Here we go.
I remember sitting in the back seat of our family car on a long road trip when my Dad launched into the story of how he and my mom fell in love and got engaged.
I have no further details on that story because it didn’t happen just once. That scenario happened over and over and over again in different cars, on different trips, focusing on different parts. We knew it all…how he tricked my mom into going on their first date. How she went home and bawled to her roommates because she had found the “right one” way too early (in her opinion). How he almost dropped the engagement ring from the window of the Aggie tower at Utah State when he was proposing. We could recite back every detail.
And I’m so grateful.
Even though I’m sure I rolled my eyes when that sentimental dad of mine launched into that story again, I’m so glad he thought it was important enough to share. A lot of times 😉 It made me feel so much love for those parents of mine, and somehow made me feel so secure knowing they thought that love story was important enough to engrave into our minds.
Since Valentine’s Day is this weekend (correction: was this last weekend…I had intentions of posting this before but didn’t) I figured it would be the perfect time to finish off the “love story” about Dave and I that I started clear back HERE, and told “part 2” clear back HERE. I just noticed that in the comments someone said “I sure hope you don’t wait until 2016 to tell us the rest.”
And yes, here we are in 2016.
Because love stories are what makes up the fabric of our families. And they make you fall in love all over again when you remember.
So let’s go back to the last line of “part 2” to connect these puppies:
envelope had arrived back home (the envelope which held my mission call). My
friends and I drove the hour home to open it up and see where I’d be spending
the next 18 months.
headquarters in black and white that I could scarcely read since my hands were
shaking so hard: “You are called to the
Budapest, Hungary mission…to serve in Romania.”
that boy from BYU.
I think this is the only picture I have of us at BYU before my mission:
to see me off.
He was there at my farewell with Tom (the one who told me he had a crush on me in the very beginning).
flurry of friends came in and out. The
power went out and I remember looking over at him across the candlelight
wondering how things would change over the next 18 months.
huge flakes of snow flitting quietly around us, in no hurry to reach the
ground. I had been “set apart” earlier
that evening (given a special blessing to begin my mission). After you’re set apart you really have no
business kissing or hugging boys you think you might love when your mind is supposed
to be on the mission. We said our
goodbyes and shook hands. He gave me a
smile and he was gone.
faces fresh from being pressed up against the window spying on how we would
manage our goodbyes.
I was going to live in a foreign country for a year and a half with little connection to my old world. I was a total home-body. I adored my family and friends. And I really
liked that one particular boy who may be married and gone when I got home.
than gold: the gospel of Jesus Christ, and to have the adventure of a lifetime.
twiddling his thumbs. Or deep in my
heart maybe I did? Maybe I could just
tell he was one that needed a lot of dating before settling down. For whatever reason I was happy for us both.
Training Center) for two months to learn your language before you left on your
mission. (Well, you still do in the “new days”…Max is there for nine weeks.)
and delving into the Book of Mormon like never before.
letters. I thirsted for him to give me
good mission advice. He had served his
mission for two years in Taiwan not long before.
sometimes. Sometimes I get myself into
trouble because I envision butterflies and rainbows when really there is just
normalcy stretching out ahead. But I
thought surely this boyfriend of mine would send encouragement and all kinds of
or there and some sweet sentiments at the end.
No scriptures quoted. No mission
experiences or epiphanies he had had when he was in my boat recounted. Of course it wasn’t that poor boy’s fault he
couldn’t see into my brain and know what I wanted. But with each letter that came I became more disenchanted and more focused on the mission that lay ahead of me on the horizon. I wanted to give it my heart. And his letters gave me no reason to spare a portion of it for him.
So I wrote to him and told him I wanted to concentrate on what I was doing and basically we were going “different directions.” He jokes about that a lot these days. If I was going the “mission” direction, where was he going? Ha!
He was surprised by my letter and wrote back hoping we could at least write every now and again. Which we did. But oh boy I’m so glad that we made that break and could both grow so much in such parallel ways those next eighteen months.
Dave dated…a lot. And I got fully immersed in the Romanian culture which I fell completely in love with.
Every now and again I got a sweet letter from Dave, but my heart was elsewhere. And although he claims he always had me in the back of his mind, he was dating and having a grand old time. He dated one particular girl quite seriously while I was gone.
SO much more I could say about Romania…the people I adored there, the culture, my great companions, the myriad of things I learned, but that’s a post (or series of posts) for another day.
When I came home and gave my homecoming talk at church I saw Dave. He was standing in the back all by himself.
I remember thinking it was nice of him to come but there were certainly no heart-flutters.
But that boy stuck around. He was ultra patient while I went through my ultra-weird post-mission stage. I took my little sister on our first date with us. Not much to talk about. I was weird I tell you.
I got home in June. That summer we had a lot of family time. We went to NYC to film an infomercial with Kathi Lee Gifford of all people (my family had been on Oprah while my sister and I were on our missions to highlight their new book “Teaching Your Children Values
” which had promptly hit the New York Times Best Seller list…so there were random kind of exciting things like a trip to New York City along with all that hoopla).
We spent a lot of time at Bear Lake.
We went to Jackson Hole.
As the summer came to a close I moved in to a little house in Provo with my sisters and a couple friends.
I was thrown back into the dating world which was pretty fun.
Gradually I started hanging out more and more with Dave.
(And apparently I was really into funky southwestern vests.)
We went on a few road trips.
My family went to Jackson Hole again to snowmobile that winter.
Dave came along.
…and won the hearts of my family. Even after he took a huge jump with me on the back of the snowmobile and I came down and crunched my back.
I was fine but it sure made that trip memorable.
We got more and more serious. My journal from that time is filled with all kinds of things I loved about him. Then all kinds of worries. Then all kinds of lavish praises again. Then worries again.
I had a list in my mind of what I wanted in a husband and there were still a few pieces not matching up.
My roommate knew my concerns and one day came up with the perfect guy to line me up with. On paper, he had everything on my “list.” So we got lined up and I was excited.
As the date progressed I had a little epiphany: my “list” wasn’t what I needed. Sure, this guy had it all together. He knew exactly where he was going in life. He was smart as a whip and was applying to all kinds of graduate schools. He was polished and polite.
But he wasn’t funny. He wasn’t sweet. We had little to talk about.
I know, I had just met him. To be fair, I’m sure he was a really cool guy. One date certainly doesn’t tell you the real deal about someone. But something inside me changed and that little snippet of a date helped me realize I was looking for the wrong things.
And that Dave had the right ones.
He made me laugh. He wanted adventure. He knew me like no one ever had before. And I was head-over-heels in love with him.
The decision to get married. Now that is a big one.
But we were there at the decision point. We both fasted and prayed. We went to the temple.
I’ll spare all the details, lots of deep talks and sorting things out and more deep discussions. But I’ll skip to where we sat, cross-legged on the soft forrest-green carpet in my apartment and started talking for reals about marriage.
Dave said, “I want to marry you.” And I said it back. And we talked about life plans and goals and dreams and how we fit into each other’s.
And it was magical.
We weren’t officially engaged, but we both knew that’s exactly what we wanted. And it all felt pretty spectacular.
Within a few weeks Dave took me on a date up into the mountains of Sundance above Provo. We had lunch in the lodge and headed out on a little hike to Stuart Falls. Dave was acting a little strange and I knew something had to be up but I was so excited to be engaged at some point I don’t know that I dared hope this was the proposal.
But sure enough, about half way up he stopped, totally shaking and said, “Shawni, we have to remember this moment forever. I have a question for you…will you marry me?” and he pulled out a diamond ring and slipped it on my finger.
I told him yes and we hugged and hugged and kissed a little too (;)) and smiled and shivered in the cool spring sun.
And just like that, we were engaged.
It was March 8th, 1995.
We were pretty excited.
We were engaged for three and a half months.
We had a few adventures.
Got to talk to some pretty amazing people to get marriage advice (Elder Maxwell was one of them, the picture below is from that day…such great advice that we named our first baby Maxwell).
Being the first to get married in my family, my parents went a little overboard on the engagement photos…
Yowzas we still have stacks of those.
And then on a gorgeous summer day on June 23, 1995, we tied the knot.
And that, my friends, is the story of I landed this guy:
Oh boy, was I ever in love with that boy back then on our wedding day.
But little could I know way back then how much love could grow. Through adventures and adversity and door-slamming and adoring and elation and humbling how much a marriage could grow and change and progress and shift and heave and settle over the years.
Every year that passes by I become even more grateful for this love story which was the seed of so much beauty and wonder (right alongside heartache and headaches and misunderstandings and long talks to figure it all out).
I’m so grateful for the good parts and the not-so-great ones that have helped us grow and learn so much over the years.
I am the luckiest girl alive to call him my Valentine.
Thanks for being my number one through the thick and the thin.
Love you forever, David Stuart.