
For now, my mission is to spread the message of gratitude and Hello Thankful is how I am spreading it. Please join us!