Making Life a Bliss Complete

Honest and heartfelt stories and lessons about home, family, love, faith, and personal growth.

A joyful but difficult year

I remember the day I turned 22. It was only a couple months after my divorce was finalized, and a month after I had moved to North Carolina to live with my parents (along with my nearly 1-year-old son, Casey). At that point, I had been attending the LDS Singles Ward (congregation) in Chapel Hill, and had made a handful of friends. Some of them took me for ice cream that night, and I remember saying that I felt old being 22. As ridiculous as that sounds, I think I must have felt old because of all that had happened to me in my life up until that point.

That year was one of the hardest of my life, trying to figure out who I was again, seeing where I fit in and who would accept me, and looking for the path that would lead me out of my current, difficult situation.

I didn’t remember at that time that I was a beloved daughter of God, that He loved me no matter my circumstances, that I should be grateful for my experiences, and that I was indeed blessed. It took me a lot of time not to define myself by things I couldn’t control.

I may have felt old at age 22, but since then, as I have aged, I haven’t concentrated on getting older, but rather, getting wiser.

I am 33 today. Eleven years ago, I would have freaked out about turning this age. Honestly, though, these last 11 years have included some of the most important, difficult, and miraculous experiences of my life: finding an excellent job, dating and getting remarried, quitting the job I loved after having our first child together, having faith that my husband would survive a surgery that would remove a huge mass of his liver, buying our first house, bearing a son early and unexpectedly in the master bathroom at home, taking a leap of faith and taking steps for my husband to completely change careers by going back to school, and finally having our baby girl, though prematurely.

Those are only some of the experiences I will never forget for the rest of my life that have happened in the last 11 years. I can’t express how much each of those experiences means to me. They have each strengthened my faith in Christ, and helped me remember how much God loves me, and how much His hand guides my life, and the lives of my family members.

That being said, though, this past year has also been one of the hardest of my life. First, though, I must express how it has been one of the most joyful at the same time: I had the pleasure of planning for a baby girl to arrive in my home, and I got to deliver her, bond with her in the hospital, and then take her home and enjoy raising her. Eve has brought so much joy to our home, joy that we all truly needed. She has brought a tenderness to my boys that I didn’t realize they had.

Why was year 32 so hard, then? Well, during pregnancy, I gained more weight than I ever have, while trying very hard not to do so. Since having Eve, I have tried to lose weight, and was successful in losing 20 pounds, only to find out I just gained nearly all of it back on vacation. It has been so hard for me to lose my baby weight, and I often feel so gross. My confidence has been low. For a while, I gained some confidence back after finding a clothing line I felt beautiful in. But then, I found myself buying way too much, and that turned into a temporary shopping addiction that I had to work really hard to overcome. Thankfully, I have.

I also haven’t gotten a good night’s sleep at all this past year, not to mention I have also been busier than I have ever been in my life (hence why I never blog anymore). Having four kids is no joke, especially when you have two boys that fight all the time, and a baby girl, though precious, who wants you to hold her and give her attention all day long.

Being busy and sleepy leads to more eating as a way to cope with stress, doesn’t it? Well, at least it does for me. I think that is why I am having such a hard time getting healthy again.

I have been down quite a bit this year. I have never been one to be depressed. I am usually the type of person who is there cheering other people up and having a positive outlook on life. I can be that person still, but sometimes I find myself saying things I know aren’t true (like, I am the ugliest person on earth, for example) and I sometimes just cry and can’t deal with everything around me. Yes, life is hard right now.

The good thing is, that in moments of peace and clarity, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I know that I will eventually get healthy again, as I always do. I know that as my kids continue to get older, that they will grow out of some very frustrating stages. I know that my husband loves me (even when I irrationally think otherwise), and that he will be there for me through it all. Most of all, I know what I learned years ago, that I am a beloved daughter of God, that He loves me and wants me to have joy.

I pray that age 33 gets a little easier, but if it doesn’t, I know the Lord will help me endure what comes. I also know that through the lessons I learn, I can help others. I try to focus on the positives as much as I can. I have my beautiful family, my husband moving up in his career, loving friends and extended family, a good home and all the necessities of life, and most importantly, the gospel of Jesus Christ.

If any of my friends or family is struggling right now, just know that though I am also struggling, I am here for you. I am always willing to lend an ear, a hand, or an embrace.

Here is to another year. I look forward to what it will bring, good and bad. I know I can do anything with the Lord’s help, as can you.

Thank you for sharing!


  1. Anonymous

    Beautiful Mandy

    1. Mandy Al-Bjaly (Post author)

      Thank you so much for reading. 🙂

  2. Annia Huff

    I am sorry this year has been so hard. The year after I had Kate was similar. I really felt maxed out at 3 kids (including a baby that didn’t sleep!). Don’t forget to call on the people who love you when you need a break! We are there for you too.

    1. Mandy Al-Bjaly (Post author)

      Thank you for your mind reminder, Annia. 🙂

      1. Mandy Al-Bjaly (Post author)

        Kind, not mind, haha.


    I’m struggling to try to remember when I was 33.
    I know 49 hasn’t been a picnic for me so far. So much loss. So much trauma.
    But God … (and that’s the place in my Baptist church where hands go up in praise and feet hit the floor to do a little holy dance)!!
    God has helped me heal through every hurt and disappointment I have felt in the last five years in fact. He has given me patience where thought there would be none. He has given me inspiration when I thought that was impossible.
    I know he can encourage you too.
    You are beautiful. You are more than enough. You are fabulous.
    I love you.
    More than that, God loves you!!
    You are doing His work with your awesome family.
    And I know He’s pleased with the results.
    Keep inspiring!!!

    1. Mandy Al-Bjaly (Post author)

      Jada, I love you too. We don’t see each other much, but I always admire your strength, passion and faith. I am so sorry life has been so hard lately. I am inspired by your continuous faith. God is good and He lifts our burdens. You are beautiful and I thank you for your friendship. We need to meet soon.


    Your posts are always so genuine and uplifting with the added bonus of perfect timing for things or thoughts going on in my life. Thanks for always sharing. Prayers for you always, friends and thanks for letting me read your sweet testimony.

    1. Mandy Al-Bjaly (Post author)

      I miss you Stephanie. You’ve always been so encouraging kind to me. I am glad that my words could help you in some way. I will pray for you and your happiness. Much love.

  5.'Michelle Nicholas

    This is a beautiful sharing of your life! Thanks for doing so, and most of having the courage to tell your feelings. I love you and, I know personally I’m so grateful for that first day I attended church only to see you rush up to me and introduce yourself. You can’t even know how much that meant to me and how it felt to feel such love at that exact time that I needed it the most! I love you sweet friend, and thankful for your tender spirit and kindness every week I connect with you. Keep on that oh so wonderful Faith you have and being such a good Mom that I see you are every time we meet!! Hugs! M.

    1. Mandy Al-Bjaly (Post author)

      You are so sweet! I am so glad you and your husband moved here, and I hope it feels like home. You are so easy to talk to and so authentic. I always know I have someone to talk to when you are around. Thanks for your friendship! Much love!

  6.'Kaboni Gondwe

    Thank you for sharing you are amazing i wish I could know you more

    1. Mandy Al-Bjaly (Post author)

      That is so sweet. I think you are amazing too. I love reading your posts on Facebook. We aren’t too far away from each other. I am in Mebane. We should meet up sometime!

  7.'jad al-bjaly

    I am the luckiest man in the world, I will be there for you and with you through this life.
    Great blog Dear, love you

    1. Mandy Al-Bjaly (Post author)

      I am so blessed to have you by my side through it all. I love you.


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