I honestly can’t believe it’s the 4th of July. This year looks a lot different than any other year since Rick and I got married. In fact, it looks very different from all of the years I can remember growing up.
Growing up our tradition was to go to Grandpa and Grandma Brown’s home in Provo early in the morning. They lived by the parade route so we would walk down to the seats that they had set out and we would watch the parade. Then we would go back to their house and have a BBQ. I absolutely loved the big slices of watermelon that we would get from Grandma. Then some would go home for a few hours and some of us would stay at grandpa and grandma’s. There was a park right by their house and we would walk down in the afternoon and do activities and just hang out at my grandparents. Then later in the evening we would go down to the park and watch the fireworks.
Over the years things changed a little bit, like we would go to Stadium of Fire when that was added. The 4th of July was a holiday that I absolutely loved, because of our family traditions. My parents and grandparents taught us to be patriotic and to be so grateful for our freedom and the sacrifices that have been made for our freedoms. My grandpa fought in the war and he always shared with us to be grateful for our freedoms.
Rick and I got married and his aunt would set up and cook breakfast on the parade route for all of us. It was lots of fun and for years we would go and sit with Rick’s family and then things shifted and our boys would go down and save a big space for my siblings and their children and Rick’s family. We would bring different foods to share for breakfast and had lots of fun.
Following the parade we would go to my parents for a BBQ and swimming and a water fight. My boys absolutely loved this! Then we would go over to the Hardman’s for another BBQ and watch fireworks or city fireworks or family fireworks. Besides the day of activities we would go to the Balloon Festival around 5:30 - 6:00 a.m. on one of the days around the 4th of July, the fireside at the Marriott Center, sometimes the Stadium of Fire. The 4th of July has been a holiday that has been celebrated with family for years - as long as I can remember - and we were always on the go. No time for rest until we got home after the fireworks and we crashed!!!
The last couple of years have looked a little different, because of Covid, but we still continued to have the family bbq’s, water fights, swimming, fireworks. We still found many different ways to celebrate the 4th of July. We have also absolutely loved the Follow the Flag in our community. I have always felt so much emotion and love for our country as I would see the flag in so many different ways and our veterans and the planes that would fly over.
I’ve always loved the holiday, but I’ve also been very grateful for the freedoms that we are able to celebrate and have as a part of our day to day lives. We are truly blessed to live in this country even though it can be very difficult and there’s many things that aren’t feeling as positive at this time, or even for many years.
This year looks extremely different. Much more different than I’ve ever experienced. We chose to not go to Stadium of Fire. We didn’t go to the Sunday night fireside. Everyone is doing different things so we didn’t go to the parade. Tanner wanted to go to the Balloon Festival so Rick and Tanner got up super early and went to the Balloon Festival, but they didn’t end up even getting the balloons out. Rick and Tanner ended up going to Denny’s for breakfast and brought me home some Chik-fil-A breakfast. Rick and Tanner then went over to the baseball field and worked on baseball stuff. When they got home Brayden and Sarah came over to our home and hung out and had some food. We told Zach he could choose what he would like to do and he had friends that asked if he would cover their shifts so he worked 11 hours today. Michael and Alex went over to my mom’s home for the BBQ and then came over to our home and hung out. Tanner went over to my mom’s and played ultimate frisbee and then he came home.
What did I do? What did today look like for me? Well, as of yesterday, as a family we had different plans, but things changed around midnight last night. After a difficult conversation with a family member and lots of emotions Rick and I got to bed around 3:00 a.m. I fell asleep around 3:30 a.m. Alarms went off at 5:00 a.m. for Rick and Tanner to get ready for the balloon festival and Zach got ready for work. At that point I couldn’t sleep anymore. So many thoughts and feelings. My eyes were super puffy from a very emotional, hard night and lack of sleep. I had the opportunity to do a facetime call with a very dear friend early this morning. I prayed. I cried. I sent some messages and my mom and I did messenger back and forth for a little bit.
I finally decided to get ready for the day and then had a phone call with a family member. It was a great call. Good visit, but lots of emotions for me. I came downstairs and wasn’t sure how the day would go, but the plans were I was staying home. Not going anywhere. As my children and their wives came to our home and visited, played games, laughed and just talked and honestly I don’t have perfect words, but it was perfection! I felt like I was the richest person in the world with Rick and my children and their wives gathered together in our home. This is honestly what life is all about! The greatest happiness and peace that can be found. A pure love. Support for one another. Caring about what is going on in each other’s lives. My family, my people, my foundation, those I’ve gone through counseling with and healing and the atonement and growth and worked together through thick and thin and we are a team. A team that rallies and has such a great love and support for one another. Today I found my peace. I found what matters most to me. Those who love me. Trust me. See my efforts and are grateful for who I am and who I’ve become. Who know the trials and the real battles I’ve faced. Who know the trauma that I experienced in my life and know what it’s taken for me to be here - to be alive.
FREEDOM!!! We often think of religious freedom, education, freedom to shop and live and go places, travel, work, etc. Freedom to celebrate. The list goes on. The last few years I’ve come to better understand a very important freedom that I’m gaining and still working at, but feeling oh so much power. FREEDOM TO LOVE ME!!! TO BE ENOUGH!!! FREEDOM TO HEAL! TO RELEASE THE CHAINS OF BONDAGE that I’ve carried for over 40 years from abuse. From intense abuse from many. FREEDOM to have a straight one on one relationship with my loving Heavenly Father and Savior. That no one controls that, but me. I don’t have to be a certain way or measure up or live a certain level of perfection to have that relationship. I am LOVED right now, today, right at this minute AS I AM. I can love myself even when others dislike me. Have distrust. Feel that I have ill intentions or a mean person. I don’t have to be perfect. I don’t have to have everyone love me. In fact, people can hate me and that’s alright. I’m blessed with the ATONEMENT. I make many mistakes. I mess up. I have flaws. Those around me will find what they are looking for in me. The good, the bad or the ugly - it’s all there - each person can choose what they want to see in me. We all have those sides. I don’t have to be SORRY for being me. I have a foundation of people who LOVE ME AS I AM. I have a foundation. I don’t have to be abused anymore. I don’t have to believe all of the awful things that I’ve believed about myself for over 40 years. They aren’t true. I don’t have to be under the table and take the crumbs from people who see fit to treat me that way. I can sit up to the table and eat the same foods and be with those who love me and smile and laugh and just relax. I don’t have to pretend anymore. THIS IS ME! I am FREE!!!!
Today I celebrate the 4th of July in a much different way. Sitting at home in the quiet of my home, reflecting, choosing to surround myself with love. Being me. Celebrating one of the most important FREEDOMS I could possibly dream of!
A wife and mother of 4 boys and 2 daughter-in-law, I have spent my entire adult life devoted to my family. I have been busy in their schools, supporting them in all of their school work, sporting events, activities, etc. I spent years heavily involved in the PTA, church callings, etc Life for me has always been overwhelmingly busy. While I thought this was my sanity, the truth is it masked issues - real issues - that I needed to work on to gain true sanity. I am sharing my story in this blog. I do this so that I might be able to help other women find their true sanity