A Complete Change

I don’t want to get too personal in this blog post but it is something I do want to share with you all. We have four family new year’s resolutions:

  1. Go to the temple regularly (We decided every other week.)
  2. Read the scriptures together every day
  3. Hold Family Home Evening weekly
  4. Kneel in prayer together at night

We have had these four goals since we’ve been married but, honestly, haven’t been great at all of them at the same time. It’s not that we purposely were trying not to do them, but life gets busy and it’s hard to get in those habits. What’s made it really difficult is the scheduling. Almost everyday T.J. comes home just for dinner and then heads back to campus to do homework. By the time he gets back, I’m either asleep or we are both dreadfully tired.

At the end of 2012 we knew we needed to do something different. Those four resolutions aren’t just goals. They are all CRITICAL components to a happy and loving marriage. I’m sure you’ve heard it a hundred times. But still. Step back for one minute and take the time to analyze your marriage. When you aren’t doing those four goals, do you feel like you’re happy with your marriage? Happy with your spouse? Do you two get along well? Do you feel like the Spirit is in your home?

If you’re not working on those four goals continually, then the answer to all those questions can’t be a solid yes. And for us, a lot of times the answers were no.

So, we decided we had to try something new. In the past, we had been trying to pray and read together right before bed. What that turned out to be was us rushing through a couple verses because we were eager to get to sleep. Our prayers weren’t very thoughtful. They were the same ones every night. Our plan? We found a new time. Right after dinner. As soon as dinner is over, we read from the scriptures then we kneel together in prayer. The best part is that Eva finally sees us reading and praying together every single day. One day this week she even hopped on my lap and pointed to the scriptures while we were reading, pretending to follow along. Also, if it’s Monday, we do FHE right after dinner.

I am not kidding when I tell you that this has literally changed our life and changed our marriage. In fact, it brings me to (happy) tears to think about the night and day difference. It’s only been three weeks, but I am literally in awe at the change it has created in our home. Not only has it brought a strong spirit of peace, we also are growing spiritually together. Who would have thought that just moving the time back a couple of hours when we are still awake would make such a huge difference. Since we aren’t half asleep, we take the time to really dive into the scriptures and pray with real intent. We also have noticed a huge difference in how we get along. We rarely fight or get offended anymore. We are more considerate of each other and see in each other so much spiritual potential.

Going to the temple is the last key to this change. We hadn’t been to the temple together for a while because it’s hard to make time when you have kids. But I will tell you what… It is crucial. Go. Make a goal and stick to it. Find a babysitter. I know it may seem inconvenient when you have kids, but it makes such a huge difference. So, just go!

I hope that this post doesn’t come out all braggy. I don’t want you to think that I’m saying, “Hey, my marriage is awesome and we are a perfect Mormon family!” We always will have hardships and every day isn’t a dream. But the point is…

When you are working on those four goals, you and your spouse have the power and strength to get through anything together.

It’s true. I know it is. And I really hope that, if you find yourself in the same rut that we were in, you try this!

Alright. I’m going to step off the pulpit now. Just call me Sister Derrick from now on.  🙂




Conference Weekend

Friday night, my amazing husband turned down watching the BYU football game so he could take me on a date without Eva. We have been really busy and so it was the only night that worked. He came home from work with these beautiful flowers.

We had a gift card to Applebee’s so that makes any dinner great. Most of our conversation centered around our Halloween costume ideas. We still haven’t decided on one!

After dinner, we snuck in some treats to see the movie Hotel Transylvania. T.J. really didn’t want to see that movie but I thought the previews looked cute and told him to trust me. Within the first fifteen minutes of the movie I knew we had chosen the wrong movie. I tried to keep to convince myself I liked it because I didn’t want T.J. to be right, but then it almost became unbearable. We only see movies at the regular theater once every couple of months so it’s pretty disappointing that we saw that one. Oh well, it’ll be a funny memory!

Saturday morning before General Conference, T.J., Eva, and I took a walk up and around the temple. It was so gorgeous and this cutie pie looked adorable as ever.

Eva loves watching conference.

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Pirate Party Surprise

The day after T.J. returned, I had planned a surprise party for him. I knew I wanted it to be pirate themed, because he’s obsessed with pirates. When I was checking out at target with all my pirate decorations, the cashier asked me how old my “little pirate” was, thinking it was for my son or something. No, it was for my 25 year old husband.

I only invited T.J.’s old roommates and their spouses, plus his parents. One couple said they wouldn’t make it until 8. Another couple was running late. And T.J.’s parents were with him and so they weren’t going to be able to jump out when he came in. So, as T.J. walked in, it was only me, Eva and one other couple. Really epic. But he was still surprised!

A Homecoming to Remember

Can you believe T.J. is back? I still can’t wrap my head around it. I keep thinking he’s going to leave again but he’s here to stay! This week has been unbelievable, it’s been amazing to see Eva and T.J. interact. You can tell she knows her daddy.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. The couple of days before T.J. came home, I was getting so nervous I almost felt sick. Nervous excited. Not nervous worried. The anticipation of his arrival was killing me.

I spent all Wednesday cleaning up and decorating so T.J. would come home to a clean home. Then on Thursday the 30th I dressed Eva in an adorable outfit and we headed to the airport. We parked and headed into the baggage claim. There he was. Beard and all.

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Why I Keep Coming Back

Today at church I was sitting in the foyer with Eva for (what felt like) the hundredth time and I just wanted to give up and throw in the towel. I thought to myself, Why do I keep coming back here? I miss the talks. I miss the lessons. Do I even get anything out of it when I am in and out of the meetings?

This led me to brainstorming the reasons why I do keep coming back.

  • I need to set an example for Eva. I don’t want her to think that we can just skip church if we are having a rough day. In fact, those are usually the days we need it most.
  • I can still enjoy the Spirit in the building. There’s something about getting dressed in your Sunday’s best and trying to be reverent.
  • I will be blessed for my efforts.
  • I still get bits and pieces of the messages, which add up to something.
  • It’s never going to get any easier. I’m sure in ten years I’ll be looking back and dreaming of these days. I’ll have more callings, more kids, and more responsibilities then.

After that, I rededicated myself to staying the rest of the three hours. But it still wasn’t easy. On the way out, I grabbed my belongings quickly and headed to the car behind dozens of couples holding hands and talking about what they learned in Priesthood and Relief Society.

That’s when I lost it. The moment I got in the car I broke down in tears. I really consider myself to be a strong woman. Not many wives could be away from their husbands for four months and be okay. And most of the time, I am okay. But after a long day with Eva, I really needed my hubby at my side telling me it ‘s all worth it and to hang in there.

I know I shouldn’t complain. My mom would call me after reading this and say there are so many people in much worse situations than I am in. So, Mom, I beat you to the punch. When I do start feeling sorry for myself, I always think of all the wives with husbands in the military. They go months or even years without seeing their husbands and everyday they worry if he’s going to make it home safely. And when times are tough with Eva I try to remember how she’s the biggest blessing in my life.

And after all, there’s just a week and a half left. Only one more Sunday by myself. Oh, you better believe Eva will be T.J.’s responsibility for many Sundays to come.

August 30

We are getting down to the last three weeks of T.J.’s internship. As time goes by and the four months add up, I almost start thinking that this is what the rest of my life is going to be. We are going to be apart forever and I’m going to have to raise Eva by myself. But fortunately, it’s not true! He will return and life will finally go back to normal.

Yesterday I was at a wedding and a couple friends who I hadn’t seen for quite some time asked me some of the same questions everyone asks me after I tell them of our situation: Is it just so hard to be apart? Do you miss him terribly? How can you stand for T.J. not to see Eva grow up these four months?

These questions and comments, while I know most people are just making conversation and being thoughtful, kill me. Seriously. They’re the worst!

Of course, it’s hard. But we prayed about what we should do before the internship started and we had an overwhelming feeling that I should stay back in Provo with Eva. Looking back, I know some reasons why that was our answer now. So, yes, it’s been hard. But it has been 99% worth it.

Of course, I miss him, but this is what we had to do as a family so I try not to think about it. When I do think about it, I get sad. But instead of being sad all summer, I decided to think of all the benefits this internship is bringing to our family and enjoy myself here in Provo.

That last question is by far the worst. People say it to me constantly and I can’t take it any longer! Yes, T.J. is missing all of this! But in the long scheme of things, four months isn’t long! There have been a few milestones he has missed but there will be plenty more to come. It’s another thing I try not to ever let myself think about because the only thing it will do is make me sad and discouraged, and I need to have faith in the answer we had as a family about being apart for the summer. So, if you don’t mind, let’s all may a pact to never bring this up again, alright? Pleaseandthankyou.

Now that I have vented, let me tell you about the three things I am most excited about when T.J. comes back!

  1. Being a +2 again! No more being a single parent at church and no more arriving by myself at events such as weddings. Being able to go on dates on a Friday night, watching movies with my best friend, and eating dinner together every night.
  2. Not being sad when I’m around T.J.’s family. Holy cow, this has been one of the hardest things as the summer has progressed. I love his family but being around everyone who is related to him makes me miss him a hundred times more. Plus, when there are parties or other events, I can’t stop thinking about all the past parties we have been at together. It makes his lack of presence even more tangible and leads me to a breakdown in the bathroom 99% of the time.
  3. Eva and T.J. being besties. I can’t wait for Eva to look at T.J. like the way she looks at me. It makes me tear up and smile just thinking about it. Her personality is just to die for and I can’t wait for T.J. to get to know her again!
There you have it! Sorry for ranting, but isn’t that what a blog is for?


Alma 5

Three years ago, when T.J. was walking me home, he pulled a flower off of the tree and put it in my hair. That night, I put it in my scriptures. I came across it in my studies this week. Alma 5.

“And according to his faith there was a mighty change wrought in his heart.”


One Month to Go!

3 Months Ago in Provo

2 Months Ago in NYC

1 Month Ago in DC

I can’t wait to post in one month when T.J. is home for good! Overall, this summer has gone so fast and I can’t believe we only have four weeks until he is back forever!

He Makes Me Laugh

Last night when T.J. and I were FaceTiming and being all cute, T.J. said,

“We’re like Jekyll and Hyde!”

Then I thought, wait a second, Jekyll and Hyde?

“Do you mean Bonnie and Clyde?”

Too funny!

To be clear, he did mean Bonnie and Clyde. Although at times, I may remind him of Jekyll and Hyde.

P.S. This is my favorite picture of us when we were dating!

Sightseeing in DC

I have had little to no motivation to write on my blog lately. But I’m making myself do it now. Here. Tonight. Bear with me.

So, if you recall, we left off on Friday night when we picked up T.J. On Saturday, we woke up and had a big family breakfast then we all headed to downtown DC which is about 20 min away from my sister’s home.

We first visited the Smithsonian Art Museum. T.J. could have spent the day there, I’m so glad we went because he loved it so much. But the kiddos got a little restless as you can expect, so after lunch everyone (including Eva) went back to the house and T.J. and I got to explore on our own.

Except for the intense heat (I heard it was 105 degrees and don’t forget the humidity), the day was amazing. We saw just about every memorial and also visited the Natural History Museum. It was so fun to be with T.J. I really couldn’t have cared less where we were because I just loved being with him. Cheesy I know, but after being a part for so long, I tried to soak up every minute.

We took the train to Old Town Alexandria, always my favorite part when I visit DC. After dinner (where T.J. ate a whole rack of ribs because he was so hungry), we shopped a bit and then walked along the piers.

To end the night, we met my mom and my sister at a park on the river and listened to an orchestra for a 4th of July concert and fireworks. I could not imagine a more magical evening to wrap the whole day up. I was exhausted by the end of the day, but it was fantastic to have a date with my hubby once again!

The next morning, T.J. and I went downtown one last time to see the FDR and MLK memorials. Afterwards, we went to church with the fam. It was a quieter and low-key day, but so relaxing and peaceful with the whole family.

In the evening, I dropped T.J. off at the bus stop and we said our goodbyes once again. It was hard, but I’m kind of used to it by now and it was great to know the next time I see him, there won’t be any goodbyes shortly after.

A perfect surprise and a perfect weekend.