When I was 12, I started making lists in my journal. Lists of baby names I liked (10 or 20), and character traits my husband would have. Lists of things I needed to learn and the person I wanted to become so that I would be attractive to and worthy of the kind of guy I wanted for eternity.
I knew I wanted to be a teacher. I love to write. I wanted a degree. I was completely obsessed with all things music.
But my main focus was marriage and a family. I longed for these to the point of physical pain.
As a 12 year-old in my Young Women's youth group, I watched one of my leaders go though a serious car accident shortly after giving birth to her 5th child in 8 years. Her 7 year-old was killed, 8 year-old injured and in a body cast, the other children hurt. The other driver was one of her Young Women.
Not only did she continue to serve the large group of girls, but she used her service as an opportunity to teach us about forgiveness, and to testify of God's love for us, the eternal nature of family, and faith-filled, righteous motherhood.
She was everything I wanted to be, and her life and family were everything I wanted to have. She and her good husband strengthened each other and blessed those around them. One day as I watched her loving on her baby, with his little hands on her face and slobbery kisses, I vowed to myself that I would do whatever it took to have that kind of intimate love.
Her great sacrifices as my leader were a turning point in my life.
We moved to Utah when I was 14, and over the next 4 years NINE of the girls in our youth group became pregnant. (There were also several who could have become that way and were just really lucky.) I looked around, and felt that EVERYBODY was having fun but me. I was just a little Molly Mormon, missing out on everything, and watching my friends with their boyfriends and BABIES, which I wanted more than anything in the whole world.
At that time, one of my best friends was Becky. She had the same desires that I did, and helped me to keep my focus and happiness. We both fasted and prayed about our futures, and both received individual and undeniable answers and peace. It was invaluable to know her and lean on her strength. She was more than a friend, she was a sister.
(Oh, funny! I just realized that the leader's name was Rebecka, and then Becky was obviously a Rebecca--funny. Caboose got part of her name from them!)
Becky and I practically lived together, and one night as we giggle together at her house, we were talking about how much we look like each other (people always asked us if we were sisters.) We decided that we should be sisters, and that I would marry one of her brothers so that we could be.
We chose Paul, who was serving in Korea on a mission at the time. This became the family joke, and I was thrilled at the idea of becoming a member of such an amazing family. Becky is number 10 of 11 kids, and there are unbelievable amounts of grand and great-grand children.
Her mother was my "Other Mother" as a teenager, and I really did spend a lot of time at their home. Her mother Nadine, along with my mother, were huge examples to me of righteous womanhood, and I watched them both carefully. Someday I hope to become like them. (Little P got her name from them.)
Anyway, somehow I made it through High School, Paul came home from his mission, and I decided that the whole joke wasn't a joke anymore. The first time I saw him after he returned, I was picking Becky up for church. I walked into their front room. He was lying on the couch, reading his scriptures in his Sunday Suit. The heavens opened, angel choirs burst into song, and my heart flopped around like a newly caught fish.
I doubt that he even glanced up.
Anyway, it took a while for his family to convince him that we should date. By the third date, I KNEW in an undeniable way that this would be a good choice, that my Heavenly Father approved.
Oh, I was an 18 year old in love!!! (Freaky side-note: Nellie L is older now than I was then. Ouch.)
To make a long, long, story short: We dated, broke up, dated again, got engaged, and then married. (I had matured to a ripe 19 1/2 years old by then.)
It was the best choice I EVER made.
At the time, I thought that I was sacrificing, that there were no great men out there who were preparing as much, who wanted these things as much as I did. I was wrong. I wish I had done more.
Marriage and motherhood are difficult every single day, and full of disappointments. But it is also the happiest, most joyful, most fun, exhilarating, beautiful thing EVER!
I can't imagine life without him. Sometimes I just lay in bed at night and luxuriate in the knowing that he's there. He is the most Christ-like man I know. The longer and better I know him, the more I respect, love and admire him. He provides for our family in every sense of the word. I am so blessed to even know him, and yet I find myself sealed to him for eternity. Unbelievable. I am so blessed!
This is our 20th Valentine's Day together. Last night in bed I whispered, "Do you remember our first Valentine's Day?"
"I don't either!"
Must have been spectacular.
Tonight I am baking a turkey. We'll have pink mashed potatoes, heart Jello Jigglers, asparagus, squash, stuffing, etc...I'll set a red tablecloth sprinkled with candy hearts.
Side note: Just to follow up: I've stayed in touch with my YW leader--I pray that God just fills her life with blessings.
Becky continues to bless my life, and those around her. Her promised blessings have not all been fulfilled, but I know that they will, and I know that she has faith and trust.
My "Other Mother" is simply my Mother now, and I can't think of a sweeter blessing.
|Most of Paul's family|