My dear at this time when endings are uncertain and the unknown taints our hope with question, my thoughts inescapably turn toward flowers; not only because I see so much of them in you, or because some of them can be eaten, but because the Lord has commanded me to pattern my life after them. I love flowers. Their versatility in emotional expression is appropriate everywhere; but, if we value the flowers outward beauty alone we’ll miss the entire purpose of the flower itself. A flower does more than console and congratulate, it teaches one how to live, making me wonder - as I watch the florist cut fresh roses, wrap them and tie them with ribbon, who is arranging who? And what lives, homes and heart will they yet arrange.
At one time or another all lives need arranging. Especially now do I need to remember the lesson of the flowers, to: search inward, reach outward, look heavenward, and to bloom repeatedly.
When I take time at night to examine heart, my desires and my concerns I find it filled with you. It is filled with gratitude for the blessing of being married to such a beautiful person, both physically and in heart. Someone who makes me laugh constantly and aware of what is beautiful in the world. I remember my last time sitting in the Ghana Accra temple celestial room just before I returned home from my mission. I was tired. My hair bleached blond from two years in the African sun. I was the only one in the room. I closed my eyes and began a silent prayer. I prayed that the lord would help me live my life in such a way that I could find you, my wife. Just before I closed my prayer I saw a glimpse, a second of what the future would bring if I lived my life right. I was sitting at a stop light in my car on 1600N 400E in Orem driving west. Next to me was the prettiest girl with wavy brown hair, the most beautiful eyes and captivating smile. We weren’t talking, just quiet and happily holding each other’s hand. It was night time and we were on our way back from my parent’s house to our home in south Orem. I know that girl was you. I think you have been in my heart from the time I was a young boy. I’ll never forget the first time I saw you. I think my heart stopped. I felt this great energy that I had to talk to you. I had to get to know you, even though it was inconsistent with my nature to approach women I didn’t know. I said probably the shortest prayer of my life when I saw you walking toward me, simply I said, as if the prayer connection was already made and God knew I was talking to him, “Help”. You know what happened but the help came. Three years later. Sometime life is like that. I loved how you popped in and out of my life during that time. In between relationships I would creep your facebook awed that god would put someone as beautiful as you on the earth knowing full well that you’d make everyone else look bad. Ironically as much as I curse this war, it is what brought us together. For some reason the war gave me the courage to risk what I had always protected too cautiously-my heart. I decided that I could never live knowing that I hadn’t put everything on the line to be with you, even if it meant getting hurt. I’m so glad I searched my heart and found courage there. Every hour spent on that long dark highway was worth it. If these three short months of being married to you is all I get it was worth it. I thank God every night for you.
A good friend of mine once told me, “ If you ever break down, stop and build a service station”. I have always be amazed at the paradox that the only true way to build one’s self is buy building up others. I wish I could say I was good at this, that I wasn’t selfish, or had a tendency to look for my own benefit first, to make sure my feelings were being regarded and taken care of and not the other person. This is one on my goals over the next seven months: To learn to love others more than myself. I want this because I want to be able to love you better, to care for you better, to treat you as what you are- my wife, my love, my Queen. I have found such great joy I simple acts of service. They help me forget my self, expand my heart, and give me joy where joy is seldom found. Sacrificing a few prized M&Ms rarely found in an MRE to an on-looking Marine nourishes me so much more than if I just ate them. Just as flowers must spread their roots to survive so must we spread our roots into the lives of others. You are a great example of this to me. A person heard sneezing a mile away will hear a faint “bless you”.
Flowers teach us to constantly look to the true Son for light and nourishment. I want share my testimony of him to you. I know he lives, that he walked on this earth performing miracles of healing the sick and lame. But, to me the greatest miracle was the healing of sin. I know the Atonement is real and working. I thank the Lord for his saving grace that takes us farther than we are able to take ourselves. He died so we might live. He broke the bands of death. One of my favorite poems is my John Donne called Holy Sonnet X
Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou thinkst thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow
And soonest our best men with thee do go
Rest of their bones and soul's delivery.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppies or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke. Why swellst thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die!
I love that. There is nothing to fear in death. It is but a doorway. It is part of the plan. It is the only way we can return to be with God again. A prophet has said that God never takes a righteous man before his time. I am so grateful for the restored gospel. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to teach it on the African continent and that I can be an example of its teaching here in the Marine Corps. I know the Book of Mormon is true. I cannot read its words without feeling its power. It has changed my life. My consistency in reading it has always correlated to my consistency in making righteous choices. I have a testimony of the sealing power of the temple. I know that we are the beginning of an eternal family. I love the thought of eternity with you. I know there will be attending angels watching over us during this time. God does hear our prayers. He will come to us in our time or need.
I think sometimes in life we hit a rut and become comfortable. We stop growing and progressing. It is essential for me while in Afghanistan to never become complacent, to never let my physical or my spiritual guard down. I must watch for spiritual enemies just as intently as I will watch for the Taliban. But I wonder which is more dangerous? I fear sin more than the Taliban.
I want you to know you are the love of my life, that these last three months have been the happiest of my entire life. I love you so much. It is eleven hours difference from Utah to Afghanistan so when it is 7PM in Utah it is 6AM in Afghanistan. I will always think of you at that time. I can’t wait to be the father of your children, to raise a family with you, to grow old with you. We have so much ahead of us. The best lies ahead. Let’s go forward in great faith searching inward, reaching outward, looking heavenward, and blooming repeatedly over the next few months. I pray all God’s choicest blessings will attend you while I am away. That heaven will hear your prayers and comfort you heart.
Your missing peace