Thursday, November 28, 2013

In Thanks-Giving: Day 5

Day 5: Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Time and All Eternity

6 months.  Tuesday made 6 months to the day since my Jason jumped into our beloved falls, never to return.  It was a normal camping trip, the first one of the season, Memorial Day weekend.  One year before, we were at the exact same falls, launching our camping season with some friends.  This year Jason and I opted to make the trip alone.  We had just decided to grow our little family.

Growing up as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I was always taught to strive for a temple marriage, a marriage in which husband and wife are not married for just time, but also for all eternity.  How magical it all sounds to a little girl growing up with dreams of forever with her night in shining armor.  Although it has always sounded magical and always been my goal, it is what we hear over and over growing up, and so as an adult, I knew it was important, but could never truly wrap my mind around what it all meant. 

It makes sense now.

When your husband is alive beside you, next to you as you wake up in the morning, cooking and cleaning with you in the evening, and snuggled back beside you at night, it is hard to grasp the necessity of eternity.  I have him now, and even though later is important, it can't be as important as the here and now.  I've had 6 months to ponder what being married is all about.  6 months reflecting on why Jason and I got married and what the purpose of marriage really is.  6 months to fume over the time I let slip by.  6 months to let the concept of eternity sink in.

I'm going to tell you a little about what I've discovered.  Some of it deals directly with God, some of it in a more round about way, but the first thing I need you to understand is that, for me, marriage is directly linked to God.  Genesis 1:27 states, "So God created man in his own aimage, in the image of God created he him; male and bfemale created he them." Just as God created us in His image, He gave us a like-minded purpose to come to earth, receive mortal bodies, and learn and grow.  Just as God is literally the Father of our spirits, he allows us to be mothers and fathers of his spirit children.  We are here to learn how to be like God.  Remember the crazy fad of "WWJD?" bracelets reminding us to be more Christ-life as we consider "What Would Jesus Do?" in the situations arising in our lives?  That is part of the reason we are here.

When two people unite in marriage, they are making a commitment to one another.  There are lots of pretty, fun, flowery things a preacher, pastor, or even justice of the peace might say when two people are united, and that is great, and there is a deeper purpose.  We must learn how to work together, how to literally become one in our principles, desires, and ideals.  No, that doesn't mean you can't have different interests than your spouse, but how much more of a successful marriage will you have if you take the time to understand a little more about your spouse's interests and encourage him/ her in the development of a new talent.  Marriage is meant to help us learn how to be "one."

Jason and I got married so we could be together, not just literally next to each other, but so that we could begin to become one, to work together, to share together.  I know "girls/ boys weekends" are fun, and I am not judging any of you or the quality of your marriage with this statement; Jason and I didn't want to have those weekends.  We still did them, but in the end, we wanted to be together.  We got married so we would have "that person," the one you tell your deepest, darkest secrets, the one that helps you hatch crazy-wild plans, the one who brings out the best in you, the one who makes you who you are.  Not just a best friend, a SPOUSE.  I'm not sure at what point these became separate things, but don't we often here, my spouse is my best friend." Well, duh!  If your spouse isn't your best friend, you're missing out. 

So how is a sealing different from a marriage?  When two people get married, they are making a commitment to one another; when two people get sealed, they add God to the mix.  A sealing is a covenant with you, your spouse, and God. God is literally the "missing link."  With God as part of our marriage, it means we don't stop learning and growing together as one even though Jason has passed from this life because God can link us beyond the grave.  It means that every step I make in the right direction is a victory for both of us, not just for me.  Don't worry, we aren't automatically just stuck together because we are sealed, it is still our choice, and that is what is so amazing: I know that Jason is striving to learn and grow in ways that will strengthen us, both as spouses, and as future parents. {Yes, I believe that one day, after the Savior's return, when we are reunited with our loved ones, that Jason and I will still have the opportunity to raise our children.}

It didn't make sense before, but now I understand that Jason and are one; if you have ever seen a weld, think about that image, the two pieces of metal, joined as one.  That is what Jason and I have, we have sealing; we have a weld.  I am grateful for my weld!

April 16, 2011
Our Welding..I mean, Wedding Day

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

In Thanks-giving: Day 4

...still catching up; Colorado is incredible!

Lifting the Burden

"There is a wise old saying, 'Eat it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.' Thrift is a practice of not wasting anything. Some people are able to get by because of the absence of expense. They have their shoes resoled, they patch, they mend, they sew, and they save money. They avoid installment buying, and make purchases only after saving enough to pay cash, thus avoiding interest charges.
-President James E. Faust Link to full article

I have been raised in a religion that encourages and teaches financial independence, freedom from the bondage of debt as reiterated here by President Ezra Taft Benson, "No man is truly free who is in financial bondage. ‘Think what you do when you run in debt,' said Benjamin Franklin, 'you give another power over your liberty.'" Yet, when I began dating Jason, I was digging a hole down the opposite path.  Of course, like every other twenty-something, I had school debt, but I was still in school and any payments on those were deferred until after graduation- those weren't {the real} problem...I had credit card debt and poor spending habits.

My parents didn't encourage credit cards, and when I decided I would get one, strongly counseled me to use it carefully.  I entered my credit card agreement with the right outlook: it was only to help build my credit, and I would pay it off every month.  That is how it all started.  Soon I was whisking myself off to Ireland and shopping away relationship woes...needless to say, when I met Jason, my financial record was one to be ashamed of.  For those of you who know Jason, he has spent the latter years of his life living quite frugally.  When he took me on dates they were often free, if not, he talked people down to a price he thought was reasonable.  {This is only the tip of the iceberg by the way, I have seen him {successfully} finagle prices at Wal-Mart...we'll save those stories for another time!}

Aside from my spending disasters, Jason and I started dating right before my last semester of college, when I would enter my teaching internship.  This {unpaid} internship would take the majority of my time, so I would have to quit two of my jobs, and drop to just one.  I knew how important money-smarts were to Jason, so I worked hard to manage my finances without having to reveal how poorly I was doing, but with the shift from 3 jobs to 1, things weren't going well.  Jason and I normally alternated weekends in Greenville and Raleigh, and soon the revelation came of just how poorly I was doing.  For about a month Jason had been supplementing my gas money, so I could make it up to Raleigh, but on this particular Saturday while we were rushing to meet some friends, Jason walked into the room to find me hanging up the phone in tears.  My credit card bill was well overdue, and I didn't have the money to pay it.  That day Jason sat me down and we started working out a plan.

With Jason's help, I shut off my credit card and started a payment plan that would slowly allow me to pay off my debt.  It was set to take a few years, but with Jason's encouragement, I paid off my credit card shortly after we were married!  This experience truly opened our eyes, and we made a joint commitment to be debt-free.  Together we paid off our school loans and vehicle debt and set an 18-month plan in motion to pay off our house! 

Our financial plan was pieced together from principles we learned at church and from financial gurus like Dave Ramsey.  We calculated what it would take to live with no income for 6 months, and used that calculation to establish our 6-month savings blanket.  Next we set our budget, and all excess began going half to the house and half to another savings account.  The final step, aside from paying off the house, was calculating what we {me and three children} would need to get back on our feet if something was to happen to Jason.  We calculated that amount, and set up Jason's life December 2012.

Fast forward to 5 months later.  Jason's life insurance is in effect {and only needed for me and one cute puppy dog}; I'm out of work for the summer {because I'm a teacher}; I can't access our extra savings or our main account {which were both in Jason's name}; I can access our 6-months savings account.

What a road Jason and I have been on financially.  Six months after his passing, the only debt I have is our beautiful home that now has a low enough payment, that my single income can easily handle; I had the money to comfortably get by until I had access to our other accounts, and I started back working; I am still on track to pay off the house if I decide to do so.

What an incredible blessing that Heavenly Father's gospel set a base for us both, and that He then used us both to establish a financial foundation for each other.  Without each segment of this path, I would not have been prepared to live the way I am now.  I would be drowning my woes in new clothes.  I would likely have needed to sell our house and vehicles.  I would not be in Colorado spending Thanksgiving with incredible family.  Heavenly Father allowed Jason to come into my life at the moment I needed him most, and much of that was for the sake of my financial education. 

I love my Heavenly Father; I love the Lord; and I am grateful they gave me my Jason to love too!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

In Thanks-Giving: Day 3

I should have known I'd get a bit behind in posting once I hit the lofty mountains of Colorado...
Now to catch up!

Day 3, Sunday, November 24, 2013

Take Me Back

I heard this song for the first time the other day and instantly fell in love. 

I kept wanting to sing " I will hold on," but those aren't the words...they are "I hold on."  This change may seem like nothing to you, but once I realized the possible difference, I was blown away.  He isn't make a statement about his actions, he is making a statement about his being, his core values, who he is:  he is a guy that "hold[s] on." 

When the song opens, Dierks Bentley is singing about a busted up truck everyone thinks he should sell, but then informs the listener of what no one knows, " dad and me/ We drove her out to Tennessee/ She's still here, now, he's gone/  So I hold on."  I was immediately connected to his emotions tying him to that truck. 

Though Jason and I celebrated a "mere" two year-anniversary shortly before his passing, we packed a lot of love and a lot of memories into that "short" time we had together.  I have repeatedly been told since Jason's passing, that we lived and loved more in those 2 years then most people do in a lifetime.  Please don't be offended; please don't think I am making our marriage out to be something it is not: those people...are RIGHT!

Jason and I packed a lot of life, love, and memories into our time together.  There was rarely a moment we weren't adventuring in one way or another: waterfall hikes and campouts, new jobs, home projects, business ideas...the list goes on. 

A few months ago I told those closest to me of a very personal struggle that was overtaking me: an identity crisis.  I love the person I have become since Jason Edwards entered my life, and I have been deathly afraid that I will lose me, thus losing him, again...and then Dierks' song comes into earshot..."I hold on."

I have been blessed with a million surroundings that give me what that truck gives the boy in the song.  It is hard to articulate to someone who hasn't lost a close loved one, a loved one who literally helped define you as an individual, but everyday I get to "hold on." Sometimes I hold on to trivial items around our home, and sometimes I hold on to the feeling of his arms around me; either way, "I hold on..." tight!

Today {or Sunday, rather ;)} I am thankful for the memories, and a man who worked so hard to capture the memories via camera, and I am thankful for a memory that continually recollects more and more about my precious Jason, and I am thankful for a God who gave us TWO WHOLE YEARS!  I don't make a statement of the actions a plan to take in the future by stating, I will hold on,  I make a statement of who I am when I say, " I hold on."

Saturday, November 23, 2013

In Thanks-Giving: Day 2


Day 2: Saturday, November 23, 2013

On the Drive

Driving to Greenville today, to celebrate Thanksgiving and Mom’s birthday early, I had the opportunity to listen to several amazing songs.  Before Jason’s passing, we began listening to a Contemporary Christian station, “HIS Radio.”  I never knew Christian music could be so awesome!  Not only is is packed with positive, faith-inspiring messages, it is clean, and it is actually fairly…contemporary!  Needless to say, we enjoy it…back to the point: today I heard some awesome songs that inspire me, so I thought I should share one!

As I began to sing along, I was flooded with thoughts of “what faith [truly] can do,” and I was reminded of Ether 12: 4, which states,

“Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God.”

“…hope cometh of faith, [and] maketh an anchor.” I have heard people say that religion is needed because people need something to hope for.  Oh how that only scrapes the surface.  Yes, my religion does give me hope, and that hope is nothing without my personal faith…in God, in His plan, and in His promises.  To me, “faith is things which are hoped for, and not seen” (Ether 12:6), so yes, religion gives me something to hope for, and only because I have faith in the promises that have been made to me.  Take a look at the imagery in the passage: it makes “an anchor.”  Merriam-Webster defines anchor, “something that serves to hold an object firmly.” Mere belief does not anchor, but faith-based knowledge does! 

Now for the “what faith can do” part: it “would make [men] sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works.”  I’m pretty sure the world could use a few more people who are “sure and steadfast.”  I know I can use a little more “steadfast-ness” in my life.  Then we would abound in good works, not merely doing good works, but “abounding” in them!  I long to abound in good works.

Because of hope, I have a bright future ahead of me.  I can wake up everyday and go to sleep every night with the hope of a better, brighter day in my future.  Hope gets me out of bed each day, gets me working towards the goals Jason and I set, gets me dreaming of my mansions above.

I want to leave you with one more song that reminded me today that my hope has become an anchor to me these last 6 months. Enjoy!

I am hopeful that I can accomplish anything I put my mind to as long as God is by my side, and Jason is rooting me on.  Here’s to hope = my anchor in times of sadness.

In Thanks-Giving

The month of November has been full of posts, comments, and celebrations of thankfulness.  This month will mark 6 months since I rode away from the Pisgah without my husband.  In the face of tragedy, it is often difficult to find reasons to give thanks. I need to give thanks.

In light of this need, I have decided to spend the next week {Friday to Friday} illuminating for myself, and for others, all that I have to be thankful for.

Day 1: Friday, November 22, 2013


Had a revelation...of sorts...tonight while watching Hunger Games in preparation for Catching Fire tomorrow.  As I watched Katniss, so at home in the woods, I realized that I too feel at home in the woods.  Of course this got me reminiscing all the fabulous adventures Jason and I have had in the mystical NC mountains, and I quickly became bitter wondering how I could ever feel truly "at home" when my world has been flipped upside down.  Then it occurred to me, in the moonlit darkness of our "home" that holds so many memories, that my husband isn't ever gone.  

Our lives do not end when the life of our bodies ends.  Jason Edwards is still very much alive, we are just in different locations; he literally is away for a while.  This may seem delusional to some, and I mourn for you.  I am well aware that my husband isn't on some business trip from which he should be returning any day now, and I am also well aware that we will be reunited.  Yes, that day may be afar off, and that is okay because I will continue to build our life here; I will continue to learn here; I will continue to achieve our goals here, and while I do, he will be working there.  He will build our life there; he will continue to learn there; he will achieve goals I didn't even know we had- there! 

It's true what "they" say: absence truly does make the heart grow fonder.  I despise that I did not appreciate my husband for all that he is while he was on this earth next to me, so I work now to show him, by emulating his actions, that I cannot be the person I am without him as my companion.  I am purely in love with the man of my dreams and only wish I could convey to him now, a fraction of what he means to me.  

I am thankful for the man that taught me to love with all of my being, and I am thankful for a God who clearly must have bribed that man to love me!