Monday, May 28, 2012

The History of Us: Part 3 (The Proposal)

Brief recap: NAU, dumb jock, change of heart, Fazolis, near-concussion...that should bring us up to speed. So we were in love and finally free to show it (and obviously I felt free to wear overalls).
There was a water-ski trip with friends (where I discovered how hairy my future mate's chest was...but I didn't turn back, just good to know what I was getting myself into).
Then there was the meeting-each-other's families officially (though we had each met them before) and a trip to my grandparents' ranch in Utah with mine.
There was the tractor-driving lesson with my dad (which I'm sure was super awkward for both of them). Jeremy's job was to scoop manure the whole week. I'm sure there wasn't any strategy in giving him that job to do.

Then I went to Mongolia for 2 months.

And then, the Proposal. I'm just gonna say as an introduction: Ladies, if you want a good proposal, stick your beau in a boring internship for the summer and leave the country so that all he has to do with his time is miss you and plan your engagement. Jeremy came to LA (for pretty much the first time in his life) to see me when I got back from Mongolia. We knew we were going to get engaged but I didn't expect it to be the first thing we did when we saw each other. I was pretty sure it was starting when he pulled a large envelope out of his bag by the baggage claim at LAX.
I was a little stressed that it was happening so fast and in such an unromantic setting...I mean I hadn't even had a chance to tell him about my trip or make sure that I still liked him. But there he was, telling me we were going on a Bigger and Better Scavenger Hunt and handing me a ring box as the first gift. The card that went with it said "An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life." If that doesn't look and sound like the set-up to a proposal, I don't know what is. But, luckily for Jeremy, he was playing a little trick on me and the box was filled with lifesavers. The second clue said to go have lunch where the sailboats come in and the card read, "...She is like merchant ships, she brings her food from afar...". He gave me a glass sailboat (as a bigger and better gift), and we ate here: 

I was beginning to catch on that we were on a Proverbs 31 based scavenger hunt and that the proposal would come at the end. There were a lot of verses, so I was relieved that we would have the whole day to spend together before what I assumed would be the Big Question (though I was really very sure what the answer to the Big Question would be). Jeremy was so smooth with giving me directions and never acting stressed about where we were going or if we were going to make the next location on time--I really couldn't believe how well he had it planned out. The next card said, "...With her earnings, she plants a vineyard and her lamp does not go out at night...". We went to the San Antonio Winery, which seems like a cool place, but we're not really wine-drinkers and there was supposed to be live jazz, but it ended up just being a big guy on a keyboard singing awkwardly to us. My gift was candles. 
The next card said (in part) "...she extends her hand to the needy. She is not afraid of the snow...". My gift was snowboarding lessons in a snow globe. We went to the Union Rescue Mission on Skid Row and served the homeless together. 
Next was "She makes coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple. Her husband is known in the gates as he sits among the elders of the land...". Jeremy had me drive up into the hills of Hollywood, into a neighborhood of hillside mansions and houses. I had no idea what his plan was. He had me stop in front of a house and gave me my next gift, a cold-weather sleeping bag. Then he handed me a key and pointed to a gate.
We had connections through our friend in Tucson, Psalm, to the private gardens in the backyard of someone's home that are set up as an artist's have to have a key to get in and you are not allowed to take pictures.  Psalm's aunt had lived around the corner and his family was given a key when she passed away because the owners had planted a tree there in her honor.  We watched the sun set over LA and signed our names together in the guest book.  It was so surreal!
Then we were on to dinner. The clue read "It is near the Union Rescue Mission, but this time others will serve us." The card had these verses: "Strength and dignity are her clothing and she smiles at the future. She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness." (Sort of cool how the two verses that mention food in the passage are at the beginning and near the end--spaced apart for lunch and dinner). He gave me a shirt and we ate here (right in the center of downtown--and there was a bride and groom taking pictures on the steps across the street while we ate).

It seemed that we both could sense the significance of the final stop on our scavenger hunt, and we lingered over dinner long after they had cleared our plates and taken the bill.  We finally left and drove for a long time...and ended up here (but it was dark, so we couldn't see the view).

Jeremy said many lovely things and there were verses and a card and a flashlight and he was on his knee...and there was a ring and I said yes!

We jumped into wedding planning, and I sure had fun telling and retelling our engagement story when I got back to NAU for my senior year and our last semester there together before Jeremy graduated.

When I fell in love with Jeremy, I had never seen his romantic fact, it took me by surprise! He blew me away with his proposal, and also with my birthday a month involved dinner cooked on his truck in the woods at the ruins of an old stone house with candles and wildflowers and lightning and dancing (and even a young man in a suit who parked the car as our valet, then came around and greeted us as the host, then seated us, then came back in and introduced himself as the waiter and then helped prepare the food...and I think, looking back at the pictures, helped tow Jeremy's truck when we realized it had been parked in a hole. I don't even know if we tipped him, come to think of it!).

Oh, and my apartment was filled with friends for a surprise party when we got back!
The semester was filled with enjoying Flagstaff and friends, mourning the loss of my roommate, Sarah Warren in a car accident, dancing (in the overalls again!), and Jeremy's graduation.

The spring semester was far less fun with stressful wedding planning, student teaching, and living apart because Jeremy had graduated and was living in Southern CA. But we made it...and at my graduation I sat with 3 classmates who were also getting married within the next month and we clearly had more important things to talk about than to listen to the keynote speaker.

Two weeks until May 28th...the wedding!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The History of Us: Part 2 (The Courtship?)

So, I was a junior in college and spending a lot of time with a boy named Jeremy Lundgren.  I liked him.  A lot.  He was ruining my plans to not think about boys.  I thought about him.  A lot.  And we hung out.  A lot.

At first, I made him my famous caramel brownies and always tried to be where he was going to be.  Then I began to observe how other girls seemed to do the same things and I could see right through them.  I remember sitting in a papasan chair on a random platform he and his roommate, Jason, had built in their dorm room (the platform was probably held up with a total of 2 nails, which was at least twice as many as were holding up the large loft second story they slept on and studied under.  Just a side note.).  I said, "When girls come to bring you food, you think 'Cool, free food!' but they are thinking, 'Wow, a date with Jeremy and Jason!'.  You shouldn't encourage them.  It's not good."  Jeremy and Jason stared at me like cavemen, but I think they sort of got it.

But, this observation got me realizing the position I might be in...seeming to have a special claim to Jeremy's time though he had never expressed romantic interest or exclusivity to me, so I might be just the same as all the other girls.  I stopped bringing the caramel brownies.  I started, as an exercise in autonomy, not going to social events that he was going to be at, even though we always seemed to end up driving or walking home together and talking in front of one of our dorms for hours about deep and important topics--I was suddenly aware that I had no way of knowing or controlling whether he was doing that with other girls as well.  I decided to let him go a little, even though I had never met a person who continued to be so interesting and admirable (and dare I say attractive?) the more I hung out with him.

Frustratingly, though he wouldn't address the nature of our relationship, he kept seeming to give me special attention and kept being very available to hang out.  That is when I enlisted the help of my friend, Psalm...I felt stuck because my newly-turned-over-leaf of not flirting told me that I couldn't bring up our relationship to Jeremy (in other words, I couldn't initiate the DTR talk), but I needed him to realize the affect his attention was having on me so he would stop spending so much time with me if he had no romantic interest.  My heart was in danger of being hurt badly, but I had become convinced that the way I would know true love as opposed to exciting flirtations was when a boy chose me by his own will and initiative.  I knew if I said something to Jeremy, who was genuinely a really great guy, he would feel bad or confused about having spent so much time with me that he would probably say he wanted to date but I wouldn't be sure whether he had said it out of obligation or conviction.   Psalm tried valiantly to bring these things to Jeremy's attention while still protecting my identity, but I think he got the same caveman look I had gotten a few months before.

Finally, I reached my breaking point and spent a weekend away from him and other distractions--really thinking and praying about what to do about my relationship with him.  In the months before I got to know Jeremy, I had started having the goal of preparing for marriage in my heart instead of "hooking up" or dating for fun, so I knew that if I thought I had such deep feelings for Jeremy, I must think I was ready to get married.  I found comfort in the part of the Bible called Proverbs, chapter 31, where there are instructions to a young man about how to choose a wife.  There were so many areas I needed to grow in, and it excited and humbled me to think of the task of being a wife and a woman of noble character like the one talked about in those verses.  I decided with much peace but a sad heart that I needed to end my close friendship with Jeremy in order to protect my heart.  Also, his future plans seemed to be taking him in a completely different direction and I felt certain that I wasn't part of that scenario (he was planning to go to Mongolia for a year on a team of young people, some of whom would be young women, and I would be finishing my degree at NAU).  Even though I felt sad to end such a wonderful friendship, I felt overwhelmed by the incomprehensible idea that if God didn't have Jeremy for me to marry (which it truly seemed like he didn't), then he must have something much better for me (but truly I just wanted Jeremy).

Meanwhile, Jeremy had been becoming frustrated because his comfortable friend Kaci with whom he could talk about anything and everything wasn't so available anymore.  Because of how often we ran into each other on campus and how much stuff we did together with our group of friends, he had never had to specifically call me in order to hang out.  He began to realize that his frustration was coming from some strange feelings he was having about me.  After ruling out indigestion, he decided to set aside the weekend to pray and think hard about some decisions in his future, but found himself thinking and praying about me.  Oddly enough, the wisdom found in the Bible seemed like a good place to look for answers, and after ruling out working for 7 years for my father in order marry my sister, he landed on the verses in...Proverbs 31.  He says that as he read each one, he had a distinct and clear picture of me doing something.  "She extends her hand to the poor and needy"--he thought about how I worked with some disabled students on campus, or "Her lamp doesn't go out at night"--he thought about how I stayed up late and studied hard to get good grades.  He was surprised by how suddenly clear it seemed that I was the girl for him to marry, and he was excited at the excited that he decided to procrastinate talking to me about it until the end of summer or the next fall.

So then, on a Tuesday in April, at the end of my Junior year of college, Jeremy finally got tired of not seeing me and called and asked if I would go eat some food with him.  We went to Fazoli's in the old Walmart parking lot (it's not there anymore...we went on the last day it was open and sat in "our" booth, for old times' sake).  In the course of the conversation, he brought up his summer plans and was asking me my opinions about some aspects of them...things that I was no longer really willing to talk so openly about or to allow him to confide in me.  I said, "I think you need to stop looking at problems so far away and look at what's right in front of you."  Then I stared out at the WALMART sign over his shoulder and honestly braced for the old sock-in-the-arm "You're right, old buddy old pal, we're just friends and always will be" (kind of like he had said after The Quad Ride in Mexico).  Instead, I heard him say, "You know, when I met you it was always cool because you were Kaci, there was nothing romantic there...but lately I've been realizing I'd be crazy to let you go."  As cheesy as it sounds, my heart soared out of my chest and I think there may have been rays of light coming down from heaven onto our booth at Fazolis and there just might have been angels singing.  I let him talk for a while, to really prove what he meant by what he had said and to let the whole thing sink in.  We had talked about everything you would need to talk about to know whether someone was marriage material, and we each knew that the other person didn't want to casually date but be I knew we were talking about more than just going out next weekend, that we were probably talking about til death us do part.  And more than that, I was overwhelmed by the deep joy of knowing he had chosen me.  That God had brought us together based on things more important than looks or charm.

I could go on and on and even as I write this, I feel touched thinking back to that moment, but I won't bore you with all my girlish exuberance.  We took some time to let the idea of pursuing marriage sink in, and a few weeks later, we were more sure of it than ever.  And we still hadn't even held hands.  When we finally decided to go forward with our relationship, I remember sitting in the back of his truck on Mars Hill and he went to put his arm around me...and almost knocked me out when his elbow hit the side of my head.  But that was what we loved about our relationship--we were such good friends that we could laugh and not be embarrassed and not feel like the date was ruined from one dorky move.

Many of our friends weren't surprised that we ended up together.  They had been observing us and had seen it coming.  But to us, it was as new and sweet and as special as an unexpected gift...and we were excited to unwrap it (no double meaning there, I promise).

So...I guess this part of the story will end here and I will finish it up with more pictures and less words in Part 3:  The Proposal and of course, Part 4: The Wedding. 

The History of Us (Part 1: The Beginnings)

Yesterday at the dinner table, Jeremy told the kids that he and I would be celebrating the "12th birthday of our marriage" on Monday. I asked them why they thought we got married and after a pause, someone said, "Because you loved each other?" and then all three kids started howling with laughter--or more accurately--impersonated hysterical hyenas. So, in honor of that conversation, I will share a short history lesson of how the two of us became one. Here goes Part 1: The Beginnings (disclaimer: the stories will be told from my point-of-view because that's the advantage of being the author).

I grew up in Orange County, CA (I learned to say that when I got to college and people made fun of the name of my hometown). When I got to NAU, I was kind of like this:
(Well, not quite as cute.  Or rich.)

I was definitely a member of this:

And maybe I was secretly hoping for this:
Then I met some really cool people and grew up a little and got more serious about my life and my relationship with God.  I began to want to be a woman with good character more than have a line of Friday night dates (which I didn't necessarily even have, just daydreamed about a lot).

My roommate, Sarah Warren, didn't flirt and was willing to wait for a guy to pursue her instead of foolishly chasing after him.  This was a strangely liberating idea.

She recommended I read books like this:

They changed my life.

(So what that really means is that I started to flirt more like this:)
Just kidding.  Sort of.

Meanwhile, Jeremy, after attending 4 previous colleges/universities and changing his major numerous times, transferred to NAU.  He was busy daydreaming about things like:

We actually think our first "sighting" of each other was the year before when a group of boys from U of A joined our InterVarsity Lake Powell trip on Labor Day weekend.  I remembered them always playing football or frisbee, which would fit Jeremy and his brothers perfectly.

Sometime before we really knew each other, I took this picture at a friend's bachelorette party when a group of guys came and serenaded her in the restaurant.  I found myself often enjoying looking at the cute boy in the middle who smiled directly at me when I snapped the picture.
After I realized that my first impressions of Jeremy being a dumb jock were wrong (he was intelligent!), we happened to run into each other while getting mail on campus the first week of my junior year.  We became friends through "random" on-campus bumping into each other (though later we each admitted that if we had seen the other person in a certain place at a certain time, we were certain to be at that place the next week).
Probably the first time hanging out in my dorm room (with our friend Psalm, who was an important ally later in our relationship when Jeremy's unclear intentions became very frustrating to me)

We became really good friends on a spontaneous trip to my house in CA during the spring semester of that year.
We were unofficial swing dance partners.

Then there were the random dates-that-weren't-dates for Valentine's Day...there were literally three (all as groups).  First, the steam train to the Grand Canyon:
Then the homemade dinner at a random MOPS mom's house (Jeremy was a worker in the MOPS childcare program. I didn't even know what MOPS was.):

Then the dress-up scavenger hunt that the girls planned when we ended up in a cramped attic space above one of the dorms and somehow this picture was taken:
(There MAY have been a little old-fashioned flirting going on in this picture, I'll admit).  Jeremy would later find himself looking at the cute girl in this picture as he considered her place in his heart.

There were fun outings like hiking in Sedona, where even though Jeremy was smaller than he is now, I still wasn't able to hold him up on my shoulders even though he must have been trying to get me to. 

Then there was the clandestine Quad Ride in Mexico, where Jeremy must have been flirting with me even though he reminded me that we weren't dating right afterwards in a slightly heart-breaking conversation.

And shortly after this sunset picture (taken at Dairy Queen in Casa Grande), we got some things figured out...but you can read about that in Part 2:  The "Courtship"?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Sam's Blog

Sam has a blog.  Here it is:

It's called "The Fantastic Adventures of Sam The Writing Kid."

You should go there.  And leave a comment.  It will make him happy.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Best Mother's Day Yet

I used to get really mad on Mother's Day.

I imagined that it would be like this:

But it really was more like this:

Actually, all I ever wanted was to sleep in and have a little assistance with the kid(s).

*Nobody* seemed to understand that.  (ah-hem)

And going out to lunch after church with everyone else and their screaming children doesn't ever seem appealing or worth the money spent (that I would have rather used to buy myself some earrings or a coffee in peace and quiet), and going out for breakfast=me having to get the kids and myself ready even earlier than usual which is a difficult and stressful task considering we're late to church or school most mornings anyway.

So this year, I decided to rethink Mother's Day.  That meant dropping expectations (or maybe, more importantly, talking about them with Jeremy...because it really would be a lie to say I had no expectations).   So I told myself and him that I didn't want a present, that I would fix a special meal for us (because honestly, I LIKE cooking when I have a good attitude about it instead of being resentful or feeling like a victim), and that I wanted to do something that the kids like doing because really, that makes me happier than fighting circumstances to get what I think I want for myself.

So I did lots of normal things like cooking and cleaning and dressing children and being late for church.  In the afternoon, we went to Red Mountain for a hike as a family.  And when I realized I had forgotten the cookies I had promised to bring as mid-hike bribery sustenance, I said a little prayer that everyone could have a good attitude and that we could make it to the mountain that seemed much further away than 1.3 miles.

And guess what? Nobody cried or fussed (much) and we made it all the way there and back and had a wonderful time!
We could have stayed and played for hours, except that it was getting late and I was worried about mountain lions eating the good little children.
Jeremy was sweet and took a picture of me with the kids...and I decided to post it even though it shows the extra pounds I have been trying to thinking about losing. It's all about letting go of expectations, people.
Somehow during the taking of this picture, the tree attacked us with globs of sticky sap.
I will have to hose off 5 pairs of unrecognizable tennis shoes because of the red dust that is covering them, and the laundry situation will be challenging with the clay dirt and sap mixed together...

...but I couldn't have had a better day.
And there was a $20 Starbucks gift card (with free babysitting included) waiting for me at home.

I think we're all starting to catch on.