It all began in the summer of 1998 when I went on a 2 month mission trip to Mexico City with the Spearhead program of the Latin America Mission. I loved the experience so much that I wanted to stay longer. At that point, I was only 4 months away from graduating from college...so it really seemed silly not to finish. So after graduating, and teaching high school Spanish for a semester, I came back to Mexico City in the summer of 1999. After the initial 2 months, I decided to stay for the year.
In the summer of 2000, I was serving as a team leader for the summer program when I met this guy. He had just arrived to Mexico City from Idaho for 2 months...he made an amazing first impression. After knowing him for a day, I told him he was "latoso" which means "pesky" or "pain in the neck." And you guessed it, it was Clay!
Six months later, in January of 2001, Clay and I were headed to Chiapas for our winter assignment. At that point, we weren't allowed to date, so the idea never really crossed our minds. I just thought Clay was an amazing guy. He loved God. He had a servant's heart. He was so amazing...he'd never be interested in a girl like me.
|Baby #3, Levi Benjamin|
|Disney World with Matthew|
That day, as we walked to the market, Clay opened his heart and told me how much he cared for me...and had cared for me since he met me. Here was this guy who I respected so much...and I really was in love with him...and he was declaring his love for me. Just like I had asked God. I was speechless! It was only FOUR days later that we talked about marriage...again, just like I had asked God. It was an amazing moment to see God put together details, and to know beyond a doubt that this was right. And those around us agreed it was right.
One of many reasons that I love him
...he makes me laugh!
See how pesky he is!
In December, Clay was back in Idaho. We were planning to get married in June, one year after "the talk" at the market. But one evening we were talking on the phone and Clay's Mom asked why we were waiting until June to get married. Clay was going to move to Iowa in February and we wouldn't have any accountability. We were about to set ourselves up for a potentially difficult situation in the area of purity.
So we began talking about moving the wedding up. Maybe February? March? Why not Christmas?
What?!? That was only 2 weeks away! I already had my dress...the spaghetti strap dress for the June wedding on the shores of Lake Erie...
I flew to Idaho as soon as Christmas vacation began. I had a week to get to know Clay's family! On Christmas Eve, Clay took me to Locomotive Park and proposed to me...officially. He had designed my wedding ring and used the diamonds from his mom's engagement ring. And his step-dad had made the ring. Nothing could be more special! (And that's the reason why we officially got engaged 5 days before our wedding.)
On December 29, 2001 I walked down the aisle, surrounded by a crowd of people that I hardly knew...or didn't even know! But they all loved me because of their love for Clay.
Eleven years...the adventures, the babies, the vacations, the friends, the countries, the laughter and the tears...and today I can say that I love Clay William Richardson more than I ever thought possible. That pesky guy...he's still a little pesky. And his kids are even more pesky! And I am thankful for each day that I have Clay by my side.
My Best Friend...My Love...and a Wonderful Daddy for our Four Babies!