Saturday, December 29, 2012

How It All Began...

September 2011
How does a girl from Ohio meet the man of her dreams from Idaho, 2100 miles away? She goes to Mexico, of course! Well, at least that's our story...

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 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
January 2010
In May of 2001 I headed back to Mexico City to work in our mission's office while Clay finished up his winter term in Chiapas. At that time I was trying to determine what the next year of my life would look like. Should I stay in Mexico another year? (Like I really wanted) Or should I return to the States and look for a job? If I went back to the States, could I find a teaching job? If I wanted a teaching job, I couldn't wait until August. So I went back to the States in May and began sending out my resume. To my surprise, a school in Iowa called me 5 days later and offered me a job...a little crazy. No interview. No face-to-face talk. Just a phone call. But I knew it was a God-ordained call, so I accepted the job.

Disney World with Matthew
September 2011
I went back to Mexico to continue working in our mission's office for the summer. And on June 4, 2001 I went to lunch at the market with Clay. It was his birthday, and we had planned a friendly lunch together. I have to admit, I had been praying about this guy since I left Chiapas because I just couldn't stop thinking about him. I had so many feelings for him, but I really didn't want to ruin a good friendship by dating. I prayed so specifically that if God intended something more for us, Clay would initiate the conversation and it would lead to marriage.

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.

January 2012
One of many reasons that I love him
...he makes me laugh!
See how pesky he is!
In August I left Mexico and headed to my new career in Iowa as a high school Spanish teacher. And in September Clay headed to New Zealand for 2 months to hike with his buddy, Trevor. There were many late night (2am) phone calls from NZ, and flowers delivered to my home or classroom.

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...

August 2012
As we talked it over, we got more and more excited about the idea. It really made much more sense. I was already planning on flying to Idaho for Christmas to meet his family. Why not? The deciding factor was if my parents could fly out to Idaho too. I remember getting the call from my mom during school...yes, they would be there. I have to admit, I was a bit absent-minded at that point. Semester exams? Who cares! (I'm sure my students didn't mind too much that I was so flaky!) I'm getting married!

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!


  1. To the love of my life... Tammy Sue, I adore you and feel blessed to be with you. I respect, cherish and am proud you. Thank you for being my friend, wife and companion.