Sunday, December 21, 2014

Seven Years

So, today, it has been seven very eventful years of marriage to Graham.



I seriously cannot believe that it has been that long. Cliche or not, the past seven years have flown by (or crawled by in some instances). I swear, it was honestly yesterday that I was saying yes to marry Graham (we don't say "I do" in the marriage ceremony in the LDS temple).

I remember bawling my eyes out yet also listening to my stomach growl embarrassingly loud during the 3 PM (? is it weird I don't remember the actual time we got married) sealing ceremony.

I remember my panic and anxiety attacks pre-engagement.

I remember our first kiss in a church parking lot after seeing Spiderman 3 with friends.

I remember our first real date during the Cinco de Mayo festival on the Portland waterfront.

I remember saying I love you for the first time under the stars on the Oregon Coast.

And so many other moments in the meantime.. But I'm not going to go through all of the high- and low-lights of the almost eight years we've been together. I'm here to talk about what I've learned and felt.

Seven years is really not that much time in the long-term perspective, but in a 30-something's life span, it sure seems like a lot, especially considering that I got through college and grad school in the same amount of time.. And I changed and learned a lot during that time of my life. Although I gained a substantial amount of knowledge during my college years, I still lacked understanding of relationships and love. Marriage is one of the best teachers and motivators of change for personal lives (as long as you're willing to learn and change).

Graham has taught me, intentionally or not, about the power of forgiveness in personal relationships. Sure, there may be instances in which a personal relationship should be ended when offense has been given, but forgiveness can be utilized even in situations where irreparable harm has been done. Forgiveness has been given to us by God to truly free us from entanglements and resentments. When exercised to its full potential, we can move on, be free again to love others, and not be weighed down by our past. I never considered myself to be a particularly forgiving person, as I clearly remember when people have hurt my feelings or did wrong against me. But, after all I've been through, I feel like I can forgive people of their trespasses, little and big. Someone called me a "saint" for getting back together with Graham, but I don't even come close to meeting that description (HA). Marriage is fraught with interpersonal conflict, hurtful things done/said, and little annoying things that build up into big frustrations. By holding on to old hurts, pains, and resentments, it can cloud your view of your spouse and forever taint anything good or new they ever do. If you're always looking at your spouse with poop-colored glasses, you'll just forever be dissatisfied. Nothing your spouse will say or do will ever be right. Without regular acts of forgiveness, true love within a marriage is not possible.

Graham has taught me about honest, true love, and what that means as a married person. It does not mean that we will be blissfully happy and walking on clouds every day/month/year of our life. It doesn't mean that we will always be able to make each other happy. Sometimes, our relationship will feel more like work than love (or more work than fun). I don't get butterflies when my husband enters the room (I saw someone post that and I kind of rolled my eyes a little). Sometimes I want to wring his neck for doing something stupid. But, you know what actually makes me happiest and makes me love him the most? Serving my husband.. Doing something nice for him that he doesn't expect. Doing something for him that he truly appreciates. Giving him space to enjoy the things he loves (i.e. sports), no matter how much they annoy me. True love to me is when Graham wakes up early to start my car outside in the cold every morning.. without me ever asking. Love is feeling like home when I'm with him, no matter where we are. Of all the guys I've ever been with, I've never wanted to be with someone so much.. All day. Every day.

Graham has taught me how to be honest, in a hard way, I guess. I needed to learn how to be truthful to myself and to others about my feelings and intentions. It wasn't only with his issues, but mine as well. I am not a saint, nor will I ever be. I am trying every day to be a better person, and to be true to who I am and who I could be. When you're married, you can no longer hide your flaws and only put your best face forward. Your spouse can see everything about you--your weaknesses, frailties, your strengths, your kindness, your mean streak. And yet, they still choose to love you even though you are just a human.  Honesty is being you, the whole, imperfect yet still lovable you.

Graham has to taught me to be kind, and not just to your spouse. I never knew anybody like Graham that could be so nice to other people and yet still be able to understand my sarcasm. He has the empathy that a kind person has, and yet still can tease people. He offers to help people all of the time. He is nice even when I don't think he should be. He is such a good example to me of someone trying to be Christlike and loving to others. I was definitely not blessed with that trait, but I'm glad I married someone who did. His inherent kindness has even tempered my sarcasm and cynicism, something I never thought possible (me--the sassy teenage girl who once bragged she could make fun of any one at any time).

Anyways, marriage is slowly helping me become a better person by learning to forgive, be honest, and to truly love others. It's been a learning process, with some major growing pains for sure. At times, I've seriously questioned if he really was the right one to marry, especially considering the trials we've been through. And really, now that it's been done, why does it matter if it was the right decision or not? I've made the commitment to God, to Graham, and to my family, and now I need to live with my choices, for better or for worse. I'm not unhappy with my choice..in fact, right now, I am pretty damn happy with my choice. I couldn't have picked someone better for me. He loves me, and I see it whenever I look into his eyes. And because he has loved me, I will never be the same. (Oh boy, this is now teetering on the edge of being totally corny. Now busting out Celine Dion: I'm everything I am because you loved me.)



Here's to another anniversary and many more..

Friday, December 12, 2014

Mortifying Myself #2: Building my self-esteem

So, I was pretty insecure as a teenager, as many girls were. This has remained with me even throughout adulthood. Anyways, my junior high years were rough because I never felt like boys liked me, even though I did have a "boyfriend" at a different junior high in the area in 8th grade. So, in high school, I got a little more attention from boys, especially since I was a cheerleader (probably what I'd been hoping for). Every time I thought a boy was looking at me, or thought I was cute, I would write about it in my journal. That's how important it was to my self-esteem. I became friends with an older boy who played basketball on the varsity team, so we talked a lot and he would tell me some of these things..

Me at 15-16 years old:




2~8~1998
"Well, Friday nite, I found out more guys think I'm cute than I thought. Tom and Josh do, and so does Keith (since he always stares at me) and so does Peter.. (Ben probably does too, because he looks at me too.)"

2~12~1998
"Several guys on the varsity basketball think I'm cute, and I think I will be a babe when I'm older. Boy, I can't wait!"

2~14~1998
"He said he, Keith, and Ryan were talking about me at the basketball game. They were talking about how nice a body I have, and how great it will be when I get old. He said I was 'well made'."

3~7~1998
"Well Sadie Hawkins [a girl-ask-boy dance] was last night. Everybody else was excited, except for me. I didn't wanna dance w/ Doug! I ditched him on a couple of songs. Rian kept trying to freak with me and stuff, and I did for not very long, and I think Doug saw us. Maybe that should be a hint Doug!...All of the seniors said hi to me tonight. I just attract the older guys! Also, I didn't get to dance with Ben, so that was pretty bad. But, Aaron pinched my butt and I think Dustin likes me, so, Gottsta go. C-ya."

3~13~1998
"Well, I have found some more guys who think I'm cute, Doug ___,baby! He is such a babe!"

4~17~1998
"P.S. Josh said he doesn't like me; we are just friends. That doesn't mean he doesn't want me!"

5~25~1998
"I can't believe my freshman year is over!! I liked being a freshman. The year has gone by so fast!! The best part was the 2nd half, when I realized I was cute, and people would like me if they could."

Anyways, that's all I will torture myself with right now. You get the idea: I was obsessed with boys, and learning that I am actually attractive to the opposite sex.

Next installment: learning how to flirt as an awkward teenage girl.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

God will never let me be successful..

I don't know how many of you are as big Seinfeld fans as we are, but we know many quotes and watch the whole 9 seasons at least once per year. One thing that always makes us laugh is Graham's likeness to George Costanza in many ways. Graham may not be stocky like George, but he has other similarities (**cough cough balding cough cough short**).

--Graham has eaten out of the trash like George.
--Graham has to do the opposite of his natural instincts sometimes, like George.
--Let's not forget that Graham had to move back in with his parents for a little bit, like George.
--He also has had many many things go wrong for him, like George.


Related to that last one, our married life has often been a comedy of errors, with everything seeming to go wrong for us (like the day when Graham wrecked someone's ATV and I also washed his new Blackberry in the washing machine).. Or in Hawaii when Graham left his cell phone at the Dole Plantation, I left my cell phone at Sephora, and Graham went swimming/snorkeling with the rental car key in the pocket of his swim trunks.

And now, things are actually going suspiciously well.. Well enough for Graham to say something to the effect of, "God will never let me be successful", like George said in Seinfeld. It's not like we actually believe that, but our luck has never been great (related to coincidence or choices, I guess)..

We have several bits of good family news:

--Graham got a new job. And in fact, it's not just a new job--it's actually a career. He is currently going through a very strenuous and intense hiring process. I won't give too many details, but it's a stable government job, with lots of benefits and potential. It doesn't start out at high as if Graham has been hired on as an engineer, but definitely better than where he's working now. There are some negatives, but we will deal with them as they come (more on that later). Anyways, we are beyond excited for this opportunity. However, this does mean that we will pretty much live in this area forever.

--The even bigger news. This has been my dream for the longest time.. We are officially in the process of buying a house! Once we decided Graham wasn't going to finish his engineering degree, we had to be a little more realistic about where we could afford a house. That limited our selection a bit more, especially when it came to finding a house in a good school district. The schools around here are awful (well, maybe not all of them), so we found an area we like in a good school district a bit farther away.. The bad thing is that it will make my commute to about 25-35 minutes each way. Graham will be able to do a Park-and-Ride parking lot with a bus ride to work. So yeah, we are getting a USDA loan with an amazing deal on a renovated semi split-level home on a cul-de-sac. It has mostly everything that we were looking for, and I am so happy to finally have a place to call home. We should close by the middle of January and be moved before February 1st.

We are just sooooo happy that things are going well for us--FINALLY. Pray for us that everything goes well for Graham's hiring process and our USDA loan approval.

Choosing Design Features for our Lexar Home

Remember my list of wants/needs for our dream home with Lexar Homes? Well, after that was taken care of, there were a couple of design fe...