Ok, our story begins... well, before the beginning of time. Way back when God knew that someday He would create a little baby girl named Clara, and a little baby boy named Philip, and someday He would give them to each other as wonderful gifts. The part of the story that I remember begins long ago, in a land far away. You guessed it. ALASKA. (It must always be written in all caps like that. It is only fitting for such a grand place.) This little girl moved to ALASKA as a 4-year-old, and this is pretty much where my main memory kicked in. I was actually born in ohio (nothing really grand about it, ha ha.) then lived a year or so in California (Definitely deserves at least that much respect. After all, raw milk IS legal there) before heading to the great north. Back in Ohio was a little boy, born just miles from where I was born, and being raised very much the way I was being raised. Except he was in ohio and I was waaaaaay over in ALASKA. (also, please stand whenever you come to this word. I just thought of that.) Now how on earth would we ever meet?? He was a strong, hardworking farm boy and I was a wild mountain woman, wrestling 40-pound salmon and narrowly escaping attacks from moose and bears (sort of true. Sort of.).
I don't remember exactly when I came to this conviction, but sometime in my childhood I started hearing teaching about not dating, about saving your heart for one person, and about praying for your future spouse. I remember it being very real to me that there was one, specific boy out there somewhere, that would one day be the man I would marry. I had no idea who he was, but I fell in love with him. I prayed for him often, and was sure that he would show up in time for me to get married at 18. I had always declared that that's when I was going to get married, and any older than 18 was basically pointless because how could it even be romantic after that? After that it was just kind of old and...gross. Yeah, in retrospect that seems kind of dumb. ;)
I also heard talk about "courtship", which I never, ever liked. I know it's a broad term with many different definitions, but the courtship I always heard about still left room for hearts being given away prematurely and a certain "trying each other out". I wanted to go even more extreme. (They don't call me "Clara the Extreme" for nothing! What do you mean you've never heard me called that?) When I was about 15 or 16, I told my parents: "I want you guys to pick me out a husband. I don't even want to be involved in the process. You know what I like, I trust you." Now, I did take that back at one point, when my mother was saying that she thought that Con Madigan from the show Five Mile Creek was handsome. I thought he was just skinny and dumb looking, so I said to her: "Never mind, you can NOT pick out my husband. You'd probably pick some cowboy in tight jeans", and I'm pretty sure I had a sneer on my face. Someday I would eat those words.
|Con Madigan. NOT what I had in mind.|
Somewhere around this time, my mom encouraged my older sister and brother and I to start writing a list of character qualities that were important for us in a spouse. That way, as she put it, "You won't get swept off your feet by the first good-looking face to come along". It started out as a joke. "Number 1. He must be male. Number 2. He must be good-looking." As time went on, though, I started really thinking of things that were important to me in a man. I would get ideas from the examples of Godly men that I knew. "Patient, good with kids, a leader, close walk with the Lord..." My list grew and grew. Eventually I had over 70 things listed, and someone once told me: "You just watch, as you get older you'll start crossing things off." I found the opposite to be true, though! As time went on, I got more and more picky!
|I can't understand how I didn't have more suitors. I was quite a catch.|
When I was 18, guess what. We left our beloved (but very cold and snowy) ALASKA, and moved back to.... you got it... ohio. We drove through snowstorms in the mountains and arrived in June to record-breaking high temperatures. Yep, nothing gradual about this adjustment. We started going to a church here, where we met a lovely family named the Litterals. Ok, to be totally honest, my first thoughts were not "what a lovely family". I was still suffering from a bit of an attitude towards all-things-ohio (ok, maybe I still am... just a tad ;) ) ... so when I first saw the Litterals' son, who happened to be my age, walk into church, I immediately noticed that he had very cool hair and thought to my bitter little self: "Now HE looks like a jerk". It wasn't long, though, before he totally proved me wrong. Right after church was over, his sisters were over welcoming us, and I noticed that the guy with the cool hair had gone right over and introduced himself to my brothers. We quickly discovered many, many similarities between our families. Over the next few years, the Litteral kids and the Caeton kids did all kinds of things together, and became close friends.
I think the first time anything crossed my mind about me marrying Philip was one night, early on in our friendship. I had a dream, completely out-of-the blue, that our friends from Alaska were coming for a visit. In my dream, Philip went with us to pick them up from the airport, and when they got off the plane, he put his arm around me and said: "See what I got??" I woke up thinking, "WHERE on earth did that come from?!" But I had a weird feeling about it. I couldn't shake the feeling that it meant something. So I prayed about it, and I asked God to show me if it meant something, or if I was just being silly. At this point, I was very determined not to let myself give my heart to the wrong guy, so I did not want to start down this road. I was kind of upset at myself for even having a dream like that. So after I prayed about it, I decided to read some in my Bible. Well, I opened up my Bible and looked down and BAM. The words I read were: "You shall marry one another". Ha! Yes, open-mouthed amazement would probably describe my response. I remember just quickly closing my Bible and totally not knowing what to think. I had read in a book by Isobel Kuhn, that if you think God has given you a verse to tell you something, keep it to yourself until you see it proven out. She warned that satan can also use scripture, so we must be very careful not to take a verse and make a big decision based only on the assumption that it was God speaking to us. So I thought I'd just kind of sit on this one for awhile and see what happened. I was pretty sure I was being clever not to let the devil trick me into falling in love with the wrong guy.
In the meantime, I was still praying for my future husband, and one thing that I always prayed was that, when the right guy came along, God would make it crystal clear to EVERYONE. To our parents, our siblings, even just to the people around us. I didn't know how God would do it, but I knew He could. I also had it in my head, that when the guy proposed, I wanted it to be a TOTAL surprise, and I wanted it to be in front of a bunch of people, and I wanted it to be videotaped. Pretty specific, I know. Pretty weird, too. I know. Some of my friends thought I was crazy: "How on earth do you think this is going to happen?! How would you get to the point where a guy is proposing to you without ever dating or courting anyone??" I really didn't know how, but I was excited to see how God was going to work it out. He is SO much more creative than us. :)
It wasn't long before people started teasing me about Philip, the guy with the cool hair. I always assured people that there was NOTHING going on like that, our families were just friends. I did start noticing, though, that this guy fit an awful lot of the things on my list. I also started noticing that we sure got along well, and I started kind of wishing that he was a girl, so we could be best friends. I loved his sisters, and got along great with them! But I knew that if I let myself, I could REALLY get along great with HIM. I later found out that he had told his dad that he wished I was a guy, because he knew we would be best friends. (We both have since come to terms with the fact that we're opposite genders. We're ok with it now.)
So I woke up on my 23rd birthday, and I was still single. I woke up feeling very old-maidish. I said to my sister Abby: "I can't believe I'm 23 and not married. The only way it's ok to be this old and single is if I was like, a rancher woman or something, and my name was...Dusty." Then I started making up this story about this rancher woman Dusty, who was independent and tough, but still feminine and beautiful, and she was about to lose her ranch, when along came this also-single rancher man, who helped her save her ranch, and they fell in love and got married. The rancher man name that popped into my head was "Marshall Grant". So, that morning, just like that, I became Dusty McPherson, waiting for my Marshall Grant. (I said I was 23. I didn't say I was mature.) It became a big joke, and it wasn't long before all the kids in our homeschool group knew the story and started calling me "Dusty". Eventually the story grew to include a villain named "Slater Malone" and a sheriff named "Malone Slater". I found a cowgirl in a catalog that I thought looked like the perfect Dusty, so I cut out her picture and had it on my wall.
Now, the girls are awake and other responsibilities beckon me. I know, I know... sorry, I'm a Mom first, blogger second. If you want me to finish the story, I need you all to clap your hands together and shout: "I do believe in fairies! I do, I do!" over and over. It won't do any good, but it makes me laugh to picture it.
Ok, actually, if you want to hear the rest of the story (it gets even BETTER from here, I promise!) then FOLLOW MY BLOG, and leave a comment to let me know I'm not just writing to empty air. The more followers and comments I get, the more I'll be motivated to write, ok?? Unless they're comments like "You are a loser. No one cares about your stupid life". That would probably kind of make me not want to ever write again. So please, don't write that. Actually, I just got this really great idea!! When I get 20,000 followers, I will do a giveaway!! There will be a drawing for the winner's choice of a). an arm warmer made by me out of a plastic newspaper bag. I used to make these when I was little, they're really cool. or b). A bookmark made by me. I also used to make these. Come on people! Tell your friends! All 20,000 of them!