My Whirlwind Romance part one ( What wasn’t said)

As I am sure you all have guessed since my last post, there has been a bit that has gone unsaid, so Its time I said it.
I am going to share with you my whirlwind romance. Or at least parts of it.
If you read my post

You know that on one of the most difficult days that I had adjusting to life in Uganda I went to Jinja for a primary program. That day as I sat at the piano in the front of the room, I was looking out over the congregation and I saw, seated on the back row, a man with the biggest brightest smile and eyes that shone with kindness. I remember thinking, “I want to talk to him, I want to know how he feels about things, and what his life experiences have been.” When the meeting was over I did talk to him for a few minutes and then I went home. What I didn’t know was that he was watching me also. He was watching me play and look around the room and he thought ” Wow she must be really good, she isn’t even paying attention to what she is playing!” Then later when I was singing with the children from Lugazi, he turned to Elder Van who was seated next to him and said, I want to take her out on a date. Elder Van informed him that I was only in Uganda a short time.

Me doing a little presentation with the children from Lugazi. This was the day I met Joseph for the first time.

Me doing a little presentation with the children from Lugazi. This was the day I met Joseph for the first time.

That day as I was leaving Joseph (that is his name) watched, resisting the urge to run after me and get my number.
Later he wished that he had gotten it. But he knew that district conference was coming up soon and he figured he would see me and get it then. On the first day of the conference I was sick so I didn’t attend and Joseph disappointed and worried that we wouldn’t get another chance to see each other, prayed that if I would come the next day he wouldn’t let fear keep him from asking me on a date.
The next day, our new interns had arrived and we were scheduled to go spend the day in Jinja at the Source of the Nile. I had really wanted to see it but I also really felt like I should go to district conference. I went and arrived just in time to grab a seat in the back and wait for the conference to start. Joseph was seated on the stand as he is in the district presidency and he was getting worried that I wouldn’t come. Finally he saw me enter and sit at the back. When the conference was over, he was one of the first people to approach me. “Do you remember me?” he asked. I knew I had seen that smile before but I couldn’t remember where and all black people were still looking the same to me. “I’m Joseph, I met you at the primary activity” he reminded me. He asked for my number and I gave it thinking that he probably just wanted it for church purposes, if they needed me to play the piano for something or something like that. But I also hoped that it would be more than that. I wanted to have a chance to get to know him. Not necessarily to date, Just to talk. I just wanted to know what was going on in his head; I wanted to know how he felt about life.
One day he called and told me, “I have a request, but I am going to be busy for the next three days doing exams, would you like to hear my request now, or later” I laughed because I had a pretty good idea what his request was, so I told him to ask me later. He called a few days later and asked me if I would go on a date with him. I told him yes and he told me that he wanted to take me to the Source of the Nile. I was excited that I was going to get to see it after all and I was excited that I was going to finally get to know this guy. As I prepared for our date I decided that it might be the only real date that I would get to go on here so I might as well have some fun with it. I went and bought a new skirt, took an afternoon shower and did my hair and makeup. Then I headed to Jinja to meet him at Two Friends corner. As I rode in the crowded bus to get there, I worried that by the time I arrived I would be sweaty and gross again. Finally I arrived at the corner next to the Two Friends Resort. I stood on the street corner waiting for him to arrive and as I waited I watched the pedestrians as each man would approach me I would think is this him? I wondered if I would even recognize him when I saw him. I saw a man in a dirty brown shirt to match his dirty brown pants, his flip flops flapping all over the sidewalk as he walked. (All of which is a common sight here). And I thought, what did I do, agreeing to go on a date with someone from here? What was I thinking? Just then I saw the cleanest, most put together guy on the street approaching me. When he got close enough that I could see his smile I recognized him right away. He told me we would need to take a boda boda to The Source and asked if I was comfortable getting on one with him or if I would like to ride separately. I told him I was ok sharing. If you read this post

I talked a little about that trip to the Nile. I even posted this picture of the two of us.DSC00420 What I didn’t say was that it was probably the best first date of my life. We talked and talked with no realization that time was going by. He told me of his conversion to the gospel, of the passing of his father, and of his hopes and dreams. I felt like I was reconnecting with an old friend that I hadn’t seen in years. I felt comfortable and at home, I felt like I wanted the night to go on forever. As we sat eating chicken sandwiches and drinking strawberry milkshakes at the restaurant at the edge of Lake Victoria, the sun was setting, we had the whole place to ourselves and the quietness of the evening lent itself to romance.DSC00425 I wasn’t even remotely surprised, when as we stood to leave he took my hand and our fingers naturally entwined together as we started walking through the gardens. When he left me at the gate that night (I was spending the night with a sister in Jinja) I didn’t want to let him go.DSC00424


Is this a polyga-date?

tumblr_lfka2o9RrE1qdmtdzNot ALL of my dates have been bad ones. I’ve had some really good ones actually. This just wasn’t one of them.

I had met Mike somewhere, probably at church or something and I thought he was pretty cute. So when a friend of mine invited me to bring a date and double with him on a snow mobile ride I thought I would ask Mike. He graciously accepted and we headed up the canyon.

As we were getting the snowmobile’s off the truck and getting ready to take off. A ranger came through warning us about avalanche danger. He told us to make sure that we had flares and to be careful and stay on the paths. We didn’t have any flares but we weren’t about to let that ruin our trip. So off we went. Mike liked to drive fast which normally I would have loved but he was really jerky and I was finding it difficult to stay on the back. My legs were aching before very long from clinging to the machine.

MIke pulled ahead of the others and we were flying through the canyon. I had long since given up trying to see where we were going and was just hanging on for dear life. My mask had fogged up so completely that it was all just a blur. I hoped Mike could see better than I could.

Soon I felt snow up around my legs, much farther than it would have if we had been on the road. Then I landed in a pile of snow with Mike beside me. I laughed and pulled of my helmet. Then I stopped laughing. We were literally sitting on the edge of a cliff. And I’m not talking a little one, I’m talking an I can’t see the bottom, and there would be no chance of survival if we went over the edge kind of cliff. We had both fallen off the snowmobile just before it went over the edge.

Luckily neither of us were hurt. And in fact neither was the snowmobile. It was perched jauntily in the very tip-top branches of a large tree. We sat there a minute laughing about our near miss and wondering how we were going to get it out of the tree when I suddenly realized that our first course of action was to get back to the road and flag down the others before they passed us and went further on up the trail. I scrambled to my feet and raced up to the road only to see the snowmobile fly past. We were completely off the road, where no one passing would have noticed us. I wondered how long it would take before they realized we weren’t in front of them anymore and came back looking for us.

In the mean time Mike and I sat and waited. We were both trying to make the best of a bad situation. “Just think, he said, this will make a great story to tell our grandkids.” I choked for a second, did he mean OUR grandkids, or our respective, grandkids, that would be entirely two separate and distinct groups of children…

As I was pondering what he meant I heard a loud, voice of the universe kind of rumbling. Thunder…?

Mike and I looked at each other, our eyes wide, was it possible that we had been spared going off the edge of a cliff only to be buried alive in an avalanche?

I held my breath, waiting and watching to see what was going to happen. Nothing did. Turns out it was really thunder. After a bit of a wait and not a little frustration the rest of our group found us and we pulled the snowmobile back onto the road and headed home. Now I know what you are thinking, that’s not such a bad date, right. Well, see the bad date hadn’t started yet. A couple of days later, I was talking with Mike in the lobby, Maybe I’m a bad listener, maybe he is a long talker, we may never know but somewhere along the way I had spaced out a little during his monologue until suddenly Mike brought me back with, “well, what do you think, do you want to go?”

I scrambled, trying to guess what he might have been talking about, finally I decided to go out on a limb. “Yeah, that sounds fun,” I said,

“great I’ll pick you up at about 6 then.”

“So, um, which day is it again?” I asked sheepishly

“It’s Saturday, the concert starts at 7:30 but its going to be a bit of a drive. I thought we might get dinner afterward as well.”

Ohhh, sounds like he asked me out on a date and I totally missed it!

I went home and told my room-mate about it. She told me that there was a group of people going and that she was going with the boy she had been dating as well. She was able to fill me in on the fact that we were going to a symphony in Salt Lake.

Saturday night rolled around and I was ready when Mike showed up to get me. He came to the door and all was fine till we got back to the car and there was a girl sitting in the passenger seat of the car. I was confused to say the least.

I got in the back seat and we started to drive. Somehow I had missed something huge. This was not what I had in mind. Either Mike was a wannabe polygamist who had decided to save a little time by courting both of us at once, or this was no date at all.

We met up with the rest of the group and we were the only threesome, the rest were couples, obviously on a date. I felt so awkward. during the concert the other girl and I sat on opposite sides of Mike. I wished I could have sat in a different section. She had this annoying laugh, which I heard often. And when she did laugh she would open her large mouth really wide and her tongue and hangy man would do this weird little dance where one looked like it was trying to catch the other. I was both horrified, and mesmerized by the strangeness of it all. And I could not believe that this was the girl I was in competition with. I decided then and there that if this was my competition, I was out of the game. I was not going to play this game with her.

The concert finally ended and we proceeded to the second part of our awkward threesome. Dinner was fun, because I just ignored them completely and visited with the others. But on the way home, she offered to let me sit in front as though he were the prize and she wanted to give me my fair share of time sitting in the honored position next to him. I very graciously declined that honor and claimed the back seat.

I guess I will never know who was at fault for this strange mess. Maybe he had some explanation. Probably not. Whatever the case was, any charm that I had ever seen in him was lost and that was the last ahh hmmm, “date” I ever went on with him.

God and Grief

the-five-stages-of-griefI was walking tonight down the streets of Los Angeles and I felt something I haven’t felt in a while. The wind was blowing and it was dark and the air was crisp. I was crossing the street and I suddenly felt a little bit of a skip to my step. I felt myself smelling the coolness of the air and I started questioning what this feeling was. Then it came to me…I think its hope. I think its hope that there is still a future out there for me that I can be happy with. I think there is still joy to be had and I think I am on my way back to feeling it.

I’ve always had this idea of heaven, that it was a place where you would feel no sadness, no grief, no disappointment. And I’ve wondered, if that is the case than it would have to follow that God doesn’t feel those things either.

So, if God doesn’t feel sadness, what does he feel when he looks at the sorry situation that so many of his children are in. How does he feel when he sees a gunman shoot down children in a school in Connecticut. If he doesn’t feel disappointment what does he feel when he sees his children making poor choices. How does he feel when he sees us throw away the talents he gave us. If he doesn’t feel grief, what did he feel when he watched his son die on the cross for each of us.

I was over thinking this today and I think I came up with an answer.

I was thinking about the five stages of grief. Which I believe are inappropriately labeled. I think that they are not stages so much as a cycle. Everyone who experiences grief knows that you often experience each “stage” several times. Since Ryan and I broke up i have watched myself repeatedly go through these steps.

The first is denial. This one is suddenly no longer a problem for me. Since he got married there is no way to convince myself that there is any hope for us anymore. Not that I really believed there was, but in moments of weakness I wondered. I imagined him coming back to me on bended knee telling me he had made the biggest mistake of his life. I had to stop there since I couldn’t see us actually getting back together but that’s beside the point. There is no way to hide my feelings behind the shock and helplessness that I felt. Its staring me right in the face. And it’s ok. Denial served its purpose, which was to help me pace my grief in a way that I could deal with it.

The second stage is anger. This has been an interesting one for me. When Ryan and I first started getting serious we had a talk one day about how we handle difficult things. I told him as an example that if we ever broke up I would hate him and that hate would help me move on. He seemed upset by that and told me that he just couldn’t stand the thought of me hating him. He asked me to promise him that if we ever broke up I wouldn’t hate him. The odd thing is that in all of the times that I have cycled through the various stages I have pretty consistently skipped this one. I can’t be mad at him. I have felt a little frustration at isolated incidents or little things that he did or did not do. I have felt an intense sadness at times that he just couldn’t love me enough. But through it all I have never been angry with him. I have always wanted his happiness, remembered his soul the way I saw it in tender moments when he let me in to have a look and I just can’t feel anger towards him.

The third stage is bargaining. This one has also stopped since he got married. I used to find myself thinking, “If I could just find the right thing to say to him to fix this…If I could just be in the right place at the right time…” somehow I was always searching for a way around the situation instead of through it. Until recently. His getting married had a lot to do with it but that wasn’t all. Even before he got engaged I found myself countering those things by other realities of how and way I don’t really want that to happen.

The fourth stage is depression. This one has gotten me the worst. Except it doesn’t really seem fair to call it depression to me. I have dealt with depression. True, deep, clinical depression and this wasn’t it. This was hurt, loss, hopelessness, lack of energy or enthusiasm, and a desire to do nothing but sleep and cry. But it wasn’t the same as depression. At least not for me. This stage is the one I still struggle with the most. It’s the one that wakes me in the night to stare me in the face, it’s the one that makes it hard to swallow sometimes, and its the one that can make me cry for absolutely no reason while I am stuck in traffic in the middle of the afternoon.

The final stage is acceptance. Each time I cycle through all the stages there is a deeper and deeper acceptance of what is. This is the stage where I believe the most healing takes place. It’s the stage that allows a little rest.

As I was thinking about these stages and about my reactions to them I realized that whenever I have a true, deep and I would even say perfect understanding of an issue related to one of these stages I get to skip that stage.

For example, I had a dear friend who died years ago. She was old, she wanted to go, she had lived a good life, and she had many people on the other side she was looking forward to seeing. I experienced grief when she died but only a couple of steps. I experienced Depression and Acceptance. I did not experience, denial, anger, or bargaining. I believe that the reason why was because I knew it was time, I knew it needed to happen, I could see it coming, I knew she wanted it. I knew it was the way it should be. I knew it was perfectly right. And because of that there was no need to experience anger, denial or bargaining.

That’s what led to my epiphany. As I grow through each situation and gain a deeper understanding my experience with grief is different. It doesn’t change the situation. It changes me so that my response to the situation is different. And I thought about God. I thought about his all-knowing, perfect understanding and perfect love of us, of the world, of eternity and I thought He is our father, his heart functions in much the same way that ours does only his is perfect and with that perfection comes answers that we just don’t have.

So I think when God watched his son die for us, or watched suffering throughout the world, when he saw my dear friend lose several children, when he saw grief beyond what we can comprehend I think it is not that he doesn’t feel those things but that he feels them perfectly and with that perfect understanding each of those stages dissolves leaving only absolute truth behind.

Monopoly or Love…what’s the difference?

Have you ever played a board game with a little kid? It can be rather confusing. There is no rhyme or reason to the rules. If you pass go and collect $200 they just out of the blue decide that actually passing go means you pay them $200. You only get three rolls in yahtzemr_monopolye but if they don’t get the dice they want somehow they get 5 or 6. It means that you carry them around on your shoulders when ever they want, clap and cheer for them when they win or when they lose, and basically do whatever they want. It’s a total guessing game as to what the rules are and somehow they just expect you to know.
I’ve always known that guys are really just little boys in grown up bodies so it shouldn’t surprise me that they play with the same kind of rules but it doesn’t make it any less confusing.
When I first joined the LDS church I thought I understood how dating worked (based of course on the TV shows I had seen and the books I had read.) Basically boy meets girl, they both just somehow know they like each other, they fall in love, things don’t work out quite as planned, they have a tearful but mutual goodbye, hearts are broken and it is sad, you shed a few tears it’s a little romantic and then they get over it and meet someone wonderful who makes up for everything and makes you realize that of course this is how things were meant to be all along. Then you get married and live happily ever after. Those were the rules. Or at least I thought.
My experience has been something more along these lines.
You spend way too long wondering when MR. Wonderful is going to come along, and then you meet someone and they are great, and you wonder, could this be it? But he never says the word date even though you are spending a lot of time together. There is not a magical “knowing” and so you assume that there is nothing there. You continue, thinking you are just friends until one day he gives too much of his heart and you break it without ever realizing that it was on the line. You feel horrible, but move on wondering how you missed the signals, you thought you were following the rules.
So, you meet someone else, he is exhibiting the same behavior, spending lots of time with you, telling you all the things you want to hear, buying you things and becoming your best friend. You recognize that you have seen this behavior before and you think “Ok, I know what this means. Now could I like this guy?”
It feels a little weird to consider it, he feels like just a friend but, hey we don’t want a repeat of last time and you want to be sure. So you give it a shot. And about the time you have put your heart on the line he tells you how beautiful he thinks your room-mate is and asks you if you think he ought to ask her out. Totally confused you get angry and wonder how you missed the signs, how you hadn’t followed the rules yet again. But you adjust move on and figure you learned something for next time.
This time you meet a guy that you can’t keep your eyes off of and you can only cross your fingers and hope. He notices you just enough to keep you guessing, spends just enough time with you to keep you confused, then just when you are about to give up on him as a lost cause he tells you he likes you, spends the next year or more making you feel like your world revolves around him and just at the moment when you can vividly see your future with him as the central character, he tells you he just doesn’t feel it after all.
The hurt that you thought was supposed to last a short time, lingers and months later just the thought of him makes you feel like you swallowed an elephant and it got stuck in your throat. He on the other hand has moved on and is happily engaged to be married to someone he just met.
I don’t know what the rules are anymore, in fact I’m not even sure which game we are playing anymore. Nothing has worked out the way I thought it would. And so when the nicest guy I’ve met comes along and starts spending time with me, I’m not going to assume we are just friends, I am not going to assume he is interested, I am not going to follow the rules I set for myself, in fact I am going to pretend like none of it is happening at all. Because that’s the only option left. I don’t want to love someone right now, I don’t know if I could, or if I would if things had been different. I know I enjoy spending time with him, so as long as he wants to I am going to. I know that he makes me feel comfortable and happy, so I don’t want to hurt him. Maybe he will read this and know where I stand, how I feel, and have a better idea of how to play this game than I do. I believe that he is one of the best men I have met. Beyond that all I know is that I don’t know enough to know what to think.

So, if i’ve managed to confuse you…GOOD. We are even.

My Sister Steve

I have a lot of sisters. More than most anyway. I love all of them, but…

Today I want to introduce you to Stephanie.

When Stephanie (not her real name) showed up I couldn’t have been more excited. It changed my world. She was the cutest thing to ever grace the planet. She came out a whopping 10 lbs 12 oz. She came smiling and cooing and flirting with the doctors. And boy was she a lady! As she grew into a toddler she was gracious, proper, sweet and good. Her golden curls framed her cherub face and accented her bright blue eyes.

She loved her pretty dresses, she loved being doted on and fawned over. She posed for pictures (and yes we encouraged her plenty) and she was everybody’s sweetheart.

When she was a little older, she turned into quite the tomboy. She climbed on the roof, set a fire in the shed, gathered the snails that were oh so plentiful in our large garden and threw them at passing cars. She played in the dirt, teased the neighbors, pulled pranks and played tackle football with the boys. And we started calling her Steve,

She started running the tractor around the yard, digging trenches and shoveling truck loads of dirt and she got strong! She earned the nickname Lumber Jill. She got her way and nobody wanted to cross her. She was my big little sister.

A little over a year ago, she was in a horrible accident and almost died. She broke her femur, her back, her neck, all her ribs, and did incredible damage to other parts of her body. Those injuries will probably always be with her. One of the changes,(whether it was from the accident itself or whether it was from the experience I guess we’ll never know) changed her in a way that has been fun to see. She became more open. Since then more people are seeing one of the things that I have always loved about her. Her sense of humor. She is hysterical. She has friends on Facebook who are really mostly her friends so that they can see the funny random things that she posts.

So I thought I would give you a little taste of the Steve that I know. Here is a text message conversation from my cell phone. It’s funny, but the funniest part was that…

she had it with herself.

She saw my phone laying on the table and she started answering her own texts.

So here it is…

Hey pal its been awhile…

I know I missed your quick wit

Aw you’re sweet! 🙂

I know if I was a popsicle I would lick myself…

lol that sounds kind of bad

I know, I was trying to give you a visual but ended up giving myself a visual too and that was weird.

Yeah I bet lol. Speaking of popsicles I saw your boyfriend yesterday

Oh yeah what was he doing? And more importantly what was he wearing…

It was a nurses uniform and he was cleaning gutters at the old folks home. I saw his thighs.

…um I hope you told the bishop.

He sees them all the time, why do I have to tell him. Theres gutters at the bishops too ya know.

Oh right. Well at least they’re hot.

Yeah like bacon.

I had bacon once. It was a bad experience. lol

It wasnt fully cooked was it

no, it was still on the pig. I’m scared of pigs

You know people back in the olden days used to brush their teeth with the hair from a pigs butt!

While it was still on the pig?

Of course not silly! They pluck pigs once a week and save the hair.

Oh…that makes sense. Hey where’s that book you were telling me about yesterday?

The one about the orgasmic brownies?

No sicko! The one about how to clean ear wax out of your ear with a bobby pin.

O yeah, I dropped it in the toilet

How the heck did you do that?

It’s an inappropriate story…

hhhmmm I can just imagine.

Hey, I have my reasons and most of the time they are valid

Yeah? Like the time my cat got butt rash…Nothing was valid about that.

Well there are exceptions to everything. I didn’t know paprika was bad for cats.

There is such a thing as Wikipedia…

Do I look like a person who googles stuff like that?

Well you never know, you are kind of weird.

Yeah I do eat weird things but at least I wash my hands after.

Not with soap.

Soap stinks.

So does deodorant but you use that. Or wait…no you don’t. lol

Hey! I have a problem! I do everything I can.

Um growing your arm hair out and braiding it is not doing everything. In fact, its making things worse.

Well excuse me for trying to make myself dignified.

Dignified! The best you can do is barely civil!

You’re rude

Yeah. But I have a cute face 🙂

Cute in whose opinion?

That’s my sister. She keeps us laughing.


It’s only the beginning


They say you never forget your first love.

There are so many things that I never will forget about mine. I will never forget the way I felt when I first realized that he cared for me. I will never forget that first time that he hesitantly reached for my hand. I will never forget that terrifyingly wonderful moment when I realized I was about to have my first kiss.

I’ll never forget being at work and getting a simple text from him asking if I had been drinking my water (something he knew I had a hard time with) and suddenly realizing that I loved him. I will never forget the thanksgiving day when snuggling together on the couch he whispered to me that he loved me.

I will also never forget the moment standing on a hillside feeling as though my world had come to an end when he told me that it was over for good between us. Things had never been perfect. But I had loved him with everything that I had in me. And although it is over I don’t regret giving my heart. It has grown so much bigger, and is so much more capable of love now than it ever was.

This week I found out that he got engaged.

I may never see him again and I may never get a chance to tell him all that i have in my heart so I will say it here. Here where he will probably never see it, here where I can send it out into the internet universe and put it to rest one final time.

I would tell him, that I am happy for him, that the man that I loved, the boy that I saw inside of him, the friend that knew my heart like no other is still someone that I love. I would tell him that I want his happiness and that I hope that she and he will have all of the hopes and dreams that I know he longed for. I would tell him that after everything we have been through together I just hope that one day if we run into each other I will get to see a genuine smile, from both of us. I would tell him to please not worry about me and to know that I too will find someone and find the happiness that I longed for.

I would tell him thank you for the good times, for the memories and for helping me to become a better person.

Before we broke up I worried that I might not be able to love him in the way that I would need to love and respect a husband. I prayed that I would see him the way that God saw him, so that I would know what kind of man he really was. That prayer was answered and I saw a man whose heart was so full of love and kindness I saw a man that God loved.

When things ended between us we walked and talked for a long time, and he told me that he loved me and probably always would in a way. But that it was just like a puzzle piece that just didn’t fit. Heaven knows we tried hard enough and long enough and it just never clicked. All of that is over now. He found the missing piece of his puzzle and I will start on a new and exciting journey to find mine.

I hope that I will forget the pain of that moment when I saw on his face the love that I waited for too long to see. I hope that I will forget the plans that I had for our future. I hope that all that will remain will be the joy, the growth and the memories. I don’t want to cry over this, I know it was never in the cards for us to be together. He fulfilled his role in my life and what we had will always be a part of who I am. I always said that everyone needed to have their heart broken once. Well now I’ve had mine. And while I will never forget him, I also will look forward with faith knowing that good things, wonderful things are in store for me. It truly is just the beginning.

Visiting the Oakland Temple

When you are a nanny for a 17 month old, you have plenty of time to think. Conversation isn’t exactly stimulating…

Me: “Hey bud, are you ready to go for a drive?”

Eli: (silence)

Me: “Let’s check your diaper first ok?”

Eli: (still nothing)

Me: “Oh my goodness, you are poopy again!”

Eli: (Little chuckle)

That’s pretty much how my day goes. It’s a little different from talking to yourself…but not much.

So in my moment of reverie, today I learned something about myself. I learned that I want to get married.
Now before you freak out at me for stating what is probably obvious if you know me at all or have even read much of my blog, let me explain.

Today, Eli and I are exploring Oakland Ca. Sitting high on the hilltop overlooking the city is this beautiful structure.  It is an LDS temple,  one of 139 functioning temples spread all over the world. Eli loved the fountains, and running up and down the long sidewalks that bordered the stream. On the roof of the temple is a garden. It’s so beautiful that it really does take you back to old movies depicting heaven or the Garden of Eden. Flowers whose fragrance is so sweet that the warm air carries it to you before you have even leave the stairwell, bloom in perfectly manicured beds. Hydrangea, Cannas, and other flowering bushes and trees are in abundance. A lone gardener in a plain blue uniform is sitting next to one of them meticulously inspecting the bright red flowers growing there.

With nothing but the sound of the wind rushing through the palm trees and Eli’s occasional squeal at something that he has found, I spent most of the afternoon wandering the grounds of the temple.

That’s pretty typical of a day on the road with Eli, we wake up usually at about 8 have breakfast in the hotel by nine and then go swimming, shopping, exploring museums, or whatever else I can find to do until about noon when, after eating lunch, most of which gets left on the table, Eli falls asleep. I sit in the hotel while he sleeps and work on homework, watch tv, or spend way to much time playing angry birds.

In the afternoon when he wakes up we usually look for a park or a garden to go play in until its time for his mother to get off work.

A typical day for me when I am home goes something like this…

I get up around 8. Run some errands, do some scrapbooking, work on homework or go to school depending on the day. Then in the afternoon I go to work where I get to work with boys in a secure facility. I help them with home work, music, or whatever else happens to be going on that afternoon. We have a lot of fun together. Then I go home and check facebook to see what events I’ve got going on that night and plan my evening.

I promise there is a point in telling you all of this. Today after Eli and I finished walking around the temple gardens we went to the visitor’s center. Most of the time I find some of the little video’s that they show in places like that to be a little cheesy. Today I must have been feeling differently because some of the things that they said, literally brought me to tears.

If you have never been to a temple visitor’s center inside the have a number of different displays that explain various things about what we as Mormons believe. One of the displays was a series of rooms that all tell a story. As you enter each room the light comes on and a video starts to play. In the first room there are just a bunch of red rocks and the video starts showing a family hiking along a trail (probably in southern Utah.) One of the children ventures too close to the edge of a cliff and falls. He is saved by a ledge just a few feet down and everyone goes home smiling.

Later that night, the father is sitting on the front porch deep is thought as he listens to his children playing and wrestling inside. His wife comes and talks to him and they discuss how glad they are that their family is all together and that an accident had been averted that day. They talk about remembering what is really important. They talk about how our Heavenly Father put us in families so that we wouldn’t be alone, so that we would belong, and so that we would be happy.

The scene moves on and you watch as babies are born, grandparents die, and other important or not so important events bring this family together. You watch them playing and making memories, you watch them fighting and forgiving, but what really stuck out to me for some reason is that I watched them be together and for the first time I realized that I want a family.

I have always known that I wanted children. But I thought of them as babies, I didn’t think of my children as companions, as grown up teenagers or young adults. I always wanted a husband and knew that, that would erase the loneliness that I feel as a single person, but I never thought of the whole thing together.

A family.

A group of people who you live your life for and with. They are the people you sit around the table with for dinner each night, the people you go camping and hiking with in the summer, the people you fight with sometimes, worry about, celebrate with and enjoy beautiful gardens with. They are the people you build lasting memories and lasting relationships with.

That’s when I realized what I was missing in my life. I realized that I don’t just want to get married so that I can have cute little babies to hold and cuddle, I don’t want to just get married so that I don’t feel stuck and left behind in a life that I can’t control, I don’t just want to get married to have a husband and a companion to love. I want to get married because family is God’s way of bringing happiness into our lives.

I saw those people on the video sharing all those moments and I felt the contrast to my own life. Suddenly I desperately wanted to have that. I know that I will one day. I know that this time is perfect for me. That I have exactly what I need right now. I know that I have family. In fact I have more family than I hardly know what to do with. It’s just that with all of that. I find myself living alone. Coming home at night to an empty house, sharing the beautiful things I see and experience with a child who can’t even speak and who isn’t mine. Worrying about burying my dad and taking care of my mom without anyone by my side. It’s lonely and it’s hard. But wow! Do I have something to look forward to! So here are a couple of challenges to any who happen to have read through my ramblings.

1.) If you live near a temple, Go. See the Our heavenly father’s plan for families display and see if you can leave without crying!

2.) If you have children, or a spouse, or siblings or anything that represents family for you…imagine your life without anyone of them and be grateful that God’s plan included making them a part of your life.

and 3.) Spend some time alone and see what ah-ha moments you have.