My experience of tragedy, trials, and triumphs!
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Friday, July 25, 2014

Celebrating 18 Years of Marriage, Even in Death...

18 years ago I married the man of my dreams.  I was 18 years old and living the life I had planned on since I was a little girl.  Jake and I were so in love.  We were married and sealed for time and all eternity in the Salt Lake LDS Temple.  It never occurred to me that I was too young to get married and start a family.  It felt natural and right.  I wanted to spend my entire life with Jake and wanted it to start as soon as possible.

After just 4 months of marriage I found out that we were expecting our first baby.  I was only 19 when Jax was born...almost 20.  Jake often teased me that I added to the teen pregnancy statistics for Utah.  We started our family quickly and added to it in the same manner.  I never thought twice about it.  We prayed continually about following God's will in our lives and tried hard to do what was right. We loved our kids and wanted a big family.

When Jake died after 7 1/2 years of marriage, and 2 weeks after the conception of our 4th baby it was clear.  We never felt like we were in a rush, but we were.  We had a lot of life to live in a very short time.  We had 8 years and 3 days from our first date to our last day on earth.  We needed to establish a loving marriage, and a stable foundation for our family.  We also needed to bring 4 souls into this world.  I know with all my heart that Jacob Jr. was the last thing Jake needed to accomplish in this life.  When that was done, so was he.  His mission on earth was fulfilled and he was called back home to start a new mission.  We were left here to pick up the pieces and figure out how to continue living with out the love of our lives.  This was not part of my plan...but it was the life we were meant to live.

At first thought it breaks my heart that we only celebrated 7 anniversaries together.  It makes me sad that our time together was so short.  After serious reflection I realize that we have celebrated 18 years together.  Our relationship has continued to grow.  My love for him has grown as I know his love for me has as well.  Jake has been in my heart now for half of my lifetime.  He has loved me and filled my soul with his love.  I have loved him, cared for him, grieved for him, remembered him, and thanked God for him everyday.  Our bodies may have only experienced 8 years together, but our minds, hearts, and souls have known each other for far longer than that.

I am so grateful for everyday I had with Jake.  The blessing of eternal life and eternal families is our greatest blessing.  I know Jake has watched over us for all these years and will continue to.  I am so grateful for that and for the knowledge the gospel of Jesus Christ gives us.

Today squeeze your spouse a little tighter and tell them how much you love them.  Appreciate the days you have together, because you never know if it might be the last.

Happy Anniversary Jake!  I will always love you!

To read more about our love story click here:)
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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Beauty Revived...

A few months ago I was contacted by one of my very first girls that I served while in the Young Women's program for our church down in Castle Dale.  She has remained one of my favorites over the years.  Michelle was always bubbly and happy.  She would come over to my house for visits, and would even come by after she moved away to college.  Michelle's last visit in Castle Dale was the Sunday before Jake died.

When Michelle contacted me she told me about a new project she was starting.  I am Beauty Revived.  It is a website designed to highlight true beauty in girls and women.  Michelle is a photographer and had the brilliant idea of getting photographers to donate a session to worthy women.  Michelle would then highlight their stories and photo session on her website.  At this point she has over 30 photographers that have joined her and they have selected 50 women from Utah.  She hopes this will catch on with other states and many more photographers.  If you are a photographer that would like to participate you can find details here!

Michelle is an amazing person and I wasn't surprised at all when she told me of her grand plan.  I know she will continue to do marvelous things in her life.  Michelle was sweet enough to pick me as her Beauty Revived Model.  (This will be the only time my name is associated with model!!;)  Doing the photo shoot was fairly awkward for me, but I was really humbled by the opportunity.

So far there have been several women already featured.  Head over to Beauty Revived to check out all the different women!  There are some seriously awe-inspiring stories on there!  Also, Michelle's story was picked up by a local news station.  She was on KSL 5 last night at 6:30 and will be doing another spot today at 12:30.

Thanks Michelle for being a shining example to the world, by showing how much good there is to find all around us!  I am so proud of you for all you are doing, and you will always be one of my matter how old you are!

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Finally a Princess...

For 15 years of motherhood I was STARVED for a baby girl.  Growing up we had a lot of girls and it gave me a false sense that everyone had girls.  I do remember sitting in a church meeting when I was a teenager and there was a woman that had just given birth to her 5th girl.  I had this thought, "At least it isn't 5 boys...that would be terrible!"

Well, having 5 or 9 boys isn't terrible at all.  But it does leaving a girly girl craving pink, dresses, bows, braids, dollies, and all things girly pretty bad!  I found out "Lil' Sis" was a girl on the 15 year anniversary of Jake and I's first date.  It was also just a couple weeks after we received Cam's first dx of PVNH.  Let me tell you...retail therapy is so much better when it's pink!

Having Lil' Sis in my life...well, in all of our lives has been an unexpected blessing and has brought all of us so much joy.  The boys are crazy about her and so is her daddy!  Having a daughter has completed our family.  I will Never get over it.  I still can't believe how blessed we are to have her.  Every time I buy necklaces, dresses, fingernail polish,  and girly bedding I am reminded how awesome it is that I get to do it.  Even more so, every time I do her hair, paint her nails, play princesses, sing songs, and play baby dolls I remember how blessed I am.

If I had a daughter first I don't think I would have appreciated the miracle of it.  I would have figured I would have had lots of girls.  I might have complained about doing her hair for 8:30 a.m. church or how she takes all my jewelry and gets into my shoes.  Praying for a girl for 15 years gives me great perspective, I love and appreciate every little thing she does!

Today my Lil' Sis is 3 years old.  She makes me so happy.  Here are some pictures over the last 3 years.  Making cakes is one of my don't judge me on the appearance of being spoiled with elaborate cakes;)  To check out more of my cakes click here.

1 yr old Cinderella Smash Cake and a Party Dress Cake!

2 yrs old Minnie Mouse Party!

3 years old princess party!

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*All the great professional pics came from my first friend (age 1) from Loulou Photography!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Celebrating 8 Years Together...

Eight years ago Curtis and I united our families together.

This is the first time I have celebrated an 8th anniversary.  Jake and I were married for 7 1/2 years when he was killed at work.  We had known each other for 8 years and 4 days.  Part of me wishes that I wasn't a "time keeper" always being aware of dates, lengths of time, and tracking and comparing the time that pertains to Jake's life and death.  I do accept it as part of who I am and how I grieve though.

As I have approached this 8 year milestone I knew that it was going to be a little bittersweet.  I talked with Curtis about it the other night.  I told him that I was dealing with some grief issues related to celebrating 8 years with him and I never got to do that with Jake.  I was worried his feelings may be hurt a little, but he responded so amazing.  He said, "It would be unfair to you and Jake if you did not have those feelings anymore.  It shows you still care."  Being able to voice my issues and feelings was very helpful to me.  I have been able to let that grief go, and today I am feeling just the sweet and none of the bitter.

Curtis and I have spent the last 8 years making our blended family into a family.  We will probably continue this process for several years to come.  One expert we have talked to said that it takes 22 years to fully blend a family.  Wow...that is a long time!  Some days it seems like we are sailing smoothly and other days it is still a struggle.  With all the ups and downs, the happiness we have found in our marriage and our family is more than I ever thought possible.  We have worked hard for our happiness, which makes it that much more appreciated.  (To read more about our path to happiness check out this post.)

I have had so many amazing experiences with Curtis...

We have raised 8 boys that had experienced grief related to death or divorce and helped them find paths to healing.  We have added two amazing little spirits to our family that have truly brought our family together and added more joy than we could have imagined.  We have grown as parents in patience and love and learned from the many mistakes we have made over the years.  Together we have learned how to love and parent special needs kids.  We were also blessed with our only little girl, she has added so much fun (and pink) to our family.

I have become a far better wife and person because of the lessons I have learned and the changes that I have needed to make being married to Curtis.  Watching Curtis change into more of the person that Heavenly Father intended him to be has been a blessing and a miracle.  I am so thankful that we have the light of the gospel in our lives and in our marriage.  The principle of forgiveness and trying to improve ourselves each day has strengthened our marriage.

We have traveled more than I thought I would in a lifetime in the last 8 years together.   The times we have spent alone together has been such a blessing and a very important lesson as well.  When you get married with 8 boys under 8 you HAVE to get alone time somehow.  We knew it would be important for us to go on getaways together to help build our relationship as husband and wife...without being mom and dad too.  Date nights are also vital to our relationship.  I know that when the kids move out and we find ourselves all alone that we will know each other, and love each other separate from being parents together.  In blended families the husband/wife relationship has to be the strongest bond to be able to stand the storms that come.

I am so thankful to a loving Heavenly Father that has a plan for me.  He has allowed me to find and love two amazing men in my life.  I have found happiness after I thought all hope was lost.  I have seen his goodness in giving us trials in marriage so that our happiness can be greater than we ever thought possible.

Curtis is a great husband and I love him dearly.  We have both grown so much, as we have grown into better people, we have grown closer together as a couple.  The support and love he has showed me with this blogging and speaking about our lives has been outstanding.  I truly feel so blessed to have him in my life.

Thanks for an amazing 8 years!  I love you so much.  Looking forward to a lifetime of memories and love with you.
Happy Anniversary!!!!

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