The last 13 years have been filled with ups and downs, moving, jobs and all sorts of craziness. I must say though, as I look back, each had it's purpose and everything ended up bringing us closer together. I'll give you a little background...
I met Michael for the first time (officially) in November of 1999. When we started working at the same place. At the beginning of January 2000 we went on our first date. From that night on we spent every day together. We both knew that we wanted to be together. We started talking about marriage after the first week of being together and by the end of the month we had bought an engagement ring. Towards the end of February he gave me that ring and we were officially engaged. We had a lot of opposition for the next few months because the situation was not "ideal" in their eyes. People questioned and warned us about a huge mistake that we were making. Through it all we hung on to each other and listened to the counsel from church leaders and did our best to follow it. April 28, 2000 we were married in Acequia, Idaho at the church that Michael went to all his life.
For the first few months we lived in a little trailer that he had been renting. Then we moved to a little house out of town. I call it the brown house. It was white on the oustide but the inside was all brown, brown walls, brown carpet, brown cupboards. We lived there for almost a year. Maddi was born in November of 2000. Times were tough then. Michael's job was more of a seasonal job and it had slowed way down as the days got colder. In February of 2001 he was finally able to find a different job that allowed us to earn more money and make ends meet. He did a lot of night shifts for a while and I hated that but was thankful for the job. A few months after Maddi was born I learned I was pregnant with Makenna! Wow!
In May of 2001 Michael and I went to the Boise Temple and we were sealed together for time and all eternity. I can't describe the peace that brought to us and our marriage. To know that what we had would be forever and not just until death was overwhelming. It brought a new dimension to our marriage and brought us even closer together.
During the summer of 2001 we moved to a beautiful brick home. It was north out of town. It put him much closer to work and I had a beautiful place to spend the day with Maddi and soon to be Makenna. It had a huge yard and all the walls inside were white :) I loved it. To this day it is still my favorite place. November of 2001 we welcomed Makenna into the world. Nothing much changed over the next little while. In August of 2002 I got pregnant with number 3. We started looking for a little bit bigger house to be in with our growing family and ended up finding one just a few miles from where we were. We moved there and in April of 2003 we brought Zane home from the hospital.
We had a lot of blessings through out this time but we also had a lot of struggles. We were looking for something that we couldn't find where we were living. We needed space to grow and become our own family. We were surrounded by wonderful family and friends. We lived in the area where Michael grew up and we felt part of that big church family. However, we needed space and time to become our own family. We found a job that led us to South Dakota so in September of 2003 we headed out.
Michael managed a race horse farm. We lived out in the country in an old, charming farm house. We loved the area and the people. The kids loved being on the farm. In September of 2004 we welcomed Dillon to our family. It was a good time for all of us. We had grown so close as a family and had finally had the opportunity to become our own family. As much as we loved it there, things weren't as promised and we did get quite homesick for Idaho. So in April of 2005, after a year and a half we headed back to Idaho. He had been offered a job at his previous work place and we moved back. At first we lived on the ranch (it was a ranch for at risk youth) but eventually ended up moving into a big beautiful home further north. We moved in January 2006, the day after Zeke was born. It was a crazy time but it was a happy time.
In September of 2006 the owner of the horse farm contacted Michael and begged him to come back. We really missed South Dakota and the friends we had there. After much debate, comversation, and prayer we decided to head back there. We got there in October of 2006. In May of 2007 Olivia was born. Our family was finally complete.
We stayed at the horse farm for over 2 years. Then things took a turn financially and we had to find something else. We ended up in Sioux Falls, SD at the end of December 2008. We stayed there for another 2 years until once again, the financial end of things had to change.
Right after Christmas in 2010 we loaded up and headed to Wyoming, Michael took a job in the natural gas and oil fields. It was a hard time. Eventually he ended up being shipped out for two weeks at a time. Then he would get a week off and head out again. The kids missed him so much. I missed him so much and he missed out on so much. Makenna was in a play at the high school - he missed it. Olivia learned to ride a bike - he missed it. Zeke lost his first tooth - he missed it. Maddi played on the All Star team for baseball - he missed most of it. I had to take Zeke to the emergency room - he had to head to work. The little kids would go to bed at night crying because they missed him. The older kids would break down when he would leave. Nothing money could buy could take their pain away. He missed their birthdays and ballgames, their concerts, everything. It was the best we had ever been financially but the worst we had ever been as a family.
We knew that money was not worth the sacrifice of the family. We once again began looking for something that would allow us to be together again as a family. People told us we were crazy. We went through a lot of oppostition again, but we knew what was best for our family and we did it. In June of 2012 we loaded up and moved to Minnesota. It was just a few miles from where we had lived in South Dakota. We were back in an area that we loved with people that we loved. Most importantly though, we were back together as a family. Michael was home every night. He was home most every weekend. He got to go to the ballgames and celebrate birthdays. He has been to all their concerts and got to see Olivia with her first missing tooth. We took a huge pay cut and now we struggle with finances again but we are happy and we are together.
What has the last 13 years with Michael taught me? It has taught me that no matter what, I would rather be with him than anyone else, that he being present in the home is much better than just having money, that I can always trust him and know that he will always be there for me, that through the ups and downs, the good and the bad, he will never leave me. We have proved those wrong who in the beginning said we were making a huge mistake. 13 years, six kids and lots of moves later, we are still together and going strong. The trials, the moves, the new experiences - they have brought us closer together, strengthened our bonds. The countless family prayers, family scripture study, family home evenings, and Sundays spent at church have also strengthened us. Through all of this we know that what we have is forever and that makes me happy :)