Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Big Black Bear at Big Log...

I was a little bent out of shape recently when MY niece and nephew (from my older sister) 'friend requested' my husband on Facebook and there was NO friend request for me. I didn't even know they were on facebook! Anyway, I started thinking about it and realized that at all our family get togethers he's out there playing football with all the kids or playing some other crazy fun game and I'm in the kitchen helping/visiting with my sister. I'm so lame. Now I know why they want to be his friend and not mine. Because he's super fun and I'm super lame. Last year my other niece (6 years old) couldn't remember Aaron's name at a family get together. Aaron saw her struggling after she was trying to remember the part after "Uncle." He didn't miss a beat and responded with, "that's Uncle Awesome." Now that's what they all call him.

Sooooooo, this summer I'm going to be better about spending more time with them instead of being that boring grown up who misses out on all the fun. So watch out Aaron because Aunt Awesome is stepping out!

Anyway, that has nothing to do with the bear but it was just on my mind and my thoughts are often random. Soooooo, Aaron, (being the awesome man that he is), see, that's where the 'awesome' tangent came from....took all 4 of my children backpacking this last weekend while I stayed at home and had a girls night with 2 friends who were visiting from out of state. I felt kind of lame missing a family backpacking trip but not bad enough to miss out on seeing my sweet friends who I've missed seeing so much.

Anyway, I can't believe this but he took them backpacking to Big Log which is a 5.2 mile hike-one way. My four little kids backpacked over 10 miles! I was seriously so impressed. They all had backpacks, even Lauren although hers was just a mini Hello Kitty backpack that held everyone's trail mix. (Well, she is the youngest, and a girl). The boys all carried their sleeping bags, pillows, pads and clothes in their own packs. What little studs. It seriously makes me so proud that they are such tough little troopers.

So ,the next day on their way back down they encountered a big black bear. They were very excited to tell me about it when they got home. I was not so excited to hear about it. Before they left I had offered Aaron my pepper spray (he makes me take it when I go running), to bring with him backpacking. "Just in case you see a bear," I said.
He, being the optimist, said they'd be fine and wouldn't need it.

Ironically there was a bear up there in the woods....imagine that. Lucky for them this bear was in a good mood....They encountered him as they were coming down the trail on the way back the next day. They were walking along leisurely when off in the distance down the trail Aaron spotted him. He stopped the kids and put them behind him. The bear didn't even know they were there because he was taking a little hike down the same trail. He waited for him to leave the trail but he didn't. So, from a safe distance they continued their hike and followed him down the trail being sure to make plenty of noise so that he wouldn't be startled by their presence. They sang primary songs loudly and banged on their mess kits trying to scare him off the trail but he was in no hurry to leave the path. So they ended up following him (from a safe distance of course) for over a mile. Crazy. But thankfully they were fine. Next time they are taking my pepper spray.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Buttercup Love

Fields in bloom with buttercups, the blossoms are running wild.
A windowsill of sweet bouquets, gathered by the hand of a child.

No sweeter sight could meet my eyes than to see their eager delight
revealing a bouquet from behind their backs, so beautiful in my sight.

A thoughtful note that warmed my heart after returning from a run.
The luckiest mother I feel I am to have such sweet, loving sons.

Dear Mom,
We all made
this crown to tell
you that we love you
and that you are the
Queen of our family!
Jacob, Joseph, Benjamin and Lauren

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Observations from a younger brother...

I found the following observations written in pencil on the wall next to Joseph's bed last night...

(Jacob was not happy Sunday evening. His baseball team had played in a game earlier that day and had lost. They were supposed to win but for whatever reason they had lost to this "easy" team and now they were out of the championships and the season was over. Jacob had chosen not to play in the game because it was held on Sunday. His younger brother Joseph found his tirade quite amusing. I found his observations quite humorous.)

1. Jacob hates his baseball team.
2. Screams at himself.

3. Said, "I don't know why I'm alive."

4. Breaths very fast.
5. Smacks himself.
6. Asks... "is there anything to destroy around here?"
7. Gets punished.

Tough like his Mama...

Most of you know we give our boys push-ups for punishment in our home. We've been doing this for several years. Currently the standing rule is 50 push ups for each and every instance of intentional provoking, teasing, rudeness or contention. It's probably comes as no surprise but with 3 boys there are a lot of push-ups being done around here. Just last week Joseph had to do 250 before he went to school. Lately they've been doing a lot better though. It seems that the more rigid I am on handing out push ups for these behaviors the more peace there seems to be in our home. Holding them accountable for their actions is leading them to exercise more self control in the way they act and react to each other.

Well, last week Jacob did something that made me very proud.....

He'd been given 50 push ups one morning after breakfast for something he'd done. His response to this was an enthusiastic, "it will be good practice for my cub-scout pack meeting!" This month's pack meeting was going to be a fitness challenge with one of the events being a push-up station. Usually I make the boys do their 50 push-ups in 2 sets of 25. But this morning, because he was "in training," he told me he wanted to do 50 in a row. I make them count them off as they do them. This is how it went....

1,2,3,4....all the way to 35 without any problems.

At 35 his pace slowed down. I could see that he was getting tired.

By the time he got to 40 he was struggling and I was worried that he might not make it to 50.

Amazingly he did.

When he reached 50 I expected him to drop to his knees. But instead of stopping I heard him breathlessly say:

"I'm going to do 55."
He made it to 55. Then he said:

"I think I can do 60."

He got to 60 and grunting under his breath I heard him say:

"I'm gonna do 65."

At this point his arms were shaking but he wouldn't stop. I waited to see what would happen next....

"My goal is 70.....I'm going for 70....(grunt),....I know I can do it... (more grunting)," he said.

When he reached 70 he dropped to the floor and smiled.

I love this kid. I love how tough he is. Not just physically but mentally too. Watching him through this ordeal I felt a close connection to him as I saw the strength of his spirit pushing past his pain to reach his goal. It made me feel so proud.

I've experienced this same struggle many times with the races I run. There are times in a marathon when I hit a wall and I feel my body tell me to surrender. But if I push past that pain I find an inner strength that helps me keep going. It's a very empowering feeling to know that your mind can conquer your body. Physically there's nothing that makes me feel more alive than to experience this kind of personal victory. I know that sounds incredibly dramatic but there's no other way that I can describe it.

When I'm in those moments during a race and I'm fighting that struggle to keep running or to stop and walk what keeps me going is to relate my physical pain to the spiritual & emotional struggles I've had in my life. In a race I often tell myself in my head, "dig in deep girl.... don't give up.... weather this storm.....endure to the end." When I refuse to surrender to the pain and do the very best I can without giving up (which may mean a dreadfully slow pace at times) I find an inner strength to keep going and not give up. I relate this to my challenges in life both past and present. Doing this empowers me to be strong and not to give up in the other parts of my life, not just during a race. My goal in every marathon I do is to run the entire 26.2 miles without stopping, and I've done it many times.

For me, there's nothing better than crossing that finish line at the end of a marathon and feeling that complete and utter sense of peace and relief knowing that it's over. It's done. It leaves me with an incredible feeling of peace and accomplishment. I imagine that's what it will be like at the end of my life if I've worked hard and done my best- regardless of the pain and struggles I've faced.

Seeing this same strength of spirit in my son when he wouldn't quit with his push-ups literally made my heart swell with pride. It gives me great confidence to know that when faced with challenges in his life he'll have the inner strength and stamina to push past the hard parts to reach his goals.

I wish that all of us could see how strong we really are. Running has taught me a lot about the potential each of us has. When I did my first 10K over 10 years ago I never thought that I would one day be running marathons. Doing a 10K was REALLY hard for me back then. But as I pushed myself to go farther I found that I was capable of so much more than even I realized. It's the same with our lives and who we are. 10 years ago you may have never guessed that you would be able to handle the trials and stresses you now face but you can and you are. When life throws you trials or challenges refuse to surrender. Your pace may slow dreadfully as you climb up that "hill" but as long as you don't stop it's okay. Just keep going and don't give up.

In my life, the inner strength to carry on amidst the trials I've faced has come from God. When I determine that I'm going to do my best and be my best no matter how meager of an offering that may be, I'm endowed with great power (an inner strength) to carry my burden with greater ease. Through His divine help I know that we can all find the strength we need to keep going and victoriously cross the finish line in our own life story.

*Jacob won the push-up competition at the pack meeting that night. He did 105 push-ups with no breaks. Needless to say I was one proud mama.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Joseph's Baptism

Joseph was baptized on Saturday, May 7th. He was very excited about this day and sent invitations to all of his friends and family including his entire class at school.

We had a special dinner & reception in our home that evening before his baptism. We showed this slideshow that I made for him chronicling his life from birth to baptism. It is always such a treat to look back and see how much your little one has grown. There are so many memories that you forget about until an old picture reminds you. Congratulations Joseph! We love you and are so proud of you for taking this important step in your life.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Joseph Turns 8!!!

For weeks I couldn't get Joseph to settle on a theme for his upcoming birthday party. Usually this is an easy decision for him. In the past it's always been very closely related to his current interests (Star Wars, Sports, Dinosaurs, etc.) But this year he was giving me nothing.

With only 10 days left until his birthday I pulled into the parking lot of Party City hopeful that a walk up and down the aisles would inspire him to choose something, anything. A short time later we emerged from the store empty handed. Joseph was in a funk that I didn't understand.

"Do you just not want a party this year? Is that what it is?" I asked him.

I thought that he had just been struggling to come up with a theme that wasn't too "babyish." But when he walked right past the TRON party display I knew it must be something else.

"No,I don't...... he said, I just want one with our family."

"You don't?" I was shocked. "Why didn't you say so?"

Almost immediately I felt my mind decompress at the possibility of not having to plan a party with all of it's attending stress, (sending out invitations, making party favors, planning games, treats, a second birthday cake etc. etc.)

"Are you sure?" I said, needing final confirmation.

Maybe this was why he'd been so indecisive. Maybe he was just growing out of this whole 'friend party' thing. Hallelujah, I secretly thought. My life just got a lot easier.

A few minutes later I heard him burst into tears from the back seat of the car.

"Mom," he said. "Do you know why I don't want to have a friend party?"

I was bewildered beyond belief, my curiosity peaked.
I listened...

"Because last year I had all my friends come over and no one would do anything that I had planned for my party. They all just left me and ran around outside and no one even payed attention to me, and it was my birthday."

My mind flashed back to last year's "Basketball party." He was very excited about this theme. We even bought a basketball hoop that I fixed up and Aaron sunk into concrete out in front of a poured cement pad. He had the whole party planned out with basketball games, Sports music CD playing while they shot hoops and then he wanted to eat pizza and watch "Air Bud." (which he had never seen but was very excited to watch.) The party did not go as planned, (you can see the link from last years birthday post here:

He ended up spending an hour of his party up in his room on his top bunk crying. I didn't know what had happened and no matter how I pleaded he wouldn't tell me why he was so upset. You can't force a kid to have fun at his own party so I just let it go and let him come down when he was ready. Anyway, it all made perfect sense to me now and my heart just ached for him.

So, this year we just had our normal family party on his birthday with Papa and Grandma and then on Saturday instead of having a friend party the plan was to have his best friend Hank come over for a fun day of doing whatever the two of them wanted to do.

Since Joseph didn't have a party theme I used some leftover hot pink streamers and balloons from a YW activity. They were perfect for him though because currently his favorite color is hot pink. It's a little alarming to Aaron and his Dad but it just goes to show you the quirkiness of our little Joseph. (I personally think he chose this color for 'shock value' more than anything else. He enjoys seeing people's reactions when he tells them his favorite color.)

Aaron called a few days before the weekend from work and told me that he'd been given 8 amazing seats to a Mariners game (from his boss) and so we thought we'd all go to that as a family. Turns out he really did want his friends there because he asked if Lauren and I could maybe stay home and have a girls night so that he could use the tickets to invite some more friends. Here is a picture of them at the game.

A week after Joseph's birthday I was asked by our Gospel Doctrine teacher at church to bring one of my children to class and speak for a few minutes at the beginning about some of their admirable qualities. I immediately thought of Joseph and the benefit that he would receive from hearing my publicly acknowledge his goodness.

Here were the things that I shared. I also thought it would serve well as an example of the young man that he is during this phase of his life.

Joseph at 8 years old

-Joseph has great faith. God and things of a spiritual, religious nature seem to always be in the forefront of his mind.

-Joseph is very service oriented. He wants to be helpful and almost always does his chores without grumbling. Sometimes when he's done he'll ask me if there are any "extra chores" or things I need done. He genuinely cares about helping out and does it in such a sweet and caring way. Sometimes when he can't sleep at night he'll come down and ask me if there are any extra chores I would like him to do.

-Joseph has a lot of courage and is a great leader. He is well liked among his friends and is in the "popular" group of boys at school. Earlier this year the ring leader of the group formed a club with 5 other boys (Joseph being one of them). Joseph's friend Hank was not allowed in the club and the other boys were teasing him and not letting him play with Joseph at recess. Joseph told the ringleader that he wasn't going to be in the club if they left Hank out. So for a whole week he played every recess with Hank until finally the other boys (wanting him to be in the club) relented and let Hank in too. I was so proud of him taking a stand against the popular kids.

-Joseph is very sweet and caring. Aaron and I will often find notes on our pillows with sweet sentiments. He will also make pictures for Lauren and make her gifts at school. Recently he spent almost all of his class earned points to buy a jumbo pack of play-doh for her. Another example of his caring happened at the beginning of the year. There was a new boy in his class that had just come to this school and he told me that every day during class he would lay his head down on the desk and cry. I talked to him about what he could do and the next day he told me that he asked the boy (his name is Ezra) if he would like to be his friend. The boy told him he "would think about it." I don't think that was the reaction he was expecting but I was very proud of him for reaching out to this boy and being so kind and caring.

Joseph is an amazing missionary. When I think of the scripture that says "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ...." I think of Joseph. Joseph has invited many of his friends to come to church with him. He doesn't just invite them but seems genuinely disappointed when they say they will be there and then don't come. One time he asked during the opening hymn if he could go out and check in the foyer to see if his friend was there because he had "promised" that he would come and he was worried that he wouldn't know where we were to sit by us. He has given out 2 book of Mormons to his friends since school started last fall and wrote a message to them on the inside over all on his own.

He asked if he could invite his class to his baptism and so we put an invitation in each of his classmates Friday folders. As a result of that 3 people from his class came including his 2nd grade teacher.

He also started reading the Book of Mormon this year and asked me one day if he could bring his
own copy to school so that he could read it during "read to self" time. He told me one day that he tried to get Aidan to read it during read to buddy time but "he wanted to read a joke book instead."

-Joseph is very generous and giving. He is so willing to give what he has to others. I have never seen him grudgingly share anything. He is eager to give what he has and is very generous in his giving. Just the other day Aaron asked for a bite of his ice-cream. There was only about 2 bites left in his bowl. When Aaron asked for a bite right as he was about to put it in his mouth, he lowered it from his mouth, scooped up a little more on the spoon and sweetly offered it to him.

Here are a few of Joseph's Favorite things at age 8....
Color- Hot pink
TV show- Star Wars The Clone Wars
Book- The Book of Mormon
Board game- Pictionary for Kids
Subject in school- Reading & Math
Best Friend-Hank
Dessert-Magic cookie bars
Things to do-Play basketball at home, play soccer with his brothers in the front yard, climbing rock walls.Candy bar- Twix

Other things about Joseph at 8
Mile Run time- 7:59
Chores he does (some daily and some regularly)- Bring goats in at night, take out the garbage, burn barrel trash, unload dishwasher, clean bathroom, fold laundry, organize the shoe closet, unload the step basket, clean his room, make his bed.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Because of You, Mother...

We can choose to remember the bad or we can recognize the good...

I did not come from a nurturing home. The majority of my memories involving my mother are not tender, loving or endearing. They are painful, hurtful and emotionally damaging. For many years the sting of these wounds stayed with me. For many years my judgement of her was harsh and unforgiving.

When I became a mother myself, I vowed that I would be nothing like her. From the moment I held my first baby in my arms, I put my whole heart into being the kind of mother I wish I’d had. As I traveled my own path of motherhood, I found myself less and less understanding of her. These feelings of love for my child were so powerful, it was difficult for me to understand why she didn't love me.

A few years later I found myself in a very difficult phase on my own path of motherhood. My 4 children were very young and their endless needs required all of my time and energy. At the end of my days I was exhausted and left with little strength. I felt much like a meager portion of butter being spread across a dry piece of bread. My stress level was high and my patience wore thin. There were many times that I became frustrated with my children and had to fight back the urge to angrily snap at them for doing childish things. But then I remembered my mother, and (not wanting to be like her) I tried my hardest to bite my tongue. Each time I felt that I couldn’t take the stress and the noise from all the crying, fussing, yelling and whining I remembered her. I vowed that I would not let myself become like her and I hit my own head against the wall instead of theirs. She was on my mind through it all.....keeping me from repeating her mistakes. And without condoning her, I grew to understand her.

In later years she sought my forgiveness for the things she did, stating “I did the best I could.” For a long time I felt that this was a lame excuse. But not anymore. After nearly 10 years of my own experiences as a mother, I have come to believe that she really did do the best she could. I do not condone her behavior, nor do I excuse it. But I nevertheless forgive her and have chosen to accept her and love her in my heart.

We are all imperfect as mothers, some more than others. We can choose to remember the bad things our mothers did or we can recognize the good. I may not have any tender moments or loving memories with my mother, but there is still a great deal of good that she did.
In recent months I’ve come to realize how much of what I do as a mother came from her influence and example. This is the good that she gave to me and on Mother's Day it is what I choose to celebrate.

For my Mother......

Because of you, I am a runner.
I remember seeing you many times as I rode the bus home from school. Through my window I’d spot you jogging along our old country road wearing your yellow polyester jogging suit with thin black stripes down the sides of the arms and legs.

Because of you, I read to my children.
When I was little I laid on your bed at nap time as you read me stories like Yurtle the Turtle, The Pickle Chiffon Pie and Petunia the Silly Goose. As I got older, you read books aloud as I sat behind you playing with your hair. The Hobbit, Amy’s Eyes and Tennis Shoes Among the Nephites were among my favorites.

Because of you, I cook healthy meals for my family.
Each morning at breakfast there was hot food on our plate. Eggs and oatmeal were not my favorite, but they are now. My lunch consisted of a whole wheat sandwich, an apple and a quarter for milk. You never gave me fruit roll-ups, potato chips or pudding cups. Just the basics my body needed for a foundation of good health. Each night you cooked our meals from scratch and made sure we had a meat, grain, and vegetable on our plate with a large glass of milk to wash it down.

Because of you, I read daily from the scriptures.
One of my earliest memories of the scriptures was seeing you read from the pages of your old, worn copy. The black leather was weathered, the pages were soft from being turned as you read intently, reverently and frequently.

Because of you, I volunteer at my kids school.
I was always so proud when you would come to volunteer in my class in elementary school. Many of the kids would tell me how pretty my Mom was and it made me so proud. Having you there made me popular among my friends. One time a kid was teasing me and another kid intervened and told them to leave me alone because “I had a cool mom.”

Because of you, my children take piano lessons.
We always had a piano in our home even though you couldn’t afford to pay for lessons. I learned by hearing you play and knew that when I became a mother my children would take piano lessons and learn to play as well.

Because of you, I decorate my home.
You sewed curtains, painted walls, stuffed pillows and hung flower boxes with red geraniums from the outside windows of our old farm home. On a limited budget you decorated our house and turned it into a home.

Because of you, I manage the money in our household.
How many times did I see you upstairs at that desk punching numbers into that silly adding machine amidst frequent groans as you balanced the checkbook. When I’m at my computer paying my bills online I remember you and smile.

Because of you, I am grateful for my dishwasher and dryer.
Countless times I saw you hanging clothes on the clothesline outside and upstairs in the hallway along the bannister rail. For years you washed dishes by hand in that old farmhouse sink cooped up in a tiny kitchen away from the rest of the house. Every load of laundry I throw in the dryer, and every dish I place in the dishwasher, I am grateful because I remember you.

Because of you, I am a Mother.
You never earned a college degree or held a full time job and yet when anyone asked you what you did, you never hung your head, but responded graciously and with pride, “I am a Mother.”
And now, I do too.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Our Love Story

Picture taken by Shannon Morgan Photography

When I was a young girl I remember my mother once telling me:

"Andria, you never know when you'll meet the man you're going to marry. Your car could break down on the side of the road and he could be the stranger that stops to help," she said.  It's funny to me that she said that. Funny because that's almost exactly how it happened. Only it wasn't my car that broke down it was my motorcycle...

It was September of 1997. I was serving in the military stationed near Pearl Harbor on Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii.
I'd arrived only a few weeks before and was living in the single/enlisted barracks on base. My household goods shipment had arrived the day before and in this shipment was my passport to freedom. My motorcycle.

Well, I called it a motorcycle but really it looked more like a moped. Technically speaking it was a 1968 Honda 90. I'd driven my little moto all over my southern California neighborhood back in high school and now my little motorcycle was joining me on my journey in the Air Force.....

-Chapter 1 -
A Helpful Stranger

"Great!" she thought. "It won't start. Now what am I going to do."

She looked around for anyone that might be able to help but the dorms were like a ghost town this early in the morning. She tried reconnecting the battery cables and checked to make sure it had gas. She'd even hit the engine a couple times with a wrench. Nothing. It just wouldn't start. A wave of disappointment came over her as her plans for the day slowly crumbled in her mind.

"I'll have to call my Dad." she thought. "Maybe he can tell me how to fix it."

Frustrated, she headed back to her room to make the long distance call.
Just as she reached the stairs she saw a guy walking over to a row of motorcycles parked on the other side of the lot. The thought crossed her mind to ask him for help.

"If he drives a motorcycle, maybe he knows how to fix them." she thought. "Maybe it's something simple that I overlooked." She approached the stranger cautiously as he was putting on his helmet and gloves.

"Um,... excuse me..... Do you know anything about motorcycles? My bike won't start." she said.

He looked at her through his visor. There was a twinkle in his eye as he stepped away from his bike and took off his helmet..

"It's over there," she pointed.

He followed her over to the other side of the parking lot and tried a few things on her bike but still it still wouldn't start.

"Let me go get my tools," he said, "I'll take a closer look."

With that, he turned and headed toward the stairwell to go back up to his room. She waited patiently, enjoying the beautiful Hawaiian morning. The sunlight streamed down through the branches of the trees. The dew still glistened on the grass. After a short time he returned.

She tried to look interested while he fiddled around with the engine. "Your battery is dead," he said. "Do you have a charger?"

"No,.... I don't." she answered.

He looked down at his watch, then back up at his room. Without a word he knelt down and disconnected the battery from her bike.

"I've got one up in my room. How about I put it on my charger for a few hours and when I come back I'll hook it up for you."

A look of relief swept over her face as she smiled at him gratefully.

"Thank you." she said.

With that, he grabbed the battery and left as she gathered her things and headed up to her dorm room to wait.

She saw him next a few hours later, working on her bike in the parking lot. She headed down the stairs to join him.

As she approached him, he looked up at her and asked, "How long has your bike been sitting?"

"About a year", she replied. "I was stationed in Texas before I came here. It was parked back home at my parents house while I was away."

"That's what I thought. he said. "Your battery is toast. You'll have to buy a new one."

There was a long pause as she racked her brain wondering how or where she was going to get a new battery.

"There's a Honda shop right off base." he offered. "I can take you there if you want."

"Uhhhhh," she stammered.

It felt foolish to accept a ride from a complete stranger. But what else could she do?

"Alright." she finally said.

He wrote down the model number of the battery and pointed to the other side of the parking lot. "Go get your helmet on, I'll meet you over by my bike."

She ran up to her room and grabbed her helmet and jacket. Before she left she roused her sleeping roommate.

"Amber." she whispered. "I'm going off base to get a battery for my bike. Some guy is giving me a ride over there." Her roommate mumbled a sleepy response.

She'd never ridden on the back of a motorcycle before. This was one of those racing bikes too. The thought of going fast scared her but she tried to put it out of her mind. He started the engine as he gave her instructions on passenger basics:

"You'll have to put your arms around my waist" he said. "Don't flinch or jerk around when we go into a turn, just trust me and move your body with mine." He paused a moment seeing the nervousness in her eyes. "If I'm going too fast for you just tap me on the shoulder and I'll slow down." he added.

Those were his final words.

With that, he mounted the bike and revved the engine. She awkwardly placed her hand on his shoulder and hoisted herself up wrapping her arms around his waist. He was strong. She hadn't noticed before but she could feel the firmness of his body when she touched him. She blushed with a little excitement, feeling nervous and a bit reckless. He backed up the bike then moved forward slowly out of the lot. As they approached the road he sped up a little unexpectedly. Her helmet bonked into the back of his. Embarrassed, she yelled out "Sorry" but it was drowned out by the sound of the engine.

A short ride later they were at the Honda shop. He found the right battery then walked with her to the register. After she paid they got back on his motorcycle and headed back to base.

In no time he had her new battery charged and connected to the bike. She thanked him sincerely after he successfully started up the engine.

"Hey" he said. "Are you going to take this thing off base?" "I don't think you should drive it on the freeway."

She felt a little defensive of her bike but she knew he was right. The fastest it had ever gone was 60mph and that was driving down hill with the wind at her back.

"If you ever need to go somewhere off base, like the mall, just let me know and I can give you a ride," he offered.

"Thanks," she said.

He nodded then paused for a moment before walking away.

"Can I ask your name?"

"Oh,... uhhh, it's Andria," she answered. "What's yours?"

"I'm Aaron, Aaron Laws."

-Chapter 2-
Motorcycle Man

Weeks went by before she saw him again. She was eating dinner with her roommate at the dining hall on base. As she slurped up her peaches she noticed a guy sitting alone a few tables away. He was sweaty and wearing a sleeveless shirt. She could tell he'd just been working out. He seemed comfortable sitting alone. Other guys around him were talking loudly at nearby tables as they watched the game on the big screen TV. He looked up from his food and saw her watching him. Quickly she looked away bringing another spoonful of peaches to her lips. There was something familiar about him. She couldn't quite place it. She searched her mind for a few moments without success then looked up again stealthily glancing in his direction. At that same moment he looked up too. His blue eyes locked with hers and a familiar twinkle gave way to a warm smile. He nodded his head and lifted his hand from the table in a casual wave. Her heart did a little somersault as her cheeks flushed a warm pink. Now she remembered.

"Amber," she whispered to her roommate a moment later. "Do you see that guy sitting over there in the corner? He's the one that helped me fix my motorcycle."

Amber looked up from her food and casually glanced behind her pretending to look at the clock on the wall.

"Girl", she said in her Latino accent. "That boy is fine."

"You think every guy is cute," Andria replied.

"No I don't," she said defensively. "How come you never told me he was hot."

"I don't know," she said, "I guess I didn't really notice."

A moment later he got up and walked past their table on his way to leave.

"How's your bike running?" he asked.

"Uh, good." she answered, trying not to blush as he looked into her eyes.

"Thanks again for fixing it." she said.

"No problem." he replied turning to leave. "I'll see you around," he said.

After that day, she did see him around. A lot. She saw him at the chow hall at mealtimes. She'd see him in the hallway coming back from the laundry room. She saw him going out to his motorcycle when her VanPool brought her home from work. Sometimes she'd smile and say hi. But usually they'd just exchange friendly glances.

Then, one day coming home from a swing shift, her roommate met her at the door.

"Hey,... your motorcycle man came by today."

"What?" she said.

"Yeah he came by twice......I told him you weren't getting off work until 8pm. I'm pretty sure he'll be back."

"What does he want?" she asked nervously.

"I don't know. He said he had a question for you."

Quickly she changed out of her uniform and put on her running clothes. Maybe if she was fast enough she could take off for a run before he arrived. She grabbed her Walkman and reached for the door just as a knock pounded from the other side.

She looked around at her roommate helplessly.

"Just open it," she said.

She waited a moment then opened the door.

"Hey," he said. "How's it going?"

"Good." she replied.

She walked through the doorway closing the door behind her. "I'm heading out for a run" she said, plugging in the headphones as she placed them in her ears.

"That's actually what I wanted to ask you," he began. "I see you running on base all the time and was wondering if I could join you. I've been meaning to get more cardio into my workouts but I hate treadmills."

"Sure." she answered.

"Are you going now?" he asked.

"Uh, yeah. But I'm running out to Hickam Harbor. It's kind of far,.... for most people.

"I think I can handle it." he said with a smile.

From then on he joined her for a run once or twice a week. And while they ran, they talked. And as they talked she learned more and more about this motorcycle man.

He was a computer network engineer. He'd joined the Air Force just a few months before she had. He'd picked his specific career field before he came in knowing it would be a good career for him when he got out. He'd planned to get his degree in computer science while he was enlisted and was currently taking classes at HPU after work.

She was impressed by his drive and ambition. Most of the guys she'd met in the military only seemed interested in drinking and partying. The more she learned about him the more she liked. Soon a mutual respect and friendship began to grow.

A few weeks went by. One day she was on the stairmaster at the gym when she saw him lifting weights on the other side of the room. She hoped he didn't see her. She looked down at her magazine pretending to read. For her entire workout she'd catch herself stealing glances at him while he worked out. She felt incredibly guilty watching him with such pleasure. He was handsome, and strong and she could feel herself growing more and more attracted to him. She distracted herself, turning the pages of her magazine until she found an article worth reading.   She knew they could never be anything more than friends.

But he didn't know that. And it wasn't long before he'd asked her out on a date.

"Do you want to go to a movie sometime?" he asked one day coming back from their run.

"I can't," she said, I'm working a set of mids."

"Well, when you're done with mids let me know and we'll go."

"Okay," she lied.

She knew she'd never go out with him. But she didn't have the courage to say it to his face.

A few days went by.

"Hey, your motorcycle man keeps coming by looking for you." her roommate teased.

"Yeah,... he wants to go to a movie."

"Then why don't you go?" she asked

"Because that would be a date and I don't date guys that don't go to my church."

"Oh brother! She moaned. You've got to be kidding me!"

She knew her roommate wouldn't understand, and that was okay. She didn't expect her to.

For the next week she purposely avoided him, hoping he'd forget about the movie, but he didn't. One evening as she was heading out to her bike he was coming back from the dining hall.

"Hey,"he said. "I thought you said you were working mids?"

She was caught. Now he'd know she was lying.

"Are you trying to avoid me?" he said with a smile.

"Uh,... No," she lied again.

"Yes you are," he answered back. "We don't have to go to a movie you know, I'd actually like to take you to dinner. Would that be okay?"

She sighed and turned to face him. She knew she'd have to tell him sooner or later.

"Well, it's just that,... you're not really my type." she said cautiously.

"What do you mean?" he replied.

How was she supposed to explain this to him? She paused for a moment before responding.

"I don't date guys outside of my religion."

There, she'd said it.

He raised an eyebrow, a little surprised to be rejected in this way.

"You're discriminating against me because I don't go to your church?
  "I believe in God." he said.

"That's not enough," she answered. "You wouldn't understand." She put her helmet on and started up the engine. "I'll see you around."

She left him standing there in the parking lot as she drove off down the road.

-Chapter 3-
Caught in a Storm

"Can you give me a ride somewhere?" she asked one day.

"Sure, he said. "Where do you want to go?"

"I need to go to BYU Hawaii, it's in Laie on the north shore," she said.

"Wow, that's quite a drive. Why do you need to go all the way over there?

"I need to buy something at the bookstore on campus."

"Must be pretty important," he said.

"It's a set of scriptures. I need them for a friend of mine from Texas. He was just baptized and I want to get him a set for Christmas."

"Okay," he answered quickly. "How about this Saturday?"

" That would be great. Thanks," she said. " I owe you."

Saturday arrived and she hopped on the back of his bike for the long ride to Laie. She had no idea how far of a drive it was going to be. After a while her back started to ache. She shifted uncomfortably on her seat trying to keep the circulation flowing in her legs. He pulled over when they got to the north shore.

"This is Sunset beach, he said. "This is where they hold those big surfing competitions. I was out here a while ago with my roommate watching them, it was pretty cool."

" That's neat," she said.

"Here, let me get a picture of you. You can send it home to your parents" he offered.

"Thanks," she said.

She crossed her hands in front of her and smiled as he snapped the picture.

"I'll take one for you now." she said reaching for his camera.

"Okay," he said. "Thanks."

They got back on his bike to continue their drive. She hoped they'd be getting there soon. This winding 2 lane road seemed to go on forever.  After a few minutes she saw a sign for Laie. 35 more miles. This was going to be a long ride. She tried to distract herself from the thought as she felt the discomfort settle in again. Her back ached from leaning over so she tried to sit more upright in the seat. But after a while that made her sore too. Taking her gloved hands off his waist she scooted back on her seat then pushed down on what her fingers thought was the seat in front of her. Doing this she was able to hoist herself up in a semi standing position. It felt good and brought the circulation back to her rear. Little did she know that the "seat" she was grabbing to hoist herself up on belonged to him.

When they finally arrived. He pulled into the parking lot on campus and dismounted from his bike. Taking off his helmet he looked back at her with a crooked smile.

"You kind of surprised me back there," he said.

"What?" she answered.

"I didn't know you were that kind of a girl." he said with a hint of sarcasm.

She looked at him with a perplexed face. Genuinely confused by his comment.

"When you goosed me back there," he revealed. "That kind of surprised me."

Suddenly it all connected.

Utterly horrified she realized that the firm seat in front of her was his rear. She grew hot with embarrassment.

"I, ....I'm so sorry, she stammered. I thought I was pushing on the seat."

"That's okay," he said with a wink. "I kind of liked it."

This made her even more embarrassed. She ran into the bookstore, not knowing what else to say or do. He followed after her.

When she'd found the right scriptures she brought them to the register and paid for them. After that they grabbed a bite to eat before heading back out to the parking lot.

"Those clouds look dark." he said. "We might get rained on."

She looked up at the sky, nodding in agreement. She only had on a light jacket and he only had a thin flannel shirt.

The sun was setting as they left the parking lot. Soon the sky grew dark with black clouds. He increased his speed as he hurried home trying to beat the storm. But soon the rain fell, whizzing by them in torrent sheets. It wasn't long before they were both soaked.

It was dark now, and she was getting cold. They were 20 miles from home but it may as well have been 100. Shivering under her wet jacket, she tightened her arms around his waist then slid up closer to him on the seat, pressing herself to his body for warmth. She knew this surprised him by the way he moved in return. But it didn't matter to her. Everything was dark and wet and she was freezing cold. Soon her head was resting on his back. The glare off the road from the oncoming headlights blinded her. She closed her eyes, not needing to watch the road. She trusted him to bring her safely home .

In the darkness all she could feel was the warmth of his body pressed against hers. She felt strangely comfortable and safe. In that instant she found herself slipping into the romance of the moment. She let her thoughts travel with no reservation to a place where she'd previously never gone. In her mind she imagined that he was just a boy and she was just a girl with nothing keeping them from being together. Nothing in her way to stop her from loving him. This sweet, kind guy. So handsome, so strong. He'd been so helpful and protective of her these past few months. How could she not be attracted to him? She knew she'd never let herself really love him but for this moment she allowed herself to swim in the romance of these passing thoughts.

The next morning, Aaron was helping a friend work on his car out in the dorm parking lot. He wiped the grease off his hands as he saw her approaching.

"Where are you going?" he asked, "You look nice."

" I'm going to church," she said as she saw her ride pull up.

"You go every week?"

"Yeah, she replied."

Can I come sometime?

"Sure,.... If you want," she answered as she opened the car door.

He smiled as he watched her get into the car. She waved goodbye as the car drove away.

-Chapter 4-
Making his Move

A few months later she ran for Dorm council President. Not because she cared about the dorms but because the president got her own dorm room and she was tired of her roommate bringing home drunk Marines that spent the night on her floor. She won the election and Aaron (who had run for vice president) won too. Soon they were seeing even more of each other as they worked together with the dorm manager and council members at their meetings.

One day after a dorm meeting they walked over to the chow hall to get dinner. As they walked together across the lot her hand brushed past his.  He reached out and caught her hand in one fluid motion.  She nearly pulled it back, embarrassed at this forward motion, but she couldn't. It felt so warm and comfortable. She decided to let him.

Later that night when he walked her back to her room he asked her a question.

"Hey," he said. "I'm kind of confused."

"What do you mean?" she asked innocently.

"What am I to you?"

"You're my friend," she replied.

He paused, obviously disappointed by her answer.

"You mean you don't feel anything more for me?"

"No," she lied.

"Well, do you think I could ever be more than a friend to you?" he continued.

Now this was starting to make her uncomfortable.

"Well," she paused, "No."
She'd answered him honestly. She knew she'd never let it turn into more.

"Why not?" he asked in pleading tones.

"Because I can't date you...... You're not what I'm looking for in a guy."

"Oh," he remembered. "The church thing right?"

"Yes," she said.

"Well what if I joined your church, then would you date me?"

"You don't understand," she said. " It's not like that. You can't just join a religion for me."

"But what if I wanted to?"

She shook her head. Frustrated that she had to have this discussion.

"I have plans for my life." she said. "Goals..... things I've been preparing for since I was a little girl." She went on, knowing he wouldn't understand but she needed to get it off her chest.

"I want to be married in the temple, to a priesthood holder, a returned missionary." she stated.

He looked at her with confusion, not understanding what on earth she was talking about.

"Never mind," she said.

"Why won't you give me a chance," he said. "Why are you discriminating against me because I'm not part of your religion?"

She tried to explain but nothing came out right.

In a last attempt he looked at her and said, "How do you know that God isn't looking down right now and saying: 'He's the man I want you marry'."

The light over her door had burned out and she was glad. The darkness hid her impulsive reaction as her jaw dropped in shock.

How on earth could he possibly think he'd be the man I've waited for my whole life. The nerve of him!

She grew hot with contempt.

When she didn't respond, he ended with a final blow: "I feel like the popcorn around a present you got for Christmas." he told her, "Like I'm just here to pass the time until you meet your prince charming."

She paused before responding, reflecting upon what he'd said. That was exactly what she was doing-using him to pass the time until she met "Mr. Right." She had no intentions other than to enjoy the pleasure he gave her while in his company.

Suddenly she realized how unfair she'd been. She'd been using him. He was good for her ego. This handsome guy, taking care of her. Driving her around the island, always at her beckoning call for anything she needed. It felt nice to have him pursuing her but she knew in her heart she'd never return the affection in the way he wanted.

"I'm not going to give up," he said. "We're meant to be together, I know it."

She was impressed by his persistence, but didn't want to encourage him.

"You should give up," she said. " You'll only be disappointed." With that she went inside her room and quietly closed the door.

-Chapter 5-
A Dream Come True

A few days later she had a dream. She dreamed that she was at church with Aaron and he was saying the sacrament prayer over the bread. She was awakened from her dream by a knock at the door. She looked at the clock it was 12:16pm. She had just got off a mid shift at 4am. The room was dark from the drawn blind. She fumbled around for the lamp switch. Grabbing her robe she went to the door and opened it.

It was him.

"Good morning," he said. "Did I wake you?"

"Yeah, but that's okay, I needed to get up anyway."

"I was headed over to the chow hall for lunch, do you want to come?"

"Okay, give me a minute to change my clothes," she said.

When she opened the door again she saw his smiling face. She was reminded of her dream and thinking aloud she said, "I just had a dream about you."

"You did?" he asked with interest. "What was it about?" There was a twinkle in his eye.

"I dreamed you came to church with me."

After she said it she felt a little silly.

He turned to look at her with a serious face.

"Do you want me to come to church with you?"

His sincerity surprised her.

"Only if you want to," she said.

"Okay. I'll go this Sunday."

For three weeks he came every Sunday and genuinely seemed to enjoy it.

"I've never met so many nice people," he told her after church the first week.

She'd talked to the missionaries previous to him coming and told them not to bother talking to him.

"He's probably just coming because he wants to date me." she told them. " I don't think he's really serious about learning our beliefs."

Then one Sunday evening a few weeks later her phone rang. It was the missionaries. Over the next few minutes they pleaded with her to let them approach him about taking the discussions. "He really seems interested," they said. "You should have heard the questions and comments he made in Elders quorum today."

"All right." she said. "Go ahead and ask him."

The following week he had an appointment set for his first discussion.

"Will you come with me when I meet with the missionaries?" he asked.

"Of course." she said.

Three discussions went by and she attended each one. It was surreal hearing them teach him the things she'd grown up believing all her life. But what was even stranger was how he was accepting these teachings so sincerely and with such genuine interest.

Not long after that he came to her door with some news he'd been waiting to share all day.

"I'm getting baptized next month," he proudly stated.

She wasn't surprised.

"He's golden." the missionaries would tell her. "He's so ready."

"Congratulations," she said, genuinely happy for him.

The morning of his baptism arrived.  She could hear the rain falling outside her dorm room when she awoke.  A wave of disappointment fell over her.  She wanted this to be a special day.  Rain was not in her plans.  A thick storm cloud hung over the island making it much darker than it should have been for that time of morning.  Aaron put the top and doors on his jeep so they wouldn't get wet on the drive over.  They'd planned to have his baptism at Bellows Beach on the other side of the island.   20 minutes later when they got through the tunnel on Pali Highway they noticed off in the distance a small ray opening in the clouds where a beautiful ray of light was bursting through.  They joked that maybe their prayer had been answered.  

With each mile they drove the break in the clouds seemed to widen and they realized it was in the same direction they were traveling.  The closer they got the more their hearts were warmed as they realized that in fact the break in the clouds was perfectly positioned over Bellows beach.

"Thank you Heavenly Father," she said  softly as a tear fell from the corner of her eye.

Dressed in white he stood on the soft, cool sand. The morning light glistened on the waves as they approached the waters edge.

As they waded out to a deeper spot a prideful thought entered her mind, "Another baptism Andria,... this is becoming quite a trend." She remembered the young man in Texas who'd also been baptized. No sooner had this thought entered her mind then the spirit reproved her sharply.... "This is our Day," the voice sounded in her mind. "This is between me and my son."It came so strongly, she felt ashamed thinking that this had happened because of her. She'd been chastised, and rightfully so. This was not about her. How selfish and arrogant for her to think so.

She watched him out there in the water standing next to Elder Woodward. The sunlight streamed down upon them. The missionary's hand raised powerfully to the square as he proclaimed the words to the baptismal prayer. As he rose from the water she was immediately flooded with a wave of emotion. The spirit washed over her bringing a feeling of love and peace. Unexpected tears streamed down her cheeks. This was one of God's sons. A faithful man who was taking a very important step in his life. He wasn't doing this for her. She may have been the motivation to listen, but his conversion had nothing to do with his feelings for me. It was a startling and humbling realization.

When he came out of the water she saw him in a new light. A newfound respect grew in her heart and she began to see him for the man that he was. A man that she was growing to love.

-Chapter 6-
A Growing Romance

He'd planned their first date down to the last detail. But more importantly he'd planned that before the night was through he was going to kiss her.

He'd requested a table right on the water and timed their dinner reservation so the sun would be setting over Waikiki beach as they ate. It was perfect.

After dinner he suggested they take a walk along the water. They left their shoes hidden in the sand and walked under the twinkling lights of the waterfront hotels. The sand felt soft and cool beneath their feet. The sound of the tide breaking in the distance and the rush of the ocean echoed in their ears. They walked for a while, hand in hand down the beach. When they reached the long pier that stretched out over the water, he suggested they walk to the end. It had been a wonderful night. Perfect...romantic.

As they reached the end of the pier she paused for a few moments looking out at the water. He'd tried to kiss her weeks ago but she'd artfully dodged his advances.  She turned back toward the beach thinking that they'd head back down the beach but he had other plans...

When she turned to walk away he pulled back on her hand and tightened his grip.  She turned to face him and with one fluid motion he pulled her into his arms and pressed his lips to hers. Her body tightened in surprise, then relaxed in his arms as the warmth of his kiss spread through her body.

He'd kissed her, and he'd kissed her good.

The whole walk back she blushed every time she thought about it.

She was falling in love with him.  Unable to resist him any longer she opened her heart and let it happen.

In the months that followed they spent all their time together.  They hiked to Sacred Falls on her birthday where he gave her a locket with their pictures inside. They snorkeled with sea turtles on the north shore, ate hamburgers at The Shack on their way back from Hanauma Bay. Boogie boarded at Makapu'u and went shopping at the Ala Moana Mall. He attended church with her each week as the conviction to his new faith grew stronger each day.

Months went by, things were getting serious. She knew his intentions.  She'd known all along.  He wanted to marry her and one by one he was climbing over the hurdles she'd placed in his path. There was one more hurdle left, and he knew it. After his baptism he'd learned that he'd need to wait a year before he'd be worthy to take her to the temple.  It's what she'd always wanted, and he knew how determined she was to reach her goals.

It killed him to have to wait a whole year to be with her, but he knew she was worth it, and he wasn't about to give up now.

So, he waited.

-Chapter 7- Decision Time

She was grateful for the time. Grateful that she had months before she had to think and pray about this decision. She'd been enjoying this new romance. Enjoying how it made her feel. It was unlike anything she'd ever felt.   She'd been in love before but it had never been so deeply or completely.

She knew she loved him but there was a part of her that still didn't know what to do.

All of her life she'd dreamed of the man she would marry. She'd even gone as far as to write down a list in her journal of qualities she'd wanted him to have. She'd set goals for herself trying to live a good life so she'd be worthy of such a man. Through the years she'd made some revisions to this list, adding qualities that past boyfriends had lacked, but at the top of this list there were things that had never changed. Things that (as a convert), he could never be.  The problem was that despite everything he was, he didn't fit the cookie-cutter ideal she'd created in her mind of the man she promised herself she'd marry and this led to a growing confusion over what to do.

She felt torn. Torn between two possible decisions, with each potential outcome she felt she stood to lose.

If she did marry him she'd have to give up her pride and let go of that "ideal" in her mind. This would not be easy to do. She'd come from a family that had placed a great deal of importance on outward appearances and although she knew it was wrong, she still placed a great deal of importance on those outward "signs" of worthiness. Her oldest sister, (who she'd always looked up to), had married the son of a stake president, an Eagle scout, a returned-missionary. She knew if she married Aaron she wouldn't have any of those "titles" following after his name. She wanted those things, not just for her own security but to satisfy her vanity and pride. She felt she deserved them.

And then if she didn't marry him she knew her heart would truly break. She wanted more than anything to be with him. In all other ways he perfectly fit her ideal of what she was looking for in a man.

She wrestled with this problem for weeks. She knew she must decide but as hard as she tried she couldn't make this decision on her own.

One night on a midnight shift at work, she grew increasingly troubled with this dilemma.  It was a quiet shift with not a lot going on so she escaped from her duties on the operations floor, to study her CDC's in the pit. It was quiet down there, no one was around. She went in and out of thought pondering this decision in her mind.
It tormented her.   A dark cloud of confusion clouded her thoughts. She didn't know what to do so she began to pray in her mind, seeking guidance from God.

She trusted Him. He'd always been there to hear and answer her prayers. He knew what would bring her happiness, and she trusted Him to guide her to it. She always knew she'd include him in this decision but now more than ever she needed his wisdom and guidance in her life.

Finally, in desperation, she cried out to Him in her mind. "I just want to know....Please, tell me what I'm to do", she prayed.

It was a moment of honest, and heartfelt submission to His will. She'd decided in that moment of desperation that no matter how hard it might be, she'd do what He directed. If it meant breaking up with him, she would. If it meant throwing away her pride and lofty ideals, she would. In her deepest moment of desperation, her heart let go of her will as she firmly resolved to follow His.

And just as strongly as her conviction to follow Him was, so too did His answer come.

It came with strength and it came with peace.

An immense feeling of warmth flooded into her soul. The spirit pressed upon her with great strength as clear, distinctive words formed in her mind.

"He is your eternal companion,.....He is your eternal companion,......"

Tears of peace streamed down her face as these words were spoken over and over again in her mind.

Like the sun breaking apart the clouds, of doubt all the confusion she'd once felt melted away from her mind. Things that once tormented her no longer seemed important. They were washed away, bathed in the peace of His spirit.

For two days this overwhelming feeling of peace remained with her. She woke the next morning and it was still there. Strong and constant it remained with her assuring her that this was real. God had answered her prayer. She couldn't believe the change in her heart but she welcomed its peace and basked in its warmth.

Without a shadow of doubt she now knew what she would do.

If he asked, she would say "Yes."

-Chapter 8-
The Proposal

He carried the ring from Tiffany's in the pocket of his leather jacket.
He'd made a reservation for dinner at Duke's on Waikiki beach. His mind flashed back to their first date over 6 months before. After dinner they walked the beach again heading for the pier. It was their special spot now and they walked hand in hand with great love in their hearts.

As they reached the pier a warm rain sprinkled from the sky. He said a quick prayer hoping it would stop. A moment later it did.

They neared the end of the pier waiting for the other couples to leave. She wanted him to kiss her again, in their special spot. And he, knowing what he was about to do, sought privacy for this special moment.

Soon the other couples left and he kissed her tenderly in the moonlight then led her to a nearby bench on the side of the pier. They sat quietly looking out at the water as she snuggled into him. He pulled her close.

"I have a present for you," he whispered in her hear.

He drew a small turquoise box from his pocket. TIFFANY'S was written on the front. For a moment her heart did a little flip wondering if he was going to propose.

"It's not what you think," he said, not wanting her to be disappointed.

She smiled curiously. After all, it was still a gift. She loved that he always bought her such wonderful things.  She untied the white ribbon and lifted the cardboard lid. A bottle of perfume was nestled inside.

As she opened the lid to smell the fragrance from the corner of her eye she saw his hand reach back into his pocket. In the same instant he slid off his seat and dropped down on one knee presenting her with a stunning diamond ring.

"Tiffany's was having a sale", he said sheepishly.

"Buy one bottle of perfume....... and get a free diamond ring."

Then in a serious tone he looked into her eyes and asked her if she would marry him and be his eternal companion.

"Yes." she said softly, feeling silly that she couldn't think of anything better to say.

He slid the ring onto her finger as tears streamed down her face.

They kissed and excitedly walked back down the pier officially engaged.

He was going to wait until October to propose but he was being deployed soon and he wanted that ring on her finger while he was away.

Every time she looked down at it she was filled with pride, especially after learning that he'd sold his motorcycle and taken out a loan to pay for it. He was such a classy guy sacrificing all he had to give her the best he could.

When he returned from his deployment at Christmas they only had four more months to go.

-Chapter 10-
Happily Ever After

As they planned their wedding they knew precisely when and where it would be:
One year from his baptism date and in the Salt Lake Temple.

There was a temple in Hawaii, but she couldn't be persuaded to marry there. It didn't matter that Salt Lake City was an ocean away. She would never consider anywhere else, and he didn't mind. Because he knew exactly why her heart was so set on this temple.....

Many years ago she'd made a promise to herself and she intended to keep that promise.

One summer her family had taken a trip to Yellowstone National Park. On their way home they'd stopped in Utah to visit Temple Square in Salt Lake City.

She walked on the grounds surrounding this magnificent edifice, gazing at the beauty of its spires. They seemed to reach up toward heaven but they also reached into her heart. She walked past the statues and fountains with a quiet reverence. She felt that she was standing on holy ground. There was a peace and serenity here, she didn't want to leave this beautiful place.

Sitting on the stepping stone in front of the temple she'd asked her older brother to take her picture. Moments later a newly married couple approached the same spot. They stood there posing for their wedding picture.

"One day," she promised herself, "I'll come here to be married too. I'll return to this very spot with the man of my dreams standing by my side." She knew she would never settle for anything less.

...and she hadn't. She returned with Aaron on that April morning.

Kneeling across the alter, inside this holy temple she looked into his eyes. The same twinkle was there, the one she first saw when he was just a guy helping to fix her bike. A smile spread across her lips as a tear welled up in her eye.

A long awaited promise was being fulfilled. It hadn't come in the way she'd expected, but it had come nonetheless, and it was everything she'd hoped it would be.

The words of the covenant were pronounced and they were sealed for time and eternity as husband and wife. They passed through the beautiful temple doors and walked down the stone steps into the warm spring sunshine as husband and wife.

After having their pictures taken in the temple gardens there was one more place she wanted to go.
She led her husband across the street as the photographer followed closely behind. She walked with reverence as she approached the familiar stone step, remembering the promise of her youth.

Standing where she had once stood years ago she looked into his eyes and smiled. He pulled her to him kissing her lips as a gentle breeze caught her veil and sent it swirling into the air. A promise had been fulfilled. A covenant made, and happiness found.

Together they lived, sharing their lives and their love for many years to come.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

What would you do?

This letter was taped to my door tonight. It's from Jacob in regard to his brother. In case you can't read it I will rewrite it here:

Dear Mom,
Why won't you let me beat up Joseph? Push-ups are way too easy now that we're older. Besides when you give him the punishment he doesn't get the idea to stop. But when you let me get him he learns to be afraid of me and to actually stop. It's your choice if you want fighting to stop. My ways best.

Love, Jacob

Sometimes I feel like I'm constantly refereeing these two boys trying to keep the peace in our home. Joseph loves to aggravate and irritate Jacob and usually Jacob is very good about controlling his anger but sometimes he loses it and will take off after his brother with me intervening before any harm is done. Aaron suggested recently that I should let Jacob beat him up one time so that Joseph would learn to respect his older brother and stop "provoking him to wrath." So recently, I decided to give this method a try. One evening after repeated provoking I didn't intervene when Jacob lost his temper and chased after his brother. It wasn't long before he caught up to him, pinned him down and started punching him in the back and face while Joseph yelled out for me to "call him off."

Reluctantly, I held back trying not to intervene. I felt unsure about this new approach but I was at my wits end. I let him continue for no more than a minute or two until I saw a pool of blood spilling out of his nose onto the hardwood floor. I told Jacob to stop and came running to Joseph's rescue. There was so much blood I started shaking and crying as we cleaned it up. "What have I done, " I thought.

I can't handle that approach so I guess I'll just go back to my previous approach of trying to teach Joseph to stop provoking his brother and teach Jacob patience and longsuffering. Jacob is right though, giving his brother push-ups for bad behavior is not leading to any less fighting in our home and I'm still left wondering what to do.

Suggestions anyone?