I got an email about the photo contest and upon seeing there weren't many contestants, I entered on a whim thinking I may actually have a chance. Before I knew it, another girl and I were going head-to-head trying to stay on top. We were usually within one or two votes of each other. We thought it ended Sunday night at midnight so we (my component, my campaign team [my parents], and I) stayed up til midnight trying to get the last votes in before the competition closed. Midnight came and it didn't close. It must be the next time zone over, we thought. 1:00 am came... didn't close. 2:00 am, surely it will close, we thought. 2:00 came and went and it remained open. We realized it didn't end until the next night and midnight. At this point we had put so much heart and soul into it, there was no backing down. More than my desire to win a $100 Sephora gift card was my desire to not have all my time and efforts be in vain. More than that, I knew my parents (especially my mom) had put in countless hours recruiting voters and I didn't want her efforts to be In vain. Why would she put so much time and effort into the contest, you may ask. Not because she so badly wanted me to win the giftcard. Simply because she wanted to support me. It was important to me so it was important to her. She could have easily just taken me to Sephora and gotten me some make-up or put a post up on her Facebook to do her part. But no, she took this on like a mama lion would for her cub. She was going to win this just because she loves her daughter and wants to support her and see her succeed.
This experience that started out as an innocent contest turned into an experience I'll never forget that proved to me (once again) how much my parents adore their daughter and that there is nothing they wouldn't do for me. She would call me and check on our status. She was determined. I would call her and she would be on the phone with my sixty-something year old uncle walking him through the steps... and it was past midnight! She called friends and family old and new from one coast to the next, probably you! I was just humbled and tickled by her and my sweet dad's efforts for me. These two are a power couple. There is no stopping them. At one point, it was getting late and we were all getting worn out and tired. Every time we would get ahead, our component would get some votes out of nowhere and come back on top. It was getting late and she just pulled another four votes ahead (that's a lot when you feel like you've already pulled out your big guns, and then some). I was on the phone with my dad and he was ready to throw in the towel and just go buy me a gift card. They then firmed up a family more of votes and we were back in the game. My dad called back, as enthusiastic as ever, telling me we were back in the game! It was the forth quarter and we were coming on full court press (or something). He was pumped and ready to do whatever it took to help his daughter win. They were so funny. I can't even tell you! You would have thought I was in my final run of an Olympic race with the support I had behind me!
The contest turned out to be incredibly exhausting. We did win... thanks to you all! Looking back, it was such a fun memory, with or without the gift card. I learned, once again, how loyal my parents are to us. They stand behind me 100% in whatever I'm pursuing. I'm one lucky girl, I tell you.
And about that gift card, Dan took me to Sephora yesterday and boy, that place will just entrance a girl. For one who wears bareMinerals foundation and a little Target mascara, I didn't even know where to start. I ended up being completely crazy and instead of getting some back-up foundation (the practical choice), I got some SMOKIN HOT fuschia lipstick that has pretty much changed my life. (More to come on that later. I think it deserves a post all it's own)
So after that introduction, I move on to my tribute to my mother.
I am strengthened every day by the fact that I come from a legacy of strong, faithful women.
My own mother is an angel to all who know her. She is everyone's best friend. She is a lighthouse to those in the dark. She is the warm, outstretched hand to those in distress. And above all, she is a fiercely loyal wife and mother to her husband and children. This is something she has taught me through example over the years. Always defend your family. Always speak highly of your family to others. Always put your role as wife and mother first. She would take on lions for her family. And by the end she would have them eating out of the palm of her hand. That's just her. Everyone loves her, whether it's someone who needs a mentor to be their surrogate mother figure or a customer service representative in Milwaukee giving her a discount and a rebate, just because they like her.
I am forever grateful for all my dear mother has taught me. I am following in faithful footsteps and am so incredibly blessed to have such a heritage of strong women before me.
That leads me to her mother. Her mother was the epitome of an angel on earth. She was soft-spoken and meek and loved her family dearly. She spent her life in quiet service and humble faithfulness as she served her family and stayed true to the Gospel. She taught my mother how to be a loving wife and mother, and those lessons have now been passed down to me and for that I am grateful.
My father's mother is a woman I admire in many ways. She not only was the most classy, beautiful woman who carried herself with grace and lit up every room she entered, she was unapologetically faithful and strong. She raised six boys and a girl, oftentimes without the help of her husband who was in dental school and the Stake President over an area that covered more than one state. She was remarkably strong and no-nonsense, yet she was poised and beautiful and always seemed to have her ducks in a row. She remained unwavering in her faithfulness to the Gospel she knew to be true. She loved her family with a passion and adored her husband, Garth.
But it goes back further than this. Both those women were preceded by women who were rocks of faith themselves. One particular woman who has truly impacted me is Elizabeth Simpson Haugh Bradshaw, my forth great-grandmother. She literally gave up every material possession and opportunity she had to follow the Prophet's call to go to Zion and trek across the bitter, forsaken cold of winter with her children (and without her deceased husband). Her story is one that I hold dear to my heart. I often picture this powerhouse of a woman standing on the bow of that ship in England with her arm held to the square and her children behind her, boldly testifying of the truthfulness of the restored Gospel. Her story is depicted in the stirring film, Ephraim's Rescue. You can read the biography of her, written by her granddaughter, here.
I am an heir to greatness from these beautiful women. How could I not move forward in faith as I embrace my role as a mother? How could I not think of these women and be empowered by their courage as I face my own challenges? I am a mother. The mothers who have come before have left me the greatest gift of their legacy. It is something I cherish and will never forsake. The faith of my own precious mother and my grandmothers past is an unseen power that strengthens me and gently encourages me along as I forge my own path and try my best to write my own story that can be added to theirs.