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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Our Story - Part Four

Mark - The Young Single Adult program really sustained me during the really early days of my membership in the church. It is where I really poured out all my time and energy outside of school. I went to Institute every week. Then I went to the Stake's Young Single adult dance each month. I loved every second of it.


I remember talking to one woman in my ward about Young Single Adults and how important it was to me. She was genuinely happy for me. However, she had wished that her own daughter had found as much excitement in Young Single Adults. Unfortunately, her daughter had fallen away from activity in the Church. It was hard for me as a new convert to understand why anyone would walk away from something as great as the Church and the Gospel. I had a new mission; to try to get the inactive Young Single Adults back into activity.


I began to become well known among the stake's Young Single Adults as a real go-getter and motivator type of person. I wanted the Young Single Adults who were active to stay active and to try to invite those that had fallen away to come back. And remember all of this came from a very shy, introvert kind of guy. Why did I put myself out there so much? Well first of all, I did believe that it was important to help fellow Young Single Adults but more than that, I really, really wanted to find my wife. She was out there somewhere and I never knew when or how I might run across her.


Julie - Von and I had been dating for awhile. However, nothing seemed to be progressing in our relationship. He really seemed like he was indecisive. And for a guy who was older than me, he seemed immature.

As Christmas approached, Von told me that he couldn't afford to get me a Christmas present. So instead, he made dinner for me at his place and we went for a drive to look at Christmas lights. It was so sweet and I really appreciated that he did something so personal for me.

Latter that holiday season, my family had a get together to exchange Christmas presents. Von came over to be a part of the festivities. I had bought him several new ties that he had really wanted. My younger sister and her husband had also gotten him a gift. We were all having fun exchanging gifts when Von said that he had a gift for me as well. He brought out a small box wrapped in Christmas paper. I was surprised since he had told me that he couldn't afford a gift.

I took the box. It didn't look like a ring box but maybe it was some other piece of jewelry. I couldn't wait to open it and find out. Imagine my surprise when I opened the box and found a charcoal briquette in tissue. Wait a minute...a charcoal briquette? A lump of coal???? What was this guy thinking? All of my family was a little stunned. Von thought it was a wonderful practical joke and did some awkward laughing. I on the other hand began to really start questioning our relationship.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Tuesday Tip - 01-20-2009

Every marriage needs intimacy. You are responsible for creating half the intimacy within your relationship. The way that you do this is to remember what "in-to-me-see" means. It is nothing more than opening up the door or window to the wall that you have up to protect you from the rest of the world. Your spouse must see and understand what goes on inside your head and heart. You must take the risk of opening up. The reward for taking this risk is finding someone who will accept you (possibly all of you). It can be scary at first if you are not use to doing this but it can be exhilarating once you get through it.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Our Story - Part 3

Mark - The missionary discussions went well, however I continued to be an unusual investigator. I had no trouble accepting most parts of the Gospel as it was presented to me. I struggled only on two points. I accepted Joseph Smith as a prophet (who else would have translated such an amazing set of scripture as the Book of Mormon). Yet I didn't accept that there was a modern-day prophet. Why? Well as it was explained to me, it sounded like there was a dictator that was in charge of the Church and everyone blindly followed him. I was assured that I could read and hear what he said and decide for myself if it was true. That sounded good.

Then in what was probably the most comical moment, I told the missionaries that I wasn't sure that I had a testimony. They kind of laughed and shared with me my own words that I had said to them when I first met them. They also reminded me of the prayers I had made to know the truth and the impressions I had had afterwards. There was nothing left for me to do other than to set a date for my baptism.

That day came on November 13, 1993. I was only nineteen years old at the time. I went to my baptism having no doubts or regrets at all. I knew what I was doing. It felt like it was what I had been looking for my entire life. I was so energized with new feelings that immediately after my baptism, I turned to the Elder that had baptized me and asked him it would be alright if I gave my testimony. I got that familiar amazed stare from him as he said "sure, why not?". After my confirmation, I shared with everyone what was in my heart. It was amazing even to me. But the gifts that Heavenly Father would have for me would not end there.

Afterwards, I was standing to the side shaking hands with everyone. One hand shake in particular made an immediate impact on me. It was electric in fact. I stared into the eyes of the young woman who stood before me. Something was strange, very wonderful but strange about those eyes. I never wanted to let go of her hand. I thought to myself, "Don't let go. Please don't let go", over and over. I think she finally pulled her hand away after an awkwardly long time. I tried to make sense of what happened. I thought to myself, "Was she someone I was to date?" I quickly dismissed the thought. After all she had her boyfriend standing right next to her. I felt foolish for having such a thought and dismissed the whole experience as just some strange event.

Julie - Dating Von was wonderful but confusing. It seemed like we were always spending time together and always on the phone with each other. I would go over to his apartment and cook him dinner. And he would help me with writing my college papers on his computer. At the same time though, he would say that we weren't "in a relationship". But for me actions were louder than words and certainly felt like we were in one. Why else would we hold hands and continue to spend so much time together?

One of my callings at Church during this time was to prepare the Sunday Bulletin and also make programs for baptisms if someone asked. The missionaries called to say that there was going to be a baptism and asked if I could put together a program? They also wanted to know if the Young Single Adults would come to the baptism to support the new convert as he was a young adult as well. They said that he would appreciate being welcomed to the ward and being invited to some Young Single Adult activities.

I told the missionaries that I'd be happy to do that and was given all the important information. I talked to Von and the other Young Single Adults and we all agreed to go to the baptism and show our support. We even decided afterwards, to have a little welcome party at one of the other young adult's house to watch videos and hang out.

Von and I went to the baptism together. I had never met Mark before. I was surprised by how young he looked. I thought to myself "This guy couldn't be over twelve years old" (or so he looked to me). You could really feel the Spirit during the baptism. After Mark was confirmed, everyone was a little shocked when he got up and bore his testimony. He sounded like he had been a member of the Church for years. This guy was just a little bit different.

When the baptism was over, I went up to congratulate Mark and let him know about the Young Single Adult activity. When we went to shake hands, it was like someone had hit me with a bolt of electricity. I can't remember what we talked about as I stood there looking into his eyes. I can remember thinking "would you let go of my hand" and hearing a voice in my head saying "don't let go, please don't let go". This was so confusing. What was Heavenly Father trying to tell me? I already had a boyfriend.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Philosophy Friday - How to Make Any Marriage Better



We believe that anyone can make their marriage better by having Heavenly Father involved in that marriage as well. When the gift of marriage was handed off to us from God, He intended that He would be involved intimately in that relationship as well. He know the weaknesses and flaws that our relationships have. More importantly He knows how to fix it.

Now when I say this to people I usually have them say back to me "But I have prayed for help with my marriage and He hasn't been helping us". From your perspective you may not see that He is answering your prayer. However, He is limited by both you and your spouses free agency. He cannot violate both you and your spouses willingness to ignore His advice if that is what either of you want to do. The great news is that He will never give up on trying to bless both of you even you reject his gifts. Since you can't make your spouse accept help from Heavenly Father, you can only try to increase your willingness to follow His plan for your marriage. We know that as you do so, you will see miracles happen.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tuesday Tip - 01-13-2009

Today's Tuesday Tip is actually from the Generous Wife site. They send an e-mail tip every day. They also have a Generous Husband site.

Write down five things that you would like to do during your life. Ask your husband to do the same then share with each other. What can you do to help each other make those dreams come true?
A house is made of walls and beams; a home is built with love and dreams.
Author Unknown

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Our Story - Part Two

Mark - I went off to college in August of 1993. I would be living in the dorm rooms at Wright State University located in Fairborn, Ohio. By sheer luck, the university had made a mistake placing me and my roommate in a dorm room that shared a bathroom with women. So they had to move me to another one. However, the university only had a single person dorm room available for me to move me to. Normally, freshman never get these rooms but I did. The introvert in me was excited that once I got behind that door, I wouldn't need to pretend to be an outgoing person. I could be alone!

Outside my room was a completely different story. I went and did just about every social activity I could do. I met tons of new people. I made a new name for myself and shyness had nothing to do with it. Rather quickly, I had a group of friends from my dorm hall surounding me. It felt pretty good. However when it got to be too much for me, I could always slip back into my room.

I was a driven person at first. I was taking Computer Engineering classes which included Programing, Physics, Composition and Calculus. I had a full ROTC scholarship and esentially had everything paid for. I found work for spending money as a proctor for an algebra class where I taught fellow freshman students the remedials of algebra so that they could take normal set of algebra classes required of all freshman.

It was about a month into this routine that my life took a radical turn of events. I was walking from the ROTC building with a thought planted in my head that I needed to find a Church to go to. I had gone to Methodist and Prespitarian churches in the past and had made an intense study of the Bible the year before. By chance, there were two missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints standing out in the parking lot when I thinking about joining a church. I walked straight up to them (because I was in my extrovert mode outside my dorm room). I saw that they had a Book of Mormon in their hand. I told them that I knew about the Book of Mormon and I that I believed it was the Word of God.

Now you got to understand what just happened there in what I just described. This was two Mormon missionaries that are use to constantly having doors slammed in their faces and being ignored by the majority of people. Not only did someone come to them first, but this someone walked up and told them that the cornerstone of their faith was true. Why did I say that? I knew it was true. Two months earlier I had finshed reading the Bible. I had an impression that God would not just give revelation that was in the Bible. I figured that there was more that he revealed on earth. I found a Book of Mormon that our family had been given and read the statements of the witnesses in the front section. It was enough to convince me that I had found more of God's revealed truth. As you can imagine, the missionaries were excited to have found me and promptly made an appointment to come see me.

Julie Beth - While I was waiting for "Mr. Right" to show up, I kept myself busy by attending Institute classes and being involved with the Young Single Adult group in my church. I really enjoyed Institute. I took the time to really enjoy the scriptures and the Gospel. It helped me to stay focused on the type of person that I really wanted to marry. It could have been easy to settle for something less then my requirements for a husband but I knew that I wouldn't be happy.

It was good to have a strong group of friends who had the same standards that I did. I knew that Heavenly Father wanted me to be happy. And that if I just kept the right things, in His due time, He would send Mr. Right to me.

One night I got a call. There was a new guy in our Young Single Adult group who was interested in attending Institute. We agreed that he would pick me up and I would show him where classes were located. It seemed like fate had dealt me a lucky hand.

We started out as "just friends". But quickly grew to like each other and started going out on dates, attending Institute together each week, and going to Church dances. I did have to overlook the fact, that he wasn't Eagle Scout (one of my requirements for my husband). However, he was talking about going on a mission. So things were looking up and my dreams were coming true after all.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Philosphy Friday - Learn How to be a Good Spouse

We believe that you must learn how to have a good marriage. It just doesn't happen. Too many people believe that finding the right person is all that is required. Conversely if they are in a bad marriage it is because they married the wrong person. This is far from the truth. We are here to say that living happily ever after is a fairy tale. To be in a good marriage means that you consistently work hard at it. Part of the reason that we started this blog is to share skills that can help you and your beloved spouse to love each other better. Please keep coming back. Feel free to comment and share skills that you have learned so that we can all get better at our marriages. If you know of good places to go to get advice, please share it with all of us.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Tuesday Tip 01-06-2008

The beginning of the year is a time that we all typically think about the future and make plans for the upcoming year. This is a good time to sit down with your spouse to plan out your future year together. You want to plan things like what will you do special for your anniversary. Plan for the holidays next year. Maybe one of you wants to go back to school. Maybe you would like to go on more dates. Make a plan on how you will accomplish this. Then get a calendar just for the two of you and start putting these plans on the calendar. It is alright if your plans don't work out for one reason or another. However, if you don't plan ahead, you can guarantee that even less of what you would like to see happen will happen.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Our Story - Part One

Mark - Growing up I always wanted to have a family and to be a father. I didn't have any plans on how many children I would have. I just assumed that I would have three children like my parents did. The person that I would marry would be a good mother and someone that I really enjoyed being around. Beyond that I didn't know much about what I was looking for.

I didn't become interested in dating in High School until my junior year. But once I made the decision to date, I jumped in with two feet. I tried everything I knew. I passed notes to girls in class. I would ask them for their phone numbers. I would talk to them for hours on the phone. I even asked a couple of them out. However no one ever seemed to be that interested in me. After awhile, I began to wonder if anyone every would be interested in me.

I tried another strategy when I was a senior. I tried dating a couple of freshman girls. Both were disasters. Each was too immature for any kind of real relationship. Neither lasted more than a couple of months. I was sure no one else older was interested in me. So I spent all the dances (including the prom) at home and alone.

So finding a high school sweetheart was now out of the picture. I began considering my prospects once I went off to college. I figured that I'd have a much better chance there. I started counting the benefits of waiting until I was in college. First no one would know me there. No one would know of my embarrassing social past. Second I could pretend to be someone that I wasn't. That was a big plus. I knew no one would be interested in the way I was. I figured that a radical change in who I was would work out better for me. So I waited out my time in High School and counted to the day that I would move far away from everyone in my home town.

Julie - At the age of four, I thought that you were suppose to grow up and marry your Mother's best friend's son. It's what I saw frequently on TV shows and movies. It also probably helped that the boy that I first had a crush on was my best friend and of course was my Mother's best friend's son.

As I got older, I realized that this wasn't a practical plan. I discovered that best friends don't like kissing someone they think of as their sister. And I always seemed to be the girl that my guy friends liked to hang out with as a friend, but nothing more. (See guys you aren't the only ones that get the line "Let's just be friends".)

I also had another complication in finding the right guy to marry. I knew that I wanted to be married to someone who loved the Gospel and the Church that I loved so much. A friend of mine (yeah you guessed it, one of the guys that I liked but I was just someone to give advice to, not to date) told me that I should never settle for anything less than an Eagle Scout and return missionary from our Church. I knew he was right. Unfortunately, there didn't seem to be a whole lot of these in Ohio. So I didn't date a whole lot in high school. Then I didn't date a whole lot in college. In fact, at one point I went five years without a date, because there was no one I was interested in dating that was interested in dating me. I wondered if I would ever find someone to date let alone marry.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Philosophy Friday - Who's responsible for our happiness?

We believe that we are responsible first and foremost for our own happiness. Then when we are happy, we have the special opportunity to share with our spouse the source of that happiness. Ironically, at times it may be something that our spouse did that "made us happy". But being happy is still our responsibility. For example, snuggling with Julie Beth last night made me really happy. However, could I have had another reaction? Sure… I could have been annoyed if say, I wanted to watch TV instead or if I thought that she was being "too needy".

When I view myself as being responsible for my happiness I have no reason to be annoyed or angry with Julie Beth when I am unhappy. Further, I don't need to waste any of my energy wishing or hoping that my wife will be different. Instead when I am unhappy, I start looking at myself to figure out what I am doing wrong. It prevents a lot of resentment from building up between the two of us.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Welcome to Eternal Helpmates

If you’re reading this we are very grateful. We don’t consider ourselves experts, but we do feel that we have a lot to share. We hope that by sharing the ideas that we have, we can help you to find joy and fulfillment in your marriage. And we would love to hear your ideas as well, tell us what has worked for you, or what hasn’t. Together we will all grow as couples and help strengthen one another.

President Gordon B. Hinckley: “A good marriage requires time. It requires effort. You have to work at it. You have to cultivate it. You have to forgive and forget. You have to be absolutely loyal one to another” (“Life’s Obligations,” Ensign, Feb. 1999, 4).