I have had approximately 87 thoughts running through my head the past 2 days...which usually means we're in for a good, LAWWWNG blog post. Hit it! I'm not sure if it will come together as eloquently as it is in my head and has felt in my heart....but I guess that doesn't matter. I am in no way writing to be published. But fair warning....this is long and might be slightly tangent-y...so feel free to skim or skip it all together. You won't get any awards or anything for reading it all, but if you do feel as if I owe you something for your endurance, feel free to come on over and I will give you a GREAT BIG SQUATCH for your efforts!!! Still, when it comes to my writing, whether it's something that will interest others or not, really doesn't concern me in the least. When I feel something so strongly, I have to write. If I don't, it won't leave me alone until I do. And so, I begin....
Have you ever felt an intense longing for someone who not only speaks, but UNDERSTANDS the language you speak? If you've ever moved to a foreign country before learning the language, you know exactly how that feels. I will never forget being forced to go on the Youth Temple Trip to the Frankfurt Temple, not even one month after arriving in Germany. Perhaps I should more accurately state that my parents "strongly encouraged" me to go...and that the Young Men's President in our ward FORCED me to go. LOL! Either way, I went. Kristin wasn't in Young Women yet, so I was on my own...in a new country, on a week-long temple trip with hundreds of youth that I didn't know...speaking a language that I didn't speak. I wish that I could say that it ended up being "the best thing that ever happened to me." In the end, I am SURE that it was VITAL in my "crash course" of the German language. However, that was, without a doubt, one of the most challenging and emotional weeks of my teenage life. (Ironically, what would later TRUMP that week 100 times on the "difficulty scale," would be having to LEAVE Germany 3 years later.) Much of that week, when there weren't organized activities, I laid on my top bunk in the youth hostile, curled in a ball, head POUNDING with migraine headaches (a result of trying SO HARD to understand words that I couldn't for the LIFE of me decifer), and tears running down my cheeks. Perhaps this image doesn't quite line up to the Heather that you are acquainted with. Were we to move ANYWHERE in the world today, I would be CHOMPING at the bit to connect and learn the language, confident and excited about a new adventure. I'm afraid that 14-year old Heather, who had just been removed from her comfort zone and re-planted in a very foreign place, was not as confident as I am now. At any rate....that week was so challenging. I remember so vividly, crying on my bunk and praying...PLEADING really...that God would send SOMEONE...ANYONE that spoke my language...someone that I could talk to and would understand me. Not being understood, not having anyone that so COMPLETELY understands you (without you ever having to explain yourself) is one of the loneliest feelings I have ever personally experienced.
This story could be taken in SO many different directions, but my main purpose for sharing it today, is to compare those feelings I felt as a 14-year old girl, to the almost identical feelings I have felt as a 21-33 year old woman. Though I am one that connects easily with others, when it has come to that one beautiful connection, a soulmate with whom you want nothing more than to spend forever with, I have been suddenly thrown back to that small room in the Youth Hostile on the top bunk, pleading through tear-filled eyes for God to please send me someone who I can talk to and will understand me. Even after learning the German language fluently, hearing my OWN language was wonderful. To take that even further, though I so appreciated my sweet German friends practicing their English with me every now and again (and EXTREMELY WELL, by the way), there was something about speaking to those who shared my mother tongue. It was such a beautiful thing...and brought such complete peace to be understood completely and without explanation.
The difference between then...and now....was that I knew someday, I would be back in the United States. Whether I ended up learning German or not, I knew that in 3 years, I would be back where everyone spoke my language. Unfortunately, as it applies to my life today, I don't have the guarantee. And as a result of my life experiences, I admit that I lost a lot of faith in the possiblity. I know I have said this often lately....but I had NO IDEA what my Heavenly Father had in store for me. Though I had dated a few gentlemen that could understand me to an extent, and perhaps even better with some explanation, I had NEVER experienced the peace that comes from someone who understands you so completely, that NO explanation is necessary. They understand, because they SPEAK THE VERY SAME LANGUAGE that you do!! No having to repeat or explain or go into depth or give background information or....or...or. They just GET it. And ironically, that is such a FOREIGN feeling to me. Jeff and I are more than just two people who get along famously. We speak the EXACT SAME LANGUAGE. I can't even describe to you what that means.
As of yesterday, Jeff and I have been dating for 7 months...and every single moment of every single day together is something worth celebrating. I was talking to my dear friend Deb today about both of our lives, that have had so many similarities. I expressed to her that I had grown so accustomed to living in a storm. In fact, I had actually grown extremely strong as a result and had learned to be genuinely very happy "dancing in the rain." Challenges, or "opportunities for growth" (as I prefer to call them), were my "norm." As funny as this sounds, I'm having a difficult time believing that this period of my life seems to be a period of RAINBOWS. Jeff, one of my most beautiful "rainbows," is often one of the hardest ones for me to believe. Even after 7 months together, there are evenings when I close my eyes and feel a very real fear that when I open my eyes, he will have been a dream. I know how to do storms. I don't know how to do rainbows. But every day when I wake up and he is still in my life....I am one step closer to believing that this beautiful dream isn't a dream at all and that after the storms that God has blessed me with, this rainbow was just as much a part of His plan for me.
Of the seven months that we have celebrated, this anniversary was my favorite. I am laughing as I write that, remembering something that my sister Kim told me recently. I was talking about some recent experience that I had had and said, "It was seriously one of my all-time favorites." Referring to almost every one of my blog posts, Kim reminded me of how often I say that something is my favorite. She recommended that I actually write a blog entry called "Everything is my favorite." LOL! Ok, so it's true. *sigh* But what a wonderful "new norm" this is...where I have such awesome perspective and gratitude in my heart...and EVERYTHING TRULY IS my FAVORITE! Oh, my Heavenly Father is so good to me.
Annnnyway. Last night was pure perfection. Yesterday morning, Seneca and I headed over to Jeff's house to throw a homemade dinner in the crockpot so that it would be ready right when Jeff and I got home from work. I decided to make two of my favorite recipes....Cranberry Pork Roast and Lemon Butter Red Potatoes. When Jeff got home, we talked as I finished up preparing dinner. Oh how I love that. I love talking in the kitchen...feeling his arms wrap around my waist while I am stirring something on the stove or kiss my neck in between sentences. The things that seem so small....are so ridiculously HUGE to me. We then enjoyed a DELICIOUS meal and an awesome conversation about the current presidential race, stories we had both heard on TALK RADIO on the way home from work, etc. Jeff LOVED the meal..and we BOTH loved the conversation and the company.
After dinner, I mentioned to Jeff that I had a surprise idea for the evening. We got in the car and I gave him directions to Barnes & Noble. When we got there, I had him walk around the store for a little while so I could head back to the Childrens' Section. Earlier that day, I had looked up the TOP 100 BOOKS FOR CHILDREN and had picked out 9 that I had either already read and loved....or ones that really sounded wonderful.
After I had gathered the titles I had written down, I sent Jeff a text to come and meet me in the Childrens' Section. When he arrived, I was waiting for him under a tree. Not a real tree, of course....but a tree nonetheless. :-)
I love the Children's Reading Area in the Barnes & Noble at Jordan Landing. It is so "magical." And there we sat, under a tree in the Hundred Acre Wood, reading and discussing childrens' books for a few hours. It was...perfect.
Of all of the books we read together, my favorites were "THE DOT" and "ZEN SHORTS." You can bet that as soon as I have a few spare pennies, I will be purchasing both of those for myself. "ZEN SHORTS" was so RIGHT ON to the philosophies that I personally live by.....it made my soul vibrate. AMAZING BOOK!!!! "THE DOT" was so BEAUTIFUL and SIMPLY inspirational. How I loved taking turns reading to each other and then sharing our thoughts about each book and the message it taught. Although Jeff and I both agreed that EVERYTHING we do together is so perfect....I think this particular memory will always stand out to me as one of the "perfectest." :-)
That wasn't the only surprise I had for Jeff last night. Before we say goodbye each night, we always end with a good snuggle. There have been many times in that snuggle time when I will ask Jeff to tell me story. Not just any story....but a story from his life. Jeff and I both have experienced much and have seen MANY things. He has SO much to share...and I never get tired of hearing him tell me about his life and many adventures. One night, months ago, he was telling me about his mission in Australia (Cantonese-speaking). Among other things, he mentioned that one of his favorite memories involved what they called "TIMTAM SLAMS." He explained that TIMTAMS were Australian cookies. You would carefully take a bite from either end and then use the cookie as a straw in HOT CHOCOLATE. After the cookie melted in the hot chocolate, you would slurp it up. He said that he is fairly positive that all of his weight gain on his mission came from the TIMTAM SLAMS that they enjoyed on a very regular basis. :-) I filed that away very carefully in my mind, along with all of the other stories he has shared with me.
One of the major benefits of attending an International School when you live oversees, is that you are able to build friendships with individuals from all over the world. After you graduate and move one....you then literally have friends EVERYWHERE. Isn't is convenient that one of my dearest friends from the International School of Hamburg HAPPENS to live in Australia?! ;-) (Justin...why is that the ONLY picture you and I have together from ISH is from "Wolf Boy?" Lamesauce. This is one of my faves of Justin [on the far left] with two of my other friends from the International School, Christian and Daniel...from back in the day.)
On a whim, I messaged Justin about a month ago and asked him about TIMTAMS. He immediately knew what I was talking about. I told him about Jeff's fond memories of TIMTAMS and then asked him about the possibility of sending me a few packages for our anniversary. Not only did Justin agree, but he followed through immediately, and the TIMTAMS were ON THEIR WAY from DOWN UNDER just DAYS after our first messages. I can't tell you how excited I was when the TIMTAMS arrived in PERFECT CONDITION 2 weeks ago. And 2 weeks I waited...ANXIOUSLY...to give Jeff his surprise. Which takes us back to last night....
After we looked into what it would take to get both of us registered to vote (which, as you can see above, is very serious business. ROFL!), I got busy preparing our dessert. I am SO COMPLETELY in love with hot chocolate. You HAVE to make it with milk..and you have to have it with whipped cream...and it HAS to be the good rich stuff. Mmmm. Heaven. I purposefully made the milk scalding, so that we would need to let it cool for a minute. :-) And since it needed time to cool (LOL), I mentioned to Jeff that I had a little something for him to open. Oh my heart....I LOVE SURPRISES SO MUCH and doing them for a man whom I also LOVE with all of my heart, is SO AMAZING!! When Jeff opened the poorly wrapped gift and first saw the back side of the envelope with Justin's name and address, he looked a little confused. His face when he saw the TIMTAMS inside of the envelope was worth every penny for shipping...and every day of waiting.
Jeff isn't a "backflips" kind of guy....but he gets that look that says, "Are you serious? Did you really go to that extent for me?".....right before he kisses me (which then communicates any words he has left unsaid). He is so heartfelt...and so grateful. It's perfect.
We didn't waste ANY time. Those TIMTAMS didn't come all this way for nothin'! Jeff proceeded to teach me JUST how to SLAM a TIMTAM. We bit off the corner on one end of the cookie, flipped it over and bit the opposite corner off the opposite end of the cookie and then dipped it down into the hot chocolate. After you sip hot cocoa through the cookie, the bottom completely melts and you hold a spoon under it so you don't lose it in the hot chocolate. Then you push all of the cookie (now completely melted) into your mouth. Love this picture of us enjoying a TIMTAM SLAM. LOL! It looks like we're snuffing whipped cream. LOL! Hilarious.
After I took my first bite of the melted TIMTAM, I couldn't even talk. I am not even kidding. I think I said something like, "Whhhhhhat??? Whhhh.....whhhh...." It was very eloquent, whatever it was. LOL! Oh....wow. I have tried just about every type of quality chocolate....from all over the world. NOTHING....NO CHOCOLATE FROM ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD....compares with a hot and melty TIMTAM. Are you KIDDING me???? WHAT? It was AMAZING. No WONDER Jeff remembers that so vividly. Thank HEAVEN we do NOT have those here in the U.S. They are...wow. And as for the post-TimTam Slam smooches....no words to describe that. ;-)
Many heartfelt thanks to my sweet and amazing friend Justin and his sweetheart Ali (who so thoughtfully made SURE to send the double coated TIMTAMS because of "structural integrity." LOL! Hit it...so awesome ALI!) for being such an amazing help to pull off this very meaningful and memorable surprise for the man I love. LOVE this picture of Justin, Ali and their sweet little baby...taken just for us!!
Before we ended our evening together, we had our nightly snuggle and read a few pages from a book about C.S. Lewis. I cannot for the life of me think of how yesterday could have been any more perfect.
I keep thinking that I couldn't POSSIBLY fall any deeper in love with Jeff than I already am. But every new day, something he says, something he does, the way he looks at me, the way he holds me, the way he understands me, the way we connect....proves that to be wrong. I fall in love with him over and over again.... He is my best friend, truly my soul's mate, my miracle, my Love....my rainbow.
Happy Anniversary Baby!