PictureDate Night (Halloween)
 I have always been somewhat of a Pollyanna but equally so I have always been the one to point out when there is an elephant in the room. It is as if  I have to point out what is not working in order to get back to the business of positive living. Those of you who have been following the blog know The Cowboy was in a serious accident at work last year. As time has gone on, we are rapidly facing life has changed for us... radically. 

Last week I looked up and him and stated " It's like an arranged marriage..that I arranged." I'm finding we are having to adjust to this journey called marriage once again. I think every marriage goes through ups and downs, but honestly, a head injury and personality changes are not something in which I have found much support on. We both laughed at my statement, as we attempt to keep a sense of humor in this situation. Laughing with each other has always been something we are good at... at least there are some constants in life. 

When we speak to the physicians, counselors and myriad of other professionals, I find they are ill equipped to offer us much more than a sympathetic look, and agreement that "this just sucks." I am told over and over how lucky we are to have him still with us and how blessed he is to have me as his wife.

I just want to have a good ol' southern tizzy. I want to have a break down right here, kick my feet... and gasp...maybe throw something?!  I have too many people counting on me to allow much more than a moment of  feeling sorry for myself.  This must be an "acceptable way" to deal with these stresses as I get a nod of approval from everyone and isn't that what we southern girls live for?

 I really just want to ask if in their years of schooling they were ever taught anything other than writing a prescription? Or maybe what I really want is a prescription for this ...something to mask all the struggle and pain our family is dealing with at this time. I don't want their sympathetic looks. I want my husband back. I can imagine facing families dealing with losses can be one of the hardest parts of being in the medical field, so in my understanding,  I just nod and smile and let them " off the hook."

The other day, Lil' Bit had a writing assignment for English. She had me proof read her essay. It was on her family's struggle with her dad's injury, and the aftermath of his accident. She spoke how sometimes it feels as if she lost her dad and there is someone here in his place. Though she struggles with it, she is secure in the fact she will always be his little girl. I smile and I at least feel secure in that we must be giving our kids pretty good coping skills. 

So for all the moments I miss... the dancing in the kitchen, going for walks, date night every few weeks, we struggle to find moments of connection in new ways. Sitting in the sunshine enjoying the chickens and goats, seeing if we can make it just a little further down the driveway each time we walk, listening to the rain hit the roof.  As the brain must rewire itself after a serious injury, sometimes, so must a family. I'm just holding out for this dark night to fade into a new dawn... I think my biggest fear is that it won't. As we face those fears, we come to a newer understanding of life and family. They say the truth will set you free. They never promised it would be easy. This is life... for better or worse. 


 
 
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Happily Ever After forgot to mention that sometimes life isn't always sunshine and roses. In every life and every relationship there are bumps along the way. Getting married is the easy part... staying married ... and happily... sometimes takes a little work. 


I have been tired. Physically and emotionally. Since The Cowboy's accident, our home has been in a state of constant disarray, with all the added worry, appointments and changes. Fortunately, raising seven children has made us "Masters of Mass Chaos" so we have been able to take all this in stride and establish a new standard of normal. 

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Working Hard
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His "torture" device to get movement back
Sometimes you just want to throw the towel in...
...but you can't .. because two hearts some how found their way from two completely different worlds to create a family...
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Yup... That's me!
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He was always a cowboy!
 ... that is counting on us to remember that our decisions... become their history. 
The day we married, I walked down the isle with a bouquet of my favorite flowers which included pink roses. We walked along golden stars my little sister and oldest child sprinkled along our path.
While the musician sang " You fill up my senses like a night in the forest."
Every now and again, Ill get a surprise bouquet of flowers from my sweetheart... just because. I saved the last bouquet, dried them, and have been waiting for inspiration to hit, so they could be displayed. 
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Rolled book pages with dried roses displayed
... and so this morning's crafty project was creating a display, in our bedroom, to remind us to show each other everyday how much love and history we share. 
... sometimes we just need a reminder... to let the other person know we think about them and value them. 
...because love is about Commitment ( There is the the letter C you were wondering about!) and taking time out together... particularly when things are hard. 
 
 
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Hand in Hand Through Life
As many of you know, my sweet cowboy man was in a terrible work related accident July 4th. We have received so much support, sweet messages and love from those we know and even those we have only met through this lovely space called the internet. 

Today I was thinking about all the struggles of the last month and how even though things have been tough... they are no measure for all the myriad of issues and challenges we have faced as a couple. We have literally gone to Hades and back and by the Grace of God we are still standing, facing life with hope, love and a sense of wonder. 

I was looking at all we have faced today, and I just sat there... thankful for everything we have been through... which in itself amazes me. When Seth and I decided to make two families one, we faced so much opposition! There were very few who saw the wisdom in joining our hearts ,lives and families(thank you Mama, Ms Bridgette, and my sister Jenn for believing in us!) . Most could only see the struggles and mountains we would face and did not hold the optimism of love and hope we shared. We did not take this endeavor of combining lives lightly. At one point, with everyone telling us we should not go down this path, we set down and wrote out our goals and ideals in a mate. We objectively looked at the challenges and differences and still chose to combine our hearts and families. We new we had to decide to jump in or cut bait! We decided... hand in hand to face life together... as a family!

Seth and I have chosen to never embrace the idea of steps, halves or wholes. It was sink or swim with us in our situation. We knew that the children we brought into this relationship needed  and deserved our hearts.. wholly, fully, and completely. There was no way to accept it any other way for us in our circumstances. 

No sooner had we exchanged vows, and life threw a curve ball... seemingly asking... are you sure you are ready for this? My sweet young brother had died two years previous, when not too long into marriage, a new baby blessing our lives, and my father passing away, we experienced a horror no newly married couple should ever face. When Lil' Bit was five months old a nasty custody battle turned to a place no one would have ever thought or believed it could go. On the night of our son's birthday, an undercover agent met us in the driveway to let us know Seth's ex, mother of his child, and her mother, allegedly, had hired an under cover agent to kill my sweet cowboy man. There are no words which can express the shock and horror of something which should be a movie plot and not real life for a newly married couple. 

After celebrating our son's birthday we returned home to learn our lives would forever change. As we were driving down the driveway, a truck, with it's lights off, followed us to the house. Having received a call from the boys biological mother's recently ex boyfriend, we were nervous. He had called that morning warning us that she and her mother were seeking someone to "kill Seth" and had asked him to do "the deed." I am sorry to say I judged this man and his character and did not take his warning seriously. 

As we drove down the driveway, we began to worry about his warning. Seth had all the kids take off their seat belts and instructed us to RUN into the house, call his mom, and prepare ourselves for the worst. I do not know a Montana household that does not possess a gun, and I went in and prepared to defend my home. I know this sounds extreme but when you live in the middle of no where and your children and home are in possible danger... you will do things you would never believe are a part of your character. I quietly put my children to bed, and sat in the rocker, my newborn baby nursing at my breast, with a gun nearby. Eventually, I went outside to see what was going on. I asked "Hey babe, is everything ok?" He sternly told me "Get back in the house" I was about to argue, but I knew he had never "dismissed" me and there must be something serious occurring. I had to trust my spouse in that moment, a task given my history, did not come easily. I chose to trust and went back inside. 

What seemed like ages later, my sweet cowboy came in. His face was as white as a ghost. He was shaking and his face possessed a look I had never seen. Sheer terror crossed this brave man's features. What I remember is sitting there, nursing our young baby, the whole world ahead of us, and seeing him drop to his knees and tell me someone had hired an undercover hit man to take his life. He was told the perpetrator of these acts stated : I don't just want him hurt, or his legs broken... I want him dead... d.e.a.d. DEAD." His ex's mother, the grandmother of his son's had paid money to have his life ended. We held on to each other. We cried. We worried. We thanked God for placing the right people in the right path to prevent this from occurring.

See, when the boys' biological mother (allegedly) sought out someone to kill my cowboy, she mentioned it to someone who was trying to get her life straightened out. This person remembered what a GREAT dad Seth was and went to her AA sponsor. This sponsor then set the wheels in motion to save our lives and our family! I still chat with her on Facebook and every time I am thankful for her bravery and honesty... she saved my husband's life and it is a debt I could never repay! She is a true hero in my eyes. 

Weeks went by. Phone calls were made nightly by the offending party, asking if Seth was home, how we were doing, if I was worried about him out hunting? The boys bio mom had never called so much! I finally reached my limit. I called the state and asked them to end it! I went to my mother's house with my children and hid out... trying my hardest to never let on what was about to occur! She loved us through the hours of worry! A mother's love is something one can never measure or understand. I am thankful for all she did as we faced something beyond understanding. My husband was taken to an undisclosed location. His glasses and personal effects were taken to his ex's mother by the under cover agent. After seeing his broken glasses, she then paid the "blood" money as she believed the "deed was done." 

One would think this would be the end of our struggle, but months later we were still facing the challenges of dealing with this crime which was committed against our family. The boys  biological mother fled the State. The maternal grandmother had decided her plea for mercy to the court and in the realm of public opinion would be that of accusing us of abuse to her grandchildren. The "big city" paper decided to print her accusations without ever talking with us, which The Missoulian eventually rescended after an emotional phone call from me.. in a small paragraph on a back page. I had faced abuse and it angered me that the man who showed us love, patience and safety was being accused of hurting anyone!

We had to fight hard to make sure a message was sent. The defense wanted the boys maternal grandmother to see no jail time. The prosecuting attorney was no help. We felt alone in the world. Public opinion swayed between feeling sorry for us and her. After a lot of work on our part, a settlement and plea was reached. My sweet man sat in from of a court room expressing what we had gone through as a family. She (the maternal bio grandmother) plead guilty to "felony solicitation to commit homicide." She was sentenced to 25 years, 20 suspended, and was out of prison in 18 months. She never admitted her crime nor asked for forgiveness. She justified her actions to the very end. The boys biological mother fled the state and we have never heard from her. I am thankful for the gift of two sons she has given me! Though  they are not of my body... they are of my heart. 

No one can express what is like to have your children return from school, not knowing other families would discuss your lives over dinner, scared out of their minds from learning at school, their "daddy" was almost murdered. No one can express the horror of seeing your names in black and white and learning that "blowing up the propane tank in front of your house" was discussed as a means of murder. No one can understand what it is like to be a newly married couple, with a newborn child and six other children under the age of seven, and face this kind of terror! No one can understand what it is like to face the loss of everything that is dear to you. Yet, still we held on. We loved each other... we parented our children... and we held on to each other and to the hope things would some day be better for us and our little family!

So, as I look at my poor wounded cowboy, facing weeks of challenging physical therapy and his life once again being spared, I can tell you this is not the hardest thing we have faced. We have been to places few couples have experienced. It has made us strong, secure, and thankful in the knowing there is a plan for us. We have been to Hades and back and it prepared us to be strong during times of trial. 

I am thankful every single day for our family and all it means. I am thankful for the strength that our trials have produced in us. As we walk hand in hand through life, we know we are blessed beyond measure in spite of our circumstances. We have faced much much worse and come out on the other side still holding on to faith, hope, and love. What more can one ask for?

 






 
 
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The view from our new home!
Only I can take a blog topic about a move and the truck breaking down and turn it into a tale about how much love I have for my cowboy. Forever when I look back on our move from Montana to Wyoming, it will be, in my mind, one of those times in which I knew and felt the love we share with each other. 

There are so many last many things which need to be done when planning a big move. We, of course, put off having our son's name legally changed until the day before we were to move. He has held our last name since he was four, but legally changing it wasn't something we ever felt pressured to get accomplished, until we decided to move, knowing it might be an issue in the new school. After placing an ad in the paper for the allotted time, just in case someone out there wanted to contest it, cowboy and son stood in front of the judge and it was made legal what had always been. Unfortunately what we thought would be an hour wait ended up being most of the day, as we were last on the list! There were hearings for drug charges, divorces, and a myriad of other things we had to wait through. My son got to see first hand where poor life choices can lead and we had a lively discussion at lunch and on the way home regarding making good decisions in life. I do not believe all the talking in the world we have done over the course of a life time has done as much as one day of court watching. I've decided it should be mandatory for all teens to sit through a day at district court!

The long court hearing and the incessant rain the week of the move, put us a day behind. Add to that, I lost the battle of Uhaul vs moving like "hill billies", it was soon discovered the trailer was not big enough for all our stuff. The trailer was about 3/4 full when this was announced and after I had a complete melt down (you know....where crying red tomato eyes and blotchy skin was the aftermath!), we had to decide what things we could not live without for the next few weeks until we could make another load. This would have been handy to have know earlier as much of the stuff already loaded was not of significance! 


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How building sides is cheaper and easier than a UHAUL is beyond me!
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Helpers!
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At least it's sturdy...I suggested going all the way and writing "Hill Billy Movers, Inc." in hot pink
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Loading and tarping! The tarp shredded in miles and we had to buy a new one later!
After everything we could possibly fit on the trailer and in the back of the pickup was all loaded, we had to say a few goodbyes and then head out! I have to admit something... It felt as if I was being paroled from prison. I've never been to prison so I cannot definitively say what that would feel like, but it was the strongest emotion I have ever experienced. 

Years ago, the cowboy and I made the decision to remain in Montana to raise our children on his family's farm, knowing and accepting it was not a good fit for me. I won't go into the circumstances which made me feel un-welcomed and out of place, but will only say my 13 years in beautiful Paradise was a time of learning, growth, and refining. I will also say that with the bitter always comes some sweet. Experiencing the beautiful friendships and relationships I had will never be regretted or forgotten. Raising my children in a beautiful rugged land was a blessing despite the struggles. Heading out the driveway, I felt like Seth and I were finally going toward a family of our own... much of what is experienced when a couple first gets married. I was hiding my giddiness out of respect for my children, who have found aspects of this move very difficult!. 

Wouldn't you know it, an hour into our trip, the truck decided to go wonkers!? When it would hit a bump it, the front tires would shake uncontrollably and that cowboy of mine had to fight to keep it on the road. The wind kicked up and blew apart the back of my china cabinet, glass flying every where. I prayed this wasn't a sign to turn around! ;) I didn't blink an eye when my cabinet blew to pieces! I had already had my one allotted moving break down and it's just a cabinet right? (though that would not have happened in a UHAUL, right!?) We found a place to drop the trailer and headed to the nearest auto parts store. After climbing under the rig, we could see the issue. The track bar? was broken and needed to be replaced. Looked simple enough. Of course wanting to be handy I began googling and you tubing directions on how this could best be done and which parts to buy. Of course all these online tutorials made it look easy peasy! That wobbling the fellas experienced even has a name ... The WOBBLE OF DEATH! Yikes!

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This bar hanging down broke off on one side
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The guys are big enough to help dad out now!
Hours and hours passed. Tensions were getting high, but we all persevered! We were all dirty and covered in grease. The sky looked as if it was threatening to rain on us. How much worse could things get? The bolt which holds the part in place would not shake lose, no matter what we tried! Short of heating it, which we were fearful to do (the last thing we needed was a fire), we were at a loss. We bent and broke numerous clamps and parts along the way. Finally the cowboy decided he needed a "real" clamp and headed to Pacific Steel and Freight. He  returned with the biggest clamp I had ever seen!
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The bent clamp with the lifetime warranty
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The broken clamp next to the new industrial strength one!
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This was the needed tool!
Eight hours after we left Paradise, the bolt finally broke lose! My cowboy and sons let out a shout...whooping and hollering! SUCCESS! Im proud of us! We didn't have one argument or heated moment. Though I was tempted to say "A Uhaul would have been cheaper and easier" I refrained. This is the point where I say why this is about marriage and family... ready? This is a testament of where we are at after 13 years of marriage! lol! Lesser issues in the past would have had him silent and me fussing to no end! Together, we were focused, knowing we were on the right path, and this 8 hour speed bump was just a small moment. It was a moment for us to work together as a family to solve a problem and experience failures and success'. 
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A smile for getting it done! That's cowboy jr!
While the guys got the trailer hooked back on, I made a run with the other kids, having met up with my Mama, for noodles from the local Oriental Noodle place! What a treat it was to have one last meal in Montana with my mom! Never has food tasted so good. We got takeout and fortune cookies for the guys, and I won't repeat in polite company how hungry they claimed they were! 

This is it... these are the moments we experience in life. This is OUR family. Our love for one another created this. It holds us together through rough times and lovely moments. It is what we have spent 13 years fighting, bending, molding and morphing in to. As I drove into Star Valley, following that cowboy of mine, I knew I would still, after all these years, follow that man anywhere. After over 20 hours in the car, a break down, driving through the night, sleeping a few hours at a rest stop in the middle of no where, I was thankful for all the experiences which led us to greeting a new sunrise and morning in our new home. 
 
 
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There is no way to let Valentines Day pass and not blog about love. There is nothing in the world like love. The love between a parent and child...husband and wife... sisters... friends... brothers. Love makes life worth living and all the heart aches once faces in life bearable. As we celebrate this day of love, my sweetheart is away from home...off in the cold natural gas fields earning a living for our family. It is his way to say " I love you." 

Every moment he is away from home I am more mindful of our love for one another and so thankful we followed our hearts. Perhaps more than many couples I know, we have faced some pretty big challenges and obstacles. We have fought; we have cried; we have loved ; we have walked hand in hand; we have weathered many storms, and I can say my heart is more his than it has ever been. Our favorite love song is "Remember When" by Alan Jackson. It fits our lives so perfectly, as our children are starting to grow up and leave our nest. I'm glad I have someone who can remember when with me. 

I miss having him here to share the little moments with. I miss turning the music up and dancing through the kitchen together while our teenagers moan "get a room" at us, even though I can see they are secretly pleased their parents like each other enough to dance. 

I know he will call me tonight and whisper sweet loving words to me. I know I will cry and tell him how much I miss him. We will lay under the same stars many many miles apart from one another and happily sleep knowing we are the lucky ones who are (as Jason Michael Carroll sings) "living our love song"

 
 
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Last years present (Holy Different Hair!)
I was sitting here this morning pondering all the things I could blog about and a thought literally jumped into my mind and stuck. I don't know if any one else ever has that happen and then they begin to obsess about it, or if I'm the only crazy one in the room right now. I just realised V-day is coming up! Yup, the day of all things love, and I have no idea what I am doing!

Oh I know it is so commercialized; it is just a day for stores to sell more stuff; blah blah blah blah blah. I don't care. It is my second favorite holiday! Anytime I can celebrate love and romance and chocolate...Im all over that! Most years I have what I am going to do planned waaaaay in advance. This year, I am seriously behind the 8 ball! (What does behind the 8-ball really mean...I don't play pool...at least not well ... and have always thought it was just an excuse for my husband to see me bend over) Anyways, Im sorely lacking in ideas this year. 

It's going to be hard to top last year! I have a dear trusted photographer friend who came into my home for (gasp) boudoir photos. I gathered a couple of gal pals together, emptied the living room of furniture, set up a few staged areas for photos got them printed, created a "for his eyes only album" ...and viola an amazed and happy husband. Yes, children, mother, and grandmother...they were tasteful ;) Everything I do is. 

I've been combing my favorite blog sites for ideas. Particularly ideas which will work for love birds who will be apart this year!  So, I decided to put this out there...HELP!? Got any great ideas for couples who are long distance?  I want to go a little beyond just the cute card in the mail, but also budget friendly. So, I'm holding my very first contest! Post your ideas or even link to your own blog about a Valentines Day Idea! Whoever's idea I use will win the beautiful little Valentines Hearts (cup not included)  from my one of my favorite Etsy shops! They are beautifully hand crafted and filled with lavender grown and hand harvested in Paradise, Montana! They really are a treat!

Winner will be announced February 5th so you can receive your little hearts in time for Valentines! Winner must be willing to submit all needed information for shipping  by February 2nd. I look forward to your seeing your ideas. Post them in the comment section below! Please be tasteful. This is a family friendly site :)
 
 
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December is the month of celebrating many ideas, holidays and wondrous occassions around the world. It is time to reflect on the past and to look forward to future with the coming of the new year. I love this season of  lights, familiar holiday traditions, carols playing, focus on friends and family, and the encouragement to extend good will and peace to all mankind. It is a time of celebration for us as it is the month a family was born. Seth and I celebrate our 12th year married this New Year's Eve; the Linen and Silk Anniversary for us. 

The idea of traditional anniversaries apparently dates back to the middles ages according to several internet sources, and over the centuries has been added to. Who knew? I figured it dated way back considering some of the items traditionally given. There are modern twists that can be found as well, but there is something I love about traditions dating back before even my grandparents. With each passing year the gifts become rarer and more lasting items.  I guess to reflect the preciousness of a long lasting marriage. 

Reflecting on this time we have spent together I am quite amazed at the twists and turns we have made. There is not a person who resides under this roof who hasn't grown or changed in amazing ways. I know I am not the same woman Seth married. She had been through a lot and was a little jaded and reticent. I'd venture to say he is not the same man either. Marriage has softened some of the rough edges and refined the cowboy. We appreciate the place life has brought us to. Id venture a good marriage allows personal growth and changes which are necessary in order to be a couple. 

There were times either one or both of us was ready to throw the towel in and a time or two we did,  only to give it one more try. Marriage is the toughest endeavor one can ever commit to but it comes with the territory. The myth we are raised with of the Happily Ever After...riding off into the sunset perfection does a disservice to young people. If they extended those fairy tale stories just a wee bit longer, we'd see Prince Charming calling the beautiful princess a nag. We'd see that prince ride up after a long day of work to find his clothes decorating the tree outside the castle because she was sick of playing the role of maid instead of the queen of his heart. We'd see everything takes work, and this no where more true than in a committed relationship such as marriage!

Even our most frustrating of moments cause me to glance back and smile because we made it through them to build this lovely place we have come to. We have bent with the winds of change to get better and better at this thing called marriage but have not lost who we are as individuals.

 I remember the frustration of stumbling over his steel toed boots as a young married couple. One night I was so tired of playing the role of harpy and maid, I moved the boots to a strange location which would require him to do a little searching.  As I heard him stumbling (maybe even cursing a little)  about the house in search of his shoes which he could have sworn he placed in the middle of the floor of our room, I could barely contain my giggles under the covers. After several mornings of this (after finding his boots on the washer) he finally asked if I was the one moving them. I readily admitted to it and why. We laughed until we were in tears and he agreed to be more sensitive to my need not to trip over his things, and I agreed to remind him of my needs. I am thankful I married a man with a sense of humor and a heart of compassion. 

This New Years Eve, as we celebrate our Linen and Silk anniversary I am thankful we have stuck to this relationship. I am thankful for the sweetness and familiarity time has brought as no one knows me and all my flaws like this man does and yet loves me head over heels anyway! I am hopeful we will continue to do the work necessary to grow this friendship. 

I am married to my best friend; there is no one I would rather spend time with, fight with, laugh with, rage at, or hold in my arms at the end of the day. There were moments, believe me, we had a hard time being in the same room. There were times we had "lost that lovin' feelin."  Yet, here we are  looking forward to another 12+ years. I know we will  looking back and smiling at this place and all the things we will learn, all the struggles we will have had and all the changes we will experience. 

Linen and Silk perfectly represents where we are in our 12th year. The functionality of a long standing marriage, knowing the ins and outs of the day to day as well as the preferences of our spouse, and then those surprising soft nuances and new discoveries every life should have. I learn new things about him all the time.  Now just to figure out what I am going to get him for our Anniversary...the silk is easy (thank you Victoria's Secret) ...maybe a nice Linen shirt for him? 

 
 
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The other day my husband came home a little later than I had expected him. I was a wee bit aggravated but he looked as if he had a secret to tell. He had run into a fella in town who has begun a new business....they had been talking "shop." This fella's new business had a product Seth was pretty excited about, so he bought one with our family name and the date 3/21/1999 engraved on it. Curious, I asked why Seth chose THAT date instead of our anniversary which is generally when people say is the founding of a family. His answer?  " I like that date better...that is when I knew." So, yes he was forgiven for getting "lost" in town.

In October of 1998 I found my marriage of many years was at a place where repairs could not be made. Out of respect for the ground we have gained in co-parenting and in life, I will not delve into the gory details, except to say it was a painful process for all involved. I made plans to move back to Montana, closer to family. I rented a house, placed the kids in school and found part time employment. I truly felt life was about raising my children in a peaceful, loving environment and looked forward to small town life. I had no interest in dating or moving on.

Seth was going about the business of raising his son, as a single dad. He had a lot of help from his family, a job, and a quiet life in Paradise. He was pretty content. Both of our oldest children attended kindergarten at Paradise Elementary. It was a beautiful March night, and there was a program at the gym. My car would not start and I arrived a little late and flustered as we all had to squeeze in with someone else just to make it. I remember walking in, scanning the gym, only for my eyes to land on the cute cowboy leaning up against the wall. I remember blushing and thinking "Well he grew up!"

Seth and I had met years earlier when I was 16 and he was 12. I remember he and his dad came out to shoe our horses. He remembers thinking I was pretty, and I was heading out on a date. I remember wondering why this geeky kid wanted to talk to me??? We ran into to each other at family events, on and off over the years, including my first wedding.

My mom convinced him to give me and the kids a ride home from the school program. We struck up a conversation, and I found I really liked him. He was quiet, funny, kind, and polite. He just says I was pretty and sweet LOL! I began watching his son while he worked, and they would join us for dinner before heading home. He laughs and says I found the way to his heart through his stomach (thank goodness I am southern woman!) My mom always jokes about that March night that he gave me a ride and found his home. 

Our first kiss was on the first night of spring (3/21/1999), with the moon streaming down on us, and it seemed as if all the world stood still and heaven was smiling. Who knew all of our futures and would change and the path of two families would join to make one, which was healthy, strong and vibrant? I look back and I can almost feel the wind on our skin and feel the joy in our hearts and when times get tough, it is that night I grab onto for dear life knowing our hearts made a promise in that moment. This night is now being engraved on a grill, which makes me laugh because it seems so Montana! Not on a mighty oak , or delicate necklace, but a camping grill.
 
My moment of truly knowing came a few weeks later when Seth helped me deal with a situation with my son, Theo. When I knew he was safe for me and my children, someone we could trust, he became the someone I wanted to spend forever with. We were having dinner, and Theo was not to fond of any menu which did not include PB n J or Mac n Cheese. He was throwing a little fit at the table, and there was no reasoning with him. Finally Theo blurts out "I'm gonna call the police on you." I was going to explain why it would do no good but Seth stepped in. "Ok little buddy, why call, there is one down the street, let's go talk with him." My heart was in a panic, Theo would call his bluff and I had no idea Seth fully intended to go knock on the officer's door. I began shaking my head...and whispering there was no way this would end with Theo eating his supper, but off they went. This was the first moment I had to trust him with my most precious of gifts. A few minutes later they were back at the table and Theo looked glum but was eating his supper. I whispered "What happened?" Seth had Theo explain they had walked down, and knocked on the door. The higway patrolman was someone Seth knew (of course....it is a small town after all). Theo looked up at what must have seemed a giant of a man. Seth explained he had a young man who wanted to talk to him. Officer K said "What can I do for you young man" Theo told him of his supper predicament. I then asked Theo "Well, what did he say?" "He said I better mind my mama and eat my supper."

From that moment on we supported each other, listened, and became best friends, when it seemed there was no one else in the world we could depend on. Seth had just found his other son, and was in a custody dispute over him, and I was still healing from a broken marriage. Seth and I encountered a lot of opposition to our relationship in the beginning.Others felt it made no earthly sense why a woman with 4 kids and a man with 2 would want to blend their homes. At one point we were so over whelmed with the vehement opposition, we sat down and had a heart to heart. We felt we had to decide a lot more quickly than we normally would have in order to save ourselves and the children a lot of grief. We wrote all the qualities we wanted in a spouse, in a co-parent for our children, as well as goals in our personal lives. We exchanged the lists and compared them to one another. They were almost identical. The differences were things we felt we could support in one another and we made the decision to stay together...my first engagement ring was fashioned out of a gum wrapper, and we laughed so hard. 

Our relationship was a gift from God which brought healing, life, and joy into not only our lives but the lives of our children. Over the 12 years we have been together, we have been through many struggles, but even when the ship seemed bound to sink, we have made it through every storm life has sent our way. I cannot imagine my life without my best friend. When I gave birth to Morgan, our family seemed complete. One of my children drew a picture of all of us with Morgan as a little tiny bundled band-aid right in the middle of our little family. My child explained to me she felt Morgan was our band aid, she made us really a family, because she was someone everyone got to share. The logic of little six year old girl, whose hopes and dreams were of a whole family, not broken, but healed, was wrapped up in a little crayon drawing.Her date of knowing is 5/22/2000. We all have had our moments.  I love the sign hanging in my living room, with all of our family pictures resting on a shelf above it. It states " All because two people fell in love."

My whole world is wrapped up in the moment Seth and I chose this path and honored God's plan for our little family. We have so many blessings. We could have taken the easy road and listened to those who claimed  love was not enough, but I sit here today in a season of renewed hope and love for my husband and family, I realize life is about seasons and changes. Many times we have thought about throwing in the towel, and there are moments we have given up, but yet we press on. There is no one else I can imagine growing old with than my best friend. The greatest gift in life is love. My hope and prayer everyday is my marriage will be an earthly reflection of the love God has for all He has created.