Friday, April 30, 2010

"the choice" - chapter 2

"In which my prayers are answered...and I don't listen"

Matt and I fell hard and fast for each other. We worked together, went to the community college together and lived next door to each other. He was not LDS and was raised with very different standards than I was.

I wasn't worried though. I'd fix him.

It wasn't long before I'd taken him to church and introduced him to the sister missionaries. They met at my parents house and he was baptized after we'd been together for about 8 months.

During this time, I was struggling with my testimony and some bad choices I was making. I had no question about the truthfulness of the gospel but I didn't know if I was even remotely significant to God. I wasn't sure He was aware of me. It was Matt who pulled out my patriarchal blessing and showed me the first line. It said, unconditionally, that my Heavenly Father loved me and knew me. I was flooded with peace and knew that it was the truth. I began to take the necessary steps to return to full activity at church.

And began to change. My first year of college was ending and I finally knew what I wanted to do with my future. During spring quarter I took my very first photography class and I fell in love. I still wanted desperately to be a wife and mother, but I had found something that filled my soul in a different way. I found a creative outlet that was different than the music that had been my focus previously. I loved music, still do, but this was different. It was like breathing. I needed it in a way I'd never needed an activity or hobby before.

It was at this point that God took over for me. I think he realized that my lack of motivation was crippling my future and He'd better start nudging me along.

I received a letter from one of my HS friends, Krista. She had gone the way of most of my LDS HS friends and was at BYU. (I was completely anti-BYU...this will come up again later). I hadn't really stayed in close touch with my HS friends (I'm not so good at that) so this letter was a big surprise.

She said that she just felt a need to write this letter to me. In it she told me a story. She'd been dating a good, LDS guy for a while and he proposed. So she went home to pray about it. She asked Heavenly Father "will I be happy with him?" and she received a peace that she would. If I recall correctly, she told him yes, but still felt uneasy. So she went back to her knees and changed the question. "Is he the man I'm supposed to marry?" The answer was no, accompanied by peace so she broke up with him.

So here's where I decided to get tricky. I was unhealthily invested in Matt. I was determined to marry him for a variety of reasons but the biggest one was that I thought it would right some wrongs that I had done. So I thought to myself, I don't want to know if he's the right one. All I need is to be happy. I'm just going to pray and ask if I'll be happy with him. That's a good idea. I can live with that.

So I immediately hit my knees by the couch. I was gripping Krista's letter in one hand and all I asked was "Will I be happy married to Matt?"

I have never before or since then received an answer to prayer that was so strong and undeniable. There was no "still, small voice" involved in this answer. It was more like a loud, booming and determined voice. And it was NOT my voice, nor was it the answer I wanted. It was a definite and immediate "NO." There was no question where it came from and I knew then that my plans were not going to happen like I wanted...but I'm a teensy bit (okay, a lot bit) stubborn and I thought, I'll just give it time. Maybe the answer will change. Then I went and cried.

10 years later..."the choice" - ch. 1

Several of my friends have been recording the stories of how they met/fell in love with their spouse. I didn't think I really had much to say about mine because it was all such a whirlwind but the more I thought about it, the more I realized it was really quite involved and my kids might want to read it someday.

You can read it too, if you'd like. I'm an open book. :)

Chapter 1 - "In which I was prepared for the future"

Early 1997 ~ age 17
I was sitting outside the patriarchs home. I was there to receive my patriarchal blessing and my boyfriend was with me. Even then I was fiercely independent and I didn't want anyone present with me when I got my blessing. Not even my parents. I knew it would be recorded and they could read it later.

I left my boyfriend sitting in the car and went inside. I remember it vividly. I can see the one story house, the bushes lining the front of the house, the walk going to the door. I can see the pattern on the door and I remember the smells of an old persons home when the door was opened. I remember her smile and his handshake. I remember my nerves and how the instant he placed his hands on my head, the nerves subsided and I felt peace. I listened intently because I still wasn't sure. How could someone who didn't know me offer me a blessing with counsel to take throughout my mortal life? It was during that blessing, listening to those words, that I realized it was God, not him. The words came from above, from someone who knew me better than I knew myself and they were truth.

But there was a phrase that stood out. A phrase I didn't completely understand. "choose wisely", it said. "Choose wisely" the one who you will pledge your life and eternity to. The one who you will marry in the temple of the Lord. The one who will be by your side for eternity.

"Choose?" I asked myself. What about love? What about time and investment? How could there be a choice? I'd lived my whole life hearing the story of my parents. Fell in love as teenagers, wrote through my dad's mission and were married shortly after his return. Isn't that how it works? You marry the one you put the time and effort into. Right?

I suppose, looking back, I should have known. I liked boys. I was pretty sure I was going to marry pretty much every guy I dated and I didn't really spend much time without a boyfriend. Not only that, most of my closest friends were guys.

I lived in a smallish town without many dating prospects within my religion. I knew I wanted to be married in the temple but seeing as all the LDS guys around me were my friends and nothing more, I figured I'd have to just make sure my boyfriend got baptized first. I always thought I'd marry young and couldn't see very far beyond High School in my mind.

I'd been dating a nice, Catholic boy for my whole senior year. He was a junior and his best friends were my LDS guy friends. With all that exposure I thought for sure he'd join the church and we'd be fine. He even wanted to but his mom wouldn't allow it. He talked all the time about getting baptized at 18, going on a mission at 19 and marrying me after that.

I graduated High School and suddenly, I became stifled. I'm a spontaneous person and I couldn't breathe with all the planning of my future going on. I didn't know what I wanted (I've always been terrible at planning very far in advance) but I knew he wasn't it. Besides, there was this guy I worked with that had his eye on me.

Monday, April 26, 2010


I just spent a week in Hawaii for my 10th anniversary and it was heaven! My amazing mom took over my 4 hooligans for the week and Dave and I got to chill in Kauai without having to worry about our kids. Before we left Dave filled all my tupperware with water and froze it all and him and the kids made an ice castle. Random, right?

But they had a blast. (this is their "biggest popsicle ever")

The night before we left my older two kids were really clingy and Gabe was being hilarious and goofy. At one point he kissed his dad on the rear and said "Haha, Dad! I kissed your butt! But I love Mom better than you so I'm going to kiss her on the mouth!" and he ran over and gave me a smooch. Silly boy. Hugs, kisses, a few tears and we finally got them all to bed.

But THEN I got to spend a week talking to Dave, experiencing new things and taking pictures of everything I saw. Bliss, I tell you!

So....I do this thing with my kids called "happies and crappies." When I pick them up from school I say that and they tell me their best and worst parts of the day. So I now present to you my Kauai, HI happies and crappies list.

*A week with my sweetheart. It was so...quiet...but still so fun. When you have 4 kids you can really appreciate silence. It made it so we heard everything the other said. A bit of a novelty really. And we got a lot of "talk time" in.

*Location. I have this theory that some people are mountain people and some people are ocean people. Mountain people are usually quieter, more patient, more firm (aka stubborn), sometimes lazy but strong enough to take what comes their way. Ocean people are more outgoing, flighty, fun, and energetic but sometimes volatile or moody. I am a mountain person and Dave is an ocean person. Mountain people usually like mountains better and ocean people like oceans. So Hawaii, a mountain popping out of the ocean, is our perfect location. It had everything either of us could want.

*Rain. Gentle, warm rain that came and went pretty much daily leaving it always smelling fresh and yummy and that awesome rain sound.

*Clouds. The skies were a photographers dream. Lots of dramatic clouds with contrast and depth. Loved it.

*Birds. I'm not really a bird watcher or anything, but I appreciate them when I see them and I loved seeing (and hearing!) all these new birds. Dave was especially enamored with the chickens and roosters. I have a lot of pictures and videos of them from his point and shoot. (IMO, they were a novelty for about 5 seconds and then I remembered back to raising chickens and roosters as a teen and I got over it).

*Hiking. Probably my favorite part of the week was a hike to a bay and waterfalls that can only be accessed on foot. It was 8 miles of tough, muddy, rocky, muddy terrain but so, SO worth it. Something I wouldn't have been able to take my kids on.

*Church. If you're LDS in the western US you know that basically all the buildings are identical. So it was really fun to go to church in a building that was white with teal columns wrapped with flowers and sit in a chapel that was like a green house. It had 7 sets of glass doors that they closed when it started but then the power went out during the youth speaker so they opened all the doors and there was a gentle breeze flowing through and it was very quiet so we could hear the speakers. Perfect environment for a spirit filled meeting!

*The food. We ate the most delicious deep fried artichokes and fish (sword fish) and chips and a macadamia nut shake and lobster omlettes and light, flaky sweet bread pastries and a full on luau with all the trimmings. mmmmm.....

*Reading. I read 4 books that week.

*Taking pictures. We stopped everywhere so I could take pictures. Dave was a good sport about it. There was only one quip about me loving my camera more than him. ;)

*Flowers. So many beautiful flowers that I'd never seen before.

*Random weirdness. This makes me happy anywhere I go, not just Hawaii. But every now and then we'd come across something that was just deliciously odd.

*Just...being. Not having to worry about the kids or life or anything. It's been a long time since I've felt that sensation.

*A moment when a small prayer was answered. We drove up to a lookout point that was over 4000 feet above sea level on these terrible winding roads. We had spoken to someone at our condo the night before who called it the most beautiful place on earth. We were really bummed to get up there and find out we were above the clouds and our view was this.

So Dave said a quick prayer and guess what happened? Just in the spot where valley below us hit the ocean, the fog parted.

It was gone just long enough to get a few shots off and it came creeping back in. God cares.

*The flights. Normally I don't mind flying, but one was overnight which made for a very uncomfortable attempt to sleep. Next time I'll pay extra for a non-stop ticket.
Pretty view though. :)

*Snorkeling. Turns out snorkeling is not my thing. I learned that I only like fish if they're on a hook, on my plate or in a tank. I do not like them swimming by my face. In fact, I'm grossed out and slightly frightened by them. However...I bought an underwater disposable film camera so my practical side had to use up the film underwater. That night I came down with a painful case of swimmers ear. Dave made a midnight trip to the grocery store for rubbing alcohol and vinegar. Stuck it in my ear a couple times and the pain eased up and went away.

*The food. I know this was already in the happies list but we didn't eat awesome food all week. When we weren't eating delicious, expensive food, we were eating at the taco bell across the street from our condo. The first couple times were fine but then I was over it. I may never eat taco bell again.

*Money. We stayed on budget and didn't go into any debt. Dave Ramsey would be proud. Even I was proud and I had a wonderful time regardless. But....there are several things I would have loved to do that we couldn't afford.

*My motion sickness. We drove up to this fantastic canyon that would have been even better if I wasn't nauseous from the roads. That's one gene I could do without.
But again...view was worth it.

And now we're home. Refreshed, happy, content and ready to attack life again.

If you want to see all my pictures go to this gallery! For cell phone, point and shoot and underwater pics, head over to my facebook profile. :)


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Caterpillar love

"MOM, MOM! You're never going to believe this! A caterpillar ate a hole in this leaf!!!"

"I better put it back in case he wants to eat more..."

I love it when my kids discover things.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010


This year we combined our Easter celebration with April's birthday party. So, she came up to visit with her family and we all went to Rachel's for our traditional egg gravy and easter egg hunt. I do better with pictures than words, so I'll just start those now. :)

Toast and egg gravy. Yum! I at leftover for a couple days. Looking forward to having it again next year. :)

Various egg hunt shots.

The little girls would not get together for a picture. I just happened to notice them walking together to get this one. Yay!

My brothers-in-law with their new babies.

I think Gabe actually took this shot. What luck, eh? I love it!! (that's April giving Nathan a kiss while he ignores her)

It was a great day! Especially considering the day before was horrible weather and seriously cranky kids. Easter was a treat with the sunshine and the happier kids.

Oh, there are no pics of my kids with their Easter baskets because they got up at 3 AM to open them. I just remember shuffling out of bed and telling them to zip it or they'd wake the baby and to go back to sleep.