TIPS FOR NAVIGATING A MIXED-FAITH MARRIAGE

If you are here reading this, you either really love me or you are touched by this topic in some way. If it is the latter… know you are in very good company. I have been reluctant to write a post like this for fear of being incapable of including all of the unique aspects and variables that accompany a mixed-faith marriage. I am speaking primarily to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints navigating a marriage with differing belief systems, as this is the realm that we’ve actively been working in for the last four years. But of course, this may apply to any religious affiliation.

At the end of this post, I just want you to know:

  • I see you and hear you and support you however you choose to handle this delicate situation.
  • You are not alone.
  • If anything in this post triggers you or makes you feel uncomfortable… I am sorry. My attempt is to share what is working for us and so if my frankness is off-putting, please dismiss. I feel so strongly for this growing community and I am hoping that something I share may be helpful to you and your marriage.
  • I am not an expert. I don’t claim to have all of the answers. These are tips. An opinion piece at best.

First and Foremost:

When we found ourselves on two different trains going in two very different directions…we had to make the decision if this, our marriage and relationship, is worth it. Worth the pain? Worth the compromising? Worth leaving what is comfortable and familiar? Was it worth the potential changes…and possibly very life-altering ones at that!?! Nick actually placed divorce on the table as an option before anyone else did as he knew he had thrown a pretty large curveball to our new marriage, and said he wouldn’t blame me if that was the route I wanted to take — we’d barely been married 6 months at this time. Though that was not his preference, he recognized the severity of what was happening. Our decision was and is that it is worth it to us to make it work. Whatever your answers are to the above questions, I respect you. If your answer is “Yes, it is worth it”, then please scroll on. These tips are an accumulation of working through hardship, making lots of mistakes and recommitting (sometimes daily) to not only make it work, but be in a happy, fulfilling marriage.

We were married in the Bountiful Temple on July 18, 2014

There were never bigger cheezers.

This was in the heat of our faith transition. (Picture may be deceiving.)

So, in no particular order, a few ground rules at the Homer household:

(1) SET THE RIGHT TONE

After Nick’s beliefs in the Church started unraveling, it became very clear that we were no longer on the same page. He no longer believed in God or in an after life, let alone any of the unique truth claims of the Church. There was a huge disconnect. We were angry. We were grieving. We were upset and confused as to how to make this work. This was all new territory for us. Nick, in a matter of months, went from being an orthodox member of the Church to a name on the ward project list. But, early on in our deep conversations Nick said something to me that changed the way we communicated. In the middle of a heated dispute, he grabbed my hand and said, “Chels! We’re on the same team.” He made it VERY clear that he wanted me to be happy. If the Church made me happy, then he wanted to keep my relationship with the Church in tact. Boom. It clicked. I heard and saw (words are not enough in this situation) from Nick that he had my back. AND this is a big deal, as I understand many in my shoes (or the “believers shoes”) are not met with this same liberty… but this alone was KEY in providing an environment where we could attempt to communicate. (If you ask Nick, this is his #1 piece of advice.) I was relieved that he wasn’t intentionally out to try to change my beliefs. It automatically set the precedence that I didn’t need to fight him as much as I needed to figure out how to paddle alongside him… which is a completely different (much more doable) battle to fight in my opinion.

As the spouse who had this situation thrust at them as opposed to choosing this path, I personally attribute much of our ability to converse to Nick’s non-argumentative approach in our conversations. And, I have to preface, Nick was ANGRY. This easy-going, peacemaker of a man who I married was completely devastated, obsessive, frustrated, and angry much of the time as all of this new information was coming to light and this religion he held in the most upright esteem came crumbling down. But if Nick were to have approached me solely with the goal of discrediting my testimony and relationship with the Church, I can guarantee my fists would be up and we would not be having a constructive conversation.  Nick at least gave me the opportunity to match his tone… it is SO much easier to have a level-headed conversation when it’s presented that way.

So, for those who are initiating the faith transition, consider this a unique opportunity to set a tone to a very large and important conversation. You get to show your partner that above all, you want them to be happy. And in the end, help dictate how this conversation and the thousand more to come will go. Shutting down, dismissing or trying to convey every new detail recently learned isn’t helpful. Coming from the spouse who was devastated to hear the news of my husband’s changing beliefs, it was much easier to match the tone of the conversation when I knew it was coming from a place of empathy, respect for boundaries, and validation… NOT out of a place to sabotage or attempt to discredit. And hopefully your spouse will match your tone to the best of their ability. We have to remember, we each have our own personal, private, intimate faith journeys. Projecting our experiences onto others is never helpful. Make aware, sure, but be certain the conversations are consensual — as should everything else be in the relationship, right? Allowing room for each other to breathe and practice religion in the way each sees fit can go a long way. As was the case for us.

(2) TALK ABOUT IT

I cannot comprehend being in a marriage where topics as LARGE and ALL-CONSUMING as religion and lifestyle are off limits. If that works for you, great. But, it did NOT work for us. I had to talk about it. And as a result of Nick’s non-aggressive attitude, I felt like I could ask questions. Nick provided an environment that I felt was safe. I knew that if I wanted to “tap out” of a conversation at ANY time, I could… and it happened often. I would tell him I wanted to take a breather from the conversation or in much more heated times (very common for the first year), just the word “Stop”. He would respect my limits. His goal was not to convert me to his new beliefs or discredit my testimony. As we engaged in more conversations, I felt more inclined to ask, “Why?” Why don’t you believe in modern day prophets? Why do you think that way of Joseph Smith? What don’t you believe in a higher power? But it was on my time and readiness to talk. And, as a result, he felt validated. 

In time, I became genuinely interested in why Nick, who’s origins are as orthodox as any (more than mine when we married), would sacrifice EVERYTHING (including our relationship) in departing from the framework of Mormonism that he was brought up in, and that had resonated with him so profoundly for his entire life up till now. I could see the hurt and pain it caused him. He sacrificed A LOT. So there must be something to it. I couldn’t label him as being deceived and unintelligent. I knew that wasn’t true. So, I asked. I wanted to know.

And I recognized early on that if I didn’t make myself available or at least try, Nick would turn elsewhere and he would not include me in these life-altering conversations because he was actively vetting people trying to see who was “safe” to talk to and who was not. I could not accept being on the “not” list.

(3) IF YOU CAN’T TALK…TRY VALIDATION

Many spouses who are in my situation — on the receiving end of a spouse’s faith transition — have told me that they don’t want to talk about it. They aren’t interested in engaging in ANY conversation that contains information contradictory to that of the Church’s teachings. And that is 100% a valid response. It’s okay to not want to engage in conversations. It’s okay to not be interested in your spouse’s new beliefs. It’s okay to feel angry and upset. It’s okay that attending the Temple alone might bring mixed feelings and that reading your patriarchal blessing makes you feel resentful of the “life you could’ve had”. It’s okay to worry for your children. It’s okay to not want to talk publicly about your life or be interested in hearing about others’ stories. It’s okay. All of this is natural and healthy and normal. Give yourself permission to be upset and grieve. It’s a process. It’s okay to not be okay.

So if the thought of conversing about specifics of a faith transition sounds like too much to handle, one suggestion I have is to be able to validate your spouse in another way. I took myself (emotions, pre-conceived notions, and testimony) out of the situation and put myself in Nick’s shoes. How isolating it must be to experience what seemed to be a “Matrix scenario”… everything he thought he knew is no longer truth. How claustrophobic, disappointing, and upset would that make you?

Similar to the children’s movie Smallfoot, it is clearly painful for the yeti, Migo, to live in a community that does not validate his newly found truths (discovery of a smallfoot). It’s easy to feel for him because the rules of the community are so outlandish and unrelatable.  Like Migo’s dad needing to hurl himself across the mountain every morning to hit a giant gong in order to wake up the glowing snail in the sky. So, like, of course, Migo… we (the audience) believe you!! It’s easy to find yourself rooting for Migo and his quest for truth because we have no skin in the game. But these same principles of listening, validating, hearing Migo out, as simple as they may appear, apply here with us, just on a much more personal, complicated level.

This theme of “finding your own truth” is portrayed in SO many films. My favorite right now being Moana. I remember listening to the song, “How Far I’ll Go” with Ellie months ago and started sobbing as I saw so many parallels to our life. To me, everything seems to speak of mixed-faith these days. 🙂

But the lyrics:

“I’ve been staring at the edge of the water
Long as I can remember, never really knowing why
I wish I could be the perfect daughter
But I come back to the water, no matter how hard I try
Every turn I take, every trail I track
Every path I make, every road leads back
To the place I know, where I can not go, where I long to be

I know everybody on this island, seems so happy on this island
Everything is by design
I know everybody on this island has a role on this island
So maybe I can roll with mine
I can lead with pride, I can make us strong
I’ll be satisfied if I play along
But the voice inside sings a different song
What is wrong with me?”

 

This is Nick. Nick is a tall, blonde Moana. He has expressed these same feelings to me, just not in the form of a song. Why is it when a leading character in any film or book seeks to find their own truth (often going against the rest of the community) we are inspired… but when it’s one of our own it’s merit for disownment? Obviously real life religion is much more complicated than a young Disney girl wanting to sail, but there are parallels that are hard to deny.

This song has been played 500x since. It has given me permission to feel gratitude for all of the horizons Nick has opened my eyes to see. It has helped me gain my sea legs (as uncomfortable as it may be) and provided us with some amazing views… ones I wouldn’t have seen if I’d refused to try to paddle alongside him. Though our beliefs don’t completely overlap, I’m learning to see value in others’ journeys…especially when they don’t look like mine. And this doesn’t mean I need to build him a boat, launch his sail, and pack a lunch for him… but the very least I could do is validate the voice inside of him. I mean, Joseph Smith is a pioneer of this concept and as a result founded OUR Church. Think how many people called Joseph deceived, lost, and a disgrace. And yet, we can’t support someone else who finds truth outside of the Church. Whether we agree or not, we have to see that forcing someone to accept our truth isn’t going to make anyone satisfied.

So statements like…

“I love you”

“I want you to be happy”

“What are your new beliefs? (Not to be confused with, “Why don’t you believe?”)

How are you finding purpose in life?”

“How can I help you feel more loved?”

…could go a long way to help your spouse.

(4) TAKE ONE DAY AT A TIME

I noticed our conversations felt much less hostile when we tackled the issues as they came up. When I harbored ill feelings and experiences and didn’t process them with Nick, the animosity would build over time and eventually make itself present in a conversation of little importance — which would obviously blindside Nick. It made conversing about religion more painful and much less effective. So, may I encourage talking about things as they arise. When Nick became a topic of conversation in ward council, I came home to talk to him about it. When I noticed he stopped wearing his garment top, I asked him about it… rather than justifying, making assumptions, or hoping something would change next week. When he made a controversial comment at a family function, we chatted about it afterwards. We talk about things as they come up. And the frequency of these conversations makes communication seem much less daunting and scary.

This brings me to the point of the future. I often get asked if Nick has started drinking, doing drugs, watching porn, etc. I have heard from many couples who battle over “word of wisdom” issues more than anything else as it’s not uncommon for spouses who transition away from the Church to want to engage in behaviors that were once considered “forbidden”. Nick has not engaged in these activities, yet. Though, for me, I have asked Nick when/if he does decide to drink alcohol that he tells me beforehand and we can at least talk it over first. I want to be included in these decisions. I won’t stop him, though he knows the complexity of this issue for me (alcohol has definitely negatively affected my extended family for generations), but I want to KNOW. I want to know if he decides he wants to go to a bar, or when he decides he wants to branch out and try something new. That will help me tremendously over having him come home drunk or sneaking around and lying about his behaviors. This is our current compromise and one I feel good about.

(5) GET SUPPORT. EMBRACE THE COMMUNITY

Nick recognized early on that I wasn’t able to completely bear the load for him while he was processing his new and old beliefs. He, fortunately, had a few good friends that acted as great sounding boards. I hesitate to mention this point because friends can really set the tone of the transition…so I was very aware of who Nick was talking to and what types of things they were discussing. Nick also found an incredibly insightful, uplifting FB support group called, “A Thoughtful Faith Support Group.” (ATF) This group tries very hard to steer clear of anti-mormon sentiment that’s so prevalent in other online ex-mormon groups or forums where tearing down members and complaining about all of the Church’s practices is much more prevalent. I have heard from many “believing” spouses who have discovered that their transitioning spouse complains about them and their family on these sites. How terrible and counter productive. I can confidently say that this ATF support group is heavily moderated to make sure the conversation stays constructive and helpful to bridge the gaps (I’m a member of this group too). This group was a saving grace for Nick in that it provided him with a community full of others experiencing similar feelings all the while navigating this loss of faith in many different, but helpful ways.

For the longest time I had held on to this heavy secret because it was, as I believed, Nick’s story to tell. After about a year of processing and keeping this to myself, I finally broke. I realized this is MY story as well. I deserve support just as much as Nick. The burden of carrying this load all alone was too much. The secrecy ate at me. I finally encouraged him to be authentic and tell his parents. He told his family and close friends. Months later, I decided to post on social media accompanying our daughter’s blessing day (a story worth it’s own blog post). I clicked “post” and put my phone down. I had no idea how people would respond… it’s always natural to assume the worst. But when I returned to my phone a few hours later, I was SHOCKED. I had tapped into this overwhelming wave of love and support. I get emotional every time I think about it, but I hope everyone is met with this type of love when they become transparent about their struggles. And that’s not to say we didn’t receive backlash…we definitely did and still do. But the pain of people distancing themselves, preaching to us, telling us that we are ruining our children’s lives PALES in comparison to the love and support we’ve received.

A few helpful FB support groups for spouses who are choosing to stay in the Church (if you have trouble finding these groups, let me know. I can add you):

Mormon Mixed Faith Marriages — my personal fav of the three (you hear both sides)

Believing LDS Members with Doubting Spouses

Support for LDS Women Whose Spouses or Family Have Left the Church

(6) CALL THE PROBLEMS FOR WHAT THEY ARE

One of the best things about being transparent about our journey is the new friends and connections I have made from others in similar situations. We have tapped into a whole new network and it’s unbelievable. Since the Church shared our story on their Instagram account, Facebook page and website… I have had the privilege of hearing hundreds of stories — stories of heartache, hope, loss, pain, and gratitude. Each story is so unique and beautiful in it’s own way.

However, through hearing many stories I’ve seen an underlining theme: disrespect. Often people will associate abusive traits to that of the spouse transitioning away from Mormonism (“being deceived”). When relationships become physically hostile, or children are being pitted against parents, or people are sabotaging spouses in front of family, or partners complaining about each other online… let’s call that for what it is: DISRESPECT. And in some cases, straight up abuse. That is not a faith transition. That is a lack of emotional skill-set to handle the situation.

I had one woman tell me that my story wasn’t a valid “mixed-faith household” because my husband didn’t berate me. He wasn’t hostile enough. Until he starts threatening me and begins distancing the children from me THEN I could complain. And though I wanted to discredit her definition of mixed-faith and call her situation for what it is: verbal abuse… I didn’t. I validated her story. I tried to empathize with her heartache. Her situation was terrible and I knew it was her pain talking and for that I felt sad for her. There have been many conversations that have left me feeling sick and it’s becoming more and more clear that in some cases it has become so much more than a faith transition. Grief is one thing. Feeling hurt, angry, devastated, betrayed, hopeless, disappointed, and confused is totally normal. But, notice how personality traits, coping skills, emotional maturity, and values also play into the equation. I personally (and very passionately) believe a faith transition does NOT warrant abuse and disrespect. 

And I don’t bring this up to alarm anyone. Every relationship dynamic is different. Everyone’s definition of what a healthy and fulfilling relationship looks like is different. I just know it’s so much harder to identify and treat each problem individually if everything is labeled as “lack of faith”. At the end of the day, it certainly couldn’t hurt to ask yourself, “What other aspects of my marriage (if any) may be contributing to the stress that is being thrown under the umbrella of mixed-faith?”  

Or see a therapist.

(7) FIND COMMONALITIES

I, without even knowing it, had assumed that because my husband no longer believed the Church to be true that he, as a result, had also distanced himself from good morals. It didn’t take long to figure out that, no, Nick was still very much the same man I married in regards to honesty, his work ethic, his love for me, his desire to be a responsible citizen, to be a good father, to do what’s best for the environment, to serve and be a good neighbor. Just because he has a hard time with the truth claims of the Church, does not mean he’s decided to throw every good thing out too.

If it helps, I’d even sit down and go through values and qualities that are important to both of you. Write them down. What are things you want to see in your spouse? Branch away from the tangible expectations of LDS members (temple recommend holder, priesthood holder, Church attendance, garments). A few ideas may be things like being honest, ambitious, an attentive parent, virtuous, trustworthy, brave, vulnerable, intellectually stimulating, funny, service-oriented, a good friend, etc. For example, just because your spouse isn’t serving in your local congregation, doesn’t meant they don’t care more about service… the means of service might just be changing (serving at a homeless shelter or with refugees, rather than in church organized projects). It may surprise you just how much you still have in common. And then, if there is still a rather large discrepancy between the two of you in what values you deem important, I would then re-evaluate the situation. And… once again, maybe consider therapy.

(If at the end of this whole blog, the only thing you get is motivation to see a therapist… that would be a job well done on my part. )

(8) TAP OUT OF THE FEAR-BASED MINDSET

The thing that distanced me the MOST from Nick during his spiritual quest was the fear of losing my own testimony. I did not want to see or hear ANYTHING that was contrary to the Church. Nothing. As I became more interested in him and our conversations became more candid, I started to notice, wow… maybe there are some legitimate problems. This is an entirely separate topic of conversation, but, my point is, when I tapped out of the binary mindset that either EVERYTHING had to be true or NONE of it was true— it was liberating. I found it was possible to see things more critically AND still have a positive relationship with the Church. It did not have to be a black-and-white situation. And for me, that was a relief. Fear definitely kept me from loving and understanding him. Let go of the fear and shame. Let go of the expectation to appear perfect. Let it go. It is not serving you. Replace that fear with gratitude or love. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve repeated the simple saying, “Perfect love casteth out all fear”.  My life is far better off since I’ve relinquished the pressure to fit the LDS mold and have let go of the fear and shame that was apparently in the driver’s seat (without my permission I might add).

And, I will be honest. This process isn’t easy. For me, it has been rather painful. To look at something that I have always loved, cherished and never once questioned with a critical eye can elicit a number of difficult emotions and experiences. Nick, who recognized this pain of mine, asked me a few months ago if I could, would I take his faith transition back? And I honestly said no. I am beginning to view our situation as less of a disability and more of an opportunity for empathy, self-awareness, communication, and critically evaluating what verbiage and beliefs we want to use in our house. In a lot of ways this faith transition has been a positive boost to our relationship as we’ve had to throw out preconceived notions and expectations of each other, almost starting completely over, and work together to embrace each other for who we really are. It is definitely one of those “it gets worse before better” scenarios, but it gave us permission to stop meeting everyone else’s (and society’s) standards for our marriage and instead set our own realistic, personal goals that were better suited for us. 

This fear-based mindset similarly affects those who are distancing themselves from the Church. Nick has on occasion pointed out some cultish similarities here and there with the Church. He is not alone. Many who discover information that is more than startling about the Church immediately have the instinct to run, leave, and never look back. And that, again, is a fair and valid response. However, marriage doesn’t always give us the liberty to act impulsively and selfishly. It is definitely give-and-take. The same liberty Nick was so desperately wanting from me — an open mind, validation, willingness to sit with these painful ideas — I too needed that from him. Not everything about the Church is vile, evil and terrible. There is beauty in being able to internalize the complexity, sort through the broken pieces and acknowledge the good and the bad. For Nick, the good comes in the form of a community. He enjoys being able to meet neighbors at Church. The good could simply be that it provides your spouse with happiness. Whatever it may be, the pieces are worth sorting.

A few weeks after the Church had posted our story, I received the nastiest email I have EVER received. It was degrading, belittling and rude. I wish I could say it was passive aggressive… but it was 100% aggressive. This woman writing me had experienced being in a mixed-faith marriage years ago. She has since joined her husband in leaving the Church and her family has never looked back. I respect her and her journey. What I don’t respect is they way in which she was telling me that my journey wasn’t valid. She said I was a disservice to everyone in the community. I am ruining lives and families by setting the precedence that I can stay in the Church without my husband. Ellie will be ruined. The Church is evil. I’m not listening. If I REALLY listened to Nick, then I would be gone. I finished reading it and had to physically go outside to catch my breath. My blood was boiling. I was so angry. I started walking and I probably cursed for maybe a block… or four. After an hour of processing it over with Nick I returned to my computer and started typing.

The same accusation that she accused me and all other Mormons of falling victim to, black and white thinking, she herself was practicing as well. It doesn’t have to be an all “in” or an all “out” situation. There are more options here. Just because I am aware of issues regarding Church history, current policies and doctrine doesn’t mean I have to follow the same trajectory that she did. Is she valid? Yes. Am I valid? Yes. Nick does not believe ANY truth claims of the Church as pertaining to the “one true religion” but that does not mean he cannot look at the good pieces and acknowledge them for what they are. She responded to my email with a sincere apology, gratitude that I am not “that type” of LDS believer, a wish to continue to keep in touch along with a few more jabs. I never responded.

Don’t let fear be the guiding force—for either spouse.

(9) GET OUTSIDE OF YOURSELF

The easiest way for me, personally, to feel empathy is listening to others’ stories. I started attending a support group for those who find Church to be difficult yet still hope to maintain a positive relationship — for the sake of a loved one or themselves. Regardless of intent or reasoning, it is pain that brought everyone to that support group. I am in no way saying you should be attending a group like this. I think for many it would be too painful or trigger unwanted emotions. But sitting in a room and looking into the eyes of someone who is hurting for VALID reasons changes you. For me, this exposure had a way of melting away my pride and almost immediately dismissing all of the excuses I and other well-intentioned believers told me regarding why people leave the Church— lazy, sinful, deceived. In SO MANY cases, this is simply not true. I started to recognize, we have a problem. Though, the Church has always been a safe and welcoming place for me, it isn’t for everyone. And that was a hard reality to accept.

How often do you chat with those who may be on the fringes of the Church? Our Church culture has a way of focussing on faith-promotion, and if that isn’t working for someone, maybe they just need to try harder to follow the program. But, to truly mourn with those that mourn, we need to talk about the pain. The very least we can do is recognize that it exists.

I know one of the most difficult things for me was seeing how quickly Nick was dismissed. How quickly his thoughts and new beliefs were swept under the rug. Nick is incredibly bright, well thought-out, loving, and considerate. I knew this. I married him for these reasons. To hear someone quickly label, “he’s deceived” or “Satan’s got ahold of him” was incredibly dismissive. I knew that wasn’t true. I KNOW HIM! So… yeah, the proximity in which I was seeing this situation unfold (up close and personal) allowed me to dismiss the rumors and weird justifications others had for his situation. Don’t generalize. Let this be seen as the complex, sometimes confusing situation that it is.

(10) SET BOUNDARIES WITH FAMILY

Just as you take the time to set boundaries between each other, it is just as important to set boundaries with extended family. Raising children can often be a full-fledge family affair. As a result, the opinions from grandparents, aunts, and uncles may be very present in your journey. Set boundaries with what types of activities you’d like them to engage in with your children, and what might be overstepping. I’ve come to find the more open and vulnerable I am with my loved ones, the less heartache and frustration I feel leaving family parties and activities. Hopefully they will be respectful of your wishes.

**And this is under the assumption that you have told family. Telling family is a personal decision. Everyone has their own timetable for such events. Personally, I have to say, telling family was WAY more beneficial than keeping it secret. I wish I had done it sooner. Though, it brought it’s own set of unique hardships. I will never forget the family gathering where I pled, through tears, for everyone to love and support Nick (as he nor I felt supported or loved). It was incredibly awkward and not very validating, but being vulnerable about our struggles brought relief and authenticity back into focus again. And I craved authenticity.

(11) STOP COMPARING

Just stop it. Fortunately (and unfortunately), we attend a ward that consists mostly of retired individuals so there are very few families in our stage of life. There is much less to compare to on a Sunday which I know for some is a big challenge. Comparison truly is the thief of joy in this ball game. It’s great to acknowledge positive qualities you admire from other couples and families, as long as you acknowledge the good qualities of your own.

If you need help with some positive spins on the mixed-faith situation, here are a few that I have discovered:

  • Thoughtfulness. We have become VERY mindful in how we approach religion…much more so than when we were both orthodox. Religion is not a passive word at our house (or even something we can coast on)…it is active and deliberate. Nick and I talk about religion every. single. day. This has pushed me to learn, research, form opinions and do what I feel is best for my spirituality as well as the spirituality of our home. For this reason, it has been a great opportunity.
  • Children. I heard the analogy from a podcast comparing raising children in dual-language households with that of a mixed-faith household. It may seem like children would really struggle learning two different languages at such a young age, but they don’t. They do remarkably well. And the same can be said of mixed-faith households. I have received dozens of messages from adults who were raised in a mixed-faith household who have all shared how positive and liberating it was. According to them, it was much less confusing than I often project into my own future. There is hope…assuming both spouses can respect each other’s beliefs and engage positively with their children when talking about those beliefs.
  • Goodbye Church perfectionism. Hallelujah. For as long as I can remember, I have let the need to be perfect/fit the mold/do EXACTLY as I am told dictate my life. These expectations had a tight grip on me. After Nick became public about his disbelief, it strangely gave me permission to let go of the need to be the “role model family” and actually breathe, re-evaluate the trajectory of our life, and be authentic. I didn’t realize how frequently I let the fear and shame of not meeting those expectations affect me. FREEDOM! This has been one of the biggest blessings yet.
  • Empathy. This is reason enough that I find value in our complicated situation. I have been able to love, connect, and serve those who I never considered or could relate with before. And I, like you, can do so in such a unique and fulfilling way. I feel just as much of a disciple now as ever before.
  • The Church needs you! The Church needs me. The Church needs Nick. They need our unique perspectives. They need communication coming from our mixed-faith household to the Church programs. If everyone who has had a bad experience leaves (or does so quietly), there won’t be change. And we need change. We need to learn how to better to associate with those who have doubts, disbeliefs, or fully want no affiliation with the Church. We need to learn how to sit with someone who is experiencing the loss of a childhood religion. We need to humanize what is happening to so many friends and families in the Church. This camp that we find ourselves in is growing, rapidly. We need to be advocates for those who are on the fringes. For those who feel forgotten and some who want to be forgotten. They need us all! Your story has value.

Also, still accepting volunteers to move into our ward.

(12) RELINQUISH THE WORD “SHOULD”

My life “should” look like this. My husband “should” be acting like this. My kids “should” be learning xyz. For me personally, I have had to let go of any expectation that my husband will return back to full activity in the Church (though he still does attend Sacrament meeting most weeks). Many well-intentioned people tell me, “He’ll come back one day. I know it.” And I can’t believe that. It only leaves me with more resentment and ill-feelings as I am holding onto these expectations that may well never come to pass. I can’t live my life holding out for the day that Nick will resume his fully believing status. Deep down I feel that day will never come  and I can’t hang that over Nick’s head. It’s not productive and is hurtful for both of us. So I have had to work hard to let go of the “should” word and learn to embrace Nick as he is now.

If it is helpful for you to hold onto that belief, do it. Just don’t, for the sake of your sanity, put your happiness and peace fully into the hands of your spouse’s religious affiliation. That strips all power from you and puts total control on your spouse. And I don’t think setting goals solely based on another’s actions is healthy or responsible. 

(13) BE AWARE OF LABELS

One of the most awkward parts of becoming public about our mixed-faith journey, was trying to pinpoint this complex, multi-dimensional situation into one cut-n-dry label. The question I get all the time about Nick is, “So like is he “in” or is he “out”? It’s part of our human nature to want to categorize people quickly. They’re less active. They’re anti. They’re TBM (True Believing Mormon/True Blue Mormon). It’s inevitable. So I straight up asked Nick what type of verbiage he wanted me to associate with his journey. That way when people ask me (they often approached me first before talking it over with him) where he was at with the Church, I could tell them… along with, “Maybe you should ask him. He’d be happy to talk about it.”  

The reason I emphasize “caution” is because Nick (as I’m sure your spouse does) listens. He knows how I talk about him just as I know how he talks about me. Labeling him as “deceived”, “anti”, or “off the deep end” can be hurtful. Verbiage matters. It matters greatly here. I have also used this same practice in guiding how I speak about ward members and strangers. I am VERY selective on my vocabulary. There are too many horror stories of these dismissive labels getting back to the source and inflicting more unnecessary pain.

(14) REMEMBER: IT’S A JOURNEY NOT A DESTINATION

Each stage will present itself with new difficulties… especially with children. There are landmark years in the LDS Church, beginning with a baby blessing to baptism, to potentially priesthood ordinations, to missions, and marriage. Years ago, my mom told me of a conversation she had with a dear friend who was going through a messy divorce. This friend told her, every time my dishwasher breaks, or my car needs a new part, or when I’m needed in two places at once because of kids, I’m reminded of the divorce. It’s like picking the scab, over and over and over again. It never seems to fully heal. You think you’re over it and then a new experience slaps you in the face and the emotions resurface.

This idea really stuck out to me at a young age. And it has became much more relatable as we’ve been trying to navigate our family’s faith journey. Every time we attend a friend’s sealing, or I go to the temple, or when I read my patriarchal blessing, or when I am sitting in a very closed-minded lesson about “less actives” at Church, or on Ellie’s blessing day… they, too, are accompanied by pain and anger. And that’s okay. I give myself permission to feel these feelings. And then I give myself permission to dismiss them and let myself find joy in our new reality. 

(15) DON’T LET OTHERS WEIGH IN ON YOUR MARRIAGE

At the end of the day, no matter how much unsolicited advice you get from others (or this blog post), IT’S YOUR RELATIONSHIP. Only you and your spouse know all of the details. Trust yourself. There is no right answer here. Considering all the pieces of your marriage, relationship dynamic, strengths/weaknesses… YOU get to decide (1) if it’s worth piecing back together (for a new, beautiful reality…. not the same as was before) and (2) how you go about doing that. No one else… not your parents, neighbors, bishop, RS president gets to tell you otherwise. Just you. 

I hope you know I love you. I’ve spent months writing and rewriting this list all with the attempt to help those couples who seem to be at a loss. I’m sure I will have poster’s remorse… but at the end of the day, if you find a tip here or there that will help you take a step in any direction, then it will be worth it for me. 

If you need a friend or some extra support, feel free to message or DM. I’m a good listener and a really great lunch buddy.

And here we are now…with a cute little backpack that drools.

Also, here are a few podcasts we’ve recorded if you’re interested in listening… though I bet you’ll need a break from us after this post. 🙂

Link 1: https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/thriving-in-motherhood-podcast/e/54502917

Link 2: (Includes Nick’s perspective) https://www.mormonmarriages.com/blog/s01-e09-navigating-a-mixed-faith-marriage

 

WHO DO I CHOOSE?

This is the article submitted to the LDS Church’s Blog:

Who do I choose, God or my husband?

I never thought I’d be in a mixed-faith marriage. We hadn’t even celebrated our first wedding anniversary before my husband told me he no longer identified with most of the truth claims of the Church. I was hurt and confused. We both were. I had imagined this honeymoon stage playing out very differently. Rather than focusing on this new exciting thing to be married, we were trying to compromise on theology, lifestyle, and what felt like our entire future.

Where do we go? How do we navigate this journey? Who do I choose?

“This isn’t fair.”

My husband’s beliefs changed and as a result I’m the one who suffers the consequences. Or at least that’s what it felt like. It wasn’t until we started to become more open about our faith journey with those around us that I realized I wasn’t the only one suffering. My husband was having a very hard time with this transition too. Having been mostly surrounded by LDS friends and family his whole life, it seemed to him that nobody was really interested in understanding him as much as they were interested in trying to fix him.

That’s when it hit me. Rather than seeing the situation as a dichotomy (he’s either with me or against me), in reality, he was just begging to be understood at a deeper level and I was needing that same understanding from him. Navigating a faith journey that deviates from family and the surrounding community is no easy task. Getting married with the understanding that we shared similar beliefs, only to have that foundation ripped out from underneath both of us is no easy task. Feeling “forced” into a faith transition because a spouse believes differently is, again, no easy task. It can be complicated, messy, and confusing for all parties involved. I believe both sides deserve more love and understanding.

Prior to this experience, I hadn’t truly considered legitimate reasons as to why someone would not want to come to church or choose to doubt their previously “bulletproof” testimony. While we don’t necessarily agree on all of those reasons, I can understand why it is difficult for him to want to attend church, or to believe as he once did. As I’ve focused more on understanding him and loving him where he currently is on his faith journey – not where he was or where I hope he’ll be – he too has come to understand me and recognize the ways in which his faith transition has impacted me. Through this process, we’ve come to see that in more ways than not, we are still very much on the same team and can respect each other’s differing beliefs while remaining authentic to ourselves.

It was this act of “moving in” together (HUGE emphasis on together) that changed the dynamic of our situation and also changed the way I worshipped. I stopped looking for things that separated my faith from others — my husband included — and started focusing on the good people had to offer. And that’s not to say it will be easy. We just blessed our daughter last year. I recognize each new stage will present its own set of difficulties, but I hope by our open communication and “same team” policy that we will both be able to speak our truth and do what feels right.

To me, the Savior embodies what it is to practice perfect love. He loved when it was uncomfortable, not reciprocated, and even ridiculed. His love did not discriminate based on convenience or what society deemed as acceptable. A simple, yet powerful commandment He told His disciples, one that He repeated three times over, “Love one another, as I have loved you” (John 13:34-35). I am so glad this commandment didn’t include disclaimers. Can you imagine, “Love one another, except when someone does not believe or act as you do, then please disregard commandment”? It sounds absurd when it’s in this context, but when life gets real and loved ones disagree on personal matters, this simple but powerful statement can get lost in translation.

Unfortunately, we are not alone in what can often be a difficult, isolating journey to navigate our religious beliefs. Faith and religious activity are personal and as such they don’t always follow the same trajectory as that of a spouse, friend, or neighbor. The last few years have given me a front row seat into the lives of many who, like us, are fighting to stay in the Church. If only we could see the amount of bravery it takes for some to simply show up, I’m sure we would embrace everyone who walks into the Church doors with open arms, all judgment and assumptions aside.

Though I could pick sides and choose who to love, it’s such a relief knowing I don’t have to. I get to love God. I get to love my husband. I get to love others independent of where they find themselves on their faith journey — no strings attached.

ELLIE

Ellie is beautiful, bold, opinionated, inquisitive, and strong-willed. She came to us with such intensity and it hasn’t let up yet. She is a miracle and we are so, so grateful she came to us. Here’s our first Father’s Day gift.

Babymoon: Germany, Austria, and Hungary

For Christmas, I “surprised” Nick (*hard to surprise when he had to get time off work) with a babymoon trip to one of his favorite places on Earth, Germany. I figured it would be one of our last trips together, just us two. So we booked the flights. And decided to travel spontaneously, no hotels, tours or transportation booked.
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We arrived in Munich mid-afternoon and immediately drove to Marienplatz, the central square. We saw a good look-out, had our first German sausage, and explored the city. We only had a day in this city, but it was definitely worth a visit. Perhaps my favorite part was the cute hotel, Hotel Laimer Hof, Nick found on the outskirts of Munich. It was quaint, yellow (my favorite color), and endearing…not to mention walking distance from the Nymphenburg Palace. We took a late-night stroll around the park grounds and it was perfectly relaxing. One of the perks of traveling during the winter months is the lack of crowds. We had this whole dreamy building all to ourselves. It was so peaceful.

BABY HOMER

I was SO nervous, I could hardly sleep. The whole night I was tossing and turning, mentally preparing myself for another disappointment in the morning. It was a few days later than the “suggested window” to test, as I could not bare another false positive. Finally, with the sun peeking through the blinds, it seemed like a reasonable hour to be awake. I snuck out of bed before Nick got up. Without going into too much detail, I unwrapped the last pregnancy test, said a quick prayer to accept whatever the result may be and proceeded to “test”.

I set the stick on the counter. I couldn’t bare to look. For a year I’ve so desperately wanted to see two positive lines, but never did I receive an authentic positive test.

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TIS THE SEASON

So, I’ve had it in my head to make a wreath for months. I destroyed my last one trying to create a decoration for a YW’s event. Needless to say, the decoration didn’t work out and that was the last of anything remotely appealing about our front porch. Months went by, and nothing. I FINALLY found my way to Pinterest (often times I am too intimidated to get on this overwhelming site.) I was scrolling, scrolling, scrolling. I love green. Everything green. I’m all about natural decor. So, when I saw a fresh, green wreath I knew I had to brave a trip to Hobby Lobby in search for a wreath wire ring.

Things you’ll need:

Wreath wire ring
Two types of greenery (totally up to you). I went with large, dark green leaves accented by lighter, smaller leafed foliage.
Scissors and wire cutter
Green floral wire
Ribbon

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FLOWER SHOP BLISS

Monday morning.

I needed a little pick-me-up, so I drove to the flower shop down the street. I always make a mental note every time I drive by the shop to stop by and grab some flowers, but somehow life gets in the way.

This morning, as I was walking into the shop, I was greeted by three little boys exiting the flower shop, all wearing tuxes. They looked like perfect gentlemen. Each one had a rose in one hand to take to their mother. I smiled at the father who quickly ushered the boys into the car. And they were off. I couldn’t stop smiling as I was picking out a fresh arrangement for myself. It was the perfect way to start the week, if you ask me.

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FALL IS HERE


A little wind-blown as we headed up to the scenic overlook where we had out very first date four years ago. This last year has been a real kicker (you know where), but I’m grateful for Nick. I’m grateful he endure the most painful, awkward first date EVAH and married me two years later so we could hike the SAME mt. two years lateeer, slightly less awkward with much better chemistry.

*Also, we avoided a very close run-in with a not-so-friendly rattlesnake on the trailhead. Apparently, this hike is not for the faint of heart.

AND, WOULD YOU LOOK AT THESE LEAVES!?! This can’t be real life.

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DATE NIGHT WITH A HINT OF PODCASTS


We went up the canyon tonight for date night (loooong overdue). It was so refreshing to just be us two relaxing, chatting and learning how to longboard (well, I was). It was the perfect summer night with a hint of the crisp fall air. hmmmm.

Nick and I are knee-deep into podcasts, lately. So of course, the only thing we could talk about is our latest Invisibilia episode. (Warning, shameless podcast plug ahead.) It’s amazing how much absent minded time we have (driving, cooking, scrolling) to listen and learn something new. I’ve noticed some pretty drastic changes over the last year (since the podcast obsession started), and I’ve found myself feeling much more empathetic and socially aware of issues and demographics I had never been aware of. Not only that, but I feel our marriage has improved, as weird as that may sound. These podcasts have crept into out late-night pillow talks (say goodbye to sleep) helping us evolve as a couple, topic by topic. Learning new information, whatever format that may be, has a way of making you step outside of yourself, evaluate your current beliefs, analyze where you’d like to be and adopt new frameworks (if necessary). Nick and I are different in so many ways, but these podcasts have actually leveled the playing field a bit and come to find out, we aren’t as different as we thought:)

It’s seriously a habit worth forming. Hop in the car, turn off the radio, and push play on the latest episode. Whether it’s inspiring or even a little uncomfortable (it’s not always easy looking at a familiar subject with a new lens), I have NEVER regretted pushing play.

If you have any good ones, we’re all ears. And, of course, we’re happy to share our growing list as well.

Here’s a few of our most recent favorites:

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A WEEK UNDER THE STARS

LAKE POWELL! This is one of my absolute FAVORITE Homer family traditions. This trip alone is worth marrying into Nick’s family 🙂 Talk about the most beautiful scenery, best water toys (ahem, thanks to Nick) and food fit for kings. I joke with Carol (Nick’s mother) I eat better this week on the house boat than the rest of the year combined. She seriously is a wizard when it comes to cooking and baking. We are blessed to say the least.

I took out my camera the last two days to *try to document a SLIVER of this pristine beauty around us. One of my favorite parts of the trip is sleeping atop the houseboat. Nick started this tradition as a kid and has yet to do anything differently. I can see why. Falling asleep as the stars move overhead and waking up with the early sunrise (see video below of the moonrise) is pretty humbling.  Ahh! I really can’t put this trip into words so I’ll just post a slew of random pictures of my in-laws and the scenery we basked in all week. Hope you enjoy:)

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The cutest boy, I ever saw, was sippen ciderrrrr….

 

Nick aside, these girls are my everything! I find it funny that such a HUUUUGE part of my life is only documented when we’re dirty, sleep-deprived and camping…but I have to say, after a year+ of loving these girls, this last week in the mountains is one I will never forget. I can’t really put into words what these girls mean to me. They have saved me many times this year and I am forever grateful for our weekly Wednesday nights and earrrrly Sunday mornings we spend together. There has been so much healing and growth and it’s just the beginning.

What I love most about girls camp is the 24/7 of pure bonding that happens. We all progressively get dirtier, smellier, and less inhibited as the week goes on and it totally rocks! I love it!

During a few of my scripture study sessions, I reviewed the last supper in John, chapter 17. This chapter is one that I hold very dear to my heart as this is one of the last times the Savior is able to love and prepare his apostles before his crucification. I cannot even imagine the heaviness and confusion that some of the apostles may be feeling at this point, as no one can really comprehend what is about to happen. These men have already sacrificed so much and devoted their lives to the Savior, but little do they know the impact this week will have on them. (*ALL of them will eventually give up their life for the sake of the Savior.) Through this dinner, the Savior takes them away from the world and buoys them up, giving them hope and comfort. The last thing he does is pray for the apostles to be with Heavenly Father, then he goes to perform the act that will allow them to do so. Everything about this chapter and the intercessory prayer is loving, empowering and selfless.

Often times, when I feel alone or discouraged, I’ll read this chapter and pretend I’m also in this room with the apostles, listening to the Savior’s sermon. There is so much unity and strength when we tap into the powers of God and His loving Son.  I felt a few times that this week in the mountains was to a very small degree “our own last supper” where we (leaders + girls) were able to bond; share our fears; give encouragement; ask hard questions; look to the truths we do know (whatever they may be); and most importantly, love each other. It’s all about love and inclusion.

One of my favorite parts of the week was the second to last night,

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TWO YEARS

Here’s a little story I wrote to Nick for our two-year anniversary. We spent the whole day in the airport catching our connecting flights back home from Alaska and didn’t have time to celebrate. I’ve tried to think of a way to explain what these last two years have been like for us, or for me, so instead I made up a silly little story. 🙂 It’s been a hard road with lots of changes and big decisions that neither of us ever planned to make. At the same time, I can’t remember my life before Nick. It’s like he’s always been a part of my soul. I love him. I honestly can’t imagine trying to exist without him…it all seems so strange. I’m sorry these thoughts are so scattered, but that’s what marriage is sometimes:)

Happy two years, Nick!

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On the morning of July 18th, I stepped onto this old, rickety sailboat. The wood was dark and aged. The sail had seen better days. But the boat, the boat was well-loved and oh so inviting. You assured me the dents and scratches had been looked at and I could see your quick handyman skills had mended the knotted lines to set sail. I took one last glance at the beautiful and comfortable shore. The sand was covered in footprints from the day before. I squished the cold, fine grains between my toes. Oh how I love the sand. The waves gently crawling up the shoreline meeting the stillness of the morning air.  Was I sure I wanted to give it up? Your hand reached out to me, breaking me from my train of thought. Your eyes glistening, eager to set sail. You looked toward the horizon and back at me, your smile getting wider with every passing second. I took one last look at the beautiful shoreline and stepped into the boat.

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Filming in Ketchikan, Alaska

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A little backstory: Alaska has a special place in my family’s heart. My grandparents have created this tradition of going every year or two to stay on Grant Island — a remote island with little reception and a whole lot of family bonding time and fishing, of course:) Last year, I brought all my camera gear with me to try and capture the beauty of Alaska along with some familiar faces. Long story short, I edited the footage and posted it to my FB page for the purpose of showing my family. It only took a matter of hours before dozens of strangers were sharing it to their FB pages. I was shocked. Silverking has a special place in many, many hearts. And unbeknownst to me, Silverking hadn’t really had any video footage documenting what this remote island has to offer. So for the first time, avid/hobbyist fishermen/women were able to share with their loved ones this beautiful place they call home.

It wasn’t long before

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MORE LOVE, LESS HATE

#ichooselove_outline
I am at a loss for words, but feel I need to repost this beautiful, much-needed call for love from a mother (and dear friend) who lost her son to suicide yesterday. I’ve spent some quality time with Alyson (his mother) this year on our African adventures abroad and at home. During this time, I was able to catch a glimpse of what life is like for a family rallying around members of the LGBTQ community who feel shamed, abandoned, and forsaken. It’s often a lonely, uphill battle. Some of the stories regarding the way her son, her family and others have been treated makes me sad and confused. It breaks my heart.

It shouldn’t be hard to love and befriend others, differences aside, but somehow it is…and I, I don’t understand. All I know is that we are all here on this earth, learning and growing together.  If only we spent more time looking for reasons and wayyyys to love each other and spent less of it pointing out differences, there wouldn’t be any room left for judgement and harm (*seriously, who’s got time for that anyway!?!)

So, in honor of this loving, service-oriented family; this selfless, grieving mother; and this fun, thoughtful 17-year-old boy who left us much too soon ‪#‎ichooselove‬

HYDRO-FEST 2016

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Welcome to the wild world of HydroFlight. Nick and I entered this community around the time we married and it’s been quite a journey. Though small in size, it continues to grow by the month. You’ll often find them in form of “flight centers” who charge for a 30-minute ride to tourists or adrenaline junkies. The rest of them are full/part-time flyers living in remote areas around the world dedicating their time to becoming the best in a new sport. It’s amazing. They spend all day, errreday flying and perfecting the craft. Many are sponsored athletes who do demos and are featured in major theme park shows. They are pretty spectacular.

So maybe a watered-down version of our story might be helpful in explaining just how monumental this weekend was in the large scheme of things:

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A WEEKEND THAT MEANT SOMETHING

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GUYS!! I’m OBSESSED with my family crew. These people (missing Sister J) are my whole world. So naturally, we made plans to kick-off the Memorial Weekend with a few nights up in Park City — STAYCATION! **I’m a huge believer in staycations. No need to blow your budget, but still able to get out and explore.

The one (AND only!) item on our agenda was to enjoy the sunshine and fresh mountain air. It didn’t take long before

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That one night on the beach

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Two years ago Nick kidnapped me from work to go sailing into the California sunset…also, he proposed. Surprise!! Though, looking back, all I can think about is the little pep talk Nick gave me on the beach between the time he proposed and the long overdue “ring pic” my family, at home, was anxiously waiting to see.

I was scared out of my mind. We sat on the beach in the dark (BC we got a flat tire which delayed the whole proposal part of the trip) excited, hugging, crying. Marriage is such a HUGE, sacred, lifelong commitment and it terrified me. As soon as he put the ring on my finger, the fear and insecurity set in, and I found every reason to prolong the process. We were the only ones on the beach (need I remind you, it was pitch black) making the biggest decision of our lives. Time stopped and there was nothing to prove. Nick held my hands very firmly (for fear I’d run away, I’m sure) and dedicated himself to me that night to never give up on me…on us. He was confident yet gentle. He made me feel safe and loved. And that was it! Up went the proposal post and wedding planning began. When days get hard or differences arise, I tend to think about that night on the beach when it was just us two crazies vowing to work hard and love fiercely. And it’s made all the difference.

Sorry for the sappy post. Here’s to Nick and that he will finally come home from boat shows one day. 🙂

HEDGIE ON THE RUN

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We had a guilty pet owner moment this last week. Lucille Ball (Lucy), our antisocial and anxiety-ridden hedgehog was due for some fresh air outside. Seeing how the sun came out to play this week, Nick built her a homemade cardboard cage to enjoy the grass near our front porch.

While editing video inside, I made sure to check on her every 15 minutes or so. During one of the 15 minute editing breaks, somehow Lucy burrowed her way under the box and made a break for the fence to the junk yard on the other side…I know! To my surprise our introverted, anything-but-adventurous hedgie decided to make things interesting 🙂 I mean,

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BEACH BUMS

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My dad surprised Rach, Finn and me with a trip to San Diego for our 25th birthday. AHH! It was a wonderful, relaxing weekend away in the sun. We spent the mornings and afternoons wandering the beach, exploring surrounding vendors and occupying the resort’s hot tub. It was perfectly relaxing in every way.

Though, above all, most of the trip consisted of coddling Finn as it was a trip of many firsts…first time wearing a swimsuit, first time in the pool, first time touching the sand, first trip away from home, etc. ***I’m very aware how completely and utterly OBSESSED we are with this little guy….but look at him:)

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AFRICA!!!

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People are so, so good.

My first impression of Ghana Make A Difference came from a lunch date with Stacey and Cory Hoffman (Directors) two weeks prior to our departure date. This filming opportunity kinda fell into BOTH of our laps last minute. I was originally planning to film abroad in Mali for a different African non-profit. Due to safety precautions, that trip was canceled last minute, and miraculously the Hoffman’s and I were connected. They told me their story of trying to adopt a set of twins in Africa which resulted in them moving to Ghana for many, many months in order to get the adoption papers/process approved to bring these children home with them. In the meantime, they saw so much disarray and hardships while in Ghana that they decided to dedicate their lives and much of their finances organizing a children’s home now known as GMAD. I know, right!?! They are the salt of the earth and so very giving. After our lunch date, I left knowing I wanted to do everything I could to showcase this wonderful organization.

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MERRY CHRISTMAS and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

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We spent the whole week of Christmas up in Idaho with Nick’s family. It was a week in heaven….snowmobiling, board games, yummy food, and endless snow. We had a great time enjoying the fresh mountain air. One of the highlights of the week was cutting down our own Christmas tree. It was humble, sparse and Charlie Brownish…just the way I like Christmas trees. 🙂

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DUBAI

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I’ve been meaning to write this post for awhile now but with the hard hit of wedding videos and trying to juggle family plans this holiday season, I haven’t had much time to reflect on this cool adventure. As many of you know, it was a struggle just getting to Dubai.

Long story short, I somehow misplaced my passport **or more likely threw it away in the process of getting a visa for Africa and I found out at 11pm the night before our early morning flight. It was the travelers nightmare come true!

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Married to Martha Stewart on Engineering Steriods!

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When I moved to Condo Row, four years ago, I noticed a particularly handsome guy running the show, when I mean show, I mean ward activities. His energy and eagerness to get people together was intriguing to say the least. I’m talking buying a motorhome for the single purpose of getting as many people as possible to roadtrip with him to southern utah or Moab. Why limit the invite list to four people when you could have 20+!?!

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Sunday Delight

nature6Recently, I’ve been striving to make Sunday’s a delight. Though Sunday’s can be really fulfilling, they often leave me exhausted and feeling inadequate. It used to be a day spent with family, relaxing, journal time, and reading. Now, I can’t seem to find the time to have a decent conversation with Nick before I crash hard on the couch due to endless meetings and time spent far, far out of my comfort zone (it really takes a toll). Needless, to say, this much-needed spiritual edification, relaxation, and meditation has been lacking big time.

A few weeks ago, someone made a comment that completely changed my perspective on Sunday worship.

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BOY OH BOY!

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I’m experiencing some serious sister pride watching Rachel along this journey of becoming a mother. She is already so careful and well-thought-out in how she approaches this little baby… Baby (Rachel and Carson) Garrett is one of the luckiest to be coming to such a loving, fun, safe home.

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SPRUCING UP THE NEST

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Welcome to my new workspace. Nick snapped this picture because I’ve basically grown roots here in thie little corner of our home. Since working from home, I’ve thought more and more about creating a space–no matter how small–to recharge, create, work and play. We ended up selling our piano in attempt to make more room for “an office” that I can call my own. We’re still in the never-ending declutter/make-beautiful phase, but I’m totally converted to the power of spring cleaning and sprucing up the nest a wee bit for a happier, more productive home.

**Any organizational tips or ideas on how to set up shop in a limited amount of space would be much appreciated!!!

 

 

 

LAKE POWELL

IMG_1584Nick’s family has a yearly tradition of going to Lake Powell. It’s a full week of boating, flying and the yummiest Carol-made food imageanable –> I’ve got the food belly to prove it. Honestly, it’s a week in heaven.

One night we decided to sleep under the stars on the top deck…we watched as the Milky Way traversed across the sky and behind these HUGE towering cliffs.

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Sippin’ cider through a straw…

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Introducing, to you, the Cherry Hill 4th ward crew. These girls have my heart. I love them, I love them, I love them. It’s amazing how one calling can change so much of your life. Five months ago, I knew nothing about this group of ladies. Now, only a few short months later, I think of them daily. I lose sleep worrying about these girls and spend wayyyy to much time out of my comfort zone in attempt to make this program a good, worthwhile experience. These girls and leaders are definitely one of the biggest blessings in my life.

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Summer nights at Utah Lake

Nick and I took the night off from video editing and business calls to play with our brand.new.lense!!! We’re so excited about it. We ventured our way to Utah Lake, but not before buying some cheap sparklers next door. The summer breeze + the amazing sunset  + solo time with Nick made for an epic summer’s night.

We practically had the whole lake to ourselves, minus those pesky mosquitoes. I’m convinced, those sparklers were the ONLY things keeping us from being eaten alive. We didn’t even wait for the last sparkler to die down before we were grabbing our camera gear and sprinting to the car.

HOORAY NICK’S HOME!

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Nick has been traveling like a crazy man lately trying to get everything squared away before the “BIG LAUNCH” come the end of May. (It’s almost here!!!) Fortunately, all the kinks have been ironed out (fingers crossed) and we are moving ahead in good time. Though, this traveling (being left behind) is wearing on me a little.

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NEXT (full-time) CHAPTER

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I woke up on the brave side of the bed this month and joined my husband in claiming a rather daunting career status– self-starter. I’ve never thought of starting my own business, but upon marrying an entreprenuer (through-and-through), Nick has instilled some passion and a little confidence in me to create something bigger than myself.

Part of starting a new chapter in life is knowing when to turn the page on current fulfilling chapters.

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Angel Grandpa

I stumbled upon this journal entry written about the passing of my grandfather many months ago. I miss him.

For the first time I don’t know what to say. As quickly as I write, I delete. How do you write about a man so perfect it makes you question the goodness of your own human core? We would often joke with my grandma how it is that she married an angel. “He’s practically perfect,” we would say.

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HENRY JAMES HOWE

When Katie asked me to film Henry’s birth, I about peed my pants out of excitment. Flashback five months ago when I spent an ENTIRE afternoon crying on my couch watching birth videos. I don’t know how I stumbled upon them, but I did, and there was no going back. I talked to Nick about wanting to start my own little videography business. Of course, after settling down the (overwhelming!) fear, doubt, and insecurity of learning a new trade (NOT to mention

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Birthday Bliss

birthday_postHonest to goodness, I love birthdays. I love the fun birthday cards and random surprises. I love the whole concept of celebrating life and validating others. Plus, it’s the perfect excuse to throw a party, catch up with friends, and eat lots and lots of sweets. Man, it’s just the best day ever!

This year was a little different. Nick and I were in the middle of back-to-back boat shows and I was working overtime to get work off so I could fly to Miami to meet Nick at the boat show. BUT

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HOLIDAYS WITH THE HOMERS

Cold Cabin

Lots (and lots!) of snow + family bonding + a cozy cabin + snowmobiles makes for one wild ride. I have to say, a week spent in Island Park has to be one of the biggest perks of joining Nick’s family. Every Christmas, the Homer family loads their car and snowmobile trailer full of (yummy!) food, games, and snow gear to last the week’s journey.

By this time of year, the snow is so deep that we have to snowmobile in and out of the cabin–which only adds to the whole romantic/fairytale aspect of Island Park. Seriously, it’s a dream. Between Carol’s homemade cooking and afternoons spent in the fresh mt. air, I couldn’t be more excited to adopt this family tradition.

Check out the video for a sneak peak into life at the cabin.


 

 

Lucille’s Debut

Once upon a time, Nick befriended Devin-SUPERTRAMP-Graham on FB. Two hours later, Devin asked for hedgehogs living in Provo for an upcoming Christmas video. My how the heavens smiled upon Lucy that evening. (If you don’t know Devin Graham, check him out.) We commented that, yes, indeed, we have a pet hedgehog and we live in Orem. Devin messaged Nick back and BOOM, Lucy got her big break…unbeknownst to her:)

The next day we took Lucy up to a mansion on the mountain to meet Devin and the crew. For the next five hours we tried our best to handle these hedgehogs with care. But, as the antisocial, unpotty trained little creatures they are, it was a bigger task than we expected. The little hedgies would dart as quickly as possible to any dark folds in the christmas tree skirt or underneath the couch — Hedgies are nocturnal. And once you offend a hedgie, beware of picking them up. We had little spike balls everywhere resisting to be moved or set in a train car. It was both adorable and exhausting to keep track of these sneaky little guys.  In good news, everyone survived the evening, and the movie was uploaded a week later.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, LIZA JANE!

The big 1-8!! WHA!?! Where did the time go?

To celebrate her birth, naturally, we went to the woods and turned her in to the most beautiful Christmas fairy. It’s silly and rather ridiculous…but she was such a great sport and looked absolutely breathtaking the whole time–no matter the freezing temperatures.

Ironically, the song accompanying this short clip is titled, Neverland–a song about never growing up. Oh how I wish Liza Jane would forever stay the chubby-cheeked, happy baby she once was. I tell you, those honker cheeks + dimples made her a sight for sore eyes, indeed.

Now, she is becoming such a fearless young lady. Though involved in student government, volleyball, track, and a load of AP classes, she still has time to be the fun-loving party animal we all love. It baffles me the way she can juggle so many things in her life and still make time for family and things of importance. I love her dearly.

I love her creative nature. Her live-loud attitude. Her optimism when faced with difficult trials and unexpected health turns. Her beautiful testimony. Her ability to be carefree, yet sensitive and empathetic when needed. She is a winner through and through.

Love you, liza beth!

 

HOMEMADE GOODNESS

Happy Thanksgiving, friends! Hope it was a wonderful weekend spent with people you love.

How I adore this much-needed holiday.  Family. Friends. Food. And gratitude galore. Honestly, I go through withdrawals after long weekends spent at home. I don’t know if it’s the lack of sleep due to the full-time party going on at ALL hours of the day or just the fact that I laugh harder, sing louder, and play crazier when I’m with the fam, but every long weekend leaves me craving  for more.

Aside from the endless game nights, afternoon hikes, laughing fits, and black friday shopping sprees, we decided to make a pie. How original!?! But not just any pie…a pie to be filmed. This is my first official Vimeo film. woot. woot. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been researching and watching online tutorials featuring the basics of videography. Ranging from Premiere color correction to camera angles, I’ve dedicated much of my time to learning this new trade. Thanksgiving was my chance to put some of these unrefined skills to the test. Lucky for me, I have wonderful sisters and a mother to volunteer their helping hands and let me take charge: “Wait, do that again!” “Can you roll the egg a little to the left?” “Pat the dough a little more femininely, if possible.” Though it took a few more hours than usual to make an apple pie and a few wrong turns (2 cups of extra sugar due to retakes), it was well worth the time.

Hope you enjoy the short film more than we enjoyed the pie.

Feel free to leave comments or suggestions. I’d love to get some feedback. Thank you, thank you.

Happy Holidays!!

PLACE OF PEACE

Amidst all the wonderful things that have happened in our lives (i.e. Miss Lucille, job successes, fall adventures, ward callings, good friends and family nearby), I have to confess, my heart has been a little heavy. Marriage requires two people. That means two personalities. Two timelines. AND two lives coming together as one. For the most part, this is exciting and full of opportunity and promise. That leaves a small (or sometimes large) part vulnerable to frustration and head-banging conversations in seek of compromise and direction. Days are full of growth and learning — both regarding my own identity and the identity of us as a couple. Which brings me to the purpose of this post: temples.

I had the blessed opportunity to go through the temple for the first time several months ago, and my life forever changed…more than I could’ve ever anticipated. My arbitrary worries seemed to fade. My faith and trust in God felt practically tangible. And, my doubts and insecurities in my relationship became more of a catalyst and less of a road block. It was amazing and miraculous. That afternoon following my temple trip was full of emotions that I will always hold near to my heart. After such a long battle with fear, doubt, and insecurity in dating, I felt overwhelmingly blessed to experience the smidgen of hope and peace only offered by God.

GAH! I wish there was an >>insert song and dance>> in this blog post, because, if there were, I would include ten of them. In fact, when I started thinking about the temple, I thought of the commonly belted Wicked song, For Good. Although this song is sung between two unlikely friends, Glinda and Elphaba, I can’t help but feel this same way about the temple: changed for good. I cannot express how significantly the unifying and sacred bonds of the temple have strengthened me first as a young woman and now as a wife. It has made all the difference in my decision to marry and my marriage thus far. There is a deeper sanctity to my relationship with Nick, one that I cannot attribute to any other wedding gift or piece of marriage advice. It’s a place of perspective, hope, and recharge. Rather than letting the recent feelings of uncertainty fester and the weight of responsibility become overwhelming, I’ve continued (and hope to continue) to return to the source that is liberating and reassuring in nature. How grateful I am to have such a lovely place to reside in times of happiness and trial.

AND how grateful I am to have a small snippet of the most lovely day of my life to watch and rewatch, time and time again.

 

 

 

 

HAPPY HALLOWEEN: DO NOT LICK!

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^^oops. Bombs away.

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I know it seems like we’re totally obsessed with our hedgehog, but we are! She is such a delight. Though she doesn’t speak or really do a whole lot of anything, if we’re being honest, she does have a way of boosting the morale instantly when she enters the room. I don’t know if it’s her round, black eyes or just how proportionally tiny she is…she has Nick and me wrapped around her little paw.

Nick and I had no idea as to what we wanted to be for Halloween. A few days ago, we considered a costume for Lucy….that halted ALL progress on our costumes and full steam ahead for Miss Lucy. Let’s be honest, it’s much more fun brainstorming costumes for little rodents than it is for humans. After we got to thinking of the most ADORABLE little costumes for Lu Lu, we discovered one minor detail: hedgehogs do not like being dressed up. Like, not one bit. So…then we had to limit our creativity and get more creative (if that makes any sense at all), to come up with a costume that took little, to no, effort on her part.

This is the end result. I couldn’t stop laughing. I always laugh when Lucy’s in the picture (literally and figuratively). Of course, we had to let her inspect the costume ingredients before we made her wear them. I showered a few sprinkles on her little head, but naturally, she shook them off faster than I could strategically place them. On the bright side, we managed to get a few shots where she wasn’t squirming all over the place. Hooray!

**side note: we think we’re crazy. In fact, we know we’re crazy. We apologize in advance and also appreciate any donations we may receive from the stock photo industry — we’re definitely contributing to their hedgehog selection.

HAUNTED HEDGIE

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

In honor of Lucille’s first halloween with us (and ever!) and my desire to learn my way around video editing software, we wanted to make a little “haunted” video, showcasing her talent of being adorable. We laughed and laughed while filming these segments. Amazingly, we got some footage despite our complete lack of focus and seriousness. Hope you enjoy this as much as we did.

**A special thanks to my family for being such troopers. Never in a million years did they think they’d be recruited to film a “haunted hedgie” film. They’re all so creative, fun, and such hams. Gah! Living so close to family is such a blessing.

Rachie

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I mean really, isn’t she a stunner? (I apologize if my complimenting her, as her twin, weirds you out. It has that effect on some, but I think it’s just.)

I’ve been wanting to get out and practice some of the techniques I learned in my latest photography class. AND, because Nick lasts about a whole 30 seconds before he gets bored, I moved to my next victim: Rachel, who was kind enough to freeze her little buns off to help me learn. Luckily, she’s perfect in every way–making my job a whole lot easier.

I do have to say, I love learning. I love acquiring a new skill set and challenging myself to get better. Though it’s an uphill battle from here, it’s looking a lot better than it did a few weeks ago. So, if you’re ever wanting free pictures of yourself >> because let’s face it, how often do we really get decent pictures of ourselves that aren’t blurry, saturated, and just downright “what is happening in this picture?” (I know, I don’t) >> let me know. I’m all about learning, and the best way to do that is to PRACTICE.

And for the record, I’m not aspiring to be a world-renowned photographer. I just want to learn and hopefully use this practice for a project I have coming up. Plus, it’s always nice to make people you love feel like rockstars. So that’s what I am–a means to an end of showcasing your awesomeness.

**Call me, beep me, if you wanna reach me.

HEBER CREEEEPER: CHILDHOOD EXPRESS!

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All aboard!!

When Nick was little, he LOVED trains. In fact, his mother, Carol, would draw train car after train car for him during church meetings to help keep him quiet and entertained. Eventually, these Carol-made drawings became an essential part of Sunday worship and Nick’s childhood. Needless to say, Nicholas holds a special place in his heart for trains and their magnificence.

SOO, to shake up our weekly routine, we decided to drive to the wonderful town of Heber to ride THE Heber Creeper, something Nick did as a little boy. I’ve heard stories of this legendary train, but have never, until Thursday, had the opportunity to enjoy. We arrived to the station a little later than planned, making the time between our car and the ticket lady a mad dash…after all, trains leave promptly at their scheduled time. We hopped on the train completely out of breath and in desperation to find open seats amidst the hundreds of families dressed to the nines in halloween costumes. As we made our way to the VERY back of the train, we were completely enthralled with the atmosphere. Little witches and superheros were hopping over seats, running around the aisles, and dancing to the One Direction song playing over the loud speakers. It was a site for sore eyes. Or at least baby-hungry eyes:) Nick and I just laughed and laughed throughout the ride.

It was a beautiful fall day out the windows. The great weather combined with the halloween festivities taking place inside the train, made this October season FINALLY feel like fall for me. I brought my camera in hope to work on playing with shutter speed and aperture while enjoying the scenic views. Little did I know, the train moved so slowly (5 mph) that shutter speed was not necessary:) We were definitely moving at a crawling rate…

Nevertheless, it was an adventure. A fun one at that. Midway through the ride, we stopped to allow the train to switch directions. While waiting, we were given delicious pumpkin cookies as we watched the kids learn the dance moves to Thriller, a Halloween classic!  Did I mention the car leader was dressed as Frankenstein?

We left the train station with our hands full of complimentary pumpkins and our hearts feeling like giddy kids again. What a night!

**You definitely have the Homer’s stamp of approval on a night out with the Heber Creeeeper.

HELLO, PHOTOGRAPHY CLASS!

Hurray!! Photography class: check!

I’ve been meaning to better my relationship with my camera for months now, but never seemed to find the time (or ability, let’s be honest). When I saw the University of Utah offering a continuing education course online, I made the leap to sign up and dedicate a one-on-one date night for five weeks with this little camera of mine. Though the class was small and everyone well over fifty, I made the best of friends and thoroughly enjoyed the three-hour night class each week. (Can I just say, it’s so nice to be in a classroom setting. I thoroughly miss the learning environment.)

For our final week, we took a field trip up to Red Butte Gardens (SOOOO BEAUTIFUL!!), to play with all the fun settings on our camera. After a handful of lectures, it was finally time to get down in the dirt (literally) and show our stuff. Everyone was instructed to bring little models, if we had them. Lucky for me, my classmates have darling kids and grandkids (see pictures below). After all, it’s much easier to take good pictures when the subject matter is adorable. The beautiful vegetation combined with the darling children, we were set for success.

I’ve included some of my favorite shots over the weekend. I know I’m about as amateur as they come, but it’s nice to get a closer look at the incredible workings of the camera. It’s rather ingenious learning about what these handheld devices are capable of. One day I’ll actually be able to utilize these settings and take, as my teacher says, an “emotionally resonating” photo.

Here’s to better photos ahead:)

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MISS LUCILLE BALL HOMER

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Meet Miss Lucille Ball Homer.

She is officially the newest member of our family, and we couldn’t be more excited. The decision to buy a hedgehog may appear to be random and rather unorthodox as a first pet; however, I have dreamed of owning a hedgehog since I was a little girl, who was completely taken with the Jan Brett children’s series. Needless to say, when we found a local hedgehog breeder selling baby hedgies on KSL, we jumped at the opportunity.

A little bit about our Lucille:

  • She is a pinto hedgehog (brown). Though, if you look at her coat, she has quite a bit of white coloring. Most of Lucille’s siblings are albino, perhaps that is where some of the lighter coloring plays into her pinto-ness.
  • Can you say tiny! She is just a baby, barely nine-weeks old.
  • Lucille enjoys her daily dose of cat food, but goes crazy for a turkey slice. hmm mmh
  • She loves the darkness. In other words, she is nocturnal. This comes as quite a disappointment to many when they discover the sleeping habits of hedgehogs, but for us, it’s perfect. She sleeps soundly during the day and is up, ready to play, by the time Nick gets home from work and the sun is just beginning to set. Hedgehogs truly are the best pets to own while working.
  • She isn’t as “pokey” as she looks. Just imagine stroking a cute hair brush with an extremely soft, warm underbelly:) Though, I must say, when she feels threatened, she can draw blood. After all, her quills have to be good for something.
  • Sleep, sleep, sleep. Lucy loves her beauty sleep. Then again, she is a baby, and that’s what babies do–sleep.
  • She is beginning to blossom. Just like a baby, Lucille is beginning to play and explore a little more each day. We love her!
  • Leading me to this point, CUDDLING! Lucille loves to cuddle–especially in the mornings. I often wake up to Nick cuddling with Lucille. She finds her “sweet spot” in his armpit and begins to burrow her little head, so as to create a little cave for herself. She will nap like this for hours.

Owning a hedgehog is the BEST. IDEA. EVER. It’s been fun for me to see the nurturing side of Nick, as he cares for this little hedgie girl. He loves her more than I could’ve EVER anticipated. I mean, during our first night with Lucille, Nick woke up three times to check on her…(!) I can only imagine what will happen when Lucille is replaced with a human baby…haha.

We love her and highly recommend a hedgehog to anyone who wants a bundle of excitement in their lives.

TREE-HOUSEWARMING PARTY

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Start a party. Invite cool people. Elevate it 30 ft. in the air. Set the mood with a fake fire (thanks, Tim). Then throw candy, popcorn, nintendo games, and inspiring movies on it–and you’ve got yourself a tree-housewarming party!! Wahoo!! It’s official.

Please stop by and visit soon!

SECOND STAR TO THE RIGHT

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“All children, except one, grow up.”  -J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

The day we moved into our little apartment, Nick noticed the large tree looming overhead and excitedly declared his next project: a treehouse. I didn’t think much of it, until we went to Lowe’s and bought enough wood to fill his truck bed. For the past few weeks, there has been a slew of people coming over to help build this treehouse. Everyone pitched their ideas of everything they thought appropriate for a treehouse — TV, Netflix, Nintendo 64, a hammock, BBQ, handwoven furniture, a chess board, hanging picture frames, bistro lights, a love sac — and went to work. 

Over the course of a few weeks, what once was a bare tree has become a gathering place for people to work, chat, and watch movies. It always makes my heart happy to come home and see people in the tree playing games, swinging in the hammock or adding to the fort.

Above all accessories, my favorite part of this tree is its power to transform people. It’s like a one-way ticket to childhood. Everything is light, care-free and exciting. And the littlest details are monumental! I especially love watching the way people’s demeanors completely change once they set eyes on the tree and make their way to the top. On one occasion, this pixie-dust effect really caught Nick and me off-guard. 

When we moved into our apartment, we were warned by several people of this particularly unhappy woman living across the way. I’d never seen her before, but by everyone’s descriptions, I considered myself lucky. However, one afternoon this woman came outside to let her pet pig, Borris, out to roam the gravel lot. (I know, he’s adorable.) When she saw all the commotion on our front lawn, we feared she would complain. As she examined the mess and looked up to see boards hanging in the tree, she smiled and excitedly proclaimed, “That tree has been begging for a treehouse for the last ten years.” The treehouse was the perfect icebreaker for a really nice, genuine conversation. Now, thanks to the tree, it’s a happy reunion when we see her and Borris out and about on the grass. 

That moment left me wondering, who in the world have I married?

I think people might call him Peter Pan, the boy who encapsulates youth and joy. The boy who teaches others to fly on the whim of faith and fairy dust. This boy! He is the one to reawaken that child within us all! And how I love it! This treehouse is the perfect manifestation of J.M. Barrie’s (creator of Peter Pan) magic of Never Never Land. 

Barrie: “Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.”

 


 

ART WALL

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Voilå! The art wall is finished!

What started as a little art project evolved into two weeks of painting and crafting galore. What bliss! There’s something therapeutic about only thinking in the present. Thinking about the color on the paint brush. About the texture. About the medium. Ah! It was such a refreshing break and reminder to do things that make me happy.

And, despite the little fingerprints of paint I’m still trying to clean off of our furniture, it’s very exciting to have our place looking a little more like us!  I love the practice holes between all the crooked frames. I love the earthy tones. I love the subject pieces. To us, they mean something. An inside joke. A dream. A fond memory. There is meaning attached to this wall — and I’m in love!

 

 

AN AVOCADO A DAY…

 

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“Begin with the most frightening of all things, a clean slate. And then look, every day, at the choices you are making, and when you ask yourself why you are making them, find this answer: Because they are what I want, or wish for. Because they reflect who and what I am.”
–Anna Quindlen

So today, I woke up and painted an avocado.

A little backstory, perhaps?

Day one of meeting Nick, I discovered his love and passion for building, creating, and chasing his dreams. You know those people who talk and talk about creating something great but just don’t seem to have the time or energy to do it? (I’m just as guilty as anyone.) Yeah, that’s not Nick. Nick is a doer through and through.

One such project on his never-ending to-do list is a small diner named, The Avocado. It will be a quaint, homey diner. We’re talking the finest homemade sandwiches with lots of ripe fruit and homegrown vegetables, and perhaps a few baked goods on the side for those as fixated with sweets as I am. AND it will be the only one of it’s kind, as genuine and sincere as a diner comes. No chance of franchising.

Back to reality.

Currently, I’m in the job-hunt and what-the-heck-do-I-do-with-my-life stage, yet again. To some, this is hard. To others, it’s seen as an opportunity — a gift. The first two weeks were difficult for me. In the last six years, I haven’t been able to look at a calendar and see a blank day, followed by another and another. It’s just bizarre.

And you want to know how well I’ve been coping?? About like this. The last few weeks have been nothing short of a roller coaster for me, and by default for Nick. Ask him. He’ll tell you. It will go from all laughs to tears in 30 seconds — it’s rather ridiculous at times. We both end up laughing at the thought of what this particular situation would look like from an outsider’s perspective.

It was after a morning conversation with Nick that my perception of this “free-time” changed. He was getting ready for work, and I just sat and watched him, the same way a five-year-old watches earnestly as her dad shaves before leaving for a full-day’s work.

He could see that long, distant look in my eyes. And that’s when he said it.

“You could really be taking advantage of this time instead of dreading it. When will you have another opportunity like this to explore your interests and rediscover your hobbies? Start a company! You don’t need an excuse nor should you feel guilty to do something for yourself.”

He left for work, and I sat processing his little pep talk. These past few weeks have allowed me to clear my head, refresh my heart, and seek some goodness. But that burning question that has impeded on all of my studies and hobbies, “What do I want to be when you grow up?” always seems to loom overhead, clouding any chance of peace. That’s when I decided to wipe away the frustration, and start on a fresh, clean canvas.

Rather than stressing out and wondering where I “should” be, I wrote a list of things I love. Things that give me purpose. Things that make me feel most alive. And I’m actually doing them–without feeling guilty.  I guess I was so busy speeding through life that I didn’t think to take a pit-stop, let alone enjoy the view. So while I’m putting my feelers out and preparing for the next life decision, I’ll give myself permission to rediscover my hobbies, and realign my heart with my head.

AND why you may ask, did I taint my new, clean canvas with an avocado?? It’s because avocados have rich, creamy textures. Because avocados have a striking, vibrant green complexion that will compliment our art wall quite nicely…AND because avocados symbolize fresh promise, Nick’s contagious “go-after-your-diner” attitude, and our goal to be DOERS not just dreamers.

So, here’s to our aspiring art wall. To actively listening to our hearts. And up next, to a much-needed photography class.

Cheers.

P.S. Any advice/tips/words of wisdom on how you stay true to yourself and your hobbies are always welcome.

MAMA’S GARDEN

 

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 Homegrown.

I dream of a day when I’ll send my toe-headed children to the backyard to fetch our homegrown vegetables and fruit from our small, but well-loved garden. Our house will be humble and cozy, and our yard a good mix between manicured and untamed. There will be a treehouse in our backyard that Nick will have built for all the neighborhood kids. Oh, how those kids will love Nick. We will have a large front porch dedicated for social gatherings and late-night rainstorm watching. Our hand-painted walls will be decorated by the finest “Homer-made” art, including oil and finger paint. We will make homemade jam and cookies often — meaning lots of messes and sticky cabinets. Hmm mmh. And the lovely sound of bare feet against the hardwood floors will be our soundtrack as there will be lots of dancing, jittering and wrestling happening at all hours of the day. It will be real. There will be lots tears and laughter and projects. Ohhh will there be projects. And we’ll end every night with reading, warm jammies and cuddlefests. Lots of cuddlefests.

…just daydreaming as I look through my mother’s garden.

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